Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DIY- A Year of Memories Ornament

I want to make one of these every year! Write down things that happened within the year on strips of paper, then curl them with the blade of a pair of scissors. Create a cute, dainty tag with the year on it and hang it on your tree. Make a new one each year to remind yourself of all the wonderful things that have happened in your life!

A Year of Memories Ornament

- a clear glass ornament
- a pair of scissors
- a blank sheet of white paper (or whatever color you'd like to use)
- some ribbon
- a small tag with string
- something to decorate tag with
- glue (I used E6000)


Step 1: Cut strips of paper from blank sheet. Write memories from the year on each of them. I wrote some of the bigger things as well as some little, sillier things.

Step 2: Curl strips using blade of scissors by pulling strips between finger and blade in a quick motion. Remove metal top from ornament and feed strips into opening on the top.

Step 3: Replace top and tie ribbon around metal piece (I glued mine on to make it easier to tie). Tie bow in ribbon.

Step 4: Attach decorations to tag using glue and tie tag around metal top under the bow. Repeat once a year =)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tomorrow is Cyber Monday!

I'm doing a promotion for my ETSY shop. All items will be free shipping within the US.

You can also use the code CLCCYBERMON to get an additional 15% off!

Expires 12/4/11

Saturday, November 26, 2011

DIY Glitter Ornaments

These ornaments are cute and extremely easy to make. Floor finish is the secret material used in this project that works surprisingly well. The best part is, with one bottle of finish, you could probably do this project every year for the next 10 years since each ornament uses so little of it! I originally saw this on a link on Pintrest but was unable to find the link again.

DIY Glitter Ornaments

- Clear Ornaments (I ended up doing a total of 6 for this project, 3 medium sized, and 3 smaller ones- all bought at Michael's)
- Glitter (I used about 1/2 - 3/4 of a 3.5 g vial for each ornament)
- Floor finish (I got a large bottle from Walmart for under $6)
- glove to protect hand, newspaper to lay on work surface, container to pour excess finish into

Step 1: prepare your space by placing newspaper over area you will be working on. Make sure you have a container to pour extra finish into since it is hard to pour it back into original container while working quickly.

Step 2: pop metal top off ornament. Put on glove and pour enough finish into ornament so that when shook, it can completely cover inside of ornament. Place finger over opening of ornament, making sure you've sealed off the top, and shake vigorously until entire inside is well coated. Pour extra finish out into container. You want the inside to be pretty wet, so you don't need to get every drop out.

Step 3: pour in vial of glitter, cover hole with gloved finger, and vigorously shake again until entire inside is covered evenly. Pour out excess glitter back into vial. Originally, I tried to pour in a little glitter at a time but I noticed that parts of the ornament were less covered because finish dries extremely quickly. DON'T add more finish after glitter is inside. It will add lines where the liquid runs down the sides and cannot be covered well again.

Step 4: let dry for about an hour and carefully replace tops. Pinch wires close together so that they do not rub the sides of the ornaments when pushed back in.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving with amazing food and loved ones!

I will be posting a new craft this weekend!

I will also have a Cyber Monday sale on all items at my ETSY store so stay tuned for the code!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

This recipe is the perfect combination of sweet and savory!

I LOVE this soup. As written, it is only so-so but with the addition of 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar, it transforms into amazingness! This is coming with me for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow!

Cream of Pumpkin Soup (original recipe here)
Servings: 6 (about 1 cup each)
Time to prepare: 10 mins. Time to cook 20-30 mins

- 3 tablespoons margarine, softened
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
-1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 to 1/2 Cup brown sugar (add until happy with taste)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F(200 degrees C). Combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Spread butter mixture evenly over one side of each bread slice. Place bread, buttered side up, on a baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until bread is crisp and topping is bubbly. Cut each slice of bread into 8 small triangles or squares.

2. Sauté onion in butter in a medium saucepan until tender. Add 1 can chicken broth; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

3. Transfer broth mixture into the container of a blender or processor. Process until smooth.

4. Return mixture to saucepan. Add remaining can of broth, pumpkin, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground pepper; stir well. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally..

5. Stir in whipping cream and heat through. Do not boil. Add brown sugar, tasting as you go until desired level of sweetness is reached. Ladle into individual soup bowls. Top each serving with Cinnamon Croutons.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

I currently have this wonderful cheesecake baking in my oven. I will include pictures with this recipe later, after it has baked and cooled in the fridge overnight. The original recipe can be found here on one of my favorite sites, Allrecipes.com.

I did try the cheesecake filling before adding the eggs and could tell that when done, this cheesecake would be AMAZING.

Here's the photo from Allrecipes until I upload my own photos (Update: I horribly overcooked this cheesecake and, although it tasted great, it looked really, really brown...):

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Servings: 16 (small slices)

Time to prepare: 30 mins. Time to cook: 1 hour 30 mins. Time to chill: 4 hours


- 38 Ginger Snaps, finely crushed

- 1/4 cup finely chopped Pecans (I omitted due to nut allergy)

- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted (I did half and half)

- 4 (8 ounce) packages Cream Cheese, softened

- 1 cup sugar

- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

- 1 teaspoon vanilla

- 4 eggs


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F

2. Mix crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.

3. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour into crust.

4. Bake 1 hour 20 min. to 1 hour 30 min. or until center is almost set. LEAVE OUT UNTIL COMPLETELY COOL (I missed this step). Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

UPDATES: 1 hour and 20 minutes was too long at 325. Next time I will lower the temp AND remove sooner. Once the cake is done, don't throw it into the fridge immediately. Wait for it to completely cool to room temperature and then place in fridge. Some people swear by water baths for cheesecakes. It seems complicated though since a springform pan will let the water in.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Phyllo Pumpkin Pie Bites

These were truly amazing. The phyllo adds a wonderful crunchy textural juxtaposition to the creamy pumpkin filling. I only made four as a test batch and couldn't help but gobble them all down in under 5 minutes. These had a nice and rich sweetness to them which made it different than yesterday's post on Pumpkin Dip for Gingersnaps.

And, I found pre-made miniature phyllo bowls (found at Fresh and Easy) so I didn't have to spend the time handling the phyllo dough myself.

Phyllo Pumpkin Pie Bites (original recipe here)
Servings: 8 bites
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes


- 8 phyllo dough sheets (or pre-made phyllo bowls if you can find them)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spices
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk (I used whole milk but the original author used 1%)


1. Thaw phyllo dough sheets according to directions. Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin pan.

2. Mix all ingredients besides phyllo dough together in a medium bowl.

3. Layer two sheets of dough on top of each other. Cut in half. Then fold that half in half so that you have a square. Line muffin cup with square shaped phyllo dough and spoon about 2 tablespoons of mixture into cup. Continue this process until dough is used up. This recipe makes enough for 8 cups/bites but is easily increased if you have more pumpkin.

4. Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes until phyllo dough is browned on the edges and pumpkin mixture is just set. Let cool in muffin pan for at least 10 minutes to set.

*These are best enjoyed the day they are made otherwise the phyllo will get a bit soggy even though the pumpkin pie inside will still taste fine.

Enjoy and be sure to make enough so that everyone gets a few. Trust me; you can't just have one!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Dip for Gingersnaps

This was really, really good. It tasted almost like pumpkin pie but had the zing of the gingersnaps to make it something uniquely special.

I didn't have electric beaters so I used a whisk and sheer womanly strength to make it as creamy as possible. Still, there were small pieces of cream cheese throughout which didn't affect the taste but did make the presentation less awesome. So, use electric beaters or an electric mixer for this if you have them!

Pumpkin Dip for Gingersnaps
Servings: Dip for around 6-8 people as an appetizer or snack
Time to prepare: about 5-10 minutes (if you have electric beaters or an electric mixer, longer if whisking)


- 4 ou. cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half since I am not a big fan of the richness of heavy cream)
- 3/4 cup pureed canned pumpkin
- 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spices
- 1 TBSP maple syrup, plus more to top
- lots of gingersnaps (around 40-50)


1. Using beaters or an electric mixer, whip together cream cheese, pumpkin, powdered sugar, and heavy cream for about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add pie spices and maple syrup and whip 2-3 more minutes until smooth. The longer you whip, the more fluffy it becomes.

3. Pour into serving bowl and top with maple syrup and a crushed gingersnap. Dip gingersnaps in and enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's all about the pumpkin- 4 recipes I plan to try this week

I have a confession... I'm not a huge fan of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. The one thing I do look forward to is the use of pumpkin in recipes. I love pumpkin and usually find about 50 recipes I want to try for the Holiday. I usually only get to try one or two per year.

This week, I'm going to try to make four different recipes starring canned pureed pumpkin as the main ingredient. I will do a post on each throughout the week and the winners will go with me to Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Here's what I'll be trying (links to original recipes are in titles of each recipe):

Day one (Tomorrow - Sunday):

Day two (Monday):

Day three (Tuesday):

Day four (Wednesday):

Cream of pumpkin soup (I noticed thatthere are lots of modifications suggested for this recipe, read reviews before attempting to make)

I'm looking forward to making these!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Tea Cakes

Pineapple upside down cake was not a favorite of mine growing up. It wasn't until I gave it another chance in adulthood that I realized how awesome it really is.

Like I've said before, it's just me and my fiancee in our home so we don't need a whole cake to ourselves. So, I went on a search to find individual sized cakes. This recipe utilizes a muffin pan to make miniature versions of upside down cake. It is quite yummy and pretty easy as well =)

I got the original recipe from here. The original recipe uses Splenda. I personally choose to never use artificial sweeteners in any of my cooking. Aritificial sweeteners are usually chemically modified and have been linked to a number of health problems. I'd rather stick with using granulated sugar in moderation.

Pineapple Upside Down Tea Cakes
Time: 15 minutes to prepare 15-20 minutes to bake
Servings: (6-8 tea cakes)


- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup yogurt (no fat free/low fat or will be drier)
- 3 TBSP butter, melted
- Dash of vanilla
- 1/2 cup flour
- 6 TBSP sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking Powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1 can crushed pineapple (the smallest you can find because you will not use it all)
- melted butter and brown sugar for top of cake (about 1 tsp per cupcake cup)
- pinch of salt
- candied cherries (glace cherries) OR blueberries with confectioners' sugar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees C)

2. Brush melted butter in muffin pan. Sprinkle each cup with 1 tsp brown sugar. Add a cherry (if you are using blueberries, wait until cakes are baked to add to top), followed by 1 tsp crushed pineapple.

3. Whisk together egg, yogurt, vanilla, and melted butter. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and pinch of salt. Whisk well.

4. Divide mixture evenly into cups.

5. Bake at 350 degrees (or about 25 degrees lower in a gas oven) for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool after removing from oven.

6. Carefully remove tea cakes from greased cups (I used cupcake molds which made the process much easier). If using blueberries, top each cake with blueberry and confectioners' sugar.


Check out my other dessert recipes:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Award Winning Chili

This is by far my favorite Chili recipe, and I've had a lot of chili in my life! I found it on allrecipes.com here. It is now my standard go-to recipe for chili. The people that I have made it for always love it and I am often asked for the recipe.

The best part is that it's easy! I've been craving warm, hearty meals since the weather has gotten cooler, so I made this last night. Yum!

Award Winning Chili (originally named Deboozie's Blue Ribbon Chili)

Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 (original recipe claims 8 but won't fully fill up 8 decent sized bowls)

- 2 Pounds ground beef
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic salt
- 2-1/2 C. tomato sauce (I usually buy low sodium sauce)
- 1 (8 ou.) jar salsa (I use mild Pace salsa)
- 4 TBSP chili seasoning mix (I use McCormick)
- 1 (15 ou.) can light red kidney beans (I use low sodium)
- 1 (15 ou.) can dark red kidney beans (I use low sodium)

Toppings (optional):
- cheese (I usually do a Monterrey jack/cheddar blend of grated cheese)
- Sour cream (I use low fat)
- Fritos (a personal favorite)


1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine beef and onion and saute about 10 minutes or until beef starts to brown and onion is tender.

2. Add all other ingredients (except toppings) and mix together. Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour or more (I usually cover the pot to keep it from splattering everywhere).

3. Serve with favorite toppings!

It's that easy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beaded Peacock Feather Earrings - DIY tutorial

Fun, easy, and waaaayyy less expensive than what you'll see in stores!

Love it? Make it or buy it

I LOVE peacock feathers. Everything about them is awesome. They have the coolest natural color combination, they shimmer, and they are huge! Peacock colors have inspired some of the bracelets and other jewelry I have made. I love them!

Here we have a super cute pair of earrings. They are relatively easy to make and don't require many supplies. Peacock feathers are pretty cheap, especially if you order them from overseas via Ebay.

What you will need (with links! Sorry for the white boxes, I'm not sure why they are there and can't seem to get rid of them):

- 2 Foldover Clamps (This links to an amazon product to make it easier to find, but you can also find these at Michaels, you just have to search)

- 2 peacock feathers, about the same size. (here is a link to Matched pairs peacock feathers on Amazon. They are more expensive than other places you can get them online, but they claim to match the size and pre-pair feathers together, which is helpful).

- Peacock colored beads with holes big enough to go through end of feathers (I used deep purple, teal, and light green Chinese rondelle crystal 8mm beads. I found all beads on Ebay)**.

- Earring wires (I usually buy mine on Amazon or Ebay, here's a link to some that are a pretty good price, but you get a lot... Silver Plated Earring Hooks)

- Chain nose pliers with teeth (can be bought at craft stores or hardware stores, or if you prefer online shopping: Pliers)

- Scissors

** Chinese rondelle crystal beads are often fraudulently sold on Ebay as Swarovski crystal. They are beautifully shiny crystal beads but they are not really Swarovski.

Step 1: Cut peacock feather stems a few inches from the circular part of feather (see picture to better explain). rip off pieces of feather so that you have about 1 inch of a smooth strip.

Step 2: Grab strip with pliers and (this is hard to explain) crunch strip to make it more pliable and easier to string beads on.

Step 3: string beads on in preferred order (I did purple, teal, green on mine).

Step 4: Turn feather over and place tip in foldover clamp. Holding end of feather steady with one hand, use pliers to fold over each side of clamp. Give strong squeeze after both are folded to make sure that the clamp is flat. Make sure the feather doesn't bend over in this step or else it will hang sideways- fold each side of the foldover clamp slowly and carefully to make sure it dangles straightforward.

Step 5: Use pliers to open earring hooks and place feathers on using the loop on the foldover clamp. Close earring hook with pliers and you're done!

Step 6 (optional): trim bottom of peacock feathers with scissors to shorten.

Buy these at my Etsy store!