Strawberry Cheesecake Monkey Bread

So Friday started off really well and then it went all down hill.

The plan was that Autumn would go to my mom’s house for the weekend giving Price and me a bit of a break. Autumn loves staying at my mom’s house. They have a blast together so it’s a win/win for everyone.

I was going to meet my mom about half way at a shopping center so we could have some or lunch and for her to get Autumn. Some Outback lunch and then shopping at Ulta for some shampoo and Old Navy to shop their clearance sale… a great Friday afternoon!!

Autumn had ‘water day’ at daycare so I picked her up right after that since she loves playing in the splash pad there. We headed up to meet my mom, sending her a fun selfie before pulling out of the parking lot. Clearly, I was amped.

Things are smooth sailing until traffic started to back up just 5 miles into the trip. I was thinking “It better clear up around this curve I don’t want to be late for lunch.” Clearly, I was hungry. Almost instantly, traffic checked up in my lane and several of us had to hit the breaks hard to come to a stop. I JUST MISSED the car in front of me. “Damn that was close!” And then BANG! I was hit from behind. And then I hit the car in front of me, who hit the car in front of her.

 

Long story short, we were all okay. Indy, our car, was not. And we were not making our lunch date with my mom. 2 fire trucks, 4 cop cars, and then the highway patrol came to check us all out and get all the info needed to process the accident and file claims.

My mom came down to get Autumn and they had a wonderful time together that weekend. I took it easy the rest of the weekend and I am now awaiting

So that’s that.

Now, let’s talk this Strawberry Cheesecake Monkey Bread! The biscuit pieces are filled with a mixture of fresh strawberries and cream cheese. It’s a great combination of sweet strawberries, slightly tangy cream cheese, and the deliciously sweet and sticky caramel sauce that is created while it bakes Your family won’t be able to resist pulling this monkey bread away and gobbling it up.

Enjoy and wish me luck in getting the car fixed quickly. Let’s hope I get a sweet rental, ha!!

Strawberry Cheesecake Monkey Bread

Makes 1 5″x 9″ loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 roll buttermilk biscuits (8 count)
  • 12 ounces strawberries, tops removed, diced
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted

Process

  1. Preaheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray
  2. On a floured surface, roll out each biscuit until 1/8″ thick, cut in half.
  3. On each biscuit half, add 3-4 diced strawberry pieces and a pinched off piece of cream cheese. Pinch together the edges to make a filled dumpling.
  4. Combine the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and then roll each each filled biscuit in the mixture.
  5. Add half of the sugar coated biscuit pieces to the loaf pan, sprinkle the remaining cream cheese pieces on, then top with the rest of the sugar coated biscuit pieces.
  6. Evenly pour the melted butter over the filled loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbling along the sides and is golden brown. If the monkey bread is browning too quickly, cover with foil. Remove from oven and immediately flip onto serving dish. Let cool and enjoy.
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House Tour- Our Kitchen

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and that is really true for us.

One of the reasons we fell in love with the house was the kitchen. We couldn’t get over how open it felt, even with the giant island. Oh, that island. I instantly fell in love with it when we saw a model home of this house design in January 2015.

It’s a 9′ long x 4′ deep island… that was more countertop than our previous kitchen, and that is just the island!

We were 99% sure on the house but still compared other house designs from other builders to the openness and layout of this design, prior to us signing the contract on a house. Ultimately, the Monroe model from Ashton Woods won out and we signed our contract in spring of 2016.

Then the real fun began… selecting options and finishes at the design studio.

I normally like white, white, white but when we saw the grey shaker cabinets of one of the kitchens in the design studio, we were hooked. It wasn’t a typical wood veneer finish and the grey was a great option on incorporating some color into the house, besides furniture and decor.

One thing I would not budge on was having white countertops. Our last kitchen has black ones it while the finishes of that kitchen worked together in that space, I hated the dark countertops. It was really tough to photograph process pictures for food recipes, and I just love the look of light countertops. I think they really help with making a space feel larger and brighter. (They look yellowish in the photos but it’s white- trust me, there is no way I would have picked anything else!)

 

The standard options for both the cabinet style and finish and countertops would need to be upgraded to achieve our desired look.

We picked a blend of upgraded cabinet styles for our kitchen. The grey shaker cabinets that are the majority of the cabinetry in the kitchen was a Level 6 (ouch… $$$), and the white shaker style was a Level 4 (not such an ouch!). Besides the color the biggest difference between them was the drawer style and construction of the door panels.

By blending the 2 cabinet styles we saved $513. The blend works as the white cabinets are only at the island and therefore are primarily visible in the kitchen work area, not particularly visible from the rest of the house, especially from the living room and backyard.

The standard countertop is granite, but the finish options they had were too dark and busy for our preferences. We had the option of upgrading to a composite material or marble. While marble is incredibly gorgeous, we opted for a composite as it was a fraction of the cost. I love how it is bright it is with a nice fleck pattern that is not distracting.

Our builder has a lot of options for cabinet styles to have a custom kitchen that you design to your design aesthetic and needs. Some builders do not have these options so this was one of the reasons we were drawn to them. I really appreciated the ability to customize the kitchen, even when the cost of some of these items we could customize was cost prohibitive.

 

One of the big things that I wanted to do in the kitchen was to remove the standard cabinet mounted microwave that was mounted above the stove for a microwave that was integrated into a base cabinet($130 add). This one thing great transformed our kitchen by having a hood installed over the stove. We were provided with a $1,458 for removing the 3 cabinets originally spec’d for the wall.

Then we further opened up the look of the wall by removing the cabinets on either side of the hood (receiving a credit for this) and installing floating shelves. The wood finished shelves we installed were from Threshold at Target. They are 4″ shallower than the grey shelves we could have installed at by the cabinet builder, but they only provided a flat price per shelf, so a 20″ long shelf would cost the same as a 8′ long one. We were not paying $468 per shelf that was less than 2′-0″ long! Hell no. So our $30 a shelves are working just fine for us.

 

In addition do those custom changes we added a tall filler panel next to the fridge and swapped out a base cabinet that came with doors for base cabinet that has drawers. We had wanted to do an integrated trash cabinet but the price exceeded our budget so we installed a pull out after we moved in.

The builder had plenty of options for backsplashes but the ones that we liked were very expensive (go figure!). We decided to leave the wall bare with just paint as we save up for a tile that we like. As well, we have the option of installing a pot filler above the stove as we have a pre plumbed for an utility sink in the garage, and it worked out that the location of that is almost directly behind the stove. So we don’t want to tile the wall yet, just to rip some of it out for the faucet.

The only architectural change we made in the kitchen was that we omitted the closet at the door that leads from the kitchen to the garage. We knew we wanted to put the pie safe there and the closet would not have allowed it. The pie safe works really well there as storage for our Pyrex and it’s a feature right at the entry that we use most often.

The walk in pantry is directly opposite the garage door so it makes dropping off groceries in there really easy.

One of the littlest things in our kitchen is one of my favorite things. We had an air switch installed for our disposal. This is a button that is intergrated into the counter that you press when you want to turn your disposal on and off. I like the look of this and I also like that I don’t need t open and close the cabinet below the sink to use a switch every time I want to use the disposal.

We had some issues with the install of the microwave cabinet  which still need to be adjusted by the millwork company, but the responsibility with scheduling them is in my court. Ya know, just been a bit busy lately with a newborn!

We sit at the metal stools and the table in the ‘Breakfast Area’ most often for meals, while our dining room gets used a bit less. As it is getting day to day use we wanted that to look homey and casual. We reused a table and a set of chairs that we had refinished that we had in Boston. I like how both our stools and these chairs are fun colors.

I found beautiful palm prints on Etsy from the WildBOOK store. We wanted something bold on the wall and these worked out perfectly. I had them printed at 24 x 36 and put them into simple white frames from IKEA.

The drapes we have on the slider are from IKEA and also add some fun color to the space. We layered 2 sheers using the VIDGA triple curtain rail system. The inner curtain is FLÖNG, a patterned sheer, and the outer one is AINA, a blue light weight linen. We use the same curtains and set up in our living room as well.

Also, like our dining room, we need a ceiling light junction box relocated. They centered the junction box for the light fixture centered in the space but we prefer the table to be centered on the wall with the palm prints instead. We removed the standard fixture and installed the really affordable pendant that I picked up on an Ikea run recently. The $30 JASSA pendant and the $10 wired SEKOND cord gives the area a more casual look which works well for the feel of the breakfast area that we are going for. When we have the junction box in the dining room moved, we will have this moved as well so that the light is centered over the table and then can hang lower above the table. But the $40 fix works for us now.

I also have high hopes of getting a fiddle leaf fig plant in the corner next to the sliding glass doors, but I am afraid it will feel too trendy and I’ll kill it. I’ll have to figure something out soon. Once I find a great pot for it I will be inspired to get a plant. I am looking for something modern looking. Totally open to suggestions!

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Peanut Butter Pupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

PEANUT BUTTER PUPCAKES

Maybe you didn’t know but our 2 Boston Terriers are super cool. Super, super cool. They are way cooler than me.

How do I know?

Well, they have crossed the 40K follower mark on Instagram. They have more than 2x the number of followers than me. (yay!/ugh!)

PEANUT BUTTER PUPCAKES

I have been having tons of fun with them and building their account. Thankfully, they don’t know how successful it has become or they would be even more demanding of treats, bacon, and belly rubs.

They were super spoiled when I made Pup-cakes for Brinkley’s 2nd birthday.

PEANUT BUTTER PUPCAKES

Our sweet, derpy dog just turned 2 years old. She is such a peanut, although she is fully grown, so everyone thinks she is a puppy. She might be small but she has a mighty appetite. I think she would have eaten them all had I let her.

But she  just gobbled up 1 and shared another with Kemper. They both really enjoyed their extra special treat.

 

I swear our dogs know the moment when we open a jar of peanut butter. They can sniff out peanut butter in a 1/4 mile. So they were in their glory with the peanut butter in the cupcake and in the frosting.

PEANUT BUTTER PUPCAKES

So this yummy pupcake recipe is the first in a new series of features from our dogs Kemper and Brinkley! Hope you and your dogs will enjoy them as much as we enjoy the treats and adventures that we will be sharing.

PEANUT BUTTER PUPCAKES

Peanut Butter Pupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Makes 6 Pupcakes

Ingredients

For the pupcakes

  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 Cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup shredded zucchini/carrots
  • 1/3 Cup honey
  • 1 egg

For the frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 6 small dog bone biscuits

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the peanut butter and vegetable oil with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the zucchini, honey, and the egg; beat well. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  4. Divide the batter into the 6 prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 22 – 25 minutes or until cooked through. Cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Top the cooled cupcakes with the frosting. Decorate with a dog bones.

Slightly Adapted from Fake Ginger

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House Tour- Our Dining Room

Ever since we moved I have wanted to do a house tour to show how we have been decorating. How we have been making it ‘home’.

I am kicking off with our dining room!

Referencing the plan, you can see that is is the first room you see when you enter the house. Plus, it’s the first area visible when you are approaching the house. At night when the lights are on, it’s very visible.

We really considered that when we were selecting and locating the furniture and decor in the room.

The furniture and decor in the room is a blend of pieces that we have already owned and ones that we picked up when we moved here.

The main element in the room is the dining table with the combination of chairs and bench. We found these pieces at the Tampa location of Nadaeu, a furniture store that imports really cool handmade pieces.

While shopping with a friend, I fell in love with this table and found chairs and a bench to match. Price and I went back for him to check it out and we scooped it all up. And then they held it for us for months since our completion date was delayed. They rock.

I keep various simple runners on the table, along with a handmade bowl, salt and pepper shakers, and slate coasters to protect the table. The bowl is made by one of Price’s uber talented friends who has a pottery studio, Barrel Maker Pottery, in Portland, Maine.

The other piece of furniture in the room is a gorgeous buffet that was a very generous hand me down from one of my bosses in Boston.  I was quite concerned about it moving because of the value and how much we like it. Thankfully the movers did a great job with it – just 1 minor knick on a corner.

We tried not to clutter the buffet but have it functional and fun too. We have some wine and booze, a slate cutting board from Crate and Barrel topped with a ceramic jar that Price’s brother made when he was in high school. To go with the alcohol, we have a sign that was at our wedding that says, “Trust me you can dance – Alcohol” from the Etsy shop, DodiDoodles. It’s a fun reminder of our wedding.

