Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Projects in Review & My Top (favorite) Project

I have only been blogging since August so I don't have a slew of amazing projects to share like so many of you. But, as I look back over the past 5 months there are a few projects that I really enjoyed doing....

My oak kitchen make-over is by far my "top" or most favorite project of 2010. 

This is how my kitchen used to look - yucky oak, ugly green counter tops, and unfinished space under the oven.

This is how my kitchen looks now - all fresh and creamy white, granite counter tops and an actual door under the oven!

This is my island before the make-over - pretty, huh???  (NOT!)

And this is my island now - same piece with new top (longer than before), corbels added, new hardware and all decked out in distressed black paint with copper glazing.  Love it!!

You can read about my total oak kitchen makeover here.

My other favorite projects of 2010 (in no particular order) are below:

Guest bedroom turned into "Family Heritage Room", a place for our over-night guest to learn more about our family history.  You can read about it here.

Old Clock turned into picture frame (find post here). 

Drab to fab candlesticks (with WalMart vases added!).  
You can read the post here

Old silverware box turned into beautiful serving utensil storage.  
Read all about it here.  

Brass candlesticks made-over + sheet music candles.
(The post can be found here.)

I am linking this post to Rhoda's Top Projects of 2010 link party over at Southern Hospitality.  Go on over and check the party out and while you are there check out Rhoda's amazing blog!!

Happy New Year y'all!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Book Page Wreath

I finally did it - I made a book page wreath!!  I have wanted to for a long time, even started once by wrapping my wreath form in muslin strips.  But now, it is done!  Just in time for Christmas!!

I hung it over the entertainment center in the red room - my little TV / sitting room right off the kitchen.  I love the way it pops off my old, faded dying to be ripped off red wallpaper.

I paired it with these sheet music candles I made last month.  I love the way the sheet music and the old dictionary pages of the book wreath compliment each other!

 And I added these cute little girls just because they make me happy!

Don't their cute little faces just make you smile?  I have had these forever and can't even imagine parting with them!

And it just wouldn't seem right not to include some old tarnished silver and shiny Christmas balls.  I used to hate tarnish and I kept my silver trays and bowls behind closet doors - now I actually like the aged look of tarnished silver.  (Do you think that is weird??)

My sitting room (affectionately known as the "red room" around here) is too small to have a lot of decorations, but I am very pleased with the way this little vignette turned out. 

Thanks for stopping by!

I am linking this to:

Savvy Southern Style's BTB Party here
Someday Craft's Whatever Goes Wednesday Party here
Trendy Treehouse's Creative Share Blog Hop here 

Texas Millionaire Candy - a Hamilton Family Christmas Tradition!

This year, like the past 26, we are making Texas Millionaire candy for our Christmas gatherings. It's really not a hard thing to do but it is no job for sissies either. So if you are afraid to get your hands coated with gooey caramel or to have chocolate running down the front of your shirt and crushed pecans all over your kitchen floor, I suggest you steer clear of Texas Millionaire making. 

Now this is a recipe I normally hold close to my heart but this year, in the spirit of Christmas giving, I have decided to share it with you. So, here we go...

Ingredients:  for a single batch, that will make around 70 pieces, you will need the following:
  • 2 lbs of caramel (from candy store, I uses Peters, aka Nestle)
  • 2 TBS milk (I use half and half, it makes it creamier!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups chopped pecans (I buy them already chopped, its easier!)
  • 4 cups milk chocolate (I buy in 2 lb bags then measure it out)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate (same as above)
  • wax paper
  • Pam spray
  • candy papers (we use gold - it is so "rich" looking!)

The first thing you need to do is cover your countertops (or kitchen table) with wax paper and give it a light coating of Pam.  This is where you will be dropping your candy and trust me, you will be moving fast so if you skip this step you will be sorry!

Cut your caramel into roughly 1 inch square pieces and place into microwave safe bowl.  Add  milk and heat on high for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave and stir, even though it will look like nothing happened.  Repeat this process until caramel is smooth and creamy like this...

Working fast (before the caramel cools) stir in vanilla. 

Then gradually add nuts.  This is where hubby comes in - this stuff is HARD to stir!!!  Don't give up, keep on stirring until it is all mixed together.

Using 2 spoons drop caramel and nut mixture onto the wax paper.  We have learned this is much easier if you spray the front and back of each spoon with Pam, then use one to scoop up a spoonful candy and the other to "rake" it off the spoon.  The caramel will "set" fairly fast so you have to work quickly.

Now it's time for chocolate! Mix the milk and semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt in 30 second increments just like you did the caramel, being sure to completely stir each time you take it out of the microwave.  Once the chocolate is all melted it's time to begin coating the caramel and nut candy pieces.

