Recipe: Slow Cooker Potato Soup

It’s Friday and it’s the first really Fall day we’ve had here in SC. It’s so great! I’m so excited. I can’t say that I’m breaking out the fall clothes (because I already did that). I can’t say that I’m going to decorate (because I already did that). I can’t say that I’m going to cook something warm and hot (because I already did that). Hmm… I might be impatient for Fall to get here. I LOVE FALL!

So instead of doing those things, I’m going to share a great Fall/Winter recipe with you. I started making this last year and it’s one of our favorite easy weeknight meals.

Slow-Cooker Potato Soup
Ingredients:
5 lbs of potatoes, peeled (don’t put them down the sink though!)
Chicken broth(4-5 cups, depending on the size of your slow cooker)
1 stick of butter
1 cup of half-and-half (you can use fat free)
12 oz. Bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Shredded cheese and sour cream for toppings

1. Chop the potato into medium size chunks. Place in the slow cooker. Pour in the chicken broth until the potatoes are just covered.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup
2. Cook for however long you want. I’ve done it on high for 4 hours and I’ve done it on low for 10 hours. It really doesn’t matter. You are cooking the potatoes until they fall apart.

3. I removed 1 cup of chicken stock because I prefer a thicker soup. If you want it thinner, leave it in. I figure you can always put it back in later to thin it out.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup
4. Using an immersion blender (if you have one) or a potato masher or whatever you have, blend the potatoes until they are the consistency you like it. I like mine really smooth, but some people like chunks. Again, it doesn’t matter.

Slow Cooker Potato SoupSorry about the quality of these pictures. They didn’t turn out very well.

5. Add in the half-and-half, butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and anything else you might like, stir until combined. If it needs to be thickened, you can add sour cream. Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes to let it thicken up.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup
6. Add half of the crumbled bacon and serve with some crusty bread (yes, I like carbs).

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

BEST FALL SOUP EVER!
 

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Happy Friday!

Sunroom Reveal (and Source List)

I know, I know I’ve been promising it for weeks! I’m actually not completely done. I have some projects that I’d like to tackle in this room, but for now, it’s done. We’ll call this temporarily complete. Smile There’s always more projects, right?
I’m going to do a source list as well, but it’s really not going to be very helpful since this room was furnished with free or very cheap furniture and projects.

BEFORE:


Sunroom
This room was actually in pretty good shape for me. I did very little painting in this room. It was all projects, which was fun but time consuming. The only painting I did was touch up the baseboards and wall that needed it.

Sunroom
GROSS! Sorry for the bad picture… I had to zoom in from the one above.
AFTER:
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This is a 360 view to give you an idea of the layout.

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Curtains: Homemade, Fabric from Hancock’s Fabrics (see post HERE) (9 yds @ $9/yd)
Daybed: Craigslist.com, $95 (INCLUDING MATTRESS… but I bought a plastic mattress cover for $12)
Mattress Cover: slipcovershop.com, $35
Pillows: two King size pillows in back, Marshall’s, $12 ea., others are from random places.
Lamp/Side Table: hand-me-down from my co-worker, Shari. I LOVE FREE STUFF! Thanks Shari!
Coffee Table: Habitat ReStore (see post HERE)
Coffee Table Tray: Homemade (see post HERE)
Basket with Apples: Walmart, Basket was $3 and the apples were $1ea. They look really real!

DSCF1055Chaise Lounge: Hand me down from my Mom (she’s awesome, too)
Slipcover: Handmade (see post HERE), $55 for fabric from Fabric.com
Throw: Pottery Barn Outlet, $35

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Wicker chairs: SMALLER: Craigslist.com $20, LARGER: Gift from my AWESOME sister-in-law, Misty. Both are painted Rustoleum Green Apple (see post HERE),

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White Cabinet: Ballard Designs, 10 years ago, added mirrors (See post HERE)
Lamp: Target, 6 years ago
Iron Shelf: Christmas gift from my Mom years ago

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Flower Toilet Paper Art: Handmade (see post HERE)

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Here was my inspiration picture:



It ended up looking nothing like this, but I still love it. The original cost for the room in this picture is around $3700 (their fabric was $130/yd!!!)

My Final Cost: $400ish


10% of the cost! How’s that cheap?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Final projects:
Bed Skirt: I have a ton of this fabric left over, so I thought I’d make a bedskirt to go around the day bed.
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Rug: I’d love a rug to go under the coffee table area. The tile can get super cold (and it’s not even winter yet). It would be nice to have a warm vaporizer for my kid.

