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12/11/2017

DIY Christmas Wreath

12/11/2017 0 Comments

I meant to write this post a while ago, but man December is flying by! Christmas is two weeks away!

Well maybe you don't have a Christmas wreath up yet, or maybe this wreath will inspire you to make another wreath. That's what happened with me. I saw a fall wreath and I liked it, so I said I want to do something like that for Christmas.

I dismantled {THIS} wreath not too long ago and decided that I would reuse the rope wrapped wreath. I also decided that I would repurpose it as my Christmas wreath. Of course, I had no plan beyond that at the time.

Then while perusing Michael's app on my phone for ideas, I came across this fall wreath and I was smitten.
{Project Page}

So the first order of business was to actually get the supplies, so I took Small Fry out with me to Michael's because I had a 20% off your total purchase coupon and as luck would have it, Christmas picks were the doorbuster deal that day and they were 60% off! Score!

Then we spent the next 45 minutes or so looking at the same picks and decorations until we both agreed on something. I wanted something a little rustic and simple. Small Fry had his own ideas. Somehow we met in the middle.

So once we got home, all of the decorations sat until after Thanksgiving. I was really on the ball that way. So once I finally got around to making the wreath, I was on the phone with my sister and she got to help me lay everything out.

Thank goodness for technology. I'm talking to her on the phone and sending her pictures of the progress for her feedback. Teamwork!

I started with the rope wreath that I'd taken apart and then followed the directions for the wreath on the project page, and the wreath slowly came together.



I think the whole time I said I wasn't sure about the icy branch garland, but in the end, I'm glad Dana talked me into it.



Small Fry insisted on the star, and I wanted the owl. I love them both and it's simplistic and rustic enough for me.


I really love that owl!

Thanks so much for stopping by!


12/08/2017

Pattern Review - Simplicity 8448

12/08/2017 0 Comments

When we got the invitation to the hubs' Christmas party, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear. I'd seen this pattern while looking for Gold Cup patterns, and figured it was time that I made myself another sheath dress. 

I generally dislike sheath dresses, but because I always have to alter them since I am not a one-size-fits-all girl. This pattern was no different and definitely the most difficult dress I have ever made. The sheer number of darts in this pattern was enough to make me groan, but then there was all the rest of it. Once you got past the bust instructions the dress went together just like any other dress, but that bust section. I'm still recovering from it. 

It's not even that the bust is inherently hard, but with the straps crossing over like they do, it just means you're finagling a straight and flat piece of fabric around an area that is decidedly not straight or flat. I think there were 8 darts in the bust area alone. 

The pattern's guide sheet does a good job of explaining everything and showing you how to construct it all, which is a bonus. Like I said above, once you get past the bust construction the dress goes together like any other. The pattern calls for a standard zipper, I decided to use an invisible zipper because I couldn't find a standard zipper that matched my fabric. Like the model on the pattern, I went with a magenta dupioni although mine was a polyester dupioni. Thank goodness for coupons at Jo-Ann's. 

Before I could even cut out the dress, I had to completely remake three of the pattern pieces. Thank goodness for reference lines. And French curves. Thank you really to all of my rulers - without you this dress never would have fit. Remaking the pattern pieces was fairly straightforward if you take into account that only one piece had all of the reference lines marked. So simple. It wasn't. I'm lying. I'm so glad I took a class on making your own patterns. If I didn't have that knowledge then I'd have been lost. 

Fitting the dress required help and that came in the form of my mom coming over and helping me place the straps. This was, of course, after I'd assembled most of the dress. I wish there'd been a good point during the construction of the front to do a fitting, but there just wasn't. By the time you get to the point where you're attaching the back, the dress is almost done. By the time we actually fitted the dress, it looked like I'd been poured into it. You could see everything. I was already wearing some body armor (read form sculpting undergarments), and we decided that taking out one set of darts in the back would help the overall fit of the dress. Mom was right on that call, and taking out the smaller set of darts in the back helped the dress loosen up a bit. She also got the straps placed and only stabbed me once. Yay Mom! 

The only change I'd make to this pattern is making it a fully lined dress. It would require making 3 new pattern pieces to fit below the facings and you would have to remember to add seam allowances to the bottom of the facings, but I think the lay of the dress over your person would be dramatically improved as the dress only allows for a 1-1/2" of ease.  

This dress is not for the faint of heart, and really should only be tackled by experienced sewers. 


So I paired this dress with my favorite Jessica Simpson pumps. They're several years old, but oh so fun. I also nabbed some clearance finds at Charming Charlie. The earrings and the headband are from Charlie's. The headband was originally a choker, but it matched my stuff perfectly so I removed the clasp and chain from the back, then used some small black hair ties and whipped myself up a headband. I've had the brooch for some time now, and forget where it's from, but I think the whole outfit came together wonderfully, and I especially love my new lipstick. Rebel Pink by Maybelline. 

I really need to get better at taking full-length pictures of myself, but I really can't end the post without sharing this fun goof. Please pay no mind to the stacks of laundry in my room. I promise I folded them all and put them away on Monday. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! 



11/13/2017

The Long and Short of Run the Parks 10k!

11/13/2017 0 Comments

Well, my official 2017 race season has come to an end, and it was perfect if I do say so myself.

Sunday was Run the Parks 10k put on by PR Racing, and as expected it was everything I wanted it to be. It was rainy (drizzly?) and cool, but perfect.

There was an 80-minute time limit, which I was nervous about because my foot is still acting up, but getting better, and really my times haven't been fast.

The Prince William Half was run at a 12:36 pace, which I was and am still quite pleased with, but that was too slow for an 80-minute time limit for the 10K.

The last couple of runs I've had have been ~12:20 m:m, which is also not terrible, but that didn't stop me from fretting.

So the hubs and the littles decided to join me at the race, and I was a little nervous because of the weather and the kids, but it all turned out great. They visited some monuments while I was running, but they did see me off!

Apparently, I was concentrating on something at the start of the race, because that is some fierce resting bitch face.


The race was gorgeous like always, the rain added a nice bit of solemnity to the course, and the leaves were in full color. You could barely see across the river, but you could hear the planes taking off from Reagan. It was peaceful, and there is something to be said to be running at the back of the pack. It's not crowded. 

The leader of the race passed me about a mile and a half in. He was hauling, and I cheered all of the leaders on! 

My foot was doing ok, not great, but not bad. I was just enjoying being out on Haines' Point. I tried calling my sister, but she was sleeping. *rolls eyes* 

I listened to my music until the halfway point. I got water, and then made the turn to head on back. My foot did not like the turn. Not. At. All. 

So then I called Dana again and this time woke her up. She could chat with me for the last half of the race. She and I nattered on about this and that, and then I kept hearing water running or lapping, and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Turns out the Potomac was running over the shore of the point. I mention this to Dae, and she said that she had heard the water too, which tells you how loud it was, or how good my mic is. The rest of the race was low key, peaceful, and beautiful. The perfect fall run. 

Then I got to about a mile from the finish and there was the photographer so how could I not pose? The photographer even asked if that was the pose I wanted, and I very enthusiastically said I did! 


Dana stayed on the line until I crossed the finish line. She cheered me on as I started increasing my speed towards the end. My crew was just on the other side of the finish line, and Dana cheering in my ear. There really wasn't a better finish to be had. I picked up the pace and finished nice and strong. My official finish time was 1:16:39, right on pace for where I've been running. 

During the race, the hubs took the littles around to the various monuments, and they got to take in some of the sights. I was not the least bit surprised when my jacket was returned to me with wet sleeves. 

 

As usual, I highly recommend this race not only for its scenery, but it's well run and on the smaller side. 

Thanks so much for reading!

11/08/2017

Derby Worthy Cowboy Hat

11/08/2017 0 Comments

When the County Fair theme was decided on for Gold Cup, I knew that I wanted to make a Derby-inspired cowboy hat.

The first step was to find a cowboy hat that wasn't too expensive, in case I screwed it up. Amazon to the rescue! I found this hat {HERE} and it was perfect.
So after ordering the hat, it was time to take advantage of the massive sale at Michael's. All of their fall foliage was 70% off! Sweet! Now, what to do?

I turned to the internet and did some searches, but a lot of the derby hat styles are similar. I wanted something a little fun, but still nice looking. Etsy ended up being a great source of inspiration.

This hat, in particular, I really loved.
Day of the Dead Mini Top Hat from Little Miss Hattitude
 I love how colorful and fun this hat is, and so with this inspiration knocking around my head, I bought a bunch of stuff from Michael's. I hoped that I would throw everything I'd bought at it and something would stick.

I ended up spending about ~$40 on the supplies for the hat, and thankfully everything I bought made the cut. I had one golden fern bunch, a variegated green daisy bunch, a large purple peony bunch, a feather pick, 2 bundles of pretty teal/green feathers, and a whole bunch of hope. I managed to find the balsa wood horseshoes at Jo-Ann's in Culpeper.

I separated all of the fern leaves and started at the back of my hat. I wanted to great the look of a plume of feathers, but with ferns, so I created a waterfall effect of ferns by placing the shortest ferns at the base of the back of the hat, right against the brim and working towards the crown of the hat, using the longest ferns at the very top. I shaped each of the leaves to gently curve down. There may have been some glue gun burns and I may have glued one or two of my fingers to my hat.

So after getting my waterfall of ferns attached it was time to start with the purple peonies. I placed a row of peonies along the brim of the hat, forming a U-shape around the sides and back of the hat, and then I added a few more peonies to the left side of the hat, to create a nice asymmetrical look. I added a few up the crown of the hat on this side for more interest. Then I went back and filled in with the daisies. I created a small crown of daisies at the back of the crown, also hiding the base of the ferns a bit, and filling in where I thought there were holes. The feathers were next. I placed the pick of feathers towards the front of the hat to accent where the horseshoes were going to go, and then I gently glued each of the individual feathers into the fern waterfall, adding color, texture, and interest.

The final step of the hat was to add the horseshoes after my eldest and I had fun coloring them with some metallic wax, I glued them a little off kilter to each other. I was a little inspired by the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.

So that's how my hat came to be, and this little dear won best "Race-Inspired Hat" in the hat contest! Yay!


11/06/2017

Pattern Review - Butterick 6380

11/06/2017 0 Comments
A post shared by Northern Virginia Magazine (@northernvirginiamag) on

Hello all! Welcome to another pattern review. We have officially entered the season of sewing. Between Gold Cup, Christmas, and gifts there will be some sewing happening. So today I'm going to be reviewing another Pattern by Gertie.


Gold Cup was at the end of October, and I needed an outfit that would be versatile enough for the ever-changing weather. Our crew decided on doing a County Fair theme for our tailgate, and I instantly knew what I wanted to do. With October's mercurial weather, I knew I needed a dress that would pair well with a jean jacket, cowboy boots, and hat. I also knew that a 50's inspired frock would be just the ticket. Oh, and what is a county fair without eyelet? I found a gorgeous kelly green with a modern circle pattern at Jo-Ann's. Thank you 50% off coupons.

I actually had to decide between two of Gertie's patterns, but this one won out because of the sleeves and the fact that it was already designed to be fully lined.

Before Alterations
The dress is fairly straightforward, although the neckline did prove to be a bit of a pain because of the point,  but nothing I hadn't dealt with before. I did alter how the zipper was put in because I prefer invisible zippers as opposed to traditional zippers, but installing the invisible zipper was easy because I attached the zipper before sewing up the back seam. Easy peasy. I also went a step further, in order to avoid hand stitching, which we all know I hate, by treating the zipper as a trim and stitching inside the seam allowance to attach and finish the lining opening in the back. The technique produces a nicely finished interior with no exposed seam allowances and no hand stitching! While this technique is not difficult, if you mess it up then it would be noticeable.

Final Outfit
When I first got the dress finished enough to try on, I was less than impressed with how much room I had in the waist. I did make the pattern according to my measurements but could've gone a size smaller in the waist. I ended up having to take in 3" from the underarm seam to the waist seam. My French curve helped greatly with this. I positioned the curve a finger's width below the underarm seam and then lined it up with the mark for how deep I needed to take it in, and then back to the waist seam. I could've gone 4" taken in, but 3" was that much more comfortable. 4" would've meant not overeating and drinking and no slouching! Not that I did slouch because that hurts my back.

