Things I Learned From Hosting Easter Dinner

With another Easter now done and gone, I am reflecting back on a few things that I could have done a little differently so that everyone would have had a safe and happy holiday! Such as:

1.  Use cheese in the garlic smashed potatoes-lots of cheese. This year I attempted to make things that were a little healthier and not so creamy and cheesy, so I omitted the cream and cheddar cheeses in the smashed red potatoes recipe…MY BAD. So instead of being yummy and gooey, they were kind of dry and chunky…even with the added melted butter. Use cheese, people!

Easter Dinner Roasted Potatoes2. On that same note, DO NOT USE FAT FREE CREAM CHEESE WHEN YOU ARE MAKING CREAM CHEESE FROSTING for the carrot cake. Did you read that? Well, remember it. Because otherwise, your carrot cake will have a oozy, bulgy middle and weird consistency and everyone will be saying “yeah, what happened to that cake- you usually make such good cakes!”

Easter Dinner Cream Cheese Disaster3. Secure the paintings to the wall with heavy duty screws, or else it may fall off and hit your mother and brother in the back of the head on its way to the floor. Heavy, framed pictures and little nail hangers from the dollar store do not go well together.

Easter Dinner Brackets PictureMake sure you use bolts to secure it to the wall or your dog will take a fall…fortunately it hit the chair rail before it hit them…

Easter Dinner Disasters Dog Pictre4. When you are done dusting the wine bottles on the cupboard shelves in the dining room while making the room pretty, make sure you push them all the way back into the rack so they don’t fall out during dinner and nearly take out your niece and your future daughter-in-law!

Easter Dinner Wine Bottles5. Make the damn green bean casserole. It has been a family tradition over the years to have green bean casserole on Easter, but I had been noticing that I was throwing more away than people were consuming. So I sent out a group text asking for a show of hands on who actually LIKED green bean casserole. The only yays were from my two kids. The remaining conversation looked like this:

Easter Dinner TextsClearly my family has a sense of humor…so I made lemon- roasted green beans with garlic, mushrooms and onions. I am throwing away most of that dish too.

Easter Dinner Roasted Green BeansI am thinking we need a new vegetable.

6. Ham has always been the go-to meat for this particular holiday, and as usual, I had Coach purchase one that was the “size of a basketball”.  This year, I also made some roasted turkey tenderloins for the guests who do not particularly care for ham. What I have noted is that, while the turkey is long gone, we still have a large platter of ham left over that Coach and I now have to eat.

Easter Dinner Leftover hamSo, for future Easters, we will be serving turkey or some other meat that is not pink and basketball-shaped.

Other than that, it was a wonderful holiday filled with fun and laughter…and thankfully, no fatalities. I hope yours was as well! Now, I need to find some recipes to use up the rest of that ham…any suggestions?? (Please do not say pea soup. I do not make, or eat, pea soup…) Susan

 

Drinking ‘O The Green

Can you believe its already March 15?! Where did this month go…and more importantly, where did our winter go?? The mountains of snow from last year are becoming just a distant memory nightmare as we are about to turn the corner and head into spring. Time to celebrate, and what better way than to raise a glass of cheer on St. Patrick’s Day!? With this variety of Sparkling Ice Flavored Waters & Teas, the combinations are endless.

Sparkling Ice Flavor LineupI buy these tall bottles all the time at the grocery store-typically for less than $1.00 each-they have a great, bold flavors , zero calories and are delicious served with, or without alcohol. Rather then your standard tonic water or club soda for mixers, these colorful sparkling waters add a punch to any beverage…or punch!

Here are a few green recipes to try…just in time for the Wearing ‘O The Green!

Sparkling Irish Appletini

Drinking 'O The Green Apple MartiniIngredients

1 oz vodka

1 1/2 oz Sour Apple Pucker

1 1/2 oz Sparkling Ice Crisp Apple

2 cups ice

Apple wedges for garnish

Instructions

Fill a martini shaker with ice. Pour in the vodka, sour apple pucker and juice into shaker. Stir ingredients, then pour into martini glass. Garnish with an apple wedge. Enjoy!

 

Shamrock  Lime Sherbet Punch (Non-Alcoholic)

Lime Sherbert CocktailIngredients

Sparkling Ice Lemon Lime

Lime Sherbet

Pineapple Juice

Instructions

Fill mason jar 1/3 way with Sparkling Ice Lemon Lime. Fill to 2/3 with Pineapple Juice. Top with two scoops Lime Sherbet. YUM.

Sparkling Ice Whiskey Sour

Sparkling Ice Tea Whiskey SourIngredients

1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 3/4 0z. Sparkling Ice Lemon Tea

1 1/4 oz. Bourbon Whiskey

1/4 oz. simple syrup or 1 packet Splenda

Place all ingredients in mixing cup or shaker. Stir and strain over ice. Pour into glass. Garnish with lemon slice and cherry.

