-A mostly true journey of a girl, her man and their three kids; all trying to live harmoniously in a house somewhere in Utah. Names and exact locations may be changed in order to protect the grouchy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Let your own light shine..

The last few families have used the room in front of our kitchen as a family room. It makes sense. There's a huge fireplace, it's cozy and people seem to enjoy that open atmosphere that allows everyone to  visit with the people in the kitchen...

When we walked the house though, and I stepped into the room, I knew I wanted it to be a dining room. It also makes sense. People can still visit and sit around. But the bonus is that everyone can eat while they are visiting. I love to cook and I love hosting brunches or birthday parties or barbecues. So there we go. It's a dining room.

My dining room table was a gift from the man when we bought the house. I think he knew how much I loved entertaining, but even more, he knew how important is was to me to have my family around the table for dinner as often as possible. He was right. Sitting around that table for meals is one of my favorite things.

Because the room wasn't intended as a dining room, all of the canned lighting was set up to show off the fire place. Other than that, and the use of lamps, there is no light above the dinner table.

We (my idea) thought about having a chandelier installed or you know, hang some orange electrical cord up and over the table with a big old 200 watt light bulb stapled to the ceiling. (The man's idea).. The benefits from his winner-of-an-idea? Dining AND tanning at the same time.

Our original problem is that I didn't want to lock myself into an idea I'd regret. Electrical is expensive and by hanging something dead center meant I'd always have to keep the table in one position.  TO be honest, I'm not in love with ceiling lighting. I love the light a beautiful lamp gives off. It's not harsh, or fluorescent and they are so easy to move around. Even better than lamp light is....candle light.

So let me show you my dream lighting for the dining room...

It's from Restoration Hardware (whom I love!) for the low, low price of 975 dollars. Holy McDollars!

I love the candle idea. I know that some are electric, but many are not. They let you use your own candles or the battery operated ones you can find all over. You can over flow them with candles or set out just a few. The only thing that I don't love is that the bottom is in two solid slats. The problem is you can be sitting at the table and not be able to appreciate the candlelight overhead. Oh and it costs just a wee bit more than I 'm willing to spend. By about.....$900! She is a beauty though, isn't she?

Going along with the general idea of the plan, I decided to create my own very low cost version. What I love most about the idea is that I can take it down as easily as I can put it up. Want to make one?

You'll need ...

A piece of ironwork. The kind that people buy for their garden or ginormous stairways. A rectangle shape is really nice, but I went for a diamond shape.

8 feet of small black chain. I warned you that I'm not spatial. I picked up only four feet and ended up adding on some heavier chain to hang up the project.

Eye hooks (2) attach to ceiling studs or beams

S hooks (4)

A piece of glass that will fit on top. I used one from a picture frame

A level

pliers (to open and close chain links)


Here we go. As always feel free to shake it up the way you like it. Also, no laughing at the woman who know what she wants, but can never seem to convey that information to the man or the helper guy at Lowe's.

Here is my iron work. I got it at Tai Pan for 18 dollars. My first intention was to tie it up with ribbons to the ceiling using the S clips. It was pretty, but I was afraid it wouldn't be strong enough for what I wanted.

We clipped the small black chain in half and attached to where I had the ribbon tied in the upper picture.
At the top of those, we attached an equal amount of larger chain to the small chain and hung them from eye clips we screwed into the beams. The S clips can be attached at the top of the chain (or you can open chain pieces with pliers and hook onto the eye hooks. I love the S clips because It's really easy to remove this if I change my mind. I was at first really upset about having to use the bigger chain, but now I love that it is definitely strong enough to hold what I want. Still though, those larger chains need to be painted black..

Once your ironwork is hung, you can lay a piece of glass on it to be a platform for your candles or what ever else you want to put up there. I took the glass out of the old frame (below) and set it evenly on the hanging iron work Make sure your glass is safely centered and level. You may want to warn anyone about the dangers of shards of glass. If you live at my house, you warn them by simply saying, "DON"T. TOUCH. THIS. EVER!!!"  Safety first, people.


Now it's ready to hang, or take down if you aren't happy with it. For now, I love it.




I bought these little glass bottles for 91 cents a piece. They are perfect for burning tea lights in . They remind me of little jelly jars...
 Here it is! My hanging candle chandelier. It glows at night and uses zero electricity.



Below is a view of the underside of the chandelier. A smarter person would have taken of the labels from the bottom of the jars, but.....um...she forgot



 Finally, here's a different look with round candles on top. I think it's going to be just what I've been looking for. and it's so much prettier than orange electrical cord.... :




There you go! A cute little non-electric/removable/interchangeable chandelier. Too sweet.

Shine your favorite kind of light all over the place today, friends

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who's the parent?

"Who left lint ON the dryer?" asked the youngest.

"Oh that was me." I said. "I was in a hurry to change the loads when I was on the phone with my grandma."

"Well mom, that's my chore. I change the lint out of the dryer!!" he yells.

"Calm down!" I snap back. "What's the big deal?"

Jumping up and down and clearly frustrated, he answers, "When I  do the lint I remember to throw it in the trash."

Touche' little man.

That dear readers, is how a mom gets "told". Ouch

Stay clean and lint-free, my friends

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good things come in small packages...

Hello Friends!

Good news for those of you who entered Sunday's contest.  The big winner was Mary and she chose a bag from the store as her prize. It's good news for you because I had a few hours today and was able to make these...


 Little zippy pouches!


 With adorable liners!



And cute little shellybean pins made by my little brother :)


 Do you see yours?

I'm kind of in love with them. Somewhere in the middle of stacy-bean bag love and Caramel Macchiatto love.... Anywhoo,  I'm sending them out today :)

Happy Tuesday, friends :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We have a winner!

Do I have a name-drawer?
Yes!

Do I have a pretty jar with all the entrants?
Yes!

Are we ready to pick the winner?
I believe so.....

Here we go...


 Congratulations to........



Ahhhhhh! Mary! You are the winner! I bet you're thinking, "It's about time!!" I am so happy for you! You actually get a choice with this win. You may have an allie-bean bag made out of that beautiful tree fabric OR...you may have one of the existing bags from the store. Either way, you get a new bag!!

WAIT!!!

I'm so grateful to those of you who took the time to enter. Because there are a handful (or two) of you, and I don't have a ton of pressing orders, you're not going home empty handed. I will be sending each of you a cute little zippy-pouch made out of the fabric you chose for the contest. Please take a second and e-mail me your addresses, and they will be out as soon as they're made.

Congratulations, friends!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring is coming!!

I am so excited for Spring this year.

I wasn't ready for the snow this winter, yet it kept falling. The cold wind kept blowing and the grey skies seemed to hang lower than usual. It has been a long couple of months.

I love the Spring forward time change. It agrees well with me. I'll happily give up an hour of sleep for longer days. It has been depressing to see the man both go to work and come home in the dark. Now, the mornings aren't too bad and I can actually make dinner and feel like I'm not going to need to go to bed right after. It's fantastic.

I've got some beautiful new Spring fabric to work with. It's been a long time since we had a give-away. I decided to make an Allie-bean bag out of one of the fabrics and give it to one of you. If you're not familiar with the Allie-bean bag, click over on my shellybean store to see the shape and size. 

The problem is, I can't decide which one to use. I thought it might be fun to have a contest where you get to choose the fabric for the bag. Now. If you don't like any of these choices, this contest is not for you. If you think someone you love might like one, enter for them or feel free to tell them about it. Pretty simple, eh?

Enter in the comment section. If you're entering as anonymous, please don't forget to leave your name. Anyone is welcome to play :)

Here are the questions you need to answer to be eligible for the drawing:

1. What do you love about spring?
2. What will you miss about winter?
3. Which of the fabrics is your favorite?

I'll leave the first comment as an example. The drawing will be Sunday night, the first day of Spring, at 7 o'clock. (mountain time)


Fabric choices below-

A. Grey/Black/Aqua flowers and swirls

B. White background with lime/black flowers

C. Yellow and peach trees

D. Bright yellow with red ladybugs

E. Pink background with red, orange, yellow and white circles



Good luck, friends :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

These little lights of mine...

I was only fourteen, but I'm picturing the lovely woman who lived in this house in 1984. I don't know who she was or what she was like, but I'm imagining a conversation between her and her man....

The 80's lady:  "Honey, I'm kind of tired of the macrame and brown glass hanging lamps hung everywhere we turn. What do you say we go downtown, have a nice dinner and pick-up some new lighting for the house? I hear gold is fashionable right now and I'll bet we'll be back in time for that new L.A. Law..."

Her man: " Hmm. I don't know. I don't want to miss CHEERS. Hows about we stop at the golden arches and get one of those new McDLTs? Since it's just down the street, we might as well just go to ACE. They're the place with a helpful hardware man."

And it was there, I'm sure, where it all went downhill. On an endcap. Aisle 4. Maybe on clearance. The woman's dreams of tasteful lighting would go by the wayside for the low, low price of 14.99. For an eight pack. Gold? No. But wasn't brass close enough?

The man : "See honey? I picked up some wrenches,  duct tape AND we found your lighting!  You can thank me later.  Plus, there are probably enough fixtures here for every light in our house. "

And guess what? There were. And they weren't hideous; at the time.....

But it is 2011. And everywhere you turn, you see the hopes and dreams of a classy lady gone wrong.... In the repetitive shape of an octagon..

Below is a pic of the man when we moved in wondering if we could afford to replace all those babies. Or maybe he was hoping I wouldn't mind. I do like vintage, right?


We are slowly replacing them. I'm sure the next owners of this house will wonder what in the world I was thinking when I replaced a bunch of brass energy-sucking lights out with lighting circa 1940.



The library used to be the first family's dining room. I've always wanted to have a simple chandelier hanging in there as both an homage to the family and as an excuse to banishing the brassy, glassy octuplet, kindly joining him with his others in the depths of the wasteland we call our garage.



I wonder if the man of the Reagan generation also was bribed into changing out fixtures with "pretty please" and  a bowlful of jellybeans.


2 down, 6 to go. We'll get there. Hopefully it will be before brass comes back in style. If you own those little octagon lights and happen to love them and their style, I am happy to give you any extras you might require to complete your set. 


What's the lesson here? Use what makes you happy. Use what you can afford.  Try not to match every single light with one another, Mix it up. Express yourself.

You rock the metal of your choice, woman of the millennium! If you can't get the exact lighting you envision, go and check out the clearance section at Home Depot or a resale shop. Wherever it comes from, own it like it was your choice all along.

Now. On to this baby...

I'm off to find some spray paint and a set of scaffolding.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, friends :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The youngest ponders...

"Mom, why did we give up fast food for Lent?" asked the youngest.
After discussing more about Lent, he asked, "Yes, but why fast food?"

"Because when I thought about it, my heart told me it would be a good choice." I answered.

After thinking it over for a moment and a half,  he asked the final question..
"Mom? What if my heart didn't tell ME to give up fast food? Hearts can say different things, you know."

Yes I know. So, our family has given up fast food. But the youngest? His heart told him to give up pancakes.

Happy Spring-Forward Day, friends :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chalk it up to procrastination...

The world's worst procrastinator? You're reading her blog. I don't know what or why it is, but I've always waited until the very last minute to complete something that is required of me. Those things are  never finished late or are lacking any quality, but I absolutely walk the line of, "One day little lady, you are going to find yourself out of time and nothing to show for it!"

I usually do have something to show for it,  just not the "it" that is suppose to be completed. I like to call it "Active Procrastination". It means, "No, I didn't finish the assignment that's coming up, but look what I DID do!!"

A complete cop-out, I know. I have few projects on the front burner.  Not even difficult projects. I don't know. Something in me just shuts down.

For example, instead of completing a simple "expected" task yesterday, I filled the day doing a bunch of ridiculously random things. Instead of sitting down and getting to work on something that probably would have taken at most a few hours, I-

-made a cake
-mopped the floor
-started up a conversation with the Fed Ex lady (Who was delivering a package to a neighbor. Pathetic, I know)
-moved around furniture
-dusted (seriously, how desperate was I?)
-made a chalkboard.

While all nice chores/ activities, none of them needed to be done as badly as the aforementioned tasks. Ugh. And now, mind you,  I'm writing up a random blog post.

On one hand I have to now put my nose to the grindstone and get working. On the other hand, I have an awesome little chalkboard. Some days, you have to take whatever you can get...

So. Do you have a conference to attend? A project or paper coming up? Bills to pay? Phone calls to return? Me too. Let's get to it.......or I could show you how to make a chalkboard.... Yes, let's do that instead....

You need:

A frame with an attached backing (no glass) or an old cabinet door or a cute old calendar board that you bought at a resale store for say, 3 dollars!!
Paint brush
Chalkboard paint
Chalk
Sand paper
Painter's tape


                                          
1. Take your board and clean any dust or dirt off.


.
2. Make sure your paint is stirred thoroughly before you begin


3. Sand the edges of your project if you like an older, worn look. Tape off where you would like your chalkboard. If you like a clean look, you'll want to paint the outside border of the frame first.


4. After sanding, wipe any sawdust or residue off of the chalkboard area. Paint two coats, making sure to completely cover the area. You want to let dry about 45 minutes between the coats. This would make a perfect time to catch up on needed tasks, or say, bake a cake :)


5. When completely dry, use chalk to "season" the chalkboard. Completely cover the board and erase or wipe away with a dry cloth. Your chalkboard will now be ready to use.


6. Perhaps you could make a check-off list of all the things you're supposed to be doing or you could make a list to at least keep everyone else on track.  :)


Have a productive day, friends :)


Monday, March 7, 2011

Rhetorical Question of the day...

"Hey Shel, that new vintage store opened downtown...Did you go?"













Um, yeah.

 This would usually be the part of the blog where I would say, "Shhhh." But the weekend "junking" was actually the man's idea. Better than marriage counseling, I tell ya. :)

Happy Monday, friends 




Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oui Oui!!


Today was a beautiful day. A little sun, a light wind and people beginning to walk a little slower through the neighborhood. Ah, Spring is coming, I just know it. As I type this I'm remembering back to this past Saturday...when we were gifted with a foot of new snow. Ugh. The eldest went sledding with her friends, and our two boys decided to help their dad dig out the driveway. The youngest is sick of shoveling and he's only six. Unless he plans a move to somewhere near the equator, the boy might as well learn how to de-ice the steps and shovel around his sister's car.

While they stayed busy with the cold activities, I stayed in and made hot cocoa and soup. Who doesn't love soup on a cold day? I decided on French Onion Soup. It is one of my favorite kinds of soups to make and eat. It also happens to be one of the only things with the word "french" in it that I know how to cook.

You want "french" fries? Map quest yourself to the nearest McDonald's. Want "french toast?" Give my grandma in Michigan a call. She not only makes the best french toast, she can cut it up like a samurai warrior; faster than you can ask for syrup. You want "french vanilla bean ice cream? I can give you the number of our Schwan's man. Their ice cream is to die for. ....but until then, give this a try. It is a wonderful, comfort food. I hope you like it.

Ingredients for French Onion Soup (feeds 5)
1 medium onion (white)
2-3 purple onions. I'm not sure why I use different onions, I just always have.
1-2 boxes of beef broth or stock- this depends on whether you like your soup more liquid-y (add two boxes) I like mine more dense, so I use one.
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 cup of a red wine. Sherry is often used as well as a port. I used what I had-This was a deep red zinfandel. 1/2-1 cup in the pot, however much is left can be used for a glass...
1/2 stick of butter, salted
pinch of sugar
A stiff loaf of french or Italian bread
Parmesan cheese
Gruyere or provolone cheese 



1. Skin and chop onion in to small slices. Put all onion pieces and butter into a pan and let them sweat at medium heat. The purple color of the onions will fade. At this time,  I add a pinch of sugar to the onions and let caramelize at the bottom of the pan.  You can flip the onions until reduced.
15-20 minutes






2. Slice up your bread and lay flat on a cookie sheet. You can butter the tops and spread about a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese on each one. Set oven at 350 degrees.




3. When onions are reduced/soft (not burned), add 1/2 to 1 cup of the wine to the onions and stir in the pan, making sure to pick up the caramelization from the bottom. I do this with a side of a fork. If you do not like or have wine, feel free to use condensed beef broth in its place. If using wine, remember, you need to simmer the liquid between 45-60 minutes to completely burn of the alcohol. (I'm feeding kids..) Of course, we are also broiling the soup- but keep that in mind. Many people are under the impression that the alcohol automatically burns off.





4. Put the bread in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted...




5. Add broth and Worcestershire sauce to the onion soup pan. If your pan is not big enough to hold soup, transfer to a bigger pot. The man loves mushrooms soaked in the wine/onion mixture, so they are sharing the stove top for a bit.. When the soup starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer for as long as you'd like. I usually start assembling the soup after 45-60 minutes of simmering. Add salt and pepper to taste.




6. After sixty minutes,  pour the soup into oven-safe bowls. On top of that,  set one of the cheese breads you made earlier. Now, you can lay the last piece of cheese on top of the bowl, covering the soup. As you can see, none of my bowls are the same. Someone in the family doesn't like wet bread. Another person doesn't like melted cheese (WHAT?) Another likes double bread...You'd think I run a Denney's...
Anyway, set these bowls on a cookie sheet and broil for about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cheese and don't let it burn. When nice and brown, take out of the oven and cool just a bit. Warn kids that the bowls are HOT!!! Serve with extra bread and crackers. As picky as the family is, they at least agree that the onion soup is yummy and fun to dip the extra bread in. Oh, they kind of like that I fed them at all.. For now....


Do you make onion soup? Do you have an idea on how to improve the recipe? Are you ready for barbecues and picnics yet? Uh huh. Me too.....

Happy Thursday, friends :)
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