Friday, May 31

home improvements

We found a whole unopened gallon of paint in our basement that matches the main room of our new house. Originally I had imagined changing the color somewhat, but with that much extra for touch-ups, the slightly purple neutral look will work for us or a while. I took the can into Lowes to have them help me get a shade darker for the kitchen and guest bathroom. We did some pretty extensive wall repair while we were at it.

Here are some before/progress pics:

The blue was lovely, but not our style.

We found some very creative former color schemes when we removed some trim.

And here is our new look.

Lighting is different, but the kitchen and bathroom are the same color and the mirrored wall was not changed.

I like the higher contrast between the walls and white cabinetry in the kitchen. We get lots of natural light, so I wasn't too concerned with a darker paint color. My parents gifted us the IKEA cabinet on the right. It's from their Liatorp collection, and I really like the look. We considered completely removing the old phone jack. I know we certainly won't use it for its intended purpose, but the concern was resale, so Patrick found a hack that will turn it into a power source for some track lighting in the cabinet. Win-win.

Sunday, May 19


Fuchsia might be my favorite flower of all time.

This lovely hanging plant was a gift from my parents. My dad picked it out from the Dale City farmers market while he was visiting, and it's been thriving on our back deck ever since.

Thursday, May 16

the garden

The peonies in our front yard have finally bloomed. They are drooping from the weight of their own magnificence, but wow, are they ever magnificent!

This week while my dad was in town, we accomplished several household projects, the most significant was landscaping. We (Dad mostly) took out the apple tree that was threatening our sewer line and one of the overgrown azaleas. We'll see if the other azalea does ok with the major pruning it received. We added a mountain laurel that will be blooming any day now, and a brick edging that gives the whole space a very polished look even though it's not completely planted yet.

Before (particularly bleak looking because it was before anything bloomed)

Our little helper!

Epic azalea battle.

Brick edging and a clean slate.

We also repainted the front door and got started on the shutters. On the back deck, we planted tomatoes, zucchini, (ghost!) peppers, strawberries, and a small herb garden in containers. One tomato plant perished in the weird late season frost this week, but everything else seems to be going strong.

Spiffy new door color.

Veggies and herbs on the back deck.

Saturday, May 4

monkey cake pops

My second big baking project of the weekend was cake pops for a fabulous two-year-old's birthday party. The theme was Curious George, so I went for monkeys. The pops are made of chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and chocolate candy melts. As you can see from my process pics, the monkey face shape is formed with an M&M, and the eyes are a Trader Joe's sprinkle. The ears are mini chocolate chips. I used a Wilton edible pen for the finer details - which didn't work on the candy as well as I would have liked.

My plan was to photograph the pops at the party, but by the time I had greeted friends and ate half a sandwich they were almost gone! I received many sweet comments on the look and taste, but perhaps the best compliment of all was the fact that only two remained when we sang and cut the cake.

Thursday, May 2

rose cupcakes

I made these charming rose candies to top cupcakes for a rose-themed shower. I used a Wilton candy mold and melts in pink, orange, and red to get a variety of rosy colors.

The cupcakes are from a favorite spice cake recipe. At this point I don't remember where it came from, but it's pretty straight forward. I love the flavor, and like most cakes made with buttermilk, the texture turns out moist and delicious as well. The only downside to these cupcakes is they always seem a little flat. I've varied the baking time and mixing strategies, and no matter what I try they just don't puff. It's a flaw I'm willing to overlook. I have fun adding dimension with topping. Enter the cloud style frosting, in cream cheese flavor, and the roses. Yum!