Galentines 2015: Share the Love

We all know what the middle of February brings. A overload of red and pink everything, too much chocolate, terrible poetry, and expensive bouquets. All in the name of L O V E. Yeah, it’s Valentines day. I’ve celebrated the holiday as a single and as a couple, with friends and with strangers, all alone and with pets. While I do not necessarily believe you should spend a bunch of money in order to show that special someone how you feel on ONE day, it’s nice to let them know that on February 14th they are loved just as much as the other 364 days.

This year, my sister and I celebrated an early Galentines day (part one for me). Cupcakes and cookies and laughs and lots of love all included.

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As a fan of most holidays, I like Valentines especially because I feel so inclined to wear pink. It’s actually one of the few times a year I will purposely wear the color. Something I like even more about the holiday are all the decorations and crafts. Homemade garland, paper streamers, cut outs, and heart shaped everything really gives me major emoji heart eyes in real life!unnamed5 9 10 11For Galentines 2015, cupcakes took center stage. Strawberry champagne cupcakes to be exact (thanks Whole Foods)! These heavenly concoctions were too sweet not to share. 6 7 8 12 13 14 15 17 18

I consider myself to be pretty damn lucky to have such a rad little sister to spend Galentines with, as well as a bunch of other off holidays. And when the 14th comes along and I’m sitting on the couch watching Sleepless in Seattle with my cats (Growlentines), I’ll still feel pretty damn lucky.

 

Don’t be a grump on v-day. Smile & share the love, yall!

 

(Galentines Part Two in NYC will also involve sharing love and lots of pizza.)

 

Special Occasion Cupcakes | Simple & Sweet

You guys! I had my first paying baking gig since moving to Pittsburgh! My friend and local business owner approached me about doing cupcakes for her friend’s wedding shower. Now if you would have asked me to decorate a cake or even cupcakes before working full time in a bakery, I would have probably taken a day or two to think it over (and teach myself technique) before agreeing. Well that was not the case this time. I think I agreed before she finished asking the question.

I still get pretty nervous about using fondant and different decorating tips, but the queezy feeling in my stomach is no more. This happens when you show up to work with a terrible hangover only to find out that the resident decorator is a no call no show and you have to get your shit together and decorate 3 three THREE wedding cakes. Yeah that happened a couple of weeks ago. I now feel pretty invincible.  Thankfully, Dora did not want me to go all Cake Boss at this point and time. For the sake of simplicity, she ordered a vanilla cupcake with a vanilla butter cream icing. You know, simple really is the best. Simple can also be beautiful!

I adapted this recipe from my go-to girl (Martha). Sorry for the lack of photos. I was crunched for time, but- simple is key here.

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Simple Lavender & Vanilla Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs finely chopped lavender (fresh or dried)

For the icing:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 Crisco baking stick

1 tbs vanilla

1 cup milk

12-16 cups powdered sugar

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, lavender, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add this mixture to the sugar and eggs.
  3. Add the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake papers halfway and bake for 15-20 minutes. This recipe should yield about 2 dozen cupcakes, more or less.

Butter cream icing is just as easy. If you are like me and do not own a mixer of any sort, I find that a rubber spatula and occasionally a wooden spoon will do the trick.

  1. Cream together your butter, shortening, and vanilla.
  2. Alternate between adding cups of powdered sugar and tablespoons of milk. The final product should be stiff enough to hold its own on top of a cake or cupcake.

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I think they turned out beautifully! Dora and her family and friends also loved them, and that’s all that really matters. The door has since been opened for freelance cake and pastry work. I will also really emphasize…I LOVE BAKING PIE! I can always be contacted via my blog if you have any questions.

Memories For Sale

Last weekend Lauren, Chase, and I ventured to a more remote part of the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Our previous estate sale plans were thwarted by an expired Craigslist posting, so we did the next best thing- antiquing. The more I think about that word as a verb, the more I dislike it. See also- crafting. Due to a lack of money, I wasn’t really looking for anything other than inspiration. It is free after all, but you’ve got to keep your eyes open.

Ohio River Blvd Antique Mall was the place. The purple brick building’s facade resembled something like an auto shop you’d find off East McKinney Street in good ol’ Denton, Texas. Its bright colors draw in business and drive out evil spirits, though being an antique store, the place is probably filled with all sorts of juju.

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As soon as you cross the threshold, you go back decades. Mid-century sofas stacked 3 on 3, glass bottles galore, knickknacks and tchotchkes, and dishes from days long gone fill the rooms. Oh! And there are rooms, not to mention floors! The interior is a Victorian house filled with other peoples’ belongings. Other peoples’ junk? Definitely other peoples’ memories.

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On a different note, there’s nothing like an antique store to reiterate the fact that when you die you leave all your shit behind you. While it is a slightly morbid point of view, it does make me evaluate my tendencies as a consumer. Ever since moving to Pittsburgh, I have really been trying to simplify my life. Antique stores can be a great testament to this. So many of the objects filling the shelves hail from a simpler time, and I get a little inspired to live like they did. This correlation might only make sense to me….Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Consumerism and bank account status aside, I did make a beeline towards the depression glass and handful of insulators.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Besides Ohio Blvd, we also frequented a few other thrift and surplus stores. They all sort of cast a similar shadow on my opinion voiced above.

Out with the new and in with the old!

 

 

I Got Stripes

The Fourth of July is my favorite ‘Merica holiday. It can’t be the only ‘Merica holiday, right? This year, my Fourth was the exact opposite of previous years. For the last 3 back in Tejas, the Pearl House would throw the biggest party in town. Everyone who was anyone in Denton would be there. Well maybe not. But cool people showed up. And we made a vodka melon. Every year.

This year, karaoke was not sung, flags were not “stolen”, and hangovers were not to be had. Instead, I held a piping bag in my hand for 14 hours straight. I decorated everything in sight to make our bakery look like America threw up all over the counter and then some. Carpal tunnel much? My hand is still hurting! All complaints aside, I was ready for a nap, beer, roasted ear of corn, and a hot dog In that specific order).  My sister’s boyfriend held a Fourth of Ju-Luau at his house. Everything but the nap was brought to fruition there.  I even had a vodka melon, though it was disgusting. I should give 4th of July tutorials on how to properly inebriate fruit. It’s not rocket science, B!

Anyway, I had a great Fourth. I didn’t think it was a possibility, but when you surround yourself with rad people, good times just happen organically. Here are some photos of me donning Old Faithful. I actually paid for this one. From one of my favorite Dallas vintage stores.

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America’s Bday also rocks because it is the most LDR (Lana Del Rey) of all the holidays. George Washington never saw that one coming!

Sweet Potato Babycakes

The idea for this blog post found its beginnings in a personal journal entry. I was complaining via pen and paper about my lack of a Memorial Day weekend due to a 70 hour work week. The weekends are usually the time when I bake on my own, photograph, edit said photos, and then draft blog posts. I feel like I have not had a weekend since the middle of May. Anyway, somewhere in a rant on Instagram, Friday Night Lights (my newest Netflix obsession), and work, my mind saw a sudden burst of color. You know how shades can provoke certain emotions? Well, I feel like my brain did the opposite of that. By the end of my entry all I could think about were hues of purples and orange. I wanted to manifest these colors into something delicious. From that, my recipe for sweet potato babycakes (with a black raspberry & cinnamon glaze) was born! Image

Some of you may be questioning my choice of sweet potatoes now that summer is well upon us. What else is naturally orange and possesses an abundance of flavor and depth? Don’t say carrots unless you want to be wrong! Adding cinnamon the the fruit glaze really tied all the flavors together with a result that was slightly sweet and slightly savory. I have also had a hankering to use edible flowers as a garnish/decoration. After discovering and following an Australian cake decorator, Unbirthday Bakery, via Instagram, I purchased a package of pansies from a local grocery store. I figured this to be the better route than urban foraging. I really cannot wait to work with edible flowers again! They give you a warm fuzzy feeling, or me at least. ImageImageImageImage

My friend Lauren let me shoot and bake in her adorable, very well lit kitchen. Her original vintage gas stove is the stuff my dreams are made of, though, I guess in that dream I’d never be able to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Her kitchen was the perfect setting to create and then later enjoy.

Sweet Potato Babycakes w/ a Black Raspberry & Cinnamon Glaze

For the cake:

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 cups flour

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

For the glaze:

4 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbs black raspberry preserves

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup water, added 1 tbs at a time

edible flowers for decorating

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  1. Wash, peel, and prick your sweet potatoes with a fork. Roast for about 45 minutes or until done at 400 degrees. Once cooled, mash sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. It is okay if there are some chunky pieces, it will give your cake some texture! ImageImageImage
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together salt, spices, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. ImageImageImageImage
  3. Mix the mashed sweet potatoes in with your butter, eggs, and vanilla. Once fully incorporated, stir in the flour and spices. Your batter should be thicker, more like the consistency of a banana bread. ImageImageImageImage
  4. Grease and flour 4 smaller baking cups, I used ramekins. If you want to make a full sized cake or bunt, be my guest! A 9 inch pan should do the trick. Pour your batter into whichever type of preferred baking dish, just note that the size may adjust the baking time. For ramekins, the total baking time was about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. use a toothpick or a fork to test your cake at the 30 minute mark. ImageImageImageImageImage
  5. Now for the glaze! Whisk together vanilla, a few tablespoons of your water, and the preserves. Slowly add in powdered sugar cup by cup, alternating between tablespoons of water. The thing with glaze is that you don’t want it too runny. The ideal consistency is a almost like Elmer’s glue. ImageImage
  6. If you have a pastry bag on hand, you may want to use it for your glaze. It certainly makes decorating a whole lot easier and definitely less messy. Squeeze the glaze onto the tops of your cakes in a zigzag circular motion, then apply flowers before the glaze has a chance to set. ImageImageImageImage

 

I am more than elated with the way these turned out. Like I said earlier, I cannot wait to decorate more with edible flowers. This recipe also proves that sweet potato is flavor that can and should be used year round! It is always nice when a vision becomes a reality, in this case the purple and orange color combination.ImageImageImageImage

 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and a pleasant Monday! Talk to ya later, babycakes!

Around My Hood | A Walk In the [Frick] Park

Now that the temperatures are mimicking some level of consistency, Sunday plans are beginning to stretch past the brunching hour. Cloudless afternoons are a little hard to come by here in Pittsburgh so one must take advantage of the fair weather. Time spent at the Frick, followed by the refreshing taste of fro-yo, has become somewhat of a Sunday tradition.

Besides tulips and pink magnolias blooming this way and that, a walk in the park gives away subtle signs of Spring’s arrival. It’s pretty funny to think that in Texas they are nearing the hotter temperatures- the temperatures of summer. I am sweating just thinking about it!

The Frick is quickly becoming one of my favorite inner city getaways. I brought my camera along on my most recent outing to capture a candid spring and even more candid dogs.

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Life Lately

I could begin this post by apologizing for being the worst blogger ever, but I’m not because, sometimes, life just gets in the way. And, life is something I have really been enjoying as of late.

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The past few weeks, or I suppose this past month, have been full of lovely moments that have quickly morphed into even lovelier memories.

Last weekend I saw The National perform. The front row experience surpassed any Dallas concert I have ever been to. Matt Berninger’s baritone bravado made me swoon all night. I have been listening to copious amounts of The National ever since. Goes well with dreary weather and red wine, don’t you think? Fortunately, my playlists do not reflect my current mood/ state of mind. Instead of brooding, I have been doing a whole lot of planning. I am going to Pittsburgh in 3 days, and am so looking forward to new sights and sounds, old friends, and the small chance of snow on Thursday.

I primarily spent this weekend doing Texan things. Well, maybe more so things people outside of Texas think Texans do all the time. These things included but were not limited to: drinking beer, eating bbq, and riding horses. ImageImageImageImageImage

Maybe I am just trying to get the Texan out of my system before going up north, though I don’t think this is possible. You can’t take the Texas out of the girl, and I will always have a mad love for Shiner Ruby Redbird & Cheer, tacos, and our big blue skies.

 

Over the Weekend: Beer Me!

I ended up taking Friday off of work. It was nice to spend the entire day baking and not blogging, oops! I know I have been really bad about this as of late, but I have been so busy! I’ll tell ya all about  my reasoning once plans are set into action.

I’m trying to be elusive!

Friday was for baking. Saturday was for beer. Sunday was for recovering from baking and beer (mainly the beer). If you live under a rock or hate German people, you may not have know that Oktoberfest celebrations have been and will continue to be happening all around. I am not a beer fan, really in the least, but I will drink it if the occasion presents itself. Throw in some free sausage and polka music, and I’ll have a good time.

