12. 21. 10. 05:29 am

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Christmas Tree Brownies on Peppermint Sticks Recipe

Here is recipe for us at Inspiring Pretty to say Merry Christmas to you!
Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
2/3 cups butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
Frosting:
5 oz butter
1 cup powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp hot water
2 inch peppermint sticks
Decoration:

desired food coloring

sprinkles

any other decorations you wish

For brownies, preheat oven to 350º. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla flour, cocoa, baking powder and butter together in large bowl. Bake for 20-30 minutes until no longer gooey. Let cool completely for approximately 30 min. Once cool, cut 7 rows of triangles, with 3 triangles in each row.

For frosting, beat together eggs, butter and sugar with electric mixer. Once thoroughly mixed, add in vanilla and water. Beat until smooth and creamy. Then add about 5 drops of your desired food coloring

Decorate brownies only when completely cooled. To frost, cut a tiny hole in the corner of a ziplock bag. Put frosting inside and use this to pipe frost the brownies! Stick peppermint sticks approximately 1 inch into the bottom of the tree!

Enjoy!

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01. 11. 11. 07:01 am ♥ 2

New Uses For Old Bananas

My kids love bananas.  They eat them for breakfast, for snacks, at lunch, even before they go to bed.  And whenever we are running all over town, I know that a few bananas will tide them over until we get home.  So naturally I buy them by the bushel.  However, I do believe that my stockpiling has backfired on me.  I am so afraid of running out that I overcompensate.  The result?  I usually have several browning bananas on my countertop at any given time.  And, you know my kids aren’t going to be unpeeling ol’ spotty when there is a fresh batch sitting right beside him.  So what to do with my mature bananas?  One can only make so many loaves of banana bread (especially when she is watching here figure…).  Instead, here are several alternative uses for our yellow friends.
  • Fertilize your garden.  Plants and soil love bananas, both the peel and the fruit.  Just mash them into your soil with a trowel around the base of your plant(s). You will be rewarded with healthier, more vibrant vegetation without the mess or expense of store bought fertilizers.
  • Trap fruit flies.  Open a ripened banana and place it inside a clean, empty yogurt container.  Seal the container with its lid and poke small holes into the lid.  The flies will be attracted to the banana and enter the container, but they won’t be able to find their way out through the tiny holes.
  • Beautify.  Create a soothing and effective mask for your hair and/or face using mashed banana as the star ingredient.  For hair: simply massage mashed banana into your hair and let it sit for 15 mins.  Then rinse and shine.  For face: combine one mashed banana with 1/4 cup plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon honey.  Spread the mixture over your face and let it sit for 15 mins.  Rinse well.  Both of these masks moisturize and provide anti-aging benefits.
  • Stock up for smoothies.  Frozen bananas make a great addition to any smoothie.  Just peel and slice bananas into chunks and store them in tupperware or a freezer bag in your freezer.  Then the next time you are in the mood for a yum-yum smoothie toss a few banana chunks into the blender to make it creamier and frostier.  My favorite concoction is chocolate peanut butter banana.  Blend 8 oz milk, 1 whole frozen banana 2 tablespoons of chocolate drink powder (like Nesquik) and a heaping spoonful of pb and, ta-da!
  • Bake healthier.  Mashed bananas can replace the fats (ie: oil, butter, lard) in a lot of your baking recipes.  Swap it in equal parts for your cakes, breads and muffins.  You can also use it to replace up to half the fat in your cookie recipes.  So if your favorite oatmeal raisins call for 1 cup butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup mashed bananas. 
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    12. 22. 10. 04:28 pm

    15 Reasons to Love the Holidays

    To bring some cheer!

    15 Reasons to Love the Holidays

    Christmas and New Years are the greatest time of the year. Why are they so great, though? There are so many reasons, that it’s difficult for most to choose just one. I’ve compiled a list of the top 15 reasons to love the most wonderful time of the year to bring some cheer!

    1.) Snow

    Snow! Snow! Snow! SNOW! If you can’t hear Bing Crosby when you read that, then something is wrong. You might be slowly turning into a grinch. It’s time to get in the Christmas spirit! There are so many amazing things you can only do in the snow. Snowball fights, forts, snow angels, snowboarding, skiing, watching pets and little kids have fun struggling to move through it and most of all: waking up to a blanket of white on Christmas morning. Wake up your inner child and go enjoy it :)

    2.) Sledding

    I know it’s something you can do in the snow, but this one extra special. It’s the only time of year you can rocket into soft powder just by sliding. This is a fun, free activity for everyone in the family. My entire family goes every year, no matter what age. We’re slowly making daredevils out of my little nephews, which we started to do at the age of 2 :-)

    3.) Christmas Tree

    O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, how lovely are your branches. There’s nothing quite like going to get the tree together, weather you cut it down yourself or buy it from a lot. No matter if your family fights strapping it to the roof or getting it through the door, everyone always comes to together for fun to pick it out and decorate it. You’ll remember at least one year for your entire life, even if it is something like Ralphie saying “oh, fudge”. Also, I love how the Christmas tree stays up through the entire holiday season, for weeks before Christmas until New Years Day. That give plenty of time to fill up your home with scent of pine tree and a constant glowing reminder of the season.

    4.) Christmas lights

    Each house lit up in a different array of lights, manger scenes, Santa on rooftops, red ribbons on lampposts and so much more. As with the rest of the list, it’s only done once a year, and it lasts the entire season from beginning before Christmas and lasting through New Years. Christmas lights truly have to embody Christmas itself.

    5.) Watching classic Christmas TV shows/movies

    I don’t know about your family, but mine has a tradition of watching certain movies and TV shows every Christmas. We have to watch A Christmas Carol, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, It’s a Wonderful Life, A White Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, A Christmas Story, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Very Mickey Christmas (we recorded 15 years ago, commercials and all) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They bring you back to childhood instantly, almost like a time capsule. Everyone loves Christmas favorites, and it’s great to pass the tradition to the young ones.

    6.) Carols

    The songs you only hear one time a year. I love singing songs that I know have been sung for hundreds of years, and my entire life. If you don’t want to sing, it’s also neat to just listen to carolers make their way down the street singing sweet melodies and wishes to all who hear.

    7.) Seeing old friends

    Most people head home for the holidays, back to their hometown where they grew up. It’s always great to see people you’ve spent your entire childhood, or at least part of it, with; to see what they’ve done and how they have been since the previous year. And you may just run into a long lost friend that you haven’t seen in years.

    8.) Family together

    This best time of the year brings one the greatest things people can have: family gathered together. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to have your entire immediate or extended family together, enjoy the greatest gift you have in life. Time with them may sometimes be annoying or trying for you, but look deeper and see how precious it really is to be with the only people you’re related to. After all, is is the time to be together and it only comes once a year.

    9.) Parties

    So many festivities this time of year! There are office parties, parties with your friends, some with your parents, some for homecomings, and of course, the biggest party on New Years Eve. It truly is the season for celebration and togetherness.

    10.) The meals

    Part of the greatness of parties during this season, coming home and just Christmas overall is the food. For some, it’s the one element of Christmas they look forward to the most. Usually, people have a big feast on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas. In my family, we have a banquet on Christmas Eve of seafood, steak and sides then eggnog french toast and eggnog on Christmas morning. I look forward to it all year every year. Christmas just wouldn’t be right without these meals. So, make Whoville and roast up a roast beast :-)

    11.) The presents

    Everyone loves presents, and this aspect of Christmas. Giving and receiving are part of what makes the season so grand. And there’s nothing like little kids shooting out of bed that one day of the year and jumping for joy and the sight of filled stockings and gifts under their glowing tree. Now that I’ve relatively grown up, I love seeing my nephews’ reactions as they sit under the tree with the presents waiting to open them and their excitement when they do. And, I love to see each person’s face when they open my gifts and the ones that were exactly what they wanted as well. It’s great to get what you want, even greater when it’s from your family and the greatest when you give that perfect gift.

    12.) Desserts

    To me, the sweets are better than the meals. Like the other things on this list, there are things you will only get one time of year. Sugar plums, candy canes, gingerbread cookies, bread pudding and countless other sweets help to make the season bright. Of course, I look forward to this. And it’s heat-warming to give and receive a plate of goodies from your friends and neighbors.

    13.) Shopping on December 26th

    It’s the most wonderful deals of the year, with the store doors jingle belling and every shopkeeper telling you ” here is a steal!” It’s true, the absolute greatest discounts of the entire year occur on December 26th. Not to brag, I’ve actually gotten a brand new wool winter coat for $25 marked from the normal price of $200. It’s thee day to do any necessary returns and exchanges or just shopping in general to get the most bang for your dollar.

    14.) Not working/no school

    Hopefully, you’re part of the majority of America that gets Christmas Day off. And if you’re really fortunate with your career, you’ll have the entire week of Christmas off. If you’re a student, you get at least 2 weeks off around Christmas and New Years. It’s always good for everyone to take time away from the hustle and bustle, especially all together.

    15.) Jesus is born!

    Above all the great things of Christmas, it is ultimately the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Considering that most of the Unites States and the western world is Christian, it’s our greatest celebration time of the year. A time to rejoice and gather at church with family and close ones.

    I hope you can find 15 things, if not more to love about the holiday season. We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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    01. 12. 11. 07:01 am

    How to Whisk Away the Winter Blues

    if winter is getting you down, here are some things you can do to help cope!

    It is the dead of winter for all of those of us in the western hemisphere. Now that the Christmas season is officially over, the cold weather can sometimes now feel like a drag. If winter has gotten you down, here are some tips to help get you through the rest of the season and hopefully enjoy it as well.
    Keep Fresh Flowers in Your House
    One thing to greatly help get you through the barren of winter is to have nature around you. There really isn’t anything more beautiful in nature than flowers. The sight and smell of these lovely plants are sure to delight your senses and help you escape the lack of live vegetation outside. Keep flowers in at least one room of your house and replace them weekly or biweekly to get full effect. Be sure to rotate your flower choices as well. You don’t want Poinsettias after the holidays, even if they can live that long.

    Decorate in Light Colors
    Christmas decor is the epitome of rich colors. Dark hues of green and red give gorgeous contrast to the white snow on the ground. Once the holiday season is over though, having dark colors around can remind you of the glorious season which has just ended and/or make you feel stuck. Dark hues can also have the power of seasonal depression on some people. Avoid any downtroddeness by minimizing or eliminating dank colors for winter. Stick to brighter and/or paler colors such as yellow, orange, lighter blues and lighter greens. If you are feeling that a grand change is in order, paint one or a few rooms in your homes. If you’re looking for a temporary change to trick your mind, change the adornments on your tables and walls and possibly your comforters. This change will make you home uplifting and serve as a refuge from the season.
    Eat Summery Foods
    Now, I’m not talking about lemonade or popsicles. Obviously, you should steer clear of cold foods. They will only make you the cold even more. To put yourself in more a summer mindset, eat foods like hot dogs, hamburgers and if you’re lucky enough to be able to right now, barbecue. Your taste buds will put you in a summery state of mind, at least momentarily. For most people, eating as a splendid pleasure, so use it to help you this winter.
    Play Sports Indoors
    One thing that people miss most in winter is the ability to go outdoors without the snow inhibiting each thing you do. The snow and cold make is difficult or impossible to play most sports outside. If you’re feeling cramped inside your house, go the gym or rec center and join in a league or some pick-up games. There are sure to be other people missing outdoor sports just as you are (if your friends don’t want to play). Even in the tiny town where I grew up, there were constantly games of basketball, indoor soccer and baseball during the winter. Get your blood flowing in the games you love and you’ll soon forget what season it is.
    Go Have Fun Outside
    To make the season more bearable, see the good sides of it. Other than the beauty of snow, there are other things that only come once a year. Only in the cold weather of winter can you go skiing/snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling and numerous activities. You will see the brighter side of the season in at least one way if you can enjoy one of these things. You may even come to look forward to it next year.
    Now that there is at least one month of winter to go, I hope you can use some of these ideas to cope with the blues and possibly even enjoy the rest of the season. It only comes once a year, whether good or bad.
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