cheer-up gifts

One stack of rainbow sticky notes, all packaged up and ready to brighten the mailbox of my little sister (shh, don’t tell).

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



Here she is, my first official mailing of 13 ounces or less. I thought mini m+ms should go out with a mini garland (i did a paper version of this one by PurlBee). I packed it, wrapped it, and mailed it off for $1.57. It’s so cheerful looking, don’t you think?

mmm, chocolatejust enough space
even the scraps are cheerfulpacked and ready

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



I picked up some new winter picnic gear. Yes, this metal coil can plug into your car and heat up a mug of something yummy (!!) I get easily bored with the same old meals around the table and often like to pack everyone up for a day of adventure and picnics in the car. These chocolate mugs I picked up for my honey at Crate & Barrel. Perfect sized for a really rich cup of hot chocolate on a stick (my latest favorite is making the recipe with dark and white chocolate, and adding cinnamon and cayenne).

And you know, the more I think of it the more I’m dreaming of the perfect winter picnic.

I’d start somewhere isolated but not too isolated. With a chill in the air but still enough winter sunshine to warm my hair and shoulders and back. I’d start with this menu. (Love the part where she says “The girls and I picked the nettles for the soup on the heath.”)

Of course everything would have to be toted on a sledge (who loves sweet paul? i do, i do!)

I’d bring along a cozy blanket.

And a mini hottie.

I’d use this crazy cool kettle. It boils “1.5 litres of water in three minutes using only a handful of twigs, or a dried cow-pat, newspaper, an old bird’s nest.”

And windproof matches to get that cow-pat fire going.
I’d go for this hot cocoa (which I’m dying to try) recommended by this talented woman who I promise you would know a good hot chocolate when she met one.

I might even get fancy and buy a little of this yummy, melty stuff

and broil it on one of these. A pocket raclette grill. I need to tell you about our once-a-week family raclette night. Remind me to some time. It’s been pretty great.

I have one more surprise I’m working out for you, and if it goes as planned, I’m just sure it will become a winter picnic essential. But it may be a week or two. Plus I’m thinking this little gadget will coordinate nicely with a guest post I’ll be doing elsewhere in a few weeks. In the meantime, happy winter.


I love getting the inside scoop from teachers about what their job is really like. Maybe it’s the little girl in me who had that itching curiosity about what it must be like in the teachers’ lounge. Whatever the reason, between my own nosiness in talking to teachers and great posts like this one and this one with real live teachers weighing in, I’ve run across some fun teacher gift ideas. Here are some favorites. If you need a few more stop by my teacher gift guide page.

-handmade gifts for teachers1. I really like the idea of giving this book, and love these beautiful, free printable book plates to add a personal touch.
2. Gift cards. There are some occasions that gift cards were invented for, I believe this is one of them. Nothing too elaborate, just a nice chance to go to dinner or buy a book on tape. Give it in a pretty pocket case, this one will do nicely.
3. Something handmade by your child. This is a must. Even if it’s a note. I completely adore these spirograph pushpins and button pushpins.
4. A gift certificate for calling cards. Because if the school provides any, they are not this pretty.
5. Handmade heated rice bags like these (via One Pretty Thing), which kept coming up in the comments from this post.
6. Classroom supplies (not pictured). I just think about how excited I get about school supplies, and I don’t even have a real-life excuse to use them. Try to hint around and find out what the teacher might really like for the classroom, and consider going in with other parents.


homemade egg noodles recipe 2 shapes

Isn’t it nice to get a little coddled when you’re sick? I’m sure there was some point in my adult life, though I can’t pinpoint it, when I learned the harsh truth that grown ups get much less coddled at these times. The kids still need feeding, the bills still need paying, the laundry still builds, the dishes still get dirty. Cruel world.

This week my husband had a little cold. Tuesday he spent the full day working from his home office and then installing doors so Grandma and Grandpa could come this weekend. So we decided to make him this chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles, for the ultimate coddling effect.

homemade egg noodles recipe 5

Homemade egg noodles take a little work. But they’re so yummy, and I love the process of rolling and slicing and piling stacks of noodles. Plus the kids think they’re fun because they can cut out loving shapes to take care of whoever has the sniffles. You can cook the noodles fresh or dry them and they will keep indefinitely. So if you know someone who needs a pick-me-up but who is living far away, you can mail a batch with some soup mix. Instant love. The recipe and tips follow.

Homemade Egg Noodles
2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
3 egg yolks
1 egg
2 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 c. water
  1. Put flower in a med. sized bowl and make a well in the center. Add the yolks, whole egg, and salt.
  2. Use your hands to thoroughly mix egg into flour (I’ve used my kitchenaid too, which works, but I feel so much more Little-House-on-the-Prairie using my hands).
  3. Add just enough water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to bring the dough together so it forms a ball. Mix well between each addition of water.
  4. Knead on a floured surface for about 8 minutes until smooth and elastic (again, I’ve used the dough hook on my kitchen aid, but this is some tough dough, so keep it slow).
  5. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  6. Divide into 4 equal parts. Roll dough one part at a time until it’s very thin. Thinner than you think (see tip below for easier rolling).
    UPDATE: See TY’s note in the comments, and the great tip to let the dough rest for two hours, then return to it to roll it again before cutting. I think this is a great technique.
  7. Cut dough crosswise into fettuccine-sized strips (see tip below).
  8. Add it to soup immediately or lay it on a cooling rack to dry. Store it in a bag or airtight container. Fresh noodles cook in about 8 minutes, dried noodles in about 12 minutes.

homemade egg noodles recipe dough
roll it thin
homemade egg noodles recipe 3

I can be an impatient woman, so I’ve come up with a couple tricks to make dough rolling go faster. When I begin to roll out the dough, I alternately roll and stretch the dough. Stretch carefully to avoid making holes. Once the dough is pretty thin, I wipe an extra layer of flower over it and roll it up very loosely, into a roll that’s 3 or 4 inches wide. I use my rolling pin to roll over the length of the dough like that a few times. Then I unroll the dough to see how it’s looking. (And according to TY’s grandmother, letting it rest for a couple hours, then rolling again will also help, see the comments of this post.)
homemade egg noodles recipe 4
Once I’m satisfied that it’s thin enough, I roll it up loosely again and use my kitchen shears to snip off a noodle at a time. Usually a little tossing will unroll the individual noodles, but sometimes I need to unroll them one at a time. Or give the kids a few cookie cutters and let them make some fun noodle-ie shapes.
homemade egg noodles recipe 1 shapes
what better way to send messages of love than with noodles in soup?


If you’re new here, welcome. I’m AmberLee, and since writing this post, I’ve opened up a little chocolate shop. I’d love to have you stop by, don’t forget to send me a hot chocolate flavor suggestion. Or say hello on facebook. I’d like that too.

NOTE: If you blog this recipe, I’ll be thrilled and flattered. In fact, I kept this recipe as bare bones as possible in hopes you’d play with different flavors, molds, and sticks. If you do blog, would you link back to me here? (Like this and this kind review, thank you!) I will so appreciate it. Feel free to use a picture or two, but please don’t repost all the pictures and please don’t post the recipe without my written permission. It’s taken a few years of researching and practicing with chocolate (certainly not an unpleasant thing) and some days of a very messy kitchen (but a happy family) to provide you with this recipe and with good advice about chocolate.

Oh how I love when the weather turns cold enough for hot chocolate. Something about a good cup of hot chocolate makes the world feel like a gentler place.
gourmet hot chocolate on a stick gift
This idea is something I’ve been wanting to try for a couple winters now. Chocolate, and hot chocolate especially, have always been a big deal to me. I spent the first years of my life in my dad’s hometown of Merida, Venezuela—right up the hill from Lake Maracaibo, where some of the world’s most crazy amazing cacao is grown. Our family was made up of German and Austrian immigrants who were crazy about fine chocolate. So I always felt chocolate was in my blood. Finally, my parents and family landed in Idaho, which is where I discovered that a cup of hot chocolate was the difference between a bleak winter and a cozy one.

me in Venezuela, I’m the pudgy one in booties

Enough of my life story, and on to a recipe for real, amazing hot chocolate.

I’m glad I finally took the time to puzzle this through and do a little taste testing, because the recipe turned out to be so simple, and the results so delightful. Stir one of these sticks into a cup of steaming milk or cream and in two minutes  you will have transformed it into a cup of rich hot chocolate, the blessed stuff. I can’t help feel that the act of stirring adds to the experience, soothing you over while building up the anticipation for that first sip.
hot chocolate on a stick gift

First things first: what chocolate to buy (see a whole post dedicated to this here)
The trick to making the best hot chocolate on a stick is using good, serious chocolate that melts easily. A chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter will do that. More cocoa butter means quicker melting. A bag of every-day chocolate chips won’t melt as fast. In fact, chocolate chips are formulated not to melt as fast, so they hold shape in your yummy cookies. You can also find fake chocolate (like a bag of Wilton’s candy melts, aka summer coating), which uses vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter. It will melt well, but the resulting cup of hot chocolate won’t be transcendent. And we’re going for transcendent. The candy melts are great for coating the outside if you like, because they stay pretty and shiny even if you don’t melt them just right.

If you’re on a tight budget, try using a bag of real-chocolate wafers made for a chocolate fountain or for fondue. You can also go with a good baking chocolate bar (you’ll probably want one that is sweetened, not unsweetened). If you really want to make an incredible gift, invest in some good chocolate. You’ll have to sample to pick a favorite. For most chocolate, if you enjoy eating it, you will enjoy drinking it, though some chocolates definitely stand out as drinking chocolate (Scharffen Berger, great if you like a natural chocolate), and some seem to fall short (Lindt for me did this). Following are some good other brands to consider: Ghiradelli (great if you want a dutch processed, more cocoa-flavored chocolate), Barry Callebaut, Dagoba, Michel Cluizel, El Rey, Valrhona, Guittard, TCHO, and I’ve really been wanting to try Amano from Utah.

And if you want your chocolate to come out pretty, you’ll need to temper it. I’ve written my full tempering instructions here. But if you are new to chocolate and tempering scares you, just dip your creations in melted, chocolate-looking, summer coating.

chocolate wafers meltable

Word of warning: no water!
There is one thing you need to know before working with chocolate if you don’t already: never let water or alcohol touch it. Not a drop. You can be stirring a potful of smooth, decadent melted chocolate, then get one drop of water in it and the whole thing will get grainy and seize up. It’s a sad experience. (If this happens to you, use the chocolate for a recipe like brownies or ganache that uses chocolate and liquids).

So then, if you’re planning to introduce vanilla, use a vanilla bean or vanilla paste, not vanilla extract. If you want to add food coloring, use a gel or powdered form, not liquid.
chocolate homemade candy

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
Yield: 10 cubes of hot chocolate (ice-cube-tray size)
(use 1 oz. hot chocolate on a stick per every 1 cup milk or cream)

Ziplock bags or piping bags
A double boiler or pan with a glass bowl that can sit over the simmering water
Some kind of chocolate mold, ice trays work great
Stir sticks or a bag of wooden craft sticks like I used (like these, available at any craft store)

8 oz. chocolate (see note above), bittersweet, semisweet, milk, and white chocolate all work
3 Tbsp cocoa, sifted (dutch processed cocoais more mellow, natural cocoais stronger, pick your favorite)
6-8 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar, sifted, depending on how much sweeter you’d like your hot chocolate
pinch of salt

Feel free to play with other fun ingredients to throw in, ground spices, crushed candy. Just remember, no water and no alcohol or your chocolate will sieze.

6 cups milk and 2 cups heavy cream if you plan to enjoy these right away

(read a whole post about melting chocolate, including how to melt in the microwave, here)

