Monday, October 22, 2012

5-Ingredient Banana Bread



Leave it to Pinterest to simply and deliver a classic recipe. Mmmm... banana bread.

Recently, I pinned this recipe for 3-ingredient banana bread. It looked easy enough (right up my alley). I had four very ripe bananas left over from the week before. If you know me you know that once a banana turns yellow all the way, even without a brown spot in sight, I won't touch it. I prefer green to yellow-green bananas any day.

Total weirdo.

Anyway, I was going to make smoothies but saw this recipe for decadent banana bread and out the window that idea went. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I added a couple of handfuls of Heath toffee bits and a teaspoon of vanilla. I chose to use course chopped walnuts in lieu of chocolate chips.

It turned out fantastic, but then again... if it's on Pinterest, I usually don't question it. I have only had one failed attempt at a Pinterest recipe and it was regretfully my own fault. Much as I'd like to place blame elsewhere, when you buy the wrong cut of meat (a chuck roast) in place of a higher quality meat (sirloin) results tend to not be in your favor! Who would have thought?

I highly recommend this easy recipe the next time you're looking for an easy brunch addition, potluck alternative, or an excuse to use up those bananas in a flash. Can't wait for your bananas to ripen? Try this. And let me know if it works :)



London - Polished

Our pretty girl is doing great!

a bath, a long walk with my mom, and a nap... the perfect day!

We saw such a huge change in her today. Up until this morning, she had not had a bath or been groomed since we brought her home from the shelter. This was not us being bad pet owners (trust me--we are way too clean and tidy to normally allow this!) We were reminded at the shelter that we don't know her any more than she knows us and have no way of knowing how she would react to bathing. We certainly didn't want to be the bad guys right off the bat, so we got the first available appointment at the groomer and in she went on Sunday morning!

We dropped her off to get cleaned, trimmed, and brushed. When we took her in, she was still the lovable baby we had met a couple of days before but she was cautious and painfully scared of offending us. When went together to pick her up. While Spencer was returning the pet gate (which we didn't end up needing because she is THAT well behaved), I went inside to get her. The dog that came running out to meet me was a totally different dog than we dropped off. Aside from having a beautifully shiny coat and two tiny Tiffany blue bows, she instantly had more confidence, playfulness, and overall happiness that we had seen before. See, she just needed a makeover ;) We have received so many compliments on her sweet disposition, but the groomer by far gave us the best one yet. She said that London was not only the best dog she has ever worked on, but she is THE best dog she has ever met. She had instantly fallen in love with her and it made me beam with pride.

pretty car rider :)


We returned home for a bit longer before taking her to the vet for her complimentary follow-up appointment. The vet didn't find any glaring problems with her (woo!) but since she was still on an antibiotic for her UTI, he requested to see her again in a week once the meds were out of her system for a full assessment.

Spencer and I finally got brave enough to leave her alone at home in order to grab a quick dinner tonight. It's not that we don't trust her and it's certainly not that we are worried she will tear something up--it was more concern on our end as to how she would react to us leaving. We snuck around to the back patio to see what she would do when we first left. We stood, for about 5 minutes, watching her. She sat by the front door for several minutes, before laying down right at the front door. We left for dinner, hoping she would get up and walk around. Once we got home, we snuck around to the patio door to see where she was at this point. To our surprise, she was in the exact same spot! Still waiting patiently by the front door. To touch my heart even more, once we came inside both London and Chloe met us at the door with wagging tails and happy faces. This is truly one of the happiest feelings I have ever experienced. It made every emotion from the last couple of days completely and totally justified. We got a good one!

Today, I raced home from work at noon to check on her. This was the longest amount of time we'd left her alone and I was admittedly a little nervous how she and Chloe were getting along. To my delight, but not surprise at this point, the two were napping together in the same room. They each gave me this look as to say "what's your problem, mom? we are fine". Again, just made me fall in love with her more. The fact that she respects Chloe's space is more than I could have ever asked for :)

seriously, mom? we are fine. 

