eat me: apple crisp.

Fall is one of my favourite seasons.  I love the crisp air, the leaves, scarves.  I love getting to switch from bright colours to wine reds, blacks, greys and navys.  I love being cozy.  I also really love the desserts that come with cooler weather, now that turning on the oven is a welcome gesture.  Pumpkins, pies, tarts, and anything apple & cinnamon.  I never get tired of apples and cinnamon, and will happily eat them in a variety of recipes all year long.  However, they somehow taste better when the leaves start to fall.
Apple crisp is one of the best combinations of those two flavours.  Simple,warm, and a mix of sweet & tart it is the perfect treat for a fall afternoon.
Apple Crisp.  (modified from this recipe at Katy's Kitchen.)

6 apples.  I like to use 3 granny smiths and 3 gala apples so that it's not too tart.
1/2 C. brown sugar.
3/4 C. flour.
1 C.  rolled oats.
a little less than 1/2 C. butter, room temperature.  (I found the original recipe a bit too buttery so I took out a few tablespoons of butter. Do as you like.)
2 tsp.  cinnamon.

1.  peel and core the apples and place into a baking pan.  I used a 2.5" 8"x8" pan for this version, but I've also made it in a 9"x13" pan, it just resulted in a much thinner layer of apples and will cook a bit quicker.

2.  mix together the sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon.

3.  add in the butter in small pieces, cutting it in with a pastry blender or crumbling it in with your fingers, stop when the butter is evenly distributed throughout the mixture, making sure there isn't any large chunks of butter remaining.  pour over your apples.

4. bake at 350 degrees for 30 miutes, until the top is brown and crisp and the apples are bubbling.  If you're baking in a glass pan remember to turn the temperature down by 25 degrees.
Enjoy your apple crisp warm or cold, curled up with a blanket on your couch with your favourite person.  Enjoy!  xo, T.

I miss this: Vancouver.

So, there were a few flakes of snow swirling through the air this afternoon.  I almost cried.  And then I decided it was time to focus on happier times, when there wasn't even a hint of snow in mind, like the week I spent in Vancouver at the end of August.  Although there was quite a bit of cloudiness the sun did peek out and I even spent one day at Kits Beach!
Some of my favourite places to visit in Vancouver are Granville Island, Main Street (which contains The Regional Assembly of Text, Barefoot Contessa and 49th Parallel/Lucky's Donuts - which are the cutest stationery store/sweetest clothing store/best coffee & donuts respectively), Kits beach, English Bay, Commercial Drive and Yaletown (mainly so I can visit The Cross Design!)
As you can tell, I spent a rather large amount of time in 49th much so that I think I was starting to get odd looks from the baristas.
I bought the cutest stationery and stamps!  So if anyone would like to be my pen pal....just let me know.
I hope you all have the sweetest week!  You can see more photos of my Vancouver adventure in my instagram feed @taylorstoesz.  xo, T.

eat me: funfetti cupcakes.

I generally tend to love desserts that are pretty, not overly sugary and are flavoured with real ingredients.  But every once in a while the six year old inside of me asks for sweet, simple and overly colourful treats. 

Enter funfetti.  I have secretly always loved funfetti, as a child I was mystified how they got the rainbow bits into the cake mix and how they didn't just melt into a weird purpley mess.  I also always thought funfetti was it's own flavour, ie. not vanilla.  Because clearly plain vanilla is just gross.  Or at least it was to my 6 year old self.  
Funfetti had been lurking on the outskirts of my mind for the last few years, ridiculous I know.  However, because I absolutely refuse to bake anything out of a box I never made, secretly assuming that the rainbow pieces were somewhat magical and impossible to recreate at home.  Until the moment that I realized funfetti was just vanilla cake with sprinkles baked in.  It took me until last year to fully realize this.  I was slightly disappointed that it was just vanilla cake after all.  But I still think the sprinkles make it taste different, or at least more fun.

These were super fun to make, every once in a while I think it's alright to break out mass amounts of sprinkles.  Especially if they turn into pretty rainbow coloured cupcakes.
Funfetti Cupcakes.  (vanilla base cupcake recipe adapted from here.)

1 1/4 C. cake flour.
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder.
1/2 tsp.  baking soda.
2 eggs.
3/4 C. sugar.
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
1/2 C. vegetable oil.
1/2 C. buttermilk.
1/2 C. sprinkles.

_sift together all off your dry ingredients.
_in an electric mixer beat the eggs for a few seconds and then add the sugar.  beat and add the vanilla and oil.
_reduce mixer speed to low and alternate adding dry ingredients and milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
_mix in sprinkles.
_pour into prepared muffin pans and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees until golden/a toothpick comes out clean.
_frost with your favourite vanilla buttercream.

Vanilla buttercream. my most favourite recipe.
1 1/2 cups icing sugar.1/4 cup flour.1/4 cup butter, room temperature.1/4 milk.1 tsp vanilla extract.
Whisk together dry ingredients.  Add the butter.  Pour in the vanilla and then the milk a bit at a time and beat until fluffy and a bit shiny, about 3-5 minutes in a stand mixer.  
 I hope these add a bit of colour and fun to your week!  xo, T.

mint & peonies.

So, unlike last summer which was full of constant baking and crafting and making, this summer, so far, has been full of adventures, books, bike rides and coffee dates.  Namely, things that I'm not really used to blogging about.  But I missed you guys so I thought I would try and mix it up and see what happens!
When I moved out in January my dad gave me this sweet little vintage cabinet for our living room.  I really wanted to refinish/re-paint it right away, but seeing as how there was 6 feet of snow on the ground and and I didn't really want to cover my hardwood floors in mint paint it got moved in as-is.  I finally got around to re-painting it today, and I am so so glad I did it.  It looks so much better, a little mint paint can fix anything!  I love the curves along the bottom and how the front hinges down to open up.  It's the perfect size to display pretty blooms, sweet dishes and lovely little bottles of perfume!
 Do you have any chipped, unfinished or sad looking pieces of furniture lying around that need a little love?  Make it your summer project!  It can give a completely new life to an object that's been sitting in your basement forever and make you love it all over again.
To re-paint my cabinet I sanded all the surfaces just enough to rough up the surface a bit, wiped it all down with a damp cloth to remove the sawdust, let it dry, applied one coat of primer and two coats of paint, letting dry sufficiently between each coat.  From start to finish it only took 2 and a half hours. It was a sweet way to spend my morning in my sunny backyard.
You cannot believe how happy I am to have summer and the warm weather here!  I am so excited for all the fun things the next two months hold! xo, T.

d.i.y. chalkboard paint plant pots

It's gradually starting to feel like summer here.  It snowed three weeks ago, and by this point I think we've all just decided to bypass spring and go straight to summer!

One of my favourite parts of warmer weather is when the greenhouses open and all of a sudden my parent's yard is filled with colourful blooms and new little buds.  I love love love flowers.  However, I tend to be a horrible gardener...after three weeks I get distracted and I forget to weed/water.. and everything dies.  So this year I decided to start small and manageable with pots, I feel this will end far nicer.  They make my house so much prettier!

And to make things even more fun I decided to add some chalkboard paint, because chalkboard paint makes everything far more fantastic!
Things you need:
_chalkboard paint.  I used Rust-Oleum.
_terracotta pots.
_paint brush.  And if you're fanatical about straight lines, painter's tape.
What you do:
1.  draw out your shape on your pot with a pencil.  I decided to go with two hearts and a triangle.
2.  using the paintbrush (smaller is better) paint in your shape, starting with the outline and then painting your way inwards.  If you require straight edges I would recommend taping off your shape with painter's tape!
3.  finish painting in your shape, making sure your layer of paint is smooth and even.
4.  let your pots dry according to manufacturer's directions.  Mine called for a three day drying time.
5.  one dry, prime your chalkboard surface by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk across the surface and then wiping off with dry cloth.  This helps it to erase better.
And you're done!  Now you can make a pretty label for your new plant that you can redesign on a whim!
I think these would make the sweetest housewarming gift!  Is your house or yard starting to look like summer?  xo, T.

recipe: double chocolate brownies.

These are the best brownies ever.  Fact.  Not only do they have two kind of chocolate, they also have chewy centres and crispy tops.  To me, all those things combined equal brownie perfection!  They take a teensy bit longer than some other brownie recipes, but they are 100% worth it.

If it's warm enough for an afternoon in the park where you are then these would be a perfect treat to pack.  Or, if you live where I do and you are currently spending your evenings staring out your window willing the snow banks to melt then these are the perfect reward for having to put up with winter for six months.  Whatever situation you happen to be in.  I totally wish I was having a picnic right now.
double chocolate brownies.  adapted from martha stewart.  because martha is the best.
3/4 C. butter
12 oz. coarsely chopped semisweet baking chocolate.
1/2 C. cocoa powder.
1 1/2 C. flour.
1/2 tsp. baking powder.
1 1/2 C. sugar.  (i like really rich chocolately brownies, if you aren't so much into dark chocolate ,add 2 cups of sugar)
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract.

makes one 9"x13" pan.  this recipe can easily be halved.

In a double boiler melt the baking chocolate and butter, once melted sift in the cocoa powder and mix to combine.  Sift together the flour and baking powder, set aside.  In a mixer beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and frothy, approximately 5 minutes.  Add chocolate mixture and mix until combined.  Add flour mixture and mix until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.  Grease and flour your baking pan (or line it with parchment) and pour your batter, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out with a few moist crumbs..(think less cooked than a cake, but you don't want the toothpick coming out with liquid batter stuck to it)  let cool, cut into squares and keep willing the snow to melt..

Have a wonderful day!  xo, T.

d.i.y. painted wood bead necklace.

You know what spring means?  It means not having to wear a million layers of clothing!  Which  means I can finally wear necklaces without having them getting completely tangled up in knit scarves and I no longer have to choose between being warm and wearing pretty things!
In anticipation of this warmer weather (it snowed yesterday in Winnipeg guys!) I have been in a definite necklace making mood.  I love wooden beads because you can make so many pretty things out of them, and all you need is paint - and if you're me, glitter!
I wanted something that was kind of neutral, but still fun, I've been really into grays and gold lately.  I love how it turned out, and of course the little bit of glitter makes it even better!
What you need:
_wooden beads in whatever size you like.
_a little bit of chain (optional - if you use it you also need pliers.)
_clear coat spray paint
_glitter and white glue (optional)
what you do:
_1: paint all of your beads. I find it easiest to use a small brush and paint one half  of all the beads and then go back and paint the other half.  I did two coats.
_2: if you feel like adding some sparkle this is your chance.  I mixed two shades of Martha Stewart glitter together (yellow barite + Florentine gold).
_3:paint your bead with white glue and roll through your glitter. tap off excess and let dry.  touch up any spots that got missed.
_4: I only wanted a little bit of sparkle so I glittered three of my gold beads, but do as many as makes you happy!
_5: lay out all your beads on newspaper and spray with your clear coat.  This adds a shine to your beads and locks in the glitter to keep it from flaking off.  Spray one side, let dry, turn over and spray the other side. Apply two coats.
_6:make sure your beads are completely dry before threading them onto a ribbon.  I find it easiest to thread if I wrap a bit of masking tape around the end of the ribbon (kind of like a shoelace!)
_7:  if you want , add a length of chain to your necklace after threading the beads onto the ribbon, tying it securely and trimming the ends. Note:  leave a bit more length than what I've shown, otherwise you run the risk of it unraveling and beads cascading everywhere!
You can either join the two ends of chain with a clasp or jump ring and call it a day, or if you're like me and just happen to have a scrap of chain lying around you can tie more ribbon onto the other end to make your necklace longer.

And that's it, you're done!  And now you have something else pretty to add to your spring wardrobe.  Have fun experimenting with different paint techniques and glitter, I think a polka dot one would be sweet too!
Have a lovely weekend!   Also like the straight hair?! xo, T.

