Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sharalee's Version of Cranberry Bliss Bars

A wonderful friend, Debbie, introduced me to these scrumptious bars at Starbucks.  They were SO delectable that I decided to embark on an experiment to re-create them with a quick and easy recipe.  Here's what I came up with....and, if the empty platter at my last party is any indication, they were a complete hit! :-)  Try them and let me know what you think!

Cake Ingredients:
1 - Spice Cake Mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup vanilla chips
Frosting Ingredients:
1 - can Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting
2 - tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup vanilla chips
1 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cake mix, butter & eggs in a large bowl with a spoon.  Fold in cranberries & vanilla chips.  Spread evenly in the bottom of a greased*, 13x9 inch or 7 x 11 inch pan.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until center is done but not dry!  Do not over bake!!!

After cake has cooled, mix lemon juice into frosting and spread about 3/4 of the can of frosting on the top of the cake.  Sprinkle with cranberries.  Microwave vanilla chips and oil at 20 second intervals until melted.  Drizzle on top of cranberries.  Cut into bars.

*Note:  Save some time by lining your pan Reynolds Nonstick Pan Lining Paper.  It has parchment paper on one side and foil on the other.  Makes removal of the bars and cleanup a snap!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Caramel Dream Bars

About 2 years ago, I purchased a recipe book called "Cornerstone Cooks in Casper".  It's a compilation of tried and true recipes that my cousin's church put together and I have to say they have some GREAT cooks in their church!  The first recipe that my cousin said I HAD to try was for Caramel Dream Bars.  I decided to make them for a party the first time and they were a HUGE hit!  Since then, I've made them on numerous occasions and am always asked for the recipe.  

So, if you want a delectable, chewy, caramel, chocolate treat with a little bit of crunch, these bars are meant for you!

Caramel Dream Bars
64 caramels, unwrapped**
1/2 c. plus 2 T. heavy whipping cream
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 c. oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (Walnuts are my favorite in this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Microwave caramels and cream until melted, stirring after each minute.  Set aside to cool slightly.  In the mean time, mix the next 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Press half of the oat mixture onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan***.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the  chocolate chips and walnuts (or pecans) over the crust.  Then pour the caramel mixture over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture, pressing down slightly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown.  Cool completely and cut into bars.  

**To save time, I use the caramel bits instead of the individually wrapped caramels.  The bits come in 11 oz. bags and you'll need 2 1/2 bags.
***Save time cleaning up by lining your pan with parchment lined foil.  This will allow you to lift the bars right out of the pan without any sticky mess!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good News.....Bad News

Whenever someone tells me, "I have good news and I have bad news.  Which do you want first?", most often I say I want the bad news first so.....

The Bad News:  Designs by Sharalee will be closing up shop as of December 31, 2012. 

I've wrestled with this decision for months....thinking about closing a business that I've poured blood, sweat and tears into for the past 6 years made me sad.  However, when all of the factors (i.e., economy, competition, supply costs, etc.) seemed to point in that direction, I knew it was time.  While I don't know what is in store for me in the future, I do believe that "when God closes a door, He always opens a window". 

Now the GOOD News:  You will have several shopping opportunities before the end of the year, both in-home parties and online, to stock up on jewelry one last time.  Plus, I've saved some of the best stones and components for last and will be producing tons of new designs before the year's end.  And, as always, quality workmanship is guaranteed!  While all sales will be final (no refunds or exchanges), if something breaks or you need something re-sized, I will be more than happy to accommodate your needs.

There will be three final parties in Colorado:
  • Monday, November 5th ~ 6-8pm - Location:  Littleton (C-470 and Ken Caryl)
  • Tuesday, November 6th ~ 6-8pm - Location:  Arvada (58th and Kipling)
  • Wednesday, November 7th ~ 6-8:30pm - Location:  Arvada (60th and Ward Road)
*If you are interested in attending one of these parties, send an email to me at and I'll send you the address and phone number for the party hostess.
There will also be two final parties at my home studio here in Hemet, CA:
  • Thursday, November 29th ~ 2-6pm
  • Final Closeout Sale - TBD
*If you are interested in attending either of these parties, be sure you are on my email list and I'll include you when I send out the invitations.

