Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pulling Together the Screened Porch

I love screened porches, so I was a happy girl when I found out our new house came with one. It's a little on the small side, but that's okay. It also features old indoor-outdoor carpet, ho-hum stencils, a boring ceiling fan, and a funky smell. That's not okay.

Here's the stencil that adorns the wall all around the porch.

Be that as it may, the kitchen is our main focus right now. So I had to do what I could with the porch right now. I want to enjoy it on these lovely spring days we're having in the south!

Here it is as of right this minute.

I used the indoor/outdoor rug in the kitchen at our last house. I bought it from Ballard's several years ago. And the trunk is an old flea market find, which I used as an end table in the family room at our last house. It doesn't fit nicely in this family room, so I slid it out onto the porch.

See the lamp? I bought it at an antique and decor store nearby. The base was black, so I painted it real quick with ASCP Old White. I like the natural shade as it is. Maybe one day I'll jazz it up, but it's fine for now.

I bought the lantern and the church birdhouse at the same store where I bought the lamp. I love the lantern in all its chippy rustiness! And when I reveal more of my house as it evolves, you'll note my fondness for all things bird.

For a touch of spring, I took some daisies out of my birthday bouquet and put them in this darling hobnail creamer. The matching sugar bowl is in my dining room china cabinet.

Daisies just sing "spring," don't they?

Here's one last look, complete with my glass of iced tea waiting for me. I'll just grab my latest book, The Killings at Badger's Drift (love a good Brit mystery!), and head on out to enjoy this beautiful spring weather we're having!

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Linking up with:
What We Accomplished at Green Willow Pond
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Be Inspired at Common Ground
Inspiration Gallery at The Golden Sycamore

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

She Is Too Fond of Books: Some Books I've Read Lately

It's been far too long since I've reviewed any books, which is particularly shameful to an avowed bluestocking. But don't take that to mean I haven't been reading -- I most certainly have. So I thought I'd post a list of books I've read recently, along with recommendations (or not, as the case may be). Enjoy!

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. This is a dark story, but it's extremely well written. In some places the prose is almost lyrical, which is a satisfying contrast to some of the gritty subject matter. I had no intentions of reading this book; I couldn't make it past chapter one of another of hers: The Secret History. But a friend from bookclub told me she thought I'd love it. And she was right. Another thing that made this book special: I've had the privilege of viewing the painting The Goldfinch in person and before the book burst onto the scene. I didn't have to fight my way to get an up-close look. In face, loads of people breezed right by it! Caveat: language, situations, drug use. My rating: A+

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. I read this book in Maine over this past summer, which was particularly apropos, since it's set there. But that wasn't my first inclination to buy it. When the girls were small, we read a wonderful picture book by Eve Bunting (love her!) called Train to Somewhere about the orphan train program of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. So I was drawn to the subject matter. This is a fantastic book. Caveat: language, situations. My rating: A

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. I have to admit, it took me two tries to get into this book, but once I made the effort, I was hooked. An unusual story, well told. Caveat: language, situations. My rating: A

The Last Runaway, by Tracy Chevalier. This was pretty good, but nothing to compare, in my opinion, to Girl with a Pearl Earring or The Lady and the Unicorn. I enjoyed learning about the differences between English Quakers and American Quakers of that era, including their quilting styles. But the narrative had some glitches in it (again, my opinion) and weak spots, which I found irritating. Check out her two other books I mention if you haven't read them yet. They are better than this one. Caveat: language, situations. My rating: B-

 Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. Confession time! I hold a master's degree in English and I'd never read any Dickens (save for A Christmas Carol) until last year when the girls and I read Oliver Twist. Tiny Girl and I loved it; Miss Priss did not. Well, that experience whetted my appetite. I downloaded the free Kindle version of Bleak House and off I went. Friends, this novel is wonderful! If you think it's time for you to pick up a classic, make it this one. Caveat: situations. My rating: A+

Bellman and Black, by Diane Setterfield. If you've read the author's fabulous novel, The Thirteenth Tale, then you'll understand why I unflinchingly handed the cashier a lot of money to buy this one in hardback when I saw it in a small bookstore. Oh, to have that money back! When this story opens up, there are enough tantalizing hints that this is going to be yet another somewhat Gothic, atmospheric, deeply satisfying tale. But it never delivers on its promise. The narrative goes on and on (and on) about a businessman and his family, but nothing much actually happens to drive the story. Halfway through, I flipped to the end (yes, I do that!) to see if finishing the book would be worth my time. Alas, no. So I set it aside for something better. Now, I'm not a reader who thinks authors should write variations on a theme in all their books. In fact, I hate that. But this seemed to be written by another person entirely. Highly disappointing. My rating: In all fairness, I can't rate this book since I didn't finish it. But that should tell you all you need to know.

