May 17, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Wood Fence Photo Frame Display Board~

It's amazing all the things people can make out of old wood. Re-purposing and up-cycling are really popular right now. Wood pallets, wood fence panels, old barns, doors and bed frames are among some of the items that the most creative things have been made from. I was in a Mexican restaurant a few months ago. The bathroom mirror that hung above the sink was made from an old iron gate. It was amazing! I took a picture of it with my phone but the the lighting was so bad that it did not turn out well. I'm sorry, I would have loved to have shared it with you. I even searched all over the Internet trying to find something similar but nothing came even remotely close. Maybe I will visit the restaurant sometime soon and I'll bring my good camera.
Today I'm going to share a Wood Frame Photo Display my hubby made for a close friend of the  family to display their daughter's pictures at their wedding reception. There are many other ways this fun project can be used. I will share a few of my ideas below.
~Wood Fence Panel Photo Display~ PHOTOS for GRADUATION, BIRTHDAY PARTY, FAMILY REUNION, SEATING CHARTS FOR WEDDING, etc.

 ~WOOD FENCE PANEL DISPLAY~

  1. Engagement Party/Wedding Reception- display pictures of bride & groom or it could be used to display a Seating Chart/Table  for the guests at an engagement/wedding dinner or reception.
  2. Birthday Party- display some baby pictures of the guest of honor
  3. Graduation Party- display some pics of the graduate from kindergarten through their school years to graduation. 
  4. Wedding Anniversary- it would be fun to see pics of the couple through the years with some family photos.
  5. Family Reunion- You could make a larger version of this display or have each family decorate their own board.


This video shows you how to make this wood frame from an old fence panel. Some ideas to attach the pictures could be decorative tacks, nails, clips, clipboard, etc. (NOTE: The first part of this video is a voice over because the wind was blowing so loudly I was afraid you may not be able to hear well.) 

May 1, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits & a Fun Gift Basket Idea With Mrs. Field's New Nibbler Cookies~



I've been a fan of Mrs. Field's Cookies for years so when I was asked if I wanted to review their new Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibblers® Cookies, I didn't have to think twice about saying yes. I knew I would like them before I even tasted them and I did! I loved them and so did my boys! I found it kind of comical, actually. I'm sure they had no idea when they asked me, that I was one of Mrs. Field's biggest fans. In fact, I've had a love affair with Mrs. Field's products for more than twenty years! It feels good to let out my secret! :-)

When I was pregnant with my 4th son, I actually craved Mrs. Field's White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies. They are over-sized and soft baked delights. I would buy them from the store and even go so far as to hide them in my night stand so that my hubby and sons couldn't eat them. I recognize that was selfish but a girl needs to protect her chocolate, especially when she's pregnant! 

While I'm confessing, I'll even admit that I've bought Mrs. Field's cookies from the store, unwrapped them and arranged them on a tray so it looks like I made them! I've taken them to church functions and even a baby shower once. Of course when asked, I would let out my little secret but because of the quality of Mrs. Field's products, it is quite easy to get away with it. I've also included them in a hand out with a lesson at church, thank you bags and I've put them in gift baskets for visiting teaching (church members that I visit on a monthly basis.) Sometimes they ask about the cookies and when I confess that they are Mrs. Field's they are pleasantly surprised. I just shared these new Fudge Dipped Nibblers® Cookies with one of the ladies I visit last week! 

So, I'm going to share two ways I used Mrs. Field's new bite-sized cookies. I made cookie and ice cream parfaits (or parfait sundaes) and a gift basket with chalkboard style interchangeable tags for many occasions. I hope they will inspire you to try Mrs. Field's new Fudge Dipped Nibbler cookies! You can find them at your local Kroger stores! Let me give you one last warning or suggestion. These cookies are addicting so take my advice and buy more than one box!
Mrs. Field's New Fudge Dipped Bite-Sized Nibbler Cookie Flavors- soft-baked & addicting!

The new Fudge Dipped Nibblers® Cookies  are soft-baked and bite-sized. They come in 3 different flavors Milk Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chip and Double Chocolate Fudge.
~Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits~

~MRS. FIELD'S NIBBLER 
COOKIE & ICE CREAM PARFAITS~

~Ingredients~
Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibblers® Cookies
Vanilla Ice Cream (change out flavor to go with the different cookies)
Fudge and Caramel Ice Cream Toppings
Whipped Cream
Maraschino Cherries
Candy pieces, sprinkles, nuts, etc. *Fruit is optional but if you want to make these more of a sundae then add bananas, strawberries, marshmallow, etc.

