Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

The only part better than decorating for the Holidays is baking for them! This was one of my favorites this year!


For the Cake:
1-1/4 pkg. (4 oz. each) Semi-Sweet Chocolate (5 oz.), divided
1 pkg.  (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 pkg.  (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding1 cup Light Sour Cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup water
6 small candy canes, crushed, divided

For the Frosting:
2 pkgs Betty Crocker Vanilla Whipped frosting
sprinkle with candy crushed candy canes

Heat oven to 350°F

Chop 4 oz. chocolate; set aside. Beat next 6 ingredients with mixer until blended. Stir in chopped chocolate and 2 Tbsp. crushed candy. Spoon into 30 paper-lined muffin cups

Bake 20 to 23 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans 10 min.; remove to wire racks. Cool completely

Frost with Betty Crocker Vanilla Whipped Frosting. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy cane pieces

Adorable Bird Art (for the cheapo at heart)

Until we moved into this house together in August, 2013 I had been living happily in a very tiny downtown apartment. While it was tiny, it was perfect for me. Just the right amount of space for me to decorate and add my personal style/flair to. It really did “scream” Annie from the second you walked in the door. 

Once we moved in together I had a pretty big task ahead of me - combining our two unique styles into one (ok, let’s be honest, Matt doesn’t have a style, but I do try and accommodate his more masculine requests). This house is obviously bigger than my apartment was - afterall, that apartment wasn’t even 700 sqft!! 

The amount of wall space in this home is almost overwhelming to me! Not to mention the fact that all the walls are concrete and pretty much impossible to nail into. If Matt isn’t “feeling it”, I don’t get anything up on the walls because I don’t have the strength needed to puncture the walls! I’m thinking of making the switch to Command hooks, but I have my doubts they can hold the things I want up on the wall and I’m afraid they will fall and break :/

But I digress, this post is actually about quick, easy and cheap art! Since I am obsessed with filling the blank spaces, I am always looking for wall art. The problem is that wall art is almost never affordable, at least not the “we just bought a new home and don’t have a ton of extra money sitting around” kind of affordable. 

BUT, while wondering around the aisles at Hobby Lobby (one of my favorite past times) I noticed these adorable vinyl wall decals. They have blue birds on them, BLUE BIRDS! So I couldn’t pass them up. However, I am not one of the wall decal type of gals, I loathe them generally. So I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t compromise my style just because of a few cute blue bird decals! 

Seriously, BLUE BIRDS!

I wanted them though, I really, really did. So, I wondered the aisles more (that’s where I do my best thinking!) until I had a solution. I would simply grab a few canvases that were on sale (4 for $4 - hell to the yeah) and paint those a pretty pale blue, then I’ll MOD-PODGE the decals onto the painted canvases - instant art! 

Step 1:
Paint the canvases in whichever color you wish. Making sure to paint the sides of that canvas, as those are the parts that will show your chosen color the most (vinyl will cover the middle/front of the canvas). As you see here, I'm all about efficiency, so I didn't even bother with painting the center. 

Step 2:
After your canvases have dried (minimum of 1 hour) position your first vinyl piece exactly where you wish to have it on the canvas. DO NOT remove the paper backing, no need to actually adhere the vinyl to the canvas with anything other than Mod Podge. 

Step 3:
Use Mod Podge to apply the vinyl to the canvas. Don't worry about bubbles, they will work themselves out as the Mod Podge dries.

Step 4:
Wait 4 hours for the vinyl to free itself of all bubbles and beautiful itself and ta-da! DONE :)

Instant Bird Art!

The 70's Called

Materials: pages from vintage novel, pieces of scrapbook paper and Mod Podge

Pumpkin Spice Danish

When the rest of the world starts sharing pumpkin flavored goodies I become insanely jealous because it's still hot as hell outside and that it's nowhere close to actually feeling like Fall in Orlando. As soon as the temperature drops even slightly below 80 I break out the Fall flavors and go to town. 

There were a ton of pumpkin flavored desserts and breakfast pastries (still dessert, but I'm not judging) floating around Pinterest this year, but I was dying to try the ones that use Crescent Rolls - because it seemed to have the least chance of ending up in my "Pinterest Fail" list.  I didn't find a recipe I liked in its entirety so I stole pieces from a bunch to create my own version. Here it is...

Ingredients -
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
Pumpkin Spice Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • HEAT oven to 375°F
  • Blend cream cheese, pumpkin, 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk, flour and spices in large bowl until combined and smooth
  • UNROLL 1 package of crescent rolls (4 triangles); separate and lay flat. Push seams together to form one giant rectangle
  • Spread Pumpkin Spice Filling onto the rectangle (leaving about an inch around the edges)
  • UNROLL 1 package of crescent rolls (4 triangles); separate and lay flat on top of the Pumpkin Spice Filling layer. Push seams together to form one giant rectangle
  • Push the edges together so that the Pumpkin Spice Filling is entirely contained within the dough
  • Cut diagonal lines throughout the pastry to give it that "Danish look"
  • Brush pastry with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar
  • Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until slightly golden brown
  • Drizzle with remaining 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk immediately after you remove the danish from the oven
  • Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Love Birds

Materials: Mod Podge, card stock in various designs/colors, newspaper (wings) and scrapbook paper

Welcome Home

After making the first offer in January, we finally have keys to the house!! 

I knew this house was the house the second we walked in. Matt had already looked at the place and was showing a slight interest in the place, at least enough interest to warrant a return visit. When we walked in the first thing you see is the view - a lake view to be exact! The house sits right on this tiny spring-fed lake, it's beautiful and peaceful - just 2 miles from downtown. Now, for transparency sake, the lake is nothing big enough for power boats or anything, but it is bigger than the retention ponds that command "lakefront lot" prices in the suburbs. Once I saw Matt's face looking at the view I knew he was home. 

7 months later, we're moving in! It's definitely a work in progress and the backyard sold the house for us (there's a pool back there too! eeeee!) but we couldn't be more excited to take on the project!

Welcome home!