Articles

Silver Leaf Paint: The Easy Way To Get The Look Of Silver Leaf!

Posted on Mar 10, 2014

mirror finished bathroom remodel product

 

 Master Bathroom Mirror Makeover

One thing I knew would be so important for our bathroom remodel was to have a nice large mirror over the bathtub.  A mirror would appear to enlarge the space and reflect light, both important for a small master bath.  Besides, they’re so pretty!  The trick was finding the right size and shape mirror in the right color.  Luckily, after a lot of searching for both, I found the right mirror and the right paint to get to that right color.

The secret to sanity when remodeling an old home is accept that standard sized items aren’t going to fit in your non-standard size house when it comes to replacing things.  My house was built 57 years a go and not one thing has been a standard size.  So when we remodeled the bathroom, I wasn’t surprised to find not one standard mirror size was going to work. A quest to consignment stores to find a mirror of the right size , shape and color was the answer.  When finding all three proves frustratingly impossible I found it easiest to settle for the right size and shape. I am an expert at using spray paint!

 

Wood frame with tape

The original finish on the mirror is fine, but not what I was looking for. I love the detailed texture and the size was perfect!

 

After a lot of searching I finally found a great looking mirror at a decent price with a nice size frame in the right size and shape for over my tub at a consignment shop, but it came in brown.  Knowing I wouldn’t find a better fit, I bought it planing to do a quick spray paint job to get it just right. Lord knows I’m no stranger to spray paint. So I set out to find a perfect soft, silvery finish that would make my new mirror just right for over the tub.

I started at a big box store for silver spray paint.  How hard could it be? There was not one decent silver color.  Ugh. I checked my local hardware store…same thing.  Then I headed to the local craft store- again every silver color was awful! I wandered over to the silver-leafing area and realized I love the look of silver leaf, but the process of multiple steps over such a large piece was out of my price and patience range. OK, really out of my patience range! So you can imagine my delight when I found silver leaf paint!

 

Liquid Leaf bottle

 

It doesn’t look exactly like silver leaf, but it is far and away better than any can of spray paint I could find!  It was super easy and I absolutely love the results!

 

4 East Steps to Refinishing With Silver Leaf paint.

1. Make sure all surfaces are clean and grease free.

2. Use a liquid sanding product to make the surface more ready to accept paint and remove any sealant.  A quick, light wipe is all you need. Dry off if necessary.

3. Tape off the mirror so you get nice, clean edges.  I covered the rest of the mirror with paper towels that I moved around as I worked.

 

264

 

4. Use a brush to apply.  I did it in one coat and went back to do touch ups.  The paint splatters a little (lots of little droplets) and dries really fast.  I like the texture they can add.

 

splatter silver leaf

 

That’s it! You’re done.

 

Silver mirror painted

 

It took me about an hour to clean and paint a 4’x5′ mirror. It dried beautifully and looks spectacular in my bathroom! I would use that silver leaf paint again in an instant.  Even with the steam from my baths, the paint has held up beautifully.

 

Master bathroom remodel tub

 

The finished product again.  I couldn’t be happier with my new mirror!

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the stores or products mentioned in this post.  Of any kind. At all.  Heck, I don’t even have ads!

Should you choose to do a project like this please remember to always follow the directions on the label of any paint and paint stripping products:0)

 

 

 

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The Flower Market

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

flower market and Katie's 007

Adventure Day at the Flower Market

It’s impossible to have a bad day when it starts at the flower market! Imagine rows and rows of gorgeous flowers, greens, and orchids in every color and kind lined up for your perusal.  That is the wholesale flower market experience and I got to go today (lucky me!).

 

My local wholesale flower market is in Carlsbad (at the north end of San Diego).  This is where wholesale growers and importers sell their cut flowers, greens, and plants to florists and the those in the flower business.  In a large warehouse 20 or more vendors line up buckets and buckets of cut flora for buyers to gather and purchase.  Since flowers are perishable, most florists get fresh flowers three days a week from this type of market.

 

flower market Katies 6

 

As I’m sure you can imagine, the place smells heavenly! Roses, tuberose. lilacs and mums, to name a few, perfume the air and make it an olfactory experience like no other.  Literally hundreds of thousands of blooms are all contributing their fragrance in one building.  The temperature is always cool in a wholesale flower warehouse to ensure freshness and longevity of the flowers.  The combination of fragrance and cool temperature always takes me back to my first visit to the LA flower market several years ago…

 

flower market

 

I was a freshman in college studying Ornamental Horticulture and one of my required class options was Floral Design.  We had a mandatory field trip to the Los Angeles flower market from school.  I remember I had to get up at 2:00 a.m. to get to school by 3:30 a.m. so we could be at the flower market at 5:30 a.m., half an hour before they opened for a special tour ( and so we could see it before the mad scramble at 6:00).  The first time I saw all those flowers my jaw dropped.  I recognize everyone thinks flowers are pretty, but when you’re a flower person through and through as I am, there’s something magical about a place like the flower market that touches your soul.  I can only compare it to walking into a warehouse of different kinds of money stacked and piled everywhere. I’d found nirvana and wanted to roll in it! It didn’t matter how exhausted I was, I couldn’t stop looking at all those flowers.  Every kind and variety and color imaginable.  How could I leave that place?  It was perfect!  Eventually our instructor made us leave, but I will never forget that day.

 

flower market and Katie's 001

 

I flashed back to that day when I walked into the wholesale flower market warehouse today.  Flowers and color and color and flowers were everywhere!  I wanted them all.  My purpose, however was to select options for 20 centerpieces I am making for a friend’s luncheon and to scout flower types and colors for another friend’s daughter’s wedding.  We’ll call that friend Kathy.  She came with me to check out colors and types of flowers for her daughter. Part of the fun of arranging flowers for friends is I get to play with the flowers and they have to pay for them :0) .  That is one of my favorite things EVER!

 

flower market and Katie's 008

 

Within a few visits to vendors I knew what I needed for my friend’s luncheon.  Meanwhile, Kathy was having the experience I had in college and was mesmerized by the flowers, fragrance, and color.  I saw the look in her eyes and knew we were not getting out of there empty handed!

 

flower market and Katie's 011

 

Originally, it was just a scouting mission, but when she saw all those beautiful flowers she decided to buy a bunch of each type she thought she wanted for the wedding and I agreed to make up samples for her when we got back to my house.  Before long our arms were loaded with several clusters of blossoms and greens classically wrapped in newspaper. In fact, we got so many she decided to buy a bucket from a vendor so we could keep them in water until we got home. We joked that the flowers were only worth a dollar, but the bucket was priceless!

For the wedding Kathy was looking for a cross between glam and vintage. Keeping in mind the wedding colors are blush, silver and white we chose:

 

flower market and Katie's 019

 

  • Geraldine roses
  • White and green hydrangeas
  • White kale
  • Green hanging amaranth
  • Dusty miller
  • Pink rice flower

We drove home and set up a small table in the garage.  Kathy timed me to see how long it would take me to make an arrangement.  Twenty minutes later this was the result:

 

tall  arrangement for Katie

 

Green amaranth trails down from the arrangement mimicking the tapered vase.

 

close up for Katie

 

Isn’t this a magnificent combination?! “Kathy” did a great job choosing a great variety of coordinating colors and textures.  I love the green edged creamy kale (on the right) and the touch of gray from the dusty miller ( lower left) with the blush colored “Geraldine” roses.  The doted pink rice flower finishes it off beautifully!

Happily, both mother and daughter were quite smitten (honestly, I was too!).  All in all, a trip to the flower market, an impromptu flower design opportunity and a day with a dear friend equals a very good day! I hope your day was great too:0).

 

 

 

 

 

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Master Bathroom Remodel: A Tiny Space Gets a Masterful New Look

Posted on Mar 2, 2014

Master bath before

 Master Bathroom Remodel: Before (Above)

 

Remember when I said we bought a fixer-upper?  Well, I wasn’t kidding.  We’ve been working away at it and we’re finally done with phase 1, the master bedroom and bathroom makeover. As part of the redo we did a master bathroom remodel of a tiny bathroom which had one small sink, a shower with a tiny window, a toilet, and a closet. Yes….A full closet in the bathroom.  (?!?)

In order to make it more usable we incorporated a small hallway that lead to the two small bedrooms into the bathroom and removed the closet.  Once we did that we had a clean foot print of the bathroom to work with. Unfortunately, the water heater couldn’t be moved so we were stuck with and odd protruding corner, but it was a small price to pay for a better bathroom. 

Of all the rooms in the chopped up, poorly mishmash-ed multi-renovation nightmare house, none were suitable for a master.  So we ended up taking the two front bedrooms and bathroom, and turning them in to the master suite with an on-suite bath, walk in closet and washer/dryer area. I loved all the windows across the front of the two rooms (the front porch is outside and there’s handy door to the side yard which is great for letting out the dogs in the middle of the night without having to get out of bed!).  The light in the room is lovely in the morning and in the afternoon, and it’s cool in the middle of the day since its on the Northeast east side of the house. It was the perfect choice for a master suite. Of course, that meant there were issues.  The two rooms had ceilings going two different directions.  One was an original room and one was part of an add on so it had the newer slanted ceiling.  And, of course, that meant the old one had to be torn out since who’s going to turn down a higher ceiling? But that’s another post!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am a bath girl.  I love taking baths.  Especially on a cold afternoon, there’s nothing like a relaxing soak, and with all the work we are doing ourselves, a nice hot soak is just the ticket to revitalize sore muscles.  So when I planned for the bathroom, I knew it had to have a tub.  Lucky for me The Mister knew it too.   So even though we were working with a small space, a tub was a must.  We obviously also needed a shower, toilet, sinks (two sinks is the sectret to a long and happy marriage) and some storage.  And, since we live close to the beach, a door to the side yard for easy clean up access was another must.  Then, for ventilation, a small window that can be opened to let out the steam had to be included.  Right.  Tub, shower, toilet, double vanity, storage, window, and a door in that tiny bathroom…

Well, with a lot of planning and the use of Auto CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) software, we were able to get it all in.   One thing you learn when you buy an old house its that things are never ideal.  When you buy a brand new home, all the spaces have been planned and proper distances are allowed and things like windows and doors are amply alloted for.  When you buy a fixer, especially an old one that has been remodeled in many different decades, things are often no longer ideal.  This is an important lesson for those of us who like to remodel.  And sometimes a hard pill to swallow.  But when you have limited resources,  you have to make the best decisions you can for the situation you’re presented with.  That’s what we did.

 

Here are the results of our Master Bathroom Remodel:

 

To start, the door had to go on the outside wall where the shower was.  The shower got moved to the opposite corner of the bathroom behind the entry door.  This is one of those non-ideal situations, but it works.

 

before and after master shower

 

Above left: the closet has been cut and the new wall, pushed into the old hallway, has been built. The blue box is for the new light switches. Above right: The door is closed and the finished shower, which is behind the door when it’s opened, is open and airy with frame-less glass.

