Monday, November 4, 2013

Butterfly Birthday Party ~ Plus Pinterest Reviews!

Do you guys remember back in August when I was talking about my daughter's 2nd birthday party that was coming up?

Yeah, me either.
(I can barely remember yesterday!)

But I did talk about it, and at the time it seemed like her birthday was still soooo far away. But now it is over and done with, and I have some really cute stuff to show you guys!

So anyone who knows me well knows that I turn to Pinterest for everything. If I need a new recipe, if I'm planning a party, if I don't know what to get someone for their birthday, etc. My daughter's birthday was no exception. Here's the board I used for all the cute ideas:

Follow Eva's 2nd Birthday by Gela Smith on Pinterest

So let's start the pin comparisons! Here's the first one:

And here's mine:

The idea is relatively simple - you wrap up your various plastic utensils in a cute folded napkin and secure it  on there with candy bracelets. I had a couple initial problems with this one. The first one was that I could not find regular candy bracelets anywhere at first! I tried my regular local party store and all they had were candy watched and candy necklaces. But I FINALLY found what I was looking for at Oriental Trading - here is the link if you're interested. Now this listing is actually for candy bracelets with little "pool party" charms on them, and I just broke them off before I used them. I wanted those ones in particular because they were a more pastel color which is what I was going for, but if you don't mind the more vibrant colors than Oriental Trading also has regular candy bracelets without the charms here. Although I can't vouch for how the more vibrant colored bracelets taste, I can tell you that the "pool party" ones I got were really delicious - best tasting candy jewelry I've ever tried.

The second problem I had was folding the napkins all cute like that. I managed to do it ok, but once I put on the candy bracelets it didn't look so cute anymore. I had to wrap my bracelets around twice in order to secure them, otherwise they would just fall right off. That being said, when I wrapped them a second time it just scrunched up the cute folded design. So I decided to fold the napkins in half diagonally and roll them around the spoon instead and they still turned out really cute - I got lots of compliments on them, and even the adults had a fun time sporting their candy bracelets and munching on them throughout the party.

So it worked really well! I definitely recommend trying this.

Here's the next one:

And here was my version:

So I did a couple of things differently here. First of all, getting one specific color of candy is hard. You usually have to special order it from a place like the Candy Warehouse which I really didn't want to have to do. So I went to my local party store and bought a package of two colors of sixlets. I would have gotten more colors if they weren't soooo expensive! But I think they were worth it in the end. I also used much smaller vases that I just picked up from the dollar store. Then instead of leaving them as is, I added a little butterfly fan decoration in the top of each one (which I also got from Oriental Trading). They turned out adorable! At least, I think so - and apparently so did everyone else at the party because I got lots of compliments on this too. But the problem was that the fans didn't go in very deep and the candies didn't weigh enough to really keep them in place very well, so every little bump on the table made them fall over - not that my guests minded, though. They took them out and got into the candies inside before too long anyway. ;) Overall, a cute idea! It worked out well.

Ok, moving on:

And here's mine:

I absolutely love the way these turned out! I made much more than this of course, but I forgot to take a picture until a lot of them had already been scarfed down! Dang. But you get the idea. I used a star tip to ice the cupcakes in a spiral pattern to make it look like the butterflies were sitting on a flower, then I used my leftover sixlets to make their bodies and some yogurt covered pretzels for the wings! (I got my pretzels at Lin's near the bakery goods, but you could use Flipz or something similar as well, or even regular pretzels if you'd prefer!) These were pretty easy and self-explanatory, the only tip I really have about them is to make sure you put them in the fridge after you decorate them - the pretzels don't like to stay up at that angle when the frosting has warmed up some. I got plenty of compliments on this one as well - definitely worth doing!

And one more about the cupcakes...

I made them rainbow on the inside. Here's a pic:

So cute, right? I can't say I got a lot of compliments on it because no one really said anything! I was surprised!  (Maybe they were sick of handing out compliments by now, hehe!) But I thought they were absolutely adorable and the rainbow inside made them even more fun to eat! The only thing I really did differently was that instead of using all 6 colors in it, I only used orange through purple and iced the top with pink for the last of it. And let me tell you, I'm glad I did it that way. I don't know if you noticed in the original pin, but the tops of those cupcakes are kind of flat and protrude out a bit past the cupcake liner - that's from over-filling. By cutting out the top color it made them look so much better in my opinion. Just remember to only use a tablespoon or so if each color of batter if you want them to fit in the pan right! Then you can spread it around to the edges with a spoon - don't fill until it spreads to the sides on its own!

I think that's pretty much wraps it up, other than to show you a picture of the cute little star of the party!

Happy birthday my sweet 2 year old girl!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


So, I have been absent again lately.

But this time I have a good reason! I promise!

I finally crossed off a 101 in 1001 goal that I have been rather anxious about...

Go without the computer for 1 week straight.

I did it! I didn't turn it on at all, except for a few minutes at a time for paying bills, which doesn't count because that's a necessity and I didn't use that time to play around.

