Sunday, February 8, 2015

Star Wars - Watercolor

all things belle - watercolor - star wars

Today the prompt was "robot" and of course I had to paint R2D2. I mean really, could there have been a better bot? I'm working more now without sketching and just diving into painting. It seems to be a better approach for the impressionist style that I lean to, with the sketching in advance, I can feel stifled.

all things belle - watercolor - star wars
I'm also working on Julie Balzer's month of patterns. I tend to coordinate my patterns with my doodle prompt. Princess Leia heads.. So fun!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Watercolor Adventures

all things belle - watercolor

Near the end of last year, I was really feeling the need to paint. I painted my nails, I painted cookies and suckers. I guess I knew I wanted to return to painting, but was having trouble figuring out what it is I wanted to paint. I discovered a couple of doodle and pattern prompts on Instagram. It seemed like a good way a great way to spend my mornings. 

all things belle - watercolor

I have trouble with just doodling though. I sometimes sketch, but almost always enjoy my watercolors. I've learned a lot in the daily practice and I've started receiving requests for prints. I'm taking it slow, but have started looking at reopening my Big Cartel store.

all things belle - watercolor

all things belle - watercolor

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Cookie Place Cards

Before I show my Thanksgiving Cookie Place Cards, I have to share this yummy recipe I found! It was my Mum's birthday last week and all she asked for was a carrot cake. A carrot cake for Mum? Well I had to find the very best one. I found this delicious recipe at Gimme Some Oven. Fresh grated carrots, roasted black walnuts and raisins that have been plumped.

It was such a delicious three layer cake! So beautiful - it was a perfect, autumnal birthday cake. I quickly made a little banner with some beautiful Fancy Pants Design paper to add just an extra touch of love. What is your favorite carrot cake recipe?

This week I really wanted to try making marshmallow fondant. I found a great recipe at Moms & Munchkins. Tackle this baby at least 1 day in advance before you want to use it - I found day 2 was a smashing success! And be prepared that this is a messy endeavor.. have a couple dish clothes at the ready.

Thanksgiving Cookie Place Cards - Items Needed
Batch of baked and cooled cookies
Batch of marshmallow fondant
Corn syrup
Royal icing frosting - piping consistency (frosting bag, coupler and size 2 tip)
Red and orange gel food coloring

Start out with some freshly baked cookies - any type of sugar cookie will do. I like chocolate because I think it adds some flavor dimension. I also used an oval shape - you could use anything (square, circle, turkey, etc.) You will want something that is large enough to frost a name on to.

Roll out your marshmallow fondant thinly - about 1/8" thick and cut with the same cookie cutter used earlier. You need an edible adhesive to put on the cookie to stick to the fondant. You could thinly paint corn syrup, any type of frosting or ganache. I happened to have chocolate ganache in my fridge and used that. Then layer the fondant down on top. Smooth out the sides of the fondant, pushing it on to the cookie.

Mix a small amount of fondant with orange dye and another small amount with red. Roll into a boll and smush until it is consistently colored, unless you prefer a marbled look. With a sharp knife or toothpick, cut out the shape of the leaves and carefully create a vein through the center of the leaf.

Adhere the fondant leaves to the cookies by placing a small amount of corn syrup painted on the back of the leaf.

Prepare your frosting bag with coupler and size 2 tip. Carefully write each guest's name on the cookies with royal icing and allow to dry.

These cookies do not need to be refrigerated and can be done a few days in advance. Just keep them covered in a cool, dark spot of the kitchen.

Such a fun and yummy way to set the Thanksgiving table! You can also get the younger ones involved with this. Fondant decorations can be made in advance. Simply set up a cookie station with corn syrup, new paint brushes (to be used with food only), and frosting. While you work on the the turkey and stuffing, your kids will have the best time creating these.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Turkey Treats

I pinned this treat tutorial from Candiquick almost a year ago. It has been repinned thousands of times! I figured with all this excitement over the super cute treat, I should finally try to make my own.

This last week while I was on a rare grocery trip all by myself, you know - a mother's vacation, I found these s'mores flavored candy corns. How perfect are the colors? So autumnal and just crying to be turkey feathers.

What Did I Use:
Chocolate candy wafers
Pretzel rods
Wilton toffee crunchies
S'mores flavored candy corn
White fondant writer
Blue and red candy pens

I pulled out what remaining Oreo's I had in the cupboard and grabbed some dark chocolate candy wafers. Now, candy wafers are NOT chocolate. They look like it and taste pretty good, but no, not chocolate. If you really want to dip anything in chocolate, it must be tempered and that's a bit trickier. 

When I melt candy wafers, I do it on the stove on the lowest setting. Being patient in this game will pay off dividends! If you try to speed up the process by using medium or heaven forbid, high heat - you run the risk of burning or seizing the candy. This will make it completely icky. Be patient, take it slow - gently swirl the candy wafers around until they are completely melted. It should flow nice and be easy to dunk the cookies in.

Place your pot of melted candy wafers on a hot pad and near your working station. Dunk the cookies in one at a time. When it is completely covered, use a fork or candy dipping tool to rescue your cookie. Swirl it around above the bowl and let the extra candy slide off.

Place your assembly line of candy covered Oreo's on some wax paper to dry. If they are not smooth as glass, that's completely fine - you will have so much layered on top that it won't matter.

It will take awhile for the candy chocolate to dry. Pull out your bag of candy corn and place them on the Oreos to be the feathers. This part is so easy your kids can do it.. in fact, mine did!

Once the "feathers" are on, set them aside and let them completely harden. 

For the next step you will need the long, pretzel rods and some small sprinkles for the bottom of the turkey. I had some fun Wilton Toffee Crunchies on hand, but you could use sprinkles for a cute colorful look.

You will also need a few more candy corns. Just chop off the beautiful orange-yellow bits to become the turkey's beak.

Heat some more candy wafers up just like before - nice and slow! Dip a pretezel about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way. Swirl over the bowl and gently place on top of the Oreo.

Give the candy chocolate just a second to set up, but not harden completely. Then carefully center the candy corn beak on top.

Sprinkle some toffee crunchies or sprinkles on the bottom of the pretzel.
To finish the turkey face, I used a fondant writer and candy pens. You can find these in the baking area of most craft stores. You can also use melted candy wafers or royal icing.

Two medium squirts of white for the eyes, two small squirts of blue for the pupil and a little dash of red for the gobbler.
Let it set and completely harden. My husband didn't think the pretzel could hold the weight of the Oreo and candy, but we had no issues later that night or the next day. These would be so fun to have at the kid's table on Thanksgiving, for a class party or just that special turkey in your life!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Macaron Mania

For the longest time, I planned on becoming a pastry chef. I worked in a French bakery during my undergraduate degree and moved to an apartment in Scottsdale, AZ right across from the culinary institute. Honestly I can't remember why I changed my mind. There is so much about baking and cooking that makes my heart flutter. It truly is a delightful mix of science and art. Alas, I didn't not pursue my culinary dream, but I do enjoy the time to play with it. I love the idea of mastering the more difficult delicacies like French macarons. They are light and melt in your mouth with such pleasure. You can change the flavors quite easily and they look so decadent. 

I have not mastered them, not even close. But I am having fun while I experiment. You absolutely do need a a super large round tip. On my first attempt all I had was a star tip. Those pumpkin spice meringue cookies were delicious, but hardly macaroons. I immediately bought a new tip and scoured Pinterest for some technique assistance.

And then I made these bits of heaven using the recipe from Delicious Everyday.

There are some incredibly great tips at Not So Humble Pie. Are they difficult to create? Yes, Ma'am. Are they impossible? No, of course not. And even the ones that look awful will taste divine -- my kids are pretty happy scampering off with one or two duds to enjoy. Maybe try making a few for the holidays this year!


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