So after I got all of my alterations done, I was more than impressed with my creation, not to mention it looked pretty fabulous with my boots and jacket. Thank you Target! The boots are several years old and the jacket was on clearance in the days leading up to Gold Cup.

I would say this pattern would be ideal for an intermediate sewer, maybe someone who has mastered the basics of sewing and is looking for something just a bit more difficult. The pattern sews up very quickly, and the guide sheet gives very good direction. Make sure you get all of the pattern markings transferred though. There are a lot!

I paired my outfit with navy blue jewelry from Charming Charlie's, who was running a BOGO sale on their clearance items. Score again!

Then there was the hat. The hat is going to get its own post. Look for it in the next few days!


10/12/2017

The Long & Short of the Prince William Half

10/12/2017 0 Comments
October 1st was undeniably one of the greatest days this month. I mean, I know we're all of 2 weeks into the month, but it really was a day to remember.

Why do you ask? Well because that's when the 2nd running of the Prince William Half occurred.

I had no/low expectations of myself at this race. Before anyone starts spouting inspirational dribble about how I should be proud and yadda yadda yadda, I went into this race with the only expectation of finishing it and fully enjoying the splendor that is the Manassas Battlefield.

There is something to be said for going into a race with such a mindset. I enjoyed myself. Really enjoyed myself. I saw friends, cheered people on, got swept up in the beauty of the rolling fields, and just flat out enjoyed myself over those 13.1 miles. I ran those miles in a state of awe, wonder, happiness, and gratefulness. Most importantly, I trusted in myself. I trusted in the work I had put in.

So race day started off cold. Like 46 degrees cold. What?!?! Fall showed up in a big way. This was a topic of discussion in our MRTT group. What to wear!?! So I settled on my long sleeve MRTT shirt, a pair of capris (knee pants on me), and gloves. Two layers of gloves. I had my favorite oatmeal for breakfast, and made sure I had everything with me, including my bib! I didn't forget my bib this year! I'm already winning!


On the way to Jiffy Lube, I get to drive part of the course and see the Stonewall Jackson Fire Dept. out with their ladder truck and an enormous American flag hanging from the ladder. I did get a little teary. So once in the parking lot at Jiffy Lube, it was really just a hurry up and wait. I met up with friends, we took the huge MRTT picture, and then we wandered over to the chute for the start of the race.

I positioned myself at the very back of the corrals, back with the 3:30 folks. I had no expectations, and pretty quickly I moved up past the 3:00 pace group and as we moved out onto the roads, I just enjoyed the marching bands and cheerleading squad that was out on University Blvd. Pass the fire truck again, and then past my high school's drum band. Drums and races, they're just two of my favorite things. Having your feet fall at the same time as the beat is something amazing, and being able to feel those beats makes it all the better.

So then it was onto 29 for the bulk of the race, and I passed the 2:45 pace group. What?! Well, we'll see if that holds. I was feeling really good. Cold, but good. My hands were still cold, but the rest of me was comfortable. I look over towards the battlefield and the sun is hitting the dying grass in a way that makes it look like sugar was sprinkled over the entire field. It's so gorgeous. I take a nice deep breath. The crisp air feels amazing.

Before I know it we're about to turn up New York Ave., towards the monuments, and here is where I start to see my friends. First up is a schoolmate that I've known from elementary days, she's with the 2:15 group and looks amazing. Next is my neighbor and fellow MRTT'er, she's so energetic. Then I pass another fellow MRTT'er, and finally, it's my time to go up around the loop and work my way back down the hill. Then back out to 29 towards Stone House. I pass all the same girls, except this time I see my most frequent MRTT running partner, and another MRTT'er that's moved back to the area. Seeing them along the course really helps motivate me. I want to see them again, and I start figuring out the next spot that I'm likely to pass them.

Before I pass all of them again, my watch goes off. 5 miles in under an hour. What!?! I didn't think I was doing that well, but that's awesome. I'm also feeling pretty good. Those 5 miles flew by, and now we're running back up 29.

