Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flowerpot Cupcakes



Click on any photo to enlarge.



My friend Becky has a birthday today (Happy Birthday, Becky!), so I wanted to make her something special . . . and I'm on a baking kick. I had seen pictures of flower cupcakes before (several varieties), so I wasn't sure what would work best, but I wanted to fill a flowerpot with cupcakes.

So I went to Michaels, found a flower pot, and found a piece of foam to fit inside (though I had to trim it a bit to make it fit). Because I wanted the surface to curve like real flowers would, I placed a second circle of foam atop the first. I wrapped the foam in green tissue paper and left some around the edges of the pot so at the end I could pull the papers upward and surround the cupcakes just as if they were real flowers.

Note: the craft store had zillions of Easter baskets which would have been cute with cupcakes, too!

I knew I had far too many cupcakes to fit in a flower pot, so I iced some of them in a rose pattern with some light blue buttercream icing. Becky's husband requested cream cheese frosting when I called to talk to him, and I discovered that cream cheese icing doesn't "pipe." LOL! It's good, but it's not stiff enough to stay in a piping design.

So I did make some cupcakes with cream cheese icing, and instead of forming the flowers with icing, I formed them with marshmallows. (The idea came from a great book called HELLO, CUPCAKE.) You take a mini-marshmallow, slice it in half diagonally, and drag the cut edge (it will be sticky) through colored sugar. I propped the sugared marshmallows in the icing and made rows around the cupcake. The "stamens" in the center are candy-covered sunflower seeds. The few green leaves you see in the final photo are cut out of fruit roll-ups (I had to eat through an entire box to find the green ones!) LOL!

I had seen another adorable flower made out of Oreos and made to look like sunflowers, but I'll have to wait for a buttercream icing project to attempt that version.

After letting the flowers chill in the fridge for about an hour (to set the icing), I put toothpicks in the styrofoam, and then placed my cupcakes on the toothpicks. I delivered the buttercream cupcakes in a basket and just managed to deliver them before a rainstorm broke over my head. :-)

What fun! I only hope Becky has as much fun eating them as I did making them!

~~Angie

OOOOH---just had another brainstorm. Do white cupcakes on a foam circle covered with paper doilies--insert a handle--and you could have bridal bouquet cupcakes! Who's having a bridal shower?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Share it with a Sister Video Nine!



Can you believe the month of March is nearly over? And the "Share it With a Sister" contest is still going strong! Don't forget to enter every day! Just send an email to aehcontest(at)gmail.com.

~~Angie

Monday, March 28, 2011

OOo la la ! What a mouse!



This is enough to set my gadget girl's heart to fluttering . . .

~~Angie

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Aquarium Wowser



Okay, you practitioners of legedermain--how'd he do it?

~~Angie

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tears

Infographic Crying from SuprNova.org on Vimeo.



I found this fascinating. I had no idea men and women cried differently . . .

~~Angie

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who done it?



I have to admit, I feel sorry for this very guilty dog. Very cute video!

~~Angie

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alton Gansky and Angela Hunt talk about writing



My friend Al asked me to join him in a Skype interview last week, so we spent a little time together. Enjoy the chat!

~~Angie

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dog Gives Birth to Human Child in South Africa!


Now that I have your attention, I'm about to deliver your weird story of the day.

Yesterday--in which I wrote 6,000 words, walked on the treadmill for an hour, AND baked a banana custard cream pie from scratch--I also did a lot of research on dogs and pregnancy and canine births. Yes, there are puppies in the work in progress.

I learned about water puppies, and this was new to me. The technical name is anasarca, or "walrus" puppies, and it's most common among those breeds with pushed-in noses (pugs, bulldogs, etc.)

Apparently (and this is rare, but it happens), one or two puppies can become filled with water so that they bloat in the womb and can barely fit through the birth canal. Once the umbilical cord is clipped, these puppies must be "drained" of all that water or they will literally drown. Though some of them die at birth, other water puppies have been saved by careful and attentive midwives.

The photo is real, and it's not a human child--it's a water puppy in an otherwise normal litter. (Notice that it has a tail!) It was born in South Africa, and the paper really did proclaim that a dog had given birth to a human child. (Shaking head here).

If you don't find this fascinating, well, now you've learned something new today. If you want to know more, check out this website, written by an experienced canine midwife.

~~Angie

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Brief check-in


Going to be brief today--have much to do!

Spent yesterday with the "senior saints" of our church--had a great time! We just spent a relaxing time doing a Q&A--they asked questions and I answered! I love the wisdom and fun those folks are so willing to share.

Hard at work on a new project now called "Five Miles South of Peculiar." The title was born when I made it up and mentioned it in a book--I think I had a character reading it--and heaven help me, I can't remember which book it was.

But then a reader wrote me and said, "I can't find 'Five Miles South of Peculiar' anywhere! Is it a real book?" I wrote her back and said no, it wasn't, but now it soon will be! :-)

Several of you have asked about 'the train story'--that one has been sent back to the drawing board and placed on temporary hiatus. I'm going to go back and work on it some more, but I need to get some emotional distance before I jump in again.

So--I need to jump back into my work, so I'm going to have to lay off the aprons and cupcaking for a while, as much as I've enjoyed them. But never fear--the new book will have both aprons and cupcakes in it! (And maybe even a recipe or two!)

Have a lovely day!

~~Angie

Monday, March 21, 2011

Share It With a Sister Video #8



Here's another collection of lovely sisters. Enjoy, and don't forget to keep sending in your entries for the "Share It With a Sister Contest." You can enter every day!

Spread the word. Someone out there would LOVE to win copies of "The Fine Art of Insincerity" for their book club!

~~Angie

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Traditional Wedding Dance

We've all seen those videos of modern couples who choreograph their attendants' procession down the aisle. Now here's a bride who thought outside the box when it came to the traditional father-daughter dance. But as new and modern and fun as it is, it still made me cry. :-)

Enjoy!

~~Angie

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Puppy Love



To warm your heart on this lovely Saturday . . .

~~Angie

Friday, March 18, 2011

What an amazing fur coat.

So I'm on a baking kick, and every day after I finish my writing quota (I'm on schedule! Yea!), I got into the kitchen and bake something. Trouble is, I'm running out of room in my freezer, so I'd better stop baking and move on to something else.

Anyway, I received this link in the mail tonight, and I watched the video after I'd finished my baking. I was feeling tired, and after the "punch line" of this video, all I could do was gape at the computer screen like a zombie. Amazing, and I have no idea how it was done. I think even if I hadn't been brain dead I would still have no idea how it was done.

So . . . enjoy! And if you can figure it out, let me know!

~~Angie


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith


If you like biblical fiction, here's a book for you!

Can love triumph over treachery?

Bathsheba is a woman who longs for love. With her husband away fighting the king’s wars, she battles encroaching loneliness–making it frighteningly easy to succumb to the advances of King David. Will one night of unbridled passion destroy everything she holds dear? Can she find forgiveness at the feet of the Almighty? Or has her sin separated her from God—and David—forever?

With a historian’s sharp eye for detail and a novelist’s creative spirit, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the passionate and emotional story of David’s most famous—and infamous—wife. You will never read the story of David and Bathsheba in the same way again.

“Thoroughly engrossing. Jill Eileen Smith receives my highest recommendation as an author of biblical fiction.”—Kim Vogel Sawyer, award-winning author of My Heart Remembers

Bathsheba is Jill Eileen Smith’s finest work to date. It vividly portrays the devastation caused by selfish passion and betrayal, and the incredible blessing of repentance and restoration through God’s grace.”—Jill Stengl, award-winning author of Wisconsin Brides

“This well-researched and beautifully crafted story will resonate in your heart and mind long after you’ve read the final page. An excellent read with a message that transcends time.”—Judith Miller, author of the Daughters of Amana series


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Turtle on its Back--no wait, that's a puppy!

You've all heard that a turtle on its back will have a hard time getting up again? Well, so, apparently, do bulldog puppies. Take a look:




Enjoy!

~~Angie

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Apron Update

I'm still sewing aprons . . . and I've figured out what to do with them. I'm working on a book right now that has aprons in it--as a metaphor--and when it comes time to launch the book, I'll have a contest and give aprons away! :-) How that for putting a creative urge to good use?

Anyway, this little movie is silly, but instead of showing you a bunch of pictures, I thought I'd make it a little more interesting.

Enjoy!

Angie
video

Monday, March 14, 2011

Share it with a Sister Video #7



I'm still loving these pictures! Don't forget to enter every day!

~~Angie

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unforgetable by Trish Perry


A little about Unforgettable:


Rachel Stanhope tries to see the good in everyone. But even her good graces are challenged when she meets Josh Reegan outside her Arlington, Virginia dance studio on a brisk fall morning in 1951. Admittedly, he’s attractive, but she finds his cynicism and cockiness hard to tolerate.


A hard-news journalist and former World War II Air Force pilot, Josh considers distractions like ballroom dancing frivolous wastes of time. He has yet to shed his wartime drive to defend good against evil whenever he can. Yes, Rachel’s confident nature is a refreshing challenge, but he wouldn’t tangle with her if his newspaper hadn’t roped him into covering one of her studio’s competitions in New York City.


Between Arlington and New York, between the melodrama of ballroom antics and the real drama of political corruption, between family involvement and romantic entanglement, Rachel and Josh have their hands full. The last thing either of them expects is mutual need and support. But once they stop dancing around the truth, the results are unforgettable.



A little about Trish:


Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written eight inspirational romances for Harvest House Publishers, Summerside Press, and Barbour Publishing, as well as two devotionals for Summerside Press. She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She holds a degree in Psychology.


Trish’s latest novel, Unforgettable, releases in March, and Tea for Two releases in April. She invites you to visit her at www.TrishPerry.com








Adventures with Angie OR How I Learned to make Custard

Photos: scrambled vanilla eggs, anyone?

Custard!

Okay--my cupcake fixation has led to many hours of watching any TV show with cupcakes in it, and this practice has led to a fixation and fascination with Buddy Valastro and Cake Boss. (Wouldn't you love to have an Italian family that works together and eats together all the time?) Anyway--I ordered Buddy's delightful book and after cleaning the house on Saturday, I took off to the grocery store to stock up on cake flour, eggs, butter (lots!), and confectioner's sugar.

But before I started one of Buddy's cakes (the book has recipes!), I wanted to try an ice cream recipe that I found on epicurious.com. I have an ice cream maker that I hardly ever use, so I thought I could make some ice cream and freeze it for a day when I'm NOT on a diet. Then, while the ice cream churned away, I'd start Buddy's carrot cake because that's my favorite kind of cake in all the world.

Well . . . the ice cream recipe called for only a few things: whipping cream, whole milk, sugar, eight, count 'em, EIGHT egg yolks, and a teeny bit of Frangelico. Oh--and an entire vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise.

Had to go to two stores before I found a vanilla bean, and I almost didn't buy them--TWO beans in a jar cost $9.99. Ten bucks! Five bucks a bean!

But because I was in a gourmet mood and feeling pretty invincible because I've been watching so many hours of Buddy and Company, I bought the beans.

Came home and put on one of my new aprons (I'm still making them!), then poured the cream, milk, sugar, and bean into a saucepan and began to heat and stir. I have to admit, it was pretty cool to see little black flecks appear in the mix--the bits of the vanilla bean you often see in really good vanilla ice cream. Then I whipped the eight egg yolks together. I was supposed to next pour the egg whites into the milk and vanilla mixture, while not letting it boil.

I have a gas stove, so I thought if I kept stirring and kept an eye on the flame, I could keep it from boiling. So I'm stirring and stirring and suddenly, a bubble--Eeek! I quickly lower the flame, but suddenly--I mean really, all of a sudden, I find myself staring little bits of scrambled egg with vanilla flakes all through it.

