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Saturday, March 28, 2009

kitchen inspiration!

french kitchen art

I came across this print and it reminded me of my own kitchen ~ which prompted me to do this post and show you how I came about designing my kitchen in my home.

To start with, I must tell you that we were going to purchase an already built home here in Texas when we relocated from California ….. we looked at hundreds of homes. All beautiful. All larger and detailed ~ more than we had imagined. But all were very similar in floor plan. Walk in the front door, to one side was the dining room and to the other side was the study. In the kitchen, we found the same thing. They all seemed to have a sitting area for the kitchen table and a small island in the middle of the cooking area with an angled counter top where the sink was located. A wonderful look, warm and inviting, but not what I was looking for. Like this:

kitchen small island


Needless to say, after searching those hundreds (literally) of homes in our price range, I couldn’t find the kitchen I wanted so we decided to build our home.

Inspiration Kitchen!kitchen mag 022

Three years ago, after making that decision, I purchased a magazine called The Art of Luxury Living Kitchens. I dream big (I don’t live in luxury – I live on a budget) and this is the kitchen (ABOVE) that I fell in love with. Designer: Richard W. Clift. I knew I wanted a kitchen window that looked into my backyard like this one. After reading about this home, I found that it is a 20,000 sq ft home in Rumson, NJ with the kitchen as the main attraction! I would say so!! I told you I dream big. I knew I couldn’t afford these intricate carved cabinets, so I looked further in the magazine. Let me say this, I pondered over the pictures in this one magazine for months. Well, I kept this kitchen as the basic layout and here is our kitchen (BELOW). Only our home is 3,300 sq ft (but the kitchen is the main attraction!)

kitchen mag 012We have been in our home for two years and as you can see, I still have not put handles on the cabinets. Let me tell you why. One, it is expensive to get handles for all the cabinets. Two, I haven’t decided what I want yet. And three, I am thinking of purchasing resin appliqués for most of the cabinets, and I may also antique the cabinets and paint the bottom of the island black. So with all those unfinished decisions, I decided to wait a bit longer on the handles! ….. but let me finish with how I downsized the look of the inspiration kitchen.

kitchen mag 005

This kitchen (ABOVE) was more of what I was comfortable with. I liked that it was not as elegant, but more country, farm-like in its look. This kitchen is still luxury living, designed by Rose Marie Laraia ~ but it is more my style than the "Inspiration Kitchen". I loved the butcher block island…but they are too pricey and I wasn’t sure how to care for it – long term. If I were to do it over, I think I may have gone that route – for the warmth. What I knew I liked was a dark granite with the white cabinets. I also knew I wanted a shelf with corbels above the stove. And I also wanted the tall cabinets sitting on the counter. This kitchen was appealing with the small drawers under the upper cabinet doors.

kitchen mag 007

I didn’t do the drawers under the upper cabinets (although they were cute) but I did smaller doors so that I could “house” my telephone, small appliances etc. You see, each one of the “cubbies” behind the smaller doors have plug outlets in them. Brilliant, huh? So here is what I came up with: Kitchen window looking out into the backyard. Double, deep sink below the window. Shelf with corbels above the stove top. Large island (4ftx8ft) with veggie/prep sink.

kitchen mag 004

Another view. I still need to add corbels under the counter top of the island (ABOVE).

kitchen mag 013

And here is the second window on the side which was designed from the original INSPIRATION KITCHEN at the beginning of this post!

So, all and all – I wanted to show how you can find a picture of a room you love and make it your own, within your budget, and with your own added creations.

I hope you enjoyed. Someday in the future I will be able to share the appliqués, handles and possible antiquing that I want to do to the cabinets. So many ideas, so little funds. ~ Cheryl :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

am I in Italy?

eatZi’s Market & Deli - Dallas, Texas – click to visitEatzi's Dallas 002Before I go any further, I must tell you that they do not allow you to take pictures inside the market, however, I snuck 3 pictures to share with the blogging world. All employees were eyeing me – but for you - I did it anyway!!! The pictures do not do the market justice. If you are ever in Dallas, you must visit. ~now a little sidetracked ..... Loving the wine crates!!!!!
When you visit eatZi's Market & Deli, you step inside a modern take on an old-world European market. They offer incredible displays in their Chef Case, made-to-order salads and sandwiches, hot, ready-to-eat meals, and Chef's packaged meals made fresh daily. Then, when you're ready to indulge your sweet tooth, you can visit the Pastry Case!!! – I couldn’t get a picture of the pastry area, but you can visit the website and drool!
From breads to snacks, fresh fruit to flowers, cheeses, sides, the finest of wines, marinades, and spreads, eatZi’s has everything you need for gourmet-on-the-go.
I don’t drink wine very often – but when I do – it is Merlot! A red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines . Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. ~ I know, who cares ..... just pass the bottle!!
Eatzi's Dallas 003
Eatzi's Dallas 001
Overwhelming – but Italian heaven!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

morning coffee……..

