Maybe Matilda

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DIY Marauder’s Map Shirt (and free Silhouette template)

You’ll never guess what audiobook I’ve been listening to this month.

Go on, guess.

Make a cute and easy Marauder's Map t-shirt with your Silhouette and this free template!

The correct answer is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and no one saw that coming at all.

The words needed to open the Marauder’s Map seem extremely appropriate for a certain someone I know—and I don’t want to embarrass anyone, so I won’t name any names, but it starts with a 4 and ends with an ‘est.’ This child is never not up to no good.

Make a cute and easy Marauder's Map t-shirt with your Silhouette and this free template!

I’m still learning all the ins and outs of my Silhouette Portrait, but even with my beginner-level knowledge, this was still a very quick project to put together. And I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out, so I didn’t take any progress pictures, but it’s a simple enough project that hopefully you don’t need them.

I just set up the text in Silhouette Studio how I wanted it, then grabbed a stock image of footprints online and added them to the design. After cutting the design onto vinyl, I peeled the letters out and tossed them, then used the rest as a stencil. I mixed craft paint with textile medium and sponged it onto the stencil to create the letters and footprints (with a layer of cardboard inside the shirt to make sure you don’t get paint soaking through to the back, of course). I’ve seen people do painted t-shirts without using the textile medium, so I’m assuming it holds up fine without any issues, but I’ve always used the textile medium. In my experience, it gives a very smooth finished product and holds up beautifully in the wash. After peeling up my stencil piece, I just let the shirt air dry overnight, then ironed it to set the paint (your textile medium will give instructions on how to set it).

DIY Marauder's Map t-shirt with free template for Silhouette

I’m happy to share the Silhouette Studio file here for anyone to use to make their own shirts (personal use only, please!)—I hope I’ve done this right. Please tell me if something doesn’t work properly and I’ll work on figuring it out :-)

Get the file for the template as shown HERE.

And get the file for the REVERSED template HERE.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Peter Pan Family Halloween Costumes

Before too many of you climb aboard the ‘Jeff’s such a good sport!!’ train, I’d like to state right up front here that he is fully invested in Halloween and general costumery. Like, to the point that when he first tried on his Captain Hook costume, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Do you think patients would like it if I wore this to work on Halloween?!”

Peter Pan Family Halloween Costumes

Um, yes. Yes, I think they would like that very much indeed.

Last year, these two made a pretty adorable Monsters’ Inc. duo. And this year’s Peter Pan / Captain Hook duo is pretty dang adorable, too, if I may say so myself.

Peter Pan and Captain Hook costumes

We started casually brainstorming family costume ideas in early September (I plan to take advantage of the opportunity to do a family costume for as long as possible—I know our days are numbered here, Forrest isn’t going to think it’s cool to do a family costume theme forever, so I’m enjoying it while I can). We tossed around quite a few different ideas, and ended up realizing that it didn’t matter much what Jeff and I wanted: it all hinged on Forrest and his willingness to participate. The rest of us will go with whatever, but if he wasn’t into a costume idea, there was no way we could force him to do it. He almost backed out of last year’s costume when he saw Jeff in full head-to-toe monster garb and freaked at the oh-so-frightening sight. So I pulled up some pictures of different costumes (some of which included superheroes and a full Star Wars gang), and let Forrest decide which one he liked best.

Who would have guessed he’d pick Peter Pan? He had never even seen Peter Pan.

Family Peter Pan Halloween costume idea

While we waited for the costumes to arrive in the mail, I made sure he watched the movie. I’ll never know what possessed him to choose Peter Pan, a character and movie he wasn’t even familiar with (actually: sword. it was almost definitely the realization that being Peter Pan meant he’d get a sword), but I wanted him to see the movie so he knew what the heck he was dressing up as (although, I mean, he has a sword. he probably doesn’t care about anything else). And who’d have guessed it—he’s been requesting to watch the movie almost every day. Good thing he didn’t hate it, or we’d have been back at square one for costumes.

