Monday, August 14, 2017

Renovating 101

Let me begin by saying that sheetrock dust is evil. It lands in the strangest of places and lurks in tiniest of corners. If it was a germ, it would take over the world in no time. No vaccination could stop it.  Sheetrock dust is resistant to the powerful suction of the best vacuum and the continuous back and forth action of vigorous mopping. Sweep it up you say?  Forget about it! It just dances around in the air while finding a new place to adhere to. I bet under a microscope, it has suction cup tentacles.

I say all this while eating a cup of Blue Bell Cookie Two Step ice cream.  I am rewarding myself for  laying down sheets of brown butcher paper on the floors and covering more furniture with painters cloth.  All in anticipation of the disaster that will commence again tomorrow morning. By the way, the ice cream is delicious.

So what's up at the farmhouse? I wish I could tell you that Mr. Still Woods has decided that I need a larger closet and we are beginning a renovation job to give me the closet of my dreams.
Hmm..which one shall I choose?
Actually, our project is not that grand! We are closing in a door and moving it to another location.  That's it.  Nothing major, but it is causing a huge amount of mess.  It also required moving a large library unit...which necessitated moving power boxes...which necessitated the removal of more sheetrock...which brings me back around to the reason I am eating ice cream!

I'll keep you posted on the progress!
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Encouraging Scripture for Back to School

Many of the students along the Mississippi Gulf Coast began school this week and the remainder will start next week. There will be plenty of excitement mingled with the fear of the unknown.  As a psychometrist and counselor in various school settings, I saw it all the time.  The age of the student is irrelevant.  Whether it is an elementary student or student bound for college, there is often some amount of apprehension.
An extremely polite kindergartner once told me, "Thank you for inviting me, but I don't think I will be back"! Loved his forthrightness!  I sought out the little fellow the next school day, knowing that his hopes of staying home would be crushed and he might need a little encouragement.  On the other end of the spectrum, don't forget our college bound students who need a good dose of encouragement before setting off into the big world of college.  I remember being scared to death when I first set foot on the campus of my alma mater, Mississippi State University! What about you?
Encouragement...we all need it.  I draw so much encouragement from God's word.  Many families start each new year with a theme scripture verse.  My good friend Lisa has a theme hymn to begin a new year.  What about an encouraging scripture verse for the new school year?  I can think of no better way to begin the adventure of a new school year than with words of encouragement from the Lord.  May I suggest a few for you to consider?

Proverbs 18:10 
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Psalm 16:8  
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, 
I will not be shaken.

Psalm 55:22  
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; 
He will never let the righteous be shaken.

2 Timothy 1:7  
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, 
love and self-discipline.  
(Great for a shy child)

Proverbs 3: 5-6  
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  

Ephesians 4:32.  
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, 
just as in Christ God forgave you.
(Great for conflict with friends)

Isaiah 40:31  
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings 
like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:13  
I can do all things through Christ because he strengthens me.  (ICB)

Do you have a theme scripture verse for the school year?  Would you be willing to share it with all of us? Please leave me a comment with your family's favorite Bible verse.  If you don't, I hope you will consider spending some time with your family this weekend deciding on your theme verse for the school year.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful new school year!
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Sad Goodbye

It's funny how a furry creature, weighing just a tad more than 8 pounds, can steal your heart and hold it captive.  Our little Luke Bailey did just that...
If you follow my blog, you may remember seeing the post,  Puppy Love .  It was all about the new fellow in my life. To make a long story short, my husband was content with our two labs, but I fell instantly in love with this little boy.
He was one of two puppies from my sister's maltipoo's litter.  I would visit whenever I could just to hold him. After hearing my husband's objections, I stopped talking about it and quietly began a Facebook campaign.  You know....if I get so many likes, this little cutie gets to live with me? It worked!

Luke always thought he was as big as our labs.  Whenever it would thunder, Luke would bark furiously until I had our labs safe and sound in our garage.  He would round them up and usher them to the door connecting to our garage.  He looked quite smitten with himself after finishing this very important job.  I think the under bite helped with the smitten look!
Luke was also extremely proud of his potty abilities! When he came back in, he would often run around the coffee table as fast as he could, barking as he went.  It was always hilarious to see his antics!

He also loved to play Canasta and would often distract the other players by his sheer cuteness.  The truth is he just liked to be held and was most content in someone's arms.
Just like his human mom, he was fond of a good book. I must tell you that he was quite a ham! He loved to sit still and pose for photos.  I think he knew what we were doing. After all, he had his own Facebook page with lots of followers!
He loved to sneak his way into pictures.  I shooed him away several times while I was taking the photos for my blog post about the Reading Room.  Look closely and you'll see my little pal sitting in the photo!
Luke was also an avid Mississippi State fan.  In fact, during one disastrous game, a friend messaged me and asked if Luke had on his Mississippi State jersey.  I told him that Luke did not.  I was told to get it on him ASAP.  I did and we won! After that, Luke always wore his jersey on game day. Hail State!
Luke wasn't great at  gardening, but he did like to supervise. He loved to be around us, no matter what we were doing.  I love his smile in this photo!
Luke was brave and adventurous....maybe a little too brave for his size.  This past May, Luke decided to take an Underdog worthy leap from our front porch so he could follow the labs.  I was at church cooking for our Senior Adult banquet.  My husband said that he noticed Luke favoring his right leg.  By the time I got home later that night, Luke was acting a little funny and didn't move much. I took him out before bedtime and he hobbled off to his favorite spot under the big oaks and walked around to the back of the house.  I brought him in and he slept without any issues through the night, but by the next morning, we knew something was terribly wrong. 

We spent an early Saturday morning at our vets. It appeared that Luke had injured his back. He was placed on kennel rest and given steroids and pain medication.  I was told to carry him outside to potty, as he was not allowed to walk.  Poor Luke looked so sad and confused.  We followed all the rules and he had a very quiet day.  We took him out right before bedtime and put him in his kennel beside our bed.  By 2:30 am, he was panting heavily and was paralyzed from his mid back down.  We rushed immediately to the animal emergency hospital near us. We were told that the prognosis was extremely poor because the paralysis set in so quickly.  In the wee hours of the morning, we lost our sweet Luke Bailey.  He was only 4 years old. 
We brought him home and buried him near the garden, not far from his favorite trees. He'd like our choice of resting places.  He was all about those trees! Our big labs came and sniffed the white box that held our little Luke. They sat nearby and watched as my husband dug and dug in the pouring rain. It was if they knew...and I'm sure they did.

It's odd, but I expect to see Luke in his favorite the kitchen while I'm making coffee in the his basket by the fireplace...sitting under my feet as I write this blog post...hiding from me under the dining room table when he knows that I am about to leave the house...waiting not so patiently by the dinner table until we were finished night in his bed in our bedroom.

Cynthia Rylant wrote the beautiful book, Dog Heaven. As a counselor, I often read Dog Heaven to children after the loss of a beloved pet.  There is one particular drawing I love.  It depicts dogs  frolicking around in heaven while a man hides behind a tree, watching with a smile on his face.  The children always exclaimed that the man was God and He was looking out for their pet.  It is my favorite page of the book.  I imagine when Luke arrived in heaven, he trotted right over and informed God what his duties were going to be in heaven.  Our sweet boy was bossy!
We are thankful for the short time we had with Luke.  He brought so much joy to our lives and is greatly missed.  I once read that some things just fill your heart without trying.  Our little Luke Bailey did just that...
Dedicated to the wonderful memory of Luke Bailey

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Back In the Saddle Again!

Let me start by saying that I am back! I wish I could say that I went on some exotic vacation to conquer my latest mountain climbing quest or better yet, I was on a long term mission work in a foreign country. Maybe a long, post retirement European vacation.  You know the type you read about in novels?! Those always sound so nice...and expensive.
The truth is I was here all along. Do you ever get in a blogging slump? Or feel that no one really wants to read you blog anyway? Or have those late night pondering sessions about your next blog topic to the point that you don't get a good night's rest? I did all of those and more! There was no other reason other than motivation.  There, I said it!  I was LAZY.  Hello, my name is Lynda and I was LAZY!  But no more...I'm saddled up and ready to visit with all of you again! See you real soon pardner!
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

Friday, March 3, 2017

Homemade Decoupage Easter Eggs!

Are you ready for spring?  In my little area of the world, the azaleas are in full bloom and now a cold front has come through. That's nature for you! It is still a beautiful time of the year on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  I am spending part of the morning decorating for Easter.  My Mardi Gras decorations are down and now its time for the beautiful colors of Easter.  I wanted to share with you my decoupage Easter eggs.  If you are looking for sweet, homemade Easter gifts, these would be perfect.   They also make a terrific gift from your little ones to their grandparents.  Before we start, let me show you a vintage Easter egg from Germany.  Believe it or not, the vintage ones are not that expensive.

Now for our project!  Since they are already having Easter sales, head on down to your local craft store and buy all the paper mache eggs available, select some pretty scrapbook paper, a sponge brush, and a jar of Mod Podge.  If the Peeps are on sale, grab a pack of those.  A little sugar inspiration can do one wonders.  Now let's get crafting!

Supplies Needed:
Paper Mache eggs
Scrapbook Paper
Sponge Brush
Bottle of  Mod Podge Gloss-Lustre  (decoupage in a jar)
Pair of disposable gloves (optional, but I learned the hard way)
Wax Paper
Peeps or my favorite, Reece's peanut butter eggs (for snacking only)
As you can see, I didn't have a sponge brush and it was too late to go get one.  However, I can say from experience that the sponge brush is faster to work with. For my first egg, I began cutting strips about 1/2 inch in width.  After laying everything out on wax paper, I applied Mod Podge with a brush to the back of the paper strip as well as on  the egg.
Next, position the paper strip and then repeat the steps until the entire egg is covered.   Use your fingers to press the paper onto the egg, sealing edges with the pressure of your fingertips.  This process moves along very quickly. I didn't get a picture of this, but I am sure you get the idea. 

Continue in this fashion until all your eggs are done or until you run out of Easter candy!  Lastly, apply a couple of layers of Mod Podge to the entire egg and let it dry thoroughly.  Now they are ready to add a cheerful bit of color to your home for Easter!

I didn't like my first egg with the long strips, so decided to cut the paper into tiny squares.  I have voted the this one "Best Egg"!
Or maybe this should be the "Best Egg"?  Oops, I see a spot I missed.  Do you see it? Good thing about this project is that you can go back and fix it!
I can't decide!  Is this the "Best Egg"?  For this one, I randomly cut flowers from the paper and positioned them on the egg.
I also did a green and yellow polka dot which you will see in the bowl below.  I cut the yellow pieces too large, so there are wrinkles on the egg.  Make sure that you cut the pieces so that they lay smoothly on the surface.  I still have 18 more eggs to do, but wanted to share this easy project with the ones I have completed.
I think this will be the perfect addition to the Reading Room.  By the way, this is another pair of gloves I picked up for my holiday decor.  They are soft kid leather with small pearls across the top.  What small hands she must have had!
TIP:  I didn't use gloves when I made the pumpkins (Delightful Decoupage Pumpkin Project) and found that Mod Podge, even after repeated hand washing tended to stick to my nails resulting in a  "Mod Podge Manicure", another one of my inventions! In other words, you may want to use gloves!
Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Valentine's Day Red Velvet Brownies

I love Valentine's Day and have many fond memories of the simple ways we celebrated as a family.  When the boys were little, we would always make a special Valentine's Day dessert for their daddy.  It might be homemade heart shaped sugar cookies with an edge dipped in chocolate, a heart shaped cheese cake, or my husband's favorite chocolate chip cookies. Our Valentine's Day dinners usually consisted of a heart shaped meatloaf. Yes, you heard me correctly!  No fancy restaurants for my guys.  They loved meatloaf and thought it was really special in the shape of a heart!

This year I thought I would make a batch of my red velvet brownies.  They are the perfect color for Valentine's Day and especially delicious. You have to try these!!
Let's take a look at this easy recipe:

Red Velvet Brownie Layer:
1 stick butter
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of red food coloring
1 teaspoon of vinegar
2 eggs 
3/4 cup all purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan, and set aside.

Brownie layer: In a saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

These would be a great addition to a Valentine's Day dessert bar.  Who doesn't like a little sugar on Valentine's Day? Have a wonderful week!

Blessings from Lynda at Still Woods Farmhouse

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It's Brunch Time!

This Saturday, our church will welcome our new Children's Minister to our church!  Our previous Children's Minister retired after 39 years of dedicated service to the Lord.  Isn't that something?  So now it's time for our new Children's Minister to get to know everyone.  The day will begin with a brunch with the church staff, deacons and their wives.  I decided to bring this delicious casserole.  The south is known for grits and there are many types of grits casseroles.  Southerners eat grits anytime of the day...breakfast, lunch and/or supper! Shrimp and grits are one of my favorite dishes, but a good ole plain bowl of grits with butter, salt and pepper for breakfast can't be beat. So what is in the photo below?  It's a Green Chilies Cheese Grits Casserole.  A simple, but terrific recipe. Nothing better than that!   This recipe is a twist on a cheese grits casserole.  Let's get started!
The Starting Line-Up:
3 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of quick cooking grits
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of butter
3 tablespoons of chopped green chilies
1-1/2 cups of cheese, sharp cheddar, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of milk
In a large pot, bring to a boil 3 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt.  Slowly stir in grits.  Reduce heat and continue cooking, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes as the grits thicken.  In a separate pan, saute minced garlic with 2 tablespoons of the butter until softened.  You can actually skip this step and add the raw minced garlic to the grits, but I like to saute the garlic. It seems to take away the bitter taste of raw garlic.  When the grits are cooked, remove from heat and add the garlic and the remainder of the butter.  Now add 1 cup of cheese and three tablespoons of green chilies, mixing all ingredients well.   At this point, you can do a taste test to check the flavor, adding salt or pepper as needed.  If you want to kick it up a notch or two (think Emeril Lagasse), add red pepper flakes or a little Tabasco.  

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl beat two eggs with the milk.  Add the egg and milk mixture to to the grits, mixing thoroughly.   Pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese.  It will smell wonderful!  Serve warm.
This dish serves 8.  It would also be terrific as a side dish with a meat and vegetable for dinner. Let me know if you try it and what you think.