Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pumpkin spice yumminess

Well, I can't talk about my yummy homemade latte on facebook and then not share the recipe, that would just be mean!  I found the recipe on yahoo and then tweaked it a little bit, here goes . . . 

• 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)

• ½ cup coffee (brew it strong) 

• 3 tablespoons pumpkin purée 

• 2-3 tablespoons agave nectar (more to sweeten, here are your calories!) 

• 1 teaspoon vanilla 

• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 

• 1/4 teaspoon cloves

Whisk together milk, pumpkin puree, and agave (or whatever alternate sweetener you want to use) over medium heat until almost boiling.  Add spices and vanilla, continuing to whisk briskly.  If you want, you can run it thru your blender or food processor for froth . . . I didn't and found it to be yummy anyway.  Pour milk mix into your mug and add coffee.  Enjoy!  

Keep in mind that you may need to tweak the spices to get your perfect mix.  If you have pumpkin pie spice, you can use that instead of individual spices.  And of course, a little whipped cream on top would not be amiss!   Sorry there is no picture of my latte, but it is long gone.  Let me know how yours turns out!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Living room reboot

Finally time for another installment of Libby home improvements, the living room reveal!  Well, sort of.  You will notice that my photos (all two of them) are taken from a very strategic angle.  It's the I'm-avoiding-getting-any-pics-of-the-two-sick-kid's-crap-all-over-the-floor angle.

Just re-read that.  Let me be clear: there is no poop on my living room floor, just giant piles of uncleaned up toys, John's bedding from the couch because Sophia has been sleeping with me in our bed, and general dishevelment of the entire house.

But because there is no better time than when one child can't breathe and the other has hand-foot-mouth disease for a little home decorating (though I could be wrong on that one), I finally whipped up the final pillows for the living room couch and shot a couple pics.  I was going to wait for the "reveal" until I had made the burlap curtains I have been planning on, but as it seems that it might be 2014 before I get to them, I decided to go ahead.

Remember the purple living room?


Well, three coats of Benjamin Moore's North Shore Green (456) later, a $125 craigslist sofa and $150 8x11 rug from, a little rearranging and pillow sewing (thank you, Fabric Warehouse, I love you!), and voila!



So, just goes to show, you really can get a whole room makeover for just about $300.  The art and sea shells on the bookshelf were up in a bedroom, and the bookshelf itself was just moved from one side of the room to the other.  The big splurges were the couch and rug, while other costs were a gallon of paint and fabric from Fabric Warehouse.

All the fabric for the pillows?  Five dollars.  I covered the (hideous) big pillows that came with the couch in the yellow geometric fabric, and the red pillows I had in the blue and yellow floral-ish one.  The fabric choices aren't super practical, so I put in invisible zippers and can throw the covers in the wash.


And if any of you are wondering about my big photo wall?  I have plans for those pictures, plans that include even getting a few of Jude up there!  It'll be in a new location, but that is a post for another day . . . lots of painting to do first!

Want to see what potential your space has?  Give Inspired Interiors a call!  We excel at maximizing what you already have in your home to make your space the haven you have always wanted.  Check us out at or give us a call at 207-632-7619.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I have been pleasantly overrun with zucchini.  "Pleasantly" because all four of the Libbys LOVE zucchini bread.  Today it was finally time to use up my supply (mainly to make room for more!), so now I can smell the lovely aroma of six loaves of zucchini bread baking in the oven.  One loaf for my sister (she loaned me loaf pans as I only have three), one loaf to eat just out of the oven with lots of butter, and four loaves for my freezer down in the basement.

Have I ever said how much I love having another freezer?  Because I really really really do.  Especially now, as I have berries from the summer stashed in it, and this bread about to be stashed!  We'll bring out a loaf at a time, toast slices, and top with butter or cream cheese or peanut butter . . . or even better, some amazing homemade cinnamon sugar butter!


Enough already.  The bread is out, time to give you my recipe, adapted from the classic Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.  My version is WAY healthier, with no oil and half the sugar, but just as delicious.  So then you can load it up with yummy toppings and not feel guilty at all!  Or maybe that's like buying low calorie cookies and eating the whole box . . .


Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups flour (I use half whole wheat)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 beaten egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded zucchini (peel left on)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

Mix dry ingredients.  Mix wet ingredients (yes, sugar is a "wet" ingredient).  Combine, stirring just until moistened.  Fold in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (toasted) if your daughter is not deathly allergic.  Bake at 350F for 50-55 min, until golden brown and knife comes out clean.  EAT!


Maybe you want the butter recipe, too?


Munsell Cinnamon Sugar Butter

1 stick butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Whip at high speed in a mixer.  Store in airtight container in the fridge.  Can be used on pancakes, toast, waffles, and whatever else you should think up.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


A long long time ago, pre-children, when John and I used to hang out in bookstores for hours just because, I found this book.  It was hysterically funny, at least I thought it was, and even though I am not one to remember titles, I remember the title of this one.


I cannot say loudly enough, I am NOT recommending this book.  As I recall, it did have quite the language . . . 'nuff said on that front.  But the premise was that it was a collection of ads from Etsy that people had actually posted and were trying to sell at one point or another.  What struck me the most was that there were a LOT of people out there knitting/crocheting items whose only use would be for a (very granola) midwife to use to explain the anatomy of childbirth or how to breastfeed.  Who knew.

And that was my introduction to way back when, before everyone and their mother had a store on it.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered a year or two ago that there is actually cool stuff for sale on etsy.  

Like this print for sale in my aunt's store . . .


Or these banners for sale at a friend's store . . . 


Or now, after fielding questions about this skirt at Walmart, church, the apple orchard, and a neighbor's yard sale . . . 


. . .you can find a couple copies for sale at MY etsy store!  (Check it out at  I am testing the waters with purple and pink multicolor versions, in sizes from 2T to 4T.


Cute little models, eh?!

That's right, I have joined the throngs, and should my foray into etsyland prove fruitful, there will be more to come.  Perhaps a couple of duplicate throw pillows to those I make for my living room.  Or copies of the sand dollar art I made for the Quiet Room redo . . . 

At any rate, the etsy world has arrived in Libbyland, and I will keep ya'll apprised of my happenings!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The big reveal!


I had no other words to update my facebook status after finishing the project that has consumed my family and me over the last two weeks.  And now I'm still fishing for words, so I will mostly just let my pictures speak for themselves, after just a little explanation.

My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew have been in China for two weeks, adopting my new nephew.  While they were gone, we attacked their house, a la "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."  Except minus the wrecking ball.  Ok, maybe "Extreme Makeover" is a bit of an exaggeration.  But we did put up a lot of trim and a lot of paint!

The kitchen was the big project.  The previous homeowner had started, and not finished, a lot of projects.  Kristin and Ramsey invested in new appliances when they moved in, and got new lower cabinets and countertops recently, but it still had some unfinished bits.  Before K & R left for China, Ramsey and I had snuck in a couple confabs about what they would like . . . a certain green paint strip, and a retro vibe.  Up went the trim, a backsplash, new chandelier, lots of paint, valences . . . add in new dishes and some wall art and voila!  (Pretty sure from Kristin's reaction that Ramsey managed to keep it a surprise for the entire trip!)

In the living room Dad again worked his magic with the trim around the windows, and we painted painted painted.  Big room!  New curtains, a couple rugs, and a new arrangement completed the look.  In both rooms function was our biggest focus, because if anyone needs function it is a family with six kids in the house!

We finished twenty minutes before they drove up, running around the house in a frenzy of vacuuming, washing, laundering, and final tool clean up.

Welcome home, David Zhi Shen Tripp!!!


The blackboard wall in the entryway into the kitchen . . . love it, Mom!  The hands and names are all the people who helped with the project.


The finished kitchen.


Going with the retro vibe, I found this fantastic clock at . . . Lowe's!


We used two different fabrics in the kitchen, both found on clearance at the Fabric Warehouse here in Auburn.  Love at first sight with this watercolor chevron!  


Denise, a close family friend, and I cut and put up this backsplash using leftover wainscotting.  She also gave me a lesson in how to caulk . . . can you find the seam?!  $10 for the top trim piece, painted it up with the Benjamin Moore "decorator's white" used on the trim, and it's the most inexpensive but classy backsplash ever!  Top with Audrey art, place fresh picked apples, done.  (Note the pops of red thruout the kitchen!)


Ramsey is a collector of all things Coca-cola, so Mom put together this little moment as an homage . . .


Kristin had a great metal storage rack in the basement, so we brought it upstairs and made a cover (thank you, Fabric Warehouse!) so if it ever gets a little disorganized under there no one will be the wiser.


With all of the dry goods and cookbooks elsewhere, there was room to display all of the fabulous dishes that Kristin already had.  We used the little green pitcher and blue owl as inspiration for the room along with the paint chip.  And now that the cabinets are painted "oystershell" instead of bare wood (I know, you can't see that they are gray in this picture, but it really is a beautiful color!), the dishes look amazing in there!


All new white dishes and new glasses complement the beautiful dishes and stemware (Top shelf and part of next shelf) that K & R got 13 years ago for their wedding.  The light above the sink just needed a good cleaning and now works perfectly in their retro-inspired kitchen.  And check out that amazing trim work!


One of my favorite details, the new chandelier.  I found it at Home Depot in a bronze finish that totally would not work in their kitchen.  Out came the spray paint!  I installed a dimmer switch (I might be a little bit proud of doing some electrical work . . . and got to have fun using lots of power tools during this whole project!) while Dad put up the chandelier, and now they have a pop of personality in the center of the room.


On to the living room . . . this room has five great big windows (with new trim!), but doesn't get a ton of light in at different times of the day, so we brightened it up with a couple coats of "alpaca" and of course "decorator's white."  R & K had a fantastic 8x10 rug in the basement, and Mom came up with a great new arrangement that maximizes space and gives them two different seating areas.




The checklists . . . can you see that there was one last item we didn't get to?!  Grrr.  (Two items not checked off, but one of them we actually did complete.)  But all those items that DID get finished on the checklists?  Not at all possible if it hadn't been for my fabulous sister Mallory babysitting my kids day in and day out over the last two weeks.  She is amazing with them, and deserves huge kudos for all she did.  And of course, John does as well for putting up with not having a wife at home (Tired of alternating pancakes and scrambled eggs for dinner, honey?!)  Also deserving of huge thanks are Mom, Dad, and Denise for working with me tirelessly to make this happen.  The rest of you know who you are, and your names are on the blackboard wall . . . THANK YOU!

Enjoy, Tripp family!!!


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The one with the hair(cut)

A few weeks ago, my 2-year old niece took scissors in hand and gave herself her first haircut.  Thankfully, my daughter has made it to 3 without ever being so naughty, so I gave myself a little mental pat on the back, snickered a little, and continued to think nothing of letting Sophia use her scissors to make "projects."  She does love a good project . . . like mother, like daughter!

Well, I have had my come-upance.

This morning she was working quietly (first clue) on a project in the dining room, and had stopped calling me to come in every 2 seconds to see what she was doing.  So I said "yay, I can get stuff done" and didn't check on her.  Why would I?  My little peanut would never do something so naughty as cut her own hair.



Sophia wandered into the kitchen wearing a shy, and slightly guilty looking, smile, and sporting a little jagged bang across her forehead.


Neither John nor I are such huge fans of bangs, so have never cut one on the Snuggler.  Suffice it to say, she'll have bangs for a while before they grow out.

What's that they say?  Pride goeth before a fall?

Said scissors have been commandeered by Mama for the forseeable future.  And now I'm off to go do a little even up on my peanut's hair.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Over the last week or so, Sophia has embraced "3" with both arms.  She is more articulate every day, has an insatiable thirst for learning, and desires independence in everything.  And oh, yes, most importantly, it turns out that I didn't know what a real temper tantrum looked like before now.  Because she threw one last week and I have never seen anything like it.

Well, really she threw two humdingers, but the first was the most memorable.  We were over at her cousins house and she decided she did not want to leave.  At the peak of fun times, I was carrying a writhing yet floppy and screaming 30-pound toddler down the stairs to the wagon, her body slithering out of my arms as I attempted to fling her up in the general vicinity of my hip and shoulder.  Into the wagon, belt buckled, screaming all the way home.  Turns out 1/8 of a mile can feel VERY far.

But in the midst of being three, Sophia does have her sweet moments.

Today is a bit cloudy and rainy, so we pulled out one of her birthday presents, a heart-shaped wooden box with paint and gems to decorate it.  Sophia went to town, painting and bedazzling, concentrating on making this the best jewel box ever.  And in the middle of this project, she looked up at me and said . . . 


"Mommy, you need a painted jewel box.  It will be pretty to hold your treasures."


I got a little choked up, I admit.  How sweet, to want to give me her jewel box that she was making.

How to express my appreciation yet let her keep her special box?


"Thank you, honey, that is so kind of you to want to share-"

"Yeah, you should buy one."


And because no "I'm back for real this time and promise I won't flake out on blogging for two months at a time" post would be complete without a little Jude, here's what I see every time I feed the kiddos pb&j for lunch . . . which means pretty much every day.




Thursday, July 12, 2012

I scream, you scream . . .

Gotta love summer fun . . . beach days, fresh fruits and veggies, staying cool in the shade while kids play in the wading pool, gardening (ok, that's my neighbors, not me), and ICE CREAM!  Sophia and I combined picking raspberries and making ice cream yesterday, giving us a sweet treat after lunch today.

We don't own an ice cream maker, so I have actually not made ice cream since I was a little girl.  Then I hit upon this recipe in the August 2012 issue of Women's Day that doesn't require one, and how could I not?!

3/4 pound fresh or frozen fruit (mash up or puree in a food processor)
2 cups heavy cream
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (Mmm, scraped that can CLEAN!)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (No imitation here people!)

Beat cream, condensed milk, and vanilla in an electric mixer until thick, stiff peaks form (3-5 min).  Mix in the fruit, folding to create swirls.  Pour into freezer-safe container, freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.  Keeps up to 2 weeks.


Doesn't get much easier than that.  And having sampled the finished product, mmm good!  It's a great recipe to make with kids . . . Sophia got a kick out of watching it in the mixer.  Nothing like homemade ice cream made with berries picked the same day.  A little goes a long way and is very satisfying, so it isn't as bad for you as you might think.  This coming from someone who usually likes to eat an embarrassingly massive amount of ice cream in one sitting.

Let me know what flavors you come up with, and remember no cheaping out with the vanilla extract!


Sophia helping with "clean up."



So pretty!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

A little Fourth of July patriotism! I found these $3 pj's at Walmart, perfect for those slightly chilly nights that are right between winter 'jammies and a t-shirt. Combined with the flag Sophia got at the Memorial Day parade, this is one cute little guy! The best part was that it was not arranged at all, it was all Jude, right down to the army crawl. Love this kid!




Happy Fourth of July, all!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Back from sabbatical?

I know, no posts in June.

I guess I took an unannounced sabbatical of sorts.  It was out of necessity, as I have been crazy busy with around the house things.  I might not have taken such a break if I hadn't actually written out my to-do list.  But I did, and let me tell you, writing out the list is a BAD IDEA.  Don't do it.

Here's the list that has been completed in the last couple months:

~ Shower invites
~ Prime and paint porch ceiling
~ Make and send kid's birthday party invites (I totally cheated on that one this year and did e-invites instead of paper ones that take me ten years to make.  Haven't sent Sophia's out yet, but they are ready to go!)
~ Smash fake concrete bricks that are super ugly and falling apart off the front steps.  (Ok, so I hired my nephew.)
~ Paint front door
~ Pull off old weatherstripping, put up new, prime and paint.
~ Paint living room and dining room trim
~ Paint living room and dining room walls
~ Make gift for Sophia's friend A's birthday (Dress that came out so totally cute!)
~ Plant blueberry bushes (necessitating that I rip out the random plants that were there . . . )
~ Plant rhubarb (more ripping out of plants first)
~ Climb scary ladder repeatedly in order to paint outside window trim (Not sure how being scared of climbing up six feet into the air translates to wanting to go sky diving someday, but there you go.  I guess I have taken care of lots of people paralyzed from falling off ladders, but none from skydiving.)

Unfortunately, the list of to-do's still to be done is much longer.  Here you go:

~ Prime and paint porch floor
~ Paint indoor stairway trim
~ Paint indoor stairs
~ Paint outdoor stairs
~ Finish painting outside trim, including around windows, doors, and the entire foundation
~ Make curtains for living room and dining room (going to do burlap, it will look so good!)
~ Make pillows for the living room
~ Deal with mysterious hot water heater problem that is making my long luxurious showers much shorter and NOT luxurious
~ Paint upstairs hallway trim and walls
~ Make Jude's 1st birthday teddy bear

I guess the still-to-do list looks shorter, but trust me, it's longer.  HOWEVER, I am planning to be a little less insanely single minded about it as I have been missing my blog-outlet.  And I have a lot of ridiculous Sophia antics that need to be in print.  On that note, if anyone has any hints for keeping her clothed and in bed (yes, she can climb out of the crib now!), feel free to send them my way.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just Jude

Seems to me that Jude has been just a wee bit neglected in my blog.  Guess it is a case of Second Child Syndrome . . . but with Jude hitting 10 months on Sunday I decided to do a post dedicated all to him.  I even edited out anyone else in his pictures!  So here's the little buddy, birth to 10 months.


You'd  never know that a couple days from now Jude was going to turn
into a little screaming banshee . . . 


One month old, in his favorite recliner already.


Two months, hanging in his "Man Chair."  He and Sophia hung out in it a LOT when he was awake.


Three months, starting to turn into the happier version of Jude that we know and love today!


The big man in his first dress up clothes, at four months.


Merry Christmas, five month old Cuddler!


Back in the chair for some six month old lounging . . .


And I know these are the same pajamas six month old Jude was wearing, but he really is a month older . . . seven months!  


Eight month old Jude, trying to work up the motivation to head for the toy . . . nah!
Why bother when big sis will get anything you need?


Nine month old Jude taking a bath, his favorite activity outside of eating.
Especially bubble baths with sister . . . yellow belly = soap paint fun!


Had to do another nine month picture . . . he sits up!!!


Ten month old Jude LOVES to eat grass.  Or anything else he can get in his mouth!


And another 10 month picture . . . frozen custard beats grass hands down!  I guess the upside of being child #2 in the birth order is that your parents are a little less uptight about NO SUGAR UNTIL AT LEAST ONE! and a little more go with the flow . . . 

I never would have thought when in the middle of Jude's first four angry colicky months that he would turn into such a happy, smiley, cuddly, charming little guy.  Even as I type this he is grinning and waving at me from his high chair while he chows down some pasta, watermelon, and hot dog (no comment on the balancedness of today's lunch!).  He and Sophia are great friends . . . we were at BJ's the other day and they kept alternating putting their arms around each other for hugs in their dual front seat.  Love this little guy, and love watching him grow into such a fun big boy.
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