Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wedding Perfection

sparkler send-off + the dress <3
Every Last Detail

Everyone has a different idea of what makes a wedding perfect.  Some envision a big fancy black tie affair, some want a small, quiet ceremony in a meadow, and some would be ticked pink at the idea of an impromptu elopement at City Hall.

For a gal like me who has probably spent a bazillion hours dreaming about my wedding day, I am looking for a feeling.  Whether it be in a barn, at a vineyard, on the beach, or somewhere far away, I am looking for a high-on-love dizzying happiness with family and friends.  A magical day... and what could be more magical than sparklers and layers of silk chiffon ruffles (Vera Wang gets it right every single time).

I mean, seriously... how awesome is this photo??

Friday, July 27, 2012

I have a crush...

It's true!  I have a total crush on a new interior designer (well new to me) - Emily Clark.  In terms of taste, I think we are kind of soulmates.  I'm not even 100% sure how I stumbled up on her blog, but I swear I can't get anything done around here!  Her home is amazing, and I am totally captivated because her taste and choices are what I aspire to achieve.

Emily A. Clark: Better Homes and Garden's Living Room

I have a real appreciation for designers who take some chances with color and pattern.  I love the contrast of the dusty navy wall against the white curtains and fireplace, and I love how it compliments the rug, and ties the whole room together.  It has been several months since we got our new dark grey trellis rug, and I've struggled to find accessories to go with it.  Do the throw pillows compliment or take away from the pattern on the rug?  Is it too much pattern?  Too much grey??  Too geometric?  These questions and doubts about decisions I've made keep me wondering why I'm not totally satisfied with the look of the room.

The conclusion?? The color and pattern of the rug is very strong, and it needs an equally strong counterpart in the room - a complimentary wall of color perhaps - to bring it all together.

Since we may end up moving towards the end of this year / early next year (the story of my adult life is packing up once a year on average), I don't want to put in the time and energy to paint the living room now...  I think... but after seeing her living room (which by the way was featured in Better Homes and Gardens) I had an aha moment, and think I've figured out what we need to do in our next home to bring the room and rug together.

Chiang Mai Dragon print throw pillow: mocha

Can we talk about these pillows??  I am a heartbeat away from immediately placing an order for the Chaing Mai Dragon Print fabric (in mocha) to make some throw pillows for the living room.  It. Is. Love.

Apparently, (and this is news to me) this fabric has made it's way around the design blogosphere, and is very "trendy" (translation: overdone) but since it's the first I've seen of it, I'm pretty sure my less design-y friends won't know or care that I totally jumped on that bandwagon.

**An update here: a single throw pillow cover in this print is looking to be in the $200 range... must find out if I can order this fabric on my own.....

Beautiful home office - love the built in bookshelves with charcoal backing, and the lantern chandelier


Ok... in my future house, I need this office.  That wall of books is making me want to stop downloading books onto my Nook - just so I can start collecting!  I LOVE the contrast of the dark backing with the white shelving and the colorful books.  Also, that lamp was a $70 thrift store find - originally shiny brass - that she spray painted black.  I am green with envy!

And that table - the old, dinged up, antique table with turned legs??  Craigslist.  I've never seen anything that awesome on Craigslist!!  I'd love to hate her for her fabulous taste, and luck in tracking down amazing second hand finds, but I just love her.

The breakfast room in her old house - love the painted wall, the lantern light, and the chartreuse patterned curtains that you get a slight peek of.  Is it totally creepy that I know that this is in her old house?

And at last, the formal living room in her old house (I believe possibly also featured in Better Homes and Gardens).

It's funny - I see things in other people's homes that I never knew I wanted, and suddenly I have to have them - the magic of the internet I suppose.  But those birdcages are awesome, and that zebra pillow is something I must find.  This room has a lot going on, but feels clean and simple at the same time.  I need to learn that, because sometimes I find our home feeling cluttered even if it's not.

Sleepless in Seattle

Hello there, and Happy Weekend again!!  I've been traveling this week for work, and have been trotting around the fabulous town of Seattle.  I've been told it's all doom and gloom, drizzle, and frizzy hair, but every time I am there, it's sunny, warm, and beautiful!

I actually love traveling for work - it's like a mini vacation, and it's free! (Love that)!

Unfortunately for me, I flew in on the same day as Obama - this meant delays at the airport, and gridlock traffic once we finally arrived in Seattle.  I swear, you'd think you were on the 405 in LA at rush hour on a Friday!

After we made it to the office, it was pretty much time to pack it up, and head to the baseball game - Mariners vs. Yankees.  If it's not my SF Giant's playing, I could really care less, but I happen to hate the Yankees, so I spent most of the time when I wasn't stuffing my face with hot-dogs and nachos rooting against NY.

Another fun fact - I've never been to a baseball game at any other stadium than San Francisco's AT&T Park (the one with the big coke bottle slide?)  Anyhoo, the stadium itself was fine, but the suite where we got to watch the game (on the company card of course) was nothing short of amazing!  The food paled in comparison to that of SF, but the chairs were cushy recliner-esque roller chairs.  Not sure that description does them justice, but take my word that they were baller.

In the end, Yankees lost (holllaaaaa) - gotta love a good underdog win!

This city reminds me a bit of San Francisco in some ways - lots of water, great restaurants, and really cute neighborhoods.  Our office is in Queen Anne, and it seems that no matter where I wandered, the Space Needle was never far away.

Alas, I returned to San Francisco and it's cold and foggy.  Awesome.

As if on queue, as I switched on the TV last night, guess what was on... Sleepless in Seattle.  Oh yeah!  You can bet your buttons I watched it and cried.  Seattle, I miss you already!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Happy Weekend!

Kris and I are *hopefully* going to book our last minute trip to Cabo this weekend!  I've been in need of a sunny getaway, and for once Kris has been the one pushing me to book a trip (that NEVER happens).  We are looking at a few different places, but the Hilton in Cabo is off the main strip (read: quiet and romantic) and by the looks of this infinity pool, I think it's going to work out juuusssttt fine :-)

In other news, my sister and her husband just got back from their extended stay in Europe, and on Tuesday my parents fly out to Europe (yep, I'm the odd man left out of the EU this summer) so Saturday will be a Christensen reunion at my parents house.  The weather will be warm, and we are going to BBQ ribs... I can't wait!

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Have your Cake and Eat it Too

Isn't this the funniest, cutest, most awesome dessert plate ever?  Now if only I could find where to buy it...

Cow Hide Rug - Do or Don't?

Dark gray and cream living room
Emily A Clark

I am a city girl at heart - I love to be in nature but I also like to come home to my blow dryer and cozy bed - but while I might be slightly scared of horses, and would never wrangle a cow in a million years, I am really into the idea of a cow hide rug!

I keep seeing cow hides pop up in some really refined, contemporary spaces, and they look really cool - not cowgirl.  I've been drawn to the lighter dyed versions (cow spots are not really my thing), but I've even seen a few with a zebra print on them that looks SO cool.

One time, I told Kris that I loved the look of zebra print, and he gave me his "Who-is-this-crazy-person-and-where-did-my-completely-sane-girlfriend-go" look, but I SWEAR, if done right, zebra print can look classic!  I need to print out this photo from Stephmodo's blog, and put it on the fridge for him to see.  This room is actually a nook off the hallway of a Southern California home, that the family made into a functional office space. Genius!

Cow Hide Rug cow hide rug
Look at how these light cow hide rugs blend into these rooms!  The rest of the decor is relatively simple - clean lines, and not a lot of color.  Aside from the irregular edges on the rugs, nothing about them looks "risky" - the first word that comes to mind when I think about purchasing a cow hide rug.  Maybe simplicity is the best way to ease into it?

Beige cow hide rug
Ok, this room is just awesome, right?  Those icy blue walls with the vibrant yellow Louis XIV chairs?? If I had an office, this is the color scheme I'd want to go with.  It's bright and light all at the same time, and somehow it doesn't feel like too much.  Dare I say it, the rug is the safest choice in this room!

So... this room is very "styled".  I actually hate the ceiling from the sunburst light fixture to the bamboo wallpaper (sorry homeowners), BUT what I do love is how the zebra print cow hide is positioned underneath a glass coffee table (so as not to obscure the pattern), and that when laid lengthwise, it mirrors the symmetry of the two sofa's that are facing one another.  I'll ignore the ceiling, the screens, and the complicated sconces, because the rest of the room is spot on perfection.

I once stayed at a house for a weekend that was decorated with a vibrant orange as the focal color. They had a cow hide rug as well.  Beyond all this, I'd really like to see more of the coffee table.
Create Girl
And... the cow print.  Not my taste, but I'll admit that it brings some much needed life into a totally neutral oatmeal colored room.  This rug also looks a bit furry, which creeps me out a bit too much.  How do you find a rug with minimal "fur" - I really do not want to imagine my rug in it's former life... aka eating grass and chilling on a hill in the sun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DIY - No Sew Throw Pillows

The living room has been getting a gradual face-lift, and while we haven't gone so far as to buy new sofas (a major purchase off my growing apartment wish list), the addition of a new rug, curtains, potted succulents, and some sea fan art have helped re-vamp this room.  The throw pillows on the sofas have been mismatched since we moved in (last November), and while this has bugged me endlessly, I hadn't gotten around to replacing them... until now!

I'd been looking for throw pillows, but since they run anywhere from $30 (on the low end) to $100 (on the high end... well, MY high end) I couldn't commit!  It started feeling like a big purchase, and I didn't want to make the wrong decision.

Finally, one of the mismatched throw pillow covers ripped, and that was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back.  Hallelujah - a good excuse to get some new (matching) pillow covers!  

Since I've been such a commitment-phobe over buying throw pillows, I decided that I'd make them - a pretty aggressive decision since I do not know how to sew - I don't even own a sewing machine.  I thought to myslef, how hard can it be??  Famous last words, right?  Wrong!  If you have a hot iron, you can make a throw pillow - I promise.

Read on for my crafty tutorial!

Step I: Buy Fabric

I am admittedly frugal - always looking for a way to save a few dollars, even though I like nice things.  Interior fabrics that have a good weight AND an attractive pattern can get pricey pretty quickly.  Enter my solution - the shower curtain.

I was at Target, when I stumbled upon this shower curtain - it measures 6'x6' which means I have plenty of fabric to mess up a few times, and at $20, you can't beat it!  This pattern in particular picks up all the colors in the rest of the room - blues, golds, and grays, on a creamy background - just what I was looking for!  I told my best friend that I bought a shower curtain to make pillows and she laughed so hard.  Little did she know what a genius I was... after showing her the finished product, she's not laughing anymore.

Step II: Measure fabric 

Since these pillows are "no sew" there are no zippers.  An envelope pocket on the back makes this work, so this means that for each pillow, you will be cutting out three pieces of fabric. The front panel, and the two back "envelope pocket" panels.  Knowing that my pillow insert measured 20"x20" I wanted to be sure I cut out plenty of fabric to account for the seams.  After messing up my first few pillow covers, I figured out the right measurements to make a tight fit.  I learned the hard way that if the pocket pieces aren't long enough, the fluffy pillow pops out of the pocket (fail) so the key to making this work is having the pocket flaps overlap by at least 8 inches.

  - The front should measure 22"x22"
  - The back pocket panels should measure 22"x17"

(for those of you who know what you are doing, you can probably make the front panel 21"x21")

Step III: cut out all the pieces you'll need

I like to work in assembly line fashion - cut out all the pieces you'll need at once, so you can move on to the next step - it's just faster this way... trust me.

Step IV: Gather your supplies

Once the pieces are cut out, get everything set up to make these pillows.  Make sure your iron is filled with water for the "steam" function.  Plug it in, and get it hot.  Pull out the ironing board, and grab a damp washcloth, and your iron on fusing (aka the glue that holds these pillows together).  I used Singer Regular Hold Iron-on Fusing Web - grabbed it at Target (conveniently located in the same aisle with the ironing boards)

Step V: Assemble

Take a look at these diagrams - it will make it a lot more clear when assembling

Lay the "front" pattern side up, and lay the first envelope flap on top of it pattern side down (patterns should be facing each other.

Measure out the fusing web, and place it between the two panels of fabric.

Take the damp washcloth, place it over the fabric, and press the hot iron for 20-30 seconds.  The combination of the moisture and the heat will make the fusing web melt and bond the fabric.  Do not just try to use the steam from the iron - it's not enough!

At this point, the fusing web should have connected the front panel to the first envelope pocket flap on three sides - see dotted line int he diagram below:

Lay the second panel face side down on the other side, and fuse to the first envelope flap and the pillow front.  The panels will (and should) overlap.  See diagram below:

Once the fusing is done (it takes deceivingly longer than anticipated), let the pillow cool (so the "glue" doesn't come apart) and carefully flip pattern side out.  Put the pillow in, and voila... insta throw pillows - no sewing required... they look pretty good!  Best shower curtain EVER.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Can I Live Here??

dream. home.

But seriously... can I really live here?

From the oversize chandelier, to the exposed brick wall, to the high vaulted cieling, to the black and white contemporary furniture, and tons of light and windows...  I have some serious jealousy looking at this!  Don't get me wrong, I love our little apartment, but sites like Lonny and Pinterest make me green with envy over other people's homes that boast fabulous architectural details.

Normally, my taste is a bit more traditional, and I like to use more color in our home, but the black and white (and shades of grey) in this room are so clean, and bright, and pretty... I can't help myself!  This room takes the staples that I love (clean classic lines on the "core" furniture - sofa, chair, side table) and couples it with some masculine feeling contemporary pieces (the coffee table, graphic pillows, and brick wall).

I've gone out of my comfort zone for this inspiration board, to put together a room that "feels" the same as this inspiration, but is much more in line with the budgets normal people (aka me) would be working with...

Inspiration: Black and White Opulence:

The goal here is to create the same look and feel of this lofty, architecturally stunning room, when the details may not already exist.  Kris and I live in an art deco apartment from the 1930's.  It does not have exposed brick anywhere, no vaulted ceilings, and no arched windows overlooking a courtyard.

Tom Hagga makes some really awesome wallpaper's, and the one I used in the inspiration board has the look of exposed brick.  I'd be really careful when deciding where to roll this paper on the walls.  Keep in mind that from a distance, it looks like brick, but up-close there is zero dimension.  I'd be sparing, using cool paper like this on a small wall, or on a wall with large windows, so that this paper peeks out from the architectural details - as opposed to dominating an entire wall.

For rooms without large expansive windows, Ballard Designs has a huge assortment of floor to ceiling height mirrors that have the look and feel of windows (pretty clever, eh?).  The Amiel Arch Mirror has a lovely dark maple arched frame, and antiqued mirrors that reflect light.  This would be an awesome solution to open up a smaller room.

Aidan Gray Kason side table is pretty much perfection.  I am a sucker for a pretty pedestal, and the weathered wood on this perfection.  For a tenth of the cost, the West Elm.com Turned Pedestal Side Table (made of mango wood) has the same dimensions and would do the trick just as well.

The finishing touches bring the room to life, and add a bit of glamour - with the mercury glass lamp, the pretty chandelier, and the graphic black and white throw pillows.  One note with a chandelier - do not try to hang in the center of a living space if the cieling isn't vaulted.  Opt for a corner over a chair for reading, or over a desk on the room's perimeter.

For some greenery, a fiddle leaf fig always looks well groomed, orchids mean minimal maintenance, and the little black stallion figurine is as sassy as it is inexpensive (I went with black here, but gold would look awesome too).  I took a queue from one of my favorite bloggers who spray paints inexpensive children's toys to display as art - yep, $2 plastic toys become decor.  It's pretty much genius if you ask me.  Check out Cassie's DIY Brass Figurines to see the before, the after, and trust me when I say it looks amazing.