Just like last year, these costumes were sent to us by HalloweenCostumes.Com. After two years of DIYing Halloween costumes for this kid, I’m totally on board with store bought costumes. Sewing them myself is just too much work for this lazy seamstress. Kudos to those of you who design and sew amazing costumes! My sewing talent just doesn’t extend that for. For Forrest’s first Halloween at 2 months old, he was a very adorable corn cob (we lived in Iowa at the time, and a corn cob costumed baby was just too perfect to pass up); for his 2nd Halloween he was a very pathetic last-minute Batman—I literally cut the Batman logo from felt at about 2PM on Halloween and hot glued it to a t-shirt. It was extremely lame. For his 3rd Halloween, I dyed a shirt maroon so he could be Malcolm Reynolds (now that was an awesome family costume). The impressiveness level of my DIY costumes was declining steadily by the year—clearly time to hand over the reins to someone else. And Halloween Costumes does it swimmingly.

Family Peter Pan + Pirates costumes

Our costumes are pretty rad. Jeff’s is the clear winner—that thing is amazing. The jacket and vest are velvet, and look so awesome in person. It’s one of those situations where we keep thinking, ‘this thing is gorgeous; think of a way you can keep wearing it past Halloween.’ We grabbed the wig and hook from Savers, but everything else was included, from the lacy neck ruffle to the boot tops, and it looks so cool. Forrest’s Peter Pan is adorable (I’ve had to talk him out of wearing the costume to preschool a few times) and Darcy makes the sweetest little Tinkerbell I’ve ever seen (when I first showed Forrest the family costume idea, he thought the plan was for him to be Tinkerbell, and weirdly enough, he seemed pretty cool with that idea).

And I’d like to blame Jeff for my costume. He insisted—absolutely insisted, with 100% confidencethat no one would know who I was if I dressed up as Wendy, which was my original plan. I don’t even know what to say about that, except that it’s ridiculous because—I mean, really. Wendy. He was totally baffled when I showed him the Wendy costume I planned to get—“who is that? Is she even in the movie? I’ve never seen her before. No one will understand that. And you can’t dress up as a character who’s younger than Tinkerbell when our baby is being Tinkerbell.” So I let him talk me into being “one of Captain Hook’s pirates,” except that Captain Hook did not have any lady pirates on his ship, and if he did they probably would have been less swashbuckle-y and more prostitute-y, and now here I am in a pirate costume, just hoping no one thinks I’m dressed up as a pirate prostitute. Whatever. Jeff’s fault. At least the kids look scrumptious.

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell Costumes

I sort of want her to wear this everyday. Can she just always have wings on, all the time? That would be okay, right? Because it’s so cute I can’t stand it.

Tinkerbell Costume

Big thanks to for setting us up this year! We love our costumes and are so dang excited to get some Halloween festivities going.

Do you do family costumes?

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Deep Thoughts with Forrest #7

Jeff was helping Forrest get ready for bed, and pointed out his post-bath pruny toes.
Jeff: Look at your toes! They’re all wrinkly, like an old man’s toes. Just like mine.
Forrest: (with a look of horror on his face) . . . am I a daddy now?
Jeff: What?
Forrest: My toes are like your toes so I am a daddy now. (with tears in his eyes) I don’t want to be a daddy!

Jeff pulled one of my hairs off Forrest’s shirt, aaaand:
Jeff: Hey, what’s this?
Forrest: It’s a Mama hair. Is Mama’s hair falling out?
Jeff: Looks like it. Will Mama be a boy if her hair falls out?
Forrest: No, boys have hair.
Jeff: Well, what will she be, then?
Forrest: Mama will be a monster.
Further conversation revealed that he was not being rude—he was referring to the hairless reptilian monsters of Monsters, Inc. I guess he basically sees me as Randall in a wig. Encouraging.

Completely out of the blue.
Forrest: I don’t fink I want Daw-see to be my sister anymore.

