Monday, May 31, 2010

My Cupcake Pops

So these are my Cupcake Pops inspired by Bakerella and her adorable and genius ideas! I had a bit of difficulty shaping these the way I wanted since I only had a double sided biscuit cutter 1/2-inch larger than I needed. My Cupcake Pops ended up a bit larger than I would have liked and I didn't take my time decorating them, so they aren't quite as cute as I was aiming for. But with their pastel tops and colorful nonpareils they are still pretty darn adorable, if I do say so myself.

I used a boxed moist vanilla cake for the base of the Cupcake Pops, combining the cooled crumbs with a homemade cream cheese frosting. The result was an incredibly yummy and moist interior. I shared these with family tonight and among seven people twenty of these disappeared in a couple hours. They are pretty addictive!

On another note, the hubby and I have exciting plans for the morning! We are going to look at a few brand new rental houses, officially beginning our hunt for a new place. I couldn't be more excited! If we end up with any of the places we've been looking at online, it will be a huge upgrade from our current apartment. We're looking to rent a 3 bedroom, 2.5 or 3 bath single-family home with all the modern conveniences we've been missing the past two years (central heat and air, dishwasher, laundry). I am so excited about the prospect of moving into a bigger and better place in a couple of months! I'm sure I'll be updating about our progress of looking for a rental home, moving, and--further down the road--decorating!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer Necklaces

For all those who were interested in the Oui, Darling Necklace when I first posted about it back in March, I know have it available in my shop!

Also in the shop is this adorable necklace featuring the cutest vintage brass bunny charm ever! I call it BunBun and the Cabbage Rose and it's inspired by a close friend's seriously cute bunny. I love the vibrant colors and the whimsical design. I think it's a perfect necklace for the sunny days of summer!

More on Cupcakes

Tonight I have a date to make these Cupcake Pops from Bakerella. Originally I was just planning to make some simple Cake Pops to practice and see how many I'll get of a certain size (in preparation for a bridal shower that I'll be making them for in June), but then I decided that I'll give these little cuties a try as well. I don't exactly have the cookie cutters that Bakerella suggests using for shaping the base of the cupcakes, but I'm going to try to improvise with what I have in my collection. I'm thinking about making mine with chocolate coated bottoms and a variety of pastel color tops (pink, blue, mint green, peach). I was hoping to find some white nonpariels or some small pastel sprinkles, but all I could really find at Kroger on short notice was some rainbow nonpariels. Hopefully they turn out cute as I could use a little cheering up...

Tonight is the series finale of FlashForward and I'm really sad to see it go. The hubby and I both really enjoyed the show and are disappointed that it got cancelled. With Lost over now as well, there are only a handful of great shows left on the air. Without giving anything away to those who still may have not seen the Lost finale, I must say I haven't really come to terms yet with the conclusion. I was really angry while watching the last 15 or so minutes of the finale and I'm still pretty annoyed with the way things were concluded. I've decided that I really need to rewatch the last two seasons again before fulling committing myself to an opinion about the finale. As silly as it sounds, I've been experiencing a weird sense of loss since Lost ended. Part of me feels a bit numb as well since the conclusion was so lackluster for me. Oh well, at least Dexter's still around.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

For the Love of Cupcakes!

Ever since I saw these Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes on Pink Parsley last month, they have been on my mind almost nonstop. I intended to make them soon after I saw the post, but being so busy lately, time got away from me and I have still yet to make them. The recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated, so you know it has to be amazing. An intensely chocolaty cake is baked with a dollop of ganache filling. The cupcakes are then topped with creamy chocolate frosting. I am determined to make these soon!

There always seem to be a million cupcakes and other recipes on my list of things to try but I never seem to find the time or purpose to bake as much as my heart desires. Now that my hubby is starting a new job in a few weeks, I'm already dreaming up all the things I can bake for his future coworkers. (As silly as it is, one of my first questions for my hubby about his new job was whether or not I could bake cupcakes for his coworkers.) So, with more baking in my future, I thought I'd share a few of the cupcakes I've seen around the interwebs lately that have caught my eye and been added to my long list of recipes to try.

These Oreo Cupcakes from My Baking Addiction are made from a "doctored cake mix" and are topped with a buttercream frosting filled with crushed Oreos. Now, I usually shy away from using cake mixes, but since these Snickerdoodle Cupcakes were so fabulous, I figure I'll give these Too Much Chocolate Cake cupcakes a try. And from the chocolate pudding mix, sour cream and chocolate chips in the batter, I have a feeling they'll be intensely chocolaty and very moist! Plus I'm very curious to try the buttercream recipe which My Baking Addiction says is her favorite. While I have always gone with all butter in my frostings previously, lately I've really been wanting to experiment with using a bit of shortening to create frostings that are more stable at room temperature. I'd top these Oreo Cupcakes with Mini Oreos. I'm definitely curious to try these out as soon as possible.

These Lemon Cupcakes (also from My Baking Addiction), while so simple in their decoration, are some of the cutest cupcakes I've seen around lately! Something about the sunny yellow baking cups and the single yellow sprinkle atop a creamy swirl of frosting is perfection. I'm going to have to get my hands on some lemon extract to try these, though I might make a few adjustments and create an orange version first, since I have plenty of orange extract in my pantry. After the Lemon Mascarpone Macarons I made recently, I'm dreaming of all the different lemon/mascarpone and lemon/cream cheese combinations I can think of. I love tart desserts!

I saw these Crème Brulee Cupcakes at Bakers Royale yesterday and immediately thought they were genius! I think these would be a great finale for a summer dinner party--classic but playful. I imagine the crème brulee centers of the cupcakes would a perfect creamy contrast to the crumb of the cake. Bakers Royale used Magnolia Bakery's Chocolate Cupcake recipe as the base of these cupcakes, which reminded me that I have been meaning to give their recipe a try.

These last cupcakes aren't technically cupcakes, but they sure are cute! Miniature Reese's Cups have been frosted and decorated and pass as some seriously adorable little cupcakes. Confessions of a Cookbook Queen uses them as cupcake toppers and they sure are whimsical and cute!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lemon Mascarpone Macarons

This past week I finally found time to bake some more French macarons. I couldn't believe I hadn't made these since last year. Last time I used David Lebovitz's recipe for Chocolate French Macarons with a few modifications. This time I went with Not So Humble Pie's recipe from her fabulous Macaron 101: French Meringue tutorial. I followed her recipe and directions for macarons, save I decided to grind my own almonds after getting crackled tops on some chocolate macarons that I made with Good Foods almond flour (I couldn't find Bob's Red Mill almond flour that she suggested using).

I left my macaron shells plain and colored them with a bit of yellow gel dye. For the filling, I used Not So Humble Pie's recipe for Mascarpone Lemon Filling. I used store bought lemon curd in my filling to save time. Strangely I had difficulties with the texture of the filling. After thoroughly mixing the mascarpone cheese and lemon curd together, I couldn't get the mixture to firm back up, despite an entire night in the fridge. After a few hours in the freezer, the mixture was firm enough to pipe, but would warm back up to a oozing mess. I basically had to pipe a thin layer of the filling on a macaron shell and then let the filling set up in the fridge before I could sandwich with another macaron shell (otherwise the filling would just ooze right out). I'm not sure what caused this problem as the mascarpone cheese and lemon curd separately were both firm while cold before mixing, and Not So Humble Pie's macarons appeared to have a firm and stable filling.

The filling was absolutely divine despite the issues it gave me. I thought the tartness of the filling was an absolute perfect pairing with the sweet macaron shells. Unfortunately I couldn't fill the macarons with as much of the filling as I would have liked, since it would just ooze out. These little macarons were absolutely heavenly nonetheless. I'm dreaming of all the different fruit curds I could pair with mascarpone cheese to fill future macarons. I think a macaron with homemade strawberry curd would be splendid!

Most of my macarons baked up with slightly lopsided feet. I guess it's time that I invest in some new baking sheets and precut parchment sheets.

Lemon Mascarpone Macarons
Ms. Humble's Scatter Plot Macarons + Not So Humble Mascarpone Lemon Filling

* The vintage floral napkin in the background of these photos was from de Epoca, a darling vintage shop on Etsy. I won a gift card from de Epoca back in February and I picked out two sets of lovely vintage floral napkins! I'm sure they'll be turning up in many of my photos.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From Frumpy to Fabulous!

I am crazy about this Before & After over at Design*Sponge today. The makeover was submitted by Joëlle from Umbu Lumière and I think it's fabulous! Something about the finished chair screams preppy to me, which isn't my usual style, but I am absolutely drawn to it. I really love how Joëlle left the two middle pieces on the back of the chair unpainted, while giving the rest a crisp, clean coat of white paint. And that plaid fabric on the seat? Repurposed from an old shirt. How fantastic is that?! This amazing before & after is going to be stuck in my head for quite some time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Farmhouse Character

{click photos for link to original sources}

I've been a fan of farmhouse tables for quite some time. I love their rustic, loved appearance and the way they perfectly compliment mismatched vintage dishes and chairs. I love the way a worn butcher block top makes for a hardy work surface and an interesting background for photos.

I particularly love the pairing of crisp, white legs with a stained wooden top. I love the way a farmhouse table can look so rustic while being effortlessly feminized with a beautiful doily table runner or a vase of flowers.

I love how simple they can look. They appear humble yet trustworthy, as though they've witnessed generations of conversations around breakfast and again at dinner between family members and close friends.

To say it simply, I just love their character. I've been dreaming of making one of these beautiful tables my own. I was standing in my kitchen today, arranging vintage china on pink open shelves and I was imagining how perfect a farmhouse table would accent my space. Though I often long for modern conveniences (oh, to own a dishwasher!), sometimes I really love the character of my kitchen. There's a 1940's farmhouse drainboard sink and a mishmash of furniture to add storage and workspace to otherwise open space. There are interesting architectural details and quaint little windows. It can be really charming when I look past the ugly floor, stained walls, and noisy pipes. I really think that a farmhouse table would be just the thing to add cohesion and create the illusion that all the little quirks were intentional.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Sorry I've been so absent from the blog lately! I've been in relaxation and regrouping mode since Mayfest. I relaxed most of last week and then spent ALL DAY on Friday, well into the wee hours of the morning, cleaning and reorganizing my studio. The studio hadn't seen a complete overhaul for probably close to a year. It felt so great to go through and reorganize everything from top to bottom. My desk drawers and closets are much more functional now and I love it! It's so easy, especially when you work with lots of small items, to let things get taken over with clutter. Projects in various states of completion were taking over the entire studio and it was driving me bonkers! But now, everything is back in its rightful place and I feel so calm and focused and ready to get back in the swing of things.

I am expecting a busy summer ahead of me. Last summer I participated in shows every weekend (except three) from June until the end of August and I was completely exhausted by the end of things. This year my goal has been to focus on participating in fewer shows, mainly larger, higher traffic venues, and to pay more attention to my Etsy shop and to selling at boutiques locally.

I have already started to shift focus to photographing items for my Etsy shop. I have had intentions to really fill up my shop for the past couple of years. I always dread the act of photographing items, editing photos, and creating listings (mainly because I am a perfectionist). With the nature of my work, many of my designs are one of a kind or a few of a kind and it seems that I often spend so much time preparing to list something on Etsy only for it to sell locally as soon soon as it get it listed. I then have to remove the item and lose the time and money I spent listing it in the first place. Sometimes I wonder what the point is. BUT, I have so many wonderful customers who meet me at shows or find my designs at their favorite boutique and they crave and online source where they can really browse the extent of my collection. I really want to be able to provide an online shop that accurately reflects the vast number of items I have in stock at any given time. So, despite all my annoyances with Etsy, I am going to spend the next few weeks focusing on getting my shop in shape. And I'm hoping that sometime this summer I can finally get my hubby to help with designing my very own website.

This summer will be a busy one for That Winsome Girl. I hope to expand my business and see where things go. I really struggle with shyness and insecurities, and for so long I have been letting them take power over me and limit my growth. I have grown so much as a person over the past few weeks and I'm finally going to let go and trust in God and the talents and blessings he's given me. I am incredibly blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband, wonderful family and friends, and the best customers a girl could hope for. I think it's about time that I stop listening to the insecurities and consider all the generous praises I receive from others. I'm ready to jump into things wholeheartedly and just enjoy and appreciate where life leads me. I have a feeling it's going to be a real journey.

Amid all the ramblings, I've shared a few photos of my display from Mayfest. I took these on Sunday morning after customers started arriving and it was quite difficult to get any photos taken, so these mediocre ones will have to do. Unfortunately I wasn't able to really finish several of the ideas I had for my display. As you could see, I wasn't able to find time before the show to sew the ruffled tablecloths I had been envisioning. My booth wasn't quite the whimsical little space I had hoped, but that's okay. The show was a huge success despite my less-than-perfect display. I had set an incredibly high goal for myself after the success I experienced last year at the show. I was able to meet and exceed my goal and the weekend was a huge blessing! Before the rest of my summer shows, however, I do plan to sew those darling ruffled tablecloths, make some tissue paper pom-poms, and figure out some other ways to add a few more pops of color to my display. I've switched from using two 6'x2.5' tables to four 4'x2' tables, so I've been completely reconfiguring my space. It's been fun but a little challenging.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Featured on EpiCute. The Cute Food Blog.

I've been following EpiCute. The Cute Food Blog. since I found them and posted about their adorableness back in January. One of my friends recently suggested to me that I submit some of my own photos of my treats. At first I was hesitant and I didn't think anything I've ever made/photographed was quite cute enough to be featured. But then I figured there was no harm in submitting a photo. So I did...

And today they featured my Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting! I am seriously on the verge of doing a happy dance right now! I'm so flattered. Words cannot describe how happy this made me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Breathing New Life

The past couple of days I've been working on some custom pieces for a customer using costume jewelry passed down from her mother. As Mother's Day presents to her siblings, the customer had me transform these sentimental pieces of jewelry into new, modern designs that would reflect the style of her siblings.

For this first necklace, I took a darling little stone bird bead from a pair of clip on earrings and transformed it into a playful necklace inspired by nature. The inspiration bird bead hangs above an antique brass branch from which I added a glowing citrine leaf briolette.

It's difficult to really capture the facets in the leaf-shaped citrine briolette, but it is truly stunning in person.

For this next necklace, I utilized a screw back earring with a beautiful, soft blue detail. I turned the earring into a pendant and added a bold and beautiful blue quartz briolette.

The design is simple, allowing the beautiful colors and details of the pendant to really shine. I think the color is mesmerizing.

I love breathing new life into heirloom pieces such as these. We keep and cherish the costume jewelry of our mothers and grandmothers but don't often wear it ourselves. It's nice to transform something so sentimental into something practical that we can not only cherish but really wear and enjoy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lilac Beauty

Just thought I'd pop in to share another new design for Mayfest. I've been a busy little bee in the studio these past few days and things will remain super busy until after this weekend. I probably won't be posting much this week, save for maybe a post or two to share new designs I'll have available at Mayfest.

This necklace is one-of-a-kind. I'll have a few necklaces available in a similar style, but no two will be just alike. The necklace features vintage cabochons (with a couple of new, vintage-style cabochons) linked together and finished with a simple 14K gold-filled chain, adjustable up to 19 inches. I think it would be stunning with a vintage strapless lilac dress and gold pumps for a summer wedding.
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