Category: cupcake related

Friday Fifteen: we’re back, and it’s SPRINGTIME!

Pink African violet in the sunshine.

Time to dust off all the old pots and fill ’em with new soil! Get those seeds ready! And break out the f*&!#in’ lemonade… It’s SPRING! And I am so excited.

This year I’m starting the year off with my garden bed all ready, and my yard all resodded. Is that a word? Anyway, yes, the garden. My little babes are growing like weeds. So far we have: Globe tomatoes, Pickler’s Hybrid and Pickling cucumbers, Baby Leaf Catalina Spinach, sugar snap peas, jalapeño, and Wild Arugula as well as chives, chocolate mint, sweet mint, and lemon balm. We’re currently  planning our garden bed extension, which will be to the left of the current one and will hold just as much, but be a different shape. You’ll just have to wait & see it! Also we will be creating a separate area for our cucumbers, since last year they got just a lil bit cray cray. Just a lil.

I haven’t done one of these since November, so I thought it was time.

Friday Fifteen: Spring | Sunny screened-in back porch.

 

1. As you (most likely) know, I got married April 3rd of this year! So I am currently celebrating one month and five days of being married… plus 12 years, 9 months and 27 days of being together. Ha. So on that note, I LOVE these invites/thank you’s from Royal Steamline. I loved my invites, and I still think they’re the coolest ever, but these are pretty freakin’ cool. Speaking of which, pictures to come, I swear!
2. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend bought us a ton of awesome stuff of our Crate & Barrel registry, including a bunch of barbecue items, like this corn griller basket. I can’t wait to make this grilled corn with chili butter recipe using it!
3. I want these spring rolls. Now, plz.
4. Being that the image above is of the potting bench Jay made me last year, I think it’s fitting that I link to a how-to on making a shed to house your garden tools.
5. And, in that same vein, here’s a how-to on starting a garden from seed, and a link explaining how to save the seeds from vegetables. Awesome instructionals!
6. If you, too, are growing cucumbers, then you’re going to need to browse the ‘pickles’ category. And if it’s your first time growing them- trust me.
7. I’m seriously into browsing vintage and antique rings lately; mainly the settings and details because of a project I’m planning for my mother’s engagement ring (that she gave me when I turned 21). The best inspiration can be found at Trumpet & Horn and Leigh Jay Nacht.
8. I love DIY projects, and I love a good cocktail… so why not make some fancy tumblers?
9. I found this awesome tutorial for a glowing table, and now I want one! But my question is: does the glowing powder come in a color other than blue?
10. Cilantro-Chile vinaigrette. All day.
11. And HOMEMADE SAMOAS?!? ARE YOU SERIOUS???
12. I’m in loooooove with this Anthropologie dress. Oh, man. So spring-y and girly yet the black gives it a little edge and oomph.
13. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (which is also why I’m putting it towards the end on our list), but Ask A Mortician on YouTube is incredibly interesting, funny and thought-provoking. So I’m throwing it out there… because really, its something we should all just face & come to terms with… and yes, maybe sometimes laugh at. Caitlin Doughty is very good at what she does and definitely manages to make it accessible and less scary-morbid.
14. I love these cedar planters. LOVE THEM. Now I need some (maybe brightly painted ?) wooden planters… *cough*Jay*cough*
15. And don’t forget- Sunday, May 10th is Mother’s Day here in the U.S.! Here’s a few pictures of the cupcakes I made for my mom. “Paris” cupcake liners & toppers by Meri Meri (they no longer make this one). In case you didn’t know, she’s a huuuuge Francophile! 

Mother's Day "Paris" cupcakes.Mother's Day "Paris" cupcakes.Mother's Day "Paris" cupcakes!Paris-themed Mother's Day cupcakes.(photo edit/HB1 filter by VSCOCAM, gold-rimmed plate- vintage Pyrex “flamingo” dinnerware)

 

Je T’aime, Momma Dukes, and to my new mother-in-law, and to all you lovely ladies who have procreated. And thank you on behalf of your (perhaps sometimes ungrateful) children.

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

A vintage NYE! (click through for NYE recipes)

Well it’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, as Dick Clark would say. In just a few short hours, 2014 will be here. In case you’re lacking recipe ideas for today, I figured I’d give you some. Consider it a belated Christmas gift. Most of them require nothing more than a bottle of champagne & a quick run to the grocery store.

  • Champagne parfaits: A delicious & easy “champagne jell-O” that takes absolutely no time to make. A grown-up jell-O shot, if you will. Click here for the recipe.
  • Champagne jelly: Excellent melted on roast chicken, or as a topping on a chicken sandwich. And also excellent with cheese on crackers. But I’m sure you can come up with other uses! Recipe can be found here. (FYI: these jars were also a 2011 Well Preserved Pimp That Preserve winner!)
  • Champagne cupcakes: No explanation needed! Champagne cupcakes with sweet champagne frosting. Get the details right here.

This year I knew I wouldn’t be around; I’m presently packing to go to Connecticut. Jay is playing a show tonight at The Webster in Harftord, so I’m going with him. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.. so therefore no NYE recipes for me this year. Boo hoo. But also kind of exciting- it’s the first time he’s been off for NYE since 2009! And that means it’s also literally a New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

I hope you all have a fantastic New Year’s Eve, and an even better 2014. See you next year…

Happy New Year... A NYE recipe compilation! And most things don't even require more than an extra bottle of bubbly.

Happy, happy, happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Last minute ideas are right this way...

Ahh. Well, it’s the big day. Halloween! Hopefully you’ve got your costumes & treats all sorted by now. But just in case…

If you’re in need of some (pretty fast & easy) last minute ideas:

▪ Pumpkin muffins made from the cut out jack-o-lantern pieces ▪ Roasted pumpkin seeds ▪ Spiced brown sugar pumpkin seeds ▪ Halloween candy cupcakes ▪ Pumpkin cupcakes with whipped cream frosting ▪ Spiderweb cupcakes ▪

If you want something a bit more… dramatic, try these:

Dexter’s blood spatter cupcakes ▪ True Blood velvet cupcakes ▪ Black velvet cupcakes with hand-painted white chocolate sugar skulls ▪ Monster cake balls ▪ Chocolate stout cupcakes with white chocolate “bones” ▪

And before you go… here are my jack-o-lanterns for this year! Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas & a kitty, hanging out on the stairs.

My jack-o-lanterns this year!

Be good to all those little creeps that knock on your door tonight.

See you in November, my little monsters!

 

 

The wicked witch of the cupcake.

Vintage postcard: flying witches.

Yeah. That’s right. Today we’re talking about witches. Because in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s October, and that means one thing to me: Halloween.

Ohh, Halloween. My favorite time of year. The leaves changing (hopefully) & crunching beneath my boots, the air getting brisker, the wind kicking up. The costumes & makeup start appearing in stores earlier & earlier nowadays, but I reserve my Halloween excitement for the first week in October. I refuse to do ANYTHING Halloween-related before October 1st. Yes, it’s my favorite holiday & yes, I’m excited. But it’s like buying Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving; it’s just wrong to me. I’ll wait until October to celebrate Halloween… & I’ll wait until December 1st for Christmas, thanks.

That being said, I was super psyched to post this little cupcake topper how-to. I couldn’t wait any longer! I didn’t come up with this idea myself (unfortunately) but I did somewhat modify it from the original directions. I did that because I didn’t have matching mini cupcake liners & regular liners. I don’t do many mini cupcakes, so I never buy the liners. I adapted the directions to suit me & my materials, and with just a little bit more work put in I think they look just as cute. Ladies & germs, I give you…

Cupcake…

liner…

witches’

hats!

Easy DIY witch hat cupcake toppers made from cupcake liners!

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Internet inspiration: cupcake liner storage.

There are a couple of things I’ve learned over the past few years that I honestly never would have thought of nor realized if it weren’t for this wonderful thing we call the internet. They aren’t really important things, not for the most part, but I thought I’d share them with you just the same.

  • The internet taught me that not everyone who CAN make a website SHOULD. Yellow text is just never acceptable.
  • Pinterest taught me that there are a shit ton of alfredo chicken pasta recipes & enchilada recipes- everyone’s husband LOVES them & all of them are “top rated”! (are they really, though?)
  • Pinterest also taught me most people do not buy Ball® jars to preserve food. Silly me.
  • Facebook has taught me the most unattractive people love to post the most photos of themselves. Usually in “da club.” Usually drinking. Usually wearing inappropriate clothing for their weight/age/etc.
  • Facebook also taught me that people who didn’t like me in HS want to be my friend now, after not seeing or speaking to me for 13 years. Strange isn’t it?
  • Instagram taught me I really, really, really love to see what other people are eating & drinking. Maybe too much.
  • Instagram also taught me that there are chicks who do that “duck face” thing seriously, not joking. Woops.
  • Twitter has taught me that I like people better when they’re limited to only 140 characters.
  • Twitter also taught me that people still prefer to follow rather than lead. (whoa- DEEP THOUGHTS)
  • Blogs taught me that everyone thinks they’re funny, clever, and either a professional photographer, makeup artist or chef.
  • Blogs also taught me that most of them are none of the above.

But one of the most important things I’ve learned- aside from the fact that there are a lot of really cool people out there, who sadly, do not live anywhere near me- is that anything you want to do, or things you’ve never dreamed of doing (particularly involving the re-use of every day household items)… the instructions on how to do these things are all right at your fingertips.

And so I made these.

DIY cupcake liner storage that's display worthy! Made using mason jars & chalkboard paint.My chalkboard-writing skills only apply to larger pieces… obviously…

I have a problem with pretty cupcake liners. I always have, really, but before I baked it wasn’t as big of an issue. Before I baked, I’d see them in a store & say “Oh how cute!” then I’d promptly pass them by and pick up a frozen pizza & a bag of Totino’s pizza rolls. But once I started using them it became a thing. I bought so many I had nowhere to actually put them. For awhile, I had some out on a few cupcake & cake stands, but they were getting dirty & dusty from being in the middle of all that kitchen-witchery. So then I bought plastic shoeboxes at Bed Bath & Beyond. And I filled those up real quick, but they got overloaded and in the process began crinkling & eventually ruining the shape of my beautiful liners. Wahhh.

What’s a girl to do?

(Psst… I’m sharing this with you because if you’re here reading this, you might very well have the same problem.)

So one day I was browsing Pinterest, as one is wont to do, and I happened upon this. Genius. Why didn’t I think of that?

Well actually, I had, but I thought of it using Ball jars; and you see, based on what jars I had at my disposal I realized that regular mouth jars aren’t wide enough, and aside from that… pint jars are a bit too shallow and don’t hold as many as you’d like. But this time it just so happens that when I saw that pin, I had literally just finished cleaning out & de-labeling two 25 oz. Victoria pasta sauce jars. And as I scrubbed them I was wondering what exactly I was going to use them for. I had already made candy jars out of old sauce jars, so I didn’t want to do that again (a girl can only have so many candy jars).

Cupcake liner storage jars!

And so there I am, washing these jars & seeing this pin on Pinterest. And like I said, I had all these pretty liners… all wasted by being hidden away… it just made sense. So I made some cupcake liner storage jars out of ’em! The Victoria jars are the PERFECT SIZE for this. Basically, you need a jar with a mouth opening of around 3″ in order to accommodate the liners comfortably. And it should be a pint & a half at least in order to make it worthwhile- you really can’t fit many in a pint jar. It just so happens the Victoria jars are 6″ high (not including lid) with a 3″ wide mouth. Wide mouth quart-sized Ball or Kerr jars would probably work as well.

The thing with these is that there really isn’t any “tutorial” involved- just get jars that the liners fit into without getting squished, and do whatever you want with them. I painted the lids with black Martha Stewart acrylic chalkboard paint (2 coats), and put chalkboard label stickers on the front. This way, if you wanted to split the liners according to holiday or color, use the labels or chalkboard lids to mark them; i.e. “Christmas”, “pink”, “stripes”, etc. The chalkboard paint comes in just about every color you can imagine, so you can match your appliances, your KitchenAid, your kitchen, you name it.

Done. Counter-ready, aesthetically pleasing cupcake liner storage, at your service!

 

*And if you wanna make some more “Pinterest Projects”, head on over to textdrivebys.com and check out my other DIY posts.

Chocolate bunnies are always a good fall-back plan.

Just in case you aren’t aware, I’ve been busy lately. Really busy. And on top of that? I got wicked sick last week and I was in bed for about 6 days with something way worse than your average cold but just short of bronchitis. It was gross. Jay had a milder version of it the week before, and try as I might to avoid getting it, I was walloped. And boy was it a fucking doozy! Even when I could finally get out of bed after 6 days, I was still a mess & a half. And it really set me back; blog wise, too. There just wasn’t enough time this year between St. Patrick’s Day & Easter for me to plan anything unique, not to mention then I got hit with this stupid germ-fest. Really- I had no energy at all, I was still coughing & my nose was running like a faucet (and still is as I type this) and I just couldn’t come up with anything original or fun. I was at a loss. I was like a zombie.

I had just enough inspiration when dying my Easter eggs to come up with this: HTML hex code eggs! (for those of you uninitiated into the world of HTML, here’s an explanation as to what the hell that means).

I know, I know. I’m a geek. And it was very easy; just dye half your eggs. You can use any type of dye you want: natural dyes, food coloring dyes, Kool-Aid dyes, Paas or Dudley… there’s an HTML hex code to match any shade & any color. When they’re dry, find the HTML code that matches from this very comprehensive chart and write it with a thin black Sharpie, or if you’re more anal-retentive, print out decals on decal paper to stick on. Ta da! It’s a spin off of those Pantone Easter eggs that are everywhere right now. So anyway- that was my lone inspiration this year. The only spark that came to me.

But as far as baking goes? I had no idea. Even the almighty Pinterest wasn’t helping.

Then I saw a little bag of chocolate bunnies I had bought and never opened, and I figured, hey- those are always a good thing to fall back on! Who doesn’t love itty bitty chocolate bunnies? Especially when on top of cupcakes?

No, it isn’t very “different” and it probably isn’t going to go viral on Pinterest. But you know what? I DON’T CARE. Maybe it’ll give you an idea, or at the very least reassure you that a regular ol’ cupcake is just fine for Easter. Or maybe not. Maybe you can commiserate. Or maybe you’ll click the x in the corner & travel on over to a blog with better, cuter, more “original” ideas this year. Lord knows there are plenty.

Whatever you do, I hope you see that that’s pretty much the entire point of this blog. That you don’t have to be perfect or come up with “the next big thing” in order to have fun in the kitchen.

Who cares if you make 16 pints of plain ol’ strawberry jam just because it’s your favorite? No, it isn’t glamorous nor will it garner collective oohs & aahs from the blog world. But it’s your thing. Who cares if you like pound cake, and you make it 6 billion times a year? It’s nothing new but does that mean it isn’t delicious? Hell no! So what if I can’t come up with anything better than cupcakes with tiny chocolate bunnies on top. Who’s going to bitch about it? Nobody, really. Except me.

But see, this is my dilemma. I want to encourage you to cook, bake, experiment, eat homemade when you can, and to put effort into your meals. I want you to not be afraid of the kitchen. I want you to feel good about what you put on your plates, both visually and taste-wise, and create something NEW. Because you deserve to not be ashamed that it’s shriveled up overcooked chicken & instant microwave rice for the fourth night in a row. I want to empower you to bake from scratch & not feel that you can’t do a fancy frosting technique because it’s too hard. I want you to know that you can make a cake from scratch and not have it take ALL DAY. I want you to try making cake pops or canning and not feel like it’s beyond you. But on the other hand, like I said above I feel as though I’m part of a culture (food blogging) that’s pushing people towards perfection… and perfection that can never be achieved, at that. Which is why I will never have fake backdrops, or photographers backgrounds, or light boxes or professional lights just to take photos of cake. Never. You can count on that. Yes, I have a “fancy shmancy” brand-spankin’ new DSLR. And yes, I love it & I love the photos it takes. But trust me: you’ll always see my real house in the background. My real stove. My real counters, etc. Maybe a pet running around (if my photo editing skills are particularly lousy that week). The pots are mine, purchased by me. It will always be real. I will never phony it up just for a good photo op. All of those plates, napkins, tea towels, cake stands, etc? They’re really mine. Not just a one-off bought for a photograph. This is my real life. I buy plates because I use them. I buy tea towels because they’re pretty & I always loved them, even in my pre-blogging days. I like pretty napkins & cake stands & that hasn’t changed. My fresh flowers? I buy those because I like having them in the house, not just for pictures. And as far as plates or cutlery? Most of my things are vintage, anyway, and from my family… so they’ve always been here. I didn’t go out & buy them to impress anyone on the internet when posting a photo of food. But most importantly- it’s real in that it’s what I do because I love it. Not because I’m rolling in dough from it. I genuinely LOVE doing this blog.

So, see, I want to empower you with all of that knowledge, but at the same time deliver you content that you deserve, and show you that you do not have to be perfect or have the perfect kitchen. So when I fall behind or when I don’t meet those standards, I feel bad. When I shouldn’t. Because I know you’re all grown-ups and you understand that blogging does not equal my job or my entire life. I know you understand that I’m a human being, I get sick & I have other obligations & other things going on… that maybe this blog would have to take a backseat to. I’m not a blogging machine or a baking machine. I know you understand all that. It does make it sting a little less when I get “stuck” to know that you all get it.

And that also you understand that sometimes, a simple dark chocolate cupcake with a store-bought chocolate bunny on top will just have to do. Recipe for the cupcakes can be found here, recipe for the frosting can be found here (I colored it violet).

Happy Easter, Happy Eostre, Happy Passover, Happy Spring or happy whatever it is you celebrate.