Monday, April 20, 2009

The sugar cubes were a hit!


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Whew, it ain't easy sipping tea, eating scones, balancing a sleeping baby on your chest and trying to make sure that your two-and-a-half year old doesn't eat ten sugar cubes in a row ALL while attempting to photodocument the long-awaited event. I'm sure Jane Austen never had to contend with drool dripping into her tea (it wasn't my own, I promise) nor a sweet little lady who ended up crying for her daddy "The Prince" at the end of the afternoon. Though, maybe she did and spun it into Jane Bennet pining over Mr. Bingley (albeit much more quietly than my sad little Rose) while she was in London with the Gardeners. I fancy...


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My girlfriends and I are proof that you can definitely do the high class thing and take four kids under five to a tea room on a Saturday afternoon. We're also evidence that Chuck E. Cheese would've probably been a lot easier. ;o) Still, we plan to visit a different tea room next month, and in the words of Katie (above with the adorable K), we'll be tea-hoppin. Much more elegant than the unsavory origin of this reference, of course. Plus, I'd never trade fresh-baked cranberry scones for nuts and pretzels on a counter.



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Poor E. Surrounded by seven women but quite the gentleman. He did try to engage my shy, demure Rose in conversation about "Kung Fu Panda", but, alas, she was more interested in sitting with folded hands ("This is what Cinderella does"). Good thing K brought little wooden cars along with her. Day saved!



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Don't mind my daughter's plate with dollops of cream, butter and strawberry whip. She wouldn't believe me that they weren't some sort of mousse concotions. The strawberry was GREAT. As for the butter? Sometimes we all need to learn by experience.


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She was super cute with her teacup of lemonade. (Pictures taken from a sleeping Alice's vantage point)


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Caption: The inspiration for the title of this post (she ate three).


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All of our tea cups were different, as were place settings and silverwear. It was lovely! So eclectic and fanciful.


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Y-U-M. And beautiful. Some of the things that I dined on for afternoon tea were cream cheese and pineapple finger sandwiches (my newest favorite), raspberry-strawberry molded fruit fluff, chicken salad cream puff, miniature hot quiche and a cucumber sandwich (my former favorite). Lots more delicious things, as well, including a peanut butter chocolate dessert. There was a vast selection of teas to choose from, as well, which made the picking difficult. I ended up going with a red rose and didn't regret it a bit!


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The gang inside


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The gang outside...we're so the fashionable Ton, are we not?

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Oil Change




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$4 oil pastels from Walmart (for a mother of two who can't make it to the arts and crafts store so easily), $3 black frames from Walmart, and plain old white printer paper (don't make me say it...also from Walmart)

= art


Real. True. Colorful. Art.

I was waiting to put something up behind our sofa in the living room until I was certain that it'd be something that I loved. I've always been enamored with this look from the 2008 House of the Year in Country Living and wanted to do a similar display.



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My brain prefers line art bontanicals but my eye gravitates towards bold splashes of color. I was lacking inspiration last Friday evening when I wanted to get to work and make something for the wall, so I browsed Art.com and was filled with all sorts of capital H happiness when I happened upon this print, which became the inspiration for my wall art.

One of the reasons that I love homemade art is that I have no qualms about taking it down, putting it back up, and moving it here or there and, quite possibly, everywhere in between. You can reuse pieces over and over again. I plan to store these, since they're on 8.5 x 11 in white printer paper (I need canvases, what?) in sheet protectors inside of a binder. I'm thinking watercolor ferns may be my next foray into unleashing my wannabe artist. I also plan on hanging plain white dishes in juxtaposition with this artwork, but I'm not 100% on how I'm doing it yet. Gotta let the inspirabug bite first.

Some of my favorites



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My dad and Alice make a lovely accent on Easter, dontcha think? (I pray that you and your family enjoyed a beautiful and blessed one!) And, yes, those frames are kinda wibbly-wobbly-kijobbly...I hung them myself. It was hard to balance a level, nails and a hammer while standing on that sofa. ("No, Ed! I can do it MYSELF!" wife rant...)



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P.S. Do you wear shoes in your house? Eek...I'm one of those who doesn't. New house, new carpet (anal retentiveness excuses, I know). My poor, obliging father! Someday I'll snap out of it. Though I do love a good pair of slippers!

Guest Post at Nesting Place

...I was so honored! The Nester is right up there to me with my very favorite, much beloved, perused again and again issue of Country Living. Her ideas are ingenius, fresh and beautiful. But she's much prettier than the magazine and not raggedy at the edges. In ract, she has some of the best hair I've ever seen, so she trumps my mag in polish and style at the same time. She's just as loved and inspiring, too.

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If you're wanting to freshen up that long-lost space in your home, try out my black and white art gallery from my guest post at Nesting Place on Wednesday. This decorating project has been one of my favorites ever, and it was in our works for our new home since I was a'cryin' to get out of the last one. Vision long realized - be still my heart!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Remember the infamous Weird Eye?

Oops, I mean famous. Nothing our children do is infamous, right? Oh no way.

Well, it's back. Weird Eye that is. Keep on a'scrollin' and you'll see it! In the meantime, enjoy these other faces from breakfast last week.

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A bit of sweet Alice thrown in for good measure!

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thank you

As of 52 minutes ago, Good Friday ended.

The day of honor may have come to a close, but the process of honoring, of remembering, of praising never does.

I thank our wonderful God, our precious Lord, for all that He has blessed me with. I sit here in this beautiful new home, so exactly what we need and also so much more, and I think how He died so that I could have it. He died so I could be blessed, loved, live. Jesus gave His blood and breath for my happiness. It doesn't seem fair. I should give that for Him. I want to. I want those chances to show Him that I really do love Him. I really, really am thankful. I pray and ask Him to always guide me with that spirit of gratitude in my heart. The spirit of hope, of confidence, of certainty in His power and adoration.

As we prepare for the praising of the Risen Christ on Easter, I thank Him for His love. I thank Him for entrusting me, who is of no esteem, no value, no worth apart from His love, in the teaching and the raising of two of his precious children. I thank Him for my husband Ed who he has coupled me with to bring about His glory in our family. Joy for us and glory for Him.

Oh Jesus, could I but take your hand, look into your eyes and let you know, heart-to-heart, just what you mean to me. There is no language that can express it. I thank you most of all for needing no words to know that you care. And for needing no words to show you that I am grateful.


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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Here a tooth, there a tooth


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Lately, every story that Rose has read to herself has began with, "In the rocky hills of Judea..."

She's currently reading an antique book (which I'm slightly shuddering about but it's very special for her to play with it) and I can hear her saying, "Rose walked into a building. She was a grown-up. She was in heaven. Yes, outside was HEAVEN! We can have a birthday with Jesus on the tea part. Yes, we will. I am a princess for Him and I can feel it happen. I closed my eyes and a beautiful treasure was here. I was talking about my story and Jesus came from the East."

Also, guess who got their first tooth at an itty bitty three months and one week old? Alice!! Rose was four months old when those first two little teethies on the bottom popped through (she bit me and I was certain) and we've been on "Tooth Watch" for the past week with Alice since she was teething something fierce. Up popped the first tooth today - bottom front. I can see it has a little twin working her way up, too. No more gumminess...too soon!

P.S. And, a second ago Rose came over and kissed me on the cheek, saying, "I'll still love you, Mommy, when you're old and sick." Thanks, sweetie! She's a darling...and then I had to backtrack, because I don't think that she said when...I think she said even though!

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Fun"-dant for spring


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Excuse the pun. You all know that I can't resist being corny.

E-A-S-Y is how to spell buttercream fondant. It's perfect for your spring and Easter celebrations and more affordable than buying ready-rolled and coloring it yourself. Plus, if you're a glutton for pretending that you're on the Food Network (the cameras are hiding behind my living room drapes, right?) then this is the recipe for you! I first dabbled in it a couple of years ago (this photo may be recognizable to some) and plan on doing something fun with it this year again perhaps. I'm thinking polka-dots...something fun with cupcakes and dots. Too chic, swoon!

FONDANT INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of light corn syrup and 1 cup of shortening. Mix in 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of vanilla extract (recipe recommends clear, but I really didn't see a difference unless you'd prefer blazin' white). Gradually mix in 2 lbs of confectioner's sugar until a stiff dough forms. Knead by hand while gradually adding the sugar. If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit more sugar. Roll out on a surface lightly dusted with confectioner's sugar. Drape over cake or use to create decorations with cookie cutters, by hand, etc. Store extra in an airtight container in fridge.

** I didn't have a large space to roll a big sheet of fondant at the old house, so I sugared up a big baking sheet and rolled it on that.

Tip: I used a cookie cutter to do the flowers, and I cut the leaves out myself with a paring knife...that hubby actually lost over the holidays by leaving it in a pizza box and then tossing the box. Sigh. I guess I'll have to find room in my heart to love a new one. :o) But we'd been through so much...fondant and all!

BLUEBERRY SPONGE CAKE INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat 4 eggs for four minutes and gradually add in 1 cup of sugar. Beat another 4-5 minutes. (I used a hand-mixer, so this was how I burnt off the calores in the cake, of course) In another bowl, whisk 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 tsp of baking powder, and add to egg mixture 'til just combined. In a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of milk and 2 tbsp of butter until butter just melts. Add to egg mixture and beat 'til combined. Stir in 2 cups of blueberries, fresh or thawed from frozen. Pour into a 9 inch cake pan and bake 20-25 minutes (mine had to go about 5 minutes longer).

** Make sure to grease the sides of your cake pan, and I recommend lining the bottom with my best friend - parchment paper. After cooling, wrap the entire thing (pan and all) in plastic wrap and freeze for a few hours. Remove from freezer, let sit a couple of minutes, and carefully remove from pan, flipping it upside-down onto a plate. This is the BEST way I've ever come across to take a cake out of a baking pan...and this advice is coming from a woman who's wrecked many a cake!

CREAM CHEESE ICING INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup of softened butter and 16 ounces of cream cheese (two 8 oz. packages). Mix in 1 tsp of vanilla extract and gradually stir in 2 cups of sifted confectioner's sugar. Refrigerate leftovers. This recipe makes enough to icing one two-layer cake.

** I whisked two cups of confectioner's sugar instead of sifted. It works just as well, since they both aerate the sugar.



P.S. As far as I know, there's no law against eating half of your cream cheese icing and cake batter before baking. Not in this part of PA at least.