Easter – There is not greater love, than laying your life down for another.

4 04 2012

by Daniela Schwartz

Easter is upon us and as I write this I’m currently milking the last minutes of an extended nap of my little one. I’ve spent the last 5 days in denial of sorts, I’ve pinched a nerve in my neck which has caused all levels of pain and headaches. I don’t do sick well. I do not rest well. It is a busy week planning to celebrate my husbands existence for 40 years, planning a gathering of family to celebrate Easter. I keep telling my body to get a grip we don’t have time for this. Then I surrender to my bed in a sea of self pity. I need to rest.

In the fog this has created over my day to day, I have woken up from a long needed nap with Easter on my heart. It is a holiday that stirs so much in me. I feel Jesus closer. I feel thankful I have been the recipient of the greatest love of all. While being completely consumed with myself, God reawakened of sorts an awareness to the most selfless man to have walked the earth. Jesus.

Jesus. My promise of eternity. He is the person who saw my everything (the good, the bad and very ugly) and said I love you any ways, and I’m going to lay it all down for you. I’ll even die for you. When I fall, He picks me up. When I hurt, He heals. The hope His name brings resonates a newness in me. A promise of tomorrow. A promise of eternity. He’s the one who in my whiney, gushy, self absorbed mess this week, woke me up with a whisper. “It’s Easter, I gave it all. For you.” 

John 3:16

The Message (MSG)

 16-18“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Easter Table

29 03 2012

Looking for a little Easter Table inspiration?  I put together these three looks for you to enjoy.

From top left Gold charger from, Target, green plate Anthropologie, scratched egg Etsy, Cherry Blossom branches Pottery Barn, Water Goblet Anthropologie, green bird candle via Remodelista

Napkin, Anthropologie; Goblet, Crate and Barrel; birds on branches, Design Shimmer; naturally dyed eggs, The Carnivore and Vegetarian; Carrot Cake, Pinterest; tablecloth, Horchow; plates, Anthropologie

cloche, Williams-Sonoma; goblet, Williams-Sonoma  ceramic bunnies, Williams-Sonoma; sculptor’s plate, Anthropologie, pitcher is filled with Queen Anne’s lace, Franc Gromm Easter eggs.

Happy Easter!

Gabe’s 12th Birthday Cake Challenge

3 02 2012

I had a really hard time trying to come up with theme for Gabe’s birthday this year.  He’s officially a tween. (tears).  He’s not really into sports so a sports theme was out and that was pretty much the only idea I could find on google.   So with all the craziness around cake decorating I decided to set up a Cake Challenge for his party.

I got my cake supplies from a couple of sources.  Jesters Cake Supply I used for my fondant, rollers and impression.  They have really good prices.  Especially on the fondant.  One five pound bucket was enough for both cakes.  I also used my coupon at Michael’s to pick up a few things and I went to Scoop n’ Save which is local for me.  They always have a great selection.

I also bought chef  coats in blue in green.

My wonderful, talented friend Maria did the graphic design for me. I cut out differnent size circles in coordinating colors and hung them from the ceiling.  It turned out really cool.  For give aways I filled candy jars and added the graphic to the paper bags which the boys got to fill just before they were ready to leave.

I did some prep work before the party.  I pre made all of the cakes and icing.  I made two three tier cakes.  A ten Inch, eight inch and six inch.  Two layers for each.  I’m not going to lie….it was a lot of cake. If I were to do it again mayb a couple of styrofoam layers would of been a good idea. I also made a big batch of buttercream and big batch of royal icing and put those into rubbermaids.  Didn’t think making icing during the event was a good idea.

This is me making a complete disaster of my kitchen:

I decided before hand that part of the challenge would be to make a cake that goes with the themed colors for the party.  This helped because I bought decorations that would work.   It also made what colorings to get a lot easier.  I also enlisted the help of family and friends.  The girls in my life are amazing.  I had one friend in charge of icing bags and an adult on each team to help decorate.  The fondant is a bit challenging so the kids needed some help, and lets face it….how could we not jump in??

Important steps to cake decorating you NEED to know:

Each cake layer will need to be covered in buttercream.  middle layer and outside.

You will need something in each layer to keep them from collapsing.  I used big straws which I cut to size, but you can also use small dowels.  Straws are easier to cut though.

Buy gloves because coloring the fondant is messy!

If you’ve never done this before…. don’t worry.  That is what You Tube is for.  Watch some tutorials and do a practice cake if your nervous.  I’ve only ever made one fondant cake before this.

Upon arrival everyone got to put on their chef coats.  I had a bunch of snack off to the side so everyone could munch while they decorate. I broke everyone up into two teams. Green and Blue.  They were given the rules.

They were:

1.  The cake needs to match the theme of the party.

2. Each cake must have a figure on top that represents the birthday boy.

3. Each team member must contribute.

4.  Adults are only allowed to assist.  Not do. (We had trouble with this rule you may want to skip it)

5.  Two hours to finish.

I ordered the chef coats from Happy Chef Uniforms.  I got a really great deal and the boys got to take them home.

On with the challenge!

After planning our cakes we all dove in.  Took about three minutes to break rule number 4.

OK….I know this looks bad but I swear the kids got to do most of it!

Needed to keep the tiny chefs busy of course!

I put out a lot of snacks for the kids to munch on and half way through we took a break for pizza.

We also had a time challenge.  I member from each team had to try to eat the most freeze dried beans (you know the edible salted kind) they could in 3o seconds.  Loser had to sit out for 5 minutes.  I am so mad I didn’t get a picture because it was REALLY funny.  (They were so grossed out)

The kids were totally into it.  They worked hard and had fun.  After our time was up each team  had to carry their cakes to the “judging table” to be judged.


These two are just too cute for words.

Hope you enjoyed!

Bathtub Plug Joe the Hippo

25 01 2012

Hippo Bath plug

Bathtub Plug Joe the Hippo.

Came across this bath plug on a European website call Inewidea.  Seriously….could this be any cuter?  Love, love, love it!

Cowboy Birthday Party

18 01 2012

For Romy’s fourth birthday we threw him a cowboy party.  It was super fun and the kids loved.  Here’s what I did…

For Romy’s third birthday I decided on a cowboy theme.  It turned out really great and didn’t matter what age the kids were they enjoyed themselves.  I wish I had taken more pictures but I though I would share the ones I do have and the ideas I came up with.

Upon arrival all of kids were given a bag containing:

1.  A cowboy hat


3. plastic gun in holster (I made sure all the parents were ok with that first)

4. sheriff badges

5. fake moustaches

6. and those cute horse heads on a stick.

A lot of the guests dressed up and the  kids loved it.

I bought my decorations and party supplies off the internet, local dollar stores and party supplies.  Shopping around for whatever the current best deals saved me a ton of money.  This was a couple of years ago so it’d be worth doing a bit of exploring on your own.  If you need any info just ask and I’ll see if I can find it for you.

The cowboy boot mugs were one of my favorite finds.  I served root beer floats in them.

We played a few games shown above the kids had to shoot empty tin cans off the hay stacks.  I kept pails of water near by so it was easy to refill them.  Prizes were little plastic hopping frogs.

I gave jumping frogs and harmonicas for prizes.

Games we played included:

Shooting the tin cans off the hay piles with water guns….which then turned into a water fight (so fun).

Panning for gold.

Mike made an elevated trough out of some wood scraps, we added some sand and I put some gold-colored rocks I found in the dollar store in it.  I then punched some holes into tin pie plates for the “panning”  each child got a mini galvanized pail which, after they filled,  they then brought to the “candy store” to use to buy candy.

The kids also had a water gun fight and they took turns trying to toss rubber snakes into a cowboy boot.

I also rented a couple of the ponies for the kids as a surprise.  They loved it. Two ponies for an hour was about $200.  I actually think I could done with less time because from 3-5 the attention isnt’ quite there for long periods of time.  I let any of the neighborhood kids ride if they wanted to as well.

For dinner I served sliders, salad, hot dogs, chip….you know the usual suspects.

After dinner we moved the hay stack around a fire pit for the kids to roasted marshmallows.  It was a very dry summer so there was fire restrictions.  I found these cool cleaning burning gel packs.  No sparks and controlled flame…which I really liked since there were little ones there and it was definitely a lot safer….minus the flaming marshmallows.  Those were a little dangerous.  Oh, and the metal sharply pronged marshmallow stick…those gave me a bit of heart attack as well.

Here’s a picture of Romy with the only authentic cowboy at the party…..his Papa.

I also set up a little photo booth which I got some really great pictures of the guests.

It was a fun party.  Hope you enjoyed!

DIY Photo Pillow

17 01 2012

I was on one of my favourite websites a couple of weeks ago checking out their trends for 2012 when a came across this gorgeous pillow from Archival Decor.


I love it.  They have a lot of other versions but this is definitely one of my faves.  It costs $245.   Definitely not in my current stay at home mom budget.

So I decided to do a little researching to see if I could do something like this on my own.  First thing I looked up was how to transfer an image to fabric. There are a lot of different ways to do it but my criteria for what I wanted was that I didn’t want to be limited to the size of the image and I wanted it to be easy. I found some great instructions on A Beautiful Mess.  Great Blog.

Next I found some photos that were close to what I was looking for.


I found this one on Flicker


And this one from Etsy via a Pinterest site.