The sink console has two sinks so I don’t have to look at the mister’s face trimmings and he doesn’t have to see my makeup splatters.  It was a great Craig’s List find from a bathroom warehouse company.  The counter top marble had be damaged so they were selling it, sinks included, for $200!!!  Yeah, a little epoxy and it’s invisible.  The added bonus was that the console was designed to look like furniture so it had feet.  The Mister and I are tall, so we simply swapped out the shorter feet for longer ones we found at Lowes.  It fits us perfectly now!  For vanity mirrors, we chose recessed medicine cabinets that are taller than average to gain more space.

Sink before during during

 

Above left: The bathroom as we found it when we moved in, one sink and the world’s shortest toilet! Above middle: The wall separating the bathroom from the hall has been revoved as has the old light fixture, mirror and framed shower. Above right: The sink wall is stripped to the studs and the new double sink console awaits new feet and an installation.

 

master bathroom sink console after

 

Above: the double sink console, sconces and rlarge recessed medicine cabinet mirrors give our small bathroom big appeal!

The claw foot tub is a 5 footer, even though I’m very tall.  It works great because it has the slanted back.  I never overheat because I can have either my torso or my feet out and it’s nice and deep.  (WARNING: if you like slipper tubs pay attention to where the drain overflow hole is.  My old tub only allowed 6″ of water before it hit the overflow, even though the tall back of the tub was almost 30″.  Not cool!)

 

Tub corner before during and after master bath reodo

 

Above: It’s hard to believe this is all the same corner! Left: We took out the closet and (middle) put in my lovely tub. The first picture (left) shows the closet wall being removed. The middle picture shows the tile done on the floors and walls and the tub and fixtures in with blue tape to determine where to drill the holes to hang the mirror.  When you’re drilling into tile you don’t want to drill twice! The last picture (right) is the finished product.  That dark corner from the left it unrecognizable as the same space!

We decided to wrap the entire shower/tub area in the same large scale subway tiles for continuity .  The flooring in the shower is the same as the floor for the same reason.  I love the frame-less glass shower doors!  They are so easy to keep up with a simple squeegee.

 Shower collage master bathroom remodel

 

Making the most of space is a must in a small bathroom.  A built-in niche in the shower (upper right) provides shampoo storage. The same tile in the shower and on the floor make the room look bigger by not chopping up the space (lower right)  The finished product (left).

 

shower in master bathroom remodel after

 

Below: The door is only 2′ wide and is a leftover from a friend’s remodel, but is perfect for getting to a shower after a day at the beach without having to track sand through the whole house.  A simple window panel on a swinging curtain arm allows light and privacy with easy. The small window lets steam out and a breeze in and a king size pillow case on ringed clips works great as a curtain. That’s teddy photo-bombing the picture.

 

Door

 

A beautiful piece from Restoration Hardware that we brought with us from the old house sits between the sink console and the door to the master bedroom.  It’s pretty and provides valuable added storage space (below).

 

Storage in Master bathroom remodel

 

Once the fixtures were in in it was play time!  What’s the saying?  Accessories are the jewelry of a room?  I wanted to keep it simple so to keep the space from feeling cramped so all of the walls are white and all of the metals are silver, and mostly chrome for shine. Three Restoration Hardware sconces create balance and light the vanity mirrors.  For contrast, a small, round, large-framed mirror from Home Goods ($20!) reflects light that comes in through the window and door.  A lovely maiden hair fern in a decorative urn (a favorite family piece) provides the only color.

 

Mirror, sconce fern

 

A consignment store mirror with some silver leaf paint was just the thing for over the bath to help the room look bigger and be brighter.  A simple modern/glam chandelier is the piece d’resistance for over the tub. I love my new bathroom!

 

Master bathroom remodel tub

 

Our old house had a bathroom bigger than most living rooms and I hated it.  It took for ever to clean and was never cozy.  I loved the finishes and the view, but I felt like a slave to it.  With a smaller bathroom I could afford really nice finishes, make it very functional, and still add the touches that make it feel cozy without being cramped.  I no longer have a dreaded “cleaning day” for this bathroom.  Instead, I can clean the whole thing in under 10 minutes and be done!  Ahhh.  For us this remodeled master bathroom is pefect!

 

 

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Game Changing Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

Posted on Feb 25, 2014

Three toasted homemade marshmallows

 

Homemade marshmallows beat store bought marshmallows hands down.  Every time!  Softer, waaay more flavorful, and easier to get that caramelized toasty-ness, homemade marshmallows are pure yum yum yum! And I have a delicious marshmallow recipe you’ll want to give a try.

 

marshmallow cube

 

With the cold this winter what better way to warm up than a roasty-toasty super delicious home made marshmallow over a cup of steaming hot cocoa or coffee? Or maybe you like them in a s’more sandwiched between graham crackers and covered in melty chocolate.  Yep, homemade marshmallows take that classic dessert up a notch! Or maybe you like your marshmallows simple and pure, just as they are. You haven’t had a toasted marshmallow until you’ve tried one that’s homemade.  The one’s you buy in the bag…forget it.  Homemade marshmallows are orders of magnitude better!

