Friday, February 26, 2010

I’m in Trouble Now!


Look what arrived today:



This is our first year selling cookies…I’m not a big fan.  Of selling, that is.  Cookies, I like. 

We were sort of chastised for not making the individual quota (trouble #1).  I’m sorry, but I’m not a salesperson, and I’m not going to take my 7-yr-old daughter door-to-door.  We did the best we could with people we know, and actually, I didn’t think we did too bad.

We, of course, got several boxes for ourselves, and let me just say that the Lemon Chalet Cremes and the Dulce de Leche are really good (trouble #2). 

Here’s an informal poll for you:

  • Were you a Girl Scout?  (me: no)
  • As a scout, did you like/do well at cookie selling time?
  • What’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Little Home Cookin’

For various reasons, I haven’t been doing too many Souper Saturdays this year, and I kind of miss it.  That’s not to say we haven’t had any soup…recently I made a big pot of ham and bean that was so good, I decided to share.

Ham and beans are a comfort food to me; my mom used to make it when I was growing up, but thick and not soupy.  I had never tried it myself until a couple of years ago.  I had a ham bone in the freezer and used this Basic Ham and Bean Soup recipe, with a few tweaks and great success.

This time around I had another ham bone in the freezer from a spiral ham we had back in the fall.  Basically, I considered that free, since it was inedible on its own.  A 2lb bag of Great Northern beans at Aldi is $2; I used 1/2 of that for this recipe.  So even including pantry items like onions and seasonings, it cost under $2 for a huge pot of soup that fed the five of us supper, plus several individual lunches.  Economical, delicious, and super easy…that’s a keeper!

beans source

The night before rinse a pound of dried white beans, then cover with water and let soak overnight.  In the morning, drain and put in the crockpot.  Cover with water, or with a combination of water and chicken broth.  Add the ham bone, chopped onion, chopped carrot, chopped celery, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp mustard powder, and a couple of bay leaves.  Turn the crockpot on low and get on with your day.

carrots source

Later in the afternoon, the meat should be falling off the bone.  Take out the bone and remove the meat, chop it up and put it back in the pot.  If there is fat, skim off as much as you can.  Depending on how thick you like it, you may need to add more water or broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  That’s it!

ham-bean-soup source

Serve with cornbread and a salad—yum!  Even the kids rated it at 8 to 9 out of 10.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


In the past ten years, because we moved so often, I got to the point of being able to decorate my house and be done with it within a few months of moving in.  We’re coming up on two years in this house, and much of it is still basically untouched from the day we moved in.

Maybe it’s because we plan to be here for the foreseeable future, and so I’m more afraid of making a mistake, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint what I want to do decor-wise around here.  More specifically, my ideas have changed several times.

Several months ago I became enamored with Holly’s all-white style at Life in the Fun Lane.


I was even working towards that end, but have since come to realize that it just ain’t gonna happen.  I have carpet, not dark wood floors, I don’t have soaring ceilings and wide open spaces; it just wouldn’t look the same in my house.

I also got all excited about this bedroom from Sarah Richardson.  I do still really like the basic look, but my furniture is different, and my budget is certainly different.  So again, I’m not sure that I’d be able to pull it off.


I totally fell in love with this stairway, and the horizontal planks specifically.  Now I’m seeing planked walls everywhere; seriously, next time you pick up a decorating magazine or catalog you’ll see what I mean.  I still love it, but I don’t know where I would put it in my house, or if it would look totally weird to have this in a new suburban house.

stairs source

Where am I going with this?  I’m not sure, except to say that I’m stumped.  There is so much great inspiration out there, both professional and through blogs.  I see a lot of things that I like, but right now I’m having trouble putting it together in a way that will work for my house.  Maybe I’m trying too hard.

How have you found a cohesive look for your home that you love?  Or have you?  Is your decor just sort of accidental?  What works for you?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Featured Blog: Bibbidi Bobbidi Beautiful

Today I’d like to introduce you to Pam of Bibbidi Bobbidi Beautiful. Pam is seriously talented with a sewing machine and decorating in general, and her blog is full of great projects.

I love the pretty bedroom she put together for her daughters. I can imagine lots of giggles coming from this room!


Pam used cushions that she made for the headboards.jbed

You won’t believe the difference she made in her master bath for only $8!! Check out the “before” and see how she did it.bathwindow

This sofa is a real Cinderella story…Pam made this gorgeous slipcover with her own two hands! I’m in awe! And a little bit jealous. But lucky for us, she shares her know-how with a slipcover tutorial.


She also made the pillows, and even slipcovered her coffee table! I’m loving the pleated skirts on both pieces.coffeetable

I’m not going to tell you what she used to make this footstool; you wouldn’t believe me anyway! I will say that this is one of the most creative and resourceful ideas I’ve seen in some time. Alright, I’ll give you a hint: you can get it in the produce department at the grocery store. Pam tells you how to make your own with this tutorial. (Oh look, more pleats!)crate

And this is where the magic happens: Pam recently prettied up her craft space. I think anyone would be encouraged to be a little more crafty if they had a spot like this!crafttable

Please visit Bibbidi Bobbidi Beautiful and get to know Pam. I know you will be inspired by her!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Confessions of a Lazy Mom and Housewife

Today, I’m going to show you some raw reality at my house.  Sometimes, I let things slide.  Sometimes, I’m just plain lazy.  Prepare yourself…it’s not pretty.

I still have Christmas ornaments on my kitchen counter, because I forgot them when we were packing up the Christmas stuff, and now the boxes are somewhere in the basement, and I don’t want to go dig them out.


These locker bins at the bottom of the stairs are supposed to corral the kids’ things that I pick up during the day, and they are supposed to put it all away each night.  In reality, this is how it looks much of the time because they don’t do it, and I don’t make them.


On the other side of the same table is kind of a dumping pad for things that need to go down to the basement.  In reality, things can sit here for weeks before someone actually takes them down.  I don’t take it down because the basement is so messy, I avoid it at all costs.  Which also partially explains the Christmas ornaments on the counter.


On the top of the entertainment center is a collection of mostly thing the dogs have been chewing on.  Craig sets them up there when he takes them away from the dogs.  I cannot break him of this habit, and I do not take them down, because I can’t reach it and would have to get a stepstool or something, and besides, he put them there, right?


I have one sad houseplant that only gets watered when it’s mostly dead, like this.  It’s a hardy plant, because it has survived this treatment for a year.  If I were to cut off the dead leaves and water it, it would perk right up and fill out again.  I’ll get around to it, one of these days.  Maybe.


When I sent my kids out to catch the bus this morning, it was 29 degrees, and there’s snow in today’s forecast.  They were wearing a jean jacket and an unzipped sweatshirt.  This happens pretty much every morning; they tell me they aren’t cold, I make a half-hearted attempt to get them to put on their winter coats, and they go out like this anyway.  I can just imagine what the school thinks of me.

(I read a book once that touted natural consequences, the implication being if you let them go without a coat once, they would decide not to do it again because they’d be too cold.  It didn’t work.)


So, what do you think of me now?

Melissa alerted me to Fess Up Friday, so I’m going to join!fess-up-friday-final-button1-300x274

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thanks for Coming!

That was an awesome party—I’m still recovering!  Thanks so much for participating.  Every time I refreshed the page there were new links!  I also got several comments about what wonderful party guests you were, and how nice it was that everyone made a lot of visits and left a lot of comments.  So again, thank you….that’s what a linky party is all about!

I’m going to showcase just a few of the wonderful projects you all did:

Inspired by some vintage typewriter prints from PB, Pam at Bibbidi Bobbidi Beautiful made these stretched canvas prints for her sewing area.


The Rustic Wall Organizer was the inspiration for Becky’s bulletin board at Beyond the Picket Fence.


Remember the numbered jars PB had not too long ago?  Nancy at Nancy’s Tidbits recreated them.  I like her vintage version better!


N at The Cozy Chateau built these bookshelves by herself!  She got the plans from the amazing Ana at Knock Off Wood.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her, as several of you used her plans to build PB inspired furniture.


I’m seriously impressed with all your creativity and resourcefulness.  We are not PB haters…to the contrary, we love Pottery Barn, just  not the prices, so we get busy and create it ourselves!  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

This was a such a success that I’m thinking of repeating it, maybe on a regular basis.  Maybe it wouldn’t be limited to PB, though.  We like Ballard Designs and Restoration Hardware too!  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pottery Barn Knock-Off Party!!

I now host a Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, Restoration Hardware Knock-Off  Party every last Thursday of the month.  See this post for more details.  I hope you will join me!

It’s time to par-tay!! Those of you with Pottery Barn taste but a thrift store budget are invited to link up with your handmade Pottery Barn knock-offs. Use an old post if you have to, but I know there’s a lot of you out there who, like me, use the PB catalog as a source of inspiration rather than a shopping guide.

My project for today was inspired by a trip to the actual store, but I couldn’t find it in the catalog or online. Fortunately, I had my camera with me (is that allowed? I wasn’t really sure, so I used it surreptitiously).
These moss topiaries were all over the store, both round and cone shaped.


They had a burlap-and-twine wrapped base. I didn’t look at the price, since at the time I didn’t know this would be my project, but I’m guessing they were more than the $2-$3 I spent.


First stop: Dollar Tree, where I picked up floral foam blocks and a couple of packages of moss. DT only sells teeny-tiny foam balls, and a big one even at Walmart is nearly $3, so I had to shape these myself, because I’m so cheap frugal.


