Thursday, May 31, 2012

The One With the Things I Love About Ellie (2 years, Part III)

It's been too long since I've written one of these. Being a mom to a two-year-old is tough stuff. I find it difficult to strike the right balance in teaching her. I want her to know I love her more than anything. I don't want to nag her about everything. But I do want her to grow up to be strong, confident, kind and caring. I feel like I'm growing up as a parent just as much as she's growing up as a kid.

And boy is she growing up. She has so much to say and do and think these days. It's so much fun to be a part of. She's my little ray of sunshine. And I love her so very much.

1. I love that she has a little family of hairbrushes she carries everywhere. There's a mommy hairbrush, a daddy hairbrush and Ellie and Wia hairbrushes. She gets very sad when they have to go in their drawer for the night. And it's really difficult to carry around four hairbrushes and do regular things, so she's always a little frustrated that her arms don't cooperate very well. I'm thinking we may have to get her a hairbrush carrying apparatus of some sort. Meanwhile, I have no way of doing my hair.
2. I love that she is always singing. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (when the doctor says "No more monkeys jumping on the bed" she makes her voice deep and serious and shakes her finger that the bad little monkeys). Baby Boo-ga (Beluga).(Those are just the best of the week. There are plenty more.)

3. I love that she makes constant demands that I draw things for her. Currently, she wants me to draw her and all her friends laying on towels under a palm tree. Or at a dance party.
4. I love that she is already a bargaining shopper. The other day Daddy was getting her dressed and she said, "I want wear Elmo shoes." Daddy said, "We don't have any Elmo shoes." She replied with, "Go get it. Only ninety-nine ten dollars!" A girl after my own heart.

5. I love that she goes around commanding inanimate objects to apologize to each other. A few weeks ago she was pushing her stroller around the house and ran it into a chair. In a very persistent voice she commanded the stroller, "Say "I'm sorry, chair!" When the stroller obviously didn't reply, she crouched down and got in it's "face" and said again, "Say "I'm sorry, chair!" and then she knelt down on the ground and kissed the chair leg to help it feel better.  Soon after she was walking through the kitchen and her sippy cup slipped out of her hands and landed on the floor. She picked it up and said, "Say I'm sorry, floor!"

6. I love that she always says, "I need like some water." or "I need like special treat." We're trying to teach her the different between need, like and want. And we're still waiting for a breakthrough.

7. I love watching her grow and learn. It still catches me off-guard that she actually listens to me and remembers things that I tell her.On Sesame Street the other day some characters were trying to teach Cookie Monster to eat vegetables and she corrected the TV, saying, "No! Cookie Monster eats cookies!"
8. I love that she refers to 101 Dalmations as the "Asian doggies." "I watch Asian doggies, mama!" And I love Addison for introducing her to the Asian doggies.

9. I love that she says, "muffer kin" which is her way of saying "another again", because those two words are obviously best used in tandem. "Watch Elmo muffer kin?" "I need like muffer kin special treat."

10. I love how much she loves to read. This girl is still a book fiend. I heard her reading Curious George Visits the Aquarium to herself the other day. And whenever we get books from our book exchange that we participated in, she just can't do anything else until we've read all the new books several times.
11. I love that she is always jumping around. She just doesn't stay still for one second.

12. And I love that I just put her down for a nap wearing only a diaper (as a precautionary measure) and her Elmo slippers. Or "wippers" as she calls them.

And I love being her mama. It's a fun ride. And she is a constant source of joy and love.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The One With the Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

My new ice cream maker makes me want to make all sorts of deliciously unhealthy desserts all the time. And I'll get to that. But I thought it might also be good to come up with a (relatively) healthy alternative that I could whip up. And what better to make than fresh strawberry yogurt. Mmmmm.

It's super easy and requires only four ingredients. Ready? I thought so.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 (6 oz.) containers Greek vanilla or plain yogurt*
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Hull and slice your strawberries and put them in a container that has a lid. Add the sugar and toss with a fork. Microwave on high for about 45 seconds. Remove from microwave, put the lid on and shake. The slight heating plus the shaking helps the strawberries to release their flavor and natural sugars, which improves the taste of the yogurt. Let stand, covered for about an hour.
After an hour or so, blend the strawberries and sugar until they are pureed (liquid). Add strawberries, yogurt and lemon juice to your ice cream maker and make as directed.

Keep any leftovers in the freezer and remove from freezer about ten minutes before serving, so it can soften up to frozen yogurt consistency.   
*I like the addition of a little bit of vanilla to the flavor. However, the plain yogurt is also delicious. So it's really up to you and your preferences.

This is really good all by itself. But if you'd like, you could serve it alongside some lemon bars. Because that would be awesome.

Check out my "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I linked this up. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Streamlining Saturdays: Project Simplify (Part Two)

Boy howdy. Just about the time I think, "Wow. I've got this under control. I'm doing great!" I read a blog post like this one.

If you didn't click the link above, I'll fill you in: Jordan of Oh Happy Day is moving into a 450 sq ft apartment in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. Yep. Four of them. In 450 sq ft. Now, granted, they live in California and are probably not so sequestered indoors for the majority of the year like us Portlanders, and they have an art studio close by that they work out of, but still...

Don't get me wrong. I don't need a mansion. At all. In fact, my dream home would be just about as tiny as possible, but with everything perfectly placed and expertly crafted to provide maximum organization. I mean, I like a little room to breathe. But those Ikea model floor plans make me a little giddy. (Admittedly, my dream home is the apartment out of Friends. Yeah... one great room that's well organized and arranged and two bedrooms. With a view of Central Park Forest Park and a little balcony for entertaining.)
And then I think back to my simplification project. All of this stuff... no way would it ever fit in an Ikea home.

So I did some more cleansing and purging. Next step: closets.

I think I took over half the clothes out of my girls' closet. I realized I was dreading doing laundry because it was always such an insurmountable task. So I decided to get rid of the clothes that didn't fit them or I didn't really like in an effort to minimize the laundry I had to do. It's been nice.

And in my own closet I got rid of anything I haven't worn in a year. Way too many things were being saved "just in case." Or because I loved the color even though the article didn't actually fit. Or because it had some sort of sentimental value. I'm a grown up now (gasp!). I should probably act like one, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. No more uncomfortable shirts just because they're cheap. No more anything that isn't perfect. I've realized that if that dress/top/skirt/whatever didn't work out, there will come along one that will and I'll love it and I'll be sad if I wasted my money on something that didn't.

So the guidelines I used to clean out the closet go as follows:
  • If you haven't worn it in a year, it's out.
  • If it is showing wear and tear, it's out. 
  • If it doesn't fit, it's out. 
  • If you don't like it and don't feel pretty in it, it's out. 
Pretty simple, right? Well, I bet you'd be surprised how much of your closet would go under that criteria. My mom always said that you only wear something like 50% of your wardrobe. And I've come to realize that's true. I have the clothes I love because they fit well/comfortably, have multiple uses and make me feel pretty. The rest is surplus that could probably go. And when it does, you suddenly have more space for the things that matter. And less time doing laundry and more time having fun. That's something I can get on board with.
Other helpful hints for keeping your closet organized and in good use:
Make sure things don't get hidden. Once piles start to form things get lost and don't get used.
Build your wardrobe consciously. If you get home with something that doesn't really add to your closet (i.e. it doesn't go with anything you already have), return it. If you buy something really trendy you later decide you can't pull off, return it. Get something you'll actually love. I also like to keep a running list of pieces I would like to add to my wardrobe. So when a sale comes along I can hunt with purpose.
Have a place for everything. Color-code your hanging clothes so you can easily access what you need. Display your jewelry so you remember to wear it. You can even do something simple like use a cork board and some push pins to get your jewelry out and about. Keep things like belts and scarves in clear containers so you can see what you have. 

P.S. How do you add to your wardrobe? Nicole of Making it Lovely recommends these 8 Wardrobe Pieces Worth Investing In. What do you think the basic are? Or do you not care about basics? Is it all about fun and trendy styles?

P.P.S. After my make-up reducing purge of last week I saw this article (and this one) on Design Mom discussing beauty and makeup and what it says about us. A very interesting discussion. Check it out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The One With the Photo of the Day (May 25th)

We had some fun playing dress up yesterday. Even this little smooch wanted to dress up and wear my hats. They are much too big for her but she didn't care. She just walked into walls, toppled over, put her hat back on and went on her merry way... right into another wall. It was so very fun.
What's being a girl all about if not playing dress up every once in a while...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The One With the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

I bought my first Kitchen Aid a couple of months ago and I'm hopelessly in love. It's kind of ridiculous. It makes everything so easy. And I love making homemade pizza dough with it. But I was really, really excited when I found out that you can get an ice cream maker attachment. So that's what I requested for Mother's Day. And it has arrived and it is marvelous!

We went to a barbeque at my sister-in-law's new house on Saturday and I thought it would be fun to bring some homemade ice cream. I thought vanilla was a good place to start and looked up a couple of recipes for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I was disappointed to discover that vanilla beans run about $11 each... and since one recipes requires a whole bean I thought that was pretty ridiculous. So instead I opted to make a Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream. It's still more special than regular ol' vanilla, but a heckuva lot cheaper. And it's pretty simple... although it does require some forethought.
Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream
(Makes about a quart)
  • 2 cups (1 pint) half-and-half
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the half-and-half to a simmer. Do not let it boil; watch it carefully and remove just before boiling point. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until well blended. Add the half-and-half and whisk to combine. Return the half-and-half mixture to the saucepan and heat again, until steaming, but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in whipping cream, vanilla extract and salt. Chill in refrigerator for about 6 hours.
Prepare in your ice cream maker according to directions.
When it is ready it will be a soft-serve consistency, which is delicious. But if you'd like it to be more of an ice cream consistency, freeze for 2-4 hours or overnight in an airtight container.
I served this with some Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and it was so good. The perfect way to celebrate the start of summer.
It would also be good with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies or drizzled with Homemade Caramel Sauce

Check out the "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I shared this!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The One With the Nightscapes

Nightscapes. Is that a word? Spell check says no.
O well. A few weeks ago I posted about going on a Portland Photo Tour to Saturday Market (see pictures here, here, and here).
Well, Mallory and I went on another photo tour to try our hands at taking pictures of the Portland skyline at night. It was so. much. fun. Check out our Collaborated Collection:

These are called our Collaborated Collection because we were both using one camera and tripod. But that's ok, because as it turns out, you mostly increase your shutter speed to lengths like 30 seconds to get these shots. Therefore, there's plenty of time for everyone to practice everything.

We were practically giddy over taking these. Call us nerds, but there are few things we enjoy more than learning how to take super sweet pictures. That, combined with the fact that we were pretty cold, and that it was getting late, led to some pretty silly moments. And therefore some strange pictures. Like the one below. I had set up our little tripod and camera to take this cool shot of the water. And then we got distracted and Mallory picked up the camera amidst a cry of, "Hey! That was taking a picture!" Here is the super artistic picture that resulted. I think it's museum quality.
Anyway, you can see even more of our collected works in Mallory's post about the subject. It was definitely fun. And we may have some pretty crazy plans to go back this summer (when it's warmer) and try to take some more. Yep, we're awesome like that.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The One With the Photo of the Day (May 21st)

Sometimes, you've just gotta get the crayons out and have some fun.
When did those little hands get so big? How is it she grew up so fast? Where does time go?
I may have had a little drawing fun of my own...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Speechless Sunday

For Mother's Day, Steve bought me the ice cream maker attachment for my new Kitchen Aid. And it just arrived a few days ago. Therefore, visions of ice cream and frozen yogurt and popsicles and days-so-hot-that's-all-you-eat dance in my head.  
Via a dead link to Tumblr on Pinterest.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Streamlining Saturdays: Project Simplify

I've been inspired to do a real, heartless, deep spring cleaning. The kind that gets rid of everything that "might be useful someday" or is sentimental because someone gave it to me a long time ago.

Why? you may ask. Well, I'll tell you.

First off, I saw this post by Sherry of Young House Love. The whole thing is about how they simplify their lives by sticking to the same basic cleaners, detergents and soaps all the time and so on and so forth.... but what really knocked my socks off (and into the garbage because they're hole-y and have got to go), was the description of Sherry's makeup bag that has... get ready for it... 7 things in it. That's right. 7. My makeup bag... more like 700 things. Ok, that's an exaggeration. I promise. But it got me thinking about how many things I keep just because I might need them one day or because of this or that.

And then it hit me. I'm a grown woman. With enough money to go buy myself some new mascara if I need it. So there is no reason to horde old mascaras in case of emergency. It's not like I'm preparing for a Y2K-esque panic or anything... I just horde things unnecessarily.

After some paring down, my make up bag now looks like this:

A little better than before, although I didn't take a picture of that. Just a few things:
  1. Mary Kay Foundation Primer
  2. MK Liquid Foundation
  3. MK Powder Foundation
  4. MK Bronzer
  5. MK Eye Shadow Quartet in Amethyst (old)
  6. Bare Minerals Eye Shadow
  7. MK Satin Lips Lip Balm
  8. Eye Shadow Brush by Mary Kay
  9. Powder Brush by Mary Kay
  10. Sephora Black Waterproof Eyeliner
  11. Sephora Lip Gloss
  12. Tweezers by La Cross
  13. Eyelash Curler
  14. Voluminous False Fibers Mascara by L'Oreal 
  15. Sponge
So I may have twice as much stuff as Sherry does... but I think I'm doing a lot better.  Admitedly, I'm a little "in to" makeup. My mom has been a consultant with Mary Kay for a long time... so I get a good discount and love trying new products. My current loves are the Foundation Primer (which is so great for helping your makeup last throughout the day) and as always, the Satin Lips Lip Balm - I will never use anything else for my lips. It's the best!

But tell me... do I use just tons more makeup than anyone else? The secret is, this isn't even all of my makeup. This is just the basic stuff. Although I did get rid of a lot of the rest, I still have extra eye shadows and blushes for special occasions. And, when I'm at home, I use more brushes. This is really my very basic makeup bag that I could grab in a hurry. Do I need help? Or is this normal?

Either way, I really have cleaned out a lot and gotten down to the very basics (at least for me). The rest of my bathroom countertop looks like this:
  1. Mary Kay Time Wise Cleanser and Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin
  2. Dreams Unlimited perfume by  The Body Shop
  3. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Hairspray
  4. Bumble and Bumble Does It All Hairspray
  5. Cotton balls, duh
  6. A clock, because, well, without one I would never, ever be on time anywhere
So yeah. That was step one. Getting the makeup/body products hording under control. I'm pretty happy with how cleaned out things have become. And then I tackled the clothes. More on that next Saturday. Until then, want to join me in the simplification process? It feels absolutely divine!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The One With the Vegan Brownies

One thing I'm discovering about veganism - it doesn't mean no fun. There are plenty of vegan things that taste yummy. Really yummy. I even tried my hand at some dessert.
Vegan Brownies

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly oil a 9x13 inch Pyrex pan. 
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add sugar, water, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Use a mixer on medium to combine completely.
Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a fork inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

I found this recipe that inspired the whole thing. But I made some adjustments to improve the taste. These are very rich, which is a good thing. :-)

Check out the "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I shared this!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The One With the Tasty Tostadas

One of the things I really like about eating vegan is how fresh and summery it feels. It's especially nice now that we've (finally) been having some nice weather. So I went a little bold with this one and put some pineapple (and some other things) on a tostada, just for the fun of it.
Tasty Tostadas
(Serves 4-6)
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans or Cuban Black Beans, drained and warmed
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Pineapple, diced
  • Mango, diced
  • Red onion, diced small (not pictured because I forgot until after the picture was taken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Corn tortillas
  • Olive oil
First: make your tostadas. Place  a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Wait 3-4 minutes until your oil is very hot. Place a tortilla in the oil and allow it to bubble up. Flip the tortilla onto its other side. Previously, when we made the tacos, we put the tortilla in the oil for just a few seconds to soften it up. But for a tostada, you want to allow it to crisp up and brown slightly. Once one side is slightly browned, turn it back over so it can get crispy on the other side. Remove from pan, allowing excess oil to drip off. Continue with the rest of the tortillas, adding oil as necessary.
Once your tortillas have cooled, assemble the tostadas: begin with a layer of rice, then black beans. Top as desired with lettuce, tomatoes, pineapple, mango and red onion. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on there for flavor. And enjoy!

But be wary: the pineapple is not for the faint of heart. If you're not quite bold enough to try the pineapple, just mango will suffice quite nicely.

I'm thinking that next time I want to make something similar to this... only in a pita! And with a honey mustard sauce. Yep... that's going to happen. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The One With the Quinoa and Veggie Salad

More deliciousness in the vegan department! I'm not missing meat at all these days. Butter and sour cream, perhaps... but not meat!

This salad is wonderfully fresh and very filling. It has a nice, smooth flavor that is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It was inspired by Maria's  (of Two Peas and their Pod) Black Quinoa Salad. If you are looking for Vegan or Vegetarian meal ideas, they have a pretty good arsenal. And everything I've tried of theirs is very, very good.   
Quinoa and Veggie Salad
(Serves 4)
  • 1 cup dry red quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 green onions, diced small
  • 1 avacado, diced medium
  • 2 tomatoes, diced medium
  • A small handful of cilantro, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil. Let boil for five minutes and then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until broth is all absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, chop your veggies and have them ready to add to the quinoa.
Make your dressing: in a small bowl combine lime juice, olive oil and cumin. Whisk together and then drizzle over your salad. Toss with a fork to coat evenly and enjoy!

Check out the "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I shared this!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The One With the Vegan Tacos

We've been working on eating better these past few weeks. I've been trying vegan and vegetarian meals as often as possible.
Part of this was spurred on by the rising cost of meat... and the fact that I am cheap, cheap, cheap. I just can't bring myself to spend over $8 on chicken just for one meal. Combine that with the documentary Forks over Knives, and it's enough to try something new. And let me say, I am really enjoying trying so many new things in the kitchen. I love eating so fresh, and saving money, too!
Vegan Tacos
(Makes 6)
  • 1 1/2 cups Cuban Black Beans or 1 can black beans, drained and heated
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 1/2 red onion, diced medium
  • 4 small red and orange peppers, diced small
  • Small pinch of cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 4-6 Tablespoons olive oil
I used Cuban Black Beans because I had some leftover, and they were delicious. But regular black beans would work well, too.  Dice red onion and peppers. Take a small pinch of cilantro and chop it up nice and tiny. In a small bowl, pour the lime juice over the brown rice and fluff with a fork.
Pour 3 tablespoons of oil into a medium, shallow skillet over medium-high heat. Allow to heat for about 3 minutes so that the oil is really hot. Place one tortilla in the oil. It should bubble up immediately if your oil is hot enough. Using tongs, turn the tortilla over to fry the other side. Flip the tortilla back and forth 3-4 times. Remove from pan, allowing excess oil to drip off and set aside. The goal is to soften the tortillas and enhance the flavor a bit for the tacos. If you run low on oil, add more, one tablespoon at a time. Again, you don't need anything deep-fried. Just softened and yummified a bit.
Once the tortillas are cool enough to handle, assemble your tacos. Begin with a layer of 1/4 cup black beans, then 1/4 rice with lime per taco. Add the veggies as desired and top with a sprinkle of cilantro.
These are really delicious and surprisingly filling. Such a wonderful meat-less option that will keep everyone happy!
To make it baby-friendly, simply add all the ingredients in a little bowl and tear a tortilla into small pieces. Stir together and let them eat it with their fingers or a fork, depending on how advanced they are.

Check out the "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I shared this! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The One With the Photo of the Day (May 14th)

I don't know why. But that tomato just struck me as really pretty, so I had to take a picture of it. This was while I was preparing vegan Yumm Bowls (just forget the chicken... certainly not necessary) with my new favorite ingredient: celery. Celery is so awesome because it isn't extremely flavorful (therefore, there are usually no strong objectives to it), but it is nice and crunchy. I think that crunch adds a very nice element to vegan and vegetarian meals especially. And, in Yumm Bowls, it's a nice alternative to tortilla chips.

This week I'll be sharing all vegan recipes with you! I've been so excited about trying new recipes and trying to figure out how to cut meat out of our diets. Now, I'm not a full fledged vegan (I love things made with eggs and butter far too much for that), but I have decided that I would at least like to know how to cook meals without meat in them. Is it just me? Or does it seem like it's been drilled into our heads that we much have meat at dinner if we want protein and flavor?

I'm learning that is far from the truth. Some of the most delicious meals I've made recently have had no meat, but plenty of protein and flavor. They're actually so good that I am starting to prefer dinner to dessert lately. WHAAAT? I know... crazy. But don't worry. I still have a plenty big sweet tooth to satisfy, and therefore plenty of sugary sweet recipes coming your way. But for this week, a brief hiatus from sweets and an adventure into the world of fresh, mouth watering vegetables.

If you are like me and have been intimidated by the idea of going meat-less, I would really suggest trying some of these recipes. They are super basic, really quick and easy and surprisingly good. Really good. I've even had my husband admit that he's a fan. And believe me, when I first informed him of my plan he was not too excited about it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Speechless Sunday

I thought this quote was especially appropriate for mother's day... since that's what mothers do, you know?
But mostly, as a mother, and as a person, this is who I want to be.
Via a dead link on Pinterest.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The One With the Timeline Cover Photos

As you probably know, Facebook made it's official, non-negotiable switch to Timeline recently. This snazzy new get-up includes a cover photo in addition to a profile picture. Well, I may have gotten a bit carried away the other day when I figured out how to make cool cover photos using a Photoshop template...

It all started with the page for my father-in-law, who is running for Commissioner in Skamania County, Washington. I've done the rest of his ads for him (yard signs mostly). But when he added a Facebook page I just couldn't bear for it to look too boring. So I requested admin privileges (got 'em!) and then did a little research to find out the easiest way to create an awesome cover photo. And voila!
Is it the coolest thing ever to be created? Certainly not. But it's an election campaign. We're going for basic and bold here, people. But I do think it turned out well.

A few years ago I also designed the logo for Carson General Store (another enterprise in the Waters' family businesses). I thought it was about time to update their sad-looking little Facebook page. (The sad-looking part is entirely mea culpa.)
I might want to improve this one in the future, but for now, I think it nicely incorporates the logo that I designed way back when.

And so then I couldn't stop there and decided to make my own timeline cover a little extra special. And combine my affinity for instagram. Did you know I only ever use the same filter? You can go ahead and assume I have OCD. I very well might. But! I do think it made the timeline look pretty cool... if I do say so myself:
I definitely like that it allows me to showcase more of my favorite instagrams.

And since I still had the cover photo bug (what the heck is wrong with me?), I decided not only to create a cover photo for this blog, but a whole Facebook page as well! (And just my luck, Facebook is going to nix the timeline in about 3.5 hours...)
So, now you can like The One With the Cupcakes on Facebook to get updates about posts and such on your news feed. Just think of all the time you'll save coming straight to the blog! It will be so much easier for you to show posts to your friends! And to think that if I hadn't discovered timeline covers you might have to do that anyway.

And if you're interested in creating your own unique timeline cover photo, here's how:
  • Cover photos are 851 x 315 pixels, so open up a file that size in Photoshop and be on your way
  • Check out these AWESOME cover photos people have made. Talk about cool...
  • At the bottom of the article linked above you can find a template for Photoshop that shows you exactly how the cover photo and profile picture interact so you can download it to make sure your picture and cover are aligned correctly if you plan on incorporating the two. Saves a lot of time instead of you having to upload a bunch of trials and errors. 
If you use this info to make your own awesome Facebook timeline, I'd love for you to show me a link. As you can see, I'm mildly obssesed with these today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The One With the Photo of the Day (May 10th)

While Ellie was potty training last week, this little smooch started walking! It's been so fun to see her tentatively step around the house. And it's about time. She is packing on the pounds, making it quite difficult for me to carry her around everywhere.
It's been an eventful few weeks. O what babies will do for a little attention when they think their sibling is getting more than them....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The One With the Photo of the Day (May 9th)

If little naked baby butts aren't the cutest things in the world... I just don't know what is.
This little smooch is officially potty trained! There are still a few accidents every now and then. But, other than that, we're home free. And it's wonderful. Although it did take about a week of naked butts... I wasn't too sad about that part.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The One With the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, I love salted caramel. And I love chocolate chip cookies. When I saw Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod combine them, I thought that was pure genius. So I thought I'd give it a try myself... only in cookie form, and made with homemade caramel sauce.

So here you go: the beauties themselves.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • Homemade caramel sauce
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling
First things first: make your caramel sauce. While it is cooling, make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Sift together with a fork. Set aside.
With a mixer, combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add vanilla. Add in eggs, one at a time. Carefully incorporate the flour mixture, beating on low. Once fully combined, add the chocolate chips.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Take a tablespoon of cookie dough and roll it into a ball, like you normally would when making cookies. Then, press your thumb into the center, creating a little caveat to pour the caramel into. Pour about a tablespoon of caramel into the little ditch, trying not to spill over the sides. Sprinkle sea salt over the caramel.
Finally, make a small little disc of cookie dough and place it over the caramel ditch to create a little lid that contains the caramel and salt.
Don't place your cookie dough balls too close together, as these babies tend to expand quite a bit. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

You could also make these as a cookie bar. Make as directed above, but instead of rolling into cookies,  and then separate your dough in half. Grease the bottom of a 7 x 11 in Pyrex pan. Press half of your cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. Spread a layer of caramel on top. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cover with the other half of your cookie dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

And enjoy! Seriously. They're good.
 Check out my "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I linked this bad boy up.

The One With the Homemade Caramel Sauce

Holy crapoli. This stuff is good. And really easy to make. I used it in a recipe that I'll share tomorrow, but this would also be crazy good over some ice cream.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
First of all, prepare all your ingredients and have them standing by, measured out and ready to use. In a heavy saucepan, combine the water and sugar over medium high heat. Allow the sugar and water to come to a boil, stirring very little, if at all. Allow the mixture to boil, undisturbed for 8-10 minutes.Watch the sugar as it melts. When the mixture becomes an amber color, quickly stir in the butter, being careful not to be splattered by the boiling. Remove from heat and count to five, then carefully stir in the whipping cream until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool for a half hour before pouring into the container of your choice. Store in the refrigerator and reheat before use.

It's yummy. And pretty simple. Therefore, I love it!

Check out my "Linked and Featured" tab to see where I linked this up. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Speechless Sunday

I went to a real live tea party yesterday to help prepare my friend, Betsy, for the birth of her baby girl later this month. It was very fun.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Last One from Portland Saturday Market

Last one with the pictures from our photo tour, promise.
But, I saved some of the best (in my opinion) for last, just for you. These are of the street performers. I'm envious of their talents. First, we have the silver balls guy. Great name, I know.

And then there's the totally rad hula hoop girl. 
So I may have fallen a bit short of the whole journalistic style's rule of three shots, at least with the hula hoop girl... but I still like these ones.
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