straw tote upcycle @ Somewhat Simple

upcycled-straw-bag

Hey everyone.  I am over at Somewhat Simple today, sharing a quick tutorial for upcycling a simple straw tote.  I picked one up at Target a couple weeks back, right before baby girl arrived.  Believe it or not, in between contractions that seemingly lasted for days, I added a little paint here, a little paint there, until I got a fabulous black, white, and gold tote.  We all know how much I love that combo.

Straw-Tote-Upcycle

Stop over, check it out, and say hello!
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introducing…

baby-girl

I am a week late…more than a week…but today I am finally sharing the big news.  Making the big official announcement.

Last week, July 16 at 8:42 am, Baby Number Three made her way into the World.

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That’s right, it’s a GIRL!

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Her name is Áine Katherine and she is pure angel.

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And we are all in love…can you tell?  Big Brother and Big Sister are totally smitten.  They shower her with gentle caresses on the head, kisses, and soothing words.  They tell her she is beautiful and when she cries they tell her, “It’s okay.”  I am amazed at how quickly and how much my first and second born have grown up since Áine’s arrival.  I am in awe that we all started in this same spot.  I am once again overwhelmed by the unconditional love a Mommy  and Daddy can feel, not to mention that same love from a sibling, grandparent, auntie, or uncle.

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The past week has been full of sleepless nights, postpartum recovery, the occasional visitor, and little milestones.  We are doing well at the Circus Berry household, albeit adjusting to life with a newborn.  Mommy is on the road to pre-pregnancy functioning, and Áine is thriving.  All is right with the World and life is good.

Thanks for hanging in there while I adjust to our new life.  Circus Berry will be back in full action soon.  In the meantime, have a great weekend and enjoy those summer days!

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sour cherry & almond coffee cake muffins

So, for the last two weeks we have had a hearty stock of cherries in our fridge.  Sour ones to be exact.  If I was in a different state (i.e. not pregnant) I would be concocting all sorts of delectable drinks with the little tarts, but that is not the case right now.  That being the case, I have replaced the cherry cocktail with a cherry treat.

Sour-Cherry-&-Almond-Coffee-Cake-Muffins

As I side note, let me just say that I can hardly believe it is cherry season already, but when I showed up to my CSA last week to pick up our fruits and veggies, there they were!  Maybe it is me, but I tend to measure the passage of summer in two ways…the landmark dates that make up summer (Last day of School, Independence Day, Birthdays, and Labor Day) and seasonal produce.  Before we know it I will be swimming in plums…which is a different series of posts entirely.

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With our first batch of cherries, I made a Sour Cherry & Almond Coffee Cake, adapted from Martha Stewart.  It was delicious but wasn’t screaming out almond or cherry to me, which was what I really wanted.  With our second batch of cherries, I decided to give it another go, making a few more alterations and serving it up muffin style.  Jackpot.

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The result is exactly what I was going for.  A little more cherry, a little more almond flavor, and you have a most perfect treat to go with your morning coffee.

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Sour Cherry & Almond Coffee Cake Muffins

makes 12-15
adapted from Martha Stewart

Topping:
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped, raw almonds
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 cups fresh sour cherries, pitted

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a muffin tin with paper cups and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Make the topping by stirring together the butter, flour, almonds, sugars, salt, and cinnamon with a fork.  Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl using a mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar together until pale and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract.  Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat until just combined.  Using a #20 fisher (3 Tablespoons), scoop batter into muffin cups.  Top each cup with 4-5 cherries and sprinkle with the topping.

Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool before enjoying.

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If you don’t have fresh sour cherries, you could use frozen.  Either way, whip up a batch and invite someone over to indulge in coffee and cake with you on the back porch.  Ahhhh, summer.

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life in general: 07/14/14

belly

Good morning and Happy Monday. I have clearly been absent from posting and sharing regularly for far too long. Much has happened and continues to happen on the home front here and what I have found is that the longer I stay away, the harder it is to bounce back.  So, here I am today to just give an update, let my readers know I am still here, and to give a glimpse into some of the great things I can’t wait to share.

I apologize in advance for the word-heavy post.

As I wrote before, I accepted a Speech-Language Pathologist position back in April–short term and part-time–that extended to just a couple of weeks ago.  It was a great opportunity to get back into it, to see how much I really missed it, and to give myself a better idea of what I might really want to do with that professional background.  As it turns out, I did miss my SLP work…at first.  Then I missed my blogging life, my creative brain, and being available physically, mentally, and emotionally more for my family.  Trying to do all three (SLP work, blogging, and family) was oh-so exhausting.  I constantly felt like I was spread too thinly and couldn’t get to anything I actually wanted to do.  As Mr. CB put it, I was “neither settler nor explorer”.  Oh, how the tables have turned!  Whereas I was sobbing in my basement over my therapy materials and books several months ago, I am now ready to pack them neatly away for the time being.  I suppose that is the difference between being ready to do something willingly and being forced into it against your wishes.

Since being done with that work at the end of June, I have spent the time nesting, resting, and everything in between!  I have been getting to some of the home to-dos that fell to the wayside, trying to get better at preparing meals (vs the takeout that we relied on for months), getting ready for baby in some ways, and working on posting a little here and there.  You may have seen some of my posts where I contribute monthly, like these:

A-Dozen-Tissue-Paper-Party-DIYs

A Dozen Tissue Paper Party DIYs @ Organize & Decorate Everything

Simple-Abstract-Art-DIY  Simple Abstract Art DIY @ Somewhat Simple

T-Shirt-Beach-Bag-DIY

T-Shirt Bag DIY @ Or So She Says

On the home front I went through a slump of trying to get my head on straight and get my mojo back.  It seems like the anticipation of baby number three coming has stopped me dead in my tracks from getting anything else done.  It could be any day now and that waiting is brutal!  (I am just over 38 weeks and having pretty uncomfortable contractions, sporadically, every day).  And this pregnancy-brain-thing is no joke!  Motivation, inspiration, and general thinking skills were on the fritz for a couple of weeks.  No matter what I thought of doing, I felt like I just couldn’t follow through.  Or remember.  And let’s not forget the last trimester exhaustion.  If I wasn’t going stir crazy trying to figure out what to do, I was struggling just to keep my eyes open and my body moving.  Sure, I am still tired (especially since sleep at night has become more of a challenge–thank you very much hip back and heartburn pain), but full-fledged nesting has kicked in and I have found a little bit of energy to get through my ‘lists’.  What a relief!

muffins

It all came to a head last week.  I snapped out of my stupor, into action, and went from zero-to-sixty in one afternoon, preparing a number of posts to share this week and next…some treats, some crafts, some decor, and some party ideas.  It was a tiring but therapeutic, happy, and fulfilling day.  And it was a gentle reminder of where I want to be right now.  So, what do I have to share?  Some great uses for seasonal fruit (enter: cherries!), a fun and easy straw bag upcycle, and some can’t-go-wrong pieces of DIY abstract art.

In the upcoming weeks, I will also be sharing some of the parties I put together, including my son’s Contstruction-themed third birthday and my sister’s Vintage-lace-style bridal shower.  These events turned out beautifully and I can’t wait to share the details!

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And maybe, just maybe, I can share the announcement that little baby K has arrived, whether I am carrying a boy or a girl, and the big name reveal sooner than later!

belly

See you this week!

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12 Fabulous Photo Displays @ Organize & Decorate Everything

12-Fabulous-Photo-Displays

It’s the second Thursday, which means that I am visiting over at Organize & Decorate Everything today, sharing some inspiration for restyling and rethinking the photo collage for your upcoming summer celebrations.

12-Fabulous-Photo-Displays

Weddings, showers, milestone birthdays, and of course graduations, are a great reason to show of your loved one(s) through the years. Head over and check out some Fabulous Photo Displays that are being featured. You will absolutely love some of these ideas…I know my brain is swimming with Photo DIYs already!

Have a great weekend!

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glitter star cake topper @ Or So She Says

Star-Cake-Topper-DIY

Hey everyone.  Happy Tuesday and Happy June.  I can’t believe we are just about half way done with 2014 already!  Better than that, we are about 8 weeks away from Baby K’s arrival.  I am still in the midst of a crazy balancing act here at Circus Berry, which explains my long absences.  GOD, I miss my humble blog life.  Soon, though, I will be back on track and sharing all kinds of goodies.

In the meantime, stop over to Or So She Says today to see a simple Glitter Star Cake Topper I made to help celebrate Little Miss Moira’s big dance recital performance this past weekend. This easy DIY would be perfect for topping your Independence Day treats…just swap out the silver for some patriotic red, white, and blue!

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Such an easy way to dress up your dessert.  Enjoy!

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toffee pecan banana bars

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Do you have some bananas on your counter, just waiting to be used?  We almost always have an overstock of bananas…they are my son’s favorite food.  But sometimes there is the occasional one or two that sit for a couple of extra days.  Then what?  Banana treats of course.  Now, usually mine sit and sit and sit until I am forced to just freeze them before they go totally bad.  And there is that rare occasion that I have to toss them (*gasp*) because I can’t get around to any banana-baked goodies.  I feel like I am sinning every time one goes in the trash.

Not this time.  I took those over-ripe bananas and whipped together a quick and yummy treat.  This isn’t your traditional banana bread, but is equally as good.  This recipe actually is an altered version of the Banana Bars recipe in my 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book, under the “Bland Diets” section.  So funny…this bar in anything but bland, especially with some toffee pieces and chopped walnuts tossed in there.

Toffee-Pecan-Banana-Barseasy-banana-bars

I am sure any type of nut, or even some chocolate chips, would make this bar just as fabulous.  It makes a great treat, a quick filler between meals, or I have even had some for breakfast with my coffee.  Yum.

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Toffee Pecan Banana Bars

1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4-1/2 cup toffee bits (depending on how sweet you want it)

Heat oven to 350° F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Beat together shortening, sugars, eggs, bananas, and vanilla until mixed thoroughly. Sift flours, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.  Mix dry ingredients into banana mixture until just combined. Stir in nuts and toffee. Spread into your prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bars are set and light golden brown. Allow to cool before removing from pan and cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container.

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I had a hard time only eating one of these bars at a time.  They are the perfect combo of home-y, vintage-y, and sweet.  Enjoy!

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embroidered photo {diy}

Embroidered-Photos

I have to say it right now…this project has been on my to-do list for over a year…ever since I saw this awesome Stitched Photo Art Project on A Beautiful Mess.  As soon as I saw it I knew  I wanted something so fabulous and handmade on my walls too!  I even went so far to print the pictures I wanted to stitch.  Then there it sat for a year.

I finally finished it!  Now, I don’t consider myself the embroidering type.  I love the look of it, the possibilities, and the genuinely handmade, vintage-y feel of it but I feel like I just don’t know what I am doing well enough to conquer a real embroidery project.  This, I feel, is manageable.

embroidered-photo

I printed a simple black and white photo of some flowers I had in the house.  Then stitched here, and there, until I got the look I was hoping for.  Started with blue, added some pink, and ended up really wanting some purple in there too to match my violets.  Pretty basic, right!?!?

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I do have another print all set for stitching too…I am just not sure how I am going to work it yet because it is in color.  Hmmm…

Embroidered-Photos

I love my new handmade art though.  This is such a fun twist on using photography in home decor!  What would you stitch?

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teacher appreciation treat boxes

treats-for-teacher

This week has been teacher appreciation week at the kids’ daycare.  Considering all of the wonderful opportunities and learning that happens while they are there, I could hardly let the week pass without paying some thanks to the wonderful women who teach and take care of my babies during the day.  Last year the teachers got some chocolates with special messages telling them what makes them so special.  The gifts were such a hit, I thought of doing something similar this year…chocolates and special messages.  Moira was concerned that one of her teachers might be allergic to chocolate.  Lucky for them, they are not!

teacher-appreciation-treat-boxes

This little project came together pretty easily with some scrap paper crafting supplies and simple fry boxes.  They could definitely make a good gift for any time of the year…just fill with your chosen candy, jot some personal messages on the flags, and stuff with a gift card.

treats-for-teacher

For this project, you’ll need:

  • fry boxes
  • pencils
  • scrapbook paper
  • embellishments and findings (letters, rhinestones, clips, cork, stickers, eft.)
  • stamps & ink
  • scissors
  • glue
  • chocolates & a gift card

Make-some-teacher-appreciation-treat-boxes

Cut your scrapbook paper into banner shapes to wrap around your pencils.  Stamp, layer, and/or embellish with some glam as you see fit.  Glue them on.

Put a letter sticker on each fry box.

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Write some little messages of thanks on your banners/flags.  Don’t forget to mention who it is from.

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Fill with goodies and stick those pencils in.

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Be ever so thankful for the hard work your teachers do–I know we are!

Here is another teacher appreciation gift I did a couple of years back…

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Teacher Appreciation Post-It Notes 

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cinco de mayo mini piñatas

mini-pinatas-with-candy

Are you gearing up to have some Cinco de Mayo fun on Monday?  Even the classrooms at my kids’ daycare are getting ready to celebrate with a Mexican themed feast.  If you are having a big fiesta and are looking for ideas, or even looking for a fun little craft to commemorate the day, check out these mini piñatas!

cinco-de-mayo-mini-pinatascolorful-mini-pinatas

I made these for the weeknight, Cinco de Mayo fiesta I hosted a couple of weeks ago.  You can check out the details of the shindig on the post at Somewhat Simple that I shared earlier this week.

This might be a fun favor for a classroom, or even just a fun Mexican-themed craft to do with the kids.

You’ll need:

  • water balloons
  • paper mâché mixture (flour and water until a glue-like consistency)
  • torn bits of newspaper
  • colored tissue paper
  • Elmer’s glue
  • candy or little prizes

Blow up the balloons just to the size of a tennis ball…maybe even smaller if you’d like.

balloons

Working one piece of paper at a time, dip the paper in the paper mâché mix and shape around the balloon until all but the area around the tie is covered.  Set on a baking sheet to dry.

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Once the shells are dried, pop the balloon.  Wrap strips of fringed tissue paper around the paper mâché shell, glueing with your Elmer’s, until you reach the opening at the top.

pinata-empty

Fill the shell with your treats.  Cover the hole with more tissue paper.  Then just allow the whole thing to dry.

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There you have a fun and festive mini piñata to celebrate the day with.

Enjoy!

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Linking it Up:
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