Archives for November 2017

What is the BEST wallpaper remover?

What is the best wallpaper remover?  You’re not going to believe me when I tell you, but you should, because I have more wallpaper removal experience than any mom should be allowed to have;)

When we bought the house we currently live in, the inside was covered with dark wallpaper that we both disliked immensely…ok…hated.  We hated the wallpaper.  So, very soon after closing, we began the monumental task of soaking and scraping, and slowly worked our way through several rooms.  We tried several different wall paper removers like this one and  a wallpaper scoring tool like this one  to let the wallpaper remover soak in better, but it was always smelly and unbelievably time consuming!  Until we discovered the BEST wallpaper remover ever!  Are you ready for it?  DOWNY fabric softener!

We’ve been regulars at Home Depot since we moved to Atlanta and are on a first name basis with a couple of the guys there – I won’t say who because I don’t want anyone to get into trouble for this.  One Saturday we were standing in the aisle complaining, yet again, about taking down more wall paper when one of the guys we knew said, “Don’t waste your money.”  I’m sure we looked confused.  “Well, if we don’t use a wallpaper remover, how are we going to get all that glue off?”  He leaned in, gave us a big wink and said “Do y’all have any Downey?”  What? Was he serious?! “You mean fabric softener?” we asked.  “Yep!  That’s the one.”

Our wallpaper whisperer had been a paint and wallpaper guy for many years.  He told us Downey was the only thing he used.

The directions he gave us were as follows:

  1. Put on a pair of heavy dishwashing gloves.
  2. Then put the hottest water you can get out of the tap into a 5 gallon bucket – about 2/3 full.   Ad several capfuls of liquid Downy fabric softener. (I use April Fresh:).  Now mix it together.
  3. Soak a large sponge in the hot water/Downy mixture and then, starting at the top of the wall, wipe over the wallpaper with a very wet sponge.  Slowly, work your way down to the bottom of he wall going back and forth horizontally in sections about 3-5 feet wide.  (We usually do about a 5 foot wide section.)
  4. Soak your sponge whenever you feel it is getting too dry.
  5. Then move to the next section of wall and repeat.
  6. When 5- 10 minutes has elapsed for the first section go back to it and start peeling the paper.  If you need to soak your sponge and put a bit more of the hot water mixture on as you work your way down the wall.
  7. Do this for the whole room.  Change the hot water mixture when it gets too “gluey”(if that’s a word).
  8. Once you have peeled the paper go back to the first section and just wash off any remaining glue that remains so the wall is nice and smooth.

We still use a wall paper remover tool like this one  to scrape some wallpaper where necessary.

Downy works GREAT – better than any of the wall paper stripping products we have tried on the market.  It also smells much nicer than anything you can buy at the hardware store. So…bonus!  We’ve been using Downey ever since that day at Home Depot and we won’t ever go back.

Give it a try for yourself! Let me know what you think!

Easy Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls

Easy Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls

As soon as the leaves and the temperature start dropping I love to break out the soup recipes!  A  warm, hearty soup, with a big piece of fresh French bread and a slice of Havarti cheese, yum!  Well, it’s November in Atlanta. Soup should definitely be in my meal rotation by now, but, it was still 75 degrees and muggy this past week, so soup is still on hold.  Instead, I’m going to make Thai Chicken Noodle bowls this week – close to soup – but lighter in taste.

I started making this recipe when College Inn sold something called  “Culinary Broths” at our local store.  My favorite was  “Thai Coconut Curry”.  You can still get it by ordering it online at Walmart for pickup.  It’s inconvenient.  So, now I just make my own broth -the flavors are fairly easy to recreate with a few ingredients.  Today I was pressed for time, so instead of cooking chicken to put in the noodle bowls I picked up a rotisserie chicken at Publix and just added some of the cooked chicken as noted below before serving.

