Saturday, June 29


We've been home from Italy only a few weeks and I am already having Lemon gelato withdrawals. I have searched in vain at our local grocery stores for a close substitute and to my disappointment I have found nothing even remotely similar.
In desperation for that tart kick that I love so much, I have given up and decided to make my favorite Summertime drink instead... Homemade Lemonade. I must admit I am a bit of a lemonade snob, I don't like sweet lemonade and I have difficulty finding a commercial lemonade that suits my taste. Not all lemons are created equal, some are more tart than others. Being  able to get that perfect blend of sweet and sour doesn't take special talent just practice and a tongue for taste! It's actually much easier than you might think. This lemonade recipe is filled with all the tangy goodness lemons have to offer and slightly sweet enough to keep the kids happy. It not only quenches my families Summer thirst but satisfies 'MY' lemon craving as well. Refreshing and delicious, this recipe for homemade Lemonade is ridiculously easy to make and turns out perfect every time. Promise. I pinkie swear!

The secret to perfect lemonade is to start by making a simple sugar syrup. Dissolving the sugar in hot water effectively disperses the sugar in the lemonade, instead of having it sink to the bottom of your pitcher. 


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • lemon zest from lemons used
  • 4 cups cold water
  • Lemon slices; optional
  • Mint sprigs; optional 

  • Add 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and lemon zest* to small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves completely. Let cool and refrigerate. This is the simple syrup.
  • When you are ready to serve, remove zest from the simple syrup and mix well with the lemon juice - strained or not, as you like - and stir well. Add 4 cups cold water and mix. Pour into a large jug or pitcher, adding thin lemon slices if you'd like, or garnish with mint sprigs.
  • Make sure to taste and adjust lemon juice or sugar for just that right mix. You can increase the amounts of this recipe proportionately, depending on the amount of lemonade you want.

*Use a knife to remove lemon zest from lemons in large pieces. Make sure NOT to remove the pith as well, the white part of the peel, it can be bitter. 

I love this lemonade! I think the oils from the zest just round out the flavor really well. I always use more lemon juice because I like my lemonade tart. This is a great guide to start with. What most people don't realize is that all lemons differ in tartness and strength of flavor. Honestly it doesn't really matter which recipe you choose, they all need some tweaking. It is good to use this as a starting point, and then alter based on your taste preference.

I do believe I am going to get out my simple hand-cranked Doniver ice cream freezer, pour in my lemonade and make my own private batch of gelato! If you have Summer and Sunshine on your mind as well, make an ice cold pitcher of'll be glad ya did!


Sunday, June 23

Decorating With Shipping Pallets

Turning a basic wood pallet into a dreamy, colorful piece of furniture may not be as hard as you might believe. You need to think outside the box and don’t look at it only as firewood, because pallet furniture IS cool. More and more people buy it or construct it themselves because of the design statement it makes. It’s become quite THE trend.
There are plenty of ways you can use shipping pallets. From coffee tables, to stunning kitchen islands, as sofas, desks or shelves. Below are a few of my favorite examples of pallets turned into inspired home furnishings. ENJOY!

Pallet Coffee Tables

White Pallet Table
Have some white paint in your garage or basement and a couple of pallets down the street? You could turn that into a stylish piece of furniture either for the indoors or outdoors. It can turn out to look something like this. Nice.

Glass Pallet Coffee Table
For some of us, decorating is all about putting pieces together to create something you can’t find anywhere else. And this pallet coffee table with glass on top is just that. Looks ugly at first but if you look at the wood closer, then you can see it's true style. Love it!

Green Coffee Table
While it looks too good to be true, I assure you this table is made from reclaimed shipping pallets. It’s just that it’s extremely well sanded. And those nails are well hidden with putty and paint. Looks nothing short of cool, I must say.

Rustic Inspired
Not too modern, not too stylish. If that’s what you’re looking for, how about some rustic feel for an outdoor pallet table? Perfect to sit in your backyard.

Pallet Beds 

Jackson Headboard
Isn't this stinking cute? I think so and it is a great way of using old pallets for furniture. EXTREMELY easy to accomplish, transfer any design that strikes your fancy and attach it to the wall!

