Thursday, April 29, 2010

Home and Family Friday

Welcome to my 3rd linky party. It's been so much fun seeing all the family, organization, and craft projects.

I was thinking about the highlights of my week and unfortunately (for my waistline) my highlights are mostly about food. Hmmmm. I think I'm seeing a trend.




Hey, those are healthy!


Well, I did manage to start organizing my garage.


Next week there will be more sewing projects, more gardening, and more organizing. I guess that means less time spent baking.

On to the party...

The Kitchen Saga

My kitchen seems to be a never ending story. You might remember how I tried to embrace the blue kitchen.

Yep, this is some seriously blue tile.


After doing a little cosmetic work, I was so much happier with this.



I have a perfectly fine kitchen now. I'm happy with the counters. We have a new sink and faucet, new-ish appliances, fresh paint, new hardware, and I love my toile curtains. Then Layla went and did this.


I loved her first kitchen facelift! She started with 80's orange oak cabinets and did an amazing job painting the cabinets black. It was beautiful. Layla recently posted about small changes that really make your house "yours".

Layla got me thinking. Maybe a more drastic change is in order for my kitchen! I can't afford cabinet refacing quite yet, but I can afford paint! That got me thinking about my friend Diane's kitchen.

Before


After


Both of these kitchens are amazing!

So, here's my dilemma. We are having our orange oak floors refinished. I would love to go with a rich dark chocolate color, but I'm afraid of scratches with the dog. A medium brown color has been recommended and I'd like to go with that. While we're at it, we are planning to have new, wider, baseboards installed, stained to match the floor. Medium brown floors, new baseboards, and orange oak cabinets... see the problem? It's so much wood and the tones just don't go. Plus, I don't really want to change out the baseboards to white (or paint them white) because I just really like the wood.

If I paint the cabinets a cream or taupe color, it might look like this:


A kitchen like this, with light brown wood floors and light brown baseboards would be beautiful!

I also love this:


I woke up this morning and told my husband that I couldn't sleep because I couldn't stop thinking about paint samples. When I told him that I wanted to paint the kitchen cabinets, he told me to go back to sleep. I'm hoping I can convince him to read this and maybe he'll see the light.

I'd love my kitchen to look more like Layla's.


So, what do you think? What would you do?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Organizing the Garage - Part 1



Garage organization tops my list of chores I hate. Yardwork, laundry, scrubbing toilets, picking up dog poop... I'd take those jobs any day. Garage organization just hangs over my head. I know I need to get out there. I know what I need to do and how I need to do it, but I just hate it! Going to the dentist is more fun!

I really had to think about things when I bought the cake holder at the Goodwill and my husband said, "Where are you going to put that? Do you realize how much crap you have out in the garage? Seriously, do you think you might be a hoarder?"

The adorable, vintage, cake holder from Goodwill - $2.50!!!


Ok, I must defend myself here. I am SOOOOOO not a hoarder! Every time the big blue donation truck comes to the neighborhood I try to send a few bags. I love to get rid of things. Decrapification is one of my favorite hobbies. My problem is that I hate the garage.

So last Sunday, the day after the cake holder incident, I decided it was time to face my fear head on. I took everything off my shelves, two gorilla storage shelves and one small wooden shelf from IKEA. There really wasn't that much on my shelves. I had just never really spent time organizing my things and the bins were a mish mash of containers. It didn't look neat and tidy. I couldn't even bring myself to take a "before" shot. It was just too horrible.

I made piles for Goodwill, new shed, garbage, and stuff to go back on the shelves.
Before long, I had organized bins.


With labels of course. All kindergarten teachers love to label things. It's what we do.


I even have empty bins, ready for seasonal items.


Ahhh! As much as I dreaded it, I'm glad it's done. Well, at least THAT part is done. I still have canning supplies, sports equipment, painting supplies, paint cans, and the whole bike/scooter/skateboard area to get to.

Here's a sneak peak at Organizing the Garage-Part 2.

The thought of gingham in the garage ALMOST makes me want to start spending time out there. I said ALMOST.



Here are a few linky parties I'm joining!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes - The Whole Ball of Wax



In the early sixties my grandparents bought a small piece of property on a lake. It started with a little cabin and an outhouse, as a weekend getaway. Through the years they added on to the little cabin (even adding a bathroom) and before long it was their home. Nanie and Baumpa (as well called them) lived on the lake for most of the years I remember.

Most family parties were held at the lake. They built a home big enough to have the entire family sit together at the dinner table, and enough space for after dinner seating in the living room. Some of my best memories are of family parties at the lake.

