Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oven Door Glass

Have you ever had one of those days when it seems that just about everything you touch breaks?  Well I have!  Christmas day as a matter of fact.  After an awesome morning watching the kids open gifts and play with their new toys...bad karma struck.  I dropped my good camera and broke the lens. And then...

I was baking some 5-minute artisan bread for dinner.  The recipe calls for a water bath.  Evidently I had the racks to close together and when I pulled the rack out to remove the bread from the oven, I dragged the water bath with and spilled it on the hot oven door.  It sizzled a bit and then this happened...

Yep, the glass broke.  It popped and my husband and I just stood there in disbelief.  I still can't believe that this water that was HOT could do that. .

Fortunately, my wonderful husband stopped by an appliance parts store today and was able to pick up a new piece of glass.  We installed it tonight.

We had read online that this can "easily" be a DIY job so we figured we would give it a try.  I don't know that I would describe it as "easy" but it is fixed.  It was definitely an all hands on deck job which is why this is the only "during" picture I have.

We unscrewed the door (as shown in the picture).  Then we needed to unscrew the panel that holds the glass in place.  This was the tricky part as this piece is also held in with the spring that holds the door closed.

It seemed to be a bit of a dance to get the glass, rope seal, insulation and panel lined up and in place while trying to hold the springs open and screw the panel back in place.  Honestly, we really could have used another pair of hands.

Needless to say, it is in and we are back in business.  My son is very excited because he has wanted to make the Shrinky Dinks he got for Christmas for a couple of days now. 

Oh, and I will be cleaning my oven tomorrow too. The pictures reminded me how dirty it is. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 A Year in Review

Wow, what a year. While I am very excited to get 2012 rolling, I want to take an opportunity to look back at the top 10 most popular posts on my blog in 2011. So here you go...

#5:  Split Peas

Come back tomorrow for MY FAVORITE 2011 projects and later in the week I will be sharing my house goals for 2012

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dessert Shooters

Last night we hosted a small Christmas party at our house for one of my husband's business groups.  I made an awesome machaca with fresh tortillas and all the fixings.  Machaca is a spicy shredded beef that is popular at nearly every Mexican restaurant here in Arizona.  It is by far one of my favorite foods!  One of these days I will share my recipe, but today, I am here to talk dessert.

Last summer I was wasting time perusing Pinterest and came across a number of photos of dessert shooters - decadent desserts, served in shot glasses.  These mini dessert delights give you a small taste of a yummy dessert.  Generally, you would serve several different varieties which would give your guests a small taste of several yummy treats.  Think about it, how often are you at a party or event and feel you have to choose between the cheesecake, pie, cake, etc. because there is no way you could eat an entire piece of more than one?

I spotted some nice, clear plastic disposable shot glasses at The Dollar Tree and new immediately that we would be serving dessert shooters sometime soon.  Well, last night was the night.  Since this was going to be a small group, I decided on doing two simple mousse desserts!  Mmmmmmm!

A dessert shooter is really just a method of serving a dessert.  Feasibly, most any dessert can be presented in a small cup.  You can layer pie, shortcake, pudding, fillings, etc. for a fun and unique presentation.  I decided to keep my first attempt somewhat simple with a couple of mousse desserts.  Besides, the dark chocolate mousse recipe has got to be one of my favorites - amazingly delicious and simple.  I partnered it with another classic holiday flavor - a pumpkin cheesecake mousse.

A friend of mine shared this delicious dark chocolate mousse recipe with me last Christmas when I was looking for a light, but decadent dessert to pare with our holiday feast! These small bites were perfect - although, I will admit, I ate several.  Two bites is just not enough!

Dark Chocolate Mousse

5 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 ounces heavy cream
3 large egg whites
1 ounce sugar
sweetened whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
shaved bittersweet chocolate, for garnish (optional)

Place chocolate in a large bowl set over a Bain-marie or in a double boiler at a low simmer.  Stir chocolate until melted.  Turn off the heat and let stand.

Beat the cream until it forms soft peaks.  Set aside.  With a clean mixer, whip egg whites to soft peaks.  Gradually add the sugar and continued whipping until firm.

