Infectious Pink

We started to lighten up a little bit around here for spring, just before the temps dropped and we turned the heat on again. And while I haven't packed away the flannel sheets for the year yet, we are slowly saying hello to springier stuff around here.

It's no secret that I love pink. And more accurately pink & navy. But recently the pink has started to seep from my girly office and into the rest of our hive. It started when S brought home a few pink orchids for me that I put in my office and then moved on to the pink peony blossom I stuck in a small vase from my brother and SIL's wedding.
Now it's blossomed into a full fledged obsession with pink that S is grinning and bearing quite nicely. Right now I'm on the hunt for the perfect pink fabric to make a few pillow covers for the living room couch.

While I was out looking for a little pink to add here and there I picked up a pair of these white and navy blue lamp shades at Target. I swapped out the more wintery flax-y/linen shades in the living room and stuck them down in the basement (and added "more lampshade storage" to the reno wish list). I'd love to make a similar white with pink trimmed shade for the corner lamp, which might be a good way to use up some of those lamp making supplies also taking up space in the basement....
I stick the day's important mail in that little pink pot before moving it on to S's basket if it's not read after a day. It's a useless system really, since nothing has ever not made it to his basket. But whatever, it's pink.
So now I'm on the hunt for the perfect pink and white ikat fabric for a couple accent pillows. 'Cause there's nothing S loves more than too many pillows. We'll also swap out that wreath on the front door that I made from HUGE Florida pine cones with something pink as soon as the shocking pink roses (that's really their name) bloom in the front yard.

I might just have to start making sail bags with hot pink customization. Or at least make one for myself. I guess you could say I'm falling into the honeysuckle trend, or maybe it's just always been there, since we did have that hot pink wedding afterall.

Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a $100 gift card. I bet you could buy a lot of pink accessories with $100!

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New! Email Subscriptions

Just wanted to let you guys know that we added an option to subscribe via email to the sidebar over on the right. Click on the link "Our Little Beehive by Email," enter your email address and you'll get our posts right in your inbox. Ya know, just in case you just can't get enough of us.

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They're Perfect!!

OMG they're perfect!! The basement windows are absolutely perfect. Now THIS is the reaction I expected and wanted for our windows upstairs. Instead that fiasco is ongoing and frankly, I'm not sure I've ever had a non-family member yell at me on the phone before. But I digress....

Look at these basement windows!
current utility room
The actual surface area of the glass might be smaller than before, but because they're white and not nasty, they totally brighten the entire room. I love them. And apparently they were the perfect size for the opening, with just a touch of space for insulation.
current den
Our installer, Don said they weren't too difficult to install, which is good news since he busted his a*s last week to make the wrong windows fit the gaping holes in our house as a temporary solution...wait I'm digressing again.... Thanks for coming back for more, Don.
Don pointed out that our old windows were merely panes of glass glued into a frame. There was no metal actually holding the glass in place on the outside. As he put it, "it would have taken less than two minutes to break in." Awesome. That makes me even more grateful that we had an alarm system put in the entire house last year.
While he was here, Don also capped off the window that a previous owner replaced. They did a pretty shoddy job overall and left untreated wood exposed to the weather. There was no rot, but the capping should keep out any moisture (and pesky carpenter bees that we thankfully haven't seen since we demo'd our old shed) from now on.
The two new windows fit perfectly so they didn't need any capping, just a bit of caulk. Ok a whole lot of caulk. Which is pretty stinky, but a few hours with the windows opened seemed to help with the stank in the house.
We're planning to paint the window wells bright white and fill the bottoms with white stone to reflect as much light as possible into the basement. Now we're even more excited to get going on our big basement renovation!

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Tuesday Treats: Sticky Buns for Japan

Every summer we spend a week with my family at my family's cabin in the mountains in Maine (that my dad and brother built with their own four hands, amazing). We call it Camp Maine week. We all love Camp Maine; the dogs even know the "going to Camp Maine" song. When we're there each couple takes turns cooking dinner and most mornings we'll whip up something totally Camp Maine like blueberry pancakes or muffins made with blueberries we picked the day before. For the past few years I've also made these sticky buns, which are oh so gooey, oh so sticky and just about the best thing ever.
The resulting sugar high is also particularly useful if you need fuel for a day that includes a 14 mile hike over a mountain followed by a kayak around the pond and maybe a swim in the frigid lake. Or, if you just want to hang out on the hammock all day.

