Holiday Baking

So, this post is a bit late, but the week before Christmas I had to drop everything travel to Charleston and come to the aid of my dear mother. She fell and broke her hip and femur. Thankfully it is all now ok, but it was a bit hairy for a little while. I am thankful for the amazing friends and family who were there for us that week, the amazing nurses of Roper 6th floor orthopedic wing, really amazing doctors and surgeons!

With all of that said, I always bake for the holidays. I love baking. It is the one thing that I grew up doing (with my Aunt Jenny and mom) that reminds me of being young and really getting tin the holiday spirit. I was really excited and geared up to let Addison help this year. I know I must have been crazy, a two year old in the kitchen. Alas, that was all put on hold for rightful reasons. Today however, I knew that I had to get our traditional neighbor and friends gifts out, this time as New Years gifts. You all can start your diets after you have enjoyed a couple of my favorite holiday cookies. Italian Pignoli Cookies and Italian Wedding Cookies.

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Miss Mary Mac’s Tea Room Mac and Cheese

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Ok, so I have had a lot of requests for this recipe.  I originally fell in love with the mac and cheese at Miss Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta.  Seriously delicious, so this is my take on the recipe.  I’ve been making it for at least ten years now so it’s changed a little, but the basics are all the same.  I’ve never really written it down so please bare with me! I warn you all, there is nothing low fat or healthy about this one.  Just pure unadulterated delicious cheesy custardy goodness that will put you in a carb coma!

Ingredients

1/2 large box Macaroni noodle of your choice

6 cups water

salt

1/4 cup flour

2-3 cups of milk

1/2-1 cup of heavy cream

1/2 stick of butter

ground white pepper

hot sauce

3 or 4 eggs

boat load of cheddar cheese (around 5/6 cups)

Boil your noodles in water with a dash of salt, about 10 minutes or so.  Strain and let strain while you make your Rue.  There is more of an art to a good Rue so this is the tricky part.

Put 1/4 cup of flour into a sauce pan.  Add about 1 cup of milk.  Put your heat on medium high/high, stir really well so that the flour and milk form a paste of sorts.  This is the part where you are cooking the flour, but you don’t want to burn it to the bottom of your pan.  So add more milk if you need it.  The consistency of your milk should become very thick, almost as thick as a good yogurt. At this point you want to add the remainder of your milk to the pan.  Keeping the heat medium.  The goal is now to get your milk at that similar consistency.  Bring your milk to a low boil, keep stirring or it will go over the sides.  Now turn the heat to low.  You will do this boil, simmer process around three times.  Can’t remember the exact cooking term for this, but it is an important step.  Add dash or more of white pepper, a couple of drops of hot sauce, and a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.

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Now in a separate bowl, beat your eggs until they are light yellow in color.  The next thing you will do is take a small measuring cup full of the milk mixture and beat it into the eggs.  This is tempering the eggs, so that when you add it to the milk, you don’t have scrambled eggs.  After then eggs are tempered (warm) then add the egg mixture to your milk mixture (with the pan off the heat).

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In a medium sized casserole dish, spray with non-stick spray and add a handful of shredded cheese.  Top with your strained noodles and mix the cheese and noodles together.   Now take your milk custard (by the way that is what your milk and egg mixture is now) and pour over your noodle and cheese mixture.  I always mix up the noodles and custard to be sure that it’s evenly spread.  Next top with all of your cheddar cheese.

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I typically will prepare the mac and cheese the day before I bake it.  I am not really sure why, but the custard always seems to set faster/better when I do this.  So wrap the casserole dish in tin foil and put in the fridge.

Bake at 350 degree oven for anywhere from 20-40 minutes.  You want the custard to set. i.e. when you shake the dish, you don’t see a lot of liquid custard, but it jiggles like Jello.  🙂

Your welcome and don’t forget I warned you! Don’t expect to do much of anything after a good serving of this!  Up next on my prep menu… aNut Davetta’s Sweet Potato Casserole!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Emily

The BEST Turkey Brine Recipe…

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So it’s here, Thanksgiving is tomorrow and preparation is in full force.  For the last several years I have been testing out various brining recipes.  Last year, I came across this one.  It either came from one of about three sources.  My co-worker Adam, The Pioneer Woman, or Southern Living.  I hand wrote the recipe and I didn’t write the source down, so my sincere apologies, as I always like to give the original source.  Without further adieu.

