Saturday, September 29, 2012

Without my Norm

Brother Scott, Myself and brother Norman Just a Month Ago
I lost my brother today. My sweet, kind, talented, handsome brother is lost to me now, forever. I think tonight the pain of loosing him might kill me too. Comrades forever; fellow creators, inspiring each other, confidants in all things, children together, adults together, the lines blurred; soul fragments linked in the dance, forever linked in the dance.

 I have loved this little freckle-face for fifty-five years. What will I do without my Norm.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake ~ for Mom

 White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Momma's Comin'

I envy those of you living close to your mother. My mother lives an excruciatingly long distance away. So when when we can get her to come West, we go into celebration mode! What better way to begin celebrating than with cheesecake! This is a wonderful recipe from Fine Cooking (you can find the link below). They offer a basic recipe then several variations. I have made the Amaretto cheesecake several times and it is divine. It lasts in the fridge for days, travels well and freezes even better. Enjoy!

This one's for you Mom! Love you! Can't wait to spend time together!

 White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reclaimed Palette Daybed

We scored some very nice heat treated oak palettes (lookout! these puppies are heavy!)

Checking out the spot on the patio for the new daybed...deciding on size and placement

When I was ready to begin this project, the cushion you see here was sold out. So, being a pit bull...I found three ottoman cushions on sale from Pottery Barn in the same design so I made an adjustment and designed a super long daybed. Large enough for me to recline and hubby to sit and read at the same time.

Since our cushions were square, Mike decided to square the palettes by removing and trimming the boards. I know this seems to defeat the purpose of using them "as is" but it was necessary to keep the cushions and palette base on an even keel. Oh, btw, ├╝ber talented husband Michael did all the hard work while I played with of the many qualities I love about him.

 Galvanized pipe and a flange for the "arms" (soooo NOT expensive and won't rust)

We used Luan to create a "clean" barrier between the raw board and the cushions. I didn't want my nice new cushions to end up with sap and splinters. Mike adhered, then nailed the board to the surface.

He added four locking wheels to each of the three sections and.....drum roll please!

Voila! The great thing about our can wheel the sections around to create different configurations and it is so easy to move for cleaning. With the wheels doesn't budge. Also, we could customize the size, as most daybeds we found are too short, only 5' 5' and too narrow.
Finished size: 109"L x 32"W x 17"h.

So...did this project save any money??
Keeping the budget (or lack thereof) in mind, I was determined to keep the cost down. Palettes, $0 cost; hardware, including screws, etc., about $30; the locking wheels from Lowe's $48 (we already had 4); the cushions on sale from Pottery Barn, 3 for $300....pricey, I know, but they are made for the outdoors and covered with Sunbrella fabric and they were exactly what I wanted.

I found the paisley pillow on sale from Pottery Barn for $13. and the birdcage pillow for $9 (end of season!). Striped bird pillow, done by a Madrid artist, cost $20. (It was my color inspiration). The two button-down linen pillows are from West Elm for $48. (I already had the Euro pillow inserts). I found a wonderful company called PillowsXpress on line and had them custom make the bolsters and one of the pillows. The price for two 32" x 10" bolsters? Only $45.00! I bought extra covers for only $12 more. I may tea-stain them to tone down the bright white..haven't decided yet (feedback, welcome).

The rug is a 100% wool, a yard sale find for $10. and the curtain is a cotton painter's drop cloth, hung with clip rings on a cable. Cost for two curtains, rings and cable, plus hardware...$50. So, less than $600 total, including rug and curtains...not bad when you consider that the Pottery Barn price for the 5' outdoor daybed with mattress alone was over $1,400.

Now we are thinking of other uses for the palette wood; a wheeled storage box side-table for the pillows. A small deck for another section of the yard.....!

Didn't Michael do a great job getting the frame all squared up! We now have a cozy daybed from which to enjoy our 320 days of sunshine/year!! Thank you honey! If you have questions about building your own, shoot me an email...happy to help. Cheers and have a relaxing weekend! Victoria

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flying Bean Salad

What happens when you use long salad servers in a small bowl? Usually nothing, but I have a special knack for creating a mess in the kitchen, so when I used these long salad servers to serve my bean salad out of this small bowl I accidentally hit the end of the handle guessed it...the food catapulted into the air landing...well, everywhere. Fortunately my husband has an amazing sense of humor and the need to clean so while we were picking pieces of bean salad off the ceiling he christened this dish forever, "flying bean salad".


I look forward all year to making this wonderful salad at the height of the summer growing season when I have fresh corn, cooked and cut off the cob, fresh green beans, parboiled, super sweet cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.

Flying Bean Salad
Serves 6
2 or 3 ears of fresh corn on the cob
1 lb fresh green beans trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into approx. 2" pieces

I cook the corn on the cob, remove it from the pot to drain and cool then par-boil the green beans
for about 3 minutes in the same water, don't overcook, you still want a bit of a crunch. Rinse the beans in cold water, drain the spread them out on a flat surface to cool and dry.
Cut the corn off the cob. Let it all cool.

1/4 cup of sliced red onion
Sliced..see the photo above...then soak it in ice water for a bit to get the sting out...then drain

1 cup sweet cherry tomatoes, garden fresh if possible, sliced in half
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil torn into bite-sized pieces

1 clove garlic, mashed together with a pinch of salt (I use a mortar but you can use the flat side of your chef's knife)
1/4 cup of your best red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of your best extra virgin olive oil 
Whisk the mashed garlic and vinegar together in a small bowl, let it set for a few minutes, then whisk in the olive oil.

When all your veggies are drained and cooled, combine in a large bowl...with appropriately sized serving utensil!! Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving toss with the vinaigrette.

Be prepared to make this one a favorite!...and um, try to leave out the "flying" part, unless you actually enjoy cleaning beans off your ceiling fan.
Cheers!! Victoria

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line

This project is finally a wrap! You can check out the beginnings here. I thought I would be done last week, silly me!
I can finally say finis!!

If you are visiting me for the first time; the surface of my vintage German schrunk was not usable. I came up with a plan to cover this totally unidentifiable material with Italian glass tiles.

What in the world is this stuff? With the slightest bit of water the surface bubbled and stained. UGH! 

I had always envisioned this piece as a great place to store china, stemware, cookbooks and liquor. So when I was gifted a variety of Italian glass tiles I thought, "perfect, this is the answer to resurfacing the top for use as a bar!" However, I knew I could not tile directly onto this uneven material, so opted to tile onto Masonite sections which Michael cut to fit the top. These I installed onto the surface then grouted as one piece.

The tiles are irregular so I had to "justify" the design one tile at a time.

I had to lay-out the design completely, not only to justify the spacing, but to work with the color palette as I had a limited supply of each hue.

 Installing the tiled Masonite

Weighted and drying.

To deal with the exposed mounting board, Mike custom-mixed an acrylic color the same value as the wood and carefully painted the edge.

Grouting! I always find it a bit daunting to throw mud all over my hard work!

 The last step was to seal the easy, brush on, wipe off process.

The surface has a slightly uneven, hand done look....but still flat enough to set a bottle or a glass without worry. Best feature? Waterproof!!!

I am so pleased with the results!

Top cabinet: Stemware and dishes for entertaining, extra bottles of liquor
Drawers: Fancy silverware, candles, napkins
Bottom cupboards: Vases, extra tall liquor bottles, cookbooks and platters

There is nothing like completing a project, especially one with such a long shelf life!! What are you working on? Do you have a project in the works? If so, may your days to finish line be short!
Cheers! Victoria

Monday, September 10, 2012

Squash Anyone?

So what do you cook when you have a ton of squash and no time? Potato, Squash and Herbed Goat Cheese Gratin, of course!

I discovered this recipe while searching frantically for something wonderful to make with my extra ton of yellow squash. Once you thinly slice the potatoes and squash...a mandolin works best, then you toss the whole thing together, no need to "pretty-fi" the slices, it looks perfectly rustic and yummy!

Squash, Potato and Herbed Goat Cheese Gratin
Serves 6

2 medium yellow squash
4 red potatoes
3 Tbs olive oil
4 oz. dill and herb goat cheese (try other flavors too!)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh Basil, thinly sliced

Spread some of the olive oil around the bottom and sides of an 8" casserole pan
Place 1/3 of the sliced potatoes and squash in the pan, crumble 1/2 the goat cheese evenly over the veggies, make another layer of potatoes and squash, crumble the remaining goat cheese, add the
last third of potatoes and squash and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the milk on top, top with the Parmesan cheese, cover and bake in a 400° oven. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.
The potatoes will absorb the milk, so watch that it doesn't burn dry.
Top with sliced basil
Enjoy! Now, back to the tile project!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Project from ....!

Have you ever started a project thinking, "Oh, this will be easy, no prob, piece of cake..."? I know you have. So you will understand the title of this blog post.

