September 13, 2017

Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Hello everyone! What a crazy few weeks it's been here, my baby (not really a baby, but he's my baby) started school a few weeks ago and it has been a crazy adjustment for all of us. Kaley wanders around the house looking for him most of the day and seems pretty confused as to where he is hiding, but the smiles when he finally comes home are too sweet!

But today is the day! I am FINALLY sharing the recipe for the Zucchini Lemon Poppy seed Bread I made and shared back in June on Instagram with you guys! Sorry that it has taken so long, life just got in the way.

I found the recipe on good old Pinterest from Fabulously Frugal and it was easy enough to make, considering the work it is to grate zucchini. I made one large loaf instead of mini loaves and chose not to put the glaze on from the original recipe. Next time I do want to try the mini loaves for the simple fact that I think they are adorable and would be the cutest little gifts for people.

Zucchini Lemon Poppyseed Bread  (adapted from Fabulously Frugal)                     

3 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup butter, melted an cooled
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp poppy seeds
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (that's all I got from my lemons)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper.

2. Grate zucchini, then wring out in paper towels or clean dish towel to remove excess moisture. Set aside.

3. Whisk dry ingredients together in small bowl (flour, baking powder and poppy seeds). In a large separate bowl  mix the eggs and sugar. Add zucchini, butter, zest and juice. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture until combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

4. Bake 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before removing. Turn cake onto rack and let another 30 minutes before eating or let cool completely before storing.

And honestly guys, I really don't think it needed the glaze at all! This bread was a hit both with Luis and I and when I brought it to work. The bread was just sweet enough with the delicious hints of lemon and the yummy poppy seeds. I love poppy seeds, and this is probably my favourite flavour combination.

So if you find yourself with some zucchini and the energy to bake, you should try this bread. You will not be disappointed! And if you're in the mood for something chocolatey, check out my zucchini brownies. Another recipe that doesn't disappoint.


September 8, 2017

The Story of How We Almost Didn't Move.....

Hello again, welcome back! I feel like I am never going to catch up with all the things I have to share with you guys, it's almost funny (and not the ha-ha kind of funny). I still have a few things from the old house that I am not sure if I am going to share or not, we will have to see what happens. It seems likes such a waste not to share, but then there is so much new going on that I don't know if I will have time. First world problems over here.

Today I am sharing the story of how we almost didn't move and actually moved four days later than expected. This will just be a quick, cautionary story for you guys about how you should never close two houses on the same day. We were told that this really wasn't THAT big of a deal prior to everything, but guys.... trust me. Don't do this.

 (Our First House)

We were set to close our old house (first house) on July 7th and use that sale to buy our current house (new house) on July 7th as well.  Prior to moving day Luis and I moved anything that wasn't being used on a daily basis into a storage unit, so that on moving day it would just be furniture and essentials. We had an extremely tight timeline, but thought we could do it. We rented a truck and had a ton of people help us move everything into it by lunch time.

We started to get antsy around 3pm when we hadn't heard anything from our lawyer and called him. This is where we were told that somehow the financing from our buyer was rejected and they would not be able to get the keys to our new house that day and that the sale was now in question. Guys, I have never been so scared and upset in my whole life.

We decided to leave everything where it was and stay with my parents for the weekend, leaving the animals in the empty house and going over a few time a day to let the dogs out and feed them all. Luis and I took the Monday off work, had our helpers meet us at the old house after lunch and waited. And waited. And waited. At 4:45 I drove over to the lawyers office and started to cry in the reception area while waiting to talk to our lawyer because we still didn't have word on if we would be getting the keys or not.