I did break the cardinal rule of racing though. I wore a brand new bra, which was awesome by the way, and I tried new nutrition. Luckily, everything worked out. The bra didn't chafe and I saved $6 on it because Target was having a sale. I've been mulling over changing my fuel during long runs because the Gatorade chews I've been using have started upsetting my stomach. Always a good thing while running long distances with no bathroom in sight. So I tried some Gu, and I really liked the first one. It was Carmel Macchiato which is my hubs favorite Starbucks order, so that made me think of him, and then running those hills that were coming weren't so bad. The second Gu I had was not as nice, and I did not finish it. I shouldn't be surprised because I do not like berry flavors, and it was Triple Berry. Ok, back to the recap.

I see all of my girls again after turning up the road headed towards Rock Fight. Rock Fight is my favorite section of the battlefield, but it did slow a lot of folks because it's all hills. Lots of small little hills with bigger hills at either end. Luckily, if you train on this stretch of the trail, the road follows the trail, so I was used to these hills. It made it easier to encourage my fellow racers.

So after we're back on 29 we're at 8 miles. What?!?! That's awesome. What's even better is that a fellow MRTT'er caught up with me and she and I were able to catch up.

We ran the next few miles together until she left me around mile 12. It was so great to see her, and it is a little amusing that we had such a good conversation in the middle of a race. All of the talking on the phone with my sister and my mom really paid off during training. :)


So now that I'm back on University I was looking forward to seeing the school bands and they really did bolster me. Then seeing the 12:45 pacer come up from behind me and pace me for a bit really helped kick my butt into a slightly higher gear. Not too much, I was still a mile from being done, and by this point, my heel was complaining, a little, and I was just generally tired. I know to hold back, because not a sprinter. So I pace the 12:45 for a bit, and we do-si-do a bit.

As we turn back up the road towards Jiffy Lube, I'm really starting to get warm. The sun was finally up, and the chill was leaving. My gloves didn't feel so nice now, but I knew my family was going to be there waiting for me, so I kept my eyeballs peeled. I finally saw them under a tree, playing happily. I think I smiled, I don't really remember, but I do remember giving them all high fives and speaking. I don't remember what I said, but the next thing I knew was my Small Fry coming up behind me running his little butt off. I think I challenged him to a race, and don't you know that little boy ate up the 100 or so feet between us. I couldn't let that stand! So I kicked it up a notch. Well, I kicked it up a lot, and it's all his fault. I hit 6:58 m:m for the last bit of the race. I was going to throw up. I ran 13 miles and then some and then decided that I wasn't going to disappoint my boy, so I raced him. It was the best, most proudest moment of the race for me.


After walking back down the chute, getting a banana, a granola something, water, and a vitamin drink, my crew met me at the entrance to the after race festival. Where I promptly gave my granola to Small Fry, the rest of my uneaten banana and water to Baby Girl, and my food tickets to the Big Guy. Luckily, someone who wasn't going to use their food and drink tickets gave us theirs so I was also able to get a smoothie, that I didn't like, and a beer for the hubs. Everyone wins until I wanted to snap a picture. Small Fry took exception to it.


He did come around though and was delighted when we celebrated with Duck Donuts.

I was pretty happy with Duck Donuts too. I was also pretty happy with my 2:44:36 finish time. I beat the 2:45 time!

So there's the recap, the race is awesome, the organizers are the best, and you really need to add this race to the roster. Thanks so much for reading!

10/06/2017

Pattern Review - McCall's M7431

10/06/2017 0 Comments

Ok, it's truth time. Who has bought fabric and a pattern with the intention of getting it made within the month and then it sits around your house for a year?

Fess up. We all have. I certainly have. This is the case with this particular pattern. Part of the delay was also nailing down which view I wanted to make, but really that was only a small part of it.

I was just lazy, but then when your anniversary rolls around and you want to wear something snazzy and new for the husband, guess who digs through her stash and finds the year-old project? Me!

This pattern goes together so easily. There are a few options to choose from, and you can really mix and match the elements that you like. I decided that the dress the model was wearing was the one I was finally going to decide on.

It helps that the Boho look is back, and I was feeling particularly spunky because I have a great pair of stacked lace-up heels that don't hurt my feet, and that's a bonus when you're suffering from plantar fasciitis and you still want to wear cute heels and not limp.  The cherry-on-top to all of this is said heels make your legs look really good.

There's definitely something to be said for a great pair of heels that not only boost your confidence and look good with a myriad of outfits.

I digress. Back to the pattern, after I decided on the dress, got it cut out, realized I forgot to cut out the back neck facing, and then had to cut out that facing piece from muslin, I realized just how much I had the poly blend I was using. I mean, I've used poly blends before and it's nothing new. The slickness of the fabric is just a pain, not to mention how much it sheds. The pattern calls for cotton blends, challis and the like and while my fabric has a similar drape as those, I bet those cotton blends do a bit better when it comes to putting in the eyelets for the lacing up the bodice. The piping around the neck might also have been easier in a less slick fabric.

Speaking of piping, it's a lovely detail only you can't really see it in the print I choose. This pattern would make an excellent foray into adding those little dressmaker details in a newer sewer.

I'm still terrible at taking pictures of myself wearing my creations. Seriously, I could use some help, tips, anything. I was quite happy with the dress. I didn't have to lengthen it like I usually do, which was a nice surprise. Oh, and no I'm not going to show off my terrible pictures of me wearing the dress. You're just going to have to take my word for it.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

9/18/2017

Sunflower Grapevine Wreath

9/18/2017 0 Comments

My Big Guy loves sunflowers which is why several years ago, I made this Sunflower Rope Wreath {HERE}, but it was starting to fall apart after 7 years so it was time to create a new wreath. While searching for floral inspiration for my sister's reception, I came across a Summer Floral Wreath {HERE} on Michaels.com and knew that this was the wreath design I wanted for my new sunflower wreath.

Instead of the summer flowers they used, I picked up a bunch of sunflowers, cosmos, and greenery. Sorry, I don't know what the two bunches of greenery I got were called, but I liked how all the bunches looked together, so that's what I went with. It's a very scientific method. Oh, I didn't add the bird the original instructions had, mostly because I didn't find one that I loved, but there was an owl that I did almost buy for this wreath.
So then I just followed the directions for the summer floral wreath and VOILA! I have a  new late summer/early fall wreath that I love.

I love that it's asymmetrical and happy. I could have probably added more of those white spikey flowers, but I'm not that fussed about it.
Hopefully, this wreath will last me as long, if not longer than my last wreath. My Big Guy also likes it.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

9/15/2017

Pattern Review - Simplicity S0982

9/15/2017 2 Comments

I'm back! With another post even! What?! That's like 2 in a week. Well more like 2.5, because Dana wrote most of the PSL post from Wednesday, and I only added my $.02 worth. Still!

So this post has been in the works since March. March, people! I technically finished the sewing of this dress back in March, and then it sat on my dress form until last week, when I finally got around to finishing it. It needed buttons and buttonholes. That's it. I got 98% done, and then it sat. For 6 months! I know I'm not the only one who does that. I mean, I can't be, right?!

With fall weather arriving, it was the perfect time to finish this dress, because the yellow and black buffalo plaid is also a lightweight flannel, and who doesn't love flannel?  I do also need  to apologize for the lack of good pictures, apparently I've forgotten how I set up my phone to take full pictures of myself.

So the pattern was simple and straightforward, as most shirt dresses are, but this one has the nice added touch of having a tailored shirttail hem, but it was also on the short side. Always. So I cut out my dress in the longest length, and then simply shifted the pattern down to cut out the shaped shirttail hem. Easy peasy. I like my skirt hems to be 24" from my waist, but this one is 23" which is totally ok.

I also needed to alter the pattern between the bust and hips, because I'm not a one size fits all girl. So after adjusting the side seams to accommodate my many sizes, I had a dress that was ready to be put together.


Sewing it up was easy and straightforward with no surprises. I mean, it's a shirtdress, how many different ways are there to make one?  And after the 6-month hiatus, putting in the buttonholes and attaching the buttons was easy, although I didn't realize that I had very dark blue thread in my machine instead of black, so now I have very dark blue button holes. Oh well. C'est la vie.

I would say this pattern would be good for the adventurous beginner. It's not a difficult pattern, by any stretch, but it could seem a little daunting to a sewer who just unpacked their first sewing machine.

So last week, we had some wonderful fall-like weather, and so it was the perfect time to test out my new dress, and step out of my very safe fashion box. You see, I'm not very good at pairing ankle boots with anything. I'm just not certain of just how to wear them, but the model on the envelope is wearing them. Therefore, so can I. Pairing the dress and boots with a blanket scarf was also new, I know we've talked about my adventures in scarf wearing, but I've never attempted a blanket scarf. So much newness going on! I was brave though, and put my best booted foot forward and went on my way.


Its funny how doing something small, like stepping out of your fashion box, can give you such confidence. I am very pleased with how the whole look came together, and am so excited for more fall weather so that I can don this outfit again. As it is, I'm currently wearing my Key West Circle Top and shorts, because summer is making a last stand.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

9/13/2017

Mason Jar Lattes: Another Freakin' PSL?

9/13/2017 0 Comments
Dana here.  Yes, folks, it's that time of year again!  Pumpkin spice everything!!!  Pancakes, chai, cookies, pork loin, and of course coffee.  I sometimes wonder if the hysteria is self-sustaining.  Like, because everyone else in the world seems to love pumpkin spice, more people latch onto the trend.  Or is it truly a perfect storm of the best season (IMHO), delicious spices, and the jolliest of the gourd family?  Aww, look at those guys.  They're so excited for autumn!
As some of you know, Heather and I have a friendly competition every year to see who can get their hands on a PSL from Starbucks first.  There's a delightful added difficulty factor because some Starbucks will slide you one before they're officially released if you ask nicely.  Well, that's been my experience anyway.  I've won the last few years.  It helped that I worked right near a Starbucks all that time.  This year, though, Heather beat me!  She called me just after 7am at some obscene hour of the morning to gloat.  I think she took advantage of me being busy with a new book release*.  To be fair, though, I would do exactly the same thing to her. 😜 Of course, us being us, we want to be able to recreate the magical, pumpkin-spice-y experience at home, and we're never quite satisfied.  So it's time for another recipe review!


Ingredients
1/3 cup pumpkin puree fresh or canned
1 cup sugar or splenda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
(I only did 1/2 teaspoon.  See commentary below)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep syrup from burning.
Let mixture cook together like syrup and begins to coat the spoon (for about 10-15 minutes), then remove from heat.
Refrigerate in a heat-proof container.
The syrup will thicken a bit in the refrigerator, but will become syrup again when heated.

My initial impression upon reading this recipe was, "You cook the pumpkin?!"  In my experience, that gives the pumpkin a not-very-nice, cooked squash flavor.  Somehow, that didn't happen here.  Maybe because you're using stovetop heat instead of microwave?  I don't know, but three cheers for this recipe!  Heather made it first and said she thought it needed a bit less cinnamon, so that's what I did when I made mine.  I can't speak to Heather's because I wasn't there to try it, but mine turned out divine!

Hey guys! Heather popping in here to add my $.02. I made the recipe exactly as written, and yes, there was too much cinnamon for me. IMO the recipe as written is like a pumpkin chai, which is delightful, a smidge of cardamom and it'd be a proper pumpkin chai. It's still a delightful melange of spices, just a bit heavy on the cinnamon for me and what I like in a PSL. 

This is the advantage of being a younger sibling: you can learn from your older siblings' faults.  You really should have thought about that before being born first, Heather!

  So the recipe is brilliant.  You get all the magical fall spices and a hint of pumpkin-y-ness...kind of like drinking a pumpkin pie.  Oh!  I need to try it with whipped cream on top.  I bet that would be amazing!  With just a sprinkle of extra cinnamon.  Nomminess!  You do still have the problem of stuff sinking to the bottom, but just give your cup a wee swirl and you're good to go.  Then just grab a book or a friend, wrap up in a cozy sweater or flannel shirt, and you're off!

*Wanna hear something weird?  About a year ago, I posted a recipe for pumpkin spice latte syrup, sans the pumpkin...autumn spice syrup?  Anyway, in that post, I announced the release of my book, Out of the Shadows.  Well, Shadows has a little sister now!


Into the Fire released on September 5th, and I am so excited!  Continue Lenore's journey as she avoids assassins and searches for lost Old World technology in southern Invarnis.  She definitely discovers coffee while she's there, but no pumpkin spice lattes.  Get it and Out of the Shadows on Amazon.  And that recipe is here if you'd like to have a look.  

Thanks for reading!