Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hot Chocolate Truffles

Today, I am going to join, for the first time, the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop (SABH). This month the hop is being hosted over at The Sticky and The Sweet with the theme: Childhood Favorites (or Favourites because she is in Australia).

Since we're still covered in snow here in Northern Indiana, a little trip back to childhood just screams Hot Chocolate! But we're grown-ups now, so the experience begs for something a bit more... special. So, I introduce you to hot chocolate truffles!

Clockwise from top right: Caramel, Earl Grey, Peppermint Mocha, Spicy
Hot chocolate in any flavor you want and made with your favorite chocolate! It's ok if you are drooling now.

These were Christmas gifts to my co-workers (along with some homemade marshmallows and sharpie mugs). At first I wanted to make some of these hot chocolate on a stick. But it turns out, that pin only goes to somebody's tumblr page. Sad face. So I went on a search for a recipe which led to many things, the best of which was this recipe from Your Cup of Cake for Hot Chocolate Truffles. Only, I also saw this recipe from Craft Passion, for Hot Cafe Mocha Truffles. Thinks to self: mmm, coffee and hot chocolate are good... but the coworkers don't like coffee... Continue the search to find this delicious list of hot chocolate flavorings at The Ticket Kitchen... but no recipes. So, back to Your Cup of Cake for some tweaking! I decided I would try making 4 different flavors (once the Nebraskan found this out, he told me I was just making more work for myself... he was right, of course, but... I wanted more flavors!!!!): Caramel, Earl Grey (because this, which is delicious), Spicy and Peppermint Mocha.

Let me clarify: you melt these truffles in a cup of hot milk. The mom didn't get that memo before just taking a bite :) She said they were good that way, but a bit strong.

I used the recipe from Your Cup of Cake as a base, but since I was making 4 different kinds I decided to half the recipe (except, right now as I'm looking at it, I realize that I didn't put enough chocolate chips in... nevermind that, they were still yummy). You can visit Your Cup of Cake for all the beautiful step by step photos.

Here is the basic recipe which I used for the Spicy:

1* c. Chocolate chips**
1/2 c. Cream
1/2 T Sugar (or, 1 1/2 t if you need something more exact)
1/8 t Salt
1 t Vanilla Extract (or really, whatever extract you want: peppermint or almond would be tasty)
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
6 t cinnamon

1. Pour everything into a heavy-bottom saucepan. Heat on low until melted. Let cool in the fridge until it can be easily scooped.
2. Scoop 2-3 T at a time and place on parchment covered pan. Freeze for one hour.
3. Mix together cayenne and cinnamon for coating
4. Form into balls with your hands and coat cayenne/cinnamon mixture.
5. Wrap in saran wrap and store in fridge. This step is especially important if coating in crushed candy canes.

Dissolve 4 t instant coffee in the cream before adding remaining ingredients
Coat in crushed candy canes
Replace cream with 1/2 c caramel sauce (I used homemade since it has cream in it)
Coat in gold sprinkles
Earl Grey
Steep 4 1/2 t (or more) loose leaf tea in hot cream for 8-10 minutes. Strain, making sure you have 1/2 cup cream. Continue recipe as written above
Coat in mixture of sugar and lemon zest

To enjoy, drop truffle into 1 - 1 1/2 cups hot milk. Stir until melted and drink!

* feel free to use 1 1/2 cups since that's closer to half from the original recipe
** I love Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate chips

The end verdict was that these were wonderful and made a great gift! I will probably be making more next year! However, the flavors were not as strong as I had hoped, so I would try to amp up the flavor and increase the chocolate-y factor to make these an even more special treat!

What was your favorite treat as a kid? What do you think would make a great flavor for hot chocolate?

Check out all of the other yummy childhood treats below!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Make Your Own London Fog Latte

To do list-eat supper-dishes-laundry-clean bathroom

I'm feeling utterly uninspired lately (I did manage to eat supper, about 2 hours later than usual). Maybe I'm not excited about the projects I did 2 months ago. Maybe I'm not cut out for blogging. Maybe I'm stressed about other stuff and don't know it. Maybe. Maybe maybe maybe. (I typed baby there. after that period. and then I realized you all might have taken it as an announcement. I only wrote it because it rhymed.)

So I started 3 different posts (all of which only have a title, except this one, finally). Last fall we had a pumpkin theme meal in which I made homemade pumpkin ravioli. yum! So I was going to tell you about that, but I can't remember a lot of it (did I double or triple the recipe? did I add more of this or that? how much did I end up making? (hint: waaaay too much!) etc.). So I quit. In December I made hot chocolate truffles (gifts): little balls of flavored chocolate for melting in hot milk. But again, didn't feel like writing about it.

So I found this link on pinterest the other day (yesterday), and fondly remembered the London Fog Latte (Earl Grey, not coffee*) I had a few times when I lived in the beautiful state of Kansas. Our local coffee shop here in Indiana has something similar, but it just... mm... too sweet. Not the same.

Yesterday was another snow day (This is snow day number 9 for us since Christmas. I worked 11 days in January. We are now into the 2nd week of June for make up days). The Nebraskan an I were cooped up in the house, again (he's a teacher at a different school, did I mention I'm a special ed paraprofessional... for now.) So I decided more caffeine was necessary, and I really wanted to drink this to see how it compared. Let me just say it was perfect (just don't forget the sugar and vanilla, it really makes the drink**).

So perfect.

I've had 3 in the past 24 hours.

I will probably make another one in the morning.

1. Watch the steam. 2. Swirl your spoon and watch the tornado with the sun and snow behind it. When you live here, you celebrate the sun whenever she is out.
I don't really know the legality of blogging other peoples' recipes. So I will just send you to her: Gimme Some Oven, for the London Fog Tea Latte recipe.

One tip though, if you don't have a steamer, heat your milk on the stove and whisk it up to be nice and frothy before pouring it into the tea.

I just want to say, I love the whole Grey family: the Earl, the Lady, the Double Bergamot... and the Lavender.
.1. Sugar + Vanilla .2. Tea .3. Milk/Cream
 This would probably be delicious with any kind of tea you like. With or without lavender. Would probably be delicious with coffee as well!

What are your thoughts? Do you love or hate the Grey Family? Do you have a favorite tea? What combination do you want to try?!

Until next time!

*this doesn't mean I don't like coffee... because I love it and I drink it every day.
** or it really just tastes like hot tea-tasting milk)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dinosaur Onesies (part 2)

Here we are again, part 2. And I'm sorry (not) for the false advertising in the previous post. I realized last Thursday that I had another baby shower to attend and another white onesie. So I set out to create a photo tutorial for you. And good thing I did, because though I felt it was simpler, it seems to be more steps than the last one.

It turned out adorable, of course (who doesn't want their little baby to look like a mini dinosaur?? I would!) and I loved the way the spikes stood up more uniformly.

On to the tutorial, and good luck! I'll tell you now, the hardest part is the beginning and end of the final seam.

Materials and Supplies:

  • Sewing machine with desired thread color (I used white because I'm lazy and that was what was in the machine)
  • Sewing machine needle for knits (optional, but maybe cause less rips in the knit)
  • Fabric scissors and paper scissors (unless you like using your fabric scissors for paper, your choice, no judging... I think I actually used 4 different pairs of scissors for this project)
  • Small piece of cardboard
  • Tissue paper, pencil/pen, pins
  • Onesie (I a onesie for 3-6 months)
  • Thin fleece in desired color (I bought mine at walmart (barf), thin = less bulge on baby's back) (I bought a 1/4 yard, but you could probably get away with, like, 3 inches)
  • Straight edge (a yard stick worked well for me)
  1. Cut out a cardboard template for how big you want the spikes to be (include about 1/4" on all sides for the seams). Trace it onto tissue paper. Download my template pattern, or make your own. Mine measures 2.5" along the bottom and 2" on the sides)
  2. Cut out any number of pattern pieces from the tissue (I did 8)
  3. Pin pattern pieces to fleece.
  4. Cut out 18-20 (2 for each spike, 9 spikes fit on a 3-6 month onesie) pieces and stack in groups of 2, with right(the side you want to see in the end) sides together. I like to stack mine, alternating where the point is for easy transportation from workspace to sewing station.
  5. Move on over to your sewing machine and stitch along the 2 side edges of each triangle pair (not the bottom edge!). A quick tip if you don't know: sew all of them on one side in a chain fashion, snip apart and sew all on the other side... saves some time.
  6. Snip the top tip of each triangle off (it will form a better point once it's right-side out).
  7. Flip the triangles right-side out, using a pencil or scissors to gently push the tip the rest of the way out.
  8. Snip the corners sticking out.
  9. Flip the onesie inside out and find the halfway point in a few places, then draw a line down the middle from top to bottom using your straightedge and a pencil. (beware that the tag or size label may not be directly in the center)
  10. Starting an inch from the edge (don't cut through the seam/binding/whatever-it's-called-on-the-edge-of-the-garment), cut down your line until you are an inch from the other edge. Fold the onesie in half so that the cut is on the edge.
  11. Peel back the top layer of onesie fabric and carefully lay the spikes down, so that the point faces toward the inside of the fold.
  12.  (repeat) Line the unseamed edges of the spike with the cut edges of the onesie, fold the top layer back over and pin in place.
  13. Sew from bottom to top,  approximately 1/4 inch in. Do your best to taper the sewing off at the bottom and top so you close off the cut, but don't seam the edges. The snap is especially difficult to work around. Backstitch at both the beginning and the end.
  14. Make sure your fabric didn't fold over anywhere along the seam and fix as necessary. Optional: you can trim some of the excess fleece off after the seam is finished (a little less bulk on baby's back).
  15. Flip right-side out and admire your handiwork!
This is my cuteness :) check out that underbite
Join me again next week for something totally different! (probably food... and no dinosaurs)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dinosaur Onesies (part 1)

We are going to backtrack here a couple, er, months... allll the way to November.

ok, you caught me, I am not positive about the month, but it was somewhere around then! It might have been September...

Give me a break, ok.

I had a baby shower to attend and wanted something cute, diy, and simple. I had recently seen dinosaur hoodies all over pinterest (and loved them! also, I wanted a dino hoodie for Jack), so I thought, 'how hard can a dinosaur onesie be? (and I can test the different methods before I make Jack's!)' The answer is: not difficult at all!

However, you'll soon realize that I am very good at making things much more complicated than necessary (yes, for the fun of it... though I do kick myself, sometimes, for it). It's a family trait. You will see what I mean in a bit

I followed (if you can call it following) two different routes... and now that I think of it, I may have made up the 2nd version based on this picture.

But, here's the first one:

This one was based loosely off of this really good tutorial. And I apologize, because my tutorial will not even compare!

Things you need:
- sewing machine (and all the things that go with that: needle (regular needle should work, but I used a special needle for knits), thread, electricity, etc)
- tissue paper
- a small amount of fleece (the original tutorial uses felt)
- baby onesie
- embroidery floss
- embroidery needle

1. fold your tissue in half and cut a triangle on the crease (keep the fold intact), the size you want your spikes to be. unfold it to find... a diamond!

2. (I'm sorry there are no pictures) trace your diamonds onto the fleece and cut enough to line the spine of the onesie. I used 9 on a 3-6 month onesie.

3. draw a line (oops, forgot to mention you need a pencil and straight edge) where you want the spine to run (you can fold it in half side-to-side to find the middle).

4. line up and pin your diamonds on the line, from top to bottom. sew straight up the middle of the diamonds, using a zig zag stitch to allow the knit to stretch.

5. now, here is where things got a bit more complicated. since I didn't use felt or stabilizer, I had to figure out how to attach the edges so that... you know... it actually looked like a dino spine. so I hopped on the ever-so-trusty pinterest and searched for some nice embroidery stitch to finish off the edges (because I couldn't just use a regular blanket stitch, or sew them with a straight line on the sewing machine ... no, that would have been too easy and quick!

6. so I found this tutorial for an armenian edging stitch and spent way too long stitching along all 18 edges.

7. and since I seemed to think that I needed to spend MORE time on this onesie, I added some cute accents on the front. But let me tell you, steps 6 and 7 totally made this one! :) So much better than a straight stitch :)

Then, since I don't have a baby, I forced an unhappy Jack into it to model for me. Let me just melt your heart for a minute:

also, meet Jack!

So, I was happy with that one, but I didn't like how the spikes didn't all stand up very straight... also the stitching was a lot of work.

However, this post is longer than I expected, so stay tuned until next week for the 2nd tutorial. Again without step-by-step pictures.

See you next week!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Spark

I had a blog once. Just a life-update/journal/share-too-much-emotion-on-the-internet blog.

It died.

Now I’m on to new adventures in life: I take on too many projects. I experiment in the kitchen. I ignore everything to read a book. We are figuring out how to be homeowner’s and diy-ers. I got sucked into diy natural beauty. I like to do art. I have a habit of researching the crud out of random topics that come to mind… and then suddenly I haven’t done anything and it’s time to make supper...

I get distracted a lot. In that first paragraph, I visited 5 different websites… make that 6.

So, I thought it might be fun to catalog all of my projects, experiments, failures, fun, etc. Will it die?


Will everything be off-season by 3 months?

Maybe. We’ll have to get over the fact that I don’t often get things done quickly. But I have a backlog of photos and ideas, so maybe I can at least give you a regular posting.

For the last 4 months I've thought about starting this blog, but: what do I call it? what’s the logo? what’s it about? what’s the design? who’s my audience? where should I host it? oooo, what should be my special topics on designated days?

Then tonight, I realized all those things can be revamped, right now, I just need to see if I can sustain it. So quit thinking and just start already.

Perhaps that’s long enough for the start. Hello!

photo compliments of Ashley Konsdorf Photography

I’m Kelsie. Married to my Nebraska Farm Boy. Living in Indiana with our dog, (Pepper)Jack. Seeking a simple house and a simple life, full of experiments and adventures… and we've got a long way to go.

This blog is an attempt to become more fully alive; to find the spark of life within and draw it out so the light can shine farther.

The Nebraskan thinks I’m a crazy driver, but I hope you’ll join us on this adventure!

You are as beautiful as a thousand red birds,
may you find the courage to shimmer and pulse
and spark into your life.