Wednesday, June 24, 2015

20 Things to Look for at Michigan Farmers Markets this Summer

As I did not have a chance to get together a new Farmers Market Friday post for you last week, I wanted to share with you this great rundown of Michigan farmers markets.  Our own local farmers market has added a new night on Thursdays in conjunction with their summer concerts - I'm hoping to be able to stop by and see my regular "egg lady" and give you a tour!

20 Things to Look for at Michigan Farmers Markets this Summer

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dining Room Update

This dining room has come a long way in two years.  All the way from this...

You can see the beginning of the transformation here.  It’s one of those rooms that I only had a partial vision for and I didn’t really have much to put in there beyond all the dishes I had stored away.  My old dining room in the other house was too small and really non-functional so we mostly used it for projects. 

I knew this was one of the rooms I wanted to be a little more bold on the colors than other areas of the house and since my husband and I both like blue, we settled on this "Royal Gray".  

Once the light got a makeover, my mom donated the table and chairs, as well as the hutch and the giant picture (which I absolutely love) which were gifted by one of her friends. 

I asked my husband for plate racks for Christmas this year.  They have been on my wish list for years but I never really had a place to put them anyways.  

Some of the plates are ones I’ve collected over the years at thrift stores and auctions.  Others were passed down to me through my family.

The hutch now holds a collection of “the good china” dishes from my great-grandmother (my mom’s dad’s mom) and other treasures from several generations on all sides of my family.  Someday I would love to catalog these dishes and their stories.

I am still undecided on what to do above the hutch and on the east walls that lead to the library room (which is another project awaiting some furniture and inspiration…).  I’m torn between finishing the top part of the hutch in some fashion and putting it back on top or hanging a few treasures like the antique printing press drawer above it for bric-a-brack.  I’m on the search for a taller narrow table to use for serving and I have a mirror and some shelves to hang above it on the one side of the doorway.  Its a good excuse to go hit some auctions anyways...

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hutch Makeover

It’s only taken me about a year and a half to complete the hutch remake that I started when we first moved in – that’s not too bad, right? 

At some point in the home renovation process we lost some momentum – and some inspiration – and finishing some of the design touches were put aside as we just lived other parts of life a little more fully.  I’ve been inspired recently to start tackling some of these odds and ends – largely because I’m tired of looking at boxes and picture propped in the corners of those remaining rooms…  

And I also got tired of the guilt staring me in the face every time I walked into the garage and saw this hutch half scraped down.  When I started this project I had just envisioned sanding it down a bit and painting it again as I had helped my mom do so many other times.   

But this hutch has a story.  A lot of them actually.  And as I started to scrape off some of the more rough bumps of her top layers of latex paint, large flakes of it began to come off.  Exposing layers of colors, different types of paint, and even letters.  The bottom-most layers appear to be chalk paint or milk paint and had disintegrated into chalky hues of pale yellow and mint.  The chalky texture allowed the top layers of paint to release fairly easily and the more I dug in, the more I was determined to expose more of her story.

This hutch has always been special to my mom and I.  One of those special bonding moments where we scored her for just $12 at an auction, dragged her home and painted her.  And painted her over and over again as I grew and she aged and color schemes came and went.

She's been mint, soft yellow, pink, baby blue, mint again, silver, white, off-white, and who knows what else.  And you can see that the only spots that the latex paint did not want to come off are those where someone used stripper to try to get back to the wood.

So with the weather now warm enough to paint, I spent the better part of a day finishing this project.  I ordered some Ms. Mustard Seed milk paint in Mustard Seed yellow from Bungalow 47.  This was my first attempt with milk paint and I was not disappointed.  The milk paint gave me a great ability to play with the thickness of the coverage and show the marks of character on this beauty.

Three coats later and I was fairly satisfied with the look.  For those of you ladies who can sympathize – both my husband and son looked at it when I was done and asked if I was going to paint it…

This picture shows the more orange-ish goldenrod hue this really is – the other pictures are the hue I’m actually going for though and I'm undecided about how I feel about the flat finish of the milk paint.  So I’m debating a white-wash and wax to both tone it down and add to the aged look of it. 

But I put it in the dining room anyways and filled it full of the treasures I’ve inherited and collected over the years. 

Clearly some mischievous children have gotten their hands on it in the past - which I think just adds to her personality.

This top doesn't actually belong with the bottom but has set on top of it for several decades.  But I rather like the bottom on its own and now am trying to decide how to use this beautiful top as a display.  I certainly  have enough glassware to fill it up but am actually considering it as part of a bookcase in the library.  What do you think?

Stop back to see the improved dining room tomorrow…

Friday, June 5, 2015

Farmers Market Fridays - Nelson's Farm Market

It’s Friday and it’s June so welcome back to Farmers Market Fridays!  

I had the excuse a few weeks ago to make a day trip that took me past a Farm Market store that I have often admired 
but never had the chance to stop at.  

I had some extra time so I stopped for a quick tour and even though it was really early in the season, I still found some charming goodies at Nelson’s Farm Market in Newaygo, Michigan.

The store offered a wide range of goods from gardening to produce to fresh donuts and coffee.

Check out the handy planting chart…

And you know I love this display with the saddle…

Out at the barn, an array of farm animals greet visitors.  

Chickens, pigs, ducks, cows, mules, horses…

And let us not forget the goats…
this old guy seemed to think he owned this elaborate ramp system.

I hope to make it back when more of these bins are piled high with seasonal produce.
As it was I ended up leaving with jerky, dried pineapple, yellow potatoes, yellow onions, and a new fairy for the garden.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

eBook Winners!

Good morning, dear readers! I just love these little signs - and the fairy too - that I found visiting a farm market yesterday.  Words are a powerful thing and it is a great gift to our children to share powerful stories that teach empathy with our children.  

My children have a great love of stories - both written and told - and they thoroughly enjoyed the messages in "Candy and the Cankersaur".  

Four lucky winners from my Rafflecopter giveaway will now be able to share this wonderful eBook by Jason Sandberg with the children in their lives.  

Congrats to the winners and thank you for entering!  And a big shout out to Jason for the opportunity to enjoy and review the story and offer you all this giveaway!

And if you're wondering why there are only 4 winners when I said there would be 10...that's all the entrants to the giveaway so next time please be sure to enter!  :)

I wish you all a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Last Day for Giveaway Entry and a #TBT Cupcake Recipe

Today is the last day to enter this giveaway for a free copy of the fun children's eBook "Candy and the Cankersaur"!  This is a low entry giveaway and I have 10 copies to give away.  

Entering is easy - just sign in to Rafflecopter with your email address or Facebook account.  Then you have up to 5 options for entering - pick one or enter multiple times.  Options include visiting author Jason Sandberg's Facebook page, visit the author's Goodreads page, tweeting, following me on Twitter, or leaving a comment on this post.  The winners will be announced tomorrow - good luck!!

My kids have now read this book multiple times and my son still giggles every time he reads it.  The colorful illustrations look great on our Kindle and, unlike many of the books we've downloaded, it is clear time was taken to proof-read and make sure the layout was as nice as a printed book.  You can see my previous review here.

And in honor of Candy and her Cankersaur's preference for cupcakes, as well as Throwback Thursday, here's my recipe for Triple Cherry Cupcakes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Children's eBook Review & Rafflecopter Giveaway!

I've got 10 free copies of the adorable children's ebook "Candy and the Cankersaur" to give away!  This cute tale of a bored little girl, her busy dad, her jealous neighbor and her pet dinosaur was a big hit with my 6 year old son.  He loves using the Kindle and reading things with his big sister so he was super excited to check out a new story.  While some of the words were a little complicated for a kindergartner on the first pass through, he thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining story and bright illustrations.  

The story begins with a sweet little girl who desires the attention of her busy father.  Her father feels bad and buys her a dinosaur as a special gift.  Children will love this mischievous green dino who has a knack for chomping on things he shouldn't like a naughty puppy.  This earns him a firm scolding from Candy about "No Biting!" which elicited giggles from my little monster every time.  The jealous neighbor kid steals the Cankersaur and sells him to the circus but later sees how sad this makes Candy and they get her father to help retrieve her beloved pet.  There are several valuable lessons worked into this story.

I highly recommend this book for young readers and especially liked the ebook format (a lot of ebook for kids seem to have spelling errors and typos galore and this one was very well done).  Even my 11 year old very advanced reader was curious enough to sit through the whole story and giggled a few times.

Author, Jason Sandberg, was generous enough to grant me 10 free copies to gift to you! Just complete as many steps as you wish through Rafflecopter below to earn entries to the giveaway.  This giveaway ends at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, May 1 - good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 13, 2015

That Chronic Condition Called “Busy”

Please can somebody play with me?” came a sweet, soft little voice from below me.

It had been a really hectic day.  
The kids and I had been late getting out the door that morning and as soon as I dropped them off at before-school program I was stopped on the wrong side of the tracks by a really long, slow train.  
That’s about the time I realized I didn't have enough gas to get to work.  
A full day of meetings and the phone ringing off the hook at work so of course I didn't get out on time.  
I had a list of things to get done at home – laundry, dishes, dinner, ironing.

And now my little man wanted me to play.  

In my cloud of frustration I tried to temper my voice a bit
 as I ground my teeth and sighed 
“Honey, can’t you see I’m busy!?”

That small chin quivered.  
Big hazel-green eyes filled with tears.  

“Everybody’s busy a lot and nobody has time to play with me.”  

He didn't say it in a whiny voice that surely would have ground my last nerve.  
He just said it very quietly and sadly and went to sit on the couch.  

That…made me stop in my tracks.

He was right.  

We are chronically “busy”.  

It’s a real problem.

And as I walked over to give him a hug and ask for my best biscuit cutter 
(and fellow Food Network junkie) to come help me with the dinner prep, 
my mind ticked through the number of times 
I’d said the word “busy” in the past few days.

It had become my go-to answer when anyone asked how I was doing.  

Which really showed how out-of-touch I was with everyone 
because they didn't ask me what I was doing 
or to quantify just what I had been up to 
and justify why I hadn't done more.  

They were asking about how I was doing – as a person.  

And I no longer knew how to answer the question because there wasn't time to think about how I felt or what I wanted.  Only time enough to measure how many things I’d cross off the list or boxes I’d check-marked. 

I won’t say that I don’t fall back into that habit because I do.  

But then I have those sweet, sensitive children who remind me often 
that their favorite part of the day 
is when we are driving home and I ask them to tell me the best part of their day 
and the little routine I have with each one as we say goodnight 
the same way each night. 

It’s not all the things we did during the day that are their favorite.  

It’s the feeling in those moments when we are not stressed and hurried 
and we just enjoy those few moments being together.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We Didn't Celebrate St. Patty's. And Its OK

We didn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day today.
We didn't even wear green clothes. 
No green food. No green hair. 
No special themed snacks and goodie bags to take to school to share with their class. 
I have no cute, smiling, happy green pictures to share.

In my younger mommy days I would have felt horribly ashamed to neglect my children by not celebrating such any holiday. I would have stayed up late last night making special treats, washing certain clothes, packaging special lunches. 

I would have been exhausted. I would have been flustered and frustrated and overwhelmed. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Living with Intention in Relationships

I remember being small and often visiting an elderly couple who always had an awkward silence between them.  They never referred to each other in terms of endearment.  They never touched.  They rarely looked directly at each other.  Their recliners were side by side with a small table between and it might as well have been a brick wall. 

It was not the comfortable silence of two people who have spent their lives in such togetherness that they didn't need words to fill the air because they each knew what the other was thinking without speaking audibly.  It was the bitter tense silence of a lifetime of disappointment, discontent and betrayal.