Kitchen Bench Inspired by Charm

As you probably know, I’ve been on a mission to get my kitchen back in order. The first step in this process was to fix the trim around the window. You may remember that there used to be a bench here. The trim was removed when the bench was installed. So when I took out the bench, I was left with an ugly looking window. The goal is to get this window replaced within the next couple months. I’m not sure why a piece of wood covers the bottom of the window or why the window doesn’t open, but if things go according to plan, it will soon be gone. 

In the meantime, I wanted to make this area a bit more presentable by fixing the trim. (Because of how the window is installed, I shouldn’t need to remove this new molding when the new window goes in.) Anyway, I picked up some trim boards, cut them to size, nailed them in place, patched holes, sanded, and painted. Molding complete. The difficult part was that because my house is almost 100 years old, finding replacement molding is nearly impossible. So the process can be a bit time consuming. Plus, in all honesty, because hammers and I don’t get along, this project took even longer than it should have. I’m not as handy as I pretend to be. I blame it on having zero patience.

Once all that was complete, the fun part could begin – shopping for some colorful and functional accessories. And I knew exactly where to go. Target

You know I’m totally in love with their Threshold line. I’ve had my eye on a few pillows from the collection for some time and knew they would be perfect. 

I was also on the hunt for a bench. I needed a place where I could take my shoes off or enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.

So after some fun shopping, I came home with a completed look. 

The velvet white bench is not from the Threshold collection, but it’s perfection! I will admit I’m a little nervous about having white fabric in the kitchen. We’ll see how that goes. My favorite things are my new pillows though. The marble-inspired one is probably my absolute favorite. I’m pretty much obsessed with the pattern. The pillows are the perfect color collection for this season and my kitchen. I think they make the space look really inviting and welcoming and I’m loving it. 

I also found this adorable rope-inspired basket. It will work great for magazine storage. (Because I clearly need another reason to hoard more magazines in my house.)

I also further indulged my air plant obsessionWhen I was visiting my brother and his family recently, I found two new plants. Needing a place to put these two lovelies, I found (Confession: My mom found them.) these tall glass vases with fun white stripes. Talk about perfect.

So that’s it for now. My happy and colorful kitchen is finally taking shape. There is still work to be done, but some progress is good, right? (Oh, and that candle below is from Threshold too. Amazing!)

What do you think of my updates? Have you found any fabulous Threshold pieces at Target?

 

A big thanks to the awesome folks at Target for supplying me with these beautiful Threshold products at no cost in exchange for my review. Please note that the opinions, thoughts and ideas listed above are my own. I really do love and recommend these products.

As you probably know, I’ve been on a mission to get my kitchen back in order. The first step in this process was to fix the trim around the window. You may remember that there used to be a bench here. The trim was removed when the bench was installed. So when I took out […]




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If there is ever a reason to eat more cheese, I am all over it. Hands down, cheese is probably my favorite food. My mom said she ate a lot of cheese when she was pregnant with me. Right, Mom? So I assume that is why I love the stuff so much. Of course, we all know and love cheese trays around the holidays. You’ve got yellow cheese, white cheese, and maybe Swiss. Add in some pepperoni, possibly some salami, and a spicy mustard and you are set. It’s entertainment gold. Especially when you are serving the rich, full-flavor Cracker Barrel cheeses!

 

 

Well, today I am going to share some new cheese pairings inspired by the spring. I don’t know about you, but I am dying to get outside. Once I get my patio furniture set up, you can bet I will be outdoors with a glass of white wine, soaking up the sun. I may even invite a few friends over. These cheese combinations would make for the perfect afternoon snack. With little or no fuss, your friends will feel like you are serving them a gourmet treat! 

 

Spring Inspired Cheese Pairings

 

Let’s create these three spring-inspired cheese pairings! 

 

Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve on a Tomato and Sweet Basil Triscuit with basil and sun-dried tomato

 

 

 

This is a delightful flavor combination. I love sun-dried tomatoes almost as much as I love cheese. I used sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. I think these have more flavor. The basil adds a wonderful burst of freshness!

 

Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp on a multigrain pita bite with salchichóand cherry preserves 

 

 

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Jelly and cheese are almost as good together as peanut butter and jelly. In this case, the cherry preserves really cut the sharpness of the cheese The addition of the salchichón (a Spanish salami [you could  substitute prosciutto or sopressata]) makes this combination a winner!

 

Cracker Barrel Vermont Sharp White on brioche toast with corn salad and apricot fruit bar

 

 

I decided to save the most unique pairing until the end. I am obsessed with this corn salsa sold at Trader Joes. Who knew it could be so delicious on cheese and crackers. To make this flavor pair extra special and unique, I added a small slice of an apricot fruit bar.

 

I know these combinations may sound odd, but trust me, they are pretty darn fabulous. You may never again look at cheese the same way. Give these pairings a try or create your own unique flavor combination.

What pairing do you think you’d like best? Will you be giving any of these a try?

 

 

If there is ever a reason to eat more cheese, I am all over it. Hands down, cheese is probably my favorite food. My mom said she ate a lot of cheese when she was pregnant with me. Right, Mom? So I assume that is why I love the stuff so much. Of course, we […]




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Blueberry Mojito

Today I’m serving up a delicious cocktail and some of my favorite links of the past week. I’m calling it – Drinks & Links! It’s Friday, and even if you work over the weekend, I hope you can take a moment for yourself. Turn on your favorite tunes (I’m obsessed with the new song Brave from Sarah Bareilles.), pour yourself a cocktail, and check out some of my favorite links for the week.

Considering the sunshine in the forecast fro this weekend, I decided a mojito would be most appropriate to start off this series. A few blueberries and some blueberry rum add a fruity twist to this classic drink. I’m a fan! 

Blueberry Mojitos

Here’s what you’ll need (for one cocktail):

12 – 15 blueberries (plus a few more for garnish
8 mint leaves
1 oz. blueberry rum (I used Bacardi Wolf Berry)
1 oz. simple syrup*
1/3 oz. lime juice
2 oz. club soda

 
Let’s get mixing:

In the bottom of your glass, muddle/crush together blueberries, mint leaves, simple syrup, rum, and lime juice.
Add some ice cubes, pour in club soda, and stir.
Garnish with a few blueberries, wedge of lime, a sprig of mint, and a super cute paper straw!
Enjoy responsibly.

 
*Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a simmer over medium-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved. I usually let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes to create a thicker syrup. Allow syrup to cool completely.

 

Okay, you’ve got your delicious Blueberry Mojito. Take a sip (or two), settle in, and let’s see what’s happening.

 

Cheers to these Awesome People:
 
Have you seen Jennifer Johner’s (of Dearest Someday’s) polka dot wall? I probably wouldn’t have the guts to do it, but I think it’s amazing.

This commercial seriously made me ship my pants.

I’m a sucker for anything with succulents. Check out how Mike Trobiano planted his favorites in some thrift store finds.

Cats that look like male models!? Hilarious!

Like I mentioned above, you need to listen to this song. Seriously. Like right now.

Then after that, check out The Lumineers new single and video. The end is just pure joy.

Gourmet S’mores!? Yes please. I’m dying to try these decadent combinations from Cooking Classy. Especially the Lemon Meringue Pie S’more.

A Cat Teepee? Okay, I kind of want need one of these for my boys.

 

My Writing, Elsewhere:

I just may be a little obsessed with animal print these days. Here are twelve ways you can incorporate it into your home.

Are you ready to rip out some of your kitchen cabinets and replace them with open shelving? Yeah, me too! When you do, you’re going to need some gorgeous glass canisters. These are some of my favorites.

Planning a spring soiree? I have the dessert and decor already planned for you! Check out my favorite fruit-filled desserts and colorful entertaining accessories.

Speaking of color, if you’re looking for inspiration or have a question, come visit me here.

 

Cheers friends! Have an amazing weekend!

 

Today I’m serving up a delicious cocktail and some of my favorite links of the past week. I’m calling it – Drinks & Links! It’s Friday, and even if you work over the weekend, I hope you can take a moment for yourself. Turn on your favorite tunes (I’m obsessed with the new song Brave from […]




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For Today

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I will be the first to admit my mood is greatly affected by the weather. In all seriousness, I think I have an undiagnosed seasonal affective disorder. Why I live in Central PA is beyond my comprehension. Anyway, I’m quick to complain when mother nature is less than cooperative. Today on the other hand, I am not complaining. I am thankful the sun is shining and I am soaking up every second of it. 

I am thrilled to see green popping up around the yard. Yesterday it rained, and rained, and rained. I was pretty annoyed about that until my mom casually reminded me, “This will certainly help things turn green,” or something like that. How true, right? I think there is a life lesson hidden in there as well. Without the rain (the bad times), we can’t truly appreciate the green (the good times). And honestly, no matter how much we complain about the rain or the bad times, there’s really nothing we can do about them. We just have to battle through and relish glorious days like today.


Today’s mail also brought a couple books. The first is The Book of AwakeningIt came out about thirteen years ago and Oprah made it crazy popular about three years ago. Over the past month I heard people talking about it several times. I’m kind of a self-help book junkie, even though I still haven’t found one that has truly helped. Anyway, this book has a little passage to read every day that guides the reader to ” having  the life you want by being present to the life you have.” Not a bad idea, right? The description goes on to say, “It’s a daily guide for living in hard times and good times, all the time reminding us that the life we’re living is the life we have. Lived authentically, it can – and does – become the life we want.” I’m all about that. So, we shall see. I’ll let you know what I think. Has anyone out there read or heard about this book?


The other book I ordered was Homemade SummerI have a sick obsession with beautiful cookbooks. But to tell you the truth, I never actually use them. (Please tell me I’m not the only one.) Anyway, I fell in love with Yvette van Boven and her cookbooks last year when my sister-in-law bought me Homemade Winter for my birthday. I warn you Yvette van Boren’s cookbooks are not your typical cookbooks. I’m not sure how to describe them. They are cookbooks that allow you to explore cooking and eating on a whole new level. Maybe a little goofy? Maybe a bit of magic? It all depends on how you look at it. Anyway, I’m planning to put all of these cookbooks to use soon, but that’s for another post. 


In other news, I just got back from Goodwill where I picked up this amazing painting for $5. Don’t you love it when you score a bargain? I actually went in looking for some funky glassware and came out with a painting. It seems that anytime I go thrifting of antiquing I never find what I’m actually searching for. So, these days I try and just go with no expectations, hoping to come back with a treasure. Have you found any cool treasures lately?

I will be the first to admit my mood is greatly affected by the weather. In all seriousness, I think I have an undiagnosed seasonal affective disorder. Why I live in Central PA is beyond my comprehension. Anyway, I’m quick to complain when mother nature is less than cooperative. Today on the other hand, I […]




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As I alluded to on Monday, I”ve been in desperate need of motivation to get my kitchen back in order after the flooring was installed. To be honest, I’ve been dreading all the detail work. There is a lot of painting involved, and as much as I love painting, this is the tedious, don’t-drip-it-on-the-new-floor type of painting. I also want to replace the window in this space (not shown) and fix the molding around it. Not an easy task since the molding is almost 100 years old. Anyway, I told myself, enough complaining and procrastinating. It’s time to dive in. The first step is the hardest, right?


You may remember that I had a built-in bench in this spot. Once the the bench was gone, I wanted a cabinet to take its place. For months I looked for something vintage, but had no luck. 



Then, like a beam of light from above, I spotted this amazing cabinet at World Market. The size is perfect, and I love the metal frame and the shutter doors which add texture and warmth. Sold. 


The main purpose of the cabinet is to house my microwave. For the past four years, my microwave sat on my refrigerator and looked like a hot mess. I couldn’t take it anymore. In fact, I gave my old microwave away in January and have been without one since then. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought.


Anyway, this cabinet had a solid back. So, I used a spade / paddle bit the size of a microwave plug to cut a hole in the back of the cabinet. I measured and centered the hole to make sure it was just above the top of the interior shelf. Easy as pie.


After plugging in my new microwave and closing the doors, I added a lamp and some accessories. I don’t use the microwave that often so having it inside a cabinet works fine for me. I also don’t have extra counter space or shelf space, so this option suited me best. I even have a place at the bottom of the cabinet to store other appliances, cookbooks, etc.


Another bonus for me: I now have another surface to decorate with colorful accessories and plants. I think that’s my favorite part! 

I’m just so happy I stumbled across this cabinet. The quality is fantastic and the style is perfect in my kitchen. (The Girl in the Kitchen cookbook is amazing by the way. Remember I met Stephanie in Chicago?)



I’m always nervous about ordering such big pieces of furniture online. Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch.



Now I’m off to warm up my lunch (a piece of sun-dried tomato focaccia) in my new microwave. What do you think of my microwave’s new home? 


As I alluded to on Monday, I”ve been in desperate need of motivation to get my kitchen back in order after the flooring was installed. To be honest, I’ve been dreading all the detail work. There is a lot of painting involved, and as much as I love painting, this is the tedious, don’t-drip-it-on-the-new-floor type […]




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Posted By at 5:08 PM
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This morning I got back into the kitchen to bake some more bread. Yes, before you read any further, you need to realize that this recipe takes two days to make. I have a bad habit of not reading a recipe in its entirety.  Needless to say, last night’s dinner didn’t have a warm slice of focaccia accompanying it. I survived.

TomFoc

 

Anyway, I stumbled upon this recipe from the fantastic blog, Two Peas & Their Pod. Maria and her hubby Josh are always making scrumptious things in their kitchen. When I found this recipe on their site, I knew it would be a winner. I also knew I wanted to put my own spin on it.

 

I’m a huge fan of sun-dried tomatoes and I happened to have a half-full jar of them in my refrigerator. Inspiration struck! I’d make the herb oil (see below) with just basil, and then sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes on top of the focaccia.

 

Needless to say, the combination was perfect and the focaccia is delicious! The recipe below calls for a slightly larger pan, which I didn’t have. (Again, failure to read the directions.) So I used a 10×5″ one. This ended up working just fine. In fact, the bread is thick enough to slice in half and make a sandwich. I’m thinking a grilled mozzarella cheese.  Yes, please!

 

 

Without further ado, let’s get baking!

 

 

Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia

 

Here’s what you will need:

 

For the Bread:


5 cups high-gluten or bread flour


2 teaspoons salt


½ tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast


6 tablespoons olive oil


2 cups water at room temperature


½ cup Herb Oil
 Extra olive oil for the pan

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), drained

 

For the Herb Oil:


1/2 cup olive oil


4 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned


1 tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt


1 teaspoon ground black pepper


1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic or 2 to 3 fresh cloves, minced

 

Let’s get baking:

To Make the Herb Oil: Warm olive oil to about 100 degrees F. Add basil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir together and allow to steep while you prepare the dough.

 

Stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until all the ingredients form a wet, sticky ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. You may need to add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky.

 

Sprinkle enough flour on the counter to make a bed about 6 inches square. Using a scraper or spatula dipped in water (I just used my hands and had no problems.), transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust liberally with flour, patting the dough into a rectangle. Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax.

 

Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return it to a rectangular shape. Mist the top of the dough with oil, again dust with flour, and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

 

Let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with oil, dust with flour, and cover. After 30 minutes, repeat this one more time.

 

Allow the covered dough to sit on the counter for 1 hour. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.

 

Line a 17X12″ sheet pan with baking parchment and drizzle ¼ olive oil over the paper, spreading it with your hands or a brush to cover the surface. Lightly oil your hands and, using a plastic or metal pastry scraper, lift the dough off the counter and transfer it to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible.

 

Spoon half of the herb oil over the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to fill the pan simultaneously. Do not use the flat of your hands – only the fingertips – to avoid tearing or ripping the dough. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible across the surface. Dimpling allows you to de-gas only part of the dough while preserving gas in the non-dimpled sections. If the dough becomes too springy, let it rest for about 15 minutes and then continue dimpling. Don’t worry if you are unable to fill the pan 100 percent, especially the corners. As the dough relaxes and proofs, it will spread out naturally. Use more herb oil as needed to ensure that the entire surface is coated with oil.

 

Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 3 days).

 

Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking. Drizzle additional herb oil over the surface and dimple it in. This should allow you to fill the pan completely with the dough to a thickness of about ½ inch. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Gentle press into dough. Cover the pan with plastic and proof the dough at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough doubles in size, rising to a thickness of nearly 1 inch.

 

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

 

Place the pan in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking the focaccia for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it begins to turn a light golden brown. The internal temperature of the dough should register above 200 degrees F (measured in the center).

 

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the focaccia from the pan onto a cooling rack.

 

Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing or serving.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod.)

 

 

This bread is divine! Will you give it a try?

 

This morning I got back into the kitchen to bake some more bread. Yes, before you read any further, you need to realize that this recipe takes two days to make. I have a bad habit of not reading a recipe in its entirety.  Needless to say, last night’s dinner didn’t have a warm slice […]




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Antique – Yesterday I had a chance to sneak away and go antiquing with my mom. We headed up to Salamanca, New York which we knew had some great shops. We had a blast even though I didn’t buy anything and my mom only got two plates. It seemed that this time around everything was crazy expensive. The shop keepers definitely know what people are hunting for and have hiked up the prices. Bummer!


Eat – We stopped in the neighboring town of Ellicottville for lupper (lunch and supper) at a place called Dina’s. The menu was seriously amazing. I wanted one of everything. We ended up sharing an olive tapenade crostini. To. die. for. I can’t wait to try recreating the recipe. I also had a curried chicken salad wrap. It made me wonder why I don’t eat curry more often. Love it!


Drive – I’ve been meaning to tell you – I got a new car! I ending up buying a Buick Encore. As some of you may know, I worked with Buick for their Pinboard to Dashboard contest and fell in love with the vehicle. No, I didn’t get it for free (bummer) and I didn’t get the car I actually designed (That was just for fun.). I ended up getting the carbon black exterior and ebony interior. I am in love! I seriously want to drive everywhere. Though, I’m petrified of being in an accident or getting the car dirty. This is the first time I’ve ever purchased a brand new vehicle! 


Drink – I have an idea for another new series on IBC – creative cocktails! My first concoction will involve rum, possibly blueberry rum. I also bought some St. Germain which I can’t get in my town. This stuff is sensational. It’s a liqueur made from elderflowers. I’m so excited about playing around with some recipes. I spotted a cucumber vodka which I thought sounded interesting, so that came home with me too. Has anyone ever tired it?


Buy – Like the rest of the world, I’ve become super obsessed with colorful paper straws. Given my plan to experiment with new cocktails, I obviously need a variety of straws. Right? I found an Etsy site, KitChenKitChenFun which has pretty much every color and pattern you could want. I also just noticed that they have gold and silver. Looks like I’ll be ordering more! 


Decorate – I’m finally getting my kitchen in order after having new floors installed this winter. I’ve been slacking majorly on this project and it’s time to replace and paint trim. I picked up a few fabulous pillows at Target from their Threshold collection. This is one of my favorites. It reminds me of a red, pink, and gray marble. It will match my kitchen perfectly! 


Chill – Last but not least, check out this photo-worthy moment in the life of my cat, Sebastian. He was just chillin’ on the newel post of my stairs for a good ten minutes. He seriously thinks he is the king of this house. Well, come to think of it, he kind of is.


Hope you had a sunny weekend! What fun things did you do or find?

Antique – Yesterday I had a chance to sneak away and go antiquing with my mom. We headed up to Salamanca, New York which we knew had some great shops. We had a blast even though I didn’t buy anything and my mom only got two plates. It seemed that this time around everything was […]




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Potted Succulents

Yesterday, immediately after hitting the publish button on my post, I hopped in my car and went in search of some color for my outdoor shelves. They were driving me nuts so I stopped at a local hardware store and found these small, colorful pots. Aren’t they adorable? I then snuck over to Walmart and picked up some of my favorite succulents. This morning, before the rain started, I got my hands in the dirt (finally) and potted all eight succulents. I will probably have to bring them inside this weekend because the temperature is expected to drop below freezing, but I’m just happy that spring planting season has begun. Plus, I now have a delightful pop of color on my back porch. I will admit I’m a little nervous about having succulents because I usually end up killing them. I don’t know why. I blame it on their fickleness. (It has nothing to do with my inability to water plants properly.) Also, this area of the house doesn’t get loads of sunlight, so that’s another thing working against them. Ack, whatever. They are just plants, right? It’s worth a shot! I’ll keep you posted.

