Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is It Wrong That I Want My Neighbors To Go Away?

In the summer I'm a neighbor with benefits.  When our friends go away, we reap their garden's bounty.

One neighbor subscribes to an organic farm delivery for the year.  She went on vacation and asked me to "do her a favor"--pick up her organic fresh-from-the-farm delivery of fruits and veggies for this week.  Sure, that's the kind of favor I like to do :)

We got these peaches, a bag of green beans, a melon, and some squash. Yum!

Our next door neighbors have this amazing fig tree.

They told us to go ahead and eat as many figs as we want -- they'll be out of town when they're ripe. This tree produces the most delicious fruit! Sure, we can do that if it'll help :)

Another neighbor has a flower bed with the tallest healthiest zinnias I've ever seen.  She asked me to cut as many flowers, as often as I want.  The more you cut zinnias, the more they bloom.  Sure, I don't mind having happy pink zinnias in my house. Especially if it'll help keep the plants healthy:)

And finally, yesterday I got this beauty from my parents house.  My brother and I debated over who was more worthy--he ended up picking it and giving it to Drew as we were leaving. Nothing says summer for me like a homegrown tomato.  I can't wait to eat it!!

As much as I like my neighbors, I can't help smiling when they tell me they're taking a little trip in the summer.  Is that so wrong?.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One of a kind jewelry

I found all these cool cuffs and vintage circle necklaces on Sunday at the Georgetown flea market.

The vendor had cleared out an old jewelry store.  I think these were in the storage since the 70's :)

I thought the cuffs would be great to use as the base for these gemstone bracelets.

and the circle necklaces are perfect to use with chunky stones and vintage finds (like this starburst pin I made into a pendant). 

I have some great colored agate that I'll be making into more pendants. So earthy and organic!

And since I got these bracelets and necklaces at the flea market, they are really affordable!

Check out my new Facebook page Julie LoRusso Jewelry to see some jewelry designs and pricing.  I'll be posting my designs as I complete them.

Note: most of my designs are one-of-a-kind so if you see something you like contact me right away. I also do custom designs, so just let me know what you're looking for.

Monday, July 19, 2010

An old fashioned birthday party

Saturday was the big day for Drew.  After months of patiently waiting to turn five he had his big pirate birthday party.

Drew loves the planning process just as much as the party, so we've been shopping and planning all the elements for several weeks now.

He helped in the kitchen 

He helped with the crafts.
We had personalized wooden treasure chest for the kids to decorate.

Is there anything more fun than making a HUGE mess?....

He helped set up the activities.
Gator golf, digging for treasure (money) in the sandbox, walking the plank (board over a baby pool filled with rubber snakes)

Treasure hunt - my niece read the clues

Everyone got into the action
The pirates found their booty (a pinata)

I did a little face painting too.

We had a popcorn and lemonade station set up outside. The kids loved that they could serve themselves lemonade.

And he had a lot of opinions about the cake.  The cake didn't really turn out the way we hoped.  It was a layer of cake, then rainbow ice cream, then Oreo cookies then cake again. I ended up decorating the top while the kids were eating lunch, so it was pretty simple design. Oh well, it tasted good!

The party favors we made were a huge hit!

Overall, the party was great.  Drew was my assistant and loved every minute of it from planning to implementation.

We didn't spend a lot of money on this party, it was more of an investment of time and love.  I think it's so worth while, because he truly appreciates it. At the end of the day, as we were eating our dinner he very seriously looked up at Matt and me and said, "Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you.  Thank you so much for giving me such a nice party today."  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who's Having A Birthday This Week?

Summer time is birthday season in my family.  I like to bake, and so every year I try something new with Drew's birthday cake. 

 Last year was the first time we actually had a birthday party for him.

We rented an inflatable water slide.  It was a blast!

I had been wanting to try making a fondant cake and Drew wanted an animal theme for his party.  So, being the zebra lover I am, I did a zebra stripe fondant cake.  Unfortunately it is virtually impossible to make fondant black. So, after several failed attempts, I went with blue.

It was a big cake, and a huge hit.  The secret to my success was that I made the fondant out of marshmallows instead of the traditional fondant recipe.  I found the recipe and the "how to" online .

It was so easy to make, and tasted really good. No one peeled the fondant off this cake and there were no leftovers.

A couple weeks ago my nephew turned 7.  He is really into our local hockey team and so he had a hockey-themed party.
My sister holding the finished hockey cake

I got the cake-911 call from my sister the day before the party. The cake was crumbling and she needed some moral support and assistance in the assembly of the cake.

I rushed over.

With an extra set of hands and some creativity we were able to put the crumbling cake back together and hold it all in place with the marshmallow fondant.

It turned out really cute.

Saturday we're having Drew's birthday party.  This year we're going to do a good 'ole fashioned pirate party. Complete with pin the tail on the donkey, a treasure hunt, party hats, etc.  He has asked for the the cake to be an ice-cream cake with a skull painted on top.  I pulled out the ice-cream maker this week to get warmed up on making ice cream.  I know I can do it.  I don't think it will be as exciting as my blue zebra cake though :)

I'll have pictures of the party and the cake next week.

If you want to try making MM Fondant here is the recipe.

Recipe for Marshmallow Fondant

16 ounces white mini-marshmallows (use a good quality brand)

2 to 5 tablespoons water

2 pounds icing sugar

1/2 cup Crisco shortening (optional)

Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave. Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 1/2 minutes total. Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix.

Now grease your hands w/ Crisco OR pour a lot of powdered sugar on the "dough".
Start kneading like you would bread dough. It usually takes me about 8 minutes to get a firm smooth elastic ball so that it will stretch without tearing when you apply it to the cake.
It is best if you can let it sit, double wrapped, overnight (but you can use it right away if there are no tiny bits of dry powdered sugar). If you do see them, you will need to knead and maybe add a few more drops of water.  

Prepare the fondant icing for storing by coating it with a good layer of Crisco shortening, wrap in a plastic-type wrap product and then put it in a re-sealable or Ziploc bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. 

MM Fondant icing will hold very well in the refrigerator for weeks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Found It!

I've had this outdoor furniture for probably 14 years. I got it at an estate sale and it's been very good to me. I've been looking for the perfect fabric to recover the seats for a long time, and now I've found it. 

It's a fun green, with a classic design, but not so formal that it will clash with the detail in the iron. I love the birds and of course, the price it right $8 yrd. :) It's Waverly Sun and Shade.   I'm going to attempt to sew the cushions myself.

What really pushed me to head in this direction was the umbrella I got at world market last weekend.

I'm going to keep some of the black and white stripes in the scheme.

(that's a blow up pool in bottom of picture in case you're wondering
It's been so hot here that when we're not at the swimming pool we're in this blow-up pool)

In keeping with my low budget patio, I made this little table. 
Free concrete base with stone on top--Voila!

Today we've got a group of 6 coming in to stay at our "B&B" -- I'm expecting them to knock on the door any minute now. 

Have a great weekend!


Friday, July 2, 2010


We just got back from a wonderful vacation. We went to Cape May, New Jersey and stayed at Congress Hall.

Congress Hall is a beautiful old hotel that was built in the 1800's. It has served as a summer home for a few presidents who called it their "summer white house".

The room doors have an exterior shutter door 

There are rocking chairs everywhere

It was redone in 1995.  The decor is whimsical and classic. There is carrera marble everywhere and the walls are painted in either bright robins egg blue, yellow or pink stripes with black and white accents.



They mix old and new in such a fun way.  The old sofa is painted high gloss black with white vinyl upholstery. 

Concierge desk

Even Drew appreciated the decor--his face lit up when we walked into our room.

Pool umbrellas and towels are pink (I love that!)

Our balcony

It's an upscale hotel without being fussy.

There was a wedding taking place when we arrived

Until three years ago I had never been to the Jersey shore, and frankly I didn't think I would like it very much.  I never really loved going to the beach (I prefer lakes).  The beaches I've been to have always been very commercial, very built up and very crowded and lined with ugly motels.

Cape May is NOT your average beach town. There is so much to see and so much history.  The streets are lined with amazing old victorian homes most are available to rent. 

 The houses have beautiful gardens.  Instead of a seedy boardwalk there is a little town center that has shops and restaurants flanking an extra wide walkway complete with fountains.  After dinner families usually sit around people watching and eating ice cream.

I was having such a nice time I didn't really get very good pictures. But, after spending time at Cape May and Congress Hall, I can now say, I really like the beach! We will be back, so maybe next time I do a better job with photography:)

Have a great 4th of July!