Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our New Living Room Mantel

We have lived in our home for 44 years.  I was in my 20's when we built our home.  Our children were one and four when we moved in.  It's hard to believe how quickly time has passed.  Now my babies have their own babies and their own homes.  We never thought this home would be the home we would stay in for this long.  I guess we are the type of folks that put down roots really deep.  Over the years we have been through many decorating stages.  We are quite lucky that our home was built when the standards were strong in the construction field.  Adding a large room to the back of our home really helped us make the decision to stay here. 

Our brick mason was a wonderful man who added many special touches to our home. He never complained when we asked him to build semi circular steps and brick planters on our patio or curved openings to our family room fireplace.  When it was time for him to build the living room fireplace he suggested a brick mantel that stepped down in the front.  What did I know?  It sounded fine with me at the time.  After all we had many other decisions to make.  Such as green appliances in the kitchen and blue tub and toilet in the bathroom and green toilet in the master bath. Yes, I really did choose those items.  I still live with some of those decisions!!  Remember the 70's?  The styles were really something then.

Well that brick mantel is something I really don't like.  Over the years there were many other places for our money to go.  So the brick mantel has taken a back seat to other improvements we wanted to make.  I've been looking for years at an option to make this mantel more to my liking.   Grayden is retired and has more time to do some of the improvements that his wife requests.  I am thrilled with the project we have been working on this month.

Years ago Grayden installed crown dentil moulding in our living room, dining room and hallway.  We wanted to use this same crown dentil molding in the new mantel.  Considering this mouding was made so many years ago we had problems finding a match.  After searching the internet and the local building supplies we came up empty.  Grayden suggested we check one more place that I knew would not have it.  Well, they didn't have it, but they ordered it for us!  Yay--we were set!

Here are the steps to our new mantel.  We all worked together to get to the finish line.  Thank you Grayden and Samuel.

First thing was building a flat top box to fit snugly on the brick mantel.

Then Grayden mitered the crown moulding and nailed it to the box.

Then it was attached to the brick mantel.

It was then ready to have the nail holes filled with wood filler and primed.

Samuel was a huge help with the small tedious painting around the dentils.  

The mantel has now had two coats of paint along with a primer.  I can't wait to decorate the new mantel, but I must allow the paint to cure.

I'm so happy with this style and I feel it looks more appropriate in our living room. Next I want to paint this fireplace screen. It's quite old.  I'm thinking black.  What do you think?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Catching Up

When uploading photos to One Drive I realized I had not shared some fun family times of last month.  Even though these are a few weeks old I do enjoy remembering the good times.   

We went down to visit the boys over President's Day weekend.  They had gotten a trampoline from Santa that their Dad was putting together when we arrived.  If any of you have ever had the pleasure of putting one together you know it's not hard, but quite time consuming.  The boys were delighted beyond belief at the finished project!

Yes the weather was warmer last month than this month.  Alex loves to wear Bermuda shorts on days that are 60 and above.  

Of course the big kids had to give it a try.

I have a lot more sense than these guys, so I declined the temptation.

Miles came home to stay with us for the weekend.  It's the first time he has done that without his brother.  We thoroughly enjoyed the alone time with just him.  

Ferry Farm had a celebration honoring George Washington's birthday.  Miles wanted to go so we ventured out for a little history lesson and fun at Washington's Boyhood home.  I've mentioned before about the building of the home on the original foundation.  We took this opportunity to see it up close.

First you must partake of birthday cake!

And a little sip of cherry tea!

Then off to play Colonial games.

We walked over to the site of the home construction.  It's so exciting to see the home coming together.

The home is being built as close as possible to original building methods.  Hand forged nails can be seen on the building.

Miles wanted to run down the hill to the river.  The Washington home sits at the top of the hill overlooking the Rappahannock River and the city of Fredericksburg. 

That's him in the burgundy shirt.

We reminded Miles that George Washington must have run up and down this hill as a child, just like you did!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hello Friends

Happy March, my friends.  This last month has been a tough one for us.  A tiny 3 1/2 month old baby in our family has passed away.  I must say it has been impossible for me to write or even visit you.  I know these things happen, but I'm once again at a loss for coming to terms at this death.  To me a baby at the beginning of its life has many hopes and dreams to come.  I know that the Heavenly Father had other plans for this infant and she is resting in His arms.  If you will keep my loved ones in your prayers it would be so appreciated.

