Monday, September 30, 2013

Cow Hide Rugs

   I have noticed in the last year or so an increase usage of cow hide rugs in more modern decor. This "look" is not new to me considering I am from Texas and the Texas chic is alive and well and has been around for a while. Despite my pride in my home state I am not always drawn to the more rustic, ranch style that you see in several Texas homes. I am however, really loving the incorporation of cow hides in more modern homes and spaces. It has such versatility and longevity and can be used from living rooms, to bedrooms, from offices to baby rooms.  

     There are some practical benefits to cow hide rugs as well, they do not shed, easy to clean, do not stain easily, wear well, last in high traffic areas, and all around hold up very well and will last you many many years. Now I know the pricing on these things can run rather high and if you are looking for something to add as an accent you might be a bit skeptical.  I did quite a bit or research and ended up purchasing one off of amazon.  I had originally looked as some while visiting my family in Texas and the quality was great and the coloring nice, but the price was around $350 which was not what I was wanting to spend. So when I found the one on Amazon that was the same brand but at $160 I jumped at it. Have not been disappointed, and it has been in our living room for four months now and looking great. 
     Here are some tips to keep in mind: they are all a bit different and not cookie cutter so when you get your rug it might have some slight color changes, you will probably want to air it out for an afternoon. There was a slight smell to the rug, but went away within a day or two. To clean or vacuum I use the hand extension on my vacuum, or take it our side and give it a few pats with the broom. There might be some spots on the rug that are thinner, that is just how a real cow hide will look since it comes from a real animal. 
     Hope this has helped is some way if you are interested in the cow hide look. Other places you might find what you are looking for is Ikea, Overstock, and Joss & Main. Happy Shopping! 

Carrie Signature

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thrift Thursdays: Coffee Creamers

     At the grocery store the other day I was doing a quick drive by past the dairy isle and noticed all the fall coffee creamers. I love all the coffee flavors that come with cooler weather like PSL, Toffee, Streusel and many others. I also love the idea of making my own coffee creamer for the peace of mind of knowing whats inside, money saver, and it also makes fun holiday gifts.
   I found some recipes that sounded delicious and turned out to be very easy and I had all the ingredients I needed on hand. The two I tried out were Cinnamon Streusel & Pumpkin Spice. 

Pumpkin Spice

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin

  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together milk, cream, pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. When mixture begins to steam, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Cinnamon Streusel 

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Whisk together milk, cream, maple syrup and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. When the mixture begins to steam, remove from the heat. 
  3. Stir in extracts. 
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.

 As far as Holiday gifts go you can make this coffee creamer and put it in a reused jar and tie a ribbon, or paint the top with chalk paint and write an inscription. Let your creative genius free and skies the limit. Enjoy :)

Carrie Signature

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tips for online clothes shopping

      I know shopping online is nothing new and many of you out there have it down to a science and are masters at clicking that checkout button. My online shopping journey only began three years ago and was really founded on necessity. I was living overseas and the clothing options were limited especially when you are 5'10 and living in Japan. I have always felt intimidated by online shopping, and was a firm believer in needing to touch, smell, see, and try on the item several times before I can purchase it. My mind has been opened and now that I am stateside and have the ability to shop in stores I keep finding myself snuggling up with a cup of coffee on my couch and shopping my favorite stores online. There are some helpful tips to keep in mind when shopping online that will hopefully make your experience more pleasant and rewarding. 

1. Know your size
    This may seem like common sense, but we all have a handful of go-to stores that we love, but that does not mean I wear the same size in each store and that all size 4's are equal. I know this can be super frustrating and can be discouraging, but once you acknowledge this your online shopping experience can be much smoother. For instance I know roughly how Gap sizes their items compared to J.crew and that influences what sizes I put into my cart. If you are unsure what size you would wear in that store .... go shopping! Physically go try on some items and take note of the fit and how often you are having to size up or down.

2. Read Reviews
     This helps me A LOT, that being said you can't always believe what you read. Look for reviews that have a lot of people commenting on the clothing that you are interested in. If that particular item has 5 stars and 42 reviews you are looking at an item that will most likely work for you. Read through the reviews focus on the comments by women your height, body type. Read the ones that give that item only 1 star and see why, was it a size issue, material quality, maybe they thought they were getting a different color than was advertised. I have been swayed both to purchase an item and to walk away from it based on the insight of other shoppers.

