Friday, June 26, 2015

Over on eHow: Rustic Tree Stump Side Tables

We've constructed a new pair of rustic end tables, using little more than tree stump slices and hairpin legs. find the full furniture tutorial for these tables newly published in our eHow project series.

These end tables are an updated version of the original tree stump side table we made a few years ago. With a shorter overall tree slice, we were able to install longer hairpin legs in a bright white finish and while still solid, the overall table is lighter in weight than the original.

You may remember how we originally found the tree slices for these tables back in April during a day trip up to Madison County. I'd stopped along the roadside where a tree had recently been cut down and the homeowner was happy to bid farewell to a few slices:

Because wood changes, warps and cracks as it dries, it's better to work with it once it's dried out. We let our tree slices dry out over a 3 month period indoors before starting on the tables.

It's amazing what a few power tools can do — swipes with a planer and palm sander do wonders for exposing a clean, smooth layer of natural wood grain for the table surface. On the flip side we worry less about the surface finish since it's an area nobody will see (except for crawling nieces and nephews maybe).

We went with a bright, modern, clean white powder-coat finish for the hairpin legs. Because standard side tables measure between 20-24 inches, you can gauge the leg length you'll need by subtracting the stump slice height by your ideal table size. In our case, we ordered 18 inch legs to pair with a 6 inch stump, resulting in a 24 inch side table height. We found our hairpin legs on Etsy from a local Richmond favorite, Cream Street Shop:

One of our favorite ways to protect and seal natural bark to bring indoors is by applying a thin coat of clear finishing spray. The matte finish still gives the bark a super natural look, but keeps any additional dirt and debris from crumbling onto the floor once inside:

We love how tables like these bring an instant mix of natural, rustic feeling to any space along with sleek modern touches from the hairpin legs.

As with some of our other larger projects, we brought the tables upstairs to photograph in Stephanie's old room, which is now light-filled and pretty empty (but a great photography spot, ha). The tables are actually living as end tables downstairs between our two family room couches, which has been a welcome update.

Head on over to eHow to find our full tutorial with step-by-step instructions for making a single table or set of your own! Oh, and if you like the look of our little turtle planter friend hanging out on the table, find the tutorial for making one of these guys here.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Mulberry Galette Tart Recipe

June notoriously means mulberry season here in Virginia. Mulberries are similar in appearance to blackberries and raspberries, but grow on trees and have a milder berry taste. They aren't commonly found in markets, so we look forward all year to that small seasonal window where the trees produce fruit.

Mulberries can be eaten by the handful and incorporated into all sorts of delicious recipes — from cocktails to baked goods, and even butter. We've even been known to feed them to Basil straight from the tree when in peak season — they're truly a welcome treat for all.

Today I'm going to share one of my go-to, super simple recipes for homemade dessert — a mulberry galette with fresh whipped cream topping. This is one of those recipes where most any seasonal berry can be used as the base; it's especially nice with mulberries in the height of their season.

  • Pre-made pie crust (ready-to-bake versions work well)
  • 2 cups fresh mulberries
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons flour
  • Juice from 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 cup fresh heavy whipping cream (divided into 3/4 & 1/4 cup portions)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Unroll pre-made pie crust over a greased baking sheet. To make the galette filling, combine the mulberries, sugar, juice of one lemon and flour in a mixing bowl. I tend to leave the stems on the berries since they cook down during the baking process (and I'm sure there's an added health benefit in there somewhere), but if you prefer no stems, it's perfectly fine to remove them before making the filling.

Spoon the berry filling into the center of the pie crust, spreading out gently and leaving a 1 1/2 to 2 inch border all the way around the crust.

Working your way around the sides, fold a section of the crust border overtop the berry filling, overlapping each section until the galette has taken shape and the center of the filling is exposed.

Brush the surface and edges of the pie crust with the 1/4 cup portion of fresh heavy whipping cream. The protein and fat in the cream helps to create the golden brown texture and slight sheen of a finish, similar to a traditional egg wash.

Transfer to oven and bake 20-30 minutes until the edges are golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove, allowing to rest and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

While the galette is cooling, make the fresh whipped topping. Using the confectioners sugar, vanilla and remaining 3/4 cup of fresh heavy whipping cream, blend together in a chilled mixing bowl until soft peaks form (find detailed instructions for homemade whipped topping here).

Slice the galette, topping with a dollop of fresh whipped cream to serve.

This dessert can be made ahead of time and left on the baking sheet with foil in a warm oven until ready to serve. Similarly, fresh whipped cream can be made in advance and will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Great Gardenia Purge

We've just returned home from a week in London and are looking forward to sharing a photo recap early next week — before doing so we wanted to pop in with a little front yard update we tackled before heading out.

In what we are calling The Great Gardenia Purge of 2015,  you can see we've done quite the bit of "pruning" out front:

Yep, the gardenia hedges are no more.

Here's the backstory. When we first moved into this house 3 1/2 years ago, we loved the look and feel of the hedge-lined brick walk up to our front door. It was perfectly imperfect and somewhat magical:

That first spring in our new home, we were delighted to discover tiny white blooms emerging from the hedges, revealing themselves as gardenias (though I couldn't find a pic to share).

I'd say we got a solid 2 springs of blooming hedges before the bone cold winters set into Richmond over the past couple of seasons (yep, those are Brussels sprouts in the left pot). You may recall how last spring we were concerned about the wellbeing of the gardenias after they'd been frozen to a crunchy brown over the winter:

We tried a few things to save them — pruning back and sprinkling Hollytone around their root branches. This actually seemed to bring a little life back into them, as we began to notice new green growth late into the spring and summer last year.

In the background of this vegetable shot, you'll see the best growth we got back on the hedges before fall/winter set back in. It was promising, but still sparser than the lush bushes we moved in with:

Then, another cold winter set in, freezing them beyond what we think we could salvage:

Given the backstory, you can see how we've been considering the fate of these hedges over the past few seasons. I'm not sure what it was about that afternoon a couple weeks back, but Tim got the notion that it was time to clear them out — and he did it:

Clearing everything out exposed ivy and other weeds along the beds that may have contributed to their overall issues — so we spent time clearing out each of the beds as well.

The funny thing about pruning and weeding in a city home, is having to bag and dispose of all the clippings. In our older, suburban home we could just rake brush down to the front ditch to be picked up on trash day. That doesn't work so well when your "front ditch" is considered a parking curb, ha.

It's amazing how immediate of a difference a change like this can make:

So what's next for these walkways? Well, we're not 100% sure (suggestions welcome!). For now we're enjoying how much wider the front walkway feels and thinking about what our next steps are for these shrubs — we'll definitely be mulching the beds. It's feasible we'll leave them if they begin to sprout new growth, retraining them over the next few years. We may also decide to dig them up and start anew with something completely different.

Whatever the outcome, you can be sure we'll keep you posted.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Father's Day Gift Guide

With Father's Day just around the corner, I've rounded up a few of my favorite ideas for a little last-minute gift inspiration. From the gourmet to the traveler, the old schooler and the music buff — these are few new ideas sure to make him smile:

1. Squeeze every last drop from the tube with this toothpaste tube wringer. It's got a little bit of old-school feeling and is big on functionality.

2. Real men cook, and some drink beer and smile like they have been up to something.

3. Carry-on approved, leave the house prepared for anything. Just add gin and you've got an instant pair of gin & tonics thanks to this little handy helper.

4. Personalization and organization — marry him.

5. We really believe Herman Melville would have been all over this, tale between a whale bookend set — you should also.

6. If you're curious what Heritage means in cooking, this cookbook defines it so well for any region — some of my favorite recent dishes have come straight from these pages.

7. Turn your favorite vintage albums into wall art with a set of these reclaimed wood LP frames.

Bonus: A Father's Day card that says it all, something for grandpa and one last clever gadget to keep Dad ahead of the curve.

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Please Note: Some of the products included in today's post contain affiliate links — as always, all the thoughts and opinions about each are uniquely ours.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Over on eHow: DIY Cement Flower Pots

We recently made a trio of cement flower pots to act as an outdoor centerpiece for our patio table — they help brighten up our backyard and were silly-simple to make. With basic materials like plastic containers, quick drying cement, water and a little cooking spray these planters are one of those projects that takes minimal effort but gives off a huge return.

The basic concept is using household plastic containers like single-use party bowls, storage bins or old plastic planters as molds that will shape and form the drying concrete into unique modern vessels.

Because the cement molds against the plastic, it will pick up any shapes, curves or intricate patterns from the container. It sure makes you look at all your plastic containers and cartons a little differently, ha!

Head on over to eHow to find our full tutorial with step-by-step instructions for making a custom set of your own cement planters.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Across the Pond: Off to London

After a quick trip in NYC, today we're all packed up and headed off for a week in London. I'll be working from the London Etsy office the better part of the week, with a few free evenings and days stacked in for exploring together. We'll be staying in the Holborn area of the city and are excited to see the sights, eat the eats and do all the things. 

With that in mind — we'd love your favorite recommendations and suggestions for London as we make our way through the city.

We've got a few posts lined up for the blog this week including a new DIY project, gift roundup and perhaps a gardening post. Upon returning, we'll look forward to sharing a full recap of our time in the UK, and you can keep up with us on Instagram (Tim's for eats) & Facebook, where we'll most likely be sharing pics from our trip in real time. Alternatively, we'll be using the hashtag #TMLondon15 if you'd like to see everything in one place.

Mary & Tim

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Giveaway: Complete La Paloma Gourmet Sauce & Salsa Package

Today we're excited to be hosting a giveaway for the complete line of La Paloma Gourmet sauces and salsas. That's right, one lucky ready will win one of each of the 10 pictured products below, ranging from moles, to adobos and salsas.

La Paloma Gourmet was founded with the vision of honoring the deeply rooted gastronomic traditions of Mexico, showcasing its rich culture, diverse cuisine and great ingredients. Their mission is to introduce you to the simplicity of authentic gourmet Mexican cooking. All products are manufactured following authentic and traditional recipes and using only the highest quality ingredients that have been locally sourced.

I recently had the opportunity to cook with and photograph some of these amazing ingredients — check out a few of my favorites below:

    1. Diablo Shrimp Quesadillas
    2. Beer Chelada with a Chipotle Rim
    3. Guacamole Chilango
    4. Enchiladas Chilangas
    In addition to our giveaway today, La Paloma Gourmet has generously provided a special discount for all 17Apart readers — receive 60% off your entire first purchase with the code 17APART60 at checkout.

    Learn more about La Paloma Gourmet, keep up with new flavors as they're released and special promotions when following their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + and Youtube.

    - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + Giveaway Details + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -
    One of our readers will win the complete line of sauces and salsas featured in today's giveaway, which is only open to US entrants due to shipping restrictions at this time. To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter form below — there are several options for you to choose from for entry. Feel free to use a few or all for more chances to win. For those unfamiliar with Rafflecopter, you fill in the fields using your choice of Facebook or your email, which is only used to contact the randomly selected winner (no spam) — it's that simple.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Our friends at La Paloma Gourmet are generously providing the complete line of sauces and salsas for one lucky reader included in today's giveaway. All the thoughts and opinions are (as always) our own — thank you so much for supporting the partners that make 17 Apart possible.