Tuesday, May 7, 2013

~Antique Victorian Dresser Makeover~

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love stores such as Pottery Barn and Ethan Allen. In fact, I furnished most of my home with pieces from those stores when I set out to decorate it 10 years ago.  
However, I gotta say, that furniture, although well made and beautiful, does not hold a candle to some vintage and antique furniture out there.

 I picked up this antique dresser from the sweetest man on Craigslist.  It was an estate piece of his brother's.  

It was in great shape even though it is over 103 years old!!  It is heavy, sturdy, and the drawers pull out easily.  
And though the dresser was beautiful, the finish was dull and gunky and in bad need of a makeover.  So, I pulled out my Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stash and settled on Duck Egg Blue. 
It is a lovely grey-blue with a beachy vibe.  

Orginally, the dresser had these solid brass pulls paired with ornate backplates.
 While cleaning them {using Kate from Centsational Girl's method}, I discovered that the pulls were solid brass but the back plates were brass-plated.  The pulls cleaned up beautifully but the back plates not-so-much so I decided to leave them off the finished dresser.  Much better, no?
I also stripped and then re-stained the top with my go-to Minwax stain--special walnut.  It came out great.  It still needs a coat of high-gloss poly, but it still looks pretty good in the meantime.

This dresser has fabulous storage--deep drawers and check out these dividers in the top drawer!  Perfect for for separating out your unmentionables. :D

 I love how this dresser turned out, and it's now ready for another century of service.
So what's your preference?  New or antique furniture?  What do you think about the makeover?

Monday, May 6, 2013

~Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana {Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup}~

When I was in nursing school I worked as a server at The Olive Garden to support myself.  Tips were not great, and it was one of the hardest jobs I have ever had but I did get to eat there everyday.  One of my favorite soups was the Zuppa Toscana---spicy sausage, creamy potatoes and luscious kale.  mmmmm...my mouth is watering even as I type this.
It has been 15 years since I worked there, and I still crave that soup.  So, a year or so ago I set out to find a copy-cat recipe.  I found that there are many good ones out there.  I tried several of them but couldn't find one that I loved (some used 1 whole pound of sausage, others used fake bacon bits, etc, etc).  So, I came up with my own adaptation.  
My recipe uses less sausage and really lets the potatoes and kale shine.  Trust me, it is SO GOOD ! The best, if I do say so myself. :D
Ingredients (12 servings):
  • 1/2 lb Mild Italian Sausage casings removed
  • 3 Slices Bacon chopped
  • 1 cup White Onion chopped
  • 3 1/2 lbs Russet Potatoes sliced 
  • 10 cups Chicken Broth (I use Smart & Final's Chicken base to make 10 cups.  It is the BEST!  I highly recommend it if you can get it.)
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 bunch Kale chopped into bite size pieces
  • Black Pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, add the chicken broth, sliced potatoes, and red pepper flakes.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat low and simmer.  Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom dutch oven or frying pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat.  
When done, drain bacon on some paper towels. 
Reserve 1 teaspoon of bacon fat in the dutch oven and discard the remainder in the trash.  Add the onion and the bacon back to the dutch oven and saute over medium-high heat until the onion is soft.
Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute more. 

Pour bacon and onion mixture into the stock pot with the potatoes.  Now, using the same dutch oven, break up the mild Italian sausage into small chunks (it is easier to break up the sausage at this stage than later).
Cook over medium-high heat until no pink remains. 
Once done, add to the stock pot.  (I also like to deglaze the dutch oven with 1/2 cup of broth to get up all the favor-enhancing bits of meat left in the pan and add it to the stock pot too).
Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes break apart when stirred. Once the potatoes are cooked, add the heavy cream.
 and chopped kale. 
Then serve immediately and enjoy!
This recipe makes up to 12 servings and is so inexpensive!  Perfect for a family on a budget.  Love it.

Cost Breakdown:
Italian Sausage: 1.99
Bacon 0.75
Potatoes 1.00
White Onion: 0.99
Broth:  0.50
Garlic: 0.10
Spices: 0.10
Heavy Cream: 1.50
Kale: 1.99
Total=8.92/12 servings = 0.75 cents per serving

So, what do you think?  Do you love the OG's Zuppa Toscana as much as I do?  Have you found any other good copy-cat recipes?

{Check back soon for my Yam and Red Potato Beef Stew recipe and a antique dresser makeover.}

Thursday, May 2, 2013

~Small Wooden Cabinet-Part 2~

Remember this vintage wooden cabinet/bookshelf I picked up a few months ago?  Well, the reveal is now here!  Here she is before:

And here she is after:

 It was love at first sight.  And I got her for a song.  The design details, such as the arches on the doors, are fabulous ...

There are 3 fixed bookshelf's on the inside...

 The original solid brass pull was stunning, heavy, and OLD but there was just the one. 

So I replaced it with these beautiful white/gold Parterre knobs from Anthropologie.

One knob is slightly lower than the other, and I decided to leave it as is.  The piece has other slight "flaws" such as dents, dings, and scratches but I did not want to cover them up.  This beauty is old.  I wanted to honor her history and not try to make her look like a brand new piece of furniture. 

I painted her with Annie Sloan's Aubusson Blue chalk paint and finished her with a walnut stain and clear wax.  

 She is a versatile piece and her size makes her perfect for many different places in the house.  She would look great in a small entryway with a lamp and small tray to hold keys & mail.  She could also live in a hallway for misc storage or a child's room to store books.  She'd also compliment any bathroom, and be the perfect piece to store towels or toilet paper.  The previous owners even used her as a flat-screen TV stand.  

So where would you put her in your house?  What do you think about the transformation?  I had a hard time determining what style she was.  What style do you think she is?

~You Are My Sunshine Sign~

you are my sunshine
          my only sunshine
you make me happy 
          when skies are grey
you'll never know, dear
          how much I love you
please don't take my sunshine away

My mom used to sing this song to me when I was a young child. It is still one of my favorite children's songs.  I wanted to make a bright and cheerful sign using the first set of lyrics from the song. This sign is bright yellow and antique white and measures 12" by 12".  Perfect for a nursery or children's room.  

What about you?  Did your mom sing it to you?  Or do you sing it to your children?