Outlaw Carrot Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting.

October 4, 2016 at 8:50 am (Uncategorized)

So, last week I was visiting my Daddy and Momma and found this recipe in a Good Housekeeping magazine.  It intrigued me because it uses molasses, dark brown sugar and cardamom and is made in a loaf pan (thus not a whole cake — too much for just darling DannyO and I).  So…  I made two loaves, one for me and one for Daddy.  Dad says it reminds him of a “poor man cake” his Mom used to make many years ago.  It isn’t very sweet but the frosting adds some sweetness.

Outlaw Carrot Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pureed cooked carrots or carrot baby food
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3 carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and coarsely grated
  • 3/4 cup walnuts and/or pecans toasted and chopped

Vanilla Brown Sugar Buttercream

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (this step could be omitted if you don’t have a vanilla bean — just use another tsp. of vanilla)  I like the flecks of vanilla in the frosting 🙂
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream (I didn’t have heavy cream.  I just used milk)
  • flaky sea salt, to finish ( I chose to omit the salt)
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease loaf pan.  Line with parchment paper leaving enough overhang to use as handles, then grease paper.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.
  3. In large bowl, with hand mixer or whisk, combine brown sugar, molasses, eggs and vanilla.  Add carrot puree; mix to combine.  With mixer on medium speed, slowly pour melted butter into carrot mixture until well combined.
  4. Pour carrot mixture into flour and stir using wooden spoon until just combined.  Fold in grated carrots and nuts.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Bake cake 40-45 minutes or until center bounces back when lightly pressed and cake tester inserted into center comes out clean.  Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then gently lift cake from pan using parchment.  Discard paper; cool cake completely on wire rack lined with parchment.
  6. While cake cools, make buttercream: place butter in large bowl.  Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into bowl.  With hand mixer, beat on medium speed until light and airy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down side and bottom of bowl as needed.
  7. Add sugars; mix on low speed to combine.  Increase speed to medium for 30 seconds.   Stop mixer, add cream.  Beat on medium until combined then on medium-high until airy, 1-2 minutes.
  8. Frost cooled cake with buttercream.  sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

A few notes:  I did not have heavy cream for the frosting so I used milk, which was fine.  I did not finish with the sea salt.  The baking time for me was 55 minutes.   I bought the carrot baby food — worked great.  Next time I will purchase pre-grated carrots because I made a mess grating them myself.  I LOVE the frosting!  I will be using it on other recipes — it would work great on a spice cake!!

There seems to be a lot of steps, but the recipe is fairly easy.

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A Unique Table runner

February 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm (Creative adventures, Home Projects)

I meant to write this blog post last week but I lost three days… again!!  {{Sigh}} Every time I think I am winning the battle, I get socked with a TN and ON attack.  I am happy that I was only down for three days and not four or five!

Anyway, I found a picture on the internet that peaked my interest.  I like to use a table runner for my kitchen table.  I have various themes… winter, summer, Christmas.  I was putting away my winter runner since Punxsutawney Phil did predict an early spring — yeah right!!  I wasn’t ready to put out my summer-themed runner so I was trying to find ideas.

I cannot claim that this is my original idea.  However, once I looked, there were so many examples, I couldn’t point you to the originator of this idea…  so I will say that it is original to me because of my unique parts 🙂  Cryptic enough??

I found my stash of doilies.

Table Runner-6

I ironed and starched said doilies.

Table Runner-7

I divided the doilies into shapes…

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Then I put painter’s tape 18″ apart on my table and started to place the doilies.  I knew that the middle doily needed to be the large blue one — my Grandma Millie’s.  There are others from her but they are mixed into the many I’ve purchased at auctions in those $1.00 boxes!

Table Runner-4

I played around with placement and then used cotton thread to connect the doilies.  They are done securely but I can take them apart easily should I decide to do something different.

Table Runner-1

Table Runner-3

Table Runner-2

It took only about two hours from start to finish.  I spent lots of time ironing all of the doilies…  I have enough left over to make a few more!!

The vase is one I “mirrored” myself.  You can see the tutorial here.



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An A+ Idea

February 5, 2016 at 7:59 pm (Decorative Painting, mixed media, Musings...)

