I didn’t realize it when it was happening, but 25 posts or so ago, I hit my 500th blog post. It will be my fourth blogiversary in August, which means I’ve averaged about 130 posts per year. Not too bad, considering I’ve continued to work full time and birthed two children. No wonder I’m exhausted! I certainly couldn’t do this blogging gig without the support of all of you who support me along the way.
And speaking of support, I wanted to announce a brand new blog sponsor! Just this month, Interior Design Service Online joined my blog as a sponsor. And, as promised, I am giving them a warm welcome and sponsor shout out.
If you’re like me, then you can always use a bit of help in decorating a room or your whole house. Luckily, Interior Design Service Online offers many options, including a Custom Room Design Package, a Room Master Plan or A La Carte Services like a shopping service or furniture layouts. They even offer gift certificates, so be sure to pop on over to Interior Design Service Online and check it out.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my longtime sponsor Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars! The owners Nancy and Pat have been incredible supporters, both personally and professionally, and I am excited to share that Fiore was recently named Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration!
So, now onto the five things you should know about this here bloggy-blog:
1. A couple of months ago, while on maternity leave, I gave my site a little face lift. (And nearly messed up the whole design while doing it!). Some of the improvements include a new photo of yours truly and fresh, clean social media buttons. You know, so you can follow me everywhere. If you’re following along in a feed reader, be sure to click on over to see the real deal.
2. Speaking of feed readers (if you use them), you probably know that Google Reader is disappearing in July. Which is less than a month away, people! I am going to have a hard time changing my blog reading habits. But, I hope you will continue to follow and subscribe to my blog through other outlets. If you are looking for a good feed reader alternative, you can find me on BlogLovin’, which provides an easy transfer of your feeds in Google Reader, and a decent app for your smart phone.
3. Another update I made to my blog is a comment reply function. So, now you should actually receive notification in your email inbox when I reply to a comment!
4. I haven’t done a full on plea for social media followers in a while, so here is just a friendly reminder that you can find and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. I am everywhere on these interwebs, people!
5. I know I mentioned that I just passed the 500 post mark. But, what is more astounding, is that I am very close to having 5,000 different comments on this blog. Have I mentioned that you are all incredible? Thank you for reading and commenting when you can. I love knowing that you are all following along!
Some weeks we eat a lot of bananas. Some weeks we don’t. On the weeks we don’t eat a lot of bananas, we eat a lot of banana bread. Do you follow? And do the first three sentences of this post want to make you sing a little Gwen Stafani? That bread is bananas—B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
No? Okay, on to the bread.
I’m not sure if I was just bored or craving chocolate, but a few weekends ago I decided to get a little crazy with my standard banana bread recipe (my favorite is the one from the Joy of Cooking, BTW, but I think you can use this approach with any banana bread recipe you like).
I took about 1/3 of the batter and mixed in a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, tasting as I went until I liked the level of chocolate flavor. Then I added the chocolate batter on top of the regular batter in my bread pan.
And, with a few strategic swirls with a butter knife, I was ready to bake.
Voila, I had myself a chocolate and banana fix all in one bite. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it was all pretty and chocolatey on the inside. The moral of the story: never judge banana bread by its crust. Or something like that.
Now, this post is about banana bread two ways. Why? Because the weekend immediately following my chocolate swirl experiment, I found myself with another round of over-ripe bananas. This time I tried another combination—peanut butter oatmeal banana bread (I used this recipe).
This recipe wasn’t quite as addicting, but it was probably healthier. With my trusty, dinosaur-clad toddler helper, I mixed up a big bowl of batter (you have to love one-bowl recipes).
And about 50 minutes later we had our second breakfast of the day…topped with a bit more peanut butter because we’re cool like that.
The next weekend I was sad that we had eaten our weekly stock of bananas. So, in the meantime, I stand ready for my next banana bread experiment whenever it presents itself.
How about you? Do you find yourself making banana bread often? Do you buy extra bananas just so you’ll have an excuse? And what’s your favorite variation on a standard banana bread recipe?
I know it’s already halfway through June, but since I’ve barely said hello on this blog since the beginning of May, I thought I would do a quick post to tell you all about life. Here goes.