Brine for Turkey

2 gallons of water (give or take)

3 cups apple cider ( I probably use more apple cider than water – about 3/4 of a gallon)

2 cups packed brown sugar

3/4 cup salt (I use sea salt)

3 tablespoons tricolor peppercorns

5 whole bay leaves

5 cloves garlic, minced

Peel of 3 large oranges, cut into large strips (I just slice the oranges into whole slices and use the orange pulp and peel)

4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped off

1 turkey

Combine water, cider, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, orange strips, and rosemary in a large pot.  Stir until salt and sugar are fully dissolved.  Bring to a boil them turn off and cover.  Cool completely.  If you are like we are, put your pot on your back porch.  It’s cold enough out there to be a second fridge.  After the brine is completely cool, put your turkey in.  In my case, my pot was not that large, so, take a cooler, put in your bird, then pour over his cold brine bath.  Let turkey bath for 16 to 24 hours.

Before cooking, rise and submerge turkey in a pot of cold water and let sit for 15/20 minutes.  Last year I am pretty sure that I skipped the let sit part, I am pretty sure that I just washed him off and then seasoned with a little butter and put him in the oven.

Then stuff/cook/do whatever you will with your bird.  We will be roasting our lil’ “punkin” as Addison has named her this year.  I will try to remember to post some photos of the after on Instagram, so follow along.

I will also be making the Southern Living, Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie again this year.  Depending on how the day goes, I will hopefully get that recipe up here as well!

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Travel safely friends and enjoy your time with friends and family!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Emily

One Room Challenge – Final Reveal

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Well here we are and we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right?  The time has come for the big reveal of my renovated/completed Living Room as part of the One Room Challenges TM Linking Event. The last six weeks have been interesting. I’ve gone from being super motivated to complete a space that has been sitting in various states of disarray for the last year and a half, to being completely unmotivated and wrapped up in life. I am happy to say, that I have a complete room that I am very thrilled with. Thank you all for your kind words of support and most of all thank you to Linda at Calling it Home for coming up with this amazing concept called the One Room Challenge TM. There have been some super talented people participating this year in both the sponsored group and the linking group! Be sure to check them all out! Feel free to take a peak back at my journey these six weeks.

Week One: The Plan
Week Two: Productivity
Week Three: Procrastination
Week Four: The Freak Out
Week Five: Go Time
Week Six: The Big Reveal

So without further adieu…..

I give you the before….

 Living Room BEFORE

Keep in mind that the furnishings all belong to the previous owner, so no negative comments please.  But this is the view standing in the dining room, looking down into the living room.  We had a 7″ step down that had an ugly dated banister dividing the space.  So, here we go with the after….

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This is for all of you who were on TEAM MAGENTA…. I decided to photograph the space both ways to see how I liked it.  Well, it adds interest, but also weight, which being an inside townhome in Alexandria, you crave natural light.  So anything that took away from that, regardless of how it really started to grow on me, pushed it to the return category.  Don’t worry, I will still be on the search for that perfect lilac/mauve/magenta fabric to make some custom panels.  So until then, my STRIPE neutrals will go back up.

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Another BEFORE

BEFORE view into the dining room....

This is the view standing in the living room, looking back at the dining room.  You can really see the whole space and the possibilities here.  So down the banister went and opened up the floor plan for multiple options of furniture placement.  If you have followed me through this journey you will remember my affinity to symmetry.  There are lots of different versions of symmetry, but I am a traditionalist in that sense and crave the balanced symmetry!

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So I didn’t officially renovate much of anything in my dining room, I do have plans to replace the table and chairs (inherited in my marriage) as well as replace the light fixture.  In the meantime the chairs got a refresh with the fabulous Charcoal Dot’s fabric by Domesticate!  LOVE IT and they really tie the two spaces together nicely.

 The Details…

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My secondary focal wall was important to me.  I have a great focal wall with the fireplace but it was really important to me that you have a great view no matter where you are sitting in the space.  I changed up my original gallery per say, trading out a large white platter, for the amazing gilded angel wings.

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The AMAZING Leopard Lumbar Pillows are from the super awesome Betsy at Little Design Co!  My crazy fun throw back to my original Ibis Lamps, the Tallon candlestick, is from Furbish Studio, a wonderful shop in Raleigh, NC. The prints on the focal wall are from the uber talented Charleston artist, Lulie Wallace.  The gilded Angel Wings are from Ballard Designs.

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A little nod to all of my Meredith College Avenging Angels out there!

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So I decided that I liked the original finish on the coffee table I ordered from Ballard Designs. I am still sticking to my words, they need to open a storefront here in the DC Metro Area!!

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I got super lucky with the light on photo shoot day!  However, I didn’t want to interrupt his nap time!  The white and black pillows are made with the fabric Charcoal Dots from one of my favorite textile designers, Andrea and her company Domesticate!  You can find all of her fabulous designs on Spoonflower.

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Ok, so you’ve asked and here it is….

FULL SOURCE LIST

 Living Room Paint Color: Ellie Gray, Sherwin Williams

Dining Room Paint Color: Palladian Blue, Benjamin Moore

Braided Jute Area Rug

Durham Coffee Table

Blue Slipper Chairs

Leopard Lumbar Pillows: Little Design Co

Faux Sheepskin Hide

Gray Linen Sofa

Charcoal Dots Throw Pillows: Domesticate via Spoonflower

Pink and Blue Ikat Dot Pillows: Stein Mart

Zebra Linen Pillow: Stein Mart

White & Gold Round Side Table: Target

Tallon Candlestick

Carved Wood Basket

Mirror & Gold Round Tray:  TJ Maxx

Mercury Glass Votives: Anthropologie

Blue Ginger Jar

Flowers: Safeway

Blue and White Metal Tray: One Kings Lane

Coffee Service Set

Black and Tan Baskets

Artwork Prints: Lulie Wallace

Gold Artwork Frames: Michaels

Round Dinner Plates

Gilded Angel Wings

Black and Gold Lamps

Silver Bamboo Floor Lamp: Pier One Imports

Off white Cabinet

Kids White Table

Kids Whicker Chairs: Ikea

Large Tilt Mirror: NC State Flea Market Mirror Man

Black/Cream/Gray Striped Drapery Panels:  Fabric G Street Fabrics

Drapery Hardware: Overstock.com

Matchstick Woven Roman Shades: Home Decorators Collection for Home Depot

Boxwood Topiaries: Home Goods

Sunburst Mirror: Ballard Designs

Driftwood Frames: Michaels

Dining Room

Rectangular Decorative Tiles – Black and White : Sid Dickens

Zebra Bust: Anthropologie

Wedding Portraits: Emily Alane Photography

Wedding Portrait Frames: Michaels

So there you have it.  It’s been over a year and a half in the making, collecting, searching, purchasing, re-purchasing, minor demo but it is complete and I’ve got great pretty photos to boot!  Thank you all for joining me on this journey.  It’s been a blast and I am already scheming on how I can complete my master bathroom next spring!  It’s really the last major space renovation that we plan to do in the house and I may be crazy for thinking it can be done in 6 weeks. Be sure to take a peak at everyone who joined me on this crazy journey!  I know I look forward to seeing everyone’s results! I am honestly humbled to see how many of you have taken the time to check out what I am doing and provide me feedback.  Thank you, each and every one of you.  I am still amazed that I have had individuals from far across the globe following little old me.  Again THANK YOU!  If I have made you laugh and given you any inspiration, then I have fulfilled my goal!  I’m still relatively new to this whole blogging thing, so this has gotten me in a routine of posting at least once a week.  My personal goal will be to continue that trend.  So stick around, give me a follow.  I will take you on my journey of life as a commercial designer, mommy of a toddler and wife to a die hard Carolina Panther’s fan and excellent daddy!  Until next week!

xoxo,

Emily

PS for now, I’m going to relax and hang with my two favorite people!  And seriously, how lucky am I to have a friend like Emily Alane Photography!

A and N

One Room Challenge – Week Five

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I am beginning to feel a little nostalgic coming into week 5 of the One Room Challenge, brought to us all by the fabulous Linda of Calling it Home. Partly because, well the majority of everything is complete; leaving me mostly with styling and photographing the space for the big final reveal next week.  For those of you who have just joined us, welcome.  Please feel free to take a stroll back through memory lane of my journey the last five weeks.  I’ve certainly learned more about myself and my comfort zones than anything else these last several weeks.

Week One: The Plan

Week Two: The execution

Week Three: The procrastination

Week Four: The freak out/progress…

Here is the updated master to do list. Next week I will include a source list for all items found in the space, both completed within the One Room Challenge and those that I already had (in the basement “design shop”)

  • Remove horrible and ugly dated banister and patch the (hopeful) hardwoods beneath. Please lord, let the hardwoods be in good shape and please let me not have to keep it for building code reasons. This right here was the “You’re going to do what? Comment.
  • Center seating area on the fireplace. This has bothered me from day one. With the banister in place, it really limits you on where you can place furniture. Until now the couch has been on the banister wall and we have a bowling alley down the middle.
  • Create a secondary focal wall, so that no matter where you sit in the room, you have a pretty view. Have I mentioned that I have and OCD tendency for perfect symmetry? Well this is three quarters done. I still have to paint and mount my large platter holder, but I did get all of the artwork up as well as the other plates, and I am really digging the results.   ,So I didn’t like the way the large platter was reading from my original design plan and felt like the room really needed a slightly more interesting pop in the middle of the two new lamps. So I found a little gem in the Ballard Designs holiday catalog that is a fabulous find, and a little nod to my Alma Matter (Meredith College). I have to save exactly what it is for the final reveal, but I think it is just HEAVENLY!
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Can you guess what I am?
  • Purchase; Frame new artwork prints from the amazing Charleston artist Lulie Wallace. Seriously you need to check out her florals and her new tabletop series. She also has textiles and lunchboxes!
  • Purchase lighting. I really don’t understand why builders don’t put overhead lighting in homes. Let’s face it, cost. So, I am going to attempt to source some super cool lighting that I can use on top of an existing buffet. Then the piece de resistance… ceiling swag for the seating area. I am going to have to get really creative since hubbie is keeping me on a very tight budget for this. Super excited that my package from Shades of Light arrived way early of the ship date. Now, will it make it into the space or not?  Here is my design dilemma, this upcoming holiday we will be purchasing a big, fancy, new LED TV to put over the mantle. Everything that I have wanted to do (with the exception of pot/can down-lights) will impede the vision of the TV. This is not to say whatever I purchased for the space will not find it’s way into my home. In fact, I already know exactly where it is going. Stay tuned to find out, in the room or else where.
  • Purchase a coffee table. Quite frankly it’s embarrassing that I haven’t had one. Or what is worse that we have been using my daughters play table as our coffee table. It’s fair to say, that while the finish may not be exactly what I was hoping for. It really isn’t bothering me enough to make more work for myself. I guess I can always go back and stain the top, but for now, it will remain as is.
  • Keep an area for my daughter to have her play table and chairs. This will also involve the use of creative storage solutions (i.e. baskets galore) to hide those fabulous brain stimulating, make your kid smart, bright and obnoxious toys!  Does anyone else have the issue of toy multiplication? We try to keep all of my daughter’s toys downstairs in a huge finished basement/family room. However, for some reason, I feel as if these toys multiply overnight and spread throughout the house. Until now we’ve done a great job of keeping them consolidated, but I guess now that we actually have furniture and have been spending time in the room, a certain someone wants to spend time in the room as well.
Hey Cinderella, how you doin' ?
Hey Cinderella, how you doin’ ?
  • Make throw pillows. I collect fabric and I’ve found some major winners on Spoonflower.com. While I do know how to sew, it is not something I enjoy. Mostly because to do it right, it requires taking up lots of space and making a MESS.
  • Drink some wine. I figure this will more than likely be a vital part of this challenge. Did I mention I have a two year old and a full time job.
  • Source and or make new MAUVE drapery panels. Still having a hard time typing that MAUVE… So, I may be retreating on the mauve Well here is the big internal fight I have going on in my head this week. Mauve has now turned into Magenta…. Do I, or don’t I. While I do love that the magenta is out of my comfort zone and adds a pop of color that ties in all of my accents. This particular hue of magenta is so rich that it really darkens the space both visually and physically. The room feels heavy, which I really do not love. I found these guys at a recent trip to Ikea and the fact they were done, cheap and done were rather appealing, so they came home with me for a visit. I am giving them one week hung to see how I feel. I custom made my gray/black/ivory horizontal panels for my last home and I have really loved them for their simplicity and ability to go with just about anything. We shall see, what is your vote? Team Magenta or Team Neutral (gray/black/ivory)
What is your vote? Team Magenta or Team horizontal stripe?
What is your vote? Team Magenta or Team horizontal stripe?
  • Accessorize, style and find a photographer to capture some really amazing shots of the completed project. Still searching for that photographer in the Northern VA area that may want to help build their portfolio and help me photograph the final product. I’ve come to the realization that I will be my own professional photographer for the final reveal. Good thing I have a couple classes under my belt, see honey, I do get to use that big fancy Interior Design Degree with a minor in Studio Art…. Actually, I do use this daily in my day job in the land of Interior Design for the Federal Government.
Hit up NeoCon East today.... Not nearly as glamorous as Chicago, but it will do.
Hit up NeoCon East today…. Not nearly as glamorous as Chicago, but it will do.

I’m super excited with all of the progress I‘ve made and while I wasn’t as ambitious as some of my fellow One Room Challengers, it has really forced me to get in gear and finish this space.  I’m already planning how I can do my master bath next Spring!  Of course in true designer fashion, I already own my granite slab and it has been waiting at the fabricators for its install for almost six months now… Design commitment for myself is not as easy and straightforward as one would think.  Anyways, until next spring!  Be sure to check out the amazing One Room Challenge participants on Calling it Home here. Also take a look at the linking participant’s journey to crazy town!  This has been one heck of a journey for me.  I am proud to say, it has been a relatively argument free zone with the hubby.  Partly because I prefaced the whole process with, no commentary on what you like and don’t like until it’s been complete for a month and then, I will take your opinions and discussions.

So next week is the big reveal, so until then I will be in the land of super deep cleaning, flower shopping, styling and photographing!  Pray for a bright and sunny weekend, so I can capture the room in great light!  Until then!

 

XoXo, Emily