Saturday, June 23, 2012

First Time Homebuyers!!

So I have not been blogging because I have not had five minutes to myself...until now! (correction, when all was said and done it took me several hours to finish this post because of various interruptions)

A lot has changed in my life these days, my husband and I have purchased our first home!! I am bursting with joy and happiness and so thrilled that words can't even begin to describe. So needless to say there will be many a home related post in the future. It is an older home (built in the 80's) and I think that was the last time anything has been done to it. Before we moved in we just wanted to recarpet and 2 weeks later the house is still "under construction" :) and it probably will be for many years to come.

Although I don't have the best before pictures because things happened so quickly so, you will have to bear with me on that, I am excited to share some before and after shots. On another note, I have been obsessed with Jen's blog I Heart Organizing and on her blog she has shown pictures of reader's pantries that look like this and this. Things in clear jars and labeled so beautifully and they got my inspired to make my pantry look prettier (now that I actually have a pantry!).

It all started with a trip to the local dollar tree where I found these colorful tubs (that I am planning on using for snacks and things) and these smaller glass jars. I figured I didn't want to buy much else until I was in the space more.

Then I got inspired by this blog on Honey We're Home about spice jars that she purchased at crate and barrel (I don't have one that close to me). But I was at World Market (seriously LOVE that place) and found these small spice jars for $1 each. I bought all the jars they had (15 total) and they look almost identical to the other jars! And I also picked up a deoderizer for the fridge (because it was purple and cute) and a green glass bottle for my olive oil and a small wooden jar for salt. Although I have a salt shaker I wanted something I could put my kosher salt into for easy access when I cook, and lastly I had been thinking that I wanted to do a nautical them in our hallway bathroom. It is the bathroom that our boys will use and will also serve as a guest bath so I didn't want to much of a kid theme in there (like mickey mouse, toy story or spongebob) so when I saw this soap and lotion dispenser I knew they would be perfect!

On a side note my husband totally made fun of me when I showed him the soap and lotion and was excited. His response? "Who cares?! I have never walked into a bathroom at someone's house and said 'I really like that soap thing' or 'I really like how they decorated' now if they have nice tile that's something to notice." He just doesn't appreciate the little things like I do :)

Also at World Market I found this huge ball of rope that I loved but didn't want to shell out the money for just yet and the hook anchor, they are in the back of my mind but I wasn't ready to commit until I have the space more completed.

Also on a recent trip to target I bought a couple of things, again keeping a nautical theme in mind I bought that shell plate and two paper boxes with ribbon handles in the dollar section. Then in the bath section I bought the soap dispenser (before I bought the other soap dispenser oops!) and a round jar (I think these were on clearance). I am thinking of trying a DIY project with the jar so we will see how that goes.

So excited for all the possibilities of our new house! :)
I hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Make your own Photo Canvas!!

This post begins with a mission, after seeing this blog post on A Beautiful Mess Blog, (originally I had seen this idea on pinterest) I was completely inspired. Since my grandmother's birthday was coming up I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out. My grandma hates when we spend money on her so photo related gifts are always great for her. {fun fact: my grandma hates us making a fuss over her for any reason and she also hates us buying her anything for her birthday, mother's day, etc., but she tends to get less mad at us grandkids and great grandkids then at my mom and aunts :)}

Now, I don't go through the step by step instructions of how to do it on this post because I think A Beautiful Mess' post does a great job of that, but I assure you the process is very easy!

So after reading the bog post, I made a list (love making lists lately!) and headed out to Michael's the next day. Below is my haul.

Due to the fact that I have a busy work schedule lately and that we have had 2 little ones over the years I don't have as much crafting supplies readily available (my hubby packed up some of my stuff and put it in our shed outside, I was just happy he didn't throw it away to be honest) so I needed quite a few things. I got some inexpensive brushes, acrylic paints, paint holder wells, canvas and the gel medium (I got a glossy one).

I couldn't resit these tiny easels, so cute! I decided to practice with one of these the day before I was to execute the one for my grandma.

Now because of the time crunch I used my printer which is an inkjet printer, I figured I would just give it a shot and see what happened.

Bad idea, talk about a fail, it looked terrible! Next stop? Running to my parents house to use my dad's laser printer.

