Falling for Autumn!

I love autumn! The vibe of the season fills me with such warmth even as the weather gets really chilly again. There is SO much to celebrate about this season!

Here are some of my favourite autumn things:

  • Cozy sweaters and fuzzy socks
  • Big cups of hot chocolate
  • Changing colours
  • Walking over crunchy crispy leaves
  • The smell of bonfires
  • Long dark nights
  • Cooler weather
  • Relaxing nights in watching a favourite movie or show
  • Time to craft or learn new hobbies!
  • Halloween season with candies and goodies galore!
  • Toasted marshmallows
  • Decorating pumpkins

Autumn is a fresh start, rather than the end of something! Enjoy the extra time to become the person you dreamed about coming all year!

Stay snuggly and healthy everyone! xoxo Erika

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Bunnies, Bows, and Baking! ~ How to Have a Super Cute Easter in Quarantine!

Hoppy easter, a perfect passover, or splendid springtime!! Hoping everyone and their families are doing well in this difficult time. Our celebrations are quiet this year, and many of us are alone ~ but that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate and make the best of this situation.

Why not have a springtime party to lift your spirits?! Here’s some ideas!

DIY Easter Tree

Hello Kitty… err Hello Bunny?!, Poteusa’s (Amuse), and a Bunny Bunny Bunny hang around my springtastic tree!

Having a springtime celebration by yourself this year doesn’t mean you need to skimp on making your place look super cute for yourself~ you’ll be surprised how just a little thing like this will lift you up! I was planning on buying some decorations this year, but never had a chance to go out shopping for non-essentials because of the quarantine. So I had to make due with what I have and this seems even better!

What I did have was my super cute pink Christmas tree, some fake flowers and bows, and a ton of bunnies! So that festive little tree is now fresh and sprouting a BUN-ch of cuteness! You could easily make your own cute easter tree with springy things you have around the house:

  • mini Christmas trees or a vase of twigs
  • cute toys
  • hanging candies
  • plastic or hollow decorated easter eggs
  • fake flowers
  • bows, ribbons, or tulle
  • decorated ornaments

Colourful Easter Bun-Nana Bread

Everyone seems to be baking lately~ it’s a great way to pass the time, create something, or even finally learn how if you’ve never done it. This banana bread is a slightly modified version of my favourite banana bread recipe from Sprinkles for Breakfast. It’s stuffed full of healthy bananay goodness to make a healthy breakfast, but still sweet enough to feel like you’re indulging on easter snacks!

I followed the Sprinkles for Breakfast recipe, but instead of scooping the entire batter into the bread tins, I first separated the batter into four separate bowls and dyed them with Food Gel (I use Wilton Food Gel, which has brilliant colours!) Then using spoons, I scooped the batter out into globs on the pans.

It kind of looks like those bright gummy easter candies! And while the colours *technically* don’t taste different, it seems to be a bit more magical and happy for easter time!

Easter Meringue Cookies

You might not want a whole batch of cookies or a cake by yourself, so something small and relatively healthy like meringues is a fun choice. Meringues may seem intimidating, but they are the easiest little puffs to whip up! What’s more springy than light airy crunchy cookies of happiness (and super bonus – they’re fat free)?!

All you need are:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Flavouring – I used lemon extract because it seems so fresh! But vanilla, mint or strawberry would also be yummy!
  • Food gel

Directions:

~ Preheat oven to 225F and prepare a baking pan with a silicon baking sheet. Add egg whites, Cream of Tartar, and flavour extract to your clean mixer bowl and whip on HIGH for about two minutes, until the egg whites have whipped up bright white and fluffy with peaks

~ Slowly add a bit of the sugar until fully incorporated and you get fairly stiff peaks. You need to be careful to be slow as to not deflate the meringue.

~ Separate the meringue into separate bowls with a spatula. Very gently FOLD in the food gel by hand. Do not stir.

~ Fill a piping bag and attach a large tip and pipe them out onto your baking sheet. I only did a tiny little dollop so they’re very small cookies, but you can go as big as you want.

~ Put in oven for 40 minutes, until dry and the insides are crunchy and airy! Enjoy!

You can store them in the freezer as long as they’re in an airtight container. If they get a bit soft, you can put them back into the oven for 10 minutes (at 225 degrees) to crisp them up again!

Other cute ideas!

  • Dress up! Throw on your best pastels, frills, and bows.
  • Spring clean! What’s more refreshing than a new look for your place? Start slow and get rid of some stuff~ I went through some overstuffed closets yesterday and having them cleaned up feels refreshing! Note: most donation places aren’t taking donations right now, but store the goods you’re going to giveaway for now instead of tossing them. 🙂
  • Decorate easter eggs!
  • Have a springtime dance party!
  • Not feeling super energetic? THAT’S OKAY TOO! This is a tough time, and just relaxing and watching a favourite tv show and downing a bag of chocolately eggs is EGG-cellent!
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Let’s Talk About Conversation Heart Cookies!

Happy valentine vibes are starting to soar and hearts are starting to float into stores and online! It’s such a nice change from the dreary greyness that is January!

