Friday, April 29, 2011


I had never given a thought to making my own butter until I read Liz Stanley's post about it...

If you have some heavy cream and a stand mixer, you can be on your way.  I still haven't perfected it, but have now made a few batches of regular salted butter as well as some honey butter.

If you are looking for a fun project, you should give it a try.

Being that I am as impatient as I am, I skipped the shaking of the cream in the Ball jar.  I poured a large container of heavy cream into my mixer along with some salt (I am still trying to figure out the right amount of salt), started whipping it on high and just let it run.

Just whip it until it will have some chunks and some liquid.  The liquid is actually buttermilk.

Now, it gets a little messy...just reach in and start bringing all the solid bits of butter together, into a ball.  Squeeze out as much buttermilk as you can.  If buttermilk is left, the butter won't last as long.  Some sites recommend washing the butter under cold water until the water runs clear to ensure that the buttermilk is gone.

And, voila.  You have fresh butter.  Pop it in the fridge to let it firm up...and done!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dinner on the Hudson

I have had this location scouted out for countless months, and have been obsessed with the idea of trying to channel some inner Jordan Ferney and pull off an intimate dinner in a unique outdoor location.  Of course there were details that I didn't get to....but, thanks to the help of my gourmet cook friend, Jean, we were able to pull it off.

Big thanks to West Point for providing such breathtaking scenery.  :)

We surprised Mark and Krissy with this dinner to celebrate the time we have had here together, their upcoming birthdays, and to look forward to future memories.  I can't believe that I didn't spill the beans over the last 9 months to Krissy as I have schemed all these 'pretend' parties in my mind! 

I had originally wanted to keep everyone out of the loop to make it a surprise for all, but it definitely wouldn't have happened without Jean.  I knew that if everything else went wrong, the food would still be out of this world.  And, it was.  Bravo to you, Jean!  As I have mentioned many times, I struggle with menu planning so much...and there was an added level of complexity since everything had to taste okay cold since we would prepare at home and then bring it all down to the river.

Here's what we landed on for the menu:

Jalapenos stuffed with a cream cheese/honey/pecan mixture then wrapped in bacon and grilled.  (Sommer introduced us to these when she and her brother-in-law chef made them for Tim's welcome home party, and they have been our go-to appetizer ever since...thanks for sharing, Sommer!)

Meal - this was ALL Jean...
--Cold beef tenderloin with homemade horseradish sauce - a Mark/Krissy specialty and favorite.
--Zuchinni boats filled with mashed parsnips - YUM!  So gourmet :)
--Roasted tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar...and maybe a few other things I am forgetting.  I will never forget how delicious these were.  And, so beautiful!
--Rolls with the homemade honey butter than I attempted

--Decaf coffee, frothed, of course.
--Martha Stewart's Inside Out German Chocolate Cake (I made this years and years ago for Sean's bday - and I swear, it turned out okay that time.  This time around was disaster city.  The filling oozed everywhere, the cakes were overcooked...bascially a typical Meghan cake.)
--Chocolate covered strawberries (due to last minute panic that the cake may be terrible)

I must have some weird sickness as I had the best time making my list of everything that needed to be carted down to the river to pull this off.  I loved assembling the Rubbermaid containers full of glasses, plates, napkins, tablecloths, candles, etc. 

Jean and I obsessed over the weather all week, and ultimately, decided to go for it, even though it was going to be much colder than we had ever hoped for.  Mark and Krissy knew we were all having dinner that night, but that was all they knew.  That afternoon, I told them to dress warmly, and that they would be picked up at six.

And, I can't forget...special shout out to April for saving me at the last minute and letting me borrow her table since ours was MIA.  Also, huge thank you to my parents, who are my party wing-men.  They were a huge help assembling all the goods, delivering/setting up everything, and even brewing and delivering a steaming pot of decaf coffee!

