Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Best $10 We've Spent

We bought this hummingbird feeder about a week and a half ago. THEY LOVE IT! I'm telling you it is like Animal Kingdom out here. We get so many hummingbirds, in fact tonight while we were eating dinner, there were 5 of them flying around fighting over this sugary red nectar. I think total I have seen around 7 of them flying around waiting for their turn. We got the feeder at Wal-Mart and the nectar is a mix. I have heard that you can use sugar water but the red color is what attracts them.

Mike got this shot (below) this afternoon. It is truly amazing how fast their little wings flap. They are the smallest things and when they are perched on the feeder, they drink the nectar so fast. I think they might eat us out of house and home. I just filled this day before yesterday and they have already gone through half of it.

We had Chicken Bruschetta tonight...oooh, it was so good!

I'm headed to Ohio tomorrow to visit Christy and my parents! So much fun! We have a big weekend planned with trips to Goodwill, the thrift store and so much more!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Inheritance

I come from a long line of homemakers and I am so thankful that I have inherited a love for taking care of my family in such tangible way. It began with my great-grandmother who passed away when I was a little girl, who loved to sew (it probably began before her, but she is who I remember). In fact, my mom tells stories about how she made all of her clothes growing up. She even made her wedding dress, the same one that my sister wore in her wedding.

Then there is my grandmother, Nana. She passed away in 1996 but she left a strong legacy behind. I can still envision the inside of the kitchen cupboard where she had an envelope taped to the inside that had handwritten recipes in it. For me, it was the pies. Cherry in particular! Nana also had an eye for style. Even at night she was dressed impeccably, with a matching silk nightgown and robe. It's from her that I get my love of shoes!

My mom sews and quilts now. She can pretty much make anything--curtains (when I have the big reveal on my kitchen, you'll get to see her handiwork in my windows!), quilts, pillows, bags, purses, make-up bags, anything and everything that has to do with fabric. She's also a pretty mean baker. At Christmas, watch's cookies galore. Every year she pulls out the same tins she has been using since I was little to store the cookies in. She even bakes the same kinds of cookies each year with a few new ones too. It is such a sweet memory.

Next comes Christy. Christy knows how to pull it all together. You walk into her home and want to kick your shoes off, sit down with the cookies she just baked and just relax. I always feel at home when I am at her house. Not because she is my sister and it would only be normal for me to feel that way, but because she really can make everything come together. Her one flaw...she moves her furniture around a lot. I am going to visit her this weekend and I can guarantee that the way it was at Christmas is not the way it is going to be when I am arrive on Thursday. I guess that "flaw" is actually a gift. My furniture will likely stay in the same place for the next 30 years. I don't like change.

Finally, it's comes down to me. It really wasn't until I moved away from home that I got the "Susie Homemaker" bug. And it didn't kick into full gear until I met Mike. To all of the single gals out's true...the way to a man's heart IS through his stomach. Cookies were baked and meals were made. I realized that even as much as I loved doing it for him, I loved doing it for me. With the baking, there is a sense of gladness when I pull out the last try of cookies from the oven and put them on a plate for someone to enjoy. With cooking, it is the experimenting with something new and waiting to see what rating Mike will give it (it's a 1-10 scale and so far there has only been one dish below 7--turns out he doesn't like a fancied up tuna casserole).

I love it. I guess it's my way of showing love. I don't do it out of obligation because I am a wife and that's "my job." I do it because God blessed with me with wonderful women in my life who set the example for me on what it looks like for me to take care of my family. It's not about if you work in your home or work outside the home, because all of these women in my life have done both, in fact I work. It's not about doing and fulfulling the needs of others either. It's also not about if you can cook, sew, bake or decorate either. What is it about then? It's about serving those around you and showing them in a tangible way how much you love them and care for them. Whatever your gifting might be.

This one got an 8 last night. Mike said that if there was meat it would have been a 9. Italian sausage or shrimp would be good. Anything 8 or over gets on the "make again" list.

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
1 12 oz. package dried pasta (any kind you like, I used spaghetti)
4 large tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or 3 teaspoons dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 can sliced ripe olives, drained
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used shaved Parmesan)

1. cook pasta according to directions
2. Meanwhile, combine tomato and next 5 ingredients. Drain pasta and place in large serving bowl. Top with tomato mixture and sprinkle with olives and cheese. Makes 6 servings

And for dessert, you can't go wrong with No Bake Cookies...always a 10! YUMMO!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road or hardwood floors...

This weekend's focus was on getting the floors done in the kitchen. I have one question, well, I actually have more than that, but for this particular situation...why is it that the one item you need to finish a project is NEVER in stock when you need it? As you know we are installing hardwood floors throughout the house. We needed a "transition" piece in order to finish off the kitchen. When I went to Home Depot and to Lowe's to get the piece, they didn't have it. You would think that stores that sell hardwood floors would also sell the items that help you install and finish the hardwood floors. I guess I was wrong. So, after receiving a special order from Lumber Liquidators this week, hopefully I will have another before and after shot for you. Mike worked hard on the floors this weekend.

So did Charlie. He doesn't like the sound of the nail gun and compressor so he retreated to his kennel in the bedroom. Bless his heart. He's very sensitive.

While Mike was working on the floors, I did this.

I wanted to add a little color to the tops of my cabinets so I found the paper at a scrapbooking store, the green paper has little roosters on it, and the frames at Olde Time Pottery (one of my new favorite places). It's along the lines of thrifting and TJ Maxx, you never know what you might find, but when you do, it's always a steal. I already had the rooster. Disclaimer--Please ignore the popcorn ceiling. It was there when we moved in and it's on the "to do" list to one day scrape the ceiling.

And I gave this
A little makeover...

Last night we turned on the TV to relax and were so excited to see that this was on!

Mike and I had so much fun reminiscing about this movie...the first time we saw it, how the flying monkeys scare me (please tell me they scare you too!), the music and our favorite parts. Growing up, it would come on TV every year and to this day, my sister, Christy is scared to death of tornadoes. It's still her favorite movie of all time though. Evidently the movie isn't as captivating to me as it was when I was 6. I fell asleep just as the Tin Man, The Lion and the Scarecrow disguised themselves as the Wicked Witch's castle guards in an attempt to go in and rescue Dorothy. But, I woke up just in time to see the Wizard and Dorothy being launched off in the hot air balloon. Toto had different plans, he jumped out to chase a cat. What a great movie! What movie holds memories for you? What movie takes you back to your childhood?

Have a great afternoon!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thank you!

Thanks to my sister, Christy at Between Here and Home for these two awards!

As she mentioned in her last post, we decided to do this after being inspired by so many other blogs. We have both recently moved into new homes and since we live almost 6 hours from each other we thought we could share pictures and stories of what was going on in our lives.

It has been so much fun writing about our daily lives; who would have thought someone else would find it interesting?! I am blessed every day to visit blogs of women who love Jesus and are willing to share about their lives, their struggles, their families, their decorating techniques...and most of all their hearts. Thank you!

So, in the spirit of these awards, I am passing them along to the following women. I know some of you may have already received these awards, but from me to have inspired me!

Kimba at A Soft Place to Land (her Furniture Rehab 201 post inspired me to buy the footstool)
Katie at Harrington House (She has a beautiful home filled with beautiful treasures and her daughter is the cutest ever!)
Rae at My Life on the East Coast (She lives in a green fun!)
Nicole at Our Cozy Nest (I like the polka dots on her blog!:))
Mrs. Jones at Mrs. Jones (I just found her blog the other day and I'm hooked!)

Your "official instructions" follow. Now go forth and share the love! To the recipients of the
award... pick 5 blogs you consider deserving of this award, whether for creativity, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogging community, no matter what language. Name each nominee and link to his/her blog. Show the award and include the name (and link to his/her blog) of whoever presented you with this award. Link to the Arte Y Pico blog so everyone knows the origin of this award. Post these rules.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday at the Flea Market

The 4th weekend of every month, the flea market comes to Nashville. We are close enough to the city to make the trip to see if there are any goodies. My goal was to find a table for next to our sofa and a maybe come away with a few other good finds. Well, no table (we did find one but the guy wanted waaaay to much for it), but I did find some fabric for some pillows. It was only $2 and $3 a yard.
And this footstool for $8. I plan on using some of my new fabric to recover it.I actually am going back again tomorrow with some girlfriends. Some of the booths weren't open today so I might just find me a table after all.
I made this focaccia the other night, it was very yummy!

Focaccia Bread

2 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white sugar

1 Tblsp active dry yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 pinch black pepper

1 Tblsp vegi oil

1 cup water

2 Tblsp olive oil

1 Tblsp grated Parmesan

1 cup mozzarella (I didn't have any, so I just used the Parmesan)

1. stir together flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and pepper. Mix in vegi oil and water.

2. When dough pulls together, turn it out on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 450. Punch dough down, place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with cheeses.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Home is where your story begins

One of the goals in our marriage is to stay out of debt, so when we bought this house, it was decided that we would take it room by room, fixing things, decorating things, painting walls, etc., as we could afford them. There are so many things that I want to do, that I think I need to do, but when I really think about it, I mean really, really put things into perspective, I realize that the most important things in making this house our home, we already have.

There are the basics, a roof over our head, running water (except that one night…), a bed to sleep in, etc. But there are other things, the irreplaceable things…the things that if the house was on fire, those are the things I would grab...

The footprints of our daughters, Allison and Emily

Photographs of our daughters that the hospital took after they were born

My joy box (everything from cards from Mike to a piece of the blanket I carried around when I was a baby)

Mike’s guitar

A picture of Christy (my sister) and me in front of our grandparent's house

A picture of Nana, my grandmother

The lyrics to the song Mike wrote and sang for me for our wedding

Our wedding quilt that my mom made us and the matching baby quilt she made for the girls with the leftover fabric

Pain and loss hit us square in the face the day our daughters were born and passed. Since then, some things don’t seem as important anymore. Please hear me, I still want my house to be beautiful and to have the right lamp on the right table. I still shop and exhaust all of my options before deciding on a pillow for my sofa. I want things to be pretty. I believe God wants my house to be beautiful because he gave me the desire to make it beautiful. He has blessed us with jobs and a desire to raise a family within these four walls. I guess what I am trying to say is that I need to be reminded that sometimes it's not about the stuff. It's about who He wants me to be.

When I'm gone, will people say, "she had a beautiful house and always looked put together. " I have to say, that would be nice. But instead, I think my true desire is for someone to say, "Yeah, she had a beautiful house and a beautiful family, but more importantly, she loved her Jesus and it showed."

I know the items that I listed are technically earthly things and I can't take them with me when I go. But those are the things that have made me the person I am today. Those things are home to me and they are a part of my story. Each one of them hold a lifetime of memories and have drawn me closer to Jesus.

What things make you who are you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summer vacation

We decided that for this year's vacation we would go to Chicago. We've actually already gone and come back; we went over Memorial Day weekend in May, but are just now getting to edit the pictures.

There were a few reasons why we decided to go there...1) we could fly there cheaper than we could drive (this proved to be true even more so the week we went) 2) Mike could watch his beloved Cubs play 3) I've never been 3) they have good food there and 4) they have Dunkin' Donuts on every corner.

We wanted to go see the city and not really have an agenda. This is out of the box thinking for me. I usually have to have a plan. I need to know what we are going to be doing, when are we going there, where is the desired location and how are we going to accomplish whatever it is we are going to be doing. I tried to let this all go while we were there seeing as how the train system alone sent me into a tizzy. On a side note, our bag was too heavy so in order to not have to pay extra, I took all of my toiletries out of the suitcase and put them in my carry on. I hadn't traveled since 9/11 so even though I had heard about the "regulation sizes" of bottles, for some reason I thought I would be the exception to the rule and after sweet talking the federal agents they would let me keep some of my stuff. I wasn't and they didn't.

Here are few of my favorite shots from our trip.

In this next one, I am standing in front a big mirrored ball thingy, so when you take your picture you get the reflection of who is taking the picture as well. That would be my husband.

This next one was my idea. A funny one I thought.

Here is the city and some of the good food

This was in Chinatown

I found Sweet Mandy B's in an issue of Country Living earlier this spring. It was voted as one of t
he best places to get sweets. YUM!

Clearly I enjoyed it.

Okay, on that note, I need to start dinner. Tonight is Chicken Caesar Salad and homemade focaccia night!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Charlie (and recipe)

So we have a dog. Actually I have a dog. Mike refuses to claim him. His name is Charlie and he's a Cairn Terrier (like Toto from The Wizard of OZ). Actually it's Charles Franklin--I loved Little House on the Prairie growing up and Pa was my favorite--he's named after Charles Ingalls. Since every dog needs a middle name, Franklin sounded good and it was the city I used to live in. Charlie is 6 years old.

When most people write about their dog they share what they do and how their pet makes them laugh--running and playing, chasing the ball, jumping in the pond, etc. etc. I would like to do the same. Here are a few action shots...
He leads a good life doesn't he? No need for him to do anything else--he knows I love him and will take care of him no matter what. Mike, on the other hand, wonders when he is going to do something productive. I tell him that Charlie is sticking with what he is good at.

You see, Charlie falls into the category of, "a special needs dog." He's the only dog I know who has actually been diagnosed with OCD. It's quite funny sometimes, watching him bite the air thinking there is something flying around his head. He also has seizures because of a lesion on his brain. I spent oodles of money on him trying to find out what was wrong with him several years ago (this was pre-Mike). The vet wanted to send him over to UT in Knoxville so that they could study him and do more testing! I had to come to my senses and realize that although he is part of my family, he is a dog.

So, now, we live day to day. Sometimes he sleeps in the bedroom, sometimes in the living room. Sometimes he likes to sit in the sun, sometimes under a table. Sometimes he likes to sit at the front door and watch all the other dogs go by and sometimes, well, pretty much all the time, he likes to nap. He's like an old man.

All kidding aside, if any of you have ever had a dog, you know what I mean when I say that dogs add so much to your life. I know there will come a day when we might have to get rid of Charlie or something will happen to him (like Mike might leave the gate open) but in the mean time, I'll keep loving him and taking care of him and he'll keep being the loyal lazy dog that he is.

PS. Here is the recipe for the Artichoke Chicken dish from the other night:

1 can (15 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3/4 grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup mayo

1 pinch of garlic powder

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375

In medium bowl, mix together artichoke hearts, cheese, mayo and garlic powder. Put chicken in a greased baking dish and cover evenly with artichoke mixture. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes in preheated oven or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and juices run clear.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Something sweet for Saturday

What to do with all those blackberries?

And with the leftover crust you cut off the sides of the baking dish?......

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, July 18, 2008

My first Before and After!

My washer and dryer are home again and no longer in the middle of my kitchen! The laundry area floors are finished!
I first want to show you the amazing color we covered up with the new paint. There was actually an off white that covered the entire house but upon further investigation, this is the color that was underneath the next layer of paint.
I personally like the yellow undertones. Because it is an open floor plan, we painted the hall, the living room, kitchen and laundry area the same color; "Withered" by Making America Beautiful (MAB), a close match is "Clay Pebble" by Behr at Home Depot. It's a nice, soothing, neutral, sagey green.

This is the vinyl flooring we are pulling up. This picture is looking into the kitchen and laundry area from the living room. The checkered pattern is a forest green, so I'm sure it went nicely with the lemon/lime sherbert walls.
After painting, we had to get rid of this...So that Mike could build this...When all is said and done, this is what it looks like where I do laundry.
You can see the wall color better in those last two pictures. We still have to paint the door (we are using Creamy White from Lowe's on all the doors and trim), put the last baseboard back on and put in a new floor vent. We don't have a lot of cabinet space in the kitchen so I am using these baskets for some storage area.
Mike will start on the kitchen floors within the next week hopefully! We are only doing the kitchen, entry way, living room and hallway. The bathrooms will be tiled and the bedrooms will have carpet.
Stay tuned for more pictures!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy 12th Birthday Sam! (my nephew)

Dear Sam,
We wish we could be there in Ohio celebrating your birthday with you! I know you will have tons of fun with your friends at the pool and then back at your house for some chocolate pecan pie! I want you to know how special you are to me and Uncle Mike. We love you very much and are so proud of the young man you are becoming. 12 years old!!!
I remember the day you were born. I got to hold you and snuggle with you. I'll save you the embarrassment of posting a picture of when you were born! You were a beautiful baby and now you are a handsome "almost teenager."
We send our love to you today, on your birthday. May this next year be one of many new experiences and memories made!

We love you,
Say Say and Uncle Mike

Donuts, Creme Brulee and Artichoke Chicken

We hit a little snafu last night. We decided to start the hardwood adventure in the laundry area. As Mike was nailing the baseboards back on we hit a copper pipe in the wall. I guess that is why they call them "hidden pipes." As water was leaking onto our new floors, Mike ran out and turned the water off. It stayed off. Until this morning. I'll save you the details of us washing our hands and faces and brushing our teeth with leftover water from a thermos Mike had taken to work. So, with the water being off, I couldn't have my coffee this morning, all ready to go for me by the time I got up. I love coffee machines with automatic timers! So, with no coffee, a decision had to be made.
After retrieving a new copper pipe from Lowe's, Mike mentioned that he could "sweat the pipes" if he had a blowtorch. I'm no plumber, and neither is Mike, but in his handiness, he soldered the pipes together and fixed it (I know that word doesn't look right, but I looked it up and that's the right spelling. I wanted to spell it "sauder"). Anyway, who knew that my Creme Brulee Torch Set from Williams Sonoma would come in handy on a day like today!

The pipe has been fixed and the floors are in! I'll have pictures tomorrow.

While he was finishing up, I fixed us some dinner--Artichoke Chicken.

I almost wanted to spread a blanket out on my new floor and have a picnic.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The sound of progress

Mike is working away. As we speak he is hammering nails into hardwood floors. His comment to me was, "wouldn't it be cool to say that I hand nailed the entire floor?" I just looked at him, knowing that there is a tool called THE NAIL GUN! He believes in true sweat equity. Either way, we are making this house our home. A place we will hopefully live in for the rest of our lives. When we were looking for a house we knew we could do one of two things. 1) buy a house, do some work on it and then flip it, or 2) buy a house we both loved with the intention of putting some hard work into it and hopefully living in it long enough to see our grandchildren come and visit. We chose the latter.

I was a little nervous moving out to the country (when I think country I think farmland. Technically we don't live on a farm, but we do live in a small neighborhood with huge lots and our house backs up to a farm, so in my mind, we are smack dab in the middle of the country). It's great to walk out into your backyard and see this....

Blackberries...I've already made 2 cobblers with my sister's recipe. YUMMO!

Apples...I haven't had the courage to bite into one yet

Pears...Mike bit into one and he looked like he bit into a lemon. I'm guessing they aren't ready yet.

Grapes...coming soon...Pleasant View Vineyards!

And oh...what is this???

Baby mockingbirds nestled in the grapevine!!!!

Over the course of the past couple of years I have become a nature lover so having this all around me has been so great. I am thankful today for the birds singing, the sun shining and life growing and blossoming right in my backyard. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I would like to introduce you to someone...The Handyman (aka Mike). You usually save the best for last but I couldn't help myself. Here he is showing off a recent gift....(the grill, not the charcoal and lighter fluid)

He's also a high school math teacher. I hate math. Really. It makes my stomach hurt. I had to tell him on our first date that I didn't like it. I can't do fractions (seriously), and I sometimes still use my fingers to count (seriously). Thankfully my cell phone has a calculator on it for emergencies. He's the handyman in every sense of the word--he can hang stuff, fix stuff, saw stuff, dig stuff up, and cut stuff. Could I ask for anything more?

We just bought a house in the country outside the suburbs of Nashville. It is new to us, but definitely a fixer-upper. We are so excited about the process of change we will see over the coming months of settling in. All we have now are the before pictures seeing that we haven't made a dent big enough to take the after pictures.

Because I'm an early riser, I'm also an early to bedder. I think I just made that up. So, as the sun sets over the horizon in my backyard, I'll say goodnight.