Shamrock Cupcakes! 

Shamrock CupcakesYou can even bake cupcakes with these- no eggs, no oil, just sparkling ice and cake mix!

(I was skeptical too, thinking how does a cupcake rise without eggs? So I made them. They are light and fluffy and very delish : )

Ingredients

1 box any brand white cake mix

12 oz. room temperature Sparkling Ice Lemon Lime

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, stir cake mix and soda with wire whisk until blended and most of the lumps are gone.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until cupcakes are springy and toothpicks come out clean. Allow to cool completely and frost with your favorite vanilla frosting. Decorate with some shamrocks and you’re ready to party! For more party recipes, click here: Recipes-Sparkling Ice.  Have a fun-filled St. Patty’s Day everyone.  And don’t partake in too much of the Drinking ‘O The Green if you have to work on Friday! Susan

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My Favorite Holiday Dishes

This past holiday weekend was a whirlwind of celebrations with family, friends and lots of FOOD. TOO MUCH FOOD. After I had offered to make dishes for several get-togethers, I started checking around for some new and different recipes I could try (but they had to be tried and tested already- can’t take a chance to serve something awful…) For Christmas Eve (and day) dessert, I spotted this recipe for a Turtle Trifle

Turtle Trifle from I Dig Pinterestfrom I Dig Pinterest… all of the reviews said it was absolutely fabulous…so I figured I just couldn’t go wrong. Especially when it featured brownies, pecans, caramel, hot fudge and chocolate pudding. Well, it did not disappoint! Absolutely scrumptious. Very rich. Overloaded with calories, but who cares at Christmas?!?

Along with the dessert, I came across this recipe for Tater Tot Bacon Bombs from Damn Delicious,

Tater Tot Bacon Bombs from Damn Deliciouswhich I made for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day parties. Ridiculous. Damn Delicious. Here is the link to the recipe:

http://damndelicious.net/2014/07/26/bacon-wrapped-tater-tot-bombs/

PS: For the second batch I made for Christmas Day, I eliminated the cheese cube, as it really just melted away during the cooking process and didn’t seem to add anything extra to the flavor. Also, I cut my bacon slices in half, but then sliced them lengthwise- made it easier to wrap around the tot and secure tightly.

Next up: Christmas Morning Brunch. This Sausage and Hash Brown Casserole from Epicurious was amazing. (sorry, I don’t have a pic!)

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sausage-and-potato-breakfast-casserole-4387

It is egg-less, just using milk ( although it said not to, I used 2% milk and it was fine) and flour to create a roux, then adding cheese for flavor. I also tweaked this recipe a bit by adding some crumbled, left-over tater tots to the raw hash-brown potatoes and a 1/2 tsp of chili/garlic powder to give it a little extra kick. I used regular breakfast sausages that I cut out of the casings instead of the bulk sausage. And regular white onions instead of the green because that’s what I had on hand. You can do so many things with this dish, like adding spinach or broccoli, it’s just Delish!

Also for my Christmas Morning Brunch, my “foodie” co-worker gave me this recipe for Pillsbury Cinnamon French Toast Casserole.

Pillsbury Cinnamon French Toast CasseroleAmazing. Simple to make and feeds a lot of folks! You can use any type of cinnamon roll in the can, but I found Pillsbury Cinnabon Rolls and they were fantastic!

And finally, for our annual work cookie swap, I created these peanut butter balls,

PB Fudge Balls Chocolate Drizzle Panusing a simple PB fudge recipe I found using a can of vanilla frosting and a jar of peanut butter.

PB and FrostingYou literally just melt the frosting in the microwave for 30 seconds, then fold in the peanut butter,

Mixing PB and Frostingspread evenly in a foil lined pan and refrigerate until firm.

PB Fudge in PanBut once it cooled, and I cut and sampled a piece, I felt like it was missing something…chocolate! So I melted some dark chocolate wafers and semi-sweet chocolate bits in a sauce pan.

PB Fudge Balls ChocolateI cut the fudge into equal squares, then rolled each one into a ball.

PB Fudge BallsI dipped them into the chocolate and then into some crushed honey roasted peanuts. Then I drizzled the remaining chocolate over the tops for decorations.

PB Fudge Balls Chocolate DrizzleDecadent, delicious. But I did discover that one inch squares make really big balls, so next time I will definitely cut them smaller!So there you have it, a few of my new favorite recipes for you to try at your next celebration! And now it’s time to clean out the fridge and get ready for the new year of eating healthy! Have a tasty Tuesday, everyone! Hope you only get a dusting of snow…Susan

 

Lucky In Love? Or Just Lucky Enough…

…to find one of these little Pyrex “Lucky In Love” bowls at an estate or rummage sale? Well hang on to your lucky little heart if you have! The bidding on this bowl, presently being auctioned on Ebay by Molliec917, is up to $3155.00 with four days remaining!

Lucky in Love Pyrex Bowl on EbayManufactured by the Corning USA company back in 1959, this sweet little Pyrex bowl is the rarest of the rare of the Pyrex Collection. On Sunday, I was alerted to an ongoing Ebay auction for this very bowl, with the bidding that is presently at $3155.00 with 4 days to go until the end of the auction!!

Lucky in Love Pyrex Bowl Ebay AuctionWait, what?!?!? $3000+ for a Pyrex bowl, as cute as it may be, has to be some sort of record. Especially since this particular bowl doesn’t even have its original white glass cover and has, according to the description, some “light scratches.” So, how on earth does a one quart covered bowl become the “holy grail” of Pyrex bowls and the object of such affection and adoration? According to several websites (and there are, by the way, many,  many websites that are solely dedicated to the passion of collecting Pyrex-who knew!?!?), this particular bowl was created as a seasonal promotional pattern back in 1959. But because the green grass bled through the red hearts, it did not meet Corning standards and the style was quickly abandoned and never mass produced. The original prototype sits in the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning NY, but I guess it was only “lucky” back then, because the hearts are missing!

Lucky in Love Pyrex PrototypeWhile searching online for additional Pyrex information, I was amazed, not only at the number of Pyrex-dedicated websites, but also by the prices these vintage little pieces were commanding on Ebay

Ebay Vintage Pyrex Bowl Listingsand Etsy.

Etsy Pyrex Bowl ListingsAt the shop in the Barn at Todd Farm, Lisa (our resident Pyrex guru) has been selling Pyrex pieces at some seriously amazing prices as well. So what’s the deal with Pyrex...why is she the most popular girl at the party…and where did she come from? The history of Pyrex started back in the railroads in the early 1900’s, according to the website Classic Kitchens and More. Corning Glass Works scientists developed train lantern glass that did not shatter when exposed to extremes in heat and cold. From the website:

“In July 1913, a series of events involving Bessie Littleton, the wife of the company’s newest scientist, forced Corning managers to focus their attention on the consumer venture. Apparently, Mrs. Littleton had used a Guernsey brand casserole only twice when it fractured in the oven. Knowing the strength of the glass her husband worked with on a daily basis, she implored him to bring home a substitute from the Corning Glass Works plant. He returned the next evening with the bottoms of two sawed-off battery jars made from low-expansion glasses. Mrs. Littleton cooked a sponge cake in one of the surrogate baking dishes. She noted several remarkable findings:
• The cooking time was shorter
• The cake did not stick to the glass; it was easy to remove with little adhesion
• The cake was unusually uniform
• The flavor of the cake did not remain in the dish after washing
• She could watch the cake bake and know it was done by looking at the underside.”
  From Classic Kitchens and More 

For the following two years, Corning developers worked on perfecting Pyrex, then introduced it to the general public in 1915 when Jordan Marsh in Boston placed the first Pyrex bakeware order and Corning Glass Works Pyrex AdPyrex became a household name. The rest is unbreakable history. So why has Pyrex endured the test of time? Well, first of all, how many of you have Pyrex pieces in your kitchens that have been passed down from generation to generation? It’s highly break and chip-resistant, so it will last long after others have joined the broken glass pile. And, it’s just plain cute. Over the years, the manufacturers of Pyrex have followed design trends and created new colorful patterns and styles consistent with the times.

Pyrex Blue Corning Glass Works Museum

But those mid-century vintage pieces, those are the coveted patterns in aquas and pinks and harvest golds and avocado greens. They are, like so many mid-century artifacts, a reminder of our gentler past and our grandmother’s Sunday dinners created in beautifully patterned mixing bowls.  So, start digging through your china cupboards and see what treasures you may have hidden away! And if you are lucky enough to have the coveted “Lucky In Love” 1959 Pyrex bowl in your possession, then well, you’re lucky enough. Have a great Tuesday everyone…I hope that you’re lucky enough not to be buried in snow the way we are!! xoxo Susan

Being Sick (& Yummy Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel) Bites

I’ve been sick these past few+ days with some sort of flu or cold or whatever is “going around”. Sick as in I couldn’t go to work, couldn’t attend the annual neighborhood Christmas party and essentially just found myself lying on the couch for hours watching Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathons. This week so far has been a total frustrating fail for me. I kind of felt like this guy-agghhh!

