Archive | April, 2013
4-13-be-happy3

Dose of Sunshine Monday — Choose to Be Happy

Happy Monday! Today, I will leave you with one simple idea: If you have a choice, choose to be happy.

I am working on this at times there are things that bother me, but I remind myself that I do have a choice! And I can choose to continue to worry, or I can choose to be happy. It’s much more fun to be happy! Have you mastered this?

4-13-be-happy2

Have a super-great week filled with happy!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }
thinking-of-you-citrus-small

How to make an Orange Slice out of Felt (and a free printable)

Today I am going to show you how to make that felt orange slice that we used to adorn our Orange Blossom Cookies.

felt-orange-slice-a-tutorial

It is incredibly easy to make and looks surprisingly realistic next to real orange slices. You only need: Orange felt in 2 shades, white felt, ribbon, needle & thread, fabric glue.

felt-slice-with-aileens-fabric-fusion

Watch the quick video tutorial below: (and please leave some nice comments if you are watching on YouTube)

Voila! Nice and easy, right? And it adds a little somethin’ somethin’ to your orangey gifts! Think of using it for more than just orange cookies; Tie one around a mason jar or carafe of Orange Juice, Wrap up a bag of oranges and use it to dress them up. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be an orange gift, but it does let the recipient know what to expect.

If you are ready to try the best orange cookies ever, then click here for the recipe!

Now, as promised…here is the free printable to use with your felt orange slices. (This is for personal use only. Please do not reproduce, claim as your own or sell. Thank you!)

thinking-of-you-citrus-small

(The download will not have my website on it)

Like my page here:

Then download the pdf version here:

thinking of you

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }
two-cookies-with-orange-slices

Orange Blossoms (a favorite recipe)

two-orange-trees

We have four beautiful orange trees and today they were calling to me. One of my favorite things is to enjoy the fruit from our CITRUS trees here in Arizona. We have a new lemon and lime tree, too, and I’m hoping soon they will produce! But now, it’s time to harvest the rest of these sweet oranges and MAKE something. I went to pick some low hanging fruit and came in with a basket just full of oranges ready to juice, zest, and slice.

sweet-oranges-in-bowl

Aren’t they beautiful!? Of course, we love our fresh-squeezed orange juice, but today I’m thinking my very favorite orange cookies: Orange Blossoms. My sister, who lives in Utah, made these the other day and sent me a picture…she said “These cookies always remind me of you!” So thank you, dear sister, for the inspiration!

I will warn you now: this post has a lot of pictures! I couldn’t help it…these darlings made such a photogenic subject and I got a little carried away. I even got my husband in on the picture taking (you will see his picture at the end of the post).

orangy-ingredients

I love the simple ingredients: oranges, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, eggs, butter, and buttermilk. We just happened to have some buttermilk on hand that I needed to use up, but if you don’t have buttermilk you can add a little lemon juice to regular milk (see how to do this here).

{Have you used one of these microplane zesters? It’s one of my favorite tools in the kitchen, especially when I’m working with citrus!}

Mix up the ingredients and drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet. Today, I made them regular sized, but if I’m having a ladies’ lunch or tea party, I will make them half this size. And they turn out so cute!

on-cookie-sheet

Bake them up and while they are baking, make the orange glaze. It’s a simple mixture of butter, powdered sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. You will want to frost these cookies while they are still warm because the frosting melts and enrobes the cookies a little bit.

I love these little cookies. They are more cake-like and when you bite into them it is just. like. heaven.

frosted-cookies-on-sheet-with-oranges

Can you see the bits of orange zest in the frosting? There is zest in both the cookie dough AND the frosting, which adds up to a great citrus-y kick of flavor!

cookies-orange-slices-and-glass

Doesn’t this make a pretty picture? It screams luncheon (or tea party) to me! Or the next best thing: which is to wrap them up pretty and take them to some of my favorite people.

wrapped-cookies-with-note

OK. That orange slice (out of felt!) and printable is so cute for this little gift! Click here to get instructions on how to make it AND get the free printable!

cookie-plates-and-oranges

This is the fantastic photo my husband captured with all the prettiness and citrus colors! I love it.

So, will you go try this recipe and just see if you love these delicious Orange Blossoms as much? And then let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Orange Blossoms

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. grated orange peel (zest)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Cream brown sugar and butter.
  2. Add eggs, orange peel and vanilla. Beat until fluffy.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  4. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition.
  5. Drop onto greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. While cookies are warm, frost with orange icing
  7. Orange Icing: Combine 1 T. grated orange peel (zest), 3 T. orange juice, and 3 T. butter. Stir in 3 c. sifted powdered sugar.
http://www.sunshineinmypocket.com/orange-blossoms-a-favorite-recipe/

two-cookies-with-orange-slices

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 2 }
my-favorite-reeses

Taste Test Tuesday — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

the-perfect-reeses-ratio

For this very important taste test we were in search of The Perfect Reese’s Ratio! I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of these Reese’s options, but in the quest for truth and best taste to report back to you, I just knew that this taste test could not be overlooked!

