Our first few days in Wisconsin

We’ve been here almost a whole week and it has been busy, busy, busy. We did not bring any major furniture – sofa, dining set, beds – so we’ve got a card table and folding chairs as our dining / gaming area, and a very, very glamorous home theater set up:

My awesome husband bought me Mockingjay, Part 1, so I now having it the background as I finish setting up the kitchen. We’ve been eating microwavable food after eating on the road for a week, so more homemade meals, even a bowl of our favorite oatmeal, has been a treat.

Speaking of the kitchen, the set up is different than at our old house, and putting up a pot rack as we had is not an option here, so we’re exploring various solutions.


There is a sliding door about two feet to the right of that lower cabinet, which might be the perfect place for some wine and stemware storage. I love the mix of the traditional dark cherry wood and modern brushed nickel / steel, my husband added the pulls and knobs a couple of days ago, so I will be looking for something like this in a bar cabinet.

Have a wonderful week!

Nomad Flower collection at World Market

I was recently lucky enough to win a $50 card from World Market. I took a couple of days to browse before choosing what to buy, and in the end I was charmed by their new Nomad Flower collection.

Isn’t it lovely? I have wanted to purchase a cake stand for a while but I am glad I waited. The colors are beautiful, bold and vibrant, and the collection also includes mugs and bowls.

I also picked up two of the mugs, the ones with olive green and teal handles, and a set of oasis green buffet napkins. The green goes very well with the greens in the Nomad Flower collection, and I had wanted a set of olive green napkins for a while.

My boys love plain vanilla flavored cake. They don’t even need frosting 😀 I made some cake for them today and my oldest, who is not into home decorating at all, told me how pretty the pedestal was. I agree. It will come in handy all spring and summer, for Mother’s Day, even Christmas since it has reds and greens, Valentines Day, etc. I’m so glad I had the chance to get these pieces for my home.

Stencils + Sharpies = Lovely Dish Towels

A few weeks ago I bought a set of stencils for super cheap. I think it was $3 or so. Mainly because the front stencil was of a fleur-de-lis, of course. I started on a flour sack towel I had leftover from another project.

I was pretty happy with my first effort and since our new range has a handle for towels on the oven door, that’s where this pretty towel went:

I also love the look of Moroccan tiles, so I chose the stencil that looked most like a similar tile to me:

I did these in the dark red color and really like them:

I just eyeballed it and didn’t measure the spacing or center, it was my first try and I just wanted to see how this went — and I’m really happy with the results. A super easy craft, under $5 per towel. Incidentally, I saw a deal on Tuesday of two towels for $35, with the same image as I used on my first flour sack towel project. Pretty crazy, huh?

Have a great weekend!

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Rachel Khoo times two

My latest girl crush and cooking inspiration is Rachel Khoo, star of The Little Paris Kitchen, a show documenting her cooking adventures in a tiny kitchen in the Belleville district of the French capital. The Little Paris Kitchen was also the name of the smallest restaurant in Paris, a table in Rachel’s apartment where she delighted many guests with laid-back food, as she says, “as Parisians cook and eat.”

I recently got her book and have been drooling over the delicious recipes included. and was planning on attempting one when suddenly, our stove died. The oven, to be more precise. We had had problems with the microwave before and since it was all one unit, once the oven died, we decided to replace it.

Here is our old range, a.k.a. Carol Brady:

Two levels, just like Carol’s haircut 😀 dependable, but showing its age. Also, not having to do with Carol Brady at all, but apparently ti was also illegal, since the microwave and stove were too close together, which meant we could never stir a pot of pasta in the back, and there was a gap between the top of the microwave and the bottom of the cabinet, which was built for a modern-sized range and microwave.

Once we took out the range and microwave and slid in the new stove, a.k.a. Rachel Khoo II 😀 a little detail became clear:

When we re-painted the kitchen last year, we decided not to paint behind the range unit because “it’s not like we’re ever going to move it”. Mm-hmm.

Instead of painting, though, we decided on a decorative touch, using something I had seen at Lowe’s and had been wanting to try:

We did not want to cover the entire perimeter of the kitchen with these tiles, but instead, just add a little pop of sparkly goodness (and cover up all that red!). My awesome husband did all the installing, although we will be having an electrician run a new line for the microwave since it uses more wattage than the old one.

I am so looking forward to making recipes from Ms. Khoo’s cookbook on our new range. Easy, affordable, laid-back, no-pressure French cooking? Count me in! And let’s just hope the refrigerator doesn’t decide to kick the bucket any time soon!

A bit of fall in the kitchen

Last week I decided to bring some autumnal bits and bobs into our kitchen.

I purchased some lovely mums destined for some baskets we have hanging outside the front door — aren’t these gorgeous?

These red cup and spoon measures were much needed, we have had the same measuring cups and spoons forever, are, in fact, missing a few, and a couple are even cracked, so I got these super cheap ones at WalMart, and love the pop of color they bring:

Those plastic bins with handles are from the Container Store, but HELLO!!! I just found similar (i.e. practically the same) bins at a Daiso store — sort of a Japanese dollar store, except most things are $1.50 — and I bought three there. If they have more next time, I will be getting some more because I love them.

Snack bowls in chartreuse are stacked on the lower shelf – these don’t go in the microwave but are so useful for quick after-school snacks:

My morning coffee tray is ready so waking up goes as smoothly as possible 😀

My dear friend J got me hooked on Torani Sugar-Free Salted Caramel syrup – so good! My usual Vanilla and Hazelnut are taking a break for now.

I also got a mat for the area in front of the sink and my feet are loving it while I do dishes, but it didn’t make for a very exciting photo, ha!

