Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hoppy Leap Day!

Happy Hoppy Leap Day, friends!  I'm in charge of birthday cupcakes for the staff at my school this month.  Our day for cupcakes happened to fall on February 29th, Leap Day.  My cupcake partner thought it would be cute to do a frog theme, since it's Leap Day.  I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do, so I headed to Pinterest for a little inspiration.  I love Pinterest!

 My cupcakes didn't turn out quite a cute as the Pinterest version, but does anything?
Hoppy Leap Day!
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Antique Picnic Basket

A few months ago, I was delighted, as I was browsing Goodwill. I came across this adorable picnic basket.

I love old picnic baskets. I can't honestly say that I've ever taken one on a picnic, but I just love the way they look around the house. They are perfect for hiding a magazine pile or storing an old quilt. I always imagine my grandparents taking a basket like this on a picnic to the beach. When my grandma moved from her home to a retirement center, I think we found about five picnic baskets in her garage. I have several of her baskets, but I couldn't resist buying this one too. It was $6.00, and I thought that was a pretty good deal.

I had seen baskets like this at antique stores, usually selling for $15-$20. I don't really make purchases like this, thinking I'm going to sell it and get make a little extra money. If I buy something old or antique, it's because I like the look and think it will add character to my home.

I can't tell you how excited I was, when my Country Living magazine arrived this month.  See the basket on top of the fridge?

Here's a closer view.

It's my basket!  I wonder what's hiding in that basket.

Happy decorating!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Home and Family Friday

At last week's linky party, the organized pantry post caught my eye.  By looking at the numbers, it caught your eye too.  Check out Favorite Little Princess to see the whole post.

I love it when bloggers show us the good...

and the not-so-good. 
Hey, it's only step1 of her pantry organization.

I can't wait to see what you have to link up this week. We like to see recipes, crafts, room makeovers, sewing projects, kid related stuff, or anything you've been doing around your home or with your family. I'd love it if you'd become a follower and grab my button. While you're at it, I'm on Facebook and Pinterest too! You can click on the buttons that are on the right side of the blog to take you there.

Home Is Where My Story Begins Is On Facebook

Home Is Where My Story Begins is up and running on Facebook!  I've been a little under the weather for the past few days.  I've been sitting and resting.  I don't sit and rest well.  I'm thankful for my laptop.

Click on the Facebook button, on the right hand side of my blog.  I'd love it if you'd like me.  I asked my in-real-life-friends to like me too.  Apparently, I only have 20 in-real-life-friends.  Maybe I have more bloggy friends out there who will like me. (Not that I don't really appreciate those 20 IRLF's.)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Family Room

Yesterday, I shared the story of how we decided we needed new furniture for the family room.  I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have furniture that you don't sink into, and doesn't have plywood hidden underneath for support.

Here's the new couch!  The minute we sat in this couch, we stopped looking.  It was perfect.  I wasn't sold on the orangey/red color on display in the store, (even though I loved the color)  But, when we saw this fabric swatch, it was a done deal.

I love the tufting on the back!  The couch kind of reminds me of a tailored suit, but once you add the tufting and pillows, it feels soft again. The fluffy, brown, Goodwill blanket helps add a little warmth too. (I washed it a few times in very hot water when I brought it home.  I know some of you are thinking that buying a blanket at Goodwill is just gross.)

Before we bought the couch, I made pillow covers and new slipcovers for the ottomans ottomen ottomans.  (I think I'll stick with ottomans on that one.)

The couch fabric almost looks like a blend of the chair, slipcover, and recliner fabrics.  It's a mixture of gold and brown.

I'd like you to meet Sparky. Sparky The Chair is the Christmas present I bought for my hubby.  My mother-in-law was always saying how we needed a good recliner to relax in.  I've never been a huge fan of big, bulky, recliner chairs, but the more I thought about it, the more I agreed that my hubby needed a comfy chair to relax in at the end of the day.  I found this chair at Macy's, during the after Thanksgiving sale, and it was delivered just after Christmas.  The very day it was delivered, my daughter was sitting in it, when the power reclining mechanism sparked and caught fire!  It quickly went out, but it scared the living daylights out of me.  We looked around for a replacement chair, but just couldn't find anything we liked as well as Sparky.  So, we ordered a new Sparky, after Macy's reassured us that they've never heard of this happening before.

A while back, I got the itch to repaint this room.  It used to be a warm yellow, with burgundy drapes.  It was very warm and pretty, but Pinterest showed me that all of the rooms I was pinning were light and bright.  So, the walls went light and the drop cloths came out of the garage.  I need to add a little length to the panels, so the ruffler foot on my sewing machine is going to be coming into the picture soon.  I'm excited for that little project!

I'd like to make this corner into a game area. I'm thinking I'd like to find a REALLY small, round, table and two Parson's chairs.  The Parson's chairs would also be used in the dining room, when we need more seating.  The table will be perfect for taking pictures (the lighting is great in that corner) and playing cards with a kid or two.  I found the perfect table, during Christmas time, at Goodwill.  I had to leave it there, because I couldn't imagine another project during that time of the year and I had no where to put it at the time.  I'll keep looking.

This next area is a work in progress too.  I love the picture wall, but I'm in the process of finding new pictures for the frames.  Since everything else in the room is in the neutral, brown and white tones, I changing all of the photos to sepia.  I have a few photos picked out, but I still need to find many more.  The little table is temporary too.  It's a table I use on the deck in the summer.  I brought it in because I didn't have anything better to put in between the chairs.

Cookie, the bunny, gets to live in the corner of the family room.  She likes it there.  She's always in the action in the family room!

So, that's the new space!  I still have a few more projects to go (including restaining that door in a darker brown) but, my house is a constant work in progress.  I love the way this room feels now.  It's light, bright, open, and inviting.  We have plenty of floor space to play Wii or Uno Attack. (I dominate in Uno Attack, by the way!)  The dog and the bunny love sprawling out on the family room floor, when we're all playing a game.  It's also the perfect room to curl up in a comfy spot, on a Saturday morning.  It's my happy place!
Happy decorating!

Here are a few linky parties!
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Old Couches - SOLD

I bought my hubby a new chair for the family room as his Christmas present.  (pictures coming soon)  That lead to a problem.  We had too much furniture to fit into the family room.  I was planning to just donate the loveseat to Goodwill, and then we'd have room for everything.  Well, he had a better idea!  The day after Christmas we went couch shopping.  He thought (and I whole heartedly agreed) that it was time for a new couch.  Our couch and loveseat were 16 years old, faded blue denim, covered by slipcovers to mask the problems.


I'm not much of an impulse shopper, but we walked into the first store, sat down on this couch, and I had made my decision.  This couch was perfect.  It was the perfect size, perfect tufting, and perfect level of firmness.  The color was a little on the orange side, but then we found the color swatches.  They had the PERFECT neutral for our family room.  It's kind of a light chocolate color.  I love it.  We had to wait almost two months to have it made and delivered, but that gave me lots of time to try to sell our old set.

I listed our old set on Craigslist, week after week.  No luck.  Finally, after our new couch had arrived, and we had two sets of furniture in the living room, I listed the couches for dirt cheap.  Within 20 minutes, I had a taker.  It was at this point that I decided I will never make a good business person.  The lady on the phone told me that she had taken in her grandsons, twins aged 14, and a 7 year old.  She didn't have beds for them and they were sleeping on the floor.  She was going to use the hide-a-bed for the bigger boys to sleep on, and the loveseat as the younger boy's bed.  She couldn't afford to pay me right now, but wanted to know if I would hold them for her until payday.  Needless to say, I invited her to pick up the couches the next day and pay significantly less than the dirt cheap asking price. 

Like I said, I'm not a good business person, but at least I feel like a good person.

Hopefully, I'll have some new pictures of the updated family room tomorrow.  I've been a little under the weather today, so we'll just have to see.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

Dinner is served!

No, it's not this pile of cheese.  Keep reading for a great mac and cheese recipe!



1 pound elbow macaroni

1 quart milk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups Smoked Gouda Cheese, grated
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup Panko bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook noodles as directed on package and drain well.
Meanwhile, melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large pan, over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour in.  This makes a sticky, gooey mess.  Slowly add in the milk, but don't boil it.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.  Add the Gouda, Cheddar, and salt and pepper to taste. (I always grate my own cheese.  The pre grated cheese doesn't seem to melt well for me.  It kind of reminds me of plastic.)  Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a large baking dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Combine them with 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

We served our mac and cheese with homemade chicken strips and a fresh green salad.

My favorite variation of this mac and cheese is the addition of crab.  My kids and hubby think it's too rich.  I think that's crazy talk.

Happy cooking!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ruffled Kitchen Towels For Great Grandma

My hubby's grandma is turning 89 this year.  What do you get someone who has everything they need?  We decided we'd get her a colorful potted plant and I'd make something pretty to add to the gift.

I bought kitchen towel fabric at the fabric store.  It comes in so many different colors, and Grandma loves peach.  The width is perfect for kitchen towels, so all you have to do is cut it to the length you want, and hem the short edges.

This was the perfect opportunity to embellish with my ruffler foot attachment on my sewing machine. I made the ruffle first, sewing it directly to the towel fabric as I went along.  I'm telling you, that ruffler foot is the coolest sewing tool ever!  It was so easy!  Then I had a raw edge that I had to cover.  I decided a coordinating band of fabric would be the perfect way to cover the raw edge and add a little more color and detail.

I stitched the band onto the towel, as close to the edge as I could.  I used contrasting thread because I was too lazy to change the thread in my sewing machine I really like the look of contrasting thread on projects like these.

Apparently, I should have used steam when I ironed the towels.  Those wrinkles are driving me crazy!  Hopefully, Great Grandma will love these.  I was happy with the way they turned out!

Happy ruffling!
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Home and Family Friday

Did you see those chalkboard labels last week? You can see the whole post at DIY, Dollars, and Sense.

I love this wall of jars!

I also loved this bag from Blissful Sewing!

I can't wait to see what you've been working on this week!

Link up your projects.  We love to see recipes, home decor, craft projects, or anything you're doing around your home or with your family. I would love it if you'd become a follower and grab my button. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things We Love

Happy Valentine's Day!
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The Quilt is Done

As I've mentioned before, this Pottery Barn inspired quilt was about 10 years in the making. When my son got the itch to redo his bedroom, last summer, I finally got my act together and started making it.

The fabrics are from a quilt shop that is no longer in business, but they are men's shirting material. I decided to go with a simple "x" pattern for the quilting.

In the pictures, the quilt looks very blue, but there is actually quite a bit of orange in the fabrics.

Happy sewing!
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Sugar Cookies For My Valentines

I make sugar cookies for just about every occasion. My daughter had a friend over on Saturday, so it was the perfect opportunity for some cookie decorating.

I didn't have any pink or purple sanding sugar on hand, and of course the girls only wanted pink and purple. I usually buy my sanding sugar from Williams Sonoma, because I love the bright colors. With a little sugar, food coloring, and an empty Ziploc, I made my own sanding sugar and it turned out great.

A cup of sugar and one or two drops of food coloring is all you need. Shake it all together, in a Ziploc, until there are no lumps of color.

My color wasn't as vivid at the color from Williams Sonoma, but it sure was less expensive!

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Here's the recipe for the sugar cookies, if you haven't seen it before.

Happy baking!
Happy Valentine's Day too!
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