Rachel’s Bridal Shower

May 27, 2011

On April 30th, I co-hosted my sister’s bridal shower. I am so glad that even though I was 35 weeks pregnant, I was still feeling good and able to contribute!

I used Vista Print to make up some cute (CYUTE) invitations…

I was also in charge of favors which is something that usually falls by the wayside because people either forget to take them or they just toss them. But I love favors and wanted to do something cute. I picked up a favor kit from Michael’s that came with some clear boxes and silver ribbon. I think edible is the way to go, so I went on the hunt for some kind of candy in a pink wrapper (pink is my sister’s wedding color) and I found Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate pieces. I ordered some stickers from VistaPrint for the labels that match the invitations and voila – favors 🙂 I wish I had a picture of the actual favors, but I don’t.

And of course I was in charge of the cake. I wanted to make a really spectacular cake for my sister’s shower, but unfortunately I didn’t meet my own expectations. The cake was tasty and people seemed to like it, but I wish I could have done more. (Again, I don’t have a good picture.)

Rachel asked for yellow cake and vanilla frosting – simple as can be!! I decided to try out a new yellow cake recipe and went with this one from Smitten Kitchen. Deb’s carrot cake is fabulous, so I figured I could trust another cake recipe from her. The cake was less moist than the Wilton yellow cake I usually use, but it was dense and carved well. It held up very well to being sliced in small pieces. I made 2 recipes for a 2 layer 1/4 sheet cake. The layers were very tall, so the cake overall was too. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll make this cake again, but I will keep the recipe if I need a very sturdy cake.

For the icing I made this flour icing (I never know what to call it!). As usual, I think I got the heating of the flour/milk mixture wrong – or was it the cooling? All I know is when I mixed it into the butter/sugar mixture, I got tiny sesame-seed-sized bits of the flour mixture that wouldn’t mix in 😦 I did not have the separating issue I had the last time I made this frosting, so maybe I just need to give it a 3rd try. It is very tasty and is refreshingly different than normal American buttercream.

For the decorations, I cut daisies out of fondant and painted them with red and white pearl dust. I love using the pearl dust because it always looks so nice! I do NOT love mixing up pink icing. I can never arrive at a nice color of pink and I usually end up somewhere around a coral color.

The rest of the shower, my “aunt” took care of. My sister is a vegetarian, so 95% of the food was vegetarian also. There were several varieties of quiche, a fruit salad, a green salad, steamed shrimp, and veggies.

The Nursery

May 22, 2011

We are less than 2 weeks away from Baby Mac’s due date and the nursery is finally done (-ish). Nothing like coming down to the wire!! There are still a few things we want to add but it is certainly ready for him at this point. So, here’s the nursery story 🙂

The first thing we did months ago was choose a bedding set. Yes, bedding sets can be a waste, but I was just having a hard time coming up with something on my own, so picking a set to use as inspiration really helped.

We (easily) agreed on this one by Trend Lab:

I loved the rockets (because I’m a nerd) and I loved the stars and moons. And I also liked that this wasn’t one of the super cliche nursery themes that you often see.

Bill had it in his head from the start that he wanted to do some kind of mural or creative painting on the walls. I wasn’t sure how this would work in such a small room, but I left it to him – he’s the artist, not me!! After seeing the bedding, he decided to do a “day and night” theme. One side of the room would be painted light blue with clouds and the other side would be painted dark blue with stars. It came out fabulously! The moon and stars even glow in the dark!

Here’s the view looking into the room (it’s tiny – maybe 8×10 so it was hard to get wide shots):

And the view of the “Day” wall with the dresser and rocking chair:

Here is the “Night” wall with the crib:

And the closet wall (same wall as the door):

We went with the Graco Lauren crib in white. It was highly recommended pretty much everywhere I looked and widely available, so we got it from Babies R Us. The dresser is the Hemnes 3 drawer chest from Ikea. The rocking chair was a gift from my parents. It was my great-grandmother’s and it was in my nursery when I was a baby and in my sister’s. My parents had it repaired, refinished, and reupholstered for us.

Originally, this room had no overhead light fixture. I was trying to figure out where I would be able to put some lamps in this room when Bill suggested that we look into putting in an overhead fixture. I figured it would be too expensive, but after checking with our electrician (who was at our house doing some work in the basement) it turned out that it wasn’t expensive at all! So the fixture was installed and now we have light!! Of course this was the day after I had bought a new floor lamp and thrown away the box. Oops. Oh well, I’ll probably move that to the basement or something.

I wish we had room for a bookshelf or something for toy storage but we really don’t. (The fact that the previous owners of our house had 2 boys in bunk beds living in this room baffles me.) There’s plenty of storage space in the room (closet, dresser, even under the crib) but no real place for “display storage”. I am still considering getting a skinny bookshelf to put next to the dresser. As much as I really don’t want to cram another piece of furniture in here, I think I’m going to have to. The other options are some kind of low cubbies or something under the window and/or floating shelves on the wall near the rocker.

The Fireplace…It deserves its own post

May 16, 2011

It was Bill’s idea to put a gas fireplace in the basement. At first I thought it’d be a nice touch, but I was kind of indifferent about it. And especially after we realized it was going to cost considerably more than we originally thought, I threw it into the category of “things we can cut for the sake of simplicity and/or finances”. But we didn’t end up cutting it and I’m very glad we didn’t! I love how it turned out, and it adds interest to the room. Plus, it’s a basement so it’ll be cold in the winter and this baby is hooked up to the thermostat so it will help keep the room warm.

Of course Bill framed and installed the fireplace himself and I helped with super complicated and important things like arranging the fake logs and embers. I was also there for the first test, which I am happy to say did not blow up the house. Bill also built the mantle and the top of the fireplace is a flat shelf. We are hoping to commission a custom piece of pottery for that shelf from our friend Valerie.

Bill (and/or his dad, I forget) came up with the idea to surround the fireplace with some kind of “fake stone”. He didn’t want the clean, lined-up look of tile, but a more rustic look. So I was tasked with looking up “fake stone” on the interwebs and trying to find some that wouldn’t be too expensive. We went to Lowes to check out this option, but it was much more substantial than we wanted (3″ deep and required an extensive mortar application process). As we were leaving, I said “What if we just got some slate tiles and busted them up artistically and tiled the fireplace face?” As usual when I suggest a building method I either made up or know nothing about, I expected there would be some reason why this could never work. But it did work! Bill said that grouting the broken tile and then cleaning and sealing it was a huge pain, but it looks great and it cost us about 1/4 of what we thought it would cost with “fake stone”.

Coming soon…updates on the bathroom and the rest of the basement. We are almost done!