White Wine Sangria Recipe

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I just wipped up some yummy white wine sangria that I wanted to share with you. I love these 1 quart Ball Mason jars from Hobby Lobby. They cost about $4 and they’re great for this recipe.

Make sure to make this 24 hours in advance so the fruit has time to mix in the wine. You can change the fruit out  to suit your tastes. You can’t really mess this up.

2 bottles semi-sweet or dry white wine

5 cherries chopped in half

1 peach chopped

12 strawberries

1/2 cup orangecello (lemoncello recipe in separate post)

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Refrigerate overnight. Add 1/4 cup sprite, ginger ale or club soda to each glass. It should be about 1 part sprite to 3 parts sangria. I wouldn’t suggest adding it to the full mixture since it will go flat. Enjoy!

Limoncello Recipe – Old School Italian

A couple of years ago, my husband and I wanted to make Limoncello. He is Italian and it’s quite a traditional drink. Me being not Italian enjoyed it as a martini mixer. Ladies, think Lemon Drop Martinis….yum! I looked online and found a lot of “quick recipes” for it that called for 5 days or less. And after lots of research on old school Italian methods we found the traditional method produced high quality Limoncello. We certainly have taste tasted it with friends who are not Italian and every one loves it!

imageThis batch called for 1.5L of Everclear and about 8-10 lemons, depending on size. Organic lemons are best because they don’t have that waxy pesticide yuck on the outside and since you’re only using the peel, you want the very best. I use a micrograter which I believe I got at Target. You only want to remove the yellow portion, NO WHITE. The more white you put in the more tart and bitter it becomes. Some recipes take a standard peeler and peel the rind off…no. You want smooth and delish and not bitter.

imageNow you’re going to take that micro grater and zest your little heart out.

imageIt should cure in a glass container. I use this one from Wal-Mart for about $6 and I usually tape the lid to give it a good seal. But you can use large Ball Mason Jars, which I’m now using. Now you let it sit for 45 days! Yes, 45 days! A lot of people don’t wait….I know your Momma told you that good things come to those who wait! So wait. It will be worth it.

In 45 days you’re going to strain it.

imageAnd you’re going to make a simple syrup. For 1.5L of Everclear I make 5 cups of water with 4 cups of sugar. You cook until the sugar is clear in the water.

imageAnd then I generally add it until I’m not feeling like I’m shooting out fire from my lungs. You want smooth. On this batch I added it all!

imageTaste testing is the fun part. You then bottle it and store it in the freezer for another 45 days, yes, another 45 days. I buy bottles from Ikea and Hobby Lobby and I’ve also found cute ones from Home Goods that are made in Italy. 1.5L makes 2.5 large bottles that can be mixed in martinis, lemonade, or straight.

imageThis is a great mixer. Some of my friends enjoy it just straight. I like it in martinis but I’ve also found it good in sangria. We are working on a batch of lime right now to try with margaritas. We have friends who literally request us making this. It’s fun making something that people enjoy and rave about. Old School Limoncello, love it!

Summer time means Sangria Time!

One of my summer pleasures is making a great sangria to sit outside on my deck after a long day in the sun, and just have a fire and drink with friends. I’ve made sangria for years and the recipe has changed but this really is the best of them all. Sangria typically calls for Grand Marnier but now I use a really great sweet Jamaican rum. So here’s my fool proof recipe:

3 bottles good red wine

750 ml sweet rum

Simple syrup (3 cups water and 1/2 cup sugar mixed well)

1 quart strawberries

2 peaches

2 cups cherries

2 limes

1 orange

My biggest piece of advice: be patient! Let it sit for a full 24 hours so everything can marinate. Then right before you serve it, pour 1 liter ginger ale and mix well. Serve and enjoy! Try it out. I know you’ll love it!

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Restoring an Old Steamer Trunk

In December I was doing a little antiquing with a friend when I stumbled on a really great find….an 1895 steamer trunk for $60. It was in really good condition. Most trunks you find have to have the canvas removed because it’s in such bad shape, which leads to many many hours of removal. This trunk’s canvas was in good condition and didn’t need to be removed. Now, I’m a huge fan of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and love doing something fun with antiques but I really wanted to stay true to this trunk. So if you’re looking for that look there are many other blogs about restoring with chalk paint. I just wanted to enhance its beauty to a more original state and not do anything that compromised its original look. It took me about 4 weeks to finish it. And here are some of my tips and tricks. Here is the BEFORE shot… imageThe first step was to remove all the old wallpaper that was on the inside. The old paper was making the inside smell terrible too. The wood underneath the paper was in beautiful condition. But this was the hardest part of the restoration. I don’t know how many hours I spent scrapping paper out of it. All you need is a water bottle and scraper. Spray the water, let it sit for about 30 seconds and then scrape. Sometimes you’re lucky and it’ll come off in big pieces but mainly its a lot of little pieces to remove. image image image imageI was lucky to not have to remove the canvas but there were some noticable rips on the inside lip. I used a razor and just trimmed it to give a more clean appearance. And then I was just going to stain that inside lip the same as the interior. imageimageimageNext I sanded all of the wood on the exterior of the trunk. It had some leftover varnish that I wanted to remove. I did not sand the interior since it was raw unstained wood and didn’t need it. Here are some pictures from that process. image imageI also spent some time gently sanding the lock on the trunk that had a pretty heavy covering  of rust. It’s an amazing old lock. One of the things I’d like to do later is get a key that fits it. There are several websites online that will sell you old keys. imageNext I used a black paint to paint the metal on the sides. It was pretty banged up and the new paint really helped. This top corner is with the paint versus the other portions you see. I tapped off so you didn’t get black on that beautiful wood. imageimageimageNext I took a black craft paint and a brush and basically “dry brushed” it onto the canvas. This trunk had white paints marks on it from someone storing it in a bad location. And the canvas was a little dull in color. I didn’t want to soak my brush in paint and apply, just a little bit on the brush and brushed, brushed and brushed. Just to give it an enhanced color. Here is a picture of one side dry brushed and the other not. You definitely see how it helps enhance the canvas without completely painting it. You can see from the tiny bottle of craft paint and how little I applied to my brush basically what I’m referring to by dry brushing. Make sure your exterior has been cleaned with hot soapy water before you do any painting to remove all dirt and debris. imageimageimageOne very common problem with trunk restoration is the leather handles are broken off. I mean it is 120 years old, those straps definitely had done all they could do! Lol! It’s very easy to order replacement handles online. I found mine for $15 for the pair and they’re real leather. You can research your trunk and find which handles are appropriate for yours since there are a lot of different style and color handles. imageimageNext thing was to stain the wood on the interior and exterior. I used a Minwax wood stain with varnish, all in one in a medium brown. I brushed and wiped. It took two coats. imageimageThis picture really shows the before and after on the exterior slates. The stain really made it beautiful. imageThe interior looks absolutely gorgeous! imageNow here’s a side-by-side of before and after. It makes me appreciate the hard work I did in scrapping off that old wallpaper.

One final touch I did was getting a stenciling kit and did the initials of me on one side and my husband on the other. I did not want it to appear perfect but like some old stamping. This piece was done to go in our bedroom to store extra blankets and bed linens. I’m really proud of how it came out. I definitely would like to do it again and maybe do something fun with chalk paint next time. trunk imageimage

DIY: Jeweled Heart on Canvas

My mother passed in July and I was left with more jewelry than I could ever possibly wear. There were a lot of costume brooches and several broken pieces of jewelry. So I decided to make a heart on canvas with them. It’s a special way to use some of the pieces of jewelry that I wouldn’t be able to wear and just stuck hidden in a drawer. It’s very simple.

You need the following:

8×10 canvas (or any size of your preference)

Lots of jewelry pieces.

needle nose pliers

Gorilla clear fast drying glue

imageNow you could use E6000 glue and I know that’s a preference for most crafters and I do like it a lot as well. But for this particular project, I like the clear Gorilla glue because it’s fast dryer and it really is able to handle holding up those heavy pieces of jewelry, and the last thing I want is pieces falling off over time.

I started by drawing a heart with a pencil. I used a necklace to create a clean line with the outer walls but you don’t have to do it like that. You can just use the jewelry to form the shape.

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Now place your larger pieces down first so that you can build around them with the smaller ones. I wanted the cross in the center so I placed that one first.

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It had a pin back AND a hook to wear it as a necklace, so I popped that off very easily with my pliers.

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Once I had my largest pieces arranged and used their natural curves to make the top of the heart then I placed smaller pieces. Some I broke down even more so I can use a single stone to fill in a void. I had a bracelet with my moms name, so I tore that up so I just had the name part and placed it within the heart. It really makes it super special having her name in it. I even tore up an old Brighton watch that she wore and just included the watch face.

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The finished product! Took a total of 45 minutes. Now I’m off to Hobby Lobby to get a really cool frame for it. I absolutely love it! You can easily recreate this with broken jewelry, jewelry from thrift stores, antique stores. It’s a cool way to make art.

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Review: Crumbs Bake Shop At Home Cupcake Mix

Are you ready for my scathing review of the Crumbs Bake Shop kit? Well here we go! Lol!

I was excited when I saw the Crumbs cupcake kit at my local Target a few months ago. I did do a little double take at the $10 price tag. Like, say whaaat? I thought “okay, so NO ONE is going to pay that price, I’ll wait till its got the red clearance sticker.” It never did get clearanced but they did lower the price point to $7.99. And since I wanted to make my son some cupcakes for his birthday before his big party he’ll have next weekend, I thought this was a good time to try it.

Now let me tell you, I am not a fan of boxed desserts. I think if you’re going to eat something high sugar, high fat, high calorie then at least let it be fresh and without all those preservatives. But some of them are not bad. It’s just I usually bake fresh. I do LOVE Crumbs Bake Shop. Every time I’m in NYC, I always take my kids there. Their cupcakes are seriously delicious and I’m glad to see after closing their doors that they’re reopening some of them again.

I went home to make it and realized very quickly that I was missing some ingredients. See, something important that’s missing…..oh that lovely little visual display of things you need to make this. So when I was in Target and looked, I just assumed it had all the basics which I already had in my kitchen. I do not, however, stock cream cheese unless I need it. So if you buy this, make sure to read through the first three things to check for items you may need.

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So I had to get back in the car and go back for cream cheese. These instructions are no joke. I thought they were, frankly, ridiculous. I just feel like if I do buy a box kit, isn’t it supposed to be easy? Quick?

So this is everything that the kit includes.

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So I mixed Pouch 1 – main mix – and it had sprinkles already in the mix and it came together well. It had a weird color and consistency though…like pudding. And notice it doesn’t say “fill up to 1/3 or 1/2”, just to fill equally. So then I had some that had more by the end and I was trying to even it up. Which was a pain. I also think there’s too much oil that the recipe calls for because there’s not a lot of mix for 2/3 cup of oil. Which would explain a problem I had later on….

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So the recipe calls to bake them for 17-18 minutes. I baked mine for 18 minutes and stuck the middle and it was clean. However, a couple had to be thrown away because while they cooled the middle collapsed in and felt squishy. So scrapped two at that point. I guess they needed longer. I would say at least 19 minutes, probably 20.

So next I made the first of two frostings. This is where I was annoyed. So the frosting mix is basically a bag of powdered sugar and you still have to cream butter and cream cheese. I wish I would have known that from the beginning. I’m starting to feel ripped off at this point in the process. I just spent $8 and then another $6 in butter and cream cheese. Why not just go to Crumbs and buy a damn cupcake?! Okay, I told you this was gonna be scathing. Lol!

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So I’m mixing my frosting together with the sugar it comes with and I decided to taste it to make sure it’s ok. I don’t know what it is but it’s soooo sweet. Too sweet. Sickly sweet. I even added a little extra butter and it didn’t improve much. I have a recipe for the most amazing cream cheese frosting that I should have made but I wanted to follow through with this nightmare and see it through. Lol

Until I got to the point where it said I had to scoop out the middle of the cupcake to put frosting in the middle. Look, the frosting is gross, so I don’t think I wanna add more into the center so I skipped that. Sorry!

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The instructions were not really clear on HOW to get that icing shape. So I ended up just winging it. I slathered it on the top and rolled the sides in a plate of sprinkles and that worked really easy. In fact, I would definitely do cupcakes like that again because it worked well.

But….here’s where the too much oil in the recipe came to play. My cupcakes started coming out of their liners just at the simplest of touches, worse when I had to frost them and apply sprinkles. I was practically holding it together to get those sprinkles on. All of their liners looked like this from the time I took them out of the muffin pan.

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Now, the second frosting packet. This is like the never ending cupcake recipe. So you have a second frosting bag that you’re supposed to mix with more butter and cream together. It was very firm and hard to mix, and once it starts mixing it reacts and turns yellow to create the rosette. In general, it stays a pretty stiff frosting.

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They include a pastry bag and say you apply the “rosettes” but frankly it’s just a little squeeze of some yellow frosting in the center. And the frosting is worse than the first in taste and texture.

So here is the final product.

Presentation: Not Bad…the cupcake liners are very cute and very iconic to Crumbs.

Time: Took me 1.5-2 hours to make these, not including the going to the store for more things.

Price: Horrible, especially considering all the butter and cream cheese on top of the high price.

Solution: Go to a good bakery and spend a little more. Take it home, sit down, put your feet up and have a glass of wine! But if you like the boxed sets and want the look of these, just get a box of the Funfetti that sells for like $1.20 and a tub of frosting and sprinkles. Total of that would be $5 and I bet it would be less stressful than this and you’d achieve a very similar look.

Happy Baking y’all! 🙂

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Lego Mini Fig Display

I have a 9 year old son that loves Legos. He loves the mini figs even more than the actual sets so he has tons of mini figs. In an effort to organize the chaos, I decided to try to make him a mini fig display. I tried looking on Pinterest and all I could find were shelves and I could see those easily coming down with the shut of a door. So on a recent trip to the Lego store I filled up a tub of 8 bricks in different colors to come up with our own and it’s pretty awesome! Now, of course he needs another since this one is filled!

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I filled up a tub of 8 point bricks at Lego store. It was $14.99 for the large size and I used about 3/4 of them. I alternated colors. The frame was something he used to have an old poster in and I took out. I glued the bricks right to the glass with a 99 cent tube of super glue in the dollar bin from Target. I used painters tape to keep me level. A small amount of glue across the brick locks it in place. I did leave a good amount of space between rows for things the mini fig was holding and your hand wouldn’t bump into the next row. I wanted to test the glues holding power before I posted about it. But one month later and nothing has fallen off. He uses it daily to take things off and put back as he plays. It’s a great organization, plus display for a boys rooms.