Blog Tour

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One of the greatest tools of self-expression for me has been writing. I love the leeway that putting words to paper often gives a writer. I also love to be fully inundated with the culinary experience, especially baking. In August of 2010, I decided to merge the two and Sweet Sensations was born. The last four years have truly been a roller coaster ride and an amazing learning experience. I am nowhere near, where I would like to be with Sweet Sensations or my newest blog Around My Table. Chances are I will never be and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I say that because there is always something new to learn and new goals to meet. It keeps us on our toes.

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Ramona from Curry and Comfort invited me to participate in this Blog Tour. I happily joined in since it is a great way to discover new blogs. In Ramona’s post, she mentioned that she met me and the other bloggers through Foodbuzz. That was a great food blogger community and I too, met many virtual friends there Ramona has supported me from day one. She always leaves a kind word and her talent and creativity are through the roof. With two small children she cooks and blogs everyday. Oh my gosh hats off to you girlfriend. I love the way she fuses her Sri Lankan culture and Western culture. If you have a taste for curry this is the place to visit and do not get me started on her incredible pictures. They are mouth watering, jaw dropping, drool inducing and just plain old gorgeous! Determined to keep striving for the best she has a series called, “Throwback Thursday”. Here she goes back into some past posts with pictures that she thinks are less than stellar and remakes the recipe again with new pictures. That my friends is dedication!

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In compliance with accepting Ramona’s invitation to this tour, I agreed to answer four questions so you can get to know me a little better. Here goes!

What am I working on currently on the blog?
Running two blogs is way more work than I anticipated and honestly, I’m not sure if it was the best idea. With Sweet Sensations dedicated to cakes and all things sweet and Around My Table for tablescapes and simple DIY projects my hands are full trying to post regularly on both of them. Right now, I’m transitioning between summer and fall. I am in no way ready to dive headlong into all things pumpkin spice so there are a few more summer sweets and tables I want to do. I’m also working on a more informational post about what tools and gadgets make for better baking.

How does my work differ than others of its genre?
I’m very talkative with my blogs, hope that makes sense. I share lots of up, downs, and my family life with my readers. When I don’t feel well I don’t mind talking about it. If I’m stressed out, my readers are likely to know about it. I don’t try to cover up the gray areas in my life and I remain accountable for every bad picture or missed step in a recipe. If something is a hot mess, I’m going to say it and have a good laugh about it in the process. When you’re baking cakes and setting tables there is lots of room for creativity. With that leeway some desserts can really be way over the top with lots of hard to find and expensive ingredients. That’s fun to do sometimes. Most of the time I share baked goods and techniques that even the most inexperienced baker can accomplish. As far as tablescaping I want to put together tables that are affordable. Using table linens and dinnerware that can easily be interchanged.

Why do I write what I do?
Writing and baking is very therapeutic for me. Often when I feel unbalanced or the need to get my groove back, I bake and write about it. This is my comfort zone and this is where I feel the most confident.

How does my writing process work?
Keeping with the theme of keeping it real there isn’t a set process for writing my posts. Over the last year I’ve made a valiant attempt to keep to an editorial calendar (thanks Keisha) in order to stay organized. Writing on the fly may work at times and then again can be a total flop. Sometimes I start the post before the dessert is baked or before the tablescape is done. What does work the best is to write the post and let it sit for a day, preferably two and then go back and read it again. Read it aloud, to someone else or into a recorder. Many times when I allow myself that luxury I catch mistakes easier or else I’m delighted and hope you guys find it as witty as I do.

Enough about me already. There are three super talented bloggers that I want you to meet. You may know them already, if not I hope you come to know them as the warm caring women that I have found them to be.

Meet Keisha from Cupcake Wishes and Birthday Dreams.

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Keisha and I met via Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers Community. Right away she made me feel welcome. This lady is a wealth of information and I feared at one point she would block my email address because I asked so many questions. Being the kind soul that she is, Keisha graciously answered all of my questions and still does. Not only is she great at dessert tables and parties, her printables are amazing.

I’ve had so much fun getting to know Chloe from Celebrate and Decorate.

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Chloe is the consummate hostess and she loves sharing her ideas for entertaining which includes beautiful tables, recipes and even videos. Her style is easy going and friendly and her theme parties are just gorgeous. This lady knows how to take a theme and run with it. I can’t wait for you to check out her appetizers. Take a bib because you will drool! Chloe also has some serious home design skills. She has generously shared some of her own home renovations as well as showing us how to use designs she has rounded up from the blogosphere.

Here’s Katherine from Katherines Corner

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Blogging has led me to some very kind souls who I feel that I’ve known for a long time. Katherine from Katherine’s Corner is one of those people. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to meet her but I imagine we’d get along great sitting and chatting over tea and perhaps a cookie or two. Katie shares lots of recipes, blogging tips, craft supplies and photography ideas. If you or anyone you know suffer from Migraines check out her migraine safe recipes. Add to all of that she also hosts a blog hop every Thursday where bloggers from all over and every niche link up and share their latest posts.

Well that’s it for my part in the blog tour today. I hope you enjoyed it. Make sure to check out my friend’s blogs. You will find something wonderful, I promise.

Neapolitan Cake

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Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s hard to believe that we celebrated our youngest child’s birthday over the weekend. Yup my baby is 32 and you know there was cake. Knowing me as well as you do, you know that I couldn’t make just one dessert. I always ask my kids what kind of cake they want and most of the time I already know the answer. With Charisse it’s either going to be yellow cake with chocolate frosting or a variation of what she calls “Confused People Cake”, meaning a marble cake.

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This time she went for Neapolitan. Her cake was three layers: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Not a petite cake by any means. The base layer was chocolate and I applied a generous amount of chocolate mousse on top. Followed by strawberry that was topped with vanilla butter cream. The top layer was vanilla. I frosted the top and sides with vanilla butter cream and then drenched the top with chocolate ganache. The ganache flowed over the top of the cake and dripped easily down the sides. A small slice of this cake was almost a normal slice.

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Last weekend I made a cake to feed 150 guests for the 88th birthday of a very prominent pastor in our community. I had tons of cake toppings in the freezer from that one and used them to make cake truffles from them for Charisse. The buttons on our pants were already about to pop from dinner before we got to the sweet stuff. We had oven barbecued country style pork ribs, jambalaya, cornbread and raspberry lemonade.
We’re still full.

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I used boxed mixes for the cake and the mousse but jazzed them up a bit. For the chocolate cake I added 1 tsp espresso powder and 1 TBS dark chocolate cocoa in addition to the required ingredients. 2 TBS Strawberry daiquiri mix and 1 tsp vanilla was added to the strawberry mix and 2 TBS French Vanilla coffee creamer to the vanilla cake.

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The next family birthday coming up is in September for our resident Princess Gabbi. She’s asked for a Monster High cake and gumbo. What a combination!!! I share the recipe for the Raspberry Lemonade later this week.

These are the linky parties I participate in. Drop by and show them a little love!

Wow us Wednesday’s

Tablescape Thursday’s

Open House Thursday

Under the Table and Dreaming

Rustic and Refined

The Scoop

A Stroll Thru Life

DIY by Design

Golden Peach Cake ~ Cake Slice Bakers

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The Cake Slice Bakers are coming to the end of our baking adventures with Great Cakes by Carol Walter. As stated many times previously this was not the most well received book. A couple of months ago we found our stride by having the option to choose one of several cakes rather than just voting for one. For this month’s reveal I chose the Golden Peach Cake.

Continue reading »

Bread and Butter Pickles

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At the beginning of summer I had high hopes of harkening back to earlier years and preserving a bounty of summer fruits and vegetables. The whole idea made me feel very mother-earth-ish while planning a garden to champion the farm to table movement. Flash forward to today and the mother-earth-ish feeling has been replaced with a myriad of aches and pains that have sapped a good deal of my energy. My in home campaign of farm to table is slightly dampened in deed only, not spirit. Continue reading »

Petite Sweets ~ A Book Review

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Are you onboard with the small desserts craze? This is the perfect way to have your cake and eat it too, without guilt. Well, without much. Ever since I started styling parties and creating dessert tables I’ve been on the hunt for books dedicated to the subject.

Luckily, I found Petite Sweets by Beatrice Ojakangas at my library.

I loved everything about this book, especially the fact that there are lots of pictures. A recipe without an accompanying picture is a huge letdown. The book starts with a list of basic equipment and ingredients that are used for the recipes. This is great information for the novice and veteran baker. There is truly something for everyone. The chapters include: Petite Pies and Tarts, Fruit and Berry Desserts, Mousses and Chilled Desserts, Creams Custards and Frozen Desserts, Pastries and Sweets.

The pictures are mouthwatering and the presentation is simple enough to let you know you can do it. They are also combined with enough elegance for a special occasion.

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The most challenging element is deciding what you want to make first. I suggest that you start with the type of dessert that interests you most, say cakes or pies, and then choose 2-3 of your favorites. From there, take an inventory of what you have on hand and work from there. You won’t find a long list of ingredients here that are expensive and you won’t use again. The only ingredients that may not be considered everyday staples would be espresso powder and phyllo dough. Both are easy to find and if you entertain regularly, chances are you’ll use them frequently should you decide to purchase them.

