Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Apple Cider Cupcakes

I never claim that the cupcakes I bake and show you guys are imagined in my own head.  Because truth be told, I'm not as creative as I like to think I am.  I do claim that I LOVE cupcakes and baking though!  Decorating/Icing cupcakes is definitely my idea of a fun time.  Feel free to check out my entire Pinterest Board dedicated to Cupcakes.

So let's get to it and look at some fabulous Apple Cider Cupcakes (recipe found here).  I've been dying to get some apple cider to drink all Fall and this was the perfect excuse to buy some.  Since I only needed one cup there was A LOT left over for me.

Forgive the bad lighting, that's what you get for taking pictures at 5:30 am

Sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with chocolate

Two major critiques on these cupcakes and icing.
1.  The cupcakes were dense.  They seemed more like muffins to me in that sense.  Oddly, I made caramel apple cupcakes a few weeks ago (and a friend also made another recipe for caramel apple cupcakes last week) and they were dense too.  I'm wondering if it's an apple thing.
2.  The icing was very runny.  I had to put this in the fridge just to get it to set up enough for me to frost them all fancy.  Even the left over that was in the fridge for a week (and I snacked on) never got very hard.  Maybe I'm just not use to it since my icings are usually pretty thick.

I like the cupcake MUCH better than a candle as the centerpiece!

Have you baked anything delicious lately?  What do/would you spike your apple cider with?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's looking like Fall around here

First off, Happy Halloween!  This post is JUST making it is time to be semi-relevant since there is Halloween stuff involved.

I blogged about the fabulous built-in shelves that live in my living room here, but never really did anything with them.  I can't believe I have been in the new house 7.5 months.  It feels like just yesterday, but in the same way seems like it's been forever.  I guess that really proves it's our forever home when it feels so right.

Before: my current style was decorating with cards apparently.  And yes, I can't reach the top so much doesn't go there right now until i find good permanent pieces.

Anyways, back to the shelves.  I figured they would be my main decoration display feature during the holidays, but then realized we aren't in that room too often, so I wouldn't get to see very much of what I put out.  So I walked around the house looking for some other rooms/locations to get festive with.

I can never decide how to decorate during the Fall since Halloween and Thanksgiving both Fall within the time span so I decided to do a little bit of everything.  I'll be taking down the extra Halloween-ey stuff this weekend and leaving the Fall decor up till Christmas (or maybe New Years at the rate I'm going).

The built-ins did get a little bit of spiffing up.  I traded around some pieces, tried to de-clutter a bit and pretty much threw whatever didn't go elsewhere.  The jar of corks got moved from their usual spot on the mantle (stay tuned this is my favorite decorating spot) and the bowl with the large orbs got swapped for some fall colored items.  Burnt orange has always been my decorating taste since buying our first house, so this time of year is perfect for many of our things.  Lots of what gets left out year round fits in.

After: Lamp got moved in here, still working with a good placement of it.  All the cards are gone leaving less clutter but a lot more dead space, both good and bad.

The little, round table in our foyer is fairly new.  My parents are down-sizing and I am taking all the things they don't want.  It's getting bad, my husband hates it, but we DO have a large house to fill.  I'll stop when there are no more spaces left which we are far from.  After accepting this from my parents I realized one day it was the table that use to sit in the upstairs of our old house (not the one they are downsizing from).  So glad we could find a space for it in our home.  Memories....

Before: Very boring...just a little lace doily.

I attempted to put a cob-web up on the railing at the stairs but the cats were "re-decorating" it every day and finally I gave up.  I'd like to make this a nice spot to hang a banner throughout the seasons.

So the table got the "cob-web" on a candle stick and fall basket.  This doily was swapped out for this place mat and another candle and acorn dish were thrown down.  Ignore the ugly Halloween tin on the bottom.  It stored a lot of the little things and never got back to storage.

After: Any ideas on how to decorate these walls, they are B-O-R-I-N-G!

In an attempt to add some festive flair in the kitchen/breakfast nook, I threw up this bat garland (which I had bought for the dorm in college) and added a spooky sign.  I love buying items from the craft stores right after the holiday when it's all on sale.  That's how this little guy came into my possession.

After:  Just spiffing up the pantry door.  (For the before just image those two items not there, good).

The dining room, another area rarely used but walked through a bazillion times a day, got a few pieces as well.  The lazy susan lives on this table and is always holding the large hurricane vase which was a wedding present.

Before:  Oh look, daylight in this photo.  Another room that really needs to be more put together.

I change out the candle and filler for the seasons.  I have yet to lite the short, fat, three-wick candle that came with it.  I'm weird, I hate lighting candles.  So I have about 5 pumpkin scented candles all over the house but none are lit.  The table runner is another hand me down from mom. :)

After:  Yes I have a fabulous corner hutch back there I could have decorated, but I didn't.  Not enough decor for all this space yet.

By far my favorite place to decorate is the mantle.  It's in the family room so I see if every day and stare at it all evening.  It really is a blank canvas in general.  When we moved in we added the mirror, hoping to bounce some light around in the room and the clock usually stay up there too.  To the right is the entertainment center which is another great spot to decorate but I didn't.

Before:  Isn't he fabulous?  We just had our first fire in there last week

I tired to play with varying heights but am not sure I quite succeeded.  This guy will definitely get some tweaking until I find the perfect decorations to use.  Again, a garland or banner would look great here (like the before picture but my husband insisted that one get taken down).

After:  Mostly a hint of Fall and Thanksgiving with a nod to Halloween using the crow.

So there we have it.  Trying to spread my minimal decoration around the house.  I'm hoping to score some after season sales on other items.  Since this was the first time decorating this space during this time of year I really had to get a feel for what more I wanted/needed.  I learned I definitely have a lot more space to work with than I really thought.  I can only go up from here though!

Do you decorate for Fall and Halloween separately?  What's your favorite spot in your house to decorate?

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Day in the Life of Me

I've been trying to find a day that is semi-normal.  That I'm doing at least something consistent that I do every day but besides waking and going to sleep (only to some extent) I rarely have had a typical day this year.  Working killer amounts of overtime will do that to do I guess...and selling a house, moving into an apartment, buying a house, moving into said house....the list never ends.

So what follows is a "typical" day in the life.  I'm breaking from norm and not following a single day but Doing A mash up of my days.  And actually life has recently gone back to normal only in anticipation of in completely changing again.  So without further adieu, a day in the life.

5:30 am  
The alarm on my phone goes off.  How is it morning already?  I browse facebook (a lot happens after I go to bed at night) and delete all the 'spam' from my email while laying in bed and trying to wake up.  The light from the phone helps.  My friends think it's funny I reply to all kinda of things at 530am as opposed to midnight like they do.

5:35-6 am
I don't believe in the snooze button.  Never have and never will, not even in college.  If I'm gonna hit the 5 minute snooze 3 times, just set the alarm for 15 minute later.  Snooze sleep is worthless anyways.  If I wake up naturally within 15 minute of my alarm going off I just get up because otherwise that semi-sleep isn't worth it to me.

Now that I'm off that tangent.  This time is me getting ready for work.  Mostly just standing in the bathroom half that time still trying to wake up.  I don't like to shower in the morning because then I have to blow dry my hair which I prefer not to do, I have enough split ends without ever using a blow dryer.  So the morning is really just washing my face, putting on some basic make-up and getting dressed.

6 am
Head downstairs and grab my lunch from the fridge.  Make sure I have my purse, wallet, phone, work computer bag and anything else I may need that day (like a gym bag).

6:10 am
Heading out the door.  Make sure I have parking money (it's never fun to pay in quarters) and get the stereo set.  My commute can take anywhere from 30 minutes (when I leave early like now or any time before) to 45 minutes (typical traffic if it's busy) to 2 hours (when there is a lot of snow or accidents).

One bonus of working so early I get to see beautiful skies every day (PS: Don't take pictures and drive).

7 am
By this time I've walked into the office from the parking deck.  It's a small lot (the cheapest) about 2 blocks from my office.  Sit down and power up the computer.  Usually just 1 or 2 other people are in at this time.  In my office people come in anywhere between 6 am (yes I was doing this for a long time) and 9:30/10 am.

From here on out I do different things every day depending on how far along a project is.  I'm a civil engineer.  I design roadways and put together plan sets.  I also work on document control of really big projects which involves lots of emails throughout the day.  Recently I began keeping a list to help keep my email organized.  You have technology but it always comes back to basic pen and paper.  Throughout the day I take some various break.

Some plans from a job at work

Sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 am
Take a few minutes to have some breakfast.  Likely oatmeal.  If someone brought something into the office I'll eat that instead.  I can never refuse a free donut (or bagel).  Depending on when I take this break I'll check up on some blogs.

Someone brought in mini muffins for me to enjoy with my peach oatmeal

Sometime between 1 and 1:30 pm
I take my hour lunch break.  Usually I've packed something.  It's typically left overs or else a salad.  My new favorite is salad with corn, chicken, colby jack cheese and ranch dressing.  If people in the office are going out to lunch this usually happens around 11:30 so my eating schedule is altered (or I just skip breakfast).

4 pm
This is the time I leave the office on a normal day (like what I'm trying to document).  As long as I'm not in the middle of something I head out by 4 otherwise I wrap things up and then head out.  When I pull out of the parking garage I play the 'Which Way to Turn' game every day.  And if there is a game in the city, that makes it even more fun.  It has tookmTook  minutes to get the 5 blocks to the highway before (and that's even been in good weather).  Being downtown kind of stinks, but I usually make it out in 5 minutes or so.

Peace out CLE.  (OK, this is from an evening I worked sunrise to sunset, not cool)

5 pm
I like when I get the opportunity to visit the gym.  We are members of our college's Rec Center which is super fancy and as alumni it's actually the same price as a membership elsewhere.  I say it's so nice because the classes are included and there is a pool (though I've only used both those perks a handful of times when I was a student).  Mainly l like it because there are MULTIPLE tvs, with tons of equipment and a lot to choose from.

And this is only about a quarter of it.  Not including the weight area, the rock climbing wall, the lazy river/whirlpool/hot tub pool, Olympic sized pool, fitness classrooms, various courts...

A workout usually includes the elliptical, stair stepper and the treadmill (sometimes the stationary bike to change things up).  I spend in total about an hour at the gym.  I like to go at 5 pm because Dr Phil is on (don't judge me) and the drama is enough to make an hour pass quickly.  Although other times someone has messed with the TVs and you're stuck with Friends' re-runs.

If I'm not headed to the gym I usually get home and try to relax or organize the house for a bit.

6:30 pm
I'm home from the gym or bored of sitting around and it's time to do something.  I'll shower and pick out clothes for tomorrow.  If you've never picked out your clothes ahead of time I seriously recommend it.  I use to pick out stuff for the entire week on Sundays.  It was so nice and also a lot easier when in college and you didn't have to think about what to wear.  Now I have to consider what is going on at work, are we going out to lunch and walking somewhere (no big high heels), what is the weather like...  A day ahead seems to work out very well though.

7 pm
Hopefully we're eating dinner by now.  If we haven't decided what to eat by now I threaten to eat cereal (which I love and leaves my husband to peanut butter and jelly).  We are HORRIBLE meal planners.  Mostly because we are both picky eaters and neither of us is big into cooking.  I don't want to spend 30 minutes or more prepping and making a meal when I've been gone from my house for the past 12 hours.  Definitely not ideal to me.  While some love to cook, I love to do other things around my house or just relax.  My time in the kitchen usually involves cupcakes mostly.

Brought these in last week.  Chocolate cherry, yum!

8 pm
By now something has been eaten and we've cleaned up.  Spending time in the kitchen usually leads to me putting away mail, organizing our 'drop zone' and packing food for the next day.  Sometimes I'll get a load of laundry in too.  I have a problem remembering to move stuff to the dryer from the washer or emptying the dryer, so unless I am nearby, very little gets done.  This is why I usually spend an entire weekend day doing a TON of loads to get laundry done.  I've also recently made our kitchen table the spot to put everything that needs put away still from moving into the new house.  There are just SO MANY THINGS!  We're getting there very slowly.

(Because a day in the life isn't complete without at least 1 of my kitties)
He's clearly "helping" with the laundry...

9 pm
By this point I just want to relax.  My husband gets home at least an hour before me (and he leaves 30 minutes after me, call me jealous) so he usually has control of the remote during the evening while other things have been going on.  So around 9 I always head upstairs to get ready for bed and watch some of MY tv.  I'm usually flipping through the channels unless a series I watch is on.  Otherwise I'll watch old shows.  Right now there is really nothing on, so I've become obsessed with house shows again.

10 pm
I threaten to lock my husband out if he doesn't come upstairs.  I hand over the remote and let him find something to watch because I'll soon fall asleep while he is up longer watching television.  I never had a tv in the room I slept until I got to college and now I couldn't live without it.

10:30 pm
I'm shutting the lights off and asking for the volume to be turned down to I can get some sleep.  Dreading doing it all again the next day.

Thanks for taking a second to peek into my daily life.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What's in my.... (Take 2)

Melanie at Mailbox Journey has invited us all to a little link party to find out:

I already shared some dirt on this topic a while back, here, but I figured a total purse cleaning was needed again. It's been just over 6 months and let's just say I haven't made any progress on keeping it clean.  And I may have discovered more weird items this go around (although no kitty).  Let's make this a bit more simple:

1: My point and shoot digital camera.  I never leave home without it, though I rarely use it anymore and instead choose to use my cell phone camera.
2: My work cell phone.  I hate iPhone by the way, but I didn't want to get a Droid and confuse it with my own phone.
3: Makeup bag.  We'll check that out a bit more below and see how I purged some items from it.
4: Bath and Body works Lotion.
5. Business Cards.  With my old position so I threw these out.
6. More lotion, uh WHY?!  Got rid of this one.
7. Gum.  I had thrown this in there for a meeting so it's now just back in my desk at work.
8. 3 flash drive.  Apparently these are still getting transferred when I change purses even though I have been out of school 3 years now and don't need them.  One has stuff for a big engineering test I'm studying for, so it stays.  The others were put away.
9: All camera disk, since I started using a digital camera.  I never until I got my DSLR took pictures off of these because I was afraid to lose them all.  I had to get an external harddrive for my pictures now since DLSR files are huge!  I apparently couldn't think of a place I won't lose them (i have a tendency to put things somewhere I won't forget....but then I forget....).  These are now in with all my DLSR camera stuff.
10: Tum, Tum, Tum, Tum, TUMS!  These were to bring to work, but apparently never got out of my purse.  Now in my desk.
11: 5 stray acetaminophen tablets.  I was getting some killer headaches for a while and these were everywhere!  Like I'd fold a pair of pants and they would fall out of the pockets.  Guess these guys never got thrown out (or used).  Had I known they were there....gah!
12: Plastic key identifier.  This has been hanging out in my purses for 5 years. Again I ask, WHY?!  It's now identifying my trash.
13: 3 bobby pins.  Usually I keep one in my purse and the other 2 were thrown in there to use the other day but I never did.
14: Wallet.  We'll look at it some more below.
15: My keys.  "R" key chain, house key for my Aunt's, house key for my Brother's and our own house key then my car key and fob.
16: Random catch all bag.  We'll clean it out below.
17: Entry/ID card for my building and office.  Also bathroom key.

Honorable Mention to the bag of mini sliders that I had just thrown in my purse to take to work for the next days lunch (as well as the Lowe's paint refunds and matches I just took out)
The Makeup Bag

This baby is quite a mess.  I was able to throw away the dried out deodorant, used with makeup tissues, 2 of 3 nail files, the old blush which was pretty much gone, a makeup brush I rarely used, a dried out mascara and a dried out foundation.

New and improved, smaller bag (in a more fun print too)

The new makeup bag fits inside the small one (smaller in all directions).  I added a new mascara but didn't have another small deodorant.  The new blush is much smaller and brand new (gotta love samples).  The dried out foundation was pointless because I had a perfectly good foundation in there already as well.  


I love this thing.  I got it from a Leather Factory in Florence, Italy.  I had WAAAYY to much stuff in there (like normal).  I got rid of more old business cards, put away some 3+ months old receipts, shredded credit cards that were expired and not used, threw out my health insurance cards which are inactive since I switched to my husbands when we got married (yes 2 years ago), and organized my gift card collection.  She closes just fine now.

Catch All Bag

Mostly this holds my little coupon folder, the key cards, check book and a pen.  I recently stashed a bunch of stray coupons in there so they got organized in the mini folder.  I also threw out all expired coupons (which I often forget to do).  I went threw my key cards and got rid of a bunch then put them in order by most used.  I can never find Giant Eagle but I use it weekly.  I got rid of a library card from the district I use to live in, the hair cut place card (because I rarely get a hair cut or do it myself), and the tanning salon card (which I got for free for a week before my wedding).

After this clean sweep I threw everything into the new purse and took it to where I keep my things for the morning and realized it was practically just as heavy, sigh.  Guess I didn't remove anything big (and I did have those buns in there...).

Any ideas on what I should remove to make it lighter?  What don't you think I need?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

2 years

Happy 2 Year Anniversary to my husband!

Although he drives me crazy at times, I still love him.

He's taking me out to dinner tonight and given me my exact request for a "gift" each year so I'd say he's a keeper. Since I didn't blog when I got married let's look at a few other flashbacks, because who doesn't love wedding photography?!

Apparently I love black and white photography

We celebrated in a "castle" (aka fancy country club)

He let me do this at the reception and kindly followed my rule that if he did it to me I'd slap him, in front of our families.

I can't wait for what our future holds!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Saying Goodbye

2 months ago we said goodbye to our home of two years.  The house we first lived together in.  The place that we fixed up ourselves.  Put a lot of time, money and energy in to.  The home we created and styled and made ours.  The spot that became a gathering for all our friends.  We have lots of good memories there.

I spent our last day of home ownership working at home (not because I'm that sentimental but for other reasons) sitting on the hardwood floor on a single sofa cushion.  With no Internet at our temporary apartment yet this is where I camped out. 

That evening we cleaned and said our goodbyes.  I took pictures of an empty house (save for the items the buyer bought from us).  My husband told me I was crazy.  Although these are an after from what I originally showed in this post they aren't what I still want to show you.  I'm amazed at some of the things we managed to accomplish together and not kill each other.

Besides before and after's from the old house, I hope to get back to blogging soon once we get "organized" in the new house.  Who wants some styling posts?

Non the less, these are some really good "after" shots of how we transformed our foreclosure into our home. 


Living space (aka Family Room):  ripped up carpet and laid hardwood, new higher baseboard, painted walls, built shelves, installed light/fan unit, hung curtains at back slider
Kitchen: removed vinyl flooring and replaced with tile, new higher baseboard (to replace the grey plastic stuff), painted walls, installed light fixture, repaired ceiling (OK, we paid someone to do that)

Kitchen: replaced all appliances, new hardware, granite counter, installed backsplash, painted our orange accent wall here into Family Room

Half Bath: removed vinyl flooring and replaced with tile, new higher baseboard, painted walls, removed builder grade cabinet for stand alone sink unit, new mirror and light fixture, hung art.  This was probably our most "complete" room thanks to being so small!


Master Bedroom:  removed ugly teal carpet and installed lush beige carpet, reinstalled baseboard, painted walls and all trim, repaired ceiling (paid someone), installed light/fax unit, hung curtains at window, painted door (minus sliding closet doors)

Missing this place already...

Upstairs Bath:  removed vinyl flooring and replaced with tile, added real baseboard (not the grey plastic crap), painted walls, installed new leak free toilet, built towel rack (see part of it in the mirror)

Upstairs Bath:  removed builder grade single sink unit for fancy double sinks (do NOT miss the black granite shows every water spot and dust particle counter top), installed mirrors and light fixtures after removing the large single mirror, new shower head and shower curtain bar

Guest Bedroom:  removed teal carpet for beige carpet, re-installed baseboard, painted all the trim and walls, installed light/fan unit, hung curtains and blinds

Note:  Walls were NOT this yellow.  They are same as the hallways and living area

BASEMENT (nothin' fancy)

This would have been the biggest change had we got to it.  It was in the plans but when we listed we knew it wouldn't help a lot with re-sale (based on the time/effort that needed to go in to it), so it was nixed unless we didn't sell and stayed here

I DON'T miss basement laundry.  Down here all we did was fix the pull string light fixtures

Basement Full Bath:  patched the walls (think previous owner kept a pet in here) and painted the walls.  Super nice to have this down here when we were re-doing the upstairs bath.

So that's it.  Nothing amazing to see as it is still an unfurnished yet much more finished canvas.  Can't wait to share the before and after renovations. 

Let's suffice it to say this place definitely brings back some good memories (and some not so pleasant ones).  You will be missed my first place!

What types of renovations did you do in your first place (could be house or apartment)?  Did you do them for future re-sale or just because.  We definitely have a mix of the two.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes

Let me just start by saying I was PUMPED to show off the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake I was making for my friend's son's First Birthday.  I was so rushed to finish it on the day of (little new oven mishap the night before with cooking) that I forgot to take pictures.  Of course then it was crazy at the party and I never did there either.  Complete bummer.

Apparently the apartment oven was WAAAY off on its heat because this was 10 minutes under recommended baking time.

So instead I'll present you with my Mickey Mouse cupcakes.  If you want to check out ideas on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake, please feel free to browse my Cakes/Cupcakes Pinterest board.  The cake is similar to the one shown in there, except I used plastic characters I purchases on Amazon to add some more 3D elements to the cake.  I loved the free standing cookie clubhouse idea too.  The cake was a basic chocolate filled with a buttercream frosting mixed with oreo.  YUM!

I also got to make a simple smash cake for the birthday boy to enjoy.  For the smash cake I removed some batter from what I made for the cupcakes and baked a little cake using a Pyrex dish.  That way I didn't have to bake a full 8" round then cut it down.  The extra I would have ate, and my waist doesn't need that.  This size was perfect to get him, good and messy.  A yellow cake also allowed for a lot of colored icing to smear all over his face.

I think he liked it!

On to the cupcakes...

As soon as I saw this cupcake ideas I was sold.  Hook, Line, and Sinker I tell ya.  I knew they would be simple but perfect for the theme.  I was even excited to get to use my new food processor to make them.  I loved how these turned out and all the kids at the party got excited about them.  Apparently they were much cooler than the cake that took me forever.  Ya win some ya lose some.

I just used a yellow cake box mix (Pillsbury probably) and then my go-to Wilton Buttercream icing.  I tinted the icing a little brown so the white wouldn't stand out too much behind the oreo crumbs.  Then I smashed up some oreos.  It only took about 2 out of 3 rows of the oreo.  My husband was quite pleased with that since I yelled at him every time he looked at the oreos leading up to this.  It's important to ice the cupcake (no particular style since it got squished anyways) then immediately dip in the oreos.  Otherwise the icing will dry out some and be less sticky.

I added ears using mini oreos.  Just one bag was enough for all 48 ears.  Make sure you try to pull out the good ones.  If it's only half, eat.  If it's a little broken, shove that part in the cupcake.

I'm thinking this year I need a Micky Party

I used a hole punch to get 48+ little dots then glued them on the cupcake liner AFTER they were baked but before icing/etc.  Just a little dot will do ya!

If When I do it again, I'd add a bit more icing.  Some Mickey's were looking a little flat headed, no good.

Are you hungy?  What have you been baking or cooking?