Monday, April 26, 2010

{Good Morning Monday}

First things first....
I have decided that I am going to take a computer break this week. Well-- I mean blogging break--I will still check facebook, e-mails, and be available by phone. Which by the way--This past weekend I had a virus on my computer/e-mail and it sent it to everyone on my contact list. I was SO frustrated that words could not describe how I felt. But I did get it fixed-- I HOPE--It seems to be fixed for now but if something changes then I will have to change my e-mail address but I will keep you updated on that.

Ok-- So that was my little tangent but now back to what I was saying. 

I sometimes spend WAY to much time blogging-- well maybe not as much as some people-- I guess...... but more then I should sometimes. I can't help it! I LOVE blogging. But I have lots planned for this week and upcoming weekend and there is NO WAY I could do it all and blog. I promise I will be back refreshed and have some NEW things to share. So stay tuned for that... 


And Remember.....
Have a few good days - and take some time away from the computer yourself! I bet we would all be surprised by how much extra time in the day there is when we don't spend so much on the computer! :-)

Since I will NOT be posting on May 1st--which is Photography Tip Day I am going to share it with you today. It will be a little something I can leave you with or should I say Open Light Studio's can leave you with, after all, they are the ones sharing these tips with you!

So as I always say at the beginning of a Photo Tip post:

Open Light Studio's is a professional husband and wife team who give us tips each month on how to better yourself with the camera.

Today's Tip:
Backgrounds Are Subjects Too
The backgrounds of your photos are subjects too.
I'll explain: You have your child as your main subject, but lurking behind your child and helping creating life and energy into your photo is the background.  We all know this subconsciously because most people want a photo shoot at the beach for example. But when it comes to taking your own photos, it's often forgotten and most of the images are taken inside your house or in the yard. Go to different locations!  Walk the streets downtown with your child, go to the beach, to a lake with ducks, to a park, the marsh, etc. Your background is the supporting actor for your child, use it well.

 This is a beautiful picture and tells a fun story of a boy having fun on a tree swing. I think the lighting is gorgeous. The background which is almost non existent but yet perfect with the marsh makes the boy "pop." Which means, really makes you focus on him rather then have a distracting background.
Photo taken and copyrighted by: Open Light Studio's

Click on the titles to see the this past years tips:




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Friday, April 23, 2010

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Last Thursday night I attended a family friends wedding shower. I left my husband home with the boys so they could have boy time with daddy and also b/c wedding showers are no place for 4 year old rambunctious boys or 14 month old babies who like to go to bed by 7:30. So you get the idea as to why I didn't take them....It was a lovely evening spent talking to women I hadn't seen in a while and eating chicken pot pie, salad, rolls, cake, punch, and fruit salad. When I returned home I was not surprised to find my husband counting down the minutes to when these little bad boys would be done. 
 Ok.....
So I was surprised and wondered why he wasn't doing his normal evening reading or completely worn out from the busy night of feeding, bathing, and putting the kids to bed alone.
I actually thought it was really sweet that he would put the kids to bed then high tale it in fast gear to make these from scratch and get it done by the time I got home. Although it was late we both decided we would have one, plus--how could I have said-- No--certainly not after all that hard work.
We also shared some with some work friends and family. By Saturday they were gone and everyone wanted more...
They also get better with age–and really, who doesn’t want that?

My sweet husband also took the time to document the process...Since he knew how much I like to include pictures with recipes. He even said, "You can blog about this."  Well little did he know that I would!

Makes 32-38 cookies
Ingredient:
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (plain, or a toffee variety), finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Directions:
1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.
3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.
7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

*Recipe originally from Dorie Greenspan but revised my Smitten Kitchen in 2007 and now by Mommy Buzz in 2010. 



