Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We wish you a very Merry Christmas! While you are patiently visiting all your crazy relatives, and eating too much, and being hyper-stimulated with twinkly lights and laughter, take a moment to embrace just how blessed you are. I must admit, after I got over the angst of the to-do lists, and focused on how happy I am to be so blessed that I can share and I am not alone, I could really relax. May you especially enjoy your holidays.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Elf....simple and WOW! it goes! With the help of my family, we put up all our traditional decorations. Here I have my snowman collections along the top of our kitchen cabinets. A few twinkly lights and some greenery... This is our dining room with all the santas, vintage and crafty. Our tradition...
In the living room, we have our tree with all the accumulated ornaments and our village on the piano.

I bought this nativity for my first apartment and my newlywed husband made me the shed to go around it. Every year, the kids negotiate to see who sets it up. This year we have a third stocking for our new son-in-law. It will be a special Christmas.

So, back to my self-imposed "Elf" challenge....With just a ream of copy paper and two glue sticks we created a white, winter wonderland. I did add a few other construction type material: fishing line, cotton string, tape, and a paper cutter (all already on hand). It took the better part of four weeks, cutting and gluing while watching TV.
This is in the living room. Lots of chains and snowflakes...

This is the wonder of our dining room. It will be fun to see what our six foot four son thinks of all this in his atmosphere.
And another look at the living room with the many unique, swirling snowflakes. Never boring at our house.

And in the kitchen, there is a cluster over the island.

This has been a lot of fun. I see so many lovely color palettes and intense decorating ideas for the holidays. I resist investing in all new stuff, year after year. I do the after Christmas sales for a few interesting pieces but still I don't really have a "theme". I really love the look of lots of white, simple, back to basics. I hope you are also challenged to look at things with new eyes. Look for the simple and meaningful.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Praline Bars

At this wonderful time of year, I am always on the lookout for something easy to take to share. This recipe is easy and delicious...makes it tough to save enough to take anywhere. Enjoy!

Praline Bars

1/3 (16 oz) pkg honey-flavored graham crackers
1 cup butter (no substitutions)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup pecan pieces
chocolate chips, optional ...just kidding!
Break the graham crackers into 3 sections. Line a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan with foil, sprayed with Pam, then crackers. Bring the butter and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour evenly over crackers. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. May sprinkle with chocolate chips after baking and maybe spread a little when melted. Needs to cool off in the fridge a few minutes before breaking up.

I hope you have a truly blessed Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Elf for Christmas

First, I have to say that I just love this time of year. I love all the movies and the music. One of my favorite movies is "Elf" because it shows such childlike wonder.

I gave myself a challenge: To use the most basic of supplies, totalling under $5, to create a white wonderland in my home. Using just a ream of printer paper and cheap glue sticks, I plan to create chains and snowflakes and garlands!
I started on November 19th, and this is my progress after about 2 weeks. My patient, saint-like husband has helped. Over the Thanksgiving break, our son and the newlywed couple got in on the fun.
So here I am about two weeks into this self-imposed challenge and I have had a lot of feedback on the home front. Several have commented that I must have a lot of time on my hands, (yes, I guess I do), and that I must be more bored than they thought, ( I am never bored!), and won't that be a huge mess, ( it will be worth it to see the white winter wonderland ).
So, I say, just have fun with it. I will be sure to post some photos when it all gets up...that must be before a party here in a couple of weeks.
Let me know what you think!
Have a blessed holiday season.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Clutter-free, really!

Our bonus room was the site of so much activity: this is where we home schooled, all of my crafting happened, band practice, and wide open storage of whatever didn't have a home. After I relocated all the crafting stuff, it looked like a bomb went off.

My first step was to move all the "keepers" into the place they would live. I made the usual piles of store, trash, give away, and use now. I actually had a "free indoor yard sale" for a few select treasure hunter friends. It was wonderful that some of the good stuff went to friends. When all was said and done, I had only one car load, 5 boxes, to take to the Hope Center. I devoted a set number of hours a couple of days a week so that I wouldn't feel too overwhelmed.
We have a new family room area. I know what is there and it is clean and clutter-free.
Eventually, we will have a twin bed in that far corner, to be used as a sort of daybed. When we do have guests, it will be a calming space for them. Of course, with time and moolah, we want to paint and put in new flooring. For now, clean and open is good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black Bean Soup

I have a wonderful, easy recipe for black bean soup that is perfect for this chilly weather. It is low in fat and very South Beach and Weight Watcher friendly.

