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Monday, October 31, 2011

Traveling Pictures Framed



I hope you all had wonderful weekends.  I also hope that those of you who received snow and had power outtages are safe, sound, and warm.

The picture above is of some basic black frames I found for the travel pictures I shared with you all last week. 
 
I have nothing against black frames (I own several!), but I want to spice up the entryway and give it a burst of color.  So I decided to paint the frames yellow.  I wasn't completely sure what shade of yellow I wanted to use, but when I went to the arts and crafts store, I found a yellow that intrigued me.  Yes, I was intrigued by a can of yellow spray paint.  Actually, it's called 'Bauhaus Gold.'
 


Bauhaus Gold turned out to be everything I'd dreamed it would be.  After I sprayed on the first coat of paint, I was satisfied. Not only was I satisfied with the color, but I was satisfied with the look.  One coat of paint left the frames looking a little aged--which I like.  The pictures are of places that are ancient, aged, and worn, and in my opinion that's what makes them even more beautiful.  So I didn't want the frames to look brand new.

Here's a close-up of one of the frames to give you a better idea of the outcome:

 
I'm happy with them and can't wait to hang them up! What do you think?






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Friday, October 28, 2011

Oh! The Places You'll Go!

 "You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care. About some you will say, 'I don’t choose to go there.' With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air."
- Dr. Seuss, Oh! The Places You'll Go!

I can't help but to smile every time I read a Dr. Seuss quote and the one above is from one of my favorite books that he wrote.

I've been a bit under the weather for the last couple of days so I haven't had a lot of energy to do much of anything, but I'm eager to share a project that I've been working on in the entryway of our home. 

My husband and I love to travel.  We've done quite a bit of international traveling over the years and we've both been very blessed to be able to do so thus far in our lives. Unfortunately, most of those trips have happened apart from one another.  Don't worry, we're planning to change that pattern. 

Well, I had an idea of finding some pictures that we took on our different trips, putting them in black and white, blowing them up to 11x14 size prints, and hanging them in our entryway.  What better place to hang memories of the places we've been or plan to return than where we enter and leave your home?  I didn't use pictures of every country or city we've visited (that would be nearly impossible), but I chose 4 pictures to represent some pretty memorable voyages we've taken in the last 3 years. 

So all of these photos are now 11x14s and ready to be hung on the wall.  Did I mention that with a special deal, I was able to get the prints 50% off?  Trying to stay thrifty.
 
Here's a bigger look at the pictures I used for the project. Oh, and these were all taken with basic digital cameras- pretty cool, huh?


Scott visited Greece with friends after he returned from a deployment.  He said it was absolutely beautiful!  I have other family members who've been and I'd love to visit someday soon.

I had the chance to return to Paris, France with my in-laws before they were my 'in-laws.'  My mother-in-law treated myself and my sisters-in-law to a trip to Paris a few months before Scott and I got married. Amazing, right??  It was an incredible trip that I'll always cherish and remember!
Scott visited Egypt just a few months before the revolutions began.  Look at this picture he took!  I had a hard time deciding which would be more representative of Egypt, a Sphinx or a pyramid.  And then I saw this picture and smiled--he got them both in one shot!

My mom, an aunt, and my sisters went on a trip to Prague when we lived in Belgium.  I was a little too young to make the trip with them at that time and always wished I had been able to go.  Well, while visiting my brother in Germany this past summer, I finally got to visit Prague!  It's a beautiful city!


In the words of Dr. Seuss, "Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!"  Where have you been or where are you planning to go?  Please feel free to share!

Stay tuned to see how these will be hanging in the entryway.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Red Velvet Cake From Scratch

The final product of my cake from scratch.


Hey Everyone,

As I mentioned in my post last week, I wanted to make a cake from scratch.  And the cake of choice was a red velvet cake!  Sure, I've made cakes before (mostly from boxes) and I did make a lot of carrot cakes and cheesecakes from scratch while I was in high school (over 10 years ago!).  But for some reason, a red velvet cake was the ultimate challenge for me.

While discussing my plan with my mom, she shared that her first cake from scratch was a red velvet cake--amazing, huh?  But I don't feel like I 'discovered' red velvet cake until I was in college, so you can imagine my amazement when my mom shared this information with me.  The first thing that crossed my mind was:  "Why did you keep this secret from me in my formative years??"  But then I thought a little more and decided that it was probably for my own protection.

So I got to work on the cake yesterday and took the goods to a Bible study function last night.  I think it turned out a little dry and I'm not completely sure why.  Although, I did have a slight mishap with the buttermilk.  But the flavor was there and  a lot of people liked it and I'm so happy they did.  I was talking to another girl there and she told me that she'd never tried red velvet cake before.  I told her she may not want to make this one the first one she's ever tried and taint her red velvet cake experience, or she should try it and her red velvet cake experiences will only get better!  All-in-all, I'm really pleased with the outcome my first attempt at this cake.  I'm excited to keep working on it to make it tastier and tastier--oh, and a little moister too! 

