Monday, December 22, 2014

Cute Reindeer Antlers Headband

My elder daughter needed a quick antler headband to wear to school, so we whipped this up with some things we had around the house. Her little antlers turned out super cute!

First, I looked for an easy-to-use template. I found this one at Sisters Suitcase. Perfect!

I printed out the template, cut out the antler parts only, and then traced them onto brown foam I got from Michaels. You could also use brown construction paper or cardstock. They were very easy to cut out, even for craft-challenged folks like me.

I cut out a strip of brown felt and hot glued it to a headband we had laying around. Then I hot glued the foam antlers onto the top of the headband.

The whole project took about 10 minutes, tops. That's my kind of Christmas craft!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

New Curtains for the Family Room

 I love checks and I love the color red. So red checks really make my heart go pitter pat. I wanted red-checked curtains for our family room, the coziest room in the house. But I was (and still am) on a tight decorating budget. So instead of buying curtains, I bought red-checked tablecloths from eBay.

One problem: when they arrived, they weren't exactly the same. One tablecloth's fabric is a bit thicker and a tad nubbier than the other. Thankfully, this is not noticeable since they're not hung right next to one another.

Two inexpensive black rods from Lowe's, a pack of drapery clip rings, and we were in business. Himself installed the rods for me because he's fabulous like that.

I'm really pleased with the way they look. The room seems more finished.

We're considering painting the judges paneling in this room, but we can't quite make up our minds. Once it's painted, that's all she wrote. And I kinda like the coziness aspect. If the room got more direct sunlight, it would be brighter. But the screen porch is right through the French doors, and only oblique sunlight filters in anyway since the front of the house faces southeast.

But on a winter's evening with a fire in the fireplace. . . it's the best. I love to read in this chair. (Notice the red checks!) Or I curl up in a corner of the couch under a throw. You can't get much better than that.

I hope you like my curtains as much as I do!

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Linking up with:
Make It Pretty Monday
Inspire Me Monday
Inspire Me Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesdays

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Confessions of a Mediocre Cook: Easy Crock Pot Brunswick Stew

We celebrate a BIG Thanksgiving Day at my parents' house with a host of my extended family. At least 60-70 people gather together, and it's my favorite day of the year.

That means we spend Wednesday getting ready! (No, we don't cook all the food. It's potluck -- the best kind of buffet!) So we need something easy for Wednesday night supper. This is when Easy Crock Pot Brunswick Stew shines the brightest.

It also makes a nice dish for Christmas Eve or any other holiday evening when you might be busy, a soup buffet, or a weeknight meal. To make it extra breezy on yourself, put all the ingredients in a gallon-size freezer bag, squeeze out the air and freeze flat. It'll be ready to toss in the crock pot any time you want to do without dinnertime drama. (In the morning, put the frozen bag in a sink filled with cold water to loosen the contents enough to dump into your slow cooker.)

I doubled the recipe, hence the two bags.

This is not gourmet fare, but it's simple, hearty, and delicious. It's a perfect time saver, too. That's really a lot for one meal to deliver, but this stew gets the job done.

Easy Crock Pot Brunswick Stew

2 cans creamed corn
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 small can lima beans
2 large cans white chicken
1 can Castleberry's BBQ pork
1 can Castleberry's BBQ beef
1 T onion powder (or a small chopped onion)

Mix all ingredients together and cook all day on low. Serve with saltines and hot sauce on the side for those who like a little spice in their lives.

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Linking up with:
Make It Pretty Monday
Inspire Me Monday
Inspire Me Tuesday

Monday, November 24, 2014

Quotation Tent Cards for Your Thanksgiving Table

Yesterday, it rained all day (I actually like those days if I don't have to go anywhere), so I spent some time making tent cards with Thanksgiving quotations to adorn the Thanksgiving tables at my parents' house.

I found this wonderful and FREE printable from Finding Home, and I printed out two copies on nice, thick resume paper I had laying around. (I also pinned the link to my Pinterest board Ain't She Crafty? for later reference.) I cut them apart using my little handy cutter from my scrapbooking days.

I dug through my stash and found some Avery note cards. Did I mention my scrapbooking days? I also have a fairly large paper supply. I sorted through that and selected pretty papers that measured 5 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches. I cut those in half.

