||| summer has arrived! | strawberry balsamic goat cheese crostini |||

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Goat Cheese Crostini Plate

summer has arrived and we are so happy to see it! nothing spurs creativity like a good craving. with strawberries in season, i couldn’t resist picking a basket up from the farmer’s market! these simple, yet elegant crostinis will be the perfect addition to this weekend’s gatherings.

Sliced Bread Loaf for Strawberry Crostini

these are so simple to make, it’s almost embarrassing. slice up an italian loaf into pieces about a half inch thick. spread oil on the bread and toast at 425° for about 5 min. while cooking, slice strawberries (i chunked & sliced these for added dimension). let cool and spread goat cheese (i used plain flavor). arrange  strawberries and add fresh torn basil, salt & pepper. drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top and voila! these’ll be the talk of the party monday!

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Goat Cheese Crostini

||| have a lovely weekend! rachel |||

||| mini maple cookies |||

maplecookies

mid-week treat. okay, these aren’t the healthiest cookies; but, i mean, maple! i tend to be into classic desserts: brownies, chocolate chip cookies, etc. i’m all for a good macaron, but nothing beats the basics for me. warning: even better with sea salt on top, but far more dangerous.

||| enjoy! – r |||

ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (Grade B preferably)
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

directions:

1. Cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed for three minutes or until light and fluffy.

2. Add the vanilla extract and egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the maple syrup and mix until well incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the walnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for thirty minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie, about 1 inch balls, onto cookies sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

(recipe adapted from simply recipes)

||| diy | the ottoman |||

ottomanour aunt (the ultimate diy-er) recently sent me a picture of a table she bought at a thrift store for $5. once she mentioned she may turn it into an ottoman, i highly encouraged the idea so i could share the steps with you! her instructions follow:

1}  find a table! the main thing you are looking for is sturdy construction and attractive legs.

2}  remove the legs (this is not necessary if you are happy with the height of the piece. i planned to add 4 inches of foam on the top so the total height was more than i wanted.)

3} if needed, cut the legs off to the height you want. stain or paint the legs, as your project requires.

4} draw on the top of the table where you want to place your tufted buttons. drill two holes about 1/4 inch apart at each location.

5} trace the outline of your table top onto the foam. i used 2 pieces of 2inch thick foam instead of one piece of 4inch thick foam. it is about 1/2 the cost and makes no difference in the project. Hobby Lobby had the best pricing on foam (and there is always a 40% off coupon online!)

6} cut the foam.  (i found the best way to cut foam is by using a serrated bread knife.)  place on top of table.

7} cut a piece of quilt batting about 3 inches larger than the foam. place the piece on top of the foam and tuck the extra 3 inches over the side. wrap more quilt batting around the side until you are happy with the shape of the piece. you may need to tack the quilt batting down with a needle and thread so it doesn’t slide off the piece.

8} place your material centered over the foam.

9} using a long upholstery needle (available at any sewing store), starting from the underneath side, push the threaded needle through one side of the hole you drilled earlier until it pokes through to the top. run the needle through the button and back into the foam, making sure to find the other hole you drilled 1/4 inch from the entry hole. pull until you have correct tension you want to create your tufting. tie off underneath. (note:  if you want to use matching fabric covered buttons, you can buy button cover kits at any sewing store.) use embroidery thread or a strong thin string (regular thread will not be strong enough.)

10} continue until all buttons on your piece.

11} flip the piece over so you are looking at the underneath side. staple the loose material underneath. trim excess material.

12} put legs back on.

13} i wanted a little extra interest at the bottom so i tacked a decorative border at the bottom using upholstery tacks (available at any hardware store).

now put your feet up and rest on your new ottoman!

||| swedish pepparkakor spice cookies |||

titlelike a holiday spice candle brought to life, these swedish ginger cookies are perfect for cookie exchanges, gift tags or even tree ornaments. they’re super simple to make, too!

ingredientsdirections:

  1. whisk first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl until blended.
  2. beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. beat in molasses, yolk, and vanilla. with mixer on low, beat in dry ingredients until dough is just combined and still crumbly. use spatula to meld dough together.
  3. lay out three 14-inch sheets of waxed paper on a work surface and top each with 1/3 of dough. lightly press down and top with another sheet of waxed paper. with a rolling pin, roll out dough as thin as possible without tearing it, about 1/16 inch thick (this is key to very crispy cookies). gently peel back the top layer of waxed paper and replace it loosely. transfer rolled dough in waxed paper to a cookie sheet and place in freezer. repeat with remaining 2 portions. freeze for 30 minutes.
  4. heat oven to 325 degrees F. line baking sheets with parchment. remove one sheet of dough from freezer; peel off top sheet of paper. using a 2-3/4-inch-round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and put on baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. (gather dough scraps and refrigerate.)
  5. bake 11 to 12 minutes or until crisp. remove from oven; while hot, sprinkle with turbinado sugar. cut and bake remaining dough. when all scraps are gathered, roll between waxed paper and repeat.

recipe from delish.com

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||| happy holidays! -R |||

||| wrap it up | gift wrapping tutorials |||

gift wrapping is somewhat of an obsession for me during the holiday season.  to me, the presentation of a gift is almost (i said almost) as important as the gift itself.  i am constantly looking for gift-wrapping ideas on blogs and pinterest and i think i have found the best of the best!

||| enjoy! -t |||

wrapitup

||| 1.   glitter dots, because i’m addicted | 2.   gift bag, hello sandwich  | 3.   hand stamped paper, cotton & flax | 4.   fringe, willow day |||

||| gelato: behind the scenes |||

alright, I know I’m technically on break, but i just had to share this with you! i was recently lucky enough to go to a gelateria and see how gelato is made (fyi, fresh gelato is the best kind!). before we get into the process, follow these tips on choosing a gelateria:

the gelato should be deep in the wells so it stays cold, like this:

Imagenot piled high for the tourists, like this:

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the colorful flavors are usually fruity and geared toward the tourists (although still delicious!) and the bland colors are usually the more traditional flavors (try them while you’re in italy!). here’s how it’s made! unfortunately, you can’t really make it at home. they use a machine to create the gelato base and a second machine to freeze the mixture and create the gelato.

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||| going away party | recipes |||

last week, i posted about my going away party supplies.  today, i’m sharing the delicious recipes!  Even the pickiest of party-goers found something they enjoyed with this spread.
*note: no exaggeration, the salted caramel brownie cookes (#3) are my absolute favorite dessert!

||| 1 | strawberry cupcakes with a strawberry margarita buttercream recipe from bakers confections |||
||| 2 | chocolate covered strawberries soaked in Pinnacle Whipped vodka |||
||| 3 | salted caramel brownie cookies,  kitchenist |||

||| 4 | fig & goat cheese crostini, butter and brass |||

||| 5 | peach & prosciutto crostini, bon appétit |||

||| 6 | shrimp, pesto & grape tomato crostini, denver post |||

Drinks (not pictured):
||| watermelon mojitos | martha stewart |||

||| urban grape’s famous sangria | daily candy |||

||| going away party: supplies |||

i threw a little get-together, or “going away party”, if you will, the weekend before my trip to Italy began.

i came up with a teal/light pink color scheme and went from there.  here are my online party finds!  i purchased all of my supplies online (which ended up being cheaper than browsing countless stores!).  The Bakers Confections had the perfect colors I needed, Modern Lola (a children’s store) has an adorable party section & for all the basics a chain like Party City is ideal.

Going Away Party {supplies} ||| Planned Spontaneity |||With a little arranging on the new buffet table, a tissue flower (cut circles of nesting sizes, secured in the center and crunched) & crepe paper (folded many times lengthwise and with short snips on either side and crunched for dimension), it’s time to party!

(party recipes to follow)

||| happy planning! – R|||

||| Sophisticated Paper Chain |||

Not sure what to do with those never-ending September issues and gorgeous ads?  Sew them together, of course!  I can rarely go without cutting up a magazine, even in Italy.  It’s like therapy.  With a strict “no tape on the walls” rules, I had to come up with a collage alternative: a paper chain of my favorite pages.

I cut out my favorite advertisements and photos and sewed them together with thread, tying the knots in the back.  A needle was a necessity (luckily the Euro store had a sewing kit!).  Though this may not fit with your home decor (I’m in a temporary apartment during my time abroad), the paper chain is also a nice twist on an inspiration board.
||| caio! Rachel |||

Side Table {updated}

One of the great lessons I’ve recently learned is that it’s cheaper to buy and refinish old furniture than to attempt to buy the same quality of furniture today.  We followed this video by Jon Peters with step-by-step directions on how to refinish antique furniture; it was super helpful and easy to follow!

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