Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Angel Food Cupcakes

When I pinned this recipe a few months ago, it was only because I thought they looked pretty. I wasn't certain that I'd ever make them.

But when Easter rolled around, and I needed a dessert to make for dinner, these angel food cupcakes came to mind first. Due to my time constraints, I swapped out the homemade version for a box mix. The box mix produced delicious, light, and airy cupcakes. I was pleased.

The original recipe can be found here.


Angel Food Cupcakes

Ingredients
1 box angel food cake mix
1-1/4 cups water

For the whipped icing (or you could use prepackaged whipped icing):
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries (optional)

Preparation
1. Prepare the cake according to package directions. Instead of pouring batter in a tube pan, pour into lined or sprayed cupcake tins, filling 2/3 full.

2. Bake according to package directions. Allow to cool completely before applying the icing.

3. Using a knife or a piping bag, apply icing to the cupcakes. I like to use a piping bag for a more elegant look. If you don't have a piping bag, place icing in a quart-size freezer bag, snip off a corner, and squeeze icing out of the bag.

4. Place fresh berries on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Reflections on Spring Break

Last week my daughters were home from school on spring break. Nine blissful, consecutive days in a row without school.

It was utopia.

While I watched Facebook "friends" post a constant barrage of photos of 24/7 activities they were doing with their kids, I sat back and smirked. We had purposefully made no plans. I've been there. I've done that. You can see here, here, here, and here how our spring break was packed to the gills with plans a few years ago.

Sometimes we need to slow down, to take a breather from a life that is already hectic and fast-paced. We live in a world that moves at lightning speed. We are so accustomed to moving with it that we often forget to take a breather.

We spent mornings lounging around in PJs savoring our favorite treats.


We spent sunny afternoons at the park, swinging for hours and climbing the jungle gyms.



We took long walks at a reservoir and at the beach.



We ate frozen yogurt and drank smoothies until we nearly burst.


This relaxing spring break has taught me that a break should be just that, a break. It should be a chance to slow down and take a departure from our otherwise busy lives. No plans, no alarms going off, no reminders popping up on my phone. It felt good to take a break, and it was a reminder that I need to do so more often.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Five Ways To Wear a White Blazer #FashionFriday

Each season, I make a list of a few key fashion items that I want to purchase. At the top of this season's list was a white blazer. Crisp and incredibly versatile, the white blazer can be paired with just about any item in your wardrobe.

Here are 5 ways to style this wardrobe staple.

5 Ways To Wear a White Blazer



1. With Boyfriend Jeans (This happens to be my favorite way to wear a white blazer. I love the clean look).

White Blazer with Boyfriend Jeans


Blazer / Tank / Jeans / Clutch / Shoes


2. With a Flare Skirt

White Blazer with a Flare Skirt

Blazer / Tank / Skirt / Clutch / Shoes / Bracelet


3. With a Peasant Skirt

How To Wear a White Blazer with a Peasant Skirt

Blazer / Tank / Necklaces / Skirt / Bag / Sandals



4. With Trousers
How To Wear a White Blazer with Trousers
Blazer / Top / Tote / Shoes / Trousers / Bracelet


5. With Shorts

How To Wear a White Blazer With Shorts

To see all the latest in fashion trends, check out other Fashion Friday participants including All Things Chic's spotlight on the rose gold jewelry trend.

Objects of My Obsession

Easter weekend is upon us. I am excited to spend some quality time with family. Tomorrow is my great-nephew's first birthday party, and Sunday we will be hosting Easter dinner.

I am looking forward to unplugging for the weekend and totally chilling.

Have a great weekend and enjoy this week's obsessions.

{Loving these anchor sandals for summer}

{I'm saving this pretty wrapping paper for my daughter's upcoming 12th birthday. She'll love it!}


{This adorable sticker greets our guests before we even open the door}


{My latest lunch obsession: warm ravioli salad, iced tea, and a magazine}


{Spring flowers on days when it feels nothing like spring}

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Printed Invitations From Simply To Impress

I have always loved stationary. Invitations, note cards, journals, and notebooks make me happy. Their smell, their texture, and what they represent are just a few of the things I love about them.

But in this technological age, so many people have lost touch with the art of stationary. Most people reserve this art exclusively for holiday cards and wedding invitations. But I love to send a special thank you or an invitation any chance I get.

Our youngest daughter will be celebrating the sacrament of her First Holy Communion in a few weeks, and I thought it would be the perfect occasion to have some invitations printed for the special occasion.

When I bought my MacBook a few months ago, there was a coupon code for Simply To Impress included in the package. It was generous, $25 off any order. I knew we'd be inviting only family, and thus, we'd need only a small number of invitations plus a few to save as keepsakes.

I hopped on www.simplytoimpress.com to take a look. I was pleasantly surprised. The invitations were beautiful, and there were so many designs to choose from. It didn't take me long to scroll through the designs to find one I loved. 

I placed the order and waited patiently for the invitations to arrive. Simply To Impress generously upgraded my shipping, and I received the package within two days.

I was, no pun intended, simply impressed. The invitations and the customer service exceeded my expectations. Although it's difficult to tell from this picture, the card stock is high quality. It's not flimsy or cheap.

{Some information has been censored}

If you have a need for printed invitations, note cards, or thank you cards, I recommend at least giving Simply To Impress a look.

This is not a sponsored post. I wanted to share the pleasurable experience I had ordering from Simply To Impress with the readers of Pieces of a Mom.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DIY Wine Cork Chalkboard

I love DIY projects that are relatively easy and don't need a ton of supplies. I don't have the patience required for long, drawn out projects that require several trips to the craft store to stock up on the supplies.



When I came across this DIY wine cork chalkboard, I thought it would be perfect for my short craft attention span.


I've been collecting wine corks for years, mostly for sentimental reasons, but I had a feeling they'd be useful one day.

They certainly came in handy for this project.

Supplies You'll Need:

  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Wine corks (number will vary depending on the size of the chalkboard
  • One chalkboard (any size), preferably one with a wooden frame around the perimeter
  • Large piece of posterboard or newspaper to use as a work surface




Instructions:
1. Start by arranging the corks around the perimeter of the chalkboard. Place the corks in the pattern that you'll want them to appear in the finished product. Slowly slide them off the frame and place them to the side, being careful to keep them in order.


2. Pick a corner and start there. Place a generous amount of glue on a cork and firmly place on the border. Hold in place for a few seconds. Continue gluing the corks around the perimeter of the chalkboard until you have finished.

3. Once all corks are firmly glued in place, allow to dry for one hour. Once the frame is dry, write a fun sentiment on the chalkboard and place it on display.
Click HERE to see more DIY projects that I've tackled.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 2014 Birchbox Deconstructed

One of the things I love about my monthly Birchbox subscription is the element of surprise. Some months I am pleasantly surprised and others are a bit of a let down.

This month was a tough call. I'd have to say I was split down the middle. Loved half of the items and as for the other half, well, let's just say it was "meh".


Here's what was sent to me (in order of what I liked most):

1. BeeKind Body Lotion (Received a sample. Full size, $15)
This lotion which is made with honey and organic chamomile sinks deep into your skin to restore moisture.
My thoughts: Loved the light, earthy scent, and the reasonable price.

2. Sumita Color Intense Eye Pencil (Received a sample. Full size, $11)
A soft wax liner pencil that delivers rich, long lasting color that won't irritate eyes.
My thoughts: I haven't found many eye liners that are irritating, but I did like that this one didn't bleed and make me look like a raccoon halfway through the day.

3. Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine (Received a sample. Full size, $65 - $170)
This versatile, distinctive citrus blend lasts all day...and then some.
My thoughts: I liked the scent and the fact that it didn't wear off after an hour or two. But I can't get past the hefty price tag.

4. KIND Snacks Healthy Grains Bar - Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt (Received one. 15-count, $11.88)
A perfect combination of salty and sweet with a whole-grain punch.
My thoughts: Seriously, Birchbox? I can buy this in my grocery store.

5. Color Club Gala's Gems Collection Nail Polish in Gold Struck
This exclusive shimmery shade is available only through Birchbox.
My thoughts: I don't do shimmery nail polish, so this was not for me. I gave it to my 8 year old who loved it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday :: 4.14.14

This week is spring break. The kids are home from school all week, and the Hubs isn't traveling this week. So, I am planning for family dinners that hopefully everyone will enjoy.


Monday - Pork brasciole that the Hubs picked up from our local butcher.



Thursday - Escarole and bean soup (I'll be adding sliced pepperoni to this recipe)

Friday - Potato galette (I've been itching to make this recipe for a long time.) with a side salad.

Saturday - My great nephew's first birthday party.

Sunday - Easter

Menu planning doesn't have to be a chore! For inspiration and to see what others are eating this week, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. To see all of my menu plans, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Fab Finds

It's Friday, and it's 66 degrees Fahrenheit! I'm excited! After I hit publish on this post, I'm off to pick up an iced coffee from a local coffee shop and then I'm hitting up a local jewelry store to spend a gift certificate I got for Christmas.

Enjoy this week's five fab finds. Have a great weekend!

{Pretty Parisian-inspired thank you cards for thoughtful friends}

{A pretty place to keep my favorite magazines. Found at Marshalls}

{Fresh flowers to brighten up rainy April days}


{Much needed help for my hair in between trims}

{Loving this chambray blazer as a dressier alternative to my chambray shirt}

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Nothing much beats the taste of warm coffee cake in the morning. I like to make this recipe on special occasions such as Christmas morning, but it's perfect any day of the year, especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings.


Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sour cream

For the topping:
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, chopped and chilled

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan.

2. To prepare the topping, place the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix with your hands or a fork. Add the butter and continue working with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Divide into 2 equal parts, about 1/2 cup each.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each is added.

5. In another large bowl, sift the dry ingredients:j flour, soda, powder.

6. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture in three batches, alternating adding sour cream between each batch. Fold until the mixture is well blended.

7. Pour half of the batter into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle one half of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture on top of the batter.

8. Drop the remaining batter by heaping spoonfuls on top of the topping and spread to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of topping over the top.

9. Bake for 60 minutes or until browned. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.