November 20, 2010

2010 Shutterfly Holiday Cards

A great resource for all your photo-storing needs is Shutterfly. You can upload all your photos for free, share with family and friends, and use your own photos for personalized items that make anyone smile. I am using Shutterfly for my Christmas cards this year. They have so many creative and beautiful cards to send to your family and friends. I've narrowed my choice for this year's card down to one of these designs:

Some of my other favorite items that would make great gifts:

*Wall Calendars:

My family makes one every year for Christmas and we all get a copy. It's the best to see the faces of those dearest to me all year long.


Turn your favorite photo into a puzzle! This is so cool! I think this would make a great wedding present or gift (for anyone from children to grandparents!)

*Photo Mugs:

Who doesn't like a personalized coffee cup?! Another great gift for Father's/Mother's Day or Christmas or Birthdays.

Be sure to check out Shutterfly for your photo needs at Christmas time and all year round!

*I am participating in Shutterfly's Holiday Cards promotion for 2010, and earned 50 free Christmas cards for writing this post. Thanks Shutterfly! Learn more here.

November 17, 2010

What I Love Wednesday!

This week I love...

...meeting new people! Making friends when you live across the country from your friends and family makes all the difference! The past month has brought new people into my life and I am so thankful to have friends to hang out with down here in South Texas!

November 16, 2010

{recipe} Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Weekly Test Recipes - week 43!

I made some Pumpkin Scones last week, and had to use up the rest of the pumpkin. Had this recipe bookmarked and it was perfect - between the two recipes I used exactly one can of pumpkin.


1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (can use AP, I used wheat)
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 c. canned pumpkin
1/3 c. olive oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Topping:
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

Steusel Topping:
4 1/2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour (can use AP - I used half and half)
5 tsp. white sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tsp. butter
3 tsp. chopped pecans

*You will need all three layers ready at the time you fill the muffin pans*

For muffins:
In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, olive oil and vanilla. Beat together until smooth.

For cream cheese:
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until soft. Add egg, vanilla and brown sugar. Beat until smooth.

For streusel:
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly.

Preheat oven to 375F*.

Fill greased or lined muffin tins 1/2 to 2/3 full with pumpkin batter.

Place tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on top, being careful not to let topping touch edges of liner.

Sprinkle streusel on top. Bake 375F for 20-25 minutes. Devour.

These are so yummy! I got 19 muffins out of the batter, but had extra cream cheese left over, and had to make more streusel for the last three muffins. They were highly praised at work, and are especially good with a cup of coffee or milk.


November 14, 2010

Stained Glass Window Art

I used this tutorial from V and Co. for wax paper and crayon art. It looks so beautiful! I ended up using these gorgeous leaves to decorate my therapy room window at work.

How to:
1. Cut small squares of wax paper. Mine were about 6"x6"
2. With the shiny side of the paper facing up, shave various colors of crayon onto the paper. I used a scissor for this. There may be safer ways to do this, but a scissors worked pretty well.
3. Lay a second piece of wax paper, shiny side down, on top of the crayon shavings.
4. Put your crayon-shavings-and-wax-paper sandwich on top of a paper towel on your ironing board, and place a second paper towel on top of the wax paper.
5. Iron on medium until crayons are melted, moving the iron around to make sure the crayon colors mix really well and cover the wax paper.
6. Once cool, place wax paper over an outline of the shape you want to cut out. I used a leaf shape. Trace with a pencil and cut out.

I mixed these leaves with construction paper leaves and cut a tree out of a paper bag for my window at work.

November 7, 2010

{recipe} Buttercream Frosting

Weekly Test Recipes - week 42!

I made cupcakes for a birthday at work, and decided to make the frosting the focus. I made the cupcakes out of a box mix for time-saving purposes (Funfetti!), then found a highly-rated and well-reviewed buttercream recipe from

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (adapted from allrecipes)

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Combine butter and shortening together until mixed very well (I beat with a mixer for about 2 minutes). Add powdered sugar and mix again for a few minutes until completely combined and very fluffy. Add vanilla and cream and mix until moistened. I ended up adding another splash of cream at the end to make it just a bit smoother. Yields enough for 18 cupcakes, but you could probably decorate 24 if you used less frosting on each one than I used.

I used this recipe for my first attempt at PIPING! I don't own a pastry piping bag, but I got a metal tube piping set in the Dollar Section at Target last Christmas. It worked fine for this, but it made one of my fingers numb from the way it was held. After about four truely sad looking cupcakes, I started to get the hang of it, and really like how they turned out! I sprinkled on some pink sugar sprinkles for the birthday girl after the piping was finished. I love how they look!

Rating: EXCELLENT! This frosting was stiff enough to hold the piping, was easy to work with, and tasted good!

November 3, 2010

What I Love

I'm starting a new regular post on this blog: What I Love Wednesday.

This week's obsession: Lemon Water!!

I've started pouring a bottle of water before going to bed and letting it sit on the counter overnight so it's room temperature in the morning. Before I go to work, I warm a lemon in the microwave for 20 seconds, roll on the counter to release the juices, slice in half, and squeeze the juice from one half into the water. I like the water room temperature because I can just down the stuff. But throughout the work day I refill the bottle with cold water and add additional lemon juice for a refreshing thirst quencher throughout the day.

It's nice because I usually am not a water drinker, but this is a great way to get my H20 intake because it has flavor. Try it!

November 1, 2010

See ya Halloween!!

On Friday my co-workers and I decided to dress up for Halloween, since we work with kids. I didn't want to wear a costume, so here's what I came up with....

Freezer paper stencils! I love these things. In the next couple weeks I'll be posting a tutorial about the freezer paper stencil Christmas gifts I made last year. They are so simple and fun! I'm SO GLAD Halloween is over because it is my least favorite holiday, and now the real holidays can begin! Welcome Thanksgiving! Can't wait until you're here Christmas!

P.S. This project is linked to: