Monday, October 31, 2011

{halloween macaroons}

Happy Halloween, readers!

I hope everyone has fun plans for tonight. I had my fun evening last night, so today I've reserved for being lazy and napping. Sounds exciting, right? Actually, after finding this awesome recipe for {halloween macaroons} from {kevin and amanda}, I may just spend my afternoon baking!

{Halloween French Macaroons}  <--- see link for more detailed photos and recipe!

Macaron Shells

90 grams aged egg whites
110 grams almond flour
200 grams powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean
25 grams white granulated sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder or powdered food coloring (optional)

Up to 5 days before making macarons, separate the egg whites, cover loosely with a paper towel, and store in the refrigerator. The night before making macarons, set them out on the counter to come to room temperature.

Place almond flour, powdered sugar, and the contents of a vanilla bean into a food processor and process until fully combined. Move to a large bowl and whisk in one teaspoon of cocoa powder for chocolate macarons, or one teaspoon of powdered food coloring for colored macarons. Leave plain for vanilla macarons. Whisk to combine, then sift and set aside.

With a mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Add in granulated sugar and continue whisking until the the egg whites have stiff peaks.
Add the egg whites to the flour and fold to incorporate until the mixture is just smooth, using no more than 50 strokes.

Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip, and fill with macaron batter. Pipe approximately 1-inch circles onto a baking sheet lined parchment paper.
Let the batter rest on the pan at least 30 minutes before baking, to form a strong skin to help keep the macarons from cracking in the oven.

Bake the macarons at 280 degrees F for 15-20 minutes directly in the middle of the oven. To test for doneness, gently touch the top of a macaron to make sure it’s dry. Then gently try to lift the macaron from the parchment paper. If it comes away pretty easily, they’re done. If it doesn’t come up and the top breaks away, they need to cook longer. Keep checking on them every two minutes until the bottom is dry. Once removed from the oven, allow the macarons to rest on the pan for 10 minutes to finish cooking before trying to remove. Cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 teaspoons Tahitian vanilla extract

Place the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.

Chocolate Buttercream

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup (10 tbsp) butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Allow to cool for 5-10 mins. Meanwhile, combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined. Add the melted chocolate and process until smooth and creamy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

{something wicked this way comes...}

Halloween is quickly approaching! When did October go by so quickly? I hope you all have fun plans for the evening; Halloween is always a fun treat for those with children. I remember the joys of dressing up in costumes at school and marching through the elementary school hallways, hardly able to keep the pent up excitement of the evening to come.

In college I was a theatre major, and Halloween became a show of the most brilliant costumes at parties. All of them homemade, all of them superb. These days, I don't dress up anymore, but I still love Halloween decorations because they remind me of fall: pumpkins, colored wreaths, oranges and burnt umber colors and candles lighting everyone's porches.

Here are some fun DIY projects and decorations that will make Halloween positively spooky this year!

Pumpkin jar luminaries

Fanged pumpkins

Nightmare Before Christmas cakes!

Decorate your entryway

Peekaboo pumpkins!

via {hgtv}

Bat decorations!

Or... whip up an entire edible Halloween party!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

{diy: book art}

This may be totally dorky, but I love the screen saver art that comes up when I put my {kindle} to sleep. There's something fun about seeing a black and white print of A.A. Milne pop up when you finish reading for the day, or a photo of Jane Austen smiling out at you when you pick it up again.

That, along with my adoring love of {entire novels on posters}, it's not a hard leap of faith to see why I love these book page works of art from etsy shop {collageOrama}.

And even more fun: how great of a diy would this be? All you need is a vintage book page, a photo to print from your computer, a frame, and voila! Instant awesome artwork.

I can't decide whether to litter my house with nautical themes printed on pages of Two Years Before the Mast, or classic book illustrations printed on old pages of Peter Pan and Huckleberry Finn. Oh, the possibilities!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

{let's say you go back in time...}

In honor of my sketchbook project theme Time Traveler, I stumbled across this awesome poster.

I'm tempted to hang it up in my room, because you just never know when you might find yourself in 1838 and need to quickly discover a cure for small pox.

via {topatoco}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

{fall foliage hike}

Fall is here in Portland. Those rainy, overcast days and chilly, dark evenings are upon us. Fortunately, even when it's rainy and dark, hiking in the gorge is still a beautiful experience. With the fall colors starting to burst from the trees, it was a perfect day to stroll along the trails and drink in the color.

Monday, October 24, 2011

{etsy find: watercolor barnyard}

If you've seen my post about {animals with panache}, you'll understand why I find these watercolors from {eastwitching} so adorable. I can't resist the foxes and that elephant... they're simply charming!

Friday, October 21, 2011

{sketchbook project: sailor}

The Time Traveler steps back to 2009...

I was living aboard a tall ship (you can read the saga here), sailing up and down the east coast for four months during the fall, learning to sail and teaching educational programs to grade school kids. For those of who who have never lived a life at sea, it may be hard to imagine. Life is completely different there; it runs on a different clock, it has different needs than those on land, and it's hard to readjust to complicated shore life once you've tasted the simple existence of the open ocean.

In four months I was testing the limits of my own stamina and determination, battling sea sickness, terrible storms, aching muscles, very little sleep, and endless work that was harder than anything I had done in my life. I battled fear of heights, of lightning, of drowning and sea monsters. I woke up every other night at 4:00 am to take control of a ship through the blackest night and the coldest wind you can imagine. I lived in leaky quarters when it rained, I lived without showers or running water that didn't require 30 minutes of pumping to receive it, I lived in a bunk that was constantly tipping back and forth and threatening to drop me ten feet to the floor.

