Monday, February 21, 2011

Looking back - Berkshires Weekend

Our visit to Stowe, VT last month got us talking about some past road trips.  We didn't blog back then so I've decided to share one today while I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.

In mid April 2009,  Jake and I visited the Berkshires in western Massachusetts for the first time.  It was a last minute trip and we stayed three nights at a quaint B&B on a working dairy farm in Williamstown, MA.


The B&B is basically an apartment located in an old farmhouse on a dirt road across from horse stables.  There were only two B&B rooms, no locks on the doors, no TVs, no internet, and it was so quiet at night that we felt compelled to whisper in our room so we wouldn't disturb the owners.

Unlike our trip to Vermont later in 2009, I actually took my camera out a couple times in MA.  All these photos were taken with my old pink camera and are unedited.

This was our bedroom.  Our detached bath was downstairs.

The fresh, homemade breakfast breads that Jamie left for us each morning were fabulous.  The other B&B room was only occupied one night during our stay.  I'll admit that we avoided seeing the other couple at breakfast downstairs.  We do not enjoy morning conversations with strangers.

breakfast area

living area

The black appliance below is a mini fridge not a dishwasher.

Hallway to our guest room's bathroom and the separate owners' quarters downstairs.  

We had a reason to avoid the other couple on Sunday morning.  When they arrived Saturday evening, Jake and I were in the living area playing deluxe travel Scrabble.  We had some awkward chitchat with them about the Berkshires, finished up our game, and went upstairs for the evening.  Jake ran downstairs before bed to use the private bathroom (the one assigned to our guest room).  The guy from the other couple was waiting for Jake right outside the bathroom door.  Jake was startled (and annoyed) by him.  The guy was waiting in the dark hallway because he wanted to know if there was a freezer for his ice cream.  Jake gave him a mini-tour of the common area and bolted back upstairs before finding out if the guy's ice cream would fit in the tiny freezer compartment.  Jake came into our room, collapsed onto the bed in silent laughter, and relayed the story to me.  We joked about what we could put in front of the door to keep him from coming in our room while we slept (no door locks) and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.  You probably had to be there.  :)  

The hall and stairs outside our bedroom.

I just remembered that I read Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff during our stay.

One morning we walked around the fields while enjoying the mountain views.  Since it is a working farm, we steered clear of the cows and other animals so we wouldn't get in the way.  The Cabot dairy trucks and the smelly manure truck came by during our visit.    

These photos remind me of where I grew up.

By the third night of our getaway, I was getting a little cagey about being out of touch and I really wanted to watch the Amazing Race that night.  It was a season that I actually had someone to root for unlike the most recent season.  Anyway, we randomly selected a place for dinner and the restaurant happened to have TVs at every table.  I hadn't seen a TV in days and now we had one of our very own and we could watch any channel we wanted.  Yay!  The Amazing Race wasn't going to be on for over an hour.  Boo!  Well, let me tell you, I've never made a meal last so long.  I took my time ordering, eating, and then ordered dessert.  I don't remember what it was but I know I made that dessert last the whole episode.  The restaurant wasn't too busy and the waitress didn't rush me.  Maybe she recognized the crazed glint in my eyes of a B&B'er that hadn't seen a television in days.  Or, maybe I blurted it out and told her.  Who knows.  Well, I'm sure Jake knows.  No worries...he tipped the waitress well.  :)

Here's a snake that Jamie nonchalantly pointed out while we were packing up the truck on Monday morning.  She said the snake is good because it eats field mice.  Field mice that could otherwise be in the house I was sleeping in.  Circle of life.  Yay.

I'd never seen Runaway Truck Ramp before this trip.  Do you have these in your area?  Don't mind the bugs on the windshield.

Passing under the Appalachian Trail

I had my iPod Touch on shuffle during the long drive.  At some point, a heroic sounding instrumental from one of the Lord of the Rings soundtracks came on.  Jake sat up, puffed out his chest, and held the steering wheel like he was riding a horse to go off and save a princess and it was hilarious.  I laughed and laughed and laughed.

This is the only photo I took in town.  It's for a little shopping center where I bought two painted signs for me ('Giggle' and 'I'm not bossy I just have better ideas') and some cat humor signs for friends.

Melissa and Joe kept Maximus for us while we were in Massachusetts.  Max had an eventful time at their house.  He doesn't do this stuff at home.  Really, he doesn't.  Melissa chronicled his visit on her blog in the following posts:

Have you ever dreamed of running a B&B?  Do you watch The Amazing Race?  Does your dog act differently at other people's houses?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can you rock an apron?

Robyn can!  This is her baby boy, Logan Richard.

Aren't those the cutest BabyLegs leg warmers he's wearing?  I like this pair too.  Robyn's hubby is a musician so we had fun searching sales racks for rock inspired baby gear during lunch breaks.

Her birthday was close to Logan's due date and I wanted to give her something a little bit quirky.  Robyn likes music, skulls, and Gilmore Girls among other things.  Hmm.  I wonder why we're friends.  ;)  One of my favorite Gilmore Girls episodes to reference (Season 1 Episode 14 That Damn Donna Reed) is when Rory dresses up like Donna Reed and makes dinner for Dean while she's cat sitting for Babbette.  Somehow this all led me to making a reversible rock star apron for Robyn.

Rory Gilmore 

Visit YouTube here to watch the scene where Lorelai (Rory's mom) and Luke (who was looking for a lost baby chick at Lorelai's) discover Rory and Dean's unconventional date.  Awkward and hilarious.  "Oh my god, I just noticed the pearls!" hehe

Robyn's rockin' apron has a scalloped hem and one side pocket on each side.  It was the second project I had sewed in nearly ten years and was completed before starting this blog.  I didn't make any tweaks to the apron pattern pieces but I did decide to switch the waistbands and pockets around for contrast.

The first side is black polka dots.  Did you notice the skull and crossbones centered on the waistband and pocket?

The other side is red bandanna-like fabric that has skulls, crossbones, and hearts hidden all over the print.

I made one for Jake's mom using the same reversible pattern.  It was a thank you gift because she knitted a beautiful sweater set for me to gift to Logan.  I used cheerful cupcake and red polka dot fabric for Carolyn's apron but I forgot to take a photo.  Oops.

Pattern info:
See & Sew
Butternick B5411 Apron A (photos on right side in collage below)

I have more apron patterns that I'd like to try and stacks of fabric ready to go.  Have you ever made one?  I'm planning to install hooks on an empty slice of wall in our kitchen and hang some aprons as functional wall art.  Do you wear aprons?  I'm messy in the kitchen so I need to start!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dog Treat Voluntary Recall

A reader brought the following recall to my attention today.  Thanks, Ryan!  I haven't noticed this brand at my local pet store but it is distributed throughout the U.S. and I'd rather be safe than hear that someone's pet is ill.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 28, 2011 – Merrick Pet Care, Inc. of Amarillo, Texas is recalling the Jr. Texas Taffy pet treat (ITEM # 27077, UPC # 02280827077, All Lots up to and including 10364) because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Merrick Pet Care has made the decision to recall all Jr. Texas Taffy pet treats in the abundance of caution. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling the treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.  

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-664-7387 M-F 8:00am – 5:00pm CST.

Please visit the company's website to view all the voluntary recall information:

I forgot to mention something when I shared Lindsey's Homemade Peanut Butter Biscuits recipe the other day.  There aren't any preservatives in the recipe so I'd plan to use up the biscuits in the same amount of time that you'd eat human cookies.  I store them in the freezer to extend the biscuits' shelf life by a couple weeks.  Bru and Max like them straight from the freezer.

Thanks again, Ryan!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Laura's DIY Wall Art, our fabric swap, and blog parties

Laura from Luckiest in Love and I had an impromptu fabric swap in October.  A year ago, I never would've guessed that I'd be mailing fabric to someone in Kansas.  :)  I've mentioned Laura before because she organized the Christmas ornament swap.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I love participating in the Show Us Your Life series over at Kelly's Korner.  During master bedroom week in September, I commented on Laura's bedroom post because we have the same bedding set.  Laura visited my bedroom post and liked our new DIY wall art.  After emailing back and forth, we decided to swap fabric.

Laura's bedroom completed with her new wall art.

If you like the bedding, it's an 8 piece set (Bedskirt, 2 Shams, 2 Decorative Pillows, Comforter, 2 Euro Shams) from Target that's still available here.  Young House Love created one of their design dilemma mood boards using this bedding here.  Jake and I bought our set a year ago and it's still in great shape.  I put the brown section of the comforter at the bottom of our bed but everyone else seems to put it at the top.  :)

The DIY wall art using IKEA frames in our master bedroom 

You can see more photos of Laura's room and learn how she made her wall art here.  I used the same technique to make this wall hanging for our aqua guest room.

I covered a large printed canvas that used to hang above our couch (photo below from 2008) that was collecting dust in the basement.    
BTW, that's what our I furniture looked like before we got Brewster and started covering everything in big fleece blankets to combat fur and big dirty paws.

Here are the Joann's fabrics that I sent to Laura.

Eddie Bauer Blue Batik - clearance find used in the EB Piedmont collection

Laura sent me fabric from Joann's too.

Here's the current Show Us Your Life party schedule:
February 4 - Tell us what you feed your toddlers/preschoolers 
February 11 - Tell us your hair and beauty tips!
February 18 - Tell us about your alma mater
February 25 - Tell us what you make (etsy stores, clothes, bows, etc)
March 4 - Tell us about your family - parents, brothers, sisters - feature them!
March 11 - Show us your kids’ birthday parties
Break because she's expecting to have baby Hollis sometime around here
April 1 - Tell us about your church
April 8 - Tell us mother’s day/father’s day ideas
April 15 - Tell us what is on your book list right now
April 22 - Tell us how you stay organized
April 29 - Tell us about your favorite vacation spots (include places to eat , stay, what to do)
May 6 - Share your home school stories (how it works for you, curriculum, etc)
May 13 - Favorite Main course recipe
May 20 - Favorite Dessert
May 27 - Favorite appetizer recipe

I love glimpses into other peoples lives so the Show Us Your Life blog party series is one of my favorite things about blogging.  If you visit our party buttons page, you'll see that I participate (irregularly) in a variety of DIY home and craft linky parties as well as new friend parties.  I know some people knock new friend parties but that's how I've discovered some of my favorite bloggers.  I have many interests and I enjoy 'meeting' lots of people outside the home/craft blog circles too (hi Kris!).

Do you join any linky parties regularly?  If so, what are your favorites?

Hopefully Laura's completed project will be the kick in the pants I needed to use the aqua fabric I received (need to pick my apron pattern first).  Thanks again to Laura for swapping fabric with me!  :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lindsey's homemade peanut butter dog biscuits

Remember the awesome homemade dog cookies that Lindsey sent Max and Brewster for the Christmas pet gift exchange?

A couple weeks ago, she very kindly shared the recipe in the pet exchange post's comments and also emailed me photos she took while making the biscuits and adorable photos of Jasper and Precious with their Christmas gifts.  I thought it'd be nice to post the recipe and photos for everyone to enjoy today.

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

 Prep Time:
15 Min
Cook Time:20 Min
Ready In:35 Min


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup skim milk


1.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. Stir together the flour and baking powder; set aside.
2.     In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter and milk. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Place onto the prepared cookie sheets.  (They don’t really expand in size, so you can place them close together - about ½” apart.)
3.     Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. 

Note from Lindsey: I used different shape cookie cutters I found to make most of them, and then I had a letter brander for meat when we grill, so I used the letters from that to personalize the heart dog biscuits.

UPDATE 2/7/2011: I forgot to mention before...  There aren't any preservatives in the recipe so I'd plan to use up the biscuits in the same amount of time that you'd eat human cookies.  I store them in the freezer to extend the biscuits' shelf life by a couple weeks.  Bru and Max like them straight from the freezer.  -Alison

 Jasper and Precious are such cutie pies!  I'm so happy they're enjoying their gifts.

Lindsey, thanks so much for sharing your recipe and all these photos!  I can't wait to make a batch for Max, Bru, and all their doggy buddies.  :)

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