Custom Trinket Box

 

 

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Happy V-day, Darlings!

I know that you’ll all be receiving copious amounts of bling from your many gentleman (or lady) callers today, so I thought it might be fun to put together a customized trinket box using old-school decoupage. This way, you can show off your personality while neatly storing your stash.

First things first. You’ll need:

    • A storage container. I used an inexpensive wooden box from the craft store, but even a cardbox box should do.
    • Mod Podge and Sealant
    • Scrapbook paper, pictures, etc. that appeal to you
    • Paintbrush
    • Optional: screwdriver, paint

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For my box, I started by removing all of the hardware. I then applied the mod podge to the inner and outer surfaces and applied scrapbook paper.

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I then chose to paint the inner and outer edges black rather than fight to get the correct measurements. Lessons learned: It would have been way easier to do this step BEFORE applying the paper.

Finally, I was able to apply fun pictures to the box using more mod podge and spray with a sealant. For this project, I chose campy vintage horror chicks because I thought it would go really well with the serpent green color of this paper. I also opted to pass on reinstalling the hardware because I like ease of this clasp-less version. Also, I’m lazy.

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Voila! A cute and kitschy storage solution that will last long after you’re over all of the cheesy Valentine’s day cliches.

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Getting Organized

HELLO! It has been so long since I have a posted here. I have been on “maternity leave”. I use that term loosely since as a stay-at-home mom there is no real maternity leave…or weekends, vacations or time off in general. However my wife has been on maternity leave and I decided to take a break from everything and join her in adjusting to our new family dynamic. It has been amazing to watch Peanut transition into the roll of big brother.

Anyways, let’s get right in to it. I generally don’t set new year’s resolutions; mainly because I know that I will not be keeping them. I have a sort of an “aim low and never be disappointed” mentality regarding new years resolutions. This year is a little bit different though. I really wanted to get organized in all parts of my life. With two kids, a bigger house and B about to go back to work, I feel like things tend to slip through cracks and sometimes it can be just overwhelming to manage. While browsing the interwebs I came across the site Clean Mama. I really like how she managed her household with an old school binder and schedules. Everything was centrally located and therefore easy to find and cross reference. A couple days spent in the instagram rabbit-hole looking at planners and I was hooked.

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Filofax A5, Saffiano Raspberry

I went with the Filofax planner in the size A5; which is basically a half sheet of paper. Mine came with a weekly calendar, some graph paper, some plain lined paper and contacts inserts. You can get tons of inserts out there to organize every aspect of your life. They range in price from free to as high as $100.

DSC_2334I really wanted to want to set mine up on the cheap; see above about aiming low. I figured if I don’t stick with this system at least it won’t have cost me a ton of money. I bought two sets of inserts off etsy, both for about $5 and printed and punched them myself. I also made my own dividers from regualr 8.5×11 dividers I bought on sale at Micheal’s.

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DSC_2335The first section I have is a monthly calendar. I think I paid $2 for this template on Etsy. I also have a cleaning schedule I downloaded for free from the Clean Mama website. I think I am going to make my own though because this one doesn’t cover everything I want to clean in a week.

DSC_2345In the next section I have a daily schedule. I am using this mainly to keep notes for what I need to remember each day. Pretty self explanatory.

DSC_2339I have a section for meal planning. I love planning out an entire week of meals. It so much easier than coming up with something every day at the last minute. Plus it helps me with my next section.

DSC_2340Grocery lists. Previously I went to the store every other day. It was basically an easy way for Peanut and I to get out of the house. It also led to a lot of needless spending. My goal is try only going to the grocery 1-2 times a week from here out.

DSC_2342Finally I have bill tracking. I have tracked our bills for years but in a separate notebook. I will be moving over to this planner this year.

I have more inserts for budgeting and I would like to add a section for the boys. I am starting with these for now and I plan to tweak throughout the year as I get a better feel for what I need to store in there. I also still use Evernote on my phone to keep track of running lists.

How do you stay organized?

Luxe Life

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As much as I love beauty products, paying a lot for something that will be washed down the drain can feel pretty self-indulgent. Having said that, self care is extremely important. Life is stressful (especially this time of year), and it’s easy to feel like you don’t have time or energy to unwind.

That’s probably why I choose to relax with beauty products most of the time. They feel luxurious, let me treat myself, and don’t really take much time (I mean…I have to bathe anyway, why not do it with something that smells amazing?). I recently ordered some items that are a bit more luxe that I typically purchase, but I really feel that all three of these are totally worth it.

1) Caudalie Make-up Removing Cleansing Water – I know, I know….I’m late to the micellar water party. But in all honesty, I kind of just expected it to be overly hyped…uh…water. So imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to sample this version and found it to be so much better. This cleansing water is a refreshing and eco-friendly alternative to make-up removing wipes (which always dry out before I use them all). It smells a bit like grapes and white tea, and somehow manages to get my skin clean with almost no effort and zero residue.

2) June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque – If you’re looking for a gentle way to make your skin glow, you REALLY need an enzyme mask or peel. These superstars are my favorite way to exfoliate, hands down. The fruit enzymes degunk your pores without causing irritation. This one by June Jacobs is on the more expensive side, but will seriously make you feel like you’re at a fancy spa. It goes on like a thick body butter, smells like a pina colada, and makes your skin feel like silk.

3) Tocca Nourishing Body Scrub (Cleopatra) – Ok. For those of you who are already fans of Tocca’s Cleopatra perfume, let me warn you. This elegant scrub does NOT share the spicy scent as the name implies. Instead, it has a very green cucumber fragrance. It’s still great, but not what I expected when I placed the order. The scrub itself is heaven. It starts out very grainy with good exfoliation. But then the sugar granules melt down to a supremely moisturizing olive oil base. The fragrance lingers long after your shower has ended which is a nice alternative to wearing a heavy perfume.

Now it’s your turn….what are your favorite luxe products?

Luxe Life_2

 

Trunk Makeover

Trunk MakeoverHello – long time no chat! This week is DIY project that I have been working on for the last two weeks. For a couple months now I have been looking for a bench for the front hall. I always ask people to take off their shoes when they come in to the house. Normally when they leave they either end up doing a one-legged dance while putting shoes on or sitting on the steps. I wanted some place people could sit, put on their shoes and not have to get in a workout. I have been slow in finding something though because I really didn’t want to spend a lot cash on it since I tend to consider it a more of a frivolous piece of furniture.

A couple weekends ago I was helping my sister move in to her first home. That’s where I saw it. She had a pile of stuff that she was getting rid of and right on the bottom was a trunk with a broken leg. I knew with a little work that it would perfect. Especially since it was free.

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Originally I wanted to remove all the animal print and preserve the interior lining. To start I carefully removed all the nailheads, so I could reuse them. Then, I removed about five staples in the lining and stabbed myself in the palm with a screwdriver before I decided that method was too damn tedious. At my wife’s suggestion, I ended up just cutting off the fabric from the lid. For the body, I decided to just leave the fabric on and cover over it with the new fabric.

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Repairing the leg was hardest part of the makeover. I used originally used a piece of cedar to stabilize the leg but it wasn’t thick enough and cracked when Peanut jumped on the trunk. So I went to Home Depot and got a thicker piece of wood. I used a Tee-Nut to attach the leg. I don’t have any pictures of this part because I took me a week and a half to get it to all work. Thankfully I only wanted to trash the whole thing 1,000 times before finally getting it to work. Yay, perseverance!

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In total this trunk cost me about $15 to recover. I picked up the fabric at Jo-Ann’s in the clearance bin, four yards cost $10. I used all the original hardware including the nail heads and picked up the wood to fix the broken leg in the Home Depot salvage bin. I love the end result. It fits all the criteria I had for a bench.

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How to be a #BOSS

Dear Readers, I apologize. I have stayed away from you for far too long. But I promise, my thoughts have been with you the entire time. I hope that you can forgive me for my lengthy vacation from writing.

The truth is, I have not had a vacation at all. For the past several months I have been stressing, prepping, interviewing for, stressing some more, and trying to wrap my head around a new job. Yes, dear readers, I am now a manager. The process was painful, competitive, and uncomfortable. But I did it. And then the real challenge began.

Management is hard, y’all. Imagine your work problems multiplied by 10 and the amount of recognition you receive divided by 10, and you should have a pretty good picture of what it’s like. But the truth is, I love it. I’ve been blessed to stay within an organization I love, while helping to grow a team of extremely talented individuals. It kind of rocks.

Considering that work pretty much rules my life at this point, I want to share my top tips for success. Full disclosure: there are many people that are much more successful than I am that could give you advice on how to succeed with a capital “S.” Having said that, I did manage to climb my way up from the lowest entry level position to management in under 8 years. That’s a little impressive… just sayin’. So here are my top tips for career success.

1) Give Yourself the Freedom to Fail……and Then WORK.

Look, I work with (and manage) people that are 10x smarter and more hard-working than I am. There are so many things that I don’t know how to do. But you know how you learn? Experience. And you know how you get experience? You try something that terrifies you and fail miserably at it. The next time, you know a little bit more and fail a little less miserably. Eventually, you’re the expert and people turn to you for advice. THAT’S being a #BOSS.

2) Say “Yes.”

In any job, there are tasks that most people would rather not do. These are the jobs that are lackluster, low-visibility, difficult, and generally unsatisfying. There are people that need favors. No one wants these jobs. But you know what people (particularly upper management) do want? Someone that is willing to take one for the team and do what needs to be done. All of those little extra things that you do add up. I didn’t receive a huge bonus or overnight success for all those times that I trained a new hire, listened to someone’s problems, or helped someone that couldn’t help my career. But you know what I did get? A broad network of people that remember me as someone that helped them and a shitload of things to talk about in my interview for management. Face it: people remember how you treated them, and customer service is a huge part of any position. If you’re not helping your customers, you’re irrelevent.

3) Find Mentors That Matter…..to YOU

Here’s a little secret: I’m not interested in playing “the game.” I want to be successful enough to keep my family comfortable. I want to do high quality work. I want to learn and grow and make an impact. I do not want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I don’t want to sell my soul for the almighty dollar. I’d rather keep a little bit of myself despite career success.

This is why it is so important to me to find mentors that speak to me. If you want to climb the career ladder as fast as humanly possible, you probably want to seek out the highest level executive you can find and ride their coattails as far as you can. As for me, I found Sharon.

Sharon was my first formal mentor, and has since become a very dear friend. She is the first person that I met who found corporate success without becoming “corporate” herself. She knew her shit, rocked her customers’ worlds, inspired her employees (including me), and did it all with purple streaks in her hair. She was the first person that made me believe that I could make an impact and be successful at the same time.  If I’m being honest, she was the first person to inspire me to believe in myself.

You see, before Sharon, I was always the weirdo. My entire life, people pointed out the ways that I was different from the crowd. My team always joked about how I was the only one to go against the grain. It took someone that I admired to help me see that this was a strength rather than a weakness. Because in a corporate setting, it’s easy to forget that being different isn’t the same thing as being wrong. So if you’re a weirdo, don’t lose heart. There isn’t one single formula for a good mentor. Find someone that respects the gifts that you naturally bring to the table. Find someone that inspires you. Everyone has something to offer…the trick is to find the people that speak to your soul. And for heaven’s sake….don’t forget to pay it forward!

 

 

 

List Love

Sorry for the radio silence, I am deep into nesting mode. Squish will be here in 5 weeks. If he decides to come 2 weeks early like Peanut then we are down to three weeks. My wife is not much of nester. She wasn’t with the first pregnancy and she doesn’t seem to be with this one either. I, on the other hand, lose my shit during crunch time. I stressed myself out so much last weekend, I had an eye tick for days. This week, I seemed to have resolved the tick by tackling one room every day. I am not quite done, mostly because every time I turn around I find something else I “need” to do before the baby comes. But we are getting there.

I have literally put starting any new projects on hold until I finish the each room. I don’t have any new recipes just yet since we are basically eating to survive right now. Don’t worry I have a whole list of DIY projects coming up.

Instead today, I thought I would show some of stuff we have been obsessed with in this house the last couple of weeks.

FOOD

I am starting with food because who doesn’t love food. If someone tells you they don’t love food, ditch them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.  DSC_2294

Peets Coffee – I. AM. Obsessed! I drive B to work in the morning now.  This is partially so we can spend more time together as a family and partially because I can stop at Peet’s every morning for coffee. I bought these k-cups to use on the weekend. They are good if you like strong coffee. If you don’t like strong coffee please take your brown water and go home. Just kidding, but seriously strong coffee is the best coffee.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix – I enjoy most things pumpkin and now I have gotten Peanut hooked on pumpkin too. We have tried a few different brands of pumpkin pancake mix. This is Peanuts favorite. If you like things that taste like actual pumpkin, not pumpkin spice, this is the brand for you.

Trader Joe’s Halloween Joe Joe’s Cookies – I swear this post is not sponsored by Trader Joe’s but if they would like to send me some free food to write about, I will gladly accept. Anyways, I won’t beat around the bush. Peanut is obsessed with these cookies. Like we have to hide the box and cut him off because he will happily eat the whole box in one sitting, kind of obsessed. To me, they just taste like Oreo’s but it’s apparently catnip for toddlers.

Decor

DSC_2289 I ordered these prints for the boys rooms. The two on the left are for Squish and the one on the right for Peanut.  We are doing a woodland theme in the nursery and these will look so cute in there. I picked the up the mountain poster for Peanut because if I have ever met anyone who could move a mountain, its that kid.

DSC_2301I love candles. I love how the scent can set an entire mood. This candle is classic fall. I usually burn it when Peanut is napping and the whole house is quiet. You can hear the wood wick popping like a fire place. The scent is strong, it fills most of the main level of our house. In general, I don’t like food scented candles. This candle definitely has a spiced apple scent but it’s not super sweet.

DSC_2280I picked up this lantern at ikea and filled it with cinnamon scented pine cones. I love the way the two look together. I might add a little pine branch for some color though.

Beauty

DSC_2298This is kind of weird beauty item but I currently can not live without it. A little back story, I have hypothyroidism and generally, I keep it managed well. Some time of the summer though it got insanely of whack and I lost a good chunk of my hair, my skin was crazy dry and my anxiety was pretty awful. I have since had my meds adjusted and am hoping in a couple weeks, when I get retested, it will be better. In the meantime, I am trying to regrow my hair.  I did a lot of research about natural methods of regrowing hair and kept coming back to Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I have only been using this stuff for about a week but it has already made a difference. I don’t know if it has regrown any hair but it makes the hair I have left thicker and less prone to breakage.

That’s all for us. What have you been loving this fall?

 

Fancy Schmancy Poo Spray

September 20_Fancy Poo Spray

It’s a fact of life: Everyone poops. Another fact of life: those fancy poo sprays at the store are hella expensive. Seriously? Ten bucks for a tiny-ass bottle of liquid you flush down the toilet? No thanks! I would much rather whip up my own bottle for pennies. Besides, by making your own spray, you get to customize your loo using the fragrances that YOU like.

Now, those of you that have been living under a rock might be asking yourself, “what the heck is a poo spray?” Poo spray is simply a concoction containing essential oils that traps odors in the toilet bowl instead of letting them roam free. Once you’ve created your own bottle, stash it in the bathroom for those times when you want to be discrete. Just spritz a few sprays in the toilet bowl BEFORE going number two, and your friends and family will never know.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Spray Bottle
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Essential Oil(s) of Your Choice
  • Water

So here’s the hard part:

Mix 2 capfuls of rubbing alcohol with about 30-40 drops of essential oil and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake and use!

Note: I like to use lavender essential oil, but you can choose any fragrance that you like. You may need to use more/less of oil depending on what oils you choose. Experiment! Make a custom blend! Have fun!

China Cabinet Makeover

China Cabinet Before-After

Sorry I am late on this post. I meant to post this last week but I was too busy living life. Just joking, I was being lazy and eating cookies. Whateves.

So, I refinished my first piece of furniture. This took me about two weeks and at times was super tedious but I love it so much! I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey on this project. I read a lot of tutorials before starting to work on the cabinet and I really liked that by using chalk paint there is no sanding, stripping or priming involved. Just slap the paint on, wax and done.  Sounds great, right?

Painting the cabinet was super easy. The paint is really thick but I just did two thin coats. When you apply it looks really streaky and you can still see the original wood underneath. Don’t fret, the second coat will take care of all that mess. The second coat of paint goes on smooth and completely opaque. It takes about half  and hour to dry each coat of paint. Theoretically, if unlike me you don’t have a tiny dictator running amok in your house, you could get it both painted and waxed in one day.  Since, I was painting during Peanut’s naps, I would put one coat of paint on each day. I forgot to mention, you can use a regular ol’ paintbrush with this paint.

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Sorry, my can looks gross. The brown splotches are spilled coffee.

Step two is where I ran into some issues. After painting with the chalk paint, you have to wax it to seal it. I did quit a bit of research about how to get the best results with chalk paint and wax. Annie Sloan makes a special wax brush but  many tutorials said that you can use cheesecloth or any lint free rag to apply the wax. Then rub it off with an old t shirt. Which is good since this project can add up really quickly. The paint is $38.50 a quart,  the wax is $27.50 and finally a wax brush is $40.50. Needless to say I was not pumped to drop that kind of money on just a brush. Let me save you the suspense, the rag/cheesecloth method was crap. I used a ton of wax and had terrible, streaky coverage. I was really bummed. I decided to search, my love, Amazon and found a wax brush on there $14. Winner! I attacked the cabinet again with my trusty new wax brush. SO MUCH BETTER. I barely used any wax when I used the brush and I was able to do the whole cabinet. I still buffed the cabinet with an old t-shirt. Now, there was no streaks and it had soft sheen to it.

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So, would I recommend Annie Sloan Chalk Paint or chalk paint in general?  Definitely, IF you like the look of old or shabby chic furniture. I did not further distress my cabinet because honestly, after all work that went into painting and buffing; I couldn’t stand the idea of taking sandpaper to it. Also, the wax will slightly distress the paint anyways. I liked the look of the minor distressing. My advice, buy the damn wax brush but buy it from Amazon and get it for cheap. My last word on chalk paint, a little goes along way. I painted this cabinet plus a dresser I picked up on the side of the road, that now holds Peanut’s fish tank, and I still have about half a can of paint.

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Curb-side find!

P.S. I started distressing the paint on the dresser but I didn’t care for it, so I quit.

P.S. #2 – I was so happy with this project that it made me want to do all sorts of DIY projects. I just bought an electric saw…

Crock-pot Steak and Onions

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I am keeper of time, a watcher of clocks. That sentence makes me seem really deep and insightful doesn’t it. Really what I am talking about is my day constantly revolving  around the same schedule. When I became a parent everyone told me that I needed to abandon schedules. Kids will tell you what they need, when they need it. I can’t live that life. I already stress about how much time is left in a day, a week, a month. I can be flexible about things but its because I know how much time I have left for any given project. Our next kid is due in 72 days. 72. I feel like I have so many things to get done. I won’t do them at the expense of time with Peanut but they still need to be done. So instead of getting projects done around the house this weekend we went to Sesame Place and enjoyed some family time.

That whole paragraph was a long-winded and very emo way of saying I am obsessed with my crock-pot. It allows me quickly get things made without having to babysit food. I can run errands, work on projects for the new baby and spend time with Mason and know that dinner will be ready on time (this post is not sponsored, sorry for sounding like a commercial). Unfortunately, I don’t use it enough. Every time I use it I think “Why don’t I use this damn thing more?” but then I stick it right back in the cabinet. This recipe was kind of fluke. Normally, I make steak and onions in a pan and it takes 40 minutes. I realized the other day that I just wouldn’t have time that afternoon. So I threw everything into the crock-pot and prayed to baby Jesus that I didn’t just throw away $10 worth of meat. Honestly, it came out better than it does when I use a pan.

DSC_2241For this recipe you will need: 1lb of thinly, sliced steaks, Adobo (of course), Sazon, 1 Onion, 3 Cloves of Garlic, Vinegar, Water and Oil.

DSC_2254Place steaks into the crock-pot

DSC_2259Sprinkle with a healthy dose of Adobo. I don’t measure, just add to suite your tastes.

DSC_2264Throw in an entire packet of Sazon.

DSC_2266Slice your onion and throw it in there too. I used half an onion since I am the only one who eats it in my house. Feel free to go crazy and throw the whole thing in there if you have more people who eat onions.

DSC_2270Chop up three cloves of garlic and throw them in the pot too.

DSC_2273Add 1/4 Cup of Vingar

DSC_22751/4 Cup of Oil

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Water – don’t confuse this with vinegar…

3/4 Cup of Water

DSC_2278Then, I add a pinch of oregano. Finally, mix it all up with your hands to make sure the spices and liquids have coated all the meat and onions.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

DSC_2231We eat ours mixed in with rice because rice is just how we roll in this house. When I cook it in a pan, the meat retains its steak shape. In the crock-pot it just falls apart with tenderness.

Crock-pot Steak and Onions

Ingredients

  • 1lb of Thin, sliced Steak
  • 1/2-1 Onion - Sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic - Minced
  • Adobo to Taste
  • 1 Packet Sazon
  • 1/4 Cup Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • A Pinch of Oregano

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in to crock-pot
  2. Mix with hands to make sure meat and onions are coated
  3. Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours
http://runningonlaughter.com/2015/09/03/crock-pot-steak-and-onions/

Cherry Pop Tarts with Vanilla Icing

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Lately Peanut has been helping in the kitchen. I have him to help with the prep work for whatever we are cooking. I feel like I spend so much time in the kitchen, either cooking for this blog or cooking for my family. Most of the time I’m always telling Peanut to wait a minute while I finish. I realized that I hate always putting him off until I’m done when he just really wants to be included. So now, I just pull up a chair and have him pour ingredients and stir. It’s messy and takes longer than doing it myself but he is always so happy and proud and we get to work on something together.

I guess I should call this semi-homemade pop tarts but Sandra Lee might have trademarked calling any food semi-homemade. But, these pop tarts only require two ingredients. TWO! I have been on pop tart kick lately and I keep buying the organic ones. They are pretty delicious but kind of overpriced considering you only get three packets. My wife suggested that I try to make them myself. I decided to throw caution to the wind and whip these up.

All you need is refrigerated pie dough and jelly. I also made a frosting go over the top. You can skip the frosting for a “healthier” version, but really who is eating pop tarts for the health benefits.

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First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out your pie dough and cut it into rectangle shapes.

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Next, add about teaspoon of jelly to the center of your dough rectangle. You can use more or less depending on your taste.

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Place another rectangle of dough over the top of your jelly and crimp the edges with a fork.

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Bake for 15 minutes.

To make the frosting, I really don’t have a recipe. I just dump things into a bowl and judge it by sight. I will try to give estimates of my measurements.

Pour a quarter cup of powered sugar in a bowl. Regular granule sugar will not work for this recipe since it will not melt.

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Next, pour in enough milk to make it into a paste. I used heavy cream for this recipe since no one in my house drinks milk, we rarely have it on hand. The amount of liquid is purely personal prefence – less liquid will make a thicker frosting texture and more liquid will make more of a glaze.

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Finally, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and stir it up.

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After, cooling the pop tarts put a little glaze on them and devour.

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Cherry Pop Tarts with Vanilla Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 box Pie Crust
  • 1 Jar of Jelly
  • Optional Frosting!
  • 1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup or Less Milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Roll out pie crust
  3. Cut dough into medium sized rectangles
  4. Place about 1 tablespoon of jelly in center of rectangle
  5. Cover with another rectangle
  6. Bake for 15 minutes
  7. Allow to cool then top with frosting
  8. Frosting!
  9. Pour 1/4 cup powdered sugar into a bowl
  10. Add enough milk to make into paste
http://runningonlaughter.com/2015/08/27/cherry-pop-tarts-with-vanilla-icing/