So, I recently went to Vermont. As a guest of Ben and Jerry. You might know them from the ice cream in your supermarket. Let me guide you through the experience in PICTURES.
My Ben & Jerry's Adventure in Vermont
Vermont! I didn't know who else would be there for the event, and I was a little nervous. But I felt a bit better after I found an awesome goodie back including all sorts of made-in-Vermont treats and a fleece jacket emblazoned with the Ben & Jerry's logo in just my size, and after I had turned on Law and Order, of course.
The next morning, I took a yoga class at a nearby studio before the Ben & Jerry's events started. Om nom namaste!
Afterward, I returned to the hotel, got ready and headed down to the lobby, where I found who else but BAKERELLA! I did kind of tackle her. That part is factual.
We all went to the Penny Cluse Cafe, which used to be one of the first Ben & Jerry's scoop shop locations. Perhaps most importantly: we ate in the room where chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream was invented.
We headed to the corporate offices of Ben & Jerry's, where we split into teams. Mine included Bakerella (my darling!) and Nick from On Second Scoop. We got to invent an ice cream flavor with a flavor specialist who looked just like Alan Arkin. You can't really see it in ice cream form, but trust me on this one.
After our flavor adventure, we had a nice dinner out. Most importantly of ALL: it was on this fateful evening that I was exposed to some cultural phenomena I had not been previously: first, the term "lumbersexual"; second, the term "throwing shade". I now strive to use these terms in at least every other sentence.
After that, we got to go to their factory and see the ice cream made. For no particular reason, men wearing nets in over their hair hack ice cream for a job there!
Oh, I'm kidding. They slice the pints at random to make sure the fillings are evenly distributed. It does look like a Damien hirst ice cream art installation when they do it, though.
WE GOT TO MEET BEN. As in, Ben & Jerry's. He was a really nice guy and he gave us each a stamp so that we could stamp dollar bills with political statements. I'm not kidding.
But I did. I missed Porkchop and my sweetie too much to stay in Vermont, so I took a plane back home.
In the past few weeks I made it my project to do an illustration of the desserts of each color of the rainbow. Here's the beautiful suite of work, all together!
Which color features the most of your favorite desserts?
This year, I made my parents a very special early Christmas present: a portrait of them as pastries, in front of their house (yep, the one I grew up in) in New Jersey!
My mom is depicted as a sweet little cupcake with a sewing project, a fancy little handbag, and a box of chocolates from Jean Louise in Spring Lake.
My dad is depicted as a frosted brownie, with shades and a surfboard even in winter. Because yes, that is how he rolls.
Here's the reference picture I used:
and here is the picture and the finished piece side by side.
I think it came out pretty darned cute, and I thought by posting it here, it might just make you smile. Well, did it? Hey, maybe you should hire me to make a portrait of your family next year or for an upcoming birthday. Just sayin'. Find my online store here.
What do Monet’s water lilies, Andy Warhol’s soup cans, and the below unicorn illustration all have in common? The answer is reference images. Do you know how to use them to create awesome art? If not, you can learn here. I know a lot about this subject, I promise. Read the full article here.
Dessert quirks: we all have them. Even if you don't have established quirks to point to, surely you've been guilty of strange dessert behavior in your life. In which case, even if you don't have a quirk, you've got a dessert confession
This post celebrates those quirky dessert moments and preferences.
I wrote most of these, but some of them were contributed by readers. So don't blame me if you disagree with the quirk, because I might not have written the one you're focused on.
Root beer floats gross me out. Not the taste, the texture.
The word "moist" grosses me out...
...but I can't think of another word that can accurately describe such a cake.
I once bought a grocery store birthday cake because I just wanted a cake to eat for breakfast all week. At the checkout, the cashier said "whose birthday is it?" and I responded "what are you talking about?". And then I realized...
After my wisdom teeth were taken out, I couldn't abide by cottage cheese and jell-o. On day 2, I mashed a cupcake in milk and ate it. And loved every morsel of the mush.
I could eat Pop-tarts every day. I'm not just saying that. I could eat them every single day.
I prefer vanilla to chocolate.
I find angel food cake a complete waste of my time.
Two words: quadruple stuf.
If I get on a kick, I will eat a dessert every day for weeks on end until I get tired of it.
I love eating ice cream for breakfast. I wish more ice cream shops opened at 9am.
I don't like chocolate covered fruit.
Dunking: not a fan.
White chocolate: love the stuff.
I once ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mints as a child and have never really cared for them since.
I know you're not supposed to lick batter that contains uncooked egg, but I do. I haven't died yet.
I don't like flan.
Salt: I put it on everything. Including brownies, cake, and ice cream.
Too many chocolate chips in my cookie and I'm totally turned off. I'd rather have too few than too many.
There is no such thing as "too much frosting". And yet...frosting shots gross me out.
Do you have a dessert quirk? Tell me about it in the comments section!
So you want to learn how to draw unicorns. Well, you've come to the right place. I have been a professional illustrator of unicorns since 2007, and have been an appreciator and collector of these magnificent beasts since long before that. What I'm saying is this: I'm pretty much the best person to teach you how to draw them.
I'm not going to twinkle-toe around it, because I want to get straight to the good stuff. And by that, I mean creating magic with pen and paper. So here we go:
How to draw unicorns
No superior work of art ever resulted from a lackluster state of mind. So before you get started, you have to get inspired. There are a few sure-fire ways: surround yourself with unicorns you love, read this post about hipster unicorns, watch Planet Unicorn on youtube, or rent The Last Unicorn.
Now that you're fired up, grab some supplies. I am demonstrating simply using a sharpie with pink construction paper, but you can feel free to use whatever medium makes you happy. I have yet to discover how a tiny naked baby can assist in the unicorn-drawing process, but I am a believer, so I am sure that one day I will learn.
Oooh, ooh, ooh. Now that we're suited up and insprired, it's time to get drawing!
Now, add little ears on the sides of the horn. You want your unicorn to be able to hear the clatter of cupcake tins that means you're getting ready to bake, don't you?
Add a mane, both as a little puff of hair in front of the horn and between the ears, and a nice cascade of hair down the back of the neck.
Add a swingy tail, too!
Add two assertive dots for eyes. Finally, your unicorn can see your pretty smile! Now, add two lighter dots below, for the nostrils.
Be sure to add a heart near the unicorn's butt. This is a spot from which it draws power and magical love energy.
Enjoy the magic of unicorn art!
I've had the craziest day in Santa Fe.
It started in the morning when I went to BODY for a yoga class. It was a dreamy class, but when I exited...there was a veritable sea of unicorns outside!
Well, I rubbed my eyes, shook my head, and chalked it up to a lack of caffeine so I headed over to the Betterday coffee shop, a known hipster hangout and fine purveyor of coffee.
But you wouldn't believe what I saw there... More unicorns! And these ones looked suspiciously like hipsters.
Starting to think that perhaps I was going crazy, I thought I would escape for a while in the soothing dark of a matinee. So I headed over to the Cocteau theater, which happens to be owned by George Martin of Game of Thrones fame.
But I wasn't alone... The Jean Cocteau appeared to have been taken over by yet more fashionable unicorns, and these ones were reading the Santa Fe Reporter, using iPhones, and even name-dropping.
Sensing that I was experiencing some sort of unicorn-induced hysteria, I decided to seek sanctuary at the Cowgirl BBQ nearby, where I figured I would at least see some people in cowboy hats acting southwest-y, and the horses on the wall would not have horns.
Well. I'm sure that you saw this coming, but the hipster unicorns had infiltrated the Cowgirl, too!
Maybe to those who have spent more time in Santa Fe than me, this type of thing is commonplace. But for me, it was a pivotal moment: I felt like I finally understood why they call New Mexico the "land of enchantment".
Here's some sweet news: there are a bunch of new prints for sale in the CakeSpy online shop!
While I pause to tell you that sweet news, maybe I should point out a few of my personal favorite products in the store.
You could pick up one of these...
or this sweet print...
or maybe this one!
Check out everything on offer at CakeSpyShop.bigcartel.com!
Just to make you smile, sweet readers, I thought I would post some pictures of donut artwork I've been working on.
Donut stop believin! Smile every day.
This art is part of a project I am working on for this site, chronicling your favorite donuts from all 50 US States.
So, enjoy the art, and feel free to chime in: what state are you in (or from, or have knowledge of), and where can the best donuts be found? Leave a comment on this post, email me, or weigh in on Facebook!
Recently, I had the sweet good fortune of spending nearly a week in Lewes (pronounced "Lewis"), Delaware. I was there to paint a mural for three very lucky little girls in their home.
I already shared some process shots with you, but here are a few photos of the finished mural.
But guess what, my friends? Muraling wasn't all I did in Lewes. I also ate some totally sweet treats.
First up was a breakfast of baked oatmeal at Café Azafrán. This does, I realize, veer slightly toward health food, but it was sweetened, and it was so freaking good that it needs to be mentioned. Somehow, the geniuses at this cafe have turned oatmeal into a baked brick of lightly sweetened deliciousness. It had the texture of crumb cake, and remained cohesive enough to handle, but had the taste of oatmeal. It was a splendid breakfast, and they will serve it with milk or yogurt (or just plain). Unfortunately the photos don't do it much justice, so you'll just have to trust me: it's well worth a try.
Although it is not food related, I should tell you that Lewes has a dutch history museum, and over the entryway...well...that looks a lot like a unicorn to me! Clearly, I was meant to mural here.
Back to the sweet stuff. Lewes also has a bakery. It's called Notting Hill Coffee Company, but it has a big sign above the store that says Lewes Bake Shop.
Now, instead of asking what I tried here, you should ask "what didn't you try?". Because it is the primary bake shop in town, and I was there for DAYS. So I got to try a lot.
Including...the "Ooey Gooey", a treat all their own which is described as "not a twist, a danish, a biscuit, or a sticky bun...it's all of the above!".
But taste-wise, they defy one definition. They're definitely ooey gooey. More solid than a doughnut. Not quite as sturdy as a biscuit. COVERED in gooey caramel icing stuff. Oh goodness are they good. It's possible that more than three were consumed during the muraling time.
This bakery featured a lot of sweets made with pastry dough rolled into sticks--including the "gorilla stick", which included a chocolatey nut mixture...
As well as the "Lewes Creation" which had a cinnamon-sugar-apple mixture smeared in the middle.
In both cases the pastries are surprisingly light and shatter when bitten, but are very pleasant in the mouth, indeed.
Similarly delicious, though quite different than the croissant, was a sticky bun. Served in generous slabs and rich with caramelly topping and nuts, these yeasty rolls made mornings happy in this wintry seaside town.
The bakery also does coffee in several flavors (they are beyond happy to let you try all of them) and they do all sorts of flavored hot chocolates. My favorite was the one where they double the chocolate (no, really). It sounds like it might be too much, but trust me, it's not.
Oh, what a delicious trip! Thank you, Lewes, for the sweet memories.
- Notting Hill Coffee, 124 2nd Street, Lewes, DE; online here.
- Café Azafrán, 109 Market Street, Lewes, DE; online here.
- Zwaanendael Museum, 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE; more info here.
Interested in your own CakeSpy mural? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What follows is a fantastic story about sweet art...and one of the biggest artistic compliments I have ever received!
It all started about five (!) years ago, when I was commissioned to do a custom painting of a cupcake, a banana, and a John Deere tractor. It's pictured above. It was a fun piece to do--the person who asked for it explained that the cupcake was for her, the banana was to represent her young son, and the tractor was for her husband. So it was a family themed piece!
Well, that was that, and then a few years passed. Then I was contacted by the same customer, who wanted a new piece to give to her husband for their upcoming anniversary! This time, could I re-do the piece from before, but with a berry farm backdrop?
Well, OK. So I did it, and apparently it went over well, because then I received another note, asking--"could you do another?".
I immediately felt panic--had it been damaged in shipping? Had I done something wrong? But no--apparently, the recipient had loved it SO much that he was scared of even the possibility of losing it, so wanted another, so they could display one, and keep the second as a family keepsake.
Now if that didn't make me feel special, I don't know what would have!
So I did a second painting. With slight differences, because, you know, cupcake paintings are like snowflakes--no two are *quite* the same.
Anyhow--I just thought I would share that sweet story, because it sure made me feel good, and I thought it would make you feel good, too. And, you know, it gives me a chance to show off my artwork.
Custom art available - email email@example.com for more info! Other items for sale here.
Happy Holiday Monday, everyone! I hope you have the day off from work, and suggest you buy yourself a cupcake to celebrate. Or if you do have to work, I suggest you buy yourself two cupcakes, to comfort yourself.
I was recently going through some of my intense pastry faceoff artwork and thought I would post some of my favorite images--guaranteed to make you smile as you decide, in your heart of hearts, who you think would win each battle.
Of course, I should also mention that my artwork, prints, and a bunch more products can be purchased here.
I would like to take a few moments to tell you about a holiday miracle in which I played a part.
A few months ago I was contacted by Santa, who told me he was building a new reading nook for a couple of little girls. One of them was really into the elves from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and could I do a cupcake illustration loosely based on this, so as to decorate aforementioned reading nook?
"Well, Santa", I said, "Okay".
And so I got a reference picture of Rivendell...
...and set to work. I took some liberties. For instance, the elves in the stories ride ponies. But I prefer unicorns, and I reflected this preference in my artwork. The finished product is pictured above. What a lucky girl to have received such a sweet present from Santa!
For custom commissions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favorite things about running CakeSpy is meeting all sorts of wonderful people who I might not have met otherwise.
Take for instance Margaret, a class act and Very Cool Lady (you can view her in cupcake form, at the top of this post) who I met, oh, probably about 5 years ago, shortly after I started the website. Margaret was, at the time, a college student in New York, who contacted me to do some custom artwork for her.
And after I did one custom piece, I did another. And another.
Throughout the years, we got a nice banter going on, and when her family came to Seattle for a visit, I finally got to meet her in person when I had a store!
And when her family came back the next year, we visited again.
I don't know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way, we became more than website writer and reader, artist and consumer--we became, well, real-life friends!
It's amazing to see what kinds of relationships can start and grow through a sweet little corner of the internet such as CakeSpy.
I've got to be honest, though, there is another purpose in my writing this: yesterday was Margaret's birthday and it slipped my mind to say Happy Birthday! I promise, though, I thought it.
So, I'm just taking a few moments to share some of the artwork I've created at Margaret's request over the years...and to say thank you Margaret for making my life sweeter, and very importantly--a happy belated birthday to you!
Thank you also to every reader / customer who has made my life sweeter!
To make you smile, both me and my mom (you know her as SpyMom, but professionally she's Margie Moore, children's book illustrator) made some Halloween art.
Interestingly, although our styles are quite different, we use pretty much the same media: micron pens and watercolor. I use vellum bristol board; she uses watercolor paper. I think that's the biggest difference! It just goes to show how much possibility there can be, even with the same materials.
That's all. Smile! Enjoy.