Vanilla Blackberry Cupcakes

You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you click on an amazing looking recipe on Pinterest only to see that it is going to take 3 days and about a thousand ingredients you don’t have to make it? I hate that.

This recipe is not one of those recipes! It’s super easy and they are so yummy. Mind you it’s nothing fancy but I think of it as the difference between a white plastic straw and those colorful striped paper straws. They both do the same thing and neither is difficult but one is definitely cuter than the other.

Anyone can make vanilla cupcakes and slather on some store bought icing, right? This is were the colorful paper straws break away from the boring white plastic straws.

Make the cupcakes using a box of yellow cake mix. While they are cooling make this vanilla spin-off of my Mom’s frosting recipe.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting

3 C powdered sugar

1/3 C softened butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 T milk

Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed with mixer to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. Add food coloring to desired shade.

If you have a frosting bag with attachments, good for you. If not, put the frosting in a gallon Ziploc bag and cut 1/4-1/2 inch off the corner. Now you can frost like a pro.

The secret to frosting a cupcake is to start in the middle with a swirl then jet out to the edge and swirl your way back to the center. This helps give the frosting a little lift. Once you have frosted all the cupcakes place a blackberry on top!

Easy – like I promised.

That’s life with Mr. Layland & Me!

Wine Bottle Planter

Wine Bottle Planter

Some projects turn out much better in your head than they do in real life. This project was definitely that sort of project. It was the project that would not die, the project that would not end and by the time it was over I vowed never to do anything like it again.


Rather than simply recycling your wine bottles, consider repurposing one to create a one-of-a-kind plant container.

It looks pretty simple, right? And I’m sure with an electric, professional grade glass cutter, it is! I tried a few ways to get this result including the good ole soak-yarn-in-acetone-and-light-it-on-fire method. Not the most effective method but definitely the one with the most flames.

My deadline was coming up and I was out of options so I came up with a new project. The Mosaic Wine Bottle Planter. Instead of trying to make one clean cut I improvised and here’s what I came up with:


  • Wine bottle
  • Glass Cutter
  • Safety goggles
  • Hammer
  • Gallon bag
  • Sharpie
  • Super glue
  • Mod Podge
  • Sandpaper
  • Cork or rubber studs
  • Small rocks
  • Potting soil
  • Succculents


  1. Draw an oval lengthwise along the front of the wine bottle with a sharpie.
  2. Put on your safety goggles. Use the glass cutter to score the bottle following the black line. The glass is thick, so you will need to go over the line a few times until you create a small track.
  3. Place the wine bottle in the gallon bag and close it. I would suggest going outside on a grassy area for this next step.
  4. With the wine bottle still in the plastic bag, hit it with the hammer. One firm hit should shatter the bottle. Try to keep the pieces as big as possible.
  5. Take out the biggest pieces first and super glue them back together, adding the smaller pieces to fill in the holes creating a mosaic look. Be sure to leave out any pieces from the inside of the circle where your plants will be. If a piece didn’t break along the line and you have excess glass, hit that piece individually to make it smaller.
  6. Let dry 30 minutes.
  7. The edges will be uneven so use sand paper to smooth them out.
  8. Coat the bottle with Mod Podge to seal the cracks and keep the bottle shiny.
  9. If you still have the cork, you can cut it in half and glue the pieces to each side of the bottle to keep it from rolling. You can also use two marbles or tow stick-on rubber stubs.
  10. When using the bottle for planting, make sure to place a layer of small rocks or pebbles at the bottom so the roots don’t sit in water. Any plant you use should have shallow roots and need minimal watering.

Once your mosaic wine bottle planter is complete, you should be able to repot your shallow-root plants an display them in your windowsill to enjoy all summer long.

It was an experience, that’s for sure. Thanks to the Arizona heat I ended up having to re-do the same bottle.

Once was good enough for me.

The picture in this post was featured with my article in Green Living and is from I know you’re curious how mine turned out but the good version was never photographed and the second version…well let’s just say this picture gives you what we like to call the right idea.