coffee art Realignment
by Karen Suriano
the spying eyes of sunrise find
me stumbling bumbling to the kitchen blind
coherent thought is undermined
sleep slugs, grey matter intertwined
lurch on undaunted, the freezer is mined
of roasted nirvana for electric grind
scoop and measure the unrefined
then water, heat and bean combined
hiss and gurgle shout most unkind
but aroma kisses with peace of mind
before first sip, much was maligned
but after, my outlook is realigned
coffee mosaic
The "Pros"
Antioxidants. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants .
Parkinson's disease. Regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of Parkinson's disease.
Diabetes. Coffee consumption is potentially protective against the development of type 2 diabetes.
Liver cirrhosis. Coffee drinking may protect against liver cirrhosis.
Gallstones. There is some evidence that coffee drinking may be protective against gallstone formation in both men and women.
Kidney stones. Coffee consumption lowers the risk of kidney stones formation.
Improved mental performance. Caffeine in coffee is a well-known stimulant. Coffee promotes alertness, attention and wakefulness. The cup of coffee can also increase information processing.
Alzheimer's disease. Regular coffee consumption seems to protect against Alzheimer's disease.
Asthma. Caffeine in coffee is related to theophylline, an old asthma medication. Caffeine can open airways and improve asthma symptoms.
Caffeine safety. In 1958, caffeine was placed on the Food and Drug Administration's list as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
The "Cons"
Heart disease. The relation between coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease has been examined in many studies, but the results remain controversial. Most prospective cohort studies have not found coffee consumption to be associated with significantly increased cardiovascular disease risk.
On one hand, diterpenes cafestol and kahweol present in unfiltered coffee and caffeine each appear to increase risk of coronary heart disease. High quality studies have confirmed the cholesterol-raising effect of diterpenes. Coffee consumption is also associated with an increase of plasma homocysteine, a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
On the other hand, a lower risk of heart disease among moderate coffee drinkers might be due to antioxidants found in coffee. Besides that, caffeine can increase the risk of heart attack, especially among those people who carry the "slow" gene variant for the enzyme that metabolizes caffeine.
Cholesterol. Heavy consumption of boiled coffee elevates blood total and LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") levels
Blood vessels. Coffee negatively affects the blood vessel tone and function (increases arterial stiffness and wave reflections).
Heart rhythm disturbances. Coffee can cause rapid or irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias).
Blood pressure. Although coffee consumption is not a significant risk factor for hypertension, it produces unfavorable effects on blood pressure and people prone to hypertension may be more susceptible.
Osteoporosis. Coffee intake may induce an extra urinary excretion of calcium. Heavy coffee consumption (4 cups=600 ml or more) can modestly increase the risk of osteoporosis, especially in women with a low calcium intake.
Heartburn. A cup of coffee can trigger heartburn.
Sleep. Most of us are aware of the stimulatory effects of caffeine. High amounts of caffeine taken before going to sleep, can cause restlessness and difficulty falling asleep, tendency to be awakened more readily by sudden noises, and a decreased quality of sleep. However, some people can drink coffee and fall right asleep.
Dehydration. The caffeine in coffee is a mild diuretic and can increase urine excretion.
Dependence. Caffeine is a drug, a mild central nervous system stimulant, and it produces dependence. Caffeine withdrawal is a real syndrome. You may get a few days of headache and irritability if you choose to quit drinking coffee, however, it is relatively easy to break this habit, and most people are not addicted to caffeine.
So, what is the key? The old principle - "everything in moderation" - holds true for coffee. It is not bad unless you abuse it. Coffee has its downsides, but offers enough good points to make it a worthwhile drink. For moderate coffee drinkers (3-4 cups/day providing 300-400 mg/day of caffeine), there is little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits.
I’ll keep drinking my coffee (in moderation).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a little touch of spring decor ……


024 008

021 My only piece of Jim Shore. Got it in Canton, TX last spring ~ so sweet!


026 013


Needed a little touch of color inside while it is still grey outside.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

day in the yard & serving up Stir Fry Chicken

blossoms and barn 001

Sunday Date Day was a date with the yard … not hubby, he is still recouping. Actually, part of my date day was with my son since he helped on a couple of chores! First I had to take pictures … of the Ornamental Pear Blossoms…as you can see the blossoms are starting to turn to leaves …… so they will be gone shortly.

blossoms and barn 013

I bought this tree last year and kept it in the pot all this time. It was on the front porch and the birds found it. Then I moved it out back against the house … where it sat all winter. Well, it made it through all of that so I decided to finally plant it next to my son’s shop. His shop is on our property. This is where he does “car stuff”. Someday I will show you! So back to the tree - I bought it at WalMart for $14. I can’t wait to look back at this picture in two years to see how much she grows!! ~ Oh, I better mention, my son dug the hole for me!!! That is how planting goes around here, “you” dig, “I” plant!

blossoms and barn 012

Next, we marked/staked the area that I want to have my veggie garden! It is going to be 14x18.

Oh and remember the cabbage flower that I showed you in an earlier post, well this is what happens at the end of the season ~ she blooms a yellow flower! So I moved her to a corner, and washed down the porch and doors and windows … spring is almost in full swing!

blossoms and barn 009

dining makeover 012

And I hope you remember this pic (above)! My inspiration dining room! Well … my son hung the Chandy for me (below)!!! I, of course, put all the crystals on! I didn't realize how similar mine is to the inspiration chandelier (above) until I looked at the picture again! ~ happy about that! . I’m sure "theirs" was probably $2,500 while "mine" was $250. I still need the shades, though.

blossoms and barn 010

After a very busy day, I still wanted to make dinner. First, because I was starved from all the fresh air & hard labor and second, hubby is needing to eat healthy while he is still recouping and I couldn’t just say “you’re on your own tonight for dinner” ! I do say that ~ and then he usually fixes a sandwich and opens a can of soup!!

So, on with my Chefs hat! I’m a two pot gal! One to boil something, the other to stir fry something!

chefartSunday Quick Dinner 004 Sunday Quick Dinner 002 Sunday Quick Dinner 001 Sunday Quick Dinner 006

One thing you must know about my cooking and recipes ~ I never measure (that is why I am a cook and not a baker). I hope my lack of measuring won’t deter you from trying some of them. I really want to show you my cooking habits so that you can see they are quick, easy and basically healthy. Most things you already have in the house, and most of the ingredients can be substituted by something else! My dinners almost always include an onion and olive oil. The olive oil should always be extra virgin cold pressed. I will use any brand, I usually choose it by the least expensive, prettiest bottle! World Market has great bottles of Olive Oil! As you can see in my two pot photo ~ it sits on my stove top always ready!

Recipe: Broccoli & Pork Stir Fry

3 pork chops (or any meat you have – beef, chicken, shrimp, whatever) one large onion, about 4 cups frozen broccoli (I love frozen veggies, no waste or throw away and they are frozen when harvested), a can of pineapple chunks, 2 cups uncooked rice of your choice (I go from brown to white or 50/50), any seasoning you like, I used salt, pepper and curry today! Just throw it in to your taste.

Quick and Easy:

Bring a the pot of water to a boil – add a pinch of sea salt (when the water boils add the rice – stirring occasionally)

Slice your meat, set aside and season

Chop the onion

Heat your skillet or wok with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Once the oil is heated, put in the onion and saute until transparent

Add the meat (in this case pork)

Stir fry for a few minutes just until the meat turns white all over

Add the frozen broccoli and you can salt and pepper if you like!

At this point you may want/need to add a little more olive oil

Stir fry for a couple of minutes

Open the canned pineapple and pour all the juice over the stir fry – saving the pineapple chunks for the end (garnish).

Cover and simmer – stirring occasionally until most of the juice is absorbed (at this point, if you know how to make a gravy you can make a little water/cornstarch mixture and slowly add this to the stir fry to make a bit of a sauce)

Rice should be done. Drain and rinse

Stir Fry should be done.

Rice on dish, stir fry on top, top that with some pineapple chunks, add some soy sauce if you like!

Bon Appetit !

Sunday, March 8, 2009

i really need to know…….??

Are there any McDonald’s in your city that have granite countertops, mahogany wood furniture and booths, marble floors and crystal chandeliers? It is not unusual in and around the Dallas area. So I really need to know where else McDonald’s has this decor. You see, the reason I went to McDonald’s in the first place was for the $1 menu….. but now it’s for the ambiance as well! job search travels 007

job search travels 009

job search travels 008

And while I am posting, I just can’t help to show you a little more of the Redbuds blooming……I have got to get the pictures while the blooms last! So Pretty!!! Yes?

job search travels 002

job search travels 003

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sunset & Chili………

As the sun was setting and the warm glow was shining in my kitchen I was running to get my camera. It was time to start dinner but the sunlight and the reflection of the bananas and the robin’s eggs in my granite island stole my attention. Nothing new.

chili night 002

Those of you who read my blog know that the morning or evening sunlight has a way of interrupting all things I am supposed to be doing. The color is just so spectacular to me!

Isn’t the reflection amazing? And my counter is actually quite dusty...don't be fooled! I certainly didn't have time to dust it or I would have missed the shot. Not that I didn't think of it! chili night 003

Back on track…..tonight is Chili night. I love when my guys say that they want chili because it is easy, quick, inexpensive and I usually always have the ingredients on hand. Best of all, we can get 3 nights of dinners. Whoohoo! As you can see below, I make a huge pot.

What you will need: One yellow onion, 2-3 stalks of celery - sliced, 1lb Italian seasoned turkey meat, 4 cans of beans (your choice). I like to use (1 red kidney bean,1 pinto bean, 1 chili bean & 1 black bean), 1 cup frozen corn (optional), 1 large can petite diced tomatoes, 1 package chili mix, 3 cups water.

chili night 015

chili night 009

Sautee onion and celery, add meat and brown. Once the meat is browned, add the rest of the ingredients (do not drain the beans) and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Top the Chili with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream! Bon Appetite!

chili night 017

The second night you can top a large baked potato with the leftover chili and the fixin’s!


Third night and my favorite, (Chili Salad). Fill a bowl with crisp shredded iceberg lettuce and top it with the chili and cheese! Kind of like a taco salad ....YUM!


During these tough economic times, these three meals are filling and very inexpensive to serve ~ yet they are still nutritious.



Wednesday, March 4, 2009

my secret is out……………

mary puddin 003

When I woke this morning, after getting my coffee and fixing hubby’s “recouping” area ~ fluffing pillows, refolding blankets, spritzing Fabreze, retrieving fresh water and his morning pills ….. I glanced out the kitchen window…. and here is what I saw ~ eating their morning breakfast! We call the “paint” horse – cow horse. This is a family of horses that always stick together. “Cow horse” is the only one that strays a little, the rebel if you will…even though this is about as far as he goes. He’s the teen of the family!

mary puddin 006

A true beauty! I just love starting my mornings off like this!

Today was my day to make my monthly drive to the electric company to drop off our payment. Why not just mail the payment or pay by phone you ask……..

Well … in Texas your electric bill has no grace period of being late. By time I get the bill in the mail, there are not enough days left for me to send it in the mail and be sure it will get there in time. Pay by phone is by credit card only – which is totally out of the question. So I drive 30 miles to drop it off. 30 miles one-way that is. Hubby didn’t know I did this until recently. Since I take care of the finances, I had to explain to him why I had to make this very important drive.

mary puddin 010

Now, normally hubby isn’t home when I make this monthly, dreaded, trek … so he was unaware of what I was up to …….

until today.

mary puddin 009

Two miles before my destination, I stop here. Mary of Puddin Hill. Greenville, Texas! Est 1839. 1839, do you know how long ago that was ????

mary puddin 007 Mary of Puddin Hill is known for their Chocolates and Fruitcakes. I happen to be the 1 (ONE) person in the world who LOVES fruitcake! I know all the jokes! I’m Polish and I love fruitcake! I know ALL the jokes!!!

Pecan Pie


There are also: pies, cookies, peanut brittle, cookbooks and …….

jim shore3

Lots of Jim Shore Collectibles!

jim shore4

And Yankee candles! Did you know Yankee had a new line of candles? Soy!

Yankee Candle

So, since hubby is healing from his surgery, and I left him alone for a while today, I decided he needed a little treat. I got him a new coffee mug and espresso bean candies. My secret was out!

When I got home and showed him the pictures of Mary’s, the catalog they insisted I take, and his “prize”…. (he’s pretty quick, even on Percocet and sleeping pills), “oh, now I get it,” he said, “ you look forward to the drive to Greenville, Texas once a month!”

“Just a little”, I admitted.

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