I wish I would have captured more pictures of the evening, but here is what we got...
Look at those pretty silver bread plates...they belonged to Jean's grandmother.  Love it.

 the chef and master fire starter...
Guests of honor...I was getting teary eyed just thinking about them arriving. 
And, dinner is underway...
Scrumptious.  Jean hit this one out of the ballpark.
and...into the night :)

Thanks to all for such a memorable evening.  We will miss you, Brosnans.  Godspeed, Mark.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


If my accessories looked prettier in their drawers, would I use them more?  Nothing else I have tried makes me accessorize...could this work?

Drawer 1

Drawer 2

In an effort to become more organized and not spend money, I combed through drawers and found my random tea cup collection that hasn't gotten as much use as I would like.  I got this done just in the nick of time before Chantal arrived.  Phew. 


Monday, April 18, 2011

Style me...what I learned.

So, Chantal...she was fabulous.  I was worried that she may recommend clothes that were too high fashion for me or stores to shop at that are completely out of my price range, but she was incredibly sensitive to my lifestyle, budget and likes/dislikes.

So...that afternoon, we went through my closet, piece by piece.  Some of my key take aways...

1.  All my life, I thought 'my colors' were yellow and red.  Those were the only two colors in my entire closet that she picked out and told me the complete opposite.  She was very sweet about it...and just said that they 'don't do anything for me'....who knew?

2.  I had several silk blouses back from the work days, and I thought they were going to be headed for the 'donate' pile, but she said definitely not!  She suggested pairing those tops with boyfriend jeans (which I do not own).  That seemed to be an overall theme of needing to pair something more dressy with something more casual...I still haven't implemented this one yet - kind of nervous :)

3. She helped me figure out how to incorporate more belts/accessories into my outfits.  I guess I should have asked how to accessorize yoga pants :)

One thing that she said to me was that she thinks that I have good intuition, but I just need to follow it more.  I don't feel like I have good intuition, but I do think that I buy a lot of things that
 a. don't fit me or my body style well (need to put a quick stop to this habit)
b.  are cheap, but not good pieces that will last, that I really like or again, that fit me well.

Case in I have been still going through more old photo albums that have resurfaced, it seems that every picture that I see with me in it, I think to myself...why was I wearing that?  I never liked that...that didn't fit me...that didn't flatter my body shape/style....UGH! 

Hopefully my experience with Chantal will help me be more discerning in the pieces that I choose to spend money on and add to my closet.  I need to not buy crap, and instead buy pieces that I feel good in, that will last more than one season, and will work for my current role as a SAHM.

I had asked Chantal to help me figure out what pieces my wardrobe was lacking once we were finished with the cleanse.  These are a few of the things she suggested...
--boyfriend jeans
--two blazers - (i have NO clue where to start with these)
--good white button downs
--more long cardigans
--over the knee boots
--good black flats and maybe a pair in a fun color
--metallic sandals
--sperry top siders
--off white or more neutral pair of converse

Do you ever leave the hair stylist, when you really like how they did your hair, and you get home and am I EVER going to make it look like this again?  That is exactly how I feel about my clothes.  I wish Chantal could be here with me every morning to pick out my outfit for me :).  (no wonder I loved my days in Kindergarten through 12th grade of wearing a uniform!)

The best part is that she is totally willing to check out pieces that I am thinking about buying and giving me her opinion.  She also said I could take a picture of me in an outfit and text it over to her and she will get back to me if she can.  So...she doesn't just leave you out there all by your lonesome.  She's great.  Thanks so much for the wonderful afternoon, Chantal!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Style me

For years now, I have been saying that I really need a stylist.

This became even more clear to me recently when a woman that I see from time to time here on post saw me and said, ' yoga pants today?'  Yes.  I had actually worn jeans for a day, and yes, she went there :).  I started laughing, and I sheepishly said, 'Wow.  I guess you are right!'  She proceeded to say...'well, it's not like you have anywhere to go.'  She didn't mean any harm by it at all, but that definitely woke me up to my super boring mom wardrobe.  Yikes.

Thanks to thoughtfulness and coordination by my friend, Jennyjo, and for the willingness of my husband, my birthday gift was an afternoon with Chantal Hughes, a stylist from NYC.  She was giving a class to the cows (juniors) here at West Point, so after her class, she came over to our house to help me with a wardrobe cleanse.

The day before she came, I scrambled and at least tried to organize everything.  I have to admit, I was pretty anxious about having anyone look through my closet, let alone a person who can call herself a stylist.  Yikes.

Nonetheless, here was my closet before:

And here are the piles after the cleanse....

All the 'to go' clothes, just in more organized piles... (sorry for the night time pictures)

I would say that we got rid of at least half my closet.  We got rid of 22 sweaters, about 14 pairs of pants, most of my dresses, a big pile of maternity clothes, tops galore...on and on...

How did it feel?  Sort of scary...I feel like there isn't much left.  Then, when I think about it logically, not emotionally, I feel elated.  Those were clothes I rarely chose to wear.  Sure, I wore some pieces from time to time, but I don't need to be wearing things that don't flatter my body type, are out of date, etc.  It was very freeing.  I do feel daunted from time to time because I now really need lots of things to replenish/update my wardrobe, but I feel like I need to win the lottery to do so :)

Good thing we did this before this past weekend when we had the yard sale!  The clothes are no longer in the house.  Phew. Done.  No More.

More to come on how fabulous Chantal is, and what I learned...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Laundry Update

I made another large batch of detergent, this time I wanted to figure out the costs and how long it lasts me.  I mixed up '10' batches, and it took me no longer than 15 minutes as I used my food processor to grate the soap.
Finally, the jar looks more full :)

Soap - used 5 bars out of a package of 8
Borax - Used one box (approx. 10 cups in the box)
Washing Soda - Used 1.75 boxes (approx. 6 cups per box)

Soap Cost - $2.50
Borax - $2.39
Washing Soda - $3.59
Total - $8.48

I will update once I figure out how long, from April 7th, this will last!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chair Update - Caned Chair

So, I guess I can sort of cross another chair off the list.  I decided that I would do the caned chair on my own to hopefully be a low cost project.  Maybe one day I will have it reupholstered, but the yellow will do for now....

Here is what I did to it...

1.  Took the seat off the chair which was much more difficult than expected...thanks to Krissy, Jean and Sean, it finally came off.
2.  Green Machined all the upholstery on the chair (should have done this AFTER the sanding, as I will now need to do it again!)
3.  Sanded all the wood
4.  Wiped the chair down
5.  Covered the upholstery on the back of the chair that I couldn't pop off using plastic, paper and masking tape
6.  Spray painted the chair glossy white (three coats)
7.  Reinforced the bottom of the chair with zip ties (those things fix EVERYTHING).

Here is the before of the $10 find:



I still have yet to have Sean screw the seat back on as I feel like a few spots need some more paint.  I absolutely loved how the chair looked when I was spraying it outside, and now that I have it put back together, I am not quite as sold.

But, for the cost of a couple cans of spray paint and a few hours of work, I think it was worth it!  A less than $20 investment...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Transformation of a craigslist find...

Sommer was kind enough to share her amazing chair transformation with me.  She got these chairs for $12.50 each!  What a deal!!  She then sanded and painted them, and started to reupholster them herself, then decided to hire some of that work out (I would have too!).  The results are stunning!  She helped breathe so much fresh life into these chairs.  They have an upcoming move to sunny FL, and this fun geometric print will be perfect.  Thanks so much for sharing this inspiration, Sommer!



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Greek Key

Our master bedroom has been one of my least favorite rooms.  The rug didn't match and it threw me off every time I would walk in...just gave me a non-welcoming vibe. 

April and I hit up the Carpet Mill outlet after some yummy hibachi lunch.  I was hoping to find the perfect gray rug.  I would have loved to find a knock off Fallon rug - something that was in my price range.  Instead, the last rug that I flipped through was a navy Greek Key rug. and gold is one of my favorite combos.  And for the price....well, let's just say I took it home.  Updates soon on the rug's new home....