Sigh. I had a sinking feeling, but I persevered. I strained the mix, following the direction, and ended up with a small bowlful of watery whey, and a big bowlful of very sweet, very spotted scrambled eggs. (I tasted them. If I hadn't been on a diet, I might have eaten them all.)

I realized all hope was lost and set the eggs aside for my dogs.

On to Buddy's cake.

He gives good directions, but I see right away that an OPTIONAL ingredient is a vanilla custard cream. I consider doing without it--especially when I see that the steps to making the custard creme are almost EXACTLY like making the ice cream-with-the-five-dollar-bean I just ruined, but I'm determined to make this like Buddy would.

So I stir in the milk and the cream and the sugar and vanilla extract (Buddy saves me a bundle of cash by not asking for the vanilla bean), and I whip the egg yolks--five of 'em--in a separate bowl, then I have to pour the eggs into the milk mixture. This time I'm so paranoid about getting the mix so hot that it scrambles the eggs that I turn the flame WAY down low, practically off.

Buddy says to beat the mix on the stove for a minute, so I do. The mix is supposed to be thick and creamy, and mine is like yellow soup. Not working. I try to convince myself that my soup looks like cream, but then I have to get real and admit that it's not. So I turn up the heat, pray, and beat for another minute, and YES! The froth disappears, the mixture thickens, and it's CREAM! I quickly turn off the flame and beat in the butter.

THANK YOU, BUDDY, FOR TEACHING ME HOW TO MAKE CUSTARD!

The rest of the recipe was fairly standard: I added carrots, sugar, cake flour, spices, the custard, walnuts, raisins, etc., and after baking I placed two cakes into the freezer--I'll defrost and frost them when I need a dessert for my book club or something.

So now I won't faint if I have to make a custard. Now, if he can only teach me how to melt chocolate without burning it . . .

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Share it with a Sister Video Number Six



Aren't these faces beautiful? I love these photos!

~~Angie

Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Dogs; Gentle Giants


You probably know I love big dogs--the bigger, the better. Someone collected a slide show of big dog breeds, and I love 'em all. I could add a few to the bunch--French mastiffs (think Hooch from Turner and Hooch) and Leonbergers--but this is a pretty good collection.


Photo: Babe and her basketball. :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Grab a tissue . . .

The Miraculous Rescue of CiCi from Laura Brody, CPDT on Vimeo.



So sweet. Such a wonderful story.

Sniff.

~~Angie

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Share it with a Sister Video #5!



For some reason, the music isn't playing on this one. So put on your own tunes, settle back, and enjoy the celebration of sisters!

~~Angie

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Cupcake Adventures





Click on any photo to enlarge.

Yes, in case you're wondering, I do plan to include cupcakes in my WIP. :-) Something useful has to come out of all this!

This month my book club is meeting to discuss a novel called "Little Bee." (It's a good read, BTW). So I decided to create "bee" cupcakes for them.

Now--please keep in mind that I am a rank beginner, my piping is loopy, and my icing isn't always of the best consistency. If it's too thin, piped ridges don't stand up. If it's too thick, piped lines have a tendency to break. So I'm always searching for the perfect combination.

Anyway, I took photos so these directions will make sense.

First I baked chocolate cupcakes with a Rollo in the center of each. We'll get fancy and call these chocolate caramel cupcakes.

When they had cooled, I made buttercream icing and divided it into four colors: a wee bit of yellow and black; generous amounts of blue and pink. I then stood my piping bag up in a vase so I could fill it with icing.

Using a flower tip (#125, if you want to know), I created flowers on the top of each cupcake. My icing was a little thin--a little more powdered sugar would have helped them to have more definite "petals."

Next, I piped a little dot of black onto each cupcake in order to "glue" a black jelly bean, the body of my bee. I also piped a little black head and a wee little black tail. Two sliced almonds created the wings.

Then I piped three yellow lines across the back of each bee. Ta da! A hive of bees has invaded my flowery cupcakes!

