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Monday, June 27, 2011

Silhouette Card

Happy Monday, my lovely friends! I hope your day is sprightly and sparkly. :o)

I'm sharing a card with you today that I made for a friend. She's going through a long rough patch and I'm of the mind that even the tiniest gestures can plant seeds of joyful hope. Ironically this card was born out of my own frustration with circumstances... but as is always the case, if you forget about yourself and focus on someone else, peace and determination return. With a prayer for the Lord's love and light to shine through this itty bitty gift, here's what I came up with. I can hardly believe I didn't use patterned paper or my Cuttlebug... but that's just how it worked out! Gasp.

Despite my valiant effort, I just couldn't get a photograph that truly captured the simple beauty that shines in person. One of the challenges I had in mind for this required the use of a Christmas cut in a non-Christmas card. (So perfect for this project, since Christmas is all things miraculous and beautiful.) I was all over that, let me tell you. It took a while for the right idea to develop, but I knew I had to use twinkle lights somehow. So I cut the Christmas lights from CAC and altered them into moonbeams riding swirls of divine guidance. I covered them with liquid pearls to give them the pearly, opalescent moonbeam effect. They lead right up to our moon fairy, who is nestled amongst the rhinestone stars, to guide her attention straight to my dear friend. With a flourish of fairy dust, she's already on her way to making Amie's wishes come true. :o) I pop-dotted the entire fairy section for some dimension, as if the swirls and moonbeams are propelling her onward. :o)

Regarding the sentiment, I rarely (if ever) use my own handwriting on cards. But it seemed appropriate here. I wanted her to see my penmanship every time she looks at the card as a stark reminder that I'm right there with her. The close-up picture somewhat shows the sparkles I dabbed over the three sentiments in an attempt to "illuminate" them. I also doodled and highlighted a bit with a sparkle pen around her sparkle-wielding hands and the stars. This final product is my third attempt at this card since yesterday and is a rather huge contrast from my original vision. I think I like this better... there's always a treasure to be found (and shared) when you let love guide you. :o)

Challenges entered:
 * Die Cuttin' Divas (use a Christmas cut for a non-Christmas card)
 * Frosted Designs (Color challenge: Black & White, plus only one other color)
 * Getting Cricky (Penned entries: use pens anywhere on your project)

I'm so thankful for your visit to my blog and I hope you leave here with a trail of pixie dust. :o) (I couldn't resist.)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Create a Critter, Elegant Edges
 * Paper: Bazzill
 * Stamps: Fairy Moon: Floppy Latte Designs; Swirls: Autumn Leaves
 * Clear rhinestone flourish: Recollections
 * Ribbon: Stash
 * Miscellaneous: iRock, Liquid Pearls, Martha Stewart glitter (lapis)


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scoops of Birthday Love Card and Sweet Saturday

Happy Saturday, my sweet friends! I hope your weekend is filled with all things lovely. :o)

You know what's a bit challenging? Crafting with a newly-splinted index finger. Equally challenging is only eating one Peach Crumb Bar at a time. After being slowed down for a few days this week, I was finally able to create some goodies to share. With a few challenges in mind, I came up with this birthday card for a fellow ice cream lover. (Clearly this person is fabulous.) The dessert I made was a "Just Because" treat for my parents. I hope you enjoy both! :o)

For the card, I decided to make a heaping bowl of ice cream, bursting with our favorite flavors. Glitter and embossing helped me achieve the intended flavors, which made me sparkly happy. Along with the classic vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, we have: Chocolate Caramel Swirl (aided by bronzey glitter glue and caramel-colored rhinestones); Cotton Candy (pink base with a ribbon of sparkling blue... my personal favorite from our beloved dessert establishment); and Fudge Swirl (white base with swirls of brown). For variety in the toppings, I used glitter paper for sprinkles as well as rhinestones for nonpareils. I coated the spoons in silver Stickles and then covered them with Glossy Accents to make it a bit more realistic. (I'd love to do this to my real silverware... but I shall resist.) Are you craving ice cream now? I certainly am! :o)

As usual where faces are involved, I did my best to draw the sweet Peachy Keen faces. The cute little bite is a bit unsettled about the events that have transpired...

