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Archive for the ‘Referrals’ Category

A few weeks ago, I was invited to preview a new decorating magazine from Hearst Publications.  I accepted the offer and waited, somewhat skeptically, for it to arrive in my mailbox.

When it did, I was thrilled beyond words.

Easy Decorating is a fabulous, beautiful magazine that offers the best decorating and home tips from the editors of Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living and Woman’s Day. I love it! It’s like the best of the best, all compiled in one glossy publication.

The home makeover tips that fill the pages are meant to help you turn your home into that dreamy space you’ve always wanted while keeping in mind that most of us have a limited budget. The colorful photographs combined with tips from experts in the field easily make Easy Decorating your go-to guide for all things related to decorating and transforming your living spaces.

You’ll find a section on weekend updates – quick and easy projects that can be accomplished in a weekend. These tips include everything from embellishing a shower curtain to creating one-of-a-kind napkin rings. One idea, in particular, that I loved from this section was adding molding to a plain side table for added decorating oomph.

There is an entire section entitled color and that is what it exudes  – bright, brilliant color. Beige has never seemed so blah after staring at these marvelous pages. There are actually 25 ideas to steal in this part of the magazine and all of them are so simple and easy. They even offer seven paint color suggestions for going bold.

You’ll find 25 more ideas to steal in the Pattern section that shows how to take your home from drab and dated to the cool kid on the block. Part of that section is a step-by-step guide in making covered boxes. Here are the directions:

Covered Boxes

Supplies:

·         Metal ruler

·         Shoeboxes

·         Craft knife

·         Wallpaper

·         Paintbrush

·         Scrapbooking paste

STEP 1 Measure the bottom and sides of shoebox, then add 1 inch to each side; cut a piece of wallpaper to this size.

STEP 2 Use paintbrush to apply scrap-booking paste to the base of the box and center it on a piece of wallpaper.

STEP 3 Line ruler along the side of the box so it extends beyond the edge.  Cut straight along the inside edges of your ruler to make a flap that’s the exact width of the box plus 1 inch.

STEP 4 Apply paste to the long flaps of wallpaper.  Pull one long flap up and around the short end of the box.  Tuck and adhere extra paper inside the box.  Repeat on opposite side.

STEP 5 Apply paste to short flaps.  Pull short flaps up and over box edge to adhere.

STEP 6 Repeat Steps 1 to 5 for box lid.

Wow! Isn’t this just a fun idea? Check out the garbage can, the covered boxes and binders as well as the coordinating pattern on the pencil holder and desktop. So colorful and fun!

Of course, with color and patterns, you’ve got to have some texture and they include 25 more ideas on bringing touchable textures into your home.

There are even ideas on how to completely change the look of a room with some very easy decorating ideas in the Before & After section.

Take this plain-vanilla living room for example.

Before…

and after!

What an amazing transformation to a beautiful space.

By adding a coat of soft blue paint, some interesting fabric and accent pieces and one colorful chair along with a new rug, the space becomes so much more inviting and appealing.

The final section in the magazine includes details – all those extra little touches that really make a house into a home. A few how-to projects are also included like how to turn flea-market finds into something fabulous, recovering an ottoman and covering a mirror frame with wallpaper.

This first issue offers readers the chance to win a sewing machine, get discount coupons on home decorating products and so much more!

If you love home decorating or just like to dream about what you could do differently in your home, most definitely take a look at Easy Decorating! I highly recommend it!

Easy Decorating is available for $9.99 and can be purchased at  supermarkets, newsstand or bookstore. A digital edition is also available at Zinio.com or Nook.bn.com. Readers can also access specials by checking out the magazine’s Facebook page at http://wwww.facebook.com/hearstspecials.

Photos courtesy of Hearst Magazines.

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Social Media is going to be the cause of my demise.

First it was Facebook and Twitter followed by LinkedIn.

Then I gut sucked into Pinterest and thought I might never get out alive.

Now I’m really in trouble. Big trouble.

I found Polyvore.

For those of you who like to be creative, have a penchant for fashion or like home decor, you are going to love (LOVE) this site. You can drag and drop clothing, backdrops, furniture, just about everything and anything you can imagine onto a “blank” canvas and create outfits, rooms, all kinds of fabulous and marvelous things.

I’m officially a goner.

I’ve only been playing on it since last weekend, but it is so much fun.

You can do stuff like this:

So you pick out the fashion pieces you like, arrange them however you want, add whatever accents tickle your fancy and then you can share it with others. Being someone who likes clothes and creativity, I can’t begin to tell you how this entertains me so.

Although I have only spent a few minutes being crazy with the home decor stuff, it looks like it could be a time-consuming wonderment, too.

I agree the pink room is a little much, but it was fun to put together.

She Who Needs to Not Like this as Much as She Does

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In a bold move of shameless self-promotion, I wanted to let you know you can get my ebooks free this week!

That’s right – FREE!

This week is “Read an E-book Week” so all week on Smashwords you can download my books for free!

So if you’ve been holding out, waiting for a sale or just haven’t gotten around to it yet, hop on over to Smashwords and download one or all of my books.

You can choose the format – Kindle, Nook, Apple iPad/iBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, as well as pdf downloads right to your computer or phone.

Happy Reading!

She Who Loves Ebooks!

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Last Saturday, my BFF and I decided to take a cooking class. The driving force behind that glorious decision was the fact that  the class was called “Chocolate is for Lovers!”

Guess what the class was all about? Come on, take a guess.

That’s right- chocolate!

Part of a month-long series, classes are offered each Saturday during the month of February at the Walla Walla Community College’s Titus Creek Café centered around a theme. The first Saturday was Super Bowl, last Saturday was chocolate, this coming Saturday is meat.

Not exactly sure what to expect, we arrived to find a lively group already gathered, ready for the class to begin. We actually sat through four mini-classes, enjoyed lunch and a musical performance, and then there was a food and wine pairing class to finish up the day.

The most wonderful Mandi Konen, Pastry Chef at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, taught our first class on the basics of chocolate and how to make truffles.

Mandi taught us about the different types of chocolates, the appropriate temperatures to melt chocolate and discussed cocoa butter and cocoa powder. She talked about tempering chocolate and how the process goes from hot to cool to warm.

The biggest tips from her class about working with chocolate were:

• Keep the space clean and dry.

• Don’t allow contact with water. It will make the chocolate unusable.

• Don’t heat chocolate above 120 degrees.

• Keep stirring or “agitating” chocolate during tempering process.

The way she demonstrated melting the chocolate was called “seeding.” During the process, 2/3 of the total amount of chocolate is melted, stirring in the remaining 1/3 until you’ve reached the cool range, then returning to heat, if necessary to reach the warm range.

She gave out tips, like use disc chocolate rather than brick or chips. Chips are meant to hold their shape and the bricks of chocolate have to be chopped and are harder to temper.

She let us sample salted caramel truffles that were divine. So divine in fact, my BFF may or may not have insisted we go to the hotel’s gift shop after the class where we may or may not have purchased every single last truffle they had.

Mandi shared her recipe for the caramel she puts in the truffles, as well as detailed instructions on how to make the candy. She made it look really simple. I know it isn’t, which is why I will probably continue to get my salted caramel truffle fix from the gift shop instead of attempting this at home.

She also showed us how to make ganache, which can be poured over a cake, whipped into frosting or used to top off candies.

This I could do.

Ganache was also a topic at another of the mini-class sessions where Chef Greg Schnorr, pastry chef instructor at Walla Walla Community College where the class was held, taught us all about  Sacher Tortes.

He made it sound so easy, using a Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix, apricot jam mixed with rum, and ganache.

The end result looked quite yummy.

The taste was way beyond yummy. It was so good, in fact, I think we actually closed our eyes in bliss for a moment or two.

We also learned about making sorbets and ice cream with Chef Dan Thiessen, Director of Culinary Arts at WWCC.

I would have shared pictures of the sorbet and ice cream, but I got too involved in tasting them and and forgot about the photos. Sorry.

Dan shared about using fresh seasonal fruit to make delicious sorbets, like the Orange/Pineapple/Strawberry sorbet he served. He also taught us about ice cream and the tips to get that smooth, creamy texture. The Chocolate-Coffee Ice Cream he made was fabulous and I don’t even like coffee.

Our fourth class was about mixology with Silas Manlove of The Vineyard Lounge.

He provided tips on stocking a home bar, different types of cocktails and offered a chocolate drink to those interested in sampling. My BFF thought it was amazing.

We were treated to a beautiful lunch. The highlight, in my opinion, was the cocoa nib crusted beef. Executive Chef Antonio Campolio  from The Marc Restaurant outdid himself in the preparation. Captain Cavedweller, upon hearing my ravings over the meal, was sad to have missed it. College Cellars provided wine for tasting to those interested.

While we were finishing up lunch, The Four Tenors serenaded us and then, sweethearts that they are, provided all the women in the class with a single red rose.

The afternoon finished with a food and wine pairing class with Chef Antonio and the sweet Jaime Chalk from L’Ecole No 41 Winery.

After the classes, those who wanted were invited to attend a Wine & Bites reception at the Marcus Whitman Hotel featuring L’Ecole’s wine and tasty treats prepared by Chef Antonio and his talented culinary staff.

The cost for all that fun and excitement was a mere $20 – for the classes, lunch tasting and fun.

There are two of these unbelievable classes left. If you are within driving distance of Walla Walla, I highly encourage you to purchase your ticket and enjoy a memorable experience. Call the Marcus Whitman Hotel at 509-524-5110 and let them know you want your ticket for the next February for Foodies class.

Here’s Mandi’s caramel recipe!

Caramel Sauce

3 c.                  Sugar
¼ c.                 Water
1 tsp.                Lemon Juice
10 oz.               Heavy Cream

Combine first three  ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot. Brush the sides of the pot down with a clean pastry brush and water to keep the sugar from falling back into the caramel and crystallizing. Cook over medium high heat until a dark caramel color. Once desired darkness, stir in heavy cream. Heating the heavy cream first decreases the amount of sputtering when combined.

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