Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Touches of Spring in the House

First, I just wanted to say 'welcome!' to all the new readers and followers from the last several weeks.  So glad you 'came out to the country.' And thank you to everyone who keeps on returning to read this little blog. I do a mental happy dance whenever I receive an email from someone who's been kind enough to say hello and leave a comment, or see a new follower appear on the sidebar. Y'all are what make blogging so much fun for me!

Second, I was completely thrilled (and flattered) that my cane-back sofa re-do received *two* features in the last several days from two of my very favorite bloggers.

Cassie at Primitive and Proper chose it as one of her favorite projects from last week's Piece of Work Wednesday Party. And Lauren of West Furniture Revival featured it at her Revival Monday Features column. Thank you, Cassie and Lauren!

Readers, if you enjoy being completely inspired by furniture revamps, you must go visit these insanely talented ladies' blogs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

With spring burgeoning outside, I was in the mood to bring some of its splendor inside my house last week. I'd put away the last of the winter decorations a few weeks before and the house was in need of some sprucing up. 

Besides daffodils, there really aren't any flowers in bloom around here, and it's not yet time to plant a cutting garden, much less have any fresh-cut flowers.The only other option for live flowers is the local markets, and at $10+ for a small bouquet (that will die in less than a week), that's just not in the budget.

Then I remembered Jane's fake flower fiesta on the British blog Posy that I'd read about over the winter.

Up until reading that post, I'd been a total snob about fake flowers. I drew the line at fauxliage since that seemed acceptable for fall decorating, but fake flowers?  No way! 

Seeing Jane's flowers completely changed my mind.


You can't tell it's not the real thing, can you?

Being, ahem, budget-minded, I figured there'd be no harm in checking out the local Dollar Trees for some frugal flowers.

Well, it turned out I was able to find quite a few pretty, not-particularly-fake-looking flowers!

Now, don't get me wrong, there were plenty of ugly and cheap-looking flowers, but I tried to pick blooms that were realistically colored and didn't scream "I'M FAKE" at first glance.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I don't think I did too bad. <grin>

And if you visited my house last week, the first thing I did was give you an overly bubbly tour of all the fake pretty flowers!  Thank goodness my family and friends are willing to humor me.  Will you do the same?

Let's take a look-see of what I put together...

Dogwood-esque blooms in an enameled pitcher in the living room. One of several birdies I made in January sits atop a 100-year-old farm and garden catalog. The silver tin contains a homemade candle.

Excuse the terrible photo and the ginormous blue ladder in the background! Springtime equals project-time at this house. :) Faux forsythia branches are intermingled with dried curly willow leftover from the fall in a bright turquoise vase. Anybody spy the chickens?

White lilac stems and periwinkle-ish flowers fill this favorite ironstone pitcher of mine on a side table between the living room and the kitchen. I picked up the vintage strawberry textile last fall at an antique fair and couldn't wait to bring it out for spring! I can't sufficiently convey my love for freshly picked strawberries.

Another vintage linen tops the dining room table and enhances the centerpiece. If you've been reading for a few months, this centerpiece probably looks familiar, save for the fact the cedar and pinecones have been replaced by dogwood blooms.  Hey, it's simple and it works.

Daffodils in a milk glass vase further brighten a sunny spot next to the front door. A couple of vintage books on chickens from my mom look at home atop the primitive-style table. The silver dish, a recent find, is filled with old mother-of-pearl buttons.

Speaking of the front door, let's pop outside to see the wreath. I'm making the most use of this grapevine wreath. After embellishing it with holly leaves and berries for the winter, faux forsythia inserted into the vines make it sunshiny perfect for spring.

Okay, back inside now! Moving from the living room to the hallway adjacent to my bedroom...I painted this table last year before blogging and it's been a favorite spot to decorate each season. More dogwood flowers fill a small pitcher from IKEA and a picture from one of my favorite stores--Nest--creates a simple vignette.

The pictures reads: "It's the small things after all."  I fully embrace that sentiment.

In my bedroom are sweet pink and white carnations in (yet another) milk glass vase.  I have plans for a springy/summery bedroom re-do so hopefully I can find the time to actually do it...

A few vintage postcards on my bedroom window sash...just had to throw this photo into the mix since vintage postcards always bring a smile to my face.

Are you getting tired yet? I know, I'm dragging you all over the house!  Bear with me...just a couple rooms left, I promise!

From the bedroom, let's pop our heads in the master bath. This room is difficult to photograph but there's a peek of my beloved periwinkle walls.  See, I've been reading Country Living magazine forever, and in 1998, my senior year of high school, the magazine's House of the Year had a periwinkle bathroom. I remember looking at my copy of the magazine in physics class (I was surreptitiously reading while *not* listening to the lecture) and my heart went THUNK when I saw it. Since then, I've always wanted  a periwinkle bathroom, and I got it 12 years later. :)  But, back to the flowers!  Lavender stems and white lilacs mix together nicely in a hobnail milk-glass vase to complement the periwinkle walls.

Well, since I've already taken you into one bathroom, why not another? Periwinkle blue lilacs freshen the half bath nicely.

And to round out this test of endurance tour, here's a shot of my son's favorite flowers.  He was so helpful while I flitted about the house finding containers and arranging flowers that I couldn't deny him flowers for his room.

Pink peonies in a blue Ball jar. Enough said.

So, are you a fan of fake flowers or will you only keep real ones in your home?

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sure Signs That Spring Is Here

Besides the bottles of allergy medicine and ibuprofen sitting on my bathroom counter?  Accompanied by mountains of tissues in the wastebasket? <grin>

Yes, despite the onslaught of pollen-related allergies that have plagued me this past week, I'm happy to say spring has sprung in central North Carolina! 

Daffodils--the ones I planted in January and felt certain wouldn't actually bloom this year--have opened their smiling faces in my yard!

Not to be outdone by the daffodils, the hyacinths are making their presence known, too!  They're not very tall and you should have seen me and my son on our hands and knees sniffing them today.  We were a sight.  But to smell that fragrance was worth it!

The tulips haven't bloomed yet, but judging by the greenery, they look promising...

However, the strawberries do have blooms and should be bearing ripe fruit in about 6 glorious weeks.

And the blueberry bushes have these little guys on their branches.

Finally, this gorgeous perwinkle-colored vinca comes from a plant originally cultivated by my husband's grandmother. She passed away nearly 25 years ago, but her love of gardening remains alive in our yard with this ever-growing plant.

Inside, I've been adding spring touches where I can.  Come back by on Wednesday for a peek of what I've been up to!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sweet Temptations

My husband is the cook in this family, while I am the baker.  I do cook sometimes, but he truly enjoys cooking and experimenting with dishes in the kitchen, so who am I to stand in his way? :)   I, on the other hand, love baking breads, and whipping up cakes, cookies, pies, etc. We make for a balanced kitchen partnership and that ensures we always have great meals, followed by tasty desserts.

Lately, I've found myself baking two particular treats over and over again, so I wanted to share them with you.

First up is a Fudgy Brownie recipe from Gluten-Free Fix. Michelle has a whole slew of gluten-free recipes on her site, but I'll admit that I'm so hung up on this brownie recipe--I've fixed it twice a week for the past several weeks--that I haven't tried any of the others. Based on how delicious these brownies are, I should try some of her recipes soon!

I don't have gluten-intolerance issues, but I do like finding alternatives to using wheat flour in my baking. Whether or not you can eat gluten, these brownies will be a favorite. They are decadent, made with wholesome, simple ingredients, and are so quick and easy to assemble.


Here's how I make them:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8x8 baking dish.
  • Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a small-to-medium sized bowl in the microwave.
  • Whisk 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder into melted butter. I prefer dark cocoa powder, but they taste great with regular cocoa powder, too.
  • Add 1/2 c. of honey, sucanat or brown sugar and stir into chocolate mixture to bring down the temp of the liquids.
  • Whisk in one egg.
  • Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla, a dash of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
  • Whisk in 2 tablespoons of packed coconut flour.
  • Fold in a 1/2 c. chocolate chips and 3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Pour into prepared dish and bake 20-21 minutes--don't overbake!
  • Let cool completely before cutting. These are best if stored in the refrigerator and served cold.  A caveat to this is that they're delicious hot out of the oven with ice cream. :)

The other treat I've enjoyed baking and eating is a tweaked version of Oh She Glow's Rustic Chocolate Chip Banana Oat Cake. Angela's an innovative baker and a vegan, so the original recipe is vegan friendly. However, I have no problem eating animal products, so I made a few changes.  This cake is dense and moist, with just the right amount of sweetness that I don't feel guilty if I decide to eat some for breakfast. Angela's version has a peanut butter glaze that I haven't tried since I enjoy the cake so much on its own.


This is another recipe that comes together quickly, features only real food ingredients, and can be made gluten free if GF oats are used. Here's my version:

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatcake

  • 2 cups of rolled oats processed into flour (you can use a blender or food processor to do this)
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. honey, sucanat or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. melted coconut oil or butter
  • 2 black/very overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1 ripe banana, cut into chunks

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8" round cake pan or baking dish.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • In a small bow, mix fat, milk, vanilla and mashed bananas together, then stir into dry ingredients.
  • Fold in chocolate chips, nuts and chopped banana.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool about 30 minutes before attempting to slice, otherwise it will be too crumbly. 
When strawberries are in season in May, I already have grand plans to make a strawberry-banana version of this cake.  Can't wait!

So, there you have it. Two delicious treats that I can recommend whole-heartedly. Let me know if you try them and tell me what you think!


Linking to:
Whatever Wednesday at Momma Hen's Coop
Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Saturday Nite Special at Funky Junk Interiors

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cane-Back Sofa Before and After

Hot off the truck, ladies and gents...

Another revamped piece of furniture!

This cane-back sofa was an auction find last January that took me about nine months to finally get around to painting. Here she is, last fall, minus her groovy harvest gold velvety cushions. 

She was really in fantastic shape as the caning was pristine. Plus, look at those turned legs and arm details!

I painted her in October and promptly delivered her to the upholsterer. Since I try to conserve gas and keep myself motivated to stay on top of projects, I decided that I wouldn't pick up this piece until this living room set was painted and ready for new fabric.

Despite my best intentions, the sofa spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day, waiting for my return.  Fortunately, the upholsterer I work with is a kind, understanding and--most importantly--patient man.

But now she's back and looking oh-so-lovely.  I feel confident that Cindy at Cottage Instincts would approve of the color scheme.

Paint color: Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue 
(lightly antiqued with a Minwax stain/poly combo) 
Fabric: 100% linen, accented with cording and double welting

So fresh and apropos for spring!

Karan of Spruce Antiques and Interiors in Hillsborough, NC, picked her up today and will be offering this piece starting this weekend. Unfortunately, Spruce doesn't have a blog at the moment for more details, but if you're local and want to check out the store, it's located at 383 Ja-Max Drive in Daniel Boone Village off I-85.  The hours are 11-5 Wednesday through Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Linking to:
Piece of Work Wednesdays at Primitive and Proper
Power of Paint Party at Domestically Speaking
Restored It Wednesday at Restore Interiors 
Whatever Wednesday at Momma Hen's Coop
Transformation Thursdays at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Saturday Nite Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Paint, Please Party at Modern Country Style  

The DIY Club's 31 Days of Painting