An A+ Idea-2

Buying Christmas presents for adult children is very difficult.  I honestly don’t know their tastes and I purchase most things with a gift receipt.  This year my son-in-law and I had a great partnership… I gave him a dollar amount and he ordered his presents and had them shipped to me.  I wrapped them and he acted surprised when he opened them 😀

I had one great idea…  I think I came up with it during one of my nights of insomnia.  I gathered the wedding pictures of my parents, Dan’s parents, Danny and I, Amanda and Hengyi and the “save the date” picture for Brent and Marissa.  I got some cool picture frames from Michael’s. These I painted black because they were “shabby-chic” and neither couple likes that look (sad for me because it’s my favorite look!).  I had the pictures printed in 4×6 size.  Actually, Dan’s Mom and Dad’s picture is considered a “portrait” and Walmart wouldn’t print it so I had to use my home printer.  Who knew???

I inserted the pictures into the frames and wrapped them, anticipating Amanda and Brent’s reactions.  Surprisingly, my son cried, Amanda didn’t 😀

An A+ Idea

My son-in-law called it “an A+ present!”  Christmas 2016 is only 11 months away.  🙂

I must report on the art class I went to last Saturday.  I wrote about it in Courage… Be Brave.  It turned out, it was more of a “wine and paint” party.  Groups came and stuck together.  I love learning from Paul Seymour.  I don’t know if I will go again, but I painted a beautiful picture.


Paint Party Picture

I am working on a “Journey” piece.  I originally made one for my friend from college.  She was away when I posted it on my FB page and another classmate, from high school, wanted to know if she could purchase it.  So… I made a second piece.

The first piece…Courage-Tammy Fast

The second piece…

So, that’s my story.  I hope you enjoyed seeing my A+ idea, my paint class piece and my two new “Journey” pieces.  Be blessed my friends!!


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Courage… Be Brave

January 30, 2016 at 4:30 pm (Anxiety, mixed media, Multiple Sclerosis, occipital neuralgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

One of the reasons I stopped blogging was because I didn’t want to ‘splain myself.  But, since I’ve started again, I need to be honest.  Ugh…

I have Multiple Sclerosis, trigeminal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia.  Blah blah blah… you know, I’ve explained it before, legs don’t work, eyes don’t work, pain in the head and neck – literally.

But every once in a while another issue rears its ugly head – agoraphobia.  I have one day a week that I absolutely MUST leave the house — errand day. I plan carefully for six days and I usually take my trusty sidekick, Jazzy.  I manage to make it through, although by the time I get home my anxiety is sky-high and I compensate by counting… by fives… 1,2,3,4,5 or 5,10,15,20… on and on.  By the time I get my groceries put away I am exhausted!!

This coming week I must leave the house two days — once for a very necessary hair appointment and twice on Wednesday — dentist and pain management doctor.  I am already looking towards those days, working to manage my anxiety.

Tonight I am going to a fun paint class I signed up for two months ago.  It is a fundraiser for the Cresson Lake Playhouse.  When I signed up my agoraphobia was under control. Today… not so much.  But, I said I would be there and I AM going.  I am ready to go, two hours early, with my supplies packed.  Rushing and last-minute things increase my anxiety.  If DannyO were going, it wouldn’t even be a problem.

My brain goes to stupid places like, what if there isn’t a seat for me?  What if I don’t know anyone (which is totally stupid because I know I know most of the people!!) What if I can’t find a parking place?  See??? Stupid places.

This week I’ve been working on a Journey piece for a gal I went to college with.  She chose “Find Courage for the Journey.” She had three specific Bible verses she wanted in the piece.  I put the final layer on earlier today — the beeswax.  I am going to blog later this week on my step-by-step process but today I will show you the final piece.

There is a quote I put on every “Courage” piece.  It’s by Eleanor Roosevelt.  It says, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

I’m sure she was talking about people with many more problems than agoraphobia, but today it is my REAL problem so…  I will do the thing I think I cannot do.  Head out the door at 5:30, paintbrushes in hand, and enjoy myself for three hours moving paint around.

Courage-Tammy Fast


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Subway Art

January 26, 2016 at 4:00 pm (mixed media, Subway Art)

I am moving slowly today, but I wanted to blog about my new favorite artistic medium…  Subway Art!  I got a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas 2014.  There is a large learning curve so it took me a while to make it really work for me.  I designed and made these two signs for Amanda and Marissa for Christmas.


I then worked up a piece using a line from a Beatles’ song — Let It Be.  I have a piece ready to ship tomorrow.  I like this one too!


…whisper Words of Wisdom…

And then I had a great epiphany… my favorite group, Chicago was inducted into the Rock & Roll HOF.  I found a website that listed their top 10 songs… so I made a piece with their top 10 songs listed..

Subway Art-1

I can do any type of lettering with my Cameo.  The only caveat is I need to be patient as layers dry.  Also… do not buy cheap contact paper — you will have to re-do again and again.  (ask me how I know that?!?!?!)

