December 28, 2009

Dear Ikea,

Please make yourself available to us Southern folk who live in the beautiful state of Louisiana. Pretty please!!!! We spent a few days in Houston over the holidays and I got to take a little trip to Ikea. I fell in love all over again, and here are a few Ikea/cheaper alternatives to those expensive designer pieces. Fingers crossed I think the mirror may be coming home with us in the near future!!!

Norden glass-door cabinet $399 (Right image via emmas desgin blog)

Ikea Mongstad mirror $99 (Right image via apartment therapy)

Ikea Ektorp: chair $199, footstool cover $69, sofa $399, and Egeby rug $149

Image from the movie set "The Holiday"

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is please!"

Luke 2:4-14

December 22, 2009

Happiness is Homemade

Thanks once again to ebay for getting me one step closer to finishing Britt's master bed room. Who am I kidding I will never really be "finished." I found 10 yards of this amazing fabric on ebay for only $75 dollars. Amazing because of the simple fact that 1 yard would have cost me that much if I had purchased it in the stores. I emailed the seller and she sent me a sample of the fabric, the second I got it in my hands I knew it would be perfect. It's a deep rich Robin's Egg blue color with threads of chocolate brown running through the fabric. It arrived in the mail in less than a week.

A few weeks (or maybe months) later they are hanging up!!! Over the thanksgiving holidays I took my sewing machine out and finally finished one of my many sewing projects. They came out perfect, and Britt loves to pull them closed on the weekends so he can sleep late. I am still throwing around ideas for throw pillows (ha ha) but this is what it looks like for now.

We are making great progress considering 10 months ago this room had a 42" TV hanging on the wall and the mattress was on the floor (everyone scream with me "bachelor pad"). And 6 months ago it looked like this...

Don't you think with all the money I saved him on curtains we should take a trip to Zgallerie to purchase some art work for the room??? Pleassseeee

December 21, 2009

It's Not That Complicated

Nancy Meyer is a writer, producer, director and frankly a pure genius. Her movie set designs have graced many a design blogs, and all of them are sheer eye candy. Christmas Day she is going to do it again with Meryl Streep in the new movie "It's Complicated." Can I go see a movie just to get design ideas? I know you have seen some of her movies: The Parent Trap, Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday, and Father of the Bride. Each of those movie sets could be an entirely different blog post in itself. Saturday was a much needed lazy day, I got to watch two of her movies, and I fell in love with them all over again. Today I leave you with her latest and greatest set from "It's Complicated." Thanks to Traditional Home for giving us these fab photos (click on the link to check out the rest of the design set), and Jon Hutman the production designer!!

Love the color scheme in this room, very stylish and calming.

I adore this kitchen, it looks like someone really cooks in here!!
Very fitting that the star of the movie (Meryl) owns a bakery.

What a great mix of bright colors in this living room.

December 18, 2009

Sopapilla Cheesecake

I know, I thought about licking the picture on my computer screen also, but trust me it does not taste good. This has become Britt's new favorite desert, and it's so easy to make I feel guilty. My man is a simple man. I have spent hours squeezing juice out of tiny little key limes to have enough to make a pie completely from scratch, but he would not even touch it. But mix some cream cheese in a box with sugar and dinner rolls and he is the happiest man alive. I love my simple man.
We had a Mexican theme party last weekend and I was called to make desert. I have lived in Mexico for a few years off and on and admit they are not know for their amazing deserts. So I hit the internet and found this recipe, and of course had to put my personal spin on it. I was very nervous about how it would turn out but it was a major hit, and I made it again last night for another party. The only thing I want to try is next time putting an egg in the cream cheese filling, I think it will add that last star to make it a 5 star desert. But for now here is the recipe.....

2 (8 oz) cans of original crescent rolls
2 (8 oz ) packages cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven 350 degrees and grease 13x9 pan.

Mix cream cheese at room temperature, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla until smooth (be careful I burnt my hand mixer out trying to do this, make sure your cream cheese is soft)

Unroll one pack of dinner rolls and pinch the seams together, use a rolling pin to shape it into one 9x13 shape. Press into the bottom of the pan.

Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the dough in the pan. Unroll remaining pack of crescent dough and shape the same way as other piece and cover the cream cheese filling.

With a pastry brush gently brush melted butter over the top layer of crescent dough.

In a small bowl mix white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and spread evenly over entire dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. After about 20 minutes check the dough and using your pastry brush spread the butter out to the sides of the dish. (I find that the butter tends to pool in the middle and does not allow to cook evenly). Bake until the dough has puffed up and turned a nice golden brown.

Right when you take it out of the oven drizzle the entire pan with honey.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. If by some miracle you have any leftovers store in refrigerator, and those little squares are even amazingly tasty when cold.

December 17, 2009

Hey, Soul Sister

I just had to share this picture with you guys (Sorry Ray, if you get in front of my camera chances are you'll end up here!!) I took it with my Nikon D40. This photo is straight out of the camera (SOOC), no photoshop, no cropping, no enhancing, just perfection. Confession - I did play around with the picture in photoshop but nothing I did to it look as good as the original. I love when that happens......

When most people get in front of the camera they have no idea what to do. I'm by no means a professional, and when you mix and non-professional behind the camera, and a not professional in front of the camera you get tons of silly pictures. "Should I smile or be serious? What do I do with my hands?" To which I answered "I don't know." My motto on taking pictures is to take as many as possible and you are bound to get one great pic. After we got through the silliness (i.e. sticking a tennis racket in your face), she looked to the side to see a car turning down the driveway, and my camera captured the natural movement. I love this picture of her, it reflects the essence of who she is - fit, sporty, and beautiful.
This is my cousin Rachel, our mothers are sisters, she grew up with three brothers, so I have adopted her as my little sister (and best friend). She came to me a few weeks ago in need of a picture of herself doing something kinda sporty. We looked through some old photos I had taken of us playing volleyball on the beach last summer, but nothing really worked. I suggested we take new pictures, and what some may call a photo-shoot emerged. We had fun and as always laughed alot.
I also wanted to share some new "Actions" that I downloaded on the internet from some smart people who know a hell of alot more about photoshop than I do. It's been really fun playing around with different pictures and different actions.

Left picture is a boost action and on right a vintage action

Left picture is a heartland action and seventies action on the right

December 16, 2009

Picture Perfect: Wallpaper

I have a new found passion for wallpaper. To be honest I have become down right obsessed and the only way to cure my obsession its to put some paper on a wall. Britt has a spare bedroom and another bedroom being used as an office that currently has been untouched by yours truly. My only question is how long will it take me to convince him that he needs an accent wall full of paper? So here is my first attempt. Look how completely amazing these walls are!!! (Sorry I don't remember where I got the first two images.)

Image via Burke Decor

December 14, 2009

Buddy O Fitness Pal

It's official I no longer look good in my itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini!!! And I refuse to wait till "after Christmas" or for my "New Years resolution." Today is the day people, and I am soliciting your support: join with me and be my friend (user name: annmarie337). No fears - its totally free!!! When you have something that is total free I am usually going to give it a try. I joined My Fitness Pal last year about this time and with the help of the website and a 6 week boot camp I finally kicked those pesky 10 lbs that lurk in my belly. One year later and those lbs have creeped back and I blame it all on my boyfriend, and that Key Lime Pie. My Fitness Pal is the coolest online calorie counter out there, and yes fellow iphoners: they have an app for that!!! After you enter your weight, height, and goals it will tell you how many calories you can have per day. And simply begin logging your food. They have a huge database so just about anything you can fit in your mouth they can count the calories for you.

Here is a screen shot of my food diary for the day so far:

And below is the screen shot of my exercise diary for today. Proudly I was up at 5am preparing for a "nice and smooth" spin class with my favorite instructor. The website adds whatever calories you burned during your exercise back into what you can eat for the day. So if you overeat just get your butt in the gym and work it off. You can even run reports on your progress, the geek in my loves all the graphics and charts!!

Did I mention its all completely FREE!!!

December 10, 2009


I have been so busy this week which makes me a bad blogger. I have many projects going on around the house and as soon as time allows I will put the finishing touches on them and snap some pictures for you guys. Over the Thanksgiving holidays I found some amazing fabric on ebay and sewed curtains for Britt's bedroom. I am still in pursuit of more fabric to make pillows for the bedding. I have also taken on a huge project re-covering an old ottoman and just to make it a little more difficult I am using a printed fabric. I am about 70% done thanks to the help of my dear friend Clare. We got a new faucet for the spare bathroom, and I want to do a little "picture tutorial" "do it yourself" "how to" on changing out the faucet. It's really easy, as I learned last time. So, many new things to come but my mind and body are preoccupied with things at work and personal things. Hopefully, I can get back to my projects and more importantly blogging about them soon.

In the mean time I leave you with a picture of my favorite rose. The John Paul II rose, its white and creamy and smells like a flowery heaven. I cut back my rose bushes on labor day in preparation for the winter, but winter has not come our way yet so my roses are in full bloom. The buds are a bit smaller than the summer buds but they smell just as sweet. I also heard this famous poem on "Brothers and Sisters" last Sunday and it warmed my heart - it was also in the film "In Her Shoes." It has been a favorite of mine since studying ee cummings in college. His style is all his own and its all about rule-breaking with spelling and punctuation. The perfectionist side of me cringes at the site of the poem but then again I have never been good at spelling and punctuation. I remember as a young child having to show my report card to my Dad having my first "D" in spelling. I hated spelling anything from that point on. So go ahead Mr. ee and dance to the beat of your own drum and rock the world with your simple elegant love words!!! This poem captures the beauty of romance and at the same time capturing that deep eternal connection shared with the ones we love.

This one is for you Britt!!

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

December 02, 2009

Mickey Blue Eyes

My favorite niece in the whole world has the most beautiful big blue eyes. I think she sometimes gets tired of me telling her how beautiful she is but I really can not help myself. Last night we took a few pictures in front of the Christmas tree to send cards out to friends and family. I did a little editing on one of the photos to bring out her already blue eyes.

The first picture on the left is straight out of the camera (SOOC), the picture on the right is a little photoshop action I like to call "Bring on the Eyes!" I sharpened the pic up a little, cropped the bottom, and touched up her smile and voila - can everyone say with me SHAA BABY!!!

Their are many different ways to make eyes pop in photoshop. One of the easiest ways is:
1- Zoom in on just the eyes and use the lasso tool to trace around the eye.
2- Click "Select" and "Feather" and enter the number 10 (helps blend the lines).
3- Click "Filter" and "Unsharp Mask" then slide the bar to slightly sharpen.
Be very careful not to sharpen the eyes to much or you subject will start to look like they are from another planet. The 10% of photoshop that I actually understand has become highly addictive for me. The other 90% is just down right frustrating.

Banana Nut Cupcakes

Art Smith was Oprah's personal chef for years, he is now the proud owner of Table 52 in Chicago. Going eat at his restaurant is on my "things to do before I kick the bucked list." He is on my top ten list of favorite chefs, and I have quite a few of his cookbooks. The recipe below is adapted from Art's Hummingbird Cake, I like to call it "Banana Nut Bread on Crack." I love cupcakes, so I have turned his cake recipe into cupcakes. I guess it makes me fill special to have my own personal little cake instead of a piece of someone else's cake. As a child I was never good at sharing, I guess my little flaw has followed me into adulthood. So yes, I turn many cake recipes into cupcakes for everyone. I like to make these the day before because they become moist, dense, and flavorful if you let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. They are still excellently amazing if you eat them right out the oven, but this is one of those recipes that is better the next day.
Banana Nut Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped ripe bananas
8 ounce can (1 cup) of drained crushed pineapple
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 pound confectioners' sugar (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

This recipe will make about 18 cupcakes, so take you pans out and place 18 cupcake liners in each individual cup. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift all the dry ingredients into one large bowl (flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt). In a different bowl, stir or whisk all the wet ingredients (bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs and vanilla) until they are combined. Do not use as electric mixer, you want small chunks of banana and pineapple in your mixture, not a glob of mush. Pour into the dry mixture and gently fold together with a large spatula just until smooth. After the dry and wet ingredients are combined, fold in the pecans. Spread evenly into the lined cupcake pans.
Bake until each cupcakes turns slightly golden brown on the top, this usually takes 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to wire racks and let cool.

