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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Easy Project!

I'm so thrilled to have my cookbooks on display and easily accessible, but the heavy duty bookends we needed to keep them from falling over were so ugly. Now they're fabulous, thanks to this easy project! All you do is laminate postcards and stick to bookends with double-sided foam tape. That's it! Easy and easily removed, if you want your postcards later for another purpose!




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

It's Frustrating Being The "Little Guy"

When you have a show on YouTube you're at YouTube's mercy.

I uploaded a new episode yesterday and periodically check our views throughout the day, to see how many people are watching. This afternoon I checked and our view count had dropped since the morning.

How is that even possible? People unwatched it?!

It is so frustrating. It's frustrating when you pour your heart and soul into your show and something like this happens. Not only do I feel like they don't care about us, it's almost as if we're being targeted. I know we're not, since we're not important enough to even target, but it does start to feel that way.

I'm just glad we have other platforms, in addition to YouTube. We're on iTunes, which gives people another way to watch and subscribe, plus several public TV stations throughout the country download our show. We've even had people tell us they saw the show on TV, which tickles us tremendously.

That is fantastic and I'm grateful. But I'm not going to lie: we need YouTube numbers to get sponsors. Which means we need our views to NOT disappear.

Sigh.


Monday, October 26, 2015

My Second Cake For Hire

I bake a fair number of cakes and pies for various episodes of the show and photos for symposiums and such. Since it's just Paul and me here we end up with lots of leftovers, if we even touch said desserts at all. They don't go to waste, though. Paul takes them to work and leaves them out for all to enjoy. Well, recently he was approached and asked if I'd bake a cake for a departmental birthday celebration - for pay, of course. So I did it and they were pleased! I just baked another, which he'll take in tomorrow. I hope they like it! The leftover batter and icing in the bowl were good!

I have no background in baking and am completely self taught, so I'm hoping that one day soon I'll be able to do one of the Saturday classes at the Culinary Institute of America.  Last year I did one of their two day boot camps, which was great. I learned a lot and it was very hands on. That's how I learn best, so I think it would be great for me. In the meantime, I can bake a mean chocolate, white, chocolate chip or pineapple upside-down cake!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Serious Powder Room Progress

I am so happy to report that serious progress has happened in our powder room and the Renovation From Hell may be finished within the next couple of weeks! I painted, so it's pink again, and Paul installed our fixtures, plus rewired our medicine chest, which hasn't worked in the entire time we've been in the house. Now it provides warm ambient light!  He also stripped decades worth of paint off of our door hardware and it looks so much better. As he says, now it's shabby chic, instead of just shabby. We still need to tile both walls and the floor, plus there are some crevices that need to be patched, and so on, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's a HUGE relief!

Paul and the fixtures he installed today

Vintage medicine chest, working for the first time since we bought the house in 2003!

Friday, October 23, 2015

New Toy!

We have a new toy and I'm loving it so much! It's the Hue Lux lighting system from Philips, which allows you to control any light bulbs you connect to the system (you have to buy their special bulbs) from your smartphone. We have them in the new light fixture in our breakfast nook and enjoy sliding them on and off like a couple of simpletons. Even better, you can connect up to 50 bulbs to the system, so we can add 48 more, and you can even get bulbs that change color and that you can program for your own personal light shows! I can't wait to pick some of those up!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Costume Shop Is Open

Haven't started on our actual costume costumes yet, but I did manage to make matching Halloween outfits for Paul and myself, which will make their debut in our Halloween episode and which we'll be working at StreamCon, a convention for all things online video, which also happens to fall on Halloween. Now I need to get to work on my fascinators!




The painting continues, but fortunately I have Paul's help today. Having him here makes it seem like this job might actually be completed in 2015.

Wait a minute! That's not painting!



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I Hate Painting

Specifically priming.

I've been priming our powder room and our "one coat," oil-based primer clearly needs a second coat, plus I haven't even touched the doors, since we're going to take them off to paint them.

It's also really hard to get the paint to adhere to walls and ceilings  (yes, unfortunately we're doing the ceiling, too), since they're so lumpy and uneven. So I end up pressing on the roller, which sends a shower of oil-based primer down on top of me. Fortunately I'm onto these shenanigans and covered my hair and eyes this time, but the rest of me still looks like I have a tropical skin disease that would no doubt make homeland security stop me from entering the country. And I can't have a cocktail for an hour, since I have to pick Paul up from the train station.

Maybe after that I'll hit Cousin Glendora's box of wine. Hard.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Gruesome Food

I've been playing around with gruesome food ideas for Halloween:



I have some more gory ideas, including a hellish main dish that I'll be playing with tomorrow...


Monday, October 19, 2015

Burning The Midnight Oil

Late night for us, trying to get it all done. However, things are looking up - Paul just brought me a toddy!



MUCH better!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Behind The Scenes

We shot four videos today! Here's a gander at what shooting an episode looks like from my point of view!


You can only see the evidence of one of the lights in this shot, off to the right, but there are actually two others on the left. Someone said that our camera doesn't look impressive, but, ironically, it does a much better job than our old, much more "impressive" looking camera. That's called progress!

And here are the results of shooting four videos. Care to join us for a cocktail? We have spares!



Saturday, October 17, 2015

Breakfast Nook and Apple Salsa

Our breakfast nook renovation is practically done and I'm so happy! I made the curtains for the new pantry today:


And Paul installed our new light fixture:


I love that fixture so much! I've dubbed it Flintstones Modern, since it looks like something Wilma would have chosen if she'd moved into a mid-century modern home.

All that's left is the finishing touches - putting stuff back on the shelves, hanging pictures, etc. I'm glad to have something done!

Paul has been busy filling holes in the bathroom walls that had to be cut out to install electricity. I guess that's why they add electricity when the house is being built. They had to cut out huge chunks. More wall patch!

In other news, I quickly improvised this salsa last night and it turned out to be really good! All you do is chop an apple, half a cucumber and a few jalapeƱo peppers (I was using what I had) and toss with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper and a little garlic and red pepper flakes, if you like. It was great with salmon and today we're having it with chips!








Friday, October 16, 2015

Liquor Heaven

We've just returned from Liquor Heaven, better known as Mid Valley Wine & Liquor, Newburgh, New York's fabulous destination for all things hooch! We shot a lot of video for next Tuesday's episode, sampled some wonderful products, picked up LOTS of liquor and generally had a great morning! They could not have been more hospitable and accommodating and we're so grateful. Be sure to drop in when passing through on I-84 for great stuff at great prices!


Coming Tuesday from the Kitsch-en: liquor shopping!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I Can't Handle All This Improvement

If you thought our powder room looked bad last week, with exposed wallboard and holes in the walls, wait until you see it today:



Lovely, isn't it? Paul and the electrician opened up walls and ceiling for our new fixtures and it rained insulation. It was so messy I was coughing two rooms away! The good news is that we DO have power in there now. The bad news is that none of the fixtures are actually in place yet, so we don't currently have lights. SOON, I hope!



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bit By Bit

That's what Paul keeps saying about our home improvement projects: "Bit by bit."

My cookbooks are housed! Not all of them, but the vast majority.




I'm going to make covers for those ugly-yet-get-the-job-done bookends, probably out of the fabric we bought to make the curtains for the pantry. Right after I make the curtains for the pantry. I'd do it tomorrow, but hopefully our power will be out tomorrow - the electrician is supposedly coming to wire up our powder room! I say "supposedly" because I'm a little skeptical after the false starts. Please send good electrical thoughts our way!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Breakfast Nook: Light At The End Of The Tunnel

After an anxiety attack, which involved our new shelves NOT bearing the weight IKEA promised, we're back in business! Paul shored two of them up with supports that claim they'll now hold 200 pounds of weight and now I can move the food back into its rightful pantry (right, which currently harbors cookbooks). Next up: our new light fixture, our new utility cart, curtains for the front of the pantry and, eventually, more painting.


If  you're ever home improving, I recommend watching the film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, on a continuous loop, if possible. There is no better inspiration or, frankly, antidote for delays and other frustrations. 



Monday, October 12, 2015

Autumn Apple Madness, Coming Tomorrow!

Here's a little preview of tomorrow's episode, "Autumn Apple Madness!" We're crazy for all things apple! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel (click here) and be among the first to see!



And here's a look at our Cocktail of the Week, the recipe for which will be beamed to all subscribers of our newsletter tomorrow! If you'd like to subscribe and receive a recipe for a lovely libation each week, click here!

Cocktail of the Week: Violet Hour


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Progress

Slow, slow progress.

Our breakfast nook is painted!

Breakfast nook: painted!

Paul is currently assembling the new "pantry" that will live in there. IKEA calls it a shelving system, but with the new fabric I purchased today (70% off at Jo-Ann Fabrics - make sure you're on their list for coupons and be sure to give them your phone number, so they can text them to you), it will be a mid-century modern fantasy, particularly when Paul installs our new light fixture!

He works so hard.

Lest you think I've been idle since finishing the paint in the breakfast nook, I've been helping to patch walls and I think the holes may finally be covered. Paul made a fascinating discovery today: a former rodent's nest (RIP - he excavated the remains) inside one of the walls that had been feathered with a hot pink feather boa. I don't remember any pink boas disappearing, but I have so many that who can tell? UGH. However one might feel about rodents (I'm not a fan), this one was definitely a kindred spirit!


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Our Lives Are So Glamorous

The powder room and breakfast nook here at the Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en are in the awkward, "ugly duckling" stage of their development, but they will be gorgeous swans when they're done. At this point that date seems far off, but the good news is that I finally got a coat of paint on the walls of the nook! The paint prep was a six hour nightmare and the priming wasn't much better, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! Another coat and we should be in business  to hang our new shelves and put together our new "pantry" (IKEA didn't consider it a pantry, but we do!)! Here is the first coat. It looks more green than it is in this shot, but you get the idea:

Breakfast nook. Can't wait to have our kitchen back!

