Monday, April 30, 2012

kit kat cake

this little baby was worth $150. . .

I've seen lots of these KitKat cakes popping up on Pinterest, so I thought I would give it a try myself.

I made and donated this cake for a bake auction. Typically, there are some really beautiful cakes there from some of  my super talented friends. Since, I can't decorate cakes, I decided to take the lazy easy route -cover a cake in candy. You can too. Here's how:

  1. Bake a two layer cake of your choosing.
  2. Frost the middle, top, and sides with chocolate frosting.
  3. Place unwrapped KitKats along the cake sides.
  4. Cover the top with small candies. I used M&M's.
  5. (Optional) Tie with a coordinating ribbon.

The cake is great to make if you have little helpers around. My little guy unwrapped all the KitKats and helped me place the M&M's on top.

Anyone else make this trendy cake yet?

Linked up to Debbie Doos, Making the World Cuter, HomeSweetHome, LinesAcrossMyFace, NifyThrifty, CRAFT, HomemakerOnADime, MadeByYou, MadSkills, PityParty, SingingThreeLittleBirds, SweetAnneDesigns, S3, KeepingItSimple, MakeItMonday, Brassy Apple, Tatortots&Jello, g*rated, HowtoNestforLess, NotJustaHousewife, CoastalCharm, Today'sCreativeBlog, KurtzCorner, Carolyn'sHomework, SugarBeeCrafts, MyUncommonSliceofSuburbia, TipJunkie, aBowlFullofLemons, CozyHomeScenes, theDelectableHome, BoogieboardCottage, theMommyClub, GingerSnaps, SavvySouthernStyle, NewlywedsOnaBudget, DIYByDesign, UncommonDesign, Michelle'sTastyCreations, LiveLaughRowe, ShabbyCreekCottage, BeyondthePicketFence, FirefliesandJellbeans, HouseofHepworths, the36thAve, LovingThisCrazyLife, FindingFabulous, AtthePicketFence, TheShabbyNext, ALittleKnickKnack, 30HandmadeDays, CheeriosandLattes, SomethingSwanky, SweetToothFriday, TheSweetSpot, DelightfullyDowling, It'sOverflowing, MopItUp, SouthernSunday, TheSweetDetails, CookingWithKaryn, ThriftyDecorChick, ClassyClutter, ClaimingOurSpace, CatchAGlimpse, NYMelroseFamily

Friday, April 27, 2012

fun for all

It's the weekend, and there's nothing better than having a little bit of time to spend with your favorite people.

But instead of doing the same old-same old with your loved ones, why don't you branch out and see what's new.

One site I like to check out is Boston Central. Our all-time favorite activities going on right now are the Swan Boat Rides, not to be missed.

But no worries if you're not local. Both City Search and let you search by city.

Any great weekend plans?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

spring planting

I love flowers, I always have. I took a horticulture course in college just so I could have a fresh flower arrangement in my apartment each week. I'm such a sucker for them.

And even though I have my favorites, I find that I love so many -I love the varieties in their color, their texture, and their height.

Just like floral arrangements, outside landscapes need balance, proportion, scale, and depth. Ever wonder why those Better Home and Gardens landscapes look so great? Like any good design, they have layers.

Want to get started on creating your own Better Homes and Gardens garden?

Here are 3 Easy Baby Steps:

1) Tall ones go in back
If you are starting from seeds or bulbs, always check the height. It is usually written in inches and pretty easy to find on the packaging.

2) Remember your plant's life span
Consider how long a plant is expected to live and when it is expected to bloom. Annuals only live for that long, one year. Perennials continue to grow each year. Plants will bloom early, mid, or late in the season. Check the packaging if you are unsure. Incorporating early, mid, and late blooms will provide constant color.

3) Plant light likes together
Pay attention to your plant's light requirements and plant accordingly. Full sun plants really do like the sun. Check throughout the day to see how much light your location gets. Planting a full sun flower in the shade won't thrive.

It can also be really fun to account for texture and fragrance. But I'll leave that to others with more experience.

