Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Third and Final Chocolate Chip Cookie Least for now

Well let's just say that I am not a huge fan of the chocolate chip cookie recipe by Alton Brown. They taste just like the cookies from the recipe on the back of the bag and they are GREASY! Trust me, I tried 3 of them just to make sure. One hot, one warm, and one after they cooled. It is quite a sacrifice in the name of research, good thing they were not that big.
The supposed secret ingredient of this recipe is using bread flour to produce a more chewy cookie. I don't think it did anything for the recipe. The other common chewy cookie method is to melt the butter first.

I love using a small ice-cream scoop to portion out the cookies. Much easier than messing around with spoons or measuring cups.
These do not take long in the oven.....first pan got a little too dark on the edges. I learned from that and checked them sooner on the next round.
You can certainly try this recipe if you like and be sure to let me know if you get any better results than I did. Here is the link to the recipe. The recipe has hundreds of positive reviews on the food network site....hmmmm? Maybe they will be better tomorrow. They still taste good enough to eat!


So if you leave these cookies alone overnight in a sealed container they get better. They seem to absorb more of the grease (still greasy but not as bad) and get more chewy and soft. Matt also thought they were pretty good after he tried them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Petal Ruffle Lamp Tutorial

Do you have a boring lampshade that doesn't match your room? In need of some ruffles? Can't find a lampshade that will work in your space? That was my problem. I have been looking for white drum shades for my bedroom lamps but none were found that I felt were affordable. I had nothing to lose by trying out a lampshade makeover so it all started.
Earlier in the month I had spray painted the bases of my outdated lamps with a harvest gold spray paint. Once the lamps were painted the beige shades looked terrible and I knew that I needed white shades. This idea really goes back to art projects in first grade when I learned about using a pencil to glue pieces of tissue paper to a paper plate cut to look like a wreath.
I folded pieces of white cotton fabric and ironed them into rectangles, then cut them down into squares. The size of the circles you cut out really depends on the look you want. My circles are about 2.5 inches across. No need to trace and carefully cut out the circles unless you want to. Just cutting them close to a circle shape works fine.

I applied a layer of fabric glue to one section at a time.
Then it is time to take a pencil, chopstick, or whatever object you would like and fold a circle over the end like the picture below shows.
Then you take that circle and apply it to an area with glue. You can spread them out to your liking. I placed them fairly close to provide almost complete coverage of the original shade.
You just keep working until you have it finished. It is a slow poke project but not difficult.

My husband seemed to approve of the frills. I finished his lampshade first and he is enjoying that while mine is yet to be ruffled, or he is at least tolerating it for my sake. I think mostly he was happy to have a shade over the bare bulb again!
The lamp looks absolutely beautiful when it is lit!
This would be a great project done with a color or print fabric too. I think they would look especially sweet in a little girl's room or in a nursery.

Posted also as a linky, go check out the party!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Second Recipe in the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Challenge

After Matt tried these cookies he was all smiles. He loves a soft chocolate chip cookie and these did not disappoint. These do not have a crisp exterior like the previous recipe tested, but rather stay soft on both the inside and outside thanks to the secret ingredient. See the recipe below to find out what it is...

This is the recipe that uses PUDDING! You can link to the recipe here. This recipe makes a huge batch of cookies. I cut the ingredients in half and still had more than 3 doz. medium size cookies.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

From Black and Red to Turquoise

This is the dresser that my parents gave me after I said "I can change that". It had a strange red/black stain and lacquer finish that was in bad repair. Please excuse the stack of wood on top. It has been being used as a storage surface for a couple of months.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the piece before I took the sander to it. Too much excitement to change it! Wherever you see those lines on the drawers you need to imagine pieces of aluminum painted to look like shiny brass. Yeah, really ugly!

This was the original hardware. Looks cool in the picture but is actually thin and sharp aluminum. I am hanging on to it; might find the right piece for it later.

Ta Da! Now the piece is a vintage turquoise color with light distressing.

New hardware in a weathered pewter. I'm still looking for some label holders to go above the pulls on the top 4 drawers.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Burlap Covered Lampshade Tutorial

Beachy Burlap Lampshade

I am working on decorating our living room to have a beach cottage feel despite our dry dusty climate. I had my eye on a beautiful seagrass lampshade from a major retailer which is not really unreasonably priced until you start figuring in shipping and handling. I came up with idea to recover my current lampshade for less than $5 and give it a beach feeling (I hope you agree).


