Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cake Sandwich Cookies

These cookies couldn't be easier to make...or more delicious to eat!

Here what you need:
1 box cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Frosting - I cheat and buy the frosting

Mix together the cake, oil and eggs until moist.

Drop tablespoons onto a cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Simply add a layer of frosting between two cookies. That's all there is to it and they are to die for!

Flavor combos
Top photo: Strawberries and cream - strawberry cake mix and white frosting.

Original (and usually the favorite flavor) - chocolate cake and white frosting

Double chocolate - chocolate cake with chocolate frosting

Inside out chocolate covered strawberry - strawberry cake with chocolate frosting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Teacher Gift

My friend Melissa just landed her first full-time teaching gig. She starts teaching graphic design courses at a community college tomorrow and she loves coffee. So, I thought this little gift was the perfect way to wish her luck.

I simply cut a coffee cup shape out of white card stock paper, slide a coffee cup insulator over it, secured the insulator with double stick take, slide a gift card into the insulator and wrote "I hope your first year teaching is a "latte" fun." It would make a great first-day for school gift for almost any teacher.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mod Podge Picture Frames


I found this is a fun and really cheap way to add some fun frames to your home. All you basically needs are pictures frames (I got mine in a pack of three for $5 at IKEA), scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, scissors, an Exacto knife and a foam brush.


Take the glass out of your frame and place it on the area of the paper you want to use.

Trace around the frame and cut out the portion of the paper you want.

Cover your frame with a thin layer of Mod Podge.

Place your paper on the frame and smooth out any bubbles.

Trim away any excess paper with your Exacto knife and cover your paper with another thin layer of Mod Podge. Make sure your knife is really sharp. Mine was getting a little dull and so some of the paper ended up jagged on the edges.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coffee Table Before & After

It's amazing what you can do with a $5 garage sale table and a can of black paint. Here's my first attempt at refinishing furniture. It's far from perfect, but it was fun and I'm happy with how it turned out.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Towel Rack

I'm in the middle of a mini bathroom makeover. One of the things I really wanted to replace was my white porcelain towel rack, but I was shocked at how expensive new towel racks are.

Instead of getting more towel racks, I took a quilt rack I purchased at a garage sale for $5 and added hooks. I now have something that was much cuter than the white towel racks, and it only cost me $10, which isn't bad considering the towel racks I wanted would have cost me $35.

Friday, July 10, 2009

National Ice Cream Day Creations

July 19 is National Ice Cream Day, which if you ask me is a great reason to celebrate. When it comes to ice cream, I usually buy vanilla and make my own creations. It's always fun rummaging through my cupboards looking for new combinations. Here are a few of my favorites.

Caramel Crunch
caramel syrup topped with Rice Krispies

PB and Banana
a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter mixed into ice cream and topped with sliced bananas

Key Lime Pie
key lime juice (remember a little bit goes a long way!) mixed with ice cream and topped with crushed graham crackers and whipped topping.

chocolate syrup over crushed graham crackers and mini marshmallows

Funky Monkey
chocolate syrup topped with sliced bananas, peanuts and coconut

Celebrate National Ice Cream Day by making your own creation, and if you have a favorite ice cream creation, I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Simple Strawberry Pie

Strawberry pie is one of my favorite summertime treats! Best of all, it's super easy to to make, which is why in a pinch this morning I made my strawberry pie dessert for a 4th of July picnic at my parent's cabin.

Here's what you need to get started:
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 cups flour
2 pints of strawberries
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
3 oz. strawberry or raspberry gelatin

First, mix together the butter and flour with a pastry cutter or fork.

Press the flour and butter mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

After the crust has cooled, slice 2 pints of strawberries over the crust.

Mix together the water, sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until the liquid becomes clear.

Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in two boxes (1 box if you use the larger family size) of strawberry or raspberry gelatin.

Place in the refrigerator until the gelatin mixture becomes firm. Add some whipped topping and enjoy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Birthday Blast

I recently took a 4th of July idea and transformed it into an inexpensive birthday gift.

I wrapped candy with wrapping paper and attached ribbon and star garland to the top to make them look like firecrackers.

Next I added a tag letting my friend know that I hoped her birthday was a blast.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Get Well Cards with a Twist

When one of my friends recently had back surgery, I traded a traditional get well card for something a little different.
 She loves making homemade cards, but she was recuperating in a care facility and couldn't exactly bring along all of her card-making supplies. So, I made some cards she could get started on while recuperating then jazz up when she returned home.

Here's how I did it. I downloaded free coloring sheets from the Web and downsized them to fit on a 4.25 x 5.5 card. I printed them out on white card stock paper and paired them with a set of color pencils and a scrapbooking magazine for inspiration. It was easy and much appreciated.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beat the Summer Heat

Most of us find air conditioners essential to keep cool, but they're also responsible for driving up summer electric bills. With the temperature finally reaching 90 degrees in Minnesota, I thought it was a good time to share some money-saving cooling tips. 