Here's a look at piece of the cake: 

A slice of the cake

The recipe came from FoodNetwork.com.  Here it is: 

Red Velvet Cake: 

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for the pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
  • Crushed pecans, for garnish

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
  3. Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
  4. Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. 
  5. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. 
  7. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
  8. Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Steps
  1. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  2. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally).  **My Favorite Part:  like spatula to make sure it tastes right**
  3. Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake
 
Recipe Courtesy of Sara Moulton from FoodNetwork.com



Happy Baking! 

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A New Creation


I really enjoy upgrading furniture and finding ways to make old and outdated items look fresh and, in my opinion, beautiful. The process of working with different items is very therapeutic for me as it allows me to clear my mind and be creative.  Maybe it's just years of pent-up creativity working itself out.  I mean, artistic creativity is not something I cultivated a great deal of while I was in the Army.  

While I'm working on projects, whether sanding, gluing, painting, or even in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, I feel like all of the distractions that easily entangle me just melt away.  The joy of creating something and recreating something has been around since...well, since before man was even created.  Remember Genesis 1:3-4 "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good..." (NIV).  Everything God created he saw as "good."  

I woke up this morning thinking about this verse:  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!  
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

How amazing it is to know that Jesus makes each and every one of us a new creation when we place our lives in Him. Yes, I get happy when I make a new meal or make an old piece of furniture look more beautiful. But how much more joy does God experience when we become a new creation through Christ Jesus! I have so much excitement about sharing my projects with all of you to inspire new ideas in your kitchen or home, but I'd be remiss if I did not share the ultimate makeover that God has done and is continuing to do in my life through Jesus.  It just can't compare to any project I will ever work on. 

So, when I begin working on a new project in and for our home and all of those distractions melt away, I'll continue to reflect on this verse

I'm willing to share more if anyone is interested.  

Until Next Time!




Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Happy To Announce...

I just had a project featured for the very first time!  I was so excited when Leanne at Organize & Decorate Everything informed me that the piano bench makeover made it as a featured item from her last link party. Click here to go directly to the post.



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I hope your week is off to a great start so far!





Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baking A Cake

I'm looking to bake a cake in the next few days.  I've baked plenty of basic sheet cakes, but I want to get outside of my comfort zone and do something a little fancier--no boxes or pre-made icing.  Goodness, I think the last time I made a layered cake was in high school.

So I've been doing some research on cakes and here are some that have caught my eye:

 First thing's first.  I love red velvet cake.  This one looks pretty good and the recipe calls for healthier substitutes.




Source

 So pretty, right?
Source
 My husband loves chocolate cake.  I just need to substitute the vanilla icing for chocolate and he'd be in cake heaven.
Source

My good friend, Amanda, makes some amazing cakes that, once you get past feeling guilty for destroying the work of art and taste it, you want to keep eating!  I keep telling her she should consider starting her own business because they're just that good.  Anyway, I have no preconceived notions that my cake(s) will be nearly as tasty or as beautiful as Amanda's, but I'm ready to experiment.  Hmm...maybe the word experiment should be excluded from my baking vocabulary.

Oh, and if anyone out there is worried I may devour this all by myself, don't fret--I'm bringing it to a Bible study fellowship event. 

Do you all have any favorite cake recipes you're willing to share?  Feel free to share them and I'll feature you in my post about the cake!  You can email all recipes to:  theforeigndomestic@gmail.com.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Piano Bench Makeover

Happy Wednesday!

I hope you're doing well so far this week.  My week as been pretty busy (which I like) and today I'm preparing for family to come visit.  It's the first time I'll be hosting overnight guests in my first home with my husband--exciting times!

Well, I mentioned in a post last week how I'd love to get my hands on some of my mom and dad's furniture to upgrade.  I'm happy to tell you all that on my visit to Virginia last weekend, I got my hands on our family's old piano bench!

Here's what we have now:



Here are a couple of before shots of the bench so you can see what I was working with:  




My parents have had the piano bench for almost 30 years--and it looks like it too, huh?  When she was little, my sister Allison bought a piano with some money that she saved up--a very studious young lady.  My siblings and I all took piano lessons when we were younger and spent some time sitting on that bench practicing.  I, honestly, didn't spend as much time sitting on the bench and practicing as much as I should've.  I admit, I was more intrigued by what was going on outside and exploring in the woods.

Recently, my parents gave the piano away and after trying to find a home for the bench in the house, it sadly found it's resting place in the garage.  In my quest to turn the mountain of the garage into a molehill (an ongoing project), I looked at the bench and saw hope for it.  By the way, there are some fun things I'm finding in my parents' garage--remember this?

After church this past Sunday, my mom and I headed out to find some fabric, paint, and picked up some sandpaper so I could get started on the piano bench makeover project.  Oh yeah, did I mention that the fabric was on sale and the paint was 50% off??  Can't beat that!


My mom caught me in action and our dog, Hudson, supervised my every move. 


