Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time to Brine.......

The best brine for your Thanksgiving Turkey.......

Thanks to The Pioneer Woman, Daddy K's first attempt at cooking our Thanksgiving turkey was a success!  After brining for 24 hours, then roasting in the oven, pure perfection was created!!  It would be a sin for me not to share this recipe!!   

What you will need:
3 cups of Apple Cider
2 Gallons of Cold Water
4 Tablespoons of Fresh Rosemary
5 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1-1/2 Cups of Kosher Salt
2 Cups of Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Peppercorn
5 whole Bay Leaves
Peel of 3 Large Oranges

(You can see the step by step guide here!!)

Combine all ingredients into a large pot.  Stir the mixture until the salt and sugar dissolve.  Bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat......

After the mixture has completely cooled pour it into a large brining bag, pot, or in our case a huge cooler!  Place the uncooked turkey into the brining solution, then refrigerate for 24 hours......

When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse it with cold water....(Don't will not rinse any of the flavor away!)....

Now, to cook this bad boy......Our turkey was a hefty 14 pounder......

We first cooked it for 30 minutes at 500 degrees.  This gives the bird that nice golden charred look.  We then lowered the temp to 350 and continued to cook the turkey for about 2 hours.  Make sure to check the temp of the turkey.  It should read 165 when done!

I can honestly say this is the most moist, flavorful turkey I have ever eaten.....and I'm pretty sure Julia feels the same way......

Oh yes!!!  She got her own turkey leg!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

To see the parties I'm linking to go HERE!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Z is for Zoe.....

Zoe Jasmine Hopkins a.k.a. the miracle baby!  She entered this world on June 30th, at 25 weeks, weighing only 1.7 lbs.  Surviving 125 days in the NICU, we are so happy to find out she is now at home with her loving parents, two of our best friends!  Today, nearing 5 months, she is a healthy 8lbs. 12oz.  I wanted to give Zoe a coming home what better than personalized initial art for the nursery!!  I think it tured out beautifully!!

Simple, yet elegant!  

All you will need:
Frame (mine came from a thrift store), cardboard, scrapbook paper, stencil, xacto knife, and Modpodge!

.....and possibly a craft buddy!!  mine looks pretty lazy though!!  :)

The stencil I had was not big enough, therefore I free handed the letter onto my cardboard!

Next, cut out the letter with your xacto knife......

Make sure it fits like you want it into the frame....

Trace the letter onto the back of your scrapbook paper.  Make sure you trace the reverse side of the letter....

Easy Easy.....

Carefully cut out the letter......

Use your modpodge to adhere the scrapbook paper to the letter.....I then painted the sides of the cardboard with a dark chocolate acrylic paint!  

If you look closely you can see that I carefully smudged the paint on all sides of the "Z" to give it more of an antique feel.....I think it turned out fabulous!!!

It looks like Bailey agrees!!!

To see the parties I'm linking to go HERE!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The month of November (or what's left of it), is now being devoted to bringing life to my kitchen!!  That's right!!....  I'm sick of seeing the mail covering the counters, random pictures plastered all over the fridge, and most of all, I'm sick of not having any art in that space!! It's time for a change!!  While I put Daddy K on cleaning/organizing duty, I'm headed straight for Hobby Lobby!!  Step one....ADD COLOR!!

I know the traditional "EAT" art has been done a MILLION times, however I am still digging it!  This was a super simple project that was an easy way to add color to our kitchen!

First, find or create the letters of your choice.  I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby!  They were 1.99 per letter, cheap cheap!!

Next, find scrapbook paper!  Again, I found mine at HL, and as you can see I went for COLOR, COLOR, COLOR!!!

Once you have selected your paper, turn it and your letter upside down.  Trace the back of your letter onto the back of your paper.  Cut it out, then glue it to the letter!  Easy as that!!

Before I hung the letters on the wall, I found an old "thrift store" frame that would fit around the letters!  I painted it then hung it on the wall.  Because Daddy K is not a fan of putting holes in the wall, I used double sided adhesive hanging tape to mount everything.  

I think it turned out beautifully!!

You have now witnessed step one to bringing my kitchen back to life!  Wondering what's next??  I just may attempt something similar to this......

To see the parties I'm linking to go HERE!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The magic of photo editing......

NO, I'm not a professional photographer.....NO, I don't have a fancy camera....and NO, I do not own Photoshop!!  However, that doesn't mean that I don't pretend that I'm a pro.... or constantly remind Daddy K that I want a Nikon D90 with a 50mm 1.4 lens for C'mas.....or that I won't one day break down and buy really nice photo editing software!  But for now I'm content.  I'm happy with my Panasonic point and shoot, and I'm even happier that I recently discovered Picnik!!  Ever heard of it??  It's a free, yes FREE photo editing site!!  This tool can help turn a blah, so-so picture into an amazing one!!

I am constantly having people comment on my blog header and how blue Julia's eyes are.  So I thought this would be a great start to showing you a little of what Picnik can do!.......

This is the original picture...SOOC....straight out of the camera.  It's slightly overexposed, a little washed out, and honestly just blah!  Looking past the flaws, I immediately feel in love with this shot!  I love how she is not centered, not looking at the camera and how natural her pose is. I also love how blue her eyes appear in the picture!  With all that said, I was determined to make this "so-so" picture a great one!

After tinkering with a few tools on Picnik, this is how my photo transformed!!  Crazy right!!  By cropping the picture, darkening the exposure, playing with color saturation, adding a smudgy border and blurring out the edges this is what i was left with!!  Pretty impressive huh??

Here is another example! Great shot, however I'm not digging how the red bench and the pink outfit work together.....

Easy fix!! I took all the emphasis away from the bench!  I made the entire background black and white, while leaving her pink outfit in full color!   One simple tool (Focal B&W) created this super cool look....

Again, nice shot, however the background is a little too busy for your eyes to focus right on Julia's and Daddy K's hands holding the basket......

Sooo.....I used the same technique as the above picture where I only left one small area in color.  But I also gave the photo more of a blurred out look.... The tool for that is called "Focal Zoom".  Now, at first glance, your eyes go exactly where I want them too!!

I actually like this photo as is, however I wanted to get more of a vintage look to it.

After playing with the "sepia" tool and the "1960's" tool, this is what I was left with!  Only a slight difference, but the photo now has more character to it!

In this picture I wanted to test out a soft blurred out background while keeping Julia still in focus......

By using "focal soften" this is the look you get!  At first glace, I feel that you can focus directly on Julia, where before my eye kept going towards the bench in the background!

Great picture, but I do not want all the focus to be on other kids in the water.....

Easy fix....use the "focal zoom" tool and play with how sharp your blurring gets!  I thought that tool gave this picture a really fun look!

This is Julia's friend, Harper, and her Dad!  I actually love this shot 100%, however I wanted to experiment with the coloring......

I darkened the exposure, just a bit, so I could get more of a true silhouette, then I played with the color saturation to bring out the sunset.  Again, it is only a slight change, but it makes such a difference!!

So what have we learned today??  That's right!!!  A little photo editing can go a LOONGGG way!!  Now go pull out all of the photos you take on a daily basis and transform them into a masterpiece!!! 

To see the parties I'm linking to go HERE!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting A Houndstooth Pattern.....

Cornhole....Bama Style!!!!!  
Everyone has "that" project that they really really want to create, however they keep procrastinating because they think it will take forever!!  Well, this was it for me!!  We have been playing on a raw wood cornhole game for over a year now, and I have finally decided it was time to give it some life! I knew I wanted to paint a houndstooth pattern on it, however the thought slightly intimated me!   My initial goal was to complete this BEFORE football season began!!!  I guess I'm ONLY ten weeks behind! hha 

Daddy K built these two beauties last October!  So this was my starting point!!

First I put the base colors on!  This was easy!  I taped off each side so I would have a perfectly straight line between the two colors!  I used a quick dry spray paint for this!

Next, I gathered the tools for the houndstooth pattern.  Because I did not want to "hand paint" every shape, I decided to make a stamp!  What you will need:  a pattern reference (mine came from google images), carving block, pencil, and xacto knife.

Trace the houndstooth shape with your pencil.  Go over it several times to make a very dark outline.

Place your carving block on top of the outline, and press down firmly.

When you lift up the block you will have a nice outline transfer.

Cut out the shape with your xacto knife.

This is what you are left with.  I drew a little star on the top side of mine so I would not stamp the wrong side.

Pour out a good bit of paint.

Place a piece of felt on top of it and use your stamp to press the felt into the paint.  You will have to press down a few times before the paint starts to seep through the felt.  This is a great technique so you will not have too much paint on the stamp.

Now it's time to practice.  I wanted to get a feel for how much paint needed to be on it, how hard to press down, and how often I needed to reapply the paint.  I also needed to figure out how to connect the corners to properly make the pattern!  Once you get a feel for the look you want, then you can go to town.....

As my hands are sweating, I placed my first stamp!!  

Within ten minutes I had two rows!  This was not bad at all!!  I absolutely love the stamped look!  Because all of the paint is uneven, it gives more of a vintage look....and we all know I love vintage things!!

After about 3 hours I had both boards complete!!  Aren't they fabulous!!  I am so proud of how they turned out!  I don't know why I waited so long to attempt was sooo easy!!!  Of course they are not perfect, and yes there are areas that I would love to "do over"....but I bet I am the only one that would be able to locate the flaws.....I'm not even gonna call them a flaw....they are "beauty marks"......they remind me that I created this from scratch, and it turned out beautifully!!

Here is an up close shot of the pattern.  After I completed both boards I sprayed a paint sealant over the top!  I wanted to make sure the paint did not all chip away after our first game!

Julia showing us how it's done!!

Our little cornhole master!!

So the moral of this project??  Quit procrastinating, and go make "that" project!! It probably will not be as difficult as you think, and it will be sooo rewarding when it's completed!!

To see the parties I'm linking to go HERE!!