Dining Room Pew

Over here at Walnut Grove, we’re knocking out one project after another. I have no idea why projects that have lingered on for months years are finally getting done, but it feels awesome!

Here’s a project that we finished last night:

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Our church needed to remove some pews, and we were grateful to receive one! It was quite the honey color, however, and because it was made of wood¬†veneer, we weren’t able to refinish it in a darker stain. So we opted to paint it a crisp semi-gloss white which could be easily cleaned. Since the pew is quite a huge beast for our dining room, we were hoping that the white would help it to blend in with the wainscotting, and its size would be visually minimized. Here’s the pew in the dining room, sticking out in all its honey glory…

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Besides paint, Josh had to shorten the pew and put another end-cap on. We also had to raise the whole pew, since it was a little low for our table. That was last night’s project, and now it’s finally done!

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I purchased the brown faux leather seat pads from Meijer. I love how they tie in with the rest of the dining room….which I will show you shortly. (Yes, we have a new dining room table and chairs, for those of you who haven’t seen them yet) ūüėÄ

We’re happy with how practical the bench is for us. We’ve already had a¬†bunch of meals with up to nine people, and the bench has worked out great.

 

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Compound Butter

How was I supposed to¬†argue with the reproach that came every time I looked at my herbs? There they were, flourishing, vibrant, and full of life….yet unaware that winter’s freeze was approaching. The rest of the vegetable garden was dead, but they were carrying on as if they planned to live forever. I knew better, however, and decided to take action and make compound butter.

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  1. chives            2. thyme           3. rosemary          4. parsley           5. sage          6. oregano

 

I assembled the other ingredients and tools:

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I suggest using a quality butter (my preference is Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter). I used salted butter, and so I didn’t add any salt to my recipes.

Next, I added my non-herb ingredients to the different bowls:

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Have a sharp knife ready because it’s time for a lovely session of herb chopping.

(It will smell amazing!)

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Compound Butters:

  1. rosemary, thyme, chives, minced garlic, black pepper
  2. parsley, oregano, lemon zest
  3. parsley, sage, lemon zest
  4. rosemary, smoked paprika
  5. sage, gorgonzola

 

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The final steps are to use a fork to mash the butter with the herbs, wrap it in wax paper, place it in a labeled freezer bag, and pop it in the freezer (or fridge).  When you want to use the butter, just cut off the amount you need.

Uses for compound butter:

  • melted on a great steak or vegetables
  • in mashed potatoes
  • spread on rustic bread
  • spread on a roasted chicken
  • smeared on a sandwich

 

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Daily Bread

Bread machines are wonderful. We use ours multiple times a week to bake our daily toast/sandwich bread.

BUT, a bread-making husband is even better! When Josh first began to have an interest in baking bread from scratch, I gifted him this book:

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The results¬†have been finger-licking good! Cinnamon rolls, kolaches (similar to cheese Danishes), and monkey bread–all from scratch–¬†have¬†graced our table. And lest you think that Josh only bakes sugary¬†breads¬†(which isn’t surprising considering his sweet tooth), he also made an Italian loaf and most recently…..

Cheddar and Black Pepper Bread:

 

It was delicious, especially when eaten alongside a bowl of tomato soup.

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When Doors Open

The door to our basement was nasty the day we moved in. It had an old yellowed cat door containing leftover cat fur from the previous feline occupants. Definitely not the most appetite-enhancing sight to have in our dining room!

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So the easy thing would be to order a new hollow core door, right?¬† But no, I wanted something unique. A custom-built, solid-wood door was going to be pricey….but what about an antique door?

I took measurements, and as I went about my daily life (popping into antique places, thrift stores, etc), I would look at the old doors. First off, many of them were very pricey. An added challenge was that our door was quite a bit narrower than most doors, and so none of the old doors I found even had the correct measurements.

Eight years passed by with the same old comment “we really should get a new basement door!” on repeat.

And then one day while shopping at an antique store, my sister-in-law spotted it! I raced over and whipped out my measuring tape. It was the perfect width, although a little too long.  Being solid wood, I assumed we could shave off some inches from the bottom.  The five-panel door was dinged up and had gouges, scratches, and nails in it. But I was smitten as we stuffed it into my hatchback.

And I got it for $20!

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My dad was coming to town, and so I had a lovely job for him: make the heavy beast fit into the doorframe.

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It was a finicky job that required lots of patience, but he got it done!

At this stage, however, my handsome antique door still looked like an old weathered beast.¬† It needed TLC in the form of stripping, sanding, staining, varnishing, and polishing.¬† After we were finished, there were still some dents and holes….but that’s instant character, right?

And the after:

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Worth an eight years’ wait, haha….

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Petite Pleasures

Sometimes it’s small, unexpected things that can give such pleasure. The spark of joy is elusive…I can’t plan for it. I’m going about my ordinary day and suddenly, there it is! A conversation, that music, the stillness of nature, the sizzle and fragrance of garlic hitting hot oil, pulling sheets off the line saturated with the smell of the outdoors, sitting underneath our huge walnut tree at dusk with the bats swirling around and around, their squeaks filling the quiet air….so many things that on most days are meaningless suddenly spark joy. ¬†Why some days and not others? ¬†I don’t know. ¬†But I take each pleasure as it’s graciously given to me by my Creator, thankful for a small foretaste of what’s to come.

One of my current petite pleasures is the ¬†10-foot sunflowers that Josh planted on a whim. As I pull into the driveway, far away their golden heads stand just above the hill, nodding at me as if to say, “Good Day!” ¬†I can’t help but exclaim over them again and again.

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A Deck with a View

Our house came with a large deck that is perfect for dining alfresco or hanging out on when the summer heat kicks in. Mom and Dad, we play Quiddler on it at night. ¬†ūüôā Because it’s behind the house, it has the best view of our backyard. The only thing hindering the view was what I considered “extraneous” railings. So one day I just took out a hammer, crowbar, and screw driver and knocked it off. Josh was quite¬†shocked¬†pleased when he came home from work and saw the new improvement. But the deck now flows better to the yard, and the extra room on the steps is perfect for nieces and nephews to plunk down on while they eat a snack.

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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A deck with a view:

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Good Eats

We’re in the middle of good eats. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rolling in, and I’m digging through my recipes to find new ways to eat them. Our personal harvest started about a month ago, and now there’s always something that needs picking.

  1. Black raspberries: were abundant and are now sitting in the freezer, waiting to be made into jam.
  2. Snow peas: didn’t germinate well, but those that did germinate produced well and were a nice addition to our salads
  3. Lettuce: a write-off and even though some of it is still growing, it’s bitter
  4. Red raspberries: are abundant and I’m currently picking every morning; favorite way to enjoy them is on pound cake with whipped cream. Extras are frozen.
  5. Blueberries: producing well, but I caught the robins stealing the ripe berries and so I had to put chicken wire around them; favorite way to enjoy them is by making Earl Gray Blueberry Jam (so good!!!!)
  6. Tomatoes: somehow we ended up with mostly cherry tomato plants, and while they had a rough start, they’re picking up and starting to produce
  7. Garlic: harvested yesterday and now drying in our basement
  8. Zucchini: picked the first one today with more to come
  9. Herbs: favorite this year is mint
  10. Beets: spotty germination, but those that did grow are ready to be picked

Not ready for harvesting yet: potatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, carrots, beans, late summer raspberries

 

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