Happy Birthday Blog!

Today marks the first "birthday" of my blog. I still can't believe it's been a whole YEAR since I started blogging! To celebrate, I have a special lemon cupcake recipe I will be sharing later in this post.  But first, I want to share some changes I made around the blog to celebrate!

You may have noticed some new features around the blog.  I have a new banner, social media buttons, AND I now have a button you can grab. I had originally created a new header and cover photo for Facebook in different programs, but wasn't entirely content.  I really wanted more uniformity between my different sites, but I was using different tools.  I discovered a great free photo editor, PicMonkey, that allowed me to create the new features for the blog. There are some advanced icons and tools in PicMonkey that require registration and monthly fee, but most of the features were free. I found it very user friendly and was able to do everything I wanted all on that site.  I even made my pic for this post showing my year of blogging in pictures! 

To create more uniformity, I was able to use my new banner and button as my cover photo and profile pic on Facebook. Here's my new Facebook layout:

New Facebook Layout

You may notice my new social media buttons. Those are actually pics of fondant cupcakes I made topped with the fondant social media symbols.  I will be posting a tutorial later this week for creating your very own social media buttons.  It's not difficult to do with the right tools, it just takes a little time. I also have now introduced a button for my Etsy shop. 

Here's a close-up of my new social buttons and blog button:

New Social Media Buttons

New Blog Button

Throughout this past year, a lot has changed with my blog. I can see major differences in writing, layout, recipes, and of course improvements in decorating! Through cake decorating courses, recipe testing, LOTS of practice, and researching tons of successful blogs, I have come a long way in a year. For my first year of blogging, I had some goals I wanted to reach in baking and blogging that I feel I was able to accomplish:
  • Create Facebook page and reach at least 100 "likes" (At the start of February I only had around 80 likes and wasn't sure I would reach this.  Thanks to a lot of new followers from blog hops, I've now reached 132!)
  • Have guest blog post published
  • Be featured in a blog link party (TWO!)
  • Experiment with recipes and create new flavors
  • Complete Wilton classes
  • Open Etsy shop to sell fondant decor
  • Begin selling cakes cakes
  • Gain followers from other blogs
  • Mingle with other bloggers 
I wasn't sure if anyone else would care or even want to read my posts, so I love getting comments and new followers I have never even met.  I still have a long way to go, though.  There have been a few times early on when I even thought about stopping, as I felt few people were interested in or reading my blog.  But, I've kept at it and am slowly seeing an increase in readership and followers.  I may never be one of the most successful bloggers, but I enjoy it and hope that others find some cute ideas and delicious recipes.

That being said, I have some goals for my next year of blogging and cake decorating:
  • Build larger following on Facebook
  • Increase followers on Blogger
  • Utilize my Twitter account more and build following
  • Sell more items on Etsy and other craft fairs
  • Advertise and gain more clients for cake decorating in my area
  • Co-host or host a blog link party
  • Host a successful give-away on the blog
  • Pair up with other blog(s) and do guest posts
  • Develop original recipes
I may or may not reach all those goals, but I hope to continue to see my blog blossom and grow throughout this next year.  Who knows where it will be by its second birthday! 

Let's continue the celebrating with what you came here for - a special cupcake recipe and birthday decor!

These delicious, lemony cupcakes are ones I made for a friend several months ago.  I decorated the treats with some birthday decor, but realized I failed to ever blog about it!  I noticed it a few weeks ago, and decided my blog's "birthday" was the perfect time to share it!

As with many of my posts, I've mixed and matched recipes.  I decided to go for a double lemon flavor - lemon cupcake AND lemon buttercream.  Neither flavor was overly strong, so the combination didn't become too overpowering. The combination made for a great lemon flavor.  The cupcake recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Lemon Meringue cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcake ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter - room temp
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tbs finely grated lemon zest (about 3 lemons worth)
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Lemon Cupcake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Line muffin tin with cupcake wrappers
  • Combine dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking powder, salt)
  • In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each addition
  • Mix in lemon zest and vanilla
  • Add flour mixture alternately with remaining liquids (buttermilk and lemon juice), mixing completely after each addition
  • Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for around 20-25 minutes. To ensure fully cooked, stick a toothpick in as it will come out clean when finished.
Instead of the meringue topping, I paired this with a lemon buttercream.  I found the buttercream recipe from my go to baking resource - Wilton's website.

Lemon Buttercream ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
Lemon Buttercream directions:
  • Cream Crisco and butter together until light and fluffy
  • Beat in vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon juice
  • Beat in powdered sugar, adding approximately 1/4 lb at a time
  • Add additional liquid if dry (milk for a lighter lemon taste, lemon juice for a more lemony taste)
To finish up cupcakes, I piped on the buttercream using the 1M tip.  I used the various sized flower cutters I had to create some cute details to lay around the cupcakes.  I also cut out "Happy Birthday" and free hand cut a couple leaves.  To add just a special touch to the cupcakes, I cut out small flowers. Tiny rolled balls of fondant served as the center for the flowers, I added them using gum glue (gum paste or fondant dissolved in water). I just placed these flowers on the icing to give it just an extra touch.

I'd like to end with a big THANK YOU to all my readers for one great year of Sarah Lynn's Sweets!  I LOVE to hear your comments and feedback and hope to see you again for another sweet and delicious year of recipes and decorating! 

Note - If you are interested in co-hosting a blog link party or in guest posts, feel free to leave a comment or email me.

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