no bake chocolate peanut butter bars

There are a couple things in this world that I know to be true, and one of these is that you’ll never go wrong combining chocolate with peanut butter.  Can I get an “AMEN?”

We’re going on a camping trip down in Monterey with Devin’s cousin and her boyfriend this weekend, and I wanted to make something sweet for us to snack on.  I decided on no bake chocolate peanut butter bars, mostly due to a) my aforementioned love of chocolate paired with peanut butter and b) I had all of the ingredients on hand already.

Warning: yes there is confectioner’s sugar, and yes there is melted butter…but hey, I never claimed that this was a health food blog :).

Ingredients (recipe adapted from Bites Out of Life)

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter
  • 1 (10 oz.) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter

Line an 11″ x 7″ pan with foil or parchment paper.  (Note: Originally I wanted them to be on the thicker side, but after tasting them, next time I’d use a larger pan so the bars come out thinner).

Make your graham cracker crumbs by either pulsing the crackers in a food processor, or do like I did and put them in a large ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin.

I used Simply Jif creamy peanut butter which has less sodium and 33% less sugar.  If you use regular peanut butter, I would cut out about 1/2 cup of the confectioner’s sugar because these bars are pretty sweet.  Not that I’m complaining.

In a large mixing bowl (if you’re using a hand mixer) or a stand mixer bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, confectioner’s sugar, 1 1/4 cups of the peanut butter and melted butter and blend until combined.  The mixture will have a fairly dense consistency.  Then you should grab a spoon and taste some. Quality control is key :).

Press the mixture into your lined pan and set aside.

Put the chocolate chips and heaping spoon of peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between until you get a nice smooth consistency.  Mine took about 1 1/2 minutes.

Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter mixture and stare in amazement at all of that glorious shiny chocolatey-ness.

Then spread it out evenly and pop in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until the chocolate is set and cut into squares.

I definitely recommend having them with a glass of milk.  They were too sweet for Devin, but I liked them in moderation.  If I were to make them again, I’d probably cut the sugar even more and make them in a larger pan so that the bars are thinner with a more even peanut butter to chocolate ratio.

At any rate, they should curb any sweet tooth that pops up this weekend!



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before & after: the bathroom

The bathroom facelift is finally done, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.  What was supposed to be a weekend project turned into a few days due to a mishap with the light fixture.  It all turned out for the better though!

Just to remind you, here are some before pictures:

Sayonara turquoise walls.  Hello calming gray.

Come a little closer, don’t be shy…

Doesn’t it look so much brighter already?  If you peek to the right at the doorway the shower is directly to your right with the bath tub on the far end.

The cranberry towels were ones we had already and are from Bed Bath & Beyond.  The rug was a gift and is also from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Above the tub, we hung the sunburst mirror from Target that I spray painted with Rust-Oleum’s Cranberry in Gloss.

I’m really happy with how it all turned out.

The floating shelves are from Home Depot.  I was initially hesitant about buying them because they got pretty mediocre reviews on Home Depot’s website.  People commented that they were pretty flimsy and couldn’t hold much weight.  I took a chance and got them anyway because I like the profile and trim on these moreso than any other floating shelves I could find.  There is truth to the reviews.  The mounting hardware isn’t the most supportive.  Also oddly, I had two of the exact same shelf but one had a metal bracket that mounted to the wall and that the shelf slid onto, while the other had a long wood block that screwed into the wall and then you screwed the shelf onto the block.  Weird.

At any rate, they hold what I have on them just fine, and I’m not concerned about them.  I just wouldn’t recommend putting anything too heavy on them.  At that price point, I think they’re totally worth it, especially for the dimension that the shape adds to the room.

Just to give you some perspective on how small our bathroom is, I literally stood wedged into the far corner of the bathtub to get this shot.  It’s my favorite one of the whole room.

If you look slightly to the left, you see the new medicine cabinet and light fixture, both from Lowe’s.

We were limited in what we could put over the sink because 1. We needed a medicine cabinet and not just a mirror because we didn’t want to lose that storage and 2. The opening for the old medicine cabinet was pretty narrow and we needed to stay within those measurements so that we didn’t have to move the outlet.  At any rate, I’m happy with the one we chose.

The brushed nickel knob plays well off of the light fixture and other brushed nickel accessories.

I love, LOVE the light fixture.  It was a happy accident that the first one didn’t work out because I feel like this one really works in modernizing the 1940s tile.

I especially like that the shades are rounded squares and have a second frosted glass shade within them.  Really brings some depth to the fixture.

If you look back over your shoulder, to the left of the door is the shower stall.  Gotta love that dated tile!  Ah well, at least the color looks classier against the pale gray walls.

To complete the 360 degree tour, if you turn left from here, you’re directly in front of the tub with the sunburst mirror above it.

The paint color is Sterling in Behr’s Paint & Primer In One in semi-gloss.  The trim color is Behr’s Ivory Mist in semi-gloss.

If you’re wondering about the other accessories…

The candle and glass pillar holder are from Target.

The metal basket holding the washcloths is from HomeGoods, as are the glass containers.

I love the curved ridges in the glass.  I actually found these in the kitchen section on a shelf full of various glass containers for storing food, but they’re perfect for a bathroom too.

I found the gray quatrefoil patterned towels at HomeGoods last month (mentioned here) and the tissue box cover was on clearance at Target (score!).

This white frame was on clearance at HomeGoods (can you tell what my favorite store is?) and the art inside is actually a section of Pottery Barn’s Bettina fabric.  I scored a good amount of the fabric from Ebay which I plan on making some throw pillows out of (note: one may or may not be for a future giveaway!).  I scanned over the fabric with the mat to choose a section I liked and then cut the fabric to size and taped it to the back of the mat.  Instant custom art!

The bathroom feels much more serene and is so calming now.  I mentioned before that when Devin first saw the newly painted walls, he said that it looked sort of boring.  Now that everything’s all done, he concedes that it’s a huge improvement.  Last night after I put the finishing touches on it, he looked around and said “A+ babe…looks great.”

Maybe I should rename this blog “Christine is Always Right.”  Has a certain ring to it :).

I considered maybe adding a roman shade in a complimentary fabric to the window, like the one I made for the kitchen.  While it would add another pop of color to that side, I’d hate to lose all of the light that comes in through that window.  It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it’s a privacy window so the light gets diffused nicely.  What do you think?

Other than that, the only other thing I want to add is a new soap dispenser which I’ll be making and posting about next week.

This facelift was long overdue but worth the wait.  Every time I’ve walked by the bathroom since we finished it, I can’t help peeking in there just to say hi haha.

Not sure why the tile reads so much bluer in the before pic, but the color is really more like the gray in the after picture.

I’m going to go check on my bathroom now :).



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filing cabinet feature on remodelaholic

Just popping in to let you know that our filing cabinet makeover is being featured today over at Remodelaholic.  If you’re not familiar with Justin and Cassity, the amazing duo behind the Remodelaholic blog, then you must be living under a rock!  These two have some amazing tutorials, inspiration and DIY projects on their site.  Justin is a landscape architect and Cassity is an interior designer so you can imagine the incredible DIY projects they come up with.  Please hop on over and say hello…you won’t regret it.

Thanks so much to Cassity and Justin for featuring our little project!

In other exciting news, we finished the bathroom last night and I’m crushing pretty hard on it.  Stay tuned for the “after” photos later this evening :).

bathroom fixture fail and spray paint is my BFF

This was our teeny tiny bathroom last year.  Please excuse the horrible photos.

Yes, bathroom singular. Our three bedroom house only has one bathroom. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a house with two bathrooms for less than $700K in our neck of the woods. Really depressing, isn’t it? You can understand then why, when watching House Hunters on HGTV, I want to throw things at the television when I see someone buying a huge 4 bedroom 3 bath house for $300K. Ah well, I know we choose to live in the bay area. The many perks of living here are balanced with the high cost of living, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be…at least for now.

Anyway, I digress.  So back to the bathroom.  One bathroom suits us just fine for now, though we do toy with the notion of someday bumping out the guest room a few feet and turning it into a master suite with a second bathroom.  Maybe one day when we have kids who are old enough to start hogging the bathroom :).

It’s not a completely horrible bathroom, even with the 1940s tile, but it definitely needs some sprucing up.  The bright sort of turquoise blue wall always seemed too loud for me against the gray and cranberry tile.  I’m also not a huge fan of the plain old medicine cabinet and the light fixture above it.

Eventually, when time and finances allow, we’d like to gut the whole thing and start from scratch.  For the short term, I was happy to just give it a facelift with a new medicine cabinet, light fixture and shelves above the toilet and to freshen the entire space up with some paint.

On Saturday, we cleaned the walls, took out the old medicine cabinet and light fixture, patched some holes and taped everything off.  Then on Sunday I put two coats of Behr’s Semi-Gloss Paint & Primer in One in Sterling on the walls.  When Devin first saw it his initial reaction was, “Eh, now it looks kind of boring.”  I however think that the whole space looks brighter and lighter, and now we can make the room pop with the accessories…whereas before we were limited to the decor due to the gray/cranberry/turquoise combo.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the before/after post I was hoping for because Devin ran into a little hiccup when he installed the new medicine cabinet and light fixture this afternoon.

This is the original light fixture that I chose from Lowe’s.  Devin has it wired in upside down in this photo.  Why?  Because when it’s right side up (with the domes facing down), you can’t open the medicine cabinet door due to the lights hanging in the way.


I don’t know why neither of us thought about the fact that the old fixture was practically right on top of the medicine cabinet.  I suppose I just thought it would be magic and everything would just…WORK.  Sadly, not the case.

I was pretty bummed because I really like the fixture…especially the glass domes we chose (this was a mix and match fixture where the base came by itself and you chose the domes you wanted from a variety of styles).

We discussed our options:

A. Choose a new fixture that either has lights that are straight across or facing up.

B. Move the hole.  While this would’ve allowed us to keep the fixture, it would require moving the old wire, opening up a new hole and patching up the old one with sheet rock.  While doable, it negated the whole point of us not putting too much backend work into this facelift.  (I originally wanted a larger mirror/medicine cabinet, but it would’ve required moving the outlet that’s right next to the vanity.  Again, that was nixed due to the backend work involved.) Not worth it since we want to gut the whole room down the line anyway.

So option A it is!  We hopped over to Lowe’s to return the first fixture and examine our options for a new one.  Surprisingly, we found one that we both like better than the first one.  It’s a more modern style, but that actually suits us and the bathroom better.

Except, they were all sold out of the model we wanted.

FAIL again!

There’s a Lowe’s not too far from my office that has them in stock so I’ll swing by tomorrow and pick it up.  In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at one of the accessories going in the bathroom.

I got this sunburst mirror from Target.

Originally I planned to put it in the office, but then we decided it would be a nice addition to the bathroom above the bathtub.  While I liked the original oil-rubbed bronze finish, I decided to embrace the cranberry tile in the bathroom and use that as our accent color instead of trying to run away from it.  I am loving me some spray paint these days, so after a coat of Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer and two coats of Rust-Oleum Gloss spray paint in Cranberry, the mirror is begging to be hung in the bathroom.

I think it’ll look great in there and will really add a nice pop of color.

Stay tuned for the bathroom reveal in a couple days!



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before & after: stackable filing cabinet

You may remember me mentioning the worn yellow filing cabinet that I scored from an estate sale.

Now that I have the green light to make over the office, we finally pulled this baby out of storage, wiped off the dust and got to work.  As I mentioned previously, the paint job on the filing cabinet was horrendous.

Paint drips everywhere, paint on the hardware, inconsistent coverage and on and on.

We removed all of the hardware and we sanded…

…and sanded…

…and sanded some more.  It was no small job, and I was grateful that Devin offered to help.

I thought he’d never admit it, but he actually said, “You know, I think I could get into this with you.”  “This” meaning revamping furniture.  You are all my witnesses.  Those words actually came out of his mouth.

After the neverending sanding spree, I carefully wiped down all of the cabinets and drawers with a slightly damp rag, then wiped everything down again with a dry rag.

I actually kind of liked the distressed, shabby camouflage vibe it took on after sanding.

But that’s not the look I’m going for in the office, so I went ahead with my original plan.  Since this was a large metal piece, I decided that spray paint was the way to go.

After a couple very light coats of primer, things started looking a little less yellow around these parts.

Then two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Heirloom White later, the cabinet was looking positively invigorated.

My original plan was to top it off with two coats of Rust-Oleum’s Clear Satin spray, but when I was done, I wasn’t happy with the uneven finish on the top and sides.  I’ve heard that this is a common problem with spray painting larger surfaces.  The color coverage was complete and even, but from every angle you could see blotchy spots.

To remedy the situation, I finished the filing cabinet off with a few thin coats of Varathane’s water based clear polyurethane in a gloss finish.

It did the trick!  Not only does the cabinet have a smooth, even finish, it’s now super protected against any wear and tear it’ll get in the office.

I love how it turned out…and so does Devin, who admitted that he was glad I didn’t listen to him when he told me to “get rid of that thing taking up space and gathering dust at the shop!”  Hehe…what else is new?   (Note: since I still need to find replacements for some broken pulls, I’ve left the bottom row out of these “after” photos.)

I’m glad that I decided to keep the hardware silver instead of trying to paint it brass to match the campaign desk and dresser.  It looks great against the white.

At first, I planned to just freshen the hardware up with some satin nickel spray paint, but when I tested the spray on one of the broken pulls, it was too dark for my taste.  So instead, Devin polished them up with a rotary brush and then sprayed them with clear satin for good measure.

I’m also really happy that I went with a gloss finish for the poly because the sheen really makes the cabinet pop.

You can even see reflections in the top!  Hurrah for no more blotches!

I can’t wait to see how it looks in the office against the pale blue walls….but that will have to wait until we get all of the junk out of there :).

I love how crisp and clean it looks.  Now I just have to plan out what I’m going to store in the drawers so I can print up some nice labels for the pulls.

Devin thinks I shouldn’t be so literal about it and should just label the drawers with cheery, abstract words like “happiness” and “love”…who knew he was so whimsical?  I suppose I’ll wait and see how I feel about it once I actually start putting things in there.

First piece of furniture for the office makeover done!



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