Friday, February 3, 2012

Humbled by Home Renovation

Have you ever been searching for a specific item in your home so hard and so long that you begin to convince yourself that you can turn something you have found into the perfect solution?  This happened to me recently and I just have to share.  After Bryan and I got married we went through the process of selling pretty much everything we owned on Craigslist so we could start over and pick new things for our new house together!  Sounds like fun, right? was!  The only problem is that I could not find 2 accent chairs for our place that were both comfortable (for B) and looked great (for me). 

One Saturday we were out chair hunting and stumbled upon a furniture store that was going out of business.  There, in the lobby when we entered were two chairs.  Better yet, they were discounted by over HALF of their original price!  The only downfall was that the chairs were slightly....well...hideous.  After the months of searching online, at every store in the city, on Craigslist and everywhere else I could think of I was convinced that I had to make something work and THIS WAS IT!!! 

After convincing Bryan that I could "totally reupholster"...with a questioning look from the sales lady...we settled up and took home the chairs.

When we brought them inside we noticed right away that they were way bigger in our small living room than they were in the enormous sales warehouse.  They made our couches look tiny!  They were actually taller than our couch and didn't even match the aesthetic.  What was I thinking?! 

We had just bought them so I decided to try and make them work and visited a cool fabric store in Atlanta.  After browsing the aisles I realized that it would cost me a lot more to purchase the fabric for this reupholstery project than I had assumed...sigh...another harsh reality.  I left the store with a few samples and came home to research online how to reupholster.  After watching a few videos it was clear that this was going to be more complicated than I imagined...way out of my league!

Still hopeful, I called a reupholstery store to get pricing and the cost was going to be double what we had just paid for the chairs. 

I came out of my office and looked once again at what I thought was once a bargain.

Turned back around into my office and immediately posted them on Craigslist...haha.

Weeks go by, then months.  The price reductions are many and deep.  Finally, I realize that no one is crazy enough to buy these chairs.  We call a furniture donation company to come and pick them up and I must say I have never been so happy to get rid of a piece of furniture before!

Lessons learned:
1)  Avoid furniture store closing sales.
2)  I cannot reupholster.
3)  Measure existing furniture and have measurements with you before purchasing additional pieces.
4)  Never buy something you cannot return.
5)  When even the sales lady looks at you with may want to rethink your purchase.

And here they are folks....

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Superman Birthday Cake!

My nephew celebrated his third birthday party this past weekend and the theme was Superman!  It look a long time to come to the decision and understanding that only one theme could be chosen for the little guy.  I thought I was going to have to pull off a Batman/Superman cake and was totally perplexed about that one until he finally settled on the idea of a Superman party!  It was a really fun event at a kids gym with lots of things to jump on, into and off of...the kids (and adults) had a blast!  My sister made super cute capes for all the kids and had some fun themed treats out to set the theme.  The only request that my nephew had was that the cake be chocolate with chocolate frosting so I used my favorite recipe from and a frosting recipe I came across from  The recipes I used are below:

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 small pkg Jello instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a very large bowl, mix together everything except chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into cake pan of choice (I normally use two 9-inch pie pans). For cooking time, I use the cooking times on the back of the devil’s food cake box as a guide and usually add 10 mins to whatever it says. Then I do the toothpick check, and if it’s not done, I check on it every 5 mins after that. It usually takes around 45 mins for two, 9-inch pie pans.

Read More
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
  •  1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  1. Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
Recipe by Savory Sweet Life - Easy Recipes from an Everyday Home Cook at
Using the above recipes my process went a little something like this:
1. Prep cake and bake first two layers in 2 square pans.
2. Prep frosting while first layers bake.
3. Remove cake from oven, wait 10 mins, release onto cooling racks.
4. Bake the second two layers.
5. More frosting...weeee!!!  The mixer is only so big...not large enough for 4 batches of frosting!
6. Remove cake from oven, wait 10 mins, release onto cooling racks.
7. Cut portion off of first two layers to make Superman shape.
8. Place full sized square cake on wax paper covered cardboard, then frost, second full square, frost.  Here I inserted a few straws into the cake and cut them at the top of the frosting to keep the layers together as I stacked.  
9. Place cut layer on top of stack, frost, next layer, frost...then frost the whole thing!...Like I said...there is always lots of frosting on my birthday cakes!
10. Start decorating!  I printed an image of the Superman logo and set it next to the cake and then applied Sixlets candies (I bought mine at Party City) to the top of the cake to achieve the logo first. 
11. Then I would go around the four sides and follow a pattern of sixlets around and around so it looked like they were angled stripes...I think it turned out super cute!
12.  With the remainder cake (cut from the square layer to make Superman Logo), I attempted to make Cake Balls.  I mixed the cake with frosting and then dropped spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and put it in the freezer for a few minutes.  Then I removed the sheet, rolled the spoonfuls into a ball shape and dipped them in Candy Coating and applied cute deco to jazz it up!
I was so happy that this cake came together and it was a big hit at the party!  I am always holding my breath the whole way driving to the party when have a cake like this on my lap.  I kept telling myself..."it's ok...if he hits a pot hole we can just go to will all be fine..." Haha...luckily we didn't have to make any stops on our way there!
Happy Baking and Happy Superman Birthday to my Super Nephew!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Healthy Eggplant Lasagna

This dish...although it sounds too healthy to be SO yummy!  It seems like I am always looking for a healthy, delicious recipe and this may be my new go to!  I found the recipe online at after hearing about interesting diet guidelines from several friends who are on the Paleo diet.  The pictures below are from my lasagna (Bryan LOVED it by the way...even without noodles) which I think turned out so pretty.  The picture embedded in the recipe below is from Just look at all that cheesy lasagna goodness in my pics...YUM!!!  Let me know what you think!

I Lost My Noodles! Low Carb/South Beach Eggplant Lasagna

By PattiCakeB on February 09, 2004
Photo by Tea Jenny
109 Reviews
  • timer
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hrs 45 mins
  • Servings: 8

About This Recipe

"I was looking for a yummy South Beach recipe to curb my Italian Cravings. I found a vegetarian lasagna recipe using eggplant slices as noodles, substituted my own meat sauce, and voila! A low carb keeper in our home! The eggplant taste is indistinguishable with all of the bold italian flavors, and adds the needed texture of the missing noodles. I've also seen zucchini strips used as the mock noodles. Try it!"


    Mock Noodles

    • 2 large eggplants, peeled, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch noodle-like strips
    • cooking spray ( olive oil spray is best)
    • salt and pepper

    Meat Sauce

    • 1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin or 1 1/2 lbs turkey breast or 1 1/2 lbs Italian sausage
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 3 cloves chopped garlic
    • 1 red peppers, chopped
    • 1 (16 ounce) packages sliced mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons italian seasoning ( or mix of oregano, basil and thyme)
    • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
    • salt and pepper
    • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( if you dare!) (optional)
    • 1 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
    • 1 cup red wine (optional) or 1 cup vodka (optional)
    • 1 (28 ounce) cans tomato sauce ( or large jar sugar free sauce if you can find it)
    • 1 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes ( for less sugar, 3 chopped roma tomatoes)

    Cheese Mixture

    • 2 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
    • 2 eggs


  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cups shredded lowfat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray cookie sheet, arrange eggplant slices and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook slices 5 minutes on each side.
  4. Lower oven temp to 375.
  5. Brown meat, onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  6. Add red pepper and mushrooms, and cook 5 minutes.
  7. Add spinach, tomatoes, spices and wine and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Blend ricotta, egg and onion mixture.
  9. Spread 1/3 of meat sauce in bottom of 9” x 13” glass pan.
  10. Layer ½ eggplant slices, ½ ricotta, 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan.
  11. Repeat.
  12. Add last layer of sauce, then mozzarella and parmesan on top.
  13. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
  14. Remove foil and bake or broil another 5-10 minutes until cheese is browned.
  15. Let it rest 10 minutes before slicing, if you can wait that long!

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 (651 g)
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving           % Daily Value
Calories 449.3
Calories from Fat 187         41%
Total Fat 20.8g                   32%
Saturated Fat 8.5g              42%
Cholesterol 126.3mg           42%
Sugars 12.6 g
Sodium 811.3mg                33%
Total Carbohydrate 33.4g   11%
Dietary Fiber 9.7g              39%
Sugars 12.6 g                     50%
Protein 36.1g                      72%

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Long time no blog!

Ok, sorry it has been so long since I have blogged!  Is it sad to say that I am finally recovered from the holidays and it's almost February?!  Hehe!

We have been busy around the house lately and I wanted to share a few projects!  I finally had a few photos from our wedding printed and used  What a great website!  I was having a hard time finding a way to get prints made for a reasonable price to fit specific frames and this site was perfect.  Very easy and inexpensive!  I printed four 10X13 pics and framed them in our long hallway.  I think it looks great...minimalist, clean, but still pretty...just how I like it!

I tried about 10 times to get this pic to rotate but alas I cannot get it to turn...just tilt your head to the left...yes...that's it! :)

The next project I took on was to make a headboard!  Our bedroom is definitely lacking attention as far as our house goes and it was high time to give our bed an update.  I found an awesome curtain at Cost Plus World Market that I thought would pull the pillow colors and the colors of our IKEA rug all together well.  Bryan and I went to Home Depot and picked up a piece of wood (just inexpensive chip wood...our piece was only $6!).  It works out perfectly there because you can have it cut to exactly the size you that!  Then I went to JoAnn's Fabrics and picked up padding (which was half off...YAY!) and a few buttons.  I brought everything home and laid the curtain out flat on the floor after ironing it.  Next I drilled 3 holes in the wood so I could "sew" the buttons through the backing and ensure that there was a puff of padding around the buttons and also attached two picture hanging thingies to the back.  Then I wrapped the wood with the padding and laid it on top of the curtain...careful to make sure the remaining fabric on either side of the wood was equal so the pattern would not be askew.  Then I used a staple gun to attach the curtain to the wood starting with the short sides first, then the long sides.  Make sure you pull the fabric taught and try to staple in the same place along the edge so the pattern won't get nutty.  Next up is the buttons!  I started in the back and used a needle and thread to go through the hole I previously drilled, pierce the fabric and then attach the button on the front.  I pulled it tight, inserted the need back into the front of the fabric and pulled it back through the hole in the back.  There was pretty much not way to go back to the front after the initial pull so I just made that single attempt very strong.  I attached the thread to the two hanging thingies and a screw that I added just above the hole on the back.  It sounds confusing but it was really somewhat easy!  Last of all is hanging it on the wall and Voila!

I was so proud!
After removing all of our Christmas decor (so sad) our house looked a little barren!  I, of course, was able to remedy this with a trip to IKEA and Home Goods. :) 

Ok...this is going to be a problem...does anyone know how to turn these pics??

I am loving having a home that I can decorate and make changes to!  Our love nest is starting to feel more homey with every trip to Home Depot I make!  My husband is a doll and always willing to help me with my ideas...he's the best!

And what a stud muffin...whew!! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Holiday gifts!

This Christmas brought so many blessings and such an abundance of family time and special moments.  We were in Texas visiting my family this year and just had a wonderful visit!  I was thrilled to also be able to create two Christmas gifts for 'clients' and am posting the images below.  I was excited to do the portrait of one client and her daughter as a gift for her parents and was told they loved their gift!  The beach house drawing was a lot of fun to do as well and was a gift for my sister's in laws who have a new beach house that is currently under construction. Their original beach home was completely destroyed by a hurricane several years ago and so this has been an exciting new venture for them.  They loved it as well and even mentioned to my sister that they would like a similar drawing done of their original beach home so they can hang the drawings side by side...I love this idea!  I hope you like them! Feel free to contact me if you'd like a special drawing or piece of artwork! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Deck the Halls!

We are officially ready for Christmas!  I have decorated the house, the presents are wrapped and our apple cider recipe is perfected!  My sister gave me a great tip on decorating this year that I thought I would share.  At Home Depot if you go to the area outside where the Christmas Trees are you will see a bin of scraps.  They are free and make beautiful decorations for the mantle...and did I mention they are FREE?! :)  I added a few silk poinsettia flowers and other decorations to the mantle, TV stand and our accent wall and I must say the house is full of Christmas cheer!

The mantle is a combination of lights, tree limb scraps, poinsettia leaves and silver pinecone branch.

Our little tree!  We bought this tree the first year we were dating and it has been 'our tree' every Christmas since.  This year I added a few more poinsettia flowers to try and jazz it up a bit!

The TV stand got a little spruce up.

And even Hamburger is ready for Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rylie vs. Red Velvet Cake

My mom makes the most fabulous Red Velvet Cake every year for the holidays.  It is something I always look forward to at Christmas and everyone in our family just loves it!  We were invited to a dinner party recently and I had the idea to bring over my mom's famous cake for dessert...knowing everyone would love it just as much as me!  The recipe is as follows:

Red Velvet Cake

1/2 c Crisco
2 eggs
2 oz red food color
2 c flour
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cocoa
1 c buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda

1. Cream crisco and sugar then add eggs one at a time, beating in between.
2.  Add food coloring and vanilla.
3.  Sift flour and cocoa together, adding alternately with buttermilk, stirring between each addition.
4.  Mix vinegar and soda together then add in and mix all together.
5.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes

Icing:  (This is different than traditional cream cheese but SO yummy!)
1 c Milk
pinch of salt
1 stick margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c flour
1 c sugar
1/2 c crisco

1.  Cook milk and flour in pan over low hear and add a pinch of salt until it thickens like a paste.
2.  Set aside and let cool
3.  Beat sugar, margarine, crisco and vanilla
4.  Add flour mixure to crisco mixture and beat until light and fluffy
5.  Ice cake...enjoy!

Here are a few pics of the steps above that I followed....

All the ingredients you will need...except Milk...I forgot to set that out!

Creaming the crisco and sugar and then....

adding an egg one at a time.

Next, I added food coloring to the mix

and got this beautiful color.

Then I sifted the flour into the mix, added the soda and baked the cake.

I cleaned up the kitchen, fixed myself a Diet Coke and sat on the couch watching a Christmas movie and anxiously awaited the cake to bake!  I was so excited when I heard the timer beep!!  I opened the oven door and low and behold.....!!!!!

*insert sound here* (wah wah wahhhhhhh.....)

Huge failure!  I was so disappointed and totally confused!!

I still insist I followed my mom's directions perfectly  but somehow things did not go as planned!

BIG bummer! 

I am looking forward to heading home for Christmas and getting a private lesson from my mom on how to properly execute the famed Red Velvet Cake!  Stay tuned! 

Since I was unsuccessful at baking the Red Velvet Cake I turned to a cookbook that includes recipes from some of the most delicious restaurants in Atlanta.  One recipe for a cake called, "A Very Good Chocolate Cake" sounded promising and was from a great restaurant, Watershed, so I decided to give it a shot. 

A Very Good Chocolate Cake-Watershed


    For the cake: Butter and flour for pans, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 1 cup hot double-strength brewed coffee, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs, room temperature, 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
    For the frosting: 1 cup heavy cream, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/4 cup double-strength brewed coffee


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
To make the cake: In a bowl, sift together sugar, flour, salt and baking soda; set aside. Stir 4 ounces chocolate into the hot coffee and allow to melt completely. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and blend well. Add the flour mixture in 1/3 increments, stirring well after each addition. Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the frosting: Heat the cream, butter, sugar and salt over low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted and smooth. Add vanilla and coffee; stir until blended. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature and to a spreadable consistency. Frost the top of one layer, top with second layer, then frost the top and sides.
And this was my result:

I was happy to have something to take to our dinner party and it was a BIG hit as well!! :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy December!  I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!  If it was anything like mine your ate WAY too much but enjoyed every single second of it!  For Thanksgiving this year my sisters and I and our families all got together and had a huge spread.  It was pretty funny because initially our plan was to have a very casual day, a simple meal, etc....well that plan totally fell through!  Everyone ended up having to bring their favorite dishes so the meal included all of the following:

Mashed Potatoes
Gravy (white and dark)
Broccoli Casserole
Squash Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Roasted Veggies
Collard Greens
Rolls with Herbed Butter
Green Bean Casserole
Spinach Dip
Macaroni & Cheese
Pumpkin Cake
Chocolate Cream Pie
Key Lime Pie
Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Bites

This cracks me up writing all of this out!  We only fed 5 adults and 2 kids...needless to say we had a TON of leftovers! 

The dish I brought that I was most proud of was Pumpkin Cake.  It turned out SO moist and delicious!  Feel free to check out the recipe below and Happy Baking! :)

Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cake
1 box yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1/2 c. cooking oil
1 c. canned pumpkin
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
4 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Mix all ingredients well until smooth. Bake in a 2 greased and floured pans at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Top with icing and sugared walnuts (I made mine homemade but you can buy them also)
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (adopted from Picky
8 tablespoons softened cream cheese
8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
8 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

To prepare frosting, place butter and cream cheese into a mixing bowl, beating until creamy and smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar until you get the consistency you desire….between 3 and 4 cups. Stir in cinnamon then frost over cake, adding walnuts last!  Enjoy! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stationary for Grandma!

My grandmother is quite a special lady!  I have so many fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table with her and my sisters and her teaching us how to paint.  We usually painted in watercolor and always destroyed her brushes by making our trees by just smashing the brush onto the paper.  She was a good sport, never complaining much about her brushes and encouraged us onward in our creativity.  I remember looking so forward to her taking her special art bag out of her suitcase and showing me what she wanted us to paint.  Those are such special times in my memory.  I am grateful that she spent countless hours with us and found something so special to bond with my sisters and I over every visit. 

I attribute a lot of my love for art to my grandmother.  We are leaving today to visit my grandmother (Bryan's first visit to Grandma's!) and I made a special gift to give her on this visit.  Her mailbox is very unique and was built by my dad and his brother.  It arches out elegantly towards the street from the tree branch it rests on and always serves as a great welcome to her home.

I wanted to make her a unique gift and since she loves beautiful stationary (she has been known to cut and paste them just to reuse a beautiful card...haha) I thought a card with an ink drawing of her special mailbox would do just fine!  I created the drawing first and then printed the cards out with her name on them on cardstock paper and folded them.  I hope she will love her gift and remember our special times sitting around the table painting together each time she takes one out of the box!

See the original drawing here.

Please email me if you would like to have your own personalized stationary...I would love to create it for you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cotton Gin Festival

This past weekend Bryan and I visited the Cotton Gin Festival in Bostwick, GA.  It was a really neat experience to see the cotton growing in the fields and then see it being processed in the cotton gin.  I hope you enjoy a few pictures from our visit!