My Farmhouse

October 29, 2014

My Laundry & Mud Room - Part 2

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When designing our home, it made sense to use pocket doors in a few rooms. The laundry room was one. A door hanging into the hallway wouldn't be ideal and if it went the other direction, it'd be blocking my access to the laundry chute. So, a pocket door it was.

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A huge favorite feature in the room is the laundry chute, which connects from the boy's bathroom upstairs. My brother and sister-in-law's beautiful old home has an amazing multi-floor laundry chute system and I always admired it. Turns out adding a chute was really simple, as it was designed into the plans and I'm so glad it was something I made sure to have. Although laundry chutes are found in so many old homes, I'm really surprised it's a feature that's not more frequently added into new homes. For us, it's simply an opening in the floor, to the laundry room below.

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When I was thinking about counter material, I wanted something that was industrial, as I really liked the thought of mixing an industrial surface with the beauty of the wallpaper and softness of the beadboard tile. I went to a local metal fabricator to talk about options. There were many, and my favorite was galvanized steel. I really like that galvanized steel actually has an almost soft appearance, as opposed to something like stainless steel. The fabricator advised against using it, as they were concerned it may rust. With my experiences with all of the galvanized materials I've encountered on farms for many years now, I've not seen that, so I was willing to take a chance. It's been wonderful and I don't foresee any issues. The custom counters were extremely reasonable - coming in around $400.

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I made sure to add in a nice big sink for soaking. I added in a spray nozzle, as it makes it so nice for cleaning out the sink.

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I kept the cabinets and hardware consistent with what was used throughout the house, as I think it's important to do, so the rooms don't feel choppy. It's one of those design elements that you don't consciously think about when you are in a home, but affects the feel without you even knowing why.

A really convenient feature is the vacuum pan adjacent to the door. The boys track in so much dirt from the fields and I love being able to sweep it all right into the pan. To turn it on, I just click the little switch with my foot and it sucks up all the dirt. I think it's magic.

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I opted for white hex tile on the floors in this room, with a nice dark grout. Dark grout is key here. I love the old-fashioned look of it and how it helps to show each and every little hex, but it's also really hard working. It scrubs right up.

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The walls are covered in beautiful Dirk Elliot beadboard tile, tile base trim and tile cap. I can't tell you how many times I've seen mud splattered on the walls and it's such a nice feeling to be able to just wipe it right off. Dirk designed the cap just for this room, as well as designed the tile layout. They now offer the tile cap for sale, in addition to all of their stunning tile, including the beadboard tile that was used throughout the room.

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Although the tile is barely visible behind the washer and dryer, I still opted to have the tile fully installed there, all the way to the floor. Even though I only see brief glimpses of the tile behind there, it was a really nice way to finish off the room. It makes it feel complete. And although I opted for a dark grout on the floor, to call out each hex shape, I opted to keep the grout on the walls as close to the tile color as possible, so it sort of just whispers. It's softer that way.

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This is my favorite room in the whole house.

You can read the first part of my Laundry & Mud Room post here.

Wallpaper: Wallflowers, Spokane, WA

Farm Painting: Forget Me Not, Coeur d'Alene, ID

Small Basket near window: Funky Junk Jennifer, via the Funky Junk show, Sandpoint, ID

Towels: Walmart

Washer & Dryer: Bosch

Large Laundry Chute Basket: Silver Suitcase, via Roost, Spokane, WA

Wooden Box: Funky Junk Hollie, via the Funky Junk show, Sandpoint, ID

Cowboy Boots: Forget Me Not, Sandpoint, ID

Entryway Rug: Ikea

Countertops: Fabricated by Carlson Sheet Metal, Spokane, WA

Beadboard Wall Tile, Tile Trim, and Tile Design: Dirk Elliot Tile, Spokane, WA

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn't have a website).

A note about my sources: I try and identify my sources as often as possible and love promoting other businesses. My policy is that if I love something or have had a good experience with a product or service, I try to promote it, when possible. Sometimes, I'm disappointed with a product or service and won't provide that source. I understand that thousands of readers visit my blog every day and I realize that if I were to say something negative about a product or source, my opinion could have a negative impact on a business, and that's not what I want. If I don't list a source, it's not because I'm stingy, I just choose to keep it positive here. Thank you for understanding.

 

March 04, 2013

A Winter Treat

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Step 1: Gather little cookies, your favorite sprinkles, and some ice cream.

Step 2: Place a scoop of ice cream on a cookie and top with another, making a little sandwich.

Step 3: Roll the ice cream sandwich edges in the sprinkles.

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Enjoy!

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Sources:

Confetti sprinkles can be found in most supermarkets.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies: Trader Joes

Ice Cream Scoop: Beam & Anchor, Portland, Oregon

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January 30, 2013

How to Make a Beautiful Cake

Today I'm going to show you how to make a beautiful cake.

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It all comes down to this little tip, the 2D. Don't worry, if you're not a cake decorator, this isn't an intimidating or difficult thing to do. That's not The Farm Chicks way. I promise.

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First, you'll need to bake yourself two same-sized cake rounds so you can make a double layer cake.

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Once the cakes are cooled, cut off the rounded tops so the cakes are nice and flat. (A large serrated bread knife works best).

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Next, layer and thinly frost the cakes.

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(Cake is sitting on a tiny wooden cakestand).

Now comes the fun part. Place the 2D tip in a decorating bag (or a gallon-sized ziploc bag with one of the corners snipped off for the tip to poke out of). Fill the bag with your favorite THICK buttercream frosting. The frosting needs to be thick so it doesn't sluff off the cake. Starting on the top of the cake, make frosting swirls, like a pinwheel, starting in the center and circling around until you have a rose.

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Make them in varying sizes. If there are holes, simply squeeze in a star. Like this:

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Once the top is complete, move on to the sides. Swirl, swirl, swirl.

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You don't need to be perfect. In fact, imperfect is homey. Imperfect says, Eat me! I'm a delicious, approachable cake!

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And there you have it. A beautiful little cake.

Sources:

2D cake decorating tip: Wilton, purchased at Carolyn's

Vintage cooling rack: Silver Suitcase

Tiny wooden cakestand: ABC Carpet & Home, NYC

Large wooden cakestand: William & Sonoma

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Post Edit: A reader commented, sharing links to another cake done similarly, using a different tip. You can find it here.

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January 07, 2013

Asian Quinoa Salad

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The first time I tried Quinoa was on a work trip to New York City. We were at the beautiful new Hearst building having lunch with Country Living Magazine colleagues in their amazing cafeteria. I tried a bit on top of a green salad and was instantly hooked. At the time, Quinoa was fairly new to the U.S. and was hard to find. But now, it's available in most supermarkets. Quinoa is pronounced: keen-wa and is a seed that seems much like a grain and is really high in protein.

Asian Quinoa Salad

1 small piece fresh ginger (about 1 1/4 inches)

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (1 32 ounce carton)

2 cups quinoa

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

4 teaspoons peanut butter

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper (1/4" dice)

1/3 cup diced yellow bell pepper (1/4" dice)

1/3 cup sliced green onions

Roasted, unsalted peanuts. chopped, for serving (optional)

Cook the quinoa: Peel the ginger and grate enough to equal 1 teaspoon; cover and set aside. Then place the remaining whole piece ginger in a medium-size saucepan. Add the broth and quinoa, and cook according to the quinoa package directions. Discard the ginger and transfer the quinoa to a medium-size salad bowl; set aside to cool.

Make the dressing and salad: Meanwhile, whisk together the oil, vinegar, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic, and reserved grated ginger in a small bowl until combined. Add the peppers and green onions to the quinoa in the salad bowl; pour the dressing over the top and toss to thoroughly combine. If you wish, sprinkle some peanuts over the salad just before serving.

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Images by John Granen

This recipe and many more can be found in my first book, The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.

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December 23, 2012

The Holiday Spice Drawer

Part of the sweetness of Christmastime for me is making my everyday spaces festive. The places I spend a lot of time and where some may find drudgery. Like the laundry room, pantry, and my kitchen.

My spice drawer sits nestled in the island of my kitchen, amid many other drawers that make up what I call my Baking Center.

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Recently, I relabelled all of my spice jars and alphabetized them, which surprisingly I'd never done until now. Let me tell you, I love being able to find the spices I want quickly.

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And I added in a variety of holiday sprinkles too. Now they're easily accessed right where we're doing all of our baking. But most importantly, they make me very happy every time I open the drawer. Merry Christmas!, they seem to sing.

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Sources:

Spice Jars: Cost Plus World Market

Labels: Martha Stewart for Staples

Powdered Sugar Shaker: Ikea

Sprinkle Vessels (Vintage diner sugar packet holders): Silver Suitcase Antiques, Spokane, WA

Red Ceramic Spoons: Crate & Barrel

White Ceramic Spoon: Daiso

Holiday Sprinkles: Bake It Pretty

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November 26, 2012

Scone Cozy

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This quick and easy project is such a sweet and functional way to keep your scones nice and warm. It also has great gift potential. Make a batch of your favorite scones , place them in the cozy, set on a plate, and deliver to a friend or send to school as a teacher's gift.

Here's how to make your cozy:

  1. Cut two 11-inch diameter circles from a terry cloth or other thick-cloth kitchen towel.
  2. Finish the raw edge of each circle with bias binding and, if desired, embelish with rickrack.
  3. With chalk, divide one circle into six equal wedges, just as if cutting a pie. Place the marked circle on top of the second circle and sew them together along the lines.

