Pinterest Food Challenge: Peanut Butter Blondies

Wednesdays are quickly becoming my regular recipe day around here, and I’m pretty ok with that because we’ve been eating lots of delicious things because of it. Today I’ve got… surprise surprise… another recipe that involves peanut butter and chocolate chips. I really might be developing an addiction.


The original recipe for these, from Sweetest Kitchen, left them a little dry for my taste, or maybe I just cooked it for a little too long, so here’s the recipe and instructions according to how I will be altering it in the future.

To make:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

To bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease an 8×6″ square pan (set aside)
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar, stirring until smooth. I wasn’t sure how this would go, but the brown sugar basically dissolves and it looks a little like crunchy peanut butter when its done.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter then set aside
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Go back to your brown sugar mixture and add the egg and vanilla, mix well. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to create a thick, smooth batter. Fold in half the chocolate chips, reserving the rest for sprinkling on top.
  • Transfer the batter to the pan, spreading it evenly to the edges. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and lightly press them into the batter.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes until the top is golden and the edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool in the pan. Cut into squares and serve.


My family really enjoyed these, the peanut butter taste ends up being really subtle and the tiny bit of crunch on top makes them pretty delicious. Make sure to check out Sweetest Kitchen, there’s about a zillion other recipes on there.

And for more easy to make treats and meals, check out my Pinterest Food Challenge page!

pinterest food challenge

At least once a month cook or bake something you’ve pinned, and share it with others! Let’s try to stop pinning and start making. 

DIY Bath Scrub

Last week on The Happier Homemaker there was a post about making your own bath scrub, and it was so quick and easy and I already had everything on hand so I thought I’d give it a try.

Here’s what you need:

  • an empty jar (I used an old peanut butter jar)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon each lemon and lime juice
  • washi tape (optional)

All you have to do is mix together your ingredients in the jar, and then decorate it. Under 5 minutes and I’ve got a bath scrub to help with the itchy awful dryness of winter! Does anyone else feel like with all this forced heat and cold snow you just want to sit around and scratch your legs all day? …..No? Just me? Hm…

like my post it note and sharpie label? i got real fancy with this project.

Like my post it note and sharpie label? I got real fancy with this project.

This would be so easy for a wedding or baby shower favor.  You could just line up all the jar lids and spray paint them in no time instead of covering them with tape, then just print a bunch of personalized labels from your computer. I bet for a baby shower you could even use some food coloring to make it pink or blue…unless that would change your skin color. I’m not really sure :)



High 5 for Friday

Happy end of the week, friends! I hope it flew by for you. Here’s my top 5, linked up with Lauren, From My Grey Desk:


1. We spent the weekend with my family, mainly my new favorite person in the world Jack Attack. My sweet nephew is now 6 months old and so so much fun. Check out his mad dancing skillz:

2.I got a smartphone on Monday…. yes, before Monday I was a smartphone-less blogger. It was blasphemy. But to be  honest, I didn’t want one. I just wanted a phone that would make phone calls, apparently that does not exist anymore. Anywho, I dove right in and now I’m on instagram. So if you’ve been hankering for more pictures of my pets that’s the place for you!

riveting stuff, I know.

riveting stuff, I know.

3. I created a new page here on the ol’ blog, 4th Annual Walk for Tish to fund raise for  a walk that means a whole lot to me. Please consider checking it out and leaving a kind word or donating.

family with tish

4. Tuesday night Matt & I  had a really nice impromtu happy hour date at Chili’s. We had to get my contacts transferred over to the new phone and Chili’s just so happened to be right next door- so I had me a Corona, some skillet cheese & chips, and a quesadilla. OM NOM NOM. We had a lovely time. :)

5. Last night the program I work for ran it’s first family night and we had a great turn out with some super cute kiddos in attendance. I’m glad it was such a hit, because normally we only run programs on dull stuff like time management and how to read a textbook. Hopefully we can do it again next year!

4th Annual Walk for Tish

I’m going to deter from my usual DIY and baking shenanigans today to talk a little bit about something very precious to me. I hope you don’t mind!

You may or may not have noticed there’s a new little page  at the top of this blog titled 4th Annual Walk for Tish.

Basically, for the 4th year in a row, my family and I will be walking to raise money for the home where my cousin Tish is a permanent resident. A few years back my Aunt Angie passed away leaving, among others, her daughter Tish behind. Every year since my brother and I have taken charge to raise money and walk in a fundraiser for her home, New England Pediatric Care (N.E.P.C.).

banner cool kids

Please consider making a donation of any amount to help us- and if you can’t donate, kind words are equally appreciated. All of the funds go directly to N.E.P.C., not to me, and they will directly impact people like Tish in an amazingly positive way.

family with tish

Top row: Papa, my mom, my brother Ryan, my sister in law Karen (and Jack was in her stomach last year!)

Bottom row: Nonna, Tish, Dutch Butt, me, and my dad


Pinterest Food Challenge: Hot Chocolate Cookies

Just last weekend one of the blogs I regularly read, This Vintage Grove posted a recipe for hot chocolate cookies, and I immediately pinned it. And then I immediately baked it because they sounded so delicious I just couldn’t wait.

pinterest food challenge

Lately I’ve been cooking something I pinned once a week, but my goal has always just been once a month. Feel free to join me in putting our pins to use!

To make hot chocolate cookies you will need:

  • 1/2 cup shortening (I wouldn’t recommend substituting this, you need the texture of it)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons hot chocolate mix (buy a marshmallow free mix!)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

To make:

  • Use a hand mixer to stir together shortening, softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour and hot chocolate powder. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and combine.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour
  • After your dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350* and drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet
  • Bake for 8 minutes or until set up but the centers are still soft.
I recommend if you don't eat them straight out of the oven, heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds. It makes them extra amazing!

I recommend if you don’t eat them straight out of the oven, heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds. It makes them extra amazing!

You can check out everything else I’ve baked and cooked from pins here, everything is moderately easy and absolutely delicious!



DIY Draino

I just have a quick little tip for you all today because honestly, I was far too busy having fun this weekend to craft. Matt & I went to my brother’s concert and then spent the rest of our time with him, his wife, and my sweet sweet nephew. Cuddling that baby was far more important then crafting. :)

So here’s the deal… we’re super Italian. We have a lot of hair. Our bathroom drain was clogging constantly. 

Then about 6 months ago we were having people over and I didn’t have time to run out for Draino, so naturally I turned to Pinterest. I found a DIY Draino recipe and with just a little twist (because our clogs are intense) I got it to work. I waited 6 months to post it  because I wanted to make sure it lasted.

DIY Draino from homemade supplies you already have on hand!

DIY Draino from homemade supplies you already have on hand!

You will need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • 1 skewer
  • Boiling water

How to:

  1. Tap about 1/4 cup of baking soda into/on top of your drain. I didn’t measure it, but 1/4 is about right
  2. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar on top of it (again, didn’t actually measure it)
  3. Let it do it’s thang while you go and boil a whole teapot of water, which should take around 7-10 minutes
  4. Once the teapot is whistling bring it on over to your drain and slowly pour the entire thing in
  5. Use a skewer and gently push down into the drain (this particularly helps break up hair clogs)

That’s it! You’re done! We did this once about 6 months ago and then didn’t have a problem until I (whoopsie) cut my hair over the sink and didn’t wipe it up.

Hope this helps you!



High 5 for Friday

Friday Friday Friday! I’m linking up with Lauren From My Grey Desk Blog to share my top 5 for the week:

1. reached out to me and asked if they could feature my DIY Faux Tile Backsplash on their Facebook page, which I politely said yes to while I internally screamed and jumped with joy.


2. Partly because of the Hometalk feature, and partly because of a few other things, the Sandpaper & Glue Facebook page got 100 new likes this week! This is such a huge achievement for me, my goal when I created it was to at least reach 100 likes and now I’ve gotten that amount in just 5-6 days. Thank you everyone, and welcome new readers!


3. Last night Matt & I had a lovely Valentine’s day. We went to see the new Die Hard movie (at matinee prices!), got take out, and then threw on our sweats and watched Lethal Weapon 2. It was all extremely romantic. Try not to tear up.


4. Tomorrow night my brother’s band is playing in Boston. They have no right to be as good as they are, but dammit it’s a fun time watching them play. It might have to do with the amount of alcohol in my system when I watch them play. Luckily I have awesome friends willing to tag along for the insane nonsense that is Sizzle.


5. Yesterday at work there was a Chocolate Sampler. Guys. GUYS. A chocolate sampler. I work on a college campus so all of the clubs had a different chocolate dessert, and you walked around with your plate and collected as many as you’d like… for free. I was in fat heaven. I might still be.


Pinterest Food Challenge: Easy, Creamy Tomato Soup

Last week I hit you with a detailed potato soup recipe- this week I went for easy. All you need is a blender and a microwave, woo hoo! This is also from the same website I got my sugar doodle recipe from, an those were a huge hit so now that I’ve got two good ones in a row I think I’m going to have to go through the website a bit more.

pinterest food challenge

At least once a month, try and cook or bake something you pinned- then share the wealth!

The ingredients for this recipe were really straight forward, and a lot of them I already had on hand:

  • two 14.5-ounce cans stewed tomatoes

  • 2 carrots, peeled and trimmed

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 3/4 teaspoon Adobo seasoning

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional and to taste

  • basil for garnish

  • mozzarella shredded cheese for garnish

The original recipe has a few other suggestions of seasonings and measurements, so be sure to check it out here.


And here’s how to make it:

  • Chop up your carrots
  • Put all ingredients (besides garnishes) in a blender until creamed
  • Pour into a microwave safe container and microwave 3-5 minutes at a time on high, stir, then repeat this step until soup is at desired temperature. I think it was 10 minutes total for me

We had about 4 servings of delicious, crazy easy to make tomato soup.


I recommend you make yourself a solid grilled cheese to dip in it. :)

What have you cooked recently?


Linked up with: Someday Crafts, House of Hepworths, The Shabby Creek Cottage, 504 Main

Caroline G.

Friends! I am so excited to share with you that I am a new brand ambassador for Caroline G. - creator of super cute and trendy jewelry and hair accessories that won’t break the bank. In fact, the first piece I ever got from her I got for free (just paid $6 shipping) as a Christmas promotion. And if you follow her on Facebook, it’s being offered for free again February 18th- just check her page to get the code.


But if the three stone necklace isn’t your thing, as a follower of mine you can get 15% off ANY TIME by using the code stephanief at checkout. I added a new ad to the right side of my page in case you ever forget. :)

I know, I know, this post sounds like an infomercial. But it isn’t. I’m just really pumped. I mean seriously, look at this stuff:

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 7.11.29 PM Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 7.11.40 PM

I promise I won’t go crazy posting about this all the time, but I did want to take a day to share the news and make sure you all had the discount code. :) Enjoy!

DIY Faux Tile Backsplash

Let’s just dive right in, because this post has A LOT of pictures and instructions. We’re focusing on the kitchen today, so let me give you a little reminder of what the kitchen looked like the very first time I saw it:

and that's only the left side. YIKES.

and that’s only the left side. YIKES.

Sorry for the terrible picture, it’s before I even started a blog.

Then within about 4 or 5 months of us living here we had transformed it to this:

a world of difference!

a world of difference!

But here’s the thing- at the time we removed the wallpaper we had not yet learned what skim coating was, so we didn’t do it. That means what you can’t see in these pictures is a whole mess of dents and dings and unevenness within our walls. So, as with everything around here, I wanted an under $50 amazing solution- which knocked out the possibility of a tile backsplash immediately.

Then last week Beth from Sawdust and Embryos posted an awesome faux tile tutorial and I instantly had to have it. I feel in faux tile love. I asked her where on earth so found painters tape thin enough to stand in for grout and she directed me here. Then I checked with my friend Kenz, who imitated another one of Beth’s faux tile tutorials and she used the same tape. So I ordered it for $10 (cost + shipping).

Next I went through all my old paint and here’s what I decided to use for my tile colors:

  • Behr Manila Tint (the color our kitchen already is)
  • Better Homes & Garden Partridge Grey (colored matched to Behr, the color of the darker stripes in the sunroom)
  • Behr Wheat Bread (living room color)
  • Behr Sand Dollar White (bathroom and master bedroom color)

I also picked up 2 Martha Stewart textured paints, a silvery gray and a black for $7 each. So my cost for this project was $25 due to all the supplies I already had on hand. But actually, I had a gift certificate to Home Depot so I only paid the $10 for the tape. :)

Here’s the breakdown of how I got such a tedious project done:

  • Thursday I put up two coats of primer
  • Friday I painted pure white (my “grout”) and taped
  • Saturday I painted in all the tiles

Enough with the words though, here’s some pictures of how it went down:

I used my laser level to make the horizontal stripes, each two inches apart. Then I randomly placed the vertical lines, only making sure none of them were even but with no real pattern in mind.

I used my laser level to make the horizontal stripes, each two inches apart. Then I randomly placed the vertical lines, only making sure none of them were even but with no real pattern in mind. Once the tape was up I got my license and used it to run over all the tape to make sure it was pressed down real well. And no, I did not do my dishes first.

I had all my paint colors out at once and painted all the colors all at once- basically I went through and did 5-6 tiles of each to get a lay of the land. Then I went through and did that 4 more times, filling in as I went and making sure I didn't paint the same color next to itself if it could be avoided.

I had all my paint colors out at once and painted all the colors all at once. I went through and did 5-6 tiles of each to get a lay of the land. Then I went through and did that 4 more times, filling in as I went and making sure I didn’t paint the same color next to itself if it could be avoided.

Here’s the awesome afters:

sink before and after

stove before and after

Basically the tile does a great job at separating the eating area of the kitchen from the prep area of the kitchen. It adds all sorts of interest without being crazy, and for re-sale's sake... if the next owner doesn't like it all they have to do is sand and repaint.

The tile does a great job at separating the eating area of the kitchen from the prep area of the kitchen. It adds all sorts of interest without being crazy, and for re-sale’s sake… if the next owner doesn’t like it all they have to do is sand and repaint.

We decided to line the backsplash up with the cabinet, and not the counter. I think no matter where we chose our starting point that it would be a bit awkward, I might actually go back at some point and add a white outline around the edge. I haven’t decided on that yet.

The tile is not completely even everywhere so my OCD mind goes a little crazy, but I found out with my laser level that my walls aren’t completely level so that’s just how it is going to be. It does an amazing job at hiding our lack of a skim coat though.

oooh! ahhh!

oooh! ahhh! The gray that looks uneven is actually textured and metallic silver, so it doesn’t photograph well. But it looks ah-mazing in person.

And once more, let’s just look at the very very before versus the now:



Love Love Love

Love Love Love

This project is not difficult, just time consuming. The tape itself took about two-two and a half hours and the painting probably another three. But the results are crazy worth it!

What do you think?