31 October 2012

DIY Barnwood Welcome Sign

With the demolition of our proud old barn, there's been more than enough wood for me to use for things like trim, flooring and shelves.  However, I also was set on making a few home decor pieces that would travel with us wherever we went to remind us of the magnificent structure.  With a board, some paint and patience, I managed to put together a few charming welcome signs/coat racks.  It was so simple and turned out adorable, each piece being unique as the individual cuts of wood!
What you'll need:

One piece of barn wood (or otherwise weathered wood)--size of your choosing
Craft paint
Xacto knife
Tracing paper or card stock
Hardware (hooks, decorative screws, etc--optional

1.  After choosing your wood, decide what phrase, quote or decoration you'd like.  Size it correctly for your wood (make sure the letters are not too tall, too small and that the entire phrase will fit) and print it.  Cut out with an Xacto knife. 
2.  Arrange the letters and decorations over the wood and tape to keep in place.
3.  Trace firmly with pencil.
4.  Paint within the lines (and don't worry about being perfect--part of the pleasure of working with barn wood are the imperfections).
5.  Force husband to finish if necessary.
6.  Outline with black ink or permanent marker, if desired.
7.  Add decorative hardware if using.  Hang using either nails or screws, making sure its attached to studs if you intend on hanging anything.
8.  Stand back and enjoy your handiwork!

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30 October 2012

Deluxe Sugar Cookies

These are my my go-to sugar cookies for holidays because not only are they so yummy, there's no odd ingredients and the dough can be cut and decorated as desired.  Think Halloween bats, Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas trees, Valentine's Day hearts, whatever--they're perfect.  Plus, it's fun to have kids help decorate before devouring them (I have many fond memories slaving away at the table, decorating cookies for our family to give away to neighbors and coworkers, haha!).
Christmas cookies!

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Thoroughly mix butter, powdered sugar, egg, vanilla and almond extract.  Blend in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Cover and chill about three hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375F.  Divide dough in half and on a lightly floured surface, roll out each down to 3/16 inch.  Cut into desired shapes and sprinkle with sugar--colored or clear--if desired (when we frost our cookies, we skip the sugar).  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned on the edge.  Remove to a wire rack or paper bag to cool.

For the frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Food coloring, optional
Beat together ingredients until smooth--frosting should be slightly runny but thick enough to stay on the cookies--adjust with additional powdered sugar or milk as needed.  Frost and decorate while still moist.  Allow to air dry before storing.
 (Claire sure did!)

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Geldings Are Too

Right after Kate was born, I shared a photo of my husband multitasking to prove that men are capable.

Geldings are too.
My old boy Stoney often snoozes while grazing.  If that's not multitasking, I don't know what is.

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29 October 2012

Corn Crib

Corn crib.

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Thai Pumpkin Soup

Autumn is synonymous with pumpkin and lately has been showing up in various forms from quick breads to pancakes to lasagna.  Jack decided to try something with a little bit of a kick--Thai inspired pumpkin soup.


About 3 pounds pumpkin, peeled and chopped
4 teaspoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon ginger
4 Tablespoons curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
Lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place the pumpkin in a large pan for roasting and toss with half of the oil.  Bake for about 30 minutes until golden and tender (test by pricking with a fork--it should be very soft down to the rind).

Meanwhile, saute the onion, remaining oil, ginger and curry powder until onions are softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Scrape roasted pumpkin from shell into the pan along with the chicken broth and coconut milk, reserving about 3 Tablespoons for garnish.  Mix well and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Cool slightly and place in blender until smooth.  Return to pan and heat thoroughly, adding lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper as needed.

Serve hot with a drizzle of coconut milk or dollop of sour cream if desired.
Add a splash of red with either sliced strawberries or red chilies for a spicy punch.
 Thank you BBC GoodFood for the recipe inspiration!

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28 October 2012

Sister Slave

Jenny and her darling family.  And my husband Jack, the bridge troll.
Remember those hardworking grandmas?  Well I also have a sister who's my slave too.

She and her adorable family were nice enough to come for a visit to spend hours of fun with us, going to pumpkin patches, taking us to breakfast and accompanying Evelyn to dance class.  Then, not once but twice, she helped us get ready for two consecutive morning house showings.  We got up early and while I scrubbed the house clean, she dressed, fed, and fixed six little girls hair before joining forces with me to clean the house before we vacated it for an hour or so.  Then she spent her evenings reading to and playing tedious games of Memory with a two, three and four year old.

Not exactly a relaxing vacation but she said she had fun.

Thank you Jenny, my sister slave!
(And Jordan, Kaylee, Lydia and Elsa!)

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27 October 2012

Chocolate Wows

Don't forget the milk!
These cookies are appropriately named!  They're like lightly crunchy cookies on the outside but soft brownies on the inside.  It's difficult to describe, so just make a batch and taste for yourself.  I'd be surprised if "wow" didn't come to mind.


1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.  Over low heat, melt the chocolate chips and butter, stirring often.  When melted and well combined, remove from heat.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until fluffy.  Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend.
Add in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, vanilla and salt, beating until mixed and smooth.  Fold in the peanut butter chips.
Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet (note that the batter is slightly runny--a cross between cookie dough and brownie mix.  It will set as it cooks).  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are set.

Thank you Recipe Girl for the recipe inspiration!

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26 October 2012

Baby Tamer

Whenever I'm unable to calm Katherine, I just hand her over to Jack.
He's a real life baby tamer.  Thank goodness.
And now you know where she gets her dark hair from.

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25 October 2012


Grandma and Claire waiting for tap to begin.
Evelyn loves to dance at home.
When she has an audience, however, she becomes a bit shy.
Though Evie's age group wasn't scheduled to perform at the Christmas program, Jack and I decided to send her to the auditions for the youngest children's dance number.  When I asked Evelyn if she danced for her try out, she casually remarked, "Nope.  I just stood still."
Evie's a little more animated during tap than ballet.
I sort of laughed and figured she would be sitting in the audience with us for the event.
Claire's ready to dance.  If only there was a dance class for two year olds...
Imagine our surprise when we received a phone call inviting Evelyn to be in the Christmas program!  The sweet dance instructor decided to give Evelyn a chance to perform since we won't be here for the spring recital.  No one knows if she'll dance but at least we can give it a try.
Kind of like I did last year in my late twenties with a group of other mothers who decided to try to dancing on stage for the first time.

It's never too late to start dancing I guess.

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24 October 2012

Cranberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

A family friend passed along this recipe after I shared mine for Oatmeal Crunchies.  While there are similarities, these cookies aren't so deathly sweet, are soft instead of crunchy and feature cranberries.  They're just as delicious as some of the recipes I've featured and I don't feel bad if the girls munch on one for breakfast or as a snack.


1 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour (can substitute whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup craisins (or raisins)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat butter until light and fluffy, then add in sugars and cream.  Add eggs, then water and vanilla.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the butter mixture and blend until a soft dough forms.  Fold in oatmeal and craisins.
Drop by spoonfuls onto slightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake for eight to nine minutes or until cookies are set and slightly golden.  Remove to a wire rack or paper bag.

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Claire's Revenge

She got her revenge.

And in case you're worried about Hercules' safety . . .
. . . he didn't bother moving when he had the chance.  He's a glutton for punishment.

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