1 Cakes & Louie: April 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pinterest Fail

I had one of those weekends where I had super high hopes for all of the fun projects I was going to do and recipes I was going to make. In the end, all of the errand running for said projects took way longer than I had anticipated, and with a nap, dinner with friends, a backyard campfire and a little shopping sprinkled in there (you know, the stuff weekends are actually for) I ended up barely getting anything done. For the most part, I'm not complaining.

What I am bummed about though is a flat out Pinterest fail. I've been seeing DIY roller blinds all over the place on my favorite inspiration site, and was extra excited to make one for the kitchen to bring some fun pattern into the space and get rid of the nasty old plastic mini-blind that was there collecting dust.

Awesome inspiration, right? And when I checked out several tutorials it couldn't have sounded more simple - get a cheap roller blind at the store, glue your fabric to it and viola! Seriously - it should have been the easiest thing in the world.

So I got out the iron and made sure my fabric was good and uncreased. I cut it down to size. I had the hubs install the brackets on the window. I glued the edges of the fabric to the blind and even used spray adhesive for a little extra enforcement across the whole thing. I let it dry, we tried to roll it up, and it wrinkled and came undone and basically just looked like crap. Fail #1.

Still determined, we took the entire thing apart and decided to remove the plastic from the blind all together and glue our fabric straight to the roller so we eliminated the whole 2-layer ordeal. This time, we decided to let it dry overnight to be extra safe, and I was anxious to try it all out this morning. I made poor Dan get out of bed to help, and while it rolled up just fine, the fabric is thicker than the original plastic of the blind and once it all rolls up it's too "fat" at the top to fit into the brackets on the window. Fail #2.

I went back through a few tutorials trying to figure out what on earth I could have done wrong in all of this only to find out that most everyone that makes these blinds don't make them with the intention of ever actually using them. They install them closed (or half-closed) on their windows and leave it at that - the "roller" part of the whole project is essentially useless, since they just leave them on their windows as-is. Considering we want to actually be able to use our blind (we especially need to roll it up when we're cooking something that may splatter as the window is right next to the stove)... Fail #3.

So I'm back to the drawing board on figuring this one out. If anyone has any brilliant ideas for me, please do share them. Otherwise, you can find me trying to salvage enough of the fabric that I can use it for something else, and whining about my $20 loss and current lack of a window treatment in the kitchen.

Friday, April 26, 2013


I try really hard to be totally honest on this blog, and not just post about awesome days and pretty pictures (I'd have to learn how to use my camera to do that anyways) ;). So, in the spirit of full disclosure today, I've got to admit I'm kind of in a funk and feeling good and UNinspired lately. I blame the dreary weather lately, the fact that I have totally fallen off of my gym bandwagon (it starts again tomorrow for a morning kickboxing class - no excuses), and being extra busy at work. I'm excited that this weekend is calling for some sun and slightly warmer temperatures and we don't have much planned so we can just relax, get some fresh air and maybe throw a pizza on the grill. I'll be back to my peppy self in no time, but thanks for reading along regardless of today being a little bit off.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Telling Time

I have a rose gold Fossil watch that has served me well for a few years now, but the links by the underside of my wrist have seen better days and are getting more and more tarnished. And, I'm loving the look of a leather strap on a watch lately. Here's a few I'm drawn to, although I've admittedly never seen any of them in person. They're a step up in sophistication from my current watch, and seem to be more classy in general.

I really love the skinny strap of the Michael Kors one on the left. Which do you like?

1  /  2  /  3

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For the Love of: Ikea

When I found out they were opening an Ikea just blocks from my father-in-law's house back when the hubby and I first started dating, I freaked out. Ikea is without a doubt my very favorite place for affordable home goods and furniture, and their ever-changing merchandise makes it easy to drop in and grab a few small items to spruce up the house without breaking the bank. 

I stopped in for lightbulbs Saturday evening after visiting with my adorable nieces and of course ended up grabbing a few other small things once I realized there were a ton of bright and summery items out on the shelves. I'm pumped to have some new COLOR around the house as the weather warms up!

The plastic wine glasses are already sitting out on the front porch ready for game nights, and the minty green tray took it's place on the dining room table. I have a serious infatuation with straws and these colorful ones are extra wide and perfect for smoothies. And the flamingo glasses?!? No way I was passing those up for 99 cents each!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Change of Plans

I wrote some excited posts last month about a family trip to Vegas, and the couple of days in the Grand Canyon that Dan and I were planning at the front end of the vacation. Well, thanks to jobs and being real adults and all that, not everyone was able to make the trip in the end, and we decided to also not go once we heard that. BUT, since we already had the vacation time approved at our jobs, and we had the money set aside for a vacation anyways, and I'm dying to say I've left the country, AND we never really went on a real honeymoon after our wedding... the hubs and I got crazy and booked a trip to Mexico!

We found a fantastic deal on Groupon for a hotel that gets rave reviews, and booked our flights early enough that they weren't too bad. In fact, having to get my passport expedited since I just applied for it a few days ago cost nearly as much as our entire 5-night hotel reservation, which was a little ridiculous, but I'm not complaining. We've got plans to lay on the beach, check out some Mayan ruins, spend some time out on the town and potentially indulge in a couple's massage. After a long winter and the mediocre "spring" weather we've been having here in Chicago, I cannot wait for a little taste of summer heat.

I'm home sick today with a terrible cold, which I've decided to blame on the 2 straight weeks of rain that finally ended over the weekend. I'm hoping the fact that I'm sick now means I will be 110% healthy for our trip, seeing as I haven't had the best luck with that so far this year.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Best Friend's Wedding... Invitations

Eek! We finished up Bridget and Aris' wedding invitations last week and now that we know they've gone through the mail to guests I'm extra excited to share them here!

I've mentioned before how calm and collected Bridget has been as a bride, and these invitations were no exception. I put together ONE design on a whim when I was home sick with the flu, and she totally loved it and said "let's go with it" the next day. Easiest design client EVER. And, when there were a couple of setbacks during printing I was probably more of a bridezilla than Bridget ever was through the whole process, so props to her for keeping the cool all along! 

I wanted the invitations to reflect how I feel about Bridget and Aris and how I see them as a couple - they're fun and laid-back, but also really kind of stylish and put together and classy. So I did things like use a super pretty font to say quirky things like "Best Day Ever" on the main card and "Gorgeous bride, handsome groom, and lots of delicious beer" on the RSVP. Overall, I had a ton of fun with this project.

The "something old, something new, something borrowed, something brewed" on the hang tag was Bridget's idea, and I think we both agree that these punched-out pieces were the perfect finishing touch to the whole suite.

Since guests only get one invitation in the mail nobody will really know that we used lots of different patterned paper for the thick belly bands, but that is hands down my favorite part of the whole invitation. We were originally going to use solid ash gray sheets for the belly bands to match the envelopes and I am SO glad we came up with the idea to use scrapbook sheets in varying patterns instead. It keeps the overall feel of the invitations bright and fun. The patterns will carry through in Bridget's reception decorations in several ways, and I'm brainstorming how to incorporate them into the programs I'm designing as well. 

Without wanting to share all of the details of the big day on the internet for everyone to see, here's one shot of the whole suite. The four small cards and a matching RSVP envelope were all stacked behind the main piece and held together with the belly band.

I couldn't be happier with how the invitations turned out, and I hope Bridget, Aris and their families are as excited about them as I am!

Lay it all out there: Body Image

Welcome to the latest "series" on my blog - Lay it all out there. Anyone that knows me knows I've got a whole lot to say about a whole lot of things... and what better place to get it all off my chest than on my blog? This post lacks fun pictures and has some swearing. Consider yourself warned.

If you're on Facebook, chances are you've already seen the latest Dove Real Beauty campaign, which popped up in my newsfeed a solid 2 dozen times yesterday alone as women around the globe shared it with their networks. The "Real Beauty Sketches" social experiment takes normal women and has them describe themselves to a trained sketch artist, who draws them based on their own details of their hair, their nose, their chin. Later, someone else describes the same woman to the same artist, and he draws them again based on a total stranger's detailed account. Essentially, the women are able to see with side by side sketches that others see them as much more beautiful than they see themselves.

In other words - we're too damn hard on ourselves as women.

Just a little while after I watched the Dove campaign, I stumbled on a blog that I cannot believe I hadn't heard of sooner - Brittany, Herself. People - this chick is HYSTERICAL. Seriously. I could not stop giggling at, um, pretty much everything she says. She's witty and sarcastic and crude, and she swears like a sailor. Major girl crush alert over here.

What's important about me finding Brittany's site though, is that the post I saw was about body image, confidence and feeling good about yourself as a woman in general. From what I've read so far, it sounds like Brittany has struggled a bit with her weight and being 30-something... but as she's getting older she's starting to realize (like me and I assume lots of other women our age) that IT DOESN'T (fucking) MATTER. The things that I've been self-conscious about for as long as I can remember do NOT make me who I am. My acne and my ridiculously small boobs and my glasses and my big front teeth and my lack of curves in general do NOT define me. The asswipe that called me "board chest" straight through my freshman year of high school does NOT deserve to impact the way I feel about myself. The built-like-a-linebacker girl that picked on me because I was pint-sized and scrawny is NOT worth the fear I still feel when I see her out at a restaurant.

But why have these things been such an issue for so long with women? Brittany puts it perfectly:

"...I don't give a fuck what you think about my body. Keep it to yourself, or don't, if that's what you need. If in your mind you need me to feel about myself the way you feel about yourself, because that makes it hurt less, so be it.... it's girls and women who are better crafted for emotional terrorism. Slicing away at the achilles until our victims are left feeling completely devoid of value and unfit for love, friendship, or in extreme cases, air. And them something catastrophic occurs and we all sit around shaking our heads wondering, how did this happen? How did we get here? This is how. Knock it the fuck off."

In other words - we as women, as a species, WE are the reason we are all so damn self-conscious about every. little. part. of our bodies. We spend so much time criticizing ourselves and every other person around us that everything turns into a competition, a game, a way to knock someone else down so we feel better ourselves. And that, my friends, is so incredibly not worth it.

There's a popular Tina Fey quote that goes like this:

"Every girl is expected to have caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish lets, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old-boy, the arms of Michelle Obama and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes. Everyone else is struggling."

Well then. It's been ingrained in all of our heads for so long that there is this standard of beauty that we have to live up to, and really, it's freaking impossible so let's just get over it, shall we?

I'll be the first to admit I have a long way to go in this battle both with the way I see myself and the way I see others. I roll my eyes and disagree 9 times out of 10 when the hubs says something sweet about how I look, and I've got a mean bitchy streak that is chock full of snarky comments about other women that I don't like that often revolve around saying something mean about their body thanks to all of the people I grew up with that gave me hell about my body image. But that's not what it's about, is it? A woman's weight or hair or clothes aren't why I don't like them. It's their attitudes and actions. And chances are that at least some of the time, the attitudes or actions of the women I don't like are a result of them being insulted by some other woman at some other point in their life so they got all defensive and developed their own bitchy streak... and it is a ridiculous and disgusting vicious cycle that we have GOT to break.

Obviously, it's up to us as individual women to make a pledge to ourselves to pull a Brittany and decide that we don't care what others think about our bodies anymore and make an effort to stop slamming other women in the meantime. So, consider this my public declaration that I'm over it, and I'm working on making a change. It'll take time and major effort, but I think with women like Brittany and Tina Fey and companies like Dove guiding us and reminding us that there is a better way... it's possible.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The 4 C's

How was your weekend? We did lots of celebrating for the hubby's birthday Friday and Saturday, and I did a little shopping with my mom and Manda at an outdoor mall yesterday which was perfect since it was a gorgeous 68 degrees out. In between all the fun, Dan rented a "rug doctor" thanks to an accident by Louie in the living room, and we ended up on a bit of a floor cleaning frenzy that ended with me mopping half the house and scrubbing the bathroom grout with a toothbrush late last night. Nothing like a little puppy mishap to get the cleaning gears going I suppose.

I mixed up the format for my "Thanks to Pinterest" post for this week and structured it into "4 C's" - cooking, cleaning, clarity and crafting.

Cooking. I am determined to succeed at making a poached egg, thanks to a recent brunch I had with my aunt, uncle and cousin where I pigged out on poached eggs over corned beef hash. SO GOOD.

Crafting. As I figure out plans for the front porch, I continue to go back and forth on wanting a "real" couch and wanting to make one out of pallets. If I can track down some free pallets, this will obviously be the route I go. And how fun would it be to make cushions in any fabric I want?!

Clarity. I needed this little reminder this weekend.

Cleaning. I'm on a decluttering spree and told the hubs I'd like to tackle one room a night and just minimize the incredible amount of stuff we seem to have accumulated. We're planning a big garage sale in the coming weeks and I'm anxious to unload a ton of the clutter that's currently taking up huge chunks of the porch, office and basement. First up on my list is the office, which I'd love to get as bright and organized as this image.

What do you have planned for this week? Anyone else in the middle of a cleaning frenzy?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sap Alert

Dear Dan,
Thank you for always loving me, making me laugh, keeping me sane and genuinely being my better half. I am so blessed that God brought us together, and so grateful that you waited around for me to realize you were exactly what I wanted and needed. I love you more every day and can't wait to see what else is in store for us together. Happy Birthday, Cakes!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Alright. I know the whole "April showers bring May flowers" thing is a saying and all that, but come on Chicago. It has been raining for 4 days now, and Saturday is calling for snow flurries. SNOW! In April! I'm over it. And seeing as I can barely pull myself together on a regular day with gorgeous weather, it comes as no surprise that I have referred to myself as a hot mess at least a dozen times this week in apology to everyone around me.

The good news is that the week is almost over, and with the hubby's birthday being tomorrow we have some fun plans in store. But first!! A little sneak peek of something I'm super proud of and insanely giddy about - Bridget's wedding invitations! We got the first half all done and ready to mail out last night, and considering I genuinely like them more than the invitations from my own wedding, saying I'm excited about these is an understatement. I'll post a full recap of them once we know they've all gone through the mail to guests. Until then, feel free to swoon over all the fun patterns together like I've been doing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If I had a Million Dollars: Front Porch Dreaming

We have a really great enclosed front porch at our house that's flooded with natural light thanks to walls full of windows. I literally have dreams about having friends over to play a board game with snacks and drinks out on the porch, but I've never managed to get the space set up properly for that. This is largely due to the fact that since it's not an all-season space and we really haven't used it much in the years we've been there, we haven't wanted to put any real money into furnishing it. It's been a hodge-podge of garage sale and craigslist finds for years, and currently even houses a tufted leather couch that I dragged home from the alley down the block (I assure you Dan was super thrilled with that adventure). Well, the couch really does belong in the alley, there's too many random end tables and ottomans out there, and our pile of board games doesn't have a real home. I'm determined to get the room in a better place this spring... likely again without spending much money at all. BUT! If money were no object, I'd snatch up this whole little getup in a split second and make the space all homey and amazing. Behold, my cozy dream front porch, all from my heaven on earth happy place - Target.

lamp  |  mirror  |  settee  |  pillow  |  curtains  |  vase  |  gold elephant  |  end table

With nearly every single one of these pieces on sale, this whole makeover really wouldn't be all that bad. That being said, while I may pick up a couple of the small decorative accents, I likely won't splurge on any of the bigger items (truth be told, there's not even electricity on the porch for a lamp anyways, but I can dream). I'll be sure to post photos as I transform the space over the coming months!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Giant Jenga

So, this happened this weekend. (And I of course only had my iPhone out to document it.)

That's right. The hubby (and Jamie) made a giant Jenga set, which we enjoyed in the garage with friends, sliders with brie and bacon, and drinks in mason jars. Best way ever to spend a Spring Saturday evening? I think so.

I don't have a real tutorial for this because it was insanely simple, but if you're looking to make your own set that's about the size of a 3rd grader... here's a quick rundown on how to tackle it:

- Go to Home Depot and buy six 2x4x8' boards
- Ask the handy guys at Home Depot with the giant wall-saw to cut the boards to 10.5 inch pieces for you. They will do this for FREE.
- Take your 54 cut pieces of wood home, and give them a quick sanding with a block (or skip this step for now if you're like us and you're super excited to just play the game)
- Stack the pieces up just like a Jenga game on a flat surface - 3 to a row, alternating rows horizontally and vertically.
- Grab some friends and play the coolest game of Jenga ever.

Note: WATCH YOUR TOES. Mine are insanely fragile and break like sticks, so playing this game was a little nerve-racking for me knowing that the tower would eventually fall. Thankfully, nobody was harmed during the making of or playing of this game, and it was an awesomely fun time.

How was your weekend?

Friday, April 5, 2013


Happy Friday friends! If you stop by often, you may have noticed I've made some changes around here on the blog lately. There's my awesomely simple new header, social media buttons (finally!), a slideshow of my instagram feed, a blogroll with some of my favorites for you to peruse, and a couple of pages (about me, home tour, my wedding, etc) that I'm excited to add content to over the coming weeks! A big thanks goes out to my work pal Mary Elisa of DIY-ish for sending me the social media button code, as all of the online tutorials I found for adding them were complicated and confusing.

Why all of the changes? Well for one, I've really enjoyed this little blog of mine, and I figured it was about time I show it some love and get it all pretty-fied. But truth be told, last week I got hit with a bunch of super negative comments on random posts that had me pretty worked up for a hot minute. I was being personally insulted and attacked on my blog. My blog that always has been (and always will be) an outlet for me to write about my life, my surroundings, my inspirations. While some of the comments were simple "I don't like that" type things, others were direct digs at myself, my friends and my husband. And for no good reason at all. Not cool. I realized that no matter how fun and laid-back I try to keep my blog and myself, there's always going to be someone out there with nothing better to do but try to hold me down or set me back. Unfortunately for those people though, I don't work that way. I don't let petty people or petty things stop me. Sure, I did plenty of venting about the comments to my best friends and the hubs. Who wouldn't? But then you know what I else I did? I made my blog look better. I made a list of fun posts I'd like to write in the coming weeks. I got more active on twitter and made a couple of new blogging friends in a matter of days just by saying hi. I emailed back and forth with one of those new friends and swapped blogging tips and tricks. I did what I've always wanted to do with this blog, and that was to make it a priority - all while staying 100% true to myself. And then just as I finished editing this post yesterday I got a random email from someone that contributed at The Everygirl with me way back when, thanking me for the pick-me-up my blog gave her with it's cheerful and positive vibe. If that's not a sign that I'm doing exactly what I set out to do with this, then I'm not sure what is.

Among all of the other changes I made, I also learned a thing or two about Google Analytics and installed a traffic tracking tool that provides me with stats for every visitor that comes to my page. Including the total party pooper that left all the negative comments. And to that person I say this - from the amount of time you've spent on my blog I'm sure you've realized that there's not a whole lot of people that actually read it. So, I thank you for spending such a huge chunk of your free time reading what I have to say, regardless of the fact that you clearly don't like me, my style, my friends or my new shoes. If you haven't figured it out by now, I will continue to write this blog regardless of what you think of it. In a day and age where kids are being bullied left and right for no good reason and suicide rates from ridicule and teasing are constantly rising, I see no reason for pointless negativity, and I feel pity for anyone who finds it necessary to to act in such a way. You are in my prayers.

So all of that being said, I hope ALL of you reading like the little changes around here, and I hope you'll enjoy following along as I work to make my blog bigger and better over the coming months. I have so many great ideas for Cakes & Louie, and I'm excited to have you join me for it! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent a little bit today in an effort to keep it real. Cheers to the weekend!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Take a Hike

As mentioned yesterday, the hubby and I are going to take a little detour to the Grand Canyon for a couple of days before our family Vegas trip. We're definitely not major outdoorsy people or anything, so I'm expecting a couple of short hikes and lots of sightseeing and picture taking while we're at the Grand Canyon. I would REALLY love to catch a sunrise or sunset as well, which I'm fairly certain would be completely and totally breathtaking.

Since we won't be taking any of the super long or difficult hikes, I think our "essentials" are pretty basic. Lots of water, comfy clothes and a simple first aid kit for when I inevitably trip and fall on a stray stick or rock. :)

Clockwise from top left:
GapFit Zip-up Hoodie (these are ALWAYS at the Outlet for half the price)  |  Oil-free Sunscreen  |  Camelbak Hydration Pack (I just saw a similar version at Costco for $29.99!)  |  J&J Travel First Aid Kit  |  lululemon No Slip Headband  |  Champion Running Tank  |  Champion Shorts

Am I missing anything? Any recommendations for which hikes to take in the Grand Canyon? I found a great PDF guide on their website with tons of options, but we're starting from scratch as we've never been there so any advice anyone has would be great!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vegas, Baby

It's official. We're going to Vegas!!! I've been saying I wanted to go to Vegas since I was 21, and I've been trying to talk Dan into it since we met, so needless to say - I am SUPER excited about this trip. Our sister in law wanted to go for her golden birthday this May, and somehow, someway, everything came together and everyone is able to go! I've got big plans to soak up some sun, take in a couple of shows with my awesome father in law, try a few top restaurants and see if I have absolutely any luck with a little gambling. I. Can't. Wait.

Considering I usually make it to a pool or lake an average of two times a year, I don't really have a really great swimsuit, and since I work inside all day my breezy summer wardrobe is minimal. I do have some great pieces that I snatched on clearance at the end of the season last year, but I'm definitely looking to grab the perfect sun hat and perhaps for the first time ever, I am genuinely excited about swimsuit shopping!

Here's my little Vegas inspiration board -

Clockwise from top left:
Forever 21 sun hat  |  Coach sunglasses (mine are prescription - some of the best money I've ever spent on myself)  |  Forever 21 sheer maxi  |  bareMinerals sunscreen  |  Target Mossimo thong sandals  |  Victoria's Secret mix & match bikini  |  We Hope You Like This Song book  |  Maybelline Baby Lips SPF 20  |  Coach clutch (similar)

And, spoiler alert - The hubs and I will be spending a couple of days in the Grand Canyon just the two of us at the front end of our trip as well! I'm honestly even more excited about that than I am about Vegas. I've wanted to go to the Grand Canyon since I was a kid, and I'm giddy just thinking about seeing it all with my own eyes and not just in photos online. Since necessities for long hikes are a little different than floating around in a pool or taking in the Vegas strip at night, I'll be back with another little roundup for the Grand Canyon tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


There's a growing population of fashionable bloggers that instagram, tweet and blog their "outfit of the day" (#OOTD) each day, and while I love looking at them, I am definitely not one of those girls. I couldn't imagine standing outside on the sidewalk trying to come up with new poses to do while the hubby takes photos of me so I can share my outfit with everyone. And let's be honest, I am not stylish and 98% of my wardrobe is from Gap, Old Navy and Forever 21 so nobody is looking to draw inspiration from my outfits to begin with. But today when I got outside and had my spring jacket on for the first time this year I decided to snap a quick shot with my phone in the sun. And this, my friends, is probably the closest I will ever get to an #OOTD photo :)

Monday, April 1, 2013


Happy April, all! I've decided this will be my motto for the month - just be happy. Spring weather is close by, the days are getting longer, I'm making an attempt at morning workouts to kick off each day with some calorie-burning and lots of energy, we have a brand spanking new BBQ grill for simple dinners at home together, we're *this* close to booking our vacation for May and the hubby's birthday celebration is already looking like it's going to be a great time. It's going to be a fantastic month.

And this is for my sister: