in one month i will be driving across the country

in one month i will be driving across the country

Exciting news! My little sister is moving to Portland, Oregon next month and I am going to drive with her to get there.  Of course, I am a little sad that she is moving so far away to the west coast, but I am so excited for this new adventure for her.

I have always wanted to drive all the way across the country.  Definitely an item on my bucket list. I have been to the Southern California many times and a few cities in between, but have barely seen the mid-west/north-west.  Little did I know my sister would bust out the news a few months ago that she was moving across the country!   I quickly jumped on the opportunity to make the trip with her.  And did I mention her sweet one-eyed “Jack” is going to make the trip with us… he is the cutest!

One Eyed Jack

We have planned our trek, booked our hotels, booked my flight back home and we are ready to explore!  Last month we spent the morning at a coffee shop with maps, a computer and calendar.  We used my favorite road trip planning guide – Road Trippers.  You can set your destinations and search on the interactive map for extraordinary places, unique hotels and sightseeing must-sees.   Then, you can pin your stop to keep up with milage, timing, etc.  To keep a 3,000+ mile trip interesting, you want to see some cool stuff for sure!  Here is our planned trek as of now…

Road Trip Map from Charlotte NC to Portland OR

Some of the highlights we are planning to see along the way…

St Louis Arch

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St. Louis Arch.  Showing you this at night because that is how we will see it when we roll into town.  Trying to drive all the way the first day here from Charlotte.  That’s over 700 miles.  Wish us luck….and no traffic.

Corn Palace South Dakota

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The Corniest Stop we will make goes to the Corn Palace in South Dakota. Because, why not.  I mean, I’m sort of excited about it.

Prairie Dog Town USA

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Prairie Dog Town USA.  Can you believe their is such a thing?  I can’t wait.  According to this website, they will eat peanuts out of your hand!  Cue cuteness overload!!

Mount Rushmore South Dakota

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Mount Rushmore.  How can you not take a trip through South Dakota without seeing this magnificent rock sculpture!

Dinosaur Park South Dakota

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Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota.  This vintage road side attraction is a must for some great photo ops!

Beautiful Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park.  This is definitely one we are really looking forward to. Driving through Yellowstone is going to be a dream!   Hoping to see this amazingly beautiful Grand Prismatic Spring.  Mandi’s sister has been traveling through Yellowstone this past week (on her way to Alaska!) and has shared some crazy cool photos. I need to chat with her and get some road trip tips for sure.

Road Trip Across North West

Yellowstone National Park

From Yellowstone, we are pretty close to Oregon.  We will stay over one more night and see some cool roadside sights like this giant red wagon slide….

Giant Red Wagon Slide

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Can’t wait to see Portland too!  I have never been and neither has my sister.  Pretty exciting and brave of her to move to a city she has never been to, right?  Love it!  I am so proud of her. She rules.

Portland Oregon Sign

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Portland Orgeon at Sunset over Mt Hood

And you had better believe we are planning some sweet road trip tunes and lots of entertaining activities for the car trip….


 

So in just about a month, my sister and I will hit the road for this very exciting trip!  More details to come on how you can follow our adventure on Instagram.  And if you aren’t already, be sure to follow Sunny Slide Up on Instagram so you don’t miss the photos!

Have any travel tips or places not to miss to share?  Please comment below and let us know!

On top of Chimney Rock overlooking Lake Lure NC

Cheers to our adventure sister!

Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack

let’s throw a virtual birthday party for mandi

let’s throw a virtual birthday party for mandi

It’s Mandi’s birthday today!  Yay!  Happy Birthday Mandi!

Happy Birthday Mandi

It’s also Mother’s Day, so happy day to all of the baby mamas, furry baby moms, grandmas, soon-to-be moms, and wishing to be moms!   Mandi is a super mom, and her little guy just celebrated his first birthday.  Happy Birthday Hudson!

Super Mom Costume

So, for Mandi’s birthday, I thought we should throw her a virtual birthday party!  First, let’s dream up some fun party decorating ideas. Pinterest is THE BEST party planning place ever.  Follow our “Party On” board on Pinterest for a ton of great party ideas.

Painted Pineapples

Painted Pineapples from Life, Love and the Pursuit of of Shoes

Yay Cake Topper

DIY Pom Pom Cake Topper from Momtastic

Design Inspiration from Ruffled Blog

From Simply Savannah Events via Ruffled Blog

Also, some great ideas on a past post of ours – 10 Easy DIY Party Decor Ideas

Now, let me share some favorite birthday gifts to give these days, or shall I say some of my favorite things lately!  (Mandi, I have one of these goodies in a birthday bag for you… see you soon!)

Creative and Funny Birthday Gift Ideas

  1. Alter Eco Sea Salt Truffles
  2. 25 oz. S’well Bottle (it holds a whole bottle of wine!)
  3. Fitkicks Active Lifestyle Footwear
  4. LZ Pencils
  5. Leather fold over clutch from Sans Map Bags
  6. Unicorns are Jerks Coloring Book (hilarious!)


Virtual Birthday Party for Mandi

Happy Birthday Mandi 2016

Now, let’s party!  Please take a moment to leave a comment below and wish Mandi a very happy birthday!  You can also connect with her on Twitter and Instagram and send some birthday wishes her way.

 

ma’s famous chocolate cake recipe

ma’s famous chocolate cake recipe

Ma is 91 years young and makes an amazing chocolate cake.  She is my husband’s grandmother and she has so kindly been feeding me this cake for the past 11 years. The recipe has been in an old family cookbook for decades, but no one has ever been able to truly master her secret icing technique!  I was visiting Ma in Nashville earlier this month and she baked the cake with me step by step for the first time.  I documented with photos and got her permission to share with you.  She is already known for this cake, and I told her now she was going to be an internet star! 🙂

Isn’t Ma the cutest.  My grandmothers both passed away when I was younger and she scooped me up as her own granddaughter shortly after my husband and I started dating.  I just love her!

Ma and Me

Alright, let’s bake a cake!

So, the cake part really isn’t a secret.  Just use the easy boxed stuff!  You can use yellow, white or chocolate cake mix.  Follow the directions on the box to bake the cake.  Ma suggests Crisco for greasing the pans before adding the cake mix to bake.

yellow cake mix

Yellow Cake Mix Baking

Once the cakes have baked, then let cool on a cooling rack.  You can slice each of these in half if you would like to make more layers of the cake.

Ma Cutting Cake

Now, to the famous chocolate frosting.

STEP ONE: Mix all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. (Scroll to the bottom for recipe)

Chocolate Frosting Recipe Step By Step

Mix Ingredients Together

 

STEP TWO: Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring.  Cook until soft ball forms in cold water (or 234 degrees on candy thermometer). We didn’t use a thermometer – Ma uses the old fashion trick.

Boiling Chocolate Frosting

 

Chocolate Frosting Tip

STEP THREE:  Remove saucepan from heat.  Place saucepan in pan of cold water.  (We used Ma’s sink).  Stir frosting until creamy.

Cooling Chocolate Frosting

STEP FOUR: Place parchment paper on cake plate or cake container bottom.  This will help so much with clean up! Spread between layers and on top of sides of cake. Frost two layers or four if you cut your bakes cakes in half.  (I only cut one in half, so I had three layers)

Frosting a Cake

(Don’t you love the minion paper towels! I felt like that little guy was judging my frosting technique!)

Layers of Cake

Chocolate Frosting on Cake

And there you have it!  The frosting was definitely tricky.  I think I need to make this a few more (dozen) times to even come close to Ma’s perfect version. It’s all about timing with the frosting during boiling/cooling/icing.

Choclate Frosting Cake Recipe

Please don’t judge my lopsided cake!  I love to cook, but I don’t bake very often.  My first cake in quite some time and I didn’t line the layers up just right.  You can use toothpicks if you need to hold it together.

As you can see this is messy!  But a delicious clean up.  Once you have it all iced, slide your cake knife under the cake to lift a tad so you can pull out the parchment paper.

Lopsided Chocolate Cake

Let cool and then enjoy! YUMMY!

 

Ma’s Famous Secret Chocolate Cake

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa
  • 1 pinch of baking soda

Directions: 

Mix all ingredients in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring. Cook until soft ball forms in cold water (or 234 degrees on candy thermometer). Remove from heat. Place saucepan in pan (or sink) of cold water. Stir frosting until creamy.  Spread between layers and on top of sides of cake. Frost two layers or four if you cut in half.  Cool and enjoy!

Tips for this recipe – see photos and text above
Lower fat alternative – you must be kidding!

Heather made Ma's Chocolate Cake

I was so proud of myself and my little lopsided cake.  I will do better next time.  Practice makes perfect, right?

