Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Camera, an Award and New Blogs!

Today is the first day back to reality for our little family.
After three weeks of vacation, Hubby is back to work and we're back to our regular programming.
Or something like that.
As much as I LOVE time off (does a momma ever actually get time off?), I have to say I'm looking forward to getting into my normal cleaning/baking/cooking schedule...I'm just uptight like that. Get too far away from my routines and I start to get the shakes. : )

Hubs worked quite a lot of overtime this summer in order to provide the financial freedom (staying out of debt, remember?!) to travel a bit over our vacation. As things turned out...we mostly stayed home and worked on our bedroom reno (that's me doing the happy dance over here)...which also meant that there was extra moolah left over fooooorrrr....a new camera!! Oh yes!!! Insert another happy dance here!

Last night we took a little family walk before bedtime to get in another geocache hunt - Hubby's latest obession - so I took the opportunity to snap a few pics.


Hubs will be horrified when he sees that I posted a pic of him in his grubbies.
So...umm..quick! Look at the trees!!
Can you see the leaves starting to turn color? I think this walk is going to be gorgeous in a few weeks with all the changing colors!

Going back to the new camera...it's a big upgrade from the little point & shoot I was using before. That one had 7.2 MP and this one has 18 MP. Which brings me to this...I have heard that pictures taken with high MP and posted (I hope I'm using the right lingo here) can slooooow a blog right down. But then someone else told me that Blogger automatically resizes the pics when I upload them, so that it won't slow down. I haven't got a clue. I am seriously about as clueless as they come.
So here's where I need your help. Slow loading blogs drive me bonkers. My time is limited and if it takes me half a day to open up a blog, I won't likely even bother going there. Obviously I don't want to do the same thing to you! Please, please, please...if you notice a significant time difference in opening my blog from now on...PLEASE let me know! Leave me a comment or fire off an email (you can find my email address under my "contact me" tab)! And thank you!

Now - onto some other fun stuff!!



What an honor to be given this award from Kara of Hobbies of a Homemaker!
Thanks so much for thinking of me, Kara!
Now I hope you all will swing by and pay her a little visit! She's got a sweet little bench makeover that I know you're gonna want to check out!

After accepting the Versatile Blogger Award, the blogger must:

1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Share seven things about yourself
3. Pass this award along to 10 recently discovered blogs 

Here are 7 things about me:

I had to give this a lot of thought!

1). I trained as a hairstylist straight out of high school, but hated it because I felt so horrible if I didn't manage to please my customers. I lasted seven months. From then on I worked as a receptionist, office manager, deli worker (to recover from the stress of office management!), back to office work and then finally as an assistant manager at a home decor boutique...and then on to my favorite job ever...becoming a STAY AT HOME MOMMY. Love it and I don't ever want to change it!

2). Hubby and I were born just a few months apart on the opposite coasts of Canada. Eventually we both ended up in Alberta, but when we "met" via email (a set up by my sister in law and his mama!), he was living in Thailand and I was in British Columbia.

3). I have a serious crush on my sewing machine (okay, she's not technically "mine" but whatevs, she lives at my house - thanks, Mom!), and I really wish I had more time to spend with her on a regular basis.

4). Hubby and I dream of one day moving onto an acreage...we have the landscaping all planned out already! And I will have a chicken coop, a greenhouse and a big ol' garden there!

5). Creativity energizes me, whether it's music, interior decor, cooking or photography (albeit very amateur attempts)...when there is little to no opportunity to express creativity in one way or another, I become a very low and deflated person.

6). Hubby and I love, love, love ethnic foods and thankfully our kids have happily gone along with all the different flavors from a very young age!

7). My heritage is Swedish, and although it's been many, many years since I've lived there, I still get "homesick" for the beautiful countryside, forests, yummy breads, cheeses and pastries, and the red & white farmhouses. My parents have recently moved back there, and I would love to bring my little family back there to visit someday.

Here are 10 new-to-me blogs that I love and I know you will too. Check 'em out!


I'm off to get started on my day now...I have some projects lined up that just need their finishing touches. I can't wait to share them with you, so stayed tuned!
Our headboard is still a work in progress, and I can hardly wait to share that one too.
As for the closet doors...well, um...let's just say I can't wait for that one either, but...errr...I'm not promising anything anytime soon on those!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Autumn Inspiration

The last









The last few days I've been sick in bed with a cold (boo! hiss!)...crummy when we're on our summer vacation. Waaah, poor me. The good part though...I've been sent to our room not to come out until I'm better (thanks, Hun!), so that has left me LOTS of time to blog, find new blogs and become a little more familiar with the wildly popular Pinterest.

I thought I'd do some snooping around for autumnal decor, seeing as the season is kinda waving hello to us in the near horizon. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Fall. I really love the crisp air, ripe apples waiting to be picked, cool nights by the backyard fire and of course, fall decorating. What I hate is knowing that dreaded winter is fast on it's heels. Ugh.

Ah well...let's choose not to think about that, shall we?
Let's look at some gorgeous inspiration instead!


