Signs of Autumn


  
We went apple picking today. This time I’m determined to use up all of them, starting with an apple pie tomorrow. We got some Cortland and Mutsu varieties.

We also picked up a pumpkin that we’ll hopefully carve. Two years ago we got one and let it sit in the kitchen until probably January.

Fashion Friday – What’s in my Bag?

Hello from vacation! Since I’ve been interested in the capsule wardrobe idea, I was very intrigued by the idea of packing only what I could carry on the plane. Here’s what I brought.
The bag. Isn’t it the cutest thing ever? It’s large enough to fit everything I need, but much smaller than a rolling suitcase. I found it at DSW and it was exactly what I was looking for.


I packed: one pair of shorts, one skirt, one dress, one tank top, and two blouses. On the journey I wore: jeans and a gray t-shirt (front, center). I carried my gray cardigan in case the plane got cold.

Outfits:

  • Thursday – Gray t-shirt, jeans
  • Friday – Blue blouse, jeans
  • Saturday – Striped dress for dinner; blue tank top, polka dot blouse and shorts for the rest of the day.
  • Sunday – In case we go to church, skirt with gray t-shirt. Jeans with any of the shirts for the plane ride home.

Also packed: underwear, two bras, one set of pajamas, socks, sneakers, flats. I wore my sandals on the plane for ease through security.


I found this adorable clear bag at TJ Maxx. It came with an assortment of carry-on bottles and containers for personal care items. I put the rest of my makeup in the blue bag.

See you on Monday when I get back! Let’s hope this packing plan worked well for me.

Coconut and Cardamom Pancakes from The Part-Time Vegetarian

I hate pancakes. Sure, I’ll eat them, but I’ve never been a fan. The main reason is because I just suck at making them. The heat is never on the right setting, and they always turn out strange looking. Plus I can’t make more than one on the same pan without them turning out half really dark and half barely cooked (see second picture).

But for pancakes, these were very good. They have all the regular ingredients like flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, with a couple of special additions: coconut milk (not canned) and cardamom. I found this recipe in The Part-Time Vegetarian.


These were the last two pancakes I made, when I was just using up the rest of the batter by pouring it into the pan to make one big one at a time. Cooked by themselves, my pancakes look pretty nice.


And these were all the attempts before them. The recipe called for making small pancakes, but my stove just doesn’t like doing multiples. As you can see, most of them are half and half almost burnt and barely cooked.

But they were tasty, I definitely want to try this recipe again.

Fashion Friday – Labor Day Haul

I was in need of a more adult wardrobe, so I decided to take advantage of the Labor Day sales to grab a few things. Kind of an early birthday present to myself to get ready for our trip. 
Old Navy was my first stop. I picked up two tank tops and a camisole in cobalt, kind of a teal/forest green and the camisole in skin tone to wear under things. The tanks were $6 each and the camisole was on sale for $3.  
 
I also grabbed this cardigan because I needed one in turquoise. It’s more of a teal than aqua like I wanted, but it’s nice. It was on sale for $17.95.

   
After stopping in a few more stores, I went to my old standby, JCPenney. I found a nice cobalt blue blouse with a scoop neck and back, and a lacy sweatshirt. I wasn’t sure about the sweatshirt but it was cozy and I love the idea of it, so when nothing else I tried on looked nice, I grabbed it. It was on sale for $20 down from $34, and the blue top was only $10.

 
The dark red dress on the right kickstarted my shopping spree. I was at the mall with my husband, and I stopped into Charlotte Russe because everything in the store was $20 or less. I fell in love with this dress instantly and it was only $20. It’s more of a maroon than the picture shows. When I went back the next day for my haul, I scoured their clearance rack and found the black skirt. It ticked all of my boxes. I wanted a full dark skirt, I’ve always wanted a maxi dress/skirt, and it has buttons all the way down the front. Plus, even though it’s a maxi skirt and I’m super short, it doesn’t drag the ground. For $10 I had to grab it.

Never pass up hitting holiday sales! I haven’t paid attention to them for years, but you never know what you can find.

Coffee and Cardamom Shortbread from The New Sugar and Spice

On Wednesday, I reviewed The New Sugar and Spice cookbook. This recipe sounded delicious so I had to try it.

First of all, the cardamom. I had no idea how hard it was to get until I went looking for it myself. I found it right away in my regular grocery store, but it was in the specialty/gourmet spices for $10 and $13. I thought I could look elsewhere and hopefully find it a bit cheaper. Hard to justify those kind of prices for a one-time use. Trader Joe’s didn’t have it, I enlisted my best friend to try some other stores and they didn’t have it. Our most high-end grocery chain had a spice section three times the size of ours, but they only had it in one brand, and it was $15.

So I sucked it up and bought the $10 bottle. I’ll have to figure out some other uses for cardamom.

The recipe also called for a springform pan or a tart pan, but I had neither, so I used a plain square pan with some parchment paper to lift it out with.

The recipe was very easy, it didn’t even require two bowls. It’s unique in that you mix all the dry ingredients first before adding room temperature butter and vanilla, and blending with a mixer. There were no milk, eggs or baking soda/powder. The result is this, a pan of nice flat, buttery, delicious cookies. I would definitely make these again.

What I Read Weekend – A Measure of Happiness

A Measure of Happiness

This book will be released on August 25, 2015. I received a copy through NetGalley.

A Measure of Happiness by Lorrie Thomson is the story of three people. Katherine owns Lamontagne’s, a local bakery in Maine. She divorced her husband, Barry, after a long bout of fertility treatments didn’t work so he could have the family he deserved. Yet he still comes into her bakery every morning for coffee. She never wants him to know her deep secret.

Celeste worked at Lamontagne’s before going to culinary school, hoping to one day buy the bakery from Katherine. After something happens to her one terrible night, she runs back to Maine and Katherine. She won’t confess what happened to her or how she’s dealing with her eating disorder.

Zach is on a road trip up the coast, stopping at every bakery along the way. He’s adopted and searching for his birth mother. He finally stops at Lamontagne’s, drawn by Celeste and Katherine, and hoping his search is finally over.

There’s a recurring theme of talking around subjects. Not many secrets are completely hidden, but no one wants to come out and talk about them. Zach and Katherine both know that the other might have something they want. Everyone knows about Celeste’s eating disorder but everyone is afraid to bring it up. Katherine still loves Barry but her secret keeps them apart.

It’s not until Zach and Celeste get closer and start confessing that everything starts to unravel. Katherine and Zach are brought together by worry over Celeste to finally get things out in the open. And Celeste goes back to school to confront her demons.

This was a bit of a slow, sleepy book until Celeste comes to terms with what happened to her and decides to take matters into her own hands then everything races to the end.

It seems a lot like a typical book in the genre, with a small town and its secrets, but the subject matters it covers sets it apart. The ending is happy and unambiguous, which is a nice change. Like The Third Wife, I give it a 3/5. It’s a nice read, taking you on a journey with the characters and you hope things turn out well for them.

Wedding Flowers Practice Attempt

In the interest of saving money and the fact that I wanted to go to floral design school, I thought “I can make my own bouquet, no sweat.” So I bought some floral tape and a cheap bunch of flowers from the grocery store to practice before the big day. I took a few flowers at a time and taped them together with floral tape, which took some getting used to. Apparently floral tape doesn’t work like regular tape, you have to stretch it out to get it to stick to itself, and only itself.
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First of all, daisies weren’t the best idea for a first time project. They don’t have long stems, only a bunch of short ones grouped together. With such short stems, the flowers had to be squished in together very tight.

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It also didn’t make a very big bouquet because they were so tightly put together. Definitely not big enough for the bridal bouquet I want.image

But it makes a cute little table decoration until it dies.