 (Our New House)

We got the keys at 5:01pm on July 10th and had the entire truck and storage unit unloaded by 7:00pm that night. I can't even tell you how hard our friends worked that day for us. Oh, and did I mention that both of the kids and myself had fevers and a really (REALLY) bad cold? Yeah, it was a good time and I was pretty much useless for that part of the move.
Apparently the credit union that our buyer used is notorious for not checking paperwork and not getting things submitted on time. It ended up working out quickly for us, but this little hiccup ended up affecting 6 families total because the people we were buying from had to stall the purchase of their new house.  And so, and so on, for 4 more families. Such a crazy and scary thing to happen, and as we were going through it everyone just kept saying "the chances of this happening are so small" and "it's always a possibility, but I've never actually had this happen". Not very helpful people.

So moral of the story? Don't close two house on the same day. Bridge your mortgages if you can, and if you can't see if you can crash somewhere until you get the keys to you new house. This was my public service announcement that will hopefully save someone from having a mental breakdown in front of all of their friends and family.


September 2, 2017

A New House Means a New Kitchen

Hello everyone! It's been almost two months and we are finally getting settled and are feeling like this is our house. We are about 99% done unpacking what we need to and the rest can stay in storage for now. It's been a crazy year so far, and I think this whole family is ready to slow down a touch. You know, before the crazy of school starting and the double birthday/Christmas season in December starting.

Today I have some pictures of our new kitchen to share with you guys, and it's about time. I have been trying to get everything perfect before showing anyone, including friends and family, and I decided a few weeks ago that I need to get over that feeling. Honestly, it's going to take years to make this house even close to perfect in my head, and I want to wait that long to show people.

This is the main hub of the kitchen, which was done within the last five years according to the listing.

What an improvement from our last house, am I right? It's definitely not the finishes I would have chosen, but everything is nice and new. The cabinets aren't painted plywood and the counter-top isn't spray painted so it's really a win in anyone's book. Trust me, I can live with this for a long time before needing to do anything major to update it or change the finishes.

Directly across from the sink is the fridge and more counter space and storage, which was a huge problem for us in our first house. Guys, I can actually have the microwave, coffee machine and my mixer out at the same time!

And in the bottom left of the above picture you can see our gorgeous pocket door, that I am in love with. I honestly didn't even know about it until after we bought the house and were doing our final walk through. But, I am so happy that it's there! We had a pocket door separating the kitchen from the entrance in the last house and I always loved it. And the fact that it has glass is even better, because it doesn't make the dark cabinets turn the kitchen into a cave when it's shut.

Above is another angle of the fridge side of the kitchen from the our table, which is an eat-in area in the kitchen. It shows all the storage we have, which again has been amazing. I still get lost when looking for things though, hopefully that will pass soon!

And you can see the entire kitchen from the den, which is great for entertaining! We had friends and family over a few weeks ago and it was so nice to be able to be in the kitchen making food and drinks and still be able to talk to everyone. I am standing in the den in the below picture, and it's so easy to pass things over the railing too.

Well, that's it! That's our new and improved kitchen guys, what do you think? We already have ideas for future renovations for the kitchen, including knocking the peninsula and upper cabinets over it out and expanding the kitchen into and eliminating the eat in area. But that is way down the list of things that we need to do. This is the most functional room in the house, as well as the most updated.

But it's always nice to think of ways you would change your house to really make it your own.


August 21, 2017

Front Yard Mini Makeover

Hi everyone, thanks for sticking with me while we take this crazy whirlwind of deciding to move and being in a new house within five months. It has been so crazy around here that all we are managing to do is unpack and clean. Shortly before we moved I started back at work part-time and Braxton started going to a summer camp as well, so that has just added to the crazy.

I wanted to take a few minutes to show you guys a small update that we made to the front of the house since we moved in. If you saw the announcing post here, then you saw that there was a crazy bush with a mind of it's own in the front. Well, after 3 months with the sellers not touching anything it was a jungle everywhere outside.

This is what we moved into, noticed the actual tree growing within inches of the foundation at the right of the house and the half dead bush in front of the entrance.

