Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sister-girl is ONE! - The Party in Pictures

Our sweet Sister-girl turned ONE this month!  When pregnant I imagined her first birthday would be a "pumpkin" party to celebrate my October baby.  Little did I know my Sister-girl would have a strong attraction to Minnie from day one!  There was no denying Minnie party it was!

The party started with this... 

Seriously, HILARIOUS!  I planned on the party being outside, but the weather was less than stellar - cold, misty, and super cloudy!  So, as each guest entered the front door of the house they were greeted by Rooney, tools in hand, working away! 
Before long, dinner was served, and this beautiful moment took place --- fills my heart!!
Then there were presents.  First, those that needed unwrapping and hugging...
Then, those that needed riding...
Some needed driving!

There was clapping for cake, of course!  Excuse the blur of this photo... none of the pictures of her clapping were in focus well, but it was just too cute to not include!
Cake love.

Did I mention I made her dress?  It was a last minute decision, but I was so pleased!  I'm not gonna lie - it was kinda special to this Mama to know I made it!  No fear... all that cake goodness washed right out!
Day full of memories and lots of LOVE. 
Thanks to all of those who blessed us with your presence in celebrating Sister-girl!
((Thanks also to Jenny Pennell of Jenny Pennell Photography for lending a hand with picture taking from time to time!!))

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cake Release Knockoff

I was under the assumption that pretty much everybody in the world knew about homemade cake release.  A lengthy discussion on Instagram recently taught me otherwise!  This is by no means my recipe, I take no credit for it!  I do however urge you to try it!  Whether I am baking a homemade cake or box cake, I REFUSE to use any spray on the market... simply NOTHING COMPARES to this homemade mix!  I'm told it is similar to other cake non-stick type products on the market, but this is much less expensive and certainly works faster than the traditional butter & flouring used in days gone by.  I also think it is important to note that if you are a serious baker, then you consider your baking pans an investment.  I have found that many of the sprays on the market leave a residue that is difficult to remove from pans and leave them looking damaged, this however leaves no residue and is lightning fast to wash off! 

1 cup shortening, 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup all purpose-flour
The mixture will be a thick paste.  Apply the paste with a pastry brush to your baking pans and bake recipe as usual.  If you bake frequently, I suggest preparing the mixture and keeping it in the refrigerator.  The mixture should remain fresh, when refrigerated in an airtight container, for 4 weeks easily.  ((I have been told longer is fine... I'm being cautious, you be the judge & make note of the expiration date on your shortening!)) 
Enjoy how clean your cakes will release... NO MORE CAKES STICKING TO PANS!
Your pans will also be super easy to clean and do you see how the cake literally pulls away from the sides of the pan? 
Now get busy on your favorite recipe!  If this is new to you, prepare to have your world changed!  ----> Be sure to pin this for safekeeping!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perspective Check!

I have just spent the week in a hotel in "Aldabana" (as my Rooney says).  One day when the kids and I returned to our hotel room for an afternoon nap, we arrived at the room to discover our room was still being cleaned.  The kids were exhausted and D-I-R-T-Y from loads of playtime at a local park.  "Housekeeping" was super nice and in fact her comments left such a huge impression on me.  I was telling her that the beds had been made and clean towels were restocked, so there was no need for anything else really, that with a three-year-old and one-year-old in such a small space she could have it all perfect and within a matter of minutes it would look like she had wasted her time.  Her reply (I'm summarizing of course), "yes Mam', that's why this job is so satisfying to me... I can clean and clean for hours at home and with my kids I can't ever see that I'm making progress, but when I clean these rooms I can walk away with a real feeling of satisfaction; leaving everything looking as perfect as possible for the guests to return to."  What a great perspective "housekeeping" had!  How many people have you met in a relatively low-paying position that would tell you how much satisfaction their job brings them?  Few, I'm certain!  I vowed over a year ago to check my perspective frequently.  Friends, it has truly been a lifechanger for me.  I'm so thankful for these reminders along the way!

A Glimpse of Our Gathering

If you follow the blog then you know that the Lifetime Love and myself have a thing for homes and all things home, decor, and DIY projects.  We aren't perfectionist, how could we be with a three-year-old and one-year-old, right?  We aren't wealthy (but RICH in the things that really matter), so we take great pleasure in thrifting goodies here and there.  And our home certainly doesn't look magazine ready, but I can say if I had my own magazine, yep -it would be featured, it is perfectly OUR STYLE.  Our home tells our story.  Enjoy a glimpse of OUR GATHERING ;)

A little background...

Between 2003-2009 we built three homes, this being our most recent and first fully custom home.  The home was completed start-to-finish in 4 1/2 months with us choosing EVERY.SINGLE. DETAIL.  It was important to us that the house look as though it simply belonged on the property.  We wanted it to look old, rich in character, and follow an original farmhouse style.  Our floors are worn... we love it.  Our floors squeek... we love it.  I pulled windows from the plan - great decision, thirty windows is plenty!  I lost sleep over the stairs.  Making them true to farmhouse style was crucial to the design of this house... I'm confident I got them right, losing sleep was totally worth it!  Within minutes of looking at the plan I knew the "screen porch" shown on the plans had to be enclosed and turned into a dining room.  Space to entertain family was a driving force in the design of this house; enclosing that porch and creating a dining space was maybe one of the best decisions we made.  We insisted on a basement, a detached garage, and a large deck area for entertaining outside.  We chose to rearrange the kitchen plan.  Yep, we got that right too!  No, this house is not perfect, but for this family of "house-lovers," it brings us great happiness! 


Our home is ever-evolving with new projects here and there, so more pictures are sure to follow!  Thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

EVERY Child... A Lesson from the Playground

When we pulled up at the playground I quickly realized there were at least 60 kids finishing their lunches under one of the pavilions. We walked to another pavilion to eat in the quiet and as I watched them flood the playground I had the feeling of panic. Could my overly protective Mother bones let my 3 year old loose on this now hugely crowded playground with children more than twice his age? They were big, playing rough, & running fast. I swallowed hard, told Rooney to watch out & then sat and watched. My Rooney began playing & rather quickly noticed this child alone, no friends playing with him. This child had down syndrome & while I noticed, my Rooney never looked at him differently. They played a long time & when Sister-girl and I joined them I pushed this child in the swings for nearly an hour. He didn't speak well & he couldn't tell me his name. I was sad none of the teachers had taken the time to play with him, nor any of the other children. His smile filled my heart. I wasn't sad because he had down syndrome, I was sad because EVERY child needs love and attention. This Mom learned several lessons on the crowded playground today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Picture This" Wreath

Our Sister-girl is turning ONE!  I wanted a way to display photos at her birthday party from throughout her first year and was not head-over-heels for the ideas I had seen on Pinterest ((which typically I am)), so on a whim I threw this together and I must say, I  LOVE it so much that I'm thinking I will keep it around for a bit, even post-party.

I'm thinking it would be a great addition to a nursery or child's bedroom as well.  For the party I specifically used pictures that solely featured Sister-girl, but in a bedroom you could include pictures of the child with friends and family members as well.  I only added one small bow, simply to tie in the party theme (Minnie Mouse), but you can be creative and add a larger bow, or choose to leave it off altogether.
I picked up this vine wreath from Hobby Lobby (and yeah they paid me zilch to tell you that) for less than $10 and it is LARGE!  The photos were all standard size prints and I attached them with tiny clips I found in the craft section at Wal-Mart.  Using the clips means the wreath is left in its original form and may be reused in another fashion or photos can be updated easily.
My wheels are turning with ideas about other fun places this wreath could be used in the home....what about you?
**Like what you see here?  Pin It, please!**

Monday, October 1, 2012

Daddy DIY

My Lifetime Love is talented.  Really talented.  He brags on me ((more often than I deserve)) so let me take a moment to brag on him and hopefully inspire you!

He made me these great placecard holders, and they also double as buffet markers... perhaps best of all is they are made from a tree branch from the farm!
When he first built these step stools for Rooney I doubt either of us was really aware of just how much use they would get.  I have an order in for more...
Last Christmas he made me several of these beautiful trees!  Mine are still tucked away with all my Holiday decor, but I snapped this picture last night of an order he has been working on.  They can be painted or stained, we chose to use a variety of stains on ours personally, in keeping with the farmhouse decor.

My favorites, maybe?  My Lifetime Love crafted me these beautiful cutting/serving boards from remnant wood from our farmhouse countertops.  It's rosewood; isn't it just A M A Z I N G?  My Dad would tell you I highly overuse that word "amazing," but honestly there is just no other adjective that works here!  The two larger boards have the natural edge, just as our countertops do, but I equally love the finished edge he applied to the smallest board!
Now that I have bragged ((rightfully so, right?)), let me encourage you to follow Goodness Gathering's DADDY DIY board on Pinterest!  The Lifetime Love and I both add GOODNESS, such as this, to it regularly!

My Lifetime Love

Have you met my Lifetime Love?  There are many, many reasons he is my Lifetime Love, for example:

See that laugh?  It's genuine.  Know what I told him on our wedding day while the harp was playing and the wedding guest thought we were sharing some deep profound moment?  "You crack me up, and that's good because you can't live without a crack."  Truth.  Maybe too much truth.  In all seriousness, he makes me laugh till the tears pour down my face, and that friends is just a small piece of what makes him my Lifetime Love.
There is also this....

He  makes beautiful babies.  I remind him often.  Our beautiful babies make my heart flutter but, we were blessed with six years of ((wedded)) happiness before babies.....when I see my Lifetime Love I am flooded with memories of SO MUCH FUN we have shared!

While I could go on & on & on with reasons why he is truly my Lifetime Love, the final one I will include for now is that we share a love for homes.  It's something that sort-of just evolved with us.  We have built three homes in our nine years of marriage, with the current (a farmhouse) being custom built.  We selected every single detail for the farmhouse: flooring, cabinets, sinks, paint colors, lighting fixtures, trim, and doors in addition to adding & subtracting a few things from the plans.  When it was time to fill the farmhouse, who was beside me, thrifting, painting furniture, hanging art, and building custom pieces?  Yep, my Lifetime Love.  He's good like that.  We watch DIY & HGTV together, he tells me he loves my decorating style (seriously, it made me swoon when he said it out loud), and nearly everyday we talk about our shared love for houses.  I guess you could say HOMES are our passion, and sharing this passion, friends, is one more reason why I am CERTAIN he is my Lifetime Love.
((I'm working on a post with photos from the farmhouse, enjoy this glimpse in the meantime!))