tadalis kamagra

News & Our 2014 Christmas / Hanukkah eCard

It’s been a crazy fall. I’ve been working on a project the past few months that I can finally share today: we bought our first house together!!

anniemade_House

The morning we closed on our place, we did a little photo shoot for our Holiday card this year. I’m sharing our Holiday (e)card that I designed today on the blog of my business, Greatest Story  - check it out here.

This has been a dream of ours since we got married in June of 2012 and a goal we’ve been pursuing through savings, prayer, and perseverance for the past 18 months. Part of the reason for our move from Los Angeles to North Carolina in September 2013 was to move somewhere we could put down roots and buy a home (and afford to do so).

We couldn’t have gotten to this place without the love and encouragement of all our friends and family and without everything we’ve learned about being intentional with our time, talent, and our financial resources. Giving credit where credit is due, I don’t think we could have bought this house without all that we’ve learned from Dave Ramsey and in particular, his book The Total Money Makeover and his daily radio podcasts (free on iTunes, seriously). Following his common sense money principles, we were able to leave LA debt-free and were able to buy our first place with a substantial down payment that set us up for success in the future.

We are so happy to be able to celebrate this over the holidays and be grateful for all that we are blessed with. Gus and I both hope that whatever your goal or dream is right now, that you have all the love, courage, and strength you need to pursue it. And I hope that wherever you are in the journey, valley or peak, that the holidays give you a chance to appreciate the beauty in all of it. Every step of the way is part of the awesome you are headed for.

Happy Holidays!

Reveal – Halloween Costumes 2014

avatar-the-last-airbenderEarth… Fire… Water… Air… Long ago, we fell in love with a TV show known as “Avatar: The Last Airbender” on Nickelodeon. It’s the story of a kid named Aang who has the seemingly impossible task of bringing balance to the world as the “Avatar,” the only master of all four elements.

Though it’s a kids animated show, this series is one of our favorites. Personally, I think that it delivers one of the most satisfying series endings I’ve ever seen in any medium – tv, books, and movies. To my mind, it’s definitely something for all ages that has great characters, an amazing story, and massive staying power.

And so today, for Halloween 2014, I hand-sewed us costumes for Aang and Katara, a waterbender and Aang’s “forever girl.”

AangandKatara_1

This took total commitment from Gus because Aang is a monk in the show so, like Aang, Gus shaved his head!

JustGus

Gus’s Aang costume is made from a yellow shirt I found at Goodwill, yellow scrub cargo pants, rainbow sandals, brown knee high socks, and custom orange details made with hand-sewing and some stitch witchery (the arm ties, the belt, and the cape). Gus made the cape by sanding and painting a piece of pine we grabbed from Home Depot for $6.

Aang has blue tattoos so we completed Gus’s look by using blue face paint to add his arrows to his head and his hands.

JustAnnie

For my Katara costume, it’s constructed from navy sweatpants, a blue scrub top that I sewed and stitch witched (is that a word?) white detailing, navy fingerless gloves, and a ribbon necklace made with a painted circle to represent Katara’s betrothal necklace. The crowning addition were these $5 boots from Goodwill. Massive Goodwill for the win!

AangandKatara-2

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Halloween Costumes 2014 – Sneak Peek

So, for the first time since 2011, Gus and I are making our Halloween costumes this year. Years ago, we had a blast becoming Bunsen Honeydew and his loyal assistant, Beaker. I even met Jason Segel and saw the real Muppets while in this costume… talk about a surreal Halloween!

Today I’m sharing a sneak peek of what we’re working on!

anniemade // Sneak Peek of 2014 Halloween Costumes

Stumped? The reveal will come to anniemade next week.

It took three trips to different Goodwills to score these boots for $5. Pretty sweet deal. Hope everyone’s enjoying the fall season of pumpkins, pumpkin-flavored things, and cider! Nom!

Gluten-Free Triple Berry Yellow Cake Trifle

anniemade // Gluten-Free Triple Berry Yellow Cake Trifle Recipe

Is there really anything more patriotic than cake? Ok flags, maybe. But cake’s up there.

Poor Gus always sees that traditional July 4th cake every year and every year it’s chock full of gluten. But not this year! I made this Gluten-Free Triple Berry Yellow Cake Trifle just for him to commemorate the 4th and our love of yellow cake.

This is basically the same recipe as the Gluten Free Oreo and Brownie Trifle but with different ingredients. Here goes…

GLUTEN-FREE TRIPLE BERRY YELLOW CAKE TRIFLE (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients

  • 1 package Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix (plus ingredients to make the mix)
  • 2 tubs of french vanilla cool whip
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of each: strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries (or your favorite berry combo)
  1. Mix and bake the gluten-free cake mix in a 9×13″ pan. Once baked, allow it to cool then slice the cake into 1 in” cubes.
  2. While the cake is baking, mix up your trifle filling. Just combine your cream cheese and sugar, then fold in the two tubs of cool whip.
  3. Assembly: start with a trifle bowl and make a bottom layer of just cake cubes. Top with the trifle filling, then with a layer of berries. Repeat until you reach the top with a filling layer. Place a few berries in the center and mangia! You’re finito and this is one tasty, tasty dessert.

anniemade // Gluten-Free Triple Berry Yellow Cake Trifle Recipe

One Year in North Carolina

NCOneYear

It’s hard to believe I’m writing this, but tomorrow, Friday, September 12 marks our one year anniversary of moving to North Carolina!

Flying by would probably be an understatement (and ironic because we used to fly SO much more in our California lives). What an absolutely incredible year.

I still feel in many degrees how I described in this post from the holidays last year here in NC – that I feel like being here is equivalent to getting the biggest raise in the world.

Beyond that, I am just amazed in all that can happen in a year. We both moved here without jobs, without a firm plan, and without furniture! Thanks to IKEA and a myriad of other things we’ve tried, we seem to be on track with all of those things after taking many leaps of faith that they would happen.

I started a real business in October – Greatest Story Creative – and decided to kick fear in the face by going full-time in January! Gus found a great job in November that allowed us to move up to Chapel Hill with friends and has since taken on some epic academic challenges in pursuit of a new career dream.

We got our own place in April, a little one bedroom that we’ve made cozy while we save for a down payment for a house. This is still a super grown up idea but one we’re making progress on. In fact, we hired a buyer’s agent this past week to start looking!

Life looks really different than it did a year ago, as we were driving our way across the NC state line into the unknown. It’s been an amazing year filled with so much quality time with friends and family, and new friends, and living life with more intention than Gus and I have really ever experienced. It’s been a lot more road tripping, a lot more budgeting, and a lot more peaks and valleys, but it’s been living!

And we look back on our lives in California with love and respect for the relationships and experiences we got there that have really shaped us. Now that we’re on to new adventures, we can really see how those years and dreams were formative and directional for where we are going now and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, though we’re on new directions and paths today.

And we miss our friends and co-workers there. And for reals, we miss In-N-Out.

NCOneYearInNOut

Our most recent In-N-Out according to the great historian, Instagram, was exactly 52 weeks ago.

But in all seriousness, milestones like these are a great time to look back and appreciate the past, the present, and the future. And all I have left to say (today anyway) is that I am just so grateful to everyone and everything. Life is awesome.

 

Watermelon Cake or How to Fake Out Your Friends with Something Healthy

anniemade // Easy Watermelon Cake Recipe - Health, Fresh,  & Naturally Gluten-Free

No, this isn’t a watermelon-flavored cake recipe. It’s a cake that is made from watermelon, cause I’ve recently become crazy. Don’t believe? Let’s take a look under all the yummy frosting…

anniemade // Easy Watermelon Cake Recipe - Health, Fresh,  & Naturally Gluten-Free

Ta da! Who says fruit can’t be exciting?

