Saturday, December 31, 2011

Banana Muffins

One of my baking specialities is banana bread or banana muffins. My DH requests this ALL the time and even the kids can't get enough. We are having a New Year's Day brunch so I figured, what better to share than my uber delicious banana muffins!

2 cups flour (1 cup white, 1 cup whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separte bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and bananas. Add your flour mixture. At this point you can either put in a 9x5 greased loaf pan or make 12 muffins with a small loaf or right around 24 muffins.

For larger loaf bake 60-65 minutes
For muffins bake 23-27 minutes
For small loaf bake 30-35 mintues

Here's my number one tip when making this recipe. Don't use the full 2 1/3 cups of bananas, add some applesauce. I generally do 2/3 cups applesauce and the rest mashed bananas. Otherwise it is just too much banana going on.

Linking up to Thirty Handmade Days and Muffin Mondays

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Phew! It's over ...

I wish I would've taken a picture of my living room, kitchen, bedrooms, etc this weekend. Every room looked like Santa's sleigh exploded all through our house! We have piles of gifts, boxes and wrapping paper EVERYWHERE. I'm not sure that my house has had as much TLC as I have given it over this past weekend. The dead Christmas tree has been taken out (leaving a nice trail of needles along the way), the floor has been swept and mopped multiple times (I decided to drop the glass jar of applesauce on Christmas morning) and toys have been picked up, moved, picked up again and so on about 10 times a piece. I enjoy spending time with family on Christmas, but I'm just not a fan of the aftermath of it all. I think it's safe to say we might have everything back to normal around New Years Day. Now to work on finishing up my Twelve by 2012 list!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

EXPIRED! Old Navy! $10 for $20!

It's baaack! Groupon is again offering $20 worth of goodies from Old Navy for only $10! Get yours now! I picked up the last one and got A and J new pajamas for Christmas. Since the pajamas were on sale for $10 a piece all I had to pay was tax!

Reminder: I'm a part of the Groupon affiliate program so when you purchase from one of my links, I get paid.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wrap it up!

I've been busy wrapping up all our Christmas presents. It seems like the pile grows each year and this year was no exception. I made it one of my goals to add a personal touch to each gift I give this year. I started by buying things that I knew people would enjoy and that fit their personality. I did some buying on Etsy (keychains & custom prints) and searched all the sales for the best deals. With so many people to buy for you can easily hit the point of spending too much on all the presents. I created a couple jar recipes gifts for the sitter and family friends since I know everyone enjoys homemade cookies. I feel like I accomplished this goal ... now to watch them all open their gifts on Christmas!

If you are still in need of some wrapping ideas/tips/tricks/or what not here's some cool ones I've found recently.
Simple red and white accents [source]
Wrapped in maps [source]
Fabric ribbon accents [source]

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oatmeal Chunk Cookies (in a jar!)

I love making up jar recipes to give to neighbors, the baby sitter or anyone you want to show your appreciate towards without spending a lot of money. I've done these for years from soups to brownies, but this year I came up with a recipe of my own.

Oatmeal Chunk Cookies

Layer in the wide mouth canning jar in this order
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chunks
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar

Add a tag with the following directions
You'll need:
1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the jar ingredients with wet ingredients. You may need to use your hands to get it all incorporated. Create 1 1/2 inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes in a 350* oven. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Linking up to Thirty Handmade Days

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Cookies!

Every year I get together with my MIL and SIL and we bake cookies. I'm not talking about a batch of cookies ... we are talking about TONS of cookies. All different kinds, shapes, ingredients, etc. It has become our tradition since DH and I got our first apartment together (I was still in high school!). Here's a couple pictures of last year's baking.


Yes we are slightly crazy, ok really crazy. Well Sunday was our day ... Christmas cookie day. We gather all our recipes (some I found and have been pinning for weeks), the ingredients, the aprons, the kids and whatever else we may need and get to baking. Bear with me as I try to get all the descriptions in ...
From the top ... snickerdoodles, chocolate crackles, orange crackles and corn flake wreaths
From the top left ... chocolate pretzel bark, oreo lollipops, chocolate covered wheat thins, chocolate dream bars & chocolate/peanut bars
Bottom row ... modified version of the chocolate bark, peanut butter cookie cups, buckeye bars, brownie pops and buckeyes (we got tired of dipping so some are left plain)
Sadly, not everything was a success ... we attempted the incredibly easy holiday candy, but it only made it as far as the trash can. I'm not sure what we did wrong, but it was gross. I mean really gross. 

If you want any recipes from the stuff above, let me know and I'll do my best to put some up. Happy holiday baking!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Check it off the list (x3)!

Recently I've been productive on the Twelve by 2012 list ... Here's a quick run down of what all I accomplished!
  • Few hours at the spa -- check! I got a facial and manicure at the Woodhouse Day Spa.
  • Friday night DH and I went out for sushi (remember my love for sushi?) on a little date night with his cousin and wife, plus we did a little Christmas shopping. YAH!
I hate cell phone camera photos, but hey what are you going to do?!
  • I picked up a copy of Vogue and thoroughly enjoyed it with my Diet Coke by my side :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas shopping on Etsy

I've been meaning to post about this for a couple of weeks, but I'm a little behind.
I started on my Christmas shopping since it will be here before we know it. I've always have a tough time deciding what to do for my three step-sisters. You see, we didn't become step-sisters until about 5 years ago so we never lived in the same house or had to really become sisters. I consider them my friends ... we are all very close in age so it works for us. 
A couple months ago I got a Heartsy offer for an Esty shop, Tesoro Jewelry, and knew I couldn't pass it up. Jessica's stuff is super cute and totally affordable! I found a set of three key chains (all which could be custom designed!) and went to work planning my gifts. I picked a font that best fit the style of each of my sisters (they are all VERY different!). The process was super easy and in less than a week the key chains arrived at my door. I couldn't be happier!

I got the Heartsy shopping bug again last month, too. I decided on a certificate to MursBlanc. This time I got something for myself (hey I need presents too!) and a gift for my step-sister and her husband. I can't wait to get these in the mail!
Gift for myself, I asked to have the background changed to blue or grey to match our bedroom.
Print I chose for my step sister & her hubby
All I will need to do is get some frames and I'll be set. This is shaping up to be a pretty great Christmas after all!

Best of all, this counts towards one of my Twelve by 2012 goals -- add a personal touch to every gift I give.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dedicated to my pile

Do you ever acquire a bunch of books, patterns, ideas, pins, etc and then never do any of it? I get a lot of pattern books from work and they end up piling up and never being used. It's a shame really. I get many of these before they are even released for sale. So really ... I could be making these fabulous creations before anyone else. Yet, there they sit ... waiting to be used. I've decided to dedicate this post to all the books and patterns that are laying around my house ... just waiting.
The Colette Sewing Handbook -- the latest addition to my collection. I've had this for at least a month.
Little Green Dresses -- I actually won this back in August, but all I've done is flip through it.
Growing Up Sew Liberated -- Another book that I received WAY before its release, but it still sits in the pile
Card Table Playhouse -- I've had this pattern since early summer, all I did was open it.

Which one should I attempt first? They've all been sitting for so long that I don't know what to choose first. I'm thinking something from Sew Liberated or the card table playhouse since both would make great winter boredom busters for my girls. Oh the choices!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

1 down, 11 to go!

I can officially check one thing off my Twelve by 2012 list! We took a mini vacation this weekend. We visited my DH's uncle and aunt in Indianapolis. We spent Saturday at the Children's Museum and as usual had a blast.
A and J in the Egypt section
On Sunday we went downtown and walked along the canal. I had never been there before, but it was truly amazing!

Under the bridges there were murals from a variety of different artists.

A admiring the huge fish painted on the wall
The kids enjoyed looking at the paintings and of course feeding the ducks.

J feeding the ducks
We had an awesome time in Indy and can't wait to go back next spring or summer!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Homemade Holiday

Have you seen the super cute Homemade Holiday book from Ruche?! I'm in love ... so many cute ideas! Check it out!
[view it here]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Not just any ordinary caramel apple...

These are the best caramel apples EVER! Huge Granny Smith apples, covered in caramel and then milk or dark chocolate. And then you can have it topped off with nuts. It is simply heaven!
Do you see all the caramel and chocolate layered on that apple?! These fall must-haves can be found at DeBrand Fine Chocolates. And don't worry if there isn't a store near you because they ship! My co-worker just surprised us with a milk chocolate version and we split it among 6 people. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! Are you still here reading this? Because you should be ordering one for yourself!

Images from DeBrand website

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Twelve by 2012

I saw this over on August Empress who found it over on oh hello, friend and decided it was a cute idea. Plus why not make another to-do list!
1. Take a mini vacation (just get out of town for a couple of days) DONE!
2. Make one of my homemade apple pies (no pre-made anything goes into this bad boy -- it's the real deal!)
3. Organize the craft/computer/kid's play room
4. Treat myself to a few hours at the spa DONE!
5. Add a personal touch to every Christmas gift I give DONE!
6. Go on a date with my DH DONE!
7. Have movie night with the family, complete with Chinese take-out
8. Buy a Vogue and drool over the things I can't afford DONE!
9. Get a budget in place for next year so we can afford to replace the air conditioner and pay off my DH's truck, oh and probably do some redecorating!
10. Break J of her sucky (aka pacifier) habit
11. Exercise more often
12. Finish my strip quilt

What do you want to do before 2012?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The worst...

... is having a sick kid! I normally carpool to work 2 days a week (since it's just shy of 100 miles round trip) and today would've normally been one of those days. My carpool partner had parent/teacher conferences and couldn't drive with me today and thank goodness! Just as I'm ready to take my lunch break DH calls me frantically to let me know that J has been puking all morning and he can't leave work to go get her. Perfect. A sick kid, tons of work to be done and even more plans for the next few days! I guess we will spend the rest of the day deciding how sick she is, will she get A sick and who gets to stay home from work tomorrow?! I think I just convinced A & J that it was nap time so maybe I can crank some work out before they wake up. Here's to a better weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm a River City Rat!

I successfully completed my first 5K yesterday at the River City Rat Race! It was an awesome day for a race. The sun was shinning and it was in the upper 50s/low 60s ... glorious! This will definitely be a race I run again next year.
Before the race

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Style ... or lack of

Do you ever get to the point where you don't like anything in your wardrobe? I feel like I stand at my closet and look through all my clothes and think "I have nothing to wear". I seem to wear the same thing every day to work and then on the weekends I really don't have anything that doesn't scream "MOM CLOTHES!". I need a new style, a new direction. I feel I should have this issue ... I'm young ... doesn't that mean I am in style? According to my kids I've got beautiful and fabulous clothes, but when you ask someone other than a 4 year old ... well I could use some help. I need something practical. Let's face it, I'm not about to run around chasing my kids in 4 inch heels and I'm surely not going to the grocery store looking like I'm ready for date night with my DH. I need a good balance, a comfortable yet stylish balance. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My green bin!

You see that green bin? It brings me goodies every other Wednesday. The kids gather around and try to rip it open as fast as possible. This green bin of goodies is delivered right to my door full of fresh, locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables courtesy of Green B.E.A.N Delivery.
This week's bin consisted of:
1 green cabbage
2 lbs of ivory sweet potatoes
1 bunch of broccoli
1 lb celery hearts
1 lb baby carrots
2 granny smith apples
6 red bartlett pears
4 honeycrisp apples
1 pomegranate
1 lb bananas
1 lb red grapes

Wanna know the best thing ... it only cost me $31.50! A normal (small) produce bin is $35 (still an awesome price!), but I follow them on Twitter and they ran a little contest this past week. It took me two minutes to submit them a link to my blog and they gave me 10% off my bin! (I love discounts!!) Well maybe the price isn't the best thing ... seeing these happy faces when they get to pick something out of the bin is pretty great too!
If Green B.E.A.N delivers to your house I highly recommend signing up. Be sure to tell them I sent you (then I'll get another discount!)

Etsy Browsing ...

I have a bad habit. I frequent Etsy shops during work and make up dream wish lists. Here's some of my favorites from this week ...
Personalized beach pebbles 
Bird Photograph
Distressed Sign
Half Apron

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zoo Day

Posing with the orangutan statue
A climbing through the tree house
J next to the safari jeep

Friday, October 7, 2011

Halloween Art

I got out the paint and canvas again last night went to work on some new Halloween decorations. I wanted something that will last for years to come. I got my Pick Your Plum order last night (tin signs that came in orange, black and white) and since my order got lost they included an extra set of vinyl stickers. I placed the BOO! sticker on the sign which I'm thinking I will bring to work and hang in my office area. For the canvas I put the letters down, painted over the top then peeled off the letters. I finished it off with the vinyl spider (which A chose instead of the witch's hat). All I need to do is add a hanger on the back and we are ready! Super easy and just what I needed for my decorations.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins

These are not the healthiest muffins around, but they are delicious! Perfect for a weekend breakfast or as a snack (that's how my kids eat them!) and the cinnamon and sugar topping reminds me of the doughnuts you can get at the local fall fair. Not to mention that they make your house smell AMAZING! Yum!
I slightly modified the recipe that I found at Baked Perfection.

2 cups flour (1 cup all purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used a non-milk variety for A's allergies)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 TBSP oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400*. Line muffin pan with paper cups (I also made a few minis, perfect for the kids)

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix with light strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Don't over mix; batter won't be smooth.

Divide batter among muffins cups and bake until toothpick inserted in one or two come out clean. About 12-15 minutes.

While muffins are baking, melt 1/2 stick butter (I used soy butter) and pace in a bowl just large enough to hold a muffin. Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a small shallow bowl. As soon as the muffins are done, dip them once at time in the melted butter and roll in the sugar mixture. {I used tongs so I didn't burn my fingers!} Set on a rack to cool.

Makes 12 standard muffins (plus maybe some minis)


Monday, October 3, 2011

Yarn Wreaths!

I apologize now for my crappy cell phone pictures. I really need to just get use to taking pictures with my digital camera and uploading them.
My completed yarn wreath!

I made it for my mom's birthday, it will be hard to give it away

Felt flowers