Pallet Bed Frame
So it looks like it’s not only bed platforms that you can use a pallet for. With a bit of creativity you can throw it on the wall as a headboard. Use a bit of paint and you've got yourself a conversation piece. I really love this.

Country Romantic
Stack'em 2 high and deep, add a mattress and you've created a very humble country look. Simplicity at it's best.

Padded Headboard
Quick and easy does it with this inexpensive padded headboard. What a great headboard for a dorm room. So easy to put together, you can afford the time and money for a new look every semester. 

Pallet Sofas

Cozy Pallet Sofa
Some DIY projects require special materials. Like this cozy sofa made from a pallet. It’s a plastic pallet cut in half, with stainless steel plates and legs added for stability. The cushion is amazing, and the powerful blue is exactly what it needs to stand out. 

Outdoor Pallet Couch
Although I think it was designed for outdoors, this couch has what it takes to make it into any interior. I totally adore the pipes on the sides and caster wheels underneath. Certainly adds to its uniqueness and mobility.

Outdoor Stylish Little Sofa
Looks comfortable and probably feels comfortable as well, but the most interesting thing about this little outdoor couch is the modern aspect. It shouldn’t be too expensive to build, but keep in mind it needs to be sanded very well so that you don’t have any problems with it.

Sofa with Matching Coffee Table
If you’re not sure how to decorate your living room or your patio, here’s some inspiration.  The pallet base is similar with the other ideas shown here so make it all about the cushions.  A variety of heights could be very interesting. The addition of wheels on the coffee table allows you to move it to different locations as needed. I love this cute idea for a young couple or singles starting out.

Pallet Shelving & Storage

There’s no such thing as having too many books. Except if you have no space to store them all. So how about a bookshelf that is made from wooden pallets? They look sleek and a bit doctor office-ish, right?

Storage Carts
Vegetable bins look to be the inspiration for these inventive storage carts. Too many toys cluttering your home? Add caster wheels to a simple DIY storage box and the kids can go room by room collecting their toys.

Bike Rack
Because of their structure, pallets can be easily used to create shelves and racks. You don’t even have to make a lot of modifications. Just place the pallet along the wall, secure it and maybe add some shelves here and there and you’re done. Paint it in a vibrant color if you want and you’re ready to add your books or bikes.

Pallet Outdoor Furniture

Pallet Hanging Bed
Shipping pallets are right at home in the great outdoors. Make a simple hanging bed using pallets and a twin or full-sized mattress. Hang them from a large sturdy tree or on an old fashioned sleeping porch. I want one!

Pallet Outdoor Swing
Nothing says relaxation like an outdoor swing. Simply attach two pallets together with hinges and 2X4's, add cushions and heavy chains and you have an inexpensive porch swing.

Patio Potting Bench
If you like flowers, here’s an original idea for a new garden accessory. This cute bench was made of two pallets. It’s only an example of how it could look. Of course, you can come up with your own design, maybe a bit more elaborate or one that would accommodate even more plants. You can also paint it or leave it as is.

Pallets That Make A Statement

Pallet Sign Art
Dry brush a bit of color to your pallet and paint out a favorite quote or message. An inexpensive way to make a simple statement in a very impressive way!

There are some amazing decor ideas floating around out there on the Internet made with these few humble items.  From shelves to beds to patio furniture, the possibilities are endless AND inexpensive. If you want a nice weekend project look no further than They have many ideas, pictures and instructions on how to construct just what you have in mind. 


Friday, June 21

How to Welcome Summer Weekend Guests

Being a good host is something of a lost art. Balancing the roles of tour guide, innkeeper, cook and friend - while still managing to have fun yourself - can be challenging, to say the least. Make visiting friends and family feel at home, and ease the burden on yourself, this summer with a little extra preparation. Read on for a few ways to welcome Summer guests, and make weekend visits more fun.

Provide a grab-and-go breakfast station. Take a cue from hotels and keep breakfast cereals, muffins, bagels and other essentials together on the counter for early risers. Give guests a quick kitchen tour the night before so they can get their morning coffee or tea without waiting for you. Make it extra-special by leaving a bowl of fruit salad and a plate of meat and cheese in your fridge. It's a nice touch that doesn't take much extra effort.

Set a casual tone. My father-in-law told me once that it didn't look like anyone lived in our home. For my OCD-spirit, this was wonderful news, however, when guests come to stay I want my home to be more accessible and less like a museum. I'm not saying you shouldn't clean and straighten up a bit before guests arrive, but keeping things as close to the usual state of things around the house will help put your guests at ease. 

Prep your front porch. It's the first thing guests see, after all, so make sure it is well lit, freshly swept and outfitted with clean cushions and green plants.

Stock your guest bedroom and bathroom with the essentials. Clean sheets and extra  towels are a no-brainer, but try adding a few of these extras to take your guest to the next level:
  • iPod dock with speakers and/or small TV
  • Alarm clock
  • If possible provide an Internet connection
  • An assortment of magazines
  • The latest best seller
  • An electric tea kettle/coffee pot
  • Breath mints and gum
  • Small basket with sample-size toiletries
  • New toothbrush and razor
  • A small can of hairspray
  • Earplugs
  • A fluffy, clean robe and pair of slippers
  • Bottled water or their favorite drink
  • Local travel guide with a list of activities and a map
  • Place an over-stuffed arm chair in the corner of the room
  • A small writing desk
  • An extra blanket and small oscillating fan - your guest may not be comfortable with your AC or lack of one.

Make young guests feel at home. Make the stay in a new place easier on little ones by making their bed bright, fresh and inviting. If you have a beloved teddy bear add him to their bed along with anything else you think they will enjoy. Be sure to ask parents of young children in advance if there is anything you can have ready for them — borrowing a high chair from a friend, for instance, means the grownups can pack lighter.

Allow for downtime. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of over-planning activities for weekend guests. Having a few tentative outings or projects on the agenda can be helpful, but avoid the urge to fill every last second. Most guests will really appreciate some blocks of unstructured time to relax, chat, read, nap or even venture out on their own.

Give guests a job in the kitchen. When dinnertime rolls around, feel free to have guests pitch in with a few simple tasks in the kitchen. Ask them to fill tea glasses with ice, choose the music, prep greens for a salad or set the table, and soon your visitors will be feeling right at home.

Eat alfresco. Eating outdoors makes food tastier, conversation livelier and people more relaxed. Even if you don't have an outdoor table, consider carrying your kitchen table outside for the evening. It will make for a memorable night.

Provide old-school entertainment. With the over-saturation of high-tech gadgets in our lives these days, it can feel really refreshing, and even indulgent, to unplug for an afternoon. Play board games or cards, work on a big puzzle, read, talk, go for a walk, ride bikes or swim.

Fill bags with outing essentials. I love the idea of keeping bags by the door, ready to go for typical outings. You could have a beach bag with sunscreen, towels and spare sunglasses, or a picnic basket with blankets, cutlery and unbreakable dishes. Just grab the appropriate tote and head out!

Reconnect at the end of the day. Even if you and your visitors part ways during the day, it can be nice to regroup and kick back together at the end of the day. Make a ritual of carrying snacks and beverages into the backyard or onto the porch and sharing stories from your day.

Put yourself in the shoes of your guests, it can be difficult to stay in a home when you have needs and are on vacation but don’t want to be an imposition to the host. Think and plan ahead to make your Summer guests feel welcomed and relaxed in your home....'ll be glad ya did!


Tuesday, June 18


When I found this simple recipe 15+ years ago, my tireless hunt for the perfect Banana Nut Bread was over. I never again looked for another one. I have made it countless times since, and given it to people who liked it, and now they continue to make it as well. This is among the very few recipes that I can bake without having to look it up. If all the ingredients are around, it takes only minutes to stir up this simple batter and turn my kitchen into the best smelling bakery in town.  Halfway through the baking time the most amazing aroma starts to fill my house and 'calls' everyone that's home! Then an exercise in patience begins. 'Wait until it cools' is easier said than done for my family, but if I can successfully keep them from cutting into the loaf the reward is truly great. This bread is soft and moist, full of banana flavor, and sweet enough to be called a 'banana cake'. I hope you enjoy it as well!
This sweet and moist banana nut bread has made it to the top of my favorite recipes  list. It's simple and easy and comes out perfect every time. 

Makes 1 Loaf

  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Buttermilk
  • 2 Large Eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 Cup mashed ripe Bananas; about 2 large
  • 1/2 Cup Pecans, chopped; optional

  • Heat oven to 325°F. 
  • Spray the bottom only of a 8 x 4 or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with flour no-stick cooking spray. 
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl; mix well.
  • Add sugar, oil, buttermilk and eggs; blend well. Add bananas and pecans; mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; place on wire rack. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.
You don't have to worry about spending hours in the kitchen to make this delicious, pretty quick bread for your family. For a recipe that starts from scratch, it couldn't possibly be any easier to bake. Fill your home with the smell of fresh baked Banana Nut Bread....'ll be glad ya did!


I like to serve my Banana Bread with softened cream cheese and apricot jam! 

Monday, June 17

Dorm Room Picture Collages

Surrounding yourself with photos of friends and family can make the transition to college life a little easier, and make your dorm room feel more like home. A wall collage will help you keep that link with  home as you begin to capture new memories at college. A collage is a functional way to display several pictures in a small area without the need for individual picture frames. Since dorms don't typically allow nail holes, the best picture collages are lightweight and have alternative hanging methods. You can create photo collages, using programs like Photoshop and Microsoft Word, online photo printing sites like Snapfish and Shutterfly, or the old-fashioned way by hanging an arrangement or photos. You decide how you want to make your photo collage and begin.


A shaped collage gives the display a distinct appearance while capturing the college student's personality. Start with a large piece of stiff cardboard in a square or rectangle shape. Cut a piece of poster board the same size as the cardboard. Cut out a shape in the middle of the poster board, such as a football helmet, star, heart or giant letter representing the student's name. Place the poster board cutout over the cardboard and trace the shape onto the cardboard. Adhere the photos to the cardboard to cover the shape. When you attach the poster board to the cardboard, the photos show through the cutout to display the custom collage.

A simple option for creating a photo collage is to adhere photos to the wall with double-sided tape. Start with a photo in the middle, sticking it to the wall with tape on each corner of the picture. If you just use one piece of tape in the middle, the photo is likely to curl at the corners. Continue adding more photos with each new image slightly overlapping old ones. Place the photos at different angles for variety. For a more uniformed look you can add inexpensive colored photo mats to 'frame' your photos before hanging them on the wall.

A mock clothesline is another way to display a pictures. Use lightweight string as the clothesline. Use adhesive removable plastic wall hooks to hold the string in place. Tie the ends of the string to the hooks so it stretches across the wall. Use binder clips or mini clothespins to hold photos onto the string. Overlap the pictures slightly to create a collage-like appearance.

Decoupage is a method of gluing items onto a base. For a collage, use an artist's canvas as the base. Brush decoupage glue on the back of the picture before pressing it on the canvas. Brush additional glue on top of the picture to help seal it on the canvas. Continue adding more photos with the glue. A final coating of glue over the entire canvas helps keep the photos in place.


  • Pictures you want to use 
  • 2 20x30 foam core boards, any color
  • Poster hangers
  • Foam brushes 
  • Double sided tape
  • Mod Podge

 This shows the thickness of the foam core board.
First, draw out a plan according to the number of photos you are using.
To make sure your plan is doable, cut some computer paper into 
the size photos you are using and lay them out. A good idea before cutting your pictures.
 If your plan works, begin cutting pictures into 4 inch squares OR have
 them pre-sized when you have them printed out at your local pharmacy or Fed-EX store. 
 Lay them all out on the floor in the order you want to display them. 
One by one tape them down with double sided tape.
Cover with a good layer of Mod Podge.
Let it dry fully, overnight is best.
Attach poster hooks and hang on your wall, simple and VERY effective!
If perfection is not your thing, then truly make a collage by NOT organizing your photos. Mod Podge them down in a random-free style that most young college students seem to prefer. Either way, it's a great way to spend some quality time with your college friends on a rainy Saturday afternoon. 

I like it!
What do you think?


TDC TIP: If you have your color photos printed off onto good quality computer paper or card stock it is so much easier to Mod Podge them down.
Instructions and photos for decoupaged collage from BITS OF EVERYTHING