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 

February 18, 2017

Quick and Easy Number Matching Game for Toddlers

Hello everyone and happy weekend! How quick is this year going? I can't believe it's almost the end of February, it's like I blinked and a month flew by. But I'd rather a winter month disappear quickly than a summer month. Fingers crossed we only have two or so months left until we start to see spring.

Back in January I shared an alphabet matching game for Valentine's Day (which you can find here), and I mentioned that I had leftover Bristol board that I had a plan for. Well today I am sharing what you can make with a small piece of Bristol board and a few minutes of your time.

I thought that numbers would be a good compliment to the alphabet, though Braxton is becoming such an old pro at these I might have to get creative and start with some different learning tools.

I traced the square ten times onto the Bristol board, then traced the star inside the square in a pattern. I used my trusty paint pens in blue, green and purple. Then I used a stencil to add the number to the board and the pieces of foam in black paint pen.

For this matching game I used foam shapes that I had on hand from a project that went bust a few years ago, and I thought they would work perfectly. I mentioned using foam pieces with the alphabet matching game as well. Ideally I would have had ten of one shape, but alas I only had six. So I got creative and made the game a little more challenging, hopefully. At least it looks pretty.

Braxton loved this one too and again needed no direction. He had a little more fun bending the foam shapes and adding them to the puzzle, and some of the shapes got quite ruffled. It is such a great exercise that gets their minds working, even if they know how to count to ten.

This was another inexpensive project that took zero money and little time, and it gives Braxton something new to play with and think about. And once Kaley gets a little older she can start to play with it as well. The foam will stand up to little hands so much better than paper or card stock, so definitely go for foam if you have the option.

This is a great way to kill some time during the winter months where everyone gets so restless, including mom and dad. Give this a try and let me know how it turns out!


Linking to:
Tatertots and Jello - BFF Link Party 2/17/17
eighteen25 - Show and Tell #15
Gingersnap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #287  
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday 2/23/17

February 14, 2017

Basment Hallway Flooring Update - Two Years Later

Hello everyone, and Happy Valentine's day. We didn't really do anything special as far as treats go for the kids this year. Braxton doesn't like anything sweet and we are trying to give Kaley a minimum amount because of that. So we kinda skipped the goodies part this year, and I;m sure their teeth will thank us. But remember, tomorrow all the candy will be half off! Best part in my books.

I decided to write about how well the flooring that we put down in the basement hallway has held up over the last two years. Two of the top posts on this blog are how we spray painted our counter tops and how well our spray painted counter tops have held up. Since this is a very similar situation, I thought it would be worth sharing.

In case you can't check out the original post about the hallway, here's a reminder of the hallway when we finished our basement renovation in 2014.

We used peel and stick vinyl flooring hoping that this would be a better solution to carpet and tile. We did not want carpet because our Bernese mountain dog (Motley) likes to lay at the bottom of the stairs and we knew that it would be a gathering spot for hair. As well as the cats spend time in the laundry room and tend to leave us hairballs in this area too. So carpet was out, and we didn't want tile because we thought it would be too cold on our feet. This is similar to what we purchased.

Well after just over two years, I have to say we are very sad that the floor did not last at all. The flooring has been destroyed between the largeness of Motley and it being a very high traffic area. The kids and I spend about half of our day downstairs, and when they go to bed Luis and I hang out in the rec room.

As you can see there are sections all over the flooring where the facing of the flooring has peeled right off. There are quite a few spots in this one area at the bottom of the stairs, which is Motley's favourite place to sleep when we are in the basement. His nails just rip the facing right off the base and then the traffic rips it further.

When this happens we usually just cut the raised portion off the floor, if it doesn't fall right off itself, and hope that it doesn't rip any further. Usually it does stop ripping any further, but we have put a remnant carpet (from the rec room) where Motley lays hoping to stop anything further.

And this is just a portion of the missing flooring. There is some in the bathroom and a large portion in the doorway to the laundry room. We figure the traffic of us going in and out started a rip and the cats finished it off one night when they were bored. 

After all of this my opinion is that this flooring is either not meant to withstand a 120 pound dog continuously walking on it or not great for areas with high traffic. I would definitely opt for tile if you have the option, it is not that much more expensive and will probably last you a much longer time.

We will be ripping this out and replacing it with tile when we can because the tile flooring will be an improvement as far as we are concerned. This flooring is cold on the feet as well, so that's not an issue anymore. And it looks terrible now with all these rips, so anything would be an improvement

Hopefully I was able to help you guys make a more informed decision regarding peel and stick vinyl flooring. If someone has had a great experience I would love to know, maybe we chose wrong or installed it wrong (though we followed the instructions perfectly).


Linking to:
eighteen25 - Show and Tell #14 
Ginger Snap Crafts - Wow Me Wednesday #286 
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday #114 
Tatertots and Jello - BFF Link Party 2/17/17 
Naptime Creations - Create, Link, Inspire 2/27/17