October 27, 2010

Well folks, I'm geeking out. I just found out that Matthew's choral program has been asked to come perform at the Lincoln Center in NYC in May- and that I get to go too!
Top 3 Reasons why this is so AMAZING:
1. One of my dearest friends in the world lives there. And I get to see her. And play. And lots of good things.
2. I get to check off one of my 30 Before Thirty goals!
3. I get to spend five days in one of the most fabulous cities with Matthew (a NYC first-timer) - experiencing some of the best food, places, and people. 

So darn excited... :)

A Fall-ish Glance

October 26, 2010
With the high being 37 degrees today, snow isn't far off....
and we're enjoying fall while we can!

Office Makeover

October 25, 2010
As some of you know, I've been on a quest to perfect our office/art room space. But I've decided to give up - give up, and just move in to Michelle's house. Check out this fabulously inspirational yellow office! Do you think she'd be okay with it?! :)

Be sure to check out the rest of her house tour over here!


Cranberry Tart

October 24, 2010
Okay, I realize this will be my second Tart recipe post in just as many days. My excuse is that with the pouring rain and roaring fire - I really haven't wanted to venture out. As I type the wind is howling, and I have a feeling that snow might not be too far off. This recipe is adapted from Sara Kate's Cranberry tart and as soon as I saw her pictures I was hit with one of those I-have-got-to-make-this-or-I-will-cry sort of feelings. It's so terribly festive - you should make it too!

This recipe also introduced me to one of my new top five favorite ingredients: Lyle's Golden Syrup. As someone who has a deeply ingrained distaste for using corn syrup in recipes, this is a fabulous substitution. My favorite moment was when Matthew gave me a history lesson on why there is a dead lion surrounded by bees on the have to love British imports!

As I don't have a tart pan with a removable bottom (Matthew, are you reading this? How many days until Christmas?) I assembled this tart in the same fashion as my apple tart from a few days ago. Turned out fine - but make sure to use a rimmed baking sheet - I had to lean the hard way that my beloved Golden Syrup is highly flammable.

Festive Cranberry Tart with Walnut Crust

For the Filling:
4 cups (16 ounces) fresh whole cranberries
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups golden syrup
zest from 1/2 unwaxed lemon

For the Walnut Crust:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cups walnut meal (pulse walnuts in food processor until consistency of cornmeal)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1-3 tablespoons cold water

To prepare the filling:
Heat the syrup and sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixtures is bubbling. Add cranberries and lemon zest and give it a few stirs to ensure that all the berries are evenly coated. You don't want to overcook the cranberries at this stage or else they will pop and not look at pretty in your finished tart. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the Walnut Crust:
Add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add chilled butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Continue by adding water one tablespoon at a time and pulsing until the dough comes together into a loose ball. Gather up dough and shape into disk. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll dough out to 1/8 " thickness. Pour cooled cranberry mixture in the middle, and pleat dough up and over filling.  ** This way will most definitely result in some syrup leaking out...if this displeases you use a tart pan or quiche baking dish. If you do decide to follow these directions, please-oh-please use a rimmed baking sheet. Need I again mention this tart's amazing flammable qualities!? **

Transfer to parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake uncovered for 30 - 45 minutes or until the crust has browned nicely and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for a bit and then serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or plain for all you hard core cranberry purists out there. Enjoy!

with love, j

My Music Man

October 23, 2010
Here are a few photos from a shoot we did for Matthew recently - my very own crazy-handsome music man.

with love, j

Rustic Apple Tart

October 21, 2010
sorry about the less than ideal picture - it was late!
This time of year people are baking some pretty scary things. Log on to Epicurious, Food Network, Martha, or the like, and you'll find "Bloody Finger" cookies, Eyeball Cupcakes, and Brain Jello. Yikes. While I'm not against others enjoying Halloween-inspired culinary creations, they're really not my thing. Eat a Bloody Finger? I've seen enough CSI and Bones to make that just a bit too...much. 
So I've decided to embrace the other seasonal culinary frenzy - APPLES. This delectable fruit can be used in so many different ways - sweet, savory, baked,
fresh, in waffles (yes!) - I just love it. 
I came across this amazing recipe for Assam Chai-der Apple Cake - only then to realize that it's a two day process. Hmmm. But I want baked apple goodness now!
So the chai-der cake is on hold for the moment, and I've turned to one of my favorite apple recipes: the amazingly simple rustic apple tart.

