A New Year = A New Look

re·hash (r-hsh)
tr.v. re·hashed, re·hash·ing, re·hash·es
1. To bring forth again in another form without significant alteration.

A little blog re-hash was in order to welcome in the New Year. This is my first full-fledged venture into major HTML experimentation. I'm pleased with the outcome. Opinions? Comments?

I'm sure to anyone really familiar with HTML will think I'm an absolute wuss...but hey---I've learned something new and I totally feel like a super-hero! hahaaaa :)


Growing On Me.

I guess they aren't that bad.

I have ALWAYS had a hard time with seeing something in my mind and having whatever it was turn out differently.

Sort of like when you eat too much and you say, "My eyes were bigger than my stomach!"----except it's, "My brain thinks I'm way better than my actual skill level!". Time and time again this happens. But I'm ok with it all in the end. Just takes an adjustment on my part.

I do wish they were bigger, but they work. Actually, I'm starting to like them.

By the way, I, in no way, was trying to solicit positive comments to feed my ego in the previous "wreath disaster" post....I was just being honest. Truly. I was totally expecting someone to say, "yeah, you're right. they stink". (maybe a little nicer than that....)

What a difference a few days and a sliced finger make.....

More on that later....hopefully it turns out to be nothing....


Well, sometimes it works....

....and sometimes it doesn't.

I mentioned in this post that I was going to be working on wreaths for the front door. After working on them a bit yesterday, I finished them this morning.

I, as always, was trying to be thrifty and use the same grapevine wreath forms that I bought for my Fall wreaths (for $2 each, which I thought was a steal!) and use fresh flora from my own yard. I found an evergreen bush of some sort, some weeds that looked like holly leaves and a few trees with red winter berries. I glittered and sprayed them to look festive and Christmas-y. I sprayed some more fallen tree branches silver and stuck them in there, too.

You would think I would need nothing more, right???

Well, it didn't go on as smoothly as I had planned (does anything?) The branches stuck out too far so I had to pare those down in order for people to enter and exit through the door without losing an eye. "Hey, friend! Come on in! OH, and sorry about the whole eye thing...."

Not very welcoming.

So this is what I am stuck with for at least a month. Yes, I am one of those who will leave up their Christmas decorations until Valentine's day. It seems such a pity to do all the work for just a couple weeks of enjoyment, right?? My house always looks so bare and empty after the Holidays. It will be even worse this year since I have absolutely NO wall art or pictures up on ANY wall yet. I guess it will get me to do it quicker. I just don't want to rush into putting something up and not be happy with where it goes because we all know that I won't get around to moving it. Once it's up, it's up for good! Sort of the same with these wreaths. I could take the time and rip them apart and start over, but I just don't have that kind of surplus when it comes to 'time'. So they are staying as is. Puny and sad as they are. Oh well. At least it's not fall leaves anymore and I don't have to say "It's still Fall here at the LaPlaca house" when people come to the door....

i guess this means i need to take the pumpkins (that we never carved) off the front porch now, too,huh? :/

When I started this blog I always said I would post my successes and failures. So there you have it! Feel free to mock and make suggestions. I'm truly at peace with it all.

At least the treats I made for Tony's work luncheon turned out pretty fantastic {even if I do say so myself!} ;)
Soda Cracker Candy, Peppermint Swirl Marshmallows and my ALL TIME fave, Ginger Chews
Yum. Now I'm off to console myself with a cookie and some hot chocolate.
What are your best/worst Holiday crafts or food adventures??


Deckin' the Halls....

....Or at least the Family Room.

I know I'm behind. There's nothing new about that. But at least we now have a tree and a little festive-ness in the house. In fact, just TODAY I started working on the wreaths for the front doors. This is the first year with double doors and I was ill-prepared. But I found some fantastic stuff in the yard and I can't wait to put it all together and welcome people into our home with them this Christmas.

I am SO excited about my tree this year. We haven't had a big tree for a few years for several reasons. The first being: three years ago I was on bedrest with the triplets and not allowed to stand, let alone decorate a tree. Last year and the year before that, I had been planning for and decorating trees that were donated to the Festival of Trees and was all tree'd-out when the time came to do our own. Not to mention the fact that I have three very active and inquisitive children that would gladly climb a Christmas tree if I let them. (more on them later... )

I bought my delightful tree on clearance after Christmas two years ago for an even more delightful price, and it has sat, unopened, ever since. I even bought several clearance ornaments in a whole new color scheme and I am beyond ecstatic that I actually got to use them and see what it looks like in 'real life' and not in my head! :)

