Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adventures in Baking

At my house when I say I'm going to bake something, that usually means I'm about to experiment.  I typically feel the inspiration to bake something new at THE worst possible time.  For example, in the middle of a flipping heat wave, 10 minutes before I need to lay down to sleep before work, or my personal favorite--when I'm missing some, or most, of the ingredients. 

Last week I was dying to make zucchini bread.  I picked an enormous zucchini from the garden and some wild blueberries from around our house.  I really wanted to use the recipes I found last summer to make some muffins and bread.  Problem?  It was hovering around 105 degrees outside and was already 83 in my kitchen.  Yeah, not a good time.  I waited....and today was cooler!!  That meant baking was the plan as soon as I got home from work.  

First up, Banana/Blueberry/Currant whole wheat muffins.  Oh yeah baby!  My husband is in love with these bad boys.  Today's batch is the fourth I've done in 2 weeks, but it's the first batch with currants (picked from the bush in our backyard).  I found the original recipe last year on AllRecipes.com and made some changes based on reviews and my personal tastes.

Banana/Blueberry/Currant Muffins


    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
    • 1/2 cup fresh currants
    • 1/2 cup applesauce


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix the bananas, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla extract.
    3. Mix the banana mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Fold in the blueberries and currants. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan.
    4. Bake 16 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

    The structural integrity of this batch was a bit compromised by the immense amount of berries I packed into it.  However, the taste is phenomenal.  You can find the original recipe here.  Did I mention that these are only 4 Weight Watchers points?  Cause they are.  That's not too bad for a muffin!!!

    Now, on to the Zucchini Bread!!!  This is another recipe I found on AllRecipes.com last summer.  It's my favorite zucchini bread recipe EVER.  The problem with the recipe as written on the site is that it uses a LOT of vegetable oil.  Last year I used half applesauce and half vegetable oil and was all set to do that again today.  But then I used the last of my applesauce on the delicious muffins.  So, I had to find a new substitute.  

    After a little digging around on the internet I discovered that you can substitute beans for vegetable oil!  You just puree the beans and sub it in for the oil.  If you're making something that will be light in color, you use a light colored bean.  If you're making something dark, like brownies, you use a dark colored bean.  I grabbed a can of white northern beans out of the cupboard and pureed it up in my blender.  Then I got to work.

    Zucchini Bread


    • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
    • 1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup pureed white northern beans
    • 1 1/8 cups brown sugar
    • 1 1/8 cups organic cane sugar
    • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 4 cups grated zucchini
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts


    1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
    2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
    3. Beat eggs, beans, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
    4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

    My loaves took a lot longer than the recipe said they would, and I had to turn the temp up to 350 degrees towards the end because, well, I needed to get to bed.  I'm not sure whether the difference is because I increased the amount of zucchini, added the beans, used bigger pans, or my oven is starting to fail.  No matter, the bread is awesome!!!  It's even better than when I made it last year.  It's by far the best zucchini bread recipe I've ever had.  

    With the bean substitution this bread is only 5 Weight Watchers points for a whole slice, and 3 for half (I say go for the whole slice).  Without the substitution, using the full cup of vegetable oil, a slice is 7 points.  You can find the original recipe here.

    Did I mention that I'm on Weight Watchers?  Because I am!  I've been on the plan for almost three months and have lost about 12 pounds so far!!  I'm going to try to share more of my food type things with you as I experiment my way down to a smaller size.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Stash Busting Butterflies!!!

After that first round of butterflies, I wanted to do more!!  I scoured my local thrift shops to no avail.  Then I checked the closet in my craft room and found 3 metal butterfly coat hook thingy ma jigs!!  I forgot to take a "before" picture because I was really excited to get them painted.  I just spray painted them and gave them a quick glaze.
You definitely cannot see the glazing in these pictures.  It was just too sunny to get a good shot of it!!
You can kind of see the glaze a little bit in this picture, right up near the body.
Same with this little guy.
I think the orange is my favorite color, but I really love that green!!!
That was a super quick project.  I'd say it took about an hour, same as with the other butterflies.  Want a sneak peek at what I'm working on right now??  Good, because I have pictures.


Exciting, right??  I thought so!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Good Sign...

It's a pretty good sign that you've inhaled too many spray paint fumes when you start asking your dog for advice on paint colors.  Wait, I do that ALL the time...  Please don't judge me!  She looks like she might know a thing or too about color choices, or food.

Since I'm here already, guess what!  Marni, at Sassy Sites, uses a random number generator to pick a top spot every week from her FFA Friday link party and this week she chose me!!  She'll be doing a spotlight post on me on Sunday and my button will be displayed on her blog.  Cool right??  I certainly thought so!!  Marni does a lot of work spotlight all bloggy awesomeness out there.

Also, Gail, from My Repurposed Life, "caught" my butterflies this week at her Catch as Catch Can link party.  Gail is incredible with power tools and creating awesome furniture out of, well, junk!  Check out her blog to see some of her fantastic creations.  

And finally!  My Chicken Wire Memo Boards are in the running for Best of June at To Sew With Love!!!  Head over there and vote for me!  I'm losing badly right now to some super incredible projects.  Voting runs until Saturday I think.  The ladies at To Sew With Love are awesome.  They work really hard promoting the handmade world and sharing their incredible sewing tutorials with the world.  Go give them some love (and vote for me).

Well, I'm off to inhale more spray paint fumes and chat with the dogs a bit more.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Tiebacks!

Okay, so, I have officially applied for my sales tax ID number so that I can get started doing craft shows!  I won't go into my opinions on the fact that I have to do this.  Suffice it to say, it doesn't make me a happy camper.  I'm hoping that it ends up being worth it!!  Lately I've been working on a LOT of projects because obviously I'll need stuff to sell at said craft fairs.  Last week I finished another set of curtain tiebacks that I LOVE.
The ribbon flower is made from an awesome purple/silver mesh wired ribbon.
The ribbon between the flowers is also a silver/gray color.
The flowers on the other side are from a gray satin-y material that I blinged up with some crystals by Jolee's Jewels.
They're so pretty!!  When I posted the last set I made, someone asked about how they work.  On the back of each flower is a magnet.  When you put them on the curtain where you want them, just make sure a little of the fabric is between the magnets.  No hooks on the wall or anything.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


My sister, Kira, called me a little while ago to inform me that she was in the process of geeking out.  She's watching the live feed from the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 world premiere in London.  We chatted for a little bit, and then, well, I logged on to my computer.  I keep tearing up!  I'm such a nerd, and I'm VERY proud of it!!!!  I can honestly say that I've never cared this much about the end of a movie series.  If you are a Harry Potter geek, go check out the live feed.  If you're anything like Kira and me, you'll tear up and clap and cheer loudly.

Another 70's Re-Do

Remember these frames from the post I did a few weeks ago about my thrifting finds?  I'm pretty sure they're from the 70's, but I forgot to check.

They're not much to look at art-wise, but the frames are sweet.  At first I was going to make more backless frames, but then I got a better idea, a bulletin board/dry erase board set!  In awesome colors...orange and purple.  Oh yeah baby.
Unfortunately the writing is kind of hard to see.  All of my dry erase markers were dried out (ha ha) except one.  It's not the best kind to use for this, but I really wanted to share this with everyone.  The fabric I used behind the glass is vintage fabric that my Mom gave me.  Mom is great, she fully supports my crafting habit and, in fact, encourages it with gifts of awesome stuff.  The rosettes I made from vintage fabric from my stash.  I glazed this frame, but it's hard to see in this picture.  It looks rad.
I think the bulletin board is my favorite.  I love the way the glazing stands out against the orange.  More vintage fabric rosettes and a super cute picture of my beautiful sister with my beautiful nieces.  The pointing finger is a download from *The Graphics Fairy*.
I love the way they look together.  So cute.

What do you think?  Are they cool?  If you weren't crafty would you buy them? I'm going to start doing craft shows soon, so I want to get some stock built up.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Butterfly Re-Do

Does anyone remember home decor items like these from the 70s?
They are plastic but were made to look like wicker.  Anyway, I've had some in my stash for, probably, two years minimum.  Mine had been painted a sickly Pepto-Bismol pink and were sad looking.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of just HOW sad before I started painting.  Anyway, I decided to paint mine different colors and glaze them.  
I had a little trouble with the glazing because there are SO many nooks and crannies on these butterflies.
The glaze does a nice job of highlighting those nooks and crannies though.
So it was worth the extra effort.
The sun was out today, so I actually got some decent pictures!
I'm not sure which one is my favorite.  I think maybe the green and blue ones are my favorites, but that might be because I like the actual butterfly design better.
They look really nice on the barn!  Maybe I should leave them there!!
All told, this project took me about an hour to finish.  That's without the "paint drying time".  The butterflies I got for $1 at a yard sale.  I know that because they still had the stickers on them.  Yeah for stash busting!!!!

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Oooh Tiebacks!

Okay, I got a custom order awhile ago for some curtain tiebacks.  They are FINALLY all done, thank goodness.  I accidentally made two of the ribbon flowers  with the wrong side of the ribbon up, so I had to remake them.  Aren't they pretty?
I used vintage lace for the middle piece this time, and a pretty blue fabric for the rosette on the other side.
The way the ribbon flower peeks out from around the rosette is so cute.

The ribbon is a pretty pink/blue color.
What do you all think?  Will she like them?  I really like the way they turned out, and I think I'll be using lace more often.