Rustic Apple Tart

1 Pâte Brisée (tart dough) 
for a 10-inch tart (my go-to recipe)
Lemon Juice
2 Apples (I used a fuji and a granny smith, for variation)

**This is a classic Jessica recipe in that I don't measure things out. I'm all about a dash here, a sprinkle, etc. If that bothers you, I'm sure there's a million tart recipes you can reference.**

Make the tart dough, according to directions. ( A store bought crust works just fine; I've just always preferred the Pâte Brisée recipe above. I've also used a cream cheese crust recipe which was also quite tasty.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Peel and core apples. Slice into 1/4 inch think pieces. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the apples, add a few dashes of cinnamon, a few drops of vanilla, and enough sugar to coat evenly. 

Roll dough out to circle at 1/8 inch thick. Place dough on a rimmed baking sheet. Start in the middle and arrange apple slices in a mound, spiraling outwards. Make sure to leave a good few inches of dough along the border. Once apples are in place, pleat the edges of the dough over the filling. (see picture)

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. If the top starts to get a bit too dark, you can tent it with foil.


with love, j

A Handmade Touch

October 20, 2010
As October comes to a close, I am getting more 
and more excited for Christmas. 
Christmastime means family, friends, games, The Tree, 
sparkling lights, carols and gifts. 
This Holiday Season we are flying down to Southern California to see our wonderfully missed family - and I can't wait. I've already started brainstorming about how best to spread the good ol' Christmas cheer, especially when it comes to Handmade gifts. There is a plethora of info out there about handmade gifts - everything from homemade stockings to boxes of salted caramels to a jar of festive cocoa
(like the one pictured above). 
I'm always at a loss for what to get people for Christmas - some people are gifted with knowing exactly what people would love, others, like myself, are less fortunate. That's why I love making things. Putting your time, creativity, and love into a gift is not only rewarding for the maker but for the receiver as well. 
I've already narrowed it down to a few that I'll be making this season, and my goal is to start production 
by the end of the month. 
December will be here before you know it!

with love, j


October 19, 2010

Weekend Waffles

October 16, 2010
I'm about to make an overarching statement about a very delicious culinary wonder. 
I'm of the opinion that waffles should be their own food group. 
 I haven't always been on the waffle bandwagon, but after my purchase of a darling yet aged waffle iron a couple months ago, I have re-fallen in love with the waffle. 
During the summer months it was peach waffles, blueberry waffles, raspberry and tayberry - oh, the summer months were fruitful. (okay, very bad joke...)
And now that Fall has arrived we've moved on to cinnamon apple walnut, maple oat, and vanilla banana - and today we added a new all-time favorite:
whole wheat candied orange. 

I made candied whole oranges a few days ago (fabulous recipe here ) and needed to find more recipes to use them up. So this morning as I was making our standard waffles, I decided to throw them in and wow - I'm glad I did. This recipe is as easy as they come - I've memorized the base, and just add to it depending on my mood.

Candied Orange Waffles

1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
Splash of Vanilla
2 Tbsp of  Butter, melted
1/2 - 1 Cup candied orange, minced (this is really up to you)

Plug in/turn on waffle iron. Mix all ingredients together - despite the "rule" that you're supposed to first mix the dry, then the wet, then mix together - I always use the one-bowl-method, and they turn out fine. 
Make waffles. Top with butter and syrup. Enjoy!

Polka-dotted Camera Strap

October 13, 2010
I always have a million project ideas floating around in my head - homemade gifts, custom mailing labels, making a shower curtain out of my millions of scraps of fabric - and I finally decided to conquer one of them. Since getting a grown-up camera (yay!) I've wanted to find a cute camera strap to cover the basic Nikon strap. I've found some cute ones on Etsy, but didn't want to shell out the $40. That's where good old DIY comes in! I researched a few DIY tutorials, and kind of took tips from all of them...while adding a bit of my own ideas along the way. I didn't take photos of the process, but it was pretty easy as long as you're comfortable with a sewing machine, scissors, and taking the strap off your camera.
(Which for me was the hardest part - how the heck to you get that thing back on?!)
I used a brown and blue polka-dotted fabric, and accented it with some brown vintage fabric strips. 
I finished it off with a couple mini fabric flowers and voila! 
My very own homemade camera strap.
Funky and fashionable.

Here are a few tutorials to get you started! Here, here, and here.

You, too, can conquer this project - have fun!

Cupcakes + Knitting Party = AMAZING

October 10, 2010
I've started knitting again...primarily because I'm already cold here, and it's only October. 
Winter is going to hit us hard! 
So I've been thinking about knitting, knitting books, knitting parties, 
and thank the heavens! - these popped up: 

I found these on one of my favorite sites Vegan Yum Yum
Aren't these crazy cool!?

Someone's ready for fall

October 8, 2010
Dapper, isn't he?


Some Pep

October 7, 2010
This week has been a weird one. 
Busy days.
Hardly seeing Matthew all week. 
Cranky Etsy folks.
Work frustrations. 
It hasn't been the best. 

I need some pep in my step. 
A new book to read. 
A weekend in Seattle.
A lazy afternoon with Matthew.
Yikes, I'm glad the weekend is right around the corner.

As promised, here's a sneak peek from yesterday's shoot...thanks Mary!


Dress Up

October 5, 2010

Tomorrow I get to do something fabulously fun. 
A little girl's dream come true.
I get to wear a pretty dress and get my picture taken! 
And although I'm a twenty-something adult, 
dress up is still oh-so-fun.
This afternoon Alisa and I are going to Storybook Bridal in CDA to pick up a few wedding gowns to use for our photoshoot with Maryangelo photography!
Tomorrow we, along with three other fabulous ladies, will get our hair/makeup done and get to dress up for
La Lune's first photoshoot. 
We'll be shooting in the park, around town,
really anywhere we can!
Normally I'm not gushy about girly-type things...
but I just can't help myself... :)

Look out for some behind-the-scenes photos
from the shoot tomorrow...

Get up...and DANCE!

October 4, 2010
There are a few things that really get me going in the morning.
A great cup of coffee. 
An early yoga class.
A roadtrip.
A good garage sale or antique show.
And then of course, there's always the whining of Numi to get me out of bed...

But I think I've found my most favorite thing to help me wake up. 
Thank you Justin and Jimmy.

30 Before Thirty

October 2, 2010
This is my version of a bucket list - 30 things that I'd like to see/do/accomplish/experience before I turn Thirty. Granted I have a few years, but I figure it might take me that long for a few of these...and I like writing these things down. I feel more inspired when I have something like this to refer to - it's a reminder that I am a work in progress, and that my life is an adventure.

I encourage you to join in on the fun! It doesn't matter how old you are - making a '40 by Forty' or a '50 by Fifty' list is just as good. Make sure to share your list!


Happy October!

October 1, 2010
an autumn afternoon of plucking pears and plums
I've always been a rainy, cloudy, cold, wintery sort of gal. I grew up with gorgeous seasons, but after living in Santa Barbara for five years I sort of forgot what real seasons felt like. I remember calling home during December to check on the snow fall - while studying for finals on sunny Butterfly Beach. It was bizarre. And so, so wrong.

Hence my utter celebration of fall in Spokane - the already crisp mornings that demand scarves and warm drinks, the blazing colorful trees, the smell of fireplaces all around town getting ready for the snowy season, the pumpkins, squash, and winter crops, and of course the steady marching of Christmastime, coming ever closer...

May your October be filled with steaming pumpkin lattes, falling leaves, woolly scarves, crisp mornings, one-needle costumes, and that far off distant sound of christmas carols.