DIY Cafe Latte

I have a little bit of a coffee problem.  Okay.  Maybe that's not entirely true.  I have a really BIG coffee problem.  I love lattes.  All of them.  I don't really care the flavor,  I love them all.  Problem being, no matter where I go to buy them pre-made, they come with a hefty price tag.  A grande will run you around $5 a piece, give or take a few.  If I get one once a day, that really adds up.  (I don't get them that often, but you get the point).  

As a family trying to stick to a budget, this just isn't feasible.  It is a luxury that I have had to take a second look at.  I try to limit my stops now to twice a month, on Sundays, before church.   What do I do in the meantime you ask?  I have found a FABULOUS machine that is worth its weight in GOLD that makes them for me simply and quickly.  This is my baby:

You can purchase this lovely latte machine at amazon among other places.  I suggest amazon but only when its half off, which really does happen quite frequently. 

Now, minus the price of this machine each latte runs me under $1 each!  That's more than 5 for the price of one.  The ingredients couldn't be simpler; milk (duh), the brewed coffee, and some of those lovely flavored syrups you find in the coffee aisle.  Or, you can make your own syrups.  Just scour pinterest for a bazillion different recipes.  I can't tell you how grateful I am to own this little beauty.  Money aside, it also saves me trips out of the house to get my latte fix.  If you are looking for a coffeehouse alternative, this is truly the route to go.  

Don't like coffee?  You can make frothy hot chocolate too.  Just think of the possibilities!

****I have been in no way compensated for this post.  Not even with a cup of coffee.  The opinions expressed are solely my own****


Low-Cal Simple Banana Cream Shake

I don't normally post too many recipes on here but I couldn't pass this one up. I have been trying to get better at what I am eating for a multitude of reasons but I still have a sweet tooth.  The biggest problem with desserts is that with all that sugar comes a boat load of calories.  And I just don't have that many to spare on snacks.  And snack I must.  But, I want it to be filling too.

Now, I know there are many nay sayers out there because this does contain artificial sweetener.  It was a choice I had to make and having something to satisfy my sweet tooth outweighed the importance of 'all natural' on this one.

1 1/2 C. unsweetened almond milk (I use the vanilla flavored)
1/2 banana (3 oz. total wt.)
1 Tbs. sugar free fat free banana cream pudding mix
Small handful of ice cubes.

Place the ingredients in your blender.  The pudding mix helps to thicken this to give it more of a shake consistency. 

This recipe only has approximately 135 calories and is quite a generous portion.  Enjoy!

Mantle Makeover

We are very S.L.O.W.L.Y. in the process of doing renovations to our living room.  I'm tired of my walls looking dingy and the room still seeming so dark.  Our living room is in the center of our home and it does not receive much light.  We have put in skylights but it hasn't helped us all that much.  I figured maybe if I could lighten/brighten up our fireplace area, it may help just a teeny tiny bit more.  I do refuse to paint the stone.  We have this same stone pattern on the outside of our house and I think it would destroy some of the character.

The candlesticks have been spray painted.  The lantern and planes have been pulled from other areas in the house.  However,  pay attention to the 'artwork' here:

 I want you to know just how inexpensive it is to make your own.  The frame was purchased quite some time ago with a 40% coupon and ran me less than $10.  I used some scrapbooking paper that I already had on hand to fill in the photo areas.  The wooden 'home' was purchased in a $1 bin at the craft store and I made the 'rosette' up in the corner by fan folding paper and adding a button to the middle with some hot glue. 

I think it can get really easy to get so caught up in the decorating portion that we think everything needs to be purchased.  Unless you are an art collector of original pieces, let your own personal creations be what decorates your home.  You live there.  Its your space.  Let it define you and your family, not the mass produced market out there available to everyone.  That is what makes a home a home.....and your home at that.  Happy Crafting/Re-modeling!


Digital Scrapbooking

I have spent so many years being all 'touch, feely' with all of my paper products and stickers that it was a really tough transition for me over to the digital side.  I really did fight it off like the plague and looked upon those who embraced this hobby as 'not being creative' or 'taking the easy way out' of what I consider to be hard work  (not to mention the man hours involved).  I was very naive, what more can I say?  Still, I wanted nothing to do with it.  Then the inevitable happened.  I came across a photo that I absolutely adored; you know, the perfect pose, perfect smile kind of photo?  Only problem was the lighting and a big fat tree causing a huge shadow on those precious faces.  I knew I was stuck and going digital was the only way out.  Little did I know, that would be the start of an amazing journey of education, self-discovery, and a sense of accomplishment.  I am far from mastering any program or technique but I haven't stopped learning or growing.  Its amazing how good you can feel when you step out and really try something new and then keep at it and keep at it.  

For those of you new to this hobby or frustrated, please don't give up.  I still want to throw my mouse through the computer screen on some days, but I know that the frustration eventually turns into reward.  

I just wanted to send a little encouragement your way.  And share just a little piece of what 'elements' can really do.


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