Welcome to Southern Comfort!

Hi, I'm Elizabeth and I invite you to grab a glass of sweet tea and join me as I (along with my husband, John) renovate our love nest. We're both born and raised in the south and love to share with you some of our favorite recipes, stories and our life. We hope you'll come back often!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Readers Vote!

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you've been enjoying the holidays with your friends and loved ones. We've been trying to keep things pretty simple around here. We had a wonderful Christmas spent together. This was our first (in 4 years!) of spending Christmas eve/ Day together. In the past we each went to our respective families to celebrate, which was fine when we were dating, but aftering spending our first married Christmas apart, we wanted to spend it together. And it was FABULOUS. Low key. Hot cocoa, sitting around the Christmas tree, spending time with the kiddo's. Perfect.

But other than just the holidays, we've been busy this year! At first, I wanted to do a round up of this year and pay tribute to each of our accomplished projects. But then I figured, you've already read about them, so why hash it? So I started thinkin. And I read other blogs to get inspiration. Then it came to me. I need to be asking YOU, my dear readers the questions about this year. What you liked. What you hated. And, what you want more of.

So, I pulled together another poll, for you. So I can know what you all like. And hate. And all the in-between. :) You can thank me later. I want for 2011 to be so much fun and filled with things you want to read about, not just my rantings. So, without further ado, here is the 2010 end-of-the-year poll.

And I want to thank each and every one of you for reading this here blog. It means so, so, so, much to me that not only do you read it, but you enjoy it. So, from the bottom of my heart, Thank YOU!

1. What is your age? You don't have to answer it if you don't want to, but it would be great to have a guide as to whom I'm talking to .. crickets.. umm.. anyone out there?

2. What sort of posts do you want to see more of? Big renovations? Before and Afters? Crafty projects you can do? Recipes?

3. Do you like it when I get technical and show you how we tackle projects? Like removing vanities, how to remove doors etc? Or do you just want results?

4. Do you like it when I post stories about us? Funny family happenings? Or would you rather it be all business and house oriented?

5. Do you have pets? Do you want me to feature your house, family or pets in my posts?

Again, I'd really appreciate it if I could get some feedback. Y'all are the reason I write, so I want to post what you want to read about.

Happy New Years Everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I've Been Keeping a Secret from you

I'll admit. I've been withholding information from you. We totally have a new surprise in our house and it's been a long time coming. Our early Christmas present comes in the form of another fuzzy. She's cute, cuddly, and super purrrfect! I'd like for you to meet the newest member of the Early family, Pepper.

Pepper has been a long time coming for us. We've been battling with Pickles for about a year now with personality "issues". I'd never call her a problem, but she was keeping us up at night. Scratching on our furniture, sitting outside our door crying incessently, and sitting on John batting at him as he slept. We hated having to put her upstairs at night, feeling like we'd ostrasized her from us. So after consulting many, many friends and our vet, the conclusion was Pickle was bored. She slept all day and wanted to play (with us) at night.

The good news was, there was a remedy. Get her a playmate. The best news is, we've lovingly had Pepper for over 2 weeks now and John and I have slept peacefully EVER SINCE we brought her home.

(sorry for the grainy pic. it's the only one I had)

Because we're such suckers for animals in need, we too, adopted Pepper. She was born on July 29th, making her about 4 months old. So from now on, we'll be adding another birthday party to the bunch :) She loves to cuddle and is absolutely captivated with computer screens. Seriously. I married an IT guy, who sits on the computer most nights with this itty-bitty 1 lb. kitten on his lap and while he works, she follows the cursor, mouse or any movement on the screen. Totally cute. See? Never did I think there was a kitty-geek out there.. until now. :)

The adjustment went really well. Much better than either of us thought. At first Pickle wasn't very excited about the new "addition". She shied away from her and if there was contact, there was a lot of hissing involved. Luckily, that only lasted about 2 days. Maggie could have cared less. She sniffed Pepper a bit and decided, "ok, another one". Pepper, having never met a dog, was very apprehensive of Maggie and would hiss (funniest thing I've ever seen is a baby kitty try and fluff up all big n' bad for a 70 lb. dog) and bat at her. After realizing Maggie could care less about her, they're all living peacefully.

again, sorry for the crap-tastic photo

I'm not typically a parent who dresses her pets, but this little jacket was too cute. And perfect for watching the snowfall. One of her favorite activities.

See? Too cute!

Unfortunately, now that we have 2 cats at home who like to play, and no one there during the day to supervise, the Christmas tree is taking a beating this year. Whoopsie.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating with your families. I'll be spending lots of time with family and enjoying Christmas with my fuzzies. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a white Christmas and being snowed in with John.  I'll be back next week!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A View from Outside

 Believe it or not, the outside of the house was the first to be decorated. John and I tackled this project the weekend after Thanksgiving. We figured we could keep the neighbors from thinking we're total slackers ;) And it really helps we've gotten several snow showers already this Christmas season. So the pictures are extra Christmas-y.

I used the same toparies from last year along with my ornament wreath.You can read all about how to make your own here.

 I bought the toparies last year on black Friday (aka the worst shopping experience of my life) but I must confess, I'm not 100%  happy with them. I wish they were a little fuller and fluffier. I can't get past the fact that when I look at them I think of toothpicks with lights. Maybe I can fluff them up myself, or should I just save my money to buy some really nice ones? I need your input on this one. But I digress...

Last year I had the idea of putting a christmas tree on one end of the porch. I stalked Craigslist until I found the perfect one. Then this fall I found a 7ft. prelit tree for 15 buckeroos. Awww yeah. I did a little happy dance for the entire evening when I picked it up. It's perfect. Yes, I realize the fake tree is outside and the real tree is inside, but that's just how we roll ;)

On the other end of the porch is a little black bench with some wrapped packages stacked on it.

Cute huh? I love how the red from the pillows picks up the colors from the packages and from the tree too. It's all matchy-matchy without looking matchy-matchy. Do you get what I mean?

This picture I just thought was pretty. Our street is pretty steep so not many people get out of the cul-de-sac when it snows/ices. It's so nice to have our "winter wonderland" a little longer than the rest of the neighborhood.

Do you think we did good this year? Do I need to add anything else? Maybe the tree is too much. Give me your thoughts. I'd love to hear what you've done to your house too!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I need to start this post with a huge Thank You. All the heart-felt emails, calls and comments have both John and I completely humbled and Thankful. We are so lucky to have each and every one of you in our lives. Your out-pouring of love has truly helped us both. Thank YOU!

Ok, now I can put the tissues away and get on to the fun stuff. :)

Ever since I read Sasha's post, over at Lemonade Makin Mama, on homemade laundry detergent I've been wanting to try it. I don't know why, but I was intrigued by it. Captivated. You can make your own? Really? And it works? My inner home-maker self took over from there. I HAD to try it.

Lucky for me, Sasha had done all the hard work. Researching whether to make liquid or powder, how much for each load etc. And her pictures are beautiful. She's genious, and fun, and a girl after my own heart. You must check her out. So here we go.

This past saturday night I went on a hunt for the 3 ingredients.
  • 1 box of Borax (found in the laundry isle)
  • 1 box of Arm and Hammer Laundry super washing soda/ washing powder(also found in the laundry isle. Not to be confused by Arm and Hammer Baking Soda or regular laundry detergent. Make sure the box says laundry washing soda. Ok? Got it? awesome.)
  • 1 10 pk. of Ivory Soap Bars (I found mine in the bodywash/soap isle)

I want to say the total for these 3 items was around $12 buckeroos. Even more awesome-er.

So after gathering my items in my buggy and being on the verge of annoying with excitment (Yes, I know, it's a sickness to be this excited about laundry detergent). I skipped home and couldn'tgetinthedoorfastenoughtogetstarted. :) I'm pretty sure the cheese and butter had to be put away by John because I dropped the rest of the bags of groceries on the floor. Hehe.

So here goes.
The long-awaited recipe. And I don't blame you for not reading all the stuff leading up to this point. :)

Original Recipe
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Powder
1 Bar Ivory soap, Grated

Mix well with a wisk. Or your fingers, because I like getting my hands dirty.
For each load of laundry use 1 Tbsp. of powder (for a energy efficient model) Because we still yearn for one of those and still have top loaders, I use about 1/4 cup. Which is still waaaaay less than what I use when I buy the bottled stuff.

I bought a really pretty jar from Walmart to put it in. Because I'm an over acheiever. But you could easily use tupperware or anything with a lid.
But when I put in the recipe above I only filled about 1/8th of the jar. So I ended up quadruple-ing the recipe.

This stuff smells just like my Gram's laundry. I remember cuddling up in blankets when I was little and this is THE SMELL from those blankets. The Gram smell. I'm hooked. And just for extra goodness, it's also safer on the environment, and about $0.04 per load.

I'd say it's worth the 5 minutes of prep. I can get on board with that. And best of all, now I have a pretty jar sitting on my dryer and not that jug of bright blue/orange/green. It's the little pretty things that get me. Every. Single. Time.

In case your wondering, because I know I did, I still use my stain remover spray or bleach  if I need it. This is just detergent and isn't a cure-all for all your laundry needs. I'm still researching that ;)

I do hope you'll try this recipe. I am just so excited to share it with you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

And the Angel Said Unto Her...

It's Christmas. The holiday of Joy, of peace, of laughter, of magic. My favorite holiday of the year. As I grow older, each season is different. As a child, I can remember the excitement and the wonder of Christmas. Barely being able to sleep at night, being so excited about Santa, and Christmas lights, and magical trees, and family fun that I couldn't contain myself.

Growing up my parents tried very hard to instill in my siblings and I that Christmas is a season, not a day. Christmas is about celebration. About life. And about Jesus. Yes, the presents were looked forward to, but not a necessity for us. It was about family. About tradition. It was about baking cookies together for loved ones, wrapping gifts, singing happy tunes, family gatherings and giggling at the kids table. It was about celebrating Jesus.

Now that I'm an adult, I still adore the lights and I still yearn for the silly-goodness the holidays bring. But the older I get, the more the season means to me. People who were once a part of my life, aren't any longer. Grandparents are gone, but their memory lives on. Christmas is about gathering. About celebrating.
It's not about gifts anymore. It's about quality time with those you love. It's about food. love and laughter. It's about cuddling up close with a warm blanket and a warm cup of cocoa and being thankful for your blessings.

John and I have been through some very difficult times over the past month. We've had to make decisions about our family. About our values. About where God is taking us. We've discussed whether we're reaping or sowing. We've discussed if we're following God's plan. A lot of this weight has fallen on John's shoulders and I hate that for him. The holidays are to be fun and light. I can see he is struggling. I see it in his eyes. I see it in the way he carries himself. I see it with every long sigh, every forced laugh at something he used to always think was funny. I see the pain.
This year Christmas is so different. Because my sweet husband is struggling. We didn't even want to put up a tree. It was like it took too much effort. We aren't having a holiday party. We aren't having people over to see our decorations. So putting up a tree and all the decorations seemed fruitless. We did decide to buy a tree and put it up (at last, it happened last night) but we didn't even pull out all the ornaments. The tree only has the minimum about of lights on it. Everything seems so solumn.

I want to bring cheer back into our lives. I want to bring back the light. I want to enter into all the fabulous blog-y parties there are out there for holiday decorations, but I don't know. I don't know how to mend him. I don't know if it's worth it now to pull everything out, take pictures, edit, and post. I don't even know if enough people read this little blog to care. Now, Sure I can be there for John. I can be his best friend, and listen, talk and be his rock. I'm good at that. But I don't know how to fix broken. Is it time? Sleep? Prayer? I don't know, so I pray. I pray for him. Day and night. To find his path. To find his feet. To find his giggle box again.

I want to bake him all his favorite  holiday goodies. I want to bring the cheer back into his eyes. But to be completely honest, he's beginning to bring me down. I thought to myself this morning on my drive to work, why should I do so much hard work when I'm not sure he'll enjoy it? It would be so much easier to "skip" a lot of the holiday preparation and not have to "worry" about it. I don't mention my beliefs much (or at all) on the blog, because I want this to be a place for people to come for inspiration about their home, and not have to sift through scripture. But today I feel so strongly about this I needed to say something. God smacked me. Hard. It was like he spoke right into my ear.
He said, "Elizabeth, of course you have to prepare! You have to prepare for Christmas because you are John's eyes this season. He may not have the drive to do it, but that means you have to drive for him. You are his advocate to bring Christmas back. Celebrate baby Jesus' birth. If you don't, who will?"

So today, I'm putting my Santa hat on and getting busy. Regardless of whether I "feel" like it or not. I have to. For God. For Jesus. And for John. After all, it's Christmas.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Peppermint Inspired Mantle

All week my goal was to have the mantle decorated so I can participate in Layla's Mantle party over at her place, The Lettered Cottage.

The Lettered Cottage

Well, what-da-ya know, I'm late. Story of my life this week. But I *finally* have it done and I'm SO EXCITED!
Ever since I dreamed (yes, I really dreamed it) of red and white holiday decor I knew I had to do it! So here she is, all dressed up for Santa.

Isn't she cute!?! I love, love, love it!

Here are a few more pictures, just for fun :)

So glittery. I made the cones out of styrofoam from Michaels. I smeared them with glue and carefully poured glitter over them. It took a couple days for the red/white one because I had to do it in layers. I wish I took pictures of it, but I was in a hurry to get it done. I know, bad blogger.

The banner I made with my Cricut cutter. Looove.
See those branches in the photo below? I spent the afternoon wrangling branches from a tree in our backyard. Do you know how hard it is to break up branches and keep the dog from chewing them up? Hard. She's a fast little girl!
Once I got them together, I spray painted them white, then sprayed them with Santa Snow.
I like them on the mantle, and they definatley balance the decor, but I think they need something. Maybe small ornaments? Some small candy canes? I'd love to know what y'all think.

And just so you know, I do have the mantle done, but the rest of my house is a wreck! The fall decor is still sitting here:

It appears a tornado hit the coffee table. I will say, I'm loving re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Perfect Christmas books.

And My kitchen table looks like this:

But the mantle's done!

Hopefully we can keep the holiday decorations going and get the tree up soon :)
Stay tuned!
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