Friday, February 28, 2014

Craigslist Alert!

I haven't posted a Craigslist alert in years. I barely look at the website these days because the furniture category has been taken over by stores (some even post so they come up if you limit returns to "by owner."). However, a few listings jumped out at me last night and I thought I'd share them.

1. Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams Slipper Chairs - $300 for the pair
 They look like they are in great shape and the fabric is described as having a blue stripe. Aren't they cute? 

2. Bamboo Wingback Chairs - $600 for the pair
These were posted 10 days ago. I can't believe they are still available.  They are over in Richmond and I think they are worth the drive!

3. Thomasville Dining Room Table -  $175
Keeping with the bamboo theme, here's a pretty dining table that has two leaves. Without the leaves, it's round and with them, it's 80" long. Have you priced dining room tables lately? $175 for a table with leaves is incredible! This one is down at the beach.

4. Restoration Hardware Marble Side Tables - $200 for a pair
The description says these are heavy and I remember thinking they were super heavy when I saw them at the RH Outlet in Leesburg a long time ago. These are over in Goochland County.

5. Wood, Glass, and Brass Cocktail Table - ???
I normally don't click on ads that say $1 because it always means the person wants much, much more. For some reason, this ad came up in a search. The person is selling several items in one ad, but doesn't give individual prices. Still, I think the table is worth a phone call! It's it interesting? This is right here in Charlottesville.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Eggshell Paint on the Ceiling

Flat paint goes on ceilings. Everyone knows that. I decided to buck the advice and NOT use flat paint on the ceilings in our new-to-us house.

When we first toured this place during an open house, I called it "the cave house." It felt dark and dirty. Part of that was the fact that the home had sat empty for over a year. The ceilings were also textured with swirls of plaster (not popcorn) and I think that made the ceilings feel lower than they were.

Once I attacked every surface I could find with diluted bleach, we had the ceilings sanded and refinished so they were smooth. I know some people would be horrified by removing them, but they just aren't our style. The rooms definitely felt a little better when that process was done. But the ceilings still felt low, which was odd since they are the same height as the rooms in the condo were.

I surfed the web for a little while and found the most lovely blog, For the Love of a House. Joan at FTLOAH (okay, that doesn't really work) has painted the ceilings in every room of her gorgeous home with pearl finish paint (from the Regal line). The effect is warm and beautiful. In a prior home, she had discovered that the slight sheen made her rooms appear two inches taller. She talked about being admonished by painters for her choice, but she sticks to her lovely pearl finish paint.

Joan's posts gave me the confidence I need to put some sheen on the ceilings. I started with her suggested Benjamin Moore Regal paint in the satin finish. By the third time I put my roller in the pan, I remembered why I switched to Benjamin Moore's Aura paint back in 2008. Painting with regular paint is tough. It's messy. It's not much fun.

I used the gallon on two bedrooms and while I wasn't thrilled with the coverage (I'm seriously considering doing them over with Aura in an eggshell finish), I absolutely LOVED the effect. It was hard for me to capture the slight glow in photos, but here are my best two shots.

At some point, I'll have to try again when there is more natural light in the guest room.

Like Joan, I think I'm sold on using a little sheen on the ceilings. I love the look and the two bedrooms definitely feel a little taller now that they are reflecting a little light.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The 2014 Bacon Explosion

I very, very rarely talk about food on here, but this post has become a bit of a tradition.

Back in 2010, a group of folks I know started getting really excited about bacon. Anything bacon related inspired massive discussions. A barbeque website wrote about something called the bacon explosion and people went wild over it. The recipe even got picked up by the New York Times. Marc was so fascinated that I made one for a Super Bowl party. It was such a hit that I said I would make it again, but only for Super Bowl parties so this unhealthy beast of a dish would be split many ways and we wouldn't have any leftovers.

I managed to document the 2010, 2011, and 2013 bacon explosions. The 2014 installment was already shared on Instagram, but here is the process in detail.

First, because the bacon explosion is pretty bad for you, I slice it into thin pieces and serve it on biscuits. The morning of the Super Bowl, I bake the biscuits and set them aside.

Every year, we try a different kind of bacon and a different kind of pork. This year, we went for traditional breakfast sausage from the Whole Foods butcher and the bacon that looked like it had the most meat (and the least amount of fat, but that's probably futile).

The first step is to weave a quilt out of the bacon. I have done this on plastic wrap and wax paper in the past. The wax paper seems to work best for me.

I usually sprinkle a barbecue rub on the bacon. In the past, I used a store-bought rub, but I decided to make my own this year. I used a recipe from Bobby Flay, which came up with pretty high rankings when I googled for recipes.

A second sheet of wax paper isn't really necessary, but it helps when you're trying to assemble everything. 

I spread the sausage over most of the second sheet of wax paper and then add toppings. I use fresh peppers, onions, and shredded cheese.

A drizzle of barbecue sauce goes on top.

 Here's where the wax paper comes in handy. You need to roll the sausage and toppings up and get them to the edge of the bacon quilt. The wax paper helps keep the roll tight.

Once the sausage is at the edge of the bacon, the wax paper can slide out of the way. Now the entire thing gets rolled up. The first piece of wax paper helps with this step. I turn the edges of the bacon strips in to keep things neat.

The whole log gets placed into a foil-lined pan. The foil is critical because so much fat is going to drip off during the cooking process. I periodically open the open and use a turkey baster to pull some of the fat out of the dish.

I baste the log with some more barbecue sauce, but this isn't totally necessary.

I cook the explosion on very low heat (around 260-275 degrees) for several hours. When the internal temperature hits 165 degrees, the bacon explosion is done.

By kickoff, the explosion is usually ready to be sliced and served. I have always thought this thing was a little gross, but all the meat lovers seem to enjoy it. I have to admit that I get a kick over how excited people are when it's time to slice into this thing.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dressing the Bedroom Windows, Part 2

After hanging some custom drapes and searching for the right shade of bamboo blinds (which included one unfortunate order with Overstock that resulted in orange wood arriving on our doorstep), I found a better set of bamboo blinds at Lowe's. The Levelor company has a cutting machine at our Lowe's and an employee took one set that was too long down to size in minutes.

We were so amazed by the machine that did the cutting that the Lowe's employee's demeanor totally changed while he was working with us. One moment, it seemed ready to be done with his long day and the next, he was grinning as we snapped pictures of our newly-cut blinds. I bet he was amused that something so routine as putting a box in a machine was so entertaining to us.

The bedroom where the blinds are going has two windows and though the other window needed a 35" inch shade, we bought a 36" off the shelve and didn't bother having it cut down. The drapes would cover the ends of the blinds and one extra inch wasn't going to be a big deal. I figured a little more light blocking would be great.

Once home, I laid out the hardware that came with the blinds and was a little perplexed. Each bracket had four holes in it. There were four brackets. There were nine screws in the package. Nine screws for 16 holes.

Both boxes had the same hardware in them (the 36" blinds and the blinds that had originally been 60"). This is really strange, but I immediately thought of one of the first brain teasers I ever did as a kid, about securing four tires to a car when one tire's lug nuts were lost. I did a little googling and came across a post by Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick in which she said she only uses two screws in the brackets.I wasn't crazy about the idea, so I picked out some screws that were a close match from my tool box.

Bamboo blinds are super fast to hang. In the fifteen minutes it took to get them up, I kept thinking that I would encounter some major problem at some point. It couldn't be that easy, right?

Well, it was that easy.

I don't love where that cord is, but I'm guessing that the pulley system has to be far enough away from the edges to allow Levelor's machine to cut the blinds.

The blinds have been up for a couple weeks and I'm really happy with them. The pulley system works well and they block a nice amount of light. They are by no means blackout lined, but they make the room dark enough that it's hard to get out of bed some mornings.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dressing the Bedroom Windows, Part 1

If you had told me that it would take me months to select and hang window treatments in our bedroom, I would have laughed at you. We moved into this place in late June and I had visions of a very productive summer being full of projects. I guess the summer was full of projects, but they were mostly behind-the-scenes type things that don't make for the best blog content.

In August, I selected a beautiful, coral fabric at UFab and had them make drapes for the windows in the bedroom we are currently using (which will eventually be a guest bedroom). That purchase is what sent me to buy a sewing machine. I multiplied the cost of the drapes by the number of windows in the house and decided that I needed to finally learn to make proper drapes. Back in the condo, I dipped my toe in when I converted rod-pocket drapes to pinch pleats, but I want to learn to do more. Of course, buying my sewing machine was my introduction to embroidery work, my new hobby.

I posted the drapes to Instagram, but thought I'd wait until I had blinds or roman shades up to blog about them.

Since the furniture in the room is mostly dark wood from our old bedroom, I thought that some wide, bamboo blinds might look nice behind the coral drapes. I'm sure half the design blog world instantly thinks of Joni Webb's use of bamboo shades in her home and in the Albans House.

I originally bought a set of bamboo shades from For some reason, I have no luck with that company. When they arrived, the color wasn't the rich, chocolate brown that had been down in the picture on their website. They were more of an orange brown. There wasn't enough contrast with the drapes, so I had to send them back.

Walking in Lowe's one day, I saw some bamboo that had potential. It was thick (not the tiny sticks) and the signs said it would be cut on the spot to the right dimension. I had my doubts. Several times over the next few weeks, I put the blinds in my cart and then returned them to the shelf. Finally, a Lowe's gift card made me take the plunge.

We took the 60' wide blinds to the salesperson and told them we wanted them cut down to 50' wide. He took us to the next aisle where there was a huge Levelor machine.

He stuck the entire box in the machine and started entering in the information about the blinds. I was freaking out, but I guess the way Levelor packs their products, they can be trimmed right in the box without destroying hardware. When the staff member put the machine in gear, you could hear two saws working on the ends of the box. Here's the very end of the process:

Amazing! Part 2 is coming tomorrow...

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