Author Archives: lacierobertson

Blueberry Pickin’

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Blueberry Pickin’

I got the phone call I wait for every year the other day from my parents!

“The blueberries are ready to pick, honey. Come get all you want.”

Not everyone can say they have their own private blueberry patch. What started out as 4 bushes growing up has morphed into over a dozen through the years, all in various varieties and stages of production.

If you live in the South, you learn pretty quickly to take care of outside activities early–before the heat of the day. So, that’s what we did. We loaded up early to pick. The branches were so full, all I had to do was rake my hand down the clusters of dew-covered berries and they plunked in the bottom of the bucket. In no time, I had a huge “mess” of them to bring home. Of course it took a bit longer than it should have because we had to make several potty breaks, pit stops by the playhouse, and take ‘treacherous’ excursions on the Jeep through the yard–complete with an imaginary bad-guy chase– in order to keep everyone happy.

I seemed to be the only one focused on the REAL reason we were there.

That didn’t stop them from mooching a handful or two…or three…

Apparently, little fuzzy caterpillars have an affinity for blueberry bushes. Did you know that they make little Princesses squeal really loud when they come out of nowhere? I have to admit, they made me curl my toes a few times too.

There are countless recipes for blueberries–pies, buckles, muffins, icecreams, pancakes, even blueberry salsa (not really sold on that idea yet)! While they’re all delicious, none of them can beat a handful of freshly-picked blueberries on top of your morning cereal.

But there is one, my Momma’s Cobbler recipe, that fits this simple summer berry perfectly.

Want to know the secret?

There’s nothing fancy about it.

Anyone who has even a meagerly stocked pantry will have everything to make it. No special trips to the store for gourmet ingredients.

Momma’s Plain and Simple Blueberry Cobbler:

  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 c flour
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c shortening
  • 3 c berries
  • lump of butter
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 T flour/cornstarch

On stovetop, cook down the berries butter, sugar and flour/cornstarch until juices thicken slightly.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening. Add milk, stirring until dough forms. On a floured counter top, divide dough in two, and roll out to fit baking pan. (I use an 8×8 baking dish.)

Place the crust in the bottom, add the fruit, then cover with second crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Watermelon Party for my Watermelon lovin’ girl…

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While it would make perfect sense, I didn’t want a Disney Princess party for our little Princess’ 3 rd birthday. She doesn’t even know that section of the party supply store exists. If she did, I’d never hear the end of it. “I just LOVE Wapunzel, Momma! Seepin’ Boody! Air-wee-ul! I want a PWINCESS Party!”

Not that there’s anything wrong with it–she runs around the house in dress-up clothes and heels, multiple times and combinations of accessories a day, mind you–but, selfishly, I had my own plan, and if you know my Princess, you know it’s hard to change her mind when it’s made up. Instead, I opted to sneakily convince her that my plan was her plan…and it worked!

Nothing celebrates summertime like watermelon. I grew up eating it with my Daddy, perched on the armrest of his La-Z-Boy, one yummy bite at at time. That’s when my plan came together.

All it took was to show her a picture of a watermelon cake. After that, she was telling everyone she knew that we were having a Watermelon Party. It seemed like a fitting beginning-of-the-summer party idea.

I love DIY decorating and repurposing everyday things for pennies, so that certainly played a big part in the preparations! I had a hard time finding ideas on Watermelon stuff, so I had to get creative.

Here are a few of my moments of inspiration. Hope you can use them to enjoy SUMMERTIME!

Watermelon Door Decor:

I simply:

  • Spray painted a paper grocery bag red.
  • Cut it out in a Watermelon shape–front and back pieces– with pinking shears.
  • Sponge painted the green and white around the edges.
  • Sewed the two pieces together.
  • Stuffed them with plastic shopping bags that had accumulated,
  • Punched holes to hang from
  • Reinforced the holes with clear tape.
  • Made a hanger with wire.
  • Glued some black buttons on for seeds.
  • Tied a bow for extra flair.

Whew! Done!

Watermelon Garland:

We spent an afternoon while recuperating from Strep throat making these little guys. Paper plates are so stinkin’ cheap. I spent maybe $3 on this whole project, and I had many strands throughout the house! Now, they’re all hanging in the birthday girl’s room…a multi-functional project!

Simply:

  • Sponge paint accordingly.
  • Cut the plates in half
  • Draw on seeds with a marker.
  • Glue to a string or ribbon to hang.

LOVE IT!

Tissue Paper Flowers:

Ever since I saw this tutorial, I wanted to try it. How easy! With a $2.99 pack of tissue paper (remember your 40% Hobby Lobby coupon for even more savings), I had enough supplies to make a dozen flowers–not that I did, I just needed 5 or so. They turned out almost as pretty as the oringinal.

Hint: These are spray-painted. More versatile that way.

They’re are also in her room, above her bed now. Let’s see how long it takes for her brother to attack them with a light saber…

 

I know I had a great time getting ready to celebrate my sweet girl’s big day, and I hope that one day she’ll recall the summer afternoon she spent at her Watermelon Party.

D.I.Y. Juice Can Magnets

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Got kids?

If you’re like me, my fridge is covered with artwork, photos, permission slips and schedules. In reality, it’s probably the Information Hub of the house. I never seem to have enough magnets to go around.

I bet you have some sort of fruit juice in your fridge, too. I know I do. I grew up drinking juice frozen from concentrate, and have carried on the tradition. I know, I know, there are those who think it’s not as natural, or good for you, but it’s much cheaper, and it doesn’t fill up my trash can with big plastic bottles and, besides, the kiddos like stirring it up.

I save the metal lid of the juice can, and after a while can collect quite a stack! That’s when I got the idea to do something with them. Not only am I cheap, I’m resourceful.

There are many projects that I can’t take credit for. As my mother says, “I’m really good at recreating other peoples’ ideas, but not so original myself.” But I’m proud to say, this one’s all mine. It was Christmas-time, and I needed something I could mass-produce for gifts. You can’t go wrong with incorporating your kids’ pictures into a project.

Grandparents eat that stuff up.

Come to think of it, it’s a great Mother’s Day gift for Grandma, or for Teachers as Appreciation Week nears!

Supplies:

  • Spray paint
  • Hot glue gun
  • Magnets
  • Juice can lids
  • Photos
  • Scissors

How To:

  1. Wash and dry the lids thoroughly. (Any residual juice will make for a poor paint finish)
  2. Spray paint the lids your desired color, preferably outside. Allow to dry. I used several coats to ensure good coverage.
  3. Trace a circle on your photo, then cut it out with scissors. I used a small yogurt cup for my stencil. Decorative scissors add a nice touch too.
  4. Using hot glue, adhear the picture to the front, and the magnet to the back. Voila!

You don’t have to stop at photos, I’m going to make some with fabric flowers, buttons, ect glued to the the top! What about chalkboard paint too? Uh-oh. I’m getting inspired as I type. Dangerous…

While this isn’t an overly kid-friendly project (kids+spraypaint and hotglue=disaster), you could sit them down at the table with you to draw some new artwork to display with your new magnets!

I know it’s not rocket-science, but it’s the little touches that make a difference, I think.

Hope you have fun. Thanks for reading.

Lacie

Blackberries, Honeysuckle and Mayberry

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A must-have: RUBBER BOOTS!

Today was the day!  The day we wait for every Spring.  I’d spotted  the tell-tale white flowers weeks ago.  Once the kitchen was clean from lunch, equipped with rubber boots, a few buckets and a thick layer of bug spray, we set out on our quest for…blackberries.  That tiny fruit is the jewel of Springtime.  Those who find them usually have trekked through the woods, jumped a few creeks, slapped themselves silly keeping the mosquitoes at bay, and if that isn’t enough, the plant itself tries to kill you with vicious thorns!  And why are the biggest berries in the “snakiest” places, anyway?

I remember picking berries as a kid at my grandparent’s farm.   I was terrible at it–I ate everything I picked.  I desperately wanted to fill my milk jug full,  but the tempation for those sweet treats–still warm from the sun–was too great for a kid like me. Daddy would eat them by the  bowl-ful, with milk and sugar sprinkled on the top.   Mamaw wasted no time mixing up a pie as soon as we came in with our pickings.  I also remember LOTSof Cool Whip.

My son has more will power than I do.  He filled his bucket half-full in no time.  He got “in the zone” and took his job seriously, seeking out only the biggest, purple-est ones in the patch.  I can’t count how many times I heard, “Momma!  Look at this one!”

Sis, on the other hand, insisted on picking the green ones for our dog.   I, deciding that this wasn’t a battle worth fighting, watched her chubby fingers painstakingly choose the sourest, most jaw-locking berries in the briars.  Of course, Tobey could care less about them, but no one argues with Princess when she’s got her mind set on something.

I stood and watched them wander through the clearing–hearing excited shouts when they hit the motherload, and smiled when I smelled the sweet scent of honeysuckle on the warm breeze.  I closed my eyes and said a quiet prayer of thanks. 

This is the life.

I pictured The Andy Griffith Show, with Opie and Andy walking along the road, fishing poles in hand, not a care in the world.  I would have loved to have lived back then.

Life was simpler.

Times were different.

I dream of that kind of life for my kids.  I don’t want them to know what this crazy world is all about.  I know that’s impossible, but I’m not opposed to putting them in tower like Rapunzel.

I can’t solve all the world’s problems daydreaming in the woods, but I’d like to think that the precious hour we spent this afternoon, together, making memories was a good way to start.

Mamaw’s Dewberry Pie

This is a great recipe for when you only have a few berries.  The crumble topping is amazing.

1 1/2 c. berries

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c evaporated milk

1 1/3 c. flour

Refrigerated pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix eggs, sugar,  and milk and flour.  Pour into prepared pie shell. Sprinkle berries on top.

Topping:

4 T. cold butter

1/2 c. Sugar

1/2 c.  Flour

Cut butter, sugar and flour together until crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of pie.

Bake pie at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

*Do not over bake.

Cake Mix Cookies: Not Quite From Scratch, But Who Cares?

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Cake Mix Cookies:  Not Quite From Scratch, But Who Cares?

Whew! For the moment, my house is germ-free. After several days of self-imposed quarantine, we celebrated our return to normalcy with a kitchen adventure.

I love cake mix recipes.

They’re quick. They’re easy. They’re yummy.

A trifecta of busy-mommy-deliciousness.

Here’s my favorite–a twist on the good ol’ Oatmeal cookie.

So, grab your ingredients, a couple of mess-making assistants, and while you’re at it, put some coffee on–you’ll want some as you enjoy some hot-from-the oven-cookies in a little while!

This recipe card speaks for itself. It makes me laugh. I make these ALOT, if you can’t tell.

A few tips that the recipe card doesn’t give:

  • Roll the dough into 1 inch balls before placing them on a cookie sheet.
  • Flatten the balls with a fork–like you would traditionally do for Oatmeal or Peanut Butter Cookies.
  • These cookies won’t brown. They don’t look done, but they are. Take ’em out!
  • I’ve recently discovered how adding a drizzle of white chocolate adds a flair for gift giving, and an extra “wow” factor for the tastebuds!
Enjoy!

Repurposed Yogurt Cups: 10 other handy uses

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I love yogurt. I eat it almost daily. It’s good for me and it tastes good. If I pretend really hard, I can imagine it’s icecream. ( I said REALLY hard) In fact, the only bad thing about it that I can come up with is all the plastic cups that are left when I’m done scraping the bottom with my spoon.

I resisted the urge to throw the growing stack of yogurt cups away, opting instead to put them to use.

Now, I’m not a recycling finatic, but I am conscious of enviromental issues. I’m forever finding new uses for things. I guess I come by it honestly–I never knew if the butter tub I pulled out of my Mamaw’s fridge actually contained butter, or last night’s chicken-n-dumplin’s, until I peeked under the lid. I’m not ashamed to admit, I haven’t bought Tupperware in years. My drawer is full of Cool-Whip containers, Country Crock tubs, and sour cream cups–for the small stuff.

My husband shook his head at the stack of at least 20 cups that have been multiplying, kindly pointing out that it was overkill. Thankfully, our town has just opened a great recycling drop-off at the fire station. So, I’ll be adding a few of the well-loved yogurt cups to my stack of things to bring by this week. My cabinet space will appreciate it, and my kids will get to see yet another way we “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!”

Hope you can add a few of these ideas to your daily routine!

  1. Painting Accessory: Memories of my childhood include watercoloring at the kitchen table with a “Dannon Fruit on the Bottom” cup full of water to rinse our brushes. Now-a-days, I use them for the same thing, with the addition of several colors of fingerpaints and lots and LOTS of newspaper underneath.
  2. Sorting Practice: Something my son has learned at Pre-K is to sort and separate objects based on their similarities and differences. It can be objects of the same color, objects that start with the same letter, certain shaped objects or textures, ect. Something concrete, that they can touch and organize goes a long way in wrapping their little minds around a concept. Set a few cups out and let them sort away!
  3. Circle Stencils: OH, the fun we’ve had with this one! We do a LOT of painting at my house, if you haven’t noticed. You can create colorful polka-dots by simply turning the cups upside down and dunking them in paint. At Christmas, I layed paper plates with different colored paints on the driveway, rolled out a roll of butcher paper and let them stamp away! Once it dried, I had my polka-dotted wrapping paper for the holidays! We’ve done plain white or brown lunch sacks too for gift bags. Super cheap, and so much more fun!
  4. Flower Pots: Just add some potting soil, a seed or two and a couple of assistants who don’t mind getting dirty and you have a great Springtime project to watch unfold on your windowsill. Let them tend to it themselves, adding water every few days. They’ll love watching the results. I spray-painted the cups so they’d be more decorative…
  5. Stacking Toys: I wish I was saving these when my kids were smaller! This is an untested idea, as of right now, but I have a baby nephew with some chubby hands who will be ready to start grabbing and stacking things before you know it!
  6. Bathtub Fun: This one is obvious. Warning: Do not encourage this if you can not handle getting soaked yourself.
  7. Sandcastle Tools: I plan on bringing a stack of them to the lake with us in the near future to mold some pretty amazing turrets for a certain Princess’s castle…
  8. Popcicle Mold: Good ol’ Koolaid or yogurt with a popcicle stick taped in place. That’s what Summertime is all about.
  9. Cookie Cutter: I’ve used this for biscuits, cookies, playdough, ect. Easy for the kids to handle, and yet another way to keep the cups out of the trash.
  10. To-go Snacks: This is probably the biggest use for these little freebies. Perfect for dried cereal, grapes, crackers, raisins, cheese cubes, snack mixes, even chicken fries on occasion. Cup-holder friendly, and easy to grab-and-go off the counter.

If you have more ideas on how to repurpose this handy-dandy little do-dad, leave a comment and share!

Thanks for reading,

Lacie

It’s more than just a table…

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I got a phone call from my mom the other day.  She’d found an antique table and chairs at an estate sale, for a steal, that had my breakfast room written all over it.

By the end of the afternoon, it was mine.  By the next day, it was in pieces in my dining room awaiting a new coat of varnish to bring it back to life.

Then came time to get my old table and chairs cleaned up and ready to give away.  You know how you never really notice how grungy and worn out your old tennis shoes are until you get a shiny new pair?  That’s what I thought about my old table.  It’d been through a lot since we pulled it out of the JC Penny’s box almost 9 years ago.  It’s nothing special.

As I started to wipe it down, I realized that it’s more than just a table.      

I flashed back to a little boy, just learning to eat with utensils, pounding his fork on the table, leaving the very indentations I was scrubbing away at.  I stopped to smile–if only he would use his utensils so enthusiastically these days.  It’s like pulling teeth to get him to, “Use your FORK!”

The next challenge was paint.  I know painting projects are messy undertakings, and with two very exuberant assistants, you can imagine the colorful splatters and flecks that decorated the table top, despite the use of drop cloths.  As speckled as the table was, the painters were usually even more-so.  And my little Miss-I-love-to-use-finger-paint-until-I-realize-my-hands-are-dirty will be the first to wipe those sweet digits on any surface in efforts to clean them off.  As of late, I’ve gotten wiser, and have resorted to painting outside for that very reason.

Then came the chairs.  They were filthy!  I scoured the carved detailing until I thought I’d scrape the varnish off–then realized what I was trying to remove was probably petrified baby food.  Holy cow.  It’s been a couple years since a toothless, chubby-cheeked cutie had thrown apple sauce across the room, or reached out with grimy-Gerber hands to grab a chunk of banana off a plate. Ugh…mashed bananas were so sticky!

I hope the next owner will be able to overlook the imperfections in my well-loved table.  We gather around it every night, abuse it every day with piles of books, bags, playdough, Hot Wheels cars, and, even hide underneath it from time to time.  Yes.  It’s been a great table, and the flaws just add to its’ character.  ( I know, that’s something my Momma would say…)

I flashed back to Saturday as we excitedly loaded my new table and chairs into the trailer to bring home.  I noticed the previous owner glancing at the big, empty space it left in the kitchen.  I know now what she was probably thinking.

It’s more than just a table.