Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Power of Paint

I love my husband (for many reasons), but he is the BEST when it comes to my crazy, hair-brained, ideas.

"Honey, do you mind if I paint the cabinets in the master bath?"

"I think I'm going to paint this chair, and all of the end tables, and the console table, and maybe the entire room.  Ooooh, and I think I'll do an accent wall!"

"What do you think about changing this table from blonde oak to black and deep brown?  By the way, those yellow walls need to go.  I'm thinking khaki!"

"Hey, I have an idea.... chocolate brown for the downstairs bathroom!"

"Oooh!  Pumpkin orange for the master bath walls!"

...and the list goes on...
Happy painting!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend, 2011

Last year I shared some photos of our trip to a small town in Washington State.  My husband's grandma lives in the smallest town I've ever seen.  It's over in Eastern Washington, near Spokane.  Click here to see photos I took last year.

This is the town.  When I took the picture, I was standing at Great Grandma's house, looking down toward town.  Sadly, only one of these buildings is occupied.  Otherwise, it's like a ghost town.  Most of the buildings are boarded up and the brick is crumbling off the sides of the buildings.  I would love to have seen life in this tiny town when the hotel was still occupied and the opera house was the place to be on Saturday night.

It's about a 6 hour drive for us, but on Memorial Day weekend we can always count on it being a bit longer.  We ran across a few storms on the way over, which produced many amazing rainbows.

See that little dot out there in the distance?  That's Harrington.  Don't blink, or you'll miss it!

For $155,000 this beautiful old Victorian home could be yours! There is a part of me, which really longs to live in a small town, where life is a little slower paced.

Happy Memorial Day!
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Darn Good Birthday Cake and Home and Family Friday.

I made my favorite chocolate cake recipe today. 
It's a little sneak peek for my teaching partner.  Tomorrow is her unbirthday.  It's the non-student Friday before her birthday, so it's the day we celebrate her birthday.  Confused?  All you really need to know is that we'll be eating cake tomorrow afternoon.  To all of my teacher friends who may be reading this, stop by in the afternoon!

It's time for Home and Family Friday!  Link up your favorite project from the week.  I'd love it if you'd grab my button and become a Follower.  Blogger is having issues with the Follower button today, so if you can't find it, that's why.

Happy Friday before Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Few Outdoor Projects

Last weekend was filled with yard work.  I showed you my really expensive sod earlier in the week.  Here is a formerly empty flower bed in my front yard.  I usually plant this area with annuals, but it gets expensive to buy all of those plants every year.  Instead, this year, I planted a few perennials and about a quarter of the annuals I usually do.  I'm really happy with the way this turned out.  I can't wait until the flowers fill in!

Here's a little nook close to my shed.  My mother-in-law bought the planter for me several years ago.  I love the way the flowers fill in and look like one giant mass of impatients.  I also hung an antique pitch fork on the fence and hung a flower basket from the top.  Country Gardens magazine always features gardeners with cute things like this hanging from their fences, so I thought I'd try it too.  I planted impatients in that planter too.  I have to say, I'm feeling impatient for my impatients to start growing.

I've been busy with a little of this too.  We actually had THREE dry days IN A ROW!!!  We put the chair cushions out, put our feet up, and roasted marshmallows.  Ahhh.  It's starting to feel like Spring.

Happy Wednesday!
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Well, That Was Expensive Sod

Remember this picture I shared from Country Gardens Magazine?  This is my dream shed.  I love the color, landscaping, and cottage feel.

This was the empty space where my hubby and I decided we could put a shed. It was an unused corner of our yard.  This was the way it looked when we moved in.  You could tell there was grass there at one time, but no plants or landscaping. 

Phase one began last summer.  We had to level out the ground, by digging down about  two feet.  Digging out two feet of clay is not an easy job. Phew, it's a good thing "we" are strong.  Ok, I'll fess up.  I don't think I ever lifted a shovel during phase one.  My hubby and 10 year old did this part on their own.  Then "we" built a short retaining wall to hold the fence up.