~Directions~
I found these cute plastic glasses at Wal-Mart that I thought would display the parfaits well. The cute little mason jars would be fun for a birthday party or a shower idea.

Start with an empty cup and layer from bottom up (details below)

->10th layer- (crumbled)  Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibblers® Cookie
->9th layer- small squirt or dollop of whipped cream
->8th layer- Fudge ice cream topping (& nuts, sprinkles, fruit, candy)
->7th layer- small squirt or dollop of whipped cream
->6th layer- one small scoop of ice cream
->5th layer- (whole or crumble) Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibblers®
->4th layer- small squirt or dollop of whipped cream
->3rd layer- Fudge ice cream topping (& chopped nuts, fruit, candy)
->2nd layer- one small scoop of ice cream
->Bottom- (whole) Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibblers® Cookie
~Double Chocolate Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits~~Double Chocolate Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits~ 2 other cookie parfait flavors too!
~Chocolate Chip Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits~~2 other cookie parfait flavors too!
~Peanut Butter Chip Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfait~~Double Chocolate Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits~~Double Chocolate Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits~ 2 other cookie parfait flavors too!

Mrs. Field's New Nibbler Fudge Dipped Cookie & Ice Cream Parfaits~~GIFT BASKET IDEA ~
Gift Idea Basket with Cookies, milk jar, straws, napkin, candy, crochet coaster.
Here's a top view of the items in the basket. The items include, a bag full of each of the 3 different flavors of Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibbler Cookies, a cute little jar to fill with milk (I put white gum balls inside to bring out the illusion of milk being inside), striped straws, a napkin and a crochet coaster.
Before pic of Gift Basket with Milk jar, Mrs. Field's Fudge dipped Nibbler Cookies,
To prepare the base or foundation I found a basket, put some of the filler in the bottom since my basket was kind of tall. I put a layer of tissue paper on top of that and then more shredded filler inside. Then I placed the items inside.
Tags for Gift basket with Cookies, jar of milk, Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibbler Cookies, crochet coaster
I paper punched some tags out of black card stock. I also cut some of the frames out of a stack of scrapbook paper I got on sale at Joann. I used a white paint marker to look like chalk and copied the pattern around the outside to make a frame like the others. I made a few different tags to show that you can change out your gift tag for the occasion and for whom you're giving it to! Below are more pictures of the different tags and what they look like.
Father's Day Gift Basket Idea with Mrs. Field's new Fudge Dipped Nibble Cookies, Jar of milk, straw, napkin & candy.

Mother's Day Gift Idea for neighbor, grandma, Mrs. Field's Cookies, milk jar, candy,

Teacher Gift Idea with new Mrs. Field's Nibbler Cookies, milk jar, straws, napkin, crochet coaster.

Gift Idea Basket with Cookies, milk jar, straws, napkin, candy, crochet coaster.

Gift Idea Basket with Cookies, milk jar, straws, napkin, candy, crochet coaster.

Now, I love homemade cookies like the rest of you but why bake when your time is limited and Mrs. Field's cookies are so yummy! These little Nibblers are even better than I expected. Their soft baked, bite-sized goodness left me wanting more! While I have found a limited variety of Mrs. Field's products at other grocery stores, only Kroger has the New Mrs. Field's Fudge Dipped Nibbler cookies as well as a much better variety of Mrs. Field's products. Besides giving them in a gift basket, they are great for lunch box treats, party favors, book club, sports bag snacks after a game or practice or the cookie & ice cream parfaits! Remember, I warned you they left me wanting more so don't just buy one box at the store!

CONNECT WITH Mrs. Fields® ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Mrs. Fields on Facebook 
mrsfields on Twitter 
Mrs. Fields on Pinterest 
Mrs. Fields Google+ 

Apr 30, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Chunky Chevron Crochet Blanket~


This is not only fun but a super easy chevron blanket that even beginners can master! I've tackled some of the more experienced chevron patterns and have often wondered if there was an easier way. So, I decided to make this pattern that is easy enough for beginners or experienced. I've talked to a few other people and they say when they see double crochet 3 together (dc3tog) in a pattern it is a bit overwhelming, especially for beginners or those who are most comfortable staying with patterns on the easy level. 

I have made several other items with this pattern including a scarf, a cowl, a head band and a table runner. This blanket was a gift for a friend's baby at church. I had a lot of fun picking out the the colors because chevron blankets can be made with bold colors. I did notice that in the picture the hot pink looks more like a berry or red in color but in real life it definitely looks hot pink. I also wanted to mention that I love the yarn I used because it's chunky (fatter) and I got to use a larger crochet hook so the blanket went super fast! I hope you will have as much fun with this pattern as I have!

~Chunky Chevron Crochet Blanket- FREE PATTERN Easy enough for beginners! #chevronblanket, #crafty2thecore.com

~CHUNKY CHEVRON CROCHET BLANKET~

~MATERIALS~

~Yarn~ 
Bernat Softee Chunky (or any yarn of your choice)
(Click the red Bernat yarn link above to look at the colors I used in this pattern and the entire assortment of colors in this particular yarn.)

Color A= True Grey (Use Heather Grey if you want a lighter gray than I used.)
Color B= Baby Yellow
Color C= Baby Pink
Color D= Hot Pink
Color E= Seagreen

~Crochet Hook~ 
Size L (11/8.00mm)

~STITCHES USED IN THIS PATTERN~
ch= chain
sk= skip
sl st= slip stitch
dc= double crochet

~PATTERN GAUGE & BLANKET MEASUREMENTS~
This pattern is made with multiples of 13 stitches. 

With this yarn/hook, the gauge for my swatch for the 13 stitches came out to 
4 1/2" in length (3 rows high) x 6" wide (13 dc's). It is always best to make a swatch first before beginning a project.

(Decide how wide you want your blanket and chain multiples of 13. It doesn't matter what size yarn & hook you use with this pattern. You will just need to make a swatch of 13 stitches, measure how wide and tall it is. Once you have those measurements you can figure out how many series of 13 stitches you need to use.

~SPECIAL PATTERN NOTES~

1. The top of the chevron is often referred to as an increase or a "peak" and the lowest part is referred to as a decrease or a "valley".

2. (All rows should end with 1dc in each of the last 5 chains 
\\\\\\|//////oo\\\\\\|////// & it should be making the stitches down toward a valley just as you began the row. The red stitches in the diagram above indicate the 5dc at the beginning and end of the row and how they should look. The green represents the peaks and valleys and the black represents the 5dc's in between.) 

3I made my blanket textured on one side. You can do this by crocheting just in the front or back loop instead of going through both loops of the stitch. Here is a link with tutorials for both.

~FOUNDATION ROW~ 
With Color A, 
Chain 78 (a series of 13 stitches repeated 6 times =78 chains

~ROW 1~
Continue with Color A (True Grey)

Dc in 4th ch from hook (counts as 2dc), 1dc in next 3 chains

(dc, ch1, dc) in next chain (makes first peak), 1dc in each of next 5 chains,
(sk2, 1dc) in next chain (makes first valley), 1dc in each of next 4 chains.

*(dc, ch1, dc) in next chain (counts as next peak), 1dc in each of next 5 chains,
(sk2, 1dc) in next chain (counts as next valley), 1dc in each of next 4 chains, turn work*

Continue pattern by repeating from * to * 4 more times or to end of row if you made you blanket wider.

(Refer to Special Pattern Notes #2 if you aren't sure your first row looks right.)

~ROW 2~
Continue with Color A (True Grey)

Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (dc, ch1, dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * 4 more times or to end of row if you made you blanket wider. 

~ROWS 3, 4, 5~
Continue with Color B (Baby Yellow)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 6, 7~
Change to Color A (True Grey), Repeat pattern from Row 2

~ROWS  8, 9, 10~
Change to Color C (Baby Pink)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 11, 12, 13~
Change to Color D (Hot Pink)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 14, 15~
Change to Color A (True Grey), Repeat pattern from Row 2

~ROWS 16, 17~
Change to Color B (Baby Yellow)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 18, 19~
Change to Color A (True Grey), Repeat pattern from Row 2

~ROWS 20, 21, 22 ~
Change to Color C (Baby Pink), Repeat pattern from Row 2
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 23, 24, 25~
Change to Color E (Seagreen), Repeat pattern from Row 2
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 26, 27~
Change to Color A (True Grey), Repeat pattern from Row 2

~ROWS 28, 29~
Change to Color B (Baby Yellow)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 30, 31~
Change to Color A (True Grey), Repeat pattern from Row 2

~ROWS  32, 33, 34~
Change to Color C (Baby Pink)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 35, 36, 37~
Change to Color D (Hot Pink)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row. 

~ROWS 38, 39~
Change to Color A (True Grey), Repeat pattern from Row 2

~ROWS 40, 41, 43~
Change to Color B (Baby Yellow)
Sl st into the next stitch to the left (2nd dc), ch3 (counts as first dc), 
1dc in each of next 4 dc's, (3dc) in next chain sp, 1dc in each of next 5 chains, sk2 dc's, 1dc in each of next 5 dc's, Turn*

Continue pattern by repeating from to * to end of row.

~BORDER~
I used a single crochet border. Since this blanket has so much going on I didn't want the border to take away from the beautiful pattern. The single crochet border is not only the simplest border but it frames this blanket well.

You will end your last row at the top of your blanket.

Keep in mind that with a chevron pattern, the number of stitches will be different on the top row from the very bottom due to increases and decreases but the sides will both have the same amount of stitches.

~Pattern~
Continue with Color A (True Grey)
Chain 1 and sc all the way  to the end of the row (80 sc's) , chain 2 at the corner and then start down the side of the blanket to end (88 sc's), chain 2 for corner, start your first stitch again on the bottom of the blanket and sc all the ay to the end (74 sc's), chain 2 and crochet down the last side of the blanket to end (88 sc's), chain 2 for corner and sl st in first ch at beginning of border.

I hope my instructions were detailed enough for you  but if not, leave me a message or you can email me at crafty2thecore@gmail.com and I'll be happy to get back with you. 

I hope you will have as much fun with this pattern as I did! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Apr 27, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Fancy Pants Spaghetti Casserole~

I have four boys and one thing my mom warned me about early on was that boys eat a lot. As usual, mom was right. They are always hungry! It's amazing how you can just get the dinner dishes cleaned up and before you can escape the kitchen or shortly after, they're back in there looking for a treat or snack. 

A few years ago, my youngest son asked me what I made for dinner that smelled so good. I told him I made a casserole. He watched me scoop up a hearty helping and put it on a plate for him. A bit puzzled he said, "That looks like spaghetti though." I told him this was a fancy type of spaghetti that was kind of like a mix between spaghetti and lasagna. Then he remarked, "Oh, a fancy pants spaghetti." So today, I'm going to share the recipe for Fancy Pants Spaghetti. 
  
~Fancy Pants Spaghetti Casserole~ a cross between lasagna and spaghetti. Spicy version included too!

~FANCY PANTS SPAGHETTI CASSEROLE~
Prep Time- 20 minutes
Serves 12

Ingredients:
1  1/2 lbs. Ground beef
1 small onion (chopped) optional
8 oz. Mushrooms (sliced) optional
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 small can Tomato paste
1 packet of Lawry's spaghetti seasoning
2 TBSP Tony's Creole Seasoning or a smaller amount of cayenne pepper (Optional-use only if you want it a little spicy
1 pkg. (12oz) Spaghetti noodles
1 stick of Butter (3/4 stick is to be sliced-1/4 for greasing your pan)
1 cup Grated cheddar or sharp cheese
1/2 cup Grated mozzarella or Italian cheese mix
1 (80z) Small curd cottage cheese
1 (8 oz) Cream cheese
1/3 cup Sour cream

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare water to boil your noodles and cook as directed on package.


In a skillet, add your onions and mushrooms and let them cook until they are almost transparent. 


Add your ground beef and stir. Once the meat is half way cooked add your Worcestershire sauce. (Here is where you add the creole seasoning or cayenne pepper if you want your recipe to be a little spicy.) Stir and continue to brown until fully cooked. 

Pour in your spaghetti seasoning packet and tomato paste stirring until well mixed. Turn off burner and set meat aside.

In a large bowl combine softened cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream. Mix well until completely blended. 


Add the previous mixture to your spaghetti noodles and mix completely.

Grease 9"x13" pan generously with 1/4 stick of softened butter. (If you have some butter left, use it with the next step where butter is needed.)


Place the noodle and cheese mixture in the bottom of your generously greased pan. With the remaining 3/4 stick of butter, slice and distribute equally on top of noodles.


Next, add your meat mixture on top of noodles and spread thoroughly covering the noodles. 


Add your grated cheeses on top of the noodles. 


Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until casserole is extremely bubbly. 

Remove from oven and let it cool. 

