Archive | April, 2013

My new best friend, Press-on-nails!

4 Apr

I’m busy…every day.  I’m a stay home mom / a home maker / and a crafter.  And anyone who is any one of these, knows that it is a challenge to keep your nails nicely manicured.  My hands are occupied from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep.  I absolutely don’t have time to go and sit in a nail salon.  Honestly, I much prefer to do my nails myself.  The only time I have for my nails is after I finish all the house chores and my kids are asleep, right before I go to bed.  Then, I go to bed very carefully, so that my toes and fingers are clear of any covers/pillows that may smudge the polish.  And I pray in the morning that the polish has dried up nicely.

Sometimes, I’m too tired to do any of that.  That’s what happened the other day.  On the way to the party, I stopped by a drugstore to get something that may work, to make my nails look decent for the party.  I have not used “press on nails” since the 80’s, but I decided that it is the quickest solution.  I chose “imPRESS” because it said that the glue is on the nails already.  That will significantly simplify nail fixing in the car, on the go (I am on the passenger’s seat.)  I also chose the “short length” which seemed to fit my nails nicely.  So I got in the car, and simply followed the directions.  I cleaned the nails with the alcohol wipe that it came with, peeled off the small plastic on the back of the nails, and stuck them on.  I filed the tips down a little bit, and voila!  My nails were done.  They look like gel or acrylic nails.  It looks very nice, and natural.  I’m pleasantly surprised by the new discovery.  I’m happy!

Press-on nails has come a long way.  I get many compliments, and nobody believes it is “press-ons.”   (I got complemented by a nail person at the mall the other day!)  Mine stays on for 5 days or more, and I replace the ones that fall off, which are usually the pointer and middle fingers.  The thumbs are the last to go.  Latex particles are not good for them, so don’t use Latex gloves, even though you think you are protecting them.  I learned that the hard way – the nails fall off.  I can shower, wash my hair, bathe the kids, and even make hamburger patties with them on.  I’m truly impressed.  The thumb will not come off, so I usually have to peel it off.  However, don’t do what I did – I peeled it off in a hot shower, and it came off with the top layer of my nail.  So, don’t peel them off when your nail is wet and soft.  With one package, I can easily do 2 full sessions.  The only problem I have is that there are not enough small nails to fit my nails in one package.  ( I had to cut larger ones to fit my nails.)  That would be my only request to the “imPRESS” people, is to maybe make different size nail packages (not only length wise, but the width.)

All I have to say is, I love this product.  It truly is a busy woman’s best friend!

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This is what happens if you try to peel off, when the nail is soft.

This is what happens if you try to peel off, when the nail is soft.

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Strawberry Cupcakes

4 Apr

I’m in the mood for some yummy cupcakes!

My daughter loves “Pinkalicious” book, and I wanted to make her pink cupcakes.  But I really want to avoid artificial coloring, and I had a great idea!  I’m going to incorporate freeze dried strawberries to see if it will work in place of the food coloring.  I like the “butter cupcakes” recipe on Wilton.com, but I always alter it a little, and that is just what I did.

Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups room temperature butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (or little more) freeze dried strawberry (ground)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)

2. Line the cupcake pans with baking cups.

3. Mix the room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Room temp. butter and sugar

Room temp. butter and sugar

 

My little helper on mixer duty

My little helper on mixer duty

4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

5. Mix in pure vanilla extract.

Pure vanilla extract - in!

Pure vanilla extract – in!

6. Mix the remaining dry ingredients in a different bowl (flour, baking powder, and salt.)

7. Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture little at a time.  Also add milk alternately with the dry mix.

Dry ingredient mix - in!

Dry ingredient mix – in!

8. Mix ground freeze dried strawberry into the mix.

Freeze dried strawberry from Archer Farms (Target)

Freeze dried strawberry from Archer Farms (Target)

 

I used a plastic bag and my hands to grind the strawberries.

I used a plastic bag and my hands to grind the strawberries.

 

Ground strawberries - in!

