Friday, July 29, 2011

Under the Sea

Yesterday, my co-worker told me she was trying to plan her soon-to-be two-year-old's "Under the Sea, Little Mermaid" birthday party. I immediately told her she needed to check out Pinterest for ideas and did a little searching for her. There are so many great ideas out there.

Source: via Tina on Pinterest

Seriously, how cute are these? I can't wait to see what she ends up coming up with!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Roaring Entrance

I feel like lately, since the heat has made me lethargic, I've just resorted to shopping to help decorate my house. The only good news with this is I have gotten some amazing deals lately. Marshall's and Home Goods are my friend!

Matter of fact, I bought one of my most exciting purchases, yet, last weekend at Home Goods. This may not be that big of a deal to you, but I have been on the hunt for the perfect doorstop for a while. See, because our house is older (built in the 80s), it, like many houses, has some quirks from settling. For our house, that includes the front door not staying open on its own.

Landon found a box to prop it open, and while he thought that was a fine solution, I decided that wasn't the most appealing choice. I had actually seen in a magazine a few months back a great little white lion statue, and I immediately decided that is what I wanted for my doorstop.

I thought this would be an easy enough purchase to make. I mean, surely stores sell ceramic lions. I was even willing to buy one and spray paint it. It didn't need to be perfect. Just the right shape.

Well, apparently this was not as easy as I thought. I have looked everywhere over the past few months -- Garden Ridge, Marshall's, Hobby Lobby, Target, Goodwill. You name it. I saw lots of elephant,s camels, dogs and cats statues but no lions.

Having given up on finding my perfect lion, I was in Home Goods holding a dog that I figured would work when I saw it -- beautiful, black lion. 

Best yet, it wasn't ceramic (a.k.a. extremely fragile and breakable) AND it was only $12. Woohoo! So, I brought it home, and realized it was everything I was hoping it would be. 

So, box be gone. We've had a changing of the guard, and it is good!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Something Old, Something New

A few weeks ago, I was driving around town exploring when I found something that caught my eye ... Garden Ridge. I love this store because you can get great and inexpensive home furnishings. But finding Garden Ridge was only the beginning. See, the store was attached to a mall, which looked like it had once been thriving but now had a hodge podge of stores. As I walked in, I couldn't help but notice a sign that said "Antique Mall." Having seen many bloggers find amazing items antiquing, I just had to take a peek.

I probably spent a good hour in the store. It was made up of individual booths, so each corner had something new. To be honest, not everything could be classified "antique" to me. I mean, seriously, tupperware from the 70s that my mother has, doesn't count.

But, I did find many items that I loved. I thought these plates would be fun for a fancy party.

Or, how about a birdcage? Bird not included.

And, I loved this brightly colored desk.

I couldn't help but think of my co-worker and aspiring writer Monica when I saw this old-fashioned type writer.

Some of the items were a little above my price range. I came upon this chair that I thought would have been fun to put in my sunroom until I looked at the price and realized it was $295!

So, in the end, I didn't walk away with much, but I did need a few items to complete a dining room project. Here is what I bought.

These two old bottles helped round out my dining room table centerpiece perfectly!

I've used a variety of old and new items, many of which were already around my house. For instance, the beautiful antique pitcher was a wedding gift from my grandmother.

I'll probably switch out the flowers but these were some I already had and since they worked, I thought I might as well use them.

I bought the lemons at Tuesday Morning. I knew they were a win when Landon said he liked them!

I'm also still in need of another flower to fill the little bud vase. I'd love to tell you that I would use real flowers, but I decided fake were a better bet. I can't kill them.

I'm so excited to have everything in this room complete. It's so close. The chairs are the only last part. I keep saying I'm going to do them, but considering we are on our 20-plus day of 100-degree weather, the thought of going into the garage to paint them makes me break out into a sweat. I just need to put a drop cloth down in the sunroom and get them done. I'll add that to my list ...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Black and White Anniversary

June 19 marked my five-year anniversary at my company. Because I'm always looking for a good excuse to bake, I decided to make my own celebratory cake. And, because I like to make things more complicated than they need to be, I decided to make it from scratch.

Not really having a trusted recipe on hand, I decided to use one I had torn out of a recent Better Homes & Gardens that didn't look too complicated. The headline said it was the only cake recipe I would ever need, so being a trusting person, I thought it must be good.

If you want a copy of the recipe, you can find it online here. A few things about this recipe. At first I was a little nervous because I don't have three, 9-inch pans, then I remembered some aluminum ones I had bought for something and not needed, so I pulled them out to use. But, it did make me realize I need to invest in some good pans. I also realized as I started making it that I was out of parchment paper, something I usually keep on hand, so I decided to take the risk and line my pans with wax paper. It worked pretty well, though I would still probably use parchment paper in the future. Also, I luckily read this recipe before I started baking (which is something I'll admit I don't always do) to realize I needed to let the egg whites sit out for 30 minutes.

I, sadly, didn't take any pictures of the cakes in the baking process. When I pulled my cakes out of the oven, they of course were lopsided. I probably could have cut them down, but I decided that was too much work. I was afraid it was going to look funny when put together but once I got the icing on, you couldn't even tell.

Speaking of icing, in my office, there are chocolate lovers and haters (I know, how can you hate chocolate?), so I decided to make a black and white cake so everyone could enjoy. I made a half batch of vanilla sour cream frosting and a half batch of chocolate cream cheese frosting and iced the cake right down the middle.

It took some work to get it even, but icing layer at a time helped. The consistency of the icing helped, too. It was thick and spread easily.

I even added the decorative "swirls" to make it prettier.

And, to cover up the ugliness of the "seem," I added some walnuts.

Needless to say, the next day at work, it was a big hit. Better Homes & Gardens did not disappoint.

The nice thing about it was you could try both the vanilla and chocolate! I actually did and couldn't really decide which one I liked best. So, the verdict is in ... this is definitely a recipe to use again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

O Canada

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've made a post. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I took an eight-day business trip to Toronto, Canada for the Prison Fellowship International World Convocation. It was a gathering of nearly 900 individuals from 130 countries to discuss reformation, freedom and hope for prisoners, their families and their communities. It was an amazingly inspiring conference. 

I actually returned home July 3, but I just haven't sat down to blog. I think the summer heat has made me lethargic! But, I'm back now. 

My trip to Toronto was a bit different than most of my business trips in that I actually had some free time to do a little sight seeing. Matter of fact, my colleague and I went a day early so we could take a side-trip to Niagara Falls. If you have never seen it in person, I highly recommend putting it on your bucket list. It truly is an amazing God-created wonder.

There are actually two different falls, the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. We were fortunate to see the Canadian side of the Falls first, which I must say, has a better view than the American side. 

I was amazed at not only the roar, but also the mist that accompanies the Falls. Matter of fact, when first arrived, we came along the side of Horseshoe Falls. All of the sudden, a drizzle began. I thought it was rain until I realized that it is a constant drizzle from the Falls. Luckily, I had brought a rain jacket. 

The power of the water was amazing ... 150,000 gallons per second.

If you are a fan of "The Office," you might recognize that little boat at the bottom. It's the "Maid of the Mist" on which Pam and Jim were married. If you aren't a fan of the show, you might just be aware of this famous boat. It takes tourists each day to the base of the Falls. We didn't splurge on this, but I can only imagine how amazing it is.

The American Falls is much smaller than the Horseshoe Falls, but equally as beautiful.

We thought while we were at the Falls, we would go ahead and walk over the pedestrian bridge to the American side of the Falls. 

As I mentioned, I didn't enjoy the American side as much, but it does give a different perspective. We only walked to the American Falls, since we were getting tired and hungry.

After a little walk in the National Park, something I did miss about the Canadian side (which was all concrete), we made the walk back to Canada. It was well-worth the trip and something I'm very grateful to have seen.

After our trip, it was back to Toronto. We spent most of the remaining time at our hotel, but I was lucky enough to have been put on the 40th floor, so this was the view from my room.

We were able to see a little bit more of Toronto and even had the fun of experiencing Canada Day, which is the celebration of the unification of the Canadian provinces. Having a free lunch, we chose to enjoy it at the CN Tower, which is the third tallest tower in the world. 

We ate in the revolving restaurant, which gave us a full 360-degree view of the city.

Also, the Toronto Blue Jays were playing that day, so we were able to get an aerial view of the game.

 And one of the neatest aspects of the tower is the glass floor observation deck.

Overall, it was a great trip, but after eight days, I was very happy to come home.

What about you ... have you been anywhere fun this summer?