Saturday started of on an innocent foot. Just another morning at the farmers market, followed by a sudden downpour and a few bottles of champagne. After jamming some Shannon and the Clams, we pretty much swam down the street to Fry. My poor suede booties will never be the same! Steins overflowed with fall brews, and soon enough everyone was talking in a German accent. Or maybe it sounded that way to me? Image

Oktoberfest is one of my favorite drinking holidays, coming in second to Cinco de Mayo. Although I am German and Irish, I identify more with tequila. Giving credit my San Antonio blood,  I ended my night with queso and a very large margarita.

Sunday was for recovering. I said that already. I wasn’t just sleeping off a hangover, but I was also prepping myself for the Breaking Bad finale and the start of an incredibly busy week.

Have you guys done any Oktoberfest celebrating? I wish I knew where my lederhosen was hiding!

Happy Monday!

Over the Weekend: Hello Fall!

If you follow my blog, you can probably take a wild guess and figure out how I spent my Saturday morning. If you guessed farmers market, DING DING DING, you are correct and did not win a prize! Just take heart in knowing that you have an okay memory! BUT, this trip down the street was unlike all of the others so far!

I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a kid on Christmas day! Around 7 am I checked the weather and then immediately rushed to the front porch…..57 degrees outside! So chilly and refreshing! Yeah I get pretty excited about temperature under 70. I was also excited to not spend the entire day sweating, because that gets old after 4 or so consecutive months. After stumbling upon a mini pumpkin patch, I decided to declare that Autumn had officially arrived a day early. Image

The Denton market was hustling and bustling that morning. Dentonites and I think alike when it comes to perfect weather! I will never feel the need to take Gypsy to the dog park as long as the market is going on. Dogs and children run amok. I think Gyp and Elvis really enjoyed all the attention and treats. They were definitely the belles of the ball. ImageImageImage

Oh yeah, an almost 300 pound English mastiff ate my tacos! I had to hold back the tears as it happened, but who could blame him, La Estrella is the shit!

After the market, we made our way to Quakertown Park for the 15th annual Blues Fest. The music sounded a bit more country than bluesy to my untrained ear, but any excuse to sit on a blanket and drink a bottle of champagne on the most perfect day of the year so far with some really rad people is a good excuse. Saturday was not my day for eating in public around dogs. The top bun of my chopped beef sandwich was stolen by none other than The King himself, Elvis… I’m trying to cut back on the carbs anyway…

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Finally finally finally I made it to Fort Worth! I had been hankering to go see my friend Erin’s new places and am so glad it finally happened. Her house is perfect! The real estate gods really love this girl! Image

Saturday night was babe night. Erin threw us together the best semi homemade, 100% babemade pizzas with fresh everything. We’re talking mozzarella, basil, peppers, butternut squash, pesto, onions, the farmers market grown/Trader Joe’s sold works! There was also babemade bruschetta courtesy of Elizabeth. See, it’s a good think I didn’t indulge in all those tortillas and that bread earlier in the day! Everything happens for a reason. True that!ImageImageImageImage

The night ended with a few more ladies and bottles of wine entering the picture. Saturday really was the best day!

Unfortunately I had to make up some work time on Sunday, so those blue skies were enjoyed from the comfort of my desk. It wasn’t all that bad though. I did get free fro-yo on my way home because I forgot my wallet like an idiot and the employees felt sorry for poor little orphan Annie. I seriously cried when they called me back into the store to give my my fro-yo. It’s so comforting to know that the world is still filled with genuine and generous people. That was the cherry on top of a perfect weekend.

I am so excited to see what Fall has in store! Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

XOXOXO

Passion Project with Kristiane Webb Photography

When my friend Kristiane asked if she could feature me on her blog’s new Passion Project series, I was more than thrilled!  Earlier this month, I got to spend a Saturday morning with this lovely and very talented lady. We talked about the old Denton days while I rolled out pie dough and she took photographs. I even sent her home with the final product- my very first, all from scratch, chocolate buttermilk pie!

I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from our time together with you all. You can see and read more out my interview here. Enjoy!

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Please check Kristiane’s website! If you are looking for a photographer in the DFW area, I highly recommend this lady!

Thank you for the wonderful time!

XOXOXO