Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Easy Holiday Latte

I love my Keurig, but I have found myself at Starbucks a lot more recently, for one simple reason: I am a sucker for holiday flavors. I love pumpkin spice lattes, gingerbread and caramel brûlée lattes, and peppermint mochas. In order to save a little money, I've been trying to create holiday coffees that I can make at home, without buying special syrups. 

My old stand by is an easy pumpkin spice latte. I brew a Cafe Escapes Vanilla Latte kcup and stir in a little pumpkin pie spice. My newest favorite flavor is the gingerbread cookie latte. It starts with the vanilla latte, which is a pretty good base because it is creamy, but lends itself well to adding other flavorings. Then I add some ginger and cinnamon, and before I stir it all up, I stick the end of my stir spoon in molasses, stirring the molasses and spices into the latte all at the same time. 

I'd love to hear your favorite coffee recipes, feel free to share!

I'm done!

I'm all done with my Thanksgiving baking! Now, before you go rolling your eyes and shooting me dirty looks, you should probably know that I started a couple of weeks ago and have been freezing some of it, so I didn't have a ton to make, plus I've got big plans tomorrow - lunch and "Catching Fire" with my sister, and an afternoon of cookie frosting for the big game on Saturday (go Bucks!), so the Thanksgiving stuff had to get done today.

Here's what I've made:
Pioneer woman pumpkin cinnamon rolls (honestly, the best cinnamon rolls EVER, you can find the recipe on the Pioneer Woman website)
Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
Molasses cookies
Cranberry Chocolate chip tarts

I made cranberry chocolate chip cookie bars last year at Christmas time, and couldn't wait for Christmas to make them again. This year I used the cookie dough to make a tart and filled it with the chocolate chips and fresh cranberries. These couldn't be the more perfect mix of tart and sweet, love them!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Awesome resource

I spent most of the day updating our website for work (check it out:, and today I have to say that I am so super thankful for  Honestly, I can manage my way around the computer, blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, etsy selling, I've got it all covered. Creating a website, however, was not something that I was familiar with, and to be honest, it scared me a little. has been the answer to all of my questions. This site not only offered free website hosting, but you can also create your own website using all of their templates and graphics, import your own photos and graphics, and wix partners with other sites to offer "apps". The apps allow me to connect my wordpress blog to the website, stream YouTube videos on the site, and even share Pinterest Pinboards right on our school website. 

The whole thing is a drag and drop format, so it couldn't be easier, especially for someone like me, who wants it my way! There are different packages available, and you can even create and publish your website for free. We opted for the premium package so that we could use and connect our own domain name, but for all of that, plus additional backgrounds, layouts, and apps, we only pay $100 a year. 

If you are in the market for a website check out I absolutely love it!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Strike out

I had it all planned, I was going to blog about how I made French bread this afternoon. I was going to talk about how I was dying for meatball subs, but I didn't have any buns or any good bread at all really. I kept trying to think of something else to make for dinner, and then it his me, duh! I can make my own French bread!

I was planning on telling you where I got the recipe, and sharing how easy it was, but then, well, I'm still trying to figure out what happened...

I've made bread before, lots of bread, I'm no stranger to using yeast. And the recipe that I found on Pinterest had a lot of great reviews, and it really was easy, but it tasted nothing like French bread, it didn't really look like it either.  It didn't taste bad, we used it to make meatball subs, which were wonderful, but I can't very well recommend a eclipse that I will never use again.

I'll just stick to buying day old French bread from the grocery store. That's all I've got for you today. Oh, no, wait, I did finish my fingerless gloves, they turned out cute huh?!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sewing day

Today was my favorite kind of day, a free day to spend sewing!  I'm almost done with all of the Christmas gifts that I wanted to make,  so today I let myself on a few projects that I wanted to do for myself - kind of.

We just got a Hancock fabrics dangerously close to my house, and they had a great sale yesterday, so I splurged on some fun fabric for a new tree skirt. This isn't a traditional tree skirt by any means, it's for the tree that I put up in my studio. I love this tree because I get to decorate exactly how I want! which means the entire thing is purple. Last year I didn't get to put the tree up because the base was broken, but my husband fixed it for me last night, so it is up and ready to go, with a purple ruffly tree skirt. 

I promise that I'm not the kind of person who decorates for Christmas before thanksgiving, in fact I love decorating on the day after thanksgiving, so I'll add all of the ornaments then.

I made a tree skirt for our tree in the house last year, and I definitely learned a couple of things in the process. That one was quilted, and while it turned out beautifully, I don't have that kind of time, so I went with a more simple pattern for my studio tree.. The other thing that I remembered from last year was how hard it was to make the skirt a perfect circle. I spent some time thinking about it, and let me tell you, the solution that I came up with. Is genius, if I may say so myself.

For this tree skirt I placed the fabric on top of the round table in my studio and cut using the table as a stencil. It was so easy! That worked so well that I actually had the patience to measure all of the ruffles for the border. I love how it all turned out - although I may do a little research on how to biase bind the inside circle, because that was a total disaster! Oh well, you win some, you lose some :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting in the spirit

Though it may not even be thanksgiving yet, it is the Christmas season according to Starbucks. The red cups are back, and when I went to Starbucks for coffee last week, I found myself with a conundrum that could really only happen to someone like me.

You see, I have an adorable re-usable coffee sleeve that my best friend bought for me, it is bright and springy, and I have used it as a pattern for similar sleeves for fiends and family, but I always use the same one.  I like things to match - it's part of my aesthetic OCD - and when I went to put my cute pink and teal coffee sleeve on the red Christmas cup, I nearly had a mismatched meltdown. I know, only me.

Of course this meant that it was time to break down and make myself a new Christmas coffee sleeve. It turned out really cute, and I was super excited to use it, until I realized that my sleeve had bright cherry red, and the Starbucks red cups are a darker, deep red this year. I can't seem to win, but at least I got in the same seasonal theme and color family, and it is still really cute!

Staying cozy

It's been getting chilly around here! This has me on my annual hunt for the perfect gloves. I found my stash of gloves in the closet early this fall, and I told myself that I wouldn't need to buy any new ones this year. Ha! Of course the fact that I don't NEED them just makes me want new ones even more!

I' be been searching for just the right pair, and I can't seem to find them anywhere. I have a few criteria, I want them to be fingerless so that I can use my phone, and the problem that I keep running into is that the fingerless gloves all have covered thumbs - I don't know about you, but I do 90% of my texting and swiping with my thumbs. Plus, they have to be cute, I'm not willing to spend money on something that's not cute!

Since I haven't been able to fund exactly what I want in the store, I decided to make them myself. There's my type A personality for you, I can do everything best if I do it myself...

We got our first snow of the season, which has motivated me to finish these, this is an in-the-middle-of-the-project photo.  I can't wait to show you the finished product, I have visions if lace and buttons and complete girliness!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An experimental experiment

I've been working on a project for our county 4H program, a project book all about one of my favorite things - baking cookies. This afternoon i tested out an experiment that is part of the project (I figure its a good idea to try it myself before asking a 9 year old to do it).  You can find all kinds of variations on this experiment all over Pinterest, basically, i use different amounts of ingredients, different baking times, and different baking temperatures to show the effect that each variable has on the finished cookie.  my variables, and therefore my results, are fairly over-exaggerated, because I want the effects of each ingredient to be well understood.

1. The first cookie is the control - this cookie has the proper amount of all necessary ingredients, and has baked for the correct time.

2. The second cookie has too much flour. Not only did it not spread out, it is also rock hard.

3. The third cookie has too much shortening, which melted and burned during baking because there was too much for the flour to absorb.

4. The fourth cookie was baked at the correct temperature, but for too long.  It is hard, and burnt all of the way through.

5. The fifth cookie was baked at a temperature that was too warm.  The edges are burnt and crispy, and the middle is dark, but very soft. It did not bake evenly.

6. The sixth cookie was baked at a temperature that was not hot enough.  The cookie is too soft to pick up, and is not cooked all of the way through. 

I'm glad that the experiment worked the way that i wanted it to, but I was really sad to have to ruin 5 cookies in the process, it hurt to throw those in the trash!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy distractions

The approach of the Christmas gift giving season makes it very difficult for me to share all of my fun crafty diy projects. Mainly because they are meant for my friends and family who may or may not read my blog. 

This year is going to be a mostly DIY holiday, due to the fact that I am on an extremely fixed income, and also because I have had ample amounts of time to craft. It has worked out really well, and I'm slightly jealous of the adorably cute things that my favorite people will be receiving. I'm also incredibly thankful for the distraction that all of this crafting has provided.

You see, I have a tendency to be a bit of a worrier. You could say that I have a little anxiety problem, but so much of what I have to worry about at the moment is completely out of my control. I have been fighting hard to keep up my faith, and having fun distractions has been a saving grace! 

Of course, I have made some cute stuff for myself, whenever I make a gift I like to make a practice one first, for a couple of reasons. #1: I want the recipient to get a really nice gift, so I try to work out the kinks on a practice project first, and #2: the stuff I make usually ends up being so ridiculously cute that I want one too. So I figure if I make the practice one for myself, everyone wins (please tell me that I'm not the only one who does this!)

So thank goodness for Christmas crafting and hopefully I can get back to work soon!

Friday, November 1, 2013

How I spent Halloween

The weather at my house was perfect for Halloween (maybe not perfect for trick or treating...) it was stormy and really windy. I probably should've watched a scary movie - although Scream is about the worst I can stomach - but I didn't. Instead I spent halloween doing two very un-halloween-ish activities. First I worked out (who works out on halloween?!), and then, I made some Christmas decorations. Yes Christmas decorations. What can I say, I had nothing else to do. 

Here's a photo of the painting that I made to hang in my kitchen this Christmas season. I think it turned out pretty good considering I NEVER paint , at least not since high school art class. Enjoy your candy-induced-day-after-halloween coma, and don't forget about Thanksgiving, which according to the calendar is the next major holiday, even though most department stores beg to differ!