October 22nd, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe has been in my recipe box since I first baked them on November 19, 2008. I know this because I dated it, a practice I am so happy I started. I have done this in cookbooks too. I love looking back and remembering the first time I made something. I also include variations, if any have been made. This is my go-to recipe for a yummy breakfast. You can view Tyler Florence’s Banana Nut Muffins at the Food Network where I found it, but here is my version of this scrumptious recipe, which is ever moist and delectable.

Tyler Florence's Banana Nut Muffins with Variations

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 overripe bananas

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter (melted and cooled)

1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fehrenheit and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • Mash two of the bananas in a bowl leaving them a bit chunky. This is a great job for a helper, if you are baking with little ones.
  • Whip the remaining bananas together with a hand-held electric mixer or a Kitchenaid. I have used both and both work. Whip them like you mean it, as Tyler Florence says, for three minutes.
  • Add the melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Beat well and scrape the sides of the bowl a few times.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. This will result in a light fluffy muffin. Over mix and you will have a heavy tough muffin.
  • Fold in the mashed bananas and the chocolate chips.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin tins.
  • Bake until lightly browned on top and so that a toothpick comes out clean if you stick it into the center. About 18-20 minutes.
  • Let cool in the pan for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool.
  • Bake 12 muffins if you want big ones. Bake 24 muffins if you want small muffins. Or, what I did, is bake 12 regular sized muffins and 12 mini muffins.

 

Toppings and Variations:

Sprinkle brown sugar on the tops of each muffin before baking.

Add a handful of oats to the mixture when folding in the chocolate chips.

Add a 1/2 cup of coconut when adding the chocolate chips.

You could add nuts like Tyler Florence did, I have tried sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans (not at the same time).

Raisins or dried cranberries would also make a lovely addition.

Top each muffin with a sprinkling of granola.

 

 

October 21st, 2012

5 Things to Do on a Perfect Autumn Day

Autumn at Dreaming of June

It is undoubtedly a perfect autumn day here in Edmonton. Clear skies, chilly breezes and bright beautiful sunshine. In case you have such a day on hand and you don’t know what to do, I thought I would share 5 things to do on a perfect autumn day.

 

Thrift Shopping

Look for end of season garage sales and pounce on them. End of season garage salers are looking to unload whatever remains of their treasures, so they don’t have to keep them all winter long. Bargain with said folks and you might be surprised at what they are willing to throw in to sweeten the pot and lighten their load. While the weather is still nice, head to thrift shops to look for furniture you can reconfigure, upcycle and make your own. Look for character pieces to mix with your existing furniture and haul it home before the snow flies. Trust me, we had a mini taste of it yesterday (don’t worry, it melted!) and let’s just say the cold was no less shocking than it is any other year! So grab that vintage-y table and run.

 

Baking

 

Open the windows and air out your home as you bake something deliciously apple-liscious. Fresh air + bakiing apples = autumn day heaven. I promised the boys we would bake banana chocolate chip muffins, so the apples will have to wait till tomorrow. However, I did buy giant bags of apples and pears which will make a delightful crisp together. Yum!

 

Painting

 

Enjoy the day and get something done at the same time. Multi-task with the right mix of things and life is grand!! Realistically, how many diy outdoor paint project days are left in this northern climate? Finish that chair, table, headboard, etc., you know it needs to be done. I have a small kid’s Ikea table that needs work as it is currently covered with randomn doodles, and a peeling paint surface. Wait till you see what I have planned for it!

 

Outdoor Clean Up

Lucky for me, the great big winds have been blowing the leaves straight out of my yard, but YOU might have leaves to rake. Of course there are other chores to get done–wash windows, decorate your home for the season with autumn and Halloween decor, some of us northern folk may even take this day as an opportunity to hang Christmas lights (yes, I know its early, but we won’t turn them on yet, well, except for my one neighbour) or hang a seasonal wreath on your door. And then, when you are done, why not take a walk?

 

Visiting

Throw a dinner party, put on a pot of coffee or tea or head out somewhere! This is my plan for the day. My brother and his family are coming over for a visit with me and my boys! And as a special added bonus, he might even bring some wood glue so I can begin the Ikea table makeover. Whatever you do today, I hope these 5 things to do on a perfect autum day brought you a little inspiration. So light some candles, take a breath of the freshest air and enjoy your day!

 

October 19th, 2012

8 Clocks to Count On

Be Here Now Clock

M Bart Studios

If you have to think about time and check on it and work with and essentially live by it, it only makes sense to count on a clock that will serve that time up to you with a little beauty. I think we can all agree we need more time! I need more time in at least two categories of my life: organization and enjoyment. They go hand in hand. My goal is to organize daily details with the idea of freeing up extra time to enjoy the little things that make me happy. What would you do with more time? I found 8 clocks to count on, but you really only need one. The inside one.

 

Red and White Plate Clock

Making Time TC

I imagine this red and white beaut would be adorable in a kitchen.

Time to Organize:

 

The back closet

The kitchen drawer I swear I keep organizing!

My schedule

My writing time, fiction vs. non-fiction!

 

Scallop Clock

Uncommon

I love scallops, not the ocean ones, the pretty pretty ones!

Time to Enjoy:

 

Sunsets

Reading

Sleep

Making messes with the kids in the form of baking and crafting.

Meditation

 

Vintage Book Clock

Bertrand Musset

This vintage book clock would be perfect for an office space or library.

 

Goethe Clock

M Bart Studios

A Goethe quote on a clock? Um, yes please! Decorate your time with literature? Why, sure! “Everyday we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and if possible, speak a few sensible words.” So true.

 

Birds on a Branch Clock

Shelly Ka

Birds on a branch is a popular motif for nursery decor and kid’s rooms. And how cute, right?

 

Wooden Damask Clock

Wavy Navy

Damask painted on wood, what a lovely design.

 

Now Clock

M Bart Designs

I couldn’t agree more. The time is now. It always has been and always will be. So look around and enjoy it!

October 14th, 2012

Painted Front Doors

Turquoise Door

Image via 20 State

 

Shut the Front Door!

 

I love it when people paint their front door in a wild bright colour. It lets you know ‘fun’ people reside within. Is your front door painted? Are you ‘fun’? I would like to test and prove this theory. In terms of curb appeal, the front door is a pretty important place. You can leave the front door neutral and let it blend in to every other house on your block, or you can paint it and stand out! Painted front doors can give your home a whimsical, polished look especially if you choose to accessorize and style it accordingly.

 

Yellow Door

Image via Pinterest

 

When you style your front door consider fixed elements (stair rails, fences, steps, hardware, lighting, house numbers, etc.) and changeable elements which you can switch throughout the year. Changeable items like planters, urns, a welcome mat and other styling props will pull the whole look together. And you can create different vignettes for different seasons and holidays.

 

Red Door

Image via Houzz

 

The red door flanked with twin topiaries is just lovely. Red is probably my favourite colour for a front door. It pops out at you more than any other colour, yet it retains a certain sense of classic-ness.

 

Green Door

Image via This Old House

 

Not only do I enjoy this painted door because it is the exact colour of my living room walls, but it works well with this whole porch area.

 

Blue Front Door

Image via The Design Files

 

Painted front doors like this pretty cerulean blue are a quick fix way to bring energy and increase curb appeal. Plus, don’t you want to let everyone know how fun you are?

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October 9th, 2012

Bookshelf Love

Bookshelf House Beautiful

Image via House Beautiful

When it comes to thankfulness of course, of course, the first on the list are my two beautiful boys, followed by family and friends and light and love and hope and beauty. After the biggies I started thinking, and looking at my life and what I hold dear. Anyone who knows me knows books are stacked in every corner of my life, so it only seems natural to pay homage to the books in my life and give you a little bookshelf love!

 

Bookshelf and Globes

Image via Pinterest

There are a zillion ways to arrange your books—vertical, horizontal, alphabetical, colour coded and more. I tend to arrange mine in groupings of favourites. Favourite authors and favourite books. The rest get randomly shelved together according to height. No matter your method, a bookshelf is a personal display of the literature and stories you contemplate and reflect upon. I love having my books cozied around me. Each book on the shelf holds the memory of the story. Like that of a photograph.

 

Bookshelf and Fuzzy Chair

Image via The Art of Doing Stuff

Whether you choose to build the bookshelf right into your space and make it part of the room’s structure or choose a freestanding shelf, many options are available. Let the book spines shine or paint the interior of the shelf with a jolting shock of colour. You can also wallpaper the inside of the shelf for another look.

 

Bookshelf Pink InteriorImage via Pinterest 

How unexpected the peekaboo pop of pink is, but I love it! Don’t you?

Bookshelf and Dog

Image via Pinterest 

What living space couldn’t use a little bookshelf love? I know I dream of built-ins to house my collection of novels. One day. Dream house. Until then, I remain ever thankful for the books in my life amongst other things!

 

October 5th, 2012

Picture Frame Ideas

Accumulations of things have a way of adding up, creeping and crawling over your pristinely empty surfaces until they become that dirty little word…CLUTTER. Why not use a pretty picture frame to collect, organize, display and give finish to the spaces in question? Look for inexpensive ornate frames in the discount area of home decor shops, thrift stores and flea markets to design your own picture frame ideas.

 

Skeleton Key Frame

Image via Design Sponge

 

Key Frame– This image shows a painted frame with decorative keys, but with a cute frame, some spray paint and some tiny hooks you can create this look in a functional way. One idea is to paint the frame a bright hue and use scrapbook paper, wrapping paper or wallpaper remnants to paper the opened area of the picture frame. Install the hooks at the top of the frame and hang it in your foyer or next to the door.

 

Jewelry Frame– This option is near and dear to my heart right now, having recently launched a business with Stella and Dot. When you have pretty jewels, why lock them up in a dark box? I say showcase them so you can enjoy them even when you aren’t wearing them.

Jewelry Frame

Image via Just Live Simply 

Chalkboard Frame– Whether you want to jot down a nightly menu for your kitchen, hand-write a memorable phrase, or scribble random lists on the chalkboard, you might as well do it in style. Right?

 

Framed Chalkboard

Image via Shabby McFabby 

 

Bulletin Board Frame– Cover cork board in a graphic fabric and frame it. You can then pin messages, photographs, and other odds and ends to the board. Play with the palette of the room the frame will hang in, to see if you can introduce something new. For a craft room, study, or office space the fabric you use will help you create a focal point while at the same time, managing the chaos.

 

Fabric Memo Board

Image via Shabby McFabby

 

Magnet Board Frame– Same idea as the bulletin board, except you can paper a sheet of metal and frame it! And then of course you can cover it with cute magnets, handmade or otherwise.

 

Magnet Board

Image via Elegance Farm Home 

 

Craft Supply Frame– Pegboard is handy for coralling clutter of many types. Give it a fancy remake for your craft supplies, kitchen utensils or other hobby supplies. Paint it and house it in a frame with an alternate colour. Or, borrow an idea from the key frame and wallpaper the pegboard. I like the wallpaper idea because it takes away the utility vibe and gives it a fresh update, depending on the wallpaper you choose.

 

Framed Pegboard

Image via Martha Stewart

 

Picture frame ideas can be used in any room of your home that you require a little extra polish and a little less mess. If you make one pretty enough you could even include it in a gallery wall! Happy framing, adieu!