Crock Pot Candy Gifts

I”m still baking and cooking for the upcoming Holidays. I find a lot of joy making yummy gifts for others. The following recipe is one of my favorites as it is SO EASY! Make up a double or triple batch and give to your friends and family. This also makes a great hostess gift!

Crock Pot Candy

32 oz. Pecans (you can also use peanuts, walnuts, almonds)

12 oz. Semi sweet chocolate chips

4   oz. German sweet chocolate

32 oz. Dark Chocolate Melts (or white chocolate)

I use all dark chocolate, as this is my favorite!

Place ingredients in a crock pot as listed. DO NOT stir. Cook on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. DO NOT open the lid. After cooked, stir and drop by spoonfuls on a parchment paper or wax paper lined pan..   Allow to harden (I stick mine in the refrigerator to speed this up) Store in a closed container. SHARE as these are addictive and you can eat them all yourself.

These make great Christmas & New Year’s gifts!

Visit Dragon Alley Journals Etsy Shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/DragonAlleyJournals

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Too Much Stuff

I haven’t blogged in a while, and it is because I have allowed to much “stuff” get in the way. Family, extended family, paper work, bills, mental and physical “Stuff”. Way too much “STUFF” in my life that has gotten out of control.

What have I done about it? Well about three weeks ago I bought a book called “Everything That Remains” by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus. They were in town at a local book store and I was ill and could not attend so I bought their book and glad I did. This book is a story of how they went from the very hectic corporate world where everything is about excess to where they are today, a more simplistic lifestyle.   It struck a note with me and I took a look around at all my “stuff” both real and imagined, and started doing something about it.

The first thing I tackled was my bedroom closet. I went through it like a mad woman and eliminated over a third of my “stuff”. Just mine, I didn’t touch my husbands as I wanted this to be his decision, not just mine.   Some of you are saying “only a third” and yes you are right, there will be more being donated out of my closet over the next weeks and months. But for now, whew it was very freeing to have open space in my closet.

Next I tackled the spare bedroom and the excess furniture in my house. What I didn’t sell at my garage sale, is being donated.   And the positive result of this is after three years, I am going to be able to park my car in the garage!

Over the next month I will be going through each room and eliminating all the extra “stuff” I have either kept because I might use it someday or though guilt.   If you got a gift that you will never use, don’t let guilt stop you, give it away or donate it so someone who need is will use it.

It is a long road to travel lighten your burden, less is more!

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OOPS! Holiday Shopping- A Year of Living Cheap

Don’t let the frantic pace of the holidays make you lose site of your budget goals.  Don’t buy that first gift you see because  you just want to get it over with and move on.  THINK! 

Ask yourself, is this really the gift you want to give?  Is this the price you want to pay.  Is there something that is more appropriate or something  they will appreciate/use more than this item?

Take a few minutes to sit down, write down the names of the people you want to give gifts to this holiday season.  Then go over the list again and eliminate the people that should not be on the list, don’t let emotions guide you, be practical.  Write at least two gift ideas that are inexpensive and would mean something to the person you are giving the gift.  No gift has to be expensive  if it comes from the heart.  A handmade item often times will mean more to the recipients than an expensive gift bought in haste.

My mom would rather receive a card that tells her how much she has meant to me than something I bought.  So buy a nice card, and write with your heart.

You still have time to plan ahead and get the right gift.  Do not let the fast talking marketers make you buy, THINK.

You will be glad you did when the holidays are history and you can look back with a smile and know they were the best.

Come and visit me at:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DragonAlleyJournals

http://stores.ebay.com/Dragon-Alley-Journals

http://dragonalley.webs.com/

https://twitter.com/DAJournals/

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Being a Small Business Owner

I have found that owning my own business has its ups and downs.  And much like a manic-depressive person the ups are glorious and the downs are debilitating.  Although my Dragon Alley business is not a traditional “brick and mortar”, it still brings in much needed income for my family.

So what do I do when my business is down, I evaluate.  I take a look at my online listings, and make improvements so they can be seen on mobile devices.  I make sure my descriptions are short to the point and clear.  I look at the product that is not moving and put it on sale.  If it isn’t moving, get it out of your store and move on to something that is more appealing to your buyers. Also diversify your product.  If you have one product, what do you do when everyone has bought that one product and no longer needs another?  You find another (or several if you are smart) product that is attractive to your buying audience!

I have also started doing Arts & Craft Shows.  Yes they are a lot of work but the benefits you get from meeting other crafters, that are having the same problems, is a HUGE bonus.  Ask them what they are doing to get out of their slump.  Exchange business cards and create a group that meets at least once a month to brain storm ideas.

I have also started attending seminars and free classes put on by my local Chamber of Commerce.  Yes, the city you live in wants to see Small Businesses succeed.  Small Businesses are the back bone of the economy in any area.

So read, learn and get out there and Support Small Business like yourself!

Here are some of my links.  Stop by and see me!

http://stores.ebay.com/Dragon-Alley-Journals

http://dragonalley.webs.com/

https://twitter.com/DAJournals

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Milk Free Cheese Cake- A Year of Living Cheap

What did our parents ever do without the internet?  I use the internet every day to research prices and products I need.  I also use the internet for recipes for thing I want to make, bake and create.  I have a lot of food allergies and this is such a huge help in finding substitutes of items in the recipes.

I love cheese cake but am lactose intolerant.  A lot of people can not have milk products and their symptoms range from simple gas to those of us that have to run quickly to the bathroom!  Since I want to take a cheese cake to our family Thanksgiving dinner and I can find no bakery in my area that makes dairy free cheese cakes that don’t cost an arm and a leg, I did my research and here is what I found!

PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 1 HOUR

TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR, 30 MINUTES

YIELD: 1 9″ CHEESECAKE

INGREDIENTS:

  • For the Crust:
  • 1 1/4 cup finely ground dairy-free graham cracker crumbs (from either store-bought or homemade graham crackers)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 5 T. melted dairy-free soy margarine
  • For the Filling:
  • 4 8-ounce packages dairy-free cream cheese, such as Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • Egg Replacer for 4 eggs (I use Ener-G Egg Replacer) or, alternatively, 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free sour cream, such as Tofutti Sour Supreme
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • For the Topping:
  • Several tablespoons of dairy-free sour cream, such as Tofutti Sour Supreme
  • 1 21-ounce can cherry pie topping
  • Vegan Whipped Cream, for serving (optional)

PREPARATION:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9″ spring-form pan well with dairy-free soy margarine. Set aside.

2. Make the crust. In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and white granulated sugar until well combined. Add the melted dairy-free soy margarine and mix until well combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up 2″ of the sides of the prepared pan. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack while preparing the filling.

3. Make the filling. Using a standing mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat the dairy-free cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to mix until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the Egg Replacer, beating until well combined, followed by the dairy-free sour cream and pure vanilla extract, beating well with each addition and scraping down the sides periodically to ensure even mixing. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cheesecake is lightly browned. Spread several tablespoons of dairy-free sour cream over the surface of the cheesecake to fill in any cracks. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely for 1-2 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to chill completely. Top with the cherry topping, then return the cake to the refrigerator for 1 more hour. Serve the cake cold with Vegan Whipped Cream if desired.

And here is the link I used. http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/Cherry-Cheesecake.htm  

Enjoy!

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Come and see me!

http://stores.ebay.com/Dragon-Alley-Journals

http://dragonalley.webs.com/

 

 

Making Soy Candles – A Year of Living Cheap

Soy Candle Making 

This craft is an easy and inexpensive way to make wonderful gifts.  All you need is:

2 lbs Soy Flakes

2- Four cup glass measuring cups (microwave safe)

Scented essential oils

Wax Candle Color

8 Four ounce jelly jars or 10-12 votive jars

HOT PADS!!!!  Do not touch the measuring cup when taking it out of the microwave with your bare hands.  HOT, HOT!!

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Empty half of the 2 lb bag of soy flakes into each of the glass measuring cups.  Microwave one at a time on high for about 3 minutes.  Add your wax color and microwave one more minute.  If not melted, add 30 seconds at a time.  Mixture must be clear.  Place the measuring cup on a hot pad to protect your counter top.  Remember the hot pads for your hands.

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After you have melted all your wax, let the containers sit for about an 30 minutes, stirring the mixture occasionally.  Add your essential oil at this point.  I used lavender and peppermint which are my favorite.  I get my oils at my local herb shop, Desert Sage Herbs http://www.desertsageherbs.com/Desert_Sage_Herbs/Welcome.html

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While your soy mixture is cooling down, prep your jars with wicks.  I use wax wicks and not the wood wicks.  This is a personal choice as I have not had any luck with the wood wicks burning.  They usually flare, sizzle and then go out.

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use Tacky Wax to hold my wicks to the bottom of the jar.  Some people use hot glue, but I have had more success with the Tacky Wax (you can also use it to put posters on your wall without ruining your paint with holes!).

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After waiting the 60 minutes your mixture should be looking cloudy and a little slushy.  Now is the time to pour your candles.  Again use care as the glass will still be very warm.  After pouring your candles IF you want to add anything to the candle, now is the time.  I add lavender flowers to my lavender candles.  I sprinkle the flowers on top and use a tooth pick to push them down into the candle.

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Clean up is really easy, just use soap and hot water. 

Let the candles completely cool, then you can move them out of the way.  Wait 24 hours before you add any lids.

The cost for the wax is not too expensive.  I buy mine online and get 10  pounds for $20.00 which includes shipping.  Expect higher prices if you go to a hobby shop.

Go forth and create beautiful gifts for your friends or for yourself!

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Come and visit me on my website at  http://dragonalley.webs.com/

Please leave comments or suggestions on this blog!

 

Homemade Gifts for Holiday Giving – A Year of Living Cheap!

This year I will be making my Holiday Gifts!  This is a great way to save money and to make a one-of-a-kind gift for the special people in your life.

Several easy homemade gift ideas are:

Simple leather journal

Soy container candles, scented or unscented

Beaded bracelet

Leather draw string bag, pouch

All of these are simple DIY projects and only take a couple of hours, tops.  You can do an internet search and watch a video or get the step by step instructions.  IF the instructions go on and on, do another search with the word “easy” in it.  None of these projects are “Rocket Science” and any beginner can accomplish every one of these.

I melt the wax for my soy candles in the microwave in a “microwaveable safe glass bowl”.  It is easy, fun and I love the fact I have candles made by me in my home!  When making the leather draw string bag, there is no sewing if it is round (like a dinner plate)!  Punch holes evenly spaced, run a string or leather lacing and it is done.  You can choose to decorate with beads or if you are using suede leather you can paint on it.  It is really simple and fast.

So choose your project, don’t go overboard when getting the supplies.  Simple is always better and won’t hit you in your pocket book like a bomb went off. Your friends and family will love the gifts you made just for them and you will not have to touch those credit cards this year!

If this is not your cup of tea, then support local crafters and go to a craft show to get your unique handmade gits!

http://dragonalley.webs.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dragon-Alley-Journals/156515134449134

For great Custom Books, Leather Journal, Planners @ http://stores.ebay.com/Dragon-Alley-Journals

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