Raspberry Swirl Meringues

Today I am feeling blessed to have attended the baby shower of a very dear friend. She has been mentor, colleague, and friend and I feel fortunate to have shared this special day with her.

I wanted to bring something yummy to the shower, so I brought out my favourite recipe découverte of last year: raspberry swirl meringues.

Scrumptious raspberry meringues

These are just the most scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth treats. I made them last Christmas with a salted caramel sauce (you can get my recipe here) but they are every bit as delicious without the sauce.

Hindsight’s 20-20 here, as I should have tried making blueberry meringues since my friend is having a boy, but there you go.

The recipe is dead simple (and is adapted from Style at Home magazine of November 2013):

4 egg whites

1 1/2 cups of icing sugar

1/2 cup of seedless raspberry jam

Preheat your over to 200°.

1. In a bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

2. Increase the speed and begin adding the sugar, a bit at a time until is it completely incorporated.

3. Continue to beat the sugar and egg white mixture on high speed until firm, glossy peaks form. (AKA when you can lift the beaters and the mixture stays in a good, thick peak. It took me way too long to figure that out, but no-one really tells you what “stiff peaks” means. You’re just supposed to know. Somehow. This is why I used to hate baking.)

4. Plop a spoonful of the jam into the egg white mixture and swirl it in one section of the bowl with a spatula. Dollop spoonfuls of the swirly mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

5. Repeat that step until you’ve used up all your jam and egg white mixture!

6. Bake the meringues for 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the oven.

Et voilà: la perfection!

Simply delicious raspberry meringues

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I hope your Monday is marvellously meringue-ful. That’s a word now. (I know what you’re thinking: “Stop trying to make ‘meringue-ful’ happen.”)

Have a great week, all!

***

I linked up at Fiesta Friday!

(Im)perfectly pretty posies

Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you thought they would. Cakes fail to rise. Paint refuses to cure. Flowers… well, they can just be finicky at times.

Last Wednesday I went grocery shopping (which means I came home with $60 worth of groceries and $15 in flowers). I had had a rough day and really just needed spring. I set about preparing my haul.

Pretty DIY spring arrangement

Tulips, alstromeria, carnations, and mini mums. All was right with the world. 

And then I began arranging them.

Would I do a bouquet?

DIY spring arrangement

Hmm, not quite right. Ok, let’s try something else.

DIY spring arrangement

Okay…

DIY spring arrangement

Again, it was just not sitting right.

It was around this point that everything completely fell apart (literally and figuratively). Of course, that was also the moment Erick came home and I dissolved into a big puddly mess of the-world-hates-me-why-won’t-these-flowers-arrange-themselves. I’m not proud of it. It wasn’t a pretty picture, to say the least.

He ignored me and went about his business. Which is generally the recommended response to this kind of DIY drama. In a fit of pique, I smashed some soaked Oasis into a green bowl.

DIY spring arrangement

As I muttered dark and vaguely threatening obscenities thoughts, I began arranging the carnations around the base of the foam.

DIY spring arrangement

I jabbed some tulips and a few more carnations into the top of the arrangement.

DIY spring arrangement

Finally, I decided that this arrangement had a plan of its own and I might as well just go along for the ride.

Pretty DIY spring arrangement

And it was the moment when I just let it go (no Frozen reference intended – we can talk about my deep loathing of recent Disney movies another time) that it all came together. I realized I’d been trying too hard, and just needed to enjoy the process. Sometimes, the pressures of the blogosphere push us to produce so much that we forget that we’re here to create. And to me, there is a world of difference between those two verbs.

Pretty DIY spring arrangement

A lovely, if less-than-planned, result if I do say so myself! Sometimes we should celebrate the fact that something just makes us happy. Perfection can be sorely overrated.

Pretty DIY spring arrangement

This would be a great and economical option for anyone pulling together a DIY wedding or event. This would make a pretty centrepiece (it might even be a bit large), and would have cost me about $30 to produce at full-price (remember that I purchased my flowers on sale at the grocery store). You could probably cut that down by half if you reduce the overall size of the arrangement.

*UPDATE* I thought it might be useful to include a cheat-sheet of sorts for this arrangement, in case you want to make one of your own.

A charming spring centrepiece tutorial

Pretty DIY spring arrangement

The world can be an uncertain place. Don’t let the little stuff get you down. Here’s to an imperfect but joyful ride!

***

This post was featured at Chronically Content and Blogghetti!

I linked up here and at Fiesta Friday. For other weekly link-ups, check out my “links” page!

Scones + Oatcakes =

Scoatcakes? Scoans?

Whatever you call them, they are delicious!

In celebration of Outlander‘s return to the airwaves, I thought I ought to do a post with a bit of a Scottish theme. Monday was also Tartan Day, so the whole thing is pretty timely! (I haven’t yet watched the first episode, because I’m one of those old new-school people who have to wait for it to come out on the ol’ internets, so no spoilers!)

As I was considering what to do in the way of DIY for this post, I got to thinking about my grandmother. She was a major fan of Diana Gabaldon’s books (in fact, I think she may have been the first in our family to read the series), and would have loved the TV show. So, off I went to my recipe box, to see if any of her recipes would suit the theme. Low and behold: the recipe for her maple oatcakes!

Oatcakes Recipe

I ended up adjusting the recipe, because the grocery store didn’t have any oat flour. So here is my version of the recipe:

Maple “Scoatcakes”

1/2 cup softened butter

1 3/4 cup white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup 35% whipping cream

Heat the oven to 350°. Grease a heavy baking sheet with 1 tbsp of the butter. (I lined mine with parchment paper.)

Mix together the flour, salt, and rolled oats. Work in the rest of the butter. Stir in the maple syrup and cream and mix well.

Make two balls of dough and place them on the baking sheet. Flatten them into circles. Cut each circle into wedges, but do not cut all the way through.

Bake them for about 25 minutes. Remove them from the oven, cut and let them cool. Serve with yummy preserves!

Delicious maple "scoatcakes" (scones + oatcakes)

I “served” my scoatcakes with a warm red pepper jelly, courtesy of my good friends Bonny and Jim. They make amazing jams and jellies, and we always enjoy sampling the (literal) fruits of their labour! Thanks, guys!

Delicious maple "scoatcakes" served with red pepper jelly

Yummy maple "scoatcakes" (scones + oatcakes)

Oh and in other amazing blog news, I bought my first REAL camera this weekend! I went with the Nikon D3300, and I am already so thrilled with the quality. I had such fun taking photos this weekend: I cannot WAIT for spring to really arrive so that I can chronicle my garden in pictures. I’m in love!

P.S. If you missed any of my other Outlander-themed posts, you can read them here or here or here!

(I linked up at Fiesta Friday and Link Party Palooza!)

Springing up all over!

Spring is finally here! And by “finally here” I mean that we’re supposed to get 3-5 cm of snow this weekend! Happy Easter, Canada!

But I’m not griping any more about the weather. My whining and complaining days are over (at least for today) and instead, I have turned my living room into its most spring-worthy self!

How I decorated for Spring for less than $20 | Flourish & Knot

That’s right: I did it all for less than $20, too! Any day where you can liven things up for less than the cost of a decent bottle of wine, is a good day in my books. And if that day also includes a decent bottle of wine… Well, so much the better!

In case you missed this weekend’s post, I got back in touch with my childhood and dyed some eggs in various pretty shades of blue and green. They now stand front and centre on my Spring “mantel”. Sadly, our home has no mantel (someday, somehow…), so I always try to give our buffet the special holiday treatment. Most days, the buffet is strewn with my junk things of Great and Immediate Importance. But not today! I am trying to turn over a new leaf by prettifying it, thereby discouraging myself from using as the largest shelf in the house. Or is that floor? I can never remember! :-)

Charming spring decor | Flourish & Knot

Pretty spring buffet decor | Flourish & Knot

The faux forsythia (fauxsythia?) branches came from Maxi (the grocery store known to the rest of Canada as the Real Canadian Superstore aka Loblaws) and were on sale for $2.49 each. Since my own forsythia (the real variety) won’t bloom (if it blooms at all) for many weeks, this will have to do for now. I’ve had the little birds for a long time now, and I can’t seem to remember where they came from. Erick would tell you they came from the Ceramic Animal House of Junk, but he would be wrong: they are actually painted cast iron.

Charming spring decor | Flourish & Knot

Look at them, perched watchfully over those gorgeous eggs! How can you not love them?!

Cheerful spring decor | Flourish & Knot

In my travels, I came across this delightful narcissus that just had to come home with me. That’s a whole lot of charm for $3.99! I re-potted it in my grandmother’s rose bowl. Once things warm up enough, I’ll re-plant them in my garden. I love how they look with the touch of yellow in the curtains!

Charming spring decor | Flourish & Knot

Stylish and cheerful spring decor | Flourish & Knot

Oh and the artichoke is also one of my favourite decor finds EVER. It came from the Inanimate Plaster Object House of Awesome.

Gorgeous narcissus | Flourish & KnotPretty spring decor | Flourish & Knot

And to give you an idea of what the living room looks like now (the last time you saw it, it was pretty unfinished)…

Our living room "in progress" | Flourish & Knot

There’s still A LOT to do (get the stereo up off the floor, for starters), but things are coming along nicely. I actually sewed the two large grey pillows myself. Maybe I’ll try to get a tutorial up sometime soon… I should also think about ironing them someday. But that day is not today.

If you want to liven up your Spring decor, but have a limited budget to work with, I really recommend that you shop your own house. Most of what I used here I already owned. You’d be surprised at how much we all accumulate and then forget about! I had completely forgotten about the little birds until I spied them out of the corner of my eye, and realized they’d be perfect. Don’t be afraid to incorporate what you already have: good decorating doesn’t have to cost a fortune. And it is totally okay to work on a room bit by bit!

Since the Easter weekend is upon us, and I don’t yet know how much DIY-ing/posting time I’ll have, I want to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best! I hope you are able to spend time with the people you love, and that this Spring-like weather inspires you to start something fresh and new.

xoxo

(I linked up at Fiesta Friday!)

An eggs-quisite Easter craft!

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I went there. Please don’t judge me too hard. I would be most egg-grieved. :-)

Easter has always been one of my very favourite holidays. I love the hymns associated with Lent and Easter (“In the Bulb There is a Flower”, “Lift High the Cross”… It doesn’t get better than that!), I love the image of new beginnings, and I love the freshness that comes with this season.

As a child, we always decorated eggs around this time. Each year we would try a different technique: dyeing, painting, colouring… And our finished eggs would end up on our “Easter tree” (a large branch my dad would cut each year and spray-paint white). So, this year I decided to revisit this childhood tradition.

I used the most common method for dyeing eggs: water, vinegar, and food colouring. Here’s the run-down of my tegg-nique: (I know, I know: boo, hiss.)

1. Use a thumbtack to prick a small hole in each end of the egg. Blow the egg out of the shell. (This took me way longer than the actual dyeing part!) Clean off your eggs.

eggs1

2. Assemble your materials: about 1/2 cup of boiling water, 1 tsp of white vinegar, and whatever food colouring you are using.

eggs2

3. Once the water boils, turn off the heat, add the vinegar and colouring, and submerge the egg using a wire whisk. This is a lot easier to do if you are using hard-boiled eggs, because the empty shells float (obvi!).

If you are using blown eggs, push them down with a spoon. Note my finely-honed egg-pushing technique. 10/10 from the Russian judge.

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eggs3

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4. When you’re happy with the colour of your egg, remove it from the water and let it dry. You’ll need to shake or blow out the water that got into the egg. Word to the wise: do this after the egg has cooled down.

eggs5

eggs7

eggs9

eggs10

eggs8

I think you’d agree that the results are egg-cellent! My egg-spectations were most definitely egg-ceeded. I think the egg puns are becoming somewhat eggs-treme. Somebody stop me before you all get eggs-asperated and become eggs-readers.

Please egg-cept my apologies. The puns have run away with me. Whatever: at least I crack myself up. :-)

***

I shared this post at Fiesta Friday!

Easy, wreath-y, beautiful

Today I attempted to put up my new spring wreath. When I say “attempted”, I really mean that I froze my butt off (because it’s only 1 degree out today, which – at the time – felt like spring) only to have my fingers get so cold that they fumbled the knot on the hanging ribbon and the whole thing came crashing down at my feet.

At which point, I decided that it was NOT spring, and took the photos indoors.

Behold: my spring wreath!

spring wreath

Note the careful use of white, in keeping with the “look” of my current landscaping:

bare branches dirty snow

I call it “Bare Branches, Dirty Snow”. I’m expecting a call from National Geographic any day.

Kidding aside, I think my wreath turned out pretty well.  I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to actually hang on my door!

It was SUPER simple to create. I already had the grapevine wreath, left over from last year’s spring wreath.

wreath starting

I tried out a couple of combinations before finally settling on the green and white theme. If I am completely honest, I was still smarting a bit from last year’s wreath failure (in which my combination of greenery and red silk peonies made for a somewhat Christmassy feel – to the point where the neighbour’s kid asked me why I still had a Christmas wreath up in July – point taken).  So, I was pretty determined that this year’s effort be light and airy and NOT Christmassy.

First I thought I’d go with a funky green and white ribbon, plus the “B” (which – conveniently – is the initial for both our last names). But I really wasn’t feeling it.

wreath1

Then I considered going with a pink ribbon and flower, which was pretty, but a little too girly. wreath2

But then out of the corner of my eye I spied the super-sweet little paper flower I snagged at a wedding recently (such a cool wedding!) and thought that would look really lovely. ALL the floral details at this wedding were made out of PAPER. And most of it came from recycled copies of Jane Austen novels. How awesome is that?!

wreath3

Then I remembered that I had some little white paper flowers left over from my travels in Mexico. Hooray for the zero-cost craft project!

So out came the glue gun and I got to work creating the wreath. You guys are intelligent human beings, so I won’t bore you with the gory details. Basically, glue on the greenery, position and glue on the “B” (or whatever your focal decoration is), and then go to town with the flowers. As we say, it is “simple comme ‘bonjour'”!

spring wreath

Here’s hoping it will warm up enough for me to actually take pictures of it in situ. Have a great week, all!

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”FiestaCreative K Kids

I shared this post at Fiesta Friday!

Garden Plans 2015

(*Sung to the tune of “Let it Snow”*)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,

Spring is clearly in denial,

Since there’s no end in sight

My garden, I’ll plan out of spite.

So it’s -24 here. That’s only 2 degrees “warmer” than in Iqaluit. Just to give you an idea of why that’s crazy:

Iqaluit copy

Yeah…

So what does a desperate Canadian do when confronted with arctic temperatures when the rest of the world is enjoying spring? She plans her garden, of course!

Now, please don’t laugh at my horrendous drawing skills. I really tried.

Backyard Garden - 2015

A lot of this plan is purely hypothetical. I planted the forsythia (down in the bottom-right corner), the lilac (right side), and the allium bulbs (right side) this fall, and with the winter we’ve had, I have no idea if they’ve survived. I’m also pretty sure that I’m missing A LOT out of this diagram, but it does at least give me something to go on.

I’ve bought some seeds and I’ve ordered some bulbs through my school, so I’m looking forward to adding some new flowers to this space. In particular, I’m excited to plant some oriental poppies, multi-coloured lupins (which always remind me of family vacations to Prince Edward Island), brightly-coloured zinnias, and “Harlequin mix” columbine.

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Photos courtesy of Burpee.com

I’d also like to see if I can grow some sweet peas up the side of the deck. We had those in my childhood garden, and I loved their little frilly petals. Bachelor’s Buttons, Anemones, and Ranunculus (a personal favourite for bouquets) are also on the menu.

I’ve taken out quite a lot from the back yard, and I’ll be removing some more lilies before I’m done. Now, before everyone jumps down my throat over that, hear me out: the garden is just too weedy-looking. I need to edit it somehow, and lilies have never been my favourite. So, if you live in the area and want free, mature lilies, just let me know.

In the front yard, I have a nice starting point. The previous owner obviously put a lot of thought and effort into her gardens. The rose bush is mature, but didn’t bloom that much last year. I’ll be researching how to improve it, because I really have very little experience with roses. If you have an tips, I’d love to hear ’em!

Front yard - 2015

I have to leave room for my dahlias again this year, because they need tonnes of sun. This garden also contains a bunch of spawn of the devil some kind of creeping flower similar to phlox (but not phlox). I’m gonna rip that sucker out because all it does is overcome everything around it. And I really don’t like bullies! :-)

I also planted two peonies in here this fall. Again, we had such a hard winter that I’m not 100% sure they’ll come up. It’s always been my dream to have a garden full of peonies, so I’m really hoping they survived!

Now, if only Spring would get a move on… Fingers crossed for some good weather this week, otherwise my next garden update won’t happen until July!