Archive | April, 2013

Birthday Boy

30 Apr

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I have a long hallway.  And this is my hallway having a party…

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Its amazing what zooming in on some streamers and balloons will do for ya!  This backdrop was super easy and can easily be adjusted to any color scheme or occasion.  And unless you choose to, you know perhaps for blogging purposes, you never have to zoom out and no one ever has to know that this is really just your boring old hallway.  Fill that frame and all you see is a party!

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My baby boy turns 1 today.  *Tear* My baby turns 1 today!  I made him this smash cake to celebrate.  Chocolate cake with chocolate filling and vanilla buttercream frosting.  The cake is decorated by piping large dots and then smearing them to one side.  A little tedious but the effect is pretty great.   I don’t know if you can tell, but I think he liked it.  We literally couldn’t get him to crack a smile once the cake came out.  He was all business!

Banana Bread Makeover

16 Apr

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Mother’s Day coming up, I thought this would be a great time to test a new version of banana bread before serving Mother’s Day brunch!

I started with my usual banana bread recipe. Usually, I just add the 1/4c chopped walnuts. The special twist this time is adding a 1/4c of milk chocolate chips along side the walnuts. I love chocolate! To make this extra special (as if chocolate wasn’t enough), I topped off the banana bread with a streusel topping before putting it in the oven.

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The streusel is as follows:

Mix 1/4c flour and 1/3c brown sugar.
Cut in 2tbsp cold butter with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

I stopped there and sprinkled it on top of my bread mixture. You could add 1/3c chopped walnuts to the streusel for added crunch.

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The crunchy, sweet streusel creates a great layer of contrast to the moist, delicious banana bread. I absolutely love the little pockets of melted chocolate throughout! So tasty and surprisingly, not to sweet! Anyone else try a banana bread makeover? What changes do you make?

Wedding Style: Mint & Orange

9 Apr

I got married…again!  I only do it once every ten years.

The first time we got married it was in Japan and it was just us and our Japanese translators.  Well, we finally got around to getting married in our church and celebrating with our family.

This all came together fairly quickly so I tried to keep it simple and as inexpensive as a wedding ceremony could be.  I’m a DIY kind of girl so I did a lot myself.

I’ll start with the flowers.  And they start with Succulents.  I knew that I wanted succulents.  What I didn’t know was that they aren’t cheap.  But, while hunting for Easter eggs at my Grandmother’s house I found that she had several beautiful succulent plants.  She was gracious enough to give me one and it was enough to give me 24 favors and 6 centerpieces.

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Having that one plant saved me A LOT!  I priced the individual succulents  for the 24 favors and the cheapest plants I could find (at Home Depot) were $2 each!

I found the metallic pots at a wholesale flower store for $6 each, where  I also purchased glass candle holders for $8/dozen and painted them silver for the favors.  The ranunculus, roses and mums I literally found late at night at Trader Joe’s!

I was also able to save on the cake by ordering a 9 inch round and decorating it with [faux] succulents myself.  That cake was placed on the table for everyone to see.

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The second cake was just a sheet cake that was kept in the kitchen, ultimately cut and served to guests. This helped me avoid the “wedding surcharge.”

Be sure to check back to see more!

Shop Local: Nurseries

4 Apr

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Last Friday we stopped by the nursery in town to pick up a few plants for the “sand box” we call a yard. I don’t know much about desert plants, but I do know that the plants I have in my yard wouldn’t survive out here. When you don’t know what to do, ask the experts!

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The local nursery is awesome! These people really know what they are talking about. I’ve shopped MANY times at the big box stores and you’re lucky if you get help from someone who really knows what they are talking about. Let’s be honest, you’ll be lucky if you find someone to talk to at all! Anyways, local nurseries know about the types of plants that grow well in your area. They will also know what types of soil you have and they really feel your pain when you tell them you have issues with soil drainage.

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I also found that local nurseries have a large selection and the plants seem to be treated with TLC.

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During this specific trip, we were in search of a purple flowering plant that we already have growing out here. I’m no plant expert, so purple flowering plant was the only description we had, and a photo I took on the iPad. We described the plant and showed the photo, the nursery owner knew exactly which plant it was and informed us that they won’t get those in until the summer. I guess we’ll be going back again soon!

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I love that the nursery clearly labels the plants. I always found it important to read the labels on plants so I know what to expect and what the plant needs. Sometimes, I feel like the label is so generic that it can be on any plant in the store. At this nursery, they give so much information! It is so helpful!

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The kids enjoy exploring the nursery and smelling the flowers. We had a very productive day at the nursery!

An All-American Dish: Meat Loaf

3 Apr

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I can admit that not all like or love meat loaf. Personally, as a child I never really liked it and always thought of that annoying kid from A Christmas Story slopping it around on his plate mumbling, “Meat loaf, beef loaf.” I felt his pain. Until I modified the recipe and guess what? My kids love it and want more of it. Instead of beef I use ground turkey. Besides being incredibly easy to make, I usually have my kitchen stocked with all the ingredients so I am prepared. It’s so tasty as a stand alone that I often have trouble finding a side, unless you have any tips? Or do you just think more room for dessert like my seven-year old?

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Caramelize or saute some onions and garlic, let those cool while you do the following steps:
  • Chop some celery and carrots and bread or a cup of dry bread crumbs.
  • In a large bowl, combine one pkg/one lb ground turkey, one egg, one cup milk and the bread crumbs. Then add the onion, garlic, and other veggies. Season with salt and pepper to taste, a little bit of worcestershire sauce and place in a lightly oiled loaf pan or whatever.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine some brown sugar, a little more worcestershire sauce, mustard and ketchup. Mix well and pour over the meatloaf.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour.

 

Pretty Powder Room

3 Apr

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With the first bathroom almost complete, we are starting to get the plans for the second bathroom on the move. Luckily, all this little space needs is a minor facelift. The flooring, countertop, sink, faucet, medicine cabinet and toilet have been replaced. The plan here is to paint the cabinets, clean up the cabinet handles and hinges, add a light fixture and paint the walls.

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This picture is the inspiration for the updated bathroom.

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So here are the selections…the green is for the cabinets and the light peach color is the wall paint. I am anxious to see how it all turns out. We were lucky to stumble upon this daisy fabric that has all the colors of the painting in it!

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Under two yards of fabric and we got two new curtains! I love how the sun shines through mid-day, reminds me of stained glass.

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I’ll post an update once it’s painted! So excited!

Curtain Call

2 Apr

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So here are the curtains I made this weekend for the bathroom! Since they are more of a solid color, I added an embroidery detail near the hem. When the sunlight comes through the window you can really see it!

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I am really happy with how they came out. I made two curtains for this bathroom and used less than two yards of fabric. This pair of curtains cost less than $10 and they match the bathroom tile perfectly.

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