Some of my picture weren't working when I plugged my memory card in so I ended up only with this one of all three pictures applied face down to the canvas using a coat of the gel medium.

Here I am taking the paper off after wetting the picture

And here is what they looked like when they were finished. I painted the edges black to give them a more "finished" look.

I wrapped each one individually with some tissue paper and ribbon, I loved the bag I got from Target.

Here is the finished bag.

I usually always make my boys give her presents, she can't get mad at them!

I have to admit she was a little upset "that I wasted so much paper and ribbon on her."

Overall she really loved them. On the right of that last picture is my aunt, we call her loops a.k.a. the picture lurker (seriously she could be a professional picture lurker!)

So overall it was great, I am excited to make more. The main reason I love these is that I can display them on lower tables and shelves and not have to worry about my boys knocking them down and glass breaking, which also works well for my grandma when the little ones are visiting her. For these I tried to cover the canvas with the medium as much as possible to get a complete image, when I do make more:
  • I will probably not go all the way to the edge of the canvas to give more of a vintage feel
  • I also noticed when I took off the paper I had some globs of medium on the side edges of the canvas so I need to make sure I wipe the sides before letting dry, otherwise it's harder to get off and I have to admit I left some on since I would be painting it black anyways
  • I want to experiment with making some and painting the edges a color instead of black
  • I have also seen tutorials online using the same technique and wood instead of canvas so I am definitely going to try that as well!
Happy Crafting and hope everyone has a great weekend, I know mine will be extremely BUSY! (I haven't yet decided if that will be a good or bad thing)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Brazilian Carrot Cupcakes!!!

First I must begin this post by saying that in general I do not really care for carrot cake. I think it is something with the consistency that I just don't like. So I was thrilled to see a Brazilian carrot cake recipe on The Chew (I am pretty obsessed with that show!) here is where you can find the recipe courtesy of Johnny Iuzzini. Now why is it Brazilian? I know you are dying to know, he said on the show is that the real difference is that this carrot is pureed and traditional carrot cake is shredded so it is a different  consistency. I will list the original recipe and also note the changes I made.

The reason I made these cupcakes is that my family was going to get together at my aunt's house to celebrate my cousin's birthday and also my grandma's birthday. My cousin doesn't like cake but I know my grandma's favorite cake is carrot so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try out this recipe :)

Here are my ingredients (carrots and eggs are from my local farmer's market)


1 lb. of carrots
4 eggs
8 oz. of oil (1 cup I used canola because that was what I had on hand)
16 oz. of sugar (2 cups I only used 1 1/2, but will try one cup next time)
9 oz. of flour (I used a rounded cup)
1 tablespoon of butter (omitted because it was for the cake pan, I made cupcakes)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Step 1: prepare your pan with butter and flour (do this if you are making a cake, I knew I would be taking this to my aunt's house so I opted to make cupcakes, and in general I just love making cupcakes more than cakes) and preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Step 2: Sift together dry ingredients and peel and roughly chop the carrots.

Because my blender is not top quality and because I really wanted to make sure I got a good consistency I shredded my carrots, it took a couple of extra minutes but I think it was worth it.

Step 3: In a blender combine carrots, eggs, oil and sugar. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the dry ingredients.

I took the folding in part literally and had a little bit of flour left unincorporated, OOPS, next time I will use a whisk! 

I was very excited to use these colorful cupcake liners I got a while back at Michael's, I tend to buy cupcake liners like crazy! 

Ready for the oven! I have to admit that the batter was pretty runny and I was a little bit nervous that they were not going to come out good so I only cooked half at first and then when they actually worked I baked the other half, also because the batter was on the runny side I didn't want to overfill for fear that I would have a big mess since the batter was on the runny side. 

Fresh from the oven, I love that you can still see the all the beautiful colors of the liners (it always makes me sad when I have pretty liners and I make chocolate cupcakes and you can't see the liner anymore). Also, the recipe called for 40 min. of baking, since I made cupcakes as opposed to a 9x13 pan, I baked for 25 min. and it was the perfect amount of time. 

I know traditionally carrot cake is usually served with cream cheese frosting but I wasn't sure that would go over well with everyone so I played it safe and used regular vanilla (store bought) frosting. The recipe also included a homemade chocolate frosting recipe that I didn't make this time but I will one day. I also purposefully left some of them unfrosted because my grandma and mom don't care too much for frosting.

 I love this cupcake carrier from the Martha Stewart line at Macy's (she can really do no wrong in my eyes I love almost everything she makes) the white trays the cupcakes are on turn over and are completely flat to transport cookies or a pie (big thank you to my cousin Crystal for introducing me to this amazing carrier!). There is a cupcake missing, I couldn't resist, but the recipe made 24 cupcakes filled about 3/4 of the way with the batter. 

My grandma blowing out a candle on one of the cupcakes :)

I will also say that having had one of the cupcakes fresh from the oven and then a couple more the next day at the party I noticed a difference. The next day the carrot flavor was much more pronounced and the color was also a bit more vibrant. In general they are very light and fluffy, these might just be my new favorite cupcake!

Next time I make them I am going to try only a cup of sugar (I have a lot of diabetes on both sides of my family as well as my husbands side) and I am also thinking about trying to cut out half of the oil by replacing it with applesauce. In general I am just excited about these, everyone loved them at the party too :)

Happy baking everyone!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Farmer's Market Fun

Where we live I am fortunate enough to have access to three farmer's markets that run on a weekly basis. As I get more into the habit of planning out my food menu for a week (I'm not going to lie this is still a struggle) I love the idea of buying as much of that menu as possible from local growers. I have to admit that one of the markets has too much of a "commercial" feel to it and I would probably only go there if I was really desperate for something. The other two are great for different things, I love the produce at both, I prefer the flowers from one more than the other, one of them will sometimes have fresh seafood (swoon!), I prefer the bread from one, and the one I went to yesterday I love for the fresh herbs and selection of succulents.

Here is my oldest son pushing my younger son in the stroller, he begged me saying that he is old enough now that he just turned 6 :) he sold me when he promised he wouldn't run into anything.

 The aforementioned succulents, I am so making a terrarium using these this summer!

My little one playing with an old cell phone in front of the flowers (not the selection I prefer, the other market has more unique looking flowers, but notice the bunch in my bag!)

I love this random picture I took of my son in front of an empty store front downtown, I especially love that you can see my little one in the reflection of the window.

My farmer's market haul, admittedly not the biggest (due to lack of planning my meals for the week) I mainly wanted to go to get fresh carrots for a carrot cake and I LOVED the ones I got they were huge and delicious. I also got some eggs, a few cookies for my boys, lemon pepper seasoning and flowers.

So the flowers are not the most amazing but I am a sucker for fresh flowers, I usually love to get the ones that are on clearance at Fresh and Easy because with the flower food they come with they will still usually last a week to two weeks. Also, since my husband can not buy flowers without going all out (going to the florist and paying obscene amounts of money for a dozen roses, he was literally shocked at the sticker price on a dozen roses the first time he looked at a supermarket!) it works out better for me if I buy them myself.

And speaking of Fresh and Easy, at the end of the year last year/beginning of this year (my memory is foggy) I bought this vase there on clearance for around $4! It is a little chipped but you can barely tell, I don't mind and I still love it anyways :)

Well I guess that is all for now, very excited to post more tomorrow! Hope your weekends were as great as mine was.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Third Time's a Charm

I can be a very absent-minded person at times. I wasn't always this way, I SWEAR, it seemed to get worse each time I got pregnant and it has kind of lingered around and every now and then annoys me.

Like this week, I washed a load of towels (mostly my kids' towels) only to realize the next morning that I never put them in the dryer. So I washed them again and put them in the dryer, only to find out later that I never turned the dryer ON! So I washed them again for the third time this morning and luckily the third time was a charm for me! I am truly a dork, but it did give me a good opportunity to laugh at myself today which oddly enough I don't think I do enough of.

Above is a picture of the aforementioned load of laundry. And in the background my bright pink laundry room walls (one of the many things I will miss when we move out of our house)

I am very excited for upcoming blog posts, I have several planned:
~my boys and I took a trip to one of our local farmer's markets
~I made a very cool craft project that I don't think I will EVER stop talking about
~I made some delicious Brazilian carrot cupcakes!

 So far it has been a busy weekend and it is only Saturday night and the good news is that I am feeling accomplished and happy :)