Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

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Hello, My name is Anna and I am in love with pumpkins, well fall in general but mostly pumpkins. So of course, the first recipe of autumn is going to scream PUMPKIN.

So, allow me to present to you the Pumpkin Spice Cupcake.

Cupcakes are by far my favorite thing to make, they have endless possibilities as far as decorating goes. and they are way cuter than cake itself. These darlings are one of my proudest bakes, plus they’re pumpkin! What’s better than that?

 

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Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 2 Cups Pumpkin Puree 
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil 
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla 
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Ginger  
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cloves 
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg 

Preheat over to 350F

Line your muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the pumpkin puree, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and sugar.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and the spices.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix on a low setting until well combined, scraping down the sides as you go along.

Fill your muffin cups 2/3 full of batter, bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place the cupcakes on a cooling rake. Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16oz Cream Cheese 
  • 1 Cup Butter 
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar 
  • 1/2 Cup Milk 
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla 
  • Pumpkin Spice for garnishing

 

Make sure the butter and the cream cheese are both room temperature, trust me, this will make a world of difference.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar mixing in between additions. Next, add the milk and vanilla, and beat until well combined.

You may need to add more powdered sugar to get the consistency you want in your frosting, and used a piping bag so I needed mine to be thick enough to hold shape.

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To frost my cupcakes I used an icing bag with large round tip and made a spiral design. I then sprinkled a little pumpkin spice and topped each cupcake with the fondant pumpkins I made the day before.

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I am so pleased with how these came out, they looked and tasted amazing. I’m sure I will be making these again before autumn is over.

If you would like to see how I made the fondant pumpkins I topped these cupcakes with you can find that post right (here).

Anna.

Making Fondant Pumpkins

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I love baking, especially this time of year,  but I do tend to be a little cautious when it comes to trying new recipes and techniques. However, every once and awhile I will have the urge to try something new, and this time it is pumpkins.

Yes, pumpkins.

I have to start off by saying this, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I didn’t have a recipe or tutorial to follow, I just know I wanted little fondant pumpkins. Looking back these were very easy to make, but I won’t lie and say they were not time-consuming, in fact, it took me about five hours start to finish. This may have been because I didn’t really know what I was doing, or maybe they just take ages, either way, I didn’t feel like I wasted my time at all, in fact, I felt extremely proud of myself.

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To Start off, I use (this recipe) for my fondant, it’s super easy to make marshmallow fondant the hardest part is getting the food coloring evenly throughout the fondant so it doesn’t look streaky.

Once I made my fondant, I divided it into to two, one part is about a quarter the size of the other, that will be colored dark green for the pumpkin stem, and the other a bright orange for the pumpkins themselves.

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To color the orange fondant I used orange gel food color from Wilton, and for the green used green gel and got the fondant to a bright green, and then used a little black to give it that deep earthy green.

Once I had gotten my fondant colored, I rolled the orange into a rope that was about an inch around. Then I cut the rope into sections that were about one inch long.

Next, I rolled those sections into balls, I wasn’t worried about making them look perfect because pumpkins aren’t perfect. Then I placed them into the refrigerator to chill.

I then rolled sections of my green fondant into thin ropes, I’m not sure what to liken the size to, but you want them to be a fitting size to be the stems for your soon to be pumpkins. I then placed the green fondant sections onto the wax paper and put them in the fridge to chill.

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I let everything chill for about ten and then I cut my green ropes into stems for my pumpkins. I did this by eye and didn’t worry too much about getting them all the same. Next, I started to shape my pumpkins. I used a fondant knife to make the indents on the sides of my pumpkins, this had to be done quickly because the fondant begins to get soft and harder to work with. I found that pressing the knife into the fondant instead of cutting worked better for the shape I wanted.  Once I had the grooves done on the sides of my pumpkins I used my finger and gently pressed down on the top of each of them to give them that slightly indented look that pumpkins have.

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Next up I used the remaining green fondant and broke off little pieces and rolled them into pea-sized balls, and then using a fondant tool I carefully added it to the indent on the top of each of my pumpkins to make it look like the stem was growing out of it.

Now for the stems!

I used a fondant the same tool I used in the last step to gently blend one end of the stem into the top of my little pumpkins, and then shaped the stem around the tool to give it a more realistic look.

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Now that the pumpkins are assembled I used a clean eyeshadow brush( beauty blogging and baking intertwine) and lightly brushed on some cocoa powder. I started with the bottom and did a heavier coat and then lightly dusted the rest of the pumpkins. This step gave them a fresh picked look.

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I put all of my pumpkins back in the fridge and let them sit overnight, to be added to cupcakes the next day.

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These came out so well and were better than I could have hoped for them to be. While these were time-consuming and a little tricky, I would one hundred percent make them again.

If you want to see the cupcake recipe that I made these to go with it will be up tomorrow, and I will link it (here).

Anna.

 

An Interview With Lemon & Tulips

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There is a new bright spot in Fryeburg, From its cheery front garden to its welcoming yellow door. Since it opened on January 19th, 2017 Lemon & Tulips have brought a little ray of the sunshine charming agricultural town.

Lemon & Tulips have some pre-arranged flowers, and some adorable merchandise in the shop but specializes in their stunning and unique custom arrangments, just head over to their Instagram @lemonandtulips to see for yourself.

The owner of lemon & Tulips the lovely Alexzandria Regan was kind enough to do an interview for A Sparkle Of Grace, so keep reading!

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Have you always wanted to work with flowers?

I grew up with my mother drying wreaths and flowers, taking care of household plants and always, always outside in her garden. Whether it was her reading a book, maintaining it or just relaxing; I grew up knowing a garden was a peaceful place for the mind. So, I have always enjoyed flowers for their both aesthetic and nostalgic feel.  When figuring out what I was going to do from High School to College to ‘real life’, floral design popped up once in awhile but it really did not fall into place until after an accident, where I cracked my skull and had traumatic brain injury.  After this happened, I knew I could not go back to a job (managerial) as it was too much to handle and comprehend. I did do some research that things that would help me ease into a different career path and with a twist of fate, a floral position was open and I got hired. I needed something to retrain-my-brain and floral had it all; the fragrance that alleviates stress, colors that build visual memory and most importantly, creativity on free-designs (thank goodness for the right-side of the brain).   

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When did you decide to open your own shop?  

It was a very random call from my mother saying that the floral shop in Fryeburg could be up for sale. I did not really fathom it or even thought it was possible until it became very real. If the shop did not happen, I was going to come back to Fryeburg anyway to try to save money and work as a freelancer in floral.

Why did you decide to stay in Fryeburg?

I was actually planning on moving back to Fryeburg way before the idea of buying the floral shop. Although I feel as though Portland is my home, the home and lifestyle were too expensive and it did not make much sense to be an entrepreneur and to save there.  Over the years, I started thinking, ‘Fryeburg is a gem of a town’. It has so much potential with its prime location, the many camps, the Saco River, the Fair, the beautiful nature, the farms, the historic Academy, the Valley and its heavy 302 traffic. A lot of eyes go through Fryeburg!

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Where did the name Lemon & Tulips come from?  

Short Story: ‘Lemon’ is a nickname & ‘Tulips’ is my favorite flower

Long Story: I have always been slightly obsessed with lemons. They hold my favorite color, yellow, my favorite scent, they produce glorious health benefits and they serve with astounding uses! They are my ‘power fruit’ or rather, a positive entity for me. With this being said, all of my friends started buying me lemon things. In time it became a nickname of mine. Tulips are my favorite flower. Living in Germany when I was younger, my family and I visited the surrounding countries and tulips were always there; they are nostalgic for me, especially with Scandinavian folk art. When learning floral, I found out that they have such a personality! When cut, the tulip stills continues to grow.

What was the scariest part of starting your own business?

All of the responsibility! Everything lies on me and is truly scary! It does push me to become more of a caring and successful business owner by getting over my fears.

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In your opinion, what makes Lemon & Tulips special?

I think Lemon & Tulips is special because it’s a floral shop that is personalized. What I mean by saying this, is that I am not affiliated with major services that have you pick out an image on a computer (Teleflora for example) and to copy it. For me, it takes away both mine and the customer’s creative freedom and personalization of the arrangement. I have gotten some feedback from not being involved, but floral shops are changing and stemming away from these services and I am happy to be apart of it. Although I could potentially make more money by being involved, oddly,  I would rather make less and be more unique and customized for both the sender and the recipient. I believe my shop can make that happen. Sometimes you have to just set yourself aside and do your own thing!DSC_0051 (2)DSC_0053

Have there been any surprises, good or bad, that you discovered when starting out?

That thing called ‘trail and error’ and I have already had my fair share of it. I did not just purchase a floral shop and just continued like it was before. I purchased a floral shop and completely flipped it. From the aesthetics, the methods, the policies, the floral, the design, the orders, the shop both inside and out, I flipped almost everything. The bad thing about this is that I did lose some customers that were accustomed to what they had in the past, which is always tough to see. However, the good thing about this is that I gained customers that loved the change and excited to see me grow.

What is your favorite type of arrangement to create?

My favorite arrangement is when a customer asks me to use a unique vessel and to have fun with it. This is amazing because the customer is putting trust and faith in me to produce something different with my personal design.DSC_0071DSC_0078

How about your favorite flower?

So many! But, of course, tulips. They have such a personality to them because they continue to grow after cutting them. I remember the first time I witnessed it as we (past floral job) made several tulip centerpieces at a clean height, and the next day to see that they grew taller and started bending in every direction. I could not stop laughing and thought it was absolutely adorable.  

Do you have any advice for someone who is trying to start a business?

Remember to sleep.  Have a planner glued to you (your to-do’s, meetings and random notes will be overwhelming).  Take feedback in a positive way.   Keep your overhead low but also know that you have to spend money to make money. Research your demographics before you start. FREE MARKETING! It’s called word-of-mouth, and the most efficient one too! You cannot make everyone happy and it’s okay. Guidelines and ‘rules’ are meant to be broken; do not limit yourself.

 

Thanks so much to Alexzandria for taking the time to work with me on this post.

Have a wonderful day!

Anna.

Etude House Bubble Tea Sleeping Pack

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Bubble Tea Green Tea Sleeping Pack

I ordered this off Amazon where there were three options, a strawberry, a black tea, and of course the green tea. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from this, thought it would be like a face mask and I would have to be careful not to roll over in my sleep and make a mess of it.

As it turns out is really just a really rich moisturizer that I have completely fallen for, so of course, I had to share my thoughts on it here with you.

DSC_0103Let’s start out with the packaging.

The packaging was the first thing that interested me about this product because it was whimsical and adorable. It is designed to look like a little cup of bubble tea, with a tiny spoon to help get the bubbles out of the bottom.

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The texture of the gel part is very creamy and reminds me of pudding. the little gel bubbles feel exactly like the tapioca balls that you would find in actually bubble tea.

I used this every night before I went bed, using one scoop of the gel cream and one bubble. Rubbing them two together until they were mix and then applied it to my face like a moisturizer. While this did sit on my skin a little longer than a normal moisturizer I didn’t find it to be much of a problem while I was sleeping and there was no residue of it on my face when I woke up. DSC_0115DSC_0109

I have found that this was great for calming my skin if it was feeling stressed or I had so red spots when I went to bed they would be calm and much less red. I also found that my skin was super soft in the morning and felt hydrated but not oily.

My final thoughts on this adorable product is that was well worth the ten dollars I spent on it, and I have recently used this up and am really missing it. I do know if I will repurchase this right way, but I will definitely be getting it again in the near future.

Decadent Rice Krispy Treats

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If you ever wondered if there was a way to make Rice Krispy treats fancy and elegant then you’ve come to the right place. Rice Krispy Treats have always been one of my favorites treats both to eat and to make. Typical I go for the classic sweet and simple way of making them but this time I decided to do it a little differently, and they came out amazingly.

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  • 6 Cups Rice Cereal
  • 8 Cups Mini Marshmallows 
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter 
  • Dark Chocolate(I used 2 of NibMor’s Original Dark Chocolate bar)
  • Caramel( Meltable)

Grease a flat 9-13 pan.

In a large pot slowly melt the butter and the marshmallows on a medium heat stirring constantly.

Once the marshmallows are melted remove from heat and add the rice cereal, you will want to do this fairly quickly. Gently stir until the cereal is completely coated.

Now press the mixture into your prepared pan using a  greased spoon or your hands( if you do use your hands make sure to grease them first).

Once the marshmallow mixture is evenly spread out, sprinkle with some remaining mini marshmallows and gently press them down so they stick. Set aside while you melt the chocolate and the caramel.

How you melt the chocolate and caramel is up to you, for the most part,  I find that a Bain Marie works best.

I chopped up a few salted caramels and saved out a couple squares of chocolate for decoration and texture. I started by sprinkling the bits of caramel fairly evenly over the top and followed with the melted chocolate and caramel.

Let the toppings set for about twenty minutes before cutting into squares.

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I absolutely love the texture of this bars, all the different toppings really shine through. I think I still prefer the classic, but these are great for adding a touch of class to a fun and yummy treat.

Thanks so much to NibMor for supplying the chocolate for this recipe, if you would like to see the other recipe I did with them you can find it(here).