Thursday, January 26, 2012

satisfying my sweet-tooth

Heading into this week, I made sure to stock up on fruit and veggies in preparation for this week's challenge of NO SUGAR!  Problem is, I get bored with fresh fruit and veggies easily.  So, in an effort to keep it appealing, I made a few fun snacks to eat along with my raw snacks.

1. grown up fruit roll up

I found this recipe on pinterest this weekend.  
Grandma used to make these every summer and freeze.  
My bro and I would sneak one out of the freezer periodically while staying with her in the summers.
She wasn't happy when we went through the freezer full in a few weeks one summer!  
Don't be surprised if you eat the entire pan in one evening - these are DELICIOUS!
This recipe calls for sugar, but I opted not to add anything to my berries (besides a little lemon juice).
So yummy!

2. quick apple sauce

peel and cut apples.

microwave on high 4 minutes or until soft.
chop in food processor.
enjoy warm or refrigerate.
I like it just as it, but you can add cinnamon and sugar as you like!

3. breakfast smoothies with spinach

throw whatever you want in and blend!
I used a handful of blue berries and raspberries, 
1/2 c. frozen strawberries,
1 banana,
1/2 c. peaches with juice (thawed from day before)
1/4 c. milk (more if you don't have any other juices)
handful of spinach.
**depending on your fruit, you may end up with a beautiful green smoothie, but you won't even taste the spinach**

4. breakfast muffins

These have become our go-to breakfast item over the past few weeks.  
Each week I change it up a bit - throwing in a variety of veggies and meat.
I honestly just make it up each week, but here's the basic idea...

2-3 pieces of bread {optional}
12 eggs {one per muffin tin}
1/2 onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 tomato
2-3 pieces bacon or sausage
1/2 cup shredded cheese
sour cream {optional}

Line muffin tins with foil baking tins.
Tear bread into small pieces and put a few pieces in each muffin tin
Break one egg in each tin.
Use fork to break yoke and scramble together a little.
Cut vegetables and meat into small pieces and distribute evenly in tins.
top with cheese

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until tops are golden brown and egg is fully cooked.

5. peach cobbler 

Check out recipe posted earlier this week.
Such a delicious and easy treat.

6. peanut butter and jelly cookies

Found this recipe today on one of the blogs I follow.  
They weren't as good as I had hoped, but I think it was due to the peanut butter I used.
I used all natural - one ingredient - peanut butter, but I don't think I mixed the oil in well enough before using because I think my cookies ended up being too oily.
I let them cool on a paper bag and I think that sucked all the oils out leaving a dry and crumbly cookie.
Oh, well, they still taste pretty wonderful!

Monday, January 23, 2012

devil's advocate for sugar

Yesterday I received an email from my MIL telling me about this wonderful pecan sticky bun recipe that she made...they were AMAZING!   Later while chatting with my mother she said she was making cinnamon rolls that smelled fantastic.

You can go ahead and play devil's advocate, but I'm not giving in!!

My friend Bekah, who is also doing the Sugar Detox Challenge with me, is having a party tomorrow and asked me to bring something - party dish with no HFCS, no white flour, no sugar, and not a dessert.  Humph.  It would be so easy to, but I'm still not giving in! 

I wanted to make something that she and I could enjoy, guilt-free.  So, earlier this evening when I found some peaches in the freezer from the summer I decided to whip up my own little recipe.   Yes it probably falls under the dessert category, but it does not have any flour, sugar, or HFCS - and it's a party, so we're going to call it a party dish - NOT a dessert!!


{Guilt-FREE} Peach Cobbler

3-5 cups peaches {fresh or frozen}
1/2 cup tapioca pearls {optional}
2 cups oats
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to  350° F.
Place peach slices in the bottom of an 8x8 glass dish.  If using frozen peaches, you may want to add tapioca (or other thickening agent) to keep it from being too watery.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes to let tapioca absorb juices.
In a small bowl mix oats, honey, butter, and pecans.  Crumble over peaches spreading evening.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Let cool.  Enjoy. Guilt-free!

