Monday, December 29, 2008

Chocolate chip muffins

Sunday morning I woke up earlier than normal for a weekend and I decided to try to make muffins. I was craving chocolate chip muffins, so I dug around in the cabinets and pulled out all of the ingredients I had on hand. I wasn't in the mood to get out so early. Then this recipe from Mr. Breakfast popped out and me and it was settled! Chocolate chip muffins were a go! They turned out way better than I expected and taste better today than they did yesterday. I think being in a container over-night moistened them up a bit. Anyway, I'll post the recipe here and then below it add my comments/suggestions.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

(12 servings)

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup light-brown sugar
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2/3 cup milk
* 1/2 cup butter -- melted and cooled
* 2 eggs - beaten
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 package (12 oz) chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans -- chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F. and grease up twelve muffin cups.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla until blended. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Spoon batter into muffin cups; bake 15-20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove muffin tin to wire rack; cool 5 minutes and remove from tins to finish cooling.

Serve warm.

I found that the batter wasn't sweet enough for me, so I added about another half cup of sugar. Also, it was thicker than I wanted, so I added half a stick more of melted butter and about a half cup more milk. I baked them for about 17 minutes. They turned a nice brown color. I also used walnuts because that's what I had, and I think that was rather fortunate. I love the chocolate & walnut combination.

This settles it, no more packaged muffin mix for me! This was simple and so much tastier than the muffins from pre-packaged mix. I will be trying blueberry soon because those are Corey's favorite. Unfortunately, Corey isn't a huge fan of chocolate in breakfast items, so I think I enjoyed them much more than he did! I brought the rest to work today, so hopefully the bosses will polish those off this week. They liked the ones they had this morning!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas spirit

I left my craft bag at my grandmother's house after my trip there last weekend. I have a habit of leaving at least one important item at the places I visit. Maybe it's insurance that I have to go back? Since I haven't been able to craft, I wrapped all of the Christmas presents and decorated the tree. It's pretty late in the season for it, but I have been busy with other things... traveling mainly.

We're having a Christmas party this weekend, so I've been decorating and cleaning a little bit every day to prepare. I'm ready to have a night where we just chill and don't do anything. Do those kinds of nights actually exist? Friday night we're going to a wine tasting and then shopping to prepare for the baking extravaganza Saturday morning. I'm getting all Christmasy and excited! Here's some holiday cheer straight from my living room!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Icing is my foe

Apparently I can't ice cupcakes to save my life. Also, I suck at making butter cream frosting. I kind of hate butter cream frosting in the first place, so I likely won't try again. Cream cheese frosting is where it's at. The cupcakes tasted good, though. I really enjoy the flavor of almond extract in cakes. I made this little cupcake for Lonnie, who is an Alabama fan.

Carson, my boyfriend's son who is 9, helped me with the process. He plays Cooking Mama on the Nintendo DS, so he loves to make things in real life that he's learned to do on the game. First we started with meatballs, but throwing them back in forth in the game is easier than doing it in real life. We ended up with a few dropped meat balls.

Carson separated the egg yolks for me. I was really nervous about letting him do it because I didn't get good at it until college. But I pulled out a practice bowl for him and he did each egg perfectly. No kidding, this 9 year old separated egg yolk for the very first time and didn't get any shell or yolk into the cake batter! I am super impressed with him.

At first I thought he was helping so he could lick the bowls and beaters (this is a trick I always pulled when I was his age), but he just wanted to bake. He measured the ingredients for me and used the hand mixer, too. I was really just supervising. He also wanted to read the recipe to me. It was a great learning experience for him because he learned about measurements and conversions. How many nine year old boys know the difference between the abbreviations of tablespoon and teaspoon?

Now that I'm done bragging on the boy... We had craft night last night and I found my groove on the wine trivet I'm cross stitching. Lonnie and I had headaches all night, but I still had a really fun time with the ladies. Lonnie's snowman looks great so far. The colors in the pattern are very nice and will look great on her mom's wall. Dayna is making a robot bag and it is the cutest thing I've ever seen. If I wasn't on handbag restriction (Corey's orders), I would buy it when she's finished. She cuts out felt into shapes and stitches them onto the bag to form a robot. She attaches gears and buttons for eyes, etc. Really cute idea. She made an owl bag previously and it turned out really cute, too.

I brought my cross stitch to work today so I can work on it at lunch. It's a nice little break from typing all day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snowman Christmas Ornament

In order to learn how to cross stitch, I bought an entire kit at Hobby Lobby. Well, two actually. This is the only one I've finished so far. Lonnie's mom loves snow men, so I made her this cute little ornament. I really love how it turned out! Believe it or not, the most difficult thing for me was affixing the piece to the frame. Hot glue works wonders! I am especially proud of the little black french knots for eyes. I'm getting better and better at them. I find them easier to accomplish on cross stitch pieces compared to embroidery. I am now working on the blanket stitch, which is totally evading me. I just need to sit down and get it done.

This weekend is the Alabama vs. Florida game and we're having a gathering at the house. I'm going to bake cupcakes with crimson frosting for Lonnie. I hope this turns out better than the blue frosting I was trying to make for the Notre Dame cupcakes! I've read up a little bit on how to color white frosting, so hopefully that will prove to be useful. I'm going to bake the funfetti cupcakes again because they were like crack to Lonnie. She loved them more than chocolate. Which is a big deal! I'm hoping some other friends come over to eat them so I won't be tempted to eat six in a row.

I'll also be making a butter cream frosting from scratch for the first time. I usually make cream cheese frosting, but I want to work with my new piping bags some more. I hear butter cream is easier to make fluffy and pretty. I'll be posting pictures of my confectionery delights. It will also be practice for my Christmas cupcakes I'm making for our party in December. I have some Christmas tree sprinkles (jimmies) that I can't wait to use. They'll look lovely on some red and white icing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Completed Apron

I finished two projects, but I just haven't been here to talk about them. The holidays are hectic times, as I'm sure you know. Since I finished these last two projects, I've started one and hit a wall. I don't know what it is, but by the time I get to crafting, I'm exhausted and lethargic. Even at craft night I just look at the projects in my craft bag and wish that they were already finished. This isn't good when Christmas is coming up and I still have three presents to finish.

I'll quit my whining now and post pictures of the apron I made for my Best Pal. I put little gnomes on them because she loves them. I really like how the vines on the bottom turned out. The satin stitch took a while, but it looks nice if you ask me.

Yeah, I'm going to iron it before I give it as a gift! I have one more apron to work on, but I think I'm going to wait and make it for myself. I really love aprons and I don't have one of my own currently.

As far as Christmas presents go, I'm nearly finished with gift shopping. I've had a lot of fun with it so far. I love Black Friday and I made my way out to a nice mall with my cousin early that morning. I did get some good deals on stuff I needed and a purse that I didn't need. I have an unhealthy obsession with designer bags.

I'm getting back to work now. Happy crafting!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cupcakes were a hit and Pilobolus

First of all, my cupcakes did not arrive in Chicago in great condition. The video below of this week's Subway Alumni Show illustrates the messiness and apparent deliciousness of my cupcakes. Thanks for the huge shout out Sprout and Eric!

Last night Corey and I went to the theater at the University of North Alabama to see Pilobolus perform. It was extraordinary to say the least. Look them up on Youtube if you have time. Their movements are so controlled and the choreography was just so different. My mind was totally blown by the final piece. The dancers wore only dancers belts in a few of the performances, and many people got up to leave. I don't understand because even the tickets and posters featured half-naked people in various formations. It's not a big surprise to see a few ass cheeks. But apparently some people found that offensive and left. I wouldn't care, except every time the doors in the back of the theater opened, it distracted everyone in the dark theater. I just found it rude. We even stayed for the Q&A session afterward. I feel so fortunate to have been able to listen to such talented performers discuss their art. The most amazing part is that the majority of the group began dancing in their early to mid twenties and haven't trained all their life for this.

I've started on my first cross stitch project and it's coming along quite nicely. I'll talk about it more later. Tonight the ladies are coming over so hopefully I'll be motivated to get a little more completed. It's chilly here, so I think I'll cook up some soup and snuggle up in my pj's tonight while I craft. I really do enjoy winter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inspiration strikes again

I am completely finished embroidering Telisha's apron now! It looks great. I will be posting pictures later when they're uploaded. Lonnie and I got a wild hair this morning and we're finally learning to cross stitch. It started because I thought I would make my friend Jeff a Simpsons themed piece for Christmas. I actually found a pattern that kicks so much ass that I had to get it. It looks pretty involved, so I thought I should get some practice in before the pattern gets here. That's when Lonnie and I headed to Hobby Lobby on our lunch break. I'm going to make a wine trivet for Lonnie. Luckily I don't have to hide it from her. And hopefully it will turn out nicely, even though it'll be my first cross stitch.

In other crafting news, I figured out how to make my own cross stitch patterns in Photoshop. I've made two so far today. One of a mudkip (joke for my roommate) and a Jack Skellington for Lonnie. Lonnie is actually cross stitching a bear right now and it seems to be going well.

And if you were wondering what ever came of my cupcakes, wonder no more. The Subway Alumni received them and ate some. Proof is in the video below!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Epic Cupcake Fail?

I made the cupcakes last night using a new recipe I found online. The guys at The Subway Alumni Show like confetti cupcakes, and I've never made them before. After Corey and I got the ingredients I didn't already have and got started on my experiment. These didn't turn out exactly how I imagined for several reasons. 1. I couldn't get the blue icing dark enough. 2. The cake wasn't as moist as I'm used to. 3. I've never used a piping bag to ice cupcakes. 4. I should have used buttercream frosting instead of cream cheese. But the end result is delicious, no matter how unattractive they may be. I know this because I ate one for breakfast. Diet, what?

I hope they make it to Chicago in one piece. I've packed them quite well using a new air bladder I recycled from an Office Depot shipment. I'll just go ahead now and post the recipe.

Funfetti Cupcakes
1/2 cup milk
3 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp butter, soft
2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, egg whites and extracts. Set aside
In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl if you prefer to work by hand), combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir to combine. Cut in butter with the paddle attachment at low speed (or cut in by hand), until mixture is coarse and sandy. Add milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl and continue beating for 20-30 seconds. Stir in sprinkles.
Divide batter evenly into prepared tin. Bake for for 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
Makes 12.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trying New Things

This weekend I worked a lot on the apron I'm making for my best pal, Telisha. I am using the same gnome pattern that I used on Kris' purse earlier. I went to Hobby Lobby and picked out some new floss and a floss roller. It was only 99 cents, and thank goodness because it doesn't work at all. It looks a lot like a fishing reel and it rolls the floss onto the bobbin very loosely. I don't like it at all. I think I actually left it at my parents' house, too.

Tonight is craft night at my place, and we'll be watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall while we get crafty. I will hopefully finish up most of the apron.

I ordered a few things on the Internet last week, too. First, I'm addicted to the TV series True Blood, so I ordered the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Until Dark. It was only $3 and I couldn't help myself. Next, I'm making some cupcakes on Wednesday for the guys at the Subway Alumni Show. I bought some icing tools that I've never tried before. Why not get fancy, ya know? The tools were actually very cheap on ebay, too. As a bonus, they're not used, either. Heh... Using used utensils freaks me out. Anyway, I'll get to try those out, along with a new recipe I found for funfetti cupcakes. It looks delicious.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

You Don't Gnome Me! Completed Project

It took me a few days longer than I thought it would, but I finished the bag I was working on. With the elections (I am a rabid media watcher) and me being sick, it was a little overwhelming. But as Corey and I watched Gone Baby Gone last night, I stitched the final touches on my cute little gnome.

This weekend I am going to start on Telisha's Christmas present, an apron with gnomes on it. She was my gnome inspiration, actually. She has cute little gnomes on her front porch and even has shirts with the little dudes on em. Hers will be a little more elaborate than this bag, so it will take a little longer. I'm going to my parents' house this weekend, so I will have a lot of down time at night when they go to bed and on Saturday when Mom works. And of course Monday is craft night, so I'll have several hours to work on it then.

Again, I need a new camera. Mine is actually on the fritz right now and only works when I gently coax it. Some of the pictures aren't too bad, but the one of the little cottage is just way too blurry.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Coming To The End Of A Project

This weekend was a good one filled with candy, hockey, and family. Corey and I visited his son, Carson, for Halloween and took him to his football team's party at the hockey game. His coach did lose him, but he was found and we never have to deal with those parents again! Other than all that hectic stuff, I did get some stitching done. I am nearly finished with the purse I'm working on now. I put some cute little gnomes on it for my BFF Kris. Tonight is craft night, so I'm sure I'll complete what I have left of this project. Then it's on to the next Christmas gift!

I have a good feeling about this. If it only takes me one week to complete a project, I'll have all of my Christmas gifts finished way before the deadline. And since I was sick last week, I didn't get to stitch as much as I normally would, so perhaps I'll finish two projects a week. I really don't have that many to make, either. We're going light on the present giving this year.

I found this pincushion on earlier and I loved it! I keep losing needles in the couch, and I think this would stop that. Not to mention it is completely adorable. I might just have to break down and buy it for myself after Christmas. I've been a good girl and kept the shopping to a minimum, which is a huge deal for me. We went clothes shopping this weekend and I actually didn't buy anything for myself. Granted, I was having a fat day, but there were still shoes I really liked!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Monday night we had craft night and I got started on a new project. I am stitching some cute patterns onto something useful for my friend, Kris. I didn't get terribly far because I started to come down with something about halfway through "Knocked Up". I have since been down with a mystery illness.

Our cable has been out for three days, too. Comcast lied to us repeatedly about the problem, thus prolonging the outage. Finally a technician came out this afternoon and informed me that our cable is connected to the next door neighbor's cable. That neighbor recently moved out, so when the cable was cut off, ours was, too. This has happened four times this year, and I'm sure it'll happen again every time we get a new neighbor. The technician gave me his phone number, however, so I don't have to deal with call centers and rude customer service representatives any longer.

I say all that because as a result of losing cable, I concentrated extra hard on my new project while I was home sick. There are three parts to it and I finished part one at lunch today while waiting on the cable guy. It took me forever because I was using a French knot and I've never done one before. Katie demonstrated one to me a few weeks ago, but my feeble mind lost that information. I looked up "how to french knot" on youtube and voila! I copied the motions and I got it down! My first few knots were a little untidy. But by the fifth one, I think it looked great. I'm really thrilled that I can continually learn new things with needle crafts.

I'm still a sickie today, but Lonnie and I wandered over to our local ice cream parlor/cafe for hot soup and cold milk shakes. They did wonders for my congestion and sore throat! I think I might pick up some ice cream to accompany the Mexican chicken soup I will probably eat for dinner. I also plan on working on Kris' Christmas present some more. If I continue on this schedule, I should finish it by the end of the weekend.

I ordered the Winterland pattern from Sublime Stitching and it should be here soon. I'm thinking of embroidering some cute ornaments and elves on tea towels for the women in my family. I know for sure my mother and grandmother would love them. My Aunt Linda seems like the type to love crafty things, too. I will just stitch as many as I possibly can before the Holidays and give them out to as many people as will take them! I have a feeling my friends and family will get tired of receiving an embroidered something or other after a while. I'll be like that crazy aunt who always give the children knitted scarves and hats every single year. After 20 years or so, there's just not room for any more!

Monday, October 27, 2008


For the past two years I've gotten my pumpkin carving stencils from Zombie Pumpkins. They turn out great (I think so, anyway) every time! Last year I carved a Wario and a funny face named Horton. Carson, my boyfriend's nine year old son, and I share a love of video games. So this year we carved Boo, Bowser and Princess Peach!

We took a trip to McGee Farms on Saturday Morning and picked out three perfect pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. Gutting the pumpkins is always a chore because Carson doesn't like getting his hands dirty. I gutted two and Carson gutted one. It was nice having some help. He was very enthusiastic about the patterns we picked out this year.

I had forgotten how tedious tracing and then carving can be. It took about five hours total to carve all three pumpkins. Next year we're only doing two! The end results were totally worth all the eye strain, back pain and sore hands. This really is a fun activity for the entire family. Even if the kids are too young to handle the sharp stuff, pulling out the guts is something they can do. Even Corey got involved and roasted the seeds. YUMMY!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Delicious Surprise

My best friend, Girl Kris, came to visit me from Arkansas last night. Our other friend Christopher came over, too. I made baked ziti with garlic bread and a salad. It was pretty delicious. After dinner, Kris gave me my birthday presents... Yes, a month late, but in person is better than through the mail if you have a choice! The first thing I got was a fairy umbrella. It has a huge fairy on it and fairy wings on the sides. I was actually able to use it this morning on my way to work since the storm clouds have gathered over our region.

In addition to my awesome umbrella, Kris gave me a cupcake decorating book! It is amazing and the instructions are so clear. I have no doubt that after a few tries, I will perfect my decorating skills. I've never done anything so elaborate with baking. The book is called Hello Cupcake and there is a website to go along with it. Go check out some of the designs.

And I almost forgot! Christopher took a look at my camera and he fixed it! I will be testing it out this weekend when we go to McGee Farm to pick out pumpkins to carve. If it isn't obvious, I have the best friends in the world!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calories, What Calories?

My day job is as the producer of a radio show about small business. Recently we had a co-founder of Fairytale Brownies on our show. She caught my eye because, first of all, they make brownies. But their company also has an interesting story and contributes to their community. A portion of every purchase goes to an organization that makes sure kids have a safe playground on which to play.

The best part about this is that they sent us a dozen brownies! You'll be surprised to know that I've only tried one so far. It was a cream cheese brownie and boy was it delicious. The texture is not too cake-like and not too moist... the perfect balance. I'll let Eileen Spitalny, the co-founder of Fairytale Brownies, tell you about it in her interview.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First Project

I finally finished my first embroidery project! I am so excited that it turned out as well as it did. It's funny how you can see the improvement from one part to the other. I started the satin stitch on the star to the very right. You can tell that I got better as I practiced on each star.

It's very exciting to have this new craft. I look forward to the progress I make on future projects, too. I have so many ideas and I can't wait to start. I'll be starting on Christmas presents at our next craft night.

Clearly it's not perfect, but I am very proud that you can even tell what it is! Well that's all I wanted to share right now. I'm craft-free for the evening and watching Six Feet Under with Corey. It's good to relax.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

In my family, a cake isn't a cake unless it is made from scratch. No box cake mixes for us, no ma'am. Cooking has always been a big part of my life and baking an even more so. At family gatherings there would be a huge spread of Southern comfort food and a table devoted to only desserts. That was my favorite table. My Aunt Jane made a killer red velvet cake and I always got an extra large piece to split with my cousin Ashley. Since I haven't gone to family gatherings as frequently as I used to, I kind of forgot my love for red velvet cake. That is until I saw Paula Deen make some delicious looking cupcakes on TV one day. They were red velvet cupcakes and I just had to get the recipe and try them! At the time, my cousin Ashley was about to get married and I was planning her bachelorette party (I was the maid of honor). Since red velvet is her favorite, I chose to try this recipe out on her.

Everyone at the party couldn't get enough of the cupcakes. They were so moist and delicious, they couldn't believe I had actually gone to so much trouble just to make cupcakes. Little did they know that baking is kind of theraputic for me. Not only that, but the satisfaction of everyone complimenting me feels wonderful. Yeah, I'm selfish!

Since the bachelorette party, I have made these cupcakes for birthdays, fund raisers and other occasions. Every single time they turn out perfectly and I always eat more than I should. I like to dress them up with blueberries on Independence Day and sprinkles when kids will be enjoying them. My favorite topping is the suggested strawberry. It adds a wonderful sweetness.

Here is the link to the cupcake recipe on Food Network. I've played around with it, but I haven't written any of my own recipes down. Just try your own and top them however you want to! And if you're running low on time, use some pre-made cream cheese icing. It isn't as good as home made, but if the cake part is perfect, then people rarely notice the store-bought topping.

This is one of the cupcakes I made on Sunday for an event at the local university. I heard they were a big hit! And I realize it's blurry. My beautiful, lovely, amazing Nikon is currently not working so I'm using my little point and shoot Kodak. Hopefully I'll be remedying that soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I love cupcakes and crafting

I've had a personal blog for about five years now. It's mainly private and I get my feelings and emotions out in it as well as update on my day-to-day. After meeting my friend, Katie, I found her blog and a community of bloggers who write specifically about their crafts. I find this to be exciting, because I love talking about embroidery, baking, cooking, etc. Not many people in my real life get as excited about these things as I do. I've been silently following Katie's and other blogs and now I've decided to start one of my own. Even if no one reads this, it will be a place to catalog my projects, recipes and ideas.

Sometimes when I start something new, I dive right into it and then after about a month I lose interest. With a little inspiration and motivation from my friends, I have started a new hobby and hope to continue it. Lonnie, Dayna, Katie and I meet usually about once a week and we call ourselves "The Crafty Cupcakes". It's a lot easier to be excited about a project when someone tells you how cool it is!

Currently I am working on my first embroidery project. It's a pillowcase (the first piece of cloth I picked up) with a light house scene on it. I'm having fun trying out different stitches and finding new ways to add texture and color. Katie has helped a lot with that. I have books and diagrams, but it's so much easier to have someone demonstrate a stitch to you! I have a few rocks to stitch on there, and I should finish the piece tonight.

I have also decided to make a few things for Christmas presents this year. I found some free patterns online for a tote I will make for my best friend, Girl Kris. I will be using a gnome and fairy pattern my boyfriend, Corey, bought me for my birthday from to make an apron for my best pal, Telisha. I also have a few patterns picked out from that website to use on some tea towels for my aunts and mother. As soon as I get paid on the first, I'm heading to HobbyLobby to pick out some materials! I'm pretty thrilled about it.

Hopefully I'll have a picture of my completed pillow case for my next post. Until then, I'm going to work on making this blog look snazzy!