25 December 2014

Merry Christmas from Shoestring Elegance

"....For behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for ALL people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace....." 
Merry Christmas to you all. Many Blessings, I pray for you all, today & everyday.  

"What to do Weekends" will return next Thursday! I hope to see you then.

23 December 2014

Nova Scotia Style Shortbread Cookies for Your Recipe Box

I make these wonderful cookies every year, These are my personal favorite cookie. Truly, very "Nova Scotia style" Shortbread Cookies. As I did last year, this year. I made both the plain and the ones with some chocolate drizzle for my friends that are not real use to a cookie without alot of sugar. I hope you enjoy them!
I want to tell you that, for me, this is "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"! Even as January creeps closer. I love this holiday time, celebrating the Birth of Jesus, and having "special time" to spend with my Loved ones. I truly believe, and wish people would have a little Christmas in their hearts all year long, present company Included!!
Last year, I called all my Sisters, Nieces, Grand Nieces, In-laws.... basically, every female member of my family to start things off with a "Begin Ladies Baking Day!" the Saturday after Thanksgiving!! (it was a Smashing success, by the way!) I want to share some of the things we made with you! Some of the decorations and arrangements I've been working on with you over the next month. I simply can not, prepare, decorate and post Holidays and occasions a month ahead of when they actually are! There! I've said it! Most Bloggers do this to help provide Inspiration! They all do a wonderful job at doing just that! For me, however, it is not practical (and I feel like I miss out on the here and now).

I have been doing alot of baking, decorating and spending time with friends and family! I can think of no better way to spend my time!!
I am my Blog's photographer, writer, creator, and editor. It takes a bit of work and time to share these things with you and I love doing it! But, I often find myself doing or making something fun and thinking I should have took a picture of that "before" so I could show you how to get the same end result. What can I say, "I am doing my level best!
Sorry, back to the Baking Day!! Every year My mother, I and a sister here and there make a Bounty of Christmas Cookies, Breads and Candy! This year I wanted to start our "Baking Day" as a means of having and cherishing time with my Family, but also to alleviate the pressure of all these goodies from my Mum's list of to do's! We make A LOT!

In the last couple of weeks, I made these yummy "Shortbread Cookies", that are, wonderfully, commonplace for most of my Canadian Family and represent special memories, for me, of my Grandmother. Shortbread Cookies are not really as enjoyed here as much as others, and I wanted to do something about that!! I made a beautiful batch of these Traditional Nova Scotia-style Shortbread Cookies, the day before my families baking day to be decorated and include in what we all have to share.

This week, I made another batch. This time, with a little more dimension, to share at a Christmas Tea with my Women's Group from Church. So here's the simple trick I did to make them more appealing to most!
They usually are a very basic 3 to 4 ingredient, no frills, delicious buttery cookie. That, in my opinion cannot be beat to have with tea! But to make them universally appealing and festive, I simply melted some chocolate in a double boiler, about 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate and about a teaspoon of flavorless oil (like canola) The oil helps maintain the nice color and shine!
Then, you just take a fork, and on a wire rack OVER wax paper, have fun drizzling the chocolate back and forth over your shortbread, it couldn't be easier!! But what a difference! They were a big hit at my Christmas Tea and with friends and family.
(Note: I never work on drizzling more than 6 cookies at a time, or you lose the beautiful way the chocolate overlaps the side of your cookie)
Here's the recipe. I hope you will enjoy it with your friends and family, as well.
Recipe: Traditional Nova Scotia Shortbread Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Vanilla ( not traditional, but I love vanilla!)
2-1/3 cups All purpose Flour, sifted twice
Wrap and chill dough at least 1 hour, 2 is better
Roll to 1/4 inch, make sure to fork your cookies well, or you get air pockets (which really does ruin the cookie)
Cut cookie as you like!
Bake in a slow oven, 300-325F/just until the edges get a very light golden, no brown here.
Cool on rack & enjoy or finish with chocolate or raw sugar.
Many Blessing to you all.

Today I'm sharing with: 


File under: traditional Nova Scotia Shortbread Cookies,  Shortbread cookies, Christmas cookies, basic shortbread  Foodies Cookies 

18 December 2014

What to do Weekends #103 and Our Features

Yes, It is in fact that time again!  I can't wait to see what you've all been up to!
  Before we get on with the party, I'd like to share with you  Mine and Linda's Picks to be Featured this week! Although, we have pinned many. We decided that we would each pick two of your wonderful projects to Feature here!
So, on with it, right?
My picks  here @ Shoestring Elegance, were:
The Lou Lou Girls Beautiful Newspaper Wreath

Thrift Share Thursday! She really Scored with some of her wonderful decorations! I especially like these
Linda @ Crafts a la Mode Features were
Adorable Cupcake Paper angels
Salt Shaker Snow Globes
If you were featured Feel free to Grab our new Feature button for your blog!

 We have Pinned all the Features, as well as several others! Please follow common courtesy of the Party and Follow and/or Link back to us in some way! And, don't forget to visit your neighbors with some Blogland Love.

Now, let's see what you have for us this week!

What I've Been Up To ~ Birthday & Christmas 2014

Hi, Dear Friends. I am sorry I haven't shared more with you since the "What to do Weekend" Party. I've been a little busy. I'm pretty good at multitasking, but this week, was a lot even for me. I hope you follow me on Instagram Here
or on Facebook. Then you may have a little idea of my week.

First of all, and not all that important, but it kept me busy, I celebrated my 49th Birthday on Monday. Well, actually, we started celebrating on Sunday! My brother and his wife traveled to town as did one of my nieces, both of whom live quite a distance away. My Mum & Dad, Sister and the wonderful out-of-town family had a wonderful celebration on Sunday, before they had to head back to their respective homes. The celebration continued on through Monday, including a manicure in the morning and a wonderful lunch out. So, here's a terrible picture of me being a goof on my Birthday!

The nice thing about getting older, is you care much less about looking like a goof in pictures! Atleast, I had some makeup on and my hair was slightly done, after the storm did it's job on it, that is.

While the birthday celebrations were going on and after they finished, I had very precious little time to get my shopping, decorating and baking done.

So, I got to work!
First on the list was to start getting the baking knocked out! 

I started with my Toffee Squares, pictured below (which I subsequently needed to make an extra 5 dozen for a cookie exchange!)  Than these 4 dozen for my family and friends.

Next was the Rocky Road 

and then on to Fudge! (All 5 Pounds of it!) 

  Now, next, but certainly not last, tonight (after braving the stores during a rainstorm) I have just finished one of my family's, and maybe your's, favorites! Whether you call them snowballs, mexican wedding cakes, or like us, Betty Crocker's Russian Teacakes these little cakes are always a must in our household.

As tonight comes to an end, I am just going over my list, one more time. It looks like a few more batches of cookies and some breads, one more gift to get, the wrapping to do, and the house to ready and I should be set!  Would you believe me if I told you, that "I love this!?" Every single moment is a treasure to me! I have Christmas tunes playing in the background, tonight I was listening to White Christmas playing on the television. I'm starting to get word from family on their arrivals to town and so excited to see and enjoy them all so much. 

I will be back to co host "What to do Weekends"
 with Linda tomorrow, but that's all for now. Thank you for popping in on my Christmas preparations. I hope you are finding the Joy in these days leading up to the celebration of the birth of Our Lord. 
Many Blessings to you and your Family!

Sharing with:
Katherine @Katherines Corner   Cindy@ My Romantic Home Courtney @ French Country Cottage

11 December 2014

"What to do Weekends" #102

This is my first time joining forces with Linda @ Crafts a la Mode to co-host her wonderful Linky Party, "What to Do Weekends"!! I'm excited and a little bit scared. However, I'm sure it will be Great! We want to see what you all have been up to! 

If you haven't already been to Linda's Blog, you can pop over right here:Linda @ Crafts a la Mode's "What to do Weekends"

Feel free to grab our party button and proudly display it on your own Blog! (just copy and paste the button somewhere on your blog!)

If you can link back to our Blog's or follow us in some way, we would truly appreciate it! 
We'd love to have you follow us on our Facebook pages, too, so you won't miss out on all the highlights!
You can Like and Follow Linda on her Facebook page @ Crafts a la Mode:Here
Me @ Shoestring Elegance: Here

 I hope you are enjoying this Christmas Season! You all know me, I need to share some little Christmas Bling before we get started.
I just love these rose mercury balls!

Many Blessings,

Now On with The Party!

We love to hear from you, won't you leave us a comment.

09 December 2014

Anything Can Be An Elegant Centerpiece~2 Christmas Edition

Awhile back I shared a post with you all, entitled "Anything Can Be An Elegant Centerpiece" you can view the original post here. It has been the MOST read, viewed and pinned post I have ever shared with you. The funny thing is, it's still true. Every day, in my home I use the same things to make every little part of my home a little more "elegant" a little more "special" for me, my friends and family. It appears that you like that, too. 
Therefore, I wanted to give a Holiday update to that, so that maybe it will inspire you to create something elegant in the little corners or centers of your homes! 
You may think this is a bit familiar. You first saw it like this:
It is so special to me, that I still fill it with Baby's Breath when it is readily available. If you didn't see what this little rummage sale find looked like before, be sure to click on that link above and take a look.
The point of that post and this one wasn't that you needed to find a great piece with metal lace on top or spend a lot of money, it was that almost anything on hand, when put together nicely and with love, can be the Perfect Centerpiece for you and for pennies!
Here's an example of one of my favorites from the last few weeks, that, consequently has done very well on Instagram
As a matter of fact, this little arrangement doesn't even look the same today! I brought down some more of my decorations and these lovely little mercury balls got some company!
I love having fun making my house more beautiful for all that visit, but for myself, too! Courtney @ French Country Cottage was one of the main reasons and Inspirations for why I started blogging, and she holds a party every Friday, called, appropriately "The Feathered Nest". So, what do you do to Feather your nest? It doesn't have to take much as you can see. I enjoy sharing with you all so much, you have helped enrich my life by your lovely comments and likes. Thank you so much for visiting me! 
May you have a wonderful week and be blessed.
Where I'm partying this week:

04 December 2014

Peanut Butter~Chocolate Krispy Bites

Happy December to you all!!  Thanks for popping by! It's finally here!! Yes, I am doing my Happy Dance. I know I make some people a little sick with my "all-things-Christmas" excitement! But I just can't help myself.  

Did you all get to check out my Holiday Apron transformation for under 10 bucks?! I have to say I am pretty proud of that one and yes, I am wearing it, while I bake!  Like my Grandma use to say, "if you're not going to use it, what's the good in having it?!" I try to live by the example she left, in that respect..

Now that I have my apron and my baking ingredients stocked up, it's time to start some serious baking!  I love that it has been cold and rainy here.  Just exactly the right weather for putting on Christmas music, a pretty ruffled apron and getting to work in my kitchen on all our Christmas Goodies to share!
Starting things off this year,  were these Super-Yummy, Super-Easy twist on the all-time favorite,  guaranteed to leave an empty plate,  Rice Krispy Treats.   Here's the twist:  I use less butter,  add a good dose of peanut butter and top them with a chocolate ganache! That's it! Simplicity at it's best! 

The original recipe is from one of my Mum's cookbooks, I can't even tell you which, my copy is so worn out, but it goes this: 
4 tablespoons butter
1~10 0z bag of miniature marshmallows
6 cups crispy rice or rice krispies
So the only real difference I made here was changing the butter to 
1-1/2 Tbsp butter & 4-5 Tbsp Peanut Butter the rest is the same! 

