Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring at Bellingrath Gardens

It's been a busy few months at Still Woods Farmhouse.  There has been re-inventing of rooms (sharing those later), moving of furniture, and big decision making.  I am a multi-tasker, but not a multi-blogger.  Can't blog and do re-inventing at the same time.   One of my big decisions was to retire at the end of this school year.  I have spent 33 years in public education as a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist.   I adore my job as a psychometrist, but can't wait for this next phase in my life. Woo-hoo, more blogging and project time for me! 

A few weeks ago, Mr Still Woods and I enjoyed a morning trip to Bellingrath Gardens in Theodore, Alabama.  I wanted to share some of the beautiful scenery from our trip!  The azaleas were in full bloom, but there is so much more to see.  I was especially fond of the hydrangeas and paper whites that seemed to be everywhere.
The larger photo below is from their greenhouse.  The Easter lilies were putting on a show!
At the center of this sprawling estate is the Bellingrath Home.  Here is a little history compliments of Wikipedia, "Bellingrath is the 65-acre public garden and historic home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath, located on the Fowl River in Theodore, near Mobile, Alabama. Walter Bellingrath was one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the Southeast, and with his wealth built the estate garden and home. He and his wife, Bessie, lived in the home which has since been converted into a museum. Since the Gardens opened to the public in 1932, they continue to welcome visitors to enjoy year-round floral pageantry."  Mrs. Bellingrath had an eye for antiques and the house is filled with her collections.  My husband and I have season passes to the gardens and are able to tour the home once a year.  I love seeing it at Christmas.  One of my favorite rooms in the house is the kitchen. You can't take photos in the home and I couldn't find a photo online, but just imagine a huge, vintage kitchen.  For this vintage loving girl, it's perfect!
My husband and I love to sit and look down the expansive, open green space known as  The Great Lawn.  It is always bordered with exquisite flowers, greenery and hanging baskets.  The fountain in the photo below is near the house and the bridge is in the lake area on the grounds. It is a favorite place for marriage proposals.  We saw one recently!  Very romantic:)
We always leave Bellingrath full of inspiration and ideas.  In fact after this particular visit, we came home and started working in our own garden.  Our little Luke was happy to ride around in the cart and lend a paw!
There is so much more to see of Bellingrath.  We take a gazillion photos each time we visit. There are lake side gardens, marsh areas, the Chinese gardens, and the river gardens.  If you are ever down south, it is a must see excursion! 

Spring Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse!


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hosting a Fun Academy Awards Party!

I love movies, especially the old ones.  Give me a movie on TCM and I am a happy girl.  Each year our family hosts a fun, family oriented Academy Awards Party.  Nothing fancy, but lots of fun.  The Academy Awards are around the corner and you may want to begin this tradition in your home. By the way, I know it is  now called The Oscars, but I will always call it The Academy Awards!  How about you?

The rules of the party are simple:
1.  Make a dish and pair it as closely as possible to a nominee.  Corny ideas are okay!
2.  All dishes are labeled with the name of the dish and what nominee it represents.
3.  Have fun and enjoy!

Let's take a look at last years party!  Appetizers are always a good way to start.  Excuse the photos, the afternoon sun was coming through the window!  This is an amazing shrimp dish and it makes everyone happy!
My sister came up with both appetizers.  If you had real people attending your party (not just family), remove the dip from its plastic container and place it in a pretty bowl!
My guys are crazy about this layered salad, so I incorporated it into a nomination category!
This dish was still in the oven when I snapped the picture, but my oh my, was it delicious.  Country Captain is a curried chicken and rice dish with almonds and currants.  It is a "low country" dish and was brought to the US from India, showing up in Charleston and Savannah.  Yummy!
We love fried chicken and my mother came up with this nomination!
I didn't get a picture of the dish, but it was yummy!
Don't forget the drinks!
Dessert last year, compliments of the fabulously famous movie...Frozen!  Do you want to build a snowman?!!
Mardi Gras season was in full swing last year at the time of  The Academy Awards so we had a last minute nomination! I think it was a short film? I just looked it up and it was nominated for Best Documentary Film.  Have a few cards ready so that if you have a last minute addition to the line-up, you can quickly write the label.
There were a few other items that rounded out our party, but you get the idea.  There is still plenty of time to plan a party for tomorrow evening.  Impromptu parties are the best!  Just pull up the nomination list and use your imagination!  I'll give you a jump start.  We are having "The Revenant" Roast and rounding out the meal with "The Big Short" Cake.  Bet you have a good idea what that is!
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Still Woods Farmhouse Christmas Tour 2015

