Things I’m Loving

Every month I post about things I’m loving… sometimes it is real life stuff, style, decor, fellow blogs and so on. So here is a grab-bag of things I’m loving lately.

In Life:

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My amazing “Aunt Kathy” of York’s Corks (actually my dad’s cousin but we are close so she earns the “Aunt” title) was going through a box of family stuff and sent me this incredibly detailed frame embroidery by my Great Grandmother “Gram Corc.” I love it for its obvious sentimental value and history. Not to mention the craftsmanship and time this must have taken! I’m not yet sure where to hang it… It could be a cool piece to add to the gallery wall in our foyer espcially with that black background! Or perhaps it could add an interesting pop elsewhere (half bath? or guest room?). Decisions, decisions!

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Speaking of the foyer gallery wall… it happens to be the background against my next “love”… fresh hydrangeas! I promise I didn’t do that on purpose. Anyway, when we go grocery shopping everyone gets a “spurge”… sometimes it is something unhealthy (poptarts!) or indulgent (wine for me) or just a total perk like flowers. In the midst of our gloomy, frigid winter I have been so excited to “splurge” on flowers. Then I break them into several small vases and scatter them throughout the house, literally bringing life into each room!

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Oh yes, dessert. Hubby and I went on our Valentine’s date during a blizzard. That’s how good our favorite place is. Everything on the menu is fantastic so saving room for dessert is difficult. But we look forward to dessert as much as we do the rest of the meal so on our way in, we pass the dessert bar and choose two pieces to be held for us… you know, in case everyone else knows how amazing the homemade confections are. Here we have an Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake and a Classic Red Velvet cake. Both were divine… I may or may not have reenacted the famous cafe scene from When Harry Met Sally.

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On a separate outing, we went bowling for a friend’s surprise 30th birthday party. I feel like just yesterday we were still celebrating 21st birthdays. So, we’re not so young anymore I guess. What a fun time! Hubby and I realized 4 things: 1- We had never been bowling together before. 2- Hubby is a really good bowler. 3- I am an embarrassingly bad bowler. 4- The style of bowling shoes haven’t changed in 50+ years.

With O:

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O got new play shoes. Not just any play shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. I grabbed them at Target for less that $20!

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The good news: she loves them. The bad news: she loves them too much.

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When I first turned the corner into the shoe section she gasped “SHOOOOOOES!” And I gleamed with pride that my girl loves shoes. And then I realized this might be a really bad (expensive) habit if we don’t keep it in check. Haha! Anyway, she wouldn’t let me take off her other shoes. I had to pry her other shoes off while she screamed “No! My Toms! Mommy! MY. TOMS.” I had to explain that she would get to keep her shoes and buy new ones. She’s been wearing her Chucks since. Like every minute. She even wants to sleep in them (um, no.) and calls them her “Chuckies.” Oy, I’ve created a monster.

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We had a freak spurt of nice Spring weather. O and her friend H graffiti-ed our entire porch and sidewalk with their chalk art. We had tons of fun and lots of laughs. Too bad their masterpieces are now covered in snow and ice. What a tease… We are all looking forward to more sun and warmth.

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O asked me to tuck her bear in and give her some books. Then I sat in the hall and listened to her read to him and sing “Happy Birthday.” Just too much cuteness.

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And I can’t forget O’s new favorite hiding spot: behind the couch and the curtain. 

On Pinterest:

Winter seems eternal this year. But I’ve been eyeing tons of pink fashion, home decor and jewelry to brighten my days and pull me through these gray winter days. Pink pinterest boards gives me hope.

PINK

Source

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Source: Pinterest

Visit my Pinterest board inspired completely by my love for my daily grind.

On other blogs:

Brunch with KT of Nerdy Girl Writes. I’ve had the pleasure of an actual real life brunch date with this nerdy girl, but for those of you who aren’t so lucky her “Sunday Brunch” posts will have to suffice. Poke around! She has tons of post on decor, fashion and suggestions for good reads.

Nutella Brownies on Cup Of Jo. This woman speaks my language in so many ways. Nutella is my favorite!

PSSSsssssttt: Get 20% off any purchase over $10 at my etsy shop by entering SPRING20 at check out. Good thru 4/1/14

Bag Lady

Well, we all know I’m a bag lady. But I’m not talking about purses or reusable totes here. Let’s talk Ziplock, shall we? And no, I have no affliation with the makers of Ziplock and the like. I do, however, like to make life a little easier whenever possible. And so I present to you: smoothie bags.

On the weekends I often spend a little of my down time to prepare for the week. Sometimes that means packing bags for our evening activities (swim lessons for O, American Cancer Society meetings for me and Futsal for Hubby) or prepping ingredients and meals ahead of time like this Sunday night meal that makes for great leftovers during the week. One thing that proves to be a lifesaver is smoothies. I can easily pack a ton of healthy stuff into a cool treat. And O thinks they are like dessert: Mommy tricks for the win! Oh, and if you have never heard of Futsal, join the club… my husband suddenly started coaching it… and I had to Google it.

Anyway, to save time and trouble I usually have a few “smoothie bags” ready in the freezer. This helps if we are in a hurry or low on fresh ingredients. Sometimes the bags are made at the end of the week when I have a small collection of fruits and veggies that are “on their way out” or just too many to eat before it all goes bad. It also makes the process easy for anyone to do when I’m not here. I even have been known to pack a smoothie bag and take it to work… and all that needs to be done is toss it in the blender. I wouldn’t say I have “recipes” but I definitely have a system.

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My secret is to take bottled Naked or Odwalla brand smoothies and make them into ice cubes in the days before. That is what you see in the center top of the photo above. This way you can get things that are either hard to blend (like carrots and citruses) or fruits and veggies that are out of season into your smoothie. It also eliminates the need to toss in ice cubes when it’s time to flip the switch. If you’re a juicer you can make cubes out of anything you juice as well. Then I lay out my loot. This is almost always spinach, strawberries (frozen and fresh), an almost-too-ripe banana or two, pears (I can’t seem to keep them long), and blueberries. Lots of other things can work too: pineapples, raspberries, melon, kale, and so on. Some of your choices may need to be softened by steaming or peeling them first. You can also toss in flax seed, wheat grass, supplements and protein powders. I usually don’t because I almost always share these with O but it’s a great way to down things that are just plain unpleasant when you do them alone.

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Next, I cut everything into easy to blend cubes and sort out what I’d like in each bag. Somethings can be put with any flavor… spinach, kale and banana are easy to mix with because they aren’t overpowering flavors and are easy sweetened up with other ingredients. Same goes for many of the juices I used to make the ice cubes. All berries go well together, at least I think. Basically, just mix ingredients into the bags that you would like together. If you would like to have a strawberry smoothie then put in 3 or 4 with a banana, spinach and a cube… in the end you’ll mostly taste the strawberry. I make mine “single serving” sized and they only take up 1/4 to 1/3 of the bag but if you want larger portions then you can fill your bags more.

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Last, I label (with your name or what is in them) all of the baggies and freeze them. When I’m ready to make one I just grab one and toss it in the blender with a liquid in order to thin it out. Consider using soy, almond, or cow’s milk. Sometimes I use yogurt, fruit juice or applesauce too. Why not enjoy a smoothie on your way out the door in the morning, or as a snack before or after a workout? We even treat them like dessert in the summer. The possibilities are endless!

Rainbow Cupcakes (for dummies)

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I was babysitting one day and I had a pair of 7 year old twins to entertain along with Baby O. I had a rough agenda of dress ups, mani/pedis (which they always LOVE) and baking cupcakes. They were supposed to bring dessert to a family dinner that night and mom said we could bake them if they wanted.

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We got to work on laying out the cupcake liners and choosing icings and ingredients. At the very last second I remembered my friend telling me she makes her daughter a rainbow birthday cake every year. I was immediately impressed but she made it sound so easy. She had told me that she simply evenly divided the batter and heavily food colored each
color of the rainbow.

Boom. I presented my idea to the twins and they thought I was a magician!

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I divided the batter into six bowls which ended up being about a half cup per bowl.

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Then I colored each bowl with food coloring. Some colors took more coloring drops than others but I knew I wanted vibrant colors so I just made them as bright as possible.

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After I got the colors to where I liked them I started layering them into each cup by the spoonful. I chose to start with red on the bottom and worked up: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple (for those of you who can’t remember the rainbow order).

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Then we baked the cupcakes according to the directions in the box and voila!

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Icing is a piece of cake (har har). To make the tub of icing go further I whipped it in Kitchen Aid. Then I cut the corner off of a ziplock bag and loaded the icing in. Then I simply swirled the icing onto the cupcakes. No mess and way easier if you ask me. Add some food color and sprinkles if desired.

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Tada! And here is one cut open so you can see the rainbow effect. And they were quite tasty too.

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