Cupcake fail. Bummer.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I made cupcakes again this week, and thought I'd try a new recipe. I'm still searching for the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe - because this one was a huge cupcake FAIL. How disappointing to work for 2 hours on something, only to find that you could've made a better cupcake from a box mix!

I followed the recipe exactly - and there were a lot of reviews saying how it was such a good recipe and that the cupcakes were so moist. I didn't find that to be true at all. The texture was odd, the cupcake stuck to the liners, the middles of the cupcakes were concave, and the tops got entirely too brown. Major, major disappointment.

I've spent a lot of time debating whether or not to post the recipe/recipe link. I don't want to bash someone's recipe. So I think I'll do this - if you want to know the recipe/recipe link, you can email me and I'll tell you - but I won't publicly post it.

Here are my poor little failed cupcakes - at least the buttercream frosting was tasty. Normally, cupcakes would only last 2-3 days at my house. These poor babies will go stale before they're eaten.  :-(

I liked the Vanilla Vanilla Cupcake recipe that I used from Billy's Bakery - it was very light, but moist. I should've stuck with that one, LOL! If you have a to-die-for vanilla cupcake recipe, I'd love to try it.

Rock On!

A friend of mine recommended a new Beyond The Zone product, so of course, I had to try it. (Thanks, Vicki!) It's part of the new Rock On line - and this particular product is the Volumizing Powder. (Ingredients: water, silica silylate, phenoxyethanol, citric acid, quaternium-15) The price is $6.99 - or $6.49 with a Beauty Club card. There is a coupon available through the end of March - buy 2 BTZ products, get 1 free. This is good both in-store and online.

The directions on the bottle say: Use on dry hair. Sprinkle small amount of powder into palms and rub together. With fingers, comb through hair and lift into style. For extra volume apply directly to roots.

This powder is an unusual powder. It has a slightly damp feel to it - and it has almost a "plastic" look to it. When you rub it with your fingers, it disappears - and then you feel a slightly sticky residue on your fingers. Not sticky like a mousse or gel - but a "dry" sticky.

My hair is long and very heavy. Because of the weight, it's difficult for me to keep any height in the crown of my hair; even with back-combing and hairspray. It's especially difficult when my hair is freshly washed. I didn't expect a miracle, but I hoped that this product would help the teasing (I have to have a "bump"!) stay in better.

I don't use the product exactly as directed. This is mainly because I feel sprinkling it in my palms and then transferring to my fingers would cause me to use a lot more product than necessary. So I sprinkle the powder directly onto my fingertips, then rub my fingertips together to dissolve the powder. I quickly use my fingertips to apply the product directly to the roots of the hair at the crown of my head. I repeat two or three times, as needed. I would estimate the total amount of powder that I use to be about a half teaspoon - maybe less. Using it in this way keeps me from overusing the product - and my hair doesn't get that dirty, greasy look.

After applying the product, I use a small teasing brush on the treated roots and apply a small amount of Shaper hairspray. Normally, when my hair is freshly washed, the teasing doesn't work very well. It's like my hair just smooths itself back out. But with the Rock On Volumizing Powder, the "bump" stays in well.

I think this product would probably work very well on fine hair - especially short, fine hair. For hair like mine, it would never be enough on it's own - but it's really nice to find a product that helps me keep the style I want, even if I have to take additional measures.

There are a few other products in the Rock On line, although I haven't tried those yet. There is a dry shampoo and a flexible hold hairspray.

BTZ Rock On dry shampoo (photo courtesy of Sally's Beauty)

BTZ Rock On Flexible Hold Hair Spray (photo courtesy of Sally's Beauty)

Have you tried any of these products? If so, how do you use them & what do you think?

What would I do without you?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You know how every once in awhile, you make a purchase, and you discover that the item is spectacular? You don't know how you lived without it - and it was the best money you ever spent?

When we moved into our current home almost 3 years ago, I bought a Bissell Spotlifter ($39.99 w/free shipping) from
With three cats and a dog, it's not "will" there be a mess on the carpet, it's "when will" there be a mess on the carpet. This little $40 machine is worth it's weight in gold. I hope that they never stop making these, because I don't ever want to be without one again.

I use this little beauty at least once a week. And this past week, it's really gotten a workout. I have two sick kitties - 'nuf said. I love this little cleaner, love, love, love it.

It's really easy to use - and it does a great job of cleaning up spills/stains - and is also great at sucking all of the solution back out of the carpet, too. It really is just for spot-cleaning, because it only holds a charge for about 15 minutes - but that's always been plenty of time for me.

My only complaint is that it's impossible to keep the reservoir completely clean. Stuff gets wedged into the nooks & crannies & no matter how much you rinse & shake it, something always sticks. I just try to rinse mine with a little bleach water every now & then so it won't be smelly.

As I mentioned, it's almost 3 years old, and it's still going strong. Definitely worth the $40 price tag! If you have kids or pets, check it out!

Cookie recipes, part 2

Monday, March 29, 2010

Last Monday, I posted recipes for three of my favorite cookies - chocolate chip, Mexican wedding cakes, and spritz.

Today, I'm going to give you the recipes for my oatmeal, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter cookies. I'm going to have to bake some cookies when I finish here - my mouth is watering!

Gus and Buddy really like my oatmeal cookies. My secret ingredient is a package of Quaker Cinnamon & Spice instant oatmeal. The spices are perfect for a cookie!

Oatmeal Cookies
(makes 30-36 cookies)

1/2 c. butter-flavored Crisco
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. Quaker Cinnamon & Spice instant oatmeal
approx. 3/4 c. uncooked oatmeal (I use Quaker regular oatmeal)
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. walnuts (optional)
1/2 c. raisins (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, cream Crisco and sugars; add egg and vanilla; mix well. Pour the package of Cinnamon & Spice oatmeal into a 1 cup measuring cup, then continue filling to the top with the regular oatmeal. Place the oatmeal in another mixing bowl, then add the flour, baking soda, & salt; mix well. Add dry ingredients to first bowl, mix together well. Add nuts & raisins, if desired.

Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. If you want them to be really chewy, don't allow the edges to brown too much.


Gus really likes my peanut butter cookies, too. The ones with the chocolate kisses in the center are usually a hit - but he likes his plain. My secrets for these cookies are: Jif peanut butter; don't press the cookie down too far; and sprinkle the tops lightly with granulated sugar.

Peanut Butter Cookies
(makes 36-40 cookies)

1/2 c. butter-flavored Crisco
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. Jif peanut butter
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Hershey's kisses, unwrapped (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl, cream Crisco and sugars. Add egg, vanilla, and peanut butter; mix well. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together, then add to first bowl; mix well. Roll dough into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter. Using a fork (it's best to dampen it with water), lightly press down on dough - then turn fork 90 degrees and press a second time - so that the fork marks criss-cross. Sprinkle tops lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cookies edges should not be brown - if the edges brown darker than a golden color, the cookie is usually burnt on the bottom.


The last cookie recipe is for snickerdoodles. This recipe came from my Grammy - and they are the best cookies ever! They are best served from the oven; only cooling them enough to keep them from breaking when you hold them. Mmmmmmm!!

(makes about 60 cookies)

1 c. butter-flavored Crisco
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
cinnamon & granulated sugar mix

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In bowl, cream Crisco and sugar. Add vanilla and egg, mixing well. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar together; add to first bowl.; mix well. Shape dough into small balls (I use a heaping tsp. of dough to make a ball about 1 1/4 inch in diameter). Roll balls in cinnamon/sugar mix, then place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

I do not allow these cookies to brown at all - not even on the edges.

For the cinnamon/sugar mix: you can buy premixed bottles at the grocery store in the baking aisle, but I usually make my own. I don't really measure - I have a container that I use for mixing and it holds about 1/2 c. sugar. If I had to guess how much cinnamon I add, I would say it's 1-2 tsp. You can vary it according to your taste.

Enjoy!! If you try any of the recipes, let me know!

Easter cupcakes

Sunday, March 28, 2010

C'mon - you knew I was going to blog about Easter cupcakes, didn't you?

I was reading an article about "the cutest ever Easter cupcakes" on the Food Network website and when I got to the picture of the little lamb cupcakes, I laughed out loud! I'm not sure how they would taste - but they are so adorable! And I bet kids would have a blast making them. But somehow I don't think I could talk Buddy & Lulu into making them with me. Gosh, they get so difficult when they're over 18. Sigh.

How darned cute are these??? They remind me of the sheep in the Serta mattress commercials, LOL!

Food Network's Little Lamb Cupcakes

I love these sparkling baby cakes cupcake beauties (also from Food Network)! They're almost too pretty to eat. Not really. I would devour that cupcake in a heartbeat. Her and her pretty little dog, too. Yum.

Food Network's Sparkling Baby Cakes

These little bunny cupcakes are from, and I think they're pretty darned cute, too. They have several Easter cupcake ideas on their website.

Wilton's Sweet Tooth Bunny Cupcakes

Anyone planning to make Easter/spring cupcakes? What are you making?

Da Bomb

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I love pretty things. I especially love pretty pink things. So when I saw Benefit's Sugarbomb, I fell in love. Until I saw the price. :-(

 Benefit's Sugarbomb $28

$28 isn't unreasonable (it also comes with a brush, but I have a brush exactly like it), but when you already own more blush than you could use in 5 years, even if you applied it three times per day - well, you just hate to spend even more money on blush. LOL! Then I realized that I could probably make my own version of Sugarbomb. I'm going to call mine "Da Bomb".  :-)

That's one of the reasons I love mineral makeup - you can easily mix colors to get a perfect match or just come up with something new. So I pulled out all of my Aromaleigh blushes and picked four that I thought would work well together.

Since I always wear sunless tanner in the summer, I decided that I would need to go a bit darker & warmer than Benefit's Sugarbomb. I ended up choosing Epitome (a pretty peach w/ shimmer), Candy (candy pink w/shimmer), Beauteous (rose w/shimmer), and Serenity (a warm plum).

my blush color choices

the first mix was a bit darker than what I wanted

so I added more Candy & Beauteous - love it!

In the last picture, I have bronzer on my hand - so this is how Da Bomb looked after using my fingers to buff it onto the back of my hand. I'm pretty pleased with the color. I have an idea for making it a little more "pearlescent", which I think would be great for that glowing, slightly flushed look. I also have a couple of other ideas for mixes, so I'll probably be sharing those as soon as Aromaleigh reopens on April 5th and I can order a few samples.

Speaking of Aromaleigh blush samples - it's a great way to have a lot of blush options. $2 gets you a generous sample - enough to last for at least 7-10 uses (maybe more). And if you only order samples, you have the option to choose free shipping! They also offer mini jars of blush, which are $8 each. If you can catch the blush when it's 25% off, you'll only pay $1.50 for samples and $6 for the mini jars!

Recipe for "Da Bomb"
1 part Serenity
1 part Epitome
2 parts Candy
2 parts Beauteous

(all blushes are from Aromaleigh's Pure Mineral Rouge collection

Target loves me, loves me not...

Friday, March 26, 2010

I was wandering through Target yesterday, and I saw all of these cute, colorful bins! I want them all!! Target loves me...

Silly me, I was so mesmerized by the colors, I forgot to check the prices! I really want some for my linen closet and laundry room. I think purple for the linen closet and green for the laundry room. Maybe the black for my closet?

And since the shoe department is so close to home goods, I strolled over there to take a look, too. I ended up getting these cute brown suede flats (on sale for $13.88) - very comfy! They had them in several other colors - black, fuchsia, dark green, muted lime/spring green, mustard, and I think there may have been one more, but I can't remember what it was...

