Monday, November 29, 2010

Kitchen Island

We knew when we designed our kitchen that we would want a small island or table in the middle. I wanted to shop around a bit, since I was pretty sure I didn't want the island/table to match the cabinets and countertops around the perimeter of the kitchen. I wanted the look of an antique table and was hoping to find something to purchase that was just the right look. I also wanted something portable, because I know of kitchen islands that are in the way sometimes.

At some point in our remodel process, we were forced to have our dining table in the middle of the kitchen. I quickly realized that a standard-height table makes a poor work surface. It is too low to work at standing up.

I met with our kitchen coordinator and ordered a small island in the style of a table, in quarter-sawn oak. It is the same height as the cabinets, so it is a very comfortable work surface.  I paid extra for them to distress it, so that it would look old -- Why does that always seem backwards?

The island was delivered last week, just in time for Thanksgiving food preparation. I decided on soapstone for the countertop and bought a remnant since it just needed a small piece.

The island has been a great addition to the kitchen and we use it constantly. The soapstone gets oiled with mineral oil--more frequently in the beginning. I love the look and function!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipe Book

If you like to make things, this idea has been one of my favorite:

Since I make a full Thanksgiving dinner for our family every year, I use the same basic recipes over and over. A couple of years ago, I decided to get them all together in one place, to avoid having 6 different cookbooks out on my counter on the big cooking day.

I bought the unfinished flip-album at my local scrapbooking store. I embellished the cover by using the computer, ribbon, and buttons.  Then I made section tabs with cardstock punched with a circle punch. On the inside pages, I wrote the recipes I use in my own handwriting, because maybe one of my grandkids will use it someday and think it's cool to see my penmanship. I left blank pages in every section, to allow for more recipes to be added. I also left some blank pages at the beginning for notes, etc. (For example, I like a reminder of which recipes need to be made the day before. I might add a shopping list at some point.)

If you have special recipes (like Aunt Elaine's cranberry sauce), this is a great way to pass them along.
Happy crafting!


Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you. We had a very relaxing day yesterday, with little obligation other than getting a big meal on the table for dinner.

On this Black Friday morning, I am sitting in my jammies at the computer. I am not even shopping online, although I've wondered if there is a great sale on some item that hasn't even made it onto my shopping list yet. (Maybe I should shop the sales to get ideas.) I have not made a shopping list for Christmas or the 3 extended family birthdays that I buy for in December. The shopping is the most unappealing and overwhelming of all my holiday preparations. I would prefer to stay home and craft, sew, or bake a gift for everyone on my list. Oh, how I wish that Santa's elves would take care of the shopping!  If you have an idea for anyone between the ages of 7 and 67, please pass it along.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kicking off the Holidays...

Meggan and I were invited to join friends and attend a Lori Line concert in Ames on Sunday. (Thanks Mary and Emily!) Lorie Line has been coming to Ames for around 20 years; this performance was part of her "Making Spirits Bright" 2010 holiday tour. It was such a fun way to get in the mood for Christmas and our first time to attend one of her shows.  I can't wait to download some beautiful piano Christmas music to add to my listening library. :)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

This cracks me up!!!

Sugarland--"Stuck Like Glue"

I've always loved Sugarland--Jennifer Nettles is about the cutest thing ever and this video is hilarious. Beware: this song will get "stuck" in your head forever!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Have you made any of these yet...

Pumpkin bars are a must-have this time of year. I don't know why I don't make them the rest of the year, but I only make them in the fall. Regardless, we all love them. Make a batch and ENJOY!

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs--beat in electric mixer
then add sugar, oil, and pumpkin; beat 2 minutes:
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
15 oz. can pumpkin

2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon

Pour into a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 min.

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
2. T. milk
1 t. vanilla

Monday, November 15, 2010

A final remodel photo...

One of the final, but most beautiful touches to our remodel project was the fireplace mantle. I wanted something that looked like an antique. I found a picture I loved and our builder made something new, and then he made it look old. (i.e. He scraped and beat and poked it with various tools and such)
It is exactly what I wanted...except the television hanging above it. I'd much rather have some pretties there.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Loved this movie...

Last weekend, our family saw the movie Secretariat with the Missouri relatives.  It was such a great family movie, especially if you love horses. Its full of girl power too.  His owner is a woman in a man's world of horse racing. She bets the family farm on Secretariat and wins big.

and speaking of girl power--
Before we went to the movie, we watched Zenyatta run in the Breeders Cup...oh my! she was so close to winning!  One more length and I think she would have had it!
Do you know about this race horse?
She had never lost a race until last Saturday. It was her final race and would have been her 20th win, but it was not to be. She is an awesome horse to watch--she stays in the back--dead last--for a good part of the race, and then she surges around all the others for the dramatic win. I love it when she beats all the boys! btw--she is a six-year-old! You can watch her races on youtube.  I highly recommend it. We like watching her races for our evening entertainment. She doesn't disappoint.

30 Days of Gratitude--updating daily

Last year I made a December Daily album (find it on the right-hand sidebar and click to view), to document things we did in December. It was fun to take a picture each day for the month of December, but even more fun to look at the completed album throughout the year and remember the things we did to prepare for Christmas.

This year I decided to make a book of November blessings. I am planning to take a picture each day and write a note of what I'm thankful for the 30 days this month. I was also planning to blog about it each day, and I am already behind. Let's hope I finish the month stronger than my start.

Nov 1: I am thankful for my home and I am enjoying the remodeled space with plenty of room for friends. I am so grateful that I have had the privilege of being a stay at home mom and get to make our house a "home".

Nov 2: What a priviledge to be allowed to vote. God bless America!

Nov 3: I am grateful for the teachers my kids have. Parent/teacher conferences were today, and it was great to be reminded that our public school staff does a great job investing in the lives of the kids.

Nov 4: Early out from school, so I took the girls on a quick shopping trip. It was fun to see them interact together. Grateful--I always wanted them to experience sisterhood.

Nov 5: No school today--traveling to Missouri to see the relatives. I am thankful that we have a dependable and comfortable vehicle to travel in with modern conveniences like the dvd player!

Nov 6: Thankful that I got to spend a good part of the day with my mom, which doesn't happen often. We had our creativity hats on at a rubber stamping workshop, which is a hobby we both enjoy.

Nov 7: It was a beautiful day to enjoy God's creation. We spent most of the day outdoors with our extended families in Missouri. We also got some family pictures taken. I am so grateful that we had a great time together. Here's a picture, in case you haven't experienced what it's like to try to get 12 people to look good in a picture. : ) We did get some good ones--for which I am thankful!

Nov 8: Today I crashed--sore throat, runny nose. Grateful that Ryan and Meggan are willing to be servants. They have brought me tea and read aloud the school work that I would normally read to them.

Nov 9: Grateful to be feeling better today. I was even able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful 70 degree weather. It was a nice surprise to have Byron get home from work early, so we took Brandon to Hickory Park for some bbq to celebrate his birthday.

Nov 10: Celebrating the birthday of my oldest child. He is eighteen today and we are so proud of him.
Nov 11: Grateful for the smell of homemade bread in my new kitchen--I feel very blessed.
Nov 12: I am thankful for a garage to park my van in--pouring rain all day today.  Also thankful for Meggan and her sweet friends who had a band concert for the parents this evening. They worked so hard and did a fabulous job. I hope they always want to spend Friday nights performing music for their parents...

Nov 13: Relaxation--Grateful for a Saturday with nothing going on. It was great to catch up on photography work.
Nov 14: I am thankful for the freedom to worship. Also grateful for a 30 minute Panara date with my hubby.
Nov 15: Thankful for my husband's good job, and that he is such a good provider. He left for Europe on a business trip today.
Nov 16: Thankful for my daughter's piano playing.
Nov 17: Thankful that we have an abundance of food available to us in this country. (grocery shopping day)
Nov 18: Three of us went to the dentist today--grateful for no cavities!
Nov 19: Very thankful for dear friends and the lunch date I had today.
Nov 20: Celebrating my hubby's safe return from his week-long business trip.
Nov 21: I am grateful for friends who invited us to a fun piano concert.
Nov 22: Thankful that I finished up organizing my photo albums before the holiday busy-ness starts. Looking at all the photos from the year made me count my blessings.
Nov 23: Grateful for sunshine--it has been very dreary here lately.
Nov 24: The kids are out of school early today, and I love the feel around the house of the beginning of a holiday break. I am thankful for my four children.
Nov  25: Grateful for my family and this country as I celebrate Thanksgiving.
Nov 26: It was a pleasant day as far as the weather was concerned. I got out all the Christmas decorations and started the process of "decking the halls". I am thankful that I can surround myself with the beauty of the holiday season. In so many parts of the world people are suffering. I take my easy and wonderful life for granted.
Nov 27: We visited the local tree farm today and cut our Christmas tree. I am so grateful for this tradition and the fun we have as a family.
Nov 28: The final day of a four-day weekend.  I am thankful for the time we had to get a lot of work done and still have plenty of time to relax and hang out together. I love long weekends at home!
Nov 29: We had a great day of school today--I am grateful to have had the opportunity to homeschool all four of my kids.
Nov 30: I had my yearly exam and mammogram today. I am so fortunate to have great medical care for myself and my family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to my oldest...

My oldest son Brandon is eighteen today. We are really proud of the young man he is becoming. It seems strange to have an eighteen year I old enough for that? He is a great kid and we love having him around. It will be so different around here when he leaves for college.

Eighteen things about Brandon:

1. He loves to be outdoors--hunting, fishing, trapping, working; and he doesn't mind the cold or the heat.
2. He has a dry sense of humor.
3. He is very responsible.
4. He is introverted, but likes to be around his favorite people.
5. My yard will suffer when he leaves home, because he is so great at landscaping.
6. He is hungry all the time, and if he gets REALLY hungry he's grouchy.
7. He asks me what there is to eat all the time.
8. He has loved to dig since he was old enough to sit up. (snow, dirt, rocks, etc.)
9. He still loves to dig.
10. He is a senior this year--he played football and will go out for track.
11. He is planning to go to Iowa State University and major in construction engineering.
12. He is good at math and science.
13. He is a talented musician--plays trumpet, guitar, mandolin, and can still play a bit on the piano.
14. He is respectful to his elders.
15. He loves his family.
16. He loves Jesus and has a rock-solid type of faith. His spiritual gift is service.
17. He doesn't like change.
18. He likes to say he's from Missouri, in spite of the fact that he was born in Iowa. Missouri feels like home to him as much as his Iowa home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Birthday Girl--sweet 16!

My oldest daughter Ellyn turned 16 on October 31. She was born at 6:05 on a Halloween night. How could she be 16 already? Wasn't it yesterday that she was running around in the back yard playing Little House on the Prairie? Wasn't it yesterday that she was rocking and burping her babies?  She has grown into a beautiful young woman and we are so proud of her.

Sixteen things about Ellyn...

1. She is beautiful--inside and out.
2. She is smart and a good student.
3. She understands herself better than many adults do. She knows her strengths and weaknesses.
4. She has a great sense of humor.
5. She is extroverted and loves people.
6. She is a leader.
7. She is creative--I love her originality when she makes something.
8. She is stubborn and strong willed.
9. She is passionate and dramatic.
10. She is spunky and competitive.
11. She has a fiery personality that matches her vibrant hair.
12. She isn't afraid of being unique.
13. She loves Jesus and is purposeful in living out her faith.
14. She loves her brothers and sister.
15. She doesn't like to cook. (She might need to live with her younger brother or sister when she moves away from home. They know how to cook better than she does.)
16. She is a truth speaker.

Happy 16th birthday Ellyn! I hope you had a great birthday yesterday. I am so blessed to have a daughter like you.