Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For The Long-Distance Daddy

Father's Day is just around the corner and if you have a daddy that is not-so-close or, say, a few states away like mine then you are probably thinking a little ahead too!

I have been racking my brain for ideas for the man that appears to have everything. Shopping for dad is hard because (like my husband) if he needs or wants something... he buys it! I mean, when you make the money you can do that kind of budget shattering stuff.

For this reason at every holiday or birthday my dad gets one of the following items:
1. Mixed nuts
2. A tie
3. Some sort of unique bottle of hot sauce
4. A blog post (if I'm your daughter)
5. All of the above

I'm sure that was dandy from each of his 6 kids for the first 20 years, but eventually that's just got to get old! In an attempt of lazy creativity, I turned to tinyprints.com and their photo gift section. If you are not familiar with Tinyprints, they are a sister store to shutterfly.com, though I might actually like them more! Their design team is spot on with the times, and they offer so much cool stuff. Like, can I win a million dollar shopping spree to this store PUH-LEASE?! I'm really obsessed and they aren't even paying me to say that, it's true. What am I saying, you can check them out and see for yourself. Anyways...

I browsed their site for a while and eventually came to the mugs. It's my auto-pilot. After looking for a while, I decided to make a image in photoshop that shared all of the memories or things that reminded me of good ol' daddio, but then I got thinking... my dad doesn't even drink coffee... or hot cocoa even for that matter so why get him another mug aside from the fact that it's affordable and I can fill it with goodies?

Think Val, Think.

I want to share reasons I love him, but don't want it on a mug. Then as I scrolled the hallelujah chorus sang from above. I found it, by golly.

The cutest easel art where I, or anyone could write reasons we adore the boss.

I loved this because as much as I enjoy making items of my own design, sometimes it's nice to just click "add to cart" and be done with it.

... Wait... that's it? No tutorials? No DIY? Oh my faithful friends, do ye knowest me not at all?

That easel has to go inside something so I aimed my creative juices in that direction!
One dollar store box and some leftover scrapbook paper later, VIOLA!

And of course, I wouldn't forget the nuts ;)

Happy Father's Day to the loins of my fruit. (?... Nope. That doesn't sound right.)

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

If you are interested in getting rid of a little loose paper scraps for a royally cute gift box, then follow the tutorial below!

For starters, I stopped by the dollar tree and grabbed some gift boxes (they come in packs of 3) and then I measured the width for the white piece of paper that would be the collar. I cut it about 3 inches in height, and then snipped a slit down the middle. Then (as shown in pictures) I folded the flaps up until they were perpendicular to the top of the paper, and then glued the flaps down.

For the tie, I grabbed a piece of extra scrapbook paper I had in the huge abyss I have where paper goes to die. I cut it down to about 10 inches tall, 2 inches wide. Two inches down from the top, I cut a half inch slit and folded from the slit to the top corner of the tie. This will be the knot of the tie as seen below.

About an inch from the bottom of the tie, I put two little tick marks.  I measured the middle of the bottom and folded from that center up to the tick mark. From there I folded the flap down from the bottom of the "knot" down to the tick marks drawn for the bottom of the tie.

Finally the tie is sealed to the box with a little packing tape (lamination ghetto style.) The collar is glued to the box over the top edge of the tie. Fill with gifts, seal with love, and send to papa.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Give Me Brownies or Give Me Death.

After polishing off the last of the asparagus and practically licking the pan, my main man said so sweetly, "Now I want dessert." to which I responded ever so kindly, "Word."

There is just something about a Sunday night that makes the sweet tooth go crazy. It's funny because growing up my family had ice cream on Family night once a week, and got to lick the bowl of whatever treat mom made for a church activity, which was about the extent of our dessert endeavors in the Braun home. Don't get me wrong, my family had nothing against dessert, it just wasn't a common thing. (Which poses the question, why was I such a chubster?.... another story for another day.)

My husbands entire family (extended and all) makes chocolate chip cookies every sunday; a timeless and heartwarming Rushton tradition.

As for Ryan and I... Dessert traditions have yet to be established, though he will admit to a bit of confusion when chocolate chip cookies didn't appear the first few Sunday evenings of our marriage.

The point is, there is just something about a sunday evening that merits the desire for a little something something... I mean, I fully believe that in order to fully enjoy the Sabbath day, like, really make it a day of rest and relaxation, there should be molten chocolate something or another wafting through the air. In fact, I'll bet they even had a little sugar covered manna back in the day. Just saying.

 So, to husbands plea I said, "How about some zucchini brownies?" Because if you are gonna make a dessert, you'd might as well go with one of the healthier and equally satisfying recipes on the world wide Pinterest, AMIRIGHT?!

Ryguy didn't agree so much. "GIVE ME REAL DESSERT OR GIVE ME DEATH!" He bellowed pounding his fists on the table. So I shot him with a small Harry Potter killing curse and that was all she wrote.

At least, that's how I saw it. I suppose the conversation is up for interpretation.

Anyhow, after reassuring him that he would want for nothing after trying my zucchini brownies with the added bonus of also being vegan (a huge plus in my book) he agreed and skulked to his man cave. (Ok, so maybe he didn't skulk... but this is my story!)

So away I went, into the oven they baked, and to our bellies they reside. Seriously, for a vegan, veggie brownie, these are worth a try!

Gooey center, flakey crust, oh baby baby. No one would even guess there were healthy alternative ingredients in these, and I am super picky about those health fad recipes. It's gotta be the real deal for me to share.

Behold: the recipe via fitsugar.com (see the step by step pictures here!)


1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used half wheat and have oat flour)
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small zucchini
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
I added coconut, because I love it. Other add in's can include mallows, nuts, unicorn dreams... waitwhut?


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt).
  3. Place the zucchini in a food processor, and puree it as much as you can. Add in the oil and vanilla extract, and puree until smooth.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry, and mix until a thick batter forms. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.
  6. Enjoy as is if you prefer a soft, cake-like consistency, but for a classic chewy brownie-like texture, wrap cut brownies in foil and freeze for at least an hour. Enjoy right out of the freezer.
These would be divine with ice cream, or in my case, a lil whip top (there are rice or coconut whipped creams for vegan options.)

And the best part? You can eat two. or three. Mildly guilt free :) 

Now, go! Eat and be merry!