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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Baking Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes: A Delicious Recipe

 Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes are a new twist on an old favorite recipe of my grandmothers. I always loved the cake, but wanted to make it more convenient to eat. The cupcake form is perfect for taking somewhere or just to eat around the house.

I came up with this recipe years ago and posted it on my old blog, Fabulous You Photography. It has been pinned and shared thousands of times.  Since it has been so popular, I thought that I would share the recipe here on my new blog since that blog no longer exist for getting the recipe. I know you will love them!

Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes




1 cup butter

1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 24 cupcake liners into muffin pans. In a small sauce pan, bring the butter, water, and cocoa powder to a boil. Turn off and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and cocoa mixture. Stir until well blended. Pour into cupcake liners. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until done. They will be moist. Do not overcook. Cool completely.

Fudge frosting:

6 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter

4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, combine milk, cocoa powder, and butter. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Stir until it starts to thicken slightly. (I stirred it for 3 1/2 minutes) Drop a tablespoon full onto center of each cupcake. The frosting will thicken quickly, so do not make the frosting until ready to put on cupcakes.

*NOTE: This is a pour on frosting. It is not a spread or pipe on. It will still be a little runny when it is applied. The frosting will harden as it cools on the cupcake. The best way to tell when it is ready to use is to drop a spoonful on a plate and see how far it spreads. When it spreads just to the width of a cupcake, it’s ready. If it spreads too far, stir for a little longer.

Happy Baking! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ship Island, Mississippi: Discovering a Hidden Gem on the Gulf Coast

A small piece of paradise lies in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 11 miles off the coast of Mississippi. West Ship Island is an undeveloped barrier island featuring white sandy beaches and stunning blue-green waters. The island can only be accessed via ferry or private boat.

The ferry service to the island is operated by Ship Island Excursions from Gulfport, and the 50-minute ride is enjoyable, often including dolphin sightings and seagull feeding

Fort Massachusetts, constructed after the War of 1812, is situated on the island and was operational until 1903. Visitors can opt for guided tours or explore the fort independently.

Personally, I adore this island because it provides a sense of isolation. The ferry service has limited passenger capacity, and most people tend to stay near the main beach area, leaving the rest of the island relatively empty. A brief stroll away from the main area will give you the sensation of being alone on an island.


1040 23rd Ave, Gulfport, MS 39501


Adult Round Trip              $29.00
Children (Age 3 -10)        $19.00
Senior (Age 62+)              $27.00
Military (Active I.D.)        $27.00
Schedule varies according to the season. Check here.

Enjoy you visit!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Fontainebleau State Park: A Hidden Gem in Louisiana

Fontainebleau State Park is a 2,800-acre park located on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It is a beautiful place to spend some time with nature, yet close enough to New Orleans for some big city fun.

I have listed nine fun things to do and have include some winter and summer photos so that you can see that it is equally beautiful all year around.

1. Fishing is a popular activity at the park.  Check out the pier or cast from the shoreline for some redfish and trout action.

2. With white sand and beautiful blue water, the beach area is a great place for swimming and catching some sun rays.

3. Gathering shells along the shoreline is fun for the whole family. There are several different kinds and colors of shells, but I only collected the white ones.

4. Explore the cluster of cypress trees along the beach. 

 5. Take photos of and with the giant oak trees draped with Spanish.

6. Visit the brick ruins of a sugar mill built in 1829 by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, founder of the nearby town of Mandeville.

7. Stay in one of the 12 cabins that sleeps up to 8 people each for $120 - $150 per night.

8. Do some hiking at one of the two trails.
A 4.8-mile hiking trail and a 1-1/4 mile nature trail

Go Sailing.
Sailing is very popular on Lake Pontchartrain. Delaune YachtBrokerage is located just 9 minutes from the park and offers a couple of sailing options.

You can cruise with Captain Rick Delaune at the helm of the aboard the 42 ft. sailboat, "Windward Passage or sign up for private sailing lessons.

I have looked into the sailing lessons and it sounds like so much fun! I’m thinking about setting lessons up for my kiddos. They are all in their 20’s and I think they would have a blast!

