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STYLiNG | Hot Cocoa Bar

Monday, December 31

Happy New Year's Eve!!

How about putting together a very simple "Dessert Bar" of sorts...
just in time for your New Year's Eve festivities...


A Few Toppings...

Some Drinking Mugs or Paper Cups
(optional items shown here: striped straws, mini wooden spoons and min wooden scoops)

This printable Chalkboard Art Print

and you and your guests will be enjoying one of these in no time.

One of the great things about a Hot Cocoa Bar is

SHARE | Hot Cocoa Bar Chalkboard Art Print

Sunday, December 30

I NEVER post on Sundays...
but today I'm making an exception.
I got a lot of feedback on Facebook and Instagram yesterday...
when I posted about having paid under $3.00 to print a 24x36 of this...

Baby It's Cold Outside • Hot Cocoa Bar Edition

You may recognize this art print from a couple of weeks ago...
the FREE Holiday Chalkboard Art Prints I shared with you.

I updated this one to incorporate it into the interactive Hot Cocoa Bar I've created in my home.

I'll be posting the rest of the details of the Hot Cocoa Bar tomorrow...
but TODAY...
I wanted to

EMPOWER | 2013 Action Word

Friday, December 28

Hello sweet friends!!
I hope you enjoyed the Holidays with your friends and family.

I didn't intentionally take the week off...
it just sort of happened. *wink*
And I've definitely enjoyed the downtime.

The quiet time has also allowed me to focus on some goals I'd like to achieve in the new year...
which has given way to selecting this...

My "ACTION WORD" for 2013...

So what is an "Action Word"?
It should be...

iNSPiRE | FREE Chalkboard Fonts + Holiday Art Prints

Friday, December 21

Four days until Christmas arrives...
My heart is full of gratitude for so many things.

Today, I'm especially grateful for each of you!
I'd love to leave you with a small gift as we head into the weekend...

Holiday Chalkboard Art Prints
Download the FREE 8x10 "Baby It's Cold Outside" .pdf file HERE

Click the "READ MORE" button for the rest of the details...

SHARE | Thirsty Thursday • Chalkboard Art

Thursday, December 20



defined as a day to...

share something...

that makes my mouth water...

quenches my creative tastebuds...

satisfies my thirst for inspiration...

or leaves me "creatively parched"
and ultimately wanting for more...

You've seen it...
I know you have!
The craze that touches on every facet of gorgeous typography...
through the magnificence of hand-lettering...

source: Chris Yoon


REFLECT | Sandy Hook Elementary

Monday, December 17

I'm so torn today.
Somehow a normal blog post just doesn't seem appropriate.
I've shed so many tears this weekend...along with the rest of the world...
over the heart-wrenching atrocities that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary.

When people say "There are no words"...
there really aren't for something like this.
There. just. aren't.

At the same time...
even though I don't feel a normal blog post will suffice today...
I also think of how important it is to resume normal routines...
in order to help with the healing process.

Is this easy?
Definitely not.
I find it can be one of the hardest things...
as well as one of the easiest things we can do...
after experiencing tragedy or loss.

It's one of the hardest things because going about our normal routines feels absolutely incongruous.
It's one of the easiest things because we can choose to turn on autopilot - naturally/eventually bringing about a sense of

The resumption of everyday life is absolutely essential.
And although it FEELS like we are being asked to forget...
or it FEELS like we are being forced to "move on"...
It actually means we are pushing beyond the loss...
beyond the unspeakable pain...
reaching towards hope...
searching for peace...
while simultaneously remembering, reflecting, and coping...
which altogether leads to healing.

Tomorrow I will likely choose to get back to regular blog posts.

Today, however...
instead of pulling the covers over my head and continuing to be lost in the sadness of it all...
I'm at least opting for auto-pilot...
by posting something.
even if it's just my thoughts today.
Most importantly...
I'm sharing the names of those who lost their lives...

My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with
the mothers...
first responders...
school officials...
and the community of Newtown.

To all of my friends here...
I encourage you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment- if you feel inspired to do so.
Sending you sincere hugs!!

I've been especially patient, affectionate and loving towards my children ever since the dreadful news broke.
It's amazing how tragedies like this cause the big things to suddenly become little...
and the little things to become tremendously big.
I'm so grateful for the shift in perspective.

COMiNG UP | Hot Cocoa Bar + The TomKat Studio

Friday, December 14

Visions of a hot cocoa bar have been dancing in my head.
So when I received the things I ordered from The TomKat Studio earlier this week...
my excitement to bring it all to life is overshadowing just about everything else on my To Do List.

Everything matches perfectly with my new holiday color scheme...
don't you agree?
And besides that...just look at how adorable the items are...


SUGAR | Mini Chocolate Truffles

Wednesday, December 12

Inspired by Carrie's recipe last week from the Bloggers + Bakers Holiday Cookie Exchange...
I created my own version of her Chocolate Truffle Mini Tarts...

Mini Chocolate Truffles

These are such a terrific holiday treat...
for Cookie Exchanges, Holiday Parties and Holiday Gift-Giving:
Here's why:
• They are super easy.
• They are absolutely DELiSH!
• They are "Mini" sized
• They allow for creativity

 Endless topping choices/combinations...

Once you've created the base/foundation for the Mini Chocolate Truffles...
Top them with what you know the receiver of these little morsels will love.
Or do a combination of them all for an office party or holiday party to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth.

I first made these for a Neighborhood Christmas Party this past weekend.
I filled the cups with 1 TBSP of melted chocolate and used a paintbrush to bring the chocolate up to the very edge of the cups. I then filled the cup with a chocolate ganache and topped them with crushed candy cane.
They were AMAZiNG and I had many of my neighbors raving about them.

they were QUiTE rich.
You could really only eat one and that's about all you could handle - seriously.
My chocolate-loving daughters could only eat 1/2 of theirs.

for the version I'm sharing today...
I decided to simplify and downsize a bit.

I created a base of chocolate using only 1 teaspoon or so of melted dark chocolate.
I skipped the paintbrush technique to save time. 
Yes...they are prettier and more "finished" by creating a full chocolate shell...but I find it's really not necessary because the taste is what will be remembered most - and besides - it saves you a lot of valuable time.
I allowed them to cool in the refrigerator.
Topped them with chocolate ganache - avoiding filling the entire cup.
Topped with toppings and threw them back in the fridge. Done!


Step One: Fill cups with melted dark chocolate. Cool in refrigerator for 10 minutes while making chocolate ganache.
Step Two: Top with chocolate ganache. Tap on counter to settle, if necessary.
Step Three: Add toppings of choice and refrigerate until ready to serve.

So if you are ready to whip up your own...
here's the recipe for my version:

12 oz. Dark Chocolate

8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 TBSP. light corn syrup

3 TBSP. unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

Crushed Candy Cane
Mini Chocolate Chips
Chopped Peanuts
Chopped Dried Cranberries
Mini M&M's
Crushed Oreo Cookies
Chopped Pistachios
Toffee Bits

Fill the cavities of a mini cupcake pan with baking cups. Set aside.
Melt dark chocolate until creamy and smooth using either a double boiler or microwave.
Using a spoon, place approximately 1 teaspoon (or more) of melted chocolate into prepared mini baking cups.
Tap pan to help settle chocolate, if necessary.
Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes while chopping toppings and preparing chocolate ganache.

Place the chopped chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a small bowl. Set Aside.
Heat the cream on a stove top just until it begins to boil.  
Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, corn syrup & butter. Let stand for 1 minute, then stir until smooth.  
Remove mini cupcake pan from refrigerator.
Using a spoon, pour ganache on top of chilled dark chocolate cups.
Sprinkle toppings on top.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

No baking required.

These are a bit addicting.
I want to try adding the toppings in between the chocolate layers too!
I'd also like to drizzle a little salted caramel in between the layers of chocolate and then add some to the top too.

I hope you'll try these out!
If you do, leave a comment or email me at: pnpflowers AT live DOT com
Thanks again for the inspiration Carrie!!

Hugs to each of you!

Clara put lights on our tree. 
I put lights on my little pencil tree in my office.
Neither trees have ornaments unless you count the one pom pom and one tassel on my pencil tree?

I removed the lights on my pencil tree to add them to an outside tree.
While putting the lights on the tree outside...
I got caught in the rain.
It wasn't thundering so I decided to continue stringing the lights on.
I ended up getting shocked about 5 times and so, feeling defeated (and a bit strange)...decided to come inside.
The outside tree is only 1/2 way done.
Considering moving the tree from the living room into my office so I have a tree in the window at the front of our home.
But that means forgoing my grand plans of adding fabulous decorations to my little pencil tree.

