Friday, August 8, 2014

The Best Healthy(ish) Cookies I Ever Made

I've been having mad chocolate chip cookie cravings lately.  And apparently this child will be satisfied by nothing but chocolate chip cookies.  Not fruit.  Not just plain chocolate.  It had to be chocolate chip cookies.  When I bake, I try to do it as healthily as possible, especially now since it's not just me my food choices effect.  So I like to make lots of substitutions.  One of my favorites is swapping out applesauce for oil/butter.  It's amazing and I seriously can't even tell the difference.  My non applesauce loving husband can't either unless I tell him.

So I set about to make chocolate chip cookies yesterday morning.  Well, to be more exact, I mixed them up in the morning and baked them in the afternoon.  And here's the thing.  I hate making cookies.  Or I used to.  And I finally realized why.  It's the mixing.  Mixing sucks.  But when you just dump it in your stand mixer, amazing.  So maybe I realized I don't really hate making cookies, I'm just lazy. 

And now I'm shutting up and telling you how to make these amazing cookies.  They are approved by me, my husband, this child that is still under cover, and my adorable nephew.


Healthy-ish Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural applesauce (I buy the little individual cups and just dump one in)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla (I just used a tiny bit of vanilla because I was almost out and these were still delicious)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups old fashioned oats (these are the only kind you should ever buy in my opinion.  It's what I use for breakfast, even cooked in the microwave they're amazing and less processed!)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 (if you're baking your cookies now, if not, leave it alone and preheat it when you're actually going to bake your cookies so you don't burn down your house leaving your oven on all day).  Cream together butter, applesauce, and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add flour gradually (unless you're using your stand mixer, then just dump it all in and let'er rip.)  I like to mix the baking powder, soda and salt into my flour ahead of time so it combines better.  Mix in oats.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by the spoonful onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake 11-13 minutes.

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.  Now, the number of cookies it makes is not exact, obviously.  I don't use a cookie scoop.  I just scoop them out with a cereal eating spoon.  This makes a perfectly lovely size of cookie.

Now go make these cookies.  And enjoy them with a tall glass of milk (skim is my choice!).  They are baby approved!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Living Room Update

Well, I've been sort of stumped.  I had some changes I wanted to make to the living room but I just couldn't come up with what I wanted.  I knew the mantle area needed some updating, but I was stuck.

So, this is what we had going on.
  
Well, a while back anyway.  It was the best picture I could find.  It was fine.  But the mirror had been up there as long as we've lived here and I was ready for something new.  That's when my next problem came into play.

My dad made me this great wooden toolbox, exactly like the one my grandpa had carried when he was a construction worker.  So, it's very cool.  And I love it.  I just didn't know what to do with it.  I finally grabbed some white hydrangeas at Hobby Lobby and some floral foam and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  So I switched that out for the mirror on the mantle.
Pretty good, but it still needs something...  And if you're curious, that's a pheasant tail you're seeing over on the left.  My husband went hunting in South Dakota a while back and for this year's Christmas present I had his pheasant (that had been in my deep freeze for the past year) mounted.

So, the other day I was at JoAnn's picking up supplies for the cupcakes I'm baking for my sister's wedding and I saw these giant letters.  I knew I needed one.  Amazing and cheap.  I just didn't know where it was going to go or how I was going to jazz it up.   My brilliant husband says "Why don't you put it up above the fireplace"  Oh man, that's exactly why I married him.

I painted the whole thing gold with some craft paint I had on hand.  Then I grabbed my mod podge and gold glitter and headed to the deck.  The deck is the perfect place to glitter.  No glitter trail in my house.  I don't know why I never thought about it.  After my glitter had time to dry, I shook off the excess, my giant H came back inside the house to get hung on the fireplace.  I just used a 3M tab.


Have I mentioned I love summer vacation?  I've gotten so much done, it's great!  I'll be back soon with more of my summer projects.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Summer To Do List

I can't wait for summer to be here.  This year is going to be full of big changes.  I'm ready to tackle all of them head on.

Some of those big changes are going to involve switching things up in our house.

Recently we did a little updating of our hall bathroom.  We took down the towel bar and installed some shelves.  Well, those shelves are still completely empty and the whole room is in need of reorganization.  So that's on the list.

I'm also hoping this will be a summer of purging.  I need to go through all of our closets and get rid of things we don't use and just reorganize everything.  I feel like even though we've lived in our house for over three years, there are still areas that are not well organized and things that don't really have a home.  The main trouble areas:  the laundry room, the craft room/office, and the spare bedroom.  So, basically the places that are all prone to piles.

We're also hoping to do some landscaping/outside work.  The dream is to fence part of our yard so our dog can be outside more and have more space to play.  I also have to do something with my flower beds where our yuccas are planted.  Right now the accurate name for them would be weed beds.  They are out of control.  It's fairly embarrassing.   Also, we got a couple of big pots to put out in front of our house, right now they're sitting empty.  So that definitely needs to be fixed.  I'm hoping for some hydrangeas.  They're my favorite.

The garage needs some major love in hopes that someday my car can fit inside.  This will mean buying a shed for our three lawn mowers....  And getting rid of the broken TV that's been sitting in the garage for longer than I care to admit.

So, let's make an actual list.  I think I need it to be completely broken down so I can cross things off.
Hall Bathroom:
-Reorganize lower cabinet
-Reorganize upper cabinet
-Get creative with some storage solutions.  I'm thinking a cute wooden box to put my make up in.
-Find a couple little cute things (including a clock) to put on our new shelves
Laundry Room:
-Organize, organize, organize!
-Get rid of clutter
-Keep up on laundry (doing much better on this lately!)
Craft Room/Office:
-Get rid of more junk!
-Rearrange furniture
-Get rid of some furniture
-Maybe get rid of desktop computer (that we never use)
Spare Bedroom:
-Clean out the closet
-Donate clothes
Master Bedroom:
-Clean out closet & dressers
-New dressers?
-Paint and hang antlers for jewelry rack
Outside:
-Serious landscaping/weed removal
-Plant some pretty flowers
-Clean out garage
-Buy a shed
-Build a fence

Whew!  Anybody have a pile of money laying around they want to share?  I'm thinking this whole list may not get done this summer but a girl can hope!  Maybe a garage sale is in my future too.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Luscious Lemon Salad

I'm not sure if it's the warm springy weather or if I'm channeling my inner 1950s housewife, but Jell-O salads have been sounding especially good.  Or that I grew up eating Jell-O salad.  Either way. 

I'm sharing a recipe I got a from a co-worker a few years ago.  It's the perfect springy side item.  And in my mother's words, it can be a dessert or a salad.  I'm actually going to make it to bring to work tomorrow.


It's seriously so good.  And I know, it sounds like something your grandma would make, but just trust me.  It's delicious.  And I can't wait to make some to eat tomorrow.

What food are you guys whipping up this spring?  Anybody else channeling their inner June Cleaver?  No?  Just me?  Okay.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Couple of Tiny Projects

My parents came up this weekend which meant it was project time.  My dad and husband replaced the back door to our garage.  It's so nice to have a door that's solid and not completely scary looking on the inside.

And they did a couple of other little inside projects.  Remember when we installed our new bathroom sink and we found an outlet behind the mirror.  That beautiful little outlet has been sitting naked for over a year because the outlet was recessed too far into the wall.  I bought an outlet cover and it's just been hanging out on a shelf.  So, my dad did a little tweaking and now....
So I need to touch up the paint from where I sanded the wall down.  But, so much better.  It had been driving my mom crazy ever since I got the wall painted.  So, now it's fixed.

Then there was another bathroom project.  When we first moved in, I installed a towel bar above the toilet.  It looked like this.
Cute, right?  Well, we never used the towels.  Like ever.  And they were always dusty.  We hang the towels we actually use on hooks in our master bathroom.  So I had a plan cooking in my head...  My dad was done with everything else I had on my list, I mentioned my idea to my mom and she went out and told my dad what I wanted done....

Notice something missing?  The towel bar is gone!  Now I'm left with a big empty space.  Oh, and that clock is gone.  It hadn't worked right for.... um, months.  The time on it was never right so it's gone too.  You can't see it, but there are 12 holes drilled with hollow wall anchors in them, just waiting....

