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Have a great weekend!

New Art

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My dad gave me $40.00 for my birthday (thanks, Dad!) this year and I tucked it away until I found something I really wanted.  K has a 15 year-old friend named Ryan who is an artist.  He recently participated in an art show at a local nature reserve and we went to show our support.  As soon as I saw this painting, I knew I wanted it and just where it should hang.  I think it’s definitely a great birthday present.  I love the blues and have been trying to incorporate more of that color into our home.  It’s a nice contrast to all the orange I have going on and I believe it complements the other pieces we already have.
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I think it’s a nice addition and it made me feel good to support Ryan.  I told my dad what I’d bought and he was very pleased to have a hand in supporting a talented young person as well, which we both feel is very important.  Plus, I get to see my present every time we have dinner!

Have you bought any new art lately or been busy creating some?  Let me know.

DIY Light Blocker

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For a long time, we needed a blind for this little window in our bedroom but I could never quite find exactly what I wanted or needed at a price I was willing to pay. It also occurred to me that somewhere in the bowels of my house, I had a black curtain panel used in our last house that might be useful in such an application.  After a two-day search, I finally found it in the basement under the tool bench (???) and started my project.  I cut the panel to size, hemmed the sides and used some clip rings and a 40-inch shower tension rod from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I decided to go with a tension shower rod for the stability and lack of permanence in case I decide to upgrade down the road.
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It has worked beautifully and only cost around $11.00 for the hardware by using several BB&B coupons. (I love that they stack coupons!)
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There is still enough fabric left from the curtain panel to construct some sort of blind or shade for the large window, as well.
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We also finally agreed upon, and purchased, a ceiling fan for the master bedroom.  It’s only taken a year to decide what to do with the much-despised overhead light.  We contemplated something retro and also contemplated a different ceiling fan but could never quite come to an agreement.  J still wanted some light overhead but I didn’t want to go with a traditional looking ceiling fan with one of those ugly overhead light kits, so we did nothing.  Now that summer is upon us and it’s getting warm in our room at night, I started my search again. Finally, finally, finally, we found one we both agreed upon with nice clean modern lines at a price we could afford but then couldn’t find it in stock anywhere.  I contacted Electric Supplies Online and their awesome customer service department (hi, Kristine!) helped me get in the queue for one as soon as they were available.  After a month’s wait, I received a shipping notice and it should be here tomorrow.
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I can’t wait to get it hung.  After a full year, this will bring our master bedroom renovation to completion. Things don’t always move swiftly around here but that might also have something to do with our propensity for jumping around from project to project as the mood strikes as well as a lack of funding.  That’s okay, though.  After all, slow and steady wins the race, or something like that.  What projects are you working on right now?

Favorite Throw

I have been wanting one of these nice soft throws from West Elm for a really long time.  It’s one of those things I don’t need, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a hard-to-justify purchase, especially with a linen closet full of quilts.  I held-off for the longest time, especially when they were near full price with additional shipping charges.  Last Sunday, however, the stars aligned, the throw went on sale for $9.99 and I received a free shipping code via email.  Sold. DSC00476
I love it.  I love the color, the quality, the softness and the price.  No, I didn’t need it but I sure did want it and it seems like a rather thrifty indulgence. It’s not as thrifty as the side table I just dug out of my neighbor’s trash, which was free, but still not bad considering the original price. Besides, a side table can’t keep me snug and warm on chilly spring mornings.

Apple Strudel

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Do you get extra busy this time of year? For us the arrival of Spring also brings soccer, school plays, choir performances, home improvement projects, lawn-tending, etc.  I’ve been very busy and have lots of things to tell along with the apple strudel recipe I promised weeks ago.

This recipe comes from a cookbook I found at the library called “Bread Machine Magic“.  I bought a used copy on Amazon and have been using it to make all kinds of things in my trusty bread machine.  These look more complicated than they really are and taste amazing fresh out of the oven (although they’re quite tasty heated-up the next day).  It’s a good way to use-up some over-the-hill apples and could easily be adapted to other fruits or fillings.

Apple Strudel

For the dough (follow your bread machine instructions regarding ingredient order – mine calls for wet items first with dry ingredients on top):
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter (1 and a 1/2 sticks), softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsps. active dry yeast

Filling:
2 tbsp. melted butter
3 cups peeled, sliced apples
1 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Icing:
1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 1/2 tsps. milk

Place dough ingredients in bread pan, select “dough” setting and press start.

While the dough is going, peel and slice the apples.  Add flour, brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing thoroughly. Divide into fourths in the bowl and set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

When dough has risen long enough, the machine will beep.  Turn off bread machine, remove bread pan and turn out dough onto a heavily floured countertop or cutting board.  Divide dough into four pieces. Drape a towel over the other three pieces to keep the dough from drying out and, with a rolling pin, roll the remaining piece of dough into a  rectangle.  Spread the dough with melted butter and line with 1/4 of the apple mixture.  Starting from the long end, carefully roll up dough, pinch edges and ends to seal.  Plan the roll seem side down on prepared pan.  Shape roll into a crescent by curving ends slightly toward each other.  Repeat with the other three pieces of dough/apple mixture.  Cover and let rise in warm oven about 45 minutes or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes until brown. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.

Icing: In a small bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar and milk for the icing, adding enough milk to make the icing thin enough to drizzle on the strudel.  Once the strudel has cooled, drizzle icing on top and serve.

These are a huge hit with my family and relatively easy to make.
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I know I’ve extolled the virtues of my bread machine before but I seriously love that thing! It’s been well worth the $3.00!  We love it so much we bought another one off Craigslist brand new, still in box, after Christmas for $30.00.  I have  been known to run both at the same time.  For instance, the night we had the apple strudel, we also had pizza.
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I realize that’s not the most healthy dinner in the world but you can plainly see the veggies on the pizza which made up for it. We’re totally well-balanced around here.

So what have you been up to?  Are you busy with lots of spring activity or home improvement projects? I have lots to share with you!

It Only Took Two and a Half Years

Two and a half years ago, I posted about painting the white ‘cracks’ of my cabinet doors. Yesterday, while doing some baking, I finally finished the last of them.
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Now every cabinet door and drawer is solid orange.
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I can’t tell you how good it felt to finally cross that off my master to-do list.  Also, the apple strudel that I baked was super delish and I’ll be back later in the week with the recipe.  Right now I’m just going to hang-out in my kitchen and admire my lovely doors.
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Did you accomplish anything on your to-do list this weekend or was it nice and relaxing? Share!

New Curtains

Falling well within the category of function over form, I purchased these RITVA curtains from IKEA a couple of weeks ago. At $24.99, they’re a good price for a pair of full-length decent weight curtains.
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We’ve had other IKEA curtains hanging in our bedroom for the last four years and they have been great. The only drawback to them is their sheerness, which allows the early morning sun to stream through. I’m such a light sleeper and awaken at the crack of dawn if there isn’t anything to block the light.
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These RITVA curtains have helped immensely but I don’t really like how they look. I think I need some blinds behind them to balance things out and further block to the light but everything we do around here is one step at a time. J, however, loves them and thinks they’re perfect but that might be his way of distracting me from spending more money.
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At any rate, they’re doing their intended job and they look okay. It’s hard to balance the desire for form over function, though. It seems like there’s been a lot of functional compromise going on in our house lately and I’m feeling itchy to let my creative side take over.

Do you ever get tired of compromising with function over form or do you hold fast to your aesthetic? Please share!

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