Monday, May 28, 2012

Music Monday: Happy Birthday by New Kids on the Block

Today's my birthday! The wonderful 27... What better song to feature on Music Monday than "Happy Birthday."  But this isn't just any old rendition of Happy Birthday... this is by one of my childhood favorites The New Kids on the Block! When I was about 5 or 6, I loved NKOTB.  I remember having a lunch box, rain coat, umbrella and bed sheets that were NKOTB.  

So, Happy Birthday to me! 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Favorites: Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte

New little series here on the blog... and this one will be more regular, since I've already scheduled posts for the next 10 weeks! I started making a list of some of my favorite things, and I decided that every week, I'll share one of them with you.  This will be a very random list, comprised of many different things.  Hope you will enjoy learning about some of my favorite things.

The other day when I was cleaning out my purse, I found 3 Starbucks gift cards, totaling around $25.  I'm not one of those people who has to have Starbucks everyday... my trips are very sporadic.  I'm not a huge coffee drinker period.  When I do have coffee, I usually go for something iced.  When I drink something hot from Starbucks, it is usually their Caramel Apple Spice.

Well, wanting to not let those gift cards go to waste, I stopped by Starbucks on my way to school one morning and saw the Cinnamon Dolce Latte on their menu.  I love all things cinnamon, so I decided to give it a try... It was SO good!  I've since used up most of my gift cards, going almost daily.  Not good for my diet, but they are awesome.

Since I've had so many lately, the Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte has definitely earned its way onto my list of Favorite things!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Winner! Bitty Bug Designs Giveaway

Thank you so much to everyone that entered the Bitty Bug Designs Giveaway! I hope that all of you loved Kimberly's designs and will remember her the next time that you have a baby gift to purchase that you will keep  her growing shop in mind.

Without further ado, here is the winner of the Giveaway for an $18 store credit.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations Vicki!  Check your email for how to get your prize!  Thanks again to everyone who entered! More giveaways coming soon!

PS... If you do Giveaways on your blog, I highly recommend using Rafflecopter.  I've used it on other blogs to enter giveaways, and it was super simple (I thought you all felt the same way...).  This was my first time using it to run a giveaway and it was SO easy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recipe 4/10: Banoffee Danger Pie

I made this dessert a long time ago, but I'm just getting around to blogging about it.  I first saw Banoffee Pie on Pinterest, and the recipe looked easy enough, so I decided to give it a go.  Since I'm a visual person, I also decided to take pictures of each step for this blog post.  I made the dessert at my mom's house, and my dad said, "I've never seen anybody take pictures of boiling water"... he thinks I'm weird...

Seriously, y'all, this is so good! And super easy... and I took the long way.  There are several shortcuts that you can take to make this even more simple.

3 bananas
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (don't get evaporated milk)
2 cups of Whipping Cream
1 package of Graham Crackers
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Flavoring
1 small chocolate bar


1. This step takes the longest time, but it can be done well in advance.  Remove the label from the can of condensed mill and submerge it in water.  Boil the can for 2.5 hours.  Make sure that it is covered with water at all times!  This is making dulce de leche, which is kind of like a caramel sauce.  After it has boiled for 2.5 hours, allow time for it to cool before you open the can. I boiled 2 cans this time, so I have a can left over to use later.
See... the picture of boiling water... you can see the cans in there. 

2. Break up the Graham Crackers and grind them up.  You want them to be very fine, so using a food processor works best.  I used my Tupperware Quick Chef Pro
Break up the crackers...
Then grind them fine. 

3. Melt the stick of butter and add it to the graham crackers.  Mix until you have a moist mixture. 
Add the melted butter. 
Moist mixture

4. Smooth out the graham cracker/butter mixture in a pie dish.  (The trick to this is to use the bottom of a cup to press it down.)  Then bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. 
Graham cracker crust. 

5.  Slice Bananas and layer over cooled graham cracker crust.  They don't have to be exact, but you don't want them to be really uneven, so even them out as much as possible. 

Banana layer

6. Pour the dulce de leche over the bananas and smooth it out.  You may have to stir the dulce de leche in the can to mix it a little before pouring. 
Pour over the bananas. 

7. Mix the whipped cream.  I used my Tupperware Whip N' Prep Chef to make the whipped cream.  One thing that I did add to it was powdered sugar.  The recipe said only to add the vanilla, but I thought it needed to be sweeter.  You can add the sugar to your taste. 
Whip the cream

8. Cover the pie with the cream.  I put it on thick.  After this, you may want to refrigerate it for a while, just to let everything settle. 
Cream on top.

9. Using a grater or microplane, shave chocolate on top of the chilled pie. 
Chocolate shavings on top.

10. Slice and enjoy... and try not to eat the whole thing. If you're nice, share with others! 

Want the abbreviated version?  Here's how you can make the same dessert in about 5 minutes.  I haven't done it this way, so I don't know if it is as good... but in a pinch you can really save some time. 

1. Buy Dulce De Leche from the store. 
2. Buy a Graham Cracker Pie Crust from the store. 
3. Layer bananas in the pie crust. 
4. Cover with store bought dulce de leche. 
5. Buy Whipped Cream from store. 
6. Cover pie with whipped cream. Let sit.
7. Shave chocolate on top. 

This was seriously so good.  Store the leftovers (if there is any) in the fridge... its good the next day too! I was wondering why the word "Danger" was in the name of the dessert, but now I know... its so good, its dangerous, because you might eat it all yourself! Now, I think I'll use that 2nd can of dulce de leche I made and make this again soon! 

PS: Don't forget to enter the Bitty Bug Designs Giveaway

Monday, May 14, 2012

Giveaway: Bitty Bug Designs

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time (or even if you have just taken a look around) you will know that I am surrounded by babies and pregnant women.  It seems as if my family adds 3 babies every 2 years.  Since Parker's 2nd birthday is coming up, its almost time for a new "crop" of little ones.  This summer between June and August, 3 little girls will be welcomed into our family!  My friend (who is actually my step-cousin, now... long story) is expecting her 3rd daughter in mid-June.  She has twin girls who will be 2 on June 13.  My first cousin Megan is expecting her first child in late June/early July, and my sister is due mid August! Needless to say, it is going to be a BUSY summer, and I will need lots of baby gifts...

Enter... Bitty Bug Designs.  This is a brand new shop that Kimberly of 'A Little Bit of This' is opening.  Kimberly is also expecting... her 2nd daughter is due this summer.  During her 2nd pregnancy, she has transitioned into a stay at home mom, and has decided that she wants to be a "greener" mom.  She decided that she is going to cloth diaper and started making her own cloth wipes.  From there, she decided to add a few more items to her product line and to sell them at very reasonable prices.  What's even better is that her stuff is super cute!

For example... how cute is this receiving blanket?

... and these burp cloths? 

Here's an example of the cloth wipes... 

I'm loving the damask print on this baby sling... 

Bitty Bug Designs is still in its infancy, but it is going to be growing a lot this week.  Kimberly will be adding new items and new fabrics to the shop. What's also great is that she has items that are ready to ship, or items can be made to order for no additional cost.  Just contact her and she will work with you to make sure that you get what you are looking for!

So what's in this for you?  Well, I'm glad you asked... I am excited and honored to host the first ever Bitty Bug Designs Blog Giveaway!

Bitty Bug Designs Giveaway
The Prize: A store credit in the amount of $18.  You can use this credit on up to 2 items.  If you choose to purchase an item over $18, you will be invoiced for the difference.  You can choose to use the credit on in stock items or made to order items.  

How to Enter: I am using Rafflecopter for this giveaway.  There are 2 mandatory requirements.  You MUST Like Bitty Bug Designs on Facebook, and you MUST leave a comment on this blog post telling me your favorite item in the shop so far.   Please make sure that you comment in the Disqus box so that your comment will show up on the blog.  Somehow, comments are going around the Disqus box and aren't showing on the blog, but on my blogger dashboard... There are several optional things that you can do to obtain additional entries. All of those are explained in the Rafflecopter widget below.  Note, you can tweet once per day for additional entries. 

Other Details: Giveaway ends at 12:01am EST on Monday, May 21, 2012.  A winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email.  Winner has 48 hours to claim prize.  If prize is not claimed in that time frame, another winner will be chosen.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sugar and Spice Baby Shower

In April, I hosted another baby shower.  My first cousin, Megan is expecting her first child in July, and its a girl!  I was excited the plan a girly baby shower.  Megan's said that she wanted a pink and brown color scheme, with polka dots.  I could easily incorporate those into the theme that I chose... Sugar and Spice and everything nice!

Of course, I started with the invitation, which I designed:

From there, everything was pretty much designed around the invitation.  I found a lot of ideas on Pinterest, and created a pin board for my favorite Sugar and Spice pins.  

The centerpieces on the tables were a "sugar cube" with a lollipop made from baby wash cloths and a baby fork and a little spice jar.  You know that I like to decorate at baby showers with things that the mom to be can use once the baby arrives.  This is usually my gift to the mom and baby, and it keeps me from having a lot of left over decorations.  We used white table cloths, brown organza overlays and a receiving blanket in the color scheme on each table. 

The centerpiece of the food table was a diaper cake that I made.  It contained 281 diapers and stood almost 3 feet tall.  It also had more washcloth lollipops. 

Megan gave a very specific list of items that she wanted to have on the menu. So we went with that.  I categorized the food into sweet and savory categories, and labeled them on the buffet table with "Sugar" or "Spice" tent cards.  A lot of the blog posts about baby showers that I've seen don't list the menu, so I've decided to include the menu here. Yes, it was an extensive menu.  Lots of food! 
Cake Squares
Oreo Truffles
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Lady Fingers

Savory or "Spice"
Chicken Salad
Cocktail Wieners
Boneless BBQ Wings
Sausage Balls

We also served Pink Lemonade punch. 

We had a lot of help with the food!  Once again, my awesome cake lady did a fantastic job on the cake squares.  And how cute is that carriage of fruit that my aunt put together?!

I had a lot of help with the little details.My mom did more bootie portion cups, and they were so cute!  I love how these booties look, and I haven't been able to find a tutorial for them online anywhere, so I will work on making one soon.  They are very simple, but a little time consuming when you are making 100! 

One of my favorite parts of the shower was the milk and cookies bar.  I had never seen this done, but it came up over and over in my Pinterest search.  I decided to do it before we had such a large menu, but after I mentioned it, there was no going back.  We chose cookies that were sweet and spicy to feature.  Also, Megan's stepmom had a ton of Girl Scout cookies that we used. We used white, chocolate and strawberry milk to match the color scheme and give some milk options.  It was so cute and everyone said what a good idea it was... thanks again Pinterest for making me look like a creative genius! 

A few other details:
Clothes line

Banner on the table where opened gifts were displayed.

Megan had the idea of letting guests sign in the baby book.

Chocolate Lollipop Favors. (Interesting side note, my original post about these has been the highest source of traffic to my blog, and has been the top viewed post ever)

 Here's the poem that we tied onto each lollipop:

The baby shower was a huge success and Megan got a lot of things for baby Reagan to use.  Can't wait to meet her! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Winery Tour: Hinnant Family Vineyards - Pine Level, NC

Way back over Spring Break, I took a day and drove about an hour up the road and visited Hinnant Family Vineyards in Pine Level, NC.  My favorite wines are made from Muscadine grapes.  Drinking muscadine wine takes me back to summers at my Grandma's house eating grapes right off the vine.  I always look forward to muscadine season!

I'm not sure when I first learned about Hinnant Vineayards.  I think that it was by chance one day in the grocery store.  I remember the first wine of their's that I had was their Muscadine Blush.  It is so good!  Every year, Greenville has a Holiday Show with various vendors set up, and for the past 3 years, my favorite booth has been Hinnant's!  I go and stock up on my wine for the year.  When I made my 27 Before 27 list, and included visiting a vineyard, I knew that Hinnant would be my first choice.

I arrived around 2pm, and there a few people in the tasting room.  I asked to take a tour (which is free, by the way) and Wes gave me my own personal tour.  He is so knowledgeable about the grapes, the wines, and  the whole wine making process.  I learned a lot on the tour!  There are other vineyards, especially NC Vineyards that focus on muscadine and scuppernong grapes, but I've always preferred Hinnant wines.  I think (and I learned this on the tour) that it is because of the way that they sweeten the wine.  Hinnant uses regular sugar, and some other vineyards use a syrup.

After my own personal tour, I went back to the tasting room, where I sampled some of the wines.  They have 2 options.  You can taste 3 for free, or 8 for $5, and with the second option, you get to keep the tasting glass. Of course, I went with #2! Some of the wines that I tried were made with other grapes, and some with fruits.  I ended up purchasing a blackberry wine (made with local blackberries) and a Sweet Blanc du Bois.  I had plenty of muscadine wines left at home. McCall did the pouring, and she was super sweet.  I told her that I would be writing about my visit, and asked if I could take pictures and she told me to take all I wanted.  I will definitely be going back to the vineyard... hopefully sometime in the summer, when the vines are full! 

Entrance to the Tasting Room

Vines as far as you can see... This was in march, so they were bare. Hinnant Family Vineyards is the oldest and largest muscadine vineyard in North Carolina.  They have close to 80 acres of grapes.  Not only do they grow muscadines, but they have other varieties that they use in other wines. 

The machine that juices the grapes, separates out the seeds and hulls, which are used in other muscadine products.  Turns out that they grapes have a lot of antioxidants that people take in pill form. It was also interesting that no part of the vine goes unused.  After pruning, the vines are used for grapevine wreaths.  The seeds and hulls that aren't used in other products are used for composting and fertilizing the vines. 

The tank room.  Hinnant has the capacity to bottle up to 40,000 cases of wine.  As of 2010, they were producing 25,000 cases.  You can't see it in this picture, well, but they have a tank that is 12,000 gallons! 

Since the vineyard has been growing, the original tank room, was converted into an event space.  It is beautiful in there.  They host tons of weddings and other special events, and are quickly becoming one of the  premier wedding locations in NC.  How beautiful would a wedding at the vineyard be! 

Look at all of those awards! Their wines are awesome... and I'm not the only one that thinks so! 

A few more pictures from the tasting room. 

They sell these cute "Hinnant to Win It Guide to Success" t-shirts for their wines.  I have a couple of them.  My favorite is the purple one that says sometimes you  just gotta stop and chug the wildflowers... its for their Carolina Wildflower wine that is sweetened with honey. 

I hope you've enjoyed this little bit of information about Hinnant Vineyards.  If you're ever traveling through NC on I-95, they are right off the interstate, and it will be well worth the stop.  You can purchase their wines online or in North Carolina stores, and some surrounding states as well.  

Now that I'm finally getting around to blogging about my visit (while drinking a glass of Tarheel Red) I'm thinking that it might be time to go back soon!  You can also like them on Facbeook to learn about events that are coming up!

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