This recipe makes a generous number of buns, depending on how you roll and slice. Not to worry, they freeze really well. S reports that they're delicious when the foil-wrapped packets are re-heated for just a few minutes in the totally ghetto oven on his plane. And we made sure each member of his crew got a foil-wrapped, double serving to eat for breakfast on the second day of a recent aid mission to Japan. Sticky buns, donations and aid missions are how we're helping Japan; you can help too.

Sticky Buns for Japan

for the buns
1 c. plus 2 T. milk, warmed to 110 degrees
2 packets active dry yeast
6 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 t. salt
1 t. nutmeg
1/4 c. butter, melted and cooled slightly
4 eggs

for the filling
2/3 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. nut, finely chopped
1 c. raisins, optional

for the topping
2 c. light corn syrup
2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. nuts, chopped in larger pieces

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm milk, set aside until bubbly

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Add eggs, melted butter and yeast mixture. Mix until combined and then continue to knead on medium for 5-7 minutes until elastic

3. Transfer dough to a well-greased bowl and place in a warm spot to rise. When doubled in bulk, approximately one hour, punch down and let rest for five minutes

4. Prepare two 9x13 pans by coating generously with non-stick spray. Evenly spread 1 c. of corn syrup, 1 c. of brown sugar and 1/2 c. of the coarser chopped nuts into each pan

5. On a well-floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle about 1/4" thick. It should be a pronounced rectangle with the shorter side measuring about 15" and the long side much longer

6. Spread dough with sour cream, 1 1/2 c. light brown sugar, finely chopped nuts and raisins. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon

7. Beginning with the longer edge, roll the dough tightly into a log

8. Using a serrated bread knife cut the log at one inch increments and arrange the pieces evenly, cut-side down, in the prepared pans

9. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight

10. In the morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and bake rolls for 30-40 minutes until golden
11. Remove pans from oven and while they are still piping hot, flip the rolls onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. It works best to place the cookie sheet on top of the 9x13 pan, hold the two together tightly with pot holders or dish towels and flip both pans together

12. Enjoy the gooey, extra special treat
Speaking of special treats, don't forget to tell us how you make an ordinary night special for a chance to win a $100 gift card!

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Please Don't Let This Jinx Us

The last time we mentioned the words "excited" and "windows" in the same post we got a giant dose of the biggest disappointment we've faced since buying our house. (Don't worry, I keeping detailed notes on how the issue is getting resolved.) But, we're going to risk it and say those two words again. Our new basement windows are being installed today and we're excited that we're not doing the install ourselves.
We bought the replacement windows several months ago and planned to put them in as soon as we had a free weekend with a warmer forecast. However, when the window guy came to measure the upstairs windows, subjects of the window fiasco, S mentioned that we'd be doing the basement windows and the window guy offered to install them for a price that soooo made it worth it. Especially since the current windows have metal frames that are actually encased in the concrete foundation.
See how the edge piece seems to disappear into the concrete? It does. And we have no idea how deep it goes.
We figure that if we did the work ourselves, the metal sawzall blades alone would account for at least a third of what we're paying. Throw in a few tubes of caulk, some trim and a whole lot of labor and it was an offer we couldn't refuse. Sometimes it just costs less to call in the experts. And if you could put a price on marital harmony and what it's worth to save ourselves a weekend of colorful language yelled at the windows and each other, then it's a couple $100 bills sitting in my pocket that I just can't wait to give the window guy at the end of the day today.

Tell me we're not the only die-hard DIY'ers who call in the experts every now and then? 'Cause we're facing another dealio we can't refuse with the basement remodel and we're this close to hiring someone to do the majority of the work.

Don't forget to enter to win a $100 gift card over at our review site!

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Cherries with Snow on Top

It snowed just a touch Saturday night, which is pretty crazy since during last year's Cherry Blossom Festival it was 90+ degrees thus starting the summer from hell. I much prefer my cherry blossoms with a light coating of snow on top.
I hope the snow is some indication that we're going to have a "cool" summer. I'll take 75-80 degrees every day for months, please. Feens was just psyched to get another chance to eat snow from the back yard.
Yum, snow.

