Getting Caught Up on Catching Up!

Hey guys! So, It’s obvious I have been away for a while, and I’m sorry! But, if it is any way I consolation, I have missed using this forum with you all SOOOOOO much! This space, this place brings me great peace, fulfilment and excitement! I find a balance with in myself that organically occurs whenever I have “blogging” consistency. It allows self-reflection, an openess about myself, my life and the people who I care about (which I don’t feel comfortable exercising in my day-to-day life, although I strive to not be so guarded) and lastly, it allows me to connect and learn about you guys in whatever fashion or capacity you wish. And for all of those things I am BEYOND grateful!

So, here is a “quick” update of what has been going on in my world.

1. I had my thymectomy. The surgery to remove the thymoma I had. The surgery went well and my surgeon feels confidant they got it all! I went in the night before my surgery and received my immuno-therapy. The following morning my surgery was preformed bright and early (I had the rudest awaking: I awoke to my nurse scrubbing me down with the surgical prep soap…which so happens to be ICE COLD!) I chatted with my doc and said my “see you later’s” to my mom and dad, and then off I went for a 5 1/2 hr surgery. Post-operatively I was informed that the mass was much larger and substantially more dense than the CT Scan had indicated. I had a 5 day stay in ICU/intermediate Care Unit, with my wonderful and lovely nurses, other medical staff and the most pleasant janitorial personnel you could ever ask for! They all indulge my intrinsic need to communicate and learn about people. It was one of the single most influential moments in my life, I could not have experienced everything I did and remain unchanged, I am not the same person I was before this diagnosis, months of treatment and ultimately the surgery that has brought me to where I exist now. I still have to go through a couple more rounds of treatment, but I’m optimistic that this chapter will come to a healthy conclusion. As I sit here in front of my laptop typing away about myself (I know…gosh), I promise to become everything and all of whatever it is that I am supposed to become in life with my time here on earth, and I will take you all along for the ride for as long as you guys care to know.

2. My brother David is officially a married man…YAY! He married his best friend, the mother to his little girls and the love of his life! Plus, the cake I made them was AMAZING!

3. I FINALLY TRAVELED TO HAWAII!!! I will be post al; about that in a following post.

4. I had one of the most amazing career experiences I could have ever asked for 2 weeks ago. I had the privilege of making a cake for a styled photo shoot on Kent Island, at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club! I promise to fill you guys in about that and share some of the lovely behind-the-scene photo, in a blog post to come.

5. Lastly, I am planning a trip with my mom and best friend Tara (hopefully…fingers crossed she can get off work) to Santa Barbara, California. I am quite thrilled, as it has been a dream of mine to visit for about 10 years now.

Here are a couple of photos of me the night before surgery and during my recovery:

IMG_2752

The night before surgery goodies…Dolcezza gelato! And a photo montage of some of my favorites, whom we had dinner with!

IMG_2732 IMG_2737 IMG_2741  IMG_2745 IMG_2751 IMG_2747IMG_2769 IMG_2771 IMG_2794 IMG_2795

There it is…the bane of my existence for 9 1/2 months. GONE! 

I want to take this time to say a huge thank you to my family and friends, who with out your constant support I would not be living the beautiful, wonderful and lucky (albeit challenging) life I lead. I love you guys!

So Guys…I Turned 25! Birthday Shenanigans and Exploring Key West!

Hey guys! I’m back, do you notice something different about me…oh you do? Well, that’s because I am %100, bonafide, grown ass WOMAN! Lol…no really I turned 25 on April 20th. In the small scope of my world this year has been tough, which made it all the more beautiful and immensely important I made it to this milestone in life. I know some people believe age is just a number, and to some degree that is true. But, for many, it signifies the growth, fight and hardship we endured to reach that next age. I find that I become so aware of how my spirit, body and heart perseveres, through all of my changes. This year I got another medical diagnosis (that would bring about an additional layer of medical issues, endless doctor visits, treatment therapy that feels like it will go on forever and BIG surgery coming up), I lost my dear friend Devin Cook and I had to take time away from my bakery. Those things alone were enough to bruise my spirit, but I refuse to let things steal the threads of beauty, immense gratitude and inherent optimism that are so deeply ingrained within my soul and weaves throughout every aspect of my life.

Since I turned the big 25, I was lucky enough to take a little trip with the madré! We headed to florida, it was amazing, as florida always is. But, this time we went somewhere different, and different was…KEY WEST! I could have been more surprised, excited and complete thrilled! After a couple of days hoping around florida, I anxiously awaited “the day”. The following morning, we took a small charter plane and landed on the island for 2 days and 1 night of shear awesomeness! Once, I found out, I became strategic, I looked up what to-do, talked to locals and just walked around and explored with my mama! We found a local stop called El Siboney, a favorite cuban restaurant of visitors and locals. And as you know “we” LOVE CUBAN FOOD! We walked along Duvall St., we bought gifts for the fam and found lovely little shops, that shape the beautiful and unique culture, community and way of life that you experience down in the “keys”! So, here is our trip at a glance…
DSC_0137DSC_0144
We had lunch at The Bohemian Hotel, in Celebration, FL. It sits on the edge of the town, with a lovely view of the town lake.
DSC_0143DSC_0147
For lunch I had a delish Pan Seared Salmon over a Tossed Green Salad, with Sparkling water (I kept the bottle and I plan to turn it into a candle holder)
IMG_2050
The decor of the hotel is that of its namesake, bohemian! It’s beautiful, with warm tones that are quite inviting, the staff exhibit wonerdful hospitality and the space also is home to a eclectic art gallery.
DSC_0156DSC_0161IMG_2062
After one of the best lunches of my life. The madre and I walked around town, got coffee, bought some gifts and headed back to the hotel for one last night before we flew to Key West in the morning.
IMG_2059
The view from our balcony, our last night there. Now, off to KEY WEST!
IMG_2076IMG_2080
We have arrived…
DSC_0186DSC_0188DSC_0190
Some of the sights, but firt thing first…FOOD! We walked from our hotel to the glorious, acclaimed and completely authentic Cuban restaurant El Siboney!
DSC_0196DSC_0197DSC_0202IMG_2082 Just us girls!
IMG_2088 We got arroz y frijoles, yuca fritas, mojo, tostones, platanos maduros, and pargo rojo pescado con arroz…and it was AMAZING!!! Do yourself a favor and if you are ever in Key West, stop by El Siboney! After lunch we headed into town and saw alot of the natural beauty that makes up Key West.
DSC_0205DSC_0211DSC_0214DSC_0215DSC_0216 Oh, and of course we hit the beach!
IMG_2092IMG_2091DSC_0219DSC_0226IMG_2095 Once the time in the water came to and end, we headed back to the room the shower and change for dinner! We ate at A&B Lobster House, which sits looking out at the gorgeous harbor. And as you will see below, I still get carded at 25.
IMG_2111IMG_2114
And our wonderful waiter surprised me with this…
IMG_2121 It was be far the best key lime pie I had ever had! It is entirely unique and no one can do it like Key West can! After a lovely and memorable dinner, we went back to the hotel to pack, relax and enjoy the view of Key West at night. But before I go…
DSC_0244DSC_0245 The Ernest Hemingway Museum was so interesting, I think I need to see it again, but next time I won’t be runnign around like a mad woman, trying to see it all before we head to the airport.
IMG_2148 Bye, bye, Key West…until next time!
Thank you to all who wished me a happy birthday, I look forward to many, many, many more! I will se you guys tomorrow for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”! So be well and thanks for allowing me to share my experiences with you all!
An info list of local shops and restuarants:
1. The Bohemian Hotel: http://www.celebrationhotel.com/
2.El Siboney: http://www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com/
3. A&B Lobster House: http://aandblobsterhouse.com/
4. The Green Pineapple: http://www.greenpineapplekw.com/ This place was amazing! It’s a yoga studio, cafe/bakery and boutique. They have delicious gluten-free baked goods and the vibe is great! I had a wonderful talk with the manager Karen!
5. The Ernest Hemingway Museum: http://www.hemingwayhome.com/
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !
P.S.: Peak in on Saturday, I have a special post for you guys!

