under where?

I hate making people jealous of me, and so I almost didn’t post today.  But then I thought about it a little more, and I realized that what I accomplished today is truly ‘blog&brag’ worthy: gluten-free pumpkin muffins with marshmallow&raspberry toppings.  These muffins were delicious the entire way though – from licking-the-bowl-clean to eating all 6 muffins as soon as they popped out of the oven.  I’m not even kidding.

But, if I’m totally honest with myself, I owe about 75% of the recognition to Dating Dish.  She came up with deliciously healthy (I couldn’t have combined those two things on my own) recipe for making strawberry oatmeal muffins, and I just twerked the recipe a bit to make pumpkin muffins with marshmallows and/or raspberries.  Got to roll with the season, right?
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Anyway, definitely check out the original recipe by Dating Dish, and when you can’t eat anymore, switch it up and try these delicious bits of pumpkin heaven.  If we’re both eating them, then you can’t really be jealous anymore, can you?
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Ingredients
2 1/2 cup   Oats
1/2 cup      Canned Pumpkin
1/2 cup      Nonfat yogurt
2               Eggs
1/2 cup      Stevia or other sweetner
1 1/2 tsp     Baking Powder
1 tbsp        Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp      Baking Soda
1/2 cup     Marshmallows
1/2 cup     Raspberries

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Method:
1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin tin pan made for 12 muffins.
2.  Place all of the ingredients (besides marshmallows and raspberries) in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into muffin tins and then top with marshmallows and raspberries.
3. Bake for 20.
4. Enjoy!!

sorry, im26c4u!

Which came first: the cake or the book?  It’s a hard question to answer because it’s difficult to imagine a world without sweet treats or engaging novels.

My friend Clare and I created a book club called Bookmarks and Napkins to celebrate our mutual love for literacy and lemons.  Okay, not literacy and lemons, eating and reading, but literacy and lemons sounds much more eloquent, doesn’t it?  The basic premise of the club is that we read a book, and then we each make a dish inspired by the novel.
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The Cuckoo’s Calling was the novel for October, and since the book takes place in London, I used the map above (a guide to London’s culinary scene) for inspiration.  I googled and yahooed and yelped all the noted hot spots, and at the end of it all, I was just craving something truly American: Apple Pie.

Since I live in Minneapolis, I decided to make pies from “mini-apples.”  All in all, I absolutely failed to follow the rules of book club, but I did manage to make some pretty delicious “mini-apple” pie:
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PS: I learned about im26c4u yesterday, and it’s been making me giggle ever since.  Do you have any coded messages that make you smile when you see them?

gimme s’more

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Fall weather makes me want to sit around a bonfire and roast s’mores with my closet friends.  In a best-case-scenario, we’re sitting below a starry sky with caramel swirl marshmallows and ghiradelli chocolate.  We listen to Lorde on the stereo until the sun comes up, and then we take the canoes out to watch the sunrise on the water. Image
Sounds like a perfect weekend, right?  It’s based on actual plans for an upcoming cabin weekend, but, as for now, I’ll do my second favorite fall activity: read inside while I listen to the rain fall in the streets.  In this best-case-scenario, I’m drinking mulled apple cider and surrounded by candles. Image
Jon and I took a drive out to the country to see the changing leaves, and the trip inspired me to make fall-inspired mason jar candles.  Perfect for keeping me company while I’m reading on rainy days.  If you’re interested, the process is detailed below:
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Fill the outer rim of a mason jar with fall leaves:
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I used double-sided tape to secure a candle wick at the bottom of a mason jar:Image
My wick stood straight for the majority of the project, but toward the end I secured it between two knives:
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I melted soy wax in a microwave-safe bowl:
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And then poured the wax into the mason jar and around the candle wick.  When the wax dried, the candle looked like so:
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do you carrot all?

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An easy way to find out if your friend ‘carrot alls’ is to ask them to watch your puppy for a weekend.   For some reason, ‘carrot all’ made me think of ‘carrotalls’ – like carrot overalls, and I ended up drawing this picture:
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But, dear reader, what we’re here to talk about today is not carrot alls, but thanking people with carrots.  Jon and I are going out of town for my birthday, and I sent my next-door-neighbor a text to see if she would mind puppy sitting for me:

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I know, I know, she is the best.  She said presents aren’t necessary, but I disagree 100%.  I figure everyone loves carrot cake, and what could be nicer than carrot cake in a mason jar?  An ‘Eat now or save for later’ sort of thing?  I decided to fancy-it-up a bit and do three layers: caramel,  carrot cake, and homemade cheesecake frosting.

I used a box cake:
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Made the cream cheese frosting from scratch:Image
Put caramel bites on the bottom of the jar:
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Added the carrot cake:
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nd then topped the cake with the homemade cream cheese frosting:ImageImage

Lastly, I gave Kinzie a bath to prepare for her weekend away.  Here is the during and after photo:Image

fallababa disaster

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The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing acts of kindness. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

A lovely thought from a fantastic novel.  We don’t need fancy dinners or diamond rings to show someone that we love them.  One the contrary, we need less tangible things like consistency, loyalty, and, hopefully, laughter.  What matters is that your friends&sweethearts understand you, appreciate your quirks, and remain by your side (come what may).

