Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Celebration Cupcakes.

I've probably posted about this before... but I feel strongly enough about it that I feel like it deserves another mention.

I don't know if you know this about me... but I love to bake. Haha, kidding... I know you know. You're probably sick of hearing about it. I love baking for many reasons. It's creative. It's predictable and exact. It's frivolous. It's homemade. It's sharable. It's loving. Must I continue...

One of my favorite things about baking is that it's a way to celebrate with people. On Monday I brought in cupcakes to celebrate one of my co-workers' birthdays. Last year I baked someone an engagement cake to celebrate well, ... their engagement. This weekend I baked a pound cake to celebrate gaming playing (Ok... that one was a bit of a stretch.) And last night I baked some cupcakes for my co-worker so she would have a creative way to reveal her baby's gender to her family. It's an honor to help people celebrate such special times in their lives.

Below are the cupcakes. I got the idea to fill the cupcakes with the color of the gender from Iowa Girl Eats when she revealed her baby's gender. I made it a goal to make mine prettier than hers... No offense, IGE, but I think I win. (Thanks for the idea though!)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Anatomy of a Mantle Idea.

(Spring mantle.)

The way my brain works is quite random. I suppose no one's brain is that systematic but sometimes I think, "How in the world did you get here?" It works though... I wanted to do something new for the mantle to be spring-like and was looking for inspiration so where did I go other than... Pinterest. I started with the thought, "What do you think of when you think of spring? Flowers. Alright, let's go from there." And the rest is history...

I liked this idea of multiple vases with frames. Instead of buying real flowers (too temporary) or buying fake flowers (can be cheap looking) I decided to make my own.

I went to Design Seeds to find a unique color scheme to base my flowers on. I had this picture and headed to one of my favorite stores Paper Source to see if I could find some fun paper to make my own flowers with. (I ended up not using this color scheme exactly but it gave me something to go off of.)

I found this Poppies Flower Kit and decided it would be a good jumping point. Turns out I'm not as good at making paper flowers as I'd hoped but I made a few good ones. I tried to find other paper flower tutorials on Pinterest, but couldn't really find anything that great. So... I was left with a few good poppies. That can't fill a mantle...
Then I remembered seeing this cute garland on Pinterest. (You sick of hearing about Pinterest yet?) I could easily recreate that with some cute paper I had bought from Paper Source to originally make flowers with and yarn. Done and done.

But then I wanted to put some kind of words like, "Happy Spring!" or something. My mind went back to the first picture with frames on the mantle and this quote print above. And I thought, "I'll combine the two and make a quirky picture that says 'Happy Spring!'" Then my roommate Paige walks in and says, "We should keep this up longer than spring, it could go into summer... even fall." (I am still not sure if that means she really liked the design or she's sick of me changing things around. TBD.)

So I remembered seeing the above picture that just said, "hello" and liking it so I suggested that. Paige took it one step further and said, "How about 'hey y'all'?" They are from Texas and I just like using the word "y'all" so we went for it.

And that, my friends, is how a mantle is born. Below are some pictures of the finished result. Our spring (or summer, or even fall) mantle...
(The big picture.)

(Thrift store frame I had laying around with cardstock cut by yours truly.) 

(Paper Source Poppies.)

(Side angle.)

Hope you enjoyed your trip through the creative side of my brain.

Monday, March 25, 2013


(Valentine's Day: handmade heart garland.)

When we moved in to our house we had a couple of random wooden pallets laying around, so back in the fall we decided to experiment and put one on our mantle. "On your mantle?" you ask. Yes, yes we did. I thought we could throw some Christmas lights on there and jazz it up a bit and see where we could go from there...

Since then, the mantle has been an ever-changing design project. It's been really fun for me and my roommates are great to put up with me and my bouts of creativity. I like the idea of something that you can change regularly. It can totally transform the room into a different feel and I've managed to not spend too much on each design. First we started with a design for fall, moved on to Christmas, then Valentine's Day, and now spring! You'll have to wait til tomorrow to see the spring design (I know, I know... you're on the edge of your seat) but here are the designs so far.

(Fall: handmade pennants, pumpkins, and fabricy stuff.) 

 (Christmas: letters, pine cones, garland, and mini ornaments.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Handmade Cards.

Last weekend I went and visited my dear friends Valeria and Jonathan. They are my best friends from college and they got married in November. I've been wanting to visit them at their new place in St. Louis for quite some time and finally made it happen.

We had a great weekend. Valeria did a better job recapping the weekend on her blog than I ever could so you can check that out here. I wanted to send them a thank you card for the wonderful weekend and as you may know, I am kind of against buying cards (except for a couple of weeks ago when I was in a hurry and broke my rule and bought cards for Joel and Jessie after visiting in Austin... at least they weren't Hallmarks...) So I made my own! Nothing too grand or complicated... But I loved making it for them. And according to Valeria's Instagram, I think she liked receiving it too.

Moral of the story: I need to start making and sending out cards again. It makes me, the creator, happy, and it makes the receiver happy, too. So let's do it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Try-It Tuesday: Baked Brie.

Her picture looked better than mine...

I have had a few people ask me lately if I am still doing Try-It Tuesdays... Sadly, I've lost a bit of my desire to cook because it's not nearly as fun when you are cooking for one compared to four or more. I probably try a new recipe every other week or so though, so I am going to try to post about it more consistently.

Coincidentally enough, today is Tuesday and I just happened to try a new recipe! Two, in fact! I have seen recipes for baked brie all over the place and have wanted to try it but haven't really had the fancy occasion to bring it to. I think I mentioned it to my aunt Georgie once and she said something like, "Who needs an fancy occasion? Just make it. Your unca Dave and I would eat it!" So tonight we had a family get together and I did just that.

I had seen different ways to make baked brie and so I wanted to try out two tonight. One simple and another a tiny bit more complicated. The first way was basically brie cheese topped with apricot preserved, wrapped in frozen puff pastry (thawed), brushed with beaten egg, and baked at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. (There wasn't an official recipe for this one, I just kind of made it up based on recipes I've seen.) The second was the fancy one. It is called Cranberry and Pecan Brie En Croute. I saw this recipe on none other than Pinterest and it was what got me excited about baked brie in the first place. It was similar to the first in that it was brie wrapped in puff pastry but it had cranberries, cinnamon pecans, and brown sugar inside instead.

I served both at the same time with crackers, granny smith apples, honey crisp apples, and grapes. I asked my family which one they preferred and everyone agreed that the Cranberry and Pecan Brie En Croute was the winner. Apparently this time, the more complicated one paid off though I'd highly recommend both. If you are looking for an easy recipe to impress your friends, look no further. It has been found.

My much less appetizing of a picture.

Cranberry and Pecan Brie En Croute

A version similar to my Apricot Baked Brie

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Exchange, You and Me by Megan Leong.

My friend Megan is an artist. I love her work. It's bright, intriguing, creative... it's just good stuff. I've always wanted to buy a piece of Megan's but for her to be able to make money based on the hours she puts in they are a bit out of my price range unfortunately... Until now!

There is this site called Society6. In their words, "The artwork of Society6 is created by hundreds of thousands of artists around the world. When you buy a product from Society6, we produce it using only the highest quality materials, and ship it to you on behalf of the artist." Megan has put some prints of her work on this site and they are affordable and while not quite as great as the real thing, they come pretty darn close. I bought an iPhone case (above, obviously...) and a print below (below)!

I'm pretty excited to support Meg's work! I'd encourage you to check it out as well as the work of other artists on Society6. It's good stuff.

Shiny Buttons (Megan's site) on Society6. Go. Now!

Be Patient by Megan Leong.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Maple Frosted Cinnamon Rolls.

I was in charge of bringing cinnamon rolls for a family brunch this past weekend. My mom has an excellent cinnamon roll recipe but I wanted to try something a little bit different this time. I searched all of my favorite blogs and was debating between Joy the Baker's Chai-Spiced Cinnamon Rolls and Pioneer Woman's Maple Frosted Cinnamon Rolls. I'm a big fan of chai, but I wasn't sure if the rest of the world was, so I went with Pioneer Woman's recipe.

The recipe yields "8 servings." I was concerned that that wouldn't be enough for our family get together but I kept reading... 8 cups of flour. 8 cups. That's a lot... That's 1 cup per serving. (I know, I'm real good at math.) That can't be right. Turns out 1 serving is 8 cinnamon rolls. That's 64 cinnamon rolls. (My math skills continue...) That's a lot of cinnamon rolls! I decided to go ahead and go with it so I could give some away.

So I did. I made lots. It pretty much took up my whole Friday night but it was SO worth it. The cinnamon rolls were so good. I'm not saying that because I'm good. I'm saying that because Pioneer Woman is good. I think maple frosting is one of the best things in the world. Drench cinnamon rolls in it and you pretty much have heaven in a pan. I got to love on some people by surprising them with cinnamon rolls too... Cinnamon rolls. Maple frosting. Loving on people. It was pretty great all around.

Pioneer Woman's Maple Frosted Cinnamon Rolls. Do it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Austin: My Second Favorite City.

(A view of Austin from Mount Bonnell.)

I had a trip planned to go to Austin to visit my brother Joel and friend Jessie and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. I left two feet of snow on the ground to be greeted by blue skies and 60 degree weather. It was a great weekend... I had a great time with Joel. I had a great time with Jessie and her family. I ate a lot of good foods. I saw some pretty sights. I enjoyed the beautiful weather... But let me show you a few pictures. They are better at telling a story than I can ever tell...

(Lunch on Friday with Joel. Apparently Sandra Bullock owns this place or something.)

(Green macarons. Green is my color of the month (yes, I'm still doing that 
photo project just haven't posted the pictures on here. ))

(The view from 360 Overlook.)

(Made it to Jessie's... check out this cool guy's glasses.)

(Zilker Kite Festival.)

(Ran in to this cute girl there... For some reason I have pictures of two 
of Jessie's kids, but none of her... or Joel... strange.)

(Coffee and reading on a nice day while Joel was in class.)

What a great weekend... And what I great city. I love Austin.