2 Kings 20:5

“I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.”

Leaning on our faith and hope for our eternal home will sustain us during this time. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pileated Woodpecker

 We enjoy watching the birds at our feeders.  We've had quite a variety of birds visit our suet and our bird feeding station this winter.  This morning, Grayden took the most marvelous photos of an elusive, shy bird--The Pileated Woodpecker (Drycopus pileatus)!  This is one bird that we have never seen at our suet feeder.

When we are out in our garden working or walking in our neighborhood we often hear the call of this large bird.  Call and drumming of Pileated Woodpecker  They  are quite hard to see.  Always going to the other side of the tree, they elude our viewing.  Once you've seen one, you wonder if he is a tropical bird.  His head is very small compared to his large body.  Winter is your best time to see one when the leaves are not on the trees and live within this area.

Range of pileated woodpecker

This woodpecker was declining while most of our heavily forested areas have been cleared.  He is making quite a comeback in a lot of areas where there are still large trees.


The majority of their diet is the eating of carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae.  They do enjoy fruit, nuts and seeds.  Suet is another treat that they enjoy as we have observed.  This is the first year we've had them visit our suet. 

I was also lucky to be able to take a few more photos as the Pileated Woodpecker returned this afternoon.  An adult is 16 - 19 inches long.  His wing span is 26 - 30 inches. The male has a red streak under his cheek.  We noticed he has a red streak along the jaw as opposed to no red streak on the female.

As we were about to sit down for dinner I spotted a pair at the feeder.  I quickly grabbed my camera and was able to capture a so so photo of the pair.  The blur is the window pane.  They can quickly eat a new suet in a couple of days.  I wonder if they are going to call their cousins and aunts and uncles to visit.

Have you ever seen a Pileated Woodpecker?  We've been quite excited to view them closer than ever.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Down by the River

Do you get antsy in the winter?  I tend to stay in our home for days working on projects and then I feel I must get out. Most days we walk our neighborhood, so it's not like I don't go outside.   It doesn't matter where we go, I just need a change of scenery.

We have our main meal in the middle of the day since Grayden retired.  We call the largest meal of the day dinner.  It's convenient for us and our grandson, Samuel.  He has morning classes and works in the evenings.  So this arrangement has worked well for us.  

Since it has been staying lighter longer, we have been enjoying our supper down by the river.  It's very close to our home.  Recently I made us ham and cheese sandwiches and fruit salad. Grayden enjoyed the cappuccino he made and I took along my mug of Earl Grey.  Some days we buy a sandwich at the local eatery and take it along to enjoy by the river.  Just these little trips with my husband sure help to beat the winter blues.

Water has always been an important part of my life.  We always see interesting sights on our little outings.  The weather was nice and we just sat and talked and observed nature.  Geese fly by.  We have seen bald eagles. Folks with their lines in the water hoping for the big one to bite. The train racing along the railroad trestle.  Simple pleasures.  Simple times.

If you look up on the hill the building of George Washington's boyhood home is being reconstructed. The myth about the cherry tree began at this site.  At the bottom of the hill you can see where young George was said to have thrown a silver dollar across the river.  It is quite narrow here and I imagine he possibly could have.  It is considered a myth about him throwing money away, but it is thought he probably threw a rock across the river.  At the time the river at this point was 300 feet wide. It isn't a myth that George Washington lived here from age 6 to around age 22.  This is where he learned to survey, joined the Masons, read his first book on the military, copied the rules of Civility and petitioned the colony's British governor for his first military office. It's pretty exciting that the excavations by archaeologists found the foundation of the Washingtons!  The home is being built on the original foundation.  I hope to report updates as the building continues. If you wish to read more about Ferry Farm you can go HERE 

We in Virginia and particularly our area, are quite proud to stand where Washington stood and try to understand how this young man became our first president. February 22nd is his birthday so I thought I'd share a little history of him that may not be familiar to you.  We were friends of a local writer when we first moved to Fredericksburg.  In fact she helped us buy our first home and always talked about the history of George Washington's boyhood home.  It was her dream that this property be saved and restored to its time when the Washingtons lived here.  I often think of her and wished she could see the progress that is now being made at Ferry Farm.  She wrote Ferry Farm and gifted a copy to us.  

