Cupcake wrappers – Free Silhouette Download!

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I realize I’ve been sitting here with all these files on my computer, and I haven’t bothered sharing them! I’ll be a little bit better about that in the future. ;) Here you go, two different kinds of cupcake wrappers! They’re sized to fit standard cupcakes. If you need them for larger or smaller cupcakes, you can resize.

Download Scalloped Cupcake Liner

Download Scalloped Lacey Liner

The big Facebook debate (and why aren’t people seeing my posts?)

Facebook is a fantastic way of monitoring blog fans, sharing posts with fans, and seeing posts from other blogs and businesses I like. Well, it used to be. Did you know that you’re not seeing tons of posts from pages that you’ve liked? How would you know that you’re not seeing them, you don’t even miss them!

Facebook has a handy little spot on each one of my pages to see who I’m reaching. The most recent post that I made on Facebook was only seen by 135 people. 135 out of the 1591 people who have liked my blog page. That’s less than 10 percent! Now what is the point of liking a page if you’re probably not going to see the posts. Most of the time that I “like” a page is when I’m reading through a blog and love it, so I click the “like” page on the side of the blog, so that I can see future posts. I then navigate away from the page, and there is a huge chance that I’m never going to see a post from them.

Now you might be wondering why Facebook is doing this. On my end, I can see it quite clearly. There is a big button that says “advertise this post”. It tells me how much I can spend, and how many people I will reach with each chunk of cash. I can advertise the post to people who haven’t like my page at all (yeah, that would be all the random businesses that show up in your newsfeed, and you think, hey, I didn’t like this page!) It seems to be about bringing in money. (A little off topic, but have you recently tried sending a message to someone not on your friends list? A notification pops up telling you that it will automatically go into their “other” folder unless you pay $1 for it to go into their inbox. Who checks their other folder?)

So far with all my googling, I haven’t found a fix for this. The best solution I have for you is this. Add my page to your “interests” list. Here’s how.

Go to my page. If you’re one of the lucky 8.5% of my readers, this post will pop up in your newsfeed and you can work from there. If not, just go to my Facebook page here. Hover over the name.

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Hover over “liked” and select “new list” (unless you already have a list, in which case you can add it to an existing list)

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Choose a name for your new list

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And click done. This should now show up on the left side of your newsfeed, down near the bottom under “Interests”.

I have no idea if the pages you add to your interests actually show up in your newsfeed, but you can click on your list to see all the pages you add to it. I suggest going through all the pages you have liked (you can access that from your profile) and adding them to your interest list. That way on a daily or weekly basis, you can browse through all the new posts from all of your liked pages.

And if anyone has tips on getting these pages to show up in your newsfeed, PLEASE leave suggestions in the comments!

(also, whatever happened to the whole “subscribe” thing? I can’t seem to find an option to subscribe to posts from pages I already “like”)

Another way to see posts from me is to Follow me on Pinterest (the button is on the right side of my blog). I post all of my recipes to my “Crafty Mama Food” board, along with tons of other stuff! You can pick and choose which boards to follow, so that you don’t get weighed down with tons of things that you don’t want to see. Now, this is no substitute for seeing my posts in your newsfeed (especially if I’m only posting something random, like a did a few days ago, instead of a recipe that can be pinned). But I hope it helps!

Reese’s Ice cream cake

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For my birthday, I had my make a special cake, something that I don’t get to have every day. While digging through numerous recipes on Pinterest, I came across this ice cream cake. When it comes down to it, I really only used it for inspiration, and used other recipes.

For the cake, I used this recipe (but used a gluten free box mix so that my daughter could have some).

For the ice cream, I used Bryer’s Reese’s ice cream.

For the icing, I used this Peanut Butter Buttercream recipe.

Instructions:

Bake 2 8-inch rounds. Let them cool, and then slice horizontally, so that you have 4 8-inch rounds.

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Take your ice cream and peel the box away from it. Slice it about 1/4 inch thick.

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Lay down a layer of cake onto your cake plate. Later 1/3 of the ice cream on top of it, following with the cake, until all of the cake and ice cream is gone.

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Place it in the freezer while you make the icing.

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This peanut butter icing recipe was awesome! But I think a nice chocolate buttercream would be pretty good, too.

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Once your ice cream cake has frozen solid, ice it quickly so it doesn’t melt. Add some melted hot fudge on top and chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups, and pop it back in the freezer to chill.