Jeff recently joked while we were out for an evening walk that we’d better hurry home before it got dark and the hoodlums came out. A few days later Jeff was staying late at work, and Forrest asked where he was.
Me: Daddy has to work late tonight. He won’t be home until after you’re asleep and it’s dark outside.
Forrest: Oh no!!! That’s vewwy bad news!!!
Me: Why?
Forrest: If he is out at night and it is dark, the hoodlums will come into his office and get him!!

Our electrician, Mark, was over recently updating some light fixtures, and Forrest was absolutely desperate to ‘help’ him (more like chatter at him incessantly, roughly 5000 words per minute). I told him Mark didn’t need his help, and Forrest shouldn’t bother him, and he sulked for awhile before coming up with a brilliant plan to get past me and talk to him.
Forrest: I weally want to tell somebody all about my day at preschool today.
Me: Leave Mark alone.
Forrest: (offended) I didn’t say Mark!!! I said somebody!!!
Me: Okay, who did you have in mind?
Forrest: (tapping chin thoughtfully) Hmm, well, I fink Mark looks like he would like to hear about preschool.

I think they’re doing a lot of ‘what letter does this word start with?’ at preschool, because Forrest keeps coming up with the most random letter starts (clearly, he’s a total rock star at preschool, top of his class). For instance,
Forrest: Hey Mama, do you know what sound starts Wednesday?
Me: No, what?
Forrest: We can twy it together. It’s W-W-W-W-Wednesday. So what letter does it start with?
Me: Hmmm. It sounds like a W to me.
Forrest: No, that is not wight, but that was a vewwy good try. It’s W-W-W-Wednesday, and it starts with the letter W-W-W-kangaroo.

On our way to the grocery store, where I always buy him a donut if he behaves.
Me: Make sure to behave nicely at the store—if you’re a really good boy, you’ll get your special treat.
Forrest: What is my tweat?!?
Me: We get it every time. It starts with a D. D-D-D . . . (waiting for him to finish it for me)
Forrest: (blank stare)
Me: Do . . . dooooo . . .
Forrest: . . . bwoccoli? I don’t weally want that.

While watching a movie, he noticed the subtitles were turned on.
Forrest: Oh Mama!! Makes those words go away!! They are disgusting to me.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

10-Minute ‘Boo’ Sign + My Fall Decorating

I can almost hear my mom and sister laughing at the post title already—10 minute ‘boo’ sign!!! We got together last week to do some Halloween crafting, and I’ll just give you a quick run-down of our day . . .

Number of hours we spent together: 5
Number of projects Bekah planned to make: 4
Number of projects I planned to make: 0
Number of false starts and do-overs on just 1 single project: 50382
Number of pumpkin scones consumed: 6
Total number of projects Bekah completed: 0
Total number of projects I completed: 1

As a reminder, peek back up at the project plans—Bekah wanted to make 4 things, and I wasn’t going to make any. Yet somehow I ended up with the only project of the day, even though we spent 4 or 5 hours together. We are slow, easily distracted, very hungry crafters who take frequent snack breaks.

But—but! If we had actually had a plan for this sign, and known what we wanted it to turn out like, and just made the dang thing instead of fiddling around, changing our minds over and over about how it should look, messing things up and trying them again a different way, I bet it would have honestly been about a 10 minute project. So I’m just going to call it that. It’s just too embarrassing to title this post ‘My 4 hour ‘boo’ sign.’

10 minute Halloween 'BOO' sign with painted pumpkins
At any rate, it was a very fun 4 hours (although there was minimal crafting involved), and I love how my little sign turned out. I used my brand spankin’ new Silhouette Portrait, and guys. This thing is fun. I have so many things I want to use it for, and so many ideas I’ve been hoarding and imagining for, quite honestly, a few years now. This is an exciting moment. But I figured I’d better start small while I get to know the machine and learn what it can do, and this sign was a great little intro. It’s a simple, fast, very basic project that turned out so sweet.

Halloween BOO sign with painted pumpkins

All I did was lightly paint a store-bought plaque (purchased from JoAnn with a 50% off coupon, so it came to about $4), then used spray adhesive to mount the letters on it (which I typed up and resized for my sign, then cut from cute paper with my Silhouette Portrait). I added two of these little spiderwebs in the corners, resized to fit perfectly behind my letters without too much overlap. A thick layer of mod podge over the whole thing, plus a little watered-down black paint sponged around the edges and flicked with a toothbrush over the front, and it was good to go!

10 minute Halloween BOO sign

For the little pumpkins, I just grabbed some cheap plastic pumpkins from a dollar store and slapped a few layers of white chalk paint on, then added some black dots with the non-bristled end of a paintbrush (for the small dots) and my fingertip (for the bigger dots). Makes for a cute little Halloween display, if I may say so myself.

Elsewhere in the house, I’ve stuck more to a fall theme instead of Halloween.

Simple fall display

The window, lamp, Scentsy warmer, and wreath are always in this spot, so I just added a few little things to make it look a little more ‘autumn.’ I made the Halloween paper garland a few years ago, and am sort of amazed at how well it’s still holding up. I added candy corn to my DIY hurricanes (made with this tutorial), and tossed some moss and pumpkins (which I already had) into a planter that migrates throughout my house all year. A little burlap as a table runner and a leftover wood slice from my sister’s wedding this summer, and it looks all sorts of autumnal.

Outside, I got rid of my summer flowers in my planters (they were well past health anyway) and added some mums. I’m hoping they’ll fill out soon and look a little more lush. I think a fall wreath would look a little more appropriate on the door, but I haven’t seen any I’ve fallen in love with yet. The search continues.

Fall exterior

If budget allowed, I’d have like 4 times as many pumpkins as you see here . . . but dang, those puppies add up fast! I’m now doubly impressed by porches that have dozens of pumpkins set out. Impressed once because they look so cheery, and again because they must have taken out a second mortgage to pay for them. Between the mums and the pumpkins, I spent about $20 out here. Inside, all I purchased was the plaque for the Boo sign, so my total money spent to decorate for fall is about $24. Not bad, I’d say.

pumpkins and mums

How do you like to decorate for fall?

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

When I made those yummy chocolate chip cookies last week, I dropped off a plate at a friend’s house (me + a full batch of cookies = disaster). She thanked me for them and, since she is a rather frequent recipient of baked goods from me, expressed some surprise at how often I bake cookies, and said she couldn’t even remember the last time she made cookies. And I hadn’t really thought about it, but I do make cookies a lot. They’re probably my favorite treat to make—they’re easy and fast and crowd-pleasing and delicious with a billion wonderful variations. They’re easy to transport if you need to take them somewhere or give some away. They’re ideal stress baking (not too finicky or demanding), and the perfect afternoon snack. I find them so soothing to make. If I’m stressed? Cookies. If I’m tired? Cookies. If the kids are driving me insane and I need a short kitchen escape? Cookies. If I’m happy? Celebratory cookies.

This recipe comes from my aunt Miriam and our family cookbook (where so many of my favorite recipes come from). My mom raved a few weeks ago about some wonderful chocolate dipped peanut butter cookies her sister Miriam had made, so I just had to wait for an appropriately stressful day to try them out myself. And I’ll admit: up until this recipe, I’ve never loved peanut butter cookies. I love peanut butter cookie dough, but once they’re baked, I usually think they’re too dry and crumbly. But these are everything I’ve ever wanted and haven’t found before in a peanut butter cookie recipe. They’re moist and chewy and delicious, and the chocolate dip is just fantastic, plus makes them look pretty impressive (I thought they’d make a nice neighbor Christmas gift, and you could even add some sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet). If I may offer a word of advice on the ideal consumption of these cookies: eat the chocolate half first, then dip the remaining naked half in ice-cold milk. Perfection.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies //

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from my aunt Miriam in our Allred Family Cookbook. A quick note: the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup margarine. I substituted butter and shortening since that’s what I’m more likely to have on hand. Feel free to try it either way!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 package chocolate candi-quik (like almond bark)
1 tablespoon shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, shortening, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat thoroughly, then mix in the peanut butter and vanilla until well combined. Add the salt, baking soda, and flour, and mix. The dough may seem too moist, but that’s how you want it.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (I used my Silpat instead of greasing). Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until they are just set and golden on the bottoms (the tops will, and should, appear somewhat unfinished) (every oven is different, but for me, the magic number was 8 minutes and 45 seconds). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling.

In a small, deep bowl, melt the candi-quik and shortening in the microwave; stir until smooth. Dip each cookie halfway into the melted chocolate and lay on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, then cool in the refrigerator until chocolate has set.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies //

I had some extra chocolate after dipping all my cookies, so I spread out some peanuts and cashews on wax paper and drizzled my leftover chocolate over them. So good!

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Friday, October 10, 2014


I’m coming off a Kate Morton high right now, so you’ll have to excuse me today. This isn’t the post I had planned, but I stayed up too late finishing The Secret Keeper and the photos I need  for the post that was meant to happen today are sitting around twiddling their virtual thumbs on my camera aaalllllll the way in the kitchen, a whopping 10ish steps from where I’m currently sitting, and it’s all just too much, I say. So it’s an instagram week in review sort of post today and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that people love being forced to see photos they have very possibly already seen elsewhere and read even longer captions than they were posted with the first time around, and don’t you know I aim to please around here? Always.

The Secret Keeper was my flavor of the week and frankly, I’d appreciate it if we all took a moment to reflect on how incredible it is that I get anything done this week—anything at all—other than planting myself firmly on the sofa from first page to last. Kate Morton was in my house, waiting patiently for me on my nightstand, and yet my family was still clothed and fed and neither of my children met with significant bodily harm this week and I feel rather proud of it. I’ve written about my love for Kate Morton before (here and here, to be specific), and maybe you’re getting tired of hearing me rave about her, and if so you are in luck because I have now read everything she’s written (sob!) so I guess this might be the last time I go on about her. History, family secrets, just the right amount of suspense and romance and spine-tingling creep factor—I think she is fantastic. I spent the first two-thirds of The Secret Keeper thinking that it would fall somewhere in the upper-middle-ish range for me—Kate Morton always knows how to keep me involved, but I didn’t think I was going to love it. The final third, though—it leaped from, “Hm, yes, I’m liking this,” to “EVERYONE SHUT UP AND GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE WITH MY PRECIOUS.”

Keeping me from zipping through it quite as quickly as I wanted was this girl finally discovering that GOOD GRACIOUS I CAN MOVE OF MY OWN FREE WILL?!

Darcy’s been a just a teensy hair behind the curve in hitting physical milestones so far—she’ll turn one at the end of the month and up until yesterday she was just doing the old frog-swim army crawl. Couldn’t even be bothered to get up on her knees to crawl (although she’d occasionally prop herself up on hands and knees, take a few test rocks back and forth, then summon all her strength and courage for a mighty step forward and phwoooooooomp glide straight out onto her belly with all the grace you’d expect of someone we briefly considered naming Grace). And I’ve been perfectly content with her slow progress in the motion department, because it sure makes life easier for me to not have to spend every second of every minute of every day barricading the stairs and monitoring her every movement, and if I learned anything from Forrest and his slowness to walk followed by slowness to talk, it’s that kids will do things when they’re good and ready and that better be fine by me. Yesterday, though? An itty bitty little Christmas-string-sized light bulb finally lit up in her brain and I could almost hear her saying to herself, “Hang on. I’ve got these four handy extremities emerging from my torso and perhaps they could be used to haul my person closer to—and then perhaps onto or into--things that I find interesting!”

