Thursday, April 25, 2013


"Happy Birthday Cake!" art by Tina C. Wells
For a special birthday for my grandmother a few years back, I decorated a simple white cake with flowers, and later painted a small 12" x 12" canvas of the image. It makes for festive decor when celebrating a birthday. 

This past weekend, my little Genevieve left the 'terrible 2's' behind and turned three years old! Such a big girl now. We had a sweet celebration, all in an Alice in Wonderland theme...specifically a Mad Hatter Tea Party. With both boys and girls coming to the party, and Genevieve's love of tea parties, it seemed like a good fit.

Mad Hatter Tea Party!

Decorating for the party was great fun! My sister-in-law was a huge help (actually, I am sure I could have never pulled it together without her). That morning we attempted to transform my backyard into Wonderland! We strung paper lanterns, set the long table with tea pots, large mushrooms, bugs, a chandelier, topiaries, tea cups, etc. I stuck with a black and white color scheme and added pops of color. I dragged out every interesting chair and ottoman I had to put around the table. In the yard I hung a chandelier in the tree, propped up mirrors, frames, paintings, and hidden creatures in the bushes. I had painted the Cheshire Cat, and Absolom the Caterpillar on cardboard and tucked them in the shrubbery as well.

In search of costumes for the Alice theme, my mom and I found this dress packed away in a trunk at her house. She had made it for me when I was about the same age, to be the flower girl in my Aunt and Uncle's wedding. It was just Genevieve's size, and she thought it was a perfect party dress! The history brought a smile to my face and made it special.

Birthday Girl Genevieve in vintage "Alice" attire

A few hats, props, and costumes always make kids parties more fun (and a little champagne for the grown-ups never hurts either). I made a crazy hat for big brother Kenny to play the Mad Hatter. I rallied some party goers to dress as the March Hare, White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts, a Card, and the Cheshire Cat. And me...? A talking Flower, what else?

I served "tea" (ok, iced tea, lemonade, and was almost 80 degrees), and cakes. The kids were all seated and I announced that we were celebrating everyones Unbirthday, and Genevieve's Birthday! The cupcakes had mini playing cards stuck in each one, and Genevieve's had a flower with her face glued onto the center. The adults had their choice of chocolate heart shaped cake, raspberry-lemon rose cakes, or cupcakes.  

As I was baking away for the whole week prior, I decided to bake a little more and have an old-fashioned Cake Walk at the party. The kids circled the table while tunes from the movie played; they stopped at a numbered chair when the music stopped. If their number was drawn, they got to choose from 5 mini cakes. The next game was the old 'pin the tail on the donkey', except this was Pin-the-Grin-on-the-Cheshire-Cat! 

Then, just like in Wonderland, we moved on to Croquet!

I have to say that I had a ball planning this! Who knows how much time I spent, all for three short hours of fun...but no regrets, I'll make up for the lost sleep somehow. The memory of laughter and smiling faces makes it all worth it. Happy Birthday, Genevieve...and a very Merry Unbirthday to You!

SIMPLY CREATIVE: Tiered Platters

A while back, I was at Anthropology, where rarely can I afford to buy anything, but enjoy wandering through the shop and soaking up the creativity. That particular day I saw this amazing tiered dish with layer upon layer of tea pots and other dishes attached, together forming a wonderful tower. It was horribly expensive, and even if I could afford it, where would I store such a thing? I decided I surely could make something like it. I found an inexpensive white tea set and started stacking with my dishes. I certainly didn't want to permanently glue my plates to this contraption and started brainstorming other options...Ah-Ha! What if I used poster putty to attach the dishes together? It worked! This stack is held together with nothing but poster putty (purchased at Staples) on the tops and bottoms of each center piece. I finished it off by using the putty to attach tea spoon and small cocktail forks to the plates. When I was finished using it for the party, I carefully pulled it apart. It added splash and whimsy to my serving table. Give it a try!

Friday, April 19, 2013

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: ROSES!

"Pale Roses" by Tina C. Wells

This painting looses its punch on the computer screen, as the size is what makes it unusual. It is quite large, 30”x40”. When viewed in person, each rose is about the size of a dinner plate!  

I have roses on the brain this week as I am preparing for my daughter’s third birthday, Mad Hatter Tea Party, “painting the roses red”, etc...more on that next week. As I am planning, prepping, and baking up a storm, I thought I would share with you these fun Rose Cakes... 

RECIPE: Raspberry Lemon Rose Cakes

I borrowed my friend Shannon’s wonderful rose cake muffin tin. I used a recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor and then added a little food coloring and raspberries. I topped it with a lemon glaze. These turned out so very cute as individual roses, but this recipe would work well in a bundt pan with the glaze drizzled over the top.

Raspberry Lemon Cake

The KEY to using cake molds is covering every inch and crevice of the pan with Crisco shortening (using a brush) and then coating with Wondra flour (knock out excess). It works like magic, and the form will turn out perfectly!

1 pkg plain white cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Add a few drops of red food coloring until you get the color you want
Fold in 1 cup frozen raspberries defrosted, letting juice swirl through batter.

Mix all ingredients together (except raspberries) and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in berries. Prepare bundt pan and bake 40-45 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven. Allow to cool and then release from pan. Drizzle with lemon glaze.

For lemon glaze, mix equal(ish) parts melted butter, lemon juice, powdered sugar. Adjust to taste

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: HOME

"Chandelier" by Tina C. Wells, Acrylic on canvas

This chandelier makes me want to come inside, stay a while, relax with friends. 

A new look

My sister moved "home" from Michigan about five years ago. I say home, because even though she moved to Newport Beach, and I am in San Diego, it feels like she is home. Back in Southern California. She is a hour and a half drive away, not a 4 hour plane trip followed by a 3 hour the snow. I am ever so happy about this!

It took them nearly two years to find the house that fit all their criteria. They live in a great neighborhood, older homes, lots of families, walking distance to shops, restaurants, and the bay. When they first moved in they were happy that much of the house worked with their current furnishings, and so, they moved the Michigan household out of storage and into the new digs. A couple of years passed and it was time to start colors, new furniture, new  style. That being said, the permanent features in the room would stay, such as the large, green, granite, moroccan-looking fireplace. 

Annette asked me to help her with this project, but I can't really take much credit because she truly led the way. I was more of a sounding board, but enjoyed being part of the process. We all need someone we trust to toss ideas around. 

Step 1: Walls. Annette wanted her room to "shimmer." I investigated some specialty metallic paints and found a wonderful, mildly metallic paint, in a taupe hue. The application was quite a process, but with fantastic results. The walls are rich and inviting and change drastically in different light throughout the day and evening. And yes, they do shimmer!

Step 2: Furniture. She was quite sure she wanted a new sofa or sectional in a charcoal color. She measured, shopped, compared and at last decided on a sofa and chair from Z Gallery. She added two fun upholstered chairs to her mid-century modern dining room set, that could be pulled over to the living room for additional seating. A new low wood coffee table and mini chevron print rug and she was almost complete. 

Step 3: Accessories. Pillows were the frosting on the cake. I encouraged her to over buy, take them home, and return the ones that didn't work. Turquoise and coral colored pillows added a great pop of color. Accessorizing can go on indefinitely as you shop and travel and pick up things along the way that work in the space.



RECIPE: Annette's Champagne Cocktail

Love this recipe! Not only is it a delicious combination of flavors, but oh-so-pretty in the champagne flute. Great for brunch, appetizers...anything really. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, as they say.

Pomegranate Juice
Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
Pomegranate Seeds

Mix pomegranate and grapefruit juices together, equal parts. Add a splash, according to taste preference, to champagne in individual glasses, along with a few pomegranate seeds. For a pre-dinner cocktail, a splash of vodka may be added.