Thursday, December 4, 2014

5 Great Winter Books for Kiddos


The holidays are the coziest time of year, and nothing goes better with all that hot chocolate and cuddling under blankets than a few good winter stories.  We all know the classics, but here are a couple newer ones that we love to read when the temperature dips down.*







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*Temps dipping down is a relative term here in Southeast Texas, where anything below 50° calls for scarves, boots, and soup for dinner.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Refocusing on New Artwork


While I love the sweet, original, appliqués that are in the shop, they are taking too much time and attention away from creating new artwork for Whitehall Shop.  So, I will let the listings run their course, and when they are gone, they are gone.  I will no longer take custom orders for appliqués.




I have loved creating these little guys and seeing the finished projects that everyone has created.  It has been wonderful to be a part of the creative process for others.  Thank you for your business!

This also means that new prints will be available in the shop soon(ish).  I have had lists of ideas that I would love to work on and I am excited to get started!  My poor dining room table will now return to being half family table, half paper studio.  And I am also working on some digital pieces for the shop.

Good things are coming, and I will keep you updated!

P.S.  I also have a tutorial coming soon for how to make your own appliqués!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Your New Favorite Shop on Etsy...

So you know about the shop, right?  I mean, that's why you're here, right?

If not, you must get acquainted.

Her name is Whitehall Shop.  She is sweet, and pretty, and happy.  She likes travel and maps.  She is a Pisces, so naturally she likes astrology and learning about new people.  She is a dreamer and likes to think about new places and new possibilities.  She likes animals, and good stories, and good stories about animals. She likes the sights and sounds and smells of nature.

In short, she is pretty cool, and I think you would like her.

You can find her at www.whitehallshop.etsy.com, or just click "The Shop" at the top of this page.

Whitehall Shop on Etsy

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Imaginary Garden

In our latest selection of books from the library, we happened to grab The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen.  I loved this book.  It was about Theodora and her grandpa.  When he sold his home and garden, they turned to painting an imaginary garden together to keep their love of the garden and connection to each other.  It is a beautiful book that reminds me of my Grandpa Gene.


As I mentioned in my last post about the Chocolate Zucchini Bread, my grandparents in Colorado had a backyard garden.  They carefully tended it long before it was fashionable to do so.  It was a thing of beauty.  I am sure that my grandpa remembers all of the work that went into every stage of it.  I am sure that he remembers what the sore back and stooped shoulders feel like after a long day in the garden.  I never knew those aspects of it.  I was more of a witness and tinkerer than a worker.

I remember one night as the family gathered, waiting for everyone to arrive, to go out to dinner together, my cousin and I sat in the row of peas and picked off pods, opening them, and devouring them by the dozens.

I remember thinking that the cottontail rabbits were adorable at they bellied up to the feast, while my grandpa tried ever thinner gauges of chicken wire to keep them out of his hard earned harvest.

I remember washing carrots in the wheelbarrow in ice cold hose water that lapped up my fuzzy sweater sleeves.

I remember the low white painted wooden incubating boxes that my grandpa built to help along the seedlings until they were ready for the earth.

I remember how expertly my grandpa wound the garden hose up at the end of the day (even our short one seems to manhandle me, more than I it).

I remember the tiered beds of strawberries that never seemed to get big enough before the birds got to them.

I remember lifting the broad leaves and finding enormous zucchinis hidden beneath their shade.

I remember the old metal milk box that he kept at the door to hold a shovel and pair of gloves, to keep them close at hand for a quick session out in the rows.

I remember picking spinach leaves that would be eaten in that night's dinner with warm bacon dressing.

I remember a lot of great things about that garden, and the time that I was fortunate enough to get to spend watching my grandpa create, tend, and harvest with his own hands.  Those moments with our grandparents, spent watching, learning (about much more than gardening), and just being close, do more for the soul than I can put into words.  Even the memories are felt very deeply within me.

I have said before that I get so much from discovering and reading these great books to my kiddos, and The Imaginary Garden is one such great book!

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There are affiliate links within this post, but the content is wholly my own heartfelt recommendation. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


My grandparents had a garden.* I could talk your ear off about it for far longer than you are willing to sit here and listen, dear reader.  I am sure that Grandpa Gene (who grew up for a while on a farm) would say that it was just a small garden, or that it was only average.  But to me, it was perfection.  It was an introduction to food and the earth, and the sublime organization, care, and hard work that people like Grandpa Gene embody.  You know those kind of people...the ones that you think of every time you aim to be better, or do better...he is one of those.

They grew a good variety of veggies in that garden, and on the left side of it, next to the rhubarb (which I never did quite get the taste for), were the zucchini plants.  The zucchini's that we get at the grocery store would quake in fear at the sight of the zucchini's my grandpa would grow.  They were as big as my little kid arms, and there were a hundred of them each season.  So you know what a bountiful harvest means...zucchini six ways 'til Sunday.  

Enter, Grandma Sue's Chocolate Zucchini Bread.  My favorite of all the zucchini recipes.

The recipe makes two loaves, and you can cut it in half, but you shouldn't, and after you taste it, you will be mad if you did.  If you are on the fence, they freeze well, so you can have one for now, and one for tomorrow (seriously).

*****

Grandma Sue's Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts (or chocolate chips, or a mix of the two)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease two loaf pans.
Mix together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the wet mixture.
Stir until just combined.
Pour batter evenly into the two loaf pans.
Bake for 55-60 minutes.
Let sit for five minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a rack.

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*I feel like that statement should be a writing prompt for a book of essays, each by a different author recalling whatever stories and memories their grandparent's garden brings to mind.  I would read that book.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baby Boy Birth Announcements

Well, in honor of his 6 month birthday, I wanted to share our little monkey's birth announcement.  We have friends who just had a baby and her sweet birth announcement got to us within a couple of short weeks of her birth.  That is probably the standard protocol.  As for me, it took five months (so embarrassing).  It took so long that I whittled down the recipient list to only those who would not find it absurd to receive a birth announcement for a 5 month old baby.

Alas, here it is...



I was hoping for an all navy announcement with white lettering (well, really I wanted letterpress...it is always letterpress), but you know me.  Homemade is the name of the game around here, and I didn't want to go out and find white ink cartridges.  And I didn't want to wait even longer for an online printer to print a more expensive custom announcement.  Oh well.

Maybe I should get started on those Christmas cards so I get those out before the New Year!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Butterfly Center at HMNS

A while back I posted about free things to do in Houston.  And this one isn't free, but it is not expensive, and so so worth it...the Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Nature and Science.  It is a very neat place to see, and if you are not near Houston, find one that is close to your area (different versions are all over the country).  Court loved it and despite the plethora of butterflies, she remembers getting to touch the hissing cockroach the most (sigh).

Here are some pretty pictures...just 'cause their pretty.

A 5,000 globe sitting in water that a three-year-old can spin...very cool.
(The butterflies are in the glass atrium you can see in the background.)





And...the hissing cockroach.
Have you ever been to a butterfly center in your area?
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