Sea Salt Caramel Bites SnowmanNo big DIY projects, no blogging, no nothing, other than trips back and forth from the couch to the fridge to the pantry to open yet another can of soup or box of crackers. Coach would leave saying “my poor darlin'” and come home hours later with me still in the exact same position on the couch and say “really??”-lol-he’s not used to seeing me doing nothing, and I mean nothing-not a paint brush or sandpaper in sight-for days. But, you know, it hasn’t been all that bad. This little forced break given me an opportunity to step back and take stock of what I’m doing with this blog and the barn shop and start implementing a plan moving forward that doesn’t result in me being so run down and exhausted that I end up lying on the couch watching endless Castle reruns and stocking up on kleenex tissues whilst staring at a large, dark green evergreen in the corner of my family room.

Blank Christmas TreeThe house is not even close to being decorated, because I just didn’t have the energy to open up all of the giant bins and sort them out, never mind actually placing the items somewhere decoratively. Coach and I finally got a tree Monday night (good thing I’m not part of any of those blogging holiday house tours…) & it finally has lights but no ornaments.

Lighted Christmas TreeBUT, today marks a new day and newly inspired (and sugared up : ) by our annual work cookie swap which took place yesterday,

Cookie Swap Platter WrappedI’m on the mend and ready to add some holiday spirit to our home : ) In the meantime, I figured I’d share this yummy recipe for Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites I used for the cookie swap. (And I assured my co-workers that I did not breathe on them and repeatedly washed and disinfected my hands before handling!) The original recipe for Salted Caramel Pretzel Pecan BonBons

Salted Caramel Pecan Pretzel BonBons by Baker By Naturewas via BakerByNature...but mine didn’t come out exactly as the photo (aren’t these gorgeous?!?), but they were still pretty tasty, if not a bit extra chewy! Here’s the how-to:

1. Assemble ingredients: Bag of caramels, bag of pecan 1/2’s, bag of mini pretzels (these I did not have in my pantry),

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites Ingredients from Walgreenssome melting chocolate, sea salt, holiday sprinkles (these I had on hand). I didn’t have any of the main three ingredients at home, so I ran over to Walgreens since that is the closest store to my home, and I figured they would have the basic snack bags the recipe required. Which they did, which made me happy, so I didn’t have to trek all the way to the grocery store. And they had more kleenex and cough drops too, which made me healthy (sort of). And that is why they are at the corner of Happy & Healthy. So that was a win.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Or a small one depending on the # of bites you wish to make. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make small batches as you go.

3. Place the number of mini-pretzels equivalent to the number of bites you wish to make. 12 makes a dozen. 24 makes 2 dozen. Simple math.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites on Parchment Paper

4. Unwrap the caramels…meh, not fun. When my kids were little and I needed unwrapped caramels, I used to have them race to see who could open them all the fastest-worked every time!

Unwrapped CaramelsBut the only “little one” I have around me these days is a Frenchie named Bartlet,

Bartland unwrapping caramels is near-impossible without opposable thumbs, unless you want caramels with drool and bite marks. Place an unwrapped caramel on top of each mini-pretzel. The recipe mentioned above called for chocolate mixed with coconut oil and vanilla, so I skipped that step by buying caramels that were coconut and vanilla flavored. Right?!?

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites Caramels on Pretzels

5. Place in oven and bake just until they soften. Now the original instructions said 7-8 minutes, JUST TO SOFTEN. But, I left mine in a bit too long (I swear I was watching them, but then I got distracted and…they over-melted. So I scrambled to put the caramel back onto the pretzel by taking a small knife and scooping it back up.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites Over Melted Caramel

6. Quickly place a pecan 1/2 on each one. These look pretty messy because I was placing pecans and scooping up oozing caramel lava as I went along.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Scooping Melted Caramel Over Pecan

If you melt them correctly, you won’t have this problem. Lightly sprinkle each with sea salt. Good thing sea salt is a thing right now, because I have this giant cannister full that will probably last me forever!

Sea Salt

 

 

7. While they cool, you melt the bag of chocolate in the microwave according to the directions. These are the bags of Wilton Candy Melts you can get at your local crafts store. They have many flavors and colors, but I happen to like my chocolate dark, especially when mixed with salted caramel.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Wilton Candy Melts Dark Cocoa

I always use a heavy bowl and cook in the microwave on high, the first go round for 30 seconds, then take it out and stir.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Melting Chocolate Disks

Then every 15 seconds until the chocolate is drippy and all the little disks are melted.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Melting ChocolateDO NOT OVERCOOK. OR YOU WILL HAVE A BIG SCORCHED BLOCK OF CHOCOLATE.

8. I dipped the bottom of the cooled pretzel in the chocolate, then flipped them over on the parchment to let them dry.

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Dipping Base in Chocolate9. Once dry, I flipped them back over, reheated the chocolate just enough to melt,

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Drippy Chocolate

then drizzled it over the top,

Sea Salt Caramel Bites Drizzling with Chocolateadding a few holiday sprinkles.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bite DecoratedCoconut is optional as well.

Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bites by Country Design Home

10. Allow to dry, then store in the fridge or a cool, dry place. Like my family room. Because we don’t turn the heat past 55. Sweaters, folks!! Unless I’m sick, in which case I got to turn it up to 60-lol! Then you share the goodies with friends and family, because you can’t eat all of them yourself. Or could you….have a sweet Thursday everyone! Susan

Country Woman Magazine…A Girl Can Dream…

My new favorite “country” read! Because I AM a little bit country (but mostly a lot suburbia), I love getting country style magazines in the mail.

Country Woman MagazineFlipping through the pages of Country Woman Magazine takes me to that happy place where can I dream about owning a farm in the country. Big ol’ front porch, a couple of dogs, maybe a horse…

Country Woman Magazine Logowhich I probably never will, but it is fun to dream…Every month the cover girl for this mag is a real person who makes the country their home. Some are famous…hello Country Music Legend Dolly Parton…

Dolly Parton

and some are just women (like you and me) who decided to abandon their city life and make a new life in real country style. Meet Susan Gibbs,

Susan Gibbs Juniper Moon Farmwho was a TV exec but now makes her home in rural Virginia breeding sheep at Juniper Moon Farm.

Inside the glossy pages of Country Woman Magazine, you’ll find all sort of DIY projects…these two are super cute for the holidays. A cookie sheet tray to make into a Santa Style Checker Board and

Cookie Sheet Checkerboard DIY Country Woman Magazine

… and these DIY Peppermint Candy Candle Holders.

Peppermint DIY Candle Holders

Of course, no country-inspired magazine would be complete without recipes. Loads of yummy, scrumptious recipes. This Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle...yum.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle Country Woman Magazine

How about these super cute Meringue Santa Hat cookies for your cookie swap??

Meringue Santa Hats Country Woman Magazine

And where are you going to make all of these amazing goodies? In some of the most inspired country kitchens you will ever see! Can you imagine baking in this beautiful space?

Country Woman Magazine Farmhouse KitchenSo, if you are a country woman at heart, or just want to have a glimpse of what living in the country is all about, check out Country Woman Magazine, and tell them Sue from Country Design Home sent you!! Have a down-home, country-style Thursday everyone! xoxo Susan

S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bites-YUM!

One of our  annual Thanksgiving family favorite desserts is chocolate cream pie. Over the years, I have baked many an apple, pumpkin or squash pie, only to see them get pushed aside in favor of the creamy-chocolate-graham-cracker-crust delight. This year, I made the chocolate pies (shhh, no one knows that I served one, but there is another one left in the fridge), but also created a new family favorite: S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bites!

S'Mores Chocolate Pie Bites from Country Design HomeThese yummy little clouds of toasty chocolate goodness were a fam favorite, and sure to become another traditional holiday treat! I originally saw these marshmallow melted cups transformed into shot glasses, but since this was a kid-friendly holiday, I decided to create the pie bites instead. Here is the How-I-Did-It:

These are quite simple to make and only require four key ingredients: Chocolate Pudding Mix… I used the Jello Cook and Serve Chocolate Fudge Pudding.

Jello Cook "n Serve Pudding

I was making the pies at the same time and planned to use the pudding as the filling, but you could certainly save some time and make the instant stuff.  Milk to make the pudding according to the box, Large Marshmallows…these Jet Puffed Marshmallows

Jet Puffed Marshmallowsare just that-large and fluffy. These misshapen sugary lumps were sent off to the land of misfit marshmallows.

S'Mores Pie Bites Misshapen MarshmallowsI figured if they weren’t straight before I toasted them, they would become melted molten messes once the heat hit them. Saving them for some hot cocoa action : )

 Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbs…

Keebler Graham Cracker Crumbsyou can make your own crumbs, but I happened to have these already crushed and ready to go. OK, ready?

1.Toast the marshmallows. If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the country where freezing cold weather is not a factor, then do this outside on your firepit or campfire. We, unfortunately, had quite a snow fall on the day I was making these, so the stove top burner it was. Mine is a glass topped burner, so I just cranked it to high.

S'Mores Pie Bites Hot BurnerWARNING!!!! Do NOT TOUCH THE HOT BURNER. THIS IS NOT A KID’S PROJECT. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THIS AFTER HAVING A WEE BIT TOO MCUH SPIKED CIDER… THIS IS DANGEROUS!!!!

