{create} strawberry cupcakes

Last week was my best friends birthday {hi Val!}. And what's the best way to celebrate birthdays? With cupcakes, of course!
I opted for strawberry cupcakes with strawberry glaze. It always feels like summer is just around the corner , to me, when GOOD strawberries start appearing at our farmers market stands.

These cupcakes were not only delish, but I think captured that perfectly light, summer flavor. Oh, and animal print cupcake holders make everything taste just that much better :).

We were meeting for lunch to celebrate, so these cupcakes were packaged up to go.

How cute are these little Martha Stewart to-go bakery boxes? LOVE. (You can find them here.)

Adding ribbon and a couple flower stems makes this little box worthy of a festive birthday surprise.

Ready to make your own summer-in-a-wrapper Strawberry cupcakes?

Strawberry Cupcakes

  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen whole strawberries (thawed if frozen) 
  • 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 2 large egg whites (room temperature)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a food processor; process until pureed; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, xantham gum and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. Cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Mine were perfectly done at 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing (see below).

Strawberry Cream Cheese Glaze 
adapted from The Cupcake Project 


  • 1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 cup strawberries, mashed up in a food processor
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar

  1. Cream butter and cream cheese.
  2. Mix in the strawberries.
  3. Add the powdered sugar to the taste and consistency you prefer. This glaze will be thin, but will set up in the fridge, after you put it on your cupcakes.


So friends, let's talk cupcakes. What's your favorite flavor? One of my biggest weaknesses is coconut cupcakes. So good!


{inspired} etsy at west elm

Happy Monday friends! Did you all have a great weekend? We ended up at a fun event on Saturday afternoon that I wanted to share with you.

I've been incredibly impressed with West Elm for the past couple seasons because in each catalog they've featured incredibly talented Etsy sellers. It makes me very happy to see a store that can easy be labeled *big box* reach out to, and promote, independent artists. I really wish more stores would take a cue from West Elm on this one. 

It just so happens that Portland has an incredible supply of talented independent artists. When I heard there was going to be a *We Heart Hand Made Art Event* our local West Elm this weekend featuring Portland Etsy artists, I knew I couldn't miss the chance to support my local artists, and check out West Elm's cute summer line. And, there's a chance I drug my husband. :)
I didn't take pictures. I'm really weird about bringing a camera out in public/retail places. Eeps. But, luckily, West Elm had set up a fun photo booth. I'll give you one guess who was holding the control (and it wasn't me!).

So what else was there? A handful of GREAT Portland artists!

My favorite, Rachel Austin, was there. So I got to drool admire her lovely art.

I also discovered a few other new-to-me artists that I love.

Moufelt and her lovely table runners were in attendance.

La Petit Vie was on hand with her line of AMAZING-smelling all natural cleaners and beauty products.
Seriously, I want the entire line.  

I was also completely captivated by Anna Joyce Designs. Her pillows and sweatshirts were so cheery and fun, and I admire anyone who can applique with the quality that she pulled off. Great stuff.

Of course, West Elm has lovely goodies as well. There's a chance this bathmat might have ended up in our bathroom.

So, West Elm has absolutely no idea who I am. But I'm telling you about this event because if there is one happening in your area: GO! Support your local artists! And, have a great Monday evening :).


{renovate} curb appeal, update

It seems like the NW is one of the few places getting sun this week! It's been so lovely, and is the perfect time to update you all on our landscaping. See, this weekend last year, we started working on our front yard landscaping. You know, in an effort to bump up our *curb appeal.*

As a reminder, this is what the house looked like when I started this blog. No curb appeal whatsoever. You can read more about that adventure here and here.

And, here's what it looked like after we finished landscaping last spring. Teeny, tiny (= inexpensive) plants. Have you guys ever noticed how long it takes for plants to grow!? I knew it would take a few years to fill in. And, admittedly I'm an incredibly impatient person. So it's nice to look at photos and see that things are. actually. growing.
Here's what it looks like today. The growth is especially noticeable in the fullness of the Mexican orange plants against the foundation. As you can probably tell, I purposely chose low-maintenance perennials. I really don't want a high maintenance yard. Especially front yard. All my dreams for the backyard revolve around some sort of maintenance, but I tend to forget about the front.

Here's the other side of the front last year. It's incredibly hard to get a good head-on shot of the house because a HUGE plum tree sits in our parking strip, right where I'd need to stand to get a good picture.  (On a side note, I really should post a picture of it here. Chris gave it a *haircut* two years ago, and the poor tree is still trying to recover. It's a pretty funny story.) The side angles are me trying to angle my way around that tree.

And today. I didn't realize until looking at these pictures that our grass looks SO MUCH BETTER this year! The crazy part about that is last year I used fertilizer and this year I've completely neglected the grass. Hmmm. Maybe chemicals aren't all they're cracked up to be?

The part I'm most excited about is that both our trees (the big ticket items!) came back! Above is the dogwood, which still hasn't actually flowered, but seems healthy.

The Japanese maple not only came back, but is also a much more brilliant shade of red this year. LOVE it.

We amazingly only lost one plant over the winter. We had two of the above. One didn't come back. And, this one actually looks nothing like what we planted, but we think it's the same plant coming back. Can you tell how little I know about landscaping?

One of my FAVORITE plants is the gardenia, above. LOVE the smell! We planted two, and I was worried about them at first, but they actually are coming back.

This year, I have a couple holes to deal with. The first is on the side of our house. We weren't sure what to do with it last year. And I'm still not sure this year. But, I want to get it figured out soon because I don't like weeding it!

The second hole is right in front. It's hard to see it when you're looking at it from the front, but when you're walking up to our door, it's completely obvious. 

The problem is that I'm terribly unconfident about landscaping. I know in landscaping it's okay to experiment and even moving things, but I'm terrified I'm going to completely mess it all up.  It's funny because in the house I'm never worried about taking on a project or messing something up. But once I start thinking about plants I get all nervous. Sigh. So, any landscaping lovers out there? Any tips on what I can do with the holes in my yard? 

I hope you all have a GREAT WEEKEND! Thanks for stopping by and saying hi this week! 


{a home in the making} for sale??

Good morning friends! Might I suggest you grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this post? It's a biggie! We've had a lot of things brewing behind the scenes of A Home in the Making, and I thought I'd fill you in with what we've been up to lately. Earlier this month, we came this | | close to putting our humble abode on the market. Before I tell you why we decided not to sell now, let me back up a bit. Some of you know this, and I talk about it a little in my about page, but this house wasn't exactly my choice. When I met Chris, he had owned this house for a couple years. I LOVED that he owned a house - I had always wanted to - until I moved in. Actually, starting this blog was a little *push* for me to start working on the house and creating a home for us out of the stark, all-white-wall, in-need-of-so-much-work house.

The plan was never to keep this house, though. Besides the fact that I drive an hour EACH WAY to get to work and back, our neighborhood is incredibly transitional. Our street is great, but there have been 5 shootings within a half mile of our house in the last year. Um, NOT OKAY.  The housing marketing took it's biggest fall though, right after I moved in and we'd refinanced. We've been feeling a little stuck for the past couple years.

In January, driving home from a weekend at the beach, we decided that this spring our house was going up on the market. We knew there were things that needed to be done before we could put the house on the market, and we committed to tackling those projects. So we set out refinishing our hardwood floors, updating our back entry, changing out lights and installing molding in an effort to get our home shiny and pretty for the listing. I'm not sure how the rest of the country is recovering economically, but Oregon's housing market is only in the very beginning stages of recovery. We knew we were going to lose money from selling, but we'd been saving up, and we were okay with this. We were completely committed to getting out.

And friends, we were so excited. We looked at potential houses to buy nearly every night - we even went and looked at a few. We found a real estate agent we love. We set the listing day. May 8th. We even went through a pre-inspection (and discovered we have radon! But that's a whole different post). And then I started to get panicky. And, for possibly the first time ever, I was incredibly sentimental about our house. I LOVE the updates we've done in the past couple years. We'd worked so hard to make it *ours* and we've made so many incredibly memories here. Did I really want to sell before we'd had a chance to really enjoy it? I chalked my feelings up to how much we had going on during the listing weekend: Chris' sister was in town, my half marathon, Mother's Day, big car show, and prepping for a job interview. I was completely overwhelmed.

Frowny. And stressed.

