Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Letters to baby

This is a sneak preview to all of the goodies I've been making for the baby shower this weekend. I am so excited to see everyone. I'm especially excited to see my students while I'm up there, I miss them!

I made up these fill-in-the-blank letters addressed to my baby nephew that will be coming soon. I thought it would be fun to have guests at the shower fill them in and then collect them in a book for the new mommy to read (and also Riot when he's older). This was my test run. I had Ryan's mom fill one in last night. I love her answers.

To see the finished product go here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

DIY Bride's Survival Kit

Ryan and I are heading to Vegas tomorrow, for my best friend Stacey's wedding! I wanted to put together a little kit for her before we left. One never knows what kind of last minute emergency will arise while the bridal party is getting ready, which makes a little kit like this a relief to have around. It turned out to be really easy and fun to make.

I started with a red tin lunchbox (leftover from a store-bought hot cocoa kit) and used double-stick tape  to hold the paper on the front. Isn't that second font amazing? It's called JFRingmaster and you can download it here.

I brainstormed for things a gal might need on her wedding day while getting ready: all those little just-in-case items, things she might need and didn't think to grab. I put together a list and hit the store. The shopping was pretty easy. A lot of the items can be found in the travel size section.

I posted the list of items inside the lid, so that she can easily see exactly what's in there without having to dig through it all. Not that bride's are ever crunched for time. :)

Of course, I had to throw in some chocolate. The bars are wrapped in patterned paper using double-stick tape as well. These happen to be a family fave: Cookies 'n Cream Hershey Bars. These might also come in handy in case the make-up artist (my very pregnant sister) gets a craving. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Thank You

We had some very ripe bananas sitting in our kitchen, so I decided to make some bread to share with family. I love this recipe. My mom and I have been making it for years. You will absolutely love the smell of vanilla and cinnamon as it bakes. It's amazing for breakfast or a midnight snack.

Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from Eat Up Slim Down
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You'll need a 8" x 4" loaf pan. You can either coat it with non-stick spray or line it with parchment paper. I decided to use parchment paper this time. I don't know why I don't do this every time, it's so much easier to get the load out and the pan stays clean.

First mix up the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and the egg whites. Add in the melted butter and vanilla yogurt.

Take a fork and mash up the bananas, then add them to the yogurt mixture. Now, slowly stir in the dry ingredients little by little. Finally, the best part, fold in the chocolate chips!

Pour the batter into the pan. Make sure you use a spatula to get every last bit of the yummy goodness, because the batter will be sticky. Bake for 50-55 minutes. The bread should be golden brown when finished. Look how easy it comes out with parchment paper. It's as simple as peeling it back.

I decided to share the two loaves that I had made with family. Ryan's parents had just watched our little Doxie while we were out of town. Who doesn't love an edible thank you? First, I laid it out on some clean parchment paper and sliced it.

I had these pastry boxes that I had found at Michael's for nine cents! For some reason they were on clearance, so as usual, I loaded my basket with them, knowing I would find a use for them at some point. I lined the pastry box with pretty tissue paper and finished off the loaf with some ribbon.

 Since it was a thank you for doggy-sitting, I used this great paper that I had also bought at Michael's on sale 6/$1. I backed it with some checkered paper then used double-stick tape to stick it to itself, making it easy to slide off the box and dive into the deliciousness inside.

With the second loaf, I saved half for us (I couldn't resist). The other half I decided to wrap up for Ryan's Noni (a play on the Italian word for grandmother).

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Caprese Panini

Ryan and I just bought a panini maker. 3 days later...I don't know how I ever lived without one! It takes only a couple of minutes to create an amazing sandwich.

I love love love Caprese salad, which is weird since I'm not the biggest fan of tomatoes. It's just so light and fresh. With fresh mozzarella sitting in my fridge and an out-of-control basil plant on my porch, I decided to make a Caprese panini.

All you need is:
  • Bread, sturdy and thickly sliced (I used sourdough from Trader Joe's)
  • Fresh mozzarella 
  • Tomato
  • Basil leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt 
  • Fresh ground black pepper

The ooey-gooey cheese, the crispy bread and the fragrant basil make a heavenly sandwich, let me tell you! If you don't own a panini maker yet, add it to your Christmas list. It's so worth it.

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Bottle Shower Favors

I've been working on the favors for my sister's baby shower. I was inspired by these Christmas gifts using the same bottles at Kerry's Paper Crafts. I went in search of paper and all of the paper stacks were 50% off at Michaels. Total score! This set is from My Mind's Eye. I love it because it's boy-themed and it has a retro look to it.

This is what they look like after the first step. They're still a work in progress. I'll post the finished product soon. They're really cute!

To see the finished product, click here.

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