Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gender Reveal Party!!

One of our really good friends is pregnant!  Jessica just passed the halfway mark in her pregnancy and is looking great!  Seriously, she is one of those women who look adorable pregnant, just glowing! Not to mention she is tiny with just a little belly bump!  

Anyway, about a month ago I shot her the idea about doing a gender reveal party and she and her husband were very excited about it!  If you haven’t heard the concept of a gender reveal party, a lot of friends and family come together to reveal the gender of the baby.

I have seen a box open and balloons (pink or blue) come out, cakes being cut, and cake balls being bit into with the color reflecting the baby.  We chose the cake ball method!  I hosted another gender reveal shower in April of 2013, so click here for more ideas!

The couple found out on Thursday what the baby’s gender was, and she reported to me so I could make preparations for the party on Saturday.

(Hey - looking for more ideas? Check out my friend Emily's Burlap Bridal Shower or check out the April 2013 gender reveal party!)

To greet our guests at the front door

We then covered the place in balloons in the entry way (ooops.. didn’t take a picture), we also put balloons hanging from our ceiling.  Who needs helium?

We had lots of food, but my favorite was the “Jessica Craves it table”.  During her pregnancy, she has craved a lot of different foods, but these are her favorites:
Perfect snacks for the Mom to be!!

I also made sausage balls, cookies, and tons of other foods for those not pregnant and craving odd snacks!

We set up some activities, including a voting board where each person could guess the gender.

Then we had a name suggestion spot… this was mostly funny names.  My favorite was “Jacob” as our friend Jessica loves Twilight, and is on Team Edward :)

Then came time to reveal the babies gender at the dessert table.  Each person took a cakeball and ate one…
other snacks included pepperoni bites and chicken poppers


Pink Cake Balls!  (Again... sorry for the blurry picture.. there was a lot of movement and excitement)

The happy couple revealed her name… Mackenzie Lynn…. What a cute name!

We then presented the couple with a book that each guest passed around and wrote in messages for the baby.

This was my favorite part of the party.  People wrote funny, serious, sentimental things, or a combination.

Here were my responses:

I hope you learn another language
I hope you aren't afraid of failure
i hope you love Jesus
I hope you get all you wish for
I hope you laugh every day
I hope you never forget to pray
I hope you ignore negativity
I hope you become self confident
I hope you respect your mom and dad
I hope you grow old with the one you love.

Aunt Marina

It was a great night!  I can’t wait until December to meet little Mackenzie!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monkey Madness in The Kitchen

I don’t follow directions.   Actually, that’s a complete lie.  I am meticulous about directions.  Even in kindergarten each report card had some sort of variation that included “talkative” and “good at following teacher’s directions”
Well, this time I was a terrible direction follower.  I read 3 different recipes, each with different ingredients for MONKEY BREAD.  This time I really didn’t READ the directions, I just read the ingredients section. The results, however, were AMAZING!  
Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 3-4 packets of non-flakey biscuits (I used Pillsbury because they have a pack of 4 already!)
  • ¾ cup of brown sugar
  • ¾ cup of white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 large Ziploc bag (gallon size or larger)
  • ¼ cup of sugar (white or brown, your pick) for later
  • A greased Bundt pan

Step-by-step directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (I spelled out Fahrenheit because it is a hard word to spell… maybe we should just call it 350 degrees Fer, so much easier… anyway)
  2. Pour the ¾ cup of white and brown sugar along with the cinnamon in the large Ziploc bag.  Shake it up really well so it is all blended together!

3Open up each of the biscuit cans and chop each individual biscuit into 4 small pieces…

4. Then put the pieces of biscuits in the gallon size bag.  Shake them up so they are really covered.  Really, Really covered.

5. Now grease up  your Bundt, and pour your little pieces into the pan.  Try to make it even.  Now, you don’t want to waste all that extra sugar/cinnamon delicious mix… so go ahead and even sprinkle that over the top  

6. Take your stick of butter and your sugar (I used white… no real reason why, just did) and put in a sauce pan.  Keep stirring until the butter is fully melted and the sugar is combined all together. 

7. When the butter/sugar combination is mixed up and ready to go, pour evenly all over the biscuits.

8. Pop into the oven for 30 minutes (some ovens may take longer, but mine was perfectly wonderful at 30) Wait 5-10 minutes and then flip the Bundt upside-down on your serving plate.  It should slide out fairly easily (there was a lot of butter!!) but if it does give it a little knock and it will fall

9. Serve, eat, and enjoy.  Depending on your level of etiquette, you can have guests use their forks to take some off.  Or you can be like a domesticated duchess and pick it off with your fingers.  After all, your family has the same germs as you (right?)

    PS: If there is any left, make sure to cover it up!  I put mine in airtight Tupperware, and don’t put in the fridge because I warm it up in the microwave again J
    PSS: On second thought, if you have any left, please mail to my house!!

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Brownies – 2 Ways!

    These are the perfect brownies if you like your brownies with a topping.  I find they are best with either Cream Cheese Frosting or Milk Chocolate Icing.

    Last night after dinner my husband had subtly hinted how delicious my brownies (with cream cheese frosting) were.  I love my homemade brownies, but rather than cream cheese frosting, I much prefer a chocolate icing (what can I say, I am a choco-holic).

    While my husband was out playing golf, I decided to run some errands.  It was ridiculously hot outside.  Welcome to summertime in Texas.  Anyway, I knew he would come home tired and very hot.  What a better thing to come home to then his favorite dessert? 

    Here is the recipe for the BEST brownies, with recipes for both types of frosting (depending on what your taste-buds fancy most).

    You’ll Need:
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
    • 1 cup of white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup Cocoa
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (NOT baking SODA!)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan (make sure to get the sides really well!). 

    Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl.

    Add in eggs and beat into the mixture;
    Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended.

    Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. 

    Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.

    If you’re feeding a big crowd, double the recipe and bake in a 9x13! Increase the baking time just a few minutes! 

    Cream Cheese Frosting:

    What you’ll need

    • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
    • 1/2 package of cream cheese, softened
    • 2 sifted cups of powdered sugar (more depending on your sweet tolerance!)
    • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
    • **If you double the recipe, double the ingredients!!                        

    Put softened butter and cream cheese in bowl.  Add vanilla and salt.  Beat in sugar, ½ cup at a time. Enjoy!

    All frosted and ready to eat!!


    Alternate, Milk Chocolate Icing:
    • What You’ll Need:
    • 6 tablespoons of milk (skim, 1%, 2%, whole… whatever!)
    • 6 tablespoons of softened butter
    • 1 ½ cups of white sugar
    • 1 cup of milk chocolate chips (you can use semi-sweet or dark chocolate, I just like milk chocolate for this recipe)
    • Dash of Vanilla Extract
    • *This is for a 9x13 pan, so if you use my recipe above, cut this in HALF! Or you can use it all, for extra THICK icing (this is generally my choice!) 

    Combine the milk butter and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring to boil

    Allow to cook at a rolling boil for 30 seconds, and immediately remove from heat

    Add chocolate chips and vanilla to the milk mixture, stirring frequently until the chips are melted

    Poor IMMEDIATELY over warm brownies.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Painting & Wine Night

    Earlier in the week, I met with four fabulous friends at a place called "Painting with a Twist".   A teacher guides you in painting a picture step by step - and the twist you can bring your own wine, food, etc.  There are several locations throughout the city, and different companies - including "Pinot's Palette" 

    So the five of us grabbed wine, snacks, etc and decided to paint!  It was a lot of fun, and even though we all were taught by the same teacher, and had the same supplies each painting looked quite different! 

    The only problem I have now is deciding where to hang it!
    Midnight Cherry Blossoms!

    Now to get this paint off my hands...

    Washing up,
    Domesticated Duchess

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Wooden Wall Art

    The hubs, ben [the dog], and I live in a house with a very open floor plan.  That being said, one of the first rooms people look at is our dining room. I decided I wanted to create some art to hang on both sides of the arch that leads into the kitchen. 

    This was definitely a little more complicated than most of my creations, but it was a great learning experience, and they look pretty awesome.  And you can get it all from Lowe’s or Home Depot for under $55.

    Here is a step by step guide on how to make these modern yet classic pieces of art.  I did forget to take some pictures of the early steps, I will try to do better next time.  [Sorry, rookie blogger]

    What you’ll need:
    • Door mat 
    • 2 Wood boards (1” x 12” x 6 feet)
    • Spray paint (I used ivory)
    • 1 can of wood finish/stain (I used mahogany color because that matches my china cabinet)
    • Patience  (highly recommended, however, optional) 


    First Take the wood boards that are 12” x 1” x 6 feet and saw these in half so you have 4 boards that are 12” x 1” x 3 feet  (Home Depot will do this FOR FREE). 

    Stain the wood.  Wait for a long time for these dry. I mean a long time, best to leave overnight. Here are my boards, after I stained them: 

    Pick out a pretty door mat that you love.  You can also use one you already have, we're basically just using this as a giant stencil. 
    Take the door mat and place over the boards and spray paint.  I did three coats.  One directly on top, and one from the left and right sides to ensure proper coverage (now I sound like an encyclopedia).

    Leave the mat on for at least 30 minutes before removing. This will be hard.

    You will want to peak.  So go walk your dogs, watch tv, tie your hands behind your back, take a bath, just GO AWAY. 30 minutes.  Not 26.  Not 29. 30 entire minutes. If you don’t wait then you’ll mess up your board (like I did, one of my sets if clearly better than the other).

    Lift up your mat carefully. Squeal with delight.

    Add hooks to the back.  Get our your nails and hooks and start hanging! Or just stand back and say "higher...lower" as your husband/best friend/brother do the hard work :)

    You’re officially a crafty lady!

    -Domesticated Duchess 

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Dress up your soap!

    I have big plans for my tiny powder bathroom.

    I have added new pictures, potpourri, a chrome toilet paper stand, and I have also enlisted my mother to assist me in selecting a fabulous mirror to replace the one currently on the wall.

    However, something else was needed. 

    This my friends, is straight up U-G-L-Y.  More ugly because I took it on my iPhone and apparently I moved my hand.  However, it does smell really good :)

    So I decided to spruce it up.  I went to Target and bought a nice soap dispenser.  Then I went to HobLob (my endearing term for Hobby Lobby) and picked up some inexpensive pearls in the bead section.  I poured them into my nice pump, poured in some clear soap and voila! I added a few more pearls so they would appear to be floating on top.

    I also have a TON of white ribbon, so I decided to add a little bow (which I need to retie).  Voilà!

    Cute, Inexpensive & Exceptionally Easy! 

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Avocado & Black Bean Salad

    A Perfect Dish for Summer!

    I use any excuse I can to eat avocado.  In fact, I truly believe a woman can never have enough shoes or enough avocado. This recipe is perfect for the summer – fresh, healthy, and delicious (and full of avocado)! This is an edited version of Gina’s recipe at skinnytaste.   

    What you’ll need:

    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (I personally don’t like things too “beany” so if you leave out a bit – maybe a quarter cup that is perfectly OK!)
    • 1 ½ cup of sweet corn (I used frozen!)
    • 2 small roma tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 small avocados, diced
    • ½ cup red onion, chopped

    For the dressing:
    • Juice of 3 limes (there are only 2 in the picture, because I apparently wasn't paying attention)
    • 1 ½ tsp of olive oil
    • 1 bunch of cilantro
    • salt/pepper to taste

    1.  Thaw out corn
    2.  Rinse your black beans and put them in your serving bowl.
    3.  Put corn over beans in bowl
    4.  Chop tomato and add over corn
    5.  Dice avocado and add in the mix
    6.  Chop half the red onion and poor over avocado
    7.  Admire the pretty colors!!

     1. Squeeze the three limes with all your might to get the juice
     2. Put in 1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil
     3. Put a few leaves of cilantro
     4. Add pepper and salt to taste
     5. Wisk together
     6. Poor over salad
     7. Server and enjoy! 

    Pair up with some grilled chicken and serve this up on the side!  And perhaps with a glass of Riesling on a warm, summer evening :)

    As a side note, next time I won't be adding onion... it just doesn't need it!! 

    Chowing Down.. I mean signing out ;)
    -Domesticated Duchess

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Let their be Light!

    An Easy Outdoor Upgrade

    The hubs, the dog [Ben!], and I live in a quiet little neighborhood. However, when you are a domestic duchess there is always something brewing.  Last week was no different.  I saw our neighbors replacing the standard (read: not so fabulous) light fixtures outside their home with new pretty ones.

    I decided to go to Home Depot to check out what they had, and was astonished by the cost!  I didn’t  LOVE or even LIKE our light fixtures, but I definitely did not HATE them enough to throw out that kind of cash.  I really like the shape,  but couldn’t get over the tacky gold color.

    So, the hubs and I left the lighting section of the store and went to the paint section.  We did a nice little upgrade, for the cost of a can of black semi-gloss outdoor paint. 

    What you’ll need:
    • Grit Sandpaper
    • Masking Tape
    • Outdoor paint  & paintbrushes
    • Rags

    1. Turn off the power supply to the exterior lights at the fuse
    2. Using masking tape, cover carefully all areas you don’t want the paint on (like the glass)… you may have to get out scissors to get this done just right
    3. Lightly sand the fixture with the sandpaper to rough up the surface
    4. Take the rag and get all dirt off
    5. Spray the light fixture with primer before painting (OPTIONAL)
    6. Carefully paint the paint, make sure to look at it from different angels to ensure you didn’t leave any spots. Let dry for 30 minutes.  Give second coat
    7. Turn power supply on



    For the record, painting is easier if you take them OFF the wall.  However, the hubs was working and I have an extreme sense of urgency, and could not wait another minute!  This worked fine, just be extra careful and take your time painting :) 

    Signing out,
    Domesticated Duchess

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Baby Fever

    So it begins…  with a lot of my friends talking about babies, trying to conceive, and actually getting pregnant baby fever has commenced!

    Everything baby is precious.. tiny, cute, small.  It is like the adult version of Barbie.

    That being said, when a good friend of my husband announced she was having a baby boy named Mason, I got into crafting gear. I had two weeks before we’d go out of town to visit them and to come up with some craft for this little bundle of joy.

    Here’s what we came up with:

     ta-da! my first baby craft! This was taken with my iPhone, so I apologize for the poor quality/light. 

    Details of buttons, fabric, and ribbons

    Here is this nice little sign that can be for indoor or outdoor, just change out the ribbon with some wire! The sign has vinyl covering so it's outdoor safe :)

    Pretty cute, huh? 

    I even made another one for a girl, because I have another friend who will find out in about two weeks if she’s expecting a girl or boy.

    Thanks to Hobby Lobby and Michael’s for providing me countless hours of entertainment.  I think they should provide me with some stock options since I spend so much money there J

    Or just make checks out to
    -Domesticated Duchess

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Project I : Blogging

    Greetings world wide web! Or most likely, just my mom :)

    My passions are cooking, baking, designing, decorating and crafting.  This little area of the WWW is just for my projects. Hopefully I can give some ideas to my fellow bakers or DIY crafters. Or at the very least, document my work and projects.  

    I consider myself technologically advanced, but this blogging thing is more difficult then I had originally anticipated (backgrounds, widges, etc.) what a headache! I'm ready to master this though! Hopefully, you'll enjoy this adventure with me!

    -Domesticated Duchess