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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pretty In Pink

Since I have not had to opportunity to create a little girls nursery for myself (due to not having a girl) I decided I would turn to a lady designer in the San Fransisco Peninsula-based area named Melodie Rubin, owner of House of Ruby. 
This is a whimsical, chic and opulent design. It is such a darling nursery that I couldn't pass up from sharing it with you. 
The beautiful yellow, pink and white color palette is not typical, but yet still feminine and shouts, "It's a girl!" The sunshine yellow wallpaper by Nina Campbell is a nice backdrop to the nursery's focal point and inspiration, a white Sutton Canopy Crib . The crib with a four poster bed look converts to a toddler bed and is dressed in crib bedding custom made from Serena and Lily Ruby Sunshine Mosaic Fabric.
An antique, hand painted side table handed down from a proud grandmother was placed next to the custom glider - arm chair by Patricia Edwards {available through the trade or Posh Tots}. A throw pillow by Trina Turk pulls the color scheme together nicely and mixes in a modern touch.
The rug diamond pattern area rug is made from 100% New Zealand Wool Berber and is by Masland Carpet Mills.
The exquisite round tufted ottoman is worth a closer look. Like the chair, it is covered in solid bubblegum pink and contrasting pastel pink dot fabrics both by Designers Guild {available through the trade at Osborne & Little}. The cord and trim add a touch of whimsy and are both from Fabricut.
I love this nursery design by House of Ruby because it has range and can easily evolve into a toddler and little girl's room. What do you love about this sweet nursery room?

If that doesn't tickle your fancy then check this next room out.
 This nursery was designed to fit the character of a 1926 home. The muted pink wall color is an ideal backdrop paired with touches of black toile.To keep with the classic style, the walls were painted pink and white furniture with traditional charm was chosen. A chandelier ties this French-Traditional theme together. The tree-branch wall graphic (by the left wall window) was found on etsy.com and the birdhouse (in the top left corner of the room) was bought at a flea market and painted to add a whimsical element over the crib. A sheepskin rug softens the hardwood floor but leaves plenty of it uncovered for a classic yet sweet space. 


These are both different styles of room but are both charming and fit for a "girl." Hopefully these two choices will give you an idea or inspire you if you are planning to decorate a little girl's nursery.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We have a climber

So I am back, up and running. I have been able to catch up on some sleep (well somewhat since the boys have been sleeping late) from the nights that both my boys didn't sleep this past weekend. I am thankful they are feeling better and that we are back to our normal routine.
We enjoyed yesterday playing and cleaning but as I was busy scurrying around I realized I didn't know where my little one was. 
Guess where I found my little stinker?
Yup..On the table.
Look at his smile. He thinks he is big stuff.
Should I say, Dare Devil....
Let's just say-- I am glad I found him.  Needless to say--I didn't take my eyes off him after that.
Also I had to use my phone to take the pictures so I must apologize for the lack of photography skills on these. At least I captured the moment and can document that he really did climb the kitchen table.
Do any of you have children who do this? Let me know that I'm not the only one with a dare devil, who might I add is--fearless.



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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

~Amazed~

I am amazed each time I look around me at God's beautiful creation. It is everywhere. When I saw this picture it was another reminder of how GREAT our God is, how MIGHTY He is, and how He knows just what He is doing.


 Psalm 42:1
"As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for you, O God." 




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Monday, April 19, 2010

{Good Morning Monday}

This particular morning I am giving you a recipe instead of a regular Monday morning post. Your question is "I wonder why?" Well--giving that my boys were sick this past weekend (which I decided this morning-- is going to land us in the Doctor's office today) and for some reason the last two nights I or my boys couldn't sleep, I am all worn out and can not mentally pull my thoughts together today.

I have often made this recipe for a quick and healthy lunch, although my son and I are usually the only one's eating it I thought I would share it for all you health conscience people this week.
Note: I will be using Smitten Kitchens picture. 
See--that is another thing--being drained this morning caused me to use other peoples pictures but I will properly note the photo so we don't have to worry about copyright issues...
You will have to excuse me from this fog I am in this morning.. I promise I will be back to myself in no time...I think I just needed a day to recover!
Have a great Monday---
Photo by: Smitten Kitchen-taken by Deb
 Bulgur salad with chickpeas and red pepper with spiced cumin dressing

Serves 4 as a main course.

Ingredient
1 1/2 cups fine-grain bulgur
3 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 ounces drained jarred roasted red peppers, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup quartered yellow cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, finely chopped (to reduce its bite, you can soak it and then squeeze it out with the bulgur for some or all of the absorption time)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 medium head lettuce, leaves separated
4 pita breads, warmed and cut into wedges

Directions
1. Place the bulgur in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and set aside, stirring occasionally, until the bulgur has softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the bulgur, shaking the strainer and gently pressing out excess moisture. Return the bulgur to the bowl.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil until the dressing is smooth.
3. Add the chickpeas, roasted peppers, tomatoes, red onion and parsley to the bowl with the drained bulgur and stir to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the bulgur mixture and toss to combine.
4. Line each individual plate with several lettuce leaves. Mound some bulgur salad over the lettuce and tuck some pita wedges into the salad at several places around the plate. Serve.




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Friday, April 16, 2010

Something Cute

Something Cute to leave you with for the weekend......

Ok, So I am not one who lets my kids run around without clothes (most of the time) but today I had one who escaped from being dressed and cuttled on the chair with his brother. What can I say? They are too CUTE!
p.s. I have no idea what they were looking at, they just both happened to look in that direction at the same time.



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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Food Revolution


This is not at all what I had planned on writing for today's post but as I started to think about it, I changed my mind. Have you heard of Jamie Oliver from ABC's, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? If you haven't let me explain for a quick second. 
(Taken from Jamie's website) Jamie has made a new series for American TV about food – how families eat, what kids get at school and why, like the UK, the diet of processed food and snacks is causing so many health and obesity problems. The series was filmed in Huntington, West Virginia.
Jamie's challenge was to see if he can get a whole community cooking again. He worked with the school lunch ladies and local families to get everyone back in the kitchen and making tasty meals with fresh ingredients – no packets, no cheating. He's started a Food Revolution: to get people all over America to reconnect with their food and change the way they eat.

Click here to read on ABC. .

But the reason for writing about this on the blog is to get the word out to parents of children to promote/provide great choices for there children.  It is such a hot topic amongst parents, that American eating habits have become increasingly unhealthy, and rely too much on processed and fast food. This is becoming more evident as obesity, heart disease and diabetes threaten to create the first generation of children with shorter life expectancies than their parents. Jamie’s Food Revolution aims to change how Americans eat—by helping them learn to cook. 
 
To continue to spread the momentum and to show that people care about the importance of promoting healthy food and cooking skills for children, Jamie has created an online petition which he plans to present to the White House: www.JamiesFoodRevolution.com/petition
 
I signed it last night and am asking if you would read what he has to say and sign his petition.  

Thanks for reading about something so important and helping in the process of getting this healthy food revolution started.


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yummy, Yummy....

 I am sure most of you have heard or tasted the Buffalo Chicken Dip, usually served with chips. Well this is a similar recipe but with the crescent roll. I think it might be a winner in your home or for your next party. If you need a real crowd pleaser then give it a try!



INGREDIENTS
12oz cream cheese (from two 8-oz packages), softened
2tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce or other red pepper sauce
1/3cup crumbled blue cheese (1 1/2 oz)
1/4cup finely chopped celery
1cup finely chopped cooked chicken breast
2cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® Place ’N Bake® refrigerated crescent rounds (16 rounds) or 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/3cup LAND O LAKES® Unsalted or Salted Butter, melted
1cup plain or chicken-flavored panko-style bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS
1.Line cookie sheet with sides with waxed paper or cooking parchment paper. In medium bowl, mix cream cheese and pepper sauce. Stir in blue cheese and celery. Stir in chicken until well blended. Shape mixture by tablespoonfuls into 32 (1 1/2-inch) balls; place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate 20 minutes.
2.Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. If using crescent rounds, remove from package, but do not separate rounds. If using crescent rolls, remove from package, but do not unroll. Using serrated knife, cut each roll evenly into 16 rounds; carefully separate rounds. Press each round to 3 inches in diameter. Place chilled chicken mixture ball on center of each dough round; shape dough around ball to cover completely.
3.In shallow dish, place melted butter. In another shallow dish, place bread crumbs. Dip dough balls into butter, then roll in bread crumbs. Place 2 inches apart on large ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.

 Note: This recipe was taken from the Pillsbury Bake-Off finalists.



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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Planting a Garden for Rookies


Wouldn't it be divine to have these growing in your backyard?


I have often wondered how nice it would be to have a small garden in my yard. To have the capability of walking into your yard and picking fresh vegetables, herbs, and some fruit sounds delightful. Even though I do not have a green thumb I have been researching and preparing myself for when I move to plant a garden. I found these simple key tips for planting a garden and thought I would share them with you--just in case you get the urge to start one. 
 
*Any time is a good time to start a garden as long as the ground isn't frozen solid or soaking wet. For many new to gardening, starting small is the preferred choice. Bugs, weeds and diseases can often prove to be discouraging. As your confidence and abilities increase, so can the size of your garden.

*Try to situate your garden in an area that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Your garden also needs to be conveniently placed near the house and a water source. If you have a compost pile, place the garden in close proximity to make it easier to maintain. Keep your garden away from mature trees that could invade your soil with their roots. Underground utility lines should also be avoided for this reason.
*Another important consideration is providing air circulation for your garden. Avoid keeping plants beside solid walls or fences. This will reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases attacking your plants.  
 
*To mark the perimeter of your garden, use a string attached to stakes, or use a garden hose. To keep grass from growing into the garden, use a border — plastic, metal, wood, stone or even a plain trench will serve this purpose.
*Most likely, your garden will be covered with turfgrass. Do not till this grass into the soil as it will only produce thousands of tiny sprigs that will sprout again. Remove the sod with a shovel to a depth of about four inches and cart from the garden. Replace this sod with a mixture of leaves and compost to a depth of three or four inches. Water this area well for a week or two. If you see any weeds pop up, a slight tug will solve the problem. The sod you removed can be used to cover bare spots in the yard or can be stacked upside down and in layers to turn to compost later. If your soil is clay or rocky, construct a frame on top of the ground for raised-bed planting — be sure to use rot-resistant lumber. Once filled with organic matter, it's ready to plant. 

*Work the soil only when it's moderately dry. Tilling, walking on, or cultivating the soil when it's wet leads to creating something akin to adobe: the whole structure of the soil is destroyed.
 
*If your soil is too wet to work, used raised beds to enable earlier planting in the spring. The soil in raised beds dries out and warms up faster than the surrounding earth.

*Plant cool-season plants such as peas, onions, Swiss chard, spinach and lettuce in early spring so they mature before hot weather arrives. Delay planting warm-weather crops until you're safely past the last spring frost and the soil has warmed sufficiently.

* Ease your transplants into the garden. If you've started seedlings indoors, expose them gradually to the conditions they'll have in the garden: start the pots off for only a few hours in a sunny place, then gradually increase the amount of sun exposure before installing the transplants in the garden.

* The best amendment for your soil is one you can make yourself: compost. If you don't already have a compost pile, start one now.
 
* Rotate your veggie crops, growing them in different spots than in previous seasons. Tomatoes are especially vulnerable to diseases that may linger in the soil or in plant residue.

You are now on your way to an amazing garden!

P.S. Write me if you have a garden and let me know the pro's and con's. 


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Monday, April 12, 2010

{Good Morning Monday}

Wow! It has been two Monday's since I have done a Good Morning Monday---I promise my weekends have been fantastic but just really busy. This past weekend my friend and I gave a baby shower at Olive Garden. I know it sounds different but we have done about 4 showers at restaurants before. The ladies seem to like it and enjoy a fun lunch with friends and family.

My friend and I made these cute favors and sat them at each ladies place setting. Something a little sweet and salty to take home. Chocolate covered pretzels, popcorn, and M and M's. 

 A very long table for 20 ladies, 2 children, and 1 baby...
These were delicious cupcakes that matched the color theme of the shower. 

Saturday afternoon we attempted to take our boys to the beach... Well lets just say it was COLD. For some reason even though it was 70 degrees the wind was kicking and it made it really chilly. Our poor boys were shaking but they did have a blast for the short time we were there. We promised them that we would be back and they would get to play for a long time. There was some tears but what can you say-- I can't blame him!
Can you see the wind blowing in his face?
More Fun

We enjoyed dinner at the beach and HAD to stop by Rita's Italian Ice for dessert. It had been years since I had been to that place and I wasn't going to pass that opportunity up. If you haven't had a chance to eat at Rita's then you are missing out! It is a yummy fruit flavored ice with vanilla custard on top. Yummy.

Sunday morning we did not attend church. I know--shame on us. Our youngest was coughing alot and didn't sleep well so we decided to keep him out of the church nursery and just take it easy. Not a very good excuse. We enjoyed a long-- and I mean long-- 2 1/2 hour walk down a 14 mile trail. Obviously with two kids and a stop for lunch (not included in that  2 1/2 hour time) we did not walk the entire 14 miles but we did walk a pretty good distance.
Here is the beautiful trail:
And that sums it up-- Hope you had a great weekend.



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Friday, April 9, 2010

Oh Boy!

You are probably wondering when I am going to be done with this room by room interior design idea, right? Well my plan is to go room by room and show you ideas (whether they are over the top=expensive- or just simple=affordable.) Hopefully you can take something from each of these post and I won't bore you with it in the process.
Now onto today's post....

Do you remember the movie Father Of The Bride II? 


It is a classic in my book. My husband and I sat down one night and started flipping through the channels and we landed on this movie. We had seen it a hundred times before but it is one of those movies you can watch over and over again and laugh at every time. When it came to the nursery scene I just loved it. I thought the room was great for either a boy or girl and the light yellow/neutral tones were calming.



If you haven't guessed yet-- the room today is a babies nursery. But not just any baby room, I am specifically talking about boy rooms.

This post is for moms-to-be who haven't settled on a design for there baby-to-be.


The design of the beautiful modern nursery above was inspired by the Alphabet crib bedding by Dwell and created by the homeowners. The walls were painted in soft shades of blue - Cumberland Fog, Little Dipper and Silver Strand. My favorite element in the room is the wall mural. It was created on the computer, projected on the wall and then hand painted. The white & espresso crib and dresser are by Babi Italia Scandi style. The chocolate brown rocker and ottoman are by Wendy Bellissimo. 
 
Do you recognize these names?Trista and Ryan Sutter - yep, the couple from the Bachelorette reality TV show . They  worked with Green Nest to help them create an eco-friendly nursery for their baby boy. They selected no VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, carpet, furniture and bedding. The large vertical striped wall with baby blue horizontal accent is really striking.
This darling beach inspired nursery for twin boys (if you can see the beds next to each other on the left hand side) was designed by Little Crown Interiors out of Southern California. Custom Serena & Lily bedding was created for the two white cribs. The chocolate brown double-width rocking chair by Little Castle Furniture is perfect for a mom with multiples! It also coordinates nicely with the custom drapes and changing table by Newport Cottages.This collection of colorful sand shovels and starfish pillow is perfectly beachy, but not over the top.
 I love to pull inspiration from Pottery Barn Kids, and usually I choose bolder or brighter colors for my boys rooms but this sheep nursery was just too sweet to pass up. It's a wonderful neutral color scheme that would work for either gender. I particularly like the PBK Larkin Fixed Gate Sleigh Crib that was inspired by the beautifully carved beds of French royalty. The whimsical Camilla Goldleaf Chandelier adds another natural element and warm light to the room. The appliqued Sweet Lambie Nursery Bedding is not only cute, it's made of organic cotton. Love that.

Hopefully these ideas will inspire you if you are in the process of decorating a baby boy's room. Stay tuned for next weeks inspiration room: baby girls....



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