Well, Hello!

I’ve been blog-negligent again.  I suck and I’m sorry… :*(

However, to make it up to you all, I have decided to share a recipe for the most amazing cupcakes ever to come out of my kitchen. 

I have always been a sucker for “Samoas”.  If you don’t know what Samoas are, they are chocolate, caramel, coconut goodness wrapped up in a donut shaped cookie.  They are like cookie crack, and they are pushed by some of the most dangerous dealers… Girl Scouts.

The other day on Pinterest (if you don’t know what “Pinterest” is yet, check it out) I ran across a recipe for Samoas Cupcakes.  I nearly pee’d myself with excitement.  I mean, cupcakes… great!  Samoas…. awesome!!  Samoas Cupcakes…. OMGosh!  Honey, catch me while I pass out!!  Needless to say, I was ecstatic 🙂

So, please, take this token of apology and make these babies up ASAP!  They will not disappoint.

SAMOAS CUPCAKES

Aren't they pretty?!?

(adapted from The Novice Chef)

For the Cupcakes

  • 2 cups  sugar
  • 1-3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons coconut flavoring
  • 1 cup coconut, packed
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350° and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. Add in eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, and coconut flavoring.  Mix well.

4. Fold in coconut, then add boiling water.  (Batter will be very thin)

5. Pour batter into muffin tins, filling each cup no more than 3/4 full.  Bake at 350° for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for several minutes, but then remove cupcakes from tins on cool on a wire rack.

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel topping
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Cream butter until fluffy.

2. Add in vanilla extract, salt and caramel topping.  Slowly add the powdered sugar into your mixture.  If icing is still too thin after 4 cups, add a bit more powdered sugar.   You want it light and fluffy, not too dense.

3. Wait until cupcakes are completely cool, and use a pastry bag to ice the cupcakes.

To top the Cupcakes

  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  • dark chocolate chips (I used Kroger brand “chunks”)
  • caramel topping for drizzling

1. Toast coconut by placing shredded coconut on a cookie sheet and baking it on 300 for about 15-20 minutes.  Mix/turn the coconut every 5 minutes to make sure it toasts evenly. 

2. Once the coconut is toasted and has cooled, place a dab on the top of each cupcake (about a tbsp).

3. Place 3 (or so) dark chocolate chips on top of the coconut, pushing them down slightly to “stick” them into the frosting.

4. Drizzle caramel topping on to the top of the cupcake.

Now eat.  Enjoy.  Repeat.

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Consume less, share more and live more simply

Happy Earth Day!

 

In years past, I have set goals for myself every Earth Day.  Do this, don’t do that, use less, reuse more…. Looking back at past goals, I realize that I didn’t accomplish every single goal I made, but as a whole, I consumed less, shared more and lived more simply.   So from now on, that is the goal.  And anyway I find to accomplish it should be celebrated.

Here are this weeks Four Fabulous Finds…. Earth Day style!

I just love these biodegradable pots from RushofWings.  Made from recycled newspaper…. awesome!

 

I love terrariums, and I love vintage ball jars.  So of course, I love these Large Vintage Ball Mason Jar Terrariums by DoodleBirdie.  I think I need one for my office 🙂

 

Not only do these adorable Dryer Sheet Sachet Pillows tell you to love the earth, but they are also made with recycled t-shirt sleeves and chemical free ingredients!   Just one of many ingenious earth friendly items from zJayne.

 

I don’t know about you, but I love getting gift cards for presents.  There is nothing like the gift of shopping!  However, did you know that around 17 billion plastic credit cards and membership cards are produced every year; the majority of which end up in the landfill when they expire.

Most credit cards are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is a petroleum-based plastic, currently non-recyclable.

EcoPix has found a great way to recycled these cards!  Their guitar pics are not only functional, but pretty darn awesome if you ask me! 

Preparing for Valentine’s Day

I have been really busy preparing for Valentine’s Day!  Besides adding some new, valentine-themed items to my Etsy shop, I have also been decorating my home for the holiday.  Yes, I decorate for Valentine’s Day!

My favorite “decorations” that I adorn my living room with in preparation for February 14th are some vintage “Valentines” that once belong to my grandfather and great-grandmother.  I only have 4, but I have them in protective frames and display them on my mantel every year.  My favorite is this sweet, but small, heart-shaped valentine that was addressed to “Frankie”… otherwise known as my grandfather Frank.



It is just too sweet!!

I also have a Valentine that was from my Great-Grandmother addressed to my Great-Great-Grandmother.  What treasures!

Here are a few photos items that I have recently created and listed in my Etsy Shop.

 

And there will be more to come!

Worky-Work… Busy Bee!

I still haven’t quite been able to meet my goal of posting here at least once a week, but I’m working on it.  As soon as Christmas is over, I am hoping it will become much easier.

In the mean time, I though I would share some of the items that I have been working on…

My “Choose Your Color” Recycled T-Shirt Necklace has been very popular this holiday season.  It has been featured in numerous treasuries and blogs, and even made it to Etsy’s daily email “Etsy Finds”.  I have received an immense amount of exposure because of it!

Considering each one is custom-made, I have been keeping extremely busy with orders for these.  Each necklace takes me several days to put together.  Here is a pic of (just) one I just finished this week…

I also have been working on some wedding jewelry for a friend of mine.  She is having a destination wedding in Hawaii and I am putting together a necklace and some earrings for her big day.  Here is a picture of the necklace…

And for those of you that don’t know, my daughter Angela has been working really hard on her Etsy shop, The Germaphobe.  She is currently selling the most amazing goats milk and shea butter soaps!  Scents like Apple Pie, Pumpkin Vanilla Cheesecake, Hot Cocoa and Creme Brulee have been filling our basement!  She is also selling sugar scrubs and sanitizers – and they all smell wonderful!!  Check her out!

If I don’t make it back her next week, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

x0x0,

Tera

Hosting a Bunco Party!

So, I know it was over a month ago, but I am just getting around to sharing about the lovely Bunco party that I hosted in July.  

I play Bunco every second Tuesday of the month with a wonderful group of ladies that were introduced to me by my sister-in-law.  Each month a different person hosts, and in July, it was my turn.  

Now anyone that knows me, knows that I love to host a good party.  I love to cook for people, and I LOVE to give gifts.  Lucky for me, one of the tasks of hosting a Bunco party is finding gifts to use for “prizes”.  I was so excited to do this, because this year I was determined to find all of my gifts handmade from Etsy.  Even better, I decided that all the gifts that I would buy would be handmade from members of my Eastern Washington Etsy Team.  The trick was finding things within the very limited budget that we are given when hosting the party.  I was going to have to put on my super frugal hat for this task!  

I chose items from 3 of my fellow EWAT members; Sentimental Stones, Orangethyme and Sagegold Soaps.  Each of these 3 sellers had great products, all different from each other and all within my budget.  

Sentimental Stones is an amazing shop run by Kim Murphy in the Spokane Valley.  Kim is a total sweetheart and an amazing artist.  She makes jewelry, coasters, magnets and other items from tile.  She also makes the cutest magnetic boards, which look so lovely with her tile magnet sets.  Lucky for me, Kim was running a special deal for 5 of her 2″ stone magnets (exactly how many I needed).  I chose 5 different designs that I thought would appeal to everyone.  They were absolutely beautiful, and extremely well made.  I couldn’t have been more happy with my purchase.  

Memo board with small magnet set (4), one 2" magnet and 2 coasters

Visit Sentimental Stones at http://www.etsy.com/shop/sentimentalstones  

   

My next purchase was something I was really looking forward to.  I had been ooh-ing and ahh-ing at this shop for quite some time.  Rachael O’Brien at Orangethyme makes the most amazing lip balms, soaps and perfumes and she has a second shop where she creates some beautiful jewelry pieces.  I myself had been dying to try her lip balms, so I decided that they would be a wonderful addition to my prize packs.  With scents like Creme Brule, Peppermint, Sangria, Pomegranate Lemonade and much, much more… how could you go wrong?  They were absolutely tremendous and such a HUGE hit!  

Lip Balm from Orangethyme

 You can pick some up for yourself at http://www.etsy.com/shop/orangethyme  

or visit her jewelry site at http://www.etsy.com/shop/rachel323  

  

Finally, I decided to purchase handmade soaps from Sagegold Soaps in the Tri Cities.  Kerry Biglin at Sagegold has amazing soaps and always has a great offer in her shop – 4 bars of your choice for $15.  All I had to do was purchase the 5th bar and I had one for each gift!  The big dilemma was choosing just 5!  They all sounded good enough to eat!  

Now, when the package came in the mail, I immediately opened it up and spent the next few hours just “sniffing” the soaps.  They were amazing!  They were deliciously fragrant, but not overbearing, and they were packaged beautifully.  

Sagegold Soaps

You can see Kerry’s shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/sagegold  

   

In addition to these gifts I threw in a pair of earrings made by me, and then I packaged them up in colorful tissue paper and some cute little decorative take out boxes.  The winners were very please.  And the losers… well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m jealous!!  

   

In addition to providing the prizes, the hostess also provides dinner and dessert.  Below is the recipe for my Margarita Ice Cream Pie – which was also a huge hit!  

Ingredients:  

1 (1.5qt) container of no sugar added vanilla ice cream 

1 (6oz) container of frozen concentrated limeade 

 1-1/2 cups crushed pretzels (I stick mine in the food processor to get a fine mix) 

 3/4 cup melted butter or margarine  

1/3 cup sugar  

 1 container cool-whip (thawed)  

2 shots of tequilla (optional)  

I prefer to use  a spring-form pan (like you would use for cheesecake) for ice cream pies/cakes, but a deep dish pie pan will do as well.   In medium bowl, combine the crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar. Press into the bottom of your pan until you have a thick, flat layer.  Freeze for about 30 minutes. 

While the crust is freezing, in a medium-sized bowl, spoon in small scoops of the ice cream.  Add limeade concentrate and the tequila if desired (this doesn’t cook out, so if you are serving kids or pregnant women, you may want to leave it out).  With electric mixer on low-speed, beat just until blended. Pour over frozen crust, carefully smoothing it out to form an even layer.  Cover and freeze overnight. 

The next day top with the Cool Whip and freeze an additional 30 minutes or until ready to serve.   Serves 8-12 people.  Or 4 in certain families… 1 if I have had a really bad day…

Choose Your Colors – Recycled T-Shirt Necklace

I have recently added a new feature to my shop.

Recycled T-Shirt Flower Necklace – Made to Order – Choose Your Colors

Recycled T-Shirt Necklace - Choose Your Colors

 There are currently 11 flower colors to choose from (this may change due to colors selling or more colors becoming available).  In addition to choosing the flower color, you can also choose which color you would like the coordinating ribbon to be. 

Don’t miss this chance to own a truely unique necklace customized to your own style!

Why I Love Handmade

“Handmade items appeal to trend setters, not trend followers” – Unknown

I know, I am bias… but I love to buy handmade! 

Handmade Bracelet by Creativity is Messy

I started to think the other day about all the reasons I would rather buy a handmade item over something mass-produced.  I was amazed with what I came up with.  I posted the question in a forum and received even more feedback.  I decided to share some of these reasons here in my blog, hoping to inspire others to consider buying handmade as well.

  • When you buy handmade, you are purchasing a unique item, make with love and care from an artisan. 
  • When you purchase something from the mall or a big-box store, you are buying a mass-produced item made by machines in a factory, or even worse, in a sweatshop with unethical work practices. 
  • Handmade items have a personal touch.  A lot of handmade items are OOAK (one-of-a-kind).  Even if the design is reproduced buy the artisan, oftentimes there is still a uniquness to each piece.  
  • Mass-produced items are exactly that… Mass-produced.  You could buy the exact same shirt, or bracelet, or picture, or whatever that a million other people bought that day.
  • Buying handmade supports crafters and artists.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a lot of crafters and artists that are rolling in the dough.  Not everyone can make it big like Martha Stewart.  Most of us do what we do because we LOVE doing it.  Not for the money.  I doubt that the CEOs of Wal-Mart can say they don’t care about the money.  I doubt that the reasons they open hundreds of new stores each year, selling cheaply made, sub-par products, driving away millions of dollars from small business is simply because of their LOVE of buying crap and reselling it to the consumer.
  • Handmade items are often made with quality materials by expert craftsman.  They usually last longer, look newer and better longer!
  • Handmade items can often be custom-made to specifics made by you, the buyer.
  • Handmade items are now easier to buy.  There is no need to wait for the next craft fair!  With sites like Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet and many others, you can buy handmade from the comfort of your own home! 
  • Customer service!  If you ever have an issue with the product that you buy, you deal with the person that made the item… not some person behind a customer service desk or even worse… over the telephone!  You deal with someone who cares because they take pride in their work.  You deal with someone who wants you to love the item as much as they loved making it.
  • I began my post with this quote “Handmade items appeal to trend setters, not trend followers”.  Be a trendsetter!  Be an original!  Don’t settle for cookie-cutter!  Be OOAK!
  • Buying handmade is cool! 

 And lastly…

I actually can’t give enough reasons to buy handmade.  It is something I am extremely passionate about.  My favorite reason is because I love to give unique, one of a kind gifts.  I love giving something to someone and listening to them when they say “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool!”  I hate giving something as a gift and listening to them say “Oh, I’ve seen these” or “I have one just like it” or “(someone else) has one just like it”.  For me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. 

I had a wonderful Aunt by the name of Joyce.  She was one of the most amazing women I have even had the pleasure of knowing.  She was strong, smart, beautiful, talented, independent, creative, stylish… I could go on and on.  I always looked up to her – and still do. 

Joyce was the most amazing gift-giver!  She would get me some of the coolest, most unique items as gifts.  Not everything she gave me was handmade, but most often it was.  I use to look forward to every holiday, just to see what would come in the mail from her.  Even as an adult, I would get giggly with excitement when ever a package from my Aunt Joyce would come.

Unfortunately, my Aunt passed away 6 years ago after battling breast cancer.  In her memory, I have tried to adapt many of her life philosophies, but especially her passion for gift-giving.  I always try to find unique and modern items for gifts.  I always try to find  or make items that no one else has, but that fits the personality of that person.  I love to see the look on people’s faces when they open the gift and “get” how unique that particular item is.  I love seeing that look, because I know exactly how that person is feeling. 

There are so many reasons to buy handmade.  I am sure there are many I left out.  I hope that one of these reasons touches you and inspires you to buy handmade as well.

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