In an effort to remain habitual/consistent with my rah rah rah experiments, I decorated the Minneapolis bike trail with a ‘happy fall’ banner.  The simple banner was made by painting burlap and then stringing the letters together on a ribbon. Happy fall, y’all:
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When the experiment ended, I met up with Lauren for thrift store shopping.  We didn’t find any clothes, so we bought non-prescription glasses for fancy dinners, baby showers, and hot dates.
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I got home feeling pretty optimistic about the day, but wishing my sign had ended with “y’all.”  I made a pretty graphic to make up for it:
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Fallababa:
what you say when you fall out of bed
opps!! i just fallababa!

my zips are lipped

Summer months are spent soaking up the sun lakeside, dining with friends on patios and rooftops, and cruising the streets for weekend festivals.  The atmosphere is lively, fun, and spirited.  When the air starts to chill, however, things seem to get a little more cozy and intimate.  We take the party inside, and we spend our time with our nearest and dearest.  In my world, that means a lot of dinner parties, game nights, and movie marathons.

Tonight is the beginning of trivia season, and Jon has been quizzing me to prepare for the season opener: “Who was the last player in major league baseball to hit over 50 homeruns in a single season?” He’s a bit of a sports nut, so his questions keep me knowledge about baseball, football and basketball.  Go ahead, ask me anything about the 2000 Rosebowl.  Do it.

Trivia is just the beginning of game season for us, and our apart(y)ment will be hosting lots of game nights before the new year begins.  To keep things exciting, I’ve started looking for new  games to share with friends.  My picks are below, but I’m anxious to know  you play when you’re stuck inside —  any recommendations?

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getting lost together

Fall is on my mind, and since I’m the cheesiest romantic out there, I’ve been thinking about seasonal date ideas.  I happen to love surprises even more than romance and cheese, and so I created a game that surprises the receiver with fall date ideas.  I’m calling the game ‘Fall in Love,’ but if you’re on the normal end of the romance scale, you can call it anything else that you want.

The game works like this:  write 12 occasions that will occur during the fall season on envelopes, and then the envelopes with surprise dates to be opened on the given occasion.  For example, the envelope that says “1st Day of October” has a card inside that reads ‘we’re going to spend the day at a corn maze.’   The envelopes and cards I made are below, and you can download them here: fall1 and fall2.  Or you can make your own and personalize the dates 🙂
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mittens in the sink

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Falling into autumn means crisp nights, pumpkin pies, and the return of sweaters&scarves&hats&boots.  As fall progresses into winter, more and more clothes come out of storage, and I begin wearing 25% of my closet to keep warm.  I’m all for layering, but things start to get a little messy when I come home and need to undress – scarves get tossed on the couch, hats get thrown behind the sofa, and mittens get placed in the sink.  Essentially, fall is the beginning of clothing mayhem.

To combat the chaos and stay a little organized, I created a coat rack out of cardboard letters and wire hangers.  4 steps to coat rack: insert the hanger handle into the bottom of the letter, decorate the letter with tacky glue, and then spray paint in the color of your choice.  Here are some photos of the process:
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suddenly september

eek! i’ve had a wonderful summer, but september is my favorite month and i woke up this morning just.so.dang.excited. about the upcoming fall festivities. so excited, in fact, that i channeled some of my enthusiasm into a graphic about why i love september so much. hope you find it inspiring:
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To be honest, I’m even a little excited about the fall outfits that come with the chilly weather. These are the looks I’m planning to rock once the temperatures drop low enough to bring out my boots:

fall sweetheart

literary fall

fall in love in 5 seconds (guaranteed)

jon’s love for me must have something to do with cheese.  the man is wisconsin grown, and he was raised on cheese curds, string cheese, cheese puffs, and all things served with cheese.  and then there is me: a certified cheeseball.  Imagei definitely amped up the cheese today with the mushiest RAH RAH RAH (random act of happiness) yet: a 5 second way to fall in love.  what does this mean exactly? it means, in my mind anyway, that you can fall (or run/walk/skip) in love simply by going down the stairs. perhaps this isn’t exactly what people envision when they think of falling in love, but it still qualifies by definition (especially if you actually fall down the stairs).

since architects aren’t building stairs of love all over town, i took matters into my own hands and decorated the stairwell at lake calhoun with red and white hearts.  i ran down the stairs a few times for good luck.  i didn’t actually fall down them, but maybe someone else will? that might be a little funny. and perhaps they would fall in love after? or maybe they would smile once they tumbled to the ground and realized that someone had decorated the stairs with hearts.  either way, a win win.  ImageImageImage
a big thank you to bluebird boutique for helping me look so stylish today — couldn’t have done it on my own : ) And if you like these photos, check out Theresa Swensen photography in Minneapolis.  Teresa’s a sweetheart that just decided to start a career in photography, and can take gorgeous photographs for you!