Last night I walked into the kitchen feeling like a baking god and walked out feeling like an ass. Two marshmallows. I found a really creative, fun and simple recipe for Valentine's Day, Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats. I'm a red velvet fanatic in addition to being a lover of Rice Krispie treats.  So in my eyes this was a match made in heaven.  

After a long day of teaching, a quick stop by the office, and then some more dancing I came home to whip up a couple batches of these that I planned to drop off at Scott's work later that night. I was really excited to make them and it was a good excuse to see Scott since I had only seen him in passing that day. The recipe is pretty basic and doesn't require much. When I added the chocolate chips I found that they started to get messy fairly quickly. This resulted in some ugly pieces I tried my best to cut out of the Rice Krispie treats.

For my next batch I added mini marshmallows because I'm obsessed with the Starbucks Rice Krispie treats. There have been many weeks that I survived on Rick Krispie treats and coffee alone. Here I am thinking what a great idea this was and how cute the white marshmallows will look with the red velvet. As I'm stirring I was becoming more and more confident and thinking how much better the marshmallows will be than those messy chocolate chips. I was absolutely 100% wrong. The chocolate chips had nothing on those marshmallows. They stuck to everything, I could barely get the top of the Rice Krispies flat because they stuck to everything. Not even the worlds biggest tub of butter could have saved this mess.  Then came time to cut them. Well if I thought they were messy before I was wrong. Trying to get them out of the pan and to look pretty on a plate was not happening.  With some patience and by losing many pieces to the trash I was finally able to get them on the plate.  My guess is that they stuck together whenever you tried to pick one up.  Maybe I should have waited longer before cutting them.  

Needless to say I dropped them off and Scotts work and 9 hours later...the plate was back in my sink empty. The chocolate chip was by far the favorite. What I love most was the taste of red velvet and not just regular old Rice Krispie treats with red food coloring.  I tried a few different recipes and I found this one worked the best.

Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats
Runs with Spatulas

3 tablespoons butter
1 (10.5 ounce) bag mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup red velvet cake mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 tablespoon sprinkles
4 ounces white chocolate chips, melted

Line a 9x13-inch pan with wax paper; coat well with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, stirring frequently, until melted. Stir in vanilla and cake mix until fully combined and no lumps remain. Stir in cereal, making sure it is well-coated with marshmallow mixture. Transfer Rice Krispie mixture to the prepared pan, pressing down until the top is level. Top with sprinkles and drizzle with melted white chocolate.
Valentine's have come so far since I was a kid, especially now with pinterest the possibilities are endless.  No longer are the days when you drive to the store and pick out your favorite cards to give out to your classmates.  Although when I was a kid we rarely did that.  My mom always ordered them from what I'm guessing was some teacher magazine.  Our's were always a little extra special I clearly remember having ones that turned into cootie catchers one year!  I was having fun searching for cute DIY valentine ideas the other day and thought I would share some of my favorites with you!

I can't stand maraschino cherries. Honestly I think they are cherry trash! Maybe it's because I was raised in Michigan which is home to the cherry capital of the world. Maybe it's because I spent many years pondering if they even start out as real cherries...they do if you were wondering. Frankly I think its because they taste so fake and sugary and I am very fond of eating real cherries. I hate them in drinks and on name it and I can't stand them! Until now. I do love them in these cherry & chocolate shortbread cookies. And I do remember my aunt telling me once that back in her college days they would drain out the liquid from the cherries and fill it with vodka, back when I was 21 this sounded like a good idea. Today, however, one shot of vodka and Scott would be carrying me home.

When I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for this recipe I stared at that jar of cherries for a minute and thought how much I was going to hate putting them in my cart and bringing them home. I did it anyway! Turns out I was actually pretty pleased with this recipe. I think it's a great twist on a classic shortbread cookie and a great way to celebrate Valentine's Day, bakers style. The biscuit like texture pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the maraschino cherries.

Katie's Notes:
-The dough is a little tough to work with while mixing because it is a short bread. Don't be surprised when you keep adding dry ingredient after dry ingredient and you begin to in the h*#$ is this exactly going to turn in to a nice soft eventually does.
- I stuck my cherries in the food processor and chopped them up into smaller pieces than the original blogger did. This made me feel better about using the Maraschino Cherries. I couldn't fathom biting into those cookies and finding a huge piece of maraschino.
-For Christmas I make a similiar cookie, Peanut Butter Blossoms. When I make those I bake them for a minute less than the recipe calls for, pull them out, press the chocolate kisses into each cookie, and place them back into the oven for a minute. This makes the chocolate kisses stay somewhat soft and easier to eat. Just be careful. It will take a while for the kisses to cool and harden before you can move and stack them.

Click here for the link to the Curvy Carrot's Cherry Chocolate Kisses recipe.
I found this white vase at Cost Plus a few weeks ago and I'm obsessed. It's no secret I'm very fond of the color white. Scott is the only thing standing in my way from a house decorated entirely in white. Oh a girl can dream.

Anyway I was very excited to get some flowers into the new vase. My favorite flowers were MIA at the grocery store, go figure, peonies & hydrangeas. Instead I had to go with fuschia spray roses and white daises. I loved the way this vase full of flowers looked on my pink and red table runner and next to the silver mercury candlesticks.

Below are more floral ideas for Valentine's Day!
I L-O-V-E everything about Valentine's Day, but mostly I love that it's an excuse to make obnixously girly crafts. Also it's basically the only time of year that you can pair red and pink together and still be socially acceptable. Lately I've been seeing alot of polka dot scrapbook paper...and I'm a sucker for polka dots. When I ran across some scrapbook covered letters I knew I needed to make some for Valentine's Day. On my trip to the Hobby Lobby I picked up some paper mache letters and scrapbook paper. I'm really happy with how they turned out and they look so cute on my mirror. Such a cute craft idea for Valentine's Day.

-Paper Mache Letters
-White Paint (I used white spray paint)
-Scrapbook Paper
-Glue Runner

1. Outline letters on your scrapbook paper. Remeber to put the back of your letter on the front of the scrapbook paper, to ensure the right side is out when you glue it.
2. Cut out letters.
3. Spray paint the paper mache letters. Leaving plenty of time to dry. (I cut my letters out first so I didn't get any pencil markings on my nicely painted letters).
4. Glue runner the back of letters, be sure to get all of the corners.
5. Attach the paper to the front of the paper mache letters? Press firmly.

Enjoy your L-O-V-E letters!
Anyone with a pinterest account has seen something covered in moss hanging goregously at a wedding, on a door, or displayed on a table. Crafters around the country rejoiced at the sight of these and now probably have their very own moss covered hanging displayed somewhere throughout their house. Mine just so happens to be a Valentine's Day heart. Aside from making a small mess it may have been the easiest and quickest craft I've ever made.

In other big news I had my FIRST Hobby Lobby expierence. I was "that" person aimlessy walking around in awe. In fact I was in such a state of shock that I actually only walked the perimiter of the store for about an hour. As a first timer I was trying to get my bearings but instead I ended up making a trip after trip across the store, to one side for burlap, forgot the scrapbook paper back to the other side again, and of course there were many spur of the moment purchases. All in all I am hooked! Great prices, almost anything you could ever need, great finds for a new homeowner, and just another place that crafters like me can aimlessy walk and think of the possibilites.

Moss Heart Hanging - Instructions

- Moss Mat (don't bother with the loose'll thank me later)
- Shape of your choice (I used a stiff felt heart, for a more two dimensional look use the cardboard paper mache letters & shapes, alos a wooden cut out would work.)
- Hot Glue
- Tulle or Ribbon to hang

Step 1.
Unfold your moss mat and carefully lay it upside down.

Step 2.
Lay your design upside down on the mat and trace around it.

Step 3.
Using a pair of "not nice/not your favorite scissors" cut your shape out.

Step 4.
If you are using a two dimensional shape you will need to trace the sides to cut pieces to cover them.

Step 5.
Using hot glue, glue the moss mat to your object. I glued half of my heart from the back then flipped it over and glued the other half. This was helpful in ensuring I covered each half with enough glue before it hardened.

Step 6.
Glue ribbon or tulle to the back and tie in a bow.

TA-DA...done! Now you'll just need to spend a minute cleaning up the moss that has fallen off.
On Christmas night, in the snow, on the porch of my childhood home Scott told me I was pretty and asked me to marry him.  Words clearly cannot express how excited I am, not only to be engaged but to spend the rest of my life with someone I completely adore and never thought I'd find. 

I wanted to share my GORGEOUS ring with you!  The center ring is made out of rose gold and the diamond is my great grandmothers. She was an incredible woman and an inspiration to everyone in our family.  My great grandma left her engagement ring to my mom when she passed away and my mom passed it on to me.  The settings on her ring was old and worn, so it was placed on a new rose gold band and an exact match to her setting was remade for mine.   The two adorning bands are of course just there to add a little more sparkle.  Oddly enough I love having options, someday's I wear them all, someday's I wear one, and much to Scott's dismay someday's I wear none. 

Let the planning begin...or not!
Where Scott proposed!
Christmas has been the holiday that just keeps on keeping on this year! We finally had our last Christmas celebration on Sunday. Usually I'm sad to take the decorations down but after spending this last week trying to keep the garland alive I was ready for it to be over.

For this Christmas celebration we decided to have a simple brunch. I, of course, had the perfect centerpieces to adorn the tables with, cranberries and white flowers. This arrangement is my favorite holiday go to. Nothing too fancy but still elegant with a Christmas touch. The white flowers pop when they are next to the bright red cranberries. Typically I use white hydranges but there were none to be found on Sunday. Instead I decided to go with white spray roses. Unfortunatley they weren't enough of these so I added in some red ones as well. I made small arrangements in 5 bud vases and placed them down the center of our 2 long tables. A perfect holiday centerpiece for our last Christmas celebration.

Our holidays were wonderful and filled with plenty of friends, family, and so much love. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
I was blown away this Christmas at all the handmade goodies my family made for eachother as gifts. My cousin John by far out did us all. There is just an overwhelming feeling of love that comes along with a handmade gift. I am always amazed that someone would take the time and effort to make something just for me.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you that my niece, Madelyn James, has completely stolen my heart. There is nothing I love more than spending some time running around, screaming, and being crazy with my little peanut! This Christmas my mom and sister made me one of the best Christmas gifts I've ever recieved. It was a framed picture made by cutting circles of Madelyn's first fingerpainting. Last Christmas I bought Maddie a set of fingerpaints. When we pulled them out and started painting Maddie was a little wary of the texture but eventually started having some fun with it. However I think she had more fun squeezing all the paint out of the bottles ranther than painting.

What a great way to save and display childrens artwork? They cut her painting into circles, then using those circles created a design on black cardstock. After they finished they matted and framed the artwork. I LOVE IT!!! It's already displayed proudly in my living room.
My sweet Maddie boo and her first finger painting project, December 2011.
The wait is finally over my homemade vanilla is done and ready to use. It was so fulfilling to open those bottles and smell that sweet creamy vanilla smell.

I found a couple of free printable Homemade Vanilla labels online but wasn't able to make them work with really cute Martha Stewart labels I bought at Staples. Yes it's true Martha is now EVERYWHERE, grocery stores, office supplies stores, and craft stores. There was a huge selection of labels in her line at staples. Labels that were dishwasher safe and perfect for canning, removable adhesive labels, and an array of colors, shapes and sizes. I was beyond excited to find kraft paper labels, these were the ones I decided on. After many attempts at trying to make one of the pre-designed labels fit I finally chose my sanity over a trendy homemade vanilla label design. After a slight meltdown over wireless printers and printer cartridges I was able to complete my labels, and I love them. If you could have seen the care I took in cleaning each bottle before applying the label you would have died laughing. One thing remains clear...I need a life!  

Here is the link to my original post with instructions included, click here.

Vanilla beans from Beanilla
4oz amber bottles from Rose Mountain Herbs
Labels from Martha Stewart Office (available at Staples)

Note: I used 3 bottles of 750ml bottles of vodka and got 17 4 oz bottles of vanilla from them.  I did have to dump some vodka out when I put the vanilla beans in the jar.  Next time I would transfer the vodka and beans to mason jars.

Below are some links to the free labels templates I found:
Style Me Pretty
Marry This
Live Laugh Rowe
Simply Notable