Thursday, July 31, 2014

Easy (dairy-free) Elephant Ears

This morning I was in need of some quick comfort food and what better then cinnamony Easy Elephant Ears for breakfast! The original recipe is from our much loved and battered copy of Gold Medal's Alpha Bakery Children's Cookbook. I don't remember where we got it from, but we all have wonderful memories of learning to bake from it. 
This recipe uses baking powder not yeast, hence the quick part. I probably could make them without a written recipe and half asleep it is so easy to whip up!
Over the years we have tweaked it slightly here and there, our newest version is dairy free so my sister Mandy can enjoy them too.

Easy (dairy-free) Elephant Ears
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups water (or milk of choice)
3/4 cup veg oil (or melted shortening or butter)
Mix dry ingredients together and then add liquids. Mix well and turn out dough unto a floured surface and roll about 1/2" thick. Spread a little oil or butter on dough and sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon. Starting at one edge roll dough up and slice in 1" wide slices. Place on cookie sheet and bake about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes about 18 cinnamon rolls. (In case the whole family is over, can be doubled or tripled with the same results!)
Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The more I see hydrangeas, the more I love them! Such a lovely old-fashioned plant. I can't believe I haven't grown them before!  
 It is so exciting to see the little ones I planted last year blooming. (so exciting they made it through the winter!) I am not certain if this variety is naturally leggy or if it is because I didn't trim them down in the fall. I must admit I am a little envious of the owners of all those bushy white varieties that are falling over with blossoms. 
Such a beautiful pink that fades over the summer to white. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Break at the Lake

Yesterday we took a little time out from a very busy week to enjoy Lake Michigan. It was heavenly! A chance to unwind and catch up with each other. It was rather chilly and because there had been a front that moved through the night before, the water was quite rough. The sky was such an intense clear blue, it was breathtaking.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sweet Summer

Don't you love summer? There is something wonderful about the long evenings, the greenness, the ever changing shadows of sunlight through leaves. We have been having a lot of perfect days this summer, only about a handful that we actually needed the air conditioning.
Flower pot in the backyard.
Today I thought I would share a tour of the backyard with you. I think I mentioned before, there was no landscaping when I bought the house, just one bush. But I didn't mind, we have plans!

View from the backdoor and Kerri watching for bunnies
This is it! We call it our postage stamp yard! To the right is my garage (1920s style, barely big enough to fit a car) and to the left is the neighbors garage. It certainly doesn't take long to mow! We have plans for another raised garden bed and an apple tree in the back corner.
View towards the house
The cement patio kind of drives me a little crazy. I don't know why a curve was thought to be a good idea. Someday I might tidy it up.
My favorite part of the backyard, the neighbors oak trees. They cast such lovely shade on the house and yard.
 We decided to go with raised garden beds. So much easier to weed. We are also trying to keep our gardening low key(we can get a little carried away!) and not let is get so much that we can't keep up with it.
 Lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers and marigolds.
 These kits from Home Depot work really nice. A snap to put together and they can be added together for taller or wider beds. We choose them for the no tools required assembly and the untreated cedar wood.
 Even though we planted marigolds and the bed is raised, it doesn't stop the bunnies!

Meet Benjamin and Charlie Bunny. They love the backyard too! I have never seen bunnies play until now, hopping in and out of the garden bed, running circles in the back yard.......and eating the bean plants!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Every once in awhile I do something and end up with a really amazing picture. Usually I don't know what I did, but this time I had the camera on continuous while rotating it. Not sure if I could do it again, but it is pretty cool......

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Front Porch: Before

 I always get too excited about a finished project to do a proper "reveal". So today I am going to show you a few sad before pictures. There really wasn't much to be done to the porch. We spruced up the walls and trim by slapping on a coat of paint. In this picture is a bit hard to tell, but that is indoor/outdoor carpet on the floor. Of course, that went.
 In true old school style the carpet had been glued down. We sanded, chipped and scraped away at it when we had the odd moment. But it wasn't until last Labor Day weekend that things really got done! My brother had purchased a power scarper and volunteered to try it out on the floor. It was amazing! The paint and glue went flying everywhere! (Safety glasses and a vacuum a must) The scraper finished the job in about an hour and all that was left was a bit sanding, priming, and painting before it got too cold. I had forgot how late in the year this got done, how time flies........
This year all that needed done was furnishings and window washing! We discovered windows like being clean, they operate so much better. I hadn't realized how important clean windows were before, but after washing off decades of dirt I am determined it will not be years before these windows see soap and water again!

For all the pretty "After" pictures see the previous post.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Front Porch

Welcome to my porch!
It has been so exciting to see it all come together. And as with most projects a lot of sweat, love and thought.
So after a lot of painting, pinterest trolling, discussion, several trips to the fabric store and a bunch of sewing it is done!! 
When I first bought the house, I wasn't sure if we would even use this area, but this year it is our favorite place to be! It is even Kerri's favorite place! A few evenings ago we ended up having a impromptu gathering out here, so fun to all be able to enjoy it. It was a bit of a squeeze fitting ten people, but we didn't mind! 
Before- peeling brown paint
The wicker settee and chairs are a Craig's List find. They were in desperate need of a bit of love. After a good washing, a bit of string to repair some problem spots, and a couple of coats of paint they are good as new. (I was thinking about painting them a color, but the minute I saw the drab brown I longed for white!)

All the pillows and cushions I made last weekend while waiting for the floors to dry. My sewing station was in the kitchen and I had to dash around the house every time I needed to measure! I love how they turned out, just like I imagined. The blue sets of the white perfectly and gives it such a crisp summery look.

This is Kerri's chair. It is on loan from my sister Becky (otherwise it would have gotten a coat of white paint too!) Whenever anyone is out sitting on the porch, you will find her here keeping an eye on the neighborhood.

My sister Mandy had cotton canvas shades that she didn't need anymore, (which happened to be the perfect color!), so she kindly donated them to the project. I know the seats are going to get a lot of use so I wanted a heavier fabric to hold up.

Couldn't resist sneaking in another Kerri picture, she is just so cute in her chair!
The pillow covers are regular cotton quilting fabric as I couldn't find a print I liked in decorators fabric. I also decided to invest the time and money into putting zippers in all the covers so we could wash them.  At the rate we are using the porch I think we will be glad!

 Another new feature to the porch are hooks to hold the solar light mason jar lanterns. Previously the lanterns had just been on the table or window ledge. Then I saw this idea and happened across some old hooks in the basement. Perfect!

 I love how they look at night, the wonderful spheres of light they cast. So cozy!
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
You know where I will be, Enjoying my Porch!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shellacking Floors (Again!)

This weekend we were so busy, I am tuckered out! I was so excited about the extra day off I kept adding projects to the list. Ha! At the top of the list was re-shellacking the floors! I posted about the floors Here and Here previously.
Before - with all the furniture moved to one end.
The floors didn't fair very well this winter, especially in front of the door where snow and salt was tracked in. After mulling it over while waiting for the weather to warm; I came to the conclusion I made a few mistakes.
Mandy and I hard at work.
 (Mistake #1) When shellac is old it doesn't dry properly. Thus it is very important to get a good can of shellac, unfortunately it also has a very short shelf life. If the can is bulging or looking like it might explode in any way, pass it by! Shellac should also look like coffee with plenty of milk in it and not separated looking. (Mistake #2) On the back of the can it states, do not thin. I completely ignored this statement and thinned it out with denatured alcohol according to advice I read on the internet. (This was suppose to help it go on smoother.) Not good at all. Even though we did three or four coats the first time around, it wasn't even as thick as one non-thinned coat! There was such a world of difference this time. 
First coat on one side.
I must point out we love our wood floors, but didn't expect them to come out perfect. The floors are 90 years old and had paint splatters, pet stains, thousands of staple holes and discoloring from the sun. But we love them the way they are! And are happy to coexist with them. 
After- and so glossy!
One of the wonderful things about shellac is, unlike other finishes, you can add another coat at any time. When you apply another coat is softens the layer beneath and melds together. This is very good news for scratches and scuffs as applying a coat over them makes them disappear! (The very deep scratches didn't disappear completely, but they do look much better.) It also enabled us to do one side of the room at a time and one can't tell where we stopped or started!
After- second side.
  We used a gallon and a half of shellac on the living room and dining and it took us two days. The living room and front hall the first day and the dinning room and hallway the second day. About every hour and a half to two hours we would apply another coat. Then we let is dry overnight before shuffling the furniture to the other side. We are so excited to have it done! It is heavenly on bare feet! Though we have noticed if the humidity is high it gets a bit sticky, but it should harden completely in a week. (In a perfect world we probably shouldn't have moved the furniture in for a week, but ah well!)
After- through the front door.