Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lynnell Loves Fudgy Mocha Cupcakes

I purchased a tin of cupcake recipe cards from Ross and decided to try one out the other day. I narrowed it down to a couple and let DH choose between them, of course he went with the decadent chocolate coffee flavored one. Here is the photo on the recipe card.

And the Recipe:

Fudgy Mocha Cupcakes with Chocolate Coffee Ganache
1 Package devil's food cake mix (I used Dark Chocolate cake mix instead)
1 package (4 serving size) chocolate fudge instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/3 cups strongly brewed coffee
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
60z semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso granules
1/2 cup prepared white frosting
I used my own buttercream frosting with this recipe:
1/4 c. butter (softened in micro about 20 seconds)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. sifted powdered sugar
Beat butter, vanilla, salt, sugar together.
Add milk enough to make a smooth spreading consistency.

Heat oven to 350. Line 18 standard cupcake/muffin cups with paper cups (I hate messing with those paper thingies so I just spray it with pam and that does the job, then I transfer them to a covered pan for storage after they are done). Beat cake mix, pudding mix, coffee, eggs and oil in a large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Spoon batter into muffing cups/pan filling 2/3rds full. Recipe says to bake for 22-24 minutes but it only took mine about 15 minutes before the fork came out clean. Cool 10 minutes before frosting.
To make ganache, heat cream and instant coffee in a saucepan over low to medium heat until bubbles appear. Turn to low heat and melt in chocolate careful not to overcook. You can also leave the chocolate in a bowl and just pour the cream/coffee mixture over to melt and stir.
Dip the top of the cupcakes in the ganache and smooth out with spatula if needed. Apply white frosting as desired.

I didn't feel the need to make letters and didn't have fancy decorating tips so I did the old cut the tip off a baggie trick and did swirls and stars. Primitive I know, but if it loads the top with sugary frosting what difference does it make? ;o)

And here's mine:Yum!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lynnell Loves Bailey's Coffee Cheesecake

I found this recipe online so I didn't whip it up on my own. It was pretty easy though. My favorite part about this recipe is the topping. I think I would make this again but use the topping part over a more decadent chocolate cheesecake, but that's because I'm more of a chocoholic than a cheesecake lover. The hubs loved the whole thing. The topping would even be great if you could get it into a truffle or other chocolate candy coating and freeze it. Yum!!

This is how mine turned out.
There's not a whole photo because we'd already dived into it before I decided it was photo worthy. ;o)

Topping recipe:
Ingredients: 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder. Directions: Beat cream, sugar and coffee powder until peaks form. Spread the topping over the cooled cake. Garnish the cheesecake with chocolate curls or chocolate sprinkles.

The rest of the cheesecake recipe can be found here though the title is a bit deceiving.

Lynnell Loves Cheap Caribbean Travel Deals

I love to travel. That is an understatement. I crave it. I almost daily make up little trips in my head and from specials seen online (Travelzoo is great btw) even though I know I have no financial way of bringing them to pass. I've been seeing some great deals to Puerto Rico lately. My husband and I had an unexpected overnight layover there during our honeymoon. We made the most of it and stayed at a really cool place called El Convento (an old convent turned cool boutique hotel with pretty courtyard), strolled around Old San Juan at night, and ate one of the best dinner's ever at Baru (on the suggestion of the hotel staff). I would love to go back.

Waldorf Astoria

Gran Melia Golf Resort

Wyndham Rio Mar are advertising a few different hotel/air packages from $249 per person (before taxes) to $350 for 4 night stays, most available now through December (prices based on a Miami departure but other cities are available for an up charge). I chose some dummy dates in October over a long weekend, entered Orlando as my departure city (I don't actually live there but was worth the lower up charge to drive to that airport over my own), chose a decent flight from the available choices (didn't go for an upgraded flight), used the 100PR coupon code for the additional $100 off, and ended up with between $816 and $859 for the total price for two people. That is just a little over $100 per night including air! Price depends on which hotel you go with. The choices are pretty good. A week or two ago I saw an all inclusive deal to Puerto Rico for about $100 more per person so keep an eye out. They always have good deals and you can get on their email list.

Lynnell Loves Bodycology at Walmart

For those of you out there addicted to Bath and Body works products (you know you exist, you have every scent in every lotion, potion, etc, and you succumb every time you receive a coupon or hear about a promotion, only to pack your bathroom cabinets with more Bath and Body stuff . . . ) I have found a less expensive alternative. Granted, they DO have some cheap prices at Bath an Body IF you get in on the buy one get ones and $ off coupons and actually either need or will at least use your purchases. However, even on a buy three get one free deal like they always seem to run, at best each product would be $5 (if you got all lotions for instance and not the higher priced items like the scrubs, etc) after the discount. Well good old wally world has a pretty much blatant line of copycat products called Bodycology.

