Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and your family a Christmas full of love and joy and a very happy New Year.

Thank you for taking the time to read this year and always for your kind words - I'm so thankful for friends far and near.

Happy Holidays With Love,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reader Recipe Feature: Winter Spiced Cocoa

 This is a recipe that was sent to me back during the summer, and even though were in the midst of one of the warmest months of the year, I looked forward to trying this cocoa mix once it cooled down.  Well, here we are in the middle of December, and I'm just now getting around to trying this delicious spiced cocoa! I couldn't wait to share, because not only do we still have a few cold months ahead, but I think this would also make a fabulous holiday gift.

 A reader named Patty, who also happens to be extremely sweet, kindly shared this recipe.  She told me that as soon as there is a hint of fall in the air, she makes a large jar of this as it is so good during the winter months.  I have a feeling we'll be doing the same now!

Patty doubles the batch, but only makes one at a time so that it mixes well in the food processor.  She then stores it in a mason jar.

I think what makes this cocoa a little special is that it includes so many wonderful spices, even cardamom, which Patty loves (and me too!). 

 Winter Spiced Cocoa Recipe:

2 cups powdered milk (Patty recommends Organic Valley brand)
3/4 cup vanilla sugar (recipe will follow)
1/2 cup natural cocoa (baking cocoa)
1/2 cup non dairy creamer powder (such as Coffee Mate)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse until mixed well. Store in air tight container. Mix 3 Tbsp. to a cup of very hot water.

Vanilla Sugar Recipe:

1-2 vanilla beans
2 cups sugar
Split and scrape the vanilla beans. Mix into the sugar and bury the pods into the sugar. Let the mixture sit overnight before making the cocoa for the first time.  (Patty makes a double recipe to use for other recipes too). Store in a tightly covered jar (keeps for a very long time).

Once a batch of the cocoa is made, it is so easy to add it to some hot water.  I topped ours with homemade whipped cream and a little cocoa too (smile).  The flavor of all the different spices is so delicious.

 I love the idea of packaging the cocoa mix to give as a gift.  I put some in a jar and wrapped it with bakers twine and a tag. 

 I have a couple rolls of bakers twine, but I like this thicker cording better, especially when using it to wrap gifts. 

Jillian has been begging me to buy cocoa for a long time... I kept promising her I would make some for us to try.  

So there were definitely some squeals of excitement when they got up from their nap and discovered hot cocoa waiting for them (smile).  Thank you, Patty, for sharing your recipe with us! I hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Farmhouse Christmas

Today I'm sharing a little of our home decorated for the season, mostly just photos.  My decorating is simple as usual, but I always love this time of year, bringing in natural elements and fresh greenery and of course, adding touches of red!  As it's been quite busy around here lately, we're still adding a few touches here and there... but more than anything, the girls and I have had a lot of fun just working on some wintry crafts and making a lot of pom-pom garlands, which I'll have to share soon (smile).  

I am sure you are looking as forward to Christmas as I am... spending time with loved ones and special memories together.

Anyway, here are a few peaks around our farmhouse.  I'm joining eight wonderful bloggers in sharing some of our farmhouse style and I know you will love touring their homes (links at the bottom of the post)!

The Living Room

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

The Front Porch

Following are links to the other home tours ... I know you will enjoy visiting them and their homes as much as I do!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Porch Greenery

With the cold weather and rain we've been having, it suddenly felt past time to remove the pumpkins from our porch and add a few winter touches!  Off to the farmers market we went and home we came with fresh wreaths and greenery. 

The wreaths were so beautiful and fresh in their simplicity that I left them just the way they were.  
(We used removable 3M hooks on the porch to hang the wreaths.)

 The farmers market had a lot of greenery clippings and kindly invited us to take as much as we liked, so I had plenty to add here and there, inside and out.  I love its crisp wintery scent.

 With it only cold on Saturday, we bundled up and ventured outside for some fresh air.  I decided to try my hand at making a wreath with all the extra clippings I brought home... well, needless to say, my amateur attempt didn't look even a fraction as lovely as the ones we bought, but it was a festive enough touch for the back of the house (smile).

Happy December!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bathroom Update

 I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!  Ours was wonderful and I suppose I'm still basking in the memories... I haven't even removed the pumpkins from our front porch yet (smile).

We recently completed a fairly inexpensive and quick update to our bathroom.  We had company staying with us over the Thanksgiving holiday and it provided a great source of motivation to get everything completed!

BEFORE (during a walk-through before purchasing):


A couple years ago we made a few improvements to the bathroom but other projects took priority and we finally got around to replacing the ceiling, walls and fixtures.  

I'm going to be honest here and mention that while we love our old farmhouse, there are times that it can be very exhausting and frustrating (especially for my husband).  Nothing is square, and there are always obstacles when working on any project.   The biggest obstacle in this room was installing a bathroom fan, believe it or not, a bathroom essential that had never been added.  Justus finally purchased one of the smallest fans he could find because of the lower ceiling and because we were unable to vent it through the roof.  After dealing with excess moisture in the room, we were pretty thrilled to have a bathroom fan, even if the placement wasn't ideal! 

Justus pretty much made every decision on the bathroom, and I really love what he did, even down to the mirror choice.  We both wanted a wood ceiling (too many years dealing with sheet-rock peeling paint, in both houses we have owned) and Justus chose pine planks, which I coated with poly to protect from moisture.  Although wood ceilings tend to darken a room quickly, the natural pine really kept the room light and fresh. 

Justus installed wood beadboard walls to match the rest of the house, which we then painted white.  We were so happy to say goodbye to the faux lineolum walls! 

Really the only choice I made for the bathroom were the light fixtures.  I wanted to find something that looked just right and I spent too much time searching online before finding these Martha Stewart fixtures from Home Depot.  I loved them even more when Justus brought them home from the store and installed them.  I love the look of a single sconce on each side of the mirror but I was very nervous that it wouldn't let off enough light; I'm happy to say that is not the case at all. 

 Because the bathroom is small, we kept it as simple, light and uncluttered as possible.  Justus made a towel peg rack from some reclaimed wood and we hung a single picture. 

We absolutely love these oak shaker pegs from Lowe's and have used them for a couple projects now.  And hanging towels from pegs is so much easier than a towel bar! 

 Eventually I'd love to repurpose a dresser into a sink here, but that's a project for another day.  Our next big project is putting in a bathroom upstairs (eek)! 

Lastly, a look at the other side of the bathroom where Justus built some cupboards and shelves last year.  (You can read that post here.) 

And while we're on the subject of the bathroom, my highlight of the week is having an almost potty trained little two year old (Rosetta)!

I hope you have a great week.  Thanks for taking a little tour of our bathroom!
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