Friday, April 29, 2011

Stop Spreading Hate.....Start Spreading Love

This post is a little different from the material I normally share. This week, I have experienced some real disappointment with the blogging and other online communities. I feel compelled to share my opinions on the subject...and a few other semi related subjects.
Let me start by saying this:

This week I have been exposed to a lot of negativity, hating, and slandering in online communities (not of myself thankfully, but others I know and respect).  I don't understand this.  Each of us are sharing our personal craft.  We are taking pieces of ourselves, our souls, our very being, and creating something beautiful and having the courage to share it with the world.  That is real bravery in my opinion.  Bravery that should be met with support from other artistic women in our online communities.  Unfortunately, I've been witness to a lot of ladies tearing each other down.  Ladies going to extreme to slander other people online, and even on other people's blog comments.
I work full time in a male dominated environment (I am one of two women on a staff of 100+). It may be 2011, but women still have a lot to prove in the work place.  We still have this culture of "I had to work extra hard to get where I am, so I'm going to make that other woman work hard too".  We need to stop this madness!
Ladies, we need to bring each other up, not tear each other down.  Support your fellow female in her journey, not try to throw boulders in her path!
If you don't like an artist's work, that's OK.  Every one's tastes are different.  But keep your negativity to yourself.  How are you helping anyone by telling another artist how much you hate her work?
Think before you act.  Ask yourself, what productive result will this bring if I say or do this?
Leaving mean comments, slandering people on message boards, and trying to "get people on your side" just doesn't have a place on my blog, in my business, or in my relationships both online and in person.
Start spreading the love, stop spreading the hate.

Which brings me another all important topic....Credit.  I don't mean those credit cards either!  I mean, giving credit where credit is due.  I do my best to make sure to give proper credit to those who have inspired me.  This is a popular topic in the blogging community, and instead of rehashing the subject, I'd like to direct you to this post by Kristan, the brilliant mind behind Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.  She discussed properly crediting your sources in a way that really expresses how I would have said it myself!  Another valuable read is her post on Blogger Code of Ethics.  A must read for any bloggers, especially newbies.

My last subject on this post is about finding your value.  In addition to all the negativity I've already talked about, I've been experiencing a struggle with the value of my work.  More and more I am having clients ask me to do things at a discount, and then becoming offended when I refuse.  I would like to say this, a cookie is not just a cookie.  A cupcake is not just a cupcake.  Styling a dessert table is not just setting things up on a table.  There are hours of brainstorming, sketching ideas, preparing ingredients, baking, and designing. That cookie you just bought, and complained about the price, and then shoveled into your mouth, was my art. It was not mass produced and pulled out of a freezer.  It is something that I created, explicitly for you.  It generally takes a few hours (at a minimum) to prepare, bake, and decorate a cookie.  That cookie that deemed not worth its value by you questioning my pricing.  To my fellow artists out there, whatever your craft, know your worth, and stick to it.  Determining your pricing, determining your product's value is a very personal and difficult decision. Know that you create something out of love and passion.  If you're like me, you work full time, and come home to go to work again because you love it. You enjoy what you do.  There is value to that.  Don't allow someone who knows nothing about your craft to devalue it.
I encourage you to read these posts over at the One Tough Cookie Blog.  This post is about pricing and this one is about discounts.  They are both well worth the read no matter what your craft is, whether is baking or something else.

OK, I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Peep Wreath!

Staying true to my past practices, I am sharing with you my holiday fun, after the holiday.  As hard as I try, I just cant get it together to do all of this before a holiday.  I create my desserts and tables to share during the holiday. I would love to have inspired my readers before the event occurs, but alas, I am late again!
Today I share with you my Peep Wreath!  

It was super festive for the few hours it hung.  When the sun started shining on the front of my house, it became very very hot and the peeps started falling off!  It seems the glue didn't hold once it got so hot.  I haven't decided if I should fix the wreath or admit defeat.  Either way, it was cute while it lasted!
Stay tuned for more belated Easter posts!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bedroom Update!

Since I just shared with you my kitchen updates, I thought I might share some updates in our bedroom.  We still have a long way to go to achieve the "zen garden" that I want in our room, but we've made some progress that I am really pleased with.  Check out these pics from when we first moved in. 
The awesome white furniture we bought from the sellers with the intent to refinish.  Those curtains, they were left in the room too. Yikes!