Chocolate Frosted Cake Cut

 

A big thank you to MA for sharing her kitchen and cooking expertise with me and her recipe with all of us!

Enjoy!

Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack

family, work and slowing down

family, work and slowing down

First, hello.  I have missed the Sunny Slide Up blog!  It has always been a fun, creative outlet for me. I’m so happy to be back.

What have I been up to?  Wow.  Where do I start?  I can’t believe it has been a year since posting last here!  And at the same time – it seems like time has flown by.  My dad got very sick at the end of last year.  It was very scary and I dropped everything to help him.  I was happy to do so.  That’s what you do when your family needs you.  Especially your parents that helped you through so much of your life. I am happy to report that my dad is doing amazingly well now.   The whole experience brought us so much closer together.  Love you Dad!

family quote

(source)

 

Can you believe that is it already November? The holidays last year were a complete blur with everything going on.  Then before you know it the new year was here.  Unfortunately, I found less and less time for my creative outlets like this blog and I was working nonstop.  My business was going really well, so I can’t complain…but I needed to slow down.  I sometimes think I am superwoman and I can do it all.  Don’t we all, ha.  Well I am trying to be more realistic these days and stop over-commiting!  It is a fault of mine. I stopped saying yes to everything and started adding more turnaround time to by work projects.  I schedule my downtime.  I need a lazy Sunday every once in a while…or every week.  It is amazing how refreshing a day at home with no project deadlines and plans can be!

 

slow down life quote(source)

 

This past summer flew by without enough beach vacations.  That is what I always end up saying.  I love the beach and will totally live by one someday.  Talk about slowing down.  I could sit on a beach everyday soaking up the sun.  It is one of my favorite things ever.

And now fall is here with its beautiful leaves.  It has been raining here in Charlotte this week which has been kind of blah, but I welcome the cooler weather when I can wear my fuzzy sweaters and have my fireplace on every evening.

 

Fall Favorites

(source)

 

Halloween is over and the countdown to the holidays begins.  Only 22 days until Thanksgiving!  Need some turkey day ideas?  Here are some from when I  hosted Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.  Gobble!  Gobble!

I’m super excited for this holiday season.  I just love buying/making gifts for people.  I gather gifts all year long and stuff them in a box in a closet – then it is so exciting when I open the box to see what I have collected all year and start the wrapping!  And the decorating – I would leave my Christmas tree up all year long if my husband would let me.

I’m going to try to remember my “slow down” motto through the rest of this year.  The holidays can get so rushed.  I’m going to sit back a bit and enjoy.  And I am really looking forward to sharing some of my favorite finds from this past year with you and playing a bit of catch up here on the blog.  More to come.  Cheers!

(P.S. – have you entered our giveaway this week yet?  There is still time!)

 

Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack

 

 

10 easy diy party decor ideas

10 easy diy party decor ideas

You know we all love a party over here on Sunny Slide Up!  Since we are celebrating our birthday, I thought it was only appropriate to gather some easy DIY party decor ideas.   Check out our Pinterest board “Party On” for even more great ideas!

 

10 Easy DIY Party Decor Ideas

1. DIY Tissue Paper Tassel Garland – Creative Bag

diy tissue paper garland

 

2. DIY Ribbon Chandelier – Every Last Detail

diy ribbon chandelier

3. DIY Metallic Stroke Balloons – Design Love Fest

diy mettalic balloons

4. DIY Blooming Letters – Urbanic Paper

diy blooming letters

5. DIY Paper Chain Background – Floridian

diy paper chain bakcground

6. DIY Spray Painted Metal Folding Chairs – The Moon and Me

spray paint metal folding chairs

7. DIY – Pom Pom Branches – Wayaiulandia

Pom Pom Party Branches DIY

8. DIY Number (or Letter) Photo Display – Just Imagine 

diy number or letter photo display

9. DIY Sidewalk/Driveway Party Art – Guerrilla Weddings

DIY Sidewalk Driveway Party Art

10.  Washi Tape Everything! – I Heart Nap Time

25-fabulous-uses-for-washi-tape

You know how I love washi tape so much.

I’m in the mood to throw a party now!  Speaking of parties, we are throwing one big party here on Sunny Slide Up for the month of October as our blog turns 2!  Be sure to keep a lookout for giveaways all month long!

SSSU_Birthday_Giveaways

Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack