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