And just like that, off she went. In one afternoon—I’m not exaggerating—she went from only frog-style swimming across the floor on her belly to climbing up the first two stairs, pulling herself up to stand against boxes and furniture, hauling herself completely on top of the box pictured above, and climbing directly into the toy chest that has taunted her for months. Who’s the boss now, toy chest?

I suppose she’ll be joining me for my morning jog tomorrow. And not in the stroller, either, at the rate she’s going.

On this week’s breakfast menu (yes, that’s right) were a strong contender for the title of New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. I got the recipe right HERE from Chelsea at Two Twenty One and they are everything a chocolate chip cookie should be. So soft. So moist. So chewy and flavorful and delicious. And this recipe yielded a cookie quite saltier than most I’ve made before, which I thought was amazing and irresistible. My only change to the recipe as written was to use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup coconut oil (instead of 3/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup canola oil, which the recipe calls for). If you are in the market for a delicious batch of chocolate chip cookies this weekend, I think you know what to do. And pay attention to her advice on baking time. It makes all the difference.

I’ve recently been enjoying a burst of rather atypical homemaking energy. Do you hit that point where things are so bad that you just throw in the towel and give up? The house is just so messy and so dirty and it’s so overwhelming that you don’t even know where to begin, so you don’t? You just ignore it and pretend no one is home if there’s a knock at the door because you’re too embarrassed to answer? Well. My gracious mom and sister spent an entire day a few weeks ago helping me get things under control (have I ever mentioned that they are the very best? because they are), and you know, once the house has been cleaned pretty thoroughly one time, it’s not so terrible to keep things tidy after that (tidyish—let’s be real, I have two small children in my house and a husband that is sort of another large child himself, so we’re never going to reach maximum tidiness around here). Bekah is sort of a master organizer, so after seeing how she turned my (horrifying) kitchen junk cupboard and drawer into an exhibit at the Martha Stewart Museum of Organized Excellence, I caught the bug myself. And I think I’m finally making progress towards getting the house into some semblance of order, as well as getting the basement makeover underway. Oh, don’t you remember the basement makeover? The one I’ve been insisting was right around the corner since before I even became pregnant with Darcy? That’s the one. Baby steps. And I think I’ve passed on the ruthless purger gene to Forrest—just look at his smile of glee as we drop off an entire car load of unloved junk at the thrift store. I doubt he’ll have the same look on his face the next time he comes home from preschool to discover that I’ve used his absence to undertake the toy purge of the century. (I attempted to start while he was home today and he very anxiously inquired “why all my toys are going into that garbage bag, and what will I play with now?!?!?!?!”)

How was your week?

(If you wanna, you can find me on instagram: @maybematilda)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Anytime now, fall. Really.

stripes + military vest + moto boots + pulsar watch

These pictures are lies, vicious dirty lies. Because they imply, with their cute little moto boots and warm cozy vest, that there is a nip in the air, maybe a lovely chilly breeze, and pumpkin-flavored-everything to be enjoyed when in fact it neared 80 degrees today. Uncool, nature. Un. Cool.

stripes + military vest + moto boots + pulsar watch

I'm starting to get moderately concerned that fall isn't actually going to happen, period. I keep seeing instagram shots from around the country of vibrantly colored leaves but I'm pretty sure I could still fry an egg on the sidewalk if the need arose. Maybe we'll go to bed one night in our tank tops and shorts with the air conditioner running and wake up to a blanket of snow and carolers on the doorstep and that will be it? We'll just skip straight past fall into bleak, endless winter? It's a dark thought, but someone's gotta think it. In a token nod to the fall that isn't happening, there are apples ripe for the picking on the tree to my left in these pictures, but I'm pretty sure they're all dripping sweat and breathing heavily.

