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June 30, 2017

Banana Nut Muffins | Homemade Banana Nut Muffin Recipe

I shared this Banana Nut Muffin Recipe 7 years ago when I had started to blog more "seriously."  I still use this recipe all of the time - nothing better than warm banana muffins with coffee in the morning, especially when you can bake them fresh every morning with this little secret...

One of my favorite shortcuts that I use almost every week, is to make a large batch of muffin batter and keep it in the fridge or freezer in a Disposable Piping Bag.  If we want fresh baked muffins, I just get the bag out of the fridge in the morning, snip off the end, squeeze the batter into muffin papers, and in 15 minutes we have warm, buttery Banana Muffins.

If you keep the batter in the freezer, just put the bag of batter in the fridge the night before and it should be perfectly thawed in the morning.

I mentioned that we've been hosting a lot of guests this summer and this is one of my favorite tricks to an easy help-yourself-breakfast.  Just another way I like to pretend that I own a bed & breakfast : )

I always keep a couple bags of Muffin batter and unbaked Scones in the freezer.

These are the Large 18" Disposable Bags (100 for $16) and hold enough batter for about 8 large muffins baked in my Brown Jumbo Cupcake Papers.  I use the Large Scoop to portion them as I put them in the bag.  I scoop = 1 muffin

A double batch of the recipe below will make about 3 bags or 24 muffins.

We've been having warm muffins a couple of times a week this summer - one of my favorite shortcuts of all time!

The original post & recipe is below :

Muffins are completely underrated.  Or should I say, homemade, really good muffins are completely underrated.  My muffin perspective had been tainted by the bad muffins I would grab at the coffee shop or the airport.  These muffins, baked weeks (or months!) ago are too sweet, too dense, too greasy and too heavy.  They made me forget how incredibly moist, buttery and delicious a fresh, baked-from-scratch muffin can be.

Treat yourself to a real treat tomorrow morning and whip up these muffins.  It won't take you more than 10 minutes to stir them together and 20 minutes to bake.  If you're really organized, you can make the batter the night before and bake them in the morning.  Your house will be brimming with the best Banana Nut aroma as it bakes - the smell is almost as good as eating the actual muffins... a great way to wake up.

I suggest making these muffins and your own "Pumpkin Spice" latte (recipe coming tomorrow!) on a Saturday morning - your house will feel cozier than the most charming coffee shop... and the muffins will be much better.

Banana Nut Muffins
better than the bakery...

New! Printable Recipes, here.

4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped

Peel the bananas.  Mash them roughly with a fork - leaving some chunky pieces for texture.  Place half of them in a KitchenAid fitted with the whisk attachment.  Set aside the other half of the bananas.

Add sugar to the KitchenAid, whip them together for 3 minutes until a frothy mixture forms.  Add butter, eggs and vanilla.  Mix together until combined.  Add flour, soda, salt, remaining bananas and nuts.  Stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Scoop the mixture into Brown Jumbo Cupcake Papers in a muffin tin with a Large Scoop.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes until baked through.  Serve with soften butter.

Products Used :

Large 18" Disposable Bags (100 for $16)
Brown Jumbo Cupcake Papers
Large Scoop

Can't you just taste them now - look at that melting butter!

I used mixed nuts, because that is what I had.  You can use any combination you like.

Mash the bananas with a fork - leaving it a little chunky for texture.

Whipped Banana Sugar mixture... yum.

See more Breakfast & Brunch Recipes, here>

June 28, 2017

Our Little Laundry Room | Creative Tips for Organizing

When we built our home, we had to make some sacrifices.  Thankfully, none of these sacrifices even come to mind anymore, so I guess we made the right choices.  One of the big ones was squeezing in a laundry room upstairs.  To make this happen, we had to forgo a large walk-in closet in our master bedroom.  Instead of a walk-in closet we have french door his and hers closets, which we love.  Win, win.

This space, at 6ft wide x 6ft deep, is small, but works very hard.  There wasn't room for a washtub or sink, but there is one across the hall that I can easily use if something needs an extra soak.  I didn't want to install upper cabinets because I thought it might close in the space and make it feel cramped.  Instead, we opted for open shelves with basket storage that peek through the glass lite doors, which makes this little nook in our upstairs hallway feel charming.