Yet none of these things changed my view of this lifestyle, and none of them out weighed the marvelous things I lived through: watching sunsets and sunrises daily, schools of porpoises playing in the bow wake, the feel of the wind on your face when you race the waves, the taste of a good meal after a long day of work, the color of the Milky Way at night when the nearest bit of light pollution is fifty miles away, the shine of bio luminescence as it kicks up in the spray, the camaraderie of crew and the fierce sense of loyalty and family felt among them, the warmth of a bed after a cold night, the smell of breakfast at 5 am, and knowing that life is more than things, that your entire existence can fit in the size of a one-person bunk bed and you'll never need anything more.

What I remember most, though, was the sense that I was part of something as ancient as the seas, and that by becoming a part of it, it was part of me, too.

This poem was based on a journal entry I made during that time.

2009: sailor

it is an ancient life we live
(we have lived)
beckoning us to a distant horizon
until past and present blur
into an endless loop of time.

slowly we venture onward
into our sphere of the world
one circle after another
blending into a fathomless ocean.

it feels as though
i've lived one
years at sea
in the blink of an eye.

is that possible?

See more Sketchbook Project pages {here}.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

{kid's chore chart}

No, I don't have kids. But I definitely remember chore day as a kid myself, spending weekends cleaning house while my mom blasted the Best of Chicago from the record player at top volume. To this day I still smell pine sol when I hear Peter Cetera croon "Hard to Say I'm Sorry."

Dusting our giant wooden entertainment console was the bane of my existence because my mom kept something like 10,000 knickknacks on it. (Tanner thinks I exaggerate a lot, but I don't know what he's talking about.) I'll let you guess how often I just dusted around them. (Answer: 10,000.)

If this clever diy craft existed back then, my mom's knickknacks may have been spared some malicious, ninja-like dust bunnies.

This diy from {whatever dee dee wants} via {embellish} is a great way to turn a tedious task into a game. By adding small chores to tongue depressors and putting them in a can, you allow your kids to pick their own fate and draw out which chores they get to do that week. Throw in a little color-coding action, some "freebie" and "redraw" options, and in no time you'll have your kids begging to clean the house (right?)

Either way, I'm definitely making these for Tanner next time the house gets messy. :)

Best of all, you can print off your own set of these fun labels through a quick and easy download {here}, including blank ones to write yourself.

My favorites are the garage chores, which include tasks such as "check/ change car brakes" and "check/ refill oil level." Apparently this list is also for the "big kids", because I can't really imagine an eight year old working on dad's Chevy. Then again, I'm kind of bummed I had to dust the knickknacks rather than refill the antifreeze. Now it's ten years later and I still don't know how to do that!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

{that's my girlfriend}

Tanner and I have a running joke. Whenever I do something silly and a bit ridiculous (which, tragically, is quite often) he'll roll his eyes to whoever else is in the room, throw up his arms in a comical "what do I do?" kind of way, and say to the crowd, "THAT'S my girlfriend!"

Admittedly, I deserve his good-natured groans and head slaps most of the time, but alike as we are, he deserves this sentiment just as often.

Case in point: I came home from work the other day to find that a new movie had been added to our massive collection of DVDs. The addition, however, was not a DVD, but an old VHS of the Disney movie Hercules. Now, don't get me wrong, I am as much of a Disney addict as the next person, and it pains me that the only copies I own are those big, squishy white-box VHSes bought in 1987, which reside at my mom's house 3,000 miles away.
However, I was thinking that when I finally beefed up my own collection of Disney memorables it would be in DVD or Blue Ray format... right? I mean, it is 2011, people.

Hey, why date a normal guy when you can go for the hunky demi-god?

So, naturally, the question I asked Tanner was, "what the hell were you thinking?!"
"I found it at Goodwill!" he said, super excited. "It was only a dollar!"
Now, I am no stranger to awesome sales ($1 is almost as good as free) but even this purchase was puzzling. "But.... we don't have a VHS player," I pointed out.
"We don't?" he was crestfallen.
We both spent a moment pondering the implications of this.
My conclusion was that we were suddenly the proud owners of a movie we would never be able to watch. Tanner, however, decided otherwise.

The next day we were the proud owners of a used VHS player.
"It was only $7!" He said. ($7 is almost as good as free.)
So now we have an old VHS player and precisely one movie to watch on it. But, hey. You never know when the mood to watch Hercules might strike you....

THAT'S my boyfriend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

{fabric doorways}

I drooled over wallpaper on the ceiling last February, now I'm loving this idea from {how about orange} of mod podging fabric to a door...

It's adorable, it's removable, and best of all, it makes a boring white door so much cooler!

Monday, October 17, 2011

{etsy find: a splash of autumn}

Autumn is my absolutely favorite season. While living in North Carolina, my favorite thing to do was to travel to the Smoky Mountains and bask in the glorious colors, crisp evening breeze, and the flickering lights of fireflies. Everything smells like fire smoke and pumpkin jam, and who doesn't love a warm fleece to snuggle in as you drift to sleep? Delightful.

This is my first autumn in Portland, so I'm hoping the east coast brilliance of fall colors will be as spectacular in the west. Though I am not looking forward to leaving the gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer behind, I can't help but smile that it's October and that conjures up lovely images and memories of autumn.

Here's a collection of lovely things from Etsy that make me want to bake pumpkin pie.

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