Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Teatime with Chai tea latte

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Labor day weekend. I wanted to share my petite rose dishes again before I put them away for the summer. I also wanted to try some chai tea, I'm basically a coffee drinker, but with fall approaching I'm always looking for other hot beverages to try. 

 If you're not familiar with chai tea, here's a little background on it.

Chai tea is a flavored tea beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. Originating in India, the beverage has gained worldwide popularity, becoming a feature in many coffee and tea houses. It is traditionally simmered with green cardamom pods, (aromatic seeds of a plant  in the ginger family) cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger and black peppercorn mixed with black tea. 

Milk and sweetener are also added. Retail versions include tea bags for infusion,  instant powdered mixtures and concentrates.    

I've never cared for traditional  hot tea with sweetener, I love it iced, but with the addition of milk and other spices I wanted to make my own version of chai. I bought a milk frother recently for my cafe lattes, so I decided to use it to make a chai tea latte as well. 

Here is a basic recipe I found for two to four servings. 

Chai Tea Latte Ingredients
2 cups water
2 black tea bags
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamon
1 clove
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups low-fat milk
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Boil water and put in both tea bags. Let steep for one minute and toss bags.
2. Add ginger, cardamom, and clove and stir in.
3. Heat sugar and milk together separately until sugar has dissolved, and pour half a cup into each mug.
4. Remove clove from tea, stir in cinnamon, and pour half a cup into each mug of milk mixture.
If you have an espresso machine you can add steamed or foamy milk on top instead of mixing it with the sugar in step 3. Just add the sugar into the tea mixture after step two instead. Add a light dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg on top and enjoy!

I changed the recipe a bit because I didn't have any cloves or cardamom. I added cinnamon and ginger to my simmered tea. I didn't take any pictures of the steps, but I wanted to share the frothing process. Since I am experimenting with the flavors, I only used 1 cup of milk with the sugar and added a little vanilla flavoring. I heated it for about 90 seconds in the microwave and frothed the milk with my aerolatte. 

This isn't a recommendation for the aerolatte, it just happens to be the one I bought recently at Bed Bath & Beyond. It does froth the milk really well, I had foamy milk in less than 30 seconds, but the switch that turns it on is rather hard to move at times. It is also battery operated and sometimes it doesn't seem that powerful, but so far it froths great as you can see. 

It also has a nice holder for storage. The frother adds a pretty foamy top and I sprinkled on some cinnamon.  

I made some blueberry muffins from a mix, I added fresh blueberries though, and created a simple teatime tablescape. 

A closer look at my sugar bowl. I love the soft rose pattern on this china. The thrift store where I bought my dishes had the entire set, but I bought them at different times since I didn't know how I was going to use them. I also have other china in storage so I decided not to purchase the dinner plates or bowls. 

 I didn't buy the sugar bowl on my first visit so I went back and fortunately it was still there. I also found this pretty white ceramic holder that I used for my extra napkins. To see an earlier post of this china with my canning jar rack visit here. 

A simple white table setting always brightens up a room. 

My version of chai tea came out fairly well. It needed more spices, but it was a decent cup of tea. I did love all the milk and frothy foam, so I will try again with other flavorings. There are many ways to prepare chai, so experiment and find the kind you like best. I thought I might try some with a hint of orange and cloves, also pumpkin spiced tea and  cafe lattes with spices sound really good for fall.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wood Spool Rack

Summer is really slipping away, so I thought I'd show the simple spool rack I made. I've mentioned before that I'm not a big DIY person, I just don't have the room or desire right now to do big projects, but I love a simple craft that I can make my own. 

I've seen a few spool racks online and I knew I wanted to make something similar. I didn't have any vintage spools, so I found some wood ones in a craft store.  I painted a wood plaque a soft green and added my spools in a lighter green, distressed them a bit and I was done. 

I originally wanted to hang vintage towels or aprons on it to give it a farmhouse look, but I came across a colorful red quilted bag in a thrift store so I decided to start from there. It was in one of those thrift stores with little organization and the bag I found was pretty dirty, but I knew it had potential. I found a hat and scarf while thrifting and added an apron I already had, so it made it easy to put it together. 

