May 26, 2015

Dinner on the Deck

  We recently refinished our backyard deck by replacing some of the boards and a much-needed fresh coat or two of stain.

Carl did the prep work and I did the painting, of course.  We make a great team!

Here is the pond and garden surrounding our deck.  The pond is right off the edge of the deck and this photo is what it looks like later in the season when all the sweet potato vines are full-grown.  We also have a japanese maple tree where the curly willow twigs used to be.  

It took a lot of patience this year to get the pond back into shape as we faced several challenges from the rough winter.  We had to replace the waterfall box, the filter, and all the piping due to freezing & cracking problems and then the loss of many fish from a pesky blue heron.  All the trees behind our pond were also lost due to severe weather and they will have to be cut down this spring, but we are happy to say that we are finally on our way to getting things back into shape.  Our neighbor was kind to offer us some beautiful flowering shade plants that they wanted to get rid of and they are starting to grow.  (Thanks, Lester & Lois!  You are a blessing!)  The challenges we faced with the pond this year were only the tip of the iceberg.  We faced several other challenges that seemed overwhelming.  Everything seemed to come at us at once.  However, we were reminded that we can trust God, one obstacle at a time and one day at a time and that He will take care of us.  He showed us his care through different people in our lives.  For this we are so thankful!

Yesterday, we decided to have dinner on the deck.  It was a beautiful day and it was nice to finally hear the tranquil sounds of the pond running again!

We had kabobs and twice-baked potatoes.  Yum!  We made the kabobs with chicken, zucchini and mushrooms, loaded them with BBQ sauce and cooked them on low heat for 20 mins.  In retrospect, they could have used some pineapple chunks or tomatoes for added color, but they were DELICIOUS!  We also made a few kabobs with the leftover chicken pieces, to add a little more meat to each of our plates.

I also had a chance to finish some small paintings this past week.  Here are the pics of them.  A few of them are still available in my etsy store.  You can see them at this link.  

May 22, 2015

A Cupcake Tradition

 Whenever we go on vacation, we have a tradition in our family to search for the best cupcakes in the area.

 A few years ago while we were in Rockport, Mass. checking out "Motif #1" for a future painting, we found a little place that made cupcakes that claimed to have cake in the frosting and frosting in the cake.  We inhaled the cupcakes and bought a few extra for the ride home.  A few weeks later, while we were all experiencing cupcake withdrawal, I decided to see if I could replicate something similar.  The cupcakes we had were chocolate mint flavored, but our family favorite is any kind with peanut butter and chocolate in the mix.  After a little practice, this is what I came up with to re-create "cake in the frosting and frosting in the cake."

Peanut Butter Frosted Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

Ingredients You Will Need

1 Butterfinger Candy Bar - Frozen
Pillsbury Chocolate Cake Mix with pudding in the mix
     (follow box directions for 24 cupcakes using Eggs, Oil, Water)
2/3 C Light Cream
1-1/2 C Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 t Vanilla Extract
1/2 C Crisco
1 C Creamy Peanut Butter
4 C 10x Powder
1/2 C Cold Light Cream


Chocolate Ganache Filling

2/3 Cup Light Cream
1-1/2 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 t Vanilla Extract

To make the ganache, heat cream to a light boil, then pour into a bowl over the chocolate chips.  Allow to sit for 2 minutes and then stir gently until smooth.  Add vanilla and stir gently (to avoid adding air bubbles).

Spread the ganache into a baking dish, cool and then refrigerate in the chill drawer for several hours until firm.


Follow the box directions and make 24 cupcakes, cool completely and then transfer them to a baking sheet and freeze for at least an hour.  The freezing process makes it easy to carve out a center hole for the ganache and will also make your cupcakes really moist!!!

Tip:  I place a pan of water in the oven underneath the cupcakes so that the tops of the cupcakes are less rounded.

When the cupcakes are slightly frozen, use a melon baller to  remove the center of the cupcake.  Keep the centers for later.


Using a small spring release cookie scoop, fill each of the cavities with ganache. Place the extra cupcake center on top and refreeze the cupcake until ready to frost.  

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 Cup Crisco 
1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter (I use Jiff)
4 Cups 10X Powder
1/2 Cup Cold Light Cream (do not use skim milk)
1 t Vanilla
Beat crisco and peanut Butter until creamy.  Gradually add 10X Powder, Cream and Vanilla (a little of each at a time) until fluffy.  Frost the cupcakes with a 1M Wilton Star Tip and frost from outside to center of cupcake.  Sprinkle with crushed Butterfinger candy bar. (I freeze the candy bar, crush in the package with a meat tenderizer and place the crumbs in a small bowl.)  

Here is a glimpse of the progress of my painting of Motif #1.

I hope you enjoy the recipe!!!

You can also see this post at:

May 5, 2015

Jr./Sr. Banquet & A Wedding Painting

This last weekend was my daughter's Jr./Sr. Banquet.  We had some fun mother-daughter time getting ready for this special time of celebration--going shopping for shoes, finding a vintage dress, doing make-up and hair, choosing flowers and accessories.

I also finished a painting for a wedding gift for friends of ours.  

"Firefly Love"