Monday, August 6, 2012

We've moved!

Sorry for the lack of posts of late. We have "moved" to another blog. You can find us now at: http://violetsbuds.blogspot.com/

To celebrate the start of the new blog, we will host a giveaway from August 10 through August 20th. Head over to http://violetsbuds.blogspot.com/ and subscribe via email so you won't miss the contest.

Thank you for all of your support.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pinterest Project: Mocha Cookies

Last week, my sis-in-law & I were wanting to bake. Since we had the ingredients (mostly) on hand, we decided to give these Mocha Cookies from M Loves M a try.
The cookies sound delicious, and were fun to make, even though ours didn't turn out as expected.
  Since we didn't have the requisite amount of chocolate chips, I opened a package of Hershey's Kisses. We dumped the chocolate chips & some of the kisses in a double boiler.
My sis-in-law was in charge of the rest of the batter while I dealt with the chocolate. 
In lieu of espresso powder, we used 2 Starbucks VIA iced packets. It smelled heavenly.
 We mixed in the melted chocolate and let the batter rest for 15 minutes as the recipe suggested.
 Even after 15 minutes, the batter was still pretty liquid-y (guess we added too many Kisses)
We greased the cookie sheet and baked a few, but they came out kinda mushy.
 The next batch we added a little more flour, with the same result. We didn't want to over-flour the mixture, so we just went with it.
 The cookies were gooey and looked messy, but had an amazing dark-chocolate taste with a hint of espresso. I would suggest to anyone trying out the recipe to not be tempted to substitute chocolate types/amounts. I believe that was the problem with our cookies.
All that really matters was we had fun and the cookies tasted great!

Here's the recipe as borrowed from M Loves M blog:

Mocha Cookies
Copyright 2010 by Condé Nast Publications, The Gourmet Cookie Book {buy it here}
(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Directions
In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the unsweetened chocolate, 1½ cups of the chocolate chips, and the butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth, and remove the bowl from the heat. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Ina  bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale, and beat in the espresso powder and the vanilla. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, fold in the flour mixture, and stir in the remaining 1½ cups chocolate chips. Let the batter stand for 15 minutes. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake the cookies in the middle of a preheated 350ºF oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are puffed and shiny and cracked on top. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, transfer them to racks, and let them cool completely.

Recipe Notes
  1. Err on the side of underbaking these cookies. They are meant to be soft and rich.
  2. Cool for one minute on the baking sheet before transferring the cookies to racks.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Zeleny Art Fair

For those of you in the Kansas City Metro area, I'd like to invite you to the Zeleny Art Fair.

Zeleny Art Fair will feature a wide variety of Eco-friendly art & craft vendors, including Violet's Buds & GipsonWands.
Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 16, 2012

and the winner is...

Thank you to all who entered Violet's Buds 1st Anniversary Giveaway! I would also like to thank all of the giveaway sponsors:

Clair's Freebies
Clair's Spot
Elizabeth Alta Jewelry
Modern Mommy Crochet 
Visions of Photographs Danced in Their Heads
Trés Chic Models
Alphabet Art
Heart For Your Home
ThreeTwentyThree Creations
Shelby Jo Photography
Monkey-Do's Boutique
Crafty Momma of 2
Totally TuTus
Taylor Elchert Photography
Crafty Kelli's Baby Accessories
Loopsy Daisy
Silver Wings Designs
Jane's Boutique
Lets Play Pretend
Flutterby Kisses
Little Tickle Boutique 
Its a Baby Thing
Violets R Blue Boutique
Missy's Musings
Cherished custom creations by Rebecca Lopez
Avon with Iaisha
Cutesy Caceres Crochet
Hunny Bee Kids
Rockin' Bow-tique

Please stop by and show the sponsors some love!

The winner of the Violet's Buds 1st Anniversary Giveaway is...

Jessica McMasters

Congratulations! You have 48 hours to contact me at violetsbuds@hotmail.com to claim your prizes! If no contact is made within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  Participants are providing information to Violet's Buds and not to Facebook.
Violet's Buds, or any of the sponsors, are not responsible for any computer or website malfunctions during the giveaway. Incomplete entries will not be accepted.
By entering the contest you are agreeing to these terms and conditions. You may not reside in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India according to Facebook rules. International players may enter but may be responsible for the shipping if they wish to redeem their prize.  If you are not willing to pay shipping, do not enter. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pinterest Project: Birdseed Wreath

I've been a little bird-obsessed lately. I love watching the birds come to the feeders, especially in the morning while I have breakfast. V & I both like pointing out the different birds.
Recently I went to a bird banding event at the Burroughs Audubon Nature Center & Bird Sanctuary. It was pretty informative, and a lot of fun. After catching & banding the birds, they let the guests help let the birds go! Here I am holding a Dark-Eye Junco moments before releasing him. He was so soft!


My friend also got this amazing shot of the bird-banding expert being bitten by a male cardinal, who was ready to be released.

After the fun at the Burroughs Center, plus the Great Backyard Bird Count, I wanted to attract more birds to the yard. I have one seed feeder, a thistle feeder and one suet feeder, but that doesn't seem like enough (for me). I saw this very cute birdseed wreath on Pinterest, which took me to the blog post at Under the Table Dreaming.
I was antsy to get started, and didn't have the time to run to the thrift store to try to find a suitable mold (since I don't own a jello mold, or a bundt cake pan). Instead, I used a pie tin, and put a ramekin in the center.
 I sprayed the tin/ramekin with non-stick spray, then added the birdseed mix. To make the mix, dissolve 2 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin into 1 cup of water over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of birdseed. Once the seed is completely coated, press into mold.


 Let the birdseed sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours for the gelatin to set. After 2 hours (or more), remove the wreath from the mold. Take a ribbon and tie it in the center for hanging. 
We placed the wreath in the backyard near our other feeders, and it didn't take long for the birds to find it. The downy woodpeckers seemed especially fond of it. Unfortunately, so did the squirrels. It took 4 days for the squirrels to completely destroy the wreath and cart off all the hunks of seed-gelatin. It was still worth it to see the woodpeckers on the wreath in the morning.
This was a super easy project, and could be made into many shapes. I think it works best in the winter/early spring so that the temps aren't warm enough to melt the gelatin.
Happy Birdwatching!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Violet's Buds 1st Anniversary Celebration

Thank you to all our fans & fellow vendor pages for supporting Violet's Buds for the past year, let's celebrate our 1st anniversary with a big giveaway!
One lucky fan will win ALL of these prizes! The winner will be chosen & announced on March 16th, and will have 48 hours to contact Violet's Buds to claim their prizes.
Check out the list of prizes, and then enter below using the Rafflecopter widget. You must fill out the form & like each of the Facebook pages to enter the giveaway. We've also included several optional entries to increase your chances of winning.
It is not mandatory, but it is nice to stop by the vendor pages and show them some love for donating to our giveaway.
The prizes:
Violet's Buds  Mystery Grab Bag, value $25, and Free shipping to US & Canada
Elizabeth Alta Jewelry  $25 Store Credit

Clair's Freebies  $50 Grocery & Household coupon envelope (US Only)

Clair's Spot  3pack Scentsy Bars

Modern Mommy Crochet  $20 Etsy Shop Credit


Tres' Chic Models  Free Forever Photographer Listing -or- 50% off Model Listing

Alphabet Art  Winner's choice of any TWO 8x10 Printable Typography Designs (custom or pre-made)

Heart For Your Home  Long-Eared Pup hat in 0-3month size, free US shipping, $5 Canada shipping

ThreeTwentyThree Creations  one custom-made item of the winners choice from website or Facebook
Shelby Jo Photography  Free Custom Design Package
Monkey Do's Boutique  Mother's nest necklace OR ring. Winners choice of number and colors of eggs, wire and chain color and style, and optional charm
Crafty Momma of 2   newborn petti romper crocheted in red and white, with Free Shipping to US (cost to Canada)
Totally TuTus  $20 Gift Certificate
Taylor Elchert Photography   One Mini Session (for North Ohio residents only) The session must take place in June, July, or early August of this year. It is valued at $65.
Crafty Kelli's Baby Accessories   Tie Onesie or T-Shirt (any size up to 6/8) with Free Shipping
Loopsy Daisy  Vintage lace with rhinestone button headband & Free Shipping
Silver Wings Designs  $25 gift certificate
Jane's Boutique  Bow set with Free Shipping
Lets Play Pretend  $15 gift certificate (does not apply to shipping)
Flutterby Kisses  Dragonfly bracelet with Free Shipping to US & Canada
 

Its a Baby Thing   Winner's Choice of Easter taggie blanket for Boy or Girl (sample shown)
Violets R Blue Boutique  Hot pink polka dot 4" corker bow headband & Free US Shipping
Missy's Musings   winner's choice of legwarmers and crib shoes(from our instock selection) & Free Shipping

Cherished Custom Creations by Rebecca Lopez Two Hello Kitty Jumbo Bottlecap Paperclips ~ Colors in stock & Free Shipping to US or Canada
 
Avon with Iaisha  Vanilla NATURALS mini body lotion and shower gel (US only) & Free Shipping


Cutesy Caceres Crochet    Winner's choice of hat & Free Shipping


 Hunny Bee Kids  Born to Wear Diamonds outfit, size small (does not include headband) & Free Shipping

Rockin' Bow-tique Hair bow shown, plus $5 Gift Certificate

Little Tickle Boutique  Surprise skirt or shorts, sizes available 3months - 6 years & Free Shipping

The Fine Print:
This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  Participants are providing information to Violet's Buds and not to Facebook. Violet's Buds is not responsible for any computer or website malfunctions during the giveaway. Incomplete entries will not be accepted.
By entering the contest you are agreeing to these terms and conditions. You may not reside in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India according to Facebook rules. International players may enter but may be responsible for the shipping if they wish to redeem their prize.  If you are not willing to pay shipping, do not enter. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.
Excited to win these prizes? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pinterest Playtime: Curing Cabin Fever

This winter has been a rough one for us. Although we've experienced a milder winter weather-wise, our family has caught every cold that's come our way. We're going a little batty from being closed in together. For my daughter and I, some of our only sanity-savers have been the projects I stumbled upon while meandering through Pinterest.
I got the idea of bathtub water coloring from Thoughts from the Courage Zone, which has some great toddler activity ideas. I put V in the tub with a small cup of water, a paintbrush & watercolors.
This was the first time she had played with watercolors, so it was a lot of fun. After she had colored quite a bit, I added a spray bottle & a squeeze bottle of water so we could watch the colors run. Finally, I got out a "Magic Eraser" and let her help me clean up the mess. She had fun making the colors disappear.
One of our next rainy-day projects was one I found on Toddler Approved! They suggested making a tower out of cut (new) kitchen sponges. I had picked up a package of cheap sponges at the store awhile back as an emergency playtime activity.

It was nice to have an emergency go-to. V had fun stacking the sponges, knocking them over and throwing them on the floor. The best part? It was all quiet!
If all else fails, I pull out the spray bottle (water only) and hand it to V.
She knows that its ok to spray the windows, doors, herself, the dogs, or the plants.  When she sprays the windows, I give her a rag and let her wipe up the water. Its fun to pretend to clean!

One of our recent not-as-sick days, we managed to get outside for awhile. I borrowed this activity from our Parents As Teachers educator. I've seen several blogs that suggest using beans or rice for kids to scoop & pour with. Our PAT educator suggested using birdseed-- if its spilled or gets dirty, we can throw it outside for the birds, without wasting any food! I also like that V gets different textures, shapes & colors with the variations in the birdseed.

This was one of our favorite activities. V quietly played with the seed for at least 15 minutes. When she started getting bored, we took turns spreading the birdseed out in the yard. Then at lunchtime we got to watch the birds eat the seed.
I love to find new activities. What are your favorite blogs?