I got the inspiration for using the red bag from this calendar. I get inspired from the smallest of things at times. I really loved the colorful dresses displayed here, especially the red one so I knew I wanted something colorful to add to my spool rack. These sleeveless dresses are displayed in a very unusual way, back to back,  but they are so lovely with all the colorful flowers and I love how they are blowing in the breeze. 

I'm not really a red person, I love small touches of it though and loved the blue flowers on the bag. The knitted flower on the hat is a pretty addition too. 

I only have one vintage apron right now, but I'm hunting for more since I love aprons. I also love the look of an apron displayed on a hanger. This is on my opposite wall next to the patio doors. I have several vases of lavender so I added one to the top of our old stereo that hubby can't seem to part with. I'm working on it and the table it's sitting on isn't going to be around much longer either. I just work around everything and hope it all comes together. 

  A little closer look at the apron with the lacy butterfly and floral edging. I like the vintage look of it with my floppy thrift store hat and scarf. 

Adding the bag gives a little different look. Either way it reminds me of the farmhouse look that I love. 

Another look next to the pantry and my faux hydrangeas. 

I love this charming garden picture that I've had for years. It's hard to see the detail in this pic, but there is a footbridge over a small creek and colorful flowers surround the cottage.

I really like the feel of this with the garden picture, it pulls it all together for me. I just don't think you can go wrong if you let simplicity guide you. And with the addition of floppy hats, aprons and some lavender you have a simple prairie style look that takes you back in time.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mini Kitchen tour

I mentioned in my previous post that I would share how I have made my tiny kitchen more functional, so here is a tour of my small space. A little background first. After renting for awhile we finally bought our new home a few years ago. We were lucky because we could take advantage of the lower home prices and interest rates. So many people we knew were underwater with their homes, so we felt fortunate that we could buy when the prices were lower. 

We had a certain price range that we could not go above and there weren't a lot of houses that we could afford, especially here in the Pacific NW. My hubby has a classic car that he needed to store, so we were looking for houses with 3 car garages. That limited our choices even more. 

               Anyway there wasn't anything available that was even close to what we wanted until this house came on the market. It isn't our ideal, but knowing we have an affordable mortgage really helps with the stress of owning a new home. So I should add that we are very grateful to have an affordable home because we know the struggles so many homeowners are going through. 

Most newer homes have an open floor plan, especially on the first floor if it is two story and ours does as well, but it is really small. We have just under 1800 sf, but I love the coziness of small spaces as long as there is a nice floor plan. We have a nice entry  and a long hallway, but it is a waste of space that could have been used to make a larger kitchen.  

I'm working on something for the hallway. I hate that it is so plain right now, but I'm a bit of a minimalist decorator with a small bank account, so things are being done slowly around here. I'm hoping to put a vintage hall tree in this space. Also, my photos are not the best with my little point and shoot. I'm still working with my camera and I hope to get some better pics next time. We have a small bathroom on this floor and the door on the left leads to the garage. 

The vertical blinds  on the patio doors are high on my list to go. I am looking at some nice panels  to replace them. The kitchen is at the end of the hall. I think the builders added it as an afterthought. They didn't really allow for much kitchen space so they just thought we'll put it here at the end of the hall.  We hated this kitchen when we first saw it, especially me, since it is so small and lacks cabinet space.

There are only 3 full size upper cabinets and 1 half size cabinet. Mini sized cabinets are above the microwave and the fridge. There are also only 3 full size lower cabinets, not including the ones below the sink. Four drawers with a pull out drawer below the sink and that is it for kitchen storage.  The cabinets are very plain builder basic style and not real wood either. I'm complaining a bit but I was quite disappointed with this kitchen when we first moved in. There is just my hubby and I now, so it works for us but it would be too small for a family in my opinion. 

For some reason they thought an extra window was a good idea, even though it limited the cabinet space even more. Excuse the glare. I couldn't get enough light in here to take pics without the blinds open.  

