Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cornbread, Yellow or White Cornmeal?

When I grew up, my mom made cornbread once in a while for dinner. Now, it was not served with meat or soup or any main dish. It was the main dish. She served it with butter and syrup on top. That, with a big glass or milk made a pretty good meal. No, we are not originally from the South where cornbread was a main fixin'. We were from Michigan. Now, my mom always used yellow cornmeal for her cornbread and it was a little sweet like Jiffy cornbread mix is today. After I married my southern husband, I more often ate cornbread made by his mom. She always made it with a cornmeal mix that had white cornmeal in it. She never put sugar in it so it was not sweet. Sometimes she put chitlins in it. What are chitlins? I think it is some part of a pig. Not my favorite kind of cornbread. On Sunday afternoon, I decided to make some cornbread out of a mix I got with a coupon. It was Martha White cornbread mix and it was white, like my mother-in-law's. It ended up tasting just like hers too. Now she was a great cook, but I will confess that even today, I like my mom's yellow and sweet cornbread best.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Deck to Screened Porch

Well, if you do not know, my husband is a workaholic. He never stops with the projects and work around our home. When we moved into our home in 2000, he quickly got busy and built a deck on the back. We have enjoyed it, of course. But, he has been encouraging me to let him put a roof over it. I fought the idea for long time because I kind of like the deck. The sun shines directly on the deck in the morning so it does get very hot but he kept on encouraging me to let him do it and when he finally said he would make it a screened porch, I decided it would be nice.
He has been working on it ever since.

First he put on the roof, then the side supports, painting, screening and the new screen door we got at a special price. All in all it had not cost too much as Briggs is good at collecting building material here and there and had some of the supplies.

I debated as to whether I would decorate it in a "beachy" theme or a "rusic mountain porch" look. I opted for the rustic look because we already have a side porch that is white with a 1950's theme. I have 3 antique wicker chairs that my cousin from Michigan gave me this year and I plan to paint them a green instead of the usual white. I think I will be looking for rustic little decorations to add to the decor. I am painting the wood deck floor brown and we have already stained the rest of the porch a cedar brown.

It is almost done except for some finishing touches so I will post pictures of the final product when we are through. For now I am posting pictures I have taken during the building process.
Briggs has done an excellent job and I am thankful that he is so willing to take the time to work so hard to improve our home.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Finished At Last-Probably Not!

It took quite a few weeks, but we finally finished our living room-kitchen makeover. Now the two rooms are one and it makes such a difference in the spaciousness of our home. We can see what is going on in the kitchen or living room from any given spot. We have more room to sit and be with each other. We put down a great new floor in the kitchen that I would recommend to anyone interested in changing their floor. It is a product by Armstrong called Allure. It was easy to put down and cleans up so well. It looks like real tile without the coldness and hardness of tile. I have repainted the kitchen and changed some of the decorating elements. Our living room is yellow and the kitchen is a light turquoise or aqua, with accents of both colors in each room. I am tending toward a little cottage look in the kitchen with a retro twist. I love the 40's 50's look and so I am incorporating a little of that with hints of red with the yellow and aqua, while keeping it "cottagey" too.

Fixing Up

Fixing up seems to be the word around our place for the past few months. I seems the projects are never done. And when we finish one we think up another. Our biggest project for the summer was opening up the kitchen and living room wall to make a "great room". We have a wood stove in the living room that only heat that room in the winter so we wanted to be able to take better advantage of the cozy wood heat and heat the kitchen too. It started as just a thought and then we began to think seriously about it. All of a sudden one day, Briggs said he was going to start tearing the wall down the next day. It scared me a little, but I went along with it and for the next month or so we worked on creating a larger space for our family to enjoy. It really makes a big difference in the spacial feeling of our home. I like it a lot. Now when we have family gatherings we can all be together. It should also make for cozier winter nights and days as the stove will now heat the two big rooms instead of only one.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mommy's Flowers

Being here in Florida visiting my mom is a time that is special to me. She is 86 now. She still likes the simple things that seem to cheer her up. I try to think of those things and help her to have them around our talk to her about them. One thing she likes a lot is roses. She has a Don Juan rose bush in her front yard and she loves to have someone bring one in and put it in a little vase for her to enjoy. She comments on it often. When I was a child in Michigan, my mom grew a lot of roses in our backyard. June is her birth month and roses are the flower for June. They remind me of her whenever I see them. She bought me a Don Juan rose too, and I have it growing at my front door in North Carolina. Joanne has one in her yard too. The other day I brought one in and she has really enjoyed it every day.
This picture is her rose and a hibiscus from the yard that I put by a picture of my mom and her mom, my Grandma Jennie, and my mom's father. Grandma Jennie's birthday is in June too, so how nice is that!

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Mommy Bluebird

I have been enjoying my bluebirds this summer. I have a pair that has a nest in a bluebird house in my back yard. Last night I was watching the "mommy" fly around and perch, and dive to the grass to find some food for her babies. She landed on the telephone wire out my kitchen window and I was able to get a pretty good picture of her. She is not as brightly colored as her husband, but she is still beautiful to me. The pictures here are of the male earlier this spring and the "mommy" last night.

A Little Lilly Tale

Day lillies were never my favorite flower, but the last few years I have grown to love their appearance here in North Carolina, around the month of June. I even have a nice little row growing in my yard, thanks to the previous owner of our home. If you ride through the countryside right now you will see them popping up and blooming in the most unusual places. It makes me wonder who took the time to plant them where they are. Yesterday I was driving past a pasture that had a creek off in the distance and I noticed them growing in various spots along the creek. I do not think they grow wild because they are a bulb, but they are everywhere around my little neck of the woods, none-the-less.

