Thursday, April 19, 2018

Awesome Life Friday #156

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

So, now the best part of Awesome Life Friday -  the FEATURES!

With Earth Day in just a couple days away, I had a special fondness for posts that focus on the ideas of reduce, reuse and recycle as an aspect of them, whether it was repurposing an older item, switching something mass produced for something home made, or even making one dish meals.

Furniture Flip: My Favorite Table // A Fresh Squeezed Life
"I am a collector of cast-off furniture pieces because I like free things. And I love to make something pretty out of them!"

Sheet Pan Meal: Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables & Feta // Busy Being Jennifer
"Lets be realistic for a second. We’re busy people. VERY busy people, and we don’t always have time to “slave over a hot stove” for dinner, that’s where a sheet pan meal can be a handy option!"

Grilling the Plants for Earth Day // The Boondocks Blog
"I am not going to plant any trees, that is hubby's specialty.  Instead I'm going to salvage something from my basement and give it a new life."

Thrift Store DIY Desk Organizer // Fresh Vintage by Lisa S
"I found this DESK ORGANIZER the other day when I was out Thrift Shopping. I thought it had potential. Any wood, even cheap wood, will look great with a coat of chalk paint."

How to Make a Super Easy Essential Oil Bug Spray // Happy Mothering
"Since we started our natural living journey, we stopped using conventional bug sprays. We've tried some natural bug sprays as well, but it's so easy to make your own there's no reason to buy it."

How to Make an Edible Miniature Garden // 5 Minutes For Mom
"My daughter helped me with this project, and she had so much fun digging in the dirt, “handing” me the plants, and watering them. So, not only is this a fun gift for my mom, but also a sweet gift from my daughter, too."

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Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

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DIY Chalkboard Table

1 comment:

Our kitchen table was given to us shortly after the Mister and I moved into our first apartment by my father. It had been passed around various members of my family for years before even he got it, but for a newlywed couple just starting out, it was perfect.

After a few years, however, I found myself wanting to make it my own.

After some browsing around Pinterest, I decided that a chalkboard table would be the perfect thing for a little family with two young kids!

Actually transforming the table was a lot easier than anticipated!

I went to the hardware store and got some sandpaper and some chalkboard spray paint.

In use as a dining table
Then, one evening after the kids went to bed, I dragged the table out to my carport and started sanding away.

I only did a light scuffing of the varnish, to give the paint something to adhere to.

Thankfully, that was all it needed, and even though it was the part of the job that took the longest, it still didn't take very long at all.

The next part was the most fun, painting!

Even though I was outside I still put on a particle mask and went to town!

I ended up emptying the entire can on the table.

After letting the table dry overnight, I was delighted with the results!

Chalk Octopus!!
I now have a beautiful table that my kids can color on during the dreary wet months of winter in western Washington, and I spent less than $20 to get it!

After a few months of use, I have noticed a few spots where the paint has rubbed or chipped off, but it's really nothing that a bit of touch up chalkboard paint that I got at the craft store can't fix! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Strawberry Meringues (#fantasticalfoodfight)


Strawberry Shortcake is more 'All-American' than Apple Pie, I think and depending on where you're from you may have your luscious sweetened strawberries on pound cake, biscuits or even actual shortcakes.

Personally, I have yet to find a version I didn't love, so I was happy to hear that this month's Fantastical Food Fight theme is Strawberry Shortcake!  Not only would I have an excuse to make one of my favorite desserts, but I'd be sure to collect a whole lot of new strawberry shortcake inspiration, too!

One little catch - we were theoretically avoiding sugar. And grains.  So I did what any sane person would - I decided to go for a grain-free version and just decided to not worry about the sugar at all, since we were mostly doing fine on that score, a little one time indulgence wasn't going to be an problem.

(In the interests of transparency - we totally failed to launch our eating plans this month anyway - we took a weekend trip and there were blintzes.  Amazing deli blintzes good enough to make my eyes roll back in my head.  Never pass up a good blintz. You will only rarely find one that is as excellent as that one was.  So, we'll try again in May. Ahem... ok, back to the strawberries!)

Since I was going to try a grain-free version, meringue  shells made the most sense to me - these light, crisp little shells make lovely carriers for the sweetened strawberries, whipped cream and, if desired, some toasted coconut flakes or slivered almonds.

The shells are best within 24 hours of being made - after that, they get a bit chewy.  But they're also nice to nibble on plain or with a bit of jam, so use them up!

The meringue recipe comes from an old Betty Crocker recipe that's been kicking around on my bookshelf for a long time (thanks, Mom!).

They are very sweet and next time I might try taking the sugar down to 1/3 of a cup.

Strawberry Meringues
(serves 8)

Meringue Shells
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 c. sugar

2 pints strawberries (or bag of frozen), cleaned, stemmed and sliced (leave a few halved or whole if desired, for garnish)
1/3 c. sugar

1 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 T. sugar (optional)
1/2 c. toasted coconut flakes (opt.)

To make the strawberries:
Once strawberries have been cleaned, stemmed and sliced as desired, combine in a bowl with the sugar, stirring to coat thoroughly. Cover and let chill for a few hours or overnight. The sugar combines with the juices to create a light syrup.

To make the meringue shells:
Preheat oven to 225F.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a stand mixer set to medium speed, beat together egg whites and cream of tartar for several minutes, until soft peaks form. Raise to high speed and very slowly add sugar, a little at a time until stiff, glossy peaks form and sugar is mostly dissolved.

Spoon meringue into 8 rounds on parchment paper, shaping into nests that are slightly raised around the edges. (You could use a pastry bag to create pretty shapes, if desired.)

Bake one hour at 225F, then shut off heat without opening the oven door.  Let sit in  the closed oven for an additional hour.

While the meringues are baking, take a few moments to wash the mixer bowl and beaters - you'll need them again before serving.  An hour or so before planning to serve, tuck your mixing bowl into the freezer to chill.

Make the whipped cream:
The key to great whipped cream is to freeze the bowl first!  Combine cream, vanilla and sugar to bowl and whip at high speed for about a minute, until stiff peaks form. Don't overbeat or you'll wind up with butter!

With all the sugar going on in the shells and the strawberries, we chose not to sweeten our whipped cream, and did not notice a lack.

To serve:
On a plate, set one meringue, top with a serving of strawberries, and a dollop of whipped cream.  Sprinkle with a few toasted coconut flakes, if desired. (slivered almonds are a lovely addition, too!) If you left some of the strawberries whole, top the whole thing with one perfect berry.


If you'd like to join into the Fantastical Food Fight, sign up here!

Don't forget - the link up below is only for Fantastical Food Fight Strawberry Shortcake entries - if you're stopping in to share your other posts, I'd love to see you over at Party in Your PJs!