Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The New Family Room Couch

Well, we finally did it.  We bought the piece of furniture that we said we'd go back for 3 years ago. 

It's probably been more than 3 years, now, but a few years back we decided it was time for an update in our family room.  The room had been painted yellow and housed over-sized, 10 year old, denim couches that had been slip-covered and had seen better days.  It was time for an update and we found the perfect (small-ish) couch at La-Z-Boy.  We ordered a custom color because I loved the fabric and I was actually surprised that the custom color was the same price at the floor sample.  It has really been the perfect couch, but we didn't buy the matching loveseat.  The loveseat was the same price as the sofa, so we just went with one piece to save a bit on cost.  We used a couple of chairs, that I had originally purchased for another room, in place of a couch and just pushed them together so it looked like a loveseat.  About a month ago, we decided it was time to go back and buy the loveseat.  My fear was that it would no longer be available.  Much to our luck, they still had it!

When we sat on the loveseat, we realized how small it was.  Because the couch was smaller than normal, that meant the loveseat was even smaller.  It was really more of an oversized chair.  Since they were almost the same price, we opted for buying an identical couch.  Now we have two matching couches in the family room, with plenty of seating for lots of friends.  It's a little tighter, right when you walk in, than I had hoped, but no one seems to notice.

As a matter of fact, no one REALLY seemed to notice.  We had family and friends who are as close as family, over for the Seahawks game a few weeks ago and they didn't even notice my new furntiture.  I pointed it out and they said, "Wow, it blends right in and looks like it belongs.  I didn't even notice."  I guess that's a good thing when a piece of furniture just fits right in like that!

I finally feel like this room is furnished the way I want.  We have plenty of seating and I love these couches.  They are deep enough to curl up on but no so deep that you can't get out of them.  They are also a bit smaller than a typical couch, which is great for a smaller family room.  Now, I need to do something about the tattered ottoman covers.  The corduroy fabric has seen better days and is even starting to rip.  Hey... I finished all of my projects in the LIVING ROOM, but I never said I was done with the FAMILY ROOM.  There's always something that needs to be done.

Happy decorating!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toy Photography - Day 1

A few days ago I read a great blog post on Clickin' Moms about a photographer who spared her children the agony of posing for pictures, for a while, and snapped photos of their toys instead.  I loved this idea because I've always been a bit sad about favorite toys that were left in the dust.  I knew my first toy photo had to be "The Guys" that my little boy loved so much.

The Guys are Baby and Bubba.  Bubba is the doggy on the left.  My son was given to him by one of my husband's co-workers when he was born.  He couldn't say puppy, when he was learning to talk, and it came out as Bubba.  Bubba was his absolute favorite toy and I was always afraid he would forget Bubba at daycare and we'd be in a world of hurt at bedtime.  I thought that we might be able to find a second Bubba to keep on-hand, but the closest thing I could find was a little bear with the same color of fur.  The animal I thought would become a replacement in case of emergency, became the other half of a bonded pair.  The bear was named Baby and he became one of The Guys.  

My son left The Guys behind many years ago, but I've always saved them.  He carried them everywhere for years and I still get a little choked up remembering my little boy.

On a photography note, I thought it would be fun to get my son in the shot too.  I knew he wouldn't pose with The Guys, so I just set them on the porch when he was out shooting hoops.  It kind of shows what he left them behind for. Life for my son is now about sports and not stuffies.  sniff, sniff

Now, I'd like you to meet Bubby.  When my daughter was born, her big brother wanted to bring her a Bubba at the hospital.  We searched and searched... with no luck.  The Ty company had discontinued this type of stuffed animal.  Luckily, they had this great online marketplace called Ebay, and we found it online.  Big Brother brought Bubba to the hospital and gave it to his sister.  Lamby became her Bubba's mate for life, and somehow it was just easier to call them Lamby and Bubby.  

(Side story:  My daughter took Lamby and Bubby everywhere she went and slept with them every night.  There were a few nights when she had hidden Lamby  and Bubby or put them in a special place and so she had to sleep with something else.  So, we figured Lamby and Bubby were just hiding somewhere when we could find them for a few days.  Well, days became weeks and she was getting distraught.  We tore the house apart looking for those guys, with no luck.  They were missing for about a year, when I was tucking her into bed at her cousin's house, on the other side of the state from our house.  I peeked over at the stuffed animal pile and thought I saw a familiar tail sticking out.  I honestly think I screamed.  I couldn't believe we found them after a full year of being missing! At least they were in good hands at her cousin's house for a year. )

My photography note on Bubby's picture is that I wanted capture where Bubby lives now.  My daughter is 10 now and doesn't always sleep with stuffed animals.  Most of the time, Bubby stays tucked under a blanket by her bed (another gift from one of my husband's co-workers).  I always think it's sweet when she takes Bubby to sleepover though.

Finally, for my last toy shot, I couldn't resist the Seahawks Build-A-Bear.  I found him shoved in a drawer and it seems like a perfect time to bring him out.  Now I am officially the only one in the house without a Seahawks jersey.  Even the stuffed bear has a jersey!  (If I buy one, I'm buying a Gilliam jersey.  He's the guy who caught the first touchdown of the playoff game two weeks ago.  He didn't get enough credit for that, so I'd buy his jersey.  Go Gilliam!!)

I really did enjoy taking pictures of the kids' old toys.  I tried to set them up like real photoshoots, making sure I liked the lighting.  It was a really cloudy day, but the tripod helped.

Happy toy photography!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Filling Your Home With Personal Treasures

I was looking through old posts the other day, looking for a picture.  I found an old post about antiques around my house.  It reminded me so much of my grandma and I thought I'd do a repost of a few of the highlights.  

I don't mind if things around my house look a bit tattered or scratched.  I think those little imperfections show that things are used and loved.  I tend to be a collector.  (My husband would embellish that and call me a hoarder.)  But, there are so many special treasures that I love to display in my home that bring back memories or remind me of people.

This sewing machine was in a corner of my parents' garage for years, before it found a home in my craft room. My step dad said it was either is mom's or grandma's.  I love the case as much as I love the machine and display it with several old wooden spools of thread that my mom had.


There is nothing more meaningful than holding your great-grandmother's Bible. There are even handwritten notes inside from church services and Bible studies. It's tattered and I'm always a bit worried that something will happen to it, now that it's sitting on a table in the living room where the boys play their video games.

When we were going through my grandma's old suitcases, many years ago, we opened one and found her wedding dress and my grandpa's WWII army uniform. Many years before, she told us she had thrown them away because they were tattered. It was amazing to find them in perfect condition inside a suitcase in her garage.

The flower garden quilt is from my husband's side of the family. His grandma sent it home with me after a visit to her house. It is very tattered, but I just have the good part of the quilt poking out of the basket. The star quilt was made my great grandmother. I had to bribe my sister to let me have it.

This one was made my great grandmother and my great, great grandmother as a wedding gift for my grandparents. The patterned fabric was made from old shirts and dresses. They didn't have a lot of money and they used the scraps they had available. What a treasure!  I hung this in my hallway and think about a great grandmother and great, great grandmother who I never met, every time I walk down the hall.

I fill my home with these treasures because each piece has a story. It reminds me about home and family, and isn't that what life should be all about?

What story does your home tell?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What Is This Blog Anyway?

Someone asked me once, what I blog about.  My response was, "Ummm.  Home stuff."  I couldn't really put my finger on my main topic.  I read food blogs, DIY blogs, photography blogs, sewing blogs, garden blogs, and interior design blogs.  I love them all!  When I think about my own blog, it doesn't fit neatly into any of those categories.

I write about antiques I collect and where I put them in my house.

I share recipes I've come up with.

I do share home decor once in a while.

I always enjoy sharing sewing tutorials.

Probably one of my favorite topics to post about is gardening.

So, what is this blog anyway?  I'd say it's a Homemaking blog.  I majored in Family and Consumer Science in college (along with getting my teaching degree) and I've always loved everything about FCS (formerly home economics).  I also love the mission of FCS, which is to help people improve the quality of their lives.  I guess that's "kind of" my mission here.  My hope is to inspire someone who doesn't sew, to break out the sewing machine and give it a try.  I'd love to see someone try a recipe I've posted here and realize that cooking from scratch isn't too hard.  Wouldn't that be cool?  I think so, which is why I blog and am so thrilled when I get an email from a friend who tells me I've inspired them to try something new.  

I may not be a food blogger or garden blogger.  You may not consider this place a sewing blog or DIY blog, but it's a pretty fun Homemaking blog to write.

Happy homemaking!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Documenting Life Through Pictures of Toys

I read the greatest blog post yesterday.  It was on the Clickin Moms site.  Click here to take you to the post. In the post, the author shares several photos of her kids' toys.  I loved this idea!  It's just what I needed as a little inspiration. Everything outside is a dreary shade of brown or gray right now and, to be honest, my kids are really sick of posing for pictures. Taking pictures of their toys is the perfect way to document where my kids are in their stages of life, without eye rolling and foot stomping.  I can't wait to get started.

Be prepared to see lots of pictures of stuffed animals.  I think my daughter may be a hoarder.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Not So Formal Living Room - There.

I'll start this post with a side story...

Many years ago, when I was going to college and living with my sister, I remember a conversation we had about the way people look when they are ready to leave the house.  My sister said something about how sometimes people just surprise her  because we all know that they look in the mirror at themselves, finish fixing up their hair or their makeup, and then say, "There." Our conversation was about how sometimes people just need to take another look before saying, "There." Maybe a second look would prompt them to see that their hair was not quite "there-worthy" yet.

Years later, we still use "there" in our conversations, on regular basis.  My sister and my mom see my constant rearranging of furniture or painting of rooms and ask, "When are you just going to say THERE and be done?"  I would love to say there.  I would love to be done.  But I can't.  I'm just never to that point where I'm backing out of my living room, looking at a beautiful space, and ready to utter that one little word, "There."

Well, maybe, just maybe... today might be the day.

You see, I bought some new chairs for the living room about 3 years ago.  As much as I loved them in the living room, I found that we really NEEDED them in the family room.  I moved them over to family room and they served (pushed together) as our make-shift couch for the past few years.  Well, just this week my new couch for the family room arrived, freeing up my chairs to go back to their rightful home in the living room.

I love that this room has plenty of seating now.  It looks warm and inviting.

There is still plenty of space for games and activities on the floor, but adults aren't forced to sit on the floor because of lack of chairs.  I think it's a pretty good looking space and I may even venture so far as to see that it looks complete.

 I'm looking at this space today and tentatively saying

Yep.  There.

Monday, January 12, 2015

LeapFrog Delivery

The greatest delivery in the history of free deliveries was waiting on my porch today!  I can't wait to play around with the LeapPad 3.  I use the LeapPads in my classroom and the kids LOVE them. Plus, I have 5 new games to try out that are perfect for Kindergarten.  

I reviewed the LeapTV a while back (which is really awesome) and after posting my reviews, LeapFrog said they would be sending me the ultimate goody package.  Well, I'd say this really is the ULTIMATE goody package!  Oh, what a happy mail day this is!!!  Thank you, LeapFrog, for making me such a happy teacher!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I always struggle a bit this time of year.  I just can't stand the dark, gray, gloom that surrounds the Pacific Northwest during the winter months.  (Who am I kidding... it's most months here.)  Don't get me wrong, we have beautiful days here and there, but for the most part it's pretty gray around here.  I love being outside and working in my yard, but this time of year everything has died and there is just a muddy mess of leaves that we didn't get around to picking up and skid marks of mud where we once had grass.

It's dreary, Friends.

My husband and I were chatting last week, while we were both home and vacation, and as I looked outside on our muddy lawn I said, "Well, at least we don't feel the pressure to hurry up and enjoy the sunshine, because we know it won't last too long, or feel the need to work in the yard every weekend."

 My attention turns to inside this time of year and making a cozy and inviting place for my family.  I focus more on cooking, baking, cleaning, organizing, and decorating than weeding, planting, pressure washing, and dead-heading.

As I was feeling down about the gray and rain again today, I reminded myself how much I LOVE home.  I want my home to wrap my kids and husband with coziness.  I want it filled with smells of good food and the sounds of laughter.  It's a happy place, and do you know what?  It's not so bad to be trapped inside because of the gray and gloom.

 It's a time to nest a bit and create as many memories inside the house as we do outside.

Home is a good place to be.

Happy Homemaking!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Wood Burning Fireplace

When we moved to our house, 10 years ago, I was thrilled that we had a wood burning fireplace.  I've always loved the crackling sound of a roaring fire and I know the trend is to rip those out and replace them with gas.  I understand that gas is convenient and that it's much easier to flip a switch for warmth than it is to play Boy Scout and build the perfect fire, but there's just something about a real fire that I love.

Two years ago, when we were having our chimney cleaned, the chimney service let us know that there was some damage that needed to be fixed.  We have a broken cap and some of the wood is rotting.  At $1,500 for repairs, we didn't jump on the idea of having those repairs done right away.  This year, when we had our chimney cleaned (by a different company) they told us the same thing and the suggested fee for repair was about the same as well.  That news got us thinking that maybe we should just look into swapping out for a gas insert.  Then, the repairs at the top of the chimney wouldn't matter because it would vent in a completely different way.

My friend, Diane, is in the middle of a big flooring, fireplace, and fireplace tile remodel so she asked if I wanted to go shopping with her over the weekend.  We found some very pretty gas inserts, but with my particular situation, the glass (viewing area for the actual fire) would need to be pretty small.  That was the first strike against this new plan.  Then came the really bad news.  We went to three different places and found that it would cost between $3,000 and $4,000. Sheesh!  We don't mind a DIY project now and then, but DIY of fire and gas lines does not sound like something we will be tackling any time soon, so there would be no chance of cutting the cost.  That was the second strike.  I had pretty much made up my mind that this would not be happening, so I tossed the brochures and built myself a cozy fire last night.  Third strike, Friends.  I just really, really, like a wood burning fireplace.  I know, I know... a gas fireplace would increase the value of my home and it's much more convenient but I also know that it's 3 strikes and you're out.  The wood burning fireplace will be staying.

The fluffy guy loves curling up by the fire too.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Warm chocolate chip cookies on a cold night... what could be better? How about a warm chocolate chip cookie wrapped into a pie?  I made a chocolate chip cookie pie a few years ago and my hubby didn't like it too much.  Well, I've revamped my recipe and I think this is a winner.  I took it, along with an apple pie, to Thanksgiving and the kids fought over the last piece on Leftover Eating Day.  Yes, our family devotes an entire dinner party just to eating leftovers.
1 unbaked pie crust (I always make my own)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place butter and shortening in a bowl and beat together.  Add brown sugar and white sugar. Beat. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together.  Add flour and salt and stir until mixed together.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.  As the pie is baking, I sprinkle a few more mini chocolate chips onto the pie. (The chocolate sinks to the bottom of the pie as it bakes, so this makes it pretty on top.) Bake at 350 for 55 minutes. 
Enjoy your warm cookie pie!
Happy baking!

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