Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kitchen remodel and French Larkspur Giveaway

I have so much to tell you! We have family moments to share, remodeling projects to update you on, and some interesting visitors to our garden.

First, I would like to share with you a glimpse of a home improvement project in our kitchen.
A friend of mine shared with me last March that she was wanting to raise $ for a mission project and she was putting herself up for hire.  Now I haven't asked her if she set me up for this, but I certainly wasn't going to waste an opportunity to get some of this talented woman's time.  I told her "sure, I know I can help!" and told her the next day that I could use some crown molding in our bathroom. My husband, Steve can do crown molding, but I didn't think he would object to someone else doing it instead. But I kept thinking about who could need help or what else I could ask her to do.

The next day I was inspired to tell her I thought of another project I could have her do. I had acquired some incredible 100 yr old ceiling tiles several years ago that have been waiting for our kitchen remodel project. We weren't ready to dig into the whole project, but I thought that perhaps we could start with the ceiling, so I said. "I'd love for you to hang those ceiling tiles for me in the kitchen."  She said, "Good! I've been wanting to dig into your kitchen for at least four years, be ready to make some decisions!"

The next week was a whirlwind, as she came over with her tools, and I spent time researching my preferences and pinning things like crazy to a kitchen board on pinterest. Here are some of our first moments. The first day the acoustical tiles came down exposing some aged wood that cried to be left exposed. The first photograph shows the pantry that came down the first few days also. It wasn't a very efficient use of space and was rather ugly. The second photograph shows the original ceiling with strips of wood taken off and the first row of ceiling tiles around the perimeter. Afterthought would tell us that I should have already cleaned and painted the tiles and that we should have taken the yellow ceiling pieces off to expose more original wood, but instead we plunged forward.

I have more pictures to show you of our before project, but will save them for the next post. I want to share a giveaway so you can have time to enter or consider registering for.

French Larkspur is having a decorating class in October and they are giving away 10 spots to the class. I would love to register for the class, because it is very reasonably priced, but if I can win one of the 10 spots, that would be even better!~ You can get details on the class or win a chance for the giveaway here. I have subscribed to this blog for some time and it is one of several favorites that have given me inspiration in our remodeling projects.

Thank you French Larkspur for motivating me to write a new post today for your giveaway. I have gleaned so much from blogland and would like to become a blogger that informs, inspires, and encourages others. Make sure you watch the video for the class. It is very sweet and has a meaningful message.

I look forward to telling you the rest of the story and bring you up to date with our progress!

Until then, love one another, and make every day count, 

May the Lord bless each of you,


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas Eve

    I trust you had a wonderful Christmas. We traveled to visit family this year. Steve & I drove to Nebraska for Christmas and enjoyed Christmas Eve with my parents. We went to Phil's house for an intimate supper of delicious soup choices,  Janice's amazing cinnamon rolls, and much more. The six of us rode together to Peace Lutheran Church's candlelight service.
Beautiful banners and stained glass windows silently welcome us into the sanctuary. The organist embellished familiar hymns with trills as we found a seat amongst the pews that were filled with families and sleepy children. The service was as magical as I had remembered it. We worshipped singing all the verses to favorite Christmas hymns and concluded by singing Silent Night by candlelight. Before returning home, we gathered in the entryway for a quick visit with Aunt Ruth, Mary, Monte, Lindsey, Tom & Cindy.

Christmas morning we enjoyed another service with Mom & Dad. It had been years since we had celebrated Christmas with them on Christmas eve and day, so it was a big treat.
 Our kids were all celebrating Christmas with their spouse's family and 
we anticipated our gathering together on New Years Day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pomegranate Christmas Cookies

I love Christmas! It is truly a time to count our many blessings and show people how much we care about them. It's a great time to share ideas and new recipes. One new recipe that I am excited about pairs two of my favorite flavors, chocolate and pomegranate. Drop by to sample these yummy Chocolate Chunk Pomegranate Cookies.  First you'll find the recipe for the cookies and some photos of our pomegranate tree, ripe fruit, and of course our precious grandchildren will follow.

The cookie is a fudgey brownie cookie and the brightly colored pomegranate arils make the chunky cookie very festive. I cut up a milk chocolate Hershey bar instead of adding milk chocolate chips.
The recipe is a keeper and we'll make it again. It will be a fun way to share fruit from our garden.

Chocolate Chunk Pomegranate Cookies

1 cup  butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening--you can substitute more butter or coconut shortening because shortening gives cookies a flaky crisp
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

2 cups choc chips or one bag (I used 1/2 semi-sweet chips and cut a large milk chocolate bar into chunks)
1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)

Cream together the butter, shortening, 2 sugars, vanilla, and eggs. Beat the mixture on medium-high for 3 minutes. It will be very creamy.
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine with the butter mixture and mix till just blended. 
Add the pomegranate arils and chocolate chips.
Scoop the dough into small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.   Enjoy!!

It was a good year for our pomegranate tree this year.
This photo was taken in October after I had picked all the fruit that was deemed ripe. 
Last year we got a lot of rain in the fall and most of the fruit rotted before it ripened. After reading about how to tell when to harvest the fruit, I found you look for two things: the tips of the crown turn in, and the circumference becomes square instead of round like an apple.
 It's usually mid October before our fruit is ripe, but we are all watching the fruit 
for at least a month before that if not longer.

This photo of our fruit shows square and round shapes, some with crowns that are turned in and not turned in. Several times we had a threat of frost, so I would harvest the ripe fruit and leave the rest to have a chance to ripen. Thankfully we didn't have a hard frost until all the fruit was ripe.

Our grandchildren are always curious about the tree when they come to visit and typically check on the status of the fruit. We were in the middle of a photo session when Drew spotted some that looked good 
enough to pick.  Don't the kids look sweet in their wedding gear from their
 Uncle Brock's wedding earlier in the summer?

There are some lovely LARGE fruit waaaay up in the tree...........

The fruit within their reach is pretty small and not quite ripe yet, but beautiful to look at nonetheless.

This photo was taken at dusk before I plucked some of the beautiful ripe fruit. 

Our daughter in law, Maggie was served some chocolate ice cream with fresh pomegranate
 sprinkled on it and said it was very delicious. I look forward to trying it! 
 Chocolate and pomegranate pair as well as raspberry and chocolate.
 I'm thankful I discovered the pomegranate double chocolate chip cookie recipe on pinterest last month. It's going to be perfect for my cookie exchange this week.
You'll have to let me know if you make them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This is the whole gang. We enjoyed such a lovely day together. I think this is our first time for the tripod and timer for a group shot.  I wish I could remember what someone said that was so amusing to the kids!

The pumpkin seeds were planted a bit late this year, so the next best thing to eating them in pie on Thanksgiving, is to follow three of our grandchildren out to the yard Thanksgiving morning to harvest them. They grabbed garden gloves & tools on their way out the door. Drew is not to be outdone by his sister Lydia who loves to dress up, so he donned a fancy hat with matching purse to complete his ensemble. Steve looked a bit panicked when he saw me sneak out of  the kitchen with three kids and my camera, so he reminded me how much we still had to do to get dinner on the table.

The Cinderella pumpkin and cheerful harvesters!
We were excited that all the kids would be in for Thanksgiving this year. Everyone brought food, especially yummy food, and the morning was filled with chatter as we all worked together on the rest of the dishes. My daughter in law remarked how she is grateful to be living her dream life of time spent with family enjoying traditions together. I smiled and nodded as I agreed with her, grateful to the Lord for blessed us abundantly with our growing family. 

Alissa brought a deep fried bird to the feast (a first for all of us). We added the turkey our neighbor, Mr. Shedd gave us to the menu to assure lots of leftovers. Ben, our Alton Brown fan, took on the assignment of brining and cooking the Good Eats Roast Turkey. Our sides were sweet potatoes (beautifully topped with marshmallows and crunchy cornflakes by Ben n Maggie), traditional dressing, green bean bundles & loaded baked potatoes (specialties of Alissa), Green Salad w/ spiced apples & Asian pear w/ cinnamon dressing by Megan, Sweet Potato biscuits w/ Lingonberry jam,  Cranberry Orange Sauce , & for dessert- Pumpkin Pie (by Megan and loudly proclaimed by Drew) and Triple Berry Pie .
If you check out the link for the Triple Berry Pie, you'll see that it is not a pie to leave for the last minute to accomplish. Megan had already picked up all the fresh berries at the store for me and was gracious enough to make the pie crust and filling at the last minute.  My helpful kitchen assistants were very anxious to help in the kitchen and very proficiently cut the leaves & flowers to decorate the top and edge. 
The girls were very helpful before dinner writing names on the place cards and spent time writing down some things they were thankful for. I was thankful for these free Thanksgiving printables. They made our table extra festive!

Their masterpiece was very delish and several proclaimed it as a must try again recipe.  I decided it was a perfect way to involve the kids, and their sweet little hands created a very special memory for me. 
I'm thankful for an endless list of blessings. Our family is at the top of that list!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stepping Out

Steve is due home from a pheasant hunting trip shortly and instead of cleaning up my clutter I am trying to figure out how to design my blog! The hunting trip was in Nebraska at my parents farm. Here is a shot of our favorite landmark on their farm. There is 40 yrs worth of Queen Annes lace crawling up the windmill. Don't you think it is beautiful?

I was inspired by on her Nov 16th post to create a centerpiece with pheasant feathers for Thanksgiving. Steve agreed to save me some feathers from their hunt. I will share a photo with you this week, if my efforts are successful. Check out Nancy's amazing talents for table scape and her beautiful transferware dishes.

Today I had a visitor who stopped by after I commented on her blog at I have always loved ribbon roses and her work is more lovely than any other I've seen. Dana was kind enough to thank me and mentioned that she was going to follow me in return but I had no posts! This blog has been on the back burner amongst dozens of other unfinished projects waiting for some attention. I am determined to jump in and figure out how to post photographs and create links. I named this blog 4 yrs ago and find it interesting to note that my quiet time this morning was spent reading the book of James where he says to "Consider it all joy..." in the second verse. (At that point of the day, working on my blog was not even a remote possibility.) Life does have its challenges that develop character, endurance, and make us complete. I look forward to this old study from Chuck Swindoll, who will challenge and teach me interesting perspectives on this practical book.