After cutting of the corners and edges with a knife, I used a file to shape.


I originally thought I would just coat the foam with ModPodge and roll it in the moss, but that didn’t work very well at all. I ended up using spray adhesive to pack the moss on.


Then I had Craig cut some chunks of wood for me and drill a hole in them. Because I’m such a procrastinator, he did it last night while he really wanted to be watching “24”, and it was getting late and I needed to get this post up, so I only got two finished.


After adding a twig from the back yard, and wrapping the base in burlap, I was finished, and now I have a little touch of nature for my home.


Now, I’m dying to see what fabulousness you came up with!
1. Enter the link to your specific PB Knock-off post, not your blog homepage.
2. Please use my button in your post (code is on my top right sidebar). If you use the code, the button will link back to my blog; if you don’t use the code, you will also need to include a link back to me.
3. Please visit the other party participants and leave them a comment.
4. Please put your link in the comments section as well, just in case.
(I'm also going to link up with DIY Day at Kimba's)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Featured Blog: FrouFrouBritches

Today I’m beginning a new feature: on Mondays I will be highlighting various blogs which may be of interest to you. We all work hard on our blogs, and sometimes a little recognition can make our day.

Tanya from FrouFrouBritches has agreed to be my guinea pig in this venture. We recently discovered that we are only one day apart in age (I’m younger…just sayin’), so I feel a certain commonality with her. She is a fairly new blogger, just nicely getting started, and she posts frequently. Please visit her blog, look around, and be sure to leave a comment!

First off, the name. Tanya has an etsy shop by the same name where she sells super cute kids’ clothing that she sews. Her adorable daughter models one of her creations here:


She also uses her sewing skills for crafty goodness, like this fun dishtowel she whipped up for Valentine’s. (I’m a sucka for ric-rac!)


The use of red in this towel isn’t just because of Valentine’s; it’s also her favorite color. She recently confessed that she has been searching for the perfect red to paint her kitchen and living with several test swatches on the wall for over a year. Happily, it appears that she has finally settled on one, because she painted her dining room this weekend. She shares her new walls and tells how she made her old frames work with the new color in yesterday’s post.


Tanya is a southern gal with a soft spot for the old days and the sound of a screen door slamming takes her back to her childhood summers. When I read her post about it, I could totally hear the creak and slam of many a door from my own childhood.

For an overview in Tanya’s own words about her and her blog, read her entry in Amanda’s Why My Blog Rocks party, appropriately titled Why My Blog Rocks. Please drop by and show Tanya some support!

Don’t forget…party here tomorrow! Please link up with your Pottery Barn re-creations, new or old. (pleaseohpleaseohplease!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

From Dilemma to Delightful

3/10/10 Linking up with Amanda's Show Me the Progress party.

I got a lot of great suggestions from everybody at Wednesday’s Decorating Dilemmas party. Thank you so much for your input! I’ve already made some changes, and I’m very happy with it.

First of all, I just have to tell you how much I love having the couch facing the fireplace! We have used this room more in the last two days than in the whole previous month. For two evenings in a row, we have sat in this room around the fire, instead of around the TV in the living room. That by itself is fantastic!

I’m going to show you before and after pictures. Don’t feel bad if I didn’t use your suggestions. Really, everybody had some wonderful ideas! But, this, as I said, is a seasonal arrangement; once we stop using the fireplace I’ll put it back the other way. So for now, anyway, I just wanted some fast free fixes. I’m happy to report that no money was spent!

Once again, here is the original arrangement, which will now be the warm weather layout.


And here is the new arrangement, about which I asked for advice.


Most people said go ahead and try the round coffee table since I already had it. Several people said I needed some color. I was purposely going for a neutral look in here, but agreed that a pop of color could add to the cozy factor.

Here it is now (sorry: bad nighttime photos, and ignore the piles of books in each corner).




After:IMG_5249I moved the drop-leaf table (not a favorite, but it’s what I have for now) to the other side of the room and moved the chair closer to the fireplace. Brought in a lamp from the other room with a red shade I hadn’t been using, which is what started the red theme. Switched the big coffee table for the smaller round one and put my red Coke crate on it. Switched the books on the mantel to red (not sold on those yet).

And, covered the broken zipper with a throw! You people are brilliant!!



After:IMG_5248The drop-leaf table was relocated to the empty spot under the plates. Added my little red telephone to the vignette…I haven’t been able to bring myself to list it in my etsy shop yet! Don’t know that the family photo will stay there, but it does have red in it!



I love it! It fulfills my need for cozy and looks good! So, thanks again.

Oh, and at some point we will go ahead and get a ceiling fan. This room is hot in summer, and in the winter the heat from the fireplace goes straight to the ceiling. I never did understand why they were so maligned, anyway.

Don’t forget, the party is on Tuesday! Get your project done this weekend (or if you’re me…get started!).