I glued the pretty paper onto the front of the note cards and then I glued on the quotations. Voila!

Now I have pretty tent cards for our tables.

I had only Tacky Glue on hand; if I were to reconstruct this project, I'd use a different adhesive. The Tacky Glue is a little too lumpy. But since these are for my personal use and also since I'm an "eh-that's-good-enough" type of gal when it comes to crafts, I'm okay with it.

How are you planning to set your Thanksgiving table?

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Autumn's Glory

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 
L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

This fall has been an especially beautiful one. October and the first half of November were simply blazing with color. With the sun shining through the leaves on a bright blue day, the colors were like stained glass windows in direct light.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ― Lauren DeStefanoWither

As we move into the second half of November, rain, wind, and chill have moved in also. Many of the trees are bare now. But I have photos to remind me of what they looked like a short time ago.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
― Albert Camus

I especially love two or more trees grouped together with colors ablaze. A yard in my neighborhood boasts a dark red tree nestled up to a larger tree with golden yellow leaves. I missed getting a photo; the recent winds stripped them.

"Autumn's the mellow time."
― William Allingham

And the luscious colors of it all: gold, tangerine, sunshine yellow, maroon, tan, crimson, lipstick red, dark orange. The way they looks against the cerulean sky.

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"
― Percy Bysshe Shelley

I breathe in the spicy scent of the falling leaves that fills the air. It's a dark, rich odor, like the season itself.

Have you enjoyed your autumn this year?

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Perfect Rolls for Your Thanksgiving Feast!

Y'all have got to taste these rolls! They are spectacular. I pinned them several weeks ago and then had a chance to make them last week. The recipe makes 12 rolls, and we had six left over -- Himself is in a bread-eschewing phase (just envision my eye-roll) -- which I popped in the freezer. That evening, my elder daughter, Amelia, availed herself of the stash and ate. Every. Single. The rest of us were shocked and dismayed. She was unrepentant. "They were good." And I suppose that's a good defense where these rolls are concerned.

Aren't they pretty?
 They are THAT good.

I made them again this week and took a few photos to share. The recipe comes from Taste of Home, and it is super quick and easy: no kneading, short rise time, short bake time. With my Red Steel Beauty on the job, they come together really quickly, too. So they are superb for weeknight meals.

Butter makes everything better.
But don't let that fool you. They are equally at home on your Thanksgiving buffet -- or any other special meal. Here's a link to the recipe on my Tasty Eats and Sips board. While you're there, check out my other recipes!

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Linking up with:
A Stroll thru Life
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style
Green Willow Pond
DIY By Design
From My Front Porch to Yours
The Charm of Home

Monday, November 17, 2014

Autumn Wreaths for the Entry

I am totally craft-challenged, so when something I attempt turns out nicely, I'm really stoked. On Saturday evening, I made these wreaths. I have a double front door, so any decoration has to be doubled.

If I can do it, you can do it. And I say that with utter confidence.

Here's what I did. First, I searched Pinterest to look at some wreaths other (talented, skilled) people have made. Isn't that clever?

Then I searched for a nice template of the letter B. I downloaded it, opened it in Word, and reisized it to a size I thought would look right. Then I printed it off. I traced it onto a closed manila file folder and cut it out. Since the folder was closed (doubled over), this gave me two B's.

I looked through my stash of scrapbooking paper and selected one I liked. I traced the file folder B's onto this paper (stiffer paper makes for easier tracing) and cut them out. Then I glued the pretty B's onto the file-folder B's using Tacky Glue.

I already had the grapevine wreaths, which I used last Christmas. I stripped them of the old silk poinsettias and greenery so I could re-use them. A few weeks ago, I purchased some silk flowers from Michaels to use in autumn arrangements (they were 60% off!), and I decided to use those to make my harvest-themed wreaths. I snipped the stems to manageable lengths and then poked them into the grapevine branches. A few needed a drop of hot glue to stay in place.

After the flowers and leaves were in place, I hot glued the B's, making sure they were level and even with each other.

I bought the ribbon at Michaels, too. All their Christmas ribbon was on sale. This wired ribbon is copper and gold -- more autumn than Christmas -- so it works perfectly. I cut two even lengths, lopped them onto the wreaths, and then hot-glued them to close. I'm no good at bows.