Those will get done eventually. The bed skirt will basically be free since I’ve already included the cost of that materials in the room.

What do you think? I love this room and I LOVE that I finished it just in time for fall. I’ve already spent a few hours curled up on the bed or the chaise with a  book and that throw. John sits out here with a cup of coffee in the mornings to do his bible study. It’s such a peaceful and happy room.

Toilet Paper Roll Wall Art

I am now the proud owner of wall art made entirely of toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. Total cost : 3.50 (for spray paint). I went all out on this one. Sometimes you just have to be willing to splurge on the important things.

Seriously, this project is the epitome of upcycling. These toilet paper rolls thought their destiny had them in a trash heap at the dump. Not in a million years could they have imagined something quite so glamorous.
Toilet Paper Roll Art
I saw this project on Pinterest a few weeks ago and I even mentioned it HERE. Now, the Pinterest picture was slightly cuter because they had a cute kid looking all happy and holding the flower. I didn’t have any cute kids hanging around last night, so don’t dock me for that. The original project came from Inspirations Decorations and she did such a good job.

Toilet Paper Roll Art
TUTORIAL
1. Collect a bazillion toilet paper and paper towel rolls. I think I ended up using some where around 30 paper towel rolls and close to 50 toilet paper rolls.
Though, it was really fun to ask people to save their toilet paper rolls for me. Their expressions were priceless.
Toilet Paper Roll Art
2. Cut all of the rolls in to 1 inch circles. I could have measured, but I didn’t care if it was perfect. I eyeballed it and got about 10 circles out of each paper towel roll and 4 out of each toilet paper roll.
Next, squash them all so they look more oval than round. Sorry about this picture. Apparently, my camera was more interested in focusing on the items behind the paper.

Toilet Paper Roll Art
3. Now start gluing them together. I used my hot glue gun.

Toilet Paper Roll Art

Toilet Paper Roll Art
4. One you have the inner flower finished, it’s a matter of filling in the gaps until the flower is as big as you’d like it to be. I had a big blank wall, so mine has a diameter of 31”. That took about 300 “petals” (calling them petals makes it seem so much better than toilet paper).

Toilet Paper Roll Art
5. Once it’s as large as you want, then spray paint it. That was the only real expense in the project.
Total cost is $3.50 plus a lot of time. I probably could have done this faster if I weren’t watching a combination of So You Think You Can Dance (seriously, Melanie better win) and HGTV Design Star (Why is Cathy so horrible? She really shouldn’t take her personality cues from Omarosa any more).

Toilet Paper Roll Art

Toilet Paper Roll Art
See how big this wall is? My huge flower is dwarfed by it.
There are other versions of this project on Pinterest:

Toilet Paper Roll Art

Toilet Paper Roll Art
I love that last one! I’d also love to see what versions you’ve seen around of upcycling random items into something new?

Fall Walnut Wreath

In case you missed my guest post last week at J&M Eye Candy, I wanted to show you the fun fall wreath I made a few weeks ago.

Most of you know that I LOVE blogs, Pinterest, crafts, DIY (most of the time), free stuff and FALL. Put them together and what do you get?


My Fall Walnut Wreath!
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I found my inspiration on Pinterest:
yay2aThis is by Katie at Little Things Bring Smiles and hers was made out of acorns. It’s so happy but still says FALL all over it (and how stinkin’ awesome is that door?) But remember how I like free stuff? Yeah, I don’t have any free acorns, but I have WALNUTS coming out of my ears:
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All those black dots on the dead grass are walnuts. Hundreds upon hundreds of walnuts. NOT KIDDING.

Please don’t judge me based on the condition of my yard. We moved in after the point in the summer that we could do anything about it… and then we might have forgotten to water for the majority of the summer. That’s the learning curve when you come from a townhouse where there is no yard work. So we’ve had to wait until now to start to fix it. We’re about to aerate and reseed (no fun at all).

Anyway, ignore my tangent. Back to the wreath:

Materials:
DSCF1011LOT OF NUTS, whatever kind you like or may be covering your yard like a blanket. It took about 150 nuts to cover my wreath form
14” wreath form (you can use straw but I used foam because it was on sale)
hot glue
Spray paint in your color of choice
Wire Edged Ribbon

1. You can bake your nuts to make sure that the buggies inside are dead. I didn’t because I knew that the 3 coats of spray paint was going to do that.

2. Glue the nuts to the form using the hot glue. It’s easiest to do one side first, but it would probably be more uniform if you go all the way around.
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3. Start gluing the nuts to fill in the gaps left by the previous row. This becomes a bit of a puzzle. Unless you have perfectly uniform nuts (probably not), then you’re going to have some that are smaller and some that are larger. There will be small gaps. It’s ok.
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4. Flip it over and start on the next side. This really gets tricky because you have to find just the right nut to fill in the last gap between the two sides. Thankfully it’s the back and you don’t really have to worry about people seeing it to much (unless you have a glass door like me).
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5. Fill in the gaps with small nuts or hot glue if it’s really small. You just don’t want it to be a deep hole.
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6. Prime the wreath.
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Doesn’t it kind of look like I made a wreath out of pearl onions? Note to self: Don’t make a wreath out of pearl onions. It’s not cute.
7. Spray paint wreath. I went with brown because my house is white and my door is red. Green would have looked to Christmas-y and a burnt orange would have clashed with the door. Are you wondering why I even bothered painting it? Me too kind.
8. Create a loop with the bow to go around the wreath. The wreath will be too fat to hang on a normal wreath hanger. Create a bow to cover up the hanger.
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ENJOY!

It’s a super simple project, even though it’s a little time consuming. Just pop in a good movie and glue away. I love the finished product!

How to Make a Jewelry Frame

Jewelry Frame

Last week, I was visiting one of my favorite blogs, Bower Power, and I saw the information about their Pinterest Challenge!

The purpose is to get us to stop just pinning everything and actually make something that we’ve pinned. It’s being hosted by four fabulous bloggers: Bower Power, Young House Love, Ana-White and House of Earnest. I immediately knew what I wanted to make. My best friend told me about a jewelry frame that she’d seen on pinterest that she was making a couple of weeks ago. So I went to look it up and this is what I found:

Jewelry Frame
It was on Apartment Therapy’s blog and it’s awesome. Unfortunately, I don’t have a walk in closet or an entire wall to devote to Jewelry. I decided on a smaller version of it, but it definitely solved a problem. This is what my jewelry box looked like yesterday:

Jewelry Frame
Embarrassing, right? Ever since the move, I haven’t been able to find a place to set up my earring trees which is where they hung before. So they’ve stayed in my jewelry box and every morning I try to (1) find a matching pair, which is difficult and (2) untangle them from the bracelets, other earrings and chains that they are wound around. Super fun.
TUTORIAL
Here’s what you need:
Picture Frame (Hobby Lobby, $11)
1/2 yd. Burlap (Hobby Lobby, $3.99/yd)
Staple Gun
Fray Check
Fabric ChalkElmer’s Craft Spray Glue

Jewelry Frame
1. I found the picture frame on clearance at Hobby Lobby. It was black and gold, I spray painted it, distressed it a little and pulled the back off.

Jewelry Frame
2. Use the chalk to outline the burlap to fit the frame. Cut it out.

3. Go outside and do a coat of the spray glue on to the frame. Let it dry for 1 minute before applying the burlap.

4. Starting on one end, stick the burlap to the frame. Pull it as tight as you can get it so that when you put the jewelry on, it doesn’t sag. When you get to the frame hangers, cut the burlap around them before securing them down:

Jewelry Frame

Jewelry Frame5. When you pull the burlap tight, it will make it bigger than you need it and hang off the edges of the frame. Cut off the excess.

6. Apply “Fray Chek” to the edges of the burlap to stop the fraying.

Jewelry Frame
7. Staple lots around the edges of the frame and burlap. I did two rows of staples spaced about 1-2 in. apart.

8. Hang and enjoy!

Here’s the finished product:

Jewelry Frame

Yes, I know I have too many earrings. Total Cost: $14

This is the best part… my jewelry box now looks like this:

Jewelry Frame
So much better!

Holiday Decorating (for real)

So I was completely side tracked with my post yesterday. I realized last night that although my title was “Holiday Decorating,” the post had nothing to do with that. I have a tendency to think I’m going to write about one thing, but then my post goes in a completely different direction. But normally I remember to change the title later…

So, here we go with my Christmas decorations for real…

We picked up our tree on Thanksgiving night! We’ve never done that before, but I think we were both excited to get it and have it be the first decoration in our new house. This is by far the biggest tree we’ve ever had. We had such a small space for it in the last house. This one feels so big and I love it!

