Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Banana Blondies

Sometimes I make really good decisions. 

Sometimes I find something on Pinterest, and it just turns out. Like really turns out good. (see below for a delicious example)

And sometimes things don't turn out at all. Pinterest Fail. 

So before I tell you about the best-ever-so-easy-it-can't-be-good-for-you recipe for Banana Blondies, let me tell you about my fail making banana bread. Banana bread---it should be so easy to make, right?

Not for me I guess!

I do have a great recipe for banana muffins, maybe I should just put those in a loaf pan, is that how these things work? Would that even work? Hmmmm.

I found this recipe for Banana Bread on Food.com. The picture show delicious, warm (I'm only assuming it's warm, I didn't see that in the photos per se), yummy banana bread. Mmmmm, my mouth was watering, and I had a whole bunch of ripe bananas to use up; let's get started!! 

So I mixed it up (easy enough) and greased and floured my loaf pan (thanks Mom for teaching me how to do that!) and then poured it in and popped it in the oven. Easy! Wait an hour (which seemed like a long time, but whatever), and then smell something burning and pull out this mess: 

Ick.  It was burned and didn't look at all like the pictures, didn't look appetizing at all.  I took it out and tried to salvage it by cutting off the burned parts, but it just was a soppy mess. Le sigh. I tried!!

Now, on to the success of the day:

Banana Blondies! 

Look at how delicious these look!

And homemade frosting too!!


I found the recipe off of Pinterest, from this website, Cookies and Cups. 

It was surprisingly easy, and so deliciously sweet! I've never really even made frosting before, and I couldn't believe
a) that I made it and 
b) that I had all the ingredients already in my pantry!

This is all that was left after the kids got into it!
Ready for the recipe?

Here goes!  

Banana Blondies 


  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 medium to large mashed ripe banana

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 8x8 pan or a pie plate with foil, then spray with non-stick baking spray.
2. Using your stand mixer, combine melted butter and sugar. Then incorporate in egg and vanilla. Then stir until salt, flour and banana until batter is smooth. 
3. Bake for 25-30 min. Center should be set when you take it out.
4. Place pan on wire rack to cool, then make the frosting!

Brown Sugar Frosting


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 cup powered sugar

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add brown sugar and milk; stir until  it begins to boil. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
2. Whisk in powered sugar.
3. Pour over blondies and let sit while frosting hardens. When everything is completely cool and set, cut and enjoy! Refrigerate any leftovers. 

Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween bottles and a pasta problem!

Today I finished up working on my Halloween decor, by putting the final touches on these bottles that we painted. I really liked how they turned out!

I still have to give them a final spray of sealer, so the paint doesn't chip off, but other than that, they are ready to display! The smaller one is a pasta jar that was painted orange on the inside, and other two are green bottles (one olive oil, one wine) that my 5 and 3 yr olds helped to paint on the outside.  

I much prefer the clean, inside painted look, but since I'm also about letting the kids help with the crafts, I'll take whatever I can get! 

The other thing I have going on today is my never-ending battle with pasta. Awhile ago I brought some pasta home from the grocery store that had pasta bugs in it. 


And I didn't realize at first what it was, so I did nothing about it. Then they were everywhere. All over my pantry closet. Trying to climb out and on my counter. Ick. 

I took drastic steps. Cleaned out and sprayed down the entire pantry closet. Threw a ton of stuff away. It was probably about time. Ever since I started the Konmari Method  I've had an easier time just throwing things away.  I'm never going to make those strawberry lemonade flavored cupcakes, never. Why did I buy those? I ended up doing some research about the pasta bugs, and the best way to kill them is to put the boxes in the freezer when you get home from the store so the cold can kill the bugs and their eggs. 

Again, ick.

So that's what I've been doing, and I'm happy to say, NO MORE BUGS!!

What a relief!

Except for tonight, when I took a box of pasta from the freezer, emptied it into the pot of boiling water, and a ton of gross little bugs started floating on the surface of the water. I panicked and threw the entire pot down the drain, which lead to my (temporarily) clogging my garbage disposal. But, thankfully, I got rid of all of it! Shudder.

Which lead me to this photo. I had a half a box of clean rotini left, but the other pasta was down the drain, literally. So I found a box of tri-color pasta and picked out all of the white pastas (red bowl) to go with the half box. My 3 kids were none the wiser. Then I made the red and green pasta for myself (and extra for lunch tomorrow).

Dinner was saved, a mess was made but our bellies are full. For that, we are thankful!

Until next time, come and hang with me on Instagram!  It's the perfect platform for a visual person like me; I love looking at all the photos!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Easy DIY: Trash Bag Spiderwebs!

Do you ever poke around on Pinterest, hoping to find that perfect craft to do? One that's not too hard, not too cheap-looking; one that will be done in the course of one afternoon without having to go to five stores to find exactly the right shade of pink or three different kinds of glitter?

Let me present to you: (drum roll please)......

Trash Bag Spiderwebs! 

They are perfect, perfect, perfect for Halloween: not to hard to make, easy to find materials (you probably have a giant box of black trash bags from Costco sitting under your sink right now), and definite decorating punch for the holiday season.

Sold? Me too.

Let's get started!

For full directions and for more info, see the source of this project: Howaboutorange.blogspot.com

Materials Needed:Large Black trash bag
Black Sharpie

Start by cutting off the four sides of the trash bag, so that you have 2 giant squares of black plastic-y material.  I found it easiest to not unfold the trash bag the whole way, but rather cut off the sides while it's still folded up (soooo much easier!).

Then you'll want to fold up the one of the squares into a giant triangle, and tape the open side together, so it doesn't slide all around.  Each bag will make 2 spiderwebs.

Using your black sharpie, make the spider web lines that you want on the triangle (like those in the picture) and then cut those pieces out, leaving something that looks like the image below.

When you unfold it, you'll have a cool giant black spiderweb that you can hang anywhere in your house to give the kids (and Grandma!) a good scare! 


Want to see the rest of our Halloween decorations take shape? Follow along on the blog via email or follow me on Instagram

Happy Decorating!

Friday, September 4, 2015


I'm off to bed here in a minute, but I just wanted to share a great craft that we did together (the girls and I) tonight that was fun and easy and didn't drive me crazy: making pom-poms!

I had actually forgotten all about the cool pom-pom makers I had bought off of Amazon a few years ago now, but they are so easy to use: just wrap, cut and tie. So simple. And the girls had fun picking out what size to make and what color yarn to use too.

Try them out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

I cannot believe our summer has gone by this fast and that it's already over. We've traveled all over the country, worn out our swimsuits and just have had so much fun!

A few days ago we went to see Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Every time the girls watch A Dolphin Tale, they get so excited and want to see Winter.  This time, I realized that the only day we had left before school started, was the next day! So I booked a hotel, bought the tickets and we headed out the next morning!

On our way!

It was super hot, but the girls really had a nice time. My 8 year old loved it the most, because she really liked listening to the workers there when they gave their talks. I thought it was very interesting too! The little girls liked looking at the animals as well as the trolley ride over to the second building, where they have a building dedicated to the movie, with set pieces, little known-facts, and a hurricane re-enactment (that honestly really scared the little girls but was just sort of wobbly and windy to me).

Winter's gel that keeps her tail on

Jolley Trolley ride to A Dolphin Tale Adventure
Hanging at the Dolphin Tale Adventure
I spy a dolphin!

Afterwards, we stopped at the grocery store to get some food, then I asked Google to bring me to the closet public beach.

Can I just say that I love Google? It took me past the busy, loud, crowded pier area of Clearwater to this awesome public park, where there was plenty of parking, no crowds, and tons of quiet beach time.

As well as an awesome sunset.

Gorgeous, right?!  It was amazing!  

And then as we were leaving, we saw fireworks being shot off. Perfect end to an awesome day.

Here's to hoping the school year is just as peaceful.

Thanks for reading!


New Recipes to try!

I tried some new recipes today and I thought I would share them with you all because they turned out pretty good!

Carrot Applesauce Muffins

 I printed this one out awhile ago and was just waiting for the right time to try it, and today was the day!

Totally yum! And only my middle daughter didn't like them ("I don't like the big carrots in there"), so it was a win in my book. There's actually only 2 of the dozen left--and I just made them this afternoon. I used matchstick carrots that I chopped up a little finer, so next time I will try actually grating the carrots as the recipe suggested. They have a nice warm cinnamon-y flavor too. Mmmm.

Click here for the recipe from 100 days of real food. 

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

I also tried making this recipe for Garlic Mashed Cauliflower from Allrecipes.com.

I thought it was pretty good (still tasted like cauliflower!) but my husband and I both liked it. I'd definitely recommend it for the more adventurous tasters in your house!

Give them a try and let me know what you think!  I'm always looking for new recipes to try, especially muffins. They are such a good grab and go treat, perfect for us since we're always on the go!

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, August 15, 2015

5th Golden Birthday Party Details!

Last weekend my middle girl, Marie, turned the big 5! Since she turned 5 on the 5th, we had a very special golden birthday party for her. For those of you that have never heard of of a golden birthday, it's when you age is the same as the day you were born. (1 on the first, 10 on the 10th, etc) Some of our friends have heard about it, but many have not! 

Isn't it funny when something that you've grown up with, just isn't common everywhere? It's a funny feeling. Makes my world feel a little bigger. 

On to the party!

Here are some party details, in case you're wanting to throw a "golden birthday" too, or just wonder what kind of food is good to serve (mine was super awesome, if I do say so myself.)

Gold spray-painted wooden 5 (picked up at JoAnn's)
fresh flowers in a vase wrapped with gold tissue paper (picked up at Target)
gold spray-painted horses (taken from our toys; we have a lot of horses!)
black paper roll with gold glitter tape (picked up at target; on the food table)
chalkboard banner with "Golden" written in chalk (from Target too)
Fringe Tissue Paper Background with homemade "Happy Birthday" Pennant Banner (I'm going to do another post about how I made this--see it below!)

2 boxes of vanilla cake mix made into cupcakes, mini cupcakes and a heart-shaped cake
My mom used to decorate wedding cakes, so we used 2 cans of store-bought frosting, gold sprinkles, and a decorating kit to make them pretty. 

We played Pin the Horn on the Unicorn and the kids had a lot of fun with it! Click the link and check it out! A cheap, easy game and it came in 2 days with my Amazon Prine; I couldn't have asked for an easier game. The kids swam in the pool for most of the party so I only did one game.  Those that didn't want to swim could play in our playroom.

Baked Ziti (see below for recipe)

Fruit Bar:
Green Grapes
Apples (bought already cut up)

Cherry Tomatoes

Potato Chips
Tortilla Chips
Cheese Dip
Spinach Dip

Water Bottles
Juice Boxes

I picked up most of the food at Sam's club, it was perfect that they already came in a big size! (and bonus: there were leftovers for days!) The 3 dips came in a 3 pack, so that was easy too. 

Plates were gold-striped plates mixed with regular white plates.
Napkins were solid gold mixed in with plain white. 
I purchased the napkins all at Target, and the plain white ones were so much cheaper than the pretty gold ones, so I just mixed them together! 
I put a bunch of plastic forks in a blue Mason jar that I topped with some of the gold glitter ribbon. I picked up the jar at an antique store while shopping in Minnesota this summer, it's a joy sparker for me!

Every party that we have, I always wonder about what food to serve. The one dish that has always been a clear winner is the Baked Ziti.  I found the recipe a few years ago on allrecipes.com, and it's been our favorite since then!  Here's the recipe:

Baked Ziti II
Recipe By:BUCHKO, found on Allrecipes.com, modified slightly
  • 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
  • 32 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Trust me, it's amazing! And it tastes even better the next day. 

Gift Bags:
I wrapped a bunch of candy in gold tulle circles (I got mine at JoAnn's) and put them in a basket that I spray-painted gold. Easy! 

Party time! See the cute fringe background? 
After opening all the presents, she immediately started coloring this backpack. Love her!
So, the party turned out awesome! We had a bunch of kids and parents swimming and then we had cake and presents and then everyone left! Seriously, everyone cleared out and the girls had the rest of the afternoon to play with all the presents. After a couple hours of serious playtime, and some clean-up, we all went to the movies to see Shaun the Sheep. It was so funny! If it's playing nearby, definitely go see it! We all enjoyed it, even my mom who was visiting.

It was a great day!