my american birthday party

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Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

If you haven't noticed, I love a good theme! I'm not a big fan of beer, especially not dark beer like Guinness. But, these have just the right amount flavor from the beer where it's not overpowering. The pistachios add just the right amount of crunch and green, of course! My favorite chocolate cake and chocolate icing recipes come from Hershey's and I just adapted them to work with the beer! You won't have any cupcakes leftover if you make your friends these for St. Patrick's Day.
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Adapted from Hershey's

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20 to 23 minutes. Cool completely.
While the cupcakes are still warm, use a toothpick to poke holes on the top of the cupcakes.
Dip a brush in the beer and glaze the cupcakes with the beer. Repeat this a couple times to make sure the cupcake soaks up the beer.
Frost using a knife or pipe bag. Sprinkle the pistachios on top and serve!

For the icing:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup Guinness
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Adapted from Hershey's

1. Melt butter. 
2. Stir in cocoa.
3. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
4. Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed.
5. Stir in vanilla.

For the Pistachios: 1 cup dry roasted pistachios
3/4-1 cup Guinness

Place pistachios in a deep bowl and cover them completely with the beer. Soak for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. Strain the pistachios and pat them dry. Roughly chop them.

Contributor Post by: Nikole

diy: bullet and wood necklace

We've had these bullet shell casings for a verrrry long time and had intended on making necklaces out of them for a very long time. Once we realized that we didn't have the right tools to drill a hole in the casing, we kind of just gave up. But then one day I decided I was going to figure it out. So this is what I did.
You will need: Jewelry tools, a bullet shell casing, some balsa wood, chain, jump rings, extra wire or one of those pin things up there (what are these called??), a lobster claw, xacto knife, e-6000 glue
Start by shaving off some of the wood in a haphazard way.
Make sure the piece of wood fits in the casing.
Shave off the end of the wood into a more pointed shape.
Spray paint the wood pieces.
Put some glue on the end of the wood.
Then put the wood back into the casing to stay.
Wrap your wire or pin around the indented part of the casing and round the end off.
Do the same with another pin and the attach the pins, on matching sides, with jump rings. This will ensure that the bullet will hang the right way when you wear it.
Cut the chain to the length you would like and loop it through the two jump rings.
Attach the lobster claw to one side of the chain with a jump ring and attach just a jump ring to the other side.
And voila! A fun little necklace.

xo, Savannah

recipe: dark chocolate irish coffee

Irish coffee isn’t something we drink every day, so it’s meant to be a bit indulgent. We’ve gone a step further and replaced the standard sugar with an even better substitute: dark chocolate syrup. It helps take some of the edge off. If you didn’t think you liked Irish coffee before, this version might change your mind.

So when you need some help powering through a long day of St. Patrick’s Day revelry, try this Dark Chocolate Irish Coffee for a caffeinated, chocolaty, boozy treat.
Dark Chocolate Irish Coffee
Makes 1 drink
1.5 oz Irish whiskey
1.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 tablespoon dark chocolate syrup
1 cup hot coffee
Whipped cream
optional garnish: chocolate shavings

Pour coffee into a heatproof cup. Add the dark chocolate syrup and stir to dissolve. Add the whiskey and Bailey’s. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle on some chocolate shavings.

Contributor Post by: Alyssa + Carla

how to: style a bookshelf

The charm and character of the built-in bookcase in our living room was one of the things that originally drew us to our apartment (even though it really limits the furniture orientation possibilities). I was overjoyed about the storage, but immediately the poor built-in was crammed with books I'd been collecting my whole life. I'm a proud English major, and the shelves were soon creaking under the weight of all this literature. 

Fast forward three years. The disorganization was driving my wife Kristie nuts, and my books were all collecting dust. There were college assignments, high school yearbooks, leftovers from my mom's book club, books I'd picked up at tag sales and flea markets. Lots of them I'd already read and I was keeping them for sentimental reasons -- don't get me wrong, a totally valid reason to keep a book. But maybe not necessarily a good reason to keep a hundred books. 

I was browsing Pinterest Sunday morning after breakfast and spotted the most beautiful stylized bookshelf. I wish I had a bookshelf I could do that to, I thought to myself, moments before glancing up at the veritable library in front of me. It was go time.
A few tips…

- If you start with a bookshelf crammed full like mine, take absolutely everything off the shelves and make piles. One (small) pile that will go back on the shelves; one to put into storage; one to try and sell on Amazon; and one to donate to a local prison or hospital.

- Do the same thing with the little knick-knacks that end up populating bookshelves. One pile that will be added back to the shelves; one to donate; and one to put away elsewhere.

- Give all the shelves a good cleaning. 
- Start adding items back, starting with your biggest books. Place a couple vertically against the sides, and some horizontally. (In our bookcase, the middle shelf is my favorite. I think it has enough diversity in arrangements to keep things interesting and still look full. The bottom shelf is home to the sound bar Kristie got for Christmas; she is ecstatic it finally has a home!)
- Put smaller books on top of or next to the big ones, creating an ascending or descending pattern respectively. This is the point where you can add framed pictures, toys, and vases back into the mix. Group small ones together, and allow others to stand on their own. Play around and try different arrangements until it feels right. I hung a DIY banner I made for Valentine's Day to help compensate for some of the blank space above the sound bar.

That's it! And while our bookshelf looked a little naked to me at first, it's so soothing to come home to less clutter. (I even styled the one in our kitchen right afterward!)

For more DIYs, recipes, and inspiration, visit the Homesteady.
Contributor Post by: Hannah