Saturday, July 19, 2014

Insta-test

Excuse me while I do a little Insta-test to learn.  :)

Kate Middleton and I have the same moccasins.  I believe this makes us true sole sisters!
#shoes #shoesoftheday #shoestagram #katemiddleton #hydrangeas #tote #totebag #totebags #jcrew @jcrew #sabago

Friday, July 18, 2014

Of Empty Nests and New Babies

I find myself sitting in the same corner of the sofa in the living room that I was parked on five years ago.  Then, I was watching my youngest son bring down all his essentials to take with him to college.  After his plan of living back home with us for a year after his graduation, he is preparing to leave again tonight, but this time it’s different.  There’s no college buffer, no academic calendars affording extra days and weeks during the holidays to be together for more than a scheduled visit.  This last week, after he signed his lease the reality of the finality of being a true empty nester began to sink in.  I have to say, it hasn’t been easy and it’s put me into a funk I wasn’t expecting.  Partly because I didn’t allow myself to think about it in depth before this and possibly because my only involvement was donating a few rolls of paper towels and rolls of the house TP.  I was given a good chuckle though when my son opened the trash bag as I tossed in the paper products and he melodically voiced, “Trick or Treat”.  What I remember as excitement when he was little over “Ooh, king sized” candy was now, “Ooh, double-ply.”

The whole circle-of-life-thing has also reached beyond our immediate family core to our older siblings.  Each side has been blessed with new additions to the family in three weeks time to which, puts me (us) more on the fringe.  Three weeks ago we welcomed a great-niece, Anna, on one side of the family and last Friday, we welcomed Alyssa, on the other side.  Family dynamics will inevitably be reshuffled as they tend to do when a new generation is added.  It’s another change, two generations removed from your own, that makes you feel older.  You’re more an observer this time around and from a further distance.

I took this photo of my MIL, Jean, holding her first great-grandchild when Alyssa was only a few hours old. Jean will be 92 this fall and is out tonight drinking margaritas with her girlfriends. 

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I hope Alyssa is lucky enough to inherit whatever traits keep this incredible woman going gangbusters!  Pictured with Jean is her grand-daughter and our niece, Marianne.  She’s an auntie for the first time and is awestruck at her new status.  I remember visiting Marianne in the hospital when she was born and her mom, my SIL-to-be. 

Time seemed to rush by this past week with so many changes.

I’d love to know how you handle changes of this kind.  Would you share your thoughts with us?  It would be especially helpful to me. Red heart

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Red, White & Blue Daiquiri Cocktails

Let’s create a big bang with Red, White & Blue Daiquiri Cocktails for the 4th of July!

These festive cocktails always hit the top of my blog post trends this time of year so I’m posting a slightly revised post for new readers.  The daiquiris are festive, refreshing, absolutely delicious and always make a big impact on guests!  Just perfect for backyard celebrations on the 4th of July.

Of course, you can always make them a mock-tail by leaving out the rum since the flavor base is made with frozen limeade and lemonade.

Red, White, Blue Daiquiris

Besides adding a festive touch to your party, the daiquiris can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer in plastic containers (my choice) or plastic ziploc-type food storage bags.  I always do this so they are ready to go when guests arrive.  If you have the vertical space in your freezer, you could pre-layer the drinks in the glasses and greet your guests at the door with one!  How great would that be?  See more tips below.

Your guests can choose their daiquiris or layer all three colors into the glass. The individual flavors blend perfectly: "Red" (strawberry), "White" (lemon-lime), and "Blue" (tinted with a splash of blue curacao, an orange flavored liqueur but because it’s such a small amount the orange flavor is not noticable). Layering all three colors in the glass is my favorite look for the the 4th of July.

I planned ahead and froze fresh strawberries when they were at their peak locally but store-bought works just fine. 

Frozen Strawberries

Tips:
  • The drinks can also be pre-poured into glasses and left in the freezer. This will save even more time during a party and frost the glass.
  • If drinks are kept in the freezer, the alcohol in the drinks will keep the mixture from freezing solid and will retain a perfect slushy texture. If your drinks are non-alcoholic, the mixture will freeze solid but will thaw quickly.
  • If you layer the red, white and blue daiquiris into one glass, spoon the second and third layers over each other instead of pouring. Pouring may mix your colors depending on how liquid the consistency is.
  • Each daiquiri flavor also makes a great icy dessert that can be spooned into a dish.

