Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflecting On 2011

2011 was amazing and I'm grateful for every moment of it! I'm so full of excitement as I look forward to 2012.
Some of my favorite moments from 2011...

Visiting Animal Acres in Acton


Learning to share :)


Happy 1st Birthday my Love!



Many Mondays spent at the beach




Moving into our new home


Visiting Newport Beach with Family



Pa's Pumpkin patch



The Holidays



Have a wonderful New Year and I wish for you all many blessing in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

DIY Glass Ball Ornaments with Picture Inside

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Babygirl and I made these for our tree and her Grandmother this year. We will do them each year with an updated picture and handprint.

I bought the balls at Michael's. They had 2 sizes and these were the larger of the 2. I measured babygirl's hand up against the smaller one and it was too small, so we went with these.


First, we did the handprint, so they could dry overnight. I used puffy paint and I really like the way it turned out. The paint is slightly raised, so that you can actually feel the handprint on there. I annotated the date next to the handprint for keepsake purposes.


After that dried, I inserted the photos. You want to cut your picture a little larger than the ball diameter, so that the picture stands up on the inside.


Roll your pic up and insert with the picture toward the outside of the ball.


I used a drink stirrer to help position once the pic was in. You could use the eraser side of a pencil or even a chopstick to do this. Open the pic and push the sides of it toward the glass, so that it sticks into place.


*Note* If your picture is the wrong size or you don't like the way it's fitting, it's very easy to poke a pair of needle nose pliers into the top of the ball and pull the picture out. It rolls into itself and comes out easily.

Finish them off with some decorative ribbon or even some charms.
All done!
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Gift Boxes

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I make a variety of goodies to give to family and friends each Christmas. Mostly it's edibles, but sometimes it's body treats or homegoods as well.

Last year was, Cardamom granola squares, Lavender Truffles, Cookies and Cream Truffles and Chubby Hubby Cups.

Year before that it was Granola Gift Jars and Soy Aromatherapy Candles.

This year is Chai Spice Cookies and Assorted Chocolates!



Cran-Chia Fudge Balls
You could add anything into these fudge balls that you like. I used some cranberries and chia seeds for added crunch.

2c semi sweet chocolate chips
1tbs coconut milk
1tbs canola oil
1/3c dried cranberries
1/4c chia seeds

Melt chocolate and milk in a double broiler or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in oil until combined.
Fold in berries and seeds.
Roll into balls and Enjoy!
Store in the fridge.

Coconut Almond Cups
These are very reminiscent of an almond joy!

Makes 12
2c semi sweet chocolate chips
1tbs canola oil
muffin or cupcake liners
muffin or cupcake pan

Filling
1/3c manna coconut spread
1/3c coconut milk
1c chopped toasted almonds
1tbs almond butter
4tbs agave syrup
1tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8tsp salt

Line pan with liners and set aside.
Mix all filling ingredients together and set aside.
Melt chocolate and oil together over a double broiler or in the microwave. It melts quite quickly, so be mindful not to burn it. Once all the chocolate is melted, you can start making your cups.

Use about 1tbs per liner. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out chocolate. Make sure the bottom is covered as well as up the sides of the liner. I go about 1/2 way up. if you want a thicker cup, go all the way up.

Once you have all 12 done, put them in freezer to set. Takes about 5 minutes.
Remove them from the freezer and add a dollop of filling to the middle of each cup. Cover the filling with your remaining chocolate and smooth out over the top. Be sure the whole thing is covered. Return to the freezer to set.
Once they have set, you can enjoy them!
Store in the fridge.

Peanut Butter Cups
Makes 12
2c semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4c smooth peanut butter
1tbs canola oil
muffin or cupcake liners
muffin or cupcake pan

Filling
3/4c smooth or chunky peanut butter mixed with 1tbs agave syrup.

Line pan with liners and set aside.

Melt 1st 3 ingredients over a double broiler or in the microwave. It melts quite quickly, so be mindful not to burn it. Once all the chocolate is melted, you can start making your cups.

Use about 1tbs per liner. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out chocolate. Make sure the bottom is covered as well as up the sides of the liner. I go about 1/2 way up. if you want a thicker cup, go all the way up.

Once you have all 12 done, put them in freezer to set. Takes about 5 minutes.
Remove them from the freezer and add a dollop of peanut butter to the middle of each cup. Cover the peanut butter with your remaining chocolate and smooth out over the top. Be sure the whole thing is covered. Return to the freezer to set.
Once they have set, you can enjoy them!
Store in the fridge.


Writing her own messages of love inside the boxes :)

All ready to go


Happy Holidays!
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Soft and Chewy Chai Spice Cookies

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I've made these before for cookie exchanges and thought they would make a great treat to box up for family and friends.
This is a soft, chewy cookie and the smell of them baking is intoxicating! They're great on their own or with a nice warm cup of tea.

Makes 2 dozen cookies
1 1/2c white whole wheat flour
1c oat flour
1tsp salt
1tsp baking soda
1 1/2tsp cardamom
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ginger
1/3c earth balance
1/3c firm coconut oil
1/2c coconut milk
1c brown sugar
1tsp vanilla
4tbs corn starch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix flours, baking soda, salt and spices together and set aside.
Cream together earth balance, oil and brown sugar. Add in milk, vanilla and cornstarch. Mix until light and creamy.
Add dry ingredients to wet a little at a time until just blended.
Roll cookies into balls and flatten out on an oiled or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Bake about 6 minutes or until just golden brown.
Enjoy!

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Roasted Peppers

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I love roasted peppers! Peppers are good on their own, but roasting them gives such a wonderfully sweet smokey flavor. I picked up a bag of poblanos at the farmer's market and wanted to roast them for tamales. You can roast any peppers that you choose. I've also done red peppers and anaheims and they were delicious as well.

To roast, I stick a fork into the pepper and roast over the stove on a high flame. If you have an electric stove, you can do this in the oven under a broiler or also over an outdoor grill.

Be very careful not to get the handle of the fork too close to the flame. Rotate your pepper through the flame until all sides are blackened.



Once you have roasted all the peppers, let them sit until cool. The blackened skin easily peels right off.


Don't rinse your peppers in water once they have been roasted and skinned! You will lose all of your flavor if you do that.


Remove the seeds and use the pepper right away or store for later use.
I freeze them and also pickle them to use in cooking throughout the year.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas came early!


KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer
Isn't it lovely?

I thought that I might not ever own one of these. It's kind of a big purchase for a kitchen. Whenever I fantasized about purchasing one, I always told myself to just use more elbow grease to whip and blend things up.

What a suprise it was, when Mr. Crafty came walking into the house with this beauty. It's a Christmas gift from him and my MIL. He says he wanted to give it to me early so I could use it for all the Holiday baking and cooking that I do...I think it was, so he could get even more home cooked goods out of me ;)

Already, I can tell the difference in my baking. This thing whips up batters and stuff like nobody's business. I love looking at it and hearing it go!

Everytime I'm in the kitchen, I rub the top of it and pet it like a new puppy.
DD loves it too. When we walk past it in the kitchen she starts "Wowing" like we just opened the box again!



Whoever said don't buy your mate kitchen gear for Christmas, obviously doesn't know me. I'm in Love!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Infused Liquors, Pear Spice Vodka

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You can infuse liquor with pretty much anything you like. The nice thing about it is you can be sure it's a natural flavoring and not an artificial one. I was inspired by ABC Vegan's post about Drunk Fruit :)
This is great sipped on over ice or you can use it to make a wonderful cocktail!

Pear Spiced Vodka
1 liter or so of good vodka
3 pears cut in quarters
3 allspice balls
4 pieces of uncrystallized candied ginger
5 cloves
1 star anise
1/4 a vanilla bean
1/2 a cinnamon stick

Put all ingredients into a glass container and mix it up.
Cover and let sit for 4-6 weeks. Vacillate the jar at least one per week while it's infusing.
After 4-6 weeks, strain through cheese cloth, kitchen towel or nut bag. Transfer to a clean and dry glass container and store covered. The alcohol keeps for about a year. After that, it starts to loose it's infused flavors.

Be sure your cover is air tight.

After about 2 months, the color and flavor has deepened.

I used some repurposed bottles to package this and the Strawberry Infused Gin in for gifts.


The tops of my bottles had some writing stamped on them, so I used these perfectly sized stickers to cover that.
Turned out nicely and I didn't have to buy anything for packaging.
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Infused Liquors, Strawberry Gin

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You can infuse liquor with pretty much anything you like. The nice thing about it is you can be sure it's a natural flavoring and not an artificial one.

This is great sipped on over ice or you can use it to make a wonderful cocktail!

Strawberry Infused Gin
1 liter or so of good gin
1 lb of chopped strawberries
1/4c cane sugar (my berries were not very sweet. you may want to lessen the amount with sweeter berries)

Put all ingredients into a glass container and mix it up.
Cover and let sit for 4-6 weeks. Vacillate the jar at least one per week while it's infusing.
After 4-6 weeks, strain through cheese cloth, kitchen towel or nut bag. Transfer to a clean, dry glass container and store covered. The alcohol keeps for about a year. After that, it starts to loose it's infused flavors.

Be sure your cover is air tight.

After about 2 months, the color and flavor has deepened.

The berries lose all their color to the gin.

I used some repurposed bottles to package this and the Pear Spice Vodka in for gifts.

The tops of my bottles had some writing stamped on them, so I used these perfectly sized stickers to cover that.
Turned out nicely and I didn't have to buy anything for packaging.
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Organic Body Butter Giveaway


All the White Chocolate Body Butters have been sent to the Give Away recipients. I checked my list twice, but if you don't receive yours by next week, please let me know.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

DIY Cross Body Hobo Bag

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I thought a nice hobo bag would be a good gift for my teenage daughter in law. I had been wanting to try my hand at bag making, so this was a perfect opportunity. I previously purchased 2 fabrics that I thought she would like and wanted to use the both of them, so I decided to make it reversable.
After surfing the net for a good tutorial, I came upon this one at Simply Modern Mom. Her instructions were very clear and her pattern was quite simple. I used her pattern, but cut it bigger and I wanted different straps, so I made up my own.

Making this was a lot of fun and I hope to do another soon!
I apologize for the pics in advance. Some of them were taken with my cell phone.

Straps Instructions:
These were made to fit my DIL. Adjust the length measurement to fit you and where you want your bag to lay. Also, take into account the D rings and tabs length.

Cut 2 pieces of fabric that are 3ft 11in long, 4in width.
Fold in the top and bottom edges 1/2in toward the wrong side of the fabric and iron down.
Then, fold in the sides toward the wrong side of fabric, so that they meet in the middle and iron in place.


Once you have done this on both pieces, lay on top of each other, folded sides in. Sew down the length of the fabric about 1/4in in.



Tabs:
Cut 2 pieces of fabric that are 6in length, 2 1/2in width.
Fold in sides 1/2in toward wrong side of fabric and iron in place.
Cut each tab in 1/2 across, so that you have 4 tabs that are 3in long.



Putting them together:
Wrap one of your tabs around the flat side of your D ring.
*Note* I used a D ring that was too big for my tabs, so I switched to a smaller D ring after these pics were taken. I just used needle nose pliers to widen the open side and slipped the fabric out and then slipped the smaller ones on.
Next time, I will pay attention to the size of my tabs versus the size of my rings. The fabric needs to be wide enough that it can't easily slip around on the D ring.
You sew, you learn!

Place the edges of the tab into your unfinished bag arm about 1/2 in inside.
Sew across, securing the tab inside. Sew across again.



Wrap another tab around the curved side of your D ring.
Place the edges of the tab inside of the strap about 1/2in inside.
Sew across, securing the tab inside.




Do the same thing for the other side of the bag.
That's it!
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