Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Woodland Themed Baby Shower


  
One of my good friends, Holly, recently gave birth to a beautiful and perfect little girl named Penelope Jones (Penny for short). Uhm - how adorable is that name?

A few weeks before her labor, two other ladies and I threw Holly and her husband, Ollie (again, cuteness abound with the names) a baby shower. Since they were planning a woodland theme for the nursery, we decided to carry that theme into the shower as well. Here are some of the details that I loved the most. 


This fabric bunting was hung all around and I think it added so much to the space


EASY D.I.Y. IDEA: To make these white food stands, I simply went to Goodwill and found some clear plates and glass candle sticks. Then I super-glued them together (with a food safe glue) and once they were dry, spray painted them white. Easy, cheap and so cute.

Savory Cheddar Biscotti
 Luckily for us, one of the girls helping us plan the shower makes a living as a set dresser and model maker in stop-motion films. Basically, that means the girl knows how to make stuff, and she seriously rocked it on this one. Having a bunch of highly-trained creative types around is fabulous, let me tell you.  


EASY D.I.Y. Idea: See the little stump next to the mushrooms? That is made out of a tin can! A wood grain style fabric was wrapped around the base and hot glued on. Then, for the top, use your sewing machine or hand-stitch a circular pattern, cut the fabric to size, and glue on, making sure all of the edges are tucked under.

 

This was not what one would think of as a typical baby shower. It included men and women, there were no cheesy games and no sitting in a circle opening presents. Instead, we just made a TON of yummy food, filled some vintage coolers with beer, soda and wine and spent a lovely afternoon catching up with one another. 

I found these bird nests 75% off at one of my favorite home decor stores, which is usually way out of my budget. They were perfect!

I made a few terrariums using some old glass jars I had leftover from my wedding. As for the bits inside, I found the moss at a craft store, the pine cones and rocks from outside my house and then Etsy supplied the rest (little red and white mushrooms, a ceramic deer and fuzzy green rocks.) The large green birds are from save-on-crafts.com (which is an amazing website that I highly recommend).
Roasted Chickpeas with Parmesan Cheese

 I think if I am ever involved in planning another shower, I may go this route again as it was much more relaxed and I think everyone had a nice time. Congrats to Holly, Ollie and little Penny - we are so excited for you all!


Monday, May 28, 2012

How To Soften Hard Brown Sugar

 

A few months ago I decided to splurge on some lovely, dark, organic brown sugar. It was more than I would usually spend on any baking item, but it looked so nice I had to try it. Working with the sugar itself was a treat for any baker; it was rich, moist and very easy to work with. 

About a month later I was tasked with baking some cookies for a party and when I went to reach for my posh brown sugar, I found it to be very hard and impossible to work with. Determined to not just throw it away, I used a trick that I learned long ago and it worked like a charm.  




Do:

Place your hardened brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl. In another smaller bowl (I just used a small ramekin) fill about half way with water. 

Put both bowl in your microwave, with the smaller water bowl right next to the larger brown sugar bowl. 

Microwave in 30 - 45 second intervals until the brown sugar is soft enough that you can break it apart. Continue to microwave until it is at your desired level of softness, but be careful not to go too long and burn the sugar. To soften the chunk you see in the photos, I did about 6 30-second intervals.  



Before you know it, you are ready to get baking. I hope this helps!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Farmhouse Details

Right now I am staying at my husband's Mum's and Step-Dad's old farmhouse in central England, and the other day I decided to walk around and take a few pictures. There is so much to discover here. 


Old rusty gate

Original stable door

Amazing original lock

Rusty old pot


Antique washing machine. Can you imagine having to use this?

Friday, May 25, 2012

English Digestive Biscuits

Since I am currently on a lovely extended vacation in England, I thought it appropriate to share a recipe I recently tried to make some digestive biscuits. 

Freshly baked digestive biscuit with brie cheese

What is a digestive biscuit?  It is a semi-sweet biscuit (cookie) that originated in England from around the mid-1800s. They are often enjoyed with tea or coffee (try dunking it in your tea/coffee and eating it right away!) but also taste amazing smeared with brie cheese and jam or alongside a good, red wine. For an added treat, you can brush them with melted milk or dark chocolate. The most popular store-bought brand of these is "McVitie's," which you can find in the U.S. at Cost Plus World Market, or a variety of international stores. Or - you can make your own (which I always prefer).

When I first learned of these, I was a bit weirded out by the word 'digestive' in something that was supposed to be scrumptious, but please don't let the name put you off. According to Wikipedia, "The name "digestive" derived from the belief that they had antacid properties due to the use of sodium bicarbonate when they were first developed." See? Nothing to be scared of. 

The following recipe creates a really nice dough that is easy to work with and results in a tasty, dense digestive. 

Yields 12 Servings

Need

3/4 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp rolled oats
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp milk

Do

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets (or use a silicone mat like a Silpat, which will rock your baking world). 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the oatmeal. Cream together the butter and the sugar and add to mixture. Stir in the milk until mixture forms a thick paste.

Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Roll out dough to approximately 1/8" thickness. Cut into rounds with cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Transfer to cookie sheets and prick with a fork.  

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden. Let cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight tin.  

 
Good, sturdy dough
 
I used a cutter with a fluted edge, but you could use the top of a glass if needed. 
 
All cut and ready to bake

The finished product. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The New Burlap and Honey

About 3 months ago, I sat staring at my neglected blog thinking, "I don't feel connected to this anymore."

When I started my blog, I was going through a very transitional time. I was working a temp job (while waiting for ParaNorman to start). Dan and I were living 6,000 miles apart as we waited for the immigration peeps to grant him a greencard and finances were tight as we saved to pay the immigration fees and finance our wedding. The title "Wingin' It..." felt appropriate because that was what I was doing every second.

Fast forward to now and my life is much more settled. Dan has his greencard, we own our own home, we both have stable jobs at a film studio and have actually managed to save a bit of cash. Life feels secure and more in control. So, after a lot of thought, it became apparent that "Wingin' It" had to go.

Burlap and Honey. What in tarnation does that mean? In my mind, it stands for the hobbies that I have really come to love over the last couple of years. 'Burlap' represents my love of home decor, antique/vintage finds and using a little innovation and elbow grease to turn something plain and rustic into something beautiful. 'Honey' represents my adoration of cooking, baking and finding beauty in unexpected places. It is a name that feels right to me and something I am really excited about.

On Burlap and Honey, I plan on incorporating much more of the following:

I am going into this blog with much more of a plan than I did my last one, and I cannot wait to start sharing some of my ideas. Thanks again for sticking with me! 

'Till next time...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hi There...I'm Back

Hi friends. It's been awhile, eh? The last day I posted was Thursday September 22, 2011. That is 242 days ago. Seems like a long time, but in my mind, it has actually gone very quickly.

As you can see, there have been some changes to my blog, which was previously called, "Wingin' It - Tales of a Girl's Attempts at Everything." I felt like that title no longer meshed with what I wanted my blog to be and after a lot of thought, decided to change it. So, welcome to my new blog: Burlap and Honey. I have a lot of ideas for this blog, that have been building over the last year, and I am so excited to share them. However, before I delve into my plans for the future, let me give you a little update about what I have been doing.

It wasn't a conscious decision to take a break from blogging - it just kind of happened and I can sum up what I have been up to very easily for you:


From August 2010 - April 2012, my husband, Dan, and I were living and breathing working on this film (which will be in theaters August 12th - shameless plug). Back in September, the hours really picked up and we were regularly spending around 65 to 70 hours per week in the studio. With regular work hours like that, you simply have to strip away some of your other obligations and hobbies or you will totally lose your mind; my blog was one of the casualties.

My friend Holly, who is also a colleague, likes to call this time of craziness as "G.U.L.P." - the Giving Up Life Plan. It sounds more dire than it is. It basically means the acceptance of the fact that, until the film is done, you don't get to have a life. Once you accept G.U.L.P. into your life, it is much easier to get through the day. All expectations beyond the walls of the film set just simply don't have a place in your life, and that is okay. With all of that said, we are so proud of this film and cannot wait for it to be shared with the world.

As of the past couple of weeks, our obligations on the film have ceased and we are slowly coming back to life. Dan and I are very fortunate to have about 12 weeks off before we begin work on our next feature, and are spending most of it abroad. I am currently typing this from England, where we are having an extended vacation catching up with Dan's friends and family. We also plan on exploring Europe and NYC while away. It is a much needed and appreciated chance to enjoy life. Perhaps you could call it "R.O.L.P." - the Rediscovering Our Lives Plan. 

I love R.O.L.P. It is a lot of fun.

So, there it is. Not very exciting or enthralling - just real life at it's best. My next post will outline some of my hopes for Burlap and Honey, and why I chose this new title but, for the time being, I will leave it at that. To those of you who are still here, thanks for sticking with me, and to any newbies, welcome.

It's good to be back. 
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