The prep for the painting was so awful that, when I was at Lowe's buying the paint, when the woman asked me if I wanted Valspar's "Signature" paint, or the more premium "Reserve" line, and explained that they claim the Reserve gives better coverage, I went for it. Best $10 I've ever spent. That paint went on like a dream! Thank you, Valspar Reserve!

In other news, the powder room looks distressingly like it did last week, but work IS getting done in there. I patched some walls today and Paul has been cutting out bad sections of wall and floor and adding new. This is the dirty, unrewarding part of the project, but we'll be glad we bothered when our walls don't cave in.

Mudding walls. It's good to learn a trade.

Should I be worried?


Friday, October 9, 2015

Happy Hour. Thank heavens.

Most days I advocate sipping a lovely libation. Tonight I will be charmingly chugging a gigantic libation! Whose idea was it to redo two rooms in our house at the same time, anyway?! Oh, yeah, mine. Calgon (and booze), take me away!


Thursday, October 8, 2015

I'm getting kind of annoyed

I just unearthed the old tub in our powder room and found that the previous owners built this weird frame around it, which is going to be all kinds of fun to rid ourselves of. However, I'd rather look at the unfinished tub side than that hideous wall board. I really think this house has every issue it could possibly have, along with some other fun idiosyncrasies for good measure. 



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkin Crazy

Fall always makes me go pumpkin crazy! Suddenly everything I make seems to feature pumpkin, which is kind of funny, since I typically buy the canned, which is available all year long. Lately I've made pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, our current episode features pumpkin nachos (click here to watch) and tonight I made pumpkin pizza. I figured I'd continue in this vein until Thanksgiving, after which my thoughts will turn to winter fruits and veggies. However, I learned today that there may be a canned pumpkin shortage this year, due to failures with the pumpkin crops! Our Thanksgiving guests won't have to worry, as Paul has secured a number of cans and we will therefore not be pumpkin pie-less on the big day. Whew! However, I'm sure I'll grab another can or two every time I hit the supermarket. Let the pumpkin hoarding begin!

Pumpkin Pizza. They'll pry my pumpkin cans from my cold, dead hands!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Is it hot in here?

Lately I seem to be putting more and more hot sauce on my food, of hotter and hotter varieties. Today I picked up these ghost pepper (one of the hottest peppers in the world) chips from Trader Joe's and found them only mildly hot. Have I burnt out my taste buds? They are really good - like spicier barbecue chips.

Should I be worried when ghost pepper doesn't seem hot to me?



Monday, October 5, 2015

Apple Wearing

The Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en costume shop has been open for business today and churned out this little number, which I'll be sporting in next week's episode, where we go crazy for apples! I make this dress for the show so often that I call it "the VLK pattern." I have about 40!

The VLK Dress: Apple Version

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Apple Picking

This is our 13th autumn in the Hudson Valley and not only had we never been apple picking, we'd never been to Soons Orchard, which is about seven minutes from our house and my new happy place! They have a lovely store, where you can buy many varieties of apples, delicious baked goods and all sorts of other goodies, a tasting room, where for $5 you can taste many ciders, liqueurs and a hot toddy with moonshine, and pumpkin and apple picking galore! Our October 13 episode will be all about apples, so we went and picked our own. It was a delightful morning and we now have enough apples for about five pies, so if you're in the area, do drop in! And we have a fabulous new place to take visitors from out of town. Cider tasting? Let's do it!

Fabulous fall colors

Apple picking

Saturday, October 3, 2015

All in all it's just a...

'Nother hole in the wall.

Also, I feel like I live at Lowe's and Home Depot. Or, as I like to call them, Lowesdepot.


Friday, October 2, 2015

This is getting real

You'd think our powder room renovation project would have started feeling real when I tore out all of the tile paneling and left us with bare, hole-ridden walls. However, the reality really hit today when we spent another $200 on this project, on top of the over $200 we'd already spent so far. No tile yet, but we're all set with paint, primer and stuff to even out and waterproof the walls and floors. We also sprang $35, plus a $16 "mandatory lead test," to see how much it would cost if someone did the tiling for us. If the lead test comes back positive we just wasted $51. Sigh.

We're not messing around.
I also have several sewing projects in my near future for various upcoming episodes, plus there are always cocktails to test. I feel like testing one right now!

More contruction, this time of a slightly less messy nature.
In other news, our powder room redo has led to redoing our entire breakfast nook (up next), which lead to completely rearranging the dining room. Fortunately that project cost $0! The floor is still mostly covered with construction stuff, but here's one shot - we moved the hi fi to another wall, to make room for our FloJet bar, which got moved to make room for the dining room table!



Our Friday happy hour video is online! Click here to watch. It's full of frighteningly fun ideas for Halloween cocktail parties, including the easiest snack mix ever!




Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Vintage Recipes for October

There are new vintage recipes for October on our website! Click here to visit! This month we're exploring The Tailgate Cookbook, a 1970 offering by April Herbert, which is filled with inventive ideas for outdoor entertaining, lovely libations included!