Tom Hagga Exposed Brick Wallpaper (price upon inquiry)
Target White Slipper Chair $199
ZGallerie White Graham Slip-covered Sofa $899
Crate and Barrel Frame Medium Coffee Table $499
Aidan Grey's Kason Wooden Side Table $1200 (West Elm's Turned Pedestal Side table is VERY similar at $199)
Home Depot Chandelier $99
RugsUSA Dark Grey Rug $300 for the 8x10
Ballard Designs Amiel Arch Mirror $699 (each)
Homegoods Mercury Glass Lamp and Shade $40
Horse "Sculpture" DIY (idea from the fabulous Cassie of HiSugerplum)
Black and White Graphic Throw Pillows: Etsy ($30-50 each)
Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant + White Orchid

Happy Monday

paddle board down a river.

Oh, the weekends go so fast, don't they??  Kris and I had a relaxing evening in on Friday - he picked up a few pizzas from my favorite pizzeria, Delfina's, and we watched a scary movie (he watched, I slept through on the sofa)

Saturday afternoon we drove down to Kris' parents house in Atherton, to dog-sit while they are out of town.  We went for a long walk with the pooch, and went out to dinner at the very same restaurant where we had our first date.  It's always fun to remember the early days of dating - it feels like so long ago now.

Sunday, I came back into SF early for the AIDS walk, and afterwards, tired and sore, came home to make some throw pillow covers - no sewing required!  That DIY will come later this week.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, and cheers to a wonderful week!  As my mom says, "we should never complain about Monday mornings; they are the fresh start of a new week - a clean slate."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nutella Pudding

Gluten-free treat with hazelnuts and chocolate

Yeahhh... do I even need to say more?!  Unfortunately, it's not as easy as mixing Nutella with milk and gelatin, but Food52 has a seriously awesome recipe that I REALLLLLY want to try.

Nutella Pudding (Serves 8)
-          1 1/2 cup whole hazelnuts
-          2 cups whole milk
-          1 cup half and half
-          vanilla bean
-          extra-large egg yolks
-          3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
-          1/2 cup sugar
-          large pinch salt
-          3 tablespoons butter

-  Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool. When cool, put in a clean towel and rub vigorously to remove skins (you can also just use your fingers). It's okay if some skin is left on -- you're going to strain later.

-  Chop the cooled hazelnuts to a coarse crumb in a food processor.

-  Make the hazelnut-infused cream: Put the milk and half and half in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add both the bean and seeds to the milk. Add the hazelnuts and heat to scalding over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.

-  In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until thick and pale yellow.

-  In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

-  Strain the milk-hazelnut mixture into the egg yolk mixture, half a cup at a time, whisking after each addition until you've added about a cup and a half. Then strain and whisk in the rest of the milk. Return to the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick and starts to bubble, about 3 minutes.

-  Strain the thickened custard into a clean bowl. Stir in the melted chocolate-butter mixture.

-  Optional, but highly recommended: Scrape the entire pudding into a blender or food processor and process for about 30 seconds, until silky-smooth. I learned this from Dorie Greenspan's pudding recipes, and it really gives the pudding a wonderful lightness.

-  Spoon the pudding into small ramekins or dessert cups, cover with plastic wrap and chill, overnight if possible. 

-  DO NOT eat it unchilled -- right after you make it the flavors will not have blended and will taste a little off.

- -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - --- -- - -- - --- -- - -- - --- -- - -- - --- -- - -- - --- -- - -- - --- -- -

Voila!  Aren't they so pretty with a little sprinkle of shaved chocolate and cocoa powder on top (let's be honest, mine will probably have just a little cocoa powder... shaving bits of chocolate sounds like more work than I'm willing...)

Gluten-free treat with hazelnuts and chocolate

This is a picture of the end result... scraped clean :-)


Gluten-free treat with hazelnuts and chocolate

Breaking Bad - It's Happening!!

Funny Breaking Bad Ecard: The most exciting part of my summer has been sitting around waiting for Breaking Bad to start.

Is anyone obsessed with this show like I am??  Kris and I really got into it though Netflix, and now that we are all caught up, the season premier could not come fast enough!  The season finale was so crazy - for those that follow it, you KNOW what I'm talking about!

After much waiting... the premier is here! (almost) - Sunday night, I know where I'll be... glued to the couch with my honey, bowl of popcorn and probably some wine.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

White Pants, Three Ways

My parents are counting the days until their European adventure, and I could not be more jealous!  They are taking a river cruise up the Danube, starting in Budapest, making their way through Austria, Vienna, and ending in Paris - city of amour (actually, it's the city of lights, but "amour" sounds better).

Of everyone in our family, my mom is the best packer - she packs light, and makes clothing staples work for multiple outfits.  My sister and I take after our father - the ultimate overpacker - but in my defense, I just like having options!

Keeping my mom's "packing light" mantra in mind, I decided to put together three vacation outfits, based on a cute pair of white cropped trousers she just bought!  They are lightweight which is perfect for hot weather, and nothing says "vacation" like white.

- -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -

Boat Lounging:
The weather will be warm (REALLY warm in Budapest and Hungary), but I imagine that it will cool off at night -  especially as they get further north.  Since the boat my parents will be touring on will be relatively small, the nights will likely be spent in conversation over dinner, lounging on the deck with a glass of wine, and watching the twinkling lights of the small towns pass by.  Layers will be perfect, with a cute sleeveless top for the warmer evenings, and a denim jacket and patterned scarf for cooler weather.  During the day, some oversize Jackie O sunglasses will be a must, along with some comfy flat sandals.

             Europe I

Dinner Out
Same pants different look - a white silk blouse with a v-neck and a pretty, drapey bow at the neckline take these pants from casual to dressy.  I am a huge fan of the 'white on white look' - always have been, since I was a little girl - but accessories like a bright bag and coral lipstick bring color to the look.  Dainty gold hoops, and low espadrilles are simple and classic, and who doesn't love a navy blazer with pin-stripe detailing on the cuffs??

                         Europe II

Tall shirt / NW3 cotton jacket, $200 / Givenchy cropped pants / Cole Haan wedge / Radley crossbody handbag, $97 / Carolee LUX gold filled jewelry / Gee Beauty bright lipstick, $27

Serious SightSeeing
This trip isn't just about lounging on a yacht, sipping white wine and taking in the sites - they will also be doing a LOT of walking through the cities, towns and villages along the way.  In addition to these pants, my mom also bought an adorable pair of puma flats - they give the support of a running shoe, but the look of a cute ballet flat. A sleeveless striped top will be cool on warmer days, but a neutral oatmeal colored sweater will be nice for unpredictable weather.  My mom has dark curly hair, so for the humid warm weather a pretty scarf will be nice - once the curls get out of control, she is going to need something to tame them.  Rolling the scarf and tying it as a headband will be practical and pretty.

          Europe III

rag & bone long sleeve silk shirt / Striped shirt / Givenchy cropped capri pants / Puma ballet shoes / Ralph Lauren Collection leather shoulder bag / Vintage scarve / Lancôme bright makeup

Mums: Hate or Love?

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It's funny - everyone has a type of flower that they absolutely despise.  For me it's carnations, which is why it's so funny that Kris came home with a big bunch of pink carnations the other week... it was pretty cute to see him walk through the door all proud that he was being such a sweet thoughtful boyfriend, but I still just hate carnations.  Poor guy.

For my mom, it's mums.  They remind her of funeral flowers, but she thinks carnations are sort of pretty.  I, on the other hand, have no real problem with mums.  They may not be my favorite flower in the world, but since I like to keep fresh flowers around the house, they fit the bill for so many reasons.
     - They are cheap (hellz to the yeah)
     - They last forever (amen sister)
     - They just have a happy sweet look - like the Daisy's fluffier cousin

Yesterday, I picked up two big bunches at the market for $4, and split them up into a few bouquets.  I think the trick to making these dirt cheap flowers look less like a filler flower, and more like the main attraction, is to cut them down, and arrange them in short, tight bouquets.  The one above is sitting on the side table in the living room, and with their lasting power, this will probably still be there for another several weeks.  Can't beat that!!

Right now, the center of each flower has a pretty lime green tint, but the ones that are more open are nearly pure white.  My mom still hates them, but I am kind of loving them!

Am I nuts?

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012


There is nothing like a cupcake at the end of a long day at work to make you feel like all is right in the world...

Happy Humpday!