Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FREE Canvas Deal through Wink Flash

Ever since my wedding photos came in I have been obsessed with canvas prints.  I have purchased and used Groupons to get 2 canvas prints that are 16x24 that are hanging in my living room!!  These are the two I already have -

Today I got an email from Winkflash for a free 8x10 canvas for new customers.  I have never used them before...but I will be ordering a canvas from them this evening.  Check out the deal HERE if you are interested or use code MYFREECANVAS at checkout.  

 If you make one, leave a comment and let me know what photo you used.  You have until April 4th to make your canvas.

Here are the photos I am deciding from.  Let me know which one you like best -

Monday, March 28, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday
linking up with Carissa over at lowercase letters

1. Baking

Yesterday I made Heath Bar Cookies .  I used about 3/4 a bag of the Heath bits and then added a 1/2 a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Some of the comments said they didn't turn out too good...but mine were amazing.  I love baking my cookies in a muffin top pan.   I love baking and continue to plan my bakery business.

2. Reading or Lack Thereof

I am a teacher.  I so should be reading more than I do.  Every time I sit down to read... I get distracted by a TV show or a blog.  It's horrible.  I need to be better about this.  I have The Help, Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity,  and Parenting Teens with Love and Logic all needing to be read.

3. House Hunting

We are still house hunting via the Internet from our home in Virginia.  It stinks.  Most of the houses are a lot more money than what we are paying now.  We see things that catch out eye, but we refuse to commit to anything without seeing it in person.  We go in April for an official house hunting trip.  My fingers are crossed we find something we love. I am all about something VERY affordable...as I have dreams of one day soon not having to work.   Here is a cute little one we are interested in -

4. Cooking & Our Budget

For the sake of our wallets... I am trying really hard each week to create meal plans and shopping lists to eat more at home.  I have been cutting coupons and trying to shop sales.  It is hard.  I feel like grocery prices are so expensive.  I am also trying to use coupons or Groupons when we go out to eat.  For instance, last Friday we went to Friendly's for dinner.  We had a buy one get one free coupon - which meant my meal was free.  We saved around $9...which was a pretty good deal.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Easy Homemade Peanut Butter Banana Bread Recipe

I made this delicious recipe last week.  I thought it was amazing.  I took a standard banana bread recipe and threw in a huge scoop of reduced-fat Jif peanut butter.  I cannot wait to make it again.  No more boxed banana breads for me...this will be my new go to banana bread recipe.  If peanut butter isn't your thing, feel free to omit it.  If you end up making this, please leave a comment and let me know.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Here is the recipe -

Ingredients -

 1  and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of white sugar
2 eggs - slightly beaten
3 large, ripe bananas - mashed
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup peanut butter - slightly melted (about 30 seconds in the microwave)

Directions - 

Grease a standard size loaf pan.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar.  Mix in the slightly beaten eggs, mashed bananas, and peanut butter.  Stir in the melted butter.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake for 50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove it from the pan and continue to allow it to cool completely on a cooling rack.

* I used the spray butter/flour combo to spray in my pan
* I used a Pampered Chef loaf pan
* I used Jif reduced fat peanut butter

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Friday Funny

 I had to laugh this afternoon when my co-worker, a male in his forties, came over to show me a note a student handed him in class.  He was blushing... I don't think he was expecting this note when he opened it up {I used a blue marker to cover the names}-

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Thursday via Blackberry Photos

After a very rough 90 minute class with my 5th bell I treated myself to to this yummy snack on my break.  A slice of the yummy homemade peanut butter banana bread I made last night.  I let Madison be in charge of the bananas.  Once I put the loaf in the oven and looked over where we keep the bananas, I realized she used 3 new organic (the store was out of the regular ones) bananas.  The 3 brown bananas I had intended for the bread were still on the counter.  By the way... I love Cherry Coke Zero.

I came home to find my new magazine subscription had arrived of Food Network Magazine.  I love cooking and baking and I love magazines...so I added this to my cart the last time I was ordering from Amazon.  I cannot wait to read it.

This morning I put this carnitas recipe into the crock pot.  I love this recipe because it requires just a few ingredients, cooks all day while I am at work, and my entire family enjoys it.  We use the filling to make soft tacos with all of the fixings with a side of Spanish rice.  My husband may or may not have had 5 soft tacos for dinner tonight...it was that good.  You should also make it because it is a recipe from Kelle Hampton - who is an amazing woman with a pretty fabulous blog.  If you have never read her blog, you must grab some tissues for some happy tears and start with this post .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monday FUN Day - Shopping, Food, & a Crazy Mom at Panera

Madison and I went shopping at Garden Ridge with my mom yesterday.  We didn't find much.  A lot of it seem overpriced.  I did see these cupcake canvas paintings for $14.95 which I liked...would be great in a bakery one day...I could also probably make them myself.

Madison thought this monkey was hilarious and posed for a photo beside it.

Next, we headed to Panera for lunch.  YUM!  I love their toffee nut cookie and plan on re-creating it at home very soon.  Madison had her usual Panera meal - a plain bagel with plain cream cheese.

Sitting near us was a mom with a newborn in an infant carrier.  When her food order was ready...she left the baby at her table...and went up to get her food and was gone for several minutes where the baby was not in her view.  My mom and I were stunned.  Two additional times during lunch she left the baby unattended at the table.  SCARY!!  I guess she wasn't aware that people KIDNAP babies!!  She could have asked a stranger to keep an eye on the baby OR asked a stranger to get her food for her - sheesh...I know I would have.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Miscellany Monday

I am linking up over at lowercase letters today for miscellany monday.

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

1. No work Monday

My mom came into town yesterday for work.  Madison and I both stayed home from school today to hang out with her.  Our plan is for some lunch (hopefully Chipotle) and shopping in a bit.  I also need to go to the grocery store (which I neglected to go to yesterday).  It is raining and thundering now and I am REALLY hoping my power doesn't go out.

2. Cookies

I made an order of jumbo chocolate chip cookies last night for an order my husband took at this job.  I also made  some regular sized ones too.  I used a new recipe and these were AMAZING.  I love when I make something and impress myself.

3. Catching up on some TV

After my husband left for work this morning I couldn't fall back asleep.  So I caught up on an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County and an episode of One Born Every Minute. 

4. A future art project

I picked up the materials at the local arts and crafts store last night to make this art project that I read about on the blog, Two Girls Being Crafty.  It is a knock-off of a piece sold at a popular store. Canvases were 50% off so I chose two 8x8 canvases to attempt this project.  If all goes well...I will share the results soon.  Isn't it so neat? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Super Saturday

This morning we slept in until almost 10 AM...which I hardly ever do.  Today's weather was amazing.  We  decided to take a drive down to Nags Head, North Carolina (something we have been discussing for weeks).  After a quick stop at Wawa for gas and some snacks...we were on our way.

Our first stop was lunch at Mulligans.  Chris and I ate there back when we were dating and really enjoyed it.  So we drove until we hit it and then stopped for lunch. 

Then we headed to a spot where we could walk on the beach.

Then we stopped at a place called Ben Franklin.  I worked at a place called Ben Franklin which was an arts and crafts store...which is what we thought it was when we stopped.  This Ben Franklin was a touristy t-shirt and souvenir shop.  I thought it was filled with a lot of junk until I came across this piece of art and just had to have it.  My husband and I decided we will use it to decorate a bathroom when we move this summer.  I love it.  I love all of the bright colors and the alphabet theme.  Best of all...it was $19.99.
Madison has been asking for a few weeks to go to Rita's Ice.  So we found one and stopped.  She had a blue raspberry ice.

Our last stop before heading home was a huge gift shopped called the Cotton Gin.  Seriously the place kept going and going.  Maddie ended up with a super cute pair of flip flops that were marked down to $18.00 and I ended up finding the wallet to match the Vera Bradley bag I got for Christmas.  My mom and I had looked everywhere for it and hadn't been able to find it.  I was so happy to find it at this store.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

These are the Days

I LOVE days I stay home from work.  This morning I got up, made Maddie breakfast, and drove her to school.  Then I turned back around and headed home.

I pretty much did nothing all day.  I did clean and sweep the kitchen, chatted with my friend Erin before her 20 week sonogram, attempted to make some rice (I cannot for the life of me get the rice cooker to work correctly) for tonight's dinner, watched a little TV, and caught up on my Google Reader.  I also emailed a company about designing my bakery website.

I had to pick her up early today as it was early release day at school.  She was happy to see me and shared she had a great day at school.  We headed to a late lunch at Chick-Fil-A.  We split the banana pudding milkshake...which was AMAZING.

Then I fell asleep while watching some reality TV.  I made my husband a yummy steak stir fry dinner.

Tomorrow is Friday...and then I will have two more days off of work.  My mom is coming into town this weekend to visit.  Life is good...especially on days when I get to stay home from work.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I am Loving Wednesday

I am linking up today over at This Kind of Love.

I am loving that tomorrow is a SICK DAY for me.  After a day like today I desperately need it.

I am loving that my family and I have stuck with our meal plan this week.  Tonight was a super easy pot roast I threw into the crock pot this morning.  I also made a batch of blueberry muffins (my daughter's favorite) when I got home. Tomorrow will be stir fry and fried rice I plan on making.

I am loving that every week my mom mails me a package.  She always puts the latest issue of People magazine in it and coupon inserts.

I am loving that our local Harris Teeter has a great return policy.  Sunday night I was disappointed to arrive home and realize when I cut into my orange pepper that it was moldy.  Last night I finally had time to return it.  They have a double your money back guarantee on produce.  I happily returned the pepper and left with $5.

I am loving Groop Dealz.  I read about it on another blog this week.  It is sort of like Groupon but for handmade goods and small crafty-ish businesses.  I have been researching packaging options for my bakery plans for weeks.  To my surprise the Groop Dealz was for a place called Garnish where you can order packaging.  SCORE!!

I am loving "Marry Me" by Train.  If you haven't heard it yet...go download it on on iTunes.  AMAZING!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Recipe - Caramel Apple Cookies

Several weeks ago my husband found this recipe and asked me to make these.

I have been putting it off.

Yesterday was the day.


The only thing I would do differently is to use these little caramel chips next time -

I felt using the caramel squares even after I had my husband cut them into little pieces...didn't work out so well.  I also used a granny smith apple - which was a good apple to use for this recipe.

My daughter wanted to help me do the icing. 

The recipe is from the Baking Junkie blog.  A big THANK YOU to her for his fabulous cookie recipe I will be making again and again.

Recipe -

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 2/3 cup flour

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

20 caramels

1 medium apple


4 Tbsp melted butter

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine butter and sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and mix well. Cut each caramel in 6 smaller pieces and add to dough. Peel , core and chop apple into smaller pieces and add to dough. Place larger portions of dough into a greased muffin top pan (will make approximately 18), or form dough into small balls and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake approximately 13 minutes, or until tops of cookies are light golden brown. Allow to cool completely before removing from pans. Meanwhile, combine melted butter and vanilla, then powdered sugar. Add milk to thin (until you reach desired consistency).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Living Room REDO

We are moving this summer.  I have decided since we have to move I am going to redo my living room.  Here is what we are working with.  We have this dark sand colored sectional from Lazy Boy. 

Currently we have burgandy panels on the windows.  We have these two fabrics on the couch in the form of pillows.  Originally I picked this fabric out because the patterned one had a monkey on it.  When the seamstress made the pillows...she cut out the monkey.   I was devestated.  I didn't specify KEEP THE MONKEYS...so I kept the pillows and have used them ever since.  Monkeys or not...they go well with the sectional.

Recently I stumbled across these fabrics.  They are made by Robert Kaufman and the design name is Metro Living.  I love them.  I am thinking of ordering all four fabrics and using the colors from them in the new living room (of the house we haven't even found yet...sigh).  I am going to have new pillows made as well.  I am going to focus on the yellow, green, and orange colors and use the black for the cording around the pillows.  What do you think?

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Middle School Teacher

I teach middle school.

This is my ninth and final year of teaching.

I am worn out. I am frustrated. It has nothing to do with the kids. I am ready for a change.

With that said,  today was a pretty good day. I had a fabulous descriptive writing lesson planned and my three classes today LOVED it. I gave the kids cheese balls and they filled out a 5 senses chart describing their cheese balls. Then they turned it into a descriptive paragraph. I think they were just happy to have the tiny snack. They all love any activity involving food. We had these cheese balls left over from a family gift exchange over Christmas and I thought they would be perfect for this activity.

{Here is a student participating in the activity}
Something funny happened at work today. One being I intercepted this note being passed from one student to another.

This was on the back -

Monday, March 7, 2011

Miscellany Monday

I am linking up with Carissa at lowercase letters today for Miscellany Monday.

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

1.  Dinner

I made an amazing dinner tonight.  I made Chile Honey Chicken.  You have to make it.  It was excellent.

2. House Hunt

We are house hunting from MANY miles away.  We are moving this summer to Rhode Island.  We need a house.  The houses we love are too expensive.  The houses that are affordable are crappy.  Sigh.  I love my house here and wish we could just take it with us.

3. Baking

I baked a bunch this weekend.  My husband sold it to the guys at his job.  I made $50 today.  WOOHOO!! I plan on making mini chocolate bundt cakes with peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache with a peanut butter cup garnish and some St. Patrick's Day cupcakes for him to sell next week.


Yummy Monday Night Meal - Chile Honey Chicken

As I drove home from work tonight...I didn't feel like cooking.  However I did and I am happy to report it turned out great.  I also got to take our wok we received for a wedding gift out of its box to use to make this delicious meal.

I made this amazing Chile Honey Chicken from a great new blog I stumbled across - Check it out -

I will definitely be making again.  Next time I think I will eliminate the frying step.  Once I added the chicken to the sauce it lost its crispiness.  I think it is because I cooked it in the sauce for too long.  I also might add broccoli next time.  I think that would taste great in this recipe.  I served it with white rice and chicken egg rolls from Trader Joe's.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I DID IT - Starting My Business

I have been wanting to start a bakery business for quite some time.  Recently I created an etsy shop and a Facebook fan page but that is as far as I got.

Last week I had two small baking orders for guys at my husband's job.  This Friday he came home with four orders.

Today my local Groupon was $12 for $25 of baked goods for a local in home bakery.  I checked out their web page.  I was not impressed.  I immediately thought I CAN SO DO THIS!

So I registered a domain name for my bakery.  I selected the name a bit ago. It is named after my grandmother, Betty Ray.

I obviously have a lot to learn.  I have a lot to do.  My main goal is to one day SOON be making enough money doing this where I will not need a job working for someone else. 

Tonight I worked on a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies (one of my orders for Monday). 

Does anyone have any advice as far as web design goes? I know what I want...I just need to know how to do it or have someone do it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hershey's Kisses - Cookies & Cream Brownies Recipe

I made these the other night.  They were A M A Z I N G!  I had some of these kisses leftover from some baby showers I made this past weekend.  Those combined with with a box of brownie mix = a yummy dessert.

First unwrap the kisses and place them in a bowl.  I used all of the ones I had left.  If I had to guess I would say we used about 30 or so.

Spray the bottom of your pan.  Place the kisses all over the bottom of the pan.

Make the brownie mix as directed on the box and then pour over the kisses.  Bake as directed. 

The kisses partially melt and make this gooey bottom layer of chocolatey goodness with a little bite of cookie.  Sooo easy and tasty.  You can see the kiss in the photo below.

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I am linking up today over at This Kind of Love.

I am loving that I am off of work today.   I took a sick day because Madison had a dental appointment to have a tooth pulled.  I am loving that my husband stayed home too and we all slept in.  I am also loving that our new dental insurance paid for 90% of the tooth extraction which resulted in a very small bill.

I am loving I used the leftover Hershey's Kisses - Cookies and Cream variety to whip up a batch of the most fabulous brownies last night.  As soon as I take a photo of them I will post the super simple recipe.  Here is the recipe.  Super easy and fabulous.
I am loving that I had my first PAID baking job this week.  My husband took two orders for me last week at work and delivered them on Monday.  Here are the boxes I sent the jumbo chocolate chip cookies I made in.  I am still working on designing my actual labels for my boxes...these are just ones I happened to have.

I am loving this gadget I picked up the other night.  It was $3.99 + I had a 20% off coupon.  I can use it when I make cupcakes to make a hole in the center to fill.  I have an idea in my head for a peanut butter filled chocolate cupcake dipped in chocolate ganache and this will be a great tool to use to make them.