Wednesday, June 26

Coconut Shortbread Cookies

I've always loved to make cookies for my boys.  Years ago, I made cookies often when their friends came over to play.  These days, I'm making cookies for bridal showers as my boys' friends are getting married.

Married.  Can you believe that?  Boys who used to hang out in my bonus room will now have homes of their own??

Oh, well.  At least I can still make cookies, like these gorgeous Coconut Shortbread Cookies.

These cookies are so delicious yet so easy to make!   Here's the recipe.

Coconut Shortbread Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla extract. Add flour and coconut; mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten in a criss-cross design with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from oven. Allow to sit on cookie sheet for a minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Click here for a printable version of the recipe.

Just look at this melt-in-your-mouth texture!

You should give them a try--even if you're not throwing a bridal shower, they're absolutely delicious!

What's your favorite cookie to make?  Got a recipe you'd like to share?

**Quick note: Click here if you'd like a chance to win a case of beautiful 
blue Heritage Collection jars from Ball Canning Company!**

I'm joining the lovely Amanda at Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading!

Tuesday, June 25

Staying connected

Google Reader is going away on July 1, and I've heard rumors that Google Friend Connect is being discontinued as well.  This makes me so sad!  My followers are my friends, and I love having all your pictures on my sidebar.

I'd love for you to continue to follow Imparting Grace even after this transition.  Here's a way for you to continue to follow.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

You can also subscribe to Imparting Grace and get posts delivered to your inbox.  Click here to do that, or click on the "Subscribe" tab in my header.

I look forward to staying connected to you!

Monday, June 24

Blue Heritage Collection jars by Ball GIVEAWAY

Last week I wrote about the new blue Heritage collection jars from Ball brand canning products.  After I published the post, a representative from Ball contacted me and asked if I'd like to give a case of these jars to one of my readers.

Would I ever!  I knew y'all would love a chance to win a case of these jars.

These new blue jars are a little different color from the vintage jars, but they're just beautiful.  The Ball Canning Company, manufacturers of the "Perfect Mason" jars for decades, used vintage jars as the inspiration for this lovely new product.  Vintage jars are becoming hard to find, but now anyone can have these vintage-inspired jars in perfect condition!

Here's how one of the new jars compares to a vintage jar:

I'm really enjoying using these jars as casual vases for my cut flowers.

See how pretty the clear blue glass is?

You can check out Ball Canning on Pinterest for lots of great ideas using these gorgeous Heritage Collection jars.

And thanks to Ball Canning, one of you can now win a case of six jars for yourself!

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me how you'd like to use the jars.  That's all there is to it!  If you'd like an extra chance to win, like Imparting Grace on Facebook, then come back here and leave a second comment to let me know about it.  The giveaway will end at 9:00 A.M. Eastern on Monday, July 1.  I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner, and the Ball Company will send a case of jars directly to the winner!

 **Disclosure:  Ball Canning Products provided me with a case of these Heritage Collection jars for my own enjoyment as well as a case to give away.**

Tuesday, June 18

The truth about the new blue Mason jars

You've probably seen photos of the new blue Mason jars that Ball has released.  If not, you should!  These are a limited edition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the "perfect Mason jar."  And look--they're gorgeous!

But how do they compare to vintage jars?  Well, you be the judge:

Ball doesn't claim that the new jars are identical to the vintage jars, just that their color is inspired by vintage jars.  I'd say they've done a great job of capturing the lovely color.  Only a vintage jar can hold that beautiful time-worn patina, of course, but these new jars are just beautiful.

And now they're probably available at a retailer near you!  I found mine at my local Target.  The price was $10.96 for six jars (including lids and bands).

As you can see, they make gorgeous flower vases.  My humble hydrangeas are transported into a lovely centerpiece just by virtue of being placed in these jars.

And of course they'd make wonderful drinking glasses, especially if you paired them with a lid that contains a hole for a drinking straw.  If you have the right equipment, you could easily make your own straw-lids.  I don't have the right equipment, so I'm going to buy a package of lids from Etsy Shop24.  This shop is run by the kids of my friend Lisa of The Pennington Point, so I'm glad to support their work--and then I'll have great gorgeous blue Mason jar drinking glasses!  (If you can't find blue jars, Shop24 also sells the blue jars complete with drinking lid as well as many other beautiful things!)

One last shot of the porch:

Have you seen these jars?  Planning to get some of your own?  

**I have no formal affiliation with any company mentioned in this post; I just love this product!**

Tuesday, June 11

Changes in the kitchen

I have a love/hate relationship with my kitchen.  Some days I find myself spending the entire day within its walls, grateful for this big space and all the memories it holds.  Other days I just want to walk away from the room and all the chores it holds.  Do you know what I mean?

I suppose I feel this way because the kitchen is the most-used room in my house, by far.  It serves as the cooking/dining/entertaining/bill-paying/writing/sewing/crafting/homework-doing/LEGO-building room, all rolled into one.

In an effort to freshen up this space, I've made some little changes to my kitchen recently, and I want to share them with you.

New wall color.  Some of you helped me out as I was trying to decide what color to paint this room.  I knew I wanted to stay with a green.  I decided to go for bold and chose Sherwin Williams' Sassy Green, which is kind of a pear/Granny smith apple color.  It's bright, but I like it!

New Roman shade.  I followed my own tutorial for a no-sew Roman shade and made a new one from a World Market tablecloth.  It's so fresh and cheerful!

New room arrangement.  This big room was originally intended to function as three rooms in one: kitchen, breakfast room, and keeping room.  When we first moved in we had a small eating table in the breakfast room space with a sofa and chairs in the keeping room space.

While that sounded really good on paper, that didn't really work out too well for our family--for the most part, the keeping room space was wasted.  So then we had a desk added to the end of the room and created a little sitting and office area for me.  I liked this arrangement, but again the space wasn't being used much.  We were always wishing that we just had more room for eating.  So we finally decided just to axe the idea of the sitting room at the end and make a really large eating space.  We already had a big table:  our breakfast table is 11 feet long with both leaves in place.  Now we're just keeping all the leaves in place and enjoying the huge table.

Told you it's a big table!

New chairs.  To go with the big table, my husband really wanted some captain's chairs at the ends of the table.  He likes to have a comfortable place to sit when we linger over meals.  I chose these chairs from Pottery Barn.  Believe me,  I emptied a can of Scotch Guard on each chair before putting them in place!

New chandelier.  After deciding to keep the big table in place, we wanted a big chandelier to illuminate the eating area.  Of course beautiful, sparkly chandeliers are all the rage right now, but our style in this room is very casual, so sparkly chandeliers weren't the look we were after.  We wanted something a little more rustic--but not too rustic.  We wanted something that would be good quality--but wouldn't cost an arm and a leg.  We wanted something that would be large enough to be in proportion with the huge table--but we didn't want to block the view to outside.  We're not picky at all, are we?  It took a while to find what we wanted, but we're happy with the Arturo chandelier from Ballard Designs.

Here it is all lit up:

All in all, we're enjoying our kitchen more than ever before.  We recently had a casual dinner party for 35, and we were so glad for our new arrangement!

What do you think?  Do you like the changes?  And tell me,  have you any updates to made to your kitchen recently?  Please share them!

**I'm joining these fun parties: 
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now

Friday, June 7

Summer home tour

Welcome to my home!  I'm so glad you're here!

Here's our house as it looks in the lazy, hazy summer days.

The air outside smells delicious right now--just look at all the gardenias in bloom!

Won't you stop and sit a spell on the front porch? This shady spot is our outdoor living room, and it's a favorite hangout in the summertime. Would you like some iced tea or Pellegrino?

Now come on inside. Here's what you'll see as you come in the front door:

To the left of the stairs is my husband's study.

From the foyer you can enter the dining room.  I painted it this deep French blue a couple of years ago, and I just love it.  You can read more about that here.

From the foyer you can also get a peek into the living room, where big changes are underway. I'll be revealing the finished room soon!  Just to whet your appetite, here's a look at some of the fabrics from the new room:

I can't wait to get this room finished so I can share it with you.

Now come into the kitchen.  We love this big room!

Here's the 
screened porchI love this room, especially in the summertime when everything is so green.  It feels like being in a treehouse.

Now back inside.  Here's a look at my laundry room, which I just updated.

  Right up the back stairs is the bonus room. This room is above the large garage you see here: 

This is a wonderful hangout space for our three boys.  Its most important purpose right now is a studio for our youngest son, better known as LegoLee329.  You can read all about his work here--he makes video reviews of Lego sets.

Now back to the main level, which includes our master suite:

You can read all about the master bedroom here and the master bathroom here.

Last stop on the tour today is the guest room, which got an update last year.  If you come visit, this is where you'll stay!

Thanks so much for joining me for a summertime tour!  It's such an honor to have you, and I hope you'll come again.

I'm joining some great parties with these wonderful hostesses:

And I'm proud and grateful to have been featured here:

Serenity Now blog

A Stylish Interior

Tuesday, June 4

Blue Ribbon Mac and Cheese

We had two big parties in the month of May--one for Will's graduation and one for Memorial Day.  And at both parties we served some form of bar-b-cue.  Which means, of course, that we also served macaroni and cheese.

Don't know what it's like at your house, but around here homemade mac & cheese is an essential side dish for bar-b-cue.  It's also a favorite side dish for a lot of other meals, and truth be told it's a fine main dish as well.  But not just any old mac & cheese will do.

So many people have asked for my mac & cheese recipe that I thought it best to share it here.  If you're looking for something fancy, this isn't for you.  But if you want plain, unsophisticated, unadulterated goodness, you've come to the right place.

Blue Ribbon Mac & Cheese

12 ounces (3 cups) elbow macaroni
6 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
4 cups milk
16 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into cubes

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.  Spray a 9" x 13" pan with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For cheese sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan.  Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.  Add milk; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes more.  Add cheese and stir until melted.  Stir macaroni into sauce, then pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until bubbly and browned.  (This makes enough for a small crowd.  I make half this amount for small family dinners and double this amount for a party.)

**Click here for a printable copy.**

Bon appetit, y'all!

Do you have a most-requested recipe?  Please share it in the comments!

I'm joining Jen at Beauty and Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday and Beth at Home Stories A to Z for Tutorials and Tips.