Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Blog Anniversary!

It's been 1 year since my first blog post on Fairview Place. The last 12 months have been filled with their ups and downs, stressful, yet exciting, journeys and a place I've really become proud to call my own. I've made 328 posts this year. I've had more than 14,000 hits from 10 countries. I reached 106 sales on Etsy. And more than 130 sales at Kitsch! Now, these numbers don't mean a lot in the real blogosphere world, but they do to me!

I have taken some time to reflect on this blog and what it's done for me through the past year. Then what it could do for me in the future. I've tried all sorts of crafts and cooked up a storm, Music Monday-ed my way through the year and listed my heart out. Although that does sum up about 87% of my life, there are other daily happenings - small and big - that should be captured. With that in mind, I've created some new weekly and/or monthly features that will start popping up next month.

So, hold on tight, I hope 2013 can be just as exciting as (if not MORE than) 2012...Cheers!

Music Monday

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kitchen Finale!

Our "little" project which kicked off in September has come to a close with the finale screw placed last night. Barney's blood, Mike's sweat and my tears have been poured into this project (don't worry, Barney is okay and I'm just a crybaby), so without anymore hesitation, let's show you around!

We went with the off-white cabinets to lighten up the space (even during the day it's completely dark in this area). It makes the space look so much bigger! You can't tell from the photos, but the cabinets go to the ceiling so we have a lot more storage space - and not a gallery of all our extra dishes. I originally wanted the butcher block counter tops. Then granite. In reality, as this is a rental, we knew laminate would probably be the best bet. Looks pretty close to granite though, right? It's called Labrador, and we purchased the pre-cut piece at Lowes.

Again, we added more storage by putting a cabinet above the washer and dryer. Originally we had not planned on getting new appliances, but the owners up the budget so we could get an energy efficient fridge, stove and range hood. It was a debate between black and stainless steel, but black won. We pretty much cut the appliances cost in half by not doing stainless steel and ultimately I think we made the right decision.

I'm telling you what, this sink has changed my life! Before our sink was 7" deep and the faucet leaked, and it was just ugly! The new sink is 9" deep, it's a cast-composite makeup which makes it super light - hopefully super durable too. I picked the pull down faucet style, which means no more Brita water filter (darn).

We have so much more built-in storage now. Since we couldn't re-install the dish rack, Barney came up with the pots and pans rack solution - which I love! We have space between the fridge and washer to store my (new) step stool and other miscellaneous items. There is a spice rack cabinet - which probably would have worked better on the bottom. The cutlery divider (came free with the cabinets) makes two drawers in one and saves a lot of space. My microwave shelf idea worked out well and our trash can drawer gets those nasty cans out of the open.

I started out with a $5,000 budget. After I was given the go-ahead on the appliances, it was bumped up to $6,000. Here's the breakdown.

$3,300     Custom-made cabinets with hardware and all built-in storage
   $548     Refrigerator
   $549     Oven
     $69     Range Hood
   $187     Sink and drain
   $147     Faucet
   $190     Counter top, toe kit, glue etc.
   $100     Extra crown molding
     $16     Shelf and brackets
   $190     Tile, grout, glue, caulk
   $150     Miscellaneous items (basin, buckets, gas line solution, outlet covers, nails, screws, etc.)
$5,446     Total

Not bad, right? We're still under budget! So...the big question is...what's the next project!?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Baking with My Momma

My absolute favorite cookie my mom makes, Raspberry Tarts. And, according her, this will be the last year I get them - since they are a pain in the butt to make!

Make the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out the dough. Use a cup to cut perfect circles to the size of your mini muffin pan. Press dough firmly in a greased pan.

Fill the tarts with a spoonful of raspberry jam.

Bake until the crusts are golden brown.

Make the cream cheese frosting.

Spread the frosting and eat immediately!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Farm Girls Pub & Grub

My mom signed us up for a beer tasting the first night I was back in Alliance. Honestly I stopped listening at "beer tasting in Alliance"!? This would definitely be a first for our little Home of the Carnation. Anyway, my mom goes on to tell me a bunch of women farmers got together and opened a restaurant downtown Alliance called the Farm Girls Pub & Grub. They use (as many) local ingredients as they can and support the local economy 300 percent. You can imagine my excitement to hear of such a progressive event (and venue) in Alliance. 

Friday night we headed down to what was last known as Anthony's Italian Restaurant (also, what my mom remembers as where she ate dinner after prom). The owners have refinished the hardwood floors and original bar. They added lots of hanging lights to brighten up the place, but kept the original hunter green booths and mirrors on the walls.

About 30 people were in attendance and we started about 7 p.m. We tried six different beers, two local (Blonde Bombshell from Indigo Imp and Frosted Frog Christmas Ale from Hoppin' Frog) and three national (Hibernation from Great Divide, Double Bastard Ale from Stone Brewery, Winter Storm from Heavy Seas and Breckenridge Christmas Ale). They also served local cheeses, pickled veggies, sausage and crackers. Our favorites were the Hibernation and Winter Storm, and the Blonde Bombshell was also pretty tasty but not something I'd usually drink.

We ordered a bit of food at the end of the night - which was delicious. I don't eat meat, but the chickpea, kale and chicken soup was among the best I've had. We had such a fun time and I can't wait to visit the Farm Girls Pub & Grub the next time I'm home!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crab Cakes

I can't believe I forgot to blog about my first attempt at crab cakes! Earlier this year I made crab balls, but those were much easier and a lot less see these crab cakes replaced the Turkey at Thanksgiving for Mike and his mother, Sonia.

Anyway, I got an easy recipe from a co-worker and by the second batch I had the routine down. Be warned though, fresh crab meat is not cheap! And I didn't even use the nicest lump meat ($25 per pound). I'm pretty pleased with the results, so follow along!

What you need
1/4 cup mayo
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 lb fresh crab meat (I used back fin)
2 tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or you can use Ritz cracker crumbs)
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

What you do
1. Combine all the ingredients.
2. Mold into patties and place on a cookie sheet. Optional: You can refrigerate up to an hour and it'll help in the frying process. If you're running low on time, head straight to the next step.
3. Fry the crab cakes in hot oil in batches of 2-3. I made 8 medium-sized cakes and served with a (store-bought) Cajun red pepper remoulade - mixed with a little mayo to make it more creamier. 

Sonia's sweet potato casserole, which she made just for
Mike - since neither her or I like it. But it came out so pretty!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

Last time I was home I went to visit my Buni. We spent a lot of time catching up and chatting about our current craft projects. I had taken one of my quiet books to work on (which, consequently, no work actually got done) and explained to her my newest felt food creations. I could see her eyes lighting up as we talked, only to find out she had some supplies she was dying to give away.

Lucky for me, it was everything I use (well, except the large glass jar of seashells). Embroidery floss from her sister (which is more than 25 years old), fabric, beads, glue sticks, a random Christmas ornament and more. She tells me she has heaps more in her garage, so maybe we'll go exploring that when the Spring comes around.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sneak Peak!

Sorting through the 11 boxes of cabinets.

It's been forever since I did a post about our kitchen project, hasn't it? This "little" project we started in September is finally coming to a close and it's been quite the learning adventure. For starters, nothing went according to plan. We have all the components I originally wanted (i.e. cabinets, a sink, a faucet, etc.), but the cabinets are the only thing that remained the same.

Of course the gas line had to be refigured a bit
because of the length of the cabinets.
We ran into a lot of road blocks along the way. Everything from the cabinets being too long (I ordered the wrong size), to buying all new crown molding, delayed delivery of appliances, moving gas lines, electrical lines and a leaky drain (only for a day though).

Nasty stove, wall, floor...We even found a nasty Bud Ice bottle in the wall!

Reading the instructions after the initial install didn't work.
That's how it's suppose to be done, right?

Trying to fix the bowed counterop and gluing the sink in place.  

Installing the tile back splash and range hood - which almost went in crooked!

However through (Barney's) blood, (Mike's) sweat and (my) tears we are nearing the finish line. With all the extra steps and trials we've still remained under budget (which was between $5,000 and $6,000) and we still can sell the old appliances and extra cabinet we have. Barney is coming over tonight to help us with the grout for the tile and other finishing touches. We've got a really lovely kitchen with lots more storage space and a nice upgrade to the apartment.

Ask, and you shall receive!

I stopped in at Kitsch over the weekend and apparently someone specifically asked if Fairview Place would be making Christmas cards, like the Halloween cards. I couldn't bare the thought of a Christmas without Fairview Cards, so I made up several packs and dropped them off at Kitsch.

Last year I had found an old Frosty the Snowman book from the 50s that was in pretty bad shape. I took the usable pages and made into three sets of cards. Holiday sheet music made up several packs of the tag-shaped cards, but most of them sold last year at my craft show.

The newbies are from a Better Homes & Garden's Christmas Craft book. Gotta love those tacky 60s crafts and decor! You can buy a pack of 4 cards and envelopes at Kitsch for only $7, you won't find that kind of deal anywhere go, while supplies last!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Creations!

My holiday creations are coming a little later than I had hoped, but nevertheless, they are here! I'm excited to show off my handmade felt brooches with vintage buttons and ribbon (collected and bought at a local estate sale!). These make perfect gifts for those hard-to-buy for ladies in your life and dress up an outfit without looking like you're going to an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party :)

I've started out with just five different pins to see how well they do at Kitsch. If they go over well, I may just have to continue them for other seasons! They'll be at the shop later today and are retailing for only $7 a piece. If you have a special request, feel free to contact me and we'll work out something perfect for your needs.