Baking Day

J has been working...A LOT.  So one afternoon, I decided to do some baking.  Plus, baking breads always makes it feel a bit more like fall to me, and the house smells heavenly for hours.  This day, I decided to do banana bread and oatmeal scones.  Two favorites in our family.

The banana bread baking to a beautiful golden brown (please don't judge my dirty oven, it's about time for a good cleaning).  This time, I added chocolate chips, you can add about anything you want to this bread!  Raisins, different types of chips, nuts, dried fruits, whatever strikes you really.

While that was baking, I got the stuff ready to go for the oatmeal scones.

Blending it up.

Ready for baking! You have to shape it into a circle if you aren't using a round cake/pie pan.  I like the way this bakes on the stone, so I use this method.  Then you score it into 8 pieces with a knife before baking.  Makes them easy to break off afterwards.


Banana Bread

1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar

Mix well, then add:
2 eggs
3 large very ripe bananas
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir it up, don't beat.
Put in an 8 or 9 inch pan, well greased.

Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

*If cut into 9 pieces, each piece has 280 calories.  12 pieces makes each piece 210 calories.

Oatmeal Scones

Pulse in food processor:
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup raw sugar

Beat together:
1 egg
2/3 cup buttermilk

Mix all together until just blended.  Pat into greased 8 inch cake pan or into an 8 inch circle on cookie sheet.  Score 8 wedges with knife.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Cool 15 minutes on cooling rack.

*Each piece is 235 calories.


Baking Center Organization

Eeek!!  This was dancing all over my OCD tendencies.  I just could not figure out a good way to keep this part of the kitchen organized.  It's my baking center, and maybe I just have too much stuff, but after sorting through it, there was nothing I could part with.  Not a durn thing.  So off to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to search for cabinet organizers.

And this is the after.  Ahhhh....  (that was a calming ahhh, not a scream.)  I cleaned out a few canisters from the pantry to give me some more storage for packets like hot chocolate, cider, gravy mixes, etc.  I purchased a set of spice "stairs" (I don't know what they are really called), so I could tier the spices and now I can see them all and reach them without it turning into a scavenger hunt.  I got all the hand mixer stuff and stand mixer attachments out of this cabinet and moved them to a cabinet off to the right, beside the fridge which is to the right of the baking center.  So it is all right beside of this.  Still within reach, but not crammed overhead.

The mixer stuff and a merry-go-round (I don't think this is the right term either) in another cabinet.  All my cookie and cake decorating stuff is in here too, on the merry-go-round, so I can get to it easily.

Much, much better!


Dressing A Wall With What Ya Got

After deciding that this wall in the dining area was too bland, I added a few pictures from different places around the house.  I had the middle print by the front door, but decided it looked better here.  The smaller frames are a matching set and they both had primitive prints in them.  I took one of them out, and used the frame to put around the thermostat (because it's so ugly and kinda just stuck in the middle of this wall).  Now it fits in a little better, and the frame dresses it up.

See...  Isn't that better?  As you can see, it's set at 75.  That is a record for me, I hate my house this hot, but this summer is killing us in cooling costs, so I had to sacrifice.  Thank heavens for ceiling fans.

And, I added a little flower arrangement.  The jar was a find from back home at a little antique store, and I finally found some rusty hydrangeas that matched the style of the jar perfectly.  It came with a flower arrangement wired metal lid, so it was made for some pretty flowers.  I filled the vase with cinnamon potpurri (from Walmart for 1.00 no less!), and it smells divine.  Cinnamon hydranges, mmm...


No More Plastic Tray!

After yet some MORE pinterest inspiration, I decided that I wanted a compartmentalized silverware drawer instead of the flimsy little tray we've had for forever that never held all of the silverware.  We made a trip to Lowe's to get some white pressboard shelving (about 4 bucks a piece, and the project took 3 pieces after cutting them all to where they all had a white top piece and the raw wood wouldn't be showing), and some white tipped screws that would go through the metal side of the drawers.  We measured the lengths we would need and how many compartments I wanted, and J headed next door to use the neighbor's table saw since we don't have one...yet.  Once everything was cut, we slid them in, and spaced them out evenly, and then put two screws on each side of the plank.  After they were all in, J caulked the seams, and I touched up any rough wooden edges with white paint.  Then it dried overnight.

The "before" drawer(s):

The next morning with everything put in them (The second drawer was a last minute decision that I threw out, and even though I don't think J was happy with me, he obliged anyways.  Hey, we had a plank left over!  It made the perfect little space for serveware:)).

They are SO much more spacious than the trays, and I am so extremely happy that it turned out just the way I pictured it in my head. I recommend this easy project to anyone who has a drill. For a little under 20 bucks, it was so worth it.


Bathroom Shelves

Another gift from my darling was a wall decal for the bathroom.  I wanted something for the storage shelves over the tub.  This fit perfectly between two stacks of towels.  It still looks a bit empty to me, but I'm not sure what else I want to put up there.  Maybe some baskets!  I need to go to Michael's.  It's about the only type of crafts store we have around here, and about the only option for a good choice of baskets that won't break the bank.  Any other suggestions for this space?

Happiness is a long, hot bubble bath.  Yes, yes it is...


Melon Man

The designated melon picker in our house is Jason.  I never get good ones, yet he almost always picks the perfect one.  Without smelling it, thumping it, or any of the "tricks" they say works.  He just says "that one looks good" and goes with it.  Hey, it works, so I'll keep letting him pick 'em.  The last watermelon and cantaloupe he picked were so sweet and pretty in color, they didn't stay around long.  It's time to send him back to the store:)


Band-aid Bling

One of my favorite Birchbox contents to date is my box of Cynthia Rowley designer band-aids.  They are so pretty, and have the staying power of the band-aid brand.  I took a chunk out of my finger last week putting on my really cute, strappy sandals.  My finger got stuck under the back strap and got snagged in the buckle, only me, right?  Anyways, it really hurt and was bleeding.  Totally needed a band-aid, so I got to break out my new box (I usually use my Tinkerbell ones).  They are 15.00 a box regularly, so it won't be a splurge I make on my own, so for now I will enjoy the pack I have.  And I don't think I have to worry about J using them:)  I'm sporting the buttons band-aid here.  Aren't they just precious!?



I'm loving the mint trend right now, and though I only have a couple of mint colored items in my jewelry and closet, I did find some mint nail polish in my stash.  It is the perfect summer color for my toes.  I haven't tried it on my finger tips yet because I find that some of the cheaper nail polishes don't hold up so well on my fingers.  This one is by Revlon, and it's called Minted (appropriately).  Just don't laugh at my stubby, crooked toes.  They have character.


I Heart Mod Podge

Ashwee gave me the idea of recovering with scrapbook paper and mod podge for letters, frames, etc.  So I took a letter that was black and kinda boring, made it polka dotted red with some distressing around the edges.  I also did a couple of frames that Ash gave me that were broken and she wasn't using anymore.  I repurposed those, and once Walgreens gets their online photo order system back up, I will order some new prints for these.  The second one is missing a back, so I have to come up with a replacement for that one, and then I will probably hang it or prop it somewhere.  And lastly, I had a plain wooden frame laying around that I painted with Vintage White acrylic paint, then roughed it up with some sandpaper.  I took the back and glass off, and used it to frame a skeleton key and hung it up in my office.  I like the new purpose of it much better.

All of my "new" frames!



When we were home over my birthday, we all decided to do Sunday lunch at Dairi-O's after church.  We drove seperately from Dad and Mom, and got there first.  While we were waiting for them, Austin noticed a teenage guy checking Alaina out.  So he promptly put his arm around her to ward him off (because he is SO threatening).  Alaina was tickled and a little embarrassed, Ashley, J, and I thought it rather comical.  I don't think he's ready to share Alaina's attention yet.  Plus he's already protecting the women in his family (even if it is from pimple faced teenagers)..I like it.


New Take on Journaling

I can't wait to start this!  I saw it on a post here.  After looking it up on Amazon (my favorite place to shop!), and getting to look inside, I decided I needed it.  It's a fun way to record random things every day for a year, then you do it again on the following line for the next year, and so on for 5 years.  I think it will be neat to see how my answers change from year to year.  But, being that it's July, and it will bug me to start in the middle of the year (OCD an' all), I'm going to wait and start it in January.  I've been cheating a little and reading different days, some of them will really change yearly.  I'm excited to get started!


Gel Nail Manicure

Another birthday gift from J was a gel nail starter kit with the UV lamp drying thingy;o)  The gel holds up very well.  I bought a few additional colors, and the picture on the right is coral sunrise.  I am so into coral this year.  I never thought I could wear it, but it's actually a great color for me.  I'm at almost a week with it on and there are no chips whatsoever.  The only problem I'm having is that on the parts where it gets on the skin or a little too far into the cuticle, it tends to want to peel off of those areas, thus causing the rest of it to want to follow.  I guess I have to work on coloring in the lines a little better.


Bling For My Mixer

One of my birthday presents from J was a decal for my beautiful RED KitchenAid mixer.  They are called retro dots, and they are from Etsy (I have serious Etsy addiction problems).  They are so stinkin' cute, I can't stand it!  They make my mixer even cooler, if that was even possible.  (Can you tell this is my fave kitchen appliance?)  I am so happy with the way this turned out!


Completed at Last

I finally feel like we have finished our room!  When Ashley was here, she took some fab photos of J and me for our canvases.  The middle one is obviously from our wedding;o)  The wall words are some I had, but hadn't used yet.  The "faux" canvases were 30 bucks (for the 16x20 size!) from Walmart and were ready same day.  The have the same look as canvas, but are on cardboard frames and much lighter.  I'm so happy with the way it turned out, and I don't feel like that wall is so open and empty anymore.

And here's my new fan.  It is totally post worthy.  If you know much about me, you know I can't sleep without a fan.  My whole family has this condition.  I had to get J used to it when we first got married, but now he can't sleep without one either.  Our old metal fan was great for years, but the motor was burning out, and every time you turned it off, you had to fight with it to get it started again.  So, it was time for a new one..darn.  My new fan has a remote control.  And it's loud, but in a good way.  Most of the time it drowns out the machine gun range, helicopters over head, and normal "living by the woods" noises.  It's called a Wind Tunnel, and you can even mount it to the wall.  Which I won't do, because it goes everywhere that I will be staying overnight.  Our room is now totally complete:)


Because He's A "Just Because" Guy

I love fresh flowers in the house, but don't always splurge on them myself.  So I love it when J surprises me with some!  These were waiting in the car for me one evening that we went to Walmart and split up to cut the time we had to be in purgatory (that's the nicer name for what I refer to the Walmarts here in J'ville...there is not a time of the day..or night, for that matter..that they are not crowded.  Always crowded with rude people and the people straight from the peopleofwalmart.com site, I swear!).  I think it may have been a bit of an apology for his grumpy mood that day too, but either way, I'll take it.  I love the marble roses, and they smell perfect!


New and Repurposed

While spending some time at home last week, Momma and I visited one of our fave stores, Just Plain Country.  Think antiques, primitives, thrift, crafts and a mini-bakery/snack bar all in one.  We can spend an afternoon (or morning) there easily.  I came home with some goodies, of course.  First pick was a rag garland.  A 15 foot rag garland for only 14.99.  That's a score in my book, because these things are time consuming to make and you can't usually find them so long, or so cheap.  It was immediately put in the basket!  I grabbed up some lights to twist into it too.  Unsure of where I was going to use it, until I got home and decided that the entertainment center needed some dressing up.

I think it's perfect, and it's got all the right colors, patterns, and designs in the cloth scraps.  It gives the living room a comfy glow at night.

This was all stuff I already had, and decided to experiment with.  The ladder was a hand me down, and although I loved it, I was never sure how I wanted to use it.  And then I decided on this.  The garland is made up of americana colored berries and rusty stars.  It's woven with little twinkle lights.  I still didn't feel like it was finished, so I added the little barn star, and that made it perfection.  I'm loving it.

The bench and chair were sold as a pair and so they had to come live at my house too.  I've been needing something for under the bar since we don't use it for a bar right now.  It fits perfectly.  The oddly shaped star and vase are new too, bought specifically for this bench.  The geraniums are from Walmart, the picture is a hand-me-down, a stack of cookbooks, top one being my first ever Gooseberry Patch cookbook from Ash, and it's a fall one (she knows me well).  And of course some skeleton keys, because I can't have enough of them.

The chair is in our front room by the door now.  It's super cute and will probably double as a photo prop at some point.  The bench might too.  They are perfectly sized for kids.  For now, though, it holds a candle, a little picture, and my favorite primitive house that lights up.  But the lights don't work.  They dry rotted and burnt out, so I couldn't just replace the bulbs.  Did anyone else know that Christmas lights can dry rot!?  I didn't.  I just special ordered a new strand so I can restring it, since it only takes 10 lights and can't fit a whole big strand.

Well, I think I'm done decorating/re-decorating for a little while.  Til next month.  Then it's August.  And in August, I decorate for fall.  Because I can and I love it.


Alaina's Visit

Alaina spent two weeks with us in June, almost as soon as her summer vacay began, and before horse camps started.  I enjoyed having her here so much, she was wonderful company while Jason's work schedule became so demanding.  We had tons of fun shopping, swimming, going to play mini-golf in Emerald Isle, going to dinner, playing Wii, watching movies, spending a day in Raleigh, and some time just lounging.  We are hoping to get her back down here in the next month or so for another week (if we can drag her away from her new horse, Domino) before she starts her SENIOR YEAR of high school.  This surely can't be right! 

I think Kojak wants her to come back too;o)


Countertop Ice Cream Maker

I've had my eye on this baby for a few months, and it was on my birthday list.  And J got it for me.  I think he got it for himself a little too.  I had picked out the berry blue color because it's just so pretty.  I am so very happy with the way this thing works.  It's so easy, comes with yummy recipes, and it's fast!  Once you have your ingredients mixed and refrigerated, it only takes 15-20 minutes to freeze, no salt or anything.  And the ice cream is right in between too soft and too hard.  It doesn't make as much as traditional ice cream makers, but still made about 4-5 bowls.  We have left overs in the freezer, and it saved really well.  A little harder, but pretty much the same as when it comes out of the machine.  The trick is that you freeze the special container and then when you're ready, you fill it with the ingredients, place it on the base, put the mixing paddle in, cover it and turn it on.  It's still a little loud, but nothing like they usually are.  I highly recommend this, it's a Cuisinart and for 50 something bucks, it's not a bad price.  Yummy.


Coping with the Heat Wave

This is how I'm dealing with heat.  My pool isn't even offering relief at this point, it's like taking a bath.  Outside.  In the hotness.  I wonder if it's possible to have ice brought in by the truckload.  I might swim then.

1.  Ice cream.  It cools from the inside.  This is of the homemade variety.  Our first batch in my new ice cream maker.

2.  Cold Drinks.  These are my two go-tos.  Iced coffee instead of the regular kind with breakfast, and cold, cold water throughout the rest of the day to stay hydrated.

3.  The Wii.  Not only for the sedentary games, but this is how I get my exercise when outside is not an option.  The Michael Jackson Experience, Zumba, and the Just Dances are my favorites.

4.  My fave lounging shorts and a tank.  They even have ice cream cones on them to remind me to eat my ice cream.  As if I need reminding...

5.  Lots and lots of garden veggies.  Especially tomatoes.  And BLT's.  That's dinner for the third time this week tonight.

6.  A pile of new magazines and a good book, my tv remote, my ceiling fan, and the mood lights.  Makes for a cozy afternoon pretending it's not 100 degrees outside.


Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July everyone!  It is hot, hot, hot here today, and J is on duty recovery, so we don't have much planned this year (again), but a cool day indoors relaxing is nice.  We are planning on having a pork roast and some garden fresh veggies for dinner, and then watching Act of Valor this evening.  Hope everyone enjoys their festivities and remember what we are thankful for this day!

In lieu of this nasty heatwave, I have been dreaming and longing for fall, and all the favorite things it brings along with it, so I am starting my countdowns here.  The first one is for the days until fall, the second until our family vacation to Tennessee.  This Christmas lights are because the week we are going to Gatlinburg, is the first week of Winterfest and all of the Christmas celebrations.  I'm just a little totally excited!