Georgetown Cupcake & Bethesda Road Trip

This weekend my family took a short roadtrip to Washington DC. A little Smithsonian zoo action, yummy food, cupcakes, baseball and just enjoying the beauty of the city was so nice.
We arrived in DC and went straight to the National Zoo. If you didn’t know, it’s completely free and you just walk in and can visit all the wonderful animals including pandas, gorillas and anything else you can imagine. After our zoo visit, we headed to Georgetown University…what a beautiful campus.
Below is a photo of the bell tower.

We stayed near downtown Bethesda. What a cute little town. Lots of adorable boutique shops and wonderful places to eat.
 Below are just a few of the shops in the area to give you an idea how cute it is.

Yes…even an Apple store 🙂
Downtown Bethesda even had my fave bakery, Le Pain Quotidien. Blake and I had a 
yummy breakfast there.

Just down the street was one of my favorite paper and stationery stores Paper Source. I thought the paper flower below would look pretty neat on a cake made out of fondant.
I wanted to buy all their beautiful paper!

Awesome inspiration on the wall 🙂
 
Had to stop and get a  bagel at Bethesda Bagels since there was a line out the door. 
I figured they had to be pretty awesome.

Main mission accomplished of getting to Georgetown Cupcake. I was there when they opened at 10am and there were already people waiting at the door to go in. The girl in front of me asked me if I knew the secret code word of the day…I had no clue. She said they post it on their Facebook page and give a free cupcake to the 1st 100 people who come in and say it. Yes…I got my freebie!
I ordered a dozen cupcakes in a variety of flavors. The flavors below are chocolate with coconut frosting, chocolate with chocolate ganache frosting and chocoloate with a fudge frosting. I think the coconut was my favorite. The cake was delicious and very moist. The frostings were pretty sweet but yummy in moderation.

 
 I would highly recommend taking a trip to downtown Bethesda. Super adorable…you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Published in Susquehanna Style Magazine

I am so excited to share that I have two weddings featured in the current issue of Susquehanna Style Magazine. I was also invited to research and write an editorial piece called “How Cute is That”. You can pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
 The cover photo is just precious.

 Sarah and Kevin’s wedding which took place at King’s Gap is featured. 
Jessi and Jason’s beautiful wedding is also featured. I designed the cake along with a 
sweets table which included gourmet doggie favors. Click here to see my blog post.

 Here’s my editorial piece! I had the opportunity to find amazing details from 
weddings in the area. The selections were organized by season. It was so much fun 
working on this piece.
Spring inspirations…
 Fall inspirations….

Winter inspirations…
Be sure to pick up a copy to see more amazing weddings and inspiring ideas!
Click here to view the Susquehanna Style Ezine online.

Fieldtrip to Maggpie Vintage Rentals

Today I took a field trip with the Weddings by JDK design team to visit Maggpie Vintage Rentals. They are located in the Wilkes Barre area, so it was about a two hour drive, but so worth the trip. Maggie and her fiance Jason started a vintage furniture rental business which is the only one of it’s kind in the tri-state area. If you want vintage mismatch chairs and china for all of your wedding guests, this is the place to get it!
Their current showroom is in a magnificent old home with spectacular architectural detailing. Maggpie has a wonderful selection of beautiful sofas, upholstered chairs, vintage suitcases and much more. Really…everything you would need to create the perfect decor for a vintage style wedding.
 Below is a beautiful vanity that I could totally see a cake and sweets on.
Here is just a partial collection of their mismatch chairs. You can view their entire selection on their website.
Their two adorable dogs are certainly an important part of their business! 
We know who’s in charge 🙂
As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of Maggpie. If you are looking for pieces for a vintage, shabby chic or farmhouse glam wedding, stop by and take a peak at their site.
I’m super excited that I will be featuring some of Maggpie’s pieces in my exhibit area at the AACA Wedding show in Hershey on February 19th, so please stop by. Click here for show details.

What a great day of inspiration with Amanda, Emma and Erika. (Thank you Erika for driving.)

Tips to Making Pretty Royal Iced Holiday Cookies

Every year at Christmas time, I love making cookies for my friends and family. This year I tried a new recipe from Fancy Flours that is fantastic. The recipe is below or you can click here to go to their website.
Here are some of the final cookies. Read on for some helpful tips to make these yummy cookies.
 
Use a stand mixer to get the best results with your dough. The consistency of the dough will be pretty soft.
Here’s a tip that I loved from their recipe. Plop a large dollop of dough onto a piece of parchment paper and place another piece of parchment on top.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough between the two pieces of parchment paper. OMG…no flour all over the place! I recommend purchasing parchment paper in sheets from your local restaurant supply store versus buying it at the grocery store. It is much less expensive, you get about 100 sheets per pack and it’s flat which is the biggest benefit.
I placed the rolled out sheets in the freezer.  After chilling for a bit, I pealed one sheet off of the dough, then flipped it over the pealed the other sheet off. I then placed the dough back on a piece of parchment. I did this to prevent any sticking to the paper when cutting. It worked great! I did roll my dough pretty thin, and would suggest rolling to about 1/8 inch thick or a bit thicker. Make sure the dough is chilled when cutting.
I placed the cut cookies onto parchment paper and baked them on cookie sheets. I never bake cookies directly on the trays…they tend to stick and baking on parchment will prevent sticking, plus your trays don’t get dirty. I love this recipe because the cookies did not spread at all. It’s the worst when you bake cut out cookies and they look like unidentifiable blobs when they come out of the oven.
I used Martha Stewart’s royal icing recipe which turned out very nicely. I’m not big on piping and flooding…mainly because it takes so long and I don’t really like the outlines on the cookies. I just use a very small spoon (like a baby spoon) and place the icing right onto the cookie and use the spoon to spread it around. I also use a small brush to move the frosting around for detail areas. To create the pretty line pattern, all you have to do is pipe straight lines horizontally in red and get a toothpick and drag lines vertically from bottom to top. You will get this pretty pattern very easily.

 
Yes…these cookies are a bit of work but so much fun to make and a holiday tradition I love!
 The recipe for the cookie dough from Fancy Flours is below. 
Happy holiday baking! It’s still not too late to start 🙂
Delicious Sugar Cookie Recipe
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
This is a great recipe when using cookie cutters. It doesnt spread! Your cookies will be the same shape after you bake them as they were before.
Note that this recipe makes up to 4 – 6 dozen.
Cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and flavoring. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well.
Put a handful of the freshly made dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to desired thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put the rolled dough, including the parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes or longer. Your dough will be chilled and ready to cut and bake with no wait and no added flour! Repeat the process with scraps after cutting cookies.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on rack.
—————
Royal Icing
1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
5 tablespoons meringue powder or 2 large egg whites
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Gingerbread Man Decorating with Blake

On my last visit to Trader Joe’s I bought their “Really Big” Gingerbread Man Kit. My four year old had a blast today using his impeccable decorating skills to create this beautiful cookie.

Yes…I am plugging Trader Joe’s with the hope they will put a store in closer to me!
 
It all begins with the hair, eyes, nose and mouth of course.
 
 Here is my son displaying the piping and decorating skills I have been teaching him.
 Yes, as a professional 4 year old decorator you must sample the royal icing directly out of the piping bag.
 Lots of sprinkles are a must when decorating a giant gingerbread man.
 Lots of perfectly placed M&M’s too!
 The final result is this beautiful gingerbread man we will all enjoy eating!
Happy Holidays from Blake 🙂


Jessica & Jarred’s Charming Fall Wedding

 Jessica and Jarred were so much fun to work with. They were married and had their reception at the charming barn at Wind at the Willows in Grantville. Jessica and Jarred found their invitation design and coordinating stationery pieces on Etsy. The dangling vines of hearts and rustic theme inspired the cupcake, cake and table design.
I incorporated the dangling vines from the stationery on the cake. The cupcake tower was placed on a low wooden stump and the additional cupcakes were placed on stumps surrounding the tower.  Each cupcake was decorated a with a sugar blossom that coordinated with their wedding colors. The adorable wooden bird cake toppers were the perfect touch.
The charming burlap bunting looked perfect with the rustic decor. Like I always say, 
it’s all about the details.
 
The florals were designed by Queen Bee Floral Design. I’ve had the opportunity 
to work with them quite a bit this year and I really love their work.
 Here is the adorable couple. I love the red bridesmaid’s dresses and the colorful bouquets.
Congratulations again to Jessica and Jarred!!
A special thanks to Valerie Newman Photography for letting me share her photos.
 Vendors:
Venue: The Barn at Wind in the Willows
717.469.0887, Dave and Pam: graybill4@hotmail.com