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Design Challenge: The Florida Room

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Posted by Abby Branham

The loss of daylight has me thinking of sunnier places.  When I was younger, I had the opportunity to travel throughout Florida – from the Panhandle, down the West coast, all the way through the Keys and around to the East coast.  For many years, I considered moving there.  On cold, dark days like today – Florida is on my mind. Miami and the West Coast of Florida, home to white sandy beaches and warm Gulf water, hold a special place in my heart.   I highly recommend exploring either area if you are looking to move to a warmer climate.  And if you need a realtor, a good place to start is Douglas Elliman Real Estate.  The good folks at Douglas Elliman Real Estate recently contacted us here at Button Jar to decorate our very own Florida room!  We are, of course, honored, and are happy to share with you our plans for a Florida room that anyone would want to call home no matter where you live.

I have a sun room in my home, which is a Florida room of sorts.  Florida rooms are typically characterized as an additional all weather room with many windows, which creates a space with a lot of natural light and fresh air.  Here are some examples of Florida rooms just so we are on the same page.

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Beautiful, bright and sunny, right?.  A Florida room is a great place to gather, relax, and unwind.  Sounds lovely, and the good news is you don’t need to live near the ocean to create this oasis. Here is my design board for how I would decorate my “Florida room.”

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Seating

Seating is a critical element of pulling together a comfortable and inviting Florida room. I love the modern, comfortable look of the Peggy Mid-Century Terminal Chaise Sectional by West Elm.  The blue gray color is light enough to brighten a room and neutral enough to pair with brighter, bolder accessory colors.

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Because Florida rooms are full of big beautiful windows, I would add some additional seating with window benches.  They are great for extra storage and creating a comfy place to read or just to look out the window and enjoy nature. It is very easy to create customized window benches, and for a DIY tutorial visit my earlier post here. You start with a base, like this IKEA Besta bookcase in a Walnut effect light gray finish.

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And then you add a seat cushion. To brighten up the space, this Maritime Modern Red Knotty Plaid fabric that I found on Etsy would be perfect for the window bench cushion.

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For additional seating and a spot to place your favorite beverage in between sips, I picked this jute and hemp rope pouf ottoman from Overstock.  I love the natural color and it looks pretty great with the knotted pattern in the fabric that I picked for the window bench seats.

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Accessories

In my opinion, you can never have enough pillows or throw blankets.  They are an easy way to change and/or spruce things up without overhauling a room, which is another reason I love neutral colored furniture.

I wanted to choose a sea creature for my Florida room, because what is more nautical than a sea creature?  I am in love with this Navy Octopus Pillow cover and this linen cotton blend pillow cover both from Etsy.  Both will pair nicely on either the couch or window benches.

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Because I anticipate many naps are taken in Florida rooms, I would also add this large curved basket by West Elm, to hold plenty of warm and soft throw blankets for guests to grab.

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Artwork

For a statement piece, I would incorporate this awesome DIY 6 panel Octopus canvas by Heather from Southern State of Mind.  It is so cool and is a fantastic compliment to the octopus throw pillow.

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Natural Elements

And finally, I’m a lover of all things green, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t add an organic pop of green to my Florida room.  This faux broad leaf palm from Pottery Barn is exactly what I was looking for.   It look tropical and helps to bring the outdoors inside.

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So that’s my start on designing a Florida room that I would enjoy.  Other elements that would be terrific to incorporate are some window coverings in case you need privacy and a nice indoor/outdoor rug to help ground your seating arrangement.

I hope that my design inspires you hat you don’t  need to live in Florida to incorporate this type of all-weather space in your own home.

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Baked Garlic Rosemary Parmesan French Fries

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Posted by Abby Branham

My girls are not huge fans of white potatoes.  They love sweet potatoes, but I haven’t been able to win them over to the white potato no matter how I serve them.  Believe me – I’ve tried everything!   Well, this summer they had Parmesan french fries from a restaurant, and they loved them (keyword Parmesan, they LOVE all kinds of cheese).  So I got to thinking, “I can make healthier, baked french fries at home too.”  I found and tried many recipes for baked french fries, so what I have for you today is a conglomeration of recipes that I’ve made into my own.  These baked fries are fancy enough to be served with just about anything or they can be eaten all by themselves!

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 Russett Potatoes
  • ¼ c Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (1 clove used prior to baking fries, reserve the remainder for after baking fries)
  • 1 to 2 springs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • Fresh grated Parmesan

Let’s get cookin….

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub potatoes and cut into thin fries.  To cut the potatoes into thin fries, slice off the very ends of the potatoes so the ends are flat.  Cut the potatoes in half, and then half the halves.  Cut the halves into wedges, and then into long, thin fries.  Place the cut fries in a large bowl, add the olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and one clove of minced garlic – mix and toss to coat the fries.

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Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with nonstick olive oil spray.  Arrange the fries in a single layer on the baking sheet.

