Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Too Much Basil? NEVER!

Last August, Food Network Magazine had a little blurb about making basil salt.  WHAT?  REALLY?  How cool is that!!  So I harvested my herbs & set to making flavored salt.  We've been out of basil salt for a while now, and my son has had to resort to using rosemary salt on his salad greens.  Yeah.  You read that right.

The basil was getting big (and wilty because I forgot to water in this dumb heat), and as we'll be gone next week, I thought it was as good a time as any to chop it off and make salt.

How to:
Big handful of basil, rough chopped, into the food processor.  I probably had about a cup & a half.  Pulse a few times.
Dump in kosher salt (I used generic brand,  which I accidentally bought thinking I could use it daily, but the grains aren't as big).  Probably a cup's worth.  Pulse.  Add more salt until it looks like the right mix.

Heat your oven to 225 degrees.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil or parchment (I even sprayed it lightly).  Spread the salt mixture out.  The idea  is to dry out the basil- I'm not sure of the 'exact', but I set the timer for about 5 minutes, stirred it around, gave it another five minutes.  Maybe a few more minutes.  You want it dried out.
And there you go.  Put into cute jars & give to your friends.  Like I said, it's really good as a salad topper.  and of course on pasta, or fresh mozzarella....  or anything!

So, you see the possibilities, right?  ANY HERB.  ANY MIX OF HERBS.  My favorite is roasted garlic.  This is fun.  Go.  Do.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Family Heirloom = Summer Project

 I want a new kitchen table.  What I really want is my husband to build me a table.  He has been actively ignoring this conversation for over a year.  I was even starting to figure out how to build it myself (or, find a  family member brother to help me).  

Imagine HOW EXCITED WE BOTH WERE when my cousin asked if I'd want that table that Grandpa had built.  Let me repeat that:  That Grandpa had built.  Probably, like, 25 years ago.  We all have things Grandpa built for us, I have a lovely glass book case, and of course my baby doll furniture that will be dug out of my parent's attic if  when I have a granddaughter.   I bribed my In-laws with dinner in exchange for them bringing it over for me.  Well worth it. 

Farmhouse table, with two benches.  I may just use one bench and look for some wooden chairs, 
but this is very close to what I've been looking for.  
Sure, after a little while in a storage unit it needs a little work, but that's ok.  

I'm thinking I'm going to strip the top & refinish it, but paint the legs black.  Kind of distressed.
Like this one:
From Hudson Goods 
Yes?  Yes.  I'm excited.  Now if the weather would dry out enough to get out & work on it!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Two to Try for Memorial Day!

1.  I love to make salads.  
2.  I love goat cheese.
3.  I love salads with goat cheese.

So when I ran across THIS recipe for a corn & goat cheese salad, of course I had to give it a whirl.  Grilled corn, tomatoes, peppers, a jalapeno, parsley  toasted walnuts and goat cheese with only a little lime juice for dressing. Kind of a lot going on all in one salad, but at first taste it's pretty good.  Crunchy & sweet, hot & tangy.  We'll see how it goes over at tonight's cookout.

 And, of course, my go-to-for-a-crowd potato salad - from Alton Brown.  This is a basic potato salad that doesn't taste basic.  I think the key is letting the potatoes sit in cider vinegar overnight.  This does not have eggs or mustard in it, but if you really felt you had to do it, I guess you could.  I, of course, would choose just a little Dijon to add flavor, because it's well known that yellow mustard is revolting.
 So I'm ready for  a holiday cookout, but I don't think the weather is in agreement.  More rain.  Ugh.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Alligator Handbag

 I finally finished my first attempt at a purse.  I fell in love with this idea over at Sew4Home last month.  I've never done anything like this, and had no idea how it would turn out.  I'm a bit of a purse... snob, so I knew it wouldn't become my new go-to-favorite-bag, but I thought it was cute, and I have nothing like this.  And it looked kind of fun. I had trouble getting handles for it, they finally showed up this week & I could finish putting it together. 

I'm happy with it- I think it turned out cute.  Maybe I'll carry it to brunch on Sunday!  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Turquoise Spray Paint... My Latest Addiction

Spring, finally, may have sprung here in central Illinois...   

and I decided it was time to update some of our stuff.  First up, the wicker plant stand:

for the record,  turquoise spray paint isn't just everywhere.  Valspar makes two pretty shades of it though, Tropical Oasis & Exotic Sea.  I like the Tropical Oasis a little better- its the color I used on this plant stand.  

While standing in the paint aisle at Lowe's, I started talking to another paint shopper.  She convinced me to go ahead & try to paint some planters.  She also apparently buys spray paint because she likes the colors, not because she has a project in mind for it.  I can get on board with that- collecting spray paint like I collect...  yarn, paper, fabric, any thing with color...

So I started with this old urn...  it's a little beat up.  I washed & used a little steel wool over it.  This was painted with the exotic sea color of paint.  It's a little brighter than the other color.

and here you go!

I love it!!  
Now to go through my stash of planters & see what else I can transform...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Outdoor Cushion Project

I've been dying to show you my brand-new-made-by-me patio cushions but it seems Mother Nature doesn't think you need to see them in action.  Our poor patio set--  ten years old, not ready to be tossed but not quite worthy of hundreds of dollars of new cushions - won't know how to feel when the weather finally does turn warm and gets to be all pretty again!  I also made new cushions for our three piece wicker set.  It didn't really need them, but they wouldn't have matched, and I knew that would bug me.

Outdoor fabric from $8/yd  and two spools of thread- all for less than $70.  I was very, very fortunate in that we were able to re-use the foam from the old cushions.  Buying new foam would have been the deal breaker.  Outdoor foam is really expensive.  I didn't price it out all the way, but would have cost an easy $150.  Our original cushions had a bottom and a back.  I wasn't really feeling like making a full back piece, so I used the batting from the old backs, folded it in half, and made small pillows for the chairs.

So, all in all...  6 chair bottoms, 6 chair pillows, and 3 pads  for the wicker set.  I used these instructions from Sew4Home as my guide. I did NOT make the piping.  That seemed... exhausting.  It was not a hard project, at all, but took some time.

Hopefully, SOON, we can take our cushions outside and enjoy them!  I think they'll go nicely with a bottle of chardonnay, don't you?

Saturday, April 20, 2013


You may have heard me say things lately like "I'm going to make a pencil skirt", and 'I can put a zipper in, no problem'.  If I'm going to be truthful, I figured I would TRY to make a skirt and throw it away because it would never fit and would look terrible.

my invented kick pleat pattern

It never, ever should have worked.  I started out like I knew what I was doing (let me say here that I have known, in the past, how to do this - my mother taught me to sew - and sew well - when I was younger, but I haven't made actual clothes for years.  And not usually without some help).  I bought a pattern, only to realize it didn't have a kick pleat in the back.  And thinking I actually had a clue, I just put one in anyway (HERE is the website I used for the kick pleat.)   This lead to me basically re-vamping the entire pattern - I had to change the seams from 2 side seams to add a back seam to accommodate the pleat, and then put the zipper in the back seam instead of the side.  That meant the whole facing had to be re-worked.  
the pleat, all done!!

And it was just a tad to small, so I had to tear out all the seams & make smaller seam allowances.

My zipper isn't great.  I need to practice some zipper work....  and then I even had to hem it.  By hand. I knew the fabric wasn't the best choice - it's a little light weight & could use a lining, but it'll be fine for wearing around the house this summer. 

is it perfect?  no.  do I like it?  YES!  I will absolutely be making another one!