Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Fall Ya'll!!

School is back in full swing, football season (or as I like to call it tailgating season) is here, the temps are finally starting to drop and we are chomping at the bit to start wearing sweaters and boots...It's Fall Ya'll!!!

But in the Martin household, it isn't Fall until the Fall decorations are out!  Both Kipper and I love how the Fall decor makes the house feel extra cozy, but I also love the opportunity to get crafty!

Anyone who has ever purchased floral arrangements for their home knows that you can easily drop quite a bit of cash for the quality and look of arrangement you want. This was something I learned very quickly when Kipper and I got married. I had a vision of what I wanted but had very little budget to achieve it. That was when I started to teach myself how to create the arrangements I wanted and I am so glad I did. (Man Pinterest would have sure been helpful then!) I couldn't even begin to tell you how much money it has saved us over the years, without sacrificing on look. 

This year I decided I wanted create a new piece to go on top of our entertainment hutch so I headed to Hobby Lobby one Saturday that they had all their Fall decor and floral 40% off. After 45 minutes of shopping and $21 later I was ready to get started!

Here is everything I had to work with/used:

  • 2 berry branches that had wired, curly branch pieces on it
  • 4 velvet sunflowers
  • 1 Fall leaf vine
  • 2 small pumpkins
  • 2 large, glitter accented pumpkins 
  • A hand full of thin decorative, glittered branches in both gold and orange
  • Floral wire 
  • Hot glue (which I ended up not using)
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors 

To start, I laid out the berry branches and unwrapped the 1 of the wired, curly branch pieces from each one and set those aside for later. 

Next I snipped about 2 1/2 - 3 inches off of each berry branch in order to achieve the right length once assembled for the length of the TV hutch. 

After that I used the the wired, curly branch pieces still attached to connect the two berry branches, creating the base for my arrangement.  

After getting the base assembled I clipped off 2 berry bunches from each end to use when I built the middle of the arrangement. On these particular branches every other set of berries had the mini bunches split into 2 so you could maximize the fullness, so cutting off  2 on each side didn't make it looked like their were big holes etc. 

I set the berry bunches to the side and started pulling the cluster of leaves off the fall leaf vine. Using the floral wire I started filling in around the berry bunches by attaching the leave clusters. In order to have a nice variation of color, I played around with different leaf clusters and locations before actually attaching them. 

After adding leaves onto both ends of the base, it was time to start adding some to the center section. Knowing that I would be adding the pumpkins, sunflowers and the berries and wired curly branch that I cut off earlier, I used the leafs to help shape the area so it would look full once everything in place. 

After playing around with the combination of placement options I decided on which I liked best and attached everything with floral wire. Because the pumpkins were on picks, I was able to forgo hot gluing them and just  just the floral wire. I prefer not to have to hot glue anything  because it makes it harder to change things out and update arrangements after a few years. So if you are creating something that you want to use for several years, try to forgo the hot glue (even though it is faster) because in the long run you will be able to get more life out of your arrangement!

Now that all the major assemble was done,  it was time to put the arrangement on the hutch for final touches!  

Once in place I took both the gold and orange thin, glittered decorative branches and inserted them in to add a little extra fullness and sparkle! This branches are so thin they don't always store well in between years and often break in storage. Because of that I don't even wire them in to arrangements. They are so cheap it is just easier to put new ones in each year! 

When it was all said and done, I was really excited with how it turned out! And the fact that is only cost me $21 and a few hours of time made me like it even better!  Hopefully this "how to" will inspire you to create your own fall floral creation! Just remember, if you are using the floral wire there is almost no part of an arrangement you can't "undo" or change so through caution to the wind and see what you can come up with! 

Now time to light some candles and curl up with a good book and my fur babies! I LOVE FALL!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Will Never Forget Where I Was When...

I remember growing up my grandparents, parents, teachers etc would talk about how they would always remember where they were and what they were doing when XYZ happened. As a child I sort of took this as another version of the "When I was you age I walked through the snow barefoot to get to school and was NEVER late" type of thing. 

That was until Tuesday, September 11, 2001. 

8:30 AM
I was a 19 year old student at Texas Wesleyan University and my parents were leaving on vacation that morning. Like most days I woke up, turned the TV on and started getting ready for class. 

Around 8:55 AM
While blow drying my hair, I glanced over to the TV and I started to see the images. I immediately stopped drying my hair and started listening, trying to make sense of what was happening. A plane has crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. 

9:03 AM
Before the eyes of millions across the world, a second plane crashes into the World Trade Center South Tower. At that moment it all became very clear - this was no accident. And as terrifying and heartbreaking as what I just watched was, all I knew was my mom and dad were on a plane, in mid-flight. As tears streamed down my face, I began to pray for their safety. 

Around 9:15 AM
In a total panic, I remember calling Kipper (who was still asleep) and repeating you have to turn on the TV, America is under attack and that I couldn't get a hold of my parents because their plane had already taken off.  Of course he thought I was freaking out over something random, until he turned on the news. 

 9:30 AM
I headed off to my first class of the day. To this day I still don't remember why I went to class. I guess I figured all I would do in my dorm was panic and worry. Of course when the professor arrived, the only thing anyone talked about was the events that had taken place less than an hour ago. It was clear we weren't going to actually have class that day. 

 Around 9:45 AM
Another professor came into the room, letting us know that something had happened at the Pentagon. The fear and panic increased, and our professor dismissed class. 

 9:50 AM
A group of us walk back to the dorms together. In my rush earlier I left my TV on and right as I entered my room I saw the images of the South Tower collapse. I grabbed the phone to call my parents and they answered.  To this day I remember the huge sense of relief that flooded my body. They had arrived safely and were able to get a rental car before the the airports had shut down. (which was even more of a God send because they fact they had their car before they halted air travel was the only reason they were able to make it home from their trip because they couldn't fly and their were no rental cars to be found!)  

That hour was honestly the longest hour of my life that I had ever experienced. With that said I could never begin to imagine what the family members of those who were on those flights or were in the towers or of the rescue workers felt. I had to wait barely an hour to hear my loved ones were safe, I couldn't imagine waiting hours or days.  Now I truly understood what people meant when they said "I will never forget what I was doing when..."

Fast forward 5 years, Kipper and I were in New York for our 2nd wedding anniversary. He really wanted to go to Ground Zero but I honestly didn't want to. Looking back, I never really had a real reason for not wanting to go, but I think deep down inside it scared me. Five years later the thought still scared me because I didn't want to relieve the emotions from that morning. But I faced those fears and we went and I am so glad I did. It is something that I will never forget and never want to forget.

Kipper took so many amazing, emotionally charged photos that day that I really deserve to be included in this blog. But there is one photo that I snapped that has always stuck with me (and not just because I took it!)  As we were walking down the stairs from the viewing area on the black plywood wall someone had written a note that caught my eye. It wasn't a well crafted and deep note. It was just simple and real. It was just one person expressing their emotions, but those emotions spoke to so many more.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summer of Cupcakes: Bliss Cupcakes & Confections

Better late than never....2 months after our visit I bring you the fourth stop on our The Summer of Cupcakes tasting tour: Bliss Cupcakes & Confections! While we were in Allen for Miss Texas week it was the perfect time to check out Bliss since it was within walking distance of the host hotel! 

Location:   The Villages of Allen
            190 East Stacy Road, Suite #1414 Allen, Texas 

Hours:      Mon - Thur: 10:00am to 8:30pm
            Fri - Sat: 10:00am to 9:00pm
            Sun11:00am to 7:00pm

Pricing:    $3.99 each 

Flavor Selection:   They have 6 Everyday Classic flavors that are always available and then they rotate their 7 Signature flavors throughout the week. In addition to this they off a Design Your Own Cupcake bar! Here you can come up with your very own cupcake creation including fillings and toppings! (cupcake bar is slightly higher price) 

Okay, let's get down to business!

Some of the other families at Miss Texas had already tried out Bliss, so we had heard great things and couldn't wait to go for ourselves. Let me start off by saying this place is ADORABLE!

And not only do they have great decor but they also had a great seating area for you to enjoy your goodies! And while using so much pink could come off really girly, there was a nice mix of brown that makes the decor appealing to guys too. (or at least mine!)  

Of all the places we have gone they have had the most expensive cupcakes, but after you see them you understand why - they are HUGE! We decided to go with 2 Everyday Classic flavors:

Southern Red Velvet: A deep dark red cake with a hint of milk chocolate, frosted with our rich and creamy traditional cream cheese icing topped with red velvet cake crumbs

Cookies n Cream: A light and moist white butter cake blended with crushed chocolate cookies frosted with silky white buttercream topped with chocolate cookie crumbs

And the results...........

  • As I mentioned before the price point was higher than most, but maybe it is because of the size
  • We did like that they offer more than just cupcakes! They also have Cake Pops and Cake Parfaits for sale and several other special order items like Custom Cakes, Cake Pop Bouquets, and To Go Party Kits!
  • And of course Kipper was happy because Milk was on the beverage menu! :) 
The final verdict? Thumbs up all around!!! 

 Stay tuned for our next stop at the Ultimate Cupcake!