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Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Glimpse

A good weekend, with lots of rest and a few projects.

 Made myself some gold clothespins! It's the little things, you know.

We had a little Oscar's party at a friend's, and I made these pretzel bites. 
Oh my, so very good. I served them with cream cheese, mustard, and caramel sauce.

Of course, the only real reason to watch the Oscar's is to play fashion critic (and to laugh at the awkward moments). Here are my top favorites, I always lean towards feminine cuts and shimmering neutrals.
Always stunning, Hallie Berry in Marchesa
Lookin' good, Hillary Swank in Gucci
Matthew McConaughey's hot date, Camila Alves in Kaufman Franco
The most adorable young star, Hailee Steinfield in Marchesa

Not pictured:
- my closet makeover is almost complete!
- an impromtu Saturday afternoon nap
- made some sun-dried tomato pesto bread
- spray painting stuff gold
- my new summer song: IceDream by Minnutes
- allergies, yuck
- open windows

Friday, February 25, 2011

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

These cupcakes are to. die. for. 

This is really just the recipe for the frosting, you can use whatever cupcake recipe you prefer. Or just doctor up a mix like me if you're in a hurry. Chocolate cake pairs perfectly with this scrumptious frosting. For the caramel sauce, I suggest making your own, but if you purchase it, get the good stuff, and make sure it's thick and gooey. If you make it, be sure you cool it completely before adding to the frosting, and a few minutes in the fridge will help too.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

2 dozen cupcakes, baked and cooled

Optional: 1 c. caramel sauce for filling cupcakes, see here for my favorite recipe


2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
1/4 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1 1/4 c. caramel sauce
1/2 tsp. salt (or more if you use unsalted butter)

If you would like to add some extra decadence to your little cakes, you can fill them with a dollop of caramel sauce. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a small shallow cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Eat the little cone pieces. Drop a teaspoonful of caramel sauce into the space. See here for a visual.

In a a large bowl
fitted to an electric mixer, beat the butter. Beat it long and hard, until it's very white and very fluffy. Add shortening, beat until completely incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Add in confectioners sugar ½ cup at a time, mixing on low speed until completely incorporated (it will be quite thick). Add caramel sauce, mix well. Add salt, to taste. Yield: enough to generously frost 2 dozen cupcakes or a 2 layer cake.

I like to pipe the frosting with a large flower tip (Wilton 2D) and sprinkle on some gold sanding sugar.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Collections: Lovely Spoons

I'm going to start a new category on this blog, called collections. Mostly so that I can justify posting somewhat random photos. ;-D

Today, a collection of lovely spoons. Tomorrow, a recipe.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I want this house

The amazing home of Jamie + Larry, via The Bedlam of Beefy, via Etsy

I can't get over the sublime gorgeousness of this home. It belongs to the husband + wife team of Jamie + Larry Oliver, located in Dallas, Texas. I am in love with the glamorous yet neutral scheme; and every little perfect detail steals my heart.

Of course, the stunning photography doesn't hurt! You can browse their home here, there's lots of beautiful detail shots.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

White by Vera Wang

Everybody in the wedding world is all a-buzz about BHLDN, as they should be, it's beautiful stuff. But there's another debut that I'm excited about... White by Vera Wang. This new line is exclusively for David's Bridal, and prices range from $600 - $1400 (much more affordable than her usual range). Vera Wang's designs are stunning as always; here's a look at some of my favorites...

I'm pretty sure I need that pink dress for some occasion. Vera is also moving her bridesmaid collection to David's Bridal, so there is more accessible design in the near future!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Glimpse

It was a wonderful weekend, but I was too busy enjoying it to take a lot of photos. So here are a couple boring ones for you...

That's right, gardening. This weekend was sunny and breezy and almost 80 degrees, so Cory and I worked in our vegetable garden. While cleaning out the beds and turning up the soil, I came across those little potato seedlings. They looked perfectly aubergine against the dark soil, so sweet and pretty. We put in 8 rows of sugar snap peas, can't wait to eat them! The peas are very early, so they'll be done just in time to put in tomatoes and beans and all such things. I'm getting very excited for our yummy produce.

Not pictured:
- a visit from my dear dad!
- baked some chocolate chip scones
- our first ICP board meeting... so official!
- a little peek at Annie's new house, it has lots of fun potential.
- Rita's... mmmmm, so good.
- massive cleaning of my closet, lots of new organization happening
- Sunday afternoon nap

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fairy Party

It's a busy day for me today, but I just wanted to pop in quickly and leave you with this magnificent image to start your weekend off right. I think it looks like a twilight fairy party, and I think they are having fun.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Papercutting by Elsita

The Heart Of Papercuts is "a blog entirely dedicated to the magic art of papercutting." Created by the amazing Elsa Mora, this blog features primarily her own stunning work. When I first saw her papercuts, I just stared at my computer screen, mouth agape. Her work is truly magical. I could re-post everything from her blog, but here's a few of my favorites...