Remember a few sentences back about the children wanting to climb the tree? Although they didn't climb this one, they did remove the ornaments from entire bottom half two days after I set it up. Ironically, this was the first time in my whole life that I used a few glass ornaments. Silly me. I thought that by just telling my children not to touch the tree, they'd actually listen. Not so much. Luckily, only one ornament broke and no one was injured. They haven't touched the tree since. I don't feel I need to go into details about my 'speech' to them after "the incident" but apparently what I said worked.... :D I put the removed ornaments back on, but it doesn't quite look the same as before. I just don't have the energy to figure out where things went originally and to account for the missing broken ornament...so they just kind of haphazardly ended back up on the tree. I know that's how one SHOULD decorate a tree....but I just can't do it that way. Every ornament has to be perfectly spaced apart from one another and an equal distance away from those of it's same kind. A little OCD? Probably. Honestly, I can't really look at my tree because all I see are the flaws. I'm just trying to love having a tree rather than worry about how well it's decorated. So far, that is working.

[and not, by any stretch of the imagination, do I think any of my trees have been perfect. or even good, for that matter---far, far from that. i just get excited about design in any form and want to share my love for creation with everyone. creativity is a skill i hope to develop further through any means possible. that's sort of the whole idea for this blog. even just experimentation is beautiful!! so you don't need to think it's beautiful. i'm just in love with everything. it's been a joyous journey for me.]

Here are some photos of the [only] decorated room!

We didn't have a chance to put up our mantel before we moved in, so I did a makeshift space-filler with branches I collected from my front yard after a big wind storm. (I'm sure Tony is glad to finally not have a pile of branches sitting on the front porch!) I spray painted them with chrome spraypaint and hung some extra gold, copper, silver and champagne colored ornaments. Further down is a pic of the completed scene with the girls stockings 'hung by the chimney with care'. I didn't get to finish 'embellishing' them, but they'll do for now!

An extra branch and ornaments on the components shelf (not as tidy as I would like it, but eh. who cares.)

Up close pic of the console table. Glass block also depicts a Nativity scene, if you look closely. So far, no one has tried to 'play house' with Mary and baby Jesus. Phew!
Here are the added stockings and wreath to hearth.

I hope to add pictures of the front door tomorrow or Friday. IF I can actually get the wreaths done....

Here's a sneak peek:

Yay! I'm excited...although those leaves are SHARP!!! I got poked one time and you would have thought I was stabbed with a knife! Owey.

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Happy Decking!


The First Week of December

...was a DOOZY! I can honestly say that I'm glad it's OVER!! Even though I did enjoy the distractions...a little....

The Sacramento Festival of Trees and Lights was the 4th and 5th of December, but planning started back in August! (the first meeting was the night before we moved. Yes, my husband was pleased as punch that I left the night before moving. Can't blame him, but I didn't attend any more of the meetings so that should be a good trade...) With moving and the Festival, two RS events, and trying to make my children and husband happy, these have been some really busy months.

There was a lot of work and preparation just to begin decorating for the Festival, the part I was in charge of. I was given the title "Designer/Decorator". It was sort of generous---but I'll take it! We finally started putting things up the Saturday following Thanksgiving (after a few trips to the venue in November for final measurements and things.) We were there all day Saturday, Monday(i think---it's all a blur), most of the day Tuesday, I took Wednesday to spend with the family, then back a little on Thursday, squeezed in a trip on the "Polar Express" ride, and then back Friday--the morning of. I am so grateful for all the help I had! From watching the girls to tying fishing line to re-attaching jingle balls (after someone put them on haphazardly the first time----thank you, Sandra) to unpacking the decorations and organizing to just BEING THERE. I FOR SURE couldn't have done it myself. Sure, I had my breakdowns---crying in the bathroom is OK, people!!! But it couldn't have turned out any better! And, truth be told, no one really even notices the decorations with all the beautiful trees around! I suppose it adds another "layer" of interest to the event. :)

Earlier in the week, Tuesday to be exact, was the RS Quarterly Meeting for which we assembled crafts to donate to the Craft Boutique at the Festival. Instead of doing a Christmas dinner and program, as was done in years past, we decided to go the service route and truly get into the REAL meaning of Christmas, which is to celebrate the birth of the Savior and His life of service. We thought it was a really fitting way to kick off the Season! With the help of the RS presidency, I selected 4 crafts (from about 15 I had narrowed down) and collected all the necessary supplies. It was a lot more work than I imagined, but I'm so grateful everyone took one craft and helped get some of the supplies for me. Phew! It was fun and the Festival sold quite a few, which is impressive since the Festival was only for Friday evening and all day Saturday.

The following pictures show the labor of love both of these events and ensuing projects were to me. I feel truly blessed to have been given the chance to be involved in such awesome events! Enjoy!

