Fab Finds Friday: Best CC Cream

And you thought I wasn’t going to post today…yikes, it’s been a week! Anyhow…

Gather round ladies…this one’s for you. Sorry gents…but feel free to grab your fav lady because she’ll probably want this info!

So, show of hands…who gets a Birchbox? If you haven’t even heard of Birchbox…well, I’m sorry.

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If you’re anything like me, I love experimenting with beauty products but wince a little to think I may purchase a full size moisturizer or gasp, expensive fragrance only to HATE it or find out it gives me hives. Cue Birchbox. This company curates a bunch of premium beauty samples (you typically get one full size product as well such as Stila lip glosses and Urban Decay eye liners) so you can test to your little hearts desire and then purchase the full size if you la-la-love it. It’s a subscription service and you receive one box per month.

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Anyway, it was what was in one of my most recent Birchbox’s that changed my life, ‘er face. Before the holiday’s, my Birchbox included this interesting little packet called Wei To-Go Sleep Over.

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It included a sample of their gelled oil cleanser and the ideal skin perfect finish “cc” cream. By the way, Birchbox is great because not only are their sample sizes perfect for, well, sampling…but they have served me well on the many, many, trips we take. This little ditty was no exception and I promptly threw it in my cosmetics case for holiday traveling. It was the Ideal Skin Perfect Finish “CC” Cream that completely floored me.

My skin is pretty clear but I definitely like the even tone some foundation provides and for a long time my go to has been L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Compact Makeup. Until this.

Now, I’ve heard of “BB” creams, never tried them, but this “CC” cream was something different…I think. Read here for the difference because I’m still not sure I completely get it.

Either way, I wasn’t expecting much but this product went on smooth and my skin felt and looked completely transformed. I applied it while getting ready in the morning and then spent the rest of the day traveling. I got off the plane looking just as fresh as when I put it on that morning. I was super impressed. It provided this almost airbrushed finish. My complexion remained dewy but not greasy looking, and the color was perfect. I just realized I should probably post a picture of my face proving this claim but I hate having my picture taken and the thought of close up pictures of my face was freaking me out. So. Just trust me.

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While I still very much appreciate my True Match compact and it has served me well, I’ve graduated to this magic potion. I promptly signed on to Birchbox and ordered myself a full size version. You can also find it here, at the Wei To Go Beauty website. However, ordering products from Birchbox earns you points and for every 100 points you earn, you get $10 to spend through Birchbox…so it made the $30 price tag on this product a little easier to take. Let me be honest and say, if I did not think this product was absolutely amazing, I would have never in a million years thought to spend $30 on foundation…but seriously, this stuff rocks. So fabulous that you should be able to easily get over the unusual packaging. See the video on this page.

And we’re in just under the wire! It’s not even 11:30pm yet so we can still consider this a Fab Friday Find right?!

I was not compensated to feature products featured in this post and all opinions are a product of my own experiences and obsessions. 

Fab Finds Friday: Best Home Design Apps Version 1.0

Good Morning sweet friends! Wasn’t feeling too hot yesterday so didn’t have time to prepare my morning post set to publish first thing, but not to worry, I have some more fab finds to share with you today. Yay for Friday!

I’m still LOVING my 3 day weekends…honestly, it has allowed me to be more productive and preserve some of my sanity. In fact, I’m sitting here this morning at my new shiny dining table (I really need to get that blogged, but the dining room isn’t anywhere near finished so I’ve been avoiding it) while sipping on my coffee, and glaring at my cat who keeps laying on and crushing the cushions on the backs of my living room chairs. GRRRRR. Tips please, he’s a defiant little bugger.

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Anyway, for Christmas, Andy finally dragged me to the Verizon store and got Momma a new phone. I had been a proud user of the iPhone 3Gs for several years but she was starting to peter out…slow, slow, slow. Plus, certain apps/functions were no longer compatible. I had also switched service to AT&T at the time. Andrew was itching to get me back on the Verizon family plan so we finally bit the bullet and I scored a brand new iPhone 5 in the process. Actually, it sort of worked out nicely because we’re saving a pretty big chunk of change each month with the family plan. So much so, that based on our calculation, within 3 months, this phone would have paid or itself! Score.

