Monday, April 28, 2014

A Pop of Color

Home improvement projects continue to be an ongoing thing at the Holland House, and I'm really excited about the most recent one that Hank just finished. Our front door/entry way left much to be desired, but figured we could find an easy and inexpensive solution to remedy the problem.  The overall situation was pretty dark and dreary, but I couldn't be more pleased with the result.

Two issues to address:

1- lack of light in the foyer
2- a really ugly colored front door

On a whim, Hank decided to peel/scrape off the privacy film on the windows surrounding the door, making a dramatic difference in the amount of light that came in. That quickly fixed issue #1, and really prevented us from purchasing an entirely new door that would let in a little more light.

Solving the second problem wasn't quite so easy. Hank called one afternoon while making his usual Home Depot Saturday trip, asking what color I had in mind. I said "a light, almost turquoise color". He came home with two samples that weren't even close to what I envisioned, and proceeded to paint two test patches on the front of the door. No dice.

A few weeks went by because we got tied up with other things, and the test patches remained on the front door. It's a shame I don't have a pictures of those. I'm sure our neighbors loved seeing two blobs of funky blue as they drove by. Finally a weekend rolled around where we had some time, so Hank tried again with a paint sample, and nailed the color on this try. He picked up Aquifer by Behr Marquee, and a quick test patch was all I needed to see. It was perfect!

Front door before:

The Holland House: Front Door After

Front door after:

The Holland House: Front Door After

The Holland House: Front Door After
I would have tried to sweep up the pollen, but it would have fallen again before I had a chance to take a picture. Spring in Austin....

I love how an inexpensive project can make such a big impact. We've received so many compliments from neighbors, and just love the fresh new look at the front of our house. What ways have you used color to make a significant change in your home?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Weekend with Family

Before I recap a super fun weekend with family, I just want to pause for a second and brag about how ridiculously beautiful/fun/precocious/adorable my niece is. Georgia is now 4 1/2, and there is not a day that goes by that I'm not amazed at what a wonderful little girl she is turning into. This picture was taken at lunch with my parents on Friday. I die over those curls!

The Holland House: Georgia

Not to be outdone, my nephew Blair is growing blazing fast, and is equally as adorable (in a boy kind-of way), even though he could care less about getting his picture taken.

The Holland House: Blair

Friday afternoon my brother and sister-in-law came into town from Houston and spent the night with us- what a treat!! They usually stay with my parents or her parents, so we loved that they saved a night just for us. We headed to Black Star Co-Op for dinner, totally unprepared for the line out the door! But the boys stayed in line to order while Meredith and I stalked tables, and we lucked out with a booth by a window. We had a great meal, but I felt only meh about the beer I ordered. Since we were waking up early to run the next morning, we headed back to the house for a night cap and some entertainment via Sorry if you were one of our victims, but we were dying laughing over the "you hit my car" option.

Saturday brought about an early 6 mile run with my brother, followed by our weekly Taco Deli breakfast. Nothing beats tacos and coffee after a good run! They went on to a few birthday parties, while I spent the afternoon in the kitchen working on Easter cookies and bunny cake. It has been tradition for as long as I can remember, and I'm so glad we have continued to do it. I was on my own this year for making it, but am hoping that I can get some family help next year.

On Sunday, Hank and I enjoyed a much needed lazy morning together. He had been out of town for work, and I have been swamped in the kitchen, so it was nice to just have some quiet time together before heading over to my parents. Everyone met up in time for brunch, and my mom served an incredible meal. Never one to miss any details, she made sure that the meal was perfect from beginning to end.

The Holland House: Easter Party Details

After eating, we headed outside for the egg hunt. Competition is stiff among the adults (there is money on the line), and Hank and I had a poor showing last year. We meant business this time around, and ended up walking away with the grand prize egg. Georgia had her own little area, and was thrilled with her glittery eggs and candy!

Overall it was a terrific weekend with lots of fun family time- leaving me feeling so thankful for all the great things in my life.

The Holland House: Hank and Amy
Hank and Amy

The Holland House: Parents and Grandchildren
My parents with Georgia and Blair.

The Holland House: Sister's family
Sister's family- and she swears they did not color coordinate on purpose.

The Holland House: Brother and Sister in Law
Brother and Sister in Law

The Holland House: Sisters
Annual sister picture, but G steals the show with those curls.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Exciting Announcement

I've been baking up a little something different in the kitchen lately, and I'm so excited to share my lovely new website with you. Hank has been gracious enough to work with me on putting this together, and I'm really proud of it. There is still work to be done, and my goal is to turn it into a place where I can share content and provide more information about my work with my clients.

The Texas Cottage Food Law only allows me to bake and sell locally, so unless I'm able to deliver sweets to your door (or have you pick them up from mine), I'm unable to sell to you. However, if you are the least bit interested in cookie decorating (or sweets in general), please come back to visit my site. I'm working on the "Blog" tab, and hope to create a small community for those who share my love of sweets.

And since I'm making announcements, I'll also throw it out there that I'm also planning a series of cookie decorating classes. Smaller classes will be done in my home, and I also plan to host a few larger ones at our lovely clubhouse in Steiner Ranch. If you are ever interested in getting a group of friends or family together for a class, please let me know. Teaching has always been a passion of mine, and I'm looking forward to combining it with my love of cookie decorating.

Sweet Elise Website

Photo credit to Emily and M Photography

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spiderman Birthday Extravaganza

Oh hello! Apologies for the short absence from posting, but I have been buried alive in the kitchen and am just now catching up. I have a few fun projects, starting with these two Superman cakes. Four year old Jake celebrated his birthday with friends recently, and I made a two tier detailed cake for the occasion.

Sweet Elise: Spiderman Cake

Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream, and fondant accents made up this first cake. I learned one important less- and that is you can never underestimate the value of a well structured cake. This one ended up being heavier than I anticipated, and it really needed an internal support structure. Luckily it survived the car trip for delivery, and made it in one piece. But I could have prevented a small sagging issue had I just used a dowel down the middle.

Sweet Elise: Fondant Web Letters
White fondant letters with tiny spider webs.

Sweet Elise: Spiderman Cake
Finished cake, safe and sound at the party.

Cake number two was a really fun Spiderman face that I made for his smaller family birthday dinner. His mom did not request the fondant, but I wanted this cake to look very different than the first. I did some research online, and came across this amazingly informative tutorial for how to get the shape of the face. I've made marshmallow fondant before and have a recipe that I prefer, but I have not actually covered a cake with it yet. I find this particular recipe very easy to work with though, and it gave such a nice smooth texture to this cake. I was glad I decided to use it.

Sweet Elise: Spiderman Cake
Chocolate cake and buttercream before it was covered in fondant.

Sweet Elise: Spiderman Cake
Spiderman web was done in black royal icing.

Sweet Elise: Spiderman Cake
Final product, with fondant eyes.

Underneath the fondant was yet more chocolate, and the most delicious chocolate buttercream. Even though the marshmallow fondant tastes far better than the store bought kind, at least I knew it could easily be peeled off so that the buttercream could really stand out.
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