The best way we have found to cover the candy in chocolate is to throw several pieces in the bowl of melted chocolate then use a fork to turn each piece and remove it back to the wax paper.  As you do this shake the excess chocolate off into the bowl.  Again, you will need to work fast because the chocolate is cooling and will begin to thicken.  If it gets too thick to you can microwave the chocolate for another 30 seconds but be careful not to "cook" it.

 This is a close up of my candy - you can see I am not the neatest girl when it comes to making candy!!

At this point you can take a well deserved break and let the chocolate set (aka dry). You can leave the candy out for up to an hour but we normally let it set about 30 minutes before moving on. Your candy is officially ready for packaging now!  We like to wrap each piece of candy in gold foil candy papers (purchased from our local candy supply store), but you can just layer between wax paper in an airtight container if you prefer.

Here is our candy all dressed and ready!  Little red bags of 5 pieces each for the girls in dear hubby's office, a plate for my walking buddy and a mound of extras to serve guest on Christmas eve!

WARNING:  Adopting this tradition creates demanding friends and family members that will begin asking you before Thanksgiving when you are making the "Christmas Candy".  Just tonight my husband's brother called to make sure we would have the candy on Christmas eve!

Below is a recap of the recipe (without pictures) that you can copy and paste into a word document if you would like:

Texas Millionaires (makes about 70 pieces)

2 LB caramel candy, cut into small pieces
2 TBS milk (or half and half)
4 Cups chopped pecans
4 Cups milk chocolate candy pieces
2 Cups semi-sweet chocolate candy pieces
2 Tsp vanilla
Wax paper
Pam cooking spray
Foil Candy wrappers (optional)

  • Cover counter-tops or kitchen table with wax paper then spray lightly with Pam
  • Melt caramel & milk together in microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir, and repeat until caramel is smooth and creamy.
  • Stir in vanilla and nuts (add nuts gradually).  Mixture will be very thick and hard to stir.
  • Drop onto wax paper using 2 teaspoons (one to scoop, one to scrape).
  • Melt chocolate in microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until all chocolate is melted.  Do not overcook chocolate!
  • Drop caramel & Nut candy into chocolate a few pieces at a time making sure to coat both sides.  Remove with fork back to wax paper.
  • Let candy sit until chocolate sets (about 30 minutes).  Then, wrap each piece in foil candy paper or layer between wax paper in an airtight container.

 Merry Christmas!!!

I am linking to:

Remodelaholic's Recipe Party here
Today's Creative Blog's Get Your Craft On Party here
Sugar Bee's Take a Look Tuesday Party here
Trendy Treehouse's Creative Share Blog Hop here
Someday Crafts' Whatever Goes Wednesday Party here 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shhh.... An Early Christmas Surprise for Hubby!

Tonight while my sweet husband was working late at the office I was working hard to create a surprise for him - a display box to hold a few of his grandfather's (Paw Paw's) fishing lures.  I figure it can be an early Christmas present (to butter him up before my new Silhouette SD arrives in the mail!)

It all started with this little case I purchased at a yard sale in Decatur last month.  As soon as I saw the little hangy hooks inside I knew it would make the perfect lure display case.

It was originally purchased at TJ Maxx for $16.99 - so at only $5 I knew it was my kind of bargain! 

It was really in great shape but a little too white & "new looking" for me.  So, I removed the door, pulled out my 150 grit sanding sponge and went to work roughing up the edges a little to give it that distressed look that makes my heart go pitter patter.

Then I grabbed my trusty decorating companion - Valspar Mocha Glaze, and started slathering it on the case.  After letting it sit just a minute or two I wiped off the excess with an old rag, leaving it darker in the crevices and on the edges.  Then I let it dry (I HATE this part!!)

While I was impatiently waiting for the glaze to dry I pulled out the box of cherished lures.  Just the smell of the little boxes inside reminded me of how old the lures are.  I picked out six that I thought would look good in the case.

After arranging the lures in the case I made myself a cup of Earl Grey tea and sat and stared at my new creation - I couldn't wait for hubby to come home and see!

Before hanging it in his "man cave" I sat it on the kitchen counter just to get this shot - I know lures are a manly kind of thing but I just think those little fake fish are adorable!

And here it is hanging on the wall underneath the first big fish yours truly ever caught!  I really, really hope he likes it!

Sorry my pictures are not the greatest in this post - I got a new camera and I am still learning out to use it!

Thanks for stopping by!

I am participating in the following parties:

Transformation Thursday @ The Shabby Chic Cottage 
Strut Your Stuff Thursday @ Somewhat Simple 
Under $100 Linky Party @ Beyond the Picket Fence 
Get Your Craft on Thursday @ Life as Lori


Sunday, November 28, 2010

PB Knock-off Candle & Candlestick Re-do

A quick and easy Sunday morning makeover - just what I was looking for on this cold day in the south!

It all started when I first saw these sheet music candles in the Pottery Barn catalog:

I knew immediately I wanted to do something similar at home.  So...

I pulled these old ugly brass candlesticks out of my garage sale stash and got to work transforming them into updated ORB candlestands for my soon-to-be-made sheet music candles.  I began by rubbing them down with lacquer thinner to give them a good cleaning and to remove any existing top coat.  

I then gave them a couple of good coats of Krylon Oil Rubbed Bronze (ORB) paint...

And then removed the little taper candle cups from the top by simply unscrewing them and replacing the bolt. 

Next I downloaded the sheet music in wide format from here
per instructions I found on Can't Stop Making Things blog here.
I didn't care for the white background so I pulled the sheet music picture into Corel Paint Shop Pro and changed the background to a slightly yellow color.  I then "squished" the picture a little to make it shorter but left the width in tact.  I printed two copies of the sheet music out onto plain paper, trimmed to the size I needed and used two sided tape to attach them to my two white pillar candles.

Because the bolt left in the middle of each candleholder kept the candles from sitting level I used the end of my trusty potato peeler to carve out a little indention in the center of each candle (aren't we fellow bloggers resourceful!). 

I tied a red ribbon around each candle and woo-lah... I now have two sheet music candles on garage sale candlestands all decked out for Christmas!

I am going to link these up to the following parties:

Its So Very Cheri's Party Time
Under the Table and Dreaming's Sunday Showcase Party
  Domestically Speaking's Countdown to Christmas Party

The DIY Show Off

Cottage Instincts' Make it 4 Monday
Keeping it Simple's Motivate me Monday
Making the World Cuter Monday  

Coastal Charm's Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays
The Girl Creative's Just Something I Whipped Up-Holiday Style!
Savvy Southern Style's Boring to Better Party

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Table & Dining Room Tour

I am a little late with this post but I wanted to share my Thanksgiving table with y'all.  I went pretty simple this year because I was lazy & cheap because I wanted to use items I already had on hand.

Our dining room is rather large because it used to be a two car garage.  That's ok, I love the size and I can usually accommodate our entire family in one room by setting up an additional table.  This year I used my new drop leaf table  I found at an antique shop here in Huntsville as my 2nd table.

This is our main table.  I used a simple white tablecloth and draped three burlap squares with fringed edges over it.  I sat 10 at this table and 4 at the drop leaf table in the corner.

I really wanted to buy woven chargers at Pottery Barn (be still my heart!) but at over $10 each I opted for these from Walmart instead.  I like the texture they add to the table and I love the fact that at only $2 each my budget wasn't blown before I even bought the turkey!  I used my Lenox Eternal china  plates (which left my china cabinet kind of bare) and my Reed & Barton Country French flatware.  I don't own real silverware so I reserve my best flatware for special occasions.

For added color I placed a could-of-been-better-ironed red napkin under each plate and some red silk sunflower blooms to the gourd centerpiece to tie it all together. 

I found these large glass hurricanes at a thrift store and placed them over my milk glass candleholders and on top of a salad plate. I love to find treasures like this at thrift stores!!!

Oh how I wish I didn't have to use card table chairs at my second table!  One day I will have extra real wood chairs!  This is our 2nd table all decked out for four.  I didn't want it to look just like the big table so I used this plaid tablecloth and tied it to the big table with the gourd centerpiece set on top of a brown charger.  The sconces on the wall behind the table are another thrift market find.  At only $4 each I thought they were a bargain!

You can see the centerpiece a little better in this picture. Gourds and pumpkins just scream FALL to me!

Now for the rest of the dining room...

I love this oil painting I bought from a dear friend. Don't you just want to walk right into that vineyard and eat some grapes?  (Better yet, take a bottle of wine and plop down on a picnic blanket and just enjoy the scenery!!)

Up until a few days ago there was just a big blank spot where these 4 frames are hanging now.  It took me a long time to find something interesting to hang there!  Then I came across an OLD family letter - dated 1893 written by my husbands great, great, great grandfather to his son - and I knew I wanted to display it!  So, into the attic I went and found these 4 simple frames, I scanned the 4 sides of the letter and framed each one.  I could not be happier with the final look!

This is a close up of the first page of the letter.  I think it is amazing that it survived 117 years!

This little side table sits to the left of the windows, on the opposite side from where the framed letter hangs.  I really am not in love with this table but for now it will have to do!  I DO love this set of lidded apothecary jars I bought at Costco several years ago - they are so versatile!

This picture was taken looking across the dining room table towards the wall with windows.  I had the window treatment custom made many years ago and while I still love the toile I would like to update them with some panels.  So many things I want to do... so little time and money to do them with!! (Am I alone with this thought???)

So that's our Thanksgiving table and our dining room tour.  Thanks for stopping by - y'all come back soon!

I am participating in the following link parties:

French Country Cottage's Feathered Nest Friday here
The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday here
Chic on a Shoestring's Flaunt it Friday here