Thursday, January 27, 2011

Faux Granite Work Table Tutorial

 Check out Frugal Friday here!
As some of you might know, I’ve been re-doing my studio (again). I am trying to do it on a tight budget, so it’s taken some very painful and creative thinking! I have been using an old door as my work table and of course it’s been thru a few make overs. I was shown a picture of someone’s craft room that was re done with built in cabinets and granite counter tops and was reminded of a faux finish I could actually afford! While it is a bit time consuming, it is not hard to do.
Here are the supplies you will need:
a table top, (paint with latex paint)
a sample of the granite you want to copy – very helpful!
acrylic paints (any color you want to replicate)
a sea sponge, (very course) tear it if you have to
high gloss acrylic finish
wax (optional)
Start by painting the top, either darkest color or light, depending on the granite you are going for. Now start dabbing the paint on with a lite hand, the sea sponge will give it instant spots. You will turn your sponge often, so it doesn’t look too even. Keep in mind that a granite slab has a bit of a grain in it, so make sure you keep it moving in the same directions through out the process.

Keep adding colors, you don’t have to clean the sponge in-between use.
When you get the effect you want, let it dry for a least 1 hour (acrylics dry very fast). Then coat with a high gloss finish. You can still make adjustments at anytime. Just dry and recoat with gloss. It is quite surprising how much this will look like real granite! When you are done, you can coat it with paste wax for an added sheen. Voila! The coolest part of using a door is, when you want a different look, just turn it over and paint something on the other side, or repaint!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken sausage and polenta casserole

For some reason I use a lot of tomatoes in my cooking. I guess I love Italian food! I also love corn, corn tortillas, corn flakes, corn meal, polenta, etc.
Polenta is also gluten free. I know there are some of you out there that are sensitive to gluten, so this is a good meal for you. And, I should be a spokes person for Trader Joe's, since almost all the ingredients I use are from that GREAT store! LOL!
Start with your favorite marinara sauce, or use this recipe:
Trader Joes Italian chicken sausage, sliced
chopped onion, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms
one can of diced tomatoes
Italian seasoning
red wine
Brown sausage, add the veggies and saute until softened. Add 1/3 cup of wine, simmer for a few minutes. Add tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Open the tube of polenta, slice in 1/2” slices. Using a 10” x10” casserole dish, lay down the first layer of polenta slices. Top with half of the sauce, and a cup of shredded cheese. Layer the remaining polenta slices, top with the sauce, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350* for about 1/2 hour, until bubbly. Serve with a salad and french bread.
Delicious on a cold night! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Plugging away.......

I am having a TERRIBLE time getting back into the business of creating!!! I have, however, been cleaning out closets, drawers, and my studio (more on that later), like crazy! I have managed to eke out a few things though, like this Valentines day banner:

Give me a little glitter and some paper and I'm happy!
I also made and listed a new eyeglass case, finally!
So, I'll just keep plugging away at life and see what else evolves......Hope you are having a creative week!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The lowly corn flake and Oven "fried" Chicken

Have you ever used corn flake crumbs for breading? If you haven't you are in for a real treat! It make the best coating on breaded pork chops or chicken! It is very crispy and delicious! You can buy the least expensive corn flakes and whirl them in your food processor or put them in a baggy and crush fine with your rolling pin. 
This is my all time favorite "oven fried chicken" recipe: 

Oven fried chicken with roasted red potatoes, frozen roasted corn (from Trader Joe's)

Put chicken pieces in a bowl and "wet" them with soy sauce. Then dredge the pieces in a mixture of corn flake crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and sesame seeds., set aside. Heat your oven to 350*. Spray the bottom of a large baking pan with Pam, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom with a thin layer, heat in oven for a few minutes. Add chicken pieces skin side down. Bake for about 30 minutes, carefully turn over pieces, bake for about another 30 minutes till browned and thoroughly cooked. 

Soo good! You can vary the recipe by using crumbs with Italian seasonings, or Herbes de Provence, or whatever seasonings you like. Even mix it with cracker or bread crumbs.
One of my family's favorite way to serve cauliflower is this: steam cauliflower, till tender crisp. Put in serving bowl. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saute pan. Add a few tbs. of corn flake crumbs and stir until browned. Pour over cauliflower, mix gently. It will make a cauliflower lover out of the most finicky eater!
The lowly corn flake crumb, try it, you'll love it!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NewTaffeta flower brooch!

I seem to be avoiding the sewing machine lately. One reason is that my fabric piles on the metro shelf got completely out of hand and I am in the process of MAJOR reorganization. (ugh). I also realized my bag creations got a little stagnant. I really like so many different crafts! Anyway, a while back I posted a tutorial about handmade taffeta flowers HERE and decided to make a brooch out of one. It turned out really pretty! ( I will probably sell it on Esty.) This is it:

Check out the tutorial if you haven't seen it. They are a bit time consuming, but not hard. As you can see the results are stunning!  And brooches are sooo versatile. (dress up a handbag)  Try it, you'll like it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vegetarian eggplant Moussaka

We try to eat alot of veggies around here so I am constantly looking for ways to convert recipes into vegetarian versions. Here is one I came up with for Moussaka.

First, prepare one medium  eggplant by slicing 1 inch rounds, salt on both sides and set them on a rack over the sink. This draws out some of the bitterness. Start the sauce.

Tomato sauce:
olive oil
 1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 red wine
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
Saute mushrooms until the water is completely released and mushrooms are browned. Remove from pan. Add olive oil to pan and saute the rest of the veggies. Add the mushrooms, and the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Rinse the salt off of the eggplant, lightly coat with flour and fry in olive oil till nicely browned. Drain on paper towel.

 Spray a deep casserole dish with olive oil (like Pam). Layer eggplant slices, then tomato sauce, repeat until eggplant and sauce are used. Now make the sauce for the top:

6 tbls butter
scant 1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups of milk
1 beaten egg
 about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in sauce pan. Wisk in the flour, then slowly add the milk, wisking constantly until thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly and wisk in egg. Pour sauce over the layered eggplant and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350* for about 1 hour, until browned and bubbly. Serve with crusty bread.

After my husband and I ate, my son and his friend came over to borrow a tool and finished of the rest of Moussaka! They absolutely loved it and wanted the recipe. I really love eggplant and this is a good way to use it. Hope you try this and enjoy!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tee Shirt Necklace

I played around with some new projects for gifts this last year and found 100's of tuts for tee shirt scarves and necklaces. This one started as a scarf and kept morphing into this finished necklace:

It was alot of fun and something different. There are tons of  variations and ways to recycle old tee's. Just google tee shirt scarf tutorials and give one a try.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Another wonderful 12th Night Celebration!

Last year my friend, Ann, started a new annual tradition for our friends to get together for a beautiful dinner in celebration of 12th Night.( our first year) . It is a great time to exchange gifts, after all of the holiday hub-bub is over. Ann outdid  herself with a delicious dinner, and champagne cocktails, and an English trifle for dessert! It is a perfect time to use all of the best china, silver and glassware that we save for just this kind of occasion.








There is nothing better than good friends, great food and of course, the cocktails AND presents! WooHoo! Do you and your friends have any traditional gatherings for the holidays? If not, I encourage you to start one! It is a great way to keep in touch.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How NOT to start reorganizing….

Ooops…..I don’t know how this happened, but I will blame my daughter. I was Skyping with her this morning and innocently showed her some new storage boxes I bought from OSH. When all of a sudden this happened:


I have not cleaned  out these cabinets since my kids left home! (my bad). It is on my to-do list, but, I should have finished this first:


In over my head! Don’t let this happen to you!!!!

P.S. Here are the storage boxes. They are fabric pop-ups and stackable! Love them!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Here’s to a Great New Year!!

This last year has been a whirl wind to say the least! A new grandson, surgeries, new job, illness, ….blah, blah……It all ended on a good note, except for a lousy on going cold. This Christmas was one of the best ever, celebrating with my kids and grandson! Not to mention, some of the best gifts EVER! (heheh). First off, my daughter really used her creative talents and painted some wonderful pictures for us!



My son got me a beautiful new jewelry box and a TV for my studio!


And I scored a new camera and an Alpaca shawl/cape to keep me warm, from my husband!

While Alex enjoyed all of his gifts,


he, of course, loved the ribbons and bells on his presents most of all!


While it was especially sad saying goodbye to the kids this year,


(bye bye Alex!)

I am looking forward to new and exciting things to come. I already have a 2 page to-do-list started with a lot of the usual cleaning and re-organizing stuff. I am also looking forward to some new creations in my etsy store.

So, here’s to a good new year!!! Thanks for all of your support and friendship this last year, and I wish all of the best to you!!