Saturday, February 28, 2009



The word thankful always draws the picture to mind of harvest, and I would like to say that I am personally thankful for the hard-working farm families who make possible this land of plenty. Farming is a thankless job sometimes for many reasons but when you live out in the fields...
and are able watch close up the long, long hours the men are in the fields, what a couple hours of bad weather can do to a crop that's been maturing for a couple of months, those seasons of unceasing labor: spring, summer, and fall: I can say that I'm thankful there are families whose men choose with loving hearts to carry on the family tradition, in spite of the gamble they take.

I am also thankful for their support system: their families, especially the wives, who help with the planting, worrying and praying, cultivating, and the harvest with meals taken to the field, running the grain trucks to and from the fields and to and from the grain elevators...all the many, many things they do and sacrifices of free time to help their men with this important job.

Where would we be without the farmer?

Brighter Days are Ahead!

Somthing to make you smile today.....a Gorgeous Field of Sunflowers...up north, Michigan

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ready and Set to Go!

I had asked a few days ago for help in finding clothespins, specifically the spring-type made of a hard plastic. Roberta Anne, from Little House In the Desert suggested to look at the grocery stores. What a smart suggestion, I had only been looking at the larger department stores like Target, Wal-Mart and KMart. It took me a whole morning to find them (I was on a mission!), but I came home victorious and am glad to say that I'm ready for spring now...yup. REALLY READY. (As in, I can hardly take another day of this gloomy weather that can't make up its mind!! But, we're gettin' there, slowly but surely!)

These clothespins are by Diamond, (the same company that makes boxes of wooden matches) and I found them in my local Spartan grocery store. They are strong and durable, and don't mark up my lights and my whites like their cousins, wooden clothespins. Out here, clothespins have to be DURABLE above all else, the wind can get quite wicked and we can't have any mamby-pamby little clip-type clothespins, believe me, I've tried 'em! Only the heavy-duty ones will do. I mean, I don't like to look outside and see the family's jeans laying on the ground!

And, for my new and much-loved heavy duty clothespin bag, I must thank Robin at Robin's Stitches on ETSY...for this very large, durable weatherproof clothespin bag. It measures 11" x 11.5", so it's a big girl! She's a FARMGIRL'S clothespin bag. (I'm thinking of buying my neighbor one for her birthday, I think she'd love it!)

In reality, I'd sure like to have a cute-sy bag that looks vintage, but out here where I live, with the strong winds and dirt blowing around from the farm fields, this one is perfect because the rain can wash right through it, and the sun get through the weave to dry the clothespins out for me instead of mildew being able to grow. It's an ingenious design, really! And it holds a ton of pins, which I need because I have five long lines so I can hang EVERYTHING out at once if I want to.

So, BRING ON SPRING! I'm ready! And yes, I'm weird, but hanging out the laundry, to me, is one of the biggest pleasures of the nicer weather. I LOVE IT! And I cannot wait! Bring on the fresh, clean breezes!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A "Retro-Housewife" Vintage Bridal Shower!

My beautiful (and sweet) niece, Autumn, in my farmhouse kitchen

I'm going to be having you help me with decisions for this fun retro bridal shower and the first decision is this picture that will be sent on a postcard bridal shower invitation. (I am using Maryjane's Farmgirl books for inspiration! Her books are so awesome.)

Should this photo for the postcard invite be done in black and white or color?

Let me know in the comments section...I'd appreciate it.

(And that cake taker she's holding? That's the one I had told you about that I found the last time we were in Alabama! Cute, huh? The apron? Mine, even though it's new, it looks old...and what a match for the caker taker!)

Can You Help a Girl Out?

I need some help from my nice friends in blogland. Before spring makes its debut here in Michigan, I'd like to find a good source (online or in a brick and mortar) for some well-made and durable hard plastic clothespins, the kind that you pinch, the ones that have little springs.

I can find the wooden ones anywhere, but those tend leave marks on the whites. Wal-Mart once sold big bags of blue, pink, and white plastic clothespins--but not anymore!

Before the spring breezes start to blow across the fields I'd like to fill my clothespin bag with some new ones...the old ones are all breaking up! Just leave me a note if you've got any leads for me. I'd so appreciate it! You guys are the best!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Farmhouse Dining Room Re-do

Just some pictures of the dining room once we got it done. I'm still in the process of figuring out a window treatment that I'm going to like. For now, I have lace curtains up. I'd like to replace them with shutters and a cottage-y valance before summer.

The old clock shelf got a new look...

The china cabinet needs to be cleaned out, but the top looks nice! I'm not quite all done!

I recovered all the seats of the old chairs with this fabric, and I wish I had bought several more yards, I've had it for so long, I don't remember where I got it!

This old tablecloth looks pretty good in here now that we're all finished!

On the corner here you can see the little stamped tag that says CHEVROLET 4774

The old file cabinet from the Chevy plant. We love Chevies in this house. And someday, we'll strip this baby down to the wood, but for now it's got some shiny brass hardware and a coat or two of paint. All the hardware was spray painted when we got it. And the cabinet was an uninspiring dingy yellow color. This old wooden file cabinet is made well and can be repaired if needed and refinished too, and last for fifty more years at least!

This is the little corner from which I visit with you! On an old tiger oak oak library table my computer, printer and tower sit...the modern desk chair will not fit under the table. I don't know exactly what to do there, I don't like how it looks, but a tiny little wooden chair is not comfortable at all! I saw a wooden rolling desk chair modeled after older desk chairs like our teachers used to have at Pottery Barn this afternoon but it was mighty pricey, even at the outlet. I may try to find something similar at an antique store. Or I might try making a slipcover for the big newer office chair, I have fabric leftover.

On the buffet sits my new old ironstone soup tureen that my mom gave me for Christmas. It's been hers since the 1960's and now it's mine. That's the best kind of present!

I hope you like seeing my work that we've been doing the last few weeks! I so enjoy seeing all of your's like my childhood dream come true...being able to actually look inside other homes!

Oh, and speaking of looking at other homes, wishing you could peek inside...take a gander at this page and see if there's any homes here you think you'd like to peer into the windows!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Spring Fling

The glittery retro-look Easter card came from was in their dollar bins up by the registers.

It's been a big problem for me to leave the house and enter a retail establishment the past several days. I have a serious case of cabin fever. So, so, so serious. I went into Sam's Club Friday to pick up dog food, water, a couple things like that. I hardly ever look at the clothing because for years I've not seen anything that calls my name in there. But it just happened that as I walked down a main aisle, I spotted stacks of these gloriously pastel tops and whipped out of the piles my three favorite colors and brought them home with me. I went to Wal-Mart for toothpaste and some cording needed for a purse zipper pull and was walking by the men's department and saw a pink gingham shirt (!!!) called out to me.

Saturday I ran an errand, stopped in at a friend's house and on the way home I thought I'd stop at the drugstore for a couple of life's little necessities and on my way I walked by all these PEEPS...IN PASTELS...purple, pink, green, yellow, orange! And jellybeans!

Marshmallow-y sugariness in such sweet colors!
I. Am. Hopeless.

I think I see a theme here. I better stay home for the next month and a half. It's getting ridiculous!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekend Re-Cap

Some sweet little retro-bluebird burp cloths all ready for a baby shower for a little girl.

I did the math and these little burp cloths cost me about $1 each, (I found the flannel on sale for $2.49 a yard) so for around $6. I can give a nice bundle of six of these for a shower gift and put a little something extra with a rattle or teether.

And a little flannel blanket quilt that's also ready for a little one to snuggle under! It's in the most gorgeous shades of pink/purple/perwinkle; a print of little sleeping babies!

Little piggie burp cloths stacked and ready...find out how to make them here. They're fun, quick, easy and practical! Way better than a cloth diaper and what fun to choose your flannel fabric combinations!

And....for the little boy babies, some cute prints of tractors, trains, bulldozers....

And some under-the-sea friends ready to catch the burps...

My sewing machine hadn't seen me in way too long. I sew in my daughter's old room, I converted it into a little craft room and decorated it in Mary Englebreit fabrics, yellow walls, red gingham curtains and accents.

I LOVE the weekends my husband is off work Saturday/Sunday. This weekend it's still so cold, blustery and snowy out so we snuggled in for most of the weekend:

Homemade pizza and breadsticks for supper Friday night

Luke and Dad went to a school basketball game on Friday night

We all stayed up late Friday night

I watched a movie all in one sitting, THE CHANGELING, it was very good. Clint Eastwood is the director, and it's set in the 1920's. I think you'd like it (very good set and costumes, but very much not a feel-good movie!). A chilling story indeed and well worth watching.

Everyone slept in Saturday morning (awesome!)

Had a pancake and bacon breakfast around noon, and all still in our pajamas

I went to the antique store for a little while in the afternoon

I stopped in to see a friend for an hour or two on the way home and admire the scrapbook she made for her daughter who married in November, it was BEAUTIFUL!

We had a homemade soup and egg salad sandwiches for supper Saturday night

I got to do a little sewing Saturday night! (While I did that, I watched "MISS POTTER" all the way through, what a treat!)

I even got some mending done that has been sitting for months and now can wear my favorite pajamas again!

Sunday morning a roast went into the oven

We went to church
(Pastor's sermon was a very good one)

We came home and finished fixing dinner and ate!

Oldest son cleaned up the kitchen

Husband painted the entryway

I got to sew some more, a LOT more!

Then there was a NASCAR race

The Oscars are on televison! ( I watch to see the dresses not the bilge that is spouted there, and I thought Reese Witherspoon had the most stunning dress! But then, I'm partial to her from her very first movie on!)

In between it all, laundry's done!

I won't mention what I should have been doing, but it involved no fun at all!
And I don't care! (I said "SHOO GUILT!")

I'll feel so good about all I accomplished, the cleaning can wait surely until Monday or Tuesday!

And now we begin a brand new week...

Wednesday afternoon my son's junior high basketball season starts. It should be a fun week!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

SIMPLE SUNDAYS....Serenity and Simplicity


A scene from a Christmas-y mantle on a January day at Burritt's on the Mountain, Huntsville, Alabama.

They lived so simply then, what's to make us think we've got it rough now?

Even with a "recession" we're living so much better and we should remember that and be slow to complain. They were some of the happiest people, just glad for the freedom to be what they wanted or could be, and happy to have the potential to be more in this great land. The simple ones were those who made it possible for us to live as we do; they paid with blood, sweat, tears and a lot of times: their lives.


Photo by Jamie B

Ahhh....this theme today is cruel! It's in the twenties, the wind is howling outside the window and we're in the middle of a snowstorm! But at least I can think about the salty breeze, the sunshine and soft, sugary sands of the beaches at Gulf Shores and wish I were there! (Photo credit goes to my daughter ;~)

Friday, February 20, 2009

What's NEW (old)? A trip to the thrift store pays off....

The top plate was a set of six, ($1.25 each, big money!) so those are staying here to live and will be put into my china cabinet to use for dessert plates. I just love the rich bright colors of the flowers in the centers.

Yesterday, I had a chance to stop at a Salvation Army store. When there are no garage sales, that's a winter destination for fun vintage finds as I'm sure you all know! As always, I grabbed a cart and went straight to the back to see what they call Bric-a-Brac. That and the old linens, are my favorite, I usually glance over at the furniture to see if there's antiques, the showcase up front with 'collectibles' and skip the rest. And at times I really luck out.

These are my goodies from yesterday. The little plates will make great gifts, soon I'll show you a gift I recently gave that included a couple little plates like these. The one with all the flowers in the middle was a set of six, so those will go in the china cabinet to use for desert plates. I can see using those to serve a piece of that thick cocnout cake after Easter dinner!

Not shown is a pizza stone with the metal rack that looks like it was used once and someone didn't know you had to season it before they're really great to use. It was $2! Also, I got a group of tall cut glass candy jars that my niece will use for her wedding reception's "candy bar" for about a dollar each!

A blue enamelware roasting pan. I think this will work great for a meatloaf, or it would be a great container for anything around the house that would need organizing.

And, with all the blue dishes I've got, I've never had one like this. It's a Currier and Ives print. You know where that's going! Yup, right into the cabinet in the living room!

And, finally this cut-glass hobnail dish...for less than $1~ Too good to leave there!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beach Beauty in the Bath!

