Sunday, January 31, 2010

Favorite Blogs

Hello Bloggy World!

I know a lot of my blog readers are not avid readers of other blogs. I got hooked on blogs in order to keep up with some of my friends that were blogging and also as a great way to pass time when bored. I've met some wonderful people from the blogging community.

Here are some of my favorite blogs:

All Things G&D
The wine in me sees the humor in everyday life. Even when I'm not
G posts fun blog entryies on home decorating, daily fashion and she just had a baby this month, so there is lots of pregnancy and baby related musings. Check out here lucky baby girl's nursery - I love the colorful tree mural.

sweet inspiration & fun baking ideas
Bakerella is my favorite baking inspiration blog. She makes these amazingly beautiful creations and then breaks the steps down so that I almost think I could produce such adorable results. Her creativity seems endless and her photography is drool worthy. Her creations are extra sweet, which Jim loves. Jim's favorite goody that I make, cake balls, are from Bakerella's blog. She has a whole sections about them here and here.


I'm a twenty something engineer by day and homemaker by night. I love to bake and try new recipes. My Hubby serves as my number one taste tester.
Simple recipes that are easy to whip up and taste great. Her cookie dough brownies are a decadent creation.

Carrots 'N' Cake
A Blog Dedicated to a Healthy Balance
Tina updates her blog three times a day, covering her meals and activities, so there's always something new to check out. She is an advocate for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Exercise, healthy eating, social drinking, achieving goals and, of course, cake and treats make up her lifestyle approach. She's my kind of girl!

Fly Through Our Window
the account of our nest
Darby has three, absolutely adorable, children. She tells stories of their everyday happenings with a great sense of humor. I'm very envious of her photography skills and how she captures her children's personalities! Her blog is the perfect mix of happy homemaker with baking and home made crafts, but she also shares her mistakes and stumblings.

Young House Love
Two Young People, Falling In Love, With Their Fist House
A blog showcasing the updating and decorating of a young couple's first house. Lots of DIY and affordable projects. They also provide reader design boards, which I love for decorating sources and ideas for my own home projects.
Wan Life to Live
wan. married. mom. magical.
I can't remember how I first found Wan's blog, but I've been following it ever since. Her stories of her teen and bean are humorous, honest and relatable. She has a sarcastic sense of humor and I like an insight on what it would be like to live in a big city in California - such a different lifestyle than mine in rural KS, but also, not that different after all.
Fabulous Florida Mommy
A blog designed to showcase my styling talents through sets I have created.
I want her closet! We have a similar style, I just wish I had the motivation to get myself put together as well as she does everyday for things like running errands.
Life Mother Teresa, Only Better
Jenny writes an award winning, satire blog. It's full of humor that would make my mother blush, swear words and a sarcastic look on life. It's not everyone's style, but I like to check it out occasionally and her posts often get me laughing out loud. (She is also well known for picking fights with celebrities on Twitter.)
One Girl's Thoughts On All Things Beauty
Tiffany has some really good YouTube tutorials for applying makeup and creating easy hairstyles. I'm not big on makeup, but I've learned some good tricks from her blog. I wish I had these type of resources when I was in jr. high/high school!
Plowing through life in the calf at a time
I've mentioned this blog and her cookbook a few times already. Her recipes are some of my favorites and I cook them frequently. The are down home, comfort foods and she provides detailed, step by step photographed instructions. Her photography is amazing and her tales of life on the ranch, with four kids, are both familiar and humorous. She is a big city girl, transplanted to a working ranch and living a rural life. She also hosts really good giveaways on her blog, but I haven't been lucky enough to win one...yet!

I like to get up before the rest of my family and enjoy a cup of coffee while catching up with my favorite blogs early in the morning.

How do you view blogs? I use to keep them all bookmarked in my favorite's folder, but recently switched over to a Google Blog Reader. It's made me much more organized and up to date with my reading. I just sign into my account, and it displays the newest blog entries that have been posted.

*All pictures posted are from the corresponding blogs.
**You can click on my Blogspot Profile picture to see all the blogs that I follow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sugar (cookie) Buzz

Ethan enjoyed having his cousin, Alex, over to the house the other afternoon. Alex is Jim's sister, Gidget's, 8 year old son.

