Monday, January 31, 2011

{Heart's Day} Will You Be My Valentine?

To kick off the first day of February, a.k.a the month of LOOOOVE, I wanted to share the little valentines I created for Dean to give to his grandparents, aunts & uncles, and cousins. I took a quick picture a few weeks ago of my little lover boy with his sweet, sweet smile and added it to his card. Ahhh...I can't resist that face!

I also tried something a little different with the labels. I didn't have much time, so this address tag was a little easier and much faster to whip up than my usual wrap labels. I kinda like them!

**I'm loving that it's finally FEBRUARY, my new favorite month of the year thanks to R. Dean. I've been reminiscing and reflecting BIG TIME about this time last year. So much to say, so little time but to sum it all up...WE ARE SO UNBELIEVABLY BLESSED!!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

{Custom Design} Recipe Cards

I recently made my friend Patty these custom recipe cards. A phenominal cook, "Chef Patty" loves to share recipes with friends and family. Every Christmas I look forward to the family favorite recipes that she gives as little holiday gifts to her friends!

I'd love for this girl to start a food blog of her own {hint hint, PQ!}, as I'm dying to snag some more of her yummy recipes!

Friday, January 28, 2011

{Restaurant Review} IL Fiore

Last night I had a girls' night at IL Fiore, a DELICIOUS Italian restaurant in Collingswood, NJ. Here are my thoughts:

FOOD :: Thumbs Up! {Lots of homemade selections...I had a fresh apricot & asiago salad, the spinach gnocchi and a ricotta filled cannoli for dessert ~ all delish. My fav? The warm, crusty bread served before dinner with an olive oil/balsalmic vinegar dipping mix!}.
ATMOSPHERE :: So So {I'm big on this, BUT I was there with a group of 8 girls, so we created our own atmosphere}!
COST :: Thumbs Up! {Very reasonable....I think the most expensive dish was $15 and it was BYOB}.
CONVENIENCE :: So so {Parking is a little tricky, especially on weekends, but Collingswood is an adorable little town, so a bit of a walk through town is actually enjoyable. MAKE RESERVATIONS...I've seen lines of people waiting to get in on a Saturday night even in the winter}.

Overall, I really liked this restaurant, and I know my husband would love it, so we definitely need to make a second trip. The waiters were phenominal....very attentive and accommodating and even 100% Italian {thick accents and all}!

Teacher friends enjoying some great company!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

{Inspiration} LOVE Rocks!

I am LOVING the newest party Hostess with the Mostess just posted on their's right up my alley! The bright colors, the fun details, the all totally "ROCKS!" A "Little Rockstar" party was one of the themes I was considering for Dean's first birthday, so this caught my eye immediately!

Not only is this great inspiration for all of your Valentine's Day parties, but a lot of these ideas can be used for other party themes. I've been working on Dean's party details and some of my ideas are similar to things in this post {can't give away too much yet!}.

When my love affair with the online blog world began a few years ago, Hostess with the Mostess was one of the very first party blogs that I stumbled upon, and it has been such an inspiration to me ever since. Jen features the finest of the finest parties out there, and I look forward to seeing the latest bash she posts. So much inspiration!

To see the full party post and experience Hostess with the Mostess for yourself, click here!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

{Recipes} Chicken Turnovers

I made these tasty little chicken turnovers for dinner tonight. My friend Mary gave me this recipe, and it's a new favorite!

~ 1 lb boneless chicken breast
~ 1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed according to package directions
~ 1 small onion, chopped
~ 1 tsp dried parsley
~ 1 chicken bouillon cube
~ 1 tbsp cornstarch
~ S&P

1. Place the chicken, chopped onion, S&P and about 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
2. Remove chicken and onions with a slotted spoon and place in food processor with the parsley. Add 1/4 cup of broth. Use pulse setting and process until coarsely chopped. Reserve the rest of the broth to make gravy.
3. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares.
4. Place approximately 1/4 cup of filling into the center of the square. Fold in half to form a triangle and press edges together.
5. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
6. To make gravy, dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water and add to the reserved broth with the bouillon cube. Stir over medium heat until it reaches a low boil.

***These freeze well so you can use at a later time.
***Mary told me she substitutes other fillings in these, too {ham & cheese, steak & cheese, etc}. Mmmmm!
***Mary also suggested making "minis" of these by cutting the puff pastry into smaller squares and using them as appetizers....GREAT IDEA!

The recipe suggested serving the chicken turnovers with mashed potatoes and corn, which sounds really good. I didn't have time to make mashed potatoes tonight, so instead I make steak {potato} fries and zucchini sticks. ***Just slice potatoes and zucchini in strips/wedges, drizzle with a little EVOO, and season with a little S&P. Pop in oven for approximately 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees. {I nuke my potatoes for about 2-3 minutes first to speed along the baking process}.

Thank you for sharing this recipe with me, Mar! I'll have leftovers at work tomorrow for my lunch!


Monday, January 24, 2011

{Home Improvements} Built-in Storage Bench

We are continuing to make progress on the family room. The window alcove has been empty for a few weeks now {pic above}. There is a ton of natural light that shines through those four windows every afternoon, and I know my Gingy girl misses her spot on the old loveseat there. So, she was really happy on Sunday when...

...her Daddy brought home the new storage bench! Bo is still in the process of adding some trim around the bottom {you can see it's not completely finished in the pic}. We've also started shopping for some fabric for the cushion top we'll be adding soon {still have yet to find the right one}.

My father-in-law {with a little help from my husband} built this bench. He used an inspiration picture that I shared in another post as a model. The top lifts open to give us a nice storage area for blankets, toys, whatever. ***It's not really "built-in" because of the radiator that sits behind it. We figured if we ever needed to get back there for any reason, it might be smarter to give the appearance of a "built-in" by adding trim, but not actually nail it into the wall and floor.***

We decided to paint the bench the same gray color as the rest of the trim throughout the downstairs. This color was chosen by the previous owners and I like it okay, but would one day LOVE to paint it all a cream color and add a light, neutral color to the walls to warm up the entire space.

We're adding some wall art and shelving this weekend, touching up some paint, getting some pillows for the sectional, and then HOPEFULLY pics of the completed look next week!

{Crafting} Eleven and We're in Heaven!

My Bubba was 11 months old on Saturday! This year has been such a whirlwind. The blink of an eye....and it's almost OVER. Seriously? Really?

I made Dean's onesie again and used my hot glue gun and some fabric. Easy peasy. Notice the sign I was destroyed in about 30 seconds flat. Ahhhh boys.

Missing my little man right now and wishing we were snugged up on the couch together. Rough night last night....teething is NO JOKE. Mama is running on empty today and can't wait to get home to her baby! 11 months and still only two teeth....they've gotta be up there somewhere?!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

{Invitations} DEAN'S 1ST BIRTHDAY!

The time has finally baby is one month away from officially being a big boy. SIGH SNIFFLE SOB.

His birthday party invitations are done and going in the mail this weekend. I thought I'd give you just a little peek at what's in the works for my "little man's" first birthday party.

Dean's party is going to be small and include only our immediate families, which meant that I could afford to get a little crafty with his invitations since I only had to send a few. ***We'd love to invite more family and some of our close friends, but unfortunately our home wouldn't be able to accommodate everyone comfortably.***

THEME:: Little Mister Mustache Bash
COLORS:: Navy, lime & light turquoise

I decided to make Dean's invite a foldable card, with a front cover and an inside. To set the scene for a "Little Mister Mustache Bash" I cut a mustache and tie from textured scrapbook paper in the party colors for the front cover.

On the inside of the invitation, I included a picture I snapped of my little man in one of his daddy's ties and a newsboy cap. He doesn't sit still for very long and wants NOTHING to do with anything on his head these days, so it was quite a challenge to get a decent shot. ***I actually cut part of his head off in this pic but oh least he was looking at the*** He even kind of looks like a little man with that serious expression...HA! I just LOVE him!

The other side contained the party details. I cut another mustache from the same navy shimmery paper that I used to make the card and included that on the top. We really hope everyone will "Comb Over" and join in on the fun!

I made some simple wrap labels too. I backed them with navy shimmery paper and attached them to the envelopes.

Mister R. Dean Powell is very excited about dropping these in the mail this weekend ;-}

I had a lot of fun making these invites, and I'm looking forward to sharing Dean's other party details with you next month!


{Recipes} Chicken Fiesta

Here's another quick and easy casserole that I made the other night for dinner. This recipe is from Katie Grace Designs.

~ 4-6 boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
~ 4 green onions, diced
~ 1 can chopped green chilies, drained
~ 2 cups whipping cream {I used 1/2 & 1/2}
~ 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
~ 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
~ 2 tbsp butter
~ 2 cups Cheese-it crackers, crumbled
~ 2 tbsp taco seasoning

~ Mix together the crumbled Cheese-it crackers and the taco seasoning
~ Next, roll the boneless chicken breast pieces in the mixture and place in a lightly greased 9x13 pan
~ Sauté the diced green onions in the butter. Add the whipping cream/1/2 & 1/2, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and green chilies
~ Pour this mixture over the coated chicken pieces
~ Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

***I served this over brown rice, and it was delicious!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

{Wall Art} Kaylia

I just completed this wall art for a cute little student at my middle school, Kaylia. Kaylia is a student in the multiple handicapped room, and she loves to chat it up with me while I'm sitting on bathroom duty in the afternoon {as teachers, we are all assigned a duty...mine is bathroom duty....I'm so lucky ;-}. One day she noticed I was working on my laptop, and she peeked over my shoulder to see what I was creating. That's all it took, and the next thing I knew we were discussing ideas for some wall art for her bedroom....HA!

I attached a thick chocolate brown & white polka dot ribbon to the top of this sign, so that she can hang it above her bed {as per her request}. Her bedroom is lime green and chocolate brown with polka dots.

I've already had a few other students bugging me to make signs for them now. Ahhhh....what have I done????!!!! Looks like it's going to be a busy spring ;-}

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

{Decorating} Bargain of the Weekend!

I find so much inspiration from PB, and I LOVE whoever the stylist{s} of their sets are {Side Note :: I'd like YOUR job ASAP, please!}. They do such fabulous work that everytime a new catalog arrives on my doorstep, I'd like just about everything inside. And if my husband and I ever have the opportunity to build our own dream home one day....many of my plans would be built around the style of the homes they feature in their catalog {that old charm but updated and modernized...LOVE it!}. Even though I adore PB, I'm just not willing to spend THAT much money on their products, as beautiful as they may be. And I've found that I {and YOU} don't have to!

Take these lamps for example. They just happen to be on sale in the catalog right now for $100 each.....YIKES....that's a lot for a lamp {and that's only for the base}. Well, on a little weekend shopping trip, I just happened to stumble across a set of great lamps, inspired by PB, but purchased at TJ Maxx. {Please excuse the poor lighting in the photo below as I took it late at night}. I don't usually broadcast how much I spend on items I buy for my home, but this bargain is too good not to share. Are you ready?!?! TWO beautiful cream bubble lamps INCLUDING the drum shades for $30 TOTAL {$15 each}. They are part of the little facelift we are giving to the family room.

See, you don't have to spend a fortune to get your favorite just have to keep your eyes peeled for look-a-likes that won't break the bank!

Careful out there today!!! Ice and rain....YUCK!

Monday, January 17, 2011

{Giveaway} WINNER!

Congratulations to AMY, winner of the Valentine's Day "Be Mine" mini card set! Yay Ame!!!

Thank you so much for participating, everyone! You gave me some great ideas for my Valentine's Day dessert menu. This year I'm going to be trying Krissy's {aka Dainty Chef} lava cakes....Mmmmm! I might have to make a few chocolate covered strawberries too ;-}

***My favorite flowers are the same as my mom's....a beautiful mixed bouquet. HINT HINT to my hubby if he just happens to read this post ~ HA!

***The "Be Mine" mini card sets are available for purchase. $5/set of 8. Contact me via email if interested {}.

Stay tuned for more giveaways in the future!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

{Restaurant Review} Arugula

My husband and I love trying new and interesting restaurants on our date nights, which unfortunately are few and far between these days ;-} When we do get the chance to go out for the evening, we try to eat at one of the places on our "restaurant hit list." Since we're checking these places out, I thought it might be fun to add some restaurant reviews to my blog just in case I have some readers that are fellow foodies.

Arugula has been on our list for a while and last weekend we finally got there. I loved my meal....filet gorgonzola & banana fosters bread pudding for dessert....YUM! Food - positive. BYOB - positive. Fun, funky decor - positive. City-like vibe without having to cross the bridge - positive. Crowded, reservations recommended - negative. A little on the pricey side - negative.

Overall, I give this restaurant two thumbs up and am heading back next week for a girls night out. I hesitate to say too much because sometimes the expectations are not met when there is too much of a build up. So, you'll just have to try it out for yourselves {if you live in South Jersey}! Let me know what you think!

NEXT UP: Il Fiore in Collingswood....I've heard FABULOUS things about this restaurant!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

{Custom Design} Meet Dainty Chef!

I recently had the pleasure of working on a new blog header for Krissy, the culinary goddess behind her fabulous food blog, Dainty Chef. I've been following Dainty Chef since Krissy first started sharing her recipes a few months ago. Now, I'm hooked and have made quite a few of her yummy dishes. Her lava cakes are currently on my Valentine's Day dessert menu!

I created two options for Krissy to choose from for her new blog look. The first look was inspired by an adorable apron her creative mom made her for Christmas. Krissy loved the vintage feel of the apron, so I used some soft, muted colors and added an adorable apron to the design.

The second look is a little more mod with the bold color choices and cooking utensils added along the bottom. This look was inspired by Krissy's wedding colors, which I love!

So, which design do you think Krissy chose for her new blog look? You'll have to wait and see on Monday, which is when she will premiere the new Dainty Chef! Check her out!

***It was so fun working with you, Krissy! Can't wait to see the new look!

{Recipes} Pizza Burgers

I shouldn't have labeled this post as a "recipe" because really, there's nothing to pizza burgers. They are a quick and super simple meal that I usually throw together when I'm eating alone for the night. My hubby just started another graduate class this past week, so rather than cook for myself, I just whipped up some of these babies the night he had class.

Pizza burgers are something my mom made up when my siblings and I were young. She would make these on nights when she and my dad were going out, and we had a babysitter. These are perfect for those nights when you're in a rush or going out but still need to get some sort of dinner on the table for your family.

~ English muffins or bagels {I like to use whole wheat}
~ Spaghetti sauce or meat sauce {I used leftover sauce from a batch of crockpot sausage, peppers & onions I made earlier in the week}
~ Shredded mozzarella cheese or a pizza cheese blend
~ Parmesean shaker cheese
***Any other toppings you might like to add to your pizza burger

~On a lightly greased cookie sheet, place separated muffins or bagels with their inside facing up {you can toast lightly beforehand but don't have to}.
~Scoop your sauce on top of each one {add any additional toppings}
~ Sprinkle with a little parm cheese and then add your mozzarella cheese on top
~ Place in a pre-heated oven {350 degrees} and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

***I also made a green salad to go with my pizza burgers. Bo missed out that night...ha!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

{Home Improvements} Family Room Progress...

We're finally starting to make some real progress in the family room...PHEW! Having a bonus day off because of snow really helped because it gave me a little more of that cherished stuff that I don't seem to have much of these days....ya know, TIME! Thank goodness because I'm not so good with the transition phase of home improvement projects ;-} Here's what we've got so far...

We opted for a comfy sectional instead of a couch, loveseat, and chair like we had before. It's a nice spacesaver, and it allows my hubby and I to be on the same piece of furniture when we settle in for the night and watch a little tv. Our sectional is a light stone color {not brown like pictured above}.

We also decided to go with a leather ottoman since our little man is ALL OVER THE PLACE! Dean's already had a few bumps and bruises and this might help "cushion" any future accidents...oh geez! We opted for a square ottoman instead of a rectangular one because space is an issue, and this is not so big that it overtakes the room.

This is an inspiration picture my husband will be using to build a built-in bench with storage in the window alcove where the loveseat previously sat {see a pic here}. This will provide some additional seating when entertaining guests {not to mention I'm sure Ginger"snaps" will overtake that space immediately as she loves looking out those windows}. Once completed, I'll finish it off with a cushion top and probably some soft, fluffy pillows.

Lastly, in addition to some shelving, I'm thinking about doing something similar to the above pic to one of the walls in my family room {pic from How Does She}. I love canvases, but the same look could be accomplished just by using picture frames.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

{Giveaway} Be Mine

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and I've been working on some cute little cards that I wanted to share with YOU! These come as a set of 8 small {3x3} foldable cards with a pale pink background fill. "Be Mine <3" adorns the front and the inside is blank so you can write your own little LOVE messages.

~ Valentines for your child's school friends
~ Valentines for your child's babysitters, day care workers, siblings, grandparents, aunts&uncles, cousins, etc.
~ Frame and use as a Valentine decoration around the house
~ Attach to ribbon and use as a banner/garland to decorate for Valentine's Day or string across a dessert buffet or fireplace mantle
~ Use one per day in the days leading up to Valentine's Day to leave your hubby some SWEET messages ***wink wink nudge nudge*** HA!

HOW TO ENTER {Choose one of the following}::
1. Become a follower of Studio LIME Design {leave me a comment on this post letting me know you did so!}
2. Tell me your favorite Valentine's Day dessert
3. Tell me your favorite flower {that's a hint to the gentlemen to surprise their ladies with a beautiful bouquet of flowers ;}

***Please be sure to include your email with your comment, so I can contact you if you win***

***Winner will be chosen via***

Monday, January 17th at 12 noon. I will announce the winner later that same day!

Have a SWEET Tuesday!

Monday, January 10, 2011

{Inspiration} Rustic Winter Ice Skating Party

Need a little winter inspiration? Check out this lovely rustic winter ice skating party created by Beautiful Days. I think I've died and gone to is so perfect!

I'm totally drooling over all of these beautiful details {many more pics on their blog}. LOVE the hot cocoa bar....such an adorable idea for a winter ice skating party!

Keep warm out there because BABY, IT'S COLD! We're "hopefully" going to get hit with buckets of snow on Wednesday. If it means I get to spend the day home with my boy, then bring it on!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

{Home Improvements} Repurposing

One thing I know but never quite seem to remember is that "quick and simple" home improvement projects ALWAYS take longer than originally planned. After all our home improvement trials and tribulations, you think I'd have learned that concept.! The family room IS making some progress: we have our new couch, the tv cabinet is on it's way, and we just ordered an ottoman. will still be a few weeks before the room is complete.

Why a pic of my master bedroom? Well, because I wanted to show how "old" furniture can be repurposed to fit other needs. I'd been wanting a bench at the foot of our bed for some time. I couldn't quite find one I loved. Once Bo and I decided to freshen up the family room a little, we decided that a leather ottoman would be softer and safer for our on-the-go and almost walking boy! I'm not usually sentimental about holding onto furniture, but I didn't want to let go of my old ottoman, which is actually an inexpensive little trunk from Target. I don't know...there is something about it that I just love. So, it became the bench at the foot of our bed. I love when that happens :-}

Have a great Monday, everyone! I'm actually enjoying this cold wintery weather believe it or not. Don't worry, by the end of February I'll be crying the winter blues and dying for a glimpse of spring ;-}

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

{Inspiration} Pom Runner

OoooOooo how I LOVE LOVE LOVE this pom runner idea found on Simply Creative Insanity's blog. I tend to lean more in the direction of a runner as opposed to a table cover, so this look is right up my alley! And it gives me some great inspiration for my little man's upcoming bday party. My party color scheme is in a very similar color family as the picture above except I'm swapping out one of those lighter colors for a more masculine color {ya know, because I have a BOY!}. You'll see soon!

This would be so adorable for a baby or bridal shower, too?!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

{Invitations} Stefanie & Jason's Wedding Suite

I just finished up wedding invitations and matching response cards for my girlfriend from work, Stefanie, and her fiance, Jason. These invites combined a fairly simple scroll design with a fun royal blue font color, which is the color of Stef's bridesmaids' dresses. These were printed on an ivory cardstock and paired with ivory envelopes. I can't wait to see how all of Step's details come together over the next few months for her April 2011 wedding!

Monday, January 3, 2011

{Home Improvements} And So it Continues...

The home improvement projects have crept from the kitchen into the family room. Ahhh! One of my New Year's resolutions is to simplify, and although it seems like I'm making things more complex, the improvements really are an effort to simplify life {and all our stuff} a little!

Here's a "before" shot of our family room. This was the set I bought for my first apartment. It was simple, neutral, and comfortable, but that set-up provided no space for my boy to play or a storage area for his toys. So, it was time to update things a bit. Thankfully, the old furniture sold and was picked up this afternoon, just in time for the new furniture to arrive tonight. The room is not even close to being done yet, but I've got lots of ideas. Let's just say a trip to Home Goods is already in the works for this coming weekend!

The deadline for completion of all our home improvement projects is mid-February. I'll be hosting my son's first birthday party at the end of that month, and all of this madness needs to be finished by then! I will post "after" shots as we progress.

~ New & improved {space-wise} family room
~ Kitchen renovations {new floor & small built-in}
~ Stef & Jason's wedding suite
~ Krissy's new blog header
~ Patty's custom recipe cards
~ Dean's 1st birthday party invitations

Sunday, January 2, 2011

{Recipes} Crockpot Beef Stew

Well, I'm back in the kitchen after a week of vacation. We spent almost every night last week either out to dinner, at someone's home for dinner, or eating was SO NICE and gave me a break from cooking.

It's back to reality now and in this cold January weather, there's nothing I love more than a good beef stew. I threw this recipe together tonight and just need to start the crockpot in the morning before I leave for work. I'm pairing my stew with some crusty bread.

~ 1 pound stew meat, cut into bite sized pieces
~ 2 potatoes, peeled & cubed
~ 3 carrots, sliced {I used baby carrots}
~ 1 onion, sliced
~ 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
~ 2 cups beef broth

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Makes 4-6 servings.

***I'll let you all know how this is after I have some for dinner tomorrow night! And I will post a pic of the finished product!

{UPDATE}: Mmmmm! This was very yummy! I added some peas, and it needed a little S&P but other than that, PERFECT! Dean had a little stew too ;-}

***In all honesty, I'm TOTALLY bummed about heading back to work tomorrow morning. What a treat it was to be home all week with my family. Luckily, after a little pick-me-up chat with my number one girl {my mama}, I'm feeling better and keeping my head up! I have a great job, the BEST babysitters in the entire world for my sweet boy, and SO MUCH to be thankful for and look forward to in 2011! Although it does majorly stink to be heading back to work, I'm going to do my best to kick off the first Monday of the NEW YEAR on a positive note. Wishing the same for all of you. Blessings to you & yours in 2011!