Monday, May 26, 2014

"Howdy Partner" Party

Memorial Day weekend is for remembering those who have fought for our freedom, but also for celebrating a certain cowboy's birthday. 

In honor of the occasion, the cowboy's mama threw a humdinger of a party. 
With these invitations,

she rounded up the whole clan:


aunts, uncles, and cousins.
At the front door, gents were deputized.
Ladies doned bandanas.

And the youngest cowboys and cowgirls got cowboy hats.

Inside, banners were unfurled.
Signs were posted.

And balloons were set afloat.

Meanwhile, the cowhands were told to be on the lookout for a villain. Fortunately, the bad guy was spotted by one of the littlest deputies.

He and all the sherif's men worked together to capture the desperado, to tie him up, and to put him in jail.


After that excitement, cowboy Woody, cowgirl Jesse, and the other Toy Story characters joined the party for some grub.

The host, hostess, and Gigi

put out quite a spread by the chuck wagon: hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, veggies, fruit...

and of course, the largest cake this side of the Rio Grande.

The birthday-cowboy opened presents.

But, the others were not left out. There were party favors for each of the little cowhands.

By the end of the party, it was universally agreed--from the baby sister...
to the great grandmother--
 the howdy-partner-party was a rip-roarin' success.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kitchen Catches Up

This spring our son and daughter-in-law's kitchen came of age, joining their home's updated exterior.
You may remember nearly four years ago, in October 2010, I did a post on their exterior home improvements. They added the portico, unified the upper and lower parts of the house with paint, and installed appropriately-sized lighting. (See:

Now, in just the last few weeks, they have updated their kitchen. The awkwardly-arranged, passé room was gutted, and a functional space has emerged all shiny and new. Below are the before and after photos for your amazement.

Prior to renovation, the kitchen had an L-shaped counter that effectively cut off a third of the room. The elbow made the upper cabinet nearly inaccessible.

By removing the L, you can now reach the cupboard above, and the lower cabinet is infinitely more useable. More importantly, the unimpeded remainder of the kitchen joins the whole.

Here is the back third of the kitchen before the face-lift. 

Now the wall is home to double ovens, an auxiliary bar, and a pantry. 

The pull-out pantry shelving is a major improvement over the two shelves stuck deep under the stairs previously used for storage!  
The additional counter space on this wall more than compensates for the eliminated, L-shaped counter. Furthermore, the glass-front upper cabinets make an ideal place for serving beverages to guests.

Across from the sink, an electric range and microwave were replaced... a gas stove-top with stainless steel hood. (If you look back and compare the before and after pictures of this wall, you also notice how removing bi-fold doors gave more wall space.)

Actually, four sets of doors were removed from the kitchen. In the previous pictures you can see the bifold doors leading into the dining room and the other set going into the entrance hall. And, in the photo below, you notice the under-stair pantry door and bi-fold doors leading into the family room on the right.

Subtracting all these doors made an enormous impact on the home's flow.

The photo below shows two features my daughter-in-law loves in her new kitchen: a niche for the tv and her farm sink. The sink was a splurge, but she will tell you, so worth the expense. Maybe this is because it is so much easier for a very petite cook to reach!  

Trading yellow-toned wood cabinets for white ones and adding under-counter lights took years off a previously dark, old-looking room.


Finally, all the upgrades were enhanced by streamlining the floors. Previously, the playroom was one style of linoleum. Then there was a room break to allow for the kitchen linoleum. There was another room break between the kitchen and the dining room carpet, and another between the dining room and the entry. The young couple knew they would have to add hardwood in the playroom, kitchen, and dinging rooms to unify the flooring. 

However, they got a happy surprise, when they found pristine hardwood underneath the dining room carpet. Even with that boost, the floors were a major undertaking. After hardwood was installed in the kitchen and playroom, the floors were sanded, stained, and sealed. But it was more than worth it. Now the playroom flows into the kitchen which flows into the dining room, entry, living room, and family room. 

I must say, I am amazed at how dramatically the kitchen and flooring upgrades rejuvenated the entire  house! If the kitchen is the heart of the home, this one just got a transplant!

Friday, May 9, 2014

After April Showers, May Flowers

Spring bloomed late this year. Canada's back door was open keeping the northeast in the deep freeze. This resulted in our blossoms lasting weeks longer than usual. 

The daffodils showed their sunny smiles well into May.

Under their yellow shadows were the dainty blue grape hyacinths (muscari).

They were joined by early blooming tulips.These tall beauties retained their regal beauty for several weeks, the most amazing longevity I've ever seen.

Finally, just this week they dropped all their bright leaves and made way for their short, later-blooming cousins.
Wouldn't you agree that these double-petaled, ruffled tulips are real beauties?

Their delicate pink color blends beautifully with the pink dogwoods.

And behind the pink blossoms, the lilac's sweet smell beckons a passerby to come hither. 
Following the scent, I succumb and bring the lavender flowers inside the house. Ah, the fragrance is intoxicating. No wonder I love the month of May.