J had the day off so we did something SUPER fun.
We both had our blood drawn for overdue lab tests. Ha!
On our way out the door to our appointments...
I quickly grabbed a grapevine wreath that was hanging in my dining room to test it out on one of my exterior lanterns.
My outside Holiday decor now consists of:
One grapevine wreath hanging from one of the 5 exterior lights...
Two grapevine wreaths on my front doors. 
Lights on the bushes...
and a 1/2 lit landscape tree.

Tuesday evening, a sore throat came on just before Ema's Christmas Concert.
I've got another Christmas Concert on Thursday night for Clara.

Not a lick of Christmas shopping done yet.

With that said...
I will continue to light Holiday candles...
burn Cranberry Chutney wax melts...
boil Simmering Holiday Potpourri...
and listen to Christmas music to fend off any "Bah Humbug" feelings that may be trying to ruin my Holidays!
How about you?!

BAKiNG | Mason Jar Lid Cookies

Monday, December 10

this was NOT my own creative idea.
I happened upon it while reading comments on another site
in my search for the Dorie Greenspan cookie recipe I shared with you.

this was such a clever concept...
I couldn't wait to try it out...


Yes...that's right.
Using the band of a mason jar lid...
You've got yourself an instant alternative for baking with ring molds.
Ring molds are what Dorie Greenspan uses to bake her infamous French Sablés Jammers...
the cookies/recipe I shared with you last week for the Bloggers + Bakers Holiday Cookie Exchange.

Here's how it works...
After you've got your mason jar bands lined up on your cookie sheet...
simply press a portion of the Jammer cookie dough into the center of a band
until the edges of the dough meet all sides of the band.

Place a spoonful of jam into the center of the dough.
Sprinkle streusel around the jam.

My brilliant idea:
Use a small cookie cutter to place around your jam as you spoon on the streusel.
This makes it super easy to avoid getting the streusel into your jam center.

Bake as directed.

Once the cookies are a golden brown...
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

My brilliant tip/technique for removing cookies from cookie sheet:
Press down and twist on the mason jar band - just as you would to open/close a jar.
This not only loosens the cookie from the baking sheet...
but it also breaks the seal between the cookie and the mason jar band.

Lift band/cookie from the baking sheet.
From the bottom of the mason jar band...
use your fingers to GENTLY push up on the cookie...
completely releasing it from the band.

Allow to cool completely. 
Store in airtight container 2-3 days.

Pretty cool, right?
I know I was intrigued...
I hope you were too.

And as always...
if you try this out - I'd LOVE to hear about your results.
Just leave a comment
or if you'd like to share photos, send them to: pnpflowers AT live DOT com

My weekend? A bit hectic.
Christmas Tree hunting on Saturday with the family.
Put up 2 Christmas Trees (lights only right now).
Put lights on our bushes. (that only took about 30 minutes).
J's company Holiday Party Saturday night.
Neighborhood Christmas Party/Cookie Exchange Sunday afternoon.
Christmas Concert Sunday night.

Both treats were a big hit with everyone.

iNSPiRE | Bloggers + Bakers Holiday Cookie Exchange

Wednesday, December 5

If you are hungry for some inspiration...
in the form of cookie recipes + fabulous creative packaging ideas...
I've got a surprise for you today that will surely feed you!

Some amazing Blogging + Baking friends have come together...
in the midst of this bustling, crazy, hectic holiday season...
to take the time to swap recipes and fun packaging ideas for gift giving.

Our hopes are to inspire one another...
and essentially to inspire all of YOU!!

So without further ado...
Here is my personal contribution...
for the 2012 Bloggers + Bakers Holiday Cookie Exchange...

French Sablés • Classic Jammers
recipe from Dorie Greenspan | Beurre and Sel

Seriously the most amazing cookie I've ever made - or tasted! It is absolutely delicious.

Beverage Coasters
Silver ones I found at an antique store or Martha Stewart scalloped paper coasters

Coasters are perfect for creating a beautiful foundation for stacking these fabulous cookies...
or any cookies for that matter.
They add a beautiful finishing touch to otherwise basic packaging.

Simply wrap your stacked cookies in saran to maintain freshness...
Stack on coaster of choice...
finish by wrapping with ribbon.

French Sablés • Classic Jammers
my personal notes/suggestions/experience are referenced in red

Cookie Dough
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Streusel and Assembly
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 1/2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
                Using room temp butter will not produce results you need! Trust me!! 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup thick jam, such as lingonberry, apricot, orange marmalade, and blackberry
Special equipment
A 2-inch cookie cutter; 3 standard 12-cup muffin tins
I used mason jar rings for baking instead.  They worked beautifully. GO HERE for the How-To

Cookie Dough
Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
                Add both sugars and salt; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; beat in egg yolks and
                vanilla. Add flour and mix just to combine. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
Divide dough in half. Place each half between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Flatten dough into disks.
                Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough, occasionally lifting paper on both sides for easy rolling, until 1/4
                inches thick. Freeze dough in paper until firm, at least 2 hours.
                DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep frozen. 
Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub butter and vanilla into dry
                ingredients until no large lumps remain and butter is well incorporated. Streusel will be sandy and hold its
                shape when pressed between your fingers. Cover and chill.
                I really took my time and enjoyed the process of hand-mixing. It was a bit therapeutic.
                DO AHEAD: Streusel can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. 
Using cookie cutter, cut out rounds of frozen dough from freezer. Place rounds in bottom of muffin cups and
                gently pat to flatten. Continue cutting frozen dough into rounds; gather scraps and repeat process of rolling out
                and cutting to make 34 rounds. Cover muffin tins with foil and chill in freezer until dough is firm, about 30
                minutes or up to 2 days.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon jam into the center of each round of dough. Using your fingers or a small spoon,
                sprinkle 1-1 1/2 tablespoons streusel around edges of each cookie, trying not to get any in the jam. 
Bake cookies, in batches if needed, until sides and streusel are golden, 20-22 minutes.
                Mine baked for 25 minutes and I still think I should've let them get a little more golden.
                Let cool in tins for 15 minutes. Run a small knife around edges of muffin cups; gently remove cookies
                and let cool completely on a wire rack.
                DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Be sure to visit the blogs for each of these lovely ladies to preview their contributions for the Cookie Exchange this year:

I'd like to personally thank all of the sweet friends who participated.
It's an exceptionally busy time of year...
which is why I sincerely appreciate the time to you took to help make this happen.
Thank You.

And thanks to all of you for being here...
Here's to a fabulous Holiday Season for all of us!

Pink Paper Coasters - Martha Stewart Vintage Girl Collection

BEHiND the SCENES | Amazing Cake + Crafting + Surprises

Tuesday, December 4

Hello friends.
I was without internet all weekend due to some construction in our neighborhood *frown*
So I was busy all day yesterday trying to catch up on orders, etc.

Still playing catch-up today...
and wanted to share with you a few things that have been going on behind the scenes...


It was J's birthday weekend...
so along with a wonderful dinner with friends Friday night...
I also made him his requested "Birthday Dinner" on Sunday with family - Lasagna
and his requested "Birthday Dessert"...German Chocolate Cake.

I'm not a huge fan of German Chocolate cake...
However, it's not MY birthday, so it doesn't really matter.
With this being one of J's favorite cakes...
I knew it had to impress.
I did a quick search online for "The Best German Chocolate Cake"...
and stumbled upon David Lebovitz's recipe spotted on Annie's Eats.
It is amazing.
I cannot begin to tell you how fabulously delicious this cake turned out to be.
In. LOVE with the chocolate ganache-like frosting. That was my favorite part. YUM!!

Because the cake wasn't ready until after dinner Sunday night...
I didn't photograph the cake in it's entirety.
I don't like taking photos at night...indoors...using harsh light.

After everyone devoured it...
I barely had a nice wedge to photograph the next day.

Caution: Baking this cake is not for the faint-of-heart. Be sure to read the "minor issues" portion of 
Annie's post to avoid some pitfalls - especially in regards to the frosting. I decided to make the frosting first
so it could be chilling the entire time I was making/cooling the cake. It was perfect by the time I was ready to frost.
However, it warms quickly so I was racing against the clock to get it completely frosted before it started drooping.
Keep refrigerated.

Oversized print I had made of his favorite Grandmother, standing with J's grandfather.
This is gigantic and has great impact! I LOVE it! We'll be framing it out and adding more of these!!

You won't believe what I've been doing with these!! 

A couple of fun crafting projects I've been working and re-working...

Part of another fun project I'll be revealing soon...

I hope I've caught your interest!

There's even MORE fun to share with you:
Click on the link above for details as well as to see the ADORABLE snowman cookies I want to recreate!!

A fun Holiday Surprise you won't want to miss tomorrow!!

I should really invest in a mounted flash...
I mean I can't continue to schedule events based on lighting conditions...
just so I can get great photos...
can I?
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