The dining room is getting fall-i-fied soon!!

Pretties in the dining room

My love affair with Paper Source is never ending. Their Cavallini paper is my favorite “cheap art” and it has graced numerous frames throughout the house. This time, our newly-painted dining room got some pretty prints to jazz it up.

My beloved Eiffel Tower anchors a corner next to the sliding doors.

Above one of the hutches, two vintage-looking prints become a focal point:

Our kitchen and dining room are very rustic and very, very far from modern, so I thought these prints, with their old-fashioned images and desserts from yesteryear, would fit in very well. Hope you like this little update!

Embellished kitchen towels

Recently I saw a fabulous idea for a craft – embellishing plain kitchen towels with Sharpies! Heather at Setting for Four came up with this super easy, super awesome craft. All you need is some Flour Sack towels, a Sharpie, and whatever image or text you want to copy onto the towel. I printed a few from the Graphics Fairy, but if you’re better than me at Photoshop you can always create your own graphic.

I decided to make two of the towels using a metallic bronze Sharpie. This color is great, and gave my towel a very vintage look.

As Heather explains in her tutorial, you can see through the towel fairly well so it’s easy to follow along.

Here are the two towels I made with the bronze color:

As much as I loved the look, I could only find the bronze color in the regular fine tip marker, not the super fine size, so I was not able to add some of the more detailed elements of the graphic. I did, however have a super fine tipped-Sharpie in black, so I went to town on this towel.

And forty-five minutes later I decided perhaps I’d been overambitious. It took longer than I had planned for, with all the detail and shading, but I do love the finished product.

Here are my three towels:

Now, I must admit, I have about 25 different ideas in mind for these towels. I LOVE how generous they are in size, how soft the cotton is, and truly, the possibilities are endless — pillowcases? cafe curtains? kids’ artwork-embellished towels?

I have a feeling I am going to be buying a ton of Sharpies in the near future. Thank you Heather, for this awesome craft!

Dining Room & Kitchen Makeover – part 1

We loved our red walls.

Our red walls were so awesome.

There was just one teensy little problem. A complete lack of light coming into the kitchen and dining rooms.

See where the pots are hanging?

That’s where the big window used to be, looking out onto the backyard, with lots of natural light coming in. But a previous owner decided to add a room there – which is now the playroom/office. I know it looks like light is coming in to the kitchen, but the truth is, every single light has been turned on. The two kitchen lights, the dining room lights, the playroom lights, and I took the picture on a very sunny day (July of last year).

It didn’t help that the other source of natural light – the doors to the side yard, were shadowed by our pear and avocado trees, which we are NOT parting with.

Again, it looks bright and sunny here but every light was turned on.

Over the last few months we came to the realization that we could spend more years turning the lights on just to do dishes, because it really is that dark in the kitchen, or we could replace the red and help things along by installing some canned lighting.

We didn’t want to go back to the dreary off white that we found when we moved in:

We love warm, cozy colors – so off we went in search of a color we liked. It turns out there were two.

This is Valspar’s Cafe, a warm, creamy shade.

My husband wanted to try a sponging finish with a slightly darker color, so I chose Warm Buff, also by Valspar.

He did two walls so if we didn’t like the result, we could paint them over and start again. However, we both loved the finished look so we worked until late at night to get the painting done. We also made some minor changes and are still in the process of figuring out some final details, but we love the change. We went from this:

to this:

Some more views:

Already so much brighter and lighter, my dining room and kitchen no longer feel like such a cave! And I love that we can still have red accents around, but the neutral walls are open to so many colorways.

Now we are working on Canned lighting:

In fact, my husband is up in the attic as I type 😀

I hope your weekend is a wonderful one!
Weekend Bloggy ReadingPositively Splendid

Delicate ornamentation

My friend K recently gave me these gorgeous little ornaments – aren’t they sweet?

They are laser cut wood and very delicate and pretty. I debated whether to spray paint them but decided to leave them in their beautiful natural state and just added a little rhinestone for bling.

I hung them above the entry from the living room to the kitchen, since the red background would make them pop.

I spent A LOT of time in the kitchen watching dishes so I can just look up and see these beauties.

Some of them twirl back and forth and look so lovely.

Thank you Kat — I love you and my ornaments!!!

Our 2011 Thanksgiving

Our thanksgiving lunch went beautifully; Steve and I planned, made lists, set up a schedule, and with some help from our family, we had a great time.  I printed the menu and set it up in the dining room:

My father-in-law showed up early — he was in charge of the turkey — and also helped out with the rest of the cooking. He and my oldest had a blast peeling potatoes:

Soon my boy was a potato peeling expert!

I had told my husband that I’d seen (can’t remember where!) an idea to use a wreath as a centerpiece and he came up with this:

Isn’t that cool?

Soon the rest of the family showed up and we started doing the oven-revolving-door dance. Dishes would go in, in twos and threes, and something yummy would come out. Soon our dining room table looked like this:

This was about half of the food we made. The wine took up one of the hutches ;D and the desserts people brought took up another.

Here is some of my wonderful family.

The little cups hold the butternut squash bisque, which was DELICIOUS – Steve made it from scratch and I am so happy there is some left over, because I’m having some of it for lunch!

One of my favorite moments was when we all shared what we were grateful for and my oldest said he was grateful for “the colors of autumn”, I thought that was so unusual and sweet.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, and if you don’t celebrate it, then I hope today is a great Friday and I wish a wonderful weekend for everyone! I’m going to leave you with the menu we had for our Thanksgiving Lunch.

Weekend Bloggy Reading