We found this shed, online, at costco.com.  It was a screaming deal!  It was under $1,000, with free delivery.  If you've ever shopped for sheds, you know how expensive they can be.

Next, came paint.  I thought a lovely lavender would be great...

Just kidding. That was just the primer. We actually went with a red shed and gray door, just the like the picture in the magazine.

This is what the shed area looked like on Friday morning:

Did you notice that the SUN is shining through the trees?  It was a HUGE day in the Seattle area.  Not only did we have sunshine, but we also hit 70 degrees!  My hubby and I both took the day off, as did most office workers on this side of the state.

We borrowed my sister's truck and brought in dirt and sod. It was a small area, so we didn't need too much sod.

By the end of the day, phase 2 was complete. Phase 3 will be landscaping, but that will have to wait for a while.
Cooper really loves his new grass too.

If you're still with me, you might be wondering why the title was about really expensive sod.

Well, we had a little mishap with the truck we borrowed from my sister.

Apparently, it was a diesel truck.  Unleaded gas doesn't work so well in a diesel.  For the record, even the tow truck driver looked all around for any sign that said DIESEL.  Nothing.  I don't foresee my new landscape happening in the near future.  We now have a truck repair to pay for.
At least we're one step closer to the dream.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Name is Becca and I'm Addicted to Blogging - My New Blog

I started this blog over a year ago. I love to do projects around the house, cook, bake, sew, garden, refinish furniture, and let my kids help with all of my projects. I thought this blog would be a great place to share my projects and practice my new hobby of photography.  It has been so much fun!  I've made many new friends and have had really fun conversations about all things home related with my in-real-life-friends.  This blog has been a really good thing.  It still surprises me that people care about what I had for dinner or the fabric I bought over the weekend, but they do!  I have had over 100,000 hits on my blog, not including people who read through a reader, like google, and I now have over 450 followers. Wow!

Once I discovered the power of sharing through words and photos with Blogger, I took my blogging life to work with me.

Hilltop Kindergarten Kids
I started Hilltop Kindergarten Kids because we don't have money to send parent letters anymore.  The copy costs for parent letters are too high.  My weekly emails were boring and ugly.  I decided that a classroom blog would be a great way to tell parents about the projects we are working on in class, and also be able to share photos.  Most of the parents in my class work full time, and don't get to see what goes on in kindergarten.

That brings me to my newest blog.  (I told you I was addicted!)

Love, Laughter, and Literacy

Love, Laughter, and Literacy combines my passion for home and family with my love for teaching and early childhood..  I believe all kids need to experience life like it is a field trip. Literacy development is the sum of all of our experiences.  I love to plan learning experiences for my kids.  The more my kids experience, the more background knowledge they will have when it comes to reading and writing.

 In my new blog, I share experiences to have with your kids, favorite children's books, and great products which promote literacy development. 

Here is a display of garden books.  My daughter is loving these right now!  Just by rotating favorite books and finding special nooks, I've created interest in some new books and tied it into the work we are doing outside right now.

I owe this literacy activity to my daughter's teacher.  The recipe for the strawberry shortcake came straight from the book my daughter's teacher sent home.  She now has a connection to this text that she will never forget.  Not only was it fun, but educational too!
I hope you'll join me in creating fun activities, which are "project-like" in nature.  Our homes reflect the things we value.  To show that we value reading, writing, art, creativity, nature, and outdoor play, we need to create a home environment which promotes these things.  Come on over and play!

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Easy Blueberry Coffee Cake

Several years ago my hubby was going to make a coffee cake for Mother's Day. He googled "easy coffee cake" and found this recipe. It has been a family favorite ever since.


1 box vanilla cake mix
1 (3.12 oz) box of vanilla instant pudding
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup water
Beat ingredients together until thoroughly mixed.

Streussel Topping:

1 package (9 full) graham crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick plus 3 TBSP melted butter
1 1/2 cup pecans (optional)
2 tsp cinnamon
Put all ingredients into a Ziploc bag. Close it and roll with a rolling pin. Add melted butter and mixed it up.

Pour half of the batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with fresh blueberries (optional) and half of the streussel topping. Add the remaining batter, more blueberries, and finish with the rest of the streussel topping. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Drizzle with icing. I make mine with powdered sugar and a little bit of milk.

Happy baking!
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cake Pops and Home and Family Friday

How cute are these? I'd love to say I made them, but they were not my creation.  Two of my teacher friends made them.  I can't wait to try this out.  They baked a cake and then smooshed it.  (That's the technical term.) Then they added a can of frosting to the cake crumbles and mixed all together.  They rolled them into balls and popped them into the freezer for a bit.  Sticks, a few candy melts, and some decorations finished them off.  They made it sound so easy and I'm sure it probably took FOREVER, but boy were we happy teachers on Fat Wednesday.  (Wednesday is treat day in the staff room at school, thus the name.) Oh, and I'd like to thank a few other teacher friends who took these outside and took pictures.  I prefer natural light in photos.  So cute!  I can't wait to make these for my kids!

We're on to Home and Family Friday.  Link up those projects.  We'd love to see the creations around your home or with your family.  I'd be so happy if you'd grab my button and become a follower.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cream Cheese, Pesto, and Sundried Tomato Spread

My friend, Diane, had a birthday over the weekend. When I was thinking about what to bring to her party, my mind immediately went to a large meat tray. No, just kidding. Diane's a vegetarian. Really, I was thinking about tomatoes and basil. I know she loves that combination. Here's the spread I came up with, using ingredients I had in my fridge.

2 Blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 clove of garlic, minced
A few fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Mix together.
Spread the cream cheese mixture on a small platter.
Add a layer of pesto,
then a half cup of chopped sundried tomatoes.
Add a little fresh basil to the top, just to make it pretty.
Serve with crackers, toasted bread rounds, or pita crackers.

If I make this again, I'll rinse the sundried tomatoes. They were a little oily.

Happy cooking and happy birthday, Diane!
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Monday, May 16, 2011

A Great Garage Sale Find

Is there any 6 year old girl on the face of the earth who isn't in love with horses? My daughter usually brings her ponies out when she's playing with her Barbies and the princess castle. We were out at the neighborhood garage sales today and ran across this beautiful horse barn.

The roof even comes off so little girls can easily reach in and pet their ponies.

This is a beautiful, heavy, wooden barn by Breyer. I found one on e-bay for $200. We paid.... drum roll please.... $15!

My daughter has been having SO much fun playing with her new barn! Oh, how I love garage sales!
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Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The New Kitchen Valances

I was so sad to miss my own party on Friday! Blogger wasn't working on Thursday night or Friday morning, so I wasn't able to post the linky party. Here's the project I was planning to share on Friday.

I finally got around to sewing my new valances in the kitchen! I LOVE the way they turned out. I bought the fabric from Calico corners a few months ago. The valances are lined with the cheapest muslin I could find. The tie-ups are made from a few burlap scraps.

There.  The kitchen is done.
Here is another post about the kitchen with before and after photos.
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Here are a few linky parties I like to participate in.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Planting!

We haven't really had a "Spring" in the Pacific Northwest.  It's been cold and rainy, with no sign of Spring coming our way too soon.  Like a true Northwesterner, I've been out planting in the rain. 

It's way too cold and wet to plant basil outside, so my indoor basil pot has made a return appearance.

 The cold weather veggies are doing great!  Hey, look quickly!  The sun came out!
My burlap and wire planter is planted with yellow flowers again.

This dahlia was from one of my favorite kindergarten students.  It found a home in an empty planter on my deck.

Happy planting!
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