And again, the prettiest pictures are by the lovely Mackenzie loewen!

recipe: lemon squares {& happy easter!}

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you're enjoying your weekend, have eaten plenty of chocolate bunnies and that it's finally starting to fee like spring, wherever you are!  It was actually above zero in Winnipeg yesterday! Hooray!

One of my absolute favourite warm weather desserts are lemon squares.  I love love love citrus-y things. I could eat lemon curd with a spoon, and have done so, on multiple occasions, actually..

Anyways, I present to you my most favourite recipe for lemon squares, the epitome of picnics, sundresses and carefree sunny afternoons!

Lemon Squares. modified from here.

3/4 C. butter, room temperature.
1/2 C. sugar.
2 C. unbleached flour.

4 eggs.
1 C. sugar.
zest of two lemons.
juice of 3 lemons (approx. 3/4C.)
1/4 C. unbleached flour.
1 tsp. baking powder.
1 tbsp. icing sugar.

    1_grease a 13" x 9" pan and line with parchment paper.
2_beat butter and sugar until fluffy, approx. 5 minutes.  add flour and mix until incorporated.  it will be super crumbly, so don't worry!  press into your prepared baking pan and bake at 325 degrees until golden, 25 minutes or so.  if you're using a glass baking pan remember to always lower the temperature by 25 degrees.
3_make the filling.  in a mixer beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thickened.  5-8 minutes.
4_add zest, juice and dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  
5_pour over your crust and bake at 325 degrees until set, around 25-30 minutes.  let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting into squares.  Enjoy!
Have a splendid week in the sunshine! xo, T.

d.i.y. tassel necklace.

So apparently it's supposed to be spring now.  Winnipeg doesn't seem to know that though, currently there are 10 foot snow banks outside my window and there were flurries of snow when I went grocery shopping this morning.  Even though our city doesn't seem to be very welcoming of warmer temperatures I am very very ready for some sunshine and some colour to start popping up in place of all this white - that is also now brown, grey and sandy :(.  But since the colour is not yet appearing outside I decided to bring it into my wardrobe with this ombre necklace of mints, greens and aquas - these colours make me happy every time I see them!
This necklace is super simple, and will have you feeling like spring in no time.  It's fairly impossible to not instantly feel happier when you're wearing something so colourful and fun!
what you need:
_embroidery floss in a variety of colours.  I chose to do a ombre gradient. Do whatever makes you happy.  one skein of thread makes two tassels, so decide how big of a necklace you want ahead of time.  mine has 15.
_needle nose pliers.
_scissors.  preferably sewing scissors.
_bobby pin.

What you do:
_2: figure out what kind of pattern you want.  I chose to do a chevron shape with a gradient of mint to aqua and teal.
_3:take your loop of embroidery floss and snip one end so that it is now multiple single strands instead of one  long strand.  divide it into two.
_4: taking one half of your thread slip your bobby pin onto one end making sure all of the ends of your floss are threaded through.  
_5:using the pin as your needle, thread your floss through one circle of your chain, starting in the centre.
_6:pull it half way through so that the length of thread is folded over the bottom of the circle of chain and there is an equal amount of thread in the front and back.
_7: cut a length of thread of the same colour and tie it around the top of the tassel to secure it, as close to the top as your can.  tie a double knot and snip the excess thread.
_8:repeat the above steps working your way outwards until your necklace is completed.  make sure all of your knots from step 7 are on the same side so that you have a back and a front to your necklace.
_9: using your needle nose pliers open the end ring on your chain and slip the ring on the other end through, using flat nose pliers to clamp down on the open ring to secure it.  clip off any excess chain.  If you like you can now use your sewing scissors to trim your tassels into any desired shape, I chose a chevron, or you can simply just clean up the messy edges and leave the ends even.
I hope adding this pop of colour to your day makes it feel more like spring, whatever the weather happens to be at the moment!
Also, notice all the pretty pictures?  They were taken by the very lovely and very talented Mackenzie Loewen.  You can find more of her awesome work here. xo, T.