crafting is sanity

DIY or die.

DIY Hydrangea Wreath

Wow, 6 days later and I’m back with my second post of the month! This has got to be some sort of record for me! I finally got around to making my spring-summer wreath and hanging it up! Surprisingly, this one didn’t take long at all – probably 30 minutes or less, it just took me a long time to get around to do it :P

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Isn’t it pretty? :D The only things I had to buy were the hydrangeas, everything else I already had in my craft box.

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The wreath form that I’ve used and reused over and over again, white cloth leftover from a costume I helped my friend make, and four bunches of fake flowers. I bought three hydrangeas and the one bunch of blue flowers, but I ended up not using the blue flowers haha

IMG_1339I cut the fabric into strips that were roughly 8-9 inches wide. Kind of an arbitrary width and I just eyeballed it.

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Then I folded each strip in half lengthwise and wrapped it around the wreath form (and securing with hot glue) until I ended up with this:

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Kinda like a mummy! I plucked all the flowers off the stems are started arranging to see what looked best.

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I used some yarn to tie the hydrangeas to the wreath form.

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Then I hot glued the little green leaves (from the unused blue flowers) to the sides to finish it off! Being lazy, I used some green yarn from my craft box to fashion a loop to hang the wreath from :)

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So pretty and fluffy and happy!! I’m extremely happy with the way the wreath turned out and just really hope the white fabric doesn’t get too dirty! :P It only cost $4 too! The flowers were from the 99cents store and i already had everything else :)

Happy crafting!

-Yenny

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Green Velvet Mini Cupcakes

Another belated post! I made these green velvet mini cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day and they turned out super cute!

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I searched Pinterest very thoroughly for “green desserts” and I liked the green velvet cupcake idea the best. This is the recipe I used, but cut in half! Half of the recipe still made about 30 minis – perfect amount to bring into work :) Start with your ingredients:

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I had most of the ingredients already and I just had to pick up the green food coloring, mini cupcake liners and the green sprinkles. I was slightly obsessed with finding green sprinkles that weren’t sugar sprinkles so I ended up going to two different Ralph’s, Party City and a Michael’s before I went to Surfas, which is a restaurant supply store near where I live. Of course, they had the perfect green sprinkles! They were however, in a bulk jar -_____- but still cheap! Roughly $3 for a big jar. Too bad I don’t know what to do with all the leftover sprinkles now…

Anyways! Mix together your dry ingredients~ I added an extra scoop of cocoa powder to make it more chocolatey :)

IMG_1236Then mix your wet ingredients in a separate bowl

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Then dump the green food coloring in!! I think I used a little over half the bottle. Be careful, because it WILL stain your fingers and your kitchen table…

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Then pour this lovely green mixture into your dry ingredients and combine to make a batter!

IMG_1239Now you’re ready to pour and bake! I got these super cute gold foil mini cupcake liners at Michael’s because I wanted them to look like little pots of gold! (At one point I considered buying rainbow sprinkles to make my life easier and to have the whole rainbow and pot of gold thing going :P)

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Aren’t they cute?? Now fill each liner about 2/3 of the way

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They were such a pretty green before baking! But after they were done, they looked like this…

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So cute! Now it’s time to frost! My cream cheese frosting is SUPER simple – just mix cream cheese with powdered sugar! I just add a little bit of sugar at a time until I like the taste hahah :) I also made wayyyyyy too much frosting! I should’ve just used 1 block of cream cheese instead of 2. Oh well :P

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I don’t have piping bags so I frost with a ziploc bag and cut the tip off to the width I prefer, like so

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Then I just squeeze the bag as I rotate the cupcake around. Start in the center and just spin the cupcake around until you get enough frosting on there :)

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Some turned out nicer than others, but they’re so cute! Then its time for sprinkles!! Whee!