I have a sweet piece of furniture I brought back with me from Germany years ago. It's funky, I love it, but I wanted to give it a face lift so I had the brilliant idea to tile the surface and transform it into a bar for my dinning room. I was gifted these tiles, wonderful, right?  They are glass, they are Italian and they are beautiful, what a great idea. Not wanting to sound ungrateful, the tiles had been stored in a garage so they were...ah, dusty, that's New Mexico dust, one month of which is equal to three years of Michigan dust. They were also "paper-backed"... easier to keep them spaced and ready to apply to a kitchen wall, etc.. This would be great if they had not sat in a garage in New Mexico for years baking in the heat, but the paper was crumbling, tearing, let's just say, I had tiles EVERYWHERE! I decided to remove  all the dusty paper but it had literally been baked onto the face of the tiles. What a mess. It took myself and cosmic daughter Heather three days to scrub the paper from each small tile. Then I panicked, worried about maintaining the tile's original spacing, so I had the brilliant idea of taping them together on their "wrong" side with blue painter's tape...mistake!

In the end I had to remove every tile individually from all the tape and paper.  Blue tape misstep...arrggh!

Moving forward, I painted the back of the top cupboard a lovely teal blue. It is subtle and so much nicer than the previous wood color. Note the surface though; it is a black, strange paper-like, bumpy substance attached to the top. I decided I could not tile directly onto this strange surface. What to do? At first I thought I would use a new product that adheres the tiles without mortar to a sponge-like surface that you then grout. After many consultations with my smart husband, I rejected that idea because of my fear of too much movement under the tiles, and returned the product to the big box store.

Frustrated, I was just about ready to toss the whole project when, thankfully, my husband Michael had an idea to create mounting boards, that are then adhered to the top one at a time, then grouted together. But first, I had to lay out every tile...because the tiles, now removed from their paper and changed from the color-blocked design, had to be placed one-by-one to create a pleasing but mixed design. Also, my color palette was limited as were the number to total tiles available. I just had to test the design. Okay, now after months and months of fooling around with this. Finally, I am making progress!

 Testing the design

I am adhering the tiles by back-buttering with liquid nail. I found it easier to control tile placement and mess using this method. The board on the right is fixed, the one of the left...I am working on as you read this! Once I get all the tiles fixed on the boards I will liquid nail the board to the surface of the German ....what? Credenza? Schrunk? (that's the German word)...and then grout the entire surface. At least this is the plan!
So, stay tuned for the reveal. Hopefully by the beginning of next week, fingers crossed please.
...and, um..if you need me, you know where I'll be this weekend! Cheers!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What's Missing?

I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging. The summer has been joyfully busy, beginning with three lovely days in Siena, Italy, followed by teaching watercolor to a stand out group of fun and talented students at our wonderful Sketchbooktours Umbria Italy Retreat. Then on to a spontaneous and luxuriously long visit to San Francisco to reunite with brothers, nephews and a precious cosmic daughter. When at home, I have been immersed in loads of domestic and artistic projects.

I enjoyed taking a break from posting and considered, for a brief moment, retiring my blog. I asked myself some hard questions about why I blog at all. During this time away I have come to realize that daily reflection is a very important part of my life and my personal happiness. Composing on Sixteencakes; pausing to reflect on the positive events, people and joys in my life ultimately cultivates gratitude and a deep appreciation for my many blessings.

It is fitting then that I begin again with the beauty I experience every day in my garden. I am grateful to my dear husband Michael for doing all of the heavy lifting that turns our dry desert environment into my secret garden. Join me on a's nice to be back!

 Third blooming of sages this summer!! Second bloom of butterfly bush!

We Xeriscaped our front yard by creating a berm and landscaping with native desert plants. Water needs are low and just look at the showy flowers!

Desert "Texas Sage" in full bloom.

"Reclaimed" cement birdbath filled to the brim with Purslane.

 I am way into succulents and have started to landscape with them...this is just the beginning!

I am creating a succulent rock garden by the pool; low water, no maintenance and very little mess in the pool!

 Pool landscaping with Purslane..we'll see how they weather this winter.

 The ever blooming hardy Perennial, Lantana in our Xeriscaped backyard. Love it!

 Potted Purslane, I love the multicolored blooms.

 Native winner Desert Verbena

Finally...I harvested all my rainbow chard...and like magic, it has come back! I don't know about you, but the miracle and excitement of growing my own food (especially in the desert) never wears thin.
Have a beautiful day! 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...