When I was a kid, I was really interested in paper art, and loved experimenting with scherenschnitte and quilling. My mother has some lovely scherenschnitte pieces from Switzerland, and I remember just staring at them, trying to figure out how they were cut so perfectly. But then I grew up, and I became interested in other things, mainly design and interiors. When I came across Elsita's blog, my interest was rekindled, and I've been doing some of research on modern papercutting. It's weird though... I love this type of work so much, I'm a little afraid to try it (unusual for me). If I was an artist, this is exactly what I'd want to do.

Cory got me a lovely print from Elsita's shop and a set of papercut patterns for beginners. She sent along the sweetest note, encouraging me to try it and enjoy it. I've been working my way through the patterns, and love the process, it's so peaceful. I'm excited to keep learning, and try my hand at my own designs eventually.

Elsa Mora isn't only a papercut artist, she does lots of cool things. Check out her other blogs:
- general blog
- miniature art books
- personal style
- handmade dolls

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Before & After: Living Room

It's about time I posted some more before & afters from my home. If you remember the kitchen before & after, you'll recall that we knocked out a wall in between the living room and kitchen, or rather, widened the doorway a whole lot. That was the best thing we ever did... neither space is very large, and that wall made it feel so small and tight.

Here's the before photos...

 As you can see above, there's just a regular doorway into the kitchen, not very open and airy by any means.  We also had some gross carpeting (both visually and actually, there were stains all over it), crooked chair rail molding, along with plenty of dingy trim and paint.

Ready for an improvement? Here you go!

 A pretty big change, huh? The only thing that wasn't replaced was the windows. By doing almost all the work ourselves, we kept our budget pretty low. The chair rail molding looked awkward, so we removed it (a lot of the drywall came with it, so the walls had to be re-mudded).We installed wood flooring, new lighting, and new paint, of course. Add in some light, neutral furnishings with some colorful art, and ta-da, awesome new space.

You can see what a huge difference removing the wall made... I love how open it is to the kitchen now, and I use that peninsula constantly. The room is fairly narrow, so my furniture layout was pretty limited, but I'm very happy with the set-up. I tried to inject character into the room wherever I could, the Exepdit display area and the bookshelf corner accomplish just that.

If you want to view the coordinating kitchen before and after, click here, or see all posts in the before and after category.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


For those of you who haven't heard of Pinterest yet, prepare to have your mind blown. If you're familiar with it, you already know how awesome it is. From their site: "What is Pinterest? Pinterest is a social catalog service. Think of it as a virtual pinboard — a place where you can post collections of things you love, and "follow" collections created by people with great taste."

Basically, Pinterest is the coolest thing ever... you can "pin" any image, from any website. The best thing about it is once you pin something, it saves the original link. So say I want to pin a recipe... I just click my "pin it" button on my toolbar, select the image I want, what board I want it to save to, and I'm done. 6 months later when I finally get around to making that recipe, I just view my recipe board, find the image, click it, and it takes me back to where the recipe was originally posted.

The other best thing about it is that you can follow other people boards, and see what awesome stuff they found. If you really like it, you can re-pin their image to one of your boards.

I've found it's best to keep my board categories pretty specific. You can create any type of board you want, as many as you want. I've got 21 boards and counting, with topics ranging from DIY projects to pretty fireplaces.

Here's a look at one of my boards.. each image is a "pin"...

Here's a few of my boards, showing a preview of the pins I have placed on them.

And here's a specific pin... if I click this image it will take me back to where it was originally posted, a blog post containing DIY instructions for making that adorable garland.

Of course, it's not just good for saving pretty images, Pinterest makes a perfect shopping list. Save all the books you want to read this year, or a whole bunch of pillow options for your new couch. When you're ready to buy, you can go right to the store you saved it from.

Ready to get started? You can request an invite to join Pinterest (it's a free service!)... since it's fairly new there is a short waiting period, it took me about a week before my invite was accepted. Or, if you'll leave a comment on this post with your email address, I'll send you an invite and you can start right away.

Warning: Once you start pinning, you can't stop. I am so addicted to Pinterest, I'd rather surf their site than sleep. Remember on The Office when Michael said he didn't work for 5 days when he discovered YouTube? That's what I feel like.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Valentine

I am adamantly against excessive public mushiness, but it seems appropriate to give a little shout-out to my valentine on this day of love. If this freaks you out, quick, click away!

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." - Dr. Seuss

The photo above is from one of our very first dates... and I remember feeling exactly as the wise Dr. Seuss described. True love is miraculous thing, and I'm so glad to have this miracle in my life.
I love you, my forever valentine.

Catnip Valentine

I decided to take my own advice and adapt this idea for cat toys. I didn't have any felt on hand, so I used fabric scraps. I cut out some heart shapes with pinking shears, and sewed them up with embroidery thread. Before sewing them up completely, I stuffed them with cotton batting and dried catnip.

 The verdict? Kitties give 2 thumbs up. James likes to stick one under his head like a little pillow, Harrell loves batting them around, and Montreal just tries to hog them all and lick them to death.

Weekend Glimpse

I had a little Valentine crafting party with a few girl friends this past weekend, and it was so much fun.

I didn't worry with a fancy dessert table since the our focus was on crafting, but we did throw together some tasty treats. Annie brought a gigantic Symphony chocolate bar, Katie made mini hazelnut pancakes with a raspberry sauce (!!!) and cheesy toasted baguette with a rhubarb compote. I had some sugar cookies, chocolate dipped strawberries, and salted caramel cupcakes. The cupcakes, oh the cupcakes... they are the stuff dreams are made of. Of course, I was rushing around and just threw them together, so I'll have to recreate them from memory before I can post the recipe. I'll do my best to have it up within a week or so.

I set up a folding table to house all of our crafting supplies, and semi-organized them in trays.

I know the table looks like a disaster zone, but that's what happens when you are furiously crafting.

Some of our Valentine creations... it was so fun to see our different personalities emerge through paper, glitter, and glue.

Not pictured:
- spring weather and open windows
- bought some seeds! need to get my garden started.
- awesome new earrings
- ignored the messy house and worked on fun projects
- accepted to Crafty Feast!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Arrows

I just had to share one more Valentine project... these retro arrows from design*sponge are so awesome. I love that they're not too feminine, and would look very cool even after the holiday has passed. Get the DIY instructions here!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sugar Cookies

I've tried many sugar cookie recipes, but when I was given this recipe by a masterful-cookie-baking friend, I knew the search was over. The dough comes together quickly, doesn't need to be chilled, and holds it's shape perfectly. Sturdy enough for frosting, if you're into that kind of thing, but still soft and delicious.

Sugar Cookies

1/2 c. shortening

1 c. sugar
1 egg
3 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar, add the egg and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add to the shortening mixture, alternating with milk and vanilla. Mix until completely combined. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. (If you're going to add sprinkles instead of frosting, I like to spoon the sprinkles on while the cookie cutter is still holding the dough shape. I spread the sprinkles out with a fingertip and press into the dough lightly. The cookie cutter lets you get the sprinkles right up to the edge.) Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake about 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees. Cookie bottoms should be golden brown, but not edges. 

Note: If you have the William Sonama Message-in-a-Cookie Cutters, this dough works great with the cutters, and I prefer it to the recipe they include. You can tint this dough with food coloring, of course.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentines with Martha

As always, Martha Stewart is a never-ending fountain of good ideas when it comes to Valentine's Day. If you don't want to shell out for a purchased valentine card, or you prefer the handmade, here's some ideas for you to get crafty with.

From top, left to right:
Marbleized Valentines (marbleizing is so fun!)
Quilled Valentine Script (quilling is really easy and sooo pretty)
Valentine Cookies (or put a message on your cookies!)
Catnip Valentine (if you're not a knitter, apply the idea to these)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

House Beautiful: Pink!

In keeping with my current pink crush, I am in love with House Beautiful's latest issue.

 I love seeing how the color can transform a room. FYI, pink #7 is my favorite. If you like pink even a little, you'll love this issue. Grab it from a news stand, or better yet, subscribe!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekend Glimpse

 Birthday party for a sweet little cousin.

Making these for our new favorite meal: Spicy Bean Burritos

Birthday party again, for a dear friend's 30th, a surprise.
We were asked that if we wished to bring a gift, that it be 30 of something. 
I got her 30 yards of lovely ribbons.

Not pictured:
- Date night at The Lazy Goat
- First Fridays! Got to see Annie's new mini landscapes.
- Cory and I did a 5k, yes we did.
- a thunderstorm so loud it woke me up
- rain and sunshine
- cookies and cream ice cream