Monday, August 31

now with pictures

My pictures are showing on my post now. Not sure what happened earlier. The pics were showing this morning, but I guess they decided to hide this afternoon. :)
http://www.sweetsimplicityblog.com/2009/08/wide-open-spaces.html
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Wide Open Spaces

**not sure why my pictures weren't displaying this afternoon. they were showing this morning. you should be able to see them now.**

Ty and I headed to our hometown this weekend to celebrate his mom's birthday. We stayed with my family Friday night and had a great time catching up with everyone. Our parents live less than 10 minutes from each other. It is so nice to be able to see everyone in one trip.

Ty's Dad is a veterinarian and has a big clinic and lots of land. There are always different animals around their property. There are usually some horses around and I have always wanted to ride them. But for some reason never have. I guess there is always too much activity going on at his house, although you would think that I would have sometime over the last decade.

Doug was excited that someone wanted to ride the horses and saddled up three of them for him, Ty and me to ride. This was my first time on a horse since I was a little girl.
Yes, I am wearing skinny jeans and a ruffled top and Ty is wearing plaid shorts. We are definitely city folk now!

I rode on Bulldozer.


I wish I would have taken my camera with me, but I wasn't too sure how I would handle it all. And let's face it my pants are too tight to fit anything in my pocket. It was a gorgeous day and the land was beautiful and I was sad that I didn't have my camera.



Toward the end we herded some cattle from one field to another.
{okay, so I just hung back, but I was there!}

My goodness I was sore that night and the next day. (and still today.) It was a lot of fun and I hope we have time to do it again on our next visit.

Riding around on the golf cart
We went out to the wildlife refuge and had a picnic. Ty and I bought his mom this oilcloth table cloth for her birthday.


I'm not much of a hiker, but we did have a good time!

Ty is one of four children. Not everyone could be there for the weekend, but his younger sister and her husband made it. They got married at the end of July. Now all of his siblings are married. The original four kids plus the four in-laws all mesh so well and we always have so much fun together.
Jesse and I took an in-law picture.
Isn't this the most akward picture ever?! haha!


Ty with his mom and sister.

The beautiful sunset we saw from the top of the "mountain." Mountains in my state are pretty small, but a mountain nonetheless.


Please note that we were at the top of the mountain when the sun set. It was a pretty dim hike down. Lots of memories were made on that hike! :)


We had a great trip home on Sunday with a couple of fun stops that I will post about tomorrow.


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Friday, August 28

fab target finds

I was reading According to Nina yesterday and she wrote about these great rosette tees at Target. I fell in love with them and decided to head to target after work. It comes in red too.


Unfortunately, the location I went to was out of my size and barely had any left. I'm going to check a couple of other locations though. Fingers crossed!


I did find a couple of other tops that reminded me of a few j.crew items.

I loved this scalloped shirt when j.crew put it in stores, but it did not fit me right.

This shirt came in a ton o' colors.


I love finding good deals and I love reading about them on blogs, so I wanted to share with all of you.

So head to the nearest target and shop, shop, shop! I didn't do a price comparison on these products, but I'm sure there is at least a $20-$40 difference! You can't beat the tarjay prices!!


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Thursday, August 27

Pretty Paper Printables

I have a weakness for stationery and all paper products! I love to do lists and searched the internet to find a cute template. I came across a lot more than cute to do lists and wanted to share my finds with you.

The BEST part is these are all free downloads that you can print off at home!

I came across a great site, vintageglamblog.com that has tons of free downloads from stationery, to wine labels to calendars.
Calendar
I have August sitting on my work desk right now.


I love this to do list from erinvaledesign.com!
{my mom will not appreciate the word freaking, so just ignore it mom. ok?}
Notepad
I printed the freaking never ending to do list and took them to Chesley last week to celebrate her first official week at school as a speech path.


Then I discovered this great site, One Pretty Thing. She has rounded up tons of free templates and has links to them all.
Printable Roundup

I also discovered Heirloom Paperie. Every Friday she posts a new free template and offers $5 specials on some of her other items.
I found this to do list on her site. Sorry, I couldn't post the actual to do list. Apparently, blogger does not like PDFs. But you can see the header.
I can do hard things.

You all will have to let me know if you come across a great paper template! I hope you enjoy these!
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Wednesday, August 26

we have a winner!

Thank you SO much to all who entered my giveaway! I loved reading each and every entry. It seems like we all started blogging for various reasons, but kept at it because of this amazing, little community!




Drumroll please.......


Hannah D., you are the winner!


"I'd love to enter - what a fabulous giveaway, thanks so much! I started blogging because I got a little puppy (Queen B) who had me up at 4 a.m. every morning which = TONS of free time! I started reading blogs in that free time and then started my own not too long after."


You should visit her blog. It's so cute!


Send me an e-mail at
sweetsimplicityblog{at}gmail{.}com
and let me know which magazine you want and how you want your monogram to read.



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Tuesday, August 25

giveaway!!

It is time for me to do a giveaway! Yay! I have been very lucky at winning giveaways this year and it is time to pass that on to someone else.


One lucky person will win a monogrammed oilcloth lunch sack:
I have not purchased the lunch sack yet, since it will be personalized with the winner's monogram. So this is not the exact design.
I take my lunch to work almost everyday. I have been using old wal-mart and target sacks to carry my lunch in, but I would much rather carry my lunch in one of these cute sacks! Plus it will fold up nicely to fit in my purse to actually make it back home at the end of the day unlike when I carry an actual lunch box. Okay, now I really need one! :)
AND a magazine subscription to either Southern Living or Marie Claire, winner's choice.



I love both of these magazines!

To enter please leave a comment telling me why and when you started blogging and if you don't have a blog tell me why you read blogs.
I will pick the winner via random integer tomorrow at noon. Good luck!
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Monday, August 24

very addicting

This weekend I had a couple of events to attend, so I decided to make cake balls. They have been all over blog land for a while and they always looked so yummy! I think that Bakerella started the phenomenon.
{picture courtesy allrecipes.com}

These little desserts were a huge hit Saturday night! A couple from church invited us over along with two other couples and their kids. It was such a nice evening! One of the guys kept saying this recipe was from the devil, because it was soooo delish and rich and you can't eat just one. We didn't come home with any leftovers.

The event that I was taking them to on Sunday was cancelled which means that Ty and I have eaten way too many of these things! During my freshman year of college I took a humanities class about ballet. As part of the class we had to see a campus ballet production. A friend and I went to the Nutcracker. During intermission I bought this little cake that was shaped like a mouse. It was the moistest cake ever! I have never been able to find anything else like it until I tried making cake balls! I was so excited to find something that tasted just like I remember that little cake tasting. I tried to find a picture, but all google came up with was Mickey Mouse or chocolate mousse. I guess they thought I couldn't spell.


Ingredients:

1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1 (16 ounce) container prepared chocolate frosting {I only used 1/2 - 3/4 of the frosting.}
1 (3 ounce) bar chocolate flavored confectioners coating (almond bark)


Directions:

  • Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes.
  • When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.
  • Melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave, or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  • Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the chocolate cake mixture.
  • Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set.

A few tips I picked up from various places on the interwebs:

  • In order to cut down on prep time, bake your cake the night before.
  • Once cake has cooled cut into 2 inch squares and throw in a bowl. Melt icing in the microwave for about 25 seconds. Spoon onto cake and mix with your mixer. Other people suggested using your hands, but I hate touching food with my hands. {I hate making hamburgers, ew!}
  • I used a cookie dough scooper to make my balls all the same size, but stilled rolled them into more of a ball shape with my hands.
  • I melted 3 bars of almond bark at a time and put a tsp on crisco with it.
  • I tried every way possible to dip the balls in the chocolate. The best way for me was to stick a toothpick in the side and dip it into the chocolate and use a spoon to help coat it as well.

I sprinkled pecans on top of half of them.

These could be the ugliest things ever and it wouldn't matter because they taste so good!

There are so many different flavor options that you can choose from. I think a strawberry cake with vanilla frosting and coated in chocolate would be delish!

I will be making these things again soon!

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Wednesday, August 19

Kitchen Curtain Project

I have been searching for a year for kitchen curtains. I could never find anything that I liked and I didn't want to hang blinds. Natalie was in nesting mode a few weeks ago and made some similar curtains. I thought hers turned out great! She now has a gorgeous little boy.
I am going to attempt to give you all a tutorial, but let's face it I am awful at tutorials. So this probably won't be very helpful, but maybe you will get the gist.



First things first, measure your windows. I went to Joann's to look at fabric because it was on my way home from work. I picked out a black and white damask home decor fabric. The home decor fabric is thicker than regular cotton fabric. All of our kitchen appliances are black and I wanted the curtains to match them.

I folded my fabric in half so that it shows the same on both sides and so that it is a little bit thicker and blocks the sun better.


Make sure you fold it with the wrong side of the fabric up.


Measure how wide you want the curtain to be and cut off the excess fabric.



Nuts was ready to play. I was not as enthusiastic.


Poor dog got thrown outside.

Then I pinned the two sides and sewed down both sides. Since I folded it in half I did not have to sew the bottom. Once the sides were sewn I folded it inside out, which showed the right sides of the fabric. At this point I got lazy and stopped taking pictures. This is why I am horrible at tutorials!


Then I folded over the top of the curtain an inch or so and sewed it to make a flap for the curtain rod. I bought grosgrain ribbon and folded it over the curtain and tied it in a bow at the bottom.





I also got a new picture for the kitchen.



The lighting was not cooperating, but I wanted you all to see it head on.


I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. It didn't take long to do and cost me under $13.
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Tuesday, August 18

how chocolate chip cookies have influenced my life

You know how interviewers sometimes ask you who has been the most influential person in your life? Well, I have had many great, influential people in my life but the chocolate chip cookie has had a huge influence on who I am. I'm not very good at recalling memories from my childhood, but when I do the memories almost always contain chocolate chip cookies.
When I got married I set out on a journey to find the perfect cc cookie recipe. I decided that if I had the perfect recipe then that would automatically make me the best mom. {I realize deep down in my heart that the best moms have more going for them than their cookie recipes, but just go with me here.}

My mom, bless her heart, likes her cc cookies flat and crispy. I on the other hand like mine a little doughy and big and fluffy. I will not hold this against her and she is a great mom.

My earliest memories of cc cookies would be with my aunt. I got my love of eating raw dough from her. She used to always make two batches--one for baking and one for eating the dough. For some reason I could never convince my mom to go for this.

My great grandma always had Soft Batch cc cookies in her house. I have always thought they are the best store bought cc cookies ever! I still buy them to this day at the gas stations in the 4 pack when I am on work road trips. Love em!

In middle school and high school I attended the same church camp every summer. In the camp "grocery" store they sold pillsbury cookie dough. My friends and I would buy the dough and eat it raw. It was sooooo good!


I grew up with the same close, knit group of friends since pre-school. One of the girl's mom made the best chocolate chip cookies. I was always so excited when her mom baked cookies.


My MIL always has cc cookies at her house. They are tasty little cookies and I have picked up a couple of good tips from her.

When I got married I made sure I had all the essential cc cookie baking tools: the pans (must be dark pans and not shiny ones), the baking racks and the perfect spatula.
The mini spatula from Pampered Chef. (My mom always uses this when she bakes cookies and she bought me one.)


Ty and Chesley became my guinea pigs on this quest for the perfect recipe. I made tons of cookies our first year of marriage. I also ate more than my fair share of cookie dough and may have made myself sick a few times by eating too much of it! During the great ice storm of 2007, I had made a batch of cookie dough a couple of hours before the power went out. I made it up and stuck it in the fridge to bake later. Well that never happened due to the power outage. Ty and I moved in with my aunt and uncle for 5 days, because they had power. I took a bunch of food with me in order to save some of it. You better believe that one of those items was the cookie dough. My little cousins and I keep sneaking spoonfuls of cookie dough all week.


My cookies are the only thing that Ty ever requests that I make. Side note: The man does not care about food as much as me. As long as the food tastes decent he will eat it and never cares what we are eating. So the fact that he requests these cookies makes me oh so happy!

Nuts also loves it when I bake cookies. He comes and sits right at my feet waiting for any dough to fly out due to the mixing.


Sunday afternoons seem to be my baking days so I baked some cookies a couple of days ago. I decided to add a few extra ingredients. One of the ingredients was nutmeg. Ty walked through the kitchen and tasted a little bit of dough and was not pleased. He wanted to know why I was messing with a good thing. haha! I guess I will not be adding nutmeg anymore. It was an overwhelming taste, but they still turned out good.


I am still perfecting the recipe, but I do have a good base recipe down. Now I just need to work on tweaking it. And I am going to be a real meanie and not share the recipe. I think everyone should have a secret recipe and cc cookies will be mine. Besides what if we end up living next door to each other one day? We can't both be the mom with the best cc cookies! haha!

{the cc cookie pictures are not mine. I wish they were because they are great pics, but they aren't.}

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