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Usually I am of the school of “more is more” – I like things that toe the line of “too much.” Lately though, I’ve found myself drawn to pieces that are down right minimal. This weekend I found myself deep diving into the IKEA website, feeling the simplistic timeless Scandinavian design. The unifying quality of many of the pieces was the color scheme of black and bass. Clean, understated, but just a little dramatic.
- BEGÅVNING – I collect bell jars; I have them spread all across the house containing bits, bobs, and tiny treasures that I’ve discovered over the years. This particular specimen comes in two different sizes, and I feel like it will look lovely pretty much anywhere in my home.
- BRIMNES – My home office is in desperate need of additional storage. Right now I am using plastic storage bins and room organizers left over from my college years. A nice sturdy book case like this would look fantastic with some coordinating storage baskets, and I think it would be a much nicer alternative to my current situation.
- BOMARKEN – Much like the bell jars, I love a good glass case as much as the next treasure hunter. With the flat top of this piece, I’d be able to arrange things on top as well as within.
- BLOMNING & BLOMNING – Andy and I have a lot of tea, as in we could probably open our own tea shop. Sometimes the mixed and matched collection of bags, tins, and boxes can make organizing and storing our bounty quite difficult. A few of these little fellows would go a long way in fixing that problem. I just have to remember to label them before I throw the original packaging away.
- RANARP – One of the big purchases we made when we moved into our house was a king size heavy wood canopy bed. It takes up a great deal of our available floor space, and consequently the bedside tables we have are quite small. Too small for a traditional lamp and all of the other things that need to be there. A matching pair of these wall mounted lamps would look fantastic on either side of the bed and would solve our lack of additional lighting.
While you can still make IKEA purchases online or arrange for curbside pickup at your nearest store, I think I will probably wait until I can look everything over in store to make my final purchases. I like the pretties, but I think it’s better for us to err on the side of caution these days.
And as the dumpster fire that is 2020 burns on, we find another month has passed, and we are almost half way through the year. Here is what is going on in my life currently.
Making – Soap. As you read this, another Brambleberry shipment is making its way to my house, and I have so many new things I cannot wait to try out. My first two soap makes turned out pretty well all things considered, but I ready to have a decent stash of supplies and to make multiple batches back to back. I am hoping to use what I have learned to create some specialty bars for friends and family for upcoming birthdays and maybe even the holidays.
Wearing – “Real” clothes. I spent the first 2+ months of the pandemic in my faded old house clothes. I skipped almost everything in my normal routine save for showering regularly, and keeping my hair ultra purple. At first, it was nice; I reveled in not putting on makeup and worrying about what I looked like. Then it started to feel gross. I was clean, but I felt frumpy and blah, and I hated seeing myself in the mirror. Finally I decided enough was enough, and I started getting back into my normal routine. Not the whole thing, but showering as soon as I woke up, getting dressed, and throwing on a quick five minute face of make up. I may only be walking down the hallway to my office, but it has done a lot of help my spirits.
Smelling – Petrichor. Florida is getting into it summer weather pattern of afternoon showers. It’s hot and sunny enough that the “fresh after rain” smell is only around for about an hour before everything is dry again, but it’s nice enough that I try to stick my nose out the back door when I get the chance and take a deep breath of the fresh and new before getting back to work.
Remembering – My brother. He would have been 32 on June 18th this year. I know a lot of my family has the most trouble around the anniversary of his death, but for me, it is his birthday. I can’t help but think about everything that he has missed and wonder what things would be like if he were still here. I deeply mourn the loss of our chance to have had an adult sibling relationship. That time after you’re no longer fighting over what show to watch or who gets to ride in the front seat. Where you get to spend holidays together and roll your eyes at the weird things that your parents are doing. I think we would have had a lot of fun.
To-Do Listing – Projects for the two room makeovers I am planning in the next couple of months. Before the world exploded, I was working with a friend of mine from design school who has been doing visual design for stores like Saks and Macys for the last few years. Recently, she has been dipping her toe into interior design, and she was the perfect person to help me figure out how to take all of my ideas and translate them into a cohesive usable space. Lock down definitely put the kibosh on the project for the moment, but it did give me time to tackle my junk room (aka my home office). Literal days (weeks) later, I have a clean, well-organized space perfect for all the telecommuting I’ve been doing, but it also has allowed me to start thinking about what I really want this space to be. I think I have some really solid ideas, and I feel like I am almost to the point where I might be able to stop planning and start implementing. I’ve always built my style around what I already had on hand or what I could pick up inexpensively, and the idea of an intentional from the ground redesign is so very exciting.
What are your summer plans, and what is going on in your life currently?
If you had asked me a few years ago what I thought of when someone mentioned Bon Appetit, I would have said it was complicated foodie recipes for people who cared more about talking about food than they did actually eating food. Harsh, but for the longest time, it seemed so unapproachable and needlessly fussy. Then I started watching the YouTube videos being put out by the BA Test Kitchen and I had to admit I was wrong. Are there people there who take themselves a little too seriously? Absolutely, but there are plenty of others who genuinely enjoy food and are interested in exploring all that our current culinary renaissance has to offer.
This weekend I decided to dip my toe in the BA baking pool and try out a pretty straightforward cookie recipe that I’ve been eyeing for a while now. Miso-Almond Butter Cookies.
- 1¼ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup smooth almond butter
- ¼ cup miso
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or wafers (*see note)
- Flaky sea salt
- Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk flour and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until it foams, then browns, 5–6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and stir until well combined, about 1 minute. Add egg and continue to stir until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute longer. Add almond butter, miso, and vanilla and stir until well combined. Mix in dry ingredients, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until combined. *If you aren’t feeling the chocolate dip (instructions below), now is the time to stir in ½ cup chocolate chips. Let dough rest 10 minutes.
- Scoop 2-tablespoonfuls of dough and roll into a ball (you should have 16 balls). Arrange on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart. Make a crosshatch pattern with a fork across tops of dough (if fork sticks to dough, dip into water before continuing). Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until lightly browned and firm around the edges, 12–14 minutes. Let cool.
- Melt chocolate in a microwave in 20-second blasts, stirring in between, until completely smooth. Dip 1 side of each cookie into chocolate and return to baking sheets. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate hardens, about 2 hours. Sprinkle with sea salt.
I think I built these cookies up a little too much in my mind. I was certain that they were going to be unusual, but hands down the most incredible cookie I’ve ever tasted… but they turned out to be merely okay. Probably a little better than okay, but still, I was kind of disappointed.
They were unique though; I don’t think I’ve ever had a cookie that toys with the savory, sweet balance in quite the same way. The miso added an earthiness that worked really well with the almond butter. I expected the browned butter to play a stronger roll in the flavor profile, but I think it just brought out the depth of the miso flavor and added a little more richness to the cookie overall. I let the cookies cool overnight before dipping them in chocolate, and my personal opinion is that they are better without the chocolate. I would like to pair them with some really great vanilla ice cream and maybe turn the two into an ice cream sandwich. Andy, on the other hand, thought the chocolate was the perfect addition and was of the opinion that it “made the cookie.”
Overall I am pleased that I gave the recipe a try. It took away a little of the intimidation that I felt from the BA recipes, and although the cookies weren’t my favorite, it was really nice to experience something I’d never tried before. Maybe I’ll do a deep dive and come up with another cookie recipe I just have to try.
As vast as the YouTube library is, two months of quarintine is making me wonder if there are enough videos to see me through to the other side of this thing. Since I am fairly certain I am not the only one feeling this way, I wanted to share another of my YouTube Obsessions with you, just in case you were feeling starved for content.
Rachel Maksy, formerly the Pinup Companion, is a quirky filmmaker, storyteller, illustrator, cosplayer and proud pet mom. Her deep and abiding love for vintage fashion was the initial inspiration for her YouTube channel, but as she has progressed as an artist, her channel has evolved into a delightful refuge for those of us who like a little twist of something unexpected in our making, sewing, and general living. Maksy lets her geek flag fly in her videos in a way that makes the rest of us weirdos feel like we’re sitting across from a long lost friend, and one can’t help but feel a spark of inspiration flicker after watching her fight her way through the creative process to another wonderful idea realized.
One of the first videos I ever watched was her video on recreating the Book of the Dead from the movie The Mummy. I LOVED that movie when I was younger – hell, I love that movie now! And to watch the best prop in the movie slowly take shape from a cereal box, foam sheets, and craft paints was fantastic. I also liked that there wasn’t lots of hand waving and movie magic – the process was involved, time consuming, and at times, frustrating, but Maksy still managed to make it all look very do-able and keep her sense of humor along the way.
Another one of her videos that really got me was her attempt at recreating the elaborate hairstyles of the French Court during the time of Marie Antoniette (one of my favorite periods of historical dress and when the Sofia Coppola adaptation came out, I bought it immediately). I’ve always wanted to make/wear one of those wigs myself, and it was interesting to see exactly how much work it was going to be and some of the tricks I can use myself/pitfalls I can now avoid.
This channel isn’t all making and cosplaying – if you’ve ever even considered wanting to dress vintage, there is a wealth of knowledge to be found in these videos. Everything from tutorials for hair and make up to thrifting and how to get that vintage lewk when all you have available is modern clothing.
I also love how much the Maksy pets feature on the channel. While the kitty is sneaky sneaky and is only caught on camera on rare occasion, Frodo, Rachel’s faithful puppo, does his best to keep his fans happy and provide his human with constant love and support. Not to mention lots of wonderful outtakes at the end of the videos. And he protects her from the mailman as well as the UPS guy. He is best protector, and no one can perfectly time a squeak toy chomp or a pattern piece scatter quite the way he can.
Not that it’s necessary, but I will say that Maksy’s film school backgroud definitely elevates the quality of the videos she makes. Her look books are absolutely stunning, her vlogs are wonderfully composed, and her b roll footage is never dull. So if you find yourself intrigued, head on over to her YouTube page and get to watching. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
I know that the title is a mouthful, but it fits – these cookies are incredibly extra in all senses of the word. Inspired by the Milk Bar cookies created by the incomparable Christina Tosi, these cookies are chewy, melty, sweet, rich with a little salt and crunch. I will warn you – they’re a little more involved than your average cookie, but the results are well worth it. I like to whip up a batch of these when someone is having a bad day; they’re so indulgent and a tiny bit nostalgic that they have never failed to produce a smile in the recipient. I think they’re one of the best things I have made to date.
* 2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter (plus an extra 2 tblsps if needed)
*1 Cup Brown Sugar
*1 Cup Granulated Sugar
*1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
*1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
*1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
*2 Cups All Purpose Flour
*1 1/2 Tsp Salt
*2 Cups Toasted Frosted Flakes
*1 Cup Mini Marshmallows (I used Dandies)
*1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
*Smoked Sea Salt for Finishing
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F
2. Spread Frosted Flakes on a cookie sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes tossing occasionally. Set aside to cool.
3. Place 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium/medium high heat stirring occasionally. Once the butter has melted the mixture will start to bubble and foam, stir the butter gently and the butter fats will start to turn brown. Once the butter has browned to a dark gold or hazelnut color, remove immediately from the heat and transfer into a heat-safe bowl. If your butter reduced significantly during the browning process, add the additional two Tblsps of butter. Allow butter to cool to room temperature.
4. Once the butter has cooled, cream together both sugars and the browned butter on high for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
5. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
6. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
7. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix.
8. Fold in the toasted Frosted Flakes, Marshmallows and Chocolate chips.
9. Use a cookie scoop to place dough on a silicone mat lined cookies sheet (I did 6 cookies at a time since they spread) and at bake for 9-11 minutes. *You may have to adjust the time depending on the size of your cookie scoop.
10. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt as soon as you remove them from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.