These cookies are gooey and soft on the inside, with a crisp crunch of sugar on the outside. They look fancy without any frosting or extra leg work. They are spicy sweet. Sometimes I add chopped candied ginger for another texture. I love bringing them to a party because they are gone almost instantly and everyone wants the recipe. (It’s from a back issue of Real Simple, fyi.) But I love it so much, I thought it would be fun to illustrate. Print it and add it to your recipe collection if you like! 

I recently saw an add for a magnetic make-up palate and it struck me as a fun DIY to attempt.

Here’s how I did it.

You will need:
Makeup in containers- I used eyeshadows.
Something to pry the pans loose with- either a screwdriver, or a finer tool like a pocket knife blade.
A container to put the loose pans in- I used a Cavallini & Co. Sticker box
A hot glue gun

First, pry the make up pans loose from their containers. It may take several tries to loosen them.

Pull them out.
Arrange them into a pleasing pattern. (Don’t they look cooler already? It reminds me of a painting!)
Assemble the pans into a pleasing pattern in the tin.
Use a bit of hot glue to adhere them in place. (Since both the tin and the pan are metal, you can move them around if you’d like later.)
I added a few shadow applicators from the drugstore.
Ta da! I love how this has lightened the load in my make up bag. Plus, now I can see the whole spectrum of color I have to work with when I put on my makeup in the morning. What fun! Be sure to let me know how your palate turns out.

Here is a wonderful simple, elegant, easy DIY gift just in time for Christmas. It takes a bit of a head start, which is why I’m posting this tutorial now! Want to play elf with me? You will need:

Glass containers- mine are drinking glasses from the thrift store, costing around .50 cents a piece.
River Rocks- this container of smooth black pebbles from Target was $6.00
A big lucky bamboo plant you can cut starters from, or buy small potted ones.
Clean glass containers you can sprout your starter in.
First, cut snips off the big bamboo plant at the “joint” or knuckle of the bamboo plant. Put the starter in a glass of clean water for 1-2 weeks until you see white roots beginning at the base. I used 3 starters for each of my final gifts.
Put a few river rocks in the base of your container.
Holding the starter plants upright, fill container with rocks around it until the plants are solidly supported.

Add water and perhaps a gift tag with care instructions and you’ve got a thoughtful, inexpensive gift for a co-worker or hostess.

Care instructions are simple: when water level diminishes, re-fill your lucky bamboo plant. Periodically, you may want to remove plant and stones and wash them thoroughly before repotting and refreshing the water.

Just after I finished shooting this tutorial- a tiny lizard took up residence! Pretty nice digs, huh?
Do you have any great DIY Christmas Gift ideas? I’d love to hear suggestions- thanks to my new job at an elementary school there are a lot of folks on my list this year.

I love the look of Mercury Glass and I thought I’d try my hand at making my own faux version to use as votive candle holders. To give this project a whirl, you will need:

Metallic Spraypaint
Misting Spray Bottle of Water
Recycled Paper
A glass vase or drinking glass
First, line the outside of the glass with the paper, taping it closed and trimming away the excess.
Next, spray the inside of the clean glass object with a fine mist of water. Don’t be shy- the mist will make the spraypaint look mottled and antiqued- just what we’re after.
Working quickly, lightly coat the inside of the glass with the metallic spray. Let dry overnight.
Voila! You’ve just created a beautiful antiqued centerpiece for your holiday table! Now, wasn’t that easy?
What have you been making lately?

When I saw this dilapidated little church cardboard Putz church, I knew I had my next Before & After Project! It’s so sweet, but so bedraggled looking. All the stained glass windows had been bashed in and it was looking rather grubbby.

I gently pried everything apart, gave it a fresh coat of paint and a new dusting of superfine mica glitter…
I also glued vintage fabric into the windows so that the church will cast a soft glow when lit with twinkle lights. (There’s a little hole in the back to put a light inside.)
Some fresh bottle brush tree landscaping and it was complete. What do you think? If you’d like to add it to your collection, you can snap it up here. Have you started thinking about the holidays yet? They aren’t all that far off, are they?

Oprah’s version…

My friend Gwen and I trade magazines when we are through with them- I hand over my “Real Simple” and she gives me her “O Magazine”. I’ve been on a huge velvety chocolate kick lately that has included this amazing bananna graham cracker chocolate icebox cake and these chocolate truffles, so I when I saw this recipe, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Wowza. It was divine.
My version!
I skipped the gold flakes (We can’t all garnish our desserts with precious metals Oprah!) but purchased some exquisite candied orange peels from The End Piece on Etsy. If I were making this recipe again, I think I’d add a bit more Grand Marnier, or perhaps add it nearer the end since the orange flavor got a bit overwhelmed by the chocolate. But wowie, the texture was so light and airy, yet so rich and velvety. Mmmm! Have you tried any new recipes lately?

There is nothing like fresh flowers to lend a sense of occasion to a party, but buying them from a florist can be prohibitively expensive. I thought I’d take a moment to show you how simple it is to make your own. I bought fresh bouquets from the farmer’s market for $15, supplemented them with a few cut leaves from my backyard, oasis from a craft store and used containers I had on hand to make my own for a total cost of $20 and about 45 minutes of my time. Here’s how I did it!

You will need:

Floral Foam: Available at craft stores, make sure to get the kind for fresh flowers, not silk.
Waterproof Floral Tape: Also available at craft stores.
Sharp Scissors
Exacto or other sharp knife
Containers: the sky is the limit! Tea tins, terra cotta pots, even a pretty bowl can all look great. Just make sure it’s waterproof.
Fresh Flowers
First, trim your floral foam
To fit your container.
Next, anchor the floral foam with waterproof floral tape.
You may find it helpful to create a grid to help with your arranging too.
Next, fill sink with water…
Leave your container submerged for 25 to 30 minutes to allow the foam to soak up water. This helps keep your flowers hydrated. Make sure your bouquets are in water while you wait too!
Now the fun part! Start adding flowers. I like to start with the largest blooms, giving each one a fresh cut just before I plunge it into the floral foam. It helps to add one kind of flower at a time. Here, I began with pincushion protea first…
Then added sunflowers…
Then gladiolas, ginger, and finally I filled in the remaining gaps with greenery.
Here are the completed centerpieces.
If you water these every day like a houseplant, they will last about a week.
Add some white tablecloths, candle light, great food and lovely company and you’ve cooked up a beautiful party! Enjoy!

It was a week long project filled with far too many “whoops-I-forgot-that!” trips to the limited craft shops here in Kona and a some eye strain induced headaches, but in the end the pillows turned out beautifully. The blue and green ones are headed to Kristin’s house, which I’ll post photos of as soon as we finish gussying it. P.S) How Lily Pulitzer is the vibe we’ve got going here?