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Decorating like a Professional - when you don't have one

Decorating like a Professional - when you don't have one

Furniture shopping can seem overwhelming, I speak from years of experience.  Decorating the Lake House will be my first time decorating a house on my own - start to finish.

A few of the things I’ve learned from watching the professionals over the years would be:

Don’t buy for a room on a piece to piece bases. Don’t say well I love this couch and then I loved this lamp and then I REALLY loved this piece of art. You have to think of the room as a whole.  Start with your anchoring piece, the big one, your favorite one that the rest of the room will work to compliment.

Stay in the same color pallet but use various shades of it.  Instead of mixing too many colors in a room mix your materials instead to give the room some texture.

Always be mindful of what other rooms have a view of the room you’re decorating and make sure they don’t fight it on the color spectrum.

Invest in pieces that will get the most use (couch, coffee table) you can get amazing accessories at home goods stores that are really inexpensive.

Buying a sofa in a neutral or at least solid color allows you to change the look of the room just by switching out throw pillows or a blanket.

Adding green house plants or trees gives a room a whole new life.

Lighting is EVERYTHING in a room! And I don’t mean the fixtures.  Put a dimmer on a switch and watch your room transform!  All your ceiling light fixtures and can lights, dim them! Use soft, low watt bulbs for your lamps.

If hiring a professional decorator isn’t in your budget you still don’t have to be on your own. Most large furniture stores offer free design services where they will help you measure your space and recommend items that will fit the room and go with each other, take the help!

Can’t wait to show you the Lake House, we are so close to being done.  My husband and Arnolfo deserve some praise as well.  I keep wishing we had filmed the whole thing bc it would have been half renovation show and half comedy.

ps* My favorite interior wall color has always been Benjamin Moore White Dove and more recently Benjamin Moore China White.  

 

 

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THE VERY BEST CARROT CAKE

THE VERY BEST CARROT CAKE

THE VERY BEST CARROT CAKE

For real.  I did not invent this recipe, let me be the first to say this - I would probably be a millionaire if I had.  I can however; make it like a pro!  It's the kind of dessert that you can't wait for everyone to go home so you can be left alone with it!  It's ridiculously moist (so sorry for that word but Lord knows nothing describes it better) and it really is like eating something straight out of a famous bakery!  The crushed pineapple is what really makes it I think so DO NOT omit this ingredient!  You can choose to add chopped walnuts to the icing or leave them out, your call!

 

There are 3 parts to making this cake - Cake, Buttermilk Glaze and Cream Cheese Frosting

INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE:

2 Cups Flour

2 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp Salt

2 Tsp Cinnamon

3 Large Eggs

2 Cups Sugar

3/4 Cups Vegetable Oil

3/4 Cup Buttermilk

2 Tsp Vanilla extract

2 Cups Grated Carrot

1 (8 ounce) Can of Crushed Pineapple, drained

1 (3 & 1/2 ounce) can Flaked Coconut

1 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS FOR CAKE:

Spray 3  (9 inch) round cake pans with cooking spray

Stir together first 4 ingredients - set aside

Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed until smooth

Add flour mixture (that you had set aside) beating at low speed until blended

Fold in carrot and next 3 ingredients

Pour even amounts of batter into pans

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until fork comes out clean

Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze (see below for recipe) evenly over layers while still hot 

Cool in pans for 15 minutes

Remove from pans and cool completely 

Spread cream cheese frosting (see recipe below) between layers and on top and sides of cake

INGREDIENTS FOR BUTTERMILK GLAZE:

1 Cup of Sugar

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Cups of Buttermilk

1/2 Cup of Butter

1 Tbsp of Light Corn Syrup

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

* Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large pot over medium - high heat.  Boil, stirring often, 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla

INGREDIENTS FRO CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

3/4 Cups of Butter, softened

1 (8 ounce) package of Cream Cheese, softened

1 (3 ounce) package of Cream Cheese, softened

3 Cups Sifted Powdered Sugar

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract

* Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth

 

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Dear Younger self: you've got it all wrong

Dear Younger self: you've got it all wrong

"Are you going to do it Mom?"

"I think so."

"Are you nervous?"

"Yes, terrifed actually"

"Then why are you going to do it?"

"Because as nervous as I am, I know that if I don't do it I will look back one day in the not too far away future and wish that I did.  I will wonder what I had been thinking when I had said no."

"That's a good reason Mom."

Good enough for me.  Good enough because 13 years ago my husband asked me to be in one of his music videos and I said no, I let another woman take the part.  

I said no because I had just had two babies in a row. I said no because I wasn't back in my pre-baby shape.  I said no because I thought I looked tired.  I said no because I thought someone else would do it better than me.  I said no because I didn't understand that real, unshakeable confidence doesn't come from a number on a scale, a reflection in a mirror, a false approval from strangers.

How many times has someone wanted to take a photo of you and your kids or you and your husband or (gasp!) you alone and you have expertly averted the situation and got yourself out of that photo op? We become pros, us women, at taking the spotlight off ourselves when we don't feel how we think we should look.  

I will be the first one to advocate taking care of your health and you in general - you look good you feel good right? Absolutely!  But the confidence that comes with looking good on the outside when the inside is a complete contradiction is short lived, it's surface level, it's easily shook and it's always fleeting.

As much as we begrudge the aging process because of the physical challenges it presents to us, it brings something we don't have in our 20's, for some of us even our 30's.  

It brings us the gift of experience.  Experience brings knowledge.  Knowledge brings power.  And power is what brings unshakeable confidence.  

The power to internally feel like you can walk into any situation with a "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" attitude.  It's not abrasive, it's not boastful. It's quiet, it's humble, it's an internal peace I spent years looking for.

 

 

At 43, I may have moments when I wish my skin looked younger and my body kept weight off with one trip to the gym like it did when I was 30, like it did the first time I said no to being in a video.  Like it did the time I let someone else take "my" place. 

At 43, I have found an inner confidence that I wish I could go back and shower my younger self with - from the inside out, not the outside in.  

I wish I could tell her not to put so much value in what others say.  Others will talk about you, others will come and go in your life, let them go - the ones worthy of you will stay.

I would tell her that no one is as hard on her as she is on her self.  I would tell her that no one sees the flaws that she does.  I would tell her that her husband doesn't focus on the fact that she hasn't lost all the baby weight, he is too focused on how well she is doing being a new Mother to their children.

Have you ever looked back on a photo and thought, "wow,  I looked good back then?"  Did you really feel that way about yourself at the time though?  Or were you too busy picking apart your appearance?

How about if you looked at that same photo and thought, "wow, look what a great Mom/Wife/Daughter/Friend I was being in this photo"??? 

Do you remember when I posted over Fall break saying I had gone in the ocean with my kids more than I probably ever had?  I had my photo taken with them IN MY SWIMSUIT!  Because at 43, I realize that when they look back on these photos one day, it won't be their Moms body they will picking apart, it will be the memory they will be reminded of.

When we let our insecurities run our lives we miss out on experiences we don't get back.  We miss out on making memories, we miss out on documenting those memories to have to look back on one day. We watch our lives from the sidelines.

When we lead with confidence as Mothers, Wives and Friends we give the people around us security too.  How can we tell our children to reach for the stars when we aren't sure we deserve them ourselves?  

At one point during the video shoot, a guy on the crew (who was from Argentina) gave someone in our group a compliment that she didn't accept (in his opinion ;)  and he said,

"in Argentina, if we ever hear a woman put herself down we immediately have to tell her she is wrong, it's our job to build them up." he followed with,

"it can make it hard to find a woman who thinks you are good enough because they are all so confident" haha.... he wasn't kidding.

His statement reminded me of something I have watched since our daughter was born 8 years ago.

I've always said to my husband, "her expectation for a future man in her life is going to be completely unrealistic, she will never find anyone that treats her as well as you do."

Although I'm pretty sure that may be part of his plan to keep her at home forever,  I think he may be on to something.  At 8 years old she has a confidence that I am often in awe of.  There is nothing she thinks she cannot achieve, no obstacles she cannot overcome and Lord help anyone who tries to bring her down.

I think it's unrealistic to think that at some point in her life her confidence won't take a hit, I can only hope that it will be momentary.

When the day finally came to shoot the video of course I was nervous.  For real though, it lasted about an hour, it lasted until my husband showed up.  And it wasn't just because he told me I looked good (although that was an added bonus).  

The nervousness was extinguished by the confidence, internal confidence I had within me that no one else could take my place, no one else belonged there more than I did.  I knew there was no one else he would rather have there so why not act like it?

The things that give me confidence may not be the same things that do for you.  I may hold value in things that you may not and vice versa.  

What I know today though is that I only listen to the opinions of people I care about - and I mean REALLY care about.  

I do the best I can to take care of myself and exercise so I can be healthy and strong.  For ME, exercise gives me a mental & physical confidence that's hard to explain.  It keeps me feeling in control, stable, powerful.

I try to be the same (no wait...better) woman that my husband married 17 years ago.  Being confident isn't always about doing things for yourself, sometimes it's in knowing what you can do for someone else.

When your husband gives you a compliment, say thank you.  

When your kids have a momentous experience, get in the photo with them.  

When your kids ask you to get in the water, swim.  

And when their Dad asks you to be in his music video, say yes.  

 

 

 

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Easy Baked Ziti

Easy Baked Ziti

This is a household favorite! And better yet, easy to make!  I love a one dish dinner, just add a loaf of crunchy bread and a salad and your meal is complete!

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 pound Ziti Pasta

1 Pound Italian Sausage (ground) choose mild or hot based on your preference 

3 & 1/2 Cups Marinara Sauce

1 Can Diced Tomatoes

3 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Salt (1 tsp to boil in water)

Fresh Black Pepper (1 tsp)

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Boil salted water and cook pasta until al dente (tender but still slightly firm) drain and place in a large bowl, allowing to cool for a few minutes.

Cook sausage in a skillet until no longer pink, drain off any fat and add to bowl with pasta.

Add the marinara, 1 cup of mozzarella and season with black pepper

Toss everything in the bowl together until combined well

Transfer pasta mixture to a 9x13 baking dish (oiled or sprayed with cooking spray)

Add remaining mozzarella evenly over pasta, you can add more cheese if you want, or even drop a few spoons of ricotta cheese on top

Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and slightly browned on top

Enjoy!

 

 

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not your mama's meatloaf

not your mama's meatloaf

Did your Mom force you to eat this when your were growing up?  I know for me, I could not stand this dish as a kid and swore to myself I would NEVER eat it as an adult!

Then one day a friend of mine said, "I'm making meatloaf for dinner" and I was like, "whyyyy would you do that to your family?" and she said, "you need to try this, your husband will love it!".  

Well she was right, and I loved it too!  I substitute extra lean ground beef for the original ingredient of regular beef and I will use whole wheat bread crumbs instead of white but do what you love.  

This is amazing with extra ketchup on top after you've cut the slices (in my opinion) and I serve it with mashed potatoes (sweet potatoes if you're being extra healthy) and a vegetable.  

Did you see my insta story about the jarred sweet red cabbage? It goes amazing with this!

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 large Egg

1/2 Cup of soft Bread Crumbs

1/2 Cup of Green Pepper

1/2 Cup of Diced White Onion

1/2 Cup of Diced Celery

* cut your pepper, onion and celery into as small of pieces as you can to ensure they cook quickly

1/4 Cup of Chopped White Mushrooms

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 Garlic Clove, Minced

1 & 1/2 pounds of Ground Beef

1/2 Cup of Ketchup (extra for topping at the end)

1 tbsp of Water

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixing bowl, combine first 9 ingredients (everything except the beef and ketchup) and mix together with hands

Add beef, mix with hands - I know its kind of gross but you can do it and it makes for a better texture!

Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and stuff beef mixture into pan, pressing gently to make sure mixture is evenly distributed.

Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes

stir ketchup and water together and spread evenly on top of meatloaf

Continue baking another 50 minutes

Let stand 5-10 minutes once finished.

I love to add ketchup at this point, but you can leave it plain or add another sauce of your choice.  

I'd say to refrigerate any leftovers but I'm pretty sure you won't have any!

 

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