Simply Sweet Home

Recipes, Decor, Crafts, Product Reviews, Giveaways and more.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Simply Sweet Creations Sale & A Giveaway Winner!

Hey guys!  I wanted to take a minute today to announce the Christmas Sale at my shop.

From now until New Year's you can get 10-15% off select items in my shop. 

No coupon codes needed!  And all sale prices will already appear in the shop.

Also, I'll be changing up the sale items throughout the month of December and adding new items too, so keep checking back to see what's new!

Giveaway Winner

I wanted to take a minute to thank Summer from Sumo's Sweet Stuff for hosting a great giveaway for my shop a week or so ago.  And if you went over there and entered, thank you for supporting me!  And of course, I have to congratulate Maloree, who was the winner of the giveaway.  She received a $15 gift certificate to my shop, and here are items she selected:

Thank you for supporting Simply Sweet Creations!


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Easy Chocolate Truffles

If you like chocolate truffles, you are going to love this post!  As much as I love truffles, I don't really love their price!  So a couple of weeks ago I got inspired to invent this great recipe.  I'm not going to say that they're as good as Lindor's, but they are tasty and cheap alternative!

This was just a trial run so as you can see they're not as beautiful as I would like! (ie - I didn't chill them long enough before dipping, and they started to melt on me.)  But the taste is incredible! So I just adjusted the freeze time for you, and voila!

The secret ingredients to this cheap alternative are brownie mix (one box will make about 3 batches or so!), and mayonnaise.  (Yes, you read that right! Mayonnaise!)  I started out adding water and oil to brownie mix, and it just didn't taste right.  Then I remembered that a Wise Man, who I affectionately call My Dad, once told me that you could substitute mayonnaise in the place of egg (because the mayonnaise contains eggs).  So I tried this, and I was amazed at the change!  You can't taste the mayonnaise itself, but it does give the brownie batter it's proper taste and consistency that you usually get with eggs. And thus, it's a big key to these semi-homemade truffles!   Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Recipe for Easy Chocolate Truffles:

1 1/2 cups brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker Original Supreme)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
2 or 3 squares of almond bark (or chocolate chips)
candy sprinkles (optional)

Directions:  Measure out your brownie mix and place in a bowl.  Add water, oil, and mayo.  Mix well.  Batter should be extra stick, so that you can roll it into balls. (If it doesn't appear thick enough, add extra batter.  If it's too thick, add a very small amount of water.)  If the batter seems too sticky for rolling, you can place the batter in the refrigerator for a few minutes before rolling. 

This recipe should make 12 truffles, measuring 1 1/2 inches wide, or 18 truffles measuring a inch wide.  After you've rolled the batter into balls, place them on a plate lined with wax paper or parchment paper.  Chill in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.  (Note: If you don't let them chill long enough they will start to lose their shape and melt when they are dipped in the chocolate.)

When you're ready to dip the truffles, melt the your almond bark or chocolate chips.  To do this, just place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl  and heat it for a minute or so.  Very Important: Check it every 15 seconds and stir to prevent scorching.  (Note: If the chocolate starts to harden during the dipping process, simply reheat again in 15 second increments.) 

To dip your balls, you can use a couple of different methods:  You may use a candy dipper to dip the balls.  Or you may also place them on a spoon if you don't have a candy dipper.

My favorite dipping method is the toothpick method.  Before freezing your balls, just poke each one with a toothpick.  (Sticking them with the toothpicks before chilling will prevent the balls from falling off the toothpick once the balls are dipped.)  The only downside to this method is that there will be a hole when you take the toothpick, but you can get rid of this by simply spooning a tiny amount of melted chocolate over the balls.

To decorate the truffles, you may either place the sprinkles in the bowl and dip them or you can pour the sprinkles over the top of them.  Just make sure that you do the sprinkles immediately after the truffle has been dipped in the chocolate, because it will harden in seconds and the sprinkles won't stick after that.

Place on a tray to serve to your party guests, or place in a cute candy bag or box to give as gifts.

I'm linking this up for this week's parties and  The Holiday Recipe Exchange at Food, Fun and Fotos.


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Magic Warble: Book Review & Giveaway

Just in time for Christmas gift giving, I'm excited to bring you this book review and a giveaway.  I haven't done a lot of book-related posts on this blog, but when Victoria Simcox, author of The Magic Warble, contacted me about reviewing her book, I was thrilled!

Being a huge fan of Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and other fantasy books, I knew this book would be right up my alley.  And it did not disappoint!  My husband and I both read and loved the story.  In fact, after my husband (and in-house fantasy expert) read the book he said, "This is the closest thing to C.S. Lewis that I've ever read!"  This is a HUGE compliment coming from him because not only is C.S. Lewis one of his favorite authors, but as I said, he's an expert of mythology and fantasy.  We're actually both English majors, but I have to confess that he's read exponentially more books than me, especially in the genre of fantasy!


"Dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals, and an evil queen – all these and more can be found in The Magic Warble, an enchanting tale of adventure and friendship.

Twelve-year-old Kristina Kingsly feels like the most unpopular girl in her school. The kids all tease her, and she never seems to fit in. But when Kristina receives an unusual Christmas gift, she suddenly finds herself magically transported to the land of Bernovem, home of dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals, and the evil Queen Sentiz.

In Bernovem, Kristina not only fits in, she’s honored as “the chosen one” the only one who can release the land from Queen Sentiz’s control. But it’s not as simple as it seems. To save Bernovem, she must place the gift she was given, the famous “Magic Warble” in its final resting place. And she must travel through the deep forest, climb a treacherous mountain, and risk capture by the queen’s “zelbocks” before she reaches her destination. Guided by her new fairy friends, Clover and Looper and by Prince Werrien, a teenage boy, as well as an assortment of other characters, Kristina sets off on a perilous journey that not only tests her strength but her heart."

Victoria Simcox weaves a wonderful fantasty tapestry. She takes a girl (Kristina), who's an unpopular outcast in our world and transports her to Bernovem, where she's popular and well liked.  She also takes a group of popular wealthy brats and by transporting them to a magical world where they're wealth means nothing, she shows their lack of character. 

Written on two levels, the exterior storyline's  plot and characters create emotions that will make the reader feel the fear and embrace the joy that is contained within the book's pages.  While the interior storyline (the one that is developing in the reader's mind), is a good depiction of the rewards and punishments that should be associated with good and evil behavior.

The classic struggle between good and evil, combined with a world inhabited by mythological creatures, and an unlikely "chosen" hero, will make you want to read into the wee hours of the morning and is sure to be loved by children and adult fantasy lovers alike!

Buy a Copy:  Just in time for the holidays you can order your copy directly from the author  or at Amazon.

Connect: Check out The Magic Warble on Facebook
Follow Victoria' Simcox's Blog

Win it!  One Simply Sweet Home reader will win a copy of The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox.

Giveaway Closed. Congrats to Larissa!


Disclosure: I received a free copy of the Magic Warble to review. The opinions are mine.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Aurora Dreamy Eyes Toy Review & Giveaway

I absolutely love all the different toys at Aurora!  Previously I've had the opportunity to review toys from their Yoohoo & Friends line as well as Milly the Pinkest Kitten.  And now, just in time for the holidays, I will be presenting you with not one, but three different Aurora toys that will be just perfect for your gift list! And the best part is that you'll have the opportunity to enter to win each of these toys!

The first collection of toys from Aurora World that I'd like to introduce to you is Dreamy Eyes.  These are just about the cutest plush toys I've seen!  Each toy is 10 inches long and is soft and fluffy with big "dreamy" eyes.  And there is a large collection of toy animals available from cats and dogs to farm and jungle animals.

The toy I received is Lea Lamb.  She is absolutely adorable!  I was very impressed by how soft and cuddly she was! (She's so soft, when my husband saw her, he even cuddled her, but shhh, that's a secret!)  And of course, I can't help but love her big eyes, which I think make her look like, not just a toy, but a sweet little friend (if that makes sense).

She's also the perfect size for all ages.  I typically think of stuffed animals being for toddlers, but I think that older children will also love cuddling with a Dreamy Eyes toy.

Dreamy Eyes toys would also be ideal if you're looking for some stuffed animals to place in a new nursery.  They would be so cute on a shelf or on top of a dresser in your baby's room, and they're perfectly soft so the baby can play with them when he/she gets a little older. 

And speaking as someone who intends to decorate a nursery in the near future (ahem), I would love to have more of these and would definitely recommend them to you this Christmas season!

Buy it!  Purchase your Dreamy Eyes and other great toys online at Aurora World.

Connect! Check out Aurora on Aurora World on Facebook

Win it! One Simply Sweet Home reader will win a Dreamy Eyes Toy, a $12 value. (For US Residents only)

Mandatory Entry: To win, check out the Dreamy Eyes line, and then come back here and tell me which animal is your favorite. Deadline to enter: December 12

Extra Entries: Leave a comment for each.
-1 if you follow Simply Sweet Home on Twitter.
-2 for subscribing to Simply Sweet Home via email.
-1 for subscribing to my RSS feeds through Feedburner.
-1 for sharing this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook.  (Sample Tweet: I want to win a Dreamy Eyes Toy  @SimplySweetHome #HolidayGiftGuide #giveaway) (Limit one entry per day.)


Disclosure: For hosting this giveaway, I received a free Dreamy Eyes toy to review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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My Ultimate Wish List

Today Jen at Tater Tots and Jello and Beckie from Infarrantly Creative are hosting a Holiday Meme Party.

 One of the choices of topic to post on is: What is on your must have Christmas List?

So here are a few things I'd love---LOVE to have!!

1. New Laptop!! Seriously! I'm using my old desktop because my laptop, beyond needing to be fixed, also needs a new battery, and it could use a new cord as well.  By the time, I got all this done I could have a new one!  So I'm just using the old desktop for now! I know Santa probably won't be able to get me one this year (but maybe some time next year?)

2. The Cricut - I'm totally jealous of all you Cricut owners out there!  In fact, I talk about what I would do with the cricut so much that it's probably on my husband's wish list as well!

3. Digital Camera - I'm kind of clueless about technology, so I just assumed that our digital camera was a pretty good one, and I guess it was when we bought it in 2007. (yeah,'s ancient!)  But then I started seeing all these awesome pictures on the blog (of the quality that my camera is just simply incapable of taking.)  Then last year my nieces got digital cameras for Christmas and I looked at the megapixels and other specs on their cameras, and I realized they were about twice as good as mine! So for my blogging purposes, a new camera would be awesome!

Of course, I could always name more, but those are my Big 3!

I am participating in Infarrantly Creative and Tatertots and Jello’s Blog Hop for a chance to win a Mint Cleaner. It is the revolutionary machine that cleans your hard floor surfaces for you.
Click here to join the blog hop and a chance to win!Mint_cloth2
The Mint Cleaner is available at the following places:



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday Favorites - Week 40


Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you're all enjoying your holiday weekend!  I know everyone is busy this week entertaining guests and eating turkey, pumpkin pie, etc, not to mention that many of you are out braving the stores this weekend, so I'm just going to cut right to chase and share these wonderful posts with you.  Enjoy!

French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Frosting from Christina's Taste Test Project


Peanut Butter Balls from Stuff and Nonsense

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies from Sweet as Sugar Cookies

Frozen Cranberry Salad from Fresh from the Farm

Linen Towel Tutorial from ceo a's draiocht

I can't wait to see your posts from this week. Link them up below! Please include my button or a link back somewhere on your site so that others can join the party!



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sauce Communications

Do you want to raise the profile of your company with a creative marketing campaign?  Or do you need help developing your own unique brand?   Sauce Communications is one of the UK's leading PR and marketing agencies.

This well established company was founded in 2001 by Jo Barnes and Nicola Hancock, and they have a proven track record of success and an extensive portfolio of happy, long-standing clients. 

Sauce Communications specializes in PR for restaurants, food and drink brands, bars and hotels. They work both with established businesses in need of a promotional boost and new bars, restaurants and hotels looking for a full launch strategy.  Their team of professional PR consultants have a genuine passion for the restaurant and hospitality industry and work hard to create successful campaigns in the UK and worldwide for their clients.

Sauce Management also represents food and lifestyle personalities for all their commercial media projects. These include TV, publishing and writing, personal appearances, endorsements, advertising and licensing in all appropriate territories. Sauce advises clients on the best ways forward in all these areas.

Sauce Communications offers a variety of services, including a complete communications package, including PR, marketing and brand development, tailor-made to an individual client's requirements. From market research to data capture and relationship building, their marketing team excels at ensuring that your target market knows about you!  They oversee all aspects of their clients’ marketing campaigns; from e-marketing to social media and promotional collateral, ensuring consistency and creativity.

What sets this company apart from other PR firms is their network of contacts across every field of media.  They maintain close links with production companies, key travel publications, and writers and editors throughout Europe, the United States, Australia and the Far East.  Their vast network of contacts is unmatched, and as a client, you can trust that Sauce Communications will explore every media opportunity available to raise your company's profile.

Sauce IT & Design are experts in all areas of web, marketing and branding and food consultancy and can help you to build your brand and create marketing publications for your business. They have vast experience in working with organizations from both the public and private sectors, and their services include website design and developing, hosting, publishing, corporate identity and branding, brochures, exhibitions and marketing material.

If you're in need of a PR boost, please check out Sauce Communications.


Disclosure: This is a paid post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Introducing Our Holly Bloggy Giveaway Sponsors


I am so excited about this year's Holly Bloggy Christmas!

What could be better than 5 days of Christmas themed linky parties? 

And to make the event even sweeter, we have 15 awesome giveaways! (That's 3 for each day!)

In the previous announcement I listed our lovely sponsors for this event, and now I am offically announcing the prizes that will be up for grabs and giving you the scoop on these fantastic sponsors!

But first, here's a quick reminder of the event schedule, just in case you missed it:

Holly Bloggy Christmas 2010

Monday, Dec. 13 - Homemade Gifts at tater tots and jello

Tuesday, Dec. 14 - Christmas Crafts at  Craft Envy

Wednesday, Dec. 15 - Christmas Decor at The Shabby Chic Cottage

Thursday, Dec. 16 - Christmas Recipes at Simply Sweet Home

Friday, Dec. 17 - Christmas Edition of I'm Lovin' It at Tidy Mom 

Now check out these fabulous event sponsors and prizes!

I'm sure by now you're all familiar with Scentsy.  They are famous for their lovely scented candles and warmers which come in an array of colors and designs, suitable for any home.  Scentsy Consultant Jonnie Mellen is offering 2 giveaways! One is a full size holiday warmer and 3 scents worth $40.  And the second is a plug in size warmer with 3 scents worth $25.

Lisa Leonard is known throughout the blogosphere for her beautiful, one-of-kind jewelry. Choose something cute that fits your style from her inspired necklaces.  Or create a custom piece of jewelry!  Each piece is hand-cut, hammered, antiqued and is polished sterling silver. Beautiful! Lisa is generously giving away a $50 gift certificate for her website.

Decorate your cupcakes with fun and fabulous cupcake wrappers from Yummy Cuppy Crafts.  There are designs for all holidays and occasions, and you can even order custom designs to fit your party theme!  Other fun seasonal crafts are also available at this adorable etsy shop!  Kim at Yummy Cuppy Crafts is offering a 6 month membership to her cupcake wrapper of the month club, valued at $50. It's a giveaway that keeps on giving!

Hun...What's For Dinner?
Hun...What's for Dinner? is a fantastic blog featuring some yummy recipes.  Seriously--every time I stop by this blog, I find something that I want to make, from chicken spaghetti to apple cake with caramel frosting!  Defintely a must-see for all foodies.  Cindy at Hun...What's for Dinner? is offering a Wilton Chocolate Pro Melting Pot and 2 Bags of Chocolate Melts worth $48. Sweet!

Up to My Knees in Crafts is a lovely etsy shop that offers beautiful clothing for babies and children.  They have everything from stylish jackets and dresses to adorable onsies, and even tutus!  And there are so many lovely designs and colors available.  Barbara, the lady behind these lovely designs, is offering a $35 gift certificate to her shop.

You'll absoultely love the jewelry over at Lavender Cottage.  Everything is handmade by Cheryl, a full time metal-smith.  And each piece is made of sterling silver.  I've been proud to feature the unique and beautiful jewelry of Lavender Cottage on my blog in the past, and I was thrilled when Cheryl agreed to give away one of her Soaring Free Pendants worth $32.

Twelve Crafts
Another cute etsy shop! Twelve Crafts offers cute jewelry, flower pins, sachet pillows, and other fun gifts and accessories.  The owner of this shop, Elizabeth, also has a great blog where she shares her latest projects and tutorials. Elizabeth is giving away her adorably cute Pretend and Play Chef Set (pictured above), worth $30.

Scrapbook Circle
If you like scrapbooking, you'll love this sponsor!  Scrapbook Circle offers a unique scrapbook kit for each month of the year.  Each kit offers an array of patterned paper and embellishments. I was lucky enough to win a kit from SC on another blog, so I can testify that the kits are great! SC also has a blog to give you some great layout ideas!   The site's owner Lisa Andrews is giving away her December Kit worth $29.95.

Kinley Lane Designs
You may remember this sponsor from a recent giveaway here at Simply Sweet Home.  This lovely boutique features fashion, cute accessories, and more! Lacey flowers adorn everything from tops to headbands, and even rings.  And new for the holidays, Kinley Lane has a line of bobble necklaces that you just have to see! Tricia at Kinley Lane Designs is offering a $25 gift certificate to her shop.

Pure Sugar
I had a huge collection of bows as a kid, so I was very excited to find this wonderful etsy shop.  It features some really cute hairbows in lovely designs, and some great colors and patterms, from solids to polka dots, and more!  Carol, the shop owner, also has a blog that you can check out.  Carol is offering a set of holiday bows (that's 3 bows, plus two mini bows) and a $5 gift certificate to her shop, a total value of $20.50.

Talk about a great gift idea! Inspired by her own party planning business, Cindy Soto, has put together a lovely concept: a Dream Sample Box.  Each month samples from contributing companies are all put together in a fun box. Samples include bath & body products, gourmet foods, jewelry, party favors and more!  Cindy at my Dream Sample Box is offering a festive Christmas ornament that is perfect for the savvy blogger! It's worth $14.95.
Bath and body products always make for good Christmas gifts.  The Best Bath Store sells luxurious handmade bath products, including soaps, scrubs, lotions and salts, but also shampoos, conditioners, and bath accessories.  They even have a collection of facial care products which features a line of acne treatments! The Best Bath Store is offering their Holiday Soap Gift Set worth $13.95.

Another cute etsy boutique!  If you like bows, you should definitely visit this shop.  Hope Abound offers lovely accessories from bows and clippies to brooches and pins.  These come in a variety of styles and feature a variety of materials, so you're sure to find something you like!  Kristen at Hope Abound is offering a lovely set of Christmas bows worth $13.50.


Simply Sweet Creations
Simply Sweet Creations is my shop where I sell my handmade jewelry and accessories.  You'll find earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and keychains.  I'm also in the process of  adding some decor items, including some handmade wreaths.  I'm offering a bundle of  jewelry worth $17.

So get your posts ready and join us for the Holly Bloggy Christmas!

Don't forget to grab a button for your posts & sidebar!
Thanks to Sarah Meyer for letting us use her adorable elements for the button!


Can't wait to see you there!



Monday, November 22, 2010

Making Your Own Gummies (Review and a Giveaway!)

Looking for a fun and unique Christmas gift for the kids?  Or a fun homeschool activity? Then check this out! Over the weekend I got a chance to make my very own Christmas Gummies  using a Make Your Own Gummies Kit from the makers of Glee Gum!

"Available in Make Your Own Chocolate, Make Your Own Chewing Gum, and Make Your Own Gummies, these activity kits are all-natural, educational, and eco-friendly. With pre-packaged ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, everyone aged 8 and up gets a real kick out of making candy from scratch. Focusing on the history behind and the origin of these candies, each kit is designed to captivate your interest, connect you to the global community, and create something yummy to eat in the process."

As you all probably know by now, I'm always excited to try new recipes and food products, so I was really psyched to try out this kit.  I was very intrigued by the process in which these candies are made, particularly by the use of powdered seaweed and a piece of actual seaweed!  And I think kids will really love this activity.  After all, what kid doesn't love to mix and make things? (And since there's candy involved, that will make it an even more exciting experiment!)

And you'll be happy to know that you don't even have to cook it on the stove!  The gummies can be made in your microwave, and beyond the kit, the only ingredient you need is water.  The process by which the candy is made is very quick and painless too!  I don't know about you, but sometimes candy making can be a little intimidating for me (when you have to get the temperature and consistency just right and so on).  Thankfully that is not an issue with this project at all.  The step by step instructions were very easy to follow, and the process was so simple!

So this kit allows you to try a new activity with your kids, make a little a candy, and have fun, without making a total mess of your kitchen, taking up your entire afternoon, or costing you a lot of money!  Excellent!

And the taste?  Yummy!  The kit comes with sour-sugar so that you can coat the gummies, and I have to tell you, the taste took me back.  In my teens I used to love eating sour gummies, but I haven't had them in years!  And if you're not in to the sour stuff, I did try eating a couple of them plain, and I thought they tasted good too.
Buy it!  To find Glee Gum and these great Make Your Own Candy Kits check out this store locator.  Or you can order online.

Connect!  You can connect with Glee Gum through their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Win it! One Simply Sweet Home reader will win a Make Your Own Candy Kit.  Winner chooses between the Gummies kit, the Make Your Own Chocolate kit, or the Make Your Own Gum kit. (Giveaway is for US residents only.)

Giveaway Closed.  Congrats to Gabrielle at California Monkey Momma!

I'm sharing this post at these food and project parties!


Disclosure:  I was given a Make Your Own Candy Kit of my choice for review purposes.  The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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