pajamas all day

A sneak peak into my bedroom to demonstrate just how enticing I find the idea of spending the entire day in pajamas.  Delivery to the bed, Netflix on the screen, and the hubs and pup sharing the king.  Ideal, right?

Mornings like this Jack Johnson’s ‘Banana Pancakes’ plays in my head, and I envision Jon waking me up and crooning (guitar in hand) : “Maybe we can sleep in/I’ll make you banana pancakes/Pretend like it’s the weekend now…”  Jon’s everything I could ask for and more, but the man can’t carry a tune (although he tries in the shower) and so this dream remains.. a dream.

Still though, the dream-life-song-scenario was strong enough to prompt me to make (and share) my favorite banana breakfast recipe.  A little healthier (i.e. way way way healthier) than pancakes, and, well, absolutely delicious.

I only thought to share the recipe because I’ve made it the past few days (read Friday, Saturday, Sunday and I still have more bananas in the kitchen).  Perfect for holiday mornings, make this and you’ll be making new friends left, right and center (and possibly earning even more lavish holiday gifts than you originally thought you’d receive).  It’s also a Pinterest favorite, so the chances that everyone else is already eating them is high high high.

Anyway, here is the 4-ingredient recipe that makes me swoon like a high school crush: 1 banana, 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/8 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/8 cup chocolate chips.  Mix together (add chocolate chips last) and then bake for 8 minutes at 350. Serves 2 if you have self control and 1 if you don’t (like me):Image
Delicious and healthy enough to eat for breakfast (or all day long).
What’s your favorite thing to make for breakfast?

a whimsical jaunt

Simple words contain incredibly vast and imaginative worlds.  Nicknames, for instance, recall happy memories about a person that is near and dear (Baboozle for Jon).  Other words (for me, CENTER! and PAWS!) bring back memories of inside jokes and inspire laughter.  Still more, words that represent a special food (gelato brings me back to Italy), place (Phoenix makes me think of my sister), or time (2012 reminds me of the engagement) bring a comforting joy each time I stumble across the unique combination of letters.

Then there are words without a personal story or connection that somehow manage to make me smile for the sweet and happy things they stand for.  Whenever I encounter these words in texts or speech, I almost always feel grateful that someone created a single word to symbolize the incredibly nuanced and/or detailed thing that the word describes.  Today, just for fun, I made some of my favorite words into artistic prints:

Remember the DIY fall candles I made a couple weeks ago?  I’ve been using them near constantly, and today I noticed that they were just about burnt out.  I made new candles as a replacement, but this time I used spray paint to make them a little more festive for the holidays. What do you think?
If you want to make your own, it’s as easy as 1) spray paint a mason jar 2) place a wick in the bottom and 3) fill with wax.

Happy Friday, everyone!

pants on fire

A soap bubble explosion in the kitchen put Martha Stewart on my official “do not trust’ list.  Fizzy bath bombs went off like rockets in the night when I followed her instructions.  Not a pretty look for my kitchen.

To be fair, it was sort of fun to relive the volcano explosion experiment from 7th grade, and my apartment now smells like a soap factory.  Not the worst, right?

I tried to make Bath Fizzies, which I was told would look something like the picture below.  I wanted to keep mine clear, however, and so I opted for no food coloring (only difference).

Here are pictures from what actually happened — first, the mixture began puffing up up up from the mold:
and it eventually covered the entire plastic:
I had faith that the puffiness would settle over night, and that the magic fizz bombs would appear by morning.  I was wrong. After 12 hours, the mixture turned into a crumbling piece of… well… fizz:
I’m calling out Martha, but I think it’s a lesson for the blogging community in general.  How often do bloggers post about projects, recipes, or other activities gone terribly  wrong?  I know this isn’t the first time *I’ve* gotten disastrous results by following a blogger’s suggestion.

I think it’s time for a revolution – let’s stop posting about how we made THE BEST cookie, art project, outfit, etc, and just be honest. Maybe say: this cake was OKAY but I would never make it again – it was too much work and confetti cake from a box tastes the same.

That might be an extreme example, but what I’m advocating for here is honesty.

I’m also a fan of resilience, and so I turned the experiment around and made something much easier — alphabet soap.
4.5 4 5 6 7 8

under where?

I hate making people jealous of me, and so I almost didn’t post today.  But then I thought about it a little more, and I realized that what I accomplished today is truly ‘blog&brag’ worthy: gluten-free pumpkin muffins with marshmallow&raspberry toppings.  These muffins were delicious the entire way though – from licking-the-bowl-clean to eating all 6 muffins as soon as they popped out of the oven.  I’m not even kidding.

But, if I’m totally honest with myself, I owe about 75% of the recognition to Dating Dish.  She came up with deliciously healthy (I couldn’t have combined those two things on my own) recipe for making strawberry oatmeal muffins, and I just twerked the recipe a bit to make pumpkin muffins with marshmallows and/or raspberries.  Got to roll with the season, right?
Anyway, definitely check out the original recipe by Dating Dish, and when you can’t eat anymore, switch it up and try these delicious bits of pumpkin heaven.  If we’re both eating them, then you can’t really be jealous anymore, can you?
2 1/2 cup   Oats
1/2 cup      Canned Pumpkin
1/2 cup      Nonfat yogurt
2               Eggs
1/2 cup      Stevia or other sweetner
1 1/2 tsp     Baking Powder
1 tbsp        Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp      Baking Soda
1/2 cup     Marshmallows
1/2 cup     Raspberries

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin tin pan made for 12 muffins.
2.  Place all of the ingredients (besides marshmallows and raspberries) in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into muffin tins and then top with marshmallows and raspberries.
3. Bake for 20.
4. Enjoy!!

2 dollars for 1 smile

What could be more wonderful than stumbling upon friendship?  I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college, and oops, silly me, I didn’t take an Italian language class before I moved there.  Typical American girl just got too excited about streets of gold, palaces of art, and endless gelato.  Best decision ever.

The school arranged for a representative to meet me at the airport and take me to my apartment.  Luckily, that representative forgot to show up, and I ended up walking to-and-fro in the Fiucimo Airport wondering how to get a cab.  I made a few inquiries, and within a couple minutes, I was swarmed with people claiming to be taxi drivers and promising the lowest price in Rome.

And then!

Like a dream come true, a pretty brunette grabbed my hand and asked if I was American.  I nodded my head yes, and she told me to come with her.   I followed her through the airport, and she explained about the importance of only using certified cab services, avoiding people without uniform, and always knowing the appropriate price beforehand.

We shared a cab to the university, and the 30 minute drive was filled with more jokes than a comedy show at Second City.  The two of us decided to meet up again the following weekend in Dublin.  Three weeks later we  found ourselves in Prague, six months later in Berlin, two years later in Chicago, and five years later (as in this past weekend) in Minneapolis.

Dear Clare, you’re the greatest friend in the world, and I’m so grateful that you came to visit.  I was going to post about making you a handmade Thank You card, but I just ended up writing all about you (couldn’t help myself).  Your card is included at the bottom of this post.  LOVE YOU.

Clare and Jen circa 2008:
At my 2013 wedding:
I made Clare’s thank you card by making sketches on paper, uploading the drawings onto my computer, and then arranging them into fun designs:

getting lost together

Fall is on my mind, and since I’m the cheesiest romantic out there, I’ve been thinking about seasonal date ideas.  I happen to love surprises even more than romance and cheese, and so I created a game that surprises the receiver with fall date ideas.  I’m calling the game ‘Fall in Love,’ but if you’re on the normal end of the romance scale, you can call it anything else that you want.

The game works like this:  write 12 occasions that will occur during the fall season on envelopes, and then the envelopes with surprise dates to be opened on the given occasion.  For example, the envelope that says “1st Day of October” has a card inside that reads ‘we’re going to spend the day at a corn maze.’   The envelopes and cards I made are below, and you can download them here: fall1 and fall2.  Or you can make your own and personalize the dates 🙂

mittens in the sink

Falling into autumn means crisp nights, pumpkin pies, and the return of sweaters&scarves&hats&boots.  As fall progresses into winter, more and more clothes come out of storage, and I begin wearing 25% of my closet to keep warm.  I’m all for layering, but things start to get a little messy when I come home and need to undress – scarves get tossed on the couch, hats get thrown behind the sofa, and mittens get placed in the sink.  Essentially, fall is the beginning of clothing mayhem.

To combat the chaos and stay a little organized, I created a coat rack out of cardboard letters and wire hangers.  4 steps to coat rack: insert the hanger handle into the bottom of the letter, decorate the letter with tacky glue, and then spray paint in the color of your choice.  Here are some photos of the process:

yolo rolo

Knock knock
Who’s there?
YOLO who?

Laughing? Probably not, but that’s because the joke only works while eating YOLO ROLO cake.  Now, after you make this cake, you can say the joke, and then eat the delicious treat.  YOLO ROLO! Get it?

Okay okay, still maybe not that funny.  I don’t think the Lonely Island rappers meant for me to get comedic with their song, but it makes perfect sense: YOLO, so why not eat chocolate caramel ROLO cake?

The ROLO YOLO cake is easy as 1-2-3: simply prepare the batter for an angel food cake, mix in rolos, and top with chocolate caramel frosting.  Enjoy, and remember: YOLO!

the mushy-gushy-grab-a-tissue variety

For a long time, I felt an incredible sense of urgency to meet exotic people in foreign cities. I wanted to explore new lands and experience different ways of living. Above all, I wanted to learn, as quickly as possible, where I belonged.

A lucky few are born somewhere they feel comfortable, and rarely venture far from home. Others, however, associate home with a place they’ve never been, and they spend their time searching, searching, searching for somewhere that feels safe.

I know it sounds cliché, but my search for belonging ended when I met Jon. You know all those songs about how a person feels like home? That’s exactly how it was. We met, and after a few short weeks, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. My search was over.

This post ended up being of the mushy-gushy-grab-a-tissue variety, and I apologize. The thing is, I’m beginning a number of DIY projects for the apartment and the idea of belonging is on my mind. Today the crafting revolved around mason jars: I turned one into a makeup brush holder, and then I transformed another into a flower vase for my friend, Amy.

Here is a preview of the flower vase I made for Amy:Image

Just for fun, I created this print for you to keep:

the kindness of strangers

It’s amazing what a stranger can offer: a little mercy, a little understanding, a little laughter.  In my experience, our hesitance to interact with strangers only prevents us from expanding our network of friends and acquaintances.  In some cases, our hesitation prevents us from interacting with someone who might truly need a friend.

The rah rah rah projects have encouraged me to think of strangers during my every day activities. I planned to go to the dog park today, and I decided to bring homemade treats for all the pets.  I figured it was a good way to interact with other dog owners, and the snack provided a bonus treat for all the dogs.

If you’ve ever lived alone, you understand how difficult it can be to cook for just one.  Two can even be trying – it seems like most recipes are created for a family of five.  Unfortunately for me, that means a lot of math as I make dinner every night – divide by 2.5, divide by 2.5.  The recipe I used to make dog treats stated that it was enough for 4-5 servings.  Since I was planning to share with the entire dog park, I could spare myself the trouble of dividing as I mixed and stirred.  A small victory.

The larger victory came later, when we got to the dog park and Kinzie was topdog for a couple hours.  She shared treats, made friends, and then returned home for an afternoon nap (from which she still hasn’t returned.)  My victory was hanging out with Anna for a few hours while our dogs ran around the park together.