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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Best Fudge Cake Ever



I am a chocolate nut.  Anything chocolate is definitely my weakness, and fudge is such a sinful pleasure.  A great piece of cake, a glass of coke and a book.  Best way to take a little break ever.


 Whenever my sweet tooth acts up, I always pull out this little recipe box my precious mom gave me.  It is filled with all of her wonderful recipes that she used constantly.  I also love to see her handwriting on all the cards.  I miss her so much, but such sweet memories.


 The top of the box is just so cute with it's painted design.


This was my favorite cake and the one she always made for my birthday when I was a little girl.


 Dark, moist and fudge goodness.  Soooooooooo yummy.



Chocolate Cake

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. crisco
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. soda
3/4 c. milk
Combine all ingredients and beat for 2 minutes.

Add -

3/4 tsp. baking powder and stir in well, then add
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs - unbeaten
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat 2 more minutes.

Pour into greased and floured pans and bake at 350.

Makes 3 8" layers
large sheetcake or
4 doz. cupcakes.

Baking time depends on the pans you use.  If making the sheetcake, bake approx 30-33 min.

Test with a toothpick to check when done.  Do not over or under bake.

Don't you love the notes about baking time.  She was one of those cooks that rarely measured anything, it was usually a smidge of this and a dash of that. 

Such a great cake, I hope you will try it.

I am joining Designs By Gollum for Foodie Friday.

Thanks for stopping by, I always look forward to your visits.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Inexpensive Ways to Update Any Home



Usually when you buy a new home you get to make a few choices about the finishes.  When we bought ours it was a builder spec, so all of the choices were already made by the builder, and as I've said before, it was definitely basic.  No extra frills or custom features.  I have been on a quest to bring in a few more custom or at least nicer details ever since we moved in.  If you are redoing a home or changing a builder basic, there are a few things that you can do very inexpensively that make a big difference.

I think one of the first things you can do is change the lighting.  Builders put in some of the least expensive lights they can buy, and most are really ugly and just scream cheap.

This is the type of bathroom lights I had when we bought the house.  Home Depot sells them for $11.97.  They look just as cheap and the light they offer is terrible.

I found these replacements at a lighting store in their discontinued section.  Check online, big box stores and all lighting stores you can for discontinued models.  (I know the big mirrors are out for most people, however this is a small bathroom and I like the larger mirror since it makes the space feel bigger.  Maybe a frame.)



These were so ugly with some kind of faux striped two toned finish, but for $16.99, I thought the style and the globe was ok and I could paint them.  They were well made, just a terrible finish.


A little Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint and I have some great looking fixtures.


I also found these ORB drawer pulls at Target.  They were 10 for $9.99.  They give the cabinets a more finished look.

Seems like this is another one of those lights that builders use.  These run $5.97 at HD.  Bedrooms, hallways and toilet areas always seem to have these beauties.




Swapping them out for a more updated flush mount makes a huge difference in the look of any room.  I bought these at Lowe's for $14.97 for the halls and the toilet area in the master bath.


Another area where the lighting is usually less than desireable is in the dining areas.  I shopped Ebay and found this one for my dining room for $19.40.  It was brand new in the box and one that someone didn't want, so they had it for sale, just click and bid.  Of course we all know that yard sales and thrift stores are good sources also.


 This one for the breakfast area was a gift, however I found it online as a discontinued fixture and it was only $69.99.  Both the dining and breakfast rooms now look so much more updated.


Another area that can be updated on a really small budget is the kitchen.  I wanted to add some hardware to the cabinets, however they can be really expensive.  I shopped online and again found some that were really reasonable.  These came from a company called Contemo Living and they were about half the price I saw anywhere else.  I used 3 different sizes so they would coordinate with the size of the doors and drawers.  I used 6" - 8" - and 12".  They cost $2.20 for the 6", $2.80 for the 8" and $3.50 for the 12".  Here you can see the 8" on most of the doors, but I put the 6" on the smaller doors above the micro and the fridge.


This bank of drawers is 24 inches wide, so I used the 12" here. If you're using bar handles, then coordinating the size of the handle to the cabinet or drawer gives them a custom look.



If your cabinets are really light (mine were a natural maple color) and you want them darker, you can achieve that without stripping and restaining the cabinets.  I used Brie Dark Paste Wax on mine and it darkened them about 3 shades and gave them a much warmer look. If you have cabinets with a large grain like oak, you will want to test this on the inside of a door first and see if you like it.  It definitely will enhance the grain of the cabinets and that may not be what you want.  It totally changed the look and warmth of the maple.


Even if you can't change your countertops, a new faucet will totally upgrade the sink area.  I found this faucet at Overstock.com for $89.  If you have priced faucets lately, you know they can run several hundred.  This one is very modern and does have the pull out spray in the neck.  If you are going to replace the sink like I did, be sure to shop around also.  Mine came from the same place as the hardware, Contempo Living.  It is an 18 guage extra deep stainless sink and was only $130.  Compared to others that I saw for up to $400, this was a real bargain and it is fabulous.


If granite is out of the budget for the entire kitchen, think about just the island.  Since this is the centerpiece of the kitchen, you have the illusion of granite countertops.  Most stone yards have remnant pieces that they sell at a reduced price since they are not big enough to do an entire kitchen, so you can have a small area done at a very reasonable price.  Be sure to ask to see their remnants first if you're doing a small area.  Another way to save if you're really on a budget is to forgo the fancy edges on the granite.  I went with the standard bullnose and it also matches better with my other counters.  Also, if you match the color of the granite with the other counters, your eye just flows from one to the other.  The background of my granite is a soft creamy beige that coordinates with the rest of the counters, and yet it still has enough character and movement to be the focal point of the kitchen.


Pay attention to all the small details.  By adding these wood corbels to the counter overhang, it created a much more custom look to the island.  These can be really expensive, however there are several places online that offer them at reasonable prices.  Mine came from Osborne Wood Products and they are quite substantial  They measure 13 x 9 x 2 7/8.  For $29.99 compared to some that I saw in the $80 range of similar size. I painted them a soft camel color like the wall area and then antiqued them a little to enhance the beautiful carving details.  Since these are wood, I could have stained them if the back of the island had been wood.


Another inexpensive and diy upgrade is undercountr lights.  There are several styles to choose from.  I chose the puck lights.  They are really small and put off a really clean light.


 Even without any overhead lights, the counters are totally lit up. 


Still on my to-do list is replacing the really tacky track lighting on the kitchen ceiling.  I would prefer to have the small adjustable can lights, however that is out of the hubs diy ability, but in the very least I could replace the huge cans on the track lights with something smaller.  These are about the least expensive cans you can get for track lighting, so again the reason the builder chose them.  I have seen some really small lights that would work on this same track and that's one possible consideration.  Still deciding.

If you shop carefully you can find all kinds of bargains out there.   I saved hundred without sacrificing quality or the look I wanted just by carefully comparing quality and exploring all avenues available.  If you are looking to update a few things, check out some of my sources, but also tell me about the ones you've found.
I am not paid to endorse any of these companies, I just found their quality and prices exceptional and thought I would pass along the info.

I am linking to Sherry @ No Minimalist Here for her Open House Party.

 Thanks so much for stopping by, I always look forward to your visits.



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taming the Bathroom Vanity

Since my home is builder basic bland, the bathroom cabinets are pretty basic too.  We do at least have 3 drawers, but they are really small.  Trying to make it functional has been a challenge.



With most of the available storage being behind those doors, I really needed some kind of organization. 


Today as I was cleaning, I thought I would show you my really inexpensive solution.  Plastic storage drawers from Big Lots.   This is DH's side of the vanity, and these storage bins work really well to keep his toiletry items at easy reach.



I got the ones with the small drawers for my side.   No more digging through things to find what I need.



 I have six drawers, (it takes a ton of putty and spackle at my age) so I can keep all the scrubs, creams and makeup seperated and easy to find.


What I didn't have was all of these sprays and things organized.  When I cleaned the closet a while back, I had this container left over, so I thought it was the perfect solution to hold all the tall bottle and can items.  Now they can't fall over and roll all over the place.


In the process, this is one of two bags of things that needed to go to the trash.  No tiny bits of something left in a bottle and way out of date.

Nothing earth shattering, but it sure feels good to have this area all clean and organized.  So, how do you manage to keep all of your necessary things under control?

I am linking to Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for WUW.

Thanks so much for stopping by, I always look forward to your visits.




Monday, June 27, 2011

71st. Table Top Tuesday


Welcome to the 71st. Table Top Tuesday.  With summer here, you guys are all so busy fluffing your homes and the inspiration never ends.  I love seeing it all.


 When I am tired of looking at something and think I need a change, I usually get out some of my decorating books and browse.  My favorite by far has to be all of the books I have by Charles Faudree.  Now I certainly don't have a grand home or space like he decorates, nor do I have all of his fabulous accssories, but there is so much we can copy from him.

I wanted to change the bookcases on the entertainment center and he has tons of inspiration for bookshelves.
I went through some of my goody stash and pulled out a few things that remind me of his style.  He uses pictures, architectural elements and figurines, especially farm animals.  While my accessories might be simple instead of grand, the same feeling can be achieved.


 After rearranging the books, I added a few of these same elements to my bookcases.





 A sweet little figurine of a boy enjoying the summer.


 Three finials for some architectural interest.


 A cute cow for one of the farm animals,


 and a small DT sheep.


A brass apple and inkwell sit on top of a stack of decorating books for a little sparkle.


 Of course my Bunny picture stayed


 As well as my favorite little boy with his horse.


My version of a little Charles Faudree design.


Thanks so much for stopping by, I always look forward to your visits and I can't wait to see what you've been up to.