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Bake for 25-35 minutes, flipping the fries over at least once while baking.  Be sure to check them as they bake to cook them to your liking.  We like our fries fairly crispy, but not burned.

In the last 10 minutes of cooking your fries, heat about 1 to 2 T of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the remainder of the minced garlic and sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Remove from heat, and set aside.

When the fries are finished, remove them from the oven, add more sea salt to taste, spoon the warm garlic over the top, and sprinkle them with fresh rosemary.  Before serving, grate fresh Parmesan over the fries.

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These fries really don’t need any condiments because they have so much flavor, but to each their own.  We hope you enjoy them!

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In the Midst Of Chaos, Why Not Organize?

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Posted by Katie Gambone

The election was very messy no matter who you voted for so I thought I would post today about cleaning things up.  Because if I’ve learned anything in life it’s that when things feel uncertain, the best thing you can do is to work on the things you can control.  Organizing things makes me feel better.  I’ll admit I made good progress earlier this year on my goal to organize and simplify my house, but I’ve fallen off course.  So, this post is not going to be full of pretty pictures and ideas for how to organize.  It is more of a reality check on where I am with this goal and what I am going to do next to get myself back on track.  I’m guessing that many of you may be experiencing what I am, so hopefully this is helpful.

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A few months ago I posted about my love of the Marie Kondo method. Just as a reminder, with the Marie Kondo method you start with your wardrobe, specifically your shirts. From there you work on your pants, and then the rest of your wardrobe.  Once you master your wardrobe you can then shift to everything else – books, personal papers, “junk drawers,” etc.   The process should takes about 6 months, but the idea is that you will never (NEVER!) need to organize again.  Sounds good.

So how did I do?  Well, on the positive side, I successfully completed the clothing sorting process and am very happy to report that my wardrobe is still in good order.  Everything is organized, folded and in one place so that I am not searching around for clothes each morning.  I actually know exactly what I have and also what I need.  So I consider that step a success and I highly recommend that anyone give it a try.

As far as the rest of my house……I kind of stalled out.  I got busy with other projects and I just haven’t made the progress that I intended to.  I even joined a Facebook group hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, She Holds Dearly, that is for folks who want to motivate each other to complete the Marie Kondo Method over 12 weeks.  Some of the people in the group are making AMAZING progress, but I just haven’t found the time to keep up.  I do continue to follow the group’s posts and celebrate their successes, but I haven’t been a very active contributor.  In my defense, the past few months have been swamped, but if I ever want my goal of an organized and simplified house to become a reality I need to make the time.

img_1117So, I’ve been feeling a little down on myself for not completing the Marie Kondo process yet, but then I read a blog post from another one of my favorite professional organizers and bloggers, Simply Organized titled Why Your Attempts To Get Organized May Not Be Working. Out of her list of seven things that can throw you off of your organization goals (which I’ve conveniently listed below for your reading pleasure but you should read her full post) I would say I am guilty of 5 of them – namely numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7.  Definitely guilty of numbers 2 and 7!

  1. You Haven’t Stopped Buying Stuff
  2. You’re Blindly Buying Containers
  3. You’re Taking On Too Much At Once
  4. Lack of Patience or Interest
  5. You Need Help With Habit Changes
  6. Feelings of Guilt (For Getting Rid Of Things Others Have Given You)
  7. You’re Trying To Mimic Magazine/Pinterest Images/ Organization Blogs

Recognizing my problems has actually energized me that I can conquer them.  So, here is my simplified plan for moving forward.

  • I am going to set small goals that I know are manageable. Instead of saying I am going to organize my entire house, or even my basement, I have decided that before December 1, I pledge to clean out my bathrooms. That’s it.  Once I finish that, I am going to make a new goal for December.  And so on.
  • I am not going to any more container stores and definitely not stepping my foot in the actual Container Store, which is a favorite shopping spot for me. I pledge to you, Button Jar readers, that I am not going to buy any more baskets or organization tools until I finish going through everything I have.  Please understand that this is a really hard one for me because I really, really like buying organization tools.  So, hand slapped. No, no, no.
  • I’m going to keep looking at organization blogs and magazines because they really do inspire me and give me ideas, but I am not going to try and make my house look exactly like them. Because I can’t.  My house doesn’t function the same as many of the houses on Pinterest and in magazines because I live in the city and have limited space.  I need to organize based on my unique situation so I pledge to try and focus on what I have and making it work.
  • I am going to enlist the help of my husband. He keeps saying that we should do this together so I think I am going to hold him to it.  I think it will be good for both of us.

And that’s it.  That’s what I’m focusing on for right now.  I hope to have a positive update for you in the near future.  In the meantime, if you are tackling an organization project, know that the struggle is real and that we are in the same boat.  I’d love to hear what you are doing to overcome your organization obstacles!

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A Christmas tradition – that’s free!

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Posted by Alicia Sell

Christmas, Christmas time is near.  Can you believe it?  I went shopping this weekend and overnight it went from Halloween to Christmas.  While I am a firm believer in not decorating until after Thanksgiving, I am at my core a planner.  So, throughout the month of November, my sisters and I will be sharing helpful tips to prepare for the upcoming Christmas/holiday season, including decorating ideas, gift idea lists, fun activities for kids and more that will help you get ready for the season.

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite activities I did with my kids at Christmas – the 25 Days of Christmas Reading List.  I started this tradition when my kids were really little and I kept it up until my oldest was in middle school.  All of us looked forward to reading together every night, and I made the book a surprise by having it picked out for them.  They loved it!  Over the years we have added in some movies too, but especially for little ones, this is a great way to encourage early reading and have a special bedtime activity that they look forward to.

My reading list includes some of my all-time favorite books, but you can certainly substitute in your own favorites.  Rather than buying all the books, you can go to your library and check them out for free!  I encourage you to check out the books early so you get a copy because they do fly off the library shelves quickly!  Just remember to renew your checkout so you don’t get a late return fee.  I hope you enjoy this list of books and add some of these titles into your holiday activities.

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The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas: An Austin Family Story by Madeleine L’Engle

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol V. Aebersold

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Gingerbread Christmas by Jan Brett

The Twelve Days of Christmas Illustrated by Vladimir Vagin

The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffmann

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The Bells of Christmas by Virginia Hamilton

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Abridged by Vivian French

The Magical Christmas Horse by Mary Higgins Clark

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

The Friendly Beasts : An Old English Christmas Carol Illustrations by Tomie dePaola

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman

The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket

An Otis Christmas by Loren Long

The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert

A Creature Was Stirring: One Boy’s Night Before Christmas Adapted by Carter Goodrich

A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel

The Giving Chest by Dan Farr

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Bear Noel by Olivier Dunrea

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell

Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

Christmas Day—This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar

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Battle of the Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Crusts

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Posted by Katie Gambone

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, we here at Button Jar have started planning our Thanksgiving menu.  Thanksgiving is a REALLY big deal for us at Button Jar because it is one of two times in the year that we are all together!  It is mayhem but it is also a blast!

The Thanksgiving menu also includes some of my most favorite foods.  My mouth is watering thinking about the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce…ah!  I love it!!! The vegetables are usually something we experiment with.  We also try to switch it up with the desserts while staying true to the apple and pumpkin flavors.

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While we haven’t planned our full menu yet, I thought I would use this week’s Recipe of the Week post to share with you one dessert dish I plan on making.  The timing for this just happened to be perfect because I am getting together with wonderful friends and former neighbors for dinner tomorrow night and I am bringing  the dessert. The perfect opportunity to experiment.

I’ve called today’s recipe Battle of The Pumpkin Cheesecake Crusts because I found two pumpkin cheesecake recipes that I have been wanting to try – one with a graham cracker crust and the other with a ginger snap crust.

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In true battle fashion, I decided to make mini pumpkin cheesecakes – half with the graham cracker crust and half with a ginger snap crust.  I used the same pumpkin cheesecake filling for both so that it is a true battle of just the crusts. I will poll my friends and willing taste testers tomorrow evening  to see which we all think is the most delicious.  Whichever crust wins will make it to the Thanksgiving dessert table. DIng, ding, ding!

While I can’t share with you the winner today, I thought I would give you both crust recipes so that you can pick and try whichever sounds better to you.  These proportions are for mini pumpkin cheesecakes and would need to be adjusted if you decide to make a full, 9 inch cheesecake.  Here we go!

Battle of the Pumpkin Cheesecake Crusts

Ingredients

This recipe yields 24 mini pumpkin cheesecakes.  I found these fallish looking mini cupcake holders at Target.

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Graham Cracker Crust (from Glorious Treats)

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1.5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Gingersnap Crust (from what To Eat)

1/2 cup gingersnap crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling (From Glorious Treats)

1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Redi whip (optional, for topping)

Let’s Get Baking!

Preheat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare either crust by combing all ingredients in a bowl and mixing with a fork. Add one spoonful of moist crust crumbs into each mini cheesecake holder.  Use a small flat surface (like the back of an espresso spoon or a shot glass) to press down the crumbs to form a crust.

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Here you can see the crust comparison.  The gingersnap crust is much darker than the graham cracker crust.

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For the filling, beat the cream cheese until smooth. So pretty.

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Add pumpkin, eggs, sour cream, sugar and spices.  Blend until combined.  Add flour and vanilla, and beat until well combined.

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Spoon filling into prepared crusts so that it is even with the top of the muffin cup.

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Bake the mini cheesecakes in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from the  oven and cool for 15 minutes.

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Remove from the pan and place on a plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, but ideally overnight.

Top the cooled cheesecakes with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Looks adorable!  Tastes so good!

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