Saturday, June 30, 2012

Little House on the Prairie: For the Love of Quilts

"There was no door and there were no windows.  There was no floor except the ground and no roof except the canvas.  But that house had good stout walls, and it would stay where it was. . . . Pa hung a quilt over the door hole.  The quilt would be better than no door."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

I just know that somewhere deep inside of me there is an excellent quilter waiting to get out.  However, every time I try to get in touch with my "patchwork" side, I create an embarrassing display of calico and stitches that looks as though I took a stab at piecing fabric together while under the influence of alcohol and a snug blindfold.  Making quilts: it's not my gift.  But I love them all the same.  Today I thought I would share some quilts with you in celebration of just how charming and versatile these textile treasures can be . . .

I was in a neighboring town when I passed by this adorable quilt shop store front.  I looked like a crazy woman as I swerved the curb, took a few snaps with my handy camera, and then stood for a moment and sighed happily at both of those American quilts.  Aren't they lovely!?  

Quilts can take any bed from being "sleepy" to being "dreamy" . . .

{via Southern Living}

 {via Sarah Richardson Design}

{via Tumblr}

 But they are equally lovely on display outside of the bedroom, whether on racks . . .

 {via Pottery Barn}

 or in armoires.

{via Pinterest}

Quilts aren't just beautiful; they are practical, too.  You can use them as headboards . . . 

{via All People Quilt} 

as pillows . . .

 {via All People Quilt}

as chair pads . . .

 {via All People Quilt}

as picnic blankets . . .
{via Red Brolly}

{via Country Living}

or as wall art.

 {via All People Quilt}

 {via Sarah Richardson Design}

Quilts can also inspire a world of ideas throughout your house, from graphic art design . . .
 {via Red Brolly}

to patterned floors.

Even if you are a miserable quilter like me, I hope you'll still put your quilts on display.  There is magic in it.  Quilts can make any "little house" feel more like a "home."  Happy homemaking to you all . . .

Sharing at . . .
Wow Us Wednesdays @ Savvy Southern Style


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Little House on the Prairie: Rustic Bread

"With yeast cakes, Ma set the sponge for light bread that night, and she put the dried apples to soak for pies."
- The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder

I get a bee in my bonnet sometimes to find "THE ULTIMATE..." cupcake, pie crust, etc. etc. A few years ago, rustic bread became my quest. And you know what? Most of those recipes are horrible!!! Not because they make horrible bread; they make amazing bread. But they take too much effort for one loaf. And this is coming from someone who really really loves her bread. So after weeks of heating up my house, baking on stones, spritzing water into 500 degree ovens, I threw up my hands in defeat. Not worth it. Not worth it at all. Until now....

This bread is MAGIC! It requires no kneading (I usually use a stand mixer anyways, so it was no big deal to me either way,) but the magic truly lies in the outcome: airy, soft, chewy bread surrounded in that buttery crunchy crust that is completely irresistible. I cannot tell you enough about how much I love this bread (And I swear by my thighs: I know bread.) The one negative is that you have to plan a day ahead. It is "18 hour bread," after all. But roughly 17.75 hours of that title are consumed in you sleeping, eating breakfast, etc. So here is the link to the recipe from the New York Times & Sullivan Street Bakery:

 Try it with some butter and homemade apple butter.

I should have never doubted Erika's second son. For some reason we were discussing this bread a while back (before I tried it), and he spoke of it in very reverent tones, assuring me of its magical qualities. I think if there is any bread in this world that commands that kind of awe in a ten year old boy, it is worth a try.

As a note, I do not own one of those fancy cast iron pots; Le creuset has failed to show up at any of the garage sales I frequent. So I used a cast iron skillet and domed foil around it for the first 30 mins, and removed it afterward. It worked like a charm. You can also use a dutch oven if you have one of those collecting dust in the garage. 
Also, I used bread flour :)
Happy eating!!!

Sharing at . . .

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Little House on the Prairie: A Doggone Bathroom for Boys

"Laura knew that wolves would eat little girls.  But she was safe inside the solid log walls.  Her father's gun hung over the door and good old Jack, the brindle bulldog, lay on guard before it.  Her father would say: 'Go to sleep, Laura.  Jack won't let the wolves in.'  So Laura snuggled under the covers of the trundle bed, close beside Mary, and went to sleep."

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

We have a dog, but she's nothing like Jack the bulldog.  She's a black lab, her name is Sascha, and she would let anything into our home---especially wolves---as long as they patted her first.  She is 13 years old now, and it took her 12 of those years, some cataracts, and acute arthritis to stop jumping up on people.  Yes, most of Sascha's misbehavior is my own fault.  I'm no dog whisperer, after all.  What matters is that the boys adore her, and she adores them.

A few months ago, Sascha had a massive seizure.  We took her to the vet who looked at her test results and explained that our sweet old dog had a brain tumor.  At her age, surgery isn't a viable option, either financially or practically as the doctor didn't see her making it through the operation.  So we bundled our brown-eyed girl into the car and brought her home to die.  

For the next few days, the entire family kept vigil at her side.  The boys drew her pictures and read her stories.  My husband sat next to her on the floor, stroked her fur, and talked to her in the voice he uses with babies.  As for me, I didn't quite know how to make peace with the animal who had dug up my hydrangeas on a regular basis, who would sneak food off of my dining table, and who dragged me behind her on a leash for all of those years.  In the end, I sat down next to her in the laundry room and told her how much I appreciated her being my children's beloved dog.  In that quiet moment, I realized that she and I shared a common purpose: to mother and protect a houseful of boys.  I then proceeded to blubber and spill my heart out to a dog who really just needed to sleep.  But at least I had made my peace.  We prepared ourselves for the possibility that our dog wouldn't make it through the night.

Well, that was months ago and Sascha seems to have stolen a sip from the fountain of youth.  (We like to think that God heard at least one of the 3.7 bazillion prayers that my children offered up in Sascha's behalf.)  Yesterday, she escaped from the yard and we found her in an obliging field where she was chasing insects.  I'm not sure how long our dog will be with us, but in honor of her and her eventual memory, I redecorated my little boys' bathroom in a dog-friendly theme.   
Here is the before and after.  Before, the room was serene bordering on boring---not quite the right feel for busy and energetic boys.  After, it is a fun-filled room that's perfect for kids of the "snips and snails and puppy dog tails" variety.

I found this adorable print at TJ Maxx and used it as the inspiration for the room.  In a pinch for cash, I opted to put this red basket on the wall as convenient toilet paper storage above the toilet in lieu of shelves.

I sewed a wide-striped shower curtain to mimic the scarf on the dog in the inspiration print.  I love the fresh, happy feel it brings to the room.  The letters above the shower were on clearance at a local arts and crafts store.  I wanted to spell the word "Splash" or "Bath," but they were fresh out of the letter "H."  I had to settle with the word "Soap."  (Never a bad reminder for little boys . . . )

I found this hardware for a steal at Hobby Lobby and knew it had to go on the cabinets.

I spruced up the brass light fixture with a few layers of black spray paint.

I couldn't pass up this adorable piece of vintage looking hardware.  I thought it would be the perfect hand towel holder to the right of the sink.

A few fresh towels, a budget rug, and another fun dog print later, and we have a whole new bathroom.  It has such a fun vibe that I almost don't mind scrubbing the toilet in there . . . almost.

Project Budget

Shower Curtain Fabric and Rings  $25
Decorative Hardware/Towel Holder  $13
Art Prints   $19
Basket  $4
Towels  $10
Letters  $8
Rug  $7

A whole new bathroom for $86 . . . Now that's a doggone deal if you ask me.  Sascha will probably outlive the life of this bathroom, but for now, it's a happy little reminder of man's best friend.

Sharing at these lovely parties . . .

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Little House on the Prairie: Flapjacks and Syrup

 "There is a big bonfire under the kettle, and the sap boils, and Grandpa watches it carefully.  The fire must be hot enough to keep the sap boiling, but not hot enough to make it boil over. . . . When the sap has boiled down just enough, he fills the buckets with the syrup."
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

I've always found it ironic that Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest because I can't think of a busier day around here.  Take today, for instance.  I woke up, watered the garden, bathed the children, made a bottle for the baby, ironed some clothes, edited a document for my son on the computer, combed through the mismatched sock basket in hopes of finding anything other than soccer socks for my kids to put on their feet, rotated a load of laundry, made breakfast, fed the dog, checked email, and cleaned some mysterious substance off of the kitchen floor.  Day of rest?  Hardly.  And that was all before our exodus to morning church where I spent my time wrangling a toddler between the pews.  I thought marshmallows and crayons would keep him happy.  Boy, was I wrong.

Rather than thinking of Sunday as a day of traditional "rest" (like sitting, lounging, napping, and/or enjoying a quiet house full of well-behaved children and other things that never happen), I like to think of Sunday as a day to do the "rest" of the things that I don't always have time for during the week: playing board games with my little ones, writing letters, taking night walks, looking at old picture albums, making cookies, reading magazines, and forcing my kids to watch movies from my childhood.  (Last Sunday I made them watch Disney's Candleshoe.  Jeepers, I love that movie.)

Sunday has also become our family's day of "rest" from traditional lunchtime fare.  Instead of serving my children a well-balanced meal that would make the food pyramid proud, I break out the skillet and the saucepan and we push our blood sugars to the limit with tall stacks of pancakes smothered with warm syrup.  No, it's not the healthiest lunch, but my kids love it.  And after all, it only happens once a week.  

Miriam and I wanted to share with you some of our most beloved Sunday recipes, including our mom's light and moist pancakes, a sweet and fresh strawberry syrup, and that holy grail of all pancake toppings---buttermilk syrup.  After one taste of this syrup, you'll start finding new things to put it on, including cake, ice cream, and anything that isn't moving.  I've never met anyone who didn't LOVE this syrup.  Beware, if you cook up a batch, your family will not only want a spoonful more, they'll want the "rest" of it.  And if that isn't an appropriate food for Sunday, then I don't know what is . . .

Our Ma's Pancakes
By BeBookBound

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk

Whisk all dry ingredients into a bowl. Throw all the wet ingredients in an whisk for about 10 seconds. Pour onto a 350-375 degree griddle, flip em, and eat!

Syrup becomes even more magical when kids can ladle it out themselves from individual jars.  I found this little caddy on a lonely shelf in a last chance store.  It was supposed to hold candles, but I've found it works just as well, if not better, for pancake syrups.  Besides, who can resist that "Little House" charm of chicken wire, especially when accompanied with homespun syrup labels?

Strawberry Syrup
By BeBookBound

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 1/2 cups strawberry puree

Heat the water and sugar til dissolved, add the strawberries. Bring to a gentle boil (Watch, because BELIEVE ME, it can boil over and make a sticky mess!) and let cook for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold :)

Buttermilk Syrup
By BeBookBound

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place butter, sugar, and buttermilk in a large saucepan and heat on low until butter melts.  Stir occasionally to dissolve sugar.  Once butter is dissolved, bring to a boil and add baking soda.  (The baking soda will make the syrup expand and become frothy for a while.  Don't panic!  It will boil down after a few minutes).  Let syrup boil on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Continue to stir so syrup doesn't burn on sides of the pan.  After 5 minutes, remove from heat and add vanilla.  Enjoy!

Many "rest" full moments to you and yours this Sunday!

Sharing with . . .
On the Menu Monday @ StoneGable
Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Cowgirl Up Linky Party @ Cedar Hill Ranch
Mopping It Up Party @ I Should Be Mopping the Floor
Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl Creative
Tip Me Tuesday @ Tip Junkie
Tips and Tutorials @ Home Stories A to Z
Tabletop Tuesday @ A Stroll Thru Life 
Home and Garden Thursday @ A Delightsome Life

Friday, June 22, 2012

Little House on the Prairie: A Rustic Arts and Crafts Nook for Kids

"Ma untied the handkerchief and exclaimed at what she found.  The beads were even prettier than they had been in the Indian camp. . . . She poured Mary's beads into Mary's hands and Laura's beads into Laura's hands, and she said she would give them a thread to string them on. . . . Each wet her end of the thread in her mouth and twisted it tightly.  Then Mary put her end of the thread through the small hole in each of the beads, and Laura put her end through her beads, one by one."  

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

As promised earlier, I thought I would share another one of my favorite Parade of Homes spaces:  
an unexpected little arts and crafts nook for children.  

{Interior Design by Maryann Mathison}

This nook is happily situated in a basement underneath the staircase---a great way to use the space, especially seeing as I use mine as a mating ground for spiders and dust bunnies.  

The little nook is anchored by this fun, distressed desk.  Its sheet metal top is not only user-friendly (can you say "finger paint"?), but it is also the perfect compliment to the rustic drawers.

My heart swoons over this adorable, rustic apothecary-style shelf.  
It reminds me of everything I love about old school houses and mercantile stores.

I get a huge case of "container love" every time I look at this picture.

These practical baskets help keep books and paper organized and off of the floor.  I'm thinking these just might be the answer to the LONG list of library fines we have around here for books that no one can seem to find.  (Then again, I haven't looked for them under the stairs.  The spiders and dust bunnies just might be using their pages for intellectual betterment.)

Cute cork board spotlighted by an even cuter sconce.

These simple buckets take on a whole new life with the stenciled numbers on the front.  
Such a small thing with such a big impact.

These cracker jars are the perfect size for displaying and storing colorful crayons and pencils.  As a bonus, the see-through glass allows kids to find the right color of utensil WITHOUT having to dump the entire container on the counter. (Please refer to my current kitchen countertop.)

Three cheers for kids, creativity, and beautiful spaces that bring the two together!

Sharing with . . .
Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Weekend Wrap-Up Party at Tatertots and Jello 
Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now 
Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little House on the Prairie: A Vintage Bedroom for Little Girls

"Bedtime for little girls!" Ma said cheerfully.  Not even Baby Carrie was sleepy yet, but Ma took them all into the house.  She told Mary and Laura to get to bed, and she put Baby Carrie's little nightgown on and laid her in the big bed."

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

The middle of June is sacred around here.  It's not a religious holiday, but it might as well be:  It's the Parade of Homes.  When I try to describe my love for this observance to my husband, his eyes blink with fear as he imagines all the projects I'll have for him to "help" with when I finish my tour.  I know several women who don't enjoy "parading" because it makes them dissatisfied with their own homes.  I couldn't feel more differently.  I delight in thoughtful floor plans, delightful decorating, posh living, and the fact that at the end of the day, I don't have to clean their thousands of square feet or pay for it.  It's vicarious living at its best.

Yesterday I saw a room that made my heart stop in its tracks.  I have sons, not daughters, but when I showed my boys the pictures of the room, even my 11-year-old said, "Oh, Mom.  That's the girls' room of your heart, isn't it?"  Yes, son.  Yes it is.  Every girl needs a room like this, whether they are six or sixty, living in a castle or in a house on a prairie.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did . . .  

{Interior Design by Maryann Mathison}

Here is a view of the beds as you enter the door.  I would call this room "shabby chic," but the term doesn't seem to do it justice.  I like to think of it as "sentimental with vintage elegance."

I love the smooth crystal of the chandelier against the rough slats of the shutters.  
The perfect contrast.

Here is an adorable little message center for the girls hung at their height.  
And the mini dress form is about as cute as it gets.

The framed and painted door is such a simple touch, but I think it makes the room.  That muted blue hue paired with the crystal knob and the sheen of the glass makes a simple closet simply beautiful. 

This framed christening gown ALMOST makes me want to have another baby.  
The inclusion of the baby photograph with the dress is my favorite part.

The detailed corbels and French frame on this vanity are stunning.

This picture makes me think every book deserves to be wrapped in linen and ribbon and lace.

This little girls' room has an ensuite bathroom that is just as lovely as the bedroom.  Each girl has a side of the bathroom with her own sink, vanity, and chandelier.  This is the "pink" side of the room.

And this is the "blue" side of the bathroom.  I'd be pleased as punch with either. 
May your June be full of parades---especially of the "home" variety!  
(More parade favorites coming soon!)

Linking to:
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence
Home Sweet Home Friday at The Charm of Home
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Vintage Inspiration at Common Ground
Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now 
Tutorials and Tips at Homestories A to Z
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