Friday, November 30, 2012

Shanghai Peacock

We have a new addition to the upholstered kitchen bench I made last spring (see its stages here, here, and here)...this little rectangular pillow covered in Schumacher's gorgeous Shanghai Peacock fabric.

I first spotted it on Danielle's blog the beginning of this month and pretty much knew instantly it was the pop of color I wanted for the bench.  You see, there's been a little shift happening in my kitchen these last several months as I've brought in more neutral colors, and I've been loving all the soft grey accents on the console table, this ikat bench, the hand-painted pillows, and the new drapes (photos to come soon!) with the antique white cabinets and beige marbled floor tiles.  However...things suddenly felt a little too neutral.

The rich teal and warm red colors in the Schumacher fabric work really beautifully with the grey.  I have a few other small bits of red in the kitchen (my stand mixer and teapot) and the runner I usually use on the kitchen table is aqua so this fabric really pulled it all together.

I ordered the pillow from Bell and Whistle on Etsy (Schumacher fabrics are only available to the trade so I couldn't order the fabric and make this myself).  Melissa, the owner of the shop, was so easy to work with and made this custom size for me and shipped it out super quickly.  The quality is great and I couldn't be happier.

I'm thinking of painting the gilded console table in here teal now but I'll wait until I share pictures of the new drapes to get your take on that.  I have a feeling it'll be one of those things I'll either love or hate right away so the question is whether to take the leap or leave it as it is.
Hope you have a great weekend!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Barn Star

We received this dark-red metal star several years ago now as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.  It definitely has a country vibe but, I think, in a very cool way that's not over-the-top.  My town and my house are a little bit country too though so it fits right in with us.

You see them all over the place here in New England, often outdoors mounted on houses or barns.  Which got me wondering about their significance.  According to eHow, "the barn star traces back to the German farming community in the 1700s.  These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction."

I also learned that in Pennsylvania, where I'm from, they represent good fortune.  Given their German roots, I have a feeling they're connected to the Amish community, which isn't part of my PA heritage.  But, hey, good fortune...I'll take it!

I loved the barn star as soon as we got it and it has lived the past several years very happily on the wall in my kitchen.  With the addition of new drapes, however (which I will photograph soon to share), the star got bumped.  Luckily, I had the perfect spot for it in our living room.

This little spot above a side chair has been bare and begging for something for years.

There are touches of red throughout the room so it works perfectly.

The accent chair (its twin sits across the room from it) are extras from our original dining room.  The full upholstery was too stressful for me with food always dropping so we've repurposed two of them as extra seating here in the living room and the other two are our desk chairs.  

I've been thinking of adding casters (wheels) to the legs of the office chairs to make for easy moving in and out at our desks...but that's another post.
The barn star traces back to the German farming community in the 1700s. These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction.

Read more: The Meaning of the Decorative Star on Homes |
The barn star traces back to the German farming community in the 1700s. These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction.

Read more: The Meaning of the Decorative Star on Homes |
The barn star traces back to the German farming community in the 1700s. These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction.

Read more: The Meaning of the Decorative Star on Homes |
The barn star traces back to the German farming community in the 1700s. These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction.

Read more: The Meaning of the Decorative Star on Homes |
The barn star traces back to the German farming community in the 1700s. These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction.

Read more: The Meaning of the Decorative Star on Homes |
The barn star traces back to the German farming community in the 1700s. These stars were originally placed to cover the ends of the beams in barn construction.

Read more: The Meaning of the Decorative Star on Homes |

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas List for Kiddies

Both my daughters' birthdays are in December so mash that together with Christmas gifts and I'm feeling a bit gift-buying overstimulated about now.

Yesterday I shared some of my Christmas gift wishes and today I thought I'd share some of the things I've gotten for Ada and Ellie this year.

