Thursday, September 5, 2013

Homemade Zucchini Bread (without oil or refined sugar!)

Does anyone else feel it? That slight crisp chill in the air, or the way the days have been progressively getting shorter and shorter? It may not be as noticeable for you Californians or Arizonians, but us Western Washingtonians are definitely feeling it.

Did I resist it at first? HELLO...um...YES! I was totally not ready to say sayonara to summer. But now I have a bad case of autumnites. I even bought a couple new fall decoration at Michael's yesterday (shhhh). I even considered hanging this picture, but I thought that may be pushing it...
 Pumpkin picking circa October 2012

That being said, fall is (probably prematurely) in full swing at our house. We're talking pumpkin spice candles, scarecrows, pumpkins, and homemade baked goods, which brings me to the whole point of this post, you ready?
 I made HOMEMADE ZUCCHINI BREAD! Okay, okay that isn't that epic but can I just say...YUM! And the best part?? There is no oil or refined sugar so you can feel waaaaay less guilty about indulging in a delicious fall treat (while making your house smell ammmmazing)!
 
 Just look at those delicious, moist slices of yumminess. I must admit, even hubby approved and he didn't even detect the healthiness of it! Always a score at my house. Give it a whirl! Let me know what you and/or your family thinks!

Ingredients:
3 C all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs
3/4 C applesauce
1 C honey
3 tsp vanilla
2 C grated zuccini
1 c walnuts or chocolate chips (I left these out, they are completely optional)

Directions (sorry for the lack of pictures!): 
{1} Grease and flour two 8x4 loaf pans and preheat oven to 325F (or 300F if convect baking)
{2} Mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl
{3} Beat eggs, applesauce, vanilla, and honey together in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture, one cup at a time, until well blended. Stir in zucchini until well incorporated. Pour batter into pre-greased pans 
{4} Bake 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. If you need more cooking time, continue cooking for 5 minute increments until done.
{5} When done, remove from oven, let cool for 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. After 20 minutes, you can remove the loaves from their pans to finish cooling
{4} Enjoy!!
 
What is your favorite fall treat?
 XOXO Britnae

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Helloooooo

Hello! Wow. Has summer been this crazy for anyone else? Phew! Needless to say my summer absence has left me with a very lonely neglected blog and all of my lovely followers wondering (at least this is what I tell myself) where I went! Well I am back!

Just to satisfy your curiosity, because I know you are dying to know what we have been up to, here is a list of our summer so far:

-Disneyland with hubby's family (SO fun, but the 5 day park hopper almost killed me)
-Our own family trip to Leavenworth
-My Sis and her fam along with my mom visited for a week
-Colorado trip for a niece's baptism

And...Coming up:
-Going away in two days for a surprise (thanks honey!) anniversary weekend trip to the coast (SUPER EXCITED, especially since we aren't taking the kids woohoo!)
-Weekend trip down to eastern WA to visit my grandparents

And in case you aren't convinced that I was really all that busy, I have been working part time in between and trying to keep up with normal things like laundry, dishes, the bathroom (eeps!), and a blog (which I think we already decided was poorly neglected, sorry blog!).

Never fear, more craft lovin' will be coming your way soon.

P.s. anyone else getting excited for Halloween???? Stay tuned, some spooky things will be coming your way soon!

XOXO Britnae

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Fighting For My Life"

A few weeks ago I was contacted by an individual with an incredible story. Her name is Heather and she is a Malignant Plural Mesothelioma survivor. I couldn't help but feel honored when she asked me to share her story.

 Heather left, husband Cameron middle, daughter Lily right

Malignant Plural Mesothelioma is a rare cancer often diagnosed in people who have been exposed to high levels of asbestos. In Heather's case it resulted in a projected 15 months without immediate treatment. Her daughter Lily was only 3 1/2 months old at the time of diagnosis.

  
Heather and baby Lily

When Heather was just a little girl she was unknowingly exposed to asbestos from her father's work clothes. Years later at the young age of 36, she was diagnosed with this life threatening form of cancer. Her hope in asking me to share her story was to get the word out about this form of cancer because it is 100% preventable.

I wanted to share a little of Heather's story, her view on life and attitude is incredible to me. Many people would throw their hands up and call it quits, but Heather fought back.

"I felt especially unprepared when 3 1/2 months after the birth of my daughter, I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. My doctor explained that without immediate treatment I would have an estimated 15 months to live. Beating this disease became my ultimate goal, and I was prepared to do anything and everything I could to succeed. It wasn't about just me anymore - it was about Lily, my husband and our life together. I wasn't about to surrender the life I'd always dreamed about without a fight." -Heather Von St. James

Heather after surgery

"Boston, MA turned out to be my best option. While the treatment for mesothelioma itself was difficult, the hardest part of it was the 1,200 mile distance between me and my daughter. I longed to be near her, spending our days together, and watching her learn and grow and play. Instead, I underwent surgery where the doctors removed my left lung as well as the lining of my heart and diaphragm. It was exhausting, and without a doubt the longest month of my life." -Heather

I cannot even try to imagine what it must have been like having a newborn baby, and then going through intense surgery to remove a life threatening cancer. Heather is an inspiration.

When you get a chance please check out Heather's website. Her hope is that by reaching out to everyone she can, that she can raise awareness of this form of cancer and be a positive resource for those seeking treatment and support.

XOXO Britnae 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dairy Free Cream of Chicken Soup

Happy Saturday!! I hope you are all doing something exciting, it's a beautiful day out here in the northwest and you are probably asking yourself WHY I am blogging instead of playing. The real answer, one of my kids is asleep and my hubby is working. Also, because I am super excited to share this life saving recipe with you! 

When I decided to try eating more clean and start cutting processed junk out of our family's diet, I had a hard time giving up cream of chicken soup. We aren't a huge casserole family but we do love Hawaiian haystacks, green bean casserole (which technically is a casserole but we don't eat it as the main dish so it squeaks by), and a couple others that all call for the slop in a can that we call "Cream of Chicken Soup".

Obviously the ingredients in the canned cream of chicken soup don't quite stand up to my new clean eating standards, so I went on a search for homemade cream of chicken soup recipes. It turns out, it's super simple to make and tastes SOOOO much better than that junk in the can. I mean come on people, anything with "cream" in the name should not be sitting on a shelf in my opinion, it should be in a cardboard container in the fridge. 

For some reason I have had a slight aversion to dairy as well. Not sure why, but I prefer to drink almond milk instead these days. So, all this being said I was making Hawaiian Haystacks one night and realized I was out of milk for the cream of chicken soup. Dang! So, I got a little creative and subbed almond milk (unsweetened) for the dairy called for in the original recipe. The results were amazing! My husband (who I swear has a 6th sense when it comes to new ingredients in food, I mean it's ridiculous, I can't get away with anything!) couldn't even tell a difference! Score!
 
Dairy-Free Cream of Chicken Soup (adapted from Pinch of Yum)
Ingredients:
   2½ cups chicken broth
   1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
   ¾ cup flour
   Seasonings (½ tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. salt, 
    ½ tsp. parsley)

Directions:
   1. Combine the chicken broth and ½ cup of the almond milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low    boil.
   2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour and seasonings into the remaining 1 cup almond milk until a smooth, thick mixture forms.
   3. Pour the flour and almond milk mixture into the saucepan with the broth mixture over low heat and stir continuously, whisking as the mixture simmers. Continue to simmer and stir/whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick, 5-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken a bit as it cools.
Look at that deliciousness! Yum! A perfectly "whole" replacement for that yucky shelf stable stuff.

What recipes would you use this replacement in?

XOXO Britnae

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pottery Barn Inspired Flag Banner

Hello lovelies! Today I am super excited because I have a really fun DIY for you all!


Before I start, can I just say that I have not been this excited to share a tutorial since I started this blog, and that is saying something, because there have been a lot of projects that I have loved since starting.

So, about a month ago I was flipping through the June Pottery Barn catalog drooling over all of the ridiculously perfect, beautiful, things. Only in my dreams would my house ever come close to looking that way. I can dream though, right?

While flipping through the pages, wiping drool, flipping, wiping, you get the idea... I found this:
Photo courtesy of poterybarn.com

Adorable! I am a fan of the whole banner thing, and how cute is this? But for $22.50 I couldn't do it. Especially knowing very well that I could make one for half the price or less. I mean come on people, burlap, twine, and paint? Count me in.

Here is my version of the above adorable pottery barn flag banner:
I am in love, seriously my husband started laughing at me when I finished it and started trying to hang it everywhere. Like this awesome vintage window I found at an antique store during our last vacay.
And here is one on my wall...
...and on the deck...

OKAY! I know, I'm a weirdo but I'm kind of proud of my creation. I think that I am just excited about the fact that I duplicated something that I love, which makes me love it more because it's the thing I loved but made by me! Does that make any sense? Yes, no? Anyways, I want you to be able to join me in this patriotic love fest so lets move on to the tutorial.
Materials:
  • Blonde Burlap (I bought a yard and could probably make at least 3 more banners, so you could get away with 1/2  yard for sure, leaving you some extra for goof ups)
  • Scissors
  • Jute twine
  • Acrylic Paint (the deeper of color the better)
  • Elmer's glue
  • Small paintbrush (not pictured)
  • Painter's tape (also not pictured)
  • Foam brush
  • 6 small paper stars (about 1.5' x 1.5' I cut these out on my silhouette but you could get some stickers or cut your own by hand!) 
Step 1:
  • Cut your triangles
  • I ended up cutting out 9, the original Pottery Barn banner has 7, it's all preference.
Step 3: 
  • Fray edges, and seal with glue
  •  Fray your edges slightly to give the banner a more rustic feel, be careful not to do too much or else your entire burlap triangle will fall to pieces, burlap is tricky like that.
  • I like to lay one hand near the edge and then fray with the other. It's hard to describe, but I do it so that the fibers don't fray too far
  • Next, paint the frayed edges with white Elmer's glue on all edges and both sides. This is so the fray will stay in place and won't continue the fray any further (not this will make your banner fairly stiff, but it's worth it to preserve it)
Step 4:
  • Lets start with the stars, place the 6 stars on the triangle
 
 


  •  While holding down your star, paint around the first star's edges, then the next, etc...
 
  • when you have finished painting over the stars, fill in the rest with blue paint
  •  Now, you can either leave it painted only on one side, or you can paint the other side too after it dries (I painted both because I wanted to be able to hang it multiple places, including those that may show the back)
  • After you have painted all of your starts, move on to the stripes (I painted the blue front, then did the red, then went back to finish painting the back sides)
  •  I used painters tape to do my stripes, but regular masking tape would work fine as well
 
  • Remove tape, and let dry
(Look at those bad boys! Crisp, clean stripes.)

Step 5:
  • Once the fronts are dry, paint the backs (if desired)
Step 6:
  • After the paint has dried completely, hot glue the triangles to the jute twine
  • Leave 2 feet of extra twine at the ends for hanging later
  • Glue your first triangle (I started and ended with blue, it's totally up to you how you do it)
 
  • Place twine a little way down the triangle so you can fold in over the twine
  • Hot glue on the bottom of the twine, and then once you have glued down the whole thing on your triangle, go back and glue on the top, folding down the excess on top of the twine as shown below)
  •  Glue your next triangle, spacing it 2 inches from the first. Repeat until finished!
 Step 6:
  • Step back and admire your beautiful creation! Go right ahead, stare at it, you deserve it!
 
XOXO Britnae

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Hi World! Did you miss me?!?! Between our family trip to Disneyland and summer already here, I have managed to successfully and recklessly abandon my dear blog and for that I am sorry. But, I have a feeling you may forgive my absence after I share this amazing Strawberry Lemonade recipe with you!
For the first time ever I went strawberry picking with my cute little family! We have an amazing "U-Pick" strawberry farm about a half hour away from where we live and strawberries are on and they are delicious! We were only there for a little less than an hour and came out with TEN POUNDS (which sounds like a ton but we are already through them! *OINK OINK*).
Did I mention these amazing strawberries are only $1.00 per pound?! Needless to say, I feel a strong urge to go back and get more. I would be lying if I said that I didn't eat at least half a pound after we got home. Seriously I can't even describe how much tastier, juicer, and better these strawberries are from store bought ones. I'm in love.
On our way home from picking my hubby and I were talking about all the things we could make with the strawberries, and naturally Strawberry Lemonade was at the top of his list (only one of his most favorite drinks ever!) so of course we stopped by the store on our way home for lemons...at 8:30pm...with tired kids... come on, priorities people!
So, here you go, the moment you have been waiting for...(drum roll please!)

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade!
(I can't resist my little G man sometimes, he is so cute)

Ingredients:
2 C Fresh strawberries, mashed (not purred)
2 C White sugar
Zest of one lemon in long strips
Juice from 5 large lemons (or 10 small)
5 1/2 C Cold water


Step One:
-Grab your strawberries, and mash enough for about 1 1/2 cups mashed strawberries (I used a pastry blender as shown)
-Add 1 1/2 cup white sugar
-Let sit for at least 45 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and creates a syrup like consistency in the strawberry mix (I actually left mine covered in the fridge for a couple days until I could make the lemonade)

Step Two:
-Grab a lemon and cut the peel, in wide strips, off the lemon.
Try to avoid getting too much of the white part of the skin when you cut off the peel. This means cutting the peel fairly thin.

Step Three:
-Put lemon strips, 1/2 C sugar, and 1 1/2 C water into a small sauce pan
-Bring to a boil and let boil for about 5 minutes, or until all the sugar dissolves and the water starts to turn a faint yellow 
-Strain the peel from the liquid
-Let cool completely, it should be light yellow in color and should smell lightly of lemon
Step Four:
-Squeeze your lemons!!!
-Squeeze all 5 lemons (including the one you peeled) into a small bowl
-Strain the juice into another bowl to remove all seeds

Step 5:
-Pour lemon juice, lemon syrup, 4 C cold water, and strawberry syrup into a large pitcher
Are you getting excited?! This boy is!!
 
 -Now just stir that bad boy up!
Congratulations! You made it!!!! Now go and enjoy that Strawberry Lemonade, you deserve a nice tall glass.
Look at all that strawberry goodness. Umhmmm!
It sure went fast over here!

I would LOVE to hear what you think, so please leave me a comment!

XOXO Britnae
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