Monday, January 16, 2012

Hey, hey, hey, 2012!

So strange that it is 2012... I specifically remember predicting in 2nd grade that in the year 2000 we would have flying cars and robots that cleaned our rooms for us. Well... I'm still waiting for both...

I tell myself at the start of each new year that I will not be making new years resolutions, because they typically fizzle out after a month or two. However, mentally, I come up with a list of things I would like to accomplish in the next 365 days, yet tell myself that it is not the same as a resolution. Because its not. Its waaaay different....

One of the items on my non-resolution list, is to be more organized. It is not in my nature to be neat, tidy, and have everything in its place. (if you have ever been to my house, this isn't a shocker) With that said, the older I get, the more I notice that I am becoming my mother. She is a total neat freak (if you've met her, this also isn't a shocker) and growing up, I thought it was totally lame that I had to clean up after myself. Since our house was literally ALWAYS clean (with the exception of my room and any place I was responsible for cleaning) I was completely unaware of just how gross a house can get. And how quickly it can happen!!

So after over two years of married life, kids, and general chaos, I am taking charge! I am making a list! I've been searching the internet for advice on weekly cleaning, to keep the overall mess at bay (because again, this does not come natural to me, but a girl can fake it!) I narrowed it down to a list of six chores, one for each day, not including sunday (hey, God rested, so can I). And because I can't just write it down on a scrap piece of paper, I had to come up with a creative way to display it and hold myself accountable.

In case you can't read it, the list goes as follows:

Monday- clean the bathroom
Tuesday- sweep & mop all floors
Wednesday- dust
Thursday- wipe down all kitchen counters (and under everything on counters)
Friday- wash windows
Saturday- wash all bedding and wipe down laundry area
Sunday- rest (something tells me this will be my favorite day)

I figure I covered all the basics, other than the day to day picking up. I'm really hoping I stick with this! So if you come over to my house, look and see what day it is... go ahead and ask if I did my chore! 

Yes. The bathroom is all clean. Even the tub. And the floor. Which is totally what I would skip when I had to clean the bathroom at my parents house. Why I thought being sneaky was a smart move, I'm not sure. Because really, they didn't have to shower in there. I did. Joke was on me. 

Happy cleaning!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When life hands you cardboard...

say thank you, pass the yarn!

One of the very reasons I started this blog was to force myself to use the materials I have on hand and get creative with what I have. After unleashing the crafter inside of me, I have begun to hoard collect in an organized manner, all sorts of supplies. Tshirts, fabric scraps, felt, cardboard, string, yarn, frames, foam board, and many more random items that may or may not someday become something AMAZING! Since Christmas is right around the corner (and since I keep forgetting to get my bin of Christmas decorations from my parents house) I wanted my craft night to be Christmas-themed! 

It was bliss. Pure bliss. 

Gotta love the age where kids can't tell time. It was 6:40 and I told my toddler that it was bed time. She totally fell for it... With both kiddos in bed, the husband off at a basketball game (he's a ref, go michael!) I put on a movie, plugged in the hot glue gun and got started!

Can I just take a moment and say that my favorite art supply investment is my hot glue gun. We're best friends. We get along so well, and rely on each other more than any other tool in my stash. Bliss. Pure bliss. 

Anywho, my to-do list wasn't exactly set in stone. I had pulled out everything imaginable and figured the ideas would just come to me. And they did! 

Picture frame Starbucks art?? Check.

Yarn wrapped cardboard letters?? Check.

Snowflake garland?? Check.

Felt ornaments?? Check. Check. And check.

That third ornament is supposed to be a football... you could tell, right?? My husband came home at the tail end of my crafting and his suggestion was a soccer ball ornament. I told him he'd have to settle for a football. 

With all of these little projects done, its making me SO excited to get my bin and go to town on our house!! Opening my decorations bin is like Christmas morning come early. I always manage to forget what I have... Which sometimes doesn't work in my favor "that's it?? I totally thought I had more!" Either way, the second we have our tree up (its a fakey fake. we bought it at grocery outlet the first year we were married. its pretty pathetic looking, but I tend to get sentimental about things, so I doubt this little guy will be going anywhere any time soon...) our house will feel festive! So excited!! 

Who knows, maybe I'll bust out ole trusty again (mr. hot glue gun) and tackle some more crafts! Ooooor, I should bust out the ole sewing machine and actually get started on a few of my gifts... yeah, that's probably a better idea.... 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Storage, take two!

It has once again been a while since I've posted anything... I'm so not good at this regularly-posting, thing! But! Its ok! I'm here again, that's all that matters!!

I did a post a bit ago about changing diaper boxes into storage boxes. I used wrapping paper, which has held up just fine, but I wanted to see how it would be if I used (yet again!) some material I have here. I will be utterly devastated once I use up all that material the previous owners left here... it has come in quite handy to me! Anywho, I love how they turned out!!!

I used the felt flowers again that I had used on a wreath I made... Love it! I've got two more diaper boxes waiting for their makeover, and I'm pretty darn sure that they will both look like this! 

You know what I love about storage boxes?? That I can hide all my random crap in them and still make my house look presentable (although, right now it is NOT presentable... hence the storage box craft...) One of these days I will be shipping off my now-fit-throwing amazing little toddler to her grandparents house so that I can crack down on organization in this house... Trust me, it needs it. As we speak, there is a bag of those snack size chip bags in our bedroom, an easel in our living room, baby bullet under our dining room table, and many more randomly placed items around our house that are DESPERATELY needing a more permanent home... preferably NOT where they are now. 

This will change. Soon. My sanity is counting on it. 

Anyway, have a great rest of your day! If you are up north on I-5 and see random things on the side of the freeway with a "free" sign, don't be alarmed. I might have given up on owning things all together, in hopes of having an organized humble abode....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Birthdays are in the air...

November is busy for us. Real busy. And I love it!

5 Family birthdays and thanksgiving. I can feel my heart warming just thinking about this!

I am a "the more, the merrier" type of person. I love hosting, love cooking, love celebrating... I just love people!! We just had a birthday get together for my husband last night (that went really well!) and I was able to finish my craft project just in time for his party!! Originally it was for my daughter's up and coming 2nd birthday party, but hey, a birthday banner is a birthday banner!

I still have lots of left over material from those curtains that the previous owners left at our house, so this project cost me... $1! That dollar was spent on ribbon. Love when craft projects cost me next to nothing. That also makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy!

You know what doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy?

Sewing machines.

More specifically, the bobbin. Ugh. I'm shuttering just thinking about it.

For whatever reason, my brain cannot and will not retain the information necessary to remember how to re thread a bobbin. I know, I know. Simple. Not for me tho! I spent about half an hour, watching youtube videos, and trying over and over and over again. And then over again. And again... No. Joke. My frustration level was at an all time high when I literally spoke the words (to my sewing machine) "if you don't cooperate, I'm taking you back to my mom, where you will never get used!!!"

Don't judge. I was angry. I say things I don't mean when I get angry...

Michael was playing video games while this was going on, and he even offered to help me, however, being the insanely stubborn and independent person that I am, I refused. Just when I thought all hope was lost, I realized that the problem was not the machine, but in fact, me. Who knew that the thread on top needing to be on properly for the whole thing to work?? Who knew?? Apparently not me.

I wish I could say that was the last bump in the road, but I'd be lying. There were a few more. And yes, all of which were my own stupidity. When I get upset, I suddenly become blind to the things right in front of my face. Its a weakness.

But even after all of that, I still finished. And it came out great!

I used cereal box cardboard to add some weight to the flags. I'm pretty excited with how it turned out! I do have to admit that I am HORRIBLE at measuring things, so if you pay attention, the flags are actually different sizes... haha!! oh well. Love it anyway!!

Next project I have in mind... well I'm not entirely sure yet. Most likely will be 2nd birthday party related... but I'm also trying to plan a pinterest party... How fun does that sound???? Awesome, I know!!! 

Anyway, have a great day!

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Oma would be proud...

So I realized the other day that I am not so good at blogging on a regular basis. How often are you supposed to blog anyway?? Every day? Once a week?? I'm sure there isn't a hard and fast rule about it, but I feel like I'm breaking the rule anyway... Oh well.

On to what this post is actually about.

Pancakes. Delicious, hot off the stove, covered in goodness, pancakes.

My brandsma-blood is pumping like crazy right now. If you are a brandsma, you love pancakes. Its in our DNA. Test it. Its a fact.

We have made pancakes in my family ever since I can remember. In fact, I'm pretty sure that we were taught how to flip those little flapjacks of love before we were even walking... (that and how to make coffee for my parents... hmm... I feel some traditions passing along to my kids...) They were SUCH a staple in our house, growing up, that I can't help but think of my childhood while making them. They weren't ever a fancy recipe or anything, just plain old bisquick pancakes. Sometimes they were regularly shaped, and sometimes my dad would make them into mickey mouse, snowmen, letters, etc.

I remember one particular time, when my Oma Brandsma was visiting us, she made us pancakes for breakfast, but she added apples without telling us. I remember taking a few bites and instantly knowing that something was different, but for some reason couldn't put my finger on how or why. Of course being a kid, once I found out it was apples, I instantly refused to eat them. (what can I say? I'm a traditionalist. I rarely stray from the norm...)

Anyway, today, I wanted to make some pancakes for my daughter and I for lunch. We have pancake mix, but I wanted to this recipe I saw on a fellow pancake-lover's blog. Well technically it was a cross between two different recipes.

here are the links:

It was quite the experience! Recently, I made two small (but not so small) changes to my pantry... best changes ever.

Raw sugar and wheat flour.

Anyway, its been a little interesting learning how to cook since they have very different textures than all purpose flour and regular white sugar. In this recipe, I couldn't tell the difference between the white sugar and raw sugar, but next time I might do 75% wheat flour and 25% all purpose flour, making them a bit less dense. But they turned out good anyway! Look at my delicious outcome!

The pancakes are layered with greek yogurt and a dollop of pumpkin butter... Note to self... taste test the greek yogurt before putting on your pancakes... I actually wasn't a fan. Maybe it was the flavor (vanilla). Who knows. It sure looks good tho!

I tried them a couple other ways too, cause I am not a fan of syrup (I know, I'm crazy). One with a little butter and a sprinkle of powdered sugar and another with peanut butter (this was my favorite) and one with just pumpkin butter. All of those ways were delicious. I made half of the pancakes with apple chunks and half without. (made me instantly think of my amazing Oma Brandsma). Mikaela wasn't a fan of the ones with apples in them. Funny how things come full circle. haha! 

Looking forward to my next blog. I'm going to take a break from food posts and tackle some sort of home decor craft. Probably some that will have to do with Mikaela's up and coming 2nd birthday (holy cow, I'm old...)

Have a great day! And enjoy a pancake for me!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When life hands you canned pumpkin...

Tried it. Love it. Will do it again.

Made pumpkin butter, that is.

I saw a recipe for pumpkin granola on a blog (like I said in my last post) and it called for pumpkin butter, so I decided to take on the task of making something that I didn't even know existed. ha! Which actually worked out quite nicely, since I have no clue how its supposed taste, the consistency, etc. I recommend making something you've never had before, yourself, so that your only experience with it is your own! In this case, that worked to my advantage! here's the link!

The recipe I followed was pretty self explanatory. There were however just a couple bumps in the road...

I read through a million of the comments that, to be honest, had me a little scared at first! Some people were saying how you aren't supposed to can your own pumpkin butter but then others were saying it was fine... ??? I have NO canning experience what so ever, so I did some research. Basically I just made sure that my jar was sterile (I boiled that sucker!!) and I have been keeping it in the fridge. No clue if I'm still doing something wrong, but so far, I haven't died yet, or gotten sick, so I'd say that was pretty successful!

Once I got past that, I realized that the recipe called for frequent stirring for about half an hour on the stove... hmm. I have two children. Under the age of 2. I'm not really able to commit half an hour of almost constant attention to something other than them unless they are both taking a nap at the same time... which almost never happens. But I went ahead and tried it anyway... it said frequent stirring... not constant...

Yeah. If you have a child/children, wait for nap time. Really. Just wait.

My littlest daughter was screaming because she wasn't being held (gotta love teething) and then of course my oldest daughter was crying because sissy was getting all the love. Not to mention that I was terrified that this stuff would splatter on my kids, since its simmering for half an hour.

Too bad I didn't get any of this on camera. It probably was comical to see me trying to balance one daughter on my hip, away from the stove, while stirring this bubbling goop, and trying to keep my other daughter from reaching up to "help" mommy. Sheesh. I'm tired just remembering this. Although I must admit, it really didn't splatter at all cause I kept it moving.

Seriously, I'm not just saying that so that you won't think I'm a horrible mom. Its the truth. Scout's honor!

Anyway, after my juggling act, it actually turned out pretty tasty! I'm quite pleased with it!

I believe mason jars make anything look awesome. I'm a little obsessed with them right now. And with pumpkin. 

So this was my lunch today. Toasted wheat bagel with cream cheese and pumpkin butter. Yuuuuum. 

Make this. It's delicious. 

Next stop... pumpkin granola!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Little slice of pumpkin heaven...

Fall season just so happens to be my absolute favorite time of year. Love everything about it! Pumpkins, the colors, the change of the leaves, the holidays (heelllloooo thanksgiving! and halloween!!) and yes, even the rain. We are a very green state for a reason, you know! It totally makes it worth it when we have those BEAUTIFULLY sunny, fall days. Those days make me so thankful to live here!!

Back to my main reason for this post... Pumpkins. Love pumpkins. Love the pumpkin patch, pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin decor, pumpkin muffins, cookies, breads, etc. Love it all. My husband and I went grocery shopping yesterday and I got two big cans of pumpkin because I knew that I had a few recipes in mind to make! I looked up on google (yes, we are speaking again...) for a recipe for pumpkin bread, and it lead me to my absolute favorite recipe site, allrecipes. Those recipes have never failed me. This time was no exception!! I did tweek it a little because of two reasons... 1) people's comments told me to and 2) because I am trying to get in the habit of using healthy not so unhealthy ingredients.

So, instead of only white sugar, I used light brown and raw sugar. For the flour, I used half all purpose and half wheat flour. I wish I could have halved the oil and used applesauce but have yet to buy a mesh strainer...

I know. What kind of kitchen doesn't have a mesh strainer?? Ugh. You never realize how useful those things are until you need it and don't own one. Lame.

But anyway, after those fixes, I nervously put my bread in the oven. I've never really messed with different sugars or flours before, so this was going to be interesting...


Helllllllooooooo my love!

I'm always a little nervous too about baking because I have the tendency to over stir the batter, and so it comes out too dry. Lame.

But not this time! I fought my urge to keep stirring, and just put down the spatula! Plus I think this bread is just more moist than others I've tried. So delicious.

Here's another picture...

Don't worry, its not undercooked, that is melted butter on my slice of pumpkin heaven. Yum. I think I may go have another piece... 

Next recipe I am wanting to try is pumpkin butter... sounds amazing right? I thought so too. 

Ok, so to be honest, I'm making pumpkin butter so that I can make some ridiculously scrumptious looking pumpkin granola I saw online... Yes, I am obsessed with pumpkin. I'm ok with that.