Green Hydrangea & Poinsettia Wreath

Wow.  Where has time gone!  

It's interesting having our "first" holidays in our new house.  I thought I had a lot of holiday decorations, but now with more space to decorate, I realize that I'm kinda lacking.  I came across Vanessa's (from V & Co.) wreath tutorial, and having just taken down my door wreath and needing something new, I made my own.  I love it!

I was feeling green.  I think blue and green might be my favorite colors.  And green wreaths just feel more alive to me.  (If you can ever say that about fake flowers.)

Go to her tutorial and using your Joann's coupons (I know I just got some more in the mail), go buy yourself to fake flowers!  I think I want some more hydrangeas to fill in mine some more.

Chenille Burp Cloths

If you want some perfect burp cloths, this is how you should make them!  Nothing soaks up baby puke quite the same way as these chenille cloths.

A friend made me some of these when Baby S was recently born and I have loved them.  (thanks Lisa!)  When someone asked if I sold any burp cloths, these are immediately what I thought of.  The originals were chenille on one side and home decor fabric on the other.  The only problem I found with that combo is the selection of boyish patterns in the home decor section.  I decided to use regular weight fabric and they turned out great.  At least I think so.  :)
 I love that they are cheery, yet soft.  When I saw this fabric and Joanns, I couldn't pass it up.
 So so soft.  I would happily cuddle into this myself.
If you want to make these for your baby, a friend, or yourself :), here are the dimensions.  I cut 12x18 pieces of fabric, sewed wrong sides together (leaving a gap to turn them right side out), turned them right side out, sewed edges, and done.

P.S. You might see this same fabric as bow tie onsies...stay tuned because today I'm hosting a Bow Tie Babyshower!  It is going to be fun.  I can't wait to show you.

Transformation: Coffee Table

I found the perfect coffee table!  Best part is that it was already in our house and just needed a transformation.  Free and free.  Yes, please.
I had painted a different coffee table and didn't like it for several reasons: 1) it wasn't the right shape (it was oval) for our room and 2) the paint remained sticky on the top.  I was going to sand the top and try again, but it wasn't worth it if I didn't like the shape.  I am going to sand it down on the top and sell it on craigslist.  I could give a half project to someone...we'll see.

So you might recognize our coffee table as our previous yellow desk.  It was a great color.  The desk was peppy and served a good purpose.  Only problem is that my hubs really needed a place to work and I was a desk hog.  We have our new desk(s) in place and I'll show them to you soon.  (yea!)

With the yellow desk no longer in service, I didn't want to get rid of it.  It's old, it doesn't stink (like so many old pieces of furniture), and has great character.  

Welcome coffee table.  We cut off the legs so the total height of the desk would be 18" and I repainted it dark gray (Sherwin Williams "Backdrop" - if you really want to know).  Yes, this is now the 4th color it's been adds personality.

What it looked like before:

Mulligatawny Soup

Make today a soup day...and make this!  You can look up the name mulligatawny on wikipedia to see a brief definition.  Basically, it's a curry soup.  Sometimes I'm skeptical of curry flavored meals.  I love my curry chicken, but I'm not so sure of curry salad.  Anyway, this soup is to die for.

You can find the recipe for Mulligatawny Soup at allrecipes.
Notes on the recipe:
I was making it for a crowd, so I 2 1/2 the recipe.  I probably ended up with about 10 cups chicken stock (water with bullion) and 3/4 cup rice.  I doubled all other ingredients.

In addition to adding about 1 1/2 Tbsp curry I also added 1 1/2 Tbsp garam masala.  I would eat this soup for all three meals in a day.  It was that good.

Floating Mantel

I have seen so many floating mantels on hgtv, on blogs, everywhere.  Our fireplace wall needed some omph and I really wanted a rough hewn mantel to give it more of a presence in the room.  I found a great tutorial from Addicted 2 Decorating.  Anyone can do this!
I am now figuring out how to decorate it.  So if you have any good ideas, let me know or send me links.

If you want to know some details of how we did this, here you go!

We used 3 boards for the bulk of the project.  We got 1 extra long to have extra scraps for the ends of the mantel.

We banged the boards with hammers, screw drivers, and pliers.  Then I stained them with dark walnut stain.  After that dried, I put on a coat of poly to seal it.  I could have done more coats, but I wanted it to remain more "rough."

With the boards dry, we hooked 2 together with 3 L brackets.

Since it's impossible to use a power drill in the narrow space, we attached the L brackets on the other side first.

This included the end brackets to brace the ends.  Make sure to measure in the right distance for these ones.

We had to attach a bracket to the 2 boards already connected for the end pieces as well.

This is what the boards looked like screwed together.  Since we had connected the L brackets on the single piece, we just had to drill down to connect it to the bottom piece.

This is slightly fuzzy, but it's showing the end brackets waiting for the end pieces to attach to them.

And the Hubs continued his muscle-strength show and screwed those on.  I kinda like him.

So we didn't do a bracket for the bottom edge, but should have.  This was an easy solution using a screw to keep it from wiggling.
We had the kids write all over the inside of the "snake coffin" (it really did look like that) and then we took it inside.  

I totally forgot to take pictures of our wall during the mounting process.  We had no nice supports waiting for us to easily attach our mantel to the wall.

SO...finding the studs, we attached our own 2x4 about 4 feet long.  (Measuring the right place to put this is really important).  We drilled 2 long L brackets onto the 2x4 so the top of the mantel would have some support once it was in place.  (Am I making sense?)  

We lifted our "snake coffin," set it onto the 2x4, the L brackets resting on the inside top of the mantel, and drilled from the top of the mantel into the 2x4.  

Wow, I don't know if that made sense to you all.  But it's secure and I love it.

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Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Salad for breakfast?  What!?  Yes, that is what I had this morning.  It might have been inspired by Born to Run, my new favorite book.
Buy it here

I don't care if you think you're a runner, or your horrible at running, or you hate running, or you can't run because of medical stuff, this is worth the read.  It will motivate you to get moving, no matter how you get that done.  

I've always loved running and now have a new passion for it after finishing this book.  It's good because it teaches a different form to running than I ran before.  Rather than heel-toe running, concentrate on landing on the ball of your feet.  Seriously, big difference in form, in pain, and in your calves.  

So, yes, I ate salad this morning for breakfast.  I know my mom will be telling me that I should have eaten several eggs and meat for breakfast, all about the early protein, but salad actually sounded really good.  A variety in meals is always more exciting anyway.

I gave you the Cilantro Lime Ranch recipe earlier, here's another good one to add to your books.  It is sweet, but a good combo with any salad.
Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing
from Amy Bell (she's a pretty cool friend)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Mix all the ingredients together and chill.

I put this dressing over a mix of lettuce/spinach with diced tomato, red pepper, and pear.  Delicious!

Love Hearts

It has been a closet cleaning, picture hanging, finish painting kind of week...well, the last couple weeks.  I have some good projects to show you (really, I just want to brag because I think they look pretty good...humor me...isn't that part of why we all blog anyway?).

So for the first one!

I was watching Emily Henderson on HGTV.  She is amazing!  She has a fun sense of style and I love how she defines every couple's unique style.  In her "style diagnosis" she has little tiny chairs, belts, vases, cups, you name it.  The clients have to choose their style and then she reveals to them their unique combined style name.

I was watching the "Eclectic Artsy Odyssey" episode.  On her personal blog she breaks down the episode and tells you where she found her decor and any other little secrets about the episode.

In this episode she had some cute little hearts with personalized names all framed and so cool!  I wanted some.
image via Emily Henderson

After looking at her blog I found that she purchased the picture from an etsy store Sarah & Bendrix.  They have some very fun things and I would have bought something from them, but I happened to have a good shadow box on hand.  The call of the wild came and I began punching hearts.

I did have to make a quick trip to Joann Fabrics with my most recent coupons and grab a small heart punch.  Then I folded them all in half, decided the area I wanted the hearts in, where to place all our names, and got to work with some glue and steady hands.

And now I have this on my new gallery wall in the office!  I have yet to fill some of the other frames (like the sideways picture you see to the right), but we're getting there.  Have a fabulous Halloween!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Why haven't I ever thought of this before!?

I had some leftover pumpkin in the fridge.  That, with a desire to make something interesting, became pumpkin pancakes!
I added chocolate chips to some and they are good to eat all by themselves.  Think flat pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

For those children in my family who don't like chocolate chips in their pancakes (what?), I made them clean.  But then that child topped it with nutella anyway.  I don't get it?  But both ways are fantastic.

These are the ingredients I used.  I made enough pancakes for 4 of us, put in about 1/2 - 3/4 cup scoop of pumpkin, spiced it up with a little nutmeg and generous cinnamon shakes.  I added a cinnamon and sugar for sweetness.  I wanted them tasty enough to eat without topping with butter (or nutella).  I might have made these yesterday for lunch and this morning for breakfast...  No milk for cereal calls for desperate measures (if you call this desperate).  Enjoy!

S'mores Cookies

These are very addictive...just warning you.  Crackers, chocolate, and marshmallow transformed to cookie shape could never be bad!  You make the cookies with chocolate bar pieces (I used the large Hershey's bar, one large chocolate rectangle per cookie) and then after the cookie is baked, stick the marshmallows on top and broil for a couple minutes.  

I actually burned the marshmallows on the 2nd batch when I was broiling them.  But surprise was even better!  I didn't think it was possible, but the just over-browned marshmallows made them taste like they actually saw a campfire.  I will be doing that on purpose next time!

Here's the link for the recipe from Martha Stewart.  Enjoy!
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White Bean Chicken Chili

I was wandering Winco one evening (kidless grocery shopping is heavenly!) and meandered past the magazine isle.  I couldn't resist standing there looking through some food recipes.  I found one I had to try, but didn't want to buy the whole magazine.  Enter scrap paper from bottom of my bag.

I stood between the soft tortilla shells and magazines and wrote out the recipe.  Think what you like other shoppers, I'm going to eat some good food!  And it was.

Tonight was a rainy overcast day.  Not totally cold, but perfect to accompany a warm chili soup.  I've had other versions of this using canned green chilies...this was better!  The jalapeno was not too spicy (my 5-year-old liked it) and it tasted fresh with the cilantro and poblanos.  I probably could have added another lime to make it even better.
White Bean Chicken Chili
(from? I totally forgot to write down which magazine it was)

2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
4 garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups chicken (I used a rotisserie), chopped
1/4 cup lime juice, from 2 limes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

Add oil to pan, when hot, saute onions and peppers until soft, 6-8 minutes.  Add garlic and cumin for 30 seconds.  Stir in beans and broth.  

Remove 3 cups bean mixture and puree in blender until smooth.  Stir back into pot and heat for 10 minutes.

Stir in chicken, lime, cilantro, salt, and pepper.  Heat through and serve.  Garnish with sour cream and grated cheese.

Cold Cucumber Soup

Mommy lunch parties are so fun!  I need to start this at my own place.  So here's how it goes: you invite other moms, with their kids, to lunch.  Easy, right?  Then you make some really good food for the moms and something easy for the kids to eat.  It feels slightly fancy and like you are letting yourself indulge in something worthwhile.  

I was invited to a lunch party and was served cold cucumber soup, caprese sandwich (with mayo and balsamic vinegar mixed together for a dressing...yum!), and pavlova for dessert.  Holy heaven!  

I had never had a cold soup and I think it might be wrong to call it a soup.  Soup makes me think of something warm and chunky.  So when you make it, think maybe chunky yogurt (that sounds gross)...okay, maybe...I don't know.  

I do think it's best in a small bowl and served with a sandwich.  It's the type of thing that you could eat several bites alone and then it tastes better almost as a sauce on something.  Totally worth trying.  I love the fresh herbs and crispness of the flavor. 
Cold Cucumber Soup
From Alisha

1 cup yogurt, can add a little sour cream too
Fresh Basil, chopped (add more of this than mint)
Fresh Mint, chopped
Green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp - 1/4 cup Lemon juice
1/2 - 1 cup Water
2 cucumbers, seeded and rough chopped
Sour cream or cucumber to garnish

Using a blender, mix all your ingredients together.  Add less herbs at first and then add more to taste, same with the lemon juice.  Blend so there are still chunks of little cucumbers in the soup.  Garnish and enjoy in a small bowl as a side.

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken, I grilled mine myself (favorite seasonings: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder)
Grapes, sliced in half
Green onions
Apples, diced
Red Pepper, diced (any sweet peppers)
Salted Cashews
Cucumber, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix these together in the amounts that suit your fancy.  Croissants make everything better!  This is one of my favorite sandwiches.

And this is proof that I really have been up to some home decor projects...I'll be excited to do a reveal!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

My husband doesn't cook.  He makes a mean mac and cheese, but that's about it.  I'm all the happier because that means my experimenting has free range!  

When I think a recipe looks good and attempt to tell him about the ingredients, his eyes glaze over and he says something like, "sounds good?"  It's about the same way when he tells me about work with computer chips.  So we have our own niches, it's a good thing.

ANYWAY, he was actually the one who saw these and sent me a message that we had to make them.  Correction, I had to make them.  They've graced our kitchen twice now, one of those times was last night.  

Thanks to book club (we read Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - I loved it) that I hosted, I now have a pan full of these.  There may be some unsuspecting people that might get a little treat today...I know I shouldn't have these sitting around!

Go to Sweet Pea's Kitchen for the recipe.  She has some amazing recipes, including more unique brownie recipes.  

P.S. I promise I'll be doing a give-away...I decided to paint my whole house, my oldest started Kindergarten, and my baby decided he wanted to be held all the time.  We're going through adjustments here.  I'm attempting running this morning, as soon as baby wakes up, and I might try my first zumba class tomorrow.  I've heard it's a blast!  Have a fabulous weekend and I hope you get to work-out too!

Pudding Biscuits: Camping Food

What's better than a campfire in the woods in Montana?  Eating a biscuit with pudding and whip topping inside!

We took a little drive to Montana (okay, more like an 11 hour drive) to go camping with my family (parents, siblings and their spouses, kids' cousins) a couple weeks ago.  The whole time I was taking pictures and the phrase, "Bonnie has a blog," came up constantly.  So camping food, you were not forgotten.  And no matter how serious or humorously it was said, here you go.  
My dad made two rounded wooden pegs to stretch the dough over.  Sorry I can't direct you to any store-bought wonder.  He's pretty crafty.

Pudding Biscuits

1 can Philsbury buiscuts
Snack pack vanilla pudding
Whip Topping

Oil the stick.  Take one buiscut out of the can and place top and work down, making sure you don't break the dough.  Bake over the fire/coals rotating slowly.  You want to cook it slow so the inside gets cooked along with the outside.  When it's browned and baked, slide off the stick and fill with pudding and whip.  Delish!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

So I have a fabulous neighbor who enjoys yummy treats as much as I do!  This is a recipe you have to try.  The cake is so moist and fresh with the real strawberries.  I loved every bite!

Strawberry Cupcakes
recipe courtesy of Cast Sugar (adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/3 c. whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 c. whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

Place strawberries and honey in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 2/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Sprinkles' Strawberry Frosting
recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart
Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes (this is such a lie! It makes a ton!).

1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

Over 100!

So remember when summer took over our lives?  It did for me and has been tons of fun!  This past couple of weeks have been crazy busy with camping, playing with friends, and suffering in a Portland heat wave (that has since cooled least until this weekend).  I have camping recipes ready to share with you - dutch oven cooking is the best.

Something else happened around here - there are now over 100 followers for Pretty Dubs.  I'm happy that I've been able to share some things that you all enjoy.  It makes this blog totally worth it.  SO IN CELEBRATION...I want to make something to give away.  BUT I think it would be fun to have your input.

My idea is a ruffle apron.  Is there anything on here that you'd enjoy seeing as a giveaway?

This corn was awesome while we were camping.  Fresh and moist, although we boiled it instead of putting it over the fire.

Summer Salad Tasting and Recipe Exchange

Such a fun night last night!  We haven't had any recipe exchanges among friends for a while and this was a perfect kick-off.  We each brought a salad recipe, labeled it with its name and ours, and took turns tasting everything.  

We plan on continuing our food parties by volunteering to host/pick a dish type or ingredient and have started a blog to document The Recipes.  The person running the blog for us took pictures at the event to post along with the recipe.  Awesome idea.

So if you wanted to start a food swap like this, send an email to your friends with the date/time/place and with the instructions to either bring a recipe or email it to you for an electronic distribution (however you want to plan yours).  You will also need to specify the food type.  For example, it could be *salads, desserts, meatless main dishes, drinks, breakfast foods OR you could even choose an ingredient, saying everyone has to bring something with feta or chili powder or chicken, etc.  Have fun! 

Bean Salad
1 can green beans
1 can white beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can black beans
1/4 - 1/2 red onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground dry mustard
1 tsp dried tarragon

Drain all the beans and mix together in a large bowl.  Add the diced onion, diced green and red peppers, and chopped cilantro.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, mix the vinegar, oil, sugar, dry mustard, and tarragon over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour over bean mixture.  Stir until all ingredients are coated.  Let sit in the fridge to marinate, stirring occasionally.  (Still good if eaten right away)  *Hominy is also a yummy ingredient to add.

A Busy Week

The last couple weeks have been busy around here.  I helped one of the young women from our church make a quilt, had my sister and her hubs visit, and worked a ton in the yard.  Yesterday I had to top it off with some cinnamon rolls.  I can't believe we're on the count-down for summer to end!  It has flown by.

I'll show a picture of the finished quilt, I don't want to spoil it.  But here's the fabric we used and it turned out beautiful!

I did practice some heel kick at the beach!  It was a beautiful day and we had tons of fun.  The famous Cannon Beach domes are in the background.

If you ever go to Cannon Beach, go the the Ecola Seafood place.  (bad name...hmmm)  All their fish is fresh and their fish and chips are the best I've ever tasted!

The kids are really enjoying our new swing set!  

And then we did squeeze in some puppet making project time.  I was a cool mom that day!  (Sometimes I feel like a slacker, but making puppets clothing from fabric makes up for it...maybe)

And this is what I ate for breakfast!  I made and delivered some warm cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting last night.  I don't know why taking baked goods to people makes me happy...but I'm glad it does.  The only downfall is that I end up eating way to many myself.  Find the recipe here, but the frosting recipe is this one: doubled, minus the cocoa, and plus 4 oz of cream cheese.

Lay Baby Lay

I happened upon an awesome nursery decorating blog.  Joni at lay baby lay makes design boards for nursery decorating ideas.  I wish I had a room for a nursery, but don't.  Even so, there are some awesome pieces and inspiration in her vignettes.  You'll be sucked in.

She has this free printable.  Love it.  It's printed in blue and ready to find a frame.  You can find it here.
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