Friday, July 31, 2009

Kitchen Confessions

No one much likes to air their dirty laundry. We all want it nice and clean before it hits the line where just anyone can see it. However I think we give each other a false since of failure when we do this. We wonder if we are really the ONLY ones with dirty laundry to begin with. In this spirit of confession and renewal of your self confidence I bring you... my kitchen.

The hardware on the cabinets has bothered me ever since we moved in, but with 23 knobs to purchase at an average of $3 a knob... well I didn't have $75 for hardware so I bought a $10 can of automotive paint that claimed it would stick to ANY surface. Apparently the never tested it on porcelain. Ug.

This drawer has... issues. It was unceremoniously bang together with four inch construction nails before we bought the house. I've always wondered what exactly they were thinking as they did this? The knob will not stay on as it was also nailed on crooked.

Okay, tilt your head to the right. This is one of those pictures that blogger will NOT let me rotate. This is the, um, cornice(?) above my sink. It is just yucky with the 80's cut out wood shapes. Gag.

This is the project that I think will make the biggest impact on my kitchen. I am going to replace the one inch squares of wood at the top of the cabinets with crown moldings. Oh yeah. The first piece came off with minimal work, but tore up a piece of my wallpaper. Ack! I think I can fix that...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Breathing in Books

I have been without library books for about two weeks now. I had a little run in with the Decatur Library involving my being told that nothing was due when indeed there was - twice. After emailing the head of circulation, the thirteen dollars in fines was removed, but I was told to keep track of my own books. Uh, that would be why I asked. So... no more Decatur Library. I went today to the Hartselle one which is really coming alive since being cut off from the Wheeler system two years ago. I picked up the above books in less than ten minutes. The last two weeks have been really annoying, but since I finished rereading the last book of the Harry Potter series AGAIN two days ago, I have been ridiculously fidgety. Normally this would be when I throw myself into another home project, but the cold I'm trying not to have is making me sluggish and slightly feverish. The thought has crossed my mind, "Am I addicted to reading?" Here are the signs of addiction:

* Tolerance - the need to engage in the addictive behavior more and more to get the desired effect

* Withdrawal happens when the person does not take the substance or engage in the activity, and they experience unpleasant symptoms, which are often the opposite of the effects of the addictive behavior

* Difficulty cutting down or controlling the addictive behavior

* Social, occupational or recreational activities becoming more focused around the addiction, and important social and occupational roles being jeopardized

* The person becoming preoccupied with the addiction, spending a lot of time on planning, engaging in, and recovering from the addictive behavior

There is no doubt now; I am a book addict. Could be worse. Please excuse me while I go get my fix...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


is NOT my kitchen. Too bad really. This is one of my inspiration pictures for my kitchen/dining room remodel. I find it helps me to pick out several photographs of kitchens I like and see what they have in common. Seems that I am attracted to white cabinets, light neutral walls and antiques. Based on my photo journaling I have realized that I had outgrown my dark kitchen.

To know where I am trying to go I think it helps to see where I've been. In these never before seen photos you can witness the insanity that is first time home buyers:

Here is the Kitchen Before (in case you couldn't guess it) as in "on moving day" and NOT move in ready. Turns out that Holly Hobby inspired wall paper was joined by two other layers and one that was directly ON the drywall. Sigh. Luckily for me they had put the paneling up over the drywall so that was a pretty quick fix.

Here is the after, as in what it has looked like (more or less) for the last six years.

My red which I have LOVED (Kensington Red if you want to know) needed two coats of primer...

After two days in painting like a mad woman I had the walls in both areas and the trim in one finished. I thought I'd go ahead and add curtains since that would be fast and make it feel a bit more finished. Easy right?

No. The curtains that I had fallen in love with at a yard sale turned out to be fabric shower curtains. What?! Oh yes. I had looked at them upside down. Sigh. Here is what they look like right side up. See the double fabric at the top. NOT my style.

Never fear. I have a sewing machine. Two hours later I have curtains that look like that I THOUGHT they looked like when I bought them, albeit a little shorter.

I am aware that none of these pictures really show the new color. If you have ever been to my house it is the same color as the living room only several shades lighter. I will get final pictures up when everything is done.

As if all this isn't enough work, Mom and I went to Nathan and Delores' house to pick figs. Glorious, juicy figs! I spent this morning learning how to freeze and preserve them. I think I will try my hand at pickled figs next week if I'm not too busy painting cabinets.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blackberry Bars

This morning I took my long planned (as in since October last year) trip to pick fresh blackberries. I wanted to wait for a day when I didn't have to take the kids with me since it is a HOT prickly job that they always enjoy for about 5 minutes. After that they mostly eat the ones they managed to pick up until then. Carson surprised me by asking to come along. Even after I explained about the thorns and heat he was still wanting to come so my middlest boy and I took off. The brambles are getting harder to find. I understand that people (like the utility department) don't like to have the thorns around, but I can't wait until have a permanent house to plant a big row on purpose. There is a spot about a mile from my house where the brambles are plentiful enough to pick a few cups at a time. I wish I could find out who owned it so that I could ask permission, but so far it's just a big mess of bushes, small trees, weeds and somewhere in there some berries.

We managed to pick about 4 cups in the 45 minutes we were out there. Carson asked if Grand-gran could eat blackberries and after a couple of garbled up cell phone calls we finally figured out that she could and Carson offered her his two cups. When we got home we spent the rest of the morning cleaning the house and yard and I cooked up a big lunch - T-bone steaks, corn on the cob, pickles, tomatoes and, for dessert, Blackberry Bars. :o)

If you are lucky enough to know a spot to pick fresh blackberries or find them on sale at the store, here is the recipe:

Blackberry Bars

* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
* 1/4 cup butter (I substituted Willow Run All soy Margarine)
* 1/2 cup sour cream (I substituted Toffuti Better than Sour Cream)
* 1 egg, beaten
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup fresh blackberries
* powdered sugar, sifted

Combine flour and brown sugar; cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press 1 1/3 cups of mixture in bottom of an ungreased 8-inch square pan.

Combine remaining crumb mixture, sour cream, egg, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla; blend well. Stir in blackberries. Spoon over crust, spreading evenly. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool; cut into 2 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 12 bars

And yes, I did forget the powdered sugar until after we had started seconds. They were good without it, but even better with. Happy berry hunting!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friends and Fruit: my last two days....

Yesterday was all kinds of fun ~ I say with sarcasm ~ because I got to spend 3 hours with my kids getting new tires and front brakes. Well just two of the kids, but that still made for a no fun morning. We did manage to make it out to Esther's house for a play day that afternoon. Here is my ONE picture of all the little faces. I took 6 so that isn't a bad ratio. I can't seem to get blogger to stop rotating it though... hmmm.

This morning we slept in late and joined Mom around lunch time to hit the farmer's market in Decatur. Just... YUM. I will be happy when it isn't too hot to grow green beans again. I'm SO hungry for some fresh ones!

Mom and I spent most of the afternoon cutting peaches to freeze for Mom's new diet. It's hard, but she is off all carbs and nightshade vegetables. She is going to need LOTS of fruits and veggies to eat so we are trying to plan ahead for the winter. While we cut there were several kinds of birds playing in her country flower garden. The Goldfinch and Hummingbird were especially pretty.

I spent some time just puttering around their house with my camera. Never did get a good picture of the birds, but I did get some pretty ones of other things.

Now for movies night with my little boys. :o)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Spider,,, girl?

Spider-Lady? Woman? I can't quite get my Spidey moniker right. I feel after nearly being bitten I should get at least an honorary title... Spider-chick? This morning while I was getting G dressed for the day I picked up his clean shirt (that had been thrown in the floor because - duh - that is where you keep clean clothes!) and this HUGE Brown Recluse spider crawled up my arm. Now we had a serious infestation last summer, but I hadn't seen one alive since last September. I was more than a little freaked so I flicked it off me threw Griffin out his door and smashed the thing into a smeary spot on my shoe. Instead of getting new tires today and spending the day hanging out in Huntsville, I spent the day deep cleaning the boys rooms again (yes, I did this two weeks ago) and spraying evil spider spray all around the edges of the rooms. Mom was really great. She came over and took the boys out swimming while I cleaned and sprayed. I still came out all wheezy and hacking. Have I mentioned the spray is evil? All's well for I am Spider...person. Ugh, just not working.

After church G and I were watering the flowers out front when he was stung ON the BREASTBONE by... a hornet. Poor baby!! Sheesh. Will you stop with the bugs already?! I am fresh out of cleaver names to make this feel like an adventure instead of just being surrounded by crappy insects...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When Stars Fall

I have been pondering why it is that we get so worked up about certain stars dying. I have seen people get more choked up talking about famous deaths than those of their own family. I mean really, we don't really know these people. Do we? We have little pieces of them; a song, a law, a poem, a philosophy, a movie, a story, a biography, sometimes more photos than any human should ever have taken... But have we ever taken them to lunch, assured them that their hair would grow back or babysat for them while they went to the doctor. What is it about the person we think we know that hurts us so badly when they are gone?

A few months ago a found out that one of my favorite authors, Micheal Crichton, had died of throat cancer at the age of 66. He had not made his battle public and, in the midst of planning our family trip to Disney World, I some how didn't know that he had passed until months later. I was so upset. I knew that I didn't really know this man, but having read all his work and his autobiography, Travels, I felt like I had seen into who he was. He was always there to write something new, intelligent and exciting. Suddenly all of the future plans I had of curling up with his work, his psyche, his brain children were gone. My hopes of getting to tell him thank you were lost as well. Much the same happened when my Grandfather passed away when I was eight. I started to cry, not for the man I knew, but for the man I realized I would never know. All the things about him and our family that were now lost forever. Some of the most intense pain a person can go through is the lost of a pregnancy. It is the lost of something to come. Something beautiful and perfect that is already formed in your mind.

I think that is why we mourn for the celebrities we loose. We are mourning for an idea of things to come. We have seen great things come from them in a HUGE way and we can't wait for the next great thing. The best thing I can think of to do is go into the world and create something great in our own lives. Start creating in the way only you can so that, when you die, people will cry and say, "Is that really the end?"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fabulous 4th of July

After getting up late, we ate our usual Saturday smorgasbord. Griffin really loves the local peaches, but he gets SO sticky that I usually send him outside to eat them. And, yes, he is usually mostly naked.

We headed to Mom's at noon for a cook out with a couple of ladies mom works with at Calhoun. We had a nice HUGE lunch and then Dad set up the slip and slide that Nathan got for their birthdays several years ago.

I tried to explain to Carson that the slip'n'slide didn't hate him, he just needed something other than cut offs... Judging by these pictures after the wardrobe malfunction he didn't believe me:

And all was well... until he landed on that foot and quit for the day. Ah, my Drama King. That also turned out the be the slip'n'slide's last run as well. After several years of taking beatings, it ripped. RIP S'n'S!

After that we headed over to PJ's Fourth of July shindig. The kids had a ball swimming in the baby pool and hot tub and doing the Limbo. Griffin REALLY loved the Limbo.

When it got dark we pulled out the sparklers:

Then after HOURS of begging, the kids finally got their fireworks.

Here is when Phillip decided that eyebrows were highly overrated.

Lou setting off the tanks.

No dads (or kids) were harmed in any of these shots. Yeah, we got lucky!

Here is me and PJ. Thanks for the invite girl! Love ya!