Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Final 2010 Wedding and Maternity Leave

I finished my last wedding of the season, and am officially putting myself on maternity leave. As much as I love my job I'm breathing a bit of a sigh of relief.

I think it's the fact that we decided to refinish all the nursery furniture (on top of painting the room and making the curtains and bed skirt and recovering a chair) and the amount of time that is taking combined with the lack of weather co-operation. And the fact that standing on my feet more than two hours at a time makes them start to go numb that is helping breathe a bit easier being able to focus on her room and Christmas.

So here are the pictures of the last wedding I did.

120 key lime pies

120 mini chocolate guinness cupcakes with Bailey's frosting

120 mini pumpkin spice with cinnamon cream cheese frosting

A few details as far as future booking goes:
  • I will be on maternity leave until at the least the end of March
  • I won't be taking any bookings until then (since I won't really know the temperament of my new child so I won't be able to anticipate how much I can handle with her addition). As big of an inconvenience as it may be, this includes weddings.
  • I will post on the blog and on facebook as soon as I am open to booking again.
  • Even though I won't be making bookings, I am happy to respond to emails and phone calls providing you with all the information you may need in order to make a decision.
I plan on occasionally updating the blog and facebook during this time and will respond to all correspondence, just more than likely at a slower pace than usual.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to email.

Sugar Cookies

So I really was thinking through how I was going to do a step by step video post for y'all on how to decorate christmas cookies, then after checking several of my favorite blogs as the cookie season rolled around, I realized it would be a bit of a waste.

These tutorials are probably better than anything I would have done (being new at it), so I figured I would give you my recipes and tricks and then direct you to their sites for more guidance.

Here is the biggest tip I can give you ahead of time...I make sugar cookies in at least a two day process, some times three. Not only does this make it less stressful, but I feel the process produces more fool proof cookies. So before you decide to jump head first, consider instead of making it a whole one day process taking an hour or so over three days to make these cookies.

Here is what my timeline usually looks like:
Day 1- make cookie dough, refrigerate
Days 2- roll out and cut out cookie dough, refrigerate
Day 3- bake and frost (admittedly if I'm doing 200+ cookies these get split up into separate days as well)

Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • ¾ cups Butter
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine room temperature butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and combine.

In a separate bowl, blend together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly add dry ingredients into wet batter until fully incorporated.

Drop dough onto a large piece (or two) of saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to roll out the cookies, generously flour a flat surface and roll out the dough to desired thickness (I like mine on the thicker side). You can use as much flour as you need! Side note: with other recipes I used powdered sugar to roll out on, but with this one I find the flour works best.

For best results, bake on silpat or parchment paper or well oiled cookie sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes. You want to remove from the oven before the edges brown at all. Let sit about a minute or two before taking up from the cookie sheet, if they start to break, let them sit longer. I recommend using a metal spatula.

After I roll out the cookie dough and cut it out into the shapes I want I place them in a tupperware container lined with parchment or waxed paper and stack them in the container and refrigerate as long as I need to, usually over night. When ready to bake I simply place on the cookie sheet. If you're producing lots of cookies, or doing it with kids this usually make life much more simple.

After the cookies have cooled and you've gotten the flour off your shirt, apron, pants, floor, cabinets and sink you are ready to make the frosting. What, am I the only one that cooks messy?

I'll be straight with y'all, if you're going for taste (and most baking with kids is usually more about that) I would stay away from the royal icing and go with buttercream. One of the tastiest and easiest Christmas cookies I'll make is to make small sugar cookie circles, take buttercream and place it in the middle of two, slightly squeeze together and roll the edges of icing peeking out in Christmas sprinkles (sometimes I just mix red and green sanding sugar together for this). These will transport fairly well.

The other option is to just spread buttercream on top and cover with sprinkles. These will get messed up if touched so they are a bit more precarious for travel.

If you are interested here is a very general vanilla buttercream recipe (general because I can't give away my exact secrets!): 2 sticks room temperature butter, powdered sugar (2-4 cups depending on how sweet you like it), vanilla and salt. Blend butter and sugar first and then add other ingredients.

Now that I've given you the tasty easy way let's move on to the more involved but oh so pretty method:

Royal Icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered egg whites (also called meringue powder, can be found at places like Hobby Lobby and Michael's, but take you 40% off coupon as the smaller containers will run you about $8 before hand. While it may be an upfront investment it lasts forever and really is the secret to safe, well made royal icing)
  • 3 tablespoons warm water (guesstimate, may need more or less depending on humidity)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
Lightly blend sugar and meringue powder together. With mixer on slowly add vanilla and almond flavorings, then slowly add warm water.

Remember the more you mix the wetter the mixture will become so always start with less liquid and add more. Also remember if you plan on adding food coloring (even gel ones) those will add moisture to the frosting later on that will make it more liquid.

Once you think you are close to the desired consistency crank up your mixer and whip away. For at least 5 minutes. You can add more water at this point if you think it needs it, then mix some more.

This is a great blog for showing you the proper consistency the frosting needs to be.

I typically make the thicker outlining frosting first because I can always add more water to that and use it to flood the cookies. I love getting away with only using one large bowl. I then divide up the amount I think I'll need into smaller bowls and mix in the coloring I want. When I'm ready to make it into flooding icing I just add a little bit of warm water at a time.

A few more tips:
  • Don't forget royal icing dries VERY quickly! Always keep it covered (even your frosting tips, a damp paper towel works well for this). I even rinse my beaters off right after I'm done making it so I don't have cement on my hands later. If you forget, a long soak in hot water usually does the trick.
  • This requires a steady hand which is typically learned over time. While you are in the learning process a damp (not wet or it will mess up the icing) finger tip can smooth out quite a bit.
  • Keep your tip clean. This helps to make those clean lines.

If y'all have any questions before hand, or while you are in the process of making these, feel free to post them on the facebook wall or in the comments section and I will answer them as quickly as possible. Good luck!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beach Wedding

I got to do my first destination wedding.

An excuse to go to the beach, in October....count me IN!

Admittedly transportation and finishing touches ended up being a bit more time consuming that I had originally planned, but thankfully the husband and I had planned to spend the night in Savannah so I got a little extra rest, kiddo free. And he makes a great sous chef when need be.

Did I mention we used the wedding as an excuse for a babymoon?

*Tangent* I never really got babymoons, or even date nights before or after our first. We could make all the time we needed to get whatever we wanted done, or have our own little date night after bedtime. All that changed after two. No more co-ordinating naps (or naps at all sometimes!), sleeping in, or checking every thing off our to-do list, and especially no time for after hours date night. After bedtime is now used to work on the to-do list, and date nights only happen when grandparents come in town or we hire a babysitter. Which we try to do often for our own sanity.

All that to say, if you're about to have your second, rock out the babymoon and start saving for a date night fund. Mom and Dad time makes everyone so much happier!

*Tangent Over*

Peanut Butter Cups. I wanted to do chocolate curls to make it a bit fancier (since chocolate sprinkles don't scream "wedding" to me). Hubs did a fantastic job or expertly placing these while I tried to crank out the rest of the frosting at 1am.
The only specification the bride had was lemon. She didn't care what, just lemon. Thankfully I did her wedding shower and made key lime pies, I told her I could do a lemon version of those and she was sold. This tower is the lemon pies with whipped cream and double vanilla cupcakes.
Peanut Butter Cups and Double Vanilla.

The dessert table.

So admittedly, the key lime pie recipe I mentioned earlier isn't mine. The first time I made key lime pie it turned out so perfect I couldn't think of anything to change, so it's my go to recipe. And I've given it to y'all before here. To make the lemon version, you essentially use the same recipe, but I would do just over 1/2 cup of lemon juice instead of 2/3, especially is you're using the fresh stuff. Lemon is a bit sour than I find lime to be so I dialed it back. It doesn't effect the recipe at all.

After the last post I heard back from several of y'all interested in the sugar cookie information. I'm for sure going to give y'all my recipe and tips, and I'm even contemplating doing a video instructional to go along with it, probably focusing on icing because that's the more tedious part. We'll see how the month goes though : )

At the latest I hope to have that up by early December.

I'm also about 95% sure that my last week of orders will be the week before Christmas, so if you're considering placing a holiday order (for Christmas, parties, Thanksgiving, or cookies) contact me SOON. There will be very limited availability. There may be one or two weekends I'm willing to exceed my 100 count limit as well. On cupcakes, not sugar cookies- those things take too much time : )

A wedding and the scoop on ordering. Thank y'all again for your flexibility and continued loyalty! I can't tell you how hard it has been to tell some of you no. And admittedly, some of you I haven't been able to say it to yet. Oh well, I'm transitioning into maternity leave, right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Thank you all so much for your patience and understanding! I've had quite a few questions about the parameters of my "stepping back". The short answer would be, just email me. There are lots of unique circumstances that several of you have proposed and really it all depends on how crazy my week is.

Our baseball season just ended as well so I have a bit more free time to fit things in. Weekday orders will also be the easiest for me to say yes to.

I don't think I will be completely shutting things down until sometimes in January.

Hopefully that answers a few basic questions for y'all.

Despite not taking as many orders for the future, I've still been quite busy fulfilling orders already in place. I've had two weddings in the last two weeks that I've done that I'm looking forward to sharing with you.