2. Spear the marshmallow with whatever implement you wish to use. I tried a single metal skewer but the marshmallow kept turning as the inside melted. This three-tined fork was the perfect length and the tines created heating holes that caused the inside of the marshmallow to melt more evenly.

S'Mores Pie Bites Three Tined Fork

Now, don’t ask me why, but the fork handle never got hot to the touch. Which was interesting, because the hot glow from the burner on HIGH made me feel like I was under a sun lamp!

3. Starting with the bottom, hold the marshmallow over your heat source approximately 1-2 inches above the surface.

S'Mores Pie Bites Holding Marshmallow Over Heat

DO NOT TOUCH THE BURNER. Hold it there until you see a light smoking from the marshmallow, this means the sugar is starting to melt. Time to turn the marshmallow. Look at that-a thing of golden sugary beauty!

S'Mores Pie Bites Golden Toasted Marshmallow Bottom

4. Repeat around the sides, turning when you see the pale smoke trail as you lightly brown each side until the entire marshmallow,

S'Mores Pie Bites Toasted Marshmallow Sidesexcept the top,  is a light golden brown.

…this is what happens when Coach distracts you and asks a question about the upcoming Holiday Fair in the Barn at Todd Farm.

S'Mores Pie Bites Flaming Marshmallow

5. Remove the marshmallow from your fork using another implement- DO NOT USE YOUR FINGER!! The interior of the marshmallow is HOT and melty.

S'Mores Pie Bites Removing Marshmallow From Fork

6. Place toasted marshmallow on foil to cool.  Not wax paper, that will melt. And then you’ll have a S’Mores Pie Waxed Paper Bites. As they cool, you will notice that the marshmallow centers begin to implode, but the toasted exteriors stay upright. The hot melted middles sink down, creating the cup vessel you will need to hold the pudding. So cool!!

S'Mores Pie Bites Sunken Middles

7. Make your pudding according to the instructions on the box. This is the cook-‘n serve style, so it takes a few minutes cooking in a sauce pan to get to the molten lava stage.

S'Mores Pie Bites Molten Pudding in Pan

8. Using a teaspoon, fill the toasted marshmallow cups to the top (each one will take about a teaspoon of pudding). I was a bit worried that the hot pudding would disintegrate the marshmallow cups, but they were little toasty troopers and stood up fine.

S'Mores Pie Bites Filling Marshmallow Cups with Pudding

9. Immediately sprinkle with the graham cracker crumbs. This is a sprinkle-as-you-go project…you have to add the crumbs to each one after you fill them.

S'Mores Pie Bites with Graham Cracker Crumbs

If you wait until the pudding has cooled, the crumbs will just fall off. And you cannot have a S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bite without graham cracker crumbs!

10. Cool in fridge. An hour or so should do, since each S’Mores Chocolate Pie Bite only holds about a teaspoon of pudding.

S'Mores Pie Bites Cooling in Fridge11. Arrange on pretty platter and serve. The best part is no serving implements required, just pick up with your fingers and enjoy!

S'Mores Chocolate Pie Bites from Country Design Home

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving that you shared with family and friends. Now it’s time to go continue with the kitchen clean-up…hope you’re planning s’more fun today! Susan

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Making A List(s)…

…but not for Santa!! I am so behind the Thanksgiving 8 ball this year. Somehow the holidays have snuck up on me while I was so busy doing other stuff like creating a constant stream of new DIY projects for the barn shop and the blog,

Lit Mason Jar Crackled Halloween

transitioning my blog from a .com to a .org, working with a new online company doing Beta testing for “the next big thing” (coming soon), and yesterday, in one of our proudest family moments, witnessing our daughter being sworn in to the Massachusetts Bar as a new attorney.

Kate Mathison EsquireWhat an incredible busy, crazy ride this has been, with so much to be thankful for! With the end result being Coach repeatedly asking me for a holiday shopping list over the past couple of weeks and me saying “sure, I’ll get right on it”. (Luckily for me, Coach is the grocery shopper in our home, and he constantly re-stocks our kitchen cabinets with whatever he has coupons for that particular week. Essentially, I cook what he buys-with few exceptions.) BUT, Thanksgiving is all on me and he has patiently waited for me to produce the massive shopping list that is required to feed a house full of hungry pilgrims.

Thanksgiving Pilgrim Free Clip Art

This morning, I awakened with that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized that Thanksgiving is 5, yes 5 days away! Typically, by this time, my cupboards are stuffed with all of the necessary ingredients to start the baking and prepping process. But alas, just as Old Mother Hubbard discovered that her cupboards were bare,

Old Mother Hubbard Illustrationso are mine-at least by Thanksgiving standards- and its time to get a move on and get this done! So this morning over coffee, I created three lists:

Thanksgiving liststhe guest list with a head count, the menu and the shopping list, which I just handed over to Coach so he can begin his coupon-sorting and store selections.

