Friday, October 29

{this moment}

{this moment} - Inspired by SouleMama. A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Have a fun, safe Halloween weekend!

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Thursday, October 28


I honestly don't have anything exciting to say in this post, it's really just a lot of pictures and at the end I will give you a recipe for my favorite roasted pumpkin seeds. 

I will say this: we got our pumpkins from the Nashville Farmer's Market, where they had an excellent selection and the prices were all very reasonable compared to prices I have seen elsewhere around the city. We carved these pumpkins while my parents were visiting, but Curt's has since died (aka rotted from the middle out), so we got a couple more pumpkins from the market, which we have yet to carve. That will probably happen Saturday before Halloween. 

And now for your viewing pleasure, our pumpkin carving on a most pleasant October day:

{the leaves were just starting to change and fall around here}


{perfect fall combo = pumpkins, seeds, leaves, and cider!}


{Curt's pumpkin}

{my pumpkin}

{welcome crew}

{my favorite thing about fall}

Would you like to make your own seasoned pumpkin seeds? 

{they go great with a sandwich, or just as a snack!}

The recipe is per pumpkin, so since we had two pumpkins, we doubled the recipe. Make sense? 

Preheat oven to 250 F.
Separate your seeds from the guts and rinse them off. Pat dry.

Now make the seasoning:
-1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
-1+1/2 Tbsp melted butter
-1+1/2 tsp season salt (we use Lawry's)

Mix it all together well, then pour over seeds. Stir it together until all the seeds are coated. Spread them on a cookie sheet or two so they are in a single layer. 

Bake them for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure even coating and roasting. Your time may vary depending on your oven and your seeds, so check them after the first hour or so until they are baked to your liking. I think we did our seeds for an hour & forty-five minutes. 

After cooling, store in an airtight container or zip-top bag and enjoy! 

Happy Halloween! 

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Sunday, October 24

Exploring Nashville, pt 2

My parents came to visit us two weekends ago so we took that opportunity to explore Nashville a little more. The only other times they've been down here were to move us in (and out) of our apartment, and we spent that time working without much play. I wanted to make sure this weekend was full of new experiences and plenty of fun. 

Friday night we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Chuy's. It's a transplant from Texas and we love the food, especially their chips and salsa! I had to build a cupcake-cake at work that night, so everyone came along and they got to see the store and met my bosses. We went to bed early because I had lots of plans for Saturday. 

First thing Saturday, we hit up the Southern Festival of Books at the War Memorial Plaza near the capitol. 

There were publishers, authors, book signings, seminars, talks, and music and theater performances. We wandered around, checked out the booths, and explored the state capitol. 

Dad had to pose for this picture, and then we had to find out who exactly the statue is. 

After climbing up to get a closer view, we still didn't have a very good answer. I ended up looking him up on my Wikipedia app and I think he was a senator or something until he was killed over a dispute between local newspapers. But I could be making that up :) 

After the capitol, we headed down the street to the Nashville Farmer's Market. This was our first time visiting and we were pleasantly surprised! There are three main sections of the market, one for farmy things, another with a "food court" and international market, and another section for an icky flea market. When the floods hit in May, the market was completely underwater, so it's nice to see it back and flourishing. 

We spent most of our time meandering around all the beautiful produce. There was every veggie imaginable- gorgeous squash, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and pumpkins - oh! the pumpkins! 

Orange ones, white ones, striped ones, speckled ones, some to carve and some to stack. They were all so beautiful and we couldn't believe the variety. 

There were even some as big as me :)

In the flea market, Curt found a "kitchen thing." I honestly don't know what it is supposed to be, it was almost like a giant emory board, but you are supposed to use it in your kitchen. 

Any guesses? 

The farmer's market was a success - we got a couple pumpkins, apples, Curt got concord grapes he's been craving forever, and Dad bought some abnormal barbecue sauce from a hippy who grows his own peppers. From the market we moved down the block to the Germantown neighborhood for two different Oktoberfest events. No photos from there - it was too crowded and we just wandered around. I wanted to stop at the Cupcake Collection, but they were closed so we took our sweet tooth(s) elsewhere. 

Las Paletas of course! I thought my parents would enjoy the unique flavors, and I really wanted my dad to try one of the chili popsicle concoctions. 

Dad appeased my request and picked Cucumber Chili, which was surprisingly delicious. Mom had Grapefruit, which was shockingly tart, but tasted exactly like biting into a fresh grapefruit.

Curt had Kiwi-something, it was delicious. And I had Honeydew, which was sweet and juicy like a ripe melon. 

After our morning out and about we went to the grocery store, packed a picnic linner (lunch/dinner), and headed South to Arrington Vineyards.

The vineyard overlooks the beautiful Arrington area, and it was a great first look at some of the changing colors of fall. We got there just in time for the band to start playing, ate our little picnic, and enjoyed the sunset while waiting for our turn at wine-tasting. 

We thought our picnic was pretty fancy with fresh deli meat, bakery sub buns, and macaroni salad, but boy were we wrong. Our linner was absolutely delicious, but it paled in comparison to the fancy table scapes and gourmet catering a lot of the other groups brought with them. I'm talking linen table cloths and elaborate centerpieces! Eat your heart out, Sandra Lee

We found a list of the wines and started picking our samples.

The hill quickly filled with people and a hot air balloon.

We got there just in time - when we put in our name, the wait was an hour and a half. By the time it was our turn, there was a three hour wait! If you plan on visiting Arrington Vineyards on a weekend, get there in the early afternoon and you can avoid the crowds, enjoy the sunset, and get your wine without the wait! 

Kix Brooks (from Brooks & Dunn) owns the vineyard, hence the hot air balloon.

That's the tasting lodge. They take you in as a group to small tasting areas where you can sample four different wines. The hostess shared that if you try the raspberry wine, you get a chocolate truffle to taste with it. Both the truffle and the wine were delicious. 

We left the vineyard before it got too late, rented a movie, and relaxed for the rest of the night. 

More pictures from my parents' visit coming up and then I swear I'll get back to crafting! 

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Exploring Nashville

Curt and I have been trying to get out and explore the great city of Nashville a little more. When we first moved here last June, we didn't have much time to go out and we didn't live in a good area. Since we got back from Australia and moved into a new area of town, it's been much easier to hunt for fun, cheap entertainment. 

One of my favorite resources for new restaurants and fun spots is (which I also use on my Yelp iPhone app.) If you've never visited Yelp before, I recommend you do - there might be a gem of a place right around the corner. And that's exactly what I found - bubble tea, five minutes from our house.

Have you ever tried bubble tea? Essentially, it's a fruit smoothie or tea (or coffee or milk) drink with giant tapioca balls in the bottom. You sip the drink through a fat straw so you can munch the tapioca balls, which are like gummies without flavor.

The place near our house is called Chill Spot; it's on Franklin Road in Brentwood near Peter's Sushi for anyone who wants to visit. Not only do they have tasty food, but also an incredible array of bubble teas. Curt tried "Summertime" and I had "Groovy Passion." They were both really good and there were dozens of other unique flavors. 

Sadly, we heard a rumor today that Chill Spot is closing, so if you want to try some delicious bubble tea, hop over to Brentwood and snatch some for yourself soon. Or don't, because it can be addicting. 

We tried a new bubble tea place today - Vienna House Coffee & Tea in Cool Springs - which is not in such a convenient location, and I preferred my Chill Spot drink, but Curt liked Vienna's better, for what it's worth. 

Other fun things in the area? This traveling carnival! Which was more fun to gawk at than actually participate in, but fun nonetheless.

Yes, the carnies came to town for a couple weeks, completely clogging the grocery store and shopping center with their dangerous rides and nasty stuffed animals.

The rides were older than me, but the bright lights were oh so sweet.

A carny tried to convince Curt he needed to win me a prize to win my love. We opted to not play. 

Another new (to us) favorite spot for cool treats is Las Paletas in the 12 South neighborhood. They serve traditional Mexican popsicles. Las Paletas has different flavors everyday so there is always something new to try. The popsicles are handmade with fresh fruits and flavors - a perfect treat for these hot days we are still experiencing! 

That day Curt got Strawberry, Pineapple, Banana and I had Blueberry Lime. They were both delicious! 

The biggest perk of living in Nashville is all the music, obviously! This fall a local radio station introduced "Live on the Green" - a free Thursday night concert series downtown. They had a number of decent bands in town - Curt and I went to see Five for Fighting, and Curt saw Jars of Clay a few weeks later (I had to work). 

It's always fun to see quality bands for free and I love community events. We also visited Musicians' Corner, which was another free concert series on Saturdays in Centennial Park. As far as I know, they will both be back next year. 

In an attempt to get in shape and tune up his soccer skills, Curt joined a YMCA team with one of my co-workers. He also started playing soccer with some random people which has since turned into a reoccurring bi-weekly event. There are many beautiful parks in town where pick-up games happen on a regular basis.

Nashville is busting with unique places and restaurants. At the top of my list is Hatch Show Print, and the next time we are downtown, I'm picking up some posters to decorate my studio. When my parents were in town, we made a point to visit new places that aren't obvious tourist destinations. I'll be blogging about those places later this week.

I hope this post wasn't too boring, but maybe if you are in the Nashville area it will give you some fun ideas. Or maybe it will inspire you to explore your own town - so many people feel the need to go away to get a dose of tourism when there are plenty of unique places and events locally. 

What's your favorite spot in our town? 

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Thursday, October 21

Let Them Eat Cake

I've been very busy at work designing new cakes, especially since I started experimenting with marshmallow fondant. 

It's a simple recipe - mini marshmallows and a tiny bit of water, melted in the microwave, then mixed with powdered sugar. Mix, mix, mix, knead, knead, knead until you have a silky, not sticky, dough. Oh, and don't forget the Crisco - that's a great trick to keep it nice, although the first couple cake were done without it. 

[I should warn you - most of these photos were taken with my iPhone at work, so the quality is not the best, but you get the idea!]

My first fondant attempt: a Paul Frank Julius cake for Shelby's half-birthday party. 

The cake is frosted with sky blue bettercreme and red frosting accents on the top and bottom, as well as the writing. 

The trick here was getting the right flesh color for Julius - which ended up looking like I'd skinned a human, but it turned out great. And I should add - the inside of this cake was blue cotton candy ice cream with red velvet cake, so it even matched the inside! 

The same day, I made a Superman cake. 

Blue bettercreme, white frosting writing, red frosting on the bottom, and the logo is fondant. 

Next up - Thomas for a second birthday. 

I frosted the whole cake white, then smeared blue and green coloring on the top to fill in the grass and sky. The middle part is a little track the Thomas train moves around. The accents are all frosting.

The next cake was a big deal around the store, everyone really loved the ice skate cake! 

The birthday girl was having an ice skating party, her favorite colors are light blue, pink, green and yellow. And she likes flowers. And that's all I had to work with - her very trusting father left the design up to me.

I made the skates out of fondant, the laces are icing. The flowers on the side are also fondant. The birthday girl was in love with this cake, they even stopped in recently to tell me they are still (months later) talking about the skate cake! 

Now a very cool cake for Kailey - who happens to be Shelby's little sister (the Paul Frank cake at the top).

Kailey's mom brought me the party stationary (below) and left me free to design whatever I wanted.

I used pink and purple coloring to tie-dye the frosting all around the cake. The hear motif is made of fondant, the writing is icing. The spots are black fondant that I tore willy-nilly to get nice random, jagged spots. This is probably the coolest cake I've made yet! 

What happens when you call and order a dirt bike cake you need to pick up the following morning? 

This dirty looking cake! Frosted with oreo-tinted bettercreme, crumbed with a combo of oreos and graham cracker pie crust crumbs, fudge mud puddles, and green grass frosting. Pop a dirt bike toy from Target on top and - voila! - dirt bike cake. 

Here is a sweet cake for Alicia, who just so happens to be Shelby & Kailey's mom. (Can you tell the family loves our cakes?!) Alicia's husband ordered the cake for her, requesting just "flowers on top." 

So here you go Alicia, a simple, yet sophisticated cake with red icing flowers (a new trait I figured out), light blue frosting, and darker blue accents.

Finally, my most recent pride and joy: my dad's birthday cake.

Mom & Dad came to visit a few days after his birthday, so I wanted to make him a really special cake to celebrate. He loves his garden and had a successful harvest this summer, so why not recreate it on a cake?! 

All the veggies are fondant, rolled and molded into their respective shapes. The cake is frosted in green bettercreme, as well as the foliage. The dirt is, again, oreo and graham crumbs in a neat plot on top. I lined the square plot with chocolate ganache logs on all sides. 

I wanted a good mix of veggies and colors so I included: tomatoes, carrots, pumpkins, peppers, squash, beans, purple cabbage, radishes, lettuce, and cucumbers! 

I built a bunch of sugary vegetables and then set them into the plot like any organized gardener would.

The cake turned out better than I could have imagined, my dad loved it, and it was delicious to eat (even thought it was terribly difficult [on my emotions] to cut into!) 

I'll be posting pictures of my parents' visit soon :-) 

What's your favorite cake? Have you tried marshmallow fondant yet? If not, you really should, it's easy (and cheap!) to make, and gives you the ability to make any cake you can imagine! 

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