Lemon Crinkle Cookies


Before I found the recipe for these amazing Lemon Crinkle Cookies, I used to ask my husband what kind of cookies he wanted me to bake. He would say, “Chocolate Chip. What other kind is there?” But I got tired of chocolate chip and branched out. To THESE. Now these are the whole family’s number one choice. They are just so lightly lemon and so NOT from a cake mix. You’ve gotta try them. Your relatives will think you are really something.


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 whole egg

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Oven = 350.

Combine butter and sugar in mixer. Add vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Combine dry ingredients (excluding powdered sugar) separately and then add to sugar mixture.

Place powdered sugar in a bowl. Roll dough into quarter-sized balls and roll in powdered sugar.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until bottoms look like they might brown. Cool on trays about 3 min. before moving to cooling rack.


*Sixteen-year-old informed me yesterday that she ate so many she thinks she will turn into a lemon crinkle!

This recipe was created by Lauren at Lauren’s Latest. She is some kind of lemon genius. http://www.laurenslatest.com/lemon-crinkle-cookies/

I’m seeing Coastal Blue

I recently took on a job for a client named Sarah.  She was looking for something to go in her entry way, perhaps a chest or bench.  As most of you know I am a regular on Craigslist, so when I ran across thiss beauty I knew it would be perfect for her space.  I sent Sarah a picture and she loved it as well.

Entry way chest before

After I bought it, I met with Sarah at her home. She has a vision and I wanted to really capture that for her.  The entrance to her beautiful home is a gorgeous gray color.  We sat and talked about what she was looking to do.  Sarah mentioned that she would love to tie some navy into her color scheme.  I have worked with many blues before but never navy.  I love navy but had just never painted anything  with it.  So I consulted with the best painters I know, and they turned me onto General Finishes Coastal Blue.  Can I just say, “This color is amazing!”  I really wanted a dark, dark navy, and this is it!  As I was leaving Sarah asked me if I could do something with the table she currently had in her entry way.  It is such a cute table, and I knew we could tie it all together by painting both pieces.

Black table before

We decided to use a bright white for contrast on both pieces.  Sarah was great, though, and gave me creative license to do whatever I thought would look nice:-)  I wanted to jazz up the table and do a stencil or a stripe.

Navy table 2



navy table 3

I lightly distressed the white part of both pieces using a fine grit sandpaper.  I waxed both pieces using a clear wax.

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chest bottom chest 6

I am thinking these may look too nice in my house to send home?  Just kidding Sarah……enjoy your new entryway furniture!  Thank you for trusting me with these beauties:-)






Pasta Con Broccoli — PINK, please!

St. Louis has a strong Italian heritage and a thriving Italian neighborhood and restaurant scene. And, boy, do I miss it! I think the whole family does, because they keep asking for pasta.

In St. Louis we love our “pink” sauce– a combination of white sauce and tomato sauce. That way we don’t have to choose one or the other.

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I’ve been tweaking my Pasta Con Broccoli recipe for years and finally have an easy one that makes a ton and satisfies my family’s craving for pasta. It also reheats beautifully. Here you go!

1 lb box of uncooked large shell pasta

2 cups cream (heavy or whatever you find in the store)

2-4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 head of broccoli, chopped

8 oz sliced fresh button mushrooms

salt and pepper

fresh grated parmesan cheese (I usually use a whole wedge or whatever I have.)

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Cook pasta until it’s about halfway done (5 or 6 minutes); drain and return it to the pot.

Add cream, butter, garlic, tomato sauce, broccoli, salt, and pepper. Bring to a hard boil.

When noodles are fully cooked and sauce is starting to thicken, add mushrooms and stir to combine.

Remove from the heat; add cheese.

Toss and serve.

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Why Take Pictures?

Why take pictures if you’re never going to look at them? Or share them with family and friends? I have always enjoyed looking at pictures and I knew that having a baby was a golden opportunity to start fresh, without shoeboxes. . .

So 17 years ago when I was pregnant with my first, I hatched a simple plan to manage the rolls of film I knew I would be having processed weekly. I found these albums at Target and bought a few at a time.

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It was a little embarrassing that they filled up so quickly, but after the newness of the babies wore off, I got down to filling about 2 per year. And it was easy to mark the dates and keep everything organized. The photo lab lady at Walgreens became a personal friend as I visited her at least twice a week!

For a long time, we had built in open shelving, and it was amazing how often we reached for an album and paged through it while guests were over or we were just hanging out in the family room. But then digital cameras came out, and, like most people, our photo printing slowed to a crawl. I ran into the photo lab lady, and she nearly cried that she missed us! So hubby came up with the new plan: every year, between Christmas and NYE, he goes through the photos that we’ve uploaded to our computer from our camera and phones and makes a file of the year’s best 100 or so. Then I upload them to a photo printing site and create a photo book for that year. Splitting the work between us makes it a less daunting job. And the kids like to add backgrounds and doodads to the layouts once I get the pictures and captions in. It’s a family project!

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It’s worked great; they are very thin and sit out on this tray in the family room to be picked up and thumbed through frequently. I love having each year of our lives at a glance. To be honest, we are a few years behind, but we sat down and did 2010 today, so I am feeling accomplished and thought I would share. Each book ends up costing between $30 and $100 depending on how many pages we include, whether we do a premium cover, and whether they have a  50% off deal going.

We have also made photo books dedicated to specific events or trips. Sometimes we have them mailed to my in-laws’ house as they are out of town and not tech-savvy,  so that they can see our pictures before we do. 🙂

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One of my best brainstorms came as I tried to inspire a young niecelet to enjoy the local art museum. I offered her my phone to take pictures of all of her favorite pieces — there were probably 200! to comb through — and then when we got home, we made a photo book online together and had it mailed to her house. She took it to school and told her teacher all about her trip — and hopefully her newfound appreciation for art. 😉


A little french country

Recently, I decided my daughters each needed their own rooms.  My two oldest had been sharing a room for the last 5 years and it just wasn’t working anymore.  That’s what happens when one is clean and organized and the other can’t help her clothes find the dresser.  I decided I wanted to paint their rooms white.  I was finished with the crazy colors that once graced their walls.  I knew I could add color in other ways and then change it up as their tastes change over the coming years.

My oldest daughter wanted teal and orange and my youngest was requesting blue and yellow.  So we started by painting all the walls white!  I wanted a clean place to start.   I was over the neon colors that had covered their walls.   I was so happy to find this cute dresser on craigslist for my oldest daughter.  I bought it for 20 dollars!  I couldn’t believe it.  The woman had already stripped and sanded this piece.  So I got to work on it right away. Here is a little before and after of this makeover.

Dresser before
grace dresser
Dresser after


Cool book clock from Aunt Kim….

Fun clock hidden among the books

Next I had a bookshelf in my basement that had been given to me as well as this antique dresser that I had purchased off of craigslist, well over a year ago.  I decided to do my middle daughters room with a French Country flair.  So I got out my Yellow Rose Milk Paint from The Real Milk Paint Co. and started to paint.  When the piece was covered completely I just thought it needed a little depth so I painted the trim in a white color, giving it some dimension.  I finished the whole thing by distressing a bit and applying a dark wax glaze.  I then added a clear wax for protection (My daughter is HARD on furniture!)  I finished it off by creating a cute book banner out of twine and an old copy of Charlotte’s Web I had (one of our favorites).bookshelf top knob bottomNow the dresser in my basement that I had purchased off of Craigslist about a year ago.  I decided to paint it using the exact same method.  Here are a few pictures of it before and after.

dresser before full dresser dresser close dresser leg dresser mirror

I just love the way both of these turned out.  I feel like I am at a country cottage in France when I walk into her room….well after I pick up the dirty laundry she has strewn about.  🙂


The Old Elephant Table

We call this “The Old Elephant Table” because someone once said that it had “elephant legs.”

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A friend acquired it for us at an auction in St. Louis almost 20 years ago. My grandfather made a makeshift leaf for it; I recovered the chair seats, and we made do with it for much longer than planned. Finally my decorator friend had heard me complain about it long enough, and said, “Have you ever thought about painting it? Couldn’t do much harm if you really hate it so much.”

I didn’t HATE it; it was just so dark and heavy. But I never would have had the guts to paint it white without that kick in the pants.

I used Cece Caldwell’s Simply White clay paint  because I left the table in the dining room while painting it and wanted to make sure it was safe to breathe. (Cece’s line is eco-friendly with no VOCs.) And because I am too lazy to do any prep work (read: sanding). There was some marring on the table top, and I just wanted quick and easy coverage. Cece’s worked great for that (two coats).

Fortunately my sister came to town during the mess and jumped right in. She is brave with the dark wax and brought some Annie Sloan Dark Wax to show me how to use it. We worked it into the detailed areas, esp. on the legs and the little braided trim with a toothbrush and then rubbed it back off with a cloth. It really emphasized the interesting details. LOVE!

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We finished the table with a coat of the Cece Waxing Cream applied with a cloth and buffed it out a few times. My sister can go to town with the buffing cloth. I guess that’s why she has muscular arms and I don’t!  Next, she couldn’t wait to get her paintbrush on the chairs. We slapped on the Simply White, distressed some edges with sandpaper, and waxed and buffed. Kristin thought it needed a little something. She knows I love the fleur-de-lis, so she stenciled one onto the back in silver and gold craft paint and even went around it with a toothpick to make a little dotted border. She’s goooood.

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Then it was on to painting 5 more chairs! Not fun. I quit halfway through and hubby finished the job out of desperation to get his dining room back. Ah well, all’s well that ends well!

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P.S. Did you guess that only one chair is reupholstered thus far? Tee hee. . .a little ongoing project for me. . .might add another coat of wax to the tabletop, too!



Red Barn Milk Paint Table

I recently acquired this table and sent my sister a picture.


I asked her what color I should paint it and she sent me this picture back as inspiration.


Sister has crazy good taste.  I will have her post some pictures of her house soon:-)  I chose to use Milk Paint from the Real Milk Paint Co.  I love their paint because when used without the bonding agent you get this naturally “chippy” look.  Because these types of towels are antique towels from the 1930’s I knew I wanted the table to have a vintage feel.  I cleaned the table first and then applied a coat of Parchment Milk Paint to the top.  The wood was bleeding through after the first coat so I applied a second coat.

I didn’t really like the table and sent Kim a picture.  She agreed and said the whole table had to be painted.  So, I went ahead and put two coats of Parchment on the rest of the piece.  After the paint had dried I taped the piece off and decided to do red stripes on both sides of the table.  I used The Real Milk Paint Co.’s Red Barn.  I applied two coats of the red as well.  Once the paint had dried I carefully pulled the tape off.  The paint began to chip upon drying and I love how it nearly took the stripe off on one side.  It’s like this paint has a mind of its own and knows what will look best.  I LOVE smart paint!  Once all the paint had dried I applied a dark wax glaze to the whole piece giving it an even older feel.  Finally I applied a clear wax protective coat to the whole table.  I just love the way it turned out.

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It is pretty and looks so sweet I don’t want to sell it but my house is turning into a furniture store.  If you know anyone in search of an adorable end table, let me know!



Farm house shabby chic headboard

My sweet sister always brings me something special when she comes to visit me in St. Louis.  The last time she made the trip, she unloaded this beautiful head-board.  I just love it. and was inspired to paint it red based on the gorgeous red barns I see on the drive to visit her in Arkansas.  There is nothing more beautiful than an old barn nestled in rolling hills of green backed by the most amazing blue sky you will ever see.  I always look so forward to driving down to visit and checking out all the great antique stores in the area.  Sister takes me to the best places to shop!  I knew this little gem would look fabulous with a coat or two or Barn Red Milk Paint from The Real Milk Paint Co.

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I applied two coats of this beautiful red paint that is naturally “chippy”.  I did not add any sealer as I wanted the paint to chip in certain areas.  After I let it dry over night, I sanded the edges allowing some of the original yellow color to peek through.  I applied Annie Sloan Dark Wax to finish the piece.

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I only wish I were hanging with my sister right now.  It pains me to sell this headboard because I just love it so much.  Sure wish it would go in one of my kids rooms.  I can’t wait to get my hands on my next headboard now.  I will be spending the day searching for another great headboard to paint…..unless of course my sister would like to bring me another one?



Maison Blanche French Blue

I was asked to try out a new paint for a local shop here in St. Charles MO.  To read more about how these two pieces were transformed, follow this link to my guest blog!


French country

french headboard

Got Kids? Got Stuff!

Children’s artwork and school work must reproduce in our homes. What to do with it? How to store it? 

Of course we all sneak some of it into the trash (recycling bin!) when they aren’t looking, but some pieces are too precious to give up.

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Yesterday  I went through my girls’ school bins and heartlessly pared down to where I meant to be all along. I was able to reduce their 2 large bins each to 1 each. It feels great! Remember when your mom made you take the stuff she saved for you? Or is she so nice that she’s still storing it? I don’t like clutter, and I will be chasing my girls down the driveway with their 3 see-thru bins — “Baby Stuff, School Years, and Keepsakes.” Then it’s up to them to get rid of it, but I bet they each have a sentimental gene and will go through it and laugh and cry like I do.  Anyway, I guarantee that no adult child wants MORE than the three bins. They won’t have anywhere to put it once they start accumulating their own kids’s stuff! In fact, I will be paring down the “Keepsakes” bins next but will probably have to enlist the girls’ help on the decision making.

The Process

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As the children bring home awards and A+ work, I stick it in a large, okay GIANT, ziplock bag marked for that school year. At the end of the year, the bag goes into the clear bin. Voila! Organized by grade! I tell people that I only save the 2 or 3 best things from each school year. Ha! Pulled out the bags yesterday, and each one weighed at least 10 lbs! So I pulled up the recycling bin and pitched anything that wasn’t important. Saved report cards, awards, Mothers’ Day poems, self-portraits, and photos. It’s funny that I was sure I had done this all along. Oh well, better late than never. Finally following my own rules.

How do you tame the paper monster?