I fully expected to have some kind of self-revelation or something during my time offline, but the truth is... it didn't happen. At least not in the way that I thought it would. I thought I would spend all this extra time with my kids, get crafty, get the house clean... Didn't happen! None of it!

In fact, I realized that being on the computer wasn't the thing that was stopping me from doing all those things. I'm just tired all the time - being a mom is hard! This isn't news to anyone! Taking breaks from housework and babysitting to sit on my butt for a little while is what keeps me going! It keeps me centered and balanced and prevents me from completely wiping myself out with chores so that I'm too tired to do ANYTHING the next day.

Honestly, the thing that I missed most about the computer...
and this is kind of embarrassing...
was this.

You might not be able to tell from the "totally"s and "lol"s from my blog, but I am a pretty decent writer. I am also a gamer, and I happen to love The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a LOT even though I wasn't a fan of the previous Elder Scrolls games. I've been wanting to try my hand at a fan fiction for quite a while now, and I am loving this so far. My 101 in 1001 goal was to write 5 chapters of a fan fiction novel... I am now working on my 9th chapter. And you know what? People like it! People I don't even know have read it and are tracking it, waiting for me to post new chapters... That's an unreal feeling.

In fact, this is something I haven't told ANYONE before, but since you guys are so special...
I love being a stay-at-home-mommy
(ok that wasn't the secret)
someday when my kids don't need me as much, I actually would really love to go to college and become a writer. An author. A journalist... doesn't even really matter which. I just love it, you guys. I really do.

So I hope you guys will check it out.

I guess that's it for now! I will try hard to do something totally awesome to blog about in the near future!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Shop Update

I cannot believe that it has only been 5 days since I last posted talking about my 10th sale. My shop has been on fire lately! As a result, I am up to 12 sales now, and have done 2 custom orders.


So I decided to give my shop a little love to accommodate for all this extra business.

For starters I re-added the Made-to-Order section of my shop. I originally got rid of it because I wasn't even sure if the materials required for the bows that were listed were still sold in stores. But now I have gone over every listing and picked out the ones that I know for sure I can still make for people.

Because of this, I have a few new listings in my shop!

That first bow is actually new - it's a variation of my existing pink bow, but I actually did it as a custom order in white recently. The customer said it was for her little girl's baptism, and the thought struck me that I need to be selling this bow in my shop on a permanent basis. I mean, people have baptisms and blessings and such all the time where they need to wear white. (I'm not religious, so I didn't even think about it!)

The yellow and turquoise/brown bow are relisted items that I had previously sold but now know I have/can get the materials for to do again. So glad to have these adorable bows back in my shop!

There are a few others that i would like to relist in the near future, but still have to see if I can find the materials necessary to make them. So keep checking back in to see if I have added something new! I am getting very close to my 101 in 1001 goal of listing 25 items in my shop!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

10th Sale Celebration ~ Plus a New Halloween Bow!

I just crossed another couple of items off my 101 in 1001 list.

Fulfill 1 custom order.

Reach 10 sales.

I am so excited to finally be crossing these ones off my list! It was a big week for my humble shop! I had my first international sale, my first custom order, and my 10th sale all in the same purchase. It was such an awesome learning experience, and I am so happy to finally be seeing my sales in the double digits too! This is what I sent out:

This bow was already listed in my shop, but she asked if I could make her a 2nd one, which qualifies as a custom order! Not only that, it was sent to the UK! How awesome is that! Because of this I also discovered that my shop's international shipping rate was grossly inaccurate and had to change it. Whoops! Well, like I said - this was definitely a learning experience! My lovely customer also told me that these bows are being used by 2 excited bridesmaids at an upcoming Halloween wedding! So cool! I hope she sends me a picture!

So, since this bow was finally purchased, I realized I have NO Halloween products left in my shop! That is just outrageous - Halloween is one of my favorite holidays after all. So, of course, I had to whip up this beauty:

Candy corn bow! Hooray!

I think it turned out pretty stinkin' cute. Have you ever seen those little candy corn witch costumes for little girls? SO cute! I think this accessory would look really cute with something like that.

Well I guess that's it for now! I hope to be putting more Halloween bows up in my shop soon, as well as some CHRISTMAS stuff (yay!) so remember to keep checking out my shop which can be found on the right sidebar over here ------>

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Book Review - Fifty Shades Darker

I recently wrote a book review about Fifty Shades of Grey which can be found here.

I liked it so much that I immediately picked up the second book and blew right through it! So I figured I may as well write a review for this one, too.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Our story begins only a few days after the first book ends. I think this is great, as it allows you to see each and every moment of their relationship as it unfolds. It really creates a connection, as if you were in a relationship yourself - seeing it from every angle. I don't want to get into specifics about the plot because I don't believe in revealing spoilers during book reviews, but I will say that this book is much more action-packed and suspenseful than the first. It keeps you entertained from start to finish. As far as Fifty Shades erotic reputation is concerned, it definitely gets a little more risque in this book - but still probably not as bad as you might imagine. Even with the "S&M" stereotype that this book holds, all the sexual interactions in the book revolve around love first and foremost.

The sequel involves many of the characters that were included in the first, as it revolves around the same people. Christian and Ana are still the main characters, and they are joined by all of Christian's family in this book... as well as a few shady antagonists. This is a breath of fresh air, since the first book mainly revolves around Christian's lifestyle taking center stage as the "antagonist". As for this one, it seems he has made the jump successfully to a full-fledged protagonist, which leaves room for plenty of colorful characters to test Christian & Ana.

Like the first book, this one revolves mainly in Seattle. Although I would have to say that it doesn't give you quite the same in-depth feel as the first one does, it doesn't take away from the book any. There is plenty of other stuff going on - you really don't miss it much.

If you read my book review for the original Fifty Shades, you know I gave E.L. James a pretty hard time about her writing style. It seemed amateurish, jumped around a lot, and could be confusing at times. This book was much better. She improved a lot, I have to be honest. There were still moments where it could get repetitive - particular in the love-making scenes - but all-in-all it was better.

I give this book a 5 out of 5, which is amazing because in my last review I only gave the original book 4 out of 5. I could not put this book down. Upon finishing it, I definitely felt like the first book was only a stepping stone to get to this one. It was that good. I definitely recommend putting this book on your reading list if you haven't already.

Having finished the 2nd book, I will admit that I have begun reading the third book in the trilogy: Fifty Shades Freed. To be honest, I am not loving it so far. I am only a hundred pages in, but so far it has been torture to even force myself to read that much without giving up on it so I'm not optimistic about the outcome. I have made a promise to myself to finish reading it, though, even if only in the interest of being thorough. I sincerely hope that my opinion changes by the time I can write the review for it, but for now it may be hard for me to even find time to read it with school being back in session. (I don't attend school, but my son is in Kindergarten now so I must read to him longer every night for his homework, plus I have extra family responsibilities now that my love is busy with his 2nd year of college.)

Although I am reading my son the first Harry Potter book, so that's fun. =)

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pinterest Review - Rainbow Butterfly Footprint

You guys. My little girl is growing up way too fast.

I'm sure my fellow Mommies understand.

One minute they are a tiny little bundle of blanket in your arms, and then you blink and they are running around and speaking to you.

Believe it or not (I sure as heck don't!), my baby is turning 2 in just a couple of months. I know! Crazy!

So like the crazy party-planning-person I am, I have already started preparations for her 2nd Birthday Bash. Her birthday parties are especially fun because they are also my birthday party! (Our birthdays are only 8 days apart.) So this year our birthday theme is:
Rainbow Butterflies!

You can follow all my fun party prep here:

But today I am here to show you one pin in particular - 

Rainbow Butterfly Footprints

This pin originally comes from Sawdust & Embryos and it is such a fun, easy, not to mention ADORABLE project to do with your little girl of any age!

Notice how my pin says "but with pastel colors" - that is the beauty of this project. It can be done in ANY color(s). Here is how mine turned out:

Sooo cute!! It is totally fool-proof, too. Ok.... Maybe not totally. I will admit that we had 1 or 2 (or 4) "oopsie" pages first, but as long as you don't make any of the same mistakes we did you should be fine.

First - put the cardstock you are going to be using on a FLAT, HARD surface - we tried it on the bed first and the footprints didn't come out well at all. That resulted in having to re-ink Eva's feet which she wasn't terribly thrilled about. Second - (and this really isn't much of a tip, just more of an FYI) your child's feet will by dyed for a little bit afterward even after you wash the excess ink off... Just be aware of that before you start inking away! And third - just in case you are wondering, the ink pad that I used for this project can be found here

Hope you all have fun trying this one out with your wee ones, please let me know if you try it! I would love to hear what you thought, and I'd also love to know if there are any other tips or tricks that helped you make this project different, easier, or more fun!

Thanks for joining me! See you next time!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Review - Fifty Shades of Grey

I have had a new obsession recently. It has been consuming my days, and I have to reluctantly admit that my house is not in the condition that I normally keep it in because of it...


Ok! I am not a big reader, seriously. I pick up the occasional popular book - for example, I have read the entire Harry Potter series, the Twilight Saga, and the occasional Nicholas Sparks romance novel. I am pretty mainstream with my books, for sure. I just hate investing time in a book that ends up thoroughly disappointing me... I have been hurt before (thanks a lot, James Patterson...) so it's hard for me to commit to a book unless I have heard or read a fabulous review from someone I trust. And that is exactly what happened on our 4th of July visit back home, when my sister-in-law let me borrow/insisted that I read the Fifty Shades Trilogy.

I asked her what it was about, and she immediately started explaining it as if it were some crazy porno or something. At first I was pretty disgusted and didn't want to take them, but she insisted that I would like them and she knows me pretty well, so I took them anyway - fully intending to let them sit on my bookshelf and collect dust for a while and then to return them.

But the other day my husband decided to pick up a book. One of his favorites - Streams of Silver, the 5th installment of the Legend of Drizzt books. It is not unlike Lord of the Rings from what I gather. Regardless, I sat bored on the couch while he was reading and kept pestering him while he was trying to focus on it. Finally he suggested that I pick up a book myself. I told him I had nothing to read, and he mentioned the books that his sister had lent to me. I reluctantly agreed that I should at least try to read it - I figured that if things got too weird then I could always return them to her and say that I gave them an honest shot.

And to my surprise, I spent the entire day reading it. Then, I finished all 500+ pages by Day 3. Yeah, it was that good. I am now happily reading the sequel, and am almost finished with it. So for all you skeptics out there, here is my honest review of the first book.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Forget what others have told you, Fifty Shades is a romance novel, first and foremost. Basically, the book revolves around Ana & Christian. It takes you on a journey right from the start of their relationship and forward from there. To my unexpected and pleasant surprise, there was nothing even remotely erotic at all within the first 100+ pages. It was all sweet, basic beginning relationship stuff. It really allows you to care about the characters before it gets into any of that, so that by the time it finally comes around you actually don't mind so much. And don't be afraid, I know that Fifty Shades has a reputation of being a little risque, but trust me - even with the erotic stuff, it starts out totally normally. After all, Ana is a little naive in things herself, and she is new to all things sexual - she does not dive in head first, and thus neither do we.

Christian Grey is a young, mysterious millionaire business mogul who falls for Ana, an almost-college-graduate majoring in literature. We see things from Ana's point of view - she is the storyteller. She is naive and clumsy at times, but she loves old English literature and breakfast tea - she has an old soul and has never really experienced any of the breath-taking romance that she reads about in her novels. Enter Christian Grey, who is full of surprises and secrets - "Fifty Shades" of secrets - and this romance gets very interesting very quickly. But, you must dismiss all those notions you had in your mind about Mr. Grey being a domineering womanizer. He is incredibly sweet and playful, and at times even reminds me of my own husband. You really learn to love these characters - neither one too perfect, and very easy to relate to.

Fifty Shades is set in the Seattle to Portland area mainly, and the feel of the book really exemplifies that. It takes you there. It's a great book to curl up to with a cup of tea because you almost feel chilly as you imagine the hovering clouds in the sky with every page turn.

E.L. James has only written the Fifty Shades Trilogy, and I may not be an accomplished reader, but I still think it is apparent in her writing that she has little experience. Many phrases are used over and over again to describe things, and sometimes the scene can change dramatically in a very short period of time. The most notable time was when a phone conversation took place randomly, and James went through the process of scripting out everything that was said in the conversation, only to have that paragraph end and the setting change completely without having received any pertinent information from it at all. But beside that, she actually has a fun vocabulary that she uses to its fullest extent, which keeps it interesting despite the sometimes irritating and repetitive phrases. That being said though, be wary - this book has a potty mouth, too, which I honestly could have done without.

I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. Don't get me wrong, I am totally hooked. But the inexperienced writing, the fact that there is so much language, and the occasional spontaneous unnecessary story shifts make me need to dock a star. That partnered with the fact that there is plenty of erotic scenes in the book, some of which make me a little bit uncomfortable at times (A little bit! Nothing unbearable, and all based on their affection for each other). But I am completely in love with the characters and the romantic settings - definitely worth enduring some of the writing flaws.

So give it a shot, and let me know if you do - I would love to hear if you agree or disagree with my review. I have also heard that they are starting pre-production of a Fifty Shades of Grey movie. I am sort of excited for that, but I am worried about who they might cast - right now my hopes are on Alexis Bledel as Ana and Matt Bomer as Christian Grey. If you have read the book, who do you think should star in the movie?

Thanks for dropping by! I'm sure I will have another review for you shortly on Fifty Shades Darker - the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey - which I have almost completed. So stop back in for that!

"Laters, baby." - Mr. Christian Grey

Friday, July 26, 2013

101 in 1001 Update

Hello again everybody! Sorry I haven't been around lately again, but I recently returned from a week long vacation in Hawaii! 

It was fantastic! But I won't get into the details here. If you'd like to read more about my Hawaiian experience, you can do so on my other blog by clicking here.

While I was there I checked off a few more things on my 101 in 1001 list! It's been a while hasn't it? Here's what I did...

Fail miserably at something and look back on it as a valuable learning experience.

Yep, totally crossed this one off on my Hawaii vacation. The vacation itself was GREAT! But there was just one night that was a total nightmare. It's a long story, which can also be read on my other blog, but to make the story short I left something very valuable somewhere and ended up driving for 2 straight hours to retrieve it with 2 cranky kids in the backseat. Ugh! Lesson learned - I really need to keep better track of my stuff.

Do something COMPLETELY outside of my comfort zone.

Check! The whole Hawaii vacation itself was totally outside of my comfort zone. Ask anyone who talked to me before the vacation - I was a wreck!! I freaked out about every tiny little detail! And it was all for nothing. The trip was fantastic. I definitely need to step out of my comfort zone more often.

Wear make-up and do my hair every day for a week straight.

I vowed to myself that I was going to do this one while we were in Hawaii, and I actually did. And you know what? It didn't do what I thought it would for my confidence. The whole reason I put this on my list was because I thought it would give me a giant confidence boost. But you know what? I felt the same that I do every other day, even the days where I just throw my hair in a ponytail and get out the door for groceries. But that's not really a bad thing - I learned that I have a fair amount of confidence even when I'm not all dolled up, and that's even better in my opinion. I really, truly don't care what other people think of me! Hooray!

Eat at 10 restaurants I've never tried before.

So I didn't cross this one off, but I did add a couple more to the list. Surprisingly, we didn't go to that many new places while we were in Hawaii (mostly because I didn't want to take the kids to sit-down restaurants - yikes!). But we did try out the Plantation Grille at the Dole Plantation, and it was fan-freaking-tastic. Mmm. So good. And we also tried out BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse in Vegas on the way back home while visiting some family that we hadn't seen in a while. That was really great too! Something for everyone there. Eva scarfed down her meal like I had never seen before in my life. Whoa.

So I guess that's it for now. I have been noticing, though, that all of the goals on my fitness/nutrition/food list have been mysterious left alone.... I need to get on top of that!

Guess that's it for now~


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pinterest Review - Sweet & Sour Chicken

Hey everyone! As usual, I have been absent as of late. Busy with life and all that - the usual excuses.

But you all know I gotta come back and share when I come across an amazing pin from Pinterest! That's right -  time for another Pinterest review!

So, this pin comes from Made It. Ate It. Loved It. I am normally a little leery about Sweet & Sour Chicken recipes because somehow they always seem to be WAY WAY off of what I think it should taste like. I used to work at a Chinese food restaurant, so I'm used to the good stuff, people! But after looking over the ingredients list I decided to give it a try. It sounded the closest to what I remembered from working at that restaurant.

Now, in my previous Pinterest reviews I listed the ingredients and directions next. I have since been informed that it's impolite to do so, as it takes away from the web traffic of the original blog. Whoopsie! I didn't mean any harm by it, but just as a general rule from now on I will be simply providing the link to the original recipe and then listing what I changed (if anything). So here we go!

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Original recipe can be found here.

Sorry about the absolutely horrid photo quality. I wasn't originally planning on blogging about this recipe, so I didn't think to take any nice photos. This one is brought to you courtesy of my cell phone haha. But after eating it, I just had to share!! This stuff is absolutely great!

This recipe is pretty easy as it is, and as the pin said - you really do most likely have everything you need already in your pantry. The only thing I needed to buy was garlic salt. That's it. But this recipe also calls for uncooked chicken breasts that you slice up into cubes. That's all fine and dandy - if you want to do that, go ahead!! More power to you. However, I'm the epitome of a lazy cook, so I used frozen diced chicken. The only thing I did differently to accommodate for that is microwaving the frozen chicken first (ice crystals + hot oil = NO NO!) and then cutting the cook time in half. I don't think it made too much of a difference - the sauce might have been not quite as thick for mine, but it still thickened up pretty freakin' nicely after it had cooled a bit. Other than that, follow the recipe to the letter and you are good to go! Super easy. Super delicious. Your family and your taste buds will thank you! This one is getting officially added to my monthly dinner calendar!

Thanks so much to Made it. Ate it. Loved It. for this amazing recipe, I will definitely be coming back your blog for my future recipe needs!

See you all next time!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pinterest Review - Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies & Coffee Creamer French Toast

Oh, man!

Hopefully I'm not the only one who has been enjoying this beautiful Spring weather lately!

Our days have been filled with walks in the park and family fun since my son got out of pre-school earlier this month. It has been great! We live in Southern Utah on the border of Arizona so it's unusually warm here year-round, but I think it has been especially warm and nice lately. Goodbye, Winter! Don't come back too soon!

So today I have a couple of cool recipes for you all that I discovered on Pinterest recently. The first one is:

Coffee Creamer French Toast

The original recipe can be found here from Today's Creative Blog. I cannot even tell you how happy I was to find this recipe! I have been craving french toast lately even though I have never found or created a recipe that really satisfies me. So today I searched Pinterest looking for any french toast recipe to just get me through dinner tonight. I could not have been happier! 3 ingredients people! Three! Well, actually more if you count the optional cinnamon and use my modifications. But you get the drift.

4 eggs
1/2 cup coffee creamer of your choice
1 loaf french bread
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
butter (optional)

1. Crack eggs into medium bowl and whisk until well blended.
2. Pour in coffee creamer and cinnamon. Mix well.
3. On hot griddle or skillet, melt a small amount of butter. Dip french bread slice into egg mixture covering both sides, then quickly place in buttered area.
4. Let sit on medium to medium-high heat for approx. 1 minute, flip over.
5. Allow to cook for approximately 2 minutes or until golden brown, flip again.
6. Allow first side to finish cooking about 1 minute more or until golden brown.
7. Repeat process with all french bread slices.
8. Serve with syrup, whip cream, fruit toppings, or whatever you enjoy!

Now, the original recipe calls for International Delight's Cinnabon creamer, but any of your favorite creamer flavors will do. That's another thing that makes this recipe so fantastic - you can change the flavor any time with no extra hassle! I can only imagine how this stuff tastes with Pumpkin Spice creamer. Mmm!

The reason I added such detailed instructions about flipping the french toast is because I know for some people making french toast is like rocket science. I know this because I used to be one of those people. My french toast would always turn out soggy in the middle or burnt on one side etc etc. But this is the method I have created for perfect french toast. You see, when you place it on its first side, all that extra mixture is falling down toward the griddle and making it impossible for it to cook evenly. So you have to flip it over relatively quickly to prevent that from happening. By the time the other side is done, there isn't too much mixture left that isn't already cooked, so browning evenly isn't a problem when it's flipped over the second time. It's a science!

My own review of this recipe? I am never parting with it. Ever. It's so easy. 3-5 ingredients. The eggs blend easier with the thick creamer than it does with milk. Not to mention the fact that the french toast turns out sweet, delicious, and lactose free! That's a big one for me since I am lactose intolerant.

So here's our next one:

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this pin a while ago and have been dying to try it since I found it on Pinterest a week or so ago and read the list of ingredients. Yes, even the ingredients make these sound like a mouthful of heaven. This recipe is originally from Six Sister's Stuff blog and can be found here. I love the Six Sister's site! They are the masters of creative cooking and I bow down to them. Plus, they are based right here in Utah! Hooray!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oats (quick or old fashioned)
2 cups milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugars until creamy. 
3. Stir in peanut butter, vanilla, and egg until well combined. 
4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. Fold in oats and chocolate chips and mix until combined.
6. Roll into 1" balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

So I didn't change a thing to this recipe. It already sounded so good, I just baked as directed. The only notes that I have for you are to never ever use spreadable margarine for baking cookies. Ever. I truly and honestly believe that the only way your cookies will come out looking and tasting perfect is if you get real unsalted butter. I make a lot of cookies. In my family they call me "The Cookie Queen", and it's because mine always come out looking beautiful and staying soft without crumbling in your hand. And this is my secret. My personal favorite is Tillamook unsalted butter.. Use the real butter people. It's the only way. 

Then soften it the perfect amount. It takes between 30-45 minutes for it to be softened to perfect consistency. If you forget about it and it gets too soft, do not use it anyway. Put it in the fridge until it's right. If you don't have time to soften, do not put it in the microwave. You could jeopardize your whole batch of cookies. Just save yourself the hassle and grate it with a cheese grater instead.. Comes out perfect every time.

The only other note I have about this recipe is that the original says it makes about 2 dozen, but mine made almost 3 dozen. Not that I'm complaining. =)

And these cookies are good! Ridiculously good! They look just like regular chocolate chip cookies, but your friends/family/party guests will be in for a pleasant surprise! Peanut butter-chocolatey goodness and with a yummy oatmeal texture that gives it a little extra something. Loved it, loved it. Another point for the Six Sisters - this one's a keeper!

That's all I've got for you this time, but let me know if you try these out. Tell me what you thought! Give me some suggestions on them, or even suggest a pin for me to review if you've ever wondered if it really works.

Thanks for spending some time with me today!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Churro Cookies Review & Glad to Be Back!

Oh my goodness, the last few weeks have been insane! We have been running around like crazy in this house, but finally things are starting to settle down and I can hopefully update a little bit more often. Summer vacation is starting and we can finally take a little breather.

Like I said, I have been very busy with family responsibilities lately, so I haven't been doing a whole lot for my shop and the sales have really trickled down to almost nothing. I don't really mind, I have needed all the time I can get lately haha! But now that I have some free time I am hoping to make a few more cute, Summery bows. So keep an eye out for that!

As for today, I have a review for you all! As you all know, Cinco de Mayo was just a couple of days ago. Normally our annual tradition is heading over to Taco Bell for dinner, but this time my hubby was working and so I decided to make something instead. But I am a super lazy cook. I don't hate cooking necessarily, but I do hate being stuck in the kitchen for a long time when I could be spending time with my family. Because of this I am a huge fan of Betty Crocker's Helpers. They are so easy and great for when you don't have a ton of time. So I used one I've never tried before on Cinco de Mayo - Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper. It was one of the best I've had so far! It tastes like tacos, spanish rice, and nachos all mixed into one delicious bowl. Try it out if you are ever in the mood for some easy, delicious Mexican food.

But my review today is not about the dinner, it's about what I made for dessert! I 'like' Pillsbury's page on Facebook because I use their refrigerated doughs and such all the time for dinners (like I said, lazy cook here!) and they periodically post recipes that you can use their products in. The other day they posted one for Churro Cookies from Oh, Bite it! I love churros, and I thought this recipe looked promising so I tried it out. Here is the recipe I used, but you can find the original here.

Churro Cookies

2 pie crusts (made from scratch or packaged)
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Spread over one pie crust, then layer the other pie crust on top.
3. With a cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can manage, place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Gently press together all cookie edges with a fork to seal them.
5. Bake in oven for 12 minutes, allow to cool.
6. Mix together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
7. Brush top of cookies generously with melted butter and immediately dip into cinnamon sugar mixture. Enjoy!

Now, mine is a little bit modified from the original. For starters, I have to admit right here and now that I completely forgot to add the vanilla to the cream cheese mixture. I am super sad that I did because I'm sure it would have been delicious, but in the end I don't think it made too big of a difference. Also, the original calls for 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon. I looked at that and immediately thought that was a ridiculous amount. Even the 2 teaspoons of cinnamon that I used made the sugar a little darker than what I normally use. Another difference is that the original said to butter and coat both sides of the cookie with cinnamon sugar. I thought that was kind of overkill, and so I only did the tops and they were fine. You can do whatever you prefer, though. Oh, and one more thing - be sure to brush one with butter then dip it right into the sugar. Don't try to butter them all before you start dipping them - they won't retain as much sugar and the cinnamon sugar looks prettier that way.

The jury is still out on this one and whether I will be making them again. I personally don't care for pie crust. Never have. I like my pies with a cookie or graham cracker crust. Because of that, I didn't care too much for these cookies but I sort of predicted that from the beginning. My husband, however, could not get enough of them! The batch I made yielded 12 cookies, and I'm pretty sure my husband ate six. But he also loves pie crust, so I guess that's understandable. My 5 year old son loved them as well, but my 1 year old daughter licked the cinnamon sugar off and wouldn't touch the rest haha!

That being said, I think I am interested in making them again using sugar cookie dough. I am sort of worried that they would be way too sweet or even taste more snickerdoodle-y than churro-y, but I might still try it out and let you guys know what happens with that.

Feel free to leave any suggestions or tips in the comments below, and if you tried it then give me your own review! I'd love to know what you thought.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pinterest Review - Easter Edition

Happy Easter!

Whenever a holiday rolls around, our family always has fun traditions. However, that doesn't ever stop me from trying to find new activities and recipes to keep things interesting. Besides, if you come across a really good one and your family loves it... That's how new traditions are born!

So this year I turned to Pinterest. I don't know about you guys, but I am pretty picky with pins. I always like to look at the source first and make sure the pin leads to a good, valid, helpful source before it goes on my board. Sometimes I even Google the pin to see if others have already tried it and to see what their thoughts were on its ease, taste, etc. That made me think that maybe I should also be trying pins out and reviewing them so others can see what worked for me and what didn't!

Welcome to my very 1st Pinterest Review!

Bird Nest Treats

So this first pin I tried can be found here. It originated (as far as I know) from the Curvy Carrot. I made these yesterday and gave them to family and friends as an Easter gift. I have to admit, I didn't actually look at the recipe beforehand because I didn't really plan on making these, it just sort of happened. As a result, I ended up using slightly crushed pretzel sticks instead of chow mein noodles and also I didn't have any butterscotch chips to use so I stuck with milk chocolate and peanut butter. But this was the end result!

They ended up really cute! They held together really well, too. As far as the pin goes, they are not kidding when they talk about greasing the muffin pan beforehand. These things want to stick in there. But I used a generous amount of cooking spray instead of butter and they came out relatively easily that way. I also put the mini Cadbury eggs in the nests before they set up in the fridge. That just made them stick in there instead of roll around, which made more sense to me and it worked well. Overall, I am pretty happy with it! Taste-wise they taste like.... Well, pretzels in chocolate and peanut butter. Haha. Nothing too special about the taste, but still yummy.

Hard Boiled Eggs in the Oven

The second pin I tried was the claim that you can make better hard boiled eggs in the oven. That can be found here. This blog originally got this idea from the food science guru himself - Alton Brown. I love that guy, and that's what really pushed me into the decision to try it this year. Before that, I used this method for years and trusted it with every fiber of my being. Now I have to say... My heart may have been stolen by Mr. Brown's method.

So basically the pin says that you put raw eggs in your oven for 30 mins at 325 for perfect hard boiled eggs that are creamier, cooked more evenly, and easier to peel. It also mentions that putting the eggs on their sides will keep the yolk in the center and positioning them in a mini-muffin pan will keep them from rolling around. Then after they are done baking, you plunge them in an ice bath to stop the cooking and supposedly they are done to perfection.

After mine were cool, I sacrificed one to check that it had been cooked thoroughly. I cracked open the bottom of it and some watery liquid came out. I almost freaked out! I thought that they were sooo under-cooked that they were practically raw. But I was mistaken. I don't know what the deal is with the little bit of liquid that came out, but as I peeled more shell away (relatively easily I might add!) it revealed a perfect egg. The only difference I could tell between actual hard-boiled eggs and this baking method was this:

I know these pictures aren't very good, but you can kind of see a golden-brown discoloration on the bottom of the egg there. There wasn't anything wrong with it, it just looked like when you bake something in the oven and it gets a golden-brown color. It only got it on the bottom and in the two spots where it was touching the muffing tin. It doesn't bother me at all, but if you are making deviled eggs or something and it matters to you, I just thought it would be good to mention. However, these eggs are definitely the easiest to peel I have ever encountered (the peel doesn't slide right off like some pins say about it, but it's definitely easier), so if you are making deviled eggs and don't mind the discolored spots - I would still say this method is best because your egg whites won't end up with chunks missing. As for the yolks...

Ahhh... Beautiful! There is no weird raw-looking spot in the middle and absolutely no yucky green discoloration. They really were perfect. Amazing! They are so velvety and creamy too. So happy with them. I'm really not a yolk person, I will take scrambled egg whites over regular eggs any day, but these were really good.

So be brave! Try it out! This pin is Gela approved! ;)

Marbled Egg Dye

The last pin review I have for you today (I know! This post is already sooo long as it is! But hang in there, we're almost done!) is the marbled egg dyeing method that can be found here. The basic idea behind this one is that if you add some vegetable oil to your egg dye, you can swirl your egg around in it for a few seconds and get these gorgeous marbled, shiny eggs. Now, this pin was confusing because the information is messed up. On the actual pin it said to use one teaspoon of oil, then on the actual website it said to use one tablespoon. I decided to experiment and see what worked best.

First I tried the Tablespoon because that's what the actual website said. This is how it turned out.

Umm... Kinda weird and splotchy. I didn't really like it at all. So I tried it with a teaspoon instead.

Better! Now we are getting somewhere. I achieved this with the one teaspoon of oil, 10 drop of food coloring, 1 Tablespoon of vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water. Then I let it sit for about 10 minutes on the cookie rack before wiping it off. And when I did wipe it off, I didn't just pat it like the pin suggests. I rubbed it all around. This still doesn't match the amazing photos that the pin claims to have accomplished, but it also said to try swirling it around in multiple colors. So I did try that as well. This was the end result.

Now, I'm not gonna lie. This egg is pretty cool. And it did retain a little bit of shine even after wiping off the excess oil! But.... I still don't think it looks marbled, and it definitely doesn't match the picture from the pin at all. It's still a fun way to decorate eggs, but if you're expecting the amazing results shown in the photo.... Sorry kids.

You guys should definitely feel free to try out any of these methods and let me know how they worked out for you! In fact, if you got them to work better some how, please share with us! If you have any questions, I would love to help you out so feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Thanks for stopping by - hope you all have a fabulous Easter Sunday!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Overdue for an Update

Wow, you guys. It's been such a long time since my last post! I promise I'm still around and doing my thing, but things have been crazy over the past few months! Here's what's been happening...

I've crossed quite a lot more off my 101 in 1001 list! I realized yesterday that I had completed one of them, so I went to update my blog and realized I had crossed off quite a few things! Here they are...

62. Take a nice new family portrait.

Hooray! We took this one for X-Mas cards. Turned out pretty cute! And my little ones sure have grown, haven't they? I'm a proud mommy.

68. Plan our 1st family vacation.

This is beautiful Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii. It's where we will be spending a week in July. We have lots of fun stuff planned! Attending an authentic luau, taking our kids to the zoo and an aquarium, visiting the Dole plantation, and so much more. Not to mention the fact that it will be the very first plane ride for both the kids AND and the hubby! Yeah, it's going to be great. We are stoked.

37. Make a new friend.

See that nice lady in the middle there with the party hat? That's Alisa. See the two cute little boys on the bottom left? That's Vincent and his new best friend Kadon from pre-school. Alisa is Kadon's mom, and through their friendship I finally made a new friend here in St. George. She's been awesome, she always goes out of her way to help me out and is just kind in general. I know I seem outgoing and cheerful on the blog (because that's who I am on the inside!), but in reality I am a very introspective, shy, awkward person around new people and that has always made it difficult for me to make friends. That's what makes me so much more grateful for her friendship!

Here are some other ones that i completed that don't have fun pictures to go along with them....
7. Organize photos on computer. Seriously.
60. Unpack all boxes from moving.
64. Buy a new vacuum. (Technically we didn't BUY a new one, we got one as a gift. But it still counts because it actually WORKS and I love it!)
65. Go on a family picnic.
87. Vote in an election and actually KNOW who I am voting for and why. (I followed the last presidential election very closely and ended up voting for Obama. I don't like to discuss politics with people I love - like you guys <3 - so I won't go into detail, but I just have one word for you.... Equality.)
89. Donate to a charity. (My cousin runs a 5k like once a week I swear, and she is always raising money for charities so I donated finally. It went towards a pet rescue.)
90. Donate blood twice. (actually I have donated 3 times and am planning on continuing every 8 weeks!)

Well I guess that's it. Sorry I have been absent for so long. I will definitely try to update more often. Thanks for all your support!