Friday, March 28, 2014

stuffed acorn squash with barley

With the reappearance of cold weather comes the reappearance of warm and hearty foods yum!

Along with my many attempts to clean out my fabric I got a wild hair to clean out my cupboards too and therefore looked up recipes to use up specific ingredients that I had, including pearled barley. I first fell in love with this ingredient when I made Roasted Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto (seen here) and it remains one of my favorite fall/winter dishes.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley 

2 small acorn squash
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 C pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1 onion-minced
1 fennel bulb-tops discarded, halved, cored, and chopped fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
1 C grated parmesan cheese (reserve 1/4 for the end)
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Halve and seed the acorn squash. Brush cut sides with a tsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

Place on a lined, rimmed baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray cut side down. Roast on the lower-middle rack until tender 45-55 minutes.

While those are roasting, start to boil 3 quarts of water in large saucepan. Stir in the barley and 1/4 tsp salt. Return to a boil, then reduce to as simmer and cook until the barley is tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside. (sorry mine got a bit too steamy for good pictures!)

I also simultaneously toasted my pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

My next step of 3/4 C parmesan cheese, minced parsely, pine nuts, barley, and Tbsp butter set aside.

In the empty, dry saucepan cook onion and fennel in the remaining tsp of olive oil. Cover and cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and other seasonings until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Off the heat, add in the barley mixture set aside. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

After I removed the squash from roasting I increased the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Scoop out most of the squash flesh to stir into the barley mixture, leaving the skin and about 1/8th of inch thickness left.

Restuff them, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake until cheese is melted 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with balsalmic vinegar and enjoy!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

updating the exterior house light fixtures

Part 1: Spray Painting the Front Porch Lights

First off we removed the light..... followed by EWW and I am not just talking about the old brick color... There were only two wires so detaching and reattaching was pretty easy breezy.

The lights were a lovely maroon color with splatters of paint and lime wash-way to go us for being neat and tidy.

We removed the glass plates and soaked them in cleaner overnight.

Then Johnny was nice enough to clean them, scrape them down with the straight edge razor we also use for cleaning up the window trim, and sanded.

Next two coats of Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint. 

Re-attach and done! Such a rewarding and quick project.

I know that I keep belaboring it, but I really really want to tackle those rusted nasty porch railings, redo the door frames, and door knobs/locks

Part 2: Lights in the back of the house (two side door lights and one flood light)

So this how the light, next to our laundry room, has looked since we purchased the house. This is the door that we come in and out of the most and where eventually there will also be a mudroom.

Yes this door frame needs some love too... though I do really like this older style door a lot.

I went with two small dark sky light fixtures in oil rubbed bronze for beside the two doors and a motion activated dual flood light for the corner of the house. These were all existing lights that we were replacing for aesthetic and functional appeal. I chose dark sky lights to reduce "light pollution" and since I couldn't find something resembling the front lights decided that I liked these $20 ones from Lowes well enough. Unfortunately this plan didn't end up working.... 

Here Johnny is replacing the light next to the laundry room first.

Success.... though this did not end up being the final result 

Next on to the side door (connecting to the bonus room) and yet more eye sores. Ugly door frame and I knew the lime wash on this wood was temporary, but had hoped to get a couple of years out of it before adding some shaker shingles. No go clearly :/ And how hideous is that light fixture!

New light attached and working!

Then we moved onto upgrading the single flood light to a dual flood light with a motion sensor. Well this is where the plan broke down. Unfortunately, that lovely gutter prevented the motion sensor from working. So back to the drawing board. We felt like we really needed at least one motion activated light, since this is where we park and gain access to our house.

So back to Lowes we went (we already had this back up plan in mind fortunately) to pick up this $60 motion activated, dark sky light.

It was only slightly more challenging to attach, as the fittings could be re-sized for different sized holes as it is a larger light fixture. We removed the new light next to the laundry room door and replaced it with this one.

Success .... again! And Johnny is obsessed, claiming that it may be one of his favorite projects to date. What can I say the boy has a penchant for function.

Last but not least, we still went ahead and upgraded the old flood light to an inexpensive dual flood light for less than $15 for the fixture, obviously the bulbs were an additional cost. 

All three lights in action, as the sun was setting on a sunny, but cool Saturday. Overall, since we already had the spray paint for other projects it cost us about $100 to upgrade them all.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

what to do with leftover fabric... bee inspired wall hanging, coasters and behind the door organizers

Project #1: Bee Inspired Wall Hanging

So this leftover fabric came from my reupholstered chair project last summer (seen here) and the Ballard Design inspired burlap pin board (seen here). 

A friend just handed me a canvas and I told her I would only take it if she was prepared for me to make her something. Hopefully she likes it, but if not I made it in a way that she could easily reuse the canvas.

First I just stapled the fabric onto the board as evenly and straightly as possible.

I gathered my other supplies: small paint brush, all purpose craft paint in Pesto and Cloud from Martha Stewart, burlap, some interfacing (Pellon) to iron onto the burlap to prevent it from fraying or stretching too much, some leftover upholstery nail head trim (Dritz), and fabric adhesive (Liquid Stitch).

The canvas board was a 16x20 so I cut four pieces of interfacing at 5x7

I ironed both the fabric before stapling it to the canvas and the burlap.

Then I ironed them onto the burlap, attempting to follow the grain as much as possible.

I used the technique of pulling out a thread to mark the straight edge.

I followed the interfacing instructions as closely as possible, using a dampened cloth to press the interfacing (bumpy side touching the burlap) until the adhesive properties kicked in.

I chose to follow up with more ironing without the damp cloth, using steam the whole while and on a high heat.

Next I found images from google for a queen bee, bee hive, honeycomb design (then overlayed text for the letter B in Microsoft Word), and a crocus. I copied them all into Microsoft Word (and would be happy to share if anyone is interested), sized them using the ruler feature, then printed.

To paint them I outlined the designs when too faint with black Sharpie, then placed the paper under the burlap and traced with the green paint.

I didn't make overt attempts to make the paint application even. Since it was burlap I figured that most burlap prints have that faded quality. I didn't originally intend on it, but ended up shadowing the B with Cloud Martha Stewart Craft paint and free handed a bow on the crocus.

I only roughly sized the burlap before painting, but once dry went back and trimmed them further.

Once again I did this by pulling strings to remove (you can see the pile of threads at the bottom of the picture below) then trimmed the edges with scissors. So you can see the before (above) and after (below) trimming and resizing.

Next I used permanent fabric glue to attach the burlap pieces to the fabric covered canvas.

Last but not least I attached nail head trim at each corner and sprayed the whole thing with the Krylon Matte finish spray in the hope that it would further aide the burlap from fraying. I did have to attach a thin piece of wood in the middle for the nail head trim to have something to sink into.

Project #2: Behind the door fabric organizers

I had some leftover miscellaneous drop cloth from all of those Roman Shades (seen here) and I had these louvered doors that let in light/noise... solution behind the door fabric organizers! Ok maybe more like a phase 1 solution...

For our bedroom I made one into a tie rack, since my husband is a lawyer he has acquired far more than truly fit anywhere else. I have no detailed instructions for this project. I just did random things of piecing fabric together, making straps, backing it with fleece (hopefully to dampen light/sound), then attached with black nail head trim.

Then for the guest bedroom/craft room I did more piecing to make the whole piece, backed with fleece. Then I proceeded to make pockets and straps for wrapping paper, cardstock, contact paper, ribbon, tissue paper and gift tags. Last attaching with nail head trim again in brass.

Project #3: Fabric Coasters

A few years ago I had purchased coasters from Pier One on a whim in Capiz Shell, but they kept chipping and glasses often stuck to them if they had any moisture. So I decided to make fabric coasters.

These are definitely rough homemade things, but now we have coasters, coasters everywhere. In the guest room I made 4 drop cloth/ leftover coral fabric ones (in the curtains, fabric organizer, and pillow).

I made 8 drop cloth/leftover blue cloth (on the dining room bench) ones for the dining room.

4 drop cloth ones for the living room/office

6 drop cloth/ leftover turquoise/brown (seen on the re-upholstered fabric chairs and the bee wall hanging above) in the bonus room

And 3 all blue ones for our bedroom. 

I simply:
- stitched a square with the fabric inside out, leaving a 2-3" hole on one side (I always stitch the corners though),
- trim the edges to 1/4" and cut the corners at an angle
- flip right side, then out press with the open part folded in how you want it to look finished
- then stitched two squares, one a 1/4-1/2" from edge and one 3/4-1" in 

Done! shabby but effective coasters... and look whose husband surprised her with flowers!! I am one lucky girl! 

For better instructions think about looking at this one from Pretty Hand Girl.

Anyone else feeling like doing some spring cleaning on your leftover fabric?