Banana Bread Crumb Cake

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Hello all! I did a bad thing…

A really bad thing…

You see this website called Pinterest (ever heard of it?) just sucked me in and made me scroll through it’s food and drink section where I stumbled upon this banana cake recipe. Continue reading

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Dupe Alert For LVX Nail Polish Serene

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I don’t know about you but I am just such a fan of dupes! There is something so supremely satisfying about finding a product that is the same color or formula (or both) and at a significantly lower price! Continue reading

Sweet & Spicy Edamame-Beef Stir-Fry

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Asian stir-fries are one of my favorite meals to throw together! They are easy to prep for and usually take only 15 or 20 minutes make. Meals that are this fast will always be high on my list when it comes time for meal planning once again.

This is a very easy and flavorful stir-fry that even the beginner can sail through with ease. It’s an easy recipe to tweak as well if you want to experiment a little. I think next time I cook it I might add the sauce from my Honey-Chile Chicken recipe. Yum!

If you’re looking for a colorful Asian dish packed with flavor and vegetables, then give this one a go! I found it in a Better Homes and Garden magazine focused on skinny one-pan meals, so this is also a healthy recipe. Bonus! Now let’s get cooking!

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*You can download the magazine I got this recipe from here! You’ll find it on page 46.

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (about 1 small crown)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 8 oz boneless beef sirloin tip steak
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame or snow peas
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp red chili paste (found in the Asian section))
  • 2 cups cooked brown basmati rice

Directions

1) In a large wok or skillet heat 2 teaspoons of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add ginger, cook and stir 15 seconds.

*Tip: After using ginger root, store in freezer until needed for next recipe. This will lock in the freshness. I like to grate mine quickly with a microplane zester.

2) Add broccoli and sweet bell pepper strips and cook for 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from skillet.

3) Add remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add meat and edamame; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes until meat is slightly pink in center. Return cooked vegetables to skillet.

4) Combine the hoisin, rice vinegar, and red chili paste; add to skillet. Cook and stir until heated through.

*Tip: Prepare all vegetables, meat, rice, and sauce before cooking in the skillet. This process goes quickly so it’s helpful to have everything prepped ahead of time to speed up the cook time.

Enjoy!

 

Marble Nail Art

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Marble Nails

I was scrolling through Instagram one day and came across this really easy looking marble nail art tutorial. I decided to try it out and see if actually was that easy, because don’t they usually make it look so easy and then once you try it you wonder who possesses the special magical powers to make their nails look like that? Luckily for me and you, it was easy and all it takes is supplies you already have at home!

Supplies

  • Nail polish, two different colors
  • Saran wrap
  • Piece of paper

 

Begin by painting your nails with the base coat of polish. I used Pop Beauty in Mint Magic. Be sure to let it dry completely before you move on to the next step.

Take a small piece of saran wrap and wad it up into a little ball. Add a small drop of the second nail polish color to the paper. Here I used Sally Hansen in 110 Wedding Glitters.

Take the saran wrap and dab in the nail polish. Working quickly, dot saran wrap onto dry nails and keep dabbing until the “marbling” effect is to your liking.

After all nails are done let dry completely. Clean up any nail polish on your skin with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover. I changed up my middle finger and ring finger and painted them gold instead of the turquoise. I like how it changed up the effect ever so slightly!

Add the top coat of your choice and enjoy your own at home salon quality nails! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know if you try it out and what color combinations you come up with. Have a great hump day!

 

 

Tired of Your Washer & Dryer? Try This!

I’m here today with another DIY project for the home; specifically for your washer and dryer. If you’re anything like me you own these:

And not these:

Not because ^these^ aren’t stunningly beautiful and work wonderfully, but because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay $1500 per machine! I’ll take my $700 set thank you very much.


As much as I love to save money there is the unfortunate side effect of affordable products often being a bit blasé. Such is the case of my washer/dryer combo. They work wonderfully, we are happy with what we paid for them, their longevity has been great, but when I look at them…meh.

White.

Boring.

As we were going through our home renovation last August, I remembered I’d seen a photo on Pinterest (of course, where else?!) of someone putting vinyl decals on their washer and dryer. I jumped on the idea because as my laundry room was pulling together, we decided to put my sewing desk and craft supplies in there as well, so it was quickly becoming my little work haven. And if I’m going to be working in a space a lot, it better be pretty!


On one of my many trips to Hobby Lobby I found these decals on a 50% off sale. I snatched them up, ran home, and turned my blasé washer and dryer into something fun and colorful and girly. It almost makes me like doing laundry!

Almost. Let’s not get too carried away.