Feel free to play around with the amount of spice, sweet and saltiness. I make this fairly “mild” and I know everyone’s tastes are a little different.  An easy way to do this is to let your family “tweak” their noodle bowls to their own taste at the table. Just make the noodle bowls as directed below.  When you serve, put red pepper flakes, honey and salt on the table for them if they would like to add a little something.  It’s a great way for kids of all ages to get to “play with their food at the table”:) Just watch those crushed red pepper flakes!  In my house…if you tweak it…you eat it;)

For a printable version scroll to the bottom.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of olive oil
3 large carrots peeled, cut in half and sliced thin
3 large celery stalks, washed and diced very small
1 medium to large yellow (or sweet) onion diced very small
1 Tablespoons of minced garlic from a jar
6 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (you can substitute 1 Tablespoon of ground ginger)
1 can of low fat coconut milk
1 Tablespoon of curry powder
1/2 package of angel hair pasta, broken in half
1 chicken breast – cooked and diced (or chicken from a cooked rotisserie chicken- see note above)
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (or honey)
1/4 cup cilantro

1/4-1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of kosher salt and additional kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

NOTE: You can skip most of step 1 if you buy a precooked rotisserie chicken and just chop it up as noted at the end of  step 1.

1. Spray a small pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put the chicken breast on the pan and sprinkle with a little kosher salt and pepper. Bake in an oven set at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes – or until juices in the chicken run clear.  Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Then chop the chicken into small pieces and put it aside. OR, as noted above, buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and cut up the already cooked meat from the chicken and put it in a bowl and put it aside.

While the chicken is in the oven cooking make the rest of the soup.  It will be done by the time the chicken is cooked and you can put the chicken into the pan and be ready to serve;)

2. Cut up the three peeled carrots, washed celery and 1/2 an onion directed.

 

3. Put 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, Add the carrot, celery and onion to the pan and sautė over medium heat until the vegetables are soft – about 5 minutes. (Do not brown them.)

4. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic from a jar, the grated fresh ginger or ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and 1 Tablespoon of curry powder, stir to combine with the vegetables and saute for one minute.

5. Add 6 cups of chicken broth, stir and bring mixture to a boil. Then turn your heat down to simmer and put a lid on the mixture for 5 minutes to allow all the flavors to combine.

 

6. Now add the angel hair pasta – Take approximately 1/3 – 1/2 of the noodles in the box and break in half with your hands and drop them into the pot. Stir to combine the noodles into the mixture.  Put the lid on and cook for approximately 3 mins (Angel hair past cooks ULTRA fast! So don’t leave it past 3-4 minutes.)

7. Now shut the heat off. Add the cooked chicken, the can of light coconut milk, the juice of one lime (or 1/4 cup juice), 1/4 cup cilantro chopped, 2 TBSP of brown sugar OR honey (NOT both) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir for one minute to combine well and make sure brown sugar is melted.

Once all the ingredients have been combined and are hot serve immediately topped with a few extra pieces of chopped cilantro and a slice of lime.  I actually serve this with a fork and a spoon because the fork makes it easy to eat the noodles…but you will want a spoon so can make sure to get all the the delicious sauce!

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Easy Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Noodle Bowl
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 large carrots peeled, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 3 large celery stalks, washed and diced very small
  • 1 medium to large yellow or sweet onion diced very small
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic from a jar
  • 6 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (more to taste) (Can substitute 1 Tablespoon of ground ginger if you need to)
  • 1 can of low fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of curry powder
  • ½ package of angel hair pasta, broken in half
  • 1 full chicken breast - cooked and diced
  • 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (or honey)
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • additional kosher salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. NOTE: You can skip step 1 if you buy a precooked rotisserie chicken and just chop up the cooked chicken from that into small pieces to be added at the end of the recipe as noted.
  2. Spray a small pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put the chicken breast on the pan and sprinkle with a little kosher salt and pepper. Bake in an oven set at 350 for approximately 35 minutes or until juices in the chicken run clear. Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Then chop the chicken into small pieces and put it aside. OR, as noted above, buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and cut up the already cooked meat from the chicken and put it in a bowl and put it aside.
  3. Cut up three peeled carrots, washed celery and ½ an onion as directed above.
  4. Put 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, Add the carrot, celery and onion to the pan and sautė over medium heat until the vegetables are soft - about 5 minutes. Do not brown them.
  5. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of kosher salt over the veggies and stir
  6. Add 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic, the grated fresh ginger (or ground ginger), ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper and 1 Tablespoon of curry powder, stir to combine with the vegetables and saute for one minute.
  7. Add 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth, stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Then turn your heat down to simmer or low and put a lid on the mixture for 5 minutes to allow all the flavors to combine.
  8. Now add the angel hair pasta. Take approximately ⅓ - ½ of the noodles in the box and break in half with your hands and drop them into the pot. Stir them into the mixture, then put the lid on and cook on medium/high, so it is boiling/bubbling, for approximately 3-4 mins (Angel hair past cooks ULTRA fast! So don't leave it past 3-4 minutes.
  9. Now shut the heat off. Add the cooked chicken, the can of light coconut milk, the juice of one lime (or approximately ¼ cup of lime juice), ¼ cup of chopped cilantro, 2 TBSP of brown sugar OR honey (NOT both) and any additional kosher salt and pepper to taste. Stir for one minute to combine well and make sure brown sugar is melted.
  10. Once all the ingredients have been combined serve immediately with a little extra chopped cilantro and a slice of lime on top. Serve with a spoon and a fork or a pair of chopsticks;)
  11. NOTE: If you have leftovers store them in a covered microwaveable dish in the fridge. When you are ready to heat and eat add more plain chicken broth to the mixture because the noodles will have sucked up some of the delicious sauce.

 

A Farmhouse Table & Outdoor Dinner Party

A few months ago I started thinking about hosting and outdoor dinner party. Fall is my favorite time of year, and although the color in Atlanta is not what it is in my native New England, the weather can be beautiful well into November. Why not take advantage of it?  We get together often for dinner with friends and I wanted to change things up (I know…so not like me! LOL!)  We always start by hanging out in the kitchen and move to the dining room to eat because it’s the only table that can fit six or more. I started pinning photos to my Pinterest board to get ideas.

First, we needed to figure out what to use as a table. We’ve had this outdoor set for about 12 years.

It’s super heavy and durable, and it’s perfect for 4 people, but a little tight for 6 adults. (The table top also squeaks like crazy because it’s a little broken;). I also had more of a “farmhouse” theme in mind. But, what could we use?  I didn’t want to buy a new table.  Time to get creative!  We had this a 45 inch wide rectangular table in the basement that I refinished years ago, and now use to hold my painting supplies.

We knew we needed something a little bigger (to fit 6-8 people).  We decided we could use the table as a base and just make a larger table top.  Love it!  Lee found this post on my DIY Woodworking board on Pinterest to make the table.  He tweaked the plans to be the size we wanted. Here is a picture of us (aka: him) figuring things out in Home Depot.) I love this guy<3

We spent about an hour looking through boards they had in stock. They needed to be straight, not warped, and the idea girl wanted some character – knots and wood grain.

We probably went through 50 boards before we settled on the ones above. (Bless my patient husband!) We laid them out to get a sense of what it would look like.

Once we got home I spent some time laying the pieces out the way I wanted them put together for the final table top and then my hubby got to work cutting the boards and making the pocket holes with his Kreg jig. He put gorilla glue over all of the edges of the wood that would be connected with screws and then screwed the wood together.

This is the underside of the table. If I haven’t mentioned it before, my husband is an engineer. I realize there are an awful lot of pocket holes here:)…and we ran out of screws at one point…but this table top is NOT going to coming apart on ust;)

Since we were using a soft wood (pine) I decided to use a water based wood conditioner first.  It prepares the wood so that it doesn’t suck the stain in so quickly and end up being “blotchy” looking.  I did some test strips on some scrap pieces first.  Based on those tests, I was actually afraid it would resist the water based stain I selected a little too much, but it honestly didn’t. It worked out great! I would highly recommend using a wood conditioner before you stain pine, and I will absolutely use it going forward.

My husband gave the whole table top a good sanding with the orbital sander and then wiped it down really well.  This is a picture of the top of the table with the one coat of the water based wood conditioner we used in natural.

I wanted the table to have a light grayish-brown, weathered look – kind of like Restoration Hardware. Below is a picture of the table with one coat of the water based wood stain we used in Walnut.  There were two areas that didn’t come out the way I wanted, so I got the orbital sander and sanded the top of the table very lightly and very randomly. Then I wiped off the dust with a dry cloth and wiped over the whole table again with the (very) wet rag I used to wipe off the initial coat of stain.

Here is what the table looked like after it dried.

Sidebar – I’ve been painting some “whimsical chairs” when I have the time, and often drop into GoodWill or a local flea market to see if they have anything. The week of our dinner I found these 4 chairs at Goodwill for $26.92. (Can you believe I hemmed and hawed about them for about a half hour before I decided to buy them? Yeah…sometimes I think too much!) Although they are missing a few pieces, they were fairly sturdy. (I’ll figure out a way to fix them at some point in the future.) I figured I could wipe them down and sand the seat a little and we could use them for our dinner.

