Friday, April 30, 2010

Lego Party - The Invitation

Here's how the Lego Party Invitations turned out.

Invite Cover -

I knew those Zots would come in handy one day!
If you're wondering, I downloaded the free Lego font here.

Inside -

BTW, that's a photo of a 4 that I made from Lego
(I did not lose my mind and build one for every invite)

I've been busy working on favors, decor and other stuff since I have less than 2 weeks to pull this together. When it comes to the kids' birthday parties, I'm a DIY kinda girl. And nothing satisfies me more than deadlines and a ton of hands-on, time consuming things to do. Really... I like self-imposed pressure.  That's the way I roll. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week - Giving Thanks

For Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3rd - May 7th), Smarty Pants made this handprint card (the leaves were made with the side of his thumb).  He LOVES paint, and is very excited to give this to his teacher.  Instead of cookies, flowers, etc., I think I'm going to include a small gift card instead. 


Linked to:

DIY Day @ A Soft Place to Land
Teacher Appreciation @ Somewhat Simple

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Children's Art as... Art

Ah yes, kids art. 

It multiplies like bunnies.

 Yet it's so cute that you wouldn't...



Throw it away. 

But something must be done...

Before you lose your mind!

Here are some great ideas to contain and display kiddie art~

via how does she? {art into a digital collage}
via ohdeedoh {yardstick ledges}
sarah jane via ohdeedoh {kid art cut into animal shapes}
art me kids via tiny decor blog {art on canvas} 

shannon fricke via decor8 {heart art wall}

jan eleni via design mom {another digital art collage}

charlene prince via project nursery {colorful art wall}

design sponge {art wire display}

via project nursery {interchangeable artwork frame}

via a thousand words {and yet another digital collage idea}

design sponge {art card}


It really is amazing how quickly kiddie art accumulates-- I have a large box full of Smarty Pant's art and he's not even 4 years old!

I'm going the art wire and digital picture route.  I bought this curtain wire from Ikea back in January and just need to set it up in the playroom-- it's on the to-do list. 

The idea of taking digital photos of the art and making a poster (or card) is genius!  It would be an easy project in Photoshop.  And if I photograph and document the art, then maybe I can throw away a few... just a few. 

linked to:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The New Ann Taylor

Have you shopped Ann Taylor recently? It used to be a shopping destination for me, but I haven't bought anything there in several years and it's been a long while since I've even ventured into the store. Then the other day, when I was running a quick errand at the mall, I literally stopped in my tracks... Beautiful dresses and tops... lace overlay and tiered loveliness. Still conservative and elegant Ann Taylor, of course, but much more fashion forward.





Now, if only someone would get married or something... I need a reason to buy some pretty clothes!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good Food - Cajun Chicken Pasta

A quick and easy meal that the Mister requests often and my kids love. 

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Serves 4

8 ounces angel hair pasta

8 oz skinless chicken breast, sliced into bite size pieces

3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper, chopped

8 fresh mushrooms, sliced (I like baby bellas)

1 small onion, minced

3 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

**to kick up the heat add additional Cajun seasoning to the sauce (I usually do this after I serve the kids)


Cook pasta until al dente; drain.

Place chicken and cajun seasoning in a bowl, and toss to coat.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in olive oil until juices run clear. Add red bell peppers, sliced mushrooms and onion; cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small bowl (I use my pyrex measuring cup) mix basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper into the heavy cream. Add the cream mixture to the skillet.

Stir and heat through.

The sauce is a little watery, so I lower the heat, throw in the noodles and let it absorb the flavors.  If you're in a hurry, you can also thicken the sauce with cornstarch.

Pasta with a lot of flavor and a little kick.  Gotta love that!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Anatomy of a Birthday Cake

I was surfing around the web looking for Lego Party ideas and came across these great Birthday Cakes  on  I've always wanted to bake and decorate a fun birthday cake but have yet to do it...

so much pressure...
everyone looks forward to the cake...
so many things could go wrong!

So I love how they break it all down and somehow it doesn't seem so scary anymore.  I'm still not sure if I'll be baking or outsourcing this year, but these creative ideas are tempting me to break-out the mixing bowls and give it a whirl.  Here are a few of my favorites...




Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book Talk - April Reads

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

This book really hit home for me.  Without really putting a finger on it, the last few months I've been striving for something...trying to better myself and find my "happy place".  My life has been kidcentric the last four years, and before that workcentric, so I haven't had much time to self-reflect and  "just be me".  Starting this blog, reading more, writing a list of Resolutions (my first ever), were all part of  my desire to get a grasp on life and hopefully make it more fulfilling, and ultimately, happier.

This book pretty much lays out one woman's journey to make happiness a priority-- happiness that starts with the basics and soon extends to her family, friends and even strangers.  Happiness in a "pay it forward" kind of way.  I can really identify with the author-- Nothing horrible has happened to me or my loved ones (at least not at the time being), no depression or illness, no REAL sadness... but yet, there's a little voice that keeps saying "you could always be happier". Have you heard the saying "you don't appreciate what you have, until it's gone"?  Well, I want to appreciate what I have... while I still have it!! Furthermore everyone knows that happy people do more for others, are more even keeled, are more productive... the list goes on. And for all those naysayers who scoff at such "shallow" pursuits... It's much EASIER to be a critical and morose person than a happy one-- Happiness is not fluff, it takes work!

Just so you know, I don't read self-help books-- they just don't draw me in. I wouldn't call this a self-help book... maybe memoir and self-help inspiration? or self-help lite?  Anyhow, she does all the "self-help" reading for you so you can just take away the important parts... I like that! I can't even get through most parenting books and only turn to them when I have a specific issue that I need to tackle.  This book is real, insightful and not preachy, but backed-up with solid research and good humor.  However, it did take me longer to read since I was highlighting, taking notes and bookmarking my Kindle like a mad woman.  Hopefully I'll be able to apply some of her strategies and start my own mini Happiness Project!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Fabulous Friday Find - GAP Always Skinny Mid Rise Jeans

These are awesome!  Just enough stretch to be comfy and just enough support to pull in my post-partum gut that is still trying to find itself... It needs counseling. 

I find that it runs true-to-size for me but if you're between sizes, definitely size down... it stretches!  And if you're vertically challenged like myself, it also comes in petite. 

gap {always skinny mid rise jeans}

♫♫♪ ♪♪♪ ♫♫♪

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wall Art - Patch NYC @ West Elm

I was flipping through the West Elm catalog and was immediately drawn to the Patch NYC collection.  The colors are perfect for our house and the simple, vintage design just speaks to me.

Lets see... We still need some sort of wall art for above the master bed as well as the family room and kitchen nook.  Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Kitchen - Before & After

Before moving in, we did a semi-remodel of the kitchen-- refinishing existing cabinets, replacing appliances and upgrading the center island.  Aside from the island, the layout and existing countertop remain the same.

Here's a snapshot of the Before and After, more details below...

First up... The Cabinets. The previous owners had put a gloss on the cabinets and it looked terrible, like someone with greasy hands touched the cabinets and didn't wipe them off soon enough. We were playing with the idea of having them either restained or faux-finished, or completely replaced... which would've cost a pretty penny. Luckily, we were able to get away with just having the gloss sanded off and having them refinished with a satin glaze. After changing out the hardware, they look brand new!

Another big change... The Center Island. In the original layout there was a lot of wasted space in the middle of the room. So we decided to enlarge the kitchen island and make it "pop". And "pop" it did... the island grew by oh, 3 times it's original size to a whopping 10 X 6 feet. We wanted it to stand out and be the focal point of the kitchen so we used a different stain and granite than the original cabinets and countertop. We absolutely love the additional counter space, plus having more storage space is pretty cool too.

And last, but not least... New Appliances. Here's a quick rundown. We went with Wolf for the stovetop~ Amazing... I can actually make sauces without burning the bottom of the pan; DCS for the double convection oven and microwave ~ Both are good. I'm still adjusting to the oven which takes a lot longer to heat-up than the GE Profile oven that I had before; GE Monogram for the refrigerator ~ probably my least favorite appliance of the bunch. Hardly any space for food! Go figure; Zephyr for the hood ~ powerful yet not too noisy; Uline beverage frig ~ Very necessary since we don't have space for drinks in the Monogram.

Kitchen {Before}:

I took this picture when we were doing the walk-through.

See, I wasn't kidding about the shiny cabinets! Also, the wood knobs didn't add anything to the cabinets either... they pretty much just disappear.  We're pretty sure they did something to the granite too... we had the same granite at our last home and it wasn't that shiny-- But replacing the backsplash and countertops is another project for another year... or five.  

And a 6-foot wide walkway between the stovetop and sink is definitely wasted space.

Cabinets refinished, almost all the appliances installed, center island missing...The kids would've loved it if we left it like this.

The island takes shape.
Gosh those contractors keep getting younger and younger... but boy are they feisty!

Kitchen {After}:

Yep, that's Max & Ruby playing on the telly... the only way I could keep the kids entertained while I took pictures!

Bench seating would work well in this nook, but this set is pretty new... so, not gonna happen for a long, long while.

The Pendant Lights were a S-T-E-A-L!  Found them at Lowe's.  I fell in love with a similar pendant light that was made from mother of pearl and 3 times the price.  These have a similar look and hue... turns out they're made by the same company, but at a fraction of the cost. 

The onyx pendants tie into our two tones of cabinetry and also give a modern, yet organic look which works well with the room's woven shades.

lights off!

lights on!


By the way, our kitchen NEVER looks this pristine!  I'm at home 90% of the time with the kids, and there's no way we could live in a museum.  Some day, when the kids are a little older and no longer have tendencies to climb on tables and "get into" things, I hope to add some personal touches.  Color would be nice, right?  But at this point, I'm just happy that I had that one rare moment where I was able to clean up and take some pictures! Any high flat surface in our house inevitably becomes cluttered with mail, sippy cups and things that we want to keep out of Happy Vee's reach-- pens, tools, Smarty Pant's toys.  However, now that he's learned how to climb the counter stools all bets are off.  Case in point...

Couch cushion decorated with Happy Vee's graffiti art.
Ballpoint pen nabbed from the kitchen counter...

Linked to: