Loving: impromptu tablecloth

When I set out my blue vases I felt like they just didn’t quite go with the table runner I had on the table. But I remembered that in my craft room I had some unused fabrics that might look better, and it turns out this Amy Butler yellow/gray pattern was a surprisingly good match. I just folded the edges in to hide the unfinished parts.

The best baked beans

A few years ago I picked this recipe randomly from the BHG.com Web site because I wanted to make some baked beans that were actually baked in the oven rather the the stovetop variety I was used to eating.

People loved it. Took second helpings. Told me they were the best beans they’d ever had. So I couldn’t have been happier and I’ve been making this recipe ever since. It’s the perfect picnic, barbecue, potluck dish, and the secret ingredient is… an apple.

I would also say it’s important to use Bush’s beans and K.C. Masterpiece barbecue sauce, but that’s just me.

The best baked beans

Adapted from BHG.com

1 28-ounce can vegetarian baked beans (yes, you start with baked beans)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple, not too tart, peeled, cored and diced
teaspoon black pepper

To make it meaty: Add 3 strips of cooked and crumbled bacon after you take the beans out of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Dump your beans into a small glass casserole dish (or double the recipe for a big crowd and go for a 9X13 dish). Mix in the remaining ingredients and bake uncovered for 60-70 minutes until the beans are thickened and bubbly. The apples will cook down and add another dimension of flavor that you can’t necessarily pick out, but you’ll love.

Organizing the garage

The other day I went on another organizing bender, only this time it was in the garage. We actually have a three-car garage, which is pretty much unheard of in our neighborhood of old brick houses. Well, it’s more like 2 1/2. We discovered that the third stall (added later) is more of a work or storage unit. It doesn’t even hold the teeny convertable that our landlord wanted to store in it last year. But it’s a third garage, which is pretty sweet!

So we have a huge space for people that just have two compact cars and a scooter. And there’s actually another sectioned off part of the garage that we were using to store some old furniture that we never got rid of. We could not have been making worse use of the space considering that every time I opened my compact car door I smacked it into an assortment of shovels and rakes, which would inevitably fall over and cause a domino effect.

So I pulled the cars out of the garage and just started moving stuff around. It always amazes me how much difference that makes. Nothing new, nothing hard, just moving stuff around. We decided to trash the old desk since I spilled chalkboard paint on it (oops!) and it wasn’t good quality to begin with, and that freed up a huge amount of space. I moved all the gardening pots, tools, bags of potting soil, fencing, etc. to the empty corner and parked the mower in front. The previous owner had put in shelving on all sides of the garage and peg board, so we had plenty of places to hang tools and keep bottles organized. I can’t believe we didn’t do this before. We’ve lived here almost 2 1/2 years!

The finished gardening corner.

Gotta love this retro light, though it could use a dusting.

Then I rearranged the other shelves, cleaned out the tiny garage, moved the dangerous chemicals to high shelves away from doggie tongues, and swept all the dust and leaves away. The last step was rescuing a few items I found covered in cobwebs and dirt. One was a full-length mirror, which I have been meaning to buy for ages, and the other is this little table.

Isn’t it cute? I think it would make a great plant stand, but it needs a fresh coat of paint. What color do you think it should be?