9 Jul
2012
Posted in: Household
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The Parsons Desk

Back in the 1930s, a challenge was issued to students at the Parsons School of Art & Design. The designer “challenged students to design a table so basic that it would retain its integrity whether sheathed in gold leaf, mica, parchment, split straw or painted burlap, or even left robustly unvarnished.” (NYTimes) The resulting table was named the Parsons Table.

The Parsons table was surprisingly modern for the era and has lasted the test of time. The school’s design skills have also been applied to other furniture pieces like chairs, end tables, and desks. How can you tell if you’re looking at a Parsons desk? Just check the thickness of the legs- they should be the same thickness as the top of the desk. (Learn more building instructions by checking out Ana White’s Parsons Desk plans)

West Elm Parsons Desk

The favorite Parsons desk of most folks these days is produced by West Elm. It costs $349, has two drawers, and is 48″ x 24″ x 30″. You can buy it in black or white. Don’t think Parsons desks have to be boring. Remember the goal of making a desk that looks good in every material? There are so many options below with different looks. All those designs also mean different price points so you should be able to afford a Parsons desk no matter your price point.

West Elm Parsons

These are 4 additional West Elm options. 1-Parsons Mirror Desk ($599), 2-Parsons Natural Grass Cloth Desk ($499), 3-Parsons Diamond Grass Cloth Desk ($499), and 4-Parsons Metal Desk ($499) made of wood with hand-wrapped rich antiqued metal cladding. Each is the same size as the original and has two drawers.

Room and Board Parsons

Another option is through Room & Board. They have a customizable Parsons desk with 10 different table sizes and 24 different tabletop surfaces. To get the closest size to the Parsons, choose the 48″ x 24″ x 29″ console table/desk. You can choose glass, MDF, butcher block, solid wood, quartz, granite, or even marble. My favorites are with the white glass (#5- $619) and with the Solid maple with shell stain (#6- $699).

cheap parsons desks

Parsons desks can be found at lower costs too with just a few changes. The 7-Overstock Student Desk ($144.99) is the closest match with almost identical dimensions and 2 drawers. 8-Home Decorator’s Parsons Desk ($106.24-$129) comes in 6 different colors though it only has 1 drawer. The 9-Container Store’s Parsons desk is a mixture of steel and melamine without any drawers and can be found in stores for $129. Though a little narrower and with only 1 drawer, you can get a Parsons desk from Walmart (#10) for $59. The cheapest of all is smaller, drawerless, and has different legs but Target’s Parsons desk (#11) is only $39.99.

I’ve shared my love of Parsons desks but I’m curious if any of you have any Parsons pieces. I just bought my first piece after my last sales post. Here’s a glimpse of it.

orange parsons

Have I gone completely crazy?

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4 Jul
2012
Posted in: Food
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Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

I mentioned last week that I’d made two blueberry cheesecake dishes and one was a White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake for my husband. The other is today’s recipe, a Blueberry Cheesecake Pie. The recipe comes from Mel at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. This cheesecake doesn’t even require a springform pan or a water bath so it’s a very easy recipe to make.

cheesecake pie

This dish is a perfect summer dish. Blueberries with cheesecake and lemon are pretty much the best thing ever. It’s a smaller portion than the cheesecake I made and a lot easier if you’re looking for a no-fail cheesecake. This recipe has more of a lemon taste and the blueberry flavor comes from a jam you make for the top of the dish. You bake the crust, then the cheesecake, and then pour warm berries on the warm cheesecake so it sets in one big pie. My dad sure gobbled it up. (That’s him holding his piece below)

blueberry cheesecake pie

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Ingredients

    For the Crumb Crust:
  • 9 large rectangular graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • For the Cheesecake:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • Freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
  • For the Berry Topping:
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter.
  2. Pat the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 minutes at 325 degrees. Let the crust cool completely.
  3. After the crust cools, zest your lemon into a medium bowl. Add in the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice and and beat until smooth. Mix in the eggs until just combined.
  4. Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees.
  5. While the custard is baking, combine the berries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and cool until the mix is warm but no longer hot.
  7. After the cheesecake is finished, leave it out until the berries are warm. Spoon the berries over the cheesecake and chill for 1 hour.
http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/07/blueberry-cheesecake-pie/

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2 Jul
2012
Posted in: Household
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July Task List

It’s time once again for this month’s Get Organized Now checklist. Last month I feel like I got so much done but now I’m in a dreadful heat wave so I’ll only be working on indoor tasks until it cools down. That means I’ll be working on clearing out some old junk instead of pushing ahead on my flower garden but progress is progress.

 

July calendar
Source: Livy Love-Download the free monthly calendar

July is the start of the second half of the year, crazy right? I can’t believe 2012 is already half over. Treat this month as a good way to kickstart any projects you’ve been delaying. The list this month has a lot of ideas like washing drapes, rugs, screens, and under furniture so make sure to check the full list for all the forgotten chores. Here’s some of my favorites from the list:

  • July 4: Enjoy the holiday but be careful out there! I’m in a major drought so locals should avoid fireworks so we don’t end up with even more fires. Be careful on the roads too.
  • July 7: It’s probably time to take care of your plants. Pull back any dead parts, add more fertilizer, and see what’s working and what isn’t. The drought is causing all my plants to die and it’s a losing battle but I’m out there with my watering can every day trying to win the battle.
  • July 9: Restock all your cleaning supplies and paper goods. Decide if you really need 8 different containers for cleaning or if you can find a better multi-purpose cleaner or even a greener one.
  • July 12: Pull any stained or damaged clothing from your closet and drawers. Devote today to mending and some laundering. Don’t throw away shirts when all they need is a little work to make them like new again.
  • July 16: It’s about halfway through the summer season. Check if you need to restock any sunscreen, aloe, or even bug bite remedies.
  • July 20: Make some homemade lemonade. Sip it in the coolest room of your house and maybe even read a book while you do it.
  • July 24: Clear 10 files in your filing cabinet. Consider digitalizing some files like warranties or receipts for tax time.

How do you plan to stay cool this month?

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29 Jun
2012
Posted in: Food
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Patriotic Poke Cake

Jello poke cake

It’s almost time for the 4th of July and if you’re anything like me you hardly need the holiday to make a dessert. I love making a jello poke cake for the 4th of July because I always associates poke cakes with summers and being a kid. Food seems to connect us back.

Jello poke cake

This is a simple enough recipe. You prepare a box of white cake mix (or your favorite recipe) into two round pans, bake, and cool. You can poke holes in the cakes with straws or toothpicks- I like to mix it up. Then you chill the whole thing before assembling with cool whip as your frosting.

Jello poke cake

Patriotic Poke Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 (9-inch) round white cake layers, baked and cooled
  • 2 cups boiling water, divided
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Jello
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Berry Blue Jello
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed

Instructions

  1. Prepare your cake if you haven't already. Bake and let cool according to box instructions.
  2. Pierce the top side of the cake with toothpicks or a straw, about 1/2 inch apart.
  3. Pour each Jello flavor into its own bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water to each bowl and stir for 2 minutes until the Jello is dissolved.
  4. Gently spoon the strawberry Jello over one cake and then spoon the berry blue Jello over the other cake. Chill cakes for 3 hours.
  5. Dip the bottom of the cake pans in warm water and gently remove the cakes from the pans. Place your blue cake on a serving plate and top with cool whip. Add the red cake and finish icing the cakes together with cool whip. Chill 1 additional hour before serving.
http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/06/patriotic-poke-cake/

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27 Jun
2012
Posted in: Household
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Discount Shopping at Home Decorators

Have you ever shopped at Home Decorators Collection? This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m just a loyal shopper. Most of my bathroom furniture is from Home Decorators as is my favorite (okay only) rug. The company used to be St. Louis based but they’ve shifted to Atlanta to be with the big boss of the company, Home Depot. There are stores in both Atlanta and St. Louis but other orders can be placed online or through their catalog.

home decorators deals

Alright, background time over. The reason I’m mentioning them is that they have some huge deals going on right now. I’m talking a Secretary Desk for under $170 (1), a great work desk for $131- in blue, green, or white (5), and a Parsons desk for $125 (3). Similar Parsons desks usually go for around $300-$400 so even if you don’t love green or yellow you still have money leftover for paint updates. I also really like the blue armchair (2) they have on clearance and this industrial style coffee table (4) which would look totally amazing in my loft. You know, if I had a loft.

martha stewart storage cabinet

There’s also 40% off outdoor furniture right now and free shipping + 10% off home decor. Sadly, most of my favorite items aren’t on sale right now. You know how Martha Stewart has a partnership with Home Depot, right? That same partnership carried over to Home Decorators too. Her Home Decorators collection has some gorgeous pieces and many will melt a scrapbooker’s heart. Just check out the storage cabinet above, beautiful right? I have seen sales on the Martha Stewart collection so don’t give up looking.

In St. Louis we’re often not a target market for home decorating chains like Z Gallerie, West Elm, Ballard Designs or even Ikea. Home Decorators helps fill the gap but I’d love to know if any other locals know of stores to find cute items. Even other mail order catalog advice would be appreciated! Where’s your favorite out-of-the-ordinary place to shop?