So we rescheduled the listing day. May 15. And the panicky feeling actually got worse. Much worse. What I finally realized was: I'm not ready to leave our home. I have wanted out practically since the first day I moved in. But when it comes right down to it, I don't feel like we're done here. I also didn't feel like it was worth losing money when we don't HAVE to move. It just seems silly, really. Chris and I spent a couple days talking through it, and amazingly, he was relieved. I have a sweet husband friends. He wasn't ready to sell the house, but he hates my commute so much he was willing to do it, for me. Awww.

Love this one!

After all that, we're staying put. For now. This really isn't the neighborhood we'd like to live in forever. I'll still be spending two hours in the car each day. But, I don't feel stuck anymore. I know that if we really wanted to sell, we could make it happen. That's huge. It's strikes me as a little funny that it took something as extreme as putting the house on the market to make me realize I actually do love this house. And we're so excited to enjoy the spaces we've created and to tackle some other projects that are high one our list: namely, the bathroom, and some major kitchen updates. Right now, I'm relieved to take not be thinking about it - actively- anymore. It's amazing how much time and energy putting your house on the market takes!

So, wow, this turned into quite a story! But, that's what's been up in our world this year. I know I don't go into a lot of *behind-the-scenes* info here, but I wanted to share all this because I think it's important to let you know where we're at with this place we call home. I'm truly glad we went through an exercise to evaluate where we're at and reconfigure our goals. It's amazing how one single goal kept me from seeing the bigger picture for so long. Anyway, THANKS for reading this crazy post! :)

What about you home owners out there? Anyone in a similar situation? Any one trying to sell their house right now? We'd love to hear! 


{inspired} artist Mina Georgescu

Today, I'm super excited to share with you all the work of artist Mina Georgescu. Mina contacted me a couple weeks ago to take a look at her work, and friends, I am in awe! Her beautiful interpretation of her world, through photography, makes me feel like I'm there. I've been taking a photography class, (trying to learn how to better use my camera!) and what struck me more than anything is the way Mina captures light. Simply beautiful!

On her website, Mina states: 
"I make Decorative Photography that expresses moods, feelings, reminiscence, happiness, joye de vivre. Scratches, textures, blurriness, saturated colors, all add to the modern-vintage, hand printed look of my works."

I asked Mina to answer a few questions so you all could get to know her a little better, and she graciously agreed!
From Coney Island to the forest .... where is your favorite location to shoot?
I enjoy all the places I've shot so far, there are endless possibilities, everywhere you are, it's important to have your eyes open and let the vibes of the place speak through you.

How did you get started and learn to take such beautiful photos? 
I started when I was very young, my mom bought me a plastic camera with film, it was the "bestests" present I ever got, never stopped shooting since. I have no formal training in photography or visual arts, I am not interested in technique or equipment, I shoot with what I have at hand. I am a visual interpreter of the world around me.

What are your top three best online sources for inspiration?
I do not draw my inspiration from the "internets", for me, everything that is inspiring is out there.

What are your best offline sources for inspiration?
Friends, family, life, people, nature, light.

Amazing, right? To see more of Mina's work, both current and past projects, visit www.minagraphy.com. For more information on purchasing prints, visit www.depuis.etsy.com or stay in touch by subscribing to her seasonal mailing list: http://minagraphy.com/newsletter/.


{inspired} sarah richardson

I remember way back in high school (and I do mean WAY back), even before HGTV was broadcasting hours upon hours of design shows, I used to watch Sarah Richardson. Friends, I don't even know what channel she was on, but it was something like public broadcasting. I remember watching her redesign a dining room, complete with an explanation of how to install bead board, and thinking: omg, I WILL do that some day. 

Chris and I don't have cable at home (which is good because we'd probably never get anything done) but yesterday we managed to catch three straight shows of Sarah on HGTV. Even Chris loved it. Her easy style mixed with her bold and yet some how restrained use of color make her finished rooms completely delightful. I never read anything about her or see her rooms featured. Maybe she's been talked about too much and I missed it? But, this weekend I wanted to leave you with a few of Sarah Richardson's gorgeous rooms. A little eye candy, if you will.

All images are from Sarah Richardson Design.

I hope you're all having a fantastic weekend!


{renovate} floor finishing touch

Hi friends! Thank you for indulging me in a couple days off from this little space. To say that life was a little overwhelming over the weekend was a bit of an understatement. From my lovely sister-in-law surprising us with a visit (!) to an super intense Monday work meeting followed by an intense job interview (!), I was wiped. Oh yeah, and there was that pesky little half marathon on Sunday. Which, I'll be honest, actually turned into a quarter marathon. I thought it would be better for everyone if I were fully functional at the aforementioned meeting and interview on Monday. Luckily I was in top form on Monday, but after the stress of the few days prior I crashed. 

I'm excited to be back here today, though, to share with you the finishing touch we made on our hardwood floors! And you thought we were done, right? If you're just joining us, earlier this year we refinished the hardwood floors in a couple spaces of our upstairs. You can read more that project here.

The problem, throughout our entire upstairs, is the house was built with baseboard and quarter round molding. Then the 80's hit and the quarter round was torn out so that ugly blue carpet could be laid over the hardwoods (I heart the 80's :). Quarter round isn't necessary if the baseboard goes all the way to the floor. But since there had been quarter round originally, we were left with a weird gap between the hardwoods and the moldings when we pulled the carpet back up. See the space in the above picture?

We remedied that with quarter round. I've mentioned before that Chris is a crazy-awesome *hunter*. He has the best eye at both thrift stores and garage sales and has saved us so much money in the process. About a year ago he came home from a garage sale with quarter round and an explanation of *some day* we need to install this in the rooms with hardwoods.

I get a little annoyed sometimes with the thought of storing for *someday*. It goes completely against my sense of living light and organized. But, I was super happy when we finally pulled these babies out. Because the quarter round above, which was just enough to finish installation in all four upstairs rooms - living room, hallway, and two bedrooms - cost all of FIVE DOLLARS.

Living room, before
For a long time, I wasn't sure if this step was even worth the hassle. I liked that the small space gave the room a *rustic* and not too perfect look. Plus, installing it completely turned our house upside down and inside out. Such a mess. I lived with end tables and lamps in my kitchen for days.

Living room, after
But it turns out that the quarter round is beautiful. It makes the room look much cleaner and put together. And really, it finishes the floors off nicely. It doesn't look to *perfect* like I  worried about ... it just looks right. If that makes sense.

Hallway, before 

Hallway, after

Bedroom, before

Bedroom, after

You can see the finished product really well in this photo of our living room. It's one of those seemingly small details that happens to make a HUGE difference. And for $5? Definitely worth our house being messy for a few days :)

How are all of you? Any fun updates you've been working on lately? I would love to hear about them! :).


{inspired} rugged beauty

As I mentioned Wednesday, I was out of town this week for work. The destination: eastern Oregon. Eastern Oregon feels like an entirely different world from western Oregon. Where western Oregon is green, lush, and full of life, eastern Oregon is dry, rugged and feels a little unsettled. When I was younger I didn't see the beauty of this landscape. But as I've grown up, I've come to not only appreciate the rugged beauty, but actually stand a little in awe.

It's hard not to be in awe though when you're surrounded by these mountains. It's hard to tell in this photo, but remnants of the Oregon trail are on the right. This is the site that greeted travelers upon entering Oregon. It's crazy, for me, to think that not even 200 years ago this area was *unsettled*. Oregon is so young :).

We stayed in the Geiser Grand hotel. I love staying in hotels with character, and this 1889 hotel is over flowing with charm. It's also rumored to be haunted, but I never ran into a ghost ;).


I also had a little time to explore the town, Baker City, on my morning runs. Lots of beautiful and historic brick:

Our actual destination though, was this:

Even though I love, love, love living in a city, there's a tiny part of me that would like to move to the middle of now where and buy a farm. That tiny part of my emerges when I visit beautiful peaceful remote areas.

We also stopped at this crazy spot. It's a dredge. Like, a gold dredge. I've seen photos before, but let me tell you that photos don't come close to doing it justice. It's a bizarre and fascinating structure.

And speaking of farms, I found the one I would like to own:
Hmmm. Now to just convince Chris to come with me :).

I hope you enjoyed my brief tour of eastern Oregon. And, I hope you have a great weekend! All you mom's out there ... happy Mother's day!

ps. Remember how awhile back I mentioned I was training for a half marathon? Yeah, well said half marathon is this weekend. So think happy thoughts that I can still walk come Monday :).