Ground strawberries – in!

9. Pour the batter into baking cups.  I usually make mini cupcakes, because I think they are just the perfect bite size.

Batter in cupcake liners.

Batter in cupcake liners.

10. Bake 20 – 25 min.  Make sure the toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cupcake.

Anxiously waiting...

Anxiously waiting…

11. Cool and enjoy!  I like to have this cupcake when it is still warm.  The strawberry aroma is so yummy when warm!

Baked!

Baked!

 

Warm and Yummy!

Warm and Yummy!

They didn’t look “pink” as I had hoped, but it was delicious, and my kids loved them.  (My neighbors did too!)  I love the idea of incorporating fruits, and I’m definitely going to try out other fruits next time.

Valentines Cake Pops 2012

2 Apr

My daughter has been obsessed with watching YouTube videos on cake pops (I don’t know how she gets there, she’s only 3…)  So this Valentines, I gave it a try.

I bought a cake pop bake pan, from Nordicware, but that one didn’t turn out well…  I used the recipe on the packaging, but it didn’t taste good, and it didn’t look good…  I will give it a try again soon, but as for now, I’m going to use the traditional method.

1.  Bake the cake.

I used the Duncan Hines cake in a box (Butter cake.)  Just bake it according to the directions on the box.  Set it aside and let it cool.

2.  Make the cake mix.

Crumble the cake into a large bowl.  Add icing.  I used 1 tub of Duncan Hines butter cream icing.  Mix it all up evenly so the mixture is moist enough to hold together.

3.  Make the cake balls.

Take just about 1 ice cream scoop-ful (not too big) of the mix onto your palms and make a ball.  If the mix is too dry to form a ball, add more icing in the mix.  Line them up on a baking pan.  Place the baking pan in the refrigerator.

Cake balls to go into the fridge

Cake balls to go into the fridge

4.  Make the candy coating melts.

I used the Wilton “Candymelts.”  Melt it in the microwave as instructed on the package.  Melt only a bout 1/2 cup for now, because we only need it to hold the sticks in place.

5.  Take the pops out from the fridge.  Dip lollipop sticks in the melted candymelt, and stick it in the balls (center.)  Do not stick all the way through.  Just about 2/3.

Lollipop sticks in place

Lollipop sticks in place

6.  Place the baking pan (with the pops on it) back into the refrigerator so the pops hardens, about 20 min.

7.  Prep the assembly line.

Prepare sprinkles and decorations in bowls.  Prepare a Styrofoam brick for pop station.  I wrapped a floral foam brick with foil, then pre made holes with a toothpick.  I used foil, because I don’t like the foam bits to get all over the kitchen.

8.  Melt more candymelts.

Melt candmelts that would be used to coat the balls.  I melted several different colors in different bowls.  Set it along the assembly line.

9.  Coat the pops.

Get the pops out from the fridge, and dip it in the melted candymelts.  If you want to add sprinkles or decorations, add them to the pops right after you coat them, before the coat dries.  (they dry up within a minute, so have everything lined up, and work fast.)  If the candymelts is too thick, put it back in the microwave.  You can add a little bit of vegetable shortening to the coat mix to make it smoother.  Stick the coated pops into the pop station for drying.  If you don’t have the pop station, you can set them down on a wax sheet, stick up, flat bottom.  The great thing about this is that you can be as creative as you want.  It doesn’t have to be round to be a cake pop!

Coke pops!

Coke pops!

Wrapped up for class Valentines treats!
Wrapped up for class Valentines treats!

Valentines treats
Valentines treats

Yey!  Cake pops done!  They are cute, and so much fun to make.

However, it was WAY too sweet.  With the cake-in-the-box, icing, and candymelt coating, my kids were bouncing off the walls with the sugar rush.  Next time, I would definitely try the other method, which is to bake the cake balls (using the cake pop baking pan), and eliminate the icing to form a ball.  Or bake the cake without any sugar if using the icing method.

Either way, it is definitely a kid pleaser and I can’t wait to make them again.