Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Blessed Christmas

To all my blog readers, I wish a most blessed Christmas.
Here's our family's virtual Christmas card to you!


Paris, April 2011

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Make your own See's Bordeaux


I think See's candy is the best. I've tasted Godiva, and a host of other contenders, but I have never tasted anything that I like better than See's. Maybe it's because I grew up on it, I don't know - but it's really special.

If you haven't been in a See's store, you haven't lived. It is just a great experience. The intense chocolate aroma. The pristine, almost sterile environment. The neatly stacked white boxes. The ladies (only women work at See's) in their starched white dresses that haven't changed since 1811. And of course, the free samples. YES, they still give free samples. And, P.S. did you know you can request what you would LIKE for your free sample? Contrary to popular belief, you are not bound to "the sample candy of the day" that the lady offers you. Just ask nicely, they'll give you whatever your heart desires.

Did that info just change your life?? It changed mine when I discovered it.

Anyways, See's rocks.

I love many things there. Rich loves their raspberry creams, but I'm partial to their Bordeaux bon bons. Whenever I get an assortment box, I go right for the Bordeaux. Mmm, they have such a yummy brown sugar buttercream center - they're the best!

I recently came across this "copycat" recipe for Bordeaux, and decided to give it a try. They couldn't have been easier - simple ingredients and method. Though the chocolate coating doesn't taste exactly like See's - it's about as close as you're going to get. You can use either milk or dark chocolate. See's makes both kinds. I used dark but I think I'll try milk next time, for a softer shell.

I was really impressed when I took my first bite. Rich tasted one and said "well, that works." These would be the perfect little holiday gift or addition to a cookie platter, or for any occasion, really. See's makes theirs with fine chocolate jimmies (sprinkles), but I made mine holiday festive with red and green. And as you can see, mine look nothing like See's but they taste very similar.

photo (3)

The funny thing about finding this recipe this week, is that my sister also found the exact same recipe recently and posted that she was about to try it on her blog!! How funny is that? One time, several years ago, we both bought a KitchenAid mixer - same model and color - on the same day from the same merchant, unbeknownst to the other. We had both wanted one for years too- how crazy is that?

from Taste of Home

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp instant coffee
pinch salt
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
12 oz dark or milk chocolate

Melt butter and brown sugar together in heavy pan. Bring to boil and boil for two minutes. Stir in cream, coffee, salt and bring to boil again. Stir constantly. Boil for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add sifted powdered sugar to mixture. Stir in well. Chill until mixture holds shape of a small ball. Roll into 2-inch balls. Melt chocolate according to pkg instructions. Dip candy balls into melted chocolate. Sprinkle with cake sprinkles, if desired. Makes approx. 30 bon bons.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WDW - Starbucks Gingerbread copycat recipe


Confession: Starbucks gingerbread is one of my most favorite holiday indulgences. I make sure to get at least one piece each season. It's so moist and spicy, and it's my triple-grande-decaf-nonfat-extra hot latte's best friend at this time of year. And if the bread wasn't enough ... the frosting and candied ginger - yum!

However, recently I discovered the ingredient list. Sigh. I highlighted the things that make my skin crawl in green.

sugar, enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), apple sauce (apples, water, ascorbic acid), cream cheese icing (sugar, cream cheese (pasteurized milk and cream, cheese cultures, salt, carob bean gum), palm oil, corn starch, dextrose, food starch-modified, propylene glycol, water, mono & diglycerides with citric acid as preservative, salt, maltodextrin, potassium sorbate (as preservative), polysorbate 60, natural flavor, soybean oil, invert sugar, citric acid, corn oil, beta carotene as color, alpha tocopherols as preservative), egg, unsalted butter (pasteurized cream), ginger (ginger, sugar), orange peel (orange peel, invert sugar, and citric acid), water, orange flavor (orange peel, sugar and orange oil), salt, baking soda, food starch - modified, spices, baking powder (cornstarch, bicarbonate of soda, sodium aluminum sulfate, acid phosphate of calcium), pan spray (soy lecithin, may contain canola oil, palm oil, soybean oil, natural flavor, mineral oil).

Propylene Glycol? As in the stuff in hand sanitizer? Yeah, so anyways, I'm never eating that again.

Thankfully there are copycat recipes out there. Ones you can actually comprehend the ingredients in - ha! I found this really yummy one, but I first tried to make it in a loaf pan when it called for an 8 x 8 square pan. (I keep forgetting that there are reasons why people say to do things a certain way in baking.) After baking, the loaf sunk in the middle and then broke into 10 pieces when I tried to remove it from the pan. I had wanted it to look like Starbucks loaf, but it really is best to make this recipe in the 8 x 8 shape for even cooking. I think it would work well in mini loaf pans as well (and wouldn't that just make a sweet little gift?) Oh, and don't worry, none of those 10 broken pieces went to waste. :-)

Anyways, this recipe is super moist and spicy. If you like gingerbread, you'll love this!

Starbucks Gingerbread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup white sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 cup applesauce

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon orange extract
chopped candied ginger

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F Grease and flour an 8 x 8 square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Dissolve baking soda into applesauce and mix into creamed butter. Add flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into a loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out just slightly sticky. (Be careful not to over bake, for this cake can dry out easily. Just remember that the toothpick shouldn't come out clean, but a little sticky).
  6. For the frosting, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Frost the cake when it is completely cooled. Decorate with chopped candied ginger. *Note: This recipe tastes best the next day.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Soap Sale!

UPDATE: The soap sale is now over - all bars are sold! I will be having another soap sale in a few months and maybe even a candle sale. :-) Stay tuned!

Note: I also sell soap in my Etsy store - see link on right. It's a bit more there because of Etsy fees. I will waive the shipping if you live local though!

Today is the day!

This year I have a limited supply of 9 different homemade soaps that I'm listing for sale, so get 'em while you can. I have indicated the quantity I have of each and I will try and update the number as they sell so you can see what is still available.
I am cutting my bars a bit larger and I'm now selling them for $3 each. I also made some sample packs just for fun. Each pack has 9 sample bars (1/2 size bars) - one of each kind - for $13.50. What a great way to try everything!

For those of you who may be new to the blog and the whole soap thing, here's the low down. I started making soap for our family a little over a year ago, because I couldn't justify buying this quality of soap at the store - so expensive! You might say I enjoy the challenge of figuring out ways to give my family quality items without spending a fortune. Now that I've learned soap, I usually make extra so I have plenty for gifts and some to offer to you, my blog readers. I'm not interested in having a business, I simply enjoy getting great soap into your hands at a reasonable price. So I've been offering it on the blog a few times a year.

My soaps are made from all natural emollients, essential oils, botanicals, and colorants. They contain no harsh detergents, no artificial anything, and are gentle and moisturizing to your skin. I used to think I had dry skin, but come to find out the soap I was using was just making my skin dry. My soap is like moisturizing lotion yet lathers well just like a commercial soap. It doesn't give that "tight" feel that comes from detergents. I make my soap by the cold process method in small batches, I cut it by hand, and I cure it for at l
east 4 weeks to ensure hardness. You should know that homemade soap is softer than commercial soap, so be sure to let your bar air dry after use (don't let it sit in a sudsy puddle). I have two types of soaps - both are all vegetable oils soaps but one has the addition of moisturizing goat's milk.

All soaps (except kitchen soaps) are perfect all-body soaps, yet I have also indicated which ones are especially good for the complexion. The kitchen soap gently exfoliates and removes food odors, including stubborn garlic and onions, from your hands.

If you don't live local, I am willing to ship. I can send 4 bars anywhere in the U.S. for $5.20 (USPS priority small flat rate box) and beyond that I'd have to calculate the weight and get you a price. I accept PayPal.

Well, I guess that about covers it. Take a look, and if anything tickles your fancy, shoot me an email at

$3.00 each


Oatmeal Lavender

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, goat's milk, oats, lavender essential oil, alkanet powder (for color).

Quantity: 10 SOLD OUT


Green Clay, Clary Sage & Lemon

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, goat's milk, French
green clay, clary sage essential oil, lemon essential oil, dried sage leaves.

*great for complexion



Peppermint Swirl

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, goat's milk, peppermint essential oil, rose clay.

Quantity: 6 SOLD OUT


Grapefruit Ginger

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, goat's milk, fresh grated ginger, powdered ginger, pink grapefruit essential oil, rose clay.
*great for complexion

Quantity: 10 SOLD OUT

$3.00 each


Cinnamon Latte Kitchen Hand Soap

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground coffee beans, cinnamon essential oil, ground cinnamon.

Quantity: 10 SOLD OUT


Orange, Spice & Calendula

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, calendula petals, orange essential oil, cinnamon essential oil.
*great for complexion

Quantity: 10 SOLD OUT


Rosemary Lemon

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, lemon essential oil, rosemary leaves, annatto seed (infused into oil for color).

Quantity: 10 SOLD OUT


Oatmeal Citrus

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, oats, lemon essential oil, orange essential oil, key lime essential oil, annatto seed (infused into oil for color).

Quantity: 10 SOLD OUT


Key Lime

Ingredients: Saponified olive oil, saponified organic palm oil, saponified coconut oil, key lime essential oil, fresh lime zest.

Quantity: 10 SOLD OUT



$13.50 for 9 half-sized bars (one of each kind listed above)

Quantity: 11 SOLD OUT

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