Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow Day = Warm Pretzels

When I lived on my own I would bake pretzels every time there was a snowstorm. Not sure why this was, maybe it was the smell of something warm and gooey resonating through my apartment or just the comfort it lent from eating them while looking out the snowcapped windows. 

The tradition still lives on in my house and today is no exception. My daughter and I are now in the kitchen baking up a wonderful batch of ooey gooeyness. Of course, she's more taken with a lemon and trying to squeeze it into the dough, but it's all good. Honestly, there's really nothing that can ruin a white snowy day and seeing the snowflakes accumulate inch by inch. 

I've learned the hard way that instead of doing the whole wheat version, I'm better off with regular white flour. Of course, using the healthiest (ie, GMO-free) kind I can find! It's made my life a lot easier.  I follow Alton Brown's recipe below, but I do omit the butter. Really though, with 403 5-star ratings, how could you go wrong?

Homemade Soft Pretzels 


  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Candle

After seeing dozens of posts on Pinterest with DIY candles and jars, I decided to try my hand at it as well. I've given them as little gifts already and they're super cute and very well received. Then again, what gift isn't? The holidays are all about giving! 

What you'll need:

Jar (I used an empty jar from peanut butter we buy)
Epsom Salt
Tea light candle
String (you can use thin ribbon or twine)
Greenery (I clipped juniper from my mom's house)
Pine Cone or Cinnamon Stick- optional, I didn't use any in mine
Candy cane - optional

So what you're going to do is fill the jar a teeny tiny bit with epsom salt. Clip whatever greenery you have around and lay it inside and tie it along the rim on the outside as well. If you have tiny pine cones, you can also tie that with the green or by itself if you so wish. For some of the candles I dropped in candy canes, if only to make it merry and festive. It was a very nice touch!

I assure you that the receiver will love this gift. Make sure they light it up because that's when the magic really happens. It seriously looks like White Christmas in a jar! It reminded me of a quiet, snowy evening that sparkles and shines. I seriously could stare at it for hours on end!  

If you're on a budget like I am, this is a perfect gift to give! Happy Tidings!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Choosing the right color

Today I had a conversation with my sister-in-law and she touched upon something I've been contemplating in my space... PAINT! During that time, I also had a bunch of color swatches sitting in front of me (because I usually carry them everywhere I go in my house). These colors also happened to have been in the brown/tan family. A decadent long list of names like: Caramel Apple, Toasted Almond, Barley Harvest, Gingerbread Man, Graham Cracker, Maple Syrup, Biscuit, Peanut Shell, Gingersnaps, Baked Cumin - - the list goes on and on and makes my stomach growl.

Seriously, it took me two years to figure out which white color I was going to paint our cabinets and now I have the 'daunting' task of choosing a wall color to (gulp) compliment them. Mind you, I'm indecisive when it comes to picking out a box of cereal. It's no coincidence that I go with oatmeal every morning, it's just simple. Oatmeal, yes, now that would make a great wall color!

My sister in law's dream color? Pie Crust... perfect! Only that it doesn't quite exist, except for the one you bake. The thoughts it conjures up, though, is enough to keep me in the kitchen all day long. Not only is it a warm color, but also one that would go great with white cabinets. 

After many moments of contemplation, I finally chose a color that was suitable for the kitchen and my husband (reluctantly) painted the kitchen on his rare off-time. 

As you can see from my previous post, the blue is way gone and I couldn't be happier! Next on my list is bead board wallpaper and the kitchen walls will be complete. Of course, there's really no hurry. And yes, I've restored our nook to its original table rather than a makeshift desk. Love it much better.... for now. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

New and Improved Nook

So, apparently being pregnant means ZERO energy and motivation to write entries on this blog, BUT I have been busy at work switching up the house... don't think I'll ever run out of steam for that.

Anyway, I can go through a list of things I'd like to change about our kitchen, but it's a step-by-step process. Today, I made a giant leap. I decided to switch up the 'use' of our little nook. What resided there before was our table, what resides there now is our table -- revamped and repurposed. I took away all the chairs around it, since NOBODY really EVER sat there and it was an obstacle course to just close a window.

SOOOO, what better way to use a space than to create a little 'office' area. There's something I like about having a desk in the kitchen, such a busy area and a great way to spend time with the huz while cooking. With the addition of our chalkboard wall, my daughter can even join in on the hustle and bustle as well!

All in all, I'm happy with how it turned out. I can sit and do my work and so can my husband, instead of having to go upstairs and hide away all the time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wall Stencil

The other day I decided to try my hand at stenciling an accent wall in the living room. Being very bare - and very beige - it left a lot of room for improvement. I'm really liking how it turned out and have received many compliments; this is a great way to spruce up an otherwise lackluster area in your home. 

Before: having traced the stencil with a pencil... didn't mean to rhyme!

Okay, so how did I do it? I visited this blog written by a genius woman. Seriously, did I mention how the wall totally looks like it's been wallpapered, but without the costly price tag and mess it would require to put it on? So, here's the address to the Jones Company: 

 Still a work in progress, with my daughter's bean bag and table to contend with.

Clicking on that link above will provide a stencil for making this design. I printed it out and transferred it onto cardboard (my daughter's diaper box, to be exact). Once I had that, I began tracing the pattern onto my wall moving in a downward/vertical direction. For a step-by-step process of what I did - unfortunately, I couldn't document it since I only had two hands! - click below for directions:

  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Paint (I used leftover white BM paint from our cabinets)
  • Paint brush (from Michael's, one of those small, flat craft ones)
  • Patience
This is as easy-peasy as it gets, guys! I even did this while my daughter watched T.V.... just be forewarned though, she now thinks its okay to draw on the walls. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sconces Makeover

I've had these two sconces for the longest time, a Target purchase years ago. I have never actually used these as candle holders since I'm reluctant to hang anything flammable on my walls, so I went to the next best thing. Spindle holders, of course. 

The black color never sat well with my decor, so I decided to give them a slight makeover. I'm glad I waved my magic wand, or paintbrush, and wondered why I hadn't done it any sooner! The look is shabby chic and now instead of sticking out like blue thumbs they blend in nicely with everything else.

Check it...




Friday, June 1, 2012

Bleach and Colors

As many well know, I love anything white, neutral, nautical striped or anything vibrant that plays a supporting role to the aforementioned.  This is as natural to me as a button-down shirt, line dried sheets in the summer, fluffy pillows, and a 'come hither' couch that beckons to be sat upon. I also know I'm not the only one who gravitates towards these summer tones. 

With that said, my latest visit to Pottery Barn magnified these very little likings. I couldn't help but think that these rooms were an exact replica of the house in 'Something's Gotta Give'. You all know what I'm talking about... Diane Keaton's retreat on the beach that was perfectly styled and resembled more of a show room than a house! Seriously, my house is too busy being scribbled on with crayons (along with our white furniture) and cluttered by my daughter's toys. 

Well, we can all dream of plunkering down on one of these after a long day. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eye Chart Chic

Here's an Anthropologie 'snippet', a scene looking upon a couch and the space behind it. Need I mention how awesome that wall color is, especially against the colorful couch? 

A fabulous way for DIY art and to create something super unique. I was thinking of doing this myself with maybe a piece of Scripture. All you'll need are two clips and a large piece of paper. How easy is that! 

Quirky definitely resides here, care to pull up a seat?

"Darling let's be adventurous"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


If a picture is worth a thousand words then a frame must be worth even more, or at least worth-y of the image it encapsulates.

Here is such a frame. I picked up a set of four at a thrift store a couple years ago and they have been sitting in our garage in desperate need of a makeover. I wasn't sure what I would do with them, but knew I had to pick them up simply because, well, they just don't make 'em quite like this anymore!

So here's a tutorial on how to transform a frame from drabbiness to shabbiness:

I love the intricate detail and how sturdy they are. I wanted to showcase every nook and cranny, so I was careful to be easy-handed with the paint. 

I wanted white (of course), but didn't want it to be too stark, so diluting it with another color and water helped tremendously. 

I took a paint brush and stroked away.. 

I used three parts Wicker White and one part Bleached Sand to create the final color, and thinned it out with a lot of water. 

I was left with this after one coat of paint and wanted to bring out the details.

So, I began scraping the lifted parts and scraping away at some of the paint. 

I used my daughter's spoon handle! 

Then a clothes pin to 'dirty' those spots up, until finally I used a scruff pad. No pics since my hands were super dirty at that point! Scruff pad really did the job..

Some of that original color came through, which made it really nice. 

Then my daughter joined in on helping me!

Last step was taking a black marker and just slightly going over those lifted parts for even more dimension and detail.

The end result actually is pretty great! Between the paint, scruffing, and marking, the frames look like they were born this way. End result: a set of patina frames that scream to be displayed. 

Stay tuned for what I actually do with them...