Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Treats and Tricks

Since I'm in France right now, there isn't much Halloween going on right now. Although there may be small celebrations happening throughout the month of October, it isn't a custom here. Today during my English classes, I taught the children a little bit about celebrating Halloween in the United States. They seemed to enjoy the idea. Some of them even tried to convince their teacher that they should celebrate Halloween at the school. I think that those children really just wanted to go around asking for candy. Which I completely understand.

Although I will not be decorating or baking for Halloween this year, I have found some awesome ideas on other blogs that I'd love to share with you today.

Cranberry Pumpkin Cookies with Burnt Butter Icing- Cranberries make everything better, and the burnt butter icing sounds absolutely delicious.

Candy Dipped Pretzel Rods - Pretzel rods are a good combination of sweet plus salty. They work for any occasion with just a few color changes. A jar full of orange and black pretzel rods would be perfect for a Halloween event.

Witch Hat Cookies - These witch hat cookies involve icing, oreos, and hershey's kisses. They seem super simple to make, but still seem impressive to serve.

Halloween Mummy Cupcakes - It isn't a party with cupcakes. Why not mummy cupcakes?

Halloween Cake Pops - My cake pops never look this good. Obviously, the only solution is to practice and eat all the ones that don't turn out right.

Glittered Pumpkin Centerpiece - Carving a pumpkin is fun, but putting glitter on a pumpkin seems like just as much fun.

DIY Halloween Trick or Treat Bags - With a free printable. If I were throwing a Halloween party, I would send everyone home with these bags filled with a little bit of candy.

Cobweb Halloween Wreath - You know that cobweb stuff that people use to decorate their fireplaces and front porches like a spider's web. Turns out that you can make a spooky wreath with it as well. That stuff sticks to anything, so the process seems easy.

Do you have any awesome Halloween inspired ideas? Share them in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Field Notes: September 2014

A few of the things that we've been loving in September.

In my free time lately, I've been watching a lot of TED talks. This one is one of my favorites. A rich life with less stuff.

Here's a great post from Kory Woodard about what she wished she knew before finishing college.

Broken, Made Beautiful. This wonderful site called One Day Lighter has lots of inspiring posts like this one.

We love clothes, but we also know that it's important to know how our actions and choices impact others. Shopping With Ethics: A 5 Step Guide to Ethical Fashion has some advice on how to do that.

Some of you may remember that I've mentioned Tirzah Magazine before for its inspiring, faith based articles. I'm so excited to get to share with you an article I wrote there called Growing Roots in Christ.

I've recently discovered a charming blog called 34 Magnolia Street. While there are lots of great posts, this one about hospitality as a lifestyle is one of my favorites.

Cupcakes are one of our favorite things. So, I can't wait to try this recipe for maple buttercream frosting

Jennifer is currently loving this blog - Southern Curls and Pearls.

I finished watching all four of the BBC episodes of Shakespeare Retold. My favorite was Much Ado About Nothing, of course. I also really liked A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. I had forgotten that basically everybody dies in MacBeth and that one was a little too dark for me. Overall, I enjoyed the adaptations.

Finally, I'll leave you with an adorable bunny.


Did you see August's field notes?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Guest Post on Escape and Inspire

I'm just stopping by today to tell you that you need to head over to Escape and Inspire. Jenny was nice enough to let me share 21 Journal Prompts with her readers. 

Take your time to enjoy all of the posts on Escape and Inspire. You won't be disappointed.

Some of my particular favorites are How Journaling Can Make You a Better Writer and 5 Easy Ways to Be More Productive.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

International Travel Advice

Advice for International Travelers

Some of you may know that I'll be in France teaching English for the current school year. I've made the trip across the Atlantic to France several times now. As much as I love traveling, going overseas always leaves me exhausted. Still, I have picked up a few tips that can make the journey just a little bit easier, and I'm happy to share those with you today.

- First, as you are preparing for your trip, make a packing list. Before you even begin to pack, write down everything that you plan to take. You can add to the list over several days as you think of things. As you pack, check each item off the list. This will help you to make sure that you do not forget anything. If you start packing several days in advance, you'll know exactly what's in your bags already, and you won't end up packing multiples of the same item.

- After you have packed everything, go back through your list. Do you absolutely need every single thing that you have? Try to take at least a few items out. The fewer things that you have to carry, the easier your trip will be.

- Bring several snacks to eat while you travel. My journey from home to my apartment in France ended up taking almost 24 hours. While I did eat meals in the airport, I did not buy any snacks there. Instead, I ate the carrots and granola bars that I had packed. Trying to go through shops and standing in line while carrying a backpack and a bag is not fun at all, so I tried to keep the number of times that I had to do that to a minimum.

- Bring an empty water bottle. You can fill it up with water at a fountain once you go through security. It's much cheaper than buying water in the airport. Plus, you will want water to drink while you are on the plane.

- Wear layers. It is usually cold on planes, but walking through the airport from one gate to another can get pretty warm. Try wearing a nice shirt that you can layer a sweater over, so that you're not too cold or too hot during your trip. Also, a scarf that is wide enough to double as a small blanket is a good idea, too.

Do you have any tips of your own for travelers?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Coca Cola Cupcakes with Ganache Icing

After heading to Atlanta to get my visa, I'd been thinking about making coca cola cake. Of course, since I love cupcakes, I decided to modify a recipe to make cupcakes instead. You can't necessarily tell that these cupcakes have coca cola in them, but you can tell that there's something different about them.

Based on this coca cola cake recipe by Linton Hopkins.

Makes 12 cupcakes



1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 oz. butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
1/2 cup Coca Cola
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a saucepan combine the butter, oil, and Coca Cola. Allow the mixture to boil for about a minute. Then, remove it from the heat.
3. Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the Coca Cola mixture to the contents of the mixing bowl. Stir.
5. Add baking soda, sour cream, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Stir.
6. Add eggs, and mix until well combined.
7. Transfer the batter into the cupcake pan. Fill each liner about half full.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool before icing cupcakes.

Ganache Icing

3 TBS melted butter
2 1/2 TBS cocoa poweder
3 TBS Coca Cola
1 - 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Start with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add more if necessary. The icing should be soft, but not runny. Ice the cupcakes once they have cooled.

Enjoy your cupcakes!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: An Everlasting Meal


When I first picked up Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal, I was not sure what to expect. It has a foreword by Alice Waters which is obviously a strong endorsement, but flipping through the pages, I found little that looks like a traditional cookbook.

However, this is exactly what the book is--a cookbook, meaning that it is a book that actually teaches the reader how to cook rather than just giving recipes to be followed.

Here are the reasons why I enjoyed An Everlasting Meal.

- This cookbook is meant to be read rather than simply flipped through.

- Adler's cooking philosophy is that nothing in the kitchen should be wasted.

- Every chapter stresses that ingredients used in each meal should build part of the next meal.

- You are encouraged to understand the cooking process and make it your own.

- The sections present the basics of cooking in a way that shows how they all relate to each other.

If I were to sum the book up into one statement, it would be - no fuss, just delicious meals.

If you were only going to buy one cookbook, this would be the one that I would suggest. An Everlasting Meal is highly practical for everyday cooks, but at the same time, the writing style elevates the book to something more than ordinary.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times of year because of all the cozy, fun, and delicious things the cooler weather inspires us to take part in. Here are a few of my favorite things about fall and some fun ideas to help you make the most of this beautiful season.

Plaid Shirt

1. Plaid
It's time to don your favorite plaid shirts. The plaid look is effortlessly cute with a side braid like the one in this tutorial How to: Reverse Side Braid by the beautiful Luxy Hair ladies.

Coffee Cup

2. Warm Drinks
My favorite hot drink during the fall is Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte. The rich, sweet pumpkin flavor is the perfect way to make any day more festive. If you want to brew up your own creation, try Celestial Seasoning's India Spice Chai Tea. This tea has the perfect balance of spiciness and warmth from black pepper and cinnamon. It also has the best iced chai recipe I've found on its box. I love to drink it to warm up on chilly mornings or drink it while I settle down with a book at night (decaf of course!).

3. Cozy Scents
Familiar scents have the power to bring us back to our favorite moments in life. I've become obsessed with candle warmer fragrances because they heat up so fast, and I don't have to commit to a scent with a big candle. Some of my favorite scents this fall are Better Homes and Gardens' Comfy and Cozy scents that are inspired by flannel and fleece. Fleece and flannel are the fall version of summer's clean linen fragrance. Some other more traditional scents that bring back joyful memories of campfires and family gatherings are Gooey Marshmallow S'mores, and A Thankful Harvest.

Candied Apples

4. Sweet Treats
One of the best things about fall are the tasty goodies! One thing I look forward to are the yummy veggies like Acorn Squash. Now, I know that vegetables are not what usually first on the list of tasty treats, but good roasted acorn squash is delightful! Yes, I just called a vegetable delightful. Sunny Anderson makes this treat super simple with her Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash recipe. Another one of my fall favorites is a thing called Spoonfudge. You're probably asking yourself what is a spoonfudge? It's only the most delicious homemade fudge that you've eaten in your life packaged into cute little jars with an adorable spoon . This fudge hails from the colorful Sebastopol, Mississippi. (Now you're probably asking yourself what is a Sebastopol? I am too y'all.) My personal favorite is the Salted Caramel flavor, but the Pumpkin Cheesecake is perfect for fall. It's like regular fudge but so much creamier and more fun to eat. Luckily for the world, Spoonfudge will ship its delicious fudge to you.

Fall Landscape

5. Go Outside!
The real magic of fall can only be enjoy outside! So go outside and take a walk, admire the leaves, have a picnic, go to a bonfire, play in the leaves, breathe in the crisp air, sit on a bench and drink coffee, read a book, and find local fall festivals. Enjoy the last few weeks of beautiful weather before it gets too nippy outside.


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