Getting in touch with my creative side

Life's a little more than crazy right now, and I'm not really sure how we got here. It's been at least a week since the hubster and I had a night in alone together and it seems like we're starving for time together and some answers to all of the questions we're asking. It feels like I'm just throwing all my cards up in the air at once, hoping that at least one of them lands face up.

In the meantime, while I spend so many hours crying/thinking/praying/seeking, I've found shamefully little time to cook. In some ways, I know that's why I've felt so stretched thin ... so exhausted.

There is a deep need in me to create. I don't consider myself a particularly "creative" person, but I love to create. Be it cakes, or blog posts, or pictures, or the rare piece of artwork (my Bible study girls and I occasionally have "craft nights"), I feel satisfied when I can look back at something and say, "That's mine. I created it. I formed it out of a vision in my head. It's beautiful, because it is mine." It reminds me that we serve a Creator God, a creative God. And I think it is an important exercise in our spirituality, to create and connect to the creative side of our Father.

Sometimes I'll go weeks without creating something. My work doesn't involve creation ... lots of regurgitation, and rewording, and tweaking, organizing, assigning and polishing. But I am not working with anything that is mine, and that gets exhausting sometimes.

So tonight I spent several hours making pillows and I felt so accomplished. They aren't spectacular. They are sweet and colorful and will replace the horrifyingly-awful brown ones that have sat on our couch since we got it. And that makes my soul happy, to sit back and see something that I created.

I hope that's how God feels.

And of course my creative side is often expressed in the kitchen, though there is a difference between creating something lasting and something quickly gone. There's still joy in it though! And I've been trying to step it up a little lately, putting in more effort and having more fun. That equates to an awful lot of cupcakes ... probably because of a delightful shopping spree I took over at BakeItPretty.

There were these seasonal treats ... pumpkin spice with maple cream cheese frosting:

 

And then mini chocolate sour cream cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream for my sweet friend Priscilla's birthday:

 

This weekend, I decided I wanted to make something super special for my best friend Kim's birthday. She's been my bff since middle school, and has put up with my crazy heart and silly mind longer than anyone. She loves coffee, and I'm still on this tiramisu kick, and so I found this recipe for Vanilla Cake with Tiramisu Buttercream that tickled my fancy yesterday afternoon.

It provided a couple of fun challenges: ganache (where does that go on a cupcake?) and another attempt at swiss meringue buttercream. Yes, please!

So I made the cupcakes, which turned out too dry for my liking (but I've decided next time they will get a wash of rum when they get out of the oven, which should seep down into them and make them perfectly moist and even more tiramisu-like):

Then a layer of chocolate ganache ... mmmmm ...

And then, what may be my new favorite frosting (next to pb buttercream, of course) ... swiss meringue buttercream with coffee.

What I didn't realize until I had already started on the egg white portion of the frosting was that the HALF recipe I was using still called for 2.5 sticks of butter. The full recipe is 1 1/4 pounds of butter. But 2.5 sticks, divided across 14 cupcakes, is a whole lot of butter.

But oh, so worth it!

Swiss meringue buttercream has such a very different consistency than regular buttercream, it's really fun to play with. Unfortunately I was out of piping bags (crisis!) so they didn't end up as pretty as I would have liked.

Frosted cupcakes:

Then a dusting of coffee and cocoa powder, tucked in a cute little box, and ta-da! Happy birthday, best friend Kim!