DIY Envelope Advent Calendar

DIY Envelope Advent Calendar | Revamperate DIY Envelope Advent Calendar | RevamperateAs a kid, I always looked forward to December, knowing that my mom always had an advent calendar with a chocolate or other treat for every day of the month. Having an advent calendar (and having the Christmas tree up the whole month) made it feel like Christmas lasted so much longer. This truly is my favorite time of year, and now that it’s finally December 1st, I feel like it’s finally appropriate to share almost an entire month of Christmas DIYs and recipes. Get ready for it!

Advent calendars aren’t just for kids anymore – I made this one to hang on our wall with a piece of candy for Andrew or I to enjoy every day (because adults love candy too). This is a pretty easy advent calendar DIY, and it will be easily collapsable and reusable in coming years.

You need:

  • 8 very thin, 12-inch wooden dowels
  • Thick string
  • 24 small envelopes
  • Large number stamps
  • 2 different colored stamp pads
  • 24 clothes pins
  • Candy (or other type of small treat)

DIY Envelope Advent Calendar | Revamperate DIY Envelope Advent Calendar | Revamperate DIY Envelope Advent Calendar | RevamperateFirst, tie the string in a knot around the end of one wooden dowel. Then wrap the string around it several more times, tie it again and let out about 3-4 inches of strong before repeating the process with another dowel. You want to leave enough room for an envelope to hang between each layer and tie the string about a half inch from the end of the dowel. Repeat as you go down the layers, tying 8 dowels together with room in between. Then it gets a little tougher…

Use the same steps to tie together the opposite ends of the dowels. Measure as you go, and hold up the top dowel to make sure you leave even spacing in between the dowels. After all, you don’t want your calendar to hang crookedly. When you reach the end, cut a one foot long piece of string, and securely tie each end to the top dowel. This will be what your calendar hangs from, so make sure you’ve tied it extra tight.

Use your stamps to stamp large numbers on the front of the envelope bags in alternating colors – I chose red and white against my brown envelopes. You can also use small bags instead of envelops – mine were more envelope-like. I found all of my items at Michaels (you can see similar stamps here or small bags here).DIY Envelope Advent Calendar | Revamperate DIY Envelope Advent Calendar | RevamperateUse the clothespins to hang the envelopes so that about three will fit on each dowel. Most likely, you will have to clamp the bag directly on the dowel to ensure it will hold once it has some weight in it. Put a piece of candy or other type of treat in each bag and hang it on a wall or door. It adds to your Christmas decor and offers a fun way to countdown to Christmas!

I’m so excited to share more Christmas DIYs in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Homemade Twix Bars

Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | RevamperateRecently, I made these homemade butterfingers bars, and they were so popular that I thought it would be fun to make more candy. These Twix candy bars can be as easy or as difficult as you want them to be, depending on whether or not you make everything from scratch, and they make a nice last minute gift for someone! Plus, you know, they taste pretty good. Parts of this recipe you can make from scratch or purchase as a time-saver, such as the shortbread and caramel.

First, you’ll need to make shortbread with these ingredients (or you can buy shortbread cookies):

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You’ll also need:

  • 1 bag of caramel candies (I used Kraft brand)
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Start out by making the shortbread by creaming together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Once it’s completed mixed, slowly mix in the flour. It may begin to get really thick and hard to turn. If so, pull it onto a piece of wax paper and kneed with your hands until it’s soft and combined. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough onto the wax paper until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut the dough into rectangles. You should be able to get 20-24 3×1 inch pieces out of the dough. Leave the pieces on a cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Bake on 325 degrees for about 25 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Remove immediately and cool on a cooling rack.

Turning to the caramel middle of the candy – melt the caramel candy on low heat with 1 tablespoon of water, stirring constantly with a spatula so it doesn’t burn. When all of the pieces are melted remove the pan from heat, and use the spatula to spread caramel onto the shortbread while it’s hot. The caramel will harden on top if the cookies shortbread pretty quickly.

In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on defrost mode for 30 seconds, removing it to stir and continuing to microwave and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. If it’s too thick, add a small amount of vegetable oil.Homemade Twix Bars | Revamperate Homemade Twix Bars | RevamperateUse a fork to carefully dip the caramel-covered cookies and chocolate and let them dry on a sheet of wax paper. Then they’re ready to eat! Store the Twix bars in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge for several days. Note, the caramel hardens in the fridge, so let them sit out for a few minutes before eating so the caramel has time to soften slightly. Enjoy!

You can also see this shortbread recipe in my sweet and salty pretzel shortbread bars.

I’ll be going off the grid for the rest of the week to celebrate Thanksgiving in Northern California with Andrew’s family. When I come back, you can expect to see lots of lots of Christmas ideas. I’m honestly so excited!

This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve been able to enjoy in at least five years because I always worked in retail during the holidays, and before that, my sister worked in retail, so my family got used to not really celebrating Thanksgiving. We’ve always been more into celebrating Christmas, so it’s really wonderful to be able to spend this week around family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Salted Pretzel Almond Bark

Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateFor the days your sweet tooth needs some satisfaction but your mind keeps talking you out of it, you can still find a way to compromise. With this incredibly easy salted pretzel almond chocolate bark, you not only get a nice combination of sweet and salty but can snack without feeling super guilty. This sweet and salty bark makes a nice gift or just a good midnight snack.Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateTo make a small batch (about 10 pieces), you’ll need:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 handful of small pretzels
  • 1 handful of sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional)

First, lay out a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate chips on defrost mode for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until the chocolate is completely melted. Pour the chocolate onto the wax paper and use the back of a spoon to spread it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick, if not a little bit thicker.

Take a handful of pretzels and use your hands to crunch them into smaller pieces. Spread over the chocolate and gently press the pieces down. Do the same with the almond slices, pushing down slightly to press them into the chocolate. Place the salt in your hands and evenly sprinkle it around the chocolate. It adds a little extra salt if you want it. Otherwise, the pretzels also give it a saltiness.Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | Revamperate Pretzel Almond Bark | RevamperateLet the chocolate sit for a while, or put the sheet in the fridge to speed up the hardening of the chocolate. When it’s hard enough, use your hands to break it into pieces.

That’s all there is to it. Pretty easy, right? Package it up for a cute holiday gift or snack on it yourself. Enjoy!

Autumn Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

DSC_1017 DSC_0991Autumn in Southern California isn’t really autumn at all, but the weather gets a little cooler and the leaves begin to fall. Unfortunately, they don’t change colors, but it still feels like autumn to us locals. Most of all, I feel the seasons change when I can finally bake without feeling guilty for heating up the house. With that, here are some autumn-themed sugar cookies to brighten up your day!

To make 18-24 cookies, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 egg

I use this royal icing recipe from Wilton because it’s proven the best for me. You’ll need meringue powder for the recipe. You can also make royal icing with egg whites or other ingredients, but I’ve found that meringue powder makes the icing easiest to work with and hardens quickly. This recipe is for piping the edges – you’ll want to add water for flooding. DSC_0937First, beat together the softened butter and sugar until creamy. Add in the vanilla and egg and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder, and slowly add to the wet mixture. It will become very thick and difficult to mix. If that happens, pull the dough onto a piece of wax paper and continue to massage with your hands until the flour is completely mixed.

Spread a little bit of flour onto a rolling pin, and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick if not thicker. Personally, I like my cookies soft, so I try to keep them thicker. Use cookie cutters (like these autumn cookie cutters that I used) to cut shapes out of the dough and move to a foil covered cookie sheet. Continue until all of the dough is cut. Bake on 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, checking them often so they don’t overcook. Remove when they begin the brown on the edges and cool on a cooling rack.DSC_0961 DSC_0935In the meantime, mix your royal frosting. Separate into multiple bowls and mix in your desired food coloring with a spoon. Individually scoop a little of each color into its own piping bag and pipe around the edges of your design. Once done, add a little water, one teaspoon at a time, to the royal icing until it drips easily off of a spoon. Carefully use the spoon (or a squeeze bottle) to flood the area within your piping boundaries. It’s easiest to do this a little at a time because flooding too much icing too quickly can overflow your borders. Set the cookies on the cooling rack to harden before storing in an airtight container. They’ll keep for a few days and still taste like freshly baked sugar cookies!

If you don’t feel like fussing with icing, they also taste great on their own – soft and sweet. I’m looking forward to making lots of themed cookies over the next few months. Enjoy!

 

Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake to Celebrate 100 Posts

Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | Revamperate Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | Revamperate Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | RevamperateI’m happy to be celebrating a big milestone today! This marks my 100th post on Revamperate, so it’s only appropriate that I celebrate with a cake. A very special one.

In a way, Revamperate is my baby, so I’m very proud to have made it so far with this blog. This milestone comes at a very good time for me because I’m currently stuck working from home due to a pretty bad fall that has left me with consistent lower back pain. My clumsiness really got the best of me this time, and it’s tough to not be able to do what I love – bake and craft (and move in general).

While I maintain a full-time job as a marketing coordinator, I treat Revamperate like my second job. When I come home at night, I spend hours working on projects or planning what to do next. My weekends are occupied with work for the blog, but I love every minute of it. So, here’s to 100 more posts! Thank you all so much for reading, and I hope to continue to share my projects with you.

Without further ado, here’s the cake, as promised. I’m not going to lie to you; this sprinkle cake is WORK. As you probably could have guessed, sprinkles are kind of tough to work with. I used special cake pans to make a thinner but slightly taller cake, which means I only needed one box of cake mix. For a larger cake, you will definitely need more mix.Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | RevamperateTo make the ombre part of the cake, all you’ll need is a box of vanilla cake mix (or more) and its mixing ingredients, gel food coloring, rainbow nonpareils sprinkles, and these Wilton cake pans,* which will allow you to easily make five small layers.

First, mix the cake and separate the batter in five small bowls. Drop in a very small amount of gel coloring into one bowl. When I say small, I mean a freckle of color. It goes a long way! Continue to add a little more color for each bowl, mixing well with a spoon. You should be able to see a clear difference in color between each bowl, but you should also note that the color will change slightly after it’s been baked.

If you do use the smaller pans, bake for about 20-24 minutes, checking often and removing when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool on a cooling rack and begin making the frosting.

You can see my recipe for vanilla buttercream here. I wanted to add a little frosting so there was more for the sprinkles to stick to, so I added another half of this recipe to create the appropriate amount.

If needed, cut the tops off of the cakes and layer them with frosting in between, starting with the darkest layer on the bottom (or vie versa if you prefer). Leave a crumb layer on the cake and chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Set aside about 1/2 cup of frosting to use as decoration on the top of the cake, and use the rest to frost the rest of the cake. Let sit in the fridge for just a few minutes. Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | Revamperate Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | RevamperateNow, there are a couple different ways you can sprinkle a cake. One way is to pour the sprinkles into a deep baking sheet, only frost the sides of the cake, place cardboard circles on the top and bottom of the cake, and carefully roll the chilled cake in the sprinkles until it is entirely covered. Then you frost the top and continue covering with sprinkles.

I’m clumsy, as you know, so I didn’t want to do it that way. Instead, I put the cake inside of a deep pan and used my hands to press handfuls of sprinkles onto the sides of the cake. Is this the harder way? Probably. But it defeats the risk of ruining the sides of the cake with the rolling technique. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what works best for you. This way just happened to work best for me, but it does take some time. One way to make it a little easier is to make the palm of your hands sticky with a little frosting so that the sprinkles stick to hands before transferring to the cake. It sounds weird, but it totally works. Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | Revamperate Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | Revamperate Purple Ombre Layered Sprinkle Cake | RevamperateOnce done with the sprinkles, add color to the frosting you set aside and move it to a piping bag or tool. Pipe small tufts of frosting around the rim of the top of the cake, and your cake is ready to be cut!

It can be quite a bit of work, but sprinkle cakes are really fun for parties and birthdays, and the ombre cake makes for a fun surprise when cut. Go ahead, cut it. It’s pretty awesome! Now, excuse me while I do my little happy dance for making it this far in my blogging journey. Thanks again for reading. Enjoy!

*This post contains affiliate links

Almond Butter Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Almond Butter Cupcakes | Revamperate Almond Butter Cupcakes | RevamperateI had the worst week last week, and I’m happy to finally be getting back to normal. I started off the week with a really horrible sinus infection and ended it with an ambulance ride to the ER because I fell down the stairs at work. It’s been rough, but I’m back to baking and crafting and glad to finally be feeling better.

These almond butter cupcakes remind me a little of fall (I always feel that way about nutty things) and with a dash of cinnamon, they’re even better. Overall, I’d say this recipe is a fairly easy to make and pairs well with light and creamy vanilla buttercream frosting, but I bet they’d also be fantastic with chocolate or even almond butter frosting (yeah, you’ll see that soon too).Almond Butter Cupcakes | RevamperateNow, to get down to it, this recipe will make you 24 cupcakes and can be easily halved. You need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the vanilla buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sliced almonds (for garnish, optional)

Cream together the butter, sugar and almond butter. Then add in the vanilla and eggs, beating well after each egg. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and add 1/3 of it to the wet mixture. Mix well and alternate between adding milk and dry ingredients until the batter is completely mixed. The batter will be kind of thick, but you can add a little more milk if you need to thin it out a little.

Separate the batter into cupcake liners and baking for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center cleanly. In the meantime, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla to mix the frosting. Add more or less sugar to taste.DSC_1149 Almond Butter Cupcakes | RevamperateOnce the cupcakes have cooled, top them with buttercream and some sliced almonds. Just remember the almonds – it’ll make you feel less guilty about eating a cupcake! If you like almonds or almond butter or even peanut butter, you’ll probably really enjoy these cupcakes. They’ll keep a few days, but they’re better kept on the counter unfrosted in order to stay moist. Enjoy!

Pretzel Shortbread Bars

Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate It’s been a rough week for me, but that doesn’t completely stop me from baking (even if it probably should). I have a pretty bad sinus infection keeping me down, so I’ve been watching a lot of Friends and scrolling through a lot of Pins in between planning out recipes and trying to cuddle with my cat. Oliver pretty excited to have someone to play with during the week, so he’s more interested in playing than sleeping. Now, onto the shortbread!

If you’re a regular reader, you probably know I bake a lot of sweets. There’s usually lots of sugar and chocolate involved. Sometimes it’s nice to change it up a little bit by adding some salt into the mix. The right combination of sweet and salty can be just what you need sometimes, and these incredibly easy pretzel shortbread bars are the perfect compromise.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to make shortbread? I don’t know why I always thought it was so intimidating. It’s literally three key ingredients. Not even any eggs. So easy.

Here’s what you need to make about 20 bars:

  • 30-40 pretzels
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

First, beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar until creamy. Slowly add in the flour and continue to beat until well combined. It’ll be pretty tough at this point.

Grind up about 15 pretzels in a food processor until very fine, and beat into the dough. If it’s too thick mix in with a large spoon or your hands.

Move the dough to a sheet of wax paper and kneed with your hands. Remember, your hands can do things your mixer just can’t! Place a piece of wax paper inside of a 13X9 inch (or similar) pan and push the dough into the pan, moving it into the corners and flattening the top. It should be about 1/2 inch thick.Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate Pretzel Shortbread Bars | Revamperate Grind up additional pretzels in the food processor just enough to break them into small pieces and lightly press them into the top of the dough. Bake on 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes until the edges are slightly brown and the middle is a little tough. Cool on a rack for about 30 minutes, remove from the pan by lifting the wax paper, and cut the shortbread into pieces with a sharp knife.

These are the perfect quick snack for sweet and salty lovers! Beware; they are quite crumbly, so be prepared to clean up some crumbs. It’s so worth it, I promise. Enjoy!