Amazing Deal - Pottery Barn Beachcomber Basket

While browsing home decor items on the internet, I fell in love with this large beachcomber storage basket at Pottery Barn's website.  The price on it was $129 which was definitely too steep for me.  I am a total bargain shopper.  All of my decorating is done on a major budget!  This weekend while I was out I found the exact same type and size woven beachcomber basket for a fraction of the price.  Needless to say, I was super excited and I grabbed it!  The shocker is that I found it at Marshall's.  I often find great home decor items at Home Goods and Marshall's for a fraction of what they cost elsewhere.  This first picture is the Pottery Barn Basket that I wanted.  These next three pictures are the basket that I scored for only $34.99.  Considering what sales tax is here in California, I saved a full $100 on this find... Woohoo... lucky me :)

I admit that I would love to shop at Pottery Barn all the time and just buy whatever I like, but that is not reality for me.  On occasion I purchase something at their store, but more often than not, I use them as my inspiration and then I go out and figure out how to do their style on a small budget :)  I find that the challenge is fun and rewarding!

Until next time,
Happy decorating!

Important - How to Back Up Your Blog

Earlier this week a fellow blogger had her blog disappear completely.  No rhyme or reason why.... Just POOF and it was gone.  How the heck does that happen???  It got me to thinking, what would I do if my blog disappeared?  I do have a back up of my template, but absolutely nothing backed up on any of my posts.  Having to recreate them would be nearly impossible.  I felt so sorry for her!  I hate that she had to go through not knowing if she would ever see her data, all that hard work again.  She had over two years of work and so many amazing posts that she now had no control over.  She didn't know where it all went.  When she tried to access her blog, it said "does not exist".  Her blog actually disappeared for over 24 hours, but thank God it somehow finally came back.  There was no explanation from blogger as to why it disappeared or how it came back up.  All she knows is that it did.

It turns out that there is a way to export and save a copy of your entire blogger blog, which includes the posts.  Once she found out how, she posted the information for the rest of us.  I wanted to share her story and the great blog back up information with you.  Once I found out via her post how easy it actually is to export my entire blog to my computer, I felt so much better about my blog.  Hopefully something like what happened to her won't ever happen again, but knowing that there is a back up on my computer definitely makes me feel more confident knowing that should something like this happen to me, I have options.

Here are the instructions how to save a copy of your entire Blogger blog:

Via the blogger interface (dashboard)
Click on “Settings” (on the left hand side), 
then click “Other” (also on the left side), 
see near the top where it says BLOG TOOLS,
right next to that Click “Export blog”
Then click "download blog"

A copy will save to your computer downloads file 

I like to open my downloads file and make a copy of the Blog File
(it is easy to find since it is named and dated = "BLOG - xx/xx/12")  

I put a copy of it in a folder I've named blog Backups.

I like to back it up every couple of weeks. 

Great Mud Rooms and Organized Entry Spaces

Lately I am obsessed with mud rooms and built in storage benches!  I love the idea of having a place near the entry of our home where we can easily kick off our shoes, hang our jackets and hats, yet have it look nicely decorated and organized all at the same time.  Although here in Southern California we don't really have much "mud", I still would like to find a way to fit one of these cozy spaces in to our home.  My daughter tends to leave her shoes all over our main floor... Wherever she kicks them off is where they land...  so a designated space for shoes, purses and all of her stuff, plus ours, would be amazing :)

I've seen several styles of mud rooms that I like with both built in pieces and with movable furniture pieces.  I love the pieces that Pottery Barn sells (shown in the first picture), but we will probably go for custom built in's for our space.  Below are some great examples of mud rooms, benches and spaces that are designed very well!

(via: Pottery Barn)

(via: Stagetecture)

(via: My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia)

Although this next space doesn't show a sitting bench... I really like the wall of hooks!

 (via: Comfortable Home Design)

(via: Comfortable Home Design)

This is such a great use of space!  I love the built ins under the staircase.

(via: Comfortable Home Design)

Here are a few other inspirational photos that I had on my computer.  I'm not sure of the source on these next few as I had previously saved copies of them from tumblr.  

Even with just a little space look how great these mudroom spaces are done inside a hall closet.

I love the charming and casual look of this last space.  I envision it being in either a beach or a lake front home.  I imagine the fishing pole is what gives it away!  I love how this space is simple and yet so organized.  Even though it appears to be in the entry foyer of the home, it is inviting and it functions very well.

Linky parties I've linked this post to:  Between Naps On The Porch

Until next time,
Happy decorating!

Want to Take Better Photos?

I've been a little out of it this past week and haven't blogged too much.  I had a flu bug and then a migraine (ugh...), however I'm happy to report I am finally on the mend :)

Today while I was looking at posts from fellow bloggers, I ran across a post that I completely related to.  I am struggling to master taking great photographs.  In fact, I pretty much feel like I am still in kindergarten when it comes to photography.  I got a new camera just over a month ago, but so far I mostly use it on the auto setting. Often the pictures are either over exposed or under exposed.  On occasion I get a great shot, when the light in the room is just right, but it is RARE!  I need to learn how to manually adjust the settings to allow more light, less light, etc...  I know their all all kinds of photography terms, like aperture, f-stop, shutter speed... etc... but honestly they are all pretty much foreign to me.  The only setting I actually have experience with is AUTO... (insert laughing at self here).  My new camera has all of the capabilities, and even shoots 1080 video.  I just need to figure it all out.  The manual (book) that came with my camera is very basic and doesn't really teach much of anything.  I'm thinking of looking for an online photography course for dummies (yeah, I am admitting that when it comes to cameras, I'm not the brightest crayon in the box).  But that is okay with me.  I figure that as I learn, (so far from trial and error), I can only get better!  At least I hope I will :)

The link to the great post I came across is below. After reading her tips I feel inspired to figure my camera out and truly learn to take great pictures!

Between Naps on the Porch: One Thing I Wish I Had Known Before I Began Bloggi...: One of these days I'm going to write a post and title it: The 10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I First Began Blogging ."  If I ever write that post, "master the manual setting on your camera" will be at the very top of the list.   As proof, let me give you exhibit A, this picture of my guest room below...  Continued Reading Here

I hope her tips inspire you too!

Do any of you have any great photography suggestions?

Valentine's Plans and Last Minute Ideas

What are you planning for your sweetheart this Valentine's?

Today while I was shopping I encountered a few different men shopping for and planning something special to impress their Valentines.  First I encountered three young men, probably high school age, shopping for their girlfriends.  It was very entertaining to watch.  They were each picking out giant (like 5 foot tall) stuffed animals and huge cards (about three feet tall).  All three guys were doing the same thing, but each choosing different types and styles.  They were laughing and smiling the whole time.  It was cute to see how excited and silly they were while shopping for their sweethearts.  A little later I was in housewares and there were two men talking. They were probably in their mid to late 20's.  One was asking the other, "so I have the table cloth and candles, what else should I do for her?  Then he says "oh, I need to find red fabric napkins.  He was planning a romantic dinner.  It is so nice to see when men take time to think and plan special occasions.  I love that about Valentine's day!  Men have a reason to plan something special for us :)

My husband already sent me a dozen chocolate covered Strawberries and three mini cheesecakes from Shari's Berries.  They arrived on Saturday and they are amazing!  However, I don't know that they do much good for the waistline.

Traditional Valentine gifts include flowers, candy and a nice dinner out (keep in mind that restaurants are very crowded on V-day).  My husband and I tend to have the same dinner each Valentine's Day.  We call in our order to Macaroni Grill and get it to go.  My hubby picks it up on his way home from work.  I set up a carpet  picnic in front of the fireplace with a blanket, place settings, candles and wine.  We are empty nesters so this works well for us :)

Remember, creating a special memory or moment for the two of you doesn't have to be expensive.  Usually things you make that come from the heart are the most meaningful!

Here are some cute ideas of last minute things you can do for Valentine's Day.

1)  Fill a jar with love notes to your sweetheart.
You can use a mason jar or jelly jar and tie a cute ribbon around it.  If you don't have a jar, mason jars are sold at almost every grocery store on the baking aisle.  Also, I know that Michaels and Joanns craft stores sell them individually for just a couple of dollars.

2)  Cut hearts out from colored paper and hang them from the ceiling with ribbon or fishing line.  Depending on the type of ceiling you have, you can use tape or you can use tacks.   You can even write notes on them if you want.

