Thursday, August 30, 2012

S'more please!

Most people don't know that my roommate and I decided that we weren't going to get cable when we moved in together.  Neither of us watch much TV, I don't even own a TV, so why spend the money.

Then the Olympics came and I LOVE the Olympics! I really should have considered taking a few days off of work because all I want to do, all I think about, is the Olympics!

So, during the two weeks that the games were on, I was spending a lot of time over at my friend Susan's house. Luckily, she is as crazy as I am about the games had everything recording from the beginning.

To repay her for my incessant company, I've been cooking and/or baking every time I'm over.  Baking has been winning lately and these were amazing!! 

A girl after my own heart- Susan loves S'mores just as much as I do and this recipe caught both of our attentions. 

S'mores Cookies!!
who apparently found the recipe from Ice Cream Before Dinner

I think Cookie recipes are proof enough that we are living in a fact sharing, global economy :)

S'mores Cookies
Source: Ice Cream Before Dinner
11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey’s bars, broken into pieces
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixer and combine on low speed.
Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight (I did one batch right away and another after chilling overnight and found there was no difference.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pans with parchment paper. I used one 11x17 pan and one 9x13 pan but you can really use any sized pans you want.
Lay out graham crackers side by side on the pans as close as possible (they should be touching). I used 16 graham cracker squares on one pan and 10 squares on another. You may have to add or remove graham crackers according to how much dough you have. If you want your cookies thicker you will use more dough and less graham crackers.

Place tablespoons of dough on graham crackers about 1 – 1 ½ inches apart. I averaged about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough per graham cracker square as seen in the picture above. Press down slightly with fingertips.

Bake for 5 minutes then remove from oven to press Hershey’s bar pieces on to the top. You can place as many pieces or as little as you want depending how much chocolate flavor you want.

Bake for 5 – 7 more minutes or until dough is beginning to turn golden brown at the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool. For clean cutting make sure cookies are completely cool and cut with a sharp knife.

Yes! They are as ooie-gooie scrumdialumptious as they look! 

If you wanted to cut out the middle man- you could certainly use store bought cookie dough and add marshmallows!!

I am Erika Barczak and I approve these cookies :)

As I was walking from the kitchen to the living room - cookie in hand to enjoy while watching the games - I couldn't help but take a pic of this sign Susan has in her kitchen.  Halfway down.... you'll see "bake cookies" and "visit a friend!"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Another Pinterest Victory!

To thank some friends for allowing me to watch the Olympics, I made them a dinner from a recipe I found on Pinterest.  (If you don't know what Pinterest is.... check it out. It has encouraged me to all sorts of things- make things, cook more, be better organized!)

This dinner was delicious- fresh with a bunch of veggies. The biggest surprise was the chicken sausage- I have never had it before and it was AMAZING!

I added shitake mushrooms and cherry tomatoes to this recipe and maybe some love!

I strongly suggest you try it!
Pesto Orecchiette With Chicken Sausage|
Check it out on Real Simple



  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans and peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the sausage, pesto, Parmesan, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and vegetables and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another Project Complete

It is always exciting when a project is complete. All those months and months of hard work finally pay off, and the client can enjoy their new, beautiful space. Check out this newly completed home that was a year in the making!

Special thanks to Brandon Lynch with Keechi Creek Builders. There wouldn't be a house standing there without him!















Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your TV can do what?!

Ever been lying in bed, trying to watch TV, and you can’t get a good view without giving your self a neck cramp? This happens to me all the time. You want to lie down but the only way you can see the TV is by propping yourself up on a ton of pillows or twisting your neck or doing one of those half crunch things that you did in PE class.

Well there is a solution! It’s called hidden vision TV mounts. This device mounts your TV on the wall above your head board. It looks like a picture frame, and the wires and every thing are hidden, which is even better.

source -
The side that shows is an actual picture. Instead of having a big black hole that a TV can look like over the fireplace or above your bed, it looks like you have a framed piece of art. And it fits any LCD or LED flatscreen TV.

But the most awesome thing is when you want to watch TV the mount extends out from the wall above the bed! This means that you can watch TV while lying in bed.

I don’t know about you but I think that this is definitely an awesome way to watch TV in bed.

 - Erin

Monday, August 20, 2012

Open House Event with By Design and Keechi Creek Builders

Open houses are a great way to show others in the design and building industry what kind of work you can do, and to show potential clients your talent and skills.  But most importantly it is a great way to celebrate a client getting their dream home, as well as, way to thank the client for the opportunity to make their house their home.
The set up

Erika and Amy

Erika, Sergei, and Susan

Taylor, Lyra, Sergei

Chelsea and Lyra

The open house was co-hosted by By Design Interiors, Inc. and Keechi Creek Builders. Guests were invited to appetizers and got the chance to tour the beautiful home. On the invite list were the vendors who worked on the project, potential clients, and the client’s friends, family and neighbors.
Peggy and Chelsea
Peggy, Chelsea, and Erika
Erika and Brandon

As a thank you for getting the opportunity to work on the home, the client was presented with a photo album full of awesome pictures of their home.
Taylor and Amy

The open house was a smashing success. The clients and guests had a great time, and Erika was able to show off all of her hard work.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Doon't ye know?

Here are some fun highlights from Lake Gogebic up in the U.P. 

Evan and I were there for our second 4th of July in a row and had so much fun hanging out in swimsuits all day, playing in the lake with the kiddos, napping, and eating the best camping food. 
Evan's niece, Ellise and I building sand castles. A neighbor near our cottage had put in a small beach which was the perfect size for the kids. 

Evan's mom, Jane, is all about adventures. An adventure can be as simple as making it to the grocery store.  Our "grown-up" adventure for the trip was canoeing through the UP. 
Dusty (Evan's dad) is in the back, Drew (Evan's Brother) is on the Left, Even is front and center, and I'm holding down the red. Despite the owner of the canoe rentals being really excited about the height and flow of the river, the water wasn't moving much. The boys did their best to annoy Dusty and I - splashing, sword fighting with their paddles, tipping each other, etc. 

Hanging out at the beach!

Evan's sister-in-law Emily and I :)

You can write your own caption to this one.... but here's mine:
"One of these things... is not like the other....."

More fun in the sun. 

Ellise was supposed to be taking a nap but began crying.  To entice her to close her eyes- Evan led by example :)

Nap time was a regular thing!  

In one day - the grown-ups had 4 adventures:
1. Canoeing
2. Dinner at the Liberty Bell Chalet
3. Grocery store
4. Fireworks on the lake (which were awesome!!)

Our goal next year is to beat the 4 adventure record....... :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Getting to the UP, eh?

Two years in a row = tradition, right?

For the second 4th of July in a row, Evan and I headed up to his family homestead near Ironwood, Michigan to spend time with family, relax, and enjoy lakes.

Earlier this year, Great Lakes Airline decided it would run two planes a day into a tiny airstrip in Ironwood. The extra $100/each was totally worth it; last year Evan and I flew into Minneapolis and had to rent a car and drive the 5 hours to Lake Gogebic.  Having nothing to do with setting the itinerary, I was so elated when I learned that we would have to stay the night in Minneapolis in order to catch our plane into Ironwood.  About a year ago, my good friend, Megan from Wayne State, moved Minneapolis and was able to pick us up, take us out, and let us stay overnight with her.  

Fate? Yup! We had a great few hours catching up with Megan, meeting her new boyfriend and learning about her new life in Minnesota!

8am the next morning, it was time to set off to Ironwood!

We made it!!

A local farmer in Ironwood paints all of his farm equipment a very distinct pink. Why? Because you can't successfully sneak off with a pink John Deere!

For dinner one evening, the entire family headed to a restaurant called Kontikas.  Their claim to fame.... "eat with the bears!"  They weren't kidding.  The restaurant puts piles of food out in the middle of a courtyard and what bear wouldn't want to dine on a PB&J?

This bear was enormous! The men were guessing 350 - 400 lbs.

Here's Evan and I enjoying a night on the town. We had just dined at the Liberty Bell Chalet - home of the best Cesar Salad...ever!  I mean it!  I had 4 bowls.....

Unknowingly, Evan and I were the only people on the flight out of Ironwood.  Consequently, we were the only two people to go through security.  Five security guards for two passenger!

Guess who was "randomly selected for a more thorough search?"  You guessed it... Evan had every item in his computer bag and carry-on searched, and was patted down by security guards.  What did I do? I giggled!

More highlights in a couple of days from our trip!