Swim Cookies

The season has come to a close.  No more sitting by the pool and sweating my brains out.
My flip flop and farmer tan will now start to fade because summer swim team is over.

And how do I thank the swim coaches who's farmer tan is worse than mine?

That's right, with some cookies!
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I'm such a fan of swim team for my kids.  Nothing solidifies those strokes like swimming all summer long.  It's also a great boredom buster.  When we have a low key day, they can always look forward to going to swim team.  This being my 5th summer, I've never thought of a swim cookie until now!  Then it hit me, duh!  I could make the simple little swimmer guy from logos and signs.  He's kind of cute.
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Now I think it's time to work on some back to school cookies.  It's coming before I know it!
But first, I must finish my summer goals!  More projects to come!

Chocolate Garnish

You all know how I love my squeezie bottles!

I usually use them for royal icing and cookie decorating...
But they also come in handy when I want to make a custom chocolate garnish.
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They just takes a few minutes to make and they make your dessert personalized and extra thoughtful.

You just need to melt your chocolate in a bowl.  Put it in the microwave for 30 second intervals on medium power, stir and repeat until you can stir it smooth.  (Don't over do it!  It will burn or get white and streaky.)  Then you pour it into your squeezie bottle. Now, you don't have very long until it will start to harden.  I don't like to microwave it once it's in the bottle, so I work fast.  You can put your squeezie in a bowl of hot water to prolong the melted chocolate, but make sure no water gets in the bottle.  It will ruin the chocolate completely.  You can use this little bottle of chocolate to drizzle on your chocolate strawberries, cake pops and other desserts.
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But when I'm making a custom garnish, it is as simple as this:  Print out a simple image or word on computer as many times as fit on your paper.  Set the paper on a pan or plate then cut a piece of parchment paper just as big.  {You should actually do this before you melt your chocolate.}
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When your squeezie is ready, just trace right over it.  When you're done, put the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.  And that's it!
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This particular dessert was for a baby shower.  The chocolate wafer was made out of 20 grasshopper or thin mint cookies, put in a food processor with one tablespoon melted butter.  It was formed into a round with a metal cookie cutter, then baked at 350 for 6 minutes.  The ice cream layer was made by mixing a half gallon of vanilla ice cream with 1/4 tsp peppermint extract, pink food coloring and 8 oz whip cream.  Then it was frozen into rounds and set on top.  Thank-you to my friend Michiko who helped me brainstorm this dessert and also helped me pull it off!
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And check out the fancy squeezie I used to garnish the plate!  It's one of my prize possessions.  I got it as a gift, so I can't tell you for sure where to get one.
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But with the help of my squeezie bottles, this dessert is garnished with thoughtfulness and love!  :)
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I'm actually pretty obsessed with making personal-sized desserts.  I posted about "pizzokie love" but I made a mini one using the same concept as the baby shower dessert.
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And of course I have to garnish it if I'm making it for someone I love.
My husband appreciates a good presentation.  :)
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So if you haven't invested in a few squeezies, it's time to give them a try!  They cost between $1-4.
That's an inexpensive way to customize your edible masterpieces!  

BLT Bites

"Every time I have a BLT, I think to myself (or possibly say out loud):
"I FORGOT HOW GOOD THESE ARE!"

Bacon makes everything tasty, but do you know what makes these even tastier?
Farm stand tomatoes.  Oh man!  Where I live, the tomatoes are at their very best right now.
They are ridiculously good!  I'm buying them up, borrowing from neighbors' gardens and putting them in every dish I know how.  And my husband is requesting BLTs.

