Friday, October 14, 2011

Painting with a Twist

Hola mis amigos!  Quiero te hablar de mi noche al "Painting with a Twist"!  Just kidding I'm not going to type my post in least not yet!  I'll give you (and me) some time to brush up on your Espanol.

I would like to share some pictures I took while I was out with a dear friend of mine, Christine, at Painting with a Twist.
It was supposed to be a group of ladies from my church but several were not able to make it so Chris and I enjoyed the evening out ourselves and now we get to gloat about how much fun we had and the awesome paintings we came away with. Ha!  That'll teach you not to miss out on fun things like this next time!  I'm just teasing.  I am very sorry that the others were not able to join us and I hope we can do this again sometime because it was a very enjoyable evening.

What is Painting with a Twist?  It's a studio that offers "Sessions" where you pay for a seat and they provide the paint, canvas, apron, brushes and step by step instructions from a real professional artist to help you paint the picture of the evening!  There are tons of pictures to choose from and they have a calendar up on their website that allows you to see what they are painting on certain days.  It's a great concept!  And they offer private parties where you can choose which painting you'd like the party to do!  They allow you to bring beverages and appetizers of your choice to help "lighten" the mood.  Christine had her coffee and brought crispy date bonbons!  Yummy!  I had a pumpkin spice latte and brought my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!!  Woohoo!

Here is a quick glimpse of our evening!
Little Miss Arteest all ready to paint a masterpiece!
Our piece for the evening was Midnight Cherry Blossoms.
First the moon!  That's mine to the left of hers.
Then, the "midnight" sky.
This is mine.  Chris was still working on her sky.

Uh oh, there must have been a booboo because Chris asked the instructor for help.  ;-)  They are very good with helping you if you get stuck or can't quite figure out how to get the look you want.  I think his OCD kicked in because he spent a few long minutes working on this.  Christine was being so patient and studying his strokes.

There we go!  Good job Christine!  Ahem!
Good job Natalia!  Hehe.

Here's mine with the branches and blossoms.  I made my branches a bit too horizontal so it looks sideways but I promise this is how it's supposed to go!

I think Christine's OCD kicked in too when she got to the blossoms.  We stayed an extra 30 minutes after just so she could finish.  She was super serious about her flowers.  Love ya' Christine!

This is the studio.  It's a fun atmosphere.  Everyone talks and laughs while we're painting.


This was the entire class that evening.

Here's Christine and me with our masterpieces!  Thank you so much Chris for sharing this evening with me!  I had a great time!  Love you lady! 

Oh!  And thanks a whole bunches for getting my car unlocked even after you had dropped me off at home!  You and your ninja friend were a life saver! ;-)

So if you're looking for something different to do for a couples or ladies' night out this is definitely worth it!  'Til next time...

As always, be blessed, thanks for stopping by and leave some love!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins...just in time for Fall!

Hey everyone!  So I wake up one morning and it!  As in weather.  Not as in, "wow. I'm waking up and this feels cool" kind of cool, cuz that would be kind of weird and awkward.  Yeah.

Pumpkins!  Chocolate!  That's what I was getting to!  I wake up and the weather is feeling cooler outside and the tiny baker that lives in my mind says, "HEY!"  Okay, that was more of a holler but still...she says, "Hey!  Remember those awesome Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins you made last year?" "Go on.." I say.  " How about we make those today!" "Oooo, yeah.  Let's!" thats me.

After searching for my recipe that I received from a Creative Memories lady MANY years ago I rummage through my pantry to see what else I would need to complete my ingredient list.  Lo and behold, all I need is...pumpkin!  So I run my little toosh to the grocery store and grab mamma some canned pumpkin.  I don't use fresh pumpkin because...well, that's just crazy to waste so much time cutting and cleaning and pureeing the pulp and I feel it would discredit all the work others have done to prepare the pumpkin beforehand for people like me who bake on a whim.  Right.  So, canned pumpkin and back home to prepare these oh so scrumdidalyumptious treats that I plan to have ready when the boys get home and allow them to taste of my masterpiece.  I've already worked it out in my mind to not tell my eldest that it has pumpkin because he'd just make a face and ask if it tastes good then proceed to ask me to make some without pumpkin. (breathe)

When I started gathering my ingredients to mix I actually remembered to grab my camera and take some "play by play" pics of the whole process.  Your welcome.  Complete recipe will be at the bottom.

Here are all the ingredients you'll need.
Doesn't that look pretty?  I thought so.

First, mix sugar, eggs and oil

Second, pumpkin and water.
Yeah, doesn't look the best but THIS is the magic!

Next, your flour and spices...
and everything nices. ;-)

Last, the other part of the magic, the chocolate!
I use Semisweet or Extra Semisweet if you're cool like that.





The magic is complete!  I'm getting misty-eyed just thinking about how beautiful a union this is.  Sniff, sniff.

"Well, what'd your eldest think?" you ask.  He got home and asked if there was anything to snack on so I told him, with a loving mother smile, "there are muffins in the kitchen." "Awesome!" was his reply.  He runs to the kitchen, grabs a muffin, notices the chocolate and exclaims, "Oooo, chocolate!"  Takes a big bite and says..............."It tastes different. Is there carrot in these?"  Alas, I cannot pull the wool over my son's eyes!  So I tell him, "no sweetheart, it's not carrot it's pumpkin.  "Oh, wow!  These taste pretty good!  Thanks mom, you're the best!"  Melt. My. Heart.  Mission accomplished.

These are really easy and if you have never tried something like this, let me tell you, you have not lived yet!  They are so yummy and evoke such a wonderful feeling of comfort and fall and the holidays to come!  I hope you give them a try.  You'll be extremely glad you did!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
3/4 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Vegetable, Canola or Olive Oil
3 Eggs
3/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin
1/4 Cup Water
1 1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Semisweet Chocolate chips, more to top (optional)

Fill 12 cupcake liners and bake in a preheated 400 degrees F oven for 20-25 min.  Enjoy!

As always, be blessed, thanks for stopping by and leave some love (comments)! :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quinoa Salad

So...this is not a cake post but I think you'll still want to read it.  Because (I know you're not supposed to start a sentence with that but this is my post not an english teacher's), it's about a delicious recipe...(see above title).  Yep!  Quinoa.  It's spoken KEEN-wah.  These are the two brands that I have purchased.
I don't remember the exact cost but it's around $3 a box.  The cooking instructions are very easy and when I say easy I mean EASY.  I could say it's as easy as rice but it took me a few tries to cook rice without scorching it so...yeah.  You dump the package in a pot cover with water.  I used to measure it the first couple of times but now I just dump and cover (with water).  Then, "just like rice", bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10-12 min or until water is absorbed.  I just turn it to low and leave it for about 15 or so, usually until I'm done chopping what I put in it.  "What do you put in it?" you ask?  Well, let me tell you! (images are not my own.)

While it's simmering I chop... a garlic clove, a coupe of tomatoes...
a cucumber (pretend there's a pic of chopped cucumber), purple onion,

a bunch of parsley and Feta!

Then you add Olive oil, salt, pepper and Lemon juice!  All to your taste!

That's it!  You can serve it warm or cold.  It will keep in the fridge and is a great afternoon snack!  Enjoy!

As always...God bless, leave some love and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Airplane Shower Cake

Hello friends!  I know I haven't said much the past couple of weeks but I'll blame that on still trying to figure out my new schedule and on not having much to say lately.  Actually I've been feeling particularly quiet.  Not sure why that is but I think sometimes it just needs to be.  Remember...Silence is Golden!

My latest creation was for a baby shower this past weekend.  The theme was Aviator and I suggested using the colors of orange, light blue and navy.  Then I decided to do silver too and the navy turned into more of a brighter blue.  The concept was to have an airplane on top of the cake which was the sky with clouds around it and a banner.

I love working with this particular customer, who has placed orders before, because she pretty much let's me design whatever I want.  LOVE those kind of customers.  Not because I can do whatever but because that shows they trust my creativity and eye for design when dealing with a cake.

So here's the finished product which, honestly, turned out much cuter than I initially thought.  I love it when that happens too!  It's a vanilla buttermilk cake with a white chocolate raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.  Yeah, try saying that three times fast!  Actually, don't, just eat'll be glad you did.

I also made little orange and blue propellors for some cupcakes for the kiddos.  Those turned out pretty cute too but we'll just pretend that I have a pic of those, mmmkay.

If I happen to come up with something else exciting to share I'll be sure to let you know.   Until next time...

As always, God bless, leave some love and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Car Cake

I'm gonna leave you with a short post today about the car cake that I made last weekend for an MBA Grad.

This is the first car cake I have done and let me just be honest with you...I learned A LOT!  It didn't come out exactly how I wanted and I had some support issues with the back end.  To put it plainly this was "supposed" to be a Corvette cake but because I had trouble with some of the body styling...curves, lines and what not, it's just a car cake...with a Corvette emblem.  Go easy on me but I would appreciate some creative criticism.

The cake itself was chocolate with vanilla buttercream and everyone actually seemed to really enjoy eating it.  If you took pictures at the event of the cake and don't mind sharing them with me I'd really appreciate it!

This cake weighed about 70 pounds so it was difficult for me to move it to a more suitable backdrop for pictures.  I just had to take it on my counter. :-)  It ended up being 24" long, 10" wide and 8"high.  A BIG cake!

The front.

The back.

It turned out lumpier than I wanted.  It was just a difficult first time cake overall.  I was glad to have the opportunity and the customer seemed super happy with it!  So there you have it.  

As always, God bless, leave some love and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Niece's Dedication

So, the weekend we get back from our little summer vacation I have a cake due for my sweet cupcake, Kylee.  She's my niece and she is as cute as a button!
Don't you think?!
These incredibly adorable pictures were taken by, the very talented, Melissa Pickens Photography
My favorite!  The Owl Cap
My other favorite...Flowers & Pearls
...AND my other favorite, Diva Peacock Hiney!

See...I told you Melissa was good.  Actually I think she is having a sale this week so if you need pics taken this is the time to do them!

Back to my niece.  She is something else!  I absolutely love her guts!  So, anyhoo, she was being dedicated and of course I had to make her a cake.  We decided to go with a design that mimicked her handmade dedication gown that was made by her, Nonna, my MIL.  Nonna is pretty awesome too!  I can honestly say I love my in-laws!  I could not have prayed for better.

Here is, Kylee, in her gown.
No.  She's not that tall.  In case you were wondering but how about that gown!  Isn't it gorgeous!

With her favorite Auntie and Uncle...

Auntie getting sugars!

Here is her cake.

I think it turned out quite nice since I have little experience in piping.  This gave me good practice and helped me to see where I need to improve and that I need practice!  The family had a great time hanging out afterwards since we met for lunch and had the cake then.  God bless our little cupcake.

Did you celebrate a special occasion recently?  I'd love to hear about it!

As always...God bless, leave some love and thanks for stopping by.

Our Crazy Summer...

I realize I haven't posted in a while.  But I'm not apologizing because I told you this would happen.  So here I am again to catch you up on what's been going on in my neck of the woods.

First let's start with the kiddo's summer.  To put it plainly, this has been a LONG summer!!!!!!!!!!!  I am ecstatic (and that hardly expresses my inner emotions) that they are back in school...WOOOHOOO!!!!!!

I mean, I love my boys, you know I do, but for some reason this summer has been unexpectedly overwhelming.  I think it might have a bit to do with the drought situation.  It just worsens the extreme temps and if you are not IN the pool it's not very enjoyable and, really, there are just so many days you can spend at the pool!  The other days are spent trying to occupy the boys at home with new books or movies on Netflix,  playing outside with friends when it's bearable, drawing, playing video games (that I insist on limiting), and pretty much trying to keep each other from killing one another and me from pulling all of my hair out!  Whew!  Like I said, It's been one tough summer!

So what else have we done during these long, hot days?  Pretty much nothing until a couple weeks ago when we got to borrow a friends condo in Galveston to hang out at for a few days.  It was a MUCH needed change of scenery and pace!
Ahhh!  That's more like it!

This too!  I could get used to this!

We went to the beach...everyday!

For 3 days!
We ate out.
We ate in. Keeping it easy of course!
We got dessert!
We rode the ferry.  Which the boys loved and we even saw a few porpoises.
We visited the Train Museum.  Corban's and my favorite!
We had a great time and made some memories!  We will definitely be doing this again...soon.

So now "we're" back in school and all is right with the world again.  My youngest is going full-time this year as well so that means I have the majority of the days to myself now.  I wish I could say that I now have "free" time but I'm far from it!  I have a house to try and clean and organize from the summer chaos, cakes to make, I'm PTO Secretary this year, assisting with school/class activities, helping hubby with The Woodlands Marathon, training for a couple of races AND organizing events for my church's women's group!  So amidst these responsibilities I hope to occasionally grab lunch with a friend, get a pedicure, do a bit of window shopping and maybe real shopping, catch a movie with my free tickets that I won and just have some chill time!

How about you?  What did you do to keep your sanity, make memories or pass time?  Are glad school is starting or does it throw a kink in schedule?  I'd love to hear from you guys!

As always...God Bless, leave some love and thanks for stopping by!