Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Easy Valentine Chocolates

Looking for a homemade chocolate treat for your Valentine? These chocolate peanut clusters are super delicious AND they take only 3 minutes to make!


1 bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
1 bag of chocolate chips (use your favorite)
1/2 bag of Heath toffee chips
1/2 can of honey roasted peanuts

  1. Pour peanut butter chips and chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave chips for 1 minute. Stir. Return to microwave for an additional 1 minute.
  2. Remove and stir until smooth.
  3. Add Heath toffee chips and peanuts.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
Place them in truffle papers in a box, or wrap them up in a clear cellophane bag for party favors!


I Love You Because... Chalkboard

This past Christmas I received this cute homemade chalkboard from my sister and her husband. This is one of my favorite gifts. I especially love it around Valentine's Day when I'm thinking of all the reasons why I love my husband (and my kids).

Think of all the reasons you love your "loved one" and let them know! You don't need a fancy chalkboard (though it is super cute) to show your love. Use simple Post-it notes or Valentine Day cards.

What would you write today?

If you would like to make your own board, I can tell you that it is a thin piece of wood spray-painted with chalkboard spray. The border/frame is made also from wood trim. The letters are vinyl. The outcome is cute!

Big Sister, Baby Sister

One of the greatest machines that I own is my embroidery machine. I love it especially when it comes to personalizing gifts. It makes a world of difference when something is personalized.

This is my third set of shirts I've embroidered recently. This set is for my sister who's expecting her 2nd baby girl in a couple weeks. I can't wait to see my nieces in these!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Baby Shower Game: Guess the Powder

There are a lot of baby shower games out there. One of my favorites that is really easy to put together but is challenging if you're playing is "Guess the Powder."

Object of the game: Identify as many household powders as you can.

Set up: Fill 10 small, empty baby food jars with household powders such as baking soda, baking powder, corn starch, powdered sugar, cream of tartar, flour, laundry/dish detergent, powdered milk, baby powder, baby formula, etc. Number the jars 1-10. Make sure you make a key to check answers.

Pass out a pencil and paper to each player. Have them number their papers 1-10 or print out a game card here!

Playing the game: Players pass the jars around and write their guess on their paper. The number of the jar coordinates with the number on their paper.

Levels of difficulty:
You can make this game difficult by having the players only LOOK at the powder through the jar.
Make it moderate by letting the players open the jar and smell and/or touch the powder.
Make it really easy by letting the players taste the powder, though I don't recommend it.

Winner: The one with the most correct answers.

Donut Hole Topiary Tips

I've been finding some very cute ideas on Pinterest. I LOVE the donut topiary idea. I decided to give the topiary a try for a baby shower brunch. It turned out okay but there are some tips that I'd like to share if you decide to try it out. There are some things I would do differently.

#1: Instead of wrapping your styrofoam cone in wax paper, choose a nice wrapping paper that matches the theme. Then, when people start picking the donuts off there will be a cute cone underneath and not a dumb ol' white cone.

wrapping paper vs. wax paper

#2 Stick the toothpicks in one at a time and put the donut on right after the pick is in. Stick the toothpicks closer together. You will feel like you are squishing them in but it looks so much better. Donuts are pretty forgiving so adjust the donut if you need to so that there aren't a lot of gaps.

non-squishing vs. squishing a little

#3: Instead of putting a donut on the very top, put some kind of decoration on the very top. Maybe a cake topper, or some ribbon streamers, or a flower. Also, if there are some little gaps that you don't like, try putting some tiny silk flowers in the gaps.

Donut on top vs. something cute on the top

My next topiary will be darn cute!

This post was part of The Shady Porch Rock N' Share. For other fantastic posts and ideas from the blogosphere, check out The Shady Porch!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Valentine Mailboxes

This year for Valentine's Day I'm doing something fun for my husband and 3-year old daughter.

I found these two mailboxes last year. This year I'm putting little cards and treats in them each day leading up to Valentine's Day. When the flag is up, my husband and daughter will know to check the mailbox.

I grabbed one simple box of Valentines per person and wrote a reason why I love my husband and my daughter on each card. I used up all the cards.

My husband is getting some of his favorite treats. You may notice the chocolate bars from our previous chocolate tasting date and the cute love coupons from yesterday.

My daughter is also getting some special treats (from the dollar store) that will fit in her mailbox.

I love Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Darling Debit Cards

I love Valentine's Day. I love the colors, decorations, candy, and all the lovey dovey stuff. I found these darling gift card-like love coupons at the dollar store. There are 4 cards in a pack and there are 4 different packs. What a fun find!

Usually when I see "love coupons" they usually entail a really expensive coupon like "a weekend getaway" or "day at the spa." And then there are the absurd coupons like "you win an argument" or "servant for a day." ??

Anyway, back to the love. I like these love coupons because they are easy to do and are fun to do! Pick the ones you are willing to do. If you don't have money for a night on the town, don't give that one. Maybe save up and give it for a birthday!

Or you can get really creative and create your own "night on the town" cheap-o style. My night on the town would probably be an In-N-Out picnic dinner, a walk at the harbor, and star-gazing with blankets on the beach. Let your creativity fly!

If anything, these are good ideas to create your own coupons or just little things you can do for your significant other.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All-Bran Muffins: An Extra Delicious Version

Back to breakfast! Here's another healthy idea for breakfast (or for a snack). I like bran muffins and I like to make them quickly. Kellogg's has a great recipe for bran muffins using their All-Bran Original cereal. It's pretty good. However, I'm not a fan of the oil in the original recipe and I'd like it to be a little bit tastier. So, I've modified it a little bit.

The following recipe is an adaptation of Kellogg's All-Bran Original cereal muffin recipe.


1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups Kellogg's All-Bran Original cereal
1 1/4 c. skim (fat free) milk
1 egg
1/4 c. UNSWEETENED applesauce
chocolate chips (This is where the extra tasty part comes in. It also makes the muffin a little more moist.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine Kellogg's All-Bran Original cereal and milk. Let stand about 2 minutes or until cereal softens.
  4. Add egg and applesauce to the milk and cereal mixture.
  5. Stir well. Add in flour mixture and mix well. Add chocolate chips to liking.
  6. Portion evenly into 12 muffin pan cups coated with cooking spray. (DO NOT USE CUPCAKE LINERS! The whole muffin will stick to the paper!)
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

It will look mushy when you mix everything together. It's supposed to look like that.

When they come out of the oven, they will look delicious!

What to do with the leftovers before you eat them all? Put them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. They will reheat nicely tomorrow morning. Wrap a frozen muffin in a damp paper towel and reheat it in the microwave. Now you have breakfast for a week or more!

Ruffled Streamers!

I'm throwing my one-year old a birthday party and hosting a baby shower for a friend this week. I'm cutting my costs by making my own decorations.

You've probably seen the cute ruffled streamers on Pinterest. There are 2 pins in particular. One is a difficult version and the other is an easy version. It was time to try it out.

I went to the MADE blog for the easy tutorial.

I followed the directions and set my sewing machine at 5.0 for the length of my stitches and turned up the tension to strong. I also put my streamers on a wooden dowel to keep my streamers from getting all tangled and twisted. IT WORKED GREAT!!!! It started ruffling on its own!

After I was done ruffling, I rolled my new streamers up nicely to store them until the party!

They just look so pretty. I'm totally reusing these for Valentine's day!

  • If you are using a wooden dowel (which I suggest you do) make sure that your roll of streamers are about the same size. I tried using a small roll and a large roll on the same dowel, not thinking, and had a little tangled mess on the dowel.
  • The smaller the circumference of the dowel, the better. I found it a little difficult to slide the dowel through some of the tighter-wound rolls of streamers.
  • Decide ahead of time how long you want your streamers. Since you are sewing, once you cut the thread, the stitches will begin to fall out unless you begin and end your stitches with a back stitch. If you decide your streamers are too long and you want to cut them, one way to get around this problem is to tape off the the threads where you want to cut with some clear tape. Then cut down the middle of the tape so that the threads stay taped down and the stitches don't begin to unravel.

Chinese Vegetable and Chicken Dish

The past 2 days I've shared a breakfast and lunch loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables. Today I'm sharing a dinner loaded with fresh vegetables. It feels like the right thing to do.

If you like Chinese food, this meal will not disappoint. My 1-year old and 3-year old like this meal too. I love recipes that the whole family enjoys.

This recipe is a little long but it's pretty simple. You can also make most of this ahead of time and throw it together last minute for ultimate freshness.

Ok, let's do this!

Here is what you will need:

Chicken Marinade:
2 breasts of chicken
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 drops sesame oil
Tabasco or hot sauce (optional)

1 clove garlic (chopped)
1-2 Tbsp. oil

Vegetables of choice:
snow peas
water chestnuts
red peppers
bok choy
bean sprouts

Vegetable Sauce: (double this if you have A LOT of veggies)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2/3 cup water
1 tsp. chicken broth bouillon granules (or 1 mashed bouillon cube)
2 tsp. oyster sauce


1) Prepare marinade in a small bowl.

2) Cut up chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to marinade. (This can be done ahead of time or last minute. The chicken does not need to marinade long. I like to have it marinade for a couple of hours just because I like the flavors to soak a little bit).

3) Cut up your veggies of choice into bite-sized pieces. I used mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, bok choy, red pepper, and water chestnuts this time. I like A LOT of veggies.

4) Prepare vegetable sauce in a small bowl. (I doubled the recipe because I had A LOT of veggies AND I like to have some extra sauce for my rice.)

It will look like this. Not everything will dissolve and that's okay. I used a mashed bouillon cube since I didn't have the granules on hand.

5) Heat 1-2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil and chopped clove of garlic in a skillet. Do not burn the garlic. Once heated, add the chicken and cook all the way through. Remove cooked chicken and set aside.

6) Pour all your vegetables into the hot skillet. Add about 3 tablespoons of water and cover with a lid to steam your veggies. Steam until tender.

7) Pour your prepared vegetable sauce over your veggies. Add chicken back into the pan. Cook until sauce is thickened.

8) Serve over rice and ENJOY!

**As a side note, Trader Joe's Orange Chicken makes a delicious side dish.

This post is part of The Shady Porch Rock 'N' Share. To see more fun projects from the blogosphere, visit The Shady Porch!