A Bike Ride Through The Heimat

How often do people live in a town and never truly see it? My guess is pretty often. We get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and usually end up spending quite a bit of our time doing things around the house or getting away. Am I right?

What do you think would happen when you took a day to be a tourist in your own town? Magical things, I bet!

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That is just what Toblerone and I did one of the days we were back in Germany. He grew up in this tiny little village on the top of a mountain but I had never seen it through his eyes like I had this one day. It was truly beautiful.

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We decided to travel by bike. We rode from one town to the next (where his mother’s family is from). I had never seen this side before. I missed out on the beauty of it all.

We traveled around and stopped in the next town over to visit Toblerone’s Grandpa, Rudi. Check out how beautiful his space is. I may or may not have shared a bit of champagne with him. (He probably would have preferred beer – next time!)

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We rode past the windmills…

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And of course a pit-stop for some lunch!

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My favorite part of the day was visiting the chapel in the town.

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We went inside (luckily I didn’t go up in flames!) and I lit 4 candles in honor of the grandparents we have lost.

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It wouldn’t really be me if I didn’t cause a little bit of commotion before I went back home…now would it? I rang the church bell for you all! Which actually wasn’t that easy, that thing is HEAVY!

We stopped along the way to many homes of family members and friends to say hello. It was a special day and BEAUTIFUL weather! It was so nice to see this other side of Toblerone’s Heimat (home) from a different perspective!

Just the hubs and I on our little bike tour! And check me out with no make-up and my 30 year old wrinkles! LOVE LOVE LOVE the aging process :-)

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Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxo

The Insel Mainau: The Flowering Island

Along the beautiful Lake Constance you will find a beautiful little island. Complete with a castle (still owned) and incredibly beautiful gardens that take you to another place. It actually didn’t even feel like Germany. The water around the island is a really crystal blue and with the palm trees and vibrant colored flowers it almost makes you feel like you’re in another world!

Luckily it was a little adventure we got to take with Toblerone’s parents also. The castle is occupied at the moment so it’s not something that is opened to the public for tours with the exception of a small area they set up for a gift shop and a restaurant attached to the orchid greenhouse.

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It was a bit too early in spring for all the flowers but regardless, it was just a beautiful day. It started off with a bit of rain but as we arrived on the island we put our umbrellas down and walked the grounds guided by sunshine.

My absolute FAVORITE part of the entire island is the butterfly house. There are thousands of butterflies in this man-made jungle house. It was just incredible to see so many different types of butterflies happily flying around and a few different vegetarian birds to add to the atmosphere.

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Walking around the grounds we saw these massively large trees called Mammouth trees (also found in the states) which were planted in the late 1800’s and have grown to the giant masses they are today! Channeling my inner hippie I gave those big guys a squeeze.

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We walked around the castle, went inside the church which was decorated in beautiful floral arrangements,  and made our way around to a little farm..where of course I had to pet all the animals. These furry guys are used to all the people I think so they just made their way right over to me and waited for bite to eat!

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We ended the day with a little train watching which I thought was just adorable with all the German homes stacked around. Very cute! There are also great playgrounds  which would make for a fantastic place to bring the kids to run out a bit of energy.

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It was a really beautiful place and thankfully the weather held out for us! It was a perfect start to our vacation. More to come!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

A Family Recipe: Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte (Black Forest Cake)

I’ve got the goods, lovelies! I cornered my mother-in-law and held her hostage until she showed me how to make the infamous family favorite, Schwarwalder Kirsch Torte (or as you may know it..Black Forest Cake.) Ok, so maybe I didn’t hold her hostage…and maybe she actually was excited to show me. Just maybe.

I’m ready to share the recipe but first you should know that some of these ingredients are not easily found in the US. Actually, for those of you who have made this cake here, maybe you can help us all out to find better equivalents for a few of these.  You can get the majority of these items in import/export stores and online on Amazon as well for a steep price. Also, I apologize for the pictures. I was writing down the recipe (trying to translate in my head), talk, help stir, and take pictures of each step. It was NOT an easy task…but I do these things for you people because I care. :-)

First things first….The cake part. Please note that this particular recipe for cake is standard for any “Torte” that you are making. Anything with fresh berries or cream (sahne) you will use this same basic recipe. Just remove the cacao. Cacao is strictly for chocolate cake or mainly used with the Black Forest Cake.

What You Will Need:

6 eggs (Separate whites and yolks in two different mixing bowls)

200 grams/ 1 cup of sugar (Can use 250 grams but the cake is sweet enough so we use less)

Butter to grease the pan

300 grams/3 cups Flour (Best to use half all purpose flour, King Arthur brand is really good, and half cake flour)

15 grams/ 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

1 Tablespoon Pure Cacao (Can use hot chocolate if you don’t have this on hand.)

 

How To Make It:

Preheat oven to 150 Celcius or 300 Fahrenheit.

Take the 6 egg whites and beat with a mixer until you have a meringue.

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Take the 6 egg yolks, add 6 tablespoons of luke warm water.  Next, take your sugar and mix with the egg yolks. You can add a couple teaspoons of vanilla flavored sugar or vanilla extract to the sugar, but it’s not necessary. Just added flavor.  Beat the egg yolk mixture until it’s almost white.

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Spread butter on your spring-form baking pan and up the sides as well (I use a 28cm pan). Add a little bit of flour and shake around to cover the bottom of the pan. Shake out any excess.

Next take your 150 grams of all purpose flour and 150 grams of cake flour and mix together. Add in your baking powder and mix gently. Next add in your Cacao and mix until combined.  Add the entire flour mixture slowly to the egg yolk mixture as you beat.

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Add a little bit of the meringue you made with the egg whites (about half) to the flour and egg yolk mixture. This keeps the cake from becoming too hard and helps to soften it. Once combined, remove the beaters and mix very slowly with a spatula the remaining meringue until it is fluffy.

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Pour mixture into pan and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a fork. Note: DO NOT open the oven door once during those 30 minutes. Strict orders from my mother-in-law.

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Let the cake cool completely. Once cooled, Turn cake over so bottom is facing up (this will allow for the top of the cake to be a bit more even), cut about an inch all the way around in two different places, making three layers.

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Take regular old sewing string and holding both ends bring very slowly through to complete the cutting of the sections. My M-I-L brought the string towards her, crossing her hands to make an X to make sure the entire section was cut.

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Remove the top two layers, leaving the last layer as is. You will need an adjustable cake ring to hold everything in place for adding the filling.

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Next up: The Filling!!!

What You Will Need:

100 gram/ 1 jar of sour cherries in juice.  (NOTE: In the US this hasn’t been easy to find. They do have them in the canned fruit section..usually on the top shelf. Make sure you get the TART cherries. Also, you can buy the German ones here: BavariaSausage.com)

Cornstarch mixed with water to thicken

Kirschwasser (most liquor stores have this, you will need about a cup approximately so not too much..but a little extra on hand is always good for drinking in between :-))

800 grams/28.5 ounces of whipping cream (30% fat is ideal)

2 packages of Sahnesteif/ Whipped Cream Stabilizer (King Arthur brand, which carries a good flour that is similar to that in Germany, also carries Instant Food Starch or there is also by the Dr. Oetker brand, Whipped Cream Stabilizer. The higher fat content of  the whipping cream also will help the stiffness in the end if you can’t find the stabilizers.)

Sugar

Finely Shaved Chocolate Pieces

 

How To Make It:

Remove the juice from the jar of cherries and pour into small pot. Save the cherries for later, keeping about 16 completely separate for decoration. Heat cherry juice on high and add in the cornstarch mixture while continuously whisking. Bring to a boil and add cherries to pot. Mix gently and remove from heat to allow to harden.

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Sprinkle 4 Tablespoons of Kirschwasser over the top of the bottom layer of cake. Once cherries have hardened, Use a spoon to spread over the top of the bottom layer evenly. When finished, sprinkle a little more Kirschwasser on top of the cherry mixture. Using a spoon helps to sprinkle this evenly.

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In large bowl, mix whipping cream with 2 packages of whipping cream stabilizer and beat. Add 2 tablespoons Kirschwasser and continue to beat. Add approximately one tablespoon of sugar to the cream mixture. You don’t want it too sweet. Germans don’t do sugar like us Americans do…hence why their cakes are way more amazing! Whipping cream is done when you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing comes out. :-) True story.  Spread just a little bit of the whipped cream to the top of the cherries. Just to give it that extra thickness and taste.

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Take your 2nd layer of cake and place it on top of the cherry mixture. Again, sprinkle 4 Tablespoons of Kirschwasser over the cake. Next, spread the whipping cream to cover the top of your 2nd layer cake. Be generous with this layer, majority of the cream will be here.

