Design to Dish: Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Snack Cake

Fall is my favorite time of year! I love the weather (sunny mixed with overcast, just the right amount of chill in the air), I love the activities (pumpkin patches, hayrides, apple picking), and most of all, I love the baked goods (apples, pumpkin, and spices galore)! One of my favorite fall flavor combinations is pumpkin spice and chocolate. I like it in all of it’s forms: muffins, breads, cookies, doughnuts, and this easy to make, easy to serve snack cake. It’s the perfect treat to serve at a low-key pumpkin carving party featuring these darling invitations by Hooray Creative.

pumpkin carving party invitations and pumpkin chocolate chip snacking cake“Pumpkin Carving Party” invitation by Hooray Creative | Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip
Snack Cake, recipe below

pumpkin spice cake with milk chocolate chips

Keep reading for this simply scrumptious fall recipe…

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Meet a Minted Artist: Kamala Nahas

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: photographer Kamala Nahas, who lives with her family in lives in Camarillo, California.

Kamala Nahas has always loved snapping photos, but it wasn’t until a trip to Arizona’s Antelope Canyon in 2011 that something clicked. She came home inspired and enrolled in classes to hone her technique; two years later, Kamala started her own photography business. Here, the Southern California-based shutterbug shares a glimpse into her life, process, and inspiration.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I’ve loved snapping pictures for as long as I can remember, but I never took it seriously. About four years ago we took a family road trip to Lake Powell in Page, Arizona. I had just gotten a new camera and literally ditched my family to go on a six-hour photography tour in Antelope Canyon. This was the first time I completely immersed myself into photography and was smitten with the whole process. Looking back, that was the beginning for me. For years I’d taken pictures at holiday gatherings, on vacations, and at my kids’ school events. Even though people told me I “had an eye,” I think part of me was afraid of making a serious try at something I’d never really been trained to do. Brooks Institute is close to my home and they offer workshops for budding photographers. It’s nothing like attending the school itself, but participating in a few of the workshops in the years that followed the Antelope Canyon shoot allowed me to gain some technical knowledge and see how I stacked up. About two years ago I started a small portrait and event photography business: Tall Poppy Photography. I love it. Even though it’s been so much fun capturing special moments and connections between people, my heart has always been in nature and landscape photography. Last year, I finally got the courage to submit some photos to Minted and explore the more creative side of my work. I feel fortunate to be a part of this community and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Did you study photography formally in school?
Aside from six weeks of photography in community college and a workshop here and there, I’m self taught.

What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
In all things:
Be Authentic
Stand Up For Yourself and Others
There’s Always More Than One Way
Take A Chance
Wing It
Get Lost, Get Messy, Sing Loudly, Dance

Please describe your last month in a word.
BIG

What are you serious about?
I’m super passionate about education and volunteer a good portion of my time in schools. I’m very serious about finding ways of reinventing our educational system to ensure our next generation is made up of thinkers, innovators, and makers with a global conscience. I’m also very serious about preparing grilled cheese sandwiches properly—crunchy on the outside, creamy in the middle, with a side of homemade tomato soup to dip the corners into.

What things will you never take seriously?
Road trips, chocolate, and mashed potatoes are all things that should never be taken seriously—even when they are bad, they are still good.

Please tell us about your family.
I’ve been married for twenty years to my first and only true love. We have three children. My oldest is my daughter Asha who is almost fifteen. She is my partner in crime and assists me in my business—I’m going to be pretty lost when she goes off to college in a couple years. My oldest son, Sassin, is twelve. He has a generous spirit and can generally be found playing soccer in real life or on the XBox. My youngest son is almost ten. His name is Samir and he is the character in the family. He is constantly building something or making something or experimenting with something or getting away with something. Our house is loud and messy, but we love each other a bunch and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Click through to read more from Minted artist Kamala Nahas

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Has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you?

Sometimes fear can be a good thing—in the sense that it can inspire you to take a risk or move in a new direction. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we asked Lehan Veenker, Natalie Groves, and Annie Seaton to answer the question Has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you?

Lehan Veenker
Plainfield, Illinois

As strange as it may sound, the thought of not being able to stay at home with my kids scared me. My husband and I always knew that having one of us stay home with our kids was important to us. In order to make that happen, I needed to find a career that would allow me to work at home with kids, and neither of my former professions would allow the time and flexibility to make that a reality.

I have always been fond of art and design and stumbled upon Minted in 2008 when it was just starting. I decided to enter a couple of challenges and didn’t have any winning designs. In my mind, I completely failed to enter anything close to the caliber of designs already present at Minted. I was scared of failing again and missing this amazing opportunity to work at home with our then-future-now-present children, so I took a break to learn. I taught myself about Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, textures, typography—anything design-related that I could get my hands on. This self-teaching hiatus lasted about two years. In September 2010, I decided to give Minted another shot and actually had some winning designs in the wedding challenge that year.

From then on out, I continued to build my collection on Minted, which enabled me to stay at home with my kids. Even before they were born, my children were the catalyst of my graphic design career, and they continue to inspire me every day, as seen in works like my “Heritage Children” art print and my “Enjoy The Little Things” holiday design.

Heritage Children” by Lehan Veenker

Enjoy the Little Things” by Lehan Veenker


Natalie Groves
Exira, Iowa

One day my family and I were checking on our pumpkins, and we came across a giant garden spider! He had intricate yellow designs on his big black body. He was so spooky that we were in awe, and instead of smashing him, we let him be and visited him every time we entered the pumpkin patch (mostly because we didn’t want him to surprise us in a different location). His web became one of the “homes” featured in my latest painting for the A is for Art Challenge.

Our daughter Navine (rhymes with “pine”) loves to investigate new things with her little pointer finger. It’s so fun to teach her about the world, and I love that I can do that through illustration.

Homes” by Natalie Groves

Name Bearers” by Natalie Groves


Annie Seaton with two Two Venice Beach longboarders. (Photo by Sonja Schenk)

Annie Seaton
Sherman Oaks, California

That would be pretty much everything. Let’s start with my decision to get pregnant and have two kids. I was scared to let go of my career and allow myself to become a mother. I always tell my children they are my best creative project. I never anticipated they’d become my best muses.

One of the reasons I named my daughter Violet was after a favorite oil color “Quinachridone Violet.” I felt her name reflected my creative values. Now, some of my bestselling artworks and paintings are of Zac and Violet. I would have never guessed I would paint them, and documented their entire childhood through my lens and paintings.

Secondly, I took a risk and decided to be a full-time artist after raising them. I moved into my own art studio and exhibited in the U.S. and Canada. It was a scary risk to not go back to a traditional job, and years later my artworks are selling in my Minted Artist Store.

Lastly, I did return to work and ran a brand-new photo gallery from the ground up as its director. I was scared, because I didn’t know if I could handle it and be a mom at the same time. I built up its program from zero, curated bi-monthly exhibitions, threw major special events, and grew to a very significant place in the L.A. photo scene. I was scared but I told myself,  “Don’t think Annie—just do it.” And it was one of the best projects I ever did and I’m proud of every exhibition and all the artist friendships I’ve made there.

Zachary And Violet Oxnard I” by Annie Seaton  

Zach and Violet Intertube” by Annie Seaton


How about you—has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe. We feature some of our favorite social shares in our Minted Fine Arts newsletter.

READ MORE #WHATINSPIRESME

Who’s your biggest creative influence?
When you need a quick creative pick-me-up, what do you do?
How has education inspired your creativity?

Published October 26, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Contest: $1,000 from Minted and Schoolhouse Electric

UPDATE: Congratulations to our winner – Kelly Witmer!

Just moved into a new place? Or maybe you’re ready to refresh your wall space? Either way, we’ve got something just for you! Minted partnered with one of our favorite home brands Schoolhouse Electric for this $1,000 giveaway. To enter, show us what your dream wall would look like! Hop onto Pinterest and start pinning your favorite pieces from Minted and Schoolhouse Electric that you’d use to create your dream wall. Keep reading for the full contest details

How to Enter:

1. Follow @Minted and @SchoolHouse on Pinterest for some serious wall inspiration.

2. Create your own board titled “Minted + Schoolhouse Electric – My Dream Wall.”

3. Pin 5-10 images of Minted art and Schoolhouse Electric lighting onto your board to show how you envision your dream wall.

We’ll announce the winner with a special pin on the “Minted + Schoolhouse Electric – My Dream Wall” board. This contest begins October 26th, and ends on November 2, 2015, so get pinning! Good luck!

Click here for the official rules for this contest.

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DIY: Simple Halloween Spider Headband

Written by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of Alice & Lois

Do you have 10 minutes? Because that’s all it takes to make this super simple Halloween headband. If you’re anything like me, I put most of my Halloween energy into the kids. So when it’s time to show up at school with treats, I never have a costume ready for myself. But not this year! I’ll be accessorizing with this creepy-crawly headband. It’s quick and easy to make—all you need are a handful of supplies and you’re good to go.

Click through for instructions on how to make this headband…

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Shakespeare-Inspired Spell Favors

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble…”

Conjuring up a spooky Halloween dinner? Just add these Shakespeare “spell” favors inspired by lines from Macbeth. We took basic Halloween sweets and gave them a frightening twist with simple packaging and a printable label. Offer them up as macabre party treats straight out of Macbeth’s Act Four.

shakespeare inspired halloween favors

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DIY: Paper Lantern Skulls

Written by Kathleen Ballos of  Snowdrop & Co

I’ve always loved decorating Halloween, but the gory and creepy decor you see a lot this time of the year has never been my cup of tea. Enter these super-simple paper lantern skulls! They’re so quick and easy to make, you’ll be able to whip up a bunch of them in time for Halloween.

Paper Lantern Skulls
Paper Lantern Skulls

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Five-Minute Halloween Costume: The Gold Medalist

Sometimes you need to pull a costume together, fast. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for leftovers in the costume aisle. Chances are you already own everything you need to dress up like a champion gold medalist.

easy halloween costume ideas

Click through for the details on this easy, last-minute Halloween costume idea

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What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Advice is like a train. You can take it or leave it.

For the launch of our #ArtistAdvice series, we asked Minted artists Tanya Lee of Frooted Design and Eric Beckett of GeekInk to share the best career advice they’ve ever received. Luckily, it shaped their paths for the better.

Stay tuned to the Community>Resources section of Julep. For upcoming editions of #ArtistAdvice, we’ll take a deeper dive into advice ranging from artistic techniques, personal branding, and life-changing insights.

Tanya Lee of Frooted Design
Orange County, California

Think of your computer as just another tool. If you always begin there, then what you can or cannot do on the computer limits your full creative potential.

Practically speaking, this means I usually begin a project by writing word lists, sketching, or experimenting with new mediums. Sometimes it means taking a step back and just hanging out with my family, who often proves to be my best inspiration. For example, “Splash-o-saurus” was inspired by spending the summer swimming with my dino-loving 5-year-old son).

(Right) “Splash-0-Saurus” Art Print by Frooted Design

Peace on Earth’s Globe” Business Holiday Card by Frooted Design


Eric Beckett of GeekInk
Los Angeles

In the middle designing an invitation for a Minted wedding Design Challenge, my wife walked in and saw that I was working on a floral-themed wedding invite. In a confused voice, she asked, “Why are you trying to do florals? That’s not your style.”

That one small question made me stop and really think about what I was doing. My florals were horrible, and I realized that the key to me being a successful designer wasn’t in trying to do what other successful designers were doing, but to find what I could do better. It freed me from the stigma that “florals always win,” and I was able to think outside the box and design what I thought looked cool. Sometimes the best advice isn’t advice at all, but simply asking the right questions. The next day, I started working on my Antique Lines design, and to this day, it’s still one of my favorite creations.

Antique Lines” Foil-Pressed Wedding Invitation by GeekInkDesign

Merry Little Lines” Holiday Card by GeekInk Design


What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Share your answer in Comments below and on social media with the hashtag #ArtistAdvice.
This is the first edition of Minted’s #ArtistAdvice series. Get a glimpse into more Minted artists’ lives in our #WhatInspiresMe series:
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Calligraphy Halloween Drink Labels (Free Printable!)

Written by Lauren Saylor of  A Fabulous Fete

Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean you have to resort to the gory decor found at all of the party stores. It is possible to have a pretty Halloween party! Start with a softer color palette but be sure to throw in a few creepy touches so it’s not just another cocktail bash with your pals.

Halloween Decor IdeasPrintable Halloween Labels

My local market had these fantastic “fairytale” pumpkins everywhere and I just could not resist. Their muted tones inspired this fresh palette and simple drink labels that are perfect for a chic Halloween cocktail party. Paired with moss, some succulents, and a selection of mix-and-match glass bottles, you can recreate this at home in just a few minutes.

Click through to download the free printable drink labels

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