Halloween Shelves

Our halloween party is this Saturday and we have been in turbo drive trying to get a few things done around here. Of course, nothing goes as planned and there are always hiccups–like, maybe you didn’t order enough wallpaper or something. #thelook  So while there are, no less, than 4 house projects going on around here, I also took it upon myself to transform the reading room shelves into something a little more festive.

reading room progress

Every year we have a “photo booth” set up with lights, camera, action and a backdrop. Last year we actually painted this room green for the backdrop–and it stuck! Haha. The room worked so well last year because it is the first room off of the front door making it really convenient, so we knew we wanted to use it again for pictures. We debated moving the piano and using that wall, but in the end, the shelves–creepified won as the backdrop (we’ll probably still move the piano for the party).

IMG_8523

I worried I wouldn’t have enough stuff to fill the shelves, but decorating for Halloween doesn’t really have to be done with “Halloween” stuff, you know? Filling some bud vases with water and dark food coloring, gathering red and black spined books and turning them backward. Truthfully, a lot of the stuff here was already on the shelves–spider webbing and little crows and rats from the dollar store go a long way.

IMG_8538

There were a few other easy things I did. I clipped some red branches off of the bush in our front yard and stuck them in a mason jar. That wire basket that housed magazines previously, I filled with dark cheese cloth (from the dollar store!) and a slew of gourds.

IMG_8541

I held onto this dead plant for a month knowing it would work well for Halloween. Not that I killed it on purpose. Not that I ever do. Meh.

IMG_8543

I printed off a couple images  I found on vintageprintable.com.  This portrait is creepy and perfect. They have a lot of portraits that are straight up scary, but I didn’t want Greta to have any bad dreams. I also found a good bat printable (bottom shelf) that felt just right for these shelves. It’s such a great source for free art to fill frames, especially for Halloween!

IMG_8535

This candelabra from was one of the only new things I got from Wayfair for these shelves–and something that I can definitely use not just for Halloween. I dripped some red crayon wax onto a few pillar candles (watch the video here) to add a pop of color (sorry to use that term. so very sorry.) and gore; sticking with only three candles, so I don’t have to replace them all for everyday use. Plus, that would kind of be overkill, right?

These shelves and outside will probably be the main areas decorated for Halloween. I have hung bats from the ceiling for the past few years but they are looking tired now. I did get a few more things from Wayfair’s Halloween sale last week to use elsewhere that aren’t fussy, but festive.

Untitled-1

1, 2, 3, 45

Although all of it will definitely set the Halloween mood, everything (with the exception of that spider web tablecloth–which is so so chic, I’ll have to instagram it) can be used throughout the year, too. Maybe I’ll swap out a pillow or two, as well. It is a party.

IMG_8559

I’ll leave you with a night shot so you can get a better vibe. Do you decorate for Halloween? We have 17 pumpkins outside and a couple huge spiders that Greta couldn’t live without–we’ll have to save those pictures for a different post.

Painting of the Week | Ten New Abstract Flats

It’s been over 18 months since I added abstract flats to the Etsy shop and it felt it was about time. I think it is important to have something on your walls that is just for you. That’s one-of-a-kind. That has real paint on it. Art can (and will!) not only change the way a room feels, but the way you feel about a room. In 2012 I started painting these abstract flats–paintings on unstretched canvas, ready to frame–in an effort to bring art to as many homes as possible for an affordable price.

These paintings, although smaller than my 24x30s or 24x36s that you are accustom to seeing in the shop, will still provide your space with lots of interest–at a fraction of the cost. They are ready to be framed when they arrive at your home. And speaking of shipping, the canvas flats also cut down on shipping fees because they can easily be rolled up and shipped in a sturdy tube. Win! Check out the newest 10 up for grabs below or click here to head to the shop.
16x20-Abstract-Flats

Interested in purchasing one? Head to the shop!

Zuppa Toscana – One of My Favorite Soups. Ever.

We don’t eat at Olive Garden often, but whenever I find myself there during colder months, I always get the bottomless soup, salad & breadsticks. And even though they have several soups to choose from, I always stick with the Zuppa Toscana because it is, far and away, the superior option. So imagine my joy when a friend showed me how to make it. Turns out, it’s super easy.

Since we’re heavy into fall now and I love this soup, I chose to make it as my first non-Whole30 meal, and I made it for a lot of people. So I’m going to give you the amounts to make half of what I made (so disregard the sausage count in the picture and stuff like that – just follow the instructions. :) )

CopyCat Zuppa Toscana - The Olive Garden

The ingredient list for this soup is surprisingly short. Here’s what you need (again, disregard amounts shown – the stuff shown made a lot):

CopyCat Zuppa Toscana - The Olive Garden

In order of appearance, the ingredients are:
• 1/2 cup chopped bacon, most of the fat trimmed off
• 4 uncooked links of Italian sausage (mild or spicy, your call), casing removed
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 small garlic cloves, minced
• 1 qt of chicken stock
• 1 qt of water
• 3 medium russet potatoes, washed and sliced into half-moons (about 1/4 thick or so)
• 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes (the more you use, the spicier it will be…is a “duh” called for on this one?)
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 4 kale leaves, thick rib parts removed, leaves washed thoroughly and cut into pieces about 1 inch long.
• salt TT

First, preheat a 5 qt stock pot on medium/medium-high heat. Once heated, add the bacon and cook until almost crispy. Then, add the sausage in beat it up so it’s no longer in link form. Let that cook thoroughly and drain the fat. I do this by removing my stock pot from the heat, pushing the meat to one side of the stock pot, then propping the meat side of the pot up on an old rag or something, so the fat drains to the non-meat side. Did that make sense? Once the grease drains, you can spoon it out pretty easily. Leave a tablespoon or so of grease.

Quick note: the reason you cook the bacon first is because if you add both the bacon and sausage at the same time, the fat remaining on the bacon has a hard time rendering the way it should and you may end up with soggy pieces of bacon fat in your final soup. Not ideal. Moving on.

After you get most of the fat out, put the pot back onto medium heat. Once the meat starts to sizzle again, add the chopped onion and bay leaf and sauté for a minute or two. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so (this is why you left a tablespoon of grease in the pot – to sweat the onions and garlic. Also, doesn’t “sweating” vegetables sound so much worse when the vegetable is onions?).

Add the chicken stock and water, then bring to a boil. Add the sliced potatoes and red pepper flakes, cover, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.

When you’re about ready to eat, add the heavy cream, stir, then add the kale and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt as desired.

CopyCat Zuppa Toscana - The Olive Garden

I always serve soup with a hearty, artisan bread. Unless it’s chili, then I prefer cornbread (but that’s a post for another day). Give this soup a try (printable recipe below) and be sure to come back and tell me how you liked it. Or even if you didn’t, that’s cool too. :)

Cheers, Internet friends. Have a wonderful day.

CopyCat Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden)

Servings: 8

This isn't really a mystery soup. There are lots of copycat recipes for it out there, and mine isn't very different from any of them. I'm not so much trying to blaze trails here as much as I am just encouraging more people to make this really awesome soup.

CopyCat Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden)

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup chopped bacon, fat trimmed
    • 4 uncooked links of Italian sausage (milk or spicy, your call), casing removed
    • 1 yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 qt of chicken stock
    • 1 qt of water
    • 2 large russet potatoes, washed and sliced into half-moons about 1/4 thick
    • 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flake, depending on desired spice level
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 4 kale leaves, thick rib parts removed, leaves washed thoroughly and cut into 1 inch pieces
    • salt TT

    Instructions

    1. Preheat a 5 qt stock pot on medium/medium-high heat. Add the bacon to the heated pan and cook until beginning to crisp.
    2. Add the sausage and break it up using a wooden spoon. Cook thoroughly.
    3. Remove pan from heat and drain and remove all put approximately 1 Tbsp of grease from the pan.
    4. Place the pot back on medium heat. Once the meat begins to sizzle again, add the chopped onion and bay leaf, and sauté until onion begins to become translucent.
    5. Add the minced garlic and sauté until aromatic. Add the chicken stock and water, then bring to a boil.
    6. Add the potatoes and red pepper flake, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
    7. About 5 minutes before it's time to eat, add the cream and stir, then add the kale. Cover the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.
    http://www.chrislovesjulia.com/2014/10/zuppa-toscana-one-of-my-favorite-soups-ever.html