  1. If your chocolate is in a block, chop it into even-sized meltable pieces. Simmer a couple inches of water in a pan, then turn down the heat so the water is below a simmer. I like to remove the pan from the heat, but if you keep it on, keep that water below a simmer. Place glass or stainless steel bowl over the top to make a double boiler. If the bowl touches the water it’s alright, as long as your water is mildly warm, not hot. Dump chocolate into the clean, dry bowl and stir as the chocolate melts. (If you are patient and let those chunks melt slowly, keeping them from getting over 90 degrees F or 88 degrees F for milk and white chocolate, the chocolate will stay “in temper” and will still be nice and pretty when it cools.)
  2. Once the chocolate is 2/3 melted, with just some pieces of the chocolate unmelted, remove the bowl from the pan, dry the bottom with a towel and continue stirring until chocolate is fully melted. This is just one more step to keep the chocolate from getting too hot.
  3. Add cocoa, sugar, and salt and continue to stir until combined. The chocolate will be thicker, as thick as frosting if you’ve put in all the sugar, but stir on. You can pop it back over your double boiler for a minute to make it a bit more liquid, or pop it back in the microwave for 5 or 10 seconds on half power. If the chocolate looks and feels grainy it’s possible you’ve accidentally gotten a drop of water in the mixture. If it has gotten water in it and has seized up, it will still taste alright, it just won’t be as pretty or smooth or melt quite as fast.
  4. Scoop chocolate into a ziplock bag and clip off the corner.
  5. Pipe the chocolate into your chocolate mold, tapping the mold on the counter to make sure all the chocolate settles into the mold. Add a stir stick and you’re done. The stir stick should stay upright without any trouble. If the chocolate bursts through the bag in places you don’t want it to, just put the whole thing in another bag. If the chocolate starts to get too thick to squeeze, just put the whole thing in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or so at half power.
  6. Let the chocolate cool either at room temperature or in the fridge if you’re in a hurry. I find the chocolate pops out of the mold nicely if it’s been in the fridge. It’s okay to cool chocolate in the fridge, just don’t store it there, because chocolate soaks up the odors of other foods pretty quickly.
  7. If you don’t like the look of the chocolate once it is removed from the mold, you can dip the cubes into a new batch of plain melted chocolate for a shinier finish (again, try to keep chocolate from heating over 90 degrees, or use candy melts, which don’t need to be in temper, they will stay shiny and pretty even if you go above 90 degrees). This also lets you add sprinkles or crushed candy or just lets you dip in fun patterns. I like dipping at an angle into a different color of chocolate.
  8. In order to enjoy these, heat up any combo of milk, water, half and half, or cream. I like 6 cups milk with 2 cups heavy cream. One ounce of chocolate on a stick should be melted into one cup milk or cream. So a standard ice cube-tray block, which is 3/4 an ounce, should be melted into a mug with 3/4 cup milk or cream in it.

Troubleshooting: A few of you have had trouble with your chocolate seizing. Tiffany provided this great note  to help out (thanks, Tiffany!), “if the chocolate begins to seize (since for some reason, both of my batches seized, I’m thinking it’s the humidity in the air where I am) you do not have to throw it out. Just put the bowl back over the hot water and add a little bit of vegetable oil (I used somewhere between a tsp and a tbsp) after stirring over a little heat, the chocolate will get smooth again. Also good to note, chocolate can seize if you add any cold ingredients.”

How to store it: Dark chocolate will keep in an airtight container for up to a year, milk and white chocolate for several months. Remember, don’t keep it in the fridge because it is really good at absorbing odors.
hot chocolate on a stick3

cinnamon hot chocolate

Variations: Try adding a pinch of your favorite spice. We tried adding a little extra punch by lining the outside with red hots. Very fun. You can also leave out the cocoa and sugar all together and replace it with 8 servings of your favorite packaged hot cocoa. And if you have any strokes of genius for flavors, we’re collecting flavor ideas at my hot chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen.

As you can see, we played around with a few different molds, like this water bottle ice cube mold from IKEA. The classic ice cube mold was my favorite though. It works best for submersing the entire block of meltable chocolate in a standard mug.
UPDATE: Love Prince Pi’s suggestion of molding these in shot glasses. Also love how the Kitchn (yea!! they tried my recipe!!) made do with a single pan. TinaMarie also made the great suggestion of using small Dixie cups. And finally, check out this beautiful version Sprinkebakes made using a chocolate transfer sheet and birch spoons. You will love it.
hot chocolate on a stick 2

This was fun, but a mess to open (chocolate in egg shells).

Happy melting! And if you have a moment to peruse my shop or become a fan on facebook, I’d love to have you!


This recipe requires a total of 10 minutes rising time. Don’t ask me how it’s done, just trust the magic. I picked up this recipe from my mother’s friend, and have found it great for making cinnamon rolls by the masses. It comes in very handy if, say, you need to bribe a big group of house guests to wake up early so you can get out of the house before noon or a group of men to come help move a friend. If you need just one dozen for a quiet morning, check out option 1.

quickest cinnamon roll recipe

Same-Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Yield 24 rolls (in two 9×13 pans)

Total prep time: 1 hr 15 min.
Active prep time: 45 min.

3 1/2 cups warm water
6 Tbsp. yeast (yes, that’s tablespoons!)
1 cup oil
3/4 cup white sugar (6 oz)
3 beaten eggs
1 Tbsp. salt
10 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (46 oz)

2 cubes butter (1 cup), removed from fridge 10 minutes prior
2 cups brown sugar (12 oz)
4 tsp. cinnamon

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. milk

breakfast recipe, eggs butter

In a large bowl, mix together water, yeast, oil, and 3/4 cup white sugar. Let stand 15 minutes until bubbly.