Old Chair Made New! Memories!

I am always getting home ideas from the magazines. A few months ago I ran across this idea in Country Home. When I saw it, I said, "I have a chair just like that." It was way down in the barn. The chair was my mother-in-laws chair from Bryant Furniture which she bought way back in the 6o's from Mr. Bryant, who made early American furniture in Holly Hill, Florida. Having just redone our kitchen in shades of turquoise blue, I decided to try it on this chair and put it at our computer desk. Here you see the progression from original finish to primer to finished chair. It turned out really well, don't you think? And now we are using a pleasant memory from the past.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap

Yes, you can make your own laundry soap! I have not compared the price to buying my Gain liquid, but someone told me it comes out to a penny a load. It is easy to do and the ingredients are tried and true laundry helpers from years past- Borax, washing soda, and Fels-Naptha laundry bar soap. My picture shows the amount I got when I was done. Here is the recipe:
1/3 bar Fels-Naptha (I used 1/2 bar)
1/2 Cup Arm and Hammer washing soda
1/2 Cup Borax

(You can use any bar soap if you wish but I think this one is best. Some grocers carry it and some hardware stores can get it. Just ask. Octagon is another old laundry bar that can be used too.)

You need a small bucket about 2 gallon size.

Grate the Fels-Naptha into a pan and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and dissolve completely. Add the washing soda and borax and stir until all dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket and add soap mixture as you stir it well. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir again. I poured it into my old laundry soap containers and saved the rest in the bucket until I need it. You have to shake the laundry soap bottle before each use because the soap turns to a gel. Use 1/2 cup per load. It is low suds soap so do not expect a lot of suds. I have heard that you can add some oil scents to it if you want a scented soap.

I am keeping the ingredients for this soap in my food storage supply for use someday if we need it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bookcase Finished, Almost!

Here is my bookcase that I painted. I put a lot of little knick-knacks in it. It was just an old Walmart bookcase we had around the house and I needed something else for display in my kitchen. I think it turned out pretty good. I think I might put some decorative molding on the edges eventually.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Bookcase Almost Done

Here is how my bookcase shelves turned out after I painted them a nice semi-gloss white.(See the beginning below) We needed some more space for display and for some office storage. This is in the kitchen. It turned out pretty nice and tomorrow I will fill it with my "knick knacks" or whatever else comes to mind.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Two Projects

I have two projects that I started today. With our little remodel of putting an opening between the living room and kitchen, I have several projects that I am working on to go along with the redecorating. Number 1, I am painting an expensive book shelf white to match the kitchen cabinets and will put it next to the computer. Being a collector of too much stuff and sentimental besides, I acquire or keep things out of sentimentality. This being the case I needed more space to display some of Aunt Alice's dishes. (She passed away at almost 97 a few weeks ago) I have a before picture here and when I am finished I will post an after picture. The other project is two little oval bird prints I bought at a thrift shop the other day for $5. Being in love with cottage style, I thought they might look good in our kitchen that is painted a light seafoam color. The frames as you can see here are gold and plastic, but they had a lovely embossed design and I just knew they would paint up nicely and look good on the wall. Here is before picture and I will show the after in a day or so. I love to get ideas from other "cottage" blogs and use all my little "sentimentals" to give our home that "cottage" feel.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Oh, Sweet Spring"

Yes, I have to say that Spring is my favorite time of the year. I love Fall too, but Spring is the best. I think that it is the season I remember the most from my childhood in Southern Michigan. I remember all the blossoms, and new spring flowers that bloomed around my home on Lake Michigan. My Mom and Grandma's yard was full of flower after flower, blooming in God's sequence as the weather warmed itself from the cool month of February. It is much like that here in Western North Carolina, where we live now. So many of the flowers and trees that are blooming right now are the ones I fondly remember from my childhood. Flowers like the jonquil, forsythia, spirea, lilac and many others have been blooming here the last month or so. I have many of these in my own yard and enjoy their sweet beauty as they bloom for me. I also have some little flowers I have planted like pansies, that show their little faces to the sun until the really warm weather makes them bow their heads and wither away. If the spring green of the tree leaves and grass would stay all summer, I would be so pleased. But, a last, they will soon turn to their summer green which is a darker color. Spring disappears so quickly after it has come. I will miss you Spring, and all the special gifts that you bring for me to enjoy for a while.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Decorating Satisfaction

Changing things in our home brings me a lot of pleasure and joy. Every now and then, I just have to take a room and redo it. It has to be done on a budget but a little paint and fabric can really make a difference and help you feel renewed. In the past month, I have been redoing my bedroom from a Martha Stewart green, from the year 2000, to light blue walls with lots of blue accessories. I bought a blue chenille bedspread from "A County Place", some curtain panels with big blue cabbage roses from "Domestications", a Sure-fit chair slipcover in a light taupe to cover my wingback chair, and a blue rag rug ($19.99) that just popped up at "Freds, of all places, one day. These were the major purchases. I like the way it turned out and it is amazing to me how you can start to redo a room and little things you have around the house seem to fit into your scheme. So here is the finished product, which we are enjoying. The china pincushion doll is something my mom gave me many years ago. She tells me she bought it at a church bazaar when she was a girl in DeKalb, Illinois. I finally made a dress for the poor young woman this week and I think it turned out very pretty. Now she proudly resides on my dresser which I also refinished. It is cherry wood and was my mother-in-laws dresser. I have a collection of Florida plates surrounding my mirrored. We are originally from Florida and I have been collecting them for a few years.