Apparently Angus thinks they're cute, too!

And they had the most adorable rain boots on sale for $20 - but they were out of my size in the style I wanted. I checked online, but they didn't have my size there either. I've been wanting a pair of rain boots, but didn't want to pay a fortune for them, so these would be perfect. And I could have used them today! LOL! I'm starting to think the rain is never going to stop.

I really wanted these :-(

Or these :-(

but I may settle for these...

or these...

But I really, really love the pink and brown ones. Target loves me not...

A day in the life...

Ever have one of those days when you know before you even get out of bed that it's not going to be good? Let me tell you a little story...

The other day, I woke up later than usual. So already, I'm behind. Great. As soon as I open my eyes, I realize that my head hurts. Now I'm behind and I have a headache. It's gonna be a great day...

I'm in the bathroom, doing the normal morning routine - washing my face, brushing my teeth, fixing my hair. Then I try to look at the back of my hair in the mirror when I realize I'm holding the hairbrush and not a mirror. Please note: this does not work.

Moving on to makeup...everything is going pretty well now. Maybe everything will be okay. Sigh of relief. Oh, no. Wait. Blinked while the mascara wand was against my upper lashes. Now my eye is watering & I have a ton of mascara under my eye. Pretty. Maybe I should leave it there - it speaks to my state of mind.
I manage to fix things (I think - it's hard to know for sure when you can't open your eye all the way) - and it's back to the bathroom to pop in the contacts & give the hair one more spritz of hairspray. %#@*!!!! Apparently my eyes are open enough to take a direct stream of hairspray. Well, that really sucked.

I'm afraid to venture out of the house, but I really need to go to Walgreens. I'm starting to sweat. It's just up the street - less than a mile - and I only need a couple of things. It should be okay. Man up!! Be brave!!

Got the car out of the garage & down the driveway without mishap. That's a good sign! Hey! I made it to the end of the street - I can see Walgreens - I'm almost there. I start to smile.
There's a dark green Saturn Sky that made it to the 4-way stop ahead of me. Who is that driving? OMG BECKY. It's a little old lady. Like ancient old. Older than, well, the oldest thing you can think of...WTF is she doing in a sportscar? She can barely see over the steering wheel. She's pulling out into the intersection...wait...wait...wait...she's still in the intersection...wait...wait...wait...she's going into the right turning lane. Wait. Wait., she's going into the left turning lane...wait...wait...wait...oh, she's just going to straddle the lanes.

OMG BECKY AGAIN. She's going straight - just like me. Whew! She's getting into the other lane. Wait. Wait., she's getting back in front of me. Wait. Wait. Wait. She's inching back over into the other lane. No, no - she's going to turn into Walgreens from the wrong lane. 'Kay.
There are at least 10 open spaces that I can see...she's turning left into the parking lot. Wait. Wait. Wait. She's stopped. In the middle of the parking lot. Can't get around her - can't back up. She's just sitting there. Wait - she's moving now. There are two open spots together - I think she's going to park there. She's inching forward. Inching. Inching. Stopped. IN. THE. MIDDLE. OF. THE. PARKING. LOT. AGAIN. Waiting...

Oh, she's moving again. Inching forward. Inching forward. She's halfway in the spot. Well, she's between the two spaces, but I don't care how she parks, I just want her to get the hell out of my way. MOVE THE CAR!! I may have made a rude hand gesture at this point.

I drive around to the other side of the parking lot, park my car, walk about 50 feet to the door - and she is just getting out of her car. **takes a deep breath and prays that she doesn't get in front of me in the checkout line** (BTW - she's about 4 feet tall and is wearing a wig in one of those incredibly unnatural colors.)

