Vote for Lily’s room on Apartment Therapy!

18 Sep

Guess what happened? I entered Lily’s room (in its old toddler-bed-form) in Apartment Therapy’s Room For Color contest and it was chosen! I was so thrilled when it popped up on the site on Monday.

apartment therapy lily

Remember when our living room was featured in this same contest a couple years ago? Maybe I’ll enter a different room every year!

apartment therapy living room

Would you be so kind to log onto Apartment Therapy and vote for Lily’s room? They’re giving away a $200 Sherwin Williams gift card and a $1000 Fab.com gift card to each division winner!

Just click the image below to get over to our entry and click on “Favorite”. THANKS!!!

room for color badge

To see more about Lily’s room including some updated pics, check out these posts:

House Tour: Lily’s Room Part 1 (the one where I introduce the room and show before and afters)

House Tour: Lily’s Room Part 2 (the full resource list. Disclosure: needs to be updated)

Instant Gratification: Two Quickies for the Pinterest Challenge (the one where I hang some new art)

A Name Plaque for Lily or How My 4 Year Old Taught Me a Lesson (the one where Lily makes some art)

A New Headboard for Lily (the one where I take a $6.99 thrift store headboard and turn it into something great!)

Thanks again for voting!

XO

Sue at Home

A New Old Desk by “Sophia at Home”

15 Sep

Hi! I’m Sophia, Sue’s nine year old daughter. Today, I’m going to show you how super easy it is to redo a desk for your room in just one weekend.  Welcome to Sophia at Home!

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Step 1: Ask mom for a desk for your room for the millionth time.

Step 2: Rearrange the furniture in your room for a few minutes with your mom to see if a desk will even fit. Mom gets that look in her eyes that she gets when she’s got a good idea. You can practically see the lightbulb above her head!

Step 3: Say thanks as Mom and Dad present you with a dirty old wood desk that’s been hiding in the attic for years.

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It’s pretty gross looking but you love it anyway. (You decide not to mention that the little cube is never going to work as a chair. One thing at a time. One thing at a time.)

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Step 4: Have your assistants bring it outside to the deck and gather all the supplies you’ll need: sanding block, paper towels, painters tape, primer, paint, paint brush, foam roller, paint pan, screwdriver (to open paint cans), and a hammer (to close them). Make sure you’re using Benjamin Moore paints. Duh.

Step 5: Start by sanding the top and sides of the top. (You’re only painting the top panel and leaving the legs au natural ’cause you’re cool like that.) Towel all the dust off after. Note that you should be wearing “work” clothes but that’s no reason to not have on chic protective eyewear.)

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Step 6: Tape around the edge with painters’ tape. (Multi-colored manicure optional.)

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Step 7: Paint the top with primer. Make sure you paint with the grain of the wood!

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Step 8: Get bored and take a break while your assistant finishes up.

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Step 9: Let your primer dry and call it a day.

Step 10: Get back to work in the morning. Roll on Benjamin Moore’s Mountainview (aka mint). Luckily your mom had some leftover from painting the inside of the kitchen cabinet. This is what your mom likes to call a “no cost DIY”. Note: jammies make for great “work clothes” in a pinch.

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Step 11: Let it dry and then have your assistants carry it back to your room. Thank mom profusely and then tell her about the chair problem. (Make sure you break it to her nice and easy.)

Step 12: Watch the lightbulb go off over mom’s head again as she remembers an old chair she originally planned on painting for the den for this project. It’s currently collecting dust in the garage. (Mom gets so excited about having a solution that she forgets to take a before shot of the chair but luckily she has this one from when she bought it. It’s the little black one on the left which she picked up for $2.99!)

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 Step 13: Marvel as mom takes the chair apart and proceeds to paint the legs with gold spray paint and the seat and back in paint that match your ‘new old’ desk.

Step 14: Bask in the glory of your awesome new cost-nothing desk!

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The old-school keyboard tray is now a drawer for my school supplies, jewelry, and other important kid stuff,

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Because this is a combo desk/vanity, earrings have the same prominent placement as pencils.

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Isn’t the chair unrecognizable? I love it!

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Thanks for letting me crash the blog, mom!

Bye!
XO

Sue SOPHIA at Home

Recipe: S’mores Bars

10 Aug

I’m here with a quick post to tell you about an amazing dessert I made yesterday. I didn’t photograph all the steps but I heard so many “I need the recipe!” comments at the BBQ that I brought them to, I figured I’d write a quick post to tell you where to go to find it.

s'mores pin collage

smores pic

I had never made a cookie bar before but when I saw this recipe for S’mores Bars on Life in Grace, I just had to make it. 

It starts with a cookie dough-like mix of graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, white sugar, and of course, butter. You start by spreading half of the dough into the bottom of a greased pan. (Follow Edie’s tip about spreading it with a knife dipped in warm water. I used the backside of a metal spatula – like this one – and the water trick made it really easy.) After the dough, you layer Hershey chocolate bars and then marshmallow fluff. 

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After the fluff, you just add the rest of the dough on top, add a handful of mini marshmallows, and bake. They were such a huge hit that I almost missed having one at the party! I was knee-deep in an intense game of cornhole and just couldn’t break away. You understand, right? Luckily I had Pablo snag one for me before they were gone.

It was a little time consuming but very easy. If I can make it, you can too!

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So head on over to Edie’s awesome blog Life In Grace and read her whole play-by-play of how to make them. While you’re there, check out her stunning home that’s full of personal style. Her sexy, moody master bedroom and colorful, busy workroom are two of my favorites.  

Happy baking!

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. If you can’t get enough of yummy graham cracker, chocolate, and marshallow treats, try my S’mores Parfaits too! 

smores parfait Collage

A Lalaloopsy Party for Lalalily

1 Aug

I’m back today with a belated post about Lily’s Lalaloopsy-themed birthday party. You might remember back in May, I showed you the DIY invitations I made using cardstock, washi tape, some Picmonkey layouts, and a custom Lalalily logo that my awesome sister-in-law made. (Lily says thanks Aunt Paola!)

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We lucked out with the weather once again for Lily’s party which was good because it was at our house. 

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A sign on the door with the custom Lalalily logo greeted guests and let them know they were at the right house. (FYI: That’s a Lalaloopsy doll. And a Lalalily.)lalloopsy party 034

We hired a face painter from Bella Faccia who worked on all of the kids. She came early to do Lily and Sophia and when kids arrived they got a numbered sticker on their hand so they wouldn’t have to stand in line. Ann did an amazing job and all the kids were thrilled! 

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Note to local friends: They’re the ones that are always at the Westfield streetfair on the corner of East Broad and Prospect. They’re not cheap but they were worth it!face paint collage

We also “hired” Sophia and her friend to do temporary tattoos for all the kids. We used an old Discovery Kids lemonade stand as a tattoo booth and I let the kids decorate it with neon signs I bought at the Dollar Store. They took their job very seriously and even made sure all the dads and grandpas were covered in tattoos!

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As for the desserts, I made two cakes and some chocolate covered pretzels which were so ridiculously delicious they were the surprise hit of the party.  Details coming soon. (Actually that’s a lie. The real surprise hit was my pomegranate margaritas. The kids loved them! Kidding. But they were awesome and you’ll get the recipe for those soon, too.)

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I decorated the pretzels with some rainbow colored sugars that I already had. (I mean, doesn’t everyone have decorative sugars in every color of the rainbow like I do?)

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I decorated one of the cakes with button lollipops from Oriental Trading. (It’s a Lalaloopsy thing. Don’t ask.)

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The other cake got a two-sided sign with that custom Lalalily logo. I made it by making two prints on cardstock, using a plate to trace a round shape on the top, cutting it, and then attaching the prints onto three skewers with tape. That makes it sound complicated but it really was very simple. And certainly simpler than writing the logo in frosting or crafting it out of fondant (which is far past my cake making skill set).

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Lily was not very excited about her mini Lalaloopsys being on the cake but after I promised that I’d clean them up, she allowed it. (I starting having flashbacks to a similar glue and Polly Pocket situation with Soph’s school project that strangly is my most read post. I guess a lot of people need to build wigwams.)

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If you know me, you know I like some colored cake (Exhibit A: Lily’s rainbow cake!)  so it may come as no surprise to see that the cakes were pink and turquoise inside. (Bonus: Duncan Hines has made it just too easy with pre-colored Blue Velvet and Pink Velvet vanilla flavored box mixes!)  

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For favors, I filled bags from Oriental Trading with Lalaloopsy art kits for the girls and Batman Lego sets for the boys…

lalaloopsy favor

…and then used washi tape to attach labels to each bag. 

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Lil had a great time and we were so happy to have my parents with us to celebrate! (Note to self and anyone considering having a face painter at your kid’s birthday party: Just remember that your kids will look like this in any nice family pictures from the soiree. As long as you’re cool with that, paint away!)

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Check out some other birthday parties here:

Lily’s Rainbow Birthday Party

Lily’s Luau Birthday Party

Sophia’s Glamtastic Birthday Party

 

Hope you’re all enjoying your summer!

XO

Sue At Home

 

 

 

 

Half Bath Design Plans and Resource List

27 May

When we last left off, I had introduced you to our tiny half master bathroom complete with bad wallpaper and all the periwinkle blue tile you could ever dream of.

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I was inspired by this Laduree box and I became obsessed with the black, green and gold pallette before I decided to add a lot more white to the mix. In fact the mix is more like TONS of white with black, green and antique brass as accents.

half bath laduree photo (1)

Here are each of the elements we are planning on and how we chose them.

1. WALL TILE – White beveled subway tile halfway up the wall, with gray grout. Similar to this image from Sticky Bee but possibily with a thicker grout space.

How we picked it: We were planning on subway tile and then I spotted the beveled version in a hotel bathroom in NYC and I was smitten. The dark grout is a cool industrial look and I think it will be easier to keep clean.

white beveled tile

2. FLOOR TILE: Circulos Black encaustic tile from Cement Tile Shop

How we picked it: I was planning something basic, like a white hex with black in it somewhere–something like one of these–when Pablo (yes, Pablo!) asked about the bathroom below (that I had pinned from Marcus Design) and we both fell in love.

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marcus design bathroom

3. THE VANITY – We’re going to paint our current vanity black and we’ll get new hardware and a new faucet.

How we picked it: Well, we already have it. And there aren’t a lot of vanities that are less than 18″ deep (that’s the space we’re working with) and I’d rather work with what we have then go custom to the tune of cha-ching cha-ching.

4. THE FAUCET – I’m still on the hunt for the right inexpensive antique brass one. This shinier one from Kohler is a placeholder for now.

kohler faucet

5. THE KNOBS – New pulls  from Anthropologie for the vanity. (They’ll be turned vertically.)

How we picked them: Duh. They’re brass and they’re green!

anthro pull

6. THE MEDICINE CABINET –  Rivet Medicine Cabinet in Antiqued Brass from Restoration Hardware

How we picked it: I had almost given up on finding a medicine cabinet that I liked when I found this baby. I felt like I had looked at Restoration Hardware a million times but seeing this amazing one in the home of Erika Bearman in ELLE Decor made me take another look. I liked Erika’s but the Rivet had me at hello.

rivet medicine cabinet

7. THE LIGHTING – Vintage Barn Sconce from Restoration Hardware

How we picked it: I really thought I wanted some long skinny brass sconces to go on either side of the mirror (something like this) but since the space is so narrow, I just didn’t want to worry about having them fit so I decided to install a light above the mirror. Problem is, all of the double or triple bathroom lights I found were just so “bathroom light-ish”. Do you know what I mean? I guess I just wanted something more original and since the subway tile and dark grout was so industrial looking, I figured I’d stick with that look and add this cool gooseneck with just a touch of antiquey brass. I picked the color because I didn’t want the medicine cabinet and the light to be too matchy matchy. Coordinating? Yes. Matchy matchy?  No thank you. (Look how cool a gooseneck looks in this bathroom.)

vintage barn sconce

8. THE ARTA pair of 20 x 30 banana leaf prints from The Aestate on Etsy.

How we picked it: I really, really thought about using wallpaper above the tile on the top half of the wall–and I still might. But for now I think we’ll just paint that white and add some art. I love how these mimic the feel of an amazing banana leaf print wallpaper at a fraction of the cost.


the aestate

It’ll look similar to this but we’ll probably use some black frames.

banana leaf

9. THE HOOKS – The Anthropologie hooks I already mentioned in this post.

How we picked them: Green. Brass. Done.

anthropologie hook

10. THE PRETTY ACCENT – And just for fun, I’m planning on adding one of those malachite bowls from Hillary Thomas that I’ve always wanted.

How we picked it: It’s malachite, the love of my life.

malachite bowl

I’m still on the fence about the towel /towel bar and the toilet paper holder. I think I like the Pearson style in brass from Pottery Barn and they’re priced pretty well so I might just get those. I was thinking of getting a towel ring instead but then I remembered I don’t like towel rings because I feel like the towels get all bunched up and they never dry. Anyone else feel the same? Or…do you like how Reichel from Copy Cat Chic used West Elm’s turkish hand towel with Urban Outfitters brass hex towel ring? Cause I do! I’m just not sure it’s for me.

copt cat chic

Anywhoooo, let’s get back to my design.

Are you ready to see how it looks all together?

Through the magic of Polyvore, I give you…..my bathroom.

TA DA!

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I’m so glad I made this on Polyvore because it really gives me a good idea of what it will look like when it’s all together. It’s definitely very bright and white–which I like–but it’s good to know that going in. I’ve started buying the elements needed and I’m building my crew slowly so hopefully we can get started in a few weeks. Wish me luck!

XO

Sue at Home

Half Bath “Before” Shots and Design Plans

23 May

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I’ve finally broken ground on my half bath renovation by yanking a couple loose tiles off the wall.

By the way, I also ripped down the wallpaper. Yup. I’m crazy like that.

half bath instagream photo

Unfortunately, that’s where the reno stopped. You see that thick cement that was behind the tiles? That’s known as a mud job and it’s going to be a serious mess to take out. I’m getting a team on board to make this change happen but in the meantime, let’s look at the befores of this blue tile half bath and a peek at my design plans.

You’ll remember that this is the small bathroom off of our small master bedroom. (See more about that here.) It’s only a half bath because…well, who would want a shower in their master bath? (This girl. That’s who. And no, I’m still not getting one. )

Let’s go inside.

Oh yeah. That’s a lotta blue tile and tan checked wallpaper.

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There’s a window that lets in some nice light but that’s about the extent of the good stuff.

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We’ve got two “fancy” hooks from Target that we use to hang our towels on. (There’s not much room in the other bathroom to leave them there.) This was an upgrade from the wooden ones that were there when we moved in. Gross.

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Did you want to see my toilet? No? Well, then marvel at the grimy tile floor. (P.S. The toilet’s staying. The blue porcelain toilet paper holder? Not so much.)

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The vanity is…well, it’s pretty cheap and ugly. And we’re keeping it. No, that wasn’t a joke.  You see, the space between the wall and the doorway is tiny. And it can only accomodate a vanity that’s 18 inches deep or less. Have you ever looked for a vanity that shallow? The pickins are slim. And yes, I know we could have something custom but I just don’t want to get into that. (And the cha-ching that would go with it.) The plan is to paint it–either white or black–and change the faucet and hardware. Sidenote: Dontcha love the tinfoil and duct tape used to cover the vent? It’s right above the furnace and it’s the strongest vent in the house so this room–the smallest one in the house–has the most heat blasting into it during the winter. Make sense? I didn’t think so either.

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A medicine cabinet is a necessity (as is the vanity storage, which is another reason we’re keeping it) so as much as I would like to just slap a huge mirror up there, we need to replace this with something with storage. (Spoiler alert: I already found one and it. is. awesome!) The light, obviously, is going too.

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Overall, it’s not a horrible bathroom. It’s just not us. Because we’re not 1955.half bath 137

 Now, onto the good stuff. The inspiration for the new design!

Someone sent this box of Laduree macarons to me over a year ago and I put a picture of it on Instagram with the text “I’m getting SO inspired by this Laduree box! Bathroom makeover palette perhaps?” It’s proof that inspiration can strike from anywhere!

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Since then I’ve been on the hunt for bathrooms in black, green and gold. Stuff like this:

pinterest green tile

And this:

malachite wallpaper

And this by Nate Berkus from Architectural Digest:

nate berkus AD

And this from Apartment Therapy:

apt therapy palm wallpaper

I thought about malachite (which I love) and wallpaper and malachite print wallpaper. And I thought about the banana leaf wallpaper shown above and the other banana leaf wallpaper. (Did you know there were two different ones? I didn’t until I found this awesome blog post on The Glam Pad. Apparently, the famous one from The Beverly Hills Hotel is called Martinique but the one at the Greenbriar is actually Brazilliance. Who knew?)

But ultimately, I felt it was all a little too dark and busy and dramatic for this tiny half bath.

Then I thought about adding in white. LOTS of white. And using the black, gold and green as accents. And then this happened. This being  that I stumbled upon this AMAZING powder room renovation that Jessica Waks posted on Style At Home.

malachite mirror

People. It’s a malachite-trimmed mirror. My head nearly exploded! Even Pablo was excited about it when I showed it to him. But then I saw the price. Unfortunately, this mama is not getting a malachite mirror for “price upon request”. (I can’t seem to find the exact price right now but I recall it was something like $3500 or maybe more. Obviously it’s from Made Goods because everything they make takes my breath away. Ya know, like a turquoise shagreen table or a gold nugget lamp or A MALACHITE MIRROR!)

But the look of the whole room did show me that more white was the way to go. So I’m going for a much cleaner, more modern, white bathroom with hints of black, green, and plenty of antiquey brass.

Soon I’ll be back with the full design plan but for now just marvel at the gorgeous new hooks and knobs I picked up at Anthropologie to get the process started.

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Do they make you as excited as they make me?

XO

Sue at Home

House Update: New Batik Pillows and West Elm Lamp

20 May

Ah, how I love a batik pillow! Remember back when I told you about those Amber Interiors ones that I was dying over? And remember how they were crazy expensive?

sally pillow

Well, my Etsy substitutes from OrientalTribe11 arrived and They. Are. Perfect!

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134 pillow

They took a little while to get here–I mean, they were coming from Thailand after all–but they are as beautiful as I imagined. I was a little afraid how the navy and white batik would work with my teal walls but I think it’s divine. And obviously, I love the neon pink and orange accents. (Apologies for the couch that looks like a saggy elephant’s ass. I promise that what it lacks in appearance, it makes up for in comfort.)

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They’re made really well. I’ve had them for awhile now and I’m so happy with how they look. Check out the detail:

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The room looks so much better with some more streamlined pillows. Remember the hot mess of pillows I had before?

pillows collage textSidebar: And see the change in that doorway to the right? I painted the hideous wood paneling in the playroom (including that stairwell that leads to it) so I’ll be telling you all about that change soon. (And yes, that means that I totally broke my resolution!)

And looky here, another change!

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Did you spot it in the foyer behind the couch?

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We got a new lamp from West Elm and I am loving it!

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It’s the Geodesic Table Lamp and I love the openess of the brassy base. Plus that tan lampshade is so warm and sophisticated. I feel like it’s the look I was hoping for when I got the Nate Berkus for Target one, but this one…well, you get what you pay for. (No knock to Nate of course, his is still damn good for a $50 lamp!)

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It’s coming together one little bit at a time.

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. I feel like whenever I show the living room, the paint color never reads right on camera. So, here’s a swatch of the real color: Benjamin Moore Teal.

benjaminmooreteal

Hallway Gallery and Runner

12 May

When you last met my hallway…what? You’ve never met my hallway? Oh the shame. Let’s get better aquainted.

Back in 2010 when we moved in, our hallway had brown wall-to-wall carpet (yikes) and poorly textured creamy walls.

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It only took about a month before we ripped out the carpet and had the wood floors underneath refinished. We went with a dark stain downstairs but we kept the hall pale to go with the floors in the bedrooms. Check out 2 year old Lily showing off the pretty hardwood back before I fixed the stair risers. (Doesn’t she kind of look like a ghost? Boo!)

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A few months after that, Pablo attempted to skim coat the walls (I’ll give him an A for effort) and we painted the walls in Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray with Cloud White trim.

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That was three years ago and everyday since then I’ve had the intention of hanging some extended family pics up there. And now it’s done! Well, not done. More like a decent start. (You’ll also notice I’ve sort of learned how to use my camera too.)

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I shopped for the runner for a loooooong time. That problem with my expensive taste and limited budget got in the way but eventually I fell for a pretty kelly green wool flat weave rug in a Jaipur catalog my mom had borrowed from a local decorator. I was contemplating getting one (and even paying the expensive-for-me $200+ price) when this beauty popped up on One Kings Lane for only $149. I had to go for it. Lucky for you OKL has it right now, too (for a few bucks more).

OKL rug

The next step was the frames and since you know me, you can imagine I tried to go inexpensive with some of the offerings at Target, Kohls and Ikea. But they all just looked too cheap to me so I ended up getting most of them at Pottery Barn. (I can’t say enough nice things about their gallery frames. Just go buy them and thank me later.)

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As for the pictures themselves, the focus is on extended family: the girls’ cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. (I felt I had thoroughly covered the 4 of the us in our dining room photo wall so it was time to spread the love.) You’ll notice most of them are super casual.

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hallway 050One of the favorites is this picture from Thanksgiving a few years ago. It’s the last time we had my family and Pablo’s family together so it’s got a lot of VIPs in it.

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The walls look a little sparse for now but the goal is to fill it up top to bottom. Something more like this.

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It’s coming together but don’t look up! If you do you’ll see cracked and peeling paint and one of the noisiest flourescent lights in history.

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Take a closer look at that texture.

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We’re bringing some pros in soon to fix it up and I’ve got plans to replace the light, too. I’ll keep you posted.

And the view from the bedrooms needs a little love too. See that space above the stairs? hallway 056

 I’d love to put something inspirational there so we see if right before we head out for the day. Ya know, something like this:

seize the day

OR

don't forget to be awesome

Maybe we could even jump and smack it like the Notre Dame football team does with their motivational sign…?

play like a champion today

So it’s still a work in progress but I’m happy with the changes we’ve made. It sure is nice to see Mimi, Papa, Uncle Steve, Auntie, Jonathan, Bobe, Grandpa Steve, Uncle Francis, Aunt Nicole, Baylee, Arianna, Carter, Aunt Paola, Aunt Alex, Eliseo, and Weli everday.

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XO

Sue at Home

Easy Party Invitations

6 May

Lily’s 6th birthday is coming up (how did she get so big?!?!) and I decided to go the DIY route for her invitations again. The theme is “Lalaloopsy/Carnival” so I wanted the invitations to be bright, fun, and Lalalily!

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The first step was to turn to my resident graphic designer (that would be my sister-in-law Paola) to create a custom Lalalily logo to be used all over the party. As per ushe, Paola rocked her assignment (even with her newborn baby on her hip). Check!

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Next I chose a fun picture of Lily that I took in Aruba this year and added some text to it with the help of PicMonkey. FYI: The font I used–which features hearts over the i’s if you’re into that sorta thing (and why wouldn’t you be?)–is called Emily’s Candy.

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Don’t mind the reflection of the photographer in her lens. Note to self: no more mirrored glasses for the girls.

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I knew I could have just printed the text on the back of the picture (I printed them at home on cardstock) but I figured to make it more interesting I’d print separate sheets and then tie them together with a ribbon. But when I went to look for my hole punch, I was greeted with this: washi tape heaven!

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And that’s when I decided that it would far more Lalaloopsy-ish if I used random washi tape to attached the image to the party info page.

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Isn’t it so pretty? Now I’m totally inspired to use washi tape all over her party!

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Stay tuned for more Lalalily details as the party date approaches! And if you just can’t wait, check out these other awesome party posts on Sue at Home:

Lily’s Luau Birthday party

How to Throw A Glamtastic Kids’ Party

Lily’s Rainbow Birthday Party

XO

Sue at Home

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on Earth

28 Apr

I know that title is quite a claim but people, I’m about to give you a cookie recipe to end all cookie recipes. But first let me introduce you to the creator of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on Earth, my favorite chef Tara Bench (instagram: @tarateaspoon). Here she is getting ready to serve some delicious treats to Al Roker on the Today Show.

tara on today

She may not be as famous as Ina Garten or Bobby Flay but she’s a celeb chef all right: Tara is the Food and Entertaining Director for Ladies’ Home Journal* and in the 7+ years I’ve worked with her, she’s never made a single thing that I didn’t like. Think about that for a second. Every recipe she produced–whether sweet or savory, difficult or a breeze–has been deeeeelish. And I think I’ve tasted them all! I’m also lucky to call her a friend. (She’s the awesome kind of buddy who answers all of my frantic weekend baking texts when I’m questioning my kitchen skills. Everyone needs a friend like that but no, I’m not giving you her number.)

Tara started her career at Martha Stewart and you can see it in her work; aesthetics are as important as taste. Some of her favorite LHJ recipes are Crispy Ice Cream Bars,  Frozen Blueberry Cheesecake, and Thai Chicken Patties.

But her heart belongs to chocolate chip cookies. They’re her favorite thing to make. And why not when she has perfected the recipe!?

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I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect chocolate cookie for a long time but they’ve never been quite right. They’re either too crunchy or spread too thin or not chocolatey enough. So, I finally decided to try Tara’s personal recipe and It. Is. Perfect. They’re sweet and chocolatey but not too much of either. They’re lightly golden around the edges, just enough to give them a little bit of crunchiness.  But the gooeyness–oh the gooeyness!–is the key to this recipe’s success. That soft texture remains days after they’re baked. ( But wait! There’s more! Tara even makes a gluten free version that pretty amazing, too!)

And here’s the best part: even though this recipe is so close to her heart, she gives it to friends and family all the time and she even kindly agreed to let me share it with you. Right here. Right now. (Told you she’s awesome!)

TARA’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

4 cups flour (fluff the flour before scooping) or substitute Gluten Free All Purpose Flour for Gluten Free version (see Gluten Free note below)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsps or 1 tblsp vanilla extract (I go for the full tablespoon when I make them.)

1 package (11.5 oz bag) of milk chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and you should to.)

1 package (11.5 oz bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and reduce this amount to a little more than half of the bag.)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix. Add the dry mixture, a little at a time, and mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. (Eleven minutes works perfectly for my oven but be careful. Tara says “Don’t overcook”!)

Gluten Free note: If you prefer rice flour to Gluten Free all purpose flour, you can use that instead (Tara recommends this one) but be sure to add a scant tbsp xantham gum to hold the cookies together. (A “scant” tbsp means slightly less than full.)

A couple things to remember, the dough is thick! Crazy thick! It’ll look like this when you’re done mixing but don’t worry. That’s how it’s supposed to look.

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Then get ready to work your stiring muscles! No pain, no gain. Right?

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Looking good.

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Make sure your little cookie dough balls are spread out enough or else you’ll have a solid sheet of cookies. (I say that like it would be a bad thing. Ha!)

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When they come out, they look puffy and undercooked.

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But then they deflate a little bit while they’re cooling.

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And you end up with perfect cookie goodness.

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Before you get to baking, I want to urge to follow Tara on Instagram @tarateaspoon. That’s where you’ll get to see her working on her culinary delights…

pop tarst

…hanging out with hottie chefs, like Curtis Stone…

curtis stone

…having cookie throwdowns with her friends (I’ll give you one guess which recipe won!)…

cookie throwdown

…and rubbing elbows (or tummies!)  with all kinds of food industry celebs.

pilsbury

And take note of her oft-used hashtag #wwllt which stands for What Work Looks Like Today. I had no idea what it meant but lots of food industry pros seem to like it so it’s a great hashtag to check out for foodie inspiration.

And don’t forget: Your gluten free friends don’t need to be left out! Just replace the flour with Gluten Free all purpose flour for a perfectly delicious cookie treat.

Happy Baking!

XO

Sue at Home

*With deep sadness I need to tell you that while I was writing this post, Ladies’ Home Journal closed its doors and with that, Tara and I (plus another 33 of my friends and coworkers)  lost our jobs.  I’m trying to stay hopeful that this will be a turning point in my career and that I will move on to bigger and better things. (In fact, maybe you’ll even get more Sue at Home!) But I fear that I will never have a job that I love as much as I loved being the Fashion Editor for LHJ. The kindness of the people that I worked with, the collaborative atmosphere, the quality of the work we produced, and the respect that I felt from everyone around me is a rare thing in business and I feel so lucky to have had that. But I’m hopeful for the future and excited to see what it brings.

I’ll keep you posted on the chapter. And please send positive thoughts my way!

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