Monday, January 31, 2011

Blog LOVE-Gus and Lula

Ok...I come across a lot of really creative blogs. I am on the internet way too much looking at all the amazing creations everyone comes up with...but today I came across a blog that is my new favorite. This blogger (Britt) is so amazingly talented and creative. She came up with so many ideas that barely cost anything and look like she spent a pretty penny. Here are a few of my favorite that I just had to share: (you can find the link to all of these projects here)

She HANDPAINTED this!!!!

Created this light using a pot lid and a candlestick base...genius I tell you..genius!!!!
And finally..something I am so happy she shared because I could totally use this idea in my house!!!! Mini blind makeover!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Etsy Love

These are a few of my favorite things...from Etsy right now. A few are Valentine's related..which is my second favorite holiday...1st of course being Flag Day...hehe..ok..really you know it has to be Christmas! I am thinking of forwarding this to my Valentine for some "suggestions".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Summertime In January???

Wow...what a beautiful past few days we have had here in lovely SoCal, huh? Today was the first day I actually went out. I started to water my plants and could not go back inside! Shane woke up from his nap and so we stayed outside for awhile and picked some lemons to make...what else..but...LEMONADE...mmm.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby Shower Recipes

I forgot to post all of the recipes I used at Heather's Baby Shower so here they are...Enjoy!

Chicken Salad (from

2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts,
drained and chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup halved green grapes ( I left the grapes out)
3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons finely minced onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Combine chicken, bacon, water chestnuts, celery and grapes in large bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients; add to salad and toss to coat. Chill until serving.

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting and Center

***I made these before with the Ganache centers...but for the shower I omitted the center. I whipped the ganache with the whisk attachment on my mixer until it was light and fluffy..perfect for frosting. These turn out perfectly round each time and are so love love them.
Servings: 12
13 ounces heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (you can also use semi sweet..I tried both and like the semi better...I also use chocolate chips for the chocolate.

1/3 c cocoa
1 c boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 c mayonnaise
2 c sifted cake flour
1 c sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Ganache: In a sauce pan bring your cream to a light boil.
Then pour in the chocolate chips and start stirring immediately. Keep going until you have a smooth mixture. At first this will seem like it's not working as the chocolate hasn't begun to mix with the cream. Then, in second it will start to form. Just give it time.
When you are done you are supposed to pour the chocolate through a sieve if you have one.Turn off your burner and set aside to cool. Don't be tempted to taste throughout the cooling process as you're not supposed to touch the ganache until it sets.
Put ganache in fridge until you're ready to use.

TIP from I usually wait until the very last minute to make these - when I need them in a few hours and I forget that the ganache has to sit over night in the fridge OR do what I do and let it sit enough to cool the pan and then put it in the freezer for about an hour or so (keep checking to make sure it's not frozen. It will be perfect.
If you're making these in a hurry, start making the batter. If not, make the batter when you're ready to start baking your cupcakes.

Cake Batter: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Line cupcake tray with cupcake papers
Whisk together water and cocoa. Set aside and let completely cool. (you can put this in the fridge too)
When cocoa mixture is cool, whisk in the mayonnaise and vanilla until smooth.
Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low until combined.
Once mixed, increase speed to medium and beat in cocoa mixture for one minute.

Pour batter into a measuring cup with a spout and fill each cupcake 1/4 the way full.
Now take out your ganache and with a spoon make a small ganache ball and set one ball in the center of each cupcake.
Continue to fill each cupcake until it's 3/4 the way full to prevent spilling batter. ***Note-if you are not going to make the Ganache centers...just fill them a little under 3/4 way.***
Check to make sure your oven is at 375 and bake for 15-20 minutes until cupcakes are set. Poke with a toothpick to confirm they are done. The toothpick should slide out smoothly without any cake on it.
Once completely cooled (make sure you cool the cupcakes or your ganache will melt) frost with the rest of your ganache frosting. You should have extra ganache left over - about a cup.

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes
adapted from Dorie Greenspan makes approximately 24 cupcakes
For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest from two lemons
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins by using liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray
To Make The Cake:1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extracts, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Place the batter into the cupcake tins.4. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.Cool on wire rack.

For the Raspberry Buttercream

Ingredients1/2 cup raspberries (blended into a puree and pushed through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds)
1 stick salted butter – room temperature (I used another stick of unsalted instead of the salted)
1 stick unsalted butter – room temperature
1/2 cup shortening*
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of raspberry extract*
1 1/2 pounds confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar, 10x)
2-4 tablespoons very cold milk (add until you reach desired consistency)

Directions1. Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add extracts and raspberry puree and combine well.2. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the very cold milk… one tablespoon at a time, combining very well after each addition (mixer on medium-high to high speed) until you reach the desired consistency.

