Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog! Here you will get to know me—the “sweet girl” behind the dessert tables. The girl who loves to create. The proud mama who loves her boys to no bounds and the wife that thanks her lucky stars every day to have her husband, her best friend & business partner, by her side. Whether you visiting our blog or the first time or have stopped by before, please know that I’m incredibly grateful that you are here and look forward to getting to know you. So sit back, grab a large cup of coffee (or cake pop) and enjoy!
Feb

Vinoy St. Pete Wedding with K and K Photography

Hello friends! Hope all of you are having a great February! We are gearing up for a Valentines Day inspired dessert table this week so right now we are in a sea of golds….pinks…reds….and a whole lot of love. Today I’m thrilled to share a recent wedding we had The Renaissance Vinoy in St. Pete with an absolutely stunning couple, Catherine and Peter. There is something about getting married at The Vinoy–everything just has this romantic and elegant feel. It truly feels like walking in another world when you step inside their ballroom!

This beauty was shot by K&K Photography, based out of Tampa. We’ve known Jeff and the K&K team for some time and we always feel honored when they shoot our table. Their approach to capturing the details is something that I’ve always loved! They even shot one our all time Day of the Dead inspired shoots a few years back!

Thanks again to our lovely couple, Catherine and Peter, The Vinoy and of course, K&K Photography.  And a special shout out of love to my girl Crystal from Cuppy Cakes–one of the kindest souls I know and are go-to person for the special cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies you see on today’s table.

Have a wonderful week, friends!

Update: Don’t forget, we have our Valentine’s Day candy boxes, ready to ship out! This Thursday is our last shipping day! Link on our Home Page.

IMAGE CREDIT: K&K Photography

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Jan

Nutella Heart Shape Pies and White Chocolate Hot Cocoa with Shay Cochrane Photography

Hello friends! First post of 2015, here we go! I don’t believe in having resolutions (I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure with those), but I do believe in keeping goals that will always ground me (my faith, family, health, friends, and business). Never easy sometimes, but I’ve learned to appreciate the times with my family so much more than I did in the past. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, (haha…and wiser) but this past year I’ve really challenged myself to carve out more, intentional time for my family, my husband, which as silly as it does sound, feeds my soul and in turn, I find that my work is better, more focused and everything just flows. Wow, didn’t think I was going to take it there to start out 2015, but I guess it is natural for all of us to take this time, especially January, to reflect.

One of our final shoots to wrap up 2014 was in partnership with Southern Weddings, a publication and blog I hold near and dear to my heart. They were working on a Holiday Dessert Round Up, and they wanted me to share some of my favorite recipes. I thought this would be hard for me–I mean, I love to bake, but to come up with two recipes I thought readers would connect with, was not as hard as I thought.

Thankfully Shay Cochrane from Shay Cochrane Photography, is an amazing commercial photographer, that I’ve had the pleasure working with on more than one occasion and has an uncanny ability to take my vision, props and work her usual magic. Shay, if you are reading this–thank you–you are an artist!

So on that note, recipes below. Feel free to tweek to your liking. Southern Weddings also has this posted on their blog as well, along with a printer-friendly version of our recipes.

Happy 2015 friends! I hope it’s a great one!

Southern Newlywed Series: Dessert Feature

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Heart Shape Strawberry-Nutella Filled “Mini-Pies”

These pies are delicious and once you get a good feel for the recipe, there are endless variations to it, which is really fun (hellloooo–Valentine’s ideas!). The prep time may seem a bit long, but this is one recipe that never “feels” long since the steps are fairly easy. This particular recipe has been tweeked a bit between me and my mom. The two of us love to work on this one, together! We don’t get to spend as much time as we like, together so this time is especially sacred between us.

Serves: 12. Prep time: 40 minutes. Cook time: 23-25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pie crust dough (feel free to use store bought or if you have time, from scratch. There are some really, easy pie crust recipes out there!).

2 cups of strawberries, cut very small

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of strawberry jam

1 ½ teaspoons of Nutella

Flour (for the dough)

2 egg whites, lightly beaten, with a splash of water.

Heart cookie cutter, recommend 2 ½ to 3 inch size

Candy coated wafers, for dipping. Optional. *See RECIPE NOTES

Sprinkles, optional. *See RECIPE NOTES

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take a large, baking sheet and cover with parchment paper, with a very light coat of non-stick cooking spray.
  2. While oven is pre heating, start rolling out your dough (with flour) until it is nice and smooth (approximately ¼ thick). When your dough is ready, begin to use your cookie cutter—in this case, you should be able to get out at least 18-20 hearts. I always take scraps, and recombine them to squeeze out a few more if I can.
  3. Now in a bowl, take your strawberries (diced very small), sugar, strawberry jam and Nutella, and combine all together. The jam is great in this case because it cuts the tartness of the strawberries for a more balanced flavor.
  4. Once you have all your ingredients combined, take teaspoon and put a dollop of filling in the center of half of your hearts (the other half will be reserved for the top of the heart!). The first time I went through this part I was very worried about putting too much filling, or too little, or that they wouldn’t look totally perfect. Do not worry! The beauty of this recipe, and pies, is that they don’t have to look perfect—just think if it as (cough, cough), more “rustic looking!”
  5. When you’ve put your filling on top of your hearts, lightly beat your egg wash and with your finger or a small brush and slightly brush the heart border which will act like a glue for the heart topper.
  6. Then take the reserved, half of hearts and place on top, carefully. Use a fork to pinch the edges together and make them look all pretty.
  7. After placing all your hearts on your baking sheet, I will brush all of them lightly with the egg wash—this gives them that golden, crusty “I should work for Better Crocker” look to them.
  8. Before placing in oven, I quickly take my fork and puncture them right in the middle, to act as a vent when they start baking.
  9. These will then back anywhere from 23 to 25 minutes, until they look nice and golden. I usually will set my timer to check them out at the 20th mark and then adjust my time from there, depending on how they look.

RECIPE NOTES:

  1. Don’t have strawberries? Don’t worry! Just eliminate the strawberries and substitute with one of your favorite jams that you may have on hand in your pantry.
  2. Pie on a stick? At “Step 4,” after you have put the filling on half of hearts, gently place a lollipop stick at the bottom of the heart—be careful when pushing the stick so it doesn’t come through. Anything on a stick always creates that “oohhh…ahhh” factor!
  3. There is nothing I love more than chocolate and strawberries. After your mini pies have cooled, I take one (1) bag of white, candy coated wafers, melt as directed and half dip my pies, then add sprinkles. I recommend, Merckens white candy melts. For sprinkles you can use holiday inspired (as shown), Valentine’s Day mix, or your own special mix.

White Chocolate Hot Cocoa

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Serves: 12 cups. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 2 hours

Can you think of anything better than pies and white chocolate hot cocoa? Nope. I couldn’t either. During the holidays, when it’s late at night, my family isn’t much into drinking coffee so we started making this recipe and it’s always a great hit.  This also gives me a great reason to take out my crock pot/slow cooker which receives no love from me, for most of the year.

Ingredients:

  1. 16 ounces of white chocolate (if you can, try to go with a premium brand)
  2. 4 cups of whole milk
  3. 4 cups of heavy cream
  4. 2 tablespoon of pure vanilla
  5. ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
  6. 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  7. Garnish ideas: whip cream, crushed peppermints, white chocolate chips, nutmeg, caramel sauce and Pirouettes (Pepperidge Farm is my favorite). *See RECIPE NOTES

Steps:

  1. Place your white chocolate in the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients. I keep my slow cooker at the “hot setting” and once the chocolate starts to melt, I drop down the “warm setting.”
  2. Cover and simmer for at least two hours, stirring every 20-25 minutes, or so. There will be skin that will form at the top of your hot cocoa, just take a whisk, stir and it will go away.
  3. This can stay warm for up to several hours.
  4. I’ve been asked this before, but you can substitute the whole milk with a low fat version if you wanted to lighten it up a bit.

RECIPE NOTES:

  1. When serving, I will take my garnishes and put them in small bowls and guests can help themselves. I love this part!
  2. If you would like to spike your hot chocolate, I recommend going with a nuttier flavor like a good Amaretto, Bailey’s or Brandy. They have very fancy vodka’s now, but with this recipe I find that the nuttier base goes lovely with the hot chocolate.

Aug

Ashton Events Wedding with Rad Red Creative

Hello everyone!!! Praying each one of you had an awesome summer. I can’t believe I have a first and second grader! Time goes back way to quickly.  Although I cherished the summer camps-pools-parks-popsicle-bicycle days, it feels good to get back into a good routine! Riiiiiiight, moms???

Okay, so finally had a moment to go through images from before summer started and wanted to stop an share a wedding we had the pleasure of working with Laura Helm of Ashton EventsLaura is a wonderful planner that I’ve known for a few years and it’s been so great to see her business grow leaps and bounds! This wedding took place with an amazingly gorgeous couple at The Junior League of  Greater Lakeland’s Sorosis Building.

This was the first time we did a dessert table there and I loved everything about this venue and it was also great because the space gives you a clean canvas to really create something unique. In this case, vintage, timeless touches were everywhere along with blushes, pinks and accents of peacock hues…royal blues, deep purples…if you know me, there is nothing I love more than a couple that is open to a unique color palette!

Extra thanks go to my friends over at Rad Red Creative. Besides being fantastic artists, they are absolutely the cutest team. Ever.

Enjoy friends! And best of luck to all the teachers, schools and families out there!

IMAGE CREDIT: RAD RED CREATIVE

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And we got to style these lovely cupcakes from Sweetie’s Cakes!
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Apr

Hello my friends…it’s been awhile….

Hello my friends! The beginning of MAY. How did that happen??? Although in my mind I’ve intended to blog more, sometimes things just don’t pan out as I would like and that is A-OK with me! One of my more personal goals, is to be really present with my family, with my boys, their unending energy and the biggest lesson of all has been to define was true success means to me.  Not so long ago, I was spent…exhausted…and feeling like if I wasn’t that crazy-busy, I wasn’t really making it.

Now that I’ve gone through my big rebrand not that long ago, made changes to my business structure and to our core, I’ve learned to recite a phrase often my head…

I’m busy enough for me.

I’m busy enough to keep my head afloat and my heart happy. Busy enough to still take that 1-2 days off work, and hang out with Preston or volunteer at my boys’ school. Busy enough that when my husband comes home I can carry a conversation without being distracted about work…the million things I still have on my every growing to-do list. And don’t get me wrong. Not every day is perfect and there may be some periods where I let myself sink into the old habits again, but then I go back to what really matters to me and it’s always the big wake up call I need.

So before I take this blog post all over the place, I would love to share part one, of our Spring season which is winding down for us. From weddings to snippets of corporate events, we did it all! Thanks as always to my husband Steve (always the man-behind-the-scenes), and to Karina, my assistant designer, we were non stop! Enjoy my friends! And I hope 2014 has started off great for all of you!

Bridal Showcase: Perfect Wedding Guide. We only do a sprinkle of bridal shows a year, and Perfect Wedding Guide is one of them! I always use the shows as my excuse to do whatever my sweet ole’ heart desires. Ha!

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 Gold and Black Vintage Dessert Table: This was our first wedding of the season. Carolyn our bride, is an amazing person and client. I was sort of obsessed with the venue, our first time at the Casa Monica in St. Augustine. And I loved the fact that Carolyn made sure to connect her vintage style and the color palette to the room and it really worked it so well. Also thanks to my cupcake girl, Crystal the owner of Cuppy Cakes for always bringing it with her delicious cupcakes which were a hit.

Photography Credit: Melissa Enid Photography

PS–Um…could Carolyn be more stunning?

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And one picture from me…

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Ashley Brooke Designs/West Elm Pop Up Shop Event: And one of my favorite partnerships from this Spring, we partnered up with Ashley Brooke Designs and their pop up shop at the West Elm in Orlando. Ashley is a force to be reckon with, with impeccable sense of style that translates through her design work. If you are looking for any unique gifts, stationary…she is your girl.

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Neiman Marcus Spring Trends Event: One of my favorite corporate clients, Neiman Marcus. We’ve worked with them for a few years and we love to provide our tables as a way to launch their Spring season. Hmmm…can you guess what color trends are happening this year???

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I’m going to wrap up our Spring season round up in two blog posts, so stay tuned next week for a few more updates and pictures.

And….before I forget, Mother’s Day is right around the corner!!! If you are looking for any last minute ideas, we have some great options in our online shop! Shop link on our home page. Have a great week friends!!!

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Feb

And we have a Winner for our Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Giveaway Picture

YAY! Quickly I want to announce the winner for the Valentine’s Day Giveaway. Thank you so much for everyone that entered–you have no idea how much I  enjoyed reading everyone’s Valentine Day plans and favorite memories!!! If you didn’t win this time–don’t worry! We definitely have plans to do another one SOON! Have a great weekend everyone!

The lucky duck is…..Jessica Hurtado! Jessica be on the look out for an email from Chic Sweets. Congrats!!!

 My favorite valentine memory will forever be the day my daughter Julianna was born. February 14th 2011! We had a great 1st pregnancy just lots of fatigue. Delivery went smooth just some cramps. She was a week late and I just knew she was going to come on Valentines. She always gets two gifts, a valentine and a birthday gift and her sister gets one too. I always try and make it special for the both of them and my husband as well.

The winner was determined via drawing on Random.org. Thanks to B is for Bonnie Design and Ashley Brooke Designs for teaming up with us!

XOXO-Natalie