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.