The most delicious pumpkin bars EVER!

These are the most delicious pumpkin bars that I have ever made and tasted. This recipe belongs to Paula Deen. I’ve made it many times. They are always a hit. I’ve made them as pumpkin bars, which is the original Paula Deen recipe and I’ve also made them as cupcakes. Click here to view the original recipe by Paula Deen.

I used this recipe to enter a Halloween cupcake contest last year and I won!

Pumpkin coconut cupcakes halloween

For Paula Deen’s pumpkin bars, you will need the following ingredients:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

2. Stir together the flour (don’t forget to sift the flour, very important!), baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.

4. Fill the batter in a  9.5 x 13.5 x 2 inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let it completely cool before frosting.

Today, I am grateful for Octobers, pumpkins, and love.

pumpkin love instagram 2012

Goodbye October, Hello November!

So fresh and so clean DIY yoga mat cleaner

So fresh and so clean, clean… so fresh and so clean…

I have a great recipe for a homemade DIY yoga mat cleaner. Why spend $10 to $15 on a yoga mat cleaner spray when you can make it yourself? Plus, this fresh and clean recipe contains no chemicals because you use all natural ingredients, such as water, witch hazel and essential oils. Give it a try! It’s so easy to make and so easy to use. It cleans up your mat while making it smell so fresh. Hence, the name… so fresh and so clean DIY yoga mat cleaner!

You can choose any essential oils that you prefer to make this yoga mat cleaner. Make sure that you use 100% pure essential oil. For this recipe, I chose essential oils with antibacterial properties. There are many that you can chose from. According to research, cinnamon essential oil is the most effective of all oils for its antibacterial properties. However, tea tree oil and oregano oil work well too. Other essential oils with antibacterial properties are lemongrass, peppermint, bergamot, lavender, eucalyptus, clove, rosemary and thyme, just to name a few.

For this recipe, I chose three essential oils. I chose tea tree oil mostly for it’s antibacterial properties but also for it’s antiseptic, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. I also used peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is not only an antiseptic and antimicrobial oil but it is also antiviral. I also chose lemongrass oil because it has antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria.

So to break it down, the combination of these three oils provide the following properties:

*antibacterial

*antiseptic

*antifungal

*antimicrobial

*antiviral

A perfect combination for cleaning a dirty yoga mat. Also included in the recipe is witch hazel which is a disinfectant. You will need a spray bottle. This recipe uses 3 parts water to 1 part witch hazel. I used 3 ounces of water to 1 ounce of witch hazel. It also uses about 20 to 25 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Since I used 3 essential oils, I used 7 to 10 drops of each.

Onto the recipe!

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So fresh and so clean DIY yoga mat cleaner

  • 3 ounces of water (distilled water is preferred)
  • 1 ounce of witch hazel
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 7 drops of lemongrass oil
  • 7 drops of peppermint oil

Mix all of the ingredients into a spray bottle- pour 3 ounces of water into a spray bottle, followed by 1 ounce of witch hazel then add your essential oils. To use, shake the bottle before spraying and spray a good amount over your mat. Use a clean rag to wipe the yoga mat clean. Hang your yoga mat or leave it spread out to dry.

It’s a great idea to clean your yoga mat after each practice. I must confess that I don’t. I practice daily but I don’t clean my mat daily. If anything, I clean my mat at least once or twice per week. I definitely clean it after a really sweaty practice or after practicing at a yoga studio.

In addition, not only does this cleaner leave a fresh and clean scent on my mat, but it also leaves a fresh and clean scent in the air. I love the combination of lemongrass and peppermint oil. It’s so uplifting and delightful.

Try this recipe when cleaning your yoga mat. It’s so easy to put together, does a great job of cleaning your mat and afterwards, leaves your room smelling wonderful.

So fresh and so clean.

My adaptation of the Caramel Apple Poke Cake

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I tried making this Caramel Apple Poke Cake  from Delish.com (a recipe by Lindsay Funston). It was definitely delish!

According to Delish.com, here are the ingredients that this recipe requires:

2 tbsp. butter, plus more for pan
All-purpose flour, for pan
1 box spice cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter
5 Granny Smith apples, finely chopped (peeled if desired)
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 c. jarred caramel, plus more for drizzling

FOR THE FROSTING
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 tbsp. butter, softened
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

My dilemma? I couldn’t find spice cake. My other dilemma? I didn’t want to make the frosting from scratch. So I bought a yellow cake mix, added some spices to make it a spice cake and I bought ready made cream cheese frosting.

So here is my adapted list of ingredients for the caramel apple poke cake that I made:

CARAMEL APPLE POKE CAKE- Sweet Monday style

1 box of yellow cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter (which in my case was 3 eggs, water and vegetable oil)
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
one jar of Smucker’s caramel flavored topping (12.25 oz.)

-Butter a 9-x-13″ baking pan or dish.
-Mix the yellow cake mix, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg together.
-Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions (i.e. add eggs, water and oil) and pour into the prepared pan. Bake according to package directions. Let cool, about 20 minutes.
-Prepare the apple layer: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the brown sugar and white sugar, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and stir until combined. Add the corn starch and lemon juice and stir until combined. Remove from heat.
-When cake is cooled, poke holes using a thick straw or the end of a wooden spoon, all over the cake.
-Pour the caramel all over the cake, especially over the poked holes.
-Spread the apple mixture on top.
-Spread the cream cheese frosting over apple layer.
-Dust the top of the cake with cinnamon.

I have a great idea on how to adapt this recipe into cupcakes. After the cupcake has cooled,  poke one big hole in each cupcake and fill it with caramel. Instead of spreading a layer of apples and then spreading the cream cheese frosting on top of that, mix the apple mixture and cream cheese frosting together to make it an apple pie cream cheese frosting. Sounds pretty good, right?!

I must admit that I was a little hesitant about this recipe. It sounded like it would be too sweet with all the spices, the caramel, the cream cheese frosting and the sweet apples. But actually, it was the perfect combination together. The spices blended well together with all of the other ingredients and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. It reminded me of an apple pie with caramel on top.

 

It’s all the rage DIY fluffy slime

I guess fluffy slime is all the rage right now. My son requested to make fluffy slime after watching a few youtubers make it. We went to the store to buy some saline solution, glue and shaving cream. We already had the baking soda and food dye. Unfortunately, the store was out of glue so we had to go to Office Depot. We found the glue and amazingly, there was also a recipe for fluffy slime along with saline solution and baking soda for sale. I guess it’s a popular thing.

Here are the ingredients for fluffy slime.

INGREDIENTS:
Washable glue such as Elmer’s school glue
Foam shaving cream
Saline Solution
Baking Soda
Food dye

INSTRUCTIONS
-Add ½ cup of glue into a bowl. We bought a 7.625 fl. oz. of glue and it ended up being half of the bottle.
-Add color  by putting in a few drops of food dye. Stir to mix in the color.
-Add approximately 4 cups of shaving cream into bowl. We didn’t do an exact measurement. We mostly eyeballed it.
-Stir in ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.
-Add 1 tablespoon of  saline solution and mix. Mix thoroughly and then knead the mixture. This is the magic part and when it starts turning into slime.

The slime will get a bit sticky but as you keep working with it and kneading it, it becomes less sticky. To take it out of the bowl, we put a little bit of oil in our hands (coconut oil but you can use any oil) so that it would stick less to our hands.

And ta-da, you have fluffy slime! Josh liked making it so much that he made another batch by himself. My favorite part is adding the saline solution, mixing and watching the magic happen.

A fun DIY to do with your kids.

 

Natural hair care for healthy hair

If you can ingest it, then you know it’s safe and non toxic for your hair. Here are some natural hair care recipes that you can try for healthy, shiny hair that glows.

Egg and olive oil: The protein in eggs is great for hair. It makes the hair strong, softens hair while preventing breakage and aids in hair growth. Eggs help to restore the natural oils in your hair and scalp. Mix one egg with a tablespoon of olive oil. Leave on hair for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Then rinse it off. Remember to use cold water when rinsing it off.

Olive Oil hot oil treatment: Do you have dry and damaged hair? If so, this olive oil hot oil treatment is the one for you. Olive oil contains fatty acids that coat the hair and moisturize it. It also protects your hair from further damage. Here’s how it works. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the microwave until warm. Make sure it is not too hot. About 10 to 15 seconds should be good. Then apply the oil on dry hair and cover with a shower cap or towel. Leave the oil on for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and shampoo as usual.

Baking soda hair exfoliater: Do you have excessive product build up on your hair? Get rid of that build up by using baking sodan as a hair exfoliater. Baking soda contains sodium bicarbonate which is a great exfoliater. It helps remove all that build up on your hair due to overuse of hair products. Here’s how you use it. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to a quarter sized squirt of shampoo. Shampoo your hair as usual, concentrating on the roots. Rinse. This should remove all the residue from product build up.

Castor oil and coconut oil: Castor oil is used for hair growth and to prevent hair loss by protecting the existing hair follicles. Castor oil helps moisturize your hair and can also make it thicker. It’s also great for treating dandruff. Mix castor oil with coconut oil and massage into your scalp for at least 5 minutes. Then massage the oil from your scalp to the remainder of your hair. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then shampoo off. For best results, do this once to twice per week. Try it for longer eyelashes, too!

Apple cider vinegar hair rinse: Do you want shiny hair? Apple cider vinegar helps remove product residue and excessive oil. What’s the result? Shiny hair. Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water and pour it over your hair after shampooing. Wait about 2 minutes, then rinse. Don’t worry. Your hair won’t smell like vinegar all day (but your bathtub might.)

Coconut Oil: This is my favorite natural hair care recipe. I use coconut oil as an intensive conditioner which I leave on overnight. I shampoo my hair in the morning and my hair is smooth and shiny. Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids. It penetrates hair deeply. It can also be used as a leave-in conditioner. When used as a leave in conditioner, it’s important not to put too much. A little bit goes a long way. If you put too much, you will end up with very oily hair. To use coconut oil as an intensive conditioner, it is best to leave it on for a couple of hours or better yet, overnight.

Tea Tree scalp massager: Do you have an itchy scalp? Tea Tree Oil is a natural antifungal and antiseptic. It helps eliminate bacteria and dandruff flakes. Add a few drops to your shampoo and massage into scalp. Leave on hair for about 5 minutes. Feel the tingle. It’s like a massage for your scalp. Rinse. Refreshed.

Try these natural remedies for healthy hair. They are like little miracles for your hair.

Today I am grateful for all things natural.

Beach ball cupcakes: Pinterest Fail or not?

Ah, Pinterest. So many great DIY ideas. They make it look so easy. Here’s a short story of what I consider a Pinterest fail. Ok, maybe not so much of a fail, but my cake and cupcakes certainly did not turn out like the picture on Pinterest.

I love to bake. However, I’m not too good in the decorating department. When I frost cupcakes, they look sloppy. I just don’t have that magic touch. Maybe I’m a perfectionist when it comes to these things. Or maybe I don’t have the right tools. I didn’t use a tip on my decorating bags for frosting these cupcakes.  I had one that I’ve used a few times, but I lost it. I thought that I would do okay without one. I found out later that you need to use a tip for greater control of the frosting. Lesson learned. So onto my story.

I don’t have a dome cake mold but I found out that you can use a glass bowl. If it says Pyrex on the bottom of the bowl then it is oven safe. I had 4 sizes to choose from and I chose the smallest one. I greased up my Pyrex glass bowl very well so that the cake would slip out easily. In total, I baked the small cake for 26 minutes.

Small dome baked cake

Baking the dome cake in a small Pyrex bowl worked out great! The cake slipped out easily. I leveled the bottom of the cake so that it would be even.

I let the cakes cool. While they cooled, I prepared the frosting. I used about 7 to 8 drops of food coloring for each of the colors which were red, blue and yellow. I wanted the colors to be bright.

Beach ball cake for the birthday boy

48 beach ball colored cupcakes

As you can see the frosting came out pretty sloppy. But then again, I’ve never been good at frosting cupcakes. Practice makes perfect. Next time I will make sure to use a frosting tip for better control. I think the blue, red and yellow colors came out nice. If I knew how to frost cakes so that they are smooth, then the little beach ball cake would have looked better. I was told that they looked great, but I know I could have done better. I must say, they tasted delicious!

The 2 year old birthday boy blowing his cake

The birthday boy made the cupcakes look so much better!

B5955 Butterick pattern review

My latest sewing project was a blouse using the Butterick pattern B5955. The description of the blouse states that it is a very loose-fitting pullover that has a V-neck top and a back yoke with slightly forward shoulder seams extending into dolman sleeves.

Butterick patterns have 5 types of fit. These are fitted, close fitting, loose fitting, semi fitted and very loose fitting. You can find these terms in the garment descriptions on the Butterick pattern envelopes. These 5 terms will tell you what to anticipate when it comes to the fitting of the item. Each term indicates an amount of wearing ease that is built into the pattern. Ease is the extra inches built into a pattern for wearing room.

That being said, in reviewing this pattern, this finished blouse ended up being extremely large for me the first time I sewed it. I had to adjust it to fit afterwards and sew it to fit again. This could have been prevented had I taken notice of the wearing ease of this pattern. As described on the envelope, this is a very loose fitting blouse. According to the Butterick ease chart, very loose fitting will have an ease of over 8 inches. That’s alot!

After sewing the blouse to fit me again, I took a picture of the blouse that actually fit me compared to the sewing pattern. What a big difference!

In addition and most importantly, I should have also taken notice of the pattern’s finished garment measurements. Had I done this, I probably would have sewn a blouse that fit me the first time based on my measurements regardless of ease.

You can find the finished garment measurements by looking on the tissue and finding the symbol that looks like a circle with a cross through it.

On a side note, I have noticed that most sewing patterns have so much wearing ease in the patterns that in most cases, you can get away with wearing one size smaller than the pattern companies tell you that you do based on your measurements.

So onto my finished product. This pattern calls for crepe de chine, lawn, or charmeuse fabric. I used a navy cotton lawn. I changed up the pattern a little bit by folding the end of the sleeves and sewing it in place.

I will definitely sew this blouse again, except next time, I will use a crepe de chine with a pattern on the fabric. I felt that using the navy colored cotton lawn made me look like I was wearing scrubs.

Here is my finished product: