Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Repurposing Embroidery Hoops

Thank you for visiting. I now have a new home at www.countrypeony.com. I hope you will find me there.

fabric embroidery hoops
I have been thinking for months about a cost-effective decoration for our blank wall in our living room. My initial inspiration came from the polished, yet simple, look of various plates mounted to a wall. I also wanted to stay within our color scheme of dark blue, wood tones, and silver. As I started to research plate options, I soon discovered I would have to pay more than I wanted to for the look I was after.
So, as I researched more ideas online I noticed this post from Apartment Therapy
I thought this would be a perfect solution. I could pick out my own fabric and create a fun, personalized pattern. This project would also hold nostalgic value for me, because it reminds me of my late grandmother who taught me how to embroider with her embroidery hoops.

For this project you will need: several yards of different fabric patterns, embroidery hoops of varying sizes (I used six 10 inch hoops, and five 8 inch hoops), scissor, hammer, and nails to hang the fabric hoops onto the wall.

You can start out by deciding what part of the fabric you would like showcased in your hoop. Place the hoop over that part of the fabric, and cut around it (leaving several inches on all sides).
wooden embroidery hoop
From here, you will place the fabric in between the two hoops (ensuring your fabric is still in the same location within your hoops). Once you have the area of fabric you want to showcase in between both hoops you can tighten the screw at the top of the embroidery hoop. You may have noticed that some of the fabric became loose during the tightening process. You can now pull the extra fabric and tighten it between the hoops.
stretching fabric
Once everything is taut, you can cut the excess fabric off from the edge of the hoops.

After all of your fabric embroidery hoops are complete, you can start to come up with a pattern placement on the wall for them. Or you can plan as you go and make your pattern very abstract like mine. I eye-balled each location and where I thought it worked best. It is up to you what method you would like to use.

Fabric Embroidery Wall
Check out the wonderful cedar chest my father made my husband and I for our wedding
 Since the initial investment was not a lot, you can repurpose old fabric by changing the fabric out with certain seasons (how fun would it be to change the fabric for Christmas?). Either way, I encourage you to have fun with it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Estate Sale Love

Thank you for visiting. I now have a new home at www.countrypeony.com. I hope you will find me there.

I love HGTV! When my husband gets home from his business trips he jokes, because all of the televisions are either turned to HGTV or Bravo (any Housewives fans?). Anyway, the programs on HGTV inspire me to work on our house. Isn’t that what the producers of HGTV shows want you to do with a slogan like: Start at Home? So, I recently started to add HGTV’s Cash & Cari to our DVR playlist. Cari's honest and inspired approach to selling other’s treasures is fun to watch. She has inspired me to seek out estate sales in my area. I love to find old treasures and repurpose them to fit into a modern lifestyle.
Antique Cash Register
As a child I wanted to be a cashier. I have always been fascinated with cash registers, and I loved the detail on this one.
So a couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law and I sought out after our first estate sale experience. We were beyond excited. We pull up to the auction estate sale warehouse, and we were like children in a candy store (literally, because the items from this auction used to be in an old candy store and pharmacy). It was wonderful to see these unique pieces and imagine what kind of life they had in the candy store and pharmacy. As I scoped out the pieces, I wrote down the items that I thought I would bid a small amount on. You never know if items will go high at an auction estate sale, because most of the bidders will sell the items they buy for a profit. If they don’t think a particular item will sell well they won’t bid on it. So this left many pieces that were sold for a much lower price than their worth.
Antique Pharmacy Storage
Vintage Pharmacy Storage from the Estate Sale

Vintage Christmas Decorations
Vintage Christmas Decorations from the Estate Sale

My husband and I received some beautiful wedding china, and we didn’t have any place to store it or showcase it. So, I technically didn’t go to buy a china cabinet, but I told myself that if I saw something that I liked I would try and bid on it. And, I did find something I liked loved. I spotted an oak Lady Pitt kitchen (Hoosier) cabinet. My mother-in-law informed me that it was used for kitchen storage in the 20s and 30s. It had a place for the flour with a sifter. It also had a place for cookbooks, and a spice rack. It even had a pull-out ironing board. It was still in really good condition and I loved the lead glass. When I looked at it, I saw someone (maybe one of my ancestors) kneading bread around the cabinet. It told such a wonderful story.
kitchen cabinet estate sale
Kitchen Cabinet at the Estate Sale

kitchen cabinet window

I really enjoyed watching the process as the auctioneer started to call the items and prices. Most of the items that I wrote down earlier were soon scratched off my list because they were not within my budget. However, I did walk away with one very special item and that was the kitchen cabinet. It found a home in our main living area with our china inside. It is in such good condition that I just gave it a good cleaning, and ta da!
Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet

kitchen cabinet door

The experience was a lot of fun, and I would definitely go again. Have you ever experienced or bought anything at an estate sale?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Perfect Pie Crust

Thank you for visiting. I now have a new home at www.countrypeony.com. I hope you will find me there.

My mother has many talents. One that she likes to share with us often is her exceptional baking ability. Last time I visited my parents on their farm I documented how my mother created the perfect pie crust. The end result was divine with its savory and flaky qualities. I cannot wait to try this recipe on my husband and future guests.
Mrs. Fields Cook Book

This recipe is adapted from Mrs. Fields Best Ever Cookie Book, and it makes two pie crusts or one pie crust with a crusted topping. This recipe only requires three ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 sticks (1 cup) of chilled salted butter, and 6 to 8 tablespoons of iced water.

