Chess Squares

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I’m kind of blown away that it’s been nine months since I last updated this blog.  I’m even more shocked that I didn’t lose any followers in the process.  Quite the opposite actually, I seemed to have gained new ones!  While I may have been AWOL from my posts, I have documented each Pinterest project I’ve done. I’m just too lazy to write about it, I’ll admit.  For the next few weeks, pretty much every update I’ll have will be food related because BREAKING NEWS: I live on my own now.

Ok, I’ve lived on my own for six months so it’s not exactly breaking news…and okay I have two roommates and a puppy so I’m not really on my own. Nevertheless, I still have to feed myself these days so a huge shout out to Pinterest for keeping me from starving myself.  Or at least from living off of fast food and pb&j.

So moving on to what everyone really wants to know: my experience with gooey butter cake aka chess squares.  Rewind to sometime last October.  It was Aimee’s first weekend visiting me in my new city so of course we had to bake something sweet!

You start with only five ingredients: yellow cake mix, eggs, butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar.

Chess Square IngredientsThe squares are made in two layers.  The first layer is a mixture of the yellow cake mix, melted butter, and one egg.  Once it’s mixed into a soft dough, press it into the baking dish.  For the top layer, mix the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and other two eggs for about 2 minutes or until smooth and pour it into the dish.

Once that’s done it goes into the oven for 40-50 minutes.  We let it cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and voila!

IMG_0511pinrating5This recipe got an easy 5 of 5 pins. It’s extremely easy to make despite the fact that I still didn’t have a mixer at the time (making the soft dough with a whisk = complete pain).

DIY Pore Strips

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You’ve heard the term “beauty is pain,” right?  Well let me just start this post by saying nothing proves that term true quite like the face mask Aimee and I tried a few months back.  I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on Bioré pore strips over the years, but I’d include them as part of my magic bag of beauty products, so when Aimee called to ask if I wanted to try this DIY Pore Strip mask, I was totally up for it.

Right away this project seemed like a winner.  It was cheap and easy, only requiring a tablespoon of unflavored gelatin and two tablespoons of milk.  Mix the two together, pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds and then spread it on your face.  Easy, right?  No.  There’s a reason I [unfortunately] have no pictures for this post.  The first is how quickly you have to apply it to your face.  The original blog post warned us about three times how fast the mask hardened into gelatin, so we were too busy trying to apply it to both of our faces before it dried.  Second, it stinks.  Third, I have never been in so much pain in my life (slightly exaggerated, but you get the idea).

Aimee and I tried to let the mask set on our face for the instructed 15 minutes but had to begin taking it off early because it got to the point where we couldn’t move our mouths, and that lack of movement caused us to laugh hysterically which then became extremely painful (if plastic surgery recovery is anything like this, count me out now).  Now, pulling a pore strip off my nose was never comfortable, so I don’t know why I expected pulling a pore strip off of my ENTIRE FACE would be a walk in the park.  Around the eyes and mouth are where it hurt the most and by the time I got to my forehead I was in so much pain and losing a part of my eyebrow so I ended up just washing the rest off of my face.

pinrating1This is my first post to get 1 of 5 pins, ever.  It hurt, smelled bad and honestly, my face didn’t feel or look any better.  IF you try this one, I suggest maybe limiting the application to only your nose.

Seven months later…

Oh, how I’ve neglected this blog and the few (but amazing) followers it gained during my fall semester of senior year. When I started this blog for a class, I enjoyed it so much that I had every intention of continuing it after my assignments were over (and earning an A in the class!). However I let my last semester get the best of me and found little time to do Pinterest projects… and when that little time was available, I usually chose to hide under my covers and dread whatever assignment or paper was due next instead. So with all that said, I am so sorry to keep all of you waiting or hopeless, but I am returning! I can’t promise I’ll be making my biweekly posts right away again, but I already have a few posts that I can promise will be coming soon: Homemade Pore Strips, How To Roll Sleeves, Braided Bun How-To and Pack 6 Days of Clothes in a Carry-On.

And also! Through Pinterest, I’ve not only found fun DIY projects or easy recipes, but the site is also great for finding store products to use or great places to shop, so I thought it would be great to also start reviewing those products or stores I’ve found through Pinterest as well! Stay tuned and thanks for sticking around :)

-Erica

Parmesan Pull-aparts & Crockpot Lasagna

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Hello world!  This week I cooked my first real meal from Pinterest using two separate recipes!  I’m blaming my choices on the fact that I’ve spent the last week repeatedly watching The Godfather for an assignment for one of my classes, but I basically became an Italian and went on a carb overload with crockpot lasagna and Parmesan pull-apart bread.  I cooked this Aimee’s help again (she owns a crockpot and I do not) and then served it to her parents and brother.  They all went back for seconds, so I was pretty proud of myself.
The crockpot lasagna does take a few hours to cook so we got started on that earlier in the afternoon.  The prep time took about 30-45 minutes and was really easy!  I learned how to brown meat, so that was exciting for me too.  Once you have the cheese layer mixed and the sauce mixed, you pretty much just layer it all into the crockpot let it cook!  The recipe says 4-6 hours on low.  It cooked for about 4 hours, but the crockpot was on high for about an hour and it turned out just fine.

The lasagna gets 4 out of 5 pins, but it depends how you like your lasagna.  This was delicious but not as juicy as I’m used to with my mom’s.

The second part of the meal was the pull-apart bread!  I started prepping this one when the lasagna had about a half hour left.  The thought process behind this recipe is so creative and simple, but I never would have thought of it!  You pour melted butter with garlic powder, dried parsley, minced onion and Parmesan cheese at the bottom of a glass pie plate, then place biscuits close together on top.  The directions say to bake it for 12 minutes, I suggest closer to 20.  After the biscuits turn a golden brown, let it sit for five minutes.

After it sat for five minutes, it got a little tricky.  The directions made it sound like it would be as easy as flipping the plate over and BAM! Your Parmesan pull-apart bread is ready to eat.  No.  You would think with all that butter it wouldn’t stick, but it did and I practically had to pull it out of the plate before it finally came out.

As of now, the bread is getting 3 pins.  It tasted okay, but I feel like this recipe could be improved and I plan on testing this one out more.

Overall, the meal was great and I’m already convinced that a crockpot will be one of the first things I’ll buy for myself when I’m living on my own!

The Miracle Mask

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It’s Wednesday!  Not as great as Friday, but close enough. This past weekend I explored outside of recipes and craft and tried a face mask from Pinterest, called the Miracle Mask.  Why, you ask?  Anyone who knew me before college knows that I didn’t go through that awkward acne phase in high school, but when I got to college that changed and I went into a panic. My stress level is always at an all-time high right around midterm week and I find myself fighting breakouts.  I usually just scrub my face with my usual cleansers and deal with it but thought I’d put this blog to use and try something from Pinterest.  I chose this mask for two reasons.

  1. It’s extremely easy.  There was no stove involved like others had and it only asks for three ingredients: nutmeg, honey and cinnamon.
  2. The ingredients are supposed to help calm and sooth stressed-out skin, a lot like mine.

While looking through all the different masks I found, I noticed different masks can do different things for your skin.  Nutmeg and honey act as an anti-inflammatory which is supposed to help with the redness and sooth acne scars.  The cinnamon and nutmeg also helps exfoliate the skin.  This was perfect for my skin now.

To make the mask you just mix the three ingredients with a spoon until it’s the consistency of a thick paste, then spread it on your face!  Take it from me, don’t try to be fancy and apply it to your face with a brush or the spoon.  Just use your hands.

Side note: I made Aimee get a little creative with her mask in light of Movember so she tried to do her best Max Talbot and James Neal Fu Manchu before spreading it on to the rest of her face!  Is it obvious we need this NHL lockout to end?
The mask is supposed to sit on your face for 30 minutes which got a little annoying about halfway through.  This isn’t the kind of mask that hardens so if you’re sitting up, it will slowly start to slide off your face.

The mask did help some, but was too sticky and messy to make me want to deal with it again, so I’m giving this one 3 out of 5 pins.

Pumpkin Pretzels

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Happy Halloween! Yes, I know it’s been almost 24 hours since Halloween, but I got caught up yesterday taking my little cousins trick-or-treating and then ended my night with scary movies so I completely forgot to post this Pinterest project yesterday.  So for now we’ll just pretend it’s still Halloween.

My best friend Aimee is back on the blog this week and she is what I’m calling a “guest pinner” because I’m not responsible for the adorable pumpkin pretzels she made for her class yesterday.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me so instead of doing a DIY project this week, I watched Aimee make these while I was making the hot chocolate from my last post.

The recipe called for mini pretzels for the pumpkin shape, white chocolate chips, orange food coloring and shortening for the coating, and green M&M’s as the stems.  However, Aimee used Wilton Candy Melts in place of the of the white chocolate chips because they were already colored orange.  You still have to add the shortening to thin out the chocolate, but it works just the same!  Also, if you don’t feel like separating the green M&M’s from the bag, just buy the new mint M&M’s.  They’re amazing!
Once you have the chocolate melted properly, you just dunk the pretzel in it, place it on wax paper, then add the M&M’s at the top before the chocolate dries.  They can be packaged easily and would be cute for next year’s trick-or-treaters!
Aimee rated this one since she did the work and she gave it 4 pins because “even though the instructions were accurate, it really wasn’t anything spectacular.”

Have I mentioned she’s not as easily impressed as I am? ;) She did get a lot of compliments on how cute they were though!

Polar Express Hot Chocolate

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I’m alive!  It’s been two weeks since I last tested out a Pinterest project, but I’m back with easily the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted in my life.  Recently I came across a pin showing what was called Polar Express Hot Chocolate and it even claimed to be the best hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted so of course being the easily swayed person I am, I repinned it.  This week Louisiana finally decided to get cold enough for boots, scarves and more importantly, hot chocolate so I jumped on the opportunity quickly because the weather here is bipolar and doesn’t usually stay cold for very long.  I got together the five ingredients it calls for and then made a face when I realized what I had to do.

Stir regularly for 30-40 minutes until chocolate is fully melted and incorporated with other ingredients.

Say what now?  Just like I claim to be the queen of instant mashed potatoes and Easy Mac, I am also the master of instant hot chocolate when I have to make it.  Still, it sounded too good to pass up and I told myself not to be so lazy.  The recipe itself is the easiest thing I’ve done yet because all you do is pour all the ingredients into the pot and stir it.  That’s it! It just takes a little time if you’re impatient like I am.

While pouring everything into the pot, I began to prepare myself for when I went into a diabetic coma.  Did I mention how wonderful it smelled?  Oh, and I had my first experience with an electric can opener (The first picture is my reaction.  It’s a pretty nifty appliance!)

The recipe suggests adding thick, homemade marshmallows to throw in but let’s be honest, if I complained about the time it took to stir the hot chocolate, do you really think I want to figure out how to make homemade marshmallows?  Instead, I dropped in a spoonful of Cool Whip which only added to the sweetness and made drinking the extremely hot drink a little easier.

This stuff tastes like melted fudge in your mouth and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need a small glass of milk after I finished it.  I love chocolate as much as the next person but I would suggest a smaller mug or a salty biscuit on the side if you decide to try this one!

So was the 30 minute stir worth it?  Absolutely. The only reason it gets four pins instead of five is because it was almost too sweet to finish.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

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TGIF! This week I had my first experience with an oven! Okay, not really BUT it was my first time actually baking something from Pinterest.  With Aimee watching every step of the way (and occasionally laughing) I made crescent rolls with cream cheese, also called sopapilla cheesecake on the recipe.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really cook or bake for that matter, so believe me when I say that this recipe is very simple.  Yet, I still managed to make it somewhat difficult.  If the look on my face while opening the cans of crescent rolls doesn’t give it away, I don’t know what will.

I did eventually get the cans open but not without a slight squeal when it popped against the sink.  Anyway, the cheesecake is made of two layers of the crescent roll dough and LOTS of cream cheese (sweetened with vanilla and sugar, of course) in the middle.  When layering the cream cheese it was looking pretty thick and I was a little nervous it was too much.  But honestly, there is no such thing as too much cream cheese and as Aimee put it, “cream cheese can do no wrong.”  After I rolled the second layer of dough, I spread melted butter and sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on the top.

The recipe says to bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes.  That’s a pretty broad range for baking (according to Aimee) so we let it bake for 20 minutes then checked on it periodically.  It probably baked for 25-27 minutes, but could have stayed for 30.  At this point your kitchen is going to smell amazing and you’ll want to dig right in, but don’t! Have some patience and let it cool for at least 15 minutes.  We let it cool for 20 to be safe and I must say, I was pretty proud of what I tasted.

After you’ve gone back for seconds (believe me you will) make sure to cover the leftovers and store them in the fridge because of the cream cheese!

This has been a good week for Pinterest projects because this recipe also gets a well deserved 5 pins! I can not wait to bake–and eat!–this again.

No-Sew Pillow Cover

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Hello and Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadians that stumble across this blog! This week my best friend, Aimee, is making her first of many appearances on my blog and we decided to try the no-sew pillow cover!  The directions from Pinterest are extremely straight forward and only use a few pictures and words but it’s so simple that that’s all you really need.  However I do have a couple of extra tips that the directions don’t suggest.

First, get your measurements right! The directions call for a piece of fabric three times as wide and twice as tall as the pillow.  Aimee and I sat in Hobby Lobby for about five minutes trying to figure out how much fabric we would need.  We probably looked silly but there is a reason I didn’t major in math, okay.  It also didn’t help that I forgot to see how big my pillow was before leaving to get the fabric.  Aimee knew her pillow was 16×16 so she bought a yard and a half.  I thought my pillow was a little bigger and bought two yards of fabric to be safe.  Turns out my pillow was also 16×16 but we learned that two yards makes for an easier knot than a yard and a half does.  So if your pillow is 16×16 save yourself the time and headache of mathematics and have two yards of your fabric cut!

Second, have an iron handy.  We ironed our fabrics to get the wrinkles out, but we also used the iron to flatten folds which made it a lot easier and neater.  Aimee and I both experimented with the fabric before hand and agreed the iron helped.

Aimee and I joked that this project was a waste of fabric because you could easily make two or three traditional pillow covers with the same amount of fabric.  Still, it’s worth the little money you’ll spend and I think the knot adds character to the pillow and it would probably be more difficult to do if this was something you would sew.

This project gets an easy 5 out of 5 pins.  It’s simple and is just as cute as the overpriced throw pillows I drool over in department stores.

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