Seriously, seeing that was so overwhelming. It bummed us out to see how the sellers didn't do any maintenance at the house because we kept up with our house for our buyers. Here is a better view of the side of the house that leads to the front steps and entrance area, with the lovely half dead bush.

But there is nothing that can be done about it! So we had Luis' dad drop his trailer off and Luis got to work. After a few hours of hard labour in the summer heat, Luis managed to make our house appear. We cut down all of the trees and bushes that were on the right side of the house, as well as trimmed the large bush at the far left of the house. 

Guys! It looks so much better! It's amazing the difference that can be made when you remove (or transplant, if possible) the wrong type of plant to help landscape your house to accent it's best features. The tree and bush that we removed were making the house seem much smaller than it was, as well as making the house too heavy compared to the garage. It didn't balance very well at all.

We are still a LONG way from being done, but the house already looks so much better and we love being able to actually look out the windows at the front. In the spring I have quite a bit of transplanting to do both in the front yard and the back yard, as well as buying some new plants to replace the ones we had to remove.

I can't wait to extend the gardens and add some texture to the front garden, and well as remove all the crazy rocks that are hidden everywhere. Can you believe all those rocks in the picture above were hidden by that giant dead-ish bush? It looks like Luis has some more back breaking work to do in the spring.

Like I said, it was a small makeover that made a huge impact. I can't wait to start designing and share some more progress with you guys!


June 23, 2017

The Best Blueberry Muffins (Ever)

Hi there everyone! Holy has this ever been a crazy couple of months, pretty much since we made the decision to move back in early March. And I also have gone back to work part time this month, which was unexpected and has added a whole new level of crazy. With all of these happenings, I've got quite the backlog of pictures that I am going through, so bear with me!

To get through some of the pictures I have ready to go, today I want to share the best blueberry muffin recipe. I found this on Pinterest a few months ago when we had an overload of blueberries and didn't want to waste them. Seriously guys, these were so good! Moist, rich and the perfect amount on sweetness.

The original recipe is here and they were pretty easy to make, you definitely don't need to be a seasoned baker to make delicious blueberry muffins. Though I will say that my streusel topping was more like a glaze than a crumbly topping (as the original recipe had), even following the directions. Not sure where the error was, but they came out fantastic!

We shared them with some family members and they were devoured within hours of delivery. Always a compliment! I like when baked goods get eaten fast and don't sit around for days, it makes the effort worth it sometimes. And it's always great to be able to share your baked goods so you don't have to toss them or eat them all yourself!!!

A few weeks later I made these again and tweaked the streusel to make sure it was like the original recipe, and I have to say we liked the glaze a little bit more. So sometimes baking fails can become happy accidents that work out  better than you plan. This just shows that you should never be afraid to try a new recipe!

Now you can grab some blueberries and make some of these delicious muffins for yourself. You'll be happy when you do, pinky promise.


June 8, 2017

Big News, We're On the Move!

Hi everyone, sorry for disappearing on you for so long. It has been a crazy few months of getting things done that aren't really blog related, house maintenance and things like that. And if you follow me on Instagram you will know that we are moving from our first home!

We had to started getting this list of things done because back in March we decided that we had outgrown our current house and needed to move. The plan was to spend a few months getting the house ready and sell the house during the fall. We contacted a real estate agent to in March for a few reasons, 1. What our house was currently worth (we could guess all we want) and 2. What she suggested we do versus leave alone and not waste the time or money on. Long story short, we were plugging away at the list of things to do before we listed the house and she told us she had someone that really wanted our area and wanted to have her come through. This was only the beginning of April and we still had so much to do, but we decided that it might help narrow any problem areas for us.

We had the viewing that weekend and had an offer from them the same day at full asking price, so we accepted her offer and started our house search! Once we started, we realized that the market in our town was crazy and almost every house was being sold like ours, before it ever hits the market. We had a few weeks that were scary where we thought we would have to rent a place because we could not find anything we liked, but we ended up finding the perfect house. We didn't hesitate to put an offer in quick and buy the house, we didn't want to lose it.

Please forgive me for the terrible picture above, I realized after we got home that I never took a picture of the front of the house!! This is off of the real estate listing, and wouldn't flip to full size for some reason. As you can see, we have our work cut out for us. This house needs lots of updating, like our first house did, but we are more than ready to turn this house into something amazing.

And that's all for now! We are currently packing everything we own, which is way too much stuff, and are moving at the beginning of July. Hopefully we don't get lost in all the boxes.


March 10, 2017

Hoppy Easter Sign

Hello everyone! Happy Friday to you all.......and I am so late posting this! We've been running around trying to get so much done that I ran out of steam this week. I managed to get about two thirds of my room painted over the weekend before I ran out of paint. We tried a new brand and it does not cover as well as my beloved Behr paint, so stay tuned for an update! You know, once I buy more paint, find a day to send the kids out to their grandparents and have time to finish the last wall. But it will happen soon because I cannot stand looking at two different paint colours in one room.

Anyway, with March here it's time to start thinking about Easter. I know most people are getting ready for St. Patrick's Day and I'm not going to lie to you guys... I completely forgot about it. I was thinking that Easter was the next big thing to decorate for, oh well.

I made a quick Easter sign up to pop onto a table upstairs, just to add a little pop of colour to celebrate that spring is on the way. Which it is, even if it goes from summer to winter in two days. I used some leftover particle board and craft paint from my stash. I have used the oak veneered particle board all over the house (kid-friendly coffee table inserts; triforce tray update; bathroom drain cover), and my love for it is not running out.

I gave the whole thing a quick sand and painted the whole board with my tester of Irish Mist by Behr. I figured the layout and then I traced out the letters and pictures with pencil, though I would have liked the board to have been a bit shorter looking back. (Sorry the pencil is so hard to see in these pictures!!)

Then I used my craft brushes to paint the letter and pictures in blocks of colour, starting and finishing each colour in turn. You can see above that I started out with the bunny in yellow, then remembered that I don't really like yellow and changed it in the end. The craft paints were either used straight from the bottle or mixed with the Irish Mist to make them lighter.

I like to have all of my supplies out and available, and I use little condiment containers with lids (purchased from a local store) to help keep the paint from drying out in case I need to use more. No matter how good you think you are or how much you measure, you will probably never get the colours to match when mixing different batches. It's better to waste a bit and have some leftover than repaint everything because you can't get the colours to match later.

I probably repainted things at least twice before I was happy with the lettering and the bunny. Not going to lie, I gave up with the eggs. They were so hard to paint and really do look much better in person. It wasn't until I started editing the pictures that I realized the eggs look a little off. Again, oh well.

Sorry for the short and sweet post guys, this was planned for Tuesday and I just remembered that I forgot to write it. I wish I could say that big things are getting done, but it's pretty much all maintenance stuff that we have slacked on lately.

But at least I have an Easter sign, right? It's more Easter decor that I usually have, and bonus points because Braxton thinks it's pretty cool. I'm sure Kaley would like it if I would let her chew on it, which I won't. Have you guys started to put up any spring or Easter decor?


March 3, 2017

DIY Bathroom Drain Cover

Hello everyone and happy Friday! The weekend is here, and I am excited to get some much needed painting done. Painting is a hard job without kids being around, add a helpful toddler or two and it's basically an exercise in patience. The kids are going for a visit at their grandparents for the day tomorrow and I plan on getting a ton of stuff done. Plan being the key word.

Today I want to show you guys an easy way to cover an ugly drain pipe that can be seen when you have an open vanity in your bathroom. It is actually a really easy solution and won't take too much time or effort.

Back when we finished the basement renovation a few years ago, which included our half bathroom, we ran out of steam and left a lot of the decorative stuff for later. The bathroom sat like this for a long time and I got sick of looking at the drain pipe every time I was in there. It's not exactly the nicest thing to look at and always made the bathroom feel dirty, even though it wasn't. Maybe I'm alone in that feeling, but I thought that covering the drain while keeping it accessible would look much better.

So I asked Luis to make a cover for the drain using scrap wood from the basement renovation. He used some of the thin plywood that we have used in tons of projects (Tray update; kid safe coffee table inserts) and two pieces of 1x2 scrap wood. I told him I was going to be painting it and it would be mostly hidden so it didn't have to be beautiful.

It's nothing to call home about unfinished and sitting by itself but I knew that it would work perfectly to cover that ugly drain. So to recap, it's literally five pieces of wood that are nailed together to make a screen. We did a test fit to make sure that it wasn't too big and that it covered enough of the drain without taking up too much room. The shelf that it sits on is the main storage place for the vanity, so really don't want to lose that.

Already better. After a light sanding I grabbed the leftover wall paint (Turtle Dove by Behr) and gave it two quick coats. I didn't fill the gaps or anything crazy because I knew this was going to be almost completely covered once in place. Once dry I just put it around the drain, leaving a little clearance around the pipe. I didn't  want it to touch the pipe, just sit in front of it. Then I put our basket full of extra toilet paper rolls back in it's place. 

It looks so much better to me, almost like the drain is in the wall. And this keeps the drains fully accessible in the future so no worry about anything permanent to prevent a plumber or us from doing any work. It was such a quick and easy way to cover the ugly drain, and I love how much cleaner the bathroom looks.


February 26, 2017

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello everyone and happy Sunday! Hopefully everyone got to sleep in and was able to spend some quality time with family, friends or just relaxing. Can you do any of that for me too? Our kids are slowly boycotting sleep and they have me outnumbered. People with more than two kids, I give you props. Go you.

Today I want to share a recipe that I found on Pinterest and I thought would be perfect to use up some cream cheese that's best before date was quickly approaching. I have never made cookies with cream cheese but was definitely intrigued and thought it was worth a try.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies (original recipe)                       

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth.  Add sugars and beat until fluffy and well combined. Then add vanilla and egg and beat until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally, and between additions.

2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until combined. I found the dough didn't come together very well, it was especially dry.

3. Add in chocolate chips and stir until distributed without over mixing. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips but would definitely recommenced milk chocolate or M&M's like the original recipe. I just used what I had on hand. Chill dough for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and scoop dough onto cookie sheet with an ice cream scoop. I had to flatten them a little because they baked weird when I let them drop. Bake 8-10 minutes, then let rest on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes.

I have to say, they looked fantastic from the original recipe, but mine did not turn out as nice.  They did not spread out or crisp up at all, staying pretty much how they were dropped. And they were "soft", but extremely dry and crumbly. Not what I'm looking for in a cookie, especially a chocolate chip cookie. When I think of soft I think chewy, which I know is different, but that's what I associate with soft. These were not chewy, at all.

I want to chock this up to baker error, because they really didn't turn out that great. There was not much sweetness to the cookie, which could have been because I used a semi sweet chocolate instead of a milk chocolate. There wasn't a lot of sugar in the recipe, so pretty sure a chocolate swap would have made a big difference in the taste. I have found that some recipes make the dough a little less sweet to accommodate the chocolate in the recipe. How many times can I say chocolate in one paragraph? Holy guys.

But I can't figure out why they ended up dry and crumbly. Baker error must have been my issue. Even my tried and true freezer solution didn't work guys. They were even worse straight from the freezer, so I ended up tossing them. If I'm going to eat a cookie, it's got to be a good cookie. No half way on that.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about with my "freezer solution", just toss the cooled cookies in the freezer for a few days and then try one straight from the freezer. Guys, seriously this will change your life. The right cookie recipe will go from good to super-amazing once it come out of your freezer. You can find the cookies I recommend for this here: Chocolate Cake Cookies; Mint Chocolate Pudding Cookies and Chocolate Coconut Balls.

Has anyone made cream cheese cookies before and had them turn out? I am still really interested in the idea of cream cheese in cookies, but now I'm a little shy of trying again. Please share if you have!


Linking to:
eighteen25 - Show and Tell #16 

February 22, 2017

Apple Hand Pies

Hello, hello. Guys, I really feel like I am finding my groove with getting stuff done! Not to jinx myself but I feel like everything is finally balancing out and I am getting a touch more free time do crafts and bake. Now that Kaley is on the move she is constantly finding things to get into and this keeps her pretty occupied. And Braxton may just be the easiest kid ever, so that means more free time for Mommy!!
Recently we grabbed some store bought pie crusts because I was feeling lazy and didn't want to make pie dough for turkey pies. Silly me should have just made the pie dough because when I opened the store bought crusts they were in pieces. Literally pieces of the pie crust were no longer attached and were floating freely in the box.

So I ended up making dough for the turkey pies and was not impressed while doing it. Not wanting to waste these store bought crusts, I headed over to Pinterest to find a way to use these and I stumbled onto things called hand pies. Why have I not heard of these before!?! Completely intrigued I found a recipe to try from Cooking on the Front Burners

Apple Hand Pies (original recipe)                                          

2 pkgs. store bought pie crust (2 crusts in box)
2 1/4 cups apples, peeled and chopped very small
1 1/4 tbsp flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg (for egg wash)

1. Set out dough to thaw to room temperature. This doesn't take too long, maybe 30 minutes (you can see some of the missing crust below and all of the cracks). At the same time preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Toss apples with flour in a medium bowl until coated. Stir in sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. I used quite a bit of cinnamon because that's how we like our apple pie. Set the apple filling aside.

3. Take dough out of the pie shell and flatten on a floured surface, like your counter. Use a cookie cutter to cut circles in the pie dough, mine was a 2-inch circle and way too small. I switched to a 3-inch heart halfway through but it was still too small. Re-roll the scraps to use as much of the dough as you can, making sure that you have an even number.

4. Place dough on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Next is placing the apple filling onto the dough. I was able to get roughly 2 teaspoons on my dough circles, where the original recipe managed 2-3 tablespoons. I was able to get 2 1/2 teaspoons in my hearts. Place another dough circle over top and pinch edges together. You may have to remove some of the filling to get the dough to pinch together. Once together use a fork to flute the edges and poke the top with the fork.

5. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash and brush the tops of the pies. If you want you can top with coarse sugar, which I did with my hearts and recommend. Bake for 10 - 11 minutes, adjusting for the size of your hand pies.

Once they have cooled, roughly an hour, you can enjoy. Now I have this labelled as a baking fail because we found these to be crust heavy. I know this is because of the size of hand pies that I made, but there was barely any filling. If you like your pies like that, you are crazy. For us, they just didn't hit the mark.

These hand pies definitely need to be made with a biscuit cutter, at least 4 inches like the original recipe to get the crust to filling ratio a little more even. But that being said, the process worked beautifully, the size of the dough was 100% the problem. I also want to note that I had a ridiculous amount of filling leftover. I followed the original recipe and used 4 cups of apples, which I think would still be too much because I used four crusts where they used two.

We ended up using some vanilla ice cream leftover from Braxton's birthday and these went from a 5 out of 10 to at least an 8. So yummy with ice cream, the extra crust didn't seem so overwhelming. I will definitely be trying the recipe again with a larger cookie cutter and will let you guys know if they come out any better. Maybe even with a different filling, I saw that some people use jam. I am even more intrigued.

Have you guys ever had or made hand pies? Or like me had never heard of them before? They really are a great way to use broken store bought pie crusts, or even extra dough from pies.


Linking to:
eighteen25 - Show and Tell #15
Gingersnap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #287
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday 2/23/17 
Naptime Creations - Create, Link, Inspire 2/27/17