Thursday, April 21, 2011

Separating Egg Whites

One of Zach's favorite cakes is a Sour Cream Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. I made it a few weeks ago when we had all of our new friends over (pictured here).

The first time I made this cake, my mom and I were making two of them - one to eat and one to give away. My mom kept stressing the fact that you have to follow the directions exactly as provided. I made one cake - and it was gorgeous. Just perfect.

However, with one gorgeous cake under my belt, my baking ego must have grown a bit and my over confidence produced a less than desirable cake.  It could have been not sifting the flour five times or the fact that my peaks from whipping the separated egg whites weren't stiff enough. Who figured these directions out anyway?

Well, I learned my lesson on that one!

I also learned that enough icing can make every mistake okay.

When separating the egg, I would use the method of cracking the egg in half, and then moving the yolk from each half of the shell back and forth. Not only is this somewhat messy but if the edges of the egg poke the yoke, your done for! You've just ruined all 12 eggs you have to separate!

So, Martha Stewart, in all of her creativity taught me this idea. I thought I'd share with you.

All you have to do is lay a slotted spoon over the top of a bowl. You crack your egg, drop it into the spoon, and ideally, the egg whites drain to the bowl and the yolk stays in the spoon.
If you're okay with an extra dirty spoon instead of gooey fingers, this is definitely a go-to trick!

Much love, 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunday Funday

This past Sunday, Zach and I volunteered in the nursery at our church.

We were instructed to the newborn nursery, and I could tell that my manly-man husband was wishing he could do anything other than hold tiny babies. He even started to offer to go grocery shopping and stand in the long Wal-mart lines - anything to get out of this!

He was almost off the hook when we realized that there were just as many helpers as there were babies, and we volunteered to move across the hall to the 'Crawling-Walking' room where there was one helper to 20 kids. This was much more of Zach's element.

We put on our bright green aprons and went to work playing with the kids. They were all so precious!

I was quickly named the 'Baby Whisperer' which sounds like a complement but really it meant that it was my responsibility to quiet any crying  baby. To be honest, I didn't mind one bit! It was a fun challenge and I had learned my skills from my mom and sister.

Zach took to all the 'athletic' children and threw rubber softballs back and forth. He was also a gate-keeper for the few boys that kept trying to climb on the small plastic tables. Zach did great! From one little boy sucking Zach's thumb and drooling all over him, to stinky diapers, to a few tired babies, I was so impressed with my hubby.

I snapped this picture for your viewing pleasure - he's a natural!

[Sorry for the  blur, my subject wouldn't pause for a picture :) ]

After we said goodbye to all the children and were walking away from the huge 'Jonah and the Whale' mural, Zach looked at me tiredly and sweetly said, "I'm glad we're waiting another 5 years before we have kids!"

Is now a good time to let him know that if we are waiting 5 years for kids, we need to work in the nursery every Sunday so I can get my fill of children?

How about I save that conversation until after the kitchen remodel chat!

Much love,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm drooling over this kitchen!

Ever since our laminate counter top catastrophe (discussed here) - and by catastrophe, I'm not exaggerating. Not in the least. Nope, not here.

Okay, so maybe just a tiny bit.

Moving on, ever since our counter top mishap, I have been searching through pictures of some of the most stunning kitchens in America. One might think that a peeling counter would justify simply replacing the counter tops... no way! Now, I'm coming up with all kinds of ideas on how we should remodel our kitchen. New counter tops mean we should make sure everything is exactly as we would like to ensure we pick out just the right color counters.

Are you buying my logic here? I'm practicing for my kitchen-remodel-conversation with Zach. Believable, I think so!

Here's a kitchen that I absolutely L-O-V-E!

Are you drooling yet? The floors, the counter tops ... everything - I'm smitten! A great designer, Amy Meier, was hired to update a rather small and old stark white kitchen. She brought an immense amount of warmth to this space. To see the before and after pictures of her remodel, go here. (You'll likely be surprised by how nice the kitchen was pre-remodel - however, the after pictures are truly unmatched)

Check out those leathered granite counter tops. I've already started searching for similar granite at our local shops.

 I love how she layered neutral colors - rich mocha and a rusty terracotta, linen white cabinets, brass accents - I think it's simply beautiful.

She also had this table made - I think the cane chairs add so much character to the kitchen.

Just thought I'd share my latest kitchen inspiration. I can't wait to get started on my own project!

