Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Decorating Seasons: Memorial Day to 4th of July

I love this country and I love to decorate for summer with Americana and Red, White and Blue! I set up for Memorial Day in May and it continues to work for Flag Day in June and, of course, the 4th of July.

The Mantle

The picture is Plymouth, Mass, with the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock front and center.

Uncle Sam and a 48 star flag

Lady Liberty

A new banner

My Amish goose sits on a flag quilt on the coffee table

Betsy Ross welcomes guests on the entrance table

The burlap-covered dining table gets it summer look with a large fabric flag and red roses from the garden.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mother's Day Lunch

On Mother's Day, we usually all gather at my house and my husband and children make lunch while I play with the grandkids. This year I made my kids a deal: I would cook if they finished putting the roof on my patio. 

They took the deal!

 Tablescape: an English Country look
These English Garden dishes came from the Dollar Store many years ago!

The menu:
Fruit Salad Dip with Cinnamon Chips
Pepper Cheese Spread with various Crackers
Chicken in a Creamy Artichoke and Mushroom Sauce
Spinach Salad with Berries
Sourdough Bread
Brownie Cheesecake

Unfortunately, it was a very hot day and someone had to be on the roof of the patio. They decided it should be the smallest one (Daughter), while the 2 big ones would hand up the heavy 4'x8' sections and get them into place.

They finished the roof just as lunch was ready and it is beautiful!

Next project: stylin' the patio!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Family Recipes: Brownie Cheesecake

I created this delicious recipe last year for my son's rehearsal dinner. Needless to say, it was a huge hit!

Brownie Mix of your choice
2 1/2 packages cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

1. Make brownie mix according to directions. Pour into large springform pan, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until brownie starts to set. (Be sure to place pan on baking sheet)

2. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, milk, eggs and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

3. Pour cheesecake mixture over brownie, bake at 300 for 1 hour. Turn oven off and cool in oven 1 hour.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Decorating is in the Details: Pillows

I love pillows. I think most people do. They add color and depth to a room, whether in a pop of color, or simply layers of pattern and shades of the same color. Plus, next to paint, they are about the cheapest, easiest way to change up the look of a room!

But I always want unique pillows, ones that others don't have. To that end, I rarely buy pillows, I almost always make them. And remake them. Sometimes I just make pillow "slipcovers" that I put on right over the old designs, and sometimes I take off the old pillow covers; when I do, I usually find 4 or 5 designs until I actually get to the original, so it becomes a walk down memory lane!

Here are some I have been working on recently:

This one was for my daughter, an English major who loves Shakespeare: some famous sayings from his plays.
I used stamps because I wanted all the fonts to be different.

I made these 2 for my son and his new wife.
I just painted them freehand.

 These are some pillows I made for the daybed in my craft room. I wanted them to be playful and girly because my granddaughter takes her naps in here and has tea parties at the little table.
Some closeups
This fabric was really the starting point. It was exactly the feeling I was looking for: whimsical flowers, ladybugs and butterflies!

When I made a new slipcover for my couch, I also needed to make new pillows. So I made 10 of them!
I especially love this little blue one. I made it from a sweater that I kept saving from the donation pile year after year because I loved the color and the little buttons that ran down the side. But the style didn't look good on me, so I kept putting it back in the give-away pile. But a few months ago, I finally had an idea: make it into a pillow!

 This one is just a leftover piece of burlap that I drew a P on (for our last name) and stamped a design.
 Here's the couch with all 10 pillows!

Change the color, pattern and size, and you can change the whole look of a room. And they are so easy; if you can sew a straight line, you can make a pillow!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Decorating Snippets

I had my camera out the other day and decided to snap some more pictures of some of my favorite vignettes.

This little church birdhouse was a gift when my children were little. It sits on a blue journal that was written by my great-grandmother about 100 years ago. The little silver tins also belonged to her. Her name was Lottie Gathing Baldwin, widowed and lost her only son in the same year, raised her 2 daughters alone in Texas, then moved west with her youngest daughter (my grandmother) and son-in-law during the Depression. 

 My oldest friend, Bonnie, gave me this picture several years ago. She and I have been friends since we were 10 years old (never mind how many years ago that was!). The little marble-top table was my dad's and the pitcher, a gift from my husband.

 My stepmother brought me this pitcher from Ireland many years ago. It was made by monks at a monastary that has been in existence for hundreds of years, making this pottery the same way, from the same clay, for all those years.

 The angle is kind of funny because this is a corner, but I love this painting. It belonged to my dad, as did the little outfits hanging below. They were made by my grandmother in the 1930's.

The bottom of this little tea cart holds some of my quilts. The rooster is one I found at a shop in Chico, Ca; my granddaughter loves to place her little stuffed bear on it and push it around the house.

What are some special pieces you decorate your space with? I would love to see them!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May: Busy Month of Gardens, Birthdays, Travel...

This is going to be a crazy busy month and it has started all ready!

First, I am behind getting the garden in. Maybe this is something I should have let go this year, but I  miss being able to just step outside for fresh vegetables and herbs; we had a lovely garden at our old house.

 I had thought we would have the garden's permanent location ready by now, but alas, that is not to be. Maybe next year...

In the meantime, the grandkids and I planted seeds a few weeks ago and they are starting to sprout. 
So Husband sorted through some old wood and put together another "temporary" raised bed.
 Last year we only did pumpkins and sunflowers since we were so busy getting the house livable,
but this year we have a much more ambitious plan: corn, tomatoes, peppers, peas, watermelons... and a few surprises for the kids...

I am also planting a separate herb garden by the back patio.
Not quite there yet!

Second, May and June are full of birthdays and other occasions, starting with my daughter's birthday, which we celebrated last night.
Emmett and I made her a banner for the mantel from old book pages.
I picked some roses from the front yard for the centerpiece; they sit in the milk bottle holder she bought me for Christmas. 
The menu consisted of stuffed mushrooms and zucchini, grilled steak marinated in a lemon-cilantro sauce, talapia with a ginger-cilantro marinade, spinach and strawberry salad, and the coolest cake ever, made by my talented daughter-in-law, Bethany.
Not only is this adorable, it was delicious! (Caitlin loves owls, by the way).

Next week is Mother's Day and, hopefully, the finishing of the patio roof--that's what I asked my kids for instead of a gift!