Monthly Archives: May 2012

Breaking in the KitchenAid Stand Mixer

Last night, I decided that it was finally time to use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  Brad and I received the mixer as a wedding gift and for about 2 months now, it has been sitting in the corner of my kitchen counter, quietly collecting dust.  I guess I was a little intimidated by the mixer because I had always done my mixing the old school way with a bowl and a wooden spoon.  The reason that I’ve been hesitant to use this specific kitchen gadget, you ask?  Well, I remember walking into my friend Kristin’s apartment one day while she was in the process of baking cupcakes.  She is an excellent cook, but every time she baked it looked like a flour bomb went off in her apartment.  I’m a total neat freak and I envisioned that the moment I switched my mixer to “on”, I would have a batter disaster.  I was surprised because what I thought would be complicated turned out to be quite easy!

“What should I bake as an excuse to use my Stand Mixer?”, I asked myself.  “I know!  The recipe for Snickerdoodle Bread that I saw on Pinterest!”

I guess what sets me apart from other “pinners” that I know is that I pin recipes and crafts that I actually intend on making.  Maybe everyone else refers to their pins to cook and craft as well, and they just don’t tell me about it?  Who knows.  I realize that Pinterest is a virtual pin board designed for inspiration (I think?), but what’s the point of inspiring yourself if you don’t plan on taking action?  I may not travel to the vacation spots or buy all of the clothes that I pin because I’m far from being a gazillionaire, but the crafting and the cooking ideas definitely inspire me to try new things!

I found this little gem – a recipe for Snickerdoodle Bread – on Lil’ Luna’s Blog.  What a treat!  I immediately knew I wanted to make this bread because Snickerdoodle cookies (specifically Snickerdoodle cookies from Tiff’s Treats ) are TO DIE FOR.  I’m talking, a melt in your mouth, buttery, cinnamony, sugary delight.  For some reason, I feel less guilty eating dessert bread than eating cookies, so that is how I can justify that this Snickerdoodle bread isn’t bad for you (nevermind the 2 sticks of butter that the recipe calls for).

So yeah, the only change I made from the recipe on Lil’ Luna’s blog was that I opted not to include cinnamon chips.  I couldn’t find cinnamon chips at the grocery store because apparently they are a seasonal item.  Luna suggested white chocolate chips or toffee chips, so I bought some white chocolate chips but used them as a pre-cooking snack instead of an ingredient.  The end result – the bread tastes just like a Snickerdoodle cookie.  I was in absolute heaven last night when I snuck a taste. 🙂  I cooked the bread in 2, 9×5 loaf pans because I don’t have mini loaf pans and the recipe suggested cooking for 60-70 minutes.  I cooked the bread right at an hour and the edges were a little crisper than I had hoped, so next time I bake this bread I will try to cook it for maybe 45-50 minutes.  Here is a picture of the deliciousness:

I have a list of craft projects that I am going to get started on next week so stay tuned for a post or two next week – Have a great day! 🙂

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Baked Oatmeal Cups – Perfect for Breakfast on the Go!

During the week, Brad and I never have time to eat a good breakfast.  On the weekends, we take advantage of having time to make breakfast tacos or omlets but weekday mornings are a different story.  We are both in a horrible habit of repeatedly pressing the snooze button until we absolutely have to get out of bed to get ready for work, which usually leaves us fighting over who gets to shower first, who is going to make coffee and let the dog out, etc.  Making breakfast never crosses our weekday-morning minds.  On occasion, we will make what we call a “scromlet” which is our name for an omlet on a toasted English muffin or a biscuit (it puts McDonald’s Egg McMuffin to shame), but even those breakfast treats take too much time to make and when I do make one, I have to sacrifice blow drying my hair.  Lately, breakfast to-go options in our home have been nothing but granola bars and/or yogurt.  Brad has a weird obsession with granola bars and usually eats 2 each morning, which is totally fine because I’d rather him eat a box of granola bars than no breakfast at all.  I racked my brain (and consulted Pinterest) to try and find something that I can make in bulk to satisfy a hurried breakfast on our busy weekday mornings, and also save us a little money because those boxes of Nature Valley Sweet & Salty nut bars are like $4 for 6 granola bars.  A little pricey for 6 stupid granola bars.

Alas – I found a recipe for baked oatmeal.  But not just any baked oatmeal, baked oatmeal cups!  A perfect alternative to pre-packaged granola bars and much, much better for you!  The recipe is courtesy of Sugar-Free Mom and can be found HERE.  Be sure to click around her site for other delicious recipes!

One of my favorite things about this recipe is the option to get creative with the toppings.  My least favorite thing was wandering around Kroger for 30 minutes looking for flaxseed meal.  Moving on.  The recipe yields 18 oatmeal cups, but I actually got 23 cups out of my mix.  I probably could have gotten to 24 if I hadn’t over-filled a few cups, but oh well.  I topped the first batch of oatmeal cups with white chocolate chips and sliced almonds and left the second batch plain – they turned out great!  I popped these suckers out and let them cool, left a couple in the fridge to be re-heated this week and put the rest in the freezer.  I stuck one in the microwave this morning for about 30 seconds and it was delish.  Hopefully these will last me a little longer than 2 boxes of store-bought granola bars!

 

Another DIY Success from Pinterest

Darn you Pinterest for making me want to try every single DIY craft I come across on your website.  Seriously.  Now that I can finally access (and use) my craft table in the “croftice” (croftice = the word I made up for my craft room/office) I want to try making everything I see on Pinterest.  Saturday morning, I woke up about 8:30, had some coffee, picked up paint samples from Home Depot, then spent about 2 hours browsing the aisles of my local Hobby Lobby.  And by the way, Hobby Lobby is the place to be on Saturday mornings.  Anyway, I bought enough stuff to crank out several different projects including bracelets, necklaces, a swimsuit cover up, a roman shade, mending one of my broken cross-body purses, and last but certainly not least, learning how to use my sewing machine.

The first project that I tackled was a DIY braided bead necklace, inspired by a post on the ECAB blog, which I stumbled upon while “pinning” one day.  The tutorial can be found here, along with a ton of other nifty ideas!  When I first saw this necklace, I thought to myself “I can totally make that”.  What I didn’t know was that this necklace would frustrate me to the point of finishing a bottle of wine before I finished the necklace.  Okay, not the whole bottle, but I did take a wine break in the middle of thie project.  Here’s the scoop:

My Hobby Lobby store was a little picked over on Saturday morning in the jewelry/bead section.  Perhaps it was due to the 50% sale on beads?  Whatever the reason, I was able to find what I needed to make the braided bead necklace, but I had to be slightly creative.  I could only find packs of solid colored beads in gold, silver, and white, so I bought 4 packs of multi-colored beads and picked out the turquoise ones that I wanted to use.  I don’t know what upholstery thread looks like, so I just found some gray nylon thread because nylon is supposed to be good thread (I think?).  I also couldn’t find a 22″ chain, so I bought two smaller chains, which were on clearance, and joined them together make a longer chain.  The necklace hardware (jump rings, bead tips, and clasps) all came in packs of like 10+ but didn’t cost more than $2.99/pack.

I followed the tutorial on ECAB step by step (minus the accidental bead spill that happened as I was threading my last strand of beads – hence the wine break) and my finished product looks like this:

Boom!  Braided Bead Necklace!  And a doggy in the background.  I think Slyder channels his inner Waldo when I start snapping pictures, because he is always in my pictures but manages to be slightly incognito.  Silly dog.

One of the many uses for vinegar

My house is a disaster.  People seem shocked when I tell them that I’ve lived in my house for a month and I am still living out of boxes.  If you saw how much stuff my husband and I have, then you probably wouldn’t be so surprised that I have no idea where anything is.  Not to mention, that Brad has started about 5 projects around the house – each of them about 1/3 of the way done.  He is building built-ins in our master closet because we have zero storage in our master bathroom.  He is using crown moulding to build me place to display my high heels (an idea found on Pinterest, of course), he is replacing the hardware in our master bathroom, building shelves in the laundry room, starting plans to build a pergola over our back porch, and he is in the middle of organizing his garage.  Yes, it is HIS garage.  He gets the garage, I get a craft room 🙂

So while my house is a disaster, one thing that is no longer a disaster is my hair.  A few days after we moved into our house, I realized that we have hard water.  Bleh.  Hard water and my hair are not friends.  In fact, after I dried and styled my hair in the mornings it still looked and felt as if I had forgotten to wash out the shampoo :(.  I’ve been wearing my hair in a ponytail to work for the last few weeks because my hair sucks so bad.  So, I started doing some research to see if there is a special type of shampoo I can use or what the heck I need to do to help my hair.  Of course, the first solution I found was to install a water softener system in our house.  I don’t have an extra $5,000 laying around, so I kept searching.  I found a tutorial on eHow.com on how apple cider vinegar can help your hair suck less if you have hard water.  Not gonna lie, I was a little skeptical.  The idea of spraying my hair with vinegar and smelling like a pickle all day wasn’t too appealing – but I was desperate so I gave it a try.

Yesterday at Kroger, I picked up a store-brand bottle of apple cider vinegar for less than $2.  I think it was a 12oz. bottle, but that is kindof irrelevant to this post because I only used 2 tablespoons.  Moving on.  I looked around Kroger for one of those plastic spray bottles that you use to spray water on your cat when he/she misbehaves, but I couldn’t find one.  So, I got home and rummaged through the garage.  I found a few gignatic spray bottles that one would use to make their own household cleaners, so I kept looking for a smaller bottle.   I found an almost empty 10 ounce spray bottle of some kind of cleaning solution for our sofa (that we never use) so I washed out the bottle and mixed together my apple cider vineger solution.  I used 2 tbs of vinegar and filled the rest of the bottle with filtered water from my refrigerator.  I hopped in the shower, lathered, rinced, and then generously sprayed the vinegar & water solution all over my hair – being careful not to get any in my eyes.  I ran my fingers through my hair a bit to try and spread the solution around, finished up with my shower, then rinced the vinegar-water out of my hair.  No lie, my hair was SO MUCH SOFTER!  I let it air dry for about 30 minutes then finished drying with the blowdryer and I could actually run my fingers through my hair without feeling like I hadn’t showered in 3 weeks.  The vinegar smell was gone, and my hair was actually soft, shiny, and manageable – eureka!

The tutorial I read on eHow.com suggested to only use the vinegar-water solution once a week, so I placed the bottle neatly on my shower caddy for use next weekend.  I highly recommend everyone trying the vinegar-water trick if you have stubborn hair due to hard water or product build up.  It works GREAT!