Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Garlic Dill Mayonnaise

Pasta salads are one of my favorite summer meals.  You really can't go wrong throwing any fresh vegetable, a little meat, some pasta and some sort of dressing into a bowl.  My husband, however, is a pasta salad snob.  This means we don't normally eat any type of pasta salad in our house.  So, I save these dishes for potlucks and ladies' nights, where I think most people will enjoy it.  I needed a dish to take to a get together last weekend, and I really didn't want to go to the store.  There was a box of pasta in the pantry, fresh veggies and herbs in my garden, and some chicken in the freezer.  Perfect!  After a little research on sprucing up plain mayonnaise, I had something that I liked.  Best part?  My pasta salad snob husband likes it too.

If you read down through the recipe, you'll see that I have 50 cherry tomatoes listed as an ingredient.  It's not necessary to use exactly 50 tomatoes.  I just happened to count them as I was cutting them and tossing them in the bowl.  Feel free to add more garlic, too; I didn't want it to overpower the salad, but if you love garlic, add in another clove or two.

Grilled Chicken Pasta Salad with Garlic Dill Mayonnaise

1 lb. pasta, cooked
2 green peppers, diced
50 cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, chopped
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl gently combine cooked pasta, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and chicken.  In a separate bowl mix together mayonnaise, garlic and dill.  Stir the mayonnaise gently into the pasta mixture until well dispersed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve chilled.

Linking to:

Home Stories A2Z

Monday, June 25, 2012

Purchasing Fabric Online

Recently I received a question from someone asking where online I have purchased my fabric.  So, I thought I would answer her in a post, just in case some others of you were wondering the same thing. Of course, there are countless online fabric stores, but these are just the ones that I have experience with.

My go to is  They have all kinds of fabric -- home decor, quilting, and apparel -- and their prices are very reasonable.  Shipping is free, with any order over $35, and it's usually easy to come up with that big of an order.


When I purchased the huge order of burlap that I keep using for various projects, I ordered it from Online Fabric Store.  This site is especially helpful if you're ordering many yards of the same fabric, as the cost is discounted for larger quantities.  

My mother-in-law introduced me to Chez Ami, which sells beautiful children's apparel.  They also sell their fabric, and it's beautiful!  I purchased some this winter that was on clearance for about $3/yard, and I really love the fabric.  You can sign up to receive their newsletter via email, so that you know when the sales are.

Ashley, from The Handmade Home wrote a great post listing all of her favorite fabric sources, and you can find that post here.  She has much more experience with this than I do, so I wanted you to have that great resource!

If any of you have other great online fabric sources, please, leave in the comments so we can all benefit from your great finds!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Journey through the Psalms: The Goodness of God's Word


Psalm 19: 7-11
"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward."

I love looking through these verses and seeing all of the things that God's Word is and all of the things that God's Word does.  Lately, the Word of God has been powerful in reviving my weary soul. Oh, that I would always allow the truth of God's Word to penetrate my heart, transform my mind, and guide me to walk in righteousness.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sauteed Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes

We are thoroughly enjoying the delicious fresh produce from our garden!  In some ways, we're getting more than we can keep up with.  We pick about 100 cherry tomatoes every day.  I'm trying to be creative as possible with cooking beans, tomatoes, and zucchini in various ways.  This green bean recipe is delicious, and coupled with some corn on the cob, and maybe some homemade biscuits, you could have an entire meal.

Sauteed Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes

3/4 lb. green beans
olive oil {or leftover bacon grease}*
5 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 lb. cooked, diced bacon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcester sauce

Steam {or boil, but I prefer to steam them} green beans until done, but not too soft.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil.  Add mushrooms, onion and garlic and cook until tender.  Add tomatoes and beans, cooking until tomatoes are heated through.  While this is cooking, mix sugar and Worcester sauce in a small bowl.  Add the mixture to the skillet, a little bit at a time, until it has enough juices to cover the beans.  {I didn't end up using all of the brown sugar mixture}.  Gently stir in the cooked bacon.

*I cooked my bacon in a large electric skillet, drained most of the grease, and then used some of it to cook my veggies.  Obviously this isn't as healthy, but it sure tastes good!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DIY Pergola Swingest for the Backyard

We've been debating over a swing set for the backyard for months now, and just couldn't wrap our minds around spending hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for some wood, swings and a slide.  After some research, and a consultation with a man at our church who builds custom swingsets, we decided to tackle a major DIY project.  Thankfully, we were able to do this while Bradley's Dad was here to assist.

I have to say this is by far my favorite outdoor project yet!  Other than eating the veggies from the garden, the pergola even tops our raised bed vegetable garden.  In doing some research, Bradley discovered that most children don't really use the slide portion of a swingset, but the swings get used all the time.  So, we opted to simply have swings in the backyard for the girls.  They hang from hooks placed in the wood, and can easily be removed to put in a porch swing, or to leave empty for using the pergola as an outdoor sitting area {we're thinking re-sale here; not everyone wants swings in the backyard, but outdoor living space is highly desirable}.

Bradley designed this entire thing!  He and his dad spent about 2 full days cutting wood, pouring cement, measuring, and constructing this beautiful piece for the backyard.  My part?  Well, I'm just really happy because it created usable space out of a not-so-usable slope.  Bradley had to dig a spot out with a chisel {I think that's what he used} and it was hard work, but we now have a flat space that sits above the rest of the yard.  It's perfect!

They took the time to cut pieces out of the wood, using a homemade stencil, so that it has the finished curved look of a traditional pergola.

I really wanted this area to be grassy, and what do you know but the house across the street was at the tail end of construction and they were sodding the yard while this project was going on.  They discarded TONS of extra sod into the woods, so we scooped it up and it's growing quite nicely in its new home.

We're waiting to put just the right flowering vine to grow on the top of the pergola, and I envision twinkling white lights, a table and chairs, and an elegant meal for two at some point here during the summer.  Maybe something like this:


Hey, if we get enough requests here, Bradley might even be willing to give us a tutorial on how to do this!  So, if you're interested in the plans for a DIY Pergola, just leave a comment and I'll make sure my husband reads them all!

ps - this entire project cost just under $300.  Way less than buying a pre-made swing set and it can be used by all ages for enjoyment!

Linking to:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lemon Forsythia Pie

From backyard cookouts, to picnics at the lake, to bridal showers and other events, summer time  provides countless opportunities for trying out new desserts.  My mom shared with me a recipe a few weeks ago that was given to her over 30 years ago, and I've been waiting for an opportunity to try it out.  This past weekend we attended a dinner for some missionaries who were visiting our church, and my assignment was dessert.  I love it when I get to do dessert!  It's much more interesting than making a salad or bringing condiments for burgers.

One of the things that I like to try to do when I make dessert for a small crowd is to make two different kinds {this isn't a hard and fast rule, but it's my desire}, one of a chocolate sort and one that is not.  A lot of people love chocolate, but some people don't, so it's nice to offer something for both groups.  The two desserts that I made were great because one called for egg yolks, the other for egg whites; both required heavy cream.  This made it more economical when purchasing my ingredients and helped me to not waste anything.  {Just a little tip for you as you plan out dessert menus!}  I had some lemons leftover from making this lemonade, so I decided to make this Lemon Pie.  The second dessert I made can be found here--it's basically a chocolate truffle in tart form.

Lemon Forsythia Pie was delightfully light, not too sweet, and not too lemony.  It's perfect for summer and very easy to make.  Enjoy!

Lemon Forsythia Pie

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Using a pastry blender, mix flour, butter, sugar and salt until crumbly.  Place 1/3 cup of this mixture into a greased baking dish.  Press the remaining mixture into a greased and floured 9-inch pie plate.  Bake both in 375F oven for 12-15 minutes.  Cool.