So, this is once again another way to express myself — and I think I’ve only touched the surface of all I will be able to do!!

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I am Fearless!! (Becoming the Child I Never Was)

January 24, 2016 at 1:32 pm (mixed media) ()

I spent yesterday in bed with a trigeminal and occipital neuralgia attack.  The storm blew through, leaving over a foot of snow.  DannyO spent the day plowing.  I spent it making bargains with God.  It didn’t work and as usual, things had to run their course.  Today I am medicated to the gills but am vertical, not horizontal so that is good.

I am taking an art course on line for the first time, Life Book 2016. Every week there is a new lesson.  This week our lesson was by Annie Hamman called “Fearless Art.”  She works with her four-year-old daughter Tallulah on some pieces, allowing Tallulah to paint on a piece she has already worked on and then finishing it, without covering up Tallulah’s marks.

She encouraged us to let our children work on the piece with us.  Since my “children” are grown and in different states and I have no grandchildren, I followed the directions that used me as the child!

The problem is, I always colored in the lines, even as a small child.  I was not fearless, but very cautious.  I liked (and still do) knowing the outcome before I started.  So… this was indeed a stretch, trying to become the child I never was.  Add my usual anxiety and OCD and there is a strong possibility this exercise will be another *FAIL*    Hmmmm…

Fearless Art-4

I sketched a loose interpretation of my face (hey, it’s my art, I can dream… 🙂  )

The second issue is that Annie paints completely different than I do — using bold colors as her undertones.  I always choose a “safe” route — skin-like tones, shadowing and highlighting as expected.  But, since I’m trying to grow as an artist, I chose to use the colors she used — phthalo blues and greens — very bold!!

I painted using the colors she suggested and thought to myself, “What a mess!! And I’m supposed to mess this up even more???”  My anxiety was high.  It was hard to even leave the painting in this state before becoming a child again.

Fearless Art-1

So now comes the even harder part…  How to I think like the child I never was??  Hmmm… so I got out pink and purple because those were (and still are) my favorite colors.  I drew and stenciled but stayed safe.  Then I thought, if I were four, how would I draw a mouth??  And… I drew a smiley face right over my painted mouth.  Yikes!!

Fearless Art-2

I am almost glad I couldn’t paint yesterday because I probably would have tried and covered up most of the “mess.”  But since I had to wait until today…

Fearless Art-5

I left most of the underneath mess visible, only adding lines where I felt I needed to make things understandable.  You can still see the smiley face underneath the lips.  I had to make wild curly hair instead of the soft waves I had originally planned because young “Melodye” used a lot of squiggly lines.

Fearless Art-3

I am very very very proud of this piece!!  I actually love her!!  I feel like a door opened – and I will be able to use what I learned again.  Will this be my “new normal” way of painting??  Probably not, but, Annie, if a woman with OCD and anxiety can do this, you can be called a miracle worker!!


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Chicago’s Top 10 Hits – Subway Art

January 21, 2016 at 8:27 pm (mixed media, Subway Art)

I am working on a bigger project but I wanted to show you a fun one I did over the last few days.

As my daughter knows very well, I was obsessed with two things in 2015; the music of Chicago and seeing Jeff Gordon win the Sprint Cup Championship.  (Amanda, did you check out “A Hit By Varese?”)

Jeff didn’t win, but Chicago was elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!!

I’ve downloaded most of their music to my iPod because I don’t have a record player to play their albums and got to thinking about their top songs of all times.

The website, Ultimate Classic Rock actually has a list of their top 10 songs.  I thought some more and wondered if there would be a way to use my trusty Cameo and make a piece of subway art…

Ta Da….. !!

Subway Art-1

My favorite song “Little Miss Lovin'” isn’t on the list 😦

It was a lot of work but a lot of fun 🙂   I used a layering technique and used the Cameo to make the stencils

Subway Art-2

This is the stage when I put the stencils on the piece, and subsequently painted over it 🙂

So, it was an easy and very fun project…  🙂


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That Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)

January 17, 2016 at 9:54 pm (Creative adventures, Knitting projects, mixed media)

I am taking a 5-6 day break from Facebook.  I find that it can be a giant hole that sucks me in and before I know it, hours have passed!!  I’ve got stuff to do!!  So… if you don’t hear from me, I’m okay, really, I am!!

Last year I bought a beautiful book of knitting projects called Boutique Knits.The Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)-5

I have to be honest and tell you that I bought it solely for the hat pictured on the cover!!  Actually there are a few more I want to work up but I need the specific needles so that goes in my pile of “to-do projects.”

Knitting for me is an interesting adventure because I am a self-taught, left-handed knitter!! Everything I read now tells me I should have learned the “continental” way.  Well, I tried that last year and it was a big fat *FAIL.  So, I need to reverse all of the directions.  Try and do that while you are knitting (and you only knit once or twice a year)!!  You guessed it… I tear out rows and rows!!

Anyway, I made the beautiful hat last year in a raspberry color.  I was Amanda’s “band” for a women’s retreat while she led worship.  I had her put the hat on and she looked so beautiful in it I gave it to her!

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Doesn’t she look beautiful?!?!?! (As an aside, it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to get this ONE picture from her Instagram account 🙂  )   I may not be tech-savy, but I am persistent!!

Anyway, this year I decided to knit myself one.  I didn’t want a twin look so I chose a lighter pink.  It went much smoother this time because I caught my “backwards” error only two rows into the body of the hat!!

The Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)-2

I love my hat!!

Today the Pittsburgh Steelers played in a playoff game in Denver.  I was so nervous and since I couldn’t peruse Facebook for relief, (remember my hiatus…), I decided to draw a face with a twist…

The Time I Knitted A Hat (Twice)-4.jpg

Isn’t she beautiful???  I don’t know what I’m going to do with her, but I know it will be something special!!

Here’s to a productive week!!!

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Drawing Faces… and More Faces

January 14, 2016 at 5:05 pm (mixed media)



This is where I am now… but here is where I began



I began art classes in 2006.  I learned how to paint flowers and scenes, learned Rosemaling and other decorative art techniques.  I always said “I can’t draw!”

Millie was my first face, drawn three years ago.  I was in a dark place and was doodling as I sat one rainy October day.  I drew her and wrote “Millie” without thought.

A year ago I had an idea for 4 mixed media pieces — I call them my “Journey” Pieces. “Find Joy In the Journey” “Find Strength for the Journey” “Find Courage for the Journey” “Fine Hope In the Journey”

Okay, so I had my concept, now I needed to figure out how to draw faces!!  My Millie face was inspired so she didn’t count!!

So, I started drawing.  My first attempts weren’t very good but I kept drawing.  I don’t have every face I drew because quite honestly some ended up in “File 13.”   I usually draw faces when I am watching TV in the evening with DannyO.  The best book I purchased (and it was worth every penny) is Jane Davenport’s Book on Drawing Beautiful Faces.   Here are a few…

I kept at it…



And here I am now!!

Danny says they all look alike 🙂  I say I have a brain thinking something very specific and these are what pop out!!  My noses and mouths are getting more detail.  I am learning how to draw eyes without huge eyelashes!!

As I continue to grow as an artist, I will keep practicing!  It will be interesting to see how they evolve.  I love all of my girls.  In my eyes they are all beautiful!!!

Have you tried something completely new and different lately??  If not, why not??  You CAN do it!!

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January Sewing Adventures

January 11, 2016 at 12:42 pm (Sewing Projects)

I have sewed since I was 10 years old.  This was my very first sewing project.  🙂


My First Sewing Project… 1969

I have gained weight and nothing in my closet fits.  Until I lose the weight (It may be at the 12th of never), I wanted to have some pieces that I feel comfortable wearing.

I like to purchase from small retailers and I’ve bought Hot Patterns for about five years but haven’t made any of them until now.  Their patterns are printed on heavy paper and I find that the sizes are closer to what I wear in ready-to-wear (size 10-12).

The first pattern I made was their “Fast and Fabulous blouse-back T.” I altered the pattern to make a jacket in the style of a popular QVC designer… I added two inches to the center front for the placket.  I also made the sleeves 3/4″ instead of short. Because I opened the front, the back shoulders ended up being a bit big.  Because of that, I sewed a small dart from the shoulder seam, diagonally, to the sleeve seam.

I then decided to make their “Fast & Fabulous Famous Tummy-taming Trousers.” I did make a muslin for this pattern.  I wore a size 12 without any alterations.  I used a stretch denim I got at Joann Fabrics.  I am very pleased with the way this pant turned out. I sewed them in two hours, including the invisible zipper.  I did not include the side-slit because I intend to wear these in our cold PA winters!   I am learning to master my serger and it came in handy as I zipped through this project.

I have a lighter color denim I am going to use the next time.  I also will probably shorten the waist by about one inch.  I love the high-waist look but I want a more neutral waist next time.

I hope to finish my jacket this week.


McCalls 7256

The paint is dry on my in-progress subway art so I must get back to my task at hand.  I hope you enjoyed reading about my sewing projects 😀

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