My Mom had gotten me a mini Bath and Body Sweet Pea lotion and good sized perfume bottle as a Birthday gift. I'm not one of those addicts (preferring to stick to designer fragrances purchased at stores like TJMAX) but I liked it and wanted to use it. I also recently ran out of shower gel and those designer gels go fast for the price so I decided to get some less expensive stuff. I was walking through that section of Walmart and saw the Bodycology line. I noticed they had similar fragrances to those at Bath and Body but with slightly different names and packaging similar to their older style. For instance the one called "Sweet Petals" with art of sweet pea flowers on the front, smelled just like BnBW's Sweet Pea. Just what I was looking for. And the bottle of the Shower Gel/Bubble Bath (yes 2 in one so even better) was a full 6 oz more than the 10 oz BnBWs bottles at only $4. Four bucks all day long. No coupons or promotions. I took it home and tested it out. I found it was a nice thick shower gel but it also performed better as a bubble bath (creating more bubbles in my non-jetted tub) than BnBWs own bubble bath (I had some BnBWs Velvet Tuberose left over from another gift to compare it to).

They also have other fragrances like a version of BnBW's Cherry Blossom, Coconut Lime Verbena, not in production any longer Gardenia Lilly, and Dancing Waters. The products consisted of body mist, lotion (with a pump and 4 extra ounces), body cream, the previously mentioned shower gel/bubble bath, and probably more I don't remember. They don't have as many product choices as they do at BnBWs (you probably can't get a matching car air freshener or candle) but for the basics in your favorite scent the price is hard to pass up. So for those of you addicts out there, you might want to look to your old wally world the next time you get the urge.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lynnell Loves JCrew Frances and Flora

JCrew now has it's fall collection online, in stores, and the new catalogue has been released. I have to say I didn't love as many items as I normally do. A couple that I do love are the Frances blouse and the vintage looking Flora jewelry set.

Item numbers from left 19492, 17428 and19493.

I thought it would be fun to create some outfits with these three items. Some of the other pieces I have and some I don't. On the first one, I have sort of a splurge/steal thing going on with the splurge accessories on the left and the steals on the right. The polyvore links are below each one if you'd like to see details.

One thing I like from the previous collection but of course am waiting for a serious markdown on is the Military Jacket. The hubs even likes this one.

Item number 12542

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lynnell Loves Etsy!

Hello and welcome to my first blog post! I am in love with Etsy and for those of you that are not familiar with it, you should be! Etsy is a marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. As a buyer, you can find all sorts of items on there, many of which can be customized. To me, it is like one giant boutique with better than boutique prices on most items. As an artist, you can use it as a place to sell your wares that is an alternative to selling on eBay. It is also a good place to start if you don't have the funds to open your own boutique or you want to try out a product to see if people would be interested. You can find anything from indie designer clothing items, to custom made jewelry, to laptop cases and pet items. I will be creating a regular post showcasing items from Etsy and will sometimes incorporate them in my other posts. So today I want to showcase some cool pottery I found.

First up: a small bowl that can be an alternative to the typical ring bearer pillow at weddings (as a wedding photographer I tend to notice neat wedding ideas). They can be custom ordered with your own special words of love, your wedding date, or your favorite quote. You can also order ones with pre-set sayings like "With this ring" an "to have and to hold." I think it could also be a fun gift to give with any ring (anniversary's, engagement, graduation, promise, etc) or just to store your own rings on.

These little goodies can be found at the Etsy shop Paloma's Nest. Be sure to check out owner Caroline's other items like keepsake bouquet tags and building blocks that can be used for anything from a paperweight to inspirational conversation pieces.

Second: I've always wanted one of these as my hubby thinks it is weird to leave butter out but I hate trying to spread hard butter on a piece of toast. Now not only do I know where to get one but I can get one in one of my favorite colors, Robin's Egg Blue!

These and other functional items for your kitchen can be found at dbabcock's etsy shop.

Third: Every hostess likes to receive a good bottle of wine so why not make it extra special by tying one of these decorative wine stoppers to the bottle? Order a set 4 or more and then you have one on hand for every gift. Or for a wine tasting event, give them as gifts to your guests. I personally like ones that are shorter and flatter so they don't take up as much vertical space in the fridge for white wines.

These doodads can be found at janebesspottery's etsy shop or at (the ones pictured to the left) and at the mudluscious etsy shop (for those pictured on the right).

Fourth: Potters are going green by reducing waste and using "reclaimed" materials. One way to re-use those broken or discarded pieces of pottery is to form them into necklace charms.

The "love" (because my blog name is Lynnell Loves ;o) necklace can be found at infromawalk's etsy shop. The necklace on the right is made form a vintage pot shard and can be found at oceanblueseaglass's etsy shop.

Last: I love things that have a dual pupose and this little pedestal is super cute. It can be used to display small brownies, bon bons, or even hand made soaps in your guest bath. Then flip it over and use it as a vase or small planter.

This gem can be found at misspottery's etsy shop along with other household and jewelry items.
There were just too many cool items to list like mosaic art pieces, decorative bowls and more. Perhaps we'll have to revisit pottery on Etsy in a later post. Anyway, happy hunting!