When faced with two, energetic boys, I like to have activities ready to keep their fleeting attention.

Ethan and Alex are 5 years apart in age, so it also comes in handy to have some activities planned to help them in playing together. They are close enough in age to have a lot of fun playing together, but far enough apart that their interests and play styles are different and can use a little guidance now and then.

This afternoon's activity was decorating sugar cookies. Why save these only for Christmas? I love simple sugar cookies and what kid doesn't like frosting and sprinkles?

I gave each boy a rimmed sheet pan with their cookies to decorate. The rimmed pans help control the sprinkles and sugar from spreading all over the table and floor. The frosting covered fingers get things messy enough, so I try to control the chaos and mess in any possible areas.

The boys got into the decorating, Ethan showed off his coordination by decorating with a sprinkle shaker in each hand. Ethan's cookies were full of Phillipsburg Panther spirit with his blue and gold sprinkle combination that he choose for his decorating.

The boys had several different shapes and colors of sprinkles to choose from, along with colored sugars and mini chocolate chips. The cookies came out colorful and fun. I think my little chef's did a great job!

We wrapped up Alex's cookies for him to take home and share with his Mom. Ethan didn't have many cookies left, as he somehow managed to sneak 3 cookies while I was cleaning up. Ugh - the resulting sugar buzz from all those cookies in his little body kept him wired the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What I'm Craving This January

I'm back for my 2nd addition of Cravings. I love learning about new products and ideas over the Internet. I don't have a lot of shopping access out here in rural Kansas, so I do the majority of my window shopping online.

Here are the products that I'm craving this month.
*Product name and shopping sources provided after the image.

Kitchen & Foodie Cravings

Dutch Oven Baker
I love the color of this pot and the down home, comfort foods that Dutch ovens produce.

Vanilla Bean Paste
I can't get real vanilla or vanilla beans locally. I love the idea of having this vanilla bean paste on hand to add the flavor and tiny vanilla bean specks to my baking.

Bento Box
These Japanese bento boxes come in a variety of shapes, colors and styles. The cute, organized boxes would make the perfect size package for Ethan's food when we are traveling.

Fashion & Beauty Cravings

Cocktail Dress
I don't have anywhere to wear this beautiful, deep teal dress, but should it find its' way to my closet, I'm sure I could find someplace to wear it...even if it was just while cleaning my house.

Red Lipstick
I watched the movie Bride Wars earlier this week and was inspired by Anne Hathaway's beautiful, bold red lips in the movie. Her classic style is timeless and elegant.

1883 Lucchese Boots
I read about these boots on two blogs that I follow and have fallen in love. I would be one stylish cowgirl while stomping around our Kansas farm. However, spending around $300 on boots that will be covered in cow poop, not so practical.

Home Cravings

Welcome Mat
I'm ready for Spring and this bird's nest door mat seems like the perfect way to welcome the new season. It's from the new Farmhouse collection by Pottery Barn. I'm loving everything in the collection that looks tailored made for our home.

Sunflower Pillow
Another find from Pottery Barn. I told you that I'm loving their farmhouse/country styled collection. This sunflower printed throw pillow would look amazing in our family or living room. For this "sunflower living" family, the pillow would be a perfect accessory.

Circle Wall Mount Candle Holder
We recently took out a wall and a doorway to open up the entrance to our basement. This left us with a large, open wall space that needs decorating. Yet another find from Pottery Barn, this wall sculpture has been on my wish list for a while now.

What Internet finds have you been craving lately?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Great Millie

Yesterday, we went to visit my Grandma, who was recently moved from Phillipsburg to an assisted living facility in Beloit, KS. At our house, she is known as "Great Millie," as that is what Ethan calls her instead of Great-Grandma Millie. She gets a good laugh out of being titled as "great."

Here we are, four generations of Masons - Grandma Millie, my Dad, me and Ethan.

About two weeks ago, she was in the hospital and had coded twice. We received a couple of calls from the medical staff that the time was getting close, but each time her fighting spirit won. It's remarkable how quickly she has gained strength and is back to her social self. She has defied the odds before and she is proving that she still has a lot of fight left in her 94 year old self.  What an improvement since my last visit!

On the drive up to visit Grandma, we stopped in Cawker City to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine.