If I had to choose a downside or make a suggestion it would be to include all of the equipment used for the recipes and not just a basic list.
Small sweet treats are wonderful for a dessert buffet or when you want to serve several desserts and not go overboard.

Buy Petite Sweets from

This book is a must share so I’m taking it to the following parties:
Wow Us Wednesday’s

Tablescape Thursday’s

Everyday Home

Inspire Me Tuesday

It’s Overflowing

Katherine’s Corner

DIY by Design

Rustic and Refined

Chocolate Cake Again

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The first time I made this cake was for Father’s Day this year. At that time I proclaimed that it was the “Best Cake Evah”. It still is and this time it was even better. We had dinner at our daughter Charisse’s house on Saturday and me bringing a chocolate cake is a given. Why I only made a nine inch cake is beyond me.

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Princess Gabbi is back from her vacation and spent the weekend with us. Of course being the doting Nanni that I am, I made another chocolate cake. The really cool part is that Mr. Sweets is eating it. He has his ice cream of choice (vanilla) and he is a happy camper.

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This cake stays moist right until the very last crumb. Which I guess in our family doesn’t take long to reach. This one is flying away fast folks. Here is the link with the recipe for the Best Chocolate Cake Evah!!!

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My Bloody Mary

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The Community Coordinator on behalf of Williams Sonoma
interested in my own twist on the Classic Bloody Mary…” The one stipulation was that I had to juice the tomatoes. No problem there, I am no stranger to juicing.

Running a baking blog means there’s a fair amount of sugar and saturated fat in my sweet treats. While I do give lots of them away some are just too darn good to part with. In attempt to balance things out so to speak I began juicing. I could tell the difference in my energy level and naturally I dropped a few pounds.

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Coconut Lavender Bundt Cake with Bourbon Peaches

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Let me begin with the optional ingredient, Bourbon Peaches. I’m saying optional because everyone doesn’t like boozy desserts. For me, yes please! The peaches I had picked up from the farmers market were about to go south and I couldn’t let that happen. Yes, I could have put them in the freezer but I think they were happier swimming in a Southern Comfort bath. Like who wouldn’t? I had enough peaches to fill one quart mason jar and enough liquor to cover them. So they sat in total darkness blissful, happy and submerged in bourbon for three weeks.

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Blueberry Lemon Crumb Cake

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I’ve had blueberries in the freezer for a while. I’ve also been having this ping pong match in my mind about what to do with them. Jam or cake, jam or cake…… While preparing to review the Love Birds Coffee and Tea Cup set I felt a sweet treat would be great to go with it. Cake won woo-hoo!!! I wanted the cake to be lower in fat and cholesterol but still over the top in taste. Tall order I know; and honestly I wasn’t in the mood for lots of trial and error. I’ve seen many crumb cake recipes but have never made one. Ok, so now I’m making a crumb cake. Did I find one that was lower in fat and cholesterol? Yes. Did I make it? Nope.

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Love Bird Coffee and Tea Cup Set ~ Review

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Imagine opening a well packed box and then finding an item wrapped in corrugated paper, tied with navy grosgrain ribbon, and secured with a wax seal. Come on who does that nowadays? Uncommon Goods does that, and I was immediately impressed upon opening the box. I was sent this Love Bird coffee and tea cup set from Uncommon Goods for review. The opinions stated are my own.

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Uncommon Goods has many unique hand crafted items like this one that are suitable for lots of gift giving occasions.

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This porcelain set was designed by Lucie Piedra and Meg Oliver and it is quite a conversation piece. The larger cup is for coffee and holds 12 ounces. The smaller one for tea holds four ounces. There is a Zen-like aesthetic to the set which adds to its appeal. Given the size difference between the two you’d think his and hers which is why I could see these being given to honor several milestones in a couple’s life. At first glance you might think, “Ok, how am I supposed to hold on to and drink from this?” We’re used to a cup/mug with a handle to hold on to; this set doesn’t have one. That being said picking up and holding on to the cup by the beak and tail so to speak was different (in a good way) but very comfortable. I was also pleased to discover that there was no substantial heat transfer to the outside of the cups and the beverages didn’t stain the inside. The set is also microwave and dishwasher safe. To look at more one of a kind gift items be sure and visit Uncommon Goods.

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I couldn’t resist baking a sweet treat for the Mr and I to enjoy with this set. The Blueberry Lemon Crumb Cake recipe will be posted her soon.