Monday, February 28, 2011

Talk It Over Tea {Starts March 4th}

Attention, Fellow Bloggers!
It's another Linky Party! {Yay, just what you need, right?}
Hear me out...

Lavender Clouds is debuting a "Seeking Solutions" advice column, so to speak. It's called "Talk It Over Tea" and you are all invited! We want you tell us about your problem and we are going to help you find a solution. Just as you would talk with a dear friend over tea about the trials in your life, we are that friend!

Having problems in the dating world? Need help getting that recipe just right or looking for help with your blog? Maybe it's an issue with an unruly child, a decorating dilemma, or a medical problem?

Simply write a post about it and link it up here, at Lavender Clouds every weekend. There is likely to be someone who can offer up some advice to your situation. The only rules are to be respectful. This is not about getting more people to follow you or following back. Maybe you have a problem you can't figure out, but you have a solution for someone else's issue. This is about helping and being helped.

So, you have all week to think about your post.
The party starts this Friday, March 4th!

I would appreciate if you could link back to Lavender Clouds somewhere in your post or on your sidebar. I've even created this button for you! Remember, the more people we get involved, the more answers you will get for your particular problem.
What do you think?
Does this sound like something you might participate in?



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pirouette Cookie Cake

My cousin asked me to make a cake for a bridal shower she was hosting for her future daughter-in-law. Remember how I said Chloe is going to be a flower girl? This was the party for that upcoming wedding. She gave me free reign with the design, which I always love. I did use her colors which are pink and blue, but I also tried to match it to her personal style.

I went to my florist to pick up the roses. She wanted five dollars per rose (gasp)! She stated they were long stem. What did I care? I was going to chop them right of that long stem anyway. I kindly stepped outside and called Costco. The gentleman on the phone stated they sold a dozen roses for thirteen dollars. To my surprise when I got to Costco I found out it was 20 roses for thirteen dollars! Yay...

First I baked two 12-inch strawberry layer cakes. I put them together as usual, you can see a tutorial for baking, assembling, and frosting a layer cake HERE. I frosted it with a white chocolate buttercream. While I was running around picking up roses and ingredients I found this fabulous tray. It was perfect for transporting and displaying the cake and it also made a perfect gift for the bride-to-be.

Next, I found these adorable lovebird salt and pepper shakers which I thought would look so cute as a cake topper, and again, she could keep them. 

For a twelve inch, double layer cake I used about 2 1/2 canisters each of vanilla and chocolate pirouettes. That means I had to buy 4 canisters, which can be pretty pricey, I saw them for $7 dollars.

Just cut the cookies in various sizes, saving the cut pieces. Using icing as glue, adhere the cookies onto the cake. Coarsly chop the leftover cookie pieces. Sprinkle them all over the top of the cake. Tie with grosgrain ribbon.
Add lovebirds.

Trim roses and set on top of cake.

For the cake alone it cost about $60 to make. However, it was by far the easiest cake I have ever made and one of my favorites!
This post is linked to Melt In Your Mouth Mondays @

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ashley's Brownie Popsicles

Have you met Ashley over @ Attention 2 Detail? If not, you must pop on over there this instant! She is full of the most adorable, unique, and creative party planning ideas. These Brownie Popsicles she found are sooooo cute and I love them even more because they fit into my "good things simple" motto. She also recently posted a great decorating idea for a Fabric Ribbon Table Skirt. I just had to share how fabulous she is with you! I showed Chloe this picture, and she wants me to make them for her upcoming birthday party. Thanks Ashley for sharing this awesome, awesome post!


Friday, February 25, 2011

My Sweet, Sweet Nash and a Letter.

Last night , dressed in a button down and sport coat, Nash had to go to school to present his History Day project to judges, teachers, parents, and peers. History Day is unequivocally the largest project the kids do during all three years at middle school. Because Nash has a love for baseball he did his project on Moses Fleetwood Walker. He created a website to display the information. He worked on his project for months. He did it all by himself. While we talked a lot about it and he gave us constant updates on the project, neither his Dad or I helped him. It doesn't serve it's intended purpose when a project is done by the parents, now does it? He got a B on the project and was invited to present it to county, which we declined due to scheduling conflicts. It was unfortunate that I was unable to go and support him last night at school. I feel horrible, but he did have his dad and sister there to support him.

This morning I received this letter in my email from another mom at his school. He's friend's with her daughter, Anne, and I've talked to her occasionally because we usually volunteer at a few events together throughout the school year.

Hi Lil,
Just a quick note to brag about your son.  He is the nicest most polite boy at (our school) and that's the truth!!!  (Of course the competition is no where near him.)
Last night when we arrived at the History Show he came right up to my husband and I (Anne wasn't with us) and said hello.  He had never met my hubby so I introduced them, he shook our hands, looked us right in the eyes and was attentive to us only.  Later we went to his table he walked us through his wonderful website (my hubby is a baseball nut too) very politely and professionally.  As we were leaving he said it was nice meeting my husband.  My husband was amazed that there are still boys like him. 
I can't say enough about how great he is. I wish you'd tutor children in social etiquette.  We'd sent Anne in a heartbeat.
Have a nice weekend.
How sweet, right?
My sweet, sweet Nash-I am so proud of who you are. I'm proud that you got straight A's last quarter and that you do it all by yourself. I never have to nag you to do homework. You make it all seem so effortless. You really are the sweetest and most polite boy. I certainly don't need a note like this to remind me how wonderful you are, but it is nice that other people see it too. You have always amazed the people around you by your sharp mind, big heart, and mature attitude. I am grateful for everyday I have with you. I love you and thank you for being you. Don't ever change for anyone. I'd love to take all the credit here, but if anyone deserves it, it's you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Kitchen

I'm so blessed to have the most amazing kitchen. The builders really thought of everything (almost). It has a huge pull out spice cabinet, built in trash can and recycling bin, and very futuristic microwave that opens like a drawer with the push of a button. The only issue I have with my kitchen is that there is no vent above the island stove. This is a problem because there is a smoke alarm just off the kitchen near the ovens. It's very sensitive and every time we bake anything over 400 degrees or do any heavy frying the alarm goes off. The house is equipped with automatic sprinklers so I'm always cooking and simultaneously fanning! But even with that I LOVE my kitchen! It's the ultimate gathering place. I have lots of stools and people always gravitate around the island. The kitchen is mostly set up in stations. There is a phone/note station, baking station, coffee station, etc.

Baking Station

Below you can see the little berry bowl my SIL got me for my birthday. It's so handy. It always sits there and it is used almost daily.

Below, to the left of the stove under the cutting board is the futuristic microwave. And all the way to the right is the pull out spice cabinet which houses three shelves.

Below is the breakfast nook right off the kitchen. It's our casual dining area and it serves as the kids table when we have company. The kids do crafts and homework here as well. A lazy Susan sits on top along with a tin of dinner games.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Pantry

How I Organize My Pantry
So, I'm in a constant state of spring cleaning and reorganizing. I'm always straightening up the pantry. Between my kids and my husband it gets unorganized fairly quickly. But, recently I gave it some real, much needed attention. A couple weeks ago, I reorganized Chloe's room. I bought her a taller bookshelf and brought this small black one down to the pantry. My girlfriend couldn't believe I needed even more shelves in my pantry! I also shelled out some cash for some new bigger, clear canisters so I could store things like flour, sugar, rice, and beans. I love being organized, but I hate spending money to get organized!

The pantry is organized by groups, by how often I use things, and by how I need to see things. For example, all cereal, snacks and bread are located right in front, at grabbing and eye level for the kids and hubby. Nuts and chocolate chips are stored next to each other, and anything related to breakfast is also stored together. Paper products, baking goods, condiments, can foods, teas, and pasta are also stored in their own groups. Baskets, cake stands, and vases are stored at the top of the pantry because I don't use these items very often.

I feel so much better! This time I really got into the depths of the pantry and was able to get rid of some seriously expired food. Perhaps it's not really that organized, but it is to me! And now I can find what I need when I need it, and I don't have to buy things I already have, but just can't find!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins {Pampered Chef Recipe}

Today I'm going to go visit my cousin who is in the hospital. This is not the first time she has been in the hospital for surgery recently, and we are all hoping it is the last. I like to go butter up the nurses when I go, so I take treats for them so that maybe they will take extra special care of her! :)

Since I have been staying true to my New Years Resolution of a healthier lifestyle I wanted to take something that fit into that. I still love baking but I have had to find creative ways to make healthier goodies. I found this recipe at a fabulous website that has hundreds of Pampered Chef Recipes. If you are a fan you must check it out!

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

1/2 C. Butter
3/4 C. Brown Sugar
1 egg
1 C. Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Dash salt
3/4 C. applesauce
1 C. quick oats
1/2 C. each raisins and nuts (optional)

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture alternately with the applesauce. Stir in oats, raisins, and nuts. Pour into greased or paper lined muffin tins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

I used a mixture of half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour. I also used half butter and half I Can't Believe Its Not Butter, because that's all I had. I used a cookie scoop and it made exactly 12 muffins. I didn't use any nuts or raisins, although I think they would be good with pepitas (green pumpkin seeds). These were perfect baked for exactly 25 minutes in my oven. I tasted one and it was moist and subtly sweet. I would definitely make these again. I'm happy to have another guilt free treat in my arsenal of goodies!
This post will be linked up to all the Tasty Tuesdays listed in my sidebar!
Please visit these wonderful blogs.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Do You Believe In Rainbows?

This is exactly how I have been feeling lately. Like there is a darkness and gloom that follows me around and I just can't seem to shake it. I'm not a person that has ever suffered from depression. Sure there have been times in my life, I have felt sad and overwhelmed. I may have even let it get me down now and then. But it never felt quite like this. I'm pretty sure I know the root of my overwhelming sadness in the last few weeks. But, just when I felt ready to give up, things started to change. Of course whenever I feel sorry for myself, I always focus on the positive things in my life, like Nash and Chloe. That usually gets my through any funk I'm in.

However, Saturday was a breakthrough day for me and some very important people in my life. I have suffered losing people in my life where it just couldn't be helped. However, when a relationship is lost with a family member, and it can be helped, it seems senseless and all the more hurtful. Do you have a relative that you no longer speak with? Someone who perhaps you were once close? Do you wish there was some way to move past it, to start over?

I recently mentioned some issues I was I having with a family member. It was not long after that I received a call from her asking to talk. It would be the first talking we did in several years. Not knowing what the conversation would hold, I went in with my guard up and left with walls that had broken down. It wasn't all pretty, but it ended up feeling like we had just moved mountains. I was extremely overjoyed with the outcome and the possibilities for the future.

Just minutes after arriving home, I saw this rainbow out my kitchen window! I instantaneously grabbed my camera to capture the moment. I felt like it was there just for me.

"In the midst of gloom and darkness this rainbow emerged, declaring itself upon my view."-Lil Grace


Friday, February 18, 2011

My Travel Traditions

Hubby loves to travel. Now that the kids are older, I'm starting to enjoy it more myself. The kids love it as well. Over the last 6 months our family has traveled more than in the entire 13 years that we've been a family! During this last trip to North Carolina, we also visited a few parts of South Carolina and even spent a night in Savannah, Georgia. During our last few trips to the East Coast, California Coast, and North West, I have started some must-do travel traditions.

1. I love taking pictures of street signs. However, since I lost the camera from our big 2 week NYC, NJ, and DC trip this summer, I don't have those :(. Here's an example of one I took from Charleston...

2. I always get postcards from everywhere we go. This trip I almost forgot until hubby reminded me. I thought that was so sweet of him! If I have time I will write out events of our trip and mail it to myself from that city. If I don't find the time I will journal onto the postcards when I get home. I try and get the kids to write them too!

3. Lastly, I always try to pick up a Christmas ornament. You'd be surprised at how available they are. Even in the summer I was able to find them. Usually you can find them with the name of the city and sometimes even the year.

What are some of your travel traditions or ways you chronicle your trip besides photos? Do you save airline tickets, receipts, menus, or tourist attraction ticket stubs? Yep, I'm guilty too!
This post is linked to:
All Things Domestic Link Up Blog Party
@ Crazy Domestic

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm Back!

We had a long and wonderful trip to the east coast and after a few days of recuperating I'm back! I missed you all so much! I wanted to share with you photos from the first leg of our trip. After visiting the MIL in Raleigh, NC we drove down to Charleston, South Carolina for a couple days. My husband prefers looking at the beach as opposed to lying on it, so winter is a perfect time to avoid crowds, get a great room rate, and take in it's beauty while having the whole place to ourselves. We stayed at the Wild Dunes in the Isle of Palms. We got a fantastic rate (too good to be true, really! I think they made a mistake, but their loss was our gain). We stayed in an amazing two bedroom two bath, well it was more of a condo than a room. It even had a washer and dryer, 3 flat screens, fully stocked beautiful kitchen, view, etc. I told hubby, I thought we should just ditch all our belongings back home and move in!
Check it out...

During our stay we headed over the bridge for a few trips to downtown Charleston where we shopped and ate.

One day for lunch we ate at the famous Hyman's Deli. It's a must stop everytime we are in Charleston, as it's one of hubby's favorites. Look where I was seated...

Some shopping at City Market...

 Sweet Grass Basket makers.
I would have bought one but the few baskets I picked up to
do a price check on cost from $250 to $800!

Gotta love these signs!

Cute V-Day Oreos from Downtown...

We also stopped by the park to soak in some history...

I just love the architecture here. I'm a fool for columns and tree lined streets...

Before we left we took a walk down the Boardwalk at the Wild Dunes...