Monday, June 27, 2011

The BEST Banana Bread

In the summertime I generally don't do much baking. It is too hot to crank up the oven and have more heat in the house. There are rare exceptions though, like when you have a few ripe bananas, and you are going out of town for the weekend. That is where my favorite banana bread recipe comes in. I got this recipe from my friend Janey, I knew I would love it when I read that it has sour cream in it. Sour cream is one of my favorite condiments, dressings, mixed with salsa, oh how I love it! I think it is what makes the bread so moist.

Banana Bread

1 & 2/3 Cup all purpose flour
1 TSP baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
2 eggs
1/3 Cup oil
3 & 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 TBSP creme fraiche or sour cream
1 TSP vanilla extract

Set the oven to 350, line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. Beat the sugar and the eggs together with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (I cheat and let my kitchen aid mixer do the work.) Drizzle in the oil. Add bananas, cream, and vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients and add desired nuts. (This is optional, my husband doesn't like nuts, so I skip it.) Pour into lined loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. (It usually takes me an hour.)


Monday, June 20, 2011

A few of my favorite things....

I have totally been slacking with blogging lately. I have been spending lots of time at swimming lessons and haven't done the other things on my to do. I had great intentions of sharing some camping tips/ recipes with you today, then I spent Saturday afternoon in the ER when my baby broke his nose. :( One of my worst days ever!! So, instead you get a few of my favorite things, summer edition.

After our wardrobe makeover, our large dresser was moved into my son's room. That meant I have LOTS more changing space and could fit more than just the wipes on top of the dresser. I still organized the top drawers this way, but I am able to keep a few extra things on top of the dresser. To keep it cute and convenient I picked up this cute little tray from IKEA for $3.99. I put the diaper rash cream, lotion, nasal spray, and a few other small items on it and I love it!
Before I share these next few things, I think I need to have a bit of a preface. Yes, I am somewhat of a hippie. You may already know that by my cleaning solutions and nutrition. There is a reason behind my madness. When my sister, mother of 4, was 34 years old, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She battled cancer for 21 months, then passed away, leaving a husband and 4 little ones behind. After she died my Mother (as any Mother would I think), racked her brain to think if something she had done, worn, eaten while pregnant/nursing, could have possibly given my sister cancer. I don't believe anything my Mother did caused my sister's cancer, but ever since our family has been a bit more cautious of what we put in/on our bodies. I don't mean to bum anyone out with that story, I just wanted to share with you why I make the choices I do.

So, on a happier note, for the summer sun, we have been using our Jason's Natural Cosmetics Earth's Best Organic sunscreen. WHOA, was that a mouthful! It is free from chemicals and is extra mild for my son's tender skin. You may have heard lately there is a lot of debate going on with the unregulated chemicals that are put in sunscreen, so this is a good choice for me. It is pretty pricey though, I think around $12 a bottle, but there are certain things I am willing to spend money on and this is one. I guess technically I didn't spend any money, we traded in textbooks to Amazon and used our credit to buy the sunscreen.
Next up for summer fun, you have to keep the pesky bugs away! West Nile can be scary stuff, so we choose Burt's Bee's Herbal Insect Repellent. It is a mixture of bug fighting oils and is DEET free. We had it last year and have used it a couple times this year and we haven't had any problems with bug bites. It is again on the pricey side, $8, I bought it last year at Whole Foods. We can save money on inexpensive crafts and spend money on the good stuff like this.
These are a few of my favorite Summer time things, what are yours?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Saving Money on Craft Supplies: Featuring Sally of EatBreatheBlog

We are excited to have Sally share some tips on saving money on craft supplies...

Save Money on Craft Supplies

All the inspiration here at A Lil Bird got me thinking about ways to find discounts on craft supplies. I tend to stockpile supplies for later. When I want to work on something, I like to pull supplies from my shelves instead of shopping as needed, because I love to shop online. And that means waiting on my things to be shipped. I've also found that sometimes bargains online are better than they are in-store. But not always. So no matter which way of shopping you prefer, I've put together some tips for saving money on your online and offline craft supply shopping:

Search Google for Bargains

A simple search on Google for inexpensive craft supplies is a good way to begin. This will call up sites that offer various sorts of discounts and sales. The internet is a great place to find the best deals because it is easy to compare a wide variety of different providers on the web. Note whether or not the online store is cheaper than the physical store. Don't forget to include the price of shipping in your calculations. I've found that some retailers are including the cost of shipping in the unit price.

Coupon Sites

You can search the internet not only for sites with inexpensive items but for coupons. You can collect coupons on the types of craft items you need and then use them all at once when you shop for craft supplies. is a site that offers coupons on all kinds of items. You can visit this site and search for coupons of all types. This website offers online coupon codes, printable coupons, and even grocery coupons. Valpak has online coupons available as well.


Always pay close attention to shipping cost. Choose companies that offer fast shipping for a decent price or even free with a purchase. The shipping cost should always be factored into the price comparisons you do for online art and craft items. You may be able to save money on domestic or worldwide shipping if you are willing to settle for slow rather than fast shipping. Air freight is often expensive and adds to shipping cost. Different shipping companies have different rates, and online art and craft supply providers may use different shipping companies and even have special shipping service agreement with them in order to offer much reduced pricing.

Craft Stores with Donated Supplies

There are certain art and craft stores that deal with donated supplies. These are often offered at extremely low prices. Though it is harder to select specific art and craft brands from these stores, they can be a great way to save money. The supplies are often good even though they represent a cross section of many different types of craft items.

Thanks for sharing your tips Sally! Don't forget to check out her blog, EatBreatheBlog. Lots of great information on health, wellness, and life.

Would you like to do a guest post on A lil bird? We would love to have you feature a project, your blog, or anything that strikes your fancy. Email us at alilbird3 (at) gmail (dot) com, we look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One Dollar Wednesday...Crazy Hair Day!

It's been a really busy summer, but we love it that way. We've been spending lots of time at the pool, library, and inside. We hit 107 degrees yesterday, and it's supposed to be 108 today. Love those desert temps!

I did this little project before the kids got out of school, so it's been sitting on my SD card for awhile. My kids had a CRAZY HAIR DAY right at the end of the school year. In years past we do a crazy braid or something, but I had other ideas this year.

We started by spraying down my girly's hair really good.

Then we got to work, parting it off...

more parting, and fun colors...

I used my "CRAZY STICKS" or Pipe Cleaners, that I picked up for just $1.00,
and proceeded to wrap them around each section that we parted off.

This is what we ended up with. What do you think?

She got into the "finals" for the contest, so she was a happy girl.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Golden Invitations

We have been slacking a bit on the posts lately, I know. It is summer time though and that means lots of fun in the sun with our kiddos! Posts might be a little thin this summer, but I think that is just the way summer goes. I am in party planning mode again, these days it seems I am always in party mode. My amazing parents are celebrating their golden anniversary this August, 50 years, how amazing is that? We are throwing a small party (per my Mother's request) at a church in Southern Utah. It should be fun, we are going to get a family photo taken, which seems to not happen very often anymore with everyone so spread out. Due to financial constraints I am not going as all out as I want to, but I am still trying to make it nice on a small budget. I think that should be my tag line for parties, LOL. I made some simple invitations using Photoshop Elements and I think they turned out nice. I had them printed out at Costco, they ended up being super cheap, I think I spent about $8.

Of course this copy doesn't have the real address, sorry if you wanted to party crash! :) Aren't my parents so cute? I love them so much and can't wait to celebrate their special anniversary!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Activity List

The weather may not think so, but I do, Summer is here! I have been working on invitations for my parents 50th wedding anniversary in August, and that is about all I have accomplished this week. I came across this fabulous list while pinning, and had to share it with you all. It is from Counting On Me. It is a great list I hope to do lots of these activities this summer. Enjoy and happy weekend!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Healthy Homemade Popsicles

Yesterday it FINALLY felt like Summer, pretty much we just skipped Spring all together and went straight to Summer. It was 87 degrees, it hasn't been 87 degrees, since October 3, 2010, yeah people that is 8 months. Usually in the Spring we get some nice 70 degree days, not this year, lots of rain, and the temperature pretty much hung out in the 60's. WHEW, enough of that rant, the real reason I am telling you all of this is because Summer time brings a whole new batch of fun recipes! I have been wanting to try this one for awhile, the 87 degree day finally made me get around to it! I picked up some Popsicle molds from IKEA for $1.49, they go fast at my store, I was only able to get one set, I will have to scope them out early next year to get another set.

I found this yummy recipe in Wholesome Meals for Babies and Toddlers, it said it serves 4, but I am not sure how they are calculating that. It made about 12 Popsicles.

Strawberry Yogurt Pops

2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
generous 1 1/4 cups thick plain yogurt
3 TBSP runny honey
a few drops of vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in the blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds and freeze until solid.

This recipe is super simple, here are my notes. First, since it is a little early on strawberry season, mine were a tiny bit tart, we like sour stuff around my house, so we were fine with it, but if you want them a little sweeter, you may want to wait until further into the season. Next, because we like things more on the sour side, I chose no sugar added plain Greek yogurt. I try to use Greek in any recipe that calls for yogurt because it is so much healthier. It is tart though, so to get members of my family to eat it plain I have to mix in fruit or grams. Lastly, I used local honey. Local honey is supposed to help combat allergies, and this house is full of allergies. I don't think you can get more local than my honey, it is from my sister in law's bees. I froze them over night, so I may or may not have had one this morning for breakfast, but they are healthy, so I don't feel so bad. :) If you have a hard time getting them out of the molds, just run them under cold water for about 5 seconds, they came right out.

In the recipes' notes it says you can use any fresh fruit you have in season. I am excited to try lots, blackberries, peaches, raspberries, I can't wait for the Farmer's Market to start on Saturday!! If you don't have molds, you can also just whip this up as a smoothie, it is quite runny though, so in that case, you may want to add more yogurt.

Do you have any fabulous Summer recipes? Please share!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wardrobe Makeover

I will admit, I have been a lazy blogger this past week. I worked most of the holiday weekend, but I had Monday off, and so did my wonderful husband, it was nice to spend some quality time together. Instead of blogging, I was pinning all weekend. Are you on Pinterest yet? It is super addicting, and has definitely helped clean up all my book marks. If you pin, leave me a comment so I can follow you!

Moving on, remember how I mentioned I had a fabulous IKEA trip a few weeks ago? I have to share the project my husband did, he has some serious talent. I am lucky I married a carpenter, and that he enjoys doing it as a hobby. While at IKEA I came across this beauty....
The DOMBAS (that name makes me giggle) wardrobe, for only $49.99! We have the tiniest closets ever in our small condo, but our bedrooms are large enough to handle this guy no problem. I knew he would totally help us have more space, but the only problem is, he wasn't my style. The brown just wasn't working for me. That is where my fabulous husband came to the rescue. We currently have the HEMNES bed frame in our bedroom, so we wanted the wardrobe to match. If you look close at the picture you will notice the wood of the HEMNES has knots in it.
Here we go, ready to give this wardrobe a makeover. Here are the panels, still not loving the brown.
Using semi-gloss black spray paint, he began to coat the panels of the wardrobe.
Some inexpensive hardwood from the Home Depot, with matching knots.
After a coat of paint, they were ready to go.

We didn't get photos of this next part, OOPS, he cut the planks down into sections. To match the doors. Then he used a nail gun to attach them to the panels. Once everything was attached, we took it into our bedroom to assemble it where it would stay. No use assembling it and then trying to move the giant piece around. The only problem is that it sits right next to our window, so with that light, and my poor photography skills, my after photos are a bit rough. Here is a few from the side before attaching the knobs.

Here is the before.....
And the after!!!
We found some clearance knobs at IKEA that were super cute. I think it turned out amazing and it matches our bed perfectly, down to the knots in the wood! Isn't my husband fantastic?!? I cannot tell you how much more space this has given us. Before we had a large 8 drawer dresser (we moved it into the baby's room), but even then our closet was jam packed. Now we each have our own closet, and with some re arraigning of dressers, we have so much more space. Now we just need to figure out what to do with the mirror on top (I tried to crop it our of the photo, but alas, I failed).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dry Erase Menu board

Today I thought I'd feature a craft that my baby sister made. She's a newlywed, and just starting to get her little house in order. She has some great ideas, and I thought this was one of them. She originally saw the idea on make and takes.

She started with a simple black 12X12 picture frame that she picked up for just a couple bucks.

She added a pretty piece of scrapbook paper from her vast collection.

Then she just used stickers to spell out the days of the week.

Here it is all finished. Doesn't it look cute with my teapot?

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