Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Um, Yum: Mini Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

One thing (out of many) that I love about fall is my desire to bake! Cooking is the mister's area of expertise; but give me a whisk and I shine! So even though fall hasn't quite come around, I jumped at the opportunity to make the dessert for a Sunday event. I wanted to keep it light, so I took a chance on some mini cupcakes. C'mon, who doesn't love mini food! (I'ts got a sneaky way of making you feel skinny!) After spending the time on the perfect cupcake, I knew no canned frosting would do. The recipe I used is the end result of browsing various websites and choosing bits and pieces of the ones I liked most: 

Mini Lemon Cupcakes:
(This gave me about 60 baby cakes)
  • 1 box lemon cake mix, any brand
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (not just for all things beautyor 3/4 cup vegetable oil (not both!)
  • lemon juice to taste
Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Add wet ingredients.  Slowly mix with electric mixer, adding lemon juice to taste as desired. This mixture will be thick! Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes*, checking often. The pudding mix and oil combination will leave an amazing texture. 
*This was the time I used for mini cupcakes. Regular sized should be baked according to directions on box.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8oz cold cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 cups powdered sugar
Add top three ingredients in a bowl. Slowly, add 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat together for about 90 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. If your mixture is too thin, add more sugar. I found 3 cups was perfect for me, however if you plan on piping with the frosting you may want to add more. 

I decided it was a smart idea to practice piping on parchment paper before the actual cupcake! These turned out wonderful and I received so many compliments on them. If you give this a shot  I would love to know how they turned out for you!

Do you have a go-to dessert recipe? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

We're On Pinterest!

Follow The Tiny Luxuries on Pinterest! I'm always looking for new people to follow, too!

Crafts to "DIY" For: Chalkboard Wine Glasses

Here's an easy way to spruce up some boring wine glasses. You can personalize them in way that's a bit more fun than the same wine charms we've all seen before. I happened to make 20 of these little guys for my mister's restaurant. In about an hours' time I managed to make these great little conversation starters:

-Chalkboard paint. I opted for spray paint because, well it's always much cheaper!
-Basic sticky labels. These probably are already laying around your house somewhere, but if not they're pretty inexpensive 
-Chalk! The colored pack seemed a bit more fun than the white.
-String of some sort. I happened to have some hemp leftover from the bridal shower invitations.

Step 1: Spray your labels according to directions. Let dry.
Step 2: Apply labels to glasses
Step 3: Attach chalk

Okay, how easy were these?! I think these would also make for great gifts around the holidays given as a set. If you're not 21, these are still a great idea and the possibilities are endless. Or a great icebreaker for your next party! And the plus side, I have a whole can of chalkboard paint and an almost full pack of labels. I may or may not go on a small "chalkboard everything  I can get my hands on" frenzy! 

Do you have any creative ways to use chalkboard paint? Would you use this method for wine (or any) glasses? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surprisingly Stylish: Kmart Boots!

Let me tell you, I am one frugal gal. While I do agree in investing in good quality staples (little black dress, classic pumps, sturdy pea-coat), it seems silly to splurge on a whole new wardrobe every season. So when I find a great deal, I'm happy as a clam (how happy are clams, anyway?). And of course, I want to share them  with all of you! 

Here's the deal: The Kmarts in my town all closed up (or so I thought!) and they seemed to be gone forever, a long lost childhood candy land. A good friend of mine needed some materials for our pub crawl costumes(!) and, oddly, no store in town had what we were looking for. What a surprise when she ended up on my doorstep, supply list completed, and said she got everything at Kmart! Turns out, there is one left in town, it just happens to be in a pretty sketchy part of town.

Here are some ankle boots perfect for fall that I can't wait to go try on!

These little ankle booties are going to look great with some tights and a flirty dress. Plus, they look soooo much like the Steve Madden ones I spotted the other day! $16.99

Bongo Women's Hideaway Sueded Short Cowboy Boot - Taupe at
 Pinch me now! I love the rocker vibe these ankle boots have, but if you look closely, the feminine detail gives a vintage touch. At $19.99, they've got the perfectly worn in look with the brand new glory!

Pink Duchess Women's Mae Flat Ankle Bootie - Black at

To go out with a bang, check out the stunning Sparkle Lace up Botties! Treat these right and they'll reward you with plenty of compliments! With good reason; how perfect would these be with a pair of skinnies and a that perfect top?! $22.49

Qupid Women's Puffin-06 Sparkle Lace Up Bootie - Champagne Glitter at

Aren't you so excited for boot weather? Have you purchased anything fun at Kmart recently? I'm dying to know!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Life Lesson: Arguing With Love

     So, the mister and I had a fight disagreement (never really know the appropriate term. Fight sounds too intense, but disagreement sounds too mild) this morning. It's tough to actually tell our "fighting style" being that  it's uncommon for us to actually fight. Not saying we are the perfect couple (because how boring is that?!) I think it comes down to us both having been in serious relationships before and have grown and matured from them. And, at the end of it all, our argument this morning was, perhaps a little exaggerated on my part. Mister stayed out a little later than he should have (maybe me accidentally taking his car keys made it tough to get home!), I made him feel guilty, he apologized. Yet,  I kept feeling like it was a forced apology and didn't want to hear it. All the sudden, though, it dawned on me: What we're arguing over doesn't  make you any less of a boyfriend or person.

     What if every argument we asked ourselves this: Does this make he/she any less of a person? Not just boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife relationships. I'm talking friends, family, bosses... anyone in your life.
     If  your significant other consistently leaves the toilet seat up, is it worth picking an argument that could potentially jeopardize you relationship? Your best friend that may be a little boy crazy: Does her always dating someone new really put a damper in your friendship? Sometimes, the answer is yes. And there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe just remember the reason you were first drawn to this person and ask yourself if at the end of the day you still want them and their influences in your life. Is this little issue going to matter in a week? Six months? If the answer is no, then your'e probably doing okay.

What's your best advice on dealing with arguments and disagreements? 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beauty Bit: Lush's Solid Shampoo Conditioner Reviews

"These look like hokey pucks" I thought as I sniffed the selection of solid shampoos and conditioners and LUSH. If your'e like me, LUSH makes you fell warm inside and nostalgic of a kid in a candy store. If your'e also like me, your LUSH experience is 3+ hours away and usually ends up via scrolling through the website (which, I suppose helps with impulse buys). For a while I was so intrigued by the hokey puck hair products but never actually tried them. About a year ago, while visiting family in Santa Barbara, I forgot to pack my hair products and ,oh darn, had to test the ones out at LUSH! Well, being a year ago, I've gotten the chance to try out a few of their solid products and finally narrowed it down to my top shampoo and conditioner:

                              Godiva Shampoo:
GodivaThis yellow puck is the best squeaky clean shampoo I've yet to try. You wet your hair and rub this around your head a few times until you feel a small lather. First impression: BOOM! Instant jasmine infused hair, and who doesn't love that? This product makes my hair feel so clean that I've taken to only using it about once a week* so the natural oils have a chance to replenish my hair. The scent stays well enough to get random bursts of jasmine throughout the day, but not too much that it smells like you crashed into the plant itself. Another bonus of this shampoo is the va-va- volume it gives my hair!

Jungle  Jungle Conditioner:

While the green little disk may not look like much, it is a great instant hair softening product. The scent is pleasant and natural; not a floral or fruity smell that may make others step way from you. My first expericance with Jungle was odd: while applying it on wet hair it felt terrible! I thought "Yuck, my hair is going to fell worse than before". I figured the more product I apply, the better. How wrong I was! The directions suggest rubbing the bar about three times on your head, and trust me, three times is enough. It wont' feel like it though, and you will be tempted to put more. It wasn't until my hair dried that  I realized I looked like a big, greasy mess! 

Back in the shower I went, this time following directions (all the while still doubting them). Fast forward to dry hair and I was amazed! A year later this is my go-to hair softner.

Have you tried these or any other solid hair products from LUSH? Leave your recommendations below! 

Back to School Bucketlist: 5 Things to do before summer ends

Ah, August. The bittersweet month of limbo between long, carefree days and anticipating returning to school as a fresh, new person! Back to school was always, in my mind, a fresh start and new chance to "find" myself. Here are some things to get done before leaving for college in a new town (or the same!) and making this summer the most memorable yet!

1. Find yourself: Now, of course there are many years ahead to find yourself, but I'm speaking small here. Try a new hobby (yoga, cooking, photography) or rekindle your passion for an old one. There are sure to be  classes/clubs all over your new town to check out. The best way to meet and bond with new people is over a shared passion.
      Sticking with the same group of friends this school year? A hobby all for yourself will set you apart from everyone else and help broaden your circle. I wish I had my own niche in high school; with all the dances, games, parties, etc, there's no time for alone time! Always make that a priority!

2. Say Sorry: We all know the lovely high school drama. Well, that's exactly it: high school drama. There's nothing worse than starting a new school year (and possibly new town) with the "what if's?". What if.... you had called Amy and invited her to lunch before she moved? or invited Lisa to that party before school?
     Be the bigger person and try to resolve whatever issues had come up before. You'll feel better going into September with good scores all around. Also, it will say a lot about your character to be the one to apologize  first. Remember, six months down the road you may regret not talking to certain friends!

3. Learn How to Drive Stick Shift! Okay, so this is something I think you should do whether your'e going back to school or not. Call a buddy who can teach you and ask for an afternoon lesson. You never know what circumstance your'e going to be in in a new town; if stick shift is your only option, you'll be thankful you learned! Bonus points: everyone digs a girl who can drive a manual!

4. Hang Out With Your Parents:  No matter how old you are, this is one you'll never regret! Come September, your'e going to be one busy bee and one day break down while saying to yourself, "I want my mommy!" (At 24, this still happens to me. I've come to accept it never goes away!) Invite mom shopping or take dad to see that new movie. Those few hours won't cut into your social life, but will mean more to them than you realize.

5. Set Goals: Like I said, fall has always given me "fresh start" vibes, even more than New Years itself! Maybe it's the back-to-school mood everyone seems to fall into, or maybe it's the Betty Homemaker mood I seem to fall into. Either way, I always make a few small goals for myself every school year. They range from being a better student to getting better about saving money. Because nobody's perfect, we all have areas we can improve. Having a few, small goals is a way to constantly help us become better, more well rounded people.

                  Do you have any Back to School Bucketlist goals (that's a mouthful)? What are your biggest worries/excitements about starting school this year? 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crafts to "DIY" for: Adorable Bridal Shower Invitations

In a few weeks a girlfriend and I are hosting a rustic themed bridal shower. Now,  I say invitations are one of the most important pieces to any party: they set the tone of the event, giving your guests a sneak preview into what kind of party it is! 
Unable to find anything I could get in a timely manner, I opted to make my own. After browsing around Etsy for ideas, I decided on a simple design with a bow to hold it all together. You lift the front to reveal the information underneath! These turned out better than I was hoping, I can't wait to send them out! 

The base of the invitations are just brown card stock cut down with rounded corners. Some minty scrap booking paper makes for the perfect background for the whimsical bride and groom stamp! Some dark hemp at the top and ivory lace around the edge give these invitations the perfect "feel" for the upcoming shower. These were incredibly easy to make and could easily be modified for any occasion. I'm already planning our Christmas cards! 

Do you make your own cards/invites to events? Would you ever consider doing this style? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Upcycle your closet!


With fashion and trends changing with every season, it's near impossible to keep up on all of them and keep your closet and wallet happy. One of my favorite things is making over my un-worn clothes and turning them into something fabulous! Here are a few of my favorite makeovers I found while browsing the internet:
I looovee how she used and old sweater to make an adorable turban style headband! These give such and effortless chic look to any outfit. Instructions here.

Who doesn't love an open back for summer? This website is in Spanish, however she provides plenty of pictures to help you out. 

And my favorite Tshirt makeover! Perfect for older shirts that run a bit snug now! Trash To Couture has endless ideas on upcycling your old clothes.

                        Do you have any ways to makeover old clothes? 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crafts to "DIY" for: Melted Crayon Art

It seems everywhere you look there is a new version of melted crayon art, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I jumped on board for this fun craft. I, of course, wanted to take it one step further and have it span across two canvases. The stencils are some I found browsing the internet and then modified them so they actually fit nicely together. Unfortunately, this was such a messy process that documenting the steps slipped my mind, but here is the inspiration for my piece with some great step-by-step directions. Believe me, this took much, much longer than expected*, however I am so happy with the finished project! Now I just need to find the perfect place to hang it...
                                   Melted crayon art!!
*I opted for dollar store crayons, assuming the poorer quality would melt quicker. WRONG! Crayola is the way to go!

                     Have you attempted a melted crayon project? 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Coconut Oil Love Affair

As I get older, it's more important that I find simple ways to make by beauty routing more "green". So imagine the joy when I found all the benefits of coconut oil. For cooking, right? Aha, we've only scratched the surface! This stuff is beyond amazing:

Believe me, I too was apprehensive about putting cooking oil on my face. However, after doing plenty of research , I found coconut oil to be anti-bacterial, has antioxidant properties, the best make up remover,  and jam packed with tons of other beneficial stuff for your skin!

It's about three months since I lathered up my face with heavenly goop, and my only regret is not starting sooner! If you're dry skinned, like me, this is an absolute beauty must. The scent is pleasant, but not too overbearing. Even if you don't like coconut, the scent fades very quickly and the benefits highly outweigh the scent! Like any oil, it is oily! (imagine that) I lather up before bed and wake up needed no moisturizer at all. I buy mine at Trader Joe's for about $6 for 16oz. I could write pages on uses for this stuff; however, for the sake of my fingers,  here  are some other great ideas!

                                          Have you ever tried coconut oil? Are you curious? 

Crafts to DIY for: Personalized Coffee Mugs

While this DIY would be a little more fitting for the cooler months, I am so excited to try out these personalized coffee mugs! I started with dollar store white mugs and black permanent markers.
After doing some serious searching, I came across the perfect stencils for our initials. I taped the printout onto the mugs and vigorously drew over it with the marker. 

I decided to keep these simple being my first attempt. A few more polka-dots on the handle and a little heart on the bottom (because we're all cute and in love like that) completes the look. 
Pop these in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour and , viola! Drinking time. What a perfect idea for gifts for all occasions! 

Have you tried this DIY yet? Leave your results below! 

Beauty Bit: Drugstore Purchases

As it would be, right when I declare Tiny Luxuries will only have "a little bit of beauty" in it, I go ahead and post a whole bit about makeup! So be it. Having recently ran out of foundation, I decided this was the perfect time to test out some highly praised BB Creams. I grabbed ones from my favorite drugstore brands, Maybelline and Garnier. As soon as I get enough wear out of them, I'll write up a comparison. 

Not wanting my lases to feel neglected, I picked out a new mascara too. I opted for the Voluminous False Fiber Lases by Loreal. Perhaps the shiny tube may have swayed my decision?! And lastly, my hard-working hands deserve a little love too, so I finally grabbed a lilac color (I am probably the last person in their twenties to have purchased this!).

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have any questions about any items I purchased? Leave them in the comments below! 

Here It Is...

So, here is the blog I’ve been contemplating for some while now. Maybe it’s the over induced wine, or maybe it’s the procrastination of cleaning the house (we’re off to a great start, eh?!). Whatever the reason, it’s finally coming to life. Little Luxuries will be a place of easy DIY crafts and food. A lot of discussion; I want this to be very inviting for everyone. And, while I do think the 1000+ girls on youtube have it under control, maybe a little bit of beauty and fashions (being a girl, I feel that one is sort of inevitable!). So stay a while, bear with me during this process, and let’s get to know each other. I’m dying to know who you are and how you found me!