Thursday, January 31, 2008

Strawberry Dream Cake

Strawberry Dream Cake - Perfect for Valentine's Day, a girl's birthday, or any strawberry-lover! This is a FABULOUS recipe that I got from my husband's grandmother. At the age of 90, she was still making this cake every year for my mother-in-law's birthday, so when I got married, she passed the recipe and the tradition on to me. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, and in addition to making it each year for my mother-in-law's birthday, I've also used it for cupakes for my daughter's birthday. This is a perfect cake for February, because it has a beautiful pink color from top to bottom.

1 white cake mix
1 small package strawberry Jell-O
2 T. flour
4 eggs
½ c. water
½ c. vegetable oil
10 oz. container of frozen, sliced strawberries in sugar, thawed

Buttercream Frosting:
3 c. powdered sugar
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10 (or so) drops red food coloring (optional)

1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 T. powdered sugar (to taste)
8-10 fresh, sliced strawberries

Mix all ingredients except strawberries on medium spee for 2 minutes. Add berries and their juice and mix 1 more minute. Divide batter into two 8- or 9-in. round cake pans. Bake @ 350◦ for 35-40 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 minutes, then frost with frosting.

Beat all frosting ingredients on medium-high speed for two minutes. Add food coloring to get the desired color of pink.

Beat heavy whipping cream with sugar until peaks form. Add fresh sliced strawberries and spread between layers.


ReDesign Story: Before & After


This is an example of how even subtle changes can make a big impact in a redesign. This is a redesign I did just recently and wanted to share part of it with you. This was a beautiful room to start with...the "before" is not really so bad, is it?! However, I did address a few small problems:

1. The mirror was hung too high over the mantel, making the ceiling seem lower. We hung the mirror about three inches lower, (only about one inch from the mantel) and suddenly it seemed in better proportion to the rest of the fireplace. Not to mention the ceiling seemed higher.

2. There were lots of little things on the mantel. When there are too many little things, your eye no longer registers them as individual objects, but rather over-all clutter. We took out all the little framed photos and replaced them with fewer, larger ones. (Some of what you see in the "after" photo looks like clutter, but it's actually just the reflection in the mirror! That darn reflection!)

3. We switched the clock with the rectangular framed picture hanging on either side of the fireplace. Now the green plant and the round clock both help to visually break up the line of rectangles that existed before.

4. Since there's already a green plant on the left side of the mantel, I put the other green plant on the right side of the hearth to balance it. The basket with pillows and blankets is just a nice cozy touch...and it's large, which is important on a hearth. My mantra for fireplaces and mantels is this: fewer items of a larger scale.

5. Raised the tiny lamp on top of the TV cabinet up slightly by setting it on old books. Also removed an unnecessary box from the top of the cabinet, making the cabinet seem slightly less weighty and black.

I'll probably post a few more pictures later of some other rooms/vignettes we redesigned at this home. This will just whet your appetite for now! As always, if you'd like help redesigning your own home, just contact me!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Salt City Candle Giveaway!!!

Here's a chance for all you "covert" readers out there to come out of hiding! I have a fabulous 26-oz. jar candle from Salt City Candles in the Apricot Basil scent that I would like to give away to one lucky reader. Just add a comment to this post, telling me your favorite kind of candle, and you'll be entered to win the candle you see here. My favorite candles, of course, are Salt City Candles, so I thought it only fitting that I give away one of my favorites here.

I will put all your names in a basket and draw one name on Friday, February 8, and will post the winner's name here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

An "Elmo" 3rd Birthday Party

Hi everyone!
Here are a few images from my daughter's birthday party on Saturday:

Here was my challenge: create a cute, stress-free party for three-year-olds, with Elmo as a theme, and have it still look good. Here were my solutions:

Solution #1: 3 yards fabric from Ikea - only $1.99 a yard! This created two kids' tablecloths, a runner for the food table, and a runner for the mantel (where I kept the favors).
Solution #2: Custom invitation, using Elmo clipart & scrapbook paper. I splurged and purchased a font that looks like crayon writing at
Solution #3: Cupcakes instead of cake. Kids love them, they were SO easy to distribute at the party, and I got to use my new 3-tier cupcake stand from Crate & Barrel! How I love my cupcake stand!
Solution #4: Store-bought, pre-packaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, goldfish crackers, fruit cups, and Jelly Bellies. No cooking for me - and the kids were totally happy!
Solution #5: Pre-packaged chicken ceasar salads and cheesey breadsticks from Costco for the moms and dads - still no cooking for me - and for once, we didn't have to eat PB&J's with our kids!
Solution #6: 99-cent primroses, displayed in primary-colored paper bags, which I cut down with scrapbooking scissors. I sent these home with the moms as their own little thank-you gift.
Solution #7: Two Ikea end tables (the $12.99 ones) which I will now be combining for a cheap coffee table...the perfect size for dining tables for little ones
Solution #8: Plastic chairs from the Container Store - $9.99 each - a little pricey for me (when you buy six!) but plan to use them for every toddler birthday party from here to the year 2050.

Phew! That was a long post, but I wanted to share these ideas with you in the hopes that you might be able to use one of them, sometime, somewhere, for some reason. Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Courtney gets interviewed

I was so honored to have a bio of myself featured on the blog of professional organizer, Megan Spears, of Disorder2Order. She considers me someone who inspires her - wow! I think that's pretty amazing, because she has inspired me from the very start of my business. She asked me seven questions like "What is your guilty pleasure, and why?". Here's a copy of the first half of the interview. If you want more, follow the link at the bottom of the entry to read the rest on her site. Thanks so much, Megan! This was really fun. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"Monthly Bio: Who Inspires Me - Courtney Goodwin

January's monthly bio is a new coming blogger/business owner here in Portland. The reason that I choose Courtney is twofold. The first reason is because she has recently started her own business (and I am always inspired by small business owners), and secondly because she is in the business of redesign (which I love!!!). I actually have known Courtney Goodwin for the last 5 years (maybe more). Although we haven't really had much interaction face to face (even though it is quite funny that we delivered one of our kids on the same day... three rooms from each other at the hospital), I have followed her passion redesign through her mother-in-law (who is a very close friend of mine). Her ability to identify the "use what you have" method is amazing. Her business, Nesting Instincts brings a creative flavor to ReDesign. I struggle with color and design and I am always inspired by those that clearly have a gift for beautiful spaces.Her is Courtney's interview. Enjoy!

1. What inspires you to get out of bed each morning?
Usually the resounding chorus of "mamaaAAAA"'s that I hear through the baby monitor from my 1-yr-old and 3-yr-old girls, who share a bedroom...and this usually starts sometime before oh-dark-thirty. The "mama"'s start out cute and pleasant, and then grow increasingly more demanding until I feel quite inspired to get up.

2. What do you do, and why do you do it?
I do "interior redesign" and event design. Interior REdesign is unique, because I help people redecorate their homes using primarily furniture and accessories they already own. It's budget-friendly, and people love it, because they are still dictating their own home's style. I also offer event design...I love parties! I just did a large wedding last month that turned out beautifully.

I do these things because, simply put, I love to do it. I'm not trying to get rich or become famous, I just love to make people happy by creating a space that is beyond what they could have accomplished on their own. It's exciting for me to be able to help people get the most potential out of their living spaces and all their beloved objects. It comes naturally to me, so I have more fun at this job than ever before!"

3. What is your favorite song to rock out to in the car?
That's a tough one...I'm a big fan of KLOVE radio, so you'll usually find me singing along to whatever they're playing. But if I had to choose...probably belting out "Famous One" with Chris Tomlin."

Want more? You can read the rest of the interview here. Thanks again, Megan!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday's Fabulous Finds

In honor of my little girl's third birthday today, this week's Fabulous Finds from Etsy are all for kids! Some of them work for Valentine's Day, too - if you have a pint-sized Valentine in your life, one of these items might be just the thing. Prepare yourself for the cuteness to follow:

This outfit from EllieBeans Kids is handmade, adorable, and oh-so-chic. Okay, I have to admit: now you know what my daughter's wearing to her birthday party tomorrow! Be sure to check out her twirl skirts made from vintage-looking fabrics too. I love absolutely every piece in her little store.

This is a one-of-a-kind, limited edition play cookie set for Valentine's Day from nanaCompany. Can't you just see one of the little girls in your life playing with this little set, baking happily awa for hours (without the flour smeared all over your kitchen?). I love it so much I practically want it for myself.

The word on the shoe says it all! These little ladybug shoes by diddle dumpling are handmade with wool felt and they would make an adorable gift. They come in a range of sizes. I'd ask for a women's size 9 in a heartbeat, if I thought they'd look as cute on me as they would on my one year old! Diddle dumpling has a huge variety of other styles too - check them out!

Okay, I may have saved the cutest for last. We'll be having cold weather for a few more months here in Oregon (quiet sob) so it's totally legitimate to list these custom hats by Knitty Bitty. Can you believe how cute these hats (and their models!) are? I love this cupcake hat, frog hat, and strawberry hat. I'd like one of each, please. Don't see your favorite fruit, though? She's got 20 different styles of "fruit" hats alone! I love these!

Have a great weekend! And happy birthday to my baby girl!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Easy Valentine Cupcakes & Toppers

I'll be bringing you more Valentine's themed posts in the coming weeks, but for now...I just saw this article in Country Living magazine and thought these cupcakes were charming. There are a couple of different styles of toppers they show in the magazine, but the best part is, you can download vintage images from their website here to make custom toppers for them. I LOVE cupcakes and I love little touches like this that make them seem so special.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I've been framed

It may seem simple, but I am often surprised by what a difference it makes to simply re-frame family photos into coordinating frames. Check out the impact it makes on my stairs.
Some of my photos are black and white, some are in color. But simply being framed in black or white brings them all together. It's easier on the eye and creates a gallery effect rather than a hodge-podge. It gives my humble snapshots a sense of importance.
By the way, to create a similar look on a staircase wall, start with a few big photos along the bottom (in this case, just above the railing) to anchor the look. Then, fill in the gaps with smaller frames.
This tip goes for a collection of photos on the wall, on a sideboard, on a piano, or on a desk. If you can't afford new frames, I've got two words for you: "Spray Paint". Yep, just pick a color and paint all your frames the same one or two colors. It's 15 minutes that will be well worth it in the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Red Shoes and Happiness

I just finished reading Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith - thus the title of this post. Yesterday I discovered the Hanna Anderson outlet in Lake Oswego. I was there for their end-of-season sale and picked up the cutest pair of little red clogs for my three-year-old. Her FIRST pair of red shoes as a "big girl". Last night when she tried them on - and I tried mine on at the same time (oops...did I forget to mention I bought myself some shoes there too?) - and we stomped around the house in our clogs, it was a moment of pure happiness. Shoes (especially red ones) tend to make me happy...and on my sweet little girl...*sigh*. It was a moment.

P.S. The black shoes are what I'm wearing to my husband's company New Year's party tonight. Got them on sale at White House Black Market. (another *sigh*.) Love.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More Wedding Photos

Two posts in one day! It's a bonus day! I just discovered that some of the professional photos of Rachelle & Dan's wedding (the one I designed in December) are already up on their photographers blog. Check out some more photos of the wedding here. I'm working on getting some for my website as well. The Photographers did an amazing job of capturing the romance of the day, and the special love Dan and Rachelle have for each other. I just love their style! (By the way, I think I've recovered from all the hard work, and now am left just feeling warm fuzzies for this sweet couple!)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Friday's Fabulous Finds - Black & White

Happy Friday! Today I'm feeling inspired to bring you a collection of black & white items from Etsy. I chose only the things I truly love and would really, really like to own myself. (In fact, if anyone wants any gift ideas for me...let's just say...each of these posts would do the trick!) I tried to stick to three artists, but couldn't do it below you'll find a collection of five. Be sure to check out the other items in each of these artists' stores, too.

1. "You Are Some Kindo Special" card by thecraftpantry. This is one of those cards that would be really fun to send to a friend unexpectedly. I love everything available at thecraftpantry - check out her greeting cards and also her wide selection of cute market totes - grocery shop in style while helping to take care of the environment at the same time!

2. Cushion cover - black block floral on cream, by quiltification. I like the graphic nature of this pillow - it could work in a modern setting, or add some punch to a traditional one. It would also look great on the bed in a neutral bedroom. It is affordable, and I really like the wide variety of graphic print pillow covers that quiltification offers.

3. Black & white damask hobo bag - I post this in fear and trembling, should any of you buy this bag before I can! I just love it, what can I say? But, for a lighthearted replacement, also in black and white, I might spring for this bag. There are a lot of purses to be found on Etsy, but there's something about the individual sort of style at revolutionoftheheart that just makes them my favorite.

4. "Elegant scroll" stone drink coasters - I feel like coasters are one of those necessary evils in life, and so when I find some I actually like, I rejoice. These are unique and could fit just about any decorating style. Fabulous for a shabby chic setting, but would work well in a traditional, elegant home too. The hockwear store offers a wide range of both elegant and modern styles, each one handmade and different from the next.

5. Branch: a photographic pendant - Littleputbooks makes a line of pendants made out of a Scrabble (the game) tile and beautiful papers or photographs. Man, some people are just so creative! I think it's a novel idea and one they execute really well. Wouldn't you love to have this beautiful conversation piece around your neck? Or to give it as a memorable gift?

Pretty Green

"It's not easy being green." -Kermit the Frog

...but it's getting easier! One of Target's new eco-friendly product lines that I just love is the method line of dish soaps, hand soaps, and environmentally friendly cleaners. I have to admit that "being green" has not always been a top priority of mine, but it's climbing...and with all the fun products out there, they're making it attractive to be "green" too (which is a must for me). What I love about the method soaps and cleaners:

1. Cool looks great at my sink
2. Great scents...cucumber melon is my favorite (as you can see from the photo)
3. It's affordable
4. And, of course, it's biodegradeable and made without phosphate and with Vitamin E & Aloe added in.

Result: it looks good, doesn't ruin my hands and smells natural, not like chemicals. Love it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

beautiful nests

Here's a photo of some of those cute nests I picked up yesterday at Home Goods. I love this kind of seasonal decor - understated and natural...but elegant at the same time. Technically, it's for Easter...but I am longing for spring so much already, that I think this will become part of my decor right away.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Home Goods: Where have you been all my life?

So my friend Lauree has been telling me about Home Goods for weeks now...and my mom...and possibly others who I can't remember at this moment. Anyway, this morning I was on my way to Ikea, and we had some time to kill because we got there early (with two kids, no less!! are you impressed?) so we headed over to Home Goods to pass the time. Oh my, I had such fun. It reminds me a little of Tuesday Morning, but much larger, better organized, and with more selection.

Some of my favorite things at Home Goods:

1. All things "Dining" - all the glassware, pottery, ceramics - and of course the fun linens too. There's something for everyone there. Myself, I am a sucker for cake stands...and they had more cake stands than I could count, and every single one of them was unique and decorative. They were much better than the generic glass ones that are a dime a dozen (if only they only actually COST a dime a dozen, though!). The Emma Cake Stand, pictured below, is selling for $38.00 on Pottery Barn's website (just so you can visualize what I'm talking about). The most expensive cake stand I saw this morning at Home Goods was $19.99 - and many of them more elaborate and decorative than this one.

2. Storage solutions - quality designer magazine holders, baskets, and boxes that would make a gorgeous office for not much money. Also, some sizeable baskets with lids that would make great toy storage or hide blankets.

3. Seasonal decor - it was definitely almost Valentine's Day there...and St. Patrick's Day...and Easter. I've already picked up some Easter decor that's fairly classy. In fact, you may see these things again in the future. Okay, it's some nests with you get it?? Nesting Instincts? I couldn't resist those nests...or pointing out the symbolism... :-) I'll add a photo of them later.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday's Fabulous Finds

In celebration of Friday, I've collected a few fabulous finds to showcase. In fact, "Friday's Fabulous Finds" is going to become a regular feature here on the blog. This week's finds from Etsy are all vintage-inspired:

1. VintageImageMadness - they offer downloadable copies of vintage postcards. How cool is that? So if you love making your own cards and invitations like I do, now you have an endless supply of authentic vintage greeting card images to do it with. Each page has about 8 different images on it...they're super cheap and you can use them as many times as you want once you've downloaded them. (Some of you may have to act surprised if you get a card from me in the future with one of these images on it!)

2. LuLuSparkles - with a name like this, how could you not love it? You know I love sparkly things...vintage sparkly ones are even better. She creates beautiful, one of a kind jewelry made up of vintage components...lots of rhinestones and glass crystals. The photos of the jewelry themselves are yummy - each piece of jewelry is pictured on a unique and vintage-looking background.

3. AuntyCookie - she creates made-to-order vintage bunting. Each banner of flags is different - you can determine the color theme, etc. I think they would be adorable for a birthday party...and then...I'd put them in the kids' bedroom or playroom year-round!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

cheap and simple centerpiece

Instead of fresh flowers in a vase, why not try some citrus in a simple bowl or vase? I mentioned this idea in this month's ezine using lemons or limes. Here's a "twist" on that idea...

The other day I wanted to buy limes for an arrangement. Oh my word, they were expensive! And lemons too. Ah, to live in California where they - literally - grow on trees! So I was pretty happy to discover that Winco has huge bags of tangerines for $1.99 right now. I supplemented with just a handful of lemons and it's a simple but fun arrangement that reminds me just a little of summer. You could stretch your dollar even further by wadding up some newspaper in the very bottom of the bowl and then arranging your citrus on top of that.

For a more shabby chic look, I've paired tangerines and lemons with a white footed bowl and a vintage tablecloth. For a more modern look, I would put those same tangerines and lemons into a large, clear, square vase I have and place that on top of a simple runner.

Monday, January 7, 2008

cutest little throw pillow

Oh my this not the sweetest little pillow you've ever seen? I found this on Etsy today and just had to pass it on! Check out this adorable handmade, customizable pillow you could get for your kids or grandkids or for a baby shower gift. Artist southernsassypants has all kinds of colors and font styles to choose from, and I think $33.50 is not bad for a handmade, custom, keepsake gift!

Friday, January 4, 2008

$5.98 has never gone so far!

Okay, Martha Stewart I am not. Neat and tidy I am not. But over the holidays, every time someone came over, I had nowhere to put their coats. Not an earth-shattering dilemma, of course, but one that I was not content with leaving as-is. To start with, our coat closet is absolutely minute; our house was built in the 1920's - need I say more? To make matters worse, there's a heating duct that cuts off the back 1/3 of the closet, leaving 1/3 of the coat-hanging rod unusable. There is also no shelving or room for shelving. We have nowhere else to store our vacuum - so that lives in there too. I guess because it's January and it's traditionally a time to get organized, I finally got inspired to do something about it. I literally spent $5.98 at Ikea and spent about 15 minutes, and voila! I have a functional, organized coat closet that I'll even be able to let visitors put their coats in. Here's what I did:

1. Took all the coats out of the closet and separated three ways: coats that are never worn, which I'll donate to CityTeam Ministries, coats that are worn infrequently and so go in our bedroom closets, and coats that we wear all the time and will stay in the closet.

2. Took all the other junk out of the closet. Discovered we owned not one, not two, but SEVEN lint rollers in various states of use and un-use. Threw away 3 of them, vacuumed the killer dust-bunnies that remained.

3. Took out all the mis-matched plastic and wire hangers...replaced them with a set of 8 wooden hangers from Ikea which cost $3.99 total.

4. Hung an organizer from Ikea ($1.99 -I think it's supposed to be for shoes) strategically in front of the heating duct - thus making that space usable again! This is now used for lint rollers (only 4 now!), hats, gloves, and vacuum bags (yep, that thing had to go back in too).

With all the other things that need doing in my house, this probably wasn't that important to do NOW, but the sense of satisfaction it gave me just couldn't go without a mention on the blog. Maybe you'll be inspired to tackle some project yourself this weekend. Good luck!

(I have to warn you: the photo still isn't PRETTY...but you should have seen the BEFORE! :-) That black thing is my lovely vacuum, eating up valuable real estate.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Artist of the Month: Rachel Austin

I just love the work of Rachel Ann Austin, who I recently discovered on Etsy. I love that she's a local artist (Portland) and her work is whimsical and sweet. Though her paintings are simple and innocent, I also feel that they would dial up the style quotient in my home significantly. She does a lot of map paintings, which are my favorites - basically a painting super-imposed over a map. I haven't seen these in person yet, but I intend to buy one after I've saved enough.