Life Lately

Lightning Bugs | Hannah & Husband

Fireflies from a current project

I’m not gonna lie, life last week was a little cray. Now that I am (finally) over being sick there was a lot of work to catch up on at ye old HGTV. (I can’t wait to share some of the crazy-cool stuff going on there, but you’ll have to wait until later this fall.) Things at home have been pretty busy too despite how serene that sparkly and library book look…

Creativity Inc. | Hannah & Husband

By the way, this book? Loving it! Is anyone else reading it?

Multi-tasking | Hannah & Husband

This guy. So multi-talented. Some people complain about life being mundane or routine–we’ve never had that issue. In the picture above, he’s game-planning an epic response to the #RockyTopChallenge.

The idea is simple: Pride of the Southland alumni (like Husband) are challenged to sing/perform Rocky Top or give $25 to the Pride of the Southland scholarship fund. (Truth be told, I think everyone is doing both.)

Also on the list of mixing it up a little bit: redoing our entire kitchen. Y’all aren’t even going to believe the before & after photos. Butcher block countertops, penny round tile… I cooked dinner for the first time in the halfway-finished-space tonight, and I felt like I was hosting a show on Food Network.

Cutting countertops for the big kitchen reno. | Hannah & Husband

I can’t even tell you how thankful I am for these guys! They came over to help Husband install the countertops and watching them work together fascinated me.

Tile for the big kitchen reno. | Hannah & Husband

Hannah & Husband

So yeah, life is both hectic and awesome. A scene we’ve been quoting a lot lately…

Homemade Blueberry Soda

Homemade Blueberry Soda | Hannah & Husband

Put this on your list of simple pleasures: sipping homemade blueberry soda on the front porch in the late afternoon sun.

Sipping sodas used to be a more glamorous pastime as exhibited by Marion the Librarian's hat. Don't you love The Music Man?

Sipping sodas used to be a more glamorous pastime as exhibited by Marion the librarian’s hat.

For months now, Husband has been experimenting at the bar with fresh fruit sodas, and I am relishing my job as official taster. So when an influx of blueberries showed up at our house a couple weeks ago, we decided blueberry soda was a must-have.

Homemade Blueberry Soda | Hannah & Husband

You’ll Need…

1 pint blueberries, fresh or frozen
a quarter cup sugar
water
club soda

First, he made a very simple syrup. To 1 pint blueberries, he added a heaping quarter cup of sugar in a heavy bottomed pot. Then, he filled the pot with water until it covered the berries and simmered on super low heat. Eventually the berries broke down and a syrup formed.

Homemade Blueberry Soda | Hannah & Husband

When it had cooked to a syrup-consistency, he let it cool and then used a strainer to catch the berries as the syrup fell into the jar.

That’s it! Just put a few Tablespoons in a pretty glass and top with club soda! You can store the rest of the blueberry soda syrup in the fridge for a few weeks.

Homemade Blueberry Soda | Hannah & Husband

Homemade Blueberry Soda | Hannah & Husband

This post was done in partnership with Darby Smart. See those flutes in the picture above? I etched them myself in about 30 minutes using the “Etch: Your Own Glassware” project from Darby Smart. The idea is simple: You choose a DIY project from Darby Smart’s ever-growing list, and you’ll receive a box in the mail containing all the supplies and instructions (with pictures) that you need to complete the project. This one even came with a practice flute just in case. So heads’ up DIY friends, you’re all getting Darby Smart gifts for your birthday!

15 Things to Do with Fresh Blueberries

A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram and Facebook about a surplus of blueberries that we had in our fridge. This time of year, I am always in danger of pulling a Violet Beauregarde, but I just can’t get enough of the little guys.

In the afternoon, I often cover a spoonful of peanut butter in blueberries for a quick pick-me-up, and tomorrow I’m going to share our blueberry soda recipe. But tonight, I thought I’d share the list of blueberry ideas I got from all of you! Links are there when applicable. Bon appétit!

Happy Blueberry Season! | Hannah & Husband

Favorite thing to do with a surplus of blueberries…
1-2-3-Go!

Make blueberry muffins. 

“Muffins, breakfasts, jams and mojitos no necessarily in that order.” 

Freeze yogurt-dipped blueberries

“Blueberry crisp/buckle. Blueberry syrup for pancakes. Blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting or lemon glaze. Pie, obviously. Blueberry mojito. Or, freeze & use as ice cubes for blueberry lemonade. (Growing up in Maine, you kinda become fluent in all things blueberry.)” -my friend Ellen Foord

Muddled blueberries, grapefruit vodka, soda water, sugared rim–sip

This. But replace rhubarb with blueberries. 

Blueberry infused tequila

“Brew 5 gallons of my Blueberry Honey Amber ale.” 

“Scones for Sunday morning AND cook the other half down with sugar and a little lemon to pour over vanilla bean ice cream tonight!” 

Blueberry Muffins | Hannah & HusbandHere’s our recipe for blueberry muffins, and I’ll share another blueberry recipe tomorrow.

In the meantime, what’s your favorite blueberry treat?

DIY Laundry Detergent

Yes, I know you can find the recipe for DIY Laundry Detergent on any number of natural/hippie/DIY/earth mother sites. So please understand that my intention is not to be redundant. However, I couldn’t resist sharing how a few simple DIYs have so positively affected my own skin.

DIY Laundry Detergent | Hannah & Husband

I have really good skin-it’s combination, free of sun damage, and I’ve never had a lot of acne. But a few years ago, I started getting eczema on my legs. If you’ve ever had it, you know it can be a bit maddening. I thought I’d scratch myself to death, and I had huge red patches all up and down my legs. I’ve used creams from the dermatologist, lotions marked especially for eczema, and natural remedies. But what finally worked? A DIY laundry routine.

Store-bought products full of chemicals I can’t pronounce have all be replaced with simple solutions that *bonus* are a lot cheaper. And, I’m happy to report that in the last month my legs have cleared up! I’m wearing short skirts sans leggings for the first in a couple years.

DIY Laundry Detergent | Hannah & Husband

So here’s our new routine…

DIY Laundry Detergent

1 bar Fels-Naptha
2 cups washing soda
2 cups Borax

Here’s the trick: Grate your bar of Fels-Naptha while sitting in front of your favorite tv show. (Your living room will smell divine!) Then, throw the bowl of grated soap in the food processor. This will break it down so that it won’t clump when you store it. Just remember to let it settle a minute before you take off that processor lid!

Mix all 3 ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

We use 2 Tablespoons per regular load and 3 Tablespoons for a load that’s super dirty.

Removing Stains

Again, there are a ton of fab products out there. Our go-to is Goop. However, we’ve also found that a bar of Fels-Naptha rubbed on the stain with a little water can work wonders!

DIY the Dryer Routine

We’ve found that a combination of dryer balls and homemade dryer sheets does the trick! I covered both of those how-tos for DIY Network’s Made + Remade… 

Click here to see the dryer ball how-to. 

Click here to watch the dryer sheet how-to YouTube. 

 

Belles Love Bourbon

Two weeks down with bronchitis–I couldn’t think of a better welcome back post than one about my favorite medicinal libation: bourbon. I like bourbon for the same reasons I like wine: the nuance.

Lately when I decide to imbibe I usually only have one drink, so I like to make it something that I can sip for a while–enjoying all the little notes of flavor. That, mixed with the fact that I’m a Southern girl, is why bourbon is my go-to.

First things first: Let’s clear up some definitions…

Whiskey

Distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Mash could include corn, rye, wheat, or barley. Whiskey is aged in wooden casks, usually made of charred white oak. Also, please note the “e” in “whiskey” and remember you’re an American.

Bourbon Whiskey

Whiskey made up of a primarily corn mash (at least 51%). Legally “bourbon” must be Made in the USA, and it’s mainly associated with the Southern United States because of its Kentucky origins.

Rye Whiskey

Whiskey with a mash made up of at least 51% rye.

Now, for a few of our favorites…

Bulleit

The daily drinker. The handle you have in the back of the liquor cabinet for when the display bottle out on the shelf starts running low. It’s not crazy expensive and nice to sip after a long day.

Other Options: Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace

*A Note On Jack Daniels: I’ll leave it at saying we always have a bottle on hand. 1) If there’s one thing we are not short on in this house it’s Tennessee pride! and 2) Guests love, and sometimes demand, their Jack+Coke.

George Dickel Barrel Select

Looking for something unique? Put Smoke Gets in Your Eyes on the record player and pour yourself a glass of this stuff. It’s my favorite “I want bourbon but it’s really cold outside so I also want to feel like I’m sitting by a bonfire” bourbon.

Other options for a little experimenting: Blantons, Basil Hayden’s, Hudson Baby Bourbon

*Like to literally mix things up? While I usually prefer my whiskey neat, we always have juleps on Derby Day and at our Cocktails & Carols party this year, we served Jingle Juleps. More on point for my week, how about trying a hot toddy?

Pappy Van Winkle

Ah, the thrill of the hunt! Want something for your top shelf that will come with a great story? Take a little cash from savings and bribe your local liquor store in September to find out the October release date.

Now tell me, what’s your favorite bourbon? Anything we should check out? 

Woo-Woo’s Ranger Cookie Recipe

Yesterday would have been Woo-Woo’s 99th birthday so earlier this week I baked a batch of Ranger Cookies. As I’ve said before, her recipes are always my favorites and this one is no exception. For any family gathering or holiday, she’d bake dozens of cookies (usually ranger cookies and sugar cookies) the day or two before and store them in big cookie tins so there was always something sweet on hand to offer guests and grandchildren!

Ranger cookies were always some of my favorites because they’re both salty and sweet. And bonus: the dough is delicious!

WooWoo's Ranger Cookies Recipe | Hannah & Husband

WooWoo’s Ranger Cookies

Preheat oven to 375°

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 cup quick oats

1 cup Total cereal (then crush)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Ranger Cookies | Hannah & Husband

Make It:

Mix the first 5 ingredients–butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop by the rounded teaspoon, 2 inches apart, on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes at 375°

Makes at least couple dozen cookies.

Looking for More?

Woo-Woo’s Sugar Cookie Recipe

Woo-Woo’s Quick-as-a-Wink Brownies

Woo-Woo’s *Award-Winning* Pumpkin Pie Recipe

 

Summer Playlist

"If your life needs more glamour simply change your playlist!" | Hannah & Husband

I have long held this theory that people who don’t feel like their life is fabulous enough are just listening to the wrong playlist. With that in mind, please accept this little musical gift from us to you!

But first: The best thing you’ll see all day…

What’s been playing around our house lately…

 

DIY Cleaning Recipes

Made + Remade On Location | Hannah & Husband

The Made + Remade crew (& Peter from the Scripps video team) plotting out the awesome. Clockwise from Peter: Michele, Emily, Ellen, and Kelly

Do you remember a few months ago when the Made + Remade crew headed to Asheville? Well, we can finally share the videos we were creating! My series was all about DIY cleaning recipes for everything from homemade dishwasher pellets to nifty ways to remove stains from your carpet.

Above, you’ll find a link to the DIY Cleaning Recipes playlist. You can also click here to watch Ellen’s “Essential Knots to Know” videos or click here to see Emily’s videos on “How to Fold Anything.”

Please take a sec to watch a video or two on YouTube and comment to let us know what you think!

For more great DIY projects, check out the Made + Remade blog on diynetwork.com

The Morning After

The Morning After (the dinner party) | Hannah & Husband

Last night, we threw a little dinner party for a few friends–fried chicken, classic summer-in-the-South fare straight from the garden, cocktails, espresso. Sparkling conversation with good food is the perfect way to spend a Wednesday, don’t you think?

Then, after everyone had gone, we took a little time to clean up the joint. Sure our tummies were full and our heads were a little light, but if there’s one thing that can absolutely ruin a perfect dinner party, it’s the morning after!

So we loaded the dishwasher, changed the tablecloth, and neatly stacked the freshly washed china to dry.

The Morning After (the dinner party) | Hannah & Husband

This morning, we came down to a tidy dining room and then steeped our coffee beside all those clean dishes.

The Morning After (the dinner party) | Hannah & Husband

I think half the battle of having a peaceful home (& mind) is discovering little things like this that set you up for success.


Haint Blue on the Porch Ceiling

Haint Blue | Hannah & HusbandHow cute is this guy? I was trying to take a picture of my afternoon view (staring at the porch ceiling above the pages of my book), and this pic was just too cute not to snap. But for the actual post…

This time of year (or really any time the thermometer reads over 60°F) the front porch is my very favorite room in the house. We spend hours out there–reading, chatting, listening to the radio. I’ll give you a peek at the rest of the porch another day, but right now I want to talk about the ceiling.

Haint Blue | Hannah & Husband

If you call up your house painter and ask for “haint” blue, you’ll find that most of them keep a standard shade on hand. Driving through Southern towns, this light blue adorns the porch ceilings of the smallest of shacks to the largest of mansions. And, like many pieces of Southern folklore, haint blue ceilings have become such a tradition that most people have forgotten where it started.  The tradition originated with the Gullah people–descendants of slaves spread from South Carolina to Louisiana.

haint: a spirit lost in the physical world yet to pass over to the next realm

You can think of a haint as a spirit that you really don’t want to mess with. This isn’t a friendly spirit that will guide you in life, it’s one that will haunt your dreams. The one catch? Haints can’t cross water. So the idea was that if the ceiling of the porch was painted this blue, a shade that is light and slightly aqua, the haint will be tricked into thinking that it’s water and move on to another home.

While I don’t really believe in the superstition, I’m a sucker for a Southern tradition with a good story! What about you? Is your porch ceiling blue?