All frosty for the 4th!

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The Cocktail Base:
1 - 6-oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate (2/3 c.)
1/2 of a 6-oz. can frozen limeade concentrate (1/3 c.)
2/3 c. light rum *you can use the 6 oz. lemonade can to measure
1/4 to 1/3 cup powdered sugar (or more to taste)
3 c. ice cubes
Garnish (see below)
 
White Daiquiris ~
In a blender combine lemonade and limeade concentrates, rum and powdered sugar. Cover and blend until smooth. Add ice blending until slushy.
Makes 6 ~ 5oz. servings.

Blue Daiquiris ~
Prepare as for white daiquiris, except add 1/4 c. blue curacao along with the frozen lemonade and limeade concentrates, rum and powdered sugar.
Makes 6 ~ 6oz. servings.

Red Daiquiris ~
Prepare as for white daiquiris, except use one 6-oz. can of frozen lemonade or limeade concentrate. Add 2 cups frozen unsweetened strawberries or slightly sweetened red raspberries to the blender with the concentrate, rum and powdered sugar.
Makes 6 ~ 6oz. servings.

For Non-Alcoholic Daiquiris ~ Substitute pineapple juice or water for the rum. Add a touch of blue food coloring for the blue "daiquiris". 

For extra bang! and pop!~

  • Dip strawberries into white chocolate and sprinkle with patriotic confections and slip onto the side of the glass for a garnish.
  • Cross-cut star fruit can also serve as a garnish.
  • Dip the rim of the glass into red, white or blue sugar.
  • Serve with festive patriotic straws.

Have a very happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fabulous Fondant Daisies at Framed Frosting

Happy July!  I think we’re all in shock it’s here already.

Today, I’ve written a guest tutorial DIY post for Danielle on her blog, Framed Frosting.  I shared how I made these daisy cupcake embellishments out of rolled fondant and how very easy they are for you to make them too!

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I had the pleasure and fun of meeting Danielle and her perky personality and helpfulness at the Wilton Sweet Up in April at Wilton Headquarters outside of Chicago.  Danielle is also a Wilton brand Ambassador like me and a very busy college co-ed.  I liked Danielle so much that I tried to lobby her to be my future daughter-in-law, but she’s taken!  :) haha!

I hope you visit Framed Frosting and say hello to Danielle and see all the fabulous treats she makes too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cupcakes Coming Up and Great Things Small

What an incredible week!  Thank you to Cupcakes Take The Cake for featuring my chocolate cupcakes with the pink fondant daisies.  If you’ve clicked over here from CTTC wondering, “Hey, where are they”,  they’ll be over on Danielle’s Framed Frosting next week as I guest post and share a DIY tutorial on making the fondant daisies.  They’ll be a piece of cake for you to make!

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I’ve also been busy on Instagram where I posted our recipe for the Best BBQ Burgers Ever.  They’re my family’s favorite every summer.  I first posted the recipe on the blog a few years ago.  This time I’ve posted the recipe on my Instagram page and Facebook to change things up.  You’ll find the recipe via the links.

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I’ve also been preparing for the 4th of July, can you tell?

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I’m crazy over the Crate & Barrel Patriotic Party Lights and even bought the string on display!  I had to have them!  Can’t wait to add my white paper lanterns over them for a pretty glow.  I also found goodies at Sur la Table, Michaels, and Pottery Barn.

Flamingo Candles at Paper Source.  Truly.  Fabulous.  One set for me and one for a friend.

Flamingo Candles paper Source

But the best is yet to come! 

Not only did I put another candle on my birthday cake last week and celebrated from morning to night with lunch and pink martinis inbetween…

Pink Martini Birthday Lunch

… but we also welcomed Anna Grace into our family, my great-niece, the day before my birthday!

New girl in town

It’s never a dull moment come June!

See you this weekend!

Friday, June 13, 2014

FORE! Father’s Day Golf-Themed Cupcakes

It’s tee off time for Father’s Day or for the golf enthusiast!

Father's Day Golf-themed Cupcakes

These golf-themed cupcakes are for the golfer dads out there or the golf enthusiast! I created them specifically with little duffers in mind since they are easy to decorate using only one decorating tip with multiple openings making grass “grow” quickly while moms will appreciate the ease and convenience of using Wilton’s ready-made decorating icing that’s the perfection consistency. 

