grandma’s banana bread

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Growing up, I never really liked banana bread. Or bananas for that matter. I guess my child tastebuds hadn’t evolved yet because now I love banana bread. A couple years ago, we had some bananas slowly dying on the counter and Tyler suggested banana bread. So I thought, sure I’ll make him banana bread. And then I hate half of it. I guess my tastebuds finally came around. Plus, this recipe is extra special because it’s my grandma’s, and I’d always wanted to make it.

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Grandma’s Banana Bread – makes 1 loaf

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 lightly beaten eggs

3/4 tsp baking soda

4 heaping tbs sour cream (I substitute greek yogurt)

1 cup very ripe mashed banana (about two small bananas)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup flour

cinnamon and/or nutmeg to taste

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Preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter with the sugar. Then add the beaten eggs. make sure everything mixes well. Mix the baking soda in the sour cream. Keep mixing until your sour cream turns into this light fluffy foamy stuff.

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See? Whoa. It’s like a  science experiment!  Add the foamy mixture to your butter mixture and mix really well. Once it’s incorporated, add the banana, salt, vanilla, flour and spices. Mix well.

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Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour + 10 minutes. I like to check my bread halfway through, and if the top is nice and brown, I put some foil over it for the remainder of time.

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Insert a toothpick to the center of the bread, if it comes out clean it’s done! If not, give it a couple more minutes, then take it out. Let the bread cool for a little.. If you can resist. Seriously, your house will smell like you’re living in a giant loaf of banana bread, and it might be impossible to resist cutting into it right away. That’s okay, it just wont be a clean slice. Enjoy!

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gin citrus fizz

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The other night while grocery shopping, I bought a (cheap) bottle of gin. I don’t know what came over me. Gin is something I usually avoid. But, ever since I restored my bar cart, I’ve been a bit more adventurous with my drinks. Once we got home, I didn’t know what to do with it. I tried searching for recipes, but came up short on most of the ingredients. One trend I did notice throughout all the recipes, citrus.

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Gin Citrus Fizz – makes one

2 oz gin

splash of orange juice

2 drops bitters

3 wedges grapefruit

lemon sparking water

Add ice to a regular sized glass, pour in gin and bitters. Squeeze grapefruit wedges into your glass and add the rind to the drink. Splash in some orange juice, and fill the rest of the way with sparkling water. Stir, and enjoy.

I didn’t think I could like gin, but it is a surprisingly refreshing drink! What do you drink with your gin??

HappySnaps 10

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Happy Thursday! Thursday means it’s almost Friday! Friday is my second favorite day of the week.

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Last week we found this little nest of eggs hidden behind the shed. We thought one of our girls had stopped laying and were kind of worried. Turns out she had found a new little spot for them! 8 eggs! Phew!

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We’ve really been settling in and getting everything decorated in the house. It feels more lived in now and more like home every day. I’ll post some updated photos of all the rooms soon!

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This is another room that has changed a ton in our home. It’s amazing what some rearranging and purging can do for a room! This room went from cringe worthy to one of my favorite spots in the house!

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A couple weekends ago we went wine tasting with my sister and her husband! So fun! Tyler and I have never been wine tasting, so this was a fun new experience.

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I bought a new cookbook and have been making so many delicious recipes from it! This recipe is for spinach tortellini with mushroom cream sauce. I paired it with my homemade bread, broiled with herb and garlic butter on top. The book is called One Pan Two Plates. It’s my new favorite! We have yet to be disappointed by a recipe! And, afterward, there’s hardly any dishes to do! Score!

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We also got to babysit this little guy last week! He is so much fun! Such a treat to be around him.

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And finally Robin. Oh, Robin. This girl and her boxes. This box has been her home for three days now. I can’t bring myself to throw it away. She loves it so much!

overnight crusty bread

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Have you ever had fresh baked bread? Like, still warm, fresh? If not, prepare yourself to be amazed. If you have, still be ready to be amazed because you are about to make some awesome homemade bread, from scratch, with no sweat in the kitchen.

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Homemade Crusty Bread – makes one loaf (adapted from here)

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp rapid rise or instant yeast

1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix (I use a spatula here, works great) until a “shaggy” mixture forms. The author of this recipe called the dough shaggy. That is the best description for this dough, seriously. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set on top of the fridge for 12-18 hours. I make mine and at night and bake it the next morning.

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Has it been 12 hours? Okay, now preheat oven to 450F.  When your oven reaches 450, put a dutch oven/lidded cast iron into the oven and let it heat up for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pull the dough out onto a heavily floured surface.  It should now be twice the size it was last night. Shape it into a ball, or loaf, shape. Cover with the plastic wrap from the bowl and let it sit on the counter while the dutch oven heats up.

After the pot baked for 30 minutes, carefully take it out of the oven. Plop the dough into the pot, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. Once it’s done, take the lid off and return it to the oven for 10-15 more minutes.

Pull out your pot and marvel at that gorgeous loaf of bread you just baked!

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Even though it will be really hard to resist, let the bread cool for a while. It will cut a lot easier. And will still be warm on the inside, promise.

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I love this recipe because you can experiment with it too! Try adding cheese and spices to the bread! YUM. My favorite variation so far is cinnamon raison. Yeah. Two words: French Toast. Try it.

Oh, and you can double this recipe, and give a loaf away to a friend. Or a relative. Or someone you want to impress.

five tips for road trips!

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Our anniversary is coming up next month, and to celebrate we decided to go on a road trip to Santa Cruz!  Tyler and I have been on a few mini road trips together, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips to make the most out of your trip!

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1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

This is so important! This will set you up for a great trip, I promise. Most likely, you’re leaving early. Take the time to make breakfast, don’t grab a bite on the way. Even if it’s some quick eggs, or even cereal, it will make a difference on your trip. No one wants to start off the trip hangry, right?

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2. Music Everyone Agrees On

This one might seem obvious, but have you ever been on a road trip (hello family vacations) and someone puts on music that just makes your skin crawl? Or, your companion plays the same CD for 5 hours straight (guilty). It’s smart (and fun!) to plan some music ahead of time. Make a playlist that’s a nice mix of everyone’s favorite bands. Or make sure your iPod has a big variety of genres. Music sets the mood and tone and you don’t want someone, including yourself, to feel anxious or annoyed.

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3. (Healthy) Snacks!

I know, it might seem tempting to grab that bag of chips at the gas station. Or that candy bar. Or soda. But having something healthy to snack on will keep your mood and blood sugar levels up! This means less bickering and stops along the way! Sugars and dyes in processed foods do a number on our systems and our moods. Don’t let that affect the road ahead! Healthy snacks will keep you fuller longer, so no need to pull over for another bag of chips (yikes)! And, trust me, there will be lots of opportunities to to indulge on delicious food once you get to your destination.

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4. Games + Activities

There are plenty of games that you can play with everyone, another passenger, or even yourself! Do some research online and find what sounds most fun to you! It will keep those long stretches of “nothing” from seeming so… long. We like to bring MadLibs and cards for handheld Solitare. There are also some fun verbal games that don’t require any “tools” to play!

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5. Map Out Sights

It’s no secret that I love lists and being organized. Without lists, I find myself feeling overwhelmed and worried about forgetting something. Even if you’re not like me, I really recommend this list. It’s always smart to plan ahead and make sure you get to see what you want to see. Plan out where you’re going, what you have time for, and what you want to make time for. I hate the feeling of getting home and realizing we forgot to stop somewhere along the way. Or passing something, and thinking Oops, I’ll catch it on the way back! And then, not. Also, doesn’t it feel good to cross stuff off lists?? No? Just me? Okay.

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We are so excited to hit the road next month!

What are some of your Road Trip Tips??

restyle a filing cabinet

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When we moved into our little two bedroom house, I was so excited to finally have a space to store, well, stuff. I had big plans for Tyler to build a desk right when we moved in. I quickly realized that was a little bit further out than I had planned. So I started thinking, what could I put files in? We don’t have many, just some tax folders and vet files for our kids. But still, these files needed a designated area. I kept thinking, why do filing cabinets have to be so ugly? Wait. They don’t have to be! I remembered something I saw on pinterest about painting a filing cabinet and putting wood on the top. The wood top was a little more work than I wanted for this quick fix, so I kept it simple with a new paint job.

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I found this on CraigsList. It took me a while because filing cabinets are more expensive than I had hoped. So, I waited until I found one in my price range. $10!

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First, take the drawers out and take the hardware off of the drawer faces. Wipe it down with a dry cloth to get any dust or cobwebs off. Yeah, mine had cobwebs.

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Then start spraying! I used one can for the whole thing. I didn’t prime or sand it because aside from opening and closing the drawers, it won’t get banged around much. You can sand/prime if you want.

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After the paint completely drys, put it all back together and put the hardware back in. Then, bring it inside and fillerup! I love this project because it took half a day, but was a huge transformation! Also, it’s so cute now, we use it as a side table in the second bedroom. It’s not only functional, but now a fun piece of furniture.

What functional but cute items fill your home??

roll em ups

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Growing up these were such a huge treat for us. It was always our birthday breakfast. Christmas breakfast. New Year’s Day breakfast. Easter Breakfast. Sunday Breakfast. Really, any excuse to get my parents to make these, breakfast. Childishly named “Roll Em Ups” by us girls, I had no idea they were actually crepes, a real thing not unique to our family. I thought it was a special recipe my grandma made up back in Russia. Silly kid. This is in fact my grandpa’s recipe, and not as uncommon as I thought.

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I’ve never actually tried another recipe for crepes. This is it. The one recipe you will ever need, I promise. It is so delicious, and simple. The hardest part is flipping them, and I think you would find that with any crepe recipe.

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Roll Em Ups – makes about 10-12, depending on your pan size

3 eggs

1 cup flour

2 cups milk

6 tbs butter, melted

pinch of salt

1 tsp cinnamon

toppings (fruit, jam, whipped cream, yogurt, etc, and of course syrup!)

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In a blender, add eggs and 1/2 cup of milk. Blend on low until completely blended. Slowly add flour while still blending. Continue blending on low and add remaining milk, butter, a pinch of salt, and cinnamon. Blend on low until completely mixed.

Spray a crepe pan (or any frying pan) with non stick spray and heat over medium high heat. Pour 1/3 cup (or 1/2 cup if your pan is larger) of batter into the pan. Swirl around so the batter evenly covers the pan. Cook until the crepe bubbles and they start popping. Then, flip! That’s the tricky part that takes a few broken crepes to master. Once you get the flow of it down, it’s easy.
Cook on that side just for a minute or so. You can check to see if its done by lifting up one edge with a spatula.
Start stacking em on a plate!

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Mmmmmm-mm-m! Look at those golden crepes!

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Once you’ve cooked them all, serve them up! Put your fillings in, and then, roll em up!

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As kids, we kept it simple. And sweet. Lots of syrup and whipped cream. Maybe a little jam. But that was it. I remember the first time I showed Tyler Roll Rm Ups. We were having my birthday breakfast feast at my parent’s house, and to my surprise (and dismay), he piled in eggs and hash browns. Then rolled it up and topped it with syrup. I thought he was crazy, until I tried a bite. It was really good! That husband of mine.. so full of surprises.

What would you put in your Roll Em Ups??