Monday, January 28, 2013

Snowball men!

I'm sure you read my last post about the cake ball situation...well, here's my experience:

First, I find the boxed cake mix and the icing. Get all excited come home and bake it, which is just mean. Baking a cake, which you can't EAT yet (mean- just cruel!) So the next morning, I break it apart, start mixing in the icing and stuff, roll it into balls- which let's talk about that for a second, shall we?

Red velvet cake mix is DYED red. Which means, when you rub it all over your hands, several times over, your hands become red (should have thought about this a little...) but I wanted to follow the directions- she uses red velvet so I use red velvet. So I roll 'em all up, shape them into little pear shapes, and put them into the refrigerator until Saturday afternoon...

I didn't want my mom to see her birthday cake (balls) until they were all done- but since she got dinner started early in the afternoon, she had to go home and change, I had the perfect window to start the ball process!

Thankfully my bestie, Cai, was on hand to help a sista out. She's all into baking from scratch (I'm more of a boxed girl...) and so I thought she'd be the perfect assistant to help me decorate the little balls! Well, as we were mid-pushing-the-pretzel-arms-into-the-ball she says, "I think he's going to be an amputee" 

It kinda went downhill from there.

After her second snowman she asked if she could be the 'dotter'. I said sure and continued in my happy little snowman induced happy-place. (Who knew I'd enjoy decorating little cake balls so much?!) Once they had little faces, they really came alive! Like, they just needed hats!

The directions called for tiny little cookies, with chocolate chip cookies on top to look like hats. However,  I couldn't find the cookies they asked for, so I bought some cookies which I thought said, "MINI" fudge cookies...turns out, I get home, it says MINT. Fail. Which meant their little snowmen heads were going to be really cold! 

See, with just a chocolate chip on top, chilly snowmen. Awwww...

And we didn't want to have snowmen with cold heads, so Cai decided to use the MINT cookies (not mini) and here was the result:
Looks like he's wearing a sombrero, right?

 Well, hand a girl some icing and she gets carried away- see that one snowman, middle row, third one back? See how he looks all ANGRY?! Right. So we had an angry snowman, one wearing a sombrero and one with only one arm! 

Can I just tell you though, how much FUN we had making our little snowmen? Might not be exactly what Bakerella had in mind...

...but laughing with my bestie while making something for my mom was so much fun! When mom came back, in her new shirt, she was so excited looking at our little creations! And, let me point out...see in the Bakerella photo, she uses those little chocolate sprinkles for arms? Yeah, I feel like, even though one of ours was an amputee (because the candy coating dried too fast...) the pretzels were awesome! That salty/sweet combination...mmmmm!

And what party isn't complete without a glass of wine that holds an ENTIRE bottle of wine? Just to be sure, we emptied the fresh bottle into the glass, what do ya know- they were right!! mmm

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pops or balls?

Go figure, I adore pretty pictures. Of nothing specific, just things that are pretty. Pretty colors, pretty people, pretty landscapes (specifically of a beach...our high today is like, 18. Degrees. Fahrenheit.)

Soooo pretty!
It should come as so surprise that while browsing the book section at Target just before Christmas I came across Cake Pops by Bakerella, and instantly fell in love. I mean, look at the colors!!! Well, like most Christmas gifts, you play with them for a few days and then they become ancient history. (Oh, please, don't act like your the ONE person in the whole world who remembers every gift they opened...and subsequently played with it throughout the rest of December and into January.) I don't feel bad about opening my gift, googling (and drooling, a little) at the pages and all the prettiness of the pages and then, like most things, it got put away (because I do NOT believe in about pet peeves...) on a shelf, that I actually look at every day...but you know, its all the way over theeeeeere and I'm alllllll the way over heeeeeeeere. (Sometimes I can be the most lazy person, ever. Just ask The hubs. I swear, if I could train JTWD (Jack The Wonder Dog) how to fetch mama a glass of wine...)

And just to prove a point, although it came out of a boxed kit, I did manage to make these fierce lookin' Snowmen cupcakes for New Years day...with the help of my bestie!