And you're done!

You can find this and more fun projects in my book: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.

Image by John Granen

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November 21, 2012

The Best Turkey Soup Ever

This soup is so tasty that I buy turkey during the year just to make it. And after Thanksgiving, it's the perfect way to use up some of your leftovers.

Creamy Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

5 tablespoons butter (1 tablespoon for sauteing, 4 tablespoons for cream sauce)

1/3 cup diced celery (1/4" dice)

1/2 cup diced carrots (1/4" dice)

1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

4 cups chicken broth (1 32-ounce carton)

1 cup water

3/4 cup wild rice

2 cups diced cooked turkey (about 1 pound)

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 1/4 cups half-and-half

2 tablespoons white wine (optional)

3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Make the soup: Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrots, and onions, sauteing until softened - about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, water, wild rice, and turkey. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Make the cream sauce: Meanwhile, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix the flour and poultry seasoning together in a small bowl and then add to the butter; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the half-and-half and cook until slightly thickened - about 1 minute. Stir the sauce into the soup. Stir in the white wine, bacon, salt, and pepper. Serve.

Cover

You can find this recipe and many more in my cookbook, The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.

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November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Favorites

I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving and having a full house. There's such a warmth in gathering together, isn't there?

Here are a few of my favorites for Thanksgiving:

Farm Chicks Style Turkey

Sweet Potato Bake

Thanksgiving Salad

Serena's No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

The Whipped Cream Secret

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October 22, 2012

Cider A La Mode

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I love apple season and getting to have fresh-pressed cider is just an added bonus. The other night I was thinking about how much I wanted some apple pie but I wanted it RIGHT then. And since pie takes a while, I started thinking about what I could make instead. Cider. Spiced Cider. Hmmmm, could I add a dollop of ice cream and make it a Cider A La Mode? YES! And this little treat was born.

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh-pressed cider

1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 scoop vanilla ice cream (you can use your favorite non-dairy variety to make it vegan)

Heat cider, then stir in sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add ice cream and drink right away.

Please note, this isn't a mulled cider. This is a quick-fix kind of treat. The longer you heat cider with spices, the more intense the spice flavor becomes. If you are going to do this as a mulled cider, you'll want to experiment with the spices to suit your taste. Also, if you ever make mulled cider, I'd recommend using a cinnamon stick rather than ground cinnamon because it gives a great flavor without the powdery consistency of the ground cinnamon.

If you want to make more than one cup, just double or triple ingredients as needed.

IMG_3444Sources:

Glass mug: TJ Maxx

Handmade kitchen cloth: Katelyn Foutch

Ice cream scoop: Beam & Anchor

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October 05, 2012

Fall Fills Our Home

I went walking around our property to gather bits of fall to bring inside. My first stop was the wild little apple tree by the road.

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Golden autumn leaves were next. Gather gather gather.

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Then some oak leaves from one of the scraggly little oaks along the fence. The leaves are fire-like.

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I trudged through the thick dusty field to the backside of our property where pumpkin harvest is in full swing. A little basket of minis was all I needed.

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I stopped by the garden for a few cornstalks too, then back inside to plug it all in.

I started with this beautiful antique runner from my friends Dustin and Christian of Uber Chic Home.

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Cornstalks were added in to create a base.

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Then some leaves

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and little pumpkins.

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I like to incorporate just a few elements. I think a display is more impactful that way.

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All the remaining gathered goods were added onto the shelf in my kitchen.

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Now, fall fills our home.

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The table runner is from Uber Chic Home.

The dining room table was made by Antico.

The dining room chairs are from World Market.

The dining room light fixtures are all from Pottery Barn.

The basket on the shelf above my stove is from Roost Antiques in Spokane, WA.

The mortar and pestle was found at a little bargain shop in San Francisco's Chinatown.

The tile in the kitchen is from Dirk Elliott Tile.

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August 15, 2012

Aprons From Vintage Sheets

One of my favorite uses for cute and colorful vintage sheets is as material for aprons.

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Just like old tablecloths, vintage sheets are made from great quality cotton and you can find them frequently at yard and estate sales and thrift shops too.

Before you get started, make sure to launder them in hot water and if there are stains, soak in OxiClean. If stains persist, simply avoid them when you lay out your pattern pieces.

You can find this and more fun projects in my book: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.

Hanging rack from Forget-Me-Not Shoppe, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Image by John Granen.

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August 14, 2012

Make Your Own Dishtowels

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I always found it hard to pass up pretty old tablecloths spotted at yard sales. Some had holes, others stained beyond usability. But this old material is the best cotton and linen that you'll find anywhere, so into my buy pile they'd go.

So, what to do?

Turn them into colorful little dishtowels, using the fabric that isn't damaged.

Simply cut into your ideal shape and trim with bias tape. If you want to get really fancy, like we did here, make your own bias tape with contrasting fabric.

You can find bias tape makers at your local fabric shop, and they come complete with directions on how to make your own.

Your kitchen will be smiling in no time.

You can find this and more fun projects in my book: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.

Images by John Granen

The Farm Chicks

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July 31, 2012

How To Make A Cloud

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A few years ago, I had great fun creating some great big clouds to be used at the entrance to The Farm Chicks Show. But before we got them to the show, we had fun with them at home. The boys thought they made cool photo ops.

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But how do you make a cloud?

It's actually pretty easy, as long as you have some time and a bit of patience.

To start, cover your work surface with a big sheet. Tape as many blown-up white balloons together as you like, to form your perfect cloud.

Next, mix up a big batch paste of water and flour and whisk until smooth.

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Gather up lots of newspaper or newsprint paper and tear into thick shreds (3"-6"). Dip shreds into the paste, removing excess paste as you lift from bowl, and smooth all over the balloons, until they are fully covered.

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Allow to dry completely. (This can take up to 24 hours).

Next, cover the clouds with pillow stuffing (polyester fiber). To do so, use a spray adhesive, and spray little sections at a time, and adhere little bunch by bunch of the stuffing. Repeat, again and again, until the cloud is all covered.

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And just like that, a cloud is born.

aecb60a724b2e7e32b6913d685d73ecfImage from The Farm Chicks Show by Christina G. Photography

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June 12, 2012

Italian Veggie Sandwich

The last year brought a lot of changes to my world - many of them health related. I've always really prided myself on cooking healthy food for my family, but I've never tried harder than I do now, really in an effort to be as healthy as I can be (and my family too!) As I've made big changes to what I've been cooking, it's been a challenge. For me, someone who has always cooked for enjoyment, it feels like I'm learning to walk again. I recently created this delicious veggie sandwich, which is an adaptation of my Olivada Crostini recipe from the first Farm Chicks cookbook, and a success in my quest for more healthy eating.

Italian Veggie Sandwich

2 small hearty Italian bread rounds or 1 regular-sized

4.25 ounce can chopped black olives

1/3 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped

1/2 cup bottled roasted red or yellow peppers, chopped

3 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 large clove garlic, minced fine

Fresh onion slices

Fresh zucchini slices

Romaine lettuce

Cut rounds in half and remove soft inner bread, leaving just the crust. (Save the soft bread for snacking!)

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Add the olives, peppers, vinegar and garlic to a small mixing bowl and stir until combined.

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Spoon about 1/4 of the mixture onto the inner base of the bread round and spread evenly.

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Top with the onions, zucchini, and lettuce.

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Add a bit more of the olive mixture to the inner top of the bread round.

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Place top round onto bottom veggie-filled round and press. Cut in half or in fourths and serve. (These sandwiches are also really delicious if they are wrapped and placed in the refrigerator overnight).

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Repeat the process with the remaining bread round, filling, and veggies.

April 26, 2012

My Laundry & Mud Room

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I'm a big believer in wallpaper in the laundry room. I think it adds a happiness to the room and makes me want to be in there. Good thing, because we go through a lot of laundry each week!

Because I'm short, I needed to keep the counters as low as possible. Rather than build a countertop over the washer and dryer, I opted to simply use the tops of the washer and dryer as counter space. It works great.

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The shelf on the left (shown above) doubles as a hanging rack for freshly ironed clothing. I can iron and hang each piece as I go along. When I'm done, I take the clothing off the hanging bar and into the closets where they belong. It also works really well for hanging items I need to air dry. The shelf is really high, so it's not practical to store things on top. I'm on the lookout for just the right decorative piece to place there at some point.

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The shelves on the right began with a mistake. When the cabinet installers hung what was supposed to be the only shelf on that wall, they hung it too high, as I'd be unable to reach any laundry products up there. Rather than have the shelf removed, and have wallpaper damage, I had them hang another shelf, just below. I had originally planned on hanging artwork above the lower shelf, but now just use the higher shelf to hold rotating art.

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The room doubles as a mudroom, as it's the entryway from the garage.

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I made the bench out of an old wooden box I found at the Funky Junk antiques show. I use a standard pillow and pillowcase as the cushion.

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Just to the left of the bench is a big closet which holds coats, shoes, hats, gloves, and the ironing board.

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And to the left of that is the entryway cabinet, perfect for setting down armloads when we walk in the door.

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It's also home to one of my favorite finds ever - this great old key rack I found at Hunt & Gather in Minnesota.

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Tomorrow I'll be sharing the closer details of the room and my favorite features.