Oh, and the chocolate! We can't forget the chocolate!

Are you ready? Here we go!

~Melt the butter and peanut butter in a large sauce pan over low heat, until melted, add your full 10 oz bag of marshmallows until  blended. This shouldn't take no more than a couple minutes, don't overdo it. Better to have some unmelted than overcooked. Remove the pan from the heat.

~ Add cereal. combine well. (You can kinda play with the amount of cereal, too, depending on how dense you like yours. It work best with between 5  and 6-1/2 cups rice cereal.
~ Using buttered hands, press the mixture into a 9"x13" pan lined with parchment paper and buttered.
~Melt 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/3-1/2 cup cream in a double boiler, just until melted.
~Spread over your pan of Crispy cereal, then let set up @ room temperature. 
~Pull your parchment paper up from the corners, allowing you to remove the whole pan full over a cutting surface, cut into 2"x2" squares.
Then enjoy!  Don't bother trying to store these for the Holidays they'll never make it! This batch was gone in less than 2 days!  
Seriously, though,  these do store well in an air sealed container and are the first to be gone at any gathering.  
I hope you enjoyed my little twist on this old classic.  Happy December!

30 November 2014

How to Make Your Own Holiday Apron For Less Than $10

 I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is the perfect time to move onto all the Christmas fun, decor and baking if you haven't started already.  I am, truly, so excited at this time of year, so much to do, so much beauty to see, family and friends all around and so much to be thankful for!  I love it, even more, that you can deck your halls from top to bottom and spend very little doing it!

This year, I thought I would start by making a Holiday Apron (that I've been meaning to do for quite a while)!! It really couldn't be much easier.

27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Last one just out of the oven!

How happy I am to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!!! 

I pray that you are with Family and Friends enjoying the day, or maybe for some, the football! 

For me, I will Thank the Lord with all my heart for all the Blessings He has bestowed on me every day.
May you all be Blessed beyond all your expectations.

14 November 2014

My "Gratitude" Tree

Happy November! Boy, I am getting excited and very into the Spirit of the Season this year!
Yes, I know!.... this early?!  You bet!  I've been working hard, bargain hunting and putting the last touches on several projects, that I will soon be sharing with you! 

On this one, I will admit,  I completely copied the idea! Yes, I'm honest enough to admit it and, actually sorry,  I hadn't thought of it on my own, first.  However,that being said,  they are drastically different. The idea is all that is similar.  Have you ever made and kept up a Gratitude tree?  If you have, Yay for you.  I am impressed! I keep up a Gratitude journal, but I have never before made a Gratitude tree, one started in the beginning of November so it can be added to daily!
What an awesome way to remind ourselves, and all that visit, how very Blessed we truly are, as we ready are house and cupboards for Thanksgiving!

This is how my Gratitude Tree came together!

I rather like it a lot! It makes me smile and "count my blessings" several times throughout the day, as I pass by it.  I have even taken to asking friends and family to fill out a tag of whatever they are grateful for and to add it to my tree. So far, everyone was pleased to do so!  There you go, another thing I'm grateful for!

If you Google "Gratitude Tree" or "Thanksgiving Tree" you will see, there are as many different ways to make one as there are things to be thankful for.  So, this is my way! 

A Christmas tree is only a Christmas tree if you decorate it to be such. This cute little burlap wrapped pine tree I thought fit the bill just perfectly for my little Gratitude tree! I hope you and enjoy it and find some way to remember all that you have to be thankful for. If you don't find yourself in a thankful place, well then, you have my sympathy and prayers.
Many Blessing to you, Friends!

So happy to tell you that this post was featured by Richella @ her beautiful Party Grace At Home!

I'll be sharing this post with:
Courtney @ French Country Cottage, Cindy @ My Romantic Home, Natasha's Say G'day Saturday, Kerryanne @ Shabbilicious Friday , Sherry@ The Charm of Home  Alison @ Nancherrow's Fridays Unfolded  Ramona @ Create With Joy's Friendship Friday  Sarah @Holiday Frugal Tips  What Mommy Does'Weekend Wind Down Jamielyn @ I Heart Nap Time Beverly @ How Sweet The Sound   Aimee@ It's Overflowing  Cheri @ It's So Very Cheri Vanessa @ Nifty Thrifty Things    Kim @ Savvy Southern Style: WOW us Wednesday   Marty @A Stroll Thru Life
Pamela @ From My Front Porch to Yours:Treasure Hunt Thursday  Nici @ Posed Perfection: Creative Ways  Richella @ Imparting Grace: Grace At Home

File under: #thanksgiving, #gratitudetree Thanksgiving, Gratitude Tree Thankful DIY thanksgiving tree crafts decor holidays seasons celebrations faith

06 November 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins~A Healthy Twist

Happy November!  Are you enjoying the Fall? This time of year is so exciting for me. I'm loving the cooler weather and all the changes that come with it! I hope you are enjoying it, as well. Ok,  on with Recipe! You know, there all kinds of fancy desserts on the internet, and heaven knows I am tempted to go for the WOW factor, as well.  The truth of the matter is that the best recipe I have to share with you in this month's Peanut Butter challenge, or for the Fall weather for you and your Family to enjoy, for that matter, (as mine does) is a muffin.

It's my own recipe, I have tweaked here and there over the years. It is really quite simple. No appliances necessary, just a good, hot oven. 

I am always trying to find different ways to eliminate the use of oils and fats in recipes, yet still get that rich tasty flavor. This one really does deliver that. That being said, my entry to this months Peanut Butter Bash challenge, for Peanut Butter and Pumpkin is a really yummy, fairly light Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin!

I know what you are thinking...there's no peanut butter in that title! Right?!  Well, yes, you are right. But, may I just say many of us use peanut butter as an ingredient often, and it doesn't always have to be the star of the recipe, but it sure does help make a great end result.  My "go to" on almost all my muffins is:
 1 cup Oats
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup flour 
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Now, understand that is the base for a great muffin that uses 1/2 the flour and lowfat buttermilk.  I do tend to embellish it quite a bit.  I LOVE Pumpkin everything, almost. I am especially partial to Trader Joe's Organic canned pumpkin puree

So, I'm just going to get right down to this recipe! You may think it sounds a little wonky, but I guarantee you you will love it and so will your friends and family!

First of all, bake in a hot oven... Preheat your oven to 400F.   So as I stated above:  Soak 1 cup of Oats, Quick or Regular, in 1 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup of Applesauce. For this Recipe add 1 cup of Pure pumpkin puree, combine well and set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together, not to much, though. just combine.
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 large Tablespoons of creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup each white and brown sugar

(A little UPDATE here: if you are not a fan of Peanut Butter, you can easily do without that addition, and substitute with 1/3 cup of canola or vegi-oil)

Add to your Oat mixture, combine and set aside.

Over a nice size piece of wax paper, in your sifter (if you don't have a sifter you can combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, I do recommend that you whisk them until combined and aerated. 
1-1/2 heaping cups of All Purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pumpkin spices to taste.


I really like Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice mix (and no, I don't get compensated by Trader Joe's) LOL
I use 1 large Tablespoon of their pumpkin spice mix.(so, if you are a leveler, 1-1/2)
If you don't have any pre-made spice mix, here's a great combination of spices to get you the same flavor combine  Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves and Ginger. Personally, I  use more cinnamon and nutmeg then cloves and ginger, because I buy them fresh and in bulk, so the flavors are strong. But, I believe you could do equal portions of each and get a great flavor, just the same.
Combine dry ingredients with wet.
I'm showing you this picture for one reason.  I firmly believe that Most every muffin and/or biscuit or scone is 10 times better when you combine the wet and dry ingredients By Hand. And, I don't mean a rapid stir, just a gentle kind of folding things together, just until combined.  

Now you are ready to fold in your Chocolate Chips. I use 1-1/2 cups, usually, but if there's a lot of kids around, I add a whole 12 oz bag! You get the idea?! It's very flexible. I've added chopped walnuts before and it was wonderful. For my parents, I pour enough batter to make 6 muffins aside before adding the chocolate chips, because they prefer Pumpkin, Raisin Walnut Muffins. anything goes! Fill your prepared muffin tins 2/3 of the way and bake for 8-10 minutes. That's it!  

I hope you enjoy my humble offering and give it a try! They are great to have in the house and wonderful and easy to make & share with Friends and Family!  They also just scream Autumn's here!! 

If you want to join in on the Peanut Butter Bash Fun, Contact Miranda, by email @cookiedoughandovenmitt.com  or join our Facebook group Here

I hope you all Fell back gently last week and that you are enjoying a Blessed week! Thanks so much for popping by! More to come soon! 

If,  Heaven forbid,  My Recipe was not your cup of tea, please check out all the wonderful creations below.

I'm sharing this post with:

30 October 2014

Reminders and Save the Date!

Good morning, friends! I hope it is a beautiful morning where you are, too!! Just a quick post with a couple reminders!

That's right,  next Thursday I will be adding a new recipe to an incredibly gifted group of fellow Bloggers!  There is still time, if you want to join in on the fun! We have grown, already! As a matter of fact, I think we have almost double from last month!  So, if you want to join in you can either contact me or e-mail Miranda at miranda@cookiedoughandovenmitt.com and request to join the Peanut Butter Bash Facebook Group! The first Thursday of each month we will post a dessert using Peanut Butter and a mystery ingredient! 

One other piece of news to share, not one that should be surprising, but more of a gentle reminder. 
Yes, it is this weekend!!

I am hoping to be back later today to share another fun little project I just finished up for my sister! Have a wonderful Thursday!
Blessings always

file under: Fall, Autumn, daylight savings, #pbbash, cooking, decor, 

25 October 2014

New Blog Look & A Blessed Day

Good Morning! Well, It feels a bit strange, here. For those of you who are new, I have just radically overhauled the look of my Blog! And, for those of you who have been with me for quite awhile, what do you think?

I have received more than a few comments and/or e-mails that Shoestring Elegance's "old" blog background was dark, and perhaps very difficult to read, especially for those of you who were viewing from Mobile devices. So, I dived in and changed to a lighter background with dark print. 

I'm feeling a bit like a fish out of water! Very new and different for me to get used to. With that said, I'm not sure I am done yet! The trials of being an OCD'er!  I would love your feedback about the change. It is far more for your reading pleasure than for me, personally. 

None the less, today is a wonderful day! Yesterday and today I have been honored and Blessed with the task, of once again, handling Decor for my church's Baptismal Celebration dinner!! So once again with great pleasure, I got to play with roses, I mean, arrange some absolutely beautiful roses for the tables at the celebration dinner! Aren't they stunning? Who would not want to play, ahemm, arrange such beauty?!!  

I hope you you all enjoy the new look, here! Please let me know in the comments.  I am off to finish up with my decor for the celebration. I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Saturday! Oh my goodness, I almost forgot to tell you, IT'S RAINING, here, this morning!!! Gonna definitely have to do some dancing it, while I can! :)
Many Blessings to you all, and much gratitude for you taking time to come over for a visit! I appreciate you all so much!

Sharing with:

By the way, if you were wondering, the beautiful new header on my Blog was created by and offered free, from the extremely talented Linnea, at Vintage Made For You.

file under: Fall, Autumn, decor, faith, roses, beauty, new blogs, blog looks, headers, templates