MID-SUMMER HAPPENINGS

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This has been a crazy summer! I have been knee-deep in baking orders for all kinds of occasions–bachelorette parties, birthdays, baby and bridal showers, anniversaries, and “just for fun” celebrations. The experience has been unbelievable, as I’ve baked over 1220 sugar cookies and 330 cupcakes within the past three months. These photos just brush the surface of the treats I’ve been cooking up around here!

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I hope you’re all enjoying your summer! I’m going to do my best with keeping things updated around here. In the meantime, be sure to check out my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/albertapearl

WEDDING BELLS ARE RINGING

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Springtime is just around the corner, which also means that so is wedding season. I attended my first wedding of the year a couple of weekends ago–a wedding that I had the pleasure of making the cupcakes for. I made two different types: earl grey vanilla and mango coconut. It was so exciting to attend the wedding and see the cupcakes in action as everyone celebrated the new marriage. I love how, as humans, we often choose to celebrate together over food. That is exactly why baking is so special to me! I made 160 cupcakes in total for the big day–my biggest cupcake order to date!

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On a different wedding note, I have also been daydreaming about the desserts for my own upcoming wedding. Call me crazy, but we will be having a dessert reception and I plan on making all of the desserts myself. I can’t stop thinking about all of the different dessert combinations to serve. I have been making mental notes, scribbled lists, and tons of little cake doodles (what do you know–my degree in visual arts put to use). It’s so fun to dream about all of these things. So fun.

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I have a few other wedding orders coming up within the next couple of months. May, June, and July are my busiest months of the year. ‘Tis the season for wedding bells to start ringing and I am more than ready with my piping bag in one hand and a spatula in the other!

FASHION-FORWARD COOKIES

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Do you remember when Gwen Stefani first came out with her Love. Angel. Music. Baby. album? It was quirky and odd, but I will be the first to admit that I was so hooked. I remember the sixth grade version of myself being glued to the television as the Alice-In-Wonderland-esque music videos played on the weekly countdown. My best friend even got the album for her birthday and I remember her lending it to me to listen to on my CD walkman. Those were the days.

I think the reason I was so obsessed with that album was because it was so different from anything else that was popular in the music business at the time. Gwen Stefani was bold, fun, and fresh. She has evolved since the release of that album, but she has never stopped being bold and exciting. She established a clothing line called L.A.M.B that has done incredibly well on the fashion scene. It is characterized by vivid, rocker-meets-classic patterns and stark, yet vibrant, colours.

In other words: the line would make a playful and incredibly fun inspiration for a set of 30th birthday cookies.

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I was asked to make thirty 30th birthday cookies inspired by Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B clothing line, as the recipient was a huge fan of Gwen Stefani. I greeted the challenge with so much excitement because of how fun the patterns were. I decided to base the cookie designs off three iconic prints of the line–bold stripes, a repetitive black and white pattern, and a grey and orange flowy leopard print.

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I finished the cookies by donning a few with gold “30”s. These cookies were such a fun and inspiring challenge. It’s always such a treat to receive full creative freedom when it comes to cookie baking. Cookie decorating is just as much a creative outlet as clothing design, so to be able to celebrate the two was such an exciting thing to do.

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May you all have a bold, bright, and Love. Angel. Music. Baby. kind of week!

MARCH

It’s March already. Can you believe it? It feels like just yesterday that I was celebrating the new year and counting my blessings for 2013. It’s hard to believe that I am already over-my-head overwhelmed with final projects at school, enrolled in summer courses, and devoting the majority of my time to carving woodblocks for the series of relief prints I’m working on. Looking back over the past few months, it’s hard to believe that I have had any time at all to bake. But alas, I have. And am I ever glad that’s the case.

I’m so thankful to have baking to keep me sane amidst all of the stress, frustration, and dullness of the student life. I love looking back at the various little baking projects I have taken on. What a pleasure it is to do what it is that I do. What a pleasure, indeed.

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It was so fun making chocolate-cashew cupcakes. I ground the cashews into a fine powder and mixed them into the buttercream, making the most delicious, fluffy, and nutty buttercream of life. It was also a blast to “blast” into outer space for a couple of hours while I made these outer-space themed cookies. Perhaps my absolute favourite moment of these past few months took place on February 5th, when the love of my life asked me to marry him. And yes, I did photograph the ring in a plate of cookies! What did you expect? I also had the opportunity to expand my cake-baking experiences by making another baby-themed cake and a birthday cake for my beautiful grandmother. On my reading week, I decided to make little “proposal” gifts for my bridesmaids, complete with nail polish, inspiration images, and a specially packaged heart cookie. Finally, one of the biggest projects I took on was an order for custom wedding favour cookies. It was a big job, but it was such a wonderful and fun experience.

These photos only encapsulate a fraction of the baking I have done over the past couple of months. It is such a pleasure to be able to create little treats that can be shared and enjoyed with those around me. As school settles down for the semester and I have a little extra time to devote to browsing, testing, and eating, I can’t wait to see what little “treats” the next few months will hold.

Happy March, everybody. Enjoy all of the little “treats” that come your way!

Seventy-Eight

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Seventy-eight.

She would be embarrassed if she knew I just shared that number. But how could I not? Age is just a number. How do you truly measure the life of a woman or a man?

(In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights or cups of coffee?–sorry, I just had to!)

The number of years celebrated with each birthday does not truly measure the life that someone has lived. In the case of my beautiful grandmother, the number 78 doesn’t speak to the incredibly rich and beautiful life she has lived. 78 does not indicate the love she has for her husband, her family, and her home. 78 does not express the persistent faith she has maintained throughout years of hardships. 78 does not even begin to attest to the lives she has blessed and inspired. She is a very special lady who deserves to be celebrated. So celebrated she was.

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I once again made this delicious pina colada cake. Even though it feels like this is the only recipe I have been cooking up lately, my grandmother loves coconut, so it seemed like an appropriate choice for her birthday. The pineapple cake is one of my favourite recipes, especially when coated in coconut cream cheese frosting. I made the cake as per usual, but pressed toasted coconut on the sides instead of coating the cake in more frosting. Perhaps my favourite part of the cake was making the handmade clothesline topper. I’ve been pretty addicted to cute cake toppers since I made this one at the beginning of the new year. Since then, I’ve been scanning the internet high and low for topper inspirations and hoping for more opportunities to make a cake so I could make more little toppers as well. Making a handmade topper ended up being a win-win situation since my grandmother can’t be exposed to candles anyways.

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I’m so happy we were able to celebrate seventy-eight years of my grandmother’s life. But beyond just that, I am so happy we were able to celebrate the life within those years. The joy, the faith, and the love within those years.

I love you Grandma and I hope you had a special day as lovely as you!