Monday, January 23, 2012


My mission lately is to "use up" the supplies we have to "finish up" all those "I was gonna..." projects.  One lovely afternoon, this not-so-lovely buffet followed me home.  It had been in my parents' garage for "a few" years. 
Almost all of the veneer was coming off but the dors and drawers all worked & I loved the trim detail on the sides and bottom.  Besides,  paint can fix anything, right? 
I began by chipping away at the veneer. (This was before I learned what wood glue and well-placed clamps could do for peeling veneer.)  Trust me, you WILL want a pot-holder and a chisel T-H-I-S big :).
Never have I claimed to be a furniture refinisher:  You can see the interior of the door here - like I said earlier - if only I had known I might have tried repairing the veneer on the insides of the doors at least.  I had peeled away (therapeutically, I might add) the water-damaged parts, then filled the gaps with (what else?) Patching Plaster.  ("Use It Up"!)
Here it is coated inside and out with primer, left-over white enamel on the shelves and a blue-gray "oops" paint.
Cut a hole in the back for cords:  You can see how ripply the back is here ...
The doors got a layer of Mod Podge and this (to go with the Left-Over theme) Calico (Holly Hobby Chic, anyone:)), I sanded the rust off the hinges and put the doors back on - with the thought that if they didn't work, a curtain would work (so far, so good!)
The color is somewhere between these two photos: Figuring out my camera is on the "Gonna-Do" List!
I'm thinking a grosgrain ribbon trim around the inside of the doors will finish them off nicely - as one stays open while the TV is on.
My dad helped me polish the hardware (my other favorite detail!), then I added a little white paint detail, some Minwax Rub-On Poly and called it "done"!

"For Now"

Monday, January 16, 2012


I love the idea of picking a word of the year!
Resolutions can be long and cumbersome - one word is direct and to the point! 
When Layla posted her Word of the Year Link Party idea during the first week of January, 
it seemed like the perfect time to share what I'll be thinking 'a plenty about this year.

noun   1.  a full or abundant supply or amount: There is plenty of time.  
2.  the state or quality of being plentifulabundance: resources in plenty.

I'm the worrier of the family.   (You too?)  

Are there enough eggs, what about the milk and bread? 
So often the answer to "Do we have enough...?" is "Yes! There is PLENTY!" 
When the pantry seems empty, a determination to "make something"
 materializes in a plentiful meal.  

And we realize, there was plenty all along.  

2.  the state or quality of being plentiful abundance: resources in plenty.

Sometimes, though, my list-making for groceries, or "To-DO's," turns into an examination of whether I am really  "enough":
Do I have enough time to take care of me, and my loved ones?
Do I have anything to say or share that's worthwhile?
Do I have enough faith in my dreams?
Do I have enough courage to move toward my dreams? 

Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, 
down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.   
-Ayn Rand

This year I want to remember to:
guard my thoughts; 
believe in my vision; 
take care & 
be positive & grateful.

3. an abundance, as of goods or luxuries, or a time of such abundance: 
the plenty of rich harvest; the plenty that comes with peace.

Which really means:  
Lighten up!  Don't over-think it! 
Focus on your dreams, girl!  
Keep your heart light!  
adverb: Informalfully; quite: plenty good enough.

You have PLENTY!  
(That goes for YOU, too!)

The Lettered Cottage

Monday, January 9, 2012

Microwave Caramels

OOOhh, Mom! I know!  Let's make caramels!
I'm going back to the holidays for just a bit to share this recipe with you.  Last week, on her "Star Student" pages, my daughter listed caramel as her favorite food.  So, we mixed this recipe up and took some to her class.  They were a hit!
(Disclaimer:  The photos were taken last year, already!  Don't wait until Christmas to try this recipe!)  The boy and the paint color have (of course) changed since last year, but not our love for this recipe!
Melting and mixing these ingredients together will equal pure joy!
Cleaning the bowl:  Where the caramel addiction really takes hold!
 Cooled and ready to cut.

This year, I lifted the entire cooled caramel out of the pan and placed on a wax-paper covered cutting board to slice (Looks like last year I chopped away at it with my very best kitchen tools!)  :)

Wrap, roll, twist.  You can buy pretty wrappers to make the caramels look festive, or go old school and cut your own.  We cut our own wrappers, cause we're classy that way!

 Put them in a fancy storage container...:) (A prettier version here.)

 ...and smile that secret smile that says: "I think I'll eat this batch, and share the next!"

Here's the recipe:

Microwave Caramels
I love this recipe!  It’s “mix-and-heat-easy”; No need to use a thermometer & while the caramel bubbles away in the microwave, I can clean up the kitchen or craft beautiful homemade cards with my sweet-tempered, talented and polite children.  :) It’s that gooood!

1 Cup Butter  (You can use 1 stick butter, 1 stick margarine…  I use butter & butter.)
1 Cup Light Karo syrup
2-1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
Dash of Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 or 4-quart Pyrex type pitcher or bowl (You’ll be microwaving it A LOT)
10x7 pan, lightly greased

MELT, MIX, COOL, CUT, WRAP, the details:
1.  Melt butter in pitcher.

2.  Blend syrup, sugar, condensed milk, and salt.

3.  Cover with plastic wrap & microwave on HIGH for 9-10 minutes (start with 9!).

4.  Remove and stir well.
(You can carefully (It’s HOT!) do a taste test – the mixture will have some sugary “grit” in it that you can both see and taste.  At the end of the next step, the “grit” texture should be gone.)

5.  Reset the Microwave to 70% (Med-High).  Put mixture in, uncovered, for 15-18 minutes.
(If the ingredients are still “separated”, put in for another 30 seconds. *)  

*Here's where your instinct comes in!   At about 7-10 minutes, pull it out & give it a good, quick stir. If left too long in my microwave, without stirring on this step, the individual sugar granules tend to burn or scorch bit-you'll know because you'll see some dark spots.  (It’ll get eaten, though!) Also, and sorry if this seems obvious, it should look like caramel after this step.  If a bit, cooled on the spatula, does not bead up, the caramel will be very sticky, though still not hard to eat!   If I stop it cooking too soon, and the caramel is soft, I simply keep that batch in the refrigerator.

6.  Mix in vanilla.  
      (Even if you have to pour the caramel back into a bowl, clean your    
      pan and  grease it again, the vanilla is worth remembering!)

7.  Pour in pan & cool. 
Warning:  At this stage this recipe is HIGHLY addictive (and seriously hot!) keep out of reach of any snitchers! 

8.  When cool, cut into desired pieces & wrap with waxed paper.
Use a spatula to lift it out of the pan and cut with a kitchen scissors, or knife.
Wrap in wax paper wrappers.   
Last time we counted, after snitching the "bad ends", we wrapped 85 caramels from one recipe.

ENJOY alone or share!