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Garden + PicBlender

Here we are in my Garden.

Along the path to the front door, you’re greeted not once, but twice by statuary before reaching the door.

Saint Francis of Assisi gazes into the distance across the Rosemary as you pass.

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As you continue past the wooly lambs ears growing under the white crape myrtle, a dry creek of stones between the green box woods and junipers leads the eyes toward my maiden with her water vessel awaiting visits from songbirds.

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Welcome!

Your Friend,
Amber Hamilton Henson

If you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes creation of the water maiden statuary photo, here is a quick peek at how my finished photo was constructed:

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PPS
Love Linking to a few blog parties! Check ’em out:
Creative Country Mom ~ Home Sweet Garden Tuesdays
HowSweetTheSound ~ Pink Saturday

Fathers Day and Dollhouses and Smiles and

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Weeee!

Tomorrow is Fathers Day, and I won’t get to see my Dad tomorrow, but hopefully next weekend I’ll get to see him! I’m looking forward to it! I wish I got to see him more. Life is busy though with my 3 girls and their activities, and Dad is busy with work everyday and … you know, time just passes so quickly and before you know it, months have passed. Anyway, in honor of Father’s Day, here are a few of my favorite photos of me with my Dad when I was little! Isn’t he so handsome?! Still is!

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In other news, my youngest and I found a little treasure at an estate sale, today! I love visiting moving sales, estate sales, etc. You just never know what treasure you may find! I mainly buy glassware, but occasionally I find some sort of neat handmade trinket. That is what happened today!

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At home, we adore Dollhouses. They’re quite time consuming to build though! Whew! Trust me, I’m on my third dollhouse for my third daughter. I know!

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But, today, we found this tiny little golden-ish house that secretly doubles as a storage box and just had to buy it! Baby Veronica, 3, is thrilled with it! Clearly, it is hand constructed of natural materials. It is just too cute! We only paid $2, but I swear I think you could add a zero to that amount and then double it, and it would’ve still been a good deal. It’s just so cute! Did I already say that? That it’s cute? Well, it is!

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It has about enough room to store a pack of playing cards inside of it. I wonder what treasures she’ll store in it in throughout the years… rocks from the playground? Stamps from birthday cards received in the mail? A favorite bracelet? Ticket stubs from events she’ll attend? (An iPhone? Haha!! It fits just right!) Don’t you just adore little places to put little treasures? I do! She does, too! She’s always moving her littlest toys and costume jewelry from one box or bag to the next.

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We’re in the middle of several fun projects around here, but we don’t have them finished quite yet to show the world a finished product or write a tutorial, so until we do, I’ll just post treasures we find or garden photos or … K? K. And, a big “Happy Fathers Day” to my husband, Mitch, father of our three girls, who makes these projects possible. Love. 🙂

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
My dad is the BEST:
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This blog post is linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up

Under the Dome

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Oh, y’all… Oh, y’all! Guess what I did? For the first time ever, I’ve put an arrangement under a glass dome. I can already tell you that I’m so pleased; I envision buying many more to encapsulate my treasures and little dried floral arrangements. Why had I waited so long to embrace the glass dome, when it is obviously capable of instantly elevating any object or arrangement to rare specimen status? Glass dome, y’all. Glass dome. I’m late to the party when it comes to speckling glass domes throughout my decor, but I’m here, now!

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Hanging on the wall near my new dome is one of my favorite paintings of a barn. It’s a favorite because it reminds me of my Gram, my paternal grandmother. No, she’s never had a barn or lived on a farm, but she loves barn art. For that reason, this painting reminds me of her and I love seeing it in my living room everyday.

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I adore that my floral arrangement is still fully visible, yet there is this protective shield that has the added bonus of being able to reflect the light in a pillar along a curving side and a bright glint as the dome nears it’s peak while keeping cute (but often sticky) toddler fingers away from delicate foliage!

(Speaking of toddlers, I’ve never shown my youngest daughters’ rooms on this blog. This week, I’m working on a fun project of draping strings of l.e.d. lights, strands of pennant banner bunting, and garlands of yarn Pom-Pom balls all across my youngest daughter’s yellow bedroom. Details and photos in a week or so, assuming I finish the sewing and the rest of the l.e.d. strands arrive in the mail!)

