Sunday, August 31, 2014

For the Soul Sundays

October 2013 Dieter f Uchtdorf

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Affordable Makeover for Kitchen Counters

My family and I have been updating our home in the past couple of years. We like to DIY as much as we can. The list is endless but at the same time is fun to do things together. I love doing projects myself and learn in the process. We updated our oak kitchen cabinets this past March and we loved them! I posted a tutorial in how we painted them...still looking fab! I know I owe you the full reveal. There are some people that have written me asking me for the reveal...well, it is not done for the full reveal yet (especially since we are just coming our of summer...we do not do many home improvements in summer!) However, today I will show you what we did to improve our kitchen counters.
We had the basic, laminate counters and did not want to replace them just yet. We wanted to keep the budget as little as possible since we have bigger projects for the house to finish (like finishing the basement...). They were also VERY stained and they looked really bad!
I know some of you are familiar with this product, it is called Giani Granite.

Giani Granite Home

Sample image

No, this is NOT a sponsored post.
They sell painting kits for countertops and cabinets. Let me tell you, this product is AM-A-ZING!!!
This is how my countertops looked like:


Here are the steps:
First, you have to clean them up really well using Brillo cleaner, wipe and let dry.
Second, you have to apply the primer. It is very thick. They even give you the roller to use. Let dry...to me the "drying" part is the most difficult of the steps! LOL!



Then, using the sponge that comes with the kit, put the base paint on a paper plate and tap the sponge into the paint and then into the counter. Keep tapping and tapping to form a pattern. Let dry. You do the same with each color, usually the kit comes with three. 

The key is first playing a little bit on a piece of paper (that comes with the kit as well) so you know what pattern you like. Granite has asymmetrical patterns so really you cannot mess it up. Also, if you do not like a pattern you can let it dry and keep applying different colors, always in a tapping motion and always do it in sections.
After it is all dry, you apply the topcoat which is what really makes this over the top (no pun intended!) It gives the countertops an awesome shine just like granite. And it makes it super durable. You have to let it cure for 24 hours after that and it cures completely in 14 days. It only cost me $80 to update the countertops and I added extra life to them so they can wait for replacement!



My kit was the "Sicilian Sand."






Let's do a "before and after," shall we?


Night and day difference you guys! And they are super easy to clean as well! All for less then $100! Can't beat that!

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Cookies


Summer is over now for us and so are our cooking lessons with the kids. We still love to cook together but we will not be doing this as often. My middle son loves the Christmas "Linzer"cookies, and since he also loves peanut butter and jelly he decided to combine these together and this is what came out! They were really good!

He melts my heart!! 

Sorry the pictures are not very good, but after we were done he asked me "Mom aren't you going to take some pictures to put these in your blog? He really wanted to see his cookies here!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • Peanut butter
  • Strawberry jelly
Directions:
 Place dry ingredients in a bowl and combine. In another bowl beat granulated sugar and butter until creamy, add vanilla and egg. Gradually add flour. Divide dough in half and refrigerate for two hours.
After the dough is chilled, roll out not too thick and cut first the bases. We used stars cookie cutters. Then roll out again with the leftovers and cut the bases again but this time use the smaller cutter and cut in the middle as well. Repeat this with the rest of the dough. You will also be left with yummy little "snack" cookies. My oldest son  does not like jelly so we left those for him, plain. Bake @ 375 for 7 minutes be sure they do not brown too much. If you cut them really thin they will. 
Let them cool completely.



After they are cooled, spread a little peanut butter on the base and then top with the jelly. Put the top cookie of the cookie sandwich and there you have them! It is kind of fun to do this with the kids! You can dust with powder sugar if you'd like but my son did not want to...
You can see here the little "snack cookies" that were left plain. I tell you, they lasted only one afternoon...



Give them a try and tell me if you liked them. Involve the kids in the kitchen and they will have sweet 
memories for a lifetime!

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Friday, August 8, 2014

What we Have Been Up to Lately...

Summer is almost over! I can't believe it! We are enjoying as much as we can together! Here are some things we have been up to:

My kids are obsessed with forts. This time we kicked it up a notch. We used 3 boxes and inserted leftover Halloween lights inside. They even ate lunch in there!


It was a blast!

3 boxes + twin sheet+ clothes pins+ lights= hours of fun!

They even colored the fort inside!

We had a sunny day with rain! Perfect opportunity to sing in the rain!


We refinished our deck


Finished baseball season


Played in the pool


Played our version of Mario Kart...


Went to Michigan

And Wisconsin


We can honestly say we indeed had a great Summer! Next week school starts and the craziness begins!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Easy Artisan Pizza Dough



Every Friday it is pizza and movie night at my house. We try several kinds of pizza (well, my husband and I, the kids eat only cheese) from Pizza Bianca, to Margherita, to Figazza. I try different kinds of dough, some take couple of hours, some in the bread machine and some that are for the grill. Today I am going to show you the easy, fast, fool proof recipe I have found that yields 4 thin crusts pizzas or 2 thick crust. It will also yield several little pizzas for a party or for the grill! The kids like medium crust and my husband and I like thin. This recipe is adapted from Artisan Bread in Five.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of lukewarm water + 1/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup of EVOO
  • 1 TBSP of yeast
  • 3 tsp of salt
  • 2 TBSP of sugar (we sometimes use honey instead of sugar)
  • 7 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • cornmeal
  • Parchment Paper
For Pizza:
  • Marinara sauce (see below)
  • Italian Blend shredded cheese (mozzarella, provolone, asiago and parmesan)
  • Toppings suggestions: basil, prosciutto, tomatoes green or black olives
Put the pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500. Meanwhile, put the 1/4 cup of lukewarm water, a little of the sugar (about 1 tsp) and the yeast in a little bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. In a container with lid, put all the dry ingredients and mix. When the yeast is foamy, add to the flour and incorporate the water and the oil. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated well. Let rise for about 2 hours on the counter, you can put the rest in the fridge and use within two weeks. We have made breadsticks, pita breads, bread for scones, etc with this dough!
If the dough has been chilled in the fridge, let it come to room temperature before using it. If you are going to use it the same day, take an amount of dough from the container and roll into any size of pizza you like. The dough will be sticky and it works better after it has been chilled.
Cut parchment paper the size of the pizza baking sheet or grease the stone with a little EVOO and sprinkle some cornmeal. Roll the dough into the rolling pin and transfer into the stone. Top with homemade marinara sauce and the toppings you like, sprinkle cheese. We use marinara, basil, olives. I am not a fan of meat in my pizza, I like them very simple.
Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending in thickness of the dough and also the size.You have just made yummy pizza at home!

Here is the dough after two hours:





Here's a recipe for my marinara:
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste (start with little, you can always add more)
  • EVOO, about 2 tsp
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • pinch of brown sugar
In a saucepan put a little bit of EVOO and add garlic. Pan fry until cooked a little bit. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Easy!




A closer look at the crust, it is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside!

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