Oct 28, 2013

Fall Front Porch Decorations

These days, most stores are skipping over this Fall season and going straight to Christmas.  Normally I am all for this, as Christmas is my absolute favourite and Halloween is by far my least favourite.  However, this year I am trying to live in the moment and embrace life as it happens.  

Right now, that means I am embracing the Fall theme on my front porch.  It is, quite honestly, the first time I have ever decorated my house for Fall - minus a wreath.  (like I said, I'm a Christmas girl, so usually my money goes towards lights and candy canes.)  

What do you think of my first attempt?

I started by getting out my only Fall item: this wreath.  I made it a couple of years ago when I first got married.

Then I bought a large plant for next to my door.

I went to our local dollar store and picked up a couple of fake flowers and some fake pumpkin/gourds and arranged them inside of my hanging planter.  On the front, I attached a Happy Halloween sign I made.  (Small piece of scrap wood, orange paint, and "Happy Halloween" vinyl sticker)

To the right of my front door, I created this pumpkin and leaves arrangement.  Two orange pumpkins we picked out (and will later carve).  A fake white monogrammed pumpkin I bought on sale at a craft store.  A strand of Fall leaves garland. And a yard of burlap.  

I know it is my first attempt, but I think it turned out pretty well.  I'm really excited to have such a festive front porch!

Happy Halloween!

Aug 30, 2013

Glamping Date Night

My husband and I love to camp. But, it's friggin' hot outside right now. So I opted for a cooler (air-conditioned), more luxurious, method to get the camping...without the camping.  :)  Glamping = perfect solution.

It was my turn to plan date night, so I thought I'd surprise him.  It was more prep, but it was super fun!  I knew my husband would love it!

Of course, this one day he absolutely "HAD" to come home..several times throughout the day.  He came up with excuses, but I honestly think he was just trying to spy on the prep.  Punk.  But I prevailed and he didn't see anything.  Muwahaha.

It started with this teaser sign I created and posted on the garage door for him to see as he walked in.  And, while I had kept it a secret, I found out that he had no idea what "Glamping" is.  So it didn't matter if I kept it a secret or not.  *sigh*  

 I set up our tent in the living room, and strung Christmas lights so we could 
"sleep under the stars".

Normally when camping, as is common custom, we simply sleep in sleeping bags on the ground.  However, as this was GLAMping, I wanted to make it a little more luxurious and fancy.  So I inflated our queen-sized air mattress, and made the bed with soft sheets and warm blankets. 

Next, since our tent is so big, I added a sitting area near the bed.  It had a little side table (set with our picnic fixin's) on top of a kitchen mat to give it a more homey feel, 

a blanket and a stack of pillows to lean on, 

and our activities for the night.  We have been planning and saving for an Italy vacation since we got married just over two years ago.  And we will be going this September!  It's finally happening!!  We had already decided to spend the evening planning out our Roman adventures, so I wanted to give us a little inspiration by watching 'Roman Holiday'.  It was the perfect way to start our Rome planning.  

I also added some decorations to the tent (old cans that I added the word 'GLAMP' onto, and strung on the entrance to the tent.)

No campsite is complete without a fire!  Since we were indoors and our house, unfortunately, doesn't have a fireplace, I made a makeshift fire pit. I used rocks from our front yard, another strand of Christmas lights, and empty toilet paper rolls for the wood logs.  Then I placed a bunch of random animals around it, and two marshmallows on skewers to finish off the look.

 Next was dinner.  I splurged and bought a few steaks (because this was date night, and my poor husband rarely gets a nice big slab of red meat..sorry babe!).  Plated the grilled steaks with a side of sauteed asparagus, craisins, and pine nuts, and a hearty helping of mashed red potatoes.  And, of course, paired with one of our favourite local red wines.

 We enjoyed our dinner while watching the fabulous classic movie 
(Blair's first time seeing 'Roman Holiday'!!)

 For dessert I made a Smore's Pie.  I HAD to get my smore's in somehow!!  And this was certainly tasty.  Rich as can be though....Blair and I ended up splitting a piece because it was so decadent.  But oh so tasty.

Even our sweet kitty wanted in on the action.  She kept trying to jump in through the "windows" of our tent.  It was hilarious.  We finally just picked her up and brought her into the tent with us, and she slept comfortably in the pillow "sitting area".  Love it!  :)

 We sure had fun GLAMping!  Has anyone else tried it?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Aug 20, 2013

Anniversary Gift

Two years.  2 whole years that have just flown by.  I have LOVED being married to my absolutely fabulous husband, and can't believe it's been so long.  (I get that in the grand scheme of things, 2 years is teeny and we are still practically newlyweds.  but still!)  I guess it is true, "Time flies when you are having fun"!

So what is the two year "recommended" gift?  Well that depends on if you are traditional or modern.  If you are traditional, you give Cotton.  Sexy, huh.  If you are modern you give China.  Again I say, sexy huh.  

I personally like to try to combine the traditional and modern.  So this year I decided to make a creative gift...something that is cotton but made in China.  Seems easy enough.

Surprisingly more difficult than I had expected.  I had so many plans, but there are more and more supplies made in the USA.  (Go USA!  but boo for my project)

I came up with a painted canvas, that had some of our most significant dates on it.  (I had wanted to paint it with China Blue paint, but I couldn't find it anywhere.  And all the acrylic paints in my hobby shop were made in the US and didn't have the words "cotton" or "china" in them. boo again)

But luckily the canvas itself was Cotton and made in China!  So boom.  

Canvas - I used a 9" x 12"
Acrylic Paint (2 colours)
Sponge paint brush
Number stickers
Individual letter stamps
Stamp pad

1.  Paint the canvas in the colour you want your numbers to be written in.  I wanted yellow numbers, so voila.
2.  Once it's dry, align the stickers on your canvas to display your special dates.
These are our dates.  :)
3.  Once the stickers are thoroughly placed, paint over the canvas with your second paint colour.  Let dry.
4.  I needed to paint the second colour several times to fully cover the first.
5.  Once the paint is completely dry, peel off the stickers.  I used my craft tweezers to help grab the little edges.
6.  After all of the stickers are removed, you may notice that some of the paint bled over.  Bummer.  But easily fixed.  Just take a little paint brush and use the first paint colour to do any touch-ups necessary.
7.  Then I took my individual letter stamps and inked them on to the canvas, describing what each date represents.  (come on ladies, we all know the men in our lives need that little bit of description added. :) )
Finished product!  I love how it turned out!!

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Babe!

Jun 24, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I love my husband's birthday.  My family always gave the birthday girl/boy full dibs on what we would do and eat throughout the day.  I really enjoyed it, because it meant the day was all about me!  :)  But it was a lot of pressure trying to figure out what to do.  And for me, a full-time people pleaser, it was stressful trying to come up with something that I really wanted, but also something that everyone else would enjoy too.  Lots of fun, and lots of pressure. 

But Blair's family was opposite.  They had to come up with things that they thought the birthday boy would want and surprise him with it.  I love this idea, because then it a) takes pressure off the bday person and b) makes your loved ones think really hard about you and what you would like.  And yet, as much as I love the idea, when it comes time for Blair's birthday, the pressure is all on me again!!  Ack!

But it sure is fun day dreaming about all the things that might make my babe happy!

My husband is addicted to the flavour combination of peanut butter and chocolate.  I have to admit, I'm a huge fan as well.  However, he is a "Hello My Name is..." kind of addict.

Therefore, I'm always on the hunt for good recipes to surprise him with.  I think he has a sixth sense about it too, because he seems to find a way to come home early on days when I bake a yummy treat.

I found one at a great blog called Gimme Some Oven, and I just HAD to try it (with a few adaptations of my own, because I'm a rebel and can't simply follow directions without experimentation).

For Cupcakes:
1 box of Triple Chocolate Cake mix
1 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce 
4 eggs
For Frosting:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 cup of brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of peanut butter, creamy
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4  cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips, chilled for at least 30 min prior

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners, and spray them with cooking spray.

Beat cake mix, buttermilk and applesauce with an electric mixer on low/medium speed until moistened (about 30-60 seconds).  

Add eggs one at a time, until the batter is well-mixed.  Increase speed to high and beat until thick for about 2 minutes.

Scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are about 2/3 full (I used a 1/3 measuring cup, which worked well). 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven and let the cupcakes cool on a wire cooking rack.  

While cooling, make the frosting...

Using an electric mixer (this is where I wish I had TWO mixer bowls so I wouldn't have to do the dishes in the middle of baking. sigh), beat the butter and both sugars together until fluffy.  Then mix in the peanut butter, vanilla, and skim milk.  

Add flour and salt, on low speed until mixed well.  Stir in chocolate chips (with a spoon by hand, so as not to crush them with the mixer).

Frost cooled cupcakes with "cookie dough" mix.  You can use a piping bag to do this, but for these cupcakes I think it works best to frost them messily with a spoon.
Then devour the scrumptious goodies, that you will crave day after day.  Sorry about that...sorta.
Happy birthday, Babe!

Apr 22, 2013

Summer Pinwheel Wreath

I love wreaths.  In my opinion, they really dress up an otherwise blah door....and they add so much character!  

My husband is sweet to indulge me by letting me continue to make more and more wreaths, even though we already have several.  But to me, wreaths are kind of like shoes : a girl can never have too many.  (okay, okay.  I may have a few more shoes than wreaths.  but not for long...) 

Here's my latest wreath:  Summer Pinwheel Wreath 

 I absolutely LOVE how it turned out!
 The pinwheels just scream summer to me.
 The colours and the anchor button detailing are so beachy and fresh.
 I just love the swirly letter font for our name.  Great contrast with the stripes.