We tested the original Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the Reese’s Big Cup, Reese’s Miniatures (wrapped in foil), and Reese’s Mini Peanut butter Cups (unwrapped), all pictured. EDITOR’S NOTE: It was my intention to add the Reese’s Easter Peanut Butter Egg to our taste options, however, when I went to check my stash, I discovered they had all been eaten! (Who would’ve done that?!) So we stuck with the four options.

I think it’s important to show you the difference in peanut butter and chocolate ratios for each.

size-comparison-tower

You can see that the Big Cup has some serious peanut butter! With the Miniatures coming in with not quite as much peanut butter and then originals. Let’s check them out side by side:

a-side-by-side-comparison

It may look like the minis have just as much peanut butter as the originals, but they are actually covered in a thicker amount of CHOCOLATE, with just a bit of peanut butter enrobed in the center.

I do realize that taste tests are very subjective and dependent upon what each individual panelist prefers. But that is why I had a LARGER group to discover the truth for you. And the winner won by an overwhelming majority! (Care to take a guess before I reveal the winner?)

THE WINNER (drum roll, please….)

winner-original

First Place: ORIGINAL PEANUT BUTTER CUPS ARE THE WINNER!!! Yes. I love that the original peanut butter cup won!

But we did have a few judges who disagreed: one voted for the Big Cup (more peanut butter), one voted for the Minis (more chocolate). There was a bit of an argument on the Big Cup…because even though it was a favorite for one judge, another said it was too rich to eat a whole cup at one sitting. I love it when our judges disagree. 😉

Have you given this taste test a try? Which one is YOUR favorite?

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of them! So, why not buy them all to shake things up a bit. (Reese’s did not pay me or compensate me in any way to do this blog post, by the way!)

Second Place: Miniatures (wrapped in foil)
Third Place: Big Cup
Final Place: Minis

I would LOVE to use the minis for baking (think cookies or cupcakes). And when I do, you’ll be the first to know. Wink.

my-favorite-reeses

See you at our next taste test!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 6 }
earth-i-love-u

Dose of Sunshine Monday — Earth Day Free Printable (Do not print)

It’s Earth Day! And to celebrate, I thought I’d make you a free printable! But for Heaven’s sake, don’t print it. Because that would take paper, which is made from trees…and that might completely negate my good will toward Earth on this very special day.

So, maybe it’s not a printable. It’s just a little sign I created for you to enjoy on this day! :)

earth-i-love-u

And to further celebrate and pay homage to this day, here are some ideas:

1) Use real plates (not paper plates)…my son Nate would love this one! He is much in favor of NOT using paper plates

2) Plant something. A tree, a flower, a garden item.

3) Recycle.

4) Take some pictures of nature. Really appreciate it. (And share, share, share!)

Enjoy this beautiful Monday and enjoy our wonderful and amazing Earth! It’s a great place to live. 😉

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }
fabulous-felt-roses

How to Make Felt Roses

I love roses! Love them. In fact, I have a rose garden just outside my kitchen window so I can look at my roses as I’m doing dishes (what could be more inspiring)? It seems I have been extra inspired by roses this week! See my rose photo inspiration here.

So, to stay with the rose theme, today I am showing you how to make a FELT rose. And, oh, they are adorable! Felt roses are one of my favorite things to use to dress up a small gift. :)
Click here to see the video on how to make felt roses:

And after you have watched the first video, take a look at some ideas on how to use these felt roses on gifts to spread a little sunshine:

By the way, these are a few of my very first videos up on this blog and on my YouTube channel. So, let me know what you think! (Be nice! *Wink*)
three-rose-samples
fabulous-felt-roses
Thanks for visiting today…see you next time.

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }
sneak-peek-reeses

Announcement for Taste Test Tuesday

Taste Test Tuesday: Questions Answered

Hello! And Happy Tuesday. I’ve been working on the next Taste Test Tuesday and I’m pleased to tell you that this is going to be a DELICIOUS taste test. I just love to conduct these taste tests! Life is good.

But before I announce what our next taste test is, I’ve been asked a few questions about Taste Test Tuesday that I will answer now!

First, let me tell you: What is Taste Test Tuesday? 

Taste Test Tuesday is a tasting opportunity that I report on every other week. I conduct taste tests of many {important} food or beverage items. Then I report the winners and runners up for you, my readers. I hope it will help you to eat more deliciously! It is a small gift from me to humanity you. I hope you enjoy my gifts as much as I enjoy putting them together!

Why do you spend your time on Taste Test Tuesday?

This is something that I really enjoy. I love gathering each panel together, I love designing the taste test forms and the “logos” for each one, I love researching different brands, and I love compiling results to find the winner! With all these things that I love put together into one Taste Testing Opportunity, I feel so alive! I know, it sounds cheesy (which reminds me of another taste test I must conduct), but I really do LOVE it. And we all need to do more of what we love, don’t you think?

How can I participate as a taste test panelist?

I’m always looking for panelists, but I am very particular in the panelists that participate. Not only must you have good taste, but you must also pass a series of taste testing requirements, such as: must be over the age of 17, must have no food allergies, must be able to discern a variety of tastes, must make it to the assigned time, and of course must live in Arizona! So far I have not conducted virtual taste tests. :)

Can I suggest a Taste Test Tuesday item?

Absolutely! I love to hear ideas about taste tests! Simply comment on this blog post and let me know what you’d like to see tested. (But do keep in mind that this is NOT “Fear Factor.” Ha!) Thanks!

And now, a sneak peek at our NEXT TASTE TEST:

sneak-peek-reeses

Oh, yeah. It’s gonna be a good one AND one that I am privileged to conduct. {I take this responsibility very seriously.}

Click here to read the Reese’s Taste Test

See you next week!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }
rose-inspiration-comes-to-those-who-seek-it

Dose of Sunshine Monday — Inspiration comes

Happy Monday!  I hope your weekend was filled with inspiration. I had a fantastic weekend learning and growing and networking at Bloggy Boot Camp in Phoenix. I was inspired so much and now I have so many new ideas! (Now which to start first?)

I spent Sunday unwinding and thinking…and enjoying the garden. Look at this beautiful image I captured at just the right time of sunset. I hope it reminds you that inspiration is everywhere!

rose-inspiration-comes-to-those-who-seek-it

I hope you find your inspiration today. Take a deep breath and enjoy your week.

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }
flowers-and-a-scone

Vanilla Blueberry Scones for Nonny

vanilla-blueberry-scones

This post is inspired by my grandma, Nonny. She is a fantastic cook and she shared her love for cooking (and baking) with me. She taught me to make orange rolls (from scratch) and sugar cookies. She taught me to love tea time with the girls — complete with dress up clothes and hats and gloves. She always cooked an amazing Sunday dinner with homemade rolls and creamed peas…oh, how I loved those creamed peas. And always, always there were pansies from the garden as the centerpiece!

Right now my grandpa, Poppy is in the hospital. And since I feel so sad and a little helpless, I thought I’d make some scones for Nonny and send her these pictures across the miles! So, Nonny, this post is for you…I wish we were enjoying tea together as we devour these scones.

Vanilla Blueberry Scones

First, gather the ingredients: they are simple and few.

simple-ingredients

Flour, sugar, baking powder, butter, blueberries, milk, vanilla and an egg. (full recipe at the end of this post)

Mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder. Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry knife (if you don’t have one of those, you can use a knife or a fork). Then add the blueberries and carefully fold into the flour mixture.

cut-in-butter-add-blueberries

In another dish, mix together the milk, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the flour and blueberries and mix together until the dough comes together. You may need to add a little extra milk to bring it all together. Dough should be a little sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and form it into a circle, about 1/2″ high. Brush a little milk onto the circle of dough, and sprinkle with sugar. Some of the sugar will melt into the milk, keep adding sugar until you can still see it on the top. (I like a lot of sugar…it cooks up a little crispy on top and makes the scone SO delicious!) Cut the circle of dough into 6 wedges. Then separate the wedges a bit before you put it into the oven.

shape-milk-sugar-cut

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake! That makes the scones crumbly and dry…and you don’t want that! When they are done, the edges should be just BARELY turning brown. Allow to cool. (But if you can’t resist…go ahead and eat one while they are still warm! That’s one of life’s best!) Make sure they are completely cool before you package them up in adorable little bags for gifting.

trio-of-scones-with-flowers

**Recipe here

Vanilla Blueberry Scones

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 3 T. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 T. milk
  • 1 c. blueberries (fresh is best)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add blueberries and carefully fold them in.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the egg, 4 T. milk and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine together. (Be careful not to squish the blueberries or your dough will turn purple!) You may need to add an additional tablespoon of milk to get the ingredients to combine well.
  4. Turn the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Form the dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Brush a little milk on the top of the dough, and sprinkle with sugar. Cut into 6 wedges and separate them.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or just until barely brown around the edges.
http://www.sunshineinmypocket.com/vanilla-blueberry-scones-for-nonny/

I love to eat these with butter and cinnamon/sugar or even whipped cream (my favorite)! But they are delicious even just plain…the blueberries add just a little sweetness and the sugar on top makes a fantastic coating when you cook it.

{This one’s for you, Nonny, complete with purple pansies! I love you}

flowers-and-a-scone

Oh. My. Doesn’t that look yummy?!

You might decide to enjoy these scones for Mother’s Day, coming up May 12, 2013. But believe me, you really don’t need a special occasion for these beauties. When you make them, won’t you invite me to tea?

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 4 }
root-beer-logo-1-FLAT

Taste Test Tuesday — Root Beer

root-beer-challenge

The Root Beer Taste Test results are finally IN!

We had a little extra fun with this one by offering an online survey before we held the actual taste test. I wanted to see if the results of the survey matched the results of the taste test. Boy, was I SURPRISED!

ONLINE SURVEY RESULTS

The survey began the week before the taste test panel. Thanks to everyone who took our online survey!

And the winner of the survey, with 37% of the votes was A&W Root Beer.
Tied for second place was IBC, Henry Weinhard’s and Barq’s Root Beer
.

I thought this was fun because we, as a society, are bombarded with marketing messages constantly. And A&W is a master at their marketing: “A&W Root Beer has that frosty mug taste!” Did A&W win the online survey because of marketing strategy, because it was the best recognized root beer out there? (I would not rest until I found out the answer to this with our live taste test! Yes, I am seriously dedicated to finding the truth for you, dear reader!)

Another interesting note: Barq’s must be working day and night to secure their place in restaurants and soda machines. I see Barq’s more than any other root beer as the choice at the soda fountain. (Although, today MUG was the root beer available at the pizzeria we tried.)

IBC is delicious, as I well know. But I had not heard of Henry Weinhard’s before the survey. In fact, IT WAS NOT EVEN AN OPTION on the survey, but was rather a write-in choice. AND…I had already gathered all the root beer for our taste test panelists, but this was NOT ONE of them! So, what did I do? I ran right out and found Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer to add as a contestant.

TASTE TEST RESULTS

Would our taste test provide the same results as the online survey? Drum Roll, please….

The Winner of our Taste Test was:

the-winner-a&W

A&W Root Beer!! Yes, the taste test reflected the SAME #1 Root Beer as the online survey! A&W is well-loved and the results of both tests showed that.

Note: I searched all over the valley for A&W Root beer on tap. They used to offer it at both A&W restaurants AND at select KFC restaurants. My kids LOVED it when we brought home a gallon of A&W root beer on tap and then served it up in the frosty mugs we kept in the freezer. However, when I called to find it for our taste tests…it was not to be found! The contract with KFC must have ended, because they now serve only MUG rootbeer in their restaurants. :(

We had a TIE for SECOND PLACE:

Tied-for-second-place

Henry Weinhard’s & IBC Root Beer tied for second place. If you take a look at our online survey: BOTH also came in second place (together with Barq’s…but Barq’s did not place at all with our Taste Test Panelists.)

So far, we are pretty consistent with our choices!

We also had a TIE for THIRD PLACE: (I know, I know…I wanted to hold a tie breaker, but ran out of panelists!)

Tied-for-third-place

Mug & Teddy’s tied for Third place. I could not compare to the online survey, but Teddy’s did get ONE vote online.

Interestingly enough, Teddy’s also was one that many judges did not appreciate: They reported that it was “too sweet” or “too strong.”

But we definitely had a DEAD LAST root beer. It was one that was voted as last place by the MAJORITY of the panelists:

last-place-dads

Panelists commented that it was “too strong” or had a “weird cherry taste.” So much for using this as a cute Father’s Day gift. (Crafty Bloggers everywhere will shed tears, I’m sure)!

the-form-and-the-cups

Just look at all those cups! (I used over 100 cups for this challenge…but it was certainly worth it, don’t you think?)
A special thanks to all our judges…I could not do this without you. :)

THE WINNER SHALL MEET ANOTHER!

Now that we know A&W is the winning root beer…and we know the winner of our Vanilla Ice Cream Challenge (see the results here)…I think it might be time to introduce the two of them, don’t you agree?

We shall combine the two to make the BEST ROOT BEER FLOAT ever. And we’ll invite our panelists to come and see if they agree. And now, dear reader, I invite YOU to try these at your house and see if YOU think it is the best root beer float you’ve ever had! Then, report your findings back here on this blog post.

Another Successful Taste Test! (I can’t wait for the next one!)

root-beer-logo-1-FLAT

Linking up with Lil’ Luna (I’m number 438! Ha! Someone’s got to be a little more on top of things….)

Until then,

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }