Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator pickles are delicious. I had forgotten my love for them until my friend Gina made some and gave them to me, and I ate the whole jar in 2 days.

The recipe I made is slightly different than Gina’s (comes via my friend Becky– hi Becky!) but the idea is the same. Cucumbers and vinegar in a jar with some other yummy things thrown in.

 

20120905-111752.jpg

Refrigerator Pickles by Becky

7 cups cucumbers, sliced and unpeeled
1 sliced yellow onion
1 sliced bell pepper, cored & seeded
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate in a plastic covered dish. Stir once daily for three days. Then they are ready to eat!!! (Might want to divide them into smaller jars or containers)

Once you have all this mixed together, you’ll be like me and think that you left something out because it won’t look very juicy. But after a day or so the liquid from the cukes is sucked out and you’ll be the proud owner of a batch of delicious, juicy refrigerator pickles.

Enjoy on sandwiches, or my personal favorite with chicken tenders. Whatever tickles your fancy.

A Kiss from Heaven at the Mall

I went to the mall on Sunday afternoon. And it was good.

It was a quick trip to pick up shoes for my son. I had ordered from Payless.com and had them shipped to the store to avoid shipping costs. I got three pairs because they were on sale for $10 each and I had a $10 off coupon. So, that’s $20 for 3 pairs of shoes– I can’t really do the math and I’m too lazy to bust out the calculator, but suffice it to say it was one bangin deal.

Payless.com

See, aren’t they the most adorable Converse knock-offs? I can just picture them poking out from his teensy blue jeans. Why are tiny shoes so fun to shop for? Good grief, I still can’t believe my baby has become a toddler who requires shoes.

I was in a pretty good mood after a smooth transaction at Payless. Oh, did I mention that mere moments before I had seen some local celebrity bloggers in the parking lot? There I was, trolling for a space and who do I spot but Lauren from From My Grey Desk and Kate from The Small Things Blog. What to do? Blow the horn? Too redneck. Roll down window and yell? Too creepy– plus I have to keep in mind that they don’t read about my life every morning over coffee. It’s kind of a one-way relationship. Admire from afar and circle around again to get another look? Did it.

So, you could say I was on a roll when I entered Anthropologie. I moseyed over to the perfume area, which of course is located in an 18th century armoire. I picked up a tester called “Edwardian Fireplace” by Royal Apothic. A quick spritz released a bonfire of plums, grapes, clove, and myrrh. It was like the most delectable scent of bottled smoke. Ok, you probably just had to smell it, words just don’t do justice.

But, horror of all horrors, there was only the tester. No merch for purch. I flagged down a responsible looking Anthro employee (she had an official-looking keyring) and asked her to check in back. She did, returning with the news that this scent was….discontinued.

“Can I get the tester?” I asked. Have I mentioned that I have no shame?

“Well, um, it’s marked regular price. I guess…I guess I could just give it to you?”

Yes. Yes, you could.

And that, friends, is how I got free perfume at Anthropologie.

20120904-200940.jpg

This little luxury item (MSRP $32) now makes its home in my dresser drawer. Ain’t she a beauty?

Walking back to my car, I had to smile in thankfulness. Thankful that the Lord was kind to bless me with free perfume through the generosity of an Anthro employee– a “kiss from heaven,” as my friend Holly used to say. He knows me well.

I’d like to hear about your “kiss from heaven” experiences– small surprises that reveal God’s kindness toward you. Doesn’t have to be “thing” related like mine, just something that ministered to you.

Did It Myself: Demilune Table

Have I mentioned before that I love to shop at thrift stores? No? Well I do. Nothing is more relaxing to me than rifling through a pile of moth-eaten junk in search of a treasure. It thrills me to see potential in a sad, unlovable castoff and restore it to glory. “Glory” an exaggeration, you say? Well, perhaps my bent cane demilune table re-do will change your mind!

This is the sad before picture. Dark wood, peeling, rickety, random dangly string attached, ready for the dump. I scooped him up at the Rescue Mission and brought him home to my garage.

before, so sad and droopy

With some sanding, primer, and gray paint, this droopy little table is now quite a looker!

Ok, so I’ll admit that the photos could be better, but I hope the general essence of this cozy corner is conveyed. I always did like demilune tables, and this little bent cane one is the perfect addition to tuck into a bare edge of my living room. I’ve already switched the lamp and objets d’art (French for “articles of some artistic value,” or, as my mother would say, “dust collectors”) since this photo was taken. So fun to have another surface to accessorize! Just like jewelry for my home. Like my living room just turned 12 and got her ears pieced. Okay, that analogy may have just broken down.

I hope this gives you the courage to rescue some forlorn thing and love it back to life. Maybe that’s what I love so much about restoring– it’s like redemption for furniture.

Just a shadow of what God has done for us.

Come broken and weary

Come battered and bruised

My Jesus makes all things new

All things new

“The Question” Animated Short Film

Hi there, just wanted to share this quick video. The song is moving and the animation is stunning. If you are heartbroken like me about marriages that are crumbling or have already ended in divorce, then this will be a tearjerker.

This was produced by some of the talented folks at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC for a sermon series on marriage.

Enjoy and pass along.

Direction, Animation, and Illustration by Jesse Bond

Illustration and Titles by Rachael Dowdy

Additional Illustration by Stephen Eyles

Music by Josh Garrels “Ulysses”

Produced by Port City Community Church

Almost Autumn

It’s a good day when this arrives in my mailbox.

Apple delights? I’d be delighted. Charming cottage makeovers? Don’t mind if I do. The South’s best tailgate? I’m there with bells (and N.C. State red) on, as long as you don’t make me go to the  actual football game.

Yes, it appears that fall is imminent. Pinterest is clogged with images of glittery chevron pumpkins and paint dipped pinecones. Paint dipped pinecones? Yep.

factorydirectcraft.com

Pottery Barn is displaying its autumn finery in the form of etched antique mercury glass pumpkins and carved wood owls.

Pottery Barn

Anthropologie is burning Sweet Balsam candles and stocking homewares replete with owls, leaves, and owls on leafy branches.

anthropologie

All signs of consumer culture point to fall’s impending arrival.

But there’s just one thing.

Here in central North Carolina…it’s still stinkin’ hot outside.

Sticky, humid, sweaty hot.

So for now I’ll sip an apple cider, dip a pinecone in paint, and turn the AC down to 55.

And dream of autumn.

Mom Brain

Mom brain. I always believed it was just an excuse naturally feather-brained people used once they bore children. Forget an appointment? Leave the oven on while gone for vacation? Hit a pedestrian with your minivan? Blame it on Mom Brain!

I’d always found a measure of pride in being a person who had it all “together.”

Friends, pride does indeed goeth before a fall.

Exhibit A:

rinse and forget?

Opened a brand new tube of toothpaste one night before bed. Threw box in trash and tube in toilet. Thrifty as I am, I just could not bring myself to fish the tube out a use it. Probably would have been fine, but I had to draw the line at toilet paste.

The instances of me getting in the car and forgetting how to get to my destination are too many to count. I need to stress that these are destinations I frequent– church, grocery store, etc.

But tonight, well, tonight took the cake.

Step by ridiculous step, this is what I did:

1. Left cell phone in puddle of water in garage.

2. Forgot about cell phone for 3 hours.

3. Remembered cell phone and discovered in aforementioned puddle.

4. Decided to cover soggy phone with uncooked rice to soak up moisture (tried and true method).

5. Instead poured Bisquick on wet phone.

These 5 easy steps are guaranteed to necessitate a new cell phone.

Needless to say, I am reconsidering my position on Mom Brain. I don’t know if my condition is due to age (did you know your brain begins deteriorating at age 25?) or if I can truly attribute this to maternity.

So ladies with and without children, weigh in. Is it age or is my baby literally making me crazy?

Ocean Isle 2012

For 38 years, my husband’s family has gone to the beach for a week together in the summer. What began as a small group has now grown quite large by marriages and births– if all parties are present, there are 35 of us.

While we no longer all stay in the same house, we do get together for dinner several times during the week and for beach time every day. And there is a good bit of inter-house visiting that goes on after the teeny ones are put to bed!

Since vacation was never much of a tradition in my family, I am so glad to have gained this strong value through my husband’s side. It’s so neat to see the 2nd cousins– all 13 of them, so far– play together, just like their parents did years ago.

“Beach Hunk” first cousins, courtesy of Meems.

Face to the wind.

chillin’ with Pops

John’s cousin Wes is engaged to Stacy. She is from Taiwan and her birth name is Ming Chun. She chose Stacy as her American name. How cool would it be to be able to choose your own name? I would choose Luella. I love that name….but I’ll never get to use it, even if we have a daughter one day, because it isn’t traditional. Or biblical. And these are the requirements.

Luke with first-cousin-once-removed Wes and his fiance, Stacy.

Stacy wore a head covering to protect herself from the sun whenever she was on the beach. In her culture, translucently white skin is the beauty ideal. In Taiwan I would be remarkably beautiful indeed. If only I could combine Taiwanese culture with one of those cultures that sees a few extra pounds as a sign of wealth and prosperity. In that culture I would be, like, Heidi Klum. Too bad I’m from American, proud home of Hydroxycut and Planet Beach.

Luke and Stacy

John and cousin Scott

long day at the beach

Luke never does this, but the first day on the beach he fell right asleep on my lap. Just look at his little swimmy diaper peeking out from his trunks! So sweet I could eat him.

This year was a little different than usual because many of us couldn’t make it for the entire week.  (Luke and I were there the whole time. We are hard-core like that about vacation.) In the past, I’ve received an email in advance soliciting my activities selections. Relaxation? Check. Tennis? No thanks. Horseshoes? Double no. Once at the beach, the schedule for the week is posted. I love it– of course all scheduled activities are optional, but with such a big group, it’s nice to always know what’s going on!

What about you– any treasured family vacation traditions? Or, not so treasured?

Did It Myself: Ugly Fireplace Solution

This was my fireplace. A black pit of sooty despair.

These gas logs quit working some time last century. And yet they remained, all eyesore-ish, mocking me in my own home.

Well, fireplace–you who harbored all species of creepy-crawlies in your insidious depths, competed for a feature on Hoarders: Dust and Cobwebs Edition, and welcomed swarms of honeybees into my living room—who got the last laugh?

Husband went out of town and and I took advantage of this rare time of autonomy to do something “non-traditional” without having to explain myself.

Here’s the story from the start…

First, I assembled all the necessary tools. It was a dirty job. I unhooked the gas logs and threw them away. Yes, threw them away. Some would say I should have kept them for when we sell the house. But I couldn’t help it– I know garbage when I see it.

Then came step 2:

I went out to my garage to get the wheelbarrow full of old books. The Durham Rescue Mission has bins of old books for free, and that’s where these came from. I loaded them in the back of John’s Jeep and waited for him to realize they were there. He rode around for a few weeks before noticing. This was my master plan to get him to unload them to the garage. It worked.

And this is what happened:

The photos don’t do it justice, but I really like how this project turned out. And when I get tired of it, it’s super-easy to change! What a win. Best part: grand total, $0.

What about you? Any innovative ugly fireplace solutions?

Product Review: Starbucks Via Ready Brew

I like coffee. I’m not one of these addicts who turn into gremlins if denied their morning brew, but nonetheless, I like the stuff. Hot. And black.

But there’s a problem. I hate cleaning the coffee pot. And since I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, I always end up wasting a bunch of coffee. For a while I switched to a percolator, but I eventually grew to despise washing that too. What can I say? Washing blows.

So, when I saw this on sale for $3.99 (regularly $7.99) at Food Lion, I thought it was worth a try.

Starbucks Via Ready Brew

Starbucks Via Ready Brew– 7 individual packets, just dump in a cup and pour in hot water. Voila! So I made a cup. And tried it. And the verdict was….

Not good.

In fact, one might call it bad.

It was weak and left a chemical-y, artificial aftertaste. Which is odd, considering there are few ingredients:

In an effort to give Via another chance, I brewed another cup, chilled it, added milk and poured over ice. Iced coffee! Still bad.

To be fair, the only way I take my coffee is really strong and black. This product may be better with some creamer added, but that’s not how I roll.

So for me, it was a miss. Glad I didn’t pay full price.

Have you found any quick-brew options that don’t require cleaning of any apparatus? No, I’m not interested in dropping a fortune on a Keurig or K-cups. Surely there’s something else out there?

————————–GIVEAWAY ALERT————————-

Don’t forget to hop over to Simply Chic Mom to enter The Full Home Handmade earrings giveaway– follow my blog or “like” The Full Home on Facebook to earn entries! Giveaway closes on August 15th.

Simply Chic Mom: Giveaway!

Y’all know I like cheap. But free is even better!

That’s why I’m giving away a free pair of earrings from my shop, The Full Home Handmade, to a lucky reader!

Just mosey on over to Simply Chic Mom for the scoop.

While you’re there, check out her “Momstyle” posts. She is so gifted at putting together simple, chic looks that are still functional for busy moms. Simply Chic Mom? Indeed.

She also offers closet consultations, personal styling and personal shopping for those of you who think that capri sweatpants and an XXL t-shirt with sweet potatoes on the sleeve qualifies as an “outfit.” An outfit that you would wear to Target, to the grocery store, and out to dinner. And then sleep in it. And then wear it all day tomorrow too. Shame on you. So glad I’m not like that. And that I did not do that yesterday.

Ahem. But back to the giveaway…

Details at Simply Chic Mom. You can earn up to 6 entries. Enter by Wednesday, August 15. Winner announced Friday, August 17.