What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Life is a Bowl of Cherries!

Nothing symbolizes summer to me quite like a bowl of fresh cherries! Holly thinks they are the best thing she's ever tasted. She starts asking for them the minute she sees them in the grocery. The price per pound is so high that I always wait until they are on sale. Still high as a kite, but worth it to put a smile on this little girl's face.

We don't make anything special with cobbler or pie here. We just eat ourselves silly on them, straight from the bowl!

Hope your day is as sweet as a cherry!
Laura Lee

Overripe Bananas!

Here is a great recipe for those overripe bananas that are laying around. This is the BEST recipe ever for banana bread. Hope you'll try it. The recipe makes one large loaf or three small loaves.

Carrot Banana Bread
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 medium)
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
In a mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to the creamed mixture alternately with bananas. Stir in carrots and pecans. Transfer to a greased 9 in. x 5 in. loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf. (For three small loaves bake 30 minutes or till done.)


I Feel A Really Bad Joke Coming On.....

OK, here it goes, forgive me:

Question: How many scientists does it take to install one garage door opener?

Answer: Two.

One nuclear engineer to drill, hammer and pound and one physicist wannabe to read the directions, offer assistance, and give up his first Saturday after summer school.

Contrary to popular scientific thought, what goes up does not necessarily always come down, at least in the universe of garage door openers! Eight hours later, the tired, hungry scientists are begging the question: Is this Newton's Law or Murphy's Law?

Good thing tonight is Homemade Pizza Night!to be continued.....

(Sunday afternoon the scientists put their heads together and solved the problem!
The garage door now opens AND closes!)

I Love My Job

The impetus for what I wrote below comes from this true story that I read on Susan Branch's blog. I am a huge fan of Susan Branch's artwork. Everything she draws and paints conjures up images of the home I wish to create. This story is rather long, but oh-so-worth-reading-to-the-end. We never know how we may impact the people we come in contact with.

I've been thinking about this blog, what it represents and how it may portray me as a person. Is it sending the message that I want to send? It is filled with little stories and pretty photos of "stuff", for sure. I hope it isn't sending the message that things are more important that people.

There is a quote in one of my favorite books, Totally Organized, by Bonnie McCullough, that I often stop and recite to myself silently. It goes like this: "People are more important than things. But the order of things affects people.'' I couldn't agree more. I want to focus on people, loving them and making them feel comfortable around me and in our home. In order to do that, I have to pay attention to the "things" that surround us, the details, if you will, of our home. That is homemaking.

What defines homemaking to me? Homemaking is way more than just cooking and cleaning, though it requires both. (Too bad that is often what the world thinks: a homemaker is a live-in maid.) To me, home is not the house or the "things"; it is the atmosphere. And my job as a homemaker is to create that atmosphere. I want the atmosphere of our home to be a safe, peaceful haven from the world outside our doors. I want those who live here and those who visit here to feel comfortable and happy. I want them to be well fed, both physically and spiritually. I want our home to reflect the love of Christ.

Ryan has a friend that comes over from time to time. He comes from a very disfunctional background. No child should have to experience what he did while growing up. One day I was in the kitchen, puttering around, doing what I do, and he was leaning against the island talking to me. He said, "When I get married, I want my wife to do what you do. I want her to stay home and take care of our house and children. That isn't the way I grew up, but that is what I want." I'm so happy that he can come here and experience what "home" is supposed to feel like.

One of Abby's friends came in the back door recently and said, "I love coming over here! There is always something cooking!" And she knows she is welcome to stay and eat. One of Brad's friends likes to eat over here because his mom doesn't cook very often. There was a time when I wouldn't have been comfortable hosting spur-of-the-moment dinner guests. I would be nervous that there wasn't enough food. Now I just say "stay and eat", because I know that we can stretch whatever we have. The God who fed five thousand with two fish and five little loaves of bread has shown me that He can feed an extra mouth or two at my house, and my family won't suffer for it!

My kids tease me because I have to play music at dinner. My mother always had pretty music playing at our house, so I grew up with it. I try to match the music to the food! If it is Italian food, out comes the 20 Romantic Italian Love Songs CD. Sometimes it's just classical piano. Whatever! But there is going to be music playing before I sit down at the table. It is part of the atmosphere that I love to create.