  • Get an air conditioner tune-up. Check with your electric utility for special deals on tune-ups.
  • Sign up for a load management program. Your utility will cycle your air conditioner condenser on and off in 15-minute intervals. Most participants don't even notice when the air conditioner is cycled, and you get a credit on your electric bill in the summer months.
  • Close your shades.
  • Fans use much less energy than air conditioners. Turn up your thermostat and use a fan to keep cool. 
  • Use ceiling fans in the counter-clockwise direction in summer.
  • Don't add heat to your home. Use the grill or microwave to prepare meals.
  • Change your furnace filter once a month.
  • Keep air registers free of obstructions such as furniture.
  • If you have a programable thermostat, program it to automatically go up when you're at work and automatically lower shortly before you come home. Don't have a programable thermostat? Not a problem, just remember to manually set your thermostat at a higher temperature before you leave for extended periods of time.
  • Don't forget to turn off your air conditioner before you leave for vacation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Easy Way to Say Welcome to Your New Home

I recently made this marker board to help my friend Alyssa feel at home in her new apartment. It was cute, easy and affordable. I simply purchased a ceramic tile and vinyl shelf lining from a hardware store, attached with the lining to the back of the tile with Tacky Glue and teamed it with an iron-on monogram and plate holder. I completed the entire gift for under $10, including a pack of dry erase markers.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

60 Reasons to Use Your Library Card

On Thursday I went to the library with a laundry list of things I needed. On my way out the door, I started thinking about how much money I had saved simply by having a library card. So, when I got home, I added it up and it was $60! Here's how the savings break down:

Now that summer weather has finally arrived in Minnesota, I needed a book to read on my patio. Cost to buy: $13.99 Library cost: FREE

I got a couple of movies to watch over the weekend. Cost to rent for 2 nights: $4 Library cost: FREE Bonus: I get to keep them for a week instead of 2 nights.

I needed some magazines to read on my way to South Dakota next week. Cost to buy at a convenience store: $22.77 Library cost: FREE

The Minnesota History Center has a new exhibit about the Greatest Generation. Blake is really interested in World War II, so I wanted to take him to see the exhibit. Our local library has a program that allows you to checkout passes to museums in the Twins Cities area. Minnesota History Center admission for two adults: $20 Library cost: FREE

Total value of what I got: $60.76
What I paid: Nothing

Library Card Tips
  • Go beyond books. Most libraries offer movies, CDs and magazines in addition to books. Additionally, some libraries offer activity bags and museum passes. Visit your library's Web site or ask the librarian for a library overview to learn about all of the things your library offers.
  • Check for special events or programs. Many libraries offer classes, events and seminars for both kids and adults. Most are free.
  • Ask about book clubs and reading programs for kids  — many libraries provide the incentives you need to get your kids to read.
  • Take advantage of the atmosphere. I often head to the library to brainstorm and work on projects. It's fairly quite, they have nice big tables to work on and if you need some inspiration, there's tons of books to help you out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Every Reason to Love Evernote

I always struggled to keep track of the great ideas I found on the Web until I found Evernote. Basically, Evernote lets you "clip" ideas you find on the Web and store them. You can even sort "clippings" according to topic and apply tags according to topics.

No more scrolling through blogs trying to find the cute gift idea for your sister or acquiring mounds of paper with recipes and tutorials you've printed. Best of all, Evernote is free and can also be used with your mobile device.

Want to check it out? Click here

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't Forget County Parks

I often think so much about the great state parks in Minnesota that I forget about some of the great county parks in the area. This Sunday Blake and I visited Oxbow Park & Zoo near Rochester, Minn. The park has great hiking trails, nice picnic areas and a small zoo featuring mainly animals native to Minnesota. It was the perfect way to end a busy weekend and enjoy the weather.

Blake made a friend at the Oxbow Zoo.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Camo Cupcakes

Blake has been quite the trooper with all of the wedding craziness lately, so I made him a little thank you - camo cupcakes.

Prepare one white cake mix and one chocolate cake mix according to the directions on the boxes.

Split the mixes up into four bowls.
1. 1/2 cup white cake mix, 1 cup chocolate cake mix and 3 drops green food coloring.
2. 1 cup white cake mix, 1/2 cup chocolate cake mix and 7 drops green food coloring.
3. Remaining white cake mix and 15 drops green food coloring.
4. Remaining chocolate cake mix.

Put one spoonful of each color into each muffin liner. 

Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean.

Top with chocolate frosting.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wall art under $20

I finally got some art work on dining room walls all for under $20! I got the plates for 99¢ each at Goodwill and bought some cheap plate hangers. Now I just need to think of something cute to put on my cake platter.


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