Monday, July 29, 2013

Make This!!!

Blueberry Pie Bars!

This recipe for berry pie bars is a winner! Sweet with a subtle hint of cinnamon and a deliciously flaky crust. These bars are perfect for a picnic, office potluck or for dessert at home. The recipe comes from The Novice Chef blog. These bars came together in no time and didn’t bubble over onto my oven floor (yay!). I am already planning to bake a second batch for later this week. ☺

Blueberry Pie Bars adapted slightly from The Novice Chef
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
zest & juice of one lemon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter cut into 1 inch slices
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups fresh blueberries (or blackberries)
4 tsp cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375*. Grease a 9×13 pan. In a food processor, pulse together flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt & lemon zest. Add the butter, egg and vanilla extract. Pulse until the dough is crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, saving the remaining dough for the topping.

In a medium size bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the berries. Sprinkle the berries over the crust. Crumble the remaining topping dough over the berry layer.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 35-45 minutes (depending on your oven) or until the top is slightly brown (you are only looking for the top to slightly brown, if you cook for too long, the bottom will burn).

Cool completely before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Shred - Update!

August is right around the corner & I cannot believe it. It seems like we just got out for summer vacation. July was not the best month for us. Lots of changes, some good, some bad. I am welcoming August with open arms and look forward to it being a good month! Power of positive thinking, people!
A friend told me about this book, The Four Agreements. Have you read it? The recommendation came at just the right moment for me. This book is a super quick read and I think, amazing. I picked it up from the library and finished it in about an hour.

The book is divided into agreements with a chapter explaining each one. I found this infographic on Pinterest and plan to print it so I can read it daily.

Regarding my Shred update: I have been doing GREAT on the eating more fruits, veggies and eating little to no processed food. I feel so much better in the last four months that I have been following that plan. It's now 'habit' for us to eat this way. A very good thing! To help me keep track of my water intake, I posted this cute printable in the kitchen & mark off each time I drink a glass of water.

What I am not doing good on? Following the 3 glasses of wine a week rule and exercise. Walking, yes, as I have to walk Remy, but I need to increase the cardio. I have several workout videos that are gathering dust. I dug them out and have a plan to do one of the workouts a day.
Jillian Michaels dvds.
I found them at Costco last year for about $7 each.

 This is the best workout video ever!

Whenever I finish it, I can barely walk for about an hour after. My legs are like noodles and I can't even walk up or down the stairs. I found this dvd when the local Border's store closed & I  had a gift card I needed to use. It was the best $11 I ever spent! The entire workout is set to a military march on a snare drum. So funny.☺

To keep  myself accountable, I cut up some PostIt notes (a tip I found on DietGirl, via Pinterest). Each time I finish one of the workouts, I take off one of the PostIts. This countdown is kept right in the family room, so I won't forget about it. The numbers go up to 21, as the thinking is: it takes 21 days to create a habit.
Lastly, I found this great quote on Pinterest. Omid says this all the time and it's so true!

I will check in again & update you after my 21 days is up. Wish me luck!☺

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Netflix This!!

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone!
This movie received terrible reviews when it first came out, but Matty & I laughed our way through it. It's actually quite funny.
Yes, it has a few (maybe more) crude moments and the storyline is predictable; but all in all it was a good movie. It definitely earned 3 stars in my book and not the 1/2 star that most movie reviewers gave it.
Jim Carrey does not disappoint as a creepy street magician. Steve Carrell's character is a little reminiscent of his Michael Scott persona from The Office (which I enjoyed!). Steve Buscemi & James Gandolfini are also in this movie, and I love both of those actors. So, if you are in need of a much needed laugh & don't mind movies that are predictable & silly: then this is the movie for you. It's definitely PG-13, so don't watch it around little ones.

Mini Blueberry Pies

Blueberries are nature's candy and summer has given Vancouver a bounty of beautiful blueberries this year. In the past three weeks, I have picked just under thirty pounds. What to do with all these berries? We ate most (so good for us!), I froze a few pounds and the rest I have baked into fruit crisps or mini blueberry pies. In fact, I have baked these mini blueberry pies 3 times in the last 4 days. They are that good! We are eating them for breakfast, snack & dessert. True story!☺

The berries I've picked are so incredibly sweet, only a tablespoon of sugar is required (if at all) compared to what most cookbooks recommend: 1 full cup. I never add the full amount of sugar, as I think the pie would be way too sweet to eat and a waste of good berries. But if you have a major sweet tooth, then by all means - add the full amount of sugar!

I like to bake my individual pies in a muffin tin. I also use a two crust pie recipe to have enough pie to top the pies and have enough pie crust left over to make some cinnamon-sugar topped pie crust cookies. Better to have too much pie crust than not enough!☺

Mini Blueberry Pies
1 recipe for a two crust pie
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs flour
1 egg, whisked with 1 tsp of heavy cream, for an egg wash
Turbinado sugar

In a medium size bowl, toss blueberries with the flour, sugar & lemon juice. Set aside. Make your pie crust & cut with a biscuit cutter or large glass to fit the size of your muffin tin. Press the pie crust firmly into each muffin cup. Fill each mini pie with approximately 1/4 cup of berries. Top each individual pie with a crust & press firmly to seal.  Brush each pie with the egg wash & sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top. Bake in a 375* oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the pie crust is a golden brown and the berries are bubbling. Let cool for a bit then serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Make This!!

Pie Crust in a Mixer!
We have been doing so good (since March!!) on our diet of eating little to no processed foods. I wanted to bake a pie today and always use Pillsbury ready made pie crusts. Why? They are convenient & always bake to perfection. Today though, that wasn't an option, since they are processed. I called my sister Brenda who bakes pies all the time. She told me her secret & that is to make the pie crust in a mixer. I was dubious, but tried it. How did it turn out? Perfect! The dough was similar to a sugar cookie dough. I plan to always make my pie crusts this way from now on. Thanks, B!☺
Mini blueberry pies before...

...and after!

Pie Crust (for one pie crust - double the recipe for a two crust pie)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. ice cold water
8 Tbs (one stick) cold butter, cut into 16 pieces
In a stand mixer, mix flour, sugar & salt. Add the butter & toss into the flour mixture until coated. Mix on medium low until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water & mix until the dough just comes together. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap & let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before using. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Get Crafty!

DIY Woolen Dryer Balls!

Have you seen the Woolzies brand of dryer balls that are all over the internet right now? 6 wool balls for $35.00.

They are supposed to cut laundry drying time in half. I found a tutorial via Pinterest on the blog Overthrow Martha.  They looked so simple to make that I decided to make my own dryer balls.

I bought a large skein (465 yards) of wool yarn from Michael's for about $9.00 (with a coupon). I wanted to purchase hot pink, chartreuse & sky blue yarn; but unfortunately, Michael's only sold 'winter' type colors of wool yarn.

I wrapped the yarn around my fingers ten times, then took the yarn off my fingers & wrapped it around the middle ten times as well.

Next I brought the two ends together & continued wrapping.

 I kept wrapping until it took on a crude ball shape.
I didn't stop wrapping until the ball was the size of a tennis ball. This took about ten to fifteen minutes (per ball).
To prevent the ball from unraveling, I took a large embroidery needle & sewed the tail through to the other side.
Next I placed the balls into a pair of pantyhose. I tied each section off with dental floss and washed the balls in very hot water and then dried them on high heat (still inside the pantyhose).
Voila! Homemade dryer balls. I can't wait to try them out to see if they really work.☺
UPDATE: They really work! The 'normal' setting on my dryer is for 41 minutes & today the load was dry in less than 20 minutes. Thinking I will have to make more of these & give them as gifts.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wallpaper Removal Project

Last Sunday, I had the bright idea to finally remove the horrid wallpaper & border in one of our upstairs bathrooms. This was supposed to be done seven years ago after we moved into this house. Suffice it to say that after removing wallpaper border in two of the upstairs bedrooms, I didn't want to tackle the job of the bathroom & thought we could live with it. Have you ever removed wallpaper or border? It's a messy, horrible job!
I love dogs, but these pups are downright creepy to me, especially the Cocker Spaniel.
 Removing all the paper/paste took me 2.5 days & would have gone much, much faster if I had used a tip I found on Pinterest right away. The tip: use straight white vinegar to strip away the paper/paste. Instead, I used two different brands of wallpaper stripper before using the vinegar. I finally wised up & used the vinegar. The difference: See for yourself!
This is the size of the paper/paste I was able to remove with Dif & Chomp. It was a very slow process.

THIS is the size of the paper/paste the vinegar removed!
What a difference!

Finally making progress!

Goodbye ugly wallpaper!

Voila! The bathroom looks much bigger now.

Now the hard work begins. Patching all the exposed drywall (sorry Omid!) & applying texture to the drywall. I was hoping there would be texture underneath the paper so all I would have to do is paint over it. This little project got much bigger. What's next? Tearing out the pocket door, sinks & counter. Hopefully it won't take another 7 years to get that done.☺ Right now I am finding lots of inspiration via Pinterest with all the bathroom remodel ideas. ☺

Monday, July 1, 2013