Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn Decorating

I love autumn - it's hands down my favorite season of the year.  It's probably why I'd never be able to move to Florida or Southern California.  The leaves have started changing and we probably have a week to go til peak color.  Don't worry I'll post pics next week.  The air smells crisp and clean with a hint of cinnamon and apple cider.  I can't wait til this weekend when I bring my boys to the Cider Mill to watch the doughnuts being made and cider being pressed.  There's something magical about watching the pressing of the pulp, then walking around to the front to watch them fill up the gallon jugs from the spigots.  It's a must-have activity for any open hour during the autumn.

The change in weather makes me want to change out my summer decor for deeper more earthy colors.  Bring on the pinecones and pumpkin scents.  I'd like to say that my autumn decor is all of the tasteful, harvest variety like the tablescape on my living room coffee table.
But the reality is that I have way more in the way of Halloween kitsch and fright night fare like my silly fun Frankenstein lamp.
So my Autumn mantle is a mixed bag of both tasteful harvest and kitschy Halloween decor.

I love all the colors that Indian Corn comes in.  The flowers are from our front garden.  Our white mums have absolutely exploded.  There's about 3 times as many white ones as orange or purple even though we planted the same number of each color.  The blanket flowers looked like they wanted to get in the vase also, so I cut a few of them on my way into the house.  The hand candle holder is a favorite of mine.  It's meant to hold a votive or tealight, but I like the way it looks as a stand for the spider votive holder.  I felt like I needed a tad more height on the right side, so I grabbed a great leather bound book to use as a riser.  I'm adding my mantel to the Nester's Fall Mantel Party.  Pop on over there to see what other's are doing to prettify their mantels this season.
I've started to pull out the gazillion and one orange and black tubs stuffed to the gills with Halloween decor, games, and costumes.
I need to sift through the tubs and separate out the happy pumpkins, fuzzy non-threatening spiders, and rubber rats from the scary moaning, groaning floating skeleton ghouls.  When Whirling Dervish was just a wee one, we'd throw him a happy pumpkin type Halloween party.  Each year we added slightly scarier decor with the later years being a full on Haunted House.  This year will be Snuggle Bunny's first Halloween party.  We'll need to start back at a happy harvest type party for SB's Kindergarten buddies.  I don't want his classmate's parents to think we're scary people.

More pictures of Halloween decorating coming up soon, when it's all been sorted.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sugar, Spice, Balls & Sticks all in one Weekend

This was another busy weekend away from home.  Thank goodness the BLA Fall Brawl was the last lacrosse tournament of the year, cuz I'm whooped and ready to spend a weekend sleeping in my own bed.

Every trip away from home starts with a baking marathon.  Whirling Dervish has been on a high protein, gluten-free diet for the past year and a half to help control his ADHD.  I like to make sure that he has options at tailgates and other people's homes so that means firing up the oven.  I don't label the goodies gluten-free so that WD doesn't have to feel self conscious(he is a teenager after all.)  Being able to casually grab items off of the tailgate table that others have been eating helps him to feel "normal."

For this last tournament I made Chocolate Peanut Butter Drop Cookies and White Chocolate Almond Muffins
The muffins were especially well received with the kind of noises you normally only here in the bedroom, so I'll share that recipe.

I melted a cup and a half of white chocolate chips with 6 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.  After letting the mixture cool a bit I whisked in 6 egg yolks one at a time.  The mixture will look kind of gross as the fat(butter) separates out a bit.  Just keep whisking vigorously.  After the addition of the 3rd or 4th egg yolk it will start to come together and appear custard-like.  Whisk in 3/4 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup tapioca starch, 1/4 cup amaranth flour, and some xantham gum.  Add in some almond extract.  In a separate mixing bowl whip 6 egg whites adding 1/2 cup sugar till it's glossy and holds stiff peaks.  Sacrifice 1/4 of the egg white mixture to lighten up the yolk mixture.  Fold in the rest of the egg whites.  Fold in some more white chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into muffin tin with paper liners.  Sprinkle sliced almond bits on top.  Bake at 275 for 45ish minutes or until they look done.

We traveled to Rochester Friday and spent the evening with Computer Genius's family.  My boys got to spend some quality time with my brother on Saturday playing video games, and wrestling around.

While in Rochester on Saturday, we popped into our favorite architectural salvage shop the ReHouse.  We found these fantastic shutters, that CG will build a cabinet for.
For only $10, those babies had to come home with me.

Sunday we ran up to Buffalo for the all day lacrosse tournament.  The boys played well in weather that was close to perfect.  Here's a couple of pics of my Whirling Dervish in action.

And here he is versus a defender that looks like he might be carrying around 30 extra lbs of muscle.  Notice how much wider he's running on him?  I didn't raise a dummy.
And here's my Snuggle Bunny in the cheering section.
Always there for support.  Actions behind you little buddy.  Hmmm.  Cheer for your brother at yet another game?  Or play with the pretty girls?  Again, I didn't raise a dummy.

I hope you found time to play in the sun this weekend, too.

Linking to Remodelaholic's Recipe Swap

Friday, September 24, 2010

Outdoor Makeover

I promised more pics of the changes I've been making outdoors, so here's a few more.

We tore out the enormous hedgerow that blocked off all views of the pool area.  We moved some of our hostas up to where the removed shrubs had been.  Obviously there's a lot more work to be done in the garden.  I'm thinking of planting some heucheras and asters.  We cleaned and stained the deck before placing the rug and putting up the gorgeous canopy my parents gave us.  How great does that look, already?  Imagine the yard next year when my new perennials will be blooming.

Our child sized patio set was looking ready to be tossed, but not wanting to buy a new one, I refurbished it instead.  This was a set that had been purchased when Whirling Dervish, now 14, was just a wee one.  It was filthy, a little mildewy,  and one of the seats was torn.  The seat fabric was sewn on to the chair frames and the only way to get them off was to cut them off.  Here's one of the yucky seat covers.
Imagine a big frayed tear in the seat for the other one.

I ran over to JoAnn Fabrics on Labor Day hoping to luck into some outdoor fabric in their red tag section.  And boy did I ever luck out.  Not only did I find some fantastic paisley outdoor fabric, but the colors matched the free from my mother-in-law cushions sitting on my patio chairs.  There was only 2 3/8 yds of fabric on the bolt, but that was plenty for a couple of child sized chairs and an umbrella.  I asked the girl at the cutting counter if there was 1 1/2 yds left on the bolt(of course there was, I checked,) and she offered the rest at remnant pricing.  Sneaky, sneaky, I know, but I can't be the only one who automatically subtracts 7/8 yd from short stock to get the rem pricing on the remainder.

Here's a finished chair.
I love this tangerine and turquoise paisley!

And here's the whole patio set finished.
Notice the striped bias tape?  Look at all familiar?  That's right I deconstructed one of the free cushions.  Mother-in-law gave me 6 cushions and I only have 4 that could use them so I made bias tape to trim out the umbrella and chairs.  Now everything ties in and is washable since I made sure to make these covers with snap closures.

Final accounting on this project:
Patio set ready to go to the curb                                   -  Free
Tangerine & Turquoise Paisley Outdoor Fabric            -  $6.38
Coordinating Bias Tape                                               -  Free
Thread & Snaps(leftover from other projects)             -  Free
Elbow grease & paint to clean up the table & frames  -  Free

Total                                                            -  $6.38

Don't you just love an under $10 makeover?  Snuggle Bunny says the chairs are super-comfy.  Yay!
I've never linked to a party before, but here's trying.  I'm linking to My Romantic Home's Friday Show & Tell  Check out all of the fun things other bloggers want to show off.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Poignancy and Sweetness

This was a difficult weekend.  Computer Genius's great aunt passed away last week and we all travelled to Philadelphia to pay our respects to the grand dame.  She was a real pip.  The kind of woman who would challenge all preconceived notions of what an elderly widow was.  She could cuss like a sailor, but would set you straight if your table manners weren't up to snuff.  She drank and smoked right til the end, but did it dressed to the nines without a hair out of place.  She wasn't afraid to voice her opinions, and rest assured they were well researched opinions because she read everything.

This pic was from CG's and my wedding day.  She saved our first dance.  I wanted to wear my traditional white wedding dress for our first dance before changing into my red asian wedding dress for the remainder of the reception.  My bridesmaids, sisters, etc. all tried to bustle my dress, but couldn't.  We were in a near panic, when I said that the grand dame could do it.  She had gone with me to a fitting and amongst all of the embroidery and beading had seen the tiny little loops needed for bustling and demanded asked that the flaws in my dress be fixed immediately.  The fitter explained that those were the thread loops were for bustling, all the while I(with my much younger eyes) tried to find those tiny loops amidst the embroidery and beading.  Back at the reception, she was found and had me bustled in moments in time to take the dance floor for our first dance.

We brought the kids with us for this difficult weekend, thinking it might be hard for them, but we'd help them through.  But kids learn how to behave in the world through their parents and it seems we've done an acceptable job of it.

Remember how Snuggle Bunny used to finger his belly button to comfort himself?
I was sobbing during my father-in-law's eulogy during the church service.  SB had never seen me cry and was growing concerned.  He sat next to me and patted my leg, then gave me a big hug, then still trying to comfort me - rubbed my belly and started digging around for my belly button.  Naturally the sweetness of it all made me smile and cry harder.

Hold your family tight and give them all hugs tonight.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sprucing up & Organizing

So with the advent of being child-free for 6 1/2 hours every single weekday, it was time to take a look around and stop ignoring my house.  I started with some cleaning and sprucing up of the outdoors.  The shed was all gross, mildewy, and spidery(is that a word?)

I wish I could say that I chose to spare you all(look at me, pretending I have readers) the horror of the before, but truth is I didn't take a before pic.  I promise to do better with the picture taking process in the future.  But trust me, it was horrific.

I brushed off the cobwebs, scrubbed the yuck off, and gave it a fresh coat of house paint.  It's a modest little shed, but sooooo much  better.

Obviously, some yard cleanup still needs to occur.
I'll have more pics of the outside stuff coming up soon.

I also have spent a good deal of time organizing the closets in the house.  The one I'm in love with is Snuggle Bunny's closet.  I decided that as a school-aged child, he is now old enough to be putting away his own laundry.  This meant the double hanging rod system had to go in favor of storage he could reach.  Here's the result.

And here's a couple of closeups of the sorting tags.

I think my favorite tag is the pajamas one.

Using inspiration from John & Sherry over on Young House Love I took the doors off of his closet for easier access.  I'm debating whether or not to do a fabric curtain like they did in their nursery.

I'm glad to report that the system is working and Snuggle Bunny has successfully been putting away his clothing.  Whirling Dervish's closet system has also been a success(huge considering he is not my neat & tidy child,) but the closet is less exciting since 14 year olds don't need or want colorful picture tags.