Easter Brunch Carrot Cake Muffins

Food

Call me out for being a Millenial, but I LOVE brunch. For one thing, I love how it’s strictly a weekend thing (not being able to brunch every day makes it more special) and for another, I love how creative you can be in your brunch menu.

Is it breakfast? Lunch? Dessert? It’s whatever the heck you want it to be! And that’s what makes it fabulous.

Usually my family does Easter dinner but this year we’re changing it up to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules and dong brunch instead. As you can probably imagine, I’m really excited about this! I’m looking forward to mimosas, biscotti and breakfast casseroles all around.

Because I’m not one to show up empty-handed, I decided to whip up some carrot cake muffins. This sounds like something the Easter bunny would like, right? I found this amazing recipe for healthy carrot cake muffins on The Ambitious Kitchen and was pleasantly surprised to realize I had all of the ingredients in my house already (serious adulting win).

I followed the recipe for the muffins step-by-step but decided to stray from the recommended glaze suggested in the post. Because it’s a holiday afterall, I went with a more traditional cream cheese frosting and honestly love how the hearty, healthy flavoring of the muffin pairs with the sweet cream cheese frosting.

In an attempt to make the muffins look a little fancier, I used a piping bag and round decorating tip to pipe on the frosting. I also added a sprinkle of nutmeg for the finishing touch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots (about 2-3 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Almond milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with liners and spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray to prevent batter from sticking to the liners.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to a medium bowl; stir to combine and then set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, add carrots, maple syrup, olive oil, applesauce, egg and vanilla. Whisk to combine wet ingredients then slowly stir in almond milk and flour mixture until just combined. Fold in coconut flakes if you’d like.
  4. Divide batter evenly between muffins cups or liners.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan then transfer muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.

I paired these muffins with my go-to recipe for cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect amount of sweetness and requires minimal ingredients. Whip it up by combining these ingredients with an electric mixer:

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectionary sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons milk

 

While I’m posting this recipe for Easter, these muffins would be great any time of the year! I know I’ll definitely be revisiting this recipe in the fall when I’m craving all-things-spice.

To shop the products featured in this post, click on the corresponding links below!

Carrot garland 

Cupcake stand

Cake decorating kit 

The links featured in this post are affiliate links. 

Introduction to Hand Embroidery Workshop: What to Expect

Workshops

This past weekend I held my first Sip & Stitch embroidery workshop, teaching beginner hand embroidery to a handful of women looking to get into modern stitching as a way to de-stress and make art. The session was held in my home and was so successful (much to my admitted relief and joy) that I’ve already scheduled another session and have a lot of fun ideas in the works!

IMG_3143Because fiber art (especially embroidery) can be intimidating to a lot of people, I wanted to write a quick post to break down what to expect from a beginner session. I promise it’s not as difficult as it looks! And I know you will have a lot of fun doing it. Seriously – embroidery is addictive.

Here’s what you can expect from attending a Sip & Stitch session:

Basics

If you’re attending a introductory workshop I’m assuming you’ve never embroidered anything before – and that’s really exciting! You should be proud of yourself for trying something new and I’m really excited thinking about how much you’ll love embroidery once you try it. Because this is a beginner session we will cover things like basic embroidery supplies, how to use an embroidery hoop and trips and tricks for threading your needle.

Even if you’re not a beginner, I encourage you to attend the workshop to have fun with others who are interested in learning more about your beloved artform. Attending a workshop might also inspire you and give you new ideas as to what’s possible!

Stitches

Ahhhh stitches – the basics of hand embroidery! During these sessions we will cover 5-7 basic embroidery stitches that will help you complete your project and give you the confidence to keep stitching and explore new patterns.

To learn these stitches, we will spend the first hour together learning and practicing. Everyone will leave with their own stitch sampler to refer back to once they take their project home.

Coffee

No one comes to my home without being offered coffee! It’s my favorite beverage and perfect for a hyggelig session. Don’t know what hygge is? No worries, we’ll cover that too.

Fun

Whether you attend a session with friends or family, or are coming to enjoy the company of future-friends, I promise that your session will be a lot of fun. As you may imagine, learning embroidery tends to lend itself to laughter all around the table — it’s part of what makes beginner sessions so fun!

Unique artwork

Although I will be supplying you with a pattern, how you choose to complete your piece is completely up to you! I love seeing how everyone approaches patterns differently through the use of stitching and color. You will spend the second part of the session working on your pattern, picking out thread colors and sharing ideas with one another.

To sign up for my next embroidery workshop session, click here!

 

Celebrating International Waffle Day

Art

Happy International Waffle Day! I’ve always been a big fan of this Belgian breakfast, but becoming a dedicated “Parks & Rec” fan over the past few years has really sealed the deal on waffles being my favorite breakfast food.

lesliewaffles

Today I’m celebrating this fun breakfast-themed holiday with a quick sketch I did using Faber-Castell Gelatos. I received a Gelatos gift set for Christmas this year and was excited because – to be completely honest with you – I had neither seen nor heard of these before.

I used this waffle sketch to get to know the medium and discovered that they are a lot like oil pastels with one major difference – you can water them down and use them like paint! This is fun because you can also use them as a stamping material. I’m really looking forward to playing with Gelatos more in the future!

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I also plan on celebrating National Waffle Day by having “brinner” tonight. Andy bought me a Black & Decker waffle iron for my birthday a couple of years ago and I look for just about any excuse to use it. If you don’t already own a waffle iron, I highly recommend it! It heats up super fast and the waffles always come out looking picture perfect.

To shop this waffle iron on Amazon, click here.

The links featured in this article are affiliate links.

Tips and Tricks for Drawing on Fabric

Art, DIY

I really love to draw. But I also love fiber art. So – what’s one of my favorite things to do? Draw on fabric! To me, drawing is the foundation of all art and I love bringing it into the fiber-verse whenever I can.

Drawing on fabric has a few different use cases including:

  • Artwork: If you are like me, then maybe you want to draw a masterpiece on a piece of cotton. If you’re not like me and don’t understand why one would want to do this, think about all of the fun embroidery and sewn elements you can add to the drawing when it’s done on fabric!
  • Embroidery designs: I love drawing embroidery designs right onto the cloth. 
  • Sewing projects: Sometimes you need to draw out a pattern or indicate cut lines.

Whatever your reason for drawing on fabric, there are a few tricks to keep in mind to keep the process fun and frustration-free. Here are my top tips to get you started:

  1. Iron out those wrinkles: Or steam them out! You won’t want those pesky wrinkles getting in the way of your design and tripping up your pen. I have a travel-sized steamer that I keep in my studio that I love using for these occasions. 

  1. Pick the right drawing tool

I you’re drawing an embroidery pattern or making marks for a sewing project, then you’ll want to use a marking pen. I love this pen by Dritz because the ink is disolvable by either air or water, depending on what side you draw with. This is great for making marks that you don’t want to be permanent.

  1. Be wary of bleed

If you’re using a marker, or pen and ink, be wary of ink bleeding through to the other side. To be on the safe side, do your drawing on a drawing board or place scrap paper beneath the fabric. I’ve had this board since college and use it for soooo many projects. It’s my on-the-go studio space!

  1. Add texture

Bring your drawing to life with embroidery! I have a penchant for hand embroidery but adding stitching with a machine is also a lot of fun. Utilize French knots for even more added texture.

Mermaidembroidery1

The Perpetual Creator a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Whipped Mocha Frosting and the Cutest Dessert Stands

Food

This weekend we celebrated my husband Andy’s 35th birthday! This was really exciting for us as it was the first birthday celebration we were able to host in our own home (our last house was waaaaay too tiny to host his large family all under one roof). It was really great having everyone over for what turned out to be a lovely afternoon spent indulging in entirely too much pizza, ice cream and cake covered with Andy’s favorite frosting: Whipped mocha.

Typically, I pair this frosting with marble cake and an apricot filling but it really does taste great with any kind of cake. Andy actually asked for a devil’s food cake this year and the added chocolate made the dessert extra decadent.

I was really missing the apricot filling though so I decided to also whip up a batch of yellow cupcakes and fill them with apricot preserves!

While I’m still very new to cake decorating, I tried to make both the cake and cupcakes fun by piping details with a star tip and throwing some colorful sprinkles on the cupcakes.

Adding to the whimsy, I displayed the treats on stands. Doing so really helps elevate your display and makes grabbing for a treat extra fun for your guests!

The Pioneer Woman cake stand featured in these photos is so adorable and I honestly leave it out on my counter all the time. Its farmhouse charm adds to my kitchen decor and it is perfect for storing all kinds of goodies including cookies, bars, brownies and doughnuts. I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite kitchen items!

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I’m also loving this cupcake stand, which holds up to 13 treats. One thing I especially love about it is that it unscrews into three pieces, making it incredibly easy to store in your cabinets. This also makes it portable for displays on the go! Bring it to parties or family gatherings for a more sophisticated display.

To check out my recipe for whipped mocha frosting, click here. I promise you’ll use it again and again – it’s so tasty!

And to shop the items featured in this post, click on the links below:

Large Chalkboard

Pioneer Woman Cake Stand 

Wilton Dessert Stand

The Perpetual Creator a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

A Creative Practice in Mindfulness

Wellness

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard the word “mindful” before. It’s a bit of a buzz word. A hot topic. But what exactly does it mean to be mindful? This is what Dictionary.com has to say:

a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique..png

In layman’s terms, mindfulness means focusing on being mentally and physically present, and using that time to check in with yourself. Practicing mindfulness has a lot of great benefits including:

  • An increase in gratitude
  • Decreased stress
  • A more positive outlook

It can also do wonders for your physical health. For instance, slowing down and practicing mindful eating has been known to aid weight loss. And meditating before bed is shown to help you have a more restful sleep.

Bottom line? In a society that praises multitasking, it’s important to remember that our self worth is not based on how busy we are. There  is a lot to be said of slowing down and taking life one thing at a time. This actually helps us enjoy our experiences more and aids us in getting to really know ourselves.

So how do you become more mindful?

There are many different ways you can practice mindfulness including yoga, journaling, meditation or even just using your daily commute to check in with yourself and ask yourself how you’re doing.

Today, I’m sharing an interactive book that is particularly helpful for creatives looking to become more mindful. I know it definitely helped me! Published by Flow Magazine, “A Book That Takes It’s Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness” is basically a Godsend for those looking for a creative way to become more in-tune with themselves.

The Amazon description will tell you that this book is essentially a “mindfulness retreat between two covers” – and I couldn’t agree more! I love how this book mixes reading with interactive activities. It’s basically an activity book for adults. (What else could you ever want in life?)

Some of the activities include:

  • Collaging
  • Journaling
  • Stickers
  • Drawing

And all of the activities share a common theme: Slow down and enjoy life. 

This book is perfect for creatives looking for inspiration, lovers of books and anyone looking to become more mindful. This book would also make for a terrific gift.

To shop this title on Amazon, click here.

How to Take Your Weavings Beyond a Basic Scarf

DIY

One of the biggest questions I get about weaving is, “What do you do with the weavings?” or “Can you make more than just scarves?”

I love approaching weaving from an artist’s mindset, meaning I like to weave works of art that convey an idea or concept. This might be weaving a specific pattern or color to convey a feeling, or adding embroidery to tell a story. So for me, I don’t feel the need to necessarily “do” anything with my weavings because they do something on their own – they’re art!

The other approach to weaving is from a crafting, DIY perspective. In answer to,”Can you make more than just scarves?,” the answer is absolutely! There are soooo many things you can weave. Some projects include table runners, dish towels, blankets, coasters and pot holders – to name a few.

These projects are all straightforward (or, I should say, rectangular) and don’t require any sewing. But what if you feel like moving beyond the basic rectangle?

In that case, the possibilities are endless! 

This is something I’m just starting to explore more myself, so I know how scary it can be to take a pair of scissors to your precious handwoven cloth.

Before cutting into your weavings, there is one very, VERY, important investment you need to make: Fray Check. This is the magic that’s going to make cutting into your weaving 10,000 times less scary. Seriously. ✂️

This product is an absolute Godsend and you can buy a two-pack on Amazon for under $10. Worth. Every. Penny.

So what exactly is Fray Check you ask? Essentially, a glue that helps keep your cloth from fraying. Designed for sewers, it works just as well for weavers! Using Fray Check, you can bind your cloth together where you’re going to cut it.

Both of the projects featured in this post I put together with the help of my handy-dandy friend, Fray Check.

How to use:

  1. Decide where you will be cutting your cloth and run a line of Fray Check across. (Do this in a well-ventilated area).
  2. Allow the Fray Check to dry.
  3. Once dry, turn the cloth over and put a corresponding line of Fray Check on the other side.
  4. Once the fabric is completely dry, you can go ahead and make your cut! Use sharp scissors to give yourself a nice, clean cut.

Use this trick to start transforming your beautiful cloth into different projects. If you’re nervous about fraying edges, you can also run stitches across the edges to make them extra secure. Depending on the weight of the yarn, you can either run the cloth under the sewing machine with thread or hand sew it with yarn leftover from your project.

As you can see, I transformed this green, checked weaving into a small pouch (perfect for stowing pencils, erasers, and other art supplies!) and a sketchbook cover. I love that I was able to get two projects out of one small weaving. It definitely makes warping worth your while. 😸

Not sure what you want to make first? Check out some of these ideas on Pinterest.

Sleep Better with This Natural Remedy

Wellness

Spend any amount of time with me and you will quickly realize one thing: I can’t sit still. Twenty five years into my life and I’m still learning the concept of “relax.” Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, working, making art, playing with the dog, learning a new piece on the piano, reading, writing, etc., etc., etc., I always have to be doing something. Always. Hence the name of this blog! I just can’t help myself.

Usually, this is a good thing. I’m never bored and I’ve truly mastered how to prioritize my to-do list to make sure I have time for everything I want (and need) to do.

Like everything else though, being busy also has its downside. Because I’m always on the go, I have a really reeeeally difficult time unwinding to go to bed at night. Aside from having my energy levels up all day, I also struggle to shut my mind down – so many things to do tomorrow!

