Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Creme Brulee Cheesecake

Hello Sweet Readers,

I made this cheesecake a couple weeks ago for a church meeting. Looking back, I can laugh, and I guess I did that night, but I have to say, the recipe failed me on this one! I made it per the instructions (except I threw in some homemade toffee for our pleasure) and it tasted divine, especially that yummy caramel topping. However, when I went to cut the beauty, oh dear. The caramel had solidified and was sooo hard to slice. I had to serve 13 people and they were hungry. I was hungry. So I just gently took off the layer of caramel from most of the cake and served it without it. Too bad. It would have tasted really good with it had it stayed the correct texture. Live and learn, I guess. Next time, I will make the sauce on the side and drizzle it over at serving.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Project 365, Week 3

Hello Sweet Readers! Here is week 3 of my Project 365 postings. Instead of a collage this week, I am posting the photos separately. I have found that I have been taking many more photos each day and it's getting hard to choose which ones to share! Life is pretty amazing when you really stop and take notice. There is so much around me that I have to be thankful for and it's all a reminder of how blessed I am.

The first photo, taken on January 17, 2010 is looking out my bedroom window. It has been dreary and rainy here lately, but in a way, it's pretty, too. The photo was taken close to sunset.
January 18, 2010 - This is out in my side yard. I have never really noticed these berries on this plant before. I guess I never really ventured out in the rain this time of year when they were producing. They are not edible, but they look good. I love the little bit of of sun we got this day.
January 19, 2010- This is a shot I took while waiting for my son to get out of school. It's sometimes a frustrating time of day dealing with all the drivers picking up their kiddos. Some people just don't get the "pull forward" aspect of a line full of cars. It didn't bother me this day since I was busy taking shots and making them all wonder what the heck I was doing! I've never, ever noticed palm trees near the school. I like them in this cold, rainy shot.
January 20, 2010 - We had a little bit of sun and the boys and I saw a full rainbow out our window. Of course I ran to get my camera and something to cover it with since it was raining, but I was able to shoot some fun shots. I had my 50 mm lens on, though, so I could only get a bit of it at a time.
January 21, 2010 - This was my son's 9th birthday. We celebrated last weekend with a huge party, but on his actual birthday, we had dinner at Spaghetti Factory (his choice). This was after some fun at Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate Rhys and Otto's birthday. (Rhys and Otto are are friends and neighbors who share David's same birthday).
Same day. I had to include this one, too. My sweet hubby and I met for coffee and had some prayer time together. See, very blessed.

Again, same day. Sorry, I couldn't choose which to share with you. These two birds (one hummingbird, one finch) were fighting over the feeder.
January 22, 2010 - We have one rose on our miniature rose bush. In the rain, it really stands out. In the photo above, I altered it in photoshop. I like the look, but I also like the one below, which is not altered.

January 23, 2010 - We had the pleasure of meeting up for dinner with some good friends for our wine dinner Saturday night. We meet with this group every couple months and always have such a nice time. Last night was no exception. (I actually didn't take this photo so I could be in it. )

Oh, we did not coordinate our outfits. It just happened to be that two of us gals wore hot pink and two wore gray. Good times.

I'd love to know which is your favorite shot.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Toblerone Shortbread

Happy Friday, Sweet Readers!

These are some little Toblerone shortbread bars I made last week. They were not as good as I expected them to be. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. At least they look good!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sweet David

Hello Sweet Readers!

Today is David's birthday. He is 9. Wow. Almost double digits, but not quite! Happy birthday, sweet David!

I love these photos from our little impromptu photo shoot. Last week, after I picked him up from school, we made a run over to Sur La Table. They had a Peet's coffee right next door, so David and I got to enjoy some yummy warmth. These photos are of him thoroughly enjoying his hot chocolate with whipped cream. He is such a willing participant. I love watching him enjoy. Warms my heart.

I just love his smile. I love how he looks with the high contrast look of this photo. One problem is that he looks so much older here..with the brick wall, the jacket, the contrast. Too old! It would be so nice to have them little just a bit longer. But alas, I love him the way he is and and I love who he is becoming. He's a smart, creative, witty, athletic boy who loves the Lord. What more could I ask for? Well, I know I ask for much more certain days, but that is just my human nature. I pray he sees how much I love him each day. And more importantly, how very much he is loved and cherished by the God who created him and knows his inmost thoughts.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Project 365, Week 2

Hello Sweet Readers!
Here is my week 2 of project 365. I have to say, I have been loving doing this. I have been challenged to bring my camera everywhere and it has made me really see all the amazing things around me. This week was a great example.

On the 11th, I documented my baking through the Martha Stewart Cupcake book with many other bloggers. The photo is of the ingredients.
On the 12th, the sun was peeking out a bit and I was trying to capture it behind our hummingbird feeder. And I got a sweet visitor. He seemed slightly annoyed that I was there at one point. I have been playing with some editing software and the photo above is what resulted.
On the 13th, I took an alternate route home from my kid's school and documented some of the farmland nearby. So funny, because we live so close to a relatively big city, but there is still a remnant of what used to be around...
On the 14th, I took some photos of the Death Star topper cake I made for my OS's 9th birthday celebration. Sorry, the photo denotes the 16th. See, I'm still learning.
On the 15th, I had a wonderful trip to Sur La Table to purchase some fun items and new square baking pans.
On the 16th, we began a sleepover birthday celebration for my son and these are some of his guests. They are getting so old..so big..it has gone by fast.

Thanks for letting me share this project with you! I have heard from some of you that you are going to give it a shot, too. Please send me links and let me see what you are shooting. I would really love to see.

Have a fabulous week!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

MSC: Coconut Cupcakes

Hello Sweet Readers,
Here is the latest installment for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club. This month, the cupcake was chosen by Cinema Cupcakes (http://www.cinemacupcakes.blogspot.com/) and it's coconut! I love coconut and I love coconut cupcakes. My usual go to recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa. I have to say, this one is just as good and maybe even a little better. In the photograph above, you can see the ingredients. I doubled them because I made some cupcakes, but I also made some cakes for my son's birthday party coming up tomorrow!
They weren't complicated to make at all. There were a couple little extra steps, though, such as grinding the coconut fine in the food processor. I think this step was very good for the cupcake. It gave it a smoother texture so you don't have to tear through any coconut bits while eating it. And I didn't have to add any artificial coconut flavoring. It's a win-win.

Here are the pretty, perfectly domed cupcakes. I cooked them for just a tad less than the recipe recommends. Now as far as the frosting goes, I went a bit more complicated. The actual recipe in the book calls for seven minute frosting, which is pretty light and airy and not my type of frosting at all. I am one of those sweet, buttery, rich frosting kind of gals. My husband is even more that way. No light frostings over her. The denser and richer, the better.

So I went with the coconut buttercream in the fabulous cookbook "Cakelove". He claims this to be his all time favorite buttercream and I can see why. It's rich, creamy, and decadent! It's base is a pastry cream and it's heaven from there. Granted, it takes many steps and lots of extra time, but it was wayyyy worth it. The only complaint that I got from my husband was that I didn't put on enough frosting!

So here is my final cuppie. I was only frosting one that night (yes, amazingly enough, it was possible!), so I didn't do my usual piping, but I wanted it to look pretty. So I added some toasted coconut and some pretty pink dragees. With Valentines Day coming up, I went with that theme for the photo. I hope you like it...I wish you could taste it. Sooo yummy!
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise

Hello Sweet Readers!
I have been missing the sun lately. It's been rather gloomy here and I'm a Vitamin D kind of gal. Today it rained, and through the rain, there were some patches of beautiful blue sky and even a bit of sun. I had to go out and see. And shoot some pics.

Well, it went away fast, but as I was trying to capture it behind our hummingbird feeder, I got a pleasant surprise! This little guy came humming by and I was able to catch him in my lens. Mind you, I did not have my camera set to capture his wings perfectly and didn't have time to fiddle with my camera, but at least I caught him. Thanks for visiting, little guy!

See, there was a bit a blue sky and sunshine. Oh, how I miss it already.

I also snapped some shots of our oranges that are growing so nicely. They should be ready any moment. We usually allow my eldest to have the first one on his birthday, which is in just a week and a half. It has always been strange to me that they come ripe this time of year. They seem like they would be so perfect for summertime. But they do bring a bit of summer to winter and for that I am grateful :)
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Project 365, Week 1 Photos

Hello Sweet Readers,

I hope that your weekend is going along marvelously.

I wanted to share with you a new project that I am attempting to undertake. It's called project 365. Basically, I am to take a picture every day during 2010. Seems simple enough, and I pretty much do that anyway, but somehow making the committment to do it seems a little more daunting. But I will try. I have reorganized my photo storage and I am hoping that will help. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

For instance, I am using Picasa and as you can see from the collage above, I have not figured out how to get the photos in the collage to be chronological. I was able to mark the dates, but it is really disconcerting to have them out of order! I have come to terms with it for this week, but honestly, I need to figure it out, so if you have any tips, please feel free to share.

So let me tell you a bit about the photos. I dont' think I will normally have time to do this, but here goes for this time. The first day, January 5, marks the day I decided I would do this. So I guess it's more like project 360 for me. I was wearing my Costco "ugg" boots and I love them and they keep my feet warm no matter what, so I took a picture of them. Why not.

January 6th I took my older son to IHOP for breakfast. He was still off this whole week, so we got to have some fun quality time together. On January 7th, I was able to chat a bit with my dear neighbor, Nancy, who happened to have just gotten her hair done, so I snapped a couple shots of her. On January 8th, David and I had a really fun and not so "by the book" game of Junior Scrabble. On the 9th, the whole family went to the grand opening of a fabulous new library in our town. And on the 10th, I shot this photo of a creme brulee cheesecake I made to bring to a church potluck.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of my week. Don't worry, more sweets to come this week :) Have a great one!

Friday, January 8, 2010


Hello Sweet Readers!
As you may have gleaned from my previous posts this year, my husband and I grew up in Southern California and we both have family there that we visit often. Very often, in fact, especially since it's a 400+ mile drive with two kiddos. In 2009, we visited nearly every month, so we decided last February to get annual passes for our family (it was the boys' bday gifts and a gift to ourselves for being awesome parents..ahem...).

So we went to Disneyland and DCA a lot. We still have one trip left, hopefully, but I wanted to share some of the holiday photos and decorations from November and December with you. If you haven't gone during Christmas, you must. It's so beautiful! Of course, I would advise somewhere around the first week of December or exactly December 23rd if you want to avoid massive crowds (which we did not).

I hope your week is going well. Have a great weekend.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Little Monkeys

Hello Sweet Readers!
During our Christmas vacation in Southern California, we had some wonderful weather. And my boys had a wonderful time. They love visiting family and playing in Grandma's incredible boy-worthy backyard. They love their Auntie Ellen, their cousin Anthony and the rest of the great family they are so blessed to have.

They discovered they can climb the big Jacaranda tree in Grandma's front yard. How fun for them. They loved every minute.I love my little monkeys.
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Salsa Samplings from Someone Special - They Could be Yours, too!

Hello Sweet Readers!

I have something savory for you today :)

One of my brothers is an amazing cook and will likely be the chef and owner of his own amazing gourmet restaurant someday. At least I really hope so. He is very talented at what he does and can make amazingly delicious food almost by thinking it. He has a real talent for making up fantastic recipes and he aims to please! Unfortunately, he lives in Southern California so I don't often get to partake of his creations.

However, since I was there for Christmas, he graced us with some of his yummy salsa! While he goes on with life before opening his dream restaurant, he is selling yummy, fantastic, homemade salsas. And that is what is pictured above. The red salsa is made with vine-ripened and fire roasted tomatoes and double roasted peppers

The green salsa is made with garlic roasted tomatillos, Jalapeno and Serrano peppers. Beautiful, huh! Soo yummy! Just thought I'd share in case you lived in Orange County and wanted to give it a try. He is making all different varieties, so I encourage you to try them if you get a chance.

If you'd like to get in on some of this masterpiece, email Mike @ FreshTomatoes3@gmail.com.

Have a great week!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Sweet Readers!

I hope you are enjoying a relaxing and wonderful New Year's weekend! I wish you all much joy this year. May your blessings be bountiful and your relationships rich and meaningful. May God bless you beyond your dreams...

I wanted to ring in the new year sharing with you some of my closest friends. These ladies are dear to me and I love being with them. They all graciously took me out for my birthday dinner and I was so blessed by the company, food and perfect gifts.

They are all beautiful, generous and thoughtful, and I am a very lucky lady to have them in my life! This time of year is makes me so thoughtful and prayerful about the blessings and challenges in my life. God is so good and it's a wonderful time to reflect on it.


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