Hello, March! {More Brunch + Zucchini Cake}

1 Mar

So far in 2013, I am keeping up the brunch portion of my “doing what you do” resolution pretty well! Adam and I had a few people over for a leisurely Sunday brunch last week and, as usual, it was so wonderful to catch up over my favorite meal of the day! This time it was mostly former co-workers of mine and their significant others, so there was plenty of reminiscing about our good old audit days.

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I made a couple of the standards from my B&B days: pineapple cream cheese French toast and sausage balls {if you click on this recipe link, please note that I chose to pass on the mayonnaise dipping sauce … maybe I’m not a true Southerner at heart, but seriously, Paula?  Mayonnaise dipping sauce for sausage?}.

I tried one new recipe this go round: Martha Stewart’s Zucchini Bundt Cake. I was trying to avoid the overly sweet with this dish, so I skipped the orange glaze and candied zucchini. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as is and found it to be perfectly delicious! A nice balance of savory and sweet, with warm, spicy undertones courtesy of cinnamon, anise seeds, and cardamom. Also worth noting, this cake came out of the pan easily, which is always a plus when making a bundt cake. I enjoyed the leftovers at work and would definitely make this one again!


The anticipation of spring was definitely on my mind as I put together the centerpiece. I love the bright blues and yellows together and nothing says “spring is coming” like daffodils! The table runner was a lucky {and super cheap!} find on the remnant table at G Street Fabrics that I pressed the night before to look like it had actually been hemmed {which would have involved such complex tasks as changing the thread on my sewing machine!}. I was so excited to find something as on-trend as a bold chevron print on the sale table! I’ve had the teapot for years and loved the idea of re-purposing it as a vase. The tiny teacups were the perfect size for floating tea-lights and added a nice glow to the table {not to mention a few more pops of blue}.

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Cutting things down to size {Note cards for spring}

21 Feb

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for spring. And what better way to prepare than to pull out some springy colors and play around! I often find that when I have a few spare minutes and feel like crafting, it takes some time to get the creative juices flowing. And usually, I don’t have all day to spend on crafts {shocking, I know}, so I end up putting my supplies away without much to show for it!

This time I tried a different tactic – I started with A2-sized note cards {4.25′” x 5.5″} and then I cut them all in half {down to 4.25″ x 2.75″}. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s amazing what a difference it makes to shrink the size of your blank canvas! Suddenly, my task wasn’t quite as daunting and lots of little ideas started popping into my head. It’s probably a good thing to remember when tackling any project – if you’re staring at blank paper for very long, maybe you just haven’t cut your tasks into small enough pieces!

Here are some of my favorites from the night – these little cards are not really big enough for mailing, but are perfect for gifts and hand-delivered wishes. Enjoy!

photo 1 (9)They didn’t have a bass stamp, but this one is for the hubs. While he’s out making music, I’m home making cards :)

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I had in mind all of the beautiful women I’m lucky enough to call family when I made this one. Wishing I was sharing a pot of tea with them right now!

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Heat Embossing Tutorial {Wine & Chocolate Party Invitations}

11 Feb

You may remember the wine and chocolate party invitations from the party celebrating my parents’ 60th birthdays last summer. I made them using one of my favorite rubber stamping techniques: heat embossing! With the right tools, heat embossing is a great way to add a little more oomph to your next stamped project by turning a flat image into a professional-looking raised image! I’d like to share a few tips for getting great results every time. All you need is:

  • Heat embossing tool {clip a 40% coupon from Michael’s to pick one up on the cheap}
  • Embossing powder {I love opaque white on bright paper}
  • Your favorite rubber stamps
  • Inkpad {a slower-drying ink is best for heat embossing}
  • Sturdy paper like card stock
  • Scrap paper to cover your work area

invitationStart by putting some scrap paper down over your work area. Heat embossing powder can be messy, but you don’t need anything fancier than a piece of paper to keep your table clean. Then stamp your image. I used VersaMark watermark ink for this project because it’s slow to dry and doesn’t leave any pigment behind.

IMG_3465Make sure you put the embossing powder down quickly before your ink has a chance to dry. Cover the image completely – don’t be afraid to just dump it out. You may be tempted to go easy to save powder, but it’s really easy to get the powder back in the jar. I’ve been using the same jar of opaque white for ages {including about 50 of these invitations with three embossed images each} and I’ve hardly made a dent.


Shake off the excess powder over your scrap paper, tapping the paper lightly on your work surface. Give the back of your paper a good “thwack” to get any stubborn bits of powder off. When you’re done, you should only have powder on your stamped image.

IMG_3468Make a funnel with your scrap paper and let the excess powder slide right back into the jar.


Turn your heat embossing tool on and hold it a few inches away from your stamped image. Embossing powder is made of wax, so all you’re doing is melting the wax. Slowly move the tool around the image, moving on when the powder becomes shiny – if you leave it over the image much longer, it will start to look a little less crisp.


That’s really it! Your embossed image will be cool and dry in seconds! Repeat as necessary :)



Love is in the mail {DIY Valentines}

7 Feb

With Valentine’s Day a week away, there’s still time to get those handmade valentines in the mail to your special someones! I recently jumped on the seemingly endless mason jar craze after making a post-work Paper Source run for some new stamps. Here are some of my favorites after playing around a bit with my new stamps and other supplies I already had on-hand. I really wish I could bottle up my love and send it across the miles this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!






New Year’s Resolutions {More brunches, please!}

23 Jan

Happy New Year! It’s been awhile! One of my new year’s resolutions is to get back to the things I love doing. Back to the little things that put a smile on my face. That’s not to say I haven’t been smiling enough lately … just more of an acknowledgment that far too often I have let excuses like being tired or burnt out suck me onto the sofa for things like the “What would B.D. do? Marathon” of Law & Order: SVU. Yeah, that’s right … as in B.D. Wong, who played the psychiatrist … seriously, USA will make a marathon out of anything!

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I digress. I had this “epiphany” while dancing on a chair on New Year’s Eve. There was a complete stranger next to me who seemed a little too pensive for someone dancing on a chair, so I asked her what was wrong. As it turned out, she was feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of a new year and all of the lofty resolutions that come with it. And who wouldn’t be? I mean it’s great to take some time to reflect on the things we could be doing a little better and use the opportunity of changing the calendar to make some changes; but it’s like we expect we’ll be a whole new person on January 1 {or January 2 for those you who might have done a little more than dance on a chair to ring in the new year}.

So long story slightly shorter, I turned to this girl and said “2013: The year of just doing what you do.” Whatever that means … haha. Luckily, we’d both had a little champagne and that made perfect sense to her … she even high-fived me! So while you may or may not want to take advice from me at a bar, these words began to resonate with me over the first weeks of January. And I decided that I need to just do what I do. And a few of those things that I do are baking, crafting, hosting brunches, and writing about these things here!

So this past weekend, Adam and I hosted several friends for Sunday brunch. It had been far too long and it felt wonderful! Here are some of my favorites from the day. I hope 2013 is a year full of just doing what you do! Enjoy!

I tried one new recipe, and was happy with the way it turned out. I pretty much followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake as it was written and only found that it took closer to 55-60 minutes to cook through in my pan/oven.

photo 1 (8)I also decided to have yogurt parfait bar, which is a a fancy way of saying I put granola, fruit, and yogurt out on the counter for people to serve themselves! It seemed to be pretty well-received and was a fresh, super easy way to supplement the spread without tying up the oven.

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I was also more than a little excited about the decorations that actually made it to the table rather than just being imagined and put off until it was too late to do anything about! I just got some simple, inexpensive flowers at the grocery store and put them together  with things I already had around the house. The centerpiece was a cast iron skillet with candles and flowers on a stack of books. I overestimated the amount of baby’s breath I needed, so I ended up using some bud vases to complete the table-scape. For some reason the white, delicate flowers contrasted with the heavy, black skillet  just seemed to say winter brunch perfectly to me!

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And Zorro pretty much sums up how I felt once the kitchen was clean!

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Healing Pie {Caramel Apple Cherry Pie}

11 Nov

Sometimes you just need to bake a pie – even if you don’t really know how to make one. So was the case with me a couple of weeks ago. After suffering one of the biggest disappointments of my life to date {which probably speaks more to the charmed nature of my life, rather than to the gravity of the situation}, I had been spending more than my fair share of time on the couch. And even though I knew I needed that time to rest {or at least my mom said I did}, I was getting a little antsy by the end of a couple of days!

Thank goodness my new Better Homes and Gardens came somewhere in that time period and I got inspired to make the delicious-looking Caramel Apple Cherry Pie featured on the cover. The act of baking this pie would become symbolic of so many things in my life right now, not the least of which is the promise of the beautiful baby that Adam and I will someday hold in our arms even though this time around ended in miscarriage.

Please note, I did NOT make this beautiful creation :)

So mere hours after having received the magazine in the mail, my sweet husband was picking up the ingredients to make a caramel apple cherry pie. The act of pulling out all of my beloved baking ingredients and dishes felt like therapy.  It reminded me of all the things I love about baking that I had been missing lately, as work and life got in the way. Turning up my favorite music in the kitchen {it was most likely The Weepies on this and most days}. Enjoying time to just be alone with my thoughts while still feeling productive. The anticipation that comes with trying something new. Filling the house with sweet smells and anxiously awaiting the return of my favorite taste-tester.

The makings of a pie crust.

Just by nature of the fact that I was up and in the kitchen, I could feel myself returning to normal. And the simple act of doing these familiar things continued me right along the path to healing.

So that all sounds great, right?  Well, here’s the thing – this pie is a lot of work! And it didn’t exactly turn out like the pictures. I had a lot of trouble with the crust, which kept wanting to sadly sink down into itself {metaphor for my life much?}.

The crust is still looking pretty promising at this point.

When Adam left for a movie, I was desperately trying to salvage the pie crust while stirring what felt like 17 pots and pans on the stove … there was the cranberry/cherry compote, the apple mixture … okay, I guess that’s only two, but with all of the prep bowls, pots, and pans; there was quite a bit of clean-up to be done.

Starting the cranberry/cherry compote.

Yummy pie filling!

When it was all said and done, I had a finished pie. It wasn’t pretty {even Instagram couldn’t hide its flaws!}, but it was tasty. I think I will have a better technique the next time I make a pie crust, which may or may not include buying a ready-made crust at the grocery store! I probably won’t make this particular pie again {yumminess to effort ratio was not quite high enough}, but at the end of the day, I was sharing the fruits of my afternoon with the one I love.

And all of this reminded me that, no matter how much you plan, or how hard you work; life doesn’t always turn out like the picture you have in your head. But you just have to keep going, love people well, and believe in the promise of what’s to come. And some days that promise is that of a much more successful day in the kitchen than this one; and others, it is the promise that one day Adam and I will have the beautiful baby we had already started to picture in our arms.

Yep – sad-looking pie!

Crafting through the Storm {Washi Tape & Hurricane Sandy}

29 Oct

Not much to say tonight. Adam and I drove back from a wonderful, action-packed trip to New York and New Jersey only to learn that my office would be closed for the next two days and that we would be nervously awaiting Hurricane Sandy’s landfall.

So far we still have power {thank goodness and knock on wood}, but it has definitely been flickering a bit over the last couple of hours. So as I sit here listening to the wind howling and the trees creaking, I’ll spare you all of the “blah blah blah” and just post a few pics of some of the cards I’ve been working on today and over the last couple of weeks. In case you can’t tell, I’m kind of obsessed with washi tape!

So enjoy and, for all of you on the East Coast, please stay safe!

Because I have such amazing family and friends, I’ve been in need of quite a few thank you cards these days:

And it’s always good to have a birthday card on hand …

… and you never know when you’ll just need a blank, everyday card.


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