Online Shopping Opportunities:
  • In the case that you are unable to shop at one of these parties, you can always shop on my website.  I will be uploading more designs after I return from Colorado and will do my best to continue doing so right up until the end of the year.

As I reflect back, it's been quite a journey.....from learning how to crimp beads and make wire wrapped loops to stamping metal, designing a website and managing a business.  I've participated in over 60 parties/shows and created over 2,500 pieces of jewelry.    However, the most wonderful part of the journey was meeting all of you!  I feel privileged to have been a part of your lives and am SO grateful for all of you that have supported and encouraged me all along the way.  I couldn't have done it without you! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Falling for Pumpkin, brisk days; football games; the color of the leaves as they change; pumpkin flavored desserts....these are a few of the things that I love about fall.  Here in southern California, the weather isn't exactly "fall-like" (110 degrees last week!).  However, while shopping in Target the other day, I noticed several new pumpkin flavored foods and beverages and that made it seem a little more like "fall".

So, I thought it'd be fun to share a couple of pumpkin flavored things, two new items and two long-standing favorites that I am loving this season.

1)  Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino -  This is a long-standing favorite for me.  I actually prefer this cold blended version versus the hot version.  The cold seems to bring out more of the pumpkin flavor and has a little sweeter taste than the hot one does.

2) Fresh & Easy's Pumpkin Pecan Pancake Mix - It makes the most delicious pancakes I've ever had!  Try it with a few butterscotch baking chips mixed in the batter and top with a drizzle of caramel sauce and whipped cream....YUM!  If you don't live near a Fresh & Easy, you might want to make friends with someone who does and have them ship some to you to try :-)

3) Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese - Saw this new, limited edition in Target and HAD to try it :-)  It's the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  I've tried it spread on wheat bread and also dipped honey graham sticks in it....delicious!

4) Panera's Pumpkin Pie Bagel - Tried this yesterday with the recommended New York Style Cheesecake Cream was SO good!  The bagel is described as "pumpkin and spice with a crumb topping and cinnamon sugar mixture, sprinkled with powdered sugar", which by itself would be scrumptious.  But if you add the cheesecake cream cheese, which tastes like cream cheese frosting, it's practically dessert!

So celebrate the new season by adding a little "pumpkin" to your day.  Happy FALL everyone!

Friday, August 10, 2012

White Chocolate Peanut a Jar!

I was shopping the peanut butter aisle at Target a few weeks ago and my eyes were drawn to this jar that read "White Chocolate Wonderful".  After reading the list of all natural ingredients and ensuring that it wasn't a gazillion calories, I added that jar to my cart and couldn't wait to get home to try it.  I dipped my favorite all natural graham crackers (review coming on those soon too!) in the white chocolate peanut butter and it was truly scrumptious!  Not too sweet, just a hint of the white chocolate and super creamy texture.  I also tried it on toast and then started thinking of ways to incorporate it in place of regular peanut butter in several recipes to make cookies and fudge....YUM!!  It comes in 10 different flavors including "Cinnamon Raisin", "The Bee's Knees", "Mighty Maple" & "The Heat is On" (which has fiery spices mixed in with peanut butter).  As you can see from the picture....
...I returned to the store and purchased the "Dark Chocolate Dreams" too.  It's pretty good but I didn't dream about it :-)  The "White Chocolate Wonderful" on the other hand had me at "hello" :-)  If you want to find out more about the company, the varieties available or to purchase on-line, check out their website at:  www.ilovepeanutbutter.com

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ridiculous Deals on Supplements

Recently I found out about a wonderful company that provides amazing discounts on vitamins and supplements as well as all kinds of natural skin care products (Burt's Bees, Desert Essence, etc).  The company is Vitacost and they carry almost every major brand you'll find at your local Sprouts or health food store but at the most ridiculously low prices!  They have fast and free shipping for orders over $49 and, if you click on the link below, you'll receive $10 off your first order!  

Happy shopping!