That's all for now. I have other books sitting beside me to review, and I'll get to them soon. Authors include Tatiana de Rosnay, Amanda Eyre Ward, and Kate Morton.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Dining Room Chandelier Reveal!

After weeks of waiting and miraculously not nagging on my part, Himself graciously hung the new dining room chandelier this two weekends ago. Hooray! The contemporary monstrosity is gone!

Here she is. The rest of the room is not ready to reveal, so you only get a peek.

You may wonder where I got my inspiration. And if you knew me in person, you'd definitely ask. I have no innate sense of style. And I would answer: Debra at Common Ground, a blog I follow. I saw her dining room chandelier in her Christmas home tour and was knocked out by how fabulous it is. So I sent her an email, to which she kindly replied. She gave me the name of the store where they bought the chandy 11 years ago. I perused the store's website, got the names of some of the manufacturers they carry, and quickly realized that Quorum International looked promising. I popped over to the Quorum website, and in a matter of moments -- I kid you not -- I found MY chandelier.

It's 6037-6-70 in Persian White. Just look at that detail!

Himself, who is not in on the chippy, painty, lived-in look (which I adore), was skeptical. "Is it supposed to look like this?" he asked. Like what? "All dinged up like this," said he. Yes, it is. I love it. He merely grunted.

But because of his great love for me, he hung it up wonderfully and kept his thoughts mostly to himself.

Not a fantastic photo, I know. I'm still learning the ins and outs of my new camera. I've already gotten numerous compliments. And she looks gorgeous from the street after dark.

Another project completed in the new house!

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Linking up with:
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
What We Accomplished at Green Willow Pond
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll thru Life
Be Inspired at Common Ground
Inspiration Gallery at The Golden Sycamore
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Confessions of a Mediocre Cook: Cream Drop Scones

Every once in a while, I get a hankering for scones. I just love them. But making them is a bit of a chore, with the whole "cutting in the butter" part. I know it's not difficult, but it is time consuming, whether you use two forks, a pastry blender, or your fingers. And if you use a food processor, you have more dishes to wash. Then there's patting out the dough, cutting out the dough. . . . Yes, I realize these are total first-world problems. But they're also what's stopped me from trying my hand at making my own scones.

Until now. Enter Cream Drop Scones.

I found this quick and easy recipe in Pinterest, and it's pinned to my Tasty Eats and Sips board. (Do you follow me on Pinterest? I certainly hope so!) The original recipe came from's Food pages. I made some last night and they are scrumptious! Tiny Girl and I ate them warm from the oven with strawberry preserves. I was fresh out of Devon cream (by a mere five or six years).

Cream Drop Scones are everything a scone should be: rich, velvety, slightly sweet, and light, with a slightly crunchy exterior. But there's no butter involved. Nor patting. Nor cutting.

You can throw these together for breakfast, elevenses, or teatime. I mixed them up in less than three minutes. They were ready to pop into the oven in less than five minutes. Dessert!

So you could think of these as rogue scones with a touch of the unorthodox about them. The reward without all of the work.

A dream come true.

Here's the recipe, just in case you're not a pinner:

Cream Drop Scones
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • coarse sugar, for sprinkling (I used Sugar in the Raw)

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Add the cream and stir just until the dough comes together. Don't over mix or your scones will be tough. Drop by the large spoonful (or use a melon scoop) onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. I used a melon scoop, and this recipe made 15 scones. I also ate about one scone's worth of dough, so maybe 16 would be a truer count.
So good with a cup of tea!

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I'm linking up with:
Wow Us Wednesdays @ Savvy Southern Style
The Inspiration Board: Creative Party @ homework