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Do you use glass domes to enshrine items? Have ideas for what else belongs under a dome? If so, what? I’d love to hear!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Check out these two free images I found via TheGraphicsFairy, free for my/your personal use: click to enlarge or visit her site for full size versions and lots of other cool graphics! 😉
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What should I do with these images that I’ve fallen in love with? I may just print one and put it in a small frame near my dome or perhaps use one as an image transfer for a pillow?…We’ll see…
PPS
I love linking with blog parties! Its a great way to connect with other bloggers with similar interests! I’ll update this post each day as I link with parties! Check them out:
MyRepuposedLife ~ Catch as Catch Can #168
ReDouxInteriors ~ Best DIY linky #158
ShabbyNest ~ Frugal Friday
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up

ReUpholstering Chairs!

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So here’s the deal. I’m re-upholstering a pair of chairs in this post. See, I bought the pair of chairs at an estate sale for $40 bucks, measured and bought clearance fabric, then took a bunch of photos while my husband re-upholstered them for me! Voila! I re-upholstered chairs, right? All kidding aside, my husband is an aircraft upholsterer by day and at night he’ll upholster things for me from time to time. So, I’m giving you in-depth, up-close look at how he re-upholstered a pair of chairs for me in the garage. You may pick up a few tips, so you can try it yourself!

I’m a very VISUAL person, so first I’m showing you several collaged photos, then text will follow with more detail. Refer back to photos as you read the text at the end. Click on any photo to enlarge it into a new window to read captions! Ready? Let’s upholster:

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Have a Plan: I used multiple fabrics, so we measured individual components of the chair.

Tools: Gather your tools! A few hand tools, a pneumatic staple gun, and an industrial sewing machine with an optional double welt cord foot.

Tear it apart: Only after you’ve taken all of your measurements, made any necessary patterns*, and taken plenty of “before” photos, should you begin tearing apart the upholstery. Now, have fun tearing it apart! Be sure to remove all old staples, too!

(If you’re only using one fabric, you may find the fabric estimating photo helpful.)

Staple, Staple, Staple: assuming you paid attention to the order you removed the previous upholstery, staple your new upholstery in reverse order, adding polyester as needed. For these chairs, the seat was first, then the bottom boxing, then the arms, then…

Channels: Make a pattern for the channels (tubes.) Trace the pattern onto front fabric and a backing fabric. Cut fabrics for the channels (tubes.) Sew front fabrics to backing fabrics, creating channels (tubes.) Sew the channels together. Staple to chair.

Wrap the Back: more stapling, using cardboard tack strip for folds and edges as needed. Don’t trim to short, because you need to be able to fold the fabric under to go around the legs neatly.

Repeat: second chair. Everyone likes a matched pair of chairs, right? When working with patterned fabric(s), be sure to pay particular attention to alignment!

Finish with Welt Chord: cut strips of fabric, sew double welt cord, trim excess fabric, and attach to chairs via glue or staples (between cords) to finish all edges!

Photograph your finished chairs! 🙂

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Please, leave a comment so that I know you’ve visited, (I LOVE comments), feel free to share it on social media, or if you have specific Questions for your project, just email me! My email address is on my ABOUT page. Feel free to click around all of the blog while you’re here visiting WhatAmberLoves! You might like my Decor and Crafts page with the room tours and other tutorials, too! 🙂

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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Guess what? This post is featured and linked another blog! I linked to a blog party and was chosen as a feature! Click on the square button below this text to be re-directed to her blog!

