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Entries in sheila corcoran-abraham (8)


Tales of Transformation: The Kitchen Table Dance, Part Deux

A quick update about my “new” kitchen table. It’s been a little over a month since I found the table of my dreams (close enough) from Goodwill in Batavia. It was love at first sight. I walked in and spotted a gem of a table (and six chairs) straight away. However, there was a family occupying my table. There sat a cheerful mother reading used books to her eager toddlers.

As the kids gobbled up her every word, I slowly circled the table and saw there was still a “Buy Me” tag for $149.00 stuck to the top. I spotted others eying it as well. Without hovering too much, I finally dove in and asked if they were going to buy my dream farmhouse-style table. To my surprise, they were just using it to take a break from shopping. Score!

With some help from a very nice neighbor and his truck, the table was transported to its new home. After a week of stripping, sanding and waxing, and then covering the chairs with some burlap material, the table had a modern rustic feel. The room / house is still a work in progress, but slowly we are making it our own. These days, I find myself actually stepping away from the computer to take a mid-day break - just to sit and refuel for 10 minutes. I love my “new” table!

A chronic East Coast city dweller/designer, Sheila Corcoran-Abraham now resides in a quiet rural setting very west of Chicago. A graphic designer by day, she also writes about creating domestic joy in spite of herself and offers creative problem solving services to design-driven clients at thatgirlstudio.com.


Tales of Transformation: The Kitchen Table Dance

Give or take (more give than take), 365 days have past since my last post for GWYM. I’ve had a year to fully settle in and call St Charles my home. I do miss the pulse of city life and wearing tailored, non-I-Have-A-Toddler clothing but in one year I’ve managed to sort out some serious issues such as hard water, having too many remote controls and getting our lawn somewhat under control.

In this transitional year, I have developed a new list of local favorites:

Yoga: Prana | Geneva

Pizza: Heritage Prairie Farm in the summer | St Charles

Beer Selection: Wild Monk Pub | St Charles

Indian Restaurant: Taste of Himalayas | St Charles (they love kids)

Bookstore: Town House | St Charles

Coffee: Drive-Thru - Dunkin Donuts on Main Street | St Charles (love the staff)

Ice Cream: Kimmer's | St Charles (caramel with sea salt)

Our house is also beginning to take shape and the kitchen is my new favorite room in the house. Over Christmas break, my husband and I painted the kitchen and started taking down the ceiling fans and lights, replacing them with more modern fixtures. There were lots of trips to Lowes, Ikea, Home Depot and Menards. We debated over everything from the interior paint finish to bulb wattage. Compromises and negotiations were made and design-diva-egos bruised (mine).

A self-confessed interior design magazine junkie, I spend way too much time swooning over amazing kitchen designs, where families seem to be having a better mealtime experience than my own. The images show families sitting around a great big wooden table, casually feasting in comfort and style.

Our current table was great for smaller apartment living, but not really fitting in with our new home. It lacks a casualness that I am looking for. I want thick knotty wood and a bench for kids to climb up on. I want a big farm table for everything from Saturday night pancetta to Sunday morning puzzles. After a year of scouring magazines, Pintrest, Houzz and Apartment Therapy for inspiration, I found the one, (close enough) at Goodwill in Batavia (add to my fave list) for $149.99 (including 6 chairs).

A table found at the Goodwill in Batavia for $149.99 - chairs included! Photos by Sheila Corcoran-Abraham.

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Crayons + Cocktails: Cranberry Cordial

Massachusetts native Sheila Corcoran-Abraham, who is now making a life for her family in the far western 'burbs, has launched a stylish design and lifestyle website called Crayons + Cocktails. Here she shares a recipe for a drink that is about as pretty as it gets. She was inspired to make it by a trip back home.

 Visiting the Cape, I was able to find some local cranberries from P.J. Cranberries as well as a simple cocktail recipe from The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association to make a perfect (tasting and looking) holiday cocktail. I admit, I did not have the patience (or space in my refrigerator) to let this sit for a month, so to soften the taste a bit, I added some seltzer water and a sprig of mint.

Photos by Sheila Corcoran-Abraham.

Cranberry Cordial

3 cups fresh cranberries
zest of orange
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups vodka

In saucepan over medium heat, combine first five ingredients. Cook stirring occasionally, until sugar melts and berries pop. Reduce heat to low simmer 10 minutes. Cool. Remove cinnamon stick.

Pour into large jar along with vodka. Store in refrigerator one month, stirring or shaking once or twice a week. Strain through sieve before serving.

A few berries strained from the vodka can be used to garnish pudding or ice cream.

Massachusetts Cranberry Harvest Festival Recipes 1997 | Lorraine Carr


Crayons + Cocktails: New England Buck

Boston native Sheila Corcoran-Abraham, who has been writing about her transformation from a city mouse to a country mouse, has launched a stylish design and lifestyle website called Crayons + Cocktails. Here she shares a recipe for a drink I was very lucky to have her make for me: A New England Buck. I'm not being a brown noser when I say it was one of the most flavorful cocktails I've ever enjoyed!

Leading up to the last few days of packing to leave Boston for Chicago, the thought of crossing the Charles River to get over to Cambridge was out of the question. However there was one restaurant that would have been schlep-worthy. Craigie on Main.

Photo by Sheila Corcoran-Abraham.I had heard such raves about this restaurant, mainly the cocktails. I’ve taken a page out of their bartenders handbook by making a Craigie on Main mocktail fave, a New England Buck. Making the simple syrup infused with juniper berries and sage was easy, it looked like Christmas in a bottle, or maybe a taste home in a glass.

Mixmaster Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli was looking for a way to marry warming winter notes with classic New England flavors and combining sage-juniper syrup with apple cider did just that. The adding of ginger beer is to remind us of the winter months in the tropics, and also give a flavor that in and of itself is hot. Give it a try.

New England Buck

  •    4 oz. apple cider
  •    1 oz. sage and juniper syrup (see below)
  •    1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  •    2 dashes orange bitters
  •    Ginger beer
  •    Ice cubes
  •    Tools: shaker, strainer, barspoon
  •    Glass: highball

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Tales of Transformation: Remote (Out Of) Control

Yesterday my cable guy arrived in great time. My son was still down for the count during his afternoon three-hour nap, and I was just finishing up a freelance assignment. In lighting speed the TV in the kitchen was working again, and soon I was able to catch up on Gordon Ramsey and his Kitchen Nightmares.

Photo illustration by Sheila Corcoran-Abraham.Like ambient noise (or pollution), the chatter of the TV is always on while I am running around getting as many things done in those three hours. During that time, I feel like a game show contestant where in one minute they’ve got to grab a grand as the dollar bills are fluttering in the air before the sound of a baby crying -- I mean buzzer -- goes off. If I am able to absorb a drip of news or pick up the affairs of anything current during that naptime, even better.

The cable guy asked if I had any questions as he was heading out the door. In high school I would have never raised my hand to that sort of question. It seemed more rhetorical, and I prayed no one would take up the teacher's offer. But this time, I really did need to take things into my own hands and understand something. 

My big question? “Why are remote controls so difficult to use, or is it just me?” Seriously, I can’t tell if old age is setting in (yes), or are these remotes too remote for my visual aesthetic and intellect to take in? Why is it, when I turn off the TV at the end of the day, as I turn to walk away, it comes back on again? Why does the sound come on mysteriously at 2 in the morning? Most importantly, why can’t I find anything on TV?

In his polite Midwestern way, the cable guy buzzed around the basics and showed me where I could find the “Help Videos” for some of the questions I might have. It was as if to say, “Lady, it is you, and you’re on your own.” 

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