Remove the chocolate from the Bain-marie and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once.  When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream.  Cover the mousse and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour or until set.**  Serve in goblets topped with more whipped cream and shaved chocolate if desired.

** I skipped this step of letting the mousse set up.  Using a piping bag, I filled my individual shot glasses with the mousse and then refrigerated.  Just prior to serving, I piped on some sweetened whipped cream and shaved a little chocolate on top.

I was serving a variety of chocolate candies and treats so I knew I wanted a non-chocolate dessert to provide some variety.  Since pumpkin pie is a classic holiday dessert I offered a twist using these flavors with a pumpkin cheesecake mousse.  I did a Google search and came across a few different recipes but ended up modifying this no-bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe from Kraft Foods and Philadelphia cream cheese.  Here is my version:

Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
14 ounces heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
Fresh grated nutmeg, for garnish (optional)

Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Gently fold in the whipped cream.  Refrigerate until set, 2-3 hours.  Serve in goblets topped with whipped cream and nutmeg, if desired.**

** Like the chocolate mousse, I skipped this step and placed the mousse in a piping bag to fill my shot glasses and then refrigerated until set.  Just prior to serving, I topped them with whipped cream and grated nutmeg.

*** While this recipe was good, I will try blending the pumpkin, spice and an egg or two over low heat to help develop the pumpkin flavor and offer a richer texture.  The pumpkin tasted "raw", unlike the pumpkin pie flavor I was hoping to achieve.  Let me know if you try this and what you think.

 The dessert shooters where a huge hit and will most definitely be served again.  While I used disposable shot glasses, I did try to salvage as many as I could and washed them up to use again.  I may have to keep my eye open for a bunch of shot or cordial glasses in the future.  I know I have seen a variety of sets of cordial glasses at the thrift store.

If you are looking to serve these at a party, I would plan for your guests to have 3-4 desserts (or one of each kind, depending on how many varieties you are serving) each.  

Also, depending on the glasses you are using, you may need to find some small demitasse spoons so that you can get all of the dessert out of the cup.  My cups were wide enough that I was able to use a teaspoon for my desserts (I used plastic).  If regular spoons would not have worked, I was planning to hit the party store or restaurant supply to find a small sample spoon much like you find at ice cream shops.

This was such a fun dessert for a fun event.  I look forward to trying other dessert shooters in the future.  Truly, the options are endless.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Wow, it is December 1st!  Let the countdown to Christmas begin!  Although, I will admit, I have been counting down for a few weeks already!  I absolutely love the holidays and all that they mean!  Family, friends, giving, sharing and overall Joy!  Oh how I love Christmas!

A couple of years ago Pottery Barn featured a fun advent calendar using a series of ornaments.  Each day you would place an ornament on the tree.  This simple yet fun and beautiful idea has been recreated all over blog land.  While it is nothing new or original, I knew I wanted to do this and this house had the perfect wall!

We have a narrow wall that separates our kitchen from the formal dining/living room.  The picture above gives a bit of perspective.  Behind the wall is my refrigerator and well, you can see my dirty dishes on the counter.  To the left of the wall is our formal dining room which is currently covered with Christmas decor and unfinished craft projects and supplies.

I pulled together a few decorations to use for this project.  My theme this year emphasizes a deep Christmas red along with a clean rustic style.  I love our Christmas tree because it is an eclectic mix of ornaments from our childhood up through today.  I will share more about that next week.  For now, we are talking advent.  In addition to some of the ornaments from our tree, I made a few as well.

I love the cinnamon ornament in spot 2, some beautiful crystal on day 3, an apple ornament on day 5 which has been on my husbands family tree for many years.  I also added a hook to a pine cone and a star fish to add a sense of nature.  Of course on day 8 I used my Santa belt ornament and day 10 is an simple paper ornament I made with some sparkly scrapbook paper.

A couple of other favorites is the sparkly green bow on Day 12, jingle bells on the 13th, a paper star and an old glass pine cone ornament that I spray painted silver and then rolled in Epsom salt for a snowy effect.  I even simply used a candy cane.

I love the overall look on the wall.

Tonight is the night we will take the first ornament and place it on the tree.

I can't wait!  In addition to the ornament count down, we will also plan to do something special each day.  Today we will be going to dinner with my in-laws to celebrate my Father-in-Laws birthday!

We actually started the fun holiday activities last night by watching The Muppet's Letters to Santa on TV.  I have been recording a few other holiday classics for other days as well.  Have I mentioned how much I love the holidays!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's a Lego Christmas!

Our home is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Oh how I love this time of year.  And this Christmas, with an almost 5 year old boy in the house, it would not be complete without a few Lego decorations.  If you have boys, you likely know what I mean.  While we are just beginning the Lego craze I have to say I LOVE these classic blocks.  No batteries, just simple creativity and hours of entertainment.

A few weeks ago we received our Lego Club Jr. Magazine.  If you have kids I highly recommend signing up for this FREE 2-year Lego Club subscription. Kids love getting mail with their name on it and it has some fun, simple projects for the kids.

Sept - Oct 2011 junior

In the back of each issue they share one or two simple, step-by-step projects you and your kids can make using Legos they likely have on hand.  Sometimes we have to improvise with color or sizes but generally speaking we are able to make these projects, or something very close to it.

In this months magazine they had a Santa.  It is so much fun.  My son and I had a great time finding the Legos and putting it all together.  Santa proudly sits on our mantel.

Well, after we made Santa we were excited to make a few other Lego creations to join Santa.  I headed over to the Lego website where they share the directions to A LOT of other Lego projects.  The Lego website rocks because they include the building instructions to all the Lego sets they have sold over the years.  These online instructions come in handy when the originals get torn, lost or otherwise destroyed - trust me on this!  The Lego Club section is awesome too.  In the building section they always have 3 or 4 simple projects, similar to those shared in the magazine.  I love these quick, simple projects.

So, to add to our holiday Lego creations, I simply did a search by keyword on this page.  I searched for "snowman" and "Christmas tree".

For the snowman we used the Extended Line: LEGO Snowman: B1 40003.  We made a few slight modifications based on the Legos we had but I love how it turned out.

Our Lego Christmas tree is VERY loosely based on the Extended Line: LEGO X-Mas Tree: B1 40002.

This is NOT a sponsored post and I am by no means being compensated for this post (although if Lego and or their marketing agency wants contact me we would LOVE to continue to write more gushing posts about the wonders that are LEGO creations).   Call Me!!!  Really!!!!

Shared on:  Somewhat Simple, House of Hepworths, Sugar and Dots, Sweet Peas and Bumblebees, The CSI Project

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm Back & I'm Decking the Halls!

I know, I know, I sort of dropped off of the face of the earth the past several weeks.  I really have no excuses - can't really explain what I have been doing (nothing out of the ordinary) or why I haven't been around.  I think we will just have to call it a pre-Holiday's hiatus that involved a fair amount of apathy!  But, that being said, I am back and can't wait to share what I have been working on over the past several weeks.

On a side note - I came across this picture on Facebook last week and just had to share...

My kids adore the "fun carts" at the grocery store.  And like any sane minded mother who just wants to zip through the store, I loathe them.  They are HUGE, you can't maneuver them through the aisles and they are very difficult to steer.  And don't get me started with how nasty looking they are.  I am not a germaphobe at all and these things gross me out.  Plus, my kids are in general too big to ride in them anymore yet they insist. That being said, I think it would be safer to ride in the fun cart than in the smart car.  I can't imagine what it would feel like to be rear ended in one of those things.

Well, I must go to bed now as there is a sick little girl sleeping on the floor in my room and I am sure I will be up later!

I will be back tomorrow with some Holiday cheer!  I have been busy crafting decor and gifts over the past several weeks and can't wait to share!

Good night all!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

{31 Days to a Functional Kitchen} Day 25: Ikea

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Ikea!  If you have never been to Ikea, it is an amazing place to find everything you can imagine for your home.  They are masters at design and space planning.  I am in awe of their organization solutions.  They have some amazingly simple solutions for the most challenging situations.  And their prices are amazing.

You can now go in to Ikea with your basic floor plan and completely design your ideal kitchen from cabinets, counters, sinks, appliances and even down to the dishes, pots and pans.  They have it all!  I love that.  Their products are not necessarily high end but they are good quality for the price.