Challenges entered:
 * Birthday Sundaes (shaped birthday cards)
 * Getting Cricky (Let's Face It!)
 * My Craft Spot (How Sweet it is!)

Sweet Saturday time! Who's ready for a delicious summery fruit dessert? Peach Crumb Bars... they taste as incredible as they look:

These bars are fantastic! If you're a fan of portable pie, this is your new friend. It tastes so much like peach pie in bar form. Juicy and delectable, yet surprisingly easy! My sweetheart peeled the peaches for me so I could rest my finger, otherwise this might not have been baked this week. As I was grating a leftover whole nutmeg from Christmas, my thoughts drifted to the glorious desserts of the holidays. :o) As incredible as this tasted, I know it will be even more spectacular when peaches are in season at my local orchard in August. Freshly picked peaches? Yes, please! This is also a great base for any crumb bar recipe... I think blueberry is next for me.

Thank you for visiting my blog today! I'm so grateful for all of you. :o) I would also like to thank Tiffany from Sparkled Memories and Candace from My Passion 4 Scrappin for awarding me the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award! I am truly blessed to have such lovely followers... to read more about the award you can read my previous blog post. Thank you for thinking of me, ladies! Have the happiest weekend, my creative friends... and a scoop or two of dessert! :o)

Peach Crumb Bars
Yield: 24 bars

For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:
5 cups diced or sliced peaches (about 7 peaches, peeled)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375º. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Prepare the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter, followed by the egg. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, place the diced or sliced peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently. Spread the peach mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Source: Brown Eyed Baker

Key Recipe Components (for card):
 * Cricut Cartridge: Simply Charmed
 * Cuttlebug embossing folders: D'vine Swirls and Polka Dots (sentiment tag)
 * Paper: Core'dinations, DCWV
 * Button: My Mind's Eye Tres Jolie
 * Twine: Sew Easy in Lollipop
 * Miscellaneous: iRock, Martha Stewart glitter (lapis), Stickles


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Treasure You Card and a Sweet Blog Award!

Happy Tuesday, my dear crafty friends! I hope your day is full of butterflies and sunshine... and a touch (or twelve) of chocolate. :o)

First up today is my new card! I was truly blessed this weekend to receive two new Cricut cartridges from my sweetheart: Kate's ABC's and Elegant Edges. How I've yearned for these! In fact, I simply couldn't decide which to use first, so I used both. ;) These have endless possibilities and I'm happier than a shimmery clam to own them. :o)

(I know I very recently used this color scheme... but I ask you, can you ever have too much pink and green? They're like hot cocoa and marshmallows: always happy together.)

I had to channel my energy while making this card... I was overly thrilled to be using these cartridges. I simply *needed* to make a girly-girl card with them. I surrounded myself with rhinestones, glitter, buttons, twine, liquid pearls, and sparkly paper... just waiting to see what would happen. I didn't even take a few moments to see what the new challenges were for any blogs... I simply created what my heart wanted to say. :o) The paper used for the scallop mat makes me think of bubbles... like Kate's sweet self had just finished blowing bubbles before scooping up her kitten. I love that. :o) Thank you, my sweet boyfriend, for this incredible gift!

Now I have several people to thank! I am truly honored and ecstatic to have been given the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award by five fantastic crafters this past weekend. All five of you made my heart extra sparkly all weekend long! I sincerely appreciate your support. :o) Extra love and hugs to these super talented sweethearts:

Pam from Crafty Cards 4 u 2
Kaitlin from Cupcakes and Cards
Lisa from A Mermaid's Crafts
Nita from Nita Notes
Sabrina from Scrappin' with Sabrina


The rules for the award are as follows:
1) Send a thank you to the person who nominated you and include their link.
2) To accept this award, tell 7 random facts about yourself.
3) Pass the award on to at least 8 other awesome blog buddies.

My 7 tidbits of randomness:
1) Christmas is every single day in my heart... my pals know exactly what I mean when I say I'm having Christmas pizza or Christmas eggs for dinner.
2) I ditched all the clothing from the biggest drawer of my dresser to make more storage space for my sparkly make-up.
3) I was a competitive Scottish highland dancer for 16 glorious years.
4) Josh Groban is my favorite musician in the history of the world. (He better hope I don't win a Meet and Greet for the upcoming Michigan concerts. He will be sparklier than ever if I hug him.) ;)
5) I love watching Disney's House of Mouse episodes when I'm on the elliptical machine, working off my sweets addiction.
6) I see infinite beauty in a tiny blade of grass.
7) I became teary when I first saw the ice surface at a Detroit Red Wings game in March... I love my hockey team. <3

I am passing along this sweet award to the following 8 blogs (in alphabetical order). They are all wonderful people with so much to offer their readers. Thank you for being a source of beautiful inspiration with your mere presence. :o) (I know some were recently recognized, but I simply couldn't resist sending my love in return.)

1) Catarina~ Docerela Creations
2) Ellen~ Ramblings of a Travel Bug
3) Jalisa~ Patches of Pink
4) Lisa~ A Mermaid's Crafts
5) Nita~ Nita Notes
6) Pam~ Crafty Cards 4 u 2
7) Sabrina~ Scrappin' with Sabrina
8) Tiffany~ Sparkled Memories

Thank you for visiting, my friends! I wish you all a gorgeous day. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Elegant Edges, Kate's ABCs
 * Cuttlebug Polka Dots embossing folder
 * Paper: DCWV, Papertrey Ink, SEI
 * Ribbon: Gorgeous, but unknown... it was a gift from a friend.
 * Buttons: My Mind's Eye Tres Jolie
 * Twine: Sew Easy in Limeade
 * Miscellaneous: iRock, Liquid Pearls, Martha Stewart Peridot glitter, Studio G glitter glue


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Simple Card Set and Sweet Saturday

Happy Saturday, friends! Is your weekend off to a sparkly start? :o)

Two posts in two days! Happy happy, joy joy. :o) Today I'm sharing a set of simple cards that I made in coordinating designs when I first got my Cricut in April. I wanted a versatile set that was streamlined and simplistic, yet still lovely. These were quick to make, which is helpful when there just isn't time to dilly dally but you're desperate to create anything. I originally had four planned, but the fourth veered off track and no longer fit this theme. Silly owl with a mind of its own. ;)

This first one is kind of like a burst of sunshine. :o)

I love how gender-friendly this one is. It appropriate for anyone, thanks to its earth tones and nature theme.

This final one was made for sweet Grandpa. It's one of my last memories of him. An enormous smile lit up his face as he rested in his hospital bed... a huge goofy grin. He certainly didn't mind that I stamped the sentiment crooked in my rushed and sleep deprived state. I had a divine prompting that I needed to make this card for him that very night, so there was no way I was about to let sleep overtake me. My Aunt kept this card after he passed away a couple weeks ago, which warmed my heart. It's a nice memory for her, too.

Who's ready for a snack? It's Sweet Saturday time! I made this Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake on Wednesday afternoon and it was completely devoured by the end of the day. So much for the breakfast idea. The cake is light and fluffy, with a gooey trail of cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate running through the middle. (Or in my case... the not-quite-middle. One could assume I divided my batter with my eyes closed.) This delicious treat has a crunchy topping of more cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips, which also serves to make it twinkle. Who can resist sparkling coffee cake? I hope you make and enjoy it sometime soon. :o) (Did I mention that it sparkles?)

Yes, this is my tunnel of deliciousness through the "middle"... it's more like a rollercoaster ride.

Thank you for your continued support! It's a blessing to share my creative adventures with you. Smile lots this weekend, knowing you're loved. :o)

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Yield: 9-12 pieces of cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Cinnamon Sugar Topping/Filling:
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined. In a small bowl, make the cinnamon sugar topping/filling: stir together sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour half of the batter into the prepared dish and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar and half of the chocolate chips. Spoon the remaining batter over the filling, spreading gently. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod

Key Recipe Components (for cards):
 * Cricut Storybook cartridge
 * Cuttlebug embossing folders: Swiss Dots, Polka Dots
 * Paper: DCWV, Graphic 45, miscellaneous
 * Stamp: Hampton Art
 * Ribbon: K & Company, SEI


Friday, June 17, 2011

Butterfly Garden Card

Happy Friday, my sweet crafty friends! I hope you're on the verge of a glorious weekend. This busy-bee week flew by, but I'm confident this is the last time five silent days will flutter by between posts. That length is just unsparkly.

