S’mores Brownies | Adventures in Pinterest

Are you ready for this month’s Adventures in Pinterest?

We would love for you to play along with us. What’s that mean? Well… 1. Did you pin something on Pinterest this month? 2. Did you make that something? 3. If yes, we want to see it!

If you are a blogger, write a post about it and link up below using our super easy linky tool. But hey, do us a favor and add our Adventures in Pinterest button in your post.

If you’re not a blogger, share your photos with me! You can post them on my Facebook page and use #AdventuresInPinterest.

Now for April’s project: Inside Out S’mores Bars

I pinned this original pin from Tablespoon just a couple of nights ago to my S’mores board. I love S’mores but I hate a campfire. It probably has something to do with being whipped across the face with a hot metal hanger at a beach bonfire when I was a kid. Woah, PTSD.

inside out smores brownie

These Inside Out S’mores Bars looked easy enough to make on a Sunday afternoon. I scrolled through the 900+ comments on the original recipe post for any suggestions or tips from those who had come before me. Many commented that they didn’t have enough brownie mix or that the brownies didn’t cook all the way through. Extra brownie mix and extra cooking time: check.

The original recipe called for a 9×13 glass baking dish. But, I make all my brownies in my totally-awesome-you-wish-you-had-one Baker’s Edge Brownie Pan.

brownie pan

I followed the directions just as Tablespoon suggested. I bought two boxes of brownie mix like many of the comments said but one family sized box was plenty.

brownie pan with smores bars

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Oh, those stinking graham crackers. I thought they would fit  perfectly in my super-awesome-brownie-pan but they were a smidge too wide. A quick trim with a sharp knife took care of that problem.

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“I’m not the prettiest but I sure will taste good!” Said in your best Real Housewives voice.

My kitchen sure smelled like brownies and nothing like s’mores. The marshmallow completely melts into the top layer of the brownie making it a little bit sticky (as well as giving the appearance that they aren’t fully cooked). They were tasty but I was really hoping for some of that toasted marshmallow gooey-ness. The graham cracker middle makes it extra dry.

smores brownie bar tablespoon

smores brownie bar

smores inside out brownie

On a whim, I decided to throw a few extra marshmallows on top and under the broiler for a few minutes. Now this gave me that toasty flavor I was initially hoping for. In the end, a yummy and easy dessert but not really a s’more. Want a laugh? You’ve gotta read the guesses on my Facebook page about what I was making. Hilarious!

smores brownie with marshmallow

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Hanging Mason Jar Planters | Adventures in Pinterest

Last month, my husband and I headed north to Los Angeles to see the Book of Mormon. We caught a pre-show dinner at Stella Barra Pizzeria on Sunset Blvd. where we shared some amazing pizza, got a glimpse of Kelly Taylor’s dad, and spied some adorable mason jar planters.

In between bites of my butternut squash pizza, I declared, “That’s what I’m making for my next Adventures in Pinterest!”

mason-jar-reclaimed-wood

I hit Pinterest and apparently everyone loves a mason jar planter. It never dawned on me to use a mason jar for plants. Candy, yes? Plants, no. There were tons of cute DIY projects. I knew I wanted to use succulents and I knew I wanted to use some reclaimed wood I had been saving from a tree box.  I came across this hanging mason jar and jumped in on my own version.

materials-mason-jar-planter

Get yourself some wide mouth mason jars from your craft store. I got mine for less than $2 each at Hobby Lobby. Swing by your favorite hardware store and grab a couple of pipe clamps from the plumbing section, a bag of natural coarse sand, a few itty bitty sized succulent or house plants, and a bag of potting mix (not pictured).

succulents-mason-jar

I chose two 4 oz. sized succulents and one small indoor house plant. I don’t have the greenest thumb and knew I probably would be able to keep a few succulents alive. That asparagus fern? I don’t have high hopes.

pipe-clamp-for-mason-jar-hanging-planter-project

Pipe clamps come in a variety of sizes. Truth? It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to make them smaller. I thought I had to loosen the screw and adjust it like a belt. Turns out, you just turn the screw clockwise and it moves along the tracks making the clamp smaller and smaller.

how-to-make-a-hanging-mason-jar

You’ll definitely need some sort of natural draining system for the bottom of your planter otherwise the water that isn’t absorbed by the roots of the plant will pool at the bottom of the jar. I hope this natural coarse sand will work.

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My sidekick wanted to help. Actually, she had a blast putting the planters together. This is a great spring project to work on with your kiddos.

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We completely guessed on how much coarse sand will work for proper drainage. This part is a total experiment and I’ll keep up posted on how it goes.

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Layer your potting mix over the coarse sand. Did you know there is a difference between potting mix and top soil? Potting mix is formulated to hold the correct amount of moisture in a container. Top soil is made to be mixed with native soil. Learn more here from Scotts Miracle Grow.

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Pop in your itty bitty plants and fill around with potting mix. Shake off any excess soil and don’t forget to water!

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Now what I thought would be the hardest part: breaking down the old tree box to get one plank of wood. We had a birch tree planted last fall and I’ve been keeping the tree box for some unknown DIY project. I love the rustic look of reclaimed wood!

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It was pretty easy to pry the pieces apart with the back of a hammer. Photo by my 6 year old sidekick.

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Now for the hardest part which required an additional trip to Lowes. I thought a sharp nail and hammer would be enough to poke through the metal clamp so to attach it to the wood plank. Those pipe clamps are pretty sturdy. My husband picked up a special drill bit to drill a tiny screw hole into the back of the clamp. All that was left was to attach the clamps to the wood plank and slide the mason jars into the clamps.

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Are you wondering why I have this gorgeous new hanging mason jar planter propped up on a bed of grass? The reclaimed wood is so crazy soft and the filled mason jars are sort of heavy that we couldn’t get a hanger to stay secured in the wood. We did try though and hung it on our gate for about 5 seconds to snap the photo below. Right now, it is sitting on my outdoor fireplace looking pretty and waiting for it’s permanent home.

hanging-mason-jar-planter

This is a non-sponsored post. But hey…call me Scotts Miracle Grow, Hobby Lobby or Lowes Improvement Store if you want to work on a project!

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Yarn Hair Extensions for Kids | Adventures in Pinterest

My daughter is obsessed with adding a little flair to her tresses. It started last summer when she saw a commercial for Hot Huez. Well, those things are a hot mess and quickly ended up in the trash when blue chalk and messy hands met my bathroom walls. Then for her birthday last month, we took her to Studio Disney 365 in Downtown Disney for an up-do cemented into the shape of a bow. She was stoked on the pink and blue hair extensions they used and has begged to wear them in her ponytail every day since.

Last weekend, I saw this photos from @myfaveverything on Instagram and knew they would be perfect for my girl and this month’s Adventures in Pinterest!

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So, you’ll see Shanna commented on her IG photo that the yarn hair extensions were a Pinterest find. She credits this blog post from A Beautiful Mess for the inspiration. I still haven’t been able to find it on Pinterest though!

I hit my local craft store for yarn. I don’t knit or crochet but figured it would be easy to find some yarn for this adventure. Well, I learned quickly that the ball of yarn I got was really too thin to make much of an impact once the hair was braided. It was cute but not enough pizzaz.

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A quick run back to the craft store to get thicker yarn plus I had another idea!

I grabbed another ball of bright, multicolored yarn but still not exactly what I was looking for. I really wanted some old school yarn. Maybe I should have checked the craft section?

Since this new yarn was a little thicker, I only tied in five pieces instead of six.  I loved how bright and funky this version was!

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There’s not much to it: separate the top ⅓ of the hair with a clip, tie the yarn across the mid-section of the hair close to the root (you can add as many ties as you want but my daughter has really fine hair so I was only able to get in five or six ties). Remove clip, lay hair on top of yarn pieces and gently braid hair.

Now for my hair brained idea! How much does your daughter love the movie Frozen? My idea was to tie in white pieces of yarn to create Anna’s signature white streak of hair! Here’s the thing…my hair styling skills are atrocious and I’m sure someone far craftier could create a way better version of this but my girl was over the moon pretending to be Anna!

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The idea is the very same here except you tie the yarn to only one side of the head above the right ear. Initially, I tied in two pieces but as I started to braid the hair, my daughter pointed out that it was too much and that Anna’s white streak was far more subtle. So, I just used one piece of yarn this time around.

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She had a blast being silly in Anna’s braids and then in a her coronation day hair style.

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Want to share your Pinterest adventure from this past month (or any month)? You can link up here.

Rules (because there always has to be rules)

  • Link directly to your post, not your homepage.
  • Be sure to visit at least two other Adventures in Pinterest projects and give them your support (comment, pin, tweet).
  • Feel free to link up more than one post during the month. Posts should be somehow inspired by Pinterest but it’s not required that you speak to that in the post itself.
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Bacon Ranch Dip

My friends know apps.

I can always count on Jenni to bring her killer buffalo chicken dip and Lauren’s green avocado salsa is a summer staple during our annual desert trip. I’ve tried making both but neither ever turn out. So, I just bring the wine.

Gina slayed our Super Bowl get together, though, with her bacon ranch dip. In fact, that day, she brought over the dip but also mini grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. Cute idea, right?

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I haven’t had a chance to make Gina’s awesome bacon ranch dip yet. I’m sure I’ll screw it up anyhow. But you should definitely make it and eat it with your friends this weekend. Or on the couch in front of a marathon of Vanderpump Rules. No judgement here.

Bacon Ranch Dip
 
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces Sour Cream
  • 1 Package of Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 2 ounces Finely Chopped Cooked Bacon (you can use Bacon Bits or similar)
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheese
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Gina served the dip with SunChips Sweet & Spicy BBQ chips which were maybe the best SunChip I’ve ever had. Have you tried them? I haven’t seen these at my grocery store. Send me a bag if you find one, mkay?

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with Beer

I have earned myself a reputation that I don’t make dinner for my family. This isn’t entirely true, but I also don’t argue with my neighbor when she gives me a hard time for never cooking. I am simply just a poor planner.  This time of year – from February to late May – after school commitments keep us away from home and me out of the kitchen even more so.

Throughout the next few weeks, I’m challenging myself to make more meals at home with the help of a slow cooker. I have a few favorite slow cooker recipes that I’ll be sharing with you but I also plan to make some of the dishes I’ve already pinned to my Slow Cookin’ Pinterest board.

First up: Beer Brisket

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I’ve made this beef brisket several times and I always make way too much. However, the leftovers make really yummy brisket sandwiches and for that reason I usually make it towards the end of the week so that we can have sandwiches during the weekend.

Beef Brisket with Beer
Author: 
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (3-pound) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 2 chopped parsnips
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (12-ounce) light beer
Instructions
  1. Season brisket with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add brisket to pan and cook for 10 minutes, browning on all sides.
  4. Remove brisket from pan.
  5. Add water to pan to loosen browned bits.
  6. Add sliced onion and parsnips.
  7. Saute until vegetables are tender.
  8. Place onions, parsnips, vinegar, bay leaf and beer in slow cooker.
  9. Place browned brisket on top of mixture.
  10. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  11. Discard bay leaf, slice brisket and serve with sauce.

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? I would love for you to leave me a link in the comments to either your Pinterest board or blog post!

Valentine Garland

Did you know that in the Middle Ages, men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear the names on their sleeves for one week. It’s where the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve” comes from. (source: SheKnows.com)

For this month’s Adventures in Pinterest, I set out to make some hearts of my own. I originally pinned this pin to my classroom room parent board. When I went back to grab it for this month’s project, I realized it didn’t have written instructions – just photos. Yikes. My brain doesn’t work without written instructions – regardless of how easy the project is.

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Don’t do the following:

I bought a pack of 12 x 12 of adorable valentine-themed scrapbooking paper from Target. I thought it would make for some pretty darling Valentine garland but the backside of the scrapbooking paper is white and when you bend the hearts into the shapes, you see a lot of white. Plus, the scrapbooking paper (see below) is really heavy which stretched the hearts into a shape like a teardrop. Grr…it’s ok. Saving that paper for another Valentine’s Day project.

valentine-garland

Luckily, we had a pack of 8 x 11.5 red construction paper.

Supplies:
8 x 11.5 construction paper in any color
pencil
ruler
scissors
stapler and staples

1. Use the ruler to mark 1 inch strips on the paper.
2. Cut the paper into 1 inch strips.
3. Place two strips of paper on top of each other. Staple the two piece together at the bottom of the strip.
4. Bend each strip back and join the two ends together. You should have a heart shape. If you don’t, watch this You Tube tutorial because obviously my instructions blow.
5. Don’t staple the ends together, yet.
6. Take two more strips of paper and place the bottom of the heart in between the two strips. Staple.
7. Bend the two loose strips back into a heart shape and repeat.

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This was a really fun project. Things what would have made it so much easier: a paper cutter to cut the 1-inch strips. I am planning on making a few more valentine garland strands to hang from the fireplace mantle and door frames, like mistletoe!

Take a few minutes to see what my bloggy friends made this month: Anna, Megan, and Jess. If you want to play along, link up at MamaBub this month!

Chocolate Smoothie Granita

It has been almost a week since I started the 21 Day Sugar Detox. It hasn’t been too difficult but I also haven’t been 100% perfect in cutting out all things sugar either. An unexpected $500 vet bill lead me to the neighboring cupcake bakery and a movie night with my husband called for candy. Both left me feeling downright awful.

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Cutting out bread and pasta? No problem. It’s desserts that are my weakness.

Then I stumbled onto the Coco-Monkey Smoothie recipe in the 21 Day Sugar Detox book (see recipe below). The recipe calls for basic smoothie ingredients like a frozen banana and almond milk. It also calls for 1/4 avocado. I love avocados but wasn’t sure how I’d like it in my smoothie.

Let me tell you: It was off-the-charts good. It was like eating a decadent chocolate ice cream. The best part was it was dairy-free. I don’t eat dairy at all and this was satisfying every single part of my ice cream cravings. When I told a friend that it was just as good as ice cream, she suggested freezing the smoothie to see if it would set up like regular ice cream. So, that’s what I did.

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I followed the original recipe as directed and then poured the smoothie into a shallow glass dish. The next afternoon, I decided to treat myself. The dessert was frozen solid. I had to let it sit out a good 30 minutes before I could get the ice cream scoop into it. Once slightly softened, the texture was similar to a chocolate smoothie granita instead of an ice cream. It had a coarse, flaky texture but was still equally delicious. If you prefer a creamier dessert, stick to the original smoothie recipe.

I’d love to know if you try this Coco-Monkey Smoothie turned Granita-ish dessert!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Coco-Monkey Smoothie
Author: 
 
Dairy-free, low sugar smoothie
Ingredients
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 green-tipped banana, frozen
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • small handful of ice
Instructions
  1. Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

 

Adventures in Pinterest: December

I swear Adventures in Pinterest has really changed the way I pin things now. I am no longer mindlessly re-pinning. I pin with intention – mostly. I also pin for engagement (but that’s a whole different story and one you will eventually hear about). Anyway…on to this month’s projects!

Adventures-Pinterest

December has been prime for pinning, hasn’t it? Admittedly, I am beyond ready for something in my feed that is not a Christmas cookie or decoration. However, today’s projects are both Christmas related.

First up: Addressing Holiday Cards

Here’s the original pin and related post from Nest of Posies.  I loved the handwriting, vintage postage stamps and washi tape. I would be excited to get this card in the mail! It makes me want to see what’s inside. Love.

addressing-christmas-cards

Here’s my version:

addressing-christmas-cards

This was actually kind of fun. I prefer to hand address my holiday cards and dressing up the envelope with washi tape and funky handwriting made it less of a painstaking task.

Second: Holiday Treat Gifts

Here is the original pin and related post from Catered Crop. Though the original pin features the paper tag, I was drawn to what was inside the mason jar. We have several family friends with allergies and I thought a jar full of non-chocolate, peanut-free candies was a great gift alternative.

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Here’s my version. Ok, not rocket science but definitely just as cute.

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So, what did you make this month? Add a link below. If you aren’t a blogger but want to play along, you can post your photo to my Facebook page!

Five Ways to Use a Keurig

I like the simple things in life: a good book, a freshly baked cookie, and a great cup of coffee.

Let’s talk about that cup of coffee. We got on the single cup brew train some time ago. It was first with the Tassimo and only because at the time, they were selling Starbucks pods exclusively. Well, that contract ended and Keurig started distributing Starbucks K-Cups. What do you think we did? Yep, we ditched that Tassimo and got ourselves our first Keurig. Because STARBUCKS.

I say first because our original died out on us. I can’t remember what happened exactly. Something with the water reservoir. Anyway, Keurig replaced it for free. Our current one is starting to get a little loud. Those who have one are probably familiar with that laboring sound it makes. It’s funny…in the mornings, I usually feel like what it sounds like! Anyway, I think I remember the Brew Over Ice reps telling me at BlogHer that the newer Keurig models are quieter.

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I thought I’d ask on my Facebook page for suggestions on what to do with the Keurig and what their favorite K-Cups are. Here’s five really cool ways to use your Keurig.

· Mary wrote that she uses the Keurig to make hot tea. I don’t know why it never dawned on me to brew hot water! I make hot tea using tea bags at least three or four times a week and I always microwave – which I don’t love doing – my water. This is a game changer for me.

· I’m not a Cup O’ Noodles fan but a lot of people use the Keurig to make instant soups and ramen noodles. Know a college student living in a dorm? They live on that stuff, don’t they? How awesome would one of the smaller Keurig models be for just that.

· Instant oatmeal on busy mornings? Boom. Promise you’ll think of me tomorrow when you are making your breakfast.

· Maybe the most brilliant of answers came from Charity. As a new mom to twin babies, she would brew hot water to warm bottles! And then she mentioned that when she needs really hot water, fast, to clean up a sticky mess…guess where she gets it? Yep, the Keurig.

So while we might be Starbucks snobs in this house, I do occasionally buy different K-Cups to try. I really like Green Mountain Coffee’s Hawaiian Blend and Dunkin’ Donuts, especially their seasonal flavors like Pumpkin. And I love the Celestial Seasonings Brew Over Ice Black Tea (which is exceptionally hard to find for some reason). Because you did know you can make iced tea with the Keurig too, right?

Natalie shared that Trader Joe’s is now selling K-Cups that are pretty tasty and that Donut Shop is one of her favorite go-to coffees. My friend Anna says she especially likes Green Mountain Coffee’s Wild Blueberry in her Bulletproof Coffee recipe (for the no-sugar, Paleo crowd).

Tell me how you use your Keurig if you don’t use it for coffee!

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Five Tips to Baking Perfect Biscotti

I am still dreaming about the delicious chocolate chip biscotti a friend dropped on my door step the other night. Yes, those are them in the photo below! Perfectly crisp along the top with a little spring in the middle. I totally dunked them in a big ol’ cuppa coffee and it was heavenly.

So, I started thinking about making my own batch of biscotti. We’re hosting a small holiday party at our home next week with an outdoor activity. I have an idea to create a hot chocolate bar and I think a batch of biscotti might be a perfect addition to the other sweets I have planned. Here’s some tips on how to bake the perfect biscotti.

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1. It seems like anything goes when it comes to biscotti. Traditional flavors include Almond, Hazelnut, and Chocolate Chip. But how about Bacon Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Dipped Salted CaramelCornmeal Biscotti with Cranberries and Pistachios, or this savory Rosemary Walnut Biscotti sounds good too. Gotta love this Starbucks hack of their Spiced Chocolate Biscotti.

2. In Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, it is suggested to line the slices on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. This allows air to circulate around the biscotti during the second round of baking and eliminates the need to flip the slices.

3. Don’t over mix your biscotti dough. You want to knead it until it just comes together. If the dough becomes difficult to handle, you can refrigerate it for an hour and then try again to knead and shape it. If using a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, it is highly recommended that you use the slow mixing option (or speed 2).

4. Always use a cool baking sheet otherwise your dough will spread before it starts to bake.

5. Biscotti shelf life is exceptionally long, especially if they are dried out enough in the second round of baking. Make them ahead of time and they will keep until you wrap them up and deliver them to your friends!