Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our Favorite Candle

Just pretend that we are hugely popular and influential like Oprah. Pretend that if we like a certain product, everyone will immediately flock to the website or become a fan of said product on Facebook. Thanks...

Both of us Bs are enamored with one specific candle company, and the best part is the products are 100% Mom-Made! Christina the Candle Girl (I call her that...I really doubt she calls herself that) started At Home Scentsations in 2006 to make a little extra money as a stay at home mom. She relies on word of mouth for marketing...and obviously it works because Christina lives in Michigan, for cryin' out loud. Luckily, she is willing to ship anywhere in the US (maybe even Canada, Christie, we'll have to ask her!).

Now let's talk about these candles. They come in a few different sizes, and eleventy thousand different scents. The scents, to me, are what set these candles apart from store bought candles. It seems like most of the time candles are either too weak, too strong, too perfume-y, or too fake smelling. And for some reason, I usually have some sort of wick malfunction, rendering the last half of my store bought candle useless. It's just a mess...and store bought candles are too expensive for all the havoc they tend to wreak in my house. This is not the case with Christina's soy candles. They burn beautifully, and they last a really long time. I have bought a lot of Christina's scents, and let me tell you they are the truest scents I have ever come across. The gardenia candle is just like having a bloom in a vase. The white tea and ginger is to die for! You'll have to try them for yourself. The best part? The candles are always "Buy 5, Get 1 Free"! And since Christina is so groovy, she has offered an additional 10% off if you mention this blog post in your order. Stock up...I always do with the intention of having a few handy for a last minute hostess gift or something. I usually end up selfishly keeping them all for myself. They're that good. Oh! And I forgot to mention that candles are just the tip of the iceberg...look around her site at the reed diffusers and bath/body products. Seriously, you'll never spend $24.50 for that 6 oz fancy candle from the high end kitchen store again (sorry, Williams Sonoma...I still love you).

Contact Christina at And bookmark the'll need to refer back to it often! Oh, and become a fan on Facebook. Christina runs fanTAStic specials that you won't want to miss out on!

I really hope the mail lady brings my newest shipment today! Happiness is a box from Michigan, full of candles.

Stir It Up!

The time has come. Time to share the recipe. THE recipe. This is my momma's macaroni and cheese. It's a little time consuming, but it's totally worth it. Everyone is different when it comes to mac and cheese. Some people like it goopy and shiny (think out of the little box), some people like it firmer and egg-y. This recipe, to me, is just perfect. It's firm (but not eggy), and still slightly goopy. You have to have a little patience me, it's worth it. The recipe listed here makes a normal sized casserole dish. It feeds the 3 of us with leftovers. You want the leftovers. If you are feeding more than 4 people, then you might want to double it. That's where the stirring part gets tricky. I'll discuss later...let's make it.


3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups macaroni, cooked
2 cups milk
A heap o' cheese (the more the better...since I'm not stirring the white sauce for fun, I do 3 cups of shredded cheddar)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni, drain, and set aside. In a large saucepan, combine butter and flour over medium heat to make a roux. Turn the heat down one notch and add the milk. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens and starts to slowly bubble. This bubbling is really subtle so after about 15 or 20 minutes of stirring, stop stirring just to look for the thick milky bubbles popping up through the surface. (Note: When you double this recipe, be prepared to stir for 30-40 minutes at least. Go ahead and bring the laptop into the kitchen and catch up on Facebook and emails while you absentmindedly stir). Ok, at this point add salt and pepper to taste. I don't add a whole lot. Next add in your shredded cheese. Stir it for a few seconds until the cheese it melted. Add the cooked noodles into the pot and stir to coat the noodles in the cheese sauce.

Transfer the mixture into a casserole dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned and bubbly.

It rocks. Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm so ready for Spring! Like Julie, I can't wait for bright, sunny colors to surround me. I'm adding my 2 cents for what I'm loving this season. This pillow from Urban Outfitters puts a smile on my face. It's so retro and fun!
Since my current color obsession is Robins egg blue and chartreuse, this is my vintage dress.

It even has pockets. Is there anything more perfect than a dress with pockets!?

Here's more adorableness. This time its for the kitchen. These dishtowels are so cheery. It almost makes doing the dishes a little more enjoyable (almost).
I honestly can't stand how cute this butter dish is from Anthropologie!

More to come.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring? Is that you?!

Those of us in the deep south were lucky enough to have a beautiful weekend, full of sunshine, chirping birds and 70 degree temps. The beastly children could be loud and creature-ish outdoors, the sidewalks got their very first hopscotch games drawn on them, and I got to sit in the grass with sunglasses and a beverage for the first time this year. I even got Homey to start pulling weeds.

It was definitely a reminder that Spring is just a few weeks away! And even though it might not be sunny and bright wherever you are quite yet, it won't be long. And you can go ahead and start waking up your home and your being in preparation for all the happiness Spring brings with her.

I won't even get into Spring Cleaning yet. It's totally my favorite thing ever. I'm positive I'll have more to say on that subject (I can smell the vinegar now!). For now I just want to get inspired.

Oh my mercy. If this doesn't shout spring, I don't know what does.
And it happens to be my favorite color combination--tangerine and celadon!
(That sounds much more lovely than "orange and green")There is nothing about this room that I don't like! (Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens)

Continuing along the same theme (Also from BHG):

I'm not sure what those panels are, but image finding a few table runners that you love
and attaching some wood and ribbon for could totally pull of
this look! (Note to self: Paint something similar!) I just love it. What an interesting
way to take up a large expanse of wall for a small amount of money.

Moving on. This makes me want to have people over for a delightfully
spring-ish meal.
Can't you taste the asparagus now? For some reason, I think you have to eat
asparagus at lovely gatherings in the spring...Anyhoo, notice the "vases". They're
just tin cans that have been painted in delightful colors. Genius! (Courtesy of Country Living)

This next image (also Country Living) made me gasp, then giggle:

Are you even kidding me?? Floral spheres on cake plates? I am absolutely doing this.
Heaven knows I have enough cake plates. Absolutely fabulous!

Now enough of all that...what shall we wear for feeling the sun on our arms for the
first time of the season? (Come your inner pin-up...)

Buy this one of a kind vintage find here. Then let me borrow it. Thank you for your cooperation.

More vintage and vintage-inspired clothing to come...I love vintage clothes!
They make me want to curl my hair, add a ribbon, then get a vanilla coke.
I'm just sayin'...

Stay tuned for more SPRING!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Versatile Vinegar

Hang in there, peeps...this really is exciting stuff!

Who knew? I mean, I'm sure lots of people knew, but I continue to be amazed at everything this substance can do. It seems like every time I google for a solution to something the answer is vinegar! Case in point: I was moaning and groaning with the worst heartburn ever a couple of weeks ago. I tried over the counter stuff, I tried a glass of cold milk (usually works like a charm). Via email, I complained to Tracy about how I just may die of heartburn. I'd be the first lethal case. After a quick google search, she emailed back with "Vinegar!" Why didn't I think of that...I should know by now that it really works for everything!

The first thing I used vinegar for was cleaning glass. The windows and doors around here are constantly covered with dog nose smudges and Homey prints. Even though I do actually like to clean, glass is my least favorite chore. Because of the streaks. Heavens to Betsy, I could never get all the streaks off with a bottle of blue glass cleaner. Then I tried vinegar. No streaks! I couldn't even believe it. The added bonus is that the is no chemical haze floating around in the air...just vinegar (lots of people don't love the smell of vinegar...I personally find it better than bleach, cleansers, etc. Plus the smell is gone as soon as the area is dry!)

Then I realized that I can use a spray bottle of half vinegar and half water all over the house! I replaced my handy dandy Swiffer wetjet with this spray bottle and a regular swiffer covered in a microfiber cloth. Kitchen and bathroom floors...check! (As an aside--I do not use vinegar on my hardwood floors, but I have read you can dilute 1/2 cup of vinegar into a 1/2 gallon of warm water to clean wood floors...) What else can we use it for?

Spray down the inside of your fridge!

And get this...dab it on a cold sore for 5 minutes regularly. Cuts the healing time in half!

Take a spoonful when you cannot get rid of heartburn (Warning: This hurts!! It burns! But it sure does work...).

Add vinegar to fresh flowers to make the blooms last longer.

To soften feet, soak in vinegar for 45 minutes then use a pumice stone to smooth rough spots.

There are tons of laundry uses. Laundry eludes me, so you'll just have to take my word for that.

Let's look at the financial aspect of good ol' vinegar while we're here. Below, I've listed the average retail price for some common household products:

Windex: $3.99
Swiffer wet jet solution: $5.99
Swiffer wet jet refills: $5.99
Abreva: $16.99
Pepto bismol: $4.50

Total: $37.46

One gallon of vinegar: $5.49

I just love finding ways to cut down on cleaning products. So knowing that my main cleaning product can also replace a lot of products in my medicine cabinet makes me virtually giddy! I'm not the crunchiest chick out there, but I am always looking for ways to use less household chemicals. So if you're looking for me, follow the smell of vinegar...I'll be close by!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

From Beetlejuice to Beautimous!

A very nice neighbor found this doll bunk bed at a yard sale and gave it to Homey. It's in great shape, and is the perfect size. I immediately had great plans for it (let's not focus on the fact that we got it in 2008). So "Beetlejuice on a Schoolbus" lived in her room and accommodated baby dolls for 2 years. Finally about a month and a half ago, I figured out how to thread the sewing machine and push the peddle to make it do things. Terrifying. But I figured it out! (Because my husband showed me...then Tracy held my hand while I actually made something). Anyway, I went on an etsy rampage looking for fabric. I was ready to make this bed coordinate with the rest of her room. Luckily I found Gina at (check her out on etsy! As with most etsy sellers, she was super duper nice, and got my custom order to me in no time. Gina even featured my project plus the painting to go with it on her blog! I am so excited! Check her blog out when you have a chance. I just love when crafters share's one of my Happy Thoughts. Anyway...

So now we don't have to deal with old Beetlejuice anymore:

Isn't that sooo much better?? (Don't look at the baseboards. Thank you.) I love it. I showed it to Homeslice when it was all assembled and ready to go. She says "I don't love white". I guess when you're 4 Schoolbus Yellow is a rockin' color. Whatever. She's happy with it now. I just love when Found Object + Can of Spraypaint + $10 etsy Find = luxury bedding for doll babies. Sleep tight, Doll Babies!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

THE Brownies...

These are by far the best brownies I have had in a long time. I can't take friend Christie shared the recipe, and for that I am forever grateful! These brownies are rich, dense, moist and fudgy...everything a brownie should be. You'll never make them out of a box again. Let's make them!

3/4 cups melted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped, toasted nuts, optional
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 13x9" pan. Beat melted butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla in a large bowl. Mix in cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Don't
beat the tar out of it! This is the prettiest batter I had ever seen. I don't bake much, so I didn't know batter could be beautiful. This batter is beautiful. Stir in nuts and chips. Pour into pan. Bake in a dark metal pan for 20-22 minutes.

See? Batter = Beautiful

As a side note, start checking the brownies at 22 minutes. Mine have typ
ically taken several minutes longer. Just keep checking them until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. I think it's more like 25-27 minutes, but it will depend on your oven, your elevation and whether or not Venus is in retrograde...

This recipe is so quick and easy, so it's a great chance for Homey to help out. She likes butter...

And here's a nifty trick courtesy of Alton Brown--instead of greasing the pan, line it with a sleeve of parchment paper (oh, how I love parchment paper). There should be an excess of paper along the long sides of the pan. The point is to pull the entire slab of brownies out in one fluid motion once they're cooked. When the brownies are done, loosen the short ends with a knife and pull the whole shenanigan out while it's still warm. Using a pizza cutter, go ahead and slice the brownies while they're warm. You'll have perfect squares instead of ripping them to shreds in the pan :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lovey Dovey Ideas!

Now I'm sure I'm a little late posting these ideas for Valentines, but could do these for any occasion.

Here's a quick run down of the Pioneer Woman inspired dinner I served for the Homey-free Friday night:
1. Steak Bites
2. With this sauce
3. Mashed potatoes
4. Whole sauteed mushrooms
5. Roasted asparagus
6. Chocolate pie

If nothing else, please make the pie. Thank you for your cooperation.

Now let's talk about the boxed lunch...this could easily be adapted for Mother's Day, birthdays, name it! You can really make this with anyone's favorites...I chose to do a simple turkey and havarti cheese on a hoagie with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. With that, I threw in a few of the cheese biscuits that I previously posted, Orange Cream Fruit Salad (I switched that up by only including the mandarin oranges, pineapple, and strawberries this time), and the BEST brownie you will ever eat (recipe coming soon...). I went to a local store called If It's Paper and got this cute box:
With some conversation heart tissue paper and some red doilies, it turned into a very festive box to showcase the yummy lunch!

Finally, our Very Homey Valentines dinner. This was very fun for Homester and I to put together and quite delicious! Featured in the picture: Grilled turkey and havarti sammies, tater tots, PW's creamed spinach (crazy delicious!), and the ugliest jello hearts you've ever seen. Apparently, I have no idea how to make Jello. I'll have to find a Jello expert to come do a tutorial for the blog...
File these ideas away for next year, or give them a shot for the next birthday or anniversary. Or Mardi Gras!

Stay tuned to learn how to make the Best Brownie EVER! Coming soon...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Valentines Preparation

Today, I am just starting all the prep work for the food I'll be feeding people Friday. I'm making this pie for Friday's late night dessert...even the crust, so the pie crust dough is chilling in the freezer. Pioneer Woman told me that would be just fine...

Next on my list is an old school Southern cheese biscuit. You either know what they are or you have never in your life seen such a thing. I know that I can't google "cheese biscuit" and find a recipe for this delicious treat. I can find all manner of actual biscuits that have cheese in them. This is not what we are going for. We are wanting more like a cracker, but that's not even right. A wafer? A light delicate disc bursting with cheddar flavor. Yes that is what we are making. Similar to a cheese straw but not straw-ish. And very addicting. I dare you to only eat two. I think when they're set out on a shower or reception table, you're only supposed to eat one or two. Not 14. But they are simply that good. Enough talking...let's see if we can not butcher this recipe. Like I told you, no amount of googling will direct you to this recipe. You'll have to ask my momma if you're looking for it later, and do it the old fashioned way...reading from a piece of paper instead of a computer screen:

Ready? Here we go...

Cheese Biscuits

1/2 lb butter, softened
1/2 lb sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 lb flour (2 cups, sifted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
Pinch of ground red pepper
Pecan halves, optional

Cream butter and add cheese. Mix well, then add remaining ingredients. Shape dough into 3 rolls 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Seal in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Slice 1/4 inch wafers (see...I told you they were like wafers!). Please on ungreased cookie sheet, press pecan onto each. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Good thing this recipe yields 90 to 100 biscuits. Some will accompany a fancy frilly lunch for a couple of ladies. A plateful will serve as an appetizer for Friday night dinner, a clever ploy to distract from the fact that the rest of dinner is in complete shambles and there's no telling when it will actually be fit to eat. Have another cheese biscuit, Darling! Word on the street has i that the remaining rolls of dough can be kept frozen until you need them. Take them out and bake them for a housewarming gift, a spur of the moment lunch with friends, or just because it's Saturday at 3pm. The all occasion cheese biscuit!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hi, Tracy here. I cooked for my family tonight! Even though I love to cook, sometimes the time gets away from me. Before I know it the Beast is hungry and there's no time for preparation. All that's left is spelunking in the freezer for leftovers for dinner.

But tonight I made almost homemade Chicken Pot Pie (yum). I'm really bad about throwing things together without measurements so I apologize.

boil a skinless, boneless chicken breast in some water with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and a little chicken base until done, cool and chop
saute about half a small onion in 2 T olive oil until soft
then add 3 T flour, stir and coat onions about 1 min
add 1/2 cup dry white wine, stir and cook about 2 min
add 1 cup of the chicken broth from the boiled chicken and 1 cup milk to pan
stir until thick; add salt, pepper and fresh thyme
add chopped chicken and small package of frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn)
pour into pie pan
top with a rolled out refrigerated pie crust
pinch and fold over edges of crust to seal
cut several vents in the crust and place on baking sheet
bake at 400 for 30 minutes

You could add any vegetable combination you want. If your family would allow (mine won't), some sauteed mushrooms with the onions would be delicious.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Getting ready for Valentine's Day!

Good morning! Julie here...and I'm ready to get my ducks in a row for Valentine's Day!

There's just something about Valentine's Day. I don't get too over the top with this holiday, but it sure is a lot of fun. There are so many types of love you can have for others, and I think Valentine's Day is the perfect time to do a little something extra for people if you can. But I have to admit, I wish I was still 7. When we all made our special shoeboxes to take to school to collect all the little tiny Valentine's from classmates.

Since I have a little more time this year, I'm going to try to work on some craftiness and recipes for next weekend. So far the only thing I know for sure is what I want to cook for the husband, but knowing me that could change too. We have crazy schedule, so we'll probably be eating our "fancy" meal late Friday night. But that gives me more time to mess up all the recipes, then do them correctly. So far, I've decided that I want to make crab cakes. I've never in my life made crab cakes, so yeah...we'll see how that goes. I'll make some sort of sauce to go with it, asparagus, and Pioneer Woman's roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The appetizer and dessert will also be courtesy of my best friend, PDub. I've never made either of those recipes either. Yikes!

I'm also trying to think of a fun Homey-friendly meal to have when all three of us are here for Sunday dinner. I'm lacking in inspiration here...all I can think of is some kind of grilled sandwich that's in the shape of a heart. Blah...that's a good start, but what else can we have that's fun and festive?

Finally, I'm going to try to prepare a couple of prettified boxed lunches for a couple of ladies that I really appreciate. Again, with this meal, I have no idea what I'll actually include, but I'll post as I get it put together.

Do any of you do anything special of Valentine's? Whether it's fancy, fun, or just festive...I'm always looking for good Valentine's ideas...

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Other Busy B

Hi, I'm Tracy, the other half of the Busy B's. I live down the street from Julie in our adorable (and very quirky) little neighborhood with my husband of almost 5 years and our 2 year old daughter known as Thing 2 (also has many other handles such as Creature, Baby Hush, Precious Pudding, the list goes on...). I've been a SAHM since she was born and was not prepared for how it was going to change my life! Before Thing 2 showed up on the scene i was an independent woman running my own business. Now things are a bit different but i think I'm getting the hang of it (sometimes). I also love all things vintage. I especially have a fascination with mid century furniture. We were lucky enough to inherit some from both sides of our family. I would love to fill my house with nothing but retro pieces, unfortunately my taste is a little pricey (oops). Which means one of my favorite past times is to scavenge through consignment stores. I have such a habit that most of our friends get me to be on the look out for items in their houses.

My other past time is to try to sew and make jewelry. The biggest problem is finding and making time to do it. Which is where Julie comes in. Julie is my Sanity. I really don't know what I would be doing if she wasn't on this street. She's also my motivator. I always thought I was fairly organized and got things done until I met Julie. She's the fire needed to get this blog going and for me to start producing my crafts. And she loves my crafts which is a HUGE bonus (I love her art and crafts too ;).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

God Bless Little Girls...

It is apparent to me that the reason I laugh at all the things I expect to get done in a day is because of :

<--- this.

This is Homey. She's a handful. She's very busy. And she's generally just like me. Oy! Toss together some sass, some independence, some OCD-ish cleaning up moments, and add a touch of belligerence, and you've got Homey! She's very sweet and funny. And I'm beyond glad that she is past the Terrible Two/Three's. Because that was realllly interesting.

Anyhoo...whenever I think I need to learn how to actually sew (not just know how to work the machine), finish painting something, catch up on my Real Simple magazine, or anything, really, this one is on my heels ready to break out her paint, her cooking box, or a plethora of other messy time-consuming activities. The good thing is I usually learn more from hangin' with Homey than I do doing Grown Up Things. And it's usually a lot more fun
too. God bless little girls....
Especially the ones that know all the words to the Wonder Woman theme song (more on that later...)

I know that there are amazing women out there that do more in a day with way more kidlets, but takes a chunk out of your time/energy. Hey, productive moms with multiple children...what's the secret, yo?

Busy, busy, busy...

Hi! I'm Julie, and I'm one of the Busy B's. I'm fortunate enough to live in a fantastic neighborhood, in the city I grew up in, with my husband of 5 1/2 years and my 4 year old daughter known as Thing 1, Homey, Scooter (and several other handles...). I thrive on domesticity, and I'm inspired by all things vintage (especially from the 40s and 50s). This blog has come about, mostly, because I am an involuntary (yet ecstatic!) stay at home mom, after working constantly for the past eleventy million years. It might not last long, but I'll enjoy it. And I'll participate in this joint blog regardless because it's an outlet to ramble on and on in cyberspace and showcase the things and people I adore.

I'm thrilled to share this little corner of the web with my fantastic friend and neighbor Tracy (aka Julie's Sanity). We share the main goal of leading lovely lives, however we interpret that (it changes daily). We appreciate a lot of the same things, and compliment each other. Oh and provide that Sanity as well. It's important to have, we've found...

So our little blog is dedicated to all things domestic, vintage, marriage, parenting, decorating, fashion, and cooking. Enjoy, chime in...whatever ;). Tracy will be by soon, and in the meantime, I'm going to work on getting some posts up.