When I came across this recipe for bran muffins, I’m pretