10.31.2010

Ill winds mark its fearsome flight,
and autumn branches creak with fright.
The landscape turns to ashen crumbs,
when something wicked this way comes.

Fires burn with an eerie glow,
Something stirs from deep below,
and by the pricking of my thumbs,
a Gothic night this way comes!

All Hallow's Eve has arrived!



Wishing you a wickedly fun Halloween!


10.30.2010

Halloween Cupcakes & Grilled Pizza

BOO - HA - HA - HA!
Double, double, toll and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Eye of newt, toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing.

-William Shakespeare/The Three Witches,Macbeth

Happy Halloween Eve, all!
I saw this really cute mummy cupcake at Hope Studios, and had to try it for my little guy's third grade Halloween party.  Check out Jennifer's awesome version and tutorial!  Mine by comparison are a pathetic attempt at frosting with tips, but guess what?  Third graders could care less about perfection.  They totally got that these were mummies, and that they were yummy!  I love baking for kids - they are enthusiastic even if my cake decorating skills are severely lacking!!

Do you feel like a spaz when you're making cupcakes?
 Like it should be so easy peasy, so why is your kitchen all blown up and there is excess cupcake mix all over the pan? 
For sure, if you're baking with young kids this is going to be the case, so just suck it up for now because they are going to grow up so fast, and you'll have plenty of years to have a nice clean kitchen when they are too busy to hang out with mom.  Enjoy the messy years! I repeat, enjoy the messy years!

But I digress....
Here's quick tutorial on baking the perfect cupcake.
(Disclaimer!:  I use cake mixes on a frequent basis because we make a LOT of cupcakes around here.  Nothing wrong with shortcuts, ladies!  I'm all for a delicious homemade cake but it's okay to take the easy way out sometimes!)

#1 - line muffin tins with plain paper or foil baking cups.  Save the pretty ones (see #4)!
#2 - use a measuring cup to scoop the mix out of the bowl and drop it into the muffin tin.
#3 - fill the cups generously so they will develop a nice top on them when baking.  You don't want wimpy cupcakes! I'd guess this is a bit more than the 2/3 the cake mix box suggests.  This mix yielded 30 cupcakes.
#4 - save the pretty cupcake liners until after baking - if you bake chocolate cupcakes in the decorative ones, the design will be hard to see.  Yes, I am saying to double-line your cupcakes using the decorative one on the outside.  Crazy.
#5 - I just learned this one this week - frosting with a bag & tip is easier, quicker, and not as messy as spreading frosting.  I'll do a little tutorial on tips one of these days!
And then - enjoy! 
{No!  Don't eat us!}

Now onto some actual nourishment for those lil trick or treaters:

I don't know about you but every Halloween I am madly trying to stuff something halfway decent into my kids before they set out to gorge on candy all night. 
Make-your-own pizzas are the perfect solution because you can control the portion, and most importantly, how much cheese goes on them. 
(Pizza wouldn't be so unhealthy if not for the large amount of cheese on them.) 
More importantly for this occasion - making individuals pizzas is fun, easy and a great way to go if you're hosting a group of kids and adults.

Put together toppings ahead of time:  shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, and carmelized onions are our faves, but you know the drill - anything goes on pizza!

Purchase pizza dough balls at the grocery store.  Some pizza chains (such as Bertucci's) sell the dough also.  Divide the dough into the size of baseballs for a kid's individual pizza. 

Sprinkle cornmeal or flour on your (clean!) countertop, and roll the ball in it so the dough doesn't stick to your hands.  Gently stretch your dough into a thin sheet, being careful not to make any holes.
{The dough will get mis-shapen moving it from the counter, to the cookie sheet, to the grille - don't stress about it's shape.}

Brush one side of each dough with olive oil and throw on your grille over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, until it has stiffened a bit and has golden grille marks on the bottom. 

Remove from grille and flip over; on the grilled side, let each person assemble their own pizzas with the toppings.  (We like Pastene pizza sauce.)
{Don't they look like humungous grilled chicken breasts??? :)}


Put the pizzas back on the grille for 5 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. 
{I could eat this for breakfast right now!}

Have a cutting board nearby to slice; serve with a big tossed salad for a balanced and fun meal!

Are you doing anything fun for Halloween?
Whatever you're up to, may you have a hauntingly delightful All-Hallows Eve!



Check out lots of fun and creative ideas at A Little Lovely's Saturday Soiree!

10.29.2010

Boy's Red and Navy Bedroom

I am so happy to report that most of the painting is done in our "new" house, and the vile, disgusting, pet stained carpets finally were replaced in all the bedrooms this week! 

*happy dance!*

We are finally at the stage of putting together the rooms of this house.  First up - my 8 year old son's room.  We picked names out of a hat to see who's room would be done first, and Sean won.

Each child got to pick the color scheme of their room, and Sean chose the New England Patriots/Boston Red Sox colors of red, blue and white.  A while back I shared this alarming red paint choice with you, and to be honest I wasn't sure I could live with it.  I found a $3 gallon of mis-tinted paint at the hardware store that was very close to the color we were shooting for, chosen from a Patriots pillow case in the room.  I was excited about my bargain paint until it went on the wall.  Even 4 coats later - it was still extraordinarily RED.  As in tomato red.  However, Sean loves the color, so I decided to tone down the brightness with a big dose of navy and white.

I bought these simple sailcloth panels at Target for all the kids' bedrooms (2 for $17.95).  I'm a big fan of simple panels that hang to the floor.  For Sean's curtains, I added this white grosgrain ribbon for a little detail.  They are not lined but they make the room very dark when closed.

While I am all for the kids' rooms being a sanctuary for them, and giving them some creative freedom with the decor, I am adamantly opposed to themes.  Why, you ask?  Because kids grow tired of themed rooms and I am not about to completely redecorate a child's room every year or two.  I won't make the investment in themed wallpaper, borders or expensive bedding, but try to bring in the child's interest in other ways that can be easily changed out down the road.  Sean wanted a sports theme, so we used this signed Lawrence Maroney shirt (that Mark won at an event) as the focal point of the room, along with some other cool signed items and his trophies and baseball hats. 


I hung the name poster I made above the bed.  See this post for a tutorial on this project.

I was going to hang a grouping of framed Red Sox & Patriots photos on the long wall the bed is against, but instead my little guy wanted this map of the U.S. that used to grace the kids' playroom, so that when his dad is traveling Sean can see exactly where he is.  I happily obliged with this cute request - sweet boy!
On the other side of the room is a huge bulletin board left behind by the previous owners, who used the bedrooms as offices (another one is in Hannah's room - what a score!).  I painted it navy and Sean can put up any artwork, good grades or sports pictures that his little heart desires.  A bulletin board in a kid's room is a great way to coral all the papers that come home from school!

The first thing Sean put on his bulletin board was his cross - all on his own - I love that boy!

This room is far from a decorator's dream - but it's Sean's dream and he loves it! 
I love it because it was not expensive to put together a space that my little boy adores.

As a mom I want to foster my children's creativity, and am happy to be able to give them a personal space that reflects who they are as individuals.  While I would love for every room in my house to be aesthetically pleasing to ME, it's more important that their rooms be a place that they feel comfy, happy, and in which they want to play, read and rest. 

Wait until you see Peter and Hannah's expressions of individuality! 

Have a wonderful day my friend - thank you for stopping by!



For more boy's bedroom inspirations, check out the blog of Jennifer Rizzo!

10.25.2010


Make this week special for your kids with these silly and *easy* recipes.  This is what happy childhood memories are made of!  We made the pumpkin cupcakes last night and the kids devoured them.  Seanie can't wait to make the cheeseball specifically because it's coated with Doritos! 

Happy Halloween week!





 




10.21.2010

Oh Lucky Day!

{for me and hopefully for you!}


I am so excited beyond compare, thrilled to bits, over the moon because
I won these bee-you-ti-ful pillows from the talented and inspiring
Janell at Isabella & Max Rooms!! 
I am so thankful - and lucky! - and thankful!

I have been looking for inspiration for our master bedroom, perusing my Benjamin Moore fan decks trying to decide on a color for this - the last of the major rooms to be painted.  I'm in the mad dash to get all the painting done before next Wednesday when the new carpet is installed upstairs. 

These pillows are the perfect inspiration for a wall color, don't you think?  I love the background color, and that pop of pink makes me happy.  Thank you so much, Janell!  If you've never visited Janell's blog, Isabella & Max Rooms, you will certainly fall in love with her beautiful design style and great tutorials!

Now...
another great giveaway that you can take part in!  One of my fave blogs for entertaining ideas is The Party Dress - have you ever visited there?  Up until midnight tonight you can enter to win $100 to minted.com, a fabulous spot for holiday cards and invitations!  I don't know about you but looking at these pretty cards below makes me want to snap a photo of my kids, upload it, order Christmas cards and, for once, feel all sorts-of-organized for the holiday season.  Christmas cards - check.  Ohhhh wouldn't that be heavenly?
Can you tell I love Christmas cards that reflect the true reason for the season?




 That's right - $100 to spend on one of the many holiday and Christmas cards on minted.com.  Jump over to The Party Dress right now - today might be your lucky day!  I'm keeping my fingers double crossed for you!

10.19.2010

Entry Table

Moving to a smaller house has actually been really gratifying - in big ways like the mortgage reduction, and smaller, but celebrated ways like having a whole lot less house to keep clean - hallelujah!  Of course, we made some concessions, but overall we are loving the change.  Who knew that downsizing would be so freeing? 

However - here comes the "but" - - -

- - - trying to make our furniture fit into this house has been a bit of a challenge.  The table from our old entryway is too long for the wall in our current foyer, and the last thing I want is to buy MORE furniture when I have a basement filled with odds and ends that don't fit in this house.

