DIY – Victorian Style Earrings

While I was out shopping this last holiday season I ogled over all of the pretty earrings that sparkled at me in just about every store I visited.  I fought hard to ward off the urge to buy myself a few pairs.  After all, I wasn’t shopping for myself, I was buying gifts for others.  And in the back of my mind, a little voice (coming from the frugal shopper in me) told me that they were too expensive.  You see, I have a hard time spending money on myself.  You might even think that I was reincarnated from the Great Depression if you watch me shop.

That little voice also reminded me that after the holidays blew over and things settled down that I could make my own unique sparkly earrings.  I completely embraced the idea of finding a DIY project to keep me busy and save me money.

This week I finally ventured into one of our local craft stores to check out their jewelry making supplies.  I happily settled on some pretty charms to use in my earring making adventure.  I also made the pretty little cards to hook the earrings to.  That was just as fun as making the earrings.

I’m not big chunky earring kind of girl;  I like drop earrings, not too long, not too big.  Pretty, but subtle.  These earrings fit the bill.  I really love how they remind me of the Victorian era.  Romantic, elegant, and pink.

I’ve decided I’m going to keep one pair of these for myself and give the other pair away as a Valentines Day gift.   I’ve also decided to take orders for these earrings.  If you’d like your own pair(s), in your own custom colors, please email me for details.

So, would you consider yourself more of a shopper, or a do it yourselfer?

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Madagascar Vanilla Made with Vodka–A Special Homemade Holiday Gift

A couple of years ago, I won a bottle of homemade Madagascar Vanilla in a giveaway hosted by another blogger.  I have to tell you, I squeaked every last drop of vanilla out of that bottle.  For baking, there is nothing as good as pure vanilla extract; nothing…

Making homemade vanilla is a simple DIY project.  And if you get started right now, you’ll have a great holiday gift to give those bakers on your list.  And did I mention how delicious homemade vanilla extract tastes in French toast?

What you will need:

(8) 6 oz. Bottles & Corks, or Caps

(1) bottle 1.75 Liter of Vodka  (I used Barton’s Vodka)

(12) Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Sharp Pairing Knife

Cutting Board

Funnel

Wash all bottles with hot soapy water and let air dry.  Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise; then cut in half.  Place 1 1/2 beans in each bottle.  Fill each bottle with vodka.  Wipe edge of bottles with warm clean cloth and place a cork in each one.   Store in dark place; uncork in 3 months.

This picture above was taken right after making the extract.

Once you make the extract you will need to decide how you want to label it.  I opted to keep it simple, and made my tags out of cardstock.  I used my Cricut cutter to make my tags, and then I stamped the word Vanilla on each tag using my alphabet stamps and maroon ink.  On the back, I printed the date that the vanilla may be opened.  To finish them off, I punched a star hole in the top of each tag so it could accommodate a ribbon.

Tell me, what baker wouldn’t want a bottle of this in their stocking?

My vanilla now 10 days old.  It will get darker and stronger as time passes.  I can’t wait to pop the cork and use this in a batch of my favorite sugar cookies.

What kind of treat would you make using homemade vanilla extract?

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Marshmallow, Peanut Butter, and Cake Truffles

Who say’s a girl can’t have her cake and eat it too?   That’s exactly what you’re going to get in these scrumptious truffles – cake!

These little babies have already worked their way to the top of my favorites list.   

If you have someone special on your Valentine’s Day list that loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate  like I do, these would make the perfect (homemade) gift.

Marshmallow, Peanut Butter, and Cake Truffles

1/2 c. peanut butter

2 tbsp. margarine

1 c. mini-marshmallows

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1 unfrosted chocolate cupcake, crumbled fine

3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 tbsp. vegetable shortening

In a small saucepan, melt margarine, peanut butter, and marshmallows on low heat.   Stir in cake crumbs.  Add powdered sugar and remove from heat; stirring until mixture forms a ball.

Remove from saucepan and place into small bowl.  Cover and chill in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Once dough has chilled, roll dough into 1” balls. 

Melt chocolate chips and vegetable shortening in a double boiler.  Dip balls into chocolate and place onto prepared cookie sheet.  Return to refrigerator to harden.

Makes about 1 dozen.

Strawberry Kiss Cheesecakes, The Chocoholic Cupcake, and now, Marshmallow, Peanut Butter, and Cake Truffles for Valentine’s Day.  Could it get any better than this? Nah….

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bars

These bars remind me of a Butterfinger candy bar.  They are crunchy, peanut buttery, and chocolaty. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bars

And did I mention that they go great with a cup of coffee?  I love serving them on the Villeroy and Boch  Mariefleur cup and saucer.  It makes them seem like such a special treat. 

If you are looking for beautiful Christmas gifts for the foodies in your life then I would highly suggest you take a look at Villeroy and Boch’s website.  In my opinion, you can’t go wrong giving one of their beautiful cup and saucers with a pound of coffee, box of tea, and/or homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bars.  If you’re considering this, then please add me to your Christmas list!

This Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisps recipe came  from Kraft Food & Family Holiday 2006 issue.  I  like them because there is no baking involved.  Here is my slightly adapted version.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisps

1/3 c. brown sugar

3 tbsp. corn syrup

2 tbsp.  creamy peanut butter

2 c. Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal

Topping

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 c. creamy peanut butter

1/4 c. cocktail peanuts, chopped

Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil.  Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, microwave brown sugar, corn syrup, 2 tbsp. and peanut butter on high for 1 minute and stir.  Cook for 1 additional minute, or until melted.    Add cereal; mix until cereal is coated.  Press into bottom of prepared pan.

In small bowl, microwave chocolate chips and peanut butter on high until melted.  Spread over cereal mixture and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.  Cut into triangles.  Store in refrigerator in airtight container.

Makes about 16 triangle bars.

Have you started your Christmas Shopping?  What are you hoping Santa brings you this year? 

*Villeroy and Boch sent me this cup and saucer as a product sample.  I was not compensated for this post, and my opinion is all mine Smile