Sweets & Treats Gallery

Monday, June 23, 2008

15 summer weekend ideas...

Summer is here! I had a few files saved on my parent's computer. I found this file and I really want to share it. I've adapted this article by Georgia Andrews, but unfortunately, I can't remember where I found it. My guess would be Martha Stewart... but I didn't search for it. I wish I had time, because the article also had very beautiful photos that linger in your head as tiny pockets of summer joy. The article is a few years old, but the suggestions are timeless. Hope you enjoy!

"1. Gifts of the sea. Let summer trips inspire a keepsake project. Put together a display from shells and souvenirs you've collected from the shore. Or create a still life and give it to a friend. Rocks polished smooth by waves can be as unique and beautiful as shells. Coat stones from the beach with baby oil and place them in a bowl. They'll look as though they just washed up on shore.

2. In stitches. While browsing through late-summer tag sales or vintage clothing stores, you just might discover a pair of wonderfully broken in jeans. Make the most of the soft denim by converting the pants into a skirt. Personalize your new garment by sewing on a wide hem made from a vintage print or a simple eyelet border. For a fun alternative, make a modern-day poodle skirt in honor of your pet. Cut a simple dog or cat shape out of a cheerful fabric-small prints or felt work best. Attach it to an A-line or wraparound denim skirt with an easy-to-use adhesive like HeatnBond Ultra Hold Iron-on Adhesive, available at jo-ann.com. Hemstitch by hand to finish or add a satin stitch with your sewing machine.

3. Walk in the woods before dusk and listen to the birdsong (this might require driving and gas being so high, this could be difficult for some).

4. This one’s for the record. Throw a backyard party with music you play on a vintage record player. Put on songs to which you dance with a partner— tunes from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s are best—and watch the effect. Find players on Ebay. On a sultry late-summer night, host an outdoor cocktail party. Play classic jazz like the Dave Brubeck Quartet or vocalists like Tony Bennett, both available on vinyl at footlight.com.

5. Take a relaxing lavender bath. Let the hot water run over a nosegay of fresh lavender leaves and blossoms. For an even more aromatic experience, add some Lavender Bath Syrup from Sweet Grass Farm; order from sweetgrassonline.com.

6. Refreshing. Invite a couple of friends over for lavender lemonade. Brew 2 cups of lavender-infused leaf tea, cool it, and then add the juice of 4 lemons and honey—lavender, of course—to taste. Serve over ice. Order culinary lavender from Penzeys Spices: 4 oz.

7. With cherries on top. Let them eat cake—without turning on a hot oven. Transform a store-bought cake into a sumptuous treat by topping it with fresh cherries. You can also use strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries. Summer’s harvest produces so many fresh berries from which to choose. Just remember: To get the most flavor, use berries as soon as possible—a few days at most after you buy them. And select containers without juice stains—signs of crushed, bruised berries, which might indicate overripe fruit.

8. Freeze fresh fruit juice in Popsicle molds for an icy treat.

9. Posh picnic. Skip the paper plates the next time you picnic. Gather up your assorted favorite china in a sturdy basket. It’s fun to mix and match dish styles and enjoy the transfer ware or vintage plates that you found at a tag sale. If you have one treasure with a pattern you absolutely love and want to create a picnic set, check out Replacements, Ltd. It offers a huge selection of china patterns—even old and discontinued ones.

10. Take a drive down a country road. Then pull over on a road less traveled and take a walk. If the path is grassy, go barefoot (again, gas prices might be a challenge)!

11. Ex libris. Visit your own bookshelves and reread a favorite novel, or pick up a classic you’ve been meaning to start but haven’t gotten around to yet. Particularly nice for summer weekend reading: Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck, My Antonia, by Willa Cather, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, and The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.

12. Stop by the farmers’ market for fresh herbs—look for lemon verbena or sorrel—then use them to heighten the flavor of your favorite grilled vegetables.

13. Do a favor. Create personalized place settings for a summer luncheon. Start by digging into that drawer filled with old note cards, spare buttons, and ribbons for materials. Not only will you clean out the drawer, you’ll have the makings of an original favor for each guest. Finish by writing each person’s name on his or her favor. Order crafts pens or markers from polymerclayexpress.com or pearlpaint.com.

14. Color theory. Spruce up a neglected room with a coat of paint. Try summery colors like Pratt & Lambert’s Snapdragon or Benjamin Moore’s Pure Joy and apply to just one wall. It will be easy enough to change when you’re ready for the rich palette of autumn.

15. Play croquet, Wiffle ball, or badminton. If you don’t have the equipment, invite a neighbor who does—or look for a used set at a yard sale."

Happy summer!


Monday, June 16, 2008

root beer cupcakes...

Happy Monday!

I have the taste results from a new recipe I tried for root beer cupcakes. I over cooked them. I was less than thrilled. My root-beer-loving-boyfriend only had one bite. Usually, he eats everything I make. Either he was very full or didn’t care for the cupcakes. The best part, however, was our darling nephew who loves “big fire” aka blowing out the birthday candles.

Regardless of the cupcakes mishap, here are some photos and a new recipe I’d like to try:

Root Beer Float Cupcakes
From http://www.yumsugar.com/494746

Yields 2 dozen cupcakes 

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup root beer schnapps

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned style root beer
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Root Beer Glaze:
4 cups confectioners sugar

1/3 cup root beer
3 Tbs. root beer schnapps*
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
*For a more kid friendly version, replace schnapps with more root beer
You will also need some extra root beer schnapps (1 Tbs. per cupcake) or for the kiddies use root beer (again 1 Tbs. per cupcake) You will also need some basic vanilla buttercream.


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

2. In a bowl, mix together root beer schnapps, root beer, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs, mix until smooth
5. Sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
6. Mix with hand mixer on low, while slowly pouring in root beer mixture.
7. Mix until smooth and lump free.
8. Pour into lined cupcake pan. (Use foil cupcake liners to avoid "leakage" later.) Fill nearly to the top, you may think it’s over-filled, but it puffs up perfectly this way.
9. Bake for 15- 20 minutes, until golden brown and cake springs back when touched.
10. While cupcakes are baking, prepare your butter cream and root beer glaze. For glaze, put all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a whisk until smooth and lump free.
11. To assemble, start by letting cupcakes cool, still in the pan.
12. While still slightly warm, pour 1 Tbs. of root beer schnapps over each cupcake. Pour on slowly to allow schnapps (or regular root beer for the kiddies) to soak in.
13. Once the schnapps has soaked in and let sit for a few minutes, pour a couple tablespoons of glaze over each cupcake.
14. When the glaze sets up a bit and isn't too runny, put a "scoop" of buttercream atop each. For an added touch, you can even place a root beer barrel candy on each one.


tea bag tag wisdom...

From the tabs of my green chai tea bags, I'd like to share some tasty morsels:

"The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment."
"Sing from your heart."
"The soul is projection: represent it."
Hugs & Squeezes,

Thursday, June 05, 2008

pledging homemade...

Last Christmas I racked my brain to make handmade items. I took the handmade pledge, pledging to make handmade items, rather than picking something up at the mall.

Admittedly, I did cheat a little. It is MUCH harder than you think. But, if you can buy other peoples handmade items too, suddenly it's easier. I was limited by my own abilities... which resulted in the men receiving gift certificates for baked items.  Win, win.  I love to bake, they love to eat. Men are difficult to buy for anyway.

I think it’s infinitely more meaningful when someone has taken the time to make me something that they think I'll love. I also like the spend-time-together gift... like a certificate for a coffee date. I have so much stuff and I can buy myself what I need... I like the memory making moments.

Any who, you can take the
pledge too and start making or purchasing handmade goods too! Learn about why to buy hommade too!!!


a mini bday party for two...

It was my boyfriend's birthday.  
Happy Birthday to JPo! I love you! 


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

bridal shower cupcakes...

Yesterday was my wonderful co-worker's work wedding shower that I co-planned with a few other people (also her last day as she's getting married Saturday, 6/7/08). She absolutely glowed. We had lots of pizza, the bride's favorite, and, of course, we cleaned up her registry by purchasing all of her towels.

Weddings are a blessing. They are an amazing time for fellowship and a glimpse into the people's lives. Two people are joined forever, ideally. I love to watch the groom's face as the bride walks down the aisle. I love the families, the cake, the energy of the day. Most of all, I love to support my friends who are getting married on what is the beginning of a new adventure. I am a nut for weddings! Not a 27 Dresses kind of a nut though.

As for my co-worker, I am so excited for her. She is an amazing person who brightens every one of my work days with humor and support.  In her honor, I made cupcakes for her work shower. She loves Italy. Naturally, Italian wedding cupcakes were the cake of choice. The recipe, however, calls for coconut and pineapple. This also celebrates her honeymoon to Maui (and ditching me for another week at work... she's my cubicle neighbor).
Anywho, they were fantastic--easily in my top 5 list of favorite cupcakes!


Monday, June 02, 2008

what's news, bubba lou...

It’s been a creative and inspiring couple of days for me. I had a cupcake party on Friday night and went to a stamping party at my aunt's house on Sunday.

Here are some photos of the festivities, beginning first with my table from the cupcake party:

Here are the four projects my cousin & I made with our aunt. First, a birthday card with a chubby, happy clown. Next, a simple block and flower thank you card and a gift tag with handmade mini roses. And finally, a gift pouch with a layered sunflower stamp and glittered bee. My aunt is so talented and I had a blast!

I have to tell you, nearly a half a dozen cupcakes later, that this was the tastiest of weekends! Thanks to my friends who made the party a blast and my cousin and aunt for a crafty Sunday afternoon! 
I hope you have an inspired week!

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