Bedroom Makeover at the Quirky Old Home

Once the weather turned, we started focusing our attention on redoing the rooms inside our new Quirky Old Home.

For me, the hardest part of redoing rooms in a new home is spending enough time living in it to be able to pick colors and arrange furniture and pick accessories that feel right.  Normally, it takes me awhile to find inspiration.

My goal is to reuse and repurpose as much as possible.  When I have to buy, I try to buy used.

My next goal is to get the house in the shape that I want it before the good weather returns when I will want to be back outside and down at the lake cottage.

DSH and I also take the opportunity when we redo a room to make sure everything is fixed and working properly.  He had to work on the fan to get it balanced so it didn’t whine when it ran.  He checked the air return and found that the inside was blocked with foam insulation.  After he removed it, the air worked much better.  We checked all of the electrical outlets, fixed the window with the broken seal and track, and fixed the closet doors so that they didn’t keep coming off the tracks.  I scrubbed the floor, the baseboards, the trim, the shelves, and the windows and screens.

Katy's Bedroom Before

Here is the real estate picture of one of the upstairs bedrooms.  Our daughter, Katy, picked this room to be hers.  Her twin sister was studying abroad so she got first pick.

The nice thing about both upstairs bedrooms, however, is that they aren’t the plain, boring rectangular rooms like those found in most builder subdivision homes.  They have angles and nooks and crannies and visual interest.  And even though the overall house is much smaller, these bedrooms are larger and a whole lot more interesting than their old ones.

So, the first thing that happened is that Katy’s furniture from the old house would not fit up the narrow stairwell.  Sigh.

Katy's Bedroom #1 Inspiration

So, I sold it and got new stuff.  And by new stuff, I mean “old” “used” new stuff.  I took her twin bed mattresses and bought a universal bed frame from Amazon and “made” a king sized bed (in width not length).  My sister had a mattress overlay that makes it a very comfortable bed.  The bed fits perfectly in the space.

I found an iron bed on Craigslist for a whole lot less money than a new one.  There are corner pieces that fit on the foot of the bed that DSH still has to attach on the universal bed frame since we aren’t using the frame that came with the headboard.

I found the king-sized French Toile bedspread at JC Penney for a very reasonable price (just about $100), and it’s reversible.  Katy’s sorority colors and symbols gave me inspiration for the rest of the space.  Notice the light tan walls.  Bland and boring.

Katy's Bedroom #3 After

Katy’s sorority colors are purple so I did an accent wall in that color and painted the rest of the room a much paler lavender.  These colors not only make sense for her, but they seem to fit in this older home.  And I think they look lovely with the black and white bed frame and bedspread and white trim.  I can’t wait until she gets home from school and puts her pillow and cover back on the bed.

Katy's Bedroom #4

The built-in bookcase wall.  I took the curtain rods from the front room that were left by the former homeowner, and I spray painted them in aged bronze.  The sheers were from our old house.  I did replace the old and yellowing metal mini-blinds with new wooden ones.

Katy's Bedroom #5

The wall with the shelf and hooks holds her compound bow and other treasures.  I reused an old lamp that I had from the old house and found the little antique table at a local shop for about $30.

Katy's Bedroom #6

This corner includes a rocking chair my sister no longer used as well as the sampler she made for Katy when she was born.  It is so cool that the frame is also a lavender color that matches her room!  Her sorority bulletin board with the accent color fits here perfectly.

Katy's Bedroom #2

I used a skull and crossbones ribbon that I found at Michael’s at Halloween as tie backs.  The ribbon cost me $1.40 for the roll.  The skull and crossbones is a sorority symbol.  I was going to find some black and white costume jewelry as tiebacks (saw that on Pinterest), but these will do just fine for now.

Katy's Bedroom #7

Here is the antique dresser that I found on Craigslist.  It is the most expensive piece in the room, but I love the curves and femininity of it.  I found the mirror for $39 at the local antique mall and love the shabby chic redo.  In the corner are the iron posts that go on the bed (once we figure out how to get them attached).

So, the bed frame, ribbon, bedspread, and mini-blinds were the only brand new items in the entire room.  Everything else was reused, repurposed, or was previously used and loved.

I’m happy to report that Katy loves it, too.  I wanted to surprise her, but I was so excited about the transformation that I kept sending her pictures as I was working on it.  So much for surprises.

Wait until you see what I did with the stairwells and upstairs bathroom!  I’ve been busy and can’t wait to share!

Posted in Food & Home | 6 Comments

What a Difference a Door Makes

If you have ever purchased a home, either brand new construction or previously owned, then you know about homeowner projects.  Even the most well maintained and beautiful homes will require new owners to do work on them to make them their own.

One of the projects at the top of our list when we purchased the quirky old house was to add a door to the master bedroom.

Yes, there was no door on the bedroom.

Bedroom Doorway Before

Here is the real estate picture of the doorway to the bedroom.  It is right off the front room.  The kitchen is through the doorway on the right.

Now, we know the previous owners and having no door on their bedroom was not an issue for them.  They were empty nesters and didn’t have anyone else living with them although the did have occasional visits from relatives and grandchildren.

Now, we are nearly empty nesters, too.  Our two youngest children are in college, but are home for holidays and breaks.  But not having a bedroom door was – well, it was just weird.  Even when we were the only ones home.

Back when we first got married, we never closed our bedroom door.  Well, we never closed it except at certain times.  If you know what I mean.

When we got custody of our niece through the Division of Family Services, we were required to take 16 weeks of parenting classes.  Yes, we had four children, but we had to take parenting classes before we could add this fifth child to our family.  Those who really needed to take them, did not.  But I digress.

We did learn a lot from these classes.  While a lot of the information was really common sense parenting, there was a lot of information shared about parenting children who are the victims of abuse – physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

One of the biggest takeaways was that everyone should always sleep with their bedroom doors closed (and not just for fire safety reasons).  So, we all started sleeping with our bedroom doors closed.  But, we never locked our door except at certain times.  If you know what I mean.

I’ve had this conversation with other mothers, and we all have stories about being interrupted at certain times by children.  Younger children who get out of bed for whatever reason and want mommy and daddy.  Older children, who do not consider that their parents have an intimate life, barging into the bedroom without knocking when they need something.

Knowing that their parents do more than just sleep with one another causes children angst, but most parents end up with funny stories to share about being interrupted by children.

So, we’ve gotten used to sleeping in a room with the bedroom door closed.  Sleeping without a door and getting dressed without a door, among other things, just felt weird.

New Bedroom Door Jobsite 1

Who knew that installing a door required so much equipment?

Anyway, after 5 months and 10 days, we finally have a new door installed on our bedroom.  Now, you would think that getting a door installed would be no big deal.  The first problem is finding a contractor who is willing to do the work and then to fit it into their larger and more lucrative jobs.

After getting a few bids, we decided to go with the guy, Adam, who was higher priced.  Why?  Well, working on these older homes can be challenging.  While most of our home has had all of the historical character and parts renovated away, the front rooms are different.  The front rooms have the high ceilings and plaster walls and originals doors and woodwork for the most part.

And, while there are a lot of construction materials tucked away in the garage attic, none of the original fixtures remain.  Unfortunately, a lot of people renovate these old homes and trash the old hardware and doors and other fixtures.  So sad.

New Bedroom Door Jobsite 2

The rest of the equipment required to install our new bedroom door.

Adam is well experienced installing doors and working on older homes.  It’s sort of his specialty.  When he came to look at the job, I was impressed with his attention to detail and his explanation of what it would take to do the job correctly.  You could just tell he has a passion for his work.

A neighbor had given us an actual antique door that matched the other ones, but after looking at it, we decided to have a new door milled.  It would have cost us more money to use the old door and, since so much of the house is not authentic, we decided to take this option.

So, a solid wood door was ordered.  After several pictures and another visit, it was milled identical to the existing closet doors.

New Bedroom Door 1

The view of the doorway from inside the bedroom.

Adam and his sidekick had to carefully remove the old moldings minimizing damage, as much as possible, on the plaster walls and the moldings which would be re-installed.

New Bedroom Door 2

The view of the doorway from outside the bedroom.

The moldings on this side were not original, but they did have to be careful of the plaster walls.

The other issue was the hardware.  You cannot just go to the hardware store and find hardware to match what was already there.  This is where Adam got creative.  He suggested we use the doorknobs on the insides of the closet doors so that the ones that are visible are all the same.  He had plenty of hinges, but finding matching knobs is difficult.  We could replace the inside knobs with other antique knobs that might not match exactly, but no one would see them anyway.  Genius.

New Bedroom Door 3

Here is the door almost completely installed.

Who would have thought that installing a door would take two guys the better part of an entire day?

Adam was very careful and measured, measured, and measured some more as he built each part from scratch.

The fun part of this is the hinges are identical to the ones we already have on the closets.  They came from a 130 year old home that Adam had renovated in another part of town for a family that owns the major apple, peach, and pumpkin picking farm in the area.

New Bedroom Door 4

The finished door.

I agreed to do the painting.  Painting a door and a door jamb is tedious work.  It actually takes longer than painting a room with flat walls and only the edges to cut in.

But, after a primer coat and two additional coats of paint we have a bedroom door that looks like it has always been there.

And now our kids can come home for the holidays, and we can still have our privacy at certain times.  If you know what I mean.  Except that the door does not lock.

Posted in Food & Home | 2 Comments

Before and After at the Quirky Old House

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.

I’ve been having trouble concentrating on writing and reading since my brother-in-law passed away in July.

Writing, like most activities, should be done frequently in order to continue to do it well.  So, I’m back at it.

I have a number of things to write about, but I chose to show share the before and after pictures and story of our new “old” house as my first post back.  I didn’t think we would get much work done on the exterior of our new home since I spent most of the year and well into the summer with my sister and brother-in-law, while he was sick, and they live nearly 10  hours away in another state.

