Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Paisley Love!!!

Hello again! So today I finished a project that I've been working on for a little bit. I have a huge obsession for Vera Bradley, ESPECIALLY paisley patterns. This is my second paisley canvas that I have done and they are not easy. They take some time since there is so much detail, but it's worth it! This canvas is a 16" x 20" and my first was just a 12" x 12". Needless to say this was a much larger project and I played around with the colors more this time. The color scheme is vibrant so in the future I plan on doing more subtle color schemes like I did with the first but it was definitely fun to experiment. Unfortunately, the pictures don't do the art justice but it will do for now! If you have any canvas art that you are working on, fill free to comment and I will be glad to feature you! Btw in case you couldn't tell I like green and blue! haha Enjoy!
My First Paisley Canvas:
Turquoise Layered Paisley (12" x 12")

If you are interested in paisley art and you don't have a vinyl cutter such as a Silhouette machine, you can find paisley templates online. I used templates to keep the general outer shapes the same size and the I had hand drawn the details for each one.

Progress Picture 2

Progress Picture 3

Done for the most part, just a few touch-ups.









Sunday, June 26, 2011

Birthday Weekend!

Hey all! This weekend we were blessed to spend time with my parents and we had a blast!! We went to our favorite lake yesterday and today was my momma's birthday! I'm sharing a recipe for her favorite cake, German Chocolate Cake. You really can't go wrong with this dessert, especially if you like coconut, which we LOVE! I'm always on the look out for cute candles as well and I found these adorable zebra print candles at Hobby Lobby. You can find such cute candles these days if you know where to look. I've included some great candle ideas and locations to find them.

Happy Birthday, Momma!!


German Chocolate Cake
Ingredients
4 ounces baker's sweet chocolate
1/2 cup water
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
Filling, recipe below
Chocolate frosting of your choice

Directions
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F

Heat chocolate and water over a double boiler until melted. Stir until smooth and set aside. In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla extract, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating, until just combined.

Add the egg whites to a small bowl and beat with an egg beater until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the batter until well incorporated.

Pour the batter evenly into 2 (9-inch) cake pans or 2 (12 cupcake) cupcake tins. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes for the larger cakes and 15 to 20 min for the cupcakes. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Coconut Pecan Filling
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
5 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut (YUM!)
2 cups toasted pecans

Combine the evaporated milk, slightly beaten egg yolks, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and butter in a large saucepan over low heat. When the butter melts raise the heat to medium, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken after 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the coconut and pecans and cool before frosting the cake.

Assembly
Put a cake layer on top of a serving plate and top with a generous layer of caramel/ pecan filling. Cover the filling with another cake layer and add more filling on top in an even layer. Spread chocolate frosting (can be homemade or your favorite store bought) around the outside or simple pipe an outline of the cake leaving the pecan filling exposed in the middle.

It's a little bit of work but so worth the effort! Enjoy!



These are so great! My mom is an Interior Designer so she enjoys anything special like these because they have a little more ummpphh to them than just colors. They would be great for a boy (or girl!) safari birthday! Keep your eye out for these! http://www.shopbakersnook.com/m5/7304--animal-print-themed-candles.html

I LOVE these tall skinny candles! You can find them in any color to match your party theme and they're sophisticated for adult parties. I had multi colored tall candles for my 21st Birthday cake and they were so cute!!! They're also great for smaller cakes to 
give the cake extra height. Definitely a FAV!





These candles are great! I've had them before on my very own birthday cake so I can assure you that they really do glow different colors and the candles are actually small oil containers that burn the candles longer than wax candles. Great for small children when you're trying to get that perfect picture but the wax is melting too fast. Plus, what kid doesn't love multi colored flame candles!






How cute are these!!! Stripes are always in and these are great for a girl or boy party!
http://www.orthodoxcandles.com/page/2





Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ribbon Roses!

It's almost Friday! Time to soak up some sun and celebrate my Mom's Birthday on Sunday! I found these fabric roses a while ago and I thought they would be a great craft to make for my cousin. Today I found a tutorial and I tried it out on my own. It was a lot easier than I thought but by no means are they perfect! hahaha I definitely can use some practice. This one I made with a wide ribbon that I cut in half longways to get the strips which made my rose frayed. The ribbon was also patterned so it's difficult to see the rose center and outside petals. I'm definitely going to the crafts store to get some solid colored thin ribbons to experiment with! So cute! I'll post a tutorial of my own soon but until then I give credit to http://www.scrap-a-little.com/2009/07/tutorial-for-ribbon-roses.html>  Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Painting Without Numbers


Paisley Turq
Happy First Day of Summer!!! I hope everyone is enjoying the sun but still staying cool! The heat is definitely an excuse to get crafty inside. My absolute favorite hobby is to paint canvases. I've completed several canvases over the years and I wanted to share in today's blog. I love to experiment with color and when you start with a blank canvas or blank anything for that matter, your options are endless! I also use wooden letters and other materials.  I definitely plan on exploring other interesting ideas with canvases that I will post later. Enjoy!


Wooden Lettered Canvas
Soccer Sports Jersey (Customized)


Zebra Merideth
Look After My Heart                                                                            
Hanging Wooden Letters
Woo Pig Sooie!
                                 Razorback



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy's Girl

In honor of Father's Day I wanted to share the recipe for my Dad's favorite cookies. We cook tons of these during the holidays. Fair warning: they're addicting!
Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here are some extra hints:
*To prevent your cookies from spreading out too much and getting flat, chill the cookie dough for about 1 to 2 hours in the fridge before baking.
*If you use salted margarine or butter, decrease the salt to 1/4 tsp.
*Also, if you want to omit the nuts, either substitute the amount with oats or experiment with your own ingredient; like raisins.

I hope you like them! Enjoy and Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Puppy Love!

It's been such a long week but it's finally the weekend!!! So I'm relaxing and trying to figure out what I'll write for today's post. I usually post about recipes or fun crafts but today I wanted to post about another aspect of my life, my little man, Jackson. No he's not my son, he's my 8 month old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He was my Christmas present this past December and since then he's been Momma's boy in everyway possible. With the intense classes that I take and the overwhelming stress that is my current life, he is the perfect stress reliever to come home to.

Hippo!!!!! Jackson's favorite baby toy.
His baby bed! 
Where it all began, momma's boy!
His favorite sleeping position... haha
Momma, I don't wanna get up. I'm too sleepy!
His Best buddy, Granddaddy!
I hope you have something or someone that makes your life wonderful like Jackson makes mine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I'm always looking for simple dinner recipes to try at home and to do so I make sure I have some specific items always in my pantry or fridge/freezer; boneless, skinless chicken breasts or ground beef, bread crumbs, canned vegetables, olive oil, flour, pasta and basic spices. This helps me limit the amount of special ingredients I need for recipes during the week. These days, produce is so expensive so if I'm buying for a specific recipe I try to plan ahead for other ways to use it before it goes bad in the fridge. If a recipe calls for celery but I don't use it all, I'll plan on celery and peanut butter for a light snack one day or if I have leftover lemons or oranges, I'll chop them up and use them to freshen my garbage disposal. Some ingredients are harder to use in multiple recipes which is why I use http://www.supercook.com/ . This website is a great way to utilize the ingredients in your home. Just type in various ingredients that you have in your kitchen and it will give you options for recipes. Tonight I wanted to use some chicken breasts and thought of maybe trying a Chicken Parmesan recipe. I found this one on FoodNetwork.com and it was a HIT! 

Start out by thawing (if you keep your chicken in the freezer like me) 4 to 6 chicken breasts. For two people I only cooked 4 chicken breasts and it was more than plenty. Once your chicken breasts have thawed, begin setting up your stations and preparing your chicken.

             Chicken Parmesan
Ingredients
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil

Directions
Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick. You can either you a meat mallet or a rolling pin.


Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread crumb mixture, pressing lightly.


Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. I served my chicken parmesan with green beans and sweet corn but you can add whatever you like.


NOTE: This recipe is great but I would like to add a few things that may help you. Although it calls for freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated parmesan, black pepper and pregrated parmesan work just fine. If you want more of a bite in the bread crumbs I would suggest sticking to the fresh parmesan. Also, I used Great Value brand Italian seasoned bread crumbs and they were wonderful so keep your eye out for that if you're interested. If you are unable to pound the breasts and they are a bit thicker than a 1/4 of an inch, keep your heat on medium and slowly saute so the chicken will fully cook and you won't burn your crust. 
One more thing, this may be obvious to many of you but DO NOT reuse any leftover flour or bread crumb mixtures in your stations. These mixes have come in contact with raw chicken and can contaminate anything you use it with. I hope you find this recipe as yummy as I did! Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

River Rocks!

Today I was looking to spice up one of the tables in my living room and I found these river stones at Hobby Lobby. The majority of the decor in my home is Southern inspired; driftwood, clay sculptures, decorated gourds, wood framed artwork, etc. I've only used solid black stones for a candle holder but I LOVE the idea of the multi color rocks. $2.99 for 3 lbs!
These neutral rocks work great for any color scheme in your home. I even found great ways to use them. Of course you can fill a glass with them and make a candle holder but here are some other great ideas. They make great frames, gifts, vases, placemats, drawer knobs and centerpieces. Let me know if you come up with some ideas of your own, I'm definitely trying these myself! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Let's Get Organized!

I LOVE arts and crafts! I always have a project going whether it's painting, scrapbooking, decorating, whatever but that doesn't mean that my supplies are organized. There are so many great ways to keep craft supplies or even everyday items in neat containers around the house without relying solely on clear plastic containers. Here are just a few ideas that can keep your things neat and tidy while still being accessible.

You can find this cute storage box at a crafts or home accents store such as Hobby Lobby. So many of my photos have been damaged by storing them in clear containers or up in the attic. Heat and sunlight can deteriorate photos. This box is the perfect solution and its cute fabric cover lets you store it in your closet, storage room or even out in the open on a table or mantle. You can use it to store receipts, bills, and recipes as well!

Experimenting with jars of varying sizes and shapes can spice up your shelves. The latest trend in jar storage is shelf mounting. What a great idea! By mounting jars under a shelf you utilize so much space and your supplies are handy when you need them. To ensure your jars don't come crashing down I suggest pre-drilling a hole in each jar lid then using short wood screws to secure them into the underside of the shelf. Be sure to compare the thickness of your shelf with your wood screw so that you dont have any screws poking through the other side.Countryliving.com



I found this spice rack at http://www.chefbenwa.com Instead of storing spices, you can store clips, pins, buttons, ribbons, etc. The clear tops make it easy to see the contents.




Fill open shelf spaces with assorted bins. You can find woven baskets like these or  fabric lined bins to bring some color to your shelf. If you have an oddly shaped area, measure the space and find the right bin to utilize the space. File folders work well for tall areas.



I love reading and my book collection is steadily growing. If you have a collection of books in your home that you enjoy displaying try this creative trick. Arrange the spines of the books according to the color spectrum. By organizing based on color the shelf will brighten your room.

There are endless possibilities and ways to organize your supplies and items in the house. Try different containers to fill multiple spaces. Keep in mind, the items you use less often should be stored higher in closed containers and organized into groups. Things you use frequently should be on middle to lower shelves, in open containers to access them easily. Smaller items like pens and buttons should be on the bottom shelves or at table height. This will prevent frustration when working on your favorite craft. Enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time to Party!

Goodbye Thursday and man was it HOT. It just makes me want to lay by the pool and relax or even better have a pool party. I thought I would share some cute ideas for hosting a party by the pool that is more sophisticated than the typical Luau. These ideas are perfect for an adults only get together.

Timing is everything! Especially when the heat keeps you from enjoying the outdoors. Plan your pool party for mid afternoon (3:00 or 4:00 PM). This will allow the party to continue on into the evening. Summer night swims mean you can swim without getting burnt to a crisp and also give a cool setting with the right lighting.




Lighting around the pool creates a cool atmosphere at any outdoor party. String lights are inexpensive and can be used all year round and for any occasion. I would suggest metal lights if you plan on leaving them up for the summer. Paper lanterns even under patios can be damaged by rain and winds. You can even get colored metal lights like these that I found at MarthaStewart.com




For extra color you can add paper lanterns in varying sizes and colors.If you choose colored metal string lights go with white lanterns and if you decide to go with dark metal string lights, use bright vibrant colored paper lanterns. This will keep your colors from clashing. Organize.com

These cute pots are a great way to decorate tables. Krylon outdoor paint helps personalize according to your party colors. Fill the pots with whatever flower or plant you wish. Shells and seastars add to the pool theme.
Cintronella candles are great to keep the bugs off your guests and they smell good, too! Citrus scented citronella candles will make your party comfortable. You're not limited to the OFF! brand either. You can find decorative citronella candles at your local Home/Garden store.

Another great party idea that can be used all year is a personalized ice bucket. With a metal bucket, you can add vinyl lettering to say whatever you want it to; your last name, your last initial, a quote, etc. If you want the bucket to have a little extra you can spray the exterior areas with Krylon metal primer then applying whatever color you wish with Krylon outdoor spray paint. Once dry the vinyl letters can still be added to the side of the bucket. Outdoor sprays help resist weathering. If you choose not to store ice in the bucket you can store dry towels, sunscreen and even toys in it.
Save-on-crafts.com
Silver plastic cutlery and plastic margarita cups are inexpensive and fun ways to spice up your party. Silver cutlery looks like real silverware but it's actually plastic, fun ideas for guests to use. Plastic margarita cups let you have your favorite summer drinks but in safe cups that keep broken glass out of your pool. 

Food and drinks are completely up to you so be creative. Steak and chicken skewers, fruit and cheese platters and fruity coctails are always a hit so experiment with those. These are very simple ideas that let you think out of the box and make your party unique! Enjoy!