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Disclaimer: I started drafting this post back in January.  I didn’t post it then because I needed to collect some pictures of the various projects.  I’ve been kind of busy with all other life stuff and forgot about this post.  But better late than never, I suppose!  Enjoy.

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So, it turns out the nesting instinct is just as strong when you’re adopting as it is when you’re actually pregnant.  And, you’re not too pregnant to actually do all of the stuff that looms over you, so that’s a plus.

Paul has been on break for the last two weeks and we have had the most productive two weeks we’ve had in a long, long time.  Two weeks ago doesn’t even feel like two weeks, that’s how much has happened!

The first big project that we completed is the office/guest room smoosh.  I wanted to clear out the guest room to convert it into a nursery, but to do that, we had to make space in the office.  So we had to completely reorganize the office, get rid of one of the desks, and make room for the bed.  In the process, we also baby proofed the office, covering all the outlets, organizing cords and making sure it meets all of the home study standards.  I still have a pair of scissors on the desk, lol, but I’ll be sure to put them in a locked cabinet before the home study.  I will also mention that when I redid the office a few years ago, I did not create enough storage space.  This turned out to be very problematic because as time passed, the office turned into a dumping ground for random stuff.  All that had to be dealt with before we could bring down the guest bed.

Office Make Over

 

One element of this project that I am particularly proud of is the new wall shelves.  There was an old cheap, falling apart bookshelf in the garage that wasn’t storing anything too important.  So, we moved things around and dismantled it.  We salvaged the shelves and Paul put some brackets on the wall above the desk.  And Boom!  We had more storage space for the office supplies that need to be readily accessible!

Once we got the office ready, we brought down the bed and it turned out it was too tight of a fit to leave the corner bookshelf where I had wanted it.  So, we got creative and tipped it on it’s side.  Paul built some stools for the other side of the bed and now there is a lot of storage space under the bed.  I’m also calling it a loft bed, now, because it’s just too high tobe a normal bed.  Haha!

Office Guest Bed

 

The next project we completed during this Christmas break is refinishing an old dresser I had bought from a local buy/sell group.  I sanded it down, and painted it a dark peacock blue green color and swapped out the ugly old handles for brushed nickel looking ones.  I also decided to paint an old end table we’d had tucked into a closet to match the dresser.  Paul was a little concerned about the color I picked, but once it was on the dresser, he loved it as much as I did from the beginning.

Dresser Update

Another project we worked on was getting the previously called guest room to qualify as a nursery.  So what does that mean??? It means a crib!  Yay!  My parents gave us the crib for Christmas, so Paul got it set up.  I also created some prints (inspired by Pinterest, of course), framed them and hung them on the walls.  I would still like to do a little more decorating, but I think that will come with time.

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The next project we worked on was building gates for the top and bottom of our stairs.  This is one of the requirements for the adoption process, so it was a high priority.  I had been thinking about a gate for the top of the stairs since we had Harry, but he’s never really been allowed to roam free upstairs.  And now, he knows how to do stairs by himself so I thought we sidestepped that phase.  But since we needed to get it done, I revisited the ideas I’d had floating around from way back.  I am not crazy about the pre-fabbed baby gates.  They tend to be cumbersome and expensive and not to mention major eye-soars.  Pinterest to the rescue yet again!  I’d seen a number of homemade, farm-door style gates and we decided to use that as inspiration.  Eventually, we used plywood covered in fabric and chalkboard with some pretty and chunky hardware.  I am very happy with the outcome!  And it’s a good thing I like it since we have two!

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Once the gates were completed, I moved on to the closet for the nursery.  A few years ago, I painted it green to match the green in the room.  That actually made a huge difference in making it so much more attractive.  There are no doors, so we’d hung a curtain up instead.  The problem was that there was only one shelf and one rod across the length of the closet.  It was a very inefficient use of space!

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I went back and forth in my mind about how much time and effort I wanted to invest in the closet.  I also didn’t want to spend a fortune on it.  So I scoured Pinterest yet again and took a field trip out to The Container Store in Pasadena with a couple friends to get ideas.  Eventually, I decided to add a column of shelves on one side and another rod with a shelf above it that only reaches half way across the closet.  I also wanted another high shelf that stretched the length of the closet.  But of course, I couldn’t do any of this until is was painted pretty to match the room!  I used the same paint I had used on the dresser and end table.  By using left over wood from other projects, our total cost for this closet makeover was only about $75, which makes us both happy!

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With a few final touches to the nursery, like a ribbon chandelier I made from a wire cupcake tower and some more art on the walls, I feel like the nursery is officially ready.  I know that once we actually start using it, it will start to fill up and looked lived in. I can’t wait to get to that point.  image-8

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This cake was seriously so rich that I can’t do it true justice with words or pictures.  But I’ll try.  The cake was three layers.  The top and bottom layer were butter pecan.  That cake by itself is so good.  But I sandwiched between it a layer of butter yellow cake.  And the filling, oh it was unreal.  I made a caramel mousse that was so so good.  And the outside of this cake was chocolate buttercream.  I actually just followed the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box for the first time ever.  And I found myself wondering why I’d never made this recipe before.  If fact, I wondered why I had ever bothered to purchase chocolate frosting when this recipe was so good and so so easy.  I coated the outside of the cake with milk chocolate chips, because why not and because moarchocolate!  Yep, this cake was rich.  Moist, buttery, chocolatey, beautiful.  And oh so rich.

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A couple weeks ago I was hired to make cupcakes for a wedding.  The bride was open to what flavors she got, but she did request a batch of gluten free.  I had given her some of the cupcakes as a taste test from Harry’s Birthday party.  She loved the Almond Joy cupcakes and the Lemon Delight.  But wanted something different than the blue suede.

We settled on Lemon Delight which was lemon cake with homemade lemon curd filling and light whipped frosting (I love my Bettercream!).  I garnished them with white sugar crystals, yellow nonpareils and lemon gumdrops cut into wedges.

The next flavor was the Amond Joy I’d made before.  The cake was chocolate almond cake with coconut cream filling and topped with rich vanilla almond buttercream.  I garnished these with coconut shavings and raw almonds.

The next flavor was Raspberry white chocolate.  This was a white cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate mousse on top.  It is a very simple and classic wedding flavor.

Finally was the gluten-free.  I made a a gluten-free chocolate cake and filled it with a rich chocolate buttercream.  I topped it off with caramel mousse and light brown and dark brown sprinkles.  Long gone are the days of gluten-free being synonymous with tastes bad.  These ones were really rich and a huge hit.

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Happy 4th of July

Ha!  I just used the term “photo shoot” to describe what I’m about to post.  It really was a matter of hanging a flag on our fence, dressing Harry in a flag shirt, and snapping away.  I didn’t get too creative here, but I did get a good number of great shots.  This was a simple approach, but we got exactly what we were looking for.  Patriotic pics of our little man that show off her sweet personality.

 

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Monsters Inc has somewhat fallen to the wayside now that Monsters U has come out.  It’s still a cute movie, but difficult to find many decorations that don’t have the updated university imagery.  But my friend wanted to do a Monsters Inc party, nonetheless.  And she recruited me to make the cake and smash cake.

We decided on a Mike themed smash cake and Sully themed big cake.  The size difference was a great fit.  I thought maybe I’d put fur on the whole large cake, but it turns out that frosting fur is much harder on my hands than I had thought.  So, I decided to stop after covering the sides and then do some piping on the top.

The small cake is vanilla cake with vanilla Bettercream frosting.  The large cake is two layers of yellow cake and a layer of chocolate cake with white chocolate and caramel mousse fillings.  I frosted the cake with chocolate buttercream before decorating.  It was really yummy.

 

Monsters Inc Cakes

 

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I am a little behind on posting this, but I wanted to share anyway.  This last Easter, I found a fun pin on Pinterest that showed how to make a dessert version of an Easter classic, deviled eggs.  I was thrilled because they are beautiful, and who doesn’t love Jell-O!

I remembered that as a kid, my mom made some fun jello eggs out of some molds she had and I was happy to hear that she still had the molds.  They are available still on kraft.com and aren’t even too expensive.  I did have a couple failed attempts to get the molds open with breaking my jello eggs in half, but I learned that if I submerge the mold in near-boiling water for about ten seconds, they molds pop open easily enough.

Once I got the jello eggs out of the molds, I sliced them in half longways.  Just as you would if you were making real deviled eggs.  On the Pinterest post, they scooped a well out of the jello eggs to make a place for the cream filling.  I kept breaking my eggs when I tried to do this, so I decided to skip that step altogether.

In the end, I was quite happy with the way they turned out.  They were bright and fun and most importantly, yummy!  I think I may make them again some day!

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I have seen the family birthday calendars on printers and been wanting to make one for a while. To be honest, I’d love to make one for my home. But we decided to make one for my mother-in-law this last Christmas. My husband is the youngest of eight children, almost everybody is married, and almost everybody has at least one kid. So total there were nearly 40 tags that we wanted to include on the calendar.

I found an Etsy shop called Custom Vinyl Decor that sold the birthday calendar kit. They were incredibly helpful and super fast.  I look forward to shopping there in the future!  The kit included the vinyl cut out with the family name and the word celebrations, as well as 25 tags and hooks to hang them onto the board. We had to get our own board, paint it, and because our family is bigger, we needed to find more tags and hooks. And searching for the little tags which are made out of wood, I found some heart-shaped ones and decided those would be great for the anniversary dates. I don’t have the most beautiful penmanship, so I decided to print the names and birthdays from the computer, then mod podge them onto the wooden tags.

I found a one and a half inch circle hole punch, so it was an easy job punching out the names and months to apply to the discs. It wasn’t quite as easy cutting out the hearts to look right, but in the end I was very pleased with the way everything looked. I used some of the same paint from the plaque itself on the edges of the tags, that brought everything together making it look the right color and very very pretty.

We had our board printed, all of the tags were painted and had their names on them. And that’s where the real “fun” started. I put the word fun in quotes because that’s the last thing it actually was. Putting the little rings onto the discs was super hard. We had to use pliers to open the ring slip it through the holes then close the rings. Then we needed to link them together and make sure they close tight enough that the disks wouldn’t fall apart. The whole process took a long time and was very tedious. My husband and I did it together, though, and the moral support of doing it together made a big difference.

Once completed, it looked beautiful. Of course we wanted to wrap it since it was a Christmas gift. And in the process of wrapping it, several of the chains fell off the board. We would reattach it, try to attach a better this time. Than restart the wrapping process. When my mother-in-law opened it on Christmas I think one of the months fell off. But we came prepared in my husband was able to pull out the players from the diaper bag and fix it in a snap.

In the end, I think it was a beautiful gift and a very fun way to commemorate the whole family and all of the wonderful milestones we have every month of the year. But, I would definitely start more than two weeks before Christmas. I think if I given myself a month or so to get it done, it would’ve been a much smoother process. I still want to make one for my own home, and I might include birthdays on both my husband’s side of the family and my side of the family. It really is a wonderful visual aid in helping us see what a beautiful family we have and how blessed we are.

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