Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easy Easter Sorbet

I have a love-hate relationship with candy.  I mean, I love it; I just hate what it does to the body and the time one must spend on the treadmill to erase it.   So with Easter right around the corner, I decided to come up with a fun and simple Easter themed treat that mitigates the food guilt but satisfies the sweet tooth.  The ingredients cost under $5 for 8-10 Easter egg sized servings so it is affordable for every budget.  Sorbet served in an Easter egg ups the ante on hostess creativity, 'Hippity Hoppity Easter's On It's way!'

Easter Egg Sorbet!
I started with large Easter eggs purchased from a local discount store.  One dozen costs under $1.  I'm obsessed with the vibrant colors after a cold, dreary winter.

Who doesn't love Easter eggs?
The ingredients are simple.  One 12 ounce package of frozen berries.  You have choices here.  I used raspberries, but strawberries or blueberries would also be delicious.  There are also choices as far as sugar content.  You may use one cup of sugar OR one banana and 1/2 cup of sugar.  One cup of water and one lime will round out your ingredient list.

Begin by zesting the lime.  I like the tart flavor, so I used most of the lime.  You need at least two teaspoons but the rest is up to you.  

Zest the lime first
I also squeezed a bit of the lime for good measure.

Juice the lime onto the lime zest
Combine the sugar and water in a pot and heat until sugar dissolves in the water.  Gently heat this so it won't boil and burn your skin.

Dissolve sugar in water
Once sugar is dissolved, combine all ingredients into pot.  The berries will thaw in the warm water.  Stir well.

And the Pot thickens...
Pour the contents of the pot into a food processor or blender.  Wear an apron, I splattered red raspberry juice dots on my shirt.  It was a problem.

Into the blender, goes the mixture
Pulse the mixture until well blended.  It will be a bit runny when it is ready to pour.

Pulse the blender
Pour the liquid sorbet into a freezer safe pan.  Cover and place in freezer.

Ready to freeze
Freeze for an hour or so until just set.  It doesn't need to be frozen solid.  At this point, remove from freezer and re-blend or stir very quickly to incorporate air into the icy sorbet.  Then place pan back in freezer for another hard freeze.  Usually this takes at least four hours.  If you make ahead, freeze it overnight.

Stir or Re-blend 
When you are ready to serve, spoon sorbet into open Easter egg halves.  Eating from a toy egg makes the serving all the more fun!

Spoon into Easter Egg halves
The final product will make any hostess the belle of the Easter Parade!


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Exquisite Invitation Creation: How To Craft the Perfect Would You

Anyone planning a party, wedding, bar mitzvah, or shower knows there are too many invitation choices.  I mean literally thousands of color, pattern, paper, or print styles to choose from.  Your budget can range from reasonably inexpensive to mortgage level spending depending on what you select.  It gets exhausting, especially since invitations are usually the first item to pick in the planning stages.  I would've done better planning my wedding with a strong sedative or maybe a borderline alcohol dependence.  That subject is probably another blog post in itself...I wanted a specific invitation but I did not want to spend what it cost to have it made.  By making the invitation myself, I spent less than $2 each including postage.  Here is the process, feel free to comment and let me know what you think!

My wedding invitation
I started with my wedding concept which was rustic elegance.  We were married in the Appalachian mountains and we incorporated nature and rustic wooden items throughout the wedding.  To add a keepsake on the invitation for our guests, I created a wooden medallion that was also a magnet.  I purchased 1" wooden discs from a wood crafters website for 7 cents each.  The discs were drilled with two holes toward one edge.

Drill two holes in the wooden disc
I wanted the discs to look worn and old.  My dad burned the outside of them with a torch.  It is much easier if you hold one stack of them while singeing them.  You may use a lighter also but a butane lighter works best.  Be extra careful if you do this because you can really burn your fingers!

Singe edges - be careful not to burn yourself!
 Next I wrote the date of my wedding on each disc in pencil.

Write your message with a pencil
I purchased a wood burning tool from Walmart for $10.  This takes a little practice to master, so you may want to try on some old pieces of wood before using it to craft letters.

Wood Burning Tool - it also gets HOT!
 Then I traced the numbers with the wood burning tool.  Be sure to put something like cardboard underneath the disc to protect the work space.  It gets hot as you are burning it and can heat up the surface you are working on.  I'm not going to lie and say this is easy.  It took me a long time to do one for every invitation, but the result was what I wanted.

 The discs were finished with a piece of magnetic tape on the back.  You may purchase the tape from any craft store.  I bought mine from Michaels with a 40% off coupon.  It ended up costing about $3 for a ten foot roll.  There will be extra left over...

Materials to make the magnet
 I used twine to thread through the two holes and tie the invitation shut.

Cut pieces of twine ahead of time for speed
I purchased invitation paper from  You may find them here.  This particular card is the brown signature pocket envelope.  They were 69 cents each.

Brown Signature Pocket Envelope
It has an inner pocket inside to store the invitation inserts for RSVP cards and event information.  

The open envelope
I purchased three sizes of paper to fit the envelope.  One for the invitation itself, one for the insert, and one for the RSVP card.  I decided to save money by printing the RSVP card as a post card so it wouldn't need an additional envelope and the postage costs less.  The three sizes of paper cost $5 for packages of 25 each.  If you are going to print them yourself, get a paper with no grain.  The textured paper does not print properly in a laser printer.  Been there, done that.  The non-textured paper costs less also.

Three paper sizes
I printed the invitations using a font that I thought was beautiful.  It looked exactly like handwriting.  There were even places at the end of letters where the ink trailed off so it looked like it was written with a pen.  They were printed on a laser printer.  You will need to purchase glue dots from a discount or craft store to affix the paper to the envelope.  

Glue dots make life easier
Glue invitations to the envelope.  The glue dots are super easy and the paper sticks very well without lumps underneath.

Lining up the paper
I used a piece of vellum in the envelopes to help keep the ink from smearing.  You may also use onion paper.  My father is an engineer so he keeps vellum handy and I cut mine to size from large sheets.  Wax paper from the supermarket will also work, cut it to just shorter than your largest paper size.

 Place the vellum over the main invitation and the event inserts in the pocket.  I printed a list of wedding activities, directions, lodging information, and area attractions for our guests.  I also put a stamp on the RSVP card to encourage everyone to RSVP.  Most of your guests will RSVP, but the ones that don't, #extremestress.  Moving on...

Almost ready
I purchased envelopes also from Cards and Pockets in another color that was used in the wedding.  I wanted to set the tone in the invitation by using the colors and textures that would be in the wedding so everything would tie together nicely.

Mailing envelopes
 Once the invitations are completed, the package looks like this -

The completed project
 Tie everything together and go to the post office!

The invitation!

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Going to the Chapel

I haven't been a great blogger this week because I have been preparing for my wedding.  Today is the day.  I'll fill in the details next week.  Wish me luck!


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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

And the Winner Is....

The winner of the Scents for No Cents Candle Warmer and Candle Set is Effortless and Exquisite reader!  Candle Warmer Etc and City Creek Candles are the sponsors of Scents for No Cents and are giving our winner one Aurora Candle Warmer from Candle Warmers Etc and one candle from City Creek Candles.  Hooray!  Thanks to everyone that participated.  We look forward to partnering with both companies in the fall for another awesome giveaway!

Scents for No Cents!
If you are littlemermaidsmom@hotmail, please email me so that I may send your candle set to you.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Live Like That

Sometimes I think What will people say of me
When I'm only just a memory
When I'm home where my soul belongs
Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us

A Mantra

A very important person in my community died last night.  He was a pillar person.  He was one of those people in your life that set the bar for living; a pillar of strength, integrity, character - a pillar person.  My community will be forever changed by his absence.  It is fitting that the night is dark and rain is expected.  It's that type of weather that you just stare out the window in a trance brought on by the rhythm of the rain.  I know that everyone dies.  It is a very real, albeit difficult part of life.  You just don't expect it.  Even if the person is sick, really, really sick; it is impossible to actually expect it.  I am one of those hold out all hope until the last breath kind of people.  You never know.  I like denial.  It is easier for me to pretend than face reality.  I always liked The Neighborhood of Make Believe.  King Friday and Prince Tuesday were logical to me.  It is sad Fred Rogers is dead.

My granddad took his last breath as I held his hand.  It was almost eight years ago but it feels like yesterday.  Every time someone dies I think immediately of that minute.  It was more like two days for him, that's probably why it was so traumatic.  I was the hope holder, and watching certain death unfold right before me was hard to reconcile in my mind.  I like the movies with the happy endings.  If the ending is tragic, I get really upset with the director and think he's stupid.  It is probably childish.

I promised myself that I would be honest in my blog - not every single day is roses and candy.  It is really bizarre that the happiest days of my life with the wedding are coming very quickly and yet this death is so heavy.  Life is a lesson in contradictions.  

In order to honor the man that made such an impact on countless lives, I'll leave you with a video.  The song says, "Was I love, when no one else would show up...".  Dale Thompson was love, when no one else did show up.  Dale was the one quietly doing the jobs that no one else wanted to do.  He never asked for recognition and he never asked for praise.  He was an exceedingly intelligent man with strong convictions and superb character.  Dale and Nancy showed love to the least of us and lived their lives as an example to others.  They were humble, hard working, kind, and giving.  May I live like that.  May our lives be lived with so much grace and love that upon our deaths others will speak about us like Dale and Nancy.  May we live like that.       


Song and Lyrics courtesy of Sidewalk Prophets by David Frey, Ben McDonald, and Ben Glover.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Effortless Fashion for Under Twenty Dollars

I'm planning a wedding and weddings are expensive (and stressful, and time consuming, and too many choices...) oops I digress.  My point is that spending money for new clothes has been low on the priority list.  I must admit that I do love a new catalog in the mail thus I'm obsessed with three items right now.  They're all under $ 20.00 so nobody breaks the bank.  My choices reflect the need for winter to end and the simultaneous need for "comfort clothes" in the wake of my nuptial madness.  Let's begin.

I'm glad that winter is basically over.  For those of us living in the mountains, it maybe isn't completely over until May - but you never know.  In hopes of spring, I chose a pleated skirt in a bright pink for the season.  I usually don't like pleats, I think they make me look wide in the hips.  This skirt is not as full and hugs the hips for a silhouette that makes me not have to wear the "wide load" sign along with the skirt.  It retails for $ 14.95 and you may find it here.

Ready for Spring!

I am a fan of cardigans.  I would wear one everyday if it wasn't weird.  There is an old cardigan that I'm not ready to part with that is so comfortable I wear it to sleep sometimes.  I call it my bedtime cardigan, don't judge me.  They are versatile and excellent cover ups for fat days.  Cardigans over skinny jeans with great shoes are extremely chic.  Zara is one of my favorite stores, like in the world.  The garments are well made and well priced.  This cardigan happens to be on sale, you should check it out.  I love that it is light weight enough for the topsy turvy weather we're experiencing.  The weight is perfect for those, 'I need a light weight jacket nights, but not a bulky coat that will ruin my outfit.'  It is on sale right now for $ 16.99 so you can purchase it in three colors here.  

Comfy and Cozy

Finally I give you another one of my favorite brands, Boden.  Boden is a British brand that sells extremely well made clothes for men, women, and kids.  I like Boden because I can also wear the teen girl sizes and they cost less than the women's sizes.  Boden clothing is timeless and classic.  The clearance items are amazing and I love this shirt because I love their cotton.  The weight is perfect and it lasts FOREVER.  I like this particular shirt because it adds a bit of a twist, literally, to the usual cotton shirt.  I also like blue.  It retails right now for $ 16.20 which is a steal, buy one here.

Boden Emma Top
Happy Shopping and don't forget to sign up for the giveaway!  Enter Scents for No Cents for a chance to win a candle warmer and candle set from Candle Warmers Etc!  Read all about it here.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Scents for No Cents Giveaway: Win a Candle Warmer and Candle Set

I'm EXCITED to announce this week's giveaway courtesy of Candle Warmers Etc and City Creek Candles.  We are giving away one Aurora Candle Warming Lamp along with one (huge) candle from City Creek Candles to match the warmer!  Candle warmers are the latest rage in home decor.  Candle Warmers Etc has tons of decorative warmers to choose from so there is something for all tastes to complement your home.  I'm obsessed with the Aurora warmer.  It looks great with my entry room decor and is a fragrant way to greet guests.  The scent selection from City Creek Candles varies too, I'm a super fan!

Aurora Candle Warmer with After the Rain Candle
I have to be honest, I didn't know what a candle warmer was until I received my package in the mail.  Let's face it, candles are dangerous.  The open flame coupled with a careless roommate or cat (or both) can create a serious situation in a hurry.  It is a little alarming how many fires are started inadvertently with unattended or forgotten candles.  Scary stuff!  So Candle Warmers Etc came up with these crafty gadgets to circumvent the danger with an adorable lamp that gently heats the candle wax.  I was skeptical that it would even heat the wax, but it does in just a few minutes and the scent is just like a candle without the smoke.  It is genius.  Also, the wax is warm, but not scalding - another safety plus.

Assembling the Candle Warmer
I don't like to assemble things.  Those pesky little pieces and the confusing directions are a huge turn-off.  When I opened the Aurora Box, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy things go together.  It is a minute, literally, to put the bulb and cover on and tighten everything up.  The Aurora Candle Warmer looks like an antique lamp.  I call the finish Oil Rubbed Bronze.  It matches the door and cabinet handles in my home.  You could probably use it for a small lamp without the candle, but you would miss out on the delightful smells!  

Aurora Candle Warmer with Ginger Peach Tea Candle
The Candle Warmer can be used with any City Creek Candles.  These candles are huge.  I didn't realize how heavy they were going to be.  The candles are meant to last for a very long time.  They come with double wicks, so you may burn them, but I think the warmer will prolong the life.  It is just my opinion, but the warmer I tried melted the wax very slowly.

I tested three candle scents.  Two were in the warmer, Ginger Peach Tea and After the Rain; and one in a stand alone vase called Serene Woods.  The Ginger Peach Tea was my favorite.  It is a spice-ish candle with just the right amount of peach for spring.  My house smelled airy and light and wasn't perfumy or overwhelming. After the Rain was a more fragrant candle.  It smells like clean laundry or long shower with scented soap.  I liked it, but Ginger Peach is my "cup of tea."  My favorite thing about the warmer is the lamp-like quality.  It gives just the right amount of light for a warm glow in the room without being too bright.  I think the warmer is the perfect get-ready-for-bed and relax tool.

After the Rain, Serene Woods, and Ginger Peach Tea Candle
Another surprise in my goodie box was a beautiful candle called Serene Woods by City Creek Candles from the Heritage Collection, Regal Vase Line.  The candle comes in a pottery type clay vase that is an olive green patina style.  I'm obsessed, I love it.  The candle itself smells like a combination of spice, woodsy pine, and a little citrus.  It is fresh and not too heavy.  Did I say, I.....LOVE.....IT.  It fits perfectly in my living room and blends with a neutral palate.  It is so decorative that once the candle is gone, it would be a great flower pot or small container.  I tried it in several places in my home, the mantel, the bookshelf, and the kitchen and it was a beautiful accent piece in each place.

Serene Woods Candle
Overall, I'm so excited I have these products in my home.  I love the idea of the candle warmer and the candles are an added bonus.  The Scents for No Cents Giveaway winners will be chosen on Tuesday, April 8th.  Remember, you must be a registered follower (sign up with your email address on the top right of our home page) to win.  Winners will be chosen from everyone that is registered.  Tell us your favorite candle scent below to get this giveaway started! 

To learn more about Candle Warmers Etc and City Creek Candles check out their websites or find them on Facebook here and here.  You may follow on Twitter @candlewarmeretc and on Instagram @candlewarmers!  You must check out the product selection - but watch out, there are so many beautiful choices, you may find it really hard to make a decision on the scent, the warmer, the combo - you get my point.  Have fun and remember to follow this blog for a chance to win.  Good Luck!!    

Ginger Peach Tea

After the Rain

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