Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheap to Chic: Finishing Touches

     We moved to Rhode Island last June, but I am still putting the finishing touches on the boys' room.  Nothing like the impending arrival of yet another boy to get you in gear!  You may recall my personalized oar tutorial, which I used as a piece of decor to tie together the nautical theme.  I still have a ways to go, but I wanted to show you a couple of new additions to the room.
     Months ago, I saw the cutest little wooden chair, and I knew it would be an adorable addition to the room.  All I had to do was sneakily cross the street, and nab it from my neighbor's trash pile out for pickup. (Don't judge, it was very sturdy, and I couldn't bear to see it go to the landfill!) I gave it a new coat of paint, and it is like new! Nolan loves sitting in it while he watches Thomas the Train.

 Here is the chair to start.  It needs a little TLC.

 Here it is after a coat of spray paint.  Note: I couldn't find the red color I wanted in satin finish, so I bought a glossy paint, then shot a layer of clear satin over it.  Easy!

Here is a close-up.

Next, I took an old cracker crate and made a book shelf out of it.  It was as easy as putting some anchors into the wall, drilling two holes in the crate, and hanging it on the wall.  Look how cute it turned out.

I put some old books and a little globe inside, and I think it adds a lot of visual interest to the room.

 I bought the crate at a flea market for $5 a while back.

I love the old lettering on the side of it.

My husband Brett had the idea to frame a nautical chart for an authentic feel for our little sailors.  He's in the Navy, so he knows about these things. :)

Next up is a new bed for Hudson and and quilt, too.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Tribute to My Grandma

     My grandma was one of the most complex people I've ever known.  She could be syrupy sweet, baking pies and teaching you to sew, and she could reveal her fiery Irish temper in a hot second.  She held to her beliefs as if they were the air she breathed.  My grandma never wore pants, only skirts.  She never cut her hair.  She would buy 5 cent flower vases at flea markets to sell for a 95 cent profit at a florist while she was at the same time squirreling away thousands of dollars in envelopes on her closet floor.
     My grandma loved to cook, and her meals were extravagant.  At Christmas or Thanksgiving, there was often several kinds of meat offered, from roasted turkey, ham, or roast beef.  Her mounds of mashed potatoes were legendary.  Her specialty was baking pies, and when she got a bee in her bonnet she would make an entire pie for each person in attendance.  She always wore the same apron when she was preparing meals, one my mom had made her, with apples representing each grandchild.  We were her life, and she would do anything to make us happy.  That included driving hours to see a volleyball game, sending a card for every little holiday (especially St. Patty's Day), and coming up with crazy nicknames to call us. (I was always known as MacDougal.)
     Her life was spent serving others.  Even in her eighties, she would show up at her church when they asked for volunteers to clean or work.  She had a heart for animals, and would take in strays, feed them, take them to the vet, keep them, or find them homes.
     My grandma was so supersticious.  She would never hand you a knife, step over you if you were on the floor, or open an umbrella in a house.  She hid a half dollar in one of my presents at every birthday party, and every Christmas.
     I once watched my grandma laugh so hard at a Three Stooges skit that she slid to the floor and cried.  These are the memories that sustain me.
     Many adults do not have the blessing of grandparents, and I was extra blessed for my kids to have had great-grandparents.  The realistic side of you realizes it's only a matter of time before aging loved ones pass, but it didn't make her passing any easier for me.  When I lost my grandparents last year, there was a pain I wasn't expecting.  The grief washed over me at unexpected times: the playing of a hymn, the glimpse of a picture, and a thousand other subtle reminders.  The impact of their lives have been permanently imprinted on mine.
     I am so thankful for my grandparents, and the example they were.  They worked extemely hard, and knew what was most important in this life.  They prayed for each of us every night on their knees, pleading that God would bless our lives, protect us, comfort us. I often wonder what blessings God has granted me because of their earnest prayers, said with bent head, clenched hands, and humble hearts. I simply cannot put into words the gratitude I have to them, and to God for placing them in my life.  I miss them, but I am assured I will see them again one day.  In the meantime, I have memories that will last me a lifetime, and recipes that will make my belly (and yours!) happy.  On that note, I have posted the recipe for Grandma Carter's applesauce cake, which was always a fan favorite.  Grandma would have been 86 this week.  She couldn't live forever, but her memory will.

 My grandparents at my graduation from Ohio State.

 Grandma plays with Hud when he was just a little guy.

Grandma and Grandpa in a moment that represents them best.

Grandma Carter's Applesauce Cake

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups applesauce
4 cups flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
4 T. water
A pinch of powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together Crisco, butter, sugar, and applesauce.
2. Add and stir dry ingredients. Batter will be very thick.  Spray cooking oil in 9" x 13" pan. Spread mixture evenly.
3. Bake for 45 minutes.
4. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar when cool.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pinterest: The New Crack

     If you've been wondering where I've been for the past month, I have been traveling, and most likely wasting most of my spare time on a little site called Pinterest.  In case you haven't heard, Pinterest is a fantastic place for getting new ideas on just about anything.  It is also an awesome place to create a virtual bulletin board for all your great finds across the web.  Gone are the days of bookmarking items only to forget about them later.  Not only can you bookmark or "pin" items, you can organize them by categories, such as, "Recipes I Want to Try," etc.  Although Pinterest is free, you have to request an invite or be invited by a current member, which is a drag.  Don't worry, I promise it's worth it.  Hang in there.  When you are a member, you can look up cool topics such as these:

Good books
Handmade Cards
Quilt designs
Seafood Recipe
Spring Fashion
Cupcake Decoration
Kids' Parties
Handmade Gifts
Color Pallettes
Nursery Ideas
Encouraging Quotes
Ways to entertain toddlers
Homeschool ideas
Gift wrapping techniques
How to make a bow
Growing tomatoes
How to knit a hat
Wedding dresses
Dog clothing
Organizing your closet
How to make jam
Upholstering a chair
Kitchen gadgets
Ab workouts
Flower arranging
How to frost a cake
Winter Decorations
Childrens' Valentines
Funny Pictures
Where to vacation

Do you get the point?  You can find almost anything on here.  I rarely even Google pictures anymore.  Looking for an idea for a project, dinner idea, gift?  Look no further than Pinterest.  Seriously, you need to join. All the cool kids are doing it.