And, thanks for letting me practice my reasoning with you. I knew I could always count on you to agree with me!

Much love,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Accidents Happen

Remember in one of my last posts (found here), I mentioned not having anything in my house that I would cry over if it ruined? I spoke too soon...

Okay, so actually, I did really well. Anyone who knows me, also knows that I am slightly emotional. You should all be so proud - no tears here!

Accidents happen all the time and if I were to get upset about each one, I'd be a miserable person. So instead, I was left with only one option: laugh.

So here's what happened - My sweet husband decided to cook dinner for us. And boy, did he cook a great meal! Having just finished up a call with my Mom, I walked into the kitchen to find a husband and a table full of food. It smelled delicious and tasted even better.

After we scarfed down the food, it was time to clean up. I started wiping off the counter tops and found that a little accident had happened.

Right over here...

Apparently, my hubby set the piping hot pan he had been cooking the chicken in on our old laminate counter tops - causing the surface to peel up and bubble in three places.

Here's a close up of the big bubble... that also cracked.

And, here are the two smaller bubbles.

So what's an emotionally-prone girl to do? Well, I managed to laugh, kiss the cook, and remind him of the great dinner we just ate. And then, I may have just reminded him that I've always wanted granite counter tops.

Accidents happen - so let's make the best of it!
Much laughter,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A little inspiration for your day!

What are you doing to ensure that you live 'the width' of your life and not just the length? Recently, I've had an internal struggle with knowing that I can do so much more with my day to - challenge myself intellectually, do good for the community, encourage my husband, love our neighbors - the list goes on. Now that I have the internal debate going coupled with the motivation to do something, it must become action. For I would hate to think that my words and thoughts hold little influence on the way I spend my, ideally, very very wide life.

Food for thought!

Much love,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fabulous French Benches

Have you met Candice Olson yet?

Well, I haven't either - although, because I watch her on TV, sometimes I feel like we are friends.

She is the host of HGTV's show, Divine Design's, and always has such innovative decorating and remodeling ideas. Well, today, she was doing a basement makeover in a 'French' design scheme. French design may not be my cup of tea, but she created a space the owner of the home absolutely loved! That's what is important right?

That was Candice's design - I'm sure you got confused and thought with my design skills, I had done that myself - easy mistake to make. I'm sorry... no one would ever confuse my design skills and Candice Olson's - apparently, I need a little decorating pick-me-up today!

So, back to her design, I was so excited when she pulled out a fabulous french country bench to snug up to the table. Do you see it in the picture above?

You may be wondering why I was so excited.. well that's simple - because I have one too!

You see it over there in the corner?

That's right! Mine is stuck under our unfinished windows while not in use. Right now, I'm hoping that instead of you looking at our bare walls above, you'll look at the colorful pillows and cute bench! Distraction is key. However, if you come over tomorrow, you might find it in the hallway, laundry room, in front of the fire place, or somewhere else in my house. I seem to move it around a lot! Sometimes I even think I need another one... I don't.

I bought mine on sale at TJ Maxx for around $100. I've been hunting one down for my mom but can't find a good price yet. So far, the cheapest price on the web is $386. Yuck!

And since, I bought my bench prior to Candice filming this makeover, I think it's safe to say Candice and I should be friends and we have the same taste. So, Candice, my buddy, when you need help on your next design, you know who to call! I'm available - pretty much always available! 

p.s. I'm sorry for this post - I'm in rare form today!

Much love,

Burnt Toast Be-Gone!

Now, you can watch your bread as it toasts with this clever invention. If you're into sleek and modern designs, this would be the perfect staple to your kitchen.

This toaster is made of heated glass, which is currently being used in heated towel hangers and food warming shelves.  It is sleek, scientific, and artistic all at the same time!

This Transparent Toaster comes from the Inventables Concept Group, which has a huge collection of really great design ideas. Their website is full of materials that are cutting edge and will likely be used to create new inventions.

You can't buy this toaster yet, but according to new reports, it should be in production soon!

What will they think of next?


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Upholstered Ottomans

I have a new love for upholstered ottomans when used as coffee tables. I want one - actually, I've already picked it out and chosen the fabric, I just have to settle up on some internal debates and cough up the money to get it. Oh why does money have to limit my decorating desires! I've found a great deal on one so if it works out in the next few weeks, I'll definitely let you know!

Here's a reminder of what my living room looks like right now.

We inherited that coffee table and it's been great to have! When we got it, it had green legs so I slapped a little black paint on it and felt accomplished. Somehow, huge gashes have started to develop on its surface with no explanation. It could be my construction-loving, steel-boot wearing hubby or some other unexplainable force. Unfortunately, my wood markers just don't seem to be fixing the fake-wood surface.

So, it's time for a new table. Here's what I'm thinking to replace it.
I really like 'leggy' ottomans and in particular, these legs. With our overstuffed floral chair as well as a few patterned pillows, I thought it might be best to keep the pattern on the ottoman simple. 

Here's an up close view of the fabric I'm considering. It is called Wingate and is made by CraftMaster.

What do you think? And as always, here are a few of my inspiration photos!

They are all so beautiful! I am still working through my internal struggles of loving light colored fabrics but knowing that a coffee table a.k.a. a foot rest for dirty boots cannot be a light fabric. I refuse to have anything in my house that I am going to cry over if it gets ruined.

So, cheers! Here's to a dark upholstered ottoman/coffee table that can be spilled on, sat on, and hold dirty feet! 

Much love,

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Kings Lane

I am a big fan of One Kings Lane. Not only do they have a very classy website, they offer some great products at very reasonable prices.

According to their website, One Kings Lane partners with top brands and designers to give members insider access to designer d├ęcor, entertaining and travel needs, food & wine, fantastic gift selections, and exclusive tag sales curated by today's top tastemakers – at up to 70% off retail.

Here's the nitty gritty of how One Kings Lane works. All sales last for 72 hours. They have a limited number of each item, so once it sells out, the item is gone. If the item has a 'On Hold' icon, it means that someone has placed the last one in their shopping cart, and they have a given amount of time to buy the item before it returns to the store for someone else to pick up.

Here are some of my favorite items on the website today. 

Petit Coterie
Dainty Spoon Tea Towel, Set of 2 for $19

Entomology of Dragonfly Linen Pillow for $65

Lavender Botanical Flowers Linen Pillow for $69

Natural Tea Linen Pillow for $69

Vintage Oats Burlap Pillow for $49

Madison Vine

2 Faux Maidenhair Ferns for $39

White Wax Flowers for $29
 Easter Sprouts for $15

 Feel free to shop on your own. You can check out their website here!

p.s. One Kings Lane does not know me or this blog. I just happen to love home decor items and great deals!

Much love,

Take your pick!

Our cute little home has two great guest bedrooms that share a bathroom. It's a pretty interesting set-up that keeps my imagination going with ways to add a bathroom or add a hallway half-bath. I'm becoming very good at adding to Zach's 'Honey-do' list.

I have a lot of work to do on these guest bedrooms but at least there's one important thing in each room... a bed!

Here is the bedroom on the right:

 You see that picture with the geese? Yep, that's one wild-game picture moved out of the living room. 

From Guest Bedroom #1, you enter what I have deemed 'The Library'. If we had kids, it would be a great place to stash their toys. But since we don't, and won't for quite a while, we've made it into a room to stash all of our childhood memories and books.

I found this sweet bear chair at a large furniture store down the street. When I saw it, it was broken and in need of some TLC. I offered $5 for it and they quickly said 'Sure!'. I love it! 


From The Library, you enter into our guest bathroom. I love this little bathroom (which just so happens to be larger than the master bathroom - which also means that renovating the master bath is on Zach's Honey-do list!)

I bought this picture because it reminds me of all the Betty's in my life (I have 3 Grandmas and 1 Mom named Betty - whew!) and because I have such fond childhood memories of going to the beach every summer. 

Here is a view of our backyard from the guest bathroom. We have a huge Dogwood and tons of Camelias back there... and as you can see, a really nice power line that cuts straight through our yard.

Here's a view of the bathroom from the second guest bedroom (the one on the left from the hallway).

And, here's the bed in the second guest bedroom. I stole the nightstand I originally had in here for the living room. So I snagged a TV tray out of the closet and am using it right now instead.

Stashed in this room just so happens to be a few wild animal pictures. My husband loves turkey hunting - so most of the animal pictures featured in this room are turkeys (as well as the large picture in the living room).  In the picture below, you can also see the door to the other guest bedroom.

Come over and pick your room to stay in! They're always changing and improving so I'll keep you posted on the progress!

Much love,