I don't recommend visiting the twine ball on a rainy day. It was rather smelly. Movie Trivia Fact: The Ball of Twine is featured in the John Travolta movie "Michael."

While we visited with Grandma Millie, my cousin, Brad, took Ethan outside to visit the facility's pond. They have an assortment of chickens, ducks and peacocks. This is the view from my Grandma's room and it's really nice to watch the birds from her window.

Ethan crawled up in "Great Millie's" lap for awhile and with only a little bribing, agreed to pose for a photograph. I think I may still owe him a cookie...

Ethan and Grandma have had a special relationship and he got good and spoiled from being her only great grandchild living in the same town.

Pretty soon, the grown up visiting got boring and Ethan found a cuddly spot with his Grandma.

After a good visit, we left so that Grandma could cheer on "her boys", the KU Basketball team. Ethan and I napped in the car while Grandpa Mason drove us back to Phillipsburg.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Living Room - Home Tour Part 2

In the last installment of our home tour, I showed you our newly redone Master Bedroom.

Today, I'll show you the first room in our house that you see when you walk in the front door - our living room. I like to call the style of our living room as Country Elegent. I tried to mix Jim's love of outdoors and our life in rural Kansas with my love of sparkley crystal and dark wood finishes.

Front Entry and Coat Closet

We use the little, antique stand for holding our mail and my purse. It's a great organization piece of furniture for our household and was a birthday gift from my parents a couple of years ago. Usually, the tiled floor is covered in Jim's muddy work boots and various pairs of Ethan and my shoes but I actually picked them up before snapping these pictures.


Sitting Area

Jim's prize, trophy buck is featured in this room. I'm not a fan, but we all make compromises when sharing a home. I'm sure he's not a fan of many of my little knick-knacks. Jim actually got a bigger deer this year. I told Jim he could hang it on the wall when he got me a bigger home that could handle multiple deer mounts. I think our home's maximum ratio is already met.

Sitting Area - Opposite View

The little desk at the end of the couch is where Ethan colors. The rocking chair was an auction find and is super comfortable and unique in its' construction. I have it covered in a brown blanket throw until I get around to changing the upholstery.

Entertainment Center

The entertainment center is one of my first furniture purchases. It's from Walmart and was a big splurge in my college days. I'm impressed at how well it has held up over the years. The under cupboards on the left hold bins of Ethan's toys and the ones on the right have our DVD collection. I love closed door storage! The display case is full of our crystal and other pretties and the red train, in the middle, was my brothers before he passed away. On top of the entertainment center we display our family pictures and a picture of each of our siblings and their families.

Thanks for stopping by for another peak inside our Home on the Range in Phillipsburg, Kansas where we are Sunflower Living.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pound Puppy

Introducing the newest member of our family - Dexter

I told you the other day that Jim had fallen for a dog at the Phillipsburg City Pound. Jim talked about the dog for about a week and even gave him a name. As soon as he was named, I started preparing mentally for the dog to join our family.

He was scheduled to be put down on Monday, if no one came to claim him. I wasn't surprised when Jim came home with a dog at lunch time on Monday afternoon.

He has an appointment with the vet today, where he'll hopefully get a clean bill of health and maybe the vet can tell us a little about his background. I'm curious about his breed and age. I'm guessing him to be a golden lab mix and slightly under a year old. Any other guesses?

I wonder, too, about his background before he ended up in the pound. He seems to be well cared for but doesn't appear to recognize any commands. Our guess is that someone got a cute, fluffy puppy and was not prepared for a very big and frisky dog. Growing up with large retriever dogs, I know they are wonderful companion dogs but are ornery teenagers that have a lot of energy and love to chew through things. From Dexter's actions, we think he probably spent the majority of his life in a crate and wasn't trained properly. Hopefully, he's still young enough that we can train him to have good doggy manners. I'm looking forward to him learning to not jump up and cover me with mud.

I love having a buddy to go on runs with me. Maybe I'll actually get into a routine now that I have a jogging partner...or maybe not. Jim will be taking him out into the fields this weekend to see if there is any potential for a hunting companion.

