Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The British are coming!

In this case it is a good thing unlike during the American revolution! My husband's whole family is coming next month which put me into high gear to finish a decorating dream…a British family room!
I am not sure why we didn't do this years ago, I think it is because I was trying to follow the "proper" decorating rules…now I have decided to do whatever I want with my house just because I can:)
I love decorating with family pictures and fun DIY embellishments like my crown lamp shade and stamped desk. I do have a couple more projects like printed burlap pillows and a fancy bulletin board with a collage of our trips to England.
It's funny, people keep asking me if Michael loves the room…he's a guy…
He does like the rug, and seems pleased with my efforts to bring a bit of his home country to southeast Texas!

Behold the British stuff…
One cannot have a British room unless you have a British flag of some sort!

I found these fun red leather ottomans on

Originally a brown $35 garage sale find in the 80's
I had previously painted this desk red a few years ago

These cool stamps by Tim Holtz made this a one of a kind designer piece!

The "keep calm" thing is beyond ridiculous with all the variations
however, it began with Winston Churchill in WW 2 and therefore
appropriately British!
These are pictures I took on trips to England, except the city view from
the London Eye, Travis gets credit for that one! 
Found this antique "dry sink" at a local place

A Marshall's find:)

Love these metal crowns I hot glued to the lamp shade,
found them at Michaels

A very talented furniture man Ryan built this child's table for the grandkids.
I have put the checkers set away while Scarlett is in her "destruc-to" stage:)

The not turns over to a bland side indicating the queen (me)
will be accepting an audience…if only they would obey the sign!

So...the British people may still be coming but the British-Texan decorator (ME) has already been here!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The last summer

As life marches on we mark beginnings and ends as benchmarks, things change the status quo.
Monday we said goodbye to our youngest daughter Danielle & hubby Johnny who have lived with us for 2 summers in a row.

We have had our summers filled with college kids at home for over a decade. An era ends this year because Johnny was accepted to the accounting program and Danielle is applying to P.A. school, which means they won't have summers off. This leaves me both extremely proud of their accomplishments and terribly sad for the lonely summers ahead.
A bit dramatic as usual, but true:)

I will miss Johnny teasing me and calling me Kimmie, declaring that we are besties! I will miss Danielle's hugs and "How are you Mommy" greetings along with the little back scratch:) I might even miss Johnny & Travis's redneck adventures and challenges to my rules of etiquette. I will miss the movie night marathons, ideas for fun activities, and talks about practically anything with people who no longer roll their eyes at me.

I won't miss my decimated grocery budget or Johnny whining that the milk is gone. I won't miss the "trail" of Danielle though the house or Johnny's stinky work tennis shoes on my back door steps. I won't miss my clean laundry taken out the dryer before it is dry, or the constant pile of stuff on the staircase. These things are truly petty though... I am just trying not to miss them too much:)

There is something about having these youngsters just beginning their adult adventures that brings such joy. Their life possibilities excite me and induce sweet reminiscing about Michael and I at their age. I seem to slow down my work schedule a bit to "hang out" with these "past the teen years" and much sweeter children! Some I have loved since birth and the others since they married mine:)

Michael and I talk often of how much we love this stage of parenthood. Yes, there were some really good times when we were in the trenches which created treasured memories of raising children. However the real perks come when you can be friends, share common interests AND reap the reward for not dispensing with your teenagers. They grow up and produce adorable little people that make the world new again!

Danielle & Johnny with Brittany & Travis.
 Game night is always fun and sometimes quite lively!
Danielle with Scarlett at a favorite cabin on the lake

Johnny volunteering in the church nursery...
I think he did it just to play with Scarlett:)
Danielle worked in our clinic this summer.
She needed clinical hours to apply to P.A. school
Johnny was my personal outside worker this summer...hahaha
He told Danielle to slap him if he ever complained about school again:)

I made this art work for my Texas loving girl,
who gets homesick mid-winter.

The last wave always tugs at my heart...

I am now re-adjusting to an empty house trying to make friends with strange idea that my children are really and truly all grown up now.
Time really does fly.
I really mustn't be sad too long when they leave. The end of something is always the beginning of another. 
Next summer I can go visit them, attend a college education week that I have longed to be a part of, and escape a bit of these hot Texas summers!
See...I have already figured out how not to be lonely after all:)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cinnamon Baked French Toast

Waking up to the smell of this baked french toast is an extraordinary treat to the senses. The cinnamon streusel topping is the "cherry on top!"  This is a recipe found on PInterest, tested on the family, and voted into the family recipe hall of fame which became another favorite at Nellie's Cottage for our retreats! We serve this topped with homemade whipped cream and fresh berries with a side of bacon. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Orange Sour Cream Muffins

Our retreaters at Nellie's Cottage love these muffins! I am personally addicted:) They are deliciously moist with a fresh orange flavor, and best of all, topped with a heavenly citrus glaze. We usually serve these muffins with loaded hashbrowns, sausage, & fresh fruit. Brittany found this recipe on Pinterest & tested it on the family...we said it was a keeper! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Junkin' in Boerne

I recently had my first visit to Boerne, Texas and fell immediately in love with this quaint town in the hill country. It is full of charming buildings filled with treasures of days gone by. It had been ages since I had time to shop, having been in renovation mode for ages. This was the perfect place for me to have a good wander especially since I just discovered Junk Gypsy's. Apparently I am late to the party as usual, how did I miss them? Never mind...I am at the party now and am infatuated with the projects created from their junkin' travels.

My trip to Boerne began by checking in to Ye Kendall Inn, a historic hotel with natural landscaped paths that meander around the property.

Boerne is full of buildings with great character!

My favorite "non-antiques shopping was Brantley's 259 Market. It was full of tin containers, hand stamped tea towels, vintage clothing, and milk bottle candles.

Every where I turned in Boerne was eye candy junk and fabulous inspiration for future Nellie's Cottage projects, like this headboard bench. I must admit these patchwork boots take my breath away...can't decide if I admire the designer for such a bold statement or wish I could censure such creations!

I was drawn to this brass and copper violin since both my girls play. It has since found a home on my mantle. These distressed candle sticks added to the blue ambiance I keep adding in my home.


The real reason I came to Boerne was to visit my friend Brenda. She was visiting her family from the great potato state, Idaho. Brenda & I have been friends for more than 28 years! It doesn't matter how long between chats or visits...we just pick up where we left off. Brenda took me on my first visit to famous Fredericksburg, Texas. We sauntered in and out of the shops on main drag and had a scrumptious lunch at the Peach Tree restaurant. 
I would drive the 5 hours here again just to have the lemon pie!

This rug is made from blue jean tags! I noticed that shopping here is totally Texan braggy with a star, sequin boots or a gun around every corner. 

And of course there is always the classic Texas challenge in some creative art form:)

I have decided shopping for junk is much more rewarding than filling my Walmart cart with cheap items from China. My 50th birthday bucket list just got a little closer to complete with this pleasant trip to Fredericksburg and junkin' in Boerne!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Aunt Mody Brownies

This recipe is so beloved that an entire settlement of people believe that there is no other brownie recipe! It is a pure recipe with only old fashioned ingredients.
Aunt Mody was "aunt" to everyone. She was a kind and gentle soul who was the favorite family reunion baker. Brownies are not the real thing unless they are her recipe!

Aunt Mody Brownies
2 sticks of butter melted
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs (if you want more cake like brownies, whip the eggs instead of just stirring them in)
scant 1/2 cup cocoa (scant-just slightly less than)
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp vanilla (I always triple the vanilla!)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Bake in a greased 9x13 pan @ 350 for approx. 20 min.
Do not over cook!

Serve ever so slightly warm with Bluebell ice cream!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nellie's magical biscuit bowl

You could say we are a biscuit family. I don't mean the kind that come in a roll from the store, rather the kind where you make a great floury mess all over your kitchen:) The siblings and I each think that we are the premier biscuit maker in the family and beyond. One of these days we are going to have a biscuit bake off and settle this once and for all! I must admit my daughter Brittany is going to be tough to beat with her "melt in the mouth" biscuits she makes for our Nellie's Cottage retreats.

There is an art to making biscuits. They are best made with a love of all things southern and of feeding the people you love. My grandmother Nellie cooked three meals a day her whole life... I cannot even imagine having quite that much love for my family...hahaha:)

One of the treasured items I have from her is a biscuit bowl.

I have thought about the "things" we treasure knowing that they are just things. Truly it is the connection we have to the people that possessed the "things" that really matters. This bowl is heavy and bulky. I have been terrified to use it for fear I may drop it on my tile. One day I saw it there collecting dust in my cabinet. It looked forlorn and stripped of purpose. I could almost see Nellie in her kitchen, apron covered with flour, turning the biscuit dough with her time worn hands. With this image I pulled the bowl out and proceeded to make my pie dough in that very bowl.

A smile crossed my face as I imagined her delight at my perfectly formed dough ball in her bowl.
We connected across the space of time and just for a second I could feel what it was like to be with her.

So "things" you say? This bowl is not replaceable, they don't make them like this anymore. Even if I could find one... it wouldn't be Nellie's.

 The bowl is now back in service with every biscuit, roll, and pie dough I feels like going grandma's house every time:)

Cowboy biscuits

Who knew a bowl could make a difference? It is as if Nellie's magical baking abilities embedded in the bowl sprinkle just the right amount of baking fairy dust to create taste bud heaven in our home:)
And that my friends cannot be replaced, only handed down from Nellie to me, to my daughter, and then a granddaughter and generations to come. With the bowl comes the love Nellie had for her family...and that IS the magical source of the biscuit bowl:)