Friday, June 28, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bathroom Renovation Completed...

When I published our bathroom redo reveal, I mentioned that I would be using the cool, calm colors of the beach as my inspiration for finishing touches in the room. The bathroom renovation was finished while we vacationed at a beach house in North Carolina, and when we came back those memories of the fun we had were center-most on my mind, so I wanted colors and decorations to reflect that wonderful trip.

We had a photo shoot of the family while we were in the Outer Banks. Here's a photo toward the end of the shoot of our 12 sweet grandchildren all dressed in those beautiful, calm beachy colors. As you can see playing in the ocean was a strong pull for some of them -- so funny!

With 12 grandchildren nine and under, everything is an adventure with this crew! Our photographer was fabulous. I would like to point out just how adorable little baby Taitum is with her head on her cousin Zoey's shoulder. So sweet.  Sigh...

Where was I? Oh yes...our vacation at the Outer Banks became my inspiration for the few decor items I placed in the newly renovated bathroom.

Shower Curtain:
One highlight of our trip was when we chartered a pontoon boat and went dolphin watching on the sound. With a crew of 26 people (our immediate family), it's easy to charter a boat all to ourselves! We were lucky enough to come upon a large pod of dolphins that swam close to our boat and seemed to enjoy the attention we gave them...

To commemorate that experience I chose this fabulous shower curtain...

I realize the shower curtain sports whales, not dolphins. They're both mammals -- it'll do.

I think we collected 200 pounds of shells during our one week stay at Whalehead Beach. We brought home a fraction of what we collected, and I put them in this apothecary jar. I asked my friend Sharon (of Vinyl Wall Expressions) to make a custom vinyl sign to go on the jar...

I tucked two little duck decor items in my suitcase when I was at my mother's home helping her downsize a couple of months ago. She'd had them for years, and I loved their color so I planned to use them in the "new" bathroom. What I didn't know is that they would come to mean even more to me as I decorated with the Outer Banks in mind. One of the best treats in the Outer Banks is a donut shop called "Duck Donuts." I cannot say enough about these delicious made-to-order cake donuts. They come to you fresh and warm and are unbelievably delectable, and they are solely responsible for my four pound weight gain within a six day period. {I'm shocked it wasn't more.} We couldn't shove them in our mouths fast enough...

Whenever I look at these little turquoise ducks of my mom's, I'll have a flashback to Duck Donuts...

I found this cute "Sea Salt" Lido Soap at Anthropologie...

During the photo shoot we found a crab that entertained the kids...

I'm going to frame a print of a crab and put it on one of the walls in the bathroom. I'm considering a print from this Etsy artist.

Towels & Bath Mats: 
Towels the color of the ocean...

Bath Mats from Urban Outfitters remind me little of the seagrass on the beach...

Well there you have it. These are the items that helped finish off this bathroom redo. I'm hoping that as our children and grandchildren come home for a visit, they will be reminded of the fun times we've had together as a family at the Outer Banks. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Staycation ... Lyons, CO

This summer I hope to occasionally create a blog post entitled "Staycation." These posts will feature sites within driving distance of our hometown -- Longmont, Colorado. I might feature locals tourist sites, fun activities or restaurants that we've visited close to home.

Last weekend we traveled about 10 miles up the road to a sleepy little town (population 2000) called Lyons. Lyons is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and is located 20 miles east of Rocky Mountain National Park and 45 miles northwest of Denver. It's situated at the intersection of State Highway 7 and U.S. Highway 36 both of which lead to Rocky Mountain National Park, so it is sometimes referred to as "The Double Gateway to the Rockies."

We hadn't walked the short three block Main Street for years, so we decided to see if Lyons had anything new to offer and decided to go there for lunch last Saturday. Recently, we've noticed a revitalization effort in the town, although it is still one place that has seemed to escape the commercialization that have infected most towns in Boulder County. Lyons is tucked up again beautiful flagstone cliffs and has many historical sandstone buildings and sidewalks throughout the town.

Lyons has become a bit of a mecca for artists, outdoor enthusiasts (particularly bicyclists and hikers), and musicians. I didn't find anything very interesting in the shops along Main Street -- with the exception of "Quilting Hands" fabric store. I didn't even know this store existed. They have a huge selection of designer fabrics and a large "sale" section that I could get lost in. Definitely worth the 10 minute drive up the road!

Source for image.

For lunch we got off the main drag and walked one street up to Stone Kitchen...

We'd never been there, but there were a lot of cars in the parking lot and even more cyclists relaxing at the outside tables.

I loved the variety of their menu and chose a sandwich named "California Dreamin' {being a native Californian how could I go wrong!?!} -- bacon, spinach, tomatoes, avocado with a garlic aioli on homemade sourdough bread. It was a whole lotta wonderful. I'm going to have to try to duplicate that sandwich at home...

We loved our quick trip to Lyons, and I'm sure we'll be reoccuring visitors to Stone Kitchen, and I'll be a frequent visitor to Quilting Hands fabric store.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Suzanne's Banana Pudding...

I made something yummy for the hubs for Father's Day. He deserves the best, so I wanted it to be special. I think I delivered. This Banana Pudding Recipe is simple and delicious, which for me is the very best kind of recipe.The recipe is one I adapted from a Pinterest find. I think I made it even more deletable! You might want to try it!

Suzanne's Banana Pudding 
 {Serves 6-8}

16 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
3.4 oz. box of instant banana pudding mix
Half pint heavy whipping cream
1 box Nilla Wafers
4 ripe bananas, sliced


This pudding is best when "aged" to perfection. Ideally it should be made 12 - 24 hours ahead for best results, but you can get away with 4 hours ahead.

In a mixing bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk with water for about a minute. Add pudding mix and beat for an additional three minutes. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Two hours later, in another large bowl on high speed, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed of mixer to very slow and gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until fully combined.

In large serving bowl, put a thin layer of pudding followed by a layer of wafers, bananas, and more pudding. Repeat the layering, ending with pudding on top and some crushed wafers for decoration. You should have three layers of wafers and bananas and four layers of pudding mixture. I use an  8" glass pedestal bowl.

This pudding is light, fluffy, and decadent and is the perfect summertime dessert. 
I hope you like it too!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thankful Thoughts...

It's been awhile since I wrote a Thankful Thoughts post, but that isn't because I've had nothing to feel grateful about {quite the contrary}, so I have a little catching up to do. I'll start with an experience I had about a month ago...

What moved me this month?

As we drove into the parking lot of Carabas in Newport News I joked to my husband that this was going to be a first for us -- an "internet date". ;o} I'd met Chris a few years before through my blog. That summer we were both planning weddings for our daughters, and we did a little collaborating. In time we found that we had much in common. We both have large families and adore our grandchildren. We both love to sew. Although we are of different religions, we both share a deep and abiding love for and faith in our Savior and the scriptures and have exercised this faith to help see us through difficult times. That's a solid foundation to base a friendship on, but I also appreciated Chris' happy attitude and giving spirit. In any case this was the first time she and I were to meet face to face, so I was a little nervous and shy. We had set up a time and place to meet with our husbands for dinner.

I've looked back on that evening many times in the last month and each time I do, I am moved. My husband and I had a wonderful time getting to know Chris and her husband better. Meetings like that can often be uncomfortable, but there wasn't any awkwardness that night. Chris and I talked like we'd been friends for years, and I've pondered that a bit lately. I've no doubt that Chris has many friends. She's the type of person that people are drawn to, but I feel as if she was put in my path for a reason. The last couple of years have been difficult at times for our family. We've had some very serious health issues and accidents in our family. Although she often didn't know about these circumstances as they were happening, Chris was frequently there with a kind, encouraging word when I needed it most. One time I was particularly low and I reached out to her through an email. She sent me a list of scriptures to read that had helped her. I read every one and by the time I was finished, I was at peace. Friendships based on faith, love and service are lasting. I am continually moved by God's hand in my life. He often uses others to minister to me, and I'm grateful. I'm also moved by the example of others, like Chris, who listen to promptings they receive and act to help minister to those within their circle. To me, that's the sign of a true disciple.

What surprised me this week?

Last Saturday we planted the rest of our garden. I know, I know -- we are really late in the planting cycle. We had been so busy the weeks before that we didn't get half of the veggies planted on time, but we went ahead anyway hoping for the best. The only items we planted from seeds were lettuce and herbs. This week, two days earlier than expected, we noticed our lettuce sprouting! Even though I realize the natural order of things states that plants grow from seeds, I'm always surprised when something I've planted actually sprouts! It's such a feeling of accomplishment.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday's Fabulous Finds...

I spy with my Etsy eye some...
baubles and bow ties.

Clockwise, starting top left:

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Animal Jars...

I'm a little late in joining the "Animal Jar" bandwagon. I saw this idea months ago when I was visiting my son's family, and it was love at first sight. My daughter-in-law has incredible taste. Their house is a kaleidoscope of colors, textures and patterns -- and it works beautifully. She had made some of these jars and put them on a shelf in their bathroom to store Q-tips, cotton balls, and other small bathroom necessities.

When we started buying items for our latest bathroom revamp, I bought the necessary jars and animals to put on a shelf in our "new" bathroom. Then we went to the Outer Banks and I decided to do a beach-themed bathroom. These zoo animals didn't fit the part anymore, but I went ahead and made them as a house-warming present for one of my daughters who is moving into a new home the end of this month.

These jars are 9" x 4.5", 7" x 4.5", and 5" x 4.5", so I bought miniature animals that were slightly larger than the normal miniature animals. All these items were purchased at Hobby Lobby at 50% off, so it was very inexpensive. The largest jar was only $2.40 at 50% off and the smaller jars were even less!

Each jar had a brushed metal lid, so I sprayed each jar lid with a white primer and then with a flat white spray paint. I did the same to the little animals and then super glued them onto the top of the lids. Aren't they adorable? This little guy smiles at me whenever I walk by...

You could use these in the kitchen with colorful beans/popcorn/candies inside -- in an office with paperclips/scissors/etc. -- in a sewing room with buttons/ribbons/etc. -- or in a bathroom as I mentioned before. So cute and Anthropologie-ish.

I don't think I would try to open and close the lid by using the little animal as a "knob" though, because in time I'm sure it would loosen from the lid -- super glue is only so strong.

I'd love some ideas of what you would use these for so I can pass that information onto my daughter. Leave a comment with your ideas!

Linked to:
Handmade Tuesdays @ Ladybug Blessings
Link Party @ Bloom Designs
Handmade Cuddles Link Party

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bloomin' Tuesday...

This year I've experimented with some new plants in my garden. Do you see what I planted this weekend in the photo below?

I decided to fill our birdbath with succulents. Seven years ago when one of my daughters got married, we filled the birdbath with a wreath of flowers. It was gorgeous and since then I've wanted to fill it with some flora rather than fowl. {I've two other birdbaths filled with water for our furry and feathered friends.} As beautiful as the flowers were during the wedding reception {see below} I knew that I couldn't plant annuals in it because it isn't deep enough.

So, I decided to try some succulents. I think they'll have a chance in this shallow container...

I bought a variety of succulents and also some plants that will drape over the edge as they grow. As I think about it, I do still have fowls in my birdbath, because some of these succulents are "Hens and Chicks!"

My tendency is to over-water plants and that's the kiss of death with succulents, so I'll drizzle some water on the annuals every other day and try to completely ignore the beautiful succulents. Here's an additional birdie that is completely at home in this birdbath turned planter...

Linked to:
Ms. Green Thumb Jean's Bloomin' Tuesday

Monday, June 17, 2013

Staycation -- Estes Park Favorites

A few weeks ago we had a family reunion in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The whole week we were there I kept thinking to myself what an idyllic spot it was and wondered if people who called Corolla their "home" realized how lucky they were! Sometimes we don't fully appreciate what's in our own back yard. Last weekend I had a taste of that when my husband and I went up to Estes Park, Colorado. We've lived at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains for 27 years and several times a year we take advantage of what's in our own backyard and make the 30 minute drive to Estes Park -- the Gateway to the Rockies.

If you've never been, Estes Park is nestled in a beautiful valley at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. It's a popular summer resort, so in the summer months the town swells from its population of less than 6,000 to many more. My favorite time of the year to visit Estes is in the fall  -- there's less of a chance of inclement weather, the aspen trees are a resplendent golden color, and the crowds are non-existent.

As a family we've enjoyed many of the attractions Estes Park has to offer. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park is a must if you're visiting the area. A drive on Trail Ridge Road -- the highway that traverses the tundra on the continental divide through Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Grand Lake -- is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but more often than not we simply drive up to Estes Park for lunch, a bit of shopping, and an occasional round of mini-golf at Cascade Creek.

Saturday we did just that. It was remarkably quiet in Estes that day, which is surprising during the summer. Remember to bring long pants and a jacket even during the middle of the summer. It was only 76 degrees that day and a sweater would have felt good, but it was delightful to get out of the heat that we've experienced the last couple of weeks on the Front Range.

I'm sure there are any number of good restaurants in Estes Park, but the one we go back to time and time again is Poppy's.  

Poppy's is situated on the Riverwalk in Barlow Plaza on Elkhorn Avenue. It has inside and outside dining. The outside dining has this beautiful view...

Although I see many people choose other items from their menu, don't bother. Their pizza is the best! You can build your own, which is what I always do {Basil Pesto Sauce, Chicken, Artichoke, and Spinach}, or choose from one of their traditional pizzas. Either way you won't be disappointed. The individual pizza is a more than generous serving, and our tab was $21 for two individual pizzas and two drinks.

After pizza you might feel like taking a walk to visit the gift shops that line Elkhorn Avenue, the main thoroughfare through town.  When we first moved to Colorado almost 30 years ago the shops in Estes Park were nothing to brag about, but in the last few years they've upgraded and there are some really fun, unique shops there now. You'll find the typical tourist boutiques, but interspersed among them are some gems. "Thirty Below Leather" is one of those shops. They have all types of items made from leather -- purses, backpacks, gloves, wallets, slippers, etc. -- all for under $30.

When you're done shopping, you'll need to make one last stop at Laura's for some of the best homemade ice cream and waffle cone you've ever eaten.

There are at least ten other ice cream shops along the route, but we save ourselves for Laura. While you're there you might want to tuck some fudge or toffee in your purse for later. Here's a photo of my cone from the other day. I'd already delved into it by the time I took this picture.Yum...

I'm an ice cream lover, but I'll tell you right now, I don't know which is better the ice cream or the cone. For those more health conscious, ;o) their variations of candied apples are wonderful too...

We took a short drive {5 minutes} past Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, as we headed out of town.  Here's a shot of the view along that route that I took with my iPhone...gorgeous!

We had a fabulous time in the Outer Banks for our family reunion, but we're thinking next time we might want to have a mountain retreat instead of a trip to the beach. Both are wonderful. Our children are familiar with Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, but their spouses and children haven't been there much. We want to remind our children what they're missing by living in a state other than Colorado -- maybe some of them will choose to move back here. There's a method to our madness. ;o)