Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FREE Easter Stitching Pattern from Twin Stitchers


Do you remember Twin Stitchers

A few weeks ago they were kind enough to give Simply Designing readers a FREE stitching pattern!!!!  (How lucky were we?!?!) 

Well, they have some amazing patterns on their website right now!  Go and check their site out!

But in keeping with our Easter theme, they are currently offering this Easter stitching pattern (how cute is this?!?!) for FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right folks.  F.R.E.E. free!

Click here to go to their website, look through all their fabulous patterns, maybe buy their cute mother's day inspired one.  And then scroll down on the right side bar and click on the image of the above stitchery.  This will take you directly to their download page!  It is easy and it is FREE!

Can anything be better then that?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What have I done today?



What have I done today?

Filled 80 Easter Eggs and cut 15 paper bag easter baskets. 
(For my daughter's preschool.  I feel such a sense of accomplishment from doing all of that!)


What did I not do today?

Laundry.  Eat lunch. :-) 
(Both are highly over rated!)




Oh.  And the other thing I did today?

Put my Easter Egg Garland on sale at my Etsy shop!

Simply Designing blog followers will receive a 15% discount on all purchases at my Etsy shop through April 4th by using the code SD0404 when ordering.

Coconut Easter Eggs



So I was on a roll.  I rarely make candy, and the Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Easter Eggs from yesterday inspired me to make Chocolate Covered Coconut Easter Eggs.  Yummy!

And the recipe is so simple and easy to make!


Coconut Easter Eggs

2 lbs powdered sugar
1 lb coconut
1/4 lb margarine, melted
1/3-1/2 c evaporated milk (you want the mixture to be moist but not runny)
2 T vanilla
Chocolate

Mix all ingredients (except the chocolate)
Shape into egg shapes and place on cookie sheet covered with waxed paper
Place in freezer until they are hard enough to dip in chocolate without melting (about 30 minutes)
Melt chocolate in the microwave on low until melted, stirring frequently
Dip coconut eggs in chocolate and let set until chocolate hardens

Enjoy!

*Be sure to stop by on Friday!  We will have our link party AND a fabulous giveaway!*

Monday, March 29, 2010

There is a light at the end of the tunnel...

Ok, so you know how I meantioned I was behind on emails?  Well, I still am...

BUT, I have managed to dwindle my almost 400-email inbox down to 60 today!  Seriously folks.  60!  (Still way too many I know, but it is progress!)  But that faint light at the end of the tunnel, is growing a bit stronger!

So those of you who showed interest in guest blogging, giveaways, features etc...your time to get a return email has just drastically cut itself way way down! 

If you are interested in advertising, guest blogging or a blog swap, hosting a giveaway or being featured, now would be a good time to email me since I am bound to get to it quickly!  simplydesigning@gmail.com

Oh!  And!  I have found someone who will be helping be revamp my blog.  I am SOOOOO excited!!!!  I can hardly wait!  (Thanks for all your help and suggestions!!)  More on this later though...

For now, I am in a constant state of chaos...and I have laundry piling up to the ceiling.  (I might need to buy another package of Oreos to get me through!) 

But instead, I have chosen to blog.  And to go through my emails.... 

It's rough but someone has to do it.

Those of you who have blogs and / or etsy shops / and or your own business, how do you manage all your emails? 

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs




I love peanut butter cups.  I love reeses pieces.  I love Hagen Daz Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream.  I love chocolate and peanut butter together.  Yum! 

So for Easter, I have a good excuse to make these yummy chocolate covered peanut butter eggs!  Yum yum yum!

And the best part?  They are so simple! 


Peanut Butter Eggs

1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons margarine
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips or melting chocolate (a good brand)

Combine all ingredients. 
Mixture should be moist enough to shape, but not too gooey.
Shape into egg shapes.
Place on waxed paper and freeze for 30+ minutes until firm.
Melt chocolate in microwave on low.
Dip eggs in chocolate and let set on wax paper.

Yield: 1 recipe makes approximately 24 eggs

Eat and enjoy!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rice Crispy Pops (Easter Style)



Look what I made!

I went on one of my favorite blogs the other day, Creation Corner and found that she had featured a great idea...I followed her link to Craft Rookie...and then I followed her link to The Popcorn Factory.  Whew!  That was a long trail...

But seriously, it was worth it.  Look at how cute these are!  They are chocolate covered rice crispy treat pops! 

Yum!


I got inspired. 

And I am still slightly determined to find good uses for these...


So I made my favorite rice crispy recipe that can be found here (minus the green food coloring).

Pressed them into my silicone egg shaped pan.



Put popsicle sticks on them.

Dipped them in white dipping chocolate.


Made Royal Icing and decorated them! 


Yum yum yum!

For those of you that aren't familiar with Royal Icing, here is my recipe:


Royal Icing

3 Tablespoons Meringue powder (Wilton's brand, I buy mine at Michael's)
1 lb (approx 4 cups) confectioners' sugar
6 Tablespoons water (or less for a thicker consistency)

Mix with hand mixer for 10 minutes on low speed

*Note: All utensils and bowls must be grease-free.  This means that anything metal must be placed in boiling water to de-grease it before use.*

Enjoy!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Oreo Cookie Pops Feature

You all know I love love LOVE comments, right? They make me feel loved. They make me feel like someone out there in the big wide world actually hears me and cares (I have a 3 year old so I don't always feel listened to, teeheehee :-).


Comments make my day. I want to preface this post with this acknowledgement and let you all know that each and every one of your comments is read and I appreciate them ALL! They mean a lot! So thank you!

I especially want to thank those of you that left kind words of encouragement as I venture into the unknown world of single mom-ing it for several months. You guys are the best! 2 weeks down! Hurray!

And I want to thank those of you who recently contacted me about guest posting, giveaways and advertising. I am a little behind on my emails right now but I PROMISE I will return them ALL! So sorry for the delay. (And, oh no! I just found an email from a while ago in my junk folder! Oh dear I am so sorry!) Anyway, I will respond, promise! Thanks for being so patient with me.

Ok. Having said all of that. There are several many blogs out there that I stalk look at regularly. There are many creative people out there and many people with hugely successful blogs out there that I aspire to be like one day.

The other day, I was left a comment by one of those people! (insert girly screams here)

I felt very honored to have been left a comment by Shelley from How Does She! I had NO clue those fabulous ladies over there even knew I existed! Wow. What an honor!

Anyway, they are having a baking Spring Blog Hop right now! You should hop on over there and join in! (I did!)

While I was over there linking up to their blog hop, I couldn't help but notice these...


They are like my chocolate dipped Oreos...but on a stick!  (and cuter)

I have seen Cake Pops before. I have even made an easier version of them here.  I like them. I think they are adorable and oh so yummy.

But OREO COOKIE POPS! Oh yum! Those are a bit more up my alley!

I L.O.V.E. Oreos (I type as I am letting the spring version (yellow filling) of Oreos crumble in my keyboard as I eat them.)

Seriously.


Yes. They are 2/3's of the way gone.

Don't judge me.

I am all alone. With a 3.5 year old and a newborn.

Oreos are cheap therapy.

I digress...back to the post...aren't these just adorable?!? 

I can't wait until I get an excuse to make these!


So hippity hop your way over to How Does She, join their baking spring blog hop and check out her great tutorial on how to make these yummy Oreo Pops!


Happy Easter!

Oh!  And don't forget to link up at my latest link up party here!

Friday, March 26, 2010

LINK PARTY...Features...and more Easter Ideas!!!

Do you ever get to the end of the week and think, what did I accomplish this week?!?! 

Well here is a new place to show off exactly what you did this week...or last week...or last month!  It is Simply Designing's weekly "What I Made Link Party!"  (Hurray!)

Hurray! We had 19 link ups last Friday! Let's try to beat it this week!

Link up your fabulous ideas, and tell your readers / followers on your blog to link up as well please!

You may link up your ideas / crafts / projects / recipes / baby items / child items / home decor / design etc. items!  (It is a wide open link party!  Most things go, so link up!)

And feel free to post something from your archives too! 

Please just follow these simple rules:

1.  Link up using a permalink to your specific blog post, not to your blog home page.
2.  Grab my link party button and add that to your post, your side bar, or link back to my blog in some way so that everyone knows you participate in my link party!

Simply Designing

3.  Please don't link to your etsy shop or your ebay store. 
4.  Please check out other people's link-ups (as many as you can!) and leave comment love on their blog!
5.  Come back next Friday and link up again!

But before we get to the Link Party, here are a few wonderful features (Easter themed ones!) from last week's party!

Sugared Egg Vase at The Frugal Designer


Spring Grass Terrarium at Monkey See Monkey Do



Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail at The Thrifty Ba


If I featured you, please grab my "I've Been Featured" button! 

Happy Easter!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something Special - Easter Jelly Bean Cookies!





I love sugar cookies.  Who doesn't?!?  But I get a little bored of making the traditional sugar cookie with frosting.  (And to be honest, I really just don't enjoy all the rolling and cutting and rolling and cutting...Hey!  I like to keep things SIMPLE!!!)

I wanted to make cookies but I yearned to do something different!  So I had an idea!  What if I combined sugar cookies, with jelly beans!  What an Easter treat!

I tried out a new sugar cookie recipe and thought it tasted quite nice!  It is definitely a keeper.  So here goes:


Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

3 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c butter
1/2 c sour cream

Mix ingredients together. 

Put in the fridge for an hour or so.

And this is where I made things easier.  Instead of rolling and cutting the sugar cookies, I just took a small portion of dough, rolled it into a ball and then flattened it between my palms until it was about 1/4" thick.  (Of course you could cut these into egg shapes or bunny shapes, but...I strive for simplicity so we just had circular cookies tonight!  Still tastes yummy!)

Bake at 375 for approximately 8 minutes.

When the cookies are mostly cool, push several jelly beans in the top of the cookie for extra decoration and yumminess. 

Enjoy!

Oh, and my daughter also had a TON of fun helping me make these!  What a great little sous-chef!

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blog / Business Help

Ok so my blog is really bothering me. 

I have a list of to-do's and I am calling upon my fabulous readers to help me!  I know some of you are so talented so I am hoping someone out there can do what I am looking for. 

My blog was set it up fairly quicky (but since then I have spent hours trying to personalize it) but have decided that what I want is an entirely new look. 

With all the graphic design and interior design classes I have taken, I technically have the abilty to do this. 

However, I lack the time or inspiration.

I am looking for a new blog look, something more customized, not a free template, and help to convert my current site to the new look.  New banner, buttons, background, layout etc.  And I want a look that can be carried over to my etsy shop and used for my business as well.  I would also like a business card designed too (I will be printing them myself though). 

And I would want all original images used in digital format (preferably a modifiable format like jpg or psd) so that if I need to ever make a new button I can easily do so.  (I have and am familiar with photoshop and illustrator). 

I would also want the "rights" to the images / graphics designed so that I have the ability/right to reproduce them on business cards or note cards etc. (I think that means that premade clip art can't be used unless we get approval but I could be wrong...anyway, I am looking for something custom!)

If you would like to or are able to help, please email me with specifics!  What can you do, a site I can look at (yours is fine) that you have custom designed, and your price.  I am also willing to provide advertising in exchange for part or all of your work if that interests you as well (it would be ideal for me!).  If you are interested in advertising in exchange, I would provide ad space for you as well as feature you in a blog post.  We can work out specifics but it is an idea.  Anyway, email me and let me know your thoughts:  simplydesigning@gmail.com


I am also looking for a few items for use on the items I am / will be selling in my etsy shop. 

I am looking to possibly purchase fabric labels / tags to sew into fabric / sewn items.  (Can you tell I have great plans for my shop?!)

I am also looking for tiny metal tags to attach to jewlery with Simply Designing engraved on it. 

If you have the ability to do either of these, please email me with a quote: simplydesigning@gmail.com

Or if you know someone who makes or can help with any of these things, please have them email me or give me their contact info! 

Thank you SO much in advance for all your help my fabulous blog friends!

I'm on a mission...Jell-o Jigglers Easter Eggs




Remember this?


See...I spent money on it.  My original idea did not work out so well.  But I was determined to find an actual use for it so it wouldn't go wasted... 

Well good news!  This idea worked FLAWLESSLY!  Hurray!


Jello Jiggler Easter Eggs

Mix (1) small box of Jell-o with 2/3 cup boiling water
Mix for 3 minutes until completely dissolved
Pour into molds that have been sprayed with non-stick spray


Put in refrigerator for several hours until set
After they are set, place bottom of mold in hot water for 15 seconds
Turn molds upside down and the eggs should pop right out!

Try not to eat them all in one sitting! :-)  (why is jello still good, even as an adult?!)


(By the way, it is extraordinarily difficult to take good photos of Jello!)

Happy Easter!

I'm Guest Posting!


Sumo's Sweet Stuff


Today I am guest posting over at Sumo's Sweet Stuff!  (I am so excited!  I love guest posting!)

It is a wonderful blog and it is one I visit often!  Pop on over and check out my guest post.  Stick around and check out the other great ideas on the blog!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Etsy Shop Sale!

I wanted to let everyone know that for this week only, I am offering a discount to all my followers for my Etsy shop! 

Come and check it out here.  (http://www.simplydesigning.etsy.com/

I currently have my felt Easter Egg Garland listed as well as some Swarovski Crystal child / infant bracelets!  (More items coming soon too!)






For this week only, when purchasing an item, please use the code: SD0310 as well as your Follower Screen Name in the comment section to receive 15% off your entire order!

Thanks so much!

Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Easter Bunnies





I wanted to start out by giving a huge THANK YOU to all my wonderful followers out there!

First of all, yesterday was...one of those days.  I took my friend to the airport very early in the morning (we left home at 5:10am to be exact, immediately after my son's middle of the night feeding), so I started off the day a bit more sleep deprived than normal, followed by my son being a bit more needy than normal, he has thrush and I think it was really bugging him, so he is not eating well and not sleeping well and just wants to be held a bit more than usual.  And to top off the day, my daughter came down with a stomach bug. 

So much fun. 

Oh, and that doesn't even mention the load of laundry I about ruined yesterday that I am still trying to fix...but more on that one later...Anyway, the point is, it has been one of those days. 

I was in desperate need of a pick-me-up.

I was about to reach for the Ben and Jerry's, when I decided to check my email first.  I had received a new comment on my blog.  The comment was a very sweet one.  I love my readers!  And I LOVE comments!  But the comment was topped off by saying that she was my 100th follower! 

WOW!!!  Alright wonderful followers, we did it!  We reached 100!  I am sooooo excited!  This definitely was a better pick-me-up then the Ben and Jerry's!  (Although I may still have a bite... :-)

So thank you!  Thank you thank you thank you!  I can't believe I have 100 followers!

I will be attempting to organize a Giveaway in honor of reaching 100 followers, so stay tuned!  It will be a fun one! :-)

Alright, now on to the Easter part of the post!

Having been inspired by this post, and having seen cinnamon Easter bunnies in the bulk bin section of my grocery store the other day; I could help but want to make some chocolate covered cinnamon Easter bunnies!  Yum!


To Make Dipping Chocolate:

In a double broiler, combine the following:
  • 6 oz chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1.5 teaspoons water
Melt on medium heat until smooth, stirring occasionally.


Dip cinnamon bunnies (or other) into chocolate and tap off excess. 

Place on wax paper until dry.  (Can decorate with sprinkles, nuts, coconut etc. while the chocolate is drying).


Enjoy!

Yum!  Now I just can't decide if I should eat all of these, or share some with my hubby?!? :-)


Happy Easter!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Link Party!!

You have one more day to link up your craft / project / recipe / tutorial / idea here!

Oh, and it doesn't have to be a new project, an older one is fine too!

Link up and join in the fun!

Trial and Error...and Error...but the Easter posts continue! Egg Cakes!



Have you ever had a great project idea that...well...didn't turn out exactly as planned? (Please say "yes" or you will make me feel really bad about myself :-)

NO part of this project turned out as planned.

Concept. Good.

Execution. Poor.

Issue #1 - Silicone pans. I bought these really cute egg shaped silicone pans. I had great hopes of baking little egg shaped cakes to ice and decorate. Concept. Good. Execution...well, let's just say, none of the 12 eggs came out of the pan successfully.

I know what you are thinking. I didn't use Pam. Nope. I did. I sprayed it several times actually. I was worried they were going to just roll of the pan, I used that much Pam. Unfortunately, they all stuck to the pan.


Issue #2 - I had read in a magazine, several months ago about a great way to ice little cakes like this. I am all about keeping things easy and simple, right? Well, they suggested melting canned icing in the microwave and pouring it on the cakes to make little petite four type of cakes. They even had this amazing photograph of this airplane cake done this way! I was so inspired! Concept. Good. Execution...well...where do I begin...

First of all, don't melt the icing for too long. The first batch I did I put in for 30 seconds. The icing melted so much it actually separated into two layers...it was not pretty and has made me skeptical of canned icing. I mixed and mixed and it didn't go back together. I tried to pour it on the cake and the cake absorbed it. Not very pretty looking.



The second one I tried, I melted the icing for 10 seconds. Still too thin.



The third one I did, I melted the icing for 5 seconds. It worked pretty well. I have to admit, all in all, after a lot of trial and error...and error...it turned out pretty cute. The photo does not do it justice.



But at that point I was too tired to continue trying to ice my sad looking egg-cakes with icing that wasn't working quite as well as I had envisioned. And my poor daughter just wanted an egg-cake so badly, I took a knife, the can of icing, slapped some on the best looking egg-cake there was, put some blue sprinkles on it (blue for Cinderella of course) and called it good.  She will be so happy to see this in the morning!



I, myself, was this close to just dipping an egg-cake directly into the can of frosting and eating it...but I did use a knife in the end though. Wasn't so pretty, but they still tasted yummy!

Oh sigh.

Such a GREAT idea.

I had such high hopes.

It was such a big flop.

Please tell me I am not the only one to have projects go wrong!

And can anyone tell me why my silicone pans did not work well?

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jelly Belly Flops



I have a friend in town visiting this weekend.  So much fun!  Anyway, we decided to go to the Jelly Belly factory today.  She wanted to buy some Jelly Belly Flops to bring home with her. 

Flops are a bag of Jelly Belly's that didn't turn out quite right.  Basically they are the jelly beans that don't quite meet Jelly Belly's standards for size, color and shape.  They taste just fine, but aesthetically, they aren't quite right.  But they are also way cheaper than regular Jelly Belly's and still just as yummy!

My daughter got a kick out of all the jelly beans and all the jelly bean decor that was at the factory.  Although we did decide not to take her on the 40 minute tour since we thought that may be a bit much for a 3 year old.

Anyway...it isn't Easter without jelly beans so I thought this post was only appropriate for the season.

But what to do with 2 lbs of Jelly Belly's?!?! 

If you are religious, you can package jelly beans up in a cute cello bag and give to family / friends with one of these poems:

THE JELLYBEAN PRAYER


Red is for the blood He gave
Green is for the grass He made
Yellow is for the sun so bright
Orange is for the edge of night
Black is for the sins we made
White is for the grace He gave
Purple is for the house of sorrow
Pink is for the new tomorrow
A bag of jellybeans
colorful and sweet
In this prayer is a promise

And a small delicious treat.
JELLY BEAN POEM


Little jelly beans
Tell a story true.
A tale of Father's love
Just for me and you.
GREEN is for the waving palms.
YELLOW is for the sun above.
BROWN is for the soft earth where
People sat hearing of HIS love.
A SPECKLED bean for fish and sand.
RED for precious wine and
BLACK is for the sin
He washed from you soul and mine.
PURPLE'S for the sadness of
HIS family and His friends,
WHITE is for the glory of
The Day HE rose again.
Now that you've heard the story
You know what each color means.
The story of our Father's love
Told by some jelly beans.
So every morning take a bean
They're really very yummy.
Something for the soul, you see
And something for the tummy.

Or.

Another great option.

Fill a hurricane vase or jar with them for a cute, edible decoration!


Or if you are REALLY adventurous...


Check out this amazing jelly bean wreath over at Nikki's Nifty Knacks!  Wow!  Isn't this incredible?!?!

Enjoy your jelly beans and Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yummy Easter Treats!

Here are a few yummy tasting and fabulous looking Easter treats!

Let me know if you make any of them!  I would love to see how they turn out!


Chocolate Eggs by Martha Stewart (ok so I really want to make these!)










Do you have any special Easter treats you love to make? 
Email me at simplydesiging@gmail.com to share them!

Friday, March 19, 2010

What I Made This Week (or last week...or last month) Link Party!


Do you ever get to the end of the week and think, what did I accomplish this week?!?! 

Well here is a new place to show off exactly what you did this week!  It is Simply Designing's weekly "What I Made This Week Link Party!"  (Hurray!)

I was excited to have 18 link ups last week!  Let's see if we can beat it this week! 

Please link up and tell your followers to link up as well!
You may link up your ideas / crafts / projects / recipes / baby items / child items / home decor / design etc. items!  (It is a wide open link party!  Most things go, so link up!)

Please just follow these simple rules:

1.  Link up using a permalink to your specific blog post, not to your blog home page.
2.  Grab my link party button and add that to your post, your side bar, or link back to my blog in some way so that everyone knows you participate in my link party!

Simply Designing

3.  Please don't link to your etsy shop or your ebay store. 
4.  Please check out other people's link-ups (as many as you can!) and leave comment love on their blog!
5.  Come back next Friday and link up again!



Easter Features

Thanks to all those who joined my link party last Friday!  Be sure to link up today as well!  (It will begin at 9:05am PST)!

I got a lot of great links!  Thanks so much!

Here are a few Easter / Spring inspired ideas that were submitted last week.  If you have been featured, be sure to grab my "I've Been Featured" button for your blog / website!  Thanks!

 Simply Designing



Fabric Carrots at Sassy Style


Egg-stra Sweet Easter Banner at Stone Creek Market


Easter Bouquet at Southern Domestic Goddess


Bird's Nest Display at The Frugal Designer


Spring at Minutes to Spare


Thanks so much for linking up and be sure to link up your great ideas again today!