Tag Archives: love

Make Something Worth Sharing With Others

 

Perhaps you noticed I took a little hiatus. A little hiatus?! A whole year?! Well, life happens and I am back. I am here to make new content and share it with all of you.

I remember when I was in college and tried writing a haiku every day to keep in the writing mindset each day. So many of those haikus were ridiculous. I really should write every time I have an idea though. Sure, many of the ideas would be flops with just a few occasional gems tucked in but then I think you’d get a clearer picture of my family and our life.

Believe it or not, I’m a fairly private person and I do try to make sure that everything I’m putting out into the world is positive and making life taste sweeter, not more bitter. But when tragedy strikes, I don’t think it is fair to you nor me to gloss over it with a layer of buttercream and pretend everything is okay.

I’m not going to get anywhere without getting deeply personal.

I haven’t found my voice yet. I haven’t found my comfort level of vulnerability yet. I haven’t written enough of all my thoughts to stand behind them and be confident if strangers, friends or family challenge them.

I believe in a collective connectivity. The way your high school acquaintance, most recent coworker and your sister in law all posted about craving bacon this afternoon. It wasn’t breakfast time. It wasn’t a viral meme. It was a taste, a craving that spanned your newsfeed and inspired you to grab a Baconator on your way home or try these Apple Bacon Cupcakes. Somewhere in the universe we are shooting off neurons or auras and the rest of us are receiving them loud and clear.

When we get to the meat of it, my heart isn’t so much different from yours. I seek to put good out into the world and hope that it inspires others to do the same. Making life taste sweeter isn’t about adding sugar to your diet. It is about making this a better place to live. Be the sweetness you hope to see in the world. I mean, it isn’t quite Gandhi but I think you get the gist.

This year, 2017, is going to be life changing for so many. I feel our nation and community are at a precipice and this year may just decide which way we go. For some, this is a time of fear. There is the fear of the unknown and the fear of what we know all to well.

A year ago, my mother’s sister passed away. It deeply affected my grandmother, my mother, everyone that loved and cared for her. She wrote in journals like I do. These journals are not diaries with dates. They are ramblings of a chaotic mind. They are words heard on the air or in our mind, complete with images and doodles. On a page of a hand bound journal I made for her in high school, she wrote to me.

She said, “Make something worth sharing with others.”

Somehow, it didn’t matter what I was doing, she wanted to encourage me to do it. She wanted me to write. She wanted me to paint. She wanted me to cook and bake. She wanted me to create. This is the truest thing I know about my aunt. She wanted me to create. She wanted me to make something worth sharing with others.

A year ago, I wrote the following passage but at the time did not have the courage to share it. Today, I share this writing because I think it is important to open up and make that connection with my community.

She said, “Make something worth sharing with others.”

I walked through my aunt’s house peering at all the things she left behind; each organized and priced and ready for the estate sale. I slid my fingers down counter tops, dressers and lightly touched the layered paint textures of the art upon the walls. My aunt had ornate taste. Her home reminds me of World Market with deep reds and purples and splashes of orange. Lanterns hang from the mantle dangling above a large ceramic Buddha.
She may have been the artsy aunt or the drunk aunt or the whimsical aunt that would tell your fortune through tarot cards and zodiac signs. She prided herself on her business success. She enjoyed fostering creative talents and encouraging them in others.
One of my early memories includes her helping me to find the best hiding spot in a game of hide and seek. I’m pretty sure she locked me in a blanket trunk. But no one found me so I guess I won. I remember her water bed and her lovely obsession with monkeys. I remember coveting her drafting table because I understood that those are what real artists use. I remember talking her into letting me take pictures of her for a photography class. Somewhere inside I understood we had a connection, like oldest children do, like artists do, like those that feel they need to forge their own path but become their own obstacles do.

I can see my scribbles in her scribbles and her writing in mine. I’m honored she chose to use the hand bound journal I made for her to share all those thoughts and fears and dreams. Thirteen years ago I bound that journal and thought of her as each page came together. Now, I can’t remember how, but I see it is where she turned to write when her heart was broken and her vision dark. My own black books mirror hers to something eerie.
I must write all these ideas I have in my head without fear of perception. I must share the things closest to my heart.

On a whim she had purchased a fully stocked Wilton cake decorating set. She barely used it and gifted it to me. I can not ice a cake nor paint a canvas without thinking of her.

Art supplies are not something I would purchase for myself because I rate them as a selfish extravagance. Why buy paint when there are bills to pay and I’ll be working instead of painting anyway. My grandmother gifted me my aunt’s art supplies. Paints, colored pencils, canvases. I’ve painted more in the last month than I have in the past year. It is as if my aunt herself said, “Here, it is not an extravagance if your soul needs to paint.” So I paint.

As we enter a new year with new possibilities, I am going to make the same request to you as my aunt did to me. Make something worth sharing with others. Add your light, your spark, your positivity to the world this year. Bring your imagination and hold on for the ride this new journey is taking us on.

Many lost loved ones and favorite icons in 2016. I know my aunt was joined with David Bowie, one of her favorites, as well as so many others. So as we remember our loved ones, I hope we smile and remember to keep adding light to a dark world.

Keep making life taste sweeter.

Halloween Spooktacular Disaster

A Spooktacular Disaster to add humor and gore to your favorite Halloween treats.

Hey guys!

This weekend is Halloween and all the ghosts and goblins are going to be out Trick or Treating. Since it falls on a Saturday this year I imagine many of you will be headed out to parties as well.

Here is where I have to get really honest with you.