When I set out to try making my own I had no idea how on earth to get started, particularly because I had no idea what the ingredients are or how they are made.  Yeah, I don’t have many of the ingredients listed on the marshmallow bag.  I can’t  even pronounce many of them. Hello, Google! I found a recipe from Martha Stewart that, although thin on details, with a bit of trial and error, worked great. And -oh my gosh- the taste! They’re fantastic plain, but when you toast them, Hallelujah! With the powdered sugar coating, this marshmallow recipe makes the outside get caramelized and crispy like the top of creme brulee and the inside gets soft and warm much faster that the bagged kind.  Yep, squishy, crispy, sweet and leagues better than anything you can buy in a bag.  With this marshmallow recipe, it’s like a completely different, better-than-you-could-have-imagined animal.  So much so, you won’t want to go back to bagged marshmallows ever again!

 

snowflake marshmallow cut outs

 

I’ve made the marshmallow recipe two ways.  The first time I made it I use a 9 x 12 glass pan and got thick, fluffy square marshmallows perfect for all the traditional ways marshmallows are used.  Then I made the recipe again and used a larger glass dish so the marshmallows would be thinner so I could cut them with a snowflake-shaped cookie cutter to make large ( but thin) marshmallows perfect for floating on top of hot cocoa or coffee:0)

 

snowflake marshmallow with sugar

 

My favorite way to toast the marshmallows is to use a small blow torch.  Yep, right from the garage. ( I learned that from a local restaurant that serves a homemade marshmallow all toasty with a cafe mocha.  The waitress will even come back and re-toast it after you’ve eaten off the first layer!) The high heat caramelizes the powdered sugar coating to perfection! I can put a couple of marshmallows on a skewer and toast them just exactly how I like them in about 7 seconds.   Then I eat that crispy layer right off, savoring every sweet, sticky bite and re-toast the remaining marshmallow for another crunchy layer… decadent and YUM! Hey, there’s no extra calories for extra toasting! I suppose if I had a kitchen torch it would work just as well, but the one from my husband’s tool box works great.

 

Marshmallow recipe

 

Think about how you like your marshmallows…toasted, plain, in hot cocoa.  Them imagine your marshmallows so much better than anything you’ve had.  That’s what this recipe will give you.  Plus, it might just make that millionth cold day a little more tolerable:0)

 

snowflake marshmallow in coffee

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe and Tips

This is the recipe I used from Martha Stewart.    Here are a few tips that will help you be more successful:

  • Conveniently, the gelatin comes in a box of four pouches.  Just watch the size of the pouches you purchase because they are different.
  • Get a good candy thermometer.  You need to get the temperature right to get the right consistency for your marshmallows.
  • Use a stand mixer because the “batter” needs to mix for all of those 12 minutes!
  • Grease under the parchment and on top of the parchment.  Marshmallow mixture is sticky!
  • Use more cooking oil or powdered sugar on your knife when you cut the marshmallows and quickly pull them apart.  Once they ‘re rolled in the powdered sugar they won’t be as sticky.
  • Be generous with the powdered sugar coating.  That’s what makes them caramelize so well!

 

 

 

 

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Outdoor Living Easy DIY Concrete Stain

Posted on Feb 20, 2014

Concrete stain before and after

A DIY Outdoor Living Upscale.

As you know if you read my profile, The Mister and I bought a major fixer-upper a couple of years ago.  We have been madly cleaning, hauling, weeding, etc., etc.  It’s been a lot of work. The only redeeming quality to the house was the front porch. It’s a small porch, but charming and comfortable, out of the elements with a lovely view for watching the world go by.  We often have coffee or an adult beverage there on the weekends or after a long day.  The only drawback to the front porch was the state of the concrete.  It had been stained twice with two different colors that had long since worn thin. So we decided it was time for a DIY concrete stain project to reseal the front porch since it’s a quick and easy (as well as relatively affordable) way to spruce up tired concrete.

 

Concrete stain half done with can

 

Our porch wasn’t just worn thin. One Halloween I tried a trick I saw on Pinterest with that glow-in-the-dark liquid that comes in glow sticks.  The photo showed eerily glowing liquid oozing down a driveway. So clever and creative! I poured some down the fronts of our steps like I had seen on the post.  Bad idea.  The liquid ate through whatever stain was left where I poured it by the next morning. Lesson learned: no matter what you see on Pinterest, do not cut glow sticks open! Not only was our concrete worn thin, now it had weird drippy marks down the front of the steps.  Not a good look.

 

Concrete stain before

 

It bugged me forever to come home to that awful looking porch, but with so many other more important improvements to make, we just finally got around to re-staining the porch.  Without equivocation I can say it was the quickest, easiest, most rewarding project we have done!  I was a bit reluctant at first because of the potential need to etch or whatever they say the multi-step process needs to be. In our case, it was a matter of a quick sanding and the application of the stain.

 

Concrete stain with Rustoleum can

 

The first coat goes on quickly and is very transparent. By the third coat, a rich, deep patina develops.

 

First coat

First coat

 

Concrete stain coat 3

Third coat.

 

Ta da! The finished stained concrete.

Concrete stained stairs

 

Probably the most time consuming part was trying to match what was already there since the original color looked great with the stacked stone walls.  Finding the wrong color was really easy!  I’ll save you the gory details and get right to what worked.

Here’s the Concrete Staining Process

1. Find the right color:  If you’re trying to match what’s already there, the only way to do it is to get a bunch of samples until you find one that is closest. Most concrete stains come in very limited colors so you may have to look outside the limited pallets. Paint, concrete stain, wood stain, whatever type of product doesn’t matter. Take your perfect sample to Dunn Edwards because they can color match solid (versus transparent) stains.  I found a wood stain color from a different paint company that was closest to our color and they nailed it!  Bingo!

2.  Start with a clean surface: We pressure washed our front porch to make sure all loose debris and dirt were gone for the most uniform application.

3. Sand the surface.  The Mister used and electric hand sander to rough up the concrete surface so the stain would sink in.  This is where some surfaces, especially if they have been sealed, need to be etched. Check with your local paint store to find out if you can bypass the etching process or test a small area (after it’s been sanded) with the stain.  If the stain soaks in, you’re good to go.

4. Be sure to clean the sanded areas. We pressure washed again and let the concrete dry.

5. Apply the stain to a small area at a time, adding as many coats as needed for the desired effect. The mister simply used a brush and applied a heavy coat of stain to about 1/3 of the porch at a time.  He let the stain sink in and then applied two more coats, allowing for dry time in between.

 6. Finish in small sections. We broke the front porch into three sections plus the stairs.

It is impossible to overstate how happy we are with the finished product!  It is such a pleasure to come home to a front porch that is clean and welcoming instead of an eyesore.  I could say I wish we’d done it sooner, but then I might have poured the glow stick goo on my beautiful newly stained concrete and messed it all up. So I guess waiting was better.

Since we re-stained the porch, it has become a little slice of heaven in a very big. overwhelming, not-so-good-looking project. Now when we sit on the front porch to watch the sunset we get to relax rather than be stressed by an the ugliness of an eyesore… and pretend that the whole house is done:0)

If you have a concrete area that is an eyesore, give concrete stain a try.  Then you’ll have your own little slice of heaven.

 

 

 

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Easy Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Posted on Feb 17, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Happy Valentine’s cinnamon roll waffles to me!

Recently The Mister and I have been watching “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri on The Food Network.  It’s something we both enjoy and the variety of places he visits keeps it interesting.  On the episode we saw recently, a chef made a waffle from stuffing, topped with a turkey dinner.  It looked a little weird at first, but then when we saw how he used the raw stuffing and cooked it up nice and crisp, we saw a whole world of waffle opportunities open up!  I can’t remember the name of the restaurant where he was (there were a lot of waffle items on the menu), but we were so inspired by it that The Mister went out and got me a waffle iron for Valentine’s Day.  I was not the least but offended (as a modern day woman might be) as I knew he would be the one to use it the most. Plus, I was secretly hoping to try cinnamon roll waffles.  Yum!!

Yep, crispy, crunchy sweet waffles laced with cinnamon and sugar swirled to the very edges topped with drizzled icing and real maple syrup sounded like the best waffle I could imagine.

 

Cinnamon Roll Waffle with syrup

 

Ever. In the history of the world.

I had seen the pictures on Pinterest of canned cinnamon rolls as waffles and was pretty sure whoever thought of that was a genius.  Ruby’s, a local eatery here in Southern California serves some pretty over-the-top cinnamon roll french toast, but the waffle version had never occurred to me. In fact I thought about it all day on Valentine’s which swerved into obsession by Valentine’s night (I’m not proud of that).   I just kept imagining the crispiness of the waffle and the icing melting into it with smatters of caramelized cinnamon goodness in each bite…I even considered having cinnamon roll waffles topped with ice cream for Valentine’s dessert, but decided to hold off until breakfast. Hey, it could still happen…

 

Canned Cinnamon rolls on waffle iron

 

I was so happy when I woke up this morning and it was time to try them.  I used the Pillsbury Grands cinnamon rolls since they’re larger than the regular ones and neither The Mister nor I were disappointed.  I’m not saying canned cinnamon rolls as waffles would beat homemade cinnamon rolls turned into waffles, but as far as ease and quickness goes, the canned version wins.

There are a few tricks to using a dough in a waffle maker vs. batter, so with some trial and error, here’s what I learned worked best.

 

raw Cinnamon roll on waffle iron

 

1. Heat up your waffle iron as you normally would.  Place one roll in the center of the iron.  There’s no need to smash it down.  Close the lid and turn as usual.

2. Listen to the sizzling sound (much like you listen for popcorn in the microwave).  Once the sizzling dies down or stops, turn the waffle back up and it’s done.  This is roughly half the normal amount of time needed for a waffle made with batter.  Don’t wait for the ready light as your waffle will be over cooked.  The cinnamon will look dark which is because it’s caramelized.

3.  Meanwhile, heat up the icing (minus the metal lid) in the microwave (as specified on the package) and use a spoon to drizzle the icing over your waffle.  Top with maple syrup or whatever you think would be great on your waffle!

It’s that easy! Be sure and clean out any residual cinnamon chunks before making more cinnamon roll waffles as the sugar will cause it to burn on your next waffle.  I just used a dry paper towel to wipe any out.

 

cinnamon roll waffle cooked

 

If you love packaged cinnamon rolls you will love this! The waffle is firm and crisp.  you an taste the cinnamon in just about every bite.  The icing gives it it’s signature sweetness and the maple syrup seals that deal that it’s a waffle. Yum!  It may not be four star restaurant fare, but it sure is easy, quick, affordable and yummy.  That begs the question… what else can I put in my waffle maker?  Maybe I’ll try cookie dough next!

What have you made in your waffle iron?  I’d love to hear your creative ideas. Drop me a message!

 

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Pillsbury or any waffle iron companies.  Bummer.

 

 

 

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Save Water, Save Money: Seal Terracotta Pots With A Household Product

Posted on Feb 13, 2014

terracotta pots sealant

How To Seal Terracotta Pots With What You Probably Already Have At Home.