I’m Back…Wednesday’s with WinniE’s ( May 29th)

Hello everyone! I couldn’t be happier to be back, here with you all and sharing the time I spend developing and creating new recipes or designs for cakes, cupcake and more! Today in the WinniE’s Bakery “test kitchen” something incredibly personal is going on. I know I mentioned before, but my brother David and his fiancée Heidi are getting married. And, you may ask, who might be the lucky one doing the wedding cake? You guessed it, me…eek! So today, I will show the “demo cake”. A “demo cake” or “concept cake”, essentially is an idea that puts to form the design you conceptualize between your client and yourself. Whatever is agreed-upon, can then be displayed through the medium of a styrofoam cake. I absolutely love doing a “demo cake”! The key inspirations for Heidi’s demo cake: rustic, simplistic, small, floral accents (white roses and sunflowers) and all buttercream. All of my favorite things to have in a cake! So here’s a look and how it turned out…
DSC_0021
and after…
DSC_0040IMG_2212Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
This is the finished product. I couldn’t have more excited to be back at trying to create beautiful baked goods. And Heidi was so excited to have a chance to see how the concept we had been discussing and tweeking looked. That way she would feel calm, confident and completely at peace with her desicion to have this style of cake at one of the most important days of her life!
Thanks again guys, see you next week for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”! By the way, if you want to follow the happenings of my bakery between each week “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s” you can follow our bakery on Instagram @winniesbakery. Be well!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

A Night To Remember: The Sweet Serenades of Ms. Kina Grannis & Imaginary Future

Hey guys, happy Thursday!

I am incredibly excited to share this post with you all (although I have been nervous out of my mind to write it!) I had the unrivaled honor of attending the Kina Grannis concert, at “The Birchmere” in Alexandria, Va. The concert was last Monday and I remember being so excited, anxious and blissfully unaware of the stupid grin I had worn all day leading up to the concert! Through the entirty of the performance, until I went to sleep…quite honestly. I am a “new” fan of Ms. Grannis, I discovered her via Google+, while I was in the hospital. I could not be more grateful now looking back, that I clicked on that ‘recommended’ button! She is a natural, raw and powerful talent…a true artist! She’s a singer, songwriter, producer, performer, artist, songstress, a tiny songbird with a big voice! Her songs evoke such emotion, it’s all most as if it is palpable with each verse, each bridge, each chorus, she utters into the universe, dancing along on the meledies she strums with her guitar (PLUS: she and her band have great synchonicity!) Anyway, I don’t want to spend my entire post trying to describe what it is, means or feels like to be in the presences that is “Ms. Kina Grannis”, so I will just have to show you a little bit of my experience.

Here is a look…

Image

On the way!

ImageImage

“The Birchmere”

ImageImageImage

Ms. Colbie Caillat + Mr. B.B. King!

ImageImage

Kina’s opening act was a talent by the name of Jesse Epstein aka: Imaginary Future (I LOVE that stage name). Imaginary Future is a strong lyrical, deeply moving, capitvating and stoic musician…which is probably why is music is so rich with the realities and the moments in life the heart endures. He was an absolute pleasure to watch and experience, as he serenaded the entire audience with his acoustic set, into dumb-founded ahhh! P.S.: He was also smart enough to “put a ring on it” and he is the other 1/2 to the lovely Ms. Kina! Next up, Ms. KINA GRANNIS!

ImageImageImage

I had video snipits of both her and Imaginary Future’s performance, but for whatever reason I am unable to import them into this post. Anyway, she was gracious enough to indulge the audience and she played 3 or 4 encore songs, I do believe.

Here are some cheeky quotes she shared with us during her performance:

“I always struggled with the idea of impermanance.” ~ Kina Grannis (song: “Forever Blue”, inspired by her grandfather’s passing)

“There are your faces, nice to meet them.” ~ Kina Grannis (referring to having more lighting, abling her to see her audience)

ImageImageImageImage

The line and well worth the wait!Image

Imaginary Future and I. He was so kind and very approachable. Is it weird, that I think I fell “in love” with both him and his wife, that night?! That was probably an overshare, but who cares…THIS IS MY BLOG! P.S.: Sorry the quality of these photos aren’t the best.

ImageImageImageImage

That ENTIRE night, will FOREVER be burned into my brain as one of the loveliest experiences I have ever had!!! Kina was warm and incredibly easy to talk to! I told her about how I had wanted to bake her something, but ran out of time. So, I asked her about what kind of baked goods she enjoys and she told me, then I promised to bring her something original. I will create some kind of confection called the “Kina” and bring it to her, at her next show in the “dmv” area, in the fall. I look forward to that moment!!! She was so generous with herself and time for each and every fan who waited to see/meet her! I would like to say, “Thank you!”, to Kina Grannis, Imaginary Future and her band for an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience, that I will carry with me and cherish for the rest of my life! Gosh I am sappy!

Both Kina’s and Imaginary Future’s weblinks:

http://kinagrannis.com/

http://www.imaginaryfuture.com/

You can purchase both of their new albums on iTunes and you can follow + like their respective social media. Everythink from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I have!

Until next time you guys!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

E

 

Wednesday’s with WinniE’s! (May 14th)

Hello everybody, happy Wednesday!!

How is eveyone doing?! I am well and feeling inspired. As you all you, I am incredibly close to my family (not just my immediate). My dad is 1 of 7 children and my mom 1 of 3. So, I can honestly say, my family doesn’t know what a “small get together is like”. I was fortunate enough to grow-up with my cousins. We were always at each others houses, playing “Power Rangers”, while climbing trees or reenacting our FAVORITE music video…The Notorious B.I.G.: Mo Money Mo Problems…ahhh good times! Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my cousin Jordan (aka Jordy) was visiting and we started talking about the new recipes I have been developing for Spring. I told him about how I plan to create a new recipe for each family member. Of course, he was ready to tell me about what flavor elements he would want incorporated into his cupcake. Jordy said he wanted buttermilk, bacon, cinnamon and sugar. After, some thought I knew that this would be a phenomenal recipe, you see I come from a family of foodies + cooks. Plus, Jordy has plans of attending culinary arts school…so proud! I was so inspired to create this recipe, I wrote it in 5mins, but I have been so busy lately that it has taken me 2 weeks to tryout the recipe in the ‘TEST’ kitchen. But, today was the day…I baked what I tentatively call “Jordan’s BBB + Cinnamon cupcake”, it’s a buttermilk + bacon cupcake with a creme brulee top, and a cinnamon + Bourbon infused buttercream!

Here’s a look at what happened in the bakery today…

ImageImageImageImageImage

And now a little music…I even have a playlist, just for cooking and baking!

ImageImageImage

All set-up and ready…

ImageImageImage

Fresh out of the oven!

ImageImage

Stationed…now let’s do this!

Image

A little something sweet!

ImageImageImageImageImage

All done!!! 

I am incredibly pleased with how this recipe turned out! I look forward to debuting it, this weekend at my “Bite + Buy” party! Have a spectacular rest of your week, until next time. See you next Wednesday, for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

E

 

Mother’s Day: A Dinner, Some Cake & Other Lovely Happenings!

Hey guys, happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, I know I did! I feel unfathomably and unimaginably grateful for the blessing that is my MOMMY!! She is my bestfriend and she never ceases to amaze me. She is undoubtably the strongest woman I know. My mom is loving, a fighter, a smart-ass, a medical encyclopedia and the best go-getter around. Now look, I adore Oprah as much as the next (let’s be honest…probably more than most), but my mom rivals her on a daily basis (and my mom doesn’t have multiple teams of people to help, assist or orchestrate her life and career!) She envisions, plans, works her ASS OFF, then makes her own damn dreams come true! I CAN’T hold back my tears as I write this post. She was nearly taken from my family and I, just 6 days before my 21st birthday. She had sustained fatal medical trauma, but by the grace of God, she is still here with us, being a blessing in our lives, day-in and day-out! Just months after leaving the hospital she completed her PhD and is now 1 semester away from finishing her 2nd. Master’s degree. She is a phenomenal WOMAN, mother, wife, daughter, friend, human and all the rest of the minutely significant attributes that amalgamate the person that I call Mommy! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! 
Here is a look at the day…
ImageImageImage
My SPECIAL little helper!
ImageImageImage
 This is one of the lovely Gluten-free flours WinniE’s Bakery uses!

ImageImageImage

Round one done! Now on to round 2!

ImageImageImageImageImage

So this is the unfinished result. I made my mother a Gluten-free “‘David’s’ Strawberry Delight cake w/ Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream”. I had planned on decorating it with floral accents and lettering saying, “You’re the best, Happy Mother’s Day”, but she couldn’t wait. So, unfortunately we ate the cake in it’s more rustic form…lol!

Dinner:

ImageImage

Tonight’s players: a little garlic, thyme, wild spring mushroom, organic locally grown asparagus, locally sorced leeks and arborio rice. I decided to make Wild Spring Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto topped w/ Pan Seared Shrimp. Growing up my dad always cooked, especially for holiday’s, but as life got busier and I got older I started following in his footsteps. So now, I often cook the meals for special occasions or my dad and myself tag team the effort!

ImageImageImageImage

Almost done.

Image

Dad working his culinary magic! He is making his famous “Bruschetta Tomatoes”, a lovely accompaniment to the risotto.

ImageImage

Unfortunately, my brothers couldn’t make dinner because they have families of their own now, but that’s ok…since I am the ‘baby’ every now and again I like having my parents all to myself!

After dinner we went to visit my dad’s mom. Visiting her is always a blessing and a riot, being she is 90 years old and a firecracker, to boot! 

Image

My mom’s mother passed when I was 14. Even though it is rounding 10 years since her passing, times like this are really hard for my mom. She was as close to my Nana, as I am to her. I named my bakery after her. WinniE’s Bakery is done with love and completely in honor of her spirit and the passions she pursued during her time here on earth.

We ended the night with PRESENTS! We got her these new mosaic/art deco plates from Williams-Sonoma. And I think it’s safe to say she LOVED them. She was surprised too…which is amazing becuase she is really hard to buy for, which is why I tend to make things for her.

Image

Lol…I made her close her eyes!

ImageImageImage

Make sure you guys celebrate the deserving mother’s, women or parents in your life! I hope you guys liked it, see you tomorrow for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

 

E

Wednesday’s with WinniE’s! (May 7th)

Hey everybody, happy Wednesday…NOT!

Yes, I do realize it’s Friday. I have unfortunately, for one reason or another, been unable to get a WinniE’s post up on time for the past few weeks. Which, really, really eerks me! I love my blog, I love the support of you all and I try really hard to share interesting, personal, authentic, positive, genunie, deliciously different and utterly delectable post. Anyway, things have been CRAZY at WinniE’s Bakery, for those of you who don’t already know, this week is “National Nurse’s Week”. This is a very special week for me because, not only is my mother a nurse, and my sister-in-law soon to attend nursing school (her mother is nurse as well), but I spent a great deal of my life growing up in the hospital. I suffer from a couple significant medical conditions, but that has never stop me! You want to know why, (aside from the love and support of my family and friends) I have a secret weapon…my MOM!!! In my eyes, I believe there is no great advocate, voice of reason and beacon of insight than to have a nurse on your side…but I am so obviously bias. So, this week WinniE’s Bakery was comissioned for an order for some of the nurses at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington DC. 

I fought through tehnical difficulty, after technical difficulty, after another, to share this post with you guys. Here is a small glimps into what went on in the bakery…

Image

My lovely Aunt Nette bought this delicate and stunning tea cup/coffee mug, as my birthday present! It’s so pretty it took me about 2 weeks to decide if I wanted to drink from it or just keep it as a novelty piece.

Image

A good place to start.

ImageImageImageImage

The start of a little caramel…just bubbling away!

ImageImageImage

The order consisted of the flavors, “Lemon Coconut Creme”, “Red Velvet w/ Vanilla Cream Cheese Buttercream” and “Triple Chocolate w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream”

Image

All packaged up and ready for delivery!

I hope you all liked this Wednesday’s with WinniE’s post! Until next time…