Monday, September 30, 2013

Marilyn's Salsa

For as long as I can remember in our married life, Bryce and I have coveted his Mom's homemade salsa.  Whenever we would get a jar we would save it for special occasions, gorge ourselves when we finally opened one and get weirdly excited whenever we got one in the mail!  It's that yummy!

Last year, Gretchen and I canned jars of Marilyn's Salsa and they turned out very good but a little liquidy.  This year, we tried again and I think we got it just right!  Turns out that the key was letting it cook stove-top for a lot longer than we would have guessed, we let it go a good 6 hours!

We took Marilyn's recipe and quadrupled it since we figured if we were going to do it we would do it up big (and we made two batches!)!  After all, if we are going to chop a few tomatoes, we might as well chop a lot of tomatoes!   I would highly recommend canning salsa with a friend.  It doesn't feel tedious or exhausting when you are laughing, talking and chopping together.

I'm going to share the recipe we used (this is quadrupled) but please remember that the salsa has to be processed as you would any canning recipe (this does not include instructions on how to can).

Marilyn's Salsa

32 cups tomatoes*, peeled and chopped
2 quarts diced onions
6 jalapenos, diced and 1/2 the seeds removed
2 green peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons cayenne
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
12 teaspoons salt
4 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients in a large pan and simmer for at least 4 hours or until mixture is nice and thick.  After filling your canning jars, process for 15 minutes in boiling water.

*Be sure you get sauce tomatoes

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grace's DIY Pencil Holder

Grace recently disappeared into the basement workshop for a bit and emerged with a pencil holder that she crafted herself.  She had seen one in a catalogue and decided to do a little DIY project.  She used a block of wood that she sanded and then drilled holes into using a drill press (with only a small amount of help from her dad).  It turned out to be a perfect child's DIY project!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Two Vintage Things

We had family pictures taken yesterday.  I haven't been feeling great about how I've looked lately (do you ever get in those places?) but I'm hoping that we got some good shots.  Besides, it's not about me and how I look, it's more about capturing our family in this moment in time.   I might not have felt great about my hair, etc., but I sure did love the dress I wore.  It's a vintage dress that I got on Etsy and the hot pink made me happy!  Also, a friend recently got me this hook that I hung up in my "dressing area" in the bathroom.  I just love it and I appreciate that when she spotted it in the antique store she thought of me!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Happy Fall everyone.  This is one of my favorite seasons and it somehow always ends up feeling like the shortest season of the year! This year we are celebrating from the get-go and for the first day of fall we celebrated by making our very favorite fall treat, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars.  I actually had to do a search on the blog because I couldn't believe I'd never posted about them before.  Friends, they are so, so good.  They are a Martha Stewart Recipe and the only change I made was to swap out semi-sweet chocolate chips for dark chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
12 oz. dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda and salt.

In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.  Beat in pumpkin puree (it might look curdled but it's fine).  Mix in dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips.  

Spread batter in pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Lift cake from pan, peel off foil and cut into squares (approximately 24 squares). 

Friday, September 20, 2013


When Grace was born I bought Bryce a pocket watch with the words inscribed, "Thank you for Grace" on the back.  I really wanted to give him something that would commemorate our first born and something that he would eventually pass down to her.  We have it in a little glass case since it's so pretty but he does actually use it on occasion.  Grace loves checking in with us about the pocket watch and often asks, "So I get to keep it someday?"  She already treasures it!

When Harris was born, I bought Bryce a watch with the words, "Thank you for Harris" inscribed on the back.  Again, with the hope that someday the watch will be passed down to Harris.  

More recently, I was going through some things in my closet and came upon this gorgeous ring that once belonged to my Grandmother.  It's a rather funny thing but I've always loved vintage rings and yet never gave a thought to this beauty that my Mom gave me to keep safe for Grace one day!  I've started wearing it on occasion because I love it and because I think heirlooms should be used and loved.  

I have a few other things that have been given to me from past generations, china and silver come to mind, but I also dream that we will have heirlooms to pass down to the children that they will treasure and love.  I suppose time will tell what those items will be*.  Also, I don't think that something has to be expensive or worth a lot to be an heirloom.  My sister has a cast iron biscuit pan that I think of with envy (Delita is the biscuit maker) that was once our Grandmothers!  It's a true treasure and heirloom but probably not worth a lot monetarily wise.

*I'm hoping that my trench coat will be one of them!  I would love to have some clothing items of my Moms or Grandmothers!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Adventure a Day

We are getting ready to do a bit of an update in Grace's room.  She's needed a new mattress for ages and she's grown out of some of the decorative bits in her room.  It's time for her room to grow up a little, just as she has!  We are still at the beginning of figuring out what to do, but we have purchased this little poster to get framed and hang in her room.  It strikes just the right balance of whimsy and fun without being too cutesy.  And it's a perfect fit for my adventure loving girl!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Dinner Party in the Drive

Several years ago, I dreamed up the idea to have a dinner party in our driveway and over the weekend we finally made it happen.  And it was just as fun and wonderful as I envisioned it.  We are very blessed with wonderful friends who make having a party loads of fun!

I always knew that I wanted one long table where we could eat family style, and I was thrilled to learn that farm tables are available for rent!  Having the farm tables (the legs actually fold up for transport and storage) made it possible to have a runner instead of fussier table linens, which was the look I was hoping to have. Also, instead of water glasses we used mason jars.

I wanted the informality of having a mixture of chairs so we used our own Tolix chairs, a friends painted wooden chairs and four rentals mixed in.  Bryce strung lights from the garage to tall bamboo poles that he rigged to hold them.  As soft light tends to do, they made everything (and everyone!) look beautiful!

The morning of the party, I went to the farm and picked lots of wildflowers.  I used bottles that I've collected at rummage sales and antique stores to hold little bunches of the wildflowers.  These were staggered down the table along with votive candles.

We made the decision early on to have the meal catered so that we didn't go crazy trying to make enough food for everyone and I'm so glad that we did.  We served southern comfort food and it was delicious!  Our menu included fried chicken, pulled pork, jalapeno corn bread, herbed macaroni and cheese, biscuits, salad with pecans and peaches, coleslaw and balsamic drizzled tomatoes.

I wanted to keep things simple for the drinks so we had one "signature" drink and then beer, wine and champagne.  Of course, you can't have southern food without sweet tea so we had a cocktail that was made with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and Lemonade.  They were served in small jelly jars.

I felt like I wanted to contribute something to the menu so I made the desserts.  We had cherry pie,  bourbon pecan pie and a peach upside down cake.  A funny note about this picture; I took it earlier in the day when I was figuring out placement for everything.  When it was actually time to serve dessert they were not presented in such a sweet way.  The reality was that they were sort of just thrown on the table and offered up to anyone who wanted some!  Oh well, the best laid plans...

I used this opportunity to wear a vintage skirt that I found last winter!

It turned out to be a chilly evening so we had a fire on the porch plus several fires in fire pits (we borrowed one from a friend!).  It was the perfect way to end summer and kick off fall!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rules for Ballet (and Life)

This year Grace is participating in ballet classes that the director of the ballet school teaches.  She absolutely loves her and declared after her first class that she was, "inspiring."  Her teacher handed out a sheet of rules for classroom behavior and etiquette. Looking over the rules,  I can't help but wonder if all of our children's teachers, leaders and coaches expected (and demanded) such basic good manners and respectful attitude how different, or not, our society as a whole would be?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

General Store Paper Dispenser + String

Last Christmas, I wrapped many of our gifts in Kraft paper and loved the ease, simpleness and classic look of it. It also covers all sorts of other uses as well; table runner, banner maker, book coverer, etc.

I've always been charmed by old general store paper dispensers and thought it would be great to have one and let that be our wrapping paper of choice.  However, once I started looking I discovered that these dispensers command a lot of money, especially ones in nice condition!  After a couple of months of sporadically checking on Ebay, I finally found one that looked pretty good except that it was missing its base.  This was not a problem since Bryce was willing to make me one.  He sure is handy like that!

I also had my heart set on having a vintage/antique string dispenser, but was astounded at how much they go for, and I simply could not bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars on a string dispenser!  As luck would have it, I came upon this replica that was a mere $25 and it even came with a little pair of scissors.  Score!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Princess and the Frog Blog Update

Five years ago this summer, I started this blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and family and also to document our time as a family.  I can't believe that so much time has passed nor that I am still blogging on a regular basis!  This blog gives me great pleasure for it helps me to focus on the beauty of my life.  Also, it has introduced me to fellow bloggers with whom I've developed friendships, and I'm so thankful for that.

For my birthday, way back in January, my girlfriends gave me an Etsy gift card and I decided to use some of it on updating my blog.  Originally, we were going to not have the picture of the children dressed up in the Halloween costumes as a header, but I missed it.  It's a part of the blog that I just couldn't let it go.  So instead it's large and in charge!  I'm really glad to move over to an all white background and to be able to have more flexibility with pictures and such.  It still needs some tweaks and such, but I'm excited to have something new and pretty!  So what do you think?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sixth and Third Graders

As I type this I find it preposterous that I now have a 6th grader.  6th grade.  As in middle school! Since Grace is continuing on at Waldorf we don't have that big transition to a bigger school so it doesn't feel like it's quite as big of a deal as it would have had she stayed in the public school system but still.  6th grade.  

Harris is in third grade and is thrilled that his best buddies are in his class.  I was thrilled that he still will hold my hand walking to school.

The contents of their school cones this year.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School Dinner

A note: as I was uploading these photos I was a bit discouraged at how bad they were (dark, not very well laid out, etc.) but then I remembered this is our real life and not a styled shoot!  It would be a bit silly of me to make everyone wait for stretches of time while I got shots of the table and who really wants to eat cold alphabet soup?

Last night we had our annual Back to School Dinner!

Alphabet Soup with Rosemary Meatballs
Lettered Dinner Rolls
Notebook Paper Cake
Milk with pencil straws

A yellow straw + a bit of duck tape + a starburst shaped like an eraser was cute with our milk and went well with the notebook cake.  

As you can tell, I decorated this cake in about 10 minutes flat.  We didn't have straight lines but nobody seemed to care!

We also discussed our goals for the new school year.  Grace is working toward learning how to read sheet music and really working hard at Math.  Harris would like to meet someone new and write more often.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Backpacking Trip with Dad

Grace started school yesterday!  Of course, I'll soon share pictures of both the children's first days (Harris isn't until Friday!) but first I want to share how Grace ended her summer.

She and her Dad went on a backpacking trip- her first one ever!  She was so excited prior to leaving and in fact it was like Christmas had arrived in August.  I believe her excitement was a mixture of adventuring, doing something so "grown up" and, most importantly, spending one on one time with her Dad.

Her pack was heavy!  I can't believe that she climbed and hiked so far with this pack on her back (10 miles).

The night before she left I stitched this patch on her pack as a surprise.  One of her idols/heroes is John Muir so I thought it would be special to commemorate her first backpacking trip with a special patch.

By all accounts these two had a great time together and had a few funny stories to tell (Grace fell off of a bridge and a bear fell out of a tree close to them!).  But what I'm absolutely sure will stay with Grace is the time that she spent with her Dad out in the woods!

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