Top 12 of 2012


What a year!

As we are staring 2013 in the face and saying our final goodbyes to 2012, I wanted to share this New Years wish with you:


It's time to take a look back at what we accomplished over this past year.  
Pondered Primed Perfected was just a newborn blog when 2012 rolled around.  
There was so much to learn, explore, create and share.
We've grown a lot.  
Faced some tough challenges.  
Learned some important lessons.
And along the way we've made some wonderful new friends.

Here are the top 12 most viewed projects of 2012...thanks to you!  
{Clicking on the photo will take you to the original post}

#12.  Roadside find end table given new life with spray paint

#11.  Metal look typography

#10.  Bed Frame turned Raised Garden Bed

#9.  Quick, Easy Kitchen Transformation with Paint 

#8.  Farmer's Market Basket ~ An Anthro Knockoff

#7.  Jewelry Box ~ A Thrift Store Makeover

#6.  Ottoman created from yard sale coffee table

#5.  Tripod Floor Lamp ~ A PB Knockoff

#4.  Budget Laundry Room Makeover

#3.  Family Established Signs from Old Windows

#2.  New Pantry Space ~ Storage Under the Stairs

#1.  Award Winning Moose Munch Recipe

I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for us!  
So much possibility...so much potential.

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Our Holiday Prep with Hometalk (and a Pesto Pasta Recipe)

I love Christmas time.  It's such a special time of year.

I love getting our home all dressed up for the holidays and spending time with good friends and family.  Making special treats to share.  The spirit of giving.  

I made Cake Pops for the first time this year.  They turned out wonderful.  I was excited to show them off and share them.  It's so gratifying to try a new recipe and sharing your successful results with others.

Some of the cake pops are being displayed in this gorgeous new Sadie Cake Plate and Cloche, from Wayfair.   Displaying them inside the cloche like this makes them the focal point of the room...and they look amazingly delicious.

Click on photo above for more about the cake pops I made

I'm looking forward to decorating this cloche with something new for each holiday  or season.  I've always wanted a beautiful cloche like this.  It has so many possibilities.

With Christmastime comes so much to do and prepare for.  It's nice to do some low-key entertaining and enjoy ourselves.  

Don't be so busy you forget to enjoy the warmth of the season with friends and family.

This year we have set our home up with several entertaining stations:

 A gourmet coffee station for the adults.

A hot cocoa station for the kiddos, complete with marshmallows and candy canes.  I'll keep this one out for the rest of winter.  It's such a hit in our house.  Call me a coffee-aholic, but that makes my boy a cocoa-aholic for sure!  :)

Of course the adults can have hot cocoa too if they want.

Or even water ;)

I like to put a pretty pitcher with ice water out so people can help themselves whenever they feel thirsty.

And a mini bar with wine and cocktails.  Please help yourself.

Just a few finishing details will bring the whole event together once you have stations set up and ready.

Layer the holiday decorations with the treats until it feels complete...

Roasted Almonds
Pops of red

Have a batch of hot cocoa steaming in the pot before the guests arrive.

That way they can get right down to the fun stuff.

I like having a fun activity ready for the little kids to do when they get here.  Makes them feel special.  

I prepare a delicious pesto pasta salad ahead of time.  It is so easy to make and is always a huge hit whenever I make it. It tastes delicious cold or hot, and you can turn it into a main course just by adding grilled chicken breast to the pasta.

And another thing I like to do to keep things simple and stress-free when entertaining is to have a fresh fruit bowl and a veggie tray.

It's not about the time you spend preparing...it's about the time you spend enjoying the ones you love!

Now all we need are the guests to arrive.  :)

Merry Christmas Everyone!

If you haven’t been to Hometalk, it’s a wonderful website celebrating projects and rooms from homeowners all over the country.  Members can share their home projects and get ideas, inspiration, and professional advice on anything home related.  
My party tips are being shared at Hometalk as well.
Hometalk and Wayfair partnered with some bloggers to celebrate the season with these beautiful cloches, like you see here in my post. Thanks to Wayfair for providing this beautiful cloche. I wasn’t compensated to write this post about my party. 

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Pesto Pasta Salad ~ Easy and Extraordinary

Today I'm sharing my favorite pasta salad recipe with you.  It's so simple to make, but it tastes so delicious you won't believe how easy it is!   

  • One Bag of "curly" Noodles (I used a 17.6 oz. bag of Radiatori noodles from Costco)
  • 10 oz. jar basil pesto (I used approximately 10 oz. of the Kirkland Pesto which comes in a big 22 oz size)
  • Small can of sliced olives, drained 
  • Approximately 1 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 jar or can of artichoke hearts (approx 14 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbles
  • Optional:  1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cook your noodles according to package instructions.  
Drain and rinse. 
Add pesto sauce, sliced olives, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Feta crumbles and chopped walnuts.  Cut any extra large pieces of artichoke hearts into bite sized pieces.
Stir well.
Serve either warm or cold, as a side dish.
Add grilled chicken breast strips and it becomes a delicious main course meal.

My family fights over this, it's that good.  It has become my favorite side dish to take to family gatherings and pot lucks.  I hope you give it a try and enjoy.

Merry Christmas!
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Red Velvet Candy Cane Cake Pops


I've always imagined cake pops as being some extravagant treat that you get from a bakery or someone who knows all the tricks and secrets of making special pastries and treats.  You know, like crescent rolls and terrines.

In my mind cake pops were made in a special cake pop contraption and coated in some special cake pop frosting that you couldn't buy in a grocery store.

Little did I know.

Then I saw a scrumptious pin on Pinterest for Chocolate Mint Cake Pops, by A Cup of Mascarpone.  
I quickly visited A Cup of Mascarpone and found that Carol does some pretty special sweet & savory dishes and shows them off with the most enticing photos.  The photos alone were enough to convince me I had to give cake pops a try. 

Carol suggested watching a YouTube video:  Cake Pops by Bakerella, so I did.  This video by Bakerella was a wonderful introduction to making cake pops.  The video explains that cake pops are basically a regular cake crumbled, mixed with frosting, rolled into balls then coated with a candy shell. 

Hmmm...sounds easy, right?

Here are the steps to making cake pops at home:

Boxed cake mix made as directed (I used Betty Crocker Red Velvet)
2/3 container of store bought frosting (I used Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate)
Candy Melts or Almond Bark (I used one 24 oz. bag of Almond Bark)
4 or 5 Candy Canes -crushed

Note:  You can mix and match your cake, frosting and coating flavors to make whatever combinations you desire.  You can also be creative with sprinkles and crushed candies on top.

Bake a sheet cake following the instructions on the box.  
Let cool.
Cut into 4 - 6  large rectangles.

Take 2 rectangles of cake at a time and crumble into a large mixing bowl.  

Rubbing two chunks of cake together crumbles them up quickly.

Here's what a bowl of crumbled Red Velvet cake looks like.  
Make sure there are no larger chunks of cake left.

Add about 2/3 of a jar of store bought frosting.  
You don't want to use the entire container because the cake balls will be too moist and will not hold their shape or stay on their sticks if you do.

Mix the cake crumbs and frosting together using a rubber spatula and pushing the crumbs and frosting together against the sides of the bowl.

Roll mixture into balls using the palms of your hands.  Just like the kids do with Play Doh!
(I didn't measure or weigh mine.  I just estimated, trying to keep them all about the same size.  
I'm NOT a perfectionist!  Can you tell? )

Place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and chill.  
You can put them in the freezer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, move them to the refrigerator.  Take about six out at a time for the next step.

Crush candy canes in a Ziploc bag using a rolling pin.

Melt your candy melts or almond bark in the microwave following the package directions.
Use a deep, narrow bowl so the melted candy is deep enough to submerge the cake balls completely.

Dip popsicle sticks into the melted almond bark and then poke them into the cake balls ~ about halfway through.  Be careful not to push the sticks all the way through.  Don't twist or mess with the sticks at this point.  The candy will solidify inside the cake balls and adhere them to the sticks.  

(Note:  I used wooden stir sticks instead of buying popsicle/cake pop sticks.  I already had them on hand and I like the way the wooden sticks look.)

Dunk cake balls into the melted candy coating submerging completely until the melted candy is touching the stick.  
DO NOT swirl or twist.  

Hold the dipped cake ball over the bowl and tap the hand holding the stick with the other hand, causing the excess coating to drip back into the bowl.  (This is where I remind you to watch Bakerella's video if you haven't already...so you can do this step correctly.  It makes a huge difference in how your cake pops turn out.)

Poke cake pops into Styrofoam and allow the candy coating to set completely before storing or wrapping.

You've now become a Keeper of Special Treat Secrets.  

When people Ooooh! and Aaaah! about these delicious and adorable treats just smile and say, 

"You are SO worth it!"

I placed a few in a small Ball jar with mini marshmallows in the bottom to give them some stability.

Then I stored the jars inside this super duper two-story cake and cupcake carrier.   
It was just the perfect height for them.

I tied a few into little "bouquets" with candy canes and curling ribbon.  
Perfect as a party favor for holiday guests.

They made a very nice accompaniment to some minty hot chocolate from our hot chocolate station.

This pop fell from the styrofoam and cracked it's outer shell.  Oh, the poor little cake pop.  I had no choice but to call this one defective and eliminate it.  MmmHmm.


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