Friday, January 31, 2014

My blog shout-outs

This post is going to be short and sweet. All bloggers have blogs that they enjoy reading. Here are a few that are presently on my radar:

100 Days of Real Food

I love this blog because it's authored by a mom who has eliminated processed food from her family's meals. I love that she posts a lot of pictures of lunch boxes because sometimes I just need quick visual inspiration when I don't have time to read lengthy posts. I hope this blog will inspire me to grow my garden this spring. Maybe Nora will even be old enough to help me dig around in the dirt!

You Can Sit With Us

This is a new blog that my friend, Joanna, is a part of. It's a lifestyle blog that has already featured everything from beauty and fashion to food and travel. Since there are four writers, they keep their blog fresh with new posts daily. Check them out!

It's To Die For

I went to college (Winthrop) with the author of this blog. She is really making a name for herself in Canada. She takes "foodie" to another level. She launched a business, To Die For Fine Foods. She's known for her To Die For Banana Bread and To Die For Lemon Loaf. She is a master of making nutritious & delicious food. Check out her recipes!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sweet Potato Maple Muffins

Yes, I know I haven't been blogging about my adventures with power tools. Be patient — I must be since I possess precious few tools. Hopefully my father will be visiting soon with a biscuit joiner and I'll have a new project to share. No, a biscuit joiner is not a piece of sausage, either, as one of my co-workers suggested!

And, speaking of food...

It's been awhile since I've shared a recipe. This is my modification from Gwyneth Paltrow's Sweet Potato & 5-Spice Muffins.

I make them for Nora because there's no added sugar — the sweet potato, maple syrup and spices give it a wonderful flavor. And, when you make it according to the recipe, it's gluten free and dairy free! I will admit though, that I make it with regular flour. I've made it with unsweetened almond milk and regular milk, and both taste delicious. Honduran vanilla extract is my secret baking weapon. My mother-in-law, Rita, brings us back some when she goes on mission trips to Honduras.

I'm sharing this recipe because so many people have asked for it.

1 large sweet potato
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup good-quality maple syrup or xylitol, plus 2 extra tablespoons for brushing the muffins
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free flour (if the flour doesnt include xanthan gum, add 1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400F. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a paring knife or fork. Bake until soft (when a paring knife can cut through with zero resistance), about 1 hour. Set the sweet potato aside until its completely cool.
Peel the sweet potato, discard the skin and mash the flesh in a mixing bowl with a fork. Whisk the olive oil, almond milk, maple syrup or xylitol, and vanilla into the sweet potato. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, five-spice powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and evenly distribute the muffin batter among the cups.
Bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, brushing the tops with extra maple syrup during the last 5 minutes of baking. Let the muffins cool before serving.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Picture Perfect

It. Is. Cold.

Since I'm confined to the indoors on this chilly winter day, I decided to repurpose an old picture frame that I've had around my house for years. All I added was bronze-colored, jewelry wire.

Only problem is that I can't decide which way to utilize it in my home??


What do you think? I'm leaning towards using it as a picture frame. If so, I guess it wasn't exactly "repurposed" after all :-)

Y'all stay warm out there!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

First Project of the New Year

I actually managed one project on day one of 2014! A chalkboard picture frame. Lookie:

Haley is my precious niece. I think I'm going to give this to her on her first birthday….it's in April…I got excited…..

Here's how I did it. First, gather the raw materials:

Chunky frames work especially nice. I found this antiquing in downtown Newnan. Someone had already painted it black.

Next, prime it with a coat of spray paint:

While that's drying, go ahead and paint your board with its first coat of chalkboard paint.


I put two coats of primer on my frame. Then I put two coats of white spray paint over top. I think this was the first coat:

I especially like that you could see a little of the black peeking through the white. Made it look a little more shabby chic.


Then, voila! Put the two pieces together (I'm going to attach them using a little silicone caulking). Don't forget to mark up the chalkboard with a layer of chalk and erase it before it's ready for use.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Carpenter

Jesus was a carpenter.

My daddy is a carpenter (by choice — or maybe at first out of necessity — rather than by trade).

Obviously I hold carpenters in high regard. As we toast today to 2014 and new beginnings, I am excited to announce a new beginning of sorts for my blog. Maybe more like a resurrection ;-)

There was a time before Nora when you saw home renovation projects and overall craftiness. You'll recall my father's helpful home improvements, like our Pottery Barn-inspired mirror:

Our foyer coat rack:

Our pantry:

And the raised bed for my garden:

You'll recall that my father-in-law and husband redid our back porch, including repainting, rescreening and recarpeting:

We all pitched in to lay stones for a patio in our backyard for a grill and picnic area:

There were also a lot of landscape projects, a kitchen redo (one month before Nora's arrival) and lots of home staging!

These projects were backbreaking. Everything took at least twice as long as we anticipated — and probably ended up costing about that, too. And we love it!!!!! I love getting my hands dirty for a cause. In 2014, there will be more of that (Nora & God willing!). I'm going to start small and build my way up to bigger projects (remember, there's an entire upstairs of my house that is blue and is beckoning me….). I hope to build my wood-working skills a bit at a time. Hopefully the carpenters in my life will step up and help when I get in over my head. And I will get in over my head.

So, for now, consider me a weekend, nap time warrior.

Consider this blog Simply Melville-lous, redefined.

I have a guy now who is supplying me raw materials for some of the projects I've dreamed up. Like I said, I plan to start simple. Here is a preview of the materials for one of the first projects I'm planning:

Happy New Year everyone! Make this the year that you do what you love.