Above the buffet is a mirror from Ashley Furniture and a set of copper pots and pans. We picked up the copper pots and pans years ago while at Brimfield, an antiques flea market that is held 3x a year in Massachusetts. We picked this set up for a steal at just $100 5 years ago.

As I previously mentioned, the dining room is at the front of the house so I wanted the window treatment to stand out as it would be seen from the entry, and even the street. My friend, Nichole, and I went shopping at Ikea and stumbled upon the curtains that we felt would look great in the space, while still having an overall connection to the rest of the house by featuring a blue color.

The MJÖLKÖRT curtains are hung closer to the window on the RACKA rod and the denser, thicker SANELA curtains are hung on the outer HUGAD rod. The double rod system allows for the pair of curtains to be hung together but move around independently of each other.

Directly opposite the windows is a tobacco basket with some prints.

The tobacco basket is really old. It used to hang in Price’s mom’s kitchen and we scooped it up from her years ago. I love that it’s a statement piece and it has history to it. You can find old ones at flea markets or antique shops, or you can purchase a new one as many stores have started to recreate the look now.

The art prints are little mushrooms that my grandmother bought for me years ago when we were browsing a small shop, sadly now closed.

On the to-do list is getting a new light fixture. We opted to just install the standard lighting fixture from the builder as any upgraded fixtures from them were $$$ and we didn’t really love any of them. When we find a fixture that we really like we will have that installed. The current location of the fixture is centered in the room, not over the table, as we have the buffet in there, moving the table over closer to the entry. So we will need that relocated which is a bigger deal than just swapping out fixtures so we aren’t in a big rush at this time to take on that project.

Adjacent to the dining room is the entry. There is not much to this area besides a lighting fixture (to eventually swap out) and a side table.

The side table was another piece that was from a boss in Boston. We have located this in various places in our past apartment and condo (entry, bedroom, respectively) but decided that currently works best here now as the wood is similar to the table in the dining room

Above this are 3 prints that feature the town where my husband grew up, Skaneateles, NY. I took the large picture at the bottom of Skaneateles Lake, and the other 2 are professional picture from the north end of the lake, where the town is located.

Besides the light fixture, we are really happy with our dining room. It’s a great place to come together and eat dinner as a family, which we do every weekend. The weeknight dinners are more casual, as we eat dinners at different times, and happen at the kitchen island or at the table in the Breakfast Nook.

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  1. Update lighting as a new lighting fixture can really transform a room. Even changing the existing lighting fixture’s bulb color temperature can make a big change.
  2. Layer curtains for a fun play on patterns and textures.
  3. Display a collection as a focal point. Artwork or dishes make a great feature.
  4. Mix types of seating for versatility and functionality.
  5. Use existing pieces in your home in the room in a new way.
  6. Add a mirror to create a feature that helps brighten the space.
  7. Use a patterned rug to help hide spills and add a fun accent on the floor
  8. Personalize the room with family photos or portraits.
  9. A fresh or good quality silk floral arrangement are great options for bringing nature into the room.
  10. Decorate with wine! Show off your collection of wine or liquor for a fun celebratory feel

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Up next is our kitchen tour!

 

 

 

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Happy 2nd Birthday Brinkley

Hey, Mom… this hat… not cool…

Yeah, I couldn’t resist this for Brinkley’s 2nd Birthday.

In fact, it was from Autumn’s 1st birthday. ha!

 

Our sweet Brink turned 2 on the 30th. Autumn and I wanted to celebrate the occasion with a fun treat for her. We made pupcakes for her and Kemper to chow down on.

I think that Brink just tolerated dressing her up with the hat since the big jar of PB was out and she was looking forward to some. They can’t resist pea nut butter!

I mean, how can a sweet little doggo not love a Peanut Butter filled and frosted pupcake?! And a tiny treat to top it off, perfect!

 

Both Brink and Kemper enjoyed the pupcakes. They were a wonderful treat for them. Brink basically dove for it (see how her foot is off the ground!?) and Kemper was licking his chops waiting for me to give him his pupcake.

We are so thankful that our derpy little Brink is in our lives. Love her affection, spunk, silliness, and kisses so much!

Recipe for those scrumptious Peanut Butter Pupcakes will be on the blog soon!

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