Whew..where did the time go?  My boys came home for Christmas and all thoughts of this blog flew out the window!  So before December turns into January, I wanted to share a little of Christmas at Still Woods Farmhouse.

We will start with the reading/music room.  I love this room!  I have truly enjoyed having my morning coffee here each morning, while the house is still asleep.  It is beautiful at night.  My superb...mediocre...okay, terrible photo skills do not do it justice!  My husband set all of this up...it's his baby!  The tree in the corner has only two types of ornaments: my mother's hand painted ornaments and glass hearts.  Mom paints ornaments for her Sunday School class each year and she always makes sure her girls get one.  Lucky me! They are so pretty!!
I decided to do the dining room in a winter wonderland theme this year.  Lots of white, snow covered greenery, and a little sparkle from silver/white ornaments make this room a great place for any meal.  I have three trees on top of my grandmother's Singer sewing machine.  I was just given the machine by a cousin and I am so excited to have it in my possession.  I think Grandma would like it on display.
My kitchen theme is always gingerbread and gingham.  Love the two together!  I have a thing for Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and have several editions.  The Christmas in the Country Gooseberry edition is propped on a cookbook easel for easy access.  My red Kitchen-Aid mixer and red Keurig add a nice touch all year, but especially at Christmas.  The hot cocoa bar has been a joke this year!  It has been so hot that people are wearing flip flops and shorts!  Here in the south, you turn down the AC and break out the hot cocoa anyway! My little kitchen tree has mini cookie cutters as ornaments.
The laundry room also gets a little Christmas decor.  After all, it's Santa's Wash and Dry!  I wrapped toile around a foam base to make a simple wreath for the laundry room door.  I made many of the cross stitch prayers one year to give away as gifts to my family.  Manger scenes are found throughout the entire house.
Nutcrackers rule the living room.  We have given our boys a nutcracker each year, so our collection is fairly large.  Some of the more special German nutcrackers are in their bedrooms. My husband added two 4 foot nutcrackers to our collection this year.  Our tree is a combination of what we love best.  No themes here. You will find macaroni ornaments from our boys' school projects alongside Radko ornaments. Glass icicles add a nice sparkle, but from the photo, you really can see them.  The coffee table has a simple tray with a bushy bearded Santa and a candle ring.
My oldest son sets up our manager scene each year.  I love this set which we have had for a number of years. It is the focal point of our Christmas decor and of our Christmas. I tried lighting it with fairy lights this year.  You may see the wires running through the set.  It looks so pretty lit up.
This next collage is just a combination of things scattered around the house.  Santa's Library is open year round!  Sometimes in the hottest months of the year, I like to sit down and read a Christmas story.  The plate has a beautiful verse..."Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel", Isaiah 7:14.  I already shared with you my vintage decor in the office area off the kitchen and the front porch Christmas decor, but added to this last collage.
I still have all my Christmas decorations up.  When do you take down your decorations?  It seems that I have more time to just sit and enjoy everything after Christmas.  Since I am allergic to real trees (sad, I know), we don't have to worry about a tree drying out.  I also find that I like to reevaluate everything before I put it away.  If I'm in a rush to get it down, I can't get everything labeled and put away according to rooms.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  I am looking forward to what our Lord has in store for me this year!
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Any Day Christmas Table

Decorating the Christmas table is not only for the big day, but for the entire month of December.  There are informal gatherings with friends and family, a big country breakfast, soup night, and even take out pizza on those nights when you are running to and fro.  Do you need a few fresh ideas?  Put your feet up, relax, and take a look at these wonderful table settings!

Let's start with a few tartan plaid ideas.  Christmas=Tartan Plaid in my book!
Peonies and Orange Blossoms brings you this lovely display.  I just love plaid!
Confessions of a Plate Addict (love that name) has the plaid going on too!
Pinterest has tons of ideas.  This one is really cute!  Such a great way to incorporate a Christmas Village into the design.  
Plum Creek Place offers this village inspired tablescape.  
Let's turn our attention to simple red and white themes.  It is quite cold here today.  I have the items to put together this type of tablescape for tonight's chili supper. 
I love the stark white and warm red in this scene.
Let's look at a few gingerbread inspired themes.  Isn't this one adorable?
I had to add this cute centerpiece!  I can imagine a simple dinner during one of the days prior to Christmas with a hearty soup, a casual atmosphere, and this cute display.
Do you collect nutcrackers?  Why not make a table setting with nutcrackers as the main element? Here are a few ideas.  Our first is from Plum Creek Place.
This one is from Bewteen Naps on the Porch...
What about a candy cane theme?  
This one is super cute too!  My kitchen theme is gingerbread and gingham.  I could use this!
Bottle brush trees and burlap are everywhere and look nice in a table setting.
Our Creative Life incorporates candles, burlap, and greenery for this delightful table.
The next photo is by Michelle Edwards, author of Sweet Something Designs.  She passed away last January after battling cancer. Her blog was filled beautiful designs and ideas such as the one posted below.  
Isn't this a gorgeous, but simple setting?  I really like the fresh greenery and cranberries.  I would also like to see this idea in large mason jars.  Hmmm, gives me an idea!
Take time to enjoy these days prior to Christmas and take a little extra effort to set a pretty table for every meal.  Gather items from your Christmas displays and get creative!  Your family will appreciate sitting down to enjoy not only a nice meal and family time, but an inspired table as well. 
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirl Cookies!

Each Christmas, I put on a cute apron, turn on the Christmas music and head to the kitchen to begin whipping up batches of cookies.  It's in my genes!  I come from a long line of bakers.  As small children, my sister and I would eagerly await the packages of goodies from our grandmothers.   One made all kinds of cookies and pies, while the other made delicious candy and cakes.  I take after my paternal grandmother, the cookie baker! My mother is also a Christmas cookie baker.  She has a long list and makes everyone's favorites.  At one time, she made over 13 variety of cookies just at Christmas.  Everyone loves her homemade goodness!

Tonight I am sharing with you my youngest son's favorite cookie.  They are called Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirls! Sounds great, don't they? These are a delicious, quick drop cookies.  Let's get cooking!
The Starting Line-Up:
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 cup of softened butter
6 ounces of softened cream cheese
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of good semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt is a separate bowl.  Gradually mix the flour mixture to the creamed mixture.  Mix at a low speed until the flour is thoroughly incorporated into the mixture.

Fold the melted chocolate chips into the mixture.  Be careful not to over mix.  I put a little in at a time and kind of "cut" the chocolate in.
Drop dough by spoonfuls or a cookie scoop onto a parchment lined cookie sheets approximately 2 inches apart. I always use a cookie scoop.  The one I used here is about an inch and a half wide.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely before storing.
Look at this yumminess.  Don't look at the tacky manicure!  These cookies also freeze well.
Well, I am off to wrap gifts and maybe watch a heartwarming Hallmark movie! Come back soon.  I have lots to share!
Blessings and Happy Baking from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse
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Monday, December 7, 2015

A Still Woods Farmhouse Front Porch Christmas

Welcome to my first ever Christmas Open House!  I will be sharing little snippets of our home as well as some of our family's favorite cookie recipes during the next two weeks.  I love to decorate all areas of the house, but have the most fun with the outdoor decor. The theme for my front and back porches is Farmhouse Chic...natural elements, tartan plaid, grapevine wreaths, and simple treasures.

I am limiting this post to two of my favorite outside areas.  The weather has been beautiful here lately and there is no better place to enjoy a mug of hot cocoa than in a rocking chair with a view of the woods beyond.  Perched between two rockers is a bench with a red coke bottle container and a white enamel bucket trimmed with a tartan bow. The bucket fits my live fir tree perfectly!  Propped on the bench is my treasured Speedaway sled from my childhood in Maine. My dad was in the military and this sled has been to many duty stations, including Hawaii!  A pair of skates hang ready for the ice.  Of course, in south Mississippi, that would be something to behold!
Who said that snow people have to be men?  I decided to make a snow-girl for another area of the front porch.  Don't you think she is sassy? This is a very simple project.  You only need three grape vine wreaths...small, medium, and large, a pair of rubber boots, a scarf, a hat or in my case, a bow, and three suction cups to adhere to the window. You could always sit the largest wreath on the ground and forgo the boots, but they do add the "sassy" element. Nearby is another rocker and a simple table.  It's the perfect place to read and maybe have another mug of hot cocoa!
Stop back by Thursday night.  I'll be sharing a delicious cookie recipe with all of you!
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse
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Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Vintage Christmas 2015

We love vintage and retro finds.  At Christmas, these items bring a touch of nostalgia to our homes.  Today I am sharing with you some of my vintage ornaments and decor.  Last year, I purchased a silver tree to remind me of the tree I had when I was little.  It's the perfect place to hold my vintage ornaments.  All I need now is a mini color wheel!  Remember those?  I have a few items which I've had since my first Christmas (1960). With a dad in the military and travels to many ports of call, I am surprised these delicate ornaments survived. Also on the tree are a few vintage Christmas cookie cutters. Let's take a peak at my treasures.  Be warned, these were all done with my trusty phone!
This is my favorite ornament.  The moon, stars, and Saturn always caught my attention as a child and still does.
Here is another one from my first Christmas tree.  I imagine it came from the same set as the astronomical one.  The colors are beautiful and the glitter adds a nice sparkle.
Lastly from my first Christmas tree is this blue bell.  I have added a few more bells to my collection, but have only found the red and green ones. Ha!  You can see my phone in the bell!
I picked up this ornament at an antique store last year.  It blends in nicely with the ones from my first Christmas tree.
My first Christmas stocking designed with a happy seal balancing a colorful ball is a treasure.
Nearby is a milk glass cake plate with a few of "my favorite things".  The Santa cup was a gift from my Aunt Mary in San Antonio, Texas.  While we were there one Christmas, she gave me and my sister Santa cups full of candy canes.  My sis lost hers so I found a replacement for her a couple of years ago.  The little elves are a recent vintage purchase.  They still have their original labels under their feet.  They look a little pensive, as if Santa scolded them!  I also have a favorite mini milk container and a candle from Aunt Mary.  A little snow for sparkle and they are all set!  I love the Christmas prayer cross stitch on the wall.  When I was pregnant with our last son, I was on complete bed rest.  I stitched these happy prayers and my hubby made the frames.  Special memories!
I recently ran across a few Christmas ads from the Saturday Evening Post.  I picked  a few up for two to three dollars each.   This vintage Kodak ad is from December 16, 1950.  An insert on the ad reads, "The look of a child on Christmas is more precious than any gift - keep it!"  So true!
 
Stop back by next week.  I am having Open House at Still Woods Farmhouse and will be sharing our Christmas decor with you.  I just love looking at how everyone decorates their home!  

Have a wonderful day friends and blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse!
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