This year my goal is to plant a cut flower garden. The overall arrangement doesn't have to look perfect, since I will be sniping at it all season. Yesterday I was able to get outside and get a few bulbs in the ground. Remember the mantra here at the little yellow cape, baby step by baby step.

If you are interested in learning more, I found these free printable No Fuss Garden Plans from Better Homes and Garden, complete with a plant list, a layout diagram, and lots of helpful information. With 19 to choose from, it was easy to select a plan that meet my specific needs.

How does your garden grow?

Linked up to TheShabbyCreekCottage, SerenityNow, CensationalGirl

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Just in case you needed some inspiration to get you through the rest of this week. Perhaps you'd like to. . .

Update Your Bedroom
or just take a nap . . .

Spray Paint Something
Use this fancy cork board to display jewelry . . .

Really Spray Paint Something
This process involves a number of sanding and spraying steps. . .

Get Organized
I love this printer drawer Ikea hack. . .

Get Crafty
Maybe for a play space or a child's teacher. . .

Have you already settled on your weekend project? Or is your weekend already filled with all those "other obligations"?

I'm still trying to decide if I want to jump on the white bedroom trend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

basement inspiration

We have an unfinished basement. We'd like to have a finished basement. So we can build something fabulous like this. . .

image source

Or this. . .

image source

Or this. . .
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But we'll probably endup with something more like this (minus the rocking chair). . .
SchappacherWhite Ltd. traditional staircase
image source

since Handyman is pretty firm on having the entertainment technology housed in a closet under the steps. I can just add little frames to the steps in the above photo and we both win.

But we've needed to take a number of baby steps before we can start framing and finishing the space.

One of the steps we've taken is to rid the space of the extra stuff that we don't want to frame around, like extraneous gas pipes and plumbing lines. Our space is pretty small, so we want to take advantage of all it.

After a little snaffu with the garbage disposal and a yucky incident of the plumbing it feeds into "throwing up," we decided it was time to re-plumb our main stack. It took less than day, which is good, because it's usually not fun to go without water much longer than that, especially on the day you were scheduled to have your little one's 1st birthday party. (Needless to say, we rescheduled that one.)

And now we have all new nice and modern plumbing. We also capped and removed an old stack that ran to a dry well in the backyard. Now it's all consolidated into one nice little space that we can frame around without creating extra an bulkhead, bump out, or soffits.

A bunch of the old removed plumbing. And yes, the whole rest my basement is the same painted green color.
And sadly, this box is still patiently sitting in my garage awaiting its new home in scrap metal heaven, because this is not the kind of stuff you can just dump in your garbage can for the next trash day.

You can also see how old and corroded it was getting inside.

Here's a photo of the where the old stack was, all capped. Now it can hide away behind the drywall.

Pretty boring stuff*, but it makes me happy. And it's one baby step closer to customizing our little yellow cape.

*If you don't find it boring, there are tons of resources out there. Bret picked up a plumbing how-to book at the home improvement store, but there are also lots of online resources out there, and the local libraries often carry a large selection of books for DIYers.

Monday, April 23, 2012

my secret weapon

is not so secret. In fact, it's a down right massive enterprise. It's Martha Stewart.

You've probably gathered by this point that I like to cook and bake. I usually jump at opportunities to do so -book group meetings, baby showers, holiday dinners, whatever.

In true confession, I love cooking for an event, but I {sometimes} dread making dinner for my family. 

I just don't like to cook and bake the same thing all the time.  I like to make something new. I'm also guilty of using new recipes for said events, without trying them out first. (I know, I know . . .it's such a no-no.) It's hurt me a couple of times, but nothing a quick run to the market can't remedy, and clearly not enough times to make me change.

That being said, I require a constant source of new recipes, meal plans, and presentation ideas. Enter good ole Martha.

I know that not everyone likes her. But, she has a small army working for her. And with the exception of true ethnic foods, there's not much you can't food on her site. Her recipes always look like the photo. (Which is usually why I'm making it in the first place.) They taste good. And the recipes call for fresh seasonal ingredients.

Here are some of my spring-leading-into-summer favorites . . which all coordinate nicely if you want an instant, easy-and-quick-to-make menu plan. . .

Herb Salad with Feta

Asparagus and Potato Flat bread

Raw Corn and Zucchini Salad

Lemon Bars

What's your go to recipe site?
Or your favorite spring recipes?

Friday, April 20, 2012


Yesterday, I found best comment in my inbox, from Laura @ Elegant Nest.

Hi Laura. I’m awarding your blog with The Liebster Blog Award! Congratulations! You deserve it!

I'm honored. And I'm truly starting to understand when other bloggers said wrote how much they love their readers. I get it now.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.

About the Award
The Liebster Blog Award promotes blogs with less than 200 followers, as a way to get their names out there. Apparently, Liebster means 'beloved or dearest,' but it can also mean 'favorite.'
As a Liebster award recipient, I now have the opportunity to pass this award on to five other bloggers.

In order to accept this award, the recipient must do the following:

1. Thank the person that presented the award.
2. Link back to that person(s) blog.
3. Copy and paste the award to your blog.
4. Present the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers
(bloggers who you think deserve this special recognition)
5. Let those deserving bloggers know by leaving them a comment.

I'm happy to pass this award on to. . .

Allison @ ReCreate
D & K @ Claiming Our Space
Holly @ West Pear Ave
Jenna @ 2027
Kimberly @ See Sew and Seedlings


Thursday, April 19, 2012

remnants of a past life

Remnants, that's what we had a lot of when we moved in.

John and Joyce lived in their our house for 48 years. They were the original owners. They raised their 3 children here, and they clearly had some serious house love. They sold their home to move into an assisted living place within town. Thus, leaving behind many remnants of their long lived life to us.

Some of the remnants were & are great. We basically inherited some fully furnished rooms. We also inherited lots of random decor and objects.

Here's a small sample that got photographed before they get kicked to the curb (recycled, donated, or sold).

(this stayed!)


Number 1
Faux Metal Tulips
Some faux metal tulips enclosed by a miniature plastic white picket fence -at least they were in bloom all year? I've got no other explanation. They were plucked pretty fast and sent to metal flower heaven.

Number 2
Rooster Weather Vane
The rooster weather vane, sitting so proud and tall on my garage cupola. He's actually still there. I'm guessing he won't last too long after we replace the roof next year. Or maybe he will -if I decide he's charming. Thoughts?

Number 3
Mass Tassel
Just in case you couldn't tell, this is a tiny metal tassel in the shape of Massachusetts. It was found hanging from the ceiling fan in the sun room. I actually kept this. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but for some reason it just spoke to me.

Number 4
Welcome Wreath
This pretty little wooden welcome wreath. I tried to give it to my mother-in-law, but she declined, so I gave it to Goodwill instead. I couldn't really think of a cool hip way to re-purpose or modernize it. Can you? Hopefully, it is happily welcoming others somewhere else.
Other remnants:
A Complete Set of Bedroom Furniture

  • 2 twin beds
  • chest of drawers
  • dresser & mirror
  • student desk & chair
  • nightstand
  • curtain valances
  • bedding
  • bedside lamp
  • a drawer full of matchbox cars (discovered by my little one)
I sold all the furniture on Craig's List for a great price. It was solid wood and in great shape. That was a tough decision. I kept seeing lots of transformed thrift store pieces, and I knew I was sitting on a gold mine with this set. But in the end, we just didn't need it. No matter how cool and pinterest-worthy I could make it. And most times, less is best.

Sun Room Furniture
Pretty much everything you see here. It's still waiting to be made over -something a little spray paint and fabric can fix, I just have gotten to it yet.

Washer & Dryer Set
Yep, they left us a full, working not-too-old washer and dryer set. We just purchased a brand new set we really liked, so off to Craig's List it went. (I seriously love Craig's List!)

There were lots of other things left behind, like garden statues, silk flower arrangements, Christmas decorations, less-well built furniture, a kitchen table set and chairs, and somethings we are still discovering. It's been fun.

Just so ya know, the owners started offering their belongings to us prior to closing. We told them to just leave behind whatever they wanted. So finding the treasures was not surprising, just the amount and types of things left behind. And the owners paid to have the home professionally cleaned after they moved out, so it wasn't a case of abuse or neglect, just sharing the love.

Anyone else have a similar experience?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

our first change to an old house

Our very first priority when moving into our current home was to gain interior garage access. We have an attached garage right off our family room. At some point, the previous owners closed it off and converted it into a coat closet.

It was a decent size closet, quite large actually, but we wanted the ability to come and go from our garage more than the storage. (You can read here how we compensated for that storage loss.)

We never used that closet for two reasons. First, we knew wanted to tackle that project pronto. Second, it was frigid inside! I think I opened that brown bi-fold door only once because I was instantly hit with a blast of cold air. (Remember we moved in at the end of January.) It was not insulated well.

Within a month we demoed the closet, installed a new door, and insulated the whole thing. It was also the time we bought our first bagster -because all that old drywall and junk has to go somewhere, and that's not the kind of stuff you can re-purpose.

Our existing opening wasn't exactly square and required a fair amount of shimming.

We had these existing steps. We actually noticed them the first time we viewed the house, because we are always curious about steps that seem to go no where.

You can see in the above photo (besides my messy garage), the scarring where the existing closet used to be. And that's the light fixture they had in there.

We still need to trim it out on the garage side, but that's pretty low on the list. My husband is just pretty happy that it is level, plumb, and not the least bit drafty.

By doing it ourselves, we saved at least $100. (I can't remember what the two home improvement stores charge, but I think they are a comparable flat fee.) It's a straightforward, get-it-done-in-an-evening-after work type of job.
And we are all pretty happy that we can come and go through the garage, like a modern family (which is one of my favorite shows.) And now, we really can come in and out of the closet.

Any weird renovations you've undone at your house?

Anyone else keep their garbage and recycling cans right by the door because they are too lazy to walk across the garage?

If you want more information on how to do this yourself, check out this video from This Old House. They categorize this project as moderate difficulty and completed within 2-4 hours.

Also, Lowes has an article as well.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

my favorite kitchen gadgets

I love to cook and I love to bake. And I've learn over the years that certain tools make both of these much easier and pleasant.

I pinned a number of these products long ago on my Pinterest Products I Love board.

Here's the run down on my favorite kitchen items

Number 1
My Kitchen Aid
I could not live without my Kitchen Aid. Growing up, my mom had an almond one, and she let me use whenever I wanted. I think I used it more than her. (And I'm pretty sure she still has it.)

Mine was a gift on our wedding registry that we didn't receive. But I knew I wanted one, so I returned a bunch of gifts to accumulate enough store credit to purchase it. This is the only appliance I keep on my counter tops, and she deserves it. This is only hard working and versatile machine.

Number 2
My WS Nesting Mixing Bowls
Every kitchen needs a set of mixing bowls. These particular bowls are from Williams-Sonoma. They have gripper bottom and a pour spout. Not only are they well designed, I think they are pretty cute. They come in various colors. Mine were a gift from my mother-in-law.

Number 3
My Pampered Chef Scrapers
These little scrappers come with the stoneware line. But honestly, I reach for mine much more often than I use my stone wear. This is little guy is perfect for scraping dried on food or spills. This will easily lift off anything that doesn't come up with the swipe of a wet rag.

Number 4
My Cuisinart Food Processor
This is the newest addition to my kitchen (of those on the list). I don't pull it out for the small cutting or chopping tasks, but when cooking a big meal, or lots of meals, this is the way to go. Well worth the price. But shop around -there is always good deals online and at the department stores.

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

Linking up at Censational Girl & Tip Junkie today
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Monday, April 16, 2012

marathon monday

It's Patriot's Day here in New England. And probably the best weekend of the year! If you have ever thought of visiting Boston, this is the weekend to do it.

You can check out the schedule of events here.

And if you are in the area, you absolutely have to go watch the marathon. It is truly inspiring. In the words of my friend Deidre,

"This is an awesome event--even if you have never run a mile in your life. I would encourage those who will only be in New England for a short time to be sure NOT to miss this."

I mean, c'mon. Check out this guy! If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is!

And speaking writing of marathons, my family room renovation is a marathon.