Vitacost - $10 off coupon

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Designs!

Click below to view some of my latest off the design table :-)

In case you are unable to view the slide show above, here are the the pictures of what's new....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tired of Tarnish?

Most people do not enjoy the task of polishing their jewelry.....myself included!  So, I thought I'd share a couple of tips I've learned along the way, including some great new products that I've added to my store that will help prevent tarnish in the first place.

One of the most important things to consider is how you store your jewelry.  Most people love to have their jewelry out on display, hanging on a super cute jewelry "tree" on their dresser.  This is fine for your jewelry that has antiqued metal or for something that is mostly made up of beads, pearls or some other type of gemstone.  However, this will wreak havoc on your bright metal pieces, especially sterling silver.  Things like hairspray, perfume, humidity all contribute to the tarnishing of silver.....definitely eliminating the ledge in the bathroom as a viable jewelry storage space as well :-)  So what are you to do?

First, remove any tarnish that's built up on your pieces.  Then I recommend putting your silver, gold (it doesn't tarnish like silver but it can darken and become dull) and copper jewelry in a sealed bag or an enclosed jewelry box, along with an anti-tarnish strip like this...

These strips will protect gold, silver, copper and brass jewelry from tarnish and dulling for 6 months (or up to 2 years if in a sealed environment).  You can insert one strip in each drawer of your jewelry box or cut them into 1" squares and insert them along with your jewelry in small zip-close, plastic bags.  These strips are completely safe and non-toxic.  They don't emit anything but rather absorb the sulfurs and moisture in the air that cause tarnish.

Another option are these copper-colored anti-tarnish plastic bags...

They provide kind of an "all-in-one" solution as the bag zips closed to seal out the air and it's treated with a tarnish and corrosion inhibitor.  It's completely safe for all metals, even when in direct contact, and is non-toxic, environmentally-friendly, and fully recyclable—containing no charcoals, oils or volatile chemicals.  The cool thing about these bags is that they include a color indicator....when the copper color on the bag turns black it is time for a new bag.  I've been using these to store my sterling silver chains for my store for over a year now and haven't had to change to a new bag yet!  

Both of these products I use on a regular basis and I've noticed a HUGE decrease in the need to polish my jewelry.  But in the event a piece does start to tarnish, I take out my friendly Sunshine Polishing cloth....
...and gently buff the piece to remove the tarnish.  These cloths are pretreated with non-abrasive cleaning agents.  You can use these cloths until they are completely black on both sides and then discard. 

So, if you are tired of tarnish, hop over to my store and pick up some of these great products!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bare Escentuals' Liners Contain Hidden Tools

I made an exciting discovery this morning and had to share it with you all.  Bare Escentuals (yes, this is the proper spelling :-) retractable eyeliners and lipliners have helpful "tools" hidden in the ends of the pencils.  Both contain a small sharpener, which you might think is silly since they are retractable.  However, one complaint people have had with retractable liners is the inability to maintain a sharp point for precise application.  Bare Escentuals solved that problem by smartly including this little sharpener.  They also hid a sponge-tip smudger in the eyeliner as well so you can easily blend out your eyeliner for a softer look.  Brilliant!

Here's a look at how they work:

 We start with the typical looking liners.....

The top of the eyeliner has a band of color representing the color of the eyeliner.  This is the removable part of the pencil.  Grasp the color band and gently wiggle free from longer part of the pencil.

You now have the sharpener ready to use.

 Pull off the cap on the other side of the sharpener to reveal the sponge-tip smudger...

Replace the sharpener back into the liner casing to smudge your liner.

 Similarly, for the lipliner, gently wiggle free the colored "cap" at the end of the pencil to reveal the sharpener...

 Sharpen the liner to your desired point and replace the sharpener back in the end of the pencil.

After making these discoveries, I decided to check my "Buxom" products as well since Bare Escentuals also manufactures this brand.  I pulled out my "Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Stick" and my "Buxom Insider Eyeliner" and discovered....
....they have sharpeners too! 

So "cheers" to Bare Escentuals for making great formulas and brilliant packaging!

Friday, July 20, 2012

New "grownup" snacking crackers....

As a self-proclaimed "Snack Queen", I'm always on the lookout for new foods to munch on.  This past week, I was browsing the cracker aisle and happened upon several new flavors of Wheat Thins.  Since I already enjoy the original flavor of wheat thins, I was immediately intrigued when I saw all these new flavors...Zesty Salsa, Tomato Basil, Ranch, BBQ, Spicy Buffalo.....after reading the ingredients to make sure there was no MSG, I hurried home with my Zesty Salsa and Spicy Buffalo crackers. 

I have to say I'm very impressed!  Zesty Salsa has more of a "green salsa" flavor with just a little spice.  My favorite of the two, Spicy Buffalo, reminds me of buffalo chicken wings (minus the chicken :-) with that tinge of tang and then the spicy kick at the end.  Delicious!  They have a little more spice than the Zesty Salsa but are still in the "medium" range of spiciness.  So far, I've enjoyed them just plain, right out of the box.  But I think they'd be great with ranch dip or flavored cream cheese.

So, if you're on the hunt for a "grownup" snacking cracker, try one of these new flavors from Wheat Thins.  I think Tomato Basil is next on my list to try....let me know if you've tried them, which is your favorite!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Urban Decay Smoked Palette - Review

If you haven't guessed by now, I love makeup :-)  Most people view putting on makeup as a chore but I enjoy the process of combining various colors and experimenting with new products.  So when I found out that Urban Decay was releasing a brand new eye shadow palette last week, I couldn't wait to try it out!
For those of you new to the makeup world, Urban Decay is most famous for the "Naked" palette, released a couple of years ago. They followed that palette with the "Naked 2" palette which wasn't received with quite the accolades of the first palette but is still one of my favorites.

Now they have introduced Smoked, which has 10 beautiful shadows to create the perfect smoky eye.  And, all of the colors are different than the ones in either of the "Naked" palettes, with the exception of "Blackout" (which is also in the Naked 2 palette, but this time in it's new formulation...more on that later).  The new "Smoked" palette includes the brown, black and gray shadows that you'd expect for the typical smoky eye, along with a deep purple, vibrant blue and dark green.  The travel-friendly zippered case has a large mirror and a vinyl cover that you can easily wipe clean.
Included with the shadows, is a full-size eyeliner in their blackest-black color called "Perversion" (who comes up with these names?)...
 ...a travel-size eye shadow primer...

...and a booklet with detailed instructions of how to create 12 different looks with the palette.  This is a first for Urban Decay and I think it's great for those new to creating "smoky" looks.

Also, what's different than the other palettes is that this is the first one produced since they reformulated their eye shadows.  Their shadows were great before so I wondered how they could make them any better.  The color pigmentation is still superb as well as their blend-ability and staying power throughout the day (primer helps too :-).  But in the few days that I've been using this new palette, the biggest difference that I've noticed is that there is less shadow displacement when you put your brush into the shadow (hooray for less mess and waste!) and there is a LOT less fallout (technical term for those little flakes of shadow that fall below your eye when applying shadow).

Here are closeups and swatches of the colors.....
Kinky - Matte ivory (perfect brow highlight color)
Freestyle - Matte peach (great for blending on light to medium skin tones)
Mushroom -  Frosty gray with a hint of warm, taupe undertones
 Backdoor - Matte deep, dark espresso brown
 Blackout - Matte jet black

Here are the swatches of the first 5 colors on my arm with a little primer underneath.....

 Barlust - Frosty warm brown with just a hint of mauve or purple (LOVE this color!)
 Rockstar - Frosty warm purple
 Evidence - Frosty blue with hints of black (probably my least favorite shade but looks amazing over smudged black eyeliner!)
 Loaded - Frosty emerald green (gorgeous!)
 Asphalt - Frosty charcoal

Here are the swatches of the last 5 colors on my arm with a little primer underneath.....

Final thoughts.....I do love that there are both matte and frosty shades in this palette (thankfully none with glitter!).  The only thing I would change about the palette is adding 2 more colors.....a slightly darker matte shade like "Buck" for blending and a light-medium frosty shade.  However, if you use this palette alongside your Naked palette, you will have all the colors you need to make every kind of eye look imaginable!

If you are interested in purchasing this palette, it's $49 and is currently only available on Urban Decay's website.  Eventually, it will probably be sold by Sephora and Ulta too but it's not available through them just yet.

Hopefully this review was helpful but if you have any questions I didn't address, feel free to put them in the comments below!

**Important Note:  I am not a paid spokesperson for Urban Decay and I purchased this palette with my own, hard-earned cash :-)  These are my own, unbiased opinions and the purpose of this review is simply to provide detailed product information so that those interested in this product can make an informed purchasing decision.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Jewelry Designs...

Here are some brand new designs just added to my shop today....
 Aren't daisies just the friendliest flower? :-)

 Bright copper...the look of rose gold at a fraction of the cost!

 Check out these and more amazing designs in my shop!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Whoa! Those are some bright lips!

We've all been there......standing in a store, staring at all these beautiful, bright shades of lipstick.  You're wishing you could wear those colors....wondering if you could be brave enough to do becomes almost a dare to yourself to try it....suddenly you are through the check out and rushing home to try on your new bold lipstick purchase.  It looks great on and you can't wait to wear it to work the next day.  You awake, feeling invincible, don your bold lipcolor and spend the day receiving compliments on your lips.  However, the following day, you aren't feeling as confident....a few days/weeks later, that lipstick is in the back of your drawer or bottom of your makeup bag and you chide yourself for wasting money on that lipstick!

Well, not too long ago, I was reorganizing my lip products and pulled out those seldom used shades.  Some were ones I'd purchased, others were ones that came as "free gifts with purchase".

Two of my favorites are NYX "Sunflower" lipstick and Tarte's "Lively" Lipsurgence Liptint.....

I was determined to make them more wearable on any given day.  As I experimented, I discovered the following solution....

Apply a thin layer of the bold color; blot your lips and add one of the following:
*Add a gold-tone, shimmery gloss or lipstick to tone down fuchsia pink or any blue-tone red.
*Add a frosty, gray-tone taupe or mauve to tone down tangerine orange, bright corals or orangey reds.
By doing this, it obviously lightens the color but also brings the extreme color back to the middle of the color spectrum, back to the more "wearable zone".

Now for me, I've found that whether you choose a lipstick or a gloss, the effect is pretty much the same, just a little less shine with the lipstick.  Depending on how much I want to tone down the color, sometimes I'll use the lipstick and gloss over the bold color.

As for picking the "neutralizing colors", you don't have to spend a lot of money....afterall, the goal is to help you NOT feel you've wasted money on that bold lipcolor!

My favorites are two lipsticks from NYX:
*"Celene" - gold frost
*"Galaxy" - gray/taupe frost

These retail for $3.99 each and you can get them at Ulta stores or online at or Right now, Ulta has NYX products on sale - buy 1, get one 50% off so you could get both for $6!

For lipglosses, I love the NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in "Beige Pearl", which is a golden tan frost.  It retails for $5.49 and also looks beautiful worn on its own!  

The other gloss in the taupe family is "Iced Mauve" from Bobbi Brown.  I picked this up at the cosmetic outlets but I'm sure you can find one cheaper from NYX (perhaps "Sugar Pie"??) or another drugstore brand (like Revlon Super Lustrous Lip gloss in "Foiled"??).  This Bobbi Brown gloss was one I already owned so now it's doing double duty for me :-)  Just be sure when picking out a neutralizing gloss that there is plenty of color pigmentation and not just a clear gloss with a few gold flecks, as that will not do much for toning down the bright color.  Some of you may already have similar colors in your collection.  But if not, keep in mind these gold and taupe shimmery colors will also look great over lighter colors as well so you'll get your money's worth! 

Here's an example of how this technique transformed my "Sunflower" lipstick:

I hope this was helpful for you and that you'll give this a try!  

Next Monday, I'll be reviewing the brand new Urban Decay Smoked Palette! :-)