Thursday, October 14, 2010

Autumn Favorites Continued ... The Best Pumpkin Muffins ... Ever.

Warm Autumn Welcome!

The "baking corner" in our "new" kitchen is in full swing ... we haven't installed the shelves for the jars that will house all dry-goods ... we hope to have those in this weekend as we eagerly prepare for the sub-way tile installation next week!  In the meantime, my desire for baking has increased with the cooler temps and the beauty of the autumn colors outside.

Here's a recipe that will go down through the ages ... generation to generation.

What I like about this recipe is that the batter bakes up so nicely!  They puff up perfectly ... which means they don't "goo-over" the sides of the muffin pan ... hate when that happens.  I like a muffin that has a good "perky" muffin top!  Isn't that weird ... talking about perkiness of muffin tops ... but it really does matter to me :O)  The 2nd benefit of this batter is that they stay crazy moist for days ... not kidding ... they taste as good on day #3 as they do on day #1.

Pumpkin Muffins

                  4 eggs   
                  2 cups sugar
                  1 - 1/2 cup oil
                  1 - 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
                  3 cups flour
                  1 Tbls. cinnamon
                  2 tsp. baking powder       
                  2 tsp. baking soda
                  1 tsp. salt
                  2 cups raisins (optional)
                  1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

                  Beat eggs lightly.  Add next 3 items.  Beat 
                  thoroughly.  Sift dry ingredients and mix until 
                  smooth.  Sitr in raisins & nuts.  Fill greased muffin 
                  cups (I don't use paper liners) 2/3 full and sprinkle tops 
                  with brown sugar.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 15-20 

                  Yield: 2 dozen

davis enjoying a warm pumkin muffin for snack!

~ happy autumn baking my friend ~

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Ceiling and Lighting Make-Over

 Hey y'all!

Just wanted to re-wind time a bit and share the step-by-step process of how we updated the lighting in our kitchen and gave the ceiling a much-needed makeover.
Months ago we hired a friend who happens to be an electrician and he re-vamped our kitchen lighting.

I smile every time I turn the lights on!

This is what we started with ...

see the old track lighting ... it was so dark in
our kitchen at night ... task lighting was definitely needed!

 We found out from Tim (our electrician friend) that
these lights get hot ... and when they do they burn
the dust that sits on them if they aren't cleaned regularly!

We thought our 20-year-old lights were a fire hazard ...
in reality they were just dirty!

I'm so embarrassed!

So Tim got to work ...

... and put a whole grid of these in ...

and hubby got busy patching huge holes ...

and there was also a large beam running through the
middle of the kitchen that turned out to be
decorative (not weight-bearing) ... so out it came, too!

Thank goodness we didn't have to make the ceiling patch-work perfect ... 
because we decided to cover it with this ...

Bead-board Paint-able Wallpaper

you can it here

This product is amazing.  It only costs $25 a roll.  And on a project as big as this ... you gotta love that price!  

We've put it in several places in our kitchen re-do ...

on the sides of the this cupboard

on the backside of the cupboard

as a back splash to the new desk area
and on the side of the lower cabinet ...

I've never done wall-paper and it was so easy-breezy!

Measure - Cut - Wet - Lay


So ... back to the ceiling ...
in order to prepare the ceiling for the paint-able wallpaper
we had to roll on a product called sizing ... it helps prepare the ceiling for the paper and it allows it to be removed w/ease
(if ever this amazing ceiling ever becomes "dated")

Have you ever paid $ for something and found out it was 
I call the man in the following picture a 
marriage saver 
Brian Wood
the wallpaper guy!

He accomplished something in a couple of short hours that would have taken Dan and I days to do ... I am not kidding you ... Brian was worth every single cent.  He did an amazing job and hubby and I celebrated that small investment fee by saving ourselves headaches, frustration and probably a few arguments!


After Brian left ... I started painting ...

and painted ...

and painted some more!

Painting ceilings are tough ... let alone a ceiling with a bead-board pattern ... oy!

I used Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White (the color of all our trim in the house and the color used on the kitchen cabinets) but instead of using a semi-gloss finish ... the ceiling paint sheen is satin.
Sheen is everything!  Normally with a ceiling you want to use "ceiling paint" which has NO sheen ... actually kind of a negative sheen ... which allows no light to bounce off and ricochet across the room.  But for this ceiling ... you want some light to catch those beautiful grooves in the bead-board.  You want JUST ENOUGH sheen to draw the eye-upward ... but not too much that the sheen shows your imperfections (and believe me - there are plenty of those!).  
Soooo ... satin was chosen.

I bit my nails before, during and after ... I wanted the sheen to be just right.  I nailed it!  It catches the light enough but not
too much.  Yeah Yeah Yeah!

And finally the light above the new peninsula/eating area ...
(too bad my camera can't pick up the beauty in the new ceiling and the awesome light fixture)

you can find this here

My original intent was to install 2 of these ...

But they were a bit pricey at $45 each ... plus, I was limited in space over the bar area and didn't want anything hum-drum ... then I saw this at IKEA ...

I got this puppy for only $27!

LOVE a deal!


Our poor lighting issue has been solved.
In fact, the lighting was SO good that when we first flipped the switch ... I saw how dirty my kitchen really was!  
Oh my, now I have a new problem :O) 

Do you have a space that you keep coming back to?  Check out some of these tips here on how to tackle a room make-over.  The biggest lesson I've learned it to be patient ... it's in the waiting time during the project that I find amazing deals ... deals that are either free or so much better than I had originally planned.  There's always a reason why we have to wait ... look for those reasons ... there could be an amazing surprise waiting for you!

Hope you have a great Monday!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sundays are for Resting


"To whom will you compare me?
       Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
       Who created all these?
       He who brings out the starry host one by one,
       and calls them each by name.
       Because of his great power and mighty strength,
       not one of them is missing"

Isaiah 40:25-26 

want more?  you can buy the DVD here

Rest in Him my friend ...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Autumn Favorites

                  If you don't have a favorite chili-n-cornbread recipe ...
                                        this post if for you my friend!


                                        Janet's Chili

2 onion, chopped                                                                       Saute' until softened
2 green pepper, chopped                                                        and ground beef is browned
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. chili powder                                                                     Add.
1 T. cumin
1 T. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. curry
1/4 tsp. rosemary
2 bay leaves

1 quart stewed tomatoes                                                        Add.
3/4 cup ginger ale                                                                     Heat until boiling.
1/3 cup red wine                                                                        Simmer 45 min.
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1 can kidney beans (optional)
1 pint spaghetti sauce (optional) [my homemade sauce is sweet ... you can add about 1/8 cup sugar to yours]

serve with shredded cheddar cheese and big ol' slice of sweet cornbread 

Kara's Sweet Cornbread

3 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup melted butter
5 Tbls. (heaping) cornmeal
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar

Mix.  Pour into greased 9x13 pan or 2 iron skillets.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 40 minutes or done in center.

Happy harvest ... 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Better Use of S P A C E

 I've rec'd some emails asking questions about the vacant corner in our kitchen ...

the upper corner (left of the sink) had this cabinet ...

 ... it was such poor use of space ... I couldn't see what was in the cabinet ... 
(and if you're like me)


So we ripped it out when we saw this picture ...

Debra's Kitchen in NY

it completely opened my little world to a BETTER USE OF SPACE

(all those glass jars make my heart go pitter-patter)

living in a cozy cottage ... you HAVE to look at space different

it has to look pleasing to the eye BUT every nook and cranny 

Thus, the corner will become my baking nook

jars will hold dry goods like flour, sugar, cornmeal, and various grains ... fun!

the corner under the shelves-to-be will house the Kitchen-Aide Mixer

see the two drawers ... they are filled with measuring spoons, 
rolling pin, pastry cutter, ect.

the upper cabinets hold baking supplies like vanilla, baking powder, 
baking soda, cocoa, thickeners, tapioca and mixing bowls 

the cabinet below left houses vinegars, oils, and a big ol' tub of shortening 

the cabinet below right has this new feature ...

a trash can nooked away

Dan and I won this at Kitchen World's Grand Opening Night

I LOVE free

I love a bargain ... but "free" has to beat all.


Wanna see more inspiration of open-shelving in the kitchen?

I'll keep you posted on the baking nook ... for now sweet cornbread is being
baked weekly to go with that yummy fall favorite ... chili!

Note:  I hope to post more pics about Debra's Kitchen in NY ... it is amazing ... she taught
            me that you can have the kitchen you want ... just think outside the box ... and don't 
            do what everybody else is doing. 

Happy Fall my friend!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sundays are for Resting

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11


rest in Him my friends ...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

So What Do You Do When Life Runs So Fast You Can't Catch Up?

Well, my dear friends.  To say life got a little busy ... is a complete understatement.  Wow.  One minute we were on vacation at the lake house in NH ... the next minute we were into a back-to-school routine.  And once that moment comes ... you gotta hang on hard to your britches ... time flies!

Davis (our oldest son - will be 10 soon) was suppose to have surgery (his twelfth ... but who's counting?!) in August ... but due to circumstances that could not be controlled ... it was rescheduled for December.  He was relieved ... and it really did work out because he would have missed out on the several weeks of summer fun.  This way he can still play flag-football!  It is all about sports for him :O)

So I say all of that because I think to myself, "Gina, are you nuts for trying to do a blog about your cottage-thang when your life is so busy?"  And then I answer myself, "Yes, you are completely nuts ... you've got two small (medium) boys that have their own medical issues (nothing life threatening -- just a part of our life journey), and a wonderful husband who loves to eat home-cooked meals, plus I'm trying to work a part-time job at the school the boys attend, also serving in a couple of ministries at our church and attempting to do a kitchen re-do on top of it all."

Wow ... when I write it all out ... it does sound like a lot.  

I hesitate to show you pictures ... because I can only see the stuff that still needs to get done
 ...sigh ...
but I'm among friends ... right?

So after weeks of filth, dry-wall dust, sub-flooring, no-running water in the kitchen, and missing counter-tops ... we have something to show for our work ...

 Do you remember what it looked like before?

before ...

after ...

before ...

after ...

before ...


after ...

what you see below was the toughest part of the whole project ...
Dan says, "there should be a rule that says ... the operator of the sink should weigh less than the sink!"  

it is sooooooooo   H  E  A  V  Y  !


Mom, what do you think? 

Mom was with us during the grit the grime and the muck!  
Thanks mom for all the tomatoes you canned this summer in a kitchen that 
really didn't even exist ... we love you!


So ... my hope is that I can blog about all the fun things that happened along the journey ... the sink, the faucet, that new dishwasher ... and did you see the frig?!  CRAIGSLIST FIND!  Amazing ... can't wait to share all the "wow" moments.


What still needs to happen?  

Subway Tile Back Splash

Bar Stools

Hardwood Flooring

Pantry Re-do



So good to be with y'all again!

Happy Fall!