This one was for a fall wedding outside of Atlanta. They had several people coming in from out of town and wanted something to put in the hotel rooms to greet people as they arrived.

These are the cookies all bagged and tagged ready to go.

These are the autumn leaf cookies before being bagged up. Maybe it's my love for fall, but I adore these cookies and the different color combinations (I had several more not pictured) turned out really pretty and added a fun dimension.

When I put these up on my facebook page I had several people ask how I get the icing so smooth. Basically I use royal icing, and make sure to have the right consistency.

I'm not sure I have time to do a video, but would y'all be interested in written directions and recipes for the cookies and royal icing to get you ready for the holidays?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Getting Real

It's always hard to know how much personal to share on business oriented blogs, and how much to hold back. I'll be honest though, I generally just lay it out there. I say what I think (often to a fault) and believe in being real. I don't do much fake.

That being who I am, I'm just going to put some of who I am and where I'm at on here and hopefully not offend too many people in the process.

Life is changing for the Kelly family right now. Not only are we adding a baby girl to our numbers but my oldest son has started kindergarten. Honestly that's been a pretty rough transition in of itself for him and for us and we're still working through a lot of it.

We have also been following God and where we feel He has us. Right now that is to a new Acts 29 church plant called Emmaus Church. In the process of really praying for what God has for our lives through some crazy chain of events, my husband is currently leading worship each week at this church plant. On top of his 50 hour a week full time job and assistant coaching baseball.

We are really excited about what God is doing in our lives right now, but once you add baseball games and practice, a molar cutting two year old, cupcakes and one tired mama it makes for a pretty crazy mix.

When I first started this business a year and a half ago I was looking for ways I could best serve my family. At that point one of the biggest ways I could serve was to help bring in extra income. God graciously allowed the opportunity (literally, I was asked by someone) for the start of CupKates. It was perfect timing and was a way I could serve my family while still doing what I felt was my primary calling.

I've often been asked if I would ever open up an actual store front, and unless life throws any crazy changes my way the answer will be no. While I love my job, it's not where I feel called in life. I've always felt called to ministry and eventually hope that can be my full time (although potentially unpaid) job. Right now my main ministry is my family and hopefully raising children that love Jesus and want to serve Him. I try to serve in our church as much as time will allow, and have lots of areas that I'm passionate about, mainly teaching.

All that said, times are changing. While a few years ago the biggest way I could serve my family was financially, right now it's with time. My oldest needs all the love and attention I can give him when he is home from school. My husband who is amazing around the house and has always helped clean, do laundry and watch kiddos while I kept up with cupcake orders now has more demands on his time. Not only can he not do as much as he previously could, there are lots of ways I can help him in order to allow him more time to be with our family instead of working.

And that is what I'm feeling I need to do. Give our family more time.

I have a few weddings the remainder of the fall and no more bookings after that. I for sure will not be taking on any more weddings until at the earliest May (an even then we'll see where life has us). Other than that, I'm not entirely sure. I'd love to give more specific details, but I think it will just depend on the week and where we're at. If it's been a low key week without much drama then I'll be able to take the time to do orders. If it's a week where we've been going nonstop and I'm having to schedule pick up times in half hour increments because of my crazy schedule, I won't be taking orders for that weekend. Y'all will probably be hearing "no" a lot more.

I also don't think I'm going to be doing any large orders (like over 100).

All of this will be reevaluated come this spring and I may very well be back in full fledged cupcake mode (for the sake of supporting my desire to buy baby girl all the pretty things out there!). But for now, what I and my family need most is time and rest and cupcakes are making that a bit difficult.

That was a lot of me you just got : )

I still have lots of cupcakes to blog about and will blog about the weddings as well. I also hope to get some more recipes up for y'all in the coming months. Something fewer cupcakes will allow me the time to do!

Here are some cupcakes and cookies I did for a wedding shower a few weeks back:

These are caramel apple cupcakes (cinnamon apple cupcake with dulche de leche frosting)

I forgot to take pictures of them in the box before I packaged them up so these are actually the "mess-ups". They still taste great though!

These are monogrammed sugar cookies with tags on them that say "thanks"

These were actually a new request for me. Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting. I had never made chocolate cream cheese frosting before, I'm not sure why. As soon as I tasted them though I was kicking myself for having thought of it myself, they were amazing! I'm not normally the biggest fan of cream cheese frosting, but add the chocolate...goodnight they're delicious!

Originally when I thought of writing this post I was really intimidated and a bit anxious. But then I reminded myself how awesome and encouraging all of my clients have been about happenings in my life so far and realized it was all in my head. Not to mention, the majority of you are moms as well and I think most moms are pretty sympathetic to wanting more time with their family and giving their family the best.

I'm so grateful for such awesome clients that allow for me to be flexible like this! Thanks for being awesome!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

General Announcements

So since we had a brief glimpse of fall weather last weekend (unless you are up about 7am each morning, and then you may still be getting a bit of it) I thought I would remind you that along with the Pumpkin Spice late now available at Starbucks, so are my fall flavors.

Caramel Apple:

Cinnamon cupcake with bits of fresh apple in it topped with a dulche de leche frosting

Pumpkin Spice:

A pumpkin spice cupcake topped with your choice of cinnamon buttercream or cinnamon cream cheese frosting

I classify my snickerdoodle cupcake as more of a fall flavor, but it's available year round so not quite as special.

These as well as mini pies, and regular sized pies are available. The pumpkin, pecan and apple crisp pies get pretty popular around Thanksgiving. Warning though, I have a wedding the weekend before Thanksgiving so I will have very limited availability.

While speaking of availability I have a few openings available the end of September and the last few weekends in October.

The fall flavor cupcakes are great to take to class parties and fall festivals that are starting up in a few weeks. I admit I already have a few debuts planned for them along such lines.

One more announcement, and it's more of a personal one so you may not be all that interested (but I have awesome clients, so I think you may). As most of you know, and have heard me talk about I have two wonderful, handsome boys. And while we love our boys we both admittedly were really hoping for a girl this time. Well we were very excited to find out a few weeks ago that is what we have been blessed with!

So amidst cupcake baking I will be painting and decorating a baby girl nursery! The boys are pretty excited over having a baby sister and already ooh and ahh over all the little girls they come in contact with. They're going to be great (maybe to her dismay at times) big brothers!

Hope y'all are not going too crazy being knee deep into the school year schedule yet!

Friday, August 27, 2010


So far each wedding season I've been a part of so far there is a surprise star. Last year I was surprised how big a role sugar cookies had started to play in everything from hotel greetings to favors and decor.

I love that more and more people are relying less on tradition (lackluster vanilla cake with buttercream) and finding a dessert option that reflects them as a couple.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a traditional girl. I don't think you can go wrong with a classic. I searched for literally 3 months for a person/place that could do my wedding cake but make one that didn't well, suck. I mean really, apparently making really good cake is a lost art. You can put all the pretty fondant on it you want, but if it doesn't taste good, what's the point?

I ended up finding someone who coincidentally enough, ran an out of home bakery. To this day that is some of the best cake that I have ever eaten. We had quite a bit leftover that we got to freeze (we had a cake and punch reception for the masses, and then at the smaller dinner reception had 6 other kinds of cakes besides our wedding and grooms cake). We got to eat some through out the year leading up to our one year anniversary and that cake was just as good a year later as it was on our wedding day.

All that to say, if you're going with tradition, do it well. If you don't mind breaking out of the box a little bit, not only are cupcakes all the rage right now but I have been getting several requests for these little guys:

Mini Key Lime Pies. Don't let their cuteness fool you. For something so small they pack a punch of flavor. The perfect balance of tart and sweet and salty topped with homemade whipped cream.
Honestly I've made a couple batches up this summer just for our family. It's a perfect fit for all those BBQ's we gt invited to or just a fun dessert treat to cool you off.
If you think they would make the perfect addition to your next event, you are in good company this season!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cupcake Free

Warning, this is a cupcake, picture free post. More just the musings of a self proclaimed foodie.

So as I've mentioned, I love cooking just as much as I love baking. Admittedly, sometimes even more...I just produce more creative, consistently good baked goods. That said, I am no chef nor proclaim to be one. So view this post as notes from a well trained, self educated home cook.

I got to go to a fun new place today. I love exploring cities. A friend of mine and native Atlantan took me to a place she knew I would enjoy called Star Provisions. It's a restaurant and a market. They sell things like meats, seafood, cheese, bread and pastries (as well as ridiculously cute service ware, linens and other such fun things for all your entertaining needs and wants). They also have a gourmet cafe menu with breakfasts with luscious looking large quiches and lunch with sandwiches and other such things served on wonderful vessels like tomato parmesan focacia.

It's in an area with lots of other great restaurants and fun little shops, all within a block. A fun place to go, but very tempting on your wallet (unless of course spending $50 for a kids shirt isn't even comprehensible and then not so tempting, like it was for me.)

Now the food however...good ingredients are expensive. They just are, as much as it pains me to say, but they really do make a big difference. If you are only putting 5 ingredients in a dish it will taste infinitely better if you get the best quality of those ingredients you can find. As much as I would love to have an unlimited grocery budget to play with fun high end ingredients reality and practicality reign me in. Whole Foods and I used to be frequent friends, now we settle for quarterly or so minglings.

I knew I wanted to sample some of the glorious ingredients (like the $60 a pound Foie Gras!), but reality and practicality again needed to balance me out. So I thought about dinner. Local slab bacon, parmigiana reggiano and freshly made baguettes all were reasonable (the parmesan in small amounts) and looked great. Spaghetti Carbonara was now on the dinner menu (with bread and a salad with a honey balsamic dressing) with plenty of leftovers for lunch and enough baguette to make a breakfast bread pudding or french toast with. One of the nice things about these small specialty markets is you can buy however much you want or need, not a packaged quantity that will probably go bad before you get to it.

I walked out for $8 and change. $2.50 for the baguette (which was bigger and better than comparable at Kroger or Publix and theirs are $2), $4 or so for the parmigiana reggiano (1/8 of a pound which was enough for dinner and probably another 2 dinners) and about $1.50 for the bacon (1/4 pound).

I was happy. My gourmet lunch cost more than the main ingredients for at least 3 meals. They even had cupcakes to try. Which looked delicious and I probably would have been tempted by if I weren't full, in a bit of a rush and knew I had homemade chocolate chip cookies at home.

All this to say, if you have the least bit of foodie tendencies or just enjoy a fun place to eat really good food you should take a trip down to Star Provisions. I'm not really very familiar with all the areas of Atlanta, but I think it was considered more in the west side. It wasn't that far from downtown in my opinion. The bacon alone made it worth the drive!

If I intrigued you with my spaghetti carbonara, here is my favorite recipe. I use bacon instead of pancetta, more like half an onion, a little extra white wine (1/3 cup instead of 1/4) and just Parmesan, no pecorino. Also since I'm pregnant I went ahead and added the eggs while the pan was still on and cooked it a little bit to make sure the eggs were cooked. No longer than 2 minutes. The best part is this can easily be made in less than a half an hour. I sometimes make the sauce an hour or so before hand and just reheat it while I'm boiling the water for the pasta. Quick easy, and gourmet looking. Can't beat that!

Do you have a favorite place you go to satisfy your inner foodie?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fancy Nancy

Recently a customer contacted me to do cupcakes for her daughter who was really into Fancy Nancy books. Being immersed in a world of baseball and testosterone I had never heard of the books, but was excited to learn more. Apparently they are all about a girl who wants to be fancy and loves all things wonderful like pearls and heels, and feather boas and generally being a bit over the top. My only starting point was that her daughter asked for strawberry fuchsia cupcakes.

Brace yourself for girliness:

Strawberry, fuchsia (or as close as I could get!) cupcakes. To make a bit more...fancy, I went with the rose frosting technique and dipped them in purple sprinkles

I also layered some of the cupcake wrappers for a fun look

Feathers, you may ask? Feathers! Maybe one of the most fun cupcake accessory I've gotten to work with! These are double chocolate cupcakes with hot pink sprinkles accessorized with pink feathers.

A side view.
I had a lot of fun making these. They were just so wonderfully girly. I love getting to do fun and creative stuff as well. I think these would be great fun for a bachelorette party.
Now for a complete change of topic. I don't know about most of you, but it seems like we have been either going to, or hosting quite a few cook outs recently. It seems like with school starting up these are actually increasing with friends getting back together or kicking off new groups or seasons.
While I'm sure it may be assumed that I always bring something very homemade and usually sweet to these types of events, you would be wrong. Not only am I more of a salty person there for bringing mainly more savory dishes (plus that way I have something I know my kids will eat, just in case), sometimes I'm tired of baking cupcakes for my job and just want something quick.
This is where I'm going to share a few shortcuts I have with you. This weekend we were invited to a cookout. We wanted to go but had already had a very full day planned. We would have 45 minutes in the house in which I needed to make something, get me and the boys changed, freshened up and swing by the store to grab drinks.
Confession: I make things from a box. Well, maybe not things, but I do make one thing from a box. Brownies. In particular, Ghiradelli. I buy the box from Costco that has 6 packages, and in 45 minutes I can have wonderful brownies ready to go. Bringing vanilla ice cream usually makes me a rock star as well. They have no hydrogenated oils and are just a shade less tasty than homemade.
Now for an easy savory side dish for cook outs. I don't know about y'all but my family loves baked beans. They can be easy and are usually a crowd pleaser. While I have tried numerous recipes making baked beans from scratch, I haven't found one yet that beats this shortcut. Buy Bush's baked beans, the family size can in the vegetarian flavor. Poor the can in a pretty bowl, add about 3 (or more) tablespoons of your favorite sweet and smokey BBQ sauce. Stir, heat for 3 minutes, cover and walk out the door. These are really good and really simple. In fact there was hardly any we got sent home with and I got irritated at my husband for throwing them out without asking. I was going to eat them as a snack with potato chips. Because I'm pregnant and I can do things like that.
Hopefully that gives you a few easy go to options for you next get together. Fanciness and convenience all in one post. Amazing what I can get done with only one child around!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wedding Brainstorming

I'm sure in August more than anything y'all have back to school on the brain...not weddings. And while my house is immersed in getting ready for school (I have a kindergartner this year!) I am also prepping for wedding season.

For me the busiest wedding times are May and then October. June and September are usually pretty busy as well. Right now I'm brainstorming lots of ideas and option for weddings and getting ready to do several tastings. And busy returning lots of emails regarding such.
I've been coming up with (what I think) are fun ideas like a cupcake bar (with margarita, mudslide, pina colada, type flavors), mini key lime pies for a beach wedding and doing some fun monogramming on the cupcakes as well.
I also have been trying a few different decorating options apart from the standard. I think this is sweet and elegant. They're also great for anniversary presents!

Friday, July 30, 2010


So I think I owe y'all an explanation for going almost two months without posting anything. I really do not consider myself a slacker by any means, and I haven't stopped making cupcakes. I simply become a little more...limited in my capabilities.

Really it can all be explained in two words: morning sickness. Now I know there are some women that are incredible graceful and glowing during their first trimester. Let me clarify: I am not one of those women. I consider survival alone through that period a blessing, forget functionality.

So while I did not shut down making cupcakes, some days making cupcakes occurred by the grace of God alone. Dealing with two active boys on top of that was about all I could handle. So for nearly two months there has been no blogging.

But I'm back, and ready to make up for lost time. Before I fully transition into cupcakes though I will say that while I have not taken a leave of absence for morning sickness, I will be doing so for the baby. While I won't set hard and fast dates (because having done this twice before I know it all depends on how I'm feeling and how fast I recover) but I'm thinking from mid January to the end of February I will for sure be out of commission. I'm due at the beginning of February.

On to cupcakes.

So one of me new favorite things are cupcake favors. Mainly because they are adorable.

These were for a baby shower for a little girl. The colors were mainly pink and brown, so I made color co-ordinating cupcakes (raspberry almond with chocolate frosting) and put it all together with matching tags and ribbon as well. These would also be fun for other types of showers (I'm going to do some for a bridal shower...), birthdays, and weddings!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cake Tips and a Recipe

Among my friends talking about cake mixes around me used to be taboo. For some reason they thought I was going to judge them for using a box mix.

I realize not every one views cooking and baking as therapeutic and fun like I do. I even realize that there are some people that have the exact opposite view on cooking and baking as I do. Which is good, it keeps me employed : )

I have no judgement against cake mixes (other than my hydrogenated oil phobia). It was all my mom used growing up and my first experiences in cake making. You can make a decent cake using the box mixes and following the directions. But really...who wants just a decent cake? Obviously I think you can get a superior cake from scratch (and if y'all just knew how easy it was you wouldn't be the least intimidated!), but there are also some things you can do to cake mixes to get a pretty good cake out of them too. I'm going to share my wisdom with you so you never have to eat lackluster cake again (made by you any how).

Don't follow the directions. All the oil and water, eh. There are only two cakes I make using oil and neither of them are any thing vanilla based or chocolate based. You can find the cake mixes that call for butter. GET THEM. Butter makes every thing better. Seriously. Once equipped with the right kind of cake mix, continue to ignore the directions. You are going to be asked to add water. DON'T DO IT. You could pretty much add any thing else in your refrigerator and it will taste better than adding water. Here are some suggestions:

Sour Cream
Whole Milk
Guinness Beer

Sour Cream
Whole Milk
Coconut Milk
Any type of citrus juice (obviously it will flavor your cake)

Just add the substituted ingredient in the amount that the cake calls for and you can follow the directions from there.

If there is one area that I promise will take your cake to the next level it's making your own frosting. Again, for some reason people find it super intimidating, but I promise it's ridiculously easy. If the thought of butter cream intimidates you, you could start off a bit easier with something like a ganache or just using homemade whipping cream. A frosting 101 post may be coming soon.

However if you think you may be up for trying a cake from scratch that takes about the same amount of effort as a box mix, you MUST try this cake! It's ridiculously easy and super tasty. It's perfect for summer as well because it's light and fruity. Plus, if you make it right...almost healthy.

I'd been hearing people rave about yogurt cakes and hadn't ever tried one, so I wanted to give it a go. It being a different cake base than I was used to I used a trusted recipe as a starting place. However I wanted to do some thing differently. So here is the recipe I ended up using:

1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (normally I would recommend just regular olive oil but I didn't have any, I like the extra depth it added to the cake)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup lime juice
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Strawberry Sauce:
I don't have an exact recipe, these are guesstimates, if you like less sugar add less, more add more.

20 strawberries sliced and hulled (or 1 bag frozen strawberries)
1/3 cup sugar
squeeze of lemon juice

Place strawberries in a container with sugar and lemon juice (I may be known to occasionally add a drop of Grand Marnier as well) stir slightly and refrigerate over night. Puree with blender, or food processor. To obtain a thicker sauce, boil for a few minutes on the stove, adjust sweetness to taste.

For frozen strawberries, defrost and them place them in saucepan with sugar and lemon juice, bring to a boil, and let boil until desired thickness, tasting and adjusting sweetness to taste. Cool then puree in blender or food processor.

The sauce takes more time but I always make a lot of it and freeze it when fruit is fresh in season. I do the same thing with peaches and will use the fruit purees to make home made ice cream, and to add to cupcakes.

Not so good iPhone pic of the final result

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Secret Desire

So I have this secret desire which I occasionally get to entertain: to be a party planner. I love planning things, and apparently I am "dual brained" which gives me the ability to be creative and attentive to detail. So when my own childrens birthday parties come up, or we have people over my husband gets the not so easy task of reigning me in.

Thankfully this time he didn't have to work too hard. My oldest (Josh) and I are both born in May. Two days apart as a matter of fact (and if you were wondering, yes it is kind of a bummer to have to spend two of your days...Mothers and Birth, making my sons day special. But it's worth it, right?).
Being in the baking business, May is a busy month. Between weddings and showers and Mothers Day and birthdays, I'm going non-stop. This May was no exception. So when we were trying to pick out a time to have Josh's birthday we ran into a bit of a conundrum. Do I have to after a wedding, or...after a wedding? Pretty much leaving me 48 hours to get every thing ready for his party. EVERYTHING. Like buying every thing too.
Some how we managed to pull together and give my son the superhero party of his dreams. He had no idea about all the great ideas mommy wished she had time to execute (like the superhero emblem on the driveway, or the sign that said "welcome to superhero training camp", or the mask decorating table, and the very grand city block cake with all of his favorite superheros on it I was going to make...). Either way he loved every minute of it.

The final cupcake product. Like I said, I had some thing grander in mind, so this was kind of my cop out, but I think it turned out pretty well.
The "tablescape". We were decorating superhero star cookies
After I made these my husband told me I had a sickness. Apparently he thought napkin rings were unnecessary for kids parties. Huh.
In case you are wondering about how I made them I had them custom made for me from etsy. I printed them and then used a special pinch to cut them out. Easy and cheap.

Iron man loved his cupcakes. He likes pretty much any thing with sugar. We had a bunch of fun and played games like superhero training course (which was a failed to attempt to tire out the boys) and practiced our shooting skills. That was a big hit, we had Iron Man and Spiderman waterguns for everyone (which late became part of their goodie bags) and I made an awesome bubble recipe (may come soon). They had to shoot down the bubble with their water guns. Boys and guns. You can't really go wrong there.
So for 48 hours I was happy, my secret desire got it's fill for the time being, or at least until my youngests birthday now 20 days away...gulp.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May weddings, Cookies!

I lumped these two weddings together because they are all about the cookies. I had two weekends back to back of 150-200 monogrammed wedding sugar cookies. I learned that you can get blisters from baking-who knew?

This was for a wedding at the Carl House, which is one my favorite venues here in the Atlanta area (the other being Trackside 550). It is gorgeous!!! Their colors were light blue and yellow. When I made a test run to give them some choices they couldn't choose between two so we did 100 of the blue background ones and 100 of the yellow background ones. The mainly blue ones have yellow ribbons on the bags and the mainly yellow have blue ribbons.

This next wedding was in St. Louis for my cousin. I also ended up helping co-ordinate the day of the wedding so I was wiped once I got home. I consider myself a fairly organized person, and secretly love event planning so I didn't mind one bit, but I am telling you- weddings are a complicated business! Wedding lingo is like a foreign language! I think one of the best things I did for my wedding day was hire someone who I knew would be just as anal and detailed as I was so I didn't have to worry about a thing the day of. It was such a blessing to have that peace of mind!

Now I got married in St. Louis, so you can't hire her, but I know someone down here just as fabulous. She has a meticulous eye, is creative, budget conscious, detailed and has amazing taste! If you want to check her out you can go to her website to learn more.

This is how I packaged the cookies for travel. However if you don't want to have them at every place setting this would be a fun display as people are walking out to take a favor.

Just a few of the black and white themed cookies in process.

This is what the cookies looked like on the table and how they had them displayed. My aunt also has a secret passion for event planning so the decorating was beautiful and fun!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May wedding #1

I have spent the majority of May to date baking. Mainly cookies, so I was thrilled to have at least one all cupcake wedding. Since it is kind of my thing. And in case y'all hadn't heard...cupcakes are SO in. Get on the bandwagon!
We were leaving EARLY the next morning for STL so my pictures are not very good and just of the cupcakes themselves. Maybe I'll throw one up of what they looked like at the wedding if I get one. After all, that is the best part!
These were for a small, low key wedding. We did chocolate with Bailey's, double vanilla, snickerdoodle, coconut cream, and one other flavor I can't remember : )

double vanilla and snickerdoodle
jumbo bride and groom cupcakes in double vanilla and double chocolate

double chocolate

Chocolate with Bailey's
More wedding goodness coming soon!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


So I had big plans for posting after I did my last post. However the day after I wrote that within a matter of hours my grandma went into major surgery and then passed away. Needless to say it's kind of thrown life into a whirl wind. Thankfully we had already planned a trip home (St. Louis) for my cousins wedding. So instead of posting I got to help with funeral arrangements, and then days later make 150 monogrammed wedding cookies and play wedding co-ordinator for the day.

Life has been a little crazy.

I'm looking forward to getting back into my routine which includes posting and cupcakes. It's been almost two weeks since I've made cupcakes y'all!

These sugar cookies are all well and good (I'm doing another wedding with them this weekend) but cupcakes are my thang. And I look forward to getting back to it.

So while I'm still unpacking, doing laundry and processing, here is some thing to give me a few days:

I don't typically do cupcake cakes like this. I think I do a better job when they are flat and I can do my buttercream magic. But it was for a dear friend whose daughter I adore and is one of my sons close friends....and I just wanted to do some thing fun. Is it immaculate-no, but is it whimsical and fun yes, and that was perfect for the birthday girl!

They were double vanilla cupcakes

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


So I feel really guilty about not posting for about a month.

In fact I gave some cupcakes away this weekend to make me feel better about it (by the way, I do fairly regular cupcake giveaways on my facebook site, you should check it out), I'm not sure it worked.

So instead of continuing to give away cupcakes (not that I'm stopping...) I figured I would finally ease my conscious by doing that which the lack of had made me feel guilty to begin with...blog!
I'll give you my good reasons why it's been a month since I blogged.
First, I made this cupcake cake for a twelve year old girl. She told me it was exactly what she wanted. High praise from a twelve year old!

Then, I made these little cuties for Easter. They also happen to be two of my summer flavors: coconut cream, and sunshine (lemon cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting) cupcakes.

Bright and early at 5am the next day was my trip to Philly, which was wonderful. I came home and hit the ground running, making these for a fun networking event I got to go to. Red Velvet minis.

After that I had put the finishing touches on my husband's surprise 30th birthday party. I would like to say that it's really hard to plan things without your significant other knowing. It was a given that I was going to make cupcakes for his birthday, so it wasn't difficult to get a flavor request from him. Normally his request would be red velvets, but he had gotten spoiled with leftovers recently, so instead he requested (my favorite!) raspberry almond with chocolate frosting. If you don't order them though, you might not get to...because those are too good to give away, no matter how cupcaked out I am!

I have a few other things I've been doing in the last month, but I have to save some things to show you, or else I won't post for another month!

I have weddings almost every weekend in May, so my weekend availability is almost non-existent. I still have some week day openings if you want to try to get in on that. I'm already getting requests for August and September as well. All that to say, if you have a date in mind you think you might want something for, let me know! I will pencil you in for that date!

I have difficulties saying no, so it would just make my life easier if you book early so I don't have to tell you no : ) That's another thing that makes me feel guilty...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring and Life

I consider it spring when the daffodils have bloomed and I can wear flip flops out at least once with out regretting the decision. Due to my calculations, it's officially spring! Spring always brings about the thought of flowers and Easter. I've been doing some experimenting with both:

These are half of another set that spelled out "Happy 28 Kate", the purple ones were flower inspired

This is a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream decorated to look like a hydrangea

These are my Easter cupcakes. Admittedly, I'm not very into chicks or the Easter bunny, I don't want to distract from the focus of the holiday. That said, I don't mind eggs because they represent new life. So they are chocolate cupcakes with a mini Cadbury egg baked inside (and on top) frosted with vanilla buttercream and toasted coconut.

Good Friday brings the start of spring break here. My kids are not in school yet, so typically this wouldn't effect our family however I lead a small group of high school girls with the youth at our church. Every year they go on mission trips during spring break and this year I get to go with them. I'm super excited to go and serve in the inner city of Philadelphia, but that also means that I will be out of touch for a week.

So if you email me or call, I may not get back to you right away, and won't be able to do any orders for that week (April 5-10). I will have my email on auto reply with some information and my number for if there is something you need right away, but even that make take some time, so please be patient!

If you are interested in Easter orders though, I'm taking those until Thursday!