Friday, December 20, 2013

What I've Been Up To...

I'm pregnant! 

It's been a pretty crazy few months which is why I've been a little slow on the blog.  My life has been turned upside down with a crazy toddler and having very bad morning sickness.  It's been a struggle to even get through the normal day-to-day when I'm so sick.  But now that I'm in second trimester, things are starting to calm down.  The other big change is that I've been in transition to a new job!  I'm still at the same company and still doing graphic design, but I've switched to product design and product management.  The last few months have been a big blur to me, but I hope to have my life back to normal very soon.

As always, feel free to read my baby blog where I post way too many photos of my son and my pregnancy-related stories as things progress.

I wish all of you and your families a wonderful holiday!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Low Fat, Sweet Banana Bread

 They're healthy, they taste good, and they're super cheap. But I hate how they go bad so quickly! If I have very ripe bananas that I haven't eaten yet, I hate to throw them away. That's why I make banana bread!

Adapted from here


• non-stick cooking spray
• 2 eggs
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1 T brown sugar
• 2 ripe bananas
• 1/4 c applesauce
• 1/3 c skim milk
• 1 t vegetable oil
• 1 t vanilla
• 1 3/4 c flour
• 2 t baking powder
• 1/2 t baking soda
• 1 t cinnamon
• 1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy. Add liquid ingredients in and mix well.

In another bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Combine with liquid ingredients.

Pour batter into bread pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until inside is completely baked.

Fabulous! I love it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Healthy Zucchini Raisin Bread

I avoided buying a food processor for years.  I hate having too many appliances clutter up the kitchen and I feel like they never get used enough.  But after struggling without one for way too long, I finally gave in.  I actually bought it with this recipe in mind and I was really impressed with how amazing it worked!  I had no idea how easy it would be to shred zucchini!  My goal is to use the food processor at least a few times a year, so this is a good start!

Adapted from Healthy Seasonal Recipes

(Makes 2 loaves)
• non-stick cooking spray
• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 4 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 3.5 cups shredded zucchini (I used four zucchinis in a food processor to make this much)
• 1 pound zucchini, shredded (about 3 ½ cups)
• 3/4 cup rolled oats
• 1 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray.

3. In a large bowl, whisk flours, spices, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4.  Mix in eggs, oil, honey, vanilla, and zucchini. Add in the pats and raisins and stir gently.

5.  Pour mixture into loaf pans and bake for about 50 minutes or until baked throughout.  (I also made one batch in a 9x9 pan and that only needed to bake for about 35 minutes.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Shortbread Bars

Here come the pumpkin recipes!  I'm not such a big fan of fall, but I do love me some pumpkin!  I made these for a party recently and may or may not have consumed all the leftovers myself very quickly!  So amazing!

Adapted from All Recipes
• 1 package pound cake mix
• 3 eggs
• 2 T butter
• 4 t pumpkin pie spice (will be separated in half for 2 different parts)
• 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
• 14 oz. can of condensed milk
• 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
• pinch of salt
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, 1 egg, butter, and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.  The mixture will be crumbly and that's perfect.  Press onto the bottom of a 9x13 pan coated with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In another large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, condensed milk, 2 eggs, pumpkin puree, the rest of the pumpkin pie spice, and salt.  The original recipe suggests using a mixer, but it worked just fine to use my husband instead!

3. Pour liquid mixture over the crust.  Sprinkle pecans on the top.

4. Bake for 35 minutes or until set.  Store in the refrigerator and serve chilled.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Toddler Spider Handprint Halloween Craft

It's been too long since we've done a fun craft with Connor.  As I started getting ready for Halloween, I came across this idea for spider handprints and I thought he'd really like it.  He's really into spiders right now, so this fit perfect with the holiday!

As usual, we do a lot of our painting in the bathtub so we can clean up easily.  Daddy helped paint his hands black with acrylic craft paint.

I held his hands down for each handprint.

A couple days later, once the paint was dry, Connor used glue to add some googly eyes to the spider.

I added some cute "Happy Halloween" messages, a date, and his name to each one.

I love how each one is a little different and has its own character!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chickpea Mac & Cheese

We were just joking last night that are house runs on love, laughter, and mac & cheese.  Everyone loves mac & cheese and it always gets gobbled up quickly!  I never hesitate to try a new mac & cheese recipe, especially one with hidden healthy stuff inside! This was my latest dinner creation and we loved it!

Adapted from Current Mom
• 1 ½ cups pasta (Connor picked out this curly pasta and it worked really well to hold the cheese)
• 1 cup skim milk
• 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
• 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (we used low fat)
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/8 tsp garlic powder
• 1/8 tsp paprika

Cook pasta in a large pot according to box directions and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, puree the chickpeas in a food processor until smooth.

Pour the pureed chickpeas and milk into a small pot over medium heat.  Stir until smooth (about 2 minutes).

Add the cheese, salt, garlic powder, and paprika and mix well until the cheese melts.

Pour the cooked pasta back into the large pot and pour in the chickpea mixture.

Mix well and serve.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Finished Basement Theater Room Reveal

This room has been a work in progress for about 1.5 years.  When we bought our house, the basement was unfinished and we just threw all our crap down there.