So, I’ve been having fun with some apps since getting this little gem just after Christmas and it has really fulfilled my needs for on the go inspiration. Today, I’d like to share a few of my favorites. I’m planning to break this down into a few categories over the next few weeks given that I have quite a few to share and I can more or less classify them into different categories. The best part…they’re all FREE! The more I blog, the more I realize how cheap I am, but who doesn’t like free! Honestly, I’m sure there are some great paid apps out there and I’d love to hear about them BUT unless it’s something I absolutely can’t live without, or would be useful almost daily, or has such unique functionality…I’m happy playing with free stuff for the time being. Today, we’ll discuss a more nebulous, general category…home design apps. I’ll feature some apps below that I use for inspiration and ogling pretty things. Here’s what I’m loving.

Best Free Home Design Inspiration Apps

1. Houzz Interior Design Ideas I’ve been using the Houzz website for a while for inspiration. In fact, CNN calls Houzz “the Wikipedia of interior design”. I’m actually sort of in shock this app is offered for free. You can browse their expansive library of over one million high resolution photos. The app has great features as well that allow you to “clip” and save the photos to in app idea books. Be sure to look past the photos though! If you explore your other menu choices, you’ll note there are forums for any design question under the sun as well so the ability to search for local professionals and review portfolios if you realize you need to bring in the big guns. Finally, the app has some easy to use share features if you’re a social media junkie.

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2. Dwell  You may have seen Dwell magazine on newsstands. It’s a great publication that covers modern architecture and design…and their app doesn’t disappoint. I mean really doesn’t disappoint. They have high quality images for inspiration along with articles detailing each feature. Your menu options are extensive as well and you can link to slide shows and videos, an idea book for quick inspiration, get information about exhibitors that attend their design events as well as view calendar of their upcoming events, share your inspiration easily on social media, and even do a little shopping from their products tabs.

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3. Decor Pad – Interior Design I have also been visiting the Decor Pad website for quite some time for inspiration. Their free app provides inspiration and ideas on the go as well. Beautiful photos are available through this app and you can easily search by space and bookmark favorites. I’m especially enamored with their Look 4 Less tab. This is a feature on their website and it’s very handy through the app…definitely get’s my penny pinching motor humming.

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4. Benjamin Moore Digital Editions This is actually a pretty neat little app and allows you to explore digital editions of their color cards and magazines. If you explore the app a bit you’ll find you can link to some videos featuring before and afters and design tips. While the app is clearly intended to push and enhance the Benjamin Moore product, if you’re a fan like me, it’s a great resource.

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By no means is this list exhaustive but these are the apps I’ve been returning to time and again for inspiration, planning, and tips. What are you’re favorites? I’d love to hear about them!

Also, as per usual, I have not been compensated to feature any products or apps discussed in this post. The opinions are entirely my own and based on products and apps I use myself and believe in. I hope you find these apps as useful and enjoyable as I have…and again, I’d love to hear your recommendation for free apps I may have not yet discovered!

Have a great day!

Painted Interior Doors

A while back, we finally finished painting the trim in the living room/dining room. I used Decorators White by Benjamin Moore and I think it came out really great. It’s a nice complementary white paired next to our paint color, Moonshine. When the trim work was all said and done, the crown molding, baseboards, and trim surround all doors and windows was a crisp shade of Decorators White. I’d initially intended to take the doors down and freshen them up with a coat of this white as well…but now I’m considering going in an entirely different direction. I’m looking for s0me drama, a statement, a little fun pop of color. Not sure if I want it to be crisp, bright, or moody…but painted doors are looking more and more enticing. Let’s adore a few that particularly spark my desire to dip into some paint again.