I’m linking with some great blog parties! Check them out! (I’m updating this post as I link each day this week!)
MyRepurposedLife ~ Catch As Catch Can
ACreativePrincess ~ Party #160
BeyondThePicketFence ~ Under $100 link party
RedouxInteriors ~ Best DIY linky party #156
TheHappyScraps ~ Creative Exchange
TheBrambleBerryCottage ~ Time Travel Thursday
FrenchCountryCottage ~ Feathered Nest Friday
MissMustardSeed ~ Furniture Feature Friday
RootedInThyme ~ Simple & Sweet
TaterTotsAndJello ~ Link Party Palooza
TwiggStudios ~ Our Sunday Best Showcase
Nifty Thrifty Things ~ Sunday #158
My1929Charmer ~ Sunday’s Best Par-Tay
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link
IShouldBeMoppingTheFloor ~ Inspiration Monday
ModVintageLife ~ Mod Mix Monday #155
ElizabethAndCo ~ Be Inspired #121
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday #172
MarigoldsLoft ~ Tutorial Thursdays
FunkyJunkInteriors ~ #242

DOLMA! (Lamb in GrapeLeaves!)

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LAMB DOLMAS

1 1⁄2 Lb lean ground lamb
1⁄2 medium sized leek (finely chopped)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 lemons (zested and juiced)
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs
small handful of mint leaves (chopped)
small handful parsley (chopped)
small handful fresh dill (chopped)
2 tsp mustard
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper to your liking
1 jar grape leaves (drained of brine and soaked in fresh cold water)

*Place a medium to large size sauté pan over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of grape seed or olive oil and lightly cook leeks and garlic till softened but not browned (about 5 minutes), to cool. set aside
*After allowing leeks to cool, add all ingredients except grape leaves in a sufficient mixing bowl. Begin to mix filling until just thoroughly combined making sure not to over mix . *Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
*Lay out a clean towel or some paper towel. One at a time, take a grape leave, place shiny side down on towel stem facing yourself. Add a couple small spoonfuls of lamb mixture to center of grape leaf. Firmly tuck in left and right side of leaf, then with both of your thumbs tightly roll forward. (You can do this one by one or lay ten leaves out at a time)
*Place each dolma on a lightly sprayed (with olive oil) sheet pan seam side down. Place sheet pan on middle rack in a preheated 400 oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until internal tem- perature is 140 degrees.
Makes 25-30 dolmas. ENJOY!

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🙂
~Amber Hamilton Henson
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Happy National Margarita Day!

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Happy National Margarita Day! Feb 22, 2014!

Margarita Night!

5 rings fresh pineapple
3 Tbsp Orange Liqueur
3 Tbsp simple syrup
2 Tbsp Agave nectar
4 Tbsp lime juice
8 Tbsp tequila
3 cups ice

Blend in blender, thoroughly!
Drink. Repeat as needed!
(Please, drink responsibly!)

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Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

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I LOVE It!! Really, really loved it!! It is by far, my favorite new soup discovery!!

Adapted from AllRecipes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS: (makes 6 servings)

1) Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

2) In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Finally, stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.

Last night, I’d originally planned to make Sriracha Fig Jam Chicken Wings, but then I remembered that my daughter was cheering at her middle school home basketball game, so I wouldn’t be home to cook. (Stay tuned for the Wings, they’re happening soon, though.) Hubby to the rescue! He offered to cook!! I thought a soup might be a good idea, since its hard to predict exactly when daughter and I would be home… He made mushroom soup for me, and it was AMAZING! Not only was the soup amazingly yummy, it was pretty cool that he found the recipe and made it just for me and daughter, because we LOVE mushrooms. He doesn’t eat them! As a matter of fact, he avoids them at all costs, the same way I avoid all seafood and fish!! Yet, he made mushroom soup for me!! Is there anything hotter than a hot guy in the kitchen? No, there’s not! 🙂 Lucky girls we are!! We loved the “Hungarian Mushroom Soup!!” Thanks, Mitch! We give you 5 of 5 stars!!

~Amber

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PS
Want to see what else is cooked in this house? Check my recipes page or find me on Pinterest.
This recipe will link to other blogs and will be updated with those links at the bottom of the post:

SMOTHERED CABBAGE

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Smothered Cabbage:

Some things you just grow up eating, never referring to a recipe, just cooking it the way it has always been cooked. This is one of those things for me, but here is my best attempt to give you my recipe and directions for preparation of “Smothered Cabbage.”

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1 medium to large head of green cabbage
6 slices bacon, each cut into 8 pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 Serrano pepper, finely diced
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sugar

Discard the first few outer cabbage leaves. Cut your cabbage into bite sized pieces.