I LOVE the funky argyle pattern painted on this pumpkin. So fun!!

A lovely luncheon by the barn? I'm all there!!


This one has me thinking about my shabby mirror turned chalkboard...hmmm...

Source: etsy.com via Evie on Pinterest

I absolutely love the neutral simplicity of this wreath.
Gorgeous.


Same with this. Yummy neutrals...so perfect for Fall!


You all know my love of outdoor candles by now. Imagine how pretty these would be lining a driveway or sidewalk up to your house for a backyard apple harvest party?!
Loving these cozy vase sweaters!

Source: bhg.com via Evie on Pinterest

There just something dramatic about these lacy covered pumpkins that I love.

Source: sunset.com via Evie on Pinterest

What a great idea for a mantel. I love the simplicity of this arrangement.
What about switching out the rocks for pine cones, acorns or chestnuts?




A pumpkin made from a book? Yes, please!
Love.

Have these pictures got your mind swirling with new ideas?
Mine sure is!
Hmmm. I wonder if I can get away with sneaking downstairs and digging through my craft supplies?
Me thinks fabric pumpkins await!!!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Coconut Marshmallows

This past weekend, my little family and I had a short little getaway with our extended family.
I had a strong suspicion there would be some backyard fires goin' on, so I wanted to whip up a batch of marshmallows to bring along. Coconut marshmallows to be exact. 
I'm not exactly sure where I originally found this , but I'm guessing it was a Martha Stewart recipe, judging by the "exact" instructions! At any rate...it has a high yum factor.
Here's how you can make some yourself...

First, preheat your oven to 325 F.


Then evenly spread about four cups of shredded, sweetened coconut onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the coconut is nicely browned - about 12 minutes or so. You'll want to stir it a few times to keep it from burning on the bottom. Once it's browned, set it aside and let it cool.


Then oil a 9" x 13" cake pan and sprinkle about a cup or so of the cooled coconut
over the bottom of the pan.

Next, add 1/2 cup of cold water to a mixing bowl and sprinkle 3 1/2 packages of gelatin over the water. Let it soften up.


In the meantime, add 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of corn syrup, 1/2 cup of hot water (about 115 F)
and 1/4 tsp. of salt to a large saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to a medium setting and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 240 F - about 12 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the sugar mixture over the gelatin mixture, stirring until all the gelatin has dissolved.
You still with me? That was the hardest part, trust me.


In a separate bowl, whip two large egg whites until they're stiff. For best results, make sure you use a metal bowl and your eggs are at room temp. Set this aside for a bit.
(I whipped mine up before I cooked the sugar mixture, and by the time I was ready to use the whites, there was quite a lot of liquid in the bottom of the bowl. They turned out fine, but it probably would have been best if I had waited...like I'm telling you to do!)


Now beat the sugar/gelatin mixture on high speed until it's white, thick and nearly tripled in volume...about six minutes. I highly suggest you use a standing mixer for this. I have a 300 watt Kitchen Aid mixer and it sounded like it was working hard, so I really doubt a hand mixer would cut it.

Once it is whipped and nice and voluminous...add the egg whites and 3/4 tsp. of coconut extract.
Mix until just combined.


Pour the fluffy yumminess into your cake pan and sprinkle another cup or so of toasted coconut over top.


I like to pat it down so it's nice and even all over.
Chill, uncovered, until firm...about three hours or overnight.


Once it's set, run a thin knife around the edges and invert on a large cutting board.
That's one big marshmallow!!
Trim around the edges and then cut into one inch cubes.


Roll the sticky sides in more coconut...and you're done!!!

Now if you're still doing some late summer camping...these are absolutely YUMMY roasted over a fire.




Or if you know someone who is going camping soon...why not throw together a Smores Kit as a special gift to take along?



If camping in not in your plans...marshmallow pops make a sweet gift too.
Insert a stick, tie a cello bag over the pop and they are ready for sticky little fingers...


...and mouths...


Or put together a marshmallow pop bouquet in a sweet little container...


...a back to school gift for the teacher, perhaps?


But then on second thought....you could just put them in a container and enjoy them for yourself...
I won't tell...promise!

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Linking to:




 



36th Avenue



Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

The Stenciling is DONE!!!

Well...I'm happy to say...IT'S FINISHED!!!
Those of you who have been reading the BPPackages Facebook page (a BIG thanks to all of you who have "liked" it!!) know exactly what I mean!!

That mammoth project called stenciling.
Errr...is it still called stenciling if you didn't actually use real stenciling techniques?

As those of you who have been reading since the beginning already know, hubby and I have been working away at changing up our cave-like bedroom. Here is ONE of the TWO pictures I was actually smart enough to take before we started painting.
*banging forehead*


Get used to looking at this pic. I'm going to have to use it lots in future posts about our room.
Anyhow, it was painted a really dark brown with golden oak trim, doors and flooring, not to mention very dim lighting from a ginormous ceiling fan that felt like it was only about three feet higher than the bed. It was virtually impossible to see anything in the closet. Blech. It didn't take long for me to make a trip to the paint store...you can read about that process here.
That was five months ago.
But now I'm happy to announce that we're...wait for it...about halfway to completion!!
Yeehaw!


