Thursday, March 31, 2011

Favorite Things #8

Several months ago I bought this pillow from That Funky Boutique and I love everything about it.  I love that it's made from an old sweater, I love that it looks like a flower and I love that it is round!  And because I love it so, I put it on one of my favorite spots in the house- my window seat!  

When we renovated the kitchen it was suggested to me that we put a window seat under the large bay windows.  We did and I am ever so glad!  It's a spot to read, nap, play with dolls and chat with whoever is in the kitchen.  The window seat also gave me an opportunity to use another favorite thing- my bow sconces!  These were picked up at an antique shop years before I ever had the opportunity to use them.  For me, bows never get old!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lovely Flowers

Every year we have a week where a particular corner in our town becomes truly exceptional.  Under a gigantic, beautiful tree, thousands of purple flowers burst into bloom to create a carpet of flowers.  It's so very lovely.  Happy Spring!

P.S.  I just know that a better photographer than I could truly capture the beauty of this corner but I just don't have that skill yet.  Hopefully someday!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spice Cabinet

Several weeks ago, I started "The Great Clean-Out."  I've decided to leave no cupboard, surface or bin untouched in my effort to organize and purge!  One of the first things that I cleaned out was my spice cupboard because it was in desperate need of some help!

Years and years ago, I bought the spice set from the now defunct Martha Stewart Catalogue for Living.  The spices came in little round tins and sat on a shelf on the countertop.  However, when we renovated the kitchen I had a pull out cabinet put in specifically for my spices because I didn't want to clutter my counters (though one could argue that they are indeed still cluttered!).

I still use the tins because I find them to be much more convenient to use rather than the bottles that many spices come in (any size measuring spoon will fit!).  The problem was that the names of the spices were on the front of the tin, in teeny tiny print, and I was looking down from the top.

My solution was to put chalkboard labels on the top of each spice tin.  The chalkboard label also allows me to put the date that the tin was refilled.  Did you know that dry spices are supposedly only good for a year?  I got the labels from the Etsy seller Natural Esscentials .  She was very helpful and let me order the exact number of labels I needed!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's Here...

My husband is a huge Apple fan.  My friend Gretchen jokes that she is sure that someday she will drive by our house to find the Apple symbol hoisted up on our house as a homage to his beloved brand.  For all of our married life we have had Apple products, and I honestly can't imagine not having a Mac for our computer(s).  It took a lot of self control for Bryce not to buy the iPad when it was first released, but he does not like to buy the first generation of anything.  But believe me when I tell you he was up very early to order this second generation ipad.

It has arrived.

And he is happy.

P.S.  I really love the quote Bryce had inscribed on the back.  It perfectly captures my thoughts on education!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rainy Day Tea

Yesterday morning we woke up to a bit of snow.  Snow!  The snow then turned to rain and drizzle- all day long.  When I picked the children up from school this afternoon, Grace was a little down.  I think a little bit of it was the rain and a lot of it was that she was missing her Dad who has been out of town (not for long, but long enough for her!).

We decided that an indoor rainy day tea party/picnic was in order!  Using our tea book we came up with a few ideas and then got busy in the kitchen.

Rainy Day Menu
Cloud Cookies
Sunshiny Drizzle Cake
Mudslides (hot cocoa)

Grace and Harris made the cloud cookies and mudcakes and I made the lemon pound cake, which was very easy and very tasty!  From start to finish the prep took about 30 to 40 minutes, but everything did require some cooking or chilling time.

At the last minute I decided that a rainy day tea party should include a rainbow.  Luckily, I had leftover Twizzlers from St. Patrick's Day!

I didn't get any pictures of the children and I enjoying our picnic except for this one of Harris.  I made a concerted effort to put the camera down and be present for our party!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Washer/Dryer Top

Last year when I shared our basement laundry room my Mom jokingly gave me a hard time for posting about my laundry room but never showing the washer and dryer!  As you may remember, our laundry room is not really a finished space but rather a spruced up part of our basement (which is more like a cellar).  I didn't show the washer/dryer because it is literally just a washer/dryer sitting in front of a cement wall (that is not even painted a cute color).  Pretty boring stuff.

However, we recently added a top to the washer and dryer and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!  I've been wanting a stainless steel shelf on top of the machines for a while but several things have stopped me.  1. I didn't know where to go to get a piece of stainless steel  2. The imagined cost  and 3.  Laziness (as in not bothering to find out answers to the first two questions!).

One day while flipping through my Martha Stewart Living I saw a washer and dryer topped with just what I was looking for.  I almost fainted when I flipped to the resources section and discovered that it was IKEA.  In one full swoop all of my reasons for not getting a top were flung out the window.

The top is the Vika Hyttan at Ikea and it works beautifully.  It gives me a really nice place to fold clothes and to keep laundry essentials right where I need them.  In order to keep it from moving around when the washer and dryer get to spinning really fast, we doubled a sheet of rug pad under the top.  It doesn't move at all!

P.S.  Can we talk about how cute my little laundry basket from Cath Kidston is?  I adore it- even though it's really too small for a family of four!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sinks in the Yard

I'm so happy that spring is here (at least officially, it's still cold here!).  Winter doesn't bother me, I love having fires, snuggling up under quilts and drinking hot chocolate, but I'm looking forward to the renewal of all things green and lush!  Of course, that gets me thinking about our plans for our yard this year.

In looking through my idea binder for our yard I came across a theme...

Several years ago I tore out this picture from a magazine (I would like to give credit for the photo but I'm not sure what magazine it came out of- Country Living most likely.  Let me know if you know please!)

I had bookmarked this picture a year or two ago.

And I recently attended a flower show where I took a photograph of yet another sink!

I'm fairly sure that I'm going to have to make this happen this year.  Anyone have an old sink they would like to get rid of?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Pot of Gold- Cookies and Milk

For a St. Patrick's Day treat I made rainbow cookies and attached them to a pot of gold!  The gold was actually milk tinted with a bit of yellow food coloring and the pot was a cauldron that had come filled with cold coins (that I used for the rainbow snack).  I got the idea for rainbow cookies hanging on a cup from the cookie shop- whose cookies sure did look a whole lot neater than mine.

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that my first batch of cookies really were entirely too soft to use, and we had to ditch the treat for St. Patrick's day and instead enjoyed it the day after.  I cooked the rest of the cookies for longer and they turned out harder, though still not really sturdy.  I think next time I would stick with my regular sugar cookie dough recipe.

I think these little treats would look so cute lined up for a St. Patrick's day party!

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  We had a festive day that included leprechaun catching (unsuccessfully), wearing of green, munching on rainbow snacks and eating a green dinner!

Harris and Grace both decided last minute that they would build a leprechaun trap.  Harris was very disappointed that his alarm didn't sound and catch the sneaky little guy!  I was disappointed that they left muddy footprints in my windowsill- at least they left behind some gold nuggets.

Both children paid special attention to how they dressed for the day.  Graced wore a rainbow and Harris channeled a leprechaun.  It was all his own doing, I promise!  I chuckled almost every time I looked at him (those were his Willy Wonky pants from Halloween!).  

After school, the children had a rainbow snack and green milk.  I got the printable from here via Sherri.

For dinner, we had split pea soup (delicious) and brown soda bread (also delicious).  The bread recipe came from my friend Sonja so I felt very authentic!  

I would like to be able to share a treat with you that I had planned that I just knew was going to be so cute.  Unfortunately, we had a baking malfunction and will have to try again tomorrow even though the day will have passed- though I'm pretty sure that rainbows should be for every day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Favorite Thing #7

Ever since we have been married Bryce and I have taken lots and lots of photographs.  In the beginning Bryce was the primary photographer, but that has slowly shifted to a bit more of my domain.  Bryce still takes (great) photos, but I'm usually the one with my camera in hand.  I take the "good" camera with me whenever we go somewhere that I might want documentation but carrying my purse and the camera bag was very bulky, not to mention not very pretty or stylish!  

For Christmas, Bryce gave me a purse camera bag that I simply adore!  The Jo Totes camera bag is big enough to be a camera bag and a purse.  The inside is compartmentalized with padding that is adjustable so that you can carry different lenses, flashes, your wallet and favorite lipstick!  So far I have carried this bag to museums, trips into the city, and friend's homes.  I've stuffed it with books, snacks, my wallet, lunches, epi-pens, a sweater and the camera!  And of course, I love the color!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Albert Einstein

Happy Pi day!  Did you know that 3/14 is also Albert Einstein's birthday?  Isn't it ironic that a genius mathematician's birthday coincides with such important math?  Our children aren't old enough to understand Pi, but they are old enough to learn more about Albert Einstein.

Yesterday, we attended a fun event to celebrate Albert Einstein!  We followed a map to "discover" important people in his life such as his mother, girlfriend, secretary and even the man himself (all played by very knowledgable actors)!

Einstein's Mom

Of course, we also ate some mini pies- bought for $3.14!

Tonight for dinner we ate chicken pot pie (for the record, I believe I have discovered the best ever chicken pot pie recipe!).  For dessert, we had vanilla ice cream and chocolate sprinkles- Einsteins favorite sweet!  We also read Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Milk Jars

This might be one of those posts where some of you shake your heads and think that I'm absolutely crazy.  And you are most likely right.  But I'm a happy kind of crazy so I'm good with it!

We purchase our milk every week from a local producer which is awesome and very economical but messy in that the bottoms of the cartons are always fairly dirty from being on the line.  This has always given Bryce a bit of the skeevies but its been easily remedied by giving the cartons a quick wipe.

As soon as I spotted these ceramic milk cartons I knew that I could solve the messy bottom issue and make pouring milk a whole lot prettier (that's where part of the crazy comes in- since when did pouring milk need to be pretty?).  Yes, it's an extra step of decanting the milk, but to me it is worth it.  It doesn't hurt that it looks awfully charming at the dinner table!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Benjamin Franklin

A few weeks ago the children had the day off from school and we were looking for something a bit out of the ordinary to do.  We ended up going with another family to the Franklin Institute.  I could hardly believe that we haven't frequented the place because it was amazing!  We seriously loved all the exhibits.

When we got home we read the book, Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Baretta.  I think this is a must read because it highlights, in a interesting and witty way, the extraordinary contributions that Ben Franklin made to society.  The illustrations are bright, cheery and engaging as well.  It's also a great book to use to compare and contrast how much- or how little- things have changed over the years.  Quite frankly (pun intended), I'm astounded at all that this man invented that is still in use today!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two Frames, Two Portraits

I've recently added two pictures from our family photo session to our foyer.  Originally, I went searching for a single frame for a picture of Harris since I already had one up of Grace.  However, I came upon these old frames and I just knew that I would regret purchasing just one of them!  I love filling up our stairwell with family pictures, you can't see them in this picture but the other wall is also filling up!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Project

I have a confession to make.  I have found the 52 week project to be harder than I expected.  It's a disappointment to me because I don't believe that finding time in a week to do something nice for others should be difficult, but somehow I've already missed two weeks! I'm trying to not let that derail me though from the rest of the year.

Several weeks ago we had the privilege to work with several of our friends to make over a room at a homeless shelter for families.  It was a wonderful project because the children (between us there were 11) were able to help in most aspects of the project from start to finish.  The project took a full day to complete but the difference it made was huge!  It was also a very forceful reminder of just how blessed we truly are.

The children made art to go on the walls.

We cleaned, spackled, sanded, painted and decorated.

These guys worked incredibly hard all day long.

The finished room.

Thanks to Cathy and Tucker for organizing and letting us be a part of such a wonderful day.
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