I sent them to Staples and had 11×17 laser copies made in a rich black text ( at least I think that’s what they called it)

Materials needed

A laser copy of an image- You can really do anything you want.  I think my next pillow of my dog Lucy.  Just remember if you are using anything with letters to flip it before its printed or the letters will be mirrored.

Heavy artist medium-  I grabbed a high gloss one and wish I would of got something with more of a matte finish.  After the image is transferred you can put and extra coat of medium on to help protect your image.  I picked mine up at Michaels in the artist’s paint section.  It’s a little pricey so make sure you use your Michael’s coupon they always have for 40 or 50% off.  I have the app on my phone so I always have it with me.

paint brush- any thing

fabric- (I used cotton but I think this would work on anything except stretchy)

water bottle

Soft cloth to wipe it down- I used my Norwex microfiber and it worked amazing but I think an soft cloth or microfiber would work.


Now you can either leave the image as above or trim out the white.  Please note any where you paint the medium it will transfer to the material including the white border.  So you can just be careful when painting in on or cut it out.




After you have put a good thick layer on it press it the spot you would like it on your fabric.  Smooth out any wrinkles.  Then we wait.  A few hours or overnight.  Just needs to dry before you can take it off.

After it has dried spray the back of the paper with water and let it soak in a bit.


Now things get a bit messy.  Just start carefully peeling and picking the paper off.  Be careful not to scratch to hard or your picture will come off.


When it gets to the last bit use your cloth to clean it off.  Keep wetting the image and wiping.   Voila!  Your fabric is ready.  Now you can add an extra coat of medium at this point….just remember if you picked a gloss it will make it shiny.

Make pillows any size, or what ever else you want.


I made these pillows which I love….



At about ten dollars a pillow I’m pretty happy with the results!

Hope you enjoyed.

Door Knockers

11 01 2012

Well, it’s that time of year again when all the decor comes down and somehow everything looks so barren.  The part that bothers me the most?  My front door.

So out on my travels the other day I stopped in one of my favorite local stores, La Belle Vie in Cloverdale.  Sadly she doesn’t have a website but definitely worth a trip for anyone local.  Its a small shop… bring kids with caution.

That is where I found the perfect solution to my door dilemma….

Mr. Owl

He’s so cute and exactly me, and at $17 how could I refuse?

I took some time to look up some more really cool knockers to dress up your door with.

 Anthropologie has this woodpecker knocker for $40.

I found both of these on the Restoration Hardware site. The bear knocker is $39 and the ring ranges from $28- $50 depending on the size and finish you choose.

The horse and monogrammed ring are both from Pottery Barn.  Both are priced at $37

Next is my ratty old door mat….. hope you enjoyed and hopefully inspired.

Twig tea cup

5 01 2012

I was out shopping today at superstore and found these absolutely gorgeous tea cups. Looks like the start to what may benefit a great set of dishes for spring (crossing my fingers for a teapot!). $7 for a teacup and saucer. So pretty without being too fussy…love it!



Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Shortbread cookies

22 12 2011

This one of my favorite cookie recipes I like to make at Christmas. I got the recipe out Fine Cooking’s Cookie magazine. They are so delicous and you can use any shape you want.

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 lb (1 cup) of cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

10 oz (2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour

2 tbsp. finely ground espresso beans

10 oz (2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour

For the dipping chocolate:

9 oz of semi sweet chocolate

1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), combine the butter, sugar and salt on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn’t perfectly smooth. 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and ground espresso and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don’t over mix. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a uniform thickness to ensure even baking. Cut out shapes, press scraps together and roll out again. If the dough becomes sticky refrigerate briefly. Arrange the cookies on two parchment lined cookie sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 min. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Position trays on upper and lower thirds of oven. Bake cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top. This can take 30 min to 1 hour. Rotate the pans halfway through baking to make sure they bake evenly. If the cookies are done before 30 minutes reduce temp to 275 degrees, if they take longer than an hour increase temp to 325 degrees.

Dip the baked cooled cookies.

Lay out a sheet of parchment or waxed paper on a work surface. Put the chocolate and shortening in a small heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate stirring until its smooth. Do not get any water in the chocolate or it will seize. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate. Set the cookies on the prchment and let the chocolate set up at room temperature, about two hours.

Christmas advent

19 12 2011

Last Christmas Daniela and I along with my sister-in-law and my dear friend Maria decided to take on a project. I say an amazing advent on Pottery Barn and decided we could totally do one ourselves. After sourcing out the supplies on the internet we were able to put them together. If you decide to do this one yourself get a few girls together. It is always cheaper to buy in bigger numbers. All of our children love this calendar and really looked forward to it again this year.

So here it is!

I like to put different things in….candy, maybe a little toy. I also put fun days in, one of which is usually a miss school and go do something fun day. It is all about the memories….:). I love Christmas…..

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