Penny's Passion: July 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Five on Friday - August 1, 2014

August is here already -- are you kidding me?!?!?  This week caught me doing some cleaning and preparing for visitors this weekend which you'll see below.  Hope you enjoy my Five on Friday!

1.  Fitted Sheet Folding
I saw this video posted on one of my friend's Facebook page and have been practicing ever since.  The technique is great and after a few tries I can say I've actually mastered this task.  After folding the fitted sheet, I like to tuck the fitted and flat sheets, along with the extra pillowcase, into the second pillowcase. When company is coming and you need to change the sheets, you can just grab the whole neat little packet and get to work.

2.  Company's Coming
Speaking of company coming, my good friends Sharyn and Linda are visiting and we're going to have a sleep over Saturday night in celebration of Sharyn's 50th birthday.  I love slumber parties with my friends and have been looking forward to this one for a while.  The three of us have been friends since grade school -- yes, I'm aware that's a VERY long time.  I'm making this cute little note to put in their guest rooms to help them connect to our wireless.   FYI - The card pictured is fake data so please don't try to sit in my driveway and use our internet with this username and password :).

3.  Lavender Spray
One blog I love, Carolina Charm, blogged about this lavender spray so, of course, I had to make some.  It's super simple to make and will be adorable in the guest bags I'm putting together for my two friends visiting this weekend.  (Please act surprised Sharyn and Linda.)
Lavender Spray
2 cups distilled water
1 oz. (2 tablespoons) vodka or rubbing alcohol
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon lavender oil (depending on how strong you like your spray)

4.  Katie Daisy
I have completely fallen in love with The Wheatfield by Katie Daisy etsy shop.  I've been thinking about redoing one of our guest rooms around some of the prints, but haven't quite figured it all out yet.  As soon as I do, you'll see it here.  Her whimsical designs just put a smile on my face.

Joy  -   vertical print

5.  Quote
Sometimes you just need a little reminder.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.

Have a fabulous weekend!  I'm so excited about spending time with my friends I'm giddy.  Check back next week to see all the fun we had.

Linking up with Jennie,  Amanda, Lauren, and Rebecca for some Friday fun. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Five on Friday - July 25, 2014

I've been out of town since Monday and I was beginning to think Friday was never going to get here.  Long week of work, but enjoyable.  So let's get to my Five on Friday for this week.

1.  Kernel Cutter
Ever since I had braces as a teenager (and probably even before that), I have enjoyed my corn on the cob by cutting the corn off the cob.  Well, a few years ago I bought this bad boy to cut the kernels off.  I love it!  Mine is a Pampered Chef and right now it's on special for $9.  If you're a corn cutter, I highly recommend this little gadget.

2.  The Husband's Secret
This book by Liane Moriarty is a great book club read.  I have to agree with Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author's comment - “Shocking, complex and thought-provoking, this is a story reading groups will devour. A knockout!"  Anyone else read it?

3.  Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
Our very small garden is kicking out the tomatoes right now, so last Saturday I thought I'd whip up something that required a lot of them.  I found a recipe on the Cooking Light website that did just that.  As an added bonus, the recipe also calls for fresh basil -- which is something I also have an abundance of right now.  Eric and I both thought this recipe turned out great.  We'll be having this again before tomato season is over! 
Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce Recipe
4.  Face Off
My cousin's son (so my second cousin), Drew Talbot, is a contestant on Syfy's show Face Off!  Season 7 premiered this week and he was voted the fan favorite.  How exciting is that?!?!  Tune in on Tuesdays at 8:00 pm central time to watch this talented guy work his magic with makeup.
5.  New Look
Did you notice my new blog design?!?!  I'm very excited to have this new, sharper looking blog.  Big shout out to Ali from Ali in Bloom for her great design work.  Thanks, Ali!

Linking up with Amanda, Lauren, Rebecca, and Jennie for some other weekend fun.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Welcome Sign

As promised in my Five on Friday, I wanted to do an installment of things we did for my daughter-in-law Kayla's shower.  First, I want to say that I have the best daughter-in-law in the world!  We are very grateful to have her as part of our family. 

When we started planning Kayla's shower, we knew we wanted to coordinate the items we needed to purchase so we could use them at the shower and wedding.  We started with the welcome sign.  Kayla found a gorgeous frame at a yard sale (!) and we knew it would be perfect for both events.