Anyway, what I intended to write about before I got sidetracked by whininess was babystepping it into trendiness, and mixing classic basics with trendier items. I'm sure I'm not alone in being overwhelmed sometimes when I venture onto a fashion blog (something I rarely, rarely do--way too intimidating). Faced with zillions of fashionable images, I end up feeling like nothing I have is cute or flattering or on-trend or modern, and unless I go out and buy everything new and more or less start a trendy wardrobe from scratch, there's no point in making any sort of effort at stylishness. Do you do this, too?

I think for me, the key is always going to be adding trendy, seasonal items in very small doses. I can't picture myself, even if our budget allowed, heading out at the start of each season and loading up a shopping cart with dozens of trendy new items to carry me through. (That does sound fun though, right?) I don't have the time or interest or energy or money to worry much about keeping up with every passing trend. I find myself having a hard time justifying too many trendy purchases. If I have $20 to spend on a new top, I generally talk myself out of the one that is darling but splattered with a very trendy (and potentially short-lived) pattern or color or cut, and go with the one that is more basic and classic and versatile, since I can picture myself wearing it for longer. So I end up with a closet of mostly versatile basics, and just smatterings of trendier pieces to spice things up, like--ohidon'tknow--an outfit of skinnies and stripes and a basic leather bag (classic) paired with a more trendy utility vest and moto boots (which I'm a little bit obsessed with at the moment--in no way is it cool enough to be wearing these boots on the daily, yet here we are).

stripes + utility vest

And the loveliest timeless piece in this outfit is absolutely the watch (venturing dangerously close to pun territory by using the word 'timeless!'). This Pulsar watch speaks straight to my soul--the design is sleek and modern, but it's classic and will look beautiful and on-trend forever. It's high-quality and durable, but at a reasonable price point (considering the quality and workmanship!). It will last years and years and just oozes versatility, and I love the little bit of glamour and style and personality it adds to an outfit. Nothing but happy emojis for this Pulsar beauty.

Pulsar watch

How do you handle mixing basics with trendy pieces? Do you invest in classics, or have fun with plenty of trendy items?

Jeans: Ross // Top: some awful cheap place online that is junky and terrible and not worth linking to // Vest: Annie Jean Apparel--now dead and I could cry about it! // Boots: c/o Sole Society // Bag: c/o Lily Jade // Watch: c/o Pulsar

Every day, there’s a new rhythm, a new adventure. You dance to the beat of your own drum. You capture and share moments, with your family and your friends. PULSAR is a quality companion that is right there with you – every day, and for tomorrow, with modern styles that stand the test of time. That’s Life. In real time.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pulsar. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

Don’t hate me, but if I’m being honest, ice cream would almost never be my first choice for dessert. I like ice cream and I wouldn’t say no if you offered it, but if presented with other sweet treat options, ice cream would be toward the end of my list of preferences. I’d take a cookie or brownie any day over a bowl of ice cream. I hope we can still be friends.

But. But. This summer, the urge to make homemade ice cream overcame me. I don’t know how it happened . . . maybe because Jeff (a true ice cream devotee) kept bringing it home and I kept not loving it as deeply as he did, or maybe the double dose of heat from baking brownies on 90-degree days finally broke me down and sent me searching for other sugar sources. Whatever the cause, it became vitally important that I get my hands on an ice cream maker, because surely homemade ice cream would inspire me to join the happy throngs of ice cream zealots in a way that store bought ice cream never could.

So I did what any blogger would do: went to the store to buy an ice cream maker. Ha ha ha, I kid, of course! I wrote to Cuisinart and begged them to send me one to review. It will never stop surprising me when someone says yes to these pitiful emails I send, but a few days later I had an ice cream maker in my kitchen and I am here to tell you that they have made a believer out of me.

I love ice cream. I really, truly, deeply love homemade ice cream.

There is good news and bad news with this post. The bad news is that I’ve had this ice cream maker for about 3 months and am just now getting around to posting about it (I’m sorry Cuisinart! bad blogger!). The good news is that this means I have had a solid 3 months to make batch after batch of ice cream, get a good feel for my machine, and can give you fairly experienced and well-informed thoughts on it.

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

A quick review of the machine, and then I’ll get to sharing this delicious, perfect-for-fall recipe. I’m salivating again just thinking about it.

Unlike some ice cream makers, my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker does not actually use any ice. This is part of what drew me to this particular machine—I didn’t like the idea of needing a stock of ice and salt on hand whenever I got the hankering for ice cream. Instead, this machine has a freezable bowl that does all the dirty work. We just keep the bowl in the freezer all the time, so it’s always ready to go if we have a spur of the moment craving. (And it doesn’t take up much freezer space since you can, of course, stick other things inside it.)

The downside is that if you want to make a lot of ice cream, you’ll either need additional bowls or you’ll need to give yourself quite a few hours between making batches to allow the bowl to refreeze. The plus side is, obviously, there is no ice involved. We had friends over for an ice cream sampling party shortly after our machine arrived, and we wanted to have a few flavors ready. I could only make one batch at a time before the bowl needed to be frozen again (this takes quite a few hours), so I just had to plan ahead and make 1 or 2 batches per day leading up to our little party, leaving plenty of time between for the bowl to freeze. This isn’t a con for me—I prefer the (relative) inconvenience of refreezing the bowl to the inconvenience of using ice, but it’s something to consider if you think you’ll want to make a lot of ice cream at once, or multiple flavors at a time.

A second thought is that this machine can hold/produce 1.5 quarts of ice cream. This really isn’t a vast amount of ice cream, so it’s perfect for our small family of 2 adults and 2 kids. I really doubt, though, that this would be enough ice cream for a bigger crowd. It’s been great for us, but again, something to consider if you have a larger family or plan to be making ice cream for gatherings. It would definitely take some planning ahead to make enough for a crowd.

Now, to see it in action. To make this delicious Cinnamon Gingersnap ice cream, I started with the classic vanilla ice cream recipe from the recipe booklet that came with the machine. Standard ice cream ingredients—whole milk, heavy cream, sugar . . . but then I decided to get autumnal allllll over the place. I tossed in cinnamon and nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice and a double dose of vanilla. It smelled absurdly good. Just whisk it together and pour it into the frozen bowl after turning the machine on.

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

Perhaps you will be impressed to learn that immediately after this shot, pouring and snapping pictures simultaneously got the better of me and I lost control of the bowl. I also lost probably half a cup of ingredients, poured directly onto the counter.

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

It takes a lot of faith those first few minutes to believe that this will ever become anything other than creamy, cinnamon-scented soup. But lo and behold, about 15 minutes later, you’re staring into a dreamy bowl of soft serve fall-flavored deliciousness. A glimpse into heaven, I tell you.

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

While it’s mixing, crush up some ginger snap cookies and add them to the bowl once the ice cream has reached a soft serve consistency. I like to leave some largish chunks of cookie in there. Give me ice cream with substance, I say.

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

Incidentally, I have discovered that the larger, 32 ounce yogurt tubs are the perfect size for storing a batch of homemade ice cream. When the ice cream comes out of the machine, it will be a deliciously lickable soft serve consistency. If you prefer a firmer texture, just toss it in a container and pop it in the freezer for another hour or two.

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

Forrest is an ice cream fanatic (like father, like son), but I thought he might have objections to this particular flavor. A spiced ice cream just doesn’t sound terribly kid-friendly to me, but I was wrong. He absolutely devoured this batch (which came in handy as picky eater bribery, actually!).

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream

Cinnamon Gingersnap Ice Cream
Makes approximately 1.5 quarts. Less if you dump a good quantity onto your countertop.

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
11 gingersnap cookies, crushed

Combine all ingredients except cookies in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly, then add to ice cream maker. Mix according to machine instructions (for me, this takes 15-20 minutes). 5 minutes before mix time is complete, add cookies. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze an additional 1-2 hours if you’d like a firmer consistency.

The Fine Print: I was not paid for this post, but I did receive ice cream machine for free to review. All opinions are my own.

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