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DIY

Eats

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Happy National Chocolate Chip Day!! If you were looking for an excuse to make some chocolate chip cookies today, today is the day to have that cheat day because c’mon it’s a national holiday!  And any reason to make these soft cream cheese chocolate cookies is a good day in my book! These cream cheese chocolate chip cookies are so soft and moist with the addition of a little bit of cream cheese.

Would you believe me if I told you that the secret ingredients to these soft cookies is cream cheese and cornstarch?!? If you don’t believe me, give this recipe a try and tell us what you think. The other secret to thick soft cookies is to refrigerate the dough for up to 2 hours or overnight. I know some people hate recipes that require you to refrigerate your dough, but if your dough is warm your cookies will spread while baking and turn out thin.

I love how these cookies are thick without being cakey and the texture of these cookies are a bit chewy around the edges while the interior is soft, tender, and moist.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened (don't use fat-free, light or whipped)
  3. 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  4. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  7. 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  9. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  10. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  11. 2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I like to use 1 cup chips and 1 1/4 cups chunks)
Instructions
  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, cream cheese (to get an accurate measurement, put it into a 1/4-cup measure cup rather than using the marks on the outside package), sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-creamed, light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Add chocolate chips and chunks, and beat for just a minute to incorporate, or fold in by hand.
  4. Using a medium cookie scoop, form heaping mounds. Place on a large plate and flatten mounds slightly with your palm.
  5. Cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Baking with warm dough causes cookies to spread and bake thinner and flatter.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat and place dough on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set. They will look slightly under cooked, pale and glossy in the center. Rotate pans after 4 minutes and do not bake longer than 10 minutes as cookies will firm up as they cool. (If dough is refrigerated overnight, allow dough to come to room temp for 15 minutes before baking).
  7. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
Sweet Lemon Made http://sweetlemonmade.com/

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Create

DIY Porch Makeover

DIY Porch Makeover

Oh, if only we could all live in brand new, crisp white houses with perfect black shutters on all the windows, and inviting porch swings to sit in as we gaze across our perfectly manicured yards. But let’s be honest, most of us live in somewhat outdated, basic middle-class houses with far more weeds in the yard than we care to admit. We’re all secretly hoping that Chip and Jo show up to make our home reno dreams come true! But alas, all of our renovation dreams usually end up being just that–dreams. Haha.

Well, this year my mom has been working hard to renovate our childhood home that was built in 1985 and it can definitely start to get overwhelming. It starts as a room or two and before you know it there’s a project for every room in the house! So to help encourage her along, I decided to surprise her with a little porch renovation. And for $270.88 I was able to really enhance the curb appeal on this 1980s rambler.

If you’re looking to amp up your curb appeal because you’re getting ready to sell your home or just want to smile a little bigger when you pull in the driveway, we’ve got some quick and easy ideas to help you spruce up any porch or patio.

Light fixtures. This swapout definitely gave us some bang for our buck! As you can see these old brass fixtures have seen better days, and for $39 each we were able to switch them out for a much more modern fixture. I honestly never really noticed how bad those old light fixtures looked until we changed them. The new ones give such a polished. complete finish! These lights were surprisingly easy to switch out as well–no electrician required. Just make sure you go to your circuit breaker and turn OFF the power to the porch light before you replace it. THIS STEP IS KEY to avoid getting zapped!

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Fun pillows. Adding pillows to the outdoor furniture really gave a great splash of color and made the porch a lot more inviting. The pillows also made our $14 plastic chairs from Home Depot look a lot classier! These pillows are made with outdoor fabric so they can withstand some of the elements without wearing down or molding. The great part is that you can switch the pillows out quite easily and change the whole look of the porch for different seasons.

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Flowers. And lots of them. I tend to have a black thumb when it comes to plants, but flowers add so much life I knew we had to include them in the porch makeover. My sister taught me a great trick though–that is to buy those large blooming hanging baskets and then plant them in a large pot with soil, rather than growing each plant one by one. Usually those baskets have multiple flower types already grown and blooming, then all you have to do it get them in the soil and water them. It made the pots look like they had been growing all summer long!

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Hopefully you’ve been inspired by our simple porch reno and ideas for your own porch have started popping into your head. Here are the links to all of our porch renovation items. Take a look and happy porch planning!

Pillows:

Navy Painted Floral Pillows, Target, $11.99 each

Embroidered Green Fern Lumbar Pillow, Target, $15.99

Tray:

Galvanized Table Tray, Target, $19.99

Rugs:

Coral Patterned Welcome Mats, Target, $12.99 each

Bench Glider & Chairs:

Outdoor Loveseat Glider, Amazon, $89.99

Taupe Patio Lounge Chairs, Home Depot, $13.97 each

Light fixtures:

Porch Light Fixtures, Lowes, $39.98 each

TOTAL: 270.88

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Create

Easy Summer Project: DIY Doormats!

DIY Doormat

I’m the kind of person that thinks in seasons. On Pinterest I literally have my food boards split into seasons (summer food, fall food, etc). Eating a watermelon basil salad in November just feels wrong, almost as weird as eating cozy chicken pot pie in May. Am I right?? This seasonal framework carries over into my decor, especially on my porch! You guys know what I mean…you have the winter wreath, the spring wreath, the summer wreath,etc. Now I’m kind of obsessed with having seasonal doormats as well. I’m in the process of helping my mom do a “porch makeover” (stay tuned for the big reveal next week) and we needed some fun, summery doormats! My fellow blogger and Target partner-in-crime, Ashley, found some good options, but my parent’s house is tricky and it has three front doors (yeah, three?!?) and we couldn’t find three of the same mat! But sitting next to the picked-over piles of cute mats, was a pile of plain, natural doormats and that’s when the idea struck! Let’s just paint our own! So we did some googling and figured out what we needed, thought about some designs, and went at it. We decided to do a fun watermelon theme on one set and a patriotic theme on the other set (perfect for the upcoming 4th of July holiday).

Some projects we get ourselves into seem super easy, but end up being more complicated and time consuming than we ever thought possible. This project was the opposite! It was super simple and worked out just as easy as had hoped it would. It would even be a fun project to do with kids. It also makes a great gift idea for a new home-owner or anyone that appreciates a little pizazz on their porch! Check out all the details below.

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Supplies:

  • Plain, natural doormat (you can buy them for $10 at Target, Home Depot, or Ikea)
  • Large all purpose sponge (with curved edge)
  • Painter’s tape (you know, the green or blue stuff)
  • Outdoor acrylic craft paint (2 oz bottle of each color)
  • Waterproof clearcoat/sealer (for extra protection)
  • Large all-purpose scissors (for cutting sponge)
  • Small sponge paint brush (for touch ups)
  • Fine bristle paint brush (for accents/details)
  • Paper plate (for paint)
  • Sharpie marker (to make sponge stencil)
  • Tarp or sheet (to protect floor from paint)

 

Directions for Watermelon Doormat:

  1. Lay down the tarp to cover your floor.
  2. Shake or wipe off doormat with a towel to get any dirt or dust off.
  3. Using a stencil or freehand, take the curved end of the sponge and draw a triangle coming to a point in the middle of the sponge, making the shape of a watermelon slice. Then draw the curved line about ½ inch to ¾ inch from the curved edge to make the watermelon rind.
  4. Cut out the watermelon shape using scissors. Our sponge was really thick, so we also cut the shape in half so it was easier to work with. You should have one piece cut for the watermelon slice and one piece for the rind.
  5. Pour entire 2 oz bottle of pink paint onto paper plate (don’t pour the green paint yet–it will dry out) and dip watermelon slice into the paint. Make sure there is a thick coating of paint on the sponge.
  6. Stamp the watermelon slice onto the mat and press firmly around the entire shape to ensure the paint transfers from the sponge to the mat. Repeat this process until the mat is covered with a random pattern of watermelon slices.
  7. Allow pink slices to dry about 15 to 20 minutes before stamping the green rind.
  8. Once the slices are dry, pour green paint onto a new paper plate and begin stamping the rinds on each watermelon slice. Allow to dry.
  9. Next, taking the fine bristle paintbrush and black paint, begin painting small oval-shaped seeds on each slice of watermelon. Allow to dry.
  10. Finally, spray the mat with two coats of craft clear coat/sealer (waiting 15 minutes between coats). If you use outdoor paint this isn’t necessary, but will help protect the mat even more. 

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Directions for Patriotic Design:

  1. Shake or wipe off doormat with a towel to get any dirt or dust off.
  2. Find center of the doormat by folding in half and marking subtly with Sharpie.
  3. Starting in the center, take the painter’s tape and make a line from the center of the mat to the bottom left-hand corner. Repeat and make a similar line from the center to the right-hand corner.
  4. Press the tape firmly into the mat (I rubbed the closed paint bottle over and over the tape until it was fully adhered). This is key to ensure that you have crisp lines and your paint won’t bleed through!
  5. Continue applying the tape in the same fashion to complete the pattern shown.
  6. Gather the paint, you will need a full 2 ounce bottle for each of the three colors, red, blue, silver.
  7. Determine which sections will be which color, I did an alternating pattern of red, blue, silver, blue, red, silver.
  8. Starting with the red, pour paint onto paper plate and paint ALL the red sections. Next, pour the blue paint onto a new paper plate and paint ALL the blue sections. Lastly, pour the silver paint onto a new paper plate and paint ALL the silver sections.
  9. Allow the paint to dry for 15 to 20 min (faster if you put it in the sun) before removing the tape! It’s worth the wait…you’ll mess up your crisp lines if you don’t wait.
  10. Finally, spray the mat with two coats of craft clear coat/sealer (waiting 15 minutes between coats). If you use outdoor paint this isn’t necessary, but will help protect the mat even more.


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Tip: we tried it using both the sponge paint brush and a cut square of the large sponge used for the watermelon and FYI the piece of the big sponge worked way better and had better pain coverage than the sponge paintbrush.

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Eats

Caprese Salad Skewers with Balsamic Drizzle

Caprese Salad Skewers with Balsamic Drizzle

Even though we had a winter day in May here in Utah, it’s starting to feel like summer. And that means BBQ grillin’ time and summer foods! These Caprese salad skewers are perfect bites of freshness and assembly is as easy as 1…2…3!

  1. Basil
  2. Mozzarella ball
  3. Tomato

Made with fresh mini mozzarella balls, skewered with tender basil leaves and juicy tomatoes and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Tip: You can use a plain balsamic vinegar or try our secret ingredient–pomegranate balsamic vinegar from a local Ogden restaurant called Hearth on 25th! You can also find it online here

This stuff is delicious! This simple appetizer will have people coming back for more and I know they won’t be able to eat just one!

Caprese Salad Skewers with Balsamic Drizzle
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Ingredients
  1. Fresh mini mozzarella balls
  2. Cherry or grape tomatoes
  3. Fresh basil leaves, cut if large
  4. Balsamic vinegar or our favorite pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  5. Toothpicks or bamboo skewers
Instructions
  1. Drain mozzarella balls.
  2. Wash and dry tomatoes and basil leaves.
  3. Cut basil leaves if too large.
  4. Assemble skewers--basil, mozzarella ball, and then tomato.
  5. Plate and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Tip: If you would like to make the balsamic into a glaze here are the instructions.
  2. 1.Over high heat, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a saucepan. Lower heat to medium and simmer for about ten minutes, or until it has slightly thickened.
  3. 2.Remove from heat and let cool.
Sweet Lemon Made http://sweetlemonmade.com/

 

Celebrate

EASY DIY PAPER GARLAND

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Spring is in the air and just about everyone I know is pregnant! So literally April will be the month of showers, in more ways than one. April showers bring summer babies! Haha. I love an excuse to throw a party, so naturally I’m the first to sign up to host a baby shower. So we’d thought we’d bring you along for the ride as we plan, prepare, and party. Stayed tuned all month long for all the fun details.

Today we are talking decor. I am a total Pinterest wannabe when it comes to party decor, I pin ALL THE THINGS. I’d like to think I operate on the values of simple and fun, but if I’m being honest half the time it ends up being over the top, time consuming, and pricey. The other half of the time the ideas never leave my brain or Pinterest board…always the best of intentions (can I get an AMEN?). So knowing that I have a couple of showers coming up I decided to get ahead of the game this time. Paper banners and garland are all the rage these days and I’d been eyeing a few up at my favorite party shops, but couldn’t bring myself to pay $10 for a 6 foot banner (that day–let’s be honest, there are plenty of days that I spend way more on way less because I’m too busy or lazy, haha). But I love the fun, whimsical look that paper banners can give. You can personalize them with letters or have a variety of shapes and colors to give texture and dimension. They are awesome. So I set out to try out making and sewing my own! I have seen and heard of people doing this, claiming “it’s so easy!” But I wasn’t really sure what to do. I figured there had to be a catch of some kind. You can’t just sew paper, can you? Well, according to the craft gods you can, and it really is easy! You don’t need a special needle or special thread. I just used what I had already in my machine and had zero problems. I was kind of amazed. Okay, so here are the details…

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STEP ONE: Cutting the Paper
I decided that I wanted to do multiple garlands in different shapes and colors, so I searched the interwebs until I found the perfect shape. Once I found the arrow shape I wanted, I printed it on cardstock, cut it out, and then used it as a stencil to trace the shape on to the colored cardstock. After I had a page traced I used some regular old scissors and cut them out….one..by..one. This definitely the most time-consuming part of the whole project! I felt like I was doing an elementary art project. Trace and cut. Trace and cut. Searching for encouragement and validation in my seemingly endless endeavor, I texted this picture to my blogging budding and crafternoon partner in crime, Ashley, to show her my progress. Rather than responding with enthusiasm, she responded with surprise. “Are you really cutting all of those out by hand?” she asked. Confused I responded, “Yeah, how else would I do it? They don’t make hole punches that big!” Her response was filled with many tear-faced laughing emojis as she reminded me about her Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool !! OH MY GOSH. Duh. I had totally forgotten she had one of those. I had literally spent hours tracing and cutting all of my large arrow shapes. Oh boy, if this isn’t the story of my life, I don’t know what is!! Haha.

She came over the next day and we used her fancy machine to cut out all the small triangles in no time at all. It was such a breeze I just shook my head in disbelief thinking of all the hours I had spent tracing and cutting the others the night before. So if you are going to do this, the only way for it to be simple and quick is if you have one of those fancy cutting machines!!!

STEP TWO: Sewing the Paper
Once all your shapes are cut out, arrange them in the color pattern you want them to be sewn in (if you are using multiple colors) and make a pile. Next, make sure your sewing machine is ready to roll–full bobbin and threaded properly. For ease I picked the most basic, simple stitch. No need to adjust the tension or mess with any other fancy features–just keep it on the basic, standard settings. If your sewing machine has a speed dial be sure it is on the slowest setting. Before you put the first shape under the presser foot to sew, allow the sewing machine to sew with nothing under the presser foot (take the bobbin thread and the upper machine thread once there has been a few stiches and gently pull it back to help guide the formation of the string). You will do this so your banner has a long section of just thread at the beginning and the end of the banner. This will make hanging the banner much easier. Once you are ready to start sewing shapes, take your paper shapes and line one or two up on the sewing machine in front of the needle and presser foot. Make sure the presser foot is down and slowly begin sewing the shapes. Advance the shapes, adding new ones each time. Gently pull the shape that has been sewn and guide it behind the sewing machine. If you want your banner shapes to be more spaced out, allow the sewing machine to sew for longer without adding a shape (just letting it sew the upper thread and bobbin threads together).
Tip: when you are letting the sewing machine sew without paper, gently pull the last sewn shape (now behind the sewing machine) to keep some tension so the thread you are sewing does not tangle.

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STEP THREE: Storing the Banner
After sewing the banner can get tangled very easy because the thread connecting all the shapes is so thin. After I had finished sewing I cut a flap off a large cardboard box (from my many Amazon Prime purchases…I’m addicted) and began to wrap the banner around the cardboard piece. Once the banner had been wrapped I used a paper clip or binder clip to secure the ends of the banner to the cardboard so they didn’t come loose or tangle. These store easily and keep the garland tangle-free until the next party!

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I loved the way the triangles turned out! It was a fun look and I really liked how they all didn’t hang the same way. The variations in the angles as the hung added great texture and dimension. So if you have a party coming up and know someone with a fancy electronic Silhouette Cameo or a Cricket, this project is definitely worth your time and will save you lots of money$$$.

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