But if you have another dish to make and you just want a taste of BLT, just make these as a simple, yummy appetizer.  You won't regret it.
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I sliced my tomatoes, cooked the bacon and cut it into 4 pieces per strip.  Use thick bacon.
Thin sliced bacon has a place and purpose in the world, but it has not business being on BLTs.
Also, tear your lettuce.  I love to use butter lettuce, but in these pictures, I was using green leaf lettuce.
I also like to season the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper and give the bacon a little pepper too.
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I pick up a loaf of freshly baked french baguette from my grocery store.
I slice it up, then cut each slice in half.
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Next, I toasted the bread.  I put it in the oven on 450 for just a couple of minutes.  I watch it closely because the point of lightly brown to charcoal is a short time.
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Next I added spicy mayo.  Spicy mayo is just mayo mixed with hot sauce.  It adds a nice little kick!  It's up to you how spicy you want it.  I usually just add 1/4 to 1/2 a tsp. in my little bowl of mayo.  I put it in a sqeezie bottle sometimes just to have on hand.  You know how I love squeezie bottles! <3
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Then I stack it in this order: bacon, lettuce, more bacon and tomato!
Then put a toothpick in it.
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Now it is ready for guests to have two little bites of heaven.
And you have to admit the presentation is pretty darling.  Who doesn't love a baby BLT?
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I ran a little taste panel on these appetizers, with subtle variations to see what people preferred.
I thought I'd tell you the results of my small group's opinions.
Bread:  I served them with a slice on top and bottom vs. an open face BLT.  Open face BLT won!
I also tried it with toasted vs. soft bread.  Toasted won!
I tried buttering the bread before it went in the oven vs. leaving it dry.  There was no preference.
(Once the mayo was on, it added some moisture and they couldn't which bread had been buttered).
Bacon:  I served some with different amounts.  One left them wanting more bacon ratio and three was too much.  My taste testers preferred two slices.
Tomato: I made some with a cherry tomato and some with sliced.  Sliced was preferred.
Lettuce:  Most people didn't like too much lettuce.  Just a little for the crunch factor.
Mayo:  Spicy mayo was for sure preferred over regular mayo.

Don't laugh, I take crowd pleasing appetizers very seriously.  I can't go on my opinion alone.
I prefer these with a little slice of avocado on top too, but they brown pretty fast and if you're making a lot, they can't sit and wait.

I'm sure any way you do it though, you won't get complaints.  You will just get someone saying,
"I forgot how much I love BLTs!"

Wedding Cookies

Today I'm guest posting on my home away from home,  Somewhat Simple!

I'm getting all fancy schmancy with some wedding cookies.
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And I'm showing how simply I made these damask cookies with my projector!

Go check out my Wedding Cookies!

Repurposed Necklace Holder

I "repurposed" something before it even found it's purpose.

Is that wrong?

I made this little thing into a necklace holder for my little tween's fancy jewelry.
Just look at how many treasures can hang on, or thread through all of these loops!
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If you remember what her room looks like (posted here) you know that this little blue polka dot jewelry box goes perfectly on her shelf.  Even more perfect that it was a dollar, on clearance at hobby lobby.  But when I gave it to her, we quickly realized that it was big enough for just her rings and bracelets.   Plus, she said if she puts her necklaces in it, they'll just get tangled.  The girl has been investing at Claire's, Justice and Target and we need to take care of these rarities.
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So an extra necklace hanger was on the back burner until I ran into this fantastic card holder at Pier 1.  It is meant to hang vertically and hold greeting cards.  Pottery Barn used to have one like it for 40 dollars.  I found this for 10 and used a coupon!  I know that it isn't typical to repurpose something that you just bought new, but I was feeling rebellious.  When I got it home, I bent the flat loops up so that they would hang out from the wall.
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Then I spray painted it and hung it.  Then I painted the nail I hung it with because it was sticking out like a sore thumb.  The color isn't exact, but at this point, I wasn't going to spray paint the nail.
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So there it is, on an unused wall behind her door.  (Half is covered by the door when it's open).  And she is happy to have more room to store her junk fine jewelry!
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I used to find bits and pieces of her jewelry around the house, sometimes tangled or broken.  Now at least she has a place for it to be put away, and it actually looks pretty cute as wall decor too!

I kind of want to buy another one, paint it red, and hang my Christmas cards on it.  But this card holder, however, will never know it's original "purpose."

Tie-Dyed Cake

My oldest wanted to go to a theme park for a day instead of having a birthday party.  Easy enough for mom!  But we still had to do the traditional birthday dinner and cake at home.  And a girl as cool as this needs a cool cake!  Sidenote: I just love this girl, and I'm so proud of who she is!
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(digital frame purchased from house of 3)


I remember coming across a tie-dye-ish cake when I googled "rainbow cake" a while ago.  But when you google "tie-dye cake" you get lots of variations of cake batter that is dyed and mixed.

This was our take on a tie-dye cake:
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You can see my buttercream was a little thick.  I was so busy trying to smooth it out, you know, since I broke up with fondant and couldn't use it.  By the way, I appreciate all of your comments and sympathizing with my break-up.  Apparently I'm not alone.  So anyway, back to the butter cream...I used too much, but didn't realize it until I cut into it.  But seriously, the birthday girl eats her cake like this anyway...
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But something has got to hold the cakes together, so simple buttercream frosting did the trick.
I topped it with curly candles and a mini pennant banner.  Pretty simple, and she loved her little sign.
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So here's how it went down:
I started with 2 white cake mixes.  (I know sometimes I'm a foodie snob, but sometimes I just want it to be fast.  Call me fickle.)  I divided and dyed.  I wasn't really happy with my shade of green, but... "you win some, you lose some."  Oh well.

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Then I lined my pans with parchment, buttered and floured.
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Then little miss birthday girl, helped me pour the batter.  I think that how you pour it, has a lot to do with
how it looks in the end.  You can decide if you want to pour in small or large amounts of color.
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This is how ours looked before baking.
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But when all of the randomness is layered on top of one another, you get a tie-dyed cake!
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You also get a happy "birthday girl!"  Which is even better than a tie-dyed cake!
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(photoshop action from pioneer woman) 

Wacky Wednesday Flowers

In the midst of packing and my scrapbooking madness, I got to have the welcome diversion of going to our church girls camp as a leader for a week. And, in my usual chicken-with-her-head-cut-off kind of style, I decided to make fabric flowers for the girls 2 days before camp. If every single person with a craft blog on the internet can do it, so can I, right?

The camp theme was "Oh, the places you'll go..." and all things Dr. Seuss. And since Wednesday was "Wacky Wednesday" my flowers could be made of lots of leftover fabric. They have actual Dr. Seuss fabric at our local store so I bought a little with the words on it.

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But, I was the leader for 44 girls, the youth leaders ages 15-17.

44 flowers takes kind of a long time. Note to self, there are actually only 24 hours in a day.

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Not quite enough hours for cutting 7 circles 4.5 inches in diameter for the bottom layer and 5 circles 3.5 inches for the top layer. And a felt circle for the base. Thankfully Ashleigh rescued me in my late night hours of insanity.

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And folding the circle in half and then into an offcentered "S" shape. And glueing to the felt base.

Do that times a million until you have no fingerprints left because of glue gun burns.

For the middles I used a ton of scrapbooking big buttons and accents, like the random umbrella and teacup button I never found a use for and some cute soccer balls and dance buttons.

And finally smile when you see this at camp. A little bit of pretty among the layers of dirt.

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And enjoy the rest of the week getting to be my daughter's leader and seeing these cute faces!

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And I'm hoping one day I have fingerprints again. :)

The Scrapbooking Bee in my Bonnet

I may be fired from the blog. Ashleigh only keeps me around cause she loves me, not because I post regularly.

In the midst of our moving date looming :(

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I decided to use a delay tactic which I'm pretty sure is healthy. :)

It's called I must completely catch up on scrapbooking instead of pack and organize. So I completed 3 entire albums and caught up my kids' school scrapbooks. I am evaluating my time and how I want to scrapbook. I never scrapbook out of guilt, I do it because I love it. And, my pages aren't fabulous, usually I scraplift a sketch, but the events are documented. But, my time is limited and I can't keep up scrapbook pages about cute faces.

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Or pages with no journaling, just because I like the pictures.

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Or pages with just a poem because I adore these people.

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But I plan to do my beloved Project Life forever. The cute faces and cute kisses can all still be documented. But it will take minutes instead of an hour. And I will continue to do a summary page for each year for each of my kids where I list what activities they do and pieces of their personality.

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And maybe a holiday page or two.
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And if I must, just a page like this for missy's book because really, how cute are pink soccer players?
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It feels great to be caught up and Ash was my cheerleader as my stack of pages kept growing. Then we laughed when her hubby saw the huge stack and said, "Oh did you scrapbook today?"

So, here's my first post in a different city than my sis. It's only been four days and I miss her. So hopefully instead of firing me, she'll come visit. Until then, I'll be unpacking....

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Breaking Up With Fondant

I'm breaking up with fondant.

It wasn't a very long or serious relationship.  And maybe if I would have put more time into it and made it a priority, it could've been so much more.  It's just each time we spend time together, I end up frustrated or mad.  It's not a healthy relationship, and it's an expensive one, at that!  Fondant is supposed to yield perfect results, but it just gives me wrinkles and bumps.

From afar, this recent cake adventure looks good.  And my friend was so kind to say that it was great.
But it was buckling a little on the sides.  Then fondant was sagging away from the butter cream.  I don't know if it was the 105 degree weather, or if it's just that fondant is mean to me.
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I thought the bow and stars turned out pretty good, not perfect but good.
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I start thinking things are okay with fondant and I, then I look and see how fondant is around other girls.
Like Jessicakes!  Seriously!  Her cakes are crazy amazing!  (Thanks Nina for showing me her site)
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I'm not ruling out the possibility of us getting back together.  It's just that I need to learn a lot before I can deal with our relationship and how you are.

Sorry fondant, no hard feelings.  It's not you, it's me...
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