1298 Madison St, Mandeville, LA 70448



62883 Hwy. 1089
Mandeville, LA 70448

Entrance Fees:
$2 per person
Free for Seniors (62 and older) and children (3 and under)

Happy Travels! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Making Banana Bread Balls: A Tasty and Easy Recipe

These are amazing! I found a recipe for banana balls that sounded good, but was horrible when I made them. I experimented with different ingredients and amounts and came up with a totally different recipe that is amazing! I have made them three times this week already due to everyone requesting more.

Banana Bread Balls


2 ½ Cups vanilla wafers (about 70 wafers), finely crushed
½ cup ripe mashed banana
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup confectioners powdered sugar
½ - ¾ cup finely chopped pecans (I like to toast mine first)
12 oz. white candy coating (I used Almond Bark)
Yellow food coloring


Mix crushed vanilla wafers, banana, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and pecans in a medium size bowl until well blended.  Place the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
Melt candy coating according to directions on package. Put about 1/8 cup into separate bowl and add yellow food coloring to get desired color.

Remove vanilla wafer mixture from freezer. Shape into 1 inch balls and dip in white candy coating. Place onto waxed paper. Drizzle with  melted yellow candy coating and sprinkle with pecans. Allow to completely dry and harden on wax paper before storing. Store in refrigerator.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Exploring the Cajun Riviera: Holly Beach in Cameron Parish, Louisiana

If you love finding tons of beautiful shells on a secluded beach, then you are going to love this southwestern Louisiana beach!

Holly Beach, known as the "Cajun Riviera", is a stretch of coastline in Cameron Parish.  The area was completely destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and hit again by Hurricane Ike in 2008. The area is slowly rebuilding, but continues to be fairly isolated.

My first trip to Holly Beach was totally unplanned. We were getting plants from the nurseries in Forest Hill, Louisiana and were looking for something else to do in the area.  We found Holly Beach and decide to check it out since we had never been to that area of Louisiana. It was a two hour drive, but we were feeling adventuresome.   

We followed interstate 49 to the bottom of the state, and then I’m not exactly sure where we were. Are plans were to see how close we could get to the coast and follow it over to Holly Beach.

 Well….for the most part, the bottom of Louisiana is marsh and swamp!  We drove for about 3 hours looking at nothing but marshy areas on both side of the road. It was getting close to sunset when we came upon the Cameron Motel. It was a nice clean hotel, which was a good thing considering it was the only one within 50 miles.

Address: 531 Marshall St, Cameron, LA 70631
Phone: (337) 775-5442 

We stayed there for the night and caught the ferry to go across to Holly Beach early the next morning. The cost for the ferry was $1 per car. We were surprised to find that the kind gentleman in front of us had paid for our ride. We got out and visited with him as we crossed the channel. I could listen to someone with a Cajun accent all day!  

The area around the hotel is mainly shipping ports. There are a few small places to eat, a Dollar general, a fire station, and not much else.  

We were in shock when we arrived at Holly Beach! We drove out onto the beach and there was not another person anywhere to be seen.

And shells were everywhere! Thousands of them!


We had not even planned on going to a beach on this trip, so we didn’t have anything to put shells in. I don’t remember what we found to carry them in, but we got home with tons of unique shells.

I have been to Holly beach several times now and it still remains one of my favorite beaches for shelling. It is an excellent place for walking on the beach and finding shells. 

It is not a good place for swimming at times because of high levels of bacteria in the water, although, I have seen people swimming on every visit since the first one.

 If you would like to check for swimming advisories before you go, click here.

Happy Travels! 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Capturing the Beauty of Lake Catherine State Park's Waterfall: A Christmas Day Photoshoot

We spent last Christmas on Lake Catherine and had a blast. It was a beautiful warm day, so we hiked to the popular waterfall and took our photos there. I thought I would share them with you for inspiration on finding a unique place for a Christmas photoshoot.

A waterfall is so such an unexpected place and everyone has loved all the photos!

I love catching those little moments that will mean so much to the cousins in the future.

Some of my favorites are the unplanned ones like this. I think we made a lot of hikers happy with all the hats. Everyone we passed was smiling!

Our youngest family was worn out from all the hiking. I'm pretty sure several of the adults were tired from carrying him too! I noticed he was passed around a lot during the trip.

Lake Catherine State Park is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas.


1200 Catherine Park Rd
 Hot Springs, AR 71913

Happy Holidays!