I’m leaning towards black or a much darker shade that was complimentary to Moonshine in the Ben Moore color decks. I’m thinking of going high gloss as well. The wheels are turning and we may be breaking out the rollers sooner than later!

Schoolhouse Rock

I’m putting “Break It or Take It” to bed. See original post here if you’re new around here and you care at all about what that means. It seemed clever at the time but now…well, it sounds stupid. So, goodbye. It’s ok though because the thing I like most about this whole blogging thing is that it unfolds organically. There’s room to grow, find your voice, feel awfully clever, and then realize you may sound like a complete moron. It’s a place to try quirky titles, talk too much, or not enough…like, when you’re typing away only to look down at the bottom of your page and realize the word count is quickly approaching 500+ and then ask yourself who in the H would want to read all this crap and hit publish anyway. Speaking of I better move on to my point…

I still want to share mid to high end finds with it’s bargain basement match made in heaven but we’ll do so without painful titles. Unless “schoolhouse rock” is a painful title…but anything has to be better than the nonsense that was “break it or take it”…buh-bye. It may come back but for now, we’ll retire it.

I recently discovered Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. through a project that was completed on the Bravo show Million Dollar Decorator. Guilty, guilty pleasure that network. Anyhow, Jeffery Alan Marks completed a project in Nantucket where the requirement was to furnish virtually all of the home through “catalog” resources. I was enamored with the lighting fixtures used throughout the house and quickly learned through some participation in the live tweets of that episode that many of the fixtures came from Schoolhouse Electric.

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Ok, so let’s all get over the collective groan that I’m late to the party on this one. They aren’t new, they’ve been blogged to death, but they’re new to me…and fueling my lamp fetish fast. Seriously though, there are some amazing fixtures available and pictures of their showroom have justified a trip to Portland, Oregon. Seriously, I asked Andrew if we could go to Portland…to see a lamp store. My poor husband.

Anyway, remember the lamp I featured in this shopping post?…yes, the one the evil wallet gremlins at Target made me purchase? Well, I found it’s long lost relative on Schoolhouse Electric. Observe.

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Schoolhouse Electric Lafayette Lamp…gorgeous at $339.00

14244326_121110063000Target Buff Beige Table Lamp Base…tolerable at $54.99

My wanna-be at home:

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The navy ikat print shade is also from Target and was $22.99.

14246323_121025003000In closing, I wanted to share a blurb on why Schoolhouse Electric is so awesome…this is from their LinkedIn company overview.

Schoolhouse Electric Co. is a homegrown company started in Portland, Oregon in 2003.
The showroom and factory are located here with a showroom also in New York City.

American made vintage lighting fixtures and shades. Our shades are hand blown from original molds found in an old warehouse in upstate New York.

Too bad most of their selection doesn’t quite fit into the budget. While I can’t afford larger pieces such as table and floor lamps at the moment, I plan on giving them my business through smaller fixtures and finishes on offer.

So, how about you…any “look for less” finds this week?

PS: official word count is 545…new years resolution…shorter posts.

Russian Tea Cookies

Good Morning everyone! It’s been fun recapping the holidays but I’m not going to lie, I’m sort of happy to move on. I always enjoy the season and I try to make it a reflective time and savor each moment with our loved ones but it can be just down right exhausting. While I don’t necessarily believe in new years resolutions in the traditional sense, I often look forward to the fresh start the new year promises and try to take at least some time to consider goals I have for the coming year, ways I’d like to be more mindful, and relationships I’d like to focus on (all of them). On that note, I promised a sweet finish to the holiday review so get your recipe cards out and file this one away for next year.

Russian tea cookies have been a Christmas staple since my childhood. They are delicious morsels of goodness covered in confectioners sugar. They go by other names such as Mexican wedding cakes, but “Russian teas” have always been the moniker we’ve given them. The following recipe has been passed down through several generations and is definitely one of our family favorites. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Russian Tea Cookies

1 cup butter at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners sugar plus more for coating

t teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together butter, confectioners sugar and vanilla using either a stand mixer or hand mixer.