It was my cousin Hannah’s birthday last week. To celebrate, I wanted to make her a dessert that fit her lifestyle of Sunday morning yoga, salad, and all around healthy living. But hey… she should still have fun and a little sugar right?

I was inspired by a lot of recipes on Pinterest but here’s my way to create this little beauty. I recommend it for healthy birthdays and as a fun idea for potlucks and parties (it feeds a ton of people!!) without breaking the bank.

Ingredients

  • 1 Regular Size Watermelon
  • 1 tub of 8oz French Vanilla Cool Whip
  • 6-7 Fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced as shown (or your choice of fruit toppings)

Directions

1. You want to use the middle chunk of the watermelon for the base of the “cake” so you’ll start by slicing off the top and bottom rounded ends, leaving both ends as level/flat as you can. I set my watermelon on a cookie sheet with edges to retain some of the water and make for easy clean-up.

2. Use your knife to carve the rind off the edges of your new “cake” base until your base looks like the picture without the frosting. Feel free to keep slicing parts off the top until it looks level to you.

3. Refrigerate until you’re about 10-15 minutes from serving. When you’re ready to serve it, place the watermelon on a cake plate or stand and use a spatula to “frost” the entire thing with the cool whip. I used generous dollops that would sit on top of the watery watermelon pretty well.

4. To do the design shown, I started around the edge placing strawberries in a circle then kept working my way inward, circle by circle.

5. Serve shortly after or keep refrigerated until ready. Cut and serve with the knife you used to cut the base down. And enjoy the yummy & the look on your friend’s face when they realize it’s a freaking watermelon! :)

anniemade // Easy Watermelon Cake Recipe - Health, Fresh,  & Naturally Gluten-Free

The 2nd Annual Barbara Day – This Sunday, August 17, 2014

anniemade // Celebrate your lost loved one's birthday each year - a great way to honor them and remember to celebrate the things they loved and you loved about them

Last year, I decided to host a virtual celebration for my mom’s birthday known as Barbara Day.  My mom passed away 11 years ago in 2003, and this time a year ago, it occurred to me that even though she’s no longer here with us, we can still have an occasion to celebrate the vibrant life she had and the ways she continues to love and inspire us.

Whether you knew my mom or not, I also do this as a reminder. Losing someone can be a tragedy and a source of sadness for the rest of your life. However, what I realized through hosting Barbara Day is that the time for happiness is not lost. Picking a day to celebrate someone every year, whether on their birthday or another special occasion, is an invitation to make new, happy memories for and about the loved ones you’ve lost. It’s an opportunity to keep the community of amazing people they created alive and it’s a chance to be changed, continually, by the relationship you had with someone so dear to you. I look forward to celebrating this day with our children in the future – giving them an opportunity to know and learn about their grandmother in a way that they can experience beyond watching old home movies or looking over photographs.

For Barbara Day last year – it was a success beyond what I could have ever expected. Just by putting the idea out there, so many of my friends and family reminded me of parts of my mom and stories that had slipped away from the top of my mind, including her famous recipe for Mexican Dip. Gus and I spent last year’s Barbara Day eating Mexican Dip and watching a marathon of The Golden Girls, a show we watched together so often that I still know all of the lines of practically every episode. I think my favorite part however is the months that followed, as friends and family came up to me to tell me excitedly how they baked cookies that Mom loved to bake, or hosted a tea in her honor. Even my cousin Sharon was inspired to tell me a story I’d never heard about a plant my mom gave her, and then proceeded to give me a cutting for my own home. The response was overwhelming, inspiring, and moving. In short, it was a brilliant reminder that there is still joy in the world and great things can still happen.

So this week, if you knew my mom, I invite you to celebrate Barbara Day on her birthday, this Sunday, August 17, 2014. If you have loved ones you’ve lost, I invite you to use Barbara Day as an opportunity to do something special and fun for someone you miss.

Since we live in North Carolina now, I’m taking this opportunity to invite anyone in Fayetteville that felt close to my mom to meet me for one of our favorite afternoon dates growing up – TCBY. If you’re a local to Fayetteville and read this, please join us this Sunday in Westwood Shopping Center anytime from 2-4pm. And if you’re not nearby, please do something fun and special in honor of mom and feel free to let me know.

I wish everyone a Happy Barbara Day, no matter how you celebrate, and I love you Mom.

If you’re looking for a few ideas, here are a few of my favorite suggestions for things that remind me of Barbara:
Mom’s Mexican Dip Recipe
Mom’s Toffee Bar Recipe
Watching The Golden Girls
Going shopping at The Pilgrim in Fayetteville
Writing handwritten thank you notes
Spending time in your garden
Giving thoughtful gifts to others
Making wine spritzer with fruit and having friends over

DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

One of the fun things about living back in NC is being able to connect with and reinvent family traditions and heirlooms. Today’s post is about a yellow dresser that used to belong to my parents and has done hard time – 11 years to be exact – in storage in my aunt’s garage. You may remember that Gus and I saved the garage recently, and in that – you may have spotted the guest star for today – my mom’s yellow dresser!

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

When Gus and I got our own place, we were a bit short on furniture (after we sold practically everything!) so this came with us. All things considered, it’s in great shape, with all the original hardware and made of solid wood. The color was okay but it needed some updating.

So I started thinking, since this would go in our bedroom, what would I want to see everyday when I woke up? And I thought of this great quote by Jack Kerouac. I could tell you, but let me show you –

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

Boom! Graphic Black, Gold, and awesome typography: some of my all time favorites. This treatment brought new and exciting life to the dusty yellow dresser.

Here’s a rundown of how we did it.

Firstly, we (and our dear friend Chrissy) removed the hardware and sanded the original dresser down.

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

Then I measured all the drawers and created a facsimile in the computer. I laid out all the text for the quote in the computer, then printed each phrase on a strip of adhesive contact paper.

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

This was fairly successful. The thing is that the contact paper didn’t create a great surface for the ink so it smeared a lot, but it still provided me enough of a template to work with (albeit smudgy). This probably would have worked better with a laser printer.. and would have avoided the next step if I had a cricut machine or something similar. Maybe for Hanukkah.

Anyway…

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

Off I went cutting out something like 26 letters with an exacto knife to act as our stencils. Then I peeled them all back and adhered them where I wanted them on each of the pre-sanded drawers. I made sure to press firmly to ensure the stencil would work when the paint stage came.

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

Next came some fun – painting! I used plain old latex flat paint in a dark gray/black color and we did two coats (allowing each to dry inbetween).

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

As soon as the painting was done, I pulled up all of the letters. This is key, just as you would peel up painting tape before it completely dries and leaves uneven lines. There were a few little spots which were easily cleaned up with a little sandpaper.

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

Once the letters were revealed, we used sandpaper to give the dresser that vintage feel. We lightly sanded the areas with a lot of detail, revealing the yellow or gold ornamentation beneath.

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

The last step was a coat of Minwax Finishing Paste to seal everything. This was applied with a cloth rag and a lot of TLC (thanks honey).

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

And there you have it… a wonderful reminder to wake up to everyday, even better because it’s a new chapter for this special piece.

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

anniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeoveranniemade // DIY Typography Dresser Makeover

On Going Home

Home has been of great discussion lately. Gus and I have been decorating our little one bedroom, looking into buying our first house (at some point), and coming up on one year of living in NC (this September). But I’ve been thinking about what home really is for me, and I find it’s much more than I guess I realized.

DukeChapel

This Sunday night, Gus and I attended Catholic mass at Duke Chapel, my alma mater. In that gorgeous gothic cathedral, I found myself remembering, almost feeling, exactly what it was like to call Duke home. Taking in the elaborate stone work that climbed the walls, I revisited small and big moments I had spent in that very place. At the altar, I saw the weddings I had been a bridesmaid in. In the pews, I remembered clearly, as if it were yesterday, my baccalaureate, listening the most intently to any homily I’ve ever heard (this one) from the Dean of the Chapel, Rev. Sam Wells.

