Thursday, February 23, 2012

The William Morris Project: Week 7

This sort of felt like the lost week.  As though it was never going to end, and when I reflect back on it, it will just seem like a giant void that leaves me wondering "What exactly did I get done that week?".  And then I look at J's room, and I KNOW.


Cleveland Brown colors (even the fan blades!)
*this was how it was when we moved in.

It was truly awful.  It was both jarringly bright and depressingly dark.  There were uneven lines at the corners and blobs of paint on the ceiling.  The decals were peeling off.  


I originally planned to stripe this wall with orange, but the husband suggested I do a dashed line instead.  The orange was really bright, and I think a full, striped wall would have overwhelmed the space.  Much better.  

It did take a lot of time to measure off, tape off, and then paint the line.  I rolled on 2 coats of orange, then had to go back and smooth out almost every side of each rectangle.  Given that my college painting professor mocked my affinity for detail work, I was totally prepared for some delicate touch up.  

I also decided at the last minute to paint all the trim white to match the rest of the house.  
Yes!  Let's add another 4 hours of work to this already drawn out project!

The inspiration for the room was his robot sheets.  The blanket on the bed is not done yet, but I wanted to show that it will add another pop of orange. 

We picked up the lamp at IKEA this weekend.  

I painted the blades the same color as the walls, then tipped them with orange because it reminded the husband of a propeller on a plane.  

The frames are cheap-o's from WM.  They were black, but I painted them a dark grey semi-gloss that I already had.  I realized I couldn't remove the glass, so I shimmied some saran wrap between the glass & the frame - worked great!.  

All that's left to do is add the vinyl decals (I didn't realize I had to wait 2 weeks for the walls to cure), and a few more prints.  The walls look really bare right now (and huge!  His room is not that big!), but it will be better with a few more frames. 

Paint colors: 
Wall - Behr Subtle Touch
Dashed line, fan - Behr Electric Orange
Primer: Kilz and Zinsser Bulls-Eye

My boy loves his new room, and was so excited to get back in there & sleep in "My New Cool Room!".  I know.  He's 3.  
But I appreciate the enthusiasm.  

As always, this project is part of The William Morris Project started by Jules at Pancakes and French Fries.  She is awesome, and so is this project.  

PS - You'd think that by now I'd be almost done with my daughter's room.  No.  Not at all.  Haven't even started.  But I'll leave that story for next week.  

PPS: The nearest IKEA is 2.25 hours away in PA.  We made the drive on Saturday & it was totally worth it.  Mostly because of this: 

That my friends, is a Primanti Brothers sandwich.  
I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mardi Gras!

Although we aren't Catholic or Southern, we do "celebrate" Mardi Gras in our house.  With Big Sis being a Louisiana-born girl, we have to.  I made a slow-cooker Red Beans & Rice recipe which was good, but not great.  I've realized that it's just tough to beat my favorite-from-a-can variety, and that's saying something!

I also tried out a new King Cake recipe this year, and THAT was a winner!  Bookmark this for next year, and then send me a thank you note after you've enjoyed the doughy, buttery, creamy goodness.

Please note that "Cake" is a deceptive term here.  If you haven't had a King Cake before, be prepared for a baked good that more resembles a pastry ring than a "cake".  This recipe produces a brioche-type dough that is tender and slightly sweet, and really delicious.   


King Cake
(taken from & altered just a bit)


  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 can cherry pie filling
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon multicolored candy sprinkles


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and white sugar in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the egg yolks and melted butter into the milk mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. Beat the flour mixture into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and cherry pie filling. Mix well. In another small bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons milk. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 6x30 inch rectangle. Spread the cream cheese filling across the center of the dough. Bring the two long edges together and seal completely. Using your hands shape the dough into a long cylinder and place on a greased baking sheet, seam-side down. Shape the dough into a ring press the baby into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Place a well-greased 2 pound metal coffee can the center of the ring to maintain the shape during baking. Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  5. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the coffee can and allow the bread to cool. Drizzle cooled cake with lemon/sugar glaze and decorate with candy sprinkles.

Notes: This cake was HUGE!  I cooked it on a pizza stone, and it expanded to nearly fill the entire thing!  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The William Morris Project: Week 6


That about sums up my productivity this week.  Due to weather and Valentine's Day and just a lot going on, I've only done about 20% of what I wanted to.  I had hoped this post would be a big reveal for this week, but instead, I will have to settle for showing you some of my plans.  Plans still count for The William Morris Project, right?

First, J's room. My plan was to have it all painted and put back together in full - new bedding, an actual curtain rod, framed pictures, etc.  Instead, I have this:

I've marked the paint colors above.  The walls will be pale grey with one wall having grey & orange stripes.  
I know.  That kid LOVES orange, and THAT is the color he picked.  But, it's still better than the 2 dark brown walls and 2 orange walls he has now.  Not to mention the ceiling fan done in the same colors.  Excuse me, I think I barfed in my mouth just a little bit.  

**I've gotten as far as priming the walls, and priming & painting the trim.  Wall color goes up today! 

M's room is below.  Her walls will be "Barely Pink", and I think I'm going to do an accent wall in her closet with the "Blooming Pink".  Not sure yet.  But I am DYING to get hers done so we can finally use her new bedding and hang curtains and get rid of the heinous purple walls.  I wish we could yank out the purple carpet, too, but it's just not going to happen in the near future.  I really hope the pink on pink is not going to be too awful with the purple carpet.  Just thinking about it upsets my stomach a little bit. Maybe I'll start keeping my eyes open for carpet remnants.......

I adore the Paris bedding.  The white with hot pink border is her duvet cover.  Her 2nd set of sheets is pink with white polka dots.  She's got a few cute pieces of art to hang on the walls, and I'm going to make more using the Cricut and the Summer in Paris cartridge.  I also gave her this as a birthday gift, and it is begging to be hung.

It's from the Sugarfresh etsy shop, and I looooooove it.  

So that's it for this week.  I have high hopes that next week will bring pictures of J's room all painted and back to normal.  Crossing my fingers......

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The William Morris Project: Week 5

I am still in post-party-decompression-and-catch-up-mode around here, and between that, and planning another mini-event for next Saturday, I have not been thinking much about anything useful or beautiful in my home.

I mean, other than the fact that I no longer have 4 overflowing laundry hampers.

That is absolutely gorgeous.

But The William Morris Project looms large in my mind, so I couldn't just not do something.

I finally whipped up a quick craft that I think meets the qualifiers of "useful" and "beautiful" while also satisfying my need to have something to look forward to.

I made a countdown frame!

I gathered supplies that I already had: scrapbook paper, chipboard letters, glue dots, and a frame. I've had all the items stashed away in my craft drawers, just itching to be put to use*. The frame had even been painted to hide the little dings & it was all alone in a corner, begging to be used.  

I was looking for a simple solution, so I just cut a few 12" x 12" pieces of paper in half, used the glue dots to secure them together, then added the letters.  It took me about 15 minutes in all (again, what have I been waiting for??)

And now, we've got a countdown calendar for our important events!


Yep, we are taking the plunge and going for a whole week in March.   We'll even be there for Big J's 4th Birthday, and I fully expect his head to pop off from all the awesome.  

*According to The Happiness Project, this is called Aspirational Clutter.  I have A LOT of it. But is it clutter if I'm actually using it??* 

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Favorite Salad

I enjoy salads but I rarely eat them because I don't like to make them.

I know, it seems perverse, as I will whip up a batch of brownies at the drop of a hat, but drag my feet at the thought of chopping a little lettuce.

And yet, I've found a salad that I've eaten at least 5 times in the last 2 weeks.

No picture, but the original post (found via Pinterest) is here.  I've found that you can pretty much add or take away anything you'd like and it is still tasty.

Here's what I put in:

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce
  • Turkey (I use deli meat)
  • Cranberries (just a small handful)
  • Goat cheese (or feta)
  • Avocado
  • Pears (or apples)
  • Bacon
  • Poppy seed dressing
  • Balsamic vinegar & olive oil
Everything gets finely chopped and tossed together.  I drizzle about 1Tbs. each of the dressings and toss well - it's just enough to flavor the salad without getting soggy.  I love that I can add or take away almost any element and it's still good.  It's great with chicken and green apples.  It's great with turkey and avocado.  It's great with ham and pears.   I use about 1 Tbs. of goat cheese, and it adds a nice creamy-ness to the texture.  

I always balked at poppy seed dressing (I just hate those little seeds that get stuck in my teeth), but it absolutely makes the salad.  I've also learned to whip up the vinegar & olive oil in a mason jar that I keep in the fridge.  If it gets too thick, I pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds, and shake well to remix it.  

Finally!  A salad I can make and enjoy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Party Time!

My girl turned 8!

We've been talking up her 8th birthday for many months now, and one of the promises that was made referred to a party.  A real, in our home, with friends, party.

It's been 3 years since our last party, and now I remember why.

First, we chose the theme: beach/ luau.  Super fun for FEBRUARY, right?  Yeah, especially in the Midwest when we will likely be snowed in, iced out, or generally just trapped indoors.  But why not bring the outdoor fun inside?

Next, I spent several weeks haunting Pinterest, and gathered lots of good ideas.  I also found a great little etsy shop called Bee and Daisy where I bought a pack of party printables.  Most of the items were standard, ready-to-print, but I also bought an add-on which personalized some of the items.  At $20 for both, this was a fantastic way to personalize a lot of the decor without busting my budget.  The first thing we did was to create the invitation using a basic photo editing program.

We printed these out on photo paper through our local WM, along with the pennant banners.  And then the real work began.....

Burning up my paper cutter!

We decided to make rolled fabric flowers into barrettes as part of the take-home favor boxes.  I had all the fabric, so I only needed to purchase the clips. 

We also made flower cookies for the girls to take home. 

And most of the other decor was tissue paper flowers!  

$4 in tissue paper transformed into this: 

(there are many, many tutorials online, starting with the classic from Martha Stewart)

The flowers were all cut out using the Cricut, and I attached them to the buffet table using removable glue dots.  

Banner in the front window reads
"Happy 8th Birthday M------!"

I loved the personalized water bottle labels. 

I made fruit skewers

(Layered Jello cups with a gummy shark)

Sunshine cookies (dipped Oreos)
Flip flop cookies (Nutter Butters)

Celery & carrots with ranch dressing
(which no one wanted - HA!)

And mini cups of Starburst.

After all 11 girls arrived, we got started by making paper leis.  

I used the Cricut to cut hundreds of paper flowers, then snipped some colorful straws as spacers.  
The girls sat on beach towels to string their leis. 


Next, they ate, then moved on to 
"Toilet Paper Hula Girl". 

They broke into teams and had 10 minutes to create a "hula" outfit. 

I think they liked shredding the toilet paper more than anything.
(Best 97 cents I spent all weekend)

Next, Pin the Coconut on the Palm Tree. 

They then took a whack at the Palm Tree Pinata.  No pictures because it took 2 of us to manage everyone.... but the girls loved it.  The only bummer was that it appeared 2.5 lbs. of candy was not quite enough for everyone. 

That's OK, because we had cake and ice cream!

I know, this is a lame picture, but I am super proud of the ombre cake.   

And finally, presents!

The girls each left with a cute favor box filled with the hair clip, cookie, a pack of goldfish, and a personalized thank you tag.  

It was a great party, the 2 1/2 hours flew by, and no one cried.  

And yep, it's going to be at least 4 more years before we do this again. 

For my own posterity......

Lessons learned:
  • Command hooks & tabs are the way to go.  I used them to hang the poms, attach the backdrop behind the buffet (which was just foamboard covered in wrapping paper), and attach the palm tree. 
  • Too cold for a pinata outside?  Hub took a 2 x 4 and suspended the pinata from the end.  He was able to maneuver it up and down while the girls took a swing at it.  Worked perfectly, and no one had to shiver in the 40 degree weather!
  • People will arrive early.  It is inevitable.  They will also drop off their kid in the driveway & peel out.  Also inevitable. 
  • You can use a hole punch to make the straw hole in the canning jar lids.  Unfortunately, my straws were much bigger than the hole.  Measure & test it out more than an hour before the party.  
  • Decor doesn't have to be expensive.  I purchased some items from the Dollar Tree (foam board, spoons, TP, clear cups), some from WM (plates, napkins, balloons, treat bags - all less than $1 each), and used a lot of items that I already had (serving plates, drink tub, twine for banners, fabric for barrettes).  Other than the $20 for the printables, the most expensive items I purchased were the pinata for $9, a pack of scrapbook paper for $5, and the tissue paper for $4.