The good news is that my sister bought a new “old” house, too!  And it’s three blocks away from our new “old” house.  By the middle of the month she will be moved and living nearby, and I couldn’t be happier.  For her and for me.

Houston Home (1)

Here is the real estate picture of the front of our new “old” house.  By the time we were able to start working on it, the wisteria on the arbor over the sidewalk had totally engulfed it so that you could not walk through it.  The ivy tumbled down to the sidewalk and the landscaping in front of the house was overgrown obscuring the porch.

Our first outdoor project was to have the chimney tuckpointed.  It became a necessity after the chimney cap blew off in a storm shortly after we bought the place.  Tuckpointing is expensive!  Fortunately, however, the guys who did that work noticed that our upper gutters on both sides of the house did not have any downspouts!  That was overlooked by us, our real estate agent, and our home inspector.  Several hundred dollars later, we were on to our part of the exterior work.

My goal for all projects is to pay as you go, i.e. nothing on credit, and to re-purpose whatever possible rather than to replace.

DSH and I have spent a few weekends working outdoors on our new home, and there have been some major changes that are helping to make it our own.

House facade partly complete diagonal view

We spent a good amount of time cleaning up the landscaping.  The wisteria over the arbor is completely gone.  The kids hated the arbor, but now that it is cleaned up, I’m really liking it.  It’s a bit quirky and different, too.  It was really rusty under all of the foliage so I bought some Rustoleum primer for highly rusted metal and spray painted the entire thing.  I had so much fun spray painting that I refused to let DSH near the can and am thinking I may have missed a calling as a graffiti artist.

House facade partly complete

I spent several hours over a few days cutting back the ivy.  We didn’t realize that we had a such a nice little stone border in front.  It needs some work, but that is a project for next Spring.  The kids hated the ivy, too, but now that it is cut back, I think it’s charming.

It’s staying, too.

We took out the overgrown burning bush by the corner of the porch and removed all of the ivy and overgrown weeds in the planting bed along the house.  We added a few knockout roses, some metal edging, and black mulch.  I am not a fan of the red mulch that seems to be so popular in the area.  I can’t wait to add black mulch to all of the planting beds since it ties together the roof colors and the shutter and porch colors so well.

I really wanted to get rid of the yews, but I didn’t want to make that much of an investment in new plantings.  Now that they are cut back, they aren’t so bad.

I have spent a good amount of time digging up perennials and moving them around.  Most of the plantings at this house appear to be random.  I like the natural look, but I also like to have some order and symmetry, too.  But, I didn’t want to just dig stuff up and toss it.  I moved stuff around.

I love re-purposing plants!

We painted the lattice-work that was trimmed in a green color that was different from the green porch floor.

We added lattice to the area on the side of the porch steps.

The clean up made a big difference.

But I had more things in mind.

House Facade After

I thought that this home was begging for shutters.  Nearly every home in the area has them.  So I added them to the front and painted them a color called Phantom Mist which is a gray with black and brown undertones that I think pulls in the colors of the roof.  I also think it plays down the yellow of the siding.  Our real estate agent says that shutters are like the mascara of a house.

DSH thinks we need to add shutters to the side of the house, and I think we need to add them to the garage windows (which you can see in the back).  That will be a project for next Spring, but when we get it done there will be continuity from front to back.

123 Houston Street (2)

The front porch was charming, but I didn’t care for the green floor or the white door.  I also wanted to eliminate the brass accents and return to the aged bronze which is more era appropriate.

Front door before

Here is the thing about front doors.  I think they are a reflection of your personality.  There are many studies that support this notion.  White doors.  Boring.

Front porch partly complete

So I painted the front porch with the Phantom Mist paint that we also used on the shutters.

front door before (1)

Here is the white front door.  What was I going to do about the oval insert?

front door after

I didn’t replace the door.  I just replaced the insert with a glass that provided more privacy and is called “Rain”.  It matches the glass on the new exterior door fixture that I selected.

I kept the old insert and am trying to think of a way to add it as a funky accent in the garden.

True Story – I was laboring over the color to paint the front door.  I didn’t want a red color to go with the yellow house that made you think of ketchup and mustard.  I was considering colors, other than red, when my niece said to me, “It has to be red.  Every house you’ve lived in has had a red door!”  Decision made.

The color of the door is called Spanish Tile.  Red doors suggest that the person inside is passionate.  That’s about right.

Front porch complete

Here is the after picture of the front porch.  Same front door with new glass insert, new color, and new fixtures.  The storm door is the same, but I spray painted the brass trim and handles.  Spray paint is wonderful.  I’m now considering the use of spray paint in other applications.  I’ve used more spray paint on more things in the past few weeks than I have in my entire life.

We eliminated the light fixture at the end of the porch, and DSH replaced a few pieces of the siding that had holes in it with pieces that he found in the garage attic.  We replaced the light fixture at the door and the old, brass house numbers with new, aged bronze floating numbers.  We eliminated the tiny brass mailbox with an architectural mailbox that has a lock on it.  This will be good for when we travel.  I kept the tiny brass mailbox to possibly use as another planter in the garden.  Once I spray paint it, of course.

I then added a 3′ x 10′ outdoor carpet runner in black and gray.  I found two little gray metal plant stands and am looking for a little wooden bench or similar object to complete the project.

House side facade

When we added the metal edging along the front, we took it around to extend the planting bed up the north side of the house.  This is where I moved many of the hostas that I dug up.  This is a shady spot in our yard, and I see some nice, colorful mounds of Impatiens here next year.

That big hosta in back by the fence is gone and has found a new home in another sister’s updated planting beds.  The thing about those giant overgrown hostas is that you can dig them up and split them apart to make several new plants.

bird path turned into planter

This is my re-purposed bird bath.  This bird bath was left behind by a homeowner when we lived in Dallas.  I’ve been dragging it around for years, but we never got around to trying to repair the motor that turned the New Orleans style jazz frogs that sit on top.  I re-purposed it as a planter.  DSH drilled drain holes in the two basins, and I added some rock and soil and some pansies.  It now greets visitors at the entrance to our front porch.

Now that the weather is turning cold, I’m moving to indoor projects.  I see a lot more painting in my future.

Posted in Food & Home | 12 Comments

Our First Summer With a Lake Cottage

It has always been DSH’s dream to own a place at The Lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis year we realized that dream when we bought the Little Cottage on The Lake.

It’s not fancy, but it sits on a nice, flat lot, has 60 feet of lake front and a dock where we hope to put a boat someday soon.

We were offered the place by one of my best friend’s parents who were ready to sell.  We have been coming to the place for nearly 23 years as guests so it already holds many memories for us.

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On our first visit, a bottle of wine and a lovely note from them welcomed us to our new vacation home.

This is where we go to relax and unwind.

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We do that in different ways.

DSH’s idea of relaxing is puttering around the place.  Cutting and trimming grass for ourselves and our neighbors.  Cleaning the leaves out of the gutters and sweeping the leaves and limbs off the roof of the cottage.  Working on routine maintenance items and trying to decide what changes to make to the place to make it our own.

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Two of the nicest times of day at The Lake are sunrise and sunset.  Having a cup of coffee while looking out over the smooth surface of The Lake in the morning and sitting on the swing while watching the sun set in the evening are very calming.

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In the Spring, the wild life at The Lake was fun to watch.  Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, The Lake is much quieter than during the Summer season.

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In the Spring, Daddy duck sat on our dock while Mama duck escorted her dozen or so chicks under the docks.

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Two chicks survived the Summer and continue to follow Mama duck around.

We didn’t spend as much time visiting this Summer as we expected because of having to spend so much time in Minnesota with my sister while my BIL was on hospice care.  We made it in May for Mother’s Day, but we missed Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July.  So, when we were able to spend Labor Day at The Lake, like we have for a few years now, it was fun.  And the fact that we had a hot and sunny weekend after a cool and wet Summer was an added bonus!

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DSH fished with his great grandfather’s cane pole.  He didn’t catch anything, but he also didn’t sit for very long either.

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The kids had better luck fishing and even caught two large mouth bass.

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Studying was much more fun while laying on the swim dock.

We’ve enjoyed getting to know the year-round neighbors and spending time with them.  They are retired brothers who fought in WWII, and they have stories to tell!

In a few weeks, we’ll winterize the place.

I’m already looking forward to next season.

Posted in Bucket List | 2 Comments

Shootout!

We went to a shootout last weekend.

Not that kind of shootout!

The Shootout is an annual event at the Lake of the Ozarks – the largest unsanctioned boat race in the Midwest with over 100 racers and 100,000 spectators.  This was the 25th year, and we had a bird’s-eye view at DSH’s boss’ condo which overlooked the one-mile long “track”.  Do they call it a “track”?

Shootout racers

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be attending a boat race, I would have told you that you were out of your mind.

There I go again!  Never say never.

Shootout boat audience

Most of the spectators line up in their boats, which are tied together.  You could hear the revelry from our comfortable post on the 4th floor deck.  With convenient access to a kitchen and bathroom, I might add.

Shootout boat crowds

Here is another view of the boats tied up.  You can see Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill in the distance.  They are one of the main sponsors of the Shootout.

Shootout pirate boat

Captain Ron’s has a pirate theme so we were wondering if this might have been their boat.

Shootout party boat

Here was another party boat that we thought might have been selling stuff as it trolled up and down the line of spectator boats.

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This looked like a fun boat, too, although the palm tree is a little out of place here in the middle of the country.

Shootout fire and rescue

But it wasn’t all fun and games.  The proceeds from the Shootout benefit various charities around the Lake including emergency services.

Shootout fire rescue boat

Fortunately, we didn’t see any emergencies although we suspect there were lots of cases of sunburns and hangovers.

Shootout red cross boat

All of the big boats around, and the Red Cross was stuck in a little fishing boat.

Shootout helicopter

There were also helicopters flying over the area.

Shootout helicopter2

It looked like this one had a person in it with diving gear on.

Shootout batman helicopter

Here is the photo helicopter chasing the Batman boat.  I thought that was fun.

The photo helicopter chased all of the boats as they sped up the track.  Then it would make hairpin turns to return to the starting line to chase the next boat.

Except for one set of two boats, they ran the track individually so there was always a few minutes between each boat racing up the track.

Shootout photo boat

Here was the photo boat.

I learned a lot about boats watching the Shootout.  Who knew there were so many types?  Since we are in the market for a boat, it was a learning experience.  We keep hearing over and over again – the two best days in a boat owner’s life are the day you buy a boat and the day you sell a boat.

We just want something in our budget that will fit in our existing dock and that we can use to take the family out for some fun.  Nothing fancy.  Or more expensive than our homes.

We saw lots of fast boats.  On Saturday, the previous record of 208 mph was broken by a boat going 209 mph.

The record was smashed on Sunday, when a boat named My Way clocked 224 mph!

Shootout pontoon boat

Out of all of the boats that we saw, my favorite was this pontoon boat.  It was going so fast that it was out of the water!

Yes, someone was actually racing a pontoon boat.  This ain’t your granddaddy’s pontoon boat!

We had fun doing something new and different and hope to add many more unique experiences to our empty nest life!

Posted in Bucket List | Leave a comment

What’s Cookin’ – Cornmeal Lime Cookies (Gluten Free)

It has been 153 days since I’ve posted a What’s Cookin’ recipe on my blog.  And, while I do not consider my blog to be a food blog, the recipes that I post continue to drive the bulk of the visits to my site.

My goal, when posting recipes, is to preserve those that my family love the most as well as to re-purpose older recipes to use modern ingredients and packaging, and to share new recipes particularly those with interesting ingredients.

Since several of my family members have Celiac Disease and need to eat gluten free (GF) diets, I also find myself re-purposing favorite family recipes to meet their needs.  I have posted GF Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom soup recipes to use instead of the stuff from cans, and the benefit extends beyond making them edible by those who need them to be GF.  Making these items from scratch enhances the recipes that call for these products.  The end result is a fresher, more purer taste and flavor to our food so I use them even when I don’t have to make a recipe GF.

Since March, we sold our big home in the ‘burbs, moved into temporary housing, bought a new “old” and smaller home in the historic district of a small city, and bought a little cottage on the lake where we can go to relax and unwind.  All of  our stuff was in storage for several months, and my ability to spend time making and testing new recipes was impacted.

We were fortunate to be able to live with one of my sisters in her small condo with her three tiny dogs, but she does not cook and didn’t even own a set of measuring cups or spoons.  I added to her kitchen inventory while we stayed with her.

During this time, I was also spending a lot of time in Minnesota with my sister whose husband was battling cancer and ended up in hospice care until his death in July shortly after his birthday.

When I was in Minnesota, I spent a lot of cooking and baking and taking care of stuff around the house (like laundry and shoveling snow in April and May) while my sister worked and spent valuable time with her husband.

Since my sister is one of my relatives with Celiac disease, I was forced to consider GF options for every meal and with everything that I cooked.  It is an understatement to say that it takes a lot of thought and planning to make sure what you are cooking is free of wheat products.  It virtually eliminates most everything that is processed in any way.  My heart goes out to those who deal with food allergies and issues.

I have another sister who lives in Oregon, and she also spent time in Minnesota helping out while my brother-in-law was sick.  She shared a recipe with me for Gluten Free Cornmeal Lime Cookies that a friend of hers made.  She raved about these cookies.  Her friend had adapted a recipe posted on a food blog, Cooking by the Book, that was adapted from a recipe from the cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café by Joanne Chang to make it GF.

I made my sister’s friend’s version of these cookies, not only because they are GF, but because I love citrus flavors and making recipes with unusual ingredients.  Putting cornmeal in cookies was interesting to me.  I thought it might make the cookies gritty.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

These cookies are tender and citrus-y and addicting.  I will be making versions with lemon and orange, too.  They are that good.

Bottom line.  Don’t be afraid to try new recipes and, if necessary, adapt them for your family’s tastes and needs.  And, of course, if you want to make these cookies and decide that you do not need them to be GF, use regular all-purpose flour.  You will not be disappointed.

Let’s get started!

Cornmeal Lime Cookies ingredients

Gluten Free Cornmeal Lime Cookies ingredients.  If you don’t need to make these cookies GF, then by all means substitute regular all-purpose flour.  Make sure that your butter and eggs are at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies dry ingredients

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  I use a whisk.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies dry ingredients sifted

Here are the dry ingredients sifted.  You will see little specks of the yellow cornmeal throughout the mixture.  Set aside.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies zest

Next zest your limes until you have 2 TB.  I used 2 large limes to get 2 TB of zest, but if you have smaller limes, it may take up to 4.  Make sure to only use the green part of the rind.  The white part or pith is bitter.