And now for my PSA - Adopt a pet in need of a home and save a life. It's a great feeling.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Birthday Girl

I celebrated my 27th birthday on January 14th - Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm starting to feel like a real adult and not a kid playing "house" and pretending to be an adult. In some ways, I feel accomplished for my age but, in other ways, I feel behind where I pictured myself being at this point in my life.

For 27, I think I've accomplished a lot on my life list. I've been married for almost five years, have a wonderful three year old son, completed my MBA degree and we have owned our home for about 4.5 years. On the flip side, about a year and a half ago, I lost my job and that put me behind my career and professional goals. I'm enjoying my new found career but I still feel like I'm lacking some professional fulfillment with my current position.

Now on to the fun birthday stuff...

Jim took Ethan to pick out a card for me. I loved the bright and cheerful card that Ethan selected. The inside of the card made me laugh. Ethan signed the card in his typical scribble but was not satisfied with how Jim wrote on the card. Ethan instructed Daddy to sign his name like he did. So my card was adorned with my two boy's scribble signatures. Too cute! (Daddy on the top and Ethan on the bottom.)

I'm a little bit of a birthday princess and would love to have surprises and lots of attention. However, I know Jim is the opposite and have learned to not expect a big show of emotions and showering of gifts at occasions. Since I knew there probably wouldn't be any presents from my boys to open, I took the matter into my own hands.

I took Ethan shopping and let him pick out something for my birthday from him. Ethan really wanted to get me a Webkins stuffed animal but I nudged him in a different direction.

Didn't Ethan do a great job? I love this dainty necklace that can be dressed up or worn casual. There are definite benifits to picking out your own gift.

My sister sent me a wonderful birthday surprise. I covered some of my favorite things in December and she picked one out and surprised me with it for my birthday.

I am in love with this print. It's pretty good sized and I lucked out in finding the perfect sized frame on clearance at Target. Currently, I have it hanging in our home office. It landed there since there were already nails from an old picture that hung in this spot. I'm not sure if this will be its' permanent home but, for now, it looks great and reminds me of two of my great loves and how I start my morning every day - drinking coffee and catching up on my favorite blogs.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Puppy Love

Jim works for the City of Phillipsburg and everyday he sees the dogs in the city dog pound. Jim seems to have been struck by puppy love by a young, yellow lab.

Jim has been talking about this dog all week and took Ethan and I out last night to see the dog for ourselves. I'm not really eager to add to our family with another dog. We already have a Beagle, Bailey, that is an inside, family pet. If we were to get another dog, it would be an outdoors only dog. I can't handle adding any more dog hair to our house.

The yellow lab is scheduled to be put down on Monday, if an owner can not be found. I'm hoping the dog's previous owner finds him or a great family can be found to adopt the dog. Otherwise, I fear that I'll be coming home and finding a new dog in our backyard on Monday evening.

I think Jim likes the idea of having a larger dog that he can take out to the farm and pal around with outside. I kind of like the thought of having a larger, athletic dog that can go on long walks and runs with me. Bailey loves to go on walks but can't go as far or fast as I would often like.
I suppose there's a time in practically every young boy's life when he's affected by that wonderful disease of puppy love. I don't mean the kind a boy has for a pretty little girl that lives down the road. I mean the real kind, the kind that has four small feet and a wiggly tail, and sharp little teeth that can gnaw on the boy's fingers; the kind a boy can romp and play with, even eat and sleep with.
Wilson Rawls
Where the Red Fern Grows
A Boy and His Dog...
Featuring Ethan and Bailey

Ethan's 1st bath being closely supervised by Bailey.
Yes, I respect my son's privacy and covered up with personal parts.

Bailey loved Ethan's Baby Play Gym

Ethan's 1st Christmas - Featuring Santa and his trusty Reindeer

I have to share one of my favorite childhood stories on Jim. When he was a little boy on the farm, he spent a lot of time playing with the family dogs, since there weren't other children nearby. His best friend was his loyal dog. Jim's mom told me that Jim had a lot of trouble understanding that there was a difference between dogs and humans when he was little. Jim used to ask his Dad - "Dad, when you were a dog..." all the time.

