Halloween Treat Idea: "Trick or Treat" Cupcakes

Here's a fun idea for a Halloween treat... 

Try Trick or Treat cupcakes - let your friends choose between one "trick" cupcake (a savory cupcake) or a "treat" cupcake (a classic sweet cupcake)!  

For the "trick", choose something harvest-y, like this bacon corn "cupcake" or a butternut squash, apple, and caramelized onion version.  A fall or Halloween-themed "treat" cupcake is always a fun go-to, like Martha's pumpkin patch cupcake.  I tried this for my coworkers; while most people went for the traditional treat, the trick was fun for those feeling adventurous! 


Michigan Peachy Keen Jam

Chicago has been windy (duh), and rainy the last few days, but all the while has remained surprisingly warm.  Going through 75 degree afternoons has had me wanting for the added bonuses of summer, particularly produce.  I've had summer things on my mind... this peach jam being one of them.  

In August I used the amazing Michigan peaches from our local fruit market to make Michigan Peachy Keen Jam for my family and friends.  It's always so nice to have a little treat to bring the taste of summer into the brisk chill of fall and dreary, cozy, darkness of winter.  Even though peach season is come and gone, feel free to try this recipe with in-season fruits.  Figs or pears anyone?

Michigan Peachy Keen Jam
Adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

3 lbs Ripe yellow freestone peaches, peeled
1 lb White cane sugar
1.5 oz Lemon juice, fresh
2-3 Branches with peach leaves


{Day 1}
Cut peaches in half, remove pits, and reserve.  Slice peaches into 1/3 inch thick slices, and place into a large bowl.  Add sugar and lemon juice, stir well.  Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to macerate in the refrigerator overnight.

Place peach pits in separate container and refrigerate overnight.

{Day 2}
Place 5 metal teaspoons into the freezer for later testing.  Extract kernels from inside peach pits by placing the pit inside a dish cloth and cracking it open with a hammer.  Take inside kernels and place in a tea infuser with a tight latch.

Put peaches into a stainless steel pot (or copper if you have it).  Stir well, and submerge tea infuser with pit kernels.  Bring to a boil over high heat for about 5 minutes.  Take off the heat, skim off the foam, and mash peaches to encourage breakdown.

Cook an additional 25-40 minutes until thickened, lowering the heat as jam continues to thicken to prevent sticking or burning.

To test jam for doneness, place a small representative sample of jam onto one of the teaspoons in your freezer.  Return the spoon to the freezer for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom of the spoon feels room temperature when touched.  Check the consistency- if it is too runny, continue to cook.  Skim remaining foam.  When cooking is complete, remove peach pit kernels and add the peach leaves, allowing to steep for 2 minutes.  Remove leaves and discard.

Pour jam into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of room at the top.  Wipe the rims clean, and attach lids.  Process jars either by putting in boiling water for ~10 minutes, or by setting jars on a baking sheet and placing them in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Remove, and set to cool undisturbed, preferably overnight.

Eat.  With toast.  With yogurt.  With oats.  With ice cream.  With a spoon.  With peanut butter.  You get the idea.

Maybe the sight and thought of peach jam will bring a little bit of a summer pep to your step :)


S's Project Apartment: Odds and Ends...

This weekend was finally the big move here in Chicago! I am officially moved into my new place, and am in the process of getting settled.  I have some furniture and accessories from my previous living spaces, and have been lucky enough to have family that is ready to part with some of their pieces, but there are still a few holes to fill.
I have super tall closets- and a lot of them (luckily!).  Since I'm a bit vertically challenged, this cute Ikea step stool will look stylish as an accessory when piled with books or with folded blankets on each step, but will be well appreciated for the height help too!
I have some counter space, but not as much as I would like.  I'm thinking of going for a rod over my sink that can hold a hanging dish rack for my drying dishes, as well as some cute containers for cleaning supplies, herbs, or even flowers.

I have lots of tables in my living area, but I think one more would be nice to hold a small lamp near the seating area.  I was looking for something that is small, cheap, and would blend into the scene.  This small white side table might be the perfect solution! I can put my smaller scale silver lamp on it to bring light to the area, but it won't overwhelm the space.
My bedroom has some unused space that I would like to fill with an area that is calming, and would be good to use for reading, nail painting, generally hanging out.  I think a small table and chair would be the perfect solution.  Still on the lookout for the perfect fit... any suggestions?  Maybe this small table would work nicely...

I'm still working on the settling and organizing process that inevitably takes forever with a new apartment.  I'm always appreciative of new sources for design inspiration and budget-friendly pieces.  If you have any, pass them along in the comments!

Happy Monday everyone :)


friday musings 10.19.12.

Happy Friday!  We are so so excited to have a sister (and fam) weekend ahead of us! L is joining me here in Chi-town to help me get settled into my new place.  With such a interior design guru on hand, it's sure to look great by the time the weekend is through :)

Besides the moving, we will have some fun walks along the lake, strolls along Michigan ave (read: window shopping alert!) and of course taking full advantage of Chicago's great eats.  On the menu: The Purple Pig for dinner and The Oak Tree for a casual brunch.  

Wish me luck with the move... Expect an update next week! Here's to the best weekend ever!


SLR Favorites: Neiman Marcus for Target

The Neiman Marcus for Target lookbook has been released!  Here are some of our favorites from Tracy Reese, Altuzarra, Lela Rose, Rag & Bone, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, and Oscar De La Renta.  

^These too. 

December cannot come soon enough. 


Zara Home

Zara Home is here, with all the mixed textures, traditional glamour, and European flair you'd expect from the apparel and accessories guru.  I'm impressed by the mix of approaches they took to styling their home pieces, as evident in their online catalogue.  


Honeycrisp Chips

I find it somewhat rare to meet someone whose favorite season isn't fall.  Have you noticed that?  There's something about the season - the cider mills, the cider mill smells, stunning jewel-toned hues, a crispness to the air that makes you reach for your favorite sweater, pumpkins and apples... 

And speaking of apples - apple chips!  Now that I live in Minnesota, home to the honeycrisp apple (yes, it was invented here), I find every excuse to eat them.  Like I needed an excuse.  

These apple chips are very easy to make, as long as you are down for some low-and-slow bake time.  Patience is required, but the reward was great.  I whipped up a goat cheese yogurt dip (some goat cheese, some plain yogurt, a little honey, all whipped together) to accompany them as a mid-morning workday snack. 

Homemade Apple Chips
adapted from Whole Living

Apples. (Go for your favorite kind) 

Using a mandolin, slice apples horizontally into thin disks; shoot for 1/8 in.  Remove seeds and arrange on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  In a 225 degree oven, let the apples bake for 2.5-3 hours, flipping halfway through.  Let cool completely and store in an air-tight container. 


Enlighten Your Monday


Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was spent having some fun playing (burgers and spiked milkshakes at 25 Degrees), and working (think: moving heavy furniture items through the pouring rain and up five flights of stairs).  A nice mix that has left me more exhausted than I was when the weekend began!

To start your Monday off on a thoughtful foot, how about a quick read while you take a coffee/tea/water break?

This was a very interesting article on why women should stop trying to be perfect.  What do you think? Thought provoking for sure.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

p.s. Have you heard about this rain room at the Barbican Center in London? How perfect to walk through a rain storm without being soaking wet on the other end of the experience!


How To: Make a Chevron Rug

This summer I took on a project of making my own rug.  I'm trying to decorate the new Chicago pad, and doing so on a very tight budget.  Did you know that rugs are expensive? Well, I learned that lesson very quickly.  The solution? Make your own! 

I knew I wanted a chic, trendy styled rug- chevron was the perfect choice.  I chose a beautiful dark teal color that will look great regardless of the season.  Here's how it was done...


An Autumn Wedding

A perfect wedding.  Happy happily-ever-after, Steph and Dave.