3. Wait for the Sale
      A huge plus with online shopping is the promotions and sales they offer which you might not even see in store. Now that you have a handful of go-to stores you can sign up for their email service and you will get notifications on all their online sales. This does not mean you can't shop ahead of time when you have a free weekend put the items you "can't live without" in the cart and wait for the sale to hit. I find it a wise practice for myself to shop put the items in the cart and walk away for a couple of hours and then come back and revisit my items before purchasing. 

4. Careful!
     I know you can get swept up in the fun and ease of online shopping, but you are using real money and you do have to pay for shipping so be consciences of that and you will be able to see your actual final bill before you click the purchase button. Many stores will offer free shipping if you purchase a certain amount of merchandise equalling a set price. Example would be free shipping when you spend $50.00 or more. Also, make sure you read the fine print with items that are labeled FINAL SALE. I don't want to discourage you from making a purchase, but just be aware that you might have to eat the cost if the item does not work for you. 

I would love to hear some tips from you on how you successfully shop online. Here is a website that looks awesome and might help you with your shopping


Carrie Signature

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunny Mondays

    I know Mondays can be rough and daunting because it is the day of the week when it seems like everything gets put on your plate at once and you have a view of the upcoming week and it looks insurmountable. Well, cheer up and maybe thinking about something bright and colorful might do the trick.

   We have already discussed the transition from summer to fall, and one of the colors that you can continue to use and incorporate is yellow. It can range from light, sunny tones to rich, mustard autumn tones. You can use it as the main focus of your outfit or your home or just the right pop of color to set off some of the darker tones that are used consistently in the autumn months. Whatever you decide you really can't go wrong and I personally feel this color can bring that extra "thing" to your look. 


Carrie Signature

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Like Adoption

    This is an amazing, stunning, beautiful video! Thanks Stacey for sharing. We can always use a reminder of what unconditional love is like and how beautiful it is to open your home and hearts to the unconventional beauty of adoption.

Carrie Signature

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Good Morning: Rasperry Cobbler

     Traditionally you would never consider a cobbler as a breakfast dish, but in flavor and texture it is not that far off from other fruity sweet breakfast treats. I did not set out to make a cobbler for breakfast, but had the ingredients and needed to use up some raspberries so it seemed like a good fit. This recipe comes from my Grandmother, and has been used for as long as I can remember by my mother as her go-to cobbler recipe. 
2 cups of fresh fruit 
 (Peaches, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
1 cup of sugar 
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup of flower
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees 

1. Rinse the fruit, then mix the fruit and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
 (Rest of the sugar, flower, salt, baking powder) 

3. In the dry ingredients bowl mix the 3/4 cup of milk and stir

4. Take a 2 quart baking dish put the stick of butter in the pan
and place in the oven till melted

5. Once the butter has melted {10-15min} take it out of the oven

6. Pour the batter (milk + dry ingredients) over the butter DO NOT STIR

7. Final step spoon the fruit/sugar mixture over the butter & batter DO NOT STIR

8. Bake for an hour at 325 and then let it cool before serving and ENJOY

     So hopefully you caught on to the fact that you DO NOT STIR the ingredients once you place them in the baking dish which might feel weird and counter intuitive, but just go with it. 

     Also, you can use just about any fruit with this recipe so get creative and experiment with whats in season. 

    The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar and I have reduced it to one. Half in the fruit half in the dry mixture and it comes out plenty sweet. You could probably cut it down even more or use agave as a sweetener especially in the fruit mixture. 

     Hope you enjoy this easy sweet dish and make it your own... vanilla ice cream is delish with this cobbler if you are serving it after dinner or whipped cream in the morning with your coffee. 

Carrie Signature

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall Hair Trends

      This fall the hair trends tend to flow from summer to fall with subtle differences. There is a darkening of color, which is to be expected, and a bit more bang, as well as some of the length taken off in some instances. But you still see the softer hair styles, curls, and braids being used a lot. Looser looks with subtle ombre or honey highlights throughout.


    All in all, it seems like the transition from summer to fall can be done with some ease and hopefully not straining your budget and a lot of the braiding skills we relearned this summer we can continue to use them into the cooler months.

Carrie Signature

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thrify Thursdays: DIY Shaving Cream

      To be honest I sometimes envy guys and how concise and efficient their shower routine is. If there was some magical product that you could use on your hair, body, face, and shave with that was moisturizing, cleansing, and good for you I would be one happy camper. This product might not be all those things, but it comes close. I have incorporated coconut oil in my beauty routine for years in one way or another and this is just taking it one delightful step further. 

This is all the product you need, you can sue whichever citrus fruit you like I actually used grape fruit in the batch I made. 

 All you need to do is mix 1-2 cups of the coconut oil(the amount depends on how much you want to make) 3tbs of honey and zest your fruit... lemon, lime, grapefruit. 
Place all items in your blender (I used my kitchenaid) and blend until you have the consistency of whipped cream. 

The consistency was a wonderful surprise once it sets it feels like body butter and once you apply it to your body it melts into a more oily texture. I use this for several things, shaving primarily, and what I like most is that it moisturizes as well leaving your skin wonderfully soft. I use it on my face as well the honey is an astringent, and the coconut oil is moisturizing. Apply, leave it on as you shave and rinse well when your done. It is also a great heavy conditioning treatment for your hair. Apply it to the length/ends of your hair pull it into a bun, and leave in for however long you have before rinsing and washing as usual. 

  Find a container that can be closed tightly so that moisture does not get in, and store in a dry cool place. I have not been disappointed at all actually I am falling in love more every day with this product. The only down side I can say is if you have a thing against more oily moisturizers you might not be too keen on this one, but when you dry off you can always towel some of the oil off, and if you shower in the evening by morning there is no remnant of oil usage. 
   Please try!! what do you have to loose and it smells heavenly as well. A bit of luxury in your every day routine.

Carrie Signature

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Posh Seating

      Little can go wrong when you incorporate velvet into your decor. The material has the benefit of boosting up your home's class without making it feel too stuffy or pretentious. I can't lie I have a thing with texture and how it can bring depth to your decor. Velvet not only brings dimension and texture, but its just fun to sit on!

Carrie Signature

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Peach Bread Pudding

    PEACHES! PEACHES! PEACHES! .... there is a plethora of peaches here in the south and the season is fast approaching its end as we head into the fall. So when I ran across this recipe I knew this is what I wanted to do with these last weeks of peach season. It is not a time consuming recipe, but it does require  setting aside some time due to the fact that is needs to set in the fridge for an hour.


For bread pudding:

8 thick slices artisan bread (3/4 lb. loaf), cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (or 1 large egg)
1 1/4 lbs. fresh peaches, sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces

For caramel sauce:

1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream, heated until very hot
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For bread pudding:

Butter a 9 by 13-inch pan. Place bread cubes and peaches in an even layer in the pan.

Whisk buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, eggs and egg yolks. Pour over the bread and peaches. Let stand for about an hour in the fridge. Remove and let come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for about 45 minutes or until set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Spoon warm bread pudding into bowls and top with caramel sauce.
Yield: 8 servings

For caramel sauce:

Sprinkle the sugar in the bottom of a heavy-duty saucepan. Turn heat on to medium-high. The sugar will start to melt. Gently swirl the pan so the sugar melts evenly. When the sugar has all melted and is golden amber in color, remove from heat and immediately add the butter and cream. It will bubble furiously and then calm down. The caramel will probably clump up. Place the pan over medium heat and stir to melt the clumps. Add a pinch of sea salt and the vanilla extract. Pour into a glass jar or pitcher and keep warm until ready to serve. Cover the leftover sauce and refrigerate. Keeps well for 2 weeks.

Carrie Signature

Monday, September 16, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 4 Trailer


   I am so excited about this being aired in the states!!!
It airs in the states January 5th 2014 .... that's 111DAYS, 8HRS, 11MIN .... Just FYI SINCERELY,
Carrie Signature

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  So I have been wanting to do this for a while and it seems like there are so many different recipes for DIY laundry detergents. The funny part of this is that my husband has been the one pushing for us to use homemade detergent, which for those who know him is pretty out of character. He did most of the research and would send me links to multiple recipes, and so I finally set aside some time and made some detergent. This recipe is one I stumbled on and thought it looked the easiest and it addressed the question of whether you can use it with a HE washer which is what we have.

The essential oil is not pictured here, but you can use whichever scent you like best

Essentially what I did was purchase a large plastic bucket with a lid at Wall-mart and dumped all the ingredients inside and stir. The only extra step is you need to grade the Fels-Naptha with a normal cheese grader. It will come out looking like cheese does when you grade it. At that time you can add it to the mixture, but I took it a step further and blended it a make a refined powder.

Blended the Fels-Naptha a few times in the blender before adding it to the batch

    After everything is mixed stir well and there you go easy as pie. For a normal washer add 2-3 tablespoons to the water and let it wash. It can also be used in front loading HE washing machines! Since homemade laundry detergent doesn’t contain a sudsing agent it is safe for a high-efficiency washer. For front-loading machines, use about two tablespoons of your homemade  detergent and mix the detergent with two tablespoons of hot water before adding to the dispenser. 

   I put the majority of the mixture in the blue tub, seen in the background for storage, and then filled the smaller container with detergent so that I can use daily and it won't be such a chore getting down from the shelf in the laundry room. I will let you know how it all goes I have high hopes, and maybe just maybe my husband might do more laundry!

Carrie Signature

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Good Morning: Blueberry & Lemon Ricotta Scones

  Yummy!!! these turned out fantastic, which was such a joy considering scones can have a tendency to be dry and hard if not done well. The recipe I used is relatively easy and I had most of the items already on hand so it was not inconvenient. I was unable to take pictures of the process it is harder to do when your baking, but the blog I got the recipe from has some pictures if you need them. Hope you have a lovely weekend and can get out and enjoy God's beautiful creation.

1 large egg
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons /1 stick butter, very cold
1 cup blueberries
1/8-1/4 cup melted butter, for brushing

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl until they are well combined.

3. Add the ricotta and whisk it in. It is okay if a few lumps remain.

4. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
Dice the cold butter into small cubes. (You can place the butter in the freezer for 15-20 mins before in order to get it very cold.) Add the butter pieces to the flour and toss with a fork just until the butter is coated with flour.

5. Now using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour until you have a mixture of pea-sized or slightly larger clumps of butter and flour. (The pea-size bits of butter in your dough are responsible for the flakiness of your crust – when the butter melts while baking, it creates an air pocket, which is inflated by the steam created when the liquid evaporates. Result – flaky scones. End of science lesson.)

6. Create a well in the middle of your flour mixture and add the liquid. Starting from the center, work the dry ingredients into the liquid by mixing gently with a fork until it all roughly comes together to form a wet, very sticky mixture. It is okay if there is a little flour at the bottom of your bowl. The main thing is to not overwork the dough. Gently fold in the blueberries with a rubber spatula taking care not to bruise them as far as possible.

7. Turn out the dough onto a well floured space and gently and shortly knead the dough. To do this, pat it down gently and put all the flour bits that were at the bottom of your bowl on top of the dough. Lift one end of the flattened dough and fold it in half over itself. Press it down again, put any bits on top and fold again. Give the dough 3-4 turns like this and it should come together. Don’t overwork the dough.
Finally, pat the dough down into a disk, about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 wedges like a pie. Or cut out rounds with a cookie cutter (2.5-3 inches); don’t twist the cookie cutter while cutting. (This prevents the scones from rising evenly.)

8. Transfer the wedges or rounds to the baking sheet and brush with the melted butter. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 mins until the tops are golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. These are best when eaten warm from the oven with butter/jam/clotted cream à la the Famous Five.

Carrie Signature

Friday, September 13, 2013

Shopping for a Cause

If you are not familiar with the idea there are several organizations that help women & men around the world earn a living, gain independence, and dignity through providing them a means to earn a living. These organizations team up with artisans from around the world and market their goods for us as consumers to purchase. It is a marvellous idea and it makes spending money all the better because you know you are helping so many people around the world. 

Once such organization I love shopping at is Noonday Collection they feature beautiful pieces at decent prices. Please take some time to check them out and do some online shopping for a cause. 

 Here are some items I love and really hope you discover something that takes your breath away and read through the web site and get an idea what they are all about. If you are interested they also have a blog that you can follow.

Carrie Signature

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thrifty Thursdays

    I for one am a proponent of a clean, pleasant smelling home and nice smelling anything really.  I use candles, and air fresheners to achieve this and I am aware how that can put a strain on the budget. Now, I do not want to disappoint, but this post is not about candle making although that would be FUN! My skills are not that amazing, but I can try and ease some expense and boost your health with DIY home air fresheners. Some air fresheners contain very unpleasant ingredients such as, formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, aerosol propellants, and p-dichlorobenzene. These ingredients have been known to cause asthma, respiratory problems, and pulmonary problems.
     All this to say I think there is a cheaper and better solution to the question of how to maintain a clean, healthy, fresh home... on the cheap.

         You can take a spray bottle and fill it up with water and add 10 drops of any kind of essential oil shake and use. It works just like any other air freshener and in my opinion lasts longer. You can make it seasonal by making a cinnamon one or peppermint. The essential oil can be intense so begin by using sparingly, in one room, see how you like the effects before spraying your whole home. Some scents I love are grapefruit, orange, lavender, and peppermint. Some times essential oils can by pricey, but a little goes a long way and there are so many uses for them that I don't think you will find it a waist of money.

you can purchase already put together mists this one I purchase at Whole Foods

Carrie Signature

Wednesday, September 11, 2013