Saturday, March 31, 2012

Marbleized Hard Boiled Eggs

While looking for something semi-crafty today I started looking through one of my Martha Craft books and found a fun idea for dying easter eggs. We are planning on having some friends over for Easter Brunch and I thought these eggs could be decorative as well as edible. Dying easter eggs reminds me of growing up, sitting at the kitchen counter making a mess, and having a blast while doing it. This project turned out to be quick, easy and not as messy as I remembered!

Sadly, I have to admit that I had never made hard boiled eggs before, so I had to educate myself with an online tutorial. Once your eggs are hard boiled you are ready to start coloring them.  To dye eggs you use 1 Tsp of Vinegar, 1 cup of hot water and 10-20 drops of food coloring. If you want them to be a lighter color you leave them in this mixture for 1-3 minutes and for darker, up to 10 minutes.

I decided not to simply dye my eggs but to marbleize them after the original dye job. In a wide, shallow bowl mix 1 tsp of vinegar, 1 cup of water and 20 drops of a different color or shade. Mixture should be 1/2 inch deep. Next add one 1 tsp of olive oil and spin it around in a circular fashion with a fork. Once there is a good swirl, place a dyed egg in the mixture and roll it around the bowl to pick up oils streaks. Remove the egg and gently pat itwith paper towel and let dry.

I love how mine turned out, but there are a couple of things I learned from this first batch. First, I thought I had normal food coloring at home, but apparently I only had neon colors. Ha! Second, I left them in the dye too long with the original dye job, making them darker than I had intended. This proved difficult to marbleize some of the darker eggs. Lessons learned!

Book: Martha Stewart's handmade Holiday Crafts

Friday, March 30, 2012

Monogram Fun

I wanted to find a fun piece of art for Hattie's room that was both decorative and that incorporated her name into the piece. I found some great options on Etsy, but they were all $50+ without a frame, so I decided to make one myself. Her room is a lavender color and she has an adorable rug with some butterflies, so I decided to go with a butterfly theme.
I headed to Michaels and went straight to the Martha Stewart collection to look at her paper stamps. They had 2 butterfly options, and I decided to go with the Monarch. I used coupons and purchased the stamp along with some card stock (in varying shades of purple), craft glue and an 11x14 white, pre-matted frame, all for under $20. The instructions for making the project are as follows
  • Remove the mat from the frame and trace around the inside of the mat, onto your background piece of card stock. This will be the space you have to work with in centering your letter or object.
  • Take a pencil and draw the desired letter within the boundary you just created. You can use a stencil, or find a template online.
  • Take your paper punch and start to punch out your design in the colors you selected.

  • Start gluing! I started at the top of my "H" and put a line of glue going all of the way down. The glue dries clear, so no need to worry about only putting glue under the paper cutouts.
  • Place shapes on glue line - I folded my butterflies slightly, so they would have a 3D appearance.

  • Let the glue dry for at least 2 hours
  • Place the card stock in the frame, and hang the frame. 

How easy is that?!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Banana Bread

Ever since I can remember my family has been baking from one of the best cook books known - the St. John's cookbook, given to us by Grandma and Grandpa Gerner. It is hard to pick which recipe from the book is my favorite, but I have to admit my "go to" recipe is the Banana bread, so I thought it was only fitting for my first post. The St. John's cook book, which is actually titled "Our Favorite Recipes" is a collection of recipes submitted by the ladies of St. John's church in West Bend, WI where both of my grandparents and parents are from. The original copyright was in 1949 and I was lucky enough to receive my copy for Christmas in 2006. I have been using this cookbook ever since started baking.

Over the years I have used this banana bread recipe, occasionally trying new recipes to confirm that this was in fact the best, which it is. I continually tweak it, adding new things, trying to make it just perfect and I think I've finally got it! I did attempt to make it a little bit healthier by substituting some of the butter with greek yogurt, so I will also post the original recipe at the end, but I promise it tastes the same! You be the judge. Now, I have to admit, i did inherit the gene from my mother that I don't always measure everything... so beware!

Side note: When I bake there a couple of "rules" I always try to follow. For instance butter, eggs and milk should always be at room temperature unless specified otherwise. But of course I awalys forget to take them out of the refrigerator. One quick tip I learned with eggs if I forget, is to put them in warm water for 15 minutes to bring them to room temperature. For more quick baking tips visit:

2 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup sugar
2 eggs
6 Tablespoons Non-fat plain greek yogurt
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
3 bananas
1 cup of nuts or Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides in between. Next add greek yogurt and vanilla. In a separate bowl sift baking soda, powder, salt, cinnamon and flour and add to mixture. Next add bananas and chocolate chips. Pour batter into bread pan and sprinkle sanding sugar on top!


