she’s 1!: braden’s one-year-old birthday party

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged…mostly because I spend my life online editing and running AOL’s Roswell Patch news site now.

But I wanted to take a brief moment to post something on the birthday party we threw for B this past weekend. Thanks to inspiration found scouring other blogs and Pinterest, I think we pulled it off rather nicely. Take a look and see what you think.

fall baking…

I promise I have interests other than decorating, DIY, clothes and baking…but where’s the fun in talking about those?! This is the place I get to express my Martha Stewart/Rachael Ray/Rachel Zoe wannabe sides…so here I go again…

It’s fall and that means I want to be surrounded by pumpkin and gourd displays, candles, chrysanthemums, Bath & Body Works scents – and baked goods. Oh, I know I shouldn’t and that the danger of overindulging is ever present. I know that if I do, the scale isn’t my friend, especially now that I’m pregnant.

But alas, my love affair with baked good persists. It’s not only the scrumptious treats that come from the baking, it’s the baking itself that I’m drawn to. I find it therapeutic for some reason. I always have.

Luckily, I have two men in my house that will share in the burden of ridding the evidence and I won’t be tempted for too long.

The weekend after this I have four of my college roommates coming to stay with me, so I’ve already begun to plan the indulgent goodies I want to have on-hand for their stay. After all, late night gab sessions are no good without decadent desserts and junk food, right?

Here are a few of the recipes I might try:

Just the thought of this fall-ish breakfast food makes my mouth water! Check out the recipe for these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls at goodLife {eats}.

 

(Image found at goodLife {eats})

 

Then there’s always this Carrot Cheesecake recipe from Better Homes and Gardens!

 

(Image found at Better Homes and Gardens)

 

Or perhaps this Apple Crisp from Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys is the way to go….

 

(Image found at Food Network)

 

Then again, maybe we’ll just try all three… 😉

layla grace…

Maybe it’s because our house is in a constant state of renovation. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant. Maybe it’s because their stuff is just so dang beautiful, but I’m enamored….

“Enamored with whom?” You’re asking yourself.

Layla Grace.

My friend Jen sent me a link to the website some time ago and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the home and lifestyle company’s aesthetic. They offer something for everyone in the way of home decoration, personal style and children necessities. One minute I’m browsing through home accessories and the next I’m dreaming of crib bedding for Braden’s nursery or  drooling over a delicious fall recipe on the blog! It’s a whirlwind of sweet ideas!

Layla Grace is breezy and substantial all at once. I adore that. To me, there is nothing better.

So go ahead, pour yourself another cup of coffee and take a daydream journey through some of their latest blog posts this morning. I know I am.

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} we're doing Braden's nursery in gray with pops of accent colors, which is probably why this layout appeals to me soooo much!

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} i'm dreaming of cozy fall fires and boots and apple picking and comfort with this...currently remodeling our living room space and adding beautiful details like these are on my to-do list!

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} i love how sweet, simple and traditional this crib is! for Braden, we're refinishing an older crib

{photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} yum...that's pretty much all i have to say about this...what an easy and delicious fall snack!

can’t get enough of “Young House Love”!

When a friend of mine recently dropped the name of a blog called “Young House Love,” I had never heard of it before. But you better believe I’m addicted now!!

John and Sherry Petersik

They are totally my kind of couple and as I sit here reading all of their tips, tricks and DIY ideas I am suddenly overcome with the undeniable urge to DO SOMETHING!! I feel like making a fabric headboard, repainting all of my trim, running down to IKEA, heading out to a thrift store, yanking all of the furniture out of our house and bringing it back in (or not) piece by piece until I achieve the exact look I’m going for…which might be hard, since I don’t have a detailed vision yet, just a feeling I desire to convey. So how do I get from here to there? Young House Blog even has a section to help you with that (Pin Down Your Style or Decorate in Stages)!!!

Check out this monogram art piece that I’m definitely going to replicate somewhere in my house (with an “F” of course)! SO easy and lovely!!!

Detailed instructions on how to create your own can be found here. (p.s. That’s a Halloween/fall motif they’ve set up on the entryway table.)

It really is one of the best step-by-step blogs I’ve ever come across and I’m sure it will be a repeat destination in my internet search history.

things i love right now…

So, life has gotten away from me and I’ve not had a chance to update this blog in a while…what else is new, right?

We’ve been busy working on our house (again, what else is new?) and juggling summer activities. Michael finally installed BEAUTIFUL hardwoods in our dining room and we’ve decided to keep them going into the living room now since he’s doing them himself, which lessens the cost tremendously. We’ve also repainted our front deck and pulled up the horrible bushes that blocked its view (you can’t tell in the shot below, but I swear it’s true!). The front of our house is now like a breath of fresh air. Still a ways to go, but little by little…I LOVE sitting out there with Michael in the evenings when things have cooled off a bit and we’re in the mood to dream up new projects.

Here’s what the deck looked like before.

Maybe it’s all this home renovation, but lately I’m so drawn to all things domestic.

I’m in love with looking at design ideas and trying to make things warm and welcoming. On the flip side, this need to nest also frustrates me to death because a lack of funds, time and energy make most of what I conjure up or fall in love with inaccessible to my own life. Still…a girl can wander furniture stores, home supply and home decoration stores with little more than dreams, right?

My love of using these wonderfully warm summer months to create new things is not limited to home decoration. I’m also making my way into the kitchen thanks to inspiring Food Network shows (Cupcake Wars, anyone?). My mom and I recently spent a Saturday morning picking blueberries at a local patch. Two pounds of berries later, I have made a trifle, blueberry pancakes (or pankpanks, as my niece calls them!) and a fruit salad…have I mentioned how much I love summer?? Now that I’m out of blueberries, I’m going to try my hand at using yeast and baking the bread my mother-in-law is so famous for! Cross your fingers…

For now, check out a few of the things I’m loving right now:

So into hand painted furniture right now…

Image found: Furniture Fashion

Image found: Painted Furniture Online

…and English gardens….

Image found: Landscape Design Advisor

…and Martha Stewart-style parties that are more Bohemian…

Image found: Pinecone Camp

…and dreaming of where we’ll take our next international vacation…Costa Rica perhaps???

Image found: Guanamar Hotel

Image found: Guanamar Hotel

Ok, got to run…more later 🙂

bimini…

I recently had the privilege of running over to Bimini in the Bahamas with my uncle, aunt and cousins aboard their boat. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour trip from Ft. Lauderdale over, so not bad at all! We even dropped in some lines and caught six mahi (two got away) within about 20 minutes! Seriously good fishing out there for anyone who loves deep sea.

Unfortunately the weather kicked up a bit and we had to return to Florida after only one night, so I didn’t see much of the island, but what I did see definitely makes me want to return sometime!

Here are a few pictures, enjoy!


sixx design

Has anyone else seen the Bravo TV show, “9 by Design?”

Image by The New York Times

I’ve become a little addicted to it. In case you don’t know, here’s a short overview: Husband and wife, Robert and Cortney Novogratz, have seven children….that’s right, seven. The ages range from 12 to 8 months or something like that. For the last 10 years they have been demolishing, renovating and redesigning old spaces into livable areas as the design firm, Sixx Design (named for the six children they had at the time).
Case in point, a recent episode highlighted the fact that one of the unconventional home spaces they were working on used to be a Manhattan sex club. Yeah…not your typical home renovation. Now, mind you, neither of them has any traditional training as designers. But they sure have a knack for it. You should see these uber cool, beautiful spaces they come up with!

Let me tell you what I love:

1) The kids names: Wolfgang, Bellamy, Tallulah, Breaker, Five, Holleder and Major. Right off the bat, they just sound like super cool people…though I know not everyone would agree with me, I love the names!

2)Their style: They have this wild, “I just threw this on” kind of messy downtown look to all of them, kids included. I love it.

3)And of course, their design aesthetic: Seriously, just watch the show (or check out their website) to see the amazing aesthetic this duo has!! They each come from the South and I think it definitely plays into their designs, which combine traditional with modern, vintage with contemporary and Southern antique with New York eclectic. If I had endless amounts of money, their design style is exactly what I’d be shooting for. Beautiful. Seriously. Check it out.

Image from Casa Sugar

Image from Magnificent Me

Image from WeHeart.

Image from WeHeart.

Image from WeHeart.

Image from WeHeart.

Image from WeHeart.

chocolate praline layer cake…

Ok, so it’s been a while…

I’ve been extremely busy with work (a good thing for the most part), working on the house, and traveling. And it’s not even that I have much interesting to say today, but I want to get back into the swing of things.

What better way than to share a delicious baking recipe?!

I found and fell in love with this recipe during college and have made it a handful of times over the years since. I’m all about semi-homemade greatness and this recipe takes the cake…literally! (My apologies for the shameless pun).

The most recent time I’ve made it was this past weekend for a Mother’s Day celebration. Though the cake was falling apart (it was still too warm when I had to get it ready) and not super pretty, the cake stand was practically licked clean by the time I took it home. 🙂

Try it for yourself and see what you think!

Chocolate Praline Layer Cake (by Julie Bengtson, winner of a Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest during 1988)

INGREDIENTS
Cake
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 (18.25-oz.) pkg. Pillsbury® Moist Supreme® Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs

Topping
1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
16 pecan halves, if desired
16 chocolate curls, if desired

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 325°F. In small heavy saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup whipping cream and brown sugar. Cook over low heat just until butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Pour into two 9 or 8-inch round cake pans; sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.
2. In large bowl, combine cake mix, water, oil and eggs; beat at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Carefully spoon batter over pecan mixture.
3. Bake at 325°F. for 35 to 45 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.
4. In small bowl, beat 1 3/4 cups whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form.
5. To assemble cake, place 1 layer on serving plate, praline side up. Spread with half of whipped cream. Top with second layer, praline side up; spread top with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with whole pecans and chocolate curls. Store in refrigerator.

once upon a rainy thursday…

We’ve been having such gorgeous weather (“hot,” according to my husband, but I LOVE it!) that I almost don’t mind the rain today. Plus, on the bright side, it’s washing away the yellow film of pollen that has absolutely covered EVERYTHING outdoors.

So, browsing the web it is!

Here are some of the things I can’t get enough of:

{From top to bottom, left to right, images found: Eden Roc (I just LOVE the lobby, it’s such a beautiful mix of vintage and contemporary); J. Crew ; Harbor Beach Resort (I’m going to be here in a week!); Peter Som (Spring-Summer ’09 Collection); BBB Craft Sisters (crafty blogging site)}

ready made…

So, I am completely obsessed with this new magazine/website: Ready Made.

I stumbled upon it on accident at San Vito’s one night, while waiting for our pizza to come out of the oven. I couldn’t put it down!

First, let me say, I love how Ready Made runs down inspirational ideas and concepts in its pages. It takes potentially complex activities and breaks them down into manageable projects. And, surprise, surprise, nearly everything you read about can be duplicated in your own life, be it going green, crafting, building, traveling, ect. (hence the name Ready Made…). They even tell you exactly what materials you’ll need and how much it will all most likely cost you so you know before you attempt any DIY projects.

Here are some of my most recent favorites:

-Men’s wear button-front mini. Maybe I’m ultra-loving this because I just finished my own version of a seersucker mini and wore it last week (thank you very much!) But, this Wren clothing line inspired mini seems so much simpler and just as cute, here are the step-by-step directions on how to make it.

{Image by Kathryn Gambel for Ready Made}

-Trail-mix bars. Yum. Pretty much sums it up! Recipe found here.

{Image by Kim Cornelison for Ready Made}

-Solar firefly lanterns. Wow. That’s putting it lightly. How adorable are these little lanterns?! Remember when you were a kid and you used to catch fireflies and put them in a jar? This is the grown up version. I’m thinking of making a few for my front porch now. Here’s how.

{Image from Ready Made}