What the centerpieces looked like when I bought them....
(Pretty, yes, but they didn't match our 'color scheme' of gold, copper, silver and peacock blue)


All 22 trees disassembled All 264 bells(....yes, I counted) ready for spraying!
I spray-painted. For hours. My little tree forest:

First step: done.
Color Scheme:

Sprayed bells put back on. I didn't like the way they looked, so I decided to hand glitter them.
:/ Not my brightest idea ever. But they did look better in the end....
All the hand gluing and sprinkling was worth it! :) (....and the glitter that I am STILL finding all over my house...)
We decided to sell the centerpieces at the Boutique after the Gala event Friday night and this is one of 3 that I bought back on display at my house:
The venue "BEFORE":
Picture 2 of the venue from the entrance:

The Venue During the Decorating:

The Finished Product:

The Gala Event Friday Evening:

Crafts the RS Assembled and Donated to the Festival Boutique:

A fun couple of days were had by ALL!

The Cathedral Square Homeless Program thanks EVERYONE for their contributions of money, time and good works! Hope to see you all there next year!



That's right. Turkey Day.

It was a bit crazy. The girls decided to get sick, I was way behind on cooking and cleaning, I didn't get to shower beforehand, we ate an hour later than planned and we skipped making the green salad and dessert. Well, my mother in law brought what was, I'm sure, a delicous Marie Calendar's apple pie. But I didn't partake. No time. And also, I'm a pie snob. It's true. Thank my wonderful mother who is the queen of all things pie. There is usually a pie-per-person ratio back home, and while my tastebuds are realllllly missing that this year, my waistline is saying, "oh thank goodness!"

Another thing I deeply miss this year is my family. I can't remember for sure the last Thanksgiving I had with them---maybe 4 years ago? It's just not as fun cooking and getting ready for the day alone. Tony was helping out a lot, but he was also helping watch the girls and clean up where I hadn't yet. And his back still gives him a lot of trouble so he had to rest every now and then. I was super grateful my mother in law made the stuffing, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and fresh fruit salad, or else we might not have had those things either!! And Tony's family is so great. I enjoy the time spent with them. I just miss my own family, too.

I tried three new recipes this year---I made the traditional green bean casserole that I love, but I made it with fresh beans instead of canned. REALLY good. I recommend it to everyone. It's soooo much less mushy. The true test will be to see how mushy it is when I have the leftovers for lunch! :) The second recipe I tried was a Sweet Potato Gratin. You layer thin sliced rounds of sweet potato with a little salt, pepper, cinnamon and brown sugar in a round baking dish. Repeat however many times you wish. Then pour cream (I used half and half to cut the fat a little tiny bit) until it's halfway up the potato layers and bake. In the future I will probably cover it, because the top got a little too crunchy for me. But maybe some people like it crunchy. To remedy that, I put a tiny bit of butter on top. Softened it right up! It was pretty good, but unless there are lots of people to eat it, you will have tons of leftovers. And I really only like sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving day. But I'll give leftovers a shot. It might be good cold with a little whipped cream on top. Sorry if that grosses some of you out (my husband is one who will be). the third recipe I tried was a Cranberry Pinapple Relish. It turned out really nice and refreshing. I actually ended up cooking about half of it so part of it would be a little more traditional, since the other half is just raw cranberries. Both were good and different. Personally, I liked the cooked version. Tony liked the raw. But it was fun to try something new! Next year I'm doing a warm Cranberry Grape compote. Yum.

I didn't get to do the whole tablescape I wanted to either, but it still worked out well. I don't think there would have been room to do what I wanted, anyway. It was fun to "break in" our "new" dining room with a big Thanksgiving meal. Such an appropriate "first" use! I couldn't have been more excited. I planned on using the china as well, but I ran out of time to wipe the dust off of them. Oh well. Someday I will actually "decorate" the dining room. it looks so bare without window coverings and blank walls. But the wallpaper and ceiling do plenty of talking on their own. I just haven't figured out quite what will go well with them yet. But I will!

{{In case you are wondering about all of the " " marks, let me explain---in case you don't remember. Our "new" house is actually the house Tony grew up in. And since we began dating, all but one Thanksgiving I think, has taken place right here (and of course all of Tony and his sister's Thanksgivings ). So, this was the first year of it being remodeled and pretty much like a "new" house. It was sort of surreal to think about the old Thanksgivings spent here. And I'm sure even more surreal for Tony and his family. I hope it was still as great for everyone else as in years past.}}

Everything was wonderful just how it was and I truly enjoyed our "first" Thanksgiving in our new home. I was honored to host!

Here are just a couple photos of the table and dining room. I wish I would have taken more up close and of the food, but I just ran out of time. We were literally sitting down at the table as I was hurridly taking them.

I hope you had a GRATEFUL day! We did!


***Turkey Day Menu***

I can't wait for Turkey Day. However, as much as I enjoy cooking, I just wish I could sit and do nothing while someone else does all the cooking this year. But I digress.

This years' menu will be mostly lower fat. Why not make good food a little bit better for you??

Here it is:

Stuffed Oven Roasted Turkey (of course)
Stuffing with sausage and pine nuts
Fall Salad with buttermilk dressing
Prosciutto wrapped roasted asparagus
Sweet Potato Gratin
Fruit salad
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Cranberry Pineapple relish
Homemade Gravy

I have yet to figure out dessert (I know, it's tomorrow) But it will all come together!

If anything turns out well, I will share a recipe or two. I love experimenting!! :) Maybe I will take a few pictures and post them tomorrow night.

Come back for some pictures of my recent projects for the Festival of Trees and Lights! It's only a week away!! Yikes!!!

Have a very very happy and GRATEFUL Thanksgiving! Mine will be!


How to Refinish Your Mirrored Closet Door Frames

I had one request for this, so I thought I would just post instructions here, in case someone else out there would like to try refinishing their closet door tracks and frames.

First, take apart the whole thing. The WHOLE thing. Remember where each piece goes, maybe label the under not-showing sides with masking tape indicating their positions. (you could leave the frame around the mirrors if you cover the mirrored surface with newspaper---either way, it takes some work). Take pictures if you need to.

Second take it outside and sand the entire surface REALLY WELL with coarse steel wool. I didn't do as good a job as I should have (rushing---and it was 100+ degrees on the days I decided to do it. Smart, I know.)

Third, prime with spray primer made for anodized metal. Ask someone at the hardware or home improvement store. If you can go to a strictly paint store, all the better. The primer I got was just alright. It bubbled in spots, but it's handle-able. Make sure you use a large drop cloth and weigh down the edges to prevent the plastic from blowing onto your drying surfaces. (yeah, that also happened). I sprayed two sides at a time and let dry then rotated. Let dry a little longer than the can suggests...maybe a couple days.

Fourth, spray with chrome spray paint. Follow the instructions precisely concerning drying and re-coating times. Be careful when touching. If it hasn't cured before handling, you will leave fingerprints. Found that out the hard way, as well! :)

The best spray I've found (and trust me, I've gone through about 5 different kinds) is this one:

Rustoleum Bright Coat in Chrome with Metallic Finish. I only did 2 coats, and it turned out pretty good.

Fifth, and optional, is to seal it with a clear coat enamel. I didn't do that and have noticed some scratches. I have read, in doing research, that the clear coat might take away the chrome look and just make it look gray. So, test it out on a hidden part. I suggest the under side of the track that faces the floor. It the past I've used a really good clear coat on a variety of projects and really loved the results:
DecoArt Triple Thick Glaze brilliant gloss spray

As I said, I did not do this step, but wish I did. You may be able to receive guidance from the paint store people. All you can do is try.

Sixth and final step is reassembly. Not the most fun ever. Those mirrored doors are STINKIN heavy. Get some gentlemen to help!

You could do any color besides chrome, following the same basic instructions. You wouldn't have to be as particular about touching and drying times, either. But I would especially use the glaze on any other color. It would look so cool and shiny.

If I missed something, or was unclear about anything, please ask! I'm not real great at instructions---so I hope this is understandable! It isn't a quick project, but take your time and do all the steps and it will turn out FANTASTIC! (better than mine, for sure, since I was impatient).

Good luck and be brave!!


Too busy for projects....

Ugh. I have so many I need to do. I can barely keep the house decent, let alone unpack and work on projects. I've been neglecting posting pics of the house because I wanted it to look cute and decorated. But I don't know if that's going to happen for a while. I just have to get used to that fact.

So here are some long overdue pictures of the house. Sorry Katy, they are the same ones I emailed you. Nothing else has been done. :/ I am still working on the rest of the house.

Someday you might get to see all of it..... :)

Girls' bathroom. Parisian black white and pink. My mom made the gorgeous shower curtain from laminated cotton fabric, wide grosgrain ribbon and inexpensive cotton. Eventually it will have more of a Parisian flair....

Family Room. Added ceiling fans, painted beams and mounted TV. Someday we will get the cords looking nice and some stuff on the walls. :)

Second view of Family room. The far right niche is the wet bar that will someday be my craft room.

The project I stressed over---but I got to use a wet saw for the first time! Scary but fun!
Glass tile to the ceiling.

Nook and pantry. Several projects left to finish here, too.

View of kitchen and nook from family room. I love my gigantic peninsula. The granite people said it was the largest one they've ever done...weighing 800+lbs! I'm so glad we could do it in one slab instead of two pieces, like they wanted to do.

Many more pictures to come. Slowly, but surely. Someday I will do a post about all the fantastic deals I found. Again...someday.... :)