Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Honor of Fathers

Daddy with Anita and me on Anita's birthday - early 70's.  Can you tell by the decor? I am on the right.  :-)

I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection.

~ Sigmund Freud

A few weeks ago I started this post about my father.  It was supposed to be ready for Father's Day -  obviously, you can see that I didn't quite meet my goal; however, I have been blessed with a wonderful father who I treasure so much so I decided to continue with this post even though Father's Day has come and gone. My daddy's name is Terry - sometimes his brothers and sisters call him Buddy.  (Remember I am a southern girl.  We all call our fathers "Daddy" even when we are approaching middle age!  Also, just about every southern family has a "Buddy".)  He and my mother were sweethearts from a very young age.  They married just a few short months after my mother graduated from high school.  My sister was born a year later and my parents embraced parenthood.  My dad was the sole provider in those early years.  He worked so hard driving a truck to earn money to provide for his little family.  My sister and I both learned a strong work ethic from our father.  Daddy was, and continues to be, a wonderful role model for our entire family.

I learned what true love looks like by observing my sweet parents.  My dad was by my mother's side for almost 44 years of marriage.  He stood by her through thick and thin - good and bad - sickness and health until they were parted by death.  My dad never left the house without kissing my mother goodbye - even for a quick trip to the store.  Devoted would be a true description of my father - devoted to my mother and to his girls. 

My mother and father - around the time they were  married. What a wonderful couple! 

My dad has always been supportive and encouraging.  He knew when to cheer us on (band activities, piano recitals, etc.) and he knew when to cheer us up - through heartaches and disappointments in the teen years and other trials that have come as we moved through life.  He and mom encouraged us to pursue our dreams with regard to our careers.  I was a teacher when I graduated from college.  I obtained a master's degree after I had been teaching a few years. Daddy was the first to suggest that I go back to school and pursue a doctorate.  I achieved that goal in 1999 with both of my parent's cheering me on!  I remember thinking how great it was that Daddy wanted so much for his girls.  He may not have had the opportunity to go to college, but he wanted his daughters to further their education as much a possible. 

I learned from my dad that things may not always go as you planned, but you must "keep on keeping on".  He and my mother faced some challenges through the years, but their love for each other never wavered. My mother's death shook my dad to his core.  He definitely struggled after her death; however, he has become his old self in the last couple of years.  He has found his way back to the daddy I have always known and loved with all my heart.  

I love this picture of my daddy.  It was taken when he was around 18 months old.  He is wearing his daddy's cowboy hat and holding his grandfather's pipe.  

Good fathers always seem to know when to help out and when to let their children figure out things the hard way.  That is true of my daddy.  I think that is a tough thing for parents because we always want to fix things for our children. Daddy was always ready to step in and help when needed - and he still does - but he also knows when his children must learn a lesson.  I admire him so much for that quality. 

I always knew that my daddy was there to protect our family.  That is still true today.  Even though my sister and I are grown, we still believe that Daddy will always be there, waiting in the wings to help us when we falter.  I believe he is my safety net.  Like my heavenly father, I know that my daddy will love me regardless.  

As a father and a grandfather, my dad knows it is okay to spoil your children just a little bit.  We did not have an extravagant childhood, but we had what we needed with special treats thrown in :-).  We did not get brand new cars as soon as we were able to drive.  We did get older cars that were perfect for us!  He and mom wanted us to appreciate the things that we were given.  I will tell you though that when my parents became grandparents, all of these ideas about moderation went out the window - They quickly realized it was okay to SPOIL the grandbabies!!!  In fact, my sister used to say that Santa Claus couldn't compete with Granny and Papa. My daddy, aka "Papa", still spoils Paige, Spencer and Seth.  He just treated Seth to a week of baseball camp at South Alabama and purchased him a new set of catcher's gear - perfect for our budding baseball star.  

My daddy will tell you that my mother played the biggest part in raising Anita and me.  In fact, I have heard him tell a story of someone saying that he had two wonderful daughters.  My daddy's reply was "I can't take credit for them, Janell (my mom) raised them."  That could not be farther from the truth.  While it was true that my daddy traveled a lot with his job, and my mother did most of the day to day duties that come with raising children, my dad was a crucial part of our upbringing.  He and mom were united in their desire to raise us in a Christian home where we were taught the values they embraced.  My father modeled his belief that family comes first, hard work is a good thing, it is important to be generous, to help others, and to treat all people with respect. 

This was taken about four years ago... Spencer, Me, Nini, Seth, Paige and Papa

To sum it up, amazing fathers just seemed to instinctively know when to praise and when to punish, when to save and when to splurge, when to cheer their children on as they follow their dreams and when to encourage them to show restraint.  I am so blessed to have an amazing man as my sweet  father.  I am so honored to call him Daddy!  

I love my father as the stars - he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart. 

Adabella Radici

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. 

Jim Valvano

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tiny Yet Perfect - A "New" Vintage Desk

When we moved into our new home last year, I sold the desk that I had used in the office of our previous home.  It wouldn't work any longer - and to be honest, I wasn't really in love with it anyway!  So I stored our important paperwork and bills in baskets in our master closet until I could find a desk that was just right.  

One day while browsing in one of my favorite antique stores in Daphne, AL I spotted what would be the perfect little desk.  (I had been looking for a desk for a while, but I knew it needed to be quite small diminutive due to a lack of space.  In our new home we do not have a dedicated room to serve as an office.)  Anyway, when I saw a sewing machine cabinet I knew it would be perfect if I took it home and painted it.  I thought I would use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because apparently I am the only blogger out there who has not used this paint.  (Really!  I think I am!) Unfortunately, I did not buy the cabinet that day.  When I went back to see if the small cabinet was still there, it was gone.  I was so disappointed!  As Jon and I wandered around the store I spotted this little beauty in one of the other booths.  I am convinced  it is the same sewing machine cabinet that had been painted and distressed and was now for sale in a booth close by. Obviously I had had a great idea, huh??  I was sad that I would not be able to have both the desk and the "project", but my husband said, "Get this one - it will save you from having to do the work!"  But I really wanted to do the work, AND since the piece had already been "redone", the price had more than doubled.  So.... I walked away even though it was perfect.  Mainly because I knew I could save money if I found a desk or small table to redo myself.   I  was determined to keep looking.  Imagine my happiness when less than a week later Jon surprised me with the desk for Valentine's Day!!! And he found the perfect little chair to make it complete!   What a wonderful present!! It is so charming in its new home don't you think???

This is not a huge desk to do major office work or bill 
paying - it is just the perfect little spot for blogging though.  

I love the distressed finish.  A vintage embroidered pillow case
 is the perfect "desk pad" for the computer. 

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As always, thanks for visiting!!! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Changes in the Guest Bedroom

Just a quick post today to share how I "lightened up" our guest bedroom for the summer simply by changing the bed linens.  I love the bedding that I have for this room - it is cream, pink, and green, and very prissy.  You can see pictures of it here.  However the comforter is very heavy! For summer I wanted something lighter in both color and weight.  I decided to use a white quilt and a pale gray dust ruffle that I already had on hand. I also used white European shams and a blue throw pillow.  All I purchased was a cute white pillow to use as the perfect finishing touch. I have had my eyes on a pair of white quilted regular pillow shams that would look awesome - if they are marked down soon I will add them in place of the pale blue/grey shams that I am using currently.  But.... as much as I love shams and pillows I may just use them ALL.  You can never have too many pillows.   

I also chose not to change the pictures during this "quick change" for two reasons: 1) I love the pictures that are here and 2) Unnecessary nail holes drive me nuts!!!  LOL  

This picture was taken at night - I should retake it again with more natural light

I love crisp white linens.  

This is my new desk that I recently added to our guest room.  It is an old sewing machine cabinet that has been painted and distressed.  I think it is just adorable!  I will share the "story" of this desk in my next post.  Stay tuned! 

Isn't it great how just a few simple changes can make a room feel so fresh and new without spending a lot of money?  This room is perfect for the summer months! 

This week I am linking to the following parties:

Happy Summer!  Have a great week! 
Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Big Sister's Birthday Beach Bash!

There's a special kind of freedom sisters enjoy. Freedom to share innermost thoughts, to ask a favor, to show their true feelings. The freedom to simply be themselves. Unknown

If you have read my blog you may know that I have a big sister named Anita.  We call her Nini now. (When we became mothers and aunts our names were changed from Anita and Lisa to Nini and Sissy.)  She is not only my big sister by 13 months, and my only sibling, she is my life long best friend!!  I have been so blessed to have her in my life!  We have always been extremely close!  God bless her, she let me tag along with her group of friends for basically our entire childhood.  She is an amazing mother, daughter, and a compassionate pediatric oncology nurse to boot! Last week she turned 50!  All through life I have been slightly amazed when she reaches a milestone before me.  (Think: Holy Cow, one of us is turning 30!  How did this happen??) When she started driving, I knew I was next.  When she graduated from high school, I was next.....  I remember thinking she was so old and wise and mature when she started college!  I didn't realize we were both still babies. I followed her in so many things and in some areas I followed my own path.  I have always looked up to her though.  She is my rock!  She is the calm sister - we balance each other out completely.  

So... back to turning 50.  Nini has said for the last few years that she wanted to be on the beach for her birthday - Destin, Florida to be specific.  We have been going for many years to visit the beautiful beaches of the Emerald Coast.  She invited Seth and me to join her on her special trip (along with my niece and nephew).  Seth and I were thrilled to get away and enjoy time at the beach with a few of our very favorite people on the face of the earth!!!  Here are a few pictures of our trip.  

Seth the mermaid, courtesy of Spencer and Alex :-)

Seth trying out the boogie board! 

There's not much better than lying on the beach with your toes in the sand! 

The kids - they are growing up so fast! 
Destin Harbor Walk 

Nini and Paige

Another pic of the sisters :-)  We are blessed! 

For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands. Christina G. Rossetti 

Thanks so much for visiting Buttercup Bliss! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pure Decadence and Indulgence on a Plate!

I couldn't decide on the name of this post.  I thought about "The BEST Brownies EVER".... Nah... It doesn't clearly express how amazing these brownies are - they are simply fabulous!!  So I decided on Pure Decadence and Indulgence on a Plate - yep, that about sums it up!!!  

A few months ago I became hooked on The Pioneer Woman.  In one episode she featured "Knock You Naked Brownies".  (I have to stop here and tell you that every time I mention these brownies, Seth cracks up!  There is something about a 9 year old boy.... you know how it is - they think certain noises are hilarious and the word "naked" just sends him into a big case of the giggles!) But, back to the brownies.  They looked so delicious, rich and yummy.  I could not bring myself to make them though, because I have been on a diet since January.  Making these would certainly blow my diet BIG TIME! This past week though Seth and I went to the beach with my sister and her kids (and their friends).  I had mentioned the brownies to Anita (who is naturally slim - dang her!!).  She said to make them and bring them to the beach.  She was sure Spencer and Alex would love them and she would too! Yes, I am sure they would!!  So finally after months of dreaming about them, I was about to make brownies that are sure to knock you naked!!!!  Bring on the chocolate, walnuts, caramel and chocolate chips!!

This is the recipe - be ready - this is NOT diet food.  

Knock You Naked Brownies from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman


  • 1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix (I Used Duncan Hines)
  • 1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans (I substituted chopped walnuts.) 
  • 1/3 cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (additional)
  • 1/2 cup Butter, Melted
  • 60 whole Caramels, Unwrapped (When I make them the next time, I will decrease the caramels to around 30 - 40.) Seth and Jon both thought they were a little too "caramelly".  :-) 
  • 1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick.
Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside. (I used an 8 X 8 square glass pan.) 
In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel. (I melted the caramel in a glass mixing bowl in the microwave.  It worked like a charm.) 
Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies. Cut into either nine or twelve helpings, and carefully remove from the pan.

There you have it - the best, and richest, most amazing brownie EVER!  I should point out though that there is no way you can eat an entire brownie in one "sitting".  I could only eat three or four bites (at the most) at a time.  Spencer and Alex had no problem inhaling them though - oh to be 19 and still have an active metabolism!  LOL

Can you see the layers of yummy goodness?

So... are you looking for a dessert that will knock your socks off or knock you naked??? Try these YUMMMMY brownies!  They are so rich and decadent and worth a major calorie splurge!  

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Easy Crawfish Bisque

Does rainy, dreary weather put you in the mood for soup?  It does me, even in warm weather.  Summer in Mobile brings afternoon thunderstorms very often. (Did you know it rains more in Mobile than it does in Seattle??)  Today is has been gloomy and rainy - perfect soup weather!  I decided to make Crawfish Bisque.  I want to share this recipe with you.  I have made Crawfish Bisque before using a very complicated recipe.  It was delicious, but it took a while to make.  Then recently a friend shared this recipe and I was hooked!!  It is sooooo easy, yet still tastes creamy and wonderful.  This is the recipe as I made it - I halved the original recipe and made a few tiny changes.  

Most of these ingredients you will have on hand in your pantry. 

Crawfish Bisque 

1/2 bunch green onions chopped (I probably used about 5 onions and I didn't use all of the green ends.)
1/2 stick butter
2 cups half and half (I used fat - free.)
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 can of corn - Do not drain. 
1 can Cream of Potato soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 block of cream cheese - I used the lower fat variety - I also went back and added an additional inch of the rest of the block (so technically I probably used closer to 3/4 of a block of cream cheese).
1 package of frozen crawfish tails
1 teaspoon of creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's)
Dash of cayenne pepper

Melt the butter in a dutch oven or soup pot and add the other ingredients - cook slowly over medium heat till it is warm. Lower to simmer for a while. Be careful to watch it so that it doesn't scorch.   

The last time I made it I also made Mexican cornbread to accompany the soup.  My husband said the bisque was so yummy that it didn't need anything to go with it :-))  That must be a good sign!  It would be perfect paired with a salad.  

