Archive | July, 2013
all-thats-left-are-sprinkles

Taste Test Tuesday — Sprinkles Cupcakes

Since we’ve been out of town, I couldn’t hold my usual taste test complete with panelists. So instead, my family & I held one of our FAVORITE tests of all time. Sprinkles Cupcakes!

This is such a great activity for you to do with your family or friends. (In fact, I love this taste test so much, and I’ve always wanted to take a trip to Sprinkles with my girlfriends to conduct one of these…and I’m sure I will someday!)

sprinkles-taste-test

Since there were 6 of us in total, we each picked out our favorite cupcake and then took them back to the beach house. Do you like the top three cupcake decorations? We just happened to be in San Diego the same time Comic Con was there, and Sprinkles had some special decor to celebrate. :)

we-picked-our-flavors

The flavors in this taste test were:

1) Salted Caramel
2) Strawberry
3) Double Cinnamon Sugar
4) Red Velvet
5) Chocolate Marshmallow
6) Vanilla with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

We cut each cupcake up into 6 pieces…which worked out great because by the time we “tasted” each of them, we had each eaten one whole cupcake.

four-cupcakes-and-cutting

the-cupcake-tastes

I know, those paper towels are fancy, right? Sometimes you have to use what you have available, ha!

I think my nephew, G, might have enjoyed this taste test the most:

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I just love that kid!

THE REPORT:

Sprinkles Owner, Candace, has really figured out how to master the basic cupcake flavors. Which is exactly what I would expect from this cupcakery. These cupcakes were all DELICIOUS, and we actually loved them all. But there were a few that stood out from the rest.

First place:

winner-vanilla-cupcake

Surprise! Perhaps one of the most basic flavors ever, Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting, was the FIRST PLACE WINNER. It was SO good, moist, with just the right amount of chocolate frosting. And the sprinkles on top were definitely a winner with my nephews. :)

SECOND PLACE: Red Velvet
THIRD PLACE: Strawberry

So it seemed this time we preferred all the classic flavors, which really surprised me! So if you have to choose just one flavor to get at Sprinkles Cupcakes, don’t overlook the basic classics!

P.S. Before I go, I must mention that this is NOT the first time we’ve done a Sprinkles Cupcake taste test. (Did I mention it’s our favorite out-of-town taste test ever?)

And in fairness to you, dear reader, I’d like to report the first place winner of our first taste test of these cupcakes: Fresh Orange. Sooooooo good! We may have included that one in this recent taste test, but they didn’t offer that flavor on the day we were there. So try the orange cupcake (a surprise winner last time) if they have it!

all-thats-left-are-sprinkles

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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7-13-breathe

Dose of Sunshine Monday — Breathe

Hello to another Monday. I just got back from a glorious (2 week) vacation in Southern California. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I spent a lot of time near the beach and enjoyed every minute of it.

Now, back to real life…I think of all the items on my to-do list, and some upcoming events that I am not looking forward to. The best way I’ve found to calm down and enjoy each minute, is to practice slow breathing. Try this: Breathe in through your nose for the count of 4, hold for 3 seconds, and then breathe out of your nose for the count of 6. Repeat as often as necessary.

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So this week if your life gets hectic, take some time to breathe!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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sipping-and-eating

Monsters University Summer Snack Party

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The movies this summer have been so fun for my nephews! They LOVED Monsters University and so we decided to have a snack party with Mike and Sully. :) Later, my nephews saw Despicable Me 2 and I asked which movie they liked better? They said unanimously: “Despicable Me 2!!” (It’s a good thing we had this Monsters University snack party first.)