Here's a half-way-done picture from roughly the same angle.
We painted the walls Light French Grey by Behr and then I hand painted/stenciled/whatever it's called...the "headboard wall" with Deep Silver by Benjamin Moore.
You can see a little peek of the new white closet doors...but that's a post for another day.
Our bedroom is the only room we've really touched so far, so that's why you can still see the oak trim on the outside frame of the bedroom door. It all takes time!

After we painted the room grey-blue, it started feeling a wee bit "icy" to me, so I thought that adding a now wildly popular trellis pattern to the headboard wall might soften things up a bit. I really waffled between white and black, but then I thought that might be a bit too harsh and wondered if a cozy, warm charcoal
might be just the ticket. Turns out it was. I love it.

Here's how we made it happen...


I browsed around a lot on the Internet to find a pattern that I liked. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that it was Jones Design Company who had the winning pattern! Have I ever mentioned how much I love that blog?! Patience is not my greatest virtue so I liked the fact that I could download the pattern right now and better yet, the fact that it was free appealed to my cheap frugal nature! If you are impatient and cheap frugal too, you can find the download here.

The size of the pattern changed a bit as a result of my printer running out of ink half way through. Yup.
So I had to fiddle around with it a bit when cutting out the pattern. As a result, I totally botched it up and had to resort to asking hubby for help with getting it right...which resulted in a larger pattern (fine by me...less painting!). As a result of that, my lines do not combine into one like Emily's do. But I'm still really happy with the overall result. After getting the pattern all sorted out, I traced it onto some white poster board and then experimented with several different brushes to see what I liked best. I highly recommend this!!


As you can see, it gave me something to practice painting on...which clearly I really needed!
I tried about four different brushes...you can see the different widths in this pic.
In the end, I decided a rounded brush worked best, since I didn't have to contort my body while I painted, which I did have to do with the flat tipped brushes.

(Did you notice? I painted my nails too...just for you!)
We made two stencils...one full pattern and one half pattern. I started in the farthest right hand corner above the bedroom door with the full pattern alternated with the half pattern and went along the ceiling. It may not have been the best point to start, but I wanted a less conspicuous place to get going since I knew most of it would be covered up by moulding anyhow.
You can see the process in this picture. Trace the pattern, then move it down about a half inch or so and trace again. Just keep going until you think you are going to lose your marbles.
Then take a little break and go at it again.


 I found it worked best if I moved the pattern down the wall, rather than working across the wall.
I don't know if using a level really helped anything other than to somewhat convince myself that I wasn't royally messing everything up. At any rate, I used this little level and lined up the stencil pattern with the traced out pattern above.


Then moved the level down to make sure the stencil was straight.
At some points, I just had to fudge a little to make it work.
Okay, in some places I had to fudge a LOT...put my pencil down and walk out of the room, deep breathe and once again ask myself what I ever did to feel I needed to punish myself this way.
Just sayin.


I alternated tracing and painting to keep myself sane from getting bored.
You can see here what I mean by a round tipped brush. It really does make the process much easier.


Just keep painting...just keep painting...painting, painting, painting...what do we do...we paint, paint, paint...oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhhhh!!!
(Can you hear Dory singing? Kay...so maybe Nemo is played a little too often around here..)
Keep painting on the inside of your traced lines.


Aaaannnndddd...the finished result!
I mentioned in a previous post that hubby wasn't at all convinced that he liked it. In fact, his first words were..."You said it was going to be subtle, Evie!" Errr....I thought grey was subtle. Compared to black.
Well, now he loves it. I knew he would.
 During the painting process, I wasn't so sure if I would love it though...I'm a big chicken and usually steer away from patterns. This was a big and very bold step for me...I sweated buckets over the decision to go ahead and do it or not..but I'm happy to say that I love it too. And really it's kinda like childbirth...the pain of the process is forgotten and now I just think about how much I like it and how it's going to be years before I ever repaint our room.


I couldn't get a straight on picture of the wall because I was trying my hardest not to get all the tools and furniture laying around into the picture. Our room is really rather small, so there weren't many places to stand without tripping on something.

Oh...see those sweet mouldings? Hubby's first attempt at crown moulding! I think he did a FAB job.
Thanks Honey...mwah! And a big, big thanks to my daddy-o for coaching and helping! I big, fat heart the chunky crown and baseboard. Yum.


And while I'm handing out thank-you's...
Thank you to my mom for watching the kiddies for countless hours while I painted...
thank you to Hubby for also watching kiddies during the hours Mom wasn't here...
and thank you to my kids for taking naps occasionally when neither my mom nor hubby were around...
and thank you to my producer...
and thank you to my fans...
without you, none of this would be possible...
*holding up my trophy and dabbing at tears*
*sniff*

I kid! I kid!

Now...onto the headboard and closet doors!! Stay tuned!!
If I'm very, very lucky they might be finished by the end of the week...

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36th Avenue





 


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