Earlier this week as I was commenting on some lovely cards, I stumbled upon a few challenge blogs I hadn't seen before. They're fabulous and listed below! I checked their weekly requirements and with those in mind, created one of my new favorite cards. This is for my sweet friend Dana, who loves butterflies as much as yours truly. The border flourishes I cut out replicate swirly lattices opening up into a butterfly garden. One reason butterflies are so stunning is that they're both whimsical and elegant, so I touched on both characteristics in this card. I wanted the overall theme to veer toward the elegant factor, so I embossed the interior gate panels and used liquid pearls (for the first time!) to decorate the main butterfly and line the ribbon. (I'm in love with this bottle of opalescent gorgeousness! I need to work on application, but that will improve with practice.) I think white-on-white is flawless beauty, so I made that butterfly the same iridescent white as the liquid pearls and as the lattice. Dana loves a pop of color, so I punched out some orange and green sparkly butterflies to incorporate one of the challenges. Since the paper is actually jellybeans, I was able to get a curve of white on the trims of the wings.

The black shadow base isn't the butterfly's shadow, exactly... it's to represent Dana, who so often has supported me, glued to my side, and made it possible for me to fly. :o) Something makes this card extra special. As I referenced in my introductory post last month, the avenues of creativity so often overlap in the most exquisite ways. As this card came to life, it inspired something for the writing side of me. A much needed spark for a story that's waiting in the wings to be written. Thank you, Dana! :o)

I bent the wings and pop-dotted the oval base for some dimension. (This was also the first time I used a genuine paper piercer! So much nicer than my previous way of using a needle, which loved to prick my fingers as I pushed it down.)

Here's the interior sentiment... carried along by the dancing butterflies. Her loving heart is beautiful. "Butterflies dancing beneath the afternoon sunshine carry your love from your heart to mine."

Thank you for fluttering by my blog today. Your visit sparklifies it beyond what I could ever add. :o) Tomorrow's Sweet Saturday is delicious, so be sure to check back soon! Chocolate chips and cinnamon will be waiting. :o)

Challenges entered:
 * Flutterby Wednesday (Use pink, orange, and green)
 * Getting Cricky (Anything goes)
 * Wacky Wednesday (Embossing)

Link-Up Parties! I'm including this at the lovely Alex's Made It Myself Mondays and Patches of Pink link-up party... please join in the fun! I haven't been able to play often of late, so I am excited to be participating once again. Inspiration abounds at both locations. :o)

Patches of Pink

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Florals Embellished, Storybook
 * Cuttlebug Swiss Dots embossing folder
 * Paper: Bazzill, DCWV, Papertrey Ink, SEI
 * Ribbon: Offray
 * Fiskars butterfly punch and corner punch
 * Miscellaneous: Liquid Pearls


Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Splash of Joy Card and Sweet Saturday

Happy Saturday, friends! I hope you're enjoying a weekend of sunshine and scrumptious treats. :o)

You already know my love for Cooking With Cricut, but now that love has deepened because they made me play with my Create a Critter again. Their challenge this week is to use your favorite Cricut cartridge and color, so I had no choice but to bring another animal to life. :o) I absolutely adore this cartridge and the color blue.

The destination of this card is my dentist office! They are the most incredible bunch of ladies I've ever encountered in a professional environment. Every single team member is so caring and their sweetness makes me miss them between cleanings. (How incredible is that? I'm so blessed.) I went to school with one of them, so at least I get to see her more than a couple times a year. :o) I had an appointment a few days ago and they were sweet as ever, so I decided now is the perfect time to make them a card.

