Calendars: More than Just a Time Keeper

I have done this for many of the places I have lived and still think it's a great way to recycle old calendars you love as well as have some economical art work around your home. After a calendar has finished it's year and you still love the pictures, who says you have to get rid of it? Simply pick a few of your favorite months and have them framed to put on your walls.

I really don't understand why custom framing is sooooo expensive and I can't get myself to spend the money on it, especially when the actual artwork itself is not of great value. So I will find every way around it, but still end up with nicely framed art. My solution is to take your picture/calendar to your local frame shop and have some custom mats cut and then pick out some stock frames. This way you get the custom look, but without the high costs.

With the picture shown, I had a calendar that I chose specifically for our bedroom. I picked out a linen looking mat, had them cut to size and then picked out some simple frames. I couldn't find a style and color that I liked all in one so I decided to paint them to achieve the look I wanted. I chose a champagne colored paint to pick up the lamp shades and also it is subtle enough that it doesn't make the already boxed in space too busy. The mats were about $17 each to have cut, the frames were 2 for $20 and then the paint was about $8. So all in all I only spend $69 for a custom look for two pieces - not too shabby!!

So save your calendars this year!


Burlap Sacks: Not Just for Potatoes

I have been seeing these vintage looking burlap sacks made in to pillows lately and am intrigued by them. They have ranged from rice to wine sacks that maintain the graphics on them. I think they give off such a cool casual vibe that I am itching for a place to include them in our house. Maybe when our office/family room is complete and I can get some additional upholstered chairs they could look good in there. But perhaps by then I will have moved on to something else, but I still think these are super cool. The one pictured above is from Wisteria, but as I said before, I have been seeing them more and more. Whether they are all authentic or not is not certain, but that part doesn't bother me. If I could get my hands on some old burlap sacks of my own I would make some myself, but...


Oompa Toys: How Toys are Supposed to Be!

I love children's toys with a bit of nostalgia back when when toys were simple and kids were encouraged to use their imagination. On my search to find toys for our little peanut on the way, I stumbled across Oompa Toys the other week and just had to share. Most of the toys are made in Europe and are simple like the days when life seemed to be more uncomplicated, but with a modern twist. No bells or whistles, just well made toys for kids to enjoy for years to come and parents to rest easy that they won't be on the next recall list of toys from China. I hope you have some little ones to buy gifts for this holiday season! Mine may not be here just yet, but she might have a few toys under the tree just in case ;)


Fall in to Soup

It was a blustery day today and the prefect day for a yummy cozy soup. I have made potato leek soup for years now and always enjoyed the outcome, but this time I think I hit the mark and wanted to write it down before I forgot. It turned out perfect - flavorful and creamy without any curdling.

I did a few key things differently this time. I added a little bit of wine to add some depth, used part half and half and vegetable stock instead of all lowfat milk and then heated the liquids before adding them to the soup to prevent curdling. The half and half I thought would add the creaminess I was looking for and the vegetable stock would cut some of the guilt I had from using the half and half as well as adding some more depth of flavor that is sometimes lacking in cream based soups. Then at the end, I added a little bit of fontina cheese for it's swiss cheese flavor quality and great melting abilities. Some of the time frames I listed in the recipe are not exact, but close since I was ad-libbing, however this is not a soup to just put on the stove and leave (any dairy based soup isn't) so keep an eye on it and you should be ok. But it's super quick and easy so you won't have to watch it for long. Paired with some rustic grain bread, it was the perfect fall dinner eaten by the fire - enjoy!!!

Potato Leek Soup

2 medium/large leeks (finely chopped using white and light green parts only)
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 c dry white wine
4 Tbsp flour
1 c 1/2 and 1/2
3 c vegetable stock
4 white potatoes (3-4" in diameter, 1/2" cubes))
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dill
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 c fontina cheese (finely grated)

Melt butter over medium heat then add leeks. Saute leeks until soft several minutes. Add wine to leeks, bring to a boil until liquid is reduced for several minutes. Slowly add flour to leeks stirring constantly to incorporate and cook for one minute. Warm the half and half then slowly add to leeks constantly stirring. Heat for several minutes until slightly thickened. Warm vegetable stock and then slowly add to soup constantly stirring. Add potatoes, herbs and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer soup for 10-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Occasionally stir to prevent sticking on the bottom. Add cheese and melt in soup before serving.

* Heating the half and half and vegetable stock before adding it to the soup will prevent any curdling
** Save the hard ends of parmesan rinds and put them in a soup while simmering for added flavor. Remove it before serving.


Paloma's Nest: Personal Touches

Hello - it's been a while since I have posted. The crazy wedding and party season has continued, but I think it's coming to a close just in time for the fall weather to settle in. A good friend of mine got married a few weeks ago and everything was wonderful and she was a beautiful and gracious bride. She spoiled us as bridesmaids and one of her gifts to us, I thought was so sentimental and sweet that I had to share. She gave each one of us a personalized little clay bowl with special message along with a pearl bracelet that had our initial engraved on a small charm. I am not sure wear she got the bracelets, but I know she found the bowls from Paloma's Nest on Etsy. The packaging was a perfect little package and was such a treat to open.