I was asked to make some super sweet heart cookies for a local organization who works with special needs adults to celebrate their support workers. And what’s more lovely than conversation hearts to tell someone you appreciate them?!

Conversation hearts are addictive little candy hearts with a cute little message to give to someone you appreciate (or yourself!) They look like they are just meant to be cookies!

To make these cookies, I used a standard sugar cookie recipe and royal icing recipe that I’ve used multiple times which always come out deliciously decadent! Decorating them is far easier than you’d think!

What You Need

Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 sticks (200 grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

Icing

  • 6 egg whites
  • 4 cups (1 pound) icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • food colouring (I use gel based)

Directions

Baking

  • Cream the sugar and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
  • Add in the flour and salt until fully incorporated, and the cookie dough will come together in a big dough ball. The dough will seem very, very crumby at first, but it will come together when you use your hands.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and flatten into your hands into a flat disk. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 20 minutes (this makes it much easier to work with).
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Roll out your dough on a floured surface. Using a floured cookie cutter, cut out your shapes (1/4 inch thick) and carefully transfer them to the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and then let them completely cool.

Royal Icing

  • To make the icing, add in the icing sugar, and then add in the egg whites and lemon juice and then blend with a hand or stand mixer on high until light and fluffy (5-10 minutes). Cover with a wet cloth or in an air tight container until ready to use (or it will harden!)
  • When ready to decorate, thin out your icing into flood consistency and separate your icing into separate bowls and colour as appropriate for your design. I used six colours based on conversation heart cookies: pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  • Leave a little bit of excess icing in piping consistency in red (or whatever your want!) to do the writing and cover

Decorating

I started off with piping each individual cookie, but as you can imagine filling piping bags, piping a border, and flooding 70+ cookies is time consuming! So I opted to DIP my cookies in the royal icing which was so much faster and I think looks pretty great!

  • Fill a low bowl with your icing at flood consistency and then pick up the cookies and DIP! I used a popsicle stick to remove the excess icing. It took a few goes to figure out how to remove the excess smoothly
  • Put the dipped cookies on a tray and let COMPLETELY dry (a couple of hours at least)
  • Once the cookies are dried, fill a piping bag and with a small round tip and pipe the lettering. Some ideas are: XOXO, You Rock, U.R.A. Q.T, Love, Sweet, Hug Me, Text Me, Cutie Pie, Be Mine… the sweet sayings are endless!

All of the colours look so pretty together, and would make a lovely personalized gift for the loves in your life!!

XOXO
Erika

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25 Days of Christmas Baking!

Happy December!! Can you even believe it’s almost time for the holidays ONCE AGAIN?! Whether that means for you cheesy movies, cookies, and celebrating with friends and family or just a quiet relaxing last month of the year before new adventures next year!

It’s also been ONE year since I started this blog. That’s hard to believe. I have had so much fun sharing my adventures this past year, even though I haven’t posted nearly as much as I wanted to. I really enjoyed doing the 30 day blog challenge I did last December and wanted to do a similar challenge to keep me motivated. That and I clearly need some structure for my posts (I sound like my high school teacher!!) 😀

Which got me to thinking (UH OH!)… a sadly neglected hobby of mine that I’ve been craving to do more of all year is BAKING!!! I already need to do a little bit of baking for work and gifts this month, plus I really want to increase my skills and most of all have a ridiculous amount of fun. So I rolled it all up into one and created a 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BAKING CHALLENGE!

I didn’t want to leave it too open or make it all cookies, so I’ve added a bunch of festive ingredients like peppermint, chocolate, and even a little bit of fruit (you mean healthy things in MY Christmas treats?!?), along with different varieties of baked goods. This is what I’ll be trying to tackle up until Christmas Day:

25 Days of Christmas Baking Challenge
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Today is your lucky day! ♧ St. Patrick’s Day ideas!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Rainbows, chocolate coins, and good luck galore! I’m not Irish, but it’s just a fun day to celebrate SOMETHING even it’s just because you can!

This years’ celebrations fall on a weekend so there’s lots of time to throw together a super fun party (I’m celebrating with my cat so there’s no excuse!)

I completely forgot to pick up some Lucky Charms ~ so I made my own (sort of – they’re probably not AS tasty!):

They’re after me Lucky Charms!

Everything – the bowl, spoon, and marshmallow charms (no cereal bits here either ;)) – is completely made of felt with stuffing on the inside. It’s nice and squishy so I may never get it back from Sugar! Yes that’s also a leprechaun hat you’re spotting!

I also made a tasty shamrock shaped pizza:

Obviously pizza is not very Irish, but jalapenos are playing along with the green theme! You could also try green peppers, avocado, or even rainbow vegetables to try to find the pot of gold at the end!

This awesome and very easy recipe comes from good ol’ Good Housekeeping – which you can find here!

How else to become absolutely giddy as a leprechaun?!

♧ Add a dash of green dye to your morning cup of milk or evening bevvie!
♧ Or maybe a dash of Bailey’s Irish Creme in your coffee or hot chocolate would pick you up 🙂
♧ Add some rainbow to your eyeshadow or nails as rainbows scream St. Patty’s as well!

And remember to wear that green so you don’t get pinched 😉

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