You will place the butter and flour in a food processor on low speed. While the food processor is churning, slowly pour the iced water into the mixture. The mixture should start to stick together like the picture below. If the mixture is not ready, slowly add more water until you get the desired texture. (*You don’t want the butter to melt or to mix completely into the mixture. The flaky, desired crust is made from the solid butter pieces melting into the crust as it bakes.)
Kitchenaid Mixer

Once you have your desired consistency, remove the dough from the food processor. Sprinkle a dry surface with flour and place the dough on top. Then sprinkle more flour on top of the dough (*Don’t go overboard with the flour, because it can dry out the crust. You want enough flour so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, the surface, or the rolling pin.)

Pour a small amount of iced water to help pull the dough together as you knead it. Cut the dough in half. Roll each half into a flattened ball. From here you will take a rolling pin (preferably made of wood) and roll from the center out until you get the desired thickness, and size to fit your pie pan. (*Flip over your pie pan onto the dough to measure and determine the crust size you need.)

Pie dough
rolling pin

 Now you can start to place the pie crust into the pie pan. Start by folding the crust in half, and then into a quarter. Then place the tip of the fold into the center of the pie pan and unfold the quarters into the pan. Once you place the pie crust into the pan, you may notice that you have some cracks. Press the dough together to fix any cracks in the pie crust. Then cut the excess crust off the edges with a butter knife. Once you cut off the crust from the edges, crimp the edges down with your finger. Take a fork and punch holes into the bottom of the pie crust to let the steam escape from the crust and to prevent bubbles while it bakes.  

 Bake the pie shell for about 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees or until it is golden brown. Cool on a baking rack. This dish can be a great base to build savory and sweet dishes off of. Hope you enjoy!

pie crust

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dressing Up a Bookcase

Thank you for visiting. I now have a new home at www.countrypeony.com. I hope you will find me there.

Carson 5 shelf bookcase - Target

In the process of decorating our office space, I purchased two Espresso-colored bookcases from Target. The simple design was appealing to me. However, as soon as I placed them in the office space, I knew I needed to “dress” them up.

My first step was to paint the bookcases white, so they could contrast nicely off the deep red walls. My dear friend helped me prime them with Glidden Gripper Grey paint. After the primer was set, we used a fine grit sandpaper to even out the drip marks from the primer. Next we added three coats of Behr White Fur paint to ensure coverage of the white. *If I were to paint over veneer again, I would suggest painting two coats of primer for better coverage instead of one.  

I still wanted to add a little more style to the bookcases, so I decided to add fabric panels to the back. I used the following materials: white duct tape, fabric, pair of scissors, foam board, x-acto knife, plastic bowl, cutting board, and measuring tape.
duct tape

I started by measuring the width and height of each shelf. Once I knew the measurements that I needed, I laid out my fabric so that the patterns would match on both bookcases. I cut each piece of fabric with an extra five inches on each side.
I cut out the foam board with the x-acto knife to match the measurements of each bookshelf. After this, I tested the cut foam board piece in the bookshelf. *You may have to bend the foam board in half to get it into its space for the first time. Once I knew the foam board fit the space well, I placed the foam board on the back of the fabric. From here, I wrapped the fabric around the foam board (adhering with duct tape), like you would wrap a present. *I would suggest cutting the duct tape in advance and placing the cut pieces on the edge of a plastic bowl for easy retrieval. I started off taping down in the middle, and then worked my way out so that the fabric stretched in the appropriate places and it didn’t mess up my pattern.
kitchenaid pink bowl
foam board

foam board with fabric

foam board template

From here, I used the leftover foam board piece from the first foam board as a template. And you repeat the process until you have your desired look.
fabric paneled bookcase 

With this project you can change your fabric out with whenever you would like!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Loving Limes Year Round

Thank you for visiting. I now have a new home at www.countrypeony.com. I hope you will find me there.

One of the selling points to our new house, was the mature citrus trees in our backyard. When I saw the beautiful lime and orange trees for the first time, my eyes opened wide as I thought of all of the endless possibilities that fresh citrus could bring to our kitchen.
Lime tree

yellow labrador
Nessie, our 1-year-old lab, was my picking buddy

Today, I wanted to share with you a simple way to keep lime (or any citrus) juice fresh year round. Having mature trees means that we receive fresh limes for about half of the year. After enjoying and gifting the limes to friends and family, I felt bad as I watched the remaining limes fall to the ground. So, I decided to freeze the juice and use it later in a refreshing drink, satisfying dessert, or just as a way to liven up the dull winter months.

Start off by picking the most appealing limes. Then, wash and dry them, and set them aside. Now it is time to gather your supplies. You will need a lime juicer, cutting board, knife, cheesecloth (not featured), bowl, and ice cube trays. I would also suggest setting up your shop next to the sink (this process can get messy fast).
Once you have your supplies ready, you can start by cutting the lime in half. From here, take one half of the lime and start to press down into the lime juicer. (If you don’t have a container below your juicer, like mine, make sure that you have a container to collect the juice). Once you have enough juice in your container, take your cheesecloth and place it over the bowl. You will then pour the juice over your cheescloth and into the bowl. (You can skip this step if you don’t mind seeds and pulp in your juice). Once all of the fresh juice has been filtered through the cheesecloth, you can now pour the juice into the ice cube trays. Place the filled ice cube trays into the freezer for atleast 24 hours before you use the lime ice cubes, and then enjoy! For fun, I would also suggest placing a berry or a mint leaf in each cube prior to freezing for a nice surprise.

ice cube trays

vintage glassware
We recently enjoyed the refreshing water hinted with lime cubes at a dinner party

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