Red, White and Blue 4th of July Cupcakes

Patriotic Cupcakes by jRoxDesigns

I don’t know about you all but I love to celebrate our beautiful country’s birthday just like we celebrate our family’s birthdays…with cupcakes!!  This fun patriotic twist works well with just about any white cupcake mix! They are so fun and easy to make, even the kids will be begging to help make them.  For this batch I decided to go with a wedding cake recipe because let’s face it, I don’t know anyone who can say no to wedding cake!  Paired with a simple buttercream frosting these sweet treats are sure to fly at your 4th of July cookout.  I even topped them with super cute cake toppers from Kori who was on the Craftaholics Anonymous 2013 Creative Team with me!

Patriotic Cupcakes by jRoxDesigns

 Wedding Cake Cupcakes

Yield: 2 dozen | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes


1 16.25 ounce box white cake mix

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (you may use almond if you would like)

1 cup sour cream

4 large egg whites


1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Line your muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

2. In a large bowl bowl whisk together cake mix, flour sugar and salt.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well until all ingredients are well blended, approximately 2 minutes.

3. Scoop batter into your lined muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full.

4. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Cool in tins for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Recipe Girl

Patriotic Cupcakes by jRoxDesigns

Classic Buttercream Frosting

Yield: approximately 4 1/2 cups 

3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

2lbs powdered sugar (approximately 8 cups)

1/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (You can also substitute almond extract)

2-4 tablespoons milk


1. Allow butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. In a very large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

3. Gradually add 2 cups of the powered sugar beating well.  Slowly add in the 1/3 cup milk and vanilla.  Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar.  Beat in additional milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency.

Recipe from BHG Cupcake Magazine

Patriotic Cupcakes by jRoxDesigns

Patriotic Variation: 4th of July Cupcakes

You can make almost any flavored cupcake as a base for this fun twist but I chose a clean white base so that I had as close to a true “red, white and blue” color scheme as possible.

1.  Follow recipe instructions until your batter is completely mixed and then seperate the batter equally into three bowls.  For the wedding cake recipe above each bowl had approximately 1 3/4 cup of batter.

2.  Put one bowl aside untouched to be your white layer.  Add red and blue food coloring to the other two bowls until you achieve the desired shade you are would like.  Tip: For recipes where I’m worried the extra liquid may dilute the recipe I love to use gel food colors.  Especially when you are trying to use red food coloring and in order to get more of a red rather than pink I think they are very helpful.  Give them a try!

3. Spoon each color into lined muffin tins in your desired order.  For this recipe I spooned about a tablespoon of each color into the tin (*Remember the tins should only be filled 3/4 of the way full!)  After each addition try your best to smooth out each layer so they completely cover the previous layer.  This will help to give you distinct layers that will not run together while baking.  Bake as according to recipe directions, pipe with a tasty frosting, add fun sprinkles and be sure to mix it up with cute free 4th of July cupcakes toppers!

Patriotic Cupcakes by jRoxDesigns



Waiting On Words – Living Life with Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Before our children are even born we as their future parents always dream about what kind of person they will be, what their personality will be like.  We fantasize about our own children’s hopes and dreams and even who they may want to be when they grow up.  Before my daughter was ever born I always imagined she would be just like me.  I saw her as being outgoing, very talkative and all around a social butterfly making friends wherever she went.  Although I should know by now that life never goes the way you think it will.  I still laugh at the saying “If you want to see God laugh tell him your plans” because life is a total adventure that we will never have plans for.  A few months after Emma Grace’s second birthday she was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech and I quickly realized that the little girl I dreamed about was not my same as my beautiful and amazing daughter that God has given me.  Not only has Emma Grace’s daily life changed drastically over the last nine months but our lives as a family have changed as well.   What used to be flexible and open-ended weekdays have now turned into running around to speech therapy sessions, a specialized preschool program and spending hours every day working to help Emma Grace find her words.  I started to write this post as a way to document all the ups and downs of her journey so that we can never forget how far she has come.  Last week families around the world celebrated Childhood Apraxia of Speech awareness day and even though I am a little behind I still wanted to be able to share with you the journey our family has been through over the last year.  Although it is long I hope you stick around and learn a bit about what thousands of children around the world struggle with every day.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a poorly understood neurological condition affecting motor speech.  Children with Apraxia have difficultly saying sounds, syllables and words.  The brain has problems planning to move the body parts such as the jaw, lips and tongue needed for speech.  The child knows what they wants to say but their brain has difficultly coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.  Imagine that your child falls or is bitten by something outside.  She comes in crying and trying to tell you what happened but you can’t understand her.  She tries her best to point and come up with the words to tell you but there is only so much that she can do.  What happens when every parents worst fear comes true and your child gets lost or wanders off?  Younger children with Apraxia can’t even say their name let alone their parents or any information that could get them home safely.  These fears and these struggles are what we have come to live with every day.

If you have been a reader for a while you will probably recall that for a long time I would share with you letters that I wrote to Emma Grace.  Each month I would write Emma Grace a letter talking about milestones, how she has grown in the last month, funny moments and all about her changing personality.  I loved these letters as they gave me a way to document how fast she was growing up.  My original hope was that I would take all the letters and put them into a keepsake book for her.  Well, the last letter I wrote was when she was 19 months old and it was by that time that I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.  You see Emma Grace was slower to crawl and to walk and we always felt that it was because she was stubborn and she honestly just didn’t feel like it.  So, when we noticed she wasn’t making sounds and trying to form words like she should be we again we just figured she was being stubborn.  It wasn’t until right before her second birthday that I knew deep down in my heart something was truly wrong.  One morning Emma Grace and I were playing and she kept trying to tell me something.  It was the same sounds over and over again and I had no idea what she was trying to say or what she wanted.  I remember saying “Sweetie I’m so sorry, I don’t know what you want.”  She kept making the same sounds over and over again.  Then she climbed up into my lap, put her hands on both sides of my face and started to sob.  Tears are flowing from her face and she is trying to say the same thing over and over again.  That was my wake up call.  It was then I realized, it wasn’t about being stubborn or lazy she truly was trying her hardest to communicate with me and couldn’t understand what she was trying to tell me.  I can’t even put into words the emotions I was feeling at that exact moment.  I put my arms around her and the two of us cried together as I rocked her.

At Emma Grace’s two-year check up she completely failed the verbal/communication section of her developmental assessment and by this point I was scared at what this meant for the road ahead of us.  We started with an initial assessment at our pediatricians office which I was unsure of how much we could actually learn from it.  Emma Grace is very uncomfortable around people she doesn’t know and I had no idea how she would react to someone new in her space.  Well, she reacted just as I expected and refused to even try to communicate with the woman we were working with.  Thus leaving me to answer yes or no to all the questions on the evaluation.  Part of the assessment was also a hearing test to rule out any hearing loss which she thankfully passed with flying colors.  After the assessment we received a recommendation to a local speech therapy office around the corner from our home.  We were paired with a therapist who was extremely passionate about her work, was patient with Emma Grace and very down to earth.  We started with private therapy sessions one day a week because Emma Grace just wasn’t comfortable during her sessions and wasn’t even responding or interacting with her therapist.  At this point we were struggling at home because she was frustrated and started to act out.  She went back to being angry all the time and yelling and screaming and crying.  I wanted to rip my hair out because I couldn’t find a way for us communicate.  She has always been so independent and has always wanted to do everything on her own but as soon as she realized that she needed help or couldn’t figure something out she didn’t know how to ask for help.  It felt that we were moving backwards by leaps and bounds and not even moving an inch forward.  I knew she was frustrated and my heart ached for her.  I couldn’t even imagine knowing what you want, knowing what words you want to use and trying over and over and the words just don’t come out.

After a month we quickly realized that the best option was to just dive in and start two sessions a week because no matter how hard I tried to work with her at home we weren’t getting anywhere.  Even after she slowly started to warm up to her therapist, another month went by and we still were stuck ten steps back.  We then started talking about other options.  The practice that we were at offered a pre-school program with teachers that specialized in children with special needs and were well-trained with children with limitations in speech.  We slowly started introducing the idea of the preschool to Emma Grace by bringing her into the gym with the other children to play for a few minutes at each session.  At this point she had developed full-blown social anxiety.  She was okay around some children, as long as they didn’t try to talk to her and kept their distance.  Adults where a different story, she would refuse to look at anyone who tried to speak to her and would emotionally fall to pieces if they tried to talk to her.  There have been several times at the grocery store where a cashier would grab the cart with her in it and move it to the end of the counter to bag our groceries.  Emma Grace would have what I can only describe as a form of a panic attack.  She would start to shake uncontrollably and cry as if someone was causing her physical harm and scream as if she was in excruciating pain.  I’ve never seen toddler meltdowns or temper tantrums like that before in my life.

Amber Foster Smith Photography

We knew at this point that enrolling her in the preschool would not only help to stimulate her speech but hopefully calm some of her social anxieties as well.  It was at this point that Emma Grace was officially diagnosed with Apraxia.  This was one of the hardest parts for me.  After many more specific assessments her therapist was comfortable confirming our suspicions that she did in fact have Apraxia even though it seemed to be a more mild case.  I struggled because after months of not knowing we finally had a diagnosis.  Even though I should have been relieved I went through a period where I blamed myself.  After battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum through my entire pregnancy with her I wondered if it was something I did.  I thought back to the days and weeks where I went without eating and the toll it took on my body.  The darkest weeks of HG were in the first few weeks which are also the most vital periods for brain development.  I kept thinking to myself what if all of this was caused from what I deprived her of while she was growing inside of me.  She counted on me to take care of her, to get her into this world safe and healthy and I felt like I failed her.  I battled these feelings for weeks but kept them to myself.  One night while rocking Emma Grace to sleep I felt completely overwhelmed and started to cry.  I prayed for the longest time and I finally decided it was time to let go.  Twelve weeks into my pregnancy we had a scare and I thought I had lost her.  On that frightening walk to the ultrasound room I kept saying over and over “If you can fight for me I promise I will always fight for you no matter what.”  It was that night that I remembered that promise I made to her.  No matter what I had to put my feelings aside and put all of my effort towards fighting for her.

Preschool didn’t start off well because Emma Grace had trouble getting over drop off and wasn’t comfortable in her new surroundings.  Soon though she found comfort in a friend who also had Apraxia.  These two girls together were amazing to watch, they had this connection where they found friendship without having to use words.  At this point I didn’t care one bit that the two girls didn’t really try to even talk to each other.  For the first time I knew my daughter had a friend who understood her, who got her like no one else could.  This friendship was a major milestone for Emma Grace that helped turn a corner.

At the same time she started preschool I also enrolled her in a Mother’s Morning Out program at my church one day a week.  To her preschool was “safe”.  Both the children and the teachers there “got her” and patiently worked with her.  I looked at the MMO program as a way for her to meet more friends in different setting where the focus was completely different.  For one day a week she was set in the middle of normally developing, happy, social children that wanted nothing more than to play and interact with each other.  Yep, pretty much sounded like my daughter’s worst nightmare but I knew the only way for her to grow socially was put her in a situation where she was physically safe but emotionally uneasy.  It would take time but eventually she would learn there was nothing to be uneasy about.  We again ran into the same problems where she didn’t want to let me go and for the first few weeks I would get a phone call 2 hours in that she had cried the whole time since I left and had never calmed down.  It killed me but I knew it would eventually pay off.  Our turning point at MMO was the week where I stayed to work the entire morning and she felt “safe” almost as if I was there to protect her.  I pushed her to interact with the other children and it paid off.  I have a video that I will always cherish where she is playing ring around the rosie with four other girls.  At one point the other girls quickly got up, grabbed hands and started to dance around before Emma Grace could even stand up.  Once she was up she looked back at me with this look of “Mommy I don’t think they want me to play with them.”  Within a split second one of the girls grabbed her hand and pulled her into the circle.  Her face lit up.  I knew at that moment she felt accepted.

Over the next few months she started to make improvements.  She started to be open to trying more things.  After being in the 2-year-old preschool program for 3 months her teachers felt it was in her best interest to move her up to the 3-5 year old class.  At barely 2 1/2 years old I was afraid of how she would fit in.  I was afraid what she would do when she found out she was loosing her closest friend.  I feared that it might set her back.  I put my trust in her teachers and I’m so glad I did.  The older girls in the class room took Emma Grace under their wing and took care of her.  They each helped her and encouraged her in their own special way.  Now we are another 3 months out from being in the older preschool program and things are going great.  We slowly found that as her self-confidence grew she seemed more willing to try new sounds and new words.  Each week our therapist sent us home with new worksheets and flash cards to work on.  For the girl who has no patience she will sit there for 30+ minutes and practice her words over and over again.  She finally has started using true two-word sentences that don’t include “please” or “more” as the second word.  Over the last few weeks we have even seen good success at three word sentences even a rare four!  Last week she even started her version of “What’s that?”  Emma Grace has made so much progress over the last 9 months that I am extremely optimistic about her journey with her speech.  She has shown us that no matter what, Apraxia does not define her.  Every child deserves a voice and I am forever grateful to her therapist, her preschool teachers, everyone at her practice along with all of our friends and family who are supporting her in this journey.  We will never give up no matter what.  Apraxia can not be cured but only overcome.   We still have a long journey ahead of us and in the mean time we will patiently wait for each new word and celebrate every milestone!

Apraxia Awareness Day

Want to learn more about Childhood Apraxia of Speech?  Visit The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America and get educated.  Help spread the word about CAS because every child deserves a voice!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder

Okay, please tell me there are other creative mammas out there who may have possibly made too many bows for their sweet little girls….and now are stuck with nowhere to put them?!  Come on raise your hand!!  I know I’m not alone here!!  Emma Grace has really thin hair and this cute side swipe thing going on so she still needs a bow to keep her hair tucked behind her ears.  So, I admit it…I have a problem with hair bows!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

I quickly became tired of having piles of bows all over the place so I knew I needed to come up with a solution.  You see my daughter is a little vain and likes to check herself out in the mirror in the mornings after she puts her bows in.  So I thought it would be fun to make her a little spot to hold all of those bows and make sure she is looking fabulous!  I think it was a success, what about you?

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns


  • Picture Frame
  • Mirror (to match opening of picture frame)
  • Ric Rac or Ribbon
  • Serger, Fray Check or a Lighter {to finish ends of ric rac}
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Staple Gun
  • Picture Hanger (if your frame does not have a hanger)

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

My hubby and I have been playing around with making some cute frames for my daughter’s room and this project was the perfect excuse to use one!  If you are going to be using this style holder for a younger child, you might want to consider using a plastic mirror rather than a glass mirror for safety reasons.  Since my little girl is only two years old, a glass mirror was out of the question for us.  I searched high and low and found that it is really difficult to find not only plastic mirrors to fit photo frames but plastic frames as well without ordering them online.  I was able to find a large piece of plastic replacement mirror for cars that you can find at your local auto parts store or super store in the automotive section.  It was super easy to work with! All you have to do is measure the size of your picture frame opening, cut it and pop it right into place!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

Now you will need to cut your ribbon or ric rac to the length you would like.  I love this big chunky ric rac for holding hair bows! I have used it in the past to hold my daughter’s bows because the inside curves are a natural place to hold your bows to keep things neat. Plus the thick texture of the ric rac also helps keep the bows in place and prevents them from slipping.

Next, take one of your largest bows as well as one of your average size bows and clip them to your ric rac so you can judge about the distance apart your strips need to be.  If you would like, use a piece of tape to hold the ric rac in place while you decide how far apart you want the ric rac.

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

Flip the frame over and staple the ric rac into place.

TIP: Make sure to finish the ends of the ric rac or they will unravel like CRAZY!  I used my serger to serge the ends, but if you do not have a serger, you could fold the ends up and sew it in place. Or try fabric glue, a lighter, or even fray check to finish the ends.

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

One thing to consider is, some unfinished frames at the craft store do not have hangers on the back. So you may need to add one yourself.  With all of the frames I’ve made lately, I’ve become a pro at this and thought I would share some quick tips with you!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

First, you will need to mark where your hanger will need to go.  As long as your frame is symmetrical on all sides, you should be able to measure and find the middle of the width and make a mark.  Now measure the height from the opening to the top and find the mid point.  Where these two points meet is where the center of your hanger will need to go.

The hangers I use are super helpful because there is actually a little dot in the middle of the hanger already there to mark the midpoint!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

Those little nails are tricky tricky to hold in place to hammer. So grab a pair of pliers and they make the job a breeze.  Hold your nails in and hammer away!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

Now you have a frame that is ready to hang!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

Now that your frame is ready to hang that means…you’re done!  So quick and easy!!!  What I love about this project is that you can personalize it any way you want to fit your style.  The curvy and funky frame I used matched the style of my daughter’s nursery. But maybe you like classic straight lines?  Go for it and grab a frame that matches your style!

I wanted to hang her mirror right at her height so she can check herself out and since I didn’t want her bows to hit all the way to the floor her ric rac measured right about 22″ long.

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

But then I quickly realized….I still had more bows left over.  Yepp, I told you had a problem!!  So I cut one more strand to add onto my frame.  Once all of the bows are on there I realized it was a little excessive!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

If you are not going to fill it up completely, it looks nice. But with as many bows as my daughter has, I think I would definitely use a larger 5″x7″ frame so that it didn’t look so small compared to the large mass of bows!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

I love how it turned out!  It’s fun and funky and let me tell you my daughter was super excited when she woke up from her nap and I hung it up for her!  My favorite part was was finally being able to use the picture frames I’ve been working on for so long.  I started by hand sketching the silhouette and went through a dozen variations before I decided on this exact profile and I LOVE how it turned out.  It is always so satisfying to be able to see all your hard work turn out just like you imagined it!   If you love my frame too feel free to stop by my Etsy shop and request a custom order!

DIY Mirror Hair Bow Holder by jRoxDesigns

How do you organize your sweet little girl’s stash of bows?  Do you have an obsession with making fun new flower bows all the time like me?


A Modern DIY Nursery Grows Into A Toddler Bedroom!

One of my favorite rooms in the house still has to be Emma Grace’s nursery.  It is simple, colorful, modern, classic and playful all at the same time.  In case you missed the full reveal of her nursery with all the details you can find it here.  Since then I’ve been slowly working on little projects here and there like updating her dresser drawers with a cute gray chevron print, adding a high hanging mobile feature and I even built a bookshelf from scratch!
Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

Overall all the pieces have stayed the same but my favorite addition is this awesome bookshelf that hubby and I built.  I’ve been swooing over the Oeuf Mini Library for years but it would have been way too big for her space and I knew I could DIY one for a tiny fraction of the price.  I LOVE the way it turned out!

Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

All it took was some careful calculations, a couple of sheets of 3/4″ plywood, paint and simple door hardware!  Definitely worth the time for the amazing result.  Emma Grace loves to read books and she will pull up her tiny rocking chair and look all of her books for hours.

Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

She is still sleeping in her crib which I’m crossing my fingers will last for a couple more years.  I have visions in my head of a really fun, oversized upholstered headboard out of her original bumper print when the time comes.  Until then I want to keep my baby little forever.  The bumper came out as soon as she tried to use it as a step stool and the skirt came out when we dropped the mattress down.  I absolutely loved her bedding and to me it was worth all the time I put into it, but I just wish I could have used it longer.  For me it was something to keep my mind positive while I battled through the HG while I was pregnant and in the end it was totally worth it.  Now her bed is filled with all of her stuffed friends, a tiny pillow and tons of snuggly blankets.

Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

Right before Christmas Emma Grace really became interested in potty training so I knew it was time to change the crib into a toddler bed.  That was one of the biggest reasons why I picked out her crib was because I knew it would grow with her and give us the opportunity to get more life out of her crib.

Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

Of course leave it to my daughter to start screaming “I DO!” the second she sees a screwdriver or a hammer.  I got her started, then she meticulously turned all four bolts for the next hour while I took care of the final tightening.  She has enjoyed her “big girl bed” ever since!

Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

One of the other fun additions was a funky twist on a mobile feature I did in the corner above the rocking chair.  I had a ton of different ideas and shared my inspiration with you all here.  It took a long time to collect all the lanterns but that is just because I’m cheap and didn’t want to spend a pretty penny on paper!  They all came from a mixture of clearance bins at craft stores, the Dollar Stop at Target and mark downs from home decor shops and party supply stores.

Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

When I would rock her to sleep when she was younger she loved to look up at all the lanterns.  She still enjoys looking at them and screaming “Pink ball Mommy!  Pink ball!!!”  Oh how times change!  I hung each lantern by tying white thread from the lantern and then around a small sewing pin  pushed into the ceiling.

Modern Toddler Nursery | jRoxDesigns

I’m still working on little projects for her room here and there but I love how I designed the room to be able to grow up with her.  I know that all the pieces we chose (other than the crib obviously!) will be able to be used for many years to come.  The rocking chair side table will probably turn into a night stand, Pinkalicious and Olivia books will be replaced by tween love novels and the changing topper will come off to make room for picture frames of her and her best friends.  Well, that’s at least the way I see it.  Or probably knowing my opinionated daughter she will hate hot pink and lime green by the age of 7 and be begging me to change it all.  Sigh…I’m not ready to parent a school age girl!!

Ready for another project?  Next up I’ll share with you how I made her a funky bow holder to help organize her insane amount of hair accessories!


Glitter Word Art…One Last Post for the Craftaholics Anonymous® Creative Team!

DIY Canvas Glitter Word Art | jRoxDesigns

2013 was full of fun and exciting adventures!  One of the adventures I am so sad is finally coming to a close is my time with the Craftaholics Anonymous Creative Team.  I’ve had 12 months full of exciting posts to share with the CA readers and am so happy to have gained more friends to share my own projects with here at jRoxDesigns.  I had the opportunity to get to know each of the other amazingly talented bloggers on the team over the year in a sort of crafting and business “support group” as we call it over at Craftaholics Anonymous!  Even when life was crazy and I didn’t have a lot of time to craft I was always able to look forward to a big project to share each month.  I feel like I have grown so much by being part of the team and I am forever grateful for opportunity!

DIY Canvas Glitter Word Art | jRoxDesigns

So, even though it is time to say goodbye I still have one more post to share!  Just in time for Valentine’s Day I whipped up some easy glitter word art.  It was fun and you could definitely use the same technique for tons of different projects.

DIY Canvas Glitter Word Art | jRoxDesigns

Check out the full tutorial on Craftaholics Anonymous®!


2013 Craftaholics Anonymous Creative Team