Friday, July 29, 2011

Austin Part II

While staying with my brother in Austin, I snapped some pictures around their house.  I love the way he and his wife (mostly his wife) have decorated.

I could never organize a bookshelf like this:

Love the birds on the mantel:

In their upstairs family room, there is a mini Pac-Man machine my brother built.  He loaded it with not only Pac-Man, but every game imaginable ... Donkey Kong, Astroids, Frogger...

Photo collage in the formal dining room:

They recently redecorated Austin's room with a robot theme.  They took Victor's childhood furniture and painted it gray.  With the orange hardware, I think it looks little like a robot. 

Wall Decal:

They are expecting a little girl in September and have created the coolest nursery.  Check out the Thomas Paul drapes in the background and the paper butterfly on the lamp.

Don't you just want to move in with them?

On a side note, if you're interested in hitting London this December with some other ladies, check out this deal on my mom's blog here.  It sounds like it's going to be a fun trip!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Austin Part I

We just returned from our trip to Austin.  We had so much fun hanging out with our family and squeezing in a few short visits with some friends.  It was just the boys, me, two DVD players, two books on CD and I-35.  We spent the first few days at my parent's lake place and the rest of the week at my brother's house in Austin.  Here's a photo-recap of our first few days there:

The lake was really low when we were there.  You can see the little structure that look likes a tiny shack toward the bottom left side of the picture.  That's a dock and there is usually water under it.

We saw plenty of deer and lots of little fawns running around.  They were so cute!

We saw lots of these guys too.   

Hudson got some help feeding one of the longhorns.

We also fed Marshmallow, the neighborhood donkey.

And you know we had some Mexican food!!

On a separate note, I found tissue paper pom poms at Hancock's last week.  They are the same ones Martha shows you how to make on her site, but they are already made for you.  There are 8 in the package ... so for $12.99 it doesn't seem like that bad of a deal.

More Austin pictures in my next post!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grilled Artichokes

Several years ago I ate a grilled artichoke at Houston's and fell in love with it.  I've always been grill shy and thought that guys were supposed to be behind the grill.  Tired of waiting for Steve to get home to start the grill, I asked him to teach me how to use it.  That was two years ago.  Since then I've been grilling (and sometimes burning) everything.  

This is my version of Houston's grilled artichoke:

Start with one or two medium artichokes.

Wash and trim artichokes.  You can rub them down with a lemon to help them retain their green color if you want.  I'm lazy and skip this step if I'm not serving these to company. 

Now you need to steam the artichokes.  This is the lazy way to steam them.  Put them in a bowl in about four tablespoons of water, wrap the bowls in plastic wrap and microwave them for five minutes each.  Then let them steam under the plastic wrap for an additional 5 - 10 minutes either in the microwave or on the counter.  

After you are able to easily remove an artichoke leaf, remove the plastic wrap and let them cool.  Once they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half down down the center of the artichoke.

With a sharp paring knife, make a wide V shape slit under the furry part of the artichoke.  Then take a spoon and scoop out everything above the artichoke heart and some of the smaller leaves (they're purple and pointy in the above picture).

Baste the front and back of each artichoke with olive oil.  Also be sure to put some down in between the artichoke leaves.  This will help prevent it from getting dried out on the grill.  Then season front and back with salt and pepper.

Grill on medium high heat for 5 - 10 minutes, occasionally basting with olive oil.  Flip artichokes half way through.  

Serve on their own or with melted butter.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zig Zag Chevron Pillow

I love chevron prints.  I'm trying to contain my love for them and not cover the house floor to ceiling in them.  I've done okay so far ... until I saw the chevron print in yellow.  Oh my.  I'm just going to start with a pillow and see where that takes me.  Here's what I ended up with:

Here's how I started:

Cut your desired pillow shape (mine is 15" x 31") out of chevron or stripe printed fabric.  

Then with a sheer white cotton piece of fabric, cut a piece the exact same size.

Pin the white piece of fabric on top of your print.

With white thread in your sewing machine, trace the outline of every colored chevron stripe.  Repeat this step for all stripes on the printed fabric.

This is what you should end up with.  

Make sure you sew even the tiniest of stripes.

Then with a pair of scissors, cut along the thread on the inside of the colored sides of your stripe.  Cut about 1/4" down from the thread.

This is how it should look.  Next, wash the front of your pillow.

It will come out a little more frayed.  

If you want to fray it up a little more, hold the fabric tight and run a tracing wheel horizontally across the white frayed fabric to loosen the threads.  You can then run it through the wash again if desired.

I used the tracing wheel on the top of the last stripe in this picture.  You can see how it really pulls the threads apart.  

When you're happy with the amount of distress you have put your pillow through, cut a piece of fabric for the back of your pillow (I used white cotton twill).  With right sides together, pin the fabric to your distressed chevron and sew around the edges, leaving an opening to stuff your pillow.  Fill with stuffing, stitch up, and figure out where you're going to put another pillow.