I did a lot of toy-gawking at Magic Beans, which is a fantastic kids' store local to the Boston area, but they have a great website as well and ship anywhere (for free if you spend $75 or more).  Their online gift guides are so helpful and I love that you can narrow down results by the age of the child you're looking for.

Some of the items that I linked below to Magic Beans I actually bought on Amazon because they were cheaper there but I think Magic Beans' product descriptions are really detailed and useful.

For our two year old this year:

They wet erase on a chalkboard and have no dust.  You read that dust!

Ybike Glider- Deluxe Scooter
This one is perfect for a still-sometimes-wobbly toddler.

For whatever reason, Ellie has become obsessed (obsessed) with this doll, which she spotted a couple months ago at one of her sister's friend's houses.  I've never seen her attach to a doll so quickly and decisively.

Lots of doodling fun, no supervision needed because it paints with water.  

Puzzle-ish game that helps with color and shape recognition.

Legos were always my favorite toy and these look like a great starter set.  Plus they can double as food props when we play restaurant.

Four our four year old this year:

Crayola Blunt Tip Scissors (Colors May Vary)
These ones actually cut paper...the ones we have now, not so much.

Kickboard USA Mini Kick Scooter
A slightly older version geared toward preschoolers.

Ada wants a bow and arrow this year and is certain Santa will be delivering them.  At least we will all be well protected. 

This one has some educational value and helps teach number concepts.  Ada played with it at a friend's house and hasn't stopped talking about it since.

Mostly works on developing fine motor skills but the octopus giggles when its arms touch you, which I think Ada will get a big kick out of.

Spot It Junior
A fast-paced variation on a matching game.

Hope this gives you some ideas for the little people on your list this year!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Wish List

Today, I thought I'd share a little roundup of some things I'm hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year.  After the hype surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday it feels as though we should all be done with our holiday shopping by now, just five days after Thanksgiving.  Yikes!  I'm not there yet, but am on my way.

In the meantime, here are some of the things I'm hoping make their way into boxes with my name on them!

I think this would be a great fall/winter blazer.  It has the potential to look ultra conservative but I love the way it's styled here with a denim shirt and funky pants.

On a more practical jacket note, I have a feeling this jacket would see a lot of action.  It's both lightweight and really warm and would be the perfect casual throw-on piece.  And with the weather being what it is here in Boston, I'd probably be able to wear it September - April.

Western denim shirt
I'm not a big fan of the blue denim on blue denim look but I can see this shirt going with just about every other casual piece in my wardrobe.

Sidewinder Necklace
I've been eyeing this necklace for awhile.  It's very delicate and would be great on its own or layered with other necklaces.

I love white dishware and a set of these mugs (or any of the everyday white mugs from Williams-Sonoma) would be a very welcome addition to my kitchen.

Nikon 50mm F/1.8: Picture 1 regular
50 mm camera lens
I've become convinced that I need this lens for my camera.  It's especially great for getting that blurred background look (which I think is called "bokeh" in photography-speak).  And while most lenses will set you back at least several hundred dollars, this only runs about $100.

Vintage jewelry stand
 Great for bangles and long necklaces

Gold bangles
Speaking of bangles, I love this set of three.

Rotating Pad Sander
 And in stark contrast to pretty much everything else on this page, I really hope a new pad sander finds its way to me this Christmas.  I've felt a little bit crippled since mine died a couple months ago.

What are you crossing your fingers for this year?  Pad sander, anyone?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Whole Grain Cornbread

We arrived back home yesterday afternoon after a great Thanksgiving visit with my in-laws.  I hadn't expected to take most of last week off from blogging but was met with a lack of internet access when we arrived in New Hampshire so I pretty much unplugged from from last Wednesday until today.  I did have my iPad with me but couldn't get Blogger to function quite right on it.  Anyone have some tips on writing and editing posts while using Blogger on an iPad??  The main issue was I couldn't scroll down once I got into post editing.