Yummy bread and a good salad are great with this casserole. This is also a wonderful dish to serve large crowds! We rarely have leftovers at our house but if there are any then it's even better the second day! Happy eating!



~Fancy Pants Spaghetti Casserole~ a cross between lasagna and spaghetti. Spicy version included as well.


Apr 10, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Fabulous Chocolate Dipped ~ ~ Chocolate Chip Cookies~


These cookies rock! The basic recipe is good all on it's own but you can also turn this recipe into yummy White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies. They are one of my favorite cookies and they rock as well! I've included instructions at the bottom on dipping your finished cookies in chocolate. I know, as if the cookie itself isn't enough! 

I will also share with you some tips for freezing cookies. I love making a stash to put in the freezer for emergencies. The only problem with that is my boys love cookie dough so there may be some missing when it's time to bake. They are great to add on top of ice cream too! 

~Tips For Freezing Cookie Dough~
  • You can freeze most cookies doughs for up to 1 year if frozen properly and in a tight containers, bags, wrap, etc. 
  • Be sure to separate cookies that are different flavors so the flavoring won't mix with the other types.
  • Most cookie dough recipes can be turned into slice and bake cookies by rolling dough into a long log or two and wrapped in freezer paper, freezer bags, saran wrap or a plastic container. 
  • You may slice cookie dough ahead of time and freeze on sheets of wax paper layered between them. 
  • You may roll the cookie dough and place on coated paper plates and sealed in a ziploc bag. I stacked 2 layers of paper plates in the bag but if you buy over-sized bags you can stack several layers of plates or trays in the bag.
  • You can take cookies straight from the freezer and bake them in a preheated oven if they have been cut and frozen properly and do not have freezer burn however, it may be better to test a cookie first, sometimes I have to slightly turn up the temperature if it is a dense cookie.
  • If you want to let the cookies thaw first then it is better to leave them in the container or wrapping to thaw before removing them.
  • When thawing rolled cookie dough, it only takes about 4 or 5 mins.
  • When thawing cookie dough logs, it takes about 10-15 minutes at room temperature depending on the thickness of the log.
    ~CHOCOLATE DIPPED- CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES~ White Choc. Chip Macadamia Nut or Chocolate Chip Pecan with this recipe.

~Chocolate Chip Cookies~

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies- depending if you make rolled cookies or slice and bake style.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

~Ingredients~
4 sticks butter (softened) 
6 cups flour
3 eggs
1 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract (when using real vanilla only use 1 tsp)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk chocolate, white or dark chocolate or mix chips (premium)
(OPTIONAL)
1 cup pecans, (chopped) or nut of your choice. (I like to use macadamia nuts if I use white chocolate chips)
  1. In a large mixing bowl or mixer, cream butter, brown and white sugars, vanilla and eggs.
  2. Pour in flour slowly and a little at a time until blended. 
  3. Include the salt and baking soda and mix well. 
  4. Pour in chocolate chips (I like to mix milk chocolate and white chocolate chips.)
  5. Include pecans, macadamia, etc. if you chose to add nuts.
  6. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or bake on parchment paper. I suggest parchment paper because it helps the cookies bake up most evenly, not to mention super easy clean up! 
  7. Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes in preheated oven at 350 degrees. 
  8. Check cookies at 10 minutes since oven temps vary. Remove cookies from oven when slightest brown shows on edges.
Bake & Chill option:
You can certainly bake and eat them now however, I have found that the cookies are fluffier when I put them back in the fridge for about 15 to 20 minutes. (This really helps because the cookie dough gets a little mushy from sitting out.) Also, the cookies come out more uniform when chilled first or frozen.

Freezing option: You may also separate and freeze the cookies for a later time. (Refer to my Freezing Cookie Tips at the top of this post.) 

~Chocolate for Dipping Cookies~
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips according to directions on the package. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate and hold over the bowl for excess to drip off. (Some of the cookies I had to kind of swipe on the edge of the bowl to make chocolate stop dripping.) Set the cookie down on the wax or parchment paper and let it cool. If desired, you can quickly sprinkle chopped nuts, crushed candy pieces or sprinkles over the top of the cookie immediately after dipping.
~CHOCOLATE DIPPED- CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES~ White Choc. Chip Macadamia Nut or Chocolate Chip Pecan with this recipe.

Mar 20, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Turtle Brownies Galore~

Brownies! I hear the word brownie and immediately something stirs deep within me. Yes, an actual physical reaction begins to emerge... and then I feel a sudden surge... followed by an unbelievable urge... for brownies and I to mergeUh oh. I guess my secret is out. Now you know that aside from my obsession for brownies, I also get a little crazy  speaking in rhyme. In fact, I do it all the time... Sorry. I'll behave.

When my kids were younger, I enjoyed entertaining them with my wacky talent for rhyming. They loved it at first, but got a little irritated when the rhyming would go on for hours and wouldn't stop. They soon discovered there was only one way they could deactivate the "rhyming momster." It was to give her a kiss... on the lips! Hey, sometimes we moms got to be a little creative in the way get some sugar. 

Speaking of sugar, I have a fabulous recipe to share with you today. These are my mom's best brownie recipe and they are called Heavenly Brownies. They really are heavenly just as they are. I took them a step further and made them "Turtle Brownies Galore-I Want Some More." It's brownie on the bottom, smothered with melted chocolate chips, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with pecans. Need I say more?
~TURTLE BROWNIES GALORE~ Layered brownie smothered with melted chocolate and drizzled with caramel and pecans~

~Turtle Brownies Galore-
I Want Some More~

Makes 2- 8x8" square pans
18 brownies if you cut 3 across and 3 down
24 brownies if you cut 4 across and 4 down

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

~Ingredients for brownies~
2 sticks butter
4 Tbsp powdered cocoa
4 eggs 
1 1/2 flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla 
pinch of salt
cooking spray to grease pans

~Toppings~
1 jar caramel topping (found on aisle with ice cream toppings 
2 cups of milk chocolate chips (or semi, dark, white or mix)
2 cups chopped pecans

~Directions for brownies~
  1. In a bowl, beat eggs and then add sugar (set aside)
  2. In a pan and on medium heat, melt butter, add cocoa and blend 
  3. Combine butter/cocoa blend to bowl with eggs/sugar 
  4. Add flour, salt and vanilla and stir until blended (I added some 1/2 cup of chocolate chips but it's optional)
  5. Spray 2 8x8" baking pans with cooking spray
  6. Bake approx. 30-35 mins- check at 30 since oven temps vary. 
  7. Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 mins
~Directions for toppings~
  1. Once brownies have cooled off, melt 2 cups chocolate chips in a microwave bowl according to directions on package. 
  2. Pour melted chocolate over the top of both pans of brownies and quickly smooth evenly with a spatula. (Don't wait too long or the chocolate will begin to cool off.)
  3. Immediately sprinkle your chopped pecans over the chocolate.
  4. Heat caramel sauce according to directions on package and drizzle caramel over chocolate. ENJOY! :-)
~TURTLE BROWNIES GALORE~ Layered brownie smothered with melted chocolate and drizzled with caramel and pecans~
~TURTLE BROWNIES GALORE~ Layered brownie, smothered with melted chocolate and drizzled with caramel and pecans~

Hope you will love these as much as 
we do! Thanks for stopping by!

Mar 19, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Easter Photos With Kids~

Easter will be here before you know it! Easter falls on the 20th of April. I'm really glad it's in April instead of March this year, because March is a super crazy month for me. It thrills me to know that I'll be able to really enjoy it this year. Easter is such a special time to reflect on all our Savior suffered for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. What a gift the atonement was and is to each of us. It makes being with Him and our loved ones again, possible. 

Easter also has lots of fun tied to it. I have some great Easter ideas I will post soon so check back for that in a week or so but I'm sharing a few Easter photos now so you will have time to prepare if you want to use them. My cousin, Danielle with Creatively Chic Photography always has some creative photos for holidays so I'm going to share some of her pictures that she did with her daughter, niece, a friend's daughter and some cute little baby chicks. Bunnies would certainly be equally festive to use for the holiday if you have access to some.
~ Easter Photo Ideas with baby chicks~
How adorable is this? "H" and the chick both looking at each other. This is definitely one of my favorite ideas!
~Easter Photo Ideas with kids and baby chicks~
Just hanging out watching the peeps.

I love this idea of "K" holding the black and yellow baby chicks in her lap with her feet propped up. The old wooden bench is a great setting.

~Easter Photo Ideas with baby chicks~
What a sweet pose. It even looks like the yellow chick is giving the little black chick a kiss! You've got to be quick to catch a moment like that.


~Easter Photo Ideas with kids & baby chicks~
I love this great photo idea with the basket upside down giving "H" a little boost so she can check out her peeps!

Like I mentioned earlier, bunnies would be an adorable idea as well. Maybe you have some chicks or bunnies or you have a friend that does. I believe Danielle said they borrowed them from a local feed store. 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will check back to see more fun ideas for Easter!

Mar 14, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Meal Box Gift Idea~

Got meals to take? I'm going to share a creative idea with you today that I think, makes it even more fun to share a meal with others. I'm a decent cook but it's not my biggest talent. So, maybe I like this idea because it takes the focus off the food and puts in on the reason for serving. :) No seriously, those whom receive it always seem to love the added touch so it makes it so worth it when you see the look on their face. No matter what your reason for taking in a meal is, this idea can be altered to fit any situation or occasion for your gesture.

There are many ways we can serve our friends, neighbors and family when they are in need. One of my favorite opportunities is definitely sharing a meal. I love making things look pretty, but perhaps the main reason I enjoy it is because I know how wonderful it is when you receive one, especially after having a new baby. The doorbell rings, and there stands a friendly face with a smile, meal in hand and they never seem to judge the way you look. As much as I hate to be the cause for adding more labor on someone, I am instantly humbled and grateful for their time they spent on my family's behalf.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You may recognize a more common name, Mormons. My church provides many opportunities for me personally, to serve others. Of course you do not have to be a member of a church to have a chance to serve, but it's definitely my main avenue for sharing with others. 

The most common reasons to share a meal are illness, hospital or surgery (Get Well Box), disasters, death in the family and having a newborn baby. I had just such an opportunity last Sunday, to make a meal for some friends that recently had a baby. They had a darling baby girl and I wanted a creative way to present it to them. 

One of my favorite lines is… “It’s all in the presentation!” So, I thought it would be fun to decorate the box with lots of pink stuff to celebrate their new baby girl. In addition, I didn't want the new mom to have to do any dishes so I included some paper plates, napkins, utensil and cups. Here are some of the supplies I purchased.

~Before pic~Supplies for decorated Meal Box to deliver to a new mom~

Here are a few quick steps to prepare your "Meal Box" (gift box).
  1. 1.   Find a box. You may have a cute basket you’d rather use but find some type of container that is not too big.
  2. 2.   If you are using a box then fold the top flaps down on the inside so the top of the box is open.
    ~Wrap a box to deleiver a meal to someone with a few paper products so they don't have any dishes~~
  3. 3.   Wrap your box with some cute wrapping paper. 
  4. 4.   Place tissue paper inside the box where a small part is sticking out. I arranged the tissue paper where corners on the diagonal were sticking out just along the inside edges of the box making a sort of cavity to place everything in so it looks pretty in the bottom. (I arranged the paper products and any taller items toward the back of the box. We chose Mexican food for our meal so I had tortillas, chicken, grated cheese, beans, rice, salad, queso and hot sauce down inside. You can't see all that very well but it's in there! 
    ~Meal Box~ A creative idea for taking a meal to someone whether it's for a new baby, illness, death in the family, etc. ~by Crafty 2 the Core~
  5. 5.   I placed the Peeps on top where they were easy to see and I made a tag with my paper punch and some card stock and attached it with some jute around the peeps box that read, “Congrats on your new little Peep!”
    ~Cute Tag idea on PEEPS to Welcome a new baby included in a meal box for family.
        Since it’s close to Easter, Peeps are not hard to find. In fact, Peeps are pretty easy to find around any holiday. You may come up with something you like better to add in your box. Especially if you know there is a certain candy or treat that the new mom or family enjoys.
    ~Meal Box~ A creative idea for taking a meal to someone. Change it up for a new baby, illness, death in the family, etc.~ by Crafty 2 the Core~
It would be a fun challenge to decorate if someone was having twins that were a boy and a girl. You could decorate a box half blue and half pink.  

If you are taking a "meal box" to someone who is ill, you could decorate it with a Get Well theme and attach a balloon and card.

If you prefer something more general for your "meal box" could be decorated with a food theme. For example, we made Mexican food so you could decorate it like a "Fiesta Box!"

Like I mentioned in the beginning, no matter what the occasion, a new neighbor, housewarming, new marriage, illness, new baby, etc. the possibilities are endless to fit your occasion! I hope you enjoyed the idea. I hope it will be helpful in making one or for creating some inspiration for your own! As always, thanks for visiting my blog!
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