9.29.2010

Delicious autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
-George Eliot

Oh how I love the summer and am sad to see it go, with it's carefree days of sunshine stretched out before us.  Thankfully, thankfully, beautiful fall in New England makes the transition back into the schedules and chaos of a busy family a bit easier. 

Simple pleasures....
long-blooming hydrangeas change their colors,


sedum makes it's colorful debut in an otherwise-spent garden,

and mums in burnt orange and rusty red make their way home from the local farm.

I love using nature's bounty indoors, before all the fun Halloween decorations come out.

Acorns cover our yard, so in exchange for a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, the kids collected them by the pailful for my glass hurricanes.

The traditional and lace hydrangeas have been in bloom since we moved here two months ago - I am not kidding!  I have cut them and brought them into the house weekly and yet they still bloom aplenty outside my window.  I love these flowers in their fall hues; they brighten my day in every room.

Since real bittersweet does not grow on our property
{and apparently it is against the law to snip a few branches from someone elses yard- ;) }
I add a few "almost real" branches of berries here and there.

Welcome fall! 
I look forward to your crisp, sunny days and blue skies, and evenings cast in firelight,
as well as boots and sweaters, football games, pumpkin picking, and autumn meals with family and friends.

What do you love about fall?
Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy this fine day!

I am linking up to Rene's Fall Party at Cottage and Vine because she inspired me to embrace autumn today!  Visit these links for wonderful inspiration!

9.24.2010

Easy Quesadillas and Red Pepper Oil

I don't know about you but life in this house is an absolute whirlwind right now, with the kids going back to school, sports and activities, my husband's kooky travel schedule, and pretty much every room in our new house undergoing some kind of renovation.

I'm constantly trying to get a square meal into my kiddos in between their practices.  This quick meal gets all three of my darlings into the Clean Plate Club!  Since we don't have a quesadilla maker (definitely no room in this kitchen for any more appliances!) this is the next best thing.

Easy Chicken Quesadillas
Cook yourself up some chicken with taco seasoning.  I used Perdue's thin chicken breasts, tossed with olive oil and taco seasoning.  Saute the chicken until cooked through and then slice into strips.


On a cookie sheet, lay out one tortilla per person.  Place shredded cheese of your choice on one side, and the chicken, plus any other toppings you'd like, on the other.  My kids wanted just chicken & cheese, but I added sauteed onions and mushrooms to mine. 


Sauteed corn is a yummy addition too and a great way to use up leftover corn on the cob!

Bake at 350 just until the cheese melts.  Remove from oven and immediately fold the cheese side over the chicken, pressing firmly so the whole kit and kaboodle melts together (this keeps all the ingredients from falling out when the diner tries to take a bite).  Cut into triangles and serve with a green on the side.  We add sour cream and salsa to the top of our quesadillas also.


The best thing about this meal is that your family can choose what goes into their quesadilla.  You can get creative with whatever you have on hand.

Now a word about this liquid gold: 
Crushed Red Pepper Oil
Do you keep red pepper oil on hand?  This divine concoction adds just a hint of spiciness, and a great amount of flavor, to a meal. 

It's so easy to make - just combine olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes in an airtight bottle.  I didn't measure my ingredients but would guess about 1/8 cup of crushed red pepper flakes to 1 cup {good quality!} olive oil.  Shake frequently to combine the flavors, and especially before using.  (Do not add any fresh ingredients such as minced garlic unless you plan to refrigerate the oil and use within a couple of weeks.)  The red pepper oil will increase in potency the longer it ferments. 

My kids don't love spicy, so we often serve them their veggies plain and add a little heat to ours.  Here are some ideas for red pepper oil:
  • Saute vegetables with them.  For my quesadilla, I used the red pepper oil to cook onions and mushrooms.
  • Toss with steamed broccoli before serving.
  • Marinate shrimp before sauteeing for shrimp scampi.
  • Mop up the oil with Italian bread when you're feeling particularly naughty.
Now, after writing this post, I am hungry!  You?

I am, as ever, so grateful for your visit to Shine Your Light today.  Enjoy the day my dear friends!  xo


I am linking up to the ever-fabulous 504 Main Street today!

9.18.2010

Painted Wallpaper

Hello my friends!

The winds of change seem to blow freely through this house and before I have finished one project I am pulled in the direction of something new.  So, while my wee babes wait for their mama to finish their rooms, two of which are half-done, I could not resist this fun project for my pathetic foyer. 

I have been brewing the idea of doing some kind of hip stenciling (as opposed to the 1980s flower borders - remember those?) and love the tone-on-tone look of opaque pearl paint.  Not too busy, but adding a little interesting detail to an otherwise neutral palette.  This was on my mental list of 2011 to-dos, seeing as I have an abundance of home projects to attend to in the meantime.  But then I spied this beauty:

One of my favorite things about blogging is introducing you to fabulous blogs out there that you may not have stumbled upon yet.  Pencil off some time on your calendar for this one, because you will surely get lost at Jones Design Company, written by the creative and stylish Emily.  Not only is Emily the mama of four little ones, she also manages to run a stationery business, create a fabulous home for her family and write a wonderful blog filled with design inspirations and joy for living. 

I love Emily's home office space {above} that she stenciled and handpainted (again:  with three little boys and a baby girl underfoot!) and knew I had to try this technique on an accent wall in my foyer. 
Immediately. 
Never mind the cans of paint sitting neglected on the floor of my 12 year old's room.  Or the trim that is primed but not yet painted in three rooms on the first floor.  These things can wait while I do this one fun project just for me!

The supplies:  a template downloaded from Jones Design Company and traced onto cardboard, pearly paint from Michael's,  and a brush that is the size I want the lines to be in the design.  A Hello Kitty pencil and my kid's pink erasers came in handy too.

The pattern is traced onto the walls. 

Because I'm not a good direction-follower, I painted between the lines instead of on the outer edges of these lines, resulting in a slightly different finished product than Emily's office. 

Painting, painting, and more painting.


This is what I started with:

...and today, still a work in progress, but a few steps closer to fabulous thanks to Emily's inspiration:

I love my wall!  When the lamp is on or the sunlight streams in from the front door, the pearl paint shimmers, but from other angles the design is tone-on-tone, and is actually very subtle. 

The dresser is a topic for another day - along with everything else in this house it is under construction, along with the trim, the banister, the flooring....but at least I have one wall in this house finished!

Thank you so much to Emily at Jones Design Company for the tutorial, template and inspiration for this fun project - I feel one step closer to making this house our home!

Enjoy your day and thanks for visiting!

9.13.2010

Chalkboard Wall Obsession

Hi there!
No I haven't fallen off the face of the earth; I have been bouncing from room to room, not finishing one project before I start another.  This is what happens when you move into a house with colors you can't stand.  I have managed to paint all the walls of the first floor of our house but have yet to finish the trim, the bathroom vanity, or Sean's half-done room.  And now I'm moving onto another room yet again! 

Tomorrow is my firstborn's 12th birthday - where have the years gone?? - and I would really love to surprise him with a new room when he comes home from school.  What are the chances I'll pull that off? 

I let the kids choose whatever color scheme they wanted for their rooms and have been trying to work their colors into something I can live with everyday.  Peter's choice are the colors of his football team:  red, black and white.  He is open to anything I want to do in his room as long as it's "cool".  How about a whole chalkboard wall?  Would that be cool? 

Do you think this trend has run it's course?  My kids never tire of it.  Do you cringe at the thought of black walls in your house?  Check out how color or white offsets the black walls in these images:

Photo:  bhg.com

Photo:  atticmag.com

Photo:  Flickr

Photo:  New York Times

Photo:  Laura Moss/myhomeideas.com


Photo:  Anthropologie

Photo:  Houzz.com

If you can't commit to a whole wall, how about a large chalkboard in your mudroom or playroom? 
Photo:  Richard Leo Johnson/Coastal Living

And last but not least....
for the non-chalk-dust lover,
black walls accented with lots of white trim and colorful accessories.
Love!
Photo:  Source Unknown

I love the idea of our home being a creative, fun place,
and what could be more fun than being able to write on the walls?

Be well and enjoy the day.

9.09.2010

Shock and Awe

All bets are off my newfound mantra of
Color Without Commitment
when it comes to the kid's rooms. 

I've been toiling away on Seanie's room for the past few days, and am happy to report Phase I is complete - the painting - and oh boy, is this room bright!  Sean chose the colors of the Patriots and Red Sox - red, white and blue.

This is where we started - a fine neutral color, but not exactly befitting a rambunctious 8 year old boy:

....and here it is today.  Hello!

Wow - that is some red isn't it?  Hopefully we can tone it down a bit with some accessories - that'll be the fun part!  Check out this humungous bulletin board left by the previous owners, who used two of the bedrooms as offices.  They also put up these French doors on the rooms used as offices.  The solid doors need to be pulled out of the attic by a big strong manly man. 
 (Translate that last sentence to mean that, although I'm capable of taking the doors down from the attic and hanging them, I'm good and tired after a solid week of painting and am going to have to get all girly and pretend they're too heavy for me.  Shhhhh don't tell Mark I can really do it!)

While I am cringing a bit every time I walk past this room, Seanie is L*O*V*I*N*G the colors. 
At the end of the day, it's his room and I'm happy to be able to make this little space a happy, cheerful spot that reflects his personality. 

Now I'm returning to my nice little grey-beige family room for a break from those crazy colors.  Ahhhhhhh.

9.06.2010

Farewell to Summer

Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.

- William Wordsworth, September


9.03.2010

Walk & Lunch in Providence

Yesterday my friend B and I went for a walk on Blackstone Boulevard in East Providence, Rhode Island as a farewell to summer.  When we had more free time, B and I used to plan a weekly excursion for a good workout somewhere in the Boston or Providence area, exploring a different spot each week.  B is a teacher and when she returns to work full time next week, such outings without children in tow will be few and far between.

The area that we visited is not far from Brown University and there is a lovely winding path for walkers, runners and cyclists that is shady and scenic.  Pretty old homes with beautiful gardens line the boulevard and the path itself is wide and quiet.  This area of Providence is really pretty, with lots of old brick buildings, steep hills, and greenery, as well as the Providence River that runs through the city. 


Thayer Street, right in the middle of the Brown campus, is a pretty street filled with little shops and cafes.  After working out, we took turns changing in the back of my car, which was cause for great amusement to the two of us as college students walked by and we asssured each other no one could see in through the darkened windows.  We freshened up in a restaurant bathroom and had a bite to eat and a toast to a summer well spent with our kiddos.

I thought this number would be perfect on B.......

......but instead of trying on clothes we satisfied our sweet tooth (teeth?) at this adorable bakery:

Oh the chocolate frosted brownies were to die for!
I should have bought one of these for the road.  I mean we did workout, right? 

One of these days I'll get my act together and provide you with a list of great walking spots in the Boston and Providence areas.  In the meantime I hope you enjoy something, or someone, wonderfully sweet this weekend!