Fry bacon in a large pot until it is *almost* crisp. Add onions and Serrano pepper into the pan with the bacon; sauté for 5-7 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the cabbage and sprinkle with s&p and sugar. Toss and stir, coating all pieces of cabbage in the bacon drippings and onions. Cover, and simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until cabbage is tender, lifting lid to toss and re-coat the cabbage every few minutes. Keeping the cover on as much as possible is important to keep it from drying out.

* This is my best estimate for seasonings—I always taste and season while cooking. You can adjust heat by using more or less Serrano peppers and including seeds or not to preference. 🙂 In most cases, I’m not a fan of adding sugar to vegetables, but I do LOVE it here. It makes all the difference in this cabbage!!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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Please feel free to share!! 🙂

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PS
This post will link! Please, visit the links at your leisure:
arkansaswomenbloggers’ sunday-link-up

Herbal Tea!

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Herb Tea in a Brandy Glass? Yep. Why not? Yep; hold it by the stem while the tea is really hot, then move upward when comfortable. Cold hands = not fun. Warm hands? Yes, please!!

Hey! It’s freezing here. Literally. With lows in the 20s, here in Arkansas. Brrrrr, RABBIT!
How do you keep warm when it is this cold outside (or colder)?
Me? Hot Tea! Love it!!

I make my own peppermint tea, usually. It is just dried mint leaves (sweet mint, orange mint, and peppermint) that I grew this summer. The plants are pretty dormant with minimal green leaves, right now, but they’ll be back this coming Spring! This fall, I harvested lots of leaves and flowers, let them dry on a screen, and now I’m using them for tea all winter. Love.

As much as I love my homegrown mint tea, it is awesome to have variety!

On that note, today my daughters and I went downtown to visit a new store downtown, Dandelion Tea & Spice Company. Find them, here. It is a GREAT little shop that is stocked floor to ceiling with teas, spices, & medicinal concoctions. The proprietor tells me that soon they’re going to stock essential oils, too! Yay!

We bought 3 neat tea blends and a crystal / ammo casing necklace from the neighboring shop, Freckled Frog.

The 3 tea blends that I bought from Dandelion:

“Mad Hatter”: sarsaparilla root, cinnamon, orange peel, ginger root, licorice root, cloves

“Hibiscus Heaven”: Hibiscus, Rosehips, orange peel, lemon peel, lemon grass, lemon oil

“Blueberry Green Kukicha”:

Pics: click on photos to enlarge

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I’ll be here trying to be warm during the middle of winter. Herbal tea. 😉
Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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Sriracha Brussel Sprouts!

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So, I found this amazing recipe. Rather, it’s creator found this blog via WordPress. I, then, found the Nerdsteak.com site and this recipe for Sriracha Brussel Sprouts. Readers, I don’t know if you know or not, but WordPress is its own neat community these days! When I first started blogging a year and a half ago, I always felt like I was talking to myself, but finding other blogs to read and realizing that others find this blog is pretty cool, now!

As soon as I saw his recipe, I knew I had to make it! I couldn’t find the exact spice blend that he uses at my local grocery store (I’ll look into buying it online; it looks like a cool brand of spice products), so I used what we, in this house, refer to as “Rooster Sauce.” It is the Huy Fong Foods SRIRACHA. The results were incredible!! AND, it was super easy to make!!

Directions:
Cut Brussel sprouts into halves or quarters
Coat in olive oil, tossing in a bowl
Drizzle and coat in Sriracha in the same bowl (1/2 cup or so)
Spread onto baking sheet and add s&p, to taste
Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes
Stir in more Sriracha and coconut (1/2 cup or so) and almond slivers (1/2 cup)
Return to oven for an additional 5-8 minutes!

Sooooo good!
Pics: (click on photos to enlarge)

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I served lamb meatballs with these Sriracha Brussel Sprouts tonight and LOVED it!

Thanks, Nerdsteak.com!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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PS
This post will link! Please, visit the links at your leisure:
arkansaswomenbloggers’ sunday-link-up