creative christmas juices a'flowin...

I know I have been MIA, unfortunately my creativity has been stifled by "grown-up" problems that needed to be addressed. But I am slowly getting back to my fun projects and baking tasty treats.

If you know me, you know I love christmas and I love big fat, REAL christmas trees! Due to lack of room in my little apartment, I accepted the fact that I need a smaller tree and would be easier to have a fake one. So, if it had to be puny, it needed to have character. I found this lil guy online and it is so cute, looks like it was just plucked right out of the country side.

(Excuse the scantily clad woman on the TV, I just happened to be watching the Victoria Secret fashion show.)

With a tree like this, I thought it would be fitting to have handmade ornaments. I scoured Pinterest for some cute ideas and I came across these stars and ornaments that would be perfect!

And they are. Perfect.

a margarita for a mommy...

After years of trying, one of my closest friends, Vicky, became pregnant with her second child. I couldn't be happier for her and I was thrilled to be involved with planning her shower. The theme was a mexican fiesta, complete with mini tacos, ceviche, sangria and of course I contributed my tasty salsa to the menu. I was also asked to make the dessert, being that everyone knows that's where I have the most fun!

After racking my brain trying to think of a dessert that goes along with theme, I wondered if there was such thing as a Margarita Pie. I googled it and lo and behold, it DOES exist. I found a couple of recipes and decided to do one strawberry and one just regular lime. Here are the recipes:

Strawberry Margarita Pie

Margarita Pie

I really liked the idea of the crust made out of pretzels so I made double that amount and ditched the recipe for the crust on the strawberry pie.

BUT how do I make it special? Just a bit more creative? Serve them in margarita glasses!

I apologize for not providing more photos. That's what I get for not bringing my own camera and just assuming that people would be snapping numerous pictures like the paparazzi over a dessert. I shouldn't expect everyone to be as crazy as I am.

Next time, I would add sugar around the rim and maybe a candy fruit slice as garnish to finish it off. But these were really good and sprinkling the pretzel crust on top added that yummy sweet and salty combo that everyone loves.

I also contributed some d├ęcor and as I was shopping for them at the party store, nothing seemed fitting for Vicky and lil' Wills. Pastel ducks, winnie the pooh, banners adorned with diapers and bottles, it was not gonna work. Vicky has a classical, tasteful style about her, so I needed to devise something else.

I found these crepe fans but to dress them up,  I designed a welcome note for Wills, printed them, used a die-cutter, attached them to the center and... viola! Something unique, understated and suitable for the mother-to-be!

Congrats Vicky! I am so glad I was able to be a part of your celebration and can't wait to meet little William!

back to work for Brooke...

Sorry that my blog has been neglected. Sometimes life can get in the way of creative projects. But when I was asked to create a birthday invite for one of the cutest little girls I have ever seen, I pushed through my creative rut and created something I know she will love.

I have been creating Brooke's birthday invites since she was 2! It's great to watch her grow through the years and remarkably keeps getting cuter and cuter!

Here is another invite I created for another little cutie, Aidan.

many thanks...

Here are some thank you cards I designed as part of the senior announcements. With matching envelopes, they were the perfect way to say thanks!

a cake from long ago...

I made this Boston Cream Pie for a friend's birthday about 2 years ago and totally forgot about it until lo and behold, there were pictures of it sent to my email!

Unfortunately, it was so long ago that I don't remember the recipe or where I got it from... so you will just have to drool over the photos and wish you could make it!

cookies for Tom...

I recently visited Tom and after he discovered my blog, he asked that I bring something sweet and yummy for him. I never pass up a chance to try something new. I have had this recipe from Martha Stewart in my recipe book for awhile and thought it was the perfect time to give it a try! Being that I love chocolate covered cherries, I thought the recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cherry Cookies would taste just like them... although they didn't, they were still VERY good! I didn't get my own photo of them, so I have to borrow Martha Stewart's.

Mine came out much darker for some reason but tasted like pure yummy... isn't that what matters?

Now, a little about Tom and WHY I traveled to the depths of the Ocala National Forest to visit him (making the cookies was the easy part).

Tom was my mom's boyfriend for over 7 years and even though they never got married and couldn't make it work, he has remained very close to my heart and still feels like part of my family. Being that he was my mom's first love after my dad, I tried very, very hard not to like him. He always understood my feelings and never pushed me to feel differently. After some time and seeing how much he loved my mom and her whole family as if they were his own, I came to see what an amazing person my mom found. They parted ways on amicable terms and he always remained very special to me.

Last year, his life changed when a doctor made a mistake during a simple surgery and ended up paralyzing him from the neck down. He has gained some limited movement back into his hands, arms and legs but still has a long way to become the strong, able man he once was. Everyday is a struggle for him to cope into this new life that has been bestowed upon him. From working in the construction industry and golfing often, to being completely dependent on the help of his son to do everyday activities, this new way of living is a hard pill to swallow. My heart breaks for him. Leaving him and not knowing when I will get back to kiss his bald head was very hard.

Please pray for him that he will continue to get better and be able to reverse this awful mistake. He deserves to live life to the fullest and not to be stuck in a wheelchair forever caused by the carelessness of a doctor.

Below is a picture of him with his awesome son and his beautiful daughter-in-law, who take care of him everyday. I am so thankful he has them.

more announcements...

After "pretending" to be a photographer, I can do what I know best... design the announcement!
Here are the two I just finished!

where did the time go?

This post is dedicated to my sweet, sassy niece, Lauren. As a graduation gift I had a photo shoot with her and designed her senior announcements. Yes, that means she's graduating high school and I just can't believe she has grown up this fast. It seems like yesterday when this sweet, chubby-faced little girl was toddling around, making up songs and making us laugh into hysterics! I had to include a couple of pics, sorry Lauren.

She was always so dramatic and we all knew from a young age that she would take after her Aunt Sommer. Her sister, Brittany was the complete opposite... quiet, sensitive, careful and dainty. You could always hear Lauren coming, she made her presence known. I remember one year for Brittany's 5th birthday I decided to buy her an outfit that matched my style. Baggy jeans, half-cropped shirt, and boxers that would show slightly under the baggy jeans (cut me some slack... it was the 90's). She was not havin it! She ripped off those clothes and comfortably got back into her sweet, pink dress with flowers and rainbows. Lauren was my little twin, always wanting to dress like me but she didn't need any help looking like me or acting like me. That was natural.

Now that she has grown into her own person, I couldn't be more proud. She still has a lot of the same traits I did at her age: sassy, pushing the limits, inability to take people's crap, fun, energetic, dramatic, confident, assertive and did I say sassy? Cause she is.

I know she will turn out to be a successful, happy woman as long as she keeps following in my footsteps! I have no doubt.

Being that I am not having children, these 2 girls are the closest thing to it and I couldn't be more proud and excited. Even though I miss that chubby-faced toddler, I am very thrilled to watch her grow up and spread her wings.

go bananas!

As many of you know, I am very fond of the carrot cake whoopie pies that I make often. So, when I saw this recipe for a whoopie pie made with banana cookies and peanut butter cream filling, I couldn't wait to whip up a batch! Luckily, my hubby volunteered me to make the treat for his monthly birthday office gathering so I had a reason to try this sucker out!
I found the recipe in Taste of Home magazine and I added my own touch by rolling them in Butterfinger because everything is better with Butterfinger!

Here is the recipe, although I would add some banana extract to the cookie mixture cause I felt the peanut butter filling overpowered the banana flavor.

Go Bananas Whoopie Pies!
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon banana extract (optional)

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

a bunch of seniors...

It's the time of year for graduates. And even though I don't consider myself a photographer, I keep getting hired as one... so I just go along with it!
Below are three gorgeous girls that I had the pleasure of photographing for their senior announcements. One of which is my own beautiful niece. They grow up so fast.

it's never too late...

This is an album that I designed a couple of years ago but I realized that I have done 5 or 6 albums and haven't posted any on my blog. So I am trying to track down a few to share with everyone.
This is the first one I ever designed and it is my favorite. Maybe because the wedding was held at Sandals in the Bahamas and the bride, Alexis, was stunning... therefore made it easy to create a gorgeous album! When you have beautiful models and backdrop, it makes my job a little easier.
This is the cover:

Here are two of my favorite spreads from the inside:

and this is the back cover:

it's a first...

When I was hired to create a baby shower invite for an expectant mother of twins, I couldn't wait to get started! I think I even had them designed before I had a date, location or details. Designing an invite for twins is a first... and I think the finished product is super cute!