She still will not get out of the car without being lifted, which breaks my heart. I know this will come with time and trust in us that we aren't going to leave her. In the meantime, we will be enjoying our sweet puppy and so thankful that she wound up in our lives :)



Saturday, October 20, 2012

London

We have a new addition to our little family unit.

Meet London!



We picked up this precious girl yesterday morning from the Humane Society. She and her brother were left at a golf course last week and Spencer happened to be there testing that day. They were both so sweet and loving, it's hard to imagine how they might have gotten there. They were wearing collars, but no tags and were not microchipped. The Humane Society came and picked them up and attempted to find their owners. In the meantime, I called several veterinary clinics in the area where they were found to try and locate their owners. No luck.

After hours of discussion and prayers, Spencer and I decided to welcome one of the pair into our home. The boy was immediately spoken for and this precious girl was still available. She is leash trained, potty trained, knows some commands, and is 67 pounds of cuddles! She totally melted our hearts and we knew she was meant to be with us!

She is still learning her surroundings and routine, but has fallen into place beautifully. AND she leaves the cat alone! Chloe was our #1 concern... Do we get a dog now? Do we wait? Will Chloe be more accepting of a grown dog or a puppy? After lots of research, we found that likely Chloe will only have more difficulty adapting the older she gets. But still... we were skeptical. It turns out, London could care less that Chloe is in the house. She's all about the people! Since London was so uninterested in her, it was actually better for Chloe. London didn't scare her and she didn't try and play with her. We've been living peacefully ever since.

Our sweet girls LOVES affection. She will follow you room to room just to be close to you. She seems to have some issues with getting out of the car, though. Every time we have taken her out, she will gladly hop in the car and be a good passenger but when it's time to get her out, Spencer has to lift her out. We think this might have something to do with her getting left by her previous owners. She was also brought to the shelter with a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) so she is still on antibiotics for that.

Otherwise, she is an angel and a dear addition. We love having her and she has completely enriched our lives already from the little amount of time we have spent with her!

London and her brother.
Or as they were known at the shelter... Hansel and Gretel :)

sweet passenger :)

shopping for doggy supplies is exhausting!

the newest seat jacker :)




Monday, October 15, 2012

Craft-A-Thon

The last couple of months at work have been hectic. I know I've mentioned this once or a hundred times, but they have. I had the good fortune to escape for a couple of days this week for a little stay-cation. My intent was to relax, which I did a little of, but also to get some much-needed crafting out of my system.

I surpassed my own expectations.

The need to create for me is a necessity. I am lucky to have the craftiest woman I know as a mother, and the trait did not pass me over. Like my mom, this can be both a blessing and a burden.

Few moments pass when I don't see something and automatically think "I can make that!" instead of just purchasing it on the spot and saving myself the time and hassle. Truly though, I love the art of quality crafts. Coupled with my OCD / perfectionist tendencies, it usually makes for an interesting experience. However, I had a fabulous two-day craft binge.

Thursday morning, I poured a big cup of coffee and put the finishing touches on my donation for the Sydney Claire Wagner Benefit to be held in Brenham at the end of this month. My donation will consist of this little knit pumpkin hat and Ugg-inspired booties. Hope these sell!



Then, it was prep time. I woke up and immediately headed to the craft store to purchase a yard or two of fabric for my first beginner sewing project (eek!). I then hit up Home Depot for a cart full of lush green plantables for my next project. After re-potting some patio plants and cleaning up around the house, re-organizing the pantry and craft closet, I was ready to get to work.



I kicked it off by using my new Babycakes Cake Pop Maker (which is incredible, btw) for some fall-themed treats. I used a spice cake mix, can of pumpkin, and a teaspoon of vanilla (that's it!) to create the base for these cake balls. Once they cooled, I injected them with a cream cheese frosting center, and dipped each one into vanilla flavored orange candy melts. I used a stick pretzel for a stem, and piped green leaves around the stem and topped with green sugar for a little sparkle. I had the most fun making these!
Side note: If you've never made the muffin version of these cake pops, you must give it a try this fall! Low in fat and super healthy... just combine a box of cake mix (doesn't have to be spice... can be whichever flavor you prefer!) with a can of pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling), and a teaspoon of vanilla (optional). Spoon into muffin tins and bake according to package directions. Easy!




I topped off the day with some knitting time and picking up another completed project... my painted ceramic soup mug. Last weekend, I went with my friend Christin to paint-your-own ceramic pottery place. We had a great time! She finished two projects in the time it took me to complete one giant mug, and I still could have easily spent another hour on it. I am pleased with how it turned out and would really like to go back and make another!



Friday, I dedicated the majority of the day to getting up close and personal with my brand spanking new sewing machine. I got this snazzy Christmas gift early and could not be more excited about it! After learning a few buzz words (like "bobbin" and "presser foot"--seriously didn't know what these were) I started on the first project in my new beginner sewing book, Stitch by Stitch. I absolutely adore this book. It is chock full of modern sewing projects for the beginning stitcher. A great recommendation to me that I am happy to pass on to you! Anyway... I started with the first project in the book, which is a napkin. I made a few and had fun playing with the different types of decorative stitches. I was instantly hooked on sewing and have spent the better part of the weekend scouring Pinterest for creative sewing patterns.






Friday afternoon, I spent a little more time knitting and finally made it to the short row section of my shawl. Woo! Small victories.



I also spent some time planting the gorgeous array of greenery I purchased from Home Depot the day before. I was lucky enough to score three shipping pallets from a construction site last week, and instantly knew what I wanted to do with them. With two of the pallets, I will be constructing a vertical garden like so and so and with the third, I want to do something similar to this pallet wood sign. My hope was to complete this project this weekend, but boyfriend was sick and I needed his help with a few parts. This one remains in pieces on our patio, but I'll post pictures of the finished product! :)



All in all, it was a wonderful couple of days of crafting and spending some much needed "off" time. I even managed to stop answering work e-mails after Thursday. Saturday and Sunday were the usual routine, and we even managed to make time for a maiden voyage to Costco to try out the new membership. Costco on a Sunday afternoon is undeniably the same as IKEA on a Saturday. Best advice: don't do it.

It's back to the real world today. But before I go, just wanted to share this sweet picture of my dearest friend's little ONE year old! Happy Birthday, Sweet Liam!








Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Little Bit of Progress, Color & Charity Knitting

The last several weeks have flown by. Is it really October already? Between work, social life and a car that can't seem to keep itself out of the shop... I am welcoming an opportunity to sit back and enjoy some college football today.

I wanted to brag share with you a lovely surprise! Boyfriend knew I had a really tough day at work on Thursday and brought home these cheery, colorful flowers (of the plantable variety) to enjoy for the rest of the season. What a keeper :)



While I was planting the colorful goodness, I noticed that my succulent clippings have really taken off and I was bursting with pride. I know... a monkey could grow a succulent, especially in a southern California climate, but hey... small victories, right? Just look at these guys go! Hard to believe they each started as a clipping approximately 1"-2" tall.




Lastly, my needles have been busy churning out several benefit / charity projects.  These are the two most recent finished items, both of which I am completely satisfied. I made the wee pumpkin hat as part of a gift set for sale at an upcoming benefit for my cousin's sweet baby born with Rhizomelic Chodrodisplasia Punctuata (RCDP), a rare genetic disorder affecting 1 in every 100,000 births. Family and friends are hosting a benefit to raise money in assistance with medical costs associated with the disorder. This little hat will be a silent auction item for the event. 



I also whipped up this simple fringed scarf for Susan G. Komen's Knit for the Cure in which handmade knitted items are donated for sale to raise money for breast cancer research. Please excuse my apparel, my model had the day off. 



Hope you all are having a fabulous fall!