Saturday, January 17, 2015

Entertainment center kitchen

E, 6, has always wanted a play kitchen.  I never liked the plastic ones in the big box stores.  I prefer heavy duty wood toys that will last a while.  Enter pinterest.  Years ago I saw an entertainment center repurposed into the most adorable kitchen- I was sold.  It went on the list of things I wanted to make but never got around to it.  This year I made it a point to make it happen.  E was still young enough to enjoy it, C was just getting old enough to enjoy it, and there's a 3rd on the way that will occupy a good chunk of my time very soon.  I enlisted Husband and started scouring local used furniture websites, thrift stores, and resale shops until I found the perfect entertainment center.  It needed to be small enough to not be a room hog, but with 2 small cabinets for a dishwasher/oven, and a door for the fridge.  I found nothing. For months.  Then I found one and it was only $25!!
I was so excited I forgot to take a picture of it before we began. At this point I had already removed the doors off the bottom 2 cabinets, removed the center drawer, removed all hardware, and braced the "counter" with the hole for the sink. But you can get a good idea of where we started.  The shelves on the right side didn't come with a door and my "fridge" needed one.  It was nothing that some plywood and hinges couldn't fix. There are a million tutorials online for these but the basic jist is this- find an entertainment center, cut a hole and add a metal bowl for the sink, paint, seal, add new hardware, fill with play food/dishes, enjoy hours of entertainment. It is an entertainment center after all- bah dum ching! 

Cheesy joke- my apologies. 

I got the dishwasher rack, dishes, apron hanger, and handles at Ikea. The backsplash was leftover from my real kitchen and the 'granite' counter was just a managerie of our wall colors sponged on and sprinkled with glitter.  The "window" is a poster I found online and framed in with trim to look like a window complete with a sill. Here are a few (terrible phone) pictures I took along the journey.  

I still have to add the faucet (which is a plumbing p-trap I painted silver) and the stove burners but it's fine for today.  It's not like I'm 35 weeks pregnant and trying to renovate an entire house or anything. ;)

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Nursery!

Now that #3 is due in just a few weeks (where has the time gone?!), I thought it was time to get the nursery put together. I am in full "nesting" mode. 18 month old, C, and the new baby will share a room since they're so close in age and the 4th bedroom is a playroom in progress. I used the same bedding C had in our old house but changed the wall color this time around.  Back when I was pregnant with C I found this great purple, aqua, lime pinwheel fabric and used that as my inspiration. It screamed fun and playful without much baby-ness. It was a print that would grow with her for a while. I got the majority of the room together in a day.  I swear Husband is going to have me committed one of these days and I'll have no chance to prove I'm not crazy.  I literally woke up Friday morning, knowing our friends would be arriving that evening to visit for the weekend, and said "I think I'll tear apart and redo C's room today." They called to let me know they were 5 minutes away and I was just packing up my tools. But it happened! The room is *almost* done.  Done enough that I can share pictures.  I have a huge round faux polar bear fur rug en route and pictures yet to hang.  

For the walls, I used the same gray that is in many of the first floor rooms.  The harsh coolness of it against the warm hardwood floors, dark furniture, and bright colors really looks nice.  The valance was up and needed a little uumph.  I found super cheap sheer panels from Ikea to soften the edges of the window.  

So without further adieu- here it is!

This is what it looked like before: beige walls with a ton of holes with a mint and mossy green closet. 

Update! A week after I posted this, the rug came in! I found a seller on etsy who makes faux fur rugs- and it is PHENOMENAL!!! It's soft, with a suede-like backing, full of long fur, and apparently washable. I can't attest to that part yet. I did pop it in the dryer for a few seconds to fluff the creases out and it tolerated that well.  As you can see from the photo, it's a big hit. Such a big hit that I have been trying for an hour to get a picture of her room without her on the rug and finally gave up. 


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Exterior update

This winter, Husband and I decided to redo the exterior of the house.  The house was originally baby blue and a previous owner had painted the vinyl siding a color we have heard referred to as "dirty salmon." 
The original plan was to paint the siding but once we began power washing it, the orangey paint started peeling off.  As odd as the color was, it actually worked with the stone chimney as the stones have oranges in them. We chose to pull the grout color from the chimney and use that as the new siding color. In addition, we opted for the larger 6" wide beaded siding as opposed to the traditional thin slats.  For the roof, we went for an architectural shingle with a dark, warm charcoal color and red flecks.  This coordinated with the warm tones from the stone. Windows were our final venture this month.  Instead of the traditional windows with grates, we went with sliders.  This maximized the glass surface area and allowed for a cleaner, more modern look. The views from this house are far too pretty to be cluttered with grates.  Our dining room used to have a sliding glass door that we lovingly referred to as "the door to nowhere" as it literally led to nothing.  
We had several options. On the left side of the picture you can see where the back porch ends.  That part of the porch will be screened in on the top half and have siding along the bottom half.  We could have extended that porch down 10 more feet to meet up with the door.  This was a bad option. It would have been costly as we'd have to extend the roof too.  Also, it would have covered 1 of the 3 basement windows that falls directly below the door.  That option was nixed.  The only other option was to make it a window.  We didn't need a door there as 15 feet to the left of it are French doors that lead to the back porch and 25 feet to the right are sliding glass doors that lead to the pool patio.  It was redundant as a door.  Window option won.  The windows guys built a short knee wall and installed a massive window.  It's perfect.  At some point it'll get mudded, trimmed, and painted but that's just not today.  

Here are the befores and afters. 
Once spring comes with green grass and newly planted flowers, this place will look a million times better. In fact, I just ordered all of my seeds for my garden and many of the flowers I want to grow. I'm still looking for a short, bushy, colorful border flower/ leaf for my beds.  At this point I'm thinking sweet potato vines and petunias but if you have any other ideas- please share! :) 

We saved all the old windows and are hoping to turn them into a greenhouse this spring- not sure if that project will be a success or not but it's worth a try! 

Egg nog creme brûlée with separate sugar crusts

For the last month I've had massive cravings for eggnog.  It's Christmas time and completely understandable- except I've never actually tried eggnog before! I googled some recipes and wasn't thrilled with what was in homemade eggnog. They irked me and made my nose wrinkle but my absolute favorite winter flavor combination is vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  That's something I can get on board with.  I again hit up my google machine and came across this recipe for eggnog creme brûlée:

I made it exactly as written with a few small changes. I doubled the nutmeg, added 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon into the simmering cream/milk/eggnog mixture. Spoiler: It was delicious!!! 

And because I don't trust my broiler to broil anything evenly I had to come up with a plan for the absolutely necessary sugar crust. 

I figured I'd try and make the crusts separately and just set them on the chilled custard. Surprisingly- it worked. These would be a great addition to stick into creme brûlée ice cream or cupcakes too.  

So here's how I did it. 

While the creme brûlée was cooling I searched my cupboards until I found a glass whose bottom was slightly smaller than my 3.5 oz foil custard cups.
Then I took squares of heavy duty tin foil and buttered them using a paper towel and room temperature butter.
I inverted them onto the glass bottom, butter side down and formed the tin foil around the glass.

Side note: I made some with the shiny side buttered and others with the matte side buttered. It made no difference.

Remove the foil cup from the glass and pop it into a casserole for easy transporting. 
Add some sugar (I used 1 tablespoon per cup) and shake the whole pan to level out the sugar.  If you don't shake it you will have mounds of raw granulated sugar with carmelized sugar over it and burnt sugar around the edges- go ahead, ask me how I learned that...

Then pop them under a broil and watch carefully. 
Eventually then will all be melted and beginning to darken. Pull them out and let them cool in the pan for a few minutes. Once mine were set up and still hot, I moved them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once ready to use, slowly peel back the foil, pop them out, and set them atop your perfectly cooked and cooled creme brûlée.
Worked like a charm and so SO delicious.