Decorating is part of creating the atmosphere. I like to change things, move them around, update them. It is part of my personality. And I think it keeps things interesting. I'm a romantic at heart. Romance is so much more than just the love between two people. It really has more to do with evoking feelings, conjuring up beautiful images of a place or time, creating or displaying something pretty. As a romantic, I am drawn to vintage furniture and accessories. For some reason, I love things that have a past. I love going home for a visit and seeing all the things I grew up with, even down to the kitchenware. So I love to decorate with things that have a past.

If you've read this far, I want to say that I hope I've shared a little about what I want to do with this blog. I want to share our lives, our home. I hope I may inspire someone, even in a small way, to see homemaking the way I do, as a valid and valued profession. I love my job.

Laura Lee

PS- If you skipped the story linked at the top, pleeaassee go back and read it! :-)

Confessions of a Thrift Store Junkie (Or, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...In July!)

I admit it...I have to check out the thrift stores when I visit another town. I know, I know, a crazy obsession, but at least it doesn't break the bank. So, on Tuesday, Mom and I popped in a video and left Granddaddy in charge of the rowdy crew. (You know how wild those girls get.....NOT! He probably took a nap!)

I found some fun treasures on the hunt. I have a fondness for Christmas mugs. Not just any mugs, as Christmas mugs are a dime a dozen. No, the ones I look for have to have character. Sweet faces, handpainted or look like it, pretty shapes. Every year I lovingly set out my Santa mugs from my childhood. So when I saw this toy soldier mug at the Goodwill here in Aiken, I was smitten. What cuteness can be had for 49 cents!
Then I spotted this cute snowman mug and liked his shape. "You're coming home with me, big guy."

That started it...the chase was on. "I will fill my shelf above the French doors with cute mugs this Christmas!"

So, while we were out on Tuesday, I found these two at the Salvation Army. I have a weakness for snowmen and I loved the stockings all in a row. "Pretty reds and blues," I'm thinking.

Back home, looking in my mother's cupboard, I spied this snowman with the candy cane handle just begging to be brought out of the dark. A pleading look from me to Mom and he was all mine! Thanks, Mom!

These dapper fellows wanted to say hello to you. Now, I'll tuck them away until the day after Thanksgiving, when they will reappear to add their touch of Christmas cheer!

Below is another Christmasy thrifting find. I rescued this beautiful needlepoint pillow with the cardinal and holly motif for $1 at the beach.

And finally, I wanted to show you the pillows I've made for the bench in the foyer. This bench has sat here, politely doing its job, but desperately needing some softness. So during my pillow making frenzy a week ago, I stitched these up from fabric I had tucked away. "Sit a Spell" was my brainchild embroidered from a cute little iron-on transfer of a dog sitting with her umbrella. I think she looks as if she is beckoning someone to sit with her! Her name is "Poppins" after my puppy-niece in Alabama. Mary Poppins always totes an umbrella, doesn't she?

Hope you are enjoying your week!

Laura Lee

Birthday Dinner, A Road Trip, and Fine Arts Day Camp

Tonight we celebrated Tom's birthday a day early. The three youngest girls and I are going over the river and through the woods to Grandmama's house tomorrow. So it was now or never. His birthday present is four days of peace and quiet! The menu was baked chicken, broccoli casserole, scalloped pineapple, salad, and chocolate cake.

Here is the chicken which I parboiled and sprinkled liberally with Fat Jake's Pig Powder before putting in the oven. I know what you're thinking--"That is a mess of chicken!" Well, when I cook, I COOK! No fooling around here. I think there are ten leg quarters in that pan. Here is a shameless plug for my friend Sharon's husband Bob's special seasoning. He created it to make the perfect seasoning for pork, and it is quite good for that. I don't cook a lot of pork, so I just use it on chicken. Yummo!

Also, I wanted to share this recipe for a delightful chocolate cake. I was making this so often that I finally taped the recipe to the inside of my cabinet door! Yep, it's that good. It is called "Mix in the Pan Chocolate Cake." It can indeed be mixed in the pan, but I like to mix it up in my snappy yellow bowl, which just makes me so happy.

Mix in the Pan Chocolate Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup veg. oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
In a greased 8" square baking dish, combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center; add oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir just until moistened. Add coffee; stir until batter is smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until done. Yield: 9 servings

Like I said, we're going to see Grandmama and Granddaddy Brinson for a few days. It's been nearly three years since we were at their house. Now before you get your knickers all in a knot, I will say that we meet them at the beach twice a year. In fact, Maggie thinks they live at the beach! Holly is looking forward to visiting them at their home because Mom kept all my old Barbies. The two little ones will be in Barbie Heaven for four days!

