scrumptious carrot cake

I baked a super scrumptious carrot cake from scratch for Easter. Baking isn't my forte so, I'm super excited when a make a dessert that turns out this good. I found this carrot cake recipe on allrecipes.com, my "go to" place for recipe hunting. I changed a few things based on comments on the original and here is my version:

Cake Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce
  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (could even be reduced to 3 cups IMO)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour or line with parchment paper (2) 9 inch round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, white and brown sugars and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the first layer, then add the second layer and frost.
This cake turned out super moist and just the best carrot cake ever!  Of course, I am a little bias since I'm extremely happy it turned out okay but, really it was so good. Enjoy!


art masterpiece: whistler

At the Piano by James Whistler 1858-59

I have found that 1st graders are obsessed with death.  I think they are trying to make sense of it.  Each week I go in someone always asks if the artist is alive and if I say no (which I usually do) they want to know when, how old and how.  This picture was interesting because it touches on the subject of death and keeping someone alive in memory. 

About the Artist
James Whistler was born in Massachusetts and moved to Russia with his family when he was 9 years old. When James was 15 his father died and his family moved back to the United States. At 17, he worked for the government making maps. At 21 he went to Paris to become a painter and at 25 went to England where we stayed.  He never returned to the United States. He died at 1903 at the age of 69.

What do you see in the painting? Do you think he knew the people in the painting? Who are they? How old is the little girl? This is the artist’s half sister Deborah and her daughter Annie, 10 years old. The painting is showing his half sister playing the piano as her father once played for her.

Why do you think they are dressed this way? Deborah is mourning the death of her father 10 years earlier. Black is the color for adults to wear when mourning the death of someone.  White is the color for Victorian children to where while mourning.

This painting was created in 1859, 152 years ago. The name of this painting is At the Piano and is one of the artist’s first paintings. Deborah is playing the same piano that she used to play with her father.

What does this painting sound like? Both mother and child have a look of seriousness and concentration creating a mood of quiet music and memory.

How do you think the artist felt when he painted this picture? Why do you think he painted it? This is how he wished to keep his father’s memory alive.  This was painted 10 years after his father’s death. This is a mirror of his father and sister playing at the piano, now his sister and her daughter are at the piano. I don't know if Whistler's sister really played piano with her daughter like her father did, but I hope so. It is a nice thought that she cherished those special moments with her father and therefore had them with her daughter.

If you wanted to paint a favorite memory of your father or mother what would it be? The kids really love this kind of question. It allows them to talk about their life and I think it helps them relate to the artist on a more personal level.   

For me, a memory I would like to paint would be a picture of my parents laughing and dancing.  They always knew how to have fun (and still do)!

How about you, what memory would you want to paint?


new favorite item I didn't know I needed

I purchased these beautiful dishcloths from The Dishcloth Shoppe.  The Dishcloth Shoppe offers handmade, eco-friendly, functional and absolutely gorgeous dishcloths, made from 100% cotton. At first, I was uneasy washing my messy pots and pans with these oh so pretty cloths.  But once I did I found they are surprisingly durable and abrasive.

I remember my mom using dishcloths way back when but, sponges ultimately took over our cleaning habits.  In our home, we have embraced cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, cleaning towels instead of paper towels and real plates and utensils instead of disposable but, sponges are still here.  I'm not sure why I held onto them for so long, they are expensive, they aren't pretty sitting on my sink (like these beauties) and then they get tossed to the landfill.  I'm happy that another area of our home "greened".

We wash our kitchen napkins and cleaning towels on a daily basis so these will be a small addition to the wash. There are some good suggestions on how to keep dish cloths smelling better on yahoo! answers.
I hope they last a long time. 

Do you used dishcloths? Any tips to help them stay fresh and long lasting?


april biz goals

I moved forward in many creative ways in March.  I strayed from my goals and allowed my journey to take some twists and turns.  Before jumping into April let's see what happened in March ...

March Goals
  • credible nutrition postcard design - done!
  • east valley artisans postcard - only received 1 artist image so, I need to follow up on participation.
  • move creative stash website to my blog - eek, I'm ignoring this
  • begin new wedding invitation design - I will be tackling this asap
  • custom painting - need to purchase the canvas and get started
  • custom coaster - artwork prints have been chosen, I need to print, cut and resin.
  • get involved with this month's creative every day theme - this was lost in the shuffle.  I will try again for April.
  • family art play time- yes of course!  lots of family painting sessions this month
  • try meal planning- downloaded a planner but haven't set time aside yet to think on this.
  • gym - pretty good.  Not great but, pretty good. We took some family walks this month which were nice, would like to keep up with those.
Although my goals still need attention, I did get down to business in the following ways ...

 I have designed a few software icon packages in the past and received a referral this month to create this software icon package for Design Tech. 

I received a custom order for an art print necklace and since I was mixing resin for that, I made a bunch of art pendants to create new necklaces with. 

 I have been wanting to experiment with a mandala style paintings and one evening I was inspired to do it.  This painting is for sale in my Etsy shop along with these new items.  

A few months ago I created the logo design for Credible Nutrition and this month they contacted me about designing a postcard to go along with it.  Barbie and Rachel are a joy to work with.  They offer a wide range of counseling and consultation options to help get you healthy! 

Lastly, a childhood friend is expecting her first baby and had a baby shower back in NY.  Sadly, I wasn't able to attend but, I channeled my energy and love for her into a gift for the baby's nursery. I really want to show you it but, I just mailed it off yesterday so, I'll have to wait until she receives it next week to blog about it.

So you see, I was quite busy even if my goals were a bit abandoned.  I hope my momentum stays and I can will my wondering self into doing what I plan this month!

April Goals
  • begin S&J wedding invitation design
  • completed commissioned baby nursery painting
  • print art and resin custom coasters
  • list new bottle cap magnet set and create with resin art pendants
  • add about page to creative stash blog
  • get involved with creative every day theme - small
  • family art play time
  • setup monthly meal plan
  • movement - family walks, yoga and dance
The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. ~ Arthur C. Clarke
    If you would like to join in the Meetup biz goals fun, head on over to Athena Dreams to read more about how we support one another and how to join in.