Friday, February 26, 2010

Love: What the Bionic Man Puts up With

Remember, long ago, when I showed you this?

And I discussed how much I hated the color on my walls, which I described so lyrically as "gacky sage"?  And then I blogged about how I was going to systematically cover all of the gacky sage with a nice, light neutral, "antique white."  And I showed you pictures of the amazing transformation.  Gacky sage to antique white, voila!
Mmmm.....lovely, yes?  So I painted several walls, began prep on two more.....and was sidetracked by other comings and goings in my life: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, know, the basics.  I have thousands of square feet left to paint.  I'm not kidding.  All I've painted so far is the back hallway, two walls in the dining room, and part of one other wall.  I have the entire kitchen, great room, entry, stairway, and upstairs hallway to go.  Is it okay to wait until spring, when I can have the windows open while I'm painting?

Anywho, as I procrastinated the painting, I dreamed of how lovely it would be to accent my nice, new, neutral color pallette with accents of turquoise and red.  Remember?  Aqua Poppy, anyone?

House of Turquoise
Yep, it's all coming back, now.  

Then, this week, I made a discovery.  A frightening discovery.  

Silver Sage.

It was in this gorgeous, gorgeous house I took a virtual tour of this week.  

I have to explain, we drove across the country last summer.  We spent several days in Colorado.  I developed a huge crush on a town called Castle Rock.  (Yes, I crush on towns.  And houses.  All the time.  I've been nursing a crush on Jackson Hole, Wyoming for years.  And that yellow bungalow on the corner next to the church I went to as a mom told me yesterday it is for sale!)  Castle Rock, Colorado.  Castle Rock isn't exactly Vail, when it comes to towns in Colorado.  It's just a little farm community that has had a housing explosion, and is now a suburb of Denver.  But I loved it anyway.  I daydream about writing "Castle Rock, Colorado" whenever I am filling out forms and come to the City and State line.  

Periodically, I check the real estate listings in Castle Rock.  Not that we're moving there anytime in this millenium.  They don't seem to need any aerospace engineers in Castle Rock.  But I check anyway.  Because if my husband's current company (which has marvelous health insurance) should ever announce their plans to move their operations to Denver, Colorado.....then I'll be ready.  Hahaha.

The house that has caused me to stumble upon silver sage wasn't even in Castle Rock.  So I guess there was no good reason to disclose to you my crush other than I seem to be feeling confessional, today.  It was in Denver.  And it wasn't for sale.  It was just a model home.  From one of those trendy Planned Urban Development communities where all the houses look vintage-chic and like they should be on the historical register......only they are brand new and energy efficient.  Houses like this:

and this

and this

and--my favorite!--this:

Obviously, I have a thing for porches.  Wraparound porches.  And dormer windows.  And attics.  And Silver Sage.  And white clapboard.  

Now, I really, really want you to go on the virtual tour that turned me on to Silver Sage.  But I couldn't get it to import to the blog.  Follow these steps:  go here, then scroll down on the right side of the page where it says "View Virtual Tour" and click on that.  Take the virtual tour and pay special attention to the foyer, living room, kitchen, and great room.

That's how I discovered Silver Sage.  I was so completely taken with that lovely blue (I'm sure it's really blue, not gacky sage) that I called the builder's office and asked for the paint color.  They didn't know the paint color, but they knew it was from Restoration Hardware.  

I didn't know Restoration Hardware sold paint.  They do!  It only comes in a few shades, but one of the most popular is Silver Sage.  (I'm pretty sure the paint in my Virtual House is light silver sage.)

Turns out, Silver Sage is old news in the blogosphere.  Everyone is doing it.

Apartment Therapy

Whitney English


Anyway, back to my house.....I want Light Silver Sage.  I want to paint it over my current Gacky Sage.  Only I don't want to repaint that nice neutral I started with.  That nice neutral still works for me.  But Light Silver Sage must go into my great room.  It must!  

There is only one problem.  The Bionic Man has listened to me complain about Gacky Sage for years.  He is going to flip when I tell him I'm planning to paint the wall around our fireplace Light Silver Sage.  And he's not going to be any happier when I tell him that for the project to be complete perfection, I need chair rail molding installed throughout our great room, so that I can have Antique White on top and Light Silver Sage on the bottom.  (See the living room of my Virtual House for my inspiration.)  I think I'll have to change the name.  "Easter Blue" or something.  Anyone want to help me with this one?

