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January 28, 2020

Puppy Love Cake using Heart Pans

When I was in elementary school, I remember my Granny having a cake decorating booklet that gave creative ideas for turning a sheet cake into something special.  After a quick internet search, I found some images from a 1956 pamphlet that look very similar to what I remember.

I can remember pouring over these pages.  Such creative solutions out of simple shapes and ingredients.

If you browse around on Pinterest, you'll find some amazing examples that are similar to this.  There is something so nostalgic about these cakes.  I love thinking of ingenious women through the ages that craft things out of nothing, just for their family's delight.  

I went down this memory lane after discovering one such inspirational example on Pinterest where a heart-shaped pan was used to create a puppy cake.  While the cake doesn't cream Valentine's Day, there is a black heart-shaped nose that nods it in that direction.

We used coloring to mimic that of Mr. Darcy, but a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting would be adorable, too.

Puppy Love Cake
Supplies & Instructions

1-2 Heart Pans
Parchment Paper
Disposable Piping Bags
Off-set Spatula
1 box cake mix, prepared (oil, eggs & water)
2 sticks of butter (1 softened, 1 melted)
2 cups of powdered sugar
food coloring (brown, black & pink)
White Melting Chocolate (for tongue)

Cake :

You will need two heart cakes.  We have 2 Heart Pans so we were able to bake both cakes at once.  If you only purchase, one you can just make the cakes in batches.

I always line my pans with Parchment Paper on the bottom and the sides.  Cakes come out perfectly every single time.

Frosting :

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together softened butter with powdered sugar.  When combined, begin adding melted butter until you've reached the consistency you would like.  There is a bit of trial involved with this method - if you feel it is too thick, add more melted butter.  If you feel it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.  You are going for a tad thicker whipped cream consistency.

Tint the frosting :

Frosting Black : Eyes & Nose
Beige : Ears & Spot
Leave White : Head

Put each of the three frostings into a Disposable Piping Bag (I like the large 18" size for buttercream).

Pink Tongue

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in a glass bowl 30 seconds at a time until melted.  Add a tiny drop of red or pink to make color.  On a sheet of Parchment Paper  shape it into a tongue shape using a piping bag or just a spoon and let it cool.  After about 5 minutes it will be set and you can add it to the cake.

Parchment Paper

When cakes have cooled, place one in the middle, upside down.  Cut the 2nd cake in half and turn it upside down for ears.  Trim the "ears" in a bit to fit around the head.

I frosted the white head first, then the ears and the spot.  The best technique is to outline the shapes, then fill in and smooth out with an offset spatula or a knife.   We added the eyes and the nose, then inserted the pink tongue. 

Such a fun and easy project that took just an hour after school.  My favorite thing to do is to teach her how to make something out of nothing with her own hands - so satisfying. 

January 24, 2020

The Valentines Collection | Sweet & Simple

At the beginning of last year, I wrote how I felt like I had really gotten the hang of this store thing.  By mid-December I was already ordering Valentine's inventory - I had this all figured out.  This year I feel like I'm behind on everything.  I have a good excuse for feeling a bit overwhelmed with work that I'll share next week (many of you saw some hints in my Insta stories).  It is a big project that I've been working towards since I quit my real job 16 years ago.  I'm opening a store.  There!  I ruined the surprise.  I am opening up an "in real life" store near our home that I'll use as a creative studio and retail space.  Ah!

The last month has been a little up in the air finalizing the contract, making plans, designing the space, etc. and has sucked up most of my working hours.  With the extra planning and dreaming that has been going on, I've craved simplicity everywhere else.

As I contemplated the Valentine's Collection with my head still buzzing from the Holidays, I kept trying to come up with something extra - maybe a woodblock inspired graphic for the tag, or a antique feeling full color something... and all I could wrap my brain around was a simple pale pink heart.  It was tugging at me.  Keep it simple.  The more I leaned into the idea of keeping Valentine's Day as pure and simple as possible, the more I embraced it.  

After everything that the Holiday season is, Valentine's should be simple - delicious treats wrapped with pretty ribbon and a heart.  I'm also convinced that everything doesn't have to be tinted pink or red and formed into the shape of a heart (though that can be fun, too).  Instead, make your very favorite cookie recipe of all time, spend a cozy afternoon baking and wrapping them with love.  That's it.  No pressure, no obligations, just giving from the heart.  I love Valentine's Day.

Shop the Valentine's Collection, here >

We made this Puppy Cake out of two heart cakes and really simple icing decorations.  The heart nose makes it adorable for Valentine's Day.  I'll share a tutorial soon.

"love" script cupcakes with Dripping Chocolate Icing recipe >

 Heart Cake topped with easy Buttercream Flowers using Floral Tips

January 20, 2020

Gold Leaf Frames, Mat Boards & Botanical Prints | Gallery Wall Favorites

Gold Frames, Botanicals & Photo Mats

I first located these frames when I created a botanical gallery wall in our guest room (tour here and photos below).  Since then, I've added them to almost every corner of our home.  Some have botanicals like those in our hearth room, and some have photos like the gallery wall going up our stairs.  I haven't always been confident in my wall hanging skills - trying to determine scale, mats and genre is an acquired skill on which I'm still working.  But I have managed to create a couple of corners in our home that just work and work because of the framed prints.

This corner in our living room is one of my favorites and this new look with the Antique Narrow Mats (meaning that they are oversized mats for our narrow small prints that mimic the proportion of the frame) and the tonal seaside coral prints.  It all just works with our neutral room.  The gold is the perfect bit of elegance to keep this room feeling special but not overly fussy.

The Frames, Mat Boards & Botanical Prints are all back in stock in my store.  

This gallery wall going up our stairs is a favorite.  This is where I pull in different types of frames (besides my beloved gold leaf) but they are all coordinating.  I update/rearrange seasonally (just a couple of them that are most dominant) to give this spot a new feel.  This was our arrangement for the Summer - beach photos, whales, and some paintings and sketches to make it feel more eclectic.  

Our hearth room framed collection has grown from four (two on each side of the fireplace) to eight (four on each side).  Just adding four more prints has completed this room - I love it. 

Forgive Christmas photos!  Taken last month when I added them : )

Before (and out of focus!)

Here is the Before with just two on each side.  Using the Wide Narrow Mats keeps the space from feeling cluttered and still gives it a nice fresh look, but completes the space.

Now feeling more complete and finished.

I recently found a new spot to display a botanical collection in our powder room.  These are 8x10" frames with 5x7" prints.  They were the perfect addition to the bathroom... even though it was very difficult to get a great shot of them.

Sometimes you need small prints and sometimes you need oversized prints like I used here in the Guest Room.

This is my favorite collection to use in bedrooms - they are very sweet.  Emma's room is the only one without and botanicals right now... but I'm thinking of adding a collection of 5x7 minis in her room in a set of nine this spring.  Shop Botanical Prints >

I wanted to take you back to the Living Room this summer to show how just changing the botanicals can take this spot to a completely different place.  What feels understated now with the tonal coral prints feels vibrant and fresh here during the summer.  But same gold frames : )

This our from Our Bedroom, and features Whale Prints - even though I put these up for the summer, I've kept these here all year long.  Love soft navy accents in our bedroom.

The School House can't escape the gold frames (I mean, do I have a problem?!?!).  Here is a big collection of botanicals above the sofa.  You can see more photos of the School House as it was set up for the Autumn Open house, here >

Shop the Frames & Botanical Prints Collection, here >

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