2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream

Combine egg whites, sugar, lemon peel and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl.  Beat until stiff, a long time {close to 10 minutes}.  Whip cream* and fold into lemon mixture.  Place into baked pie crust and top with the crumbs that were baked in the baking dish.  Chill.  Can be frozen.

*Before whipping the cream, place either a glass or stainless steel bowl in the fridge.  Whipping cream in a cold bowl will help the cream to whip more quickly.  

This pie would also be delicious served with Blueberry Compote.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Journey through the Psalms: The LORD Deals Bountifully

Psalm 13
How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.  But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. 

There is no evidence in this particular Psalm that David had received victory over his enemies, just that they were prevailing over him.  And, yet, what is David's attitude?  He trusts in the steadfast love of the Lord.  He rejoices in God's salvation.  The part that struck me in this Psalm is that regardless of David's circumstances, which seem less than favorable here, he recognized that God had given bountifully to him. 

This week has been challenging for me in different ways, and I have to admit my attitude has not always been right.  It's so easy to allow myself to feel overwhelmed by unexpected troubles that I encounter, and yet, rather than complaining and grumbling, I should remember God's great bounty that He has so graciously given.  It's amazing how quickly a thankful spirit can cure a discontented or troubled heart.  

What ways has God dealt bountifully with you?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Review & Studio Eleven

It was about 18 months ago that I started reading about chalk paint, a type of paint that can be applied without stripping, sanding, or any kind of prep-work.  I didn't really believe it at first, but the more I read about it the more I wanted to try it out.  Well, as I shared with you last week about the Dresser for the Nursery, I finally used it!  I've compiled a list of thoughts on this paint that will hopefully be helpful for those of you who may not have used it yet, but are considering it.


  1. ASCP saves a ton of time if working with a piece of furniture that needs some refurbishing.  It's true!  You do not have to do anything to your piece of furniture in order to apply this paint.  I couldn't believe how the paint adhered to the surface of my dresser as I was working with it.  I've painted {and stained} several pieces of furniture before and nothing usually goes on unless you've spent hours stripping and sanding the previous stain/paint.   
  2. Painting with ASCP is not for the careless.  I suppose I thought that since no prep-work was needed, applying this paint would be a piece of cake, basically just slapping it on.  Oh, boy, was I ever wrong!  You still have to watch for brush strokes, paint evenly, watch for drips, and basically just be careful painting, as you would with any paint.  My pre-conceived ideas on this were way wrong!  I painted my dresser while 37 weeks pregnant, and my hands kept cramping up because of carpel tunnel {which I get with each pregnancy}.  This made it even more difficult to get even strokes and make it look beautiful.  If you plan to use ASCP, just realize that it will require time to apply it and get it looking the way you want. 
  3. The cost of this paint is worth the investment.  My biggest hang up in purchasing ASCP was the cost.  It's pretty expensive for one quart.  However, when you add up the cost of stripping and sanding materials, paint, wax, etc., combined with the amount of time it takes to do that whole process, you might as well have purchased chalk paint.  I painted an entire dresser with only 1/2 of a quart of paint.  And, I'm planning on using the remainder on another piece of furniture.  
  4. There is definitely an art to using ASCP.  There are workshops in many stores where ASCP is sold to teach different techniques on how to use this paint.  I look forward to hopefully taking a workshop one day so that I can at least learn some aspects of how to do a better job at this.  
This last point brings me to the second part of my post.  I want to introduce to you a new store that opened up in my hometown.  When I was looking for a store from which to order my paint {ASCP is only carried in some stores across the US}, I came across a shop in Lynchburg, VA!  I couldn't believe it!  The listing said that they were due to open very soon, so I contacted the store owner to inquire about when I could purchase some.  Luckily for me, they were opening that next weekend.  So, I called the shop and ordered my supplies over the phone.  My order shipped THAT DAY {that's how awesome these ladies are!} and I received my brown paper package within a couple of days.  

Studio Eleven is located in downtown Lynchburg, VA.  When I was visiting my parents last week I stopped in the shop and had a look around.  Not only do they sell ASCP, but they also have many items for sale that they have painted with chalk paint.  The prices are quite reasonable.  Workshops are held in the store, several times a week, and the ladies that own the shop are incredibly helpful.  While I was in the store, one of the owners answered my questions about how to use the wax, and even shared with me a little tip that is normally covered in one of the more advanced workshops.  

The studio's business is doing so well!  They recently were covered in the Lynchburg News & Advance, and a local TV station even did a piece on them.  Because their business is booming, the website is still under construction, but will hopefully be up and running soon.  In the meantime, be sure to check out Studio Eleven, on Facebook, and you can certainly place an order for paint over the phone.  

This is a sample piece that is currently in the shop:

Sure, there are other stockists to purchase ASCP from, but if you don't have a store in your area and are considering purchasing some of this paint, why not use Studio Eleven?  I love supporting local businesses, especially ones that will keep my hometown growing.  If you live in, or near, the Lynchburg area, be sure to drop in Studio Eleven.  And, if you're thinking about giving ASCP a try, pick up a sample size of chalk paint and try it on a small piece of furniture. 

Now, what are you going to paint?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Wreath

Now that we're in the middle of June, I decided it was time to take my spring wreath off of the dining room table, where it has been in the construction phase since April, and finish it for my front door.

This was the least expensive wreath I've ever made!  Want to know why?  I used plumbing piping from Home Depot to make the form.  It costs $0.97.  Everything else I already had, so for $1 I have a wreath that I love!

I don't remember what this stuff is really called, but you can find it in the plumbing aisle of the store. There is a slit in it {see picture below}, but that doesn't affect its ability to perform as a wreath.
I am NOT going to take credit for the idea to use this stuff.  I first read about it on East Coast Creative's blog.  I've also seen pool noodles used in the same way.

When I shaped the tube into a circle it was a tad too large, so I just snipped it and cut out the excess tubing.

Using a little packaging tape, I taped the ends together to make my circle.

Then, I wrapped the entire thing with strips of burlap {my never-ending supply}.  No glue required, just kept wrapping it around tightly so that it stayed in place.

Be sure to work with burlap in a place where you can clean it up, because it sure does shed and leave a mess!

I made two different kinds of fabric flowers, attached brooch pins to the back and placed them on the wreath.

 Each of these fabrics are either tablecloths or napkins that I have used in pillows and other decor in my home.  Never forget to look at non-traditional ways of purchasing fabric!  I wanted to tie my front door in with the interior of my home, creating a cohesion throughout.

 I hung it with a rustic looking piece of the yellow fabric, simply just tied in knots, nothing fancy!

And, here is the photo of the missing element from this post.  I didn't go with the 'W' as several of you thought, but perhaps some other time.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Journey through the Psalms

My goal over the next few months is to do something different on this blog and post something every Sunday.  These posts will be about the verses that have stood out to me during the previous week as I've read through the Psalms.  Sometimes I'll just share the verses, other times I might elaborate on them a bit, but either way, I hope it is an encouragement to those of you who read it.

Psalm 9:1-2
"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High."

The Lord has indeed done wonderful deeds!  Even in the midst of troubling circumstances, heavy hearts, or difficult days, we are to give thanks.  Not just with a portion of our heart, but with our whole heart.  Today may we rejoice in the Lord, sing to Him, and give thanks because He is good.

Friday, June 8, 2012

My First Chalk Paint Experience {the Baby's Dresser}

If you spend any amount of time reading home decorating blogs, then I'm sure you've run into posts about ASCP {Annie Sloan Chalk Paint}.  I mentioned in a previous post that I had purchased some and was planning to paint a dresser.  Well, it's finally finished and ready to share with you!

This is what it looked like before:

Sorry for the pictures!  I started this project at night, so the lighting was awful!  

I simply took off the hardware and spray painted it black.  Then, I used Pure White ASCP to paint the dresser and drawers.  Working with the chalk paint was great, but I definitely have a TON to learn about it!  Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned was that it's not really a great idea to paint a piece of furniture when you're 37 weeks pregnant and struggling with carpel tunnel!  I'll be writing up my own little 'review' of ASCP in a later post, sometime next week.  But, for now, I just wanted to share with you this finished project.  

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Linking to:

Furniture Feature Fridays

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Getting it Together, Phase 1

You might remember my post in January, One Step Closer to a Well-Managed Home, where I talked about a Household Management Notebook.  Our printer went out right after that post, so I never was able to print out my lists and that project just got pushed to the back burner.  We recently replaced the printer {just a few days ago} and I'm spending some days at my parents' house with the kids, so I'm now able to work on this and actually get it done.  It's time.  I need some organization and a better sense of 'having it together' not just for me, but for my children.

Cleanliness in my home is the first priority.  Sure, my home is clean, but I need a better system, so I'm working on a master list, something like this:

 I also came across another document that is pretty detailed, breaking our home down into Zones and listing all of the specific jobs in each of those areas.  You can find the PDF document by following the link below:

Fly Lady's Detailed Cleaning List

Fly Lady also has some helpful information on cleaning and organizing your home, including daily tips, if you want to join the site.

I guess I better sign off now and continue working on my list.  I don't want to be guilty of what this implies:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Painted Pots for the Front Porch

Potted plants and/or flowers flanking the front door have been on my to-do list since we moved into our house 16 months ago.  Pots are pretty expensive, though, so I put it off.  This spring I decided to use some junky pots that were laying around and spruce them up a bit for the porch.  With just two coats of paint, a stencil, flowers and dirt, I now have two beautiful pots!

This is what they looked like before I started:

 I sanded these rough edges as much as I could to get them a bit smoother.  It didn't completely fix the problem, but they do look much better.

I then painted the entire pot, including the inside to the top of the dirt, taped a stencil on, and used some yellow paint to make 'W' on each one.  My husband had to come behind and fix the letters because the stencil stuck to the paint {that's what you get for using a paper stencil}.  In hind sight, I should have just traced the letter  and then carefully painted in the lines.  Live and learn.

The flowers are from a local nursery where I had the salesperson tell me which plants to buy that could withstand the heat pretty well.  She helped me choose three different plants that would fit into the 'thriller, filler, spiller' rule and I was good to go.  I love how the Sweet Potato Vine curves nicely around each pot to make it symmetrical.  

Just to keep it real for you, I did not sweep my porch before taking the pictures.  This is my life.  

I love walking to my front door and seeing this sight every day!  And, it will be nice to switch out these plants for something new come fall.  Love that they can be versatile!

Can you pick out what is missing in this picture?  Hopefully I'll have a post on the missing item sometime next week.

What's on your front porch?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Road Trippin'

Happy Friday, Happy June!!  Can you believe today is June 1 already?  This year is flying by!


The kids and I are heading out of town today to visit my family.  Unfortunately, Bradley can't join us, because of his work schedule, so I'm doing my first road trip alone with 3 kids in tow.  We'll see how long the 6 hour drive ends up taking me :).  It's worth it, though, to spend time with my parents, sisters, and their families.  My older sister and her husband recently went on a missions trip to East Africa, so I'm eager to hear all about their trip and what the Lord did during that time.  My mom also said she would 'facilitate whatever necessary so that I could have some alone time'.  I LOVE MY MOM!!  She knows what I need and crave, and that I'm most likely not getting alone time right now.

I also plan to visit a new shop that recently opened up in my hometown, meet up with a few friends, and spend some time reading and writing.   It should be a great time!

Hope you all have a great weekend!