Wallpaper: Wallflowers, Spokane, WA

Farm Painting: Forget Me Not, Coeur d'Alene, ID

Small Basket near window: Funky Junk Jennifer, via the Funky Junk show, Sandpoint, ID

Towels: Walmart

Washer & Dryer: Bosch

Large Laundry Chute Basket: Silver Suitcase, via Roost, Spokane, WA

Wooden Box: Funky Junk Hollie, via the Funky Junk show, Sandpoint, ID

Cowboy Boots: Forget Me Not, Sandpoint, ID

Entryway Rug: Ikea

Keyrack: Hunt & Gather, Minneapolis, MN

Countertops: Fabricated by Carlson Sheet Metal, Spokane, WA

Beadboard Wall Tile, Tile Trim, and Tile Design: Dirk Elliot Tile, Spokane, WA

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn't have a website).

A note about my sources: I try and identify my sources as often as possible and love promoting other businesses. My policy is that if I love something or have had a good experience with a product or service, I try to promote it, when possible. Sometimes, I'm disappointed with a product or service and won't provide that source. I understand that thousands of readers visit my blog every day and I realize that if I were to say something negative about a product or source, my opinion could have a negative impact on a business, and that's not what I want. If I don't list a source, it's not because I'm stingy, I just choose to keep it positive here. Thank you for understanding.

April 10, 2012

Sixlets

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What can you do with Sixlets?

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Make yummy candy bracelets:

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Festoon a cake!

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Deck the walls.

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And why not?

A sweet day is a happy day.

Hooray!

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March 02, 2012

Flower Purse

I've been taking a walk down memory lane while going through some old files of Farm Chicks projects for something I'm working on, and thought it'd be fun to share something I came across.

A Farm Chicks Style idea composed for creative floral displays and gifts, for Country Living Magazine a few years back.

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To create, place an old bread pan (you can find really inexpensive ones at thrift shops) filled with water-soaked floral foam into the base of the purse. Poke in flowers until the display is full. For gift giving, tie on a thoughtful tag.

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February 07, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Creamcakes

You're probably beginning to notice my love affair with all things mini. I admit it. I'm Serena and I love all mini treats.

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I made these creamcakes because I wanted to make something delicious with what I had on hand. These cakes are chocolately, creamy, and perfectly sweetened with raspberry. But best of all, they're really simple and a modern adaptation of the cakes my sister would make for me as a child, all covered in jam.

Ingredients

  • 1 package thin chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco)
  • 8 ounces mascarpone*
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam (I recommend Smuckers Simply Fruit)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • raspberry jam (for drizzling and frosting)

Directions

 
  Whip mascarpone, jam, milk, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy and completely combined. Pipe or spread the whipped mixture onto the top of 5 cookie wafers. Stack wafers atop each other to form the little cakes. (Drizzle extra jam between layers, if desired). Frost the top of the little cake with the mascarpone mixture or jam, or both. Continue assembling the cakes, one at a time. Place the cakes onto a tray, wrap each one with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least five hours or overnight. Serve cold.

*You can substitute cream cheese for the mascarpone. If you do, make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature, as it won't blend well when cold).

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February 02, 2012

What Can You Do With...

... candy hearts???

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Skewer them:

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Top them:

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Hang them:

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Give them:

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January 31, 2012

Cookie Flags!

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A few months back, I was inspired by Herriot Grace's Cookie Flags and knew I'd like to make my own variation for Valentine's Day.

I started by making a batch of my favorite cookie dough for these sorts of things. (It's important to use a recipe that won't rise and become puffy).

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I rolled out the dough and cut out the flag shapes for the project. (Just freehand, with a small, sharp knife).

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I transferred the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet and inserted little wooden toothpicks for the flags (about 3/4" of the toothpick).

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I embellished some using some dough letter stamps and big heart sprinkles, just by pressing into the unbaked dough, and then baked them up.

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Then I decided it'd be fun to sugar glaze some of them and add a few sprinkle dots, for good measure.

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A soft pink sugar glaze is great too.

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I kept some unglazed, because sometimes simple is just enough.

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And then, well, it was really simple. I poked them into my little cakes.

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But they're just as fun to package up as treats for the ones you love. Or better yet, just gobble them up. Because Cookie Flags bring happiness to all.

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Cookie Flags Dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla, beating until well combined. Beat in the flour, just until combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Flour your work surface and roll out your refrigerated dough to about 1/4" thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut out the shapes of your little flags. (As shown above). Once you've cut out all your flags, transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. (The best way to do this is with a spatula). Repeat with the remaining dough scraps, until all the dough is used up. Insert toothpicks into the flags as described above, and adorn, if desired, as described above.

Refrigerate the Cookie Flags, on the baking sheet, for 15 minutes. While the flags are being refrigerated, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake the Cookie Flags for 12-15 minutes. Cool on pan. Once completely cooled, the flags are ready to glaze or use as is.

Cookie Flags Glaze

  • Confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • Milk

Add milk, just a wee bit at a time, until the glaze reaches your desired consistency. Add a drop of food coloring, if you'd like. Mix together with a spoon, until thoroughly combined and then glaze to your little heart's content.

Sources:

Mini Bundt Cake Pan: Target

Letter Stamps: William Sonoma

Big Crunchy Heart Sprinkles: Wilton

Mixing Bowl: Fishs Eddy

January 22, 2012

Mini Box of Donuts

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I love each holiday, when the stores start stocking lots of different candies. Whenever I'm browsing the aisles, my mind is churning, thinking about what I can create. And more times than not, I dream in miniature. I'm not sure why, but mini is so darned cute, isn't it? This year, I dreamed up these teeny tiny donuts - perfect for Valentine treats.

To start, I whipped up a tiny bowl of icing. Just a wee bit of confectioner's (powdered sugar) and enough water to make it a nice consistency for dipping and glazing. And a bunch of Lifesavers candies.

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Oh, and some sprinkles too.

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All you need to do is dip the top of each Lifesaver into the icing and add a pinch of sprinkles.

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A little..

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..or a lot.

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You can use teeny tiny heart sprinkles too.

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I think the reds look like red velvet cake donuts. Let's pretend they are.

Oh! Look. Two lil' donuts sittin' in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G....

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hee hee.

Then we need to box them up. Just like a teeny tiny bakery would. What kind would you like? The little sprinkleys?

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Or the variety pack?

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Then we just slip on the little bakery box cover. And they're all ready for delivery. (Make sure the icing is completely dry before packaging).

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Note: These would make fun little birthday party favors or April Fools treats too!

Sources:

  • Lifesavers Candies in Valentines colors: Target (These come in bags of individually wrapped candies).
  • Sprinkles: Bake It Pretty
  • Match box favor boxes: Martha Stewart Crafts
  • Tiny pink bowl and little metal spoon: Fishs Eddy

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Alternate Sources: Websites such as Etsy and Oriental Trading Company offer selections of blank match boxes as well.

Back-up Plan: Little treat bags would work great for packaging too.

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January 19, 2012

Tiny Cookbooks

My boys enjoy baking and have a selection of favorite recipes they like to whip up. I decided to make them tiny cookbooks containing their favorites all in one place, that are easily grab-able when they want to attack the kitchen. They also make great little gifts for friends or for your child heading off to college. (And they're great for dads too!)

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These little books have an oilcloth cover.  Here are the supplies you'll need:

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  • Oilcloth (or laminated cotton)
  • Copy Paper
  • Fabric Pinking Shears
  • Scissors or Paper Cutter
  • Two-Hole Punch or Heavy Duty Stapler
  • Ribbon

To begin, make a template out of paper.

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Trace the template onto your oilcloth, about 1/4" wider than the template, all around.

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Cut the oilcloth using your pinking shears.

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Take several pieces of paper (I used 3 per cookbook, as when the stack is folded, it makes six double-sided pages.) and trace the template onto it. Cut out the stack all together using a paper cutter or scissors. Fold the stack in half, in the center.

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Place the paper inside the oilcloth cover.  Make sure the paper crease is pressed up against the center crease of the oilcloth and that the oilcloth cover is slightly bigger than the paper. If you need to, you can cut the paper down a bit more.

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Fold the oilcloth cover over the paper, crease, and hole punch. (If you don't have a two hole punch, a heavy duty stapler can be used).

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Tie off with ribbons of your choice. (Skip this step if you've stapled your little cookbook).

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And then, add a little label.

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Sources:

Oilcloth: Cath Kidston and Oilcloth International (via ebay)

Ribbon: Michael's

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January 16, 2012

Homekeeping & Happy Homes

I often talk about having a happy home. I think it's the most important part of homekeeping.

One thing I'm frequently asked about are the homes seen in magazines. Are they really as clean and perfect as they appear? The answer is definitely, NO! And in real life, they shouldn't be. Because perfect isn't comfortable. But we don't buy magazines to see other people's messes, we buy them to be inspired. And if the photos weren't beautiful and showed messes, our eyes would focus on the mess, rather than the home. So please don't beat yourself up if your home isn't always as clean as you'd like it to be, because the truth is that most homes never are.

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I'm reading a mother's book from 1902 and have enjoyed discovering that the importance of a happy home has been around for a long while. In fact, I think this content is perfect advice for what I'm trying to convey.

Pleasant Homes:

Beautiful furniture on its own will not make rooms cheerful. The charm of a cozy home rests with its homemaker. If she is fortunate enough to have sunny rooms, her task is half done. In homes where the sun never shines, something must be done to make up for it. A sunless room should have bright and joyous color in its furnishings. The walls should be warmly tinted, and the curtains give a rosey glow to the light that passes through them. Ferns and shade loving plants may add cheer to the room and suggest quiet forest nooks.

An attractive room need not be too orderly. A book left lying on the table, a bit of needle-work on the window sill, an open piano, indicates the tastes and styles of those who live there, without suggesting that there is not a place for everything in that room.

There is such a thing as being too neat and nice to take comfort in everyday life, and this is anything but cheerful. And there is such a thing as being so disorderly and messy that comfort and cheer are impossible.

If a mom cannot rest while there is a fingermark on the paint or a spot on the window panes, she may have a neat home, but her tension will keep it from ever being cheerful.

A bird singing in the window, an aquarium on the table in some corner, plants growing and blooming, pets moving about as if at home, these give life and brightness to a home.

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January 11, 2012

Sprinkle Toppers

Aren't big sprinkles adorable? The only problem is they're so hard to find. And then they're CRUNCHY, which isn't very enjoyable when you're taking a bite of a soft, fluffy cupcake, right? So, I've taken to making them myself. You can make different shapes, but today I really want to show you hearts. (Another phase of mine... Note the My Favorite Find logo, and this year's FC Show poster... :)) Love love love. It's what it's all about! hee hee

So anyway, they're really simple. Simply take a handful of candy melts in your desired color and heat for about 30(+/-) seconds in the microwave to melt:

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Stir the melts until all smooth. Transfer mixture into the corner of a large ziploc bag and cut the tip off:

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Line a tray with wax paper. Carefully squeeze out heart shapes, one side at a time. Squeeze briefly from the top, angling the heart side to the center, then pulling the shape, without squeezing any more out. Sort of just dragging what you've already squeezed:

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Ohhh. So cute! And SOFT, so they won't break your teeth. Hooray!

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Make as many as you like. zip. zap. zoom. And you're done! Then, top your favorite treats. Like cookies, sundaes, or cupcakes.

Just one.

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Or lots. Why not? We're equal opportunity sprinklers!

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.... and with a few sprinkles, she'll change the world.

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January 06, 2012

The Lemon Steamer Cleaner

The microwave really needs a washing.  This is what happens when children heat food until it explodes. I won't use cleaners that are full of chemicals because I don't want those fumes seeping into our food. Here's what I do instead.

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I remove the tray and give it a wash in hot soapy water. (I love Mrs. Meyers dish soap!)

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Sparkley!

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Next, I slice a lemon in half and squeeze it into a little microwave safe bowl of water.

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I place it into the microwave and cook it on high for 4 minutes. The lemony water boils and steams.

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When it stops, I don't open the door for 10 minutes, allowing that citrusy steam to loosen up the grime.

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When I open the door, I wipe everything down with a clean cloth, and just like that, it's lemony clean.

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Hooray!

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January 03, 2012

Hearts of Palm Salad

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I have an obsession with hearts of palm and am always trying new ways to incorporate them.  This salad is one of my favorite creations.

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Hearts of Palm Salad

(Prepare your desired amount of salad fixings, for one or several servings).

Romaine lettuce, washed and torn

White onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Canned hearts of palm, sliced thinly

If making a single salad serving, mound fixings on a plate and drizzle with dressing (recipe below).  If making a full salad, place fixings in a salad bowl, toss with dressing and serve immediately.

Dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon light sour cream

1 small clove garlic, squeezed through garlic press

Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Store any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Note:

Canned hearts of palm can be found in most grocery stores, usually near the canned artichoke hearts.

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December 27, 2011

Homekeeping

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I really enjoy this time of year when the focus is on cleaning and organizing. It's surprising what a difference a tidy home can make in your life. A clean home really is a happy home.

My mom used to drive me crazy when she was assigning chores. She'd go on and on about how beautiful the dishes were and how much she loved to clean and make those colors sparkle. I remember thinking, If you love it so much, why don't you do it?!

And although I won't profess to love cleaning, I have found lots of ways to make the most of it and I do love the results.

Coming this January, I'll be sharing some of my favorite homekeeping tips with you.

Here's a few to get you started:

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  • Did you know that by overusing bleach, you can actually yellow your whites? My favorite whitener and brightener is from Rit and is called just that: Whitener & Brightener. It's great to use for soaking a load of whites a couple of times a year.
  • Cooking oil stains on laundry? Wet the stain with cold water and cover the area with cornstarch. Allow to sit overnight and then launder as usual. The cornstarch will absorb the oil.
  • And speaking of laundry, try giving your laundry room/space some extra attention, no matter what size the space. Cheer it up and make it an area that looks so nice you don't dread the space you use so often. My favorite laundry room pick-me-up? Wallpaper! Even a little laundry closet can use some.

Stay tuned, I'll be back soon with more tips.

....and with a little homekeeping, she'll change the world.

P.S. my love of Rit is personal. I was not paid to endorse their product.

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December 16, 2011

Coffee Latte Punch

Tonight I'm having a Christmas party and I'm looking forward to serving this creamy latte deliciousness. And although I'm not a coffee drinker, this cool drink is more like a dessert in a mug than anything else.

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Coffee Latte Punch

Makes 14 (1 cup) servings

1/3 cup instant coffee

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 gallon 2% milk (8 cups)

1 cup half & half

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

Heat 1 cup water to boiling. Add the instant coffee and sugar and stir until dissolved. Set aside until cool.

Pour the coffee mixture into a large container and stir in the milk. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Thirty minutes before serving, pour the coffee mixture into a large punch or serving bowl. Stir in the half & half. Using a scoop, add the ice cream to the bowl and let sit until most of the ice cream has melted - approximately 25 minutes. Gently whisk everything together until incorporated and serve.

Tips: You can substitute 1 cup of hot, double-strength brewed coffee or espresso for the instant coffee and water if you like.

Sometimes I don't fully mix in the ice cream, instead I leave it floating on the surface as a yummy sweet topping for each serving.

Tisseason

You can find this recipe, as well as Christmas inspiration, decorating ideas, and Christmas cheer in my book, The Farm Chicks Christmas.

Images by John Granen.

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December 08, 2011

Making Something Out of Nothing

Growing up with very little was a blessing because I was able to see the beauty in the everyday objects that are often overlooked. That's what you do when you don't have much.

When you take the time to look around at what you have, you can make anything special. Take this collection of syrup dispensers for example:

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It's really simple:

1.) Gather together clear, like objects that can be used as vessels.

2.) Fill with Christmasey items such as little trees, ornaments, and fake snow or objects in a color to fit your Christmas theme such as old game pieces and glitter. (This can be done with anything you love, any time of the year!)

3.) Display as a grouping.

You can find this Christmas inspiration, as well as decorating ideas, recipes, and Christmas cheer in my book, The Farm Chicks Christmas.

Special thanks to my friend, Nancy, for letting us into her home to play and display with her collections. You can find more wonderful objects such as these at Nancy (and friends) shop, Forget-Me-Not, in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho.

Image by John Granen.

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December 06, 2011

Snowballs!

I'd like to introduce you to my family's favorite holiday cookies: Snowballs. They're rich, buttery, crispy and sweet and fun to eat.

Snowballs

(Snowballs shown on left).

Snowballs

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 ounces)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Grease two large baking sheets. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the butter and honey in a medium-size bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined and fluffy - 2 - 3 minutes. Lower the mixer speed to medium-low and beat in vanilla; then beat in flour and pecans until combined.

Roll the dough by tablespoonful between your palms, into balls. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1" apart.

Bake the cookies just until they turn light golden brown - 12 - 14 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Put the powdered sugar into a large plastic food-storage bag. Add the cookies, 6 at a time, and gently shake the bag until they are coated with sugar.

Makes 24 one-inch cookies.

To serve, pile up on a tray.

Tip: Snowballs make great gifts! Wrap in cellophane bags for gift giving. For added cuteness and stability for gift giving, place cookie filled cellophane bags into vintage food containers (as shown above), jars, or colorful paper bags.

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You can find this recipe and many more, as well as decorating ideas, projects, inspiration, and Christmas cheer in my book, The Farm Chicks Christmas.

Sources:

The containers shown are vintage.

Cellophane bags: Target

Ribbons: Michaels

Sweatshirt: Boden

Images by John Granen

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December 02, 2011

Adding Christmas To The Cupboards

One way to add Christmas cheer (or any season for that matter) to your kitchen is to add wrapping paper to the cupboards.

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You can line the back of the cupboards, inside the doors if they're glass, or line the inset panels on the front of your doors.

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Simply cut the paper to fit the spaces you'll be covering and attach with removable double sided tape. It's quick, simple, and darling!

You can find this project and many more, as well as decorating ideas, recipes, and Christmas cheer in my book, The Farm Chicks Christmas.

Images by John Granen.

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December 01, 2011

The Perfect Little Bench

I always find it interesting to watch the trends that come and go in the world of antiques. I remember when trunks were popular. Now they're not. But these old pieces shouldn't be overlooked. In fact, they are so useful for turning into entryway or mudroom benches. (And they have storage space!)

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I bought this old trunk/box from my friend, Hollie, at her antiques show.

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I simply topped it with a standard pillow covered in my favorite vintage Christmas pillowcase and it was instantly transformed into a little bench.

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I can easily change the pillowcase to fit the season.

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Have a large trunk? Use two pillows or several toss pillows. It's as easy as that!

I found the trunk here.

My floor tile is from Daltile.

My beadboard wall tile, tile base trim, and tile cap is all from Dirk Elliot Tile.

I purchased my wallpaper from Wallflowers in Spokane. I'm sorry, I can't remember the brand.

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November 30, 2011

Christmas Around The House

We've been decorating for Christmas and I love it when I add some cheer and the boys notice it first thing when they come home from school.

Today I decorated the bookcase in the kitchen. I organized the cookbooks by color and then just added in happy little bits I have on hand. I love that about the holidays. Just making things special with what you have.

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As you know, I love displaying sprinkles, and Christmas is no exception. Little old milk bottles are the perfect receptacles. Since they have no lids, I simply capped them with cute mini cupcake wrappers.

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Little vintage ornament boxes fit right in.

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A vintagey looking Christmas tree cake topper adds the perfect touch to the old toy sedan.

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Who says treats can't make you happy?

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Cupcake wrappers and cake topper from Bake it Pretty.

Mother's brand Christmas animal crackers are from Fred Meyer.

Cheer Up canister from Fishs Eddy.

My Christmas Book can be found here.

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November 17, 2011

My Old Crafts Space

At one point in our last home, I got tired of not having a crafts space and got a crazy idea to incorporate it into my tiny office (World Headquarters) nook. Jenny Doh featured it in her wonderful book, Signature Styles. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of my favorite ways to re-purpose kitchen, household, and often overlooked objects for use, as I shared in Jenny's book.

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Sprinkles in a jar are perfect for holding pens:

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Pages from a vintage textile and ribbon sample book become artwork for the wall:

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Pretty fabric should be displayed for added happiness. Twine is easily accessible in a clear jar. Cakestands are great for housing an array of supplies. A vintage baking dish holds rick-rack. A disposable plastic Christmas tablecloth is better utilized as a shelf liner:

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A colorful old flour sifter is the perfect size for holding a big cone of baker's twine. Sturdy cupcake liners work as vessels for small objects such as twist-ties.

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The entire feature, as well as My apron pattern and instructions are available in the book.

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Special thanks to Jenny for creating such a beautiful book and featuring so many creative women, and to Christina G., who photographed this story. All images seen here are by Christina G.

The sprinkles, cupcake liners, and twist-ties are from Bake it Pretty.

The cakestands are from Martha Stewart for Macy's.

The disposable plastic Christmas tablecloth is from Martha Stewart Crafts.

My desk is from Pottery Barn.

The oilcloth covering on my desk is from Cath Kidston.

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November 15, 2011

My Kitchen - Part 6 (The Details)

I hope you've enjoyed my kitchen tour. I wanted to share some final details and thoughts that I hope you find useful.

One small but impactful design element of my cabinets is that I had the cabinets made without any toekicks at the base. I find this to be both old-fashioned and modern at the same time. It's also an element that no-one notices directly, yet adds depth to the design. I did the same thing in our last kitchen and really love the look. However, it does take some getting used to if you're clutzy like me.

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It also takes A LOT of coordination with the sub-contractors (like the floor installer, electrician, etc) to make sure the materials are installed with that in mind. I made sure to remind Craig about this several times throughout the building process because I knew it was a really foreign concept and didn't want anything to be installed improperly.

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The tile grout on the walls and floors was one of my biggest stresses and I really agonized over the choices. It's amazing how much slight variations in grout can change the look entirely. On both accounts, I went with grout that I found to be closest in color to the material, as I didn't want to call out each tile.

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I'm a big believer in saving money whenever possible. The lights over the sink were really inexpensive, readily available from Lowe's, and fit my style perfectly.

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Sometimes you have to be creative with sources. Much of the the drawer hardware used throughout my kitchen aren't cabinet hardware. They're actually window sash pulls.

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A good contractor is KEY. Although we had a great design, it could have easily gone bad in the wrong hands. It was important for us to have a builder who didnt have many projects going on at once, so that ours would be getting his attention every day. We interviewed many builders before beginning this process, had them bid our project, and did lots of calling around as well. Although each builder gave us a list of references, I researched building permits for the builder we were leaning towards (Craig Powell) and called a few of the homeowners he hadn't listed as references. Not only did they all give him their highest praise, they had the same to say of his subcontractors.

Subcontractors are a big deal. Not only do they hold the future of your home in their hands, you're also stuck with them for future call backs, touch-ups, and repairs. It's important that you not only like their work, but like them as well because you'll be seeing them a lot. This is all in your builder's control, as he hires the subs. Luckily for us, we chose Craig and he was great.

In case you missed it, here is my kitchen tour:

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5.

You can read all the details about our farmhouse building process here.

Additional Information:

My cabinets were custom made by a local cabinet maker.

The ceiling is made of beadboard planks, also known as wainscotting. I talked a lot about it here.

The lights over the island were made from salvaged old schoolhouse globes and new arms. I obtained all of the materials from Revival Lighting in Spokane and they built the lighting as well.

The lights over the sink are from Lowe's.

The flooring is tile that looks like wood. I talked about it here and here.

My countertops are quartz. I talked about it here and here.

The wall tile is all from Dirk Elliot Tile. The best in the world and made right here in Spokane, by our good friends, Dirk and Christina. I talk more about it here and here.

The windows are made by our friends, Burke and Muriel, at VPI windows. They are also manufactured here in Spokane and are the BEST! I talked all about the windows here and here.

The cabinet hardware is from Spokane Hardware, who also have an amazing website (The Hardware Hut) where you can order just about anything your heart desires.

The pantry door (and all the doors in our home) came from Harry at River City Glass in Spokane.

My large glass pantry jars with the glass lids can be found at Target and Wal-Mart in many different sizes.

My small glass pantry jars with the white lids can be found at Wal-Mart. (Better Homes and Gardens canning jars). The plastic lids were purchased separately and are widely available at most grocery stores in the canning section.

My appliances are all Thermador, with the exception of the freezer column which is Bosch, and the microwave which is G.E.

The antique FOODS sign was purchased from Marketplace Antiques in Sandpoint, Idaho and was spotted for me by the amazing and wonderful MaryAnn Duarte, who has a space there and is also a vendor at The Farm Chicks Show.

The clock was a gift. (Source unknown).

The stools are from Pottery Barn.

The dining room table was built by Antico.

The dining room chairs are from Cost Plus World Market.

The dining room grasscloth bamboo wallpaper came from Wallflowers in Spokane. Unfortunately, I can't remember the brand.

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn't have a website).

A note about my sources: I try and identify my sources as often as possible and love promoting other businesses. My policy is that if I love something or have had a good experience with a product or service, I try to promote it, when possible. Sometimes, I'm disappointed with a product or service and won't provide that source. I understand that thousands of readers visit my blog every day and I realize that if I were to say something negative about a product or source, my opinion could have a negative impact on a business, and that's not what I want. If I don't list a source, it's not because I'm stingy, I just choose to keep it positive here. Thank you for understanding.

*    *    *    *

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

*    *    *    *

November 14, 2011

My Kitchen - Part 5 (Pantry & Built-In)

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When we were working with Nancy on the floor plan, the pantry started out quite large, which in my opinion, can't ever be big enough. (I store all our food in the pantry). Growing up, no matter how small our living space, my mom always had a larder and I really loved those spaces with our home-canned goods and bulk foods all in jars, glistening on the shelves my dad had built by hand. In the design of this home, the pantry was continually downsized to make room for other areas, such as the built-in buffet in the dining room, which sits on the other side of the pantry wall. So, I had to get creative with making more out of the space than was originally intended.

I knew there was some space underneath the stairs leading to the second floor and asked Craig if we could add a bookcase there. Directly behind that wall sits the stairway to the basement, so some adjustments had to be made. Luckily, I came up with the idea while the framing was happening, and Craig was really amazing with making adjustments for me, so it wasn't a big deal.

I talked more about my built-in bookcase here.

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With the new pantry design, I was down to the shelves in the back of the pantry and one interior wall, but I really wanted both walls to be utilized. Staring at the studs that were in place during framing, I came up with the idea to have a can-depth wall to best utilize that space, and once again, Craig was able to make it happen, without altering the dining room built-in on the other side. Now I have a really useful wall for all of my canned goods, and the shelves are all fully adjustable.

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The back wall and opposite side wall are much deeper, so they work well for storing extra serving dishes, glassware, small appliances,

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and my bulk foods.

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And it all sits nicely tucked behind this pretty door. When I was working with Harry on the doors, I asked him to make my pantry door with wavy glass, partly because it's old-fashioned and beautiful, and partly because it obscures the view into the pantry, which I wanted to be able to see into, while not making the contents be the focal point.

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I talked more about my pantry here.

You can read more about my kitchen here:

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5 , Part 6.

You can read all the details about our farmhouse building process here.

Additional Information:

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn't have a website).

My cabinets were custom made by a local cabinet maker.

The ceiling is made of beadboard planks, also known as wainscotting. I talked a lot about it here.

The lights over the island were made from salvaged old schoolhouse globes and new arms. I obtained all of the materials from Revival Lighting in Spokane and they built the lighting as well.

The lights over the sink are from Lowe's.

The flooring is tile that looks like wood. It is manufactured by Daltile. I talked about it here and here. I have received many inquiries regarding the exact wood pattern and the exact name of the Daltile line. Unfortunately, Daltile changes their offerings frequently and although I have contacted the company numerous times, trying to pin down exact information to offer to readers, they have never responded to my requests. My recommendation if you like the look: choose the wood tile that you like best, and find a grout that as closely matches your tile color choice as possible.

My countertops are quartz, manufactured by Zodiaq and the pattern is Bianco Carrara. I talked about it here and here.

The wall tile is all from Dirk Elliot Tile. The best in the world and made right here in Spokane, by our good friends, Dirk and Christina. I talk more about it here and here.

The windows are made by our friends, Burke and Muriel, at VPI windows. They are also manufactured here in Spokane and are the BEST! I talked all about the windows here and here.

The cabinet hardware is from Spokane Hardware, who also have an amazing website (The Hardware Hut) where you can order just about anything your heart desires.

The pantry door (and all the doors in our home) came from Harry at River City Glass in Spokane.

My large glass pantry jars with the glass lids can be found at Target and Wal-Mart in many different sizes.

My small glass pantry jars with the white lids can be found at Wal-Mart. (Better Homes and Gardens canning jars). The plastic lids were purchased separately and are widely available at most grocery stores in the canning section.

My appliances are all Thermador, with the exception of the freezer column which is Bosch, and the microwave which is G.E.

The antique FOODS sign was purchased from Marketplace Antiques in Sandpoint, Idaho and was spotted for me by the amazing and wonderful MaryAnn Duarte, who has a space there and is also a vendor at The Farm Chicks Show.

The clock was a gift. (Source unknown).

The stools are from Pottery Barn.

The dining room table was built by Antico.

The dining room chairs are from Cost Plus World Market.

The dining room grasscloth bamboo wallpaper came from Wallflowers in Spokane. Unfortunately, I can't remember the brand.

A note about my sources: I try and identify my sources as often as possible and love promoting other businesses. My policy is that if I love something or have had a good experience with a product or service, I try to promote it, when possible. Sometimes, I'm disappointed with a product or service and won't provide that source. I understand that thousands of readers visit my blog every day and I realize that if I were to say something negative about a product or source, my opinion could have a negative impact on a business, and that's not what I want. If I don't list a source, it's not because I'm stingy, I just choose to keep it positive here. Thank you for understanding.

*    *    *    *

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

*    *    *    *

November 11, 2011

My Kitchen - Part 4 (Sink & Stove Wall)

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A challenge with my kitchen was the fact that I designed the wall of cabinets, as seen in earlier posts about my kitchen. In doing so, it really made the kitchen lopsided, with the wall of cabinets having a lot of weight, design-wise. What was left to deal with was the wall with the sink and windows, stove and shelf. When I showed my plan to my friend, Dirk (of Dirk Elliot Tile), he pointed out the heavily-sided issue with the wall of cabinets. I knew I wasn't willing to change that wall, so the challenge was how to add weight to the other walls - all without adding upper cabinetry, which I didn't want.

Dirk offered many different design solutions for me to consider. My plan was always to use subway tile and after touring Dirk's tile factory, I was open to using different than normal sizes. One of Dirk's suggestions was to go with smaller subway tiles - two different sizes, and to take them all the way to the ceiling - both of which would give it the much needed weight. I loved that idea.

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He also pointed out that I needed to make my shelf MUCH bigger than I had originally planned, which would also add weight to that side of the wall. (And this is how the Mega Shelf came to be).

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And last of all, he recommended that I add legs of some sort to the cooktop cabinetry, which balanced everything out, gave some heft to the base, and made it feel a bit like a piece of furniture.

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The Mega Shelf has lighting built-in underneath, which is really nice while cooking. The lighting is all accessible by a panel that was built-in for easy access.

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I've had lots of questions about my cooktop and venting.

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To keep the design clean, I opted for a built-in downdraft fan, behind the cooktop. When I need to use it, I simply push a button, and the fan system raises up.

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When I'm done, I just press the button again, and the downdraft lowers back down. I had the same system in my last kitchen and I really love it. The cooktop and downdraft are both by Thermador and they are really wonderful, and really easy to clean which is great, because my boys cook quite often and can be really messy. I also love the burners. Stars!

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I have open shelving beneath the cooktop, which houses my pots and pans. I had the cabinet maker wrap the shelves with stainless steel, to take a beating, and to avoid terrible looking scratched shelves.

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I've talked before about the built-in cutting board located near the cooktop.

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It is so handy for chopping and scraping the scraps straight into the compost bin below. The day I met with the cabinet maker to talk about this feature, I had asked Colin to join me, which turned out to be a great thing. When he saw what I was asking for with the drawer, he came up with the idea for it to be spring loaded. So, to open the drawer, all I have to do is give it a slight push and it pops out, which is so convenient when I have a handful of veggies and have forgotten to pull out the drawer first. The board is maple and studies have proven that maple is highly resistant to bacteria - much more so than plastic or other cutting board surfaces that are out there. (I only use the board for veggies, and wipe it down when I'm done). The chute is lined with a PVC sort of pipe.

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I plan on growing herbs on the window sills throughout the winter.

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An idea from my friend Christina was to use stone for the sills. I loved the thought of it, as I've ruined many sills in the past with water marks from planters. When I ordered the countertops, I ordered the sills as well, in the same material. Mike, our finish carpenter, asked me to provide him with a sample of the stone material so that he could build the windows to fit perfectly. Unfortunately, the countertop contractor gave me the salesman's sample, not the actual building material sample and the measurements were all off. After much ado, the countertop contractor adjusted the sills to fit what Mike had built, as it was their error.

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I talk a lot about how much I love texture in design, and although my kitchen is very white, there is a lot of depth to it, thanks to the textures we incorporated. From the beadboard ceiling to the crown moulding to the tile.

When Dirk was sketching tile layout options, I fell in love with a design that sort of mimicked a basket weave, which was a perfect transition from the dining room grasscloth wallpaper to the kitchen.

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It's important to acknowledge that my kitchen would not be half as wonderful if it wasn't for our friends, Dirk and Christina, who spent so much time and effort in helping me with a lot of the design. Their eye for detail is amazing, and I'm incredibly thankful for their help.

You can read more about my kitchen here:

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5 , Part 6.

You can read all the details about our farmhouse building process here.

Additional Information:

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn't have a website).

My cabinets were custom made by a local cabinet maker.

The ceiling is made of beadboard planks, also known as wainscotting. I talked a lot about it here.

The lights over the island were made from salvaged old schoolhouse globes and new arms. I obtained all of the materials from Revival Lighting in Spokane and they built the lighting as well.

The lights over the sink are from Lowe's.

The flooring is tile that looks like wood. It is manufactured by Daltile. I talked about it here and here. I have received many inquiries regarding the exact wood pattern and the exact name of the Daltile line. Unfortunately, Daltile changes their offerings frequently and although I have contacted the company numerous times, trying to pin down exact information to offer to readers, they have never responded to my requests. My recommendation if you like the look: choose the wood tile that you like best, and find a grout that as closely matches your tile color choice as possible.

My countertops are quartz, manufactured by Zodiaq and the pattern is Bianco Carrara. I talked about it here and here.

The wall tile is all from Dirk Elliot Tile. The best in the world and made right here in Spokane, by our good friends, Dirk and Christina. I talk more about it here and here.

The windows are made by our friends, Burke and Muriel, at VPI windows. They are also manufactured here in Spokane and are the BEST! I talked all about the windows here and here.

The cabinet hardware is from Spokane Hardware, who also have an amazing website (The Hardware Hut) where you can order just about anything your heart desires.

The pantry door (and all the doors in our home) came from Harry at River City Glass in Spokane.

My large glass pantry jars with the glass lids can be found at Target and Wal-Mart in many different sizes.

My small glass pantry jars with the white lids can be found at Wal-Mart. (Better Homes and Gardens canning jars). The plastic lids were purchased separately and are widely available at most grocery stores in the canning section.

My appliances are all Thermador, with the exception of the freezer column which is Bosch, and the microwave which is G.E.

The antique FOODS sign was purchased from Marketplace Antiques in Sandpoint, Idaho and was spotted for me by the amazing and wonderful MaryAnn Duarte, who has a space there and is also a vendor at The Farm Chicks Show.

The clock was a gift. (Source unknown).

The stools are from Pottery Barn.

The dining room table was built by Antico.

The dining room chairs are from Cost Plus World Market.

The dining room grasscloth bamboo wallpaper came from Wallflowers in Spokane. Unfortunately, I can't remember the brand.

A note about my sources: I try and identify my sources as often as possible and love promoting other businesses. My policy is that if I love something or have had a good experience with a product or service, I try to promote it, when possible. Sometimes, I'm disappointed with a product or service and won't provide that source. I understand that thousands of readers visit my blog every day and I realize that if I were to say something negative about a product or source, my opinion could have a negative impact on a business, and that's not what I want. If I don't list a source, it's not because I'm stingy, I just choose to keep it positive here. Thank you for understanding.

*    *    *    *

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

*    *    *    *

November 09, 2011

My Kitchen - Part 3 (The Island)

I have an affinity for kitchen islands. When my dad built our first home, we had a huge old chopping block that held center stage in the kitchen and I used it often. It sort of set the need for one in my mind.

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The island was originally designed to be much larger, but it meant having it be a non-square shape, to conform to the layout of the kitchen, which I really didn't like. I have a real love of clean lines and think that they are much more classic in style. If the island weren't square, I think it would scream 2012 and I wanted it to just be timeless.

And speaking of timeless, the island is flat, rather than having an elevated bar for the seating area. That just doesn't match my style, and is too trendy for me.

I do all of my food prep on the island, and my favorite function of the space is that it is my baking center. The six drawers on the left hold my flours, sugars, spices, and baking utensils, such as measuring cups, sifters, cookie cutters, etc. (Nearly identical to the layout of the island I designed in my last kitchen. You can see it here.) The center bin is a second garbage bin and a recycling bin behind that. It's really handy to be able to scrape flour, etc, right off of the counter and into the garbage.) And under the microwave, is a large drawer for holding tupperware, rubbermaid, and glassware used for leftovers and lunches.

To utilize the back-end of the island space, I added in cupboards on both sides to house my baking sheets and cooling racks on one side and chopping boards on the other. I also made sure that I can control the island lighting from both ends, and have plug-ins there as well. But my FAVORITE feature of the island is the little gadget at the base. It functions as a vacuum. So when I'm sweeping in the kitchen, I can just sweep right into that space (activated by flipping the switch seen to the right with my foot) and it goes straight into the central vac.

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The base of the baking sheet cabinets are plastic, so they won't look like terrible scratched paint over time.

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I used some design restraint with the seating side of the island. Originally, I had planned on using beadboard on that side, but decided I wanted to keep the beadboard to the ceiling alone and not over-do it. I'm really happy with the classic framed approach that I took instead.

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I ended up putting the microwave in the island, and I like that it's something that's only seen when working in the kitchen. I also chose not to have it built-in and super fancy, as the microwave just isn't important to me and I didn't want to make it look like it is. I kept it simple and I like that.

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Design Note:

The structure of the island is six feet wide by three feet deep. (The counter adds about an inch all around and the seating area has about 11 more inches of counter, making the total depth of the island four feet).

You can read more about my kitchen here:

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5 , Part 6.

You can read all the details about our farmhouse building process here.

Additional Information:

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn't have a website).

My cabinets were custom made by a local cabinet maker.

The ceiling is made of beadboard planks, also known as wainscotting. I talked a lot about it here.

The lights over the island were made from salvaged old schoolhouse globes and new arms. I obtained all of the materials from Revival Lighting in Spokane and they built the lighting as well.

The lights over the sink are from Lowe's.

The flooring is tile that looks like wood. It is manufactured by Daltile. I talked about it here and here. I have received many inquiries regarding the exact wood pattern and the exact name of the Daltile line. Unfortunately, Daltile changes their offerings frequently and although I have contacted the company numerous times, trying to pin down exact information to offer to readers, they have never responded to my requests. My recommendation if you like the look: choose the wood tile that you like best, and find a grout that as closely matches your tile color choice as possible.

My countertops are quartz, manufactured by Zodiaq and the pattern is Bianco Carrara. I talked about it here and here.

The wall tile is all from Dirk Elliot Tile. The best in the world and made right here in Spokane, by our good friends, Dirk and Christina. I talk more about it here and here.

The windows are made by our friends, Burke and Muriel, at VPI windows. They are also manufactured here in Spokane and are the BEST! I talked all about the windows here and here.

The cabinet hardware is from Spokane Hardware, who also have an amazing website (The Hardware Hut) where you can order just about anything your heart desires.

The pantry door (and all the doors in our home) came from Harry at River City Glass in Spokane.

My large glass pantry jars with the glass lids can be found at Target and Wal-Mart in many different sizes.

My small glass pantry jars with the white lids can be found at Wal-Mart. (Better Homes and Gardens canning jars). The plastic lids were purchased separately and are widely available at most grocery stores in the canning section.

My appliances are all Thermador, with the exception of the freezer column which is Bosch, and the microwave which is G.E.

The antique FOODS sign was purchased from Marketplace Antiques in Sandpoint, Idaho and was spotted for me by the amazing and wonderful MaryAnn Duarte, who has a space there and is also a vendor at The Farm Chicks Show.

The clock was a gift. (Source unknown).

The stools are from Pottery Barn.

The dining room table was built by Antico.

The dining room chairs are from Cost Plus World Market.

The dining room grasscloth bamboo wallpaper came from Wallflowers in Spokane. Unfortunately, I can't remember the brand.

A note about my sources: I try and identify my sources as often as possible and love promoting other businesses. My policy is that if I love something or have had a good experience with a product or service, I try to promote it, when possible. Sometimes, I'm disappointed with a product or service and won't provide that source. I understand that thousands of readers visit my blog every day and I realize that if I were to say something negative about a product or source, my opinion could have a negative impact on a business, and that's not what I want. If I don't list a source, it's not because I'm stingy, I just choose to keep it positive here. Thank you for understanding.

*    *    *    *

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

*    *    *    *

November 06, 2011

My Kitchen - Part 2 (Wall of Cabinets)

A while back, I shared all about what went into planning my kitchen and experienced a huge amount of interest in my cutting board drawer. The drawer post was also shared on lots of other websites where some readers wondered about the possibility of the drawer being unclean or unsanitary.

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Today, I thought I'd share a bit more about this drawer that has created so much chatter.

  • First of all, it's not an unclean surface. Maple is an excellent cutting surface because it's very dense, but also because it is naturally highly resistant to bacteria.
  • I NEVER cut meat on this cutting board. It's used for veggies.
  • There's more to the drawer than I thought to share the first time around.

The cutting board isn't attached to the drawer. In fact, it easily lifts right out of the drawer.

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I can take it so the sink and give it a good scrub whenever I need to.

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A good shot of the bottom of the cutting board, showing the framework that keeps it perfectly situated in the drawer. It doesn't move a  bit, when set in place. And it's nice that I have access to the tube so I can give that a good scrub whenever I need to as well.

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We've been using the cutting board drawer for about three years now and really love it. The boys use it constantly and it's really easy for them to clean. I'm really glad we included it in our kitchen.

You can read more about my cutting board drawer here.

You can read more about my kitchen here: Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5 , Part 6.

You can read all the details about our farmhouse building process here.

>>>><<<<

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there as: thefarmchicks

>>>><<<<

November 03, 2011

My Kitchen - Part 1

Many of you journeyed along with my family and me as we built our new home. (If not, you can read all about it here). The whole experience was actually pretty enjoyable. Of all the emails I receive, one of the most requested things I hear is to see my completed kitchen. So over the next while, I'll be focusing on just that, and walking you through the choices I made.

But before you see the completed project, here's a look at it, under construction. Here the sheetrock has all been installed, and walls painted:

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And here it is with the beadboard ceiling now installed, cabinets in place and crown moulding in:

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And here we are today. Welcome to my kitchen. Yes, I love white. I find it calming and warm, when combined with the right touches.

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Much of the kitchen plan really revolved around the big beautiful farm sink. Because of the sink's high back, the windows needed to be higher than normal. The sink is also really wide - about 4 feet - so it takes up a lot of real estate. And when I laid it all out in my mind, I just couldn't see upper cabinets fitting in to my plan. So, I skipped uppers all together. Instead, I have the full wall of cabinets surrounding the wall ovens and fridge and on the opposite wall...

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...sits what the building crew named The MEGA SHELF and the cooktop. The shelf is my area to do seasonal displays or showcase my favorite artwork at the moment.

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Tomorrow I will begin taking you through the different areas of my kitchen and talk about the design and mindset that went into each one.

Thank you for visiting, at long last!

You can read more about my kitchen here:

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5 , Part 6.

You can read all the details about our farmhouse building process here.

Additional Information:

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn't have a website).

My cabinets were custom made by a local cabinet maker.

The ceiling is made of beadboard planks, also known as wainscotting. I talked a lot about it here.

The lights over the island were made from salvaged old schoolhouse globes and new arms. I obtained all of the materials from Revival Lighting in Spokane and they built the lighting as well.

The lights over the sink are from Lowe's.

The flooring is tile that looks like wood. It is manufactured by Daltile. I talked about it here and here. I have received many inquiries regarding the exact wood pattern and the exact name of the Daltile line. Unfortunately, Daltile changes their offerings frequently and although I have contacted the company numerous times, trying to pin down exact information to offer to readers, they have never responded to my requests. My recommendation if you like the look: choose the wood tile that you like best, and find a grout that as closely matches your tile color choice as possible.

My countertops are quartz, manufactured by Zodiaq and the pattern is Bianco Carrara. I talked about it here and here.

The wall tile is all from Dirk Elliot Tile. The best in the world and made right here in Spokane, by our good friends, Dirk and Christina. I talk more about it here and here.

The windows are made by our friends, Burke and Muriel, at VPI windows. They are also manufactured here in Spokane and are the BEST! I talked all about the windows here and here.

The cabinet hardware is from Spokane Hardware, who also have an amazing website (The Hardware Hut) where you can order just about anything your heart desires.

The pantry door (and all the doors in our home) came from Harry at River City Glass in Spokane.

My large glass pantry jars with the glass lids can be found at Target and Wal-Mart in many different sizes.

My small glass pantry jars with the white lids can be found at Wal-Mart. (Better Homes and Gardens canning jars). The plastic lids were purchased separately and are widely available at most grocery stores in the canning section.

My appliances are all Thermador, with the exception of the freezer column which is Bosch, and the microwave which is G.E.

The antique FOODS sign was purchased from Marketplace Antiques in Sandpoint, Idaho and was spotted for me by the amazing and wonderful MaryAnn Duarte, who has a space there and is also a vendor at The Farm Chicks Show.

The clock was a gift. (Source unknown).

The stools are from Pottery Barn.

The dining room table was built by Antico.

The dining room chairs are from Cost Plus World Market.

The dining room grasscloth bamboo wallpaper came from Wallflowers in Spokane. Unfortunately, I can't remember the brand.

A note about my sources: I try and identify my sources as often as possible and love promoting other businesses. My policy is that if I love something or have had a good experience with a product or service, I try to promote it, when possible. Sometimes, I'm disappointed with a product or service and won't provide that source. I understand that thousands of readers visit my blog every day and I realize that if I were to say something negative about a product or source, my opinion could have a negative impact on a business, and that's not what I want. If I don't list a source, it's not because I'm stingy, I just choose to keep it positive here. Thank you for understanding.

>>>><<<<

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there, Username: thefarmchicks

>>>><<<<

 

October 13, 2011

A Pumpkin Here, A Pumpkin There

Want to know the quickest way to cheer up your house for the season? Tuck pumpkins here and there.

A bookend:

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A chandelier:

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A coatrack:

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The kitchen:

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A little or a lot.

Hooray for pumpkins!

*    *    *    *

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

*    *    *    *

October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Treatstands

A fun, quick, and easy way to display your seasonal treats is on stands. I happen to own LOTS of cakestands, but thought it would be fun to make some specific to the season. With pumpkins and paper plates.

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I've found an abundance of little pumpkins left in the field from the pickers, who accidentally broke off their stems. Once the stems are gone, they're not really desirable to most people buying pumpkins, so there they sit - all broken hearted. In an attempt to rescue these orphaned pumpkins, I've discovered they're great for stacking on each other for decoration and for these cute little stands.

Step 1.) Start with a mini pumpkin. If your pumpkin has a stem, cut it or break it off:

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Step 2.) Hot glue a paper plate atop the pumpkin. I've used a small salad-sized plate here, as the pumpkin is small:

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This pumpkin is slightly larger, so I've used a dinner-sized plate here:

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Step 3.) Fill plate with treats:

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or stack the stands two high for double the treats - double the fun:

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And there you have it. Changing the world - one pumpkin at a time. :)

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October 11, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Sippers

Cooler autumn weather calls for warm cupfuls of deliciousness. These sippers incorporate what's best about the season - pumpkin and pie-like spices. And yes, they're beyond delicious!

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Spiced Pumpkin Sippers

4 cups whole milk

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and whisk together over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until hot. Ladle into mugs. Optional: Drizzle with whipped cream that has been softly whipped and sprinkle with ground nutmeg.

Serve hot.

Tips:

If you prefer a less sweet drink, you can reduce the sugar by half.

These sippers are a great drink to serve to guests. To ease the work at party time, prepare the recipe in advance and refrigerate until ready to use.

Keep a crockpot full of the mixture to serve warm throughout your gathering.

Or, drink it one cupful at a time, simply reheating in the microwave.

Y-U-M !

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October 10, 2011

The Miniest Pumpkin

IMG_9520 Hello! Welcome to Pumpkin Week! This week I'll be sharing pumpkin inspiration with you. Decorating, celebrating, and baking. It'll be fun!

Today let me tell you about this cute little pumpkin - the miniest of them all.

Isn't it adorable?

It's actually not a pumpkin at all, but a cute little seed pod called a Putka Pod.

These little pumpkin look-a-likes have so many decorative uses around the home - today I'll show you two ways.

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Our Realtor, Jack, stopped by to see our new house and brought me some beautiful fall mums. So I took out a little galvanized tub, some fabric, and putka pods to make a happy fall arrangement.

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1.) I removed the wrapping from the mums, saving the elastic band.

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2.) I re-wrapped the mum with fabric and attached it with the elastic string I had saved.

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3.) I placed the plant in the tub and surrounded it with the pods. They just add that extra bit of Autumn cheer.

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Now, how about some tea? Tea to celebrate the season. How should we serve it to our guests?

Let's start with this great little wooden box:

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Line with Putka Pods, and fill with tea bags, spoons, and sugar:

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So simple and festive.

Tips:

Putka Pods can be found in craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby, or online.

The pods are pretty delicate. They can last for several seasons, if handled with care. Once you're done with them for the season, seal in a ziploc bag or sealed container. Keep away from an area where there may be mice, as mice love seeds and pods.

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October 02, 2011

The Party Table

I was having a party but my table needed some harvest splendor. Ho hum.

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So I went out and found some

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and brought that splendor in and washed it all up.

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Then I began to pretty up the table.

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But it wasn't quite enough so I added some more.

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And then I decided to just get carried away

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because the harvest comes but once a year.

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P.S. Just in case you wondered where warts come from...

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hee hee.

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September 21, 2011

Tomatoes and Harvest Prep

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My tomatoes are going like gang-busters right now, and I'm obsessed with keeping up with the pickings. I can't stand the thought of any going to waste.

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This weekend I did lots of harvesting and am slowly putting each garden bed to rest for the winter as each one is picked out. Good night, snap peas. Good night, edamame. Good night, corn.

While I was harvesting, Colin was doing manly things, like protecting our new trees from the deer. Did you know deer love to mash their antlers against tree bark in the fall? If you don't protect new trees, they'll surely die. Colin likes to use chicken wire to wrap the bark because it's not really noticeable, which just looks a bit nicer in the yard.

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I think that canning tomatoes is kind of unnecessary, because freezing is just so much handier (and keeps the nutritional value much higher because it's not all cooked out during the canning process). To process, I simply chop up the tomatoes (not necessary to chop the cherry tomatoes) and blend them up in my cuisinart. Then I place the mixture in a freezer bag (about 2-3 cups in each) and freeze for use in fresh tomato sauce (or soups, etc.) throughout the winter.

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For a very simple, yet fresh and summery tasting sauce, heat fresh garlic and olive oil in a saucepan just until the garlic is aromatic. Add in the frozen tomatoes (frozen or thawed is fine) and cook just until heated. Season with basil and salt and serve with pasta.

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Tip: Skinning the tomatoes before processing is completely unnecessary here, as the skins are blended up and are not noticeable when eaten.

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September 13, 2011

Lunch for One

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I love the days when I actually take a few minutes to make myself a good lunch, especially one that comes, in part, from my garden.

Polenta with Swiss Chard and Egg

Prepare one serving of polenta*, salting to taste

While polenta cooks, wash, chop and quickly fry a big handful of swiss chard over high heat. (Don't overcook the chard, you just want it to wilt and soften a bit).

Pour hot polenta onto your plate, top with swiss chard.

Fry an egg to your liking (I like over-easy), salt and pepper to taste, and add to the polenta and chard.

Garnish with fresh cilantro or any herb you like.

Enjoy!

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August 29, 2011

Harvest

I've been out in the garden every evening, watching the sun slowly cast a ruby glow over the pumpkin fields before softly slipping away for the night.

The air feels smooth and dreamlike.

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Tonight I gathered a bunch of blushing beets.

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My harvest inspires me. The textures. The colors. The bounty.

Summer's last stand.

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August 19, 2011

Camp Tray

Re-purposing old objects into darling little trays is fun! My friend, Teri, and I found these old trail markers one summer and knew they'd be perfect for just that.

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To make your own, search for any thick old wooden signs or boards that fit your style. Then choose sturdy handles - new or old, either will do - and screws for affixing them to your wooden sign/board.

Here's what to do:

1. Thoroughly clean the sign with a scrub brush and warm sudsy water.

2. Let dry. Sand any rough spots if necessary.

3. Place the handles on the sign, marking the holes for the screws with a pencil. Remove the handles and drill-start the holes for the screws.

4. Reposition the handles and screw them on.

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Images: John Granen, from my book: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen. To purchase, click here.

P.S. If you already have a copy of the book, I'd love it if you could provide a review here.

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August 18, 2011

Sour Cream and Onion Zucchini Cakes

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With zucchini in abundance this time of year, these tasty bites are a fun new way to put the veggie to good use. (This recipe is from my first book, The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen and is shown here with another recipe from the book, Tangy Cucumber Cups).

Sour Cream & Onion Zucchini Cakes

2 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium zucchini)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for coating cakes

3/4 cup Japanese style panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

Sour cream, for serving (about 1/2 cup)

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Place the grated zucchini on a paper towel-lined plate and let sit for an hour; occasionally change the paper towel.

With your hands, transfer the zucchini to a medium-size bowl, tightly squeezing as you do so to remove as much liquid as possible. Add the egg, the 2 tablespoons flour, bread crumbs, onion, salt, and pepper; mix to combine.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup flour on a plate. Add enough oil to a medium-size skillet to be 1/8-inch deep; heat over meium-high heat until hot. Meanwhile, formthe zucchini mixture into tiny (2-inch) bite-sized cakes. Working in three batches, pat each side of each cake in the flour and place in the hot skillet. Fry on each side until golden brown - 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Arrange the cakes on a serving plate, top each with a dollop of sour cream, and sprinkle with chives. Serve warm.

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Sources:

Fabric on tray and fabric on apron: Sandi Henderson. (You can purchase her super wonderful fabrics here).

Butter Pats: Vintage (Purchased from The Vintage Rabbit).

Image: John Granen, from my book: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen. To purchase, click here.

P.S. If you already have a copy of the book, I'd love it if you could provide a review here.

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