Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

thanksgiving 2010

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


i guess i’m a little late ;)

I’ve got a thanksgiving recap, a holiday recipe, and some baby-lovin to share with you!!

We had such a wonderful thanksgiving this year. We had friends from both New York and Virginia drive 18 hours to spend the holiday with us, and we were so happy to have them here and grateful that they made the trip! We also had friends from Dallas and Arkansas, and two of Scott’s siblings and their families! It was so wonderful to spend time with people we love and to watch my baby girl experience her (almost) first taste of the holidays. It was a whirlwind of a weekend but so worth every moment!

We had big plans on Saturday for some serious Razorback tailgating, and it was a BLAST! But to start things out, on Wednesday we lit up the fire pit in the backyard and celebrated everyone’s arrival. The next day, the whirlwind of thanksgiving set in as cooking, cleaning, and impromptu trips to the grocery ensued. Dinner started at six, and my boys were such great helps getting everything ready.

We had 18 people total for dinner Thursday night, 10 adults and 8 kids…

We had to borrow a table from Scott’s work to fit everyone :)

Early the week of Thanksgiving, I posted a round-up of free printables you could use to make your holiday table a little more special.

Well, I have a confession to make….

I didn’t use any of them!


As cute as paper printables can be, I wanted to go for an elegant, more organic look…..

and I LOVE how it turned out!!

Another confession? I was short on napkins, so half of them are actually rolled up placemats….

nobody knew the difference!

I used the candles that normally sit in my fireplace.

They used to have antique embelishments on them and were used on the tables at our wedding.

sorry for the bad iphone pic!

These pictures don’t quite do the table justice, but take it from me that it was beautiful and the candles kept us all nice and toasty as we ate :)

oh, and the table cloth is a painters drop cloth from home depot! It’s an awesome color and has great texture. Plus it’s super durable!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any other pictures from Thanksgiving. We were too busy enjoying one another’s company and wrangling kids to take any! But I do have a fabulous holiday recipe to share with you. It’s perfect for thanksgiving, because it literally tastes like fall in your mouth, but it should be just as big of a hit at your next Christmas bash!

Butternut Squash Casserole

I found this recipe over at the fabulous when she posted it in her feature Make or Buy: Toddler Meals, but can I just say, “toddler meals, my butt”?!?! I have made this recipe, with some adaptions, five times now and it has always been A HIT! Here is the recipe as  I make it.

  • 4 cups (2 1/2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 lb spicy breakfast sausage (we like it HOT!)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 teaspoons allspice
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1- 10 oz bag fresh spinach

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish or  4-quart casserole.

2. Place squash in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook al dente (6- 10 minutes) or until they become somewhat softer and turn deeper in color. Drain it and set aside.

3. In the meantime, brown the sausage in a seperate skillet until well done and slightly browned. Drain.

3. Melt the butter in the stockpot and add oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent and limp, about 8 minutes. Add the warm squash and the buttermilk, eggs, allspice, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and 1 1/3 cups cheese. Blend  until well combined. Add the sausage and spinach. Blend again.

4. Spread the mixture evenly in baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Turn up the oven to 415 and bake 15 minutes more. Serve.

picture via

Ladies, PLEASE make this recipe…

I promise it won’t dissapoint!


And I know I promsied you some baby-lovin….

Who can resist?!?!

I’m on a break from school and I’ve got lots of great posts coming for you!

Until then….

have a blessed day and enjoy this holiday season with people you love!

Click here to see the blog parties I am linking up with
Original recipe from here

a must-have tutorial: How to Paint a Brass Chandelier

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Last Friday I gave you a sneak peak into my weekend project…

To tell you the truth, it’s a project that I have been day dreaming of and planning for a while now,

So I’m pretty excited to show it to you.


I won’t be revealing the entire room yet, so you’ll just have to wait to see the rest.


Because I still want to do “just one more project”…..


Anywayyyyy… I love the look of a painted brass chandelier.

The bones of them are pretty and feminine, and if done right, they can be a great combination of a traditional elegance and bold modern color.

image via

The best part is that since they are often considered so dated, even many of the less ambitious of us end up changing them out.  Most of these end up in the trash or in a second hand shop, making them pretty easy to come by and pretty cheap too! I got mine at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for fifteen bucks.

When I first brought this beauty home, I affectionately called it “my chandy”. But the hubby told me he’d vomit if I called it that one more time asked me very kindly not to call it that anymore, so I’ve been trying to show some restraint…


Anywayyyyy…. The first thing you want to do is to make sure that your chandelier is well cleaned and free of any dust or particles. I just wiped mine down with a wet rag, paying special attention to all of those hard to reach places.

I used two different chemicals to prepare the metal for painting: Liquid Sander Deglosser and Acetone. They are pretty smelly and probably not too good for our planet, so make sure to be especially careful with them. You could probably substitute for these with different chemicals, but I already had both of them from a previous project and they both worked really well.

Use a clean dry rag and a little bit of elbow grease to rub the deglosser all over the fixture, being careful to frequently switch the portion of the rag you are using so you don’t redeposit grime back onto the chandelier.

Repeat if necessary.

(A quick tip that I have learned the hard way? If you are in doubt… it’s probably necessary. We are spending time and money on theses projects, ladies! It would be silly to skimp over a step because you are in a hurry to get things done, just to have the project turn out sub-par because of it!)

Using another clean dry rag rub the acetone onto the brass surface and into all of the little nooks and crannies.

Once everything is well cleaned, it’s time tape off. I knew I wanted the faux candle sticks to be white, so before I primed the piece I taped off only the light bulb sockets and the ends of the wire. I then sprayed the whole thing down with a primer made specifically for painting metal (Rustoleum’s Metal Primer ). I don’t know if it worked better than spray Kilz primer or not, but I can tell you that I didn’t have any problems with it and was happy with the results!

Because of all of those bitter-sweet nooks and crannies, it’s necessary to spray the chandelier from different angles, making sure to cover all surfaces and paying special attention to the bottom of the fixture, since that’s what people will be looking up at when it’s hanging over their heads. It took me 3 separate coats of primer sprayed from different angles to feel as though it was well covered.

You might want to do a little bit of light sanding with a fine grit sandpaper in between coats to get rid of any bumps or drip marks.I ran out of my high grit paper so I used a clean, gently used Brillo pad to get rid of any flecks or bumps, and then wiped it down again with a wet rag.

(Note: make sure each coat is completely dry before trying to sand or to move the chandelier in order to paint it from a different angle.)

…I have to admit that, at this point, I was reallyyyy loving the chandy (oops) already just in white. I love love LOVE just about anything in white and was almost tempted to cover the entire thing in a coat of glossy white spray paint and throw it up on the ceiling as-is…

Once the entire fixture was well primed (including the candlesticks, chain and ceiling medallion), I moved on to the top coat of the candle sticks, spraying them down with some of Rustoleum’s glossy White. It’s important to do this before painting the rest of the chandelier, because it’s waaaaay easier to tape off 6 candle sticks when painting your main color than it is to tape off the entire chandelier if you try to add the white later.


Wait until the candle sticks are COMPLETELY dry, then tape them of, making sure to press your tape down and to bring it as close to the bottom of the candle stick as possible.

Now your ready for your final color.

Oh, and at this point…. you’re going to start to get a little excited.


I think it’s definitely important to choose the right color of paint for your chandelier, so take your time and check out a couple of different brands and stores before you commit. I got lucky and found my color at The Home Depot, where I swiped up a can of Rustoleum’s Warm Yellow.

You’re going to have to do multiple coats again, so just take your time and make sure each coat covers well and is a smooth surface before moving on to the next one.

After I thought everything was well painted and dried, I carefully removed the tape from the candle sticks. This is when I noticed that the tape was pulling just a little bit of white paint off along with it and that I had missed a few spots which had been hiding from me on the actual fixture. I got out a pack of small, really cheap kids’ crafts brushes that I keep in my crafting crate (I use these when I am working with oil based paint so that I can just throw them away) and two paper plates. I sprayed my paint in a small puddle on the plate and used a brush to make the touch ups.  It worked great.

Finally, I sprayed the entire thing down with a liberal application of crystal clear enamel (I keep this on hand instead of polyurethane because I paint so many things white and polyurethane tends to yellow and discolor over time… especially on white or light colored surfaces).

Here’s my finished product:

Are you going to stop reading my blog because of my bad iphone pics…hmmm??

Hanging the light was a little bit of an intimidating idea for us, because even though I have watched it a hundred times on all of my design shows, we have NEVER done any kind of electrical work at all. Plus one of the only downfalls of our our well-built 1930’s bungalow is that it has knob and tube wiring everywhere except for the kitchen, and we weren’t sure how that would effect the project.

The sunlight was fading and we had to shut off the power to our entire house… plus we had a fussy baby. We had the old ceiling fan down and the new chandelier up in under thirty minutes…. talk about teamwork!


Here she is hanging in her new home:

We still need to patch up the ceiling and switch out Madelyn’s nightlight bulbs… but its 98% done!

If you have any questions for me about this tutorial, or anything else you see on my blog, please to not hesitate to email me at!

We were busy with this and one other project this weekend, so needless to say a few of my chores have been neglected for the past few days. I have a mile long to-do list and am going out of town this Thursday… then classes start the following Tuesday!

Hope your having a great week!

Click HERE to see the fabulous days I am linking up to.