Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, baby!

Yesterday was my favorite Canadian's birthday...
my husband! :)

My son and I made him a simple chocolate layer cake with a rich, chocolately, ganache-like frosting {his favorite!} 

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met such a loving, devoted, creative man that's blessed me even further with our darling son :)  

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!  
We love you!

Below: getting a little help blowing out the candles :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Joys of Summer

Is it just me, or does summer seem to be flying by?  I can hardly believe that the patriotic holidays of the 4th of July and Canada Day are a thing of memory now.  Before you know it, we'll see the familiar sight of school buses driving through the neighborhood (shhh, don't tell the kids!) 

So while we still can, we should be savoring these lazy days of summer and soaking in their unabated sunshine and carefree attitude. 

Here are a few ways to fill those days with what are certain to give you and your family plenty of summer sweet memories to come:
  • Take a drive (with your windows down) to treat everyone to ice cream cones.
  • Go swimming!
  • Pack a picnic and head to a shady spot.
  • Hang your clothes out on the line to dry for that fresh summer breeze scent.
  • Visit a farmers market for fresh summer produce.
  • Make your own fruity popsicles from scratch.
  • Go bike riding!
  • Take a hike through the woods.
  • Go barefoot in the grass.
  • Run through a sprinkler.
  • Grill something out (burgers, pizza, veggies, chicken, etc...so many things to choose from!)
  • Take your family camping (or just spread out a blanket in the backyard and star gaze).
  • Catch fireflies! Pure summer magic!
  • Check out a carnival or head to the fair!  What's more quintessentially summer than a carnival midway?
  • Go for a summer night stroll.
  • Dine al fresco!
  • Press summer flowers for keepsakes.
  • Go berry picking!
  • Pick summer herbs for herbal vinegars.
  • Check out flea markets, garage sales, tag sales, and outdoor markets for all kinds of unique finds.
  • Plan a family car trip.
  • Enjoy a baseball game (even if it's just the kids in the backyard).
  • Play old-fashioned games like hopscotch, kickball, flashlight tag, etc...
  • Draw a mural with sidewalk chalk.
  • Use summer lighting: paper lanterns, tiki torches, citronella candles, etc...
  • Swing on a swingset or tire swing.
  • Lose the dress shoes and sneakers and don colorful flip flops.
  • Lighten up your house decor with fluttery, light fabrics and curtains that let in the sunshine.
  • It's not too late to plant quick growing veggies like radishes in the garden!  
  • Pick up a bouquet of sunflowers to adorn your summer table. 
  • If you live near the beach, go seashell collecting.
  • Sparklers aren't just for holidays, use them on summer evenings just for fun!

I hope you're enjoying this summer, and getting every last drop of joy out of these beautiful, sun-filled days!  

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Dishes

 My Farmer's Market dinnerware set is my favorite summer dinnerware.  There's just something so cute about it ~ perfect for casual summer dining (even picnics!)

5 or so years ago, I bought a few sets of these super cute, farm-stand dishes at Walmart. I used them for the summer season, and then packed them away in a spare room closet to make room for fall and holiday dishes. BIG MISTAKE!

In our house, once things get packed away, good luck trying to dig them back out! They soon became buried 4-5 layers deep at the backmost corner of the closet. Each summer, I'd ask my husband to help me dig them out and yet, there they remained.

Well, I wasn't going to let yet another summer season pass me by without them! What good is having seasonal dinnerware if you never use it, right?! And we all know that men just don't understand the urgency of all things seasonal and decorative!

So after asking and asking, I took it upon myself  a couple of years ago to tackle the closet and find those dishes!

And I'm proud to say - viola! I dug them out!

And here are the salad plates and mugs on my kitchen shelf...sooo cute!

They were even cuter than I remembered! I knew the mugs and salad plates were decorated, but I didn't know that the insides of the bowls were, too! And the mugs...oh my! The mugs are HUGE 16 oz. mugs! Nice and weighty! And decorated all the way around!

It was worth digging them out! Even though I just about died moving all of the boxes (and having the dish boxes literally crumble apart in my hands as I was trying to wrangle them out of the closet!!)

I'm glad I bought them when I did; I haven't seen them since!  I have seen similar dessert plates selling for more than this entire dinnerware set!  Yikes!

What is your favorite summer dinnerware? 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Every dog has his day...

And today is 
Oliver's 14th Birthday!   

...because every birthday is special,
but celebrating #14 for any dog 
is quite the milestone!

So to celebrate this monumental occasion,
I baked an extra special doggie cake!

Happy Birthday, Ollie!  

Psst, I'll let you in on a little secret...
the best part about this cake was how simple and inexpensive it was!

I bought a $1.00 yellow cake mix at the grocery store and then asked the bakery if they'd sell me some ready-made buttercream. They sold me 1lb. of it for $4 (cheaper than buying the ingredients to mix it myself - plus a nice timesaver!)

I baked one 8x8 sheet cake and one, mini, round springform cake for the dog bowl (forgot I even had the pan. I bought it at Walmart a few years back for a couple of dollars).  I trimmed the top of the mini round cake off and hollowed it out about 1/3 of the way in the center so it would resemble a dog food bowl.

Then I trimmed the sheet cake a bit smaller (about 6x6) so it'd be nice and square.

I frosted it all with buttercream and then rolled out the fondant (I already had some on hand so I didn't have to buy any)

The pawprints I cut free-hand with a knife.  The letters for the bowl were cut out with mini alphabet cookie cutters.

The "dog food" in the bowl is simply Coco Puffs Cereal adhered with buttercream.

The Westie on top was made from two leftover pieces of cake stacked on top of each other. The nose, eyes, and tongue are pieces of fondant.

The little flag was made from a piece of craft foam and a broken skewer stick, and I cut the numbers out of another piece of foam and glued them on.

Easy peasy!

 Happy 14th Oliver!
We love you!