I only have functional things on the counter. There is too little space for anything decorative in this area. Just some baskets for produce and for my teabags. I do love my coffee, especially lattes so I'l start making those again this fall and get a new coffeemaker. 

The lack of cabinet space is a problem, so I just keep minimal things in all the cabinets. You don't need a lot of groceries for two people. We shop weekly, no impulse grocery purchases so we usually have room for everything. Grocery items, seasonings and cooking related items are kept in the cabinets next to the microwave. All my everyday dishes are in the two cabinets next to the fridge. We've downsized a lot so that helps with storage. We still have a lot of things in boxes though, family dishes and heirlooms so I don't know what I'll do with some of those. Lower cabinets have my cookware and other misc. I've tried to make my tiny kitchen as efficient as possible. 

There was room in the hallway for this small pantry that I found at a local furniture store.  I like simple farmhouse style furniture so this shaker style pantry fit perfectly against this wall. I will likely paint it at some point though, since I don't like the maple stain  finish as much as I used to. I have canned goods, snack items and cereal in the top section. The drawer holds extra microwave containers and misc. The bottom section stores items I don't use that often. This little pantry has helped us so much with extra storage. It needed to be narrow because of the light switch, but it is rather deep which helps. 

I love  all the stainless appliances that came with the house. They all work great. I also love the smooth cook top on my electric range. I've always preferred gas in the past, but this smooth cook top is so easy to clean and use that it quickly sold me.  The fridge is an older model, but it's nice and roomy inside. 

Our counter tops are granite tile and average quality. When they mass produce these houses you get few upgrades, although I do like the design and color of the granite. The counter on the left was very poorly designed. It extends all the way to the wall and also extends all the way  behind the sink, so it makes it difficult  to access the window to clean it, which is another reason why the window shouldn't be there. They also extended the granite too far over the counter top. We might do some remodeling in the kitchen if we live here longer than we plan to.  In case that doesn't happen I'm doing my best to adjust.   

Right now I have storage under the counter. I've been using this area as a craft space so I keep my storage carts there. I've been holding off on getting new bar stools until I get a new dining set. I love farmhouse style and I want our living area to reflect that more, so I'll be looking for some vintage seating  for the counter.

Nothing too exciting here just basic kitchen items. The area in the corner behind the sink is where I have my vintage dishes displayed. The baskets actually take up more room than they appear to in these photos. I just put a few baskets together that I've been collecting to fill up the empty space. I'll likely change this a bit later. The sink is stainless and rather shallow so it will likely be replaced.  I know these photos are grainy, but it just gives you another view. Real life isn't always pretty!

I added a couple of  my art deco aluminum canisters above the cabinets. I love the simple design. 

The dining and kitchen area is similar to what you would find in a condo or apartment. Our upstairs has a nice floor plan which somewhat makes up for our minimal kitchen and dining space. 

  I do have a nice work triangle in the kitchen, since it is so small it does make it very efficient. Everything is there within a few steps. That can be a good thing or it can be annoying depending on what kind of day I'm having! 

I'm currently using an old dinette set and a bookcase in this corner of the dining area. I mentioned in a previous post that our old dining room furniture would not fit in here, so I  have a bit of a cottage look in here right now. I'll be updating this corner with a farmhouse style dining table and chairs, maybe in a rustic cherry and possibly a painted corner hutch in green since I love to add color.  A small corner hutch is the only style that will fit in this space, but I've seen some lovely ones on the blogs lately that inspire me.  I've added a few ideas below of some styles I'm considering. 

Here is a sweet corner hutch I found.  I love the green and the clear glass of the upper cabinets. I would definitely want beadboard  and enough room inside to display quite a few things. I really love the items displayed here. Sweet and simple farmhouse style.

This is a hutch from Penneys that is no longer available. I liked all the cubbies on this one and the hooks for cups or towels. Very unique looking. 

This white one is cute with the pretty arched open space. This style would be nice but the upper cabinets are too small. 

I'm not a big fan of oak, but I love the warmth of wood and the style of this simple shaker hutch. 

This isn't a corner hutch, but I love the upper doors on this piece and the simple beauty of all the openness. Very pretty with the shells and it would be a wonderful display piece for vintage dishes. 

Here are a few dining sets I found. I love the simplicity and quality of Amish style furniture, but not the price. I also love vertical slats on dining chairs, very shaker style and a round table is essential for our small dining area. 
I really like the wood and finish on this dining set. Beautiful chairs. 
These high back Windsor chairs are so pretty. I don't know how comfortable they would be though, or practical.  They have that somewhat primitive look that I love. I do have eclectic tastes in furniture. I like too many things!

Our home is still a work in progress. We're going through a transition period where things are just wearing out or no longer useful, so that means a lot of small changes will be happening. I would love for those changes to happen sooner rather than later, but they will take place over time and within our budget. If you're going through an adjustment with your small kitchen please share.  Well enough of my ramblings.  I guess that's what happens when you don't post that often, especially in the summer months.  Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lavender, mason jars, plates and planes

I took a little blogging break that turned into almost a month. I didn't intend for that to happen, but sometimes you just run out of ideas and time to post. I finally became  inspired just a bit and wanted to share some of my thrifty farmhouse finds with you. 

I've combined some of recent finds together to create this farmhouse vignette on my kitchen counter. My grandparent's kept their country kitchen neat as a pin with minimal decor, but always managed to keep it farmhouse cozy with personal touches. I try and create a feeling or special memory with my vignettes, so I also added lavender.

My first find was the canning jar rack. I can think of so many uses for this rack, especially when I added the round metal tray. I was hoping my metal rack would fit in the tray and it did. Simple little things like this make thrifting worthwhile. You could use the rack and tray with  mason jars of course, condiments for a picnic, add ice for beverages and so on. 

The simple rose floral dishes are from my favorite thrift store. I found the round metal tray and the small picnic basket at a gift shop that was going out of business. Neither one of these items were marked for sale,  but I went to the cashier and they said make me an offer and I got both for ten dollars. I've  learned when a store  is going out of business make an offer, even if the item is unmarked, and you might find a real bargain!

Mason jars will never go out of style for me because they are so typically farmhouse, especially filled with buttons. 

I added a variety of pink, plum and soft colors of buttons to this jar to match the lovely  pink  rose design on my dishes. It takes a lot of buttons to fill up jars, so I added some vintage thread spools to fill it up a bit more. 

To add some interest to my canning jar rack, I stacked some plates on it for a vintage look. 

Although I love the plates stacked on top of each other, I love the idea of stacking the plates upright more. I wasn't sure if this way would work, but by using small salad plates I didn't need anything to prop them up with. I have some family heirloom dishes packed away in our tiny crawl space, but I discovered I really love this sweet china that I found. Along with the pink roses, there are small leaves in silver that match the round metal tray. Now I want more of these dishes, so I hope they have a few more when I go back to the thrift store. 

What's summertime without lavender? I picked some up when I stopped by the farmer's market and added it to my mason jars in my toolbox.  I already had the metal numbers, so I added those to my jars  which makes it a bit more whimsical.

Love the lavender with the bluish green toolbox that was a clearance find at Joann's.  Another mason jar with buttons in darker colors. I didn't have enough buttons to fill up all three jars, so I added  some burlap and lace. 

Lighter summery colored buttons fill my 3rd mason jar. Lovin' the deep purple of the lavender. 

I looked outside when I was taking these pics Monday morning  and spotted this vintage plane flying by. I grabbed  my camera and took a few quick pics. I just have a little point and shoot so the detail isn't as good as it could be, but I love the  fluffy cotton ball look of the sky. 

We have an historic airport, built in the 1920's that is  still in operation today. Every once in awhile we will see these vintage planes cruising along. The plane looks like a dark silhouette against the fluffy clouds in this pic. 

This photo was taken later in the day and shows the corner of our dining area. Some of my decorating ideas came from our Victorian house tour back in May. If you missed the tour visit here.  I'll be sharing my kitchen tour next and you'll see just how tiny a kitchen can be and still be functional. Thanks for visiting!

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