Monday, June 28, 2010

Playroom Progress

Happy Monday to all of you!
The playroom is coming along.
A little slower than expected due to the dining room update and house guests.
Fabric for the drapes has been selected.
Charlie literally pulled this one off the rack at the fabric store.  The taelented Holly had introduced me to something very similar for our living room, and I LOVED it but it didn't quite fit there. When Charlie pulled it off the rack I thought it could work beautifully in the playroom instead. Serendipity!
A hanging lantern has been ordered.
A new rug is down and being kept clean. (thank you, Charlie)
The shelves are up and painted.      The shelves were found on the curb of a neighbor's home waiting for the trash. They were white with a beadboard back.  They formerly sat in a wine shop and then in the old home of our neighbor's.  They didn't fit it their new home.  So when we Jimmy spotted them, he grabbed an extra set of hands and they were brought home for my inspection.  They just happened to be the exact length to fit across one of the walls in the playroom.  Perfect.  They proved to be quite laborious to get into the room though and had to be somewhat dismantled and reassembled to make it through the narrow hallway leading to the room.  Thankfully we have a few handy friends, because we aren't.   Once they were in the room I liked them better without the beadboard back since the walls already have wood paneling.  They were bolted to the wall and painted to match and look terrific. The best part - they were FREE!

I'm working on the chalk board this week.  Recall my inspiration to the right..I  always like mixing old with new and I loved how in this home they used an antique frame and turned it into a chalk board.  So, I did a little treasure hunting this week at some local antique malls, flea markets, and ebay. No luck.  On ebay the old frames are EXPENSIVE.  But my Mum had a brilliant suggestion to use the frame of an antique mirror that belonged to my great grandmother in Denmark.  It has been sitting in my parent's basement all my life because the mirror was too damaged to use.  I happen to love the frame, old worn wood.  Great for my little ones.  So out came the mirror and soon in will come the chalk board.
In the meantime, play is in full swing!
I'll post completed pictures very soon! Well, after the drapes are sewn, the light fixture is hung, the bamboo blinds are in.  Ok, maybe a little while still...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Little Swimmer

Hi there handsome young man!

You swam so well tonight at your meet and made me so proud. 
I'm so happy you enjoy a sport that I actually know something about.

You looked especially gorgeous tonight, I really couldn't help myself from taking a whole lotta pictures.
You are going to be a little heart breaker one day.
But please let that day be far, far away and stay my little boy for a while longer.



A little loveliness from the August issue (it is still June, right?) of The English Home magazine.


Oh, how I love this collection of antique mis-matched chairs. Perfect for a big party!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PopPING Corn

Last fall my little Cub Scout sold popcorn for a fundraiser. 
 I ordered several tubs of  "their famous" popping corn. 
 Because who could say no to this face?

Well there is a big difference between pop corn and popping corn.  I did not realize that.  Until it arrived.  PopPING corn is un-popped.  Basically just the kernel.  I ordered several TUBS of this stuff.

Up until then we were quite fond of the microwave variety or we'd send Jimmy down to the village movie theater (a 3 minute walk from our home) to pick up a couple bags on movie nights.  But I wasn't about to let this "famous" popping corn go to waste, so we went old school.  Let me say, once you make it stove top (or "homemade" as Andrew likes to say) you will never go back.  So, so, much better.  And a good arm workout too.  I've gotten a little fancy and now add sugar to give it more of a kettle corn flavor. 

Here's my tried and true method
Step 1: Add a 1/4 cup of canola oil in a heavy med. sized saucepan.
Step 2: Add one kernel and cover while the stove is on med. high heat.
Step 3: Once the kernel pops add 1/4 cup sugar and enough kernels to form one layer in the pan.
(somewhere between 1/4-1/2 cup of kernels)

Step 4: Cover and shake the pan until your arm falls off the popping slows to 1-2 pops per second.
Remove from heat and remove lid. Ta-da! MMMM, smells sooo goood!
Step 5: Spread out the corn on a piece of foil so it doesn't clump together.

Step 6: Pop in a movie and devour enjoy!

Note: The first time you make stove top popcorn I would skip the sugar.  Once you know the right temperature and the right time to remove the pan you can safely add the sugar.  You have to work quickly with the sugar so it doesn't burn. It tastes delicious with or without!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Peaches for Dinner


I love cooking with fruit.  Especially in the summer.  I have a couple recipes planned this week that include seasonal fruit. Here's one we made on Father's Day

Grilled Chicken and Peaches with Chipotle-Peach Dressing

A couple changes to the recipe:
1. Double the dressing, so you have enough to let the chicken marinate for a couple hours
2. Baste the chicken as it grills
3. Seal peaches in a foil pouch.  We have a Weber charcoal grill and the slices would have fallen right through the grates.  We cooked them in the foil pouch for about 4-6 minuets and they were delish.

I served this with a mixed greens salad & vinaigrette and grilled potatoes (a recipe my sweet friend Jen shared with my a number of years ago and they are soo good).
The best part is the oven stays off and there is no dish to clean up.

Recipe for Grilled Potatoes
4 backing potatoes, sliced about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick
4 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp back pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp minced garlic

Toss all ingredients together
Wrap in heavy aluminum foil and grill (about 20-30 minutes)

A few tips:

  • I do spray my foil with cooking spray so the potatoes don't stick. 

  • I am also a little more genrous with the salt.

  • Don't stack higher than 2 slices thick, the ones closest to the grill will get the lovely brown crust.
 Top pictures from google image search, bottom picture mine

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day


Dear Jimmy, In honor of your 8th Father's Day I did a little interview.
Me:        "Tell me 8 things about your Dad that make him the best Daddy in the world."
Andrew:  "He takes me to Kings Island, buys me things, he gets me drinks when we are both thirsty, he takes me to raft day, he takes me to baseball games, he takes me sledding, because he loves me, and he plays with me."
Charlie:   "Dada?"  " Daaaadaaaa" " Dada, gone?"
Andrew: "Mama, why do you think Dad is a good Dad?"
Me: "ummm 8 things, what to choose...He is a good example to you & Charlie, he makes you & C laugh like nobody else can, he is generous with his affection, he gives long shoulder and piggy back rides, he is a rock star on raft day at the pool, he doesn't raise his voice, he doesn't lose his temper,  he gets up early with Charlie on the weekends so I get a little break...oh, that's already more... he enjoys spending time with us more than anything else (except maybe the occasional round of golf :))"

And to my own Dad, Happy Father's Day! I hope you enjoy celebrating with Kevin (my brother) in Chicago.  I'm thankful for your photography expertise -- for supporting me when I gave up my career to be home with my boys, even though I know you had hoped I would climb the corporate ranks --  for teaching Charlie the wonders of the iphone -- for being sensitive, even though you put up a good front -- for liking European cars so Jimmy has someone to talk to -- for knowing world history & current events so we are all a little smarter -- and for being my Dad and my boys Farfar.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Family Portrait - What to Wear

Marla has been guest posting on Darby's blog.  I've admired her photos on Darby's and Erika's blog in the past.  One talented chic.  Too bad we never vacation down in Florida.  I've seriously contemplated going just to have her photograph our family.  However, since that is clearly not in the budget, we are planning a photo shoot this summer with a nearby professional.  Session yet to be booked.  Photographer yet to be found.  But I am getting it done.  I don't have a single, Not. One. Single. Picture., of me with both children.  We have only 3 of us as a family, so if I don't do it now, too much time is going to slip away.  Charlie is already getting so big.

Marla's posts this week have been about what to wear for a photo shoot.  My preference is always for  B&W photos so the colors don't really matter, but since almost all photographers shoot in color (this makes me sad because I still feel there is nothing like B&W film), it's nice to at least coordinate a little.  I would love a color scheme of Navy, White, Green and Orange. Like this...


Now if someone would kindly donate the $600+ it would take to purchase these ensembles, I'd be ever so grateful.  I will need to keep my eyes open for some sales in the very near future.  To be honest, I saw the dress first.  Loved it and then tried to make the boys work around it.  I do love the colors together though!

Have a great weekend!

Clothes: Anthropologie, Gap, Polo, Crewcuts, Vineyard Vines, J. Crew, Mini Boden, Banana Republic

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Days


I love the pace of summer
On the agenda for today
A little gardening
A little biking
A little swimming
A little firefly catching
A little girls night outing to dinner & the theater


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Boredom Busters I


Last year the first 2 weeks of summer seemed to drag on forever.  This year I was armed and ready with a stack of ideas to keep my bubbas busy.  I think the transation from being in school all day, to being home all day can be tough those first couple weeks, until they get into their summer groove.

Since I knew swimteam everyday and baseball 2-3x a week isn't enough, I wanted to have some at home ideas to do while little bubba naps.  I'm going to try share some throughout the summer.

First up, this was a fun one.  My favorite part of the day with Andrew has always been bedtime when we snuggle and read together.  Sometimes I do all the reading, sometimes we share, sometimes he reads to me.  I am grateful he loves books and has a great imagination.  It's so fun to go back and read my favorite childhood authors like Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary with him.  Though instead of Ramona, I've gotten to know Henry Huggins and Andrew is just finishing up the last of the Mouse and the Motorcycle books.  He was crazy about The Pain and the Great One series from Judy Blume and the Fudge series (I think Fudge reminds him of Charlie).  I only wish there were more.  Another one that we loved this summer was King Arthur, but in the new Junior Classic Series from Scholastic.  It is written in modern language and very well done, but the stories are the same.   I'm going to look for more in this category.  It was probably our favorite read so far.  Last summer our favorite was Where the Red Fern Grows, but we both cried like crazy at the end and couldn't even talk about the book for a couple weeks after.

I love that we get to talk about the characters together - their challenges, the choices they make and why. 

Recently we read How to Eat Fried Worms.  If I'm being honest, the story is a little silly and drags on a bit.  BUT.....the best part of it all is that at the end there are recipes for worm food!!!! Worm burgers, worm pizza, worm dessert.  We celebrated the completion of this story with a little worm dessert.

Here are the details:
Brownie Mix
Chocolate Frosting
Chocolate Wafer Cookies - crushed
Gummy Worms

Bake brownies and cool.  Frost with icing, top with "dirt" the crushed cookies and gummy worms.  Eat!
Andrew was able to help make it and enjoy it (for breakfast)! 


Monday, June 14, 2010

Farmer's Market Dinner

farmers market blog post

A delightful little farmer's market has opened on Thursday's
in a neighboring town.  I believe it will become a Thursday
summer tradition.  Great organic food, live music & snowcones,
what's not to love.

On the menu last week:
Appetizer - Snowcones & sugar snap peas while at the market
Main Course - Carmelized onion & rosemary foccacia with a micro greens salad

Micro Greens Salad

Assorted micro greens
Ripe, sliced avocado
Chick peas (I used about 1whole can, rinsed)
Vinaigrette from Barefoot Contessa

3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 extra-large egg yolk at room temp. (I do not let it come to room temp.)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, salt, and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Toss the greens with enough dressing to moisten, add avocado and chick peas and serve immediately.
It would also be delicious with some sliced radishes. 


Dining Room Inspiration

Ina Garten's Dining Room
We've officially started the 3rd week of summer vacation.  So far, I've only heard a few "I bored" mumbles from Andrew.  A good sign, considering the weather has been blazing hot and the only way to be outside is poolside.  I have some fun "boredom buster ideas" that I'll post about later this week.

As for me, with the more leisurely pace of summer, I have a long list of house to dos.  Not mechanical, not gardening (though we do still need to plant annuals and mulch), but interior sorts of things.  My favorite kind.  As I've mentioned before, we are creating a downstairs playroom for the boys.  Still working on that one, but it's painted the shelf is in and a new rug is on the floor.  (Not ready for "after" pics yet, though).  The other is to freshen up the dining room.  Slipcovered wingbacks were first on the list.  But after that I was kinda drawing a blank.  So, I enlisted the help of a favorite blogger & designer of mine, Holly Mathis.

For starters I've never worked with a designer before.  I've always been a little intimidated and I'm really picky.  But after reading Holly's blog for the last two years, I felt, if there was a designer for me to work with it would be her.  The funny thing about blogs, is that after a while you really feel like you know the person writing, even if you've never so much as exchanged an email.  I think Holly has beautiful ideas and incredible taste, and she seems like someone I'd love to have as a friend.  We've just started working together, I can't wait to see her ideas.

It's a challenge working with what you've already got, and that's the case for me.  My furniture is in good condition, but the dining room has always been the one room in our home I haven't been crazy about and we spend A LOT of time in there, so a dining room spruce-up is definitely in order.

Here are some inspiration pics from my files.

Hands down, one of my all time favorite
dining rooms is this one.
House Beautiful
I love when upholstered pieces are mixed into a dining room.
Love the blue & white plates and platters.
The assortment of rugs over the seagrass.
The stunning wainscoting.
House Beautiful
House Beautiful
This next home is really similar in color palette to
my own.  I love how it feels
country & sophisticated at the same time.
Love the mix of patterns.  The mismatched chairs.

Traditional Home
It also flows well with the living room.
Another similarity to my own.

    Traditional Home

Charles Faudree

 Charles Faudree
Stay tunned, more to come...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Isn't She Lovely?

Happy Saturday! I've been a little slack with posts this week, and I've got a couple recipes about farmer's market dinner ideas, Jimmy birthday, etc. that I've started but haven't finished.  In the meantime, I wanted to share this...

Do you remember my slipcover debates?  Well, this morning my seamstress came to beautify this pair of Craig's List chairs.  I liked them because they had 100% down cushions and a pretty shape.  They were in very good condition and cheap.
Hello, gorgeous!
I have them sitting on either side of our china cupboard.
I'm going to get a couple pillows made for them,
once I select a fabric. 
I threw on some from the family room to see
how it will look.
I added a little contrasting banding at the bottom,
to give it a little oompf.
This was a last minute choice, but I think it
makes the chairs.
Never underestimate the work of a talented seamstress
or the transformation of slipcovers.
I was a little nervous about my fabric choice.
I had wanted linen but couldn't find a weight at
a price I could afford.  18 yards is a lot of fabric!
I love the weight and drape of this cotton.
Slowly but surely, my little dining room
is starting to feel more cozy & pretty.

Thursday, June 10, 2010