March 31, 2011

The Big Desk Reveal

 So, here it is.
To say that I am happy about it would be a huge understatement.  I've been neglecting the rest of my house because all I want to do is sit here and play on the computer.

I really like the books.  One of our future projects is some built in bookshelves on the opposite wall, so when that happens I'll probably move the books and put something else up there.

We bought this lovely file cabinet at Target and were very impressed with the quality for the price.  I spent a lot of time looking at white file cabinets online and in stores.  This was the best deal out there that we could find.  Doug put it together while the boys and I watched Tangled and it slid right under our desk....a perfect fit.  My husband is amazing.

The cord management still needs some managing.  It's been a bit of a challenge considering there is no electrical outlet on this wall.  My (amazing) husband has plans for putting one in, along with some spotlight recessed lighting complete with conveniently located light switch.  Those are more aesthetics at this point and there are some more pressing home projects that need they will have to wait a bit.

I love you desk.  Still deciding on what chair to put here....

March 24, 2011

A Sweet Tweet Baby Shower

My mom recently hosted a baby shower for a friend.  I live hundreds of miles away, but was able to help out by sending some fun decorations.
We designed and made the baby banner when my mom was visiting me last month.
My mom made the adorable tissue pom poms.

 Yummy cupcakes.
I also made the little paper birdies and the food labels.  The red birds on the white party favor boxes were adhesive vinyl.

And there is that baby onesie again.  
Chocolate covered strawberries are my favorite, yum.

Peeps, so cute.  I love how my mom made the pom poms mini size.  I want to try that next time.  Wish I could have been there, but I had a lot of fun designing from afar.  Congrats, Michelle!  So glad you liked everything.

March 23, 2011

Painted Wallpaper

After seeing this AMAZING room at Jones Design Company, I bookmarked it and vowed I would do this someday.  Fast forward a few weeks and I saw THIS on Landee See, Landee Do.  Oh my goodness.  I went right over to the craft store and bought my paint.
Here is my practice on a piece of butcher paper with some spare pink paint.  With three boys, I don't use pink in this house very often.  My template is up above there, cut out of cardboard.

Draw your lines with the template all over your wall.

Paint away.

Keep painting.

You are halfway there...

Once you reach the top, enjoy your work.  I love it and my hubby likes it too, which is a big bonus considering he lives here as well.  The kids don't seem to have much of an opinion, which is fine with me.  My inspiration blogs did a much better job than I did, but considering this is the first time I have ever done anything like this, I'm happy with it.  Just don't look TOO close and we're all good.  Overall, it took me about 7 hours from start (practice with pink paint) to finish (putting shelves back up).  Plenty of interruptions and most of the work done at night while the kids were snoozing.  I still need to erase some pencil lines, no biggie.

We have had rain, rain, rain for days on end.  I can't get a great picture yet due to gloomy skies and insufficient lighting in this area.  That will be fixed by my husband soon, he had promised me.  Recessed lighting, here we come.

Still waiting on my file cabinet and my electrical cord organization, so the 100% done big reveal will be coming soon.  And I will make sure the lighting is much better.  I live in California.  The sun has to come out again sometime.

Here is a side shot.  The paint is a metallic/pearl white, which gives it a different sheen depending on your angle and point of view.

March 22, 2011

Farm Fresh

I recently signed up for a local farmers co-op delivery service.  Once a month, I have fresh produce delivered from the farm straight to my front door.  It's reasonably priced and the food is yummy and fresh.  The best part is you can go online to customize your box each month, in case thy happen to be delivering some things that your family won't eat.  It's not a contract thing, so I can quit whenever I want and I can change the size and/or the food choices whenever I want as well.  If you live in Northern Cali and you are interested in this, leave a comment.  If I refer you, then we both get a small discount!

The asparagus is calling my name.  My favorite way to prepare it can be found HERE.

March 21, 2011

Book Club Gift

Remember I made a book club gift for an exchange we did last month?  I forgot to post how I wrapped it up.  My P&P mug is inside along with some yummy hot chocolate and a copy of the novel.  A white gift bag, some cute tissue paper, and some vinyl cut out with my Silhouette.  My husband doesn't understand how great his Christmas gift was last's the gift that just keeps on giving every time I use it.

March 20, 2011

Book Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo (Hush, Hush, #2)Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the first in this series, but felt the this second addition took all the problems with the first and just magnified them.  It was incredibly predictable and very slow in some parts.  Nora's best friend, Vee, was fun and spunky in the first book.  This book she just comes off as annoying.  I had a hard time even liking Patch this time.  Having said all of that, I probably will read the last book when it comes out...just because I can't help myself when it comes to closure and all of that.  I think that is why most people will read this one, just to find out what happens, not because it's a great book.  Oh, and you need to read this series in order or you will be seriously confused.  Just FYI.

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March 18, 2011

Baby Grace Onesies

My friend, who lives over a half hour freeway drive away, came out to visit with her new little baby girl, Grace.  She is so adorable and cuddly, and I was remiss in not snapping a picture of her.  Next time.  My friend and I played around with my Silhouette while she was here and we designed some simple onesies for Grace as a baby gift.  I quickly took these pictures while my friend was loading Grace and her other two kiddos in the car, so sorry they are a little dark.  We chose a cute flower and an adorable font for Grace's name, using the smooth heat transfer again.  They turned out really cute and now Grace just needs to grow a little bit to fit into them.

So glad you are finally here baby Gracie!  Come visit again soon!

March 14, 2011

Chocolate Silk Pie

photo via Baking Bites

I have received some requests for a dessert that I have made a few times.  This pie has been frequently asked for by my husband's coworkers at company potlucks.  I also recently made it for a friend's birthday and was asked for the recipe.  My amazing cousin (in law) grew up with her mother making this pie at Christmas time.  It was a highly anticipated family tradition, as you will understand once you taste this rich, yummy, and VERY simple to make dessert.

1/4 cup melted butter
25 vanilla wafers, crushed
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Mix well and press into 9-inch pie pan.  Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.

3/4 cup softened butter (no substitutes)
1 cup + 2 T. granulated sugar
2 squares (2 oz.) Baker's unsweetened chocolate, melted
1tsp. vanilla
3 whole eggs

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy in an electric mixer.  Mix in melted chocolate and vanilla.  Add one egg and mix at medium speed for 4 minutes.  Repeat with remaining 2 eggs, mixing for 4 minutes after each egg addition.  Pour into pie crust and chill until firm, a few hours at least.

My comments:
1.  You do not need to make the homemade crust, although it is yummy.  A store bought pie shell, baked according to instructions is great too.  I have also bought the ready made graham cracker crusts with positive results (that is my hubby's favorite version).  We have nut allergies in our family, so I have also made the above crust without the pecans.  It was very tasty as well, you may need a little less butter to hold the crumbs together.

2.  My cousin mentioned to me once that this is a very old recipe and was written out by her mother with her older mixer in mind.  Mixers nowadays have a bit more kick to them than her mom's so you may not need to mix it for quite as long in between each egg addition.  I have a standard KitchenAid mixer, nothing fancy.  I beat my first egg for 3-4 minutes and the additional 2 eggs for 2-3 minutes each.  That is plenty for my pie to be well incorporated, light, and fluffy.  

3.  I taste my filling at the end of mixing to test the density and flavor.  You want it rich, creamy, no sugar crystals, and a fluffy texture.  If I had to compare it to anything, I would say it's like whipped cream, soft peak form.

4.  You do need at least a few hours for the pie to set.  It's ready to eat right after you mix it, but it cuts and serves much better when it is chilled for several hours.  The best results are chilling overnight, a good 12+ hours for me.

Hope this helps, it really is one of the easiest pies to make.  If you buy a ready made crust, you don't even need to turn on the oven!  Happy eating everyone.

March 13, 2011

Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book.  A story of a young girl growing up in rural Texas at the turn of the 19th century.  One tomboy, science loving girl amongst a determined mother, 6 brothers, and a wonderfully eccentric grandfather.  Great stuff, nothing heavy or too much to ponder, just a fun, entertaining read about this great family.  Reminds me of the Great Brain series by J. D. Fitzgerald.  I think I want to buy this one so I can read it again sometime.

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March 12, 2011

A New Desk: Before and (almost) After


It's been a great desk/office space.  Tons of storage and closes up if you don't want to look at the mess.  It just doesn't fit with the look I'm going for in my room though.

Remove the desk....

....and have your hubby put in a new one!  

Well, it's not completely done as you can see.  There is a cord issue which I am all over as soon as I can make it back to the store.  The one leg will be replaced by a white wood filing cabinet.  We are ordering it soon and have already placed the desk at the correct height in anticipation of its arrival.  Although not complete, hopefully this gives you an idea of the look I am trying to achieve:  bright, uncluttered, and simple.

And those boxes!  I bought them at Target on clearance for $3 each.  I love them.  They are almost a perfect match to my wall color and they hold all of my office supplies.

A peek inside.  They are lined with a great pattern and the boxes are hinged!  I'm really happy with where we are going with this office space makeover.  More pictures to come when everything is complete.

March 11, 2011

Book Review: Dangerous To Know by Tasha Alexander

Dangerous to Know (Lady Emily, #5)Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really liked this one until the last quarter of the book.  It wasn't a bad ending, just a little awkward and jumbled for me.  I will still read more of this series if she continues to write for it.  I can't get enough of Lady Emily.

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March 10, 2011

Baby Birdie Onesies

I have a friend...I won't say who since she hasn't received these yet...that is going to have a baby girl soon.  I have been looking for an excuse to try some Silhouette heat transfer, and here it is!
I did two different sizes of onesies, since most babies I know grow out of the 0-3 months size pretty quick.  I hope she likes them!

This is so easy to do!  Just cut out your image, using the Silhouette, directly onto the heat transfer.  Place on fabric, iron it on, and you are done.  The whole process (with interruptions from my 3 year old) took about 15 minutes.  That is my kind of project.

I did wash them once and they held up pretty well.  Only multiple washings along with spit up and other baby messes will really tell how durable it is.  I'll have to get a report from the mama after a couple of months.

March 6, 2011

Book Review: Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith

Corduroy Mansions (Corduroy Mansions, #1)Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I normally love the slow, philosophical pace of his books, but this book can be summed up in one word:  boring!  I had a really hard time finishing it and I kept falling asleep.  There were some good moments, but not enough to save the book.  Too bad,  I was looking forward to this one.

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March 5, 2011

Mini Teddy Bear Cake

My mom recently came for a visit, right around her birthday.  My mom has had the same cake every year of her life: a teddy bear cake.  Normally, it is an 8x8 square body (with the sides cut out for arm/leg definition) and a 8 in round head.  We knew we weren't going to be able to eat a whole cake like that while she was visiting, so we opted for a smaller version.

Body:  mini loaf cake, leveled
Head:  mini cupcake

Cut out two very small squares on the sides of the mini loaf.  You now have two arms, two legs, and a body shape.  Level off cupcake and place at the top for the head.

Frost away.  Shape some scraps for the ears and attach to the head.

Add some embellishments.  You can use mini chocolate chips for the tummy and eyes.  Be creative and Happy Birthday Mama!

March 3, 2011

Book Review: The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

I'm going to start adding on some book reviews to my blog.  I get a lot of requests on books to read from friends and thought if I'm writing a short review of the book on Goodreads anyway, I might as well post it here too.  Enjoy and let me know what you think of the book too.  These books posted are in no particular order, just what I happen to be reading at the time.
If you click on the book title below, it will lead you to a short synopsis of the book.

The Widow of the SouthThe Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was surprised by how much I liked this book.  There are parts that are slow and sometimes it can be a bit hard to follow which perspective you are now reading about, but I really enjoyed the book overall.  I learned a lot more about the end of the Civil War, the South, and what it meant to be a woman during this time.  Recommend to adults, war violence and some gruesome war hospital scenes.

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G is for....

It was my turn for preschool again last week.  My oldest was out of school, so he got to participate as well.  He did a great job on the Giraffe coloring page.  The most I have ever seen him color.  He's usually just not that interested.

I glued on the vine and leaf and the kids glued on the purple circles for grapes.  Of course, I used my Silhouette again.

Father/Son Cake

For a recent Pack Meeting, my husband and oldest son needed to make a cake together for a Father/Son cake contest.  They decided on MarioKart (slightly obsessed over here).  Now, my hubby is not a cake they opted for easy frosting decorations and computer printed race kart drivers, item boxes, bananas, and all other MarioKart extras.  We printed a bunch of them off and my son absolutely insisted on putting all of them on.  The cake was a little crowded, but they had a great time making it.  I'm impressed with my boys abilities and it was a good lesson for me to not take over and do it for them.  I was tempted, just because I can't keep my cotton-pickin' fingers off stuff like this.  Great job boys!
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