The Art of Cake Decorating

Chocolate Cream Cake

White icing, piped details topped with maraschino cherries and chocolate shavings make this Black Forest cake outstanding, but the real showstopper is the chocolate latticework wrapped around the sides. 

I have a confession to make – researching and writing this post made me hungry for dessert. Before you continue reading, I suggest having a treat ready to eat, or grab the car keys and run to the bakery. Okay, now let us explore cake decorating.

Icing Piping Bags

Icing Decorating Bags

Cake decorating bags can be filled with a variety of icings and each metal tip creates different designs, from flowers, to ribbons, stars and many more.  Piping bags can also be used for fillings in pastries and donuts. 

Piped Flowers

Floral Cupcakes

The piping bags shown in the previous photo produced these unique floral motifs. 

Buttercream Roses

Buttercream Roses

Piped buttercream frosting is a colorful and flavorful choice for cake decorating. 

Owl Fondant Cake

This adorable owl cake is decorated with fondant, which is made from sugar paste, rolled out into sheets, and then cut into any desired shapes.

Glazed Icing

Confectioner’s Sugar drizzled over this cake is quick and easy.  The clustered cherries hint at the fruit filling hidden with this single layer cake. 

Marzipan

Marzipan is made from almond paste and is a favorite candy treat, which adds a bit of whimsy to cakes as well as cupcakes. 

Modeling Chocolate

If you always wanted to try sculpture, here is your chance to create a beautiful art piece and it’s edible too!  While smaller decorations can be made with fondant or gum paste, modeling chocolate is much stronger, enabling the creation of larger figures, such as the Disney characters shown above. 

Rainbow Layer Cake

An easy way to add color to any cake is by using rainbow colored layers.

Orange Cheesecake

This cheesecake has a translucent topping and center filling made from orange juice concentrate and sugar.  An unexpected block pattern is only revealed when sliced. 

Red Velvet Cake

Rich red crumbles hint at the alternating layers of moist chocolate cake and cream cheese icing hidden within this decadent dessert. 

Strawberry Shortcake

Fresh fruit garnishes and a little powdered sugar are all you need to top off this summertime favorite. 

Chocolate Tarts

Most people love chocolate and this dessert does not disappoint.  Chocolate whipped cream is sandwiched between the layers of cake and is also piped on top, garnished with chocolate shavings and raspberries. 

Marbleized Cake

A marbleized effect is achieved by piping chocolate frosting over vanilla and then running a knife or spatula through it. 

Fondant with Piping & Roses

This lovely wedding cake has pink and white fondant, with piped icing details and fresh-cut flowers.

Star Wars Theme Cake – (Fondant & Modeling Chocolate)

Special occasions present perfect opportunities for themed cakes.  Any child would be thrilled to have Yoda at his or her birthday party.  A few “big” kids would love it too! 

Mosaic Fondant Cake

This cake and display tray have been covered with chocolate fondant for a seamless look.  Multi-color fondant sheets are cut into circles of various sizes and individually placed in an intricate mosaic pattern. 

Modeling Chocolate Lego Cake

The figures and Legos are modeling chocolate, while the white icing is fondant.  Isn’t it amazing how realistic the Lego blocks look? 

Designer Cakes

These wintry snowmen are decorated with modeling chocolate, piping, and macaroons.  Sprinkled granulated sugar resembles the snow and ice. 

Designer Cakes

Want to know the secret to making large decorations like the giraffe, the zebra and the turtle’s head and legs?  Rice cereal treats are covered with fondant to seamlessly blend with the cake. 

Designer Textured Cakes

Both of these cakes offer incredible color and texture.  On the left, the ombré effect of the piped roses leads the eye toward the sparkling glass bride and groom topper.  Piping, stamping, gum paste, and candy making techniques have been beautifully combined in this unique garden gazebo.  

Designer Bold Colorful Cakes

Bold colors are certainly eye-catching.  The first, known as a topsy-turvy cake, is wrapped in fondant and decorated with geometric and floral cut fondant.  The floral cake has been hand-painted with edible inks, creating the look of stained glass. 

Designer Pastel Floral Cake

This floral cake is a real labor of love.  Each gum paste flower, leaf and butterfly is made by hand and set in place to create the cascading garden.  As the design nears completion, iridescent edible inks are brushed on to provide depth and realistic details in this incredible wedding cake. 

I hope you are inspired to give cake decorating a try.  A visit to your local craft store will give you additional ideas, and you will see an amazing selection of the candies, pre-mixed fondants, and gel icings, as well as tools of the trade and specialty pans to make your next dessert a masterpiece.  

Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!

Gifts from the Heart

Frog with Heart
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s a nice reminder to show appreciation for those who share our lives, including family, friends, and yes even our pets.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot.  In fact, you may already have what you need for the perfect gift.   Here are a few creative ideas to get you started:

Sweets for the Sweet
Homemade Candy & Cookies
Homemade cookies and candy will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Nature Lover
Fruit Hearts
This edible art is delicious & nutritious.

Heart of the Vineyard
Wine Corks Heart
Connoisseurs will appreciate shared memories celebrated with a nice glass of wine.

The Personal Touch
Clay Heart Vase
Gifts made by hand are always the best way to show your love.

Two Hearts Beat as One
Metal & Wood Hearts
Whether you prefer working with wood or metal, this universal symbol of love says it all.

Love is in the Details
Mosaic Heart
Glass, tile, and stones can be used to create mosaic jewelry, tabletops, wall art, etc.

A Rose by Any Other Name
Paper Roses
As timeless symbols of love, these paper roses will forever be in bloom.

Big Bear Hugs
Teddy Bear & Flowers
Everyone could use a hug.  Teddy bears can be sewn, crocheted, or knitted.  If you don’t have those skills, buy one and add a personal touch, such as a bunch of silk flowers or homemade chocolates.

Soft & Dreamy
Watercolor Painting
Watercolor, acrylic or oil paints are the perfect choice for creating beautiful artwork to be treasured for years to come.

Heartfelt Adventure
Pink Stone Heart
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy taking a romantic walk along a beach or trail on a “treasure” hunt, consisting of well-placed hearts made from stones, shells, or flowers.

Presentation is Everything
Heart Earrings
At the end of the treasure hunt mentioned above, surprise your companion with a little gift, such as a bouquet of wildflowers or handmade jewelry.

Reflective Photography
Black Swan
At first glance, you might only notice the beauty of this black swan but look closer and you will see the perfect heart shape created by his reflection.

Just the Two of Us
Romantic Silhouettes
A sunset photo of a couple is a nice keepsake and posing just right forms a heart.

Your BFF
Dog Wearing Scarf
Our best friends are always looking for affection.  A new scarf or a heart charm for the collar are nice options, but the best way to show your love is by giving them your time and attention.  Works for people too!

Thanks for reading.

Happy Valentine’s Day & Happy Crafting!

Gingerbread Dreams

Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread cookies are a favorite treat any time of year. Decorating gingerbread is a great activity for the whole family. For a real challenge, why not try designing, building and decorating a gingerbread house? Before we look at some finished houses, let’s take a closer look at a few of the important details.

Decorating Gingerbread
Piping Icing
Whether decorating cookies or building a gingerbread house, the first skill you will need is piping icing.

Piping is the Key
Candy CloseUp
From the smallest detail to the walls and roof, royal icing is the edible glue that holds everything together.

Candy Decor
Gingerbread Roof Close Up
Any type of candy will do. If you tend to nibble while you work, you might want to have extra candy on hand so that you don’t run out before the project is finished. (lol)

Architectural Details
Architecture Details
This budding architect has carefully defined the details: candy cane columns; stamped brick wall pattern; piped & candied landscaping, door and window trim; M &M roofing; and candy accents.

Festive Elf
Festive Elf
Don’t forget to have fun with your creation.

Be Adventurous
Adorable Snowman
Let your imagination run wild. Come up with interesting details. This artist darkened the windows to add depth and carved wood grain into the door. Make your project as unique as you are.

Humorous Little Details
Rooftop Cat
Be sure to include the unexpected, such as this fondant cat on a snow-covered roof.

Miniature Gingerbread Houses
Cookie House
There’s nothing wrong with starting small. This house was made entirely from gingerbread cookies. It’s quick and easy to put together and can be used as ornaments, or as gifts for visitors. You could even pipe names on each one as edible “place cards” at the table.

Chalet
Gingerbread Chalet
Instead of candy, decorated gingerbread cookies adorn this simple A-frame house.

In the Doghouse
Gingerbread Doghouse
Icing is the main decoration on this adorable doghouse, with only a few candy accents.

A Bright Idea
Lighted Cottage
This cottage may be small, but it has two interesting qualities that make it really stand out: 1) LEDs provide a soft glowing interior. 2) The reflective high gloss tray resembles ice or water. As an alternative to lights, you could place sheets of fruit roll ups over the inside of the windows and doors to create a cozy glow.

Accessible Design
Decorating for Everyone
Holding a piping bag and defining tiny details can be difficult, if not impossible, for those with limited mobility. Decorating can be made easy by simply spread icing with a spatula over all the walls and roof. Place decorations wherever desired, and the icing will hold them in place.

Log Cabin Village
Log Cabins
These gingerbread houses remind me of the colonial log cabins in Valley Forge National Park. Instead of candy, piped icing was used throughout the design, with a sprinkling of sugar snow.

The North Pole
North Pole Village
Leave it to Santa to create a quaint village, where even the North Pole is edible!

Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods
Like something from a fairy tale, this cute little snow-scene has a soft pink and blue color scheme complemented by a welcoming fire glow from inside.

Cozy Chalet
Cozy Chalet
Almond cookies adorning the roof and chocolate door & chimney set this chalet apart.

Midnight Cabin
Midnight Cabin
The contrasts between light and dark give this gingerbread house a spooky feel like something you might see in a dark lonely forest. The gumdrop posts appear to be glowing, while the almost obscured windows make you wonder what might lurk inside.

Gingerbread House Kits
Gingerbread House Kits
You could make gingerbread houses from scratch, but kits, which include all the candy, walls, roof, and icing, are a great place to start for beginners.

A Grinchy Christmas
Grinchy Home
The Grinch gets an upgrade from his old cave home to this perfect gingerbread tribute to Dr. Seuss. From the whimsical tree to the asymmetrical door, the spirit of the story comes to life before our eyes.

Angelic Lace
Angelic Lace Cottage
Delicate lace-like patterns harmonize with tiny gold dragées, while mini string lights illuminate the tree as well as the interior. A very steady hand is required to keep the lines soft and fluid.

Guiding Light
Lighted Church
Gingerbread can be made into any type of building including castles, churches, and lighthouses. If you can imagine it, anything is possible.

Chocolate & Gingerbread Cottage
Chocolate Fairy Tale Cottage
You seldom see chocolate decorations on gingerbread, but this artist has done a wonderful job combining the two into an exquisitely detailed showstopper.

Feast for the Eyes
Wintry Dream
There’s a lot going on here, but it’s beautifully balanced. The snow drips from the roof and the evergreen tree is decorated with colorful balls and a star on top. The upright pinwheel candies make a lovely border, while the cheerful gingerbread man and his snowy friend are sure to please. Every detail in this sentimental gingerbread home was made with love to warm the heart.

Your Reward
Eating Gingerbread
What is the best part about decorating gingerbread? Eating it! After all that hard work, you deserve a tasty treat. If you don’t have the heart to munch on your creation, have a few decorated cookies on the side as a reward for a job well done. I hope you are inspired to give gingerbread building a try. Good luck and remember you can always eat your mistakes. (lol)

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Celebrating 100th Post

100th Post
Today marks a very important milestone – my 100th post! It has been a wonderful experience, and I thank all my readers and followers for taking this journey with me. Below are photos and links to each category of arts and crafts covered to date. Please take a few minutes to peruse your favorites.

