Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Bags Are Packed

We are flying out tomorrow for our first vacation as a family of four.  We are flying out West.  As in a 5 HOUR long flight with a 21 month old that typically doesn't like to sit still for 5 MINUTES.  Pray for us! And those aboard our flight.  It will likely not be a peaceful one.  I've got the ipod loaded with his favorite songs, Jimmy's Blackberry, and lollipops to keep him entertained.  I've also got these...
 I figure that might get us through the first 15 minutes... His older brother's got his DVD player and this...
And I will be (hopefully) reading this on our trip. (not on the airplane - who would I be kidding!)

I had heard such great things about this book, but had never really been tempted to read it, until I saw the movie trailer on Elizabeth's blog.

I'll be gone, no computer, no blogs, no email for 8 days.  Hopefully with less humid temperatures, lots of fun activities for the children and the chance to make many new family memories.
Be back soon... 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Unapologetically Country

Sometimes reading blogs, especially design blogs, can make my head spin.  I have a tendency to find so many images inspiring that I start to second guess my own home. But when it comes down to it, what I find the most welcoming, cozy, and warm is a mix of English & French country, a little East Coast, a little cottagey, a little traditional.  A home that is hopefully timeless, trend free, and collected.  It also just fits with the colonial farmhouse style of our house.  Take my dining room and living room mini spruce up (that is taking far too long for a mini spruce up, you would think I was tackling a major remodel.. I blogged about it here, here, and here )

Toile, ticking, linen, blue & white English transferware, silhouettes, monograms, slipcovers, antiques and painted furniture...yes that about sums up what's happening in my dining room & living room.  Here's a peek at the fabrics..


All were suggested by Holly and I love every single one of them.  I am planning to drop them off at my seamstress along with the 9 pillows they will cover tomorrow.  (Found an INCREDIBLE deal on 100% down filled pillows at Ikea - thanks Mum for the tip).  Today my ebay painting arrived all the way from Denmark.


It's already up on the mantel and looks pretty.  The scale is better than the smaller botanicals that hung there before.  I love that it has a little blue in it and of course I love the boats.  It's extra special knowing it is from Copenhagen, the town where my father and all his family were born and raised.  My Dad's side of the family still lives there.    Sitting next two it are 2 new blue and white ginger jars (one is antique the other is new ordered from the Rustic Rooster). 

Still to come... Silhouettes of my boys.  I'm finding it challenging to get a good profile shot.
Image from Country Living

Also painting the hutch.  I've narrowed down the paint colors to: Charleston Gray, Light Gray, Mouse's Black and French Grey (all Farrow & Ball)... more on that later...Now I need to concentrate on packing because we are heading out of town in a couple days...yay!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Snowing!

Packaging peanuts that is....
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  Big Mess = Big Fun.
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Watching them with their snow shovels in 100 degree weather was a sight.
Time to cool off...
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Rainy Thursday Night

It's raining...my babes are sleeping...
simmering on the stove is Ina's Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup (one of my all time favs)
with goodies bought at the Farmer's Market...
to take to a friend who just had her 4th!! baby... 
mmm, the kitchen smells of garlic and roasted tomatoes...

I'm also doing do a little of this...


and reading some more of this (hard to put down, I tell ya)...


Images: unkown, Country Living, Amazon.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Playing House

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This is the first summer Andrew & his best bud, Payton, have started playing house.  It's not something he plays with other boys, so I LOVE to listen in during their games.  I played house a lot when I was little with my dolls and my girlfriends.  They don't use dolls for their baby, they use Charlie.

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Today, I found them in the backyard where they had set up their "house".  Two fold out chairs in front of a fire pit  --  a play room for Charlie -- a mud pile for Charlie to dig in -- an umbrella & beach chair (I couldn't understand what room that was suppose to be).
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Andrew was the Dad and worked as a manager at a Halloween shop. Payton stayed home and took care of the baby.  She had her cell phone (really a phone from inside) to talk to Andrew while he was at work, she cleaned Charlie's hands before she gave him a snack & took him on walks.  It's amazing how naturally nurturing little girls can be, so different from boys.  I think they forgot I was there taking pictures. Well, until I asked for a family portrait that is.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Unfinished Business

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So...I started this summer all gang busters to create a playroom for the boys and freshen up our dining room because I just wasn't loving it...Well here we are nearing the latter part of July and what have I accomplished?  A big ol mess of half finished projects.  I'm starting to lose a little momentum too.  I've taken down artwork I didn't like, but nothing yet hangs in its place.  I've got fabric picked out for pillows that I LOVE (thanks Holly) but it has yet to be taken to my seamstress.  I have paint swatches hanging on our hutch, but it remains unpainted.

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AND I decided to update a few things in our living room too, because that's what happens when you start to change one thing, many more follow. Sometimes things you didn't even plan. Since we leave for vacation in a week and school begins the end of August, I've resigned to the fact it will not be complete by summers end.  That's ok, because it's really not that important.  Yes, I get joy from a pretty home. Yes, I like to fiddle and fuss and play house. But in life's bigger picture - it's really not something to lose sleep over. :) So, in the meantime I'll settle for some pretty roses ($6 for this bunch!) to keep things looking fresh and continue to marvel at all the bloggers who redo furniture (paint, upholster, slipcover) weekly and remodel rooms in no time.  I'm just shooting to have things done by Thanksgiving!

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In this last pic, a few things that are staying put: an antique gateleg, barley twist table bought with my Mum on an a day of antiquing in Louisville, KY - an English oil painting from a favorite antique shop for my 11th wedding anniversary - the little brown & white drawings of Mechelen, Belgium where I was born.

Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tsatsiki


A friend on FB recently posted this recipe and we made it this weekend. Greek yogurt, mint, & naan...mmmmm.  Didn't change a thing, but would recommend making the salsa & tsatsiki in advance (a lot of chopping going on in this recipe, but it's easy!).  I used Whole Food's plain naan (the best next to homemade) and a rotisserie chicken.  This would be a fun recipe for a summer dinner party too.  .  Sooo gooood!

Ingredients 

 2 Kirby cucumbers, divided
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (3/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 rounded teaspoon dried oregano
1 rounded teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1 (12-ounces) package naan bread (four 8-inch pieces)
or 4 (8-inch) pocketless pita rounds
1/2 roast chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded (about 2 1/4 cups), and carcass reserved for stock
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced

 
Preparation

Preheat broiler.

Peel and grate 1 cucumber, then squeeze it with your hands to remove excess water. Stir together with yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, one third of garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make tsatsiki.

Cut remaining cucumber into 1/4-inch pieces and stir together with tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make salsa.

Gently simmer oil, oregano, rosemary, remaining garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small heavy saucepan, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss chicken with 3 tablespoons garlic oil and brush one side of bread with remainder.

Heat bread, oiled side up, in a 4-sided sheet pan, covered with foil, 3 to 4 inches from broiler 3 minutes.

Uncover and broil, rotating bread for even coloring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes.

Spread some of tsatsiki on warm bread and top with chicken and some of lettuce and salsa. Serve remaining lettuce, salsa, and tsatsiki on the side.

 

 Image & Recipe From Here

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pink

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Happy Saturday!  I just finished a nice little lunch outside with Andrew while Charlie was napping and Jimmy's off hitting some golf balls. We dipped our toes in an icy cold baby pool while enjoying last night's leftovers with a bowl of cherries and talked about the plans for our upcoming vacation. 

Now back inside, I am suppose to be paying bills online but instead I'm looking through some old pictures in a file labeled "pretty pics" and was reminded how lovely pink can be in a home.  I remember thinking, many years ago, that I wanted my first place to be decorated in all pink, grey and cream.  In our first home, I wallpapered our master bedroom in a pink, grey, cream and sage green cabbage rose pattern from Ralph Lauren.  It wasn't one of my best decisions.  The room was too large with a vaulted ceiling and the the paper was all wrong.  My poor husband never complained, but it was WAY too girly girl.  The funny thing is a single father (of a young boy) purchased our house.  I'd bet that paper came down the first weekend he was in the home.  Now with three boys, I really don't use any pink.  A little raspberry & apricot maybe, but no pink (unless it's in the occasional bouquet).

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Images: Country Living, Traditional Home

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is there a doctor in the house?

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Andrew was feeling a bit under the weather the last couple days.  A little summer bug, short lived, but bad enough to lose a night of sleep, miss his swim championships (boo!), and make this Mama worry.  There is nothing worse than your little ones being sick.  Thankfully, the worst was over by Wednesday morning. And my parents kindly took Charlie so I could spend the day caring for Andrew.  Between trips to replenish crushed ice, saltines and jello, we kinda had fun.  We hung out on the couch together watching movies, playing cards, Lego Creationary (a fabulous game for Lego lovers), and reading.  It made operating on 2 hours sleep possible.  I had good training in the nurse Mama department.  My Mum always took the best care of my brother and I when we were sick.  I always felt so loved.  Yesterday evening Andrew came up and kissed me on the arm and said "I love you so much, thanks for taking such good care of me."  Why, my pleasure!
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Doctor Charlie did his part too, breaking out both stethoscopes, and his favorite book.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You'll want to bookmark this one...

Birthday parties are a big deal in our home.  I've had so much fun in the past dreaming, planning, and creating parties for my boys.  Well, mostly for Andrew, since Charlie's only had one.  For years Andrew was all about dressing up so each party included dress up clothes for the kids - pirates, knights, explorers.  This year will be the first time we aren't giving Andrew a big themed party.  He opted for a vacation to Legoland instead.  We had been thinking about this for a while and decided now is probably the time to go.  Truthfully, I kinda miss all the preparations.  Tonight,  I came across this new blog all about children's party ideas.  For all my dear friends who've suggested I start my own party planning business in the past, please take and look at this blog and you'll know why I didn't.  My little ideas pale in comparison (though Andrew thinks he has the greatest parties in the world and that's all the matters. Charlie's too young to know the difference.)  You can bet I will be going here for inspiration in the future. Incredible!

  All images from Hip, Hip Hooray

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grey, Gray

How do you spell it?  Me, I like it with an "e".  The weather's grey today.  My children are sleepy.  I'm looking for the perfect shade of grey to paint my dining room hutch... Darker than my grey trim (Bennington Grey  from BM), not too blue, not too grey, not too brown & needs to work with my warmer tones...
Suggestions???

My inspiration...
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Image Sources (left to right, top to bottom): unkown, A Perfect Gray, Wisteria, Room Seventeen A Perfect Gray, Cote de Texas, unkown, House Beautiful, Cote de Texas

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

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I've tried a few new recipes over the last couple days. My favorite is this cherry clafoutis from the Food TV Magazine I snagged when I was visiting with my parents last week.  If you've never tried one, a clafoutis is a French dessert made with fresh fruit and a pancake like batter.  I was inspired to make a dessert with fresh cherries after seeing the gorgeous pie made by Trina at A Country Farmhouse (one of my favorite blogs - love her home, her writing & her photography).  Anyway, I was looking for a speedier dessert.  Truth be told, I really wanted to use a cherry pitter, and making a yummy dessert is a good excuse.  This one is so good I couldn't resist eating a slice half the cake before dinner.  Which is a good thing because dinner was a new recipe and it was not so good, as in throw it in the garbage and grab the kids and go out to eat instead. 


Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced, plus more for the dish
1 pound (2 cups) fresh cherries, pitted (or one 10 oz bag frozen cherries, thawed and patted dry)
3 large eggs
11/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup 4% cottage cheese
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Confectioners' sugar for dusting


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375.  Butter an 11 (1 used 12) inch round baking dish and spread cherries evenly over the bottom.
2. Wisk eggs, half and half, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the flour in a bowl until combined.  Pour the batter over the cherries, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and scatter the sliced butter on top.
3.  Bake until puffed and golden around the edges, about 40 minutes.  Cool slightly, then dust with confectioners sugar.

Enjoy!  It tastes very similar to Ina's Pear Clafoutis Recipe that I've made several times before.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday Morning Bike Ride

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PhotobucketThis morning I kindly let my hard working husband sleep in   begrudgingly got up early with Charlie because Jimmy mentioned he had done it every day this week (funny, I do not remember sleeping in, since I needed to be dressed, pack a lunch for Andrew and feed the kids all before 8:20am, but I do remember him helping each day - maybe even making breakfast!) and took the boys on an early morning bike ride to Starbucks. The boys had mini pink donuts and I a much needed cappuccino.  I precariously rode my bike with my camera (maybe snapping a pic or 2 while riding - not a good idea) in the hopes I would capture the kids running around feeding and chasing the sparrows as they've done on all recent morning visits.  No such luck.  Instead I captured sticky fingers, jammies, & bare tootsies. To keep things interesting, Charlie had brought along the top to the water hose that he pretends is a leaf blower complete with his own sound effects and an Elmo pop up book that plays music loud enough for all to hear.
Still, it was a lovely wake up!
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Friday, July 9, 2010

Lego & Booster Seats

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The end of this week marks Andrew's first experience with a Lego Camp.  It was a 5-hour-a- day camp with 19 other boys taught at a local college.  (God Bless those teachers) After the first day I asked him to rate the camp on a scale of 1 to 10, he gave it a 5.  On day 2 it got a 7, that could have been an 8 if he hadn't gotten into trouble for not sharing.  Andrew is a rule follower, so the chances he "got into trouble" are pretty slim.  If he is corrected by a teacher, no matter what the situation, he says he got into trouble.                                  Photobucket                              
 He's a sensitive little soul with a conscience . But he can also be a little bossy, so I can imagine him having a hard time gently correcting his partner if he saw him making a mistake. (we are working on this)
Day 3, his final day, he rated it a 20 (on a scale of 1 to 10) - much better! He did create a robot and construct a Star-Wars-like walker afterall!





Charlie started picking flowers for me this week.  Nothing sweeter than my boys picking flowers for their Mama (and yes, even my 7 yr old still calls me "Mama" and I love it.  I rue the day he yells "Mom").  Melts my heart.  The first purple blossoms Charlie picked are safely pressed between the pages of a heavy book.  

Friday nights are always pizza & movie night for us, so we invited my parents to join us at a local pizza parlor since we were in their neck of the woods. And you know what?  My baby.  MY BABY. Sat in a booster seat for the first time, sniff sniff, he didn't move, he ate right at the table like he was 5 years old and it was no big deal.  It just isn't possible.
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My boys love their Nana (or "Addie" as Charlie calls her) and their Farfar ( or "Ha-Ha" as Charlie says. That's Danish for grandpa) and we so enjoyed all the extra time we spent with them this week.  We are so grateful to live close by! Have a happy weekend! :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heatwave, ebay, Easy Indian

How's that for a title?!  It is July and the weather is STEAMY!  Andrew's spending his days at a LEGO Camp this week in a nice cool building.  While he's there, Charlie and I are hanging out at my parents.  A lot of time was spent with the water hose today.
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I've been doing some ebay shopping in the comfort of an air conditioned house while Charlie naps.  I was bummed to lose a bid earlier this week on a pair of antique frames that would have been perfect in our dining room.  But today. TODAY.  I won a painting.  Here were some of my favorites.  The one I won will be going over the fireplace in our living room.  You'll have to wait and see which one it is....

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And with all this hot weather, the last thing I want to do is spend a great deal of time in the kitchen.  I'd be content with salads and chickpeas for dinner every night, but my growing boys need something a little more substantial.  I tried this out the other day from Williams-Sonoma.

Basically, dice and saute chicken in a large skillet, then add jar of sauce and cook for about 20 more minutes and serve over rice. It was good,  really good , as in almost as good as when I make it homemade, and so ridiculously easy.  It's not too spicy either.  I served it along with a little yogurt sauce (plain yogurt with  kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, diced cucumber and green onions). Big hit with Charlie, not so much with Andrew (my picky eater).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monograms

Love them!  I'm planning on having a couple monogrammed pillows made for our living room.  I'm wondering... a single initial, three initials, font style, thread color, etc. So inspiration hunting I went...
Old magazines, online, computer files...
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How fun would it be to have a custom monogram made?  One of my favorites is the one used by designer Heather Chadduck in her homes. I think I read somewhere she uses it someplace in every room. I would too!  Here it is on the lumbar pillow in her bedroom.  It's a little hard to tell in this picture.  It looks better in the magazine.  I'm a little too lazy this morning to scan the image and zoom on the pillow, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  It is so pretty!
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Alas, custom designed monograms come with a hefty design fee, but thankfully pretty stock monograms designs are a plenty!  Have a good Monday!  Hot, hot, hot July weather here!

Images: Country Living, Southern Accents, Southern Living, Monogram, Inc., Cottage Living via Holly Mathis

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th

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But I'm missing my brother, even though I know he is having a blast at his Nana and Farfar's house.  It's a little too quiet around here without you!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mayberry with a Starbucks

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When I started this little blog a couple months ago, my intention had been to blog about my little town.  I haven't done much of that yet since I'm pretty certain the only people reading are my dear friends, neighbors and family and all of you know it pretty well here.
 
But today I was reminded how much I love living where I do. 

I love the tree lined streets.
I love that I can run errands with my boys on our bikes.
I love that there are regulations in place that protect homes from being torn down and rebuilt.
I love that we have have an ice cream shop (a really good one), where I sat watching my boys swing their legs under the table today as they enjoyed their afternoon treat - strawberry sorbet for C,
and chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles for Andrew.
I love that my neighbors tell me to hurry over and clip as many of their hydrangea blooms as I like before this first round of blooming is past its peak.
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and we have a Starbucks!