Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

This year our 4th of July was packed with lots of fun activities. So here is just a little recap of today's festivities:

[My 2-year old daughter and I decided we were going to make an American flag to celebrate the holiday. And I was very surprised how well she followed instructions and placed each piece of paper neatly where I told her to put it. I'm a proud mom!]

[Then it was off to the kitchen to whip up these patriotic strawberries! Such fun and super easy to make!]

[To cool off, we all decided it was about time to hop in the pool. My daughter was so excited to swim!]

[Once it was dark enough outside, my husband set up the projector and screen to have a little movie night outside. I placed some blankets on the ground, brought some fruit to munch on, and we all enjoyed watching "Tangled". I love that movie!]

So that about sums up my Independence Day. How was your 4th of July?


Friday, June 24, 2011

[Foodie Friday: Carrot Cake]

Since part of my Summer To-Do List is to try 5 new recipes, I thought I start off by making a classic dessert: carrot cake. Now I think I may have made a version of carrot cake in the past, but I remember it not tasting very good. (which completely opposite from my delicious Carrot Cake Pancakes) But after trying out this fool-proof Carrot Cake (technically called "Grandma Hiers' Carrot Cake") recipe by Paula Deen, I will never go back to making any other carrot cake again! It is so moist and full of yummy flavors. Completely irresistable.

When I saw this recipe was by Paula Deen, I knew it was going to be anything but lowfat. But it's always nice to splurge, right? So here's the recipe. Enjoy! :0)

Butter, for pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, optional


2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) round pans; Line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, blend until combined. Add carrots and pecans, if using.
  • Pour into pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting:

Add all ingredients, except nuts, into a medium bowl and beat until fluffy using a hand mixer. Stir in the nuts, if desired. Spread frosting on top of each cake layer. Stack the cakes on a serving plate and serve.

Linking this recipe up to these parties.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer To-Do List

Since summer has officially began, I thought I might compile a list of things I want to accomplish before the summer is over. I am sure I will continue to add more activities to this list, but here is a rough overview:

  • Find 5 new healthy recipes to make (especially ones for my picky 2-year old!)
  • Finish up projects around the house
  • Go on a date with my hubby
  • Take a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood every Saturday morning

  • Schedule a family photo shoot
  • Pick peaches, berries, etc. at our local farm
  • Get involved in summer church events
  • Take a road trip to go visit my 87-year old grandfather
So what's on your Summer To-Do List?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father's Day Recap: Envelope Surprise

Hi everyone! Wow, a lot has been going on lately that haven't even had time to sit down at my computer to blog! I was planning on at least blogging on Monday, but little girl decided not to take a nap that day. No nap = no blogging for mama. :0

Anyways, I just wanted to give you an update on last weekend. On Saturday, I hosted a 30th Birthday Party for my husband (more about that in later posts!). And on Father's Day, I officially became a Godmother to my 2 week old Goddaughter Scarlett! Isn't she adorable in her Baptism dress?!

Also, to celebrate Father's Day, I did this little "Envelope Surprise" that I was first inspired to create from Oh Happy Day [here]. Since my husband's birthday was the day before Father's Day, I didn't want to do anything to too big to overshadow that. So starting on Tuesday, June 14th I made an envelope for each day that had a little "surprise" waiting for him inside. So there were 6 days of surprises.

These envelopes were hung next to my husband's desk in his office. He was so excited to wake up every morning to open up his envelope for the day. It was so cute! And to make these, I just used some large envelopes that I have been hanging onto for years and covered just the portion you see with colored scrapbook paper. Then I used white foam number stickers to place on the envelopes.

The 6th Day was of course Father's Day, so I put little stars next to that number. And inside that envelope was his Father's Day card that I ordered from Tiny Prints for FREE (such a steal!).

The other envelopes had other little surprises such as a "free lunch", his favorite candy bar, and coffee that I made for him that morning. It's the little things that can do wonders to brighten his day. :0)

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! And stay tuned for posts about my husband's 30th Birthday Party! It was a "mustache theme" party! Here's a little preview:

Linking up to [these] parties!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

[Transformation Thursday: 2nd Story Deck]

As promised, I am FINALLY revealing pictures of our 2nd story deck. Last year I discussed what type of style I wanted for the deck [here]. And the way it turned out has totally surpassed my expectations! My hubby did an AWESOME job! :0)


Here's what the game plan looked like, using Google SketchUp. And those double doors you see used to be where our master bedroom windows were. Yep, that's right! Our own private "balcony"!


And here is the final product! In October 2010, my husband took off a week from work to built this deck board by board. He used pressure treated top-choice pine from Lowe's in 2x6's & 2x8's, and it has held up really well through treacherous weather conditions. Using that same type of wood in 4x4's, he also built the sectional and stained the wood with a dark walnut stain by Minwax to give it some contrast.

We bought our outdoor pillows from Pillow Superstore in a sienna color. They were $39.99 for a set of 2! So we bought 4 sets to have 8 pillows in all. They are weather resistant and very comfy. I might buy a few small accent pillows in a fun pattern to give it that something extra.

We bought these outdoor bench cushions from Patio Shoppers in a polyester grasscloth tan. We needed 3 cushions since the sectional is so long.

The moment we saw this firepit at Lowe's we fell in love. It fits perfectly on our deck next to our sectional. I love the mosaic tile and the copper inlay. To eliminate having that "campfire smell", we use propane. So the coal is basically just for looks. :0) There have and will be many more 'smore-making nights by this firepit.

Across from the seating area is our little breakfast nook. This is the perfect place to share our morning breakfasts together or a enjoy sunset dinner. The off-set umbrella was purchased at Garden Ridge. We really like the fact that it can swivel from being over the breakfast nook to being over the seating area. Plus it adds a cozy atmosphere without covering up the beautiful sky too much.

The table and stools are also from Lowe's. The table is made entirely out of aluminum, so it's extra durable. The stools are made of the same material with a wicker seat. We like having 4 seats at the table for when we are entertaining. Also, the rope lights that you see under the ledge of the deck I bought at Walmart and look really nice at night. Its lights up the entire deck!

I purchased these little black lanterns a while back and knew I just had to use them on our deck. I placed a little oil candle inside to help with the illumination. I am thinking of purchasing some large tall lanterns and placing them randomly on the deck floor.

As soon as you leave/enter the deck, you will come through these white french doors. We bought them at Lowe's, and my husband & a close friend installed them. These doors lead directly into our master bedroom. I just love to fling the door open and breathe in that fresh morning air. The black wall lanterns were also purchased at Lowe's. They match our lantern downstairs on our back porch.

So there you have it! That is our 2nd story deck transformation! We love it, and it has really brought in more value to our home.

Glad you stopped by! :0)

Linking up to these parties.


Monday, June 6, 2011

[Motivational Monday: The Great Outdoors]

Summertime always welcomes our home with outdoor entertaining & activities. We enjoy having our meals outside, hanging out with friends in our backyard, and roasting smores by the fire. Recently my husband built our 2nd story deck, and we couldn't be happier with it. But I will share with you the entire transformation later this week.

In the meantime, here are some inspirational outdoor decor to help revamp your own patio:

[I simply LOVE the idea of having a fireplace outside. It looks beautiful when lit up at night and can be used as warmth to let you enjoy the outdoors even throughout the colder months.]

[Outdoor sectionals are definitely a must when entertaining outside. It brings everyone together while setting a relaxed tone.]

[I gotta say, I love gazebos! It makes you feel like you are inside while you enjoy the fresh air of being outside. And to have it lit up at night with lights strung along the top is simply icing on the cake.]

[A nice tall privacy fence lets you enjoy relaxing on your patio without feeling exposed to your neighbors. Adding some greenery on top of the fence brings life to the entire patio while giving you that extra inch of privacy.]

Are you ready for outdoor entertaining this summer?


Saturday, June 4, 2011

[Scrapperday: Graduation Card]

Tonight I just returned from a fun graduation party. It definitely brought back memories of graduating high school. The excitement of finally being done with high school, the anxiousness to start college, and the confidence (and fear!) of entering the "real world". Ahh to be young again...

Anyways, I just wanted to share a little card that I made for the honored graduate. She loved it and appreciated the effort, which is always nice. :0)

I think the hardest part about making the card was hand-sketching the graduation cap. Trying to make the square part look 3D was quite the task. But in the end, it all turned out just how I wanted it. I used green behind the cap since it's their school color. The tassel was also hand-drawn, and cutting out the little ends of the tassel was probably the best part of the entire process. It sort of gives it that extra flair.

Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend! :0)

Linking this card up to these parties.


Friday, May 27, 2011

[Foodie Friday: Patriotic Eye Candy]

It's been quite a while since I blogged (sorry about that!), but I am still here reading your blogs every spare chance I get in between party planning my husband's 30th birthday party (which is in less than a month! eek!) and of course chasing around my 2 1/2 year old daughter. But I just wanted to quickly share with you some beautiful eye candy to start off your weekend. :0)

Since Memorial Day is coming up for everyone here in the U.S., I thought it would be only appropriate to share with you some food ideas to help celebrate the occasion. Bonus: these ideas could also be used for 4th of July! After searching for some yummy ideas on Pinterest, my latest obsession, I found some amazing and creative ideas to help even your desserts be a little patriotic.

To follow me on Pinterest, click [HERE]! :0)


Friday, May 20, 2011

[Frame Friday: Gallery Wall by Dream Book Design]

Yesterday I stumbled on Dream Book Design blog (a DIY design blog that I suggest you go and visit!) and saw this amazing gallery wall. Absolutely stunning! I have been wanting to create a gallery wall in a hallway in my house, and this has definitely given me that much more motivation.

Oh how I love all those white frames! They look so clean and chic against that wall color. Those 3 frames inside the larger frame is simply fabulous. And that fish-eye mirror really adds character to the entire gallery wall.

And you're not going to believe how much it cost her to put it all together...only about $50! What a steal!! Most of the frames were thrifty finds that she simply painted white. A technique that I plan on using in the near future. :0)

To view the original blog post on her gallery wall, click [HERE].

Thank you so much Adri for letting me feature your project! You are such an inspiration! :0)


Saturday, May 14, 2011

[Scrapperday: Another Birthday Card]

Here's yet another birthday card I recently created. There always seems to be so many birthdays around me this time of year. Anyways, just thought I'd quickly share this fun little card. I love it because it's so bright and colorful. Perfect for spring/summer birthdays!

As usual, I followed Kristina Werner's video tutorial and made some changes/personal touches of my own. I think my favorite part about this card are the little presents. So cute! And the "Happy Birthday" sentiment was actually hand-written with an embossing pen, sprinkled on some white embossing powder, and heat-embossed. So easy and it looks fabulous! :0)

I'll be linking this card up to these parties! Come join me!!


Friday, May 13, 2011

[Frame Friday: Stencil Frame by In Between Laundry]

I am always looking around blogland for unique & creative ideas on using frames. This DIY stencil frame by Erin over at In Between Laundry definitely caught my eye. I love the whole look of a frame inside a "frame". It adds such depth and character!

The stencil Erin used was created on her Silhouette machine, and I just love the pattern she chose. It's simple yet eye-catching! She simply painted around the stencil directly onto the wall with a small paintbrush.

She framed the stenciled section with molding to complete the look and added a distressed picture frame inside to give it that personal touch. Doesn't it look amazing?!

Great job, Erin! Thank you so much for letting me feature this fabulous project!

To view her full tutorial, please visit her blog [HERE].


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the fabulous moms out there!

Shouldn't every day be Mother's Day?? :0)


Friday, May 6, 2011

[Foodie Friday: Royal Wedding]

Well, I meant to post this last Friday but better late than never, right? If you're wondering, I did stay up to watch the wedding in the middle of the night, even though my husband thought I was crazy. I thought the Royal Wedding was a beautiful fairytale wedding. Everything went just perfectly.

[Such a gorgeous dress!]

[The sweetest kiss ever! I love how the little bridesmaid is covering her ears. So adorable!]

Anyways, last Friday I decided to do something small to celebrate the royal wedding. My daughter and I celebrated by eating this for dessert:

Just blueberries & strawberries arranged on top of whipped cream. It was supposed to look like the Union flag... Didn't quite turn out how I envisioned.

I really wanted to do this:

{sigh} Maybe I make this some other time. I mean, Harry gotta get married sometime, right? :0)

And of course, while we had dessert, we had a little tea party. It was such a lovely day. :0)


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

[Tuesday Top 10: Spring Fashion Trends Under $100]

There are so many fun Spring fashion trends going on this season that I just had to share a few of them. And the best part about these trends? It's all about comfort!! Finally, I can keep up with the trends without feeling out of place and uncomfortable!


[Soludos; $28]

[Toms; $54]

[Piperlime; $99.50]

Espadrilles and wedges are very much in style this season. And for once, style does not compromise with comfort.While walking around the mall the other day, I couldn't help but notice how many people were wearing espadrilles/Tom shoes. P.S. I am loving the silver Toms shoes! So fun!


[Piperlime; $69]

[Gap; $89.95]

Maxi dresses were super hot last year and are making an encore appearance this season. I think what people like most about them is that they are super comfy and hide all of the things you would rather not show off (i.e. belly, butt, etc.). Plus, they are easy to put on and would work for both wearing day & night.


[JCPenney; $10]

In the fall/winter months, we are layering up on coats and jackets that we never really get to show off our jewelry. So this season, jewelry has become more of a conversation piece. Coil bracelets and necklaces with a mixture of layers & texture can help make any outfit interesting. I have those 2 rings pictured above from Charlotte Russe and have been complimented multiple times on both of them (especially the double snake ring!).


[Target; $20, but currently out of stock]

Scarves in the spring? Well, it's not just for the colder months. Lightweight scarves are very trendy this season. They're the perfect way to dress up a white t-shirt and jeans! :0)