Ta da!

The B looks a tad wonky in this one, but they both look fine in real life.

I have wreaths pinned to both my Holidays board and my Gorgeous Home board. Pop on over for some wreath inspiration of your own!

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Linking up with:
A Stroll thru Life
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style
Green Willow Pond
DIY By Design
From My Front Porch To Yours
The Charm of Home

Monday, October 20, 2014

Make-Ahead, Freezer, and Crock Pot Meals

Like most moms I know, I'm always looking to save time, money, and panic when it comes to supper. It's so daily, you know, and everyone expects to be fed. <sigh> I created a new Pinterest board, Freezer and Crock Pot Meals, to help me out. You might find help there, too.

Source: Add a Pinch

Some meals are ones you make ahead and then freeze. Some are simply slow cooker meals. Others are those so-called "dump" meals: dump all (or most) ingredients into a freezer bag; freeze until needed; then dump frozen contents into your slow cooker in the morning and cook all day. I must admit -- those are my favorites for saving time.

It does take a bit of planning to make these happen. But the investment you make at the outset saves gobs of money and time -- not to mention last-minute panic over what to have for dinner -- that it is worth it to protect your sanity.

Do you have any favorite time-saving meals? If so, I'd love to hear about them!

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Linking up with:
Between Naps on the Porch's Metamorphosis Monday
Motivational Monday
A Stroll Thru Life's Inspire Me Tuesday
Savvy Southern Style

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Finally: Kitchen Lighting Decision!

I say "finally" because Himself and I agreed on it. He has his tastes and I have mine, which often coincide. But in the case of lighting for the kitchen, they most decidedly have not. But hallelujah, we've come to a meeting of the minds. Here's what we've chosen:

The above pendants will go over the cooktop peninsula.

This sconce will go over the sink.

Aren't they pretty? This particular design is called the Kellie II. I love the seeded glass and the Edison bulbs. We both love that these lights are handmade by a company in Maine, The Lamp Goods. And the price is reasonable. I enjoy supporting small business craftspeople whenever I can.

I'm ordering these today. Look for pictures soon after we get them installed!

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I'm linking up with:
Metamorphosis Monday
A Stroll Thru Life's Inspire Me Tuesday
Savvy Southern Style

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Life in Review this Year

Over the last year, my life has taken quite a turn. We moved. The girls started private school after six years of homeschooling. I went back to work. I'm hear to tell you, that's a lot for a girl like me, who enjoyed her life as it was. It's required a lot of dark chocolate to get me through.

If you've been reading my blog, then you know our new house, lovely as it is, demanded a complete overhaul. It was built in the early 80s, and NOTHING had been updated or changed. There were (okay, still are) gouged, nail holes, and pushpin holes in the walls. All trim was dark stained, as was the carpeting! We immediately had new carpet and hardwoods installed. Then we later had the popcorn ceilings scraped on the main floor. I painted the kitchen cabinets. We painted the kitchen, dining room, foyer, and living room. There's still a lot we could do, but with college only a mere four years away, we're starting to prioritize.

The change from homeschooling to private school last year was a big one for us. The girls enjoy the school, which is a university model school. They attend classes on Tuesdays and Fridays, and then they complete assignments at home the other days. I'm pleased with the course of study. Our elder daughter, Amelia, who began high school this year, also goes on Thursday mornings for student council meetings and yearbook. Last school year was a big transition for all of us; this year has been much smoother so far. I miss homeschooling, though. I enjoyed the lifestyle; and, as a lifelong learner, I enjoyed the study we did together. To be honest, I also miss being the top boss. I'm no longer in complete charge.

I went back to work, too. For the last several years, I've been dabbling in writing. I'd had an article published in The Old Schoolhouse magazine and another in Impart online magazine. I'd had two storied published in an online children's magazine (now sadly defunct) called Fandangle. I wrote reviews for that fantastic homeschooling website The Curriculum Choice. I took on a few freelance editing projects. And I worked here and there on my own manuscripts. Oh, and I blogged.

Then some friends from church approached me about working with their company as a writer. When I was duly employed (pre-family), I worked in the newsletter industry and also in corporate communications, so this was right up my alley. I took on a couple of clients, which has now grown to several clients for whom I produce monthly email newsletter articles, website content, email blasts, and the like. I've also continued freelance editing. I now spend several hours a day on my various projects. And laundry, grocery shopping, schlepping kids to and fro, cooking, washing up, sweeping, scrubbing toilets, etc. You know.

So my life is different now than it was for several years. It's taken some getting used to. At first, I wasn't sure I approved. But I've settled into the new normal.

I plan to better schedule my blogging time. When I blog, I'm practicing my writing, I'm chronicling our lives together, and I'm reaching out to a sphere I don't necessarily inhabit physically. I think that's neat. I have also found that when I don't blog regularly, I miss it. I compose posts in my head that never see the light of day. then I feel unproductive and lackluster, no matter how many loads of laundry I've washed or how I've planned out our meals.

I guess I'm weird that way.

More later, on books I've read, things I've been pinning, and other stuff!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When It Comes to Decor, I'm No Switzerland

As you may (or may not) know, we've been in the throes of redecorating our new house since we moved in a year ago. (To see posts on this, click the New House label on the right.) To that end, I've been perusing magazines, blogs, and Pinterest, as well as pinning like mad to my Gorgeous Home board --

(Aside: You've never seen my Gorgeous Home board on Pinterest? Well, get thee over there! I've got 1,375 pins and counting, people!)

-- and I've discovered one thing: I have definite preferences.
  • I do not care for neutrals, neutrals, everywhere. That look is too sterile for me. I prefer color.
  • The industrial look. Yuck. And I'm sorry, but to my way of thinking, "industrial farmhouse" is a totally made-up thing.
  • Gray, grey, and greige? Maybe in small doses. But everywhere? No, thank you.
  • "Carefully edited"? Again, no, thank you. I like lots of interesting and beautiful things. More is better. Always. (Unless it's clutter. Which tends to happen around here. But that's another matter entirely.)
  • Modern is not moi.
  • If it's trendy, I'm suspicious. Like the antler craze of late. (Another aside: I grew up gazing at taxidermied deer heads on the walls of my grandparents' house. I'd rather not see animal parts on my own walls.)
  • I don't need a big sign in the kitchen imploring me to EAT. I do enough of that already.
So here's the thing: I can pin all I want and tear out magazine pages and all that, but I still have problems making it happen in my own home. Part of that is my pocketbook. I can't run out and buy what I want. Perhaps that's good because I'm forced to take my time and think about things. But it's also frustrating. I'm still working in the kitchen with ONE overhead light because Himself and I can't agree on lighting.

I mean, come ON.

Any advice would be appreciated. In other words, HELP!

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Link Parties:
A Stroll Thru Life

Friday, September 12, 2014

Peaches in September

Ever since I fell in love with Mary Chapin Carpenter's song, "I Am a Town," the month of September means peaches to me. Have you heard this song? Take a couple of minutes to click below, close your eyes, and soak it up. It's my gift to you today.

Isn't that pure perfection?

Last night, I made a quick peach crisp with South Carolina peaches. Yes, I know I live in the "Peach State," but South Carolina actually produces more peaches than Georgia does. Instead of following a recipe, I did this:

I peeled three peaches and sliced them up. I placed them in a small Corningware casserole dish. I sprinkled a bit of sugar over the peaches. Then I mixed rolled oats and flour together at a 3:1 ratio, diced up some butter and "forked" it into the oat/flour, added some brown sugar and a bit of cinnamon, and mixed with my fingers until it was crumbly and yummy. (I tested it to make sure.) I sprinkled this over the peaches. I like lots of topping. Then I baked everything at 350 til the topping was light brown and crunchy.


This was wonderful both warm and cold. No cornstarch, no lemon juice, little sugar, pure flavor.

And if this is your first introduction to Mary Chapin Carpenter, you're welcome.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Travels: Washington, DC

Our Girl Scout troop of five Cadettes, one leader, and one co-leader (that's me) are hitting the road  in my old Mazda MPV van this morning for a trip to our nation's capital. Two days are slated for traveling and four days for visiting. On the itinerary:

  • Smithsonian Natural History Museum
  • White House Tour
  • National Gallery of Art
  • Old Town Alexandria
  • Arlington National Cemetery (some of the girls are participating in the wreath laying ceremony)
  • U.S. Capitol Tour
  • National Archives Tour
  • Crime Museum
  • The Washington Mall and its memorials
  • Mt. Vernon

It's going to be fantastic! The only time I've ever been to Washington, DC was on the fifth grade trip many years ago. So I'm really looking forward to it.

And let's not forget the 11+-hour car trip with five young teen girls. Can you say awesome? Wonder how many stops we'll make. . . .

I'll post about our adventures as soon as I can! And I'll also be posting about my family's trip to Miami and Key West in mid-May. Look for both of those soon!

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Salads in Mason Jars

After seeing these babies on Pinterest, I've been wanting to try them. And try them I did, a few weeks back. I was impressed by how fresh the salads kept in the jars. So I made some more today. Here's a Waterlogue of the four I made.

Aren't they pretty?

The beauty of the premise is that you use what you have, like any other salad. There is, of course, a method.

1. Dressing goes in first. The amount is up to you. I often eat my salads sans dressing. Just one of my (many) eccentricities.
2. Protein, such as meat or tofu or beans, is next. I omitted protein from this batch, mainly because I didn't have any on hand.
3. Next come the veggies.This time, I used diced zucchini and cucumber, grated carrot, and halved grape tomatoes.
4. Lastly, pack as much greens in as you can. I used a spring mix as well as a kale and veggie mix, which included chopped broccoli and brussels sprouts.
5. Twist on the lids and refrigerate.

Ta da!

I've found that one jar provided enough side salad for Himself and me at suppertime. One jar alone was more than enough as a lunch entree for me; in fact, I had leftovers.

And since they're salads, there are all sorts of variations on this theme. I thought of using a poppyseed dressing and then packing in fruits, like blueberries and strawberries, chopped apple and pear, and some chopped nuts before packing in the greens. Another idea: a southwestern salad, with a zippy dressing, black beans, corn, tomatoes, green onion, and maybe pico de gallo. . .
My pin came from Cassie at Back to Her Roots. On her original post, she has several recipes for salads-in-a-jar. She's fancier than I am, but you probably are, too. So I bet you'll like her recipes!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In the Land of Magnolias

We have these mysterious trees in our back yard. Our back yard, it should be noted, has been left on its own for more than 20 years. We have plans for it, but at the moment it is still au naturel. There are LOTS of trees. However, there are several trees that have been a mystery to me for years. I say years because we also had one or two in the back yard of our last house. At this house, there are younger trees of this species and older, taller trees. And they have a distinguishing feature: their huge leaves.

Earlier this spring, Himself told me that our neighbor reported to him that these trees bloom with large white blossoms in early summer/late spring. "We've always called them wild magnolias," our neighbor said.

We live in the deep South, where magnolias abound. The variety we're used to down here is the Southern magnolia (magnolia grandiflora), and there are lots of those in our neighborhood. But they look nothing like the trees in my back yard. The shape of the tree is different and so are the leaves. So I shrugged at this bit of news and then forgot about it.

Until a few weeks ago, when Himself pointed out a blossom to me. It was high up in the tree, best visible from our second story deck, and gorgeous: large, creamy white, and waxy looking. Just like a magnolia.

So I Googled "wild magnolia tree," and bingo! I discovered that these trees are indeed magnolias. After doing a bit of research, I have tentatively identified my trees as bigleaf magnolias (magnolia macrophylla), due to the size of their leaves. Another possibility is the Fraser magnolia (magnolia fraseri), but its leaves are not quite as large, so I went with macrophylla.

According to our neighbor, the flowers have a lovely perfume, in keeping with their magnolia-ness. Sadly, the flowers on our trees are too high for us to smell. The flowers are also few. I wish there were more blooms! If it weren't for the flowers, I'd never been able to ID these trees.

I'm always excited when I make a nature discovery, whether it's a bird, flower, or tree identification. I'm sort of a nature nut when it comes to those kinds of things. Last week in the car, Tiny Girl said with an exasperated sigh and a smile, "You're always pointing out clouds!"

What can I say? Nature makes me happy!

Have you ever seen bigleaf magnolias where you are?

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Linking up with:
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Birthday Cake Worthy of the Man Himself

Earlier this week, I made Himself a birthday cake. Totally homemade, I might add. I've been getting into homemade cakes lately, and I have to tell you, once you do, it's hard to go back to cake mixes. Homemade just tastes better.

Anyway, I had a vision for my beloved's cake and of course the reality fell short, for a variety of reasons. But it was still darn tasty. So I thought I'd share the recipes. Do not judge the cake by its photo. Or its baker's lack of decorating skills.

The cake recipe, which is pinned on my Tasty Eats and Sips board, is one of THE best white cakes I've ever tasted. It would be lovely as the base for a sour cream coconut frosting. Or any other frosting, frankly. It comes from Robyn Stone of Add a Pinch, and she calls it The Best White Cake Recipe {Ever}, which is really throwing down the gauntlet. But after making and eating this cake, I think she's got the right to that name. I'm sending you to her site for the recipe for two reasons: she talks about the recipe and why she made it as she did AND her photos are much better. She also has links to suggested frosting recipes, in case you're at a loss for a frosting idea.

Okay. So that's the cake.

Himself has a fondness for a local bakery's white chocolate raspberry cake, so I thought I'd do something along those lines. Back to Pinterest I went, and I found what seemed to be a nice white chocolate frosting. It's White Chocolate Buttercream, from The Bewitchin' Kitchen.

My idea was to frost the outside of the cake with the buttercream, but to put a raspberry preserves/sweetened whipped cream mixture between the layers (it's a three-layer cake). And I bought fresh raspberries for decoration. Sounds nice, right?

Well, I forgot to buy the raspberry preserves at the grocery. Did I mention I was making the cake on his actual birthday? So I had to improvise.

Strawberry jam or preserves would have been nice, but I didn't have either of those. I DID have apricot jam. But I DID NOT have time to make the whipped cream. Himself was grilling the baby back ribs while the cakes baked. So. I mixed half a jar of the apricot jam with some of the frosting and used that between the layers.

(Meanwhile I was having trouble baking the cakes. My oven is not large, so I had to keep moving the pans around to avoid over-browning any of the layers. I think I'll stick to two layers next time and use the remaining batter for cupcakes.)

When it came time for candles and cutting the cake, we sliced big pieces for us all. And got a surprise: all of us thought the frosting was cloyingly sweet. Interestingly, the girls and I did not think it too sweet when we licked the beaters and scraped the bowl. But on the cake it was. And the cake itself is not an overly sweet cake.

The good news is that the frosting is better at cold temperatures, so now we eat our cake right out of the fridge. Next time, I'll try a different frosting. And there will be a next time; the cake is that good!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

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I'm linking up with:
Inspiration Gallery at The Golden Sycamore
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll thru Life
The Inspiration Board at Homework
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
What We Accomplished Wednesday at Green Willow Pond

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A New Guest at the Feeder

We FINALLY hung one of our bird feeders up on the deck right outside the kitchen window. We still have two more to hang, but I need to get feeder posts suitable for the deck to hang the feeders.

One of my "must haves" when we were house hunting was a kitchen window with a view to the outdoors. Many houses around here have interior kitchens. No, thank you. As much as we love bird-watching, a room with a view was non-negotiable.

I posted quite a bit about birds in the past, and I'll get back into the habit when I get back into blogging like I used to. With the switch in focus (and life), I'm still trying to find my groove. And unpack boxes. Yes, still.

Anyway, I was super excited to have this visitor last week:


Yes, it's the aptly-named red-headed woodpecker. Aren't they gorgeous?

Unfortunately, they have "near threatened" conservation status. Partners in Flight list them as a "Common Bird in Steep Decline." Why? One major reason is that they nest in dead trees or dead parts of live trees. As development spreads, dead trees are removed from the landscape. And even though red-headed woodpeckers will nest in utility poles, studies have shown that eggs do not hatch in newer poles, probably due to creosote.

I only saw this beauty for two days. It visited my feeder several times for the black-oil sunflower seed I serve. They are big insect eaters; perhaps our warmer weather has made for an increase in the insect buffet around here. I hope so.

Wouldn't it be a huge shame to lose such a beautiful species?

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Considering Kitchen Lighting

One of these things we're updating in our kitchen renovation is the lighting. We've already changed out the fixture in the breakfast area. It was a large ceiling fan/light combo, which we relocated to the master bedroom. I know chandeliers in the bedroom are all the rage right now, but I like a good ceiling fan. I live in the Deep South, and I appreciate the cool breath of air a ceiling fan gives over the sparkly bling of a bedroom chandy -- which I can't see at night, anyhow.

Himself and I were not charmed by other lighting choices in the kitchen, either. There was an awful track light over the stove, which had been questionably rigged, and a personality-less box light over the sink. The latter was at least hidden by a rectangle of wood, but still. When Himself removed the soffit boxes, the rectangle looked awkward. So down it came and the light as well.

A peek of the rectangular board AND the old soffit boxes.

So now I am looking for lights to go over the stove and the sink. I'm considering either pendant lights or a linear chandelier (billiard/island fixture). The latter would be over the stove only, so if I go that route, I would find a pendant light that complemented the stove light for over the sink. If I opt for pendant lights only, then I need to decide whether to have two or three over the stove.

I've pinned several options to my Gorgeous Home Pinterest board. The latest eye-catching options are near the top, and several more appear down lower. I'm especially intrigued with the offerings from The Lamp Goods (see there website HERE). Here's one from my board:

And I also love the delicate shell exterior of this:

For the stove lighting, here are a couple of linear chandeliers:

Kitchen lighting decisions are important not just for aesthetic reasons, but also practical reasons. Which will give the best light for cooking? How will light fall on the stove? If the fixtures are not just so, I'll have to deal with unbalanced light over the stove. I've done this before and it's annoying. I want to avoid that.

What are your thoughts/advice? I'm open to all!

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Thoughts on Renovations: Two Camps

Himself and I have different opinions on, well, many, many, many things. We are the personification of "opposites attract." And this truth has been much in evidence in the last few months as we go about renovating and sprucing up our new-to-us house.

I believe I may have shared this is as a mention in another post, but it deserves its own post for this reason: people get in big fights about how to go about renovations/redecoration.

Camp One (where Himself has parked his Winnebago)

AKA The "One Room at a Time" Philosophy

The name sums it up. Address one room at a time. Paint the walls, woodwork, whatever else needs to be painted. Change out the lighting. Consider flooring options and window treatments. Buy new furniture (oh, how I wish!) or wave a magic wand over what you've got. Arrange said furniture. Replace or paint outlet covers and switch plates. Hang your artwork. Put in other finishing touches.

Ta da! Room complete and perfect.

I get it. I really do. I just don't do it. And here's why.

Camp Two (my favorite spot)

AKA "Do what I can when I can vs. waiting around"

I don't always have the funds to do everything in one go, so I'd rather do what I can. If we can buy some paint and paint a room, let's do it. If I have to wait to replace the chandelier, that's fine. At least the room will sport a new and lovelier coat of paint. If all the doors in the house have to be painted (ahem), which will take a while, why not buy new doorknobs to replace the old, peeling, brassy gold ones? At least the doors will look better after only a couple of hours of work. If I want to slap a texture on the bathroom walls to cover the yucky, peeling, almost-30-year-old, dark green wallpaper but I won't have time to paint until a bit later, at least the wallpaper will be gone.

And why should my fantastic claw foot bathtub languish on the patio under the deck just because we're not ready to do the entire master bath? I'm about to take a sledgehammer to the horrid, uncomfortable, shallow "Roman" bathtub that's now collecting dust just to get rid of it myself.


All that being said, I do see the wisdom of doing big things all at one time. That only makes sense. And when we had the popcorn ceilings removed, we did the entire downstairs at once. We didn't go one room at a time then.

Himself and I are not trust fund babies. So cash is always a consideration. And we do a LOT of the work ourselves. But I am impatient. I love this house, and I am chomping at the bit to make it ours. To develop a style of my own (sadly lacking in the past). To create a home that's unique, gracious, welcoming, and warm.

And I want to do what I can to make progress quickly.

So where do you (and your beloved) fall on this issue? Any tips you can share? I'd appreciate any ammunition to strengthen my position! :-)

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Party hearty!
Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just a Housewife
The Inspiration Board at Homework
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Be Inspired at Common Ground