Saturday, November 30, 2013

Footstools Named Hugs and Kisses

For three years we've been trying to find the ottoman that matches our couch at the outlet. It wasn't meant to be. So when I saw these (ugly) stools (below left) at Burlington Coat Factory for $29 each, I let the idea simmer for while that maybe I could recover them. Three months later they were still at the store (because of ugliness) so I snatched them up and forced them into playful stylishness.
It was difficult coming up with a design because it could be practically anything. Soon I had a stack of prints to choose from. Should I go retro? Playful? Matching or not? Finally, I decided since one stool would be for "her", and one for "him" we could have something that inferred this, but not so literally. And that's how we landed on Hugs and Kisses.

It was SO EASY to re-do these; sharing the process might give you some ideas of your own.

Let's start with the freezer paper stenciling.

ABOVE: First, the stencil is printed on the dull side of freezer paper and cut out. Next, the paper is ironed onto the intended project, shiny side down. It will stick because there's a thin coat of plastic on that side; when heated it will melt and lightly adhere to your material. 

ABOVE: Next, any exposed areas of material need to be blocked off. Take the material/stencil outside. Then the stencil can be spray painted with an oil based/matte spray paint. (Most spray paints are oil based. Just ask if it's not on the labeling.) It must be matte—I used Rustoleum double coverage.

ABOVE: Lastly the paper gets peeled away and the design is done! The paper leaves no residue (you can try using the stencil again, but it probably won't stick as well.) I'll bet you are thinking of all kinds of projects now aren't you?

Now let's move on to the upholstery.

After you've taken the existing fabric off your project, use it as a pattern. Cut out your new pieces and sew them up accordingly. 

The skirt was simple. Just one long strip, pleated and attached to the round top which I stenciled earlier. Then wrap it around, staple it, put the feet back on and you're good to go! There's a little video of the rehupolstering process here. Use the password: quickhug

These little things are so growing on me! At long last I have a husband who doesn't whine about not having an ottoman or coffee table for his feet, and finally his remedy to the situation—our kitchen stool with a pillow placed on top—is staying where it belongs. I could just hug and kiss these little guys for making my guy happy! Ok. And me too.

Update: It's been almost two years since I did these. The stencil is fading a bit, but that's to be expected. Otherwise they are in great shape. The only thing I would do differently is add extra padding for more comfort.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cake Eight

I know, it's a weird title. A few years ago I took a cake class and this is the eighth cake…actually the eighth cake I've ever decorated in my life. Although there are some things I would do differently now…I still really like the white flowers on top of a marbled look. Hope this gives you some ideas.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gypsy Stew

Also called Olla Gitana, this dish from Spain is usually meatless. I really like this version though, and like all good recipes it will make your house smell wonderful…hmm cumin, paprika, rosemary... (Plus, I love anything I can make with my dutch oven!)

Gypsy Stew - Prep about 3 hours if using precooked beans. If using dry beans…add 3 more hours.

If using dried beans: cover and soak for at least three hours and then drain well:
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white kidney beans (such as navy beans)
In a large saucepan heat
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
than add and cook until soft
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 chopped white or yellow onion
Next, add the presoaked beans and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Then in a dutch oven, or large flame proof casserole dish, over the stove heat:
  • 1/3 cup or less olive oil
Add and cook until tender
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 chopped white or yellow onion

Preheat the oven to 315 F.
Add and stir through the following

  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 seeded and diced red bell pepper
  • 1 lb. 10 oz pork tenderloin diced

Cook until the pork is pale brown all over. Then add:
One 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup chicken stock
Bring to a boil, then cover and place in the over for 1 hour.
Then add:

  • the bean mixture
  • 2 medium diced firm potato, sweet potato (squash works too.)

Return to the oven for 30 minutes or until potato is tender.
Just before serving stir in:

  • chopped swiss chard

Season to taste before serving. 
We like to eat it with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. It's great with tortilla chips too.

Adapted from Cooking Spanish by John Newton