Monday, February 28, 2011

Gingersnaps

Like I said here, I want to try new things with baking. I want to try new recipes, new flavors, and new ideas. I let the husband pick the cookie this week and he came up with Gingersnaps. I've never made Gingersnaps before, but I love a good challenge.

Here's my adapted recipe for Soft Gingersnap Cookies:

Ingredients
3/4 cups softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg.
Beat in molasses.
Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
(I always like to add a little extra cinnamon.)
Add to cream mixture.
Refrigerate for one hour.

Roll into one inch balls. 
Roll in sugar (I forgot this step... oops!)
Bake about 9-10 minutes or until lightly brown.
Enjoy!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Today was definitely a lazy Sunday and it felt great. I needed a day of rest. Only 7 more weeks until freedom! Whenever I hear "lazy Sunday" I always think back to the SNL Digital Short with Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell. It brings me back to my college days and makes me laugh. A lot. Take a look. (Also find it here.)


Did I mention I love puzzles? No? Well, I love puzzles. I haven't done one since we got the pup since he chews everything and I didn't want to risk it. Today he only chewed on three pieces. Luckily, we were able to catch the little bugger before he swallowed any.



And this is how we rounded out the afternoon. Buster Boy likes to take naps with his momma.


Now we're watching the Oscars. Love all the pretty dresses!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Before + After: End Table Project

Let me preface this by saying I'm definitely not a DIY expert and I'm still learning as I go. That's the fun part, right? A few months ago, I decided to do a little DIY project. We had just moved in and needed an end table next to our couch. I was not about to pay upwards of $100 just for a small end table. So I scooted on over to Goodwill and found this little beauty for a mere $19.99.


It was in great condition and only a little wobbly, which was easily fixed by a little twist of a screwdriver. I also picked up a hand sander (note to self: get an electric sander one day!) and a quart of Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint and Primer in One in Martha Stewart's "Egg Yolk." Then began the fun part. I'm not sure if I actually needed to sand it down, but the finish looked shiny enough where I figured it wouldn't hurt. Like I said before, I'm definitely investing in a electric sander someday because it took me a couple hours (at least!) to get it sanded down enough to start painting. I was so sore the next day!


I think I had to apply about 3 coats of paint to get it fully covered. Keep in mind, I'm pretty impatient, so I don't think I let it completely dry before I did the next coat (I would not advise this!). In the future I will leave plenty of time in between coats. Another thing I'm going to put in the ol' vault for next time is to use some sort of top coat to seal and protect it. Any suggestions of the best/cheapest/easiest top coat to use? I still might apply a top coat at a later date, but for now my little table is doing quite well. It looks great with our couch and adds the pop of color I was looking for.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Little Bit of Whimsy

About the time we moved down here, I stumbled upon this beautiful art by Katie Daisy on Etsy (find her Etsy shop here) and fell in love! I love the bright vibrant colors, the whimsical shapes and the daydream worthy quotes and messages. To me, they are all so inspiring and cheerful. I ended up buying a couple of her designs and have not been disappointed. Here are the ones I bought:

The first one I have yet to put up due to my tiny little apartment having limited wall space. I may need to work on that in the near future... The second one is currently up in my bathroom, but one day I think it will go very nicely in a nursery or kid's room. She also does some designs of different states which I love, I just wish she had one for Washington! Here are a few more of my favorites:

She has so many amazing prints, I want to buy all of them!

Check out Katie's website and blog here and here.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Valley of the Sun

I've probably been more than a little vocal about my homesickness and how much I miss Seattle. When we first moved to Arizona, I hated it. It could have been somewhat due to the fact that we moved down here in July in 115 degree weather. It could have been that we were thousands of miles from our friends and family. Or, it could have been due to the fact that my commute is an hour each way in stop and go traffic.

Seven months later, I have turned a corner (just a little one). I realize that I've probably been a little harsh on Arizona and that it really isn't SO bad. I look at it kind of like dating. I broke up (unwillingly) with Seattle (we'll be together again one day!) and Arizona is my "rebound." It's just like a classic Nora Roberts book (all her books are basically the same idea, right?) - boy and girl meet, boy and girl dislike each other, boy and girl eventually come around and fall in love. Well, I wouldn't go so far as love in my situation (we are talking about states still, aren't we?), but I would say that I've started to like Arizona quite a bit.

The mister and I have actually had a lot of fun down here since we moved. We've been to an old abandoned ghost town, seen one of the seven natural wonders of the world, taken up hiking, and eaten a whole lot of amazing Mexican food (our favorite is Rancho de Tia Rosa). The constant sunshine doesn't hurt either. I think I'm finally getting used to being down here, even though I still really miss my family and friends. Here's a few pics of our Arizona adventures so far.


Goldfield Ghost Town

Hiking South Mountain


The Grand Canyon


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let's Get Physical

Sue Sylvester style.

One of the things I bought this month with my $100 allowance was two workouts DVDs. I know, I'm thinking the same thing... do those really work? I've only bought one other workout DVD in my entire life and it was a yoga video that I used a few times, but it didn't do much for me.

Before we got rid of our cable, I tried to find a good workout video On Demand. I ended up trying Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown and loved it. It got my heart rate up while still doing the yoga sun salutations that I liked. Last week I bought Yoga Meltdown and 30-Day Shred by Jillian Michaels on DVD (find them here and here). Amazon always has super fast shipping (it got to me within one day) and great deals (it cost me $17 for both DVDs). 

Why are there two cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom next to my new workout DVDs, you ask? Well, let's just say we either didn't pack my eight pound dumbbells in the move, or they are buried so deep we will never find them. Being on the spending diet, I'm not about to go out and buy a brand spanking new pair of dumbbells, so I improvised. Soup for strength! 

I tried out the 30-Day Shred for the first time last night and it kicked my butt. (And I kind of liked it). I decided to try it out for 30 days and see what kind of results I'll get. After all, it's only 20 minutes a day for 30 days. I can do that! I'm almost done with the spending diet (8 more days!) and I seem to do well with short term, timed goals. Plus, my one word for the year is discipline (find more on that here), so this will be a great way to keep the discipline train rolling.

I'll keep you updated on my progress for the next 30 days, but for now I'll leave you with a little downward facing dog...

Isn't he the cutest? Ok here's one more... look at those puppy dog eyes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

PB + Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and chocolate has always been one of my favorite combinations, so I decided to spruce up some peanut butter cookies with some good ol' chocolate chips.


Here's my recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies:

You may be wondering why I included a jar of molasses with my ingredient pic above, and that's actually a funny story (get ready for this one!). Turns out I was out of brown sugar. I had just gone to the grocery store and was not motivated to go back just for some brown sugar. Husband to the rescue! Being the scientist that he is, he of course came up with the brilliant idea to make our own brown sugar. I was a little hesitant. This is a little how the conversation went... 

Me: "Oh no! We're out of brown sugar!"
Him: "Why don't you just make your own."
Me: "Ha! Yeah, ok..."
Him: "It's so easy! It's just molasses and white sugar."
Me: "Um, of course it is! And how do you know this?"
Him: "Uh, Duh. Everyone knows that!"

Ok, that's not exactly how it went, but pretty close. Thankfully, I had made molasses cookies during Christmas and still had some leftover molasses in the cupboard, so one google search and two ingredients later we had our own homemade brown sugar. Awesome. And now you get a twofer! Two recipes in one today (Score!). 

Here's my recipe for some Homemade Brown Sugar:

1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses

My PB cookie recipe only calls for 1/2 cup brown sugar, so I used 1/2 cup white sugar and 3/4 tablespoon molasses.

Mix together molasses and white sugar with fork (or whisk, or whatever you want).

And as Emeril would say, BOOM! Brown Sugar.
Ok, so here's my recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 bag of chocolate chips

Beat butter and peanut butter on medium-high for 30 seconds.
Add white sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat in egg and vanilla.
Beat in flour (as much as you can).

Add chocolate chips!
Roll into one inch balls and place on cookie sheet.
Bake 7-9 minutes (I usually stay towards 7 minutes so they stay super soft) at 375 degrees.

The best part is, I couldn't even tell that I hadn't used the regular brown sugar, but my homemade version instead. If anything, the homemade brown sugar made it taste better! I might be using this technique more in the future...


Happy eating!

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