Shutter to Think

Of all the things I love about our house, its curb appeal is not one of them. The perfect location, a stunning backyard and ready-to-finish basement were all major selling points when we bought our home almost a year ago (!), but we've never been wild about how looks from the street. That's mainly due to two enormous pine trees that take up our whole front "yard," so until we can pay to have those two behemoths taken down, we've got to work on improving our home's curb appeal in other ways.

One easy way to boost curb appeal is by adding shutters to the windows. It's something I'd been wanting to do for a while now, and two weeks ago we finally broke down and ordered some shutters! Eric took precise measurements of all the windows, then we took those measurements to Home Depot and ordered Builder's Edge Louvered Shutters in Tuxedo Gray. We chose gray because obviously I'm a fan, and it's a great, neutral color that will look nice with our bright, yellow front door.

The shutters arrived on Tuesday, but we waited 'til the weekend to hang them. When I came back from my long training run on Sunday morning (my last one -- the half-marathon is already this Saturday!), Eric was already installing them!

I told him to wait until I could help him, but apparently they were a snap to hang. A drill, ladder and hammer were all he needed!

But, wait - did you notice? On our picture window, we only have one shutter! Before ordering our shutters, we realized we were working with some rather awkward space. The little awning/porch roof out front reaches out to the right frame of the picture window, and there's just no working around that. When we ordered the shutters, we thought "Hey, maybe it won't look too out-of-balance to have one longer shutter on one side, and a shorter one on the other."

Ummm.... it definitely looked completely out of balance.

So, we decided to just put one up to see how it looks with just one side shuttered.

Ehhhh..... a little weird. But is it completely noticeable when you first glance? Would it look better with just the smaller, right-side window shuttered, and the picture window with no shutters at all?

We can't make up our minds. Part of me hates to remove the longer shutter on the picture window, but I also realize it may look a little goofy with just one up there.

The rest of the windows look beautiful all spiffed up in their new Tuxedo-Gray shutters!

I really love how the shutters give the house a little more of a put-together, classic Cape-Cod look. But I'm just so stuck on that one big picture window.

So, I need your advice, folks: Should we keep up the long shutter on the picture window or remove it and leave the picture window completely bare? Is it super noticeable and just totally off balance with just one? on the left side? Leave a comment and let me know which you think would look better!

UPDATE: Thanks to my wonderful co-worked and Photoshop wizard, here is a "with" vs. "without" image of the shutters. This should help give you an idea of how it would look with just one window shuttered out front!



Thanks, everyone!


Your Weekly Pins...

Another Friday, another week of pins! Here's what caught my eye on Pinterest this week...

reclaimed wood art DIY
[Yes, reclaimed wood is beautiful on its own, but what an awesome idea to cover it with a bright, sunny painting? I love this use of old pallet boards as a canvas.]

Trix instead of Rice Krispies... how fun!
[I am a five-year old in many ways. Fart jokes will always be funny, I prefer my daily vitamin to be gummy and sweet and I am instantly drawn to any kind of neon-colored food. So when I saw these Trix Krispies I went crazier than a fourth-grader on field day. Must make immediately.]

S’mores Whoopie Pies
[By now we're all aware of my obsession with s'mores. And just when I thought they couldn't get better, I see them in whoopie-pie form and can't get them out of my mind. I guarantee these are as tasty as they are cute.]

Almond Joy Bars( with or without the almonds)
[I came to the coconut-chocolate party late. I didn't fully appreciate the deliciousness that are Almond Joys and Mounds until just a couple of years ago. Then, last Halloween, I bought a giant bag of fun-sized Almond Joys that I polished off before any of the trick-or-treaters got to our door. Whoops. I think enough time has passed that I can hop back on the sweet-coconut-and-chocolate train, and these Almond Joy bars look like just the thing to help me aboard.]

Hello, sunshine.
[Oh hey, a yellow, belted dress. That's new (but still adorable).]

Just need a matching yacht and the outfit would be complete!
[All I need is a matching sailboat and the outfit would be complete!]

My Lord, this is beautiful!
[This antique-style ring is absolutely stunning. I don't know what else to say about it!]

So cute
[My little obsession with lace dresses isn't fading anytime soon. This pretty number is perfect for a summer soiree.]

I'd be cool with just lounging on this in the backyard
[You know, I'd be perfectly fine just parking this in the backyard and lounging even without the lake. But can you imagine tubing down a river in this puppy??? Incredible.]

a piece of dad's blue work shirt sewn into the bridal gown or a grandpa that was important or has passed on--
[I absolutely love this touching sentiment: Sewing a piece of a departed loved one's clothing into your wedding dress. Such a thoughtful way to honor their memory and have them with you on your big day.]

Love a two-tone bridesmaid dress...
[This two-toned bridesmaid dress is unexpected and so pretty. Bonus points for the fun flower sash.]

fabric flower bouquet
[I have such a hard time thinking about the outrageous cost of flowers at weddings... especially because they'll be dead just a couple days later This adorable fabric bouquet can last long after you say "I do." (P.S. How cute is this little girl???)]

Peonies and dahlias
[But if you're going to spend money on flowers, make sure they're fluffy. Like this jaw-dropping arrangement of peonies and dahlias. Gorgeous!]

flop ear
[Lil' flop ear here just melts my heart. Somebody get that ear a splint!]

Cute little dude!
[Frenchies are plenty cute enough, but add a patch over one's eye and I'm done for. Death by cuteness.]

There are plenty more where these came from! To see everything I pin all week long, follow me on Pinterest.


Flourless pizza dough

I'm lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where there are at least two incredibly delicious pizza joints within short-walking distance from my house. The first is the perfectly quirky, always imaginative Classic Slice, whose slices are the size of an infant. The second is the more quaint, traditional Mama De Marini's, whose sausage pizza may be one of the best I've ever had. As someone who absolutely adores pizza, I'm a lucky girl to have two wonderful establishments within such close proximity to my own front door. Also as someone who adores pizza, I'm not a lucky girl in the sense that I was not blessed with a naturally speedy metabolism. If I were to frequent these two joints as much as I'd like to, I'd turn into a little dough ball, myself.

So when I've got a hankering for some pizza, I like to have a healthier version to hold me over until I decide it's time to treat myself to the real, cheese-smothered, doughy deal.

This version is for those who are more carb-conscious. I'll admit, I am crazy for carbs, but they're not crazy for me. While I don't believe in cutting out certain foods completely from my diet, I do know I need to limit my carb intake if I'm trying to lose a couple pounds. I don't have a problem with this if I can find a decent, lower-carb substitute for my favorite treats. And in this case, I think I've found a great one!

This flourless pizza's dough is made from almond flour. It couldn't be easier to whip up, and it's got a rich, nutty, buttery flavor. I had two medium slices and was absolutely stuffed (with the addition of ground flax, it's loaded with Omega 3s and belly-filling fiber, too!)

You've got to approach this pizza without the expectation of its tasting exactly like your favorite delivery... or even frozen variety. Pre-bake, the dough is much more sticky than its flour-based counterpart. 

There's no flipping and spinning this dough. You'll need to spread it and shape it on a stick-free surface (I used a silicone sheet liner) with your hands.

But after a little pre-baking, then baking again with your choice of toppings (we used mushrooms, onion and red peppers), it's firm and thick and sturdy enough to eat with your hands (no fork necessary!). 

The crust ends up chewy, thick, dense and a perfect vessel for your favorite toppings. 

Perfect for those of you who have a gluten intolerance or (if you cut out the cheese) are following the Paleo diet!

Flourless Pizza Dough
2 Cups Almond Meal/Flour
2 Eggs
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 tbsp ground flax
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until it begins to form a dough ball.
3. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or coat with cooking spray. This is VERY important if you want your pizza slices to come off in one piece.
4. Press your dough on the sheet with your hands so it's just about 1/4 of an inch thick.
5. Put crust in the oven for about 15 minutes until edges are golden brown.
6. Top with your choice of pizza sauce and toppings, and bake again another 15 minutes or until cheese is golden.



Your Weekly Pins

Another Friday, another week of pins! Here's what caught my eye on Pinterest this week....

Homemade ice cream in a bag!
[I've been wanting an ice-cream-maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer for a while now, though Eric insists I would rarely use it. I beg to differ, but until I sneak that attachment onto our wedding registry, this homemade ice cream in a bag method should do the trick! If nothing else, I'm sure it would make for a great arm workout.]

Push-up cake pops!
[Remember Flintstone's Push-Up Pops as a kid? Dang, those things were awesome. Orange was definitely my flavor of choice, but you could shove any flavor in my face and I would happily gobble it down (that is, if the sherbet inside wasn't so frozen it was nearly impossible to actually use the push-up device). These are just like Push-up Pops, but with CAKE. How fun would it be to push up a tiny little cake with icing and sprinkles as a treat? These Cake Shooters are just about the most adorable little things I've ever seen.]

Single Serving Chocolate Cake. High protein, no sugar.
[Normally when it comes to dessert, I'm a "go big or go home" kind of girl. But every once in a while I can get behind a healthified version of my favorite sweets. This single-serving chocolate cake is high in protein and has no sugar - an almost guiltless indulgence!]

Preheat oven to 350; smoosh 1.5 squares of break-apart refrigerated cookie dough into the bottom of each well.  Place Reese cup upside down on top of cookie dough (or an Oreo!).  Top with prepared box brownie mix, filling 3/4 full.  Bake for 18 minutes!  HEAVEN.
[About 95% of the time if I'm making a dessert, I like to make it from scratch. But if I'm in a pinch and don't have much time I'll occasionally lean on the boxed mix or refrigerated dough. This recipe couldn't look easier (or more delicious): Preheat oven to 350; smoosh 1.5 squares of break-apart refrigerated cookie dough into the bottom of each well. Place Reese cup upside down on top of cookie dough (or an Oreo!). Top with prepared box brownie mix, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 18 minutes! Ummmm.... yeah. I want that.]

Easy weekend style
[Can you think of a more perfect Spring or Fall weekend outfit? I love the layering of a button-up shirt underneath a sweatshirt. Class it up even further with a glitzy necklace. Relaxed-chic!]

[I am gaga over this dress - its structure, its fabulous mint color, that belt with it.... so polished. I'd definitely finish the look with some blush-colored heels]

I'll take it all!
[This is another great example of some gussied-up weekend wear. That shirt is just adorable, but I love it with the distressed jeans, dangly earrings and simple leather sandals. Great for early summer!]

Ask your guests to sign their name on their birthday... a great idea for a guestbook!
[How about this for a genius guestbook companion: Have each of your wedding guests sign their name on their birthday - you'll have an instant list of all your friends' and family birthdays (you'll never forget to send a card again!)]

HOT PINK garden chairs for the ceremony?? Get OUT!
[I'm pretty sure no place I know around me offers these as a rental, but how absolutely fabulous are these hot-pink garden chairs at this wedding?? I LOVE the bold color - I'm sure their guests knew right away this was going to be one fun soiree.]

Peach Wedding Bouquet
[I'm wild about this gorgeous peachy-pink bouquet. One of the most beautiful I've seen!]

Simple wedding rings.
[I love every one of these sweet, simple rings. Though I doubt they were originally designed to be wedding rings, each one would make for a perfect little band.]

sign on a "chalkboard" balloon!
[Just another example of how you can work the chalkboard trend into anything - a chalkboard-inspired balloon! Think of all the ways you could incorporate this into your day - I'm thinking as a drink menu by the bar, a dinner menu by the buffet, a run-down of the night's events or a list of sweets on the dessert table.]