You'll notice there is not a lot of color or clutter - both probably do not surprise you.  I think the secret in this space to being clutter-free is that I don't have very much stuff, only what I need.  I also do not buy things that are brightly colored or have obnoxious packaging.  The items that are bright (like OxiClean) go in my Clear Bottles.  I only have to refill them about every 6 months, so it is not a hassle and so worth it for the clean aesthetic that I have in here.

I love the warmth that the baskets bring to what could seem like a cold utilitarian space.

I use the pegs for hanging clothes to dry, either just as they are or on hangers, if needed.  I've also thought about hanging a tote bag on the pegs to keep single socks and other items that seem to turn up in here.

The pegs also hold up the ironing board (that usually gets carried into the guest room for ironing, but will also fit in here in a pinch).

If I have a lot of ironing to do (hardly ever), I really enjoy spending time in our soft blue guest room (tour here) that is right next door to the laundry - not a bad spot for chores.

Here is what I keep in our laundry room.  I haven't needed anything else in here in two years, so I guess I have everything I need.  I can't say it enough, the secret to staying organized is having less stuff : )   I will not claim that this space always looks this tidy, but it is easily put back together after a busy day of laundry.  Also, when clothes come out of the dryer they get dumped on the guest bed for folding, so that helps keep things from piling up.

After seeing these Scalloped Lined Basket from Ballard in Tessa's office, I had to find a place for them in our home.  I bought two sets and am using 1 small + 2 medium here in the laundry room.  They are holding extra pillow inserts, out of season items and extra bed linens.  In the hallway, we have a linen closet that houses cleaning supplies, paper towels, suitcases, etc. and linen hutch to store our pillow covers (you know I have a lot of those!), towels and blankets.

In the center basket I keep a stack of dryer sheets (that I take out of the box because I find it ugly and cumbersome), a container for change, my Laundry Bottles (set of 3 for $14), and a lint roller.  I moved the scissors to the next basket over, along with a steamer and sewing kit.  Those are less used items, so I put them in a different basket to keep this one organized.

Shop my Clear Bottle Collection

To the right of the door, I keep a hamper.  And YES, sometimes it is overflowing and not quite as tidy looking.  I have a few laundry tips I'll share soon, too, that help me keep on top of it.  

Notice how the pegs wrap all the way around the room - one of my favorite touches.  If I have something I don't want to look at that needs to hang dry, I can hang it on these pegs and it is out of view from the hallway.  For instance, this summer our swimsuits are all hanging in this area.

I'll post the DIY for the Pegs in just a bit.  They are so easy to make.  Emma and I made them without Mike's help - they take an hour, tops.

If you'd like to tour the rest of our home, visit here : Our Home Tour Page

June 26, 2017

Summer Home Tour | House Resources

Good Morning : )

We are a month into summer and already it has gone by too fast.  For us the month of June was filled with plans, as I knew it would be.  I feel like we ran from one obligation to the other.  They were all all fun obligations (weekends with family, golf tournaments, parties, vacation bible school, etc.), but still obligations.  I'm hoping the next month moves a little slower and has more down time for us to really get into unwind mode.  

We don't have any vacations planned, but I've been kicking around some options.  I love the idea of jumping in the car and just heading out to explore.  We are somewhat limited on that in the Midwest, since most options are at least 8-12 hours away.  If anyone has any recommendations in the Lake Michigan/Minnesota/Wisconsin areas, I'd love to hear about them.  I'm envisioning a cabin/resort by a lake close to a bike-able village of sorts that has a good ice cream and pizza spot, of course.  

We are having a couple of different groups of friends staying with us over the next couple of weeks, so I've been checking off my house to-do's list for the summer.  I love having guests stay with us - for just a couple of nights I get to fulfill my dreams of owning a bed and breakfast : )  

Last week, I got the guest room spiffed up, cleaned out the closets, finally finished our laundry room project, and got every room (even the garage!) in our house in shape.  I had a long list, but broke it up over the entire week and spend a couple of hours each afternoon tackling each item.  Summer can do a doozie on our home, so it feels good to start out with a clean slate and a place for everything.  I'm sure by September, we'll be starting over again, but for now, I'll enjoy the extra breathing room.

Just as I finished getting the house ready, the hydrangeas bloomed so I took the opportunity to photograph the yard, as well.  I'll take you on a full garden tour later this week if all goes as planned. 

I've been getting a lot of emails lately asking for a better resource page for our home including light fixtures, paint colors, furniture, etc.  So, I'm also taking the opportunity to add those resources to this house tour.  Sorry if it is redundant for you, if you've been following a long for some time.  If you are new here, you can see more detailed tours of our home here : Our Home.

Here we go :

Mike and I do all of the gardening and yard work.  I enjoy working outside (much more than working out!) and love the combination of creativity, fresh air and physical labor involved.  I even mow the yard.   When Emma was young, there wasn't enough time in the day.  Now that she's able to entertain herself, I really enjoy it.  I figure if my Granny did it until she was 70, surely I could manage.  I love no longer depending on the yard guy's schedule - now I can have the yard looking great whenever I want.

Last Summer I replaced the larger boxwoods that were in front of the house with Annabelle Hydrangea.  I added a small boxwood hedge at the beginning of spring that has been filling in nicely.  The Hydrangea are more full this year.  In a couple of years, I look forward to having a complete boxwood hedge with hydrangea spilling over.

I went with a natural mulch this year instead of the dark brown.  Some days I am glad, others I am not.  With the dark brown, I felt like I was seeing too much mulch, I wanted it to fade into the background and let the plants shine.  I'm not sure what I'll do next year.   Thoughts?

Our flower boxes also have small boxwoods that I will transplant in the fall somewhere in our garden.  I had to replace them this year after leaving them in the boxes all winter... really hoping I don't have to replace every year!

Here is the DIY instructions to making these Window Boxes - such an easy and rewarding project.

Exterior Paint : Sherwin Williams, Muslin  (trim and siding)
Windows : Anderson 400, Canvas
More details, here.

You may or may not notice that we've also replaced the old picture window that was in our front living room (the window on the left).  It was new when we bought the house, so we kept it in place when we did our addition. It didn't match the other windows in the house, but we were trying to be efficient and not wasteful, since it was still a nice window in good shape.

Right after we moved in (like, 2 days after...), Mike was installing the drapes in the living room and cracked the window.  So, after two years, we finally had it replaced to match the others.  I LOVE how it looks and wished we would've done it to begin with.

More details on the windows and exterior paint, here.

Lantern, Concord Wall Lantern from Cape Cod Lantern Company.  For more details on our lighting, visit this post.


This is one of my favorite rooms in the house - and one of the original rooms that is still intact.  I love the tone-on-tone paint in this room.  The rest of the house is tone-on-tone Navajo White, but this room is a little richer in Carrington Beige.  It is all very monotone and soothing, but warm and cozy at the same time.   The extra trim and millwork is really noticed with the subtle, tone-on-tone paint.  More trim details here >

BM Carrington Beige, Satin on trim, Eg-Shel on Walls. 

Mr. Darcy in is spot... ruining that chair : )

I'm in the process of replacing these end tables.  I have already purchased an antique writing desk (with lovely barley twist legs) for one side and am looking for an antique chest of drawers for the other side.  We don't have any storage in this room, so I'd like to keep our christmas ornaments and keepsakes in the chest.  We are very thoughtful about our collected Christmas ornaments.   love the idea of them not being in a bin in the basement!

Now, onto the kitchen that opens up to our hearth and dining areas.  When we built this kitchen, I wanted it to feel as timeless as possible.  It is so easy to get sucked into trends, I wanted this to feel as though it could have been built 80, 30 or 5 years ago.

The coffered beam ceilings were the finishing touch on this room, adding character and coziness to what could have been a large, expansive boring room.   More details on our millwork and paneling, here >

For a details on Our Kitchen, visit this post.

Resources : 

Walls & Trim : Benjamin Moore Navajo White Satin

Countertops : Arabescata Veneto Marble with Honed Finish

Hardware : Martha Stewart Bedford Brass from Home Depot

Paint Color Details : You can see all of the paint colors for our house, here.

Brass Lanterns : Concord Lanterns (Small) in Antique Brass from Cape Cod Lighting Co.

Island :

Island Wood Top : Clear Alder Wood Wide Plank

Finish : Minwax Provincial Stain + Marine Satin Finish Sealer

Sink : Signature Hardware Reinhard 30" Sink, White

Faucet : Rohl Perrin & Rowe Bridge Faucet in Polished Nickel

Kitchen Bottles : These are part of my Clean Bottles Collection

Small Tray : The small tray (holding the dish soap) is here >

Linens : Shop the Linen Collection, here >

Creamware Platters, here >

I've recently become obsessed with growing garden roses.  I'm still an novice, but they smell so good and are a bit addicting.

Some large Annabelle Hydrangea from our older shrubs that we planted 3 years ago.

You've probably never seen this wall before, because there wasn't much to see.  I'd always planned on a hutch or built-in, but had struggled finding one that would fit perfectly and fit perfectly in my budget.  A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on this cupboard on 1stdibs.

I'd looked there before, but everything was out of price range.  This one was just what I was looking for and exactly the price I needed it to be.  Let's hope it looks as great in person when it arrives here in a couple of weeks.

I can't wait to display my Woodland collection of plates and pewter pieces here in the fall and during the holidays.  We really don't have that many surfaces in our home for displaying, which keeps it clutter free, but I'm looking forward to having this centerpiece.  I'm sure you'll see a lot of it as it evolves every season ; )

You've seen this shot, season after season - usually with new pillow covers and botanicals.  I'm still enjoying our Blue & Green Block Print Pillow Covers from the Spring. 

I love the relaxed look of slipcovered furniture.  Most of the upholstered pieces in our home are from Pottery Barn - they've washed up great.  I try to wash them once a season to keep them fresh.

Slipcovered Comfort Roll Arm Sofa from Pottery Barn
Slipcovered Carlisle Arm Chairs from Pottery Barn

 I've added the Blue & White planter in my Basket Tray that is filled with hydrangea at the moment.  When they go away, it will probably have remotes!!

Basket Tray on Ottoman

Our Dining Area.  I've been debating adding antique style Windsor Chairs around our dining table instead of these upholstered from RH.  We have a lot of slipcovers in this room.  I would get 6 and keep 2 upholstered for the heads and keep the others around for big crowds.  What do you think?

Light Fixture details, here>

Here is that writing desk that will move into the Living Room once I find a chest for the other side of the sofa (and sell the other end tables... ugh!).  I think there might be too much dark wood in this area once the large hutch comes in, but I do love how it looks here too, so who knows.

Creamware Platters, here >

This is Mike's office.  It is the warm and cozy spot in our house.  Since we have so much creamy white light space, we love having one corner that feels more rich and deep.

Leather Club Chairs from Restoration Hardware
Ottoman from Pottery Barn in Velvet

This is a walnut Ship Captains desk with a leather top that I found at a local antique store.  I love the little secret door in the side, filled with Emma's treasures.

Cape Code Lantern Co. : Williams Flush Mount Lantern

I recently found this sketch at Mission Road Antiques - could be Mr. Darcy's twin!

Gold Frames, here >

Remember a couple of months ago when I gave you a tour of our Guest Room?  Well, it is different now.  Not completely different, but I've made some improvements.

Paint : Benjamin Moore Quiet Moments, Satin on Trim, Flat on Walls

These Baskets from the Bunny Williams collection at Ballard Designs have been haunting me since I saw them in Tessa's office.  I wanted to add some charm to this bedroom and give it more of a country in feel.

So, I added some scallops : )   How could I pass up the "Emma" Scallop bedskirt and duvet, too?  I also purchased the shams, but they are in my bedroom.

I replaced the very dark, mission style hand-me-down dresser with this pine chest.  I found this at Everything But The House.  It was my first time bidding and I am so pleased with it.  I paid more for the shipping than the actual piece, but it was still more affordable than anything I could find locally.

I also brought in this artichoke lamp I purchased from Barbara Cosgrove lamps a few years ago.  I love how the green looks with the blue room.  It is one of a pair... I just need to superglue it's mate back together.

Gold Frames, here >

Next to the guest room is the laundry room.  You might remember from our house plans, we gave up a large walk-in closet for upstairs laundry and a guest bathroom.  I'm still SO glad we made that decision.  It was the right decision for us, since we were able to fit in his and hers french door closets with the same amount of linear hanging space.  Having a laundry room upstairs is such a dream (since we don't have a finished basement)!

I took some time this spring to "decorate" and add some finishing touches to the laundry room... including more of the scalloped baskets, of course.

I'll take you on a proper tour later this week and include my step-by-step DIY instructions for installing peg boards.  We had these put in in our mudroom when we built the house, and I've loved them so much I put them in here - myself!

I love our glass pane door - it adds some character to the upstairs hallway and peek at our now charming laundry room.

Ok, this is getting embarrassing.  Yet another scalloped basket.  The real reason is that I needed three smaller for the laundry room shelf, so I had to buy two sets... They've come in so handy, though.  We have limited storage, so they are all filled with out of season sweaters and pillow inserts!  They'll also make great storage for Emma's room in the future - if I ever get tired of them in my room.

Paint :

Benjamin Moore, Navajo White : Trim :Satin, Walls : Flat
Lantern : Cape Code Lantern Company, Concord Lantern
Bedside Tables : D.R.Dimes
Lamps : Barbara Coscgrove
Gold Frames, here >
Bed : Upholstered Bed From Pottery Barn in Ivory Linen
Block Print Pillow, here >

More roses from the garden.

These are the Ballard scalloped shams that match the guest room bedding.  I had our monogram embroidered in white.  I love white on white embroidery - feels timeless to me.

My 2nd favorite room in the house.  More bathroom details here >

We're often asked if we still love our hardwoods in our bathroom - yes!  We haven't had any moisture issues and I love the warmth they add.  Not to mention they were about $2,000 cheaper than tile : )

Walls & Trim : Benjamin Moore Navajo White Satin 

Countertops : Arabescata Veneto Marble with Honed Finish

Powder Room Bottles on Vanity : Available in my Store, here.

Shower Bottles : Available in my Store, here.

Hardware : Martha Stewart Bedford Brass from Home Depot

Sconces : Visual Comforts Vendome Rubbed Brass

Shower Walls : Biscuit Daltile Subway (Home Depot)

Shower Floor : Hampton 2" Hexagon in Honed (The Tile Shop)

Shower Curb : MS International Grecian White in Honed (Home Depot)

Shower Heads (we'll have two) : Danze Opulance in Polished Nickel (

Deck & Splash Marble : MS International Grecian White in Honed (Home Depot)

Roman Shades : Roman Shades from Home Depot in Milan Feather

Floors : Hardwood Stained, Minwax Dark Walnut

Back downstairs into our  mudroom/my office before we head into the backyard.  I love this space.  I love the pegs, I love that bench I found in Lexington, and I love Mr. Darcy's doggy door.

Behind me, into the kitchen, we have a dutch door that we can close on rainy days if Mr. Darcy has muddy paws.  It allows him to come in and out of his door into the backyard, but not onto the sofa.

Now, back into the kitchen and out our french doors, we have the back porch.  This was Mike's request for our home.  A long back porch.  We love this space.  We sit here in the morning (as you've seen on my insta stories), and in the evenings.

We built this Playhouse last year.  DIY plans, here >

Copper Onion Lanterns : Sandwich Lantern Company
Benches : World Market (6 years ago)
Block Print Cushions, here >

This is a rose garden I established 2 years ago and I added three more this year.  The hydrangea tree was added last year.  The little boxwood hedge is two years old and has filled in nicely.  I'll keep it short so the roses can fill in and be seen behind it.  I need to put one more large on the left to connect the hedge from the porch to the rose garden.  I will probably use one that is in a planter and transplant it in this space in the fall.

Some of the most lovely smelling David Austin garden roses.

The Annabelle Hydrangea are getting so big!

We are planning to build a real fire pit with field stones this summer.  We love whatever weed that is growing over our fence.  It makes this space so cozy and lush!

Well, that's it for today - We're off to do nothing : )  Happy Summer!

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