Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bananaberry Bread

I am always looking for new healthy snack recipes. I get bored with snacks easily and when that happens I find myself reaching for those comforting fatty snacks. My husband sent me a link to an article on which had recipes for 14 healthy snacks ( The first one that caught my eye was this Bananaberry Bread. It had great ingredients and they even suggested topping it with a little peanut butter and I LOVE peanut butter. This snack packs in fruit, protein, and whole grains! Not only does it taste incredible, but it's great for you so you can feel good eating it!

Bananaberry Bread

3 ripe bananas

1/2t baking soda

3 tablespoons margarine (I used a reduced fat olive oil spread)

1/4C mashed avocado

3/4C sugar

3 eggs

2C whole wheat flour (the recipe suggests using part white flour, but I wanted all whole grain)

1t salt

1t baking powder

3T cold water

1t vanilla extract (I always over pour when using vanilla's just too good!)

1C fresh blueberries (you can use frozen too)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Mash bananas and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside. With a mixer; cream together margarine, avocado, and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time while continuing to mix. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix. Add water and vanilla and mix until all is well combined. Now add the banana/baking soda from earlier and mix. Then fold in the blueberries carefully so they do not pop open.

Pour evenly into 2- 8" loaf bread pans. Bake 40-50 minutes. Test with toothpick in the center; if it comes clean, it's done! Allow to cool and then remove loaf from pan.

This was so quick and easy to make. You can even freeze one of the loafs for later. That didn't happen in my house though. It was gone in just a few days lol!

I spread a little chunky peanut butter on top of 1 slice and had a small glass of non-fat milk for breakfast. Such a yummy breakfast and even adding the peanut butter and milk was still all under 300 calories! If you are a fan of banana bread you have to try this and if you have never baked with whole wheat flour, you will be pleasantly surprised that it tastes just as good as enriched white flour, but so much better for you! Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Secrets to Making Your Home Sparkle!

Every girl needs a little sparkle in her life right? Well unfortunately I'm not talking about diamonds...but, having a home that sparkles can make you feel almost as good...right? lol

I have come across a few cleaning tips over the past few weeks from watching TV at all kinds of crazy hours. Mom's you know what I mean. I have tested them all and have found them to work brilliantly! I just had to share!

Now some of you might be reading trough this saying, "um, those tricks have been around forever", so to you I say, "WHY DIDN'T YOU SHARE THEM WITH ME!!!" j/k. But as a "new" stay home mom, I am always looking for tips on how to make my house a home. Before when I worked the dreadful 9-5, I cleaned on the weekends and did the BARE minimum. While watching GMA the other morning I learned that there are 2 areas to check to make sure your home is clean or if your house keeper is doing a good job. 1. The base of your toilet and 2. The top of your refrigerator. Well, I failed that one! You better believe those are on my list this week. lol. Here are 7 tips that will make having a home that sparkles SO much easier!

1. Place a little water and baking soda in a small microwave safe glass dish in your microwave. Turn your microwave on for a few minutes. Now all of that stuck on food that has been splattered all over your microwave can be easily wiped down!

2. Place 1 denture tablet into your toilet, wait 30 minutes, scrub and flush! It will leave your toilet grime free and minty fresh! Although I wonder what the cashier checking me out at the grocery store is thinking..."why is this 20 some year old woman buying denture tablets"...hmmmmm

3. When cleaning your mirrored and glass surfaces, use coffee filters instead of paper towels or a cloth towel. It leaves your glass squeaky clean with no residue or fuzz left behind!

4. I know that cleaning blinds is such a daunting task. I rarely get around to doing it because it can be very time consuming, especially if you have a lot of windows in your home like I do. Every once and a while I will run the "swiffer" over them but I feel like that just pushes the dust around. I found that using a dryer sheet works like a charm! All of the dust clings to it! And you can even use a used one right out of the dryer!

5. Want a clean shower? Combine vinegar and water in a spray bottle (you can get them at the dollar store) and spray down all surfaces of your shower. Tile, glass, etc. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then wipe it clean. It breaks down all that dirt and grime and it DOES NOT leave a vinegar smell behind.

6. I am constantly dealing with how to reach those nasty cobwebs and I have 12 ft ceilings in my home! So grab a broom, a yard stick, pole, whatever you have lying around and put a tube sock over it. I bet all of us women can find an old holey sock in our husbands sock drawer! The cobwebs stick right to it and then you can just throw it in the wash!

7. I hate those sticky price tags that come on home decor, picture frames, etc. I have used 'Goof Off" in the past and it does work really well, but it is a chemical, has a very strong odor, and can even eat away color. I now use a little baby oil. Rub it into the sticker until it wipes right off! Genius!

