Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Valentine's Tuxedo Strawberry Recipe

Valentine's Tuxedo Strawberry RecipeBy Carolyne Roberts

With fresh local strawberries on sale in the stores and at the roadside here in Central Florida, I thought you would enjoy a strawberry recipe with a Valentine twist. It's a tad tricky but the results are well worth the effort!

Tuxedo Strawberries Recipe

15 Servings

Prep: 1 hour


15 medium fresh strawberries with leaf stems still attached
1 cup white chocolate chips
3-1/2 teaspoons shortening, divided
1-1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Wash the strawberries and pat until completely dry with kitchen towels. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof/waxed paper and set aside for later use. In a microwave-safe basin, melt the vanilla chips and 1-1/2 teaspoons shortening at 70% power; stirring until smooth. Dip each individual strawberry until two-thirds is coated, forming the tuxedo shirt, allowing the excess to drip off.

Place on your previously prepared tray, and chill for 30 minutes or until set. Melt the chocolate chips and remaining shortening. To form the tuxedo jacket, dip each side of the strawberry into chocolate from the tip of the strawberry to the top of vanilla coating. Repeat on the other side, leaving a white V-shape in the center. Set the remaining chocolate aside.

Chill the strawberries for 30 minutes or until set. Remelt reserved chocolate if necessary. Using the melted chocolate, pipe a bow tie at the top of the white V and three buttons down front of shirt. Chill for 30 minutes or until set. Store in the refrigerator, in a covered plastic container for a maximum of 1 day.

Carolyne Roberts - A Master Gardener in Hillsborough County Florida. Visit our Blog to learn more about Gardening in Florida, this Blog was set up to enable us to interact with our community and share the Joys of Gardening.


Romantic Valentine's Day Gift & Decor Crafts

Valentine Pet Name GeneratorBy Rashee A

Valentine's day buzz is in full bloom, and all the couples are busy brainstorming what to gift their Valentines, that makes it really special for them. There are plenty of eye catching options available in the market, but nothing captures the heart like a handmade gift. A handmade gift is sure to bring a smile on your sweethearts face.

Valentine's day craft activities are very easy and interesting. Some basic craft stuff can make it really easy for you, to prepare a nice, cute, romantic handcrafted gift for your Valentine. It can be a gift, a decoration piece, a nice handmade gift wrap, a delicious meal, or just even a dessert. Anything lovingly prepared is lovable.

The easiest of the crafts for guys is jewelry. Beaded jewelry is the easiest to craft. Just get some nice beads, and strings, put them together to make some mesmerizing pieces of jewelry like anklets, bracelets, necklaces, armlets etc. Apart from jewelry, most of the gift or decor crafts are not restricted to any particular gender. You can craft nice pink cushion covers, or bed throw covers, with a love message on them. If you are not really good with the needle and the thread, you can easily avail different shapes and designs of cloth patches that you can paste on to the cushion cover.

Similarly you can, also craft some nice lampshades. Just get a basic metal lampshade and decorate it with your choice of cloth or jute shade decor accessories. If you are good with colors and the brush, you can get a plain glass lampshade and paint something romantic on it, like a heart, an angel or even a plain cupid. Get creative and splash your colors of love onto a beautiful addition to your bedroom. Another decor craft for the occasion of Valentine's day can be making heart shaped, flower wreath, decorated with ribbons and other decorative items.

All couples look for a great dining experience to end the day with. A candle light dinner wins hands down. You can add to the charm by dropping a personal touch to these special candles for the night. Make a variety of colored and scented candles for your beloved. Just get some transparent candle gel, candle colors, aroma oils and put them together in a nice wine glass with sequins, shells, flower petals or glitter inside. Decorate them with ribbons, heart stickers and love notes to make it all the more special.

Wall hangings, photo frames, photo albums are also some of the easy things that you can make. Wall hanging depends on what ever you are more comfortable with, cloth painting, silk painting, glass painting, canvas painting or anything. If you are not so talented, crafting a romantic, Valentine's day cardboard photo frame is also very easy and quick to make. Just put in a nice photograph of you to into it and make a great table top memoir. Photo albums basically fall under the handmade paper crafts category which has a lot of other enticing options. Make a nice photo album using decorative, textured handmade paper, with some of your best pictures put together, and sprinkle a little bit of scent to it!

Some of the handmade paper crafts that look absolutely stunning and aesthetically beautiful, and make great Valentine's day gifts, are handmade cards, envelopes, paper gift boxes, gift bags, lamps, flowers and more. Making a handmade card or an envelope is a very easy craft. Just choose your style, colors, message and get going. Similarly for handmade paper gift boxes, gift bags and other wrappings. Pour your heart out in the form of romantic poetic writings on these boxes and dedicate these precious gifts wraps to your darling valentine.

You can use these Valentine's day crafts as table centerpieces, wall decorative items, table tops, gifts and gift wrappings. Just add a personal touch to your special rendezvous with your partner on the romantic Valentine's day dinner.

For more ideas on Valentine's day gifts, decor and related crafts, checkout Styling Home and Craft Smitten [].

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Surprise Your Valentine With Delicious Homemade Chocolate - Coated Butter Toffee

Homemade Chocolate - Coated Butter Toffee
By Linda Carol Wilson

This year why not surprise your Valentine with a special treat rather than the usual box of chocolates! Everyone likes to feel important and homemade candies are a great way to say, "You are special to me". But don't make this candy just for Valentine's Day. This is a great year-round treat! You know after Valentine's Day we have Easter, then Mother's Day, Father's Day, well you get the idea! And I will let you in on a little secret. Expect requests for no occasion at all other than to say you care.


We often made this delicious toffee where I was raised in Southern Indiana many, many years ago!

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 squares baking chocolate (melted)
1 1/2 cup very finely chopped nuts

Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch pan and set it aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and add the sugar; stir until well blended. Return to low heat and stir constantly until the mixture reaches a full rolling boil. Add the water and corn syrup mixing well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly to a soft crack stage. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the half cup of chopped pecans. Pour into the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Allow to cool in the pan. Remove cooled toffee from the pan to waxed paper and spread the top with the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with the finely chopped nuts. Allow to stand until the chocolate is set. Break into pieces.


For more sweet treats visit Linda's blog at For her diabetic recipes go to

How to Make a Paper Valentine Heart Garland

How to Make a Paper Valentine Heart Garland

Here's how to make a traditional folded paper heart garland for Valentine's Day. Because you fold the paper hearts like a fan, or an accordian, you can easily tuck this pretty garland inside a Valentine card as a surprise gift for that special someone.

Paper Heart Garland

construction paper, scrapbook paper, gift wrap or wallpaper
heart shaped template (print our folded heart template, or draw your own)
transparent tape

Paper Heart Garland
Craft Instructions:

Print and cut out a heart-shaped template,, or draw your own on a piece of stiff paper.

Fold a piece of paper like an accordian, or a fan, making each fold the same width as your heart template. You can see how the paper should be folded in our diagram, at right.

Place the folded paper on the table, and set the heart template on top of it, as shown here. The flattened sections of the heart shape should be placed against the folds on the left and the right sides of the paper.

If you have drawn your own heart shape without flattened sides, place the heart shape on the paper so that the edges overlap the sides of the paper just a little at the top.

Trace around the heart shape, then carefully cut it out around the bottom point, and around the curves at the top, leaving the flattened edges on each side uncut.

When you open out the folded hearts, they should look like the Valentine garland in the photo. But maybe your garland isn't as long as you would like it to be. Make another one in the same way then use a little transparent tape to join the two garlands together.

Keep adding sections of folded hearts until your garland is the desired length.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Santa Flying Over Town Bauble

Santa Flying Over Town BaubleDid you catch a glimpse of Santa over your town this Christmas eve? If you missed him, as most people probably did, you can make a Christmas tree bauble depicting the scene of Santa flying over your town, even over your house if you fancy it.

To make a Christmas Bauble of Santa flying over your town you will need...

A black Christmas Tree Bauble,
A tube of silver glitter glue,
PVA glue,

And a picture of Santa flying in his sleigh - you can find images of Santa on Google to print out for this. Search Google below...


Santa flying sleigh

Submit search form



First 'draw' yourself an equator line with glitter glue, around the bottom of the bauble, about quarter of the way up. From this line draw roof tops, chimneys and church spires. You could draw the top of your school, your house, your church, your town's clock tower or another prominent building in your town. In this way you can personalise the bauble.

When you have drawn the building sky line, fill in with glitter glue.

Stand the bauble up side down in an egg cup, so that the glitter glue isn't disturbed. And fill in below the equator line with glitter glue and leave to dry.

Find yourself a nice image of Santa flying in his sleigh pulled by his reindeer, there are lots to choose from on Google. Copy one that you like and paste it into a word document. In word you can change the size of the image by clicking on the picture to select it and then getting a corner of the image and moving it inwards. This will shrink the image. Make the picture small enough to fit onto your bauble, and print it out.

As carefully as you can, cut out the picture of Santa and his reindeer. Ideally you don't want to leave any of the background colour on the picture.

Glue the cut out of Santa to the bauble, and leave to dry for a few minutes before adding a few starts in the night sky with the glitter glue.

Return to the egg cup to completely dry before hanging the bauble on your Christmas tree. Personalised baubles make great little gifts for Aunties, Uncles, grannies and grandpas too. Think about the prominent buildings that they might have on their sky lines to show that Santa was flying over their town.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Make a Jar of Romance This Valentine's Day

Make a Jar of Romance This Valentine's DayRomance isn't just for Valentines Day, however in day to day life sometimes romance takes a back seat, especially if you have been together for many years. So this Valentines Day make a change, and allow romance into your life every week with a jar of romance.

How to make a Jar of Romance
You need to find a nice Jar that will contain all your romance. You will also need 52 nice pieces of paper. It makes the Jar look so much more romantic if you use 'nice' pieces of paper, opposed to old scraps of paper that you have tore up.

Divide the 52 pieces of paper between yourself and your partner - you will have 26 pieces of paper each.

On the paper you have to write a romantic activity that you would like to do with your partner. This could be a walk in the park feeding the ducks, or a candle lit dinner at your favourite restaurant, or cuddling up and watching a romantic film.

Don't include romantic ideas that cost exuberant amounts of money, or event that will take a lot of planning. So don't add things like a weekend in Paris, most people would struggle to arrange for this to happen in a week.

Once you have written your romantic idea on the card, fold it in half and in half again, and drop it inside the jar.

You could also add, glitter or love heart confetti to the jar and a couple of heart shaped chocolates to decorate the jar and to make it feel special.

One the jar is full of your romantic ideas; you need to give it a shake.

Every week draw a romantic idea out of the jar and fulfil the romance at some point during the week.

This is a great way of bringing more romance into your relationship. Remember - romance is for live and not just for Valentines Day!

How-To-Valentine's Day Gifts - The Love Box

How-To-Valentines Day Gifts - The Love Box.jpgBy Christine Doheny

The longer I've been here, the more creative I've become. The creative juices have just been flowing and I have become quite the crafty gal. With Valentine's day coming up and more and more bills to pay it means I have to create something for Valentine's day this year. Here is a great craft idea for you and your Valentine sweetie.

A love box- This is my favorite craft idea of all time. It actually came to me from my officiant, but I'm going to change it up a little bit so you can get crafty with it. This makes for a great Valentine gift that you can actually make with your significant other. There is great meaning behind it, which I will get to later. What you can use is:

* A box with a lid- big enough to put a bottle and glasses in
* Construction paper
* Stickers
* Glue
* Glitter
* Scissors
* String or tape

All you need to do is create the box in any fashion you wish. You can cut the construction paper to wrap around your box and then glue it on. You can decorate with all different embellishments including stickers and glitter. You can write your names on the outside of the box or write "I love you because..."

Once the box is complete you can then put in a bottle of wine, champagne or whatever the two of you like to drink and two wine glasses. You then need to go in your separate corners and write a note to each other. In this note, you need to write why you love each other, what makes you happy about that person and why you want to marry this person, or why you already married this person. Do NOT show each other the notes you wrote. Once they are done, you put them in the box with the bottle and glasses. You can then tie a string around this box or tape it shut and put it away in storage. You CANNOT read the notes you wrote for each other. What's the point you ask?

The point is this: If there is ever a time in your relationship when it gets really tough and one of you thinks about giving up then you need to get this box out of storage. The two of you need to take the box out together and open it. You then open your bottle and pour it in the glasses while you read what each other wrote about the other person. In doing so, you will remember all the good times and why you love this person as well as why they love you. You will become a stronger person as an individual and as a couple. I just love this so much and it has so much meaning to it. This doesn't necessarily have to be a Valentine's craft, but it can be for any day.

If there's never a rough patch in your relationship then congratulations! Set a high goal for yourselves. If you reach 10 years of happiness then write another note to each other and add it to the box. Hopefully you won't ever have to read them.

It puts a smile on my face and I'm sure it will for you as well. This Valentine's day can be an extra special one.