Thursday, March 13, 2014

Growth, Change and Discovery

Hello Friends!

I hope this find all of you happy and well. It has been a few months since I have been on the blog. The break was both necessary and enlightening. When I began The Happy Home Maker in 2010, I was a single gal running my decorating business, traveling and serving my community. The blog reflected my interests and knowledge of design and trends. I set out to write about the definition of a happy home and the different way that looks to each of us and how we can all get there. My happy home now, in the first quarter of 2014, looks a lot different than back then and in some ways there are constants. 
I am a married lady to a wonderful husband that has opened my eyes to the culinary world and made food so much more meaningful to me. I have grown significantly in my faith and my walk with God. Religion has always been a part of my life, but now my relationship with Him is a daily discovery. My family has gone through changes after loosing my mother and at the same time we have deep hopes and dreams to expand our own little family. I have moved from interior decorating to add party and wedding styling as well as curating and selling vintage. This time away has given me new perception and re-energized my writing. Since I have grown and changed, I think the blog should shake things up a bit too.
The blog has slowly been morphing into a new identity over the last year. Some of the elements will grow and I hope you enjoy a more targeted format. I'll explain more about each one as I roll them out. Over the coming weeks you will see new sections that reflect the priorities and interests in my life for 2014. So please stay tuned!
I am so thankful for all of you that have supported and taken an interest in The Happy Home Maker we remain all things happy and all things home. You my friends, are welcome in my home anytime.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Cause For Giving - Christmas 2013 Gifts That Give Back

The season is upon us and its time to make your list of naughty and nice folks. Since you are gift giving anyway, wouldn't it be nice to support a worthy cause at the same time. No matter who you are buying for there is a gift that gives back for everyone on your list. You don't have to purchase directly from the organization or online either, many major retailers have partnered with select charities to create gift items. Here are some of my top picks:

St Jude Children's Hospital - St. Jude is a cause near and dear to so many of us. They have teamed up with more than ten different retailers such as, Target, Pottery Barn, KMart and Brooks Brothers.

Brooks Brothers
Brooks Brothers

Pottery Barn
The Humane Society of the United States - Of course we all love our furry babies and you can share that love with animals in need. Fred Meyer Jewelers has created a line called "PAWSitively Yours" to benefit the HSU. Who doesn't love a little sparkle?

Fred Meyer Jewelers

Fred Meyer Jewelers

Your Local Museum - In every town there is a museum that is an essential resource to link the past and present and expose every generation to boundless creativity. They are mostly underfunded and often overlooked as a place to find unique gifts such as this Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition Wall Clock or a fabulous book of photography like Motor City Muse. I have chosen one of my childhood favorites but you won't have to look far to find your local museum gift shop.

Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Institute of Arts
If you are looking for a clearing house of great ways to give and give back, TOMS founder of the One for One campaign has created the TOMS Marketplace. You can choose your type of cause and search items and companies with a cause. Like these awesome products:

LSTN reclaimed wood headphones
Starkey Hearing Foundation
Movember Shave Bag
 Combat Prostate and Testicular Cancer

Bella Beanie
Krochet Kids Intl 
OneHope - This organization began with its brand OneHope wine is produced in association with Robert Mondavi, Jr a well known and respected brand in the wine industry. OneHope supports a number of causes and has expanded into several related brands to further their cause. Cheers to that!
Pinot for Paws Gift Box
Supports ASPCA

Medal of Honor Limited Edition Box
Airpower Foundation to benefit the Medal of Honor Foundation

Celebration Gift Pack
End Childhood Hunger
The list goes on and on. With just a smidge of extra effort you can get exactly what you planned for everyone this year and attach a cause that is personal to you and to the receiver. Pay it forward y'all! Happy Giving!

Kiehl's Grapefruit Body Butter
No Kid Hungry

Abe Made Clutch
End Human Trafficking

Harry's Engraved Razor Set
City Year

Friday, November 22, 2013

Deck the Malls: Black Friday Survival Guide

Ready, Set, Shop. The dishes aren't even cleared from the Thanksgiving table and shoppers are off to the mall to get the season started with a cha-ching. Black Friday has become a sporting event that some savvy shoppers look forward to all year. So before you find yourself among the elbow throwing crazies, here are a few simple tips to make the day both economical and enjoyable.

