Blog Archives

Family Updates!

Hey, y’all! What’s up? 🙂 🙂
Wow, I could write a bajillion updates (or at least 8 posts) at this point with all of the photos I’ve taken in the last month or two!

I will show you a few highlights, though; it’ll be a condensed overview of what could be 8 individual updates.

(I may double back at a later date to show you actual step by step tutorials on each of the 8 the projects and step by step recipe details, in individual posts.)

1) We made a fun, colorful “puff quilt,” by following this tutorial link: http://handmade-europe.com/2011/11/22/tutorials-quilts Remind me to tell you the backstory of these fabrics sometime!
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2) Garden:
a)My garden, especially the pepper garden, has been flourishing!
b) I submitted one of photos of my peppers to P. Allen Smith’s #ArkansasGrown photo contest and was selected as one of the weekly winners. I received a great prize package in the mail shortly thereafter!
c) I sure enjoy late season rose blooms and playing around with photo editing apps!

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3) One of my favorite herbs this year is Pineapple Sage! I bought it as a little starter Bonnie plant, and it has grown to 3′-4′. I’ve especially liked using it in “Brown Butter Sage Chicken!” I cook it until the Sage gets crispy! Yummm! I follow this recipe link: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dinner/5-minute-brown-butter-chicken-and-crispy-sage.html

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4) In house decor news, I’ve purchased a new pair of long sofas for the living room and a new coffee table. I posted our old sectional sofa on Craigslist and Facebook to sell, and it sold the first day. However, it’ll be 6-8 weeks until the new LaZBoy sofas arrive! Oops! Haha! The coffee table has arrived, though:

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5) We also decided to paint the ceilings in the foyer, living room, and office a dark green! It doesn’t darken the room, but it does make the 10′ ceilings seem even higher! The Living Room has windows that are almost floor to ceiling spanning one wall, lights in the ceiling fan, and a pair of wall sconces, so it is sufficiently bright! Here it is:

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6) Our 3 girls are all flourishing! We received their benchmark standardized test scores from Spring testing; Caroline and Abigail have “Wow’d” me again! They both scored hundreds of points above state averages in Literacy. They also BOTH scored in the upper 90-99th percentile in every subject, nationally. Amazing, just amazing little girls they are! Caroline, 7th grade, has been invited to participate in Duke University’s talent identification program (TIP!) YaY!! Veronica, 3, stays busy playing with building blocks, puzzles, and her Nabi tablet, patiently waiting to be old enough to take standardized tests, too! Love:

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7) What else? Oh, yeah! We reupholstered another chair! I asked Baby Veronica to me find something green in Hancock Fabric Store, and she picked this green butterfly upholstery fabric, so we went with green butterfly fabric for the chair that sits in the foyer. It’s kind of an entry way into the library. We also covered the desk shroud! See:

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8) This morning, Mitch got up early to make Cinnamon Sticky Buns from scratch for us girls! Lucky, lucky girls we are!! I sure love him! He used the recipe from this link: http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/21461/ooey-gooey-cinnamon-buns

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So, that’s what’s been going on around here!

I hope autumn is going well for you and yours, too!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

“Newsworthy!” It’s HOT outside!

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With temps in the mid and upper 90s and heat indexes beyond that, everyone wants to talk weather! Whew! It’s hot out there!! #arkansas
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While I may be grumpy about feeling like I’m melting in the heat, my pepper plants are absolutely LOVING this weather! We’re having a bumper crop from our pepper plants! (These are all from Bonnie Plants that we planted in early spring and babied through late frosts!) I see red mexibells, golden cayenne, lots of cowhorns, lots of serranos, and few jalapeños. LOVE!

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In other news, Veronica, age 3, unbothered by the heat, weather or pepper, continues to entertain us all with her antics. Tonight, she put on quite the fashion show by dressing up in ALL of her jewels and parading around through the house whilst declaring herself to be “fancy!” LOVE!

We also finished our quilt! New post, soon! I promise!

Love,
~Amber

Linked:
http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/sunday-link-august-31-2014

Roadside Watermelon

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I’m a pretty content chick.
I stay pretty happy and just go with the flow.
But, one thing makes me EXTRA happy every year!
Do you know what makes me so happy?
Roadside WATERMELON sales!!
Love, love, love summer in Arkansas!
I’m in the Capitol city of Arkansas, Little Rock.
This time of year, farmers from more rural counties bring truckloads of watermelons into the city to sell, and I. LOVE. IT.
Love it, love it, love it soooo much!
I love how fresh and flavorful the melons are.
I love how friendly the farmers are.
I love the big hand painted signs that get used year after year.
I love all of it so much!
I know, Arkansas grows lots of rice, soybeans (edamame), peaches, pecans, pumpkins, and more here, and I love them, too, but it’s the WATERMELONS that get me really excited!
Right now, as I type, I know of multiple locations that are starting to sell Arkansas watermelons and I’m SO EXCITED!
As a family of 5, we’ll eat one or two a week every week until the season ends and my beloved watermelon trucks are replaced by my also beloved pumpkin trucks.
It’s officially watermelon season in Arkansas!
I Live it!

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PS
This post will link with some great blog hops this week!
Pop into the parties at these links:
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wedsnesdays #181

BANANA PEPPER POPPERS!

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Q: what should I do with a bumper crop of Banana Peppers from my little garden?
A: I should stuff them and bake them!

Q: what should I stuff them with?
A: a mix of softened cream cheese, crumbled bacon, & fresh chives!

Q: should I top them with anything?
A: grated sharp cheddar cheese, of course!

Q: how long should I bake them?
A: a 375*F for about 10 minutes, then with broiler for a couple more!

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🙂

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

More questions?
Just ask!
I’m here!

Feel free to pin, fb, tweet it, etc!

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PS
This post will link with blog hops!:
Savvy Southern Style ~ Wow Us Wednesdays
IvyAndElephants ~ What’s It Wednesdays #127
MigonisHome ~ Everyday Enchanting #6
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursday #164
MizHelensCountryCottage ~ Full Plate Thursday
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin It Thursday
FiveLittleChefs ~ Fantastic Thursdays
RattlebridgeFarm ~ Foodie Friday

Happy 4th of July!

Garden. Patriotic Cake. Independence Day! More!
Our family is hanging out at home, today, then tonight we’ll light a few sparklers and watch fireworks! Fun!

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Hubby is enjoying this gorgeous, bright, sunny day here in Little Rock, Arkansas, by repainting our front door and its surround with Gloss Black Enamel. It was a bit tired looking and dull, but not anymore! Shiny, Shiny! Yay! Love him!

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We’ve been picking oh, so many tomatoes and peppers from our garden!
For lunch I put together a lovely Caprese Salad.
(Tomatoes and Basil from my garden, balsamic vinegar reduction, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and my house pepper flakes.) Yummy. Quintessential summer fare.

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Then, this afternoon, the girls wanted to make some sort of patriotic looking treat, so we decided to make a lemonade cake with lemonade cream cheese icing and decorate it with berries!

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The recipe (via Pillows A La Mode):

Our “Patriotic, American Flag inspired Lemonade Cake”

CAKE
• 1 1/3 cup sugar
• 6 tablespoons butter, softened
• 3 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
• 2 cups flour
• 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 ¼ cups of milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, butter, lemonade concentrate, and vanilla with a mixer. Add eggs and egg whites, beating well. Add dry ingredients and milk.
Pour batter into a prepared 9 x 13 glass pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Chill for one hour before icing.

ICING
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 2 teaspoons frozen lemonade concentrate
• ½ teaspoon vanilla
• 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
Mix cream cheese, butter, lemonade concentrate, and vanilla until well blended. Add powdered sugar. Thin with milk, if needed.
*OPTIONAL: Last, decorate with fresh blueberries and strawberries for a patriotic design!

Happy 4th of July!

Please, feel free to share, pin it, etc!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
9pm Update:

It’s that time! Happy 4th, y’all!

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PPS
Love Linking!:
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up

Pepper is in the Air ‘Round Here

DIY pepper flakes

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I’m trying to recreate a gift. A friend of my husband’s is an avid pepper aficionado. He grows lots of varieties of peppers from seeds, cross pollinates them, saves seeds, and shares the bounty from his garden. In addition to fresh peppers, last year he gave us a spice shaker full of dehydrated pepper flakes and seeds. It was so good! All through the winter, it was a great addition to chilis, stews, and sauces.