Have you ever attended the Boston Marathon?
Any marathon renovations going on at your place?

Linked fav photo

Friday, April 13, 2012

the holdup

We were held up -in our home renovation that is, by this little guy.

metopic suture craniosynostosis

We bought our house a little over a year ago, three days before this little guy was born. And in my mind, we haven't made too much progress since. Aside from tearing out the family room closet to gain interior garage access, we didn't tackle any big projects until late spring.

And last year, much to my husband's surprise, I was pretty content with our home as it was, posted here. (Which is highly uncharacteristic of me. He did mention a few times he was surprised I hadn't painted anything or bothered him to paint anything. I mean, you've seen all that horrid brown paneling!)

Usually, I don't let having a baby hold me back so long. With my first, I was in graduate school and working two jobs, and still went back to work and class on schedule, despite still being post-C-section medicated, ya know, the next week.

Not this time. Anyone who's had a baby knows, the first few months are flooded with well baby visits. Our little guy decided to make life interesting and was born with
metopic suture craniosynostosis
(which is just a fancy way of saying he was born with a prematurely fused forehead)

All of my children have been briefly hospitalized at one point or another, so I didn't think much of it. We tend to adopt a "you just deal with it and move on" kind of attitude over here. I just didn't realize the moving on part was going to be so time-consuming.

My life looked pretty different at this time last year. It was full of post-surgical follow-ups and helmet re-adjustment appointments. Read: lots of time spent hanging out in waiting rooms, medical exam rooms, and sitting on my rear driving to and from downtown Boston.

And my mind was occupied with thoughts of transcranial differences and cephalic ratios, instead of paint chip colors and trim style options.

I try to remember the above cute little face when our running list runs slows or doesn't run at all.

How about you? What are your hang-ups and hold-ups? Anyone else have a helmet head baby? Or find your self spending more time with a certified orthotist instead of your friends & family?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

shower curtain

dilemma, dilemma. I want to get a new shower curtain to accompany the new shower,

 but I'm not sure which one to get.

I like this Kate Spade shower curtain from Bed Bath & Beyond, but it is currently sold out.

I also came across this from West Elm.

Or there's this option to make one from a curtain, via.

Which one should I go for?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

mantle love

My friend Monica loves her house. She loves the location, the layout, and all the improvements they have made to it. But her house is lacking something -a mantle. She loves mantles, and has had them in her previous homes. When I suggested she just get one, she gave me a quizical look and reminded me that she doesn't have a fireplace. No problem Monica; don't let that little detail deter your mantle love.

Here are some amazing non-fireplace mantle images.* As you can see, mantles add archeitectural interest and definition to any room - a living room, a dining room, a bedroom, and even an outdoor space.

image source
 This one is really fun the way it incorporates the painted book shelves. That yellow background color certainly pops.

image source
This is fun -turning a mantle into a headboard.

image source

And if you're really hung up on having a fireplace for your mantle, here's some sources for installing a ventless fireplace. (The best news, you don't necessarily need a chimney these days for a fireplace!)

Do you have a mantle crush? Where's your favorite mantle location?

*I gathered these images long before Pinterest or this blog, for my own personal use. Sadly, I did not keep a record of where I got them, so if any of these images are yours, or know the source, kindly feel free to let me know. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

how to paint a fireplace surround

I've been wanting to do something to our tired looking fireplace surround. Many a time, I've suggested we paint it, but my husband insists that he doesn't like the look of painted brick. (Although, ours is a ceramic like brick.) He's not opposed to changing it. He just doesn't want to paint it.

So, we've done nothing. And since we've been busy with other projects, it just sits there. Looking sad.

We'll, after rearranging it around for the spring fling party, posted here, I've decided to do something about it. If we want to change it anyway, there's no harm in a temporary paint fix, right? (That's what I told myself.) Turns out, he doesn't want to do anything to it. I'm welcome to do whatever I want.

But first, I had to figure out how to go about it. Especially since we use our fireplace. A lot.

I found this article from RealSimple

And of course, there's this article from Young House Love

I also found this article from the New Homemaker

Now, I just have to get busy actually doing it.

Anybody else have fireplace surround painting experience?
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