Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

Have you ever run into somebody that you were super close to but haven’t seen in a long while? At first the conversation can be a bit awkward and clunky but then you fall back into a natural exchange that is easy and comfortable.

That’s kind of how this post has been for me… I’ve been sitting here staring at the screen for a while not sure what to say. I start typing but stop short and then start over. I’m hoping that I’ll find that natural rhythm soon…

So, it’s been pretty quiet around here, as you probably have noticed. While I have had the best intentions of posting, time constantly evaded me. In fact, I have had such a hard time carving out time for blogging that I considered just walking away. But, I still have so much I want to share. So, what can I say? Here I am.

I had promised to share my Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread last week, but I moved to a new platform and had some technical difficulties. So, it’s a week late (hopefully this isn’t a sign!) but at least it’s finally up!

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I know it’s been quiet around here, but I’ve been busy working on some changes!  Please forgive any glitches / issues over the next month. I’m hoping to launch a new and improved site with lots of great new content on January 1st!  Wish me luck!  I’m excited and terrified at the same time!
 
 
 

 

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DIY Easy Bistro Table Makeover
 
Breathing new life into old furniture couldn’t be more simple with Easy DIY Bistro Table Makeover!
 
We have two simple black bistro tables that used to live in our master bedroom as “temporary” night stands.  But, earlier this year we purchased actual night stands. So, after 7 years (you read that right) in our bedroom, the black bistro tables became homeless.  I considered selling them in a garage sale we had, but then I thought they could be useful somewhere else in our home.  So, I held onto them and they bounced around from room to room until inspiration hit.  

Bistro Table MakeoverThe windows in our living room face a bare and boring small side yard with a glorious view of a brick fence.  It’s just as lovely as I’m sure you are imagining it.  We plan on planting a couple fruit trees over there eventually, but the space could use some color regardless.  So, I decided to give one of the bistro tables a makeover so that it could live in our side yard outside our living room as… wait for it… a bistro table!  Original, I know!

The process couldn’t be easier and this makeover cost less than $20!!  Don’t you just love it?  It makes me so incredibly happy to see this bright and fun table outside the window!  I carried the colors from our living room outside so that it would be a natural extension of the room.  I am seriously smitten with it.  
 

DIY Bistro Table Makeover

Here’s how I did it:
Materials:
Bistro Table
Indoor / Outdoor Spray Paint – I used Rust-Oleum Real Orange
Craft Paper – I used solid white, teal and orange
Octagon Paper Punch
Outdoor Mod Podge
Foam Brushes
Outdoor Urethane

Process:

 

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverI started by disassembling my bistro table and covered it with 3 coats of orange spray paint.  I let the paint dry completely over a few days.

 

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverMeanwhile, I punched a ton of octagons out of my craft paper in all three colors.  And then the fun started… My Love, Lovebug and I played around with the octagons to come up with different patterns  for the table until I, I mean, we settled on one that we like best.  

 

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverNext I measured out the midpoint of the table and started gluing the paper octagons down with Outdoor Mod Podge, starting at the middle and working my way out.  The table has little holes shaped in a design on it, but my paper and glue covered them up perfectly. 

 

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverWe ended up with a flower-ish design, which is interesting because that is exactly what I had envisioned! ๐Ÿ™‚  Anyway, I started by gluing down an orange octagon right in the middle of the table, using my Outdoor Mod Podge and a foam brush. Then, I added a row of teal octagons around it, then followed with a row of white around that.  I continued with that pattern, orange, then teal, then white, laying down a little glue as I went along.

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverI continued until the table was covered.  Then, I let the Mod Podge dry completely for a couple days.

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverOnce the Mod Podge had dried and the craft paper was secured on the table,  I sealed the top of the table with 3 layers of Outdoor Mod Podge and let it dry completely. 

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverThen, I waterproofed it by putting 3 coats of clear urethane over it.  I let that dry completely and my table was done!

DIY Bistro Table MakeoverFinally, I took my table outside and admired my handiwork!  I absolutely love how it turned out!  So vibrant, colorful and the perfect pop of color to add interest to the small side yard (read: brick wall) outside our living room.  

Now, I just need to find a couple bistro chairs to go with it and my little outdoor seating area will be complete!  I’ll update the pictures once I find the chairs.  In the meantime, I am so in love!   I’m even considering doing something similar with the other bistro table we have and setting it up in the front yard or entry.  I just need to come up with a color scheme and design. Any suggestions?
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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
If you asked me to rank my favorite vegetables a month ago, Brussels sprouts wouldn’t even make the list.  I would even go so far as to say I hated them.  I thought they tasted bitter and disliked every recipe I ever tried them in, so I would avoid them at all costs.  
 
But recently, My Love made these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette and, unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid them any longer.  See, one of the many joys of being a parent is that you kind of have to practice what you preach.  I can’t tell my kids to eat their vegetables and try new things if I am not willing to do it myself.  So, I begrudgingly tried one of the Brussels sprouts while discreetly throwing dirty looks at My Love.  
 
Luckily, he didn’t see my surprise when I realized that not only did I not hate these Brussels sprouts, I actually really liked them.  I tried to play it cool and told him they were “alright” as I helped myself to several more servings of them.  But, there was no denying it.  I loved these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette!
 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

They are tender with a nice bite to them.  The brown bits give the perfect little crunch.  Plus, they are seasoned really well and the pomegranate vinaigrette adds just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to send them over the top!  Plus, they are the perfect side dish to almost any meal!

You guys!  I have been converted!!  DO. NOT. TELL. MY. LOVE!  I can’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that I have changed my opinion of Brussels sprouts because of his recipe (although his cute smug smile suggest he already knows).

If you love Brussels sprouts, or even if you don’t, give this recipe a try.  You might be surprised at how lovely Brussels sprout can be!

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Serves 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half through the stem
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  5. 4 tablespoons pomegranate vinaigrette - we use Cindy's Kitchen of Brockton oil free
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan and drizzle olive oil over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Arrange the Brussels sprouts in a single layer on the sheet pan and place them in the preheated oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes until they are fork tender and starting to brown.
  3. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a bowl and immediately drizzle with the pomegranate vinaigrette. Serve hot.
Notes
  1. Pomegranate vinaigrette can be substituted with balsamic vinegar.
The Lovebugs Blog http://www.thelovebugsblog.com/
Enjoy!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we did a fun little countdown to kindergarten the week leading up to school starting.  But, I thought I’d share it here in more detail.
 
Last year, Lovebug was leaving the daycare/preschool she had attended since she was four months old to attend Pre-K at a different school.  She didn’t know the teachers, the school or any of the students and she was a little sad and anxious about the change.  So, we decided to do a countdown to Pre-K to get her excited about her new school.  We did fun little surprises each day the week before school started, like painting her nails fun designs, putting chalk colors in her hair and taking treats to her preschool.  We just wanted her days to be a little more special so she wouldn’t be so sad.  By the time school started, she was more excited than anxious about the change.  Mission accomplished!
 
This year, Lovebug was already excited about kindergarten, but she was changing schools again so we decided to implement the countdown again, just for fun.   We planned simple, inexpensive and fun activities to surprise her each day of the week leading up to school starting.  
 
 

We started the countdown with donuts for breakfast with 7 days to go…
countdown to school ideas

 

With 6 days left, we had a sleep over and movie in mommy and daddy’s room.  It was fun for her but so very precious to me.  I loved cuddling with my sweet girl thinking about how quickly time has flown by and how my little baby would be starting kindergarten in a few short days.
Countdown to school ideas

 

5 days and counting… We surprised her with bath time fun!  I went to the dollar store and picked up 7 packs of glow sticks.  Each pack had 4 – 6 sticks in it so the tub was full of light.  She had so much fun that bath time took twice as long as normal!
Countdown to school ideas

 
With 4 days left, I took Lovebug to the Disney Store for an Alphabet Scavenger Hunt.  If she could sound out Disney characters or items starting with each letter of the alphabet, she could pick out a prize ($15 or less).  I was so impressed with how many she came up with on her own, but have to admit the end of the alphabet gave us a run for our money. Luckily, the lovely cast members at our local Disney Store helped us out and we were able to come up with all but one letter.  I still gave her a prize and the cast members did too!  She walked away with 101 Dalmatians figures and awesome Disney trading cards!  
Countdown to school ideas
* Free printable of the Disney Store Scavenger Hunt sheet is below.  ๐Ÿ™‚
 
 
3 days until the big day meant special mini ice cream cone treats for Lovebug and her friends!  Her absolute favorite!
Countdown to School Ideas
 
My Love had won tickets to the Phoenix Mercury game from work and Lovebug loves going to the women’s basketball games.  So, it was the perfect surprise for one of her last couple days before school.
Countdown to school ideas
 
 
We celebrated the last night before school with one of Lovebug’s favorite meals and ended the meal with frozen yogurt, toppings and all!
Countdown to school Ideas
 
 

We had one last surprise for Lovebug on the first day of school.  We decorated the bathroom mirror with encouraging notes using dry erase markers and filled the bathroom with helium balloons.  We just wanted to start her day off with a smile on her face.  And boy did she ever!
Countdown to School Ideas

Lovebug loves school and was already really excited about kindergarten.  But, we wanted to create some fun memories leading up to the big day.  When she thinks back on kindergarten, will she think about this countdown?  Probably not.  But, I know I will always remember it and the excitement on her face as she would ask what her surprise was for that day.  So, maybe the countdown was more for me than for her. But, either way, we had some fun and made some lovely memories.  So, it was worth it.  In fact, it was so worth it that we will likely do a countdown to school every year going forward! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here is the free printable for the Disney Store Alphabet Scavenger Hunt.  Just right click and save to your computer.  Then, open it in a word processing program, adjust the size, if necessary, and print.

 
Disney Store Alphabet Scavenger Hunt Final
I hope all your kiddos have a fantastic school year this year!
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