Here is a picture of the table with chairs I found at Goodwill to see if it would look ok for dinner. (I like it!)

The picture below provides a good view of how the new table top  sits on top of the old table. It is attached with blocks of wood and screws so it wouldn’t move if people lean on it – meaning all our dishes wouldn’t go crashing onto the deck;)  The engineer gets all the credit:)  I had one old chair and added the chairs from the GoodWill.  I just sanded the seats a bit so that they didn’t have the splotches of old paint on them like they did when I bought them.

We added a final chair from the kitchen to the other end of the table. (I am actually really liking this mismatched chair look!)

Here is the table set for company, including a few blankets to use in case it got cold. (In Atlanta that’s anything below 70 degrees:))

We had a lot of fun making the table together and we had a great night with friends whom we adore!  I hope there will be LOTS more opportunities to use this table!

 

 

 

 

Embossing Powder – How Did I Miss This?!

This morning I managed to drop my husband at the airport a little early, so with a few minutes to spare on the way home I thought I’d pop into a Paper Source not too far out of my way. I love Paper Source!  I can feel the creative juices in my brain start flowing start as soon as I walk in the door (and I have to remind myself not to buy everything in sight.)  I’ve been trying to find a whimsical chicken stamp (a story for another day), and they had a selection of stamps, so I figured I’d look.

I noticed some examples the staff had made with the stamps in stock and was drawn to the ones that looked like the ink was raised, kind of 3-D, very cool! When the salesperson asked if she could help me find something I asked her what they used to make the ink look raised. She said, “Embossing powder. Do you want to try it?” Well…hell…yes I do!

She took me to a table and opened a drawer filled with stamps, ink, and embossing powders in too many colors to count! She showed me how you just put a regular stamp in a clear ink and stamp the paper. Then you sprinkle embossing powder over it (like you would if you were adding glitter to glue). You shake off the excess and put it back in the container. Then you simply heat the stamped area with a heat gun and voila! SO COOL! Why have I not tried this before today??

I wear big black nerdy glasses (which I love) and they had a stamp that looked just like them – so I bought it. I also bought a flower stamp, thinking I might be able to fill the flower petals in with water colors. Of course, I had to buy the VersaMark Ink and I chose three powders that I thought might coordinate. I already have a heat gun at home- which I use for a number of things including encaustic art.

When I got home I started playing with the embossing powder right away! Beware – if you haven’t tried this yet!  It is SO easy and TOTALLY addictive! I’m hooked! Here are a few that I did today. The glasses were easy.  Stamp, sprinkle with embossing powder (used black sparkle for the glasses), shake off the excess, put it back into the little round container, and then heat the stamped area. Done! For the flowers below I did the same, using watercolor paper, and then painted inside the petals with watercolor pencils.  Now, I’ve decided I’ve got to go to ETSY and find somewhere I can buy a stamp with our name and address on it.  I’m never going to write my return address on an envelope ever again!  I’m going to emboss it:)  It’s going to look great on our Christmas cards this year.  Hmmmm….maybe gold?  If you haven’t already tried embossing powders -I hope you’ll give them a try!  Feel free to share your creations!

Bresaola con Rughetta e Scaglie Di Parmigaiano (Cured Beef with Arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano)

Bresaola con Rughetta e Scaglie Di Parmigaiano (Cured Beef with Arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano)
 
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From the Williams - Sonoma ROME cookbook. A delicious salad with a beautiful presentation!
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups arugula leaves, tough stems removed, leaves rinsed and dried
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 16 paper thin slices bresaola about 4½ ounces
  • About 1½ oz wedge Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • 4 lemon wedges
Instructions
  1. Tear the arugula leaves into a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and dress with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Toss to mix well. Add a grinding of pepper if the arugula is mild: often its own peppery taste is sufficient.
  2. Choose a white or light-colored serving plate or individual plates that highlight the colors of the ingredients. Arrange the slices of bresaola around the edge of the platter or plates. Place the arugula in the middle. Using a handheld cheese slicer or vegetable peeler, shave the cheese over the arugula.
  3. Sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper, and serve at once. Place the olive oil bottle on the table for diners to add to the bresaola. Pass the lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.

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