(Psst…If you follow me on Instagram, you already have the scoop. It’s like micro blogging for me, so follow me @domesticadventure.)
May brought the official end to maternity leave and a full time return back to work, which means I had to give up my yoga pants for real clothes.
Soon after, I turned 31 and celebrated my third mother’s day. I ate a lot of cake, including the one I baked for myself that had the most amazing chocolate marshmallow buttercream frosting.
We stayed in a hotel for the first time as a family of four. Amazingly, we all slept.
I shared my second outfit post on the Work Your Wardrobe blog.
Things sunk to an all time low when I let Ike leave the house like this (his choice of clothing)…
…and when I realized that I let him listen to music that is definitely not age-appropriate.
I spent $10 on some annual plants at Home Depot and proclaimed my 2013 gardening complete.
I managed my first three nights alone with two kids while Chris traveled for work. It was intense. And we might have had breakfast for dinner every night.
I’m teaching Ike to follow in my sweet-tooth foot steps. May brought his first ever hot fudge sundae and his first ice cream date with mommy.
Meanwhile we are teaching Lincoln to love the Red Sox, which will inevitably lead to heartache and depression for decades to come.
I’ve made banana bread two ways—one with chocolate swirled in and one with peanut butter and oatmeal. More on that to come, if I ever get my blogging act together.
I went through a two-week period of having my nails painted at all times and tried colors way out of my comfort zone. I’m now over that and my nails are a mess again.
For the last couple of weeks I went to bed early every night because we were enjoying the four-month sleep regression and 19-week wonder week. (I found out about the Wonder Weeks book from my sister, who also has a newborn. I’ve since downloaded the app and it is right on in terms of telling me when we can expect the next
fussy freak out period developmental leap.)
Good news. We made it to the other side and passed the 4-month mark with a happier baby.
So, now you know what our May was like!
I am a notoriously bad blogger during the summer months, thanks to a few extremely busy months at work. But, I will be trying my best to stay connected and share some projects here!
Hope you had a good month!
I am both lucky and unlucky to have a great dining facility where I work, complete with a professional baker who tempts me with baked goods each morning and afternoon. I think the lucky part speaks for itself. The unlucky part is that my sweet tooth often gets the best of me. Like on a recent morning when I couldn’t pass up an almond raspberry muffin.
It was that reintroduction to almond extract that inspired my testing of this quick bread recipe. And now I’m in trouble because I find myself daydreaming about it from time to time. Not really. But close.
I say reintroduction to almond extract because one bite of that muffin brought me back to my college summers when I managed an ice cream shop in my home town. One of the soft serve flavors we mixed up on a weekly basis was almond. It wasn’t always the most popular flavor, but add a little hot fudge to it, and I’m quite sure you couldn’t pass it up.
Anyway, I recalled pinning an almond bread recipe on Pinterest way back when, so I pulled it up and gave it a try. The results? Well, let’s just say that I think you should give it a try, too.
As it turns out, poppy seeds are some what of an investment. But a little bit goes a long way, so it’s worth it.
Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Bread
Makes 2 loaves
(Adapted from this recipe)
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- 2 TBS poppy seeds
- You’ll also need about 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 cup confectioner’s sugar for the glaze
Combine all of the dry ingredients in one large bowl and mix well. Create a “well” in the middle of the ingredients, add everything except the poppy seeds and combine. Then stir in the poppy seeds.
Divide the batter into two well-greased and floured bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes.
While that is baking, combine 1/4 cup of lemon juice with confectioner’s sugar until you are happy with the consistency. It should be a bit thicker than the picture shows below. My glaze was a bit runny, but still tasty!
Pour your glaze over the bread when still warm. Then slice and enjoy!
Back to the lucky and unlucky business. As it turns out, Chris doesn’t like poppy seeds, so luckily I had the bread to myself. And luckily it freezes. Unluckily, I still managed to finish both loaves on my own…over a couple of weeks…
What do you say? Are you ready to invest in some almond extract and poppy seeds?
Oh, my poor mom. She is often getting some kind of crazy homemade gift from me. I like to think she likes it now as much as she did when I was growing up and, until she tells me otherwise, I’m going to continue along with my assumptions. After all, she is the one who taught me to be crafty. This past Mother’s Day was no exception. For her 31st year as my mother she received…drumroll, please…an upcycled patchwork tray.
What, you’ve never heard of such a thing? Me neither. I make these things up as I go along.
The real story is that I was looking for a project that Ike and I could do together. I mean, what’s more special than a gift made together by your daughter and grandson, right? I was quite taken by the idea of covering flower pots with fabric using Mod Podge. But, I didn’t have any flower pots on hand and couldn’t get organized enough to actually go buy some. So, I made do with what I had. I remembered that I salvaged this green leaf-shaped tray from the shelves of Goodwill a couple of years ago and decided it would be the perfect subject.
I gathered my supplies of Mod Podge, fabric scraps, foam brushes and scissors and corralled my number one helper.
Together we “painted” the tray with Mod Podge and covered it with randomly cut pieces of fabric.
Once the tray was completely covered, I coated the top with another layer of Mod Podge.
It didn’t look like much when I was finished, but once the tray had time to dry, I was quite pleased with the results.
The layering of the fabric created some texture on the top of the tray, so it isn’t perfectly smooth. But, the fabric is fully attached and none of the edges will get caught on anything.
And the tray comes complete with a little character, since it is slightly chipped on the bottom. Perfection is boring, though, right?
A tray like this would be great for catching jewelry, or even coins, keys or accessories in an entry way. We’ll have to see how my mom puts it to good use.
So, do tell. Did you make something for your mom for Mother’s Day? Or have you Mod Podged something lately?
For all intents and purposes, my maternity leave is over. It’s sad, but true. What’s even more sad but true is that I did not accomplish half of the things on my maternity leave wish-list during that time, namely polishing off nursery updates that resulted from adjusting the room to fit two boys. I did keep a baby alive, though, so that must count for something. Right?
Despite being out of “free time,” I’m still chipping away at my list and this past weekend I finally got around to completing some artwork to hang over the crib.
Before I delve into the how-tos on this masterpiece, let me explain the back story. Back when this was just a room for one baby boy, this wall was home to our yellow dresser/changing table, with shelves and hooks hanging above, like this:
Once we moved the dresser into the closet and took the shelves down, we were left with a pretty expansive space to fill. The crib fits the wall perfectly, and the tissue paper poms and star lanterns I added helped fill up a lot of the space, but it needed something more.
The truth is, I needed something to cover up the holes left from the shelves that I didn’t feel like filling! The answer: artwork.
I pondered a gallery wall for a while but then decided on one large-scale piece. Between our fabric-filled embroidery hoops and other wall art, I felt that more small pieces would make it too busy. Of course, some may argue that adding a big colorful alphabet piece might make it too busy. But, to each their own. I liked the idea of the alphabet because it would be educational and decorative all at the same time.
Back in February, I picked up a canvas drop cloth and some acrylic paints at Home Depot. I had no plan other than to make something big with letters. The rest I just figured out as I went.
I started by laying the drop cloth on a table and ironing it. Yes, I ironed right there on the table. I didn’t cut a piece yet, just left it full size to see what happened.
This was the collection of paints that I found at Home Depot for just $2.97. Such a steal!
I started by adding 32 yellow dots with a sponge brush. I made them really rough circles so that nothing looked too perfect. The artist in me was really coming out…kindergarten style.
The yellow was a bit too bold for me so I softened it up and added some dimension by mixing some white paint over the yellow dots. It was starting to look a little funky. But I kept going!
Then I picked my palette of colors. What, you don’t put your acrylic paints on your glass plates? I do.
Since I had 32 circles (four even rows of eight circles), I needed to fill six with something other than letters. I chose to do randomly placed shapes, all painted black. I made sure not to do a circle, since it looks so much like the letter “O.” I didn’t want to confuse the tots, after all.
Once the shapes were in place, I started adding the letters, one color at a time…
…until all the circles were full! I thought for sure I would put a letter in the wrong place since I was doing the letters by color instead of in order, but I got it right.
After I let my masterpiece dry, I trimmed around the edges with pinking shears (so I didn’t have to hem every edge). I finished it off with two wooden dowels, one at the top and one at the bottom. I folded the fabric around the dowels, pinned it in place, removed the dowels to sew the two straight lines, then put the dowels back through.
I forgot to take a close-up picture, but I just used two pieces of orange ribbon attached to either end of the top dowel, tied them in the center and used that to hang the artwork. It was pretty simple. I might need to add something sticky to the back once Lincoln starts standing up and grabbing things, but it should be nice and secure for several months!
As for the letters, I decided to go with all lowercase. Ike knows all of his uppercase letters, so I thought this would be a good chance to practice his lowercase letters, colors and shapes all at once. I found it helps him learn letters when they are different colors. I can ask him to find the purple “b” and he can instantly narrow down the choices based on the color. We’ll see if it works. If not, at least it looks good!
So, what do you think? Is it a little too bright and colorful for your taste? Or is it something you would add to a kid’s room?
Not every recipe that I share here on the blog turns out great. Even if it looks really, really good. But this blog is called “adventures” and not “perfections” for a reason, right? Take these here maple glazed baked doughnuts…
Sure, they look good enough to eat the whole plate full, but they didn’t turn out as great as I thought they would be. That being said, we did finish the whole plate of six by the end of the day, so they weren’t horrible, either!
What I realized as I took the first disappointing bite was that the recipe I followed didn’t have sugar in the doughnut batter. So, the result was a very bland tasting doughnut with some sugar coating on the outside. If you’re looking for a healthier doughnut (and, really, who is?), then this certainly fits the bill with its baked-not-fried approach and general lack of sugar!
Anyway, I thought this would still be a good opportunity to show you how easy baked doughnuts can be if you invest $10 or less in doughnut pan (like this one). I was lucky enough to be gifted my doughnut pan from Stonewall Kitchen during my first pregnancy (a pregnant girl needs her doughnuts, right?).
Mixing up the batter took about as much time and effort as making pancakes—it is all hand mixed and no fancy equipment is required.
Next you pipe the dough into the doughnut pan using a Ziploc bag (or a piping bag). I chose the Ziploc bag so I didn’t have to wash anything! (Just add the dough to the bag then use scissors to snip a corner off.)
You can see that I haven’t quite mastered my piping skills, but it really didn’t matter. The doughnuts all came out well shaped!
Next I mixed up a simple glaze of confectioners sugar, milk and maple syrup. I didn’t measure, just combined ingredients until the thickness seemed right.
Then I dipped both sides and let them cool.
In less than 30 minutes from start to finish, and with only a few dirty dishes, we had doughnuts. It really is just as easy as pancakes or muffins, so it’s worth giving it a try. Just maybe not with the recipe I followed. Perhaps you could try some of these instead!
Happy doughnut eating!
Do you have a doughnut pan? What recipes have worked for you?
I’ve been pursuing a lot of recipes on Pinterest lately that have mini chocolate chips and, until now, had kind of forgotten how mini chocolate chips create the perfect chocolate:bite ratio. Don’t get me wrong, I like regular sized chocolate chips, too (I’m not picky when it comes to chocolate). But there is something rather charming about the minis, don’t you think? Combine mini chocolate chips with my urge to bake on Sunday morning and you get these oatmeal chocolate chip muffins.
Just as I had hoped, the muffins delivered the perfect amount of chocolate in each bite, all hidden under the guise of their healthy oatmeal co-ingredient.
As a bonus, they were toddler approved (though he refused to call them anything but cookies).
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 standard-sized muffins
- 1 and 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup oats (I used quick oats since it’s what we had on hand)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 TBS baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup canola oil (optional, or replaceable with applesauce or other ingredients)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients and whisk well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together with as few strokes as possible. Add in your chocolate chips, divide the batter into muffin liners or a greased muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (or until they test done with a toothpick)!
And now I have to determine what else to make with mini chocolate chips since my super smart husband bought two bags for me!
So, tell me, do you like to use mini chocolate chips? Or had you sadly forgotten about their charm, just like I did?