Super-Sized Succulents

I’ve been on the lookout for some decor to add to our newly finished bookcases. I knew I really wanted to add plants to the family room, and truly, the whole house, so I started there.

Besides me, Dan, and Phoebe, we don’t have any living items in our home. Honestly, I’m a serial plant killer. I couldn’t seem to keep any plant/herb/flower I was given alive for more than a month or two. I couldn’t figure out the reason. Yes, I watered them. No, I don’t think I watered them too much. Yes, they got sunlight. No, they didn’t get too much sunlight. We’ve had daisies, succulents, and basil, and all have died on my watch. This time, I was determined to succeed.

I ended up going with three different kinds of succulents, which I planted in these cute vases from Target.

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I wish I had taken a better picture, to show you scale. The vases are not small, like you would use for the typical size succulents you think of. The vases themselves are over 5 inches tall, and the succulents were the largest ones I found at Home Depot. I picked three different kinds with different shaped leaves and colors.

The clean lines and modern feel of the planters mixed with the fun succulents look great. I’ve added all three plants to the bookcases, and I really think they look great there. They match, but aren’t too matchy-matchy.

I’ll admit – I’ve caught a bit of the plant bug now. I definitely want to add more greenery around the house, so it’s back to the drawing board to research plants that are easy to keep alive…I mean easy to care for and are good for a beginner.

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Copycat White Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

I tried my hand at making a fancy bundt cake for a friend’s birthday a few weeks back. It turned out amazing, so I just had to share it with you guys.

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I know, it doesn’t look like much, but this white chocolate raspberry cake was fantastic! I started with this recipe, and made a few changes and substitutions.

First of all, instead of the 3.4 oz of white chocolate Jello pudding, I used 1 oz of sugar free white chocolate pudding. It’s all I could find. And to make the batter a bit thicker, I used milk in the cake mix instead of water. We only had skim in the house, but you could use 2%, whole, or even half and half in a pinch.

Watch out for the chocolate chips sold at most stores. They aren’t true white chocolate chips. If you look closely, they say “white morsels.” Do not use these in the cake. They don’t melt correctly, and they’re made of a whole list of chemicals that I can’t even pronounce. I bought Ghiradelli white chocolate baking bars and chopped up the chocolate into very thin pieces, so they would melt evenly while the cake baked. This recipe calls for 1.5 cups of white chocolate chips, which ended up being one and a half 4 ounce white chocolate bars.

Finally, as always, I let the eggs come to room temperature before using them in the batter. I know, it sounds weird, but I swear that whenever I use eggs straight from the fridge, the cake isn’t quite as light as it is when I wait for the eggs to warm.

Be prepared for the cake to take somewhere between 55-60 minutes. I kept checking it after 45 minutes, but it was still liquidy. After 60 minutes, I took the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the bundt pan on a wire rack. once it was completely cooled, I wrapped the whole cake in plastic wrap and kept it in the fridge overnight, right up until I needed to frost it.

This was a huge cake, and not even a piece was left an hour after it was served. I got so many complements, and a few people even asked for the recipe. They said it tasted exactly like a cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes which would cost somewhere in the $40-$50 range. I’m definitely going to be saving this recipe to make again.

The Carpet and The Reveal

I originally intended for this to be two separate posts, but after my long break from blogging, I decided you have been in suspense long enough. I give you our (mostly) finished family room.

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We’re so happy with the way it turned out. I’m behind real time in blogging, but much to my surprise (and happiness), from demo to putting furniture back in, the room took a little over 3 weeks. We weren’t quite at the same reno pace when it comes to hanging pictures,styling the bookcases, and adding cabinet hardware. I think we were just so glad to be able to use the room again that we wanted to enjoy it, so the finishing touches waited a bit.

Let’s go backwards a bit in the renovation and start where I left off in my last post – with the carpet. We knew we wanted carpet with a pattern (I thought it would make the room look more like it had a big rug in it than just plain old carpet), but patterned carpet for a reasonable price was hard to find. We found patterns we liked made by Shaw, but that carpet was only sold by small, upscale sellers, which made us concerned it would be out of our price range. While at Costco one day, Dan saw a flyer that Costco sold Shaw carpet through a network of distributors at a discount. We easily found the webpage when we got home, and emailed to find out more information A local seller contacted us immediately.

They brought us a bunch of samples to view at the house, so we’d get a good idea as to how it would look in the space. We found a diamond shaped pattern we liked, and thought would go well with the herringbone tile we had already picked out for the fireplace, so we ordered it on the spot.

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We got a great deal, and in addition, we got 10% of our purchase back via a Costco gift card.

I was nervous that we picked a lighter colored carpet, but felt we couldn’t go with a dark color because of the deep gray colored couch we already had and wanted to keep. I’m happy to report that the carpet was a good choice, and looks great in the room. As for stains, we’ve already spilled a number of things on it, and have no stains! As a bonus, Phoebe’s hair doesn’t seem to be too noticeable on the carpet, which really makes it nice during her shedding season, which is now.

Lately though, I’ve turned my attention toward the bookcases.

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I couldn’t believe that we didn’t have enough decorative items to style the shelves. I started with the golden rule of decorating – trying to use what we had. I pulled a bunch of smaller objects together from throughout the house that I thought might work. That filled about, oh, 3 of the compartments. For the rest, I’ve just kept my eyes open when I’ve been shopping and slowly, I’ve been adding things, taking items out, and re-arranging. To keep things looking cohesive, I’ve been trying to stick to a few main colors, which also appear in the prints we’ve put up on the wall – bright yellow (which is also the color of our curtains), deep blue, and sky blue. I’ve also kept it to dark metallic and wood tones, which are reflected in the butcher block and hardware of the built ins.

We’re not finished yet. We still have more frames and a mirror to hang, I’m on a hunt for new throw pillows, we need a plant or two in the room, and I’m constantly swapping out bookcase items. Even so, I’m really satisfied to see all our hard work pay off. Unlike before, I enjoy being in the room and spending time there. It feels like our space now.

With that, I’ll declare our family room renovation complete!