Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins...

One of my favorite cookbooks is "The Martha Stewart Cookbook".  I've had it well over 15 years and it's very well used.  

One of my favorite and most used recipes is her banana bread recipe (that paper clip makes it easy to find, too).  It's super easy and really tasty.  Even with the 'changes' I make sometimes...

As I was trying to use up alot of what I had in my fridge the past couple of weeks, I knew I would be making this recipe because of the bananas that were ripe enough for bread.  I thought I needed to finish some sour cream too but upon further inspection I realized that the sour cream was not usable.  I still wanted to make this bread though and wasn't planning a trip to the market for sour cream.

This is why I love this recipe: while the sour cream is great I have found a few substitutions that work well.  They are:  1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt (greek or regular) OR 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt.

The vanilla yogurt was what I used this time.  It was my first time and it was perfect.  I did use a bit less vanilla extract (about 3/4 tsp) since it was vanilla yogurt and not plain although I don't really know that it mattered.

I also had some mini chocolate chips I needed to use so into the batter they went!

And, since I didn't feel like I made enough changes, I made muffins, not bread. I will often make muffins instead of bread because they take less time to cook (25'ish minutes vs.  about an hour).  Plus, they are easy peasy to put into a lunch box.  And better portion control!

Yum!  (Star shaped plates from Michaels, this year.)

Martha Stewart's Banana Bread

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed very ripe banana
1/2 cup sour cream (or unsweetened applesauce, plain yogurt, or vanilla yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (or mini-chocolate chips) (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pan or several smaller pans.  For muffins, you will need 12 muffin tin liners.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, beating well.

Sift the dry ingredients together, combine with butter mixture.  Blend well. Add sour cream, bananas & vanilla.  Stir well.  Stir in the nuts and pour into prepared pan (or muffin tin).

Bake 1 hour until a cake tester comes out clean. Turn out onto rack to cool. (Bake about 25 minutes or so for muffins.)


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teacher gifts....

It's almost the end of the school year & one of the fun things for the kids is recognizing their teachers.  I love to give crafty type things that are also useful and the kids can help with.  Younger kids will need assistance with these but other kids can take over and really complete these ones on their own.

One thing we did for Teacher Appreciation week that would work well for the end of the year is this bottle of iced tea (LM's teacher's favorite) with the tag that says 'thank you for being a tea-riffic teacher'.  I didn't think up that little saying.  I found it on the internet somewhere.  But for a tea loving teacher it was perfect.  I just typed the words on the computer, printed it out on cardstock, used a large circle punch, cut the words 'tea' with my Quickutz, sponged the edges green, punched a hole & added the ribbon.  It would be just as easy and cute to have your child write the words himself.

Since 2nd grade I have helped the whole class do a gift for their teacher.  I take a picture of the whole class and frame it.  In the frame is also a mat that each child gets to sign.  I buy the mat at Michael's (great use for the 40% off coupons!) and it comes with an acid free pen.  I also get the frame at Michael's since they usually are on sale around this time of year.  

I cut out the name of the school and the school year using my Cricut but again you can have one or two kids write that info or print something out on the computer and glue it on the mat.   This year I have the pennant punch from Stampin'up so I placed the white letters on the purple pennant. 

The one thing I learned after the first year of doing this is to have the letters and year placed where you want BEFORE having the kids sign the mat.  Otherwise you may end up not having the proper room to put the school name and years.

This was my third year doing this and each teacher has loved it and the kids love it too.  I bought the frame in 8X10 and the photo was a 4X6.   Larger sizes are available but I like to do the smaller size since I think it's easier to find a place on a desk or wall this way.  

Since I have been the organizer of this project I have always let LM present the gift with 3 or 4 other students.  It's always been a hit and is fairly inexpensive.

Linking up to Kelly's SUYL - Crafts for Kids.

For privacy reasons I haven't posted a photo of the finished product.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day...

I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God Bless the U.S.A.
~Lee Greenwood

Thanks to all the service men and women who have sacrificed so that we can live in freedom.
Remember, 'freedom isn't free'.

Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 18, 2012


This will be the first weekend we have been home in three weeks (four for my husband) and I couldn't be happier.  If you are looking for me I'll be here, reading this

And when I tire of the heat I am headed to the office/craft room to work on that.  This room should be my highest priority but sadly, it's not.  Which surely explains why it's in the state it's in.  I have gotten some fun ideas for decorating from cutie pie Nate Berkus (wallpaper on the back of your bookcases anyone?) which I hope to get to sometime in the very near future (famous last words) but first I need to tackle the mess (aka clutter, a word I am growing tired of).

Next week we will be in the last week of school.  LM is not happy about that.  I thought she was but she's not. This morning she asked if she could go to school all summer long...

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A quick change...

LM has these cute little hooks by the door in her room.  I got them when she was a baby from Pottery Barn Kids.  The idea was that I could hang her jackets or a backpack on there.  As time went on and she grew older, they kind of became a catch all area.  Anything that could remotely be 'hung' went on the hooks.  Which lead us to this:

Obviously, the hats don't get worn everyday but I couldn't figure out a good place to put them so they didn't get damaged.  Until one day I was putting things away in the closet and noticed this space to the left of her shelves.  I took one hat over to see if it fit in the space and it did.  I headed to the tool box and got 3 nails and a hammer and ended up with this:

She can reach them all, they are out of the way but she can still see them when she's picking out her clothes. So there's no fear of them being forgotten like they might have been in a drawer.

I used nails so this was a no cost fix.  Always love those!  You could use hooks or even those Command removable hooks.

I have to say, I am quite proud of myself!  It's the little things, right?

Linking up to Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where I've been...

Last week was a total blur.  Before I knew it, Friday had come and gone.  It was the oddest thing.  I feel like I really never stopped the entire time.  I'm sure you can all relate, right? 

It was teacher appreciation week and I helped with that a couple of days.  Doctor appointments for LM and me (great scheduling on that one but at least they're out of the way now.)  LM's big school project, which is a business that the kids set up and run for a week, was due last week with 'grand opening' on Thursday morning.  And more...

LM and my husband finished up their hockey seasons.

Field trip hike to observe weathering and erosion.

There are seven days of school left.  Like every year, it's hard to believe.  I'm ready though!  I know LM has had a great year and loves school but I think she's ready for a break. 

A break.  

I'm not sure that's what it's going to be though.  With hockey camp, junior golf, babysitting class, Girl Scout trip to Disneyland,  a possible trip to St Louis.  Not really a break I guess.  I think our summer trip to Park City may be only in my head.  Oh how I look forward to a few cool days each summer.  But 10 weeks flies by.  

Just like everything else...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Graduation Time...

Graduation Gift - Gift for Grad - Use your University or College - 8x10 / School Colors - Father's Day Alumni

We have received five graduation announcements so far this year.  I think that's going to be it.  I think...

We received 2 high school announcements and 3 college ones.  For high school grads I usually just send a check.  I hate to send money but they are usually children of friends whom we don't know very well but want to remember.  This year the high schoolers are a niece (who we really don't know that well) and a friend's son who my husband has coached in hockey for 10 years.  So we know him well but he's a boy and I just don't know what to do.  My husband says money, so as boring as that is I believe that's what he's getting.

I stumbled across the print above on Etsy at a shop called Between Everything.  I LOVE this idea for a college grad.  Brooke will personalize each print with a building on the college campus, date and colors.  She will also frame and matte them for an extra charge. I think they will look great in an office or for the Elementary Education grads (2 of them), in their classrooms.  I am currently waiting for my first two prints to arrive and will be ordering my 3rd this week.

So if you're looking for a neat graduation gift you should check this out.  It will definitely be something that your grad will remember.  And, more importantly, they'll remember that YOU gave it to them....

Do you have a different 'go-to' graduation gift?