Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Winsome Wednesday 9/12/12

I HEART{ART}:  Inspiration:  Baby, Oh Baby!

“Elephant Love” 24”x24” Acrylic on canvas
This lovable elephant was painted for my niece, Tori’s nursery. My sister found a fantastic bedding set for the nursery, and that set the tone for everything.  From there, she and I chose colors for the walls (from her hospital bed...more about that below); three walls would be grey, and an accent wall in a deep rose. An amazing rug with a huge heart in all of her chosen colors was then added to the mix.  The color scheme and the heart rug then led to the idea for the painting. 

I have painted many nurseries and kids rooms, and I must say that it is so much fun.  I love the wit and whimsy that can be in a child’s room. Below is another nursery, that has grown with age. This was originally painted for my cousin Joshua, but several years later, their family adopted a baby girl (Amanda) from Africa. I remember Heather’s call to me, “Is there anything we can do to Joshua’s murals to turn it into a girl’s room?” As you can see in the photos below, the monkeys are now “dressed up,” and flowers, bows, and other pink touches were added.

The last featured nursery art is a triptych I painted for my sweet friend Kristen, who was pregnant with boy #3, to be named London. I knew she had a wild animal theme in his room, and I couldn’t stop thinking LONDON ZOO...

RECIPES: Coconut Cream Cheese Cupcakes

My niece, Tori, just turned one! My sister had a delicious spread of hearty appetizers for the family that was gathered to celebrate the wondrous first year. She asked if I would make Coconut Cream Cheese Cupcakes for the occasion. But of course...

OK, so, I cheat...I use a box mix.  I do, however, doctor it up.  In fact, I highly recommend the cookbook called “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn.  She has lots of recipe twists for the average box mix.  

For the cupcakes, I used a basic white cake mix, following the package directions, except substituting milk for water.  I cooked them in pretty silver liners in a cupcake pan, but reduced the heat to 325 and cooked them a minute or two less than the given range on the box (example, the box said 18-22 minutes, but I checked them with a toothpick at 16 minutes, and ended up taking them out at 17).  This is a little trick I learned from my friend Kristen.  When the cupcakes are slightly under baked, they are moist and better. 

The frosting is what really makes these cupcakes sing! 

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 TBS) butter, at room temperature
3 3/4 powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp coconut extract
(Sweetened Flake Coconut for the top)

Mix cream cheese and butter until combined.  Add powdered sugar a little at a time until well incorporated.  Add coconut extract and mix on medium speed 1 minute, until fluffy.  

I put the cooled cupcakes in the freezer for 1 hour and then frosted them (so much easier to frost frozen cupcakes).  After frosting each one, I dipped the top into a bowl of sweet flaked coconut. I added a small bunch of pink hydrangeas from my sister’s garden for a final touch, and then layered them on a tiered dish.  

Best enjoyed with a glass of champagne!

SIMPLY CREATIVE: Baby’s 1st Birthday, Favors

As I write this segment, it is hard to believe that one year ago today, my sister was in the hospital, and had been for a month.  Twelve weeks before her due date she was put on hospital bedrest, with hopes she could stay there as long as possible before her November due date.  Many women in this position only last a few days, but my persistent sister made it four weeks. There is a huge difference for a preemie born 8 weeks early, versus twelve. The short end of a long story is that tomorrow is Tori’s birthday, and you can’t even imagine that this beautiful, big, bubbly baby could have been a preemie at all.  Her formal name is Victoria Grace, and she is indeed victorious through God’s grace.  
Tori, the Belle of the Ball in her party dress
Annette and Andrew, Tori’s parents, decided to have a family baby dedication facilitated by a close friend who is a pastor. We also celebrated her first miraculous year of life, her first birthday.  Annette chose a color scheme of pink, magenta, and turquoise.  She took an adorable photo of Tori (all dressed up in her color scheme), and glued it to some specialty note cards she had found with elephants on them. I added her full name under her picture in my best fancy hand. During her pregnancy, Annette had put together a compilation of songs for Tori. She decided this would be a great gift to give everyone at the dedication. This is a bit of a trademark for her and she’s very good at it; she’s been ‘mixing music’ since high school. We put the CDs in the note card envelopes and attached the note card to the magenta envelopes with a turquoise ribbon.

And a good time was had by all...

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