I had planned to make some truly Halloween inspired treats for you guys so you had something fun to bring to all of those Halloween parties this weekend. Well, I had some techniques in mind to share but the cupcakes I made were lacking the most important ingredient of all: Love.

In a rush, I used a box mix (what?! I know. I know.) and by the time I got to icing them, I was just depressed with the whole mess.

Hiding the Evidence

I had every intention of not sharing my failure with you and just sweeping everything under the rug. But, part of my charm is my ability to screw things up. No, really, I am constantly telling Captain Cupcakeasaurus that I’m The Ruiner. It sounds like a pretty awesome arch nemesis or villain name, doesn’t it?

So with the included disclaimer, I’m going to show you the monstrosity that was my Halloween Cupcakes. Compared to the Caramel Cinnamon Apple Pie Cupcakes last week, these sad little puppies looked like the bargain bin ones that the new cake decorator screwed up on at the grocery store.

Okay, that may be cruel but I don’t mean it to be cruel toward the new cake decorator as much as I mean it as cruelty to myself. I’m ashamed but I’m going to share anyway. Why? Because I promised to be honest and maybe my failures can be someone else’s successes or maybe we can find solidarity in cake failure together.

Since these cupcakes did not come out as planned, I will still be sharing a cupcake recipe tomorrow with you but it is not a batch I made this week. They are a family favorite that I think you will enjoy regardless.

Vampire Bites

On previous Halloweens, I have made cupcakes and tried to be creative with different spook inspired decorating. One of my favorites is the Vampire Bite Cupcake. You can use any of your favorite flavors of cake and still make them into Vampire Bites. Like I mentioned above, I used a basic white cake mix this time around.

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Then using the Wilton 230 tip, I inject “blood” into two parallel holes like a vampire bite. The blood is a mix of strawberry preserves (raspberry works too), chocolate syrup and 2-3 drops of food coloring. The ratio is about two parts preserves to one part chocolate syrup. I like using the preserves because it even adds a little chunkiness to the blood which I think is disgustingly awesome.

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Slime

The Wilton 230 tip is also great for injecting other types of fillings into your cupcakes. I also injected a few with green “slime”. I used the Wilton Slime Green Sparkling Decorator’s Gel for the slime both in and on top of the cupcakes.

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BRAINS!

I am always a fan of zombies. Just think about it. Any cool costume can be made cooler by being a zombie. What’s cooler than dressing up as a ballerina? A ZOMBIE ballerina. What’s cooler than dressing up as a doctor? A ZOMBIE doctor.

What do all your zombie friends want to eat? BRAINS!

Another fun technique for Halloween is to make brain cupcakes. They can be filled with blood too for extra gross factor. Using a brain colored frosting —Wait! What color are brains anyway? This is kind of artist’s choice because fresh living brains are pink but the formaldehyde brains look more gray.

Brain Cupcakes

Anyway, first you’ll do a flat base icing on top of the cupcake.

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Then, using Wilton size 10 tip draw a straight line slightly right of center and moving out to the right edge curl the icing around and make a zigzag motion all the way back to your starting point. Using the same technique, you will do the left side of the brain. For added depth and icing, I like to add another swivel of icing on top of the zigzags on both sides. It gives your brain more of a 3D effect as well.

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Monsters

While you are creatively making ghoulish cupcakes, you may also want to throw in some monsters as well. A few candy eyeballs can go along way. My color of icing here is not ideal but the possibilities are endless. I used the Wilton 233 tip to make the monsters look furry. Just squeeze the piping bag with the tip on the cupcake and then pull upwards to create those long stringy hair looking pieces.

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While I was playing with slime and blood and whatnot I got the idea to try something else out too.

Experiment Time

Peeps learned awhile ago that Peeps didn’t just have to be a treat for Easter. They are now sold in the shape of pumpkins and ghosts for Halloween. Peeps aren’t the only ones to catch on to this marketing potential. Cadbury eggs aren’t just for Easter now either.

Cadbury makes a Screme Egg that is a Cadbury Egg with green slimy insides. Still just as sweet and delicious as ever, just green.

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Well, I wondered what would happen if I baked a Screme Egg into a cupcake. My hopes were that you could bite into a cupcake and get a mouthful of chocolate and green Cadbury goo.

As it so happens, things didn’t quite go as planned. The Screme Egg was still relatively intact but the ooze had oozed itself out of the cupcake made the wrapper difficult to remove. It also didn’t do much for the flavor of the cupcake so I will mark this down as a failure and a lesson learned.

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Ghouls, Goblins and Ghosts: Oh My!

There are so many fun things out there now to help with decorating Halloween party cupcakes. There are candy bones, candy knives, and candy tombstones. You can turn Oreos into bats or licorice into spiders or melted white chocolate into spider webs.

With all the different options out there, try not to get overwhelmed. Getting overwhelmed leads you to where I was last night: burnt out and not feeling the love. If you don’t love the food you’re making, it shows in the taste and presentation of that food.

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Towards the end, I realized what was wrong and had to call time of death on my cupcaking debacle. I let Little Cupcakeasaurus Rex take over and he enjoyed decorating them with bones and blood.

There’s no harm in letting the little ones do their thing, especially for Halloween cupcakes. I’m pretty sure kids know more about what is scary than we do.

Go wild! If there is ever a holiday to make not so pretty cupcakes, I think Halloween would be it. 

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Life isn’t perfect. Things don’t always go as planned. Cadbury Eggs should really not be baked into a cake. Have fun and be safe this Halloween. Make life taste sweeter by not forgetting the most important ingredient of baking: LOVE.