What are some guilt-free recipes you've tried?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sugar detox challengs // weeks two & three

week two.  whole wheat.
These past two weeks have been much more challenging than the first.  When I buy bread I always buy whole wheat - checking the ingredients to be sure it truly is whole wheat.  However, this year I've set a goal to make 40 {different} breads.  Finding recipes for "whole wheat" bread is easy, but rarely are these recipes entirely whole wheat.  In an attempt to stick to my challenge, I made variations to some of my favorite bread recipes in an effort to make a truly whole wheat bread.  Unfortunately, I learned, the hard way, that whole wheat flour does not function in the same way as white flour.  The bread was much dryer and more dense using only whole wheat flour.  I read that if you add vital wheat gluten it helps to give the bread a more flexibility and maintain moisture.  I'm thinking my next few breads are going to be an experiment of sorts to find just the right consistency for us - maybe there will be a little white flour in it - but I'm okay with that!

week three.  no dessert.
"Does a shake that comes before my meal count as a dessert?"
I've never been much of a dessert eater....if it's there, I'll eat it, but I don't crave dessert with a meal.  I sometimes want a snack in the evening, but usually it's a salty snack, not sugary.  BUT, this week was different.  It seemed every meal I finished, I craved a sweet finish; before bed, I wanted chocolate!
You always want what you can't have!!
I admit, I gave in a few times, accepting a small piece of chocolate from the office assistant, enjoying a shake with my meal at Steak & Shake, a chocolate chip cookie when I got home from work.  It's been a rough week with lots of cravings for something super sweet, but I have found that if I keep LOTS of fruit on hand, I at least have an alternative when those cravings hit.  My new favorites are red raspberries and blueberries, I've eaten them like candy this week!

next week will be the hardest of refined sugar!

check out week one. no HFCS. here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

40 breads // artisian bread in 5 minutes a day

the bread no.2 : artisan bread in 5 minutes a day master recipe

our changes : none.

our thoughts : This recipe is almost as easy as the no-knead bread I made last week.  It makes a large batch and you can grab what you want and bake it as you need it.  Because I didn't have to use it all at once, I made small loaves of bread to be used as bread bowls for our go to snowy day soup.

the verdict :  Oh, so good!  Usually we're a little sad when we finish something we both really like.  But with this bread, once we took the last bite, we realized that it wasn't really gone!  We have over 1/2 the batch still in the fridge, and at 5 minutes a day, we can make a fresh loaf every day of the week.  Fresh bread every day?  Oh, so good!

This recipe is from a book I received as a Christmas gift last year, "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day," by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  You may be able to find the recipe on the web, but in order to protect the rights of the authors, I'm not going to post the full recipe on here.  I received their other two books "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and "Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 Minutes a Day" this year for Christmas.  The books lay out a "master" recipe for dough with countless variations from adding herbs and fruits to unique styles of presentation.  I'm excited to try a variety of these recipes on my bread journey this year!

Do you have any favorite bread recipes?

DIY: "luxury" vinyl tile

Our kitchen floor is finally DONE!

Thought we really wanted to do a tile floor, we opted for the vinyl because of the level change between the kitchen and former dining room.  Laying tile would also be expensive as we'd have to either 1. pay someone to do it or 2. invest in lots of equipment to cut the tiles, not to mention lay a subfloor in order to level out the floor.  NOT INTERESTED.

While we aren't really fans of vinyl, the idea of a much easier, DIY, and cheaper option was appealing.  In our search, we stumbled upon this stuff at Home Depot.

Now this is what you call "luxury" vinyl tile!  It is not only sticky backed, and therefore doesn't require any messy adhesive, it is grout-able! {total selling point} 

So, here's a run down of the process...

Step 1:  Move everything from your kitchen into your living room! [1 hour]

Appliances that aren't built in need to be removed so that the tile can be installed under those appliances.  This means removing all appliances, furniture, and anything else that is on the floor.

Step 2:  Wash the floor - with Ammonia - and get out! [2 hours]
This help to remove the seal on the old vinyl and create a better surface for the new tile to stick.  We did this step as quick as we could and left the house - we took Mei Mei for a nice long walk while it dried.

Step 3:  Primer.  [2 hours]

This was a milky substance that smelled like garlic....weird.  We applied it with paint rollers, and again got out.  This time not because of the smell, but because what else were we going to do?  There was no where to go in the house - all rooms open up to the kitchen and our living room was, well, unlivable.  So this time we went to a coffee shop for a pick-me-up.

 Step 4: Lay the tiles. [8+ hours]

At first this process seemed so overwhelming.  We were measuring and lining up every single tile because our spacers wouldn't stand up between the tiles like they were supposed to.  After a little while, we realized that all we had to do was line up the first tile in a row and use the spacers in the corners to line up the rest of the row.  From there, the basic tile laying went quickly.

What took the longest at this stage was cutting the tiles to fit around the wall and cabinets.  While cutting this tile was by far easier than traditional ceramic tile, it was not a quicker task.  We still had to measure, cut, remeasure, and recut TONS of pieces to fit around the uneven/curved walls and get under the cabinets.

I am not exactly sure how long this process took, but by the end of day one it was not done.  After midnight we decided to go to bed and finish in the morning.  It took most of the next morning to finish.

Step 5:  WAITING!  [24 hours]
There is a 24 hour wait time after laying the tile before you're able to grout.

Step 6: Grout, wipe, grout, wipe...repeat! [6+ hours]

The first three hours were a tag-team effort, Dan put down the grout and I followed with the sponge to clean up the tiles.  Then it was time for Dan to go to work, so I was left to finish the remainder of the floor alone - too FOREVER!  Water had to be changed after every few tiles were cleaned or I'd end up just wiping the grout around.

Step 7: Clean Up. [5+ hours]
Once the grout had dried to the touch - about 4 hours - I went back over and washed the entire floor again.  This took a long time as now the grout had dried on the tile and I had to scrub it off.

Step 8: More WAITING! [24 hours]
The grout also required a 24 hour drying time.

Step 9: Set up Kitchen!
It's done!  These photos are pre-appliance/furniture return, but you get the idea!


We love it.  It makes the room seem more complete!

Little Blue House - house tour.

Welcome to the Little Blue House!


bedroom 1:

square footage: 1462
bedrooms: 3
bathrooms: 1 1/2  2
exterior: wood siding vinyl siding
yard: overgrown but quite large
age: 84ish


Never judge a book by its cover, right?  Well in our case, thankfully we didn't judge the character of this house by it's dilapidated exterior!  When we moved in, we knew that once we got the inside to a live-able state, we needed to tackle the faded, chipping, lead painted wood siding!  In the fall of 2012 we wrapped the house and installed new vinyl siding and gutters.  As you can see, the transformation was astonishing!  It's a whole new house!  Up next for the exterior is to add some rain barrels and window boxes to spruce it up even more!


Since moving in (nearly three years ago) we've emptied it of all the previous owner's stuff and replaced it with our own.  Someday we'll get to this building...most likely to tear it down and replace it with an actual garage, but in the meantime, it's a great storage space for all our outdoor stuff.



This room is by far the most lived in room in the house.  We started by having the doorway between the living room and kitchen widened which definitely helped make the house feel more open.  Next we replaced all the windowsrefinished the bookshelf, and re-finished the floor.  

Once we filled the room with our boxes of books and new furniture, the room definitely started to take shape.  We printed and hung some of our favorite photos on the wall and with that the room felt like home.



We've had that shower curtain for years, the colors along with the floor tiles were the inspiration for the color palette in the bathroom.  The tan color along with the chocolate vanity and shades really warmed up this room.

We weren't planning on replacing the vanity initially, but we're so glad we did.  Not only do I love the new modern look, but the style opened up the room and gave us nearly a foot more space to move around between the sink and shower.  Using the same luxury vinyl tile on the bathroom floor as the kitchen made for a nice seamless look.



phase 1:
remove wall between kitchen and dining room
move door
replace windows
remove plaster
hang drywall
move plumbing
build cabinets
install cabinets
install lighting
install appliances
paint walls
build pantry
install vinyl tile flooring
install trim
paint trim
hang art/photos

phase 2:
install backsplash
build farmhouse table & bench
build butcher block cart
paint backdoor
install screen door

bedroom 2 {office/spare room}:
bedroom 3 {master suite}:

replace windows
paint walls
install laminate flooring
install trim
paint trim
ceiling fan
update closet system
replace windows
paint walls
install laminate flooring
install trim
paint trim
ceiling fan
hang curtain for closet
build headboard
repurpose desk
hang pegboard storage
install drywall on external wall
install paintable wallpaper on inside wall
paint walls
install trim
paint trim
refinish hand rail
refinish floors
install carpet runner
update light fixture
move light switch to bedroom
install coat hooks
hang art/photos
repaint door
master bathroom:

paint walls
refinish floor  lay new flooring
install trim
paint trim
hang curtains
new dresser
hang shelves
hang art/photos
update closet system
create second closet
hang curtains for closet
remove old vanity
remove tile floor
remove toilet
move plumbing
hang lighting
build new walls
install shower
install new pedestal sink refinished vanity from downstairs
re-install toilet
paint walls
build shelving unit/medicine cabinet
hang mirror
install vinyl tile flooring
install trim
paint trim
install towel hooks
install pocket door

back yard:

create pathway to garage and back of house


cut back overgrown brush around house
build deck


all around:

replace screen door
paint front door
add railing/ screen in porch
create ceiling
re-do steps
install ceiling fan


{there really is a house somewhere behind all that brush!}