all grown up...

I have 3 nieces and 2 nephews. The oldest, Brittany, is graduating this year. I just can't believe how fast time goes. I remember being Brittany's age and adults would say "Seems like yesterday when you were just a kid." and I would think "Yesterday? THAT TOOK FOREVER!" But it's true that time seems to pass faster, the older you get. On one hand, it makes me sad that my little chubby-cheek Brittany is no more. But on the other hand, I'm so excited to see the awesome adult that she will become.
BELIEVE ME when I tell you that Brittany is no ordinary teenager. She is so sweet and caring. So responsible. So trust-worthy. So helpful. Never snotty. Never a know-it-all. Never argues or fights. She helps her mom whenever she needs her. She got a job as soon as she could and saved up for her own car and continues to work in order to pay for her insurance. She is very popular at school and has lots of friends and a busy social life but makes sure to maintain her grades and never get in trouble. She goes to church and isn't afraid that will make her "unpopular" with her peers. She is confident, beautiful and so sweet. I am so proud of her.
To be honest, I wish I was more like her when I was a teenager. I did my fair share of "experimenting" and always seem to push my limits with my parents. I thought I knew everything and my parents just didn't understand. Let me just say this, I am so glad I decided not to have children cause I have a feeling I would get payback. I don't know how parents put up with teenagers... they would all be very lucky to have one like Brittany.
Last Sunday I pretended to be a photographer again and took her to take her senior photos. I just finished designing her announcement and I couldn't be happier with the outcome! But with a gorgeous model, how could it go wrong?
I am going to print these on the pearl paper from and order some pearlized, brown envelopes to finish it off. I will post pics of the printed piece when I get them, but I just couldn't wait to get these up!

just another invite

I recently designed matching save-the-dates and shower invites. I thought they came out pretty nice, so I figured I would share!

I use to print most of my invites because they are super fast, extremely helpful, reasonably priced and offer beautiful pearl and metallic papers. For this invite, I used the pearl paper. Look how it sparkles!

Mpix also offers double-sided printing which always adds that additional "oomph" to any invite. 

a photographer?

Well, to add to my list of things I "pretend" to be, I was asked to do my first photo shoot! A friend of mine saw some snapshots I had taken and assumed I was a photographer. I wish I could say that I agree with her, but unfortunately I have to rely on my photoshop skills to make a photo appear to be somewhat close to professional quality. So, I thought "What the hell? Why not? It could be another post on my blog!"
Here are some more of my delusions of grandeur:

Fiesta in my mouth!

Okay... so this is how it came about. Pioneer Woman makes her own salsa and my friend Julia sent me the link to the recipe. I thought "Sure, it looks good but who wants to go through all the trouble to make salsa?" The next day, Julia brought some in, I tried it and that was it! I couldn't wait to make my own, so I went out and purchased a blender (a mighty nice one, I might add... half price at Tuesday Morning), bought the ingredients and made my own batch last night. I was surprised that it was so easy and effortless, almost. Totally worth it.

So, here is the recipe taken straight from the Pioneer Woman. The only thing I changed was that I added another jalapeno, cause Sommer likes it hot!

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • ¼ cups Chopped Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • ¼ teaspoons Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • ½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
  • ½ whole Lime Juice
Preparation Instructions
Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar,
salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor.
Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about
10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.
Then it donned on me... salsa is fat-free! Perfect for my latest 
attempt to drop 10lbs, which is very hard for me (see previous recipes).
But if I dip a Tostito in it, the fat-free goes out the window. 
So, I thought "Why not make my own tortilla chips?" 
The outcome? Easy, yummy, cheap and diet-approved!
You wanna try it? All I did was buy corn tortillas, they come like 
20-28 to a pack for around $1.50 and that makes a whole crap load 
of tortilla chips. I cut them into triangles, put them on a baking 
sheet and sprinkled them with sea salt, cracked pepper and garlic 
salt. But if you wanted to make it spicier, you could use cayenne 
or chili powder. I decided to keep it tame for my first time around. 
I baked them at 350 and just watched them until they were as 
crispy as I wanted them. I think it was around 20 minutes? I kept
them kind of chewy and crisp around the edges, but I think next 
time I am gonna make them all crispy. 
And there will be a next time. Trust me.

a bunch of birthdays

This last weekend was the birthday of 3 great people in my life: Kim, Christina and 'lil Zane (who turned 1!)
To celebrate the birth of these awesome peeps I tried out 2 new desserts, and here they are without further ado...

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookie
(adapted from Martha Stewart and edited to my liking)

  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. Mix in oats and carrots. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
  3. Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Here is a hint: Squeeze all the water from the carrots after they are grated. I read reviews about this recipe and some people said their cookies came out thin and too crispy. I think it was due to the water in the carrots cause mine came out very soft and cakey, which needed for a not-so-messy sandwich cookie.

Here is the recipe for the cream cheese frosting:
(I doubled this and used it for my Almond Joy Cake too!)

Makes about 2 cups
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract


  1. Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add almond extract, and stir to combine.

These will definitely be made again. They were as good as they look, maybe even better.

But what is a birthday party without a birthday cake? I found a recipe for Chocolate Cake and thought I would "jazz" it up and make it an Almond Joy Cake.

Chocolate Cake
(adapted from and made extra special with a little love from Sommer)


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners' sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.
  5. Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

The "love" I speak of comes from the toasting of almonds and coconut for a bit in the oven to bring out that LOVELY flavor.

For the icing, I mixed a little toasted almond in with the chocolate icing and I mixed in some toasted coconut with the leftover cream cheese frosting from the cookies. Look at this beautiful outcome!

And if you were wondering if this cake is as good as it looks? I heard from a few different party-goers that this was the BEST chocolate cake they have ever had! Thank God that 10 hours spent in the kitchen was worth it!

a baby shower

When my friend, Becca, became pregnant, my friend Jesse and I decided to throw her a shower. It was my first time that I was able to pretend to cater an event! (well, besides my bridal shower. But, you aren't supposed to cater your own shower, so it doesn't count.)
Here is the spread in all its glory:

The menu consisted of Egg Salad on croissants and Chicken Salad in mini-pitas. My chicken salad just happens to be the best in the entire world, if I do say so myself. Its also wonderful in a low-fat version. I would be happy to share the recipe upon request!

I also made Bruschetta Bites. Which is a recipe stolen from Jesse, but I altered it by putting the ingredients in phyllo cups and now I am able to call it my own! Thanks Jesse!

Becca requested I make 7-layer dip. In order to stick with the "petite" theme of the spread, I decided to put all 7 layers in individual tortilla cups!

And for dessert? That's right. Cheesecake pops!

Here is a photo of me, Jesse and the guest of honor, Becca. Special thanks goes to Kim Waxman for providing the beautiful backdrop in this photo and the most beautiful baby shower venue EVER!

treats of the past

Here are some of my experiments!
(and from this time on, everything added to the blog will also include the recipe)

This is a favorite amongst my friends. 8-Layer Chocolate Cake. It has been made with Reeses, Snickers and Butterfinger. All were obviously equally as good.

This is a cake I made for Mother's Day. Almond/Banana/Pineapple Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting.

Christmas cookies! Almond cookies with lemon-flavored icing.