Thanksgiving Shopping listOf course, Coach understands that this list is fluid and could change at any second as I remember something I forgot or someone offers to bring something that I had planned to make myself. I’m not doing anything fancy this year, just the typical Thanksgiving dinner I’ve served over the years, with the same recipes and ingredients that my mother prepared for us when we were kids. Thankfully, mom still makes the gravy, because I’ve never been able to master the art of lumpless gravy. This past week at work, I was asking everyone what one special “must-have” dish they served or ate on Thanksgiving, the one that everyone says “hey, where is the …???” and the holiday would be ruined without it. I was looking for some special side dish or secret family recipe that had become a new family tradition…perhaps in place of the traditional green peas and pearl onions…

Rachel Ray Creamed Peas and Onions Recipeor sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Pretty much, across the board, the answer was either the “family recipe” stuffing or the potatoes and gravy. One guy said lasagna (huh, did the Pilgrims eat pasta?), but no one mentioned the vegetables and side dishes! So, now I’m asking all of you. Do you have a special side dish you like to serve, perhaps a new one you just created or one that has passed down from generation to generation that you’d be willing to share? You can post it here, send it to me via email or if you have it “pinned”, just add the link so we can check it out and add the ingredients to our shopping list! We would be ever so thankful : ) OK, now back to work getting the last few DIY projects finished so they are out of my family room/dining room/living room and we can finally clear the way for the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities. Hope you are in a little better holiday shape than I am, everyone! Susan  

Everything AND The Kitchen Sink!

As you all know by now, we have now opened our vintage shop in the Barn at Todd Farm,

Barn Postcard no emailsand so far things are going very, very well! Lots of our rescued, re-cycled and re-furbished pieces have been sold, and shoppers appear to be very excited about the variety of vintage goods we are offering.

Todd Farm Display PMFollowing our first Sunday (which seems like a lifetime ago, but was actually just a mere three weeks ago!) I realized we needed to make a change in our displays. When we set everything up and stepped back to admire our work that first day, we all said “this is great, as long as nobody buys these big pieces that have all of our dishes and pottery on them”.

Todd Farm Kitchen Display Area BeforeBUT, that is exactly what happened, leaving us scrambling to find new spots for pie plates and Pyrex and pots and pans. So, I decided that we needed a permanent, dedicated spot to safely and attractively display our kitchen wares. The perfect solution, in my mind, was an old kitchen sink and countertop with shelves above it, so off to Craigslist land I ventured and found this awesome old General Electric porcelain sink for $40!!! A steal!!!

Vintage Kitchen Sink BeforeOnce I had acquired the sink, it really was just a matter of building a solid base that would be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the sink and anything else we put on it. I started with a plywood top, cut with an extra 1/2 inch around the perimeter, and a hole cutout for the sink. Which turned into several cuts, which in turn created a nice new Mustachio for Coach.

Vintage Sink Coach's MustachioWho, by the way, was really not on board with this whole sink thing. He did help me, but reluctantly, not seeing my vision and thinking that I was wasting valuable time that could have been spent working on other “saleable” projects.

The legs were built from 4×4 scraps Coach had hanging around somewhere behind the barn, cut to standard countertop height of 35 inches.

Vintage Sink Plywood Base for SinkI simply attached those with large L brackets and some screws, then created some cross-pieces for stability, attaching those with smaller L brackets as well.

Vintage Sink on BaseI would show you the rough-cut details, but they are really not very pretty and you can’t see them anyway : ) Once that was completed, I added an old, chippy shutter for the front panel,

Vintage Sink on Base with Blue Shutterand then I added some of these little metal strips (I have a big bin of these I grabbed at a yard sale. Have no idea what they are for, but they make a nice 1 inch decorative edge. Got plenty more if you need any…)

Vintage Sink Metal Bracketsfor the decorative edge trim. Conveniently, there are holes already drilled in the strips, so I just used some brass tacks to attach them to the plywood edge.

Vintage Sink Metal Bracket TrimFor the sides, I affixed some burlap panels with a dowel and some tacks. Nothing fancy. We don’t really have any kind of a storage area in the barn shop, so the burlap panels allow us to use the under-sink for keeping bags and tools, etc.  The sides are simple blue burlap panels, but the front panels are actually made from old burlap potato sacks (which we have plenty of for sale in the shop : ).

Vintage Sink Burlap Potato SacksNot crazy about how those look, so I’ll be changing those this upcoming weekend. Once we brought the sink to the shop, it was simply a matter of finding the perfect spot to build it in, then adding the shutter shelving and filling it up with our kitchenware and painted mason jars.

Vintage Sink adding Shutter ShelvesWe even added an old window because everyone loves to look out the window when they are at the kitchen sink, right??

Todd Farm Kitchen Display AfterSo, what happened when we opened up the shop 6 am Sunday morning?? Every person walking by and into the shop went right to my sink display and admired it, inspected it, asked how much it was. Initially shocked that folks were interested in buying my old sink, Coach quickly recovered and started asking $650. Wait, what?!?!?! THE SINK IS NOT FOR SALE. REPEAT. THE SINK IS NOT FOR SALE!

Todd Farm Vintage Sink Side Profile PMBut both Coach and Lisa (his partner in crime this week) were hell-bent on selling that sink out from under me. Soooo, I compromised and used the old “if I really don’t want to sell it, then ask a ridiculously high price and if someone really wants it, they can have it trick”. $1000. FIRM. In the meantime, I am off to paint the pieces that I didn’t get a chance to paint because I was building the kitchen sink. Have an unsinkable Wednesday, everyone!! Susan

 

 

Fixer Upper Marathon

While I’ve been doing my fair share of fixing-upping around here, sometimes I need to just take a break and get some fresh inspiration and ideas from magazines and TV.

Fixer Upper HGTV LogoYesterday I had a four-hour HGTV marathon watching a new show called Fixer Upper, featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines from Waco,Texas.

chip_and_joanna_gaines

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

I am in love with this young couple and their adorable family,

Joanna Gaines and Kids

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

who live in a renovated Texas farmhouse surrounded by chickens and goats (and now cute, fluffy puppies!).

Fixer Upper Family Farm Goats

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes

The show, Fixer Upper, features recent amazing makeovers by their company, Magnolia Homes, in their own inspired Texas style, but also showcases rooms in their family farmhouse. This is their kitchen, where Joanna sometimes brings clients to show them different types of finishes of poured concrete and stainless steel countertops.

Magnolia Homes Kitchen

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes.net

You will not believe the transformations they achieve while taking the most broken, run-down, dumpster-dive houses and remaking them into stunning family homes worthy of any glossy magazine cover. A couple of examples: This young couple, the owners of Harp Design Co. (he makes many of Joanna’s wood designs)

Fixer Upper Harp Design Co.

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

purchased this “fixer-upper” for $10,000!! (Yup, you read that right. The prices down there in Texas are nothing like I have seen since the 50’s up here in the Northeast.)

Fixer Upper Before

Photo Courtesty of HGTV

The house was absolutely falling down and had to be gutted, essentially to the studs, and rebuilt. This is the after…I know, right?!?

Fixer Upper After

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

Here is the kitchen before (if you could even call it that-I think Joanna referred to it as a crime scene-lol)

Fixer Upper Kitchen Before

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

The new kitchen-what’s to say? Beautiful.

Fixer Upper Kitchen After

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

In another episode, this home was purchased by the local veterinarian, Dr. Marla Hendricks, who was surprising her new husband who was relocating from California. Chip and Joanna had one month to transform a falling-down bungalow from this:

Fixer Upper Veterinarian's Home Exterior Before

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

to this:

Fixer_Upper_Vet's Home Exterior After

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

The living room before:

Fixer Upper Vet's Home Living Room Before

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

The living room after:

Fixer_Upper_Vet's Home Living Room After

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

A few things about this show make it so unique and fun to watch. The makeovers, of course, are so special, because they do it right, both in the construction, but also, in the inspired decor. Joanna combines rustic country style with touches of glam and pops of color to create beautiful vignettes that are so meaningful to the new homeowners. Unexpected? A vintage bike hanging on the wall of an avid bike enthusiasts new study (episode 12)

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

Photo Courtesy of HGTV

Loving this little boy’s room with baskets of balls and alphabet letters on the walls.

Magnolia Blog Boys Room Vignette

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes.net

But it is the Gaines family that makes this show. They are so funny and endearing and clearly have a great sense of pride in their work, their homes and their family, which makes this show worth watching over and over. If you had gotten away from watching HGTV because you were tired of House Hunter reruns, then this is the show to watch to get great “simple. fresh. inspiring. unexpected.” decorating ideas! And, they have a shop in Waco called  Magnolia Market, that sells some of the very items you will see on the show available both in shop

Magnolia Market Store front

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes

and online.

Fixer Upper Magnolia Market

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes

The new episodes air on Thursdays at 9pm, but HGTV is showing lots of reruns right now (they know a hit when they see one!) So, if you will excuse me, I am off to watch a few more episodes I’ve saved on my DVR while I have my morning coffee and then “get after it” as they say down there in Texas. Have a sunny Sunday, everyone!Susan

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