Valentine’s Day Candy Molds!

Hi guys!

So, this semester is supposed to be my craziest one yet. So far it is, but not for the right reasons.

I’m taking almost all psychology classes, and I have a job with a psych professor (I assume you’re all applauding) BUT since the very first day of classes after winter break, we’ve been bombarded by snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm. There have been almost as many snow days as class days (and we’re expecting another storm today, of course). That might sound fun, but I’m soooo not about it anymore. And I’m not the only one, either. My cousin made this her profile picture on Facebook:

Plus, I’m one of those people who can’t function without structure, and so Wednesday and Thursday both being snow days seriously made my brain hurt.

My friend Alli and I are alike in that way, so we’ve been suffering together, spending endless hours in the library doing work that hasn’t been assigned yet. Everyone off campus has supposedly lost power from this last storm, and they even made our Health Sciences building into a shelter for residents of our town. We had figured it was too dangerous to leave, until we hit rock bottom on our boredom scale. We had to get out, and naturally we ended up at the craft store.

Our friend Jill has a car on campus, so we took the bus down to the parking lot where she keeps it. The temperature was that painful level of cold where your eyes tear and then the tears freeze to your face, and we missed the first bus so we had to wait for another one. When we got there, her car was buried under like, three inches of snow and a layer of ice above it. The people in the parking spot across from her were also trying to dig their car out, and it kind of turned into a ruthless competition of who was going to get out first. The two girls kept giving us looks from the backseat of their nice warm car while the three of us hacked away at Jill’s car and their guy friend handled theirs. In the end, they got out first. But we were there first so technically we still win.

It pretty much felt like we were in the middle of “Frozen,” and I was starting to get really nervous about the roads. I got into a bad accident a few years ago because of black ice, so it freaks me out a lot. But as soon as we got out to the highway, everything was dry as a bone. There were no trees down, no wires down, and I only noticed a few buildings that seemed to be out of power. The Michael’s that we go to is in a giant strip mall (it’s really like a series of strip malls…it’s like an adorable little neighborhood full of every store you could ever want. I love it there!) and everything seemed to be up and running. I don’t really understand how we ended up in a state of emergency and all this stuff. 

We ended up in that section of the store for cake decoration and candy making. They have molding chocolate (well, most of them are vanilla flavored, but they also had chocolate and peanut butter) in every color and you can choose which ones you want and a mold to put them in. They have molds for lollipops, pretzels, or just plain candy, and they’re super cheap. There was a package with like hundreds of shapes in it for $9.99, and the candy wasn’t bad either. 

We got back to campus without incident, and here’s the best part of this project: We didn’t have to sign out the kitchen! You can literally do this right in your dorm room. Here’s what ya do:

1. Melt the molding candy stuff in the microwave the way it says on the package. Don’t deviate from those directions, because if you do it too long, it’ll burn. When it burns it smells bad and can start a fire and gets chunky, not liquid-y. We got red and pink candy, and here’s what it looked like before and after melting (we mixed colors for fun, but yours will be a solid shade if you use one color)

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2. Put the melted candy in the molds. We used a spoon, but they suggest a piping bag because it’s more precise. We’re dorm chefs, we don’t have piping bags sitting around. We’re lucky if we have spoons lying around, actually. 

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3. Once all of the molds are filled, you can even off the tops if you want to, but we didn’t bother. We put them right in the freezer and waited for a while until they had hardened back up. 

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4. Once they’re solid again, you can pop them right out and eat them right away! Here’s how ours turned out:

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They’re not all perfect, but we are first-time candy makers. I can’t wait to try this again, because they can be so impressive but it’s so so so so easy. We did this in like a half hour in four easy steps. Then, we went around our building offering them to our friends and even some strangers 🙂 It was a lot of fun!

So if any of you are as single as I’m going to be this Friday, there’s still something you can do. Make these cute little guys and spread some Valentine’s Day love to everyone around you. Candy is much better than boys anyway 😉

Oodles and oodles of love,

Nicole ♥

Valentine’s Day Fortune Cookies

Well,  I think the time has come to start giving you guys Valentine’s Day ideas. I’m really sorry that I ran out of steam for the end of the 25 Days of Christmas, but now there are some secrets to save for next Christmas 😉

So, I saw these perfect, adorable little fortune cookies that I was so excited to make for you guys. I was like: “this is great! What an adorable way to spend the day. You order chinese and just hang out, watch movies etc. Then, it’s fortune cookie time. Instead of finding a regular, boring tan one, that says “you will be hungry again in one hour” (true story, that really happened to me) you find a colorful one made with love by your significant other.

I clicked the link, and it brought me to a Martha Stewart project page entitled “Felt Fortune Cookies.” What in the world do you do with a felt fortune cookie?? And tell me that these little guys wouldn’t have fooled you too.

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Okay, maybe I should have guessed by the opened one in the corner with hershey kisses in it, but I just noticed that right now. I was super annoyed, but I thought “okay, I’ll still give it a chance. It might still be easy and cute.” So I take a trip to Michael’s, which is 20 minutes away and ti was snowing, by the way. I assemble all of the listed materials, which are: felt, ribbon, fabric shears, wire cutters and craft glue. I thought nothing of the fact that it required wire cutters but no wire. I got all of my materials home, and started the project.

“Step one: Using wire cutters, cut a piece of floral wire slightly shorter than the length of ribbon.”

Can I just take a poll of how many people have floral wire sitting around their house? What even is floral wire? Come on, Martha. Step it up.

So, then I was determined to find a fortune cookie recipe. As you know, I’m limited to what I can find on Pinterest only, because this blog is dedicated to helping you figure out what’s actually easy and what’s just labelled “easy” as a sick joke. I did find one pretty quickly, and I have a funny little story about it.

So I’ve been trying to come up with a fitness pin to blog about, because I mentioned in the very beginning that I would include those, and I haven’t yet because it’s really hard for me to work out at school. Now that I’m home and back at my regular gym, I can start to try again. I came across this pin that claimed to be a Jillian Michaels recipe for losing five pounds. Here it is:

I was like “oh, this is cool. I could totally do this for the blog.” So I pinned it to my “For the Blog” board and promptly moved on to my fortune cookie search. The first one that I found took me to a blog called “My Name is Yeh.” Ironically, the girl’s name is Molly so I’m kind of confused but she’s adorable, and I really like her blog.

OH it’s her last name. Continuing.

She has this fortune cookie recipe that she says is way better than restaurant ones. She also said it’s chewy though, so I’m a bit skeptical. Regardless, she posted a bunch of pictures of her finished product, and take a look at the one of the fortunes she wrote:

I was a little weirded out, considering I just pinned a juice cleanse to the blog board, so I went back to it and clicked the link. I got an error message telling me that the page was taken down due to a possible problem with the page’s content.

UMM WHO ARE YOU, MOLLY? GOD?

Anyway, I’m live-baking today, so I’m finding out about these fortune cookies as I write about them, just like live-crafting. Here’s the link so you can follow along without me having to explain eeeeverything. http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/189801/diy-fortune-cookies-for-christmas/

Okay, all of my ingredients are together. They’re not too crazy, but I did make a couple adjustments. I used cinnamon and nutmeg rather than cardamom, because I didn’t know what it was and the internet said this was a substitute. I also am adding red food coloring to make them more Valentine’s Day-like.  I also have to separate more eggs! I’m glad I had that miserable meringue experience now 🙂

Okay, so I mixed all of my dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, and I’m about to mix them, but I’m a little skeptical about how this little bit of liquid is going to mix with aaaall of that flour and sugar.

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Aaaaand I was right. I’m very confused. This is not a batter, it’s dough. That’s fine if it works, but her mix looks like she’s making pancakes and mine looks like I’m baking cookies. I’m gonna go with it.

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I’m using the mason jar method that she mentioned to get the right shape and size. I took it off of a decorative one that my sister has in her room. Shhh, don’t tell her.

Oh my God it’s so sticky.

Okay, so I have three set up on parchment paper, and I’m moving them to a tray to put them in the oven for their 5-7 minutes.

It’s taking longer than five minutes…longer than 7 minutes…okay 8 minutes to turn golden brown. The problem is, they look like regular cookies. They’re too thick and unfoldable.

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In addition to not looking like a fortune cookie, it tasted like way too many spices and it kind of gave me a headache. I threw the rest of the batter out. Also, I just realized I forgot to put in the red food coloring anyway. Duh. Well, I’m clearly out of practice. I haven’t baked since my last blog. Ugh, ya live and learn I guess. I may try to find another recipe for fortune cookies to see if this was something I did wrong or if Molly is in fact not God. If I do, you’ll be the first to know!

See you next week!

Love,

Nicole ♥

Day 21: Copycat Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice

This recipe is too sweet for most people I know, but those words are not in my vocabulary, so naturally it’s one of my favorites 🙂 If you’ve never tried it, it’s worth at least one try, and this copycat recipe is a great way to do that.

Today my Christmas present from Lindsay, my best friend at school (you guys remember Lindsay; she knows how to make peanut butter cookies) came in the mail. It presented the perfect opportunity for me to make a nice hot drink for a cold winter day 🙂 

Actually, it’s about 60 degrees Fahrenheit right now, in the middle of December, but who’s really paying attention. 

Look how cute it is!

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It was so funny because when I was online buying her present, I saw this mug and I put it IN my shopping cart but I decided that I didn’t have enough money for it at the moment, so I just bought her gift. I was upset though, because not only does this mug make a super cute tired face, IT TURNS INTO A HAPPY FACE WHEN YOU PUT A HOT DRINK IN IT :O Sure enough, this little guy showed up on my doorstep a few days later 🙂 It was a Christmas miracle 😛 And in her card she wrote something like “this was so cute and just a little bit corny so I knew you’d love it.” She knows me too well.

Anyway, since I now have an adorable coffee mug, I knew I had to make this recipe. All you need is apple juice, water, cinnamon, brown sugar, whipped cream and caramel sauce. 

You take the 1/2 cup of water, teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of brown sugar and simmer them in a pot for five minutes to make a cinnamon-y syrup thing. Mine looked like this:

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Then, you heat up your apple juice. I could have heated it up on the stove like I was told, but I didn’t want to get another one dirty so I did this instead:

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Whatever works, right? So once your apple juice is heated up, you add the syrup to it. The ratio they gave me in the recipe was 3 tablespoons of syrup for 12 ounces of juice. 12 ounces didn’t quite fit in the mug, so unfortunately I had to wake up my math brain, but it ended up working out. Once that’s all mixed together, you add your whipped cream and caramel syrup on top, and that’s it!

I’ve had three pins in a row work out for me. I think this is a new record. Here’s the final product, in my new favorite mug ♥

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See you soon!

Love, this happy girl 

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Day 11: Candy Cane Heart Lollipops!

So Day 11 is dedicated to an easy little recipe that you can do not only for Christmas, but also Valentine’s Day, or any other day if you happen to keep candy canes in the house year round 😉 

You’ll need:

Mini candy canes

White chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate because I already had them in the house…my car was in use by my dad because it’s only my car when he says it can be my car…I think white chocolate is prettier and more delicate looking though)

Sprinkles- in any color or shape that you feel is Christmas-y or appropriate for the occasion

Some sort of stick that should be oven safe for three minutes

It’s really simple, but the result is pretty fragile. Here’s what I came out with in the end:

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But here’s what I came out with when I was actually just finished. It’s honestly really cute, and it can definitely be done the right way if you’re a little more careful with it than I was:

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Even in this picture though, you’ll notice it’s a little cracked at the bottom. It’s okay though. Like I said, it can be done but you have to be more talented and patient than me. Well either way, here’s what ya do.

First, preheat the oven to 300. Put your two candy canes on a tray, and have them touching either side of the stick so they’re shaped like a heart. Melt your chocolate chips, and fill up the whole center. Then, stick it in the oven for just three minutes! When you pull it out, add your sprinkles and put it in the fridge until it hardens. BUT make sure your candy canes are touching the stick before it cools! I put mine away to cool for like a half hour, and it was rock solid, which was good, but probably most of the reason why it cracked. And after all that effort I put into making a place for it in the fridge…

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When it had hardened, I used a toothpick to kind of scrape it off of the pan. There was probably a better method, because that’s how I broke it, but I don’t know what that better method might have been. Maybe using parchment paper instead of the plain tray. It probably would’ve peeled right off. You live and learn, I guess. 

In the end, I wouldn’t call this one a complete failure. It looked cute for about 30 seconds, and when it broke, my sister ate half of it and said it was good. I consider that a win. 

So, let me know what you think! If you try it, I always like to hear how it came out for you! 

See you guys ASAP!

Love,

Nicole♥

 

Day 8: Reindeer in the Dark Christmas Card

Happy Day 8! Who woulda thought I’d be able to actually get a post out on the right day?

Today, I decided to try one of the cutest Christmas cards I’ve ever seen. I’m actually writing this post as I do the craft, so I’m going to be just as surprised as you by what happens. Live crafting: the actual dictionary definition of intense.

Alright, so here’s a picture of all of my supplies. Image

And there’s a little cameo by the peppermint tree from the other day 🙂 sitting on top of my wireless router that doesn’t work. I thought maybe I’d put some joy there to balance out the burning frustration that thing brings me.

Anyway, I’m undecided as to whether or not I should color the whole thing black first, or if I should do the ribbon around the edge first and then color it. By the way, if you have something better than a sharpie to color the WHOLE page black (well, the half that’s going to be the front of the card) feel free to use it. Actually, feel privileged rather than free. Think of me developing carpal tunnel syndrome as you paint your whole paper in a few brush strokes.

I made the executive decision to color first and then add ribbon, and I declare this to be good enough of a coloring job.

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Now I just finished adding the ribbon on, and I think it looks pretty cute but I used this stuff that’s not really “ribbon,” it’s “decorative trim” so it’s got a wire in it and that sparkly tinsel stuff wrapped around it. It was hard to glue down, but I think I finally got it. Regardless, I know it would work if you use regular ribbon and glue so just be careful of what you buy and you’ll be fine.Image

Now it’s time for googly eyes!

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And the final touch!!

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Tell me that’s not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?? I love it! It’s one of those things that’s so simple but has such a big affect!

Well, this wraps up the first week of the 25 Days of Christmas, and quite appropriately, it’s been snowing all day. It’s so sweet. Last year, we somehow managed to get no snow at all at my school. This is the first time I’ve seen my campus completely coated and it’s beautiful. Take a look at the view outside my window!

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Those people outside are so brave though. I’m quite content sitting in my cozy dorm listening to Glee holiday songs and writing to my lovely readers. No cold for me.

Well, that’s it for me tonight. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. For anyone who is starting finals tomorrow:

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Love,

Nicole ♥

Day 6: Peppermint Christmas Tree!

Today I took on a rather painful project.

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It was seriously painful to not eat these mints. I love them so much. I’m that sneaky bitch who takes a whole handful at restaurants. Wanna know what I learned though? Shop Rite sells them by the bag, and sometimes they have specials where you can get two bags for $3 :O

But you actually need three bags. Actually you only need like six mints from the third bag which is so frustrating because GUESS WHO ONLY BOUGHT TWO BAGS?

But guess who was also really proud to be a sneaky bitch who takes a whole handful at restaurants 😉 I ended up scrounging up enough JUST enough to finish the project. I had one to spare, actually.

So, for today you’ll need a few things. Those Starlight mints, a cone shaped Styrofoam thingy from Michaels, and hot glue. Here’s a picture of my setup:

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It was a little intimidating for me to start this one. There’s something that just seems so wrong about gluing food to Styrofoam. I got over it though, and once I did the first one I found a rhythm of unwrapping and gluing, unwrapping and gluing………

unwrapping and gluing……………………………………..

