Friday, March 30, 2012

The Vegetable Garden

One of the things that my husband and I both enjoy is gardening, although, I do have to say he does a majority of it now that we have children.  We planted a garden last year, but it was right after we moved in, and there wasn't as much planning and preparation as there should have been.  Once the fall came, Bradley took quite seriously the task of researching gardening in our area, looking at seeds, ordering seeds, and even starting to prepare the ground for another crop.

A few weeks ago he took some time off from work and spent almost all of his spare time making some beds for our garden.  We are blessed to have an easement behind our fence, which borders a large piece of property that doesn't get used.  It's our requirement to maintain the easement, so rather than just leaving it bare, we decided to make the most of it and plant our garden there.  

Bradley did a little bit of research before making these beds, but most of his design was purely from his own head!  He amazes me!

You may notice some red paint on the wood in this picture.  When you shop at Lowe's or Home Depot, be sure to look for carts of discounted wood.  A lot of the wood he used for our garden was marked down to $.50 or $1 or so.  These pieces may have some imperfections, but they are perfect for use in a garden.

A majority of our beds are framed with wood, but there are some areas that are simply marked with rocks.  A friend let us pick up a truck load of manure from his horse farm so Bradley incorporated that, and some hay, into the soil.

This is the second level of the garden.  I love walking in the garden at sunset!

Some yellow squash are already starting to do great.  Bradley started everything from seeds this year, and so my dining room table has been a greenhouse for the past month.  I think it's well worth it, though, to get this many plants from a packet of seeds that costs less than $2.  You can't beat that!

Cherry tomato plants going strong!

This trellis is for some cucumbers that Bradley is trying out.  Apparently they are climbing cukes, so it will be fun to see how they take off.

 Not only does Bradley work on the vegetable aspect of the garden, he also tries to make it fun for the girls {and convenient for me} by building bridges for us to walk across the drainage ditch.  Our neighborhood is still being developed, so we often find scrap lumber and wood pallets in various lots; we try to put them to good use.

As I said this garden is behind our fence, so it's quite a ways away from the house, and the hose.  The other day, Bradley dug a trench through the yard and up into the garden so that we could bury a hose and have a water source right in the garden.  This will make watering so much easier.

I originally wanted to make some pallet art out of these pallets, but Bradley snagged them first and made two bridges.  I rather like his invention!

 Here are some more plants that are almost ready for the transplant to the garden.

We're praying for a bountiful crop this year!  It really is satisfying to 'work the land' and see the fruit of your labors.  I'm so thankful for Bradley and all the hard work he puts into our yard.  Thanks, honey!

Linking to Centsational Girl's Garden Link Party

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Framed Initials

This morning when I got up I made a list of some projects that have been hanging over my head for a LONG time.  During my sleepless nights these days {pregnancy induced insomnia} one of the things that keeps me awake is thinking about unfinished projects.  So, in hopes of eliminating some lack of shut-eye, I've been tackling my list today!  Most things really only took about 5 minutes to accomplish, so it was easy to do in between coloring and tea parties with the girls.

The first project was to finally hang something up in the girls' room.  This project is so easy and I love how it turned out!

My original inspiration came from a Ballard Designs catalog, where they had framed a large letter.  I like the size and texture of the letters you can purchase from Ballard Designs, but was not keen on spending the amount of money that they cost.

A friend had given me some frames leftover from her mom's yard sale; I purchased some samples of paint at Home Depot that were on sale for $.50; using a coupon at Joann's during their coupon madness a few weeks ago, I purchased the first letter of each of the girls'  names.

Here's how you can make your own framed initial:

1. Find a wooden frame that is large enough to hold a letter plaque.  Remove the glass and backing.

2. Stick some thumbtacks into the backside of the frame, to keep it elevated while painting.

Found this trick via Pinterest!
3.  Paint as many coats as needed on your frame to create the look you're going for.  {I didn't sand mine, but it probably would've been a good idea for more even coverage; I'm impatient}.

I loved this paint!  Martha Stewart samples are a bit larger and there is a brush attached to the top of the lid.
4. Allow the frame to dry completely.  Center it on your wall and hang the frame.

5. Attach a hook to the back of the letter {if there isn't one already} using hot glue or gorilla glue.  Hang it centered inside of the frame.

My girls now have a personalized little piece of art above their beds, and they were so excited about them!  They both know their letters and sounds, and the letters of their first names are of course their favorites, so this project makes Mommy and daughters happy :)

 Disclaimer:  I did not complete this entire project this morning.  The frames have been painted and sitting in the garage for almost a month now, so it was just a matter of hanging them up and getting the letters ready.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Few Blogs Worth Mentioning

Over the past few months I've come across some blogs that I'm really enjoying.  I love gaining inspiration for food, the home, and life, so I thought I would share with you my recent blog finds.

First of all, Mignois Home, is a blog that I was introduced to last week, via a highlight from another blog.  After reading Jen's introduction of her blog, I spent the next 30 minutes or so browsing her blog and looking through all of her great pictures.  Here's one of my favorites:  her kitchen.

Another new favorite is Sand and Sisal, by Kim Wilson.  She inspires me all the time with her DIY projects, recipes, and insights on life.  On my to-do list is this project that she recently made:

Just yesterday, my husband introduced me to a new food blog, Love and Olive Oil, by a cute couple Lindsay and Taylor.  Lindsay has a book coming out this June, and while we were browsing through the recipes on her site, my mouth was watering, and my husband was {I think} bookmarking quite a few for me to try.  Check out the picture of this awesome cake:

So, there you have three of my newest blog finds.  I hope you find them as enjoyable as I have!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tie-Up Window Shade

Today I have another little piece of the girls' bedroom to show you.  You can read about the paint color and pillows, if you missed those.  And, for anyone who might be a first time reader, this room is a work in progress, so I've yet to have an entire room reveal!  Hopefully, more will be done in the next few weeks, but we'll see...

My girls' bedroom is great, but the layout has always sort of bewildered me.  There is one window, with space on each side for a twin bed, and we had it set up this way for about a year.  That arrangement always proved to be a temptation to my daughters.  The nightstand was between the beds, in front of the window, and they were constantly climbing onto the table to look out, simultaneously breaking the lamp on the nightstand.  So, I rearranged the room a bit and it's much more conducive to looking out the window.  However, I still had a dilemma of what kind of window treatment to put in their room.  Drapery panels are my absolute favorite, but I didn't want to spend a ton of money on fabric, and the window area was somewhat small for drapes.  After looking through all of my patterns, I re-discovered a book my sister-in-law had given me all about window treatments!  In it, I found the perfect solution to the girls' window!

I basically used the same method as the window treatment in my master bathroom {you can find out about that here}.  However, instead of simply tacking up two sides to create a pleat, I sewed a button on the back of the shade, made a tab to pull up the fabric, and placed a bow on the front.

You can easily undo the tabs to roll down the shade for more window coverage, which is especially great in a kids' room!  I like the simplicity of this shade and the fact that it didn't take me too much time to complete.

I intentionally did not include much in these photos, because there is still a lot of work to do, and I don't want you to see how messy their room was when I was taking these pictures.  But, I do like to keep things honest, so here is a picture of a bare wall that will be receiving some 'love' in the coming days....

Friday, March 23, 2012

Euro Shams with Flange {Peek of the Girls' Room}

If you've followed along for awhile, you know that my goal for the month of February was to finish decorating the girls' bedroom.  February has obviously come and gone, and here we are one week away from April, and I'm still not finished!  I figured that I didn't need to wait until everything was complete, though, to give you some glimpses of what I've been working on.  One project was euro sized pillows for each of the girls' beds.

Over a year ago, before we even moved into our home, I ordered some fabric samples online.  The one I liked best for the girls' room was $14.98/yard, and I just couldn't bear to spend that much at the time.  So, I've been keeping my eye out for a year looking for something that might be comparable.  In February, I took a trip to Hobby Lobby, planning to purchase a fabric a friend had shown me, and what did I find?  Lo, and behold, the same fabric I had wanted last year, only it was $8.99/yard, plus I had a 40% off coupon!!  I was able to purchase the fabric I had wanted all along for just a fraction of the cost!

The second helpful point in this process was a blog post that I found giving a tutorial on how to make a euro sham with flange, exactly what I wanted to do for their room!  You can find the tutorial I used, here,  on Brittany's blog, Coleman Chronicles.  Her tutorial is great and it was nice to just follow directions instead of having to figure everything out on my own!

I still have some work to do on their room, especially with hanging things on the walls, but I'm loving the fabric and paint, and the girls like it, too, which is wonderful!

Stay tuned for more updates on their room's progress!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

One Saturday, a couple weeks ago, the girls begged me to make some cookies.  I knew we were out of chocolate chips, my husband doesn't like peanut butter cookies, and the girls aren't too fond of oatmeal.  So, I quickly searched the pantry and my handy Old-Fashioned Cookies cookbook to see what we could create.  Based upon the ingredients I had on hand, we were able to make these yummy sandwich cookies.  Delicious, I tell you.  They aren't too sweet or too chocolaty, and the cookies have a cake-like texture which makes them especially yummy.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Printable Version

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk

1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425F.  For cookies, stir together 2 cups flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl until fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Add flour mixture and 1 cup milk.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased {or parchment lined} cookie sheets.

The dough is very cake-like, so don't be alarmed

 Bake about 7 minutes or until set.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

For filling, stir together 1/2 cup milk and 2 tablespoons flour in small saucepan over low heat.

Cook and stir until thick and bubbly; continue cooking 1 or 2 minutes more.  Cool slightly.  Beat 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar in small bowl until fluffy.

 Add cooled flour mixture and vanilla.

Beat until smooth.

* Note:  You may want to wear an apron, as the filling could splatter all over you, especially if you have a very pregnant belly :)

Spread filling on flat side of half the cooled cookies.

 Top with remaining cookies.

source:  Old-Fashioned Cookies

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Great Staycation

Happy Spring!  Our area is looking beautiful right now as flowers begin to bloom, the grass is turning green, and the weather has definitely gotten warmer!  I love this time of year!

I'm back!  And, no, I didn't have the baby, in case you were wondering if that was the reason for my absence.  My husband had the past 10 days off and it has been wonderful!  For the past 3 years, he's been in training, so has not been able to use any of his vacation days, but now that he can, we are trying to take advantage of some time off every now and then.  This time, we stayed home and just enjoyed being together.

Here is a little recap of our week:

1) Our garden is looking fabulous!  I'll try to get some pictures soon to post for you.  But, let me just say that my husband is amazing!  He built some raised beds and has seeds germinating inside for our garden this year.  {My dining room table is currently a greenhouse}.  We're praying for a bountiful harvest!

2) Thanks to some friends from church who have a large ladder, I was able to finish painting the girls' bedroom and the baby's room!  I think my days on top of a tall ladder are over for this pregnancy, but I'm glad to have that behind me.

3) The baby's bedding has been started and hopefully will be finished this week.  I LOVE it!!  The nursery may end up being one of my favorite decorating projects that I've ever tackled.

4) Some of our dearest friends came to visit from San Diego.  They had been living overseas for a year, doing mission/human rights work, so it was wonderful to catch up with them and hear about all that the Lord had done through them during their year away.  They flew into Atlanta, so we spent a few hours touring the Atlanta aquarium, which was a blast!  After two days here at home with them, we all went up to SC, and enjoyed getting together with some more very close friends.

5) While in SC, we spent some time with my sister and her husband, which is always a treat!  I'm so thankful that they don't live too far away from us now!

6) A friend here is having a yard sale this weekend to raise money for their adoption, so we cleaned out closets and drawers and hopefully they can sell the items we didn't want in order to help bring home their little girl.

It was a wonderful week and I'm so thankful for the time we were able to have together as a family!  Now, it's back to reality.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Green Chicken Salad

Chicken salad sandwiches are one of my favorite lunches of all time.  I find them especially delicious served on a croissant, with a nice glass of sweet tea or lemonade.  A few weeks ago, while visiting my parents, Bradley and I had the opportunity to go out for lunch one day.  We visited one of my parents' favorite restaurants, and I ordered the soup/salad bar, which was amazing!  Not only did they have garden salad on the bar, but there were pasta salads, fruit/yogurt/granola, vegetable mixes, and a delicious chicken salad.  The chicken salad had green apples in it, something I hadn't seen before, and the taste and texture of the apples were wonderful.  So, of course, I had to figure out a way to copy it.  I call it 'Spring Green Chicken Salad' because the apples and celery are green, giving it a springy look.  And, if you serve it on a bed of romaine, as I did, you have more of that spring green.

Spring Green Chicken Salad

1/2 leftover cooked {grilled, broiled or roasted works fine} chicken breast
1/2 green apple, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise {more or less to taste}
salt and pepper to taste

Chop chicken into bite size pieces.  In a small bowl combine all ingredients.  Serve chilled on a bed of romaine lettuce or atop your favorite bread.

*You can easily adjust the portions to make a larger salad; I was the only adult in the house at lunch time this day, so only needed one portion.  Ignore the slightly browned apples in my photo, too; the 4 children I had that day required some extra attention while I was making my own lunch :) *

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Knock it Off

Whenever I get a store catalog in the mail I can't wait to get into bed later that night and peruse it.  Not for the purpose of purchasing anything, but simply for the purpose of being inspired.  I have countless pages of catalogs turned over with ideas of projects that I would love to recreate!  I've yet to really try my hand at most of them, but it's always fun to try and figure out how I might make what I see.  I thought I'd give you some pictures of  items and let your creative juices flow with ways that you might be able to recreate them for a fraction of the cost.

Ready, Set, GO!

Knotted Door Stop:
Silverware Magnets:
Burlap Shower Curtain:

Burlap Message Board:

Shell Wreath:

Welcome Mat:

Holiday Pillow:


Have you knocked off anything lately?  Where do you look for DIY inspiration?