Baking & Candy Making
Baking & Candy Making

Beaded Jewelry & Gemstones
Beaded Jewelry & Gemstones

Color Theory
Color Theory

Floral & Home Decor
Floral & Home Decor

“How To” Projects
How-to Projects

Inspiration
Inspiration

Miscellaneous Crafts
Miscellaneous Crafts

Painting – Decorative Techniques
Decorative Painting

Seasons & Holidays
Seasons & Holidays

Wood Crafts
Wood Crafts

Please let me know, in the comments section, if you have any suggestions for future arts and crafts topics. I am looking forward to the next 100 posts. This achievement would not be possible without all of you! Thank you!!

Thanks for reading & Happy Crafting!

Luck of the Irish

St Patrick's Day BannerLeprechauns and a pot of gold are certainly hallmarks of St. Patrick’s Day. Below are a few crafting ideas to help you get ready for this upcoming celebration of all things Irish.

Shamrocks
Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle, is famous for its shamrocks. If you are lucky enough, you may even find a four-leaf clover. Notice the almost woven effect created by the natural layering of these leaves. Irish knot work patterns, such as the one illustrated below, are inspired by the natural world.

Carved Marble Knots
Eternity knots can be found on everything in Ireland. The pattern shown here has been carved into marble. It could also be carved or burnt into wood, stenciled onto a wall, or drawn and/or painted onto t-shirts, handbags, or even a comforter. Jewelry makers include knot designs for their beauty as well as the symbolism of eternal love.

Cookies & Irish Coffee
A great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is with a few shamrock cookies and a creamy mug of Irish coffee. In case you didn’t know, this coffee gets its high-octane kick from a shot of Irish whiskey.

Irish Soda Bread
Store bought Irish soda bread is usually made ahead of time and may be too dry. It’s best enjoyed straight out of the oven.

Jewelry Charms
The four-leaf clover is a very popular good luck talisman. A leather cord is a very inexpensive way to make a necklace. The cord can be cut to the desired length, and special cord tips are attached to the ends along with a spring ring or lobster claw clasp. Any charms with a large enough bail can be slid onto the cord and easily changed for a new look. Prefer ready-made jewelry? Ready to wear cords can be purchased with the charms of your choice.

St. Paddy's Day Parade
Of course you’ll need to wear something green to really get into the spirit of the holiday. A little green fabric is all you need – a hat, scarf, socks – anything will do.

Irish Icons
These icons are often found on everything from mugs and T-shirts to bumper stickers. Iron-ons are inexpensive and easy to apply. Craft stores also have stickers, as well as temporary tattoos, which have all the cool designs without any of the commitment.

Irish Embroidery
Embroidery is a great way to dress up any garment with lively, eye-catching graphics and funny sayings.

Shamrocks Crochet
If crocheting were your specialty, these three leaf clovers would make a very unique scarf or hat. They could also be used as decorative accents on a pillow or afghan.

Beer & Shamrocks
There are plenty of colorful holiday-themed sheets in the papercrafting aisle, or you might want to design your own. If there’s a subliminal message in this design, I suppose it would be: “I love shamrocks and beer!” Who doesn’t? (lol)

Art Clay
Working with art clay can be a fun activity for the whole family. Figures like these pictured above could be used as jewelry pendants, or attached to hair accessories or refrigerator magnets, just to name a few.

Irish Angel Stained Glass
Stained glass is a beautiful way to incorporate holiday themes and of course the color green and requisite shamrock for luck.

Ceramic Irish Bear
Belleek, is a well-known brand of Irish pottery, recognized by its neutral cream color, which often includes hand painted shamrocks. You can achieve the same look, at a fraction of the price, by visiting a ceramics studio to paint your own using a similar color scheme.

Lucky Horseshoe
An up-turned horseshoe has always been considered good luck. The addition of a four-leaf clover may be all that’s needed to amplify good fortune to the next level. well, it’s certainly worth a try.

On St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish! So wear something green, enjoy a pint, and keep an eye out for a rainbow – there might just be a pot of gold under it waiting to be discovered!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Crafting!

Countdown – Top Six Posts of 2019

Clock
Where does the time go? There’s always another post to be written, another project to develop, and another inspiration to explore. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the 2019 Top Six posts, in ascending order, based upon Likes. Without further ado, here are your favorites:

Number 6: Daily Dose of Color
Beautiful Sunset
Color plays an integral role in our daily lives. It affects our moods, decisions and actions. Let’s take a look at our activities on a typical day to observe how influential color can be. To read more, please click here.

Number 5: Walk on the Wild Side
Stegosaurus
We love dinosaurs. Want proof? Look at all the books, movies, television shows, and merchandise. At some point, every kid draws and colors his or her favorite dinosaur. Here’s your chance to feel like a kid again. Grab some paints and brushes and let’s go! To read more, please click here.

Number 4: The Beauty of Yarn Crafts
Yarn Crafts
Yarn has come a long way over the years, from single color wool skeins to multicolored, textured fibers, made from manmade and natural sources, suitable for clothing, home décor and accessories. Let’s look at a few of the types of crafts made with yarn. To read more, please click here.

Number 3: Baking for the Holidays
Holiday Baking
Santa Claus isn’t the only one hoping for some holiday goodies. We all love dessert. If you get a head start on your baking, you’ll have plenty to share with your family and friends throughout the long holiday season. Baked goods make great gifts too. To read more, please click here.

Number 2: Birds of a Feather
Flamingo
For some reason, I often find myself drawn to the wood crafts aisle at my local hobby store. Maybe it’s the quick reward for very little effort at an inexpensive cost. Who doesn’t enjoy a little instant gratification? There’s always something new to discover. Learn how to make this adorable flamingo. He may not take flight, but the bright colors and cheerful expression are sure to make you smile. To read more, please click here.

Number 1: Creative Stress Relief
Computer Stress
With such fast-paced lives, we all need a break from our daily stresses. These demands have physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects. The best solution is a vacation, but that may not be possible. Instead, indulge in a hobby or two to take your mind and body to a happy place. Every day you do things for everyone else. It’s time to put yourself first! You’ll be so glad you did, and you’ll have a lot of fun while doing it. To read more, please click here.

Word Press Blogging
Upcoming posts will include new projects and crafting inspirations. I’ll be sure to include additional articles based upon the above interests, as voted by you, the readers. Your opinions are greatly appreciated, and I look forward to so much more this year. If you have any suggestions for future posts, please let me know? Thanks for reading!

All the best in 2020 and Happy Crafting!

Crafts of Love – Valentine’s Day Gifts

Frogs in Love
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show your appreciation for the people you love.

Valentine's Cake
Celebrate with a Lady Finger Torte, Layer Cake, Cherry Cheesecake, Cupcakes, or Cake pops. Anything homemade is always appreciated. And if baking is not your specialty, buy one at the bakery, put it on your own serving dish and it will be our little secret! (lol)

Homemade Candy
Candy making is an easy process for everyone, even beginners. Start by melting chocolate wafers, called candy melts, which come in a variety of colors and flavors. Pour the chocolate into molds and refrigerate according to directions. You might also consider chocolate covering strawberries, nuts, graham crackers, or marshmallows. Present the finished pieces in a heart-shaped box or container.

Decorated Valentine's Cookies
Decorated cookies are eye-catching as well as delicious. Whether you choose homemade cookies or plain store-bought, add icing details, candy, or sprinkles to complete your festive designs.

Roses
Fresh-cut or silk flowers can be arranged in a bouquet, vase, or heart-shaped wreath. You don’t have to go to the expense of buying roses because any type of flowers will be appreciated.

Bleeding Hearts Flowers
Live flowers in a hanging basket or pot are not only beautiful, but long lasting as well. The flowers shown have not been photo shopped. They really are heart shaped, hence the name “bleeding hearts.”

Glass Heart
A glass paperweight, suncatcher, or pendant is a beautiful option.

Heart Charm
You could also paint a wooden heart to be hung on a wall, included on a wreath, or as a charm on a gift package or handbag.

Jewelry
Beaded jewelry is easy to create. If you don’t have those skills, you can buy a readymade chain or cord and string over-size beads without the need for any tools.

Winged Heart
You could also buy a heart-shaped pendant and add it to an existing chain or choose a new one.

Love Song or Poem
If you have a gift with words, write a song or poem on specialty paper to suit the occasion.

Painting
Artwork, such as painting, drawing, and photography, is a personal way to share your talent and show your affection at the same time.

Photo Album
A scrapbook is a thoughtful way to commemorate family memories and special events.

Vision Board
Create a vision board or photo album with inspirational travel brochures, activities and scenic pictures to build excitement for an upcoming vacation.

Candle Making
Candle making is simplified using a kit. There are multiple options including colors, shapes, sizes, and essential oils scents.

Romantic Dinner
You can’t go wrong with dinner for two. This is the perfect venue for candles, printed napkins on a pink or red tablecloth, and creative place settings to set the mood for a romantic evening.

Heart Pillow
Sewing a pillow is a quick colorful project to coordinate with any décor.

Knitting
A knitted scarf, hat, gloves, or sweater will keep that special someone warm and cozy on a cold winter day, and it will be enjoyed for years to come.

Stuffed Animals
Who doesn’t love cuddly stuffed animals, especially teddy bears? If you are skilled with a needle and thread, you could make a bear with faux fur or buy one. There’s nothing like a big bear hug to brighten your day and chase away the blues.

Sunset at the Beach
It is said, “The best things in life are free.” Go to the beach, the mountains, a nearby park, or your own backyard. Any place will do to spend time together watching the sunset, enjoying a picnic or barbecue, or simply going for a walk hand in hand. Expressions of love don’t need to cost a lot, just a little creativity and a heartfelt message.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Crafting!

Baking with Love for the Holidays

Hot Chocolate & Cookies for Santa
Santa Claus isn’t the only one hoping for some holiday goodies. We all love dessert. If you get a head start on your baking, you’ll have plenty to share with your family and friends throughout the long holiday season. Baked goods make great gifts too.

Assorted Butter Cookies
Butter Cookies
Butter cookies are finger licking good. For variety, dip some in chocolate, fill with fruit, or place a colorful layer of fondant on top and pipe on a few decorative flourishes. If you are pressed for time, many bakeries offer ready-made cookie platters.

Fruit Filled Cookies
Fruit Filled Cookies
All you need to make these festive red and white cookies is two round cookie cutters – one small and one large. Layer two cookies on top of each other, with strawberry, cherry or raspberry filling, to make this sandwich cookie. The bottom cookie is solid, while the top cookie has a small cut out in the center. Shake powdered sugar on top for a beautiful bakery finish.

Fudge Brownies & Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Brownies & Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Brownies are a favorite any time of year, and instead making chocolate chip cookies, try using cinnamon chips and cut the cookies into heart shapes.

Almond Crescent Cookies
Almond Crescent Cookies
This classic butter cookie will surprise you with its unexpected almond flavor and they’re great for dipping in your coffee or tea.

Vanilla Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing
Christmas Cupcake
The simplicity of a vanilla cupcake contrasts nicely with the rich, sweet taste of cream cheese icing. Safety Tip: Holly and its berries are poisonous. Use an artificial holly garnish.

Coconut Rum Balls
Coconut Rum Balls
These sweet, crunchy delights should be refrigerated overnight for maximum flavor.

Petits Fours & Eggnog
Eggnog & Petits Fours
Petits Fours are the perfect marriage of cake and candy. Fondant icing is actually candy used to cover bite size cubes of yellow, sponge or pound cake. While the fondant is still wet, decorations can be applied using piped icing, or a sprinkling of either candy or nuts. As an added burst of flavor, jelly or butter cream can be spread over the cake prior to applying the fondant.

Gingerbread Stars & Hearts Cookies
Frosted Gingerbread Cookies
These gingerbread cookies are decorated with a thin coat of light green frosting, patterned with white icing and sprinkled with sugar for a frosty appeal.

Traditional Gingerbread Cookies
Traditional Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbread cookies are very popular treats this time of year. Decorating is easy with the icing tubes, sprinkles and candy pieces available at most grocery store.

Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House
For a more challenging project, gingerbread kits come in a number of varieties, such as cookies, houses, and villages, and include all the necessary candies, icing, and yes the baked gingerbread too. The whole family will enjoy building and eating their creations.

Hanukkah Donuts
Jelly Donuts
Deep-fried jelly donuts sprinkled with granulated sugar are a delicious part of every Hanukkah celebration.

Cherry Cheese Tarts
Cherry Cheese Tarts
Most people love cheesecake. These tarts have the delicious flavor and they’re finger foods as well. You could purchase ready-made mini piecrusts and make your own filling. They can also be made in a cupcake pan. Line the pan with paper cupcake wrappers. Drop a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cupcake. Pour in your filling and bake. After they cool, top with cherries or strawberries and enjoy!

Christmas Pudding
Christmas Pudding
Also known as Plum Pudding, this traditional Christmas dessert takes 5 to 10 hours to steam. The aromas of the fruits and spices wafts through your home while it cooks.

Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie
With a filling made from eggs, butter and brown sugar, pecan pie is an addictively sweet dessert, which will leave you begging for more. For a rich caramel flavor, use dark brown sugar.

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake
In case you didn’t know, red velvet cake is actually a moist rich chocolate cake with lots of food coloring to create that ultra rich shade of red. For those of you who avoid artificial coloring, there is a cocoa available with a natural reddish brown color. The icing and filling is cream cheese.

Yule Log
Yule Log
A spiral design is the hallmark of this impressive dessert, but it’s easy to make, and will melt in your mouth. Bake the cake in a jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper. After baking, lay the cake face down on a towel. If necessary, trim any ragged edges. Starting with a long side, roll the cake in the towel and cool completely on a wire rack. Unroll and remove the towel, and lay cake flat. Spread the filling over the top within 1/2” of the edges. Suggested fillings include whipped cream, pie filling, and pudding. Carefully roll the cake and place it with the seam side down on a platter. Coat the exterior with chocolate frosting and use a fork to create the bark patterns along the length of the log.

There are so many recipes to sample. Don’t worry about gaining that holiday five pounds. There will be plenty of time to work that off shivering and shoveling snow during the cold winter months to come.

Happy Holidays & Happy Crafting!

A Tale of Two Thanksgivings

Thankgiving
Everyone across the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, however this holiday experience varies depending upon geographic location, climate, local customs, and food specialties.

Hawaii & New England
Sometimes it’s nice to see how other people celebrate. It gives you a chance to see the holiday from a fresh perspective. Below is a side-by-side comparison of two Thanksgiving celebrations: Hawaii is on the left and New England is on the right.

Sandy Shores Rocky Coast
Landscapes: Sandy Beaches versus Rugged Rocky Coastline

Rain on Petals Frosty Leaf
Weather: Warm Tropical Showers versus Cool Crisp Air & Snow

Pineapples Gourds
Decorations: Pineapples versus Pumpkins & Gourds

Plumeria & Chrysanthemums
Flowers: Wild Plumeria versus Potted Chrysanthemums

Torchlight & Candle Light
Lighting: Outdoor Torchlight versus Indoor Candlelight

Bird of Paradise & Cornucopia
Centerpieces: Exotic Flowers versus Harvest Cornucopia

Tropical Cocktail & Hot Beverage
Drinks: Cool Tropical Cocktails versus Hot Beverages

Fresh Fruit & Hot Soup
Appetizers: Tropical Fruit versus Hot Hearty Soups

Roast Pork & Roast Turkey
Entrées: Roast Pork versus Roast Turkey

Vegetables
Vegetables: Pacific Rim Blend versus Roast Sweet Potatoes

Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie
Desserts: Chocolate Kona Coffee Cheesecake versus Pumpkin Pie

Fire Dance & Fireplace
After Dinner: Fire Dancing versus Relaxing by the Fire

I hope these celebrations will inspire and enrich your next family gathering. You might want to consider a change of venue or a change of décor to shake things up a bit. Whatever you decide, there are two constants you can always count on: Love and Gratitude shared with Family and Friends

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Crafting!

Pumpkin – Baking with Seasonal Flavor

Pumpkins
After Halloween has come and gone, you might be wondering what to do with all those leftover pumpkins. Whether you prefer fresh or canned pumpkin, there are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy this seasonal favorite. There’s nothing like the mouth-watering aromas of homemade cookies and pastries, straight from the oven. It may be a cold fall and winter, but you can warm hearts and bellies with a lot of love and a few easy recipes.

Iced Pumpkin Donuts
Iced Donuts
To save you time and ensure success, the baking section of your local craft store has a large selection of pans, including bundt cake, cupcakes, muffins, jelly roll, etc. One of the more unusual pans is for baking donuts. Since no deep fryer is required, anyone can bake donuts at home, and the same pan can be used to make bagels too.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Bundt Cake
A fluted pan is the secret to the bundt cake. This photo shows the standard version of a bundt cake with icing drizzled over the top. If you really want to impress your guests, prepare an unexpected surprise by adding filling. To do this, pour half the batter into the pan. Spread the filling around the pan, ensuring it does not touch the inner or outer edges of the pan. Pour the remaining batter on top and bake. When the cake is sliced, the unusual profile of the slice will be enhanced by a colorful creamy center.

Homemade Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin bread needs to cool before slicing. By refrigerating the loaf, the bread becomes moist like a cake. Toasted pumpkin bread is delicious with melted peanut butter. Metal pans are fine, but for baking bread I prefer a ceramic loaf pan. I don’t know about you, but the sound of metal scraping makes my skin crawl. Ceramic cleans up easier too.

Spiced Pumpkin Roll with Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Pumpkin Roll
A spiral design is the hallmark of this impressive dessert, but it’s easy to make, and will melt in your mouth. Bake the cake in a jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper. After baking, lay the cake face down on a towel. If necessary, trim any ragged edges. Starting with a long side, roll the cake in the towel and cool completely on a wire rack. Unroll and remove the towel, and lay cake flat. Spread the filling over the top within 1/2” of the edges. Suggested fillings include whipped cream, pie filling, and pudding. Carefully roll the cake and place it with the seam side down on a platter. Garnish as desired.

Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin muffins are delicious as is, or shake a little powdered sugar over the top. Sometimes the simplest version is the best.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Whipped Cream & Graham Cracker Crust
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Cheesecake is a dessert menu staple. The only bad thing about pumpkin cheesecake is that it’s only available from October through January, or February if you’re lucky. Beyond that you’ll have to wait until the next pumpkin season.

Walnut Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Walnut Pumpkin Pie
A pastry bag and fresh whipped cream will dress up any baked goods, but it’s just as easy to use a can of whipped cream. For best results, practice a few floral shapes first before tackling the final product.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Crust
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pie typically has a delicious flaky crust. This baker created a pretty undulating pattern with the crust and garnished the top with a leaf cut from the same pastry crust. There are some really cool baking tools, such as fluted piecrust cutters for edging, and spring-loaded piecrust cutters to create cutouts or appliqués, like the leaf shown in the photo above.

Chocolate Drizzled Pumpkin Pie with Chocolate Crust
Pumpkin Tart
This contemporary pumpkin pie has a chocolate graham cracker bottom crust, and a pumpkin cream cheese filling. For a no-bake version, buy a ready-to-use crust.

Savory Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup
Like butternut squash, pumpkin soup gets its savory flavor from rich heavy cream and just the right amount of seasoning from ginger, cinnamon, onion and celery.

Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin Pancakes
Do you love pancakes but are bored with the same old taste? Boost the flavor and your taste buds by adding 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin for every 2 cups of batter.

Homemade Pumpkin Pudding
Pumpkin Pudding
Deep-dish pumpkin pudding tastes delicious while still warm from the oven, or chilled and served with fresh whipped cream. If you’ve never had it, the top and edges have a cake-like texture, but the rest is creamy pudding with that awesome pumpkin flavor. If your favorite part of a pumpkin pie is the filling, this pudding will be your new go-to dessert.

Baking is a fun and rewarding activity to be shared with the whole family. Enjoy the process and remember you can always eat your mistakes.

Happy Crafting!