bows. bows. bows.

bows make lovely little presents.

I adore hairbows. 

I'm not entirely sure where this all stems from, but all I know is that the moment I discovered them I never turned back.  Apparently it wasn't completely my decision either, there are images of me at a very young age proudly wearing a variety of big fluffy hairbows.  I'm sure this surprises no one.

So, of course what could be sweeter than making your own little hairbows?  Not a whole lot.  This little project was the result of my darling little cousin's ninth birthday.  Although we had celebrated her birthday earlier in the month with large amounts of presents and cake I still wanted something special to hand her on the actual day.

The logical result was hairbows.  I think I may have babysat her a few too many times when she was younger, as she has adopted a few of my more quirky habits, namely hair twirling, a very large collection of headbands and a huge amount sass.

This  D.I.Y was adapted from this little bow belt project I had made earlier in May.  They were super quick to make, three took 20 minutes.  My cousin got the blue one but I got the black and red ones, which are somewhat reminiscent of Madeline...maybe I've been reading too many french children's books.  Maybe this explains something.

Pick some lovely, cheerful fabric.

Cut a strip that is 10" by 3.5".  If you want a bigger, fluffier bow cut the strip wider, ie. 6".

Fold the strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch.  Press and turn inside out, pressing flat.

Stitch short ends together.  Press seam and turn so seam is on inside.  Press flat.

Cut a smaller 2" by 3.5" strip and sew in the same way as above, stitching the length, pressing and turning inside out.  Wrap smaller piece around the centre of the larger piece tightly so that it looks like a bow.  Mark how how the shorter piece needs to be and sew the short ends together.  Make sure it's not too small, the fabric does need to fit through the centre!

Pull the larger folded piece through the smaller ring.  It helps if you start with a corner.  Centre the smaller piece and fluff, you're pretty much done!

yay your sweet little bow is finished!  While you're at it you my as well make a few extra ones.

Now it's time to turn it into a hair clip.  Search through all the drawers in your house until you find some random ugly hair clips you never wear anymore. 

Glue them to the back of your hairbow with a glue gun and you're done.  How very sweet!

She now has one more to add to her collection! She's just the cutest, and has the best hair.  A love of purple and blue hair seems to be genetic...xo.

off to market...

pretty signs make me the happiest.  Some lovely kale is peeking around the corner.

Summer adventures are my favourite.  Last minute decisions.  Impulsive choices.  Doing things simply because you actually have the time to.  This would be one of those days.

After an impromtu delivery of cupcakes to some friends at the farmer's market last week fragments of discussions about selling cupcakes at the market had been swirling around. 

Such thoughts were initially flipped off, after all why in the world would someone want to buy something that that they could bake on their own or that I just usually gave them?

Well, after a week of having these things filtering through the back of my mind I decided to just go for, after all its summer and I love anything that involves pretty, lovely things.  Getting to make delightful signs and make a pretty display?  Yes and yes.  I could have really cared less if I actually sold anything, luckily I got to look at pretty things and make a little bit of a profit!

before they began to melt everywhere in the sun.

the absolute best hot pink cake stand ever.

all my favourite pretty things.  vintage tablecloth.  vintage johnsonware and petalware plates and probably the most floral money box at the market!

more little cupcakes, with mint from the community garden.

little sunlight angels.

just the happiest!

It was a beautiful way to spend a warm summery evening.  Will it happen again?  Likely not, but thats the best part of summer, anything really can happen on a whim.  Thanks Dayna for letting me share your table with your gorgeous vegetables!  xo.

put a bird on it.

multiple birds are always better than one.
Apparently it's time to move out of the kitchen and into the craft room!

This little craft project all began with a very lovely trip to Vancouver back in May.  While wandering around Granville Island me and my mother came across a little booth selling beautiful things from India.  Scarves, clothing, gorgeous printed textiles, and small little bowls of hand carved wooden stamps were scattered throughout the space.

My first impulse, whenever I see anything small, intricate and beautiful is that I want it.  Generally reason kicks in at some point and I can usually walk away without handfuls of lovely, entirely unnecessary things. 

Not this time.

The carved wood was absolutely gorgeous, and the fact that I have some, very limited, experience with fabric printing and painting was enough to convince me that I might actually use these.  And it wouldn't be the absolute worst thing if they sat on my shelf for a bit, they are so lovely....

little, lovely wooden bird and star stamps.
Like most projects I actually had very good intentions of doing something with these stamps, and brought a little bottle of purple ink home.  It just took a few months for those things to become something. 

So here we go!  The stamps were super fun to block print with, and I have a feeling many more things in my closet are going to have birds appearing on them.  After all, you didn't even notice this shirt until a put a bird on it...

very lovely parma violet and some practice runs.
stamp to your hearts content!

finished printing.

its finished!  the little bird is my favourite.
stars and birds.
All in all a very amusing little summer afternoon project.  Hopefully there will at least be a few more before school returns and life proceeds to go absolutely insane again!  xo.

mint chocolate cupcakes and wooden skies.

mint chocolate cupcakes, with my absolutely favourite frosting.
 This week has been a very "little suzy homemaker" week.