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Sift together flour and salt. Stir in walnuts.

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Incorporate the flour mixture with the butter mixture.

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Form into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet 2 inches apart (I love using silicone baking mats).

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Bake for 14-17 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Roll in confectioners sugar and serve or store in airtight cookie tins.

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Do you make a similar recipe? I’d love to hear about any techniques or variations you may use!

Christmas In Review: 2012

I mentioned the other day that I was going to continue to spread the Christmas cheer a little longer, especially since I intended to share a few details from our holiday but never got around to it. Rather than let some of the photos and efforts go to waste, I thought it might be nice to share regardless. I also shared some details here, here, and here. Be forewarned, some of the decor ideas I’m featuring below aren’t really groundbreaking, or especially creative…at all. I’m mostly sharing because I know my Mom would want to see. Given that they live a thousand miles away, she never gets to see our house done up for the holidays. And Mom, given that your obsession with Christmas and decorating is no secret, I knew you’d want to check it out. So this one’s for you.

Our Christmas Tree

So this is probably considered terrible photography but we are trying to learn our camera better and have been playing around with the manual settings on the DSLR. I sort of like how these turned out so in the spirit of creativity and experimentation I present to you blurry Christmas tree…

christmas-tree-2012-2-resized…and twinkly Christmas tree…
christmas-tree-2012-1-resized …and regular Christmas tree…

Sorry she forgot to put her pants on…but I never got around to making that DIY Ruffle Tree Skirt. Best laid plans. It’s definitely on the agenda for next year given that I already purchased the materials. Heck, I may even whip it up in July. For the record, yes, this is a fake Christmas tree. It belonged to Andrew’s Grandmother and in the words of my father-in-law, “it’s 1965 vintage”. A few years ago, I HATED this tree. I grew up with a fresh tree and it’s just what I’m used to. Who moved my tree, ‘er cheese, sort of thing. But this tree has grown on me (no pun intended) and now I adore it. In fact, next year, the tentative plan is to do a fresh tree in our den space, and keep this one here in the living room and deck it out with more of a theme and keep the family ornaments on the den tree. But I have approximately 345 days to figure that out so moving on.christmas-tree-2012-3-resized One of my favorite glass ornaments.glass-ornament-christmas-2012

I was all about the “shop your house” concept this Christmas. For starters, I was being cheap and didn’t want to spend money unnecessarily. Second, there is only so much space to store decorations and if you ask Andrew, I have nearly met my quota…he’s going to start charging me for space in the attic soon, I’m sure of it. It’s actually quite fun poking through your items, or even other decor you use throughout the year and try to come up with ways to repurpose and restyle.

Pottery Barn jars with pinecones and small glass ornaments. I found a bag of decorative pinecones at Target earlier in the season for $5 and the ornaments were a clearance buy from Pier 1 a few seasons ago.

christmas-apothecary-jars-2012-3 Below are some apothecary jars from Michael’s that were used during my wedding. The ornaments were from an inexpensive ornaments set from Michael’s a few season ago that I no longer use on the tree.christmas-apothecary-jars-2012-2 christmas-apothecary-jars-2012-1

Also, I know some family and friends check in here so I’m sharing a few great family shots we took on Christmas Eve. This year, we got dolled up, had a delicious dinner at a local Portuguese restaurant with an even more amazing wine selection, and attended a lovely midnight Mass.

Andrew and me

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Look who finally completed one of the Pinterest projects I’d intended to make! I love my monogram berry wreath. See this post for more details. berry-monogram-wreath

And finally…one of my favorites. This picture was taken at my parents house (where I grew up). A few years ago they began putting lights on this little tree out back, set away from the house. It always looks so friendly and magical, especially when it has snowed, and the neighbors love it as it’s visible from other backyards. outdoor-christmas-tree-2012

We are beyond blessed and had a wonderful holiday season celebrating with family and friends. For those family and friends who we were not able to visit with, you were missed and we thought of you every second. As this season draws to a close, we hope you and yours found equal blessings and are entering this new year refreshed. Check back tomorrow as I’ll be posting our favorite holiday cookie recipe as a sweet finish to the holiday recaps. Have a wonderful Monday!

Fab Finds Friday: Tar-jay

I love to shop. I’m also sure it’s no secret at this point that my intimate relationship with the aisles of Target are borderline obsessive. I frickin’ love that place. It’s pretty much the running pop-culture joke that you can’t pass the shiny red balls and emerge once more without being at least $100 poorer, so, in that spirit, I’m kicking off a new feature called Fab Finds Friday with non-other than a trip to Target, Tar-jay, Tar-whydoyoumakemespendsomuchmoney-get.

So anyway, not only do I love to shop, but I LOVE a good bargain. I really do love to mix high end items with more affordable, heck, even used (read vintage, goodwill, consignment, hand-me-down) pieces. This is true not only of home design but also fashion (or my lack-there-of). In the coming weeks and months, I’ll plan a little virtual shopping spree…we’ll pop into shops big and small and ooh-and-ahh over some of my favorite home decor items, accessories, and fashion. As I said, I pride myself on finding bargains so I’ll be sure to clue you into some deals as well.

Without further ado, entrez-vous…(oh, and in case you were wondering, I’m not in cahoots with the big red bullseye {target} for this post…I just like to spend my money there…much to my husbands dismay).

Before we ogle the goods, let me share with you that this was my first time blatantly taking pictures in a store. I felt like a crazy person. I was getting sort of nervous and sweaty and was awkwardly holding my phone up in front of me with the camera app open while pushing a cart. I kept spastically looking around me as I quickly snapped photos…more nervous that some employee would walk up to me and demand to know what I was doing. I used to work at Anthropologie, and on more than one occasion I remember having to tell a customer to please stop snapping pictures of the merchandise. For the life of me, I don’t know who came up with that rule. Honestly, people would probably spend more money if they were able to take some snaps of items that speak to them…I know this is so helpful to me when I’m considering a purchase but need to be reminded of the visual once home and debating/designing my space. Anyway, in case you were worried, I was not tackled to the ground by anyone in a red shirt and my phone was not wrestled from my sweaty palms as I imagined it may be. But there are probably a few more Gainesville-ians who think I’m a little bit weird. Also, Andy-cakes deserves a big shout out for being willing to walk around the store with his nut-job of a wife taking photos of things we aren’t really buying. Especially when I kept hissing his name to block me while I took pictures…oh, you want to see some stuff…let’s get to that shall we.

fab-finds-friday-target-1-1-4 I ABSOLUTLELY, POSITIVELY, FLIPPING LOVE THESE MUGS. Sorry for the shout-y caps but they are the bomb dot com. They really stood out to me because of all of our travels, obviously, but I just love the retro vibe. Honestly, I should have picked some up come to think of it…I may go back this weekend and see if there are any in stock.

fab-finds-friday-target-30-1-4 More fun kitchen finds. I loved these olive oil and vinegar bottles (1) and was also smitten with the jars (3). They came in several sizes and had a chalkboard label on the front. This display also had some coordinating serve-ware and kitchen towels, etc. These would make a fabulous shower or wedding gift for those upcoming spring/summer nuptials. Finally, there were some monogram mugs on the display (2) below the destination mugs…these would also make a great gift.

