These aren’t resolutions. Really.

After my not so stellar attempt at resolutions in 2012 I vowed I wasn’t going to make that same mistake again. Nope – I wasn’t going to make any sort of resolution or list or mental note or anything related to things I wanted to get done in 2013. And then I got an email on January 2nd.

Apparently sometime in December Apartment Therapy posted that they would be running what they’re calling the January Cure, and I signed up. With statements like: ‘If you are ready to whip your home into shape, get it clean, organized and under control, we’re here to help – let’s do it together! … we’ll send you emails from January 2 through February 1, giving you all the info you need to know to follow along, stay motivated and complete your assignments. By the end of January, you’ll be sitting pretty in a clean, fresh, organized home’ can you really blame me? I mean who doesn’t want to live in a clean and organised home? I certainly do.

Anyways, I signed up and then kinda forgot about it, that is until I got my first email about it on January 2nd. The task? Make a list of the things in each of the rooms in your home that you want to change. Drat. My not-making-any-resolutions-or-lists-in-2013 vow lasted about 30hrs into the New Year. Oh well. I’m a glutton for punishment so I made my list of things I wanted to change in each of the rooms in my home, and unsurprisingly discovered that quite a number of them are the same as what was on my list from last year. What’s a little different this time is I was supposed to keep the number of to-do items per room to 3-5 which forces you to prioritise what’s most important – the changes that will make the most impact. Here’s my list:

Foyer

  • Organise front hall closet
  • Organise linen closet
  • Change overhead light
  • Add a rug

Bedroom

  • Organise closet
  • Add window coverings
  • Get two matching bedside tables
  • Paint the walls

Bathroom

  • Organise medicine cabinet and under the sink
  • Replace the shower curtain rings

Living room

  • Organise the bookshelf and media cabinet
  • Add more lighting
  • Get some more storage
  • Add window coverings
  • Paint the walls

Kitchen

  • Organise my cabinets – make better use of limited space
  • Paint the ceiling
  • Update the lighting
  • Remove the weird (ugly) wall organiser

Dining Room

  • Repair walls and paint
  • Get more storage
  • Add window coverings
  • Change the overhead light

Its funny that when you only list 3-5 things per room the list seems rather manageable even though some of the things will be big jobs (I’m looking at you dining room walls). You probably noticed that the first thing for almost all the rooms is to organise. I’ve got so much stuff that isn’t organised in any particular way (Er, I guess that  means it’s disorganised) that I can’t find anything (my tape measure for example).

If you’d like to join Apartment Therapy’s January Cure you can click here, and in case you want to know what you’re getting yourself in for, here’s a schedule of everything you’ll be asked to do.

PS – Yesterday’s task was to create an ‘outbox’. Mine’s done, and I’m hoping it will soon be overflowing.

Apartment Therapy's January Cure - Day 2 - complete

Apartment Therapy’s January Cure – Day 2 – complete

Almond Cream Puffs

With Christmas just a few days away I thought I’d share a go-to dessert recipe from our family. I have no idea where my mom got the recipe, but I do know that it’s an easy dessert that always has people asking for more. If you’ve been asked to bring dessert to a gathering this holiday season, and you’re looking for something easy that looks like you spent hours in the kitchen this is the recipe for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Almond Cream (see below)
  • Chocolate Glaze (see below)

Directions

  1. In a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat, heat the water, butter and salt until the butter melts and the mixture boils. Remove from heat. With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in the flour all at once until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the side of the saucepan.
  2. Add the eggs to the flour mixture one at a time, beating after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Cool mixture slightly.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400F. lightly grease and flour a large baking sheet. Using tablespoons drop batter into about 10-12 even mounds on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake the batter for about 40 minutes until golden brown. Turn off the oven, and let the puffs remain in the over for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the puffs from the over, and cool on a wire rack.
  5. When the puffs are cool, using a long serrated knife, slice horizontally in half. Prepare the Almond-cream filling and spoon into the bottom of the puffs. Replace the top of the puffs. Refrigerate.
  6. Prepare chocolate glaze. Spoon Glaze over top of puffs.

Almond Cream Filling

Prepare one package of vanilla flavoured instant pudding as the label directs, but use only 1 1/4 cups of milk. Once it’s set, fold in 1 cup of heavy or whipping (35%) cream, whipped, and 1tsp of almond extract.

Chocolate Glaze

In a heavy double boiler, over hot, not boiling water, heat 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces with 1 tbsp. butter, 1 1/2 tsp. milk, and 1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup. Stir occasionally until smooth.

This recipe makes about 10-12 puffs. While the recipe recommends you start about 3 hours before serving, I’ve made the puffs the night before, and then stored them in a air-tight container overnight. I would recommend you allow the puffs to set in a refrigerator for a about an hour before you transport them anywhere. Serve at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy these almond cream puffs as much as my family does.