Oh, please! They're out of Snickers and Twix bars? WTF?? How can they be out of Snickers and Twix bars? I need these for an Easter basket. I don't want to go to another store! The little voice in the back of my head is laughing it's ass off and I am not amused. I wonder if a shot of tequila would shut that little f-er up?
Great! There's only one person in line ahead of me. Now I can just get out of here and go home where it's relatively safe. OMG. She's just standing there chatting with the cashier. Chatting, chatting, chatting. Um, hello? Another person in line here! OMG. SHE'S WRITING A CHECK. Who writes a check these days? Does she have any of it filled out in advance? NO. Writing. Writing. Talking. Writing. Laughing. Talking. Writing. Is there steam coming out of my ears yet? PEOPLE!!!! If you must write a check, please fill out as much as possible before getting in line!!

Finally. She's picking up her bag. Oh, no. Wait. She forgot something. OMG. The cashier is getting it for her!! Please tell me this isn't happening. There are five people in line & this is the only cashier. Oh, please, please!! DO NOT WRITE ANOTHER CHECK. No, no, it's worse. She's scrounging in her bottomless handbag for change to pay for it. Oh, there's a quarter! Dig, dig, dig. Here's another quarter! I can't even pretend to not be aggravated at this point. Brilliant cashier decides to call for another cashier. Why bother now?

Shut up, voice - I hear you laughing your ass off. You are so getting a shot of tequila when I get home.
Things will be better tomorrow. They can't get worse. Can they? They can't, right?

not Thursday's Blog...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Instead of talking about a blog today, I'm going to talk about Stamps to the Rescue.

If you haven't heard about this yet, on March 17, the United States Postal Service announced the 2010 Animal Rescue: Adopt A Shelter Pet commemorative postage stamps. The USPS, Ellen Degeneres, and Halo, Purely for Pets are working together to promote awareness of the cause.

Here's the deal - you buy the special pet stamps (and we all buy stamps anyway, right?) and Halo donates food to animal shelters. You use the stamps and that helps promote awareness. You can preorder the stamps now - and they will be available starting April 30.

The stamps feature photos of 10 shelter animals - and at the time they were photographed, all but one had been successfully adopted. They are adorable! If you go to the Stamps to the Rescue website, you can see the pictures/stamps - and if you hover over each pictures, you can read their individual stories.


You can also read about the basics of adopting a pet. And you can buy additional Stamps to the Rescue merchandise from the USPS.

Other supporters include,, American Humane, and The Humane Society.

According to the Humane Society, between six and eight million cats and dogs end up in shelters each year. Four million of those are euthanized. Please spay and neuter your pets - and if you're planning to get a pet, please consider adopting from a shelter. If you can't adopt, then please consider donating money, supplies, or your time to a local shelter. Most are run by volunteers and can only continue to save animals with your help.

Brilliant or crazy?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I can't decide if these mugs are a brilliant invention or the goofiest things I've ever seen, LOL! Obviously a great gift for the person who has everything - and loves to drink coffee/tea/cocoa!

Lap Mug (picture courtesy of Uncommon Goods)

This is a Lap Mug from Uncommon Goods. Apparently perfect for balancing on your lap/between your legs. But I have to ask...what if you have to jump up to answer the door or phone? Where do you set the mug? LOL! Interesting concept - a conversation-starter, for sure - but definitely something I would only find useful on vacation; when I can actually sit and drink an entire beverage without interruption. :-)

Knee Mug (picture courtesy of Uncommon Goods)

And here's the Knee Mug for those who prefer to rest their drink on their knee/leg. This one appears to be a little more practical - it looks as though you might be able to set this one down without it tipping over.

The only person I've ever known who rested his coffee mug on his lap/knee was my Papa (my grandpa). If he was at home, he had a mug of coffee. Never a cup - always a mug. Sometimes, you'd see him out on the riding mower in the blazing sun - with a mug of coffee resting on his leg. Every time Gus & I would go on vacation, we'd bring Papa a new souvenir mug. A few of those precious mugs now call my kitchen cabinet home - and I smile a bittersweet smile when I see them. Papa truly would have appreciated the technology in the knee mug. And he would have made up a silly story about it. He made up silly songs & stories about everything. :-)

1994 - Buddy & Papa (and his coffee mug!)

It all adds up

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Over the past year, I've really been trying to be more "green", and to also save money. I'm not one to scrimp (unless it's really necessary), but I knew there were areas where I could cut back without feeling too much of a pinch.

For instance, Lulu and I would easily go through a case of Dasani water per week. That was costing us a minimum of $24/month, $288/year - and a minimum of 1152 plastic bottles. Granted, we recycled the bottles, but that's still a lot of plastic. So I bought a Brita water pitcher (on sale & using a coupon, I paid $3), enough filters for a year (on sale & using coupons, I paid $21), and 3 reusable water bottles (paid a total of $20). I spent a total of $44 - saving a minimum of $244 the first year! And our recycling volume went down by 1/2 to 1/3 - just by eliminating the bottles.

The other thing I knew could be trimmed down was my Starbucks expenditures. I admit it - I'm addicted to their sweetened black ice tea. I was spending a minimum of $30/week - which translates into $1560/year! On tea!! It didn't seem like much per day, but when you look at the whole picture, it adds up quickly. (Not to mention that I was always tempted to get a pastry while I was there!) I decided to make my own Starbucks tea! Gus bought their iced tea shaker and a large pump bottle of classic syrup for me, and I bought a box of their large iced tea bags and another bottle of syrup. After I used all of their syrup, I saved the bottles/pumps and made my own simple syrup from sugar and water. I even saved about a dozen of the cups, lids, & straws from Starbucks to reuse for my drinks. So factoring in shipping charges, making my own tea for a year only costs $154 - which is a savings of $1406 per year! Now that's impressive! And that doesn't include the savings on gas and wear & tear on my car - and the pastry calories I'm not consuming. I've perfected my tea-making to the point where I actually like my Starbucks tea better than theirs! LOL!

I've never been one to clip coupons much - or even really look at the grocery ads to see what is on sale. I find it frustrating because most of the time, it seems that the stuff that is on sale is unhealthy or something we would never eat/use. Same with coupons - so many of them are for things/brands that we just wouldn't use. To me, it's not a savings if you're buying stuff that's cheap, but you'll never eat/use it. But I've been giving it a shot lately. I don't stock up on a bunch of stuff, but I do look for sales - and I use a few coupons - but I only buy things that I would have bought anyway. In January, I saved $300 (a chunk of that was due to free cat/dog food from frequent buyers' cards) - and in February, I saved $140. Once again, it will add up over time - even if it's not impressive on a weekly basis.


It doesn't have to be painful - and it doesn't have to be a long, involved process. It's possible to cut back in small ways that will add up over time. And you can definitely be "green" in the process, too.
  • carry your reusable shopping bags with you (I always have at least 2 in my purse)
  • keep a small recycling container on each level of your home so that it's convenient to recycle (I use large reusable shopping bags that are waterproof)
  • buy a water pitcher/filter and use reusable water bottles
  • get a decorative rain barrel (or just use colorful plastic tubs) to catch rainwater & then use it to water plants when there is a dry spell
  • if you have a dog, save your bread bags or other plastic bags to scoop the poop in your yard and/or on walks (no need to buy special bags!)
How have you saved money? How are you helping the environment? Share your ideas!

Cookie recipes...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cookies count for Monday's Meal, don't they? Who doesn't love freshly-baked cookies? I like them best when they're just cool enough to not fall apart, but still warm enough to make you close your eyes & sigh with contentment. Yum.

I have a few tried-and-true recipes that I've used over the years - and they're always a big hit. I'm a cookie baker who likes her cookies to be chewy in the center and just slightly crunchier at the edges. No hard, crunchy cookies in this kitchen!! The one exception is my Mexican wedding cakes, but even those aren't really crunchy.

This is a tray of cookies that I made for Gus to take to work at Christmastime:

I thought I'd share my cookies recipes with you - starting with the Mexican wedding cakes. Lulu loves these - and even though I'm not a fan of this type of cookie, I think they're pretty tasty, too.

Mexican Wedding Cakes
(makes 36-42 cookies)

1 c. butter (or butter-flavored Crisco)
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 c. chopped pecans

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in bowl. Add vanilla and flour; mix well. Add pecans; mix well. Roll dough into balls about the size of a walnut. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then roll in powdered sugar. It's messy rolling them in sugar while they're still warm, but it melts the sugar slightly - then you can roll them in sugar a second time to get a nice even coating.

These cookies are best stored in tins. They can also be frozen.


This spritz cookie recipe came from Gus's grandmother. According to him, no one bakes cookies like Grandma A. - and if he says something I made is "almost as good as Grandma A's", then I have almost achieved perfection and there is no greater compliment. Someday, I hope to hear my grandchildren saying that "no one bakes cookies like GiGi (or Grammy or whatever they decide to call me)".

Spritz Cookies
(makes about 5 dozen)

1 c. butter (or butter-flavored Crisco)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract (I use almond)
1 egg
dash of salt
2 1/4 c. flour

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together in bowl. Add egg and almond/vanilla extract; mix well. In separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder - then add to other ingredients. Fill cookie press with dough - press cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

If you're decorating the cookies with colored sugar, nonpareils, or sprinkles, you can add these before baking. You can also ice the cookies after baking/cooling. You can also tint the cookie dough with food coloring or gel coloring before adding it to the cookie press.


The last recipe I'm posting today is the one for chocolate chip cookies. This is a recipe that I have used since I started baking cookies around age 12. Everyone always loved these cookies - but for some reason, when other people try the recipe, the cookies never turn out exactly like mine. And no, I don't have a secret ingredient! LOL! These are definitely chewy cookies - if you like yours firmer, I recommend substituting white sugar for the brown sugar.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes 48-60 cookies)

1 c. butter-flavored Crisco
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. water
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream Crisco and sugars together in bowl. Add vanilla, water, and eggs. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in another bowl, then add to first mixture. Finally, add the chocolate chips, mixing well. Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Tip: I like to use parchment paper under my cookies when I bake them!

More recipes soon!

Old Time Candy

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Who doesn't have a favorite candy from when you were a kid? Chances are, one or more of your favorites are no longer available. But there is an online store that has a TON of "old time candy"!

I've shopped at Old Time Candy in the past - they have great customer service & fast shipping. Right now, if you use the code ebunny, you get 10% off your order.

 5 lb. Easter basket (picture courtesy of Old Time Candy)

One of their offerings is a 5 lb. Easter basket for $39.99. The description from the site says:
Each basket is packed with jelly beans, speckled malted eggs, chocolate foiled eggs, caramel and marshmallow eggs, Reese's peanut butter eggs, chocolate Bunnyettes, yellow Peeps, chocolate animals, Cadbury Eggs, chocolate rabbit, Easter Pez, Tootsie bank, giant Pixy Stix and the following retro toys: paddle ball game, finger trap and wooden pop gun. The basket measures almost 12 inches wide at the top edge and 7.5 inches deep. It holds a whopping 5 lbs of candy and toys with a height of over 11 inches.

 3 lb. Easter box (picture courtesy of Old Time Candy)

Then there is the 3 lb. Easter box for $24.99. The description is as follows:
Over three pounds of Easter favorites including yellow Peeps, chocolate foiled eggs, jelly beans, speckled malted eggs, caramel marshmallow eggs, chocolate Bunnyettes, Reese's Peanut Butter eggs, chocolate rabbit, chocolate Easter animal and Cadbury Eggs packed in an Easter box. 

 (picture courtesy of Old Time Candy)

They also offer tons of other pre-made gift baskets/boxes. But my favorite thing is their bulk and penny candy - which you can use to pack-a-bag. Yes, that's right - just like you used to do at the penny candy store! You pick the candy and the amount and fill the bag with your favorite candies!!

Definitely check them out for a really neat option for Easter (or any other occasion, or really any non-occasion, because candy is always appropriate, LOL).

You can also become a fan of Candy Dude Bob on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter

Key West, part 1

Saturday, March 20, 2010

To me, Key West is one of those places that you either love or hate - there is no ambivalence. I'm definitely a Key West lover - although it wasn't always that way.

The first time Gus & I went to Key West was in 1998. I surprised him with the trip for our 10th anniversary. Since neither of us had been there before, we weren't really sure what to expect. Our first surprise was the little 8-seat puddle jumper that flew us from Orlando to Key West. Wow. This was only the third time I had been on a plane and I wasn't completely comfortable with the whole idea - and then to get on this little thing that reeked of exhaust and made so much noise, well, it was more than just a little disturbing to me. I also have a fear of water - and I can't swim - so flying over the water in this little dinky plane was even more frightening.

As we approached Key West, we were trying to see the airport. If you haven't been there and if you ever go, don't blink - because you'll miss it. In August of 1998, it was being renovated. So here was this tiny little airport that wasn't much larger than a grocery store - and it was all boarded up on the outside. It honestly looked like an abandoned warehouse. Now we really weren't sure what to expect!

Then came our shock as we walked out of the airport. If you've ever been in the Keys in August, you know exactly what I mean. Even if you're completely cool & dry, once you step outside into the humidity, you're dripping wet within 5 minutes. The air is so heavy it's difficult to breath at times. No wonder the airfare & hotel rates were so reasonable! LOL! No one wants to be in Key West in August - not even the locals. Or maybe especially not the locals!

We stayed at the Casa Marina Resort, which is absolutely gorgeous - but a bit far from town. You can walk it, but it's really much more than most people would want to do. We ended up renting scooters, which was probably the best thing about that first trip!

 Casa Marina Resort - Key West

Our second trip to Key West was in November 2002. This time we had Buddy and Lulu with us - and we arrived on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. We had high hopes for a better experience because the weather was more temperate and we were only going to be there for a day. We walked around downtown a bit, and then went to the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park with Buddy and Lulu. Even though there were three ships in port that day, it wasn't too bad. All in all, it was a good trip and we were warming up to Key West.

Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas

In June 2003. I took a 4 day cruise with my sister on Carnival's Fascination, and we had a stop in Key West. Again, lovely weather - it wasn't too crowded. I stood in front of the live cam by Sloppy Joe's, called Gus on my cellphone, and waved to him, LOL! I was starting to really like Key West!

 Carnival's Fascination

Gus & I decided to make another trip in January 2004. This time we stayed at the Almond Tree Inn on Truman Avenue. This is a bit of a walk to the center of activity on Duval St., but it's not bad. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it was very nice inside. I was impressed. The weather was gorgeous - we wore shorts & t-shirts the entire time we were there. We visited Irish Kevin's, Sloppy Joe's, Margaritaville - all of the fun spots. We even took a sunset cruise on a catamaran.

Almond Tree Inn - Key West

Our last trip to Key West was in January 2005. Gus & I stayed at Ambrosia House on Fleming Street. This place was right in the middle of all the action! It took less than 5 minutes to walk to Margaritaville.

Ambrosia House - Key West

outside our door

the resident kitty - he even came into our room to stay for awhile!

And these are just a few pictures that I've taken in Key West - some of my favorites. I'll probably do more posts in the future about Key West restaurants, bars, things-to-do, etc.
Mallory Square - it's sure not like this at sunset!

took this while on a catamaran

Key West as viewed from the plane

another shot from the plane


more bougainvillea

Wisteria Island (better known as Christmas Tree Island)

Looking at all of these pictures makes me want to go back!!