See his little orange triangle nose? Yeah...he was totally cute, and tasty!

Ok, so my mom's birthday is on Monday and I was thinking "oh how fun, I should bake her a cake! What kind of cake should I make her..." I'm totally 1000% partial to Pillsbury Funfetti cake. Why? Because its perfect. Just the right amount of yum to my gums and I'm a sucker for sprinkles. Why? Because they are PRETTY!!! So having a cake with sprinkles INSIDE and OUTSIDE? Hello...have we met? GET IN MY BELLY!

And then it hit me. Like a thunder bolt- go look at the book you haven't opened since December 26th! So I did. And it was even prettier than I remembered!! All the cakes and the cake pops and the SPRINKLES! and the clever ideas!! Ahhh, I'm a sucker for imaginative people (and add sprinkles to that imagination? Your right up there next to like, Mickey Mouse. And that's HUGE!)
Ohhh look at you beautiful sprinkles!!

Now I'm all excited to go buy my supplies and get 'er baking. Pretty sure I'm gonna start off nice and slow and just make regular, simple cake pops (or, I like to call 'em cake balls. Because that just makes me giggle...hehe)

Doesn't it just make you smile??
Oh, and no lie. I almost spat out my coffee while reading all the directions, specifically the part where it says, "yields 48 cake pops"...FORTY EIGHT?! I mean...I'm a girl who likes to eat, but uhm, I don't want my teef to rot from all that sugar because that's just not sexy and totally gross. Ewww.

So here's my plan of attack: I will make all the cake, but only decorate like half of 'em. I'm only hosting like, 10 people max. at the birthday festivities...which means if each person eats two (wait...lemme grab my calculator. Ohhh- that's simple math...that's only like 20 cake balls!) yeah, so I can make like 20-ish and then toss the rest? I found some ideas in the book to try...

Mummy balls for my mommy? ha!
Or should I stick with lil' cupcake-lookin' guys?

Ahhhh, ok, here's another thing that bothers me about this. Waste. Ever since reading The Hunger Games, and she's all "we're only able to eat stale bread and weasel..." (or squirrel...or some kind of other random meat) I hate the idea of wasting food. I mean, my parents were all "there are kids starving in Africa"...but that didn't really hit home quite like The Hunger Games did. So now if I bake the cake, and WASTE the cake, what kind of gift am I really giving to my mom besides causing MORE children in Africa to go hungry all because I didn't invite more people to her party???!?!?!?!?!

I might be over thinking this.

I mean, do those little kiddos even have milk to properly enjoy a cupcake with? Should I make a donation to some charity and request that they use my money to buy milk so that they can enjoy my cake balls? Ok, that I put it in that context, I understand why Bakerella chose cake POPS instead of balls. Ha. See, your giggling, right? Of course you are. Who can say 'balls' without laughing. Except maybe an ESPN reporter or something, but that's their job. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Navy drapes?

Yesterday I'm at a client's home.

She was so excited to have me come out and help her for the hour (she assured me, I will keep you for a full 60 minutes, or 59 minutes and 59 seconds...however you'd like to put it!) that when I walked in she had all the pictures lined up (that she didn't know where to put them), along with some iron pieces and of course, the two CUTEST puppies.

Now, let me get off topic for a second. I love animals. I volunteer with the local SPCA and I spoil our puggle, Jack, as much as I can. (Which is why he's got his own This is one of the biggest perks of my job that I've found so far, getting to play with new animals all the time.

So I walk in and she's all, "Oh my gosh, HI ERIN!" We shake hands and I look down. At two of the cutest dogs, ever! A pug and a beagle. (Uhm, HELLO??? Jack is a PUG-GLE half pug and half beagle!) they both had the sweetest little faces, happy tails and loved being pet on their heads! Bella, the pug, followed us into every room and when I had a spare minute, she requested my hands be on her head...behind her ears, on her know, wherever they fit!)

Ok, back to navy drapes.

I find a spot on all the walls for the pictures and iron pieces she had, even picked out a paint color for the guest bathroom and then we start talking about drapes for the dining room windows and family room.

me: for the family room, I'm thinking something icy blue. Very subtle pattern, if you even want one
her: ok. and for the dining room?
me: I'm thinking navy blue drapes
her: (giggles) navy?
me: yup
her: (giggles again) navy?
me: navy. navy blue. It would give a really dramatic look to this wall and make it a touch more formal than the opposite side of the room (now I start wondering if she's thinking I'm a nutter for suggesting navy because she's getting a little dazed look...wait, was that a nervous giggle?)
her: I. Love. It.
me: (oh thank GOD!) Great!

Turns out her husband loves navy (which is a total win-win because I really like making both parties happy when I do someone's home).

Here's a link to a set of navy drapes that I absolutely love! (Oh, and just a heads up, I love looking at regular stores for items for my clients, not just "designer" stores. Why? Because I'm a firm believer that great design is everywhere and shouldn't be limited to the size of your bank account...unless of course you like that sorta which case- email me! hehe)

I know Pantone is saying Emerald Green is the color for 2013...but I tell you, for me, its navy blue. I love everything about it. And, while I'm talking about emerald green...anyone notice the earrings Beyonce was wearing at the Presidential Inauguration? Emeralds. Huge, almost-as-big-as-my-head emeralds.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Granite junkie

One of the many awesome perks of my career is being able to educate my clients about the products we are buying or installing in their home. For instance, when most people think of granite counter tops, they don't picture this:

 Or this:

Why? Because its not pretty. We live in a society where things must arrive pretty. We don't like to know where the meat actually comes from...I mean, we know its from a cow, but when the supermarket wraps it up, all pretty in the plastic, with the stickers and kinda forget it used to moo. Or oink.

Anyway, back to those pictures, wanna know what those are? Those are photos of granite quarries. Yup- the beautiful stone you are used to seeing in kitchens and bathrooms, that people take such great care of, that some people even insist on using coasters on,  that people get crazed about having to seal...come from dirty, dusty, rusty quarries like the ones above. So going from the above, to something that looks like this:

 Or even something like this:

...tends to make people does that all happen? Like, what's the process? Well, here's a little breakdown for you. Once they blow the stone off the side of the rock mountains (honestly, they drill a hole through the mountain, fill it with some kind of explosive, blast it off...cut it down to size and then...), its shipped to wherever. (Yes, this is going to be a very technical education on granite...can't you tell?!) Once it arrives at wherever, lets say, your local granite shop, they have a few ways of displaying's a pretty way to display it in their showroom...(this is Chippewa Stone's showroom and warehouse, below)

And you say, "but that's not what I really had in mind..." they say, "ok, lets go look at slabs..."

Some counter top places have their slabs outside and some have indoor yards. Living in Ohio, I much prefer using companies that have the ability to do INDOOR viewing of their time I had a client tell me, "don't you think leaving the slabs outside is just, asking for someone to come and steal them?" After I giggled to myself, I explained that each slab weighs upwards of a few thousand pounds- and no, not European pounds...So I wouldn't be too concerned.
At first it can be overwhelming looking at all these slabs of granite...which are HUGE. I mean, I'm  5'-6" and I'm tiny compared to the slabs! There have been granite showrooms I've been in which have football stadium sized warehouses. So, be sure to wear your walking shoes while viewing granite...this is NOT the time to wear the cute kitten healed, pointy toed shoes. Leave 'em in the car.

What's great though about viewing the slabs is you get to layout your kitchen (or bathroom) counter. So, if you like a particular swirl or veining through one piece, you can request that be used in a certain area.

Now, let's talk about samples for one minute. If you're one of those people who says, "the sample I took home doesn't look a thing like that slab..."  I always tell my clients, if you have a sample of granite that you love, love, love and now you want to make a selection based on that sample, always view your slab. Why? Because that one little fleck in the granite sample that you fell in lurv are GUARANTEED to not get that fleck in your slab. Hate to burst bubbles, but I'm all about telling it like it is.