Notes:*If you don’t have raspberry extract, simply add a little bit more raspberry puree until you reach your preferred level of raspberry flavor. If you add more puree, cut back on the milk.*If you do not like to use shortening, simply sub in butter. The frosting will not be as structurally sound, but will taste just as delicious.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Joyous Shower

I had the privilege of throwing my bestie her baby shower. All children are such a blessing and Heather's little girl is no different. She has taken awhile to get here...but we are all so excited that she is being carefully grown in her mama's tummy:) and can not wait for the day she graces the world with her presence! Heather and her husband Ryan have been trying for many years for a little one. After many failed invetro tries they finally received the good news months ago that Heather was preggo!!!! Oh Happy Day! There have been a few bumps (Heather falling at work and a bad car accident) but God was watching over this little one and she is due to arrive around March 18th. I did all the food and my sister in law helped with getting set up and all the games. We had so much fun preparing for this special day and here are a few pics of the cupcakes I made. Luckily my sis took all the pics so I will get those soon and share the rest.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Great Bedding Search

I tend to buy things on impulse. Especially when something is on sale or clearance..I have a condition that does not allow me to pass on it. If I do I think about it day and night and can't go on living until I get it. So..I have told myself that this year I am going to ask myself each time I find something...

1. Do I really need it?
2. Do I have a place for it?
3. Do I love it?

Then and only then am I allowed to buy it. I found myself not loving any room in my home because it was filled with little tchotskies that were cheap so I bought them. Or a pillow that was on clearance and I thought that it would go ok in a room. But I wasn't buying quality pieces or pieces that I love. Part of it too is that I am impatient and I need to have things now(definitely working on this in the New Year). lastly, I also usually have a pretty good idea of what I want but it is either hard to find or wayyyy tooooo expensive. What can I say I have extraordinary taste and it is costly...hehehe totally kidding...but I do have Champagne taste on a generic brand coke budget.

So, here are a few of the bedding choices that I have come across and absolutely love. I am going for a Hollywood Regency look. So I want something elegant but also something The Hubs would like. My room is Grey and I am having a hard time finding a good grey. It literally has taken me all year to try and find something in my budget, in my color/style and not a DUVET. I do not like Duvets!!!! So here they are:(All are Duvets...I believe...go figure:)).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It really is MAGIC!!!!

So I don't believe in magic...but after after trying the Magic Eraser from Mr.Clean...I am beginning to think Mr. Clean has some sort of powers:). I have tried them in the past on my walls. For a mom they really are a necessity. With just a little pressure those crayon marks are gone...shoe scuffs...gone...dried on mystery substance....gone!!!!

So...why the recent light bulb moment?? I already know these are the miracle tool...but I never thought to use them on my floor...until last night. We moved into a home built in 1975 in March and I have the feeling the floors were not scrubbed since about 1987. Seriously, I just convinced myself that the tiles were supposed to be a lovely shade of dirt. I have tried to get down on my hands and knees and scrub with a brush and the most heavy duty cleaner imaginable....but nothing worked. I just gave up. It took me hours to just do a few tiles and it is through out our home. So, I live with dirty, filthy floors. It is so embarrassing(well I guess not that bad because I am telling all of you). But, my socks are always stained and I know that when people come over they are like.."oh my goodness..Summer is a dirty...dirty girl". I know they see it because I notice everything in other peoples' homes...or maybe I am just paranoid..but no one really comes for a repeat visit....oh noooooooo...they HAVE seen my filthy floors. Ok I am getting a bit dramatic...but seriously is gross.

In my landlords defense...because she is wonderful...and I don't want anyone to think she is a dirty girl either..they had to rush to be out and didn't have much time to clean and she apologized.

Alright, back to this Magic Eraser. I was at Home Depot and picked up a box. When I got home I thought I should try it out on my floors. So, I did and it was just amazing what the tiles were really suppose to look like. It is like I have all new flooring. I rushed then to Target and bought the Magic Eraser mop, which works good but not as well as the small pads. Still it cleaned up really well and I will go back by hand and clean the grooves in my tile and the grout(yes, it even cleans grout)!!!! So if you are looking for some magic in the cleaning department these things work!!!!! Thank you if I could only figure out away for Mr. Clean to appear and do the housework for me????:)
(Can you tell which tiles I cleaned..ewwww)