Sunday, March 28, 2010

A new fabric store to love. . .

I may have mentioned before that my husband just celebrated his 3oth birthday. One of the things he wished to do was go to the CA Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. We LOVE the city. It's our favorite place to go and meander around and enjoy. It never really gets old and we are having so much fun showing Ethan many of the sites that we enjoyed when we weren't parents. On this trip, we drove into the city (a rarity, since we are BIG fans of the BART) because it's easier to get to Golden Gate Park via 19th Ave. We feel like we are slightly (just barely) familiar with that side of town because we rode the MUNI to visit Jon's cousin and his wife when they lived over there several years ago.
But, back to my point. Last April, when we were in SF for Jon's work, I checked out Britex fabrics near Union Square. . . it was huge and beautiful. But more of a place to go buy fabric if you are making some outfit. . . there plain old fabric section I found to be disorganized and not well stocked. I had found a website for a different fabric store . . . but it was on 18th, a few blocks away from Golden Gate Park. On that trip, it was way out of my way. So, Jon did some research and decided that I could make the trek to this fabric store on his birthday adventure. . . (Have I mentioned what an AWESOME hubby I have?). We were really close the whole day and found the store so quickly. The store is called Pea Pod Fabrics and it absolutely the CUTEST fabric store I have ever set eyes on. It is also the smallest store I have ever seen! It was the size of my living room with neatly shelved fabrics along the walls and a large cutting table in the middle. This was not a stroller friendly store (sniff sniff). But they had the most beautiful table of sale fabrics - with lots of Amy Butler prints! (If you haven't noticed, I am a HUGE fan of Amy Butler's fabrics). I bought several different fabrics for super cheap. . . which is great, because my fabric fetish can totally add up. It was really hard to pick from because this store had all sorts of amazing prints. . . this was definately NOT a store my grandma would shop at (no offense. . . there just weren't all those florally prints that you find in EVERY store in the Fresno area!).
Jon, being the most amazing husband of all time, waited patiently outside the store (and even snapping the above photo for me), while I shopped. I am not sure if he was fearful that our life savings could very well have spent here or if he was truly enjoying hanging out watching the kids across the street head home from school. The owner tried suggesting that he head down the street to a nearby bar, but I knew it wouldn't take me long and certainly didn't want to drive home. Plus, my very AWESOME husband would have rather just had a phenomenal drink of high end bottled rootbeer. The owner, was really nice, although she thought Fresno was only an hour away. . . if only! She also wouldn't let me take pictures of the inside to show you all, so I am adding a link to her website store front which as TONS of pictures for you to glance at at your liking and fall desperately in love with it that you all travel this very weekend to visit. . . oh wait. . . she's on vacation and the store is closed until after Easter, sorry.

Here's the link here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

In hopes to play catch up, I must post this amazing recipe. Last week, Jon requested Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins for breakfast. . . and seeing as he was about to turn 30, I couldn't say no, could I? It sounded like a good idea, however, when he first mentioned his idea, I was a tad bit skeptical. But, I needed a challenge, and so I went on a search via the fabulous world wide web. And very quickly did I realize that some of my favorite blogs had recently made just what I was looking for! I was so very excited, because these bloggers were ranting and raving about how good they were. So, I printed out the recipe and got to baking. . . Can I just say that this recipe ROCKED! My husband described them as decadent morsels of sinfulness! They were that good! I highly recommend them! They are delicious.
I found this recipe over at Annie Eats. They turned out with beautiful puffed tops and a very moist center. I will admit that eating them gave me a great incentive to start running again (I have by the way. . . yeah me!). So, here's the recipe before I head off to bed. Have a great Sunday and happy baking!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2/3 cup brown sugar

6 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

½ cup peanut butter

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

¾ cup chocolate chips (I will admit, I like to add more!)

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin tins, filling each to the top.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Saturday everyone! I realized yesterday that it has been over a week since I last posted something . . . and man, I have an entire camera full of stuff to share with you all! So, first, I apologize for slacking off. Because in sooo many ways I have been so lazy! But, also, I have been so incredibly distracted. You see, Spring is here. . . yes! I may have posted something recently about how spring has sprung. In the past few weeks I have planted my very first garden full of cute little rows of strawberries, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, broccoli, and lettuce. I am so very excited about reaping my harvest this summer. I can already see a little broccoli growing and some sugar snap peas developing. My strawberries are getting big. . . still a little green (i think the birds may be eying them. . . so if you have any suggestions on how to keep birds out of a garden, please comment. . . i need help!). I have also been tackling the weed problem (Let me clarify. . . I mean the weeds that are overtaking my yard. . . not the illegal plant LOL). I am absolutely loving my yard. .. it is a haven of green! I have also started cleaning carpets and taking down wallpaper in our kitchen. Last night, we bought paint for our kitchen and front bathroom. I am so excited! Our front bathroom has been blessed with nice blue tiles, sinks, and a tub. Yes, blue. The former owners also painted the walls BLUE! no joke! I am going to paint them a color, called "sand between your toes." In other words, I have a nautical theme going on there and I think a sand-like color will be a nice contrast. Out kitchen has this ugly green leafy, floral wall paper and border around it and I am slowly taking it down during nap time. I hope to start painting it a grey color this week. I am so excited about painting! I have lots of projects in my brain that just can't wait to get started!

Okay, so at the top of this post, I placed a picture of a recent diaper pouch I made using some Michael Miller fabric. I had so much fun making this for a friend. I was told to make it boy-like and green and brown. I found this fabric and couldn't resist. I also played around with a business card because this was a gift for her friend. I would love to start selling more of them.

And finally, I will leave you with a recipe that I made this week. They were eaten far too quickly for a picture to be taken. . . they were delicious. This recipe was featured in Rachel Ray's magazine a few months ago, when she did a feature on classic recipes. Being a fan of Oatmeal Raisin, I just couldn't resist. So, I made them and delicious they were! You can find the recipe here. There's also a picture there, so you can see just how tasty the are too!

I hope to be on here very soon. . . hopefully I won't get lost in the wallpaper and paint! Have a fantastic SPRING weekend!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday and a yummy treat

It's Monday. Again. It always seems to come so quickly. This is Birthday week for my husband. . . who will be celebrating his 30th birthday on Friday. So, in honor of his special week, we are heading to San Francisco to check out the newly redone Science museum thingy. We are so excited. And then, we are having a bit party for him on Saturday night. So, this week, in between celebrating I am trying to get my house clean (including INTENSE cleaning of the kiddos room. . . we think he's allergic to it), and get my decorations finished. I am really excited about everything that I am doing. . . now if only I can tackle the laundry and the spilled bottle of baby shampoo in the bathroom.

So, since I am on the verge of insanity this week, I am going to leave you with (quite possibly) the BEST cupcakes you have ever eaten!

Devil's Food Deliciousness:

Cupcake - I cheated. . . it's from the box.

Filling - 1 container of marshmallow cream, 1/2 cup of softened butter, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp of water, and a dash of salt. Beat these ingredients together until nice and fluffy. Use your decorating tip to inject into the middle of BAKED cupcakes. (Believe it or not, I have heard so many people recently who thought you baked it with the filling inside.)

Chocolate Ganache Frosting - 1 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips and 1 cup of whipping cream.
Place chips in a bowl and pour cream on top. Heat until soft. Allow to sit for a minute to continue melting. Stir well. Let it come to room temperature. Beat until fluffy. I used my star tip to do the frosting. It will get harder once you put it in the refrigerator.
TA da!!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Peanut Butter + Oatmeal + Chocolate Chips = Amazing!

Last week, I went searching for an idea for cookies for Jon's lunch. I was in dire need in inspiration and ideas and not in the mood to make something I had made before. I thought about making these until I found this recipe. I will confess, it was the first place I looked and the first recipe I saw. They looked delicious. . . until I read the ingredients. . . then, they looked divine! No joke! It seemed as if they combined all the yummy ingredients of everybody's favorite cookies. I also thought that Jon might enjoy them because he's a Reeces fan and this could very well hit his lunchtime sweet spot. After being baked, they were just as good as suspected! I highly reccomend them! Let me know what you think!
This recipe came from Brown Eyed Baker. She is very, ummm, particular when baking. She carefully measures each scoop of dough so she can have perfect cookies. She will even tell you the exact measurement to the ounce if you want it. I don't own a scale and probably never will . . . there are just too many other cool kitchen gadgets to collect. Also, a scale would take up counter space, and my kitchenaid mixer will not give up it's home (I don't have a ton of counter space and I am not a fan of cluttered counters). I am really a fan of my medium Pampered Chef Cookie Scoop and that's what I use, for my perfect sized cookies. I don't make mine HUGE because I like to not feel guilty for eating a cookie every now and then.

Happy Baking!

So here's the how-to. . .

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.

4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I found this recipe and just happened to have an excuse to make a dessert. . . a new mom in need of a meal. It sounded so easy and just looked light and tasty.
which they were! The cake, a combination of white cake mix and lemon pudding, didn't seem all that lemony, but was moist and delicious. The frosting is where the lemon hits your mouth. It was just the perfect amount of lemon combined with the cream cheese sweetness that a cream cheese frosting brings. Mmmm. . . we just couldn't get enough! They were a nice treat for the week. I also love cupcakes, because if you can refrain from eating more that one they are probably a perfect way to get portion control for your sweet tooth.

I didn't zest all of them. . . but to do the zest, I have the citrus Microplane that has a tool that makes little zest strings or ribbons. Quite handy. . . but a lot of work for just eating them at home. So, I only zested the 6 that went to other people.

I will probably (most definitely) make these again. . . they were just so light (as in not to sweet that you get a tummy ache after taking the first bite, not as in healthy for you) and so easy to make. hmmm.. . I think they would make a great treat for Easter gatherings. . . hmmm. . . there's an idea. . . . I'll have to get back to you on that idea.

Here's how to make it:

1 pkg. (2-layer size) white cake mix
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Lemon Flavor Instant Pudding
1 cup water
4 egg whites
2 Tbsp. oil
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar

HEAT oven to 350ºF.

BEAT first 5 ingredients in large bowl with mixer on low speed until moistened. (Batter will be thick.) Beat on medium speed 2 min. Spoon into 24 paper-lined muffin cups.

BAKE 21 to 24 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min.; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.

BEAT cream cheese, butter and juice with mixer until well blended. Gradually add sugar, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended. Spread onto cupcakes.

I found this recipe over at Kraft.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Last year, for Jon's birthday he asked me to make him a chocolate cake. I found a recipe . . . it had rave reviews. . . turned out. . . it was lacking in taste. Then, a few weeks ago, Jon's parents came over to help with our sprinkler issue and to stay for dinner. Since this was a completely last minute thing, I need a quick and easy dessert. . . with things in my cupboard. I settled on the Hershey's recipe for their perfectly perfect chocolate cake. I figured that the Hershey people really know their chocolate and so the cake couldn't be that bad. Turned out absolutely delicious. I made my own frosting glaze to top it and I just couldn't stop eating it! I loved how dark the color turned out and how tasty the frosting was. mmmm. . . good!
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. 3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

The frosting I used was a combination of powdered sugar, cocoa, milk, and cream. It may or may not have had butter, because honestly. . . I think I may have been out of it. . . it was nearing the end of the month and my supplies were running low. So, I guess you can use your own favorite chocolate frosting or use Hershey's special one. . . the one I would have used had I had most of the ingredients.

Happy Baking!

Birthday gifts

So, I must confess that living on a tight budget can make gift giving a bit tough. I am all for tight budgets because it means I get to stay at home and play with my little guy all day! It is COMPLETELY worth the sacrifice. However, it really causes one to get creative in gift giving. This idea came to me last summer when walking around the old houses near the Denver Capitol (and our hotel). We happened upon a street sign named LOGAN. . . which just happened to be the name of one nephew of ours. We thought it would be fun to take a picture and eventually enlarge and frame it. We took the picture and then basically forgot about it until December, when we were walking around Santa Cruz. I was thinking to myself, that I should bring the camera shopping just in case there is a street sign for COOPER. And, I kid not. . . right after I said that, I looked up and that was the street sign above my head. Birthday gifts for two very awesome brother's finished. . . well. . . almost.

I also must confess that the entire month of January, I forgot about this idea. Thankfully my amazing husband reminded me MANY times of our idea. So, I cropped each picture and printed them out, bought some fun floating frames from Michaels and wrapped them up! So much fun! I really hope that they like them. They aren't toys, but it's something that they can use for many years to come.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Spring. . .

I have always thought that spring comes early in Fresno. Today marks the first day of March and my capri pants and skirts are calling out my name begging to be worn. I took this picture of a tree (no clue what kind) in my backyard last week. I have watched it change weekly. I love the pretty white flowers and now the beautifully green leaves that have been painted in between. Unfortunately, with these gorgeous spring blooms comes the stuffy head, sniffling, and sneezing that can only truly announce that spring is here.
Today, I took advantage of the beautiful weather (and nap time) to get my garden planted. I now have cherry tomatoes, lettuce, snap peas, and broccoli growing. We'll see if I can keep them alive and growing. 2 weeks ago, I spent hours on end picking weeds. . . I will have to show you pictures sometime. But, I now have a garden. I am so very excited, because I have always wanted one. . . and now I have one.
This week is going to be a quiet one, I think. Ethan is going on day 4 of a really bad cold so there just isn't much going on. Lots of movie watching and hanging out with my little guy. . . no complaints here. . . except for the cold. I am praying that this is the last cold of the cold season (especially since it seems like he has had one since November!).
Here is a peek of some things I am working on:
:: I am going to make some meals for some friends who just had babies - Italian stuffed shells are on the menu, because I can make large batches of them tomorrow and freeze a batch for us, and give 2 of them away. I found a lemon cupcake recipe I am going to try for their dessert.
:: Ethan will be celebrating his half birthday on Saturday, which means my little boy is halfway to 2. I can't believe it! I am hoping that he gets his appetite back so he can enjoy something special.
:: I sold a diaper pouch. I am really excited about this and went and bought some fabric while my husband was at an appointment. So, despite my screaming, sick child, I picked out the cutest fabric for the pouch. A little side note here. . . I am selling them for 10 dollars if anyone is interested. They make fantastic gifts!
:: I can't wait to get started on some yummy cookies for the week. . . I am going to keep them a secret until I find out if they are truly as yummy as another blog stated.

I hope that you all are enjoying the first day of March and these first days of spring. Have a great week!


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