And, while samples are a great tool to use to help your hubby understand what direction your heading in, its not a tool to be used to make a final decision on. (Ok, now I'm jumping off my soap box...)

...and that ladies and gentlemen is Granite 101.

(Here's a picture of a slab I absolutely LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!!!) Swoon!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hinges say WHAAAAA??

A funny thing happens when your an interior designer.
You're constantly in other people's homes, changing things, so I have found that our home has become more of a place of quietude. I only buy things that I really love. I only put holes in the walls when I love where the picture is going...(there was a time, when I went through a phase where I was changing picture positions often, resulting in a "swiss cheese" look on the wall, which the hubs pointed out with disgust) but since then, I've been very good at only putting things where I absolutely love them.

With that being said, 6+ years ago, we purchased our home. When we first walked in the first thing I noticed was the brushed nickel hardware on all the doors. Downstairs. When we walked up the stairs, it was a different story. Everything, everywhere was polished brass. EEK!

I made a vow (very similar to the one I made to the hubs...only a little different) that I would make the switch. I would change all the door hardware to brushed nickel. EVERYWHERE.

Well, over the years, I got busy doing other people's homes. Making other people's homes perfect for them. All the while, coming home and seeing my polished brass hardware. I made a change. I bought a brushed nickel privacy lock for the master bedroom. And then a few weeks later, got one for the master bathroom.

Then I stopped.


Oh a little thing called working...and then being pregnant, and then, duh(!) the guess what I just finished doing today. FINALLY, after almost 7 years. GUESS?!?! I put the last screw in place on all the new door hardware.

Can I get a WHAT-WHAT?!?! (what-what!!!)

Amen to that sister.

And, to get my free shipping, I ended up replacing all three of our toilet seats as well! (Might be a sad day in some people's lives when new toilet seats arrive on their front porch. For me? I was bouncing around like a school girl on crack!) Thankfully our son is of the age where he likes to help, with everything, so while I installed the new toilet seat yesterday, he helped mama by holding it in place. My lil' helper!

Ok, so you might be wondering..."Erin, what does any of this have to do with the title of your post?" Here's how it all connects.

When the builder put in the polished brass hardware, he also put in polished brass hinges. So, for all the downstairs doors, with the brushed nickel hardware, having the polished brass hinges made me a little pukey (yes, I just made pukey a word.) And so I started the hunt for satin nickel (or brushed, depending upon your site of choice) hinges. I came up with a seller on Amazon...40 hinges, for like $25! Say WHA? So I get all ready to place my order, and guess what? The SHIPPING is $23. I'm sorry...say HU?

So I cancelled the order and started again.

This time with my friends over at Well, as cost effective as they could get ' was still going to be a hunk of change for new hinges. Lame.

So today, on a whim, after having lunch with grandma, lil' man and I headed into the bright orange box. (Where, several times now, cashiers have stopped me to say, "he's in here a lot...does he have a kiddo apron?" or something to the like...) ANYWAY, guess what? They not only have satin nickel hinges on sale, but they are on sale for ONE. DOLLAR.


I start rumaging through the box like a caged animal looking for my hinges, and come up with one. One satin nickel hinge. Of course there are about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 polished brass hinges. But really...who wants those? Not this caged animal. So I hunt down an orange apron, asking how do we acquire more of these coveted hinges...only to find out that the closest store, about 35 miles from where I live, has "about 20". "But I need 27" "well then you're 7 short, hu." Thank you captain obvious.

He encouraged me to go to the service desk, I'm sure he was sensing my willingness to throw down, and ask them for more assistance. Turns out I get the most AMAZING customer service girl, EVER, Liz, who called not one, not two, but THREE stores...(even got snippy with the one store, "well if you're too busy to help me, may I speak to your manager? Oh, he's busy too? Well then how about your STORE manager. Thank you"...haha, it was EPIC watching her!)

And now, its all settled. My 27 hinges are waiting for me at the orange store that's only 15 miles from my house, and I'm planning that tomorrow at this time, they will all have a nice, new home on the doors in our home :)

And that, is why I say "Hinges say WHAAAAAAAA????"