Note:  I took the opportunity to grate enough zest and squeeze enough lime juice for the glaze which you will use later on in the recipe.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies cream the butter and sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  At this step in cookie making you are incorporating air into the batter which will make your cookies light and tender so don’t skimp on the mixing time.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies add the lime zest

Notice how light and fluffy the butter mixture is?  Add the zest and mix on medium speed for another full minute to allow the lime flavor to incorporate into the batter.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies add eggs & vanilla

Notice the lovely green specks in the butter mixture?  Add the eggs and vanilla while mixing on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary to ensure that all ingredients are evenly incorporated.  Again, do not skimp on the mixing time.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies with flour mixture added

Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture in three batches.  Mix only until incorporated.  Do NOT over mix at the point or you will over work the flour resulting in a tough cookie.

At this point, you can refrigerate the dough and bake the cookies later.  I had an appointment and did this.  I simply scooped the refrigerated dough directly onto the cookie sheets and baked them right away.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies ready to bakeUsing a small scoop (1 TB size), place rounded dough balls onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Using damp fingers or the palm of your hand, slightly press down on the dough balls.  Bake in a preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

If you are using regular all-purpose flour, you will know the cookies are done if they are slightly browned around the edges and firm to the touch.  When using GF flour, you will find that things do not brown like they do with regular flour.  So you have to be careful not to over bake.  I used an oven thermometer to ensure I got to the correct temperature.  It took my oven 12 minutes to bake the cookies.  They were slightly browned on the underside and firm to the touch.

Note: The original recipe called for using ¼ cup dough balls and baking for 24 minutes.  I prefer regular-sized cookies and adjusted the baking time accordingly.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies bakedRemove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack.  Using 1 TB dough balls result in 2-inch cookies and made exactly 5 dozen.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies glaze step 1

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze.  Simply put the powdered sugar, lime zest and juice and two teaspoons of water into a small bowl and whisk to combine until smooth.

Cornmeal Lime Cookies glaze step 2

The glaze may also be made in advance.  Doesn’t it look good with the specks of lime zest throughout?

Cornmeal Lime Cookies glazing

Once the cookies are completely cool, you may brush or dip the glaze onto the cookies.  Allow the glaze to completely set before eating (if you can wait 10 minutes or so).

Cornmeal Lime Cookies ready to eat

Cookies ready to eat.  They are tender and citrus-y and addicting.  Can’t wait to try this recipe using lemons and oranges, too!

Yummy!

 

 

Posted in Food & Home | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Age Is Only A Number

Age is only a number.  This statement is going through my mind as our babies, our twins, turn 21.

I remember when they were born.  We had two other daughters and would add a fifth one when our niece came to live with us a few years later.

Five daughters.  I never thought I would get done nursing babies.  I never thought I would get past diapers.  I never thought I would get them all into school.  I never thought I would get them all out of high school – 15 straight years of having kids in high school seemed like an eternity.

And here we are with three grown and flown and the last two halfway through college and turning 21.

When did we get this old?

KJbirthday08101992

Our babies have turned 21!

KJ First Day of K 07 07 1998

It seems like yesterday that they went to Kindergarten.

KJ Last Day of High School 06 01 2011

In the blink of an eye, they were off to their last day of high school!

KJ on J Movein day 2011

And we were moving them into college!

KJ Geared Up

We’ve been on adventures together.

Jacci in Argentina10

And they’ve been on adventures on their own.

Katy Mothers Day 2013

They are interesting people with interesting hobbies.

Our five girls and their food babies

All five girls are good to us, but, more importantly they are good to one another.

I come from a family where it is normal for everyone to be suspicious and critical of one another; therefore, I worked hard to provide an environment where they would not only learn mutual respect for one another, but would also love to be together.

2002 Christmas Cards

They are strong women.

2009 Christmas Cards

They are smart women who are beautiful inside and out and who also love to have fun.

Yes, our babies are having fun on this their 21st birthday weekend.

250px-Welcome_to_fabulous_las_vegas_sign

Last Christmas, their three older sisters gave them a trip to Las Vegas for their birthday.

Let’s hope that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

The trick is growing up without growing old.
~ Casey Stengel

Posted in Faith & Family | 3 Comments

Quirky Old Home Projects

The end of May we bought a new “old” home in the historic district of a small city.

Houston Home (1)

As you might expect, there are a number of projects to be completed to make this home our own.  Some of the projects are necessary to bring the home up to current standards.  Like moving the electrical panel from over the bathtub in the main floor bathroom to a safer spot.  I talked about that project here.

DSH is in the process of repairing the hole left in the bathroom where the electrical panel was removed.

After that project was completed, I went to Minnesota to help my sister while her husband was in hospice care until his death in mid-July.  By the time I came home I had spent more nights away from our new home than I had spent in it.

I’m playing catch up now.

Catch up on getting the place cleaned and organized.  Catch up on selling off furniture that doesn’t fit. Catch up on buying stuff to make the new space fit our needs.

Our To Do List is 8 pages long.  8 pages.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve met with a guy from the company that designed and built the original kitchen cabinets.  We need to do some re-configuration to make it more functional. There is limited counter space.  The cabinet over the refrigerator does not open due to poor design.  The lighting is TERRIBLE.  And I have to replace the outdated electric range and oven and the ancient refrigerator and dishwasher.  Every house we have ever bought has resulted in work on the kitchen.

I’ve met with a carpenter, skilled in working on older homes, to get a door installed on our bedroom.  You heard that correctly.  There is no door on our bedroom.  This is seriously impacting my love life.

I’ve met with a glass and window repair company repairman who is going to replace the windows with broken seals and rework the mechanisms on the windows that are not working.

We had some furniture that did not fit up the narrow stairwell so I sold it.  In its place, I purchased a universal bed frame from Amazon to hold the two twin beds making it an oversized “almost” king bed. I found an iron frame on Craigslist and a black and white toile bedspread from JC Penney.

New bed

I love how this looks, don’t you?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I found a re-finished antique dresser on Craigslist to add to the charm of the room.

The room is still messy and needs organization, but I’m thinking of painting it a pale lavender.  It will go with my daughter’s sorority colors, and I think it will make the space feminine and go with the historic character of the space.

If you would have told me a few months ago that I would be considering painting a room any shade of purple, I would have said, “Never!”  When will I ever learn to never say never?

One of the hardest things on my to do list is to pick new color schemes for the various rooms throughout the house.  I feel that this takes time and getting used to the space.  Fortunately, my friend, Laura, who is a designer, has agreed to help me with this.

I see lots of painting in my future.

The place where we spend most of our time is the sunroom which is a space that was added onto the rear of the home.  It is just off the kitchen and it is where we have our dining table and our family room.

It is a bright and airy room that is surrounded on three sides with windows overlooking the backyard.

In the corner there is a fireplace unit with a cubby space above that appears to have been originally built to house an old tube style TV.  The former homeowners had installed their flat screen TV over the mantle, and that is what we intend to do, too.

However, I just did not like the look of this spot.  It was not continuous with the rest of the room.  The mantle disappeared with the wood surrounding it and the old cubby hole was unattractive.  I talked to my friend, Laura, about it, and she agreed – paint the cubby a satin black so that it will disappear behind the TV once it is installed, paint the wall space the same color as the surrounding walls and paint the mantle to match the trim since there is no other wood trim exposed in the space.

Fireplace project collage

I think it looks much better, don’t you?

Front door

Here is our front door.  It is white.  I do not like white front doors.  How boring.  Every house we have owned, I have painted the front door a shade of red.

Here is what having red front door might mean (according to a study) - Red is regarded as a powerful “punch” color, red is the color of passion. By painting the front door red, the homeowner is saying that the home within is a vibrant place, full of life, energy, and excitement.

Yep.  That’s about right.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid using red with a yellow house will always make me think of ketchup and mustard.  Ketchup and mustard.  Nope.  Don’t like that look for a house.

I also don’t like the green porch.  That particular shade of green just looks dated to me.

And our roof is dark brown.

So, I’m struggling with what color to paint my front door.  Painting my front door is important to me.  It is usually one of the first things I have done in every house we have owned.

Painting the front door, where you welcome guests, is the one small, personal thing that you change that says this is now our home.

Posted in Food & Home | 10 Comments

The Business of Dying

After 18 months of fighting colorectal cancer, my brother-in-law passed away peacefully with my sister at his side.

Leinenkugel's tour David and Diane 07052012

The plan that they agreed to when the time came, was that he would go onto hospice care and die at home.  Sometimes things don’t work out like planned.

The Business of Dying

In spite of having their business affairs in order including their will and associated items, my sister ran into problems.  She tried to cancel their account with the cable company.  She was paying for services that they were not using.  The cable account was in my brother-in-law’s name and, while she was an authorized user, she was not the owner and could not cancel the account.  After advising her that she was still obligated to pay the bills in his name because she was his spouse and locking her out of the account, she was told that they would gladly change the account to her name after he died and provided them with a death certificate.

Let’s just say that Comcast has lost a customer for life.

The Business of Dying

My brother-in-law’s cancer had spread to his liver, his lungs, and his brain.  His cognitive abilities became greatly impaired, and he developed a condition called agitated dementia.  In spite of three of us being there, we were unable to keep up with the demands for his care.  The hospice nurse recommended a trip to the hospital for symptom management.  He required one-on-one care almost to the end, and he passed away in the hospital.

A canopy of green

So, his care required a change in plans that they had not discussed because it was something that was unanticipated.  And this is after going through the same process with three parents going onto hospice over the last 5 years.

The Business of Dying

Other things that had been planned in advance included the funeral preparations with the mortuary and with their church.  But, there was still plenty to do when the time came.

Unexpected things happened.  If my brother-in-law had died at home, hospice would have taken care of everything like calling the mortuary.  Since he died in the hospital, my sister had to make the call.  And she had to answer a lot of questions that had already been answered.

And this was after answering a lot of questions that the hospital required that hospice had already recorded.