Anyhow, as promised in last Tuesday's recipe for chicken chili, here is my favorite chili accompaniment - homemade whole grain cornbread.  It is so, so easy.  And there is nothing quite so wonderful as warm bread fresh from the oven.  A bread like this needs no special equipment, finesse, or time to rise.  You just mix up the ingredients, pour the batter into a pan, and a very short time later you will have crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside, hearty, satisfying, fresh cornbread.

I've never liked sugary sweet cornbread that tastes more like dessert than bread and this version is only very lightly sweet.  For a little pop of color and flavor, some chopped scallions or chives tossed into the mix would be great.

Whole Grain Cornbread
1 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cold butter
1 c. milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425º.

Mix cornmeal, flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut butter into cubes and work into the cornmeal mix with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse meal.

Whisk milk and egg in a measuring cup or small bowl.  Pour over cornmeal and butter mixture and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.  The batter should be quite lumpy.

Grease a square glass baking dish with butter, refined coconut oil, or shortening (I use an organic, non-hydrogenated shortening).  Pour batter into prepared dish.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until cornbread is lightly browned at the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool a bit and serve.

Click here for a printable recipe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicken Chili with Black Beans and Bell Peppers

This chicken chili has been a family favorite for several years now.  It's based on the Barefoot Contessa Chicken Chili here with just a few small changes.

It's great comfort food - hearty, rich, and warm - but still manages to be light, fresh, and healthy.  I like to top it with a little shredded sharp cheddar and some diced avocado.  Whole grain cornbread is the perfect accompaniment (recipe coming tomorrow!).

If you are hung with turkey leftovers come Friday, this would work beautifully as turkey chili with the extra meat.

Chicken Chili with Black Beans and Bell Peppers

4 c. yellow onions (3 onions), chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
2 (28 oz.) cans whole tomatoes in puree, undrained
4 large boneless chicken breasts or leftover shredded meat from a roast chicken or roast turkey
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
diced avocado

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, 10-15 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the peppers, black beans, chili powder, cumin, and salt.  Crush the tomatoes by hand or with a potato masher.  Add to the pot and stir gently to incorporate all ingredients.  If using leftover chicken or turkey, add the meat to the pot here.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If using chicken breasts, continue reading.  If using leftover meat, you are finished!

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast 35-40 minutes, until just cooked.  Let cool slightly.  Shred the meat.  Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.

Serve with shredded cheddar and avocado.

Click here for a printable recipe.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Etsy, Apartment Therapy, and Curbly

The end of last week I did something I've been thinking about for awhile now...I opened an Etsy shop!  Which, I realize, makes me about the millionth person to do so but I'm still really excited about it.

The shop is called Adele Bridgman after my daughters - Ada + Elle = Adele.

Right now I have exactly one item in the shop - the child-sized rocking chair I reupolstered a few months ago.


In the coming weeks and months, my plan is to offer smaller furniture I build or refurbish as well as custom items.  I'll likely offer custom x-leg benches and child-sized upholstered chairs as my earliest items.  I may also include larger upholstered items, like this bench, but will probably make those available for local pickup only in the Boston or Philadelphia areas because of the size.

So, for now, if you're looking for a unique gift for a baby or toddler, this chair is really lovely and you can find it for sale at Adele Bridgman on Etsy.  I've also added a "Shop" tab to the top of my blog so you connect to my Etsy shop from there.  I've struggled with letting this chair go...but it's time.  I always intended to sell it.  And a side note - this fabric has been discontinued so it truly will be a one-of-a-kind piece.

While I'm still getting additional items up and running on Etsy, send me a note if you're interested in having a custom piece made.  I'd love to build you something perfect for a space in your home. 

In other news, I found out last week that the upholstered headboards I made were featured on Apartment Therapy!  

It was such a fun surprise to see them featured and read the article.  You can read the whole piece here.

My upholstered x-leg benches were also featured on Curbly recently.

