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 20: Christmas Tree Pop-Out Card

For Day 20, I took on another pop-out card, but with a different style from yesterday’s. Remember those paper fans you used to make in the summer when you were a kid? You’d fold a piece of paper back and forth a bunch of times until you had one of these?

Well, this card is based on that exact same thing. Here’s the pin I based mine off of:

DIY: 3-D christmas tree card - Click image to find more DIY & Crafts Pinterest pins

See what I mean about the fans? This looked super easy until I realized that I had no way of really being able  to measure how big each fan should be. That was my biggest struggle with this project. But, lets start from the beginning, shall we? I promised you that I would tell you about my page-coloring breakthrough today. 

All you need for this project is card stock, regular printer paper, scissors, and some method of coloring the pieces. Instead of using colored pencils this time, I went to Microsoft Word on my computer and created a text box that filled the entire page. Then, there’s a button that says “shape fill,” and you click on it and choose the color that you want. I really liked the pale yellow that the pinner used in the example pin above, so I used a similar one. Then, all you have to do is print the page! It uses a lot of ink, but it saves us all from getting carpal tunnel so it may be worth it in the end. 

Now comes the fan part. Here’s what I ended up doing: I used the same coloring method to get a green piece of paper, and now I’ll show you with pictures. I’m not live crafting today, so I’ll be showing you with another piece of plain white printer paper. 

Fold it into 8 pieces, like this, by folding it in half, half, half, etc. Image

You’ll cut off one of these strips for your first fan, and then make it. That’ll give you your littlest top piece. Then cut off one and a half strips and do the same thing. Then two, then two and a half, then three, etc until you have five fans. That’s really all there is to it! Then you just glue them to your piece of card stock, and you can add a trunk and a star if you’re so inclined. Here’s a picture of my finished product, and I love it! It’s one of my favorite crafts that I’ve done because it almost looks like I could have bought it somewhere. Now all I need to do is put something on the front of it!

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Love, 

Nicole♥

Day 19: Christmas Present Pop-Out Card

Hi, pinaholics!

For day 19 I’m going to show you one of my favorite Christmas cards. It’s based on this one here, but I had to change it a little bit because of my available supplies, or lack thereof.

Image Search Results for diy christmas cards

Basically, for this one you just need two pieces of card stock, scissors and whatever else you want to decorate with. I used colored pencils and my very favorite: glitter! 🙂 Here’s what you have to do:

First, you take one of your pieces of paper and cut about a half inch off of each side. This will be your inside piece that stays white. Then take your other piece, and color it however you choose. I liked the red, so I made mine red too, but I didn’t have red paper so  I colored mine with colored pencil the same way I did when I made the Reindeer in the Dark Card on Day 8. For Day 20, I get a little smarter, and you may have already come up with this idea if we’re in the same predicament, but if I have to be stupid until the next post, so do you.

Once your bigger piece of paper is colored to your liking, we start cutting. Or rather, measuring and drawing and then cutting. It gets a little bit tricky to explain here, so pay close attention. Take your small paper and fold it in half vertically (hot dog style, if you will). Then, draw this on the outside of it, on the creased side, and make that cut on the top if you want a little bow at the top of your presents.

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I made each present a half inch wider and longer than the last present. You don’t have to do it that way, but it worked out pretty perfectly for me. Next, you start cutting. Cut along the whole top line that you drew. And then see how the next line down is longer because it’s the top of the second present? Only cut up to where the END of the FIRST present would be. This picture might help you get it:

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Now, open up the card. See where the crease is? Re-fold the crease in the opposite direction, and crease the ends of the present so it has crisp edges. It’ll look like this:

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Look at your first present! How cute, right? Now, fold it back up, and we’ll do the second and third ones. You see how when you fold it back up, all that’s left of that top line of the second present is the part that we didn’t cut before? Now is the time to finish that line. Then, cut the next line down all the way to the end, just like the first line you cut. Open the card up again, do the same folding you did for the first one, and now you’ll have two presents! Repeat those steps again, and you’ll have three, just like this!

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The last major step is to glue the small piece of paper to the larger, colored piece of paper. Then, it’s up to you to decorate it however you want to! this is what I did with mine, and I love it!

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So that’s Day 19! Only six more days of the 25 Days of Christmas Craftactular. I just made that up right now. My God, I’m clever. Just come to me when it’s time to name your children.

Well, if that doesn’t scare you away, I guess nothing will, so I’ll see you on Day 20.

Love,

Nicole ♥

Baked Apple Bowls

Hi guys!

So the idea was this: Baked apple bowls filled with ice cream. Here’s the pin

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Looks cute, right? Well it’s a lie. Those apples in that picture are most definitely not baked, because if they were, they’d look like mine, wrinkly and gross.

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The instructions simply say: “hollow out apples, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, bake at 350 for 20 minutes.” So that’s what I did, and I got this. And after I spent like 20 minutes hollowing out apples for zero reason and then waited another 20 minutes for them to be done baking, I went to the freezer for my ice cream and saw that it looked like this:

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Soooo yeah. Lets just hope I do better next week. Honestly, I just threw everything in the garbage. If I were to try this atrocity again, I would really just keep the apples raw. They look raw in the original pin anyway, and if the apples were refrigerated it would keep the ice cream cold for a little bit instead of making it melt. So there’s what I got out of this project. Baking apples makes them soft and un-bowl-like. And you should probably check to see if the freezer is cold before you put things in it.

Anyway, judging by the fact that you’re back this week, I guess you made it through Halloween relatively disaster free. Natural disasters, that is. If your school is anything like mine I can only imagine what kind of shenanigans went on. The next challenge, for me at least, is getting into the Thanksgiving spirit when I’m SO READY for Christmas. I went to the mall on Halloween, yes, literally October 31st, and this is what I saw:

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Like, are you freaking kidding me? I mean don’t get me wrong, I love it. But holy crap it wasn’t even November yet. No wonder its so hard for Thanksgiving to get any love. But not to worry, I have some ideas for the coming weeks that’ll get you in a turkey and cranberry sauce mood 🙂 And then holy crap, you better look out because there will be so much Christmas you won’t even be able to handle it.

GET EXCITED!!

~Nicole ♥

S’more Bites

Before you say anything, I know I’m a slacker. I ended up getting sick this week, and then of course it was homecoming and I was very tied up with lots of wholesome, school sanctioned events.

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Don’t worry, there will be a bonus post right after this to make up for my absence last Sunday. I know you’re all terribly angry and missed me deeply. Another reason that I’m posting a second thing though, is that this one is going to be pretty short. Seriously, I picked a recipe that was so easy that there isn’t much to say about it.

This week’s recipe was S’more Bites. If you’d like to see the original pin, feel free to visit my board just for this blog! 🙂 It has all of the pins I’ve posted about, and also some ideas for new ones that I might do. If you’re the curious type that liked to try to find their Christmas presents before Christmas, then you might also be the type who might be interested in this link:

http://www.pinterest.com/paranormal627/for-the-blog/

Mostly I’m just desperate for new followers…ANYWAY S’mores Bites. Super cute and super easy. Here’s a picture of all of my ingredients. I made the mistake of buying semisweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, and that was the downfall of these guys. There’s always a downfall when I do something, I think. Also, don’t worry if you don’t have a scruffy, marshmallow-loving dog. You can still do the recipe without one. Actually, you might be better off -____-

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So as you can see, you only really need three ingredients. First, you melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, and then you crush your graham crackers. Side note: have a better method than me. I had this really clever video of me pounding graham crackers in a little plastic baggie with my fists but I would have to post it separately and it’s not worth it. Just use some sort of utensil or meet an unfortunate fate. After you have your melted chocolate and your safely crushed crackers, here’s a pictorial description of what you do. ImageImageImage

And that’s it for me today, guys! Last but not least, I’ll post my top five pins for this week, and be on my way 🙂 Don’t forget to come back in a little while for your bonus post. It’s not autumn-themed, but I think you’ll like it!

Stay Wonderful♥

~Nicole

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Bite Sized Apple Pies

Hello darlings!

I want to start by showing you my five favorite pins from this week. I think I’m going to start doing this with all of my posts, because it might inspire you! 🙂 These aren’t going to follow my pattern of easy things that I can show you how to make (or how NOT to make) but they’re still fun! I’ll do a food one, a clothing/accessory one, a home decor one, a wedding one (my very favorite even though I’m a good five years from acceptable marriage age) and maybe a random, like a cute puppy. Or Channing Tatum. We could all use some Channing Tatum in our lives.

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As we recover from the fainting that I’m sure we all just did, here are my top five pins this week 🙂

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Hotline in Nude by Chinese Laundry $70 pinned from Heels.com

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Glen Oaks pinned from Houzz.com

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Cilantro Lime Shrimp pinned from Lanascooking.com

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Elegant Sweetheart Ball Gown Wedding Dress $299 pinned from weddingdressbee.com

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Pinned from “Best Earth Pics” on Twitter

Those are the pins from this week that made my heart hurt I wanted them so badly. Yes, I even want the elephant. Better get rich quick. And move to Africa.

Anyway, the challenge this week was Bite Sized Apple Pies, as you may have deduced from the title of the post. I thought I would make a fall-themed dessert to celebrate the beginning of October 🙂 Each week this month, I’ll be taking on a Halloween or autumn themed pin. I have them all mapped out already and I’m so pumpedddd!

This week’s apple pie pin took me to this link: http://cookinupnorth.blogspot.com/2011/09/bite-size-apple-pies-from-taste-of-home.html and it’s a cute blog by a lady named Laurie who really REALLY enjoys her home “up north.” Now, care to venture a guess as which end result belongs to me and which belongs to Laurie?

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Honestly, even though they aren’t exactly pretty, they tasted pretty delicious. The most amazing part of the whole thing is that when I brought all of my ingredients down to the kitchen in my dorm building, I neglected to bring the recipe. And the dorm kitchen has the weirdest assortment of useless items that I’ve ever seen. There’s no peeler and no brush thingy to spread stuff, but you better believe there was a whole drawer dedicated to grill utensils. There’s no grill anywhere near my building. So, I had to spread my melted butter like this:

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and peel my apples like this:

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And the counter space that you see here is the only counter space in the whole kitchen. And I thought my room was small.

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning. Here’s the recipe Laurie used, with my edits.

  • ½ c sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • If the grocery store happens to somehow be out of cinnamon, (what?!) just substitute cinnamon sugar. It eliminates a need for sugar, and you don’t have to mix them together so in the end it saves time.  
  • 1 pkg refrigerated pie crust (mine came with two 8-inch round crusts, worked perfectly)
  • 3 tbsp melted butter divided (Don’t know what “divided” means- didn’t bother with it)
  • 2 medium tart apples sliced into 8 wedges each (I got green apples because I heard they’re “tart” but Laurie used red ones)

If you do it my way, you can just unroll the pie crust on a lightly floured surface. What’s that? You didn’t get any flour because that wasn’t in the list of materials? Join the club. It’s okay though, it didn’t make a difference to me. Then, melt your butter and brush it all over the crust. Next, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar all over it, and slice it into 8 slices, about one inch thick. Now, you can set that aside.

BUT DON’T SET IT ASIDE ON THE STOVE BECAUSE THE OVEN SHOULD BE PREHEATING (at 425, by the way) AND THE STOVE WILL BE HOT ENOUGH TO MELT YOUR CRUST! Yeah, it’s a good thing the package came with two pie crusts. I only got to make half the recipe though, which meant that an apple went to waste.

Next, you need to deal with your apples. If you have a handy dandy apple slicer like I have at home, this should be a piece of cake. At school though, it was a little bit harder because I had to use an old dull knife to cut through the core of an apple. Since there was no peeler, I also had to use that same knife to peel the skin off. Laurie said that she kept the skin on because she liked the color, but I was worried it would make the texture a little tougher or something, so I peeled it off. Then, all you have to do is roll each little apple up in the slices of dough you just made, and brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with some more cinnamon sugar. If you’re me though, and you’re brushless, you’ll find a slotted spoon and dip each pastry in a bowl of butter. I actually thought it was pretty clever of me.

Then you just pop them in the oven for 13 minutes! If everything had gone as planned, which it never does of course, this would have been done in under a half hour. Regardless, they were delicious and easy. Look at these cute little guys!IMG_1597

Well, I hope you enjoy your Bite Sized Apple Pies, and I hope you have an absolutely fabulous October! Keep track of how many days are left until Halloween with my nifty countdown in the sidebar 😉

Stay wonderful ♥

~Nicole

Strawberry Banana Quinoa Muffins

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These little bitches are Strawberry Banana Quinoa Muffins. Have you ever cooked with quinoa? Do you even know how to SAY quinoa? Because it’s like KEEN-wah which blew my mind a little bit. Everything about cooking with quinoa blew my mind a little bit.

The pin took me to this page: http://www.poorgirleatswell.com/2012/02/recipe-strawberry-banana-quinoa-muffins.html which is where you’ll find the recipe. It’s a really cool website where you can find ways to eat well on a tight budget. Each recipe has a little tag on it that says how much it costs to make per serving. These muffins are $.50, which is pretty awesome when you think about it. If you think about it in real life terms though, it’s not that awesome. Fresh fruit isn’t cheap, and neither is quinoa.  But, I guess if it makes you breakfast for 12 days straight, it’s a good deal.

However, cooking with quinoa was not as easy as I expected.

For those of you who are not familiar with quinoa, it seems to have exploded in popularity lately. According to Wikipedia, it’s a “grain-like crop” with a little over 200 calories per cup when it’s cooked. People put it in everything lately, from salads to chicken to breakfast foods like this. It’s gluten-free, so that’s always a plus for a lot of people, but it’s also regarded as having a striking overall nutrient richness. It has a lot of qualities of grains, but it has much more protein and more of the good fats than wheat, oats, barley, etc. In this particular recipe, the cooked quinoa was meant to add a moist texture.

Okay, so I didn’t worry about using quinoa flour, I just used regular all-purpose flour. The rest of the ingredients are pretty self-explanatory EXCEPT COOKED QUINOA! I horribly misjudged this situation and it was the downfall of these poor muffins.

It wasn’t my fault though 😦 I had to separately look up how to cook quinoa, because apparently the girl who writes the Poor Girl Eats Well blog keeps some sort of quinoa stockpile in her house so she doesn’t have to cook it every time. Since I was a first timer, I googled it and here’s what you should do:

 

How to Cook Quinoa

  1. Rinse it: If you’re me, and you don’t have a “fine-mesh sieve,” you’ll try to use a paper towel to catch the bits that fall through the bottom. They’re supposed to be tough when wet, right? Wrong. That paper towel will rip, and your quinoa will go down the drain. And on the counter. And the floor. You need a “fine-mesh sieve” which is just a strainer with super tiny holes.
  2. Cook quinoa in water: The ratio is 2 cups of water for every cup of quinoa. Wait for the water to boil, stir in the quinoa, turn the heat down low, and then wait for the liquid to be absorbed. You’ll know it’s done because it’ll look like it’s “popped.” It should be about 15 minutes, which would’ve been nice to know.
  3. Fluff it: I don’t think you really have to do this, especially since you’re mixing it into a batter. The directions I’m looking at (which are from eatingwell.com, by the way) say “quinoa loves a little pampering.” So you might be okay if you skip that.

 

NOW the most important thing to do here is MEASURE THE QUINOA AGAIN!! A cup of dry quinoa is not the same as a cup of cooked quinoa since it “popped” while it was in the water. This is a dumb thing to have to mention, but I didn’t think of it so I’m hoping there’s someone out there who’s as stupid as me.

Please at least pretend for me.

So, measure out a cup of your cooked quinoa, and just put that in the mixture with the rest of the ingredients. With the extra, start a stockpile like the author of Poor Girl Eats Well. Or feed it to your dog or your bird or the deer in your backyard. Or throw it out.

Long story short, this recipe may have worked pretty well if I was a little bit more experienced or was more aware of what I was doing. I may try this recipe again, but probably not until the quinoa nightmare wears off a bit. My mom is still finding little pieces of it all over the kitchen. I don’t even know how it got to some of the places we’ve seen it.

I hope this helps you if you come across this pin, or even if you’re trying to cook quinoa for some other recipe. And give me some feedback! This is my first real post, aside from my little intro one, so let me know what you think! I’m always going to be looking to know if I’m explaining things clearly, if I’m as funny as I think I am, or if there’s anything in particular you want me to try next. I appreciate any support you’re willing to give me, and I can’t wait to hear from you!

Stay wonderful ♥

~Nicole