What is it with cats and remote controls?!
[Not only is this kitten just downright adorable, but this one hits close to home as Mr. Pancakes is outright obsessed with remote controls, too! He tries to grab them from our hands, or at least has to lay a paw on one while he's relaxing on the couch. Somebody needs to tell him there's not a Cat Fancy channel on the tube..... yet.]

There are plenty more where these came from! To see everything I pin all week long, follow me on Pinterest!


YAY! I Heart Flags

Today marks exactly 13 months until our wedding! Yes, yes - I know... that's still a loooong time before the big day. But the last four months have flown by and I'm sure before I know it the wedding will be two weeks away and I'll be curled up in a corner somewhere freaking out because I still have so much to do. Such is the experience of a DIY bride. Or so I've been warned.

Behind the scenes, Eric and I are chipping away at booking our vendors and making good progress. But, as a visual girl (and one who realizes how much work is ahead of her), I wanted to get cracking on something more tangible for the wedding. But something I knew I wouldn't change my mind on in the next year. One of the first details I knew I wanted was to provide each guest a cute little flag at the ceremony to wave after Eric and I are pronounced husband and wife as we walk down the aisle. I'd seen the idea for "YAY" flags online and thought it was so sweet and fun - a definite must for the ceremony! In all my excitement, I purchased the materials back in the beginning of March.

I contemplated sewing and assembling the flags myself, but when I crunched the numbers and thought about the actual work time I'd put in to them, I decided to buy pre-made flags. Luckily, the Oriental Trading Company had the exact-size blank flags I was looking for for super cheap. And for the "YAY," I decided to use a custom-made plastic stencil I ordered for about $5 at JustStencils.com.

YAY, indeed. Except, when I put the stencil on top of the flag, it was about half an inch wide on both sides. I was a little miffed, because I customized the stencil online so it would fit the canvas flag perfectly, but it came to me just a bit bigger than I would've liked. So, I took matters into my own hands and did a little.... editing.

Meet my ultra-jacked-up, but perfectly sized stencil.... held together by painters tape.

You know me - only the classiest, folks.

I started off with yellow acrylic paint, stenciling it on with a thin foam brush. 

After about 15 YAY flags were painted, I realized I wanted a little variety in these flags. I didn't necessarily want to make another word (I wasn't entirely sure I could fit another word on the flags besides simple, three-letter YAY), so I decided on something a little more graphic: A big ol' heart stamp!

I went to Michael's in search of a large heart stamp, but couldn't find anything remotely right at three different locations. Again, I took matters into my own hands and decided to create my own heart stamp.

I purchased a 69-cent wooden heart block for the stamp base.

Then bought a sheet of red foam for something like 30 cents and cut out a big heart from it. I glued it all together with super tacky craft glue.

It made for the perfect-size stamp. To make things a bit less sloppy, I painted the paint onto the stamp with a foam brush for a light coating (I used both pink and turquoise) and pressed the stamp onto the canvas flags - the stamp gives the hearts a nice, rustic, not-perfectly-painted look... which is just what I was going for.

I love the yellow, pink and turquoise colors together! Right away, guests should catch the vibe that this is a fun, relaxed, not-at-all stuffy affair.

I'm only about 1/3 of the way through making these flags, but I'm thinking I'll make 2/3 of them the YAY flags, with the other third as hearts. I'll probably change up my next 15 YAY flags with a different color, as well. I can't wait to see them in action! Hopefully it will make a great photo op, with everyone waving their flags as we walk down the aisle as husband and wife. Or, at the very least, I just hope our guests will actually wave their flags to begin with!

P.S. Did you catch how I used one of the pink hearts to dress up the new shelf in our guest room? Who says wedding decorations can only be used for the event itself?!



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