It was so yummy, I had to just dig right in! It is really rich so I just eat a cup of bisque.  Jon, however, can eat a huge bowl!  He loves it! 

I put on my favorite apron while I cooked this oh so easy meal.  It doesn't take much to make me feel like Betty Crocker!!  Listening to music while I cook and clean the house is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon (well, that and curling up with a good book).  I love channeling my inner June Cleaver!  

What is your favorite rainy day food? I would love to hear your ideas :-)

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Organizing a Tiny Pantry

This beautiful pantry is from Country Living

OK, I will admit it.  I have pantry envy from time to time..... especially when I see some of the gorgeous, huge, professional quality kitchens and pantries that are often shared on some of my favorite blogs and in kitchen magazines.   I mean these pantries are drool worthy!!! Seriously, there are some amazing pantries out there!  You should really visit For the Love of a House and Sugar Pie Farm House and check out their pantries.   Can you say beautiful???  I love kitchens and pantries; however, neither my kitchen nor my pantry is large. (To see our kitchen, you can look at this post here.) They are both perfect for our family though!  We are a small family of three so technically a tremendous pantry is not exactly a must have. Our small pantry is "just right".  The key is keeping it organized.  Lucky for me, I LOVE to organize anything!  Straight rows and having things exactly where they should be makes me really happy!  Weird, huh??  I know I sound a little OCD, but truly, life if just better when things are organized!!  (On a side note:  A consultant who works with our school district was meeting with me in my office one day.  I noticed he kept looking around while we talked.  He finally said, "you really like things neat don't you?".  He pointed out my bookshelves, the items on my desk and the office in general.  I just laughed and said, "just a little bit".)

Anyway, I thought I would share how I organized my pantry.  There may be others out there who don't have walk in, bedroom-sized pantries who still like to keep an adequate supply of food staples on hand.  I like to feel like I have items on hand to cook without having to run to the grocery constantly.  I do grocery shop weekly, but that is typically for fresh fruits and veggies and meats.  

This is our pantry.  It is at the end of our kitchen. 

As you can tell, the top row is filled with glass canisters that are filled with flour, sugar, corn meal, tea bags and other baking supplies. The next shelf has olive oil, assorted vinegars, and items such as Pam, Baker's Joy, Bisquick, etc.  I also have a small metal basket that holds seasoning packages and salad dressing mixes.  Next I have jams, jellies (homemade, of course) honey, etc. Baskets on the next shelf hold potatoes and onions.  The other basket keeps marshmallows, pecans, chocolate chips and other items close at hand. 
You can also see that I do not want to run out of paper towels.  

Just a closer look.  It is so much neater (no messy bags) when baking items are in clear glass jars.  I made the labels out of sheet size clear labels from Avery.  To make sure I always have the items I need, I make a note in my phone when I see that I am low on something.  That way, the next time I am at the grocery I can pick up any items that I need.  

The right side of the pantry holds rices, pastas, canned goods, etc. 

The bottom shelf on the right is perfect for storing our lunch boxes.  We have a wide variety:  Lands End for Seth, Harley for Jon and Vera Bradley and Brighton for me.  Apparently we have a thing for lunch boxes :-)

I did not share the items that are stored in the top section of the pantry.  I keep my griddle, crock pot, "fry daddy" and other large items that are not used daily out of the way in this area.On the other side of the kitchen I have a cabinet that holds snack foods (chips, granola bars, Pop-Tarts, items for Seth's lunch, etc.)  We also have a bread drawer and a spice drawer that is in the perfect spot - right under my gas cook-top.  All in all, it is easy to keep everything in its place.  

I would love to hear your ideas of how you organize your pantry.  Doesn't it feel good to know you have the necessary items on hand and easy to find if you decide to whip up something delicious? 

As always, thanks for visiting Buttercup Bliss! 


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A Quick Change

Well, I did it.... I changed the M burlap door hanger that I shared with you in my last post.  I wasn't quite happy with the way it looked on my back door so I decided to change out the ribbon and add a little bit of bling.  It took about two minutes and, to me, the revised version is so much cuter!  I changed out the grosgrain ribbon for black chiffon ribbon.  This time I didn't attach the ribbon to the back.  Instead, I just looped it through the arches in the M.  I also picked up a black jeweled broach and this little key at Michael's.  I couldn't decide which one was best at the store, so I purchased both of them.  The key was the best - at least according to Seth!  I hot glued it on and called it a day.  I love it!  

I decided to move my revised creation inside. :-).  I love how it looks in our dining 
area with the black table. 
Such a simple change, but it is so much better now, don't you think? 
Thanks for visiting!