3)  Make a book of coupons or a certificate...  You can hand write or make and print them via your computer.  Suggestions would be things like:  Good for breakfast in bed... Good for 1/2 hour massage... Good for a night out...  Good for a picnic in the park...  Good for (you get the idea, use your imagination)!  I found several links to printable Valentine coupons via google search.  Here is one that I thought was cute:

4)  Make him a special dessert.  After all, they do say that a way to a mans heart is his stomach.  Last week I posted a receipe for a fast and easy dessert, Chocolate Melting Cake.  It is decadent flourless cake and is so easy to make... about 10 minutes to throw together and 30 minutes in the oven.  I highly recommend it!

5) Write a love poem.  Okay, so I know this isn't easy for everyone... So if you can't write one yourself, do a search for love poems and see what you can come up with.  Print it and maybe put it in a frame.  I recently did a printable of 1 Corinthians 13.  Although it is not a poem... It is the best definition of LOVE you will ever find!

6) Make a Valentine Card or Print some FREE Printable Valentine's Art... All you have to do is print it.  Then you can put it in a frame, or use it as a Valentine's card cover, maybe even cut one out and put it on his bathroom mirror for him to see as he gets ready for work.  There are tons of FREE printable Valentine's via the internet!

Craft DIY Ideas

Link parties I'm attending: 

Whatever you decide to do for Valentine's, if it is from your heart it will be special.  Wishing you all a wonderful and blessed day!

Until next time...

Mason Jar Drinking Mugs

How cute are these?  Love !!!
I think we all love mason jars and drinking sweet tea or lemonade from them!  I just came across these adorable mason jar mugs on Amazon and wanted to share them with you all :)

They come as 16 oz. mugs with either a Plain Front Panel or this printed Country Fair  drinking jar panel. I'm totally lovin em!  And they are priced so so reasonable!  They are sold in sets of 12 and are only about $2 per mug :)

I think the Country Fair printed mug is super cute, but for me I'm going to order the simple mugs with the plain front!!!  My decision was helped by the fact that for a dozen of these plain panel jars the shipping is actually FREE... Woohoo.... I love getting a deal! Below is the link to this deal for any of you who are interested.

Until next time...
Happy decorating!

Chocolate Melting Cake { EZ Recipe } 2die4

If you love Chocolate than this dessert is for you!!!  It is the easiest and most amazing cake I have ever made, (and I have made it many times). It my my husband and my absolute favorite favorite favorite dessert (did I say favorite?).. Yum!!!  You don't even need a beater or mixer on this one.  It is flour-less, which also means it's gluten free... and it is oh so so decadent, amazing, awesome, to die for (okay, so you get the point).

As I said, this recipe is easy!  It is quick, requires only six basic ingredients and it can be made in a short amount of time (less than 10 minutes from scratch to the oven)... and it takes only 30 minutes in the oven.  Yet people will think you are a gourmet chef with this totally easy peasy dessert :)

We went on a cruise a couple of years ago and for dessert one night with tried their Chocolate Melting Cake  with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I was in heaven, well as close as I could get to heaven on earth.  I loved it!  Needless to say I ordered it the next night too :)  Of course the cruise line was not going to give me their recipe, but I knew that it was a flourless cake.  Shortly after we got home I searched the internet for flourless cake recipes.  I stumbled upon a receipe that I tried and then tried again tweaking it slightly so it turned out amazingly meltey and oooooie gooey in the middle.  It is a huge hit with everyone I have ever served it to. I highly highly recommend it!!!

I like to try to make my recipes as organic as possible so I use organic butter, organic sugar and farm fresh organic eggs (however you can use white sugar and whatever butter and eggs you like).

Recipe -


1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water (NOTE: I use two sauce pans, see below) Melt butter and chocolate chips.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, cocoa powder, eggs and vanilla.
  4. Pour even amounts into 4 oven safe dishes (fill about 1/2 full - dessert will rise)
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes
  6. Let cool 15 to 20 minutes before serving
end recipe

I like to serve this dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  However, this chocolate dessert is also very good on it's own!

Step by step photos (with helpful tips) -

Make your own double boiler by using two sauce pans.  Place the small pan inside of the larger one as shown.  Put one or two inches of water in the lower pan. Turn burner on medium low.  The double boiler method keeps the butter and chocolate chips from burning. 

Melt butter and chocolate chips...

Remove from stove-top...

Pour in sugar, give a quick stir (will melt into hot butter mix)..

 Add cocoa powder and stir

Add eggs and vanilla then stir well (takes about one minute)... I  own a beater and a stand mixer... However, this stirs so quickly that I just use a wooden spoon to mix.

 The mixture will look like this...

Pour equal amounts into four dishes. Only fill dishes about half way because dessert will rise. I use CorningWare 7 oz. stoneware crocks  (ramekins) that I purchased at Walmart.  They can also be purchased through Amazon (Free shipping with $25 purchase) at this link: CorningWare French White 7-Ounce Ramekins

  I like the crocks (ramekins) because they are ready to serve, just add ice cream or whip cream to the top (depending on your preference)... With these, there is no greasing necessary, (Which I LOVE).  

Note:  If you prefer, you can use an 8 inch round cake pan, just be sure to grease and dust your pan with cocoa powder first.

Place crocks on a cookie sheet and put them into your 300 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes.  

Note:  If you prefer your cake be more traditional and not be gooey inside, just increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees and still bake for 30 minutes.

When you first remove them from the oven they will be puffy on top (sorta like muffins)...

As they cool they will collapse a bit, which makes them perfect for putting a scoop of ice cream on top! You can serve them about 20 minutes after they come out of the oven.  Warm, but not hot...  

Optional, after they cool, cover them with foil and serve them at your convenience.  I like serving them warm, so I heat them in the microwave for 20 seconds on high before serving. (Adjust micro time depending how powerful your  microwave is).  

This dessert is just as amazing on day two and day three as it is on day one.  However, I admit that, in our house they don't last past day two!!!  I swear I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner... (hehe).

I like to serve with Breyers Smooth & Dreamy 1/2 fat Ice Cream because it is natural... and I feel a little less guilty :)  But, whatever ice cream you like is fine!

Yummy... this amazing Chocolate melting cake makes a great treat for Valentine's Day and for any day!

All you need is a spoon :)  Enjoy!!!

Link parties I'm attending: 


Baby Nursery - Under $500 Complete

Recently this post for "Complete Baby Nursery Under $500" has been requested as a share on a few other blogs.  This was the very first blog posting that I ever posted.  Being that I was a total newby to the blog world, it didn't get too much viewership.  So here it is as a re-share for you all to see :)

This entire baby girls room was decorated for less than $500.  The crib and mattress were purchased new. The Bellini dresser/changing table was found at a garage sale for $60, to which I added furniture appliques and re-finished in an antique white.  The rocking chair was found at a vintage shop for $25 (it used to be a neon yellow).  I added the furniture appliques to the rocker then painted and distressed it.  The bedding set and mobile were purchased new from eBay.  The canopy I made with a half round piece of plywood and L-brackets, with sheer fabric and trim simply attached around the edging of the board with a staple gun. The chandelier was designed by me and assembled by my hubby.  The table lamp, wall shelves, bulletin board, wall hooks, wood organizer box and wall cherubs were all old vintage pieces from flea markets and garages sales that I refurbished/painted for the room. It is amazing to see how much can be done on a a limited tight budget.  We started with a completely empty room and when we were finished it looked like we had spent thousands.

The chandelier above is dripping with teardrop crystals and petite pink roses.  I designed it from scratch using a combination of both vintage and new lamp parts.  It is painted with Rustoleum satain spray paint in Heirloom White. My amazing hubby wired this beauty and hung it for me.  We added the ceiling medallion to add to the sweet cottage chic look.  We used silicone dipped light bulbs for a soft glow. The floral pillow on the rocking chair is from Target, from Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic line.  We later added a soft sage green, cream and rose colored area rug to the floor in front of the crib.

The bulletin memo board was made from a vintage wooden frame.  I painted it with the same Heirloom White spray paint as was used on the chandelier. I used a little sandpaper to distress the edging details.  This was an easy DIY project.  I had my hubby cut a piece of fiber board the size of the inner frame..  I just added a layer of batting, then wrapped the fabric around it and used a staple gun to fasten everything to the rear of the board.  A pretty pink floral girly fabric and lace ribbon in a criss crossing pattern across the front finish this board.

Sweet Dreams Baby Girl !!!

Link parties I'm attending:
Between Naps on the Porch    Simply Sweet Home

Miss Mustard Seed's Creative Blog    Days of Chalk and Chocolate     

Until next time,
Happy decorating!