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Archive for February, 2012

Bookcases provide a wonderful way to showcase things you love.  They are also quite functional in that they provide additional storage.  And, can’t we all use a bit more storage?

Here are some pictures (mostly from Pinterest) to provide inspiration for your bookshelves…

It’s fun to start at the back of the bookcase.  You can paint, wallpaper, add fabric or beadboard — to create an entirely different look with your bookcase and shelves.

See what a bright color can add to a bookshelf?  The coral color makes the objects on the shelves pop!

Bookshelves also make a great foundation for layering your items.  Start at the back and work your way forward.  This works great when placing artwork, trays or plates as your backdrop.

Adding baskets to bookshelves allows you to hide and store things … great for an office.

For more ideas on bookshelf styling, be sure to see my “Bookshelf Styling” board on Pinterest.

Sources:   Waterleaf Interiors (store in LA), Better Homes & Gardens, Pinterest

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Some days you need a quick & easy dinner plan.  For those days that you want to throw a few things in the crock pot and forget about them until dinner … these are for you.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

These sandwiches are great for nights where everyone is on a different dinner schedule.  Serve the sandwiches with a green salad, fresh fruit or steamed veggies — and you have a pretty healthy meal.  Add some french fries … and you’ve got a great tasting meal!

Serves 6

2 lbs. Pork Tenderloin (I buy the double pack at Costco.  I use one pack (2 pork loins) and throw the other one in the freezer)

1  1/2 cups of your favorite BBQ Sauce

1 cup water

1 Sweet Onion, thinly sliced

Sandwich Rolls – your preference (Ciabatta, Onion rolls, Trader Joe’s Pretzel Rolls)

Directions:

1.  Slice the pork loin into 2 or 3 inch hunks.  Add sliced onion, pork, BBQ Sauce and water to a crock pot.  Set crock pot to low and let it cook all day (at least 9 hours).

2.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork and onions to a large shallow bowl.  Using two forks, shred the pork.  Depending on preference, you may want to spoon extra liquid from crock pot over the shredded pork, being careful not to make pork too juicy for bread (soggy).

3.  Serve pulled pork on your choice of sandwich roll.  Serve with extra BBQ sauce.

NOTES:

  • I buy Pork Tenderloin at Costco.  It comes in a double pack.  Each pack contains two pork loins.  I use one pack for this recipe and stick the other in the freezer.
  • Our preferred BBQ Sauce is Sweet Baby Rays.
  • If you have a Trader Joe’s close by, the round Pretzel Rolls are great with pulled pork.  The rolls come 4 to a pack.

Chile Verde

William Sonoma sells a Chile Verde Starter (about $14) that makes a very flavorful meal when combined with pork or chicken.  You can serve the chile verde with tortillas, over rice or just as a stew.

Serves 6

2 lbs. Pork Tenderloin or chicken breasts

1  1/2 Tbs. Canola Oil

1 jar of William Sonoma Chile Verde Starter

Rice or Tortillas

Optional Condiments:  Sour Cream, Cilantro, Avocado, Shredded Cheese

Directions:

1.  Cut pork or chicken Breasts into hunks.

2.  Heat Canola Oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown pork or chicken.

3.  Add browned pork or chicken to crockpot.  Pour jar of Chile Verde over meat and heat on low, cooking for at least 8 hours.

4.  When ready to serve, pull pork or chicken into chunks using two forks.  Serve over rice.  Or, serve with flour tortillas using desired garnish and condiments.

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Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

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Two years ago, I started collecting old architectural prints from local antique flea markets.  My plan was to put together a picture gallery on our stairway.  My husband had an appreciation for the black and white renderings and even picked out a few himself.  And I loved picking out pieces that would one day be part of the overall collection.

All the pieces have a European flair, including a couple of architectural elements we’ve seen on our trips to Italy (e.g., Bronze doors on the Baptistery in Florence).  Most of the prints are several hundred years old with a couple of prints from the 1600s.

I’m happy to say that the project is complete!  Well … almost complete.  I have a few more to add.

Here are the “before pictures”of our stairway.

As you can see, we have a challenging stairwell.  We have a ledge that cuts the walls in half.  And the curved wall adds extra complexity – both from a visual standpoint (different planes) and physically hanging artwork.

I would mat and frame the prints as I collected them.  Most of the frames came from Aaron Brothers – got to love their 1cent sales and their 40% off coupons!  I ended up stacking them on the ledge as they were completed.

At the end of 2011, I was ready to hang the pictures.  (Or I should say, instruct my husband where to hang the pictures.)  And, I won’t include the fact that I asked my husband to help me hang the pictures one week before our big Christmas party.

I had read several blogs and had talked to several friends about the best way to hang a collection of pictures.  It seemed like placing templates on the wall was the best method.  But after cutting 6 templates, I scrapped the idea and came up with an approach that worked for Jeff and me.  And, Jeff would get to use his laser level, so Jeff was sold on the method!

Step 1:   Measure the wall space to determine available work area.

For the pictures that would hang above the ledge, I knew I wanted an 8 inch buffer from ledge to the bottom row of the pictures.  I also knew I wanted an 8 inch buffer from the corner (where the two walls come together).  Based on where the shadows fall when the ceiling lights are on, I also knew how far down from the ceiling I wanted the highest pictures placed.

Step 2:  Mark off the work area on a floor surface to layout the pictures.

It’s a bit difficult to see in the pictures, but I used string to mark off the work area (on the carpeting in our living room and dining room).  I used large pins to hold the string in place.  I actually used two string borders (one representing the actual wall and ledge corners and the second for the 8 inch buffer space).  You can use masking tape, painters tape, yarn or other areas depending on your work surface.

This provided the perfect workspace for me to rearrange the pictures on the floor until I found the desired look.  Since I was doing two walls next to each other, I actually marked off two different areas so I could see how they would look together.  This was important for me because I was using different frames (black, pewter and gold) and had several pictures that were part of a series.

Step 3:  Layout pictures exactly how you want them, find the centers of columns and measure the distance from each picture.

I took a picture of the final layouts for both walls, printed them out and wrote down the distance between each picture.  With each column of pictures, I planned to center them.  On one wall, I had 3 columns and the other wall 4 columns of pictures.

Step 4:  Using measurements and level, hang the bottom row of pictures.

Since the bottom row of pictures was to be 8 inches above the ledge, my husband hung those 3 pictures first.  They were the basis for hanging the 3 columns of pictures.  He used the laser level to hang each column of pictures.

It takes a lot of basic math to calculate where to hang the pictures.  Since each picture has different hardware for hanging, we had to measure the following items:

  • The center of each picture
  • How far down from the top of the frame to the hanging hardware.
  • For pictures with two hardware hangers, we needed to calculate the distance from the center of hardware to the center of the picture.

And the finished project …

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Here are a few last minute valentine crafts to add some Valentine cheer for your special day.

These handmade valentines are originally from a Paper Crafts magazine.  Scrapbook Girl made these adorable hearts with scrapbook papers, buttons and beads.  Step by step instructions are available  here.

These fans made of scrapbooking paper look great hanging in windows or from chandeliers … or tucked between decorative items on a fireplace mantel or bookshelf.  Pictures are from EAB Designs.

This adorable heart wreath by Craftberry Bush makes for a cute display with the simple candles and jars of sand.

And this beautiful newspaper heart wreath, also by Craftberry Bush.

These adorable valentine vases and votive holders from Rhonna Designs are made from mason jars, decorative papers, lace and ribbons.

These cute bon-bon filled hearts are easy to make.  Instructions by Martha Stewart can be found here.

Happy decorating!

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If you’ve visited here before, you may know that I love using apothecary jars in my home.  It’s a great way to add seasonal or holiday touches.  Or, to simply display collections of small items that you love.

This post is devoted to Valentine themed apothecary jars.  There are all kinds of fillers you can use for Valentine’s Day …

  • Candy – one of my favorites for Valentines!  Any thing that’s a shade of red, pink and/or white will do.  Or turquoise or lavender …

Conversation Hearts, Gumballs, Candy-coated Pretzels…


Cotton Candy, Marshmellows, M&Ms, Salt Water Taffy, Chocolate Kisses, Jelly Beans, Cinnamon Hearts … 

Hot Tamales, Licorice, Good & Plenty, Red Licorice, Butter Mints, Dutch Mints …  You get the idea!

  • Old Valentine Cards or Vintage Postcards – start saving your valentine cards each year and soon you’ll have enough for a display.

Years ago, I bought several vintage Valentine postcards at an antique flee market.  One is postmarked from 1908.  I always find a place to display them for Valentine’s Day.

  • Sugar Cookies or other Valentine Treats

  • Red and white ribbons
  • Rose Petals — fresh (although you’ll need to replenish every few days) or artificial flower petals
  • Christmas Ornaments — in red, silver or heart-shapes

I don’t pack away my red mercury ornaments after Christmas.  I use them for Valentine’s Day — along with my red and silver heart ornaments.

Sources:  Style Me Pretty, OurNiftyNotebook.blogspot.com,  HouseofSmiths.blogspot.com, Anders Ruff Custom Designs, andBeeinourBonnet.com.

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