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 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.

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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 ♥

Day 16: Spiral Sugar Cookies

Well, this afternoon I took a chance on one of the more complicated recipes that I’ve tried. It was this version of festive sugar cookies, but I adapted it to make a Christmas version.

25 Days of Christmas 2013 Day 16

From “Make Bake Celebrate” blog

So the first step in this recipe is to make sugar cookie dough, and form it into a log, like so:

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Obviously, I made this dough all by myself with no help from a certain chubby white guy who giggles at the slightest poke. No help whatsoever.

Set the dough on parchment paper. The next step is to cut the log into four equal pieces, and roll them into balls. Then, dig a hole into the center. You’re going to put some food coloring into those holes, which just helps to keep most of the dye off of your hands (key word: most).Mix it all up, and you should end up with four balls of dough that look something like this:

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Now, take off little chunks about the size of a quarter, or maybe a taaad smaller, but not by much. This recipe was made for a cookie with four colors, so it was a little odd to do it with two. You should have two little green balls and two little red balls, and they should be arranged in a little square with alternating colors. Now, roll it into one ball! Do this until you run out of dough. Here was my set of balls:

…hehe

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I guess I don’t know what the size of a quarter is because as you can see, I had a rather significant problem with keeping them all a similar size. I think the bigger ones were better to work with. Once all of these little balls have been made, I’m sure the dough has become really soft and greasy. To solve this, you can put them in the freezer for a little while to harden them back up. They’re easier to work with when the dough is harder. The blog that I originally got this from said that you can put them in for 1-2 minutes, but that didn’t work for me. I needed to put them in for more like 5-6. Once they were hardened, it was time to do the coiling. Roll out the balls into long rope-kinda things, and then roll them back up into a cute spiral shape, trying to expose both colors. If you’re confused, you have every right to be. These were my first couple of attempts:

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It got a little easier though, as I got the hang of it.

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They started to get sticky again, so when I was done coiling all of them, I had to put them in the freezer again. Then, I put them in the oven, and I was kind of excited. I didn’t know how they were going to come out at ALL.

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As I was checking up on them, I noticed they were getting bigger and consequently closer together…until they were all squished together and they came out looking like this:

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And to be honest, they all came out looking like an odd reddish greenish soup. They taste fine, but they don’t look nearly as cute as the picture at the top of the page. They’re also really skinny, so the sprinkles from the picture didn’t really work out. I guess to make this recipe better I would have had to be more careful when I smooshed them all up from the separate little balls. It also might have helped to not wait so long to put them in the freezer when they were getting greasy.

Well, hopefully you guys have better luck with this recipe. And also, there are less than 10 days left of the Christmas Spectacular! Hope you’ve enjoyed it so far!

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 5: “Seasons Greetings” Wall Art

Happy Day Five, pinaholics!

(I know it’s day six…I screwed up less than a week into this project. Don’t worry, another post is coming.)

Today I’m going to show you a really popular way to make cute wall art. This doesn’t necessarily have to be Christmas themed, and it also doesn’t necessarily have to be wall art, so don’t be fooled by the title! Here’s what mine looked like:

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You’ll need:

Alphabet stickers- make sure you get enough for the words you want to write. It’s not impossible if you don’t have enough (I didn’t, of course) but it makes it a lot harder and it’s unnecessary drama.

Two colors of paint

A canvas- I actually used one of those wood things they sell at Michael’s, and it worked great except the knots in it were hard to paint over. It’s not a huge problem, it just makes it look a little more rustic than it might otherwise.

To make one like mine you’ll also need glue and glitter. And a hairdryer if you’re as impatient as me. But that’s up to you.

Now take your canvas or whatever you’re using and paint it WITH THE COLOR YOU WANT YOUR LETTERS TO BE. For example, if you look at mine, my letters are red. I painted the ENTIRE canvas red for the first step. Although that’s probably obvious since the whole thing is an odd shade of pink instead of white. Now, wait for it to dry. If you’re me, you’ll borrow your mom’s hair dryer to speed up the process. Nothing like watching paint dry.

Now, place your alphabet stickers however you want them to look. If you didn’t take my advice about making sure you have enough letters, you’ll have to do this next part in painful shifts.

Paint the whole canvas again with your second color, going right over the stickers. Be messy; it really doesn’t matter. If you’re missing letters because you don’t have enough though, just don’t paint the area where you’re going to put them. When this round of paint dries, peel off the letter you need, move it to the next spot and paint that last area. You may need a couple coats, especially if you’re trying to do a light color over a darker color the way I did.

Now, that’s really all there is to the technique! I did a couple of other things just to spice it up a little bit 🙂 I took a third color, green, and gave the outer edge some color, and a little bit more of a Christmas-y feel. I also added some sparkly snowflakes using Elmer’s Glue and gold glitter.

I am a glitter maniac. You should see my floor right now. At least it’s as festive as the rest of my room now though! 🙂 I even tried vacuuming more than once and that shit’s like ingrained in the carpet. Oops :/

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for Day Five! Stay tuned for Day Six, ironically coming in a few minutes. Have a great night!

Love,

Nicole♥

Day 4: Mason Jar with Epsom Salt Snow

Are you guys feeling jolly yet? I don’t know about you, but doing something Christmas related every single day really puts me in the spirit 🙂 It might also have to do with the constant Christmas music playing in my room or the million decorations I put up. I can tell you one thing though: it’s got nothing to do with finals week which is looming ominously ahead.

Anyway, today is another super easy craft. It’s this sweet mason jar!IMG_2143[1]

You guys can put your own spin on this, which is why it’s so fun! The only things that you pretty much have to have are the jar and the candle. I used a fake one because it’s dorm safe, but if you’re allowed to have real candles, go for it! Aside from that, you can do almost whatever you want.

The title says Epsom Salt snow because that’s what the description said in the pin that I got this idea from. And it really does look like snow! However, I just got lucky and had some around the house. (I was home for Thanksgiving when I did this project) You can use whatever you have lying around that looks like snow to you (salt, sugar, etc). I would not recommend using bits of paper if you’re using a real candle. Just a friendly heads up 🙂

Now, all you have to do is pour the amount of “snow” that you want in your jar, and put the candle in. My little sister had some silver glitter in her room, so I sprinkled some of that in with my snow to give it some extra sparkle! I really love that little touch. Then, all I did was tie some red sparkly ribbon around the neck of the jar, and I was done! When I turn it on at night, it adds the sweetest warm glow to my room. I don’t even think I’ll want to take it down after the holiday season is over 😦

My sister helped me with this project, and we went a little crazy with the mason jar ideas. Here are some more things we came up with!

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So cute, right?! Look at that snowman! I can’t take credit for that one, but I wish I had one of those for my room too!

I hope you enjoyed Day Four! Be sure to come back tomorrow 🙂 See you then!

Love,

Nicole♥