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Finally, place your 3rd layer of cake on top of the other two. With the remaining whipping cream mixture, spread evenly on top making sure it is smooth. Save a little bit to do the sides. Remove the cake ring and spread the whipped cream along the sides, smooth and evenly, saving a small amount to decorate the top.

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Depending on how many cherries you saved to decorate for the top you can use one of the fancy frosting decorating thingy majiggies or you can do it the old fashioned way like I do with a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Put remaining whipped cream in bag and squirt into small puffs of fun on top of the cake. Place your cherries on top of said puffs of fun, sprinkle your shaved chocolate pieces on top and VOILA! You have made yourself a traditional Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte!

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Keep in cool area or refrigerate until ready to eat. (Cream melts, you know!)

Hope this was helpful and for those of you who asked me to post this, I hope this fills up your home with the tradition you know and love! Guten Appetit!

Until next time, Readers!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxox

 

 

 

 

 

German Knockwurst In Beer Broth

I don’t know what is going on with me lately but I am on a roll with my German cooking! I promised myself I would try harder to learn these great dishes of Toblerone’s culture..anticipating one day that we have children of our own to share it all with. So far, looks like I’m living up to that promise!

The other day I found a package of German Knockwurst at our grocery store (made by Boar’s Head company) which I liked since it was in it’s natural casing with zero additives. I hate all that “added caramel” for color plus 8,000 extra chemicals. Just trying to stick to what is clean and good! (The German way of course!)

I wasn’t sure what I would make with Knockwurst but there is one thing I know…nothing goes better with Wurst than….yep…you guessed it….BEER!!!

What You Need:

Knockwurst (I used a pacakge of 4 for our smaller family)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Medium onion sliced

12 ounces of light beer (I used a can of Labatt blue…cuz I’m classy like that!)

1 Cup water

Salt & Pepper to taste

Parsley

 

Here’s How Its Done: 

First off, heat up a dutch oven with olive oil on medium heat. Add the wurst to oil, turning every couple of minutes to brown each side. I would highly recommend putting the lid on. These suckers spit hot oil at me!

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Next up, add the onions until they are soft. I added just a little extra splash of olive oil. Again, lid on and occasionally stirring them around and turning the sausages.

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Once onions are cooked through, remove the sausage and place aside. Next comes the fun part…or as some might see it…alcohol abuse. Pour in your 12 ounces of beer! I mean…if you ended up only pouring in 10 ounces because you were feeling a bit thirsty throughout the ordeal, that would be ok too! (I did it. No shame!)

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As the beer starts cooking up and the fumes start to slightly intoxicate you…add in your salt, pepper, and parsley to taste! Add your cup of water  and bring to a boil. Once boiling put on low heat and let simmer until reduced and you no longer smell the alcohol. This takes about 12-15 minutes.

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Once reduced, add back in your sausage and keep on low heat. Just need to heat the sausages through.

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While that continued to warm up, I made my homemade Spätzle and warmed up some Sauerkraut to complete the meal. If you want a thicker sauce you can certainly add a little sauce thickener or cornstarch and water mixture. I didn’t do that to mine, I liked it as it was but to each his own!

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There ya have it! It’s a really simple dish which requires very few ingredients. Let’s be honest…most of which you probably have in your home already!

Let me know if you try it out or what you would do to change it up!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

 

The True (Southern) German Potato Salad

I know you’ve seen me post pictures of this on my Facebook Page so I figured it was time to spill the secret.  German Potato Salad is made two ways from what I’ve learned while living in Germany. There is the way the northerners make it and the way the southerners make it. The one ingredient that makes the difference, mayo. Thankfully, for my waistline I lived in the South where they opted out of using mayonnaise for this very common dish!

Many moons ago I asked Toblerone’s mom for her recipe for Kartoffelsalat and she wrote it out for me. I use it like there is nothing else in the world that matters. That stays with me in a special place. If I ever lost it, I would be lost. There is something about having a recipe handwritten that makes it feel more like a sacred piece of family history.  Same goes for recipes my mom has written.

On with it already, Kaitlin.

First things first…the ingredients here in the US are not exact but I will try to help you through it best I can!

You will need:

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Note: Some people cheat and use this little package by Knorr to “fix” Potato salad (See little packet on the right hand side of the picture.) We are doing things the original way today!

 

Potatoes – peeled, and cut in half if they are large. I normally use about 7-8 potatoes just for the two of us (Toblerone loves his leftovers!), or an entire 1lb bag or more for larger groups. (I use the yellow/golden potatoes. They are closest to the potatoes in Germany. Yes…even those are different.)

1 Onion – chopped in small pieces. (This time around I used a red onion for color. )

Vegetable Oil

Distilled white vinegar

Salt

Pepper

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Bouillon (powdered if you can find it. Mixed in warm water – about a 1/2 cup.) I use Knorr Delikatess Brühe (shown below) which you can find on many German import food websites. If you want to get the taste correct, trust me…you need this stuff. I’ve tried others I found in the import aisles at grocery stores and its all sorts of wrong. Threw out many batches because of this small ingredient!

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How it’s done:

Peel your potatoes and cut in half. They will cook faster when they are smaller. Place in pot and boil until soft or a knife goes through easily.

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Chop the onion in small pieces and throw into a large bowl. I always use my tupperware bowls because that would be very un-German of me if I didn’t use my tupperware.

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Once potatoes are done, drain water. Let sit until they aren’t scorching. If they are still warm I rinse them off with cold water before handling. DO NOT BURN YOURSELVES. IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!!! Once cooled, you will grab a potato and with a knife almost shave the potato over the bowl until it is in small pieces.

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Should look like this at the end:

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Now, here is where the recipe gets a little confusing. There are no real measurements. This is a “feel-it-out” situation as is any good recipe. First add the vinegar. I usually make a circle as I pour and that is usually enough to start. You don’t want a big pour. Little at a time is better so you can taste test it. Too much is hard to correct. Start small.

Next up, add the Bouillon that is premixed in warm water . Also in a circular motion.  Add your salt and pepper…also a taste as you go thing.

At the end I do the same with the oil. Circular motion. The idea is not to make the potatoes swim. It’s a salad after all…not a soup, people!! A lot of the watery bits will soak into the Potatoes but you don’t want a puddle at the bottom of your bowl.

Mix gently to get the flavors going.

Most important part of the process….LET IT SIT. Do not touch it. Let it sit on the counter for a while. Not in the fridge. Not in the garage. Just let it sit. Let the flavors work into it. Potato salad is served room temperature in Germany. So be German and do just that. Afterwards of course, whatever is left….if there is any left you can place in the fridge.

And…TA DA! There you have it….You just learned how to make a very Swabian styled Potato Salad. I bet your Omi would be oh so proud!

Guten Appetit!!!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

 

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The German Cream Cheese Phenomenon

Yes. Cheese. Specifically Cream Cheese. Just work with me here…

To me, cream cheese is typically in the All-American household. We obviously are known for loving bagels and we all know that bagels are just NO BUENO without a big old glob of cream cheese on it. Besides the bagel situation, I was always a big cream cheese and jelly fan (mom can attest to that!) Its good for cooking as well. Some use it in sauces to thicken it and make it creamy and of course we can’t forget my birthday cake, chocolate chip cheesecake!!!

I actually don’t even know why I’m talking about this when I’m doing this special diet that does NOT allow any kind of cream cheese.

In Germany, cream cheese, known as frischkäse, is used as a spread on sandwiches among a few other things. I used to LOVE picking out a new flavor at the grocery store. There is just this mass amount of options it was amazing! I noticed here in the States it’s lacking in options which is weird considering we are the cream cheese capital of the world! The differences of course are that here in the US the flavors are strawberry, honey, and other sweeter options.

In Germany, it was option after option of tasty cream cheeses! Yes, so much that it means I need to write a blog post about this. People, we need to come together and ask Kraft Philadelphia to give us the SAME cream cheese options and rights as the Germans! Our palettes deserve a bit more variety!!

Check out these amazing options…brace yourself…there are definitely way more than is offered here. But it definitely is interesting to see how they offer different options for the different demographics!


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From top left to right

1. Regular – Light (Low Fat)

2. Regular – Balance

3. Regular – Double Cream (Extra Creamy)

4. Regular –  Lactose Free

5. Regular – Yogurt

6. Herbs – Balance

7. Herbs – Double Cream (Extra Creamy)

8. Herbs – Light (Low Fat)

9. Chive

10. Horseradish

11. Feta and Cucumber

12. Spring Onion and pepper

13. Pepper Chili

14. Sweet Chili

15. Grilled pepper

16. Smoked Salmon with Dill

17.  Milka (chocolate in Germany like Hershey’s is for us.)

18. Milka with Hazelnut

19. Honey

 

So they are missing another one from this list that I always saw: ham…lol..ham flavored cream cheese. Awesome.

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As you can see there are only 3 sweet options. The Milka one I will say tastes EXACTLY like chocolate chip cheesecake. It’s a diet KILLER! Only had it once but it was the very best thing ever.

I tried to find a similar picture of the American versions but unsuccessful.  However, I compiled a quick list for comparison:

1. Strawberry

2. Blueberry

3. Garden Vegetable

4. Chive & Onion

5. Jalapeno

6. Chipotle

7. Brown sugar and Cinnamon

8. Milk Chocolate

9. Dark Chocolate

10. Honey Pecan

11. Smoked Salmon

12. Pineapple

 

There is a limited edition I know they have which is pumpkin and cinnamon too. I’m sure there are others. But Pineapple? Thats just gross. You can see there are 7 sweet options as opposed to the 3 that Germany has. America….work with me here. We need more options!!! Too much sugar goin round!

What do you think? Would you try all the options that are available in Germany? Which ones are strange to you? What would you like to see here in the US?

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

 

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Let The Renovations Begin!

Maybe it has something to do with the winter time and the fact that I want to be inside…ALL.DAY.LONG. The bug to change the world has hit me…or actually maybe starting a bit smaller is key and that has led me to begin renovations on my home!

As you know I completed the guest rooms minus a few decorating items but at least those two rooms are done and the doors stay closed until people come to visit (hint, hint!) On to the bigger projects where I actually have to focus and take my time because these are the rooms that people actually see a lot more.

First up is the living room!! Pinterest inspiration struck again and I decided with this house I really need to stay in-tune with myself and my style. I am a “coastal” girl and I should just allow that to happen! Light blues, creams, and seashells galore! Gotta bring a little bit of the ocean into my mid-west life here. Thankfully, the German husband of mine is just cool with whatever I do! :-)

So I saw this picture on Pinterest which you can find it’s original place on the House Of Turquoise Blog here. 1067883302_oXKVM-OThis is the idea! And although I can’t exactly do it JUST like that it was a great start for inspiration!

Previous walls in the living room were in my opinion dark blue. Nothing wrong with dark colors, it just started to depress me. There is only one large window and two smaller ones in this room. Not a whole lot of natural light pouring through so it was important to me that we lighten it up…A LOT!

I fought with the idea of paint colors and finally landed on THE color. Glass Slipper by Benjamin Moore. I spent hours searching for the right color but every one of them was either too “baby blue” or “too dark.” This color by Benjamin Moore has a hint of green in it so its not going to give you that newborn baby room look.

Benjamin Moore Glass slipper

So all in all it took me to do the entire room in about a week! I know, that seems insane but first, I was all by my little self doing this. I had to take SO many breaks because I also have dog duty and other house duties to attend to. On top of that, I’m scared of heights so being on a ladder was just REALLY challenging for me!

End result – Exhibit A:

Collage 1Collage 2Harley loves his new space :-) He’s going to be 5 tomorrow! Everyone say Happy Birthday to this sweet, cupcake!

End Result – Exhibit B

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So as you can see this simple change turned the room into something different. I actually like to sit in there all day now. No…wait, I actually don’t sit around all day. I’m off doing very productive things because that is what housewives do! :-)

I painted the panel above the fireplace white because I’m having a hard enough time figuring out what to put there. A picture? A clock? An abstract piece of art? A canvas print? It’s not easy! But at least it doesn’t look like its a focal point anymore. So maybe whatever goes there won’t be THAT important.

Also, I painted ALL of the molding…ALL of it.  I couldn’t bare the thought of trying to scrub out all the crayon marks, old pizza, and several other questionable substances I found in my journey.  Another reason why I shouldn’t have children…my OCD does not allow for ANY messes! But doing that simple little thing made this room look like it was just built. Almost. It gave it all a bit of much needed makeover and I’m feeling complete!

Next up: DECORATING!! Will be added a bit of greenery, end tables, lamps, curtains and something for those shelves and above the mantel. Its all getting there! Slowly but surely!

Then on to: DINING ROOM/KITCHEN! Will be adding backsplash, brightening it up as well, and re-staining the cabinets! Wish me luck!

Anyone have any ideas for the space above the mantel? Would love to hear what you got!!!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo