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My dream of being a gardener is happening slowly, but at the steady pace of a novice.  I really have not much of an idea what I’m doing.  My husband is becoming quite the green thumb, too, as he helps plant, water and harvest our little raised beds. We have three now, and I was so excited to receive my newest edition of Southern Living this weekend and find an article about raised bed gardening! I really want to expand each year.  There’s just something so special about growing herbs, flowers and vegetables that you get the pleasure of using in your home and cooking!

One plant that was producing quite well last week was our Banana pepper plant.  I like them pickled, but I wondered how I could use them fresh.  Wellllll, I found a special appetizer that was A.Maz.Ing!

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These sweet peppers got filled with a little cream cheese mixture that had sweet red pepper, red onion, Cheddar Cheese, diced cherry tomatoes and a little salt and pepper.  I kept it mild.  There are some recipes that call for hot peppers, but we aren’t crazy about those spicy varieties.  So for our tastes, we kept it on the sweet and savory side, and it was wonderful!  I forgot to mention that the pepper gets wrapped in a little blanket of bacon before it’s popped under the broiler for a few minutes!  If you need a killer appetizer for a summer party, this is it!  Here’s the recipe and a little tip as to how I put mine together.

Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Banana Peppers

  • 6 large banana peppers
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes – I used cherry tomatoes for sweetness!
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ½ small sweet red bell pepper, diced
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 thick cut bacon slices, cut in half – I found that 1/2 slice of bacon was plenty for each pepper,but if you want to go crazy with the bacon, use a slice for each pepper.
Directions:
  1. Cut tops off banana peppers. Remove seeds.
  2. Combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, tomato, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Fill a small plastic bag with the cheese mixture.  Cut a hole, about 1/2 inch in one corner.  Squeeze the cheese mixture into the peppers. (See picture below)
  4. Wrap with bacon slice. Secure with a toothpick. Place on a rack with broiler pan. Broil for 4-5 minutes per side until golden and oozing.

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If you have access to banana peppers, you need to try these appetizers.  They’re so good you might want to make them the main course!

Who else is gardening this summer?  What are you growing?

With love from my country kitchen,

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Finishing Touches in My Home Decor

One project usually always leads to another, and then another, but the end result is so great it’s really worth the effort and the hard work!  After I finished the painting in my dining and living rooms, I wanted to make the color scheme more blue and white.  I set out to change the mantle’s decor, as well as the coffee table and my bookcase.

Then I looked at my kitchen table and my desk chair and knew they needed white slipcovers.  I looked at the fabric store, but didn’t find anything I like.  However, I was digging through looking at the clearance items at TJ Maxx when I found one beautiful white curtain panel, marked to $8.

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There was about three yards of fabric in the curtain, and I knew it would be the perfect fabric for my  slipcovers!

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Making a kitchen chair slipcover is super easy – you just hem the fabric, then sew up the three sides.

My desk chair was an easy fix, too.

I used a piece of newspaper to lay over the chair and draw out the pattern I would need for the seat and the back.  Then I added a seam allowance. I used the curtain hook holes already in the curtain to fasten the seat back together

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To make the seat cushion snug, I sewed a piece of elastic around the edge.

Some other changes in the living space will come in time.  I need a couple new chairs, but I’ll wait until the time and the price is just right!  I have purchased a new floor lamp from Kirkland’s but it’s being shipped to the store.  I’ve been looking a long time, and when I found this one on-line, I knew it was what I had been waiting for – and it was on sale with an extra 15% off!

So there you have it, my friends.  My downstairs make-over is nearly complete!  Well, until I get the urge to rearrange the furniture…again!

Thanks for stopping in to take a look.  I hope this has inspired you to refresh your home, even in some small way.  I think you’ve seen through my efforts, that it doesn’t have to break the bank to give your home an updated look!

Refresh your home, but also refresh your heart by participating in a Bible believing church this weekend!  I’ll see you Monday!

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Painting an Open Floor Plan

When we moved into our house four years ago, I was so thankful the walls weren’t painted white.  They’re a warm ecru.  It stands out nicely and every room looks great against the backdrop of that color.  I knew I’d want to wait a while before adding color, but this summer the day had arrived!  Yesterday I showed you the first room I painted – the dining room.  I painted all four walls, and really love it!

Yesterday I asked what room/wall you thought I painted next well…
In order to connect the dining room space to the living room, which is all open, I wanted to use color.  After the dining room paint was on the wall, I got to thinking about a gallon of paint I’d seen at Lowe’s on their mis-tinted rack.  It was marked to $9 and I was pretty sure it was a just a shade darker than what I’d put on these freshly painted walls and I felt sure it would look great on the fireplace wall of the living room.

I jumped in the car early the next morning and sure enough, that paint was the perfect shade to complement the color in the adjoining room.  And $9?!  What a great deal!  I always, always check the sale rack of mis-tinted paint before I pay full price for a gallon!  What someone else hated might be exactly what I need!

So, here’s what it looked like before it got painted:

Not bad, but…

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I like this even better!! I decided to only paint the fireplace wall.  I didn’t want to overpower the room with blue.  It was the perfect amount of color.

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Then aside from the paint, I also rearranged the room to open it up for summer.  In the winter months I enjoy having the couch facing the fireplace, but as I mentioned in a post here, I like to face the windows in the warmer months.  It also made the room look bigger.  Here’s the before and after:

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I angled my desk in the corner, again, so I can look outside while I’m working there.

I’m trying to add more whites and weed out the red in these rooms.  I’ve had red as an accent for many years, but it’s time for a change, which I’ll do gradually.

 

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The blue really freshened up the living room and made it feel calm and welcoming.  I’m so happy with this color choice and the room arrangement.

And what did it cost?  NINE DOLLARS!  Woo Hoo!

Do you have a room you’re wanting to paint?  Check out the discounted paints first and see if they have something that will work!  Does anyone else love to rearrange the furniture?

Refresh your living space!

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If you want to give your home or room an update, but don’t want to spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars to do it, I would strongly encourage you to consider PAINT!  For around $30 (or less!) you can change the way a room feels just by changing its color!

I love going to a paint store or the paint department at Lowe’s and choosing colors that jump out to me.  I usually have a general idea what shade I’d like to use, so I head for that color and then I bring home several strips of color to hold up to the wall, against the curtains or even accessories to see if I think it will work.

Lowe’s will match any color you need.  I took a paint strip from another store, and it was paint they don’t sell.  I showed them the shade I liked, and they matched it perfectly!

Another great tool is the Sherwin Williams virtual painting app.  You can “paint the room,” via your computer mouse and your uploaded picture of the room to get a really good idea of what the finished room will look like!  I enjoyed using that when I was ready to buy paint colors!  It takes the terror out of adding color to your walls!  But I always remind myself – It’s just paint!  If I don’t like it, I can always paint over it!!

The first room I decided to paint was my dining area.  I wanted it to feel like a room to itself, though it’s an open floor plan.  So, I painted all four walls a “Heavenly blue.”  I love the result.  It’s just enough color to make a difference, but it’s soft enough that it keeps the space calm, inviting, and kind of special looking.  Let me show you the before and after shots:

Dining Room collage

I was really pleased with the way it dressed the room up and unified all the blue accents I already had in there.

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The color of the room changes throughout the day, depending on the light.  Here’s another picture, taken in the evening.

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This wasn’t the only space I painted!  I was on a roll! Tomorrow I’ll show you the other room that got some color. Any ideas as to where the other paint got applied?  I’ll give you this hint – It helps to unite the whole space, though I didn’t use the same shade.

If you’re thinking of updating your house,  get a bucket of paint and do it!  It can make a huge difference for a little bit of money!

Refresh with paint,

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Home Project – Wall Decor, Creating Balance

I guess it’s pretty common for homeowners to make improvements in their homes in spring and summer.  The weather is perfect for it, and we have lots of daylight in which to work.  As I mentioned last Friday, like many others, I’ve done several projects in my home, and this week I thought I’d share one with you each day.  We’ll start with a simple one – a wall hanging.

This spring I showed you a little arrangement that I was working on in my living room.  I used a very inexpensive frame found at Goodwill, and changed it to make a whole new look.  You can find that post here.  When I posted it, it wasn’t quite complete, and I promised that when I finished it I would show you what I had done.  So today I’m going to give you a peek at the completion of that project.

Here was the unfinished grouping I hung next to the fireplace –

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Because of what was on the other side of the fireplace wall, I needed another something to balance it out, but I didn’t know what!  Then I came across this wreath tucked away and knew it was perfect!

 

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It gave just the right amount to balance out the large picture on the opposite wall, plus it added a little softness to the harsh lines of the wooden frame and Scripture verse.

I must have tried a half a dozen different items before I landed on that wreath, but when I held it up there, I knew immediately that I liked it!  Sometimes you just have to keep trying different items – pictures, mirrors, shelves, clock or wreath before you find what is perfect for a space.  But you’ll know it when you find it!

Tomorrow I’ll show you the whole wall, and another bigger project that was recently completed!

Do you have a project you’re working on at home, or is there one you need to tackle?  Why not put it on your list and whittle away at it before summer is over?

Refresh your space,

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Summertime Pasta Salad

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I tried a new recipe this week that I loved for several reasons:

  1. I love a cold pasta salad in the summertime.
  2. I served it alongside a BLT and it was a great side dish.
  3. This would also be a great main dish by adding grilled chicken strips, or even shrimp or crab meat!
  4. It’s also a great do-ahead dish.  I made it the night before and it was so great to have it all ready to pull out and add to a simple summer meal like BLT’s!

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Tortellini Caesar Pasta Salad

This recipe was found in a Community Table magazine.  

INGREDIENTS

2 (9-oz) packages cheese tortellini

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

3 ears corn – I used frozen corn kernels – You could use any fresh vegetable – cucumbers, zucchini or squash would all be delicious in this!

1 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

2 carrots, thinly

4 tomatoes, diced

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and cool.

Steam broccoli until tender, about 6 minutes; cool.

Cook corn in boiling water, 5 minutes; cool, then slice kernels off cob. I simply ran the frozen kernels under cold water and added it to the salad.

Toss tortellini, broccoli, and corn with dressing, lemon juice, carrots, tomatoes; salt to taste.

If you love pasta, you’ll love this recipe!  I hope you’ll add it to your menu, either as a side or a main dish, and do it this summer!!

With love from my country kitchen,

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Creating A Cozy Summer Home

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Home is described as the sweetest place on earth, the place we hang our hats and our hearts, and the place that is like no other.  As a Christian homemaker, it’s my desire that my home would radiate the love of Christ; that others would feel His presence when they enter our doors.   Would that not be the ultimate of being an inviting home?  That happens when the people that live here know the Lord and fellowship daily with Him. We, the dwellers of this place, must be filled with His Spirit so that others can know His love, His peace and His joy.  We can open our doors and use our home to share that kind of love – what a privilege!

There are also ways that we can make our homes inviting, cozy, warm, restful and peaceful right now in these summer months.  We often only think of cozy-ing up our home during the cool months when the hearth is lit and the aroma of comfort foods are wafting in the air.  But summertime offers lots of ways to make our residence a cozy and inviting place.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Open the doors, curtains and shades to let the light in!  While there is beautiful sunshine outside, invite it inside!  Pull up the shades in the morning and leave them up.  The warmth of the sunshine will brighten every corner all day long.
  2. Rearrange the furniture so you can make the most of the sunlight and outdoor views.  I have a small table in my bedroom that I put near the fireplace in the winter.  When summer rolls around, I bring it close to the window so I can sit there and sip my morning coffee and have my Bible reading beside the view of the backyard.  I can see the sun hitting the hillside, watch the birds, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors early in the day.
    I also recently turned the couch to face the living room windows for the same reason.  Think about how you might be able to enjoy the outside view from inside and arrange your furniture accordingly.
  3. Make livable space on your porch, deck  or backyard.  Patio lights, fire pit, candles, outdoor rugs, chairs, table and umbrella can create a whole other room for your family to enjoy while it’s warm.  There’s nothing like sitting outside after dark and star gazing while a fire is burning.  (Oh, and right now is a great time to buy outdoor furniture and accessories!  There are some great sales are going on!!)
    back porchIf you entertain outside, you don’t have to make sure the house is dusted!  Who doesn’t love to sit out at a fire pit, talk in hushed tones and roast marshmallows?!
  4. Burn floral or fruit fragrance candles. Beautiful scents are important when you walk inside, and so are the soft lights of flickering candles.  Put one on your entryway table to burn when your family is planned to come home, or when guests are arriving.
  5. Keep the entryway spotless.  Step outside your front door and LOOK at it.  Most people drive in the garage and never see what guests see at their front door.  Make sure the rug is fresh, the porch is swept, and the glass door is free from dirt and fingerprints.  Put a perky, colorful plant near the front entryway.  Hang a fresh wreath on the door.  Get a new garden flag (again, you might find these on sale right now!).
    The inside entry should be welcoming, too.  A soft light, good fragrance and a pretty, eye-catching flower arrangement, wall-hanging or picture that draws people in are good elements in the foyer.  I love Yankee Candle Plug-ins.  They last a LONG time and smell so good when you walk in the front door.
  6. Lighten up the linens.  Use light colors on the beds and table, if you can.  Remove any heavy throws from couches, chairs or beds, replacing with lightweight quilts in lighter colors.  I keep a white quilt on my outdoor swing for the cool nights when we’re outside.  It doesn’t look like a wool blanket would, but is inviting and comforting without being too hot.
  7. This is a good time of year to freshen the house with paint.  Add a light color that will be calming.  Paint the room you use the most.  Get a friend to help and the work will be done in half the time, and you’ll have a ton of fun while doing it!Image result for calm paint colors

Cozy up your home for summertime and then invite some people over to enjoy it with you!  The warm months won’t last forever, so enjoy these elements of coziness at home before it’s time to light the fireplace inside!

Next week I’m going to be showing you some recent updates I’ve made in my home.  I hope you’ll check back and see what I’ve done!

Now tell me, what makes your summer home inviting to others?

Stay refreshed at home,

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