Friday, September 28, 2012

This week

Here's a pictorial glimpse into some things going on with me the past week.

Volunteering with The Teen's high school marching band, and watching them perform.

Any idea what is covering my sofa?
Well, yes, there was Pepper snoozing.  She blends in with the black sofa from afar.

All those white things are marching band gloves.  About 100 pairs.  I washed them, then laid them out to dry,
matched them up by number, then laid them out in the storage container in numerical order.

Yesterday was my last day at my job.  I left after almost a year as a contractor.
A very nice co-worker knows I love Sixlets, so she left me this surprise.  Thanks, Tammy!

When I got home, I had to de-mouse our grill.  This is the second time
Mr. (or Mrs.?) Mouse decided it was a cozy place to nest.

Stopped by Target for the first time in a while last night.
Came across this quirky line of dinnerware in such fun colors and designs.

Here's more.  It's from The Curiosity Shoppe,
a San Francisco company with a limited-time feature at Target. 

Now that I'm not going in to work any more, today is the first day of the next chapter of my life.  I've got lots of projects to get to, including an eventual blog redesign.  I have lists upon lists of things I want to get to, now it's up to me to push myself to get them done.  I'm a procrastinator, you know!  Hopefully you're hear from me more often starting next week.  Hmm ... what to get started on first ....


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recipe: Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My goodness, it's been a while since I've talked to you!  Things have been a little nuts around here.  First, my mom  had surgery the day after Labor Day, and I was with her at the hospital and/or her house for about a week, plus checking in on her or taking her to doctor appointments since then.  Not to worry ... she's doing well.  Plus it's fall, and that means it's marching band season.  My son is in his second year of marching band, and between performing at football games on Friday nights and traveling to competitions on Saturdays we've not been home much.  The Mr. and I both volunteer with the band, and like I probably said last year at this time, if your family is not involved with it, you have no idea what it takes to keep an elite band like ours running!  Our own school is hosting a big marching band contest tonight, and I'm one of the chairpersons, so I've been going to a lot of meetings and doing lots of prep to get ready.  We'll all be happy when today is done.

My poor house has been quite neglected, and I haven't even read any of my favorite blogs lately, much less done any projects myself.  Well, I did tighten a loose toilet seat in our powder room, but I didn't figure you wanted to know more about that.  I only have one more week at my job before I'm "on sabbatical" again (with a little freelancing here and there), so hopefully I'll get back to some furniture painting and/or refinishing soon.  And I still need to let you know what I decided to do for the end table in my living room.

While I haven't been able to get to much DIYing lately, I have done quite a bit of cooking and baking.   I thought I'd go ahead and share our tasty chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It's from Cook's Illustrated, which has all the best recipes because they have professional bakers and chefs make a zillion different versions of something until it comes out super delicious.

My food styling could definitely use some work.  But the yumminess of these bakery-style cookies makes up for that.  Let me know if you try them out!

2-1/8 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 Tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions.  Mix flour, salt and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended.  Mix in egg, yolk and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined.  Stir in chips.

Measure scant 1/4 cup dough into a ball.  Tear dough ball in half, then piece back together with the jagged surfaces on top, forming a single cookie again.  (Leave dough uneven rather than rolling back into a ball.)  Place formed dough onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, leaving room for spreading while cooking.*

Bake until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden, yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15-18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes).  If baking two cookie sheets at a time in the oven, reverse positions halfway through baking.  Cool cookies on cookie sheets.  Serve or store in airtight container.

*  Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month -- shaped or not.  Frozen dough requires an extra 1-2 minutes baking time.



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Round mirrors bring some shine to the living room mantel

I mentioned about a month ago that I was having trouble decorating around my mantel.  I was flipping through a catalog and found some mirrors that I thought might fix my problem.  I cut out some kraft paper into circles the same size as the mirrors I liked, to make sure I liked the layout on the wall.  Remember, The Teen asked me why I had tortillas on the wall?

I have substituted the "tortillas" for the real mirrors.  I'm very pleased with the new look!

What do I like?  Well, they bring some shine to a room that doesn't get much direct light.  They fill the space around the TV just perfectly.  And they bring some much-needed curves to a room full of mostly rectangles.

If you're a fan of the mirrors, there are two styles you can choose from.  Mine are the Kieran Wall Mirror from Home Decorators Collection.  The mirrors I first came across in a catalog are the Bellesol Mirror from Ballard Designs.  I ordered both to test which one I preferred.  It turns out that they are the EXACT same mirror, except that the Bellesol has some antiquing, while the Kieran does not.  Everything else about then is literally the exact same.  And they're priced just about the same, too.  I ended up going with the Kieran because I preferred them all bright and shiny, without the antiquing.  They don't look all that glamorous on the HDC site, but they are really nice in person, and look much more expensive than they are.

I'm happy to have one more project done in the living room.  Getting close to having this room finished!  Coming soon I'll let you know which end table I chose to use for the left side of the room.

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