November 20, 2015

Rock Fireplace Surround


When we first made an offer on this house, the fireplace looked like this.  It was the starting point and I ...had a vision!


I truly believe that paint is a miracle in a can.  Look how much a little paint changed the whole look of this room!


But I had this vision of what I wanted in my head and somehow I wanted to add more charm and personality.

During the years before we bought this house, I would plan and decorate my 'forever home' in my head over and over.  And occasionally, I would even buy a product and save it if I thought I couldn't live without it!

This was the case with this river rock tile.  We bought 2 boxes of this stuff probably 6 years before we bought this home.  And hauled it with us everywhere we moved!  Yep, and each time I saw those boxes I would start dreaming up places I could use it in our 'forever home'.


I decided the fireplace was the perfect place to add this charm and personality.  It was really so rewarding to be finally installing it in our forever home, after dreaming about it for so many years.

The back of the product is a mesh material.  It's made this way so that you shouldn't have to install each rock individually.


We started by thoroughly cleaning the existing tile.  Then we used a product called Mastic for ceramic tile installation.  We used a product very similar to this one available on Amazon.

Custom Building Products - Mastic

We made sure to apply the Mastic in small areas we could work with quickly about 1/2 inch thick.  But after installing the first 2 mesh tiles, we had a problem.  They were to heavy and sliding down the fireplace!  I would be lying if I told you I wasn't completely freaking out at this point!

We ended up having to pull every single rock off the mesh and manually place them around the fireplace individually.  Yep, individually.  It wasn't too bad working as a team.  But all alone this would have been a chore.




We waited about a week for everything to dry really well before attempting the grout process.  I chose a neutral beige unsanded grout, that would essentially disappear and let the rocks be the star of the show.  It's like a peanut butter consistency once you mix it up.  And you push it in between all the rocks making sure no spot is missed. Then you wipe the excess off the top to let the rocks show through.


I am so in love with how this turned out. One of those things that every time you walk by the room you catch yourself stopping to stare?  Am I the only one who does that?


Thank you so much for reading about my project!  I truly appreciate each and every one of my readers and would love to hear if you ever try the project on your own.  And share your results with me, please!

November 18, 2015

Fall Tablescape


 
For my birthday this year, I wanted to have some of my closest friends over for dinner to enjoy wine and make homemade pasta with me!  A fall night like this with a bon fire and people I love , here to enjoy good food and good wine... seriously, how much better does that get! 

(Full disclosure, it was not actually fall the night of this party but it was in mid September and that's good enough for this fall lover.)

The catch was, I had this vision of the kind of evening that I wanted so I had to have it at home,  and needed to be the hostess.  Now my hero husband does all the dirty work, so I still got to enjoy only the parts of throwing a party that I truly love.

It was a beautiful day on the day of the party, yay!  I'm not sure how this would have gone had it not.  But I guess I would have improvised.  This was only important because I wanted the dinner party to be outside!

I put together several fall plants such as cattails, daisies and leaves from a tree in my yard.  I had a couple dozen orange roses I got half price on clearance at the grocery store, as they were on their last leg.  The roses were great for one last day once I pulled off the outer layer of pedals on each one.  I gathered candles and lanterns and candle holders.  Found some rattan chargers, burlap and decorative fruit/corn/artichokes in the attic and brought it outside to create something. (Fresh pumpkins were not yet out in the stores at this point so they were not an option)




We had a tree fall down in our yard in a storm a few weeks before the party.  My husband was awesome enough to cut up several of the larger branches into different lengths for me.  I didn't know what I would use them for yet, but I knew I'd find something!  This table, was the perfect place for their debut.





THIS, is my favorite part of having a party.  The decorating!  I had a party of 12 (counting me) coming so I had a long table to set up.  Now in my dream world I would have tables the same size and all matching chairs for events like this, but that's not reality.  And to be honest with you,  I am the most creative when I don't go buy everything new, and have to create from what I already have.

I borrowed a couple white table clothes from my mom and an extra card table and chairs from a friend, in addition to what we already had. 

I started by placing my tallest item (the cattails) in the middle and then evenly placing the other items throughout the rest of the table.  Then I added the plants on the candle holders and candles on the cute log lengths.  Slowly I layered everything in.  I was at a point where I needed a filler.  That's when I looked around and starting cutting leaves from a local maple tree.  They worked perfectly! 

After my centerpiece was done, I set my table with the plates and glasses and even found some fall cloth napkins in my buffet.  I didn't have enough of the chargers for every place so I alternated to give the table some additional texture.  Then, it was time to light the candles as guests arrive to set the stage for the evening!

Here are a few shots!






Now what would a party be without the people!  It was really such a fun evening.  I had everyone help me make the homemade pasta by running it through the pasta roller too.  It made the dinner interactive and was so much fun.  We had a wine tasting too. We hid the wine bottles in sacks and numbered them so you couldn't make a judgment based on the name of the wine.  Adding wine note cards to put comments on each wine tasting made it feel a little like the real thing.




We had the bon fire set up with wood and brought our chairs over later in the evening as it got chilly, and the party went well into the night.


I haven't had a birthday that truly filled my soul like this one in several years.  I am so blessed to have such amazing people God has placed in my life.  It was one of those nights where you actually take a step back and look at the moment, and breathe it in.  Almost like you step outside of yourself and view the moment for what it is.

Thank you all so very much for coming by my blog today to check out my Fall Tablescape.  I hope you are inspired to create YOUR masterpiece!

August 25, 2015

Homemade Grape Juice - No Sugar Added!




Wondering what to do with all of those beautiful, ripe grapes ready for the picking in your yard here in the Pacific Northwest?  A fabulous friend of mine from work had these beautiful grapes growing in her yard and she didn't have any real plans for them.  Lucky for me she brought them to work to share, and I was the lucky recipient!


  At first I really wasn't sure what I would do with them but how do you turn down such beautiful produce from someone's home garden?  I didn't want to make grape jelly, not really a family favorite around here.  And I heard of grape pie...but I wasn't that adventurous.  I do however like to give my family whole clean foods with as few additives as possible.  That's when I chose Grape Juice.

I honestly had never made it before so I did some researching on the internet.  I knew there wasn't quite enough grapes to really can any kind of significant amount so I wasn't concerned with the canning recipes.  I was really just looking for the 'how to' recipes for making the juice.  They were all pretty much the same and varied on the water or time cooked so I decided to wing it.


Here you can see I separated the majority of the stems and put the grapes into a large stock pot.  I added probably 2 cups of water and put my heat on medium low to start cooking down the grapes.  I ended up stirring them a bit to turn over the cooked grapes from the bottom.  Eventually they all turned a dark red purple and the skins starting cracking.  I mashed them up some with my potato masher and let them simmer another 15 minutes or so.


Next was the straining.  These grapes had seeds and we needed to strain off the seeds, skins and remaining stems.  I used a regular strainer with a cheese cloth for this.


And these beautiful grapes....


Magically turned into this beautiful, sweet Homemade Grape Juice!  


Ingredients:

Grapes
Water

That's it!  Feels so good to know where our food comes from and to try something new I can share with you too.  If you try out the recipe, be sure to tell me how yours turned out.  And I'd love to hear any ideas you have to harvest your grapes too.  Thank you for stopping by my blog, you are all truly appreciated!