After a couple of hours of the paint-and-let-dry cycle and reupholstering the bench, here is the final product.

I absolutely loved this fabric when I saw it.  The color pops and the pattern is classic.
I went for an ivory color to brighten the piece up a bit.  I'm happy with the final look. 

And one final look at the before/after images side-by-side: 



I was told I could take the bench as my own--awesome!  I can't wait to integrate it into our home.  I'm redoing the foyer area and I have a couple of other projects I'm working on for that area and will share those with you soon!

How about you?  Have you been working on anything lately?  Any furniture or room makeovers to share?  I'd love to hear from you!

Until Next Time,

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jams, Spreads and Canned Veggies

Last week I had the chance to visit some of my in-laws in Pennsylvania.  When I left, my sister-in-law made sure I was equipped with a bunch of amazing homemade canned goods. Talk about an unexpected treat!

Julie filled up a box with carrot cake jam, raspberry jam, onion spread, spiced carrots, jalapeno jam, tomatoes, and pickled green beans.  I've had the chance to sample them all and they're all delicious!  Check out the goods:  



 Julie also gave me a recipe that goes with the onion spread and it was so tasty.  Although I don't have the recipe to the spread yet, the least I can do is share the other recipe.

Here you go:

Ingredients:
  • 1 Package of Phyllo Dough (They didn't sell it at my grocery store so I bought pie dough)
  • Onion Mixture
  • Feta Cheese
Directions: 

1. Use dough to make a pie shape or meat loaf pan shape,  bake until golden brown
2. While dough is still warm and fresh out of the oven, spread mixture on top
3. Sprinkle a good amount of feta cheese on top
4. Eat it! (I love that step that Julie added)
Recipe Courtesy of Julie Dephue.

Here is my finished product:


My mother-in-law has shared stories about how she grew up canning food. I'd love to learn how to can fruits, vegetables, spreads, and jams in the future.  I'll have to pick my in-laws' brains next time we visit! 

Thank you, Julie!


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Perfect Fall Dinner

What would you classify as "The Perfect Fall Dinner"?  I'm sure we all have different answers for this question.  Chicken pot pie ranks in my top three favorite fall dinners. 

I shared an easy chicken pot pie recipe with you all back in June.  If you don't remember or if you missed that post, you can click here to find that recipe.

While I was visiting my family in Virginia last week, my mom and I were watching the Nate Berkus Show (love it) and he had a segment that featured Sunny Anderson cooking easy meals to help viewers cutback on eating out.  One of the recipes Sunny cooked was, you guessed it, chicken pot pie!

While we drooled over the TV, my mom thought it would be a great idea to fix it for dinner that night.  So, I sprang into action and jumped on the Nate's website to find the recipe.  Click here to check out The Nate Show website...or keep reading for all the details.

I have to admit, I had very little to do with producing this amazing meal.  My mom cooked while I washed the dishes--but I did help place the pie crust on top.  Gotta love pie crust, right? 

The ingredients produced enough for two pot pies.  Check out my mom's masterpieces!







Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and chicken shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1 cup frozen peas and diced carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 store bought pie crust, unbaked and thawed if frozen
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Steps
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, chicken, paprika, sage and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Cooking on low really just to reheat the chicken and get the seasonings fragrant. Remove the chicken from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  3. To the same pan, add the onions and peas and carrots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir and cook until the onions become tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until the flour dissolves into the vegetables and juices. Add the chicken stock and raise to a simmer, stirring until thickened. Once the liquid has thickened, stir in the heavy cream. Season with salt, if needed.
  4. Return the chicken to the pan. Unfold the pie crust and place over the top of the filling, tucking the excess edges inside the pan. Brush the crust evenly with the egg wash. Using a knife, gently cut 3 vents in the top of the crust. Place in the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Recipes courtesy of Sunny Anderson.


Enjoy!

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Mirror Mirror On the Wall

Hey Everyone!

Well, I'm ready to celebrate and to share that I finally did it!  I finally upgraded the thrift store mirror and put it on the wall!  Do you remember the mirror I'm talking about?  I'm not surprised if you don't, I shared it a very long time ago.  Well, here's the mirror I'm talking about.

Before:  

It was pretty plain and there wasn't much going on with it.  It took me a long time (too long of a time) to decide on a color to use and to just put things into action and get it done.




Well, after much deliberation, I decided on a moss green color with an accent in the middle border.  And here's what it looks like now.


After:

I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  The color is really different than any I would, typically, choose but it matches our decor and the bonus--my husband loves the color green.  I added some little beads that look like pearls by gluing them in the center of the wooden frames where that metal layer was before.  I found at them at the arts and crafts store for $3.00. 


I think the beads help dress up and brighten up the mirror.  Overall, I'm happy with the way it all turned out.  I found a couple of pieces of furniture at my parents' house that I'd love to get my hands on to upgrade.  I can't wait to share those with you all!

Have a great weekend!!

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