Terracotta pots are a staple in many gardens and landscapes and are used for everything from decorative plantings to raised gardens to fish ponds and fountains. Terracotta, or ‘baked earth” pottery is made from fired clay and gets its beautiful colors from the iron found in the material.  Its beautiful, versatile and can be cheap… which is why I like it.  The only drawback to terracotta is that it is porous so plants have to be watered a lot more frequently. A lot more. Not good if you want to save money and save water. In particular, if you get the lighter colored pots that weren’t burnished before being fired, you’ll be watering those plants every day- sometimes twice a day. Who wants to have to do that?! The clay just sucks the water right out of the soil and then it evaporates out of the pots.  The trick to saving money and having great looking plants that you don’t have to water all the time is to seal your pots with stone sealant that you probably already have.

I bought these great terracotta pots with their flat back-sides so I could have plants against the fence in a narrow concrete side yard.  They are right outside my bathroom window and frame the view.  They were a great deal because they were not burnished before firing, as their counterparts, the classic darker pots with the raised band around the top are.  But they were cheap…and they are perfect…  So I bought them.  I hadn’t bought this type of terracotta in a long time so I was shocked to find how much more water they use.  It felt like my plants might as well have been planted in a screen.  Seriously! I can’t tell you how many plants I lost in just a day or two because I didn’t water them soon enough.  Blamo! One day missed and the plant was dead.  GRRR….

 

terracotta pots sealant

 

Finally I had enough and asked The Mister (a Chemical Engineer) what would work best.  I had tried latex (and other stuff I can’t remember!) a long time ago to seal pots that didn’t work.  I figured he was going to tell me some long chemical name and it would be a bear to find and annoying to use and whaa, whaa, whaa.  Turns out I was completely wrong.  The solution was in my garage already!  He suggested I use the leftover stone sealer we used on our travertine floor.  It doesn’t even matter which brand you have.  If it’s meant to seal stone, it’s perfect! If you don’t have granite counter tops or traverine floors that you keep sealant around for, no worries.  Buy the cheapest stone sealant you can find.  It’ll be great.

Stone sealant is what you use every time you seal your granite or marble.  Granite rock and marble slabs or tiles are all stone. Whether you have stone counter tops or floors, you have to seal them from time to time and that same sealant will do wonders for your terracotta pots! Bonus: sealing your terracotta pots, even the classic kind, will help them last longer.

How To Seal Your Terracotta Pots

 1.  Always follow the instructions on the container.  Mine specified a well ventilated area so I did it outside on paper on the driveway.

2. Start with a clean dry pot.  My pots had been used so I had to empty them, clean the soil out and let them dry overnight.

3. Use a  clean, dry brush and cover the inside, outside, and bottom of the pot. You will see the pots suck up the sealant.  I made sure to coat the bottom of the inside very well since gravity makes water loss even worse there.

4.  It will dry really fast.  Add another coat as soon as it’s dry.  And a third.  Cover every square inch well for best results.  It took me about 30 minutes to put three coats on both pots.

5. Let it dry overnight and you’re ready to plant!

 

sealed terracotta pots  close

 

What’s really nice is that the sealant doesn’t change the soft texture of the pots the way a glaze would. Plus, the process is super easy and I can personally attest to the fact that the water consumption of my plants (technically pots) has gone down dramatically.  I only need to water once a week at most since I sealed my pots and my plants are thriving!  They are almost as water wise as a glazed ceramic pot aaaand, with the drought in California right now, it’s one of the easiest ways to save water and one of the easiest ways to save money!

Try which ever stone sealant you have on your terracotta pots.  Your potted plants will require less frequent watering, your pots will last longer, and you’ll save money:0).

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Dunn Edwards.  I’m just glad they can color match!

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Top Secret for Perfect Cake!

Posted on Feb 10, 2014

The Cake Mix Doctor coconut cake

 

Let’s face it, making a cake from scratch is chemistry at it’s finickiest. If you’re not precise and careful about mixing and baking you’re likely to end up with a dense brick or a floppy mess.  I’ll never forget putting in a whole day to make an elaborate coconut cake from scratch to end up with something that can only be called thousand-pound cake.  {Waa waa.} What’s a cake lover to do?  I found the most delicious, easiest, quickest, most reliable cake recipe book ever.  The variety of options goes far beyond the usual fare (175 recipies!). How about the one’s I’ve tried like Tiramisu Cake,  Lemon Lover’s Cake and Toasted Coconut Cake, so delicious people you don’t even know will invite you to their parties just because they want you to bring your cake?! That may sound a bit extreme, but every one was delicious, came out perfectly, and was easy to make.  Not exotic enough? How about Snicker Doodle Cake, Peaches and Cream Cake, or Tomato Soup Spice Cake.  And not just layer cakes, but bundt cakes, cupcakes, bars, cookies and all kinds of fast, fool-proof, delicious desserts  The secret to moist, delicious, easy homemade cakes and desserts….drumroll… The Cake Mix Doctor, by Anne Byrn.

About a year ago I took a cake decorating class and found I could not get a from-scratch recipe to come out right.  The “mix” cakes were too chemical-ly  tasting and in frustration I asked my instructor how she made such delicious cakes.  Her secret?  The Cake Mix Doctor.  She makes loads of cakes for classes every week and doesn’t have the time to make them all from scratch, she explained.  ‘Nuf said!  I was sold and ordered it that night.

How can I call boxed cake mix recipes homemade you ask?  These cake recipes from The Cake Mix Doctor start with cake mix for their reliability, but are then “doctored” making them unrecognizable as “mix” cakes.  The best part is Anne and her team have done all the trials and errors for you in her test kitchens so you get to skip all the testing and do what works right off the bat. For better flavor she adds ingredients like lemon zest, nuts, coffee, seeds, fresh fruit, cocoa powder, and liqueurs.  To make the cakes moister and richer she adds buttermilk, whipping cream, sour cream, eggs, yogurt, butter and peach puree.  With ingredients like these (to name a few) it’s easy to see how a boxed cake mix could be the beginning of a beautiful dessert!

 The Cake Mix Doctor

The Cake Mix Doctor

 

I love that if you want, you can just follow a recipe and know it’s going to turn out well and be delicious.  I also like that Anne has a section called “Cake Mix 101: How to Use This Book” for anyone who wants to know a bit more about how and why she recommends the ingredients she does so that you can experiment more for your own taste preferences. For example, Byrn explains which of the three major cake mix brands include the ingredients for pudding in the mix and why you would, or would not want to add more when “doctoring.”  Included is a great list of key ingredients (doctoring staples) to keep on hand so you’re always prepared for that unexpected, last minute dessert.  There are a ton more tips and tid-bits of information, all easy to read and easy to understand to help you become and expert cake mix doctorer.

What about the frosting, you ask?  here’s the bad news: there’s no good reason to buy pre-made canned frosting.  It will always taste like chemicals and is simply not salvageable.  Fortunately Anne has quick and easy recipes for frostings, fillings, and glazes, too!

 

The Cake Mix Doctor slice of coconut cake

 

By the way, I wasn’t exaggerating.  I took my Coconut Cake (see how it’s become my own) , a conglomeration of two different coconut cake recipes in The Cake Mix Doctor, to a Fourth of July party last summer.  One couple whom I’d never met before loved it so much, they invited me to their next party-if I would bring my cake.  They were even a bit pushy about it. That’s commitment! My brother had the same cake and asks for it every time I’m in charge of dessert.  He gets this wistful look in his eye, like he’s remembering “back in the day” when he talks about it.  I guess that’s a good example of a warning I almost forgot.  People will not believe your cake started in a box and  will ask beg nag harrang you to make it every chance they get.

I got my copy of The Cake Mix Doctor on line at Amazon.  You can also visit the website at www.thecakemixdoctor.com. You won’t be sorry when you are the bake sale hero and didn’t even break a sweat.  Just remember, I warned you.  Happy baking!

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with The Cake Mix Doctor, the author, or anyone associated with it.  But, I think working in their test kitchen might be my dream job!

 

 

 

 

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Ellie’s Table

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

Ellies Table sign

 

Isn’t it great to find a new place to eat in town that is not only good, but excellent?  By excellent I’m referring to delicious food, gorgeous atmosphere, and an incredible location. Recently some friends told us about a new place in our town with all three qualities.  They begged us and all their friends to give it a try so the new business would survive because they loved that much. Ellie’s Table at North Beach in San Clemente has some of the best, freshest food in town, has a beautiful french-meets-beach interior, and the location, within sight of the beach, can’t be topped!

 

Ellies Table interior

 

Ellie’s Table is run by the talented folks at Jay’s Catering and is a cute little bistro type restaurant with a little outdoor patio attached to the newly reopened historic Casino. Formerly a dance and music club which hosted many of the Rat Pack entertainers during the 1960’s, (Casino means dance-hall in Spanish), the Casino has been renovated for hosting gatherings such as weddings. The folks who run Ellie’s Table cater the the Casino’s events and make wedding cakes, in addition to running the restaurant.

 

Ellies Table counter shot

 

As soon as we walked up to the front doors we knew we had found something very special.  The place was buzzing with people and the aroma coming out of the restaurant was heavenly- something akin to butter, fresh bread, and home.  Everything looked good.  One of each, please!  Ok, I behaved, but I realllly didn’t want to. The whole front counter was covered in mouthwatering sweet pastries begging to be tasted. All those scrumptious sweets in front are excruciatingly difficult to pass up (life’s short-eat dessert first!).  Every single thing, cookies, cupcakes, tarts, macaroons, pastries of many kinds, all look worthy of whatever calories they cost!  I vowed to try them all! (Eventually, not at once, even though I wanted to).

 

Ellies Table veggetable  palm sandwiches

 

Around the corner of the front counter are their famous palm sandwiches, (just the right size to fit in the palm of your hand) and the side salads that go with them.  So far my favorite palm sandwich is the veggie, with a flavorful variety of veggies nested in that soft, fluffy, fresh cheddar roll.  YUM! Unfortunately the veggie sandwiches always sell out first so you have to get them early.  If I have one complaint about Ellie’s Table, it is that they need to make MORE veggie sandwiches! I’ve only tried three of the side salads so far, but I really like the beet and the broccoli salads.  The rest are on my list to try…I know, I’m going to be busy!

 

Ellies Table almond croissant

 

But wait!  There’s more!  Carry on past the palm sandwiches and you’re to the reason our friends were so adamant about keeping Ellie’s Table open. One word: Croissants.  The mere mention of the word sends thoughts of the flaky buttery goodness that is an Ellie’s Table croissant to mind, obliterating my ability to concentrate.  Never much of a croissant person, The Mister had to convince me to pass up that heavenly swirl of a pecan roll and drag me, fingers sliding across the glass case, away from my idea of breakfast perfection down to the savory croissants.  Fine. If I didn’t like it I could go back the the pecan roll…

 

Ellies Table croissant sign

 

 

My first was the brie, mushroom and caramelized onion croissant. Heated so the cheese was melty and the pastry was at it peak of flaky greatness, the buttery layers literally melted in my mouth as the sweet onions, velvety brie and sauteed mushrooms played their part in what was surely the Best Croissant In The History Of Croissants! H.e.a.v.e.n.  I am a convert.

 

Ellies Table croissants

 

Since that first glorious encounter I’ve tried almost all of the savory croissants (hence the reason I have so much more tasting to do on the other items) and I can tell you every single one is absolutely delicious.  The quality of the ingredients, the freshness and outstanding quality of the house-made pastry make for a great choice, regardless of which you choose.  If you were to ask my favorite I couldn’t say, but I order the ham and cheese a lot. Oh, and the bacon, egg, and cheese a lot. Oh, and the brie, mushroom and caramelized onion a lot. The best advice is to go frequently so you can try them all!

 

Ellies Table ham and cheese  croissant

 

Which is exactly what we do.  Every Saturday, The Mister and I get up early and walk to Ellie’s table to try something new or, something we’ve already tasted and just need. And it doesn’t hurt that Ellie’s Table is located in a beautiful spot.  You can’t miss the beautiful setting.  Just up from the beach , Ellie’s table sits among some of San Clemente’s most famous buildings including the Casino and the Beach Club.  Both were built during the founding of the city in the 1920’s in the classic Spanish Village style(white stucco and red tile roofs) .  Mature palm tress grace the sky over head and, across the large park-like lawn at the Beach Club, the Pacific Ocean is in full view from any table on the patio as well as through the windows from inside. There’s something about all that white stucco with sunlight bouncing off of it that gives the whole area a soft beautiful light….a perfect setting to start one’s day.

 

Ellies Table shirt

 

We don’t worry about Ellie’s Table going out of buiness any more.  Word is spreading and it’s one of the hottest restaurants in town.  So if you live near by, or if you’re ever in San Clemente, stop by Ellie’s Table for some incredible food with charming atmosphere in a gorgeous location.  You don’t have top worry about keeping it going, though.  Open from 6:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m., the only time they’re slow is while it’s still dark out:0).

Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with Ellie’s Table or Jay’s catering, but luckily they’re close enough that I can walk.  I’ll take it!

 

 

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Easy Coconut Macaroons Recipe

Posted on Feb 3, 2014

Coconut macaroon cookies recipe

 

Coconut macaroons, with their crispy outsides and tender, chewy insides are surprisingly easy to make and are, quite possibly, the easiest cookie to make ever!  Which is good because their flaky coconut and sweet goodness make them impossible to resist! Seriously.  I just made a batch and they’re almost half gone.  In fact, I had to squirrel some away just so I’d have some to take pictures for this post.  Because they’re that perfect balance of sweet and crispy, but not too heavy, they go down nice and easy, especially fresh out of the oven on a cool winter evening. What’s so great about these macaroons is the hint of almond as well as the contrast of the crispy outside that crunches when you take a bite, and the soft inside that melts on your tongue.  Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Coconut macaroons seemed exotic and difficult to make until my friend Kathy, the author of “A Year In The Life Of The Mother Of The Bride” told me she started with the recipe on the back of the bag and modified it a bit.  A bag recipe?! Like Tollhouse cookies?  How hard could it be? Turns out, not hard at all.

 

Coconut Macaroons recipe

 

Best of all, it only takes one bowl.

That’s right all that goodness in just one bowl.  And you don’t need a mixer.  Easy-peasy. Not sold yet?  Kathy makes them with a cup of wine -well not IN the cookies- in her.  If you can drink wine and make cookies this good, they can’t be complicated, so I gave it a shot, and you know what, she was right.  Her recipe is fantastic and easy.

Can you imagine the next time someone asks you to bring baked goods and you offer up coconut macaroons?  They’ll think you slaved for hours over some complex method, too much for them to have to deal with in their busy lives.  You’ll look like a hero and won’t have broken a sweat!

So the next time you need cookies, but are reluctant to bake them because it’s too much work, try this 1 bowl coconut macaroon recipe.  I promise, you won’t be let down!

 

Coconut macaroon cookies recipe

 

Easy Coconut Macaroons Recipe

Ingredients:

1  (14.5 oz.) package of sweetened coconut

2/3 cup sugar

6 Tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 egg whites ( took make it even easier I measured out 2/3 cup of pre-packaged egg whites from a carton.)

1  1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Directions:

Mix the coconut, sugar, salt, and flour in a large mixing bowl and stir together (by hand is fine).

Stir in the egg whites and almond extract until mixed.

Drop by tablespoonfuls on a greased and floured cookie sheet ( or use parchment paper and save yourself the trouble of greasing and cleaning up!)

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes to start.  If they are not golden brown add 4 minutes, then 2, and 2.  (Kathy goes straight for eight extra minutes, but my oven is old and unpredictable so I broke it up a bit).

Immediately move the cookies to wire racks and allow to cool completely, or be like me and shove a bite in because it-smells-so-good-you-can’t-wait-anymore … and burn your tongue. This is where using parchment is nice because you can just slide the whole batch onto a wire rack at once :0).

Makes about 36 incredibly addictive, delicious cookies.

For Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

If you prefer a bit more richness and want to add chocolate, melt 1 package (8 squares) of Baker’s Semi-sweet chocolate as directed on the package.  Either dip the cookies in half way and let them set (about 30 minutes) or use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies in a tight zig-zag pattern.  Either way, yum!

 

 

 

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