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I tried not to waste too many sprinkles on the table :P

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Then I placed them very carefully and neatly on my cake carrier tray and put them in the fridge overnight before taking them to work! I find that keeping them in the fridge makes them moister and hardens the frosting just a little so transport is a little easier :)

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So green inside!! These were a hit at the office and the mini size really encouraged people to take multiples :) They were really fun to make, even though I now have a surplus of green sprinkles lol :P

Hope everyone had a happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Samoa Shortbread Bars

Welcome to part 2 of my Samoa cookie recipe comparison! After my first try, I wasn’t super satisfied with the results so I browsed Pinterest for another recipe to try and came upon this Samoa Shortbread Bar recipe :) I was much happier with the results!

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Please excuse all the terrible iPhone pics – I made these bars in a rush :P Start with your ingredients for the shortbread:

IMG_9945Combine them together to make a dough-

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And press into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

IMG_9950Meanwhile, start toasting your coconut flakes until they’re nicely golden brown.

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And now for the sticky part – melting the caramel! I don’t like melting in my microwave and I don’t have metal or glass mixing bowls to make a double boiler, so I generally do this method of putting ceramic bowls in a pan of water and boiling it lol.

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It took about 13 minutes to melt the caramel down to the consistency I needed.

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Then mix with the toasted coconut

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And spread it evenly over the baked shortbread. Press the topping down onto the shortbread to make sure it really sticks together.

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Wait for everything to cool a little and then cut it. I used a large knife but even then the shortbread crumbled a bit and I broke some pieces :( But it was fixable! Now it’s time to make the chocolate part! Melt the chocolate in the same way as the caramels (or something easier if that’s available to you)

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I used a spoon to smear the chocolate on the bottom of each bar and put them on parchment paper.

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And instead of drizzling the chocolate on top, I just kinda smeared the tops with some chocolate too :)

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I ended up cutting each bar in half to make smaller pieces. With some of the pieces that broke, I used the chocolate sauce to “glue” them back together, and it mostly worked! And I liked this recipe much more than the first one I tried. Big hit! :)

Happy baking~!

Yenny

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Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Coconut Bars (Samoa Bars)

Although it’s not officially Spring yet, we did just “spring” forward for Daylight Savings Time! And it’s Girl Scout cookie season, yay! Although Girl Scout cookies are delicious, my favorites are the Lemonades and Tagalongs – their Samoas seem to be one of the most popular ones! So this month, I tried two different Samoa Bar recipes – one definitely turned out better than the other. I tried this Martha Stewart recipe, and although it was yummy, it didn’t quite capture the flavor of a Samoa.

IMG_1045Start with your ingredients:

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Yes, yes I know this looks like an advertisement for generic brands, but I’m a big believer in generic brands! :D The recipe calls for a 15×10 inch rimmed pan, but I don’t have one and after reading the comments on the original post, I decided to use a 9×13 inch pan and it worked great!

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Make the base using graham cracker crumbs (I used one sleeve of crackers), sugar and butter. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Let the cookie base cool before adding toppings. So this is where I started diverging from the recipe a little, haha :)

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Crunch the pecans into smaller pieces and toast them in a pan while the crust is baking. Once the crust has cooled, drizzled some condensed milk so the toppings have something to stick to.

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Then start adding the pecans and chocolate chips. Please excuse the crappy iPhone pics, my camera was out of battery :(

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I actually did two rounds of pecans and chocolate chips and then I drizzled more condensed milk over that. then top with some coconut flakes:

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Stick back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the coconut has toasted.

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I cut them into rectangular bars at work, but then they ended up being too big so I cut them into squares.

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Although this recipe was relatively easy (except for the stickiness of the condensed milk), it didn’t really taste like a Samoa to me. There wasn’t that caramel-y flavor and the coconut wasn’t very incorporated with the bar, so it made for some messy eating, whoops! I wish the toppings had come together a little better. I do like the second Samoa bar recipe I tried much better so stay tuned for that post later this month!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Valentine’s Day Pretzel Hugs & Kisses

Happy (super belated) Valentine’s Day!! I decided to make pretzel hugs and kisses for Valentine’s Day this year and I’ve made them before for Christmas so these treats work for any holiday that has color themed M&Ms :)

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Start with your ingredients – square pretzels (they’re called snaps), Hershey’s hugs and kisses, and M&Ms.

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I actually bought the kisses after I made the hugs batch :P Spread the pretzels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place a hug or kiss on top.

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Put them into a 200 degree oven for 4-6 minutes. The hugs get softer much quicker than the kisses – they take about 4-5 minutes. The kisses took about 6-7 minutes. Once they’re soft and shiny (but still holding their shape!) take them out of the oven and place and M&M on top.

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I use a chopstick to press the M&M down but when the chocolate isn’t ready, you end up with something like this…

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Whoops. It’s still edible and delicious of course, but not as pretty if you’re giving them away. You put it back into the oven and kinda save it or you can leave it and eat it yourself :) Once you get the hang of it, I do it assembly line style to get the whole tray done.

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I stick them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool them down quickly. Then I transfer them to a cooling rack so I can reuse the cookie sheet to make more. Once they’re completely cooled, you can store them in a container to bring to work like I did!

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The salty sweet combination is so addicting! And because they’re so little, it’s really hard to stop at just one… :P

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Yummy!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Turkey Kielbasa Hash

Another super belated post! This one is from a Christmas potluck-get together my friends and I had last year :)

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Yummy! Start with your ingredients:

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A couple of potatoes, red, green and yellow bell pepper, an onion and turkey kielbasa! I used this recipe and was very happy with the way it turned out!

Peel and dice the potatoes and start them in a big pan. I seasoned with salt, pepper, seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder. Not too heavy-handed or else it will be too salty.

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Cook the potatoes until they’re golden brown and soft on the inside – and when they smell really good! While the potatoes are cooking, start the kielbasa in another pan until the pieces are brown and yummy smelling too.

IMG_1054Once the kielbasa is done, take them out of the skillet and set aside. Start the bell peppers and onions in the pan.

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Pretty colors!

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Stir fry the peppers and onions until they’re soft, then add the kielbasa and potatoes into the pan.

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Serve hot! Very delicious and easy to make! The recipe makes a lot of food, so it was perfect for the potluck :)

Happy cooking~!

-Yenny

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Dragonfruit Lychee Smoothie

So my ┬ámom grows a TON of dragonfruit in her yard, and I get a bunch every time they’re in season! I usually give some away since I can’t eat it all but this time I decided to make a smoothie!

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I just blended the dragonfruit together with a can of lychees I had in my fridge.

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Isn’t that beautiful? I like to peel the dragonfruit skin off since you don’t waste any of the fruit that way. So cut into quarters and just peeeeel it off!

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This is how I also peel avocados :D

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Open up the lychees – I buy the kind that’s packed in syrup, which comes in handy for a smoothie!

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My immersion blender came with this handy blending cup, so I dumped all the dragonfruit chunks in, then the lychees, and then I added some of the syrup and some water so it wouldn’t be too sweet. Then blend away!

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That made plenty of smoothie for me to drink and it was yummy! Sweet and refreshing – I drank it throughout the day :)

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Easy, quick and pretty healthy! You can even omit the lychee syrup and use water or soy milk.

Enjoy!

-Yenny

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DIY Hello Kitty Bow Headband

HAPPY (belated) NEW YEAR!! Wow, 2014 sure went by quickly and I’m so looking forward to what 2015 will bring! I’m a bit behind in my posts so this one is actually from November during Hello Kitty Con in LA! The first ever Hello Kitty Convention and it was right in my city! My friend Melissa and I got our passes and as we were figuring out what to wear and when we decided to make bow headbands! Buying the headbands ranged from $25-$40 so we were not willing to pay that much. She sent me instructions to make the headbands (which I can’t find the link for anymore…) So here goes!

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I made a paper template to see what size i wanted my bow, and then I made a practice bow before I made the real one! Super cute, right? :D

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Put the paper template on top of the felt, and then carefully cut around it to get this shape:

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Like a rounded rectangle!

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Pinch the felt in the middle and make sure your pleats are even and you make the number of pleats you want.

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Cut a small piece of felt for the middle part, carefully wrap it around the middle without loosening the pleats and hot glue the ends together. Don’t make it too tight, a little wiggle room can help with any adjustments needed!

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Lastly, slide a thing headband into the loop and voila~! You’ve got your very own Hello Kitty bow headband!

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Here we are with our bows at Hello Kitty Con! It was very fun but SO crowded and SO tiring!! So glad our bow headbands turned out so well! We did buy black headbands so it would blend more with our hair :)

Project Breakdown:

– red felt (one square) – 33 cents

– headbands (multi-pack) – approximately $5

Total: approximately $5! So much cuter and cheaper than buying the pre-made ones! AND we can use the headbands on their own as well!

Happy crafting!

-Yenny

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Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

It was my friend Kim’s birthday in October and I baked her a Chocolate Raspberry Bundt cake for for birthday dinner! I really wanted to use my new Nordicware Fleur de Lis Bundt Pan so I scoured Pinterest for bundt cake recipes until I found one I liked. I made some slight moderations to the original recipe, but for the most part it stayed the same :)

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Start with your ingredients:

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In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing after each, and stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down the bowl as needed.

I always reduce the amount of sugar I use and instead of buying buttermilk (I can never use the whole carton) I buy regular milk and make buttermilk by adding lemon juice to curdle it. Grease and flour your bundt pan WELL so your cake doesn’t get stuck inside. Since the pan is pretty ornate, I was super careful to spray and flour all the nooks and crannies.

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It was only after I baked my cake that I realized I had OVERgreased and floured the pan :( Anyways, add a little batter, make sure it gets into the tips of the designs.

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The original recipe doesn’t call for raspberries in the middle of the cake, but I decided to chop some up and sprinkle them in

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Then I scooped more batter, another layer of chopped raspberries and then the final layer of batter.

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Then I popped it into the oven to bake! I put it in for 55 minutes and I think my cake was a little dry, I probably would take this out at 48-50 minutes (or even less) because the carryover heat will continue to bake it. In the meantime, I really wanted to make a raspberry syrup for the cake. I decided to use raspberry jam but I couldn’t find seedless jam so I had to STRAIN it to get it how I wanted it. I don’t recommend this lol.

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I made about a cup of the syrup before I got tired and gave up :P Time to take the cake out of the oven!

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Definitely puffed up! I pushed this as flat as I could before flipping it over. Cake came out very smoothly BUT

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Do you see how the edges are yellow? THAT is too much butter and flour! Lesson learned – don’t go overboard with the cooking spray hahaha

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Spoon the syrup over the cake. After doing this, I thought it kinda looked like blood… so I added fresh raspberries and some powdered sugar to make it look prettier!

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I’m MUCH happier with the way this looks!

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All lit up for the birthday girl!

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Happy birthday Kim!

Kim also has a really awesome food blog and is a MUCH better baker than I am! Go check out her recipes!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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DIY Christmas Wreath

It’s that time of year again! I feel like Christmas decorations start appearing in stores earlier and earlier every year! I saw Christmas stuff while I was shopping for my Halloween decorations! Yeesh. Anyways, this year I hung up my wreath on November 30th, right after Thanksgiving festivities were over :)

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I reused the red ribbon and green wreath-y part from last year and bought some new decorations at the 99cents store.

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I left the ribbon as is and tied the bell in the middle. The bows are on twist ties! Super easy to attach to the wreath :)

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I didn’t use all four bows because I thought it would look too crazy, so I just twist tied two of them on –

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Super easy and cute!

This project only cost me $2 in new supplies, the rest were reused from last year! I try to keep all my seasonal decorations if they’re in good condition so I don’t have to buy new stuff every year. More cost saving that way!

Happy crafting!

-Yenny

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