Behind My Red Door

Behind My Red Door

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to our Baby Girl

This post is dedicated to our daughter Jen, aka baby girl, stinky kid and dancin darlin who turns 28 on Tuesday. How can that be? Seems like just yesterday she was this cute little thing.

Jen was born on March 31, 1981, a full 4 weeks early. In the late afternoon that day I had my 8 th month prenatal check up. My dear friend Chris (the same one I talk about in my posts now) took Jay for me while I went to that appointment. The wait was unusually long, and when I finally got to see Dr. Halpin, I told him I was feeling like I was having contractions. As he started to exam me, he joked that he knew I had to wait quite awhile but he didn't think he kept me waiting THAT long. Then he said something like - "humm, you are already dilating a bit. You could go into labor in a week or in 4 weeks. " We talked about a possible date for my c-section. You see, I had Jay 8 days early so he suspected this baby wouldn't wait until it's due date either and we set the date for 3 weeks from then. A week short of my due date. This baby would be a late April baby. I then drove home and when I stopped to pick up Jay, I joked to Chris to stay by the phone in case I kept dilating and went into labor early. I would need her to watch Jay until my in laws could get to our home.

That night, David had a college class. He was enrolled in the prestigious WPI School of Industrial Management - a graduate program and he was the youngest participant to date. It was quite an accomplishment. As he prepared to go to class, I told him I was feeling odd and we talked about what the Dr. had said. David said he really needed to go to class because he had traveled on business and missed a few classes, and if he missed any more, he would have to repeat that course and miss graduation in May. So he assured me that if I needed him, there was a pay phone right outside the classroom and he would call and give me the number just in case I needed it. He called and sure enough, before class was over, I needed it and called him back. I could hear the hushed voices behind him as everyone waited to hear if he would need to leave. They weren't used to young dads taking the program at that time. So he rushed home and took me to the hospital. Because this baby was not due for a month, the neonatal center team was called into action and there was a flurry of activity as they readied an OR and prepared me for a c-section. I was surprisingly calm through it all. I was so excited to be awake for the birth of this baby. Jay was born by an emergency c-section so there wasn't time for an epidural. I was put to sleep and missed his birth by several hours. This time I couldn't wait to be awake when they to see if it was a girl or a boy.

When they finally said "it's a girl" I really thought they were teasing me. After having my rough and tumble little boy, I wanted a little girl so much and they knew that. But there she was. With fuzzy hair and the cutest little nose and 10 fingers and 10 toes - she didn't need any of the neonatal specialists. She was perfect. But by the time she was born and we were settled in recovery and David could get to a phone to call family, it was past midnight. You guessed it. It was April 1st - April Fools Day. When DH got a hold of my parents, my mom thought it was an April fools joke. I wasn't due for weeks after all. And the next morning as we called the rest of the family and friends, we heard the same thing over and over - "yeah sure - ha ha - April Fools." But it wasn't a joke and this sweet little girl was in my arms (and I had the stitches and staples to prove it!)

And we named her Jennifer Lynn. Our family was complete. We felt incredibly blessed to have a little boy and a little girl. One of each.
Jen was the easiest baby. She slept well and fed well. She was happy when she woke up and easy to put down for the night. She waited patiently when I needed to help Jay. And she was so darling. By the time she was one, her hair was coming in the most beautiful shade of auburn and her eyes were a gorgeous green. She has her daddy's dimples - lucky girl!
At times she could be very very shy. When she was 3, I enrolled her in the same pre-school that Jay had attended. The very same one that became a big part of my life for over 20 years. She loved it and loved her friends but despite still being very shy, she was still the easiest child. So happy and cheerful and pleasant to have around. She was my love bug! As I was doing something like cook dinner or fold laundry, she would come to me and say " I need some lovins" and I had to stop and sit in the rocker with her for awhile. Such a tough job!

Around the corner from preschool, was a new dancing school. They had a class for preschoolers that was more about fun and movement than about performance. At first Jen wouldn't let me leave her side, but she didn't want to leave class either. She loved it. Within a few weeks she was telling me to go. The shy little girl was coming out of her shell.

In addition to her dance costumes, Jen loved to dress up and not just for Halloween. We had already nicknamed her our sweet punkin and so I had to make her this costume one year.

When the soccer team needed a mascot for the parade float, Jen loved helping out so I made her this Native American costume. She would play in this for hours.By first grade we had moved to this town and Jen moved on to another larger dance school and she loved every minute of it. She got to wear REAL costumes now.
It was becoming very clear that her long legs were made for dancing.
When she was about 8, Jen asked to please please please please please pleeeeease be allowed to try out for the competitive dance teams. That meant she could take even more classes and try other styles of dance. No surprise to us, she made the team easily and we began to go to local, regional and National Competitions in Myrtle Beach. Luckily for us, DH parents had just retired to a golf community in a suburb not far from the beach and convention center. We made the drive to SC every summer for many years and often combined the trip with vacation stops in place like Williamsburg.
When Jen was old enough, she tried out for Toe - and again, easily made that class as well.
Jen really was a gifted dancer and won many gold medals and trophies. She was the lead in many performances - like Miss Otis - the title of this dance below. Outside of school and family, dance was a HUGE part of Jen's life - by her choice. Her dad and I encouraged her to try sports and other things, and she did, but she always stayed with dance. It was great exercise, the school was a great place for her to hang out and she even started teaching younger girls to dance. She was a great role model.
If Jen had a bad day, she just went to dance and the world was right again. And during the time I would drive her back and forth to dance -several times a week by high school - we had some great talks. I loved watching her dance. It was so much fun. Every year at the recital, Jen's kicks were always the highest even though several girls were much taller than Jen. She really was happiest when she could dance. Some how she managed to fit it all in between school and her after school job all through high school.

Because she was spending so much time at the school which was in a neighboring town, she made a lot of really good friends there, and many like Alyssa, are her close friends to this day. Here they are in the convention center in Myrtle Beach. Alyssa and Jen even danced on a cruise ship to the Bahama's her senior year of high school.

In addition to her close circle of friends at dance, Jen had some great friends in high school and some like Lani and Dave, are still close to her even now, almost 10 years after graduation. They supported her dance and would attend her recitals every June.
A few weeks after graduation, Jen had her last dance recital from that school and she performed a beautiful lyrical solo that moved me to tears. She just glowed!

Dancing taught Jen such poise and grace. She would literally glide across the room. (and leap down the isle's in the grocery store!) She still does now. Glide that is. And I wouldn't be surprised if she leaps in the grocery store every once in awhile when she thinks no one is looking. I know she can still do the splits like no other.
After high school, Jen went off to college and danced there as well. But as much as Jen loved her dance, she didn't love living far from home and decided to not return to the college in the mountains. Jen decided to move on to other things and dance was put away.

Our little girl was growing up. Soon she got to experience new things, like her first new car...

Her friends started getting married. Here at Lani's wedding with Lauren too.

And eventually her best guy friend became her boyfriend ...

Shhh - don't tell Justin or her bunny Honey Bunz - here is our birthday girl with 'the love of my life' as she affectionately calls Brady.

And with Jay and Ang at their reception last May.

With Lani and her new baby.....

So while Jen is no longer our dancin darlin, she is still our darlin, our punkin, her daddy's baby girl and my stinky kid. And I say that with love.

Here are a few photo's from the birthday celebration we had last night. Jen and her Mamma.

And with her SIL Ang and niece to be, Liliana. Jen is already planning to teach Liliana how to dance.
Happy Birthday Baby girl! May this be the best year yet! We love you very much! I heart you more.


After opening some presents and a wonderful roast beef dinner of Jen's choice, we enjoyed one of our family's favorite desserts. Jen requested these as well and I thought I would show her just how I make them so she can try her hand at them someday. You see, Jen spent so much time dancing, she didn't join me in the kitchen very often. But it's not too late!! Pay attention baby girl....

Chocolate Bars

Melt one cup of butter (the real deal) and mix it with one cup of brown sugar and two cups of flour. Press mixture into a 10 x 12 (or there abouts) baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

While that is baking, melt a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips with two tablespoons of Crisco in a double boiler.

When you take the bottom layer out of the oven it will be slightly bubbly.

Have your melted chocolate and about one cup of chopped walnuts ready. Besure to dry off the bottom of the double boiler so water does not drip on the bottom layer ....
... as you pour the chocolate over it.

Using a rubber or silicone spatula, gently spread the chocolate to cover the entire sheet. NOW before they cool, score the bars with a sharp knife. Trust me, you do not want to skip this step.

Sprinkle with nuts and chill for a few hours.
Jen, put those back -I said a few hours - not a few minutes.

When thoroughly cool, cut apart on the scored lines and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Or lock in a vault so they don't call your name until it is time to serve them. Trust me about that part too! YUUMO! ENJOY!


I recently received several requests for the recipe for the pantry cakes you have seen in my kitchen photos. I usually prefer to answer requests individually, but because these are so popular right now, I decided to share my recipe here. I can't take credit for it however. My Webshots buddy Barb - Starlove 5- shared this with me well over a year ago. Take a moment and check Barb's albums. She is a very talented gal and she was doing T2T projects long before it was so common. You should see the closet she opened up and all by herself she made into a colonial buttery/pantry! That is where I first saw her pantry cakes.

Pantry cakes - 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, and 1 cup used still wet coffee grounds. You probably want to I double this so you can make a few at once. (As you are saving your coffee grounds, it's a good idea to freeze them until you have enough. They can turn moldy otherwise.) Mix the three ingredients together. Pick your mold. It has to be heat proof. I sprayed mine with Pam. Grab some dough and press firmly into the bottom (which becomes the top) and sides of mold. I used some old yellow ware molds and tart pans. Now here it is a great trick. Crush aluminum foil and use as a filler inside. Then, cover the aluminum with a layer of the dough. Think of the foil as the filling you don't want to show. Bake on low (200 degrees) in the oven until dry several hours. I baked mine and when the bottom looked dry and I could see they were shrinking away from the sides of the mold, I inverted them on the cookie sheet, removed the mold and put them back in the oven for a few more hours. When it's dry, rub spices all over it. I then spray mine with a water based acrylic spray in a matter finish to seal the spices in and to give it a darker look. I wrapped mine in tea-stained cheesecloth. Some people make a fake frosting made from glue and white paint and drizzle over the top to make them look like real cakes. I have not done this. If you decide to make these, please post a picture and let me know!

After some great spring weather, the rain and cool temps have returned so I am going to curl up with some spiced chai tea and some of my magazines and pictures books and relax a bit. What are you doing for the rest of your weekend? Be sure to leave me a commnet and let me know! And a big thank you to everyone for all the kind comments on my last post. I so appreciate them.

Until Next Time - Hugs, Linda
PS I didn't forget I promised to share nursery pictures with you. I'll do that later in the week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I have been out of the Country!

Hello peeps!! It has been another busy and wonderful week Behind My Red Door. Well technically part of it was spent NOT behind my red door at all. Some of you may have guessed that this past weekend, DH and I traveled north to see our friends Kathy and Stephen in New Brunswick, Canada in their Home on the Hill. That is their home - this was taken around the holidays and while there wasn't quite as much snow when we arrived, and the sun was shining brightly, it looked just as charming. We were headed to the Open House they were having to sell the wooden items Stephen had been making. It seemed like the perfect excuse I needed to make the drive and see my friends again and I so wanted DH to meet them finally.
When I started planning this trip many weeks ago, I had just started chatting online with Kathy's long time and dear friend Carolee from Autumn Mom - Patches of Godlight. I was so excited that I would be meeting her as well. Carolee was making me some goodies and I was bringing her some goodies and making her some pantry cakes too. And to make it even more fun - just before we left last week, I learned that Sandy from For the Love of Prims, would be making the two hour drive from her home in New Brunswick to meet Kathy and I and do a little shopping at the Open House.

Here are a few of the wonderful pieces that Stephen made.

And this is the piece he made exclusively for Kathy. I love all the drawers and the color. It fits perfectly in this spot in her kitchen. I love the little feather tree with the Easter ornaments I brought north. I think it looks perfect there.

Before I go on, I have to say don't get too excited and get visions of placing orders for any of these great pieces because I need to explain, this was a one time Open House. Stephen is starting a new venture this week, so he won't be in his workshop like that again. That made our trip even more special.
It was a short trip - short in time, but long in that we traveled many many miles and we are so happy we did. Friday morning we loaded the car with our clothes, and cooler and gifts and goodies for our friends and headed north via route 95 through Maine. DH and I are used to driving all over this great country and we were pleasantly surprised to find this part of route 95 is one of those roads less traveled. Anyone who has traveled route 95 south of the NH border knows that is not the case all the way to Florida.

When we left our home, it was sunny with brilliant blue skies and not a drop of snow in our yard. The further north we went, the more snow we saw, but we were blessed with the same blue sky all the way to our hotel in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Along the way, we saw gorgeous scenery - including groves of birch trees, many deer, and miles of evergreens. DH and I enjoy driving together and this was no exception. We played some of our favorite CD's, enjoyed the scenery and each other and this pretty site- majestic Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine. This photo is courtesy of website KatahdinCam where you can see a live webcam image of the mountain. If you are reading this at night, be sure to come back during the daylight hours EST. It looked JUST like this photo as we passed it on Friday. It was breathtaking! We had seen it last fall during our foliage trip to Maine, but this surpassed even that. What a gift!

This next photo is the Welcome to Canada sign just past customs. At first I was too far away and this is what you see, and then DH was driving so fast, I missed it totally. Bummer. But you can see how much snow was on the ground and the incredibly blue sky. What a pretty day to make the 7 1/2 hour drive. We arrived at our hotel and were pleasantly surprised to find this waiting for us as we walked into our room. Actually, before I even turned on the lights, I could tell Carolee had left us something. She was making me some scented dipped bulbs and a sting of lights and she also included some of her prim tapers and a prim chunky candle as well. They smelled yummy as we opened the door. But even more yummy than that was this HUGE slice of decadent chocolate cake and the chilled water she also left for us. What a wonderful welcome to Canada! After a light dinner out, DH and I enjoyed the cake before we settled down for the night.But Carolee's kindness didn't stop there. She knew that Kathy and Stephen would be very busy with a house full of people and she wanted to make sure we had something to nibble on during the day so we didn't have to stop for a full lunch. She baked several loaves of her delicious brown bread and cut up some cheese and brought it all prepared for us. It was a welcome treat! And to our delight, she also made 2 extra loaves for DH and I to take home. This is what we have enjoyed several times since returning home. YUMMO!! Thank you again Carolee! OOPS! Now I need to back up a bit. When we arrived at Kathy and Stephen's beautiful Home on the Hill on Saturday, a beautiful sunny morning, people we already lining up at the door to buy the goods. David and I knew how hard Stephen had worked for many weeks making things in his workshop, so it was a lot of fun seeing the excitement build. And there in the middle of the crowd was Kathy!! I was so eager to jump out of the car to greet her. It was only the second time since meeting over at Webshots in the fall of of 07 that we actually met in person. I was so happy to see her and then to introduce Kathy and Stephen to my DH. After our introductions and hugs and greetings, I caught my breath as I realized I was in the home I had seen literally hundreds and hundreds of times in pictures we exchanged via email (LOL almost daily sometimes!) and through Webshot albums. Oh I just about squealed!! I couldn't see enough fast enough. I knew that in moments the doors would open and people would come pouring in so I tried to soak it all in. And I have to say, as wonderful and well done as Kathy's photography is, her home is even better in person. Kathy has the skill to make it look so picture perfect but not feel like a museum. As I was looking around, I remembered back to when she first told me about the color paint she chose for all the walls. She said she wanted it to look cozy and soft and warm and 'candle lit' and indeed, it does. It is the perfect back drop for all of Kathy and Stephen's family treasures, hand made and hand stitched pieces and wonderful prims and colonial collections.
Pretty soon the doors opened and we were so busy with the Open House sale and meeting so many of Kathy and Stephen's friends, including Carolee and her charming son Jacob, that it was quite awhile before any of us thought to take out our camera's. To be honest, this day was about being with friends, not a photo opportunity, but I knew I would be roasted alive if I didn't come back with at least a few. So Carolee was long gone but Sandy and her sweet daughter Tabitha had arrived when I finally came to my senses. It was very sunny outside the dining room and DH doesn't know my camera like I do, but he managed this photo of me, Sandy, Tabitha and Kathy in the back.

It was so much fun meeting Sandy and Tabitha listening to their accent. I am sure they thought I had one too!! Sandy surprised Kathy and I each with a bag of goodies. In mine where this adorable crow stitchery, a stuffed chocolate bunny, some of the wonderful room spray that she makes, some Easter napkins (did you know I am cooking Easter dinner) and a prim candle holder. Thank you again Sandy for all of the delightful goodies and for making the drive to see Kathy and I!!After the crowd dissipated, Kathy's daughter and SIL, and adorable grand daughter Ava came for a visit. Poor Ava was teething so she wanted to be with mommy most of the time, but Kathy did manage to sneak in a few hugs. Is this not a great picture??!! Kathy's eyes light up when she looks at Ava.
So I know by now some of you are asking, what did you buy Linda?? Well, I was a good girl. I let the crowd make an initial dent in the shopping and then I grabbed the pig cutting board, the colonial peg rack and the cute pinkeep with a reindeer that Kathy stitched up.
I would have loved this beautiful black drawer if it wasn't already snatched up, but Bonnie got to it before me. But that's really OK. I am thrilled the sale was so successful for our friends. Kathy and I exchanged some gifts and lucky for me, she stitched up this wonderful sampler as part of my gift bag. I love the old design.
It looks wonderful in my dining room.

Also looking perfect in my dining room is the big candle Carolee made for me. And the chocolate bunny from Sandy.The tapers found their rightful place next to my candle holder in the living room. I still need to find homes for more of my things but some are waiting for a long awaited redo of my DH's office in the coming weeks so stay tuned.
After the Open House ended, Stephen, Kathy, David and I headed out to dinner and we enjoyed a delicious meal and some wonderful conversation before it time for us to head back to the hotel and our dear friends headed home. Yes it was short, but very sweet. Thank you to all our Canadian friends for making our first trip to NB so much fun. DH and I are making plans to head back this fall during foliage season for a more relaxing visit and I can't wait! Did I ever tell you how very much I love the fall??

Boy oh boy - the goodies didn't stop there this week. When we got home, we found our mail waiting inside for us (Thanks to our DD Jen!!) and in a box was another treat from my sweet friend Carol. Carol enjoys sewing collectibles as I do and she had this duplicate thimble keep she wanted me to have. I hung it on my jelly cupboard for the picture, but I think it will find a home in my bowl of Valdani thread. Thank you Carol! It makes me smile!!
Also in my mail was these 2 delightful thank you notes from my buddies Wyatt and Jacob thanking me for their birthday gifts. Wyatt and his twin Jacob turned 9 this Monday. Happy Birthday guys!! I love the notes and drawings. Wish I could have made the trip to Ohio again to see you but I was with you in thought!

And then if all that wasn't enough to make me let out a big sigh of contentment, this week I also received the Feather Basket I ordered from our blogging friend Pam from Primitive Basketcase. I have been watching her creations for some time now and eyeing her baskets especially. I knew when she posted just the right one, I would have to have it. Instead, when she posted this sweet bird pinkeep, I told Pam how much I loved him and wanted to order him but she wanted to send him for my birthday. I tried to get her to accept payment and she would not hear of it. I told her I would accept him but I would be ordering one of her baskets when the right one came along. Well didn't she go and post this beauty the next day! It is even nicer than I imagined. I love it Pam!! And my bird pinkeep looks so nice in here. And didn't she also include one of her really cool garlic baskets as well. It will look perfect in my kitchen with some fresh garlic displayed in it. Thanks again Pam, I love them all!

Before I go, I have to share my excitement about 3 of my other blogging friends. Many of you know the incredibly creative Char from the Pickled Pepper Patch. Did you know she will be doing articles in Mercantile Gatherings magazine starting this summer? How cool is that? I don't think too many of us are surprised because her ideas are just the best and so original, but I know we are all excited and delighted for you Char!!Congratulations! MG keeps on getting better and better and having you as a part of it is proof!

And my other favorite magazine, Country Sampler of course, is getting better and better too! I was so excited last week to get the latest issue to see the gorgeous home of our sweet friend Karen from My Colonial Home and KMPrimitives. It was so much fun to learn more about you and see more of your home. It is every bit as wonderful as I expected it to be. Karen, you and Doug did a marvelous job transforming your home. I love it!! I got it just in time to enoy on the long ride north.

And to add to my blogging fun, I recently rediscovered a home I loved before on RMS. Donna of Country Home 308, now has a blog over at My Country Nest. I love the style of her home - outside it is a quintessential NE Cape. And inside, it is so inviting and warm and cozy and her kitchen is just scrumptious! I could cook some fine meals in there. I am so looking forward to seeing more of your home once again Donna!

Well folks, I guess that is enough for this post. Thank - you to those who are still reading. I appreciate each and everyone of you who take the time to stop by and make my blog part of your day. I was able to visit with many of you from our hotel room, but DH's mouse bit the dust making it more difficlut to navigate and I hate laptops anyway, so I didn't leave messages - so please forgive me. I am getting around to it again this week. We have some family fun coming up this weekend Behind My Red Door, and I am working on baby shower invits, and thinking up ideas for the favors and so many more projects. I hope to share some of that with you when I have some timeearly next week. I hope each of you has a great week and weekend.

Until Next Time - Hugs, Linda