In reliving these moments, and imagining exactly how it felt to be at home at Duke, I realized that I’ve had many homes in my life, and those homes aren’t just physical places. They have been rich and diverse, and filled with amazing people. College was one time in my life and one version of me… high school was another. I posted a t-shirt I designed for our Senior class 10 years ago (whew!) to my Facebook page, and found myself suddenly remembering the sights, the sounds, and the memories of that experience. Another me, another time, another piece of fabric to the quilt.

And I think back to all these other homes, like the one we left in Los Angeles. A life of friends who do and did amazing things (like working on the number #5 movie of all time), the work we did, and the people we were in that life, in that home.

When I think through all of these homes, I guess I realize that I should be patient when I think about our future and the beautiful home we hope to own one day. I know, and perhaps it was God’s way of telling me in the Chapel this week, that I have already lived in so many beautiful homes that I’m sure I can’t even imagine what the next one will be.

Duke Chapel Photo | via

Gluten-free Soft Pretzel Knots

anniemade // Recipe for Gluten-free Soft Pretzel Knots

Okay, so I’ll be honest. I made this recipe with the intention of creating full-on soft pretzels in honor of my dad’s 60th birthday (since he is obsessed with all things pretzel). However, for some reason the dough kept shrinking in on itself, and forming these knots naturally. I went with it, and hey, they are still delicious.

GLUTEN-FREE (OR FULL) SOFT PRETZEL KNOTS
(Adapted from this recipe at The Cottage Market)

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (for gluten-free, I used Bob’s Red Mill. For wheat, use regular all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 package of active dry yeast (1/4oz) fast rising or regular will work fine
  • 1 cup warm water

For Baking Soda bath, use:

  • 1/8 cup of warm water and 2 tsp. baking soda

For topping warm pretzels:

  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • kosher salt to taste
  • (or, a mixture of 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup white or brown sugar for sweet pretzels)

anniemade // How to make gluten-free soft pretzels

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees
  2. Put all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and mix well forming a nice dough and then knead for at least 5 minutes. I used my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook.
  3. The dough should be smooth, soft and pliable. You can add a little more water if needed. When it is ready,  pat into a ball and place it in a nice glass bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil, cover with cling wrap and put it in a warm dark place, like a preheated oven with the oven then turned off.) Then let it rise to double the size (can take about 40 minutes to an hour).
  4. Now take the dough and roll it into a thick log and cut into 8 equal parts. Then roll into lengths about 10 inches and form your pretzels. The Cottage Market links this 15 second video to see how to twist your pretzel. I did it this way but my dough kept rolling into a tight knot, so I just went with that shape or cut pretzel nuggets from the long line of dough.
  5. Now is the time to make your baking soda wash. Add the warm water to the baking soda and mix good, now brush (using a pastry brush) the wash over the whole outside of the pretzel and repeat for all of them.
  6. Pop them in the over and cook for 9 minutes, they should be a rich pretzel brown.
  7. Remove from the oven, melt your butter and apply to all of the pretzels with the pastry brush and sprinkle with salt…or coat them in butter and cinnamon and sugar, you can’t really go wrong, even though they aren’t a traditional pretzel shape.

Even though they were mostly knots, I still managed to get one or two “pretzely” shapes out of the gluten-free version of the dough (see below). The gluten-free iteration was a little dry after the first day.. best to enjoy them hot on the first day with a nice Coke or Diet Coke like my dad has taught me since I was little.

And Gus was happy regardless – he enjoyed his by treating it like a pretzel roll and making gluten-free pretzel bread sandwiches. Om nom nom, I say!

anniemade // Gluten-free Soft Pretzel Knots and Nuggets Recipe

 

Next Posts