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I’m a big proponent of real trees and wreaths and swags and garland, but this year, I actually bought a fake wreath. I bought it from Michael’s for $10 and then bought the two small porch trees from Garden Ridge for $20 for the set. So for the price of one real wreath, I bought everything I’ll need for a few years:

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In the entry, I put my new manger. My father started me on this collection a few years ago with the shepherd and the camel. Mary, Joseph and Jesus were sold out that year. So I’ve never been able to display it because what’s a manger without Jesus… it would be weird. My sweet husband bought the nativity for me last year, so this it the first time I get to use it!

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I made it very simple with a base of burlap and some clippings from my tree as the greenery. There’ll be more to show you throughout the month. For now, I’ll finish up with the mantle. I had a hard time with it since this year’s mantle is at least 1 1/2 feet bigger than last years. It made everything feel small:

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I love the way it turned out. I made the wreath before Thanksgiving with my Mom. I have a full tutorial for you on over at Type A Decorating’s Christmas Series:

Be sure to check it out HERE!

Have you started your decorating? Are you completely finished? On second thought, don’t tell me if you are, it’ll make me feel bad that my boxes have been sitting open in our spare room for 3 days.

Silver Pinecone Wreath

I finally have something new to show you! It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve done a fun project, which is crazy. The whole name change thing took up most of that time and then I might have become obsessed with the Hunger Games series and spent about 5 days doing nothing but reading.

While my Mom and I were at the Country Living fair, we saw these amazing silver, wooden wreaths. I wanted to buy one but couldn’t bring myself to pay $60 for a wreath, so I took the inspiration and made it my own with a pinecone wreath.

I planned on making the pinecone wreath myself, butt then I spotted this at Home Depot:
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For $20, all the hard work was done for me. It would have been at least $12 for all of the materials and the effort splinters time involved to make it myself was definitely worth $8 to me. But if you want to make it yourself, Hi Sugarplum just did a great tutorial on one. Check it out HERE

I sprayed on two light coast of Rustoleum’s Metallic Spray Paint in Satin Nickel
I let that dry (only because I didn’t want spray paint all over my fingers)… then sprayed a light coat of Elmers Spray Adhesive:

Then coated it in Martha Stewart Craft’s Fine Glitter in White Gold (available at Michaels):

It took a couple rounds of glue and then glitter to get it fully covered but here is the result:
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My husband thinks I’m beyond weird for putting a wreath in a powder room, but I love it. I might leave it up all year… but definitely through the winter.
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I know, its practically heresy to use a flash indoors, but I wanted you to see the bling.
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On another note, I probably won’t post again until Friday, so this year, I’m thankful for:

  • a new future sister-in-law
  • John finishing up the bulk of his Masters classes next month
  • my brother’s new job
  • celebrating our first holiday season in our new home

What are you thankful for? I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Favorite Projects of 2011

Ah! You know that feeling when it’s a new year (or even month in some cases) and you always keep writing the previous year? Yeah, I just got used to writing 2011 and its about to be 2012!!! How is that possible? This has been an amazing year for us and I feel so blessed.

Since many of you have not been around since the beginning, I wanted to reminisce about my favorite projects of 2011 (the titles are links to the posts if you want to find them quickly):

#10
MOVING!
It felt like a project to us and it’s created all the other projects. We love our home and can’t wait to continue to transform it.
#9
FAMILY ROOM BEFORE & AFTER
#8

KITCHEN CABINETS BEFORE AND AFTER
#7
TOILET PAPER WALL ART
#6
JEWELRY FRAME
#5
CHAISE SLIPCOVER
This would not be one of my top 5 projects to make again, but I have enjoyed the result of it.
#4
Ceiling Tile Mirror
CEILING TILE MIRRORS
#3
COFFEE TABLE MAKEOVER
#2
SUNROOM REVEAL
This is probably my favorite room in our house. I read and nap out here and it’s a completely relaxing space. Plus, I had given myself a very strict budget to complete this room. Everything in this room cost my just over $400 (thanks to some very generous family members and Craigslist).
DRUM ROLL PLEASE… MY FAVORITE PROJECT OF 2011 IS…

POWDER ROOM STENCILING

Homemade Gift for My Husband

I spotted this super cute little wall art/sign at an antique store in Asheville over the summer. I knew I wanted to try to make one for my husband, because I’m not paying $55 for it!

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TUTORIAL

12” x 24” Art Canvas (40% off at Hobby Lobby: $7.99)
2 packs of Scrap booking Sticker Letters ($5 ea)
Elmer’s Spray Adhesive Glue (on hand)
Spray Paint (on hand)

1. First, determine what you are going to say and how many lines. Mine was going to be 19 lines, so 24/19 = ~1.25

Each line needed to be about 1.25”, so I marked it off to give me a grid for placing my letters:
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2. Lightly spray the entire canvas with the spray adhesive to help the letters stick.

3. Start placing your letters:
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You will use a lot of letters that make “You are the” and “to my”… that’s why you need 2 packs.

4. Keep going until the entire canvas is equally filled:
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The second pack of letters were white… which is why you can’t see them.

5. Spray the paint the entire canvas.
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6. Let dry overnight. Then peel off the letters. That’s it!

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Not bad for $17 compared to $55!

Tag! You’re It!

Suzy at Saved by Suzy tagged me in this little game going around the blogosphere and I’ve decided it’ll be fun to play along.

Each person answers a series of 11 questions from the blogger that tagged them, then they tag 11 more bloggers and ask them more questions. Just a fun way to get to know more about other bloggers.

1) If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be?

I would take a trip with “That the World May Know” ministries to Israel. Ray Vander Laan is by far the most gifted teacher that I’ve ever had the experience of hearing. He takes groups on trips to Israel to follow the steps of Jesus, understanding Christ’s teachings and the culture of the original audience.

2) What is your dream job?

Producer on “The Today Show”

3) What is your favorite book?

If you can make it through the first 50 pages, which can be crazy depressing… this book will change your understanding of the Lord’s love for us and His desire to save us from ourselves.

4) Name an item on your bucket list.

I want to go to New York at Christmas time. Not necessarily on Christmas day and definitely NOT on New Year’s Day, but maybe the week before Christmas.

5) Do you speak any other languages?
My husband thinks its hilarious to tell people that I speak French (which I don’t). So then I’m sitting there going… “um… Bonjour?”

6) If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I would live right here in SC. Now, if I could live some where else for a year or two and come back… then it would be some where in the French country side and I would have stables and a vineyard (even though I don’t like wine).

7) If you could change anything about your current home, what would it be?
I would 2-3 windows in every room of the house. I think the builder forgot to do it.

8) What is something you’ve learned from blogging?
People aren’t as critical as you think they are. They want you to succeed and they want to cheer you on. The first step is to put yourself out there and give them a chance to encourage you.

9) If you could take any type of class, what would it be about?
French? Then I wouldn’t look like such an idiot when my husband puts me on the spot.

10) If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?
My husband. Boring, I know, but very true.

11) If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
I know I’m supposed to say something like… “I’d be more charitable.” or “I’d love myself more,” but the truth is that I’d lose 30 pounds. Yeah, I’m kinda vain. Oh.. maybe I’d be less vain?

OK so now, a little housekeepingto keep the game moving.

RULES:

  • You must post the rules (CHECK!)
  • Answer the 11 questions that the tagger posted for you
  • Tag 11 people and link them in your post
  • Create 11 questions to ask the people you’ve tagged
  • Let them know you have tagged them

11 BLOGS TO TAG:
Carrie at Hazardous Designs
Aubrey at All Things Bright and Beautiful
J at Design OCD
Jenny at Evolution of Style
Janel at Hating Martha
Shanna at Swoon & Style Home
Erin at His & Hers
Jenn at My Fabuless Life
Brittany at The Coleman Chronicles
Anna at Directions Not Included
Bec at Little Lucy Lu

My 11 QUESTIONS FOR YOU:
1) What is one thing you can’t live without?
2) What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
3) Name one thing on your bucket list.
4) What is in your purse right now?
5) Is there a 2012 resolution that you’ve already broken? What was it?
6) What is one thing everyone should know about you?
7) What is one of your pet peeves?
8) How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
9) What is your dream vacation?
10) If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?
11) What is the greatest gift you’ve ever been given?

I can’t wait to see everyone’s answers!
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