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This year, we’re growing 8 pepper plants of our own in our backyard cedar raised vegetable boxes that we built last year. Our pepper plants are thriving! Yay! (We have red MexiBells, yellow cayenne, jumbo jalapeño, Serrano, banana peppers, and cowhorn peppers this year.)

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We’ve had short splashes of rain everyday this week, at just the right times, my garden thinks. Just yesterday, the kids spent time in our backyard playing, swinging on the tire, flipping on the monkey bars, jumping on the trampoline in the upper part of the yard out in the hot, humidity all afternoon. The air was so thick, you could almost cut it with a knife. Then, right as they came inside for dinner, we had a wonderful hour long downpour, ending about an hour before sunset. This left us the perfect window of time to pull a few weeds and harvest a basket of tomatoes, peppers, and yellow squash.

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I just LOVE that my middle daughter Abigail wanted to come out there to work in the garden with me, too!

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In addition to eating fresh peppers, using peppers for cooking, and freezing peppers, we’re having such a bumper crop of peppers, we decided to try making our own dehydrated pepper spice, like the one gifted to us last year! This is my first time attempting this project! We’re six hours into dehydrating right now (it takes 2-3 days), and our whole house is filled with the scent of peppers from the dehydrator! It’s not so intense that it burns eyes or noses or anything, but there’s definitely a noticeable pepperiness wafting throughout the house. (pepperiness? Peppery-ness? Idk. You understand… 🙂 )

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The white platter is holding the peppers I’ve picked from our garden the last three days. I also purchased a few little orange colored habenero peppers from the grocery store to make our blend have extra heat for our winter chili! Love.

So far, we’ve simply cut the peppers in half lengthwise and placed in the dehydrator (skin side down.)

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It takes 2-3 days for the peppers to dehydrate fully in the dehydrator we’re using. Then we’ll crush/grind them and store them in a pretty little stainless and glass container! I’ll update/edit THIS post in 2-3 days with our results.

Until then, we’ll be here, at home, totally enveloped in the aroma of fresh peppers being dehydrated!

UPDATE!:

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Our dehydration of my garden peppers into pepper flake shaker form is a success!!! YAY!!
The peppers dehydrated for two days, then I put them into my blender. I then just used a funnel to pour them into their new container! It’s a glass and stainless container that is about the same size as a soda can! I’m soooooo pleased with the results! It has intense, fresh garden pepper flavor plus LOTS of heat! (Two trays of fresh peppers yielded my soda size shaker about 2/3 full.)

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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DIY pepper flakes

PS
Love linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
NibblesByNic ~ Wonderfully Creative Wednesdays
AnOregonCottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursdays
ADelightsomeLife ~ Home Garden Thursday
MizHelensCountryCottage ~ Full Plate Thursday
EverydayEnchanting ~ Inspiration Link Party
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin it Thursday
RattleBridgeFarms ~ Foodie Friday
my1929charmer ~ Sunday’s Best #63 ParTay

A Story of Roses in Whiskey Barrels

We have exactly 5 rose bushes, all of which are growing in retired whiskey barrel halves.

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My Great, Great Aunt Ruby had the sweetest smelling climbing miniature roses growing beside her carport. It’s been 30 years since I remember seeing them, and they’re probably long gone, but when I close my eyes and think back, I can still smell them, like a faint vanilla with a lot of sweet apricot. Whenever I went with my Gram to visit her, they would sit in the house and talk, and I would check out the roses. My Great, Great Aunt Ruby passed away when I was elementary aged, but I remember three things well about her: her spectacular miniature roses, her long, brightly painted fingernails, and trying a piece of rum cake at her house that I was far too young to appreciate. “Yuck, rum?!” Fond memories of mine are these, even the rum cake. Love.

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My mother in law, Betty, loved her roses and grew several varieties. Sort of. She didn’t follow any sort of those rose pruning rules, feeding or watering schedule, or any such thing. She just planted a rose bush from time to time throughout the years, and if any of them grew a flower, my father in law would cut them and put them in a cup of water on the kitchen table. Upon entering the house during summer months, she never missed a beat, consistently saying two things to every guest, “Do you want a glass of tea? I have Cokes, too! … and … Did you see the roses Bobby picked for me? Aren’t they pretty! Come see!” She passed away a few years ago, and Bobby moved away soon after, so one cold Spring morning a few years ago, Mitch dug up 4 of his mother’s rose bushes and moved them here to our house. Unfortunately, with our house being on top of a hill, sitting in the shadow of Shinall Mountain, our yard is steep, and all rock below the layer of zoysia grass, we couldn’t plant them directly in the ground very well. Needing a solution for how to plant them, we bought retired Jack Daniel brand Whiskey barrel halves at Home Depot to use as planters for the roses!

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The roses had been thriving in their whiskey barrel pots, except for one. It had beautiful foliage for the last three years, but never bloomed. Then, this year… WOW! It suddenly decided to put on quite a show! See the roses from Betty are a miniature pink one that reminds me of Great, Great Aunt Ruby’s, a yellow one, a carnival one that changes from yellow to an orangish-pink, and the fourth was a mystery. Well, mystery solved. It’s a gorgeous deep dark pink that borders on being red. It’s magnificent!

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We have four rose bushes that were Betty’s and a fifth one, a pretty pink florabunda, that Abigail asked to buy at Home Depot, all growing in these beautiful, strong whiskey barrel halves. Abigail loves roses as much or more than I do. Her middle name is Rose. (All three of my girls have flower middle names. Caroline Daisy, named Caroline in honor of my Gram, Abigail Rose, and Veronica Lily.)

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Usually, we just let them live their bloom cycle in the yard and try to take the time to remove spent blooms occasionally. Today, is a new day, though. I think I’m going to start cutting the roses and enjoying the blooms indoors more frequently. Perhaps we’ll let them dry and make pretty rose garlands! We’ll see. Regardless, I can hardly wait for my husband Mitch to come home and see them sitting on the table, again. Love.

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Do you grow roses? Do you have any special rose memories or rose stories? Are there rose books you recommend for us? Please, share in comments!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Love Linking! Check out the blog parties:
HowSweetTheSound ~ Pink Saturday
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
AnOregonCottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party
ElizabethAndCo ~ July Garden Party

Uh, oh! Police got me!

Haha!! Keep reading. Y’all know I love buying and growing Bonnie Plants. I’ve told you before in my Kitchen Herbs and QRcodes post last year, that I am so pleased with the Bonnie plants I buy every year! Basil, peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and more. Every year! But did you know that Bonnie Plants is a lot of fun on social media too? They are! I highly suggest following them! There are always lots of great photos, tips, and great projects, too!

Here’s what happened, today:
I posted on Instagram. I usually tag @BonniePlants in my vegetable posts, since my plants are all Bonnie, so they’re pretty used to seeing me and my antics on IG. Well, today, I was having a little fun with an iPhone photo editting app called “Halftone” that allows users to create photos that look like comic strips and BonniePlants caught me slipping from my morning duties! So fun! If I lived in Alabama where they’re headquartered, I’d totally apply for employment with Bonnie. It seems like such a fun group, plus they get to be around all the wonderful plants! Yumm! Love it!

So here are my Halftone comic photos and last is the screenshot of Instagram with @BonniePlants:

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See, BUSTED! Police got me! Hahahahaaaa!
If I go to veggie jail, I’ll just make a salad and be happy to stay!
Love it!

Your Friend and a total Bonnie Plants fan,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Go follow Bonnie Plants on social media! Love.
>

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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Click on photo to enlarge it.

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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Click on photo to enlarge it.

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

Summer Valentine

Cabbage always has a heart;
Green beans string along.
You’re such a Tomato,
Will you Peas to me belong?
You’ve been the Apple of my eye,
You know how much I care;
So Lettuce get together,
We’d make a perfect Pear.
Now, something’s sure to Turnip,
To prove you can’t be Beet;
So, if you Carrot all for me
Let’s let our Tulips meet.
Don’t Squash my hopes and dreams now,
Bee my Honey, dear;
Or tears will fill Potato’s eyes,
While Sweet Corn lends an ear.
I’ll Cauliflower shop and say
Your dreams are Parsley mine.
I’ll work and share my Celery,
My Summer Valentine.

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