Bring In The New Year With This Cocktail Cooler

You guys didn’t think I would leave you in 2014 without a drink recipe did you? If you want to do something other than champs, try this Remsen Cooler. It’s gin based because gin is my favorite.

This recipe is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s a mild cocktail so you can drink your way into the new year and not pass out before the ball drops.

Remsen Cooler Recipe

 

Recipe makes one drink.

2 oz dry gin
Juice of 1 lemon
Top it off with club soda
Serve in a tall glass over ice

Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2015 is amazing.

New Years Dogs

Christmas Decor At Our House 2014

Yay Christmas! We’re ready. A lot of things have changed around here lately. We got a new sofa, I made some new art and pillows, and we got new tables and lamps (more on that later).

This year I went with a silver, gold, black, and white theme for our tree. Most of the ornaments are from Target, IKEA, or vintage. I also DIY’d some marbled ornaments. It’s totes glam and I love it. I can stick with it for a few years since it’ll go with any decor color scheme I happen to have going on. You know I like to change my mind about that lot.

Christmas at the home of blogger Krys Melo of Melodrama

 

Tada! Merry Christmas!

 

DIY: The Easiest DIY Christmas Wrapping Ever

Let’s face it, some people just aren’t that creative with wrapping presents. (Not me though, I’m wonderful.) Or maybe some of you just don’t want to mess around with all of the ornamental bows and ribbons. Maybe you just want to do something a little different and totally adorable. Well here’s the solution to your problem. Put it in a gift bag.

Just kidding! Chalkboard paper!

All you need is a roll of chalkboard paper and chalk markers, which are available at most craft stores. Chalkboard paper is just like a roll of wrapping paper so if you’re not that good at wrapping presents in general, this post wont help you (try here instead). I’m merely here to solve your creative problems. Basically you just wrap the gift as normal and then draw whatever custom design you want on it. Tada!!

DIY Chalkboard Wrapping Paper!!

The Perfect Spiced Rum Eggnog Cocktail For The Holidays

It’s the time of year where we make all of the nogs. Regular eggnog, spiked eggnog, coquito (the eggnog-like Puerto Rican drink), and nog cocktails. I used to not even like nog and now I’m like “DRUNK ON NOGGGG.” *Beyonce voice*

Here’s a classic style nog cocktail that you can quickly mix up for yourself or guests. This recipe typically makes one tall drink, which is perfect for me since I often drink alone during the holidays, but I digress! If you want to make more, just double or triple the recipe.

Classic Spiced Rum Eggnog Cocktail

Spiced Rum Eggnog Cocktail

Put the following into a cocktail shaker:
1 raw egg
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 1/2 oz spiced rum (black or dark is best)
A pinch of fresh nutmeg

Shake VERY WELL. Then add ice and shake vigorously again and strain into a glass. Dust with cinnamon and serve with a cinnamon stick stir.

I know some of you may be sketched out by using raw eggs in drinks, but it’s fiiiine. Some things you can do to avoid any kind of risk is to make sure you buy the fresh eggs, store them in the refrigerator, and wash them before use, and if you’re super sketched out you can buy pasteurized eggs. 

Butternut Squash Pie with Speculoos Cookie Crust and Pecan Streusel

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

I love baking pies, you guys. For me there’s no better way to spend a cold autumn morning than baking a pie and listening to my favorite holiday mix. We’ve finally had some cooler weather and rain in California, so it was time to wake and bake. Pumpkin? Nah, been there. Sweet potato? Nah, done that. Butternut squash?  Yes. Butternut squash is probably my most favorite of the squashes, but I’d never had it in pie form, so I was unreasonably excited.

I didn’t feel like using regular pie crust, either. I’m such a rebel \m/. I thought maybe it would be nice with a cookie crust. *Light bulb* Have you ever had speculoos cookies? Jesus C. they’re good. They’re spiced and very crunchy. Perfect for crust making.

The result was exactly what I’d hoped for. The filling has a similar consistency to pumpkin and sweet potato pie, but it has more of a fruity aroma and taste. The spiced cookie crust paired well with it and gave a nice texture. I added a pecan streusel on top because I like the roasted nut flavor along side all the sweetness. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a foodie d-bag. I won’t go on and on with the Top Chef style food chatter, but basically the pie is yummy and you should make it. Here’s the recipe.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust
Speculoos Cookie Crust:
1 pack of Speculoos cookies, 1 1/2 cups of crumbs
5 tbs melted butter

Use a blender or food processor to finely crush your cookies into crumbs. (If you don’t have either of those appliances, put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Melt butter on stove stop or microwave. Mix melted butter and crumbs together until it has a wet sand consistency. It should hold together when you pinch it. If your crust is still a little dry and won’t hold together, you can add a bit more melted butter until it does.  Put in pie pan and use your hands or a measuring cup to press and flatten the crumbs to the bottom and up against the sides.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until it has set and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Speculoos Cookie Pie Crust

This part of the pie is optional but highly recommended.

Pecan Streusel Topping

Pecan Streusel Topping (Optional):
1/2 cup pecan pieces
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Toss ingredients together and reserve for sprinkling on top of pie halfway through baking.

Now for the filling.

Butternut Squash Pie Filling Recipe

Pie Filling:
1 large butternut squash (approx. 2- 2/12 cups of puree)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

There are a few different methods to cooking the squash. First is the method I used because it gives a nice roasted flavor and cooks faster:
1.Peel, cut into large chunks, and roast at 400 degrees for 40-ish minutes.
Or, alternatively you can:
2. Cut it in half and bake it cut side down, for about 1-1/2 hours.
3. Peel, cut into large chunks, and boil until tender.

Let it cool and then puree it.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar and eggs. Add the salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice and mix really well. Stir in the butternut squash puree and cream and mix until smooth. Pour into the prepared pie shell.

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe

Bake for about 45 minutes until filling has set and slightly risen in the middle. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. [Note: If using optional streusel mixture, sprinkle onto pie after 20 minutes and then continue baking for 25 more minutes]

Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan Streusel and Speculoos Cookie Crust. Full Recipe!

 

DIY: IKEA FADO Lamp Turned Jack-o-Lantern

I can be a bit of a Halloween traditionalist, you guys. I like my October nights lit by the faces of Jack-o-lanterns and I like those Jack-o-lantern faces to be classic. However, I still like to mix things up sometimes, and get serious, it’s not exactly practical for me to have carved pumpkins sitting around as light sources for the entire month. When I saw the orange FADO at IKEA, I didn’t just see a colorful orb lamp, I saw a potential Jack-o-lantern.

fado-table-lamp__0275795_PE413950_S4

The FADO is a pretty cool lamp on its own. It has a spherical shape that is a throwback to the mid-century space age era and it gives off a nice, soft, glowing light.

Pulling this off is really as simple as drawing or painting a Jack-o-lantern face onto the lamp. I used chalk to draw my ideal face shapes and then painted over it using a charcoal colored chalk paint. You can use a sharpie, a paint pen, or whatever you’d like. I just liked the chalk paint texture against the frosted glass of the FADO. It also looked more vintage to me that way.

IKEA FIDO Lamp turned Jack-o-Lantern

I love this little guy. Look how cute he is! And the glow sets the perfect mood light for Halloween movie watching.

IKEA FIDO Lamp turned Jack-o-Lantern

 

DIY: How To Make Your Own Decorative Halloween Candles

It’s almost time to break out the Halloween goodies! If you like DIYing your way throughout the holidays, this is the craft for you.
DIY Halloween Candles

I’m pretty into candles. They make great decorations, they add pretty light to a room, and sometimes they smell pretty good. Have you seen some of the prices on decorative candles though? Oof. Just get crafty and make your own.

You need the following things:

Candles
Wax Paper
Tissue Paper
Rubber Stamps or InkJet Printer
Colored Pencils and Pens
Heat/Embossing Tool or (very hot) Blowdryer

First, you start with tissue paper. Place your image on the shiny, smooth side of the paper. You can use a rubber stamp, draw your own image, or use a printer to create your images. Then cut them out as close to the edge as possible.

DIY Stamped Halloween Candles

If you’re not a rubber stamp collector or a particularly great drawer and prefer to print your images like I did, just tape a piece of tissue paper to a piece of standard printer paper and feed it through. You can find images and clipart to download all over the internet. Resize them in a photo editing program to fit your candle size.

DIY Halloween Candles

Color them in with pencils and add additional details with a ballpoint pen if you want.

DIY Halloween Candles

Once you’re done with that it’s time to adhere the images to the candle. Use a little bit of glue stick to stick your tissue paper to the candle.

DIY Halloween CandlesDIY Halloween Candles

Then wrap a piece of wax paper around the candle and over your tissue paper cut-out. Use your heat tool to melt the wax paper. You’ll know when it’s melted because the image will get clearer and you won’t be able to see the edges of the tissue paper cut-out anymore. I used a heat gun but a very hot blowdryer will work as well. Using your blowdryer’s concentrator nozzle attachment is a good idea. Don’t over do it! You don’t want to warp the candle. DIY Halloween CandlesDIY Halloween Candles

Once you peel off the wax paper you’ll see that the tissue paper cut-outs are embedded and sealed in a new later of wax. Make sure you use a fresh piece of wax paper for each candle to get a clean, smooth finish.
DIY  Halloween CandlesDone! Simple custom DIY printed decorative Halloween candles.

DIY  Halloween Candles

Genius “Thanksgivukkah” Ideas

Ladies and gentiles, we are about to experience a rare occurance! The year of Thanksgivukkah is upon us! This happens like once every 70,000 years. The internet is buzzing with crossover recipes and ideas because who doesn’t enjoy a hybrid holiday? Here are some genius ideas for your Thanksgivukkah menu and celebration:

Let’s start with my pumpkin challah recipe, but make sure you braid it for authenticity purposes.

Pumpkin Challah

Next, you need latkes. Skip the applesauce and use cranberry sauce instead. Better yet, top it with turkey like they did here.

Potato Latkes Topped with Turkey and Cranberry Chutney #thanksgivukkahpotluck

Did someone say Kugel? Anna over at POPSUGAR shares her Pecan-Cranberry Noodle Kugel.

How about sweet potato muffins topped with brisket and cranberries?

Buzzfeed came up with a pretty amazing Thanksgivukkah menu and DIY projects, so head over there for more ideas. Like this Maneschewitz-Brined Turkey.

You can make my pumpkin challah bread pudding if you wannnntttt…

Pumpkin Bread Pudding-4

If you want to play something other than dreidels get your hands on the Magical Mitzvah Park boardgame.

Happy Thanksgivukkah and chag sameach!

DIY: Paper Snowflake Tutorial

I’m a paper snowflake making machine!!!! I learned how to make these in elementary school, somewhere between hand stamping gift wrap with cut potatoes and learning how to temper chocolate for chocolate covered pretzels. I went to a very creative school. Jvee makes fun of me, BUT IT MADE ME WHO I AM. Anyway, I’m excited to string these all over my apartment!

Here is how to make paper snowflakes using standard letter size paper in 8 easy steps.

SnowflakeTutorial

1. Start with standard letter paper. Like the kind that is in your printer.

2. Fold down the top right corner of the paper, making a triangle. Don’t worry about the excess yet.

3. Fold the left top corner down.

4. Cut off the excess paper, making a triangle. When unfolded, this is a square folded into diagonal quarters.

5. Fold your triangle into thirds.

6. Cut off the excess, making another triangle.

7. Cut your desired shape.

8. Unfold and see your creation! I like to iron mine with a low setting to make them crisp flat.

Paper Snowflakes

Experiment with different cuts and shapes to create a flurry of unique snowflakes. Remember no two are alike! Glitter or flock them for some texture and sparkle. String them into garlands or use them as ornaments on your tree! They go great with our vintage woodlands theme. ❤

Paper snowflakes

DIY: Flocked Pine Cones

Recently Jvee and I made the drive up to Big Bear Mountain so he could see snow for the first time. While up there I took photos including this one that has become a favorite.

I love the idea of woodsy elements in a Christmas display so I gathered pine cones to use for decorating at home. I was inspired by the photograph above for this craft. Flocked pine cones!

All you need is white glue, white flocking powder, and some iridescent glitter. I put some glitter into my flocking powder for some sparkle. The exact amount is up to you and how much you want it to glisten.

Use your glue to cover the tips and some tops of the scales. You basically want the pine cones to look like they have been sitting outside and the pine cone’s scales have gathered snow.

Then, cover the glue with flocking powder! Use a good amount of powder in the same way you would glitter. Make sure to work over a piece of paper or glittering tray so you can save and pour the excess powder back into your container. You don’t want to leave it laying around so your friends and family stage an unnecessary intervention.

Let the glue dry and the scales will look like they are kissed by snow. The flocking will also stick to the sap inside of the pine cones. If you want your ‘snow’ to be more dense, just carefully repeat the steps once your pine cones are completely dry. That will give you a thicker layer of flocking.

I added clippings from my Christmas tree for display. I lightly sprayed the evergreen with spray adhesive and flocked them. I had some red jingle bells that I added for some festive color and arranged it all on a display dish.

They really take no time at all and cost pennies to make! Try using these as table decorations, tree ornaments, or even place card holders at your holiday dinner parties!