Tuesday was spiced apple muffins from smitten kitchen, and as I type this homemade pizza, inspired by one of my lovely Anna magazines is in the oven.  These were Wednesday's adventure.

Although muffins are delicious and a most delightful snack they are not dessert, and will never be dessert.  Dessert has to involve copious amounts of frosting, chocolate and adorable plates and the first two were very much lacking.  I decided to fix this problem by baking my absolute favourite thing: cupcakes.  Perhaps it is the lovely swirls of frosting, the adorable petite size of them or more likely, the large quantities of delicious buttercream, but I absolutely adore them.

I have been waiting for a while to bake these, the peppermint extract that I made is finally ready, and my mint plant is somewhat selfishly taking over its allotted space in my garden.  So obviously this was the first logical thing to do! 

The last time I made these was the past fall, during a somewhat terrible week turned wonderful when The Wooden Sky happened to be playing in the city.  That week became wonderful mostly due to the fact that I adore both cupcakes and The Wooden Sky and the combination is even more fantastic.


the mint extract! the mint extract! hanging out
with our lovely bunny cookie cutter that just happened to be around.

the dry ingredients.  Martha Stewart would be ashamed I didn't sift the cocoa powder.
add all the wet ingredients and mix until it looks chocolately and delicious.
fill baking cups approximately 2/3 full.  (note that they are way more full, this is a reoccurring issue.)
beautiful and awaiting their lovely frosted tops!
the much used, much loved frosting recipe. 

the lovely garden mint gets folded into the buttercream.
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart, who I shameless admit was my childhood role model.  I realize other children probably had Barbie, the Spice Girls and/or a variety of superheros but I had Martha.  That probably explains a lot.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes
modified from the much adored martha stewart

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I love the Dutch!)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk (if you happen be like me and enjoy baking on a whim with a very empty kitchen you can make your own buttermilk by adding between 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar to some milk and letting it sit for a minute to thicken!)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder (sift this first to make extra-smooth batter!), sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add in eggs, one at a time, making sure they are thoroughly incorporated before adding the oil and water.  Add in the peppermint last.  This creates a very liquidy batter, don't be frightened, it will bake into beautiful, moist cupcakes soon!

Taste the batter.  If it isn't minty enough add a bit more extract.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and fill 2/3 of the way full.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.  Let cool while whipping up your gorgeous buttercream!  Makes 15 or so, again I tend to fill the cupcakes a bit higher than directed.

Mint Buttercream
my most favourite frosting recipe.

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 milk
1/4 mint leaves, finely chopped

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Add the butter.  Pour in the milk a bit at a time and beat until fluffy and a bit shiny, about 3-5 minutes in a stand mixer.  Sprinkle in the finely chopped mint and carefully fold in.

Frost cupcakes to your heart's content with an offset spatula!  If you would like to create whimsical swirls of piped icing, I suggest doubling the recipe above, otherwise you will have very small swirls.

delectable looking cupcakes waiting innocently to be devoured.
Arrange on your loveliest little cake stand and eat while nostalgically wishing The Wooden Sky would come back to the city and being very glad that you still have a decent chunk of time until you have to start thinking about school.

my imagined adventure no.1: Paris.

the very lovely Paris. 
image from Le Fashionesque
I have always wanted to go to Paris.

Perhaps it the intrigue of the beautiful sounding language that I only partially mastered in school, or the delightful, careful little sweets in adorable french patisseries, or the easy glamour with which Parisians appear to hold themselves.  Whatever it is, its enthralled me from a very early age.

Hearing stories from my mother's travels through Europe her short visit in Paris was always my favourite.  The hotels she stayed at.  The things she saw.  The food she ate.  The clothes she bought.  I have always dreamed of experiencing all of that for myself.  However, since I appear to be much better at daydreaming than actual planning, today has become a bit of miniature adventure to Paris, in the form of gorgeous photos.

Nowhere near as good as an actual adventure through the small cafés, boutiques, parks, grande boulevards and narrow streets of the real city, it is delightful to look at nonetheless.

A friend's recent adventure to Paris brought back this lovely little photo and the buttons below and sparked more french daydreams.

Vintage French buttons sewn onto the loveliest little card.
The most beautiful French Macaroons from the infamous Ladurée.  I'm sure they taste like a dream.
image from Andrea
I feel like I have been told multiple times that I would love Paris.  I feel like this is quite possibly accurate.  However, it will still be awhile before this theory can be entirely proven. 

I have fallen in love with so many parts of Paris through photos that I cannot imagine what it will be like when I finally get to see it in person! 

I adore the architecture of old Paris, especially the whimsical, nature-inspired curves of art nouveau.  I can only wish that we paid as much attention to the detail of transit stops here as Hector Guimard did in 1900.
metro images taken on request, much to my great delight.
image by kaili brown.

the wonderful Châtelet metro station.
image by kaili brown.
 I would love to be visiting this boulangerie right now.

best facade ever.
image from Samuel So
whimsical French carousels.
image from Marie Guillaumet
My love of carousels goes without saying, much to the confusion of all my friends.

I wish I was sitting in this adorable little café right now.
image from Samuel So

image from Sarah Ross

So long for now Paris.  Perhaps I will see you soon.  xo.

Oscar Wilde and Rhubarb Tarts

gazing out over the garden with some freshly baked rhubarb tarts.
And so it begins.  

Thoughts about blogs have been swirling in and out of my head for the past bit, but it hasn't been until lately that all those fleeting thoughts have materialized into something more solid, so here we go!

I am very much a prairie girl, being just as much mesmerized by large fields of sunlit wheat as by very large mountains or dense forests.  There is just something so very lovely about vast, never ending expanses of space.  So, I feel it's rather fitting that this blog begins with rhubarb, one of very few fruits that actually survives here.
I'm involved with our local fruitshare and as a result spent a very calm, peaceful evening picking rhubarb.  I adore rhubarb and could not have been happier to have come home with such a large bundle.

glowing in the evening sun.

   After spending a morning making jars of compote and reading Dorian Gray, there was still a very large amount left.  What to do with it?  True to form, after spending an evening looking through recipes I spied this one.  Generally I am quite wary of tarts.  My oven hates tarts.  It will acceptably bake every flavour of cupcakes, fluffy angel food cake and any kind of cookie, but it refuses to bake pies, galettes and tarts.  I have tried hundreds of pie crust recipes with every kind of ingredient and the result is always a rather annoying mix of burnt bottoms and undercooked centres.

glistening with melted brown sugar.
   For some still unknown reason I decided that this recipe was going to be different.  I love Smitten Kitchen.  Her recipes are always divine looking, but my oven was unaware of all of this, and I was afraid it would remain uncooperative.  Miraculously they turned out beautifully.  The thin cornmeal crust was light and perfectly golden, no burnt bottoms in sight!  Hooray!  This may very well become the pie crust for everything now.

rhubarb filling gets spooned into the centre of each little circle and the edges get carefully folded up into sweet little pies.

just lovely.
My recipe is almost entirely the same as the one from Smitten Kitchen.  However, a few things have been swapped around, mostly as a result of one's kitchen not being entirely stocked at 9:30 p.m. on a holiday...
The original recipe called for corn flour.  I had none so this became an increase in the amount of all purpose flour and corn meal involved.  If you do have corn flour use 1 cup and reduce the flour to 1 cup. and the cornmeal to 1/2 cup.  I also swapped the cream for skim milk, still flaky, delicious and slightly more healthy.

Again, no vanilla beans were floating around my kitchen cupboards, so I left them out.  However, if you happen to have some lying about add 1/2 a vanilla bean, with seeds scraped at the beginning of making the compote, and remove at the end, I'm sure it would taste even more beautiful!

Rhubarb Tarts
modified from smitten kitchen which was adapted from Good to the Grain
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces (if using unsalted butter add 1 teaspoon of salt to dry ingredients.)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons skim milk
2 egg yolks
1 batch Rhubarb Compote (recipe below)

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or your fingers until the consistency of bread crumbs.  Stir the eggs and milk into the mixture and mix gently.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a single ball.

Divide dough into 10 even balls and flatten each piece of dough into a five inch circle using the heel of your hand and gently pressing out the edges with your fingertips.

Place three tablespoons of the rhubarb compote into the centre of each piece of dough and fold us the edges, overlapping as you go around the circle.

Carefully transfer the tarts to a baking sheet using a spatula.  Either line the baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease it with butter to keep the tarts from sticking.  Place in the freezer and freeze until firm, at least one hour or up to two weeks, tightly wrapped.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake from frozen for approximately 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden and the bottoms are golden brown.  Serve warm, with the bubbling rhubarb or at room temperature.  They can be stored up to two days in an airtight container or can be kept in the freezer until needed and baked on a whim!  Makes 10.

Rhubarb Compote

3 1/2 cups of rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup minus one tablespoon brown sugar

Place three cups of rhubarb in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar.  Heat on medium low, covered, for 15 minutes.  It will thicken and trade its lovely pink colour for a rustic red-brown. 
Uncover and turn up the heat to medium.  Cook for another 15 minutes or so, or until the rhubarb is soft, thick and entirely broken down.  Add in the remaining rhubarb, pour in a bowl (or multiple bowls to cool faster) and place in the fridge to chill. 

The compote lasts for up to one week in the fridge and is also delicious on yogurt!

Serve on lovely little vintage plates on a sunny afternoon and eat while leisurely reading The Picture of Dorian Gray and watching the world meander by!