Thursday, March 28, 2013

Looking for packing material? Easter Grass!

Popcorn?  Ghost Poop a.k.a. packing peanuts?  Newspaper?  Grocery bags?  Bubble Wrap?  I've heard of lots of different materials that can be used to make sure your care package contents arrive safely and while they all have their place my favorite by far is Easter grass.  Not the shredded plastic kind but the crinkly shredded paper kind.  Not only does it help keep your items safe but it looks adorable!  You can find crinkly shredded paper at any craft store and often in the gift wrap section of your local store but right now it's Easter and it's everywhere and CHEAP!!  I picked up lots today and found it for $1.37 a bag at Walmart - they had yellow, green, orange, fuchsia, light pink, light blue, purple and white. You could wait until the weekend or maybe even pick some up on clearance the day after Easter...but I was worried they would be out and like I said, I need lots. Jeff hates the shredded plastic kind that has static cling in it and sticks to everything and won't come off your hand when you try to throw it away (maybe it's just my magnetic personality?) so I haven't bought any of that kind for a very long time.  After the kids are finished opening their baskets this weekend you'll find me bagging up their shredded paper to use in an upcoming package. 
What's your favorite packing material?

Hire a Photographer? Genius!

We don't own a video camera.  I know, we're probably the only family on the planet (or at least in Utah) that doesn't own one but we don't and here's why.  Once upon a time my brother-in-law got a new video camera and asked us if we'd like to have his old one.  Mind you, this was a LONG time ago.  My twenty year old daughter was like six or seven and the video camera was a monster.  You had to sit it on your shoulder it was so big - and look in and eye piece and then view it on a little tiny black and white screen.  Remember the days?  The one and only time that we ever used it was to my daughter's one and only dance recital.  We're sitting in the gym, on the bleachers, and she's dancing her heart out, and Jeff is recording away and the whole performance lasts all of two minutes and when it's over Jeff looks at me and says, "Why would I want to watch Bek's performance through a little viewfinder in black and white when I can watch the real thing in full and living color?"  So we donated the video camera and that was that because I too don't want to watch life happen while behind a viewfinder. 
Last spring I had a burst of pure inspiration.  Mason would be coming home from his mission in July and I wanted a million photos and while I have a pretty decent camera it is not a high speed digital one so my action shots tend to have bits of blur in them and it's not like you can tell him to back up and come off the airplane again and I wanted to be IN the moment and not worrying about the perfect shot...(whew, breath girlfriend!) got this thought...inspiration...why not hire a photographer?  I'm tellin' ya - it was genius!  I wished that I had a friend that I could beg to come take photos and though I do have a cousin that takes amazing photos (J.Taylor Photography), she was already doing a wedding that day so I just grabbed the phone book then went to each photographer's website to view what their pictures look like and started making calls.  Calls?  Not really - one call, that's all.  First local photographer that I called (Shootz Photography) was thrilled with the idea and charged me the same price that she charges to do birth photography - $100.  With that I got the photographer, all the photos on a disk AND a slide show.  Totally worth it and all of us - the whole family - got to be IN the moment.  It was wonderful and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
So here's Mason's homecoming slideshow but not the one that the photographer did 'cause I couldn't get it to upload but they are all her photos.  Lucky that I have that awesome software that I told you about here...
(...any ideas why YouTube seems blurry? Maybe it's just my old age...)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

St. Patrick's Day - something not so sweet

Not every package needs to be full of things to eat does it?  Bek received an awesome coupon from Bath & Body Works and while we were browsing my cute little Maren found these darling little hand sanitizer holders that can be hung from your purse or backpack.  They had lots of different styles but Maren thought these frog princes would be perfect to put in a little package for St. Patrick's Day.  We just tossed them in with a Bag of Gold Nuggets, some tissue, shredded paper and topped it off with a St. Patrick's Day printable.  Everything fit perfectly into the small Flat Rate Box from the post office - you just can't beat $5 to mail a package.  Don't forget the companions!

Bags O' Gold Nuggets

You can whip this little project up in a jiffy.  I got this idea from my sister-in-law Cindy.  She is planning a trip to Scotland, Ireland and England and for our first little "get excited for this trip" meeting (like we're not psyched already!) she gave us cute little bags of gold nuggets.  I totally copied her idea for some of our St. Patrick's Day gift packages this year.
Project Supplies:
cellophane bags
gold ribbon
Hershey's Nugget candy

St. Patrick's Day - subway art

I wrote a note on the back and topped off my St. Patrick's Day packages this year with this 5 x 7 subway art printable.  I got the original idea here and thought it would be easy to tweak and use for my second ever Photoshop project.  Just Googled St. Patrick's Day and found words that I liked.  Man...hope Photoshop gets faster eventually!  Your missionary can hang it on their bulliton board...or wall...or fridge...or use it as a bookmark...or stick it in an inexpensive frame to help make their apartment more festive.  This frame came from Ikea for $1.99 and comes in white or black and suits my boys just fine.  However should my daughter decide to go...I may splurge and go with this little beauty for all of $4.99.  Gorgeous!  I'm sure that you could find something around the house or at one of the many dollar stores in your area.  Download by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where in the World?

I whipped* these up for Matt's "Grand Opening" of his mission call and thought I'd share.  When people came to our home we just had them jot down their guess for where Matt would get called to serve.  Some of his friends posted their guess on Facebook or texted him and we entered their guess for them.  You can click here to make copies for your own "Grand Opening" celebration. NOTE: For some strange reason, known only to God himself...occasionally the link doesn't load correctly.  If this happens to you, I apologize from the depths of my heart. Please email me at and I will send it in an attachment right to your inbox. Don't worry...I check my inbox frequently.  I'm a bit of a fanatic about that.  I've tried to reload and repost to Box all to no avail...sigh...

So did we have a winner?  Yes!  Actually we had three winners...Connorton, Matt's brother was the only one present.  The other's had their prizes mailed to them.  Pretty amazing evening!

*Disclaimer:  I shouldn't actually say "I whipped these up" daughter Rebekah helped me create them on Photoshop and this is my first Photoshop project ever and it took a good portion of the morning.  The credit goes to Bek...she was very patient with me.  Thanks Bek!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shamrock Sugar Cookies

My daughter Maren and I went to a Silver Beaver award ceremony for my dear friend, Janice last week and following the event we stopped in at Kneaders Bakery for a little treat.  They had the most adorable shamrock sugar cookies ever!  The next day after work I popped in to my very favorite little kitchen store, Gygi's in Salt Lake City and picked up my own shamrock cookie cutter and a decorating tip to pipe the edges of the cookies. 
I should mention here that I don't actually like to make sugar cookies.  They take a ton of time!  You've got to make the dough.  Chill the dough.  Roll out the dough.  Cut the dough.  Cook the dough...repeat that whole process a gazillion times and then you have to get to frost them.  Makes me tired just thinking about it.  Yeah, we only make sugar cookies around here on Christmas Eve and that's only because it's Jeff's family tradition.  At the end of this post I'll tell you about one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received. 
Have I scared you away yet?  Hang in there.  It'll be worth it.  Life changing in fact, like when I told you about frosting cupcakes.  Yup, that good. 
Normally...ok, the one and only time each year that I make sugar cookies, I frost them with the Best Ever Buttercream Frosting (really, that's the name).  While it actually is the best ever and while it does set up ever so slightly I didn't think it would travel very well and the frosting would get smooshed in transit and why work so hard if they aren't going to look fantastic, right?  With the help of the oh so kind employees at Kneaders they walked/talked me through the easiest way ever to frost sugar cookies. I looked up some recipes online and with my son Connorton as my official taste tester, we've got this all figured out for you.

Let's start with the sugar cookie recipe:
Nicole's Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup butter, has to be the real stuff
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Cream the butter and the shortening.  Add the sugar and mix.  Add the eggs and mix just until the eggs are blended in.  Add the soda, cream of tarter and vanilla but mix just until blended - you don't want to over mix once the eggs are in.  Add the flour.  The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups but you will need more than that.  The key to keeping the cookies soft is adding enough flour.  Add the 3 1/2 cups (one cup at a time and mixing after each addition), then use your fingers to determine how much more to add.  It will be different every time you make them because your eggs will never be the same size.  Pinch the dough.  If it is sticky and you can pinch through it easily, you do not have enough flour.  You want the dough to be soft, but not really sticky. You want to have some substance to it.  Just keep adding 1/2 cup of flour, mix and pinch until it is just right.  Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.  Roll out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into shapes and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  They are not going to look like they are done yet but take them out anyway.  Be careful when transferring to rack or other cooling surface they will be really soft.  As they cool they will become easier to handle. 
Cool completely and frost.
This recipe is from my friend Nicole who knows that I don't like to make sugar cookies and knows that they are Jeff's favorite (his very favorite are Pumpkin Chocolate Chip...yeah, I don't make those either) so every time she makes a batch she shares with him.  I have really great friends.  Jeff's bookkeeper makes him Pumpkin cookies so don't feel too badly for him.

