Monthly Archives: October 2011
Last month, my sister asked me to help her out by making something for her school’s bake sale. She’s a teacher, and busy, so I was pleased to do it. I wanted to make something that would sell well, but wasn’t just your run of the mill baked goodie. And NO WAY was I making something from a box! I decided to go with Peanut Butter Cup brownies…everybody loves brownies, and peanut butter cups along with them just makes them that much better!
Cream your softened butter and sugar until fluffy, like so:
Then beat in the eggs (one by one) and vanilla. I know 4 eggs sounds like a lot, but this is for a 9 x 13 pan of brownies, and believe me, the texture is to die for.
Next it’s time to gradually add in the cocoa powder…
and the flour.
Beat until the batter is fully combined and smooth.
Now you’re ready to pour it into your greased baking dish. Let me stop right here and say that this brownie batter, just the plain batter, is probably the best I’ve ever had. You could bake these brownies plain and they’d be delicious. But I went ahead and added the peanut butter cups! I cut up 8 full size peanut butter cups. Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan, smooth it, and then add the chopped peanut butter cups.
Then top this with the other half of the batter, and smooth it out.
If you left them like this, they’d hold a yummy surprise inside! But since I was making them for a bake sale, I wanted to make sure everyone knew what they contained. So when they came out of the oven, I took 8 whole peanut butter cups, and slightly pressed them into the top of the brownies. Not too hard, but far enough down so the heat of the fresh out of the oven brownies melts the chocolate of the peanut butter cups.
I cut these up into squares, and my sis told me they sold out, and were raved about!
This brownie recipe is so yummy and versatile, you can do this with any candy! If you don’t like peanut butter, try this recipe with Rolos, Milky Way, Snickers–or a mix of candy! Perfect for an after Halloween treat :)
The Best Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
8 chopped peanut butter cups
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 baking dish. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla. Gradually add cocoa powder, then flour, until totally combined and batter is smooth. Pour half of batter into prepared dish, then sprinkle evenly with chopped candy. Spread the rest of brownie batter on top. Bake approximately 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. While brownies are still hot, press whole peanut butter cups evenly into the surface of brownies.
OhSoySweet is a darling little Etsy shop that makes handmade, handpainted sachets, potpourri, and of course tarts. But where the owner’s (a sweet lady named Jennifer) creativity really shines is in the scent combinations she comes up with and puts into wax form. Sweet Cherry Mint Zinger, Honey Spearmint Tea, and Tomato Leaf Herb Garden are just a few of the unique scents OhSoySweet has to offer. The tops of the little tarts are adorably decorated to correspond with their scents.
Jennifer has been making tarts for about a year, so she’s still pretty new compared to some other tried and true tart vendors. But she is full of ideas and inspiration! I was very pleased to be able to get the chance to review of some OhSoySweet’s tarts.
Jennifer is so nice, she even sent me a bag of her potpourri and a one-of-a-kind fragrance sachet. The potpourri was scented in Eucalyptus Sweet Mint. Eucalyptus just happens to be one of my favorite scents–it is soothing to me. I decided to put it in a glass bowl in my bathroom, so I could smell it while I showered. It scented my bathroom, and then some! The sachet was large, and scented in Orange Cream Cupcake. I put it in my walk in closet!
Look at how gorgeous these tarts are!
Now, normally I am very wary of melting any tarts with “stuff” on them–sugar, sprinkles, glitter, etc. I use a higher wattage bulb in my warmers, and sugar sprinkles have caramelized in the bottom of my bowl before. Luckily that did not happen with any of these tarts! I always pour my wax out of the bowl while it’s still liquid, and everything these tarts were topped with came sliding right out with the melted wax.
As the name implies, OhSoySweet’s tarts are 100% soy. Here’s the details on the tarts themselves!
Crisp Cucumber Mint–This was a light, spa type scent. I mostly smelled the mint but there were some green watery notes there too, from the cucumber.
Blueberry Butterscotch Brulee–For being such a small tart, this was pretty strong! Blueberry is the top note, which is usually the case with any blueberry blend, but under that you get a caramelized butter scent too. I really liked this.
Christmas Candy Cane–Peppermint or candy cane is always one of my top fragrances any time of year. The cold throw on this tart was promising, but when I melted it, I got mostly menthol notes. Maybe a little more cure time would have done this one good?
Dulce de Leche Caramel Cheesecake–This was not a knockout strong scent, but I could still smell it from across the room. This is a very sweet caramel with a milky background.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie–I wasn’t really expecting to like this tart too much, but I did! This was a weird tart in that I could barely smell it when I was close to it, but from the next room it was stronger. This is a fresh, not too sweet strawberry. The combination of the rhubarb gives this tart an earthy note, which I surprisingly liked.
Jennifer has let me know that she does plan to open a non-Etsy, independent storefront sometime in the future. Also, keep your eyes peeled for upcoming holiday items and sales from her shop!
I do. I don’t think anyone knows about it except my husband. But lately I feel like it has been getting worse and worse and I don’t know what to do about it.
It started a couple of years ago. I was shopping in a grocery store, which have hard concrete floors of course. I was wearing flip flops, and slipped in a puddle that was on the floor. I fell on my back and my butt, HARD…onto the concrete. I had x-rays done and everything. They only showed a hairline fracture in the coccyx.
It actually took a couple of months before my back REALLY started hurting. I fell in April, and starting going to physical therapy in July. I went for about a month, and then stopped because my back pain was much better, almost nonexistent. However, in the last few months, it has returned and is worse than ever before.
Every morning when I wake up, my back is SO stiff, and it hurts to get out of bed. Every night when I go to bed, I lay on the heating pad for a while, but it only makes my back feel better while I am still laying on it. I can’t lay on the heating pad all day though–I stay home with my son and I’ve gotta get up and be with him. I am determined to stay away from prescription painkillers if at all possible. So I’ve tried ibuprofen, aleve, tylenol, excedrin, et cetera. Nothing helps.
Of course some days are worse than others–when we go somewhere and are walking all day long, by the end of the night my back hurts so bad I can hardly move. I am glad my son is now 3, because it means much less picking him up, and I know that was not helping the situation. But I know that I am not being the best possible mom I can be because of the pain I am in, and I feel horrible about it.
I’m only 26 years old and I feel like it will only get worse as I get older. I really don’t want that to happen! So I’d love any advice anyone can offer me! We do have insurance, but I don’t think we can really afford for me to go back to physical therapy every week–and I think it would also be a temporary solution. I have also thought about going to a chiropractor–but the pain is in my lower back soft tissue, not in my spine, and isn’t that what chiropractors deal with? Maybe I should start exercising more but I am not sure if the pain would get worse or better. I’m at a loss.
I’d really love to hear from anyone else who suffers from chronic pain of any kind. How do you deal with it? We all just want to feel well. :)
Sweet Light Candle Co. is a company based out of Florida that makes unbelievably realistic dessert candles and melts. The shop also offers dessert shaped soaps, tealight candles, and tart burners.
When I first visited the site, I saw these unique, looks too real to be wax, cannoli shaped tarts!
In addition to making me hungry, they made me want to give Sweet Light Candle Co. a try. The owner, Dina, sent me a selection of products to review.
I received a Cinnamon Bun candle, a Pumpkin Spice Muffin Candle, Gumdrop Mini Cupcake Melts, and Wild Strawberry Melts.
The first thing I noticed about these items was that the attention to detail in these products is second to none. These are beautiful wax pieces.
This is another one of those vendors whose products are so gorgeous, you don’t want to use them! But the cold sniff was pretty good on each item, and I knew I had to go ahead and melt all this lovely wax for review purposes ;)
Pumpkin Spice Muffin Candle–Looks just like a huge pumpkin muffins still in its’ wrapper. You can clearly see the ruffles of the cupcake liner and everything :)
This candle was lovely and had a good cold throw, but its’ throw when melting was quite light. I could smell it when I got within about 3 feet of it. I melted this on the plate all day, about 10 hours, and it still had some wax left to burn the next day.
Gumdrop Mini Cupcake Melts–These are so adorable, and the “frosting” on them is hand sculpted. They are a nice size, over an ounce each. It seemed one melt took a little longer than usual to fully liquefy in my melter. Sweet Light Candle Co. wax is a blend of paraffin and vegetable waxes, so I’m not sure why that was so. To me, this gumdrop melt smelled like sweet grape candy. The throw was not knockout strong, it was more light to medium. But the scent lasted for hours.
Cinnamon Bun Candle–There’s not many foods I love more than a warm from the oven cinnamon roll covered in dripping frosting. This candle definitely smelled and looked like the real thing. The cinnamon bun candle was quite a bit smaller than the muffin candle, so it melted for a shorter time. But I got a bit more throw out of this one than I did the larger candle. Not a room filling scent, but pleasant nonetheless.
Wild Strawberry Melts–These are teeny tiny enough that I put 6 into my melter.
These were my favorite item out of all that I tested. The throw was medium, not overwhelming but I could smell it from quite a distance. The fragrance is sweet, sugary fresh strawberry. I let these melt for about 6 hours before I threw out the wax. I think adding more strawberries to the dish would give a better, longer lasting throw!
Sweet Light Candle Co. is worth a try if you are someone who likes your candles to look as realistic as possible! I know some people like to purchase candles as decor, and these would be perfect for that. If you want something that smells as good as it looks, go for the melts they offer. SLCC has an affiliate program, and also loves to do wholesale orders!
Sweet Light Candle Co. Website
If you guys were reading the blog earlier in the month, then you’ll remember that Shayz Scentz is the October featured vendor. Shannette sent me some of her newest Fall and holiday tart shapes and fragrances to share with my readers!
Some of the Fall and Winter fragrances at Shayz Scentz are Dickens Christmas, Pumpkin Zucchini Bread, Cornbread, and Minty Mints. A couple of great Fall scents I have tried are Gingersnap and Spicy Cornbread.
Gingersnap is a very strong gingery, spicy scent. If you’re looking for a sweet cookie fragrance, this is not for you! I’d recommend it for true Gingersnap lovers who want to be reminded of their favorite snack.
Spicy Cornbread is so very unique. I’m really not even sure how to describe it. It was buttery but not sweet, spicy but not cinnamon-y at all. It threw strongly for more than 12 hours! I really loved it.
I want you guys to love Shayz Scentz as much as I do! That’s why I’m giving away some of these awesome Fall goodies to one of my lucky readers! This is what you’ll get:
A huge football tart and Jack o’ Lantern tart both in Pumpkin Pie Spice, a big leaf tart in Pomegranate, and 2 little gingerbread guys in Cinnamon Raisin Bread! You’ll also get a Shayz Scentz magnet to remind you who your favorite vendor is :)
Here’s how to enter:
1. Comment on this post and tell me which shape you like best. (Mandatory)
2. Like the Shayz Scentz Facebook page and make a post saying I sent you.
3. Like the Sweet Southern Home Facebook page and post that you’re entering the contest!
4. Follow this blog through Networked Blogs or email. Both links are located on the left sidebar.
And that’s it! Please leave a comment for each separate entry, with your email. Giveaway ends on 10/31/11, winner will be picked November 1! Good luck :)
My post today is about two awesome bath and body vendors I’ve lately received products from! Both of these ladies have their products listed on artisan websites (Artfire and Etsy), which are always great sources for finding unique products that are made with love.
The first shop I want to spotlight is Whipped Up Wonderful, run by the sweet Alexis. Whipped Up Wonderful sells beautifully creative soaps and bath bombs. When you receive one of Alexis’ items, it’s hard to actually open it and use it because it’s so pretty!
See what I mean? Everything in Alexis’ shop is that beautiful! I had a coupon from completing a survey for WuW, and I decided to use it to purchase a Pumpkin Pie bath bomb. The turn around time was wonderful, and I had received my item in less than a week. Alexis does a great job of packaging her orders beautifully.
First of all, this thing is huge! It’s probably supposed to be used for one bath, but my tub is small so I kinda broke/crumbled it in half so that I could use it twice. It was enough to lightly tint my water and give a good scent! This tart smelled slightly cinnamony/spicy, but there was a smokiness I couldn’t put my finger on, that was kind of overwhelming. I did like how the bath bomb made my skin feel soft and smooth! I’d be open to trying another of Whipped Up Wonderful’s bath bombs :)
Another shop whose great items I’ve gotten to try is Simply Sweet Skin. This Artfire shop is full of all kinds of goodies such as bar soap, sugar scrub, facial masks, and body spray. Check these out:
You are pretty much guaranteed to find something you like in Cat’s shop! I was lucky enough to win a set of Coffee Sugar Scrub and Whipped Coffee Body Frosting from a giveaway.
I love that both of these little jars were shrink wrapped. This makes it impossible for the jars to come open in the mail and spill all over the inside of the package! The only thing I didn’t love was that when I opened the package and took out the contents, sequins came pouring out. They were very cute sequins, I just wasn’t expecting them and they spilled all over the floor. LOL :D
When I used this scrub, I was happy to find out that a little goes a long way. Yes, there is actual coffee in it. The coffee smell is very strong in this scrub–it’d be great to use in the morning to give yourself a pick me up!
The lotion–sorry, body frosting. I. LOVE. THIS. The scent was not overwhelming, and the formula was thick without being too greasy. My skin felt fabulous for the rest of the night. And just like the scrub, a little goes a long way. I will definitely be hoarding this lotion for a while!
I have been a little stressed lately and I’m finding out more and more that it’s important to take a minute to pamper yourself. With the wide variety of yummy bath items available from these two ladies, taking care of yourself is easy and fun!
Crosscreek Country Candles has been in business for ten years, and is based out of Ohio. The owner, Deana, is such a sweet and funny lady and she just makes you love talking with her!
Crosscreek offers wax tarts in hundreds of awesome fragrances, with some of the most delicious original scent creations I’ve seen from a vendor. You can tell Deana really loves mixing fragrances and coming up with something new. The tarts come in cups, scallops, and adorable prim and bakery shapes.
I had been hearing so much about this company and couldn’t wait to try some tarts. Deana was pleased to send me some for review :)
I knew I had to try one of the cute Halloween shapes! The jack o’ lanterns are quite large, just a bit larger than the bottom of my melting bowl. Crosscreek tarts are made of a paraffin blend. The colors were muted and not too bright. The boldest color was in the red tart I received, and happily it did not leave residue or a stain when I wiped it out of my bowl, as some red wax can do. The tarts were neatly packaged and the labels are simple and neat.
Lemme tell you guys how difficult it was to choose only six scents to review!!! Crosscreek has some of the yummiest bakery combinations I’ve ever heard of. Apple Buttered Zucchini Bread, Frosted Pumpkin Cupcakes, and Lemon Noel Cookies are some I’m gonna have to go back for. These are what I chose to review:
Citrus Cream–So when I started melting this tart, I was in my living room doing something or other. I didn’t really notice the scent. But I walked out of the room and came back in–WOW! It hit me pretty good. LOL. This tart made it smell like my whole house had been freshly mopped. It is a nice, clean, lemon with a zesty hint of lime.
Rainforest–This was on the lighter side for me. I smelled something powdery in this, which I don’t love, but it wasn’t a strong baby powder type note. I think it came from the floral note. There was also a combination of water and musk I detected.
Zucchini Cupcake–My FAVORITE from this selection of tarts. I wish I could tell you guys how yummy this was…I feel my description won’t do it justice. The main fragrance is a STRONG zucchini bread, but it’s the buttery, sweet ZB that I love…it’s not spicy at all. Under the zucchini bread you can pick up the sweet, vanilla, cupcake notes. This was delicious and threw forever. I need more!!!
Christmas Kitchen–A unique holiday scent! Many of my faves are rolled up into this tart. The top note is sweet sugar cookie, then you smell this subtle pine, and hints of peppermint. I wish the peppermint was a little stronger in this one, but I enjoyed this scent. The sugar cookie part was one of the best I’ve smelled…and sugar cookie is a hard scent to get right. It made me want to try her other sugar cookie blends.
Happy Halloween Cake–Another great bakery combo! This scent is a perfect mix of candy corn, marshmallow, and vanilla pound cake. You can really smell all three fragrances almost equally! This is actually one of the first candy corn scents I’ve tried where I could actually smell the candy corn.
Jack’s Gone Cranberry–A blend of Jack Frost and cranberry. The cranberry is the stronger scent, and it’s a good one–it’s not overly spicy or overly tart. The main note I pick up from the Jack Frost side is menthol, it’s light there under the cranberry. Strong throw, and lasted a while too.
I will definitely go back to Crosscreek Country Candles to get some more bakery blends–I think that’s what Deana’s best at! In my opinion, the tarts are a good value too–$8.50 for a 10 scallop sampler pack is nice. Go on over to Crosscreek and check out her awesome tarts, if you haven’t already!!
Have I told you how much we’re loving our slow cooker lately? The funny thing is, it’s gotten more use in the past few weeks than it has in the past few years. One of the best things about making food in the slow cooker, is that many of the recipes are so easy, they will even make your husband like to cook! My husband made this recipe recently, and he also took the pictures–so forgive us if they’re not perfect :)
Seriously, you only need to go to the store for 3 things…which you may have already. Two boxes of Au Gratin potatoes mix, an 8 ounce package of diced or cubed ham, and a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup.
Spray the inside of your slow cooker pot with non-stick spray. Put both packs of dried potatoes and both seasoning packets into the slow cooker.
Then add the ham on top of that.
In a large bowl, mix the can of cheddar soup with 3 cups of water. Add about 3/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and any other spices you may want to throw in. I added a dash of Italian seasoning. You could also add garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley….
Stir until the soup thins out.
Then pour the mixture on top of the contents of the slow cooker. Do not mix!
You can then cook on low heat for approximately 7 hours, or cook on high for about 3 1/2 hours. I think our slow cooker runs a little hotter, as ours was cooked and golden brown on top after only 2 1/2 hours on high. You want the potatoes to be soft and the top to be golden brown and crispy :)
Hubs didn’t take a pic of the entire completed pot, but he did take one of his bowl…
The pic doesn’t make it look too appetizing, but it was! Serve with a side of green beans :)
As with most slow cooker recipes, this was a little high in sodium, so if you can find the ingredients in low sodium varieties, I would definitely recommend getting those. Our whole pot got eaten!
Easy Slow Cooker Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
2 packages au gratin potato mix
8 ounce package diced or cubed ham
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
3 cups water
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Any other seasonings, to taste (Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, garlic, etc.)
Coat slow cooker pot with non-stick spray. Place dry au gratin potato mixes and seasoning packets into pot. Add ham on top of potatoes. In large bowl, stir 3 cups water with cheddar soup until soup is thinned out. Add black pepper, and other seasonings as desired. Pour soup mixture over other ingredients in crock pot. DO NOT STIR.
Place lid on and cook on low approximately 7 hours, or on high approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until potatoes are soft and top is golden brown and crispy.
LoLe’s Giggles is a new tart vendor that I was recently intrigued to come across. I had seen Lisa Marie’s page around Facebook before–but I thought she made cute girl items like tutus and bows. Well it turns out, she does–and now she’s making tarts too!
Lisa Marie is a work at home stepmom of 2, and has recently discovered her passion for making tarts. Lisa Marie’s products are all paraffin, which I love. I was more than happy to give my thoughts on a selection of her items. :)
First of all, I love the presentation of the individual tarts like this. As a buyer, a pet peeve of mine is getting a cello package that is tied tightly with ribbon that has to be cut off and then cannot be replaced. It is a hassle when you just want to open the tarts to sniff them! These tarts were tied with pieces of dual toned, sturdy cloth string. The strings were not tied in a knot and this made it very easy to open a bag, sniff, and retie the string.
I also think the labels are adorable and girly. The label design is colorful, clean and modern.
My tarts came in a few different shapes, but my fave was the large cube. It’s about one and a half times larger than a Scentsy cube. The pumpkin was cute too.
If you look closely at the blue sun in the left of the photo, you can see pink sprinkles in it. The colors were vibrant without being too bright–have you ever gotten a neon tart that left a stain in your melting bowl after it was poured out? It’s a pain.
One unique thing about these tarts is that they are almost translucent looking. I had never seen this before. I think most tarts now are a parasoy blend, which makes for creamy wax. This effect in these tarts was very cool…it made the cubes kinda look like ice cubes.
My thoughts on the scents I tried:
Apple Cider Latte–Mmm, this was yummy. Good throw. Top note of spicy fall apples with a strong cinnamon. The coffee was very, very light in the background.
Blue Watermelon–This was unusual…it was definitely a fruity melon mix, but I’m not sure I smelled something I definitely recognized as watermelon in there. I’m not sure what the fragrance oil description is, so maybe it’s a blend of melons. Medium throw.
Coconut Lime Verbena–Wow, this scent was soooooo authentic. Coconut Lime Verbena is a Bath & Body Works scent, if you didn’t know that, and this tart smelled JUST LIKE the B&BW real thing. Gave a great throw for hours. Top note is lime, with a creamy coconut background and fresh verbena.
Pink Sugar–I am a pink sugar lover, so I was loving the cold throw on this tart. But when I melted it, it was very very light. Not sure what happened, but I wish this was stronger..the cold sniff had so much promise! :)
Country Berry Hotcakes–O.M.G. I need A LOT MORE of this scent ASAP!! This was definitely the best, strongest pancake scent I have ever tried. It may me one of my new fave scents, period! One cube of this was whole house strong. This scent is a sweet, buttery pancake, with blueberries and maybe strawberry? I’m not sure, but it is AWESOME.
Warm Vanilla Sugar–Another B&BW dupe, but this tart was not as good as the Coconut Lime Verbena. I got very little throw out of it–but that seems to happen to me with almost every vanilla scent.
Pumpkin Ice Cream–Very nice scent for fall if you don’t like getting hit in the face with all kinds of strong cinnamon. This is a cinnamon pumpkin scent, but it is smoothed out by creamy vanilla. It was strong, though!
So, overall I liked 5 out of 7 tarts I tried from LoLe’s Giggles. That’s a pretty good ratio! I would not hesitate to try Lisa Marie’s tarts again. I will DEFINITELY be getting some more of that Country Berry Hotcakes! The scent list at LoLe’s Giggles is not huge, but she is working on adding more, and what she does have so far is pretty good! You can buy tarts directly from her on the Facebook page, or her etsy shop. If I were you, I’d go check her out :)
LoLe’s Giggles Facebook Page
LoLe’s Giggles Etsy Page
The featured October vendor is….SHAYZ SCENTZ!
Shayz Scentz is definitely in my top 5 wax vendors! The company is owned by Shannette Simon, and you couldn’t ask for a better person. In addition to offering impeccable customer service, Shayz has some of the best tarts around. Some of my fave scents are Lemon Drop, Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes, and Crystal Light Zucchini Lemonade. Every scent is so strong and long lasting, you really can’t go wrong no matter what scent you choose.
Here are a few of the items Shayz offers:
Aren’t those adorable and perfect for Halloween? Shayz also has regular container candles and many more tart shapes, as well as tart cups.
Even in the midst of a sale, Shannette’s TAT is one of the best–I don’t think I’ve ever had to wait more than 10 days for an order. There are always freebies too :)
The thing I love most about Shayz is that there are sales so often! In fact, she is running a sale RIGHT NOW!! Go over and check it out! BOGO on many items, and FREE SHIPPING on orders over $20!!
PS–I may have some info on a new contest soon–featuring Shayz Scentz products! Stay tuned!! ;)