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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

{ Sea Salt Sweet Book Review }

Today my friend, Heather, of SprinkleBakes, has her second book hitting shelves.

Her first book, SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, was gorgeous and amazing & I can promise you that her sophomore release, Sea Salt Sweet: The Art of Using Salts for the Ultimate Dessert Experience, is just as amazing.

Heather brings an absolute artistry to desserts. You know the old adage that you eat with your eyes first? Heather's recipes are definitely ones you want to gobble up just by looking at them.

The book, of course, focuses on adding salts to your sweet treats. Salty and sweet? YES, PLEASE.

Heather has recipes such as Sel Gris Pecan Sandies, Cashew Caramel Corn, Ale and Pretzel Soft Caramels, Peanut Butter Coca Cola Cupcakes with Sel Gris, Ricotta Fig Phyllo Cups,Chocolate Malt and Fries Ice Cream Cake, Bacon Fat Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy (her grandmother's recipe, which I cannot wait to make!) and so, so much more.

I mean... LOOK AT THAT.

And yowza! These Chocolate Chunk Kettle Chip Cookies? YES and PLEASE.

You are sure to impress with any recipe from this book.

At the beginning of the book, Heather takes you through a little lesson on different  types salts (there are so many!), and how to use them. This section is very useful and informative. 

Heather is also giving away a CIA Professional Series Vitamix  on her blog today!  Head over there to enter and be sure to check out the book, it's stunningly delicious! 


Monday, November 2, 2015

{ Holiday Tradition Ideas }

It seems like the holiday season drags on forever, yet it's over before we know it.

I've complied a little list of ideas for holiday traditions. I'm sure you've seen many before, but maybe not. Maybe you'll stumble upon an idea that is just right for your little family. My family has enjoyed all of these over the years. I hope your family will enjoy some as well! Take time to savor the moments this Christmas.

Fun Traditions for the Holidays

Watch:  Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving together while munching on the 'feast' from the show: popcorn, toast, pretzel sticks, jelly beans, and ice cream sundaes!

Find: a tradition from another country and make it yours. We have celebrated St. Nicholas' Day since Bean was 3 years old.

We also have traditional British crackers on Christmas Day. These are sometimes hard to find in stores in the USA, but you can buy them online.

Have a Cocoa Bar-: make up different flavors of cocoa, and have a fixins bar with things like: chocolate chips, caramel sauce, whipped cream, crushed peppermint, brewed coffee (for mochas), chopped candy bars, sprinkles, and marshmallows (there are many flavors of marshmallows on the shelves this time of year!). Great for Christmas Eve! You can make this little marshmallow guy with a swizzle stick, three mini marshmallows, an orange jimmie, a gum drop for his hat (shape with your fingers), and a food writer for his eyes, mouth, and buttons.

Baby Jesus:  Make Baby Jesus cakes to celebrate the reason for the season. You can make a regular sized cake, mini cakes, or even cupcakes. We always did this on Christmas Eve just before bed. We sang Happy Birthday to baby Jesus and blew out candles.

a yearly ornament. We started this with Bean the year he was born. It's fun to look at his ornaments now and see what he was into, or what milestone he accomplished that year.You can see below things like the year he started kindergarten, got a puppy, discovered Harry Potter, visited Disney World, etc.

Let your kids sleep beside the Christmas tree. Bean used to LOVE doing this during the Christmas season. Never on Christmas Eve, of course- Santa might trip over him!

Sparkle: I'll admit, this was NOT one of my husband's favorites, but Bean loved it. When he was very small, I told him any where Santa went, he left sparkles behind. I sprinkled glitter on his presents, around the tree, on the cookie plate, etc. I even used body glitter and touched it on Bean's cheek. He still remembers when Santa kissed his cheek! Yes, it's a little messy, but a quick Christmas morning vacuum is worth the memories!

Hunt: Long before Elf on the Shelf, we looked for elves at our house too. However, much like Santa, we were looking for sparkles. I'd sprinkle glitter on the outside of our house and on the outside of the window sills. Bean would go out with his flashlight (because they only appeared at night) and hunt for glitter. If he found it, he knew that the elves had been watching him!

My Bean Circa 2002
Connect: Take at least a few minutes to spend a Christmas moment with friends/family far away via FaceTime or Skype

Enjoy a different Christmas movie every weekend from Thanksgiving weekend until Christmas Eve.

Next Stop: Have a Polar Express party! When Bean was 5, we invited his little friends to come and have a party with us. Everyone was to show up in their PJs, of course, we played games, and I read them the book while they drank cocoa. This was before the movie, which you could now watch.

Lights: go on a Christmas Light Drive. Make up a scavenger hunt list to make it more exciting. Things like: Find a giant Santa, spot a nativity, find a house with all red lights, etc. I've attached a printable here. Right click>Save as. Enjoy!

Host an Ugly Sweater Party, Ornament Party, or a Cookie Decorating or Swap party.

For an Ugly Sweater Party, just invite everyone to show up in their most excellent Christmas garb. The tackier the better. Offer up snacks or  have everyone bring something to munch on. Offer a prize for the "best" sweater.

For an Ornament Party- have everyone bring an ornament to swap, then gather craft supplies to make one while you are all together.

For a Cookie Decorating Party- make up a bunch of sugar cookies and colored icings, have lots of sprinkles and candies on hand. To make it easier, buy either plain sugar cookies already baked or place and bake cookies. Tint canned vanilla instead of making your own.

For a Cookie Swap Party- have everyone  invited make up 1/2 dozen cookies for each person invited. So, if you have 4 people coming, everyone should bring 2 dozen cookies. Then swap cookies with the other party goers. You'll go home with 4 different types of cookies!

Photo Tradition: Have a photo tradition. A photo in the same spot/doing the same thing each year. Here is an example of Bean and our cat, Fairley, the last four years.

String a popcorn and cranberry garland

Count Down: make a count down to Christmas chain, remove a link every night before bed.

Drink: Celebrate Christmas Eve with an old worldly Wassail!

Craft Christmas ornaments together. We still have some on the tree from when Bean was 2 (craft foam that he helped glue buttons on, and his hand print).

Construct "Gingerbread" Houses: Gingerbread House Tips and Tricks

Christmas Eve Box: Make up a Christmas Eve box: New pajamas, a new Christmas movie, and snacks. We've done this for several years now.

Photograph 'quiet moments'.

Grown Ups Only: Have a special 'grown up night's out'. This is something I hadn't done in, well.. maybe ever. Last year my friend Lori and I decided to go out to a fancy restaurant, just the two of us, no husbands, no kids. This is now our Christmas Friend Tradtion. We don't exchange gifts, we just go out to eat together at a local Inn.

Be Neighborly: Make treats for neighbors and friends

Help: Put together food boxes for needy families and drop off at local food pantry/church. Let your children help pick the items, express the need for healthy foods for the boxes, but with a treat or two.

Give: In addition, seek out a place to give to the needy. A great place that we have found to give to through our church is Children's Services. Our teen group has gathered gifts for local teens in foster care for the last couple years. The head of Children's Services in the local county told us that fosters often get little to no gifts at Christmas. Teens are the ones who get the least, because toys are donated more often. You can also look for an Angel Tree or ask at your church if there is a family in need.

New Year's: After Christmas, leave your tree up as a New Year's Tree. Click the link to read more and see what the balloons are filled with.


New Year's Day: It seems like by the time New Year's Day rolls around the fun has disappeared. Extend it by one more day by starting a tradition for New Year's Day. Have family over for dinner, play board games, or make it a special treat day. In our family, we have fondue on New Year's Day! We call it Fondue Year's Day ;) 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

{ Apple Flautas }

In High School, I had a weird, wacky, and wonderful Spanish teacher. Let's be honest here, aren't nearly ALL the langugage teachers weird and wacky? Our favorite thing she did was yelling "Ducles!" as she threw candies around the classroom.

My Spanish teacher was also my Odyssey of the Mind coach. Yeah, I was that kid. We'd often get together at her house to go over plans for our competiton. She would serve us up snacks and we pondered how to create machines, write our skit, go over music choices, etc.

One of the snacks she often had was Apple Flautas. I'd never had one before and I was instantly smitten. Her's were frozen and I've searched for them on and off over the years, but have never found them.

She'd bring them out and declare, "Flautas!", as she mimicked playing the flute so we'd know exactly what 'flauta' meant.

I finally decided to make them. They are really easy, so I'm not sure what took me so long.

You need minimual ingreidents, probably things you already have in house, and minimual time and effort. Let's be honest here, those are our favorite recipes, amiright?

You can garnish them with a little powdered sugar, caramel sauce, whipped topping, and sprinkles too!

They are also amazzzzing with vanilla ice cream.

So this one goes out to you, Senora Morton, where ever you are! Dulces! Dulces para todos!


Apple Flautas
by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

12 flour tortillas (8"- taco sized)
1 -21 oz can apple pie filling
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For garnish:
whipped topping
powdered sugar
caramel sauce
serve with vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 F, line rimmed pan with parchment paper, set aside.

Dice up the apples in the filling.

In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.

Brush the outside of tortilla with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon mixture. Lay on prepared sheet and do the same to the inside. Repeat for remaining shells. Spoon filling in tortillas, roll up. Lay seam side down on baking sheet. Brush with a bit more butter and sprinkle again with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the apple filling is bubbly (A small amount may ooze out while baking, this is to be expected). Allow to cool slightly, serve warm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

{ Beauty & the Beast Party }

Today is the Girl's birthday!  You can see her former birthday parties here: Mary Poppins Party & Budget Friendly Disney Party.

I present to you, the third is this series- another Disney party- this time, Beauty and the Beast! And guess what... it's a budget friendly party too! I will have a break down of the budget a little further down in this post.

Setting the scene here with the table:

As you can see, I went with glassware vs paper plates, books, candles, and of course, roses to decorate.

For the tablecloth, I used a lace that my mother in law made (it's our special occasion tablecloth) which I festooned with yellow plastic tablecloth swags. I decorated the swag portion with a red rose.

I created the pennant banner with my Silhouette, but you could easily cut it out by hand and add sticker letters.

For the Enchanted Rose, I used a tall cylindrical vase, glass pebbles, & a submersible LED light,

Here is what it looked like with the lights off:

Behind the rose, you can see I bought some cheap 4x6 frames and printed some photos I found on the internet to go in them.

For favors, I made Chip mugs. I know that Chip should be a tea cup, but these came from the Dollar Tree, so, score! I simply painted the handles with metallic gold craft paint. For his face, I found a photo of chip and recreated his face as best I could in Photoshop. From there, I used my Silhouette Machine to cut out vinyl which I then applied. If you are very crafty, you could just as easily paint his face on. I have one, and only one, a vinyl 'chip'. That one went to the birthday girl. :)

For food I did nice and easy. I made a cheesy potato soup that everyone loves (Soup D'jour!), made croissant sandwiches, and had a basket of French breads.

Bean had the great idea to make LeFou's Brew and have the drink station be Gaston's Tavern.

Labels made in Photoshop

LeFou's Brew at Gaston's Tavern in Magic Kingdom is a slushy apple juice with hints of marshmallow, and topped with a mango passion fruit foam. Bean really liked it when we went. I didn't care for it at all. I actually quite liked my own version, however. (Recipe below).

For desserts we had, of course, cupcakes.

These are my Snickerdoodle cupcake recipe.

I tinted the icing Belle's dress yellow and topped with Haribo red raspberry candies.

There was also Grey Stuff- of course!!

I have a recipe for a very accurate Grey Stuff, an actually cookies n cream panna cotta. This, however, is even easier than that (recipe below)!

I also served tea, Mrs. Potts would hope so, for heaven's sake! Bean created a playlist of the Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack on Spotify and I had that playing, and of course.. we watched the movie.

That's it! It was a great night and she loved it.

Here is a price break down of the party:
Dollar Tree; $19

6 mugs, 3 tableclothes,  rose bunches, candles,  2 candlesticks, 2 mirrors (candles sat on), 2 frames, vase, 2 packs of silver plasticware.

Fresh Rose: $2


Bread & croissants- $9
Soup ingredients - $10
Lunch meats & cheese- $10
Drinks (2 liters were on sale)- $5
LeFou's Brew- $5
Grey Stuff- $5
Cupcakes- $4

Items on hand:

Lace tablecloth, submersible light, glass pebbles, books, ribbons, glassware.

Total Cost of party for 6 guests: $69

plus the cost of paper and ink for printing

Not bad, eh?

Happy 18th to the girl!



LeFou's Brew
recipe by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers
1 bottle apple juice
1 liter lemon lime soda
1/2 container of vanilla ice cream

Chill juice & soda, when ready to serve, pour into a pretty bowl and top with ice cream allowing ice cream to melt slightly before ladling into glasses.

The Grey Stuff (simplified)
recipe by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1 package French Vanilla Pudding mix
1 container whipped topping- thawed
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 of a package of cream filled chocolate sandwich cookies

Prepare pudding with 1 1/2 cups milk. Fold in whipped topping.

Crush cookies super finely- using 1/2 of the package. Stir into mix.

Chill for a few hours before serving.

The Grey Stuff Original recipe

Monday, July 20, 2015

{ Harry Potter Roundup Post }

Hello, my lovelies!

This year, instead of just watching, I am playing along in Raegun Rambling's awesome Harry Potter Weeks celebration!

She has SO much fun planned from now until Harry's Birthday on the 31st. You have to check it out! She also has an amazing giveaways! Stay tuned for more info on those later in my post here.

I've opted to do a Harry Potter post roundup since I already have so many (that doesn't mean there won't be more in the future, because, my friends, there WILL be more), but this time we are going with these.

I  tried to get a good variety of posts for this. I've got travel, party, craft, and food. Sound good?

Ready? Here we go!


Our Holiday to Hogsmeade- a full guide to your visit to the Hogsmeade portion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure Park.

Diagon Alley Guide: a full guide to your visit to the Diagon Alley portion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.


Harry Potter Wand Tutorial: Make your own authentic looking wizarding wands. You can make a bunch for only a few bucks!


My Big, Fat, Harry Potter Party: A full blown Harry Potter party on a budget. Tons of fun that won't cost you tons of money.

Harry Potter Party the Second: My second Harry Potter party. New ideas, new fun.


This is where it gets really fun!

Sorting Cupcakes

Weasley is our King Cupcakes

All Hail Butterbeer!

While I have my own Butterbeer recipe here on my site, I actually recommend my friend Darla's (of Bakingdom) over my own. I made mine prior to visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and she made her's after. Her's is definitely super simple and tastes so similar to WWoHP!

Bakingdom's Butterbeer

photo property of
 Of course I have a few Butterbeer treats of my own...

Easy Butterbeer Cupcakes

Butterbeer Ice Cream

and... a Butterbeer Shake!

I have several other Harry Potter inspired posts, you can see all of them here. You can see all of my geekery here.

Now, about that giveaway...! I want it ALL.

The photos aren't all necessarily the prizes that will be awarded, but represent some items you could purchase with a store credit prize.

The winner will receive the following awesome Harry Potter and bookish prizes! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have fun! P.S. If you haven’t already, you can ‘like’ my Facebook page here, and follow me on instagram here.

x, Tina


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