Momma Told Me: January 2013

Blog Archive

Choosing a Case for the #HTC8 #Troop8x

Windows Phone Cases
Momma Told Me: Protect your tech!

I was raised in a household where negligence was simply unacceptable. After, about, the age of 7 I recall my father having a very serious conversation with me about the value of belongings, and the importance of care. Whether it was a Barbie I decided to hack the hair off of, or my school calculator covered in grape juice; once an item was irreconcilably altered/damaged, it would not be replaced, no matter the implied importance. And that was in regards to item I owned; you can imagine the importance and stress put on valuables my parents obtained. "Treat everything as though it were your own, with the utmost care," Momma would say whenever a friend would bring over their favorite toy, or we'd journey to Grandma's house, full of trinkets and baubles.

Caring for your belongings is no better illustrated than with modern electronics that seem to get smaller and slimmer every month, yet more and more delicate and advanced in technology. A $600 phone? The very thought would have been scoffed at some 10 years ago, but here I sit nervously fawning over my new #HTC8 Windows handset. Weighing in at 130g with an ultra slim profile that consists primarily of it's 4.4" widescreen display, I was quite literally afraid to touch or handle this device for the first few days. Though it has somewhat of a built in shock absorbing casing, it's hardly protected from life's natural bumps and falls. Thanks to the Gorilla Glass 2 screen, I can rest assured a standard screen protector will be more than enough to extend the life of this uber sensitive swipe display; but what about protecting the 1.5 GHz Dual-Core processor within? So I promptly hit the 'Bing' search button and hit the inter-web on a hunt for the perfect #HTC8 case.

There were many options initially returned from my search; I was quite surprised just how many major name brands were already producing integrated cases especially for this Window's phone. A brief roundup is shown above, from Upper Left to Lower Right:

1.) Panda Bear Hard Cover Case: A basic Black and White plastic case that offers minimal protection internally, though will protect the exterior of the phone from scratches and scrapes. While I flagged this case because of my obsession with Pandas, it's hardly the protection I'd prefer to put on this workhorse of a Window's phone. The colors seen in the illustration are the natural color highlights on the handset, in my case it would show California Blue, not Red.

2.) Cimo S-Line Flexible Black Case: With a MSRP list price of $20, I consider this anti slip coated case to be mid range in pricing and protection for the #HTC8. A nice feature of this flexible, bend on, case is the inclusion of silicone port plugs that keep dirt and dust from entering vital smartphone connection points. Because the HTC 8x has a built in battery I don't need to worry too much about ease of removal, when shopping for a case, but the flexible case does offer the freedom of changing between different colors for fashion purposes. Cimo currently offers this case in 7 primary shades to match your Live Tiles screen!

3.) The Sugarphone Armor 3-In-1: is a highly affordable case that offers some nice 'flashy' features, such as an included kickstand to view all of those old episodes of Lost on my Netflix app with beautiful HD streaming on the crystal clear 4.3" screen. I've never owned a phone with a big enough, or clear enough, display that I would consider streaming video content for entertainment, but the HTC 8x makes for a great boredom buster and content streamer when killing time. This case consists of 2 pieces, a hard plastic frame, and a thick rubber grip exterior, which has been the topic of some criticism among reviewers. Having owned a similar model on a previous phone, it does almost double the thickness, but the HTC 8x is so sleek, I'd hardly call that a concern with this device.

4.) OtterBox 77-24080 Commuter Series: In my opinion the OtterBox range is the creme-de-la-creme for modern tech protection. Not only do their cases include multiple layers of shock absorbing protection, but an extensive warranty as well. The Commuter series adds minimal bulk while providing protection through layers of silicone skin on a tough polycarbonate shell. This case also includes silicone port protector plugs and a self adhering screen protector, to save money on additional purchases. I love that OtterBox includes this!

What Daughter Says: There are many great options to stylize and protect your HTC 8x Windows phone, so grab your Bing Search and check them out today!

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, HTC.
As Required by The FTC: I received the new HTC 8x Windows Phone as part of #Troop8x, though opinions contained above are mine, and mine alone.

#rethinkwhatyoudrink with All New Silk and Dairy Free Recipes

spicy corn muffins
Momma Told Me: They must be putting something in the milk.

Growing up I drank a lot of dairy. For the better part of years 3-10 I ate cereal 5 or more days a week, and with whole milk. Somewhere around my preteens my father became aware of his inherited genes, genes which have since been passed down to me, and made a conscious effort to eat healthier. This was particularly spurred by the need to cut cholesterol and saturated fats. Almost overnight milk, as I knew it, was gone. What greeted me at the table the following morning came in a jug identical to me precious milk, but bore a slightly different color label and the words 'Fat Free'. Now, anyone who has gone from Whole to Fat Free, or 1/2%, knows the dramatic difference. I've since spent my life referring to this 'milk' as 'white water'. By the time I was old enough to buy my own groceries and make my own eating decisions it was too late; I could never go back to the thick 'whole' milk, it simply didn't appeal. Then, just out of high school, and in a fresh relationship, I discovered the world of milk alternatives. My boyfriend, whom I was arguably inseparable with, drank Soymilk by preference, and that preference was for the brand Silk.
dairy free latte
I never knew there were so many varieties of soy-milk, let alone so many refrigerated variations of milk alternatives. As times still very much dictate, buying dairy based products was an expensive task, and I quickly fell in love with the convenience and freedom of milk alternative selections. You will rarely find a coupon for 'milk', but I almost always have coupons on hand for my favorite brand of milk alternative, making the savings all the sweeter. Most people who do not already possess a variation of dairy/lactose intolerance discover soy milk, and other alternatives, much like I did, through a loved one. Very few people seem to pick up soy-milk out of curiosity. Now an avid consumer, it's hard to imagine why, but I too recall my initial reservations about texture and taste. There certainly are enough brands and variations, and my experience has taught me they all have their own unique purposes. Almond and Coconut milk alternatives can be especially great for baking, or offer a sweeter finish to a healthier cereal/breakfast choice, while plain soymilk can be used in cooking for everything from sweets to savories. For more insight on milk alternatives check out our Google+ album.
milk alternative bakingWe always have Silk on hand in our household; and I have officially made the switch from 'water milk' to soy and almond milk. I can hardly remember what it was like to pour spoiled milk down the drain! In the past year Silk has really expanded their core line to include the wildly popular drink and smoothie aids, Fruit & Protein line, and the brand new Silk Iced Latte range at our local Walmart. If your tastebuds were as intrigued as mine at the sound of a ready-to-drink Iced Latte, then we are soul mates. Currently available in Mocha and Vanilla Soy Latte, this coffeehouse beverage is easy to serve over ice (though you'll have trouble breaking the 'sip from the carton' habit with this). At 100 calories per serving, Silk's Mocha Iced Latte is more coffee than sweet flavor, and very smooth for a dairy free beverage. This tastes even better blended with ice, and goes wonderful with a little bit of Malibu Rum when entertaining! Most recently I decided to see if I could incorporate this Silk variety into my everyday cooking, as I do with the standard line. I decided to substitute the water in my family's German Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake recipe with Silk Mocha Iced Latte. It's a German tradition to substitute water for fresh brewed coffee, so I knew it would transition well.
For the most part, cooking with a milk alternative is much like any other substitution; with should be an even exchange for the liquid based dairy in any recipe. Unless you are modifying a recipe that calls specifically for whole milk, assume any thinning in texture, transitioning to a milk alternative, will not impact the overall texture of your recipe. However, there are many variations in flavor, when shopping for soy-milk, and you should always be sure that you are grabbing a flavor free, or 'Original', variety. Baking with Vanilla Silk is delicious but making mashed potatoes with it, not so much! We like to keep a gallon, or 2 half gallons, of Original Silk on hand, and a half gallon of our current flavor of choice. I know I will end up cooking with at least a half gallon throughout the week- so I like to have a 'hands off' carton designated for this. Need a little dairy-free inspiration? Check out the Silk Pinterest page for plenty of mouth watering ideas! ***For those curious about the sauerkraut in the cake; I promise you the rinsed and dried sauerkraut offers no flavor to the cake; merely texture and the retention of moisture. Most of my guests assume it is coconut!
chocolate sauerkraut cake
German Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake


* 2/3 C Butter
* 1 C White Granulated Sugar
* 3 Eggs
* 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
* 1/3 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
* 2 1/4 C All Purpose Flour
* 1TSP Baking Powder
* 3/4 TSP Baking Soda
* 1/4 TSP Salt
* 1 1/4 C Silk Mocha Soy Latte
* 2/3 C Rinsed, Drained, Chopped Sauerkraut

Preheat Oven to 350F

1.) Grease and Flour 2 8" Pans, or Bundt Pan
2.) Cream butter and sugar. Beat in Eggs and Vanilla
3.) Sift Cocoa, Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt. Introduce alternately, with Silk Latte, to egg mixture.
4.) Stir in Sauerkraut and pour batter into prepared pans.
5.) Bake for 30 minutes, at 350F, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool entirely before loosening from pans. 

**This cake lends itself best to a glaze, rather than frosting, as it is dense and rich.
Also new for Silk is a reformulated recipe for their Original and Vanilla Soy-milk varieties. The new taste is slightly less sweet, in my opinion, and smoother to consume. That is to say there is less aftertaste, and the Original seems even more well suited for cooking. Silk has always sourced their beans from North America, and uses a whole soybean processing method that maintains a large percentage of the soybeans viable nutrients. This means that more calcium, fiber, omega-3s, and protein is kept in tact within the milk alternative. I bet you didn't know soy-milk can actually contain more calcium, per serving, than actual milk! When I tasted the new and improved Original Silk Soy-milk formula I was inspired to head online to their website, where there is a treasure trove of Silk dairy free recipes. I love that I can find recipes already adapted to milk alternatives, covering everything from side dishes to drinks and desserts. This week I decided to try a Spicy Chipotle Corn Muffin recipe; which came out unbelievably moist, but understandably hot! Cooking with Silk is just one of the ways I show my family I care; from Jeremy's Lactose Intolerance, to the extra calcium and nutrients we so sorely need.
Spicy Chipotle Corn Muffins


* 3/4 C Yellow Cornmeal
* 1 1/4 C All Purpose Flour
* 2 TSP Baking Powder
* 1/2 TSP Salt
* 1/2 TSP Cumin
* 1 C Silk Original, or Unsweetened, Soy, Almond, or Coconut Milk
* 1 Egg
* 1/4 C Canola Oil
* 1 TBSP Honey
* 1 (7oz) Can Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce, Drained and Diced
* 1 C Canned Corn Kernels, Drained

Preheat Oven to 400F

1.) Spray/Grease a 12 Cup Muffin Tin
2.) Whisk together Cornmeal, Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, and Cumin in a large bowl.
3.) In a separate bowl, whisk together Silk, Egg, Oil, and Honey.
4.) Pour Egg Mixture over Cornmeal Mixture and stir until ingredients are moistened. Do not over-mix.
5.) Gently stir chopped chilies and corn into batter.
6.) Spoon into prepared muffin tin (about 3/4 full), and bake for 15-18 minutes, until tops begin to turn golden brown.

**We like to serve chili over this- be warned they are spicy! I like to pour half of the batter before adding the chilies, for those who have a more mild palette.

What Daughter Says: Try Silk milk alternatives today and discover why Silk isn't just for the lactose-intolerant (or for drinking)!

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and WhiteWave.  #CBias #SocialFabric.

Some Tips On Earning Income From Home

earning from home
Momma Told Me: It may not be a lot, but it adds up.

I was taught the value of money from a very early age; before I even started earning an 'allowance' for chores completed, I was recycling cans for CRV and learning about tax write offs for donations. Momma taught me that one does not have to be rich, or win the lottery, to live a fulfilled live full of all the resources they needed. Simple acts, like clipping a coupon, or sending in a rebate, can reclaim money that is already rightfully ours, thanks to smart purchase decisions. I also learned, no matter your age of skill level, there were always ways to earn money. Momma preferred to generate some extra income through craft fairs and creative outlets. For me, I have always found ways to earn money online from home.

If I had a dollar for every time a friend, online acquaintance, or family member has asked me how to make money online, I'd have a rather full piggy bank. While many find the idea alone preposterous, the simple truth is, anyone can do it. Naturally, you need to be a little savvy in approaching opportunities. Use websites like Volition to browse reputable opportunities, and read real time user feedback. Never pay to join a survey program or mystery shopping company, and always remember any income earned taking surveys or completing consumer research programs is taxable as an independent contractor (when exceeding an amount of $200 in a single fiscal year).

Earning from home, through market research, can be a bit frustrating at first, as there simply are an overwhelming number of sites and companies. Many websites will feed multiple survey providers and offer the user a portion of their 'take' in the form of points exchangeable for PayPal payments or gift cards. The points can seem a bit discouraging at first, but they really build up fast. Once you've got a few surveys under your belt you'll begin to see a pattern in basic demographic questions and can even use an auto-fill program to fill in the essential information on various forms. Some of the best websites for surveys have multiple earning opportunities through paid trials and product tests. Best of all, you are never obligated to complete any task or survey, choose what fits best for your time and skills, completing as many or as few as you want each day.

I've been supplementing my income with online surveys and mystery shopping since college; and have helped several friends and family members successfully do the same. Committing just 15 minutes a day to online market research can really add up to bonus income each month!

What Daughter Says: Earning money form home is possible when you are a smart and savvy consumer.

As Required by the FTC: I received compensation from SignatureSurveys to facilitate this post, regardless, the opinions contained therein are honest and mine alone.

My Confession: I Coupon, And You Can Too!

Momma Told Me: That 'scrap' of paper is money!

I have a confession; and after blogging for 2.5 years here on Momma Told Me, it will come as a surprise to even my loyal followers. You see, I am one of those women who get stopped in the grocery store with incessant questions such as "So, how much do you usually save?" and "What's your best savings ever?" almost certainly always to be followed by, "So, are you like, one of those Extreme Couponers?" That's right, I coupon.

Thanks to shows such as Extreme Couponing, I feel more ashamed than ever to make such a statement; please do not lump me in with the 'Extreme.' While Momma might have fallen under that category (back when double coupons were real, and stores would pay her money to take cart loads out of the store)- I use coupons for practicality, and fun. Yes, grocery shopping and even clipping restaurant coupons, has allowed me to live a lifestyle much more grandiose than my salary could afford. And yes, I do keep a 'stockpile', though never more than 20 of any item; and I am constantly cycling goods out of the house to my neighbors and relatives who enjoy 'shopping' within. For me, couponing comes with two sources of enjoyment; to begin, the tedious structure of planning, cutting, and organizing my coupons is almost therapeutic for me. It caters to my OCD tendencies, and is the perfect outlet for any of the week's frustration. My coupon binder, and my stockpile, is one of the few things I can control with a level of precision sorely lacking in other aspects of my life.
Second, it's plain hard to argue with the convenience of never running out of the essentials. Not only do I have shampoo on hand when a bottle is empty, but I have a selection to fit my mood. With my stockpile established, I can also be more picky about the sales I do take advantage of- I never feel pressured to pay high prices because I 'need' an item, and that makes me feel more in control when behind the cart. As Momma always says" Why pay double, when I can pay half?" While I could brag of my best trips, Momma certainly taught me everything I know, Not only did she have a repertoire with all of the cashiers at each of the 4 major grocery chains local to our family, but she had an 'in' with the butcher; to score amazing discounts on protein as well. But I won't lie, it's hard to just do 'a few' coupons. Trying to shave money off a grocery bill with a stray newspaper insert and some printed coupons would be like trying to collect an entire baseball team of cards from only handouts. Yes, I could take the coupons I come across, and 1-2 papers a month and shave a few bucks off of my grocery bill by chance- but the true magic happens when all of the cards are in that deck; when I not only have coupons, but enough coupons to match with sales.
I only recently switched from a small accordion coupon organizer to the binder you see above. Did you know they make sleeves (similar to trading card sleeves) just for the organization of coupons? I received a package of inserts for Christmas that included 5 different shapes/sizes of pocket sleeves. This enables for complete organization for aisle/theme, and even sub categories to match the week's sales at various stores. I organize my binder in order of department walk through at my preferred chain, Vons. That is to say that the beginning of my book is Health/Beauty, followed by Soft Drinks and Beverages, which is the second department I see when walking through the store. Of course, when you shop in a grocery store with a giant binder of neatly organized coupons you have to expect to be stopped. Whether I have just started my trip, with an empty cart, or have a second half full cart pulled behind me, I am always stopped by curious staff and customers.
It's a lot of work. I don't mind saying it; I don't know why it seems like a secret code to brush this hobby off lightly. Us couponers spend hours each week clipping, organizing, and planning- it takes time, but not a genius. In fact, I guarantee you can shave 60-70% off your grocery bill with a single newspaper subscription (Sunday edition), and a home printer. With all of the websites dedicated to couponing, it is incredibly simple, so let me share with you my 'idiot proof' links that have helped countless family members, including my father, coupon for one. (Couponing for one does not necessarily mean one person, it is my term for budget couponing, rather than stockpile or 'extreme' coupining). It's as simple as:

1.) Sign up for the major newspaper in your area, Sunday delivery. (Introductory rates can be as low as $.25/issue, simply do a Google search for any discount codes/rates. If nothing turns up, call your local provider and ask for their new subscriber rates.)
2.) Print Coupons. Don't waste your time hopping to multiple websites and hunting them down, use the 3 main circular providers:,, First time coupon printers will need to authorize basic applications before they can't print. This is a one time event, and simply authorizing the coupon printers to run; companies do this in order to limit the number of prints/user to 2. I visit once a day to print all of the day's coupons. They update as new coupons go live and provide direct links to print them. You never need to 'hunt' for coupons again, and can even search for a brand/item, to find out if there are current coupons for this week's sale items.
3.) Now that you have coupons you need to know what to buy based on this weeks sales. I use At the top of that site there is a dropdown menu with 8 grocery store selections. I choose the store of my choice and am taken to a page with all this weeks hottest deals. Every Tuesday night the following week's store ads will go live. All I need to do is click on the post for that week's ad, and I can view ALL of the sale prices by category, including a link to all printable coupon match ups, and reference to print coupon publication dates. It gets even easier, I can check off the items of interest to me and print a shopping list with the sale prices, and after coupon prices- it doesn't get any easier to coupon!
Now I don't run a coupon blog, and you will never see me posting blurbs about coupon links and freebies/samples. There are simply too many wonderful websites dedicated to that already- my blog is my space to share memories, thoughts, and discoveries. However, now that the cat is out of the bag, feel free to contact me for pointers if you're event interested in getting started. But remember, Momma's biggest lesson is that value does not equal price! The cheapest item/service, is not always the best deal for your time and money. The ability to clip and use coupons does not make for a savvy shopper. Coupons are put out by companies to encourage shopping/spending; you should always purchase products based on your experience within them, and the brands, in the past, never for a rock-bottom price. For those curious what I do when my stockpile exceeds my space; I am constantly donating boxed foods and necessities to charitable purposes. There are many causes advocating deployed, and returned, soldiers that can always take a grocery donation. I also like to keep a few gallon sized baggies full of toothpaste,toothbrushes, snack bars, deodorant, soap, etc, to hand out to the homeless we pass on the road. One of the top reasons I clip coupons is to extend my own good fortune and wealth to others!

What Daughter Says: Don't think couponing is for the gifted, anyone can do it!

(Kinda Cherry) Cola Cupcakes Recipe W/ Cool Whip Frosting

cherry coke cupcakes
Momma Told Me: No regrets, eat the cake.

I'd like to apologize in advance for the potential loading time, and photo intensive post ahead; however, Momma Told Me to live live un-apologetically. That's not to say I go around shoving ice cream cones in the faces of little children, or wear my britches around my ankles simply because I can. Instead, it means I live with no regrets. I own up to my own actions, take the praise (And consequences) for my decisions, and whenever possible, eat the cupcake. This blog, Momma Told Me, is very much about Momma and my childhood, but it is my corner of the web. While I may do product placement, in the form of reviews, or inspired posts, I never 'plug' anything I do not already use myself; and I never leave the nitty-gritty behind for excess fluff. I fill my posts with full scale photos, that may be tedious for some processors to load, and can get a little wordy once the virtual ink starts flowing. Some love this, some (mainly those who would be counting load times and bounce rates) do not. Do I care about those who do not? To be blunt, no. I am here for my own therapeutic benefit, blogging away the memories of my childhood, and as much as I love my readers, I would just as happily sit here and type with 5, as much as 5k. That's why those of you who keep coming back, truly love this site, isn't it?
In any case, in 2013, I've been trying to get back into some of the things that inspire me; this week baking, next week I might pick up a sketch pad and work on drawing. Now, while I cook every single day, I do not bake as near as often. Baking, which often implies sugar but does not have to, is thought of to be a more frivolous kitchen creative. As someone who went on a low sugar diet late 2012, I know all too well the dangers of a stocked pantry. Customarily, I truly enjoy baking, but do so creatively, and when I have occasion. Every year I make my father a unique cake from scratch (last year was Dark Chocolate Chipotle, the year before an entirely edible 'BLT' cake complete with white chocolate dipped Ruffles), and inevitably throughout the year I am asked to do various children's birthday cakes. Mind you, I am no professional, aside from watching one too many episodes of Cake Boss and Cupcake Wars, I have no training. Things do not always turnout as picturesque as I'd envisioned them, but, so long as they taste good, I chalk it up to a win.
Most recently a blogger organization I am a part of began buzzing about a new frosting product on the market; Cool Whip Frosting. No, your eyes have not deceived you, it does exist and it is everything your mind could possibly anticipate on the edge of the words 'Cool Whip'. My friends, the very concept of this product has taunted me for 5 weeks. During every trip to the grocer I would pause, longingly gazing into the freezer case, imagining what I could do with that creamy, frosting, goodness. To make matters worse, there seems to be quite a large blogger following posting their own inspired recipes and cake creations with this devilish aid. On a low sugar diet, and aching to bake, I have been tormented. If food porn exists (no response needed), then these posts have to be living on the edge; because they've had me mouthing 'Cool Whip' in my sleep!
So, while I still haven't installed a fancy Recipe Add-On to blogger, and some may find cutting/pasting my recipes between photos a pain' recall there are no apologies from this Pink haired blogger. What you are about to see is the result of Cupcake Wars inspiration that inspired my own variation on Cola Cupcakes, yes, cupcakes made with soda (and no, that can't be healthy for the body, but it's oh so good for the soul!) If you do a Google search you'll likely find hundreds of hits for 'soda cupcakes' or 'Coke cupcakes'. some recipes are as simple as substituting the water in boxes mixes with soda. Some warn never to use diet soda as a substitute, and others include as many as 15 ingredients. Each and ever one has some sort of witty addition to the soda cake concept, the most popular being to top the cupcake with a Maraschino cherry, or cherry flavored frosting. In the end, the photos included are the result of hours of research and tinkering in the kitchen, to bring you 3 cohesive recipes; the Cola Cupcake itself, Dark Chocolate Cola Glaze, and Licorice Filling. Garnishes include Licorice Filling Filled Red Vines (Sugar Free, don't question me, this was the only thing I could munch on while baking without going diabetic!), and Cola Gummis by Haribo.
Licorice Filling


* 4oz Red Licorice (Red Vines Preferred)
* 1 3/4C Water
*1 1/4C Granulated Sugar (Or Splenda Baking Substitute)
* 1/4 C Cornstarch
* 1/4 TSP Salt
*3 Large Egg Yolks, Lightly Beaten


1.) Tear licorice into even, 1 inch, pieces and add to saucepan with water. Heat until mixture begins to boil and most of licorice has dissolved. Constant stirring will aid in even 'melting' of candy.
2.) Remove from heat and allow to cool 2-3 minutes.
3.) Whisk in dry ingredients and yolks.
4.) Place back over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture evens to a thick and bubbly compound. Continue to cook an additional minute, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Licorice filling will not solidify, and can be kept at room temperature; though refrigeration is suggested when preparing more than a day in advance. If stored in fridge, remove an hour before filling cupcakes and leave at room temperature to soften. I like to keep this mixture in a classic squeeze bottle (think pouring chocolates or old mustard bottle), with a spout to insert and 'fill' the cupcakes.
Dark Chocolate Cola Glaze


* 1/4 C Cola (Coca Cola preferred, diet substitutes will change thickness)
* 2 TBS Dark Cocoa Powder
* 2C Powdered Sugar
* 4 TBS Melted Butter, or margarine substitute


1.) Melt butter in a small pan over medium-low heat, or in microwave.
2.)  Combine melted butter , cocoa powder, and cola in saucepan and whisk well. Remove from heat.
3.) When the mixture begins to boil, introduce powdered sugar gradually, constantly whisking.

Dark Chocolate Glaze will keep at room temperature, sealed, for up to 72 hours. As the mixture cools it will thicken to a chocolate syrup consistency.
Cola Cupcake Recipe


* 2C (1 Can) Cola, Coca Cola preferred, Diet will thin texture of cake.
* 1C Unsweetened, Dark Cocoa Powder
* 1/2 C (1 stick) Butter, Sliced For Melting
* 1 1/4 C Granulated Sugar (or Splenda Baking Mix)
* 1/2 C Packed Dark Brown Sugar
* 2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
* 1 1/4 TSP Baking Soda
* 1 TSP Salt
* 2 Large Eggs

Preheat oven to 325F

1.) Treat cupcake liners with nonstick cooking spray, or use foil based liners. This batter will 'bleed' through paper liners.
2.) In a saucepan, heat Cola, Cocoa Powder, and Butter over Medium heat until combined/melted.
3.)  Add sugars and whisk until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5-6 mins, or with gentle water bath.
4.) In a large bowl combine remaining dry ingredients. 
5.) In a separate bowl gently whisk eggs. Slowly introduce eggs into cooled cocoa mixture until combined.
6.) Gently fold flour into wet mixture. Batter will be slightly runny and lumpy. Resist the urge to over beat, which can change the texture of the finished cake.
7.) Pour the batter into prepared liners just under 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before decorating/filling.

(Kinda Cherry) Cupcake Assembly

1.) Keep cupcakes chilled until ready to fill/decorate. Introduce Licorice Filling into center of cupcakes via bottle or tipped bag, about 1" deep and fill until resistance if felt.
2.) Drizzle a TBS of Cola Chocolate Glaze atop cupcakes. If desired, use a toothpick to 'aerate' the top of the cupcake to allow the glaze to absorb quicker. Be careful not to run over the side of your liners!
3.) Top generously with Cool Whip Vanilla Frosting (Read more about my experiences below).
4.) Garnish as desired- I chose to cut my extra licorice in thirds and fill with remaining Licorice Filling. I then rolled the tops of these faux 'straws' in Strawberry PopRocks for a little extra interactive element guests and kids love. I balanced out the garnish with a Cola Gummi from Haribo.
As much anticipating as I had been doing over the Cool Whip Frosting varieties (sold in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Cream Cheese), my biggest concern going into first use was its decorative capacity. In order for it to be the same light and fluffy Cool Whip base we all know and love, the frosting does take a hit in the structural department. I found it a little difficult to pipe when thawed as instructed, and even when direct from the freezer; though I have seen gorgeous examples of this on several websites, so it is possible. I've also observed some cute 'dollup' attempts that play into the Cool Whip heritage of this frosting. After my first official baking use, my general opinions are as follows; 1.) Lock this stuff up, because it can be eaten from the bowl in one sitting, 2.) Cool Whip Frosting performs to the same standards as regular frosting, though it does require refrigeration in the tub, and post frosting, and 3.) The formula seems a little thicker than traditional Cool Whip, yet falls closer to the Cool Whip range than frosting in my opinion. All that being said, I have dolloped plenty of cake and pies with (regular)Cool Whip in the past, and think this concept is 100% genius!
cola cupcake recipe
I know the post has been a little on the rambling side; again no apologies on my part- Hopefully you've found a shot or two worth pinning. I try my best to inspire, after all, I find most of my own inspiration on blogs by people just like you! I'd love to share a concept I have for Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes with Cool Whip Cream Cheese Frosting, so yell loud enough and praise me, and I just might whip that up for y'all next month! If you do try this recipe, or any of the sub recipes within (the licorice filling is deadly delicious, and I'm sure has more applications), please drop me a note and let me know how you found it. Last year was Dark Chocolate Filed Red Velvet Cupcakes with Candied Bacon Frosting, this year I leave you Valentine's sweeties with (Kinda Cherry) Cola Cupcakes, enjoy!
What Daughter Says: This is one cake you'll try just to say you have- but be careful, the elements on their own are addictive!

The Death of The Postcard

Momma Told Me: Practice your penmanship!

I had no problem with handwriting as a child, especially cursive; which I would have wrote in all day if my teachers had let me. There was always something somehow therapeutic about putting a pen to paper and watching all of those thoughts spill out in ink. No matter the subject, it was like a mini confession, for anyone to uncover between those lines. Throughout the years, and especially when I got into illustration and (basic) graphics design, as a pre-teen, I even created various publications, and my own line of greeting cards. While only distributed locally (to my family, haha), Jenmark is still very much around today. I stamp that logo on the back of every Shutterfly card I make! Of course, today, I feel like the art of the written word is ever-fleeting. Even I, who make an effort to write every day, limit the majority of said writing to digital content. Which is precisely who I enjoy participating in the blog swaps (PetPals and Foodie PenPals), I do each month. Not only is there the physical connection of receiving a parcel full of hand picked goods, but each box contains a hand written note, a sort of personal long distance handshake.

When I was a child, and more-so when my own parents were children, and the American Road Trip was reality, there was a method of communication known as a postcard. Why am I referring to postcards like they're bell bottoms or a Super 8? Because, at one time, you couldn't walk into a drugstore or gas station and avoid the spinning racks by the door. You could walk in, passing through town, pick up 10/$1, and have them posted the very next morning. Of course, mail was also slower 'back then', and the postcards often wouldn't reach their destination before the individual that sent them had arrived home, but this was the way society shared glimpses of their travels. In modern times, this ritual has been replaced by a constant stream of social media. Just a few weeks back I was visiting my family for my Grandfather's birthday and was transfixed as my Aunt's phone went off every 5 minutes. Her 23 year old daughter was quite literally sending her blow-by-blow photos of her day trip up the coast for New Year's. I recall pondering how many of those 'candid' shots were in the process of invading my Facebook page at that moment.
Where are we going with this? Well, a week ago I got it in my head that I was going to begin sending a postcard with each my my 'swap' packages. I had a little lightbulb and I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if my 'written requirement' was some sort of element that could be held onto or collected?" I wanted to send something that gave a tiny glimpse into my corner of the world. So I thought I'd go out and buy a bundle of postcards just for this purpose. Well, this proved to be quite the task; even delaying the speed of my Foodie PenPal box by several days, for lack of postcards in sight. I stopped by all the major gas station-fast food- Jiffy Lube conglomerates off the highway, and was even disappointed at local drugstores on Main St. I live in the middle of the coast in California, just an hour outside of Los Angeles, and 2 hours down from a major tourist area. How was it that there were no postcards to share my town, or at least my state?
I was quite frustrated. When was the death of the postcard? I still had an entire collection of them stashed away in storage; the most vivid snapshots of my childhood, and the world back then, frozen in time. Without postcards how would people have known about the amazing Wagon Wheel Resort, Restaurant, and Bowling Alley here in my hometown? Driving by on the highway you certainly wouldn't recognize it, a shell of an alley barely still in operation today. But at one time families had vacationed there, at the nicest Olympic length pool in the county, before retreating to their cabin like bungalows. And how would I know about the Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo, CA), where my parents had spent their second honeymoon on the way to Vegas. To this day I still pull out the, highly collectible, postcards of the dated decor; each room themed with extravagance and 'state of the art' luxury. It's those scraps, those visions of history, I still cling to when I imagine romance, and envision my own similar memories to be made one day.
I understand we live in a digital age; but what would happen to us humans if one day all of those electronics were to fail. Looking back, 100 years from now, without the internet or digital records, how would our ancestors know who we were today in this age? I may be a little old at heart, and perhaps a little resistant to change, but the world around us seems to evolve rapidly each day, and it's scary to think the memories I will leave my own children consist of SNES vs PS3, or CD vs MP3. Let's face it, so many of our memories are kept in digital format, making them vulnerable. When photo albums are kept in an unseen 'Cloud' and road trip mementos consist of Instagram snapshots, where does our history really lie? Do you or your family still maintain certain 'old school' traditions to preserve memories and events? I try to physically print my favorite digital images at least 3-4 times a year to safeguard against digital unknowns.

What Daughter Says: While there's an irrational fear inside me that the written word may die out all together, I still practice handwritten letters and postcards today.

My New Phone: How The #HTC8 Simplifies Winter Gatherings #Troop8x

Windows HTC 8x
Momma Told Me: The loudest isn't always the smartest.

When I was in grade school there was always a classmate, or two, that couldn't seem to stay put and keep quiet. I'm not talking troublemakers or class clowns, I'm talking about those that constantly had to be adored and praised by the faculty and adults. Mind you, I was usually in the top of my class, grade and performance wise, but I was hardly the most decorated student. Even when I was sure of the answers I'd never shout them out, and would hesitate to raise my hand. For the most part I was content being the only one who understood my brilliance; after all, what did I care of the other kids knew how amazing I was, I knew, and that was what mattered most. Whenever it would come time for Citizenship awards and the recognition assembly I'd saunter on back to Momma with my lonely Attendance certificate and think to myself how things weren't fair. Momma, who knew quite clearly how bright I was, and how well I performed on schoolwork and tests, was always quick to remind me, "The loudest isn't always the smartest, the fastest, or the best. They may turn heads with reckless commotion, but it's not them who will be standing tall when things get quiet."
Why did I share this today? Well, you see, I like to think that I choose my electronics, arguably the well oiled gears of my social and work life, with a similar frame of mind. The digital camera I have stood by for years has only changed in MP, not model or brand. It is not an SLR, or even one of the higher end; it is made by a trusted brand with a myriad of other products and lines that garner far more attention and respect. I stick with it because it is quietly brilliant. What does Quietly Brilliant mean to me? It means that something is good enough to be celebrated for it's genius, yet does not need the trophies, accolades, and fanboys to justify this knowledge. It means that the item in question is versatile enough to mold to the user's needs, without them even knowing that had such needs. It makes life easier intuitively, and through simple improvements and features that are hardly noticed, yet the user would miss sorely if they had to give them up. And that is the frame of thought behind the HTC range of mobile smartphones, and the recently launched 4G Ready HTC 8x, by Windows.
I've been an Android user as long as I've owned a smartphone, with the exception of a brief foray into the shortly lived Windows Kin One handset, during a beta testing opportunity. In general, the largest reason I've avoided an 'iPhone' was the massive amount of users who seem to buy into the product for what it is, the name. That and the never-ending re-release of, essentially the same product, have done well to discourage any consideration I might have had. I've been with Android simply because that is what the other half prefers, and I've felt things are simplest when we use the same OS. More recently I've been admiring the recently released Windows Lumia, for it's colorful tile system and sleek profile, paired with speedy processor. So, when HTC, and #Troop8x, reached out to me with an opportunity to experience the latest in Windows smartphone technology I was intrigued. Not only does the HTC 8x feature 1GB of RAM and a 1080p HD camcorder, but it comes pre-loaded with creative features such as Beats Audio and a complete Photo Enhancer. 

I'll admit, my first impression of the HTC 8x was a little hesitant; the range comes in a variety of vibrant colors (California Blue pictured), and the 4.3" Gorilla Glass 2 Screen screams vibrance in beautiful HD color, with any lighting. It's bigger, in frame, than my previous smartphone (LG Optimus) for sure, but impressively slim. It's hard to imagine there's really a Dual-Core 1.5 Ghz Processor inside, with it's whisper quiet operation. To sum it up, this phone looks and feels like a trendy assistant, yet harnesses the power of the toughest workhorses; it's, in my opinion, the Ferrari of Windows phones, and a contender for the entire Smartphone category. Of course, I've only just received my beautiful Royal (California) Blue baby, so I'm still getting the hang of all the amazing pre-loaded features, and easy load apps. The entire home screen is operated by what Window's calls a 'tile' system that is entirely drag and drop ready for organization and even color theme. These little living tiles give the user visual breakdown of their social media world, and off-screen life. My home screen alone tells me my recent calls, Facebook status, Twitter updates, local weather, and friend's updates, with a single glance!
event planning apps
Because I am most unfamiliar with the apps available for Windows phones I wanted to sit down and check out the digital marketplace. I'll admit, one of the biggest cuts, currently, is in the app department, which reportedly dropped from over 900 to mid 600 US Market selections over the past few weeks. Some techies may cite this as a downfall; as someone who has spent hours on their iPad trying to browse one inoperable app after the next, through thousands of search results, I kind of like it. The HTC 8x is impressively powerful, and offers the Windows classics like Office Hub and People Hub essentials, pre-loaded. Many of the utilitarian needs are already active on the phone, so the majority of the apps in the store are highly specific in theme or purpose. The decrease in apps also indicates active grooming of inactive, glitchy, or poorly executed software. You'd be surprised just how specific the apps are; simply searching for 'Party Planning' brought up over 20 relevant apps to help invite, document, and plan gatherings.
Though the holidays are over, there are still plenty of get togethers and family outings to plan, especially here in Southern California, where the sun comes out daily in the Winter! We've been considering a small camping trip up the coast, and I wanted to find an APP to help me organize all of the prep and packing. Ultimate Checklist, free to try or $1.99 in the Windows App+Games Store offers over 250 pre-loaded checklists for everything from planning a Bachelorette party to Spring Cleaning. And, of course, you can personalize an unlimited number of checklists intended to be checked into over time. The app always saves note of the tasks you've completed, and gives a report of the progress yet to be made. You can even set alarms and reminders for impending deadlines, or send reminders to participants to bring supplies, or view directions. This app is perfect for OCD me, who likes to list everything right down to categories (toiletries, snacks, bedding, clothes). There's no limit to the number of sub-lists within an event or goal!
With all of the football related gathering coming up, and Super Bowl Party to be, I am always rushing to find quick and unique recipes for side dishes and finger foods. The free All APP is brought to life with intuitive navigation in vibrant color that truly makes each dish spring to life. With all of the information of the website, yet the condensed convenience of streamlined searches and on screen key guides, All Recipes offers thousands of user submitted recipes. I can pre-load my favorites and pull them up instantly in the grocery store for ingredients shopping, rate and read reviews on user recipes, and even narrow my search based on protein/ease/dish type. Perhaps the feature I'll be using most during these last minute Winter get-togethers is the 'Dinner Spinner', which, in fact, offers much more than dinner concepts. Simply input the main ingredients you have on hand, and the desired amount of time to prepare a dish, and Voila! The wheel outputs a variety of dishes built around your specified ingredients. I especially love this because I am constantly left staring at a fridge of random ingredients wondering how I'm going to pull off the 'oohs' and 'ahhs' with the 'same old' concepts. Now I can find inspiration at my fingertips, and even pin my favorite recipes to the Tiles, for a reminder when shopping.
A final must have for Event Organization is Tap Collage, $.99 Windows APP + Games Store, for invitation creation and general photo organization post event. The second our parties are over everyone always wants to share their pictures; what better way than with a drag and drop collage? As a blogger I am always looking for simple ways to share my recipes, events, and photoshoots with my readers. I love how simple this app is to use, and the versatility to alter the number of photos, and their angles, within the app. I can showcase a shopping trip, or simplify a recipe's instructions with a brief photo collage journal and post it directly to my social media network. It doesn't get any simpler, thanks to my new Windows HTC 8x phone! I can't wait to share with you all how this device makes connecting and communicating a breeze, while adding a little extra color to my life!

What Daughter Says: The HTC 8x exemplifies Quiet Brilliance with intuitive controls and life-minded apps.

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, HTC.
Disclaimer: I received an HTC 8x handset and service as part of the #Troop8x program. Regardless all opinions within are 100% mine, and mine alone.