Also, will people quit blogging about painting their cabinets white?  I had white cabinets in my last house, and the only thing that is stopping me from painting the cupboards in my current house white is my love for the Bionic Man.  There will be no painting of the cabinets in this house, he tells me.  (But they need to be white so that my walls can be Light Silver Sage!!!!)  Everyone who is showing their successful cabinet re-do's is getting me into trouble.  

Also, I'm going to require slip covers or some reupholstery for my Connecticut Couch and Chairs.  Their current state is not going to cut it with Silver Sage.

So, let's recap:
1.  I still haven't finished the painting project I began in October.  We're rapidly approaching six months.
2.  I have a crush on Castle Rock, Colorado.
3.  Until the day I move there, I must find joy and contentment in my current space.  Joy, no problem.  Contentment?  Not until I get some light silver sage Easter Blue on my walls.
4.  The Bionic Man won't let me even think about painting the kitchen cabinets white.  (Do you think I could win a kitchen makeover?)
5.  After I sew the girls' Easter dresses, I need to learn how to reupholster things.  Or make slipcovers.  In sliver sage velvet.  Mmmmm, that's right.

By the case you were wondering....I never did get the stomach flu!  Superkid was able to return to school yesterday, but is home again today....with diarrhea.  Darn those germs!  I don't even want to discuss how many days of school Superkid has missed during her first year of school, so far.  It is a number not to be believed.  (Especially considering the fact that she hasn't been hospitalized.)  Is this what it will be like for the rest of her school years?



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Love: Bucketfuls

Buckets can be a mom's best friend.

I like to keep a couple of clean buckets on hand.

Buckets are very useful when I have a child (or two) with the stomach flu.  Skip this next part if you aren't a mom or do not care to read about gross stuff.  I make the person with stomach flu carry the bucket around everywhere they go.  If they want to sleep comfortably in their bed--as opposed to curled up on the bathroom floor next to the toilet--they can, and the bucket is a handy nearby receptacle.  If it needs to be dumped out, I just flush it down the toilet, rinse it in the tub, and spray all things mentioned down with bleach spray.  Very easy.  Children seem to be able to vomit into a bucket with better aim than they can a toilet.  Trust me on this one.

You probably do the same thing at your this is old news.  But I'm telling you about it anyway because every so often I come across a fellow mom who wasn't taught about buckets.  

There's only one reason I would gross you out like this today.  

We are on Day Three of the Yucky Stomach Flu (what a lyrical statement!) at our house.

It hit Superkid hard and fast on Monday, and she's still not 100% better.  Or even 75%.  

Stomach flu causes some havoc with coumadin and INR levels.  So does everything else in the world, but stomach flu is particularly hard on the INR.  Probably because it messes with electrolytes and metabolism.  Darn germs.
One down, four to go.  You know it is only a matter of time before the rest of us have it.

I'm guessing that it will hit me today, because I have a huge list of things to do.

1.  Go to the church and decorate the gym for tonight's Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet.
2.  Go to the store and buy cake mix and other assorted items I need to fulfill other assignments for the Blue and Gold Banquet.
3.  Make 5 dozen blue and gold cupcakes.
4.  Frost 5 dozen blue and gold cupcakes.
5.  Organize games for the Blue and Gold Banquet.
6.  Take children to piano lessons and basketball practice.
7.  Get my family to the Blue and Gold Banquet on time.
8.  Do the stuff I'm supposed to do at the Blue and Gold Banquet.
9.  Climb my mountain of laundry, put a flag on top, and try to finish washing it.
10.  Wait until midnight to have stomach flu.

By the way, did I mention that I'm the new Cub Scout den leader?  (I'm stoked about it, seriously.  I think Cub Scouts are awesome, and I'm so excited to plan activities.)

It is going to be a crazy day.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Love: Sew This is Love for Something Special Saturday

Welcome to the latest edition of

Fair Warning:  the rest of this post has nothing to do with Cinderella! 
Just had to throw her song in there to go along with my title.  Humor me!

Sewing.  Oh, sewing.

I have been blessed with several talents, but sewing is not one of them. 

Is this really something to lament?  Some of you might well wonder.  Not necessarily.  Hundreds--nay, millions--of people around the world get by without sewing a single stitch in this day and age.  Why should I be any different? 

Just one little reason.....I have a darling almost 11 year old daughter, who is just as petite as can be.  Too small for the tween dresses, too grown up for the dresses that fit her.  Plus, have you ever tried to find a stylish, modest dress for a tween that looks like it will make it through the first wash cycle?  Let me tell you, they are hard to come by for less than $75. 

Unless you make them. 

Sooooooo.......for the last couple of years, I have been trying to increase my sewing skills.  It is not easy.  Sewing doesn't come naturally to me, and I don't particularly enjoy it.  Let's just say I don't do it to relax.  But Endeavor loves it when I make things for her.  

I've learned several things along the way that have really helped me.  
#1.  I don't like cutting out pattern pieces.
#2.  I have a lot more fun sewing if I don't have to use a pattern; just cut fabric and sew.
#3.  The internet has lots of no-pattern tutorials for people like me.

Right now, I'm working on several sewing projects, and I'll show those to you in a few weeks  days.

In the meantime, I want to showcase some of the blogs I've gone to that have given me great ideas and instructions for easy sewing projects. 

Stitch Market
My friend Nicole introduced me to her friend Reese via Reese's project blog, Stitch Market

Reese is a talented seamstress, but the beauty of her project blog is that it showcases some really accessible projects for the beginning seamstress.  Here is a sample of what you'll see on Reese's blog.

Fun aprons

darling dresses

with matching ties for the boys (she offers a link to an online tie-making tutorial).

Reese is incredibly resourceful.  She was trying to find the perfect dress for her eight-year-old daughter's baptism.  She found it, but it was $150 on J.Crew's Crewcut's line. 

Reese found a vintage pattern in her collection, and turned it into the exact same dress....
for a lot less!

There's lots more to see on Reese's blog! 

I discovered Shelley's 7 Layer Studio when I was searching the internet for a tutorial on apron making.  (I have a thing for aprons, I've discovered.)  She has a terrific apron tutorial,
and the unique thing about this apron is that it is reversible!

Shelley writes very thorough, easy to follow tutorials.  She has one for a girl's twirly skirt, and even includes an adaption for adult twirly skirts. 

Visit Shelley's blog and check out the right sidebar for more tutorials on things like ribbon bows, window valances, and more!

The simplest twirly skirt tutorial I have found--by far--is at Oliver+S.  Oliver+S sells vinatage/retro patterns, but they also offer some free patterns and tutorials on their shop blog.
This is how their skirt looks:

That ribbon hem is genius, pure genius, I tell you.
This type of skirt is super-simple to make (even I can do it!), and is super versatile.  You can pair it with leggings or shorts, and you have practically limitless possibilities with all the different fabric out there.  Go here for illustrated instructions.

Well, I'm off to apply some of my mad sewing skilz to those projects I promised to show you.

Sometimes, the only thing that keeps me going when I sit at the sewing machine is this scene from one of my all-time favorite movies.  I think of it, laugh hard, and tell myself to sew like the wind!  Every time I sew.

BTW, sorry for all the crazy changing fonts in this post.  I think my computer just may be possessed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Love: A Special Meal

I like to have a special meal on Valentine's Day.  Usually, we don't go out to eat to celebrate Valentine's Day.  It's just not very romantic to deal with the crowds.  In fact, there have been several years we've had other couples join us at our house on Valentine's Day for International Potluck.  That's been fun: everyone saves money and still gets to enjoy fabulous food.

Anyway, this year Valentine's Day was on Sunday, and Sunday is always really crazy for us.  I decided to prepare our special meal on the day after Valentine's Day.  (I like to get as much mileage out of every holiday as I possibly can.  My children appreciate this about me.)

I happened to have some salmon fillets and shrimp in the freezer that needed to be used.  So I went a little crazy with the seafood.  It was so good.  So very, very, melt-in-your-mouth and scream for more good.  If I do say so, myself.

Before I show you what was on the menu, I have to tell you this:  I wasn't going for a crowd pleaser when I came up with this entree.  I was planning on pleasing my husband (who loves seafood) and tossing out a few PB&J delicacies for the children if they turned up their noses.  No PB&J was served that night, because no noses were turned up.  In fact, the children ate their food, asked for second helpings, and asked if there were any leftovers the next day!!!!!!!!!  That never, ever, happens at our house.  Unless I serve ice cream for dinner.

But I didn't serve them ice cream that night.  I served them......
Salmon Stuffed with Shrimp and Brie
accompanied by Sauteed Green Beans and Roasted Red Peppers

Not only did the children and the Bionic Man love it, it was easy to make, too!  I looked at several recipes and came up with my own.  I wasn't sure how it would work, and I'm not the Pioneer Woman,  so I can't provide an illustration for every step.  Sorry.  But trust me, it is easy.  If you love seafood and yummy fattening stuff, you'll love this.

To make this recipe, you will need:
8 salmon fillets
6 oz. cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp (variation: 3 oz. shrimp, 3 oz. crab--you can use canned!)
2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 teaspoons artisan/gourmet mustard (I used the Walla Wall Sweet Onion mustard my husband brought home from a business trip, but I'm sure Grey Poupon would work, too!  If it is very spicy, don't use this much.)
4-5 oz. brie cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 bunch scallions
3 tablespoons butter, divided
salt & pepper (I prefer fresh ground sea salt and peppercorns)
dillweed (fresh or dry)
Hollandaise Sauce (recipe below)
A good knife

Step 1:  If you are using frozen salmon and shrimp (like I did), make sure that yours are completely thawed.  You want to use fillets that are at least 1-1/2 inches thick.  I purchase my frozen seafood at Sam's Club or Aldi.  If you are lucky enough to use fresh seafood, you can skip this step.
Step 2:   Put the 6 oz. of shrimp and/or crab into your food processor or use your knife to cut it into fine pieces.  
Step 3:  Once the shrimp is chopped up, dump it into a mixing bowl and add the mustard and mayo, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/2 teaspoon dillweed.  
Step 4:  Cut the brie cheese into small pieces and add to the shrimp mixture.  If you don't use brie, you could try substituting another soft cheese.  Just remember, brie doesn't melt as quickly as other cheeses, so the consistency of your stuffing may be a little different.  Try cream cheese or swiss cheese and let me know how it works!
Step 5: Lightly sautee the scallions in 1 Tablespoon of the butter.  Once they have softened slightly, add the breadcrumbs to the frying pan and toss them around a little until they are just lightly toasted.  This will happen very quickly--don't walk away from those breadcrumbs or they will burn!
Step 6: Remove the breadcrumbs from the stove to cool for a minute while you cut the salmon fillets.  Use a good knife to slice the salmon on three sides, so that you can open it like a book.  I believe this is called butterflying by people who know how to cook, but I'm still learning, so I won't call it that.  You can be preheating the oven to 375 degrees while you are working on this step.  
Step 7: Add half the breadcrumb/scallion mixture to the shrimp mixture and mix it well.  If the stuffing seems too dry, feel free to add a little more mayo.
Step 8:  Line a large baking dish with foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  Open each fillet and place a generous scoop of stuffing inside.  Close them up and place the fillets in the  baking dish.  (It is okay if the stuffing looks like it is going to pop out of the fillets.)
Step 9: Top the fillets with the remaining breadcrumb/scallion mixture.  Take the remaining butter, cut it into small pieces, and put a small piece of butter onto each fillet.
Step 10:  Place the stuffed salmon, uncovered, into a 375 degree oven.  Cook the salmon until it will flake with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.  (This is longer than you would normally cook salmon for, because of the stuffing.)  Check the salmon at about 10 minutes, because you never ever want to overcook fish!
Step 11: Garnish each fillet with hollandaise sauce and a sprinkle of dillweed.

Hollandaise sauce is so yummy and I have found a no-fail method to make it.  You have to try this sauce on asparagus, sometime.  It is carnal food bliss.

To make hollandaise sauce, you will need:
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of white pepper
A blender

Step 1:  approximately 5 minutes before the salmon is finished, place the butter in a microwave-safe dish and melt it in the microwave.  
Step 2: put egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and pepper in the blender.  Blend on high.
Step 3:  while the blender is on, carefully pour in the melted butter.  Continue to blend for about a minute.  

That's it!  You have a perfect hollandaise sauce.  Drizzle it over your stuffed salmon and relish the savory tang it adds.  If you need to keep it warm, pour it into a small glass bowl, put some hot water into another, larger, glass bowl, and float the bowl of  hollandaise sauce in the hot water.  That worked for me. 

And one last recipe.....

Melt-in Your Mouth Green Beans
1 package frozen whole green beans 
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

Put the beans and butter into a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add seasonings before beans are fully cooked.  Add toasted almonds or pecans, green onions, or chopped roasted red peppers for additional texture and flavor.  Beans are finished when they are fork-tender.

Enjoy a special meal at your house sometime soon!

I've linked this post to V.O.T.W. at Design-Aholic.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love: The Big Game

I am well aware that the Super Bowl was over more than a week ago.  Yes.

Since our team lost, sadly, perhaps I should blame the lateness of this post upon that.  Our loss.

But I won't.  The truth is that I was without my beloved laptop all week.  It took me long enough to learn how to download my photos onto said laptop, it will take me years to figure out how to get them on the Mac.  There you have it.

Warning:  Due to the fact that I am now able to publish photos again, we may be visiting several past events this week!  
Think of it as vintage, not late.  That always helps.

And the other truth is, we're not a family who follows sports of any kind religiously, especially on TV.  (Admittedly, I can really get into live hockey, but that is another story.)  When our local team goes to the Super Bowl, however, we decide to become personally invested.  Invested in that we have our own little Super Bowl party and attempt to follow the game.  (I should mention that Justone has become very adept at helping all of us follow the game.  I'm not sure where he picked up that kind of genetic material.  This year, he shocked us with some random stats and info about some of the players.)  Any excuse for a good party, around here.

This one was particularly fun.  Wanna see?

The Super Bowl Comes to Holland
Before the big game started, we baked some sugar cookies.
(Hard to tell from this pic, but lots of them were football shapes.)
One of the children got the camera.  They took some interesting pictures of me.

Windspeeds were pretty high that night, as you can tell.

We had our party in our basement rec room.  At any given time during the course of the game,
you could find something like this going on at the bottom of the stairway.
Awww!  It was Hunter the Dog's first Super Bowl, ever.  
Before the game even started, Superkid and Justone were prepared to show their spirit.
They had a parade to kick off the event, and this was one of the floats.  

Justone was really excited to watch the game.  He was particularly excited to see Austin Collie.
We had lots of yummy food at our party, but unfortunately this is the only surviving evidence.
I'm not sure why the Bionic Man looks as if he's been caught red-handed in criminal activity.
Besides chips, we had sliders made of roast beef, swiss cheese, and roasted red peppers, veggies and dips, and homemade sodas.  (Can you tell it was diet day off for me?)
The only reason for this picture is so you can see how Hunter the Dog 
sports eye color of Colt Blue.  Fascinating!
During halftime, we decorated our cookies.  Note the team spirit!
Endeavor's masterpiece.
Justone shows his support for Austin Collie (#17) with a cookie.
While the rest of us were preoccupied with the second half of the game,
Superkid decorated all of the remaining cookies.  Wow!
Strangely enough, Superkid loves decorating cookies, but won't eat cookies.
I decorated a few cookies, myself.  This was my favorite.  

Can I tell you a funny cookie decorating story?  Back in December 2008, Superkid was recovering from open heart surgery at our local children's hospital.  The Child Life department always plans fun activities for the patients and their families, and there are some especially fun events prior to Christmas.  One day when Superkid was feeling up to it, we went downstairs to one of the Christmas parties.  It was sponsored by a big grocery store chain (Kroger) and there were all kinds of things to do: make Christmas ornaments and crafts, play games, decorate Christmas cookies, etc.  I decorated a Christmas cookie.  One of the Kroger employees who was helping out with the party saw my cookie and asked, "Are you a professional cake decorator?"  I'm not, trust me, and I told him so.  "Well, if you ever need a job, please feel free to contact me," he said, handing me a business card.  "We could use you in our bakeries."  I looked at his card later--he was the Kroger regional manager.  Hahahaha!  If this blogging thing doesn't work out.....I'm sure there is a place for me somewhere on the pages of Cakewrecks!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love: Snow Days

Ahhh.  February.  Month of Fun Holidays: Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day, my mom's birthday.  And month of snow days, for those of us who live in the Midwest.

Know what a snow day looks like?

Well, yeah....on the outside.  But have you ever seen what a snow day looks like on the inside?
Let me show you.

At our house, you'll find a lot of this
And this.....
Explanation:  Hunter the Dog pulls things out of the garbage and shreds them if he doesn't get enough exercise.  It's hard to exercise your dog on a snow day.

During last week's snow day, there was a lot of this:
I'm often grateful for snow days.  Especially when they give us extra time to work on the 100+ Valentine's required for families having three children in the school system.

Some more of this:

That would be more things scattered on the floor.  In this case, not necessarily by the dog.

And a lot of this:

That would be blankets.  Everywhere.  Especially on the floor, which this very snuggly dog is always more than willing to snuggle up in.  

I don't have a picture of dog hair, but snow days include a lot of that, too.