Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thin Mint Cupcakes for St. Patty's Day and Another Giveaway!

I've noticed that the older I get and more responsibilities I take on, the easier it becomes to lose touch with old friends. On the other hand, the older I get, the more I realize how much they truly mean to me. Consequently I've recently stepped up my efforts to see or at least chat with more of my friends on a regular basis.

A few weeks ago I caught up with my college roommate M and found out she'd landed an awesome new job in California and would be moving right away. Immediately I was filled with joy for her success along with a twinge of regret for not having seen her more while she was nearby. You see M is the type of friend that opens her life to you and makes you feel comfortable as soon as you see her, whether you last talked a day or a year ago. She's supportive, not a bit judgmental, sweet, and really fun to be around.

What's done was done, but I was presented with the perfect opportunity to support and celebrate her next big step with an invitation to her going-away party. After some persistent research, it came out that she loves mint while her boyfriend M loves chocolate. And here I had just bookmarked a Thin Mint-inspired cupcake recipe days ago...was this meant-to-be or what?

Thin Mint Cupcakes

These cupcakes were tender but rich, full of both the chocolate and mint flavors M and M favored. In fact I found these cakes even tastier than the Girl Scout cookies that inspired them! I say this humbly as this recipe is only slightly adapted from Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle, who also created the s'mores cupcakes I made previously (see popular posts in the sidebar). Upon seeing the green of the mint buttercream, I thought these would be great for St. Patrick's Day (coming up on March 17) and couldn't help topping a few with lucky shamrocks =D.

As promised I'm back with yet another giveaway -- this time in conjunction with CSN Stores, which sell everything from cake pans to modern furniture. One lucky reader (US or Canadian residents only) will win a $40 gift certificate that can be used toward ANY product from ANY one of CSN's many sites (shipping not included).
To enter, simply do as many of the following as you want and leave a separate comment for each thing you do! The giveaway will close on March 31 at midnight, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!
  • Check out the CSN Stores websites and leave a comment telling me what you'd spend this gift certificate on.
  • Subscribe to this blog, then leave a comment telling me you did or already do.
  • Blog about any food/drink by March 31, and include in your post: a photo of food, a photo of your photography set-up, what effect you were hoping to achieve, what you felt you successfully achieved, and what you still hope to improve upon. Then leave a comment with a link to your blog post.
  • Link to this giveaway on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me.
  • Tweet about this giveaway, then leave a comment telling me.
  • Blog about this giveaway, then leave a comment telling me.
Chocolate Thin Mint Cupcakes [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Trophy Cupcakes via For the Love of Design
Makes 12 to 13 cupcakes

XIAOLU'S NOTES: Only make the ganache after you've frosted the cupcakes since the ganache will need to be used immediately. Cupcakes may be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. This recipe could definitely be doubled successfully, since I scaled it down from a recipe from 2 dozen cupcakes.

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
6 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup milk [NOT skim]
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Mint Buttercream (Recipe Below)
Mint Chocolate Ganache (Recipe Below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease tops of a cupcake pan and then line it with baking liners.

In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared cupcake liners, filling no more than 3/4 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, then remove from pans to wire racks to finish cooling.

Once cakes are completely cool, place all but 1/4 to 1/3 cup of buttercream in pastry bag fitted with any long and skinny tip that's good for filling. Insert tip into the center of the cupcake and almost to the bottom. Fill each cupcake with 1 to 2 tablespoons of buttercream. Be careful not to overfill, as the top of the cupcake may come off. Alternately, you may cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake and fill with buttercream (an apple corer works well too). Try to make the top of the buttercream level with the cupcake so that there is a smooth top. Cover and chill the reserved buttercream for piping on as decoration at the end. [Make the ganache at this point.]

Dip each cupcake upside-down into the ganache up to the liner, lift cake out of chocolate, and let excess ganache drip off. Next, turn cupcake right-side up and place on wire rack to let ganache set (about 1 hour). (If ganache begins to harden before all of the cupcakes are dipped you may heat for 5-second intervals in a microwave until chocolate is smooth again).

Once ganache is completely set, take the leftover buttercream out of the fridge. Stir to smooth it out. If too stiff to pipe, let sit at room temperature until it softens a little. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a small plastic zipper-lock bag. If using a zipper-lock bag, snip off a small corner of the bag. To make a shamrock design like this on top of each cupcake, start by piping 4 clover leaves by squeezing straight down to form 4 circular blobs. Then pipe a stem from between 2 leaves. You could also pipe a flower or any other desired pattern or message on top. Enjoy!

Mint Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp mint extract
Pinch of salt
Drop of green food coloring (optional)

Cream butter using an electric mixer. When butter is soft and fluffy, start adding sifted powdered sugar a little at a time. When all of the sugar is incorporated, add salt, and mint extract. Add food coloring, if using. Beat until creamy.

Mint Chocolate Ganache
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chips or finely chopped bar)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp mint extract

Make ganache after you fill the cupcakes with buttercream. Place chocolate in a medium to large bowl. Bring heavy cream, butter, and mint extract just to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate and let sit for about 5 minutes. Begin stirring mixture and continue stirring until the mixture is uniform and smooth (may take about 5 minutes of stirring). Use immediately.

96 comments:

  1. Great themed cupcakes! So pretty.

    Happy St. Paddy's Day!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Those are some lovely cupcakes. So perfect for St. Patrick's Day! From the CSN store...I definitely need some new spring-form cake pans so I can make my family's favorite Japanese Cheesecakes. The non-stick coating on my old one started to come off. The Gift Certificate would comes in handy! :) Thanks for the giveaway.

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

    Amy
    http://utry.it

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  3. Just tweeted about the giveaway and here's the link...

    http://twitter.com/uTry_it

    amy [at] utry [dot] it
    Amy
    http://utry.it

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  4. Already subscribed to your site thru RSS. :)

    amy [at] utry [dot] it
    Amy
    http://utry.it

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  5. These are the most elegant St Patrick's cupcakes I've seen! :D

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  6. I would have forgotten about St. Pats day... Although, I never celebrated when I lived in the US..it was an excuse to go out to a bar, meet up with friends....Not sure if you saw my question on your previous post.. but was wondering what tip you used to pipe your buttercream?

    Thanks so much!

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  7. Love those pretty cupcakes. I never celebrate St.Patrick's Day here but I can always make this choc mint cupcakes anytime, right?

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  8. Looks delicious. I see the logic in making these mini because of richness but I think it will be difficult to stop at one:)

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  9. These look awesome! Thin mints are my bf's FAV. I posted about it today. I can't wait to try these- thanks!

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  10. You made them look so beautiful! My daughter loves the choc/mint combo...I'll have to try these!

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  11. oh it's this time of the year again! :) Love the cupcakes! so pretty.

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  12. Not a great fan of mint in sweet dishes but this looks and sounds delicious!

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  13. Your cupcakes look lovely. And thanks for the giveaway chance! I need a new toaster, so that's what I'd put the CNS giftcertificate towards.

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  14. With my gift certificate I'd buy a really nice salad bowl. I need a pretty one :) Great looking cupcakes!

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  15. If I won, we'd put the money toward a nice new garbage can for the kitchen. Something to lock odors in, and keep kitties out!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

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  16. What perfect cupcakes! Sooo pretty and the perfect 'good luck' treat for your friend! I have no idea what CSN stores are! Just a hick here in New Hampshire, but if they carry silpats, I'd been on them. I use far too much parchment paper ... time to simplify and be a bit 'greener' ... kinda like your shamrocks! ;-)

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  17. I'd get the Chilewich Table Runner.
    aubreyfick@yahoo.com

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  18. I would buy a 12 inch jumbo fryer...like this one: http://www.csnstores.com/Calphalon-SA1612HP-CPH1632.html

    Yep, that would be great!!

    fawnzy_grey@yahoo.com

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  19. Yum! Cupcakes.

    I'd use it toward this blanket:
    http://www.csnstores.com/Daniadown-65825TH-DWD1489.html

    lovelydomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

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  20. i know exactly what you mean about keeping in touch with friends. the older i get the more i "need" friends, but the less time i have. beautiful photos...

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  21. I subscribe via gfc reader.

    lovelydomesticdiva (at) gmail (dot) com

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  22. Wanna lick that frosting.....scrumptious....

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  23. Your cupcakes are divine, especially wit the shiny ganache. My husband is Irish, so we celebrate every year with Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Soda Bread. We also go the to the Irish Bar.

    I need a new 9X5 metal bread pan, as well as a Silpat mat.

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  24. i am already a loyal follower!

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  25. Great giveaway! I would use the gift certificate toward a new knife! http://www.csnstores.com/Calphalon-KN4008VS-CPH1263.html

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  26. Beautiful and delicious cupcakes! Of course I love the mint flavor too.

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  27. I really want to get a Le Creuset French oven.

    danielleaknapp at gmail dot com

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  28. I follow on GFC.

    danielleaknapp at gmail dot com

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  29. I think that the older you get, the more you definitely appreciate your old friends...and realize which friends were really your true friends all along. I love the mint chocolate combo in these. Definitely perfect for V Day!

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  30. Xiaolu, the cupcakes are so cute, indeed perfect for St Patrick's day celebration.

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  31. I'm a follower. :) (Cupcakes look perfect for St. Patty's!)

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  32. Absolutely stunning cupcakes! I love the clover leaf frosting.

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  33. I'd get some throw pillows.

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

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  34. These are so cute! And sound delicious too. I'd love for you to submit this to the M&T Spotlight: http://www.makeandtakes.com/spotlight

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  35. Heather, TJ, Brock, and JillianMarch 1, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    So cute! I shared on my facebook fanpage, Pirates-n-Princesses. You should come check it out! :)

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  36. I bet your friend was so touched by these gorgeous cupcakes. Bet the flavor was awesome. Love your decorations.

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  37. These look and sound ridiculously delicious. Mint and chocolate are one of my favorite combinations! With a gift certificate to buy anything I want, I think I need to buy a donut pan.

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  38. I'd get the Cuisinart Panini/Sandwich maker.
    lyndadawinda1074 at yahoo dot com

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  39. I follow you via GFC. ID: Lyndadawinda1074
    lyndadawinda1074 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  40. I tweeted
    http://twitter.com/#!/lyndadawinda/status/42826349169225729
    lyndadawinda1074 at yahoo dot com

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  41. I would get a springform pan and a tart pan Sbeck@lclark.edu

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  42. I shared about this giveaway on Facebook!
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=167123523336189&id=1366325085

    lyndadawinda1074 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  43. I also am subscribed through RSS feed.

    Freckleduck@yahoo.com

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  44. I blogged about this giveaway and posted here:
    http://thespanglyprincess.blogspot.com/2011/03/40-csn-stores-gift-certificate-giveaway.html

    lyndadawinda1074 at yahoo dot com

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  45. I’m a subscriber via RSS Feed (Google Reader).
    lyndadawinda1074 at yahoo dot com

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  46. Love the recipe and the photo is so beautiful!

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  47. Gorgeous! If I makes these cupcakes will you come and pipe the pretty shamrocks on top for me? My piping isn't as nice as yours :-)

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  48. 'M' must have loved them. Those cupcakes are so cute, and they sound incredibly rich and delicious.
    O, and I follow your blog - does that count as subscribing to?

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  49. I'd love the Graham & Brown Paintable Beadboard Wallpaper from CSN

    shel704 at aol dot com

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  50. Tweeted:
    http://twitter.com/auntiethesis/status/42879546143416320

    shel704 at aol dot com

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  51. I I subscribed via email
    shel704 at aol dot com

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  52. Precious cupcakes. I love the chocolate and mint combination.

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  53. i want to buy my son the toy story desk
    thanks

    tcogbill at live dot com

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  54. knives or a cutting board.

    jacquieastemborski AT comcast DOT net

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  55. Hi Xiaolu! I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to peruse my blog and comment periodically! I really do appreciate it! (If I reply to the comment on my blog, I don't think you are notified, so I wanted to comment here!) Thanks again! I was working on a guest post last night and the photo shots were inspired by you and Laura the cooking photographer. I did try setting up my camera and being fancy. :) Just my first try though. I'll shoot you a note when it posts. :)

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  56. Oh my gosh, Xiaolu, these sound delish! I love GS thin mints and the idea of putting all that goodness into a cupcake is awesome.
    I love the pastry supplies there. I could use a pastry cloth or new rolling pin.

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  57. Oh yummy - these look divine! I love mint chocolate - perfect combination :)

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  58. Mint and chocolate is one of my favorite pairings- These both look and sound wonderful! I love the way you piped little shamrocks on top. :)

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  59. Thin mints are way too good and these cupcakes look dangerous too! Which means I must make them :) I could def use the CSN gift certificate. My microplane is cracking at the handle (boo!) and one of my silicon spatulas is also cracking (boo!). Typically I would blame my dog, but this time I think its just from overuse.

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  60. i need a kitchen scale! i've been lusting after one for many, many moons. :)

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  61. also, i'm a subscriber.
    also, these cupcakes rock. :)

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  62. Wow, I was only going to leave a comment about the awesome cupcakes, but this is a total bonus! If I won, I'd probably get a light fixture for the bathroom remodel I'm doing. And as you know, I'm already a long-time subscriber :).

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  63. I would love to get this bake-ware set from csn stores:
    http://www.csnstores.com/5-Piece-Burgundy-Bakeware-Set-SSS1143.html
    gina.m.maddox (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  64. I am an RSS Subscriber!
    gina.m.maddox (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  65. tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/CrazyItalian0/status/43422317853937664

    gina.m.maddox (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  66. Congrats again sweetheart :-) Don't know how I had not seen that droolworthy cake on your post, but when I saw it in the gallery, all i wanted to do was dig my fingers into the cream and mango. Very very well deserved.

    Cute cookies. Don't know how you make them so gorgeous and perfect in everyway.

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  67. Just like you, the older I get the less I seem to see my friends, but you have inspired me to change that.

    And what a lovely going away present :)

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  68. I would use it for a new blender or hand blender. Wow...what a selection!!

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  69. In need for more mini ramekins these days and I hope to get more of them from CSNStores :)

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  70. I would buy some items to help organize my kitchen and pantry.

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  71. These cupcakes look amazing, Xiaolu. Love your creations.

    I've noticed that too, and also, as we grow, it's harder to make friends as good as the ones we made while we were younger. Oh and your friends.. they're M&M? Haha I know that's totally dorky, but any candy reference, and I'm a happy girl!

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  72. I'd like a Water Pik shower head. Thanks!

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  73. ooh these are so pretty! I love mint/choc combo!
    Heidi xo

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  74. Just subscribed to your blog!

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  75. Those look delish! I still need to figure out something green to bake for work.

    I'd love to use the gift certificate towards one of the LED lamps. My apartment is so dark & I feel like I have to strain my eyes to do anything!

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  76. If I won I'd love to put the gift certificate toward the Aerosoles - THUMB PRI-002 - Thumb Printz Sport Shoes in Black Leather. Thanks so much for the giveaway!
    maddiemb {at} comcast (dot) net

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  77. I shared this giveaway on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/shala.darkstone/posts/191396274234719
    maddiemb {at} comcast (dot) net

    ReplyDelete
  78. the girl you knew sometimeMarch 6, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    just discovered your blog today, it's so sweet! i'm a vegan but i often bake non-vegan for friends so i appreciate the mixture here. also, love all the giveaways! from csn, i would love the staub 4-in mini cast iron skillet as i have a tiny oven. thanks!

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  79. I'm oogling over the variety of ramekins on the site and can't bring myself to settle on just one :) is it okay for me to leave it as general as that?

    Good luck with the contest!

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  80. Linked to this giveaway on Facebook.

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  81. What a great store. As I am a new granma, I would get something for my grandson who I take care of. I love the touchy feely blocks. He is into the books that you can touch so would love these! Other areas such as kitchen items are very tempting!!!! especially as I have a baking business but.... this little boy comes 1st:)

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  82. those are some cute cupcakes. love this time of the year when all the sweet treats are green hehe

    thanks for sharing

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  83. I would love to invest in one of those lovely headboards!

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  84. I would get the Ravenscroft Crystal - 31 oz. Cabernet Decanter
    Digicat {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

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  85. I posted this giveaway on my Blog. Check it out here!
    http://carolsbloggys.blogspot.com/2010/01/csn-stores-giveaways.html
    Digicat {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

    ReplyDelete
  86. I subscribe to your e-mails/updates through e-mail
    Digicat {at} sbcglobal.net

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  87. I love the 4 leaf clovers you put on top! So cute.

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  88. They looks so cute. Though it may not be as creative as the others that I have seen so far, yours are truly fun to look at. Also, thanks for sharing your recipe.

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  89. Wow! Chocolate cupcakes are really delicious. I don't know how they could make it very tasty and yummy but one thing I'm sure is, is that they are very sweet and I love them.

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I love hearing from you all! Please leave me a message if you have questions, advice, or just to let me know you stopped by. Your feedback is always very much appreciated. Thanks! <3 Xiaolu