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Good Score, Goodwill

We took a quick trip to Goodwill last night to drop off a few bags full of books and clutter and decided to take a quick peek inside before continuing on for our hot Saturday night at Home Depot.

Just inside the front door was this push mower, exactly like the one I wanted to buy when our mower died two years ago.
Too bad I was able to fix our mower with a bunch of help from our friend Google. If we had a big garage I totally would have brought this beauty home. But I guess if we had space for a big garage, we'd have a really big yard and when it's 100 degrees I probably wouldn't love my old-school clipper anymore.

I strolled past the overpriced furniture; chairs from Ikea that were priced $20 more each than the Ikea price, huh? And made my way to the tchotchke to see if I could find some cute plates for photographing food, or maybe a white ceramic bird like the one I passed up at Home Goods two weeks ago and have kicked myself for ever since. I was just about to stroll over to the electronics when I spotted this lovely couple:
A pair of glass lamps from Target, tags still on and obviously never used. $6 each. Looks like someone got burned by Target's 90 day return period. I snatched them up. And then I went to Target to make a return and got burned by their 90 day return period. Oh the irony.

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Wait, Bloggers are Real?

I got together with a handful of fellow DC area home bloggers for brunch today and discovered that bloggers are, in fact, real people. And amazing people at that. There's something very cool about putting a dozen strangers who have one thing in common, in a room and then looking up to see that somehow three hours have passed in the blink of an eye.
Back Row, standing: Katelyn, Kyra, Shannon, Kathy, Angie, Andi, and me
Front Row: Cassie, AmyRenee (behind Amy), Sarah, Laurie, and Melissa
We had a blast eating and chatting at Melissa's home, star of the HOUSEography blog, recently of Young House Love fame. Melissa gave us a tour, which I absolutely loved because our homes are so similar. There are only so many styles of post-war homes in Arlington and Melissa and I have similar "models." Right down to the original bathroom tiles, thankfully black and white, not pink or seafoam. What I loved most, is that she chose the exact same tile for her new basement bathroom that we have on our short-list for our basement bathroom remodel. S and I may need to invite ourselves back for drinks so I can show him the real-life version.

These ladies' blogs are definitely worth checking out. I'd love to add a list of DC area bloggers to our sidebar, so email me if you're blogging in the greater DC area and want to be added.

Angie of Seriously a Home Maker

Danielle of Fresh Quince

Cassie of Primitive & Proper

Kyra of RACKS and Mooby

Shannon of Hase Haus

Kathleen of All About Vignettes

Melissa of HOUSEography

Katelyn of The Eclectic Traditionalist

Andi of Jane of All Crafts

Laurie of Little Blue Chairs

Amy of My Sun Shines Here

Renee of Where the Grass is Greener

Sarah of The Thriftress

And of course me, Felicity, of Our Little Beehive

I brought a sausage and goat cheese frittata that took forever to bake last night. I'll post the recipe for it next weekend and make a few recommended changes. Speaking of breakfast foods, be sure to check out next Tuesday's Tuesday treats when I'll post the recipe for the most delicious sticky buns I made for S before he left for a long trip recently. So sticky, so amazing. I wish we had leftovers....

Thanks for a great day, Melissa! Let's do it again soon; I'll bring our favorite boozy baked french toast next time. xoxo

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What. A. Letdown.

So yesterday was window day and we'd love to tell you that it was the best day ever. But we can't. In fact we're sick to our stomachs. There was an error and we've got windows that we didn't order and a whole lotta hassle on our plates. Let's just say "drafty" and "cold" were never words uttered by us when referring to windows in our little beehive before today. We're absolutely sick.

As much as we want to tell you guys all the deets and how everything went down, we're not going to dive into it today because we're hoping for a clean resolution and there's no need to point fingers before the problem is resolved. You all know who manufactured the windows and where we bought them, we're just hoping they can work together to make it right.

On a much happier note, we're moving forward with our basement renovation plans and we definitely have some awesome ideas to share with you. Like ideas that involve tons of closets. And nothing makes me happier than nice, neat, organized closets.

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Window Day!

Our windows are getting installed today! S took the day off from work to meet the contractor in the morning, who should be here at 8 with our windows in tow. We can't wait!

One more look at the "before" as I scrubbed our bathroom window with bleach, in tears over how disgustingly dirty they were...and this shot doesn't even show the broken panes to the right or in the top sash.
Bye, windows, you had a good life here!

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Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Topping

Tomorrow is the last day to enter to win a $50 gift card from CSN stores. Enter today

I nearly turned blue last summer when my friend Amy and I took several blueberry picking expeditions to her aunt's prolific blueberry farm. Despite near daily blueberry baking, eating blueberries for three meals and day and popping handfuls of blueberries into my mouth each time I passed the fridge, I managed to freeze gallons and gallons of berries. It was a bumper crop.

Sadly, last night I discovered that we only had a few cups of berries left in the last of our frozen stash. So rather than horde them like precious jewels until they're so freezer burned they've lost all their flavor (a process similar to that which we follow with Halloween and Easter candy), we decided to make something special.
These muffins are fluffy and delicious and the sprinkling of lemon sugar topping? Mmmmm.

Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Sugar Topping
12 regular or 6 bakery style muffins

for the lemon sugar topping:
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. lemon zest

for the blueberry muffins:
2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries
1 c. + 2 T. + 1 t. sugar
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 eggs
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 t. vanilla

for the topping
In a small bowl, stir together sugar and lemon zest. Set aside.

for the muffins
1. Preheat oven to 400, spray muffin tin with cooking spray and line with muffing liners, if desired

2. In a small saucepan, combine 1t. of sugar with 1c. of blueberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and carefully "popping" and mashing the blueberries. Reduce until mixture is slightly thickened and reduced to ~1/4 cup, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside

3. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Gently mix in the blueberries to coat with flour

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and remaining sugar until pale and thick ~ 1 minute by hand. Add butter, oil, buttermilk and vanilla, mixing until well combined

5. Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be lumpy

6. Divide batter evenly among prepared pan. Drop a small amount of blueberry jam mixture onto the top of each muffin. Using a chopstick or toothpick, swirl the jam gently into each muffin. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins evenly with the lemon sugar

7. Bake 17-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack

Serve warm or freeze as soon as the muffins are completely cooled, if they last that long.
Recipe courtesy of Pink Parsley.

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Spring Cedar Extravaganza

Don't forget to enter this week's two(!) giveaways.

We had a little cedar extravaganza a few weeks ago after I discovered one of my favorite sweaters had several moth holes in it...when I was in the car on the way to dinner. I was pretty pissed. But thankfully a review of all my other sweaters didn't reveal any more holes. Plus the sweater was in the hand-wash hamper for a really long time and not near any other tasty moth treats. And I just admitted that I wore a sweater from the hamper before washing it. It wasn't actually dirty, it had a deodorant stain on the front that I wiped off and then I tossed it into the empty bin to wash that weekend, a dozen weekends ago. Excuses.

I'm no stranger to moths or moth larvae. My mom was pretty conscientious about storing off-season and heirloom clothing/woolens, carefully washing everything by hand at the end of the season and storing it in a cedar lined closet or chest. Since I moved from my parents' house I've stored my off-season sweaters packed with dozens of lavender sachets. Plus I've been knitting and amassing expensive yarn for more projects than I can do in one lifetime since I was wee and part of keeping all that yarn in good condition is making sure to keep the moths out. We have a cedar chest that I got when I was younger, but it's full of special stuff like our hand knit Christmas stockings.

So I decided to store my yarn in the little red chest in our basement and line it with aromatic cedar. When I went to the 'Depot to buy a package of cedar closet lining I discovered the price was about half as much as the last time I bought cedar.
At $23 for 15 square feet I'd be able to line the chest and a closet or two for the price of one sweater. Sold. I started by measuring the width and depth of each drawer in the red chest, which is currently our TV stand in our about-to-be-demolished den.
The cedar lining comes in varied lengths, so I lay them all down on the floor, measured each of them, lined them up in drawer-like configurations, numbered them and then marked where to make my cuts. Because the lining cedar is fairly thin wood I was able to use our battery powered circular saw, which I should have used outside since cleaning up the red cedar dust from our utility room was kind of a bear.
I arranged the pieces in an alternating brick-like pattern, clicked the tongue and groove pieces together in the drawers and filled the dresser with yarn.
That aqua yarn is for a herringbone cowl, which I obviously won't be wearing this winter.
Then since the whole purpose of the cedar project was to protect my sweaters from nasty little invaders, I moved upstairs to our guest room and our Ikea Hemnes wardrobe where I keep most of my sweaters. I managed to fit together the entire lining of one drawer using just leftovers and a few pre-cut pieces. The pieces don't fit the drawers exactly, but this isn't really a for-looks application.
I folded and arranged my sweaters so that each of them touches the cedar. Necessary? Probably not, but it makes me feel better. Plus I threw a bunch of lavender sachets on top just for a little extra insurance.
Before I cut pieces to fit the second drawer, S and I moved on to lining our entry coat closet, where we have a gazillion dollars worth of wool and cashmere winter coats/ moth treats. Or I do, 'cause when you're from Maine winter coats are like shoes, you just keep amassing your collection since you wear them 80% of the year. I wonder if S knows that I left two thirds of my winter coats at my parents house.... 

Lining the closet was similar to the drawers in the measure-and-cut department, but affixing to the wall was a whole other issue. We bought paneling nails, which we quickly discovered would rather bend that pound through our ultra-thick plaster walls. So we used the next best thing: liquid nails. Liquid nails is the best gift to plaster walls, ya' know as long as you don't intend to un-liquid nails from the wall later on.
We squirt a bunch on the wall, smushed the cedar against the wall and clicked it into the panel below. The liquid nails made very fast work of the project. Since we decided to just line the back of the closet, we finished off the edges of the cedar with a couple strips of molding, which we nailed in place with much stronger nails.
I painted the trim, baseboard and shelves white and the walls gray and while that dried we moved on to lining the upstairs hall closet where we keep our jackets and suits. The scraps from the two closets left enough leftover cedar to line the second drawer of the armoire. Since we don't really have space to pack all our coats in bins with lavender each winter (I'm thinking we need to add pull-down stairs to the attic and a ply-wood floor to next year's to-do list?) we need to keep them year-round in the coat closet. Hopefully our cedar extravaganza will continue to keep the bugs at bay, in addition to making everything smell good.

If the magnolia tree that's about to bloom across the street is any indication, making dozens of lavender sachets to pack in among our sweaters as we transfer them from the cedar drawers to rubbermaid totes very soon. But first I'll be doing some serious closet purging with that hope that maybe we'll just be keeping our sweaters in their cedar drawers year-round from now on. Of course I think I said the same thing last Spring. Am I the only one who purges a closet only to end up with a full closet after making a car-full-of-clothing donation?

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The Feeney Report

I'm happy to report that Feeney is looking much, much better today:
After his bath I spent forever brushing out his knotted fur that the clippers wouldn't cut through. They're the same clippers that the groomers at PetSmart use, so I was a little surprised that my pup, who had a bath every other weekend and was brushed out every week all winter long, had knots these clippers wouldn't cut. But all's well that ends well. One more round with clippers and a bit more off his snout and the Feens is his handsome self again...which is a good thing since I didn't walk him to the post office yesterday morning because I was embarrassed by how mangy he looked.

To quote S earlier this week, "do you think Feeney knows he just became the ugliest dog on the block?" Whew, good thing that didn't last because ya' know, I think he did know.

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Saturday Supper: Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice & Peas

Don't forget to enter this week's two(!) giveaways.

We have magazines coming out our ears. We each have an inbasket (that's an inbox basket) on the triangle shelf in the living room, which always have a few unread magazines in them, my bedside table is full of magazines, and I have a sail bag and a magazine holder each chock full in my office. In his defense, I think S probably has four unread magazines to my four hundred. Somehow I got suckered into a whole bunch of $5 magazine subscriptions last year. Oops.

I let a bunch of subscriptions lapse to try to get things under control, but one that I just can't give up is Martha's Everyday Food. We usually find at least one recipe in each issue to put on heavy rotation and even though I'm sure all the recipes are available online, I like that S can reach into the baskets in our coffee table, where the little magazines fit perfectly, and open an issue to an easy dinner recipe when I ask, "what do you feel like for dinner?" and he responds, "I don't know." It's the most frequently repeated conversation around here. Right up there with, "can you please put your socks in the hamper?"
This meal was pretty good although for a one-bowl meal it was a little lean on the veggies. We added more peas and used brown rice in an effort to make a recipe from the "light" issue a touch healthier. I doubled the amount of shrimp and spices so we could have leftovers for shrimp salad wraps the next day. The recipe below is not doubled, but the shrimp were delicious in wraps the next day so I recommend making extra.

Spiced Shrimp with Ginger Rice & Peas
serves 4

2 t. canola oil 4 scallions, chopped and white and green parts separated
1 T. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 servings brown rice (we use minute brown rice)
kosher salt & ground pepper
1 1/2 c. frozen peas (or more, if you'd like)
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
2 T. lime juice
fresh lime wedges for serving

for the rice:
1. In a medium saucepan, sautee the garlic and scallion whites in 1 t. of the canola oil, stirring frequently until soft ~3 minutes
2. Add rice and water according to package directions. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender
3. Remove rice from heat and add peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Add scallion greens and fluff with a fork

for the shrimp:
1. While the rice is cooking, in a bowl, coat the shrimp with the cumin, coriander and lime juice
2. Heat 1 t. of oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until just pink throughout

Serve shrimp over rice with lime wedges.
adapted from Everyday Food January/February 2011 issue

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$100 Gift Card Giveaway - Yes, Another Giveaway!

Two giveaways in one week? How lucky are we? How lucky are you?! So in addition to the CSN giveaway we've got going on over here, we've also teamed up with BlogHer and Stouffer's to bring you a chance to win a $100 gift card. Head on over to our little review site and leave a comment for a chance to win.

If you're anything like us you'll start dreaming about what you'd buy with your winnings. A couple gallons of paint?
A new duvet?
How about a capiz sconce?
Or maybe a live lavender plant for your living room?
Definitely a new drill.
What are you waiting for? Head on over and enter to win!

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Covering the Sins Within

Don't forget to enter to win a $50 gift card to any of CSN's 200+ online stores!

Back when we created an little sewing nook for me in our den so I can efficiently sew up a storm of sail bags, I put a bunch of baskets full of supplies interspersed with some ugly books on an ugly bookcase. I thought for a hot second that I would paint the ugly bookcase a less ugly color and maybe spray its tarnished brass feet with some brushed nickle spray paint. But painting the bookcase doesn't make the books any less ugly. So I sewed a bookcase slip cover to hide all of the sins within.
It covers the entire front and back of the bookcase, just in case I decide to move the furniture around and the back happens to be visible in the future. I put a nice chunky hem at the bottom to keep it weighed down and to keep the whole thing from slipping, I sewed in two rows of piping at the front and back edges of the top of the bookshelf.
I may end up painting the bookcase anyway since the sides are still open, but making the slipcover moved that project waaaay down the to-do list. Plus, we have a basement to demo and re-design so who knows, I may be introducing some new storage cabinets to my sewing nook in the near future!

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Calling all DC Area Home Bloggers!

Are you a Washington, D.C. area home, DIY, or decor blogger? Melissa at Houseography is co-hosting a blogger brunch on March 26 for local bloggers and you're invited. If you'd like to join us, please send Melissa an email by Friday 3/18 and she'll send you all the details!

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Before & After

Our home isn't the only thing subject to our DIY wrath. Feeney got his summer cut this weekend.

Where the heck is the rest of our dog!?! I can barely type I'm laughing so hard. He looks RIDICULOUS!

Poor Feeney looks like he was groomed by an 8 year old with dull sheep shears. Grooming a dog with a full coat of thick, fluffy fur is clearly not our forte. Maybe next year we'll send him to the groomers for the first cut of the season. Sorry, little buddy. Next weekend, I think we'll stick to house projects.

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Tuesday Treats: Mocha Brownie Cupcakes with Kahlua Mocha Frosting

Don't forget to enter to win a $50 gift card to any of CSN's 200+ online stores!
I had a work event last week where my co-workers and I were all up well before five in the morning (more like 4) and working well into the evening. All. Week. Long. The toughest part of the whole week was that we all needed to appear chipper, smiling and friendly for the couple thousand people we were hosting. I work with the friendliest bunch of people you'll ever meet, but even friendly people need a little pick-me-up at two in the afternoon (or ten o'clock in the morning) when the energy levels start dropping and we all just want to take a nap.
These cupcakes combine the fudge-like goodness of a brownie and the convenience of a cupcake in one delicious little afternoon treat. A little Kahlua in the frosting is spread out among many cupcakes, so unless you're drinking the leftover bottle with a tall glass of milk, the only kick you should get is from a delicious sugar rush. And who doesn't love a delicious afternoon sugar rush?

Mocha Brownie Cupcakes with Kahlua Mocha Frosting
makes 22 brownie cupcakes

for the brownie cupcakes:
11 T. unsalted butter, at room temp
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. espresso powder
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 large eggs
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. coffee liqueur like Kahlua

for the frosting:
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. butter, softened
16 oz. confectioners sugar
1/3 c. coffee liqueur, or more as needed

to make the brownie cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350° F and line 22 cupcake tins with paper liners

1. Combine butter and chocolate in a double boiler over a pot of simmering water, heating until melted and stirring until smooth. Let cool slightly

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine eggs and sugar and beat on medium-high until pale. Stir in the chocolate mixture and the liqueur on low until combined 

4. Add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low, mixing until well combined

5. Divide batter equally among the 22 cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full

6. Bake 20-22 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool in pans for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely before frosting

to make the frosting
1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on high for 1-2 minutes, mixing every 30 seconds. Cool completely

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, chocolate and sugar, slowly adding the liquor until all ingredients are incorporated

3. Increase the speed of the mixture to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides frequently. If the frosting is too thick, add additional liquor one tablespoon at a time

3. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes
Enjoy, in lieu of your afternoon nap.

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Organize your Chaos with Some Baskets

This giveaway has ended. Congratulations, Natalie! Thanks everyone for entering!
The "A" shaped bookshelf has always been a bit of an issue for us in this house. In our old house it fit perfectly in the room above our garage that was my office. Here we don't seem to have many walls that are large enough to accommodate it without blocking a window. When we bought new living room furniture last year and found ourselves with a bit more open space, the shelf found its perfect home in the living room. I jumped at the chance to have a better home for our cookbooks on the bottom shelf instead of having them stacked in the impossible-to-reach cabinet above the fridge.

The new layout left us with two problems: the lamps that used to be plugged into the only outlet controlled by the switch at the bottom of the stairs were moved; and the cookbooks looked totally chaotic on the bottom shelf. We lived with both issues until S finally begged me to buy a new, smaller lamp for the shelf so he'd have light before he tripped off the bottom step in the morning. S rarely asks me to shop.

So I hit the 'net looking for lighting for S and searched the house for more baskets to better organize (hide) the cookbooks. And this weekend we went from messy looking to less messy looking:
Less messy is a good thing since the whole side of the room is now lighted up like the 4th of July thanks to a super bright bulb in the new lamp. There's no way S will miss that last step anymore.
Now instead of looking over at the bookshelf from the chair in the corner and wishing I had the time to cover every single book in a pretty fabric or paper 5th grade style, I see uniform baskets containing the chaos of the mismatched cookbooks. Baskets are my miracle workers.

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Saturday Supper: Cilantro & Lime Fish Tacos w/ Adobo Sauce

When I was in Maine for new year's one of my girlfriends and I went to this cute little Mexican restaurant three times in one week just for the fish tacos. They were that good. And even though we just posted a fish recipe, my mom was in town last weekend and she's constantly telling us that we need to eat more fish, so what better time to try to replicate the delicious fish tacos from new year's?
Cilantro & Lime Fish Tacos w/ Adobo Sauce

for the fish:
1 T. olive oil
2 T. lime juice
zest from one lime
1 1/2 t. honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. Old Bay seafood seasoning
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 t. hot pepper sauce such as tabasco, to taste
1 pound fish fillet (tilapia, salmon, or any other fish will work)

for the dressing:
1 - 8 oz. container light or fat-free sour cream
up to 1/2 c. adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
2 T. fresh lime juice
zest from one lime
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. chili powder
1/2 t. Old Bay seafood seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

suggested toppings:
small tortillas, warmed
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small head of cabbage, shredded
sliced avocados or fresh guacamole
shredded cheese
lime wedges

1. In a small bowl, combine all of the fish seasoning ingredients except for the fish, whisking until combined

2. Place fish in a frying pan and coat all sides with the marinade. Cook fish over medium heat, flaking apart in large flakes as it cooks

3. While fish cooks combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl, starting with just 1 T of adobo sauce and adjusting to taste. Brands vary and some can be incredibly spicy!

4. Spread a generous amount of sauce on each warm tortilla, add several flakes of fish and top with toppings as desired, serve

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