Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Weekend + Dessert Recipes

Nathan and I had a fun, low-key weekend.  We saw Taken 2 on Friday night and ran into my brother and his friends at the movie.  It was a fun movie and Liam Nieson is always awesome, but the movie was pretty predictable if you've seen the first movie.  

Saturday mornings I always have one student from 8:30-9:30 which is great because it forces us to get going early on Saturday, pick up the house and get organized for the day ahead.  After my student left, we made the 30 minute drive to Home Depot where we picked out lights for the porch, got a few plumbing supplies and picked out the shower heads/shower handles for the new bathroom.  Nathan worked on the plumbing all day, except when we made another trip to the hardware store for plumbing pieces we didn't expect to need and a can of PVC primer to replace the one that a nameless person backed into and dumped over.  I painted the porch an orangish shade of red (Georgian Brick by Benjamin Moore), Watson sniffed the walls and got a red nose, and then I painted the hallway between the kitchen and porch.

Sunday was busy, as usual.  How does that always happen?  Nathan is the worship leader for our church so he is out the door more than two hours before church starts to get set up.  I head over there an hour later to practice with him and the rest of our group.  After church, it takes about an hour to tear everything down.  I did that by myself this week as Nathan had to rush over to the soccer fields and coach two games.  He coaches a U-14 club team and they won both of yesterday's games.  What a great way to end the season!  I usually watch the games, but yesterday I cleaned the house during the first game then headed into town to bring Nathan lunch during the break between games.  It was such a beautiful day to eat outside!  After that, I got our groceries for the week and headed home to do some baking.

When Nathan got home from his games, he and Watson watched football together.  I went into the living room to ask him a question and this was too cute not to photograph.  In the evening, we went to our church's  fall cookout and hay ride.  I brought Almond Joy Cupcakes and Butterfinger Cake, both were recipes I found on Pinterest.  Sometimes I can pretend that desserts are healthy.  These are not, but so delicious!  You should definitely try them this week.

Almond Joy Cupcakes
Chocolate Cake:
1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix
4 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1 small pkg. chocolate instant pudding
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Coconut Topping:
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
sliced almonds
This recipe makes 24 cupcakes that you bake for 17-20 minutes.  After they cool, generously spread the coconut frosting on them.  Dip in a bowl of melted chocolate chips, and while the chocolate is still wet, top with a few sliced almonds.  At first I used Nestle chocolate chips and they just weren't dipping well.  The chocolate was sticky and lumpy.  I switched to melted Ghirardelli chocolate chips and it worked great!  The only thing I would change is that next time, I will substitute almond flavoring for the vanilla in the cake and frosting.  Maybe  I'll even stir some into the chocolate chips!

I did that tile backsplash in this picture all by myself, so feel free to compliment.  :-)

I don't have a picture of the butterfinger cake, but it is so easy and you really don't need a recipe.  Here's the directions:

Butterfinger Cake

Bake a yellow cake in a 9x13 pan according to the package directions.  Cool 5 minutes.  Poke 12-15 holes in the cake with the back of a spoon (they will be about 1/4 inch holes).  Pour a small can of condensed milk over the cake.  Pour a jar of caramel topping (16 oz) over that and spread evenly.  Top with an 8 oz. tub of softened Cool Whip.  Crunch 3-4 regular size Butterfingers and sprinkle over the top.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Latte

If you know me, you know that I love my coffee.  When I was in college, I bought a couple coffees a day.  Well, that breaks the bank pretty quickly, so I've collected fun kitchen tools to make delicious drinks at home.  Yesterday I tried a recipe I found for Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  All you need is a blender!  I liked the Starbucks version and wanted to be able to make something like that at home, for less money and without the artificial syrups and bucket load of sugar.  The following recipe isn't mine, I just altered it slightly by using less milk, more cream and adding the pumpkin puree.  I just tasted the milk mixture and tweaked the original recipe until I liked it.  This is so good, I just made our third batch since last night!

Well, I'm off to finish painting our front porch and the hallway tot he kitchen.  All this caffeine better kick in soon!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
12 oz. strong coffee
2 T. canned pumpkin puree
Whipped cream 

Heat milk and heavy cream in microwave for 2 minutes.  Pour into blender.  Add sugar, vanilla, pumpkin spice and pumpkin puree.  Blend until frothy, 2-4 minutes.  Pour about 1 cup milk mixture into each mug.  Add 1/2 cup coffee (4 oz.) to each glass.  Garnish with whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

40% Off Shutterfly Cards + Free Shipping

I've never been organized enough to order my Christmas cards before December 20th, but the Shutterfly email in my inbox this morning for 40% off of cards motivated me to order them today.  That's right, those of you who know me might get your Christmas cards BEFORE Christmas!  Normally I'd want to keep the card a secret, but I get $10.00 off my next order if I post it here.  I figure that you will all forget what it looks like and be surprised when it arrives in your mailbox two months from now.

If you want to get your cards 40% off, here's the details:
-Order by Thursday, October 11th
-Enter code GETMYCARDS at checkout
-If your order if over $30.00, like mine was, enter code SHIP30 to get that discount too

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Evolution of a Bedroom

When we bought our 100-year-old farmhouse in 2010, no one had done anything major to keep the home updated.  The walls were cracked and damaged plaster, and the windows, floors, doors and trim were original to the house.  Here's what our room looked like back in 2010:

Honestly, the pictures don't do justice to how yucky the room was.  It was musty and the walls were in a state of disrepair that doesn't show up in these pictures.  The ceilings were only 7 feet tall, too.
We decided to knock out all the plaster in the home.  The background of the picture below is what the room looked like after they tore out the plaster and lathe.  They had already scooped out about half of the mess by the time I took the picture.

 Once that was cleaned up, Nathan installed new windows, rewired the room and insulated.  There was no insulation in those old walls!

After that, he rebuilt the closet.  We spent our spring break hanging drywall in one bedroom.  Yes, it took us the whole week!  Don't worry though, things went faster in the remainder of the house once we had some experience.  The hardest part was finishing the drywall.  Our bedroom was the first room that we did, and while it has some imperfections that bug us occasionally, it turned out pretty well and we learned a lot!  We kept the original floors but hired someone to sand them and refinish them.  The upstairs floors are pine and the downstairs are pecan.

Here's what our room looks like now.  I still have a few pictures to hang, and I need to give the woodwork and doors one more coat of white paint, but it's mostly complete.

I'm always curious where I can buy the things I like when I see photos on Pinterest and blogs.  I'll try to keep you updated on all the details as I add pictures of the house.

As you can see, Nathan vaulted the ceiling so that it's a normal 8 foot ceiling.  That made such a difference in how the room feels!

Wall paint: Shale by Martha Stewart 
(I had them mix this color at Home Depot in a contractor grade paint to keep the costs low.)
Rug: Clearance at Pottery Barn last summer
Brown pillows: Pier 1
Curtains: Bed Bath and Beyond
 Vase/Branches: Pier 1
Black Mirror That Still Needs To Be Hung: Walmart
Silver Candle Holders: Garage sale for $10, but I've seen them at Hobby Lobby

 Eventually, I'd like to get a chair that coordinates better with our bedroom colors, but this one works for now.  It used to be in our living room when we lived in a bigger place.
Iron Wall Hanging: Clearance at Pier 1 a couple years ago
Baskets: Target (These hold up SO well!)
Brown pillow: Walmart
Lamp: Bed Bath and Beyond

 This shelf (Target) used to hold all of my cello and piano music, but it fit perfectly in this space and really helped with clothes storage since our closets in this house are much smaller.

I was thrilled when I found these doors at Home Depot.  They are the same style as the doors original to the house.  While I was glad to get rid of the old, musty parts of this house, I've tried to keep some of that quaint farmhouse feel the house had when we bought it. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday Catch-Up

1. Let's start with a disclaimer- this is a really quick post while I have a small break in my teaching schedule.  We'll see how much I can catch you all up on in ten minutes.

2. We got our Prius last week and are thrilled with it.  I'm consistently getting 53 miles per gallon, but today I averaged 56 miles per gallon on my 60-mile drive.  The hatchback is awesome.  I officially recall all the jokes I have made about how ugly Prius' are.  (I still think they are ugly, for the record.)

3.  I always have the day off on Friday (the perk of being your own boss!) and I'm looking forward to a long walk with Watson, baking cookies, hanging more pictures and a mirror.  I also need to paint my bathroom walls, and put a couple more hours in on painting the white trim in our whole house.  It is amazing how your house seems to grow when you sit down to paint ALL the trim.

4.  I try to make Friday my big cleaning day so that I don't have to do any major chores when Nathan's home for the weekend.  Especially since we are Nathan is still working like crazy at remodeling our house, I try to be available on the weekend to help him out cheer him on while still managing to not get dirty.

5.  We did hire someone to remodel our porch for us, which has been an amazing experience.  It's so fun to come home in the evening and see the progress that you did not have to be involved in.  The porch is going to be our mudroom with built in lockers and a big L-shaped bench with drawers beneath it.  It has lots of windows and I'm planning on painting it an orangy-red color.  We haven't decided what to do with half of the room but we really want to replace our boring idea of having a couple of comfy reading chairs in that part with hanging a hammock from the ceiling.  We probably won't, but it sounds so much more practical than an outdoor hammock.

6. My mom, Isaac, Eva and I went to the pumpkin patch last week.  I got a spaghetti squash and baked it a couple of nights ago.  Nathan and I couldn't believe how delicious it was as a replacement for pasta and according to Nathan, it is super fun to scrape the "spaghetti" out of the rind.

7. My time is up, time to head out to my next student.  I am being super-teacher today and working until 9:45.  But don't feel too bad for me...I only work three days a week.  :-)