Best Chocolate Cake Ever

Happy New Year! My name is Sarah and I am a blog neglecter and Pinterest addict (Follow me here). I would like to think that both problems are related ;) . Well anyway, while perusing Pinterest, I came across the king of chocolate cakes. Put your stretchy pants on and get ready because this is the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted!

It looked amazing, I was ready to make it and then, BAM! I click the link and the recipe is in Spanish. (Original link)

shocked

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about you, but about the only thing I can say in Spanish is “Hello” and “1,2,3,4,5″.

Well, since I didn’t have Dora handy, I  ran the recipe through an online translator. Parts were rough (One translation told me to mix some robe in ), but I was able to get the main part. Here is the recipe!

WARNING! If your New Year’s resolution was to stay away from sweets, lose weight or anything along those lines, leave now! Quick!

Yes, it tastes as amazing as it looks!

Yes, it tastes as amazing as it looks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER RECIPE

2 cups white sugar
1 ¾ cup of white flour
³⁄₄cup pure cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda.
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt (the original recipe said 1 tsp)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 * F (180 * C).

In  a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, pure cocoa, baking soda,  baking powder and salt. Mix and then add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and mix again. Make sure everything is well mixed, but without mixing too much. Add the boiling water (the batter will be very liquidy). Mix and pour into greased and floured 9 x 12 pan. (Original recipe said to put it in two (2) separate 9 inch diameter pans, but I didn’t have any)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting:
115 ml of melted butter
2/3 cup pure cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter, add the pure cocoa and mix. Start adding powdered sugar and milk alternating between each. Add more milk if necessary. Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is made. Makes about 2 cups

Try to share and not hoard all of the chocolately goodness!

If you try the recipe, tell me what you think. Happy eating!

 

 

 

 

Etsy Superstar: Bindu Designs

It’s always exciting to have a fellow Canadian on the blog, especially one with such an awesome Etsy shop. Today’s Etsy Superstar is Bindhurani Saju (Bindu for short) of Bindu Designs. Bindu Designs has a great collection of handmade crochet pieces and jewelry, everything you need to stay warm and look fabulous this holiday season!

Q: Is there a story behind your shop and/or shop’s name?

A:  I was working as a dental assistant, full-time. I was not happy with the job. As a way to relax, I started doing crochet. Then, I found it is interesting to make scarves. So, made several scarves, then started to give away them as gifts. Then I got some requests for the different colors and yarns of their choices. 

That led to making crocheted jewelry. BeadFX , a bead store, was doing classes on jewelry making. I took few classes. The earrings were a hit with co-workers.. Many of my jewelry were given as gifts. Then friends started buying them for themselves and as gifts. Meantime, I got sick and quit my job for a short time. I was diagnosed with depression. Crochet and jewelry making was the only things I was interested in. I will say, the crochet was pulling me out from my darkness. The money was getting tight and buying supplies for my hobby was almost out of question.

Then some one suggested, I could sell the items I make on Etsy. I thought, I could use the money to buy my supplies and some one can be happy with my crafts. That is why I started Bindu Designs on Etsy.

I was not giving much attention to the store till the spring of 2012. I am working part-time now. I spent a lot of time to create and add things to Bindu Designs.

Q: What’s your favourite item currently for sale?

A: The brown infinity scarf with white flowers and the Green infinity scarf with flowers.: http://www.etsy.com/listing/112430214/crocheted-infinity-scarfgeen-crochet?ga_search_query=infinity 

Both are my favorite items. The brown infinity scarf is bought by Bethany of Project Whitespace blog.

Q: What’s the best part of having an Etsy shop? The hardest part?

A: I started blogging when I was thinking of selling my items. Also, I was active on Facebook. To learn more about blogging I started reading other blogs and forums. I came to know about many great bloggers. Bethany Lee of Project whitespace has helped me with setting goals. Susan Cooper of Findingyourwaynow.com is another great motivator. I am in a group of crafty and mom bloggers group on Facebook as well. It is called BloggyGirls club.  Also, I am active in many of the Etsy teams. Because of the shop, I learned a lot about social media and photography.

The hardest part of having a shop is keeping everything organized. I am not an organized person. I guess, my brain is just not wired to be organized. Time management is also tough for me. When you go online, time flies away.

Q: Any new items we can expect to see in your shop in the near future?

A: I will be adding crocheted beanie caps soon. Then thinking of having a section for babies.

Q: What marketing venues / strategies have you found to be most successful?

A: I find that twitter is bringing more views to my listings. Facebook page is another great source.

Q: What are you biggest inspirations?

A: My biggest inspiration is the nature. I like to visit  beautiful places  in Canada. Last summer, we visited some naturally beautiful places in Ontario. Going to down town Toronto is like looking through a kaleidoscope. Canadian fall season will inspire everybody for sure.

Q: What cartoon character do you look like and what cartoon character would you like to look like?

A: I don’t watch cartoons that much. But, I like Sponge Bob.

Q: The best piece of advice anyone ever gave you? The worst?

A: It may be funny that best advice came from my daughter. She is a teenager now. She told me to concentrate on what you have control over. Let go off the things which you cannot control.
I can control the listings on my shop. But I cannot control the sales. She told me to put more effort on the listings and marketing. Then stop worrying about the rest.
The worst: I can’t remember any bad advice.

Q: Where else can you be found online?

A: Facebook: www.facebook.com/BindusDesigns
Twitter: twitter.com/BinduDesigns
My blog: www.bindu.ca
LinkedIn:  ca.linkedin.com/in/bindhurani

 
Thank you so much for being here, Bindu!

Bindu has been kind enough to offer all of you fabulous readers 20% off by using the coupon code: LOVEINFINITY. Don’t miss out on all those great holiday gifts!

This is my favorite piece from Bindu Designs. What’s yours?

Lip Balm Cozy For Keychain

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Katie L. Carroll was here a few months ago telling us all about her adorable kid, “The Boy”, and her fabulous new book Elixir Bound. Well today I have been tagged by her for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! I can’t guarantee that my answers will be very exciting compared to others, but here it goes!

 

What is the working title of your book?

Kaboom!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came to me when I was watching my nephew try to jam way too many crayons in to a box.

What genre does your book fall under?

Children’s Picture Book

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh boy! That’s a toughie. I don’t know too many child actors or dog actors. If it was a cartoon, I’d love Adam Sandler to be the voice of anyone!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After a box of crayons explodes, turning everything the wrong color, it is up to one little boy to make things right again.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Chances are I will be subbing directly to publishers, so neither.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A couple of days. I can’t begin to express how bad it was though! I think I am now on my 20th draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmmm, some readers have told me that it reminds them of Harold and The Purple Crayon. Mind you, I wonder if that’s just because they both have crayons in them ;).

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My nephews. Their antics often have my imagination running wild.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s a really fun book that is full of twists and turns.  Almost every child (and adult!) can relate to trying to fix a problem that just keeps getting bigger.

 

And that’s all folks! What have you been working on lately?

Etsy Superstar: Patricia Wood Creations

I am happy to feature a new shop on the Etsy block today, Patricia Wood Creations. Patricia Wood has a fabulous collection of  swarovski crystal jewelry in her shop. A must see! So, without furthur adieu I give you Patricia and a look in to what drives her Etsy shop.

 

 

 

Q: Is there a story behind your shop and/or shop’s name?

A:  My shop started when I first saw my father-in-laws Swarovski Crystal collection of animals and adorable items all sparkling away in the cabinets. I have always had a passion for jewelery so I decided to mix to two together. I then opened my shop to sell the jewelery I had made using swarovski.

Q: What’s your favourite item currently for sale?

A: My current favourite piece is the Halloween necklace:  www.etsy.com/listing/109616529/halloween-plum-and-gold-drop-hanging

Q: What’s the best part of having an Etsy shop? The hardest part?

A: The best part of having an Etsy shop is the community. I really enjoy communicating with other sellers and the inspiration that people provide is really out of this world. The hardest part for me is keeping away, I love this site! I am always online reading blogs and posts and also looking at other items people are selling

Q: Any new items we can expect to see in your shop in the near future?

A: New items that are due to hit my shop are my new tribal range of jewelry using swarovski beads and also a weaving bead necklace section.

Q: What marketing venues / strategies have you found to be most successful?

A: I have found Facebook and Twitter an absolute mega help, especially the Facebook advertising.  I now have people looking at my jewelery all over the world.

Q: What are you biggest inspirations?

A: My biggest inspirations are the natural outside, I love the countryside and nature. This inspired me to create my Earth Necklace www.etsy.com/listing/109491257/earth-brown-amber-inspired-beaded

Q: What cartoon character do you look like and what cartoon character would you like to look like?

A: I can not think or a cartoon character I look like, but I would like to look like Penelope Pitstop from Wacky Races.

Q: The best piece of advice anyone ever gave you? The worst?

A: The best piece of advice I was given was to make sure that your photographs reflect how good your work is, I am still working on improvements but it sure is a good selling point. The worst advice was to look at someone who has sold an item and try to recreate it – that’s cheating and not very creative.

Q: Where else can you be found online?

A: Twitter: www.twitter.com/pwoodcreations

Facebook: www.facebook.com/patriciawoodcreations 

 
Thank you so much Patricia for being here!

 You can find Patricia and her lovely jewelry at Harewood House, Leeds on October 28 and Village Hotel, Weetwood On December 2. So, if you’re in the area, stop by!

This is my favorite piece from Patricia Wood Creations. What’s yours?

Etsy Superstar: The Eclectic Element

I am very excited to introduce a brand new series, the Etsy Superstar Series! Every week I will be featuring an interview from a different Etsy shop owner.  The shops featured may not have a bajillion sales, but their products are amazing.

I am even more excited to be able to introduce the first guest in this series, Kayla Potega,  owner of two fabulous shops, The Eclectic Element: Handcrafted and The Eclectic Element: Vintage . The Eclectic Element is filled with handcrafted and vintage jewelry. It has many beautiful finds that are sure to turn a few heads!  Kayla herself  is an empowered young woman who has overcome many hurdles in life. In my eyes, she is a true inspiration.

I hope you enjoy a bit of insight in to her Etsy journey as much as I did!

Q: Is there a story behind your shop and/or shop’s name?

A: I knew that I wanted an Etsy shop (these were before the days of two shops), but I just hadn’t come up with a name yet. If you know me, you know naming something is VERY important to me; I’ll contemplate for hours until I come up with something meaningful and perfect! Which is what I did ironically-I stayed up all night writing down random words on a note pad that correlated with myself, my business, words I liked, etc and just paired them all together until I finally paired ‘The Eclectic Element’ and had that ‘Ah-HA!’ moment.

Q: How did you start creating what you sell?

A: I started creating jewelry a little after I got sick with chronic Lyme Disease. At the time we had no idea what it was I was sick with, so we were going from one doctor to the next and one of my teachers in high school who understood what it was like to be chronically ill took me under her wing so to speak. She took me  to one of her support groups and the craft of the month was jewelry making. After my first stretchy bracelet, I was hooked! 

Q: What’s your favourite item currently for sale?

A: There are several things that I’m partial to, but this one necklace that I made is definitely a favorite of mine:

www.etsy.com/listing/86343942/moonlight-haze-gold-and-silver-tone?ref=v1…

Q: What’s the best part of having an Etsy shop? The hardest part?

A: The best part of having my Etsy shops would have to be the fact that even though I can’t physically work a ‘real life’ job, I’ve gone ahead and made somewhat of my own and Etsy is a BIG part of that independence for me! The hardest part would definitely be keeping up with everything; listing, relisting, packing, shipping, promotion…You have to be really motivated on a daily basis!

Q: Any new items we can expect to see in your shop in the near future?

A: I’m always replenishing my vintage shop, so you’ll definitely see all sorts of lovelies passing through there. As for my handcrafted shop, I’m working on building my inventory so I can have a good collection of things when I do finally list everything. Not sure when that’s going to be, but keep coming back to find out ;)

Q: What is your biggest inspiration(s)?

A: My biggest inspiration, as odd as it sounds, is the material I work with and my own mind. Unlike other people, I see an inanimate object, a piece of jewelry just begging to be upcycled, or a particular set of beads, and all of a sudden it’s transformed in my mind into something completely different!

Q: What is your favorite cartoon character and what cartoon character would you like to look like?

A: Interesting question! I think my favorite cartoon character would be Scooby Doo (who doesn’t love that big ol’ great dane?!) and I’d love to look like Jessica Rabbit-She’s the bombshell of the cartoon world ^.^

Q: The best piece of advice anyone ever gave you? The worst?

A: The best piece of advice I was ever given was everything happens for a reason, whether good or bad, and it brings you to where you currently are in life. So just be thankful for what brought you to this point in time instead of dwelling on things past. As for the worst, I honestly can’t think of any bad advice!

Q: Where else can you be found online?

A: The Eclectic Element: Vintage: www.theeclecticelement2.etsy.com

The Eclectic Element: Handcrafted Jewelry Facebook: www.facebook.com/TEEhandcraftedjewelry

The Eclectic Element: Vintage Jewelry Facebook: www.facebook.com/TEEvintagejewelry

TEE Jewelry Blog: www.teejewelry.blogspot.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/TEEJewelry

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/Jeanne1789

Google+: plus.google.com/u/0/112446153955657116410/posts
Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: I’d love to offer your readers 20% off a purchase in both of my stores! Just use the code SARAH20.

Thank you so much for this opportunity! :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank YOU, Kayla. Readers, don’t forget to check out both of Kayla’s stores! I promise you won’t be disappointed. :)

This is my favorite item from her vintage shop:

 

What’s yours?

 

Keys To Unlock Your Creativity

Words that sit heavy on the tip of the tongue and the biggest frustration of many artistic types… Creative block. Whether you’re trying to write and the words aren’t coming or you’re trying to paint and the only thing you’re drawing is blanks, the frustration is much the same.

I never thought I’d say this, but today I hope to be a plunger. No,  I do not do house calls or wish to go anywhere near your toilet. What I mean is I hope to be able to help you plunge away at some of that artist and writers’ block with these links and activities:

Better Homes And Gardens. With great picture slide shows, it’s the perfect place to find some grease for your creative wheels.

Artists: You might find inspiration in the craft projects or the array of color palettes. There are tons of great tutorials for DIY home décor, gifts, decorations and much much more!

Writers: Here’s an activity. Go though a slide show featuring different rooms and create a character that lives there. Is that picture frame on the end table filled with a picture of their childhood dog? Did they get that really cool vase while travelling the world?

 Mad Libs. Such a simple childhood game, who would have thought they would be great to melt away creative blockages!?

Artists: Alright, so you’re done the Mad Lib and end up with something like, “The blue frog married the purple apple.” Ridiculous? Sure, but start doodling some of the images described in the Mad Lib. Those silly sketches might be just what you need to get you out of your rut.

Writers: Going back to the frog and apple example, try to stem a story off this. Okay, so no one is necessarily going to read a story about a frog marrying an apple, but what if the frog needed glasses and thought it was a beautiful purple frog? There could definitely be something there to get you started on a picture book.

 Wanelo. This site, a lot like Pinterest, is brimming with inspiration that’s waiting for you to stumble upon it!

Artists: Try creating boards with themes like inspirational patterns, color palettes, watercolor, clay etc.

Writers: Create a character board or a setting board. On a character board put your character’s favourite food, where they live, their prized possessions etc. For a setting board pin rooms, houses, landmarks, buildings, décor etc. Basically anything that will help you see where your story takes place.

For more ideas on beating artists’ block, checkout this post.

Happy plunging!

Writing Lessons From My One-Year-Old

Katie's Adorable Son a.k.a "The Boy"

Katie’s Adorable Son a.k.a “The Boy”

I am very excited to introduce today’s guest blogger for the Unlikely Teachers Series. I always see her around the Verla Kay Blueboards , so I was thrilled to hear about her upcoming release, ELIXIR BOUND. Please give a warm welcome to Katie L. Carroll!

 

Thanks for having me on the blog Sarah! Having a son (in cyberspace affectionately known as The Boy) has provided me with a whole new perspective on life in general, but it has also blessed me with a new perspective in my writing life, especially because I write for teens and kids. Here are some writing lessons I’ve learned from watching the first year of The Boy’s life.

 

Keep the Wonder Alive

The world is a wondrous place for the The Boy. We see a bus or a motorcycle drive by and we might cringe at the noise or shudder with the stench of exhaust. The Boy sees a bus or a motorcycle drive by and he shivers with excitement. He must be thinking What is that thing? How does it move like that? It’s so loud and fast! Take the wonder of a child to your writing. Make the world of your story a magical place (even if there’s no actual magic in it). New emotions—think first love—are a whole wondrous landscape for kids and teens to marvel at. Make your readers shiver with excitement at the elements you bring to the story.

 

Be A Proper Mimic

When The Boy hears a dog bark, he doesn’t say “bark, bark!” or “woof, woof!” He makes a noise that actually mimics the sound the dog makes. His bark is more a throaty “eh, eh.” He notices that bigger dogs often have a deeper bark and smaller ones have a higher-pitched bark and adjusts his own doggy noises accordingly.

I’m a very plot-driven writer and often struggle with voice. Notice the different voices of your favorite authors—the deep bark versus the high-pitched one. What words do they use? How do they string those words together? Try writing a paragraph or two in the voice of your favorite author. Then take a look at your own work and analyze it for a spark of voice. When you find a passage you really like, see if you can bring out your own voice in the rest of the piece.

 

Look At It With Fresh Eyes

The Boy often surprises me with how he interprets what is going on around him. I have a big family and we’re kind of infamous for the way we sing “Happy Birthday to You” (each of us to our own beat and pitch). Where the rest of us relish in the joyous noise, he picks up on the chaos of it and cries (we’ve learned to bring him into the other room when we sing). Each person’s perspective is a fresh one. What one person loves, another may hate.

Reflect that in your characters likes, dislikes, and opinions. I think this is so important to consider when you’re an adult writing. Just because you’ve heard or seen something a million times, doesn’t mean the kids you’re writing for have. That’s not to say it’s okay to fill your writing with clichés. Do the opposite. Kids don’t know always know clichés, but that also means they’re not going to use them. They have their own unique way of describing and experiencing things, and you should in your writing.

 

Look At It With Fresh Eyes

Nope, you’re eyes aren’t broken. There’s another lesson here. In the first year of life, pretty much everything is new. The Boy views the world with no prejudices or expectations. This is a great lesson for revising. You’ve finished the first draft. Great! Now put it away. Come back to it with fresh eyes with no preconceived notions about what you thought it was going to be. See what’s really there in the words you wrote as opposed to what you pictured in your head. Sometimes the actual story turns out to be very different from what you intended to write…maybe even something better.

Katie L. Carroll’s debut novel ELIXIR BOUND is available for pre-order from MuseItUp Publishing for your Kindle, Nook, PC, or other device.

 

ELIXIR BOUND

Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of FawayForest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.

For it is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings who will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.

 

 

 

 

Katie L. Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. It also made her realize that she wanted to pursue writing as a career. In addition to penning novels for teens and kids, she edits puzzle magazines, plays soccer, and collects signed copies of books. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son. For more about Katie visit her website at www.katielcarroll.com.