Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Thank You Gift for A Great Teacher

Tomorrow is Willen's last day of school. 

I can't believe that his first year of Kindergarten is nearly over!

Today the class is celebrating with a party, and each child usually brings something special as a little thank you for their teacher. I wanted to it to be something that was inexpensive, but still special.

This is what I came up with.

I had found these bags at Marshalls a few weeks ago for $1.99. I grabbed every single one they had. I then hand lettered his teacher's initials (SH) onto the bag using Martha Stewart's acrylic paint in Wedding Cake. I threw in a copy of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, a yearly summer read of mine, that I had picked up from Chapter's when their classic lit goes on sale 3 for $10.

So the total for a monogrammed book bag and classic novel?

Five dollars.

Some pretty ribbon and a thank you note finished it off. I should also mention that it also took about 10 minutes to do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Dining Room and A New Table

I'm always amazed at the difference a fresh coat of paint makes in a room.

This is our dining room. It was an addition to the house. It took us a very long time to settle on the room. Originally, the dining room was a part of the living room, but it was quite a small space. This room has been everything; a sitting room, a mud room, a play room, an office, and now a dining room.

About a year ago, we finally decided that it works best as dining room. It's bright and has the most beautiful view of the back yard. It has french doors to the back deck and it's just off the kitchen, however, the size of the room is slightly small. It's been hard to find a table that fits comfortably in the space. A round table worked well for every day use, but when company came over, four chairs simply wasn't enough room. We then tried a long, narrow table that was actually our desk. It fit the space width wise, but the length wasn't ideal and it made the path to the door outside a little cramped.

This is a beautiful old farm table that my parents brought back a few years ago from a barn in Ohio. It's just the right size for four people to sit at comfortably, and comes with a leaf to give us more room when company comes for dinner.

It's a beautiful warm wood colour, with just the right amount of character. It's simple and works wonderfully in this space. I'm happy to be able to borrow it for a while.

This is the room with everything removed, and a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It was originally terra cotta colour and honestly, I hated it. I also couldn't stand the tile colour. However, after painting the walls white, and keeping the decor neautral, I didn't mind the tiles anymore. When the kitchen is redone, everything will be tiled the same. But for now, I'm content with it.

Walls - Simply White by Benjamin Moore
Trim - Decorator's White by Benjamin Moore

Two simple shelves flank the narrow window on the East side of the house.

Simple peg hooks are also beside the dining room, on the way down the stairs to the basement. It's where I hang my shopping bags and my bucket of clothes pegs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Peonies and a New Addition to the Garden

The Sarah Bernhardt Peonies that line our front walk are now in full bloom. They were the last variety to open.

Their double blooms are a pretty pink, with hints of fuchsia, and bright yellow centers.

Aside from a few smaller buds on other bushes, these are the last of my peonies to bloom. It's bittersweet. 

But it means that my garden roses will soon be in bloom and ready for cutting, as well as the hydrangeas.

I love their different shades of pink.

The boys and I are anticipating another new addition to our garden.

Do you see her?

She's been busy making her nest on the down pipe, tucked in the ivy on the back sun room.

Since her nest is right beside the dining room window, we've watched her busily flying back and forth, all day long, making her nest ready. We even saw her and daddy "playing tag" as Willen put it. Now she's stopping flying about, and is sitting on her nest. Any day now we're expecting to hear the commotion of little baby birds.

Until then, we're patiently watching her keep her beautiful blue eggs warm. We think there are three, maybe even four, but we've only dared to take one quick peek.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sugar-Free, Grain-Free Banana Muffins

I wanted to share with you a recipe I came across for some healthy, but still yummy muffins. They're sugar-free (except for the handful of dark chocolate chips I added) and grain-free Banana Granola Chocolate Chip Muffins. Working in a bakery, as wonderful as that is, it's not so great for one's waistline. These are nutritious and the whole family enjoyed them.

I came across the recipe here.

I used almond butter for my nut butter, maple syrup as my sweeter, and homemade granola and a few dark chocolate chips as garnish. 

The granola is something I make without a recipe. It's oats, unsweetened coconut, sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts, chia seeds and golden flax seeds all thrown on a sheet pan and toasted for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. While that is toasting, I bring 1/3 cup of maple syrup, a few tablespoons of water, a bit of vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon to boil for a few minutes. Then I pour it over the toasted granola and stir. It goes back in the over for another 10 minutes to crisp up. I let it cool completely before putting it away in my jar. It makes about 6 cups. 

It's easy to switch it up too! In the Fall I add cranberries and pumpkin seeds with Pumpkin Pie Spice to make it more Fall-like.

We prefer to sprinkle it on our Greek yogurt.

Give them a try! They're delicious.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Weekend of Celebrations

This past weekend was spent celebrating one wonderful person after the other.

First, it was Willen's 5th birthday. I don't even know where that past give years have gone.

Then came Grandma's 85th birthday, and with it, dinner out with the entire family.

And then, of course, Father's Day. A day of celebrating the godly men who lead our families and how blessed we are to have them in our lives.

This feels like yesterday.

He is growing into the most wonderful, loving, smart little man, who brings me so much joy.

We celebrated with some boys from school. Given the amount of chaos caused by a dozen boys, and the size of my house, the party took place in the back yard, despite the rain. They had a blast running through the rain, having a water gun fight, and then exploring the ravine out back.

In keeping with the simplicity of the party, I made giant homemade Oreo's for in their treat bags.

After feeling overwhelmed with the amount of toys he has, and having no idea what to get him, I decided a baseball bat and glove were the perfect gifts for a young boy. He loved them. And it instantly became something for him and Ryan to bond over. The fishing rod and tackle box, camping chair, bow and arrow and scooter were also great gifts from family. Lots of outdoor fun, perfect for a boy.

Of course Hudson is equally excited about the baseballs.

And my husband, the father of my beautiful boys. I can't even put into words the love I have for this man. I've seen God do amazing things in him and I am beyond blessed to be his wife.

The weekend ended with one last party for Willen at Beam's and Papa's (Ryan's parents). They decorated the whole house with balloons and streamers and had party hats and had games and a worm cake. Willen was spoiled, and Hudson happily followed along, thinking everything was just as much for him as it was for the birthday boy.

I love this photo! He wouldn't take his party hat off.

And to my wonderful dads, who lead us in love and fill our families with laughter. You are amazing fathers, and extra special grandfathers.

We love you.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Country Living Fair - Part II: Red Chair Antiques

I've been looking forward to showing you through one of the highlights of my weekend away. It was so wonderful, it deserved a post of it's own.

Welcome to Red Chair Antiques on the famous Warren Street in Hudson, New York.

I think many of you, after browsing these photos, will understand the feeling I had when I walked through the door of this shop. I didn't know where to look first. I have yet to be in a store with such an exquisite collection of beautiful European antiques.

This is such a small section of what is there to see. The lighting was cozy and romantic and therefore hard to capture the beauty of each created space, but trust me, it just seemed to go on and on. Shelves of ironstone, pots of cutlery, stacks of old books, a bed piled with antique linens... It even overflowed into the back courtyard. It was almost too much to take in at once. Owner and curator, Jocie Sinauer, has done a brilliant job seeking out the beauty of old Euprope, bringing it home, and breathing new life into it. I felt as though I could have spent hours in each vignette, admiring the beauty of each collected piece, wondering what it's story was. It was everything I had hoped it would be, and so much more.

For even more of this lovely shop, visit her online at Red Chair Antiques.