I was inspired to sell my old foyer table and find something new and fabulous on Craigslist, but after looking for months and months, nothing really tickled my fancy.

Then I spied this ghoulish photo at goodhousekeeping.com...
...and fell in love with the idea of a black table in my neutral environment.

When I came across this gem from House Beautiful, I knew I had to have a dresser for all that storage capability:

In my very own basement, I came across an unloved piece of furniture that would fit the bill, with a little makeover:
the old Pier One wicker bureau that used to grace my babies' nursery.  It was the perfect size for the wall in our new foyer.  Do you have one just like it?
The middle drawer front had fallen off, so I banged a few nails right into the wicker to re-attach it to the frame.  Once painted up these nails are not even detectable.

Let me just say that at this point my husband was extremely skeptical.  Wicker in the foyer?  Hmmmm.

I used Krylon spray paint in black satin.  Spray paint is definitely the way to go when painting wicker because the  mist gets into all the nooks 'n crannies so much better than a brush.  Also spray paint is oil-based which is a must when painting furniture, as it adheres better and is less likely to chip over time.

Here she is today with a lil bit of lovin'....
 Even the skeptic, Mark,  is convinced - yes, she's wicker, and a little unexpected, but she's a pretty little workhorse. 
The drawers are jam-packed with candles and large serving pieces. 
I had a piece of glass cut for the top.
The tabletop is perfect for a lamp and some candles.
I'd like a larger mirror but I do love how this reflects the outdoors.
This is the view from the front door. 
 {The pup is a fixture on the kitchen floor in the background, where he snoozes away every day.}

When we do the kitchen over (someday) we will replace this hideous foyer flooring with hardwood, but in the meantime I'm on the hunt for a runner to hide that sweet '80s tile.
We've already painted all the trim in this entry white and will be ripping up the runner on the stairs and painting the risers and rails white as well.

Now, since I saved on purchasing a new piece of furniture, and only spent money on spray paint and the glass top, I'm going to treat myself to some pretty knobs for my little dresser. 

Look at these beauties from Anthropologie - they have the most gorgeous hardware!





I'm thinking this mother-of-pearl number above would look pretty with the painted wallpaper design.  {To learn about the wall behind the dresser check out this post.}  What knob do you like?

 Once again I marvel at the power of paint! 
I am so happy to have shopped the house instead of buying something new.
I am particularly happy to put to use a piece of furniture that was part of my children's babyhood - it has sentimental value as well as being functional.
I just love how these changes add up to a home that feels like our own.

Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you are inspired to shop your own house, or transform something with a little paint!

10.18.2010

Balancing Act and Acorn Squash

Hello lovelies!  I hope this day finds you well!

I have survived a week of pure craziness and I'm so glad to have a morning all to myself to catch up with you.  I love, love, love blogging as a creative outlet, but in the reality of life sometimes there just is not enough time in the day, or week, to indulge myself.  I don't know about you but I am constantly seeking a balance - between responsibilities as a mother, wife and daugther, attending to my full time "job" of house renovating, and doing activities for the sheer pleasure of it. 

On top of my normal mode of having 10 projects going on at once, my beloved aunt and uncle visited last week from Ireland and I gave myself permission to let some things go so I could spend time with them.  The paint cans went unopened and the blog was neglected while I cleaned and cooked, listened to funny stories, and adored their company with my family.  Sometimes to find balance and enjoy the here and now you've just gotta realize you can't do it all {at once}! 
Sharing a special meal with my family makes me happy!

So my dear readers, excuse my absence! I have some recipes and fun projects to share with you this week! 
First off I have to tell you about this acorn squash recipe that my kids are loving.  It's so pretty, can be made ahead and heated before serving, and is perfect for a Thanksgiving buffet or autumn dinner.  I make it without pecans for the kids, and they gobbled it all up and asked for seconds. 


You can either halve or quarter each acorn squash, depending on what else you are serving.  If you are having several side dishes quarter the squash. 

Once you have cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and fibrous pulp, and then cut each half into quarters if desired.

Note:  the squash is difficult to cut through.  I make an incision with a serrated knife, and then use this large knife above to separate the halves.  Once it is halved, place cut side down to half again if desired. 
I have read that if you microwave the squash for 1 minute the rind softens enough to cut through it fairly easily but I haven't tried this method.  

Preheat oven to 350. 

Brush squash with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. 

Place quarters or halves together cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

For one whole squash, soften 1/4 stick of butter and combine with 1/4 cup brown sugar. 
Coarsely chop a handful of pecans (a tablespoon or so will do). 

 Remove squash from oven and turn pieces over with tongs.  With a small spoon, spread the butter/sugar mixture over the squash flesh, and sprinkle with pecans.  Bake cut side up until flesh is tender, approximately 10 minutes.

Mix it all together for a mouthful of autumn bliss!

Enjoy, my friends!