click on any photo to enlarge

When we put in a new bath a few years ago, I dug out this glass-door medicine-style cabinet that I had bought at the Pottery Barn outlet years ago for $16. It was just waiting for the perfect spot to live. It waited patiently in the attic for me to come and get it to serve its purpose in life. Sometimes, when I saw it sitting, and sitting and sitting, I felt very guilty about hanging onto it, or even buying it in the first place!
I also had sitting in various baskets around the house all kinds of shells from our visits to the beach, various finds of interesting rocks and gems...from all around the country on our travels over the years. Several of the very best looking among the stuff is from Arizona. I've loved them all but never had the chance to display any of them so they looked good and could be enjoyed. Many times I felt guilty for even hanging on to all of them.
My little Pottery Barn bargain became the perfect solution. Now, this display sits above the toilet, and if you're a man, you can study God's creation in this little cabinet while you...umm....Anyway, lots to contemplate and scrutinize while you take care of life's little necessities, better than a blank wall staring back at you as you stand there.
I'm really glad I found a nice way to display these little keepsakes that had been adding up over our lives together and I think it's one of the favorite things about our new "old" bathroom, except for maybe the nice deep Victorian slipper tub that's super for a nice, long soak on ocassion!
It really does prove that it will never hurt to not pass up those little pieces that are too good to leave sitting in the clearance bin, but that you don't really need right now! Just push the little attacks of guilt away...shoooo guilt! SHOO!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Best Coconut Cake & Frosting in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD!

Pull out the apron, ladies! It's time to bake a special cake!

Make him this tall, airy cake, with a dreamy, creamy rich flavored frosting, just sweet enough, but not TOO, and a just-right velvety smooth texture, combined with a hint of raspberry between the's all the Valentine you'll ever need!

Pull out your pedestal cake plate and give this beauty the royal treatment it deserves! Fit for your most special ocassion!
Take any white cake mix and add an extra egg in addition to the ingredients already on the box. Mix it according to package directions ONLY mix it longer and longer...maybe 8-10 minutes? (The result of mixing so long allows more and more height to your layers, and they'll be nice and tall when they bake!)
That's it, then bake the cake according to package directions in two round layer pans, I used two 8" round pans so the cake would fit on my pedestal plate.
NOTE: I don't leave the yolks out, because I don't care if my cake is white or yellow. This cake is so evil I only make it a few times a year.
Feel free to do what you want to do, for Easter, I do prefer the cake to be pure white for some reason and I'll leave the yolks out.

*While the layers cool, if you'd like, put raspberry jam on top of one of the layers so it can soak in a little bit, that way it won't mix with your frosting when you frost between the layers.

When the frosting is finished, stack your cakes flat side UP...then just frost generously, and sprinkle coconut on the middle layer over the frosting, and then the top surface of the cake, too! I lay it on pretty thick!

Here's the secret to a really good coconut cake! THE FROSTING! This is all you do!


In a saucepan, use a whisk to blend 1 cup milk into 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat, and cook and stir two minutes more. Remove from heat. Cover the surface with plastic wrap. Cool to room twmperature (do not stir). In a medium mixing bowl, beat 1 c. softened butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add cooled milk mixture to butter mixture a quarter cup at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until smooth.

YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE NUTRITION FACTS ON THIS FROSTING!!! Enjoy the resulting love handles...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For the Little Kid in Me!

I love children's books! I have some in particular that I want to keep, and I guess the reason is that they're so darn cute. From the graphics on the cover to the little kids on the pages, the machines, styles and homes of yesteryear...all of it is too sweet to get rid of. I'll show you what I mean. This one in particular, a collection: A Treasury of Little Golden Books, 48 Best Loved stories, copyright 1966.

I'm sure that we can all remember being at the dimestore when we were little, and getting the opportunity to buy our own "Little Golden Book" and it was such a thrill, taking the time to carefully choose it, (and a bargain thrill for 29 cents!) and holding onto it and looking at it all the way home and just waiting for when we could hear it read to us, how proud we were when we could finally read them on our own! I had a nephew when I was a preteen and I loved reading to him before naptime or bedtime when he was at our house. My kids had their share of Little Goldens and they're up in the attic right now, I'll share with them when they have their own kids. I'm hoping they like old stuff!

I've always had a soft spot for children's books and Little Golden Books in particular, and this has some of the best stories inside! I think we all remember the Poky Little Puppy, Tootles the Train, Scuffy The Tugboat, The Saggy, Baggy Elephant, The Tawny, Scrawny Lion, all those! They and more are in this big book. Here's a little look inside!

I am now heading to the kitchen for "clean out the fridge day"...and a whole lot of cooking will be going on. I have leftover chicken so there will be chicken noodle soup in the pot, and a chicken pot pie in the oven. I have beef to use so I'm also going to start a big pot of beef, vegetables and barley soup! I'll also pop some homemade cornbread in the oven while the chicken pot pie's a cold, cloudy, gloomy day so this is just what I need: the house smelling good and feeling cozy. Wonder if I dare mix up a batch of cookies....?

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Farmhouse Living Room Re-do

After lots of moving, sorting, dumping, hauling, patching and painting, we've finally got two rooms almost done. I can see why it's beneficial to move every six or eight years. You don't tend sort and edit enough if you stay put for a long time; we're in our seventeenth year here.
I just couldn't stand it anymore, so before Christmas we talked about how once the holidays were all over, it was time to pay a little attention to the house and get some work done. Now, this is all just a beginning, there's so much more to do. Next is the family room to paint, the entryway, after that the stairway and hall upstairs. And still more closets to clean and a garage to do. In between all that there's the garage sale, and the working some more on the basement. UGH!
But, we'll eat this elephant just a bite at a time and hopefully when summer arrives, we'll be able to spend lots of time that's guilt-free out in the yard, aside from another daunting job...the biggie this summer: a kitchen re-do. We may end up doing just the demolition ourselves and hiring someone else to do the finishing so it won't drag out for six months. The kitchen is something we've been procrastinating for years and years and it's time to pay the piper. And I'm sure that PAY we will. I get the willies just thinking about it.
But for now, I'll show you the photos of the living room all done, I'm just waiting for a couple throw pillows to be shipped that I had ordered from Target. I took advantage of having an antique mall only eight or ten minutes from the house and I did a lot of shopping there to get all of this done. I think they wondered what in the world I was doing so I just told them, I'm trying to get rid of the only remaining pieces of furniture in the house that weren't antique or that were made in China (all the pre-fab stuff that was fifteen years old from Sauder) and replace it all with antiques. I bought a dresser, the chippy blue table, an old tall wooden file cabinet (that originally was used in the Chevrolet plant!) and various boxes and wooden bins. I re-purposed some of the things we already had, too and that's always satisfying. I found some tropical plants to finish it off and I hope I don't kill them. I'm not a good green thumb--at all!
I did change things up somewhat, I still have a red, white and blue theme, but I backed off the Americana in a big way, inserted the robin's egg blue and went more for the cottage look. I'm tired of anything considered "country" but I can take all the cottage you can dish out!
In the next day or two, I'll show you the dining room.

I love the edge on this table, I'm told it's a piecrust edge!? Whatever it is, it reminds me of gingerbread trim on a porch railing and I fell in love with it right away! And the color is gorgeous.

As a bonus, the hard-working, eager to please little blue table had a lower shelf on it, so somehow there landed upon it an iPod player and some great magazines! I wish I could have found two of these tables!

I threw some light blue on the couch to tie the little table and the lightning rod together. I think it all works out well. I never would have thought to throw light blue into the mix until I saw (and had to have) that little blue table!

The whole main seating area, all put together. There's not a lot of re-arranging I can do in this room. It's not that big (old farmhouses usually have lots of small rooms!) and in this room are two huge windows and FIVE DOORS!

Lem's dad built this old cupboard many years ago, and we added about the tenth layer of paint to it last weekend. It's a piece made of parts of other pieces of furniture--a salvage piece-- and because his dad made it, we love it all the more. All the walls are a khaki now and the trim piece and this shelf are a darker shade of the same color. I decided to let my blue pieces live in the living room. (They said they were tired of the dining room.)

Our big bookshelf got totally re-done. Lots of books edited out and all my USA stuff pretty much now is in one spot. I enjoyed arranging all these things and grouping them in their own families: Civil War, Revolutionary War, etc

All the aquamarine glass was moved to a new spot and it's much more visible now. I only started picking this up when it caught my eye last summer while garage-saling. I had the old mirror, the dresser is a new vintage purchase. All the supplies that were in the pre-fab computer table that we got rid of are now housed in here...and a dresser is a surprisingly good choice for all the "office" type supplies I needed to find a home for. The lamp is a huge vintage blue canning jar full of old wooden dominoes. I don't know why, but I LOVE dominoes, old or new!

I made the throw-sized quilt here on the back of the recliner a couple years ago. I would love to quilt more than I do. Maybe when I get older!

Alicia Paulson's book now has a place of honor on my coffee table. Inspiring! If you haven't seen her blog, go check it out! She's an amazing (as well as inspiring!) woman.

Couldn't leave out the most favorite gift ever from my sis...her embroidered, framed flag in honor of 9-11.