Black Friday 101:

-Do your homework. My basic rule for saving money and time is to shop prepared. Make your list ahead and preview the items that are on sale. Most large retailers like, Target, JCPenney and Kohls have already released their Black Friday circular online. You can even use a site like to see all the ads available in one place.
-Load up on apps. Make sure your phone is loaded and updated with all the apps you need for your shopping day. Apps can be helpful to price compare and even provide additional discounts. My favorites are Target Cartwheel and Brad's Black Friday.
-Map it. Driving around is not where you want to spend your day. Map your route ahead to maximize time, parking and gas. 
-Shop with a buddy. Everything is more fun with a pal. There is a practical reason to shopping with a friend on BF. Parking will be an issue everywhere, so consolidating cars is both courteous and efficient. Also, split up and tackle different departments or shops for each other. If you do shop with a buddy, make sure you both have a game plan before you head out. Know how much time you both have, where you want to go and how you will divide and conquer.
-Take regular "rest" breaks. Seems like an obvious one, but getting caught up in the pace of power shopping can sometimes leave you in an uncomfortable situations. Take bathroom breaks regularly even if its not urgent. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in line for 30 minutes or trying to get out of a crowded parking lot and realizing you waited too long.
-Stay powered up and refreshed. Keep some power snacks in your purse and drink plenty of water. Getting overly hungry can make you edgy, but be courteous and do not take drinks or snacks in the stores. Crowded aisles and loaded carts may result in you or the merchandise wearing your Snickers bar.
-Layer up. It may be quite chilly outside, but often the inside of a store can be quite warm. Wear clothing that is comfortable and not bulky. Carrying around a big puffy coat through a crowded store will not make you happy or popular.
-You may be shopping but they are working. Finally, keep in mind that you may be in the store for 45 minutes, but the folks behind the register are looking at 8 hours ahead starting at the crack of dawn. Be respectful and polite to employees who are likely spread way too thin.

Have fun. Enjoy the festive vibe and be patient. Don't plan on a quick trip to any retailer on BF. If you are in a hurry you will only find yourself frustrated. Instead, raise your peppermint mocha and wish your fellow shoppers a Happy Black Friday! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Family Holiday Photos - Beyond The Tacky Sweater

Its that time of year again! The turkey is about to hit the table, Target is filled with Christmas everything, and amateur and professional photographers are planning the perfect family holiday photo. We've come a long way from the mug shot like family line ups in matching sweaters of the past. Now almost anything goes and the more creative the better. But, what to wear for such an important shoot? No more tacky sweaters. We found some family ensembles that are whimsical, fun, classic, and festive.

Lands' End is one of my favorite shops for classic looks at a great price. Its a great one stop shop for your families holiday look. I put together this example, but their are so many possibilities and another fun fact is they will monogram just about anything.

If your love a picture in your PJ's. Hanna Anderson has sets for the whole family including your pooch. Lots of styles to choose from to mix and match.
Of course there is always the classic and easy to coordinate looks from JCrew, Gap or Old Navy. Its a simple one stop shop for an affordable and comfortable style.

One of my favorite places to find something truly unique is Etsy. There are so many handmade shops that have inexpensive and fun looks that are very special. Here are just a few of my top picks for shops that create family ensembles.




A few tips to keep in mind before your photo day: 
-Think about scheduling, especially if you are dealing with little ones. Try to choose a time of day that will bring the most cooperation such as between routine naps and feedings.
-When using a professional, be clear in advance about your vision and location. Let the pro's give you their best recommendations for color and pattern and time of day to shoot.
-Don't get too caught up on the perfect pose. Pro's will tell you that the best shots are natural interactions between the family. 
-Finally, no matter what you wear, your best accessory is always a smile and a laugh. Have fun with your photos and you will capture a moment you will treasure forever. Happy Snapping!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Design Day Friday: From Pinterest to Reality - Bedroom Basics

I am a Pinner. I have boards and boards filled with inspiration and reference. (Feel free to follow, just click on the link to the right.) Pinterest is not a new concept. For years and years designers like myself have used pull sheets and tears to create inspiration boards and design plans for clients. Pinterest puts it all in one place and is easy to use. More importantly it has made great design accessible and ignited the design fire in folks that were once intimidated by the concept.

Its been a while since I have posted a "copycat" room or "faux" version as I call it. I thought it was a good time to do one, since fall often brings about room updates and renovations just in time for the holidays. I found a room that is neutral, functional, cozy and in a color palate that is popular.

What I love most about this room is that it is uncomplicated and can be easily tweaked to fit almost any room size.  The basic elements and the accents can be changed to any color palate. If you are afraid of layering, this is a great room to start with, its almost fool proof. Here are the basics:

Layer one: Walls, Windows and Floors

Dash & Albert - Swedish Strip Rug
8 x 10 - $390 Bamboo Shade - Oak $30-$90 - Prelude Curtain $20

Layer 2 - Furnishings and Lighting - Kensington Headboard Q - $144

Pier1 - Ashworth Bedside Chest $299
Lamps Plus - Sofia Table Lamp $69
Layer 3 - Bedding

Ikea - Alina Bedding- biege - $30
Ikea - Alina Beddding - White - $30
Pottery Barn - Cable-Knit Throw $79
Pottery Barn - Peacock Pillow Cover - $39
Layer 4 - Accessories

The finishing touches! Add some books to the nightstand. Cut some seasonal flowers or greenery from your yard and put them in a pretty vase or container. Don't be intimidated by the details. This is where you can make your design make. Remember my basic rules: Don't get stuck on matchy-matchy. We have already created a neutral base and color palate from our first three layers. My other rule? Try it! Play with arrangements and grab something unexpected to give the room life. Grab some old plates from the kitchen and hand them on the wall. Make a project with your kids and frame it. Find a cool flea market bench and paint it up to sit at the end of the bed. Whatever you do, have fun with it.

Voila! By the by, did you notice the price tag on this project? All totaled up, we did this for approximately $1200 to $1500! Not bad for a whole room makeover. Get creative and bargain shop or DIY some of the items and you can cut your cost even further. Send me your projects. I'd love to see what you create. Now, what are you doing this weekend? Happy Decorating! Ta.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Makin' Whoopie Wednesday: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

It's fall y'all! With that comes the appearance of everything pumpkin. When I posted on Instagram and Twitter (so if you're not following us yet, you could be missing out.) this picture of my hubby's weekly dessert feature, I got many requests for the recipe. So, Whoopie!, here it is. You can thank my wonderful fella for it. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese 


3 cups confectioners' sugar

¼ teaspoon maple extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/4 cups brown sugar

½ cup olive oil

½ cup rice bran oil or canola

3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Making the Cookies -
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using parchment paper or silicone baking mat line two cookie sheets and set aside. Mix by hand the following ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. (If you are in a pinch, you can use a basic pumpkin pie spice blend instead of the individual spices). In a second large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil, mix well. Continue adding eggs, vanilla. Fold in chilled pumpkin puree. Sift  in flour mixture to bowl containing the pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated.

Drop even and heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake 15 minutes or until cookies are cooked in the center (check with toothpick inserted in center). When the cookies are cool to the touch, but still warm, take half of the cookies and turn them upside down. Press gently until you create a flat bottom, these will be your “bottom” cookies. Allow all cookies to cool completely on pan.

Making the Filling -
Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. Using a mixer and a paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar, maple extract and vanilla, beat until smooth.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a pastry bag or use a large food storage bag and snip the end. Pipe a large dollop of filling on the “bottom” side of the cookies, but do not overfill. Make sure that your cookies are completely cooled. Add a "top" cookie that has no filling to each filled  "bottom" cookie to create a sandwich. Gently press the "top" cookie to move the filling to the edge of the sandwich. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Dust the top of the whoopie pies with confectioner's sugar right before serving if desired.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Design Day Friday: Wallpaper with No Commitment

Mention wallpaper to anyone not in the design industry and you'll probably get a facial expression similar to asking a 6 year old to eat brussels sprouts. Well, ask me and I'll tell you I love wallpaper AND brussels sprouts!

The stigma of wallpaper is likely derived from the mid-century foils, florals and chintz patterns that covered bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens and when removed took everything but the plumbing down with them. Later, the wallpaper boarder trend reared its ugly head. Rooms suddenly became accessorized in the same way a poorly placed belt accentuates the worst part of your figure. Hence, wallpaper hung its head in shame. (pun intended). 

The wallpaper of today isn't granny's wallpaper and designers are using it in the most creative ways ever. Wallpaper can add unique personality to a space that takes it from average to spectacular. In many of today's mass-market-architecturally-lacking new construction homes, wallpaper can add texture and drama to a cookie cutter floor just got better. I have been introduced to a product that takes wallpaper love to a whole new level.  It's wallpaper without commitment.  Not to mention it comes in fabulous graphic prints. Don't stop at walls. This stuff could be the next chalkboard paint! 

It's from a company called Chasing Paper. A female owned company, so we especially love them, that developed a peel and stick paper that stays in place but removes without harming the surface below. Making it very forgiving to install. Here's what Chasing Paper is all about:

"Peel it, stick it, love it. It's beautiful, well-designed paper that will stick to nearly any surface. Go ahead and get creative!
Chasing Paper was born in the hustling sparkle of New York City, but its roots are in the Heartland. It was created from conversations with serial movers, stylish mamas, renters who feel like anything but, DIYers, and, of course, commitment-phobes. 
Chasing Paper is for everyone. It makes small projects affordable and big jobs a breeze. We are invested in the accessibility of simple design and the power of transformation." 

They have a ton of designs, but I picked my top five (which changes all the time). Who can blame me? Happy Peelin' and Stickin' Ta.

That's a Plus

Sexy Hexy

Simple Stripe

Circle and Pop

Photo credit: Chasing Papers