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How To Refresh Dirty Grout

Dirty, tired grout is one of my pet peeves.  If the grout looks grungy, I feel like it ruins the whole look of the room.  I've tried lots of tips and tricks to brighten my dirty grout.  It just never quite looks as gorgeous as it did when it was brand new.  

This just looks dirty to me.  So, I was considering regrouting my whole laundry room.  It's an entry way so its a high-traffic area that is wet mopped often.  The wet mop is the problem.  It just pushes dirty water into the grout.  So, while I looking for grouting ideas, I found this baby:

It's a MUCH easier option than completely re-grouting the entire room!  It's a grout paint that's super easy to apply and withstands lots of traffic and wet mops.

It comes in a bunch of different colors so I took a guess and went with "Biscuit."  Turns out it matches my tile perfectly.  Score!


Grout Refresh (8 oz bottle was plenty for this small room)
Spray Bottle
Small Paintbrush
Paper Towels

Before applying, I cleaned the floor to make sure nothing would get stuck in the paint.  Next, I got a towel to cushion my knees, an old toothbrush, and a small kid's paintbrush for the tight spaces.   I started with the grout paint in the far corner, ending in the doorway to the kitchen.  

I used the old toothbrush to really get the paint into the grout.  After the paint was applied, I had to wait a few minutes for it to dry.  Next, worked in sections with a spray bottle of water and a paper towel.  The instructions say to spray the tile with water, let it sit for 30 seconds, and then wipe excess paint away with a paper towel.  It came off easily and looks perfect.  

Here's a before and after of the floor after I wiped the excess paint...
I'm in love!  I can't believe such it was such an easy fix to bring my floor back to GORGEOUS!

               Before:                                                         After:


Grout Refresh (8 oz bottle was plenty for this small room)
Spray Bottle
Small Paintbrush
Paper Towels

This isn't the first time paint has saved the day.  Check out my IKEA print facelift that ended up being part of my "Bathroom Brightening" project.


Lemon-Soaked Berry Cake

The pops of blueberry in this super moist cake make this the perfect treat for Spring! 

 I've made many blueberry muffins and cakes.  But...

This is the first time I've soaked the cake with lemon and 
WOW, what a difference! 

Lemon-Soaked Berry Cake

3 C Flour
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
2 C Sugar
4 Eggs
1 C Milk
2 1/2 C Blueberries

3/4 C Sugar

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter and flour a 9x12 pan.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Cream butter and 2 cups of sugar with mixer for 2-5 minutes.  Make sure it is very fluffy!  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add lemon zest.  

Mix in dry ingredients and milk in three additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Toss blueberries in a small amount of flour.  Fold into mixture.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake about 50 minutes or until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.  

Meanwhile, heat remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.

Pierce top of hot cake several times with fork.  Pour hot lemon mixture over cake.  Let cool 30 min.  



How to Make The Fluffiest Whole Wheat Pancakes

"Fluffy" and "Whole Wheat" usually don't work well together.  I went on a mission to make it happen!

These pancakes are a favorite around here.  They're so good, I usually make them every Saturday morning alongside some bacon and berries.

Since we eat these fluffy pancakes so often, I decided to make a few batches of the dry ingredients and freeze them in individual freezer bags.  When I'm ready to make the pancakes, all that's left to do is mix the wet ingredients.

I'm a big fan of eating more whole grains.  Anytime I can make good tasting food even healthier, I'm all for it.  Most of the time I can achieve the same consistency after trying a few batches.

If you're on the fence, here's some info about the ingredients:

Wheat Germ is such a healthy addition to many foods.  It's a good source of fiber, is packed with minerals, tons of B vitamins, and vitamin E (which helps remove free radicals from our body). 

It can be added to all sorts of foods for a nutritional boost.  Yogurt, ice cream topping, casseroles, PANCAKES, meat loaf, smoothies, and many baked goods.

One thing to remember when storing wheat germ - its oils can go rancid quickly so be sure to store it in the fridge or freezer.

Flaxseed, on the other hand, is a bit more popular.  This is because of its heart-healthy omega-3 content.  Flax Seeds are hard to digest.  If the seed is ground or milled, its healthy nutrients are absorbed easier. 
They're full of fiber, minerals, and B vitamins.

Ok, so here's how I make them.

Mix all dry ingredients.  Mix all wet ingredients.  Pour wet into dry and stir no more than 15 times.  Pour onto a PREHEATED pan/griddle.  Flip when they edges are dry.  Cook 1-2 more minutes and serve. 

Here they are again...I told you they're fluffy!

Oh, and please please PLEASE don't forget this little gem...

I'm not even sure there are words to express how important REAL maple syrup is to a
great pancake experience!

I cannot find grade B maple syrup in my store.  It tastes even better than grade A.
However, occasionally I buy grade B maple syrup HERE.

I can see the eyes rolling now.  "Ugh, it's so expensive!"  Yes, I agree.  However, covering my pancakes in high fructose corn syrup and imitation maple flavoring is like covering them in shampoo!

1 C Flour
1/4 C Wheat Germ
1/4 C Flaxseed
1 tsp Salt
3 Eggs (or egg whites)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 T Oil

Top sliced bananas on batter just after pouring into the pan.  Mmm, caramelized bananas!
Toast wheat germ in a dry pan before preparing pancakes for a nuttier taste.

If you're in the mood for a completely different pancake experience, you HAVE to try the Puffy German Pancake!  It's a show stopper, easier than easy to make, and tastes delicious!

Check out these other breakfast goodies:

Just a side note:
I rarely have buttermilk in my fridge so I substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a measuring cup and pouring milk to the 1 cup mark.  I let it sit for a few minutes and voila!  A great buttermilk substitute.


Gooey Caramel Cake


My little guy just had a birthday and I couldn't decide on the perfect cake UNTIL I found this little number.  It's no secret that I'm in love with caramel so naturally I made this A-MA-ZING cake.  It was so good that I had a mini grief session after watching the last slice disappear. 

It was almost too pretty to cut.  But I did and here she is again...

I wish I could take credit for this recipe but it's from Ms. Deen's website.  Apparently her son came up with this glorious concoction of butter, cream, and some toasty sugar.

I don't mess around when it comes to making caramel properly.  None of this margarine and fake sugar crap!  I also turn my nose up at popping a can of sweetened condensed milk in a slow cooker to make caramel cream.  Yuck!  Real caramel is not that hard to make.  If you take the time to do it right, you'll be rewarded with a delicious treat!

All you need is a candy thermometer (if you're going to make caramel candies).  They come in digital and glass form.

If you're a caramel lover, you NEED to make this.  Enjoy!

If you're in the mood for just caramel, here is a link to my recipe for Sea Salt Caramels.  Be careful, they're very addicting!


For the cake:
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1-cup milk
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
16 oz confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Cream butter and sugar about 10 minutes until fluffy.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until mixed.  Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour.  Divide batter equally among prepared pans.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
For the filling:
In a saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Remove cake layers from oven and invert one of the cakes onto plate. Pierce cake layer with a fork over entire surface. Spread 1/3 of filling on cake layer. Repeat the process with the second and third layer.  
For the frosting:
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer until it reaches a spreading consistency.


Homemade Chocolate Orange Lip Balm

After some time living in the south, I’ve found it can get pret-ty dry around here in the fall.
–out of no where-

If my lips get the least bit dry, they’re completely cracked within a few hours. Heavy, waxy lip balms only make my problem worse.

A few months ago, I came across a recipe for natural lip balm. It was a basic, flavorless balm to simply protect lips.  I love chocolate and orange together so I created a delicious flavor combination that works perfectly with the base recipe.

Now that it's Winter and I’m in need of some lip balm, I tried this and it turned out great. It’s not heavy at all. It smells great, tastes like dessert, and keeps my lips moist.

Here’s what I did:

I’ve been collecting cosmetic containers as they’ve been emptied. I washed them in hot, soapy water and let them air dry.  Yes, that's a contact lens container.  I always seem to have millions of them hanging around.  Hey, it works!

Wouldn’t it be great to just open your chapstick and find this?

You need some cocoa butter as the base. It’s almost rock hard at room temp so it needs to be cut with some vitamin E oil. The chocolate is for color and flavor. So, add more or less chocolate chips depending on what color you would like for your lip balm. If you want a colorless balm, you could use white chocolate instead.

Sooo, when you run out of cosmetic containers to fill, look for whatever works!

Chocolate Orange Lip Balm

4-6 T Cocoa Butter
3-10 Chocolate Chips
½ tsp Vitamin E Oil
¼ tsp Orange Extract
Glass containers or Empty Lip Balm Tubes

Melt the cocoa butter in a microwave safe container until it’s a liquid. Measure 4-6 tablespoons into a microwaveable (preferably pourable) cup. I used a pyrex measuring cup.

Add the chocolate chips and stir to melt.  You may have to microwave the mixture again for the chips to fully melt. Add vitamin E oil and orange extract. Ahhh, it smells glorious.  Stir to combine and pour mixture into lip balm container(s).

Place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to firm.
I got a little crafty with this old chapstick container. If you do this, make sure to put the container in the freezer for a few minutes before you fill it with hot, melty lip balm. Otherwise, it will leak a little until it firms.

This would make a great gift – although you may want to put it in an UNUSED container if you’re giving this away.

Here are some pretty glass containers or empty lip balm tubes I found that would be perfect for making lots of homemade lip balm as gifts.

Best of all, there are NO parabens or other hard-to-pronounce chemicals!

Follow along my all-natural journey:

Craving more chocolate?  Try some of these delicious treats:

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