Linked to: The Shabby Nest, Chic on a  Shoestring, Beyond the Picket Fence, Fingerprints on the Fridge, {Primp}

I’m ‘Sew’ excited

For my birthday in March of this year, my wonderful aunt and uncle J+ M sent me a little something in the mail so I might get myself something I really wanted. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted – do I buy clothes, or shoes, or a cute piece of jewellery that in all honesty I’ll hardly ever wear ‘cause I never remember to put jewellery on in the morning? (Think I’m exaggerating? – If you looked at any picture of me I’m most likely wearing the same three pieces of jewellery – a watch, pearl stud earrings, and my right-hand ring. It very rarely changes). In the end I settled on something a little more pedestrian, but hopefully long-lasting. I bought myself this: That’s right – a sewing machine. I’ve wanted one for quite a while. In ancient times when I lived in Ottawa I had custody of my mom’s sewing machine, and I made a few things – some tablecloths, two duvet covers with matching pillow cases, and a lovely roman shade. Years passed, and I moved back to Toronto, and then my parents sold my childhood home(sob!) and moved out west, and my mom took her sewing machine with her.

Since then I rarely thought of sewing, that is until I started reading blogs, and seeing all the lovely things people were whipping up in no time with the help of a sewing machine. Be it table cloths, napkins or curtains, the blogosphere is full of wonderful projects, and I want in on the fun (provided of course that the fun only requires stitching a straight line). Okay – I’ll be honest – I dream of one day actually sewing some window coverings which are sadly lacking in my little abode.

Anyways, I bought my little machine, and then it sat unopened in a corner while I tried to come up with a good first project. Preferably an easy one that wouldn’t take too much time, and only required the sewing of straight lines – it’s been a long time since I used a machine at all, and even longer since my last lessons on how to sew in grade 8 home economics.

Enter a closing Fabricland store having a 50% off sale. In all honesty I went in hopes of finding some fabric to make some curtains for my living room or bedroom, but as usually happens I didn’t find anything that screamed ‘make me into curtains’. I did however find some  lovely tea towel fabric which practically jumped up and ran into my arms.

The beauty of buying tea towel fabric is it’s already hemmed on the sides, which means I only had to do two seams on each towel – perfect for a first project, and also a sewer who is LAZY! They had 4 colours, but the red one had some issues with the dye being all over the fabric instead of in the smart stripes down the sides, so I just bought the green, blue and yellow. I won’t bore you with a step by step how to – suffice it to say I folded over the ends twice, pinned, and then made a valiant attempt at sewing a straight line. I was somewhat successful. As I had bought enough to make 2 towels in each colour, I did that 12 times, and voilà – the finished product. Now that I’ve got my first project under my belt I have to start looking for some more. In the meantime I’ll also have to consider getting an actual pincushion, because while my solution worked, it’s not the most efficient as I’ll eventually need to wear those socks. Hey – maybe I can sew one! Anyone have any good pincushion projects they’d care to share?

Update your Kitchen Hardware in 5 Easy Steps

Changing door hardware is one of the easiest ways to update a kitchen, or a piece of furniture. If you’re lucky your new hardware will be the same size as your old, so there will be no extra work involved, but on occasion your new pulls or handles may require you to break out your drill.

When I recently updated my kitchen hardware I needed to use my drill and I thought I’d share what worked for me in case you’d love to update yours, but have been a little scared to try given you have to drill holes in your kitchen cabinets!

Tools you’ll need:

  • Drill
  • Drill bit that is the size of your screw
  • Drill template (I used one from Ikea, but Home Depot, etc will carry them)
  • Masking tape
  • Sharpie

Steps

  1. Determine where you want your handles to go on your cabinets, and match that location to the holes on the drill template. Mark the holes you’ll use for your new handles on the template  – I used a marker, but tape would work as well.
  2. My cabinets are glossy and I worried that the drill bit would be prone to sliding on the slick cabinet surface once I started drilling. To combat this I stuck a strip of masking tape to the cabinet where I was going to drill. This helped slow any lateral movement, and also made it easily visible if the bit was shifting so I could stop and correct it before I went too far.

  3. Use the drill template to mark where your holes will go. I used a sharpie as I was marking the masking tape I applied in the earlier step. You could also use a pencil if you aren’t using the tape and didn’t want to risk a permanent mark.
  4. Start drilling. I’ll be honest – this part was scary. I started on the cabinet that is the least noticeable in case I goofed. Start slowly and make sure the bit doesn’t drift off your mark. Once the hole has gotten started you can speed up a bit.
  5. Remove the making tape and attach your new hardware.

I did one door from start to finish at a time. I did this in case there was a problem it would mean I’d only ruined one door. The process for drawers is a little different, but the steps above will work – you’ll need to find the center of the drawer (measure twice to make sure) and mark your drill holes accordingly.

Have you ever drilled holes in your kitchen cabinets? Were you as scared as I was to try it?

Linked To: {aka} Design, Chic on a Shoestring, The Shabby Nest, Polish the Stars, Coastal Charm, The Kurtz Corner, DIY by Design, Savvy Southern Style, {Primp}, Handy Man, Crafty Woman, Beyond the Picket Fence