let’s get crafty… DIY hairclips

hairclips final product

While my husband and I have been attending weddings like weekend warriors – it’s been difficult to justify experiments in the kitchen. Yes, I’m human and can only dance off so many calories (and those bridesmaid dresses are never forgiving are they!?) Truly, it’s a bit necessary give the baking and ice-cream trials a rest.

Combine the wedding eating and drinking extravaganza with the baby bonanza that is erupting among the other half of my friends/family and we have a necessary project. Yes folks, it’s summertime and therefore, appropriate to bring us all back to our summer camp days. Gather ’round the picnic table – we are about to get crafty.

I had an idea of what I wanted to make for all the sweet baby girls that are about to arrive into the world (hair-clips!!) but I didn’t have any of the items necessary. So, I strolled over to the local fabric store, Stitches. They have a fabulous assortment of supplies and I purchased a small amount of ribbons, hair-clips and a few add-ons for about $6. Yes, you read that correct. $6!!! When does anything (let alone anything for a baby girl) cost $6? Almost never.

supplies hairclip project

The rest was easy and fun. I decided to cozy up to our “crafts” table (the table that my husband used as a child to paint his model airplanes), in the event that the project became messy. I plugged in my cheap-o glue gun, found a pair of sharp scissors and got to work.

First, add a tiny dab of glue to the bottom of the tip of the hair-clip. Then, start to wrap the hair-clip with ribbon. Feel free to do a “practice wrap” before you commit to adding glue. Once you feel comfortable moving along, remember that it’s a good idea to add a bit of hot glue as you go. Stick to a system – ie. add a dab of glue on the bottom of the clip every time you wrap the ribbon around. This way the ribbon is secure along the metal clip. If you don’t add the hot glue as you go, the ribbon may slip and slide over time and the silver metal will be exposed.Collage 1 hairclipsCollage 2 hairclipsThat was easy, huh?

I’m pretty sure it took all of 5 minutes. So I made a second one. With pink, of course!

pink hairclipIt’s so simple (and cheap) and truly a thoughtful gift. As you know, I’m always a fan of a homemade gift. And I’m already dreaming up ideas for other barrettes and hairbands that would be super sweet. Big, poofy ribbon roses or sweet pink heart barrettes or we could go in an entirely different direction of whale ribbons for a preppy east coast nautical theme… the possibilities are endless!!!

Since I don’t have a little girl – I had my Lucy dog model the hair-clip. She stayed still just long enough for me to snap a picture. Pretty cute, huh?lucy modellucy modelI think so too!

Good luck and happy crafting!

XOXO, Em

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happy macaron day!!

macaronNot only is it the first day of spring but it’s also National Macaron Day. Does it get any better than this?! I think not. I have been waiting for this day to happen for weeks. If I could, I would jet-set to Paris and indulge in the very best macarons at Pierre Hermé. But seeing that it’s a Wednesday and I need to be at the office, I’m going to indulge at my desk.

If you haven’t been anticipating this magical day for weeks and you need to pick up a box of macarons, these Seattle bakeries have you covered!

Downtown / Pike Place Market: Le Panier
Ballard: Honoré Artisan Bakery
West Seattle: Bakery Nouveau
Madison Park: Belle Epicurean

Where will you go for yours?

Happy Spring and Happy Macaron Day!
XOXO, Em

march madness? starter madness!!!

main starter pictureMy New Year’s Resolution this year is to create a loaf of bread each month. This naturally resurfaced a long-time curiosity of creating a starter. I began my research and found the variations to be great. One recipe claimed their starter to be ready in just 3 days while another recipe said starters need 15 days to mature. Some starters used fruit while others did not. My research provided a decent amount of “how to” (even if it did vary) but much of the information was uber-scientific and didn’t provide pictures or further explanations of how to know if things were going right. I assumed that if I was still left with more questions than answers, other people probably felt similarly. I decided to keep a journal while I tended to my starter. Here is the result:

Starter Journal I’ve wanted to start a starter for a while and finally decided to just do it already. What’s the big deal, right? There are plenty of starter recipes out there on the web but I want to create my own concoction and see what happens. If this seems a bit cocky, you are right. But I’m not boasting that my starter will start. I’ve never done this before. This is science! I’ve read a few cook books and blogs to try to wrap my mind around the process. I thought about following the Bread Baker’s Guild Guidelines since it seems so darn official. In the end, my rebellious nature wins. I’ve decided to just wing it. Is that even possible in baking? We are going to find out.

Collage1Day 1) 7:15pm
Ingredients
1/2 cup organic Braeburn grated apple
1 and 1/2 cup flour
1 and 1/3 cup room temperature bottled water
1/2 tablespoon honey
Mix the ingredients in a stainless steel bowl. Place bowl on top of fridge with a piece of wax paper or parchment paper loosely on top of bowl. I’m keeping the mixture on top of the fridge for several reasons. One, it is out of range from my pup. Inquiring noses know no boundaries! Two, it’s a teeny bit warmer on the fridge. I need the mixture to rest in a temperature of about 71 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. And three, it’s out of the way.

Day 2) Resist all urges to check on my little starter. Starter must sleep and rest!

foamy starterfoamy starter with feederDay 3) Observations: Hmmm…. bubbling and foamy. It’s alive alright. But oh my stars does that smell horrible!? The most awful and irrational thoughts cross my mind. What if I die of botulism? How long can I hold my breath for? Is it supposed to smell this rancid? I’m going to be sick from this stench! Why did Lucy (my dog) leave the kitchen? Does she know this thing is lethal? Should I really be feeding this monster?? Yes, we need to feed the beast. Our daily feeder is a mixture of 1 cup flour and 1 cup room temperature filtered or bottled water. First things first… I need to whisk the “mother starter” so that the watery gross mixture looks somewhat normal. Second, I need to mix the flour and water mixture (the feeder) in a separate bowl. The last step is to add the feeder to the mother starter. The good news? The feeder dilutes the mother starter a little and absorbs some of the rancid smell. Now I let it sit for another day.

mother starter with liquid separationDay 4) I’m still observing a weird separation of liquid layer on top of mixture and it smells fierce. Now I need to reduce the starter by half. Using a food scale, measure your mother starter. Discard half of the mixture. Feed the remaining half of the mother starter with the daily feeder mixture (one cup flour and one cup room temp water). Mix and let it sit for 2-3 hours. Cover with loose wax paper and put in fridge. Note: half of my starter is about 13.8 ounces (not including the bowl).

Day 5) Wine at happy hour turned into cocktails and then into a very later dinner. Suddenly, it’s 11pm and my starter hasn’t been fed. Don’t judge me! Anyway I did the routine… reduce by 1/2 and feed. The starter still needs to sit out for a few hours so I set my alarm to wake up and put it in the fridge. Gosh this thing is needy!

Day 6) Hmmm. I’m still observing the watery layer on top. Is my starter ever going to start? And how will I know if it does? Am I just wasting flour and time? On a positive note, I think the grated apple has finally disintegrated! Yay, for one small victory!

Day 7) Normal feeding.

Day 8) The starter seems to be coming together a bit. Very exciting. I feel like we have turned a corner. The watery layer on top is much reduced. Hooray!

Day 9) Disaster has struck in my kitchen. Part of my starter is frozen. This is terrible and I’m not sure what happened to the fridge. It’s not frozen solid, just part of the top. I’m going to separate it out. Will report back.
Okay. I’m back. I was able to weigh out about 13.6 ounces of non frozen starter so I’m going to use it. It’s been fed and needs to sit out for 2 hours. After all my hard work I hope it can be saved.

Day 10… Day 11… Normal feedings. Drama free, thank goodness.

Day 12) The daily feedings are going well. Perhaps it’s recovered from the day 9 disaster.

Day 13… Day 14… Normal feedings.

final starterDay 15) This is the final daily feeding for the mother starter. I tested the pH levels and on the acidic scale level it’s about a 4 or 4.5 which is right where it should be. I’ve read that at this point I can cut back the feedings to once a week. Is it possible that I’ve created a wild dough? I’ll test it out and let you know!

So there you have it – the ramblings of a woman on a mission to create wild dough. The process certainly had it’s highs and lows. I’m not even sure if the starter will start but I do have hope. After the diligence of daily feedings I’m going to keep my mother starter in the fridge to be dormant for a few days. I think I need a break from it. When I’m ready to use the starter, it will need to be reactivated and I’ll explain that process in another post. I’ll keep you posted for my first trial of sour dough loaves. Have a great week!

XOXO, Em

time for making (and eating) crêpes!

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You might not be aware but today is the French national crêpes day, otherwise known as Chandeleur (Candlemas). It happens that I just took a crêpes-making class at Paris Eastside and subsequently interviewed Muriel Foucher for the Seattle Globalist. If you want to learn the secret for a perfectly delicate crêpe have a look at this article. You will be surprised by how easy it is to make.

Have a great weekend! Eat lots of crêpes and if you happen to have a sugar lemon one, think of us, it’s one of our favorites!

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I was so happy to see that they sell Fraises Tagada… Those little pink candies are very popular in France and among my favorites.

recipe for deux dilettantes

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It only takes few ingredients to start a blog but under its simple façade it requires a great deal of discipline and dedication. The result might not quite meet your expectations right away but be assured that the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it (at least that’s what we were told). Remember to keep it light and laugh often!

Makes 1 blog

Ingredients

  • 2 young women ready to tackle new challenges
  • a dash of determination
  • a sprinkle of curiosity
  • a heap of love
  • 1 user-friendly (for dummies!) content management system
  • endless pots of tea

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Combine two women transplanted to Seattle, make them realize their common interests, let it sit for a while…

After a while (can vary) women should discuss their desire to start a blog and realize they can be a good team. Although they’re not professional, determined as they are, they know they can create quality content.

Add a sprinkle of curiosity for their surroundings… Mix slowly while pouring in enormous amounts of love. Let it simmer.

In the meantime, push them to acknowledge their interest for geekery and discover WordPress. Bring it to a roaring boil. While waiting, consume endless cups of green tea (one of our faves) and try not to throw your computer out of the window!

Enjoy warm or cold, at any time of the day or night!

For best results, get the support of your family and friends and keep the candy jar not too far away!

Bee & Em