Mommy's Puppy Love

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mixing Medication and Chocolate

I started a new medication last night. The doctor reviewed the likely side effects with me, which include headaches, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, nausea and vomiting. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? And, I’m sure, more than you ever wanted to know about me. At least I'll have some good practice with hot flashes prior to menopause. Plus, mood swings are nothing new to me. Just ask Jim. :)

About ten minutes after taking my first dose, my hypochondriac side comes out and I'm sure the side effects are in full swing. ugh!

To make myself feel better, I decided that I needed to self-medicate with chocolate. We didn't have anything good in our house to cure the craving, so I decided to whip up some Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes last night. Sometimes a girl really needs a serious chocolate fix. ;)

Hot out of the oven and topped with whipped cream.
(Ethan loves these star fruits that I used as garnish. I was excited to see them in our small town grocery store.)

And now for the best part...

...letting all the warm chocolate "lava" ooze out. Holy Yum!

This did the trick. My "side effects" all vanished as I drifted off into a chocolate coma.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gossip and Beignets

This weekend was the perfect combination of relaxing and activities. We weren't running around too busy but we also had enough things planned to keep us from getting bored and restless.

On Saturday, I had some childhood friends over to my house for a chance to catch up and, of course, do a little gossiping. It's always so nice to be able to reconnect with the people who are truly important in your life.

Blast from the past - I think we're improving with age.

My friend, Monica, is busy traveling all over the world, flying planes and other cool stuff so it was great to have her in town and hear of all her adventures. Her jet-setting lifestyle is so fascinating to me - especially in comparison to my slow paced, small town life on the range in rural Kansas. Maybe someday I'll have the opportunity to visit her on one of her exotic adventures. (oh - good idea for a future friend's get together.)

Ethan had a lot of fun hosting the little girl at our house. They attend daycare together as well, so it was nice for them to be able to play in another setting and spend some time together. It worked out really well for them to be familiar with each other and play so well together so that their mommies could gossip and visit.

We headed to Shelly Ann's Cafe for breakfast. The food was filling and just how a country cafe should be and it always looks like a scene from a parody of small town life with old men having their coffee break and telling stories. It hasn't changed much since I was a little girl. I remember loving to sit and spin on the stools at the counter and I'm always glad to see that they are still there.

We headed out of town later in the afternoon for our monthly shopping trip. The closest Wal-Mart is over 60 miles away, so we try to plan ahead and go monthly to stock up on household basics and grocery staples. We drove 90 miles and into Nebraska so that we could go to a town that also has a Target and a large hunting/outdoors store for Jim.

We decided to try Eileen's Colossal Cookies for an afternoon snack. Jim and Ethan choose M&M cookies and I opted for a classic chocolate chip cookie. They were big, soft and rich. Yum! The cookies provided the perfect pick-me-up for getting through our marathon of shopping we needed to get done and the drive back home.

On Sunday evening, I took Ethan to his first movie at the theater and we saw Disney's The Princess and the Frog.

The local movie theater doesn't start movies until 7:30 p.m., which is Ethan's bedtime, so I wasn't too sure on how he would do being out so late. He behaved so well and I was a proud mommy. He stayed in his seat the entire time and the movie really held his did his movie goodies. Ethan and I both enjoyed a Kiddie Combo of a small drink, popcorn and mini candy bar. At only $2.50, I think it's a great deal for a movie theater treat.

The Princess and the Frog movie review:

I wasn't really looking forward to this movie but I didn't know when another little kid geared movie would be coming to Phillipsburg and I figured Ethan was finally old enough to enjoy a movie at the theater.

I'm really glad that I decided to see the movie. The beginning of the movie really shows New Orleans and its diverse culture, music and food. It reminded me of our honeymoon (we took a cruise that ported out of New Orleans so we stayed a couple of days touring the city) and all of the delicious beignets that I ate while there. (The title character in the movie is famous for her "man getting" beignets.)

I appreciated that the main character in the movie was an independent woman that was working two jobs to make her dreams come true of owning a restaurant. She knew that working hard and being honest to yourself was the best way to get your dreams.

Along the journey of the movie, she learns the importance of love and balancing that with her ambitions of owning a restaurant. I think this is a theme that many women today struggle with, especially those with career ambitions that are also trying to juggle being a wife/mother.

In classic Disney style, she finds her prince and lives happily ever after. However, I liked that their happily ever after wasn't in a castle but working together as a team to make their dreams come true and opening the restaurant.