And finally, here are two photos of Lacy at fine arts camp this week. She had a blast playing in an orchestra for the first time. They sounded fabulous, playing an arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon with Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. I had a lump in my throat because Pachelbel's Canon is probably my all-time favorite song. A masterpiece.

The violin section. That boy with the red hair is GOOD! The girl on the right was adopted from Vietnam. I spoke with her mother on the phone many years ago when we were looking into adoption. She and Lacy and another girl were in an ensemble together. Lacy enjoyed getting to know her.

Where is Waldo, er, I mean Lacy????

There she is!!!

Signing out....
I'll talk to you from the "other" Carolina!


I Hear Voices...

I really do. Probably not what you're thinking, though. I was schizophrenic at one time....but now we are normal! :-)

Seriously, I was passing through my foyer the other day and I heard it. "Psst! Hey, you!"


"It's me, down here!"

"Who? Down where?"

"ME! The pottery jug on the floor by the clock."

You see, this forgotten, unassuming home accessory starting talking to me. It told me that it wanted to be pretty. It was originally brown. Brown was good years ago. Then, I had painted it gold-ish during the days when nothing smaller than a bread box and not nailed down was safe from me when I was holding a can of gold spray paint.

"I need MORE! Gold just isn't doing it for me anymore," it said, clearly demanding my attention.

And a thought came to me! Inspiration struck! A brilliant idea was born! "I will paint you to resemble a French tole painted planter!"

I need to back up here and tell you that I saw the most gorgeous French tole painted planter at the store where I purchased the fabric for the living room pillows. It sat there in all its glory, sporting a $139 price tag! "Pishaw!", I scoffed. "I can do that!" So I whipped out my nifty new phone with camera (which I was convinced I did NOT need when it came with the new cell phone plan.....) and snapped a couple shots while no one was looking. (Is that legal??)

Then I heard it....the tiny voice coming from 10 inches off the floor. And its fate was sealed. "YOU will be beautiful! Plain Jane no more! Louis XV would covet you for his palace when I'm done with you!"

So out came the paints which have sat idle for at least five years and I attacked that poor, humble jar with a vengeance.

I think I did her justice. She really is pretty now. And I think she will stay like this for a while.

Laura Lee

Connoisseur of Comfort

Bella has given her paws-down approval of the new pillows in the den. Remember the lady bug on the beach? Well that is her pillow on the right, an original Laura Lee design. The one on the left was made from an old table cloth and bedspread that were begging to become a pillow.

Sweet dreams, Bella.

I Love the Internet!

Look at the photo above. Looks like an oil painting, huh? Well, I just went outside and took that photo and uploaded to a cool website where you can edit and enhance your photos. I clicked on "oil painting" and viola~done! I modified a thumb-nail sized photo, so there were very few pixels, thus the impressionistic quality, which I love. I also tried it with full size photos from the beach and they looked more real-life painted, if that makes sense.

I plan to print out this flag photo and copy it with real paints to hang somewhere in the house. I've always wanted an oil painting of my home! And my kids....and my dog....and my roses....hmmmm...the possibilities are limitless!

BTW, I painted the banner of the children with the umbrella 25 years ago, copying from a little notecard. I can copy anything, just can't draw from real life.

Try out the website!

Laura Lee

Living Room Redo

My project the past week has been to make the living room more inviting. The wheat colored walls had to go. In came a perky green. This has to be first room we've ever painted green. And I like it. And Tom loves it. And Brad is proud of his cut-in job. Mr. Painter Dude won't use tape. Says it's for people who don't know how to paint. In any case, thank you , Brad!

Tom built the ottoman for me last fall.
I love it covered in the checked fabric.
Ok, I just love checks, period!

The $15 thrifted mirror, purchased at the beach last fall.
I stripped it and shabbied it up a bit.

Pillows on parade......
Detail of the pillow adorable is that?

This cute cottagey fabric just called my name.
And I was thrilled to get a sample of it home
and see how well it coordinated with
the stripes on the sofa cushions.

So it's all pulled together.
Come on over and sit a spell with me.
I've put a pot of tea on!

Laura Lee