Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mudroom Renovation: Storage Cabinet

Our custom Linear cabinet from Room & Board arrived last week (ahead of schedule!) and it is beautiful. I will say it is large -- very large. We had to position it off-center on the wall to allow access to the basement door. But that doesn't bother me. It's such a well-crafted piece and will provide much extra storage. We're very happy with it. Plus, if we ever decide to do something different in the mudroom, we can always use this cabinet in the dining room.

Do I wish there was a little more room on either side of the cabinet? Sure. But we chose this unit knowing it would be large so we could maximize our storage space. A narrower unit in this line would have meant less height and no drawer options, and would not have provided as much storage, which we desperately needed. After years of this room being such an eyesore, we're thrilled to have it looking so lovely. See before photos here.

Linear Modular Custom Cabinet from Room & Board. 84" high by 40" wide by 20" deep in solid cherry with natural steel hardware and base. The cherry will darken over time.

Saddle stitch indoor/outdoor rug from Home Decorators Collection. 3'9" by 5'5" in cocoa/natural.

Floors: Sherwin-Williams (SW) Well-Bred Brown #7027
Walls: SW Aesthetic White #7035
Ceiling: SW Snowbound #7004
Trim: Benjamin Moore Bleeker Beige

I am shopping for storage bins and containers to organize the contents in the drawers and on the shelves. I ordered some from Crate & Barrel and am waiting on some felt bins to become available from Ikea. I've been really into organization lately. Keeping things tidy inside the cabinet will be imporant. I don't want it to become a dumping ground for stuff. I'll share more photos once I get things situated.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Raspberry-Mango Sangria and a Memorial Day Cookout

I hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. While Memorial Day has become a well-enjoyed day off from work, it is most importantly a day of remembrance. A day when we express our gratitude to those who selflessly gave their lives in order to keep our great nation free. To quote Ronald Reagan: "Freedom is only one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." Important to remember.

We enjoyed a busy weekend -- but the three days went by too quickly. We hosted a cookout yesterday with my husband's family and our friends from next door. Paul was in charge of purchasing and preparing the meat -- grilled chicken -- and I made the sides: French potato salad and a mixed bean salad (recipes to come in a future post) and gluten-free fudgy brownies. Our neighbors brought Mexican hot chocolate cookies using this recipe. And because my sister-in-law's birthday is right after Memorial Day, my mother-in-law made a family favorite: Danish layer cake. I wasn't able to enjoy it because of the flour, but I've had it in the past and it's delicious. If you've never had Danish layer cake, you're missing out. Between layers of white cake are a custard filling and raspberry jam filling. The cake is then frosted with whipped cream. Yummy!

I wanted to share with you a recipe for a different spin on sangria that I made for the cookout. It's delicious and very refreshing. And my husband, who is not a fan of mango, liked it too. The blend of flavors is subtle. After prepping the mango, I squeezed the pit to release the juice from the fruit that remained, adding some extra mango flavor to the sangria. 

Raspberry-Mango Sangria

One 750 ml bottle rosé wine
3 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (I used Chambord)
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 mango, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
4 cups (32 ounces) lemon-lime soda, such as Sprite

In a pitcher or large bowl (I used a trifle bowl), combine the mango, raspberries, rosé and raspberry liqueur. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, add the lemon-lime soda and serve over ice.

All that yummy wine-soaked fruit is like dessert! Try serving with picks or skewers so your guests can get to the fruit in the bottom of their glasses.

Our cookout was in the shady back yard and the weather was perfect. My husband surprised me by setting up all the furniture as I was putting the finishing touches on the food. He pulled together the chairs, dining table and side tables from the front porch, a bench from the side entrance and Adirondack chairs from the back yard. He even styled the scene with ferns and a bucket for the wine, with the wine opener conveniently hung over the side. I was super impressed with his styling!

Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

O Olive Oil and Vinegar

Boy, was I excited -- and surprised! -- to receive an email from Sue of the beautiful food blog The View from Great Island telling me I was the winner of her most recent giveaway. I won this gorgeous set of O olive oils and vinegars, complete with a bamboo serving tray! Included in the selection are these oils and vinegars:
  • Organic Tahitian Lime Olive Oil
  • Organic Clementine Olive Oil
  • Honey White Balsamic Vinegar
  • Pinot Noir Vinegar
  • Ginger Rice Vinegar
  • Champagne Vinegar
Sue featured the Sonoma Valley, California, company's products in this blog post and offered a set of six assorted bottles to one lucky winner. And that winner was me -- how cool is that.

From time to time I'll enter blog giveaways, never really expecting to win. That's because I'm one of those people who almost never wins anything. But of all things I could win, this lovely set of oils and vinegars is perfect. And just in time for summer salad dressings and marinades! I can't wait to try them all! I'll definitely be sharing some recipes with you.

