Decorating on a budget with YoungHouseLove

Check this out. Eight Parsons chairs for $25 a piece. Score!

I have GOT to start using Craigslist. Check out this score YoungHouseLove made this weekend and zip through their site looking at other Craigslist bargains/services they have lucked out on. Me? I’m looking for some Louis dining chairs to refurbish for the dining room, maybe I need to begin to stalk Craigslist? I’m sure not finding any used at any local antique or junk shops. And I ain’t paying for a new one just to reupholster and paint it!

Louis Chair

Louis Chair - not the Ghost variety, which I also covet.

Anyone local have good experiences with Craigslist? Anyone have any Louis chairs I can score for $25 a piece? LOL. Hey, it was worth askin’!

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Falling in love again…

I’ve fallen in love again, dear foodies. It’s with an old flame that used to keep me cool all summer and left many a stain on my mother’s living room rug — Kool Aid!

Lemonade

Lemonade!

After seeing the ads on television for the Kool Aid Fun Fizz, I thought it might be fun to pick up a package or two for the girls. They loved it and upon trying it, I did, too! The fruit punch, I can live without, but the lemonade is light, sweet and fresh.

And, since it’s Lent and we gave up soda for the season – I can bribe them with a bit of Kool-Aid “fizz” instead. So far, so good, as it seems to be working.

The best part? I don’t have to keep a giant pitcher of the stuff in my ‘fridge, we just make it a glass at a time and there’s plenty of room left instead. I wouldn’t call it cheap, especially compared to a pitcher-filling packet of regular Kool Aid. But, sometimes you just can’t put a price on things like space in the ‘fridge or freezer!

$1.99 for a pack. But, www.afullcup.com  frequently has links for coupons! And Amazon.com has mega packs, as well.

Our favorite fries

Baked sweet potato fries and "regular" ones, as the girls call them.

Baked sweet potato fries and "regular" ones, as the girls call them.

Confession time! We don’t always eat as healthily as we should. (We did give up soda for Lent – Belle is not very happy about it – but the rest of us are surviving.) One improvement we have made over the past few years is a tasty one, too.  When my elderly Aunt Bonnie decided to wash my Fry Daddy by soaking it in a sink of hot, soapy water – and it was the third one she had “soaked” (so to speak) – I decided it was time to stop frying my pommes frites.  Instead, I had the inspiration that I would bake them. That would save buying a new Fry Daddy, right?  And while I was at it, I would only use olive oil and sea salt. That is healthy for my girls.

Right?

So I did some Googling and found a good average time to bake my fries. And the next sloppy Joe night, I gave them a whirl. I assumed they would get frowns from Belle and the usual “where did you find this recipe?” from John. (Which is his code for “this stinks, lose that recipe stat!”)

And they loved it.

Then Bethy came along, and she loved it.

Problem solved.

And the open space left in my pantry where the Fry Daddy used to sit? Now is home to a snow cone machine for the kids.

I call that a win-win.

So, on to the recipe. I hope your family enjoys our recipe as much as we have over the years. (Oh, and it also is great with steaks!)

You’ll need:

-Potoatoes (I do one medium-sized per person, sweet or baking)
-Olive oil
-Sea salt
-Seasoning (we like Dean and DeLuca spice for dipping oil and McCormick Steak seasoning.)

Slice up your potatoes into wedges, not quartered, but smaller wedges (see photo, below). I leave the skins on for flavor and texture.

Cut them in to small, long, narrow wedges.

Cut them in to small, long, narrow wedges.

Then, I just toss them in a bowl. When finished, simply drizzle oil over the contents of the bowl, add some salt and seasoning and toss well with your hands. Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet and then bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Arrange potatoes into a single layer on the baking sheet.

Arrange potatoes into a single layer on the baking sheet.

Flip over with spatula then bake for another 15 -25 minutes. We like ours very lightly browned, but if you like your baked fries crunchier leave them in longer. Serve hot!

My mother’s French Crepe Pancakes

French Crepe Pancakes

We love these light, French-crepe style pancakes for lazy, Sunday breakfasts.

My mother always made the best pancakes. Light. Fresh-tasting. Airy. You could eat a huge pile of them and still go  back for more. As a child, I didn’t know or care that the rest of the world thought big, fluffy pancakes were the norm. In our house, light crepes were absolutely perfect for breakfast. In fact, I still prefer them to the heavy, syrup-sucking, fluffier pancakes.

As my own little family grew, I stole the recipe from my mother and began to make it. The first time, as a newlywed, it was a total disaster. I didn’t have very good skills and I’m not even sure I measured the ingredients correctly. It was a sloppy mess. All I really remember is tears – as I was attempting to impress my new husband’s favorite sister and her husband. I think they went to get McDonald’s take-out while I pulled myself together.

It was humbling, to say the least.

Nowadays, I can whip up a batch on demand. Most of the time, they are served alone, with Griffin’s Butter Syrup and a knob of sweet cream butter. Sometimes, though, I sweeten the deal with Smucker’s Strawberry Syrup and whipped cream. That will rot even the strongest sweet tooth, but it is so good and the pancakes are so light that it just doesn’t matter.

pancake ingredients

Simple ingredients for a simple -and sinful -breakfast.

You’ll need:
One cup of all-purpose flour
Three eggs
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Dash of vanilla
Melted sweet cream butter

yummy pancakes

Keep a close eye on the pancakes, they are delicate and can burn easily. (But they are worth it!)

Using a blender or hand mixer, blend together all ingredients except butter until completely smooth. Heat a skillet or griddle until butter brushed over the surface sizzles but doesn’t burn. Pour batter onto pan to create desired sizes (we like about the size of your fist). When batter begins to solidify (you’ll see some little bubbles form, too), flip cake over. Be careful not to burn – or even brown them – too  much. Lighter is better. Serve hot with syrup and butter.

Note: you can also use this recipe AS crepes. Stuff them with fruit filling and top with whipped cream, or an omlete with some melted cheese or bechamel sauce on top.

Don’t fear the cabbage! St. Pat’s edition

REPOST from February. I really should have saved this recipe to post today, originally, as it’s St. Patrick’s Day! So, if you haven’t seen it or if you need something a bit different to go along with tonight’s corned beef and green beer – give this cabbage recipe a try. It is so rich and good, it will convert almost all the cabbage-haters!
The fried cabbage is almost ready to serve.

The fried cabbage is almost ready to serve.

I’m the only cabbage fan in the house, aside from the guinea pig. Since she will eat the core and I get the rest, I needed to find just the right recipe. So, I pulled out the 100-year-old cast iron skillet that belonged to my Great-grandmother, Etta, and made some old-fashioned (and fattening) fried cabbage. This is my elderly Aunt Bonnie’s recipe – we call her the world’s oldest junk food junkie so that might give you a sense of how yummy and rich this dish really  is. If that doesn’t clue you in, maybe the bacon and heavy whipping cream will.

Fried cabbage
You will need:
-head of cabbage
-onion
-bacon
-butter
-heavy whipping cream
-salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating some butter in your skillet, once it melts add some bacon that you’ve chopped into about 1-inch pieces. Once the bacon has begun to cook well, add in the chopped onion and cook until the bacon is done and the onion translucent.

At this point, you’ll want to add in handfuls of your shredded cabbage, turning it over and over in the skillet to coat with the pan drippings and bacon. As it wilts and cooks, continue to add more cabbage. When the cabbage has wilted and reduced a bit, add in at least a cup of heavy cream. I like a lot of sauce/cream in my cabbage and I soak it up with cornbread, so I use more, but at least a cup will get you started. Add salt and some pepper to taste.

Simmer for about 10-15 minutes and serve hot, preferably with some tasty Jiffy Cornbread.

Ready, steady, paint!

Okay, we’ve been thinking about a master bedroom redo for years. Since we moved in, actually. I’ve never been happy with it. We’ve lived with the beige (although it was a sloppy, one-coat job over hot pink and the room has become more pink over the years) and put a beige and white toile and gingham check with it. It was nice but blah. Then I found a fantastic brown and blue set – but it just didn’t work for us, see below.

bedroom circa 2008

It’s now been pieced apart and put into my eldest daughter’s room, along with my grandmother’s bedroom set. She will need a vanity and a place to sit and do her hair and makeup much more than I will over the coming years. I just hope big hair isn’t in style again – I’m not sure Nanny’s furniture can stand another teen and that much hairspray buildup! Slowly, since these photos were taken in 2008, we’ve changed things. The carpet is gone, leaving lovely hardwoods that need redone (a task scheduled a bit out, we can live with some stains for now!) A black armoire gives us storage. Two matching, smaller black dressers serve us well, and may double as nightstands, allowing me to put an easy chair in for a reading nook someday. We have a wrought-iron headboard that I now hate, which should probably find its way out to the garden to grow beans upon…

But it took us a while to settle on a color scheme. I posted these photos out on Rate My Space eons ago to get ideas, but mostly people couldn’t see past the (necessary!) playpen and our photos and knick-knacks. I am not big on a LACK of knick-knacks to be honest. Doesn’t everyone have little photos, vases, mementos and things that mean something to them? If I can’t have the jam jar that my little one decorated with tissue paper to create the world’s most beautiful vase sitting on a shelf next to a photo of my grandmother and other beloved items – well, heck, I think I might as well be living in a model home and not a real home. But, then, I want my home to be homey and personable as well as pretty.

Oh, image of “cluttered” mantel –

mantel area

Anyway, we finally settled on a black and white damask print. Found a lovely bedding set at Sears for nothing last summer. Wallpaper to match in the fall. Black simple curtains over Christmas. Some cool lights at KMart during a trip to buy some Martha Stewart goodies. I need to order a plain white duvet from IKEA, as I think I’ll use the coverlet with the pattern at the foot of the bed, as more of an accent. Wouldn’t want to damage the dear husband’s manliness with too much girlie-ness, after all. The trim is going to be high gloss white. The walls a deep grey/blue/periwinkle. Very soothing. Very dark. Very scary. It will take a lot of Kilz to get rid of it if we change our minds!

Oh, and the piece I love the most? I cannot wait until the ceiling is painted so this can go in. Purchased with a gift card from my mother (thanks, Mom!) from Overstock.com. I think it will be the thing that pulls the entire room together.

light

So, wish us luck as we begin to really tear into this paint project. We really kinda hate painting. But during these tough last few years our house has been neglected. 2010 is the year our historic house is going to shine again!

Aunt Dee’s Pea Salad

My Aunt Dee was one of those mysterious types, kind of glamorous to my younger self. She lived a days drive away in the South, she had a Southern drawl, she was on (at least) her third or fouth husband – and she’d lived for years in uber-glamorous California. She was funny, too, and loved to laugh. She also loved to eat and go out for dinner – especialy if it was for BBQ. Needless to say, I adored her. I waited anxiously each Christmas and birthday for her package to arrive, because I knew it would be crammed full of cute toys and cool clothes.

Oh, and she loved to hug and would call you “hun.”

And when she cooked for family, it tended to be fattening, full of flavor and always delicious. Only Aunt Dee could take a healthy spring salad and make it fattening with tons of Mayo and cheese. And we still make it, years after her passing. When I have my two little girls help me out with this simple, layered recipe, I like to think that Aunt Dee is looking down on my little kitchen and sayin’ “Good job, hun!”

 This is a great salad now that spring peas are available at farmer’s markets and the stores. It’s also a cool salad with frozen peas for hot summer days.

Pea Salad

Pea Salad ingredients mingling in a trifle bowl.

 

Aunt Dee’s Pea Salad

This is a simple layered salad. Base the amounts you use on how large your container is. I generally use a large trifle bowl, as shown, but you can also create individual salads or a small one in a serving dish.

You will need:
-Shredded Lettuce
-Mayo (I love Fit and Active fake Mayo from Aldi)
-Peas (fresh best, frozen good, canned bad)
-Shredded cheddar cheese
-Green onions, chopped

Just layer each ingredient into your bowl, and try to “end” or “top” it with a last layer of mayo and cheese. I like to make it the day before or very early in the day – so the flavors have a bit of time to mingle.