This is such a fun and easy celebration to throw together. We found Mac & Cheese in monster shapes:

monsters-mac-and-cheese

And while that was cooking, the boys wanted to practice making monster eyes:

making-eyes

We used marshmallows (cut into slices), m&ms (peanut butter), and black decorating gel. These would make the “Mike Wasowski” eyes for the sugar cookies.

green-smoothie

We blended up a quick (and rather healthy) green “Wasowski” Smoothie to drink with our Mac & Cheese.  Mmmmm…. These are so easy to make with a little spinach, frozen pineapple and mango, ice, water, and banana.

sipping-and-eating

And then…we decorated the Wasowski Cookies! I made these sugar cookies earlier and cut them into circles and Mickey Mouse shapes. The boys were so creative decorating these.

the-cookies

ready-to-decorate

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G loves his Uncle Lann! I love that picture of G giving a hug…he so was excited for this part! We all joined in on the cookie decorating fun.

three-monster-cookies

When we finished decorating all the cookies, we decided to take some over to my nephews C and L, who live in Phoenix. They just had a new baby brother! (Who doesn’t need some Wasowski cookies at a time like this?!)

cookies-all-lined-up

If you have little boys/nephews/cousins/neighbors…get them together for a little monster snack party and cookie decorating fun. I hope you have just as much fun as we did!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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four-pillowcases

Cutting Fabric with the Cricut (and easy pillowcases)

how-to-cut-fabric-with-the-cricut

I don’t remember much about going to girls camp when I was a youth, but one thing I DO remember is receiving a homemade pillow case with my name embroidered on it. I still have that pillowcase all these years later! So I really wanted to make pillowcases for the girls this year.

I was excited to cut names out of fabric with my Cricut and then iron them on. Here’s a quick video on how to do this: (It’s easier than I thought!)

I’ve seen other videos where they use fabric stiffener to cut the fabric. You have to paint on the stiffener and then wait for a day or so for it to completely dry. It seemed messy and took WAY too long for me!

So instead, I used “Heat & Bond,” which you can find at JoAnn’s or WalMart…and it worked great!

bunch-of-pillowcases

I sewed up a bunch of these pillowcases using the burrito method. There is a good tutorial here. This is a fast way to make cute pillowcases, including a sweet little piping (hot pink houndstooth on my pillowcases).

Our camp director, Krista, picked out the fabrics for these and I LOVE them! I think she has an extraordinary eye for putting fabrics together. (Thanks, Krista!)

Then I cut the fabric letters using the Cricut, and ironed them on. They turned out fantastic! And I think they look great with the waterbottles for camp.

finished-pillowcase

four-pillowcases

So if you have a cricut and haven’t tried cutting fabric yet, what are you waiting for? It’s easy and there is so much you can do with fabric. I am ready to work on my next fabric project. See you next time.

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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7-13-find-something-to-love-every-day

Dose of Sunshine Monday — Find something to Love

To celebrate my youngest sister’s birthday, we met in California for some cool weather and fun. One night, we rented “Life of Pi” and she loved the interesting story. Have you seen this movie or read the book? I read the book many years ago, and I thought the movie was quite fun to watch.

Afterwards, my sister came up with the quote of the day: “Well, we may have our trials, but at least we aren’t stuck in a boat in the middle of an ocean with a tiger on board!”

Well said, Wendi, well said. We decided that there could be something each day that we found to love. And that is how this thought came to be for today’s Dose of Sunshine Monday. My sister made this sign for you:

7-13-find-something-to-love-every-day

In the midst of your trials or busy life, can you find something to love every day? If you are having challenges with this right now, just remember: at least you are not in a boat in the middle of the ocean with a tiger.

Now, focus on the good!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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getting-boxed-up

Personalized Water Bottles

personalized-water-bottles

Here’s another goodie I designed and created for Girls Camp! The first thing I think about for camping is WATER. And I was in search of the perfect water bottle to give to the girls. (The camp director wanted their NAMES on the bottles…and you can bet I took on the challenge.)

It was fortunate for me that I found these metallic water bottles at the Dollar Store! I had to visit 6 dollar stores in order to find enough of them! Each store had a few, or none…and since I am not the type to give up, I just kept on going to more stores until I found matching bottles. (I was happy to finally find victory!)

Since our colors were grey, pink and chevron, I thought the metallic work work out perfectly. And then I found the pink herringbone vinyl (which is sort of like chevron, right?) and I just knew it was a great match.

put-pink-vinyl-on-first

To make these personalized water bottles, first adhere the pink herringbone vinyl.

Second, trim the black shiny vinyl (I cut it into 1 1/2″ strips)

Third, cut the silver metallic vinyl letters with a die cut machine. (I used my Cricut and the Lyrical Letters font)

Adhere the metallic letters to the black vinyl strips. And cut them down into flags after you put on the letters.

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gather-vinyl-needed

cut-black-vinyl-with-flag-edge

Here’s a tip for cutting the perfect flag end: Cut the middle of the flag first, up about an inch. Then, cut from the bottom left side up to the cut mark in the middle…and then cut from the bottom right side up to the cut mark in the middle. Voila! A perfect flag every time.

Last, adhere the flag with letters to the water bottles with the pink herringbone already attached.

finished-water-bottles

I think they turned out pretty cute, don’t you? (And there’s a sneak peek at the pillowcases I made…coming in another post!)

Bonus: here’s a sweet little (easy) gift sack I put together for a treat:

lunch-sack-with-ribbon-and-coffee-filter

It’s just a white lunch sack (small size) with chevron ribbon, white coffee filter flower, and clothes pin with washi tape! Sometimes you need a sweet little gift that takes just minutes to put together. 😉 {Inside are the best animal cracker snack bags.}

getting-boxed-up

And here’s the start of getting things all boxed up. I hope they like them! And here’s what I love: acting as camp support (ie: making all these little gifts and helps) without actually GOING to camp. (In fact, I will be in California the whole time they are at camp).

But I do love still being a small part of the celebration. Happy day!

Now I hope you are not tired of pink and girly YET, I have another camp post coming soon!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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laffy-taffy-one-side-wet-wipes-other-side

Double-Sided Paper Pocket (tutorial)

I am excited to (finally) bring this post to you. Girls Camp started this week, which means it is safe to start posting some of my projects and handouts I’ve been working on for the girls! :) So get ready for a week of girly crafts and projects…here we go!

The colors for camp this year are pink and grey, with chevrons. When I was asked to help make some cute handouts and favors, I jumped at the chance (this is right up my alley)!

The first handout I thought of were these double-sided paper pockets. I found the PERFECT paper that had pink chevrons on one side, and polka dots on the other side.

double-sided-paper-pockets

You might recognize these little darlings, I used them for my Backyard Picnic here! See, if you just change up the colors, you have an entirely different feel. They are the perfect size for Ghirardelli chocolates, but use your imagination for other items that can slip inside the pockets.

picnic-paper-pockets

laffy-taffy-one-side-wet-wipes-other-side

At my backyard picnic, I put Laffy Taffy candy on one side, and Wet Wipes (for the BBQ!!) on the other side. Perfect.

Wouldn’t these be adorable as a little “Thank You” for someone? For these little pockets, you need a 6×6″ sheet of paper, adhesive, and some ribbon. (For a larger sized pocket, I’ve seen them made with a full 12×12″ sheet of paper.)

Here’s a semi-quick (just under 4 minutes) video How-To:

Since it is July in Arizona, we decided to use Laffy Taffy for the Girls Camp pockets, instead of chocolate. I’m pretty sure that was a smart move. I hope the girls are enjoying camp…and laughing it up! Can’t wait to hear how they loved Girls Camp.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have any other creative ideas for using these pockets. :)

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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The Best Bruschetta in Minutes (Guest Post)

The Best Bruschetta in Minutes (Guest Post)

It’s time for some Garden Bruschetta! I am excited to be guest posting at Mom Endeavors with my VERY favorite Bruschetta recipe. So if you have tomatoes from your garden (or even from the grocery store), then try this easy recipe here. I’m also sharing a tip for putting this together FAST (no more tedious chopping).

And while you are there,  don’t forget to leave a nice comment or two. Enjoy!

the-best-garden-bruschetta

I’m off to make some Bruschetta now…this has my mouth watering. :)

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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7-13-today-i-feel-great

Dose of Sunshine Monday – I feel great!

Good Monday morning! Today I have some great sunshine thoughts to share with you. I talk about my grandmother a lot because she is so inspirational to me…she is always in good spirits and has some happy thoughts or poems to share. I think that she is amazing because she is in an assisted living home and cannot get around on her own, yet she is always smiling with a good word.

Today I am sharing a string of words she would say EVERY morning to get her day started on the right note. My mom remembers this well: she would wake up, throw open the curtains and say: “I feel great…I feel healthy…It is a fantastic day!” And then she would go about her day.

I think there is something to this way of starting of your day! A positive note, a positive affirmation….who wouldn’t smile to start off with these words?

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Now, if you are anything like me, you may need to wait until after you fully wake up (and eat breakfast) to say this, but whenever it suits you, go ahead and give this a try for this week. See if it makes your week incredible.

Until next time…

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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last-eaten-salad

Taste Test Tuesday — Sweet Pork (Cafe Rio Copycat) with NO cola involved

There are a lot of Sweet Pork (Cafe Rio Copycat) Recipes out there. But have you noticed that most of them call for Coke or Dr. Pepper? Well, I’ve tried my fair share of these recipes in the past…but since I strongly dislike colas (yes, all of them) I found that I did not like those recipes that included them! {Plus, I sorta have an aversion to cooking with soda pop.}

SO, I’ve been searching for a good recipe for sweet pork that didn’t have cola in the ingredient list. I’m happy to announce that I found a couple recipes and then put them up to the Taste Test Challenge!

The great thing about these recipes is: you put all the ingredients in the crock pot to cook all day (easy!), then just shred up the meat and add in the sauce. I love that!

sweet-pork-2

After I cooked up both recipes, I put a taste of each on small plates for our judges. And then, when they picked their favorite, they got to make an entire sweet pork salad (or burrito). Now those are some lucky judges!

Sorry about the half eaten salad in this next picture…it was SO good that I forgot to take a picture before I ate most of it!

sweet-pork-salad

We used the following for our salads:

Fresh cooked tortillas
Cilantro Lime Rice
Garlic Black Beans
Lettuce
Peach Mango Salsa
Kari’s Garden Salsa
Cheese
Cilantro Lime Dressing

Oh. My. Goodness. I think these homemade salads are SO delicious! (They do rival the restaurant — however, there is something lovely about having all the ingredients ready and a salad made-to-order for you at the restaurant!)

Just to make sure of our results, I took both cooked recipes to my brother and sister-in-law (who just had a baby! yay!) to try out. The difference was, they would warm theirs up for dinner the next night. And they both liked the SAME one.

THE RESULTS:

Surprise! It was a TIE. I know, I know. I can’t believe it either.

So today, I am going to share with you my mother’s recipe for Sweet Pork.

And I will link up to the other cola-free Sweet Pork recipe as soon as I get permission!  Permission granted! Here is the Sweet Pork Recipe that was a favorite among 50% of the judges! (Thank you to The Sisters Cafe for such an awesome recipe!) If you do try this recipe, be sure to try their Garlic Black Beans as well…so good!
[Note to judges: this was recipe 1 for all of you that picked the first sweet pork sample as the winner]. This one has a small hint of a spicy kick to it (probably from the enchilada sauce) that was delicious, and this one was definitely quite a bit sweeter than the other.

And the other 50% of the judges liked my mom’s recipe! {recipe to follow} This was, in my opinion, the easiest of the recipes. You just mix together all four ingredients (yes, only four ingredients!), add on top of the pork roast, cook it up all day, take out the pork and shred it up, and add back in some of the sauce (not all of it….it makes a lot of sauce!) [Note to judges: this was recipe 2 for all of you that preferred this one]

*Recipe here

Sweet Pulled Pork {Cafe Rio Copycat}

Ingredients

  • 3 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 2 8 oz. cans El Pato sauce (can use yellow or green can)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and pour over 5-7 lb. pork loin roast.
  2. Cook in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours. (You can also cook in a tightly covered casserole dish in oven for approximately 4 hours @ 325 degrees).
  3. When roast is tender and done, remove from dish and shred - saving the cooked sauce.
  4. Pour cooked sauce back over the shredded meat to desired moistness. (Note: this makes a lot of sauce and you may not need it all).
http://www.sunshineinmypocket.com/taste-test-tuesday-sweet-pork/

I used the green can of El Pato (jalepeno salsa). The yellow can said “hot” and I was a little scared hesitant to try it. If you like a little more spice, try the yellow can.

el-pato

last-eaten-salad

So there you have a couple of the BEST cola-free Sweet Pork Recipes! Give them a try and let me know what YOU think! I just love a good Sweet Pork Salad. :)

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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