Take out of the fridge 10-20 minutes before serving so it can soften enough to cut.

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White chocolate vanilla oatmeal cookies

Last night I was browsing Food Gawker, with no intent of baking. But then I came across these. Do I have the ingredients? Check. Okay, why am I still sitting here? They were incredibly easy to whip up (well, as easy as a basic cookie recipe, which takes a whopping 5 minutes). I used a large scoop for them (cookies seem to bake up so much better when you make them bigger!). The only change I made was leaving out the cayenne and adding about a tablespoon of cinnamon. I’m usually not a fan of white chocolate, but when it’s paired with the right flavors, it is soooo good!

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Blogging etiquette: sharing photos, recipes, and blog posts

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I would like to address an issue that most of us bloggers deal with. Having our photos stolen and improperly used. This is a huge issue among bloggers lately. Most of it is due to ignorance, laziness, or people just not caring. So I want to contribute to the cause and EDUCATE people on how to properly share a recipe or photo from a blog. I can almost hear my fellow bloggers saying “AMEN!”

I was once a new blogger myself. I remember posting a recipe to my blog, along with the instructions and my own photos. I later received a strongly worded e-mail from the originator of the recipe about me not giving her credit. At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing was incorrect, but I certainly started giving credit afterward! We all start somewhere, and we all make mistakes. The important part is righting our wrongs and changing our ways. Today I am taking a stand, and making my own efforts at educating people on how to give proper credit where credit is due.

Now, of course you must know, there’s a story behind this. In August I made a post about my camouflage cupcakes, along with step by step pictures on how to do it. I pinned it to Pinterest, posted it to Reddit, and before I knew it, it was huge. I’ve see my Camo cupcakes pinned all over pinterest! I love coming across one of my blog posts. Whenever someone links to my post, WordPress gives me a little notice that someone linked to it, and I can go check out their page. Unfortunately, when someone posts my photos, but no link back, I have no clue that they’ve done it. But thanks to some of my lovely followers, it was brought to my attention. Twice this week, I had someone e-mail me about my photo being shared with no link back, no mention of my name, nothing.

One was posted to the Duck Dynasty Facebook page. The person (who I will leave unnamed) posted my photo, along with pasting my entire blog post underneath. Plagiarism at it’s finest. I brushed it off, thinking it was just a little mistake, a case of someone not knowing how to properly share things. But then I saw that it had been shared nearly 34,000 times! Are you kidding me?! If she would have only posted the link to my page, rather than my photo, those 34,000 hits would have been to my page. Ouch.

But I understand, people don’t always understand proper etiquette for sharing.

The other incident was much less forgiving. A person (I will also leave her unnamed, but a large part of me wants to post a link straight to her page so she can receive all the anger I’m feeling right now!) took my photos, saved them to her computer, made a fancy little collage out of them, and then slapped her watermark on it. She then posted the edited photo, along with an exact copy of my recipe and instructions, to her facebook page. One of my valued readers brought it to my attention today. I messaged her, and informed her (in a rather strongly worded fashion, channeling my inner Bree VanDeKamp) that it is NOT okay to take someone’s photos and put your mark on them. I kindly asked her to remove them from her page. She replied in the most dramatic way, saying I was attacking her, it was an honest mistake, and then refusing to take them down and saying “she just doesn’t care”. REALLY?? I can understand making the mistake, I can understand feeling bad about it, but to then refuse to take it down? To not change your ways afterward? THIS IS NOT OKAY. And the sad thing, is that this is happening far too often! Not just with my photos, but tons of photos all over the place! So I will attempt to inform my dear readers, how to properly give credit, and what NOT to do.

What to do:

-If you are making someone else’s recipe, you state where you got it, and post a direct link to the recipe. To get the direct link, go to the post you want, right click on the title of the post, and select “copy link location”. Paste it somewhere in your post. It’s always polite to call the blog by name, but it’s also acceptable to just add the link to the original source.

-If you are making a craft or recipe from another blog, please, post your own photos, along with the recipe and instructions, and a link to where you found it. It’s great to share your own individual experience with the recipe, and note what changes you made or what you’d like to do different.

-If you are NOT making the recipe (or craft), but just want to share it, there are a couple options.

-If you’re sharing it in a blog post, you can post a photo from the original blog, along with a link on where to find the recipe. Please, do not post the photo, along with the recipe and directions. Because then people will come to your blog to get something that isn’t yours, and they have no reason to continue on to the original post. It also gives the impression that it is your own work, and you are sharing it with a LOT of people. Please, just point them in the direction of the original blog. Blog hits are a very important thing to some bloggers! Especially those who are making money off blogging.

-If you are sharing on Facebook or Twitter, post a link to the blog post (right click on the title of the post, and select “copy link location”). This will post a thumbnail of what they’re about to click on, along with the first few words of the post.

-When sharing a link to a specific post, make sure you’re actually in the blog post, not just the blog’s main page. If you share the main page, and someone comes to see the specific post that you thought you linked to, it will be buried under days, weeks, or months of other posts.

-No matter what you’re doing, or who you’re sharing it with, if you’re ever in doubt, post a link to the original post, along with the name of the blog. Trust me, bloggers REALLY appreciate it!

What NOT to do:

-Please, do not take a photo from someone else’s blog and repost without a link.

-Do not take a photo from a blog and post it along with the recipe. People will come to your blog and find the recipe, and they really have no reason to visit the original source after that. If you make the recipe or craft that you’re sharing, post your own photos, along with directions in your own words, sharing your specific experience with that particular craft or recipe. But please also include a link back to the original!

-Do NOT add your watermark to someone else’s photo. It doesn’t matter if you made a pretty little collage from their photos, they are NOT your photos. You have no claim to them, and you have no right to have your name tied to them.

-If you make a recipe or craft, and are inspired by someone else’s work, it’s always polite to link back to the original. It doesn’t matter if you made a few changes to it, it’s common courtesy! Please do not take someone else’s recipe and claim it for your own, especially when it is a unique recipe that you don’t see everywhere.

Bloggers and fellow Internet goers, please, learn from your mistakes! Make the extra effort to give credit to the people who are making these recipes, taking these photos, and sharing their craftiness. I cannot count the amount of times that I have clicked on a pin on Pinterest, only to have it take me to Tumbler or some other website, where there is NO source for the picture. It is maddening, I tell you! Do us all a favor and give credit where credit is due!

With all that said, I’m sure I’ve got plenty of mistakes in the past of my blog. I don’t have the time to go back through every post and track down who inspired it. I do try to give credit with every post, or at least link back to specific recipes. I’m only human, just like all the rest of you, and I’m sure there are times where I completely space out and forget to link back. Though when it is brought to my attention, I’m always happy to fix it.

 

Edit: I just wanted to add after a few comments I received, that you don’t need to worry about any of this if you stick to Pinterest! Pinterest is designed to take you to the original source, so when you pin or re-pin something on Pinterest, there’s no need to link back or to name the blog. Lots of blogs actually have it autofill the pin description with the post’s title and their blog name.

Wholly Guacamole! I mean, salsa.

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Have you tried any of the Wholly Guacamole products? A couple weeks ago my mother in law gave me a tub of salsa to try. It had Mango, Red peppers, and cilantro, and it was really sweet and spicy! I fell in love at first taste. But I couldn’t find it anywhere! I checked a couple of our local grocery stores, but no luck. Well, today I finally went to Kroger. Usually I don’t shop there, but I figured it was a last resort. And guess what? I found it! It was in the produce section, and it was half off because it was near expiration! I bought 3 tubs of it. And yeah, it may very well be GONE before it expires. It’s THAT good.

But apparently cilantro is an acquired taste. The first time I tasted it, I fell in love. The first time I put it in my cooking, my husband hated it. My daughter also hates it, along with my mother in law (hence the reason why she gave me this cilantro filled salsa). It stinks that I can’t share my love of cilantro (along with cilantro filled recipes) with my family, but hey, who am I to complain that I don’t have to share my salsa?

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Homemade bagels (and a couple tips on making a variety from one batch)

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Lately my baking adventures have been taking me places I’ve never been. I’ve made a number of things that I never would have thought to make before. Last week I made a batch of homemade bagels for the first time. YUM. I used this recipe. They weren’t too terribly hard, especially if you’ve already got experience making homemade breads, or if you’ve made pretzels. They’re actually quite similar to pretzels. This difference, I think, is that you don’t add baking soda to the water with bagels, and you boil bagels longer than you would boil pretzels. Most of the process is the same. I’ve made my share of breads and pretzels, so these really weren’t too difficult! I won’t go through the entire step by step process, because you can find that in the recipe above, but I will give some tips and advice.

I followed the recipe linked to above, and then split my dough into 8 pieces. To make different flavors out of one batch of bagel dough is actually a lot easier than you might think! All you have to do is mix your ingredients right in. I suggest dividing your dough before mixing anything in though, because it can sometimes get a little crazy if you try mixing it in too soon (especially with wet ingredients like blueberries).

Divide your dough into 8 pieces (or more, or less, depending on the desired size of bagel). Take your ingredients and mix them in.

Suggested flavors:

Cheddar onion: a handful of shredded cheddar cheese per bagel (plus more to top it with after it boils), a couple pinches of dried onions

Blueberry: a small handful of dried or frozen blueberries (be careful, they can be wet and ruin your dough if you knead them too much. Mix them in just enough so that the berries aren’t exposed, then form your bagel)

Orange cranberry: a little bit of orange zest and a small handful of dried cranberries

Blueberry lemon: a little bit of lemon zest plus some dried or frozen blueberries

Cinnamon raisin: coat the outside of the dough ball lightly with cinnamon, then knead in a small handful of raisins.

Cinnamon sugar: coat the outside of the dough ball with cinnamon, then knead it into the dough. When it’s done boiling, top with a mix of cinnamon and sugar (you can dip the top of the bagel in it, or just sprinkle it on)

From my experience with bagels so far (I’ve been making them at work now, so I’ve gotten a little bit of bagel experience lately!) you don’t want to over-knead once you’ve got your ingredients mixed in. Frozen blueberries will get very messy and cause your dough to fall apart. You want to just barely incorporate them into the dough ball, form your bagel, and then boil it. If you over knead it, the blueberries will start to defrost and cause the dough to get wet and slimy, which is very difficult to work with!

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These are the bagels after the ingredients have been kneaded in and the bagel has been formed. To form the bagels, you can either:

1: roll your dough into a ball. Press it flat, and then poke a hole in the center. Gently stretch the hole in the center until it is larger than a quarter (it will instantly shrink back some)

2: Roll your dough ball into a long rope. Form a ring, overlapping the ends by about an inch. Knead the dough slightly to get it to stick together (or else your bagel will fall to pieces while it boils!)

Once your ingredients have been mixed in and your bagel has been formed, let it rest for about 10 minutes. Pop your bagels into your boiling water for 2-3 minutes, turning halfway through. This can be somewhat tricky to figure out, depending on what flavors you have. If you’re working with small quantities, it might be a good idea to have a different pot for each flavor bagel. The onion bagels will flavor the water, and the blueberry bagels will turn your water black. The cinnamon will also flavor the water a little bit, so if you’re working in one pot for multiple flavors, you may want to think it through before starting!

Once your bagels come out of the boiling water, brush them with butter. This will enhance the flavor and it also helps your toppings to stick.

Once your bagels have been brushed with butter, either sprinkle your toppings on (cheddar, cinnamon sugar, poppy seeds, etc) or you can dunk them right into the toppings (like for cinnamon sugar).

A blueberry bagel after it’s been boiled. It looks rather bloated and unappealing.

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Blueberry bagel after baking. Now THAT looks GOOD!

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I hope my post has given you the inspiration you need to go out and make some bagels! They can be a little tricky, but the reward is delicious!

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas, a little green for St. Patty’s Day!

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This is an old favorite of mine. I saw it a few years ago on Barefoot Contessa, and went out and made it. It’s REALLY good made with fresh basil. I’ve made it so many times that over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe. Lately I haven’t been too into posting full recipes (usually I just post a link to the recipe and a picture of my version), but today I’ll type out the recipe and directions since mine is a little different.

What You’ll Need:

A 12-16 ounce box of pasta (I like bowtie)
2-3 cups Basil leaves (you can use fresh, or you can buy it in a 4 oz. tube)
10 oz. of frozen spinach (defrosted and wrung dry)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove (or 1-2 tsp canned minced garlic)
1/2 cup of mayo
1/2 cup of parmasan cheese
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste

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Cook your pasta, then rinse it under cold water to cool it.

In a food processor, puree the spinach, basil, mayo, oil, and garlic. Mix your basil mixture with your chilled pasta. Add the frozen peas and parmasan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Eat chilled.

If you’re a basil lover, you really need to try this recipe! It’s best made with fresh basil, if you can find a large amount of it for a cheap price! But the tube of basil works just fine if you want to cut out some of the work and cost (though if gives it a slightly different taste). How about that as a little green for your St. Patty’s Day!