Thursday, September 29, 2011

Brownies from scratch

I made some brownies last weekend for my husband's birthday. We have two birthdays within two days of each other--husband and our son--so, it makes September a little busy!

This is a favorite recipe in our family. My mom got it a long time ago from a neighbor....I love it because it's easy and it uses just one pot and a pan. Quick clean-up! Plus...I like easy from-scratch recipes. Baking from scratch is not all that hard and I think of it as a bit of a lost art.

First, melt the butter with the brown sugar and vanilla...then eggs.

 Then you add the dry ingredients.

Mix it up, baby!

 In the meantime, the pan has to be buttered.

Because the mixture is warm, the chocolate chips melt fairly quickly when added.

 Pour into the pan....and bake.

Our Favorite Brownies
3/4c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2c butter
1c brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 6oz package chocolate chips

Melt butter and brown sugar in large saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Beat in eggs and add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, baking powder and chocolate chips. They should melt quite a bit, as the mixture is warm. Pour into buttered 8x8 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Frost when cool.

Although I skipped the frosting so we could make brownie sundaes--vanilla ice cream with choice of strawberries and chocolate sauce or ice cream with caramel sauce--the frosting for these brownies are TDF.

1/3c soft butter
1/2c brown sugar
1T cream
1/4c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

And....if the brown sugar-y frosting isn't your taste, try a cream cheese frosting....can you tell I have a frosting problem?

Leah's Cream Cheese Frosting

16oz powdered sugar
1 8oz block of cream cheese
1 stick butter

Yum....and enjoy!

May link to these parties....
Time Travel Thursday at The Brambleberry Cottage
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Show and Share Day at Just a Girl
Simply Creations Link Party at Simple Home Life
Addicts (not so) Anonymous Addicted to Decorating
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming
Project Parade at The DIY Showoff
Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop at Homemaker on a Dime
Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday at Crayon Freckles
Sunday Shake-up at Jacque's Soda Parlor

Monday, September 26, 2011

A new addition

I've been looking for something special for our dining room. This room has been  going through a bit of a transformation. We've lived in our house for two and a half years and we have used our dining room, dining just one time. For a party.

Since we have a nice big table in our kitchen, we didn't seem to use the dining room table at all. Well....I did use it to wrap Christmas presents. But....since it didn't get a lot of use, I made the decision to repurpose the room.

This idea was met with skepticism by a few with whom I shared it....but I decided to proceed anyway. Since I'm a music teacher and my kids are showing interest in music, I decided to make the room function as a music room.

And so.....

 I had been shopping around on Craigslist for a used piano and found nothing that qualified. The mother of a neighbor of a friend is downsizing to move into a condo and had no room for this beautiful instrument.

Now it lives at our house!

It was so nice to be gifted with a piano from someone who wanted it just to be loved and used.
We paid for the delivery and will need to get it tuned and have some minor repairs done. We are so excited!!

It's so beautiful and it matches the furniture in the room perfectly. We are so grateful to have a beautiful instrument that is a part of our house now.

I've got some other projects underway in that room. Stay tuned....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Makeup brush storage

Happy weekend! It's been rainy and a bit on the chilly side here this week....definitely feeling like fall has arrived!
I was inspired by a picture I found on a blog and pinned on Pinterest...I'm always loving storage of practical items that looks artful.

The photo I pinned was of makeup brushes stored in a jar of coffee beans. The added benefit there would be the aroma of coffee beans to accompany you while you put your face on.

Do coffee beans smell? Or just ground coffee beans? I have no idea.

Well, I had on hand a square glass vase and some rounded pebbles....I happen to love these pebbles from IKEA. I use them to grow paperwhites in the wintertime and cover the soil of houseplants with them. And.....suspend makeup brushes in them.....

I love the look and the accessibility. How do you store your makeup wares?

Linking to these parties....
Time Travel Thursday at The Brambleberry Cottage
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Show and Share Day at Just a Girl
Simply Creations Link Party at Simple Home Life
Addicts (not so) Anonymous Addicted to Decorating
Flaunt Your Flowers at Tootsie Time
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming
Project Parade at The DIY Showoff
Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop at Homemaker on a Dime
Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday at Crayon Freckles

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Espalier experiment

Espalier is the art of growing a tree--generally a fruit tree--in a shape by tying or attaching the branches so they grow in a flat plane, usually in a formal design.

I've always been intrigued by espalier. The pictures are so pretty, especially when they are in flower or in fruit.

So, recently at school, I noticed there was a little seedling in the garden outside my room. I have a little covered area with a bench outside of the exterior door to my classroom. I like to call it "the patio." The seedling seems to have come from a crabapple tree nearby.

I asked my principal if it was okay if I dug it up. Honestly, the maintenance men do their spring clean-up with a weed-whacker. I felt for this little seedling that got hacked half to death each year. My principal said I could dig it up and plant it at my house. She is a savior of the earth, for sure.

I dug it up and brought it home.

Here is the spot where I envision my espalier. I've read up a bit on it and apparently, a brick wall provides a bit of a microclimate, since the brick absorbs the heat from the sun during the day and lets off the heat when the sun goes down. I also thought this area could use a bit of visual interest. This area of the garden is a bit challenging, since all of the utility wires run down this side of the house. It makes planting here a bit tricky...but right next to the wall, you miss the wires and that is where I planted the seedling.

Although my seedling had two nice shoots, I decided to prune off the smaller of the two to have one central leader on my tree.

I planted the seedling against the brick wall. I've decided to let it have a little time to get acclimated before I start doing some heavy-duty tying of branches to wires to shape it.
I'll keep you posted.....

Linking to these parties....
Time Travel Thursday at The Brambleberry Cottage
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Show and Share Day at Just a Girl
Simply Creations Link Party at Simple Home Life
Addicts (not so) Anonymous Addicted to Decorating
Flaunt Your Flowers at Tootsie Time
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming
Project Parade at The DIY Showoff
Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop at Homemaker on a Dime
Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday at Crayon Freckles
Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Legos are taking over my life....

I consider myself to be fairly skilled at solving organization problems.

Need a way to organize kids' art supplies? I got your back.

Paint chips and fabric swatches snowed you in? No problem....I've got a fix.

How big was that plant supposed to be? Just look in the plant label book!

So....if organizational answers come easily to me, why are Legos taking over my life?

They're in pots. In pans. In nearly every large plastic food container we own.

Here is a picture of me keeping it real. Legos all over the table....sweatshirt hanging on the banister. Our fleet under the table.

How can I say no to Legos and my little guy when they make him so happy?

Got any solutions?


Saturday, September 17, 2011

What's in bloom?

Well, I must say that we are much more technologically "with it" these days around the house since our desktop computer met an timely demise. The thing was nine years old, so I guess we are lucky it lasted that long! I remember we bought it when I won an iPod from Time magazine. : ) Our computer at the time was not sophisticated enough to handle an iPod.....and it was the first iPod, the iPod mini.

Since we now have two laptops and no desktop, I had to figure out that I needed to buy a card reader for our digital camera memory card. The cord to my camera is lost and I no longer have the software to install...: ) So, I think I am good to go with my handy little card reader and it should work for someday when I can invest in a nice camera!

On to the is my liriope. Earlier this summer, I posted about how I divided a huge clump of these and planted them around the front yard. I have been amazed...these plants are so tough, they flowered even after being divided in the middle of July! : ) I know many who like plants that flower more profusely don't care for these. I like them for the shape they add to the garden and the purple flowers are welcome in the later summer months when many perennials have done their thing.

Right by the liriope above, I have sedum 'Autumn Joy.' I like the color and seasonality of these, but mine seem to be so squatty. I wish they were a little bigger. Perhaps I need a different variety. Any suggestions??

I don't cut them back at all until the spring so the brown flower heads add some winter interest.

I am beyond excited about this is caryopteris, or commonly known as bluebleard or blue spirea. It is a late season plant, coming into bloom in late August into September. I bought this plant last fall at a huge garden sale in the bargain bin. I think it cost $4.  I love the color it adds, as well as having something blooming into fall. It's kind of like dessert after a great meal. : )

The bees have been enjoying it, too. I think this plant is underused!

Last, my hibiscus put on a bit of a last show after I thought it was all bloomed out....what a treat! I'll take more of that anytime.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Roomspiration...Living Rooms


I hope you all are having a nice week! I'm still struggling here with our tech problems, but I linked up my living room to the Roomspiration event going on in blogland right now!

Definitely check it out and link up!

I linked up my post about our living And....also, our living room once I added our silhouettes here.

Be sure to check out some of the great rooms! It's dropping down to highs in the 60s this week--lows in the 40s, brr!--so I'm looking forward to settling down and checking out some great rooms!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gotta love technology...

I've been a little MIA lately.....attributed mostly to school starting up and September being a really busy month in our family with two birthdays in the middle of it!

And.....our computer recently bit the dust and had to be replaced. Although it's really nice to have a new computer, we've been installing stuff and a wrench has been thrown in the works. I can't upload my pics the same way.


So, while I have some beautiful pics to go along with some lovely posts, they (and you) will just have to wait.

I'll be back...with a vengeance! : )

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sunset Cruise and Lace Coasters

Whew....what a draining week! I feel like this week was nonstop...and Monday was a holiday! : )

 I recently got to spend an evening in the company of my girls....that would be my mom and my sister. It really was such a treat and something we should do more often.

I spent the night at my mom and dad's lake cabin and my sister and her husband have a place a few doors down. No husbands or kids allowed! We took a sunset cruise on the boat with cocktails. A fun time was had by all.

Those are our matching lake t-shirts. We bought them at the craft show at the lake last year. We were also really jealous of these people...

...who seemed to be having a super fun party. It looked like a luau. I wish we could have crashed it!

I thought I'd share with you a pretty and easy project my sister did! She made these coasters....

So cute! She was inspired by Martha Stewart Living, where they explained it step-by-step. She used spray adhesive to put the lace on a ceramic tile, then spray painted on top of it. Depending on the lace, spray paint color and tile color, the possibilities are endless.

And if lace is not your thing, you could do the same with a mesh fabric. Especially if you wanted a more contemporary look. Genius!!

That girl is gettin' her craft on!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Brightening up the china cabinet

I've been working on some projects for our dining room in the last several months. This room is getting a bit of an overhaul and I'm too excited to share the details as they come together. We're getting a special deliver tomorrow!

We have a bunch of great antique furniture in the room that came from my husband's mother's side of the family. They are so beautiful and in good condition. If I'd picked them up at a yard sale, I might be inclined to paint them, but since they are family pieces, I don't want to alter them.

One of the pieces is a china cabinet. Here is a pic of it in our old house:

Very nice...has great shape and some cool scrollwork over the glass. Well, now in our new house, it's on the same wall as the window and it looks there. Here is a pic I took of it here (it's really a pic for the paint samples, but it works).

You can't even tell there are shelves, really.

Again, without wanting to alter the cabinets too much, I decided there must be a way to brighten it up. Paint would have looked awesome in the backs of those shelves....sigh.

Never fear...finally I had a brilliant idea! I used scrapbook paper to line the back of the shelves with a pattern. Scrapbook paper is one of my favorite home dec solutions. The colors and patterns are great and it's dirt cheap. Mine was on sale even...I bought 11 sheets for about $2.75.

I used rulers and my cutting boards to cut the paper. Since the backing was about 34 in long, I had to cut three pages and tape them together. The patterns also had to be matched.

I used double-sided scrapbooking tape to adhere the pieces together. Then, I added small pieces around the perimeter to stick it to the back of the cabinet. I will confess...once I put them it there, I had to take them out and trim them a tad.

And here she is......

Of course, with two children around, a bit of glass cleaner was needed....

I like seeing a bit of color and pattern in the back there. It certainly adds a little interest. Now I have to figure out how to use the shelves in a pleasing and functional way!

Which might be harder than figuring out how to brighten up the dark cabinet. : )

Linking to...
Before and After Party at Thrifty Decor Chick
Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming
Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop at Homemaker on a Dime
Wow Me Wednesday at Ginger Snap Crafts
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Potpourri Friday at 2805
Addicts (not so) Anonymous at Addicted 2 Decorating
Show and Share at Just a Girl

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Well, I've been a part of the blogging world now for the better part of a year and I'm definitely enjoying my little corner. I'm constantly inspired by things I see and I've enjoyed meeting new bloggers!

I was recently nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award from Jen at The Domesticated Nomad. I love her blog--especially her Tuesday Art Adventures! I have two little ones and I'm always looking for new art activities to do with them.


Upon accepting the award, the recipient must thank the blogger who awarded him/her (thank you, Jen!), share seven things about him/herself and share ten newfound blogs. we go.

7 Things About Me You May Not Know

1. I love anything with icing.
2. I am a magazine junkie. I think I may have a problem.
3. I have traveled to 40 of the 50 states.
4. I have a green thumb and love to spend time in my garden!
5. I enjoy working out and like to do a lot of strength training.
6. I could spend my days reading books and be perfectly happy.
7. I'm fairly handy and enjoy fixing things up around the house.

10 Newfound Blogs (and a few favorites, too)
1. Crayon Freckles
2. Curds and Whey
3. Don't Disturb This Groove
4. Mish Mashed: Diary of a Supermom
5. Confessions of a First-Time Dad at 45
6. Pleased as Punch
7. The Impatient Gardener
8. Tootsie Time
9.Ginger Snap Crafts
10. Tulip and Turnip

Hope you enjoyed learning a few random things about me and checking out some new blogs!

Enjoy the long weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What's in bloom: Annuals on Parade

Well, hello, friends....long week here. Still getting back into the school routine....and had a friend and colleague pass away this week.

Nothing like some flowers to brighten up your day a little if you need it.

I must say that my annuals are just full of themselves now that it is the beginning of September and they have had a few months to get their you-know-what together. Any of you bloggers out there feel like posting about one thing leads to many other posts?? You may see some posts coming soon that have been inspired by what you see today. : )

First up....petunias! I think petunias are very user-friendly....especially the new varieties. Luckily, with so many varieties coming out, you can't get tired of them and they haven't fallen into that "unfashionable" category that some annuals do. These petunias were bought for $1 off the clearance rack at a box store. Gorgeous!

As well bought at the box store, these vincas were begging for a good home. I love the glossy green leaves and the persistent blooms. I have no variety name for these...but they have blossomed here at my home.....pun intended.

I was SUPER excited about the purchase of this mandevilla plant. Most of the places that I see mandevilla vine sold--it is way overpriced. I found mine at a local garden nursery, marked down kind of pricing. I think many people buy these and let them die out at the end of the growing season. I'm planning to overwinter mine inside and let it do its thing again next spring!! My variety is 'Bridal Cascade.' It has been going nonstop all summer.

Sunflowers...I'm kind of obsessed with them! So pretty and such a down-to-earth and easygoing flower. (I kind of think they would represent me if I had to pick one flower to do so) These I had planted last summer and they reseeded themselves. I think the coloration is just beautiful. I love to cut them and put them in the house....luckily, the sunflowers don't mind and just continue to bloom. They have given me a new appreciation for reseeding plants. favorite flower. I will post about these in the next few weeks!

Citronella-scented geraniums...I picked this up at the local farmers' market from a gentleman who propagates his own annual, herb and perennial cuttings and sells them for fun.

Here...a really deep maroon/pink petunia, from farmer market garden guy.

Marigolds from the box store, on clearance in June. Pretty color.....marigolds tend to get a bad rap from those who would consider themselves "serious gardeners."

(My apologies....I seem to have some formatting problems I cannot fix.)

Last, sweet alyssum. This is the species below....I love the persistent bloom. Also, my grandmother planted alyssum.  I like to plant a few "family" plants.

Hope you have had a great week and are looking forward to the holiday weekend!

Linking to...
Flaunt Your Flowers at Tootsie Time