Here are some "during" photos, as we painted and added our own things.
 Yep, those dressers are the white ones! We transformed them!
 We did need to buy a bigger comforter.  I am a fan of duvets, so we bought a big fluffy comforter while I searched for a cover we liked.
Check out what our room looks like now....
 We found a duvet cover we liked! I still would like to redo the headboard and change the night stands.  Maybe a few other ideas for that wall I have brewing in my head too.

I love how this half of the room turned out though.  The gallery wall is my favorite.  All of the pictures on the wall were taken by me in our garden last year.  I'm still working on some fun stuff to put in the wall cubes, but for now some of our existing decor works just fine.
Adding the capiz shell lamp also made a huge difference.  The entire ambiance of our room is much more zen, cool, and relaxed.  As you can see I am bold with my paint color choices too.  (Beige/Neutral is too boring for me....but that's just me.  In other people's homes neutral color schemes look amazing!)
I hope you have enjoyed a peek inside my home.  I've got more projects in the works, stay tuned for updates!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kitchen Updates!

This past week I was M.I.A. for most of the week due to some changes going on in our house.  We found out that our refrigerator needed to be replaced.  I have a teenie tiny kitchen, so finding an appropriate size fridge was a bit of a challenge.  I was disappointed that I couldn't upgrade to some of the newer features I liked.  However, all was not lost.  I managed to find a great deal replacing not only my fridge but my stove and dishwasher, both of which were on their last legs.  Check out the before and after pics!

 Before....sad, lame appliances ready to retire.

 They are just begging to be shipped out to appliance pasture.

 Shiny, new, sparkling appliances!

I love our new kitchen!  We still have other updates we would like to do (umm hello ugly hardware on the cabinets!) but for now, it feels like a whole new kitchen!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Champagne Wishes and Strawberry Dreams

This weekend I made some really fun cupcakes! I was asked to do cupcakes for a bachelorette party.  The bride's wedding colors were hot pink and green.  The bachelorette party plan was a classy champagne soiree. I was given full creative license on the design....which is always fun for me!  We decided on strawberry cupcakes with a vanilla cream cheese icing.  Check out the design!

I am in love with how these turned out! I tried some new techniques such as using liquid gold to accent almost all of the designs.  Here is a close up of the champagne and strawberry cupcake....

 I hand painted the champagne glass and included my signature strawberry heart.

These individual blooms were accented with gold as well.  I drew designs in royal icing on the leaves and painted them gold as well.  I love the effect!
I made an oversized flower just for the Bride to Be.  You cant really tell in this picture but there is a ribbon with gold painted "Bride To Be" as well.

Last in the collection is my favorite one, the engagement ring.  I made gems from fondant and decorated with disco dust.  I painted the ring band gold as well.  I know sugar gems are popular, but I wanted to create something really sparkly and disco dust has that awesome glitter effect.  What girl doesn't love a little sparkle?!
This is my favorite cupcake collection so far this year!!  Thank you Kelly for the opportunity and the creative freedom!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Go Twins!

This weekend I did some fun cookie pops for a fellow blogger.  Amanda over at Sleeping Single In A Queen Size Bed wanted some Twins baseball cookie pops.
Here are a few close ups.

Thanks Amanda for having me do such fun cookies!

Amanda writes an absolutely hilarious blog about her adventures in dating.  If you are looking for some serious entertainment you've got to check her out!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Puppy Love Layout

Today I am sharing another one of my scrapbook layouts.  This photo was taken at my Parisian Soiree
My pups were dressed for the occasion and I was going to get a photo with them.  Instead of posing they both decided to go in for a kiss and my friend snapped the pic.  It turned out to be one of my favorites of the night.
I used my Cricut to make the title and floral border.
 I made varying sizes of organza flowers to accent the page too.  I stuck them on with some zots and there you have it! Hope you have enjoyed my layout!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Momma to Be and her Mini-Me!

My dear friend Leslie recently asked me to help her out with some goodies for her sister in law's baby shower. The couple doesn't know what they are having so the theme was blue polka dots and pink flowers. Leslie lives about 6 hours from me but we were getting together for the weekend near the baby shower.  I made cookies for  her as well as fondant decorations she could pop on the cupcakes and cake she planned to make.  Leslie also challenged me to make my first 3-D cake topper.  She wanted a pregnant woman in the likeness of her sister in law.  I've never made one of these figures before, so I was indeed challenged. The cookies were of course the easy part.....
Sweet and simple.
I have been a fan of Sharon Wee's work, so I studied the photographs of her cakes and adorable cake toppers. I managed to create one in a style similar to hers.  I have to admit, I literally jumped up and down for joy when she was finished.  I am just beaming I'm so proud to share her with you.....
I learned so much while making her.  I gained confidence in my own abilities, saw how I could do things better next time, but most importantly to me, I met a challenge head on and succeeded. Its something I've been thinking about a lot these days....meeting challenges that is.  
Check her out close up....
Here is the cake/cupcake tower Leslie did.  How awesome is that tower?  Leslie made it!! How perfect to have everything, including the cupcake tower, coordinate together!

This is by far one of my favorite fan cute is that thank you note!  I'm blushing I'm so touched!
Momma to be and her mini me!

Thank you so much ladies for letting me contribute to your adorable shower! A special thank you to Leslie for challenging me to get outside of my comfort zone. Love you girlfriend!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Recently on a fitness website message board, I learned that you could make chocolate mousse with avocado. Lately, I have been addicted to avocado, and this was just fuel for the fire.  Now don't knock it till you've tried it.  I know, avocado? chocolate? Sounds like some crazy pregnant lady craving.  I assure you, I am not pregnant, and this is absolutely delicious.  Go ahead, take a walk on the wild side.....
Avocado Chocolate Mousse
1 Ripe Avocado
1/4 Cup Sweetener (I used regular granulated sugar, but feel free to replace with splenda or something of the like)
1/4 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder

Mash it all together.  You can put it in a blender, food processor, or just mash it up with a spoon or potato masher.  I did the spoon way.  You have to make sure your avocado is really ripe though. 
Mash it up, and then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  You could eat it warm, but its waaaaay better chilled.
I topped mine with fresh strawberry.
It pretty much rocked my socks. 
This recipe should really be 2 servings, but just try not to devour the entire bowl yourself!
I mean it, its that good.  Trust me.  Try it out, then come back and comment about how right I was!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My 200th Post!

Today I am posting my 200th post! Wow! I can't believe I've had that much to share!  There's more coming though! Today I am switching over to another passion of mine, scrapbooking.  For awhile I was scrapping and blogging about scrapping pretty frequently.  Then I got into baking and planning parties and that didn't leave much time to scrap.  I recently was able to get some work done while on a girls scrapbooking weekend that I want to share!  One of my 2011 goals for this blog was to share more of my passions.  Yes, I love to bake, plan parties, and get crafty, but I love other things like photography and scrapbooking.  I'm new to photography so I'm participating in challenges like You Capture.  Last year I completed a 365 Photo Challenge too.  
Anyway, onto the scrapping.  Here is a layout I would like to share with you.  The title is Locks.
I took this photo of myself and journaled about my hair, its length, and how I decided to cut it to donate to Locks Of Love.
All of the papers used on this page were from the Basic Grey Ambrosia collection.
You can check out some of my older scrap layouts and tutorials here as well as my 365 album.  I don't post to that blog anymore, but its still out there in the blogosphere until I decide to finally publish my 365 posts into a book.
I hope you have and will continue to enjoy my newest subjects for this blog!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mini rainbows to start your morning!

I know, we are way past St Patrick's Day but sometimes a girl just needs some sunshine and rainbows.  I keep seeing this idea all over the internet, so I decided to try it.
I made a batch of pancake batter, divided it out, and colored it.

Plop my mini pancakes in the pan.
Viola! Mini rainbow pancakes! They really made my morning.  Especially with a side of bacon and coffee.  Go ahead, have a little rainbow to start your day.  Its OK to have rainbows any time of day, lunch time rainbows, dinner time rainbows, whenever.  It will make all the difference.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You Capture: Vibrance

This week's challenge on You Capture was "Vibrance".  Fortunately my friend Jackie and I went to the Macy's Flower Show.  Vibrance was everywhere!  Here are just a few of my favorite shots.

Blue orchids! Spectacular!  I wanted to purchase one, but since I know nothing about caring for orchids and the price tag was a little steep for a beginner, I opted for a beautiful photo instead.  This was truly a vibrant experience.  I feel inspired for my gardens this year! Bring on spring!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cupcakes For My Gnomies

Recently, I went on a girls scrapbooking weekend.  The ladies I scrapbook with are an amazing group of women. We've been doing these weekends for awhile now, so we have developed jokes about some pretty random things.  One of which is a love for gnomes.  In honor of spring, and our shared love of these mythical creatures,  I made these cupcakes! Check them out.....You think you gnome, but you have gnome idea!

Gnomes love their toadstools.
I'm obsessed with disco dust!
Speech bubbles for my gnomes....hey, gnomes have stuff to say too.

This guy was a favorite.  The saying, became a weekend favorite too.
Now you gnome what it's all about. Gnome what I'm saying?
This one's for my gnomies!


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