Friday, December 31, 2010

Candy Cane Valley and Sprinkle Delights

A few weeks ago my mom came to visit me and wanted to make "cake balls."  I'd never heard of them and when she described them to me, they sounded like a whole lot o' calories, so I politely declined.

And then I was on a search for special treats to make for friends for Christmas and I came across this recipe.

We didn't get a chance to make them in time for Christmas, so last night, Imani and I decided to make them for a special New Year's treat that we could give to friends.

Imani didn't like the name "Cake Balls" so she renamed them  . . .Candy Cane Valley and and Sprinkle Delights.   I love it.

  We made some with a chocolate coating

and some without.

They are absolutely delicious.

I should have listened to my mom. :-)

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Favorite Room Renovation of 2010

I started blogging in February of this year and, looking back, I'd say it was quite a year.  I started the blog to share all of our home renovations because I was finding myself pulling out renovation pictures every time someone came over to our house.  I wish I would've started blogging sooner because some of the transformations were so amazing.  It's been great to look back on the year in review and see all that we've accomplished.

Perhaps the most impressive room renovation this year was our upstairs bathroom.  It was a tiling extravaganza as Jason set out to complete my vision of a bathroom much like the tiled ones I am fortunate enough to stay in when I travel for work.

It was probably one of the most drastic room transformations in all of our house.  Let me refresh your memory.

It started off pretty dumpy.  It was dingy with old dirty sheet rock and nasty green tiles.  The stand up shower was tiny and had a plastic shower surround and a plastic base  We used this room as a "crate" for our dog, Maggie when we first got her . . . and we felt badly for leaving her in such a nasty space!

But let's fast forward to earlier this year, when Jason completed my vision and we tiled from floor to ceiling.

You might recall that this was a family project and Jason agreed to tile the whole bathroom, but it would be my job to seal all grout lines . . . and spray sealing was NOT allowed!  So I set to work with a little paint brush and a cup of grout sealer while Jason and Imani watched a movie downstairs.

I thought those grout lines would never end . . . and I started to question why in the world I had this idea of all this tile!

But thankfully, my wonderful husband and daughter took pity on me and joined in the fun.

And Ta-Da!  Finally, the room was complete!

The shower has custom-cut glass with oil-rubbed bronze fixtures and a stone-pebbled floor.

This was, by far, my favorite room renovation of the year because it is my own little pretend spa space, where I get ready for work each day.  It's amazing to think that a room so hideous could be turned into something so beautiful.  Here are the before and after one more time.

Before (YUCK . . . I know, I know, you want me to stop showing it to you because it's so gross!)

And AFTER . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nursery Inspiration

It's difficult planning a nursery.  So many of the ideas are too cutesy for me.

We don't want a Disney character theme.

Or a room full of choo-choo trains.

Sorry if that's your thing.  It's just not ours.

It's hard to find rooms for babies that are classy but cute.

And since we found out the gender, I was thinking we'd do something with blue, like Brad and Angelina did with their nursery.

But the more I search, the more I think we're going to stick with creams, browns, and beige.  It's just softer and more inviting to me.

We really like this room from Pottery Barn kids.    It just makes me want to sit in that big comfy rocker.

I might consider a blue accent wall like this room, which is also from Pottery Barn.  I also like the stars painted on the walls.

If we go with the cream and brown, we could decorate with cute little monkeys like this one.

Annette Tatum Studio mediterranean kids

We've also considered painting a tree on the wall (or purchasing a vinyl decal).  I like this one (minus the pink walls of course).


Or this one, which fits well with the cream/brown idea we're aiming for.

I really like the red and white in the next photo, but realistically I know we won't do it.  It's far too contemporary for us.  It is adorable though.

ishandchi- nursery eclectic kids

Once we decide on the colors and bedding, we need to think about all of the accents for the room.  There are so many ideas for wall accents out there that I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed!

I like the dragonflies in the next photo.

Modern Nursery modern kids

Or the starfish in the next photo . . . minus the pink curtains and pink tutu of course!

Girl Nursery  kids

And I love the idea of a monogram, or the whole name on the wall, but we have to come up with a name first!

nursery (unknown source)  kids

And I like the idea of inspirational quotes or words. I like the homemade feel of the next one.

French Larkspur eclectic kids

If you have any room suggestions or know of pages for inspiration, please let us know!  Even better, if you'd like to share your photos of your nursery, please email me! I would love to see them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We're Having . . .

   . . . a baby, yes . . . but we decided to find out the gender at our 20 week sonogram.

   I'm 28 weeks along now, so we've known for a few weeks, which has basically enabled us to shop more than we probably would have if we hadn't found out the gender.

We tortured our families by making them wait a few weeks to find out around Thanksgiving.  We wanted everyone to be together to hear the news.  So Imani, Jason and I made a cake with pink and blue on the outside.

We had the grandmas cut the cake to reveal blue icing on the inside (which I foolishly didn't take a picture of, but I'm blaming that on the forgetfulness of pregnancy).

We are thrilled to be having a boy, especially Imani, who really wanted a baby brother.

But names are not coming easily for us!  We have a growing list of possibilities, but nothing solid yet.

And we just started planning the nursery, so we'll be sure to update as progress is made.

Friday, December 24, 2010

From the Heart

My favorite gifts to give are not purchased at the mall or in boutique stores.

They are homemade gifts. 

The problem is . . . I'm a huge procrastinator.

I always have a big list of gift ideas of things I'm going to make for friends and family and by the time Christmas rolls around, I've usually only made one thing for one person (unless you count cookies and candy).

This year I'm proud to say I did a little better.   I made two gifts for one person.

I love making gifts for Imani because she truly appreciates them.  I feel like we've done something right in raising her so far because she gets almost more excited from receiving homemade gifts as she does when she opens all of the toys she's asked for from Santa.

She understands the meaning of gifts from the heart . . . even more so than some adults I know. 

I love that about her.

Like when I made her fingerless gloves last year for Christmas.

She did a little dance when she opened them and then she wore them to school almost every day.

So this year, I made her another pair, except I put her initials on them. She's going to be so happy when she opens them.

Knitting isn't that much of a big deal for me though because I love to do it and I've been knitting for a long time now, so I can knit a pair of fingerless gloves quickly.

The real labor of love came from something I've never attempted before.

I decided to start this project back in the Spring time when I was inspired by Katie at Philigry.  She made a beautiful quilt for her daughter and I had great ambitions to learn, start and finish one for Imani before Summer.

I went to the Salvation Army and bought a few sheets with patterns and colors I liked.  And then the cutting began.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

My friend Claire came over to my house one night to help me make the cuts because I was clueless (I did purchase a mat and rotary cutter though!)
I became overwhelmed by all of the cutting and quit in the Fall.   I think Imani forgot about my ambitious project.

I pulled out all of the pieces just a couple of weeks ago and somehow managed to finish last night.

I'm so proud of myself and I know Imani is going to be psyched that my first quilt is for her.  Technically, this isn't my FIRST quilt, because my mom and I made one by hand when I was young, but we never finished it properly and it fell apart.   But this is the first quilt I've done all alone and it's the first quilt I've actually made cuts.

I was a little nervous to show it to Jason. 

Jason, who can work a miter saw and makes perfect cuts.

Jason, who has incredible artistic talent.

Jason, who is precise and neat.

Jason, who paints trim without tape because he has such a steady hand.

I am completely opposite. 

I rush.

I'm impatient.

I'm not neat.

And you can see it in some areas in my quilt.

But Jason's response was one of pride.  "Holy Crap . . . you MADE that?  Steph, seriously, you could sell those!"

This is why I love that man.

He didn't zoom in on my crooked cuts or crooked sewing.  He didn't care that my quilt didn't have a border.

And Imani will love it too.

Oh, and for the record, I would never sell a quilt.  I cannot believe people make these and sell them.  This was one of the most labor-intensive, time consuming projects and it wasn't even a big quilt (or a fancy one!).  I have a new found respect for quilters. 

I don't know if I'll ever make another one, but I am proud of myself.

I'm just happy I finished it.

I'm happy it's for someone I love.

I'm happy it'll bring her warmth and comfort.

The Girl Creative

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Upcycled Gift Tags

When Jason and I first met six years ago and celebrated Christmas together, I remember wrapping presents and being surprised he wasn't going to use the little gift stickers that you can get at the dollar store.

"We make our own gift tags from old Christmas cards," he explained.  It was a family tradition each year to take the time to make the tags for people he loved.

At first, I thought it was strange. It was so much easier just to slap a little sticker on each gift.

But the tradition has become one of my favorites. I look forward to pulling out all of the previous year's Christmas cards and creating beautiful tags.

First, we gather all of the Christmas cards and begin finding images we think would make good tags.

Next, we cut out the images and find backgrounds from other cards to layer them. Layering is important to make them look nicer.

Glue or tape them together and include a folding rectangle where you'll write "To: and From."

That's it!  Beautiful, hand-made and green!

They look so much nicer on gifts than the dollar store stickers, even if the paper and the bows came from the dollar store!

If you feel like getting more creative with the entire wrapping process, even though you only have one day left, check out Sweet Paul. There are some great wrapping ideas on his site that I hope to use next year.  I did manage to try this one today.

We save the tags each year, but inevitably have to make more because some get lost in the mix (or they get old and worn out).  Next year, we'll need to make a lot of tags because we'll need to add a fourth family member to the "From" section!

What do you do with your Christmas cards?
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