Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes… Yum!

Yesterday, March 8, was my birthday.  Traditionally my mom makes my favorite cake for me- angel food cake.  This year was the exception, so I decided to make my own birthday cupcakes!

I love baking, so I looked through one of my Betty Crocker cookbooks and found a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with chocolate orange icing.  I was so excited to bake completely homemade cupcakes…. with a little pizzaz.

Although I ran into some difficulties with the cupcake batter (I forgot to add the orange zest so I had to start all over again), the cupcakes were delicious!  I truly think that these are the best cupcakes that I have ever made.

Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe:

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes


Yields: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 mins


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup hot water

2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

3/4 cup margarine

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place paper baking cups in 24 regular size muffin cups.

2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  In another bowl, mix hot water and cocoa until dissolved- set both bowls aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat margarine with electric mixer until smooth.  Gradually add sugar- 1/2 cup at a time (beat well after each addition).  Beat 2 minutes longer.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each.  Beat in vanilla and orange zest.  On a low speed, mix in cocoa mixture and flour mixture- alternate each.  Beat until well blended.

4.  Fill 24 cupcake cups 2/3 full.

5.  Bake for 20- 25 mins or until cupcakes are spongey.  Remove and cool.

Frosting Recipe:

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes

Chocolate Orange Zest Cupcakes



1/2 cup margarine, softened

3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

3 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons orange juice (pulp free)

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1. In a large bowl, mix butter and melted chocolate until well blended.

2. Stir in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Beat in vanilla and orange juice until smooth.

3. Beat in orange zest until well blended.

4. Use spatula to put icing into a sealable sandwich bag, seal, and cut off corner.

5. Frost cupcakes using bag to create swirl and place small pieces of orange peel on top as garnish.


Grow, Business, Grow!

Once again, I have been neglecting the world of wordpress… I am guilty.  But, with good reason! I promise!  Besides all of my wedding planning craziness , I have also been trying to create more and get my pottery out there.  I do have my Etsy shop, Oak Leaf Crafts, but I also wanted to try to get my work in a real shop.  Guess what??  I did!! Keepin' It Local  Morganza, MD

Keepin’ It Local is a fun shop in Morganza in Southern Maryland.  I grew up in the area and passed the building that houses the local shop often.  However, it was not always a local goods and art shop.  The building was built in 1900 and was used as the local general store, bar, and post office all at the same time.  I personally remember it as an old abandoned building. I was so thrilled to see that someone purchased the old post office and made it into a local goods shop, keeping the history alive.  After visiting the shop and seeing that other local artists had their work in the shop, I had to try.  And they accepted!  Now some of my pottery is in the shop!  There are so many interesting things there and I highly recommend visiting if you are in the area!!

I have also made a page for Oak Leaf Crafts on Facebook (with the help from the fiance of course).  I am trying!!!  One day maybe I will be able to make even more work… who knows!

Some of my pottery :)

Some of my pottery 🙂

My first Keepin' It Local paycheck!

My first Keepin’ It Local paycheck!

Well… It’s been a while.

Hello again.

Yea, yea… I know.  I fail.  Again.  So just like last school year I am having problems posting on here.  A ton has been happening with wedding planning, school work, and attempts at selling things on Etsy.

Really at this point I want to promote my Etsy shop- Oak Leaf Crafts.  I have posted several new items and would LOVE for people to check them out! Stay tuned for more posts…. but for now…. SHOP!!

Eat Food. Series Bowls

Ceramic Tumblers Set

Small Cappuccino Bowls

New Etsy Listings! Check ‘Em Out!

I recently posted some new listings on my Etsy shop and wanted to take a chance to promote them.  I know that I listed a sneak peek in a previous post, but I wanted to show them off a little bit more!!

Hand Drawn and Hand Stamped Stationary and Cards:

I have been drawing and creating cards for friends and family for a very long time now.  Dan asked me why I wasn’t selling them.  Well… I didn’t really know how to answer that, so here are some card creations!  I hand stamped some of them and drew the others.  I am currently working on a custom stationary card set for a friend (Hand drawn Lotus flowers).  These are great for gifts, you can use them for weddings, use them for thank you cards, birthdays, you name it!  I love custom orders, too!!


I wrote about my thumbprint tree book that I drew in a previous post on my blog.  I had really wanted to do this for our wedding for some time now, and after I made ours I realized that people were selling them on Etsy.  I decided that I would put mine up just to see if I could get any sales.  I love drawing trees!  I love weddings!…. What could be better?  I am hoping that someone would be interested in purchasing one of my hand drawn trees because I think that it would be wonderful to be a part of someone’s special day.

I also have been making little rose earrings for brides and their bridal party.  The pair of earrings that I have listed are white roses with blue ribbon.  I can also make roses with ribbon to match the wedding colors.  Smaller earrings can also be made for your flower girls.  These are great gifts for your bridesmaids and flower girls, or if you need a little gift for your bride… this is perfect!

I have listed these plumeria clips (and I have earrings listed) under wedding.  I thought that these would be wonderful to add to the theme of a tropical wedding, or they would be great for a tropical destination wedding.  I use Sculpey polymer clay and chalk dust.  I paint the uncooked Sculpey with the chalk dust to add the color.  I can make them to fit our wedding colors!  Wonderful for birdal wear and bridesmaids alike!

Dog Days:

Some of my more unique pieces that I am currently selling are my dog leash bracelets.  I have two styles listed on the shop page, but I am also accepting custom orders.  People can send me their dog’s leash (as long as it is 1 inch wide) and I can make a bracelet for them.  This is great if you have a dog like mine who chews through every leash that you buy for them, or if your beloved pet has passed on and you would like something to remember them by.  I am very excited about my recycled dog leash bracelets and I hope that other people will be, too!

Octopus Arms:

The last things that I wanted to show off is my Octopus arm necklace.  I wanted to promote these because they took me a very long time to make, and I think that they are really quirky and unique.  Again, these are made from Sculpey Polymer clay.  This clay has a little bit of a sparkle to it.  The suckers on the arm is really what took the longest to do.  Each sucker was created by rolling tiny spheres and using a paper clip to attach them to the arms.  It might sound easy, yes, but it is extremely tedious!  Again, great for a gift for a friend… or even for yourself!!

Check out all of my other listings on my Etsy Shop Page:  Oak Leaf Crafts!

Well Hello, World! We haven’t spoken in a while…

Well, I have been very MIA for a while.  I have been extremely busy with wedding planning, honeymoon planning, and Etsy shop stuff so I have unfortunately been putting off posting on here.  (I know, not an excuse.) But! I have been saving lots of pictures and blog ideas on my desktop! (So there. I haven’t completely forgotten.)

So, first update- I have pretty much finished Save the Dates which is super exciting considering they have taken me pretty much all summer to do. That is a bit ridiculous, so I don’t think that I will be able to make our Wedding invitations as I will have no free time during the school year… oh the joys of teaching.

Next update- Moose has her next vet appointment on Aug. 13 to see if the operation was successful.  For those who do not know, Moose is our Lab mix that we rescued from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.  She just turned one in July, but she had surgery to fix a dislocated hip.  Unfortunately, we do not think that the operation worked because we still hear popping and can see the joint dislocate in her left hip as she walks sometimes.  She doesn’t act like she is in pain though (she still tries to run around and play fetch).  She will also need to get her right hip fixed as well.  She is a wonderful dog and we really have been blessed to have her despite her arthritic hips. 😦

Last update- Dan and I have been spending a ton of time researching honeymoon destinations.  We aren’t your typical couple though because we do not want to go to a resort or go to a tropical destination.  We have actually been researching places that specifically have tree houses to stay in.  Well… we think that we have found the place (drum roll)….  Spain!  We didn’t really have Spain in mind at first as an option, but we stumbled across Cabanes als Arbres during our research and thought that this would be a very unique and perfect honeymoon spot for us.

Neither of us has been to Spain (I have only traveled as far as Hawaii and Canada).  However, the research that we have been doing and the discussions with friends who have visited has proved to be very helpful.  We are planning on staying in the tree house for half of our honeymoon and stay in nearby Barcelona for the second half of our honeymoon.  We are also planning a day trip into Perpignan, France one day.  I am very excited and enthusiastic about this trip.  Now we just need to learn some of the language, decide how we are going to pay for this excursion, and plan our sightseeing itinerary!!

What’s for Dinner?

This question never fails… especially in our house.  I usually have some idea of what I am going to do, but tonight was a little bit different.  Dan went to the movies with friends and I had just finished drawing our wedding oak tree, so I didn’t really have dinner on my mind.  (Moose kind of reminded me that it was dinner time when she started whining…. I got lost in the drawing. Whoops.)

After feeding Moose I basically pulled out all of our left over food tid bits and veggies from the fridge.  Once again I was left trying to figure out how to combine these in some kind of yummy way.  So I ended up with chili lime marinated portabella mushroom, avocado, and a mexican fried rice.



One large Portabella Mushroom Cap

Chili Lime Marinade (Target)


Basmati Rice (cooked)


Canned Corn


Garlic Salt (optional)



Taco Seasoning

Vegetable Oil

I marinated the mushroom cap in the chili lime marinade for about 10-15 mins.  I then baked that in the oven on 350 degrees for 15 mins.  I finely chopped the onion and used a garlic press for the fresh garlic.  When the oven timer was at 10 mins remaining for the mushroom, I started up my pan with about a tablespoon of oil.  When  it was heated I added my onion and fresh garlic and sautéed that for a couple of minutes.  I then added my left over basmati rice, a tablespoon of taco seasoning, and a pinch of garlic salt, salt, and pepper.  I mixed these together and turned the heat to medium.  After the mixture seems fried, add the corn and keep mixing for another couple of minutes (the mushroom should be done by now).  I mashed the avocado and added salt and pepper to taste.

Great option for left over tid bits and really yummy!!

Wedding Thumbprint Oak Tree

Start with a pencil drawing.

The very first project that I worked on in my new craft space was our thumbprint oak tree for our wedding.  I have always wanted to draw one of these for our wedding (I LOVE trees- especially oak trees).  It was really nice working at my new craft table because I could fit my large 19×25″ paper on it without anything hanging off! I also had all of my supplies right there which is quite handy.

Drawing trees is one of my favorite things to do, so this was a lot of fun.  I used pencil on acid free Pale Yellow Canson art paper to begin with.  After I had my basic sketch of the tree, I moved on to the lettering at the bottom.  I measured out the space that I wanted our names in the the space for the date below that.  I then looked up Times New Roman font online and drew our names and date using the image search as a guide.  After the tree, our names, and the date looked perfect, I used sepia colored Micron pens to trace over the lines.  To finish it up I waited a bit for the ink to dry, then I used a large white eraser to erase any pencil lines from under the pen.

Finish with sepia colored Micron pen.

I am so excited about the oak tree!  When our guests come into the reception area they can write a few words of wisdom in our vintage guest book and give their thumbprint on our oak tree!

Sink it!

For everyone who likes sports, or just likes having a good time you should try Disc Golf (Frisbee golf or Folf).  Dan and I started playing this year after a friend introduced it to us.  We really had no idea what we were missing until we tried it.

Now if you are saying to yourself, “Oh I hate sports, I don’t think that I would like that…” oh you are so wrong.  Disc Golf is great for not only the sport-loving, competitive type; it is also for those of us who shy away from competition.  I am by no means a sports fanatic, nor am I competitive… but I LOVE disc golf!

You can keep score if you would like (very similar to golf), or you can just play through for fun.  We usually go to Rockburn Branch Park in Howard Co, but there are a lot of courses.  You may have one right down the street from you and you wouldn’t even know it!  There are all kinds of courses out there… go find one near you and try it out!!

About Me.

Oh hi.

My name is Allison.

I am an art teacher based in Maryland.

I enjoy art, ceramics, sketchbooking, dancing when no one is around, singing in the car, decorating.. and redecorating, cooking, people-watching, and random music.

I am engaged to the love of my life... I can't wait to be married to him.

I like learning about new things.

I find people to be interesting.

Receive notifications of new posts by email!

Join 665 other followers