Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Food

Like most of us – I adore chocolate chip cookies. In fact, they might be my favorite cookie of all time.

The comforting combination of vanilla, butter and chocolate is pure bliss in a baked format. Not to mention there’s nothing quite like the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.

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Seriously – this is true Americana.

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During the holidays, I shared a trick for making your average CCC a little more festive: substitute the chips for chopped pieces of Andes candies.

This trick also proved useful during Saint Patrick’s day and is, overall, just an easy way to add a fun twist to this American cookie classic.

The freshness of the Andes mints actually lighten up the cookie and provides for a more complex flavor profile.

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Don’t care for mint? The vanilla base to these cookies is just a canvas waiting to be painted!

Try adding different candies and share your creations below!

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We sold our house!

Life Update

Sorry I’ve been MIA these last few weeks — we’ve been busy MOVING! That’s right, WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!

These last few weeks have been full of so many emotions, but we’re so proud of the work we put into #project12SummitStreet and couldn’t be more excited to begin the next phase of our life.

Onto decorating our new house and making it the place we call “home!”

“Seamster Mouse” – Freehand Embroidery, Nostalgia & Everyday Magic

Art

I’ve been told that as a toddler I used to watch “Cinderella” relentlessly. I’d sit totally enraptured, watching Ella’s story unfold in the 1950’s classic before asking my mother if we could watch it again. And again…and again.

While admittedly I’m a lover of just about all Disney tales, “Cinderella” will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s impossible for me to watch the film without feeling nostalgic – remembering all the times I watched it with my mother and grandmother, lost in the magic that came to a woman who persevered through hardship with courage and kindness.

My latest embroidery piece has ties to  the “Cinderella” story and was inspired by her rodent friends who gallantly help her sew the dress she first intends to wear to the Prince’s ball.

This piece was just about 2 months in the making (who’d have thought mouse hair would take so long to embroider?) but I do believe Seamster Mouse looks better in color. He’s come a long way since his initial sketch!

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Unlike in the movie where the mice help “Cinderelly” with the original dress that gets torn by her stepmother and step sisters, I imagine this mouse might be helping with the final product. This is hinted at in the blue thread wound on the spool next to him.

The challenges of this embroidery were 1. making a mouse look cute (not creepy) and 2. the use of metallic thread in the represented sewing needle. If you’ve never used metallic embroidery thread before, I highly recommend that you proceed with patience and wine! It’s constantly fraying ends are enough to drive a novice embroiderer positively mad.

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But perhaps the biggest challenge was giving the piece a strong sense of story. I wanted viewers to wonder who this mouse was and what exactly he was up to with that needle and thread. Similar to my other fiber pieces, I wanted to instill the theme of everyday magic.

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I love that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at this piece and I love that it reminds me of one of my favorite stories. Perhaps most of all, I love that it reminds me of my own upcoming wedding and fairytale soon to come.

A Drawing Inspired by the Late Alexander McQueen

Art

It’s finally April and although it doesn’t feel like it in New York, I am so incredibly ready for spring. Unsurprisingly, this yearning is finding its way into my work.

Today I’m sharing a recent drawing of mine that plays homage to the transition period between winter and spring – although the weather may start to warm, we must always endure the inevitable period of rain and mud before the flowers begin to bloom .

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This drawing which hints to the described seasonal transition was also directly inspired by the late Alexander McQueen – a fashion designer who was more artist than designer. See the original here:

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I was so taken with this piece when I first saw it. The dress felt like the perfect mix between high fashion and a fairy’s ensemble, and you can’t help but be drawn in by the contrast between structural and organic elements.

It reminds me of something a character might wear in a modern “Alice in Wonderland.”

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Like many of my recent drawings, the piece was created using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. I’ve really taken to drawing watercolor-styled flowers with this media and enjoyed switching back and forth from blending smooth, organic shapes to going back in with sharpened tips to restructure and add detail.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Alexander McQueen, I highly recommend you check out the book Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. This compilation of his pieces was first introduced to me during my undergraduate studies by my Fiber Arts Professor and is brimming with inspiration.

You can’t be a modern artist without appreciating McQueen; it just isn’t possible!

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Fingers crossed that spring is on the horizon!

Irish Soda Bread

Food

An ever-classic addition to the Irish table: Soda Bread! While obviously a commonly prepared piece of the St. Patrick’s day dinner menu, this crusty bread is so hearty there is no reason not to enjoy it all year round!

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To be honest with you, I had never actually made Irish Soda Bread before this St. Patrick’s Day, but was inspired by this recipe on Chobani.com.

I was attracted to the inclusion of the Greek yogurt (a great way to cut calories and add protein) but also loved how few ingredients were involved!

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The other thing I loved? You don’t need yeast! Yeast is something I never think to keep in the house, so I thoroughly appreciate a yeast-less bread recipe. Check it out below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Chobani® Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt and buttermilk, and mix well.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients. Using one hand, pull together ingredients in a circular motion from the center to the outside of the bowl in circles. The dough should be soft, but not too wet or sticky.
  5. When dough comes together, turn onto a well-floured surface. Pat the dough into a round, about 1.5 inches thick and about 8 inches wide.
  6. Cut a deep cross in the loaf and poke a hole in each of the four corners.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400ºF and bake for an additional 30 minutes. To ensure bread is done, tap the bottom of the loaf-it should sound hollow.
  8. Let cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm.

Enjoy this crusty bread with corned beef, cabbage and (most importantly) a good beer!

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*Original recipe retrieved from Chobani.com

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Food

In a true New York effort, the Nor’easter has covered my tiny town in snow! With travel bans keeping us appropriately holed in at home, this morning was the perfect time to try out a new recipe and indulge in an unhurried breakfast.

Leading up to the wedding, Andy and I are doing what most engaged couples probably do: recommitting to health and wellness.

As I already workout on a daily basis, for me this means re-focusing on nutrition and finding exciting ways to eat healthy. Prioritizing health without losing flavor!

With an itch for baking, I scoured the internet for ideas and found this recipe by Ambitious Kitchen for lightened up Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

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It’s the first time I tried this recipe and was definitely impressed by the flavor – you’d never know that these muffins are made without processed sugars and contain essentially no fat! I also love the extra protein you get from incorporating Greek yogurt – always Chobani in our household!

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Check out my adapted version of the recipe below:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Chobani plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon milk (or almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (add a full cup if you’re a dedicated chocoholic!) 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. *Make sure to grease the pan well!*
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix mashed bananas, honey, vanilla, oil, egg, milk and yogurt until well combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.
  8. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. 
  9. Enjoy!

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Wedding-Inspired Artwork

Art

Lately I’ve been so incredibly immersed in wedding planning! While at first I found the whole process to be entirely overwhelming, time has given me the chance to willingly tackle the challenge and over the past couple of months I have really, truly been enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime planning experience.

Food, music, flowers and pretty dresses… seriously, so much fun!

With the majority of my brain focused on planning the perfectly romantic, elegant day, it’s not surprising that the wedding genre has found its way into my artwork.

Keep scrolling to check out my most recent wedding-inspired sketches:

With Love On Valentine’s Day

Holiday

Like most young girls, I went through periods of romantic doubt when I was younger. I used to jokingly refer to “Somebody To Love” by Queen as my theme-song, dramatically stating that never would I, a self-proclaimed oddball, find my match.

Oh how I was wrong.

Today I’m celebrating my fifth Valentine’s day with the man I’ll soon call my husband. Our first and last V-day as an engaged couple.

On this day of universal love, I’m taking a moment to be grateful for the amazing person I’m choosing to spend the rest of my life with. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate how truly lucky I am, knowing that I, the oddball, have found someone I can talk about hand embroidery projects with, who I can count on to watch every, single “Harry Potter” Freeform marathon with me, and who not only tolerates but encourages my very loud, very repetitive vocal +piano renditions of broadway musicals.

Yes, I am truly lucky.

Here’s to our last Valentine’s day as an engaged couple and to the many future holidays we’ll celebrate together as husband and wife.

Wishing everyone a beautiful day filled with love, peace and lots of chocolate.

Emily Engagement-72

ENCHANTING READ: “CARAVAL” BY STEPHANIE GARBER

Inspiration

There is perhaps nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee on a cold winter’s night. Living in Central New York, I love using the cold, dark winters as an excuse to catch up on my reading.

I adore getting lost in a book. But it’s not always easy to find out one that I can get lost in. One that presents the ideal blend of unique, like-able characters, suspense and an original story line.

For me, “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber hit all of these high points and then some. Truly, I could not put this book down.

Revolving around sisters Scarlett and Tella Dragna, “Caraval” is the story of their adventures as they are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the chance to attend Caraval – the magical once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show. Readers should not be fooled by the fairytale mystique, however, as the story quickly moves from magical to treacherous, and the girls learn that Caraval is so much more than just a performance.

There were many great elements to this read, but what I enjoyed most was the pace of the story. It constantly kept me guessing. Every time I thought I had solved the mystery, the story took me for another loop.

I am so thankful I picked up this read at the bookstore and hope that you enjoy it just as much as I did! I definitely feel more inspired for having read it.

Here’s to eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel, “Legendary” on May 29!

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A SKETCH A DAY

Art

As mentioned in my last post, this year I’m committed to sketching more. This means sketching as a means of learning and inspiration, not as a practice for finished pieces.

To help myself commit to this resolution, I’ve been challenging myself to complete a sketch a day. Whether it’s a 5-minute study or a more complete work, I’m determined to pick up a pencil (or pen, or brush) once a day and visually jot down my thoughts.

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll see that I’m doing alright in my self-inflicted challenge.

Drawing quick studies of my dog…

…drawing inspiration from what’s on TV…

…and replicating what can be found in the books in my library.

I’m even throwing in some of my favorite characters!

And while I may not be sketching every single day, I’m certainly doing more than I was. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

I challenge you to challenge yourself!

Whether it’s drawing, writing, or crafting, I challenge you to make more time for yourself and the things that you love.