Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vintage Campaign Desk Reveal

Last week I shared a before photo of a vintage campaign desk I had found at my local Salvation Army for only $30.  I mentioned that I was planning to paint the desk a vibrant coral to add a pop of color to liven up the neutral colors of my office.

As you may recall, this is what my vintage campaign desk looked like after I brought it home, before I began removing hardware, sanding, priming, sanding some more, and painting it.  Though the desk was in pretty great shape, I wasn't crazy about the dingy cream color and decided to paint it and give the tarnished brass hardware a good polish.

After several days of work to the desk itself, and several hours of polishing hardware, I'm pretty happy with the cheerful result of my hard work!

The high gloss coral paint has a beautiful sheen that really makes the desk shine.  The color itself is pretty unique and dimensional.  In some lights the desk appears like a warm, pale orange, in others the pink in the coral stands out (it's definitely leaning more orange in these photos).

Polishing the brass hardware that had over 30 years of tarnish was the most tedious part of refinishing the desk.  First I let the hardware soak in Brasso for a good hour and tried polishing it with an abrasive sponge.  That lifted a little tarnish, but didn't provide the shiny result I was looking for.  Next I used a paste of Bar Keeper's Friend and water on a wash cloth and, after lots of scrubbing, that did the trick.  The hardware is far from pristine, there are lots of scratches and still a good bit of discoloration present, but for a desk this old I'll accept the character.

Overall I'm really happy with how my desk turned out!

For those that are curious what steps I took to to refinish the desk and what products I used, keep reading.

Monday, July 30, 2012


My third GLOSSYBOX arrived recently (see what I received in my May and June boxes), and I have to say I'm pretty excited about this month's samples.

The July box theme was Summer Nights.  "After a sizzling day in the sun, there is nothing better than a cool summer night.  This month's GLOSSYBOX offers you essentials you'll need to indulge in products that show off your sun kissed skin and hair and enhance sultry eyes.  Afterwards, throw on your sexy sandals and dance the night away under the shimmering summer sky."

Honestly, most months the themes for GLOSSYBOX, Birchbox, and other subscription services seem kind of forced to me.  The samples usually don't relate completely to the supposed theme.  The theme and samples this month for GLOSSYBOX felt that way to me.  None of these products particularly make me thing of a summer evening.  I could truly care less if the boxes I receive each month have a cohesive theme; I'd much rather receive an unrelated variety of great products than so-so products that evoke a gimmicky theme.  So even though I feel the samples this month don't reflect Summer Nights, I'm happy with the collection of products.

This month I received five samples and one "extra."  In my July GLOSSYBOX, I received:

1. Alessandro International - Pedix Heel Rescue Balm ($18.50/100 ml)
This foot creme oil imported exclusively from Germany provides intensive protection and nourishes skin, leaving it soft and supple.

Sample size: 30 ml
Sample value: $5.55

2. Sebastian - Color Ignite Multi Tone Shampoo ($14.95/8.4 oz)
Smart color moisture complex that targets your color-treated strands, to deeply moisturize and restructure hair fibers wherever needed most.

Sample size: 1.7 oz
Sample value: $3.03

3. Sebastian - Color Ignite Multi Tone Conditioner ($16.95/6.6 oz)
This micro-bubble conditioner whips, wraps and wows your strands leaving your hair with long-lasting color and vibrant shine.

Sample size: 1.65 oz
Sample value: $4.24

4. Figs & Rouge - Lips, Face & Body Balm ($6.00/0.26 oz)
This gorgeous tin is filled with 100% pure and natural skin balm, a multi-use wonder product that will keep your skin feeling soft and beautiful throughout the day.

Sample size: 0.26 oz
Sample value: $6.00

5. Senna Cosmetics - Mineral Eyes Shadow Trio ($24.00/0.14 oz)
This silky pressed mineral eye shadow trio in metallic or matte colors gives you a hypnotic yet polished finish with amazing dimension.

Sample size: 0.14 oz
Sample value: $24.00

Extra - Blushed fragrance by Ruddy Water ($22.00/24 pouches)
Features notes of bright red currant and rich vanilla, wrapped around subtle sweet lemon, slightly spicy ginger, and kissed with a hint of sugar.  Take, tuck or share this fragrance towelette.  It's scent will make you blush.

Sample size: 1 pouch
Sample value: $0.92

Total box value: $43.74

As I said, I'm pretty happy with the samples this month!  While I don't have color treated hair, I imagine the shampoo & conditioner will be very nourishing, so I'm excited to give them a try.  I am in a constant battle to keep my heels in shape and I'm looking forward to seeing if the Heel Rescue Balm works any small miracles on them.  The sweet geranium scent of the Figs & Rouge Balm is a little overpowering to me, but the balm is very moisturizing and absorbs quickly so I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of it (and how adorable is that tin?).

 I'm probably most excited about the fragrance towelette (the sweet, fruity scent is right up my alley) and the Senna Cosmetics Shadow Trio.  I received the matte Shadow Trio and I'm very glad I did.  I own primarily pearl and shimmery shadows but have been wanting to add some matte shades to my collection.  The warm browns of this trio look like they'll be very flattering on the eye and the shadows themselves are nice and smooth.

Initially I'm really happy about the samples this month and I can't wait to try them all out!  I'll let you know what I think of them in more detail next month after I've had a chance to put them to use.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Chinchilla Love

Tonight the hubby and I welcomed a baby chinchilla into our family.  We named her Goose and I captured the first moments as we held Goose up to Lucy's cage for them to meet for the first time.  Lucy was overwhelmed with excitement and her reaction was too adorable not to share.  :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Desk Plans

Last week was a really good furniture-finding week for me.  First I found a gorgeous Thomasville dining table at HomeGoods for a steal (I'll share that in another post soon), then I found this lovely vintage campaign desk at Salvation Army for only $30!

This desk is in pretty great condition for it's age, but there were a couple little chips in the wood and the original cream color needed a little freshening up.  I decided a paint job and a polishing of the brass hardware was in store.  Deciding on a color for this desk wasn't easy.  Honestly, I was immediately tempted to just paint it white and call it a day.  But with so many fun and vibrant pieces of campaign furniture out there, I decided to be a little adventurous and go for a pop of color with this desk.  The walls in my office are a neutral gray (Behr's Dolphin Fin), so the room could withstand a little color.  I'm a big fan of the painted furniture trend, but I've been too shy about adding any vibrant pieces to the main living areas of our home.  I figured my office would be the perfect room to experiment in.

After searching Pinterest for some ideas, I ultimately decided to paint my desk coral.  After reading great things about the Advanced formula of paint from Benjamin Moore, I decided on using the shade Coral Gables in a high gloss finish.  I think the coral will look lovely with the brass hardware on the desk and will be a welcome pop of color in my office.  I'm hoping the new desk will finally jump start a long overdue makeover of my office.  Aside from painting the walls last August, I really haven't done anything to the room since we moved in two years ago.  Since I spend most of my time in my office, it really should be inspiring and fabulous!

Hopefully I'll have a finished desk by the end of the week to share with you all, and updates on the progress of decorating my office over the coming months.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Oatmeal Creme Pies

Who doesn't love two cookies sandwiched by delicious filling?  I'm a sucker for a good whoopie pie, and when I saw these Oatmeal Creme Pies on Tracey's Culinary Adventures, I just had to give them a try.  While in appearance and taste, they don't remind me of the childhood classic Oatmeal Creme Pie a la Little Debbie, they do remind me of whoopie pies and that makes me oh so happy.

These cookies are much thicker and have a more hearty chew to them than the classic Little Debbie pies.  The flavor and texture is quite addicting.  The filling between the cookies strays from the classic as well and tastes more like a traditional buttercream with a hint of marshmallow-y goodness rather than straight up marshmallow cream.  If you're looking for a delicious oatmeal whoopie pie, I'd definitely recommend these; however, if you're looking for a homemade version of the original Little Debbie, I might suggest you look elsewhere.

I think these are delicious, but I'm definitely curious to try out a recipe more reminiscent of the Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies in the future.

Oatmeal Creme Pies
via Tracey's Culinary Adventures
makes 20 small pies

For the cookies:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer in 3 additions, beat just until combined.

Use a small cookie scoop to portion the dough into approximately 1 tablespoon balls.  Place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2-2 inches between them.  Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown and set (the middles may still seem a little underdone - they'll set up as they cool).  Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for a few minutes then remove them to the rack to cool completely.

For the filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 7-oz container marshmallow creme
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and marshmallow creme on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the confectioners' sugar in 2 additions then add the vanilla and continue beating until the filling is smooth and thick.

Match the cookies in pairs by size.  Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe about 1 tablespoon onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair.  Sandwich the cookies together, and press the filling to the edges.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Skinny Stuffed Peppers

Tonight I made some healthy Turkey Stuffed Peppers for dinner and enjoyed mine over a salad of romaine, chopped tomatoes, fire roasted corn, black beans, and guacamole.  It was a light, flavorful, and filling meal.

I slightly tweaked a recipe I have had bookmarked from Gina's Skinny Taste for ages.  I added a little fire roasted corn to my filling and some additional seasoning.  I'll definitely make these again in the future, but I think next time I'll add some hot sauce for even more flavor.  You can certainly tweak these to suit your preferences, adding in other vegetables and seasonings to the filling.  Using extra lean ground turkey and just a sprinkle of cheese makes these stuffed peppers guilt free.

Turkey Stuffed Peppers
adapted slightly from Gina's Skinny Taste

1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 onion, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon Tex-Mex Chipotle Seasoning
1/3 cup fire roasted corn
3-4 large bell peppers, washed*
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
olive oil spray
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.  Spray a little olive oil spray in a medium size saute pan and heat on a medium flame.  Add onion, garlic and cilantro (or parsley) to the pan, and saute about 2 minutes.  Add the ground turkey to the pan and season with salt, garlic powder, cumin, and chipotle seasoning.  Brown the meat for several minutes until it is completely cooked through.  Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, and fire roasted corn, mix well and simmer on low for about 5 minutes.  Combine the cooked rice and meat together.

Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove all seeds.  Place in a baking dish.  Spoon the meat mixture into each pepper half and fill it with as much as you can.  Place all stuffed pepper halves in the baking dish and pour the remainder of the chicken broth on the bottom of the pan.  Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 minutes.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese and enjoy.

*Gina's recipe calls for three bell peppers, but I had quite a bit of filling left over (enough for four peppers).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 2012 Birchbox

I received my July Birchbox today.  This month Birchbox "teamed up with Glamour [magazine], whose summer issue celebrates the five senses of summer, to bring you a Birchbox that guarantees a multi-sensory experience."  I'm happy to say I think they did a fairly decent job of providing a "multi-sensory experience."

In my July Birchbox, I received four samples and two lifestyle extras:

Color Club - Blue-Ming polish ($8/.5 oz)
Use this green-turquoise polish on fingers and toes all summer long.

Sample size: 0.25 oz
Sample value: $4.00

Eyeko - Skinner Liquid Eyeliner in Black ($15/.07 oz)
Direct from London, these punchy color liners feature a pen-style applicator that's truly goof-proof.

Sample size: 0.07 oz
Sample value: $15.00

Harvey Prince - Eau Flirt perfume ($55/50 ml)
The fragrance equivalent to a wink, this fanciful scent layers fresh citrus and jasmine notes over a base of lavender and pumpkin.

Sample size: unknown
Sample value: unknown

Supergoop! - City Sunscreen Serum ($20/20 ml)
Wear this award-winning brand's silky SPF 30 serum under your makeup for a weightless UV shield.

Sample size: 4 ml
Sample value: $4

Tea Forte - minteas ($9.95/3 tins)
Keep these refreshing, tea-infused mints on hand for quick pick-me-ups.

Sample size: 1 tin
Sample value: $3.32

Birchbox Exclusive - Earbuds
We designed these neon headphones just for you.  Pair them with your best playlist.

Total box value: $26.32+

I love my box this month!  I'll use each and every sample I received and am happy to have them.  Good job, Birchbox!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Birthday Derby Pie

One of my dear friends turns a quarter century tomorrow.  Our little group got together for a celebration yesterday evening and, as the birthday girl requested, I made a Derby Pie (and homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream) for the occasion.

Back in November I had hosted a little Derby Pie tasting holiday party where I tried out two different Derby Pie recipes (my mother's go-to recipe and the one I'll be sharing here) and invited friends over to help me decide which was better.  Most folks, myself included, slightly preferred my mother's recipe; however, the birthday girl really enjoyed the kick of bourbon in this recipe.

For those who have never had a Derby Pie (it's a Kentucky thing), it's essentially a chocolate pecan pie with a few variations depending on the recipe.  Sometimes pecan are used, other times walnuts, and sometimes a mixture of the two.  Some recipes include bourbon, while others do not.  I grew up with my mother making a Derby Pie every Thanksgiving and Christmas and they are possibly my favorite type of pie.

Inside a thick, buttery, flaky pie crust is an incredibly rich and creamy filling full of chopped pecans and walnuts, chunks of chocolate, a splash of vanilla, and plenty of bourbon.  What tastes so complex and divine is actually very quick and simple to make.  Derby Pie is one of the quickest pies to throw together which is another reason I adore it.  Give this pie a try, you won't regret it!  And if you're making it for a special occasion, why not add a sweet little handmade bunting to make it extra special?

Derby Pie
Adapted slightly from here 
serves 8-12 

Recipe for a single 10-inch pie crust (see below)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups toasted pecans and/or walnuts, chopped (I used an equal mixture of the two)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the prepared pie crust and line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan with the dough, crimping or decorating the edges as desired.  Place in the freezer while preparing the filling to keep dough chilled.

In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with a whisk attachment, whip the butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy.  Slowly add in the flour, a little at a time to avoid lumps, and whisk until completely combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts, until evenly mixed.

Pour filling into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the pie is set.

Serve warm or cool completely before serving with whipped cream or a little homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Pie Crust
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
yields two 9-inch crusts or one thick, generous 10-inch deep dish crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, cubed butter
1/2 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar.

Cut in the shortening until it's in lumps the size of small peas.

Cut in the cubed butter until you have flakes the size of your fingernail.

Add the water, two tablespoons at at time, mixing with a rubber spatula as you add the water to the dough.

When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it (you may not need all the water,  you may need a little more), transfer it to a piece of wax or parchment paper.

Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together, then pat it into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

*For great tips and tricks on getting the perfect pie crust, make sure to check out the original recipe link on King Arthur Flour's website here.

Friday, July 6, 2012


My June GLOSSYBOX arrived a few days ago!  For those who are curious to know more about GLOSSYBOX and/or are interested in seeing photos of the lovely GLOSSYBOX packaging, check out my post on the May GLOSSYBOX.

This is the second month that GLOSSYBOX has been open to subscribers in the US.  I absolutely loved the May box (I'll share my thoughts on a few of the products from the May box at the end of this post).  The June box didn't thrill me as much right off the bat, but I'm excited to try the products regardless.

This month's box theme was Summer Simplicity.  "As the weather heats up and you head to the beach, it's time to get back to basics and let you natural skin glow.  This month's GLOSSYBOX allows you to do so; treat yourself to lush products that will revitalize your face, pamper the body, enrich your locks and add a luxurious aroma of summer notes.  With your natural beauty restored, all you'll need to worry about is which bikini to wear."

As with last month, the box contained five deluxe samples and one "extra."  In my June Glossybox, I received:

1. Ahava - Mineral Botanic Hibiscus & Fig Velvet Cream Wash ($22/17.0 oz)
Formulated with rejuvenating Dead Sea minerals and soothing natural moisturizers, this velvety cream wash gives an extra hydration-boost with a sweet uplifting scent.

Sample size: 3.0 oz
Sample value: $3.88

2. First Aid Beauty - Smooth Shave Cream ($16.50/6.8 oz)
Smooth Shave Cream is a gentle, non-irritating formula containing everything you need to obtain a close, long-lasting shave.  Keep your legs looking smooth and sexy all summer.

Sample size: 2.0 oz
Sample value: $4.85

3. Orfa Cosmetics - Eye Shadow ICE ($14.95/0.47 oz)
Dab on this primer infused, color intense, creamy eye shadow and stand out in any crowd.  Remain beautiful for your long summer adventures.

Sample size: 0.47 oz
Sample value: $14.95

4. Vbeauté - Lite Up, Buying Time, & Eye Never ($150/1.0 oz, $135/1.7 oz, $85/0.5 oz)
Give your face the treatment it deserves with this skin care trio including face serum, cream and eye gel.

Sample size: 0.033 oz (each)
Sample Value: $13.18 (total)

5. Wella Professionals - Enrich Moisturizing Treatment ($12/5.07 oz)
Create free flowing hair with this lightweight treatment containing silk extract that instantly restores your mane.

Sample size: 0.84 oz
Sample value: $1.99

Extra - Urban Organic from A Perfume Organic perfume sample.

Total box value: $38.85

My first impressions of this month's box are so-so.  The Ahava Cream Wash smells lovely and I look forward to trying it out.  The First Aid Beauty Shave Cream is something I will certainly use, but as I don't have sensitive skin, I can't imagine it will be anything ground breaking for me.  I'm excited to try the Wella Treatment as I'm always up for trying a new hair moisturizer/conditioner.  The other products are kind of a miss for me.

The Orfa Cosmetics Eye Shadow ICE seems like a really great product (I swatched this on my hand the day I received my GLOSSYBOX and proceeded to work in the yard, wash my hands, etc. and it would not budge until I removed it with eye makeup remover), but the color I received is a very dark matte charcoal gray.  I don't imagine I'll get much use out of the product since I rarely wear dark or smokey eye makeup.

The Vbeauté samples are so tiny, I doubt there will be enough product for even one application.  Even if they are lovely, I don't think it's possible to see the results of a skincare product after just one minimal use.

Overall, this month initially seems a little lackluster, but who knows, I may end up loving one of the products or figuring out how to make the seriously long-wearing Eye Shadow ICE work for me.  I'll let you know my final thoughts on the products next month, once I've had time to try them out.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Fourth of July.  I've been busy preparing our little home for what is becoming our annual Fourth of July party.  Unfortunately, due to the crazy heat and lack of rain we've been experiencing in our part of Kentucky, all personal fireworks have been banned so it looks like we'll be celebrating the holiday with water instead of fire.  Husband purchased an obscene amount of fireworks before the personal firework ban was announced, so we'll be hosting another party in the future once the ban has been lifted so we can enjoy them.

I made my very first wreath, a festive flag wreath following this tutorial, and am excited for it to welcome our guests today.

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful day with friends and family!

Easy Canvas Prints Giveaway Winner!

The Easy Canvas Prints giveaway ended last night and I wanted to drop on this holiday morning to announce the winner!

There were 16 entries total, and using the random number generator at random.org, the 7th entry was chosen as the winner!

Amy Beth Marantino's entry, "i Follow Easy Canvas Prints on Twitter @onitnaram" was the winning entry.

Congratulations, Amy Beth.  I'll be contacting you shortly with details on how to claim your canvas!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered.  I'll be planning more giveaways in the future, so stay tuned.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Giveaway Reminder!

Just a quick little post to remind you to enter the Easy Canvas Prints giveaway!  All you have to do to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a custom 8x10" canvas print is to "Like" Easy Canvas Prints on their Facebook page and leave a comment on my original giveaway post saying that you've "Liked" their page.  That's it!  Entries are open until 11:59 EDT on July 3rd, so enter soon!

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