In July of 2011, when I was 8 months pregnant, we had a bad storm and our basement flooded.  We had about a foot of water and we lost a lot of old memories and things we saved.  After the flood, we learned our lesson about storing things in cardboard boxes and we invested in some heavy duty shelves and totes.

The shelves were the beginning of our new finished basement design and we slowly started working on it.  I am very proud to say that my husband completed this whole job by himself over about 18 months.  It was a LOT of hard work and I tried to help as much as I could (or help by babysitting Connor) while he was working. 

Here are the stairs before we started.

The basic plan was to have the heavy duty shelves on the side and then create an L-shaped storage area that circled around to the back of the room.  The storage area would hold the random crap, the storage totes, furnace, electrical box, and other various things that could be hidden.  The rest of the room was converted into a theater room/man cave/play area for us to enjoy.  The technology and the electronic aspects were designed by the husband and then I chose most of the decorations, colors, furniture, etc.

So after 18 months of hard work, I present to you the new finished basement!

I asked for some small cubbies in the stairway for extra storage and I love how they turned out.

Walk down the stairs and this is what you see...

I'm not usually a fan of leather furniture, but I felt it was the best choice with a toddler and a husband who likes to snack.  The patterned pillows I made make it a little softer and more warm.

The husband requested that we hang some manly theater-type art, so I searched for awhile until I found these theater art pieces from Hobby Lobby.

The screen was my husband's special project.  We have a projector hanging from the ceiling that projects onto the 95 inch screen.  The screen is painted on the wall using a special paint called Silver Screen which is supposed to be the perfect hue for a screen on the wall.  The cabinet was another difficult purchase as we had to find something that fit perfectly in the space and would hold all the equipment.  By making a few alterations to the cabinet once we got it home, we were able to make it work in the room.

The door to the left of the screen is for a little room that holds the sump pump and back-up emergency sump pump.  Hopefully, we will never have to deal with a flood again!

This area isn't as pretty, but it's the computer/gaming area for the husband.  I added my touch with a few baby photos to remind him who's upstairs while he plays!

Here's a better view of the projector on the ceiling and the surround speakers on the walls.

It's pretty amazing to see how this room was transformed in a short time and was all done by us!  From this mess... this amazing room!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

Love me some sweet potatoes! What's better than a sweet vegetable? Unfortunately, we've had bad luck with making these at home and they always turn out with too much spice. I finally got the guts to try them again when I came across a new recipe that looked good.

Adapted from What's Gaby Cooking


• 2 large sweet potatoes
• 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
• 2 t garlic salt
• 2 t paprika
• 1 t salt
• 1 t pepper
• 2 T olive oil
(If you're not big on spices, I would cut back a little on these.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Use a vegetable peeler to take the skin off the potatoes. Using a sharp knife, cut the sweet potato into very thin slices.

Pour all the slices into a large bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well with your hands.

Once all slices are coated evenly, spread onto lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and light brown.

So good! This recipe is a keeper!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pasta with Sausage and Butternut Squash

If you are looking for a new and unique recipe for your family, I definitely recommend you try this.  We absolutely loved it in our house and we'll be making it again soon!  It's a great way to add some veggies and protein into your pasta for a well-balanced meal.

Find the recipe at Good Housekeeping here.  The two adjustments I made were that I used veggie pasta, so it had even more veggies in it and turkey sausage to make it a little healthier.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Doors & Gallery Wall Reveal

This has been a 2 year project that has taken many, many hours more hours than we ever planned.  All we originally wanted to do was decorate the nursery when I found out I was pregnant and then it turned into an entire house makeover!

The original thought was just to update the 70s features of the house like the nasty, orange-y doors white 6-panel doors.

As usual, our plan quickly turned into a lot more work as we realized that we should probably put up new white trim too.  If we're going to replace doors, we should probably do all 26, plus some of them are custom sizes so they need to be ordered.  If we do 6-panel doors, we probably should get new closet doors too, right?  So that's 4 more closets to add to the list!

So if we're going to do all that work, we might as well just paint the main hallways upstairs to something pretty to make all those new white doors and trim stand out instead of that stark white that was there when we bought the house.

So because we do everything ourselves and never pay anyone to help, these projects take months...and months...and months!  Plus, we had a newborn...and then toddler to take care of at the same time.  We ended up chosing this pretty sage green for the hallway because we liked the way it made the white trim stand out, and it's wasn't too bold or boring.

My favorite part is at the end when I get to decorate!  Bare walls were just not cutting it and I looked for wall art that appealed to me for months.  So instead, I decided to do a family gallery wall with photos showing off my little guy.  He also LOVES to walk by and look at the photos, so it's a great way to help him learn to say the names of everyone in our family.

It took me a few months to gather enough frames from random thrift stores and clearance sections, and then I spraypainted and/or hand-painted them in several different colors.  (The whole color scheme took me way to long to decide on!)

The final result is so much brighter and more fun!
Instead of hanging the frames right on the wall, I chose to hang wall shelves so I could switch out the frames and move things around any time I wanted.

This is the 12 month baby collage form the photos I took every month of Connor's first year.  You can see more details here.

I'm still working on perfecting the area, but it's a great start compared to where we were a couple years ago!

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