Monday, January 31, 2011

Four Leaf Clover Necklace

In honor of the Bachelor tonight, I wanted to write on Emily's cute four leaf clover necklace.


I'm not sure if it's the same brand, but I've seen this necklace before:


I have this necklace in black from NYLightMetals and absolutely love it!  The necklace also come in silver as well as other colors.  I would love to purchase the four leaf clover earrings next.


And I have to give a shout-out to the girl responsible for my purchasing this necklace.  Veronika showcased this necklace on her blog and I had to have it right away.  Thanks for the inspiration!

Other things I love from her shop:


I have some earrings similar to these in silver, but I love the gold.  They are super sweet and delicate!


I love the juxtaposition of gold and navy enamel.  Very versatile and it would probably look great with my MK watch...doncha think?


And for all you bloggers out there...how cute is this little vintage camera necklace?  You'll notice the emerald green gemstone in the lens--what a nice touch!  Maybe a nice gift from your loved one this Valentine's Day?  

If you're watching Bachelor tonight...enjoy!  As Chris Harrison always says: It's sure to be the most dramatic rose ceremony yet!

xo natasha

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 Things that Make Me Happy!

Happy Friday!!!  I am so happy it's Friday and we have the weekend to enjoy!  We have a dinner party tonight and a neighborhood Wine Walk tomorrow night...how fun is that?  While Fridays definitely make me happy, here are 5 more things:

Peonies


I love pink fluffy peonies...makes me look forward to spring!

Red Currant


I know this a mainstream choice, but I just LOVE the smell of Votivo Red Currant.  It smells so yummy and makes the whole house feel warm and cozy.

Dark chocolate...salt...and caramel...OH MY!


MMMMMM can we say "AMAZING"?!?!?!  This is like heaven in a jar.  I'm salivating...

Tory Burch


That's RIGHT lovlies...I got the bag!!!  Last seen here...I bit the bullet and can't wait to get my hands on it!  IRL pictures to come!  :)

And the 5th thing that makes me happy today is ALL of you!  My 20 lovely followers!!!  I can't tell you how much it means to me to have such support!  I literally started this blog 20 days ago...with no followers and no clue what I was getting myself into!  All of your comments and kind words mean the world to me and give me the courage to come back each day and share.  So thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!  xo natasha

Thursday, January 27, 2011

C is for Cupcake

I have a confession:  I LOVE cupcakes!  I know, I know...I sound like every other person in the world right now, but seriously...anything that comes in a mini size, sounds good to me!  You know..that was the allure to cupcakes...way back in the day!  They were a miniature cake.  Now, of course, there are mini cupcakes, which is almost like a double negative.  But still, this is the original and I love them!


This recipe is taken from cupcakes!, a nice little cookbook given by a dear friend:
  • 1 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon bakings soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola or corn oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg and yolk, and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 2 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  On low speed, mix in the oil and vanilla until blended.  Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain.  Mix in the flour mixture until its incorporated and the batter is smooth.  Scoop into cupcake pan and bake for 23 minutes.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl or the top of a double broiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double broiler).  Stir the chocolate until it is melted and smooth.  Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl.  Add the butter, and using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes.  At first the mixture will look crumbly, but then it will form a smooth mass.  Beat in the melted chocolate.  Add the vanilla and cream, mixing to incorporate.  On medium speed, beat the frosting for at least 3 minutes, until it looks smooth and creamy and the color lightens.  Using a small spatula, spread about 3 tablespoons of frosting on top of each cupcake, mounding the frosting in the center.  The cupcakes can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.


I love the combo of yellow cake and chocolate frosting...it keeps the cupcake light but still rich...if that even makes sense!  What's your favorite cupcake?

Hope you enjoy!  Bon Appetit!

xo natasha

Linked to: Tasty Tuesdays Bloghop

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Remodeling the Kitchen

If you've been reading my blog, then you a little idea of what our house was like before we renovated it.  I talked about the master bathroom here but the biggest transformation in the whole house was our kitchen.  Again, I wish I took more "before" photos, but I just had no idea how much we were going to do until we got started.  Here are the before shots:


When you first walked into the house, there was this HUGE fireplace.  It's real brick and it literally sat smack-dab in middle of the kitchen and into the living area.  You can also get an idea of what the pea green appliances were like and the awful flooring.  The fireplace no longer worked and did not allow for a functional kitchen.


And here is the kitchen in its entirety!  You will notice there is no refrigerator...well it actually sat against the back of the fireplace.  The white "brick" facade you see on the backsplash was foam and falling apart.  The thing we loved about the kitchen of course, is the great light...so we knew we had something to work with.


The first thing we did was rip out everything...and I mean EVERYTHING!  And that includes that fireplace.  We found out the previous owners actually retro'd the fireplace in and cut major support beams under the house to make way for it.  So the floors were replaced and we added a three foot extension to the wall to allow for more cabinet and counter space.  We also had to tackle where the new refrigerator would go...which you'll see is against this wall.


Where the fireplace was, we decided to add in a skylight...it's been wonderful having the extra light.  Also in place of the fireplace, we added a new kitchen island.


Sorry for the clutter!  Had I known I'd be a blogger now, I would have tidied up for you all!  :)  The cabinets are solid alder.  I've since learned that you do not...and I mean do NOT, paint solid wood cabinets white (which was my original intent, before I knew we were choosing real wood).  However, I think these cabinets are nice and warm.


Countertops were HUGE!  These are granite and a nice neutral color.  You'll notice the cut-out on the island...that's where the new oven/stove is going. 


The backsplash was fun to pick out...I wanted to do something a little different, yet still neutral.  These actually came in a square format, but we cut them in half to make them more linear.


Since we went with a lighter cabinet color, I knew I wanted to go with a contrasting wood floor--we thought about tile but that would be too cold up here in the mountains.  This flooring is actually a laminate made to look like it's hand scraped wood.  I don't know if this photo does it much justice, but it's very sturdy (especially for our cat and dog nails) and with the individual grooves, it looks very authentic.

SOOO here is the final product...well, as it is today:


Here she is as a whole!


Can you believe this is the same thing as this???

Here's from the other side:


The kitchen hutch on the opposite wall was a find on Craigslist...I think it finishes the space off well and gives us much needed extra storage.  How cute are the wine bottle nooks?


Here's a close up.  We may paint it one day...thoughts?


We were able to get a new stainless steel dishwasher and oven/stove.


Instead of having a box of dog treats out all the time, I thought it would be fun to put them in this cute jar...from Pier One.  The bamboo utensil holder was a wedding gift from Crate & Barrel.


The oven was a tricky purchase because it sits in the middle of the kitchen island.  We couldn't get a traditional stand-alone stove, since most of these have the part that pops up on the back of the stove that displays the time/settings/etc.  We could not get a stove and oven separately...because where would we put them?  And we did not want to obstruct the view with a giant hood for ventilation.  So we found this flat stove/oven combo from Kenmore and bought the ventilation unit separately.  You can see a little sliver of silver behind the stove.  You push a button and up it pops!  Pretty cool!


In the back corner I keep all my cookbooks and favorite kitchen appliance...the KitchenAid Mixer!!!


I LOVE the sink...the single basin is amazing...you can fit anything in there and washing pots and pans has never been easier.  And a fun "modern" piece we added was the faucet!  I'm don't have too many modern accents in our home...though I love it aesthetically, so I thought this would be a fun touch!  I love how it almost looks industrial.


This is where we extended the wall.  We still have yet to replace the refrigerator (you KNOW I'll post about it when we do!) and unfortunately, when we moved this bad boy into the house, it got scraped down the side.  So I did what any practical housewife would do, and covered it up!  :)  It's kind of become a display area for cards, calendars, save-the-dates, and grocery lists.  It works for now, but I will be happy to clean it up once we get the new fridge.


Here's the full view one last time!  You'll notice on the upper left corner the new skylight.  These pictures are taken at night, but it really does let in a TON of light during the day.  So glad we were able to take what was once a huge dark fireplace and turn it into a nice open place for light to come through.  

I must say, it was an awarding process to see the whole thing come together and I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  We love cooking and entertaining and this kitchen really makes it easy!

Hope you enjoyed the transformation!

xo natasha

Linked to: Flaunt it Friday

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hunt for the Perfect Black Handbag

There are many few things I will spend a lot of money on...and handbags are one of those things.  Quality is very important to me in a purse...after all, you carry it all day-everyday with you and it holds precious cargo (one of my biggest fears is losing my wallet or car keys-such a pain!).  It's one of those few items that I hold on to and will last a long time, if classic and well-made.  So though many of these handbags are WAY out of my league, I can't help but share them with you and dream...maybe one day...!


UMMMM I L-O-V-E this YSL bag.  It is so beyond beautiful in person and very unique...it's flat and large and sleek and perfect.  However, this item is definitely sold out and DEFINITELY way waaaaaay out of my price range.  But I still love it.  Sighhhhhh...


This Alexander Wang bag has been bookmarked for awhile now...I think it's simple yet classic with a little twist...check out the bottom:


How cool is that?  But again, this baby is just a bit (ok WAY) out of my league price-wise.  Yet, I will continue to watch and see...maybe some fabulous sale will come along!?


Halston Heritage  makes this bag, and although it looks like a clutch...it's actually quite large and versatile (see link for details).  It's definitely different and fun, right?  Though probably not the most practical handbag for everyday use.


 Almost as equally as I love the YSL purse, I am quite obsessed with this Tory Burch handbag.  In fact, I have a good story here: I bookmarked this purse a while back and decided to watch and see if it would go on sale.  Well it DID and literally the next day it was gone!!!  So you know the drill...I searched and searched everywhere online, but to no avail.  And of course at this point, I wanted it no matter what the price (it's what happens when you want what you can't have!).  So tonight, I was getting ready to post it and VOILA!  There it is again...and on sale still!  I am this close to buying it and will definitely let you know I do.  I really love Tory Burch and think her quality is top notch.  What do you think readers...should I go for it?

And last but not least, a fun little bag to share:



This Kate Spade clutch is so cute and appropriate for the industry I work in...(which by the way is newspaper...not fashion)!  Very Carrie Bradshaw too...didn't she have a dress like this?  :)

OH and a special shout out to My Obsessions Boutique.  My friend was recently lusting over a Botkier bag, that unfortunately went out of stock.  She searched and found the bag at this website and asked the owner to match the price of the bag that went out of stock...and she did!  Major kudos and good tip: Don't be afraid to ask for the deal!

Hope you enjoyed taking a trip down "La La Lane" with me!  Do any of you have any handbags you're lusting over right now?

 xo natasha

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sephora Beauty Buys

I recently went on a mini Sephora Shopping Spree and bought a couple new beauty treats for myself.  I've tried them out for about a week and thought I'd let you know what I thought.



These promise to replenish your skin and provide a nice glow.  I use them (actually half of one pad) at night after I wash my face.  They do deliver a nice "smoothness" to my skin, but I'll have to wait and see what the long term effects are like.  They are INSANELY popular in the blogger world though...and get rave reviews.  I'm pretty happy with the product so far.

This next product I found in a recent issue of InStyle magazine.  It's the LORAC Oil-Free Luminizer (of course it's oil-free!):


You can add this product into your foundation or dab on your cheekbones on its own.  It adds just the right amount of sheen to wake you up and illuminate your complexion.  I'm still learning how to work with it...I think you really only need a tiny pin drop to apply--which is great for longevity.  It comes in two tones: "pearl" and "gold" but based on the reviews, the pearl is better for far skin, so I went with that choice and love it.

Last, I got a sample Stella McCartney fragrance and was pleasantly surprised:


I've never heard of "Stella" before but it smells amazing!  There are hints of rose, penoies (my favorite flowers!) and an undertone of amber.  It's very feminine but subtle at the same time.  I'm definitely considering buying the bottle for my new perfume, but I have a couple others I'm eying as well!  

Have you tried any of these products lately?  Do you have any favorite new buys?  I'd love to hear!

xo natasha

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Brunch French Toast

The weekends are a good time to make something special for breakfast...or brunch in our case.  I've never been a fan of "traditional" French Toast--it always seemed too rich and dense.  Most recipes call for regular bread, which gets saturated with syrup and powdered sugar.  I love this recipe because we use an actual French bread loaf and cut thick slices...it makes the end product light and fluffy.



  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 12 thick slices French Bread
  • Mixed berries or sliced banana to top
Measure flour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth. 

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat.  We use an electric griddle...it's a miracle worker in the kitchen!

Soak bread slices in mixture until saturated. Cook bread on each side until golden brown. Serve hot and top with your favorite berries.

Now this is another reason to enjoy the weekends!  Bon Appetit!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Master Bath Reno

When we bought this house...it was unlivable...and that's probably an understatement.  The previous owner was a major smoker and hoarder.  The walls were yellow (from the smoke), the appliances were pea green, there was different flooring in every room, and a HUGE brick fireplace in the main living area.  We gutted the entire house down to the studs.  Unfortunately, in the beginning, we didn't know how much work we were actually going to take on.  So sadly...I have very few "before" pictures to share.  

Below is the transformation of our master bath.  There are many more rooms to follow, but this is the start:









And here's the finished product:






 We turned the bath/shower into a walk-in shower with a bench.  The glass enclosure really opens up the space and is much more functional for us.  We used white subway tiles for the counter tops and beige 13x13 tiles for the floors and shower wall.  The wood cabinets are alder with a natural stain which gives a little warmth to the space.  We found the lighting fixture and bamboo curtains at Lowes...both at great prices!  The floor mats are from Target...I think it adds a nice touch of color, since everything else is very neutral.

We think it's a vast improvement from before.  Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!

xo natasha
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