A little while ago, my friend Dennis came for dinner. I made something I have wanted to make since 2011! Individual corn lasagna recipe that Giada De Laurentiis made for Prince William and Kate during a visit to California.
Centerpiece – Anchor Hocking Glass Pumpkin filled with artificial mini pumpkins I already had and new Martha Stewart artificial acorns I found at TJ Maxx. The glass pumpkin was sold by Dunkin Donuts in the 1980’s.
I loved the corn lasagna, it had a lot of flavor. Next time I would consider serving in the ramekin’s instead of waiting for them to cool then unmold. I also highly recommend the apple crisp. Delicious and a fun presentation!
I am not sure if this looks like a red panda but I was inspired by a recent visit to the Seneca Park Zoo. The Red Panda posed for me! The dill pickles were from a neighbor friend. They were crunchy and tangy. In the photo I put a spring of dill that was in the jar along with beautiful peppercorns.
This was my first Halloween in my new home. It was also my first time to have trick-or-treaters since I last had a house in 2016. I don’t have a prominent porch as I did before. Maybe in future years I will be creative and festively lead kids to my porch which is on the side of my house. This year since I have a large dumpster in my driveway (doing some renovations), I decided to hand out candy from my garage.
I did not know how many kids to expect. I asked neighbors, one said 40, one said 100. It was a rainy Monday and I had about 30 kids.
I followed the advice of my 20 year old niece and bought full-sized candy. I had a selection of chocolate or fruit flavored candy choices. The kids preferred the fruit candy. They were very excited to receive the full-sized. One family came and said they were told they had to go to the house with the dumpster!
This year was my first time to receive Halloween treats from a neighbor! I was delighted to receive treats and homemade tomato sauce. The sauce had onion, carrots, and celery and was delicious! In turn, I made pumpkin muffins and gave them to neighbors and friends.
My parents sent a Halloween card and my niece made and sent a delightful ghost card.
It was a memorable first Halloween in my new home!
Contents: Ghost Grilled Cheese – sourdough bread cut with a cookie cutter, grilled with cheddar cheese and butter, Eyes – mini chocolate chips, Ghost croutons – sourdough bread cut with a cookie cutter, grilled with butter
To celebrate the change in seasons and find an excuse to use Leaf Shaped Tortilla chips in a meal, I made a fall themed dinner for my parents and friend Carol. The meal also showed off my newly decorated for fall dining room. I am reusing some decor from my past but in general I am getting new to suit my new home. I had to get a new tablecloth since my table size / shape is different from my past. I also like any excuse to buy new beautiful tablecloths. I usually curate a large collection for my table.
Centerpiece – Anchor Hocking Glass Pumpkin filled with artificial mini pumpkins I already had and new Martha Stewart artificial acorns I found at TJ Maxx. The glass pumpkin was sold by Dunkin Donuts in the 1980’s. I found it last summer at a thrift store. I have the glass pumpkin on my hallway floating shelves but it served beautifully as last minute table decor.
Individual Carrot Tarts: This recipe was my inspiration. Cut puffed pastry with a pumpkin cookie cutter, use knife to score around the edge, prick with a fork and partially bake. Roast carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper until crisp tender. Mix ricotta with garlic powder, pepper, and dried chives. Spread ricotta on each individual tart, top with roasted carrots and bake until puffed pastry is golden brown.
Candy Corn Fruit: I mostly followed this. I whipped my own cream and added vanilla but no sweetener. I bought fresh pineapple from Wegmans. It was delicious!
My critique of the meal: It was a simple meal to prepare but satisfying to eat. The Spinach Artichoke dip was a good healthy substitution for the traditional dip. The fruit was a hit since the pineapple was ripened to perfection. I love my dining room in this house. It is a beautiful place to share a meal with important people in my life.
Not long ago, my friend Renae came over for dinner. I asked her for a vegetable idea. She said, “zucchini”. I planned this meal around zucchini which is perfect for August. It was delicious! We ate in my newly finished dining room.
Zucchini Ravioli – I followed this recipe for how to prepare the zucchini but I added the two layers on top of each other since they were very thin. Filling – BelGioioso Ricotta con Latte, garlic powder, pepper, and Asiago cheese. Use a mini ice cream scoop to put a ball of Ricotta mixture in the middle of the zucchini, fold, put seam down in baking pan with some homemade tomato sauce. Add some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top. Bake until heated and cheese lightly brown. Before serving garnish with fresh basil.
Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse – I used this recipe with almond extract and served with raspberries
This is my dining room. I am calling it “whimsical” since I am not sure what else to call it. It took longer to reveal it here than some of my other rooms since I had to wait for the mantel installation. It took the installers only 40 minutes but I had to wait 5 months. I am glad that the mantel is now in it’s proper place and not on the floor. I think the people in my life are happy to no longer hear me complain about the mantel. Installation day was exciting! The photos here show my summer decorating. I expect the decorations to change with the seasons / holidays. I also expect this room to frequently be featured here as the backdrop for meals.
Paint: For the wall opposite the wallpaper, I went to Sherwin Williams and color matched one of the leaves in the wallpaper.
Fireplace: I painted the brick white. It took many coats even the top which already was painted. I primed it with masonry paint and then painted with white paint. I also painted the wall adjacent to the fireplace white.
Mantel: I didn’t know what I was looking for but I knew I wanted a mantel on my fireplace. A fireplace store helped me figure out the design to suit the existing fireplace. I ordered from them. It is a cast stone shelf – 6′ tall x 66″ long x 6″ deep.
Wallpaper: Whimsy Fauna. I bought it online from Home Depot in the green colorway. A different colorway is sold by Anthropologie. It took me a long time to find wallpaper I liked for this room. I am very happy with my selection. My wonderful parents installed the wallpaper.
Floor: The room had carpet when I bought the house. My parents and I removed the carpet and my Mom cleaned and took off paint splatters that were all over the floor. I am happy with the historical hardwood floor.
Ceiling Light: There was no overhead light in this room when I bought this house. An electrician did a wonderful job adding it. I struggled with finding the right light for the room. I finally went to Tuthill Lighting in Brighton, NY. Bruce was a dream and helped me find the perfect light for me! I love it!
Outlet Plates: I painted the ones on the green and white walls. My Dad covered the remaining plates with wallpaper to blend into that wall.
Switch Plate: I bought this as part of my quest to change out all the boring outlet and switch plates in this house.
Storage Cabinets: I bought two of these on Amazon. Originally I wanted build-in cabinets in the dining room. I am still waiting for the build-in shelves in my library so I am glad I quickly bought these cabinets. Maybe someday I will change it to something else but most likely they will remain in the room.
Buffet: This is a historical family piece. I think my house is it’s 3rd family home. It looked different every time. I don’t remember it in my maternal Grandparents home since it was before my time but I remember it in my Aunt and Uncle’s home. It happened to be in storage at my family Lake House. I had trouble finding a buffet so my Mom offered this to me. My parents restored it since time had wounded it a little. My Mom painted it a green I picked out to complement the wallpaper and she cleaned up tarnish from the handles. I am delighted that the sunflower pattern happened to match the sunflowers on my wallpaper.
Table: When looking for a table, I knew that I wanted one with a self-storing butterfly leaf. I bought this Braxton Solid Wood Dining Table.
Chairs: I struggled finding soft chairs for the dining room table. I didn’t want to buy online since I wanted to try them out. I went to many stores to sit on chairs. I ended up buying these at Arhaus. I got a deal on the store models.
Peony Topiaries: I found these directions. I followed them for everything except for the stem. I painted a dowel. Also I added some stones to the pot at my Mom’s suggestion. I think that these look fantastic. I bought the pots from At Home. The artificial peonies are 3 bunches from Michaels.
Hello Sign: I made this sign from letters from Michaels. I painted them a green and hot glued to string I had in my craft room.
I made this meal for my Dad. I thought that it did not look good so I tried another time to make hurricane pizza. I think the second time came out worse (see below). Maybe hurricanes are difficult to depict with food. Years ago I had a similar problem with hurricane noodles.
This year I celebrated my birthday a little early (last weekend) at my family Lake House with my parents and 20 year old niece. When I woke, a “birthday fairy” was there overnight. The table and fireplace were decorated and some gifts were already waiting. I received one present with breakfast, another with lunch and the rest with dessert after dinner as is my family tradition. The breakfast gift was a new idea thought of by my niece.
I had a wonderful birthday celebration with my family. My Dad made his blueberry blintzes for breakfast. I made cute hand pie bento lunches for everyone. My Mom and I went out on the jet ski. Mom, Dad, niece and I took the pontoon boat to the cove. My Mom, niece and I went swimming in the cove. Niece and Dad made a wonderful dinner.
Peach Sodas: Combine 3 peeled, sliced peaches in a saucepan with 1 TBS lemon juice and 1 cup of water. Cook until soft. Puree in blender. Strain peach mixture. Add honey to taste. Chill until ready to use. Use to flavor plain seltzer.
Sheep Shaped Risotto Balls: Start with a basic risotto recipe. My niece used 5 cups vegetable stock, 2 cups Arborio rice, vermouth, 3/4 parmesan cheese, salt. Chill. Once cold, make balls with small pieces of mozzarella inside. Carefully fry so cheese melts and balls are browned on each side. Decorate with tomato sauce, carrots (ears and noses), small pieces of olive (eyes). Serve with additional tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
Grilled Vegetables: My Dad grilled asparagus (in a grilling basket), sliced eggplant and zucchini – he brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt
Sheep Cake: Box Funfetti cake mix with non-sweetened fresh whipped cream piped with a pastry bag and decorative tip, candy eyes
Here is my Pink and Green bedroom with gold accents. When planning this room before I moved into the house, I knew I wanted pink walls as I had in my childhood bedroom. This pink is deliberately softer than the shade I had as a kid. This is my first time to live in a house by myself vs an apartment with limited decorating possibilities. Sometimes decorating is more difficult when I only have myself to answer to. I am happy that my parents and I removed the carpet that was previously in the house.
Bed: I wanted an upholstered bed with wings. I was leaning towards cream. My designer suggested green velvet. I was not sure about it but took a chance. I complained and second guessed about this bed for the longest time because I thought I was going for a softer look. Months later, I am fine with it now. My Dad assembled the bed for me.
Right Night Stand: From my childhood bedroom. It didn’t used to have a back. My Dad made a back this time. Painted it a soft green. Decoupaged the drawers. Added flower knobs, Lined the drawer with same paper I used to decoupage the outside.
Tissue Box Holder: I bought this to match the rose gold in the room.
Left Night Stand: My parents found this at a store with unfinished furniture. Painted it a soft green. Decoupaged the drawers. Added flower knobs, Lined the drawer with same paper I used to decoupage the outside.
Lamps on Night Stands: The lamps were my paternal Grandma’s. My parents cleaned them and my Dad added new electrical cords. I bought these lampshades.
RoundWhite Table: (Ceramic Garden Stool). I didn’t like that my coffee cup clanked and you could see the hole in the middle of the table. My friend’s daughter Elizabeth designed the felt cover and I cut it with my Cricut machine.
Pink Chair: I can no longer find this exact chair but there are similar ones on Wayfair.
Hope Chest: This is a family historical Hope Chest that is now in my possession.
Rug:Fluffy soft rug. It was inexpensive but everyone who walks in my bedroom comments on how soft it is! I am happy that it perfectly matches the table.
Sashiko Art: I stitched these from patterns I bought in Japan. The center one has a Bamboo picture frame.
Ceramic Flower: I purchased from At Home.
Closet Labels: I like that my room has 3 distinct closets. I have one for Spring / Summer, one for Fall / Winter and one for miscellaneous. I sent the Japanese characters to my friend’s daughter Elizabeth and she formatted them for me. We printed them together on my Cricut machine. Elizabeth installed these on my closet doors. My Dad did extensive work getting these closets ready for me.
When I was a child, I loved looking inside my Grandmother’shope chest. It held family historical items such as a baptism gown, rolling pin from her bridal shower, the sweater and one of the socks she wore when she arrived on the boat from Ireland at 12 years old. My Grandmother repeatedly told me that someday the hope chest would be mine. Over the years at times I thought she would give it to me, she didn’t. She didn’t give it to me when I got married or when my husband and I bought a house. My ex-husband told me that he once tried to find a hope chest for me but he didn’t find one. I am fine that he didn’t find one. It was the historical family hope chest that I cared about. My Grandpa bought it for my Grandmother and there was an inscription inside, “Joan from John”.
This lunch is a simple representative of this hope chest that is now in my bedroom.
Glass Container with Lid
Hope Chest: Cheese with food coloring marker details
Broccoli, cheese mashed potatoes
Round Glass Bowl with Lid
Joan from John: Food coloring marker on tortilla
This year when I started to plan my bedroom decorating, my Mom offered the hope chest to me. She had it from when my Grandmother died. I had mixed feelings about it since my Grandmother never gave it to me. Ultimately I decided to take it. It does not matter if my Grandmother for some reason did not want to give it to me. I have it now and I am happy to have a historical family item in my room. Also it is useful to have furniture at the end of the bed to put things on.
I made this for my 20 year old niece. My niece, my brother, and I hiked up a nearby mountain. In the photo below I asked her to hold out the snack box so I could get her back, the snack, and the gorgeous view. I love her hat! I wish that I had one like that. When I asked her for a snack theme request, she said bugs. My friend Renae made the cookie cutter with her 3D printer.
I made this for my friend Yuko’s husband when he and Yuko visited my family Lake House. Because he was a guest, I gave him a choice of sauces: blueberry vinaigrette that I had planned for this fish theme, or the black bean sauce I had planned for 2 other lunches that day. I didn’t give my Mom a choice and she got the blueberry. She wished she had the black bean. I guess I need to find a better sauce idea when I want it to look like water or sky.
I made this meal for my Dad on a day that I made rice themed lunches for many people. I did not take enough time making this one. The other people felt that this was my best looking lunch of the day. It surprised me. I made this village and these cats the same day. Nobody knew what theme this lunch was supposed to be. My Mom guessed fisherman and fisherwoman. I tried to copy from a Japanese bento book but used spinach instead of seaweed (see photo below). This would be a craft fail. These are supposed to be pirates. I put soy sauce on top for flavor. I found it difficult to cut out the eye patch from spinach so I used the stem.
Top Left: Pirate – cooked Nishiki rice shaped by hand with plastic wrap, soy sauce, Hair – spinach (softened for a few seconds in the microwave), Eyes – spinach cut with a straw, Nose – carrot cut by hand, mustache – spinach cut by hand, lettuce, raspberries
Top Right: Pirate – cooked Nishiki rice shaped by hand with plastic wrap, soy sauce, Hair – spinach (softened for a few seconds in the microwave), Eye – spinach cut with a straw, Eye Patch – spinach cut with a straw, spinach stem Nose (but looks like a mouth) – carrot cut by hand, lettuce, raspberries
Bottom: Fish – radish cut with a cookie cutter, Eyes – paprika, blueberries
Left Side: Skunk – mashed black beans and garlic powder pushed into a cookie cutter, Tail – ricotta cheese piped with a plastic ziplock bag, spinach, Rice and Beans (I added cumin and served with cheese and salsa)
Top Right: Pistachios
Bottom Right: Flowers – watermelon cut with a cookie cutter, blueberries attached with spaghetti
Right Side: Years – Carrot cut with a cookie cutter, rice
Bottom: Trader Joes Trail Mix
I continue to enjoy creating content and sharing it here. A few years ago, I started compilation posts to keep together a collection of all my creations in a particular theme. This year I created a Theme Archive page so it is easy to find all of those collected themes. It also encourages me to create more theme collections. I have 11 years of content!
I am happy to have this place that encourages me to continue to create. Thank you for joining me on this long journey.
Left Side: Music Notes: white potato roasted, orange Cheddar, yellow bell pepper, light colored carrot cut with a cookie cutter, black bean sauce – black beans, salsa, balsamic vinegar blended in a food processor
This is my travel themed home office. I spend a lot of time in this room since I currently work from home. The last photo shows my favorite neighbor. I completed my home office decorating (minus the padded part of the Camel saddle) months ago. I am finally getting around to sharing the photos here. Painting this room was memorable since I had bad paint for the first coat. The store said it froze and they were not responsible. I know I did not damage the paint. Anyway, after I bought good paint, it went easy.
Paint: I started out with Sassafras Tea from Valspar but after I had a batch of bad paint and the store would not refund, I had it color matched at Sherwin Williams. This paint issue is also memorable for me since the same day that I painted the first bad coat, I had a first date with a man who happened to be a contractor. He insisted that 95% of the time it is not the paint, it is the painter. I did not bother telling him the next day when the store admitted the paint was the problem. The date and I were not compatible and there would not be a second date.
Carpet: Existing, it was too much doing everything else so I kept this carpet. Purple is not my favorite color but it seems to keep finding me. I once had a purple house. The carpet was in good shape except for a small issue, My Dad took some carpet from the closet and made a patch.
Earth Border Ribbon: I wanted something to hide the paint transition between wall and ceiling. I came up with this idea. I rough estimated when ordering the ribbon and I was right! I hot glued the ribbon to the wall. My hand was sore and I got a hot glue injury. But I am pleased with the result in the room.
Compass Decal: My friend’s 14 year old daughter designed, cut with my Cricut machine, and installed it for me. When people tour this room, they often ask if the directions are correct. Yes they are!
World Landmarks Decal: This is a beautiful but very detailed decal. I like the idea of the whole world together in one skyline. My friend’s 14 year old daughter helped me install it. For some of the taller buildings we also used help from the 16 year old daughter.
Ceiling Light: You can see in the before photos that the old fan had only 1 light. My Dad installed a new fan.
Vintage Shelves: These were my maternal Grandparents but I ended up with them when I was in my 20’s. I often renovate them for different living situations. This time we spray painted the metal gold and covered the shelves with map wrapping paper and clear contact paper.
Ancestor Countries Art: I found these free pintables online but can’t find them anymore. I printed out the countries my ancestors were born. I reused frames I had for an Herb gallery wall in my apartment.
Camel Saddle: My maternal Grandpa was a Flight Engineer for TWA. He brought this camel saddle back from Egypt when my Mom was a kid. It was in her childhood bedroom. I remember it in my Grandparents home when I was a kid. I thought the saddle would be perfect for my travel themed office. I need to replace the padded part. I intend to sew it myself at some point.
Foreign Coins Tissue Box: I repurposed an old wooden tissue box. Painted it black, used E6000 glue to attach foreign coins to make this travel themed tissue box.
7 Lucky Gods Stamps – In 2017, I did a pilgrimage tour to the temples of the 7 Lucky Gods in Kyoto. I was frugal and did not buy the souvenir stamps from each location. In 2019, when a friend visited from Japan, she brought this for me.
Round North America Map: I purchased it in person from At Home.
Small Knob for Little Door: The door had a gold knob, my Mom found this online. I was able to find it in the store at Hobby Lobby.
USA Cookie – sugar cookie with red, white, blue sanding sugar
Strawberry Ice Cream
My critique of the meal: I really enjoyed designing and creating the individual vegetarian charcuterie boards. We all enjoyed eating the appetizers. The pizza and dessert were easy and delicious. I made and froze the cookies a week before the party.