If you’re looking for a good slap-and-go option I’d go with the polka dots. The chevron pattern was a bit tricky to get level and to line everything up correctly. I did many a redo when I realized my line was off. The end result though was totally worth it and I love walking into my laundry room and having some brightness to greet me.

I hope you enjoyed this quick little DIY inspiration and I’ll see you again soon with my next post!

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KathleenLights and Colourpop Are Back At It!

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Colourpop x KathleenLights haul: Alyssa, November, Mr. Bing, and Krinkle

Once more KathleenLights and Colourpop have teamed up again for a new collaboration! I was so excited when Kathleen announced that she was coming out with some new products with Colourpop! She ended up doing three new lip colors in Colourpop’s Ultra Satin lip finish, a creme gel color (potted eyeliner), and a creme gel liner. I ended up snagging two of the lip colors and the eyeliner pencil and I am just in love!

Colourpop: Alyssa, November, Mr. Bing, and Krinkle

 

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I picked up the Ultra Satin lipsticks in Alyssa and November and the creme gel liner in Mr. Bing, as well as a Supershock shadow in Krinkle. (Not a collaboration item.) I have tried the ultra satin formula before and absolutely love it, so I knew I would love the lipsticks, but this was the first liner I had tried from Colourpop. I am so impressed with it! It glides on so smoothly, without any of the tugging or pulling that can sometimes happen with other eye liners, and it is quite long-wearing. I’m really itching to pick up a few more of their liners now after trying this one!

The eye shadow in Krinkle was just an impulse buy as I was about to check out. It’s a really pretty silver blue with lots of silver reflects in it. I’ve got this look in mind of a dark halo eye with this in the center. That’s definitely more of a special occasion look for me, so I don’t know how usable this shadow will be, but it’s fun!

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The creme gel liner, Mr. Bing, is described as a rich warm brown in a matte finish. In the picture above I used it to line my upper lash line and my water line. I love how warm and rich the color is and it wears like a dream! I’m also wearing November on the lips. I actually posted this picture on Twitter and Kathleen retweeted it! Aaaahhh! Craziness! Let’s just say it made my day!

As you fellow Friends lovers might have picked up, this liner is indeed named after Chandler Bing, specifically from the scene where Monica is pretending she’s not sick and tries to seduce Chandler by calling for “Dr. Bing to the bedroom”. I cracked up when Kathleen explained the name for this one! Someone mentioned that if Kathleen does another collaboration with Colourpop, she should name something “Mrs. Chanandler Bong”. I would die laughing if that happened! Brilliant idea nameless person whose comment I happened to see on Instagram! I wish I could give you proper credit.

Alyssa is described as a dusty neutral pink. I love this shade as it’s a lovely everyday neutral color. It’s one of those that if you’re not sure what lip color to pick, just pick Alyssa because it will go with everything.

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November is described as a mid-tone warm peachy pink. This is just the perfect pretty pink, which is something I was lacking in my collection oddly enough. I love how much life it brings to my face when I wear this shade.

That’s it for my Colourpop x KathleenLights haul! I hope you enjoyed and be sure to check out the Colourpop website as well as Kathleen’s Youtube channel. Colourpop is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite affordable brands.

I’ll see you soon in my next post! Have a great day!

 

 

Our $2000 Kitchen Renovation

Our $2000

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re new to my blog (Welcome!) my husband and I purchased our little fixer upper home last August and renovated it from top to bottom. We poured our hearts and souls (and savings account) into the work and we have created our own cozy little home sweet home.

Today I wanted to share with you our kitchen renovation before and after pictures as well as the cost of the materials needed for the reno. For me, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home so I was so excited to create the kitchen of my dreams! We were on a tight budget so that “dream kitchen”, you know, the one that evokes Pinterest-worthy million dollar kitchen pictures, really came down to making it look like a million dollar space on a shoe-string budget. Unfortunately I’ve got a case of champagne taste on a beer budget, but my husband and I worked diligently together to find what we needed and, most importantly, to try and find it at a killer discount! I’ll share with you some of my budget savvy tips on how we renovated our kitchen for just $2000.

Before and After Shots

This is what we started with. It was a pretty typical early 1980’s kitchen, and no your eyes are not deceiving you, that is carpet…in the kitchen…

Here’s the view from the kitchen to the other side. The moment I saw that alcove on our house tour I envisioned a built-in bench with a tile accent wall which would incorporate an odd looking space into something functional and eye catching at the same time.

Here are the results:

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I am so in love with our kitchen! It took a lot of hard work, a lot of arguments over what to buy and things we had to return to stick to our budget, but all of it is truly worth it when I stand in here and look around and know that we did it!