While I am not looking to redesign my kitchen, I love the marketplace.  During my most recent trip I bought napkins, chip clips and a new 3 quart stainless steel pot.  They have amazing storage containers - both plastic and glass at amazing prices.  They have great glassware too if you are having a party.  So much fun!

If you are looking for storage ideas, organization solutions or a brand new kitchen - you must check out Ikea.  Just make sure that you give yourself at least a couple of hours to fully take it all in.

P.S.  Don't forget to pick up a bag of frozen meatballs and a a couple of packets of their amazing cream sauce!  Cook up som potatoes or egg noodls and you can have dinner on the table in no time!  Now that is function!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

{31 Days to a Functional Kitchen} Day 24: Coffee Bar

We are on day 24 of my 31 day series and I will say, nothing really functions at my house until I have a cup of coffee!  On Mother's Day my kids gave me a Keurig.  It is awesome.  It is like having my very own coffee bar right in my kitchen.  I still love Starbucks, but I love being able to roll out of bed and have a cup of wonderful coffee in my hands within a couple of minutes.  Better yet, my kids have even learned to use the machine and insist on being our Batista's!!!

This is my coffee bar.  It contains a carousel with our coffee supply, our wonderful coffee maker, filtered water and our cups!  Everything I need for my morning cup of coffee - well besides my flavored creamer which is just inside the refrigerator door!  I am addicted to sugar-free french vanilla creamer although we are really looking forward to the peppermint mocha creamers that come out during the holidays.

I am not big on a strong, bitter coffee.  I like the milder blends and really like a flavored coffee.  Some of our favorites are french vanilla, caramel and there is even a Kahlua flavored coffee that is exceptional.  The beauty of the Keurig is that whatever we are in the mood for, we can have whatever we want since we are making one serving at a time.

Right above our "coffee bar" is our supply cabinet.  This is where we keep our extra k-cups and travel mugs.  I love using the travel mugs because they don't spill and are insulated which keeps my coffee warmer longer.  The green basket (from the Dollar Spot at Target) is where we keep overstock of our K-Cups although I will admit, we have A LOT more stored in the pantry.

If you have a Keurig, you know that the K-cups (the individual portioned coffee grounds) can be somewhat expensive.  Here are a couple of tricks we have learned...
  • Costco - the machine and coffee is significantly cheaper than anywhere else.  The biggest draw back is that the selection is very limited.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond - BBB has a nice selection of coffee choices and when you use a 20% off coupon the price is very competitive.  I love BBB because you can use up to 5 coupons per order and they even accept expired coupons so save them up until you need to restock.
  • Office Max/Office Depot/Staples - the office supply stores are a great place to purchase k-cups.  They also regularly have coupons.  Be sure to sign up for their reward programs watch their ads and emails for great savings.
We love our new private coffee bar!  No longer do we throw out half a pot of coffee nor do we have to suffer because we didn't make enough for a second or third cup!  It is great when our parents are visiting too because we can make them a fresh cup of decaf in no time flat!

Do you have a life saving station set up in your kitchen? 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

{31 Days to a Functional Kitchen} Day 23: Clean as you go

I am posting late today because just a few minutes ago, I was running around the house picking up dirty dishes, throwing out the recycles and trash, putting away toys, clean clothes that has been folded but sitting in the living room for a few days now and washing up some dishes from lunch.


It is refreshing to wake up in the morning or come home after being out of the house for a few hours and find a clean kitchen and home.  Now, I am not by any means saying that my home is clean right now.  What I can say is that I can see the floor, the dishes have been washed and the clothes and toys have been delivered to their respectful "homes".

So what have I learned with this evening cleaning ritual?  Which is sometimes a morning cleaning ritual as I am often too exhausted to make the clean sweep before bed.  The lesson is that you should clean as you go.  When mealtime is over, get the family involved in cleaning up.  Don't leave it until later, because you won't want to do it later any more than you want to at that moment so get it over with.

When you are cooking or baking, run a sink full of sudsy water and wash the dishes and utensils between steps or throughout the process.  This saves you from that mountain of dishes at the end.

I am by no means an expert in this field - if I was, I would not have been cleaning a few minutes ago!  I promise to be better at this this week - and get the kids involved more too!  Are you in?

Friday, October 21, 2011

{31 Days to a Functional Kitchen} Day 21: Freezer cooking

I know I skipped a day yesterday but I was so, so tired the other night, I just couldn't finish my post and get it ready to go.  I will admit, this series is taking a lot out of me but it really truly has been fun looking at what makes my kitchen function for me.  I hope you have enjoyed some of the tips I have shared - 10 more tips to go!

Freezer cooking is a great way to bring efficiency to the kitchen.  Stocking your freezer with pre-prepared meals and prepped meats and vegetables is wonderful.  Recently I have been introduced to a couple of programs that offer bulk purchases of a single ingredient (i.e. tomatoes, peaches, ground beef, chicken, etc.) at an amazing price.  I have really enjoyed the opportunity to stock my freezer and pantry with some great, healthy ingredients.

The key with freezer cooking is prep, prep, prep!  I may spend a few hours prepping 20 lbs of ground beef (like I did here), but it has saved me valuable time at meal-time.  This prep gave me the following:
  • 3 meals of Italian meatballs
  • 30 hamburger patties
  • 5 packages of pre-cooked ground beef base (for chili, tacos, pizza, spaghetti, etc.)
  • 8 one pound portions of ground beef

This week I was able to get 40 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast for just $1.49 a pound.  These were not your typical chicken breasts either - they were beautiful, large butterflied breasts.  With these, I simply spent a couple of hours prepping them for the freezer.  I know 2 hours sounds like a lot of time, however it was 40 lbs - I ended up with 36 individually portioned breasts!  YIKES, that is over 1 pound EACH!!! 

I trimmed a little fat, cut them apart into individual breasts, wrapped them in plastic and laid them out on baking sheets.  I then placed them in the freezer overnight.  After they were frozen solid, I placed them in Ziploc bags and put them back in the freezer.  I can now pull out just what I need for a meal and not worry about having too much.  Once they are thawed, they are ready to use!

What have you stocked your freezer with to make meal time prep easier?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

{31 Days to a Functional Kitchen} Day 19: Stockpiling Basics

For me, having a functional kitchen means having a well stocked pantry, freezer and refrigerator.  Meal planning is much easier when I have the ingredients that I need, when I need them.  This is a real look at my pantry.  Yes, we are a family of four (or 2.5 considering we are 2 adults and 2 young children who don't eat much).  Yet having a good supply of items is crucial for putting meals on the table on a moments notice.

Smart shoppers fill their cupboards by buying low, buying lots and thinking long-term.  This is the art of stockpiling products you regularly consume or use so that you never run out.  Impulse and “need it now” shopping is a budget-conscious shopper’s enemy.  Reactive shoppers buy only what they need, when they need it despite the price – which is usually full retail.  For example if a pasta your family uses is usually $2 a box and between coupons and store sales you can get it for $.50 a box you would stock up on that item.

Here are a few things to consider when beginning to stockpile…

  • SPACE – You need to understand what and how much space you have available for your stock-pile. Extra shelves, a spare closet, garage space, freezer space, etc.  Think about space for food, cleaning products, toilet paper, toiletries and more.  You may want/need to look in to shelving to keep your stockpile organized and accessible.
  • CONSUMPTION – What products does your family go through quickly, use daily, weekly, monthly?  This is important when allocating space for your stockpile.  It doesn’t make sense to buy 12 boxes of cake mix if you only make a cake once a month.  However, if you go through 2+ boxes of cereal a week, you can easily buy 15 boxes for your stockpile.  Generally speaking you want to have a 2-3 month supply in your stockpile.  Be mindful of expiration dates on items so you don’t buy too much.
  • BUDGET – Building your stockpile will take time and is an on-going process.  If you have a set amount of money you can spend per week on shopping, set aside a portion of this to put towards your stock-pile and pick up a few extra of the “great” deals that week.  Over time, this stockpile plan will free up more of your budget because you are not having to buy “cereal” this week because you bought 15 last week when they were $1 a box – this week they are $3 a box.
  • WATCH FOR THE DEALS - Most items are on a 12 week sales cycle with the “best price” for an item or category of items to be offered every 12 weeks.  They may be on sale more often but their lowest price will occur about every 3 months.  The best sales will be around 50% or more off of the regular price.  Coupons are also cyclical and will generally follow these seasonal cycles.

  • Generally speaking, you want to purchase enough of an item to last you about 3 months.  This is the typical sales cycle for most grocery items.  More non-perishable items like toilet paper can be stockpiled longer if you have the space.
  • Shopping may cost a little extra in the beginning until you have built your stockpile.  Once you have filled your pantry and freezer, you may see a significant drop in your weekly shopping bill and will find that you are having to buy fewer things at full price.
  • Be mindful of expiration dates.  You don’t want a year’s supply of something that expires before you can use it all.  Also rotate your items and place the new stuff in the back and pull the older items to the front. 
  • The more coupons you have for an item, the more of that item you can purchase.  This is where picking up multiple copies of the paper can come in handy.  When you stockpile you want to buy multiples of the item, needing multiple coupons.  Trading with friends is another way to get your hands on coupons for the items you want.
  • Don’t stockpile items that are new to your family until you know that the item is something that you will use and enjoy.  The last thing you want is to have 10 of something that your family won’t eat. 
  • Don't get caught up in all of the packaged foods and overlook the basics.  Items like pasta, canned tomatoes, beans, rice, spices, condiments and baking supplies can be used to make a wide variety of meals.  Keep your favorite vegetables (canned or frozen) on hand to quickly add to a meal (if you only like fresh vegetables then this is not an item you would stockpile).
  • Don't forget to plan your menu (at least a little bit).  The last thing you want to do is come home from the store with $100 worth of groceries and nothing to eat for dinner.
  • Think about how your eating habits change seasonally.  If you bake more in the winter, stock up on more of those supplies.
I hope that this information gives you the motivation to stock your pantry and save a few dollars along the way!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

{31 Days to a Functional Kitchen} Day 18: Lighting

Proper lighting in any room is quintessential in providing function, ambiance and style.  It is important to have proper general lighting, task lighting and even ambient lighting to make a space "work" for you.  This is no more important than in the kitchen.  I am so excited to share a major project that we took on last week with regards to lighting in our kitchen.

We live in a tract home community where matching builder grade finishes can be found in most of the homes in the neighborhood.  While I must say, many of the "standard finishes" in our community are quite nice, they are still standard.  There is nothing unique about them.  The outdated, super basic, (dare I say) cheap can lights in our kitchen did not fall into the "nice" category.

We have considered many options for replacing these lights over the past year.  After seriously looking at different lighting options over the past couple of months, we finally went for it.  It all started with a light fixture that my Father-In-Law had purchased for over his pool table, but then changed his mind.  After looking at it, we decided it would be great in our kitchen, with a couple of simple modifications - longer chain (we have vaulted ceilings) and a can of Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint to match the other lighting fixtures in the great room.

We brought it home, held it up in the kitchen and decided it would work great.  The new light had a clean style and would provide great light since it used 3 bulbs and would hang much closer to the work surface.

I will say, I was so excited, that I had the entire thing painted the next day.  I couldn't wait to get it hung up.  I am sure you all can related to the excitement of a new project.

With a little help from my darling husband and our wonderful neighbors' 12' ladder, we hung it up last weekend and it has been so awesome using this light this week in the kitchen.

As you can see in this photo, we still had the can lights in the other two locations.  We had looked at so many different options for these two lights but knew that we needed the hanging light up before we made our final decision.  After looking at several different varieties of track lights and other directional lights, we decided upon a 3-light round base fixture from Home Depot. 
We selected this fixture because it gives us the ability to utilize the existing mount locations, direct the lights to the desired work surfaces and was in the bronze tone that we were looking to match.  Another reason we liked this fixture is that it was all metal without a glass bowl around the lights.  As of right now, the light over our kitchen table and the new bar fixture have different color bowls - the new one is white while the table chandelier is more of an antiqued bowl.  At some point we may get these all to match but for now, they look fine.

We found this awesome fixture at our Habi-Store - New in the box for dirt cheap!
This hangs over the kitchen table in the dining nook.  I love the filigree.
Overall, the lighting project has been amazing.  The kitchen looks great and the new fixtures bring warmth and light to our kitchen. 

I still am considering under cabinet lighting in a couple of areas but for now, the new spot lights bring great task lighting to our work surfaces.