3 cans black beans, drain and rinse 2 of them
1 can chicken broth
1/2 medium onion, chopped
24 oz. medium chunky salsa
1 Tbsp cumin

Cook the onions in a small amount of broth with the cumin until clear. Puree the drained beans with the salsa in a blender. Add this to the broth to heat through. (I use the rest of the broth to get the leftover puree out of the blender and add it to the soup.) Add the undrained beans and let it simmer, stirring often, about 20 minutes. This is great with other condiments and stuff added but it loses some of the "diet friendly"ness.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time for adventure

This is taken in the cute little town of Hazel, Ky. in front of a huge antique mall. My mom and my handsome mate are waiting patiently for me to load my treasures in the car before the next store. (Side question: would your husband go with you on a day trip to a quaint little nowhere town to look at old stuff...with your mom? Would you want him to?) We had a wonderful day! We looked in all the shops and had a delicious lunch at Ann's Cafe. I found a few things: "gift not to be divulged here", some quilt mags, a round mirror, an old bottle and a tomato red metal divided cannister. Not a big quantity in stuff to take home, but a wonderful day of memories. My handsome mate does enjoy small towns and appreciates history and has the patience of a saint.

On the way home, we took a few minutes to admire the scenery. Land Between the Lakes is very nearby and the sun was setting. Not a great photo but you get the idea of a day well appreciated.
Hope you have a wonderful adventure with the people who mean the most to you!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Architectural Interest

Newer homes often lack the character of yesteryear. "Back in the day" much thought was given to interesting molding, arches and panels. These days our home buying dollar doesn't allow a lot of room for fancy. I found this door at a house just before the bulldozer and brought it home, not sure what it's future held. Sometimes you just have to grab it when you see it. So, this lovely beaded board door rested in my basement for a few years. In a flurry of decorating inspiration, I mounted a corbel with a broken demilune tabletop on the door. After many yoga-like contortions (I was doing this alone), I got the door securely mounted on the wall with anchors. Then I hung the mirror on it...perfect to check your lipstick before you answer the door. I love to put a candle or flowers there on the shelf.
So, keep your eyes open for unusual but interesting treasures. They will eventually work their way into your space and add to the warmth of your home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

White Space

What a lovely fall! We live in the woods and are surrounded by all sorts of trees, especially hickory trees. Their leaves turn a glowing gold in the fall.
Artists and decorators will tell you to leave a little white space (empty spots) in the project to give the eye a rest as it travels through the view. I try not to cover every square inch of the walls with decor. I like to create art pieces that allow some areas to shine more while others rest in the background.
I like to leave a little white space in my day also. Then I can be available for the unexpected...a friend in need, bouncing on the trampoline, a nap, a good book, a chance to give a little, a lovely view.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apple Dumplings

This is a great fall recipe. I found this in the Busy Bee Trader, submitted by Lucy Bradley of TN Farm Bureau/Country Classics. (Gotta give credit where credit is due, my mama always said.)

2 granny smith apples

1 (8 count) can crescent rolls

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1 cup orange juice

1 tsp vanilla

Peel and core apples and cut into fourths. Unroll and separate crescent rolls. Wrap each apple piece in one crescent roll. Place in 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Combine margarine, sugar, and juice in saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour over rolls (syrup will cook down as dumplings bake). Bake in a 350* oven for 30 minutes. Spoon pan juices over rolls when serving. Recipe may be doubled- bake for about 45 minutes. Really excellent served with a scoop of ice cream!

Hope you enjoy the lovely fall!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My dirty little secret

Everyone has at least one and top on my list (that I am willing to share) is my shower. I am a quick, first-thing-in-the-morning, shower person who usually is wearing glasses (VERY bad vision without). That is my excuse and I'm sticking to it. So, I am shocked when I notice the yuck in my shower. I read that the scum/mildew/yuck can be discouraged by a coat of car wax. So, today, after an extreme cleaning, I coated the shower stall with car wax. I did not put the stuff on the floor of the shower because my tip source says it would be unsafely slick. At the very least, it is clean and shiny and would be recommended if I were trying to sell the house. It looks great. I am hopeful...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Make time

I thought this was a great photo of a very happy little girl going for a pony cart ride with her grandpa. This will be a memory she will treasure. Doesn't she look proud to be going for an adventure? This man has made time to do something that will speak joy into this little girl for many years to come. It has taken a little effort, no doubt, and he could have been doing something comfortable/fun/relaxing for himself.
Our society has promoted many wonderful time-saving devices...don't even think I would give up my dishwasher or microwave. At the same time, we have constant access to mind-numbing TV and work via cell/laptop.
We have to make time to do the things that are important to us. What we invest ourselves in today, will be obvious when we see our fruits tomorrow. Make time for what is important to you.
Blessings on this new day...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

a table to sit by the fire

A cozy spot by the fire...

Yes, this is a set of antique sewing machine drawers! It is the perfect height and width to sit just on the brick hearth next to my favorite spot next to the fire. The custom cut top is glued to the drawer set and attached to the wall with a simple L-bracket. I was blessed with a gift of a matching pair of these drawers and I have done the same on the other side. My dear husband loves symmetry and this works.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cake Recipe...chocolate, coconut, caramel, Oh my!

This cake recipe is easy and very flexible. No one has complained and I always bring home an empty dish. You get to name your own creation, if you wish.

1 cake mix (see flavor combos below)
ingredients required by mix, i.e. oil, eggs, water
1 reg can sweetened condensed milk
1 can goodness (see flavor combos below)
another secret ingredient (again, see flavor combos below)
Cool Whip

Bake the cake in a 9x13 baking dish per mix ingredients. While the cake is still hot, use a wooden spoon handle to punch several holes in the cake, like every couple of inches. Pour over the cake both the sweetened condensed milk and the can of goodness, about a cup of each. Top with secret ingredient and cool whip. This is best if made the day before so the cake can absorb all the goodness. Be sure to refrigerate.

I have made this in the following combos:
1. devil's food cake, hersheys syrup, and cherry pie filling
2. yellow butter cake, coconut milk, coconut and/or crushed pineapple
3. chocolate cake, caramel syrup, toffee chips and/or chopped nut
Let me know if you have any other great combo ideas. Have a wonderful day!
Kelley B

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Loaded Question #2

If you have already figured out your proposed path (because you must know that God has His plans for you), then answering loaded question #1 was no big deal. Some of us are still struggling to know what we are supposed to be doing. And that brings me to #2:

What is your passion?

Each of us are created uniquely to fulfill a purpose. We know we are in the right groove when we are following our God-given passion. Believe me, He can use anything. My favorite things to do are decorating and number puzzles. I found a group at church that does "Divine Do-overs" for needy families. We have done homes and homeless shelters: painting, furniture, organizing, crafting, all on a very tight budget at that. I mentioned to a friend at one of the jobs that I love budgeting (weird, I know) and numbers. She remembered this and introduced me to another opportunity to serve struggling women who are studying for their GED. I have no doubt that I was where I was supposed to be in both those opportunities. So, yes, He can use anything.

How do you find your passion so that it can be used and you know you are in the right groove? What experiences have you had that seemed like you had a "tailwind", like it was something you couldn't have done on your own? What activities/projects/ideas/plans keep you awake at night in a good way, and you think of first thing in the morning? What have you done that others seem to support (people you trust for more than polite lip service)? I would suggest that if you still haven't found "it", then maybe you have been in your comfort zone too long. Maybe you need to try some new things that you have held back on but always dreamed of. Fear is not a God-given trait.

Consider this encouragement to embrace the person God created you to be and to get about His business.


Kelley B

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How to be a good friend

First, let me state that the title does not in any way make the assumption that I am an authority on this topic. It only means that it is uppermost in my mind and my heart these days because I so deeply treasure my friendships. I want to be a better friend.

I began to make a list of ways to take care of these relationships and this is what I came up with.

1. Pray for her/him. This a selfless act that will make a difference. Prayers never go unheard.

2. Be honest in the relationship. You must be yourself so that the reactions by your friend are based on truth. If your friend asks for an opinion, respond in truth, not necessarily the easiest.

3. Make time for each other. Stop multitasking and really be present in the conversation.

4. Have adventures together. Be willing to try new things and grow as an individual. This brings fresh air to any relationship.

5. Enjoy simple, everyday things together. Treasure daily activities.

6. Understand that friendships are living and need care. Keep them fed with quality time and effort. Study them to stay in tune to needs and changes.

7. Family, spouses, work associates, school and church aquaintances are all relationships just waiting to be deepened with prayer, caring and time.

Do you have any more ideas that are missing? I am commiting to working on these friendships myself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some Chicken Ideas...

In this day and age, any ideas to save time and money are great. I like to buy frozen chicken, usually boneless, skinless breasts in 3-4 pound bags. This is a great per pound value. First, let the chicken thaw in the warned --- those bags leak.
1. Barbecue: Bake covered at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Shred. Cover in bbq sauce of choice. Return to baking dish. For immediate use, allow to warm in oven for 15-20 minutes. Save leftovers by spreading on foil covered baking sheet, freezing and placing in freezer bag.
2. Southwestern: While the chicken is thawing, sprinkle with one packet of fajita seasoning. Shake in bag to coat. Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool and chop.
3. All purpose: Place thawed chicken on baking sheet and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool and chop.
I like to spread the shredded/chopped chicken on a baking sheet to freeze initially and then transfer to a freezer bag for use as needed. You can take out just what you need for a sandwich, quesadilla, or salad whenever you need it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Loaded Question #1

Everyone once in a while I see a chotchky with a saying that gives me pause. This happened recently in Target. The little ceramic plaque said:

What would you do if you thought you couldn't fail?

This has inspired much conversation. When you consider unlimited possiblities in different areas of your life, it will give you pause as well.

Who: only you can answer this for yourself; no one else will try.

What: only you can know the what; lose weight, train for a marathon, change careers, strengthen relationships, quit smoking...How will you recognize success?

When: how about now? Over the next year? The five year plan?

How: set baby steps, think positively, get support, learn a new skill...

Why: why not?

If you don't try, you may never know. Likely, you have as great a chance at success.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hydrangeas are my favorite flower

My favorite flower in the world is hydrangeas. They come in so many great colors and if handled well, will last all year. We had lots of them in the recent wedding. To keep the bloom year round just keep the fresh cut stems in water until the bloom is dry. The blooms purchased from the florist didn't make it, maybe because of refrigeration. Just the homegrown variety lasted.

This is what happens when they are hung upside down. The color might be brighter but the bloom is yucky.

Hope you have a blessed day.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feed your soul!

A recent conversation with a dear friend led us both to really think about what feeds our soul. I suppose that for some it is Bible Study, or family visits, or words of encouragement, or good ole chocolate, or a favorite activity. For me, it is a complicated combination of all of the above. I firmly believe that you must make time for this "feeding" for yourself. No one else will do it for you.

Since it has been raining here for a few days and I am avoiding cleaning up my garden anyway, I have taken advantage of this time to play, i. e. "feed my soul." Here is a photo of what came out of it. It is composed of 340 hand cut pieces of paper in a collage featuring a quilt pattern called "Churn Dash." After some thought, it seems to me that we all have a unique turmoil in our lives of some sort (as in caught up in a churn dash) and when it comes right down to it we must "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will given to you as well." Matt. 6:33

I hope to bless my newlywed daughter with this piece, maybe to remind them to seek our Father first.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This is the new haven of creativity

We really should come up with a name for this magical place. I have taken over my daughter's old bedroom and transformed it into my own craft/sewing/magical room. I am trying not to feel too guilty over how much joy this brings me. She took with her every stick of furniture and all her memorabilia, leaving only scrippets on the floor and holes in the walls. So, here are a few photos. Keep in mind that I have tried every craft medium known to man and then some.
I love to use old tins, jars, and boxes to hold all the little paraphenalia that goes with crafting. I used half of an old table to create a sewing table. I cut out a hole and added support for the machine so that it is a smooth platform.
The other side of the room is complete with more storage and a wide open work table. (It certainly is not that clear at this moment!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

And so it begins...

I am so very excited to begin this adventure into blogging. I am the happy homemaker that gets confused with "Martha" in my family. My greatest blessing has been being a stay at home mom. I often said that my sweet husband works hard for me to stay home but I wasn't at home that much. Like most women, life gets busy. After a few years at this, I really can appreciate a comfortable home.

I hope to include photos of projects around the house, a well received recipe occasionally, a really great deal, tips from my home CEO desk (Hey, I run this place!), and maybe a special ah hah moment or two. I will not commit to daily postings...this is supposed to be fun, after all.

Alas, my nest is mostly empty now. That means I have more time to grow as a woman first. You know that moms are the last on their own lists. This time in my life will be an adventure in itself. Welcome to the ride!