I made several different golf-themed cupcakes for fun but you could easily choose one and stick with it.  Let’s walk the fairway first to see what lies ahead and then I’ll list the recommended supplies you’ll need and the DIY instructions.

The Hole-in-One - A Winner. Just like Dad.

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

The Water Hazard - What’s special about the Water Hazard cupcake is the use of clear piping gel tinted with a touch of blue. 

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

The Sand Trap – Thanks Dad, for showing us how to dig our way out when we get stuck on homework problems! Brown sugar mounded up creates this fun effect.

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

In The Rough -

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

So, are you set to tee off and drive it down the fairway for a Father’s Day celebration?

What You’ll Need:

Cupcakes

Wilton Petal Shaped Grass Baking Cups
Wilton Decorating Tip No.234
Wilton White Ready-to-Use Decorator Icing
Wilton Icing Colors (The Kelly Green for the grass.  Royal blue for the piping gel.  The set I used came has 12 colors, but it’s also available in a set of 8 colors and individually)


Wilton Tapered Spatula
Wilton Disposable Decorating Bags
Wilton Icing Bag Ties
Wilton Coupler (optional – since this is a one tip/one color project you can place the tip right into the decorating bag)
Wilton’s FoodWriter food safe pens (optional)
Wilton Piping Gel (for the water hazard cupcake)

Prep:

My mother-in-luv found these great petal shaped baking cups with a grass print made by Wilton.  I knew they would be perfect for my golf cupcakes.  Thanks, Jeana!

Wilton Petal Baking Cup

For the icing, I highly recommend  Wilton White Ready-to-Use Decorator Icing for a few reasons -

1. It’s so convenient to have a tub ready to go with no mixer bowls and beaters to wash.  A real time saver and it gets everyone decorating quicker.

2. It’s the perfect consistency for piping.  Canned icing at the market is a lot softer.  It will work, but once you’ve worked with the perfect consistency, you’ll be hooked.

3.  It keeps me on my diet. It’s true.  If I’m not mixing it, I’m not scraping the bowl and licking the spatula.

4. Of course, it tastes really, really good. (okay, I did taste a little)

Tinting the Icing -

I used Wilton Icing Colors Kelly Green for the grass and Royal Blue to tint the piping gel.  12 colors came in the set I used, but these two colors are also available in a set of 8 colors and individually).

I use toothpicks to scoop out the amount of color I needed.  If you use any colors in a pot, each time you dip in you must use a fresh toothpick.  Icing should never touch the food coloring in the container.  If you keep the colors pure and untainted, they will keep indefinitely. 

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

I loved using the Wilton Tapered Spatula to create a base coat of green on the cupcakes.  The tapered end allowed me to keep a clean edge inside of the paper cup. 

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

Here’s the secret to a lush, green lawn – tons of tiny holes! Wilton Decorating Tip No.234

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

If you’re planning the water hazard cupcake, you’ll need piping gel to tint blue. I like to put a base of white icing under the blue gel.  This gives the water some depth and makes it pop, otherwise the blue gel will look very dark.  You could skip this step if you like, but if you want to do it, here’s how - 

This is piping gel – it’s clear, sweet and sticky.

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

It takes very little color to tint it.  Dip the tip of a toothpick into the color pot and mix it into the gel.

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

See how a basecoat of white makes the blue pretty?  It acts like a reflector.

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

Got a course of action planned of how you want to play the cupcake game?

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

Piping The Grass -

The grass couldn’t be easier to make.  Take a Wilton Disposable Decorating Bag fitted with an optional coupler.  Optional,  since this project only requires one decorating tip and one color.  Secure the end of the filled bag with a Wilton Icing Bag Ties.  I love these and they’re great for little inexperienced and enthusiastic hands that squeeze from the middle of the bag.  Smile

The Technique -

Squeeze and pull.  That’s it!  You can make longer blades of grass for the “in-the-rough” cupcake by squeezing a little while pulling or shorter blades for the green by squeezing then stopping before you pull up. 

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

Finishing Touches -

Flowers - I had some extra fondant flowers from bridal shower cookies I had made so I colored them yellow with Wilton’s FoodWriter food safe pens.  Of course, “flowers” don’t have to made out of fondant but could be small pearl dragees, or a drop flower piped with a #14 open star tip.   Having flowers is an optional embellishment but I like them on a few cupcakes to change the height of my presentation since I didn’t add a flag to the in-the-rough cupcakes.

Wilton Food Pens

The Flags – lollipop sticks, red poster paper and double stick tape. I love making these for cupcake toppers for any party.  I even made them for a styled graduation party.  Great little craft project for the kids. You could also write “dad” or put hearts on the flags if you’d like.  Cute!

The Golf Balls – I made mine out of rolled fondant but they can be little white mints, dragees or piped from a small plain round tip (#4) out of the white icing.  Toothpick pricks make the little divots in the ball.

I’d love to see your Father’s Day cupcake projects.  Please send me your photos and I’ll post them to my Facebook page!

I’m also on Instagram where I’m a big commenter.  What can I say, I love to chit-chat there. Red heart

Have a wonderful Father’s Day and just a happy weekend!

Father's Day Golf Cupcakes

This is a sponsored post. I received compensation and/or product from Wilton Cake Decorating.  All opinions and endorsements of the products I mention are my own.  If I didn’t love them… you know.  :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Orange County Wedding

I had a wonderful time with all my men at home these last ten days and I have to admit it’s a challenge to sit down at the computer when the feeling of summer is beckoning.

It began in earnest this past weekend with the beautiful wedding of our best friends’ son at their gorgeous home. 

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The flowers were breathtaking.  Decanters full of them.  Everywhere.

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More breathtaking than the flowers, the beautiful bride.

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The emotions of our friends, the groom’s parents, had me tearing up and caused my camera to shake!

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After the ceremony we all congregated in this beautiful area for cocktails and appetizers!

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While the area began to fill up, I decided to sneak up to the balcony to take some photos of the guests.

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Oops!  I’ve been found out!

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The father of the groom looking quite dapper.

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We were escorted to the lawn to dine and to welcome the new Mr. & Mrs.

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The warm Southern California coastal weather, without a cloud in the sky, made the evening absolutely perfect.

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My table is the one farthest back.  My date for the past 30 years, is the, ahem, strawberry blonde.  What was extra special about this wedding was that it brought back memories of being in my friend’s and her husband’s wedding 35 years ago and she, being the Matron-of-Honor in ours!  The Tri-Delta force of sisterhood is strong.  Sarah Ida Shaw, the founder, would’ve been proud.  The bride happened to have been a Tri-Delta at USC too!  What are the odds of that?  Amazing!

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I originally asked to be seated up on the pool terrace with the Delts, the represented USC fraternity, but my friend said, “NO!” Kill joy.  ;)

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But they really had the best view.

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From the pool terrace as the sun was setting -

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These two were in the wedding ceremony and were now running around the terrace.  I asked them if I could take their picture and they quickly sat down with their hands in their laps without any coaching.  Pros.  So sweet.  Look at those little punums! (cheek pinch)

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I know this photo is terribly out of focus but I love it anyways.  Brothers.  Oh gosh, I remember going to see them in the hospital when they were born.  Wow!

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Now you won’t believe this, I’m still in shock myself, but I didn’t see the wedding cake, the dessert table styling, my best friend dancing with her son (unforgivable) or the garter dance (apparently the groom had to do a little dance and “work it” for the garter), bouquet toss, etc!!! 

Where was I?  I was at THE best table where Bill and Steve found our own private reserve and where we were all so engrossed in conversation and having such a good time I didn’t even notice half of our table had left and the area was pretty empty!  I had to go on Instagram and look at the page with the wedding’s hash tag, #ganwedding2014, to see if someone had posted a photo.  Thankfully, they did!  A cake by the Sweet and Saucy Shop?  C’mon!  Still can’t believe I missed the display first-hand but the cake was delicious.

As the party revved up, I tried to get a few more shots of the wedding d├ęcor and I was photo bombed!

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So I told the guys ‘okay, get on in there’!

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Then another one came in…

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With my memory card full at this late hour it was time to find my pointy leopard print shoes I left under the table and head home.

But not ever wanting the party to fully end, my hubby and I came back to the scene of the bash on Monday and replayed all the wonderful details with our friends over pizza and vino under the Chardonnay vines.  Finally, the pool terrace!

chardonnay

Also of note were these floral arrangements at the rehearsal dinner. How gorgeous were they?  Love!  By Jennifer at Posh Petals.

rehearsal dinner flowers

rehearsal dinner flowers

Hope you enjoyed being a virtual guest!

Next up… cupcakes for Father’s Day! 

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