Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home and Family Friday

My white hydrangeas are finally in bloom! White flowers look so much better with my color scheme than blue hydrangeas.

Dr. Seuss Rocking Chair

Here's a little background to this story:

My Friend Debbie: "Hey, I saw on your blog that you like to redo furniture."

Me: "Yep, I've been searching Craigslist for some small pieces to work on this Summer."

Debbie: "Do you want a rocking chair to redo? I have one that I started to paint in my kids' playroom. I never got around to finishing it. I'm sure you could do something cute with it."

Me: (Thinking- Ohhhhh, I could paint it the cute pale blue that I see all over Bloggland and then find the perfect pale blue and red fabric to make a chair pad. I've always wanted to do that color combination, but it just wouldn't work in my house.)

Me: "Sure, I'd love it." It came out in a very calm tone, but inside I was jumping up and down with excitement about my new project!

The next day Debbie brought it to school with her (we're both teachers at the same school). She pulled it out of her truck and I fell in love with this totally adorable work of art. She had painted the chair white, added a Dr. Seuss hat to the seat, and then painted the dowels and knobs in black and red. She said she had done one coat of paint and lost steam. (We all know that three coats of red paint are a minimum.) It was the greatest chair it just needed a little more time put into it! Debbie is the busiest working mom I know, so I don't know how she even got the first coat done.

I took the chair home, knowing full well that there was no way I could paint this chair pale blue and ruin all of that hard work. I scrapped the dream of the blue rocker with the cute red fabric and instead went to work on finishing the Dr. Seuss chair she had started. Debbie had done all of the hard work. She had done the artistic piece that there was no way I could have done. I carefully added a second coat, then a third coat. Finally, I added a few coats of poly over the top. It is beautiful, shiny, and ready for a classroom or playroom! I hope it's the chair she was always hoping it would become.

So, Debbie, here's my proposal. I can't possibly take this chair and put it in my own classroom. It's like a piece of artwork and I can't possibly subject it to the abuse of a kindergarten classroom.

So, here are our options:

a: You take it home to your boys and your playroom and continue to read stories in it every night.

b: If you really want it out of your playroom, then I think we should give it to the library where all of the kids will enjoy it!

I hope you love the shiny finished look!

Here are a few linky parties I'm joining!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nestle Toll House Pie

All I really need to say here is, "Yum." Well, maybe you'd like the recipe too. I think the pictures and the title speak for themselves. The recipe is from


2 eggs
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1 c. butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 (6 oz.) pkg. (1 c.) Nestle Toll House semi sweet chocolate morsels
1 c. chopped walnuts (I left these out.)
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell
Whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; add flour, sugar and brown sugar; beat until well blended. Blend in melted butter. Stir in Nestle Toll House semi sweet chocolate morsels and walnuts. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 325 degrees F. Time: 1 hour. Remove from oven. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes: one 9 inch pie.
Recipe may be doubled. Bake two pies, freeze one for later use.

Here's a little tip. Notice how the chocolate chips sink to the bottom? After the pie is about half done, add a few more chocolate chips to the top.

This makes a pretty top to the pie.

Happy baking!
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Here are a few linky parties I'm joining!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Photography Tips


I was looking through some food pictures today and suddenly I'm very hungry.

There are so many talented bloggers out there, who REALLY know how to take pictures. They know the ins and outs of their camera and their photos turn out like works of art. I'm not one of those bloggers, but I'm working on it. I've been reading as much as I can about photography and practicing by taking photos for my blog. There are a couple of tips from books, friends, and other bloggers that have really helped me.

1. Turn off the flash.

2. Natural light is best.

3. Get close up... really close up.

4. Try different angles. (This one is hard for me to remember.)

5. Learn to use photo editing software like Photoshop or Picasa. (I don't really do this much, but I'd like to say I do.)

So, what's your best tip for me? I'd love any advice you can give me! It's such a beautiful time of year and I really want to capture it. Gardens, beaches,food, sunsets, stars, kids playing outside... so many things to photograph!
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes- The Whole Ball of Wax

My brother's two kids stayed with us last night. I thought this recipe and story deserved a repost, since we made Nanie and Baumpa's buttermilk pancakes for breakfast this morning. After I told the kids the story of where the recipe came from, my neice said, "They do taste kind of different and special." I'm not sure it's the recipe that makes the pancakes taste so great... I'm going with years of love and family togetherness that make these pancakes special. Enjoy!

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. (By the way, I know her recipe says Tablespoon and the recipe I typed below says teaspoon. She also had a typed version of the recipe. We've tried it both ways and we all agree that the version with teaspoon works best.)

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!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Home and Family Friday

I've been loving black and white photos lately. I don't claim to be a great photographer, but I sure do enjoy taking pictures. Don't look too closely at the pictures on my walls. Some are too dark, some too light, some a little boring. Regardless of their quality, I've been using the pictures I've taken as decoration in my house. (Notice I didn't call it art work.)

I take pictures, convert them to black and white in Picasa, then have them printed at Shutterfly.

My home decor budget hasn't taken too much of a hit with these projects. I've been finding old picture frames in my mom's garage and spray painting them black.

The best thing about this project is that it involves my two favorite things: home and family.

What are your Home and Family projects this week?
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Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Come On Over! I'll Be Out Back.

Do you open your doors and have a backyard party at the drop of a hat? Are you the first person to invite friends over for a Bar-B-Que when the weather warms up? I love to watch shows like Landscape Smart and Landscapers Challenge. As the designers ask questions, the homeowners usually say things like, "Well, we love to entertain." Do they really like to entertain? Or do they just like the idea of entertaining?

I really do love to entertain, but I will admit that it causes panic attacks and crabby mom syndrome in the days leading up to a party. I find that I hold off on inviting people over because my house or my yard isn't "done". Well, NEWS FLASH... it will probably never be "done". There will always be something more I'd like to do or a messy project I'm right in the middle of.

So, here's my yard. I'm throwing open my doors and inviting you to my backyard party. (If you all lived closer, I'd invite you over for real.) I didn't mow the lawn for you. Heck, I didn't even sweep off the deck.

Here's the view as you come in the house. I love my little benches out front. I made the pillows this year, out of Sunbrella outdoor fabric. My hydrangeas are finally in bloom. I just added some True Blue to the soil, which will turn these into... well, true blue.

We spend quite a bit of time out on our deck. We bought the outdoor set at Target, a few years back. Our deck is fairly shady, so it makes a nice place to take a break on a hot summer day.

Our deck extends down the length of the backside of the house. Ahhh, this is one of my favorite spots to sit and watch the kids play in the yard.

Here's the view from the deck.

When we moved in, this area inside the brick retaining wall was empty. I had no idea what to put in this large space. After living with the empty space for a year, we decided this would be the perfect spot for a vegetable garden. We built a path out of rocks that were already in the yard. This space sits empty for a good portion of the year, but it makes us so happy in the summer. The kids loved digging the potatoes.

The flowers are starting to bloom around the yard.

These little guys are just about done.

So, remember how I said that I hesitate entertaining because things aren't "done" quite yet? Well, this is one of those projects. We've come a long way, but still have so far to go. Please ignore the pile of dirt and the horrible dirt patches where grass should be. Remember... work in progress.

Here's where we were a few weeks ago:

Here's the inspiration from Country Gardens:

And, again, here we are with our work in progress:

Thanks for hanging out in the backyard with me. Stop by anytime. If I don't answer the door, you know where to find me. I'm probably out back.

Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in:
I'm also linking up to Outdoor Day at Soft Place to Land.

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