Along with the oils and vinegars, O included cards with suggested uses. Here are some ideas for the honey white balsamic vinegar:
  • Mix with cumin, lime, soy sauce and red chili flakes for a delicious marinade
  • Drizzle over arugula and shaved roasted artichoke, tossed with O Meyer Lemon olive oil and shaved Parmesan
  • Pair with blue cheese, black pepper and baby spinach drizzled with olive oil
  • Put a splash into sparkling mineral water for a healthy probiotic antioxidant-rich tonic

The O website features lots of yummy recipes, including a recipe for Moroccan Arugula Salad with Beets, Feta and O Citrus Champagne Dressing featuring the Clementine Olive Oil. I'll definitely be trying this one (but I'll use freshly roasted beets, not canned).

This recipe for Mixed Baby Greens with Plums, Goat Cheese and O Ginger Rice Dressing uses both the Ginger Rice Vinegar and the Tahitian Lime Olive Oil. Sounds delicious!

Even Ella was excited to see what we received in the mail. Stay tuned for some fun recipes! And thanks, Sue, for offering this fun giveaway!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Strawberry Icebox Pie

We did some serious strawberry picking over the weekend with our niece and her 5-year-old son. The fields were loaded with huge, red ripe berries. They were also loaded with people. I've never seen it so busy! After half an hour in the hot sun -- thank goodness there was a breeze -- we left the fields with quite a haul. My husband and I together picked 5 gallons! That meant an afternoon of washing, hulling and freezing berries. I reserved two quarts to make a strawberry icebox pie. More on that in a minute.

My method of freezing strawberries is to rinse and hull them (I use my thumb nail; my husband uses a paring knife). Then I line a few cookie sheets with wax paper and stand the berries on end, side by side, in a single layer, and pop the sheets into the freezer. Once frozen, I put the berries into zip lock freezer bags. We usually pick and freeze enough berries to last a year. In fact, we're almost out of last year's strawberries.

As I was prepping the berries, I remembered a recipe for strawberry icebox pie that I made in 2010. This recipe is very simple to make and is almost no-bake -- only the crust goes into the oven for 12 minutes; the rest is done on the stove top.

The only thing I was unsure of was the graham cracker crust. Since going gluten free, I've avoided wheat-based cookies, including graham crackers. However, I have found that I'm not bothered by some organic wheat products, like Annie's organic mac & cheese and my favorite pizza place, which uses Italian wheat. This has led me to suspect it could be the herbicides used in U.S. wheat crops that cause the symptoms I'd been having -- and I've heard other people suggest the same thing. I decided to try this recipe using organic graham crackers -- a sort of experiment. So far, so good. I might be on to something. Next, I think I'll try baking with organic wheat to see if it affects me negatively.

For now, I'll be enjoying this yummy strawberry pie. Nicely chilled, it's the perfect dessert for warm weather dining.

Strawberry Icebox Pie


10 organic graham crackers (2.5 x 5")
1 cup sugar, divided
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup no-sugar-added cranberry juice
2 quarts strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, blend graham crackers with 2 tablespoons sugar until finely ground; add butter and pulse until crumbs are moistened. Press mixture into the bottom and up the side of a 9" deep dish pie plate. Bake until crust is lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
2) In a medium saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, cranberry juice, 2 cups sliced strawberries, cornstarch and salt. Using a potato masher, gently mash strawberries. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently until very thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in the remaining strawberries. Pour into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours, or up to 1 day.
3) In a large bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks return (do not over-beat). Spread whipped cream over pie, leaving a border of strawberry filling around edge. Garnish with a whole berry.
from Everyday Food


Friday, May 15, 2015

On the Porch

Time for my yearly porch planter update. There's an adorable little garden shop that I frequent every year for my front porch container plants. I also like to buy houseplants there and it has a great gift shop also.  

Below is a photo I took on day one. Clockwise from right, are:
  • Kong Jr. Lime Vein coleus 
  • Arroyo Grande fuchsia
  • Silhouette Appleblossom double impatiens (a very beautiful pale pink)
  • Alternanthera "Little Ruby" 
  • Asparagus fern

On the other side is Silhouette Cherry Red double impatiens. Lots of buds on this plant! 

Next are photos of the container eight days later. Look how the plants have filled in already, and the fuchsia is blooming beautifully. I think the Appleblossom double impatiens might be my favorite of the bunch, though. With its pale pink color, which is prettier in person than in these photos, and lacy petals, it is so feminine and delicate! At night, the blossoms glow in the moonlight.

Another addition to the porch is this attractive three-panel wood gate by Martha Stewart Pets. Now the dogs can enjoy being with us as we dine and relax on the front porch. This gate is perfect. It's wide enough to span the width of the stairs, but the hinges allow it to fold for easy storage. Two feet, one on each of the outer panels, provide stability. Henry and Ella are very happy about this new purchase, and so are we!

Henry says he hopes you are enjoying these beautiful days of spring as much as he is. Thank you for visiting My Little Bungalow!
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