Original recipe:
1/3 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 3 Tbsp sour milk, 1 tsp. soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups flour, 3 bananas and 1 cup nuts.

First blog post - DIY Tiling Project

Hello to our family and friends!
Bridget and I wanted to start chronicling all of our projects that we have been working on, so we would have a database of ideas, recipes and fond memories to reference in the years to come.
I am going to start off the blog with a DIY tiling project that we just finished.
Dan and I finally decided to ditch our grandparent's hand-me-down furniture that Walter had torn holes in, and give our living room a new look. The only down side to this make-over is that we will no longer be able to use it as our second garage. We will have to start parking our strollers (yes, we have multiple strollers in our living room) outside. 

We decided that we wanted our fireplace to be the focal point of the new and improved living room, but once we gave our never used fireplace a second look, we realized that we needed to change our design plan or update the fireplace. The fireplace functions just fine, however cosmetically, it needed some help. The tiles on the floor in front of the fireplace were cracked and the brick fireplace surround looked outdated and dirty.

With a newborn baby, I was up frequently during the night, with plenty of time to research how I wanted to transform the surround (surprisingly enough, the fireplace surround is the portion of the fireplace that surrounds the opening... I did not know this).  I decided that tile would be the best option, so I googled local tile stores and came across, you guessed  it, The Tile Shop .  
I went in the next day and talked to one of the salesmen and explained my project idea. He asked what kind of tile I wanted and I had no idea. I decided to browse and I came across this fun ceramic tile  "diamond crackle". I never told Dan the name, because that probably would have killed the project right then and there. I brought some home, along with some travertine tile for the floor, to see if we liked it. 

Dan gave me the go-ahead for the Diamond Crackle, but we decided to go with a marble for the floor tile.
After determining how much tile I would  need to complete the project, I went back to the Tile Store and left with a car load of supplies and some advice on how to get started.
Some advice that I thought would be worth mentioning is as follows;
  1. There are different types of thinset for hanging tile on walls/fireplace surrounds vs. floor tile. There are also different size trowels for applying the thinset. You should have a smaller trowel for vertical application.
  2. There are many different types/colors of grout, so find one that compliments your tile.
  3. Some smaller tile comes on a mesh backing (usually in 1 sq foot pieces), so instead of putting every little tile on individually, you can apply it in sq foot pieces.
  4. Some tile stores will cut tile for you for a minimal charge, so it doesn't hurt to ask. But beware, they are not always the most careful cutters. The Tile Shop also holds free classes/sessions on the weekends to get you started on a project.
I got all of my other instructions/info from watching various you tube videos on how to install tile and I thought this link was pretty helpful as a reference guide.,,20243084,00.html .

We followed the tutorial the best we could, but here were our deviations;
  • We did not remove our mantle, and it worked out fine. We just covered the affected areas with painters tape, so that we would not have thinset all over our white mantle
  • I did not make a cardboard cutout of the fireplace, instead, I just put painters tape on the floor with the dimensions of the surround and laid out the tile that way. 
  • When using the wet saw to cut the tile (Thanks Dad for the help!), it helps to put a piece of tape over the area  you are cutting to prevent chipping/breaking.
  • We did use the support board for the top portion of the surround (and let it dry overnight before removing it), however we did not use it at the bottom of the legs.
  • Thinset should be mixed to a peanut butter consistency. Let the thinset sit for 3 days before you start to grout. Mix the thinset with a paddle attachment for a drill. Dan did this part, as it was a little hard to hold on to!
  • When mixing grout, mix to a toothpaste consistency and then let it sit for 10 minutes, mix again and then apply it.
  • When trying to remove the grout haze, it may help to use a dry cloth (after wiping with a sponge) on small ceramic tiles. It is pretty time consuming but when it is done it looks great! Thanks Dan for helping!!!!!
  • Grout fixes everything. We made a few mistakes when applying the tile, but after we applied the grout the mistakes were not noticeable - yay!

We were able to complete the project in a week (working around nap times, drying time etc). It probably took 10-12 working hours and the cost was under $500. Definitely worth the upgrade.  We are loving our new Fireplace!  Too bad we do not have any furniture to sit on and enjoy it :)