A Walk Down Memory Lane

Yesterday at work I came up with a fantastic date idea. It’s ‘A Walk Down Memory Lane’ wedding themed date! I got the idea for the outfit choice from an anniversary date idea blog. Mr. Layland & I have been married for 7 months on Sunday so our 1st anniversary is still a few months away.

This idea would be better suited for an anniversary but I’m not the best at waiting when I come up with something fun to do. So we did it and had a great time!

I printed out a Welcome Home sign along with a description of two date ideas, one of which was this “Darling Date”. I set out a grey suit in the upstairs bathroom along with the tie Mr. Layland wore on our wedding day. He texted me his date choice (luckily it was this brand new date idea) while he was getting ready so I jumped into my wedding dress and forgot that it takes two people to actually zip into it. Ooops!

I had him come downstairs to help me and surprised him then with my outfit for the night. It was actually a really sweet moment ❤ Once I got situated in my dress we headed off to the Chick-fil-a drive thru! The high school kid at the window smiled when he saw my dress as if to say “Well! I know what story I’ll be telling all MY friends later!” As he gave Mr. Layland back his card he failed to suppress a huge smile as he asked, “So uhh…what are you guys up to tonight?” I giggled and Mr. Layland smiled and coughed a little then responded, “Oh ya know, just hanging out.”

Like this is a thing people do.

We took our dinner to the 5th level of a parking garage to look out at the city lights and take some pictures. I love the lights at night here. I haven’t spent much time outside since I moved to Arizona because of the heat but last night was lovely.

On our wedding day we stopped to take a walk around a park before the family luncheon so we drove there and recreated our walk. It was a nice chance to talk about the past 6 months and our feelings and expectations for the future. I can’t believe almost 7 months have gone by since that day we got married!

We both agreed we love each other more now than on our wedding day and I expect that love will continue to grow ❤

When we got home I made double chocolate fudge brownies and we watched Guys & Dolls. You can’t go wrong with chocolate and some good entertainment to finish off a wonderful and memorable night!

That’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

 

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Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies

If there is one thing that reminds me of home it’s ridiculously moist and gooey brownies. For whatever reason I haven’t made brownies since I got married so last night I decided to change that. To finish off our Walk Down Memory Lane date I made these double chocolate fudge brownies and thought about them all day.

What I love about this recipe is that it’s super easy & the results are heavenly. I picked up a Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie mix from Walgreens on my way home and luckily had chocolate chips on hand!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C water
  • 2/3 C oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the contents of the package with the water, oil and eggs. Fold in 12 oz chocolate chips. Spread the mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake for 24-26 minutes. Let cool.

Growing up we always left the middle brownie for my mother because we’re a moist-centers-are-the-best kind of brownie family. Now that I’m the woman of the house I guess it’s just my right to take the center brownie! I’ll admit that the entire pan is delicious so it didn’t really matter to me.

The brownies only lasted 24 hours in our house. Good luck making them last in yours!

That’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Camelback Mountain

You have to try it!

We have attempted to summit Camelback Mountain on two different dates. The first time, the sun set before we got to the top so we had to turn around. The second time, everyone and their dog (literally) decided to hike Camelback that day which made for a very crowded trail.

I’m determined to make it to the top eventually! It’s a fun and challenging hike. I say challenging but families bring their small children and hike it together. I secretly hope they don’t make it to the top because it would be sad if some 7 year-old can beat me out on a hike.

I’m from North Carolina where our hiking trails are surrounded by trees and only at a look out point can you see the valleys below. Here in Arizona you can see the valleys below the entire time. No trees. Lots of rock. I love hiking Camelback because I think I’m rock climbing. Mr. Layland is less convinced.

I’ll admit, the first time we hiked it I was still new to the landscape of Arizona and was amazed at the very rock I stood on. The second time, I was less amazed and really just wanted to get to the top. The mountain never ended though! The trail kept going and going and going. It got to a point where I was convinced there WAS no summit and in fact, this was just a rouse to get people to hike this never-ending mountain. Then it occurred to me that as much as we had climbed UP we now had to climb DOWN. I would have made a terrible pioneer because the thought of going back down that mountain almost made me cry.

That’s when I decided that Camelback should have a chairlift with a few stations along the way. So when you’re me & all you want to do is be done and get a chocolate Frosty at Wendy’s — you can hop on that chairlift and move on with your life!

Mr. Layland stayed positive the whole time and I know that the next, and possibly last time we hike Camelback he will be there by my side, encouraging me to keep going.

Here is my advice on hiking Camelback: bring lots of water (a chocolate Frosty wouldn’t hurt) and don’t feel too bad if you don’t make it to the top! Try again next time!

 

That’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Vanilla Blackberry Cupcakes

You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you click on an amazing looking recipe on Pinterest only to see that it is going to take 3 days and about a thousand ingredients you don’t have to make it? I hate that.

This recipe is not one of those recipes! It’s super easy and they are so yummy. Mind you it’s nothing fancy but I think of it as the difference between a white plastic straw and those colorful striped paper straws. They both do the same thing and neither is difficult but one is definitely cuter than the other.

Anyone can make vanilla cupcakes and slather on some store bought icing, right? This is were the colorful paper straws break away from the boring white plastic straws.

Make the cupcakes using a box of yellow cake mix. While they are cooling make this vanilla spin-off of my Mom’s frosting recipe.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting

3 C powdered sugar

1/3 C softened butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 T milk

Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed with mixer to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Add food coloring to desired shade.

If you have a frosting bag with attachments, good for you. If not, put the frosting in a gallon Ziploc bag and cut 1/4-1/2 inch off the corner. Now you can frost like a pro.

The secret to frosting a cupcake is to start in the middle with a swirl then jet out to the edge and swirl your way back to the center. This helps give the frosting a little lift. Once you have frosted all the cupcakes place a blackberry on top!

Easy – like I promised.

That’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Wine Bottle Planter

Wine Bottle Planter

Some projects turn out much better in your head than they do in real life. This project was definitely that sort of project. It was the project that would not die, the project that would not end and by the time it was over I vowed never to do anything like it again.

 

Rather than simply recycling your wine bottles, consider repurposing one to create a one-of-a-kind plant container. http://www.greenlivingaz.com/2014/05/27/mosaic-wine-bottle-planter/

It looks pretty simple, right? And I’m sure with an electric, professional grade glass cutter, it is! I tried a few ways to get this result including the good ole soak-yarn-in-acetone-and-light-it-on-fire method. Not the most effective method but definitely the one with the most flames.

My deadline was coming up and I was out of options so I came up with a new project. The Mosaic Wine Bottle Planter. Instead of trying to make one clean cut I improvised and here’s what I came up with:

Materials

  • Wine bottle
  • Glass Cutter
  • Safety goggles
  • Hammer
  • Gallon bag
  • Sharpie
  • Super glue
  • Mod Podge
  • Sandpaper
  • Cork or rubber studs
  • Small rocks
  • Potting soil
  • Succculents

Instructions

  1. Draw an oval lengthwise along the front of the wine bottle with a sharpie.
  2. Put on your safety goggles. Use the glass cutter to score the bottle following the black line. The glass is thick, so you will need to go over the line a few times until you create a small track.
  3. Place the wine bottle in the gallon bag and close it. I would suggest going outside on a grassy area for this next step.
  4. With the wine bottle still in the plastic bag, hit it with the hammer. One firm hit should shatter the bottle. Try to keep the pieces as big as possible.
  5. Take out the biggest pieces first and super glue them back together, adding the smaller pieces to fill in the holes creating a mosaic look. Be sure to leave out any pieces from the inside of the circle where your plants will be. If a piece didn’t break along the line and you have excess glass, hit that piece individually to make it smaller.
  6. Let dry 30 minutes.
  7. The edges will be uneven so use sand paper to smooth them out.
  8. Coat the bottle with Mod Podge to seal the cracks and keep the bottle shiny.
  9. If you still have the cork, you can cut it in half and glue the pieces to each side of the bottle to keep it from rolling. You can also use two marbles or tow stick-on rubber stubs.
  10. When using the bottle for planting, make sure to place a layer of small rocks or pebbles at the bottom so the roots don’t sit in water. Any plant you use should have shallow roots and need minimal watering.

Once your mosaic wine bottle planter is complete, you should be able to repot your shallow-root plants an display them in your windowsill to enjoy all summer long.

It was an experience, that’s for sure. Thanks to the Arizona heat I ended up having to re-do the same bottle.

Once was good enough for me.


The picture in this post was featured with my article in Green Living and is from etsy.com. I know you’re curious how mine turned out but the good version was never photographed and the second version…well let’s just say this picture gives you what we like to call the right idea.