Shower Welcome Sign
Sign at Wedding

The shower welcome design was purchased on Etsy and we had it enlarged.  The wedding sign we designed ourselves.  Kinko's will enlarge and print a color image for $7.25 per square foot -- so you can get a 24" x 36" print for about $40.  If you are printing in black and white, the cost goes down to $4.50 per square foot.
We placed the shower welcome sign on the porch so guests felt comfortable walking in and joining the party. 
It also made a great backdrop for pictures!  :)
It's hard to believe it's been a year since we had Kayla's shower.  Stay tuned for more shower and wedding blogs. 
Linking up with Katie for some other Tuesday crafts fun.  Also linking up to Amanda at Serenity Now for some weekend blogs.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Look -- It's my new look!

Friday night my blog was transformed.  I had been working with Ali from Ali in Bloom on the blog design to give it a bit more professional and sharp look.  When she sent me a note late Friday afternoon to say she thought she could install the new template later that day, I immediately felt like I was waiting for a new baby to be born.  I was anxious, excited and full of anticipation. 

Ali was a joy to work with.  She asks you to first fill out a questionnaire so she understands what you want your blog to look like.  Since I'm so new at blogging, I really didn't know exactly what I was looking for -- but she did because I'm in love with the new look!  Hope you like it as much as I do.

Thanks, Ali!  Great job!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five on Friday

Another week has flown by -- this summer is going WAY too fast!!  Here's some of the things I savored this week and want to share with you.

1.  Trader Joe's Lavender Dryer Bags
These gems are the bomb!  My friend Tracy's Christmas gift is a bag of her favorites things and a few years ago she introduced me to the Lavender Dryer Bags from Trader Joe's.  Since then, I have always requested they return each year.  These babies leave your towels and sheets smelling so refreshing.  I love crawling into bed with fresh sheets and the wonderful smell of lavender.

2.  Ebates
Are you using Ebates?  If not, you should really, really, really think about giving it a try.  If you shop online at all, you could be getting free money.  That's right folks - FREE MONEY.  Click on Ebates above, sign up and check it out.  Seriously, you have nothing to lose and only money to gain.


3.  Roasted Sweet Potatoes
I'm in love with roasted vegetables these days.  One of my favorites is roasted sweet potatoes.  I found this recipe by Jessica Schumacher on and we can't get enough of them.
2 (1 ounce) packages dry onion soup mix
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2.  In a large bowl, toss the dry onion soup mix, sweet potatoes and vegetable oil until the sweet 
     potatoes are well coated.
3.  Arrange the mixture on a large baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven 40 to 50 minutes, or 
     until the sweet potatoes are tender.
That's it!  Simple as can be and oh so good.
 Onion Roasted Sweet Potatoes Recipe

4.  Bridal Shower
At this time a year ago my house was bustling with preparations for my daughter-in-law Kayla's bridal shower.  Soon I'm going to be posting a more in-depth blog about the shower so visit again to hear and see all the details.

5.  Thought to Live By

Enough said.

Have a great weekend everyone!!  Linking up with Amanda, Lauren, Rebecca, and Jennie for more Five on Friday fun.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bring on the Blackberries

Saturday morning I popped out of bed ready to take control of the blackberries Eric picked on Thursday (mentioned on my Five on Friday post).  I knew my time was ticking to get the berries processed before they started going bad, so Saturday was my day.  I chose three recipes with blackberries got to work.

1.  Blackberry Preserves
No, I've never made preserves before and I was excited to give it a try.  It made me feel so "Martha Stewartish" purchasing the jars and pectin!  The Humbled Homemaker had an easy sounding recipe for Slow Cooker Blackberry Jam so that's the direction I headed.  Currently I have a crockpot full of "blackberry syrup" instead of preserves.  It tastes great so bring on the waffles!!  I'll have to try again next year to make this recipe turn into jam.
Slow Cooker Blackberry Jam

2.  Blackberry Cobbler
Epic win on this recipe -- I didn't even get a picture before we cut into it.  I've used this recipe before so I wasn't worried about how it would turn out.  Here's the ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour*
  • 1/3 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • Directions:
    In a 10-inch round or oval baking dish, melt 1/2 cup butter; set aside.  In a saucepan, heat sugar and water until sugar melts, set aside.  Place flour in a mixing bowl, cut in remaining butter until fine crumbs form.  Add milk, stirring with a fork until dough leaves sides of bowl.  Turn out onto a floured surface, knead three or four times.  Roll out to a 11-inch x 9-inch rectangle 1/4 inch think.  Spread berries over dough; sprinkle with cinnamon.  Roll up, jelly-roll style.  Cut into 1/4-inch think slices.  Carefully lay slices in baking dish over butter.  Pour sugar syrup around slices (syrup will be absorbed).  Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Sprinkle sugar over top and bake 15 minutes more.  Serve warm or cold.  (*If self-rising flour is not available, use 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder.)  YUM!!
    3.  Blackberry Mint Spritzer
    I ran out of blackberries before I got to try this charming cocktail, but you better believe it's on my list to try.  Any time I can muddle some stuff together and have it turn out looking like this, it's a win.  Plus I've got oodles of mint in my tiny garden so what better way to use it than in a drink like this!  Click the link above for the recipe.

     Hope everyone had a great weekend!

    Linking up with Biana to chat about what happened this weekend.

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Five on Friday

    Happy Friday everyone!  I've been staying in the city this week with a group from work so I'm really looking forward to getting home. This has been one long work week!  :)  Here's my five for today:

    1.  App - Timehop
    This free app shows you what you were doing the exact day in the past.  You can sync it up with both Facebook and Instagram.  It's been fun remembering the good times I've shared on Facebook.  On July 5 it reminded me of this great moment with my friend Linda a year ago when we met Bret Michaels.  Now that is a moment I want to relive as often as possible!

    2.  Fair St. Louis
    St. Louis really knows how to throw a Fourth of July party.  Year and year this three-day event amazes me with their free concerts and fireworks.  This year we went on July 5 to see The Fray.  I was able to get my corn dog and funnel cake fix, hear an amazing concert and see unbelievable fireworks.  If you're planning a trip to St. Louis next summer, you should really keep this event in mind.

    3.  Blackberries!
    Watch out weekend, the blackberries are coming!  My husband, Eric, was off on Thursday and Eckert's has pick-your-own blackberries.  Eckert's Farms is a family-owned and operated business in Belleville, Illinois that's been around since 1837.  It is the largest pick-your-own orchard operation in the United States.  Next week I'll be posting some great recipes that include blackberries so you might want to starting following me so you don't miss them.

    4.  Rum Chata Pudding Pops
    I'm having a few friends over for a Origami Owl party on Thursday and am going to try this recipe for Rum Chata pudding pops.  They sound amazing!  I'll let you know their reviews.
    1 cup milk
    1 cup Rum Chata
    1 small box chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
    8 oz cool whip 

    Whisk together milk, Rum Chata and pudding mix. Add cool whip. Place in 2oz cups with lids. Freeze overnight.


     5.  Say Yes to the Dress
    My friend, Lauren, is on the hunt for her wedding dress!  Her mother and grandmother are flying to St. Louis this weekend to join her and her future mother-in-law to dress shop.  I thought it would be nice for them to have goody bags in the car as they travel from shop to shop.  Each one is filled with a bottle of water, tissues, chapstick, granola bar, mints, hand sanitizer, lotion, notepad and pen.  They should be all set for a day of fun!!

    Have a great weekend everyone!! 

    Linking up with Amanda, Lauren, Rebecca and Jennie for more Friday Fun.

    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Martha Stewart Living

    I love magazines.  I'm obsessed with them.  I love sitting outside on a Saturday or Sunday morning and reading a magazine from cover to cover.  I try very somewhat hard not to hoard them, but throwing away a good magazine is just so, so hard for me to do.  I have them all over my house - in the guest room, my scrapbook room, the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen, our bedroom, my car.  Yes, I do mean EVERYWHERE!  I learn such truly fascinating facts from magazines -- like, who knew it takes 5,204 olives to make 1 gallon of olive oil (thanks Filippo Berio ad for this bit of knowledge).

    Because I was off work on Friday for the holiday, I was afforded the opportunity to enjoy a rare Friday sitting-in-the-sun magazine-reading morning.  It was GLORIOUS!

    Martha Stewart's Living magazine came with me outside for the morning of relaxation.

    They always show Martha's calendar near the front of the magazine.  I usually roll my eyes and realize how very different my life is from Martha's.  My daily calendar looks something like buy new trash bags, throw away rotten potatoes from the pantry, wash sheets.  Martha's calendar has things like give donkeys Billy, Chive, and Rufus their summer haircuts, call fishmonger for today's catch, and film HSN segments in St. Petersburg.  I did actually see some items on her calendar that I chose to put on mine -- deadhead perennials, refill birdbaths, schedule dermatologist appointment. 

    One of the next things that caught my eye was a craft project for kids (page 26).  Although I find myself between children in my home (my only son is grown and married, but grandchildren are still years away), I do have special guests that visit with children.  Therefore I'm always on the hunt for fun things for them to do at my house.  I long to be the fun house they love to visit.  The craft was titled "The Big Picture".  You have the child do a line drawing in black market on a piece of 8-1/2x11 piece of white paper.  Take the drawing to a print shop and have them enlarge it to a giant size, you take it home and tape it on a wall.  Then that said child colors in the picture.  Really.  At first, I'm thinking how cool this could be.  Then, as I sat there envisioning this activity I'm seeing the child enthusiastically coloring and then moving closer and closer to the edge of the paper until he's coloring all over my wall.  His parents are mortified and apologizing profusely.  Am I the only one that could see the child coloring all over the wall?  Wouldn't you spend most of the time saying, "Please stay on the paper."  I'm just not so sure about this one.  What do you think of this project?

    Anyone try this one?  Would love to hear your comments. 

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

    Five on Friday

    Happy holiday weekend!  So glad I'll have a couple days off work and super glad Eric is off for a couple of days with me.  Here's my Five on Friday.

    1. Hand Soap
    I'm in love with the Lemon Mint Leaf scent from Bath and Body Works.  Kris, my daughter-in-law's mom, brought me this wonderful hand soap the last time they visited and I can't get enough of it.  I even find myself washing my hands when they're not dirty just to smell this soap.  Thanks, Kris!

    Lemon Mint Leaf Lemon Lather & Lotion Gift Set - Anti-Bacterial - Bath & Body Works
    2.  Candy
    To celebrate the 4th, I made some of my co-workers these little goodies.  Pretzel bags were stuffed with sour cherry candy.  After die-cutting a rectangle backing, a sticker from Michael's was applied to the front and a piece of ribbon was taped to the back.  Tie the sticker on the bag and BAM - done.  Super quick and super easy.  Who doesn't love getting a little holiday surprise on their desk?!?

    3.  Fragile
    Best-selling author Lisa Unger kept my interest throughout this entire book.  Full of twists and turns, this whodunit is a good read.  I'm going to suggest it to my book club for a future selection.

    4.  Whisk
    Last Saturday while we were out and about celebrating Tracy's birthday on Cherokee Street, we stopped by Whisk for an afternoon snack.   It was my first visit at this sustainable bakery, but I can guarantee it won't be my last.  We shared a homemade pop tartlet and each had an ice pop.  With ice pop flavors of mixed berries, raspberry rhubarb, cucumber lime, coconut, Chai latte, Vietnamese coffee and apricot, it was hard to decide which one to get.  Those babies were AMAZING.  If you're in the area, swing by and give them a try.  It's just what you need to cool down on a hot St. Louis day.
     5.  Thankful
    Many of you expressed your sympathy over the loss of our family dog, Daisy.  We so appreciate all your comments and gestures.  Each one touched our hearts and comforted us in our time of sorrow.  We are truly blessed to have such great people in our lives.   

    Hope your weekend is full of fun!  Be safe and have a great 4th of July weekend.
    Linking up with Amanda, Lauren, and Jennie for some Friday fun.


    Today we had to say goodbye to a special part of our family -- our dog, Daisy.

    Daisy was an 11-year-old golden retriever. After losing our previous dog, my son Ian, who was 10 at the time, constantly begged us to get another pet.  He was so pesty about it I had to make a rule he was only allowed to talk about getting a dog on Mondays.  He would save his arguments all week to spill them on us Monday evening.  One Monday his presentation was so convincing I said yes to getting a new puppy.  By Tuesday morning I was wondering what I had done!

    We chose a breeder and visited the following Saturday. They unleashed 8 or 9 adorable golden puppies in a room with Ian for him to pick his new dog. Ian sat in the middle of the room as the puppies played, rolling and tossing all over each other. One little fur ball slowly walked over and sat on Ian's lap. Ian didn't really pick Daisy -- Daisy picked him.

    Over the years, she wove herself into the fabric of our family. Each of us had our special relationship with her and loved her dearly. Daisy -- you will be missed.