February 10, 2014

Coffee Creamer Bandwagon

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A few weeks ago, I pinned this recipe for DIY coffee creamer.  I was intrigued.  I thought, "Hey!  That seems fairly easy to do, I should I try!"  We love our coffee creamer here at the Bland house.

Like...don't even try to give me coffee without creamer, and no...Starbucks and DD regular coffee don't taste nearly as good as coffee from my house with a little CoffeeMate or ID stirred in!

But after reading a few blarticles (blog + articles) on cleaning eating and coffee creamer, I started to feel like I shouldn't be putting that non-dairy stuff in my body.

Then, my friend Amy over at Road to Roland (I also work with her at school!) tried it last week and motivated me to get off my keester and try it as well!

SO, off I went!

I got a medium sized Mason jar.  I put a whole can of sweetened condensed milk in there.  Ingredients?  Milk.  Sugar.

Next time I may try low sugar.  We'll see...

Then I added some of our favorite 1% milk, Organic Horizon.  I added just a splash of regular half-n-half in there too.

Then came time for flavoring.  This is where I messed up a bit!

I used 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.  I wanted to make a "fancy" flavor, so I added 2 teaspoons of this caramel syrup in too.  Before I looked at the ingredients.  Oops.  The syrup is not good for you, about 10 things listed on there, 5 of which I could pronounce (and you know how with clean eating, you should be able to PRONOUNCE everything that goes into your food!) so next time I can't add that in.  I'll have to find other means of caramelizing my coffee;)

After all the ingredients are in, put the lid on, and shake it up really well.

Then, put it in your cup and brew away!  It was DELICIOUS.  Creamy and frothy and not too sweet at all, where as the non dairy is ALWAYS sweet, and if you buy the sugar free...it just tastes gross.

That was my adventure with DIY coffee creamer.  If you head over to Amy's blog you will see she made hers a different way.  If you peek at this blog, you'll see all the different flavors you can make!

Another great thing about DIY creamer?  The price!!  For the price of the milk (the amount I use in this recipe) the condensed milks (I bought 3) the flavoring (which I use for cooking and baking too) and the half and half...I can make a few batches of my creamer.  Our regular non-dairy is usually around $3.49 or $3.89 (based on Maryland Wegman's prices) a bottle.  I probably spent the same on the supplies, but can make 2 or 3 jars!

For the most part, excluding that evil caramel syrup, I know what is going into my body.  I like that.  I need to do MORE research on how to eat clean!

Enjoy your week!  Ours started out just right with a delay, so I have few hours to chill before going into work.  Thank you snow!!


February 6, 2014

For the love of stripes!

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I do love a good stripe.  I probably have at least 20 shirts, dresses, tanks that have a stripe on them!  I've always been interested in stripe walls.  I would love a striped wall, but have always been afraid of the work.  Goodness.  I was right to be afraid, but guess what?  I have one!  Here is an pictorial (???) update of what went down in the Bland house today!

Our hallway walls and trim and doors are the "standard" gross yellowish white paint that builders use.      When I painted the main floor of our home gray in August 2012, I brought the color all the way up to the door do our master bath.  Then I stopped.  I new that one day in the future, I'd want stripes in this hallway.  Oh the dream.

Our rooms up here are a mix of colors, so I had to stay neutral here.  Our room is green {Fresh Guacamole} Ashley's room is bright pink {Candy Coated} and the office/one day will be a nursery, if we ever get around to having more kids, is a soft yellow {Buttercup}.  So with that rainbow of colors, I chose to stay with a gray color.

Disclaimer: please ignore our terrible carpet.  It's on the list to be replaced!

First I put two coats of Decorator White on the walls.  You can't really see it well below, it still looks a little yellow.  We have terrible lighting in this hallway!  This is a view of our bedroom door, the linen closes, Ashley's door and the office (the yellow room)...

The view below is from the bathroom towards the office and down the stairs.  Hello, beautiful gallery wall.  I love you.  Next I had to tackle that high wall...

That stairwell wall was NOT fun to paint.  I had to get creative painting that white.  I didn't dare do the stripes on that wall, I think I would have died.  About an hour into this project my body was aching and I felt feverish, and that's when I remembered that I am sick.  Hello?  Who starts a crazy project when they are sick?  Wait, who doesn't remember that they are sick?  Yes, that's me.  It's not a big deal.  Just a virus...you know...where I need to rest and sleep it off -.-

In that picture you can totes tell the different between the gross standard builder color and my pretty white!

After the white paint, two coats {thanks to Ash who I made help me before she could have a friend over!} I started to measure and mark off the stripes.

Our ceilings up here are 8 foot, so I decided to make it nice and easy and do 1 foot per stripe.  The bottom strip would have to be white, since I am incorporating the baseboard in that measurement.  It made it very easy to mark off.  I made a little tic mark at each foot, and then took my level and carpenter ruler to draw super straight lines.

Then, all I had to do was tape it with painters tape!  This part, drawing and taping, was the most tedious.  I took lots of breaks.

After that, I got started painting.  Now, our main floor is a beautiful cool toned gray called Secret Passage {Olympic from Lowes with Primer and all that fancy stuff built in, but low VOC} For these stripes I wanted them a little darker, to stand out, so I used some leftover gray from a different project.  This one is also Olympic paint, called Flagstone.

It looks really dark here, it's still wet.  I loved it immediately!

Here is another shot, plugging away.

I ended up doing two coats of this too.  The first coat I put on was very light,  I didn't want it bleeding through the tape.

Immediately after I finished the second coat, I pulled the tape off.  Be careful when you do this, because paint will inevitably get all over you.  I must have been too manic to notice.  I wanted to see it done!

And now, for the moment we've all been waiting for...the finished product!

Again, so sorry about the lighting, it's so bad.  We have to fix it or add a light somehow.  But isn't it beautiful?!

I can't stand those brass door handles.  Ugh.  I need to match them all to Ashley's {third door down, beautiful nickel ones}

The tape worked great.  The way I painted the stripes, with a light coat and then a second coat, seemed to do well.  No bleeds at all!  As for our banister there, I'm thinking of painting that white and then making it vintage looking by staining over top.

The orangey wood just doesn't do it for me;)  The stripes, however?  I LOVE THEM.

Let's see...so I started working on this around 9:00 am, and I took about a 2 hour break to pick up Ashley's friend, go to Lowes and eat lunch, and then I came back and worked on it until 5:00pm, with a few other breaks for water, bathroom, and ordering dinner {I couldn't cook after all that manual labor!} so I think overall it took me between 6 and 7 hours to do this.  Not too bad, eh?

There are still a few steps I have to tackle before it can be labeled "done".  You know, one thing leads to another.  More projects for another day...I just couldn't handle more than the stripes today.  I wanted immediate results, you know?

I am happy with my stripes.  I can't wait to get it all done!  The to do list?

- Replace light switch
- Take off door handles
- Sand doors and trim
- Clean doors and trim
- Paint doors and trim, 2 coats
- Sand and clean banister
- Paint banister, 2 coats
- Vintage-ize banister
- Finish making shelves
- Hang shelves
- Decorate shelves
- Find and hang artwork outside Ashley's door

Until then, I'll be sitting in my hallway, adoring these!

What do you think?  Don't tell me if you don't like it.  Only tell me if you do;) LOL.

I think my bed is calling my name early tonight.  Will we have school tomorrow?  I need to rest if so!

Books & Break

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I am totally on a "travel memoir" reading kick right now.  I just loooooove reading about travel.  I love reading REAL stories about travel.  Travel Lit.  It's actually giving me an idea for another book.  Yes!  Another one!  I'm about 60 pages into writing my YA lit novel and I just might start another one.  Just an outline of one.  It's good, it's really good!

See, I love to travel, if you didn't know!  I believe that if I become a famous writer, like JK Rowling famous, then I can live out my days traveling all over the world with my family.  Then I can be inspired to write more books about traveling with my family.  See the plan here?  It's genius, I know.

Only problem is, I am NOT a writer.  Not yet.  I'm no where near as brilliant as JKR, she's the best.

Anyways, with being home early on Monday from the snow, being sick on Tuesday, and being off yesterday and then again today due to ice, ice baby...I've had some good reading time on my hands.  I finished this book:

It was a sweet book about this woman's experience of falling in love with a Frenchman and moving to Paris.  I loved how she was writing as she was finding her place in a foreign land, and how she learned just how different life is from America.  It was eye opening.  America is so...obsessed...with succeeding and fast food and the "dream"...it makes me a little ill thinking about it.  Then I thought, Europeans don't need all that because they are living the dream, right?  At least in my opinion ;)  She has a blog where she keeps us up to date with how life is going now.  Her next book comes out in April and I'll be buying that one for sure.  This book includes recipes, ones that she discovered as she journeyed through her new life. I can't wait to try some of them {when I get the book back from mom, who wanted it after I read it}.

Then I moved on to a Frances Mayes book that I haven't read...

If you know me at all, you know I adore reading her books.  Under the Tuscan Sun is one of my very favorites.  My dream is to live in Italy.  When we went to Italy 2 summers ago, it only fueled that fierce desire in me.  I love it!

I'm halfway through this one but I can tell you that I already love it.  She and her husband take seasons out of a few years and travel all over.  So far they have been to Spain and Portugal.  I just love her style of writing.  And her style of travel!  They rent little apartments (that's what we did!  it was the best!) and stay in government run hotels and castles and eat and walk their way through tons of little towns.  Swoon swoon swoon.  What a life:)

If you look at my Goodreads to-read list, you will find about 2 dozen more travel memoir type books.  I'm obsessed!!  It's all I can do to keep myself from running to B&N or the library and getting them all.  I actually may end up doing that today ;)

Today we are off school and therefore have lost another day on our Spring Break.  What used to be an 10 day break is now 5 day one.  Sad.  So, since it's officially a break day, I am thinking of all sorts of things I can do that I would do if it were Spring Break.  Sleep in?  Not a chance!  DIY something?  You betcha!  Paint something?  Already started {it's only 7:14am!}  I've been waiting to paint our little upstairs hallway.  There isn't much wall do it, since there are 5 doors off of it, but still, it needs something.  I'm going to paint white/gray stripes across it, as best I can.   I'm looking up the process now and while it seems complicated, I think I can handle it.  It can't be harder that the last accent wall I did, right?!?

I'm also working on building three shelves to hang on the walls when I am done painting.  My brother and sis-in-law gave me power tools for Christmas and I've had a lot of fun with them so far!  I can't believe I'm actually building something?  It's less scary than I thought, and although I've made a ton of mistakes so far, on only 3 little shelves, I am learning a lot.  I'm trying to gear up the courage to build a media cabinet for us.  I hate ours, and we need more rustic furniture with character but I can't find anything that fits what I want and that is affordable.  So...I'm going to build one myself.  I just need to practice on smaller things first!

I'll be back to show you what I've done!  I hope I get the wall finished today:)  I hope everyone enjoys their day!