Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Honoring Mom

This past Saturday evening I decided to celebrate Mother's Day early with my family.  It was a beautiful night outside and a lovely time together as we honored Mom with some of my favorite homemade Mexican fare!

The table was set simply with feminine details that I thought Mom would appreciate like using my country rose china along with my everyday white dinner plates and glasses.  I found some pretty paper napkins to add color and simplify the clean up. 

For the centerpiece of the table I used a burlap runner that I folded in a bit, with a round wooden board as a base for a simple heirloom peony arrangement straight from our flower bed!  Peonies smell so good and the large flowers are stunning! I sent Mom and my sister home with one each to enjoy for the next few days. 

The views are so pretty out of our windows, so it's easy to look past the table and into the green yard beyond.  Last year when we moved into this house we changed out many of the light fixtures in this home including the one over the table.  I wanted to find a light that virtually disappeared so it wouldn't detract from the windows, and I think we achieved that when we ordered this one from Birch Lane after seeing a similar one on Fixer Upper (our favorite show!).  We love the simple elegance of the shape and the Edison light bulb that we have in it.  It's a favorite in my kitchen!

Stealing a kiss!

Here's a candid picture showing a mom's job is never done.  I appreciate my own mom soooo much more now that I'm one myself! 

The afternoon sun filled the kitchen as I was finishing up the meal.  I made some chicken fajitas with Cuban black beans, buttered lime rice, roasted corn and avocado salad, and homemade guacamole with chips!

Mom is the one who taught me that cooking for your family is more than just preparing food, but it's showing love to those around your table... making them feel nurtured and feeding their bodies with the rhythm of sitting around the table every night! I still absolutely love it when we're in each other's kitchen and we can cook together!!  We're constantly sharing recipes or new tips and tricks we've discovered in the kitchen!  She gave me this apron I have one about 5 years ago at Easter and has given me most of my favorite ones. She wears an apron almost everyday while cooking.

Mom is so very appreciative of my food and cooking as I am hers.  With us both being moms now, like I said before, we have a better appreciation and understanding of all that we do for our families and our homes. 

Many weeks I've found myself calling her or texting her to pray for me as I need wisdom in the newest struggle in parenthood or wondering if she ever felt like she would never again catch up on laundry when we were kids.  It's those real moments as an adult (especially as a wife and mother) where I realize I need mom now as much as I ever have!

We call ourselves 3 peas in a pod, because my sister, mom and I are so much alike!

This lovely lady has shaped so much of who I am from the time I was their tiny first born baby in her arms. 32 years of life and I've learned a thing or two along the way!

So much of the content I have on my blog from the recipes, the home décor, the love of beauty, talent of singing, and especially my love and passion for Jesus and my family has been encouraged and inspired by Mom!!! 

As I look back she and Papa have cheered me on in every stage of life from the second I thought I was a soccer player in middle school (ha) to the first time I ever lead worship at church and every time since I can honestly say they've prayed and encouraged me along the way. 

I want to honor Mom for who she is to me!

I only hope one day my children will be able to feel half the love and appreciation for me that I do for my wonderful mom! 

Just the way Granny (her mom) passed down to her and she passed down to me, I want to carry down the legacy of love for the next generations to look back and see that this family heritage was built on learning from each other and leaning on God one prayerful day at time!!!

"Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise."  Proverbs 31:31

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Summertime Roasted Corn with Avocado Salad

I'm excited to share with you a recipe from one of my newest cookbooks that I'm a huge fan of already!  First thing is first, this cookbook is fantastic.  It's called Seasons in the South and it's by a Georgia gal name Ginny McCormack.

I've fallen in love with how she almost tells a story through food!  The recipes are tried and truly Southern, and they're divided into the 4 seasons and by meal or occasions, which makes it more enjoyable to look through.  I'm a seasonal cook, and I've always appreciated the different seasons so it is delightful to find a cookbook like this one that divides the recipes that way!  The pictures are extraordinary in here.  Each spread has a large photo that's beautifully capturing the essence of the season through scenery, table-scapes, and the prepared recipe.

The cookbook is filled with bits of stories or quotes that apply to that particular season or the meal the recipe is in. It's really a delight to look through!

This is in no way a paid endorsement, but I want to pass my favorites along to you all.  This cookbook is definitely a favorite!

This roasted corn salad comes from the summer section of the book, and it is every bit as tasty as it sounds!  I made it for the very first time tonight, and I can honestly say my pictures don't do the flavor justice... It's sooo delicious!

Our son even asked for seconds.  For a salad!!
This dish is easy to put together and has ingredients in it that nod to a summertime picnic "on the grounds", as my family would say.  The corn is roasted in the oven and couldn't be simpler to prepare, but you can certainly grill it to take the flavor one step further.  There's something about the toasted flavor from the fresh corn alongside the spicy onion, bright tomato and creamy avocado that whisks you away to a tropical beach along the Mayan Riviera! The vinaigrette with citrus and spice isn't heavy at all but enhances all the flavors.

Get out some extra lemon and lime and make some delicious sweet tea or fresh lemonade to sip as you chop up the salad on these sun drenched evenings.  Fire up the grill and put on some steak, chicken or even fish tacos would be decadent with this on top!! I hope this will become your new favorite summer salad, I know it will be mine!

Roasted Corn with Avocado Salad
Adapted from: Seasons in the South

6 ears corn, husks removed
olive oil for brushing
3c. grape tomatoes
1/2c. red onion, chopped (I had Vidalia so that's what I used.)
1/ pepper, chopped
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into small chunks
1/2c. fresh cilantro (I used flat leave parsley)
8 oz. feta cheese (I omitted this particular time.)

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Set aside.

Brush ears of corn with oil.  Place them on a baking sheet (I used a cast iron skillet.)and roast for about 30 minutes until they begin to brown. Line the pan with foil for easier clean up. I turned them a couple times. Allow to cool a bit before removing corn from the ears with a sharp knife.

In a mixing bowl, combine corn and all remaining ingredients.  Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

3/4 c. (extra virgin) olive oil
4 Tbsp. lime juice (I just had lemons so I used lemon juice.)
2 tsp. ground cumin
11/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper

Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Spring Decor & the Essence of Making a Home

Good morning and Happy May! 

I LOVE the month of May.  It's up there with October for me.

The beautiful, warm, spring weather that has made the grass come back and thicken up and the trees get their youthful green back to them is just my cup of tea... or coffee is more like it.  

Gorgeous flowers in their array of colors are coming back in my gardens and we've filled most of our pots with pretty annuals to adorn the otherwise stark patios on either side of the house.  

The hydrangeas are taking off and should start to bloom later this month, and I have about 12 (twelve!) peony plants that have stolen my heart!  The smell of those is captivating!

I'm always inspired to freshen up inside my house and brighten things up a bit. Putting away the plaids of winter and getting out my spring décor. 

Speaking of home décor, I wanted to show you what came in the mail this week!  We ordered some curtains for one of our long windows in the kitchen. My kitchen is filled with windows showcasing the views of our property and that's one of the reasons we were attracted to this house, but there are evenings at suppertime when the bursting sunset kindly blinds our eyes as we sit to eat.  Not fun.  So I found some perfectly cheery yellow buffalo check curtains from Country Curtains, and I am loving them!

Note that these kitchen pictures were taken on Monday and it was a dreary kind of day outside, so I didn't have the help of natural sunlight.

My mom and I have always liked the look of buffalo checks.  I think it has a very classic Southern feel and that's exactly what I was going for.  Mom has these exact curtains in the red buffalo check in her dining room, and I've always liked the way they hang and look adorning the window. I'm so pleased with the way they turned out in our kitchen! 

With the cream color on the walls the yellow curtains adds a sunny pop of color, and they really compliment the red accents I have.  My favorite color is red so I have many red accents and that's one reason I chose the yellow (technically they call it gold in the catalog), because I was afraid the red would compete too much.  I also like the classic pattern with out subway tile back splash. 

As you know, I don't have a strict "style" that I adhere too, but I do love farmhouse meets Southern.  

I've reread this last night and I was thinking about my "style" some more. I use that term loosely.  It's hard to even say, because instead of thinking sooo much about one style throughout the house I think of how I want that particular space to feel, if that makes sense.  Everything ends up working together I think, but it's probably not anything a designer would put together; because my home is personal reflection of us and and tells our story!

I just want to put things inside my house that please me and make a house a cozy place for us!  Those unique kind of finds, like the ones I have hanging here.  I LOVE collecting things from travels and "hole-in-the-wall" places we visit.  Layering things together add personality and character to a space.

This vintage strawberry tray came from a peddlers-antique mall in Louisville.  It's a favorite I pull out every spring and summer!  The cookbook is something my husband bought me last summer when we visited this very bakery -- The Back in the Day Bakery -- in Savannah, GA.  One of our favorite places to vacation is staying at a cottage on Tybee Island and strolling along the Spanish moss draped live oak tree-lined squares of the old city of Savannah!!!  It's like heaven on earth to us!  If you ever go to there, please do yourself a favorite and visit this delicious bakery!  It will be a special place to remember, and this cookbook has most of their recipes so it helps me to remember that very special morning all the time.

My husband most recently surprised me with this apron at beautiful shop at a winery in Southern Illinois.  The food and atmosphere at the restaurant is wonderful, but this shop was filled with unique finds!

I spotted this apron that used to be a skirt, and I just fell in love with the pattern and colors.  I knew it would be lovely in our kitchen, and so my husband surprised me by buying it for me!  (He's so much fun!!)  I think it's adorable hanging here next to the curtains.

Let me show you a few more little things here and there around my kitchen. My parents gave me this chalkboard at Christmas.  I enjoy being able to write messages or scriptures or songs to fill our soul with beauty and inspiration.

My favorite salt and pepper shakers that look like 2 love birds in a nest, a precious gift from my sister. 

This is how I keep my seasonal coffee mugs!  I love how I can display them all and it feels that much more special to choose one each morning to drink from. I collect mugs and use them like nothing else in the house... we are big time coffee drinkers!


Table is set for supper with my cornflower blue floral china and simple yellow cloth napkins. Store bought rotisserie chicken with smashed potatoes and green beans is the menu.  The yard looks vividly Irish green, doesn't it? Must be all the rain we've gotten. 

At last the sun decided to show up at least for a few moments, so I tried to capture it streaming in!

Home is what you make it. 

It really doesn't matter the size or the style or the views.  We've had almost all of this furniture and décor in a small 1,000 square foot house in the middle of a prairie field, a carriage house apartment over a friend's garage, and even a cape cod cottage in the city that had absolutely no view except for the next house about 30 feet away. 

It doesn't matter! I've always been determined to make a home, even since I lived in our first home as a married couple which was "college courts -- married housing" at the university that was nearly a one room 500 square foot apartment that literally hasn't changed one iota since it was built in the 1950s -- think post--nuclear fallout shelter, cinder block walls, etc.  I laid down colorful rugs over the cold industrial tile and instead of using the harsh fluorescent lights, I set out warm lamps in every space. I set my table for dinner each night, lit candles and put on music we enjoyed, and I made a home out of that sterile place!  Now we look back on those honeymoon days of marriage in our tiny place fondly! 

Home making is in the food we prepare and the coming together almost every night to the same table for supper.  It's the beautiful practice of breaking bread together, be it family or friends.

Home making is being resourceful. Instead of paying for an expensive fresh flower arrangement, snip branches from blooming trees or bushes like this red bud and forsythia.  Another favorite is hydrangea bushes or whatever lovely thing blooms outside in your yard.  Whether it's the homemade desserts or the deli's rotisserie chicken, the secret is in whatever brings the family together!

Homemaking invigorates the senses.  Candles, music, soft blankets, warm bread in the oven, delicious smelling hand soap. 

It's not fancy things. 

You can get an creative as you like, but it doesn't have to be pricey!  Go to the dollar store and pick up what you need, or get out your nicest gifts.  Actually burn that $25 dollar votive that smells like a dream when you're reading a book or you have a family dinner!  It's worth it.

Home making is creating an atmosphere!  Get an inexpensive chalkboard and paint the edges if you like, but there you can write on it something to inspire your family.  Put words in your home that mean something to you and that bring life! That's usually why I write a Bible verse, or lyrics from a worship song.  I have a couple chalkboards around the house for this reason.

Home making is personal.  Put your own personality in your home and then own it! It's your unique style that makes your home interesting and not straight out of a showcase.  I like unique so this is something that comes easy for me.

Home making is not perfection!  I live with a real family and we do life the way everybody else does! Lately I've been the hot mess mama just trying to finish homework in these last few weeks of school.  I've found myself running late almost everywhere I go and yes, I forget to throw out the not-so-fresh flowers before they get smelly! 

I've decided relationships in my life, people in my life, come before home décor! 

So that may look like taking the Christmas tree down a couple weeks late, not scrubbing the bathtubs every week, or having take-out instead of homemade meals...but home making is not perfection, so give yourself some grace!!

You should be proud of where you live. If you aren't, think of simple changes you can make and start with just one today.  It requires little resources, but just thoughtfulness and your own creativity. 

I just showed you a few of my favorite things give me bits of joy in my home, now what's some of yours?  How do you make your home a place your family enjoys?