So I know it's only 7 tips, but they have changed my cleaning routine for the better! If you have any cleaning tips of your own you would like to share, please do so on my FB page 'Style with Wisdom'! I would love to hear them! And if you missed my post on how to make cleaning your home less overwhelming you can read it here! Now make that home SPARKLE!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jute Wrapped Vases

Hey guys! I know its Friday and I am just now putting up a new post, but I have been pretty busy all week with new clients! I have been working on all kinds of small projects. Check out my Facebook page for some of the latest! and even more to come next week!

So today I wanted to share another tip for re-using the decor you have and turning it into something you love! I am all about recycling decor. Remember just because it is not the right style or color, doesn't mean you have to throw it out. If it has good lines or a good shape, you can change it to make it perfect for your space!

Last week while my little man was napping, I worked on this project of turning 2 green metal vases into gorgeous jute wrapped vases! I used a lot of green while decorating our last home and when we moved into this house, I kept it all hoping that I could use it someday. Unfortunately green just wasn't a part of the new color pallet, so now I have all of this perfectly good decor stashed away for decor refinishing projects!

I am working on decorating my office right now and I knew I wanted some tall vases to sit in the corner of the room. While rummaging through all of my 'green' decor, I found these 2 matching green metal vases. I started to brainstorm what I could do to change them to work in my new space. Painting them was an obvious choice, but I wanted something more than that. I was inspired by an episode of Nate Berkus where they were covering all kinds of things with fabric, lace, rope, etc. That is when I got the idea to wrap them in Jute.

I went to my local Hobby Lobby store and found a 900ft spool of jute for $16.99 and I had a 40% off coupon! (BTW: you can sign up for free weekly coupon e-mails on Hobby Lobby's website and you don't even have to print them out. Show them the coupon on your phone during checkout and you'll have instant savings!)

I knew I wanted to start wrapping the vase with the jute from the top of the vase. This way if I ended up with any imperfections, they would be at the bottom of the vase where no one would see them! So I flipped the vase upside down since it was easier to work from the bottom up. I just ran a small line of hot glue around the top of the vase and then layed the jute right on top. I continued this over, and over, and over, and over again until I got to the bottom.

Let me tell you that this part takes a lot of time. Remember above where I mentioned that I did this while my little man was napping? Well, make that 2 days worth of naps lol! It went a lot faster on the second vase because by that time I knew what I was doing and I had a really good rhythm down. It also takes a ton of hot glue. I have a small hot glue gun and I even had to make a run to the craft store for more hot glue because I ran out halfway through the first vase. It probably took over 30 mini glue sticks to finish both vases.

Overall, this was a fun project and although time consuming, it was a little therapeutic. Every once and a while I love a project that is almost mind numbing. Simple, yet you have to focus so hard that it takes your mind off everything! This is the final product and I am really happy with the way they turned out! They work perfectly in my new space! Another decoration recycled! What item in your home can you recycle today??

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chicken, Artichoke, and Cannellini Bean Spezzatino...aka the BEST stew I have ever had!!!

Ok this is for those of you who heard me mention the best stew I've ever had while talking about the Cranberry-Lime Sangria I made for Christmas Eve. I know I mentioned that I would blog about it and provide the recipe during that post so here it is! It is called Chicken, Artichoke, and Cannellini Bean Spezzatino and there are three things I know for sure about this recipe... 1. A Spezzatino is just a fancy Italian word for Stew 2. It tastes AMAZING and 3. It only takes about 30 min to cook!

This is one of those great recipe's that you can make to feed a large group of people and totally impress them with your Italian cooking skills. I found this recipe while watching an episode of Giada at Home on the Food Network. I have tried many of her recipe's and she is a fantastic Italian cook!


2T Olive Oil

6 strips of bacon (Giada uses Pancetta, but I prefer good 'ol fashion American Bacon lol)

2 Medium size Carrots-sliced thin

2 Medium size Celery Stalks-sliced thin

1 Onion

3 Cloves Garlic

1t Salt

1t Pepper

2-14oz cans low sodium Chicken Broth (TIP: I always buy low-sodium broth, it tastes just as good as the regular and so much better for you!)

1T Basil

2T Tomato Paste

2t Dried Thyme

1 Bay Leaf

3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts with Rib Meat

12 oz. Artichoke Hearts-Chopped small

1-15oz. can Cannellini Beans (rinsed and drained)

Start by heating the oil in a large saucepan (large enough to hold the entire stew) over med-high heat. Chop the bacon into small bite size pieces and add to pan. Cook about 6-8 min or until nice and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and place on a paper towel to drain. Now we have that nice fatty bacon grease to saute our vegetables in!

Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent (5min or so). Stir in the chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf. Add the chicken whole and submerge into liquid. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for 20min. Then add artichokes and beans and turn the chicken breasts over. Cook for 10 more min. Remove the chicken and shred or chop into bite size pieces and return to the stew and cook 5 more min. Remove the bay leaf and spoon the stew into bowls. Top with the bacon and serve!!

This is such a warm, hearty, comforting meal that is so easy to make and your family or guests will love it! I want to make it again just talking about it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Styling a Bookcase 101

Ok I know I said I was going to share this last week, but the week really got away from me! So I took some photos this morning and I am prepared to give you a full tutorial on 'How to Style a Bookcase'. I am going to take you step by step through how I styled my new bookcase and give you tips on how you can style yours! (if you didn't get a chance to read about our beautiful $250 custom bookcase you can read the post here

Ok here it is!

This bookcase is filled with items I already owned. It is a collection of books I had stashed away in a closet, small decor items, office supplies, photos, candles, etc. I literally spent an entire afternoon working on it until I liked the placement of everything. When styling a bookcase you have to work through trial and error. I make piles of all the things I want to use on the floor and separate them into categories. i.e books, decor, picture frames, supplies, etc. I then started with my inspiration for the entire room which you will see on the top middle shelf. The tall blue and white geometric print decor. I am basing the entire room around them, so I wanted them to have a prominent spot in the bookcase. From there I spaced the middle shelves and then made sure the outer shelves were symmetrical to one another. This way the bookcase doesn't have the same horizontal lines running all the way across.

One feature I love about this bookcase is how we left off the cheap backer board to allow the blue paint behind to show through. This gives such great contrast to all of the decor and books on the shelves.

I then began to play with all the items I had to style with. You can start on any shelf really. Here are my top 10 styling tips you can follow when styling your own shelves:

1. Place your books going different directions. Stack some horizontally and stand some vertically. Place some in the middle and some on the ends.

2. ALWAYS work in odd numbers! Treat each shelf as its own little area and try to have an odd number of groupings on that shelf.

3. Use a mixture of textures. Wood, metal, glass, etc.

4. Think outside the box and use things as something other than they were meant for. i.e. wooden balls as book ends.

5. Take paper covers off of books!! Almost all paper covers have a bright glossy cover. When you remove them, a beautiful, solid color, hard back book is revealed! Even the dollar store sells books that are GORGEOUS when you take the covers off!

6. Bookshelves aren't just for stacking books. Lean pieces of art, a diploma, a pin board, along the back.

7. Work in scales. Think about height and style each shelf using something tall, short, fat, skinny, etc. Then ask yourself, "Does it look balanced?"

8. Make it personal. Add photos that have meaning to your family. I remembered that over 7 years ago my husband and I took our first beach trip together and he had written 'Justin hearts Jennifer in the sand and I took a photo of it. I tracked down the disc with the photo on it, had it printed, and placed it in a frame. Now it has heartfelt meaning to my family as well as a beachya feel for the style of the space!

9. Make it functional. The small chests you see in my bookcase are filled with office supplies. Rubber bands, pens, tape, staples, sticky notes, etc. Such a great way to make it look beautiful on the outside, yet completely functional on the inside!

10. Give little 'nods' to the style you are going for. Our home has a Hamptons/Beachy feel so I added little seashells and rope here and there. This helps to tie the bookcase into your overall design of the space.

Have fun with it! Start with one shelf at a time and play with it until you LOVE it. Then move onto the next one. Normally once I love a shelf, I won't touch it again. I won't take anything from it to help style another shelf. It becomes off limits! LOL. And remember to 'shop' your house! I know I am always saying this, but you'd be surprised what you have in other rooms that might be perfect on your bookcase!

Here are some close ups of a few of my favorite shelves...

(above) For this shelf, I bought a $6 glass vase at Home Goods and 10ft of large rope at Home Depot, $6. I just wrapped the rope into the vase and voila! You have something that has both texture and interest. I also placed a silver shell paper weight on top of the book. Notice how I have an odd number of groupings (3); a vase, a shell, a stack of books.

This is a close up of the small chest that I am so beautifully hiding my rubber bands in! Only $8 at Hobby Lobby!

(above) For this shelf, I needed something to balance out the height of the two large decor items that were my inspiration for the room. I had an ugly canvas sitting in the garage that I had bought in clearance for 25 cents!! It was so inexpensive because it had this horrible print on it, but I bought it knowing I could cover it with fabric. I had some burlap left over from Christmas and I just wrapped it around the canvas and used a staple gun to secure it in the back. I then trimmed it out with some nail heads to give it a border. I found a few beachy photos online and printed them at Walmart (Walmart prints in matte for only a few cents). Now I have a great looking pin board that is not only functional but inspirational!

On this shelf, I decided to display my diploma. When framing anything I recommend always using matting. A lot of frames come with it, but if they don't, you can buy it for only a few dollars at any craft store. Matting helps to frame in the photo or document. Notice how on this shelf I really played with a variation in height and now it looks balanced.

On this shelf I used wicker balls as book ends. They really aren't even heavy enough to hold the books, but the books are sturdy enough to stand on their own and therefore the balls give the illusion that they are bookends!

One thing I always tell people when they are working on a styling project is if you don't love it, then its probably not quite right. Keep playing with it until YOU love it. There are no rules, no right and wrong. It's whatever makes you feel good about your space! I hope this tutorial will help any of you working on a project like this. It doesn't just have to be a large bookcase like this either. It can be an entertainment center, free floating shelves on the wall, a dresser, etc. Use my 10 styling tips for all flat surfaces you are decorating in your home!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cranberry Lime Sangria

Over the Holiday, my husband and I decided to have his parents over for Christmas Eve dinner. I knew exactly what I wanted to make and I will be sharing that a little later, but let's just skip right to the best part, what we made to DRINK!

I came across a recipe in Taste of Home magazine for Cranberry Lime Sangria. The photo alone had me drooling. We made it in the morning so it could soak up all of the fresh fruit juices. It turned out to be such a refreshing, fun Holiday drink, but you could really make it for any occasion and you could probably even make it without alcohol if you'd prefer!

Cranberry Lime Sangria

-Cook 2 cups water with 1 cup cranberries over medium heat until they burst...about 5 min

-Drain, discard the liquid, and set aside

-Combine 1 bottle Spumante (sparkling white wine), 3/4C frozen limeade concentrate, 1 diced apple, 1 diced orange, 1 diced lime, 1 liter citrus soda (we used Sun Drop), and cooked cranberries.

-Mix together and refridgerate for a few hours (it can be served right away over ice, but better if you let it sit for a while.)

- I like to make pretty drinks like this in a clear pitcher so you can see all of the colors of the fresh fruits!


Monday, January 2, 2012

DIY Bulit-In Bookcase

Hey guys! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to what the New Year holds! 2011 was such a great year for my family and I am excited for what 2012 has in store for my business as well!

So I know its been a few weeks since my last husband is a teacher and had the last few weeks off so we have been spending a lot of time together as a family. But, now its back to work! One of the things we worked on over the Holiday's was my office bookcase. If you read my post on changing our formal dining room into my home office, you know that we are in the process of making that happen. We have an alcove on of the walls and I thought that would be the perfect place for a large bookcase. I spent a lot of time scouring the internet and discount stores for inexpensive bookcases, but they were really hard to find! The least expensive white bookcases I found were online at Target for $99 each, but of course they were sold out! And I would have had to buy 3 to get the look I was going for. So of course I started brainstorming how I could achieve this look for less. My husband and I always seem to do this; we have an idea, we get quotes from companies, stores, etc., learn that it is going to cost WAY too much, and we figure out how to do it ourselves for less...

I am a huge fan of HGTV and I practically have it on the TV all day long. One of my favorite designers is Candice Olson. I have been watching her for years and one thing she always does in her designs is purchase inexpensive furniture and dress it up to make it look high end. This is where I got the idea to buy 3 cheap $49 white Billy bookcases from IKEA and use molding to transform it into a large high end "built-in"!

This is what it looked like after we put together the bookcases individually. (I had already painted the alcove blue and we decided to leave off the cheap backer board of the bookcases so the blue would show through).

From here we purchased MDF boards to run along the bottom and vertically to hide the seams. We also purchased crown molding to run along the top. Overall we spent about $75 in trim. I took one of the shelves into Home Depot and they did a color match for some paint that I could use to paint the trim once installed. This way I only had to paint the trim and not the entire bookcase.
My husband used a nail gun and some wood glue to adhere the trim to the bookcase. You can pre-cut your trim at Home Depot, but we used our table saw at home. It was all very easy until we got to the crown molding. We had a lot of waste trying to figure out how to make the cuts in order for the corners to fit seamlessly. You would think cutting it at a 90 degree angle would do it...but that is only if you are laying the trim flat. Crown molding leans at an angle. So we FINALLY after countless attempts and hours of watching youtube videos figured out that when using a miter saw (which we had to borrow from the neighbor) you have to not only cut the piece at 90 degrees, but you have to hold it on an angle while cutting it (oh and hold it upside down at the same time). Then you have to learn whether or not to take the left piece or the right piece once cut.

I know that probably sounds really confusing, but if you are ever doing a project like this, e-mail me and I would be more than happy to explain. Believe me, I wish I would have had someone to call 500 wasted cuts earlier...

The overall transformation of the bookcases is amazing! And it only cost us about $250!! It was so worth the difficultly and we learned so much from doing it. I love working on projects like this with my husband. We make such a good team. I am so happy with the way it turned out and I can't wait to finish the entire room so I can show you before and after photos. Here is what the bookcase looked like after the trim was added.

Later this week I am going to blog about how to style a bookcase and show you how mine turned out! Stay tuned!!