Just Eat It: Pumpkin Coffee Cake

The other day, I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s wonderfully delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, and as per usual, they did not disappoint. Even my mom, who is a pumpkin hater, enjoyed one. The only problem with making something that calls for pumpkin puree is that if it doesn’t call for the entire can, and you’re dangerously close to grocery shopping day and therefore without foil to cover it, it gets gross after a couple days.

So after looking up pumpkin muffins and realizing I didn’t have cream cheese (again, dangerously close) and realizing I didn’t have a doughnut pan for pumpkin doughnuts or buttermilk for pumpkin doughnut muffins, I landed on a recipe I’ve used before and loved – Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake from Joyful Healthy Eats. Her photos and step-by-step directions make it easy to follow early in the morning and before coffee.

Photo Credit: Krista / Joyful Healthy Eats

Photo Credit: Krista / Joyful Healthy Eats

And if you happen to have all the ingredients like I did (well, I had almost all of them), it’s free to make. And even if you have to pick up a couple, you’re still paying less for just one slice at any bakery or coffee shop. Here are the ingredients:

  • 2½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ¾ cup of canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup of finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

You can click on the photo I posted above or here for the full recipe. The only change I made is that I didn’t have pecans and I was feeling adventurous, so I used the little remainder of walnuts I had and filled the rest of the cup with pumpkin granola. I was a little nervous about how the substitution would turn out, but I really like it!

One little square filled me up enough but didn’t make me feel too full and it had just enough spice to not overwhelm people who may not enjoy pumpkin as much as I/you do. This is actually the only pumpkin recipe I can get the majority of my family to eat, especially after the pumpkin explosion that happened last year.

SONY DSC

My rendition. Looks a little sloppier but tastes gooood!

What are you baking? Is it a recipe shared from your family, something you created or something you found in a cookbook/blog? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Meet the Maker: Amy Cluck-McAlister of Amy is the Party

meet the maker amyAmy Cluck-McAlister, whom I met two years ago when she donated some wonderful handmade jewelry to a fundraiser I was organizing, is a creative force to be reckoned with in the Sacramento indie community. She runs Amy is the Party, where she shares party styling ideas, DIY projects and the places and people she loves in Sacramento. She is also the founder of IndieSacramento – an online gathering of local creatives. She also happens to be doing all the behind-the-scenes design work on my new blog platform, which will be launched next week!

Today, I’m so pleased and honored to share a little more about her!

First, tell us a little about yourself!

Hello there, I’m Amy! I am a web designer with a passion for parties, decor, and desserts.

Some might say I was born in the wrong era. I believe in home cooked meals – in thank you cards – in baking from scratch. I strive to be the “hostess with the mostess”. I couldn’t agree more with Julia Child when she said “A party without cake is just a meeting” – although I think it’s perfectly fine to substitute cake with cupcakes or pie (or whatever dessert you find fitting). I also believe in creating memories – special moments of time that your friends and family will carry with them, long after the celebration is over. I believe in celebrating everyday with the little bits of joy that living creatively can bring.

As a blogger, entrepreneur, and web designer, I have been involved with both the online and local crafting community for several years.  A socially awkward socialite, I spend my free time supporting small businesses and events in my hometown of Sacramento, CA. I also enjoy searching for vintage treasures and indulging in the shenanigans of my husband and two cats.

Image Credit: Amy Cluck McCallister. DIY Tassel Necklace and Bohemian Bracelet. Click the photo for the full tutorial.

Image Credit: Amy Cluck McCallister / DIY Tassel Necklace and Bohemian Bracelet / Click the photo for the full tutorial!

How did you get into graphic/web design?

I took a commercial art class in high school. We mostly made posters and learned calligraphy but I knew that I wanted to use my artistic skills for advertising or something along those lines. I took a few graphic design and beginning web classes at American River (Community College) while getting my general ed out of the way. By the time I graduated, I knew I was specifically interested in designing for on-screen (computers). The closest degree program that Sac State offered was Graphic Design so I stuck with that for a year until I saw that a new Multimedia program was being added. I quickly changed majors! The Multimedia program sort of focused on making interactive CDs, which isn’t a really a thing nowadays. It’s hard to predict the direction technology will take us! When you get into something like graphic and web design, you have to be flexible and you have to continually educate yourself on new techniques.

What about entertaining and DIY’ing?

Both my parents and my grandmas on both sides were into DIYing different things. I grew up making handmade Christmas gifts and baking dozens of cookies for the neighbors. I lived for holidays and family get-togethers. I didn’t think about it much, plus I don’t think it was considered cool to be into domestic stuff when I was younger. After graduating college, I started to get back into crafting a bit. Then I started finding all these people online who were into making items that were actually trendy and I felt really inspired. This was about 10 years ago when sites like Craftster and GetCrafty were just starting.  I jumped right in and started making and selling jewelry. I gradually started to gravitate towards party planning since it incorporates all of my loves: baking, dessert styling, decorating, DIY, and graphic design.

What pushed you to start your blog?

Finding other people who were making crafts and selling them really inspired me. It seemed like a lot of those people were starting blogs and I wanted to be a part of it too, not just to show off what I was making but to show off what other people were making as well.

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck-McCallister / DIY Hostess Gift Tags / Click the Photo for the full tutorial

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck-McCallister / DIY Hostess Gift Tags / Click the Photo for the full tutorial!

What is your creative process like?

I come up with ideas, scribble them on post-it notes, lose the post-it notes, forget some of the ideas, and don’t have anywhere near enough time to follow through with all the ideas that I don’t forget about! Occasionally, I actually get to follow through on something. I’m an impatient crafter but I’m also a perfectionist. Sometimes I forget to enjoy the creating process because I’m so excited to get to the end result.

What inspired you to start Indie Sacramento?

A couple national craft shows (Bazaar Bizarre and Renegade) popped up that were different from any craft show I had been to before (“not your gramdma’s craft fair” as they would say). The vendors made trendy items that I would actually wear or display in my home. Both shows were located in San Francisco (as well as other cities) but not Sacramento. I had started networking with local crafters and I knew we had enough local talent to put a show like that on here so I started IndieSacramento.

I felt like IndieSacramento was a pretty successful event, but it was also A LOT of work and a lot of stress. I decided that an online collective of local crafters was the way to go so I quit holding craft shows and choose to expand the website instead. Of course, now I have other ideas of what I’d like to do with the site but there never seems to be enough time!

How do you feel about the creative community in Sacramento?

I’m really proud of how our creative community has grown in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago when we were in need of a venue for “alternative” crafters and artists to sell their goods at. Now we’ve got all kinds of events like the Indie Craft Fair and GOOD, just to name a couple. I’m also really impressed with the amount of networking I’ve noticed among talented individuals in different industries – we’ve got bloggers and crafters, boutique owners, restaurateurs, photographers, event planners, etc. all working together to promote each other to put on awesome events together.

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck - McCallister / Amy's DIY Wedding / Click the photo for the full details

Photo Credit: Amy Cluck – McCallister / Amy’s DIY Wedding / Click the photo for all the details!

Favorite places to get your supplies (craft, party, etc) in town?

Wrapped All Up is a really fun warehouse type place that carries every kind of ribbon or wrapping you could want. The Paper Garden is a great place to get inspiration for paper crafting – plus they also carry some fun washi tapes and baker’s twine that you can’t get anywhere else locally.

If somebody wanted to start working on DIY projects, where would you tell them to go first?

There are so many resources, it’s hard to say! Brit.co is one of my recent favorites because they feature a variety of trendy and easy projects. I would also suggest joining a crafty forum or two. Cut Out + Keep is one of my favorites. You can check out other peoples projects and tutorials, network with people, and upload your own projects.

My husband and I just bought our first home (yay!) so I’m sure amy is the party will start featuring more home decorating projects (just like I started featuring more wedding related content before we got married). I think my blog will always branch out to fit my current interests, as long as it’s still related to entertaining and creative living.

Click the photo for the full DIY

Click the photo for the full DIY!

My plan is for IndieSacramento to include small businesses of all types, not just crafters. It will be kind of a directory for people to shop local and to find unique and fun businesses to support.

You can find out more about Amy and all the awesome things she’s doing at Amy is the Party. Want to be featured in Meet the Maker or know a special someone who should be featured? Leave a comment here and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Yo Momma Monday: Tiffany Reese of Lookie Boo

yo momma mondayA while ago, a photographer friend of mine posted some photos she took of two adorable and stylish kids for her friend’s website. Through some serious social media stalking, I met Tiffany Reese, who runs Lookie Boo – a website dedicated to styling for littles, parties included.

Tiffany, 28, resides Roseville, CA and has lived in Northern California her entire life, although she moved around a lot growing up. She is the mama to those two adorable kids – Jude (4), Ruby (3) and is expecting baby #3 in February.

“We LOVE Roseville, its very conveniently located to things, the schools are wonderful and there is always tons of stuff to do with the kids.”

A stay-at-home mom, Tiffany was planning on going back to work full-time when Jude was two. However, just before his second birthday, Jude was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and was officially diagnosed with Autism last year.

Image from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

Photo Credit: Ryan Doyle Photography

“With his special needs, I have needed to stay home longer and couldn’t be happier with the doors this has opened.”

After Ruby was born, Tiffany needed a creative outlet.

“I studied Fashion Design in school and since having children I had become obsessed with tiny clothing. I decided to start a blog combining my two biggest passions, fashion & my kids and Lookie Boo was born”

For Tiffany, the feeling of community is her favorite thing about the blogging world.

Image from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

Photo Credit: Amanda Rose Photography

“I have lots of blogging friends I’ve met over the years now and I speak to some of them on a daily basis now. I’d say the aspect I dislike is the ego of some people you can run into, but that can exist anywhere I suppose.

I have too many favorites but my friend Morgan at the818.com really motivated me to start a “real blog” and has really mentored me along the way without ever asking for anything in return. She is the same person online and offline, she is brutally honest in a thrilling and hilarious way. “

Since her kids are anti-naps, Tiffany gets mos of her work done on her phone while she’s on the go, and when they are in preschool or after they go to bed.

“Summer is the most challenging time because the kids are home all day and we all just want to play and ignore my email.”

Image from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

Photo Credit: Amanda Rose Photography

When Jude’s first birthday was approaching, Tiffany wanted an original theme, so she started styling her own parties. And with a name like Jude, a Beatles Themed First Birthday was the perfect fit. And totally awesome.

“The response was really great and I loved doing it so much, I just kept planning the next party. Now I’m styling for clients too, its so fun! I try really hard to base the parties around what the kids ask for now, for example Ruby’s most recent birthday she wanted a “flower kitten” party, considering how random it was, I liked the outcome.”

Through her blog and other outlets, Tiffany has been very vocal about her experience with Autism.

Honestly, I just want them to know that children with Autism come in all different “packages”. I can’t tell you how many times people have said, “He doesn’t seem Autistic”.

I think they usually mean it as a compliment, however I find it as an example of how ignorant we still are about Autism. I am still learning every day. I’ve so appreciated the connections I’ve made with other families online and in person.”

Ruby’s Spring Kitten Party / Photo Credit: Amanda Rose Photography

Tiffany says that her family’s sense of humor is what makes them unique.

“It is simply required in our household. If you scream and throw a tantrum, someone is probably going to mock you. If you poop your pants, we will all laugh together. That is how we handle the not so pleasant parts of life.”

And when they need to unwind…

“Usually I’d say drink straight vodka once a month but you know, I’m pregnant so now I just eat cookies. My husband Michael is a chef and is at his restaurant A LOT.

We honestly don’t get much time together and if we do, we like to spoil the kids or watch football. When I’m home by myself in the evenings and I want to unwind, I usually watch horrible television like Real Housewives and feel better about myself.”

Image from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

Image from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

While she would like to find some more affordable small businesses to support locally, her favorite stores in Roseville are H&M, BabyGap, Target, Old Navy and thrift stores. As for her parties, she partners with other Etsy shops and loves Shop Sweet Lulu, but still does a lot of DIY – especially for clients.

Tiffany opened her own store last year, but it proved to be too much for her family at the time.

“Once all my kiddos are in at least Preschool, I’m hoping to be able to dedicate more time to the site on a full time basis and hopefully have the income to hire staff as well. My ultimate dream of dreams would be to design a line inspired by and for my kids”

Meanwhile, she loves featuring kids on her blog, and says all the parents need to do is use #lookieboo on Instagram, or e-mail her.

“That’s my favorite part of my job!”

Image from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

Her advice for new moms is to be gentle with yourself.

Sometimes you get all the things done and sometimes you sob into your wine glass at 10:37pm because you’ve had a hard day and you think you’re the worst Mom ever.”

And what does she hope her kids will learn from her?

“Love. To love others and themselves.”

Photo from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

Photo from Tiffany Reese/Lookie Boo

Visit Tiffany’s website to find out more about her family and Lookie Boo! Know an awesome mom who would be perfect for this? Leave a comment here and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Friday Finds

Social media can be such a time suck. I won’t say how many times I found myself staring pointlessly at a computer screen while my daughter’s napping – ignoring all the other productive things I could be doing – and that’s mostly because there are too many to count. On the more positive side, social media and networking can also open up a whole new world to you, filled with people, things and food that you were unaware that even existed. As a stay-at-home mom, I don’t get to venture out to find new things like I used to, and I rely primarily on my social feeds to deliver them right to me via my phone or computer.

Such is the case with all the finds I have for this week:

Image from Sacramento Flea Market

Image from Sacramento Flea Market

Sacramento is getting a Flea Market! Opening in January 2015, there is over 16,000 square feet of indoor and over 20,000 square feet of outside vending. There will be new and used stuff, produce, food and drinks and even live music on the weekends! Triple score! Oh, and the entrance, parking and even the concerts are all free. Yes. I’m so excited to see how this progresses and I’ve already got my list ready.

Image from Hops and Dots

Image from Hops and Dots

I am really digging how the craft beer scene in Sacramento is expanding, and this also includes craft beer bloggers. Hops and Dots is a beer blog run by Nat, who covers breweries in Sacramento and beyond. I was introduced to her blog by Beers in Sac by way of Facebook, and I’m so happy that I found it.

Image from NellieBellie

Image from NellieBellie

I spent a good while looking up sugar free cakes on Pinterest yesterday. Not because I’m on a sugar-free kick – that would mean I would have to give up the pints of ice cream and cookies I’ve been devouring lately – but because my brother can’t have sugar. And it happens to be his birthday next weekend, so I’ve decided to make him a cake. This might be the first nice thing I’ve done for him. I love this recipe from NellieBellie because I can use pumpkin (it calls for butternut squash or pumpkin – and pumpkin wins all, for me) and it’s all real ingredients – no fake sugar stuff over here! It looks super delicious.

What are your favorite finds of the week? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramGoogle + and Pinterest!

Hey I finished a project!

Yard sales are good for the soul, and for the house. I should have one every month. My mom is having one next week and I cleared out so much stuff that I was hoarding to prepare for the sale. Because of that, I found a bunch of fabric that I love and can’t wait to work with, and a lot of my old concert and band tees that I wanted to make a quilt with long, long ago. That dream is a little dead now…but I have a few ideas for what I want to do with them.

I also finally finished my chalkboard project, and actually baked something. I got an oatmeal cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and they turned out so wonderful and moist! I substituted the raisins for blueberries since I was out of raisins, and while her recipe says to bake for 10 minutes, I had to bake for 15 since my oven is a little funky.

10538681_1389727607938469_1318935655_nSo, here’s how I made the chalkboard:

IMG_2497First, I took a simple frame I got from the thrift store for $1. Then I painted it with some acrylic paint that had been left in my car for wayyy too long. So, naturally that exploded everywhere. Luckily, I happen to buy a lot of teal paint so I had some back-up and after A LOT of cleaning, I was able to resurrect my project.

IMG_2555Since the frame had an indented line on it already, I used a gold paint pent to do the line and left one side blank to add some fancy stuff to it. Unfortunately, the paint pen was too thick and not I couldn’t simply wipe it when I made a mistake. So, I painted over it and chose to do a yellow line. The yellow ended up not working since it was so light and I had to paint multiple coats, which made it look thick and chunky…not the look I was going for.

IMG_2561So, after I cleaned that up a little…I found a sort of salmon pink that I liked, and covered the yellow with that. I chose to do little diamonds on the side I left blank. They are by no means perfect, but they will do!

IMG_2652While that was drying, I used a few coats of chalk paint to paint the backboard. And ta-da! It’s a chalkboard!

Have a project you want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

My Healthy Life: Banana-Blueberry Chocolate Shake Recipe

Any time I hear the words “healthy shake,” I cringe just thinking about the existence of protein powder in the drink. Protein powder is fine if that’s what you’re into, but why do you have to mess up a perfectly delightful beverage with it! So, when I saw that Laura from A Beautiful Mess posted a new healthy chocolate shake recipe, I was a little hesitant.

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

Photo from A Beautiful Mess

As it turns out, this chocolate shake had no sign of protein powder anywhere, and it was indeed – as described – healthy and delicious! I had a hankering for chocolate and knew that this was probably a better choice for me than the Girl Scout cookies I had been devouring for the last couple weeks.

I decided to add blueberries to mine, and since I was making it for someone else too (promise), I increased the portions.

  • 1 frozen, ripe banana 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (crunchy or smooth) 2 tablespoons peanut butter (it’s what I had)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 2/3 cup coconut milk (again, what I had)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

I used my ghetto blender and for once – it didn’t threaten to blow up! I just blended for about two minutes until it was nice and smooth, and voila!

This banana blueberry chocolate shake was delicious. And healthy. And delicious.

This banana blueberry chocolate shake was delicious. And healthy. And delicious.

Since I used up the last of my peanut butter in recipe and I LOVE me some peanut butter, it’s the perfect time to make my own!

Do you have any recipes that are delicious and surprisingly healthy? Did you try this recipe? Share your link in the comments and on social media!

Weekly Wishes

weekly wishesSomething happened last week that hasn’t happened in a long time. I sat down and methodically planned out my goals and I achieved each and every one of them. Come to think of it, I don’t think that has ever happened! And I know what was different. I kept it simple. I made simple and meaningful goals that I really hoped to conquer, and then I just did it. I gave myself time for my blogging, my crafting, my baking, and most of all…the house, my daughter and myself.

Last week’s wishes:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog (Ok, this one I’m still working on)
  • Finish my cork board
  • Write on my blog daily
  • Start my coffee can planter project
  • Make one recipe from scratch
  • Practice yoga once 
  • Update products on Sweet Mariposa

I was able to finish the cork board that I have seriously been kind of working on since Summer. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I still love it. And now that I have the hang of it, I see a lot more cork/chalkboards in my future! Even though it took a super long time, I loved working on it here and there and having a big project looming over me. Made it all the more wonderful when it was done.

IMG_1281

All done!

I gave myself a couple hours to write out my blog daily when my daughter was napping. I’ve gotten in the habit of writing the next day’s post the night before, but since she has been staying up later, that has been difficult. I figure that if I give myself one or two hours of doing things I love, I’m much a more pleasant person to be around. So it’s for the good of my family that I do this.

b6b58406817a11e38aca0e51ab9d14d3_8

And I started AND finished my coffee can planter today! I didn’t even know it was possible to start and finish something in one day anymore. Luckily, my daughter happens to have a loving and amazing grandpa who will spend any moment he can with her, so he entertained her while I got stuff done today. I’m really going to miss him when we move!

While I didn’t make all of the ingredients from scratch (ain’t nobody got time for that), I did make three – count that, THREE – recipes from scratch this week. I know! Crazy, right? I made some delicious cookies and coffee cake for the house and then some cookies for my friend’s birthday. I was kind of amazed by the Betty Crocker I was channeling this week.

IMG_1285

And I finally practiced some yoga! It had been so long and I needed a good yoga session. I did some restorative yoga with Erin Motz and DoYouYoga.com right before bed, and my back popped the moment I got down to stretch. That’s when I was reminded of how much I needed it.

IMG_1267

And finally, I got to listing Kandyce’s items on our Sweet Mariposa Etsy shop! I haven’t had much of a chance to promote our shop, but I’m hoping to do more of that in the future. We have 14 items right now, and we’re hoping to reach 20 soon! Now that I force myself to save a couple hours for myself, I should get a lot more done!

What I wish for this week:

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog – Still need to work on this.
  • Work on map tote – I joined a creative penpal collective but I suck at it. Really bad. So I still need to work on my gift that is long past due. I know, no more signing up for stuff for awhile.
  • Write article for Childhood Magazine – Now that the coffee can planter is done, I need to write the article and attach the photos. I’m so excited!
  • Make one dinner and one treat from scratch – As much from scratch as I can. We all have our limits.
  • Practice yoga twice – I need to keep it going and do one practice at night and one in the morning. I miss getting up and doing yoga every morning and I would love to get back in that routine.
  • Figure out a venue and date for the Vox fundraiser – I am planning a fundraiser for my favorite nonprofit, Vox. We are going to start restoring furniture with kiddos! We are in the works of planning a fundraiser/kickoff party so I need to work on the venue and date this week so I can start getting everything together. Hooray!
  • Start promoting Sweet Mariposa – Start posting on my social media sites and getting people excited.

Do you set goals for the week? If so, what are they? Join the Weekly Wishes link-up at Nectar Collective and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and Pinterest to share and motivate each other!