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Grass is always greener

So I just got back from my internship in Long Beach, California. To say the least it was an amazing experience.

Now for my story:

It was August and I had the day off. A nice thing since I had upped my hours to 5 or 6 full days a week (that a lot when it’s all unpaid). I had already done my laundry, cleaned my room and surfed the net. Believe it or not I was bored of the Internet. I found myself wishing I had my junk from back home. In an effort to pack light I hadn’t brought all my ‘stuff’ with me to California. For the most part it was nice to have a clean slate with only the essentials. But that one day I was bored and wished I had some craft supplies or even some old papers to sort through.

Now fast forward to the present, where I am back to sharing a room with my sister, unloading all my stuff from California into a room that is already stuffed with stuff. All I could do was sit and stare at it all; it was too overwhelming to even begin to pack my things away, let alone break out the craft supplies. I longed for the simplicity I had found when I was away from home.

I know now that I want to move out, so my current project is to try and find the happy medium between my current overfilled room and the minimalist existence I had in California.

I’m going to go sort through my closet now.

Turned birthday cards into home decor

I never like to throw out greeting cards. Given its March my birthday cards are already rolling in adding to my ever growing stash of Christmas and Valentines cards. Instead of leaving them to clutter my desk, I took some old leftover raffia and tied the cards into a little stack. The effect is cute and organized; the bow turns the clutter into a great decoration.

I love decorating my room with unique knick-knacks that reflect my personality and experiences, every item should tell a story. Why not have something that reminds you of all the friends that love you?  By tying the cards together they are also kept organized by year or holiday. So when I am tired of  the decor or get a new stack of cards, I can just toss the old ones into a drawer or decorative box and replace them with a new stack. You could even change them with the seasons for a more festive look!

Used Google street view

I will be relocating to Long beach California this summer and am currently searching for an apartment.

The problem is I have never been to long beach and have no idea what part of town would be best.

Thankfully we have google. I can find apartment complexes then cross reference their addresses on google maps and street view. I can see which neighborhoods have chain link around their yards and which have expansive lawns… always an indicator of the neighborhood’s priorities 🙂

 

The Maple-Bacon Cupcake

Photo: Molly Rundberg

 

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

For cupcakes:

1/2 pound thick cut bacon (about 8 to 10 strips)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. maple extract (found in the spice aisle)
Maple syrup, to garnish

For cinnamon buttercream:

16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar (a little less than 1 pound)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. milk
1 to 2 Tbsp. cinnamon

Directions
Active time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Preheat oven to 375°. Lay bacon on a sheet pan and bake for 8 to15 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Set aside 2 pieces of the bacon for topping, and dice the rest.

Lower heat to 350°. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium bowl combine flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs to butter mixture 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the dry ingredients and milk in 2 alternating batches, mixing well between additions. Then add vanilla and maple extracts and reserved diced bacon, and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Scoop batter into prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make cinnamon buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly sprinkle in the cinnamon, adding more to taste.

When cupcakes are completely cool, frost with the buttercream. Chop the reserved slices of bacon into 24 pieces and garnish each cupcake with a piece. Drizzle maple syrup over the top and serve. If not eating immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Recipe is from Oprah- find it here

made christmas ornaments that smell good

Great as a gift or to make your home ready for the holidays.

Materials:

Crochet hook, 5mm. Yarn in holiday colours, sparkle is good too. Scissors

potpourri (bought or homemade). Cotton balls or polyfill stuffing

Part 1: See my post on homemade Potpourri

Store in a tupperware until the balls are ready to be stuffed.

Part 2: The ball

**If you are new to crochet try a granny square first

Crochet Pattern: Sphere

Pattern taken from http://www.crochetspot.com/how-to-crochet-a-sphere/ and adapted.

Terminology: ch- chain, sc- single crochet, decrease- sc skipping over one stitch

**use sheet bend knots to switch to a new colour after every 2 rounds.

Round 1: ch 2, 6 sc in second ch from hook: Row should be a total of 6 sc
Round 2: 2 sc in each sc around: total 12 sc
Round 3: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc) around: 18 sc
Round 4: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc) around: 24 sc
Round 5: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 3 sc) around: 30 sc

Round 6: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 4 sc) around: 36 sc

Note: to increase the size of the sphere, continue to increase this circle.

Round 7– 11: sc in each sc around: 36 sc
Note: rounds 7 – 11 make the body of the sphere. In general, the number of rounds to make the body should be the number of rounds completed thus far minus one. For example, there are five rounds before round 6 in this pattern. Therefore, there are four repetitions of the above line. The amount of repetitions for a different sized sphere also depends on a crocheter’s style. Some crochet tighter than others.

Round 12: (decrease, sc in next 4 sc) around: 30 sc,   aka sc 5 in a row then skip one and repeat.

Round 13: (decrease, sc in next 3 sc) around: 24 sc,   aka sc 4 in a row then skip one and repeat.
Round 14: (decrease, sc in next 2 sc) around: 18 sc
Round 15: (decrease, sc in next sc) around: 12 sc
Stuff sphere as full as possible with potpourri
Round 16: decrease around: 6 sc
Note: if you increased the size of the sphere you will also need to decrease the sphere as much as you increased it by.

Green Snowflakes

A great idea to save our oceans and decorate for the holidays!

Courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific

Made potpourri

Christmas potpourri

A super easy and cheap way to get into the holiday spirit!

Go to your grocery or bulk food store and get the following:

Whole all spice, whole cinnamon sticks, bayleaves, and whole cloves.

Try a cup of each all spice and cloves, and about 10 cinnamon sticks and 10 bay leaves.

Break the cinnamon sticks in half or thirds, try scoring a line where you want to break it then break with your hands, if not try using a saw or a hammer to break it up into smaller pieces.

Toss together and Store in a tupperware until ready to use, or put in a decorative bowl for immediate aromatherapy.

Try out different spices if you can find them, I can’t find the original website that I got the idea from but this one is close.

Whole nutmeg, star anise or whole cardamom pods would be good additions.

Worked on my abs

I’ve always less than enjoyed my stomach area, and I’ve never thought I could actually get the results you see on tv.

Until now.

Step 1. give your workout routine a catchy name, I chose “8 minute abs”

Step 2. Find someone who will

a. do the work out with you, nothing inspires us more than a bit of competition, or

b. will make you feel guilty when you don’t do your workout

Step 3. Design your work out, 8 minute abs is easy, its just 8 straight minutes of gut wrenching crunches and sit up variations.

Choose a time limit that is achievable but still pushes you, halfway through you should feel the burn, the last minute you should be ready to just about die (trust me you won’t), don’t stop until the time is up. Also choose moves that you can do anywhere (your living room, dorm room etc., then you have no excuses).

Step 4. Use youtube to add to your repertoire of exercises, lots of people have posted personal trainer style videos.

Step 5. Find some music to pump you up and do your work out to. Songs make it more fun and help you time your workout. Try this:

Step 5. Do your workout right now, this instant, then finish reading this article.

The hardest part is always getting started.

Step 6. The next time you think about how your stomach is flabby, do your workout, right then and there. If you did not just do it, now is the time, seriously

Step 7. Do your workout the same time everyday. I do mine right before bed, in the dark, it actually helps me fall asleep.

Step 8. Admire your results, often, I swear even after one day my abs are tighter. Also try using harsh side/top/bottom lighting to make what definition you have achieved really stand out.

Step 9. Change up your music selection often and regularly swap in new moves. This ensures it stays interesting and you work as many muscle groups as possible giving you more definition.

Granny Tcherkezoff’s Shortbread

I decided to make my Granny’s short bread recipe and it turned out quite well despite a couple of mess-ups on my part

Ingredients: 1/2lb (1 1/8c.) Berry Sugar, 2lb (4 1/4 c.) Flour, 1lb Butter, Pinch of Salt

Makes >48 small cookies

Directions:

Cream butter, add sugar.

Add 3/4 flour, add rest of flour on a pastry board I missed this step, didn’t pay attention. Despite the fact that I messed it up they turned out yummy, the pastry board would make it flakier in texture.

Take a plastic freezer bag or Ziploc,put your ball of dough inside, leaving the bag open roll the dough flat, pushing into edges of the bag, the dough doesn’t stick to the roller or your cutting/bread board, no extra flour needed!

This was genius it worked so well I am going to use it for my sugar cookies from now on. Choosing a bag type: Ziplocs are good if you want to keep the dough for an extended period of time refrigerated (2 days max) or in the freezer (months). Since  freezer bags are cheaper (I think?) and I was not storing my dough, the zipper was not necessary.

Once flattened it will look like this:

Avoid cracked edges by folding lumps back in and re-rolling. 

Put the flattened dough in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Remove from fridge and place on bread board, cut 2 edges of the bag then peel back the top layer of plastic and start punching out shapes with the cookie cutter of your choice. The shapes will peal easily off the plastic underneath and keeping the dough chilled helps them keep their shape.

Place shapes onto baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes at 300-320*F. I have estimated the temperature/time here because every oven heats differently. Watch your first batch closely to gauge your oven temp and timing. They should come out when the tops and edges are still pale and white and the very bottoms are slightly golden. (photo of overdone cookies)

Let cool, then place in a cookie tin or Tupperware.

The nice thing about this recipe is that these cookies age really well according to my mom, perfect for holiday baking that you can enjoy when you don’t have time to bake.

To age them I popped them in an old cookie tin with wax paper on the bottom to catch the crumbs.

Enjoy your holiday baking!

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