You can find that feature here

Thanks to both of these sites for the nice features!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Date, Salami, and Robusto Cheese Mini Skewers

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you've probably gathered that I don't really mind cooking.  I might even like it.  And I especially love eating the products of my labors!

This appetizer, however, requires no cooking whatsoever.  And even though I like to cook, making something like this is awfully nice every now and again.  It's simple, it's easy, it requires no special skills or equipment (unless you count toothpicks as "equipment").  And the taste is stellar.  But then you might recall I mentioned my affinity for all things sweet-and-salty on Wednesday.

I'd recommend sticking with the dates as the fruit here - they are the perfect amount of sweet and chewy to go with the meat and cheese - but for the other pieces use whatever you like best.  Any salty meat will do beautifully and a rich, nutty cheese like parmesan or aged gouda would be a great substitute for the robusto if you can't get it (I buy it at Whole Foods).

These make a perfect cocktail party snack since they can be eaten in one bite and don't require anyone to hold a plate.  They're also great for dinner parties where you want to have something small out for guests to nibble on before dinner.  Or why not give it a try next week as a pre-Thanksgiving dinner nibble?

There's no real recipe to follow here - just thread half a date, a folded slice (or half slice) of salami, and a small cube of cheese onto a toothpick.  Pile them onto a platter and watch them disappear!

 Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cane Chair Reborn

If it is possible to be truly, madly, and deeply in love with a piece of furniture, then lovebugs, I'm here to tell you that I have met my soulmate and we're running away together.

I spotted this cane chair while thrifting a couple months ago and despite its shoddy appearance I was immediately drawn to it.

The biggest score and the reason I brought it home was that the caning was almost perfectly intact.  There were a few small tears but nothing very major or noticeable other than the finish having worn off.

I sanded down the wood by hand, and only to rough it up and get the shine off the original finish.  I did not sand any part of the caning.

Then I started ripping off the oddly attached, stained velour cover, which gave off the distinct smell of wet dog. 

Underneath the velour I found the sorry remains of the original silk upholstery.

I had been hoping I'd be able to reuse the foam and wrapping but it was turning to dust so I removed it all, down to the burlap and springs, and decided to start the upholstery job from scratch.

At this point I gave the chair two careful coats of Rustoleum semi-gloss spray paint in black.  Hand brushing black paint may have worked too but I was worried about how it would go on the caned parts and the spray paint worked beautifully.

At about this point I realized that I was falling in love and my original plans to sell this finished chair quickly started to slip away.  I mean when you know, you know.  You know?

I cut 2" thick foam to fit the shape of the seat as best I could and lay it in place.

Then I wrapped batting snugly around the foam and stapled it to the frame.

I had originally intended to make welting for the edges of the upholstery but I loved the look of brass nailheads against the black and white fabric I'd chosen (and used on this bench, which I am selling), so I decided to go for the brass on black look here as well.  The chair had a channel that the original welting was pushed into, so I used this same channel to guide the placement of my nailheads.

This step was time consuming and tedious and it would have been much easier to punch in a few staples and cover it up with welting.  But I love the brass nailheads so much and am really glad I took the extra time to tack them all in.  I've said it before, but high quality nailheads make a tremendous difference.  These came from DIY Upholstery Supply.

To cover up the fabric edges around the legs I made double welting (Mom...are you reading this??  I made welting!) by following Jenny's easy instructions.

It was my first time making welting and it's not perfect but it looks great in place on the chair.  I used hot glue to attach it.

And with that step complete, the rebirth of this chair was done.  Shall I tell you what I love most about her?

The substantial yet elegant flare of the arms...

...the traditional carved legs...

...the inviting round curve of the back.

This chair will be moving into our upstairs hallway next to a vintage/antique (I don't know the difference!) beadboard bookshelf that is next up for a paint makeover.  As soon as I have the bookshelf finished I'll share photos of the chair and shelf together.

But for now, here's a straight on shot of my love. 

And another one of my cute model :)