Meanwhile, prepare filling in a medium bowl. Mix the 2 cups brown sugar, cinnamon, and 2 Tbsp. flour together and cut in butter using two knives or a pastry cutter. Set aside.

flour on scaleI like to weigh my flour. Less mess, much less time.

To yeast mixture, add 3 beaten eggs, salt, and 10 1/2 cups flour. If you need to add more flour, add as little as possible so dough is manageable but still a bit sticky.

Knead well until dough is silky, about 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t let rise.

Divide dough in half. Smear oil on counter (or on a pastry cloth) and roll out dough the size of a large cookie sheet. Take care not to roll it too thin.
easy cinnamon roll recipe

Sprinkle filling evenly over dough. Rollup and pinch seam. (Take care not to roll dough to tight.) Mark into 12 rolls and cut with a serrated knife or with dental floss or fishing line from the bottom of the roll. Place rolls on ungreased 9×13 pan. Repeat with second half of dough.
quickest cinnamon rolls

Let rise 10 minutes, while oven heats to 385°. Bake 22–25 minutes. Cover rolls with foil for the last five minutes if the tops become too brown before they are done. Be sure to cook them fully, if not, the middle rolls will come out doughy. In fact, you may want to check those middle rolls before you pull the batch out of the oven.

Meanwhile prepare frosting. Combine powdered sugar, 1/3 cup butter, vanilla, and milk for frosting.

Frost and enjoy the heavenly experience commonly known as a cinnamon roll.
housewarming gift


I make cinnamon rolls for the people in my house. I make them for my kids on slow mornings or for my grandma and grandpa when they visit. Something about a cinnamon roll begs to be eaten slowly, unrolled and pulled apart meaningfully, and to be enjoyed in good company, and in a sun-lit room if possible.

fastest cinnamon rolls 2

I had a favorite recipe I used all the time in college. I made them for Brent when we were dating (no wonder he liked me, right?) But it is involved and means you either start the night before or get up at an unearthly hour in the morning. The problem with this is that when I have company, usually I am staying up late into the night talking and reminiscing. So getting up at the crack of dawn seems too masochistic. Since than I’ve been thrilled to collect a couple recipes that can be made the morning-of.

This one I stumbled upon thanks to Apartment Therapy. It involves cottage cheese (I know, weird). I was a little suspicious, but tried it this weekend for my family, and it yielded heavenly, light but chewy rolls. If you have a food processor, this recipe is the way to go. The only drawback is that you are limited to 12 rolls per batch. And sometimes when I make cinnamon rolls, I like to make cinnamon rolls. I like to mix up a giant batch and take a dozen to a friend. But I can have that with option 2.

No-rise cinnamon rolls: Get the recipe here, found via here.

no rise cinnamon rolls


092909garlandfrom here

As I’ve mentioned before, I think a garland, or something garland-ish, is a perfect birthday surprise. And with all the beautiful garland pics floating around out there, you knew it was only a matter of time before I’d have to share them here. Following are a few of my favorites.

4 pretty garlandfrom here

9 postcard

from here via here

circle garland

from here via here

the confetti stystem

from the confetti system home page via here

5 awesome garlandfrom here

10 a1lights

from here

yellow flower garland

from here

crocheted garland

from here

garland on linenavailable here, found via here

11 birthdaybanner6

from here

8 6a00e54f31f9e78833011168a7a685970c-500wi

from here via here

7 triangle garlandBLOGfrom here

2 lovely garlandfrom here

1 pretty garland

from here via here


from here via here

3 lovely garlandfrom here via here

DIY flower garland(UPDATE 10.8.09) from here

garland 2(UPDATE 10.13.09) from here

garlandfrom here

wedding-pinwheel-ideas garland1

from here

-fall garland-800wi

UPDATE 11.2.09: from here

happy birthdya bannerUPDATE 11.13.09: from here

cupcake liner garlandUPDATE 12.04.09: get the tutorial here

-folded garlandIMG_3343UPDATE 12.7.09: available here

UPDATE 07.02.10: tutorial here


A few bits of thoughtfulness I’ve read about or been privileged to receive lately.


When my parents came to visit, my dad brought bags of bulbs from his garden. Daffodils and tulips. He got to work tucking them away in little spots around my yard so, come spring, I’ll be looking out my window to see some of the same flowers he’ll see from his.

Amber from Where the Wildings Are had a husband appreciation day. She put balloons all over the house, each one with a note tied to it of why she appreciates him.

Anna of Hey Bubbles took morning tea to a family just moving in.

Jo-Ann of Pumpkin Petunia surprised her kids with flags skewered into their school lunches.

Jenn from ambrosia girl had a friend stop by with pizza and treats from a favorite bakery.

On Oh, Hello Friend, Tina of Happy Tape recounted when she gave her husband a book of 40 haiku poems from people who loved him as a gift when he turned 40.

Emily of Wide Open Spaces found the love stamp for each year with her husband, and made it into a wall art.


Brent chasing cowsChasing the cows back home.

We have one neighbor who has made the country extra hospitable for us. He taught us much of what we know about cows and has been very patient when our cows wind up in his pasture, and very helpful in chasing them home. We just found out he’d gone through surgery and were trying to think of a nice little something we could drop off to say we were thinking of him. We decided on locally grown strawberries and home-made wheat waffle mix.

breakfast care packageThis waffle mix is a long-time favorite of our family. In fact, one year we gave it out as our Christmas treat. It’s nice to have in the freezer for that morning when you wake up wanting a serious breakfast without too much work.

Homemade Wheat Waffle Mix
2 1/4 cups wheat flour (home-grind it for some serious wheaty goodness)
3/4 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup shortening or butter, room temperature
1/4 Tbsp. salt

Sift wheat flour and baking powder into bowl (sometimes we intentionally forget to sift). Add sugar and salt. Cut in shortening or butter using pastry cutter, two knives, or your food processor.

Here are the directions to give along with your waffle mix.

Homemade Wheat Waffle Mix (keep in freezer)

Wheat Waffles
2 cups mix
2 Tbsp. oil
1 egg
1 cup milk

Wheat Pancakes
2 cups mix
1 egg
1 cup milk

homemade wheat waffle mix




One of the first blogs I ever loved is this one (check out the J. Press ties posted today). The posts on her blog and the letterpress design in her shop are just right, never overburdened with details, just the simple essentials that cheer me up most.

cupcake-bakery-box-letterpressHer recent posts have got me thinking about cupcakes and flower bouquets, two never-fail ways to brighten anyone’s day. I think her letterpress cupcake boxes are the perfect cupcake delivery vessel. And I was just admiring her mailing labels, which got me thinking, does anyone else agree these two would make a great match? (flower arrangement tutorial via Martha)

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We’re off to the train station to pick up great Grandma and Grandpa for a weekend stay. My wonderful Grandma always does the sweetest thing. She (the guest) brings us (the hosts) sandwiches to lunch on while we drive home. Grandma is the culminated masterpiece of a lifetime of homemaking, and her sandwiches show it, roast beef on rye or chicken salad on a croissant. Mmm. I love all her specialties.

bento-picnics-sandwiches-for-kidsThe picture above is from an adorable blog I found via foodgawker called Adventures in Bento Making. (I’m a major picnic nerd, so discovering bento has been a dream come true.) Make sure to stop by, she has some very cool compositions.


I have a little sister, still in high school, who I would love to sit down with over a cupcake. But since she’s in Idaho and I’m in Cali, I figured a cupcake care package was the next best thing.

cupcake-care-packagebaker-gift-basketThe tip I sent, and use for my own cupcakes piled high with buttercream, is the Wilton 4B tip, which I picked up at Michael’s. But I would love to stock up on a few others.

cupcake-decorator-frosting-pastry-tipsrow 1: star giant pastry tip & closed star giant pastry tip
row 2: round giant pastry tip & french giant pastry tip, all from bake it pretty

And if you’d like to send a little ready-made buttercream, here is a recipe that shouldn’t spoil in the mail (or for less weight, send just the dry ingredients, which lets your cupcake maker use some butter instead of shortening or add some whipped cream).

Mailable Buttercream Icing
(altered from Wilton’s Snow-White Buttercream Icing)
makes 7 cups

2/3 cup water
2 Tbsp meringue powder
10 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortning
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp butter flavor (or add more vanilla)
3/4 tsp almond extract
2–3 Tbsp. light corn syrup or water

Combine water and meringue powder. Whip at high speed until peaks form. Add 4 cups of the sugar, one at a time, beating at low speed after each addition. Althernately add shortning and remaning sugar. Add salt and flavorings. Beat at low speed until smooth. This will create a thick icing. Continue to beat and add 2-3 Tbsp water or corn syrup to make icing thin enough to pipe on cupcakes.