Five Things

  {Cherry Blossoms}
I have only been in Washington, DC for 24 hours, but I am enjoying everything the city has to offer. From the national monuments, shopping (most notably at Paper Source, Vineyard Vines and Zara), to the national zoo and the handful of cherry blossom trees still in bloom. Here is a glimpse of what I am seen thus far.
 {Giant Panda Bear at The National Zoo}
 {even the Ronald Reagan Building is participating in the Cherry Blossom Festival}
 {The Washington Monument}
{amazing toasted marshmallow shake at Good Stuff Eatery}

Peanut Butter Cookies

Classic peanut butter cookies are my favorite. I have tried different recipes, but always go back to the one I found in my great grandma's recipe box. With temperatures dramatically dropping this week I knew these cookies would be ideal to counter the chilly weather.

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/4 cups All-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Salted butter; softened
1/4 cup Shortening
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons Jif creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Light brown sugar;packed
1/2 cup sugar + more for sprinkling on the cookies
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Form into 1" balls press with a fork to create a checkered pattern and sprinkle on sugar.  Bake at 325 degrees for 6-8 minutes, or until edges are golden.

How to: Make Fresh Flowers Last

As you may know fresh flowers are a necessity in my house. Years ago my mum came up with a brilliant way of prolonging the life of fresh flowers; not only is it affordable, but simple. The secret: add equal parts of water and 7UP into your vase... that's it!  I have had roses last beyond two weeks, tulips never fall over and last longer than normal.
{use equal parts water and 7UP for long fasting flowers}
• Update: It has to be regular 7UP NOT diet - the flowers like the sugar

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

My mum was always the parent to bring the cutest cupcakes to my elementary school parties. Unfortunately she does not have pictures of most things she made for me. From time to time she does remember some of those nostalgic confections she came up with; such as these Easter bunny cupcakes.  They are beyond adorable and simple to make with basic piping knowledge.
 1. Bake and frost your cupcakes with your favorite buttercream.
 2. Pipe on two circles in the middle of the cupcake with a #10 tip.
 3. Also uing a #10 tip pipe on two long curved bunny ears.
 4. Pipe on an upside down pink triangle for the nose with a #5 tip.
 5. Give your bunny some pink in it's ear using the #5 tip.
6. Lastly with a #2 tip and black frosting give your bunny a cute face.

Five Things

{Ranunculus that brought the sunshine in this week}
The weekend is suppose to be filled with thundershowers so I will be spending my time inside working on some projects that I need to accomplish before my trip next week. Any suggestions for must see items, shopping and/or dining in Washington, DC? Here are five things that kept me inspired this week, what kept you inspired?
{current nail polish: Intrigue by Jessica Cosmetics}
 {a basket from my Mum to welcome spring}
 {chocolate for Easter confections}
{freshly squeezed lemonade with sprigs of mint}

DIY Floral Cake

Here’s a cake with zero guilt. The floral cake is a must have at my parties, and it’s also the perfect gift for the person who has everything.  Displayed on a cake pedestal it can make a gorgeous centerpiece. I love to bring this floral cake as a gift when I go to someone’s home, by placing it in a pastry box, you are sure to bring a smile to the recipients face.
What you’ll need
• 50 mums(approximately)
• 60 spray roses (approximately)
• Brick of wet floral foam
• Candle(s)
• Cake pedestal 
1. Cut the brick of floral foam in half. Using a steak knife cut the foam into a cylinder. I cut off all four corners first and then shaved off the “pyramid” shaped edges to create a cylinder. You can also use a lid that is as wide as the floral foam, as a guide for cutting.  Helpful Tip: This might look small, but after adding flowers you will have a 9 inch cake
2. Soak the foam in water and place it on a cake pedestal   Helpful Hint: when soaking floral foam, place it in a sink full of water and let it absorb the water naturally. Do not force the foam under the water, you will create air pockets, and reduce the amount of water the foam will hold. 
3. Real cakes have a piped on boarder on the top and bottom. To create this look cut the spray roses, leaving about an inch of the steam, and insert the stem into the foam, pushing the flower until it can’t go any further.  Repeat around the entire bottom of the cake. Helpful Hint: Be sure that you are placing the flowers in straight.
4. After completing the bottom row, you will now be using the mums; cut them the same way you did the spray roses.  Place the mums on top of the first layer, repeat around the cake and then repeat for a second row of mums.  Helpful Hint: Be sure to keep your flowers close to give it a fluffy frosting feel
5. When the third layer of flowers is in place, insert a fourth row, that will be the spray roses (piping) at the top of the cake. This completes the sides. 
6. Now let’s decorate the top. Start by inserting flowers at the outer circumference and work inward. Continue to add flowers until you have filled the empty space. Here is your opportunity to add a candle(s) to the center, and you are done....piece of cake. 

Hummingbird Celebration Cake

Since yesterday was the first day of spring, I felt it was a perfect time to bake up a celebration cake.  Instead of my go-to yellow or lemon cake I decided on a springtime favorite: hummingbird, the perfect combination of pecans, pineapple and bananas.  Really is there any better way to welcome spring than with a cake adorned in brightly colored confetti sprinkles?

Hummingbird Celebration Cake
1 1/2 (3 sticks) cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups over ripe mashed bananas
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 or 2 (8-ounce) cans crushed pineapple, drained well
Confetti Sprinkles
One recipe Pecan Spice Cream Cheese Frosting (below)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (9 inch) cake pans. * I used two nine inch cake pans and made cupcakes with the remaining batter.
2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar and vanilla beating at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add this mixture to your butter mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Be sure to begin and end with the flour mixture. Gently stir in the banana, pineapple and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans for 11 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Once cooled spread the Pecan Spice Cream Cheese Frosting between layers, top and sides of the cake.
6. Add confetti sprinkles to the boarder of your cake to give it a pop of color for spring. 

Pecan Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
about 5 1/2 cups
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 - 1 cup finely chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 cups powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter,  pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.

Signs of Spring

{brightly budded trees}
Being from a cold climate, I always look forward to the arrival of spring. This year it arrived a bit differently. I woke up to green plush grass as a substitute to a snow-covered ground. The sound of birds chirping, and building their nest instead of hiding to keep warm.  This is an unusual sight for Michigan on the first day of spring, but I am savoring every bit of it. What is the weather like where you are at?
 {the first bird nest casualty of spring}
{beautiful buds in bloom}

Sweet Celebrations

 {lemon birthday cake with meringue buttercream frosting}
When it comes to birthday’s I like to keep things simple. I usually have an intimate brunch that includes a cake made by my mum, plenty of fresh flowers and of course delicious desserts.  Here is a glimpse at a few highlights from my 26th birthday.

 {SINFULCOLORS Easy Going; pale pink and peach milky manicure}
 {peach mango mimosa's with colorful shoes to distinguish people's glasses}
 {floral birthday cake to make the perfect wish}
{perfectly packaged presents}

Five Things

 {new way I am wearing my ponytail}
After a very trying week I am  thrilled that the weekend has arrived. Since Sunday is my birthday my weekend will be filled with plenty of indulgences a beautiful birthday brunch and plenty of time on the balcony enjoying the 70 degree winter weather. 
 {broken sidewalk on a historic road}
{a little baking love}
 {a double rainbow in the dark sky}
{movie night snack}