THEN after I got all the way to the top (this includes the hunt for floater mints around the house) I realized that the top looked really dumb. It just seemed to end really abruptly, and I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong to make it not look like the pin. Then I looked at the pin again:

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AND I THOUGHT I WAS A SNEAKY BITCH! They oh-so-conveniently left the whole awkward top part out. So, I improvised and found myself a present bow to stick on top like a star at the top of a real tree 🙂 My version doesn’t look quite as polished as the original, clearly, but I still think it came out really cute. I wish I had a cute candlestick thing like they did, but I really think it looks fine without one. I guess it depends on how classy you’re trying to be, and a dorm room is not exactly the picture of sophistication. To bring that point home, let me show you really quick how I transported this creation back to school with me:

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Ta-daaaa! Well, there’s day six for you. Sorry about the delay in posting. Hopefully days 7-25 go a little more smoothly, but eeehh I can’t make any promises. I’ve always been the kind of person who gets really excited about a new endeavor and then is disheartened and frustrated 30 seconds later.

Obviously that would never happen here. I’m patting myself on the back right now for ending this post on a high note.

Wait! I have a high note: HAPPY FRIDAY! Now that’s how you end a blog post.

Love always,

Nicole ♥

Day Two: Snowflake Peppermint Bark

Good morning pinaholics 🙂

Day two of the Christmas Spectacular is dedicated to a cute, easy recipe for peppermint bark. Well, that’s what it was supposed to be. You can decide for yourself whether or not I failed miserably. Here’s what you need if you want to do it the right way:

White chocolate chips- the lady in the pin used Ghirardelli, but Nestle was like 30 cents cheaper so guess which one I used?

Milk chocolate chips- see above

Waxed paper- I think parchment paper might work as well but if it doesn’t, don’t blame me.

About 12 crushed candy canes- I used mini ones and guesstimated, it worked out fine and you can always crush more if you need to.

A cookie sheet

A snowflake cookie cutter- or whatever shape you want your bark to be

Peppermint extract- this is debatable seeing as how I did it without it, but the recipe calls for it so you might as well use a couple drops if you have it

Okay, let me start by saying that the snowflake shape did NOT end up working out for me, and I would’ve had to take on an entirely different method if I wanted to incorporate that. So, even though the title says “Snowflake Peppermint Bark,” I’m going to tell you how I ended up making plain peppermint bark, and then I’ll tell you what I would’ve had to do to get the cute snowflake. Or at least, what I think I would’ve had to do. Take a look at my horrendous snowflake attempts:

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Ugh. Anyway, first, line your cookie sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Then, melt your milk chocolate chips in the microwave for however long it takes to get them completely smooth. Spread them across your cookie sheet, and refrigerate that for about 20 minutes. When that’s done, take it out and repeat the process with your white chocolate chips. If you’re using the peppermint extract, add it to the melted white chocolate before you put it on. Also, heads up on this part: unless you use significantly more white chocolate than milk, it’s not going to look perfect. The hot white chocolate melts the cooled milk chocolate and the colors will mix a little bit. It’s okay. I was worried at first when I looked at mine:

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But they all sort of look like that on Pinterest so it’s no big deal. Before you refrigerate it for the second time, add your crushed candy canes to the top. Then put it in the fridge for another 20 minutes, and voila! You have peppermint bark. Now, here’s where my fatal flaw was. I thought it was going to be a really easy thing to just use the cookie cutter and stamp out snowflakes. Well, it’s not easy. The bark will crack, and you’ll have a million tiny pieces of chocolate that look nothing like a snowflake 😦 I ended up just breaking it all into pieces that look like everyone else’s peppermint bark and calling it a day. It tastes great. In fact, I think it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve made, but it just isn’t cute 😦

What I probably would’ve had to do to get the snowflake shape is use the cookie cutter to shape the melted chocolate before I refrigerated it. That means I either would’ve had to have several cookie cutters or several hours to spare, neither of which were available to me. If they’re available to you, that’s awesome! Send me pics of your not-failed attempts at peppermint bark, and I’ll be sure to feel bad about myself. Send me packages with your actual peppermint bark and I’ll feel a little bit better. Here’s a picture of the final product! I put it in this cute little Christmas box to bring back to school for my friends to try 🙂

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Happy holidays, loves!

Nicole ♥