Tips & Tricks:
1. These are a few of my favorite cooking tools:
 My rolling pin -  I love it.  It is long and has no handles.  I have the other kind but I never, ever use them.  I've had this one since I got married and my kids will probably fight over it when I'm gone.  Never soak them in water.  Just wipe them clean with a damp cloth.  Mine is wood but they have a composite one at Gygi's that is very affordable.
Mini-spatula -  I love these.  Came from Gygi's, of course.  They are very inexpensive - usually .99 - and are the perfect size for dishing up little desserts, cookies and bars - 2 1/4" wide.  In this case I used it to help me lift the sugar cookies off the counter.  Dip it in flour to prevent dough sticking.
Scraper - I use this tool all the time.  It's a great tool for dividing dough and scraping clean your kitchen counter (see figure 3)
2. Dip your cookie cutter into flour in between each cutting and your dough will never stick to the cookie cutter.  When lifting the cut cookie off the counter, dip your spatula into flour and press down on the counter while inserting under the dough.  Dough will not become misshapen and will easily slide off spatula and onto the baking tray.
3. As I mentioned above:  Clean up is made much easier with this handy little scraper.  They have one similar to mine at Gygi's - usually .99.  Scrape the flour and cookie dough gunk from the counter and sweep right into the garbage.  Wipe counter down with a damp cloth and you're good to go.
Jeff always says: "Right tool for the right job."  He's a smart man.
On to the frosting!
This is life-changing...

Vanilla Dipping Frosting
6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
In a saucepan, combine powdered sugar, water and corn syrup.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a temperature of 92 degrees F (33 degrees C).  Mixture should be thin enough to pour, but thick enough to coat the cookie.  Do NOT let the temperature get over 100 degrees F or the icing will not dry shiny.  Dip the baked and cooled cookie in the icing.  Lay the cookies out single until icing is dry.  IF it does go above the 92 degrees F, do NOT throw it away.  It just won't be shiny but it will still taste great.  It's all good.

I used the Vanilla Dipping Frosting to frost the tops of the cookies.  So FAST!!  Just hold onto the sides of the cookie and dip the top into the frosting, lift the cookie up and let some of the excess drip off then flip it over onto a cookie sheet to dry.  This frosting dries really quickly so I did find that I needed to give it a quick stir prior to dipping each cookie and once or twice I needed to turn the element back on and warm it back up slightly to keep it the consistency that I wanted.  This will dry hard to the touch but not as hard as royal frosting and it won't break into bits when you bite into it.  I was able to frost the entire batch of 48 cookies in just a matter of minutes with not much frosting left over.  I just left the frosting white - mostly because it didn't even occur to me to add color to it but it would be totally darling to have it tinted a light green then pipe with a little darker green.  Cute!
Now for the piping frosting...
Cutout Cookie Icing
3 egg whites, room temperature*
Whip for 2 minutes at fast speed until stiff
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
Mix all together.
2 Tbs shortening
coloring, if desired
Mix on low speed until smooth.  If you want to make a glaze from this,
just add a little hot water.  This frosting dries firm to the touch but again it is not as hard as royal frosting.  It's pretty and tasty and it dries very quickly so you can stack the cookies. 
Keep the frosting stiff if you plan on using it for piping. 
You can also use this to frost your cookies but it won't be as fast as the dipping frosting. 
*Room temperature eggs:  If you forget to get them out of the fridge in time for them to come to room temperature, just put them into a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.
Let's get piping!!  This may look a bit intimidating if you've never done it before but it's really not bad at all.  Just practice on a cookie or on a bit of parchment paper or wax paper...or a plate.  You'll be fine. Promise.
First we need to load our bag with frosting:
I like to use a disposable pastry bag because I'm really pretty lazy about some things.  You will need to fit your decorating tip into the bag to see where you need to snip the end off.  Snip it off then insert your coupler inside, place the tip over the coupler but on the outside of the bag, screw the ring in place.  Fold down the top of the bag ('cause we don't want to make too big of a mess).
Hold the bag with your hand (shown at left) and load frosting by the spoonful. Use the thumb that is holding the bag to scrape the frosting from the spoon.  You can fill this pretty full just make sure that you leave enough head space so you can twist the top closed.
When you've loaded the frosting into the bag, fold the top back up and use your fingers to work the frosting down into the end of the bag (shown at left).
Twist the top and hold.  You will keep your hand on this twist while decorating.  Occasionally untwist and work the frosting down into the end again.  Refill when necessary.
Cute!!  I've included a little video clip of how I piped the frosting on.  It really went pretty fast once I got the hang of it which didn't take too long.  Let them dry completely then wrap them individually in syran wrap to insure freshness. 

So, assuming that you're still with's the story of one of the best Christmas gifts I've ever received.  I work outside the home.  It's only part time but that's how we support our missionaries and it is what it is and most of the time it works out pretty well but occasionally (sometimes more often than that) I get a little stressed...or a lot.  This year I had to work on Christmas Eve.  Yeah.  Mom's don't have anything to do on Christmas Eve do they?  I thought I was doing pretty well getting done early what could be done early but some things just can't be done too early.  One of those things was making sugar cookies with the kids for them to leave out for Santa.  Jeff's family tradition.  Jeff and I work at the same place and late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve he called me into his office and presented me with a gift from Mike (one of the other accountants) and his wife Nicole.  A beautifully decorated clear box - it was a Sugar Cookie Kit!!!  Full of Nicole's fresh baked sugar cookies (recipe above), red and green frosting (yup, you guessed it...her Best Frosting Ever recipe) and cookie sprinkles.  I cried.  Seriously.  The weight that that gesture took off my shoulders was incredible.  I'm crying again just thinking about it.  The best gifts come from the heart.  Thanks, Nicole...and I hope that you don't mind that I just posted your two favorite recipes all over the internet!  Oh, and here's her frosting recipe!
Nicole's Best Frosting Recipe Ever
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbs milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
food coloring, optional
Mix together until very creamy.
Don't forget to lick the beater!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

HD Slideshows via ProShow Gold

A couple of weeks ago my friend Jackie and I were discussing our sons upcoming Eagle Scout Court of Honor and she mentioned that it might be nice to do a slideshow of the boys.  Cringe. I have very many Scout photos?  Who do I bother to get more?  I don't even know how to make a slideshow...that means I'll have to call Janice - but she has a MAC...what would I have to do to change it to work on my PC?  Or I could bother Eric - but he's bishop now.  If I don't have time, he certainly doesn't have time...Those are the thoughts that are whizzing around in my head while outwardly I say, "That would be AWESOME!"  Which indeed it would be...if I can wrap my brain around it.  I do hate to bother other people.  Of course Janice says, "Yes!"  That's the kind of person she is.  We need to get out photos to her as soon as possible because she is busy the end of the week.  Of course the Court of Honor is the following Sunday.  I am a last minute kind of girl, in case you haven't noticed.

Skipping my Sunday nap, (which is the one and only perk to the 9 a.m. meeting schedule) I head into the office to go through photos and scan in those that I do have.  Jeff mentions, "You should call Eric he has tons of Scout photos."  Eric was the Scout Master and Jeff was his Assistant.  "I can't call Eric.  He's way too busy."  So I scan and search while Jeff takes a nap.  Fast forward and his nap is over..."You should really call Eric."  So I call Eric and apologize before even asking him for what I know will take him forever to do...and he says, "No problem!  My MAC has face recognition.  I'll just click on a photo of him then go eat dinner.  Should be done running when I'm finished eating."  Wait?!  What?!  There's such a thing?  Wonders of modern technology!  It's a miracle...but wait, there's more...

An hour later, Eric calls and tells me he's got a disk ready for me.  I explain about the slideshow and he says, "I'll do it for you."  "You absolutly will NOT!"  Then he makes a confession, and this is the part that this very long post is really all about, (I'm very long winded at times)  "I have this really amazing software.  It will make your slideshow in about 10 minutes.  I spend more time picking out the music than it takes to actually put together the slideshow."   Hmmm...Instantly Janice has her free time back and I get to learn something that I've always wanted to learn.

Proshow Gold (Photodex)*, the ultimate HD slideshow tool and my new favorite computer program.  Easy, peasy.  Seriously.  This program will easily combine as many photos, videos and songs as you want.  The wizard will help with automatic show creation and instant effects or, create it all on your own.  No matter how you choose to create your show, ProShow Gold also offers tons of built-in tools that let you edit your show content to perfection.  You can also use ProShow Gold to publish your show to 40+ formats for sharing online, on TV, DVD, Blu-ray, Facebook and YouTube.  There's even a button that you click if you want the program to sinc the song to your slideshow.  Brilliant!  Program is downloadable or for an extra $10 you can download it AND they'll send you a hardcopy.  On the downside...Eric was right.  It does take longer to pick the perfect music than the slideshow will take you to put together.  Here's a hint:  Piano Guys.*  Trust me.  If only learning Photoshop were this easy...
* Note:  I have not received any funds toward promoting ProShow Gold or Piano Guys.
I just really, really like them and thought you might too.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Our Missionary Wall

At our home we have a wall, not just any wall, it's our Missionary Wall...sometimes irreverently referred to as "The Shrine" by my other children yet to pin their photos.  I should explain.  We have a lot of returned missionaries in our family and many, MANY neices and nephews who are growing up much too quickly.  Mason would be the first missionary grandchild on my side of the family to serve a mission and I wanted to show where he was serving and where others had served before him.
We purchased a very large map at a local school supply store (Utah Idaho Supply).  I bought the laminated version because I wanted to protect it as I didn't plan on putting glass over it.  I also picked up some gold map pins while there to used for marking where the missionaries had/were serving.  I just used a heavy embroidery floss in a coordinating color to span from the pin to their photo.  I took the map to my local frame shop (FrameWorks of Utah) and we sketched out what I invisioned. 
First I needed to figure out how much mat I wanted showing between the map and the frame itself.   I figured that most people have a wallet size photo and so allowed enough room to mount the photo as well as a name/place tag under that. I contacted all of my family members (on both sides of the family) who had served missions and requested a photo.  They can just email one to you and you can print it out.  If they send you an original please be very careful with it and return it promptly.  I only contacted our direct line i.e. Grandparents, parents, aunts/uncles and cousins.  If I did our extended family...well, that would just be too many missionaries!  I do have a few that I haven't received photos from yet...I just printed out a tag anyhow and someday I'm sure they'll come across a photo.  Everything is just mounted onto the mat (which has a slick surface) with photomounts so they are easy to reposition and move around when I need to squeeze another missionary in - so their strings don't cross over each other 'cause I'm really anal and that would just drive me bonkers!  When everyone came over for Mason's 'Grand Opening' of his mission call, I had the cards with photos and places ready and those that were there got to attatch their own photos and strings.  Then Mason opened his call, and attached his photo and pinned his mission, and I cried.  It was a pretty amazing evening and the cousins look forward to their chance to be on the Missionary Wall.
Here's a cost saving hint:  Try to find a composite frame i.e. one not made out of wood.  Mine looks beautiful, I think.  It's actually a plastic composite and is very light and very inexpensive.  You could also go to a thrift store and purchase a picture in a frame; take the picture out, spray paint the frame any color you desire, take the frame to the frame shop and they will mount your map and mat for you.  Even better!
As usual with my hairbrained ideas, what started out as something simple morphed into something bigger but in this case better because we all actually really love what it morphed into.  My son Connor, came up with the brilliant idea to mark the temples.  I loved it!  I went back to the school supply store and purchased more pins:  White = temples in opperation, Brown = temples under construction, and Yellow = temples announced.  We had an amazing evening one night pinning all of the temple pins.  My daughter, Rebekah had the list of current temples and she would read them out while the younger kids found the location and pinned it with the appropriate color pin.   After finishing we stood back and were amazed at how the world is literally dotted all over with temples.  One of the kids said, "Look at all of the places in the world where there are wars and contention.  Look how far away they are from a temple.  The temple really does bring peace."  Out of the mouths of babes...One of our favorite parts of General Conference is when they announce the dedicated and new temples. We stand ready at our map to change colors and insert new pins.
Now, my cute little Matthew has opened his call and guess what? He got to attach his photo and pin his mission and I cried again.  What an amazing adventure he's about to begin!

Grasshopper Cupcakes

I wanted to have some kind of treat for those coming over to the house for Matt's 'Grand Opening' of his mission call so I came up with these yummy Grasshopper Cupcakes.  I've never made the 'fancy' kind of cupcakes before but I wanted to come up with something that would not only taste great but look amazing as well...and, well...Matt has a pretty serious sweet tooth.  While browsing at Orson Gygi's in Salt Lake City with my dear friend and former mission companion Marcie, I noticed a box of Andie's Mints.  My imagination was sparked!  I purchased a box of disposable pastry bags and the proper tip for the look that I wanted to achieve. Devil's Food cupcake with chocolate ganache (pronounced guh-nahsh), mint buttercream frosting topped with an Andie's Mint...oh my!  They actually turned out to be very easy and now I'm kinda' hooked on the whole cupcake thing and thinking up other concoctions and combinations and trying to figure out just how I can send them through the mail without them arriving smooshed and not so pretty.  I'll give it some serious thought and let you know when I've got it all figured out.  Any ideas?
Grasshopper Cupcake Shopping List
Devil's Food or Chocolate cake mix
(guess you don't actually have to shop for that!)
semi-sweet baking chocolate
(not chocolate chips)
whipping cream
powdered sugar
mint flavoring
green food coloring
Andie's Mints
Follow directions on the packaged cake mix.  When making the cupcakes, don't fill the baking cups as full as you normally would.  Maybe only 2/3's full or less.  I haven't made cupcakes in quite some time and forgot this essential step.  Consequently, I had to make a lot more and my cupcakes don't look as pretty because you can see the actual cake rising above the wrapper.  I had to make quite a few (about 70...remember all those nieces and nephews that I occasionally mention?) so remembering this little step would have saved me some precious time and money.  Live and learn, right?  While your cupcakes are cooling, make the chocolate Ganache.
Note:  Sorry I forgot to take photos...whatever was I thinking?
Chocolate Ganache
8 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
(not chocolate chips)
1 cup whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar, to taste

Break up the chocolate into a saucepan, add the cream, and stir over moderate heat until the chocolate has melted and the cream is almost at a simmer.  Stir quite vigorously (I use a wire whisk) until the chocolate and cream have melded together into a smooth brown mass.  Stir in the vanilla and powdered sugar to taste.  Turn the chocolate into a mixing bowl; set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and whisk several minutes until the ganache has firmed to spreading consistency.  May be made ahead, but don't bother to beat it over the ice; reheat to decongeal to proper consistency before using and then beat over ice if necessary.  This should look like a thick, dark chocolate frosting.
Note:  Ganache is French (gah-nahsh) and is a rich mixture of chocolate and cream
generally used for a frosting or filling.

When cupcakes have cooled completely, frost them with a layer of the chocolate ganache.  This doesn't have to be piped on.  Just frost using a butter knife or a small offset spatula.  Doesn't have to be fancy.  You will be covering it up with the Buttercream Frosting.  (see above - definately not fancy)
Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter
3 Tbs. milk
4 cups powdered sugar
flavoring to taste
green food coloring
Cream butter.  Add milk and powdered sugar one cup at a time.  Continue to add sugar until desired consistency.  Make it a little thicker than you normally would as you will be adding flavoring and coloring and that will thin it down somewhat.  You also want it to hold a really nice, stiff peak when piping onto the cupcakes.

Make the Buttercream frosting and...just a warning, you will need LOTS!  One batch frosted almost a dozen cupcakes.  It's on there pretty thick so if you just want to frost them like you usually do you could get by with one batch of frosting easy.  On the other hand...they sure are fancy and a LOT faster to frost using the decorator tip and disposable bag shown above.  If you're using the disposable bags you will need to purchase at least the 16 inch size.  I got the 18 inch.  That way each bag will hold an entire batch of Buttercream frosting and still allow room to twist the top and apply pressure without having the frosting squish out the top of the bag.  Yeah, that would not be good.  When it's time to refill your bag, just fold the top down again and refill as before; unfold the top, twist and squeeze frosting into your tip and you're good to go.
I used the largest open star tip that Gygi's had - Ateco #826 (they were out of the Wilton but you can click on the link to see what it looks like and find one comparable to use).  You will NOT need a coupler for the extra large tip that I used.  Just slide your tip inside your disposable pastry bag and note where the end needs to be clipped off.  Take out the tip, cut the bag and reinsert tip and slide down until it's snug at the bottom.  Fold down the top of the bag and holding with one hand, load your frosting inside.  Unfold the top portion of the bag, twist and apply pressure until the frosting fills the decorative tip. 
Figure #1:
Start at the outside edge of your cupcake
Figure #2:
Continue around the entire circumference
Figure #3:
When you are back at the beginning keep applying pressure and do a smaller circle on the inside
Figure #4:
Top with an Andie's Mint
Hmmm...I wonder what I would have made
 had Marcie and her daughter not taken that cake decorating class?