Mystery Box Riddle #118

Mystery Box Riddle #117

Mystery Box Riddle #116

Front Porch Makeover #2: Antique Vanity Upcycle

I bought this antique vanity several years ago with good intentions, but it was just one of those projects that I never got to. It was super cheap (maybe $15 or something) and I jumped on it. To be honest, I have even reposted in on Kijiji, just wanting to get rid of it, but not many people were chomping at the bit to pick up this puppy…not sure why??? Okay, I get it…it is (was) super ugly!

This spring when Tim and I decided that our backyard needed to be “dressed” up a bit, I decided to see what we could come up with from our own personal stash of goodies/junk (matter of perspective I guess). With Covid restrictions in place, there weren’t many other options available any way. I figured that if I could find some gems in our own collection, I would kill mulitiple birds with one stone, so to speak….purge, save money, save the landfill and pretty up our back yard.

We really didn’t see any value in this unit in the condition it was in, so the first thing we did was remove the drawers from one side and take them outside to add interest to our garden. Tim simply anchored them together in a staggered stack and we used them as planters. We were pleased with how they turned out and it was super easy because I liked the worn look and didn’t even both giving them fresh paint.

Although the remaining vanity pieces could have easily made their way to the dump, I was desperately trying to make our front porch look more inviting and I was in need of a table for just outside our front door. The space wasn’t large and I thought this might be the perfect upcycle project.

Tim kindly cut the vanity apart and I set to work building a new top out of…you guessed it…reclaimed wood from an old table (from staircase make over last summer).

The first thing I had to do was build a little frame around the top because the original piece had curved edges.I then attached the boards to the top of the half vanity.

I’m not sure why I didn’t take a photo of it, but the right side of the cabinet was a little rough with a gap from where we cut it apart. I knew this would be against the house wall and not visible, so we just cut a very thin piece of scrap wood and covered it, bandage style! When everything was repainted, it was really not noticeable at all. I used exterior paint because this would need to withstand the elements out on our front porch.

I placed it in its spot, but it took me some time to decide what to do with the knobs and to pull together a finished look, but here it is all painted!

I finally decided to use a Pinterest idea I had pinned several years ago. I absolutely love the knobs in the tutorial, but unfortunately, the colour wouldn’t work for my project. I purchased old ceramic knobs for a dollar each at an antique store and then coloured them with Sharpie marker and baked them at 350 degrees for half an hour. (I actually like the original cream colour, but my project was quite a bright white and they didn’t look great together.) Here is the tutorial from School of Decorating. I’m still a little disappointed that I couldn’t use the teal colour from the tutorial, but it just wouldn’t work for this project. I did, however, want them to look somewhat like a natural stone (think emerald), so I opted to go for green to tie in with our deck chairs. I love the way they turned out!

Too bad I could not find an angle where I didn’t get reflections in the gold, but you get the idea. The uneven strokes with the Sharpie are what helps to give the finished drawer pulls some depth and interest.

To finish off this little niche I FINALLY used this old shutter that I had antiqued about a zillion years ago. I made it and loved it, but had never found a home for it until now! I simply sat it on the top of the vanity and leaned it against the house. The piece on top is a plastic medallion that I bought at the dollar store. I spray painted it white and then sanded it back a bit to antique it. I picked up the glass vase/jar at a thrift store for $2 and those pretty flowers are from the dollar store too! I do love how this little “vignette” is coming together, but I must say it also brings this old Sesame Song to mind….

I don’t know, but to me it looks like something in that picture just doesn’t belong….can you guess what it is?

If you guessed the mailbox…you’re right! It is on my hit list for this summer as well! Stay tuned!

Now before I sign off, I am mustering up the courage to get real and show you the before and afters. The vanity transformation is pretty cool, but hold on to your hat if you want to see how bad my porch looked before this tiny make over. Here goes….

Stay tuned for many more DIY, upcycling and make over projects….this summer has been so busy! We have worked on so many different things…so fun to transform a space!

Mystery Box Riddle #115

Mystery Box Riddle #114

Sensational Salads #7: Undeniably Delicious Caesar Salad

Oil & Vinegar Style vs Creamy Caesar Dressing

Caesar salad is pretty much a staple in our menu. Everyone loves it and it is so simple to pick-up a Costco rotisserie chicken and make it a meal! (Those chickens are so awesome when you are battling the summer heat and trying to avoid cooking!!)

Of course, when you think of caesar salad, there are two basic versions: one that has an oil/vinegar type of dressing and the other more of a creamy style….think THE KEG (so yummy!) We enjoy both, but I thought that in addition to sharing my two “go to” caesar salad dressing recipes, I might add in the caloric value for both.

Caesar Salad ~ The Body of the Salad

When making caesar salad, I tend to stick to pretty standard ingredients, but I will add a few of the options we enjoy adding. My son is not a lover of mushrooms and neither of our kids like croutons, so you basically need to include what works for your family. Our work around is serving the croutons and mushrooms in side dishes that can be added at the table, so that everyone can enjoy the salad. I have not included the measurements because it really depends on how many you are feeding. Again, I always make my salads “greens” heavy.

Standard Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce, washed, spun and torn into small pieces
  • very thinly sliced red onion
  • very thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
  • finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • croutons of your choice

Great Additions/Substitutions to Consider:

  • sliced avocado
  • sliced red pepper or roasted red pepper
  • chopped artichoke hearts (from a jar or can)
  • rotisserie chicken (or other meat of your choice)

Best Caesar Salad Dressing:

My friend Kirsten graciously shared this recipe with me a few years ago and not only is it easy to whip up, but also very tasty. This particular recipe has an oil and vinegar base, but the garlic and anchovy paste give that authentic caesar flavour.

This dressing recipe makes a generous amount for one large salad. I tend to lightly dress my salads, so will often have some left over for another small salad. (It makes approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of dressing). The calorie count for this dressing is 921 calories (+78 if you add the egg) and there would be approximately 216 grams of fat in a full recipe. Of course, this does not include the other items that are in the body of the salad. To determine the calories in an individual serving, you would need to factor the portion of dressing used, as well as the other ingredients in the body of the salad. Finally, divide the total calorie count by the number of servings your salad provides. I’m not exactly sure how many starter size salads it might make, but I’m thinking about 8. That would mean approximately 115 calories per serving and about 27 grams of fat, but again I’m really just guessing.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • anchovy paste* to taste (This is really about personal preference, but I am going to guess you’ll want between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon. Start with about 1/4 of a teaspoon and then make a note on the recipe for next time you make it, if you think you’d like more. Nothing worse than an overpowering fishy taste!)
  • 1 raw egg, whisked (I have never added this)
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves (or more!!)
  • 2 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of grainy mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Place all of the ingredients in a jar and shake to mix. Pour half of the dressing over the prepared salad and toss. Decide if it needs more and then either add more and toss again or place the extra dressing on the table for individuals to help them self, if they so desire.

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing:

I’ve tried a few of Jenn Segal’s recipes and she is yet to disappoint. I love her Creamy Caesar Dressing recipe, but there are many other great ones at Once Upon a Chef. In fact, this dressing is so yummy that we will often use it as dip or add it to egg salad sandwiches.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of Mayonnaise (Hellmann’s Real)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Instructions:

Place first 5 ingredients in a jar and shake (or whisk). Add balance of ingredients and shake or whisk until well combined. Pour half of the dressing over the prepared salad and toss. Decide if it needs more and then either add more and toss again or place the extra dressing on the table for individuals to help them self, if they so desire.

Although this recipe calculates at a whopping 1840 calories (depending on brands used), it does make a generous 1 1/3 cups of dressing! Jennifer states that it makes enough for 10 starter salads. According to her calculations, one serving of dressing would be 184 calories and 19 grams of fat. We use half or less for a large family sized salad that is being served as our main course. The leftover dressing will keep for about a week in a sealed jar in the fridge. So, although the calories are crazy, when you really break it down it isn’t too nasty! Some might argue that olive oil in the first recipe is a much healthier fat. I’m not a calorie crazy person, but have been more in tune with my caloric intake over the past few months and decided to make the comparison out of curiosity. I always assumed the oil and vinegar dressing was healthier, but was surprised by the actual calorie and fat value comparison. Really, it’s all just food for thought…

I’m not really sure if there is a moral to this story or not. I guess for me it really comes down to personal preference when considering which dressing to use. I say if you love one style over the other, just go for it!

*Most stores carry anchovy paste, but it can sometimes be tricky to find. I’ve found it in both the dairy and meat sections!?# You might have to ask. (The one I buy comes in a small box with a tube inside ~ think toothpaste box/tube.)

I hope you enjoy both of these recipes as much as we do! Enjoy!

Mystery Box Riddle #113

Mystery Box Riddle #112

Mystery Box Riddle #111