The inspiration behind this sentiment is that a splash of joy can make someone bloom, which is why I made the hippo splashing the flower. They bring me such happiness and serve as a reminder that all it takes is a simple act of kindness to sparklify a heart. :o) I wanted their card to contain touches of both whimsy and elegance to suit each personality. It was a bit of trial and error in some regards, but I rather like this.

As I did previously, I wanted my animal to have some personality so I tried my best to draw another Peachy Keen face stamp. Henrietta needed a cute face. ;)

I had a doozy of a time photographing this. Not clearly apparent is the DCWV blue glitter paper for the water, hippo, and the Splash part of the sentiment. I used Glossy Accents to make tiny bubbly droplets and to fully coat the splashes. I pop-dotted the hippo, front grass element, and the sentiment tag for some dimension. Lastly, I couldn't resist making the grass a little sparkly. ;)

Now it's time for another Sweet Saturday! A whimsical explosion of color... you just can't go wrong with rainbow sprinkles:

I wasn't able to bake anything this week (the horror), so I dug into my recipe box and photo album for a good stand-by recipe to post. Rest assured there are lots of extra special goodies on the horizon! But this week I give you Funfetti Cupcakes and an easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. They're good staples to have, especially the homemade funfetti if you have kids in your life (or are a woman-child like I am).

Side Notes: I'm not a huge fan of plain, regular buttercream. It's just too buttery for my liking. (I'm yearning for more of this Chocolate Frosting, however!) But everyone else loves this frosting, so it remains my main buttercream base recipe due to continued rave reviews from my peeps. Also, the cake is the original recipe as written for a birthday cake. To make it into cupcakes, simply divide the batter into a lined cupcake pan and decrease baking time to 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thank you as always for visiting. You brighten my days! Have a blessed weekend. :o)

Funfetti Cake

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ cup milk
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease and flour the sides of two 5-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites to the bowl and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until incorporated. Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated. Gently fold in the sprinkles with a spatula. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost cooled cakes as desired.

Source: Annie's Eats

Easy Vanilla Buttercream

20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1⁄8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Scrape bowl, add the vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

Source: Annie's Eats

Key Card Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridge: Create a Critter
 * Cuttlebug Flowers embossing folder (came in the box)
 * Paper: DCWV, Core'dinations
 * Ribbon: American Crafts
 * Flower: Prima
 * Miscellaneous: iRock, Glossy Accents, Studio G glitter glue


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Father's Day Card

Happy Tuesday, my sweet crafty friends! I hope your week is full of sunshine. :o)

Today I'm sharing my Father's Day card. My dad is something special... he is a true giver. Those who give so generously, without ever considering it a 'sacrifice' of time or resources, have the most gorgeous hearts. That is my father in a sparkly nutshell. I hope his bird-loving self enjoys the little scene I created. (And I hope you do, too!) :o)

The shadow of the branch is trimmed in golden Stickles to signify the sunset's glow illuminating them from behind... just like the aura of a father's love. The leaves extend beyond the card's edge, as a father's love transcends boundaries. The windows show hearts inside, as he always fills our homes with love. And lastly, there are touches of sparkle on the birdhouse because he always brings out our inner sparkle. :o) Along with this card he will receive his favorite dessert that I first made on Thanksgiving... you'll have to come back for the Sweet Saturday feature following Father's Day! All I'll tell you is that it combines creamy cheesecake and caramel apple pie. Truly divine.

The sentiment reads: "Like a creamsicle sunset, a father's love warms the heart."

A few notes: I dabbed the orange/tangerine splotchy background with Merlot and pink inks to add to the sunset essence I was going for. Regrettably, all the tones don't seem to show as clearly as I'd like in the picture. The embossed leaves are lightly brushed with Espresso ink for added dimension. The windows are filled with Glossy Accents to make it appear as though you're looking through glass. In the second picture I tried to show the "glass" on the bottom window and the illuminated leaves a touch better.

Since crafts are extra fun when shared, I am linking up this cute little card to the places that inspired it. :o)
Patches of Pink link-up party! This is always a joy and is extra special this week for one lucky entrant.

Patches of Pink

Fantabulous Cricut Challenge: #1 Dad
My Craft Spot Challenge: Tie It On! (My first time playing here... so excited!)
Cooking With Cricut Challenge: Color challenge (In honor of Gingersnaps!)

Key Recipe Components:

 * Cricut cartridges: Cindy Loo, Storybook
 * Cuttlebug embossing folders: Polka Dots, Swiss Dots
 * Paper: Basic Grey, DCWV, Papertrey Ink
 * Ribbon: SEI
 * Button: My Mind's Eye Tres Jolie
 * Miscellaneous: iRock and Stickles

Thank you as always for visiting! I genuinely treasure you all. Thank you for sharing in my crafty journey. :o)


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Birthday Card, Sweet Saturday, and Happy News!

Happy Saturday, dear friends! I hope this post finds you happy and healthy, surrounded by glorious sunshine. :o)

Today I have two goodies to share in honor of this very special day: my sweet mom's birthday! She is such a blessing to me and I thank our great Lord every night for her. We are both goofballs in dire need of daily chocolate and sugary coffee concoctions, so we naturally get along very well. ;) I'm extending her celebration here to share the birthday card and cupcakes I made her. :o)

I was in a mega time crunch, but I did manage to make her a quick sweet card. She comes to expect handmade creations by now, so panic was rising as the clock refused to halt. She loves pearls and treats (see how great she is?!), so I decided upon a spruced up cupcake. Who can resist pearly and rhinestone frosting? Unseen in the soft photo is the base pink cardstock. It is embossed with the most beautiful filigree design. Feel free to visualize it! I coated the cherry with Glossy Accents (love) and embossed/sparkled the fudge frosting to mimic swirled sanding sugars. The cupcake is popped up for dimension... hopefully she won't eat it. The interior sentiment lovingly states: "Wishing you a birthday as sweet as you!"

Time for Sweet Saturday! Here are the birthday girl's cupcakes. Disclaimer: While it looks like my chubby kitty piped the frosting, it was in fact I who did it. Normally I decorate very well... but it was 4:30am and my eyes felt like diamond-encrusted sandpaper. Also, my mechanical pastry bag broke mid-swirl. Minutes later my make-shift disposable pastry bag exploded twice during use. Peculiar! (Okay, they weren't explosions... more like wildly dangerous hiccups.) Nonetheless, this recipe is FANTASTIC. If you need a classic go-to vanilla cake or chocolate frosting, you have met your new love. Even unadorned (by request), these are stellar.

While I believe frosting should tower twice as high as the cupcake itself, I scaled this batch down for the festivities. Somehow, not everyone agrees with me. ;) This frosting is super chocolatey, rich, and dreamy. Those little dark flecks you see in the cupcakes are vanilla bean seeds. So gorgeous. This recipe yields a moist, tender, fluffy cake. In other words, the perfect vanilla cake.

Lastly, I have some happy news to share! The delightful and creative Design Team at Cooking With Cricut chose me as a Top Chef! I am ecstatic that my Tall Tri-Fold Invitation was selected as a favorite. It is an honor to be recognized by such a talented group. Thank you! :o)

Thank you very much for visiting. I hope your weekend is jam-packed with sparkly blessings. :o) Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go devour another cupcake. Join me! (Bonus: This recipe yields over two dozen cupcakes... you are essentially forced to keep a few for yourself.)

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Yield: approximately 30 cupcakes

3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and set aside. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod (or reserve for another use). Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.

Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about ⅔ of the way full. (You will likely have extra batter after filling 24 wells.) Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Replace your paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Annie's Eats, who adapted it from Confections of a Foodie Bride, who adapted it from The Well-Decorated Cake

Chocolate Frosting

14 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped (I use semi-sweet or milk)
9 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
9 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
6 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sour cream

Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Set aside to cool until just barely warm. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Gradually mix in the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Beat in the the melted and cooled chocolate, followed by the sour cream. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Frost cupcakes immediately.

Source: Barely adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Key Birthday Card Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Simply Charmed, Storybook
 * Cuttlebug D'vine Swirls embossing folder
 * Paper: American Crafts, Papertrey Ink, DCWV, miscellaneous from stash
 * Ribbon: Target
 * Miscellaneous: Glossy Accents, Studio G glitter glue

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