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25 Jun
2012
Posted in: Food
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Blueberry Cheesecake

After blueberry picking and making some blueberry muffins, I still had a ton of blueberries left. I had plans to make my dad a cheesecake for Father’s Day and my husband sounded a little jealous of my dad getting a cheesecake and I had plenty of berries so I figured why not make 2?

white chocolate blueberry cheesecake

Today’s recipe focuses on the cheesecake I made my husband. He loves cheesecake and every year for Christmas I make him a raspberry cheesecake. Since I had blueberries on hand, I wanted to adapt that recipe to fit with the season. It was a bit of a test but I’m happy to report it worked out splendidly.

cheesecake-layers

To make this cheesecake, you’ll want to prepare a graham cracker crust first and freeze it while you prepare the blueberry sauce. After the sauce is cooked, let it cool while you make the cheesecake filling. Then it’s time to assemble the cheesecake. You’ll pull the crust out of the freezer and sprinkle some white chocolate chips onto the crust. Pour half the cheesecake into the springform pan. Then you’ll pour some blueberry sauce over the cheesecake and swirl it in.

cheesecake swirls

Finish by pouring the rest of the cheesecake in the pan. You can add more blueberry sauce and swirl it in or make a fun design. To make this pattern, I piped circles of sauce onto the cheesecake and swirled from the center to the outside of the cheesecake to form a firecracker pattern.

blueberry cheesecake

If you end up with blueberry sauce leftover like I did, save it and make some pancakes for breakfast. The sauce is a perfect pancake syrup and adds a lot of flavor.

White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 12 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers (about 9 graham crackers)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • For the Blueberry Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • For the Cheesecake:
  • 4-8 oz packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. Crush 9 large graham crackers by hand or in a blender. Pour into a medium bowl and mix in 1/3 cup melted butter. Mix until well combined.
  2. Line the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with foil. Repeat until about 3 layers protect the pan.
  3. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the mixture flat into the pan and up the sides to form a crust. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.
  4. For the Blueberry Sauce:
  5. Over medium heat, combine cold water, blueberries, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Add in sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil.
  6. Boil for 30 seconds while whisking. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl to remove the blueberry skins. Set the sauce aside to cool.
  7. For the Cheesecake:
  8. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Fill a large roasting pan with 1/2 inch of water and leave it on the lower rack of your oven while the oven preheats.
  9. Use a hand mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream. Mix on low until smooth and creamy. Be careful not to whip the mixture, too much air will cause the cheesecake to collapse or crack.
  10. Add the vanilla and eggs and blend just until incorporated.
  11. Pull the crust from your freezer and sprinkle the white chocolate chips into the bottom of the crust. Pour half of the cheesecake filling into the crust.
  12. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the the blueberry sauce over the surface of the filling. Use a knife to gently swirl the sauce into the cheesecake.
  13. Pour the other half of the filling into the crust. Add another 1/4 cup of sauce to the top of the cheesecake. You can pipe on a fun design or just swirl it in with a knife again.
  14. Carefully place the cheesecake into the water bath in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 50 minutes. You want the cheesecake to just barely turn golden brown before removing.
  15. Cool on a cooling rack for an hour, then chill in the fridge for 8 hours. After cooling, remove the springform pan from the cheesecake. Cut into 12 slices and serve with whipped cream.
http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/06/blueberry-cheesecake/

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21 Jun
2012
Posted in: DIY Projects
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Roll It Up

picnic caddy tutorial

As part of my picnic project week, I wanted to make some great supplies for an actual picnic. Last time I went on a picnic it was during a hike at Castlewood State Park with my husband. I had planned ahead, discovering that there were some tables next to the river right at the end of one trail and before we started our second trail. When we went to sit down, some workers told us they were moving the table, leaving us with nothing to sit on. So much for that idea! I also forgot to bring napkins so I was woefully unprepared for lunch.

Castlewood State Park

I wanted to be more prepared before our next hike or picnic in the park so I brainstormed a few ideas but nothing was as great as this picnic caddy I found on Snowy Bliss. As you can see above, I already had some cute blue and white plates from Target so I went back to the store to see if they had any placemats or napkins in the same line. Sadly the line was being discontinued but that meant I got the last 2 placemats on clearance. Score 1 for me!

mitered corner napkins tutorial

I didn’t manage to find any cheap napkins so I decided to make my own. I used some fabric leftover from my striped porch pillows and made two handy napkins. Jen Giddens has a great tutorial for making napkins if you’ve never done your own. I followed the same method using a 14 inch square when making my own. Jen has drawings of the process and technical details while I just have some pictures.

Now back to the picnic caddy. My first goal was to have all the items I wanted to place in my caddy. I now had the napkin, some plasticware (I’m hoping to upgrade to reusable items next time I’m at the store), a straw, and a plastic bag for trash or leftovers. Since I had those, I was ready to proceed with the actual construction of the caddy. You’ll want to turn your placemat short side up and fold your placemat up till you find a height you like. I did this to the placemat on the right in the photo above.

ribbon placement

Now the cool part about this picnic caddy is that it will roll up in the end. To help it stay put, you’ll want some ribbons to tie it shut. I used some 1/4 inch ribbon for this. I cut it 1 yard in length and then cut it into quarters. Take 2 of these 1/4 yard quarters and line them up together on the left side of your folded up placemat. When you find a position you like, pin it in place. Pin both the left and the right sides together.

topstitch

Now you’ll want to topstitch around the edges. Remember to sew only where there are two layers of fabric. Since you’re topstitching, sew about 1/4″ or 1/8″ from the edge. In the photo above I show you the path to follow when sewing. Make sure to sew right over where that ribbon is.

 picnic caddy

Lastly, find an arrangement you like for your napkins and other supplies you gathered at the beginning. Sew in straight lines to make holders for all the items. I took advantage of the pattern in my placemat to hide some stitches by stitching in the ditch (aka sewing inside of the seamlines already there).

rollup

Now just roll it up and you’re good to go! I love how tiny the picnic caddy rolls up to be so it won’t take up much room in my bag or a picnic basket. It also nicely matches my plates. As a bonus, should the parks crew every steal my picnic table again, I have an actual placemat to eat off of. That’s right, I will be dining in style on my next picnic.

eat-on-it

Linking up:

Whipperberry

Over on my facebook page I’ve asked everyone what their favorite picnic foods are and I wanted to ask it here too. I love a good fruit spread or even just an apple or an orange while my husband insists on pudding cups for every picnic. What’s your must have?

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20 Jun
2012
Posted in: Food
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Cherry Limaretto

One of my favorite summer drinks is a cherry limeade. Actually I love going to Sonic and grabbing any of their summer drinks and sipping on them all day long. I have a weakness that started when my brother was a carhop back in high school. It’s never really left me, I’ve just grown up a touch.

cherry limaretto

When I saw the recipe for a Cherry Limaretto on Today’s Nest, I knew I had found the perfect drink for me. A cherry limeade with some amaretto in it sounded too good to be true. There’s only a trace of alcohol in it so you don’t get too tipsy and it doesn’t overwhelm the cherry lime flavor of the drink. The drink tastes just like my favorite summer drink and it’s perfect for sipping at your next picnic.

Cherry Limaretto

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 glasses

From the Fresh Nest blog

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces Amaretto
  • 3 ounces sour cherry juice
  • juice of one lime
  • ginger ale
  • ice

Instructions

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice. Pour amaretto, cherry juice, and lime juice into shaker. Shake for 10 seconds.
  2. Fill 3 glasses with 3 ice cubes. Strain the drink into the glasses, then fill the rest of the way with ginger ale.
http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/06/cherry-limaretto/

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19 Jun
2012
Posted in: Household
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June Centerpiece

I’ve been holding back on this month’s centerpiece till this week because it goes so nicely with my picnic week. I love this centerpiece because it used items I had on-hand. The basket is leftover from a gift packaging years back. I’ve been storing spare candles in it but my closet makeover (details coming soon!) meant the basket was now sitting empty. I lined the basket with a clean bandana, leftover from my college days.

June Centerpiece- picnic themed

I filled the basket with some cheap wine, my cobalt blue glasses, and some French bread. I added some grapes I’d been munching on to complete the tablescape. I know it’s only June but I wanted to start introducing some patriotic colors into this month’s centerpiece. Hey, June has Flag Day so I’m not too far off on my color scheme.

I will confess that the bread and grapes didn’t sit out like this all month. I might have raided them the evening this photo was taken. We had an Italian feast this past week and all the perishables and the wine were victims of the raid. The basket is still a great centerpiece item though, it’s perfect for filling with fresh flowers or breadsticks with our dinners this month.

Don’t forget to view all my centerpieces for the year by clicking here

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18 Jun
2012
Posted in: Food
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5 Ingredient Potato Salad

I’ve been in a mood for a picnic all year long. The 4th of July screams picnic time to me so I’m in picnic mode right now. All this week I’ll be sharing some picnic-themed projects in case you’re as excited about picnics as I am.

Baked Potato Salad

For today I’m sharing my favorite potato salad recipe. It calls for just 5 ingredients- potatoes, eggs, bacon, mustard and mayonnaise. It ends up tasting like a baked potato in salad form. You can season it to your tastes, I like some dill, pepper, and sea salt mixed into mine. This is a great recipe to make ahead the night before. The flavors do well sitting overnight and the food will be chilled just in time for your picnic.

5 Ingredient Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Wash the potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and boil till soft, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the potatoes and let them cool completely.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon. Let it cool and crumble into small pieces. Set aside. If your eggs aren't hard-boiled yet, this is a good time to do it. Chop the egg into small pieces.
  3. Once everything is cooled, cut the potatoes into medium-sized pieces. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard together in a large bowl. Stir in the potatoes and coat them evenly with the sauce. Add in the bacon and eggs and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/06/5-ingredient-potato-salad/

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