Point of the story: I’m not good at relaxing. BUT it’s something I’ve been working on. In fact, one of my resolutions for 2019 is to get more sleep (5.5 hours a night just isn’t cutting it anymore) and so far, there’s been one important thing that has been helping me accomplish my goal: lavender essential oil.

I was first introduced to all the benefits and uses of lavender by my in-laws, who are in the process of growing their new lavender farm. Some of the benefits of using lavender essential oil include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Better sleep quality
  • Headache relief

I decided to work this miracle plant into my bedtime routine and for the past few weeks, have been using this diffuser, purchased on Amazon, to diffuse lavender essential oil in my bedroom before going to sleep.

The scent is heavenly and it definitely helps me relax before shutting down for the night. ✨

If you’re looking for a more powerful dosage, you can also apply essential oil directly to your pillow, either through drops or by leaving some dried sprigs on your pillowcase a few hours before going to bed.

So far, I’m loving incorporating lavender into my bedtime routine – it really does help me relax! Not to mention it smells amazing. 🤗 I’ve even started placing dried lavender bunches throughout my house for scent and pops of color.

To learn more about drying florals, click here. 🥀 And to learn more about Hillcrest Lavender Farm, click here.

The Easiest Way to Preserve Fresh Flowers

DIY

One of the things I loved most about my wedding was the flowers, especially my bouquet. 💐 I had gone through two consultations with my florist prior to the wedding but, admittedly, was having a difficult time imagining what the finished product would look like.

I had brought several inspiration photos to the first meeting and was dismayed to learn that most of my desired florals weren’t in season. My florist assured me that her suggested alternatives would be just as a beautiful and, leaving it to the professional, I trusted all of her suggestions.

I remember getting ready the morning of the wedding, somewhat frantically running around doing 8 million things but stopped dead when the flowers were delivered. They were gorgeous – prettier than I could have ever imagined.

Janitz bridal portraits-2.jpg

And my bouquet? Breathtaking. Leading up to the wedding, I definitely questioned my own vision from time to time (totally normal for brides) but felt so happy with all of my decisions when I saw that bouquet. It was the proverbial icing on top. Holding that bouquet made me feel like a bride.

Janitz bridal portraits-10.jpg

After the wedding, Andy and I immediately started getting ready for our honeymoon to Maui and Kauai. I was incredibly excited for our trip, but kept thinking how sad it was that all of my flowers would die while we were away.

I was on a mission to preserve some of these pieces and made a special trip to my florist’s shop before embarking on our honeymoon. After talking it through with her, she provided me with a simple solution to preserve my flowers for many years to come. She even showed me her own preserved flowers from her son’s wedding – over 20 years ago!

Following her advice, this is what I did to preserve my wedding bouquet & Andy’s boutonniere (and spare boutonniere – which, by the way, is an excellent low-budget add that is totally worth having in your floral proposal should anything go awry).

Step 1

If preserving multiple flowers, tie the stems together tightly with string.

Step 2

Spray flowers lightly with hairspray.

Step 3

Hang flowers upside down in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. Closets are perfect!

Step 4

Allow them to dry for a week or two.

Step 5

Once dried, feel free to give them another dose of hairspray.

Step 6

Take them down and enjoy them forever!

I’ll admit, I’m super excited about how our florals turned out and have been enjoying displaying them in our home. They are a great every-day reminder of how perfect our wedding was and how exciting our life together is bound to be.

Wedding photography: Blushwood Studios
Floral designer: The Floral Fantasy
Wedding gown: Circa Bridal Boutique
Hair & makeup: Dayna Rae Beauty

Fudgey Chocolate Cut-out Cookies 💞🍫

Food

Chocolate cut-outs are admittedly delicious any time of year, but they are extra fun around Valentine’s Day! I made a batch of these decadent cookies this year to give away to my co-workers and family members, and left a few for my husband, of course. 😘

The dough whips up super fast and you can even make it a few days in advance. If you choose to do so, just be sure to wrap the dough in plastic wrap tightly to prevent air from getting in and drying it out.

While I’m writing this post for Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to get creative and use this recipe all year round. I love my Wilton cookie cutter set because it allows me to make cookies for literally any occasion.

Christmas, Saint Patrick’s Day, dinosaur day…no wait, that’s not a thing. But it very well could be!

Side note: this recipe produces quite a few cookies so be prepared to be a crowd pleaser!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for counter
  • 2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate melting wafers (I used Ghirardelli)

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Whisk flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder together in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Gradually mix the dry ingredients.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  6. Roll out the cookie dough on a floured counter to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut dough into heart shapes.
  7. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 7-8 minutes. The edges should be firm and the centers are slightly sod and puffed.
  8. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  9. Once cooled, melt your white chocolate according to the instructions on the package. Use a fork to drizzle the melted chocolate onto the cookies.
  10. Enjoy! 😍

Original recipe retrieved from Shutterbean.