fab-finds-friday-target-31-1-4I’ve really grown to love the seasonal collections of home decor Target has been doing. I was especially smitten with this round and actually snapped up a few pieces for myself. I need to post a mood board soon to give you an idea of the direction I’m taking our kitchen/den space in but needless to say, some of these pieces worked so I snatched them. I immediately fell in love with the ceramic lamp base and blue ikat print shade (1 & 2). It works perfectly in the den and the print and pop of color on the shade is just what I was looking for. Let’s be honest though, I have a major lamp fetish and am beginning to realize I’m accumulating quite the collection. For now, I’m sticking to more bargain finds as I often like to swap things seasonally or change the look altogether…the money I save can be applied towards the POD I’ll need in my backyard to store all my room styling items…sigh. Anyway, they had another great wooden lamp base (3) and ikat shades in beige and yellow (4). I almost splurged on the wooden lamp base but I don’t have anywhere to put it. It did, however, inspire a potential DIY project….
fab-finds-friday-target-32-1-4 Some great decorative items…wooden starburst mirror (swoon) and mirrored wooden trays (double swoon) (1). I purchase a large and medium hurricane (2) for my fireplace mantel and got two golden beeswax candles to put inside, they look great! I really love these finials (3) they make quite the statement on a shelf, mantel, or console as does this darling cloche (4).

fab-finds-friday-target-33-1-4 If you need to add to your menagerie, there were some adorable bookends (1) and yarn wrapped animal figurines (2). These items would look really great as accessories in a baby or child’s bedroom or playroom.

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These little lamps (1 & 2) were just darling and I’ve nicknamed the first one lemon-drop. I honestly just wanted to sit back with a glass of lemonade in the patio section and stare at one of these. Andy managed to convince me that we didn’t need either of them but I won’t lie, I really wish I was planning a nursery right now because either of these would have been in the cart and ready for display on a dresser or night stand at home. So, if you’re having a baby, please buy one of these. Honestly, this may just be a go buy it anyway and have it on hand sort of thing…hmmm.

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More bright, fun decor for some easy swaps and updates. Funky pillows (1) and throws (2 & 6). In fact, we purchased the throw in number 2 as they are machine washable and I felt the fabric would stand up to our pet hair sitch. I LOVED the saturated color of the throw rug (4). The frames (5) were these neat, wooden frames wrapped in this fabric style cord and the metal hurricanes (3) would be great on a covered patio or sun-room.
fab-finds-friday-target-36-1-4 The fretwork patten of this throw rug (1) was super cool and would look great in a bathroom or as an area rug in a kitchen. Some cute toss pillows (2) great for a teen room. Rustic storage side-table (3)…it didn’t seem sturdy enough to use as an ottoman but it would work perfectly as a little side-table with a tray on top for beverages and storage inside. I LOVE this outdoor pouf (4). Found this bad boy in the patio section and it was made with an outdoor fabric that was durable. Already dreaming of pool parties.

fab-finds-friday-target-37-1-4And finally, because I’m a big sucker for gift wrap I found some bright, graphic bags that I’m sure anyone would love to receive a gift in. I’m especially enamored with the little french bulldog on the bag in the picture top right.

So what about you? Any favorites, gotta-have-em items at Target right now?

Champagne Cupcakes

Yesterday, I featured some of the details from our black and white party on New Years Eve. In addition to fashioning some festive decor to go along with the theme, I whipped up some super festive Champagne Cupcakes. During my quick trip to Michael’s the day of for party supplies, I found some black and white cupcake wrappers and a collection of cake sugars/sprinkles in silver, black, and white. Perfect!

I found the following recipe for Champagne Cake on All Recipes. Rather than make one whole cake, I simply divided the batter for cupcakes filling each cup about 2/3 of the way. I also knocked down the cook time from 25 minutes to approximately 20 minutes. Additionally, I did not have time to make my own butter cream frosting but luckily, I had a container of pre-made butter cream frosting hanging out in the pantry. I mixed approximately 4 tablespoons of champagne into the frosting before topping the cupcakes. It added just another hint of champagne flavor. Delish.

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Champagne Cupcakes

(yields approximately 24 cupcakes)

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup sweet champagne (I used Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato Champagne) plus approximately 4 tablespoons to mix with the frosting

6 egg whites

1 container pre-made butter cream frosting

Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with liners. In a large bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for this) cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Blend flour mixture and champagne, alternating the two ingredients, into the creamed butter and sugar until incorporated.

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In another large bowl (I used my handheld mixer with whisk attachment for this step) beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the batter. Fill cupcake liners until they are approximately 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool.

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When you are ready to frost and decorate, mix approximately 4 tablespoons of champagne into frosting before finishing the cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles if desired.

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champagne-cupcakes-5I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried this recipe or something similar! While the cupcakes turned out great, I did feel they were a bit on the dense side so I’m open to other recipes or suggestions for the future. Finally, I was not compensated for featuring or using products such as my Kitchen Aid stand mixer (just a proud owner of one) or Barefoot Bubbly (just a wino who likes to swig a little champagne while baking).

New Years Eve Black and White Party

In the spirit of a holiday recap week…let’s saunter down (recent) memory lane in reverse chronological order, shall we?

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To begin, I’d like to share some details from our New Years Eve bash we hosted earlier this week with some close friends and neighbors. Andrew and I have really embraced the idea of hosting New Years Eve as a tradition and in that spirit, I wanted to host a fun night with our closest pals that was a bit special. We wanted to host a party that had a fun, cohesive element and allowed the gang to get dressed up with some purpose. Ultimately, I decided to keep it simple and went with a festive black and white theme. With a few tweaks to my holiday decor, and some fabulous internet finds, I was able to easily transform our entertaining space. Actually, I’m going to take a moment and brag…more for the fact that I still can’t believe I pulled off this party in literally 10 hours (oh, a big shout out to Andrew who did ALL the cleaning…go team.) The day before new years we returned from our trip to NJ but we were exhausted and I was battling a little cold so I didn’t even lift a finger to prep or decorate prior to 9am on the 31st. From 9am to 7pm I managed to take down 90% of my Christmas decor, procure supplies from Michael’s, craft and assemble the party decorations, and bake champagne cupcakes from scratch in addition to assembling a few other appetizers for our potluck appetizer bar. I felt like it was a design show elimination challenge! You be the judge…

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The mantel update was easy to accomplish. I began by removing most of my Christmas mantel decor, seen here. I left the mercury glass pillars and hurricane and one garland with silver berries in place as the look was appropriate to the theme of this mantel. The Michael’s floral department was 50% off so for about $15 I was able to add some white and black blooms. I found the banner from The TomKat Studio. I used my home printer to print it on cardstock and then punched two holes at the top of each flag with a small circular punch to thread the ribbon through. The silver ribbon was leftover from my wedding in 2011…apparently I purchased a lifetime supply.
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I have a stash of unused frames lying around and luckily, this black frame was the perfect size for this festive sentiment, also from the printable collection from The TomKat Studio. Again, I just printed on cardstock and placed in the frame. The glass hurricane above was a clearance find at Lowe’s a few days ago for about $5. I placed 4 strands of battery operated star lights I’ve had lying around for several seasons inside. They were from IKEA about 3 years ago.
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I purchased some silver tissue paper from Michael’s but otherwise I had the black and white tissue paper stashed in my wrapping supplies to make these tissue paper poufs. I hung them from the ceiling over the bar in our kitchen where the food was arranged.
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Some more blooms, a vase I transformed with some metallic spray paint, and some party horns for merry-making.

Some of our goodies…the food flags were also part of the printable collection linked above. new-years-eve-2013-food-1

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champagne-cupcakesFinally, we enjoyed some champagne cupcakes for dessert. Stay tuned for the recipe…they were delicious!

Overall, it was a really fun evening complete with sparklers and some real deal fireworks. Yes, that happened, in my backyard. And it was AWESOME. We have a basketball court in the backyard that has now been officially dubbed “the launch pad”…everyone walked away with their fingers so we’ll call it a success.

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(photo credit for these four snaps goes to our good friend John M. Thanks again for capturing some fun moments from the evening!)

How were your new years celebrations!? Did you spend a quiet night in or paint the town? If you hosted, did you opt for a theme or special decor or just some jammies, popcorn, and party horns? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy New Year

Hello friends and family (and new friends too!) Happy new year to you and yours! If you’re stopping by the blog for the first time, welcome! With the hub-bub of the holiday’s, I decided to take a little hiatus from blogging but I’m excited to be back online today with some updates, recaps, and reflection.

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(thanks to our good friend John M. for this photo and the one at the end of the post…great shots buddy!)

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind…work was busy as we closed up shop for the winter break, and then we hit the ground running with social gatherings and holiday travel to see family and friends (New Jersey in the HOUSE). I had big plans for some posts throughout the holidays recapping my cookie exchange party, our “friends Christmas” first annual gingerbread house competition, as well as some decor ideas, projects, and updates…but alas, so many plans, so little time.

So here’s the plan. Show of hands…how many people feel a little sad to see the holiday’s come and go so quickly? Who always feels a little bummed to put away the Christmas decorations? That’s what I thought…me too. So, rather than let some of the photos and ideas I had surrounding the holidays go to waste, we’re going to do a little post-holiday recap this week and make Christmas last just a little bit longer. To top it off, I have some fab details to share from the New Years Eve black and white party we hosted the other night. So consider what is to come ideas for next year…savor the last few moments of the holidays and file away the inspiration for next season.

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(Sneak peak from our New Years Eve black and white party…print in frame from The TomKat Studio)

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On that note, as I type, there is a message at the top of my screen indicating that my subscription to getcareydaway.com is about to expire at the end of January which means I have been blogging for almost an entire year! That’s crazy. This little nugget started on a whim and I’m reflecting on how much I have enjoyed it. Yes, I’ve had a little hiatus or two, and I experimented with starting another blog about health and fitness (another big part of my life). I can safely say that this whole blogging thing has really started to become a passion and I’ve learned so much (well, just scratching the surface) in the past few months about photography, site design, writing…I’ve discovered some awesome blogs along the way as well and have already begun to develop some neat connections through this community. So, for the new year, I have officially decided to focus solely on Get Carey’d Away and will let the other blog go.

I have big plans for this blog this year and plan on switching it over to a self-hosted format for more flexibility including a site re-design which will include a new look as well as some new topics including travel and style in addition to things I already enjoy discussing such as home design, decorating, and DIY. I really look forward to presenting more of our lifestyle…for example, travel is a huge passion of ours and our journey’s definitely influence how we design our home and some of the plans we have for future updates. I always gravitate towards home elements or jewelry and accessories as souvenirs from our travels…it’s all related so we’ll discuss it here!

Overall, 2012 was a year of growth, experimentation, and marked our first full year of marriage. It was wonderful, challenging, and inspiring. I’m finally settled in a job I enjoy very much, I have a super fulfilling hobby (this blog), and the best husband, family, and friends a person could ask for…you all know who you are…you are so amazing, some days I don’t even think I deserve you. I’m looking forward to 2013 with an open heart and wide open arms. Some experiences in life recently have made me realize that I need to relinquish some control…not EVERYTHING is up to me. I’m a pretty faithful person privately, but I’m compelled to share a statement my husband makes (I bow down to you again oh wise one…)… He says:

“Work like it’s all up to you…Pray like it’s all up to God”

Truer words have not been spoken. I’m making that my motto in addition to the following mindset which is: plan for life you have and not the life you want. Hubs and I have big plans for our little family and we are realizing timing is not always up to us. We realized we were slowly accumulating a growing list of plans, adventures, projects, etc., but were constantly left with giant “what ifs” hanging over our head. That’s no way to live. So, in the spirit of live in the moment, we’re going to do just that…you can always adjust your course and travel a different heading. Now, someone just please remind me of this post and these words when I get frantic! I’m really bad at taking my own advice.

Love to you all and happy new year!

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