-natural colored burlap ( I bought a yard but it really depends on the size of your lampshade, remember the piece will be curved)

-thick hemp cord that has been waxed or finished (I found mine in the jewelry making section at Wal-Mart)

-fabric glue that dries clear

-1 inch wide twill tape or ribbon color of choice. In this tutorial it gets covered.


1. I forgot to take pictures of wrapping the lampshade with burlap. Lay your burlap out flat and lay the lampshade on its side. With a marker trace along the bottom edge while rolling it along. Make sure you go both directions so you have a semi circle looking piece. Trace the top edge as well. Cut the piece out and apply fabric glue to the lampshade adhering the burlap to the shade matching the edges. Where the burlap meets you can fold one edge under or just leave it raw. It is a personal preference. Let that dry.

2. Measure how much twill tape you will need (including 1 inch overlap) for the top and bottom of shade. Fold in half and iron.

3. Using fabric glue attach the twill tape to the top and bottom of the lamp to cover the raw edges of burlap. Use clothespins to hold in place.

4. Measure once around the bottom edge of lampshade and then add half of that measurement on. So if your lampshade was 14 inches on the bottom....14+7=21 inches. Cut 6 pieces of hemp cord to that length. Secure the ends of the hemp with a piece of tape. Braid the hemp together using 2 strands together. Keep the braid flat as you go so it will be easier to attach to the lampshade.

(Great clothespins from Japan, fun and colorful but they also expand at the back)

5. Attach the braid along the bottom of the shade with fabric glue.

When you get to the end cut the braid off so it is even with the other end you started with.

It is going to be a little messy but put a big glob of the fabric glue on and arrange the cords so they look as continuous as possible. Once it dries you won't see the glue.

6. For the top repeat the process. I chose to use 3 strands for the braid but this can be determined by you. Secure it the same way.

The finished product!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First Recipe in the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Challenge

This all goes back to a month ago when I made the cookie recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag in hopes of taking them to some of my neighbors. Unfortunately they turned out terrible looking. They were overly greasy and ended up as flat as the cookie sheet. The chocolate chips looked like they were sprinkled on as an after thought. They were fine for us to eat but there was no way I was giving them to anybody else. I decided that I was going to find a better recipe. For some reason I decided that this was the week to do it. I did some searching on a cooking forum and gathered some recipes to try based on the good reviews they were given.

Recipe #1: Is the Cooks Illustrated recipe for Chewy and Crisp Cookies. Here is a link to the recipe.

Conclusion: They are so good! Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. They are the cookie I've been searching for. Of course there are 3 more recipes to try so we won't declare it the blue ribbon champion yet.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guest Room Additions

I recently bought some beautiful Valori Wells fabric off of etsy to make pillows for the guest room. This fabric is wonderful. It is thicker than quilting cotton but still has a nice soft feel. I never dreamed it would match the paint color so closely.

The second pillow is above with the appropriate envelope closure.

the first pillow was not what I intended but works fine and is actually cute. You won't see the back anyways. It suffered from a lack of good guidance to "measure twice, cut once". I allowed for hem allowance but not any overlap. Oh la!

Free curtain project for the window:

When we bought our bed we were given a free set of sheets that were lacking in sleeping quality for a picky sheet person (me of course). I decided to repurpose the fabric and stitched up some curtains for the very bare window. It is a queen size flat sheet cut in half length-wise and then hemmed along the cut edge. I didn't even bother to hem them to length but just clipped them up there and let them pool slightly on the floor.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

First big project in the new house

Sorry for the long blog absence. We recently moved back to the U.S. from Japan and have been busy getting settled. We were in serious need of some furniture but were not thrilled with how much everything cost. Thanks to the incredibly talented Ana over at we were able to build this entire office storage wall for less than $600!

We did modify the plans slightly to use the wall space that we had available. Our piece is 8 ft. wide and 6 ' 3" tall. The bottom left is a shelf unit and the bottom right is 4 file drawers.
As you can see this has become Matt's "man" wall. He did need one space in the house to call his own ;)
The plans are very good over at Ana's sight, but it was quite a challenge and took more time than we expected. We are really pleased with how well it turned out.