Gilchrist Waring also wrote historical books about Williamsburg.  You may have seen some of her books there.  Her books are geared to children, but I find them wonderfully informative.

Upon leaving the river after our little picnic we were treated to the most amazing sunset.

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day you may want to have some sweet Valentine tags or make a banner like I did.  You can go to Nora Murphy's blog and download these little tags  HERE  I just printed mine out on card stock and used kitchen twine and little clothespins to attach to my kitchen window.

February can be a cold and dreary month for some of us.  As winter seems to go on and on, I hope there will be times of joy for you, my friends. ♥

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Little of This and That

 I've mentioned we have steadily been working to organize and declutter our storage areas.  Our progress has been going quite well and we're pretty happy with the decisions we have made. 

Last year we had the interior of our home painted.  After all of it was done, I changed some of our decor and didn't put up the same items that were on the walls.  In the kitchen particularly,  we kept the walls a little more bare than usual.  After time has passed, I decided I'm not liking the more minimalist look.  So we have slowly been putting up some of the items that were removed. 

The rooster plates and hanger have been bought up from storage to take their place back in the kitchen.  I love chickens and have many adorning my kitchen.  

The sun has been shining the last couple of days and I couldn't be happier!  It's a great time to take photos of the interior of our home.

Taking good photos is a goal of mine.  I want to learn more about using the manual settings on my camera.  I've always wanted to take photos of the moon that showed the craters and more detail.   Well, I think I am on my way.  I can't tell you how thrilled I was to be able to take a few photos that show the detail I was looking for.

Yesterday afternoon we were outside and saw the lovely moon lighting the sky.

Now that I've learned more about my camera and its settings I'll be practicing and enjoying photography even more! 

I also spotted this bad boy in the crepe myrtle yesterday afternoon!  This photo was taken from a window.

Tell me, do you use the manual settings on your camera?  Or do you do like me,  just use the automatic settings?

I hope your days are filled with simple joys , my friends!  ♥

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Honey Oatmeal Bread

Do you enjoy making bread?  Or do you avoid it because you feel it is too complicated to make?  It's very simple and I hope if you don't make bread you will give it a try.  If you have a stand mixer it is a lot easier than you think to get a wonderful loaf of bread.  I have the Kitchen Aid Professional with the bowl lift.  Of course you can also make bread by hand.  I remember seeing my Grandmother making bread with such fondness.  I truly have never been able to make bread that tastes quite like hers!  With so many of us being so busy making bread by hand can be out of the question.  A lot of the bread making business involves a lot of time where you can be doing other things.  So I hope you will give bread making a try.

I have used many different recipes over the years to find the perfect bread for my family.  Do we eat bread at every meal?  No. We do eat bread at breakfast for toast and bread for sandwiches.  When I make bread I place the finished cooled loaves in the freezer and bring out a loaf to thaw in the refrigerator for our use as needed.  I made a delicious bread today and I thought you may like to try it.  It's from the Kitchen Aid cookbook that came with my mixer.  So you may already have this recipe.

Honey Oatmeal Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 5 1/2-6 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of quick cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Oatmeal to sprinkle on top

Place water, honey, and butter in a small saucepan.  Heat over low heat until very warm-120 to 130 degrees.

In mixing bowl place oats, 5 cups of flour, salt and yeast.  If using a stand mixer use dough hook and turn speed to 2 and mix for 15 seconds.  With mixer still on 2 gradually add warm mixture to flour mixture and mix for 1 minute.  Add eggs and mix for 1 minute longer.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 2 minutes or until dough starts to clean sides of the bowl.  Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.

Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled.

Punch dough down and divide in half.  Shape each half into a loaf by rolling each half into a 9 by 13 inch rectangle.  Then roll your rectangle into a loaf and seal the ends.  Place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch baking pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size about  1 hour.

Beat egg white with water to make a wash to cover the risen loaves.  Sprinkle oatmeal on top of egg wash.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.  My loaves were ready in 30 minutes. 

 “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” 

― James Beard