Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Candle Walls

Over the last few months, it's become apparent to my husband that I have very specific plans for our next residence, aka my dream home. I'm a western girl and I've yet to find a single home in Northeast Ohio that fits my taste. Which inevitably means we'll have to build, of course. "Of course" he mocks. I'm going to spend the next few years trying to convince him that building isn't too much more expensive than buying an existing home and will offer us the abilities to customize the home to our tastes.

While browsing the Internet for a home improvement client of mine I came across Eldorado Stone. More specifically, their CandleWallTM, which combines the best in natural design with the class and  uniqueness I desire. I want friends and family to walk in to our dream home, feel like they've been transported back to Denver, and say, "why didn't I think of that?" all at the same time. I want it to feel like home to me.

For those of you into a sleeker, more polished look. They offer a Coastal Reef version that turns your bathroom into a spa oasis. 

And now you see why Eldorado Stone's CandleWall has been added to my ever increasing "House Wish List".

If you like this design technique, you'll need a relatively big wall that you can fully devote to the transformation. Floor to ceiling works best, whereas the width can vary. Ten feet in between two windows, as seen in the second picture, is perfect. If you have a large wall, imagine the impact!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From the Runway to a Housewife's Closet

Dress by Elie Saab, black mesh pumps by Christian Louboutin.
At a September 2010 event Blake Lively wore this gorgeous Elie Saab dress from her Autumn Winter 2010/2011 Ready to Wear line (dress number 53).

While an Elie Saab dress is typically custom made per client and costs in the thousands, the concept of this dress can be applied to an already created, form fitted dress with some tulle, a sewing machine, and a little bit of talent.

You may not be able to find a lace dress, but a form-fitted black dress will work just as well. Be sure to make it look like it was incorporated into the original dress by sewing black ribbon over the tool.

Keep it simple with little to no jewelry and solid pumps.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Specials

I am the middle of three children and my older sister has Down Syndrome. She was around before I got here and is all I've ever known in terms of sisters. Depending on how much experience you've had with developmentally disabled individuals, you may know that there are varying levels of severity. My sister is very high functioning. She's sharp as a tack and obsessed with wrestling. I always describe her level of awareness with the following story: During an argument between the two of us while we were in high school she turned to me and said, "Give me a break, I have Down Syndrome." Saucy, I know, but it was music to our ears. She gets it.

Last year I came across an online docu-soap series entitled "The Specials", which follows the lives of five mentally handicapped young adults who living in England. With 10 episodes under their belt so far, each about 10 minutes long, you'll see an amazingly truthful glimpse into their very capable lives. Below is Episode #1. I've chosen the subtitled version due to their thick English accents.

For more information on this series, please visit their website at

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baking Tip - Avoiding The Hump

If you've ever baked a cake you've probably experienced the unprofessional hump that forms as the baking progresses. While it doesn't change the taste of the cake, it also doesn't look like something Buddy the Cake Boss would make.

Tip #2
  • The best way to minimize the extent of the hump is to lower the cooking temperature and lengthen the cooking time. If your directions call for baking the cake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 40 minutes, try lowering the temp down to 300/310 degrees and lengthening the time to 55/60 minutes. 
  • This technique won't eliminate all lumps, so I highly recommend buying a cake leveler. You can buy them for under $5 and it really makes a difference if you're trying to sell your cakes. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Favorite Product - Grill Branding Irons

Today's product comes about just in time for the summer grilling season. If your hubby is anything like mine, the only cooking he enjoys is the kind done outside, in front of a grill, as he drinks a beer and multi-tasks with projects around the house. Mine even took a "Grilling Techniques" class. Because apparently there's more to it then flipping halfway through.

You have to realize the main appeal of grilling is its manliness and these Branding Irons step up that masculinity to another level. What's tougher than searing your personalization into a piece of meat? Sort of like marking your territory.

I will, of course, promote any sort of cooking he tries to get involved in. If your goal is similar, I've found the perfect tool. Grill Branding Irons. They come in many styles from single initials to full monograms, classic to western styles. For the sports lover there's even team logos.

I personally went with a Western-styled branding iron from Perfect for Father's Day, B-days, or (if you're like me) general grilling promotion. And I'm not going to lie, since getting married I'm guilty of jumping on the monogram bandwagon like one of those Desperate Housewives.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Today's Funny

Today's funny is brought to you by my mother. Well, sort of. She wasn't actually involved in the making of this video, but she did inform me of it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Salary Of A Mommy

While some might say it's priceless, an informal study conducted by valued a mother's salary at $61,436 a year.

For those of you with husbands who might scoff at that number, here's the breakdown, task by task:

The Mother's Day Index 2011
Mom job
Hours per wk/wks per year
Hourly wage
Wks per year
Annual Mom cost
Cooking14 hrs./52 weeks$9.53 52$6,938
Driving9 hrs./52 weeks$13.43 52$6,285
Helping with homework10 hrs./40 weeks$17.85 40$7,140
Taking care of the kids40 hrs./52 weeks$9.95 52$20,696
Nursing wounds2 hrs./12 weeks$17.90 12$430
Cleaning up10 hrs./52 weeks$9.40 52$4,888
Planning parties64 hours a year$23.11 $1,479
Summer activity planner40 hrs./12 weeks$18.18 12$8,726
Haircuts0.5 hrs./52 weeks$11.55 52$300
Shopping for the family3 hrs./52 weeks$10.13 52$1,580
Family finances0.5 hrs./52 weeks$23.83 52$620
Yard work1 hr./52 weeks$10.83 52$563
Fixing up the house40 hours a year$24.99 $1,000
Finding out what the kids are up to40 hours a year$19.78 $791
Total annual Mom cost: $61,436
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

SAHM's rejoice!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today's Favorite Product - Teething Bling

Today's product, Teething Bling, is something the hubby actually discovered online during his daily StumbleUpon excursion. I quickly fell in love and, personally, am bummed I didn't think of them first.

Regardless, Teething Bling has become my go-to gift for new moms. It's a nice little follow up present to be given a few months after the baby is born.

The concept combines fashion and function. According to their website, "We all know how much babies love to grab and chew. For that reason, most moms don’t wear jewelry when their children are young. Our pendants and bangles look great on the adult wearer but are safe for curious babies to handle and chew."

In addition to pendants Teething Bling, brought to you by Smart Mom Jewelry, also offers matching bangles to complete the set. Both are "made from the same FDA-approved material as most teething toys".

Visit their website at to view the different design options. Babies begin teething around 3 to 4 months old so plan accordingly!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Baking Tip

Aside from the general comments about how amazing my cakes are (of course), I am most frequently complimented on their moistness. Unfortunately I can't take all the credit as I was given a great tip by my cake decorating instructor, Terri.

Just over a year ago a friend and I took a "Cake Decorating 101" class at our local community center. While the class was mainly decorating focused, Terri did give us several tips on baking the actual cake.
  • Tip #1: For a deliciously moist cake, be sure to wrap the baked cake in Saran wrap shortly after you've removed it from the oven. Give it 10 minutes or so to cool, remove it from the pan, and then immediately wrap it in Saran wrap. Doing so will allow for the majority of the moisture to remain inside the cake, making for a decadently perfect, never dry, cake. Unwrap right before you're ready to apply icing.

So Proud To Be An American

On September 11th, 2001 I was just a few days in to my freshman year at the University of Denver. We didn't even have a television for our dorm room yet. We first heard about everything via a phone call from my roommates parents and rushed down to the commons area of our dorm to view the days events as they unfolded on a big screen. I sat there in tears along with 50 other brand new college students who were also lacking televisions. When I entered that room I didn't know a single one of them and as I left we were one American family.

Last night I was preparing to watch Brothers and Sisters while skyping with my mom and sister. Something we do every Sunday to ensure we see each other at least once a week. Instead we learned together of the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. troops. While it was great to be "with" my family as we found out, I also felt this desire to be able to share last night's experience with those same 50 students that I had cried with on September eleventh. To come full circle and know that justice had been served would have been an amazing moment to share with them.

Nonetheless, last night was no less memorable. I wanted to run out into the middle of the street and shoot off fireworks, but I doubt my suburban neighborhood would have appreciated that. Plus I had none on hand. Instead, I sat in awe. Sure, the news reporters were interesting, and the President's speech brought me to tears, but what grabbed at my heart strings the most were the live shots of Americans waving our flag in victory as they chanted "nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey heyyyyy, goodbye!" It was hearing a reporter's story, who was midair on a plane when the news broke, of how her fellow passengers celebrated. And it was watching the reactions of sports fans at the Mets/Phillies baseball game as they began chanting "USA USA USA" after news quickly spread throughout the stadium via smart phones and word of mouth. What I wouldn't give to be in any one of those crowds when the news broke.

For me it will always be the sense of American unity that intrigues me the most when tragedy strikes or triumph prevails.

Ironically, I spent Friday and Saturday building a two layer, half sheet cake for my husband's uncle's birthday party. With 180 people in attendance it had to look good. The birthday boy is one of the most patriotic people I know, ending every voicemail with "And God Bless America". This coupled with the fact that it was his 50th birthday, his wife and I thought an America theme would be fitting. 50 states for 50 years. So I went to work building his cake. Six cake mixes, five 2-pound bags of powdered sugar, and 4.5 bags of mini marshmallows later and the above picture is what you get. Who would have known on Saturday night at his party how fitting this cake would become.