Now the best part of these little buggers - the icing. Use an electric mixer on high speed to mix the cream cheese and butter (it is easier to work with cheese and butter when both are at room temperature). On medium/low speed, gradually mix the confections sugar, once all the sugar is added then add the vanilla.

Spread a generous amount of icing on each cupcake. Store cupcakes uncovered in the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!!

December 01, 2009


I am a sucker for a classic, so when I came across designer Coralie Bickford-Smith's exclusive Penguin books I was smitten. Must get, must have, must read, must be in my life. They look beautiful and a little sassy. I ordered my first two books from and received them via mail this weekend. They are so beautiful and fit right at home on the old dresser. For an upclose and personal look at the other book covers you can check out their flickr page here. Pictured below are my babies - Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

It's cold and rainy today, I would so love to be curled up next to a fire with these books and a toddy of warm eggnog (it is December -uggg). Getting lost in words like thither, mischance, and felicity instead of crunching numbers and returning calls. A girl can only dream!!

Instead I am sitting in my office, in front of these computer screens. I have 3 inch heels on and my dogs are freezing. I can not seem to keep my hands warm. I keep looking outside waiting for the sun to burst through long enough to go out for lunch. It feels like your typical Monday, but its really Tuesday which means no football to look forward to. Save me Mr. Darcy!!!

November 24, 2009

I Am Such A Copy Cat

Kids need a funky bright room to call all there own, I think it allows them to be creative. I found this modern boy's room on and it was love at first sight. It is in the Beaux Arts mansion in St. Louis. They have a beautiful large tree mural in the bedroom/playroom on the right wall. The upholstered tan beige bed is wonderful and very poplar. The yellow chair is so fun and really brightens up the room with the black and white striped pillow to accent the chair and pull in the curtains. I like the modern pendant light, but would defiantly suggest more recessed lighting. You can not forget to use and orange accent like she did with the book and flowers on the nightstand. Lime Green, bright yellow, teal, black, orange, all colors totaly outside my comfort zone, but I think for these results I could make it fit.
This one is for you Amy, little Jackers would flourish in this cool creative room in his soon to be new house. Can you just see the letter J with the bird sitting on it.

It's CopyCat time (where I would get the cheaper stuff to recreate this room):

Wall color I love Benjamin Moore Bone White with rug from Target - Shag Rug in winter white, but white rugs in kids rooms are scary to me:

This Trellis Wallpaper from Ballard Designs would be a great alternative:

Bedding from Pottery Barn (and they will do the monograming on the pillows, I am a sucker for monogramed stuff). The teal colored coverlet on the end of the bed is such a great color, I found one at Crate and Barrel very close to the color in the room.

For the curtains I would go with a more leaf or damasks pattern instead of the flowers because its a boys room, I love this fabric on the left from Robert Allen but they have great fabric on ebay for amazing prices. I just got 10 yards of Kravet fabric for curtains in the bedroom for $75 total. On the right is a great curtains from Peir One in the damasks black and white.

The adorable lamps in the room are from Jonathan Adler white giraffe lamps ($395) per lamp - ouch, not gonna happen. He also has horse lamps that are equally adorable. If you are on the same budget as little old me an alternative is Pottery Barn Kids with the duck or elephant and just change out the lamp shade, or just plain white lamps. End Tables are also Jonathan Adler but I would elect to find old matching end tables at a flea market or garage sale and paint them this Vibrant Lime color...

And finally some accents. The stuffed animals, the gator on the side of the bed to catch the boggy man under the bed, this one is from Out of the Toy Box, sooo cute. The oversized zinc letters and I would throw in that vintage rotary phone both from Anthropologie.