Search This Blog

Pages

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

BRIDAL CAPES

Since the bridal cape trend continues to be strong, I've decided to include more design options in my Etsy shop.  Different lengths, fabrications, trims....all to provide more offerings to my clients. 

This pearl encrusted tulle was super fun to work with.  I wanted to take advantage of the art deco pattern, so the hemline is unfinished and absolutely shows off the scallops in the front and the points in the back.  

Since it's a circle shape, I added some additional fullness at the center back (which is where the opening is) to show off the gorgeous drapability of this fabric.   The variance in the length from the front to the back also creates a beautiful line.   I added some beautiful embellished lace trim around the neckline for the perfect finishing touch!                                                                                    
The next design is a cathedral length with a lace yoke.  It attaches to the straps of the gown.  It would even work with a strapless gown since every commercial strapless gown I've seen includes a set of spaghetti straps.  When the bride wants to remove the cape,                                                                she would also remove the gown straps.                                                                
The third design I added to the collection this year is a mid length.                                                  It features a beautiful embroidered tulle with a gorgeous beaded neckline.   I love the creative process, and can't wait to offer even more designs!                                                     

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

PUMPKIN BREAD WITH STREUSEL TOPPING

 It's officially fall!  So that means, some pumpkin infused recipes.  I went looking for a pumpkin bread with streusel topping and landed on this winner.  So I just had to share!

This bread is super moist, loaded with pumpkin flavor and of course, who can resist a streusel topping!
The best thing is this recipe makes two loaves, so you have one for now, and you can freeze the other. 

INGREDIENTS:

Topping:
1 cup flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar (lightly packed)
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick, melted and cooled)

Bread:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
15 oz. can packed pumpkin (not pie filling)
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsps. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp,. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 cup chopped pecan (optional, but recommended)
powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Topping:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Stir in the melted butter until crumbs form.  Set aside.

Bread: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle position, butter or spray two (2) 1-1.5 lb. loaf pans.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each addition.  

Scrape the bowl and beat in the vanilla and pumpkin.  The mixture might look curdled; no worries.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the pumpkin mixture in 3 additions, mixing until just combined.  Stir in the pecans.  

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.  Top each with half of the topping, very gently pressing it into the batter.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaves comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs.

Let loaves cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.  

Notes:  There was a note on the original recipe that dark brown sugar is preferred for the flavor profile, but you can substitute light, which is what I had on hand.  

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.stripedspatula.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Cathedral Veil

 This year I introduced several new veils to my Etsy collection.  Two new cathedral designs which definitely different from one another, and added more variety for the bride-to-be to choose from!

This first one has a fun added ruffle element at the hemline.  The horsehair trim creates a beautiful wave and the lace trim accent which goes all the way around the perimeter helps to highlight that unique hemline.  In addition, I added some beautiful lace appliques around the inner edge of the hemline giving it just the right finishing touch.                                  




The second veil is a lovely cut edge cathedral veil with the most gorgeous lace appliques.  Laying out the appliques to create just the right design can take me hours with pictures in between the different layouts until I land on just the right combination.  

This lace is so delicate.  It's a light ivory color with gold threads which outline the florals and leaves.  It truly is  amazing up close.  Also, due to the colors, it really looks great with either a diamond white gown or an ivory gown, so what could be better?     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



Monday, October 5, 2020

SUNDRIED TOMATO AND SAUSAGE

There's nothing better than a recipe that is super simple and super yummy!  You can certainly pull this one together on a weeknight.  I literally put it together in about 20 minutes.  It takes about 12-15 minutes to simmer, so you can be sitting down to dinner in about 35-40 minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

13 oz. smoked sausage
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ sweet onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Just before serving

2 oz. sundried tomatoes, julienned and dry packed
8 oz. penne
2 C. low soldium chicken broth
3/4 C. half and half
½ C grated gruyere
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Slice sausage into ¼" thick rounds, then set aside.  In a deep, 12" skillet over mediuim heat, heat oil.  Add onions and sausage and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook one minute more, stirring constantly.  Add tomatoes, penne, chicken broth and half and half.  Turn heat to high.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Stir, cover, and cook, 12-15 minutes (12 minutes is al dente).  Fold in cheese and parsley and serve immediately. 

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.delish.com


Monday, September 21, 2020

PUMPKIN PECAN SPICE CAKE

For this year's Fall family get together, I kept in the spirit of fall and brought a homemade Pumpkin Pecan Spice Cake.  Since it received unanimous "lip smacking, thumbs up" reviews, I'm sharing it with you!

It starts with a box cake mix, but with there are some unique additions that elevates it well beyond its box status.  Isn't she pretty?

 This recipe takes some time, but I would say it was worth the effort.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 60 wafers)
1 cup chopped pecans (I chose to use only 1/2 cup) 
3/4 cup butter, softened

CAKE:
1 pkg. spice cake mix (regular size)
1 can (15 oz.) solid pack pumpkin
4 large eggs 
½ cup butter, softened

FROSTING:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups butter, softened
6 cups powder sugar
4 tsp. vanilla extract

TOPPING:
½ cup caramel ice cream topping


DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine the wafers, pecans and butter until crumbly.  Press into three greased and floured 9 inch round baking pans.

In another bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, eggs and butter.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Beat on high 2 minutes.  Spread over crust in each pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 24-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.  In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.

Place the layers crumb side down.  Spread the frosting between the layers and on the sides and top of the cake.  Once completely frosted, spread the caramel topping over the top allowing some to drip down the sides.  Store in the refrigerator to set the frosting.

Serve at room temperature.  

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  Taste of Home fall 2020 magazine (pumpkin cookbook)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

"HEALTHY APPLE CRISP"

I didn't title this recipe....but I tried it....and it was good!  I don't know if any dessert is truly healthy, but I think this was a good alternative to many desserts.  After all, it started with apples and had less sugar than a lot of recipes, very little butter, includes cinnamon and oats.   Heck, that's pretty good, right?!
You know what the best thing is about this recipe? You make it in the microwave!  So from start to serve it was just 20 minutes.         (Serves 4-6)

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

TOPPING:
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp cold butter


DIRECTIONS:

Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon.  Transfer to a greased (I used spray) microwave safe 9 inch deep dish pie plate.

Mix first four topping ingredients.  Cut in butter until crumbly; sprinkle over filling

Cover with waxed paper.  Microwave on high until apples are tender, 5-7 minutes.  If desired, serve with ice cream.

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www. tasteofhome.com

Monday, August 24, 2020

BLACKBERRY MUFFINS

I can't say that I've ever had a blackberry muffin before, so when I found this recipe, I thought I'd give it a go.  I enjoyed it!  The flavor was good, they're not too sweet,  but they also have a delicious streusel topping.
                                                                                        yields 10 standard or 8 large muffins

INGREDIENTS:

1½ cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1/3-1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen blackberries or fresh
(if using frozen, do not thaw)


Streusel Topping:
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour 
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a muffin tin or line with muffin liners.   Add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder to a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.

Add oil to a 1 cup measuring cup.  Add egg and enough milk to fill to 1 cup line.  Add vanilla and almond extract and whisk to combine.

Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.   Then fold in the blackberries.   

To make streusel topping, mix together all the ingredients with a fork until a coarse crumb is formed.  Sprinkle over muffins just before baking.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tester inserted into the center comes out clean.   Cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack. 

ENJOY!  

recipe c/o:  www.platingsandpairings.com

Thursday, August 6, 2020

CHARCUTERIE BOARD

This project was a labor of love for our daughter.  She loves charcuterie, so a few months prior to her birthday I came up with the idea of a homemade charcuterie board.  These are my favorite kinds of gifts, thoughtful....meaning you know the person is going to love it, and treasured....meaning because it was created by you for that person, so you know it's going to hold special meaning for them.

I shared the idea with my husband, and even though I originally planned to have him "supervise" the project, meaning he would guide me through it (I had also done a whole lot of research online), I would be the one to create it.  As it turned out, this truly was a "his, hers and ours" kind of project.  He loves woodworking, so he was all in when I told him my idea. 
We found a local lumber shop for the piece of wood.  It turned out to be about six miles from us.  We were able to wander through their huge selection of wood to pick out the exact piece we wanted.  I picked out this walnut piece.  I loved the grain variation, and knew once it was finished it was going to be even prettier than the raw piece.                                        

Many people remove the bark from a live edge piece of wood.  Personally, I love the extra character it offers, so we kept it on and did research on 1) how to ensure it wouldn't fall off and 2) special treatment/consideration for a food safe project.
With that in mind, my husband added a lacquer to just the bark edges to help secure and finish it and the wood itself was sanded and treated with about six coats of food safe treatments that also allowed the beauty of the wood to shine through.   The first several coats were mineral oil.  Followed by several coats of a Butcher Block Conditioner (made by Howard Products), which has mineral oil, beeswax and carnauba wax in it.  The food will be placed on the wood area, with the bark creating a framework for the food.    I found some little rubber bumpers online to screw to the underside which allows it to sit about 3/4" above the actual countertop or table that you'll be placing the board on for serving. 

I was originally thinking of putting handles on each side of the board making it easy to carry.  But, based upon the beauty of this wood, it felt like it needed something else.  So we opted for antlers.  My husband has many sheds, so we picked out a set that would work well and I had him stain them darker to compliment the walnut.  He then cut them and drilled into each one to allow him to screw them into place.
                                                                                          
I included several other items as part of the gift (I should have taken pictures of them).  They included a variety pack of cheese slicers, little forks/spoons, melamine salad size plates,  and a variety of little bowls.    I also made her a ripstop nylon cover with a drawstring.  She can just slide the board in when it's not in use and it will keep it dust free until she's ready to use it again.

I'm happy to report....she was absolutely thrilled with her gift.   Score one for Mom and Dad!!  I have to admit though, it does add some pressure for next year's birthday!  

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

EMBELLISHED FULL LENGTH MIRROR

I shared a similar mirror project I had created for myself at the end of last year.  I thought I'd also share this recent transformation that I did with my daughter's mirror.   This one took a few more steps along the way ....... keep reading if you'd like to hear about the journey.
A few years ago, a friend of my daughters was going to be donating this mirror ( I believe it was a family member's actually).  He mentioned it to her in case she might be interested.  Well, she jumped on the offer.  Having always wanted a large full length mirror and knowing how much these little suckers can cost, it was a great offer!

The original color was a very dark espresso, with a plain wide wooden border.  She had me paint it a rose gold color several months later.    Fast forward another year or so, and now that I've learned how to create embellishments using the air dry clay technique, she asked if I could embellish her mirror. 

Here's the early stages of the project.  You can see the basic nature of the mirror (in the picture on the right), and what I was doing as I started using the clay moulds and laying out some design ideas.   Unlike my mirror which had some wood moulding strips around the perimeter, this mirror had nothing.  So I opted to purchase another mould that allowed me to add                            faux moulding out of clay.   
Adding that third mould, gives me a really solid assortment of designs to choose from for the next project (I just know they'll be a next project).  The other thing I'm sure you noticed is the transformation in the color.  This mirror is going in her photography studio which has some gold accents, so the rose gold wasn't going to work.  She asked for more of a true gold color.  To give it more of "baroque" feel, I also added some antiquing to it by using some brown and black paints to create an aged look. 

It's a beauty for sure!  And when I think of how it started out, it really is quite the transformation!  I have to say, I'm really pleased with the final outcome.   It looks outstanding in her studio.  Not only is it a beautiful decorator statement piece, but it's completely functional and just what her clients need to give a quick look before the shutter starts clicking!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

LITTLE GIRL'S DRESS

Switching things up a bit to welcome another generation into our family.   I have a Great Niece due to arrive in early October, so I thought it only fitting that I create her first designer dress!
I have had this embroidered shantung fabric for some time now and it seemed this was the perfect opportunity to show it off!  I ordered the venice lace collar online and love how it accented the neckline just as I had visualized it would.

I think the florals and leaves on the collar compliment the florals and leaves on the skirt so perfectly!

In case you're wondering....I did fully line the dress to finish it off with a custom touch.

I chose a simple commercial pattern, which tend to run a bit big.  I'm thinking maybe by the time she's about 9-12 months old she'll be able to wear this.  I always like to gift clothes that the parents can look forward to as the baby starts growing.

All this dress needs, is some lace ankle socks and maybe a cute pair of shoes and she's going to look like a little doll!  Can't wait to see it on her.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

CUSTOM WEDDING GOWN

I've been so excited to share this gown.  My first meeting with Kristen happened in early February.  When she and her Mom met with me, Kristen had tried on a few gowns but really hadn't landed on exactly what she was looking for in a style.   She fell for a certain geometric lace pattern which is becoming more popular, but other than that, she was open to design ideas. 
This is just the kind of wedding gown project I love.....give me some ideas, maybe a few elements that you like and let me take your vision and create it into your one-of-a-kind dream gown!! At our second meeting, which was when I was taking her measurements, her Mom had shared a picture of Kristen in a bridesmaid dress which was very flattering on her figure type; we all three agreed that would be a good starting point.   So, I was off to the races with a basic idea of a "v" neck in the front and a gathered waistline.  We also chatted about the geometric laces that I had found online and she chose the one that she really liked.  As I was working on the pattern, I sent some ideas to Kristen regarding some design modifications that I felt would be flattering on her.  That included a "v" shaped back (versus the horizontal line from the original dress) and a "cumberbund" type of waistline to highlight her waistline.  She loved both ideas, so I continued on with the pattern and the muslin sample.                                                                       
Now, you realize in the midst of this we have a pandemic that has taken hold in Asia.  You guessed it!  The lace is from a shop in China.  Long story short....this lace is not going to get here in time for this June 5th, 2020 wedding.    And if you're wondering, yes this is a bit of a tighter schedule than I usually work with, but I was only working on one other gown and I knew I could pull this off in time.                                                     
When I started becoming concerned about the lace, I took a field trip to my local JoAnn store.  I was hopeful that I could find an alternative that would be just as pretty and wanted to  provide Kristen a "good news/bad news" message.   In other words, the bottom line was Kristen was going to have to be okay with something other than the geometric pattern since they all come out of Asia.  Rather than a message that said "we can't get the geometric lace", it was "we can't get the geometric lace, but I've found some other options that you might like".  I was so pleasantly surprised to have found four different fabric options that I thought would be ideal for her gown.   I sent her the pictures I took at the store, and Kristen was able to go into the store to see and touch the fabrics in person.   The upper left photo is the fabric draped on my dress form and you can see the pattern.  It starts with long embroidered lines with clear sequins at one selvage and develops into this beautiful embroidered motif all the way to the other selvage.  It is absolutely stunning and shimmers like crazy with those sequins scattered all over the entire fabric. 

This is another favorite creative challenge I love....working with a fabric's motif within the gown to fully utilize all aspects of the fabric within the design of the gown.  You'll notice I chose to use the very basic element of the fabric for the bodice and cumberbund.  I further embellished the cumberbund with lace appliques to match the fabric and then used 3D florals for that extra pop!  
I should mention, at the time of the sample fitting, I had shared my final modification to Kristen to change up gathers at the waistline to tucks, including an inverted center front tuck.  I find tucks so much more flattering than gathers, which can create added bulk at the waistline, which no woman likes!

In order to continue our progress with fittings, you've probably already guessed that we both wore face masks after the "stay at home order" was being relaxed.  It added an interesting element to say the least!  Another curve Kristen was thrown along the way was the need to postpone the wedding (since the venue wasn't able to host the event with the pandemic regulations regarding gatherings still in place in June).     They postponed the event until today, and had to whittle down the guest list considerably.    Kristen was a trooper through it all and an absolute peach to work with!  What stories she'll have to share with her children someday!     Best wishes Kristen to you and your groom.  I hope your big day is filled with sunshine, happiness and lots of love from those guests who mean the most to the two of you! 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

FOAM FLOWER WEDDING SASH

In a previous post I shared how much I enjoyed learning how to make foam flowers!  I've made many hairpiece/haircombs for my Etsy shop.  This time I decided to apply that knowledge to a wedding sash. 

I began with a two inch double faced satin (champagne colored) ribbon.  I then added a really unique lace applique that had both champagne and off white threads; cutting and placing it onto the sash. 

To make the flowers, I start with just plain white foam.  While it does come in a variety of colors, they're extremely vibrant, and I like more subtle colors for many of my wedding projects.  In this case I wanted a blush color.

You can use pastels, stamp ink or in this case, I actually chose to use craft paint and a small brush.  I did that after I cut out the flowers, but before I began the process of actually shaping the foam.  
For additional embellishments, I hand sewed on pearls, crystals, and gold beads.  For some sparkle I added clear sequins as well.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  All my ribbon sashes are about 3 yards long, which makes for a beautiful bow with extra long tails to drape down the back of the gown. 

A sash is a great way for the bride to add a touch of the wedding color palette, while also adding a lovely accent to her gown.  Not to mention, it really shows off that waistline quite nicely!