Monday, April 30, 2012

Framed Photos Matted with Burlap

My in-laws have a photo gallery wall in their stairwell that I have always loved!  Their life and ministry have taken them all over the world, so they have various pictures displayed of special places they've been.  Bradley and I haven't been able to travel extensively together in our almost 6 years of marriage, but we have traveled a little, so we decided to frame some of our favorite 'spots' and begin working on our stairwell.

I had some frames that a friend had given me, so I simply cut some burlap to the size of the frame, placed the picture in the center, and hung them on the wall!  Such a simple project that only cost me the price of printing out the pictures.

Photo from our honeymoon of Mayan Ruins in Belize

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA

Highway 1 in California {family vacation 2010}
If you don't have burlap lying around your house {like I do} it really isn't that expensive.  You can purchase it in most fabric stores--you'll find it with other utility fabrics.  I like the texture that it adds to the photos.  Right now I'm keeping the frames in their original stain, but I'd eventually like to paint them an heirloom white.  We have yet to paint the stairwell, foyer and hallways {mostly because of the high ceilings} so until then I am living with builder grade flat paint, which is a great collector for toddler fingerprints!

What simple projects have you completed lately?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mason's Debut

Since today was the EDD {Estimated Due Date} for little Mason, I thought it only appropriate to share his birth story with you.  I'm so thankful he was two weeks early!  Isabella was 8 days early {you can read her birth story here} and Mallory was 2 days late {find her birth story here}, so I really had nothing to go by with this pregnancy.  Here's how the day began...

April 13:
I woke up pretty early and felt a few contractions as I was getting ready for the day, nothing horrible, but they were noticeable.  Bradley got home from work around 6AM, and I mentioned that maybe today would be the day.  He climbed into bed and I went about my day as normal.  I thought it would be a great day for a baby, but tried as much as possible to go on as though nothing was going to happen.  I didn't want to just sit around waiting for the baby to be born and miss out on life!  The girls and I went grocery shopping, we made banana bread, and I painted a few projects in the garage {posts coming soon on those projects!}.  By the time I had one coat of paint on a chalkboard I'm making, I began to keep track of the contractions I was having.

11AM - The contractions started coming pretty regularly, about every 3 minutes, but this happened for several weeks with Mallory, so I just kept doing housework.  After an hour of this, and having to stand still during contractions, I decided to pack my bag for the hospital.  I wanted to allow Bradley some more time to sleep so he would be rested, should this be the real deal, so I waited until about 12:30 to wake him up and tell him what was happening.  He got ready pretty quickly, put on his 'birthing shirt' {he has worn the same button-down shirt for all the births of our children}, and then we started calling some friends to see who could watch the girls.  This was the only day/time frame that I hadn't really lined up any childcare!  Thankfully, our friends were willing to keep the girls, so we headed out to the hospital.

1:30PM - The girls were dropped off and we were on our way!  I really had no idea what to expect, but I was definitely uncomfortable.

2PM - Arrived at the hospital, told the nurses what was going on and was desperately hoping that I truly was in labor!  I'd had contractions every 3-5 minutes for the past 3 hours at this point.  I got into the lovely hospital gown {who invented those ugly things?!} and they hooked me up to the monitors.  Right away I could see the contractions coming pretty strongly and spiking really high on the charts.  The nurse checked me...I was only at 2 centimeters!!  They wouldn't keep me unless I was 4 centimeters dilated, so they had me drink lots of water and continued to monitor me for another hour.

3:30PM - Contractions were still coming just as regularly, but when they checked me again, I was still only 2 centimeters.  I KNEW I was in labor, though; I've done this twice before, so I could tell this was the real deal.  You can't convince the medical staff of that, though, especially when you're body isn't producing anything.  They chatted with the DR and meanwhile, my contractions started getting worse.  Worse like how I felt when laboring with Mallory dilated at 9 centimeters.

4 PM {ish}- They couldn't keep me any longer, so recommended that we go walk around the mall for another hour and then come back.  I was thinking to myself, "There is no way I'm leaving this hospital!  And, there's really no way I'm going to the mall to give birth to this child on an escalator!"  My genius husband requested that they check me one more time before we left.   They agreed and we were all very thankful to find that I was now at 4 centimeters!!  So, I could stay.

5PM - I GOT AN EPIDURAL!!  I am terrified of needles, and really enjoyed my other two labor/deliveries with no pain meds.  But, this time, I seriously felt much more pain earlier on.  I didn't want to know anything about what they were doing to my spine, and I literally almost passed out right after he stuck the needle in me.  Oh my goodness, though, how amazing it is to not feel ANYTHING!  It was cracking me up to watch the monitor and see contractions happening rapidly and strongly, but not even knowing they were going on.  "Better living through chemistry," as my dad would say.

6PM - A new DR was on call, and he came in to introduce himself, and he checked me again.  I was at 7 centimeters at this point, so he broke my water and we just waited.

6:50PM - Checked again and was now at 10!!  My OB/GYN walked in the door as they were giving me this news and I was thrilled!  I have never had my actual DR deliver my babies, so it was very nice to have him present for this one.

7:09 PM - The pushing began.  Let me just tell you that this was the weirdest thing for me.  I didn't know when I was supposed to push, obviously, because I couldn't feel anything, so it was a bit of a challenge.  That was really the only thing I didn't like about having an epidural.

7:28 PM - After a little help with the vacuum, our little BOY made his grand debut!  I wasn't surprised that it was a boy, as I had thought it would be all along, but Bradley was shocked!  I think he was anticipating have a house full of estrogen for the rest of his life!  What joy it brought me to know that my little guy was born, he was healthy, and just perfect.

My placenta took awhile to detach, so the next hour was VERY uncomfortable for me as the DR had to work to get that out.  I'm SO thankful I had the epidural or this part would have been unbearable.  I lost a significant amount of blood during that time, but they were finally successful and I thankfully didn't need any further medical treatment.

I wasn't able to hold Mason until two hours after he was born, and that was hard for me, but when they placed him in my arms, I was rejoicing in another precious little life that God had blessed us with. He is the sweetest baby and has quickly become such a part of our lives.  We look forward to all that God has in store for this little man!

Ready to push!

First breaths 

Meeting his biggest sister

The girls got Mason a stuffed tiger, and named him 'Tiberius'

Meeting his other big sister

Sweet little baby boy

Napping with Granddad

Snuggling with Daddy

Thankful my parents could be here for those first days

Me and my little man

Our growing family

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Henry Mason

Born: April 13

8lb 4oz

This is the first time I've even logged into my blogger account since Friday when I went into labor and then had my little boy.  He is absolutely precious!  We're planning to call him Mason, but that's still up for debate in our home, and we're tossing around things like Henry, Hank, Mason, Mase, so he might get confused!  I'm sticking with Mason, though, so that is how I will most likely refer to him.  I'll share more about his birth story later, and hope to get back to my regular blogging schedule soon. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Apricot Couscous

This recipe is one of those ones that you can whip up in several minutes and it tastes so good you wouldn't even know that it took barely any thought.  {These are the kinds of meals I need to be cooking right now at 38 weeks pregnant!}  I was a bit skeptical because of the cumin and cinnamon combination, but this entire meal was delicious!  I might suggest tossing the chicken with some of the cinnamon/cumin as well as the mushrooms, for some added flavor.  The next time I make this I'm going to try that as the chicken needed a little something more.  My only regret is that I didn't make the amount of mushrooms that it calls for; Bradley and I both were longing for more.

Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Apricot Couscous

1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts {2-2 1/2 pounds}
1 cup whole-wheat or regular couscous
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 400F.  Toss the mushrooms, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste on a rimmed baking sheet.

Rub the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange the chicken skin-side up among the mushrooms.  Roast until the chicken skin is crisp and golden and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165F; 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the couscous with the chopped apricots as the package directs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the chicken to plates.  Serve with mushrooms and couscous.

source:  slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine, March 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Simple Yellow Spring Mantel

My mantel has been a work in progress since I took my Valentine's Day decorations down, somewhere around the middle of March.  I haven't wanted to spend money on decorations for the mantel, mostly because my big projects right now are the girls' bedroom and the nursery.  However, the mantel was looking a bit sad, and seeing that it is now the second week of April, I decided to do something about it.  And, guess what?  It only cost me $1 to spruce up this spot!  Yes, my friends, you can decorate with minimal cost, just be creative {and read magazines for inspiration}.

I saw an idea in my  Better Homes & Gardens magazine, to cover books with spring colored paper to add some color in the decor.  This was a great idea for three reasons:  1) It seriously cost $1 for 5 pieces of paper at Michael's; 2) It took about 5 minutes to complete; 3) It looks pretty good.

A couple weeks ago I saw a tutorial on Kristin's blog for making epsom salt eggs.  I had attempted covering eggs with fabric and mod podge {that was a disaster}, and this idea seemed so much easier.  The girls were able to help and I love how they look.  The silver container was a Goodwill purchase awhile back, for $1, and I just added some spanish moss to make it sort of look like a nest.

After I finished covering the books I started walking around the house, opening cabinets, drawers, closets, trying to find whatever I could to make this whole thing come together.  I knew I had the bird {a Home Goods purchase from last summer}, and I wanted a vase of fresh flowers from the yard.  Upon opening my coat closet I found a moss covered 'W' I had made for the front door last year.  The hot temperatures had melted the glue I'd used to hang the ribbon on it, and I had never repaired it, so it has been sitting in my closet for months.  That, in addition to my covered books, vase of wildflowers, and bird, and I was done!

One of the best parts for me with this mantel is that come summer, if I want to, I only need to take off the eggs/nest and the bird, add something different, and I'll have a summer mantel.  I don't know how having 3 little ones is going to change my life, but I figure the simpler the better right now!

Have you done anything around your house to make it look like spring?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chocolate Malt Filled Cupcakes

This cupcake recipe was born out of some research I did on cream filled cupcakes, combined with a desire to make something up using one of my favorite Easter candies:  Whoppers Robin Eggs.  I offered to bring dessert for our Easter get together yesterday, and it was fun to be able to make something with ingredients I had on hand and a little bit of creativity.  Have lots of Easter candy leftover?  Then, this would be perfect for you to make!  Everyone seemed to enjoy them, and my husband even told me they were the best cupcakes he'd ever had {I hope he wasn't lying, but it's quite possible he exaggerated a bit for his overly emotional pregnant wife}.

I used some pretty standard Betty Crocker recipes for the cake and the icing, and added a bit of a twist for the inside filling.  Hope you enjoy!

Starlight Yellow Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups milk
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs

Heat oven to 350F.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Beat all ingredients together in large mixing bowl on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Pour into cupcake liners, about 1/2 to 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and Malt Filling
6 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
4 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup baking cocoa
6-8 tablespoons milk
1 cup Whoppers Robin eggs candy

Mix powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl with spoon or electric mixer on low speed.  Mix in vanilla and chocolate.  Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable.  If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk.  If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.

Place candy in a food processor and chop until fine crumbs appear.  Place 1/3 of the icing into a small bowl and stir in the chopped candies.  This will be used for the cupcake filling.

To Assemble:

Ideally, you want to have an actual pastry bag with piping attachment for this process, but since I didn't, I used an object that could make a small hole in the cupcake, and placed the frosting in a ziploc bag with a tiny hole in one corner.  It worked fine.

Make a small hole in the top of each cupcake:

Snip a little corner of the ziploc bag for the icing to squeeze through:

Squeeze into the hole {this will work, just be patient with it; you only need a small amount of filling in each one}:

In another ziploc bag, place some of the plain chocolate frosting.  Make a bigger hole in one bottom corner of the bag and pipe on the top of the cupcake, starting on the outside of the cupcake and working in, in a swirling motion until the cupcake is covered.

Place a single Whopper egg on the top and you are finished!

cake and chocolate buttercream frosting source:  Betty Crocker's Cookbook

Linking to:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Inspiration for Easter Table Decor

It's hard to believe that Easter weekend is already here!  We're not planning much this year, since I'm now full-term with my pregnancy, and trying to stay close to home, but it's still fun to look at all of the great ideas for Easter decorations that are floating around the internet.  I normally make a big Easter dinner, but I'm not even doing that this year!  We're getting together with our home group from church for a Low Country Boil {yum!} and that is just fine with me!  For those of you who may be entertaining and looking for some last-minute inspiration for your table, here are a few inspiring photos for you.








If you are decorating a table for Easter this year, I'd love to see what you create!  Send me your photos {if you aren't a blogger}, or a link to your blog post, and I'll do some features next week!  

Email me at:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Ice Cream has always been one of my favorite desserts.  In fact, I remember as a young girl laying in bed, hearing the clanking of metal spoons on glass bowls, getting angry that my parents were enjoying a nice bowl of Breyer's without me!  We registered for an ice cream maker when we got married, and we've thoroughly enjoyed it through the years.  With summer quickly approaching {maybe not for all of you, but here in GA, it's been in the high 80's!}, I thought it only appropriate to try out a new ice cream flavor.  Key Lime Pie is one of my favorite pie flavors, so this recipe sounded perfect to me.  It is quite tart, so I recommend eating it with some graham crackers, shortbread, or a piece of bitter chocolate.  The texture is really creamy and overall it's delightful.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk {a little more than 1 can}
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup lime juice {I used key lime juice}

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until cold.  Pour into ice cream maker and mix for 12-15 minutes.  {Mine was still quite runny at this point, but it froze well, so don't be alarmed if yours does the same}.  Transfer to another container, cover, and freeze for several hours.  

source:  slightly adapted from Food Network

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Brown Paper Package that Made my Day

This arrived on my doorstep the other day and I am SO excited about its contents!!

I've been waiting about a year to use this product, and with some Christmas and birthday money combined, I was able to finally purchase some....

That's right, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint!  I've read many posts about people using this paint and really loving it, so it's my turn to have a try at it now.  My last big project for the nursery is to paint a dresser, and I'm hopeful that  using this paint will help it to go smoothly and quickly.  Stay tuned for my personal review of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.