Fabulous Baker Boy

All of you who are foodies (and even those who are not) will love my friend's blog, JoePastry.  With his fun and down-to-earth writing style, he delivers great baking facts, tips, and recipes that you are sure to enjoy.  Check him out! Also, for a very quick and very easy recipe, try these two-ingredient (that's right, just the two!) lemon bars. -------------------------------------------------- TWO-INGREDIENT LEMON BARS 2IngredientLemonBars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix gently the two ingredients below -- just until cake mix is moistened:
  • 1 Angel Food Cake Mix - Just add water kind (any brand)
  • 1 15 oz can of Lemon Pie Filling (any brand)
Spread into an ungreased 9 X 13 inch cake pan.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. The consistency will be dense and moist, rather than fluffy and cake-like.
If you're just dying to add another ingredient, dust with powdered sugar when you take them out of the oven.  Allow to cool before cutting.  Delicious, pretty... and easy.
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Thanks to Tori for the great recipe - At Home With Tori.

How’s it hangin’?

While I know we are all neck-deep into digital (thanks blog-readers!), I also know many of us still enjoy reading actual, hard-copy magazines and newspapers from time to time. If you're throwing yours into a catch-all basket or bin, you're missing a great opportunity to do something far more clever -- and even beautiful -- with your stash.

As is my mantra, if it's not "pretty" and "easy," it won't end up on my blog.  Here are a few ways you can organize/display your mags and newspapers which meet both criteria in a very inexpensive way.

towel rack -magazine, wall artTowel bar(s):  This photo may showcase a more elaborate "collection" than you have, but what a great way to house your magazines by hanging them on a series of towel bars.

Obviously, this concept can be done in a much simpler way, with only a couple of bars -- taking up a small corner wall or an area over a desk. Maybe you just want a single, long bar to drape your newspapers.  Regardless, choose your style of hardware and, voila, you have highly practical wall art.

magazine wine rackWine rack:  This idea is beyond easy -- no drilling or hanging involved. Just take a free-standing wine rack of any style and place your rolled magazines in the compartments, tabletop- or floor-style.

If you do want to put a bit more effort into this same idea, buy a wall-mount wine rack and follow suit.  There are plenty of contemporary takes on this last idea, and lateral towel racks can serve the same purpose -- with rolled magazines instead of rolled towels.

  shutter-magazineShutter:  If you like the "cottage" look, this technique is right up your alley. An old shutter -- as distressed as you want it -- can be transformed into an interesting display, with publications folded right into the louvers.  Hang it... or stand it against the wall (small ones can sit atop a table).  This style is particularly simpatico with a screened-in porch or outdoor covered area... with a nice margarita next to it. (Well?! :-)) What about doing the same with your kids' skinny picture books?  You could even paint each slat a different color. ladder magazine rack Ladder:  Keeping with the vertical theme, this next idea is one which, while simple, might appear a little more sophisticated.  By propping a ladder against a wall, you add a new dimension to your room -- large enough for visual impact but compact enough that it can actually be a space-saver. Wood may transmit a more rustic vibe, while metal may lend itself to a modern feel.  Whichever you select, for heaven's sake, do not spend big $$ getting one from Pottery Barn!  Ladders abound at salvage and "junk" shops and usually come with built-in character. Magazine file folder rackFile organizer:  Still too much trouble?  Check out this next idea. One of the easiest methods for organizing magazines is to hang them over a stacked or "incline" wire file organizer. A few months ago, I purchased one for a buck at Goodwill, and it took mere minutes to set this up on the lower shelf of my nightstand for convenient bedtime reading.  I get compliments all the time for this super-simple, cheap-o  display.  Ha!   Sure, you can buy some very nice (and very expensive) containers, organizers, or display units to perform the same function, but then you will be out dollars that are better-spent elsewhere... and you won't be able to say "Ha!" like me. Just be a copycat and try some of the easier, less costly ideas above... and make sure to send me your photos and feedback! ------------------------------------------- Photo credits:  Towel bar design from Sweethomestyle.tumblr.com.  Wine rack compliments of JunkChicCottage.blogspot.com.  Shutter design from MyRepurposedLife.net. Ladder style from CoryConnorDesigns.com.  File folder organizer photo from Christy Charlton (aka me!).  

Pretty in… plastic?

Like many, I love to entertain.  Also like many, I rarely have the time or money to throw elaborate parties (but still want to at least give the impression that I do!)  One way to add some pizazz to your gatherings is to use simple, inexpensive plastic tablecloths -- and not necessarily in the traditional way of placing them on your tables.

Plastic Tablecloth Ceiling TreatmentTake a look at this easy idea of draping them across your ceiling, canopy-style, with a few balloon embellishments and streamers.  What a great way to add color and texture in a dramatic, eye-catching fashion, with few dollars and little effort.

  This decorating technique could be used for a variety of parties -- celebrating birthdays, baby or wedding showers, and holidays (e.g., Valentine's Day, Halloween, Christmas) --and could feature any number of color combinations to support a range of fun-to-elegant themes. tablecloth door entrancePlastic tablecloths can also be used to create a festive entrance to your party room, by draping them, in swag-curtain style, from your doorframe. Use bows, ribbons, tulle or any other thematic or seasonal flair (pine cones? baby rattles?) to complete the look.  Again, you can use one color or many, depending on the design you're after; and these can be pulled to one side only... or hung so that they drape both sides of your doorframe.  Maybe you want to drop them all the way to the floor so that they "puddle" like fabric draperies.   Last but not least, who has parties without photos, right?  Whether people are taking them for casual Facebook posts or to eventually print and frame as a remembrance of the occasion, snapshots are a given. How about using plastic tablecloths to make an interesting backdrop for your guests?  rainbow-photo-booth-backdrop-11Whether you go a bit whimsical with a rainbow design or opt for something more subtle, alternating light colors, this is sure to delight your party-goers.  You've not only created a conversation piece but a pseudo photo booth!  Add an empty picture frame or other props if you want to allow for more variety.   Whatever your party purpose, plastic tablecloths are an inexpensive and versatile way to add a temporary design to your room(s), without taking hours of preparation to deliver an interesting and memorable effect.  What are you waiting for?  The Dollar Store is just a few minutes away... ------------------------------------------------------------------ Photo credits:  Ceiling canopy photo provided by Toni Roberts (DesignDazzle.com) .  Doorway photo provided by Jaime Costiglio (ThatsMyLetter.blogspot.com).  Backdrop photo provided by Camille (Makoodle.com). For details on the "how to" behind these projects, please visit these sites.

The power of “3”

1068808_38960541, 3 vases of flowers

Years ago, a friend told me that one fail-safe design tip was to always work with odd numbers – and that arrangements or groupings of “3” seemed to be the most magical.  I’ve worked under this premise as long as I can remember and always thought that most people did the same.  However, I’ve recently discovered that, if you’re not in the design world, this may be one of the best-kept secrets locked away from the masses! Grouping of 5 Art Pieces This is a very simple concept that lends to great aesthetics in almost any situation. (There are always exceptions, but this is a great rule of thumb.)   Whether you’re arranging flowers, pictures, vases, items on a mantle… or even shrubbery in your yard, sticking to an odd-numbered grouping will create harmony and more visual interest.  Allowing your eye to survey the entire scene and land in the middle – and sometimes a purposeful focal point – does much to generate an overall appealing design. Whether you see it as a cross between feng shui and psychology or, as some of the ancients referred to it, “the mystical power of 3,” it works.  Try it! --------------- Daisies photo taken by Karen Barefoot.  Art grouping photo taken by Christy Charlton.