Sunday, September 22, 2013

DIY "No Tools" Headboard

The first project I took on as a part of my budget friendly guest bedroom makeover was this super easy, no tools required headboard. This can be made for less than $50 and looks absolutely gorgeous! What's really great about this project is that it's very versatile. Using the 3M Command Strips to attach the headboard makes it easily removable and does not damage your walls with screw holes. Also, I started and finished this project in an afternoon - instant gratification!! It really transformed the guest bedroom from a dumpy, plain room, to a room with definite purpose and definition.

I apologize for the poor quality of some of the photos, they were taken with my phone. I did this project one weekend when Aaron was away and had the nice camera with him at camp.


2 1"x12'x8" Pine Boards, cut in half (Home Depot/Lowes will do this for you at no cost) $29
Wood Stain, I used Minwax PolyShades American Chestnut Satin, $13
12 3M Command Strips, $6
Paint Brush
Tape Measure

*technically the last 2 on the list are tools, but I feel like even the most inexperienced do-it-yourselfer has a paint brush and a tape measure. 


At the home improvement store, pick out 2 boards (1x12x8) that are not warped/damaged. They need to sit flush on the wall so even the slightest warping can ruin the project. I chose boards with a lot of knots in them because I wanted them to have some character and not look so uniform. At the cutting center have an employee cut the boards into 6' long pieces. Voila! This is the only cutting required in the whole project... and you just got it done for free! Also, 6' boards will fit into your car way better than 12', I call this a win-win.

Stain the now 4 pieces of wood in the stain of your choice. I used the Minwax PolyShades because it's an all in one stain and polyurethane. Follow the directions on the can, making sure your brush strokes go with the grain of the wood. I did 2 coats of the American Chestnut Satin to get the rich, dark color I was looking for. Allow to dry completely. 

The boards are going to be attached directly to the wall with the 3M Command Strips. Find the spot on your wall that you want the bed to go up against and measure it in order to place the 6' long boards in the correct spot. I just centered the headboard on the wall so it was pretty easy for me. I made the lowest board start just a few inches below the top of the bed. Start with the bottom board, and work your way up. Place 3 of the Command Strips onto each board. I did one directly in the middle (3 ft) and one on each end, (6" into the board). 

Place the opposite side of the command strips onto the wall, following the same measurements. Follow the directions on the box to ensure that the strips stick. Stick the board onto the wall, matching up the Command Strips, apply a lot of pressure, the more "velcro" noise you hear, the better. Once you have your first board up on the wall, it's pretty easy from here - just repeat these steps with all 4 boards. I left about 1/4" in between each board (or about the the width of my pinky, I would place it as a spacer while attaching each piece). Once all 4 boards are placed, you're done! Now wasn't that easy!?!

If you're interested in some of the other decor seen in these photos check out some of my other cool projects from my guest bedroom makeover :

DIY Beer Growler Lamp
DIY Starburst Mirror
Guest Bedroom Furniture Revamp

Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecake Cups

Yay! Happy first day of fall!! It's not feeling quite like fall here in Raleigh, but I couldn't hold off for any longer.... I just had to make something with pumpkin! I've been seeing fun pumpkin recipes all over the place lately and I just couldn't resist. I still haven't indulged in a Pumpkin Spice Latte yet which  takes a lot of self control! I need the weather to be a little more crisp for that. We're still seeing 70-80 degree weather and just doesn't feel right yet.

This is a really simple, fast, and easy dessert! I brought these cute little cupcakes to a friends' birthday party and they were a delicious treat for everyone to indulge in prior to the birthday cake. Prep was super easy and also easy to clean up when using a stand mixer. This recipe is based off of a similar one from another cooking blog - Inside BruCrew Life. I added some spices and used frosting instead of Cool Whip - I'm just not a fan. I think these would taste absolutely amazing with some fresh whipped cream but since we were traveling with them I just didn't trust a whipped cream topping to hold up.


For 24 Cheese cake Cups:
2 packages Cream Cheese, softened (8 oz. each)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tbs Sour Cream
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Canned Pumpkin
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground Clove
24 Oreos, split in half
1 container Frosting (I used Hershey's Cookies & Cream)
Sprinkles or Cookie Crumbs, if desired


1.) Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake liners in a muffin pan.
2.) Beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one. Add the sour cream, vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and beat until creamy.

3.) Place half of an Oreo in the bottom of the cupcake liners and fill the liner 3/4 full with the cheesecake batter. Place another half of an Oreo into the top of the batter.

4.) Bake for 22 minutes. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to finish cooling.

5.) Top with frosting and sprinkles before serving. I piped my frosting through the corner of a sandwich bag to get the swirly look and topped with cookie crumbs that came with the Cookies & Cream frosting.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

DIY Starburst Mirror

The final touch I needed for my guest bedroom makeover turned out to be an easy, affordable, and fun DIY project. This gorgeous mirror took less than 2 hours of hands on time... and it's absolutely stunning!

I was inspired by a sunburst mirror tutorial that I found on pinterest from one of my favorite blogs - A Beautiful Mess. I tweaked some things here and there and wound up with a larger piece that is certainly the focal point of the room.


Gorilla Glue or other heavy duty glue
Hot Glue Gun & Glue
Painters Tape


14" Mirror (Michael's $7.99)
10" Wooden Circle (Found at Michael's in the wood hobby section, near clock making $2.99)
Wooden Shims of Various Sizes: I found 3 lengths
     8" Contractor Shims 2 packs (Lowes $3.14)
     12" Contractor Shims, 1 pack (Lowes $3.87)
     15" Cedar Shims, 1 pack (Home Depot $3.98)
Spray Paint (I used Valspar 2 in 1 Paint + Primer in La Fonda Mirage from Lowes $4.98)
     ^ Umm, yes. It's actually called "La Fonda Mirage," I triple checked. What happened to "Light Blue?"

Only $26.95 spent on this project... that's incredible!


1. Glue your round piece of wood to the back side of the mirror with Gorilla Glue or equivalent. Clamp and let sit for 1-2 hours.

*The piece of wood that I found at Michaels already had a hole in it for hanging, if this is not the case I would suggest attaching a hanging bracket on the back of your wood piece BEFORE glueing to the mirror*

2.) Hot glue your wood shims around the mirror. Place the shims flush against the wooden piece, alternating sizes. You can fill in any holes and vary the lengths by adding more shims to the backs of the already placed pieces. Go all the way around, until complete. I did not use any sort of pattern, but I did usually start with the smallest shim and build from there. 

At this point I was almost considering leaving it in the varied wood tones because I thought it looked pretty good! Unfortunately that would not work in the guest room, plus there were some defects in the shims that probably would have drove me crazy if left unfinished. 

3.) Tape the mirror with painters tape. Spray paint with desired color. Make sure to spray from all angles in order to cover the sides and ends of the shims with paint. Allow paint to dry completely.

4.) Remove painters tape and hang! WOAH, that was easy! 

(Sorry for the selfies but it's hard taking pictures of mirrors without getting yourself in a few shots!)

I absolutely LOVE that when you walk into the room your eye is drawn to the mirror and downward towards the bed. It makes the space seem really cozy and inviting!

If you're interested in some of the other decor seen in these photos check out some of my other cool projects from my guest bedroom makeover :

DIY Beer Growler Lamp
DIY "No Tools" Headboard
Guest Bedroom Furniture Revamp

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Blueberry Lemon tart

I was looking for something to do with an abundance of blueberries that I had leftover from a potluck brunch and had my heart set on a classic lemon tart recipe. What's great about this recipe is it's simple ingredients... but they yield such boisterous and complex flavors!

This is a classic Lemon Blueberry tart recipe that especially hits the spot on those late summer evenings. I'm still dreaming about this delicious tart. If I didn't know how much butter was in it, I'd probably eat it everyday.


For the crust:

1 stick Cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
1/4 cup Sugar
1 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 Egg Yolk
Pinch Salt
2 to 4 tbs Cold Water

For the curd:

3/4 cup Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed (approx. 5 lemons)
Zest of 3 Lemons
1 1/3 cups Sugar
5 Eggs
Pinch salt
1 1/2 Sticks Butter, cut into pats

For the garnish:

1 pint Blueberries
2 tbs Sugar
2 tbs Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed (approx. 1 lemon)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the dough:

Put the butter, sugar, flour, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mixture has a grainy consistency, or what I like to call the "Parmesan cheese" stage. Add half of the water and pulse the food processor 2 to 3 times. The dough should start to come together, add the remaining water if needed. Check the consistency of the dough by clenching a small handful in your fist. If the dough stays together, it is the proper consistency. If not, pulse the dough with a little more water. When the dough has reached the proper consistency, dump it out on a clean work surface. Using the heel of your hand, schmear the dough straight forward and roll it back with your fingertips. Repeat this process 1 to 2 more times, dust with flour if needed. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch in thickness. Lay the dough in the tart pan. Roll over the top edge of the tart pan with the rolling pin to cut the extra dough from the pan and create a crisp edge. Cover the dough with aluminum foil and gently poke the foil into the side edges to fit the pan. This will help to keep the sides of the tart tall and straight as it cooks. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the tart shell from the oven and cool. The dough should be golden and crisp

For the curd:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs and salt and whisk to a homogeneous consistency. Place in saucepan and bring to a medium heat. Cook, whisking, constantly until the mixture has thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, 2 pats at a time until it's incorporated and has a silky consistency.

Pour the lemon curd into the prepared tart shell and bake in the preheated oven until the lemon curd has set, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

To garnish: 

In a small bowl, mix together blueberries, sugar and lemon juice. Pour on top of cooled tart. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Pretzel Cheesecake Bars

Yea. So these bad boys are over the top indulgent, delicious, and absolutely dreamy! Pretzels + Peanut Butter + Cheesecake = Amazing, no matter how it's done. I made these for a labor day cookout and had no worries of bringing home leftovers. Did I mention that there's 40 peanut cups in these bad boys...FORTY!?!?!


Pretzel Crust

3 cups finely ground Pretzels
1/3 cup Sugar
14 tbs Unsalted Butter, melted

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Filling

32 oz Cream Cheese (4 blocks), softened to room temperature
2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 bag (12oz) of Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures, unwrapped

Chocolate Drizzle

2 tbs Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips


Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Line bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray Foil with nonstick cooking spray. 

Pretzel Crust: In a food processor or blender, pulse pretzels into a fine crumb. Stir the pretzel crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together in a medium sized bowl. Press evenly into the lined pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool as you make the filling.

Cheesecake Filling: Beat cream cheese, egg, sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla extract together until a smooth consistency. Fold in the Reese's cups and spread the mixture over crust. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cheesecake has set up and the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares.

Chocolate Drizzle: Melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Transfer to a ziplock sandwich bag, cut off corner of bag and drizzle over squares.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Salmon Sliders with Creamy Avocado Sauce

This is a great alternative to the typical burger. I made these for a lunch with +Aaron's family and they were a big hit! I served them with my Sriacha, Cilantro & Lime Grilled Corn and a grilled peach, goat cheese & hazlenut salad... HOLY YUM! This was a perfect dish to share with a larger group of people. I prepped everything that morning and let it sit in the fridge until we were ready to eat... assembling these bad boys is the fun part!


Creamy Avocado Sauce

1 ripe Avocado, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tbs Milk
1 1/2 tsp Distilled White Vinegar
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Salmon Sliders

1 lb Fresh Salmon Filet, skin removed, and thinly sliced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced

1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1 egg

12 Savory Butter King's Hawaiian Rolls
Additional sliced avocados, for garnish


For the Avocado Sauce

In a medium sized bowl, mash the avocado.
Stir in mayonnaise, sour cream, milk and vinegar until smooth. Add salt and pepper and stir until incorporated. Refrigerate.

For the sliders:

Place sliced salmon and bell peppers into a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles a paste.

Remove mixture and place in a medium bowl. Add Panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and egg and mix until well incorporated. If mixture is not holding together, add additional Panko bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Shape salmon mixture into 12, small patties.

Heat an electric grill to medium-high. Cook patties for 3-4 minutes on each side until completely cooked through.

Remove and place on individual King's Hawaiian Dinner Rolls

Spoon Tangy Avocado Sauce over cooked salmon sliders. Top with a slice of fresh Avocado and the bun. 

In hind sight, we all agreed that while these sliders were absolutely delicious that they needed some 'CRUNCH.' I would definitely add cucumber and maybe some green onion to top these off next time I make them.

For an added kick I put some leftover Sriracha Cream Sauce I had from my Teriyaki Salmon recipe - if you have some extra time on your hands I highly recommend making this sauce as an optional addition for some of the people who enjoy the spicier things in life.