Price Breakdown

  • Paint: $145.00 (estimated as we bought white and grey paint in bulk 5 gallon containers)
  • Counter tops: $479.00
  • Vent Hood: $175.00
  • Backsplash Tile: $257.69
  • Eating Nook Tile: $74.82
  • Flooring: $430.92
  • Hardware: $79.70
  • Faucet: $98.00
  • Lighting: $171.91

Total: $1912.04

The total is probably closer to $2000 with the odds and ends you constantly have to go purchase, like painting tools, plumbers putty, lightbulbs, etc., etc. You know, all the random crap you didn’t know to budget for!

Our biggest savings scores were found at Surplus Warehouse, and I cannot recommend shopping there enough if you are going through a renovation or need anything household related. They hands down beat Lowe’s and Home Depot on just about every product they have. We got our counter tops at a deep discount because they were returned items that were still in pristine condition. The $479.00 includes (3) 12′ sections, one 8′ bar top, and the end caps to finish off the look. (Part of the counters were used in the guest bathroom, so there’s some additional savings right there!)

I also got my vent hood, which took a little convincing* on my husbands part, at Surplus Warehouse at a hefty discount! Comparable models at Lowe’s and Home Depot run around $400-$450…Oh heck no!

*Ok, confession time, I just bought it because we kept arguing about it and couldn’t come to a consensus, but I just knew that it would be a beautiful focal point in the kitchen…Whew. I’m glad that’s off my chest. He truly did love it after we got it installed and said he was glad I purchased it, because it truly does open up that space. I just hated those dinky little cabinets above the stove that served hardly any purpose!

Here are links to all the products that were used in our renovation:

Keep reading on for some in-progress photos and some more tips on how I saved money on our project. I had so much fun looking through these photos! It’s amazing to look at the after photos and know that we did 100% of the work ourselves!

Here’s my father-in-law who was basically our spray paint gun guru for the entirety of the renovation. He sprayed all the trim in the house, which took 2-3 coats.

I got in on the spray action a bit painting the wood paneling. We didn’t have to worry too much about making a mess painting because we were painting the cabinets and replacing the flooring anyway. That really sped up our prep time, which is just about the worst part of any painting project.

I don’t know how many times I caught my mom cleaning off the counters when we were just going to rip them off anyways!

Here Tyler and Noel (his dad), were making way for the brand new range hood by ripping out the tiny useless cabinets up there.

My mom and I took turns between sanding the old hardware to prep it for a fresh coat of spray paint and spray painting the kitchen cabinets, which took about 4 coats to get a good even color.

Instead of buying new cabinet hardware, we sanded and spray painted the pieces to make them look like new. It only cost us in elbow grease and a little spray paint. Purchasing this new would have run around $290.00, not including screws!

We even spray painted the screws because my mom and I are so Type A that we couldn’t stand for the screws to be brassy gold. We finally figured out you could push each screw into the cardboard to hold it upright so we could spray paint it easier.

Another way we saved money throughout the house was saving the fans that were still in good working order and updated them. I disassembled the fan for the dining area and spray painted the blades, front and back. Then, I sanded the metal parts of the fan and spray painted them with Rustoleum Satin Nickel spray paint.

I replaced the outdated globes with some more modern square shaped ones. All of this really updated the look of the fan and saved us around $100 per fan!

After the cabinets were painted we finally got to get rid of that awful carpet.

Laying down the water barrier in preparation for the laminate flooring.

Dad was teaching me the ropes on installing laminate flooring.

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I decided to paint the interior of the upper cabinets in this blue I had leftover from painting the bathrooms. I thought it added a pretty pop of color and personality! Doesn’t the kitchen already look so much brighter?

Here’s our resident spray painter back in action on the cabinet doors. They were a real chore!

Lighting is installed now as well as cabinet doors and some of the hardware.


I think this was one of the most exciting parts for me! Removing the old counters to get ready for the new! I really wanted to get granite counters but it was just not nearly in our budget. I estimated the more inexpensive granite counters to be around $1500-$2000 for our kitchen. Yikes!

I was disappointed for awhile as I had always pictured granite counters in my dream kitchen, but it actually worked out for the better. It didn’t make sense from a realty point of view to put in granite counters in our neighborhood. We bought our home in a startup neighborhood, so we would have priced ourselves out of the average cost of the homes in our area once we get ready to sell.

The counter was already at a 45° mitered angle, so that was one less cut we had to make. We laid the counter on to get a good measurement.

Then Noel and Tyler cut it down to length using a Skilsaw.

After applying a layer of adhesive it was time to install the counters!

Tyler is using the jigsaw to do the sink cutout now.

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Remember that island in the middle of the kitchen before? We decided that having an island was too cumbersome for a kitchen that size, so we screwed some plywood to the bottom, added casters, and made it a bar!

This is the eating nook bench in progress. Tyler had to do the wiring for the sconces, because there was none there before. All my time of making fun of him for doing arduino projects bit me in the butt! It’s awesome that he knows the basics of electrical wiring!

Tyler came up with the design on this bench on his own. I was just the catalyst for the basic idea.

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We installed piano hinges so that there was additional storage under the bench. Almost all the supplies used for the bench were salvaged from debris around the house.

It’s really getting there now. We used beadboard for the back of the bench.

Installing the backsplash.

Almost finished up on the backsplash. This is my old stove pictured above. Unfortunately, a gas stove was just not in the budget at this point. I was heartbroken because one of the big reasons we chose this place was that it already had gas hook ups. My parents ended up surprising me with my dream stove!

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A five burner gas top stove with a griddle!

 

I hope you enjoyed walking through my kitchen renovation journey along with me and I hope you got some useful tips too! We had an absolute blast renovating our home. Don’t get me wrong, it was grueling with many long nights, short tempers, and a huge financial obligation but it was all completely worth it. I would do it again in a heart beat! Have a great weekend y’all!

Oof

Oof. I’m feeling so sick and miserable right so I don’t know when I’ll be able to shoot out a proper post here. I’m hoping for a quick recovery though because my father in law drove all the way here last night after my husband called, all unbeknownst to me as I was passed out in a stupor with a 2 year old on my chest, and is taking care of Izzy and Lailah for me while I rest. 😊 For now, please enjoy these gifs that my drug addled, sick brain finds quite hilarious at the moment:




Are you sick?


I need this in my life right about now




And I’m out

Banana Caramel Pie

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This pie is just sinfully delicious. I mean, who knew bananas and caramel were such a good pairing?! Seriously, if you’ve seen this recipe floating around the internet but thought it was weird, just try it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And if you are, just run it over to my house and I’ll take care of it for you. 😉

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My mom made this one year for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I don’t remember which, and we just thought it was about the best thing ever! I loved the fact that you made your own caramel and that you did it with only one simple ingredient: sweetened condensed milk. I thought that was just about the kookiest thing I’d ever heard, but it works beautifully and it is so so so good.

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If you want, you can make this a completely no-bake recipe by buying a pie crust. That’s what I ended up doing this time around, because I was just far too tired to make my own. I’m such a homemade nut that it almost made me feel bad to buy a crust (I know, it’s lame) but I was pleasantly surprised. Tyler and I are diligently working away on this pie as you read this, much to our dismay *insert sarcasm* I hope you give this recipe a try and that you enjoy it as much as I do! Bon appetit!

 

Banana Caramel Pie

Begin by filling a pot with enough water to cover the top of the condensed milk can by a few inches. Boil for 3 hours. Check often to make sure the water level never goes below the top of the can. Remove can from water with a pair of tongs and let cool for 1 hour.

Make pie crust according to recipe, or buy a pre-baked shell.

Slice bananas and arrange in the baked pie shell.

Top bananas with caramel and spread out evenly.

Layer the whipped cream on top and spread evenly.

Chill for 3 hours or until pie is firm and set.

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Eat to your hearts content!

 

 

Chicken Caesar Lasagna

I’m know I’ve been a bit lax on my recipe round up series but lately I’ve been cooking big meals and we’ve been eating off of the leftovers for quite some time. It’s been kind of nice to be able to kick back most evenings and heat up leftovers, but I was so glad to get my cooking juices flowing again with this Chicken Caesar Lasagna.

I came across this recipe in the Better Homes and Garden Skinny One-Pan Recipes magazine. When I see a lasagna recipe, I automatically assume that it will be a very involved, time consuming undertaking but as I read through the recipe I realized that it was actually quite easy and simple to throw together. It is really good and I especially appreciate it’s simplicity. I loved this spin-off of the classic meat and marinara sauce lasagna that you usually see! If you’re feeling a bit adventurous I’d recommend you give this a try!

Chicken Caesar Lasagna

  • 9 oven ready lasagna noodles
  • 20 oz Alfredo pasta sauce
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup shredded Italian-blend cheeses

Directions

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Cut bell pepper in half and seed. I decided to throw in a green bell pepper for some more color and flavor. Sprinkle with chopped garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Roast pepper for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 325° F.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the alfredo sauce, lemon juice and black pepper.

Stir in the next three ingredients.


Arrange three of the noodles in a baking dish then top with 1/3 of the chicken mixture. Repeat layers twice.

Bake, covered, 50 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and cook 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!