One truly special day at the lake was Opening Day of Fishing Season. Once upon a time the lake was stocked with fish each year. Shortly after, fishing season would open. We'd all head to Nanie and Baumpa's the night before it opened for a big sleepover. By that time they had a two bedroom house, a living room big enough for two families and their sleeping bags, a guest house out back, and a camping trailer. We'd wake up early in the morning and head out for a little fishing. At around 7am, when we heard the bell ring, we knew it was ready... the whole ball of wax.

(The same bell is now at my house.)

We'd have sausage, bacon, french toast, eggs, and the best buttermilk pancakes you could imagine. Baumpa called it "the whole ball of wax" and the name stuck.

Reading a blog last week (I wish I could remember which one), the memories came flooding back. The Blogger wrote about Grandma's pancake recipe. Thinking about the ball of wax brought back so many good memories for me and I started telling opening day fishing stories to my kids. It's funny how, when I tell them stories about when I was little, they really seem to listen and imagine what I was like.

Nanie is now 92 and living in an assisted living home. Along with so many wonderful memories, I also hold her recipes. Many, many years ago she scratched down a recipe for buttermilk pancakes on a piece of scrap paper and delighted us with this recipe for many years to follow.


I made Nanie's special buttermilk pancakes with my kids yesterday.

As we were eating them, my son said, "Wow! These really are the best pancakes I've ever had. They are SO good!" That's a pretty good compliment, coming from a nine year old boy. My daughter was super impressed with the fluffiness of the pancakes. Me? I was thrilled to share some wonderful memories with my family and delighted that the pancakes were just as good as I remembered. So, this one's for Nanie. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do.

Nanie's Buttermilk Pancakes

2 Cups Flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 Cups buttermilk

Combine egg yolks in buttermilk. Add remaining ingredients, except egg whites. Beat egg whites until stiff.


Fold egg whites into the mixture.



Here are a few linky parties I'm joining!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Linky Love and A Darn Good Chocolate Cake

Thanks for linking up to my second Home and Family Friday Linky Party! Leanne always has such great organizing tips. I'm going to use her bag idea for my son's baseball clothes and cub scout items. I always appreciate good organizing tips! (On a side note, I don't know how to put Leanne's bag picture into this post. Anyone know how to do that?)



Saturday night my husband and I were invited to a party, where we were in charge of bringing dessert. I really wanted to make a Bailey's Chocolate Cake, but it was really early on Saturday morning when I started it and I didn't want to call my neighbor for the recipe at 7am. So, out came my Cake Mix Doctor cook book. If you aren't familiar with this book, you need to see it. The author takes a regular old cake mix, adds a few other ingredients, and makes miracles happen!



Here's the recipe:

Darn Good Chocolate Cake
Grease and flour bundt pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add the following ingredients to a large bowl. Mix for 3 minutes.
1 Package chocolate cake mix
1 Package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding
4 Eggs
1 Cup sour cream
1/2 Cup warm water
1/2 Cup vegetable oil

Fold in:
1 and 1/2 Cup chocolate chips
Bake for 45-50 minutes.

I didn't have any chocolate chips in my pantry (can't believe that's even possible since I buy them in bulk) so I used semi-sweet chocolate squares instead. I chopped them up and really liked the small little chocolatey bits they added to the cake.



I used my Pampered Chef bundt pan to make the cake. I also took a little bit of cake batter and made a few cupcakes for the kids, since they weren't coming to the party.



Here's the cake fresh out of the oven.


And cooling...


While the cake was cooling I got breakfast ready for the kids, got myself ready for the day, and organized a few things that needed to be taken to the Goodwill. While I was there I found this little treasure!!!




It was only $2.50! Such a cute little vintage cake carrier, and so perfect for transporting my cake to the party that night! My daughter was in love with it because it was pink. I'm and NOT a pink person, but how can you resist this adorable cake carrier?


My husband, on the other hand, did not agree that it was $2.50 well spent. I will just ignore the following comments:
"Where are you going to put that?"
"I don't care if it was free. Why did you need that?"
"It's all scratched up."
"And why do we want someone else's junk?"
He doesn't see the joy in thrift store shopping.

Once I was home from Goodwill, awesome treasure in hand, it was on to frosting. There is no better frosting than Martha Stewart's chocolate frosting recipe. It was an old chocolate frosting recipe (pre-jailtime-Martha).

Mix together:
3 and 1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 Cup butter, softened
1/2 Cup room temperature milk
2 tsp vanilla

Here's the finished cake.


It was moist, really yummy, and so cute in the little cake carrier.

Here are a few linky parties I'm joining!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Home and Family Friday

My first linky party was so much fun last week! I have a few new projects on my to do list now. I can't wait to see what everyone is working on this week. I've extended the party until Sunday. Several people commented that they weren't able to get their link posted in time. Don't forget to comment on other people's posts. I would love it if you would grab my button and link back to my blog! I'm a new blogger and love making new friends in Blog Land!

Becca

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How I Met My House


AnNicole writes one of my very favorite blogs, Our Suburban Cottage. This week she has invited her readers to a linky party and asked us to share the story of how we met our house. I LOVE this idea. It really is a like meeting a new friend when you meet your house for the first time. I love the idea of sharing these stories with each other.





Here's my story:
Just after my husband and I were married, we bought our first house.


I felt so fortunate. We had found a truly perfect house for us. It was a great price, close to work, in a nice neighborhood, with a beautiful yard and there was plenty of room to raise a family. I felt like we were living happily ever after in our "forever" house. We built a fence, bought a puppy, and the babies followed shortly after.

Life was good, but that was just the beginning of the story of our house.

You see, my sister lived in a beautiful neighborhood in Snohomish and it just so happened that my husband's sister lives in the same neighborhood. Our kids are all about the same age and we all enjoy spending time together. My sister called me one day and told me about a house in her neighborhood that was For Sale By Owner. I told her that I thought that was really nice that she thought about us, but that we were not moving. She persisted. The next day she called again. She told me that she really thought we should just come out and see the house. Again, I told her that we were not moving and we didn't even have time to come drive by. Undeterred, she went to the house, knocked on the door, and asked if she could come in and take some pictures to email to her reluctant sister.


This was the picture on the brochure.

The house that my sister had chosen for us was within walking distance to her house and my husband's sister's house. It was close to the elementary school that all the kids would attend. The house was within our budget, in a perfect neighborhood, and it was much larger than the house I thought was our "forever house". When my husband and I opened the email with all of the pictures attached, it was all over. We didn't even need to see it in person. It was love at first sight. We drove out that very night and made an offer.

Moving to our new "forever house" was the best decision we've ever made. There were, and still are, lots of cosmetic changes that need to made. We can handle that. It's a small trade off for letting my kids grow up with their cousins and I mean REALLY grow up with their cousins. (We see them every day.) I always have someone to go to for a cup of sugar or when I'm short just one egg. I come home from work to find that my sister has "broken in" and left some things she had borrowed on the kitchen counter. We have one really tall ladder between all of us, because why would we want to store more than one ladder when we live so close together? We share dishes, childcare, good days, tough times, home baked treats, and most importantly - we share our lives together. At the end of the day it's all about home and family. I can't tell you how fortunate I feel that my home and family share the same neighborhood.


Check out these parties!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The New Shed

Here it is!!! This is my dream shed.

The picture was in the Summer, 2008, Country Gardens magazine. Every time I look at it I think my heart skips a beat. I LOVE THIS SHED! I love everything about it. It is so simple, cute, and rustic. When the magazine came in the mail, back in 2008, I showed my husband and we started shopping around.

About ten years ago, when we bought this shed (below), for our old yard, it was about $1,800. I thought that was pretty pricey for a storage shed.


So, you can imagine my surprise when the simple salt box type shed I was looking for was running at about $4,000! I'll admit that I love a good DIY project, but building a shed is a little beyond our capabilities and $4,000 was just not in the budget. My shed project was suddenly placed on the back burner. Well, more like totally off the stove and back in the cupboard.

Then came the Costco coupon book last week.

Ahhhhhh! (Angels singing, lights shining down from heaven!!!)

I can just picture this plain little salt box shed, all painted red with a window box and beautiful landscaping. And here's the best part. It was from COSTCO! You can imagine what a screaming deal we got this for. (You can look it up on costco.com if you're really interested to see the deal we got.) To top it off, there was no shipping fee.

Here's the side area of our yard. Our house is L-shaped so this is the weird little unused corner of the yard. We haven't done any landscaping to this area because I wanted the shed first and yard and flowers second. Don't you think it is just calling out for the cute little red shed?


I can't tell you how excited I am to look at this:


Instead of this:


Yep, I can see myself (and my hubby):
*finishing the retaining wall
*learning how to put the shed kit together
*tearing up what is left of the grass
*adding lots more dirt and sand to the horrible soil
*planting new grass
*taking endless trips to Flower World for plants and flowers

All for this:


Let the Spring DIY projects begin!

Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in.
 

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