The Shady Porch: 10.11

10.30.2011

"Pink For A Day" For Breast Cancer Awareness

I knew I wanted to participate in the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, Painting the Blog World Pink For A Day, but I also had some anxiety about what I wanted to say about it. For me, there are just some things that I have no words for and this is one of them. I get angry and want to vent and I know that is not the answer. Then I feel the tears and I fight that too, because it just hurts too much. So I am doing all I can, I am painting my little corner of the blog world pink today, because we must HOPE that any and ever effort will one day bring the answer we seek. 


To my precious friends and family...
Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon of Hope by The Shady Porch
Feed Your Faith and
Your Fears Will Starve. -Lucado

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10.28.2011

Batty Glass Block Light & More!

I like working with glass block, especially now that they are available with pre-drilled holes. My poor hubby drilled himself silly one year when we gave decorated glass block as Christmas presents to our families. I decorated the outside of each block with seasonal ribbons, paint, and other accents and then inserted strands of white lights to create glowing Christmas "packages."

A Spooked Bat or A Spooky Bat?! Trick or Treat!
I also make them as game day accents, decorated with team colors and mascots. This year, however, I wanted to make a playful, spooky block for Halloween. When I ran across the free picture online and the bat appeared more scared than scary, that made me smile and I knew I had found the latest part of our fall decor.  I painted the image onto the glass block using paint for glass and tied a bow on top. The lights inside are white with a white cord, which allows them to be somewhat invisible , especially when lit. 

Supplies needed: Pre-drilled glass block, white lights with white cord, ribbon, Gallery Glass by Plaid or Perm Enamel by Delta work great. The rest comes from you..what inspires you?

My inspiration was a picture on Freebies About.com

Here are a some other seasonal projects we did this month...

Scrappy the Milk Jug Skeleton
Scrappy the Skeleton has long arms and giant hands so we're thinking he must have been a basketball player at some point...so we hung him up to symbolically acknowledge the death of the NBA season. His milk jug frame is constructed from 7 1-gallon jugs, and patterns are free online if you search "milk jug skeleton."
Trio of pumpkins made out of scrap wood and branches
This pretty little trio of pumpkins was put together using hardwood floor remnants and branches from our yard work!  They just need a little raffia and they'll look great out front with the Scare Folks who live on our porch!



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10.27.2011

Whimsical Floral Tubetop Centerpiece

I love a challenge, don't you? There's just something about being given a task, a deadline and a secret ingredient that puts a little zing in me! I am like a mad scientist, trying, scrapping and trying again...until I've made something.
It is really rewarding to finish the task, meet the deadline and use the secret ingredient, even though you might not be able to tell.  That was my goal this time, I did not want anyone to spot that the secret ingredient was toilet paper and paper towel rolls. 

Table Tubetop Vase Flower Centerpiece
Having been saving the cardboard tubes for some time now, I had plenty to work with...it is a good thing I did. I definitely went through some trial and error before I was happy with my new flower arrangement and "vase." Yep, I made a 'vase' out of the various tubes. At first I went with Mod Podge and different papers of silver and gold but it looked like cardboard tubes covered in papers of silver and gold. I wanted my vase to look like one piece and not a collection of cardboard tubes all hot glued together and nothing ties parts together into one like paint.

Original vision of
tube vase
I debated on white and even wondered what the new Krylon Looking-Glass would look like on cardboard (if you've tried it, let me know!). At last, the nature of the design was somewhat affected by Nature. Any flower arrangement had to be artificial...since my outside flowers are nearly done for (it may frost tonight and finish the last zinnias.) Looking through my craft bins, I ran across some green, yellow, and orange plastic flowers I bought at Hobby Lobby last spring and instantly knew exactly what my look should be.

Tube vase painted
matte black
The flowers, large and sparkly with glitter, were set off by some beautiful gold accents that were in the same bin (thanks to my crafting fairy godmother!). Those choices being made, I opted to paint my tubetop vase a matte black so the flowers would pop and the vase would be a vessel and not the show. I also painted a plastic drip dish from a flower pot to use at the bottom of the tube vase. Then I hot glued the plastic flowers to real tree branches we had trimmed, dropped them into the various tubes and the work was done! Flower arranging made EASY via the vase!


I placed the arrangement on one of my gold chargers to help accent it since my kitchen table is also black. It matches my place mats really well and will look great until I switch things up again as the holidays approach. 



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10.25.2011

Baked Onion Rings...They're Better than Fried!

When fixing burgers, brats or dogs, we often have baked steak fries as a side dish. In our quest to eat healthier, we have virtually eliminated frying anything in oil, opting to bake instead due to the health benefits. As a result, there are some favorites we never fix, even though we love them...and onion rings is one of those neglected faves. 

The other night I only had a bag of little Yukon gold potatoes in the pantry (hadn't restocked since I made the Loaded Baked Potato Soup!) and I just couldn't get the vision of making them into steak fries. I looked at my bag of white onions and thought onion rings would be great...I bet we can bake them! We needed to at least try...and try we did!
Baked Onion Rings by The Shady Porch #recipe #healthy #sidedish #onions
Crispy Baked Onion Rings
I'll  jump to the good news ...baked onion rings are better than fried! They're not greasy,  limp, or too hot to eat like the fried version can be. The onion stayed crisp and, therefore, had better flavor. Best of all, they were a breeze to make. 

 Baked Onion Rings by The Shady Porch #baked #recipe #healthy #sidedish #onions
Dipped and ready to bake onion rings
Ingredients: white onion, flour,
Italian bread crumbs, milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Spray a cookie sheet with your favorite non-stick spray, and set aside. 

Peel and slice your onion(s) into 1/4 inch slices and separate into rings.  Note- 3/4 of one large white onion feeds 3 adults.

We set up a little assembly station to coat the onion rings: 
  • Step 1 - Place 3/4 c. of flour in a zip lock bag and set aside.  
  • Step 2 - In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup of milk with 2-3 T. of flour.
  • Step 3 - Pour approx. 3/4 c. Italian bread crumbs out on plate or  shallow bowl ( I'm sure Panko or reg. bread crumbs would serve well too). 
Baked onion rings... a perfect side to your favorite Stuffed Burger!
Now place the onion rings in the zip lock bag and shake them in the flour.  Next, dip them one at a time in the milk mixture and then in the bread crumbs coating all sides. 
Place them on the cookie sheet. I started to run out of room on the cookie sheet, so I placed rings within rings and it did not hinder the baking. They all got brown and crispy. We flipped them once at about 5 minutes (WARNING - our oven is wonky, so don't use my time as gospel) and after another 5 minutes they were finished. 

Our recipe was adapted from AllRecipes.com and Elli Kreiger at Foodnetwork.com

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10.24.2011

Do-It-Yourself Seasonal Lantern

Finished Snaggletooth Face Lantern
It is so easy to find inspiration in blogger-ville; there are so many wonderfully creative ideas floating around out there. One of the first crafty ideas that inspired me was lanterns made out of picture frames. 

There are dozens of lantern versions to be found, but I blended two of my favorites to create my own. So, thanks Whiff of Joy Stamps and The Country Chic Cottage for your inspiration. 

I began with wooden Dollar Tree trays I had on hand.  Many projects start with picture frames; maybe I'll try the picture frame method next time (I'm sure it would be easier)


I removed the bottom from the Dollar Tree trays
to get to the frame.

Supplies Needed
4 - wood frames (all the same size)
Square dowels - enough to connect the frames/creating 4 corners
Wood glue & Clamps
Decorative knob
2 -pieces of wood large enough to cover 
the top of the lantern (preferably one slightly smaller than the other to get the pyramid effect)

I actually made this a much harder project by using the Dollar Tree trays because I had to  remove the wood bottoms on the trays to get to the frames I needed.  When using picture frames you simply remove the glass until you get the frames attached and reinsert the glass when your lantern is finished. My design is more luminary than lantern since I do not have the glass sides.
Adding dowels to create corners...connecting the frames

I measured one of my wood frames to determine what length to cut each dowel. The square dowels I purchased at Lowes were about 24 inches long and, once cut to size, one 24 in. dowel will  create 2 corners of the lantern.  When measuring to cut the dowel, I discovered that I had a little excess  so rather than creating scrap wood, I added it to my length calculation and created a little leg to the lantern. Therefore, I had no excess dowel. Yeah, no waste! You can see the little extra "leg" in the picture to the right.

Next, I used wood glue and attached the square dowels to the frames thereby creating corners. Repeat this process until you have created the body of your lantern (all 4 sides).

Now I cobbled together the top of my lantern using items I had on hand in my various crafting bins. I used a square picture frame painted black as the roof (the glass is still in the frame), stacked on a remnant piece of decorative wood with routed edges, and, finally, a wooden knob. I glued them all together and had a roof for my lantern. I think the decorative knob or handle on the top is the main piece that ultimately makes this a lantern. Otherwise, it just looks like an odd box. I opted to not put a floor/bottom on my lantern, but I might add one later.

Spray painted the frame and the unattached top black.
Now the entire lantern should be painted. I chose black so it will fit in with any future decorations I create or use. Also, if I decide to re-paint, black makes a great primer.

For the sides, I used printable vellum. I found an image on a website for free Power Point backgrounds.  I liked this picture of an ornery snaggletooth since it fit the seasonal decorations I already had (remember my scare folks?). It took a few test prints on regular paper to get the image the size I needed to fill the lantern panes on each side.

Finally, I printed the image in black and white on the vellum and cut it to the size I needed to attach it to the lantern. I am going with a temporary method (tape) of attaching the velum panes since I hope to re-use the lantern when decorating for other seasons and holidays.

Ornery Ol' Snaggletooth... his bark
 is worse than his bite.




10.23.2011

To Everything There Is A Season


This picture captures so much that reminds me of the scripture below.  The mums that I'm about to plant and the recently plucked pumpkin and fodder shocks.  I think it's all so beautiful, too; you have to love God's fall color palette!
[Photo credit to my brother, Daniel B. Collier]
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,:...He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.   Ecc 3:1-2, 11-13. (KJV)







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10.21.2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I think many of us would agree that soup is a comfort food. In our home, it is a seasonal menu item that arrives with the cooler weather of fall and winter. A warm hearty soup can turn any chill into a warm toasty feeling and make me feel better when I'm under the weather. Best of all, it's easy to make.
When family visited recently, the weather was typical early fall...chilly. We've now added a quilt to the beds since the sheets alone are no longer enough. We've closed the windows and turned on the furnace in case temps dip too low overnight.  This all
encouraged me to prepare a hearty soup for my loved ones to soothe and warm them.
Loaded Baked Potato Soup  recipe
Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Jalapeno Cornbread &
Potato Skins...something for everyone!
My favorite homemade soup is potato and, with family coming, I thought Loaded Baked Potato Soup would be special. I was right! We had a great meal together and I loved serving potato skins on the side so none of the potato went to waste! My dad is a big fan of  cornbread so I made my Jalapeno Corn Bread for him, too. 


10.18.2011

Framed Pine Cone Owl

This past weekend was a beauty, and that, coupled with the opportunity to be with long distance family, energized and motivated me to create something.  I've mentioned before that I have a huge bag of pine cones and, if you've read much of my blog, you know that they keep creeping into various projects. 


Pine cone Art: An Owl by The Shady Porch
Hooty the Owl
When I made the pine petaled napkin rings, I kept thinking the petals could look like feathers and this weekend I finally tested my theory. I started ripping apart my pine cones with a vision of creating an owl. I guess I zeroed in on all the owls that have been popping up in the fall blog parties, plus, I had some branch pieces that reminded me of owl eyes.



10.16.2011

Easy Awesome Apple Dip

Here is one of the top contenders for the Epitome of Autumn Recipe...it ranks up there with Pumpkin Rolls, Candied Apples, and Chili.

It is one of those guilty pleasure treats, where we feel good about eating the apples, but we also know the yummy goo we're dipping them in is... well...not so good for us.

This dip is a sweet counterbalance to the crisp tartness of the apple. It is the perfect dish for game day Saturdays, movie nights, or any casual social gathering where licking your fingers is not frowned upon!

Apple Dip by The Shady Porch #appetizer #snack #dessert #fruitdip
A most excellent treat! Crunchy apples and sweet caramel goodness.
I had the great pleasure of sharing time with family this weekend and I served this. We ate it while catching up on family news. After a while, my brother offered to take everyone's plate in to the sink with his. He noticed my Dad had run out of apple slices, but still had dip on his plate. He asked if Dad wanted more apples to finish his dip. Dad said, "No, just bring me a fork!" Bub declared, "Dad just gave you a great review for your dip...'skip the apples and just hand me a fork!'"

We laughed about it all weekend.

Here is the Way-TOO-Easy Recipe - Apple Dip

Caramel Sauce
2 - 8oz. bars cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 bag Heath Bar Crumbles

Mix softened cream cheese with the powdered sugar. Put the cream cheese mixture in a shallow bowl and cover in caramel sauce. Cover with Heath Bar crumbles. Just before serving stir it up to incorporate the crumbles.

To prepare the apples, simply rinse, and core, then slice into wedges.

Adapted from Apple Snacks and Cooking

 Here's a couple more great recipes for entertaining! 
 



I am always thankful to spend precious time with the precious people in my life!

10.14.2011

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

Garlic...some love it...some, not so much. We love it! First, for the flavor it adds and, secondly, due to its health benefits. Garlic has been used as a medicine for ages. Today, research says it helps prevent hardening of the arteries and helps boost the immune system. If I run across a new recipe that has garlic, I'm probably adding it to my 'want to make this' list. 
Crunchy Garlic Chicken #chicken #dinner #easy #best #baked

I ran across a Jamie Oliver (Naked Chef) recipe called Crunchy Garlic Chicken and ding-ding, I had my dinner planned! I did make it my own by tweaking it some, so the recipe I'm giving here is as I prepared it.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

5 medium cloves of garlic (the original recipe called for 1 clove)
1 cup panko crumbs
2 T. butter
2 t. parsley
2 T. flour
2 eggs
3 skinless chicken breast fillets
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven at the 475 degrees.

Peel your garlic (check out this great tip...Peel Garlic in 10 seconds) and put them in a food processor with the butter, panko crumbs, salt, pepper, parsley. Whiz (a Jamie Oliver word) until the mixture becomes very fine, then pour the crumbs onto a plate.

Take a second plate and put the flour on it. Crack the eggs into a bowl large enough to dip the chicken in, then beat with a fork.

Place a chicken breast in a large ziploc bag or cover with plastic wrap and bash (another Jamie word....I just love his British accent!) out the breast to flatten it a bit; you can use a meat hammer or the bottom of a heavy skillet.

Now dip the breast in the flour to cover on both sides, then dip into the egg and finally into the flavored panko crumbs. Get the breasts totally coated. Repeat until all breasts are coated.

Place your chicken breasts on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and cook for 15 minutes, check for doneness (165-170 degrees).

To serve the chicken - cut each breast into strips and pile them on the plate. We served ours with mashed potatoes and steamed mixed veggies and cheese sauce. 

Here's one review I received regarding this meal...OMGosh, that's like eating at a restaurant! 

...And that makes this cook happy! 

Other Shady Porch recipes you might enjoy!

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10.12.2011

China Cabinet Makeover

Newly refinished cabinet!

Our kitchen is was a busy place (and I'm not talking about cooking.) Visually, it has been all over the map - at least the furniture has been. I told myself for years that everything looked eclectic and unique and crazy-quilt chic...and then I had to face the fact that the china cabinet was painted some reddish wood-toned color (what was I thinking?), the kitchen island was painted something in the warm white family and the kitchen table was natural wood but in two different wood tones, cherry and oak...and I hadn't even included the cabinets (Look forward to that one, okay?) Once I admitted to myself the busyness of the mismatched pieces, I wanted to unify my eat-in country kitchen. It took me very little time to decide that black would accomplish my goal, and it would be a nice contrast to my white appliances and the kitchen trim. 

My hubby bought me this cabinet 20 years ago (unbelievable!) and it has had a couple of makeovers before. I knew I could would not strip it...basically because it's just too much work, so I used a liquid deglosser from Lowes. It was easy - simply wipe on, and then wipe off!! This allows new paint to adhere, and that was all I needed.

I used a gray latex as the primer and then I used a black latex acrylic to paint the cabinet. I used foam brushes and foam rollers to get the job done. These tools help eliminate lines in the paint job. I am extremely pleased with the final result and am anxious to finish my other kitchen plans.  

BEFORE

PRIMER STAGE
As you can see from the  finished picture, the new paint job makes my white dishes stand out, and the few pieces of cobalt depression glass I  have look great, too!
I've included these pictures of the cabinet before the makeover so you can see the full transformation. I'll share the kitchen table makeover soon...it's rather dramatic! (Happy squeal!)
I will hold off showing the entire kitchen until I finish my makeover projects. I am going to paint my cabinets, make new curtains, and I have a project that will require the use of more corbels in my kitchen!



Refinished China Cabinet
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I shared this makeover at  
Savvy Southern Style

10.10.2011

Sweet and Spicy Chili Recipe

Hi everybody! Every year, when the breezes start to cool and the leaves start to fall, I add chili to our menu. We like ours Cincinnati-style - over spaghetti and topped with shredded cheese and diced onions. OMGoodness! It is sooo good! I'm one of those cooks that rarely makes anything the same way twice and chili is no exception. I am sharing a Sweet and Spicy Chili Recipe that has just the right combination of spice and nice. 
Sweet and Spicy Chili
Very, Very Good Chili
For the Texas Star Chili Cook-off, I turned, for some ingredient inspiration, to Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen cookbook.  Chef Bayless uses ancho chiles, which I've never tried (and a lot more garlic than I've used before), to create a sweet-and-spicy seasoning paste as the base for the chili. Let me state now, I can not eat really hot spicy stuff, so this will be adjusted so it's mild and palatable for anyone. Promise! To those that like the heat, add cayenne pepper flakes and/or jalapeno peppers to your serving of chili. 



Sweet & Spicy Chili 
 Ingredients:
2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground sirloin
2 lbs. red kidney beans
ancho seasoning paste (see above)
1 med. chopped onion
32 oz. beef broth
salt and sugar to taste


Sweet & Spicy Ancho Seasoning Paste
Ingredients:
(as I prepared it)
8 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 T. dried ancho chili seasoning *  
1 1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. pepper
1/8 t. cumin
1/4. t ground cloves
2/3 cup beef broth
1 t. salt (approx.)
*- the recipe called for fresh roasted ancho chiles, but we could not find them, therefore ours turned out more liquid than paste)

In a cast iron skillet lined with aluminum foil roast the unpeeled garlic, turning occasionally, until soft when pressed between your fingers, (it will have blackened in a few spots) about 15 minutes. Cool, then slip off the papery skins and roughly chop. 

In a blender or mini food processor, add chopped garlic, ancho seasoning, oregano, cumin, and cloves. Add the beef broth and puree, scraping and stirring until blended. 
Sweet and Spicy Chili
Crock Pot of Chili

Sweet & Spicy Chili

Directions:
In a dutch oven or heavy cast iron skillet, fry 2 lbs. of lean ground beef (we used 93/7 for this recipe) in 1-2T. of olive oil and one medium chopped onion over medium heat, stirring to break up clumps, until nicely browned. Drain most of the fat, if any. (With really lean beef, this is not an issue.) Stir in the ancho seasoning paste (see recipe above), until well blended.

Then, using a large crock pot, I added the meat mixture to 2 lb. of uncooked red kidney beans. I added the beef broth (or water) until everything was moving freely. Cover and cook on high until the beans are cooked - approx 8 hours. If 8 hours is not in your schedule, use canned kidney beans and cook for 3-4 hours (this is mainly to allow the flavors to mingle and to heat the chili since it is completely cooked at this point.)

After tasting, if you like less intense flavor, add 1 cup or so of blended canned tomatoes and water until you reach desired flavor. In the event you get the chili too thin, mix a little mas harina (or flour and water) and then whisk into the chili during the last few minutes of simmering.
Sweet and Spicy Chili by The Shady Porch
Chili served on spaghetti with onions 
& shredded cheeses

I want to give a shout out to our friend, and fellow Hammy grad, Bill Biel of Mississippi. He sent us a Bayou Cuisine kit over the summer....as part of the kit we received 2 lbs of  Camellia Red Kidneys (a famous New Orleans red bean) that we used in this batch of chili. The combination of the ancho seasoning and the kidney beans made this chili experience one worthy of a cook-off for sure!

10.07.2011

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

This month's Crazy Cooking Challenge sent us out into the blogger-hood looking for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I'll say it again...my family LOVES the Crazy Cooking Challenges! Last month, we were looking for the Ultimate Mac-N-Cheese and now Chocolate Chip Cookies!  The recipe I choose comes from Because She Said. Nicole said this was the go-to recipe for her family and I believe family recipes are always the best!
Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie A la mode
In my quest for the ultimate recipe, I also ran across an interesting recipe that says they bake their chocolate chip cookie(s) in a cast iron skillet. Since I am a huge fan of cast iron cooking, I decided to make my challenge cookies in a cast iron skillet too!

Skillet Chocolate Chips Cookies 
2 1/4 cup self-rising flour
Chocolate chip cookie dough...yummmm!
1 cup butter crisco
1/4 cup sugar or Splenda Blend
1/2 cup brown sugar or Splenda brown sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approx 20-30 minutes or until preferred chewiness.



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10.06.2011

Pumpkins, Mums & Scare-folks, Oh My!


#pumpkins #mums #scarecrow #decorations #fall #autumn #porch
Having some fun with fall!
For the past week, I have had the crafty mojo! I have my hot glue gun, Mod Podge, glass paint, pine cones, straw hats, jute, ribbon...(you get the idea) all around me and I am jumping from one to the other creating stuff (yep...stuff) to decorate our home and porch for this usually crisp, colorful season (although it's nearly 80 today).

I've already shared the pine cone flowered napkin rings and the door basket adorned with pine cone flowers and, today, I took it all outside and created what I hope will be a welcoming fall setting. Of course, I got the mandatory mums, and pumpkin and even took some of the dried corn stalks from the garden, but I kept thinking 'fall friends' and decided to make his and her mini scare-folks.

Scarecrow basics
It helps to have a little whimsy in your life to brighten the   day-to-day routine. Several weeks ago, I found some straw hats at the Dollar Tree, and I brought them home thinking I would use them to make some sort of fall craft. So when the scare-folks idea came up, the hats had purpose.
I formed the heads of my scare-folk from the straw hats  and I stuffed each of them with a towel and closed the neck on the scare-fella with a length of rope. To give the scare-gal pigtails, I just flipped the hat up, cut the brim into two parts, and tied each with a bandanna. I think she's a hoot! I made their eyes and nose with felt and then highlighted them with fabric paint. The scare-fella got some rope for hair and I took the third straw hat and cut it in half to make his hat and the other half was used to form her neck. 
Finally, I used a square dowel to create the body and a cross-piece of dowel to form the arms. I dressed them in seasonally appropriate flannel and set them up at the corner of the front steps to welcome guests. 

#pumpkins #mums #scarecrow #decorations #fall #autumn #porch
I call them Dixie and Flem Whimsy! 

 

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