Wishing you all a weekend filled with the people and things you love. 

Yesterday, immediately after hitting the publish button on my post, I hopped in my car and went in search of some color for my outdoor shelves. They were driving me nuts so I stopped at a local hardware store and found these small, colorful pots. Aren’t they adorable? I then snuck over to Walmart and […]




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Do you remember the wall planter I created last summer for my hens and chicks? Well, it hung outside on the wall all winter long, and I am happy to report – she survived!

A few weeks ago when it warmed up a bit, I took the planter off the wall and gave it a really good soaking with the hose. The plants were looking a little brown and sad at the time, but in a few short days they really came back to life. There is so much new growth. Those mama hens had a lot of little chicks over the winter. From what I understand, these suckers are pretty hardy and can survive most conditions. I give them credit because I barely survived this past winter. 

 

Anyway, remember what it looked like when I first started?

And now. What a difference!

In case you missed it last year, you might want to check out how I made the outdoor wall shelves here. Then you can see how I put together the planter here. I also talked about how I water it here.

 After I give the porch a good scrubbing, I’m going to get these shelves dressed for the season! Bring on the sunshine, Mother Nature!

How did your plants survive the winter? What are your plans for sprucing up your porch decor for the warm months ahead?

Do you remember the wall planter I created last summer for my hens and chicks? Well, it hung outside on the wall all winter long, and I am happy to report – she survived! A few weeks ago when it warmed up a bit, I took the planter off the wall and gave it a […]




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*This giveaway has ended. Congrats to the winner Kelly L!!

Thank so much to all that entered. 

Don’t forget to join IBC every Wednesday for Hump Day Giveaway! 


It’s Wednesday again! I am thrilled that you like the idea of a weekly giveaway. Though I kind of assumed you would. I already have some amazing prizes lined up for the next couple weeks. You are going to love them.


I’m especially excited about today’s giveaway. When I was in New York City a few weeks ago for the Buick Event, I met up with a new friend who happens to work with KitchenAid. How awesome is that!? 

So today’s giveaway comes from the wonderful people at KitchenAid! (Sending lots of love and thanks to them!) Valued at $250, the KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor slices, shred, chops, purees, and even kneads dough! Amazing, right? It’s also available in silver, red, black or white. The winner will get to choose one of the four colors. Love that. You can read more about this culinary companion here.


As usual I will be using Rafflecopter to manage this weekly giveaway because it makes the process super easy for me. The widget will appear below; just give it some time to load. If you want to see a video or read more about how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway, click here.


All right, let’s do this!


To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below. (Those viewing this in an email or blog reader will need to visit the actual blog post by clicking here. The widget may not appear if you are on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.) Again, please allow a few moments for it to appear. Answer the question: What would you make with your new KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor? Bonus entries available for following along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and BlogLovin’.



a Rafflecopter giveaway



While comments below are always appreciated. You must use the Rafflecopter widget above to be entered to win. Thanks and Good Luck!







Thanks to my friends at KitchenAid for providing this prize. This giveaway is available to readers located in the United States. You must be over the age of 18 to win. Void where prohibited. This giveaway will end Monday, April 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm EDT. The winner be randomly selected and will be named in a post. I was not compensated to host this giveaway. As always, my opinions are my own. 

*This giveaway has ended. Congrats to the winner Kelly L!! Thank so much to all that entered.  Don’t forget to join IBC every Wednesday for Hump Day Giveaway!  It’s Wednesday again! I am thrilled that you like the idea of a weekly giveaway. Though I kind of assumed you would. I already have some amazing […]




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Okay. Seriously. Mother Nature, I am completely ready for spring. Love, Michael


I don’t know what things are like in your neck of the woods. The winter chill is still in the air here in Central PA. I am so anxious to get outdoors and start planting, but unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating. Of course, what’s happening outside doesn’t stop me from dreaming inside where it’s warm and cozy. 



Today I’m starting a new IBC series called The Curated Eight. With spring (and summer) on my mind, I found eight amazingly unique herb gardens. And while I can’t yet get outside to plant, I can certainly do some planning for the days ahead. Let’s take a look and see what I found.


1. Short on space? Go up! Plant your herbs in an old cloth shoe caddy. You can have a living wall without the cost of those expensive wall planters. Get all of the how-to details from Birds and Blooms.




2. One of my favorite bloggers, Stefanie of Brooklyn Limestone also created a vertical herb garden. Not only does it look and function gorgeously, it doubles as a privacy wall. Love it!



3. Wood pallets can be turned into anything – even herb gardens!



4. If you have access to wine bottle boxes, then this is the project for you. Michelle of Miss Stitch a Wish built an amazing herb garden on her deck with old wine bottle boxes. How cute! She even stamped old silverware to use as garden makers!



5. Stacey from Not Just a Housewife brought her herb garden inside with this adorable wall-mounted mason jar display. How fun is that!?


6. I’m also loving this portable herb garden from Jen of Insideways. She used an old soda crate to create a compact garden. This would be easy to bring inside when you’re cooking. After you’ve snipped off the herbs you need, you just set it back outside. So convenient! 



7. Kate (who I recently met in New York City) of Wit & Delight repurposed vintage tea tins to create an herb garden on her windowsill.  



8. This collection wouldn’t be complete without a hanging garden. Jacky of Small Home & Garden Love used old seed starting tins to make a vertical hanging garden. This is a great project for anyone who has limited space.



That’s it! Hope you enjoyed this edition of The Curated Eight. What unique ways do you garden at home? Will you be giving any of these herb garden ideas a try?



In other news … we have a winner! Congrats to Kim Barrett. Kim won a Kindle Fire HD in IBC’s Hump Day Giveaway Week 1. Stop back tomorrow to enter a new and fabulous giveaway! 

Okay. Seriously. Mother Nature, I am completely ready for spring. Love, Michael I don’t know what things are like in your neck of the woods. The winter chill is still in the air here in Central PA. I am so anxious to get outdoors and start planting, but unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating. Of […]




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Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month? That is one month-long celebration that I can get on board with! Ever since my visit to Chicago with Cracker Barrel cheese, I’ve been so excited to get in the kitchen and experiment.

One of my favorite cheeses is pepper jack. I love a little heat every now and then. One of Cracker Barrel‘s newest cheeses is jalapeño. In my opinion, it closely resembles traditional pepper jack. Last night I had a little craving, so I indulged a  bit (hence the open package). It was fantastic. Super rich and full of flavor without being too spicy. But you don’t have to trust me on this. Cheese judges from across the world have honored Cracker Barrel. In my opinion, the jalapeño also has amazing flavor. Anyway, this got my brain working and my mouth watering.

Using skills I learned at the food pairing session, I came up with the combination of jalapeño cheese, tart green apples, and bacon. Sounds pretty fabulous, right?

Well, believe me on this one … it is! Apples on grilled cheese are pretty much the best thing ever. The slight sweetness paired with the spicy jalapeño is nothing short of magic. Plus, grilled cheese is one of the easiest things to make. So if you are clueless on what to make for dinner, this is it!

Check out the recipe below:

Jalapeño Bacon Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Here’s what you will need:

1 tablespoon butter
2 slices of whole wheat bread
4-5 slices of Cracker Barrel Jalapeno Cheese
1/2 tart green apple, cored and sliced
2-3 strips bacon, cooked

Let’s get cooking:

Heat a pan over medium heat.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread, place one slice in the pan buttered side down, top with half of the cheese, the apple, bacon, the remaining cheese and finally the other slice of bread with the buttered side facing up.

Grill until golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.

So what do you think? Will you be giving this fun take on grilled cheese a try?

I am so excited and honored to be selected by BlogHer and Kraft Foods to be an ambassador for Cracker Barrel cheese. While I have been compensated for my time, my opinions are my own.

Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month? That is one month-long celebration that I can get on board with! Ever since my visit to Chicago with Cracker Barrel cheese, I’ve been so excited to get in the kitchen and experiment. One of my favorite cheeses is pepper jack. I love a little […]




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A Colorful New Adventure

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It seems like people are painting everything and anything these days. I’m excited to say that color is officially back and I couldn’t be more excited! Whether you are looking through your favorite catalog, magazine, or blog, you’ll quickly notice that bright happy colors are popping up everywhere. With this color revolution, it can be a bit daunting to determine which colors to use. where to use them, what colors go together, or how much color is enough. Well, have no fear. this is where I can help. Or should I say, WE can help. 


I am so tickled to announce that I have been selected to join Glidden Paint and their amazing team of bloggers at My Colortopia. If you are unfamiliar with it, My Colortopia is an incredible source for color inspiration. Visit the blog, ask a question, view before and afters, and try the fabulous color tools. You may also be familiar with some of the other bloggers on the team. I feel honored to be in their company. 


Anyway, go check it out. The site is chock full of wonderful ideas and inspiration. Be sure to stop by my little page and say hello! I am thrilled to have you join me on this colorful new adventure!

Have a happy weekend! Any fun plans?




It seems like people are painting everything and anything these days. I’m excited to say that color is officially back and I couldn’t be more excited! Whether you are looking through your favorite catalog, magazine, or blog, you’ll quickly notice that bright happy colors are popping up everywhere. With this color revolution, it can be […]




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A few weeks ago I was just minding my own business when the alert on my phone went off, politely informing me I had a new email. I expected it to be a spam comment notification from the blog, but soon realized it was a message from one of my absolute favorite companies – CB2. They wanted to work together on a little styling project. Oh snap! Talk about a major freak out. After collecting myself, I quickly responded, “Absolutely!” and the rest is history! 

The plan was very simple. They would send me their colorful Go-cart Yellow Rolling Table, and I would style it in three ways. Pretty cool, right? Well, the day is finally here, and CB2 has shared my styling with the world – so I thought I would do the same here on IBC.

I basically used what I had in my house to style the piece in various ways. For all three examples, I considered style and functionality. Let’s take a look.

Style: This display is all about color. Some of my favorite design books in a rainbow palette gives an eclectic feel. The orchid adds drama and movement.

Function: An antique brass ashtray acts as a collect-all for jewelry. A unique lamp provides much needed lighting for late night reading.

 

Style: Clearly, I’m into gold these day. This pig bookend (also from CB2) has both style and whimsy! More books create a cooler color story and help to tie in the other accessories in the room.

Function: I kept the top fairly clutter free to allow for remote controls, snacks, and beverages. A vintage soda crate acts almost like a drawer for keeping things contained.

 

Style: An inexpensive bouquet of tulips brings life and color. Keeping similar items on their own shelves means organized interest.

Function: A simple tray on top keeps the liquor bottles looking neat, tidy, and purposeful. Perfectly sized-shelves are ideal for storing glasses and mixers.

I would say I successfully completed the challenge. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to end up using the piece in my house. Right now it’s acting as a makeshift coffee table in my living room.

But, I’d love to know – which look did you like best?


A big thanks to the awesome folks at CB2 for the free cart in exchange for my styling expertise. I was not compensated or required to write this post, I was just over-the-moon excited to share this with all of you. Please note that the opinions, thoughts, and ideas listed above are my own. 

A few weeks ago I was just minding my own business when the alert on my phone went off, politely informing me I had a new email. I expected it to be a spam comment notification from the blog, but soon realized it was a message from one of my absolute favorite companies – CB2. […]




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Explore – Yep, this past weekend I was in New York City again. I can’t tell you enough how much I love that place. There’s something about it that always leaves me feeling inspired. I wish I could afford a little apartment there so I could visit whenever I wanted. This trip had a fair amount of free time, so I did a lot of walking around. On Sunday I spent a good two hours exploring the city. taking pictures (you can see more on Instagram) and videos (you can see those on Vine – @InspiredbyCharm). The sights and sounds are intoxicating. With the near perfect weather, I could have walked and people watched all day.


Dead – But let’s backtrack for a minute. On my way to the airport, which is a three-hour drive from my house, my car gave out on me. I just learned yesterday that the engine is dead. This means that I need a new car. It sounds like good news, but cars are horribly expensive and the timing is not ideal. Bummer.


Celebrity Spotting – Okay, on with my weekend. I nearly peed my pants when I spotted Rocky from The New Normal sitting in my hotel lobby. I really wanted to say hello and get a proper picture, but she was eating and snacking with her family so I didn’t want to interrupt. Even from a creepy stalker distance, it was so exciting to see her.


Decorate – One of my stops included the always-favorite Fishes Eddy. While I would love to buy everything in the store, I was most impressed with all of the white serving ware. I love me a white dish! Set on a beautiful Nantucket red background, it was stunning! Oh, and in case you didn’t know, you can shop Fishes Eddy online


Watch – I also had time to sneak in a Broadway show, Newsies! It was fantastic!  I was lucky enough to get one random seat in the second row. Talk about amazing! And for some reason, I am extra emotional these days and had to fight back tears a few times. Such a fabulous show. Highly recommended.


Eat – Yes, a few great eating experiences happened on this trip, too. I finally managed to get to Eataly. If you haven’t heard of it, Eataly is the work of Mario Batali. It’s an indoor market full of amazing foods and restaurants. You can read all about it here. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have time while you are in the city. I will warn you though, it was packed when I was there. I had a blast and enjoyed my pasta and gelato, but the number of people was kind of crazy. I also went to another well-known restaurant, Shake Shack. A burger, cheese fries, and a strawberry shake. I mean, how can you go wrong?


Friends – My favorite part about all my traveling as of late is meeting such wonderful people. I was especially excited about this trip because I finally got to meet two of my favorite people, Jamielyn of I Heart Naptime and Will of Bright Bazaar. This alone made the trip completely worth it. I’ve chatted with both Jamielyn and Will multiple times online, but meeting them in person is icing on the cake! Will and I pretty much hung out the whole weekend. It was magic!


Hope you had a sunny weekend! What fun things did you do or find?

Explore – Yep, this past weekend I was in New York City again. I can’t tell you enough how much I love that place. There’s something about it that always leaves me feeling inspired. I wish I could afford a little apartment there so I could visit whenever I wanted. This trip had a fair amount […]




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I am super excited to announce that HomeGoods has just relaunched their blog. You can read more about it here. I’m extremely pleased and happy to also tell you that I am one of their bloggers. I have been a fan of HomeGoods for years. Having the opportunity to blog for them is nothing short of a dream come true. The new blog is amazing, so be sure to stop by.





I already have several posts up, including my blogger introduction, tips for decorating with air plants, and ten unique nightstands. Your comments are always appreciated. You can even favorite a post by clicking on the little star near the comments at the bottom of a post. So fun! 




Head on over, check it out, and let me know what you think. I’m trying to come up with an idea for a post series on the HomeGoods blog, but I haven’t figured out what to do yet. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.


Hope you are having an fantastic week! 

I am super excited to announce that HomeGoods has just relaunched their blog. You can read more about it here. I’m extremely pleased and happy to also tell you that I am one of their bloggers. I have been a fan of HomeGoods for years. Having the opportunity to blog for them is nothing short […]




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I just realized this past weekend that it’s been over a month since my last A-Year-of-Yeast post. Can you believe it? This month has been pretty busy, and it completely slipped my mind. This week I’m actually making a recipe I already wrote about on IBC. 

I made it a few years ago for Easter, and my mom requested  that I make it again this year. Talk about perfect timing. Not only did it cover my Easter dinner contribution, but it doubles as a blog post.

You’ve probably seen these pull-apart breads floating around the Internet for a while now. There are all kinds: pumpkin, cinnamon sugar, pizza, etc. The list goes on and on. I actually have an idea for a new one, but I’m not sure how it will work. I’ll save that for next week.

If you love lemon, I promise that you will love this. And I’m telling you, if I can put this together, so can you. I think it looks and sounds more complicated than it actually is.

Yes, you have to measure the dough. Yes, I used a tape measure. That’s how everyone measures their dough, right? Other than that, I promise you it’s easy as pie. Well, bread.

I discovered this recipe at Clockwork Lemon who found it at 17 and Baking who got it from Flo Baker. Lots of wonderfully talented ladies. If you have some extra time, stop by and say hello.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Sweet Yeast Dough

2 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour


1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) whole milk


2 ounces unsalted butter


1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water


1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lemon Sugar Filling

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar


3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)


1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest


2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing

3 ounces cream cheese, softened


1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) powdered sugar


1 tablespoon whole milk


1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Let’s get baking:

We’ll start with the Sweet Yeast Dough. Mix two cups flour, the sugar, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan or in the microwave, combine the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat, add the water, and let rest a minute until just warm. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer, and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30-45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons of flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about one minute. Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour only if the dough is too sticky to work. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place (about 70°F) for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. (An indentation made with your finger should keep its shape.)

Meanwhile, make the Lemon Sugar Filling. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. This will draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan.

Gently deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ X 12″ rectangle. Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly and liberally over the dough.

Use a pizza cutter (or knife if you’re like me) to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ X 4″. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle. Lightly press sugar mixture into dough to keep it in place. Then, top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ X 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar.

Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ X 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan so that the cut edges are up, side by side. it might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place (70°F) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30-50 minutes. (When you gently press the dough with your finger, the indentation should stay.)

Bake the loaf until the top is golden brown, 30-35 minutes. [Mine took longer than this, and it was still a little doughy in the middle even though the top had browned. I recommend using a cake tester to make sure it’s done, and covering the top with foil if it’s browning too quickly.] Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Cream Cheese Icing. Using a wooden spoon in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth.

Flip the loaf over onto a cooling rack. Then flip the loaf onto another rack so that it’s right side up. Spread the top of the warm bread with the cream cheese icing, using a pastry brush to fill in all the cracks.

 

Have you made any of these pull-apart breads yet? Which one(s) do you recommend?

 

I just realized this past weekend that it’s been over a month since my last A-Year-of-Yeast post. Can you believe it? This month has been pretty busy, and it completely slipped my mind. This week I’m actually making a recipe I already wrote about on IBC.  I made it a few years ago for Easter, and […]




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Weekend Wanderlust No. 9

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Celebrate – This Weekend Wanderlust is a little different because I wanted to tell you all about my recent trip to NYC. As I mentioned previously, I was the winning blogger of Buick’s Pinboard to Dashboard program that began last fall. This past Wednesday evening at the launch of the New York Auto Show, Buick held a party in my honor to unveil their design’s takes on my inspiration. 

Design – These are a few of the interiors and exteriors the Buick Color and Trim designers came up with based on my pinboard. The designs were fabulous. I felt that the “Day at the Beach” design most represented my vision and feel for the car.

Party – I was so excited when I heard that Buick invited all five finalists to the event. Not only are these gals some of the most talented in the blogging world, they have quickly become new friends. It was a joy spending time with them. From left to right: Jessica Sturdy of Bows and SequinsKatie Rodgers of Paper FashionShannon Ables of Simply Luxurious Life, and Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen. I also was super excited to meet and hang with Justin Livingston of Scout Sixteen. He is so fantastic and talented. I’m sure I made a fool of myself as I could barely form words in his presence. Thanks for everything, Justin!

Wear – I decided to rock out a bow tie for the event. This is the second time I’ve worn one in my life – unless my Mom had me wear one when I was little, which I obviously don’t remember. What do you think of the look? I also found these amazing loafers from Zara. They have this cool neon green / yellow cording. I’m so in love.

Visit – Before and after the party, I had a chance to explore the city and some of my favorite places. I did some shopping at H&M, stopped by Fishes Eddy, and stumbled upon Anthropologie. This city is so inspiring that I can barely take it all in. How about those cabinets? Amazing! I also randomly found myself by some pretty famous buildings. I still have no sense of direction when I’m in NYC.

Thankful – I can’t say it enough, but I am hugely grateful to the entire Buick team, especially Molly and Phil. This was such an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will certainly cherish and remember forever. Thank you so very much!

Hope you had a stunning weekend! What exciting things did you do or find?



I also wanted to let you know that this Tuesday, April 2 I’m participating in the Spring Decorating Twitter Party with my friends at Better Homes and Gardens. 

The party is being hosted by the fabulous Kate of Censtational Girl. The other BHG Style Spotters are joining in as well. We will be answering all of your questions and BHG will give away $300 in prizes. The party will be from 7-8pm CST. Hope to see you there! You can follow me on Twitter @InspiredByCharm



Celebrate – This Weekend Wanderlust is a little different because I wanted to tell you all about my recent trip to NYC. As I mentioned previously, I was the winning blogger of Buick’s Pinboard to Dashboard program that began last fall. This past Wednesday evening at the launch of the New York Auto Show, Buick […]




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