Master Bedroom

Time for another stop on my home tour!  Today we'll be visiting the master bedroom, which, in my eyes, is a room that still needs some work.  I'd like to get different nightstands, a bench for the bay window, a low dresser instead of a tall one, and make a headboard out of some old pallet wood we have.  In spite of these things I still want to do, I do love the direction this room is headed.  I absolutely love the wall color, the bedding, and the drapes (ever since I lengthened them to reach the floor).
This is the view from the bathroom.  On the left, you can see my fancified IKEA mirror.  I got my lamps and rug at IKEA, also.  The bedding is from Kohl's.
That's the door out into the hallway, my reclaimed barnwood jewelry holder, and the tall dresser that I wish were a low dresser.
And this is the view looking into the bathroom.  I used to not love the archway, but I think I must be getting used to it, because it doesn't bother me like it did when we moved in.  It's also nice to be able to get some extra light in the bedroom from the window in the bathroom. 
For now, the bay window is empty, but I would like to have a long bench under the window someday.  I really do love our bedroom, and I can't wait until all the final touches are complete.


Halloween Tulle Wreath

I recently saw this black tulle wreath on Pinterest, and I thought it would make a sweet Halloween wreath for my front door.  Since I have a brown front door, I thought it wouldn't be enough of a contrast with black on brown, so I got white tulle.  Thinking back on it, I might have gotten an off-white instead.
I used a large embroidery hoop for the wreath form, then just knotted tulle strips around it.  (I used this method for quick tulle-cutting, and it worked very well.)  I happened to have 12" hoops on hand from another project that didn't work out, but using such a large hoop meant that my wreath ended up being a lot bigger than I imagined.  The tulle was also a lot puffier than I thought it would be, so it looked sort of weirdly oversized on my front door.

Fortunately, I have this big mirror right inside the front door that it looks great hanging in front of.  I used black polka dot ribbon for the hanger, and I got the blackbird at the dollar store.  It has wire under the feet, so all I had to do was wrap the wire around the hoop after I tied the tulle around.  This was a pretty quick project, and I think it makes a nice statement, plus all I have to do to use it for other holidays is switch out the ribbon and bird.
Linked up: Tatertots & Jello


Bird Nest Necklace

Now that I found a chain for it, I wanted to show off the bird nest necklace that I made with my friend Cami a while ago.  I found a tutorial from Sarah Ortega, which got my brain thinking about making them.  The tutorial is a great starting point, but once you get going it's really quite easy.
I definitely prefer the look of three "eggs", but these would also be a great gift for a mom, with an egg for each of her children.  You could even go as far as using each kid's birthstone, or birthstone color, for each of the eggs.  Either way, these nest pendants make a great statement.
Linked up: Tatertots & Jello


Mann-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is easily the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever tried.  It is a family and friend favorite.  I originally got the recipe from my mother-in-law.  She gave it to me at my bridal shower, since these are my husband's favorite cookies.  The recipe I have is actually titled "Mrs. Field's Cookies", but I have tweaked them a little bit, so I figured I could give them a new name.  Since our last name is Mann, and these cookies are so fantastic, they ended up as Mann-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Mann-tastic Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 c. butter (3 sticks)
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
2 T. vanilla
6 c. flour
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3 c. chocolate chips variety

The directions are pretty much just like any other cookie recipe.  Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, then add eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredient mixture. (Although I usually just throw them all in the mixer at once, since they seem to mix together on top a little bit before getting mixed into the rest of the dough.)  At this point, there is too much dough in my mixer to add the chocolate chips, so I transfer the dough to a bigger bowl and mix in the chips with a wooden spoon or spatula.  I like to do half semi-sweet chocolate chips and half of another kind of chip, usually white chocolate or peanut butter.  I have been known to add all three from time to time as well.  This is what your dough should look like:
Oooooh yeah.  Did I mention that this recipe makes a huge batch of cookies?  At this point, I use my cookie scoop to put the dough out on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  When you pull these out of the oven, they may not look completely done, but they will continue to cook as they cool.  You can transfer them to a cooling rack about five minutes after they come out of the oven.  You won't need to worry about storing these for very long, since they will all be gone in a matter of days, but they do freeze well and will keep in an airtight container on the counter for a week.

I have tried halving this recipe, but the results are never as good.  Since this makes such a large batch, I usually freeze half (or more) of the dough.  The best way I have found is to make cookie dough balls with the cookie scoop and freeze them already portioned out.  That way, you can pop a few in the oven (up the cooking time to 14 minutes if they are still frozen) and have fresh cookies in just a few minutes.  Or, if you are my husband, you can eat the frozen cookie dough balls straight out of the freezer.  Either way.
Linked up: Tatertots & Jello


What I've Been Working On

I've been crazy busy lately, working on a hairbow tutorial (above), a chocolate chip cookie recipe (the best you'll ever eat), some fabric designs, and mostly getting ready for a neighborhood boutique tomorrow.

I have a lot planned for the blog in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!


Autumn Acorns Fabric

Autumn Acorns
I love autumn!  Which is why I couldn't resist designing an autumn-themed fabric for the weekly contest on Spoonflower.  The last couple of contests have had great themes.  This contest also had a restricted palette, but I got to choose all the colors, plus I had white as a freebie "color".  I feel like I am really getting the hang of this stuff, and I'm excited to start dreaming up some fun projects to make with custom fabric.  Maybe an upholstered armchair for the master bedroom?


White Chocolate Cheesecake

I made this cheesecake for my white-chocolate-loving husband's birthday.  It may have been my best cheesecake yet!  I didn't have any cracks in the top, and the middle wasn't too soft like last time.  The recipe I used needed some tweaking, so I ended up with my own creation in the end.  I also tried a white chocolate ganache for the topping, which didn't act quite like I was expecting.  It was a lot runnier than a normal chocolate ganache, so I think it may need more white chocolate than cream.  It was still quite tasty, though, and it added a nice white chocolate flavor, as the cheesecake itself doesn't have a strong white chocolate taste.  Here is my version of the white chocolate cheesecake, complete with low-fat cream cheese!

White Chocolate Cheesecake
(adapted by me from Food.com)

2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c. melted butter

10 oz. white chocolate
4 (8 oz.) packages of low-fat cream cheese, softened*
1/2 c. plus 2 T. sugar
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 T. flour
1 T. vanilla

Ganache Topping:
8 oz. white chocolate
8 oz. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Blend graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and press lightly onto the bottom and sides of a spring-form pan.  To make the filling, melt the white chocolate and stir until smooth.  Beat softened cream cheese until light and fluffy, then add in the sugar.  Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between.  Add the flour and vanilla, stirring until combined well.  Add the melted chocolate in a slow stream while beating the mixture, until everything is smoothly combined.  Pour into prepared crust, sprinkling more white chocolate chips in if desired.  Bake for one hour for 10 inch pans (70 minutes for 9 inch pans) or until top is firm to the touch.  Turn the oven off and leave cheesecake in the closed oven for another 1/2 hour.  Allow cheesecake to cool completely before covering loosely and refrigerating overnight.

To add the ganache topping, microwave chocolate and cream in 30-second intervals, stirring between, until all the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.  Allow the topping to cool, then pour over cooled cheesecake.  Refrigerate until serving.

*Note: If you want to use regular cream cheese, reduce flour to 2 T.
Linked up: Tatertots & Jello


Pretty Birds Fabric

Pretty Birds
This is my newest fabric design.  I entered it in the weekly fabric contest on Spoonflower, with a birds theme.  The colors were restricted to black, white, and the darker blue, plus another color of your choice.  I chose the lighter blue.

I have to say, this is my favorite design to date.  I did it all in Illustrator and was very pleased with the results.  I did do some sketching first, but I didn't scan the sketches in and trace them, I just used them as a reference.  I really think this may be the method that works best for me, and it wasn't nearly as time intensive as my shark fabric, although I still like that one, too.  Which reminds me, I got the test swatch of the sharks a few days ago.  I will have to post a picture of it later this week.


Kitchen and Dining Nook

Picking up where we left off in the family room, let's head into the kitchen and dining nook.  If you remember from last time, the family room, kitchen, and dining are all in one big room in our house. 
I love the wall color in the kitchen, and the overall decor.  The door opens to a pretty decently-sized pantry.  I made the shade above the sink with some help from my mom.  The dining area could use a little bit of love.
I would love to find a great old buffet to refinish for that wall, and I'd like to continue the green paint into the bay window.  I did the art myself, and the curtains in the bay.  I also refinished all the dining chairs about a year ago.  The high chair is a necessary evil.  I would love a better-looking one, but this one works great and was free, so I wasn't able to justify the cost on that one.  Here's a close-up of the art.  The background and branches are painted, and the flowers, birds, berries, etc. are all paper. 
Since that's all there really is to see in the dining nook, let's head back into the kitchen.  This is the view from the dining nook.
I don't have a ton of counter space, but the pantry and island help a lot with storage issues.
Here's a view of the kitchen that I see a lot when I am cooking and/or cleaning.  You can see my do-it-yourself knife magnet on the side of the fridge. 

Well, that's about it for the kitchen.  The only other rooms on the upstairs level that we haven't visited yet are the laundry room and the master bedroom and bathroom; and since we already visited the craft room in the basement, there is only the play room and giant unfinished family room to see.  Until our next visit, feel free to look back on all the other rooms we've seen so far.
Coming soon: bird nest necklaces, white chocolate cheesecake, and menu plan clipboard.