David's feet June 2010

The Business of Dying

My brother-in-law passed away a little after 9:00 in the evening.  By the time my sister got home around 11:00, the phone was ringing.  The university was calling about organ donation.  The hospital staff had prepared her for this, but assumed because of the cancer and treatments that he wouldn’t be able to donate anything.  He was able to donate his corneas.  The business of dying included answering about 45 minutes of questions similar to those with blood donation.

But, if you plan on donating organs, timing is crucial.

The Business of Dying

So, life since my brother-in-law has passed away has been a whirlwind.  In a few days, when everyone is gone, and she is back at home, life will return to a new normal for her.

I think this is why grief is sometimes delayed.  In spite of 18 months of planning and trying to make sure that all contingencies are covered, the business of dying required decisions and time that distracted from the immediate loss.

The Business of Dying

The business of dying will not end for her for a while.  She has to take care of life insurance and untangling all the things that are commingled when you are a couple.  She has to make decisions about her future.

We talked about the fact that we took care of so much in advance, but that there was still so much to take care of when the time came.

After going through this, I would recommend that everyone make plans for their deaths in advance.  And, by plans, I mean you should have a will or a trust even if you are young and especially if you have children or live in a blended family situation.

You should talk to your loved ones about what kind of services you would like.  My brother-in-law had picked out all of his readings and music for the church service.  But, he did not want to pick out his casket or talk to the funeral home.

You should talk to them about your wishes for end of life care.  Do Not Resuscitate – many people say that they want this, but it is quite a shock to actually see the DNR bracelet on your loved ones arm.

David 65 Birthday clouds bringing relief from the heat 07062012

I feel blessed to have gone on this journey with my sister and my brother-in-law.  His end-of-life journey, but also the one with my sister that included The Business of Dying.

Posted in Faith & Family | 10 Comments

Put The Lime in the Coconut

This past weekend it was my BIL’s birthday.  He has been fighting cancer, but has reached the stage in his journey of being on hospice care.  It has been his goal to make it to his birthday.

He’s no longer eating much, but we wanted to celebrate his birthday, so we made his favorite birthday dessert – German Chocolate Cake.

Chow German Chocolate Cake

I used a different recipe than I have used before.  I liked the loaf shape of this version as well as the addition of buttercream icing.  Chow’s recipe for this German Chocolate Cake can be found here.

I made a few changes to it which you can find on the Comments on my Pinterest page for this recipe here.

David Birthday with Sara and Diane

He slept most of the day so we thought we might have to celebrate without him, but he rallied and was able to sit at the table with us.  He said a lovely two-minute prayer, took a few bites of cake and ice cream, and smiled for a few pictures, too!

He had a little trouble eating the coconut, and one of us mentioned something about a coconut song.  Immediately, he piped up Put the lime in the coconut.  It was hilarious.  My BIL is a big music buff.  He may be forgetting a lot of things these days, but he still remembers his music!  For those of you who want to walk down memory lane here is the link to the Harry Nilsson YouTube video of the Coconut song from 1971.

David Birthday with Kathy and Joe

My BIL’s best friend and his wife joined us.

David Birthday with Mama

And I even got a kiss out of the deal!

Happy Birthday to my BIL, Dave!

Coconut by Harry Nillson (1971)

Brother bought a coconut
He bought it for a dime.
His sister had another
She paid it for the lime.

She put the lime in the coconut
she drank them both up.
 
she put the lime in the coconut
she called the doctor, woke him up, and said
“Doctor, ain’t there nothing I can take”
I said, “Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?”
I said, “Doctor ain’t there nothing I can take”
I said, “Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?”

Now let me get this straight;
You put the lime in the coconut
You drank them both up
You put the lime in the coconut,
You drank them both up
put the lime in the coconut,
you drank them both up
put the lime in the coconut,
called your doctor, woke him up, and said,

“Doctor, ain’t there nothing I can take”
I said, Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?”
I said, Doctor, ain’t there nothin’ I can take”
I said, Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?”

You put the lime in the coconut, you drink them both together,
put the lime in the coconut, then you’ll feel better.
Put the lime in the coconut, and drink them both up,
Put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the morning.”

Brother bought a coconut
He bought it for a dime.
His sister had another
She paid it for the lime.

She put the lime in the coconut
she drank them both up.
she put the lime in the coconut
Called the doctor, woke him up, and said
“Doctor, ain’t there nothing I can take”
I said, “Doctor, to relieve this belly ache?”
I said, “Doctor ain’t there nothing I can take”
I said, “Doctor”

Now let me get this straight;
You put the lime in the coconut
You drank them both up
put the lime in the coconut,
You drink them both up
the lime in the coconut,
you drink them both up
you put the lime in the coconut,
you’re such a silly woman,
put a lime in the coconut,
and drink them both together,
put the lime in the coconut,
then you’ll feel better.
put the lime in the coconut,
drink them both down,
put the lime in the coconut,
and call me in the morning 

Posted in Faith & Family | 7 Comments