Grandma Lillie’s Banana Walnut Cake

Grandma Lillie’s Banana Walnut Cake

February 25, 2016

 Banana Walnut Cake

    Grandma Lillie’s Banana Walnut Cake is, without a doubt, my favorite cake of all time.  She knew this was my favorite and I can remember her baking a banana cake for my birthday for years.  Grandma has been gone for many years, but I still remember her thoughtfulness and I still love my grandma and this cake!


   When the bananas begin in the basket begin to overripen, I place them in a plastic bag and transfer them to the refrigerator. Then I make banana bread or banana cake later.  If I know I won’t have time to make them for awhile, I transfer them to the freezer.  When it is time to make banana bread or cake, I just retrieve them and allow them to thaw for a few minutes.


    Notice how perfectly flat this layer cake is! If you remember, in an earlier post, I told you about how to keep your cakes from ‘doming’.  That technique was used on this cake, too.

I love how perfectly flat it is!


   Before this technique was discovered, I remember placing the top side of one of the layers down on the platter, so the bottoms would be sandwiched together nicely.  The only problem was the center was domed so the edges were off the plate.  That made it difficult to frost nicely.

    While I still sandwich the bottoms together, the tops are perfectly flat.  Yes, I could have cut off the dome, but who wants to waste that cake?  

    If you haven’t tried this technique, you simply have to try it!  You will be amazed!


  That brings up another secret I have.  This handy little ‘low tech’ device is what I use to create finely chopped nuts perfectly.


   When the kids were little, they were often given the job of cranking this little grinder to chop up the nuts.  They even thought it was fun.


 Banana Walnut Cake


2-1/4 cups flour

1-2/3 cups sugar

1-1/4 tsp. baking powder

1-1/4 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup shortening

2/3 cup buttermilk

3 eggs

1-1/2 cups mashed ripe banana

2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350°.

 Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.

 Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine.

 Blend the shortening and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add the eggs and ripe bananas and mix well. 

 Add half of the buttermilk and half of the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, mix. Add the other half of each and mix until combined.

 Add the walnuts and fold into the cake mixture.  Divide evenly between the two lined cake pans.

 Bake for 30 -35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Don’t overbake!  Cool the cake before frosting.  The Cream Cheese Frosting below is great with this cake!

Cream Cheese Frosting


4-1/2  ounces Cream Cheese

1 Tblsp. Butter

1-1/2 Tblsp. of Milk

1-1/2 tsp, Vanilla

Dash of Salt

3-3/4 cups Powdered Sugar


Blend cheese, milk, vanilla, and salt.  Gradually add the powdered sugar.  Beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. 

It should not need it, but if necessary, stir in some additional milk, a spoon at a time, until the frosting is of a good spreading consistency.


   Yes, having Grandma Lillie’s Banana Walnut Cake is one of my favorite memories from my childhood.

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Adding Architectural Elements To Your Home

Adding Architectural Elements To Your Home

February 23, 2016

    Adding architectural elements to your home does not have to be a major undertaking.  Crown molding was added to the front rooms in our home a few years ago.  I am not a carpenter and don’t profess to be one either!  I wanted crown molding, and when Dave was on one of his trips with work, I did some research and figured out how to install it by myself.  There are how-to’s all over the internet now.

    The boxes which hold the curtains in the entry were inspired by a Christopher Lowell show.  The transition from the entry to the living room on the left and the dining room on the right needed to be softened with fabric.  The boxes with fabric flowing from them made sense and added a little mystery.  You have to peek around the curtain instead of having everything laid out for all to see.

     At the time the original boxes were made, I wanted them to not be a focus, so I painted them the same color as the wall.  That way, the curtains were the focus and the boxes just visually went away.

    To make them, I just used baseboard trim.  I measured the wall thickness where the boxes would be placed and created a box to fit there.  A flat piece of MDF, (medium density fiberboard). was cut to size and the baseboard trim was mitered on the ends to fit perfectly around that flat piece of MDF.  Wood glue was applied to the mitered corners and tiny nails were hammered into pre-drilled holes to hold the trim on firmly.  That created a box, as you can see below.


    1-3/8 inch wooden closet pole sockets were purchased from Home Depot and installed on each end.  The one on the left is stationary and the one on the right swivels to allow the rod to be placed in it.  You can find them hereWooden closet pole sockets.   Wooden closet dowels were cut to fit.

    As you can see in the picture above, four holes were drilled through the box and into the ceiling before drywall screws were used to secure the box to the ceiling.  Those little boxes worked quite well for several years.

    Online one day, I found and decided the entry needed some corbels.  So, I ordered four.  When they arrived, I played with ideas of how to incorporate them into the design of the entry.  The picture below shows one of those ideas.


    Dave says I go at things like an artist and I am okay with that.  He says it implying that it is something not to be proud of or valued! Well, I laid it out on the floor and thought about it, mused about it, and then settled on a plan.


    The corbels had a rectangular opening in the back.  (Not all of them were the exact same distance from the top, so I had to allow for that when placing the block.)  A block cut from a 2″x4″  board fit perfectly.  The block was attached to the board with two drywall screws.

    I pre-drilled holes for the screws so the wood would not split.  Then, the board was tacked to the wall.  I didn’t hammer anything in securely until the entire surround was in place. 

   A hole was drilled through the top of the corbel into the block and then a screw was securely screwed into the drilled hole.  Another small hole was drilled into the corbel in one of the grooves of the design at the bottom and into the wood trim.  A small trim nail was hammered into place there and set using a nail set.

    A 6-inch wide MDF board was then cut to fit above the shoe molding and across the vertical boards, which would hold the corbels. (This was the only part that I actually had help doing!  Jon-Michael held one end of the 6″ wide board and one end of the crown molding.  It was way too long for me to hold by myself!)  On top of that, a piece of crown molding was applied.

    Back to the boxes, they were just too plain after adding the corbels.  Taking leftover scraps from some of my projects, I managed to find enough leftovers to trim the boxes out, too.  I think they look pretty nice after everything was caulked and painted an antique white.

To pin this, click here DIY Architectural Elements.

   I hope this has given you some inspiration!  Maybe you have more building skills than I, but even if you don’t, there is something to be said about knowing what you want and jumping in with determination and making it happen.   Adding architectural elements to your home is really a lot easier than you might think!



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Super Easy To Make Strawberry JELL-O Parfait Mini Desserts

Super Easy To Make Strawberry JELL-O Parfait Mini Desserts

February 20, 2016

Mini Desserts

    How cute are these Super Easy To Make Strawberry Jell-O Parfait Mini Desserts?  They are so simple to make, it is almost effortless.  All you need is one of the small packages of Jell-O, Cool Whip, and fruit.  Of course, they look really special in these six-ounce mini cordial glasses.  I found these at Garden Ridge, which no longer exists.  They have changed their name to  ‘At Home’.  It’s a home decor store.

   When I picked Sophia and Aidan up after school, this was their surprise treat waiting at home in the fridge.  They could not wait to devour it.  It does look so pretty, doesn’t it?  I told them I had a treat and they were trying to guess what it was on the trip home. 

 Strawberry JELL-O Parfait Mini Desserts - Super Easy To Make! on

   Although I used strawberries, it would be just as easy to use another fruit and Jell-O flavor.  The kids were coming up with ideas for other flavors.  Aidan suggested we make a red, white, and blue colored variation for the Fourth of July.  It would be simple enough to do.  Jell-O has a ‘berry blue’ flavor.  We could add blueberries to that flavor.  Cherry or strawberry flavored Jell-O with cherries or strawberries could be another layer and plain Cool Whip on top would be pretty striking.


Strawberry Jell-O Parfait Mini Desserts

Sliced strawberries – (sliced the length of the strawberry to show the triangular-shape)

1 package (4 serving size) Jell-O

3/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup cold water

Ice cubes

3/4 cup Cool Whip Whipped Topping

Tilt the mini dessert glasses to one side and place three or four of the strawberry slices in each one.  (I used a 3-1/2 ” muffin pan to place the glasses in and tilted them to one side.)

 Completely dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water.  In a measuring cup, add ice cubes to the 1/2 cup of cold water until the water measures 1-1/4 cup.


Add the cold water and ice cubes to the gelatin.  Stir until the gelatin is slightly thickened.  Remove any leftover unmelted ice cubes.


Using a tablespoon, spoon the gelatin on top of the strawberry slices in the mini dessert glasses.  ( I started with 4 spoonfuls in each cup and then another spoonful in each until the gelatin was evenly distributed.) 


Chill for about 10 minutes until the gelatin is set.

 While the gelatin sets, gently stir the Cool Whip topping into the remainder of the gelatin.


After the gelatin is set, remove from the refrigerator and spoon the Cool Whip mixture into the glasses.

 To garnish, pipe some of the Cool Whip on top of the gelatin desserts and top with a sliced and fanned strawberry.


   After making these and realizing how incredibly simple they are, I will definitely be trying more versions.  If Sophia and Aidan have anything to do with it, we will be trying their favorite fruits, peaches, and blueberries!  These Super Easy To Make Strawberry JELL-O Parfait Mini Desserts are just a light little temptation that is so pretty, it is hard to resist.



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5 Good Ways To Use Baskets for Storage and Organization

5 Good Ways To Use Baskets for Storage and Organization

February 18, 2016

Baskets for Storage

    Using baskets for storage and organization is just so practical, but can be pretty attractive, too.  Last year, I saw a post from a lady who used an old crate to store her everyday cloth napkins and some silver in an old wooden box.  I thought that was very clever.

    As I recall, her style is more country.  Mine is really not.   Although I don’t think the old crate would be completely amiss in my home, I chose to look for a basket to achieve the same goal.  This black woven basket caught my eye at Kohl’s.  I even liked the fabric liner!  The black was perfect with the kitchen island and the other touches of black all over the kitchen and family room.


   Our kitchen is not overly big, but it is not small either.  Sometimes when food is being prepared, it still seems it is not big enough.  I really like the little basket with the napkins and the extra utensils in the mason jars.   We serve food on the island a lot, especially when we have the whole family here with company!


   Things can get pretty hectic.  It allows people to grab a napkin and a fork easily.  They don’t have to ask where the silverware drawer is.  With a stack of plates next to the basket, they can help themselves and make their way to the dining room table, the kitchen table, or retreat to the deck.

    This basket was filled with goodies and given to us by Dave’s mother.  Notice it has the black color woven into it.  It sits next to the stove on the counter.  Each week, fresh vegetables and fruits are loaded into it.  I love this!  If your vegetables and fruits are stored out of sight, don’t you forget you even have them?  This really is in my face every day, so that doesn’t happen.


   If you are going out the door to the garage, you have to go by this basket.  We try to keep apples and bananas in the basket for Will and the grandkids.  Will picks up an apple on his way out the door in the morning.  Aidan always finds the bananas. It’s a perfect place to encourage a good snack.

      This is my dressing area with sink and the vanity.  Although this chair was in this position for years, I never used it!  I am too short to see the mirror well.  Maybe I am not the normal person, but I stand to wash my face and put on makeup.  


   This space just seemed so wasted!  Dave cut a shelf to fit the space and we installed it.  That allows more storage on the shelf.  Two big woven baskets were found at TJMaxx, which both fit under the shelf perfectly.  Now extra towels and blankets are stored in them.


The chair is not missed at all.


    The basket tray on the sideboard is a perfect way to show off a little display of spring items.    The daffodils were from the garden last year.  There are a few napkins, which I made from a colorful spring printed fabric.  The pitcher was a find from North Carolina several years ago.  The little dishes are from an Asian collection I have.   The chocolate bunny is actually ceramic.  These basket trays can be functional and it is a great way to set off a little vignette like this.

    Notice the picnic basket under the sideboard?  That was a purchase from 1971. Sometimes I live in a dream world.  At the time, I had plans to take a picnic basket lunch to a boyfriend.  My plan was to use the pony and cart we had.  It did not come off exactly as planned in any way!


  I still love the basket and believe it or not, it stores some of the baking pans and molds that don’t fit so well in the cabinets.  It adds a little touch of red to mimic the colors in my painting.  The painting is oil on canvas, which I painted many years ago, and, of course, one of my favorite subjects, flowers.


   Hopefully, this has given you some inspiration for utilizing baskets for storage and organization.



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Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole on

Breakfast Casserole

In a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish, layer:


6 slices of buttered bread – cubed

1 pound sausage – browned

2 cups cheddar cheese – shredded

Mix together:

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp. dried mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

5 eggs – beaten


Pour over the bread cubes, sausage, and shredded cheese.

Refrigerate overnight.


Bake at 350° for 30 – 35 minutes.

* The pictures above were taken when the recipe was halved.  

You may note the square baking dish.

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Breakfast Casserole
In a 9" x 13" casserole dish, layer:
Mix together:
In a 9" x 13" casserole dish, layer:
Mix together:
  1. Pour milk mixture over the bread cubes, sausage, and shredded cheese.
  2. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350° for 30 - 35 minutes.
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