Cupcake Project – Box of Chocolates

Sorry for the delay – It’s been over a week since I actually made these! But I will tell you, already, that I want to do this one again – in February when all the great Valentines day candies are out! It will be so much better!

This project is: Box of Chocolates! Here is the pic from the book.
This is the first time I’ve made Chocolate Cupcakes for the project. Gotta tell ya – it’s a welcome change from all that vanilla! And this project is also of the “Mini” kind. I love working with Mini cupcakes! They are so fun and have so much potential to be something creative. And they are so cute!
Like I said earlier – I need to do this project again near Valentines day. The candies I had available to me weren’t all that fabulous. Not a lot of reds or pinks. Kind of had to go scrounging, and it left a lot of other candies left over. But we were able to bring back the runts left over from “TV Dinner” night. The Pink Hearts were PERFECT!
I covered all of the cupcakes I could (there were several left over) with chocolate fudge frosting (yum!) and each “chocolate” was supposed to look different. Some of them had Hershey’s kisses on top, some had peppermint circles, others had flowers made out of Smarties, and some even had actual pieces of chocolate (Snickers/Milky Way/3 Musketeers in bite size) on top. I decorated the chocolates with a thin drizzle of vanilla frosting (you know, how See’s Candies does on their chocolates) and voila! I had “chocolates” to go in my box! (Oh, and excuse my scruffy look – I’d just gotten home from my Pilates Class – don’t worry! I washed my hands before baking!)
Now… Also because it isn’t around Valentines Day, “Chocolate Heart Boxes” were pretty scarce, so I improvised. I took some crinkled up tissue paper and placed that in my Cupcake garage. I placed all the little “Chocolates” in the “box” and put on the lid!

TaDa!
Elissa took the mini’s to Family Game night for the cousins all to enjoy. Ant and I would have brought them ourselves but we were on a plane to NorCal! Hope the gang enjoyed this week’s creation!!!

Next Project (and it may be a week or two before I actually accomplish it) is rather daunting: Van Gogh’s famous painting “Starry Night” in Cupcakes. Yikes!!! But it is the last project in chapter one, and from here on out, I can do them in any order I want! Woot! Wish me luck!!!

-Jen

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Blog Stalker to Blog Slacker!

I know, I know, I know –

I’m slacking. It’s been more than 2 weeks since I’ve posted. Sorry peeps – been a little busy!!

So I did another round of cupcakes (blog to come tomorrow! Promise!) and then Ant and I went on a little vacy to NorCal to visit Ant’s parents and go to the Annual Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival (Also, blog to come tomorrow!)

I had all the good intentions of blogging right away, but then – blah – I got sick this week. Fever of 100 Degrees, sore throat, the works! It’s been loads of fun, let me tell ya! But I’m on the up and up again, and just had to post this one thing:On Sept. 12th, We did a Family Photo Shoot with Bri (Who else? She’s my forever photographer, not to mention good friend from HS!) and we just got some of the photos back from her blog. She did it again! She managed to capture all these great smiles and faces that we make every day together. She isn’t afraid to get down in the dirt to get the shot she wants, and she delivers images that will blow you away, not just because they look cool, but because you can actually see the love. I’m amazed.

Ok seriously, Bri – I cried, my mom cried, my sister cried, and both Dad and Ant laughed. Which is the best reaction to get out of them anyway, so good job.

BUT SERIOUSLY PEOPLE – You should call her. ok, I know. I love her, and so I’m biased and think that everyone else should love her too. But honestly – I’ve never come across another photographer out there who takes the time and care that she does. If you need family pictures done, or a wedding photographer, or head shots, or school portraits, or ANYTHING WITH A CAMERA you need to call her.

Go Ahead. Call her. I’ll wait.

Did you call her? Good. Now that that is settled, I can rest easy. Honestly, I’m not just talking here. And she didn’t put me up to this. Anthony and I LOVE our wedding photos. I have a book full of our engagement photos and it took me and Anthony 3 whole days to pick just one to be the “official” photo. We couldn’t decide because we loved so many of them. I’m so relieved I’m not the one laying out the design for the Wedding album – otherwise it would have over 1000 photos in it (literally!). I have head shots of my sister, we have these awesome family shots, Ant’s side of the family is starting to do photos with her too, so we have those, and I’ve recommended her to about 4 or 5 Brides I know with absolute confidence. Bri is not only an Amazing Photographer, she is an amazing person. And when she’d done with the photos, she goes and blogs about how wonderful and amazing the people/families she shoots are (Myself included), so I wanted to take a second to rave about her.

Bri – You’ve been so wonderful to all of us. You’ve been professional, fun & easy to work with, charming, passionate about what you do, and the best part is that I’ve NEVER seen you work coming anywhere but from the heart. You capture moments rather than images. You make people laugh and you bring out the best in them and you capture it. You make us look good!!!! You find those smiles that JC Penny’s will NEVER be able to get, I don’t care how great their studio package deal is. You will be taking my family’s pictures for years and years to come, and I will recommend you to anyone who will listen. You are more than a photographer – you are a great friend and I cherish having you back in my life.

If you haven’t yet, people – check this lady out!

Website: http://www.briennemichelle.com
Blog: http://www.brienne.net

Ok, one more because I love it.

Full post of all of my favorites to come soon.
-Jen

Seriously people – CALL HER!

Cupcake Project – TV Dinner & Spaghetti Dinner!

WARNING!!! MEGA LONG POST AHEAD!
(Stick with me here, people – I promise it will be worth it!)

So, for the most part, I thought I would be taking on this cupcake journey solo. Immediately I realized that wasn’t true, since Anthony has been with me every step of the way. But what I wasn’t ready for was all the people wanting to join in! It’s so neat to have people thinking that what I’m doing is cool.

With that said, this week’s project is different in 2 major ways. First – It isn’t just the normal 1 project/2-page spread that I’ve dealt with so far. It was 6 pages!!!! 2 Projects! That is 4 pages of instructions for the TV Dinner project, and the normal 2-page spread for the Spaghetti Dinner. (Don’t worry – it is super large font and has pictures!). Second big difference – I was not alone!

Meet Beckie:
Beckie is one of my best friends in the whole world. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding and she was Matron of Honor in mine. We’ve been friends for over 7 years now, and she’s been one of the greatest roommates I’ve ever had! And she was the first to volunteer to help me out with my project. We had so much fun!

We started out with teaching Beckie all the new techniques that the book taught me (because that is a rule! We follow the book, even when it leads us down an unsure path!) and got baking!

Our first project was TV Dinner. Here is what it looks like from the book:

We took it in turns and did the “peas & carrots” first. Beckie made the frosting green, and we added green runts and orange runts. It looked cool! Then came the potatoes! Mashed, to be precise. Vanilla frosting (over frosted, really) with a yellow starburst (circa Corn on the Cob) for butter, and caramel sauce to look like gravy.
Then came… the chicken bones. *WARNING* At least a P-G13 RATING for the next paragraph or so…
So the book innocently says “Trace this out on wax paper, then fill in the outlines with melted white chocolate.” Ok – so. We did that. And when you fill it out with the chocolate, it ends up looking a little… ummmm… phallic. No getting around it:Of course, jokes ensued, and we giggled a lot. But it turns out that is what they are supposed to look like! Because when put into the tops of cupcakes covered in frosting and Special K crumbs, it actually looks like a fried chicken leg! Add one last cupcake covered in chocolate frosting and jimmies (or sprinkles, or 100,000’s, or nonpareils – take your pick) to look like a chocolate pudding dessert, and voila! TV Dinner!

We had a lot of fun!
Then, we got right to work again, this time on our Spaghetti Dinner! (Obviously, it was the night of entrees). And I had the perfect Pasta Bowl my mom gave me a few years back to display our masterpiece. We put the rest of the cupcakes from the batch into the bowl. Then the instructions said to add cocoa powder and yellow food coloring to the frosting to make it “brownish-yellow” for the pasta. We were skeptical – not gonna lie. We thought it was going to look like mud.
But once again, I was taught to trust the book. It looked great! We covered the cupcakes in a thin layer of frosting and all three of us (Anthony joined in too!) had at it! It was so much fun to just be messy with frosting! We squeezed the whole bag out over the cupcakes through a tiny little hole and it really looked like Pasta!



Beckie added the “Meatballs and Sauce” which are Ferrier Roche chocolates and strawberry preserves. It looks pretty realistic. And smells so good! That really is a lot of frosting!

Thanks, Beckie, for coming over and helping me with my project! It was so much fun. Can’t wait to do it again!
Next week – “Box of Chocolates.” Oh – and if you are interested in helping me, come on over and claim a page in the book! Miranda called dibs on the “Owls” project, and Alyse called dibs on about 4 projects (don’t worry – there are still a ton of projects left untagged) and I’m looking forward to all the help! I’m loving this project.

-Jen

Charming Pet Products

Hi All!

I’m blogging from work (have a little down time at the moment) and wanted to give you all a little update on my new home away from home.

It’s been great. I’ve been here for a few weeks (already got my second pay check! Woot!) and have settled in nicely. I love my hours (although Anthony HATES them because they are so much better than his!). I start every morning between 9am and 9:30am, and leave around 5pm. I get to go home for lunch every day because we live about 10 minutes away, and I bring Pup to work on a pretty regular basis. It’s pretty sweet!

I’ve never had a 35 hour work week before (I’m used to 45-50 with most of my past jobs!) so this is a really nice (and in my opinion well deserved) change. Don’t get me wrong – I may only work 7 hours a day, but this is the first job I’ve had in a LONG time where I work all 7 hours (minus 15 minutes every now and again for things like blogging!) My down time here is really limited. This fact makes the day go by SO fast. I love it. There is always something to do. I could finish 100% of my To Do List for the day, and it wouldn’t matter – There is still a ton to get done.

They now have trained me enough to take over the customer service phone – always fun and interesting – plus I do half the orders on a daily basis and most of our in-house shipping. Plus I manage the office (Duh – I’m “Office Manager”) so I’m in charge of all the filing and the phones, and the mail, and all that “stuff” that has to get done. No clue how my boss, Christine, was doing it all by herself. Literally, I took half of her job off of her plate and she is still up to her ears in work! Hence why there is so little down time around here.

The other half of my job is working with Christine’s Husband, Nick. He is our Marketing Department, Design Guru, and all around “Idea Guy.” I work with him on up-to-date marketing techniques to help the business grow. I’ve also helped out on a couple of toy designs and hope I’ll get the chance to design my own toy one day! How cool would that be? And part of working with Nick means doing a lot of work for our trade shows (we start this coming weekend with 6 of them back-to back! It’s going to be crazy!). I’ve been helping with our booths and designing an easier set for our out of state Reps so they are more likely to follow through on the look. I even hopped into AI (Adobe Illustrator for the readers not in the trade) and did some design work and had header boards made for all of our floor displays! It was cool to get the final product back knowing I designed them! I’m so used to taking other’ people’s ideas and making them realities, so it was a big step to start with a blank canvas and make something new. I know I’ll get to do it again with this company, and that sparks a whole lot of motivation and imagination for me.

I’m starting to ramble on – thanks for getting to this point, if you are still reading! I’m really enjoying my job. It’s keeping me busy and the versatility is keeping me challenged. I’m pleased about that. But the greatest piece of the pie is that they (my bosses) wholeheartedly believe in me. They know (as I continue to prove it) that they can ask for something, on top of everything I already have going, and know that it is still going to get done, and BEFORE they feel the need to ask for it again. I have no one breathing down my neck, or checking over my shoulder. And as the days go by, they feel less and less of a need to “check” my work for errors, as I’m making less and less of them as I go. It’s a great feeling to be needed and to know that I was hired to do a job they know I can do. Things are looking good on the Pet Toy front! I promise to do a blog if I get the chance to design a toy!

-Jen

Anthony’s Birthday

This past week, Anthony turned 24!

Birthdays are always special for the two of us. We always do something nice for each other like breakfast or a gift we’ve really been wanting… oh, and let’s not forget that Anthony proposed on my Birthday! But usually, it is something simple. This year, however, seeing as how this was his first birthday as my husband, I wanted to make sure he knew just how special he is. So I did a little more than normal this time around.
First, I arranged a dinner for him at his favorite restaurant. When we lived in NorCal, we discovered this burger joint called “The Counter.” We LOVED it. Such amazing food. And we were sad when we moved back down to SoCal, knowing we wouldn’t be able to go there all the time. But then, we found out that one had opened here! In Westlake! So for his Birthday, the dinner venue was an easy choice! His siblings and a few close friends came to eat with us. It was a lot of fun! And of course, Anthony is always happy to see our niece, Laila.
In addition to dinner, I invited a few friends that Anthony didn’t know about. His good friend and college roommate, Ritchie, came out for the evening to be with us. He showed up at the house to suprise Anthony and got a few rounds of Wii games in before dinner. And our good friends, TC and Jane were secretly invited too! They couldn’t make it to dinner, but they drove out later that evening (bless them) just to hang out for 2 hours and then go back home. We have such good friends!
Ant’s Birthday continued on Saturday with my parents – Our family tradition is that the Birthday Person gets to choose what is on the menu for dinner. Ant chose Poppi’s Ribs! Sooooo good! And that was followed by Family Game Night. My parents bought him Wii Resort Sports for his birthday and he was exstatic! He’s been wanting that game for weeks! And we stayed and played the game with my parents until 1 in the morning! Always good times.
And lastly, I bought Anthony the final book (DVD collection) to the Avatar Series – something he’s been waitng so patiently for – and you should have seen how happy he was! That is the best feeling, when something so simple makes him so happy! And he knows that I’m paying attention to things that are important to him.All and All, his birthday was a total success and we had a great time. Cheers, Anthony! Happy Birthday!

-Jen

Blog Stalker Update

I’m amazed.

Seriously, people! I thought maybe, MAYBE, 5 people read my blog. Turns out more than 15 people read my blog! Including my husband! I didn’t know he read it!

So, 12 comments on my actual blog, 3 comments on my facebook, and at least 3 others that I know of that haven’t commented and that is 18 people! Holy cow!

I can’t tell you what it means to me to know that people are following me. It actually works as a TOTAL motivator to continue on with the writing, as well as completing all of my projects. It’s like someone out there is holding me accountable. It’s awesome.

So Thanks to everyone who commented. I appreciate it. And I’m so happy to have a few new people to Blog stalk, and even happier to find that my blog has acted as inspiration for a few other people’s blog. That is an amazing feeling, and I’m so blessed to have wonderful people in my life.

Bri – you are gonna have to show me this Google Analytics thing you speak of. I want to know!

Mary – don’t worry about adding me to your blog – I facebook stalk you, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

To everyone else out there reading – THANK YOU! This is such a cool feeling.

-Jen

Blog Experiment

Ok, so I’ll admit it. I’m a Blog Stalker.

Yup – you heard me. If we’ve ever met, and I know you have a blog, I read it. I read all of it. I look at every line, every photo, every comment made. I’m what my husband lovingly calls a “Space Invader” – you know, like the game? He’s clever like that.

Anywho – back to blog stalking. Through my friend, Bri, I learned about “Google Reader.” If you have gmail, or a google account, you can get Google Reader. You type in someone’s blog address, and the darn thing alerts you whenever anyone in your list updates their blog. And I mean, whenever – 24/7 ability to stalk other bloggers. It updates almost instantly after someone hits “publish.” So I check my reader at least once (but more like 3-5 times) a day to see who’s been online. And I read them all. I know all about who Bri has been photographing mere minutes after she posts. I know what my friend Brenna is up to out in Ohio. I know what photos my friend Amy has been taking on her latest photo journalism adventure. I read my mom’s stuff, Sandy’s stuff, I even read the blog belonging to the cupcake book that inspired my cupcake project!

So then, that got me wondering. If I read that many blogs, who’s reading mine? I have no clue. Besides Beckie, who’s got me set up on her Iphone, and my mom because she thinks I’m cooler than I actually am, I have no idea who reads my babble (like, at all, let alone on a regular basis). I know Mary and Amy have read at least one because they commented, but I don’t know if they’ve been back. (P.S. Mary – If you are reading this, I can’t read your blog – it’s private, which is good! So Can you add me please?)

So here is my experiment: Leave a comment on this one. If you read my blog, or have ever read my blog, leave a comment (saying ANYTHING) on this one. I’m just curious. And YES BECKIE – THAT MEANS YOU TOO! Ms. “I read it all but never comment.” ๐Ÿ™‚ I love you!

And if you read this blog and you think I might not have your blog set up in my reader, leave your blog address. I’ll start stalking you, too. Promise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks guys!!! Cheers to all the other Blog Stalkers out there!
-Jen