For these bad boys to be finished.  I'm going to install three shelves up the wall with L brackets.  They just need to get painted.  You may be thinking, L brackets?  If you've ever priced the fancy decorative shelf brackets, they're crazy expensive.  Or I think they are, especially for what they are.  So, I used some small L brackets on our laundry room shelves and it has worked great so we went the same route.  I didn't make the hardware store trip, but I saw the amount online when I checked my bank account, around $15 for six brackets and a 6 foot long 1x8 board.  Not too shabby!  And I already have paint on hand.

So, these are getting painted this week and will go up by next weekend hopefully.  I can't wait!  And if I can find something reasonably priced, I'm going to put three towel hooks on the back of the bathroom door so we can quit carrying our towels around.

What were you guys up to over the weekend?  Anybody else tackling those tiny things on their to do list that have been lingering?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Things I've Finally Finished

I have been in a total DIY rut.  And I've had half finished projects all over the house.  I also have a craft room that is a complete disaster.  I've organized it a couple of times but it never manages to stay organized.  I'm guessing that means the system I have in place doesn't work.  So, over Easter I'm hoping to tackle that business again.

But, the good news is over the past week I've finally completed some projects that have been hanging over my head.  And you're going to have to excuse the horrible pictures, as part of my extreme laziness I apparently couldn't take pictures until after dark...

I made new wreaths for my front doors.  I still had the Valentines ones up until um.... last week.  Oops.  But they're up.  And I'm fairly happy with them.  For the kitchen door, I just wrapped a whole piece of fabric around a wreath and trimmed it out with some ribbon.  I loved the pattern of the fabric and wanted to keep it in tact.  I didn't add anything extra because the pattern was pretty busy on its own.

I also made one for our actual front door.  I grabbed some black and white hounds tooth fabric to wrap my wreath with.  I had planned on making felt flowers.  But apparently I have a huge mental block when it comes to making them.  I like to consider myself a pretty crafty person but felt flowers and I do not get along.  So I finally gave up and made some springy pom poms that I just stuck on with straight pins so I can switch them out later if I want.

And I finally finished painting the inside of our front door!  I may have done the running man in celebration.  I started painting it.... Um, I don't even remember when.  It was on a total whim and I was in love.  But when I pulled the tape off around the door knob and lock, I also pulled off part of the paint.  I never bothered to fix it and my mistake has been staring me in the face daily.  Last night I finally grabbed the paint and a brush and fixed it.  It's so much better now and I don't know why I didn't fix it sooner.

It's funny how sometimes those little projects get put off and they end up making such a huge difference.  And they end up taking no time at all.  What are you guys working on these days?  Anybody else doing a little spring sprucing?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Root Beer and Bicycling

Here's the deelio kids.  Spring is the tied for the most crazy busy time of my year.  And I get insanely overwhelmed and it causes general grumpiness.  And it occasionally causes me to put together inappropriate work outfits that are only okay with a sweater and then I have to take that sweater off because I am stress sweating and then my co-worker catches me dressed very inappropriately....  Not that that has ever happened....  *sheepishly looks at the ground

Anyway.  So spring means I have to really take care of myself or I will straight up lose my mind.  I'm a little scattery to start with and from now until the end of the school year it just gets worse.

So, as I'm sitting at my desk drinking a root beer (totally not part of my healthy eating plan) I'm thinking about what I will do after work that will make me happy.

First:  Going to the gym.  And getting in a really good work out.  At least an hour.  Maybe longer if I'm feeling crazy motivated.
Second:  Grocery shopping.  Not really fun but I meal plan every week and it starts the week off right to pick up my groceries on Monday.  It sounds crazy but it totally helps to not have to think about dinner every night.
Third:  I'm gonna get my craft on.  I still have my Valentines wreaths on our outside doors.  Um, it's March.  I've got to get on that.  I picked up supplies for two new wreaths over the weekend and I'm super psyched to make those tonight.

What about you guys?  Do you have a particularly stressful season at work?  What do you do to combat that?  Or just to combat stress in general?  Someone tell me to quit drinking root beer...