Thursday, April 28, 2011

For those of you who keep asking, "Are you still breathing?"

the answer is, "yes." 

A lot of time has passed since my last post, so I can understand the question.  Life has a way of continually challenging us to grow.  Sometimes we excel in a particular challenge, and sometimes we fail.  My response to recent challenges has been to withdraw, re-evaluate and refresh.

Last year provided some great highs, (the children's book I illustrated for Lee White was published), and lows (my husband and I had to make the extremely difficult decision to put down our German Shepherd, Kip, when he could no longer walk or stand, and I had hand surgery)...

I will write more about Kip in Zoe's blog, but wanted to share a little about the hand surgery and the impact it has had on my life...

First, I had injured my hand in what I thought was a very minor household accident.  I was on my hands and knees cleaning the floor of the panty and when I went to push up to stand, my hand slipped on the wet floor and my right index finger jammed into something.  For the next year I dealt with pain, clicking, minor swelling, and certainly the feeling that something just wasn't right with my finger. 

I felt kind of silly even giving it any attention, after all it was just a finger, but after a year of "dealing with it" I contacted a surgeon to have it evaluated. Surgery was scheduled immediately to repair my right index extensor hood and to do a tendon transfer.  The surgery was November 3rd.  Going into it I thought I'd have the surgery, a few weeks of rehab and then I'd be back to normal with a perfect hand.  I learned that my PolyAnna thoughts were just that and it is now almost 6 months later and I still have pain, numbness, swelling and clicking.  In fact, I refer to my right hand as the, "the big giant knuckle."

So how has my big giant knuckle impacted me?  Well, for someone who has gone through life pretty easy-breezy, my big giant knuckle threw me for a loop!  I can't paint currently and that has left me feeling somewhat out of sorts.  I am a creative being and not being able to paint has been so difficult. I have withdrawn a bit -- I found I needed time to regroup and re-evaluate.  I have been spending more time with my husband, God, and figuring out a way to be creative even with my big giant knuckle = ) 

You may remember that I took some cake decorating classes last year.  I found that I really loved the decorating part, but didn't necessarily like the baking part.  I found that working with icing was difficult because it irritated my big giant knuckle even more, but working with fondant was almost like therapy -- it requires kneading and shaping, which seem to actually help my hand a bit.  Anyway, as I worked through the process of determining what I could and couldn't do, I found that I could make cake and cupcake decorations out of fondant, that could be used to decorate cakes and cupcakes that OTHER people have made. 

...and with those thoughts, the CUPCAKE STYLIST was born = )  As the CUPCAKE STYLIST, I make edible toppers (decorations) out of fondant to stylishly dress YOUR cakes and cupcakes!  This allows me to use my artistic and cake decorating skills to create, and it provides you with a means to obtain custom made decorations to complement your theme or party idea, without the time and hassle of making the decorations yourself.  It also allows you to say, "I made it myself" when you receive all of the oohs and aahs that are sure to come your way from your family and friends!

I  am making designs in four basic categories:  Cut-outs, embossed, hand painted and 3D sculpture designs.  The designs will be offered on my website (which is currently under construction at, and are currently available at .  A Facebook Page is in the works, however I must confess that Facebook pages are still a mystery to me. Once I figure them out I'll add the address/link also. 

Each design can be customized to match your particular party theme and color scheme.  To give you an example of what is available, please continue...

And so, yes, I'm still alive...still breathing...still creating. 

In the midst of my re-evaluation period my husband gave me a little wall hanging that I'll share with you... "Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it is learning how to dance in the rain."  I'm dancing...

Monday, October 11, 2010

INTRODUCING The Family Read-Together Night!

Much earlier in the year I shared that I was illustrating a children’s book – well the book is FINALLY finished and I can now tell you all about it!

The book was written by Lee White, a retired elementary school librarian. Although the story is based on an actual family read-together night at the Hawthorne School in San Luis Obispo, California, this book will appeal to all elementary school age children and families, interested in sharing the fun and enjoyment that can be had by reading together.

As a reader myself, I love that I can travel the world without leaving home, I can learn about how things work, explore history, or escape into the world of fiction, suspense and drama. The universe and all it contains is open to my exploration – all because I can read!

When I was approached with the opportunity to put images to Lee’s story, I was thrilled. This was a “first book” for both of us, and it sometimes felt like it was the blind leading the blind, but we persevered, learned an incredible amount about publishing, and have a 8-1/2” x 11”, full-color, hard-copy book, ready to share with the world.

Lee is in the process of having a website created, so in the meantime, signed copies of The Family-Read Together Night are available for sale in my Etsy store, located at

Thank you for your support throughout this project – your kind words and encouragement helped get us through – THANK YOU!

Monday, May 3, 2010

All Things Cake!

That is just what we are learning, thanks to Mary Pallister, our wonderful Wilton cake decorating instructor!  Mary has such a passion for what she does...and her enthusiasm spreads throughout the class each week, encouraging us on in our attempts to mimic her flower making and cake decorating skills.

Class 1 involved four 2-hour sessions, each designed to teach us how to bake, level and split a cake, frost it, make buttercream decorations and decorate a cake.

Sounds easy.  Well like anything, it takes a lot of practice! 

In my last "cake decorating" post I shared my experience with attempting to frost my cake -- well I have finally moved beyond the neanderthal stage and can actually frost a cake a little more smoothly now.  I imagine that as time goes by and I frost more cakes, it will become even easier -- oh how I look forward to that day!

In class, we used the practice board and flower nail to learn to make various buttecream flowers and border...

Wilton's site has intructions on making all of the flowers we learned, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I will provide links to the Wilton site for instructions on how to make the... half-rose, leaves, ribbon roses, roses, rosettes, shell border, stars, sweet peas, swirl drop flowers, zigzag border, basketweave, carnations, as well as a few other designs.

And at the end of class 1, session 2, here is my first "decorated" cake...

I know...kind of bland, huh.  As we learned to make flowers and borders, we used white frosting.

Well, my hubby and I aren't eating sugar right now, so I knew that this cake would not be in the house long.  I also knew that an anemic looking cake wouldn't be well received, so I took the cake home, scraped off the flowers, colored some icing, and redecorated the cake so I could give it away....

it was a hit. 

For just picking up piping bags and learning the difference between a #3 round tip and a #18 star tip, Mary had us moving right along.  In week three, she asked us to bring some iced cupcakes, marshmallows with a dot of frosting on the flat end, and pocky sticks...

So what do you make with iced cupcakes, icing dottd marshmallows and Pocky sticks?  Clowns...of course!

Mary showed us how to paint the face of the clowns using food coloring, (the dot became the clowns nose).  Then Mary had us stripe our frosting and pipe out the body of the clown.  The painted clown head was attached to the body, by running a Pocky stick through the body.  We then piped on the remaining details and ta-dum, here come the clowns!
Mary also taught us how to pipe bears....

for character cupcakes...

A lot of information had been shared between weeks 1 and 3,so our final session for class 1 seemed like "CAKE" = )

We were asked to bring in an iced cake to decorate in class.  Mary reviewed some flower-making techniques wth us and turned us loose.  So here it is...cake number 2

So there you have it...Wilton Cake Decorating Class 1 completed.  Thank you, Mary! 

Everyone in the class did a great job, learned lots, and we can't wait for Class II to begin!

Monday, April 12, 2010

House Portrait

I have to confess that work on the book has been my "art" priority for the past several months.  It's almost finished though -- just a few pages to finalize and we'll be on to the next stage.

I did recently take a little break from the book to work on a portrait...

The request came from Margaret.  This is a little convoluted, but here's the story...Margaret's husband Bob had contacted me in the fall of 2008 and asked me to paint a traditional watercolor memorial portrait of their beloved dog Shammy, for his wife for Christmas.  Bob provided me with photos of Shammy and we spent the next several weeks emailing photos, drawings, drafts, and progress paintings back and forth.  In the end, Bob had the portrait framed and presented it to his wife for Christmas. 

Margaret contacted me after Christmas and shared the following:

Dear Deborah I just wanted to tell you how much I loved the beautiful painting you painted of my Shammy. You captured his essence, and I feel closer to him each time I look at it. Thank you for all the hard work you put into the painting - I absolutely love it, and it means the world to me! When I received it from Bob, there were many, many tears, but they were good tears. Thanks again, Margaret
Well, fast forward a year and I received an email from Margaret, inquiring about a house portrait --  A surprise painting, to give to a friend who had shared her home when Margaret and Bob were in the process of relocating.  Well, Margaret provided me with several photos and a sketch of what she had in mind for the portrait.  This portrait had a time constraint, so instead of a traditional watercolor painting, Margaret opted for a digital portrait, so we could speed up the process and not have to wait for paint to dry between layers, and didn't require flattening at the end -- which requires an additional 2-3 days for drying.  Anyway, the emails flew between Margaret and I, and photos, drawings, drafts and proofs were exchanged for the next several days.  This is probably the fastest portrait I have ever completed, but we got it conceptualized, painted and framed in the matter of a week!

It was very fun working with Margaret -- she knew what she wanted and once again I was happy to be a part of such a special gift. ~Deborah

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


and it's not even February! 

This past year has been filled with a number of friends and acquaintences being diagnosed with heart disease -- unfortunately for some, the diagnosis came as a result of their autopsy.  Morbid yes, but the reality is heart disease is real -- it impacts our lives, whether directly or indirectly. The good news?  There is much we can do to help combat it. 

You know what is coming, don't you...yes, with minor modifications to our daily routines, we can make positive changes to help prevent heart disease.

I recently took part in the French Hospital HeartAware program, a FREE cardiovascular risk assessment that took about 7 minutes to complete and:
•Assessed my current cardiovascular health status and identified those medical or lifestyle conditions that may lead to development of the disease.
•Shared what I could do to take action to reduce my level of risk, including making you aware of the many services available through French Hospital Medical Center.

•Offered FREE continuing education via e-mail about my specific cardiovascular health and risk factors, if I so desired.
In addition, at the end of the online assessment, I had the option of obtaining a FREE 1/2 hour consultation with the HeartAware Coordinator.  The consultation included a review of my assessment findings, a FREE cholesterol check and the opportunity to have a $99 calcium CT scan to check for any potential problems with my arteries.

At the end of the day, my heart is fine.  I have however taken some steps to ensure that my heart stays healthy -- I stopped eating sugar about a month ago, I have cut out my daily caffiene habit, I'm eating a lot more veggies & whole grain foods, and a lot less junk! 

So what is next on the road to the healthier me agenda?  Walk more!  This is where you can help!  I (along with my dog Zoe) have joined the FzioPed's HeartWalk team to help raise awareness for Heart Health.  The walk will be in October and will benefit the American Heart Association.  Until then, Zoe and I will be preparing for the walk and raising funds to help support the cause.  If you would like to support us in this endeavor and either walk with, or donate to the cause, please go to our Heart Walk web page. As a special thank you for caring, Zoe and I will be making a special PawPrintArt HEART card that we will send to each person who signs up at Heart Walk web page.

Thank you for your support!  ~Deborah & Zoe