I only hope they'll hold up until my book club ladies arrive. :-/

Enjoy!

~~Angie

Monday, March 07, 2011

Aprons, Aprons, Aprons . . .




Photos: two of my weekend creations.



It all started when Nolie (one of my characters) stepped out of her garden and stood still so I could describe her. She was wearing brown shoes, ankle socks, a long, shapeless dress, and one of those old-fashioned long aprons that you slip over your head--they're usually made in a tiny floral pattern and trimmed in matching bias tape or fabric.

But I couldn't figure out what to call those types of apron, so before beginning a Google search, I posed the question on Facebook.

Before I knew it, I had lots of facebook friends chiming in. Was it a smock apron? No, those usually close in the front. A pinafore? No, those tie with a bow. A bib apron? No, that's any apron with a bib.

The best term I could come up with was an over-the-head apron, but while I was finding that bit of description, I was becoming fascinated by aprons. Seems they're coming back in style--we women left them behind when we entered the work force, and few people wear them any more, though antique or "vintage" aprons are in demand, as are vintage patterns for aprons.

I used to sew a LOT--used to make my clothes until it became cheaper to buy them than to sew them (around here, anyway--we have a lot of discount stores). Anyway, before I knew it I had ordered two apron patterns, and on Friday night I found myself at the fabric store, excited by the idea of sewing again. That night I made one short apron, and on Saturday I made two more. I was thinking they'd make great gifts . . .

I've also ordered books on aprons from Amazon and can't wait to look through them. There's something about an apron that's vaguely political. In fact, one facebook friend said her inner feminist wouldn't let her wear an apron, and I understand that--no one wants to be thought of as the "little woman" who does nothing but wear nice dresses and stay around the house all day. Even stay at home moms today do a lot more than that!

But to me, an apron is simply a way of protecting my clothes on those rare occasions when I bake or cook something. When you're sifting flour and mixing up ingredients, you can easily be spattered, so an apron might come in handy . . .

Plus, I found fabric in a cupcake pattern--several bolts, in fact, but I only bought one. :-) (Such restraint!) And the aprons I made this past weekend were entirely from fabric I had in my scrap bin. That's the good thing about an apron. It doesn't take a lot to make something nice.

Do you wear an apron? Did your mother? Would you wear one now?

~~Angie

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Share It With a Sister Video #4!



And the good times keep on rollin! :-)

~~Angie

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Share It With a Sister Video #3!



Here's the third wonderful crop of sisters! Enjoy--you might see your smiling face!

~~Angie

Friday, March 04, 2011

Tom Hanks re: Toddlers and tiaras



First, a tip of the hat and many thanks to Robin Lee Hatcher for bringing this video to my attention.

If you've ever watched Toddlers and Tiaras on TV (I think it's on TLC), you'll understand immediately that Tom Hanks and his daughter are doing a parody of the show--and yes, the parents and kids are depicted exactly like that. I've watched the show before, and I'm usually open-mouthed with amazement at the hissy fits and little girls matter-of-factly stating, "I'm the most beautifulest girl in the room, so if I don't win, I'll be MAD." Not all the parents and kids are over the top, of course, but a lot of them are. While I was baking cupcakes the other day I had the show on, and a mom kept saying that her purpose in having a daughter was to have a future Miss America--and she was serious. She was spending thousands of dollars to get her BABY on the pageant track.

I support pageants for older girls and women. But for little girls with false teeth and spray-on tans? What kind of messages are we sending?

Anyway, I thought this parody was wickedly funny. Enjoy!

~~Angie

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Sing like no one's listening . . .

I love this video--the idea that this dog would accompany himself is terrific.

Have a melodious day, and thanks for all the sister photos. I'm enjoying them!

~~Angie

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Share it With a Sister Video #2!



I had planned to wait a week before posting some of these pictures, but I was so delighted by the sister photos that are coming in that I decided to put out another video immediately! These are wonderful pictures--keep 'em coming!

~~Angie