DIY Peppermint Mocha

'The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.' But since 'I can sing, I just choose not to sing. Especially in front of other people,'* I'm giving away these at the office instead:

It's no secret that I love me some clear glass ornament projects, and I thought they'd make festive packaging for the couple servings of peppermint mocha mix I'm trying to contain. I used 67mm (2.63 in.) bulbs and filled them up about half way with 6 tbsp of mix. I messed around til I came up with a pretty yummy recipe:
  • 1 cup of hot cocoa
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of instant coffee
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract
  • adjust coffee and extract amount according to your taste, mix well in food processor
To minimize the powder leakage, I inserted a mini marshmallow under each cap:
To add a little color inside the glass bulbs, I broke off peppermint sticks to insert into each one. Many sticks were sacrificed as I needed them to be the exact height where they remain standing without impeding on the marshmallow cap action, which had a very low tolerance. *Note: soft mints break nicely, regular candy canes do not.

With matching ribbons and instruction tag (reads 'Add 3 tbsp or more of mocha mix to a cup of hot water or milk and enjoy!'), these are ready to go!
The boxed edition went into ultra limited production. As da hubs pointed out, not everyone appreciate nice balls. Note: the mix will 'dirty' the peppermint stick in transport, but with a few shakes/taps, it cleans up quite nicely!

Happy Holidays everybody!

*My fav Xmas movie


DIY Sugar Cube Place Card Holder

I wanted something simple and cute to hold up all the labels for the desserts at MOH-Ho's 'Sugar Spice Nice' theme shower and I came up with the perfect solution:

As usual, I got some eye-rolls when I first mentioned my latest crazy idea. But when it comes time to trying things out, my team is always behind me 110% (coz they know it's the only way to shut me up). We had to set this up outdoors coz sugar flew EVERYWHERE. Eventually Bro-GT had to put on safety goggles (over his glasses!) just to protect his eyes from sugar attacks.
A mini assembly line was formed quickly. Da Hubs set up each cube and Bro-GT did the cutting and blade cleaning:
To make these you'll need:
  • Some kind of heavy clamp (we used a pipe wrench)
  • Rotary tool with small thin blade
  • Sugar cubes
There's only one step to the process - cut a slot in the cube to hold the card. Here are a few tips / lessons learned:
  • As I mentioned, do this outside and the person cutting should wear eye-protection. Sugar got on all our clothes and hair, I can't imaging the epic battle we would've had with the neighborhood ants if I tried this in the kitchen or even the garage.
  • Depending on the type of clamp you use, you may want to add some padding to protect the cube and provide a firmer grip. We wrapped a paper towel around each cube to do this. The metal and sugar direct contact made it slippery and nicked the cubes.
  • The blade gets hot and melts the sugar. Sometimes you get small clumps or pieces of cotton candy out of it but they remove easily. Keep a tub of water nearby to take the sugar off the blade (comes off real easily with water) so the buildup doesn't mess with your cut.
  • Practice makes perfect. I wasn't sure this would work at first but after some tries (and quite a few broken cubes) we got it down pat.
They do a great job holding up any small cards/signs/labels, but I think they look proportionally perfect with the little labels (see 2nd photo above) and would make excellent place card holders. Though I gotta say, double-teaming them to hold the bigger signs look pretty damn fabulous too:
I just love the simplicity, texture, and sweetness of these little holders. Out of all the details I put into this shower, I think this may just be my favorite :)


DIY Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Sugar Shower Favors

I knew I would be making vanilla extract favors for MOH-Ho's shower before I came up with the 'Sugar Spice Nice' theme, decided to serve desserts, or remotely considered any other detail. It was kind of a given in my mind because of MOH-Ho's love for baking. I also love that it's consumable, renewable, and has that personal homemade touch.

I later decided to add the vanilla sugar as well so that guests from the same household (aunt & cousin) won't have to take 2 of the same favor home.
Making vanilla extract is actually quite simple, all you're doing is soaking vanilla beans in vodka and letting it sit. Before doing my research I jumped the gun and bought premium grade vanilla beans, only to realized later that the cheaper lower grade versions (for the lower moisture content) were actually better for extract making. Oh well.
Madagascar vanilla beans are most commonly used for extract, so that's what I got. Beans are split in half and placed in bottles:
Then the bottles are filled with vodka. There are varying recipes out there for the proportions, but all say that more extract can be made by refilling with vodka. My interpretation of that is, if you let it sit long enough, most reasonable vanilla:vodka ratio will work. I put one bean in each bottle that holds about 1/2 cup of vodka.
You gotta shake 'em up real good and store in a cool and dark place for at least a couple of months, with additional shake sessions in between. I took these couple pics right after filling them all up. See the pretty color already showing?
The finishing touch was a paper strip seal plus tag that matches the rest of the shower stationary. The strips were nothing but scraps made useful. Remember the shower invites vellum envelopes? Before cutting them down to the right envelope size, I printed on the edges like this:
so they can be cut to make the paper strip seals. They were first attached with rubber cement, which worked well but was a bit messy. In the end, MOH-Ho just ran them through her trusty Xyron for ease. On the back of the matching tag was a thank you note and instructions on making the refills.

Now onto the vanilla infused sugar:
For the sugar I chose the more fruity Tahitian beans, which were cut diagonally into small pieces to provide the most vanilla exposure.
I filled the chosen jar with table sugar to get the right amount:
then mix the vanilla bits with the sugar:
Pour them back into the jars, seal, and that's it! I left these alongside the extract to sit for months.
The little specks spread in the sugar was really quite pretty, if only I had the photography skills to capture it...

Like the extract, the sugar also had a matching tag with a thank you note. Since no instructions were necessary I added suggestions for uses (in coffee/tea for added flavor, etc.)And that's it! I was pleasantly surprised at how well these turned out, I sure hope the guests like them!


Sweet Shower Details

I have theme addiction. It's true. I thought about seeking help, for themes often conflict with practicality, and practicality is high up on my list. But before I go get myself fixed, I indulged in MOH-Ho's sugary shower details. You've already seen my 'Sugar Spice Nice' shower invites and I've also shown you the food and drinks dessert set up. Now I must confess that beyond the leftover labels and the special drink signs, there is more. Looking at all this pink makes me nauseous (I'm not a pink person, MOH-Ho is), and I apologize in advance if you also wanna throw up a little bit in your mouth. Okay, here we go.

For the cotton candy set up, homeboy will be making the fresh mini puffs with popsicle sticks instead of cones, and place them in pink cupcake liners for display in a cupcake pan. I made these little stickers for the popsi-sticks:
I have a 3-table set up for the food and drinks and each one will have one of these banners:
I couldn't leave the water bottles naked so they too have matching labels. We went with MOH-Ho's favorite design...
but I had to get one with the label design that was my fav :)
The skewers for the chocolate fountain are dressed up with little letter flags on top that spell s-u-g-a-r:

And since I'm planning 'too much food', I printed these to-go bags for guests to take some goodies home in. I put the brown paper lunch bags through the printer and the printing didn't come out perfect, but I think the imperfection actually fits the bags quite well:

And there's the guest book. I've never attended a bridal shower so I'm not sure if it's weird to have one of these, but I thought a cake plate signed by the shower guests (with a porcelain pen) would be a nice keepsake for MOH-Ho to remember the day by.
Phew! Now if you can stand more of this crazy matchy-match pink mush, the heavier DIY projects are coming up!


The Sweet Shower: Deweecious Setup

Da Hubs thinks I'm planning an excessive amount of food for MOH-Ho's shower, and dared me to do a post asking your opinion. I ain't scurred! While I'm at it, Imma show you the setup of it all too.

Here is the main buffet table that will feature 10 desserts:
  1. Cupcakes
  2. Brownie bites
  3. Raspberry Truffles
  4. Palmiers
  5. Biscotti
  6. Cookies (Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, White Chocolate Macadamia)
  7. Madeleines
  8. Sugar Free Cookies (Lemon Creme and Chocolate Striped Shortbread)
  9. Apple Pie
  10. Cherry or Pumpkin Pie (still deciding, what do you think?)
I'm reusing my wedding cake stands here. The 2 pies will be placed at the front corners of the table. I wanted to keep them low (my excuse for being too cheap to buy pie plates), and I know I've got issues but I just loove those little tongs!
Those extra little tags from the invite suite will label the desserts:
Then there's the cotton candy and chocolate fountain station, which will be manned by MOH-Ho's homeboy:
Chocolate fountain dip items include:
  1. Strawberries
  2. Pineapple
  3. Marshmallows
  4. Pretzels
  5. Graham Crackers
and y'all know how much I dig that chocolate fountain!

Third table will serve 5 drinks (Thermos is a photo stand-in for a carafe):
  1. 2% Milk
  2. Raspberry Lemonade Vodka
  3. Cream Soda
  4. Coffee
  5. Bottled Water (for ease to take-along upon departure)
I did special labels for each drink (again, matching the invites):
There will be around 25 (plus or minus a couple) people at this shower. As a huge boofay fan, I really wanted to provide a good variety of desserts. I'll also be providing to-go bags for guests to take food home. One highlight of a recent convo between da hubs and I on this topic went down like this:

DH: 'AND 2 pies?! No pies! You don't need the pies! Plus no one eat pies without ice cream!'
Me: ' Ooo! I should do an ice cream station too then, with a toppings buffet!'
(for the sake of my marriage, I'm forgoing the ice cream station)

I have quite a bit of detail to be added to this basic set up. But before we get to that post, will you be our judge and tell us if you think I'm over doing things and should be beaten by the starving children in China; OR if I'm simply doing the word buffet justice? (or if you think I'm underestimating it all and must add the ice cream station, I'd like to hear that too)


Sweet Shower Invites (Downloadable Template Included)

I am throwing a bridal shower for MOH-Ho and it is freaking me out! I did accomplish one thing, though not without huge assembly help from MOH-Ho and her momma - the shower invites:

MOH-Ho is a big time baker (she's the mastermind behind my wedding cupcakes) so she's getting a 'Sugar Spice Nice' theme dessert shower. The 3-page invite includes the basic invite on the front (sugar), details & rsvp info in the middle (spice), and a blank recipe card on the last for guests to share their favorite recipe with the bride (nice).

The linen texture strips of increasing lengths are aligned on the left side and sewn together with matching thread...

to give this staggering effect on the right:

The envelope is folded from pastel pink vellum and sewn shut. The invite info is covered by a matching address label.

I originally wanted the seal to be done with an off white linen ribbon matching the paper texture, but I wasn't sure it would hold up in the mail. Sewing it shut was a practical alternative, and it turns out to have a cleaner feel which I like.

The finished product:

Like MOH-Ho's wedding invitations, this set is also printed on a single piece of cardstock. Included are the 3 strips, address label, plus a couple extra matching small labels/tags:


Also like MOH-Ho's wedding invitations, matching thank-yous will follow :)

  1. Cut 10" x 7" piece of vellum
  2. Score and fold in at solid red lines (the 2 shorter folds first, then the middle)
  3. Insert invite
  4. Sew shut at dotted line right above top edge of invite

Planning this sweet shindig has been difficult for me for a lot of reasons. I've never attended a bridal shower before, I'm doing this long distance and my summer field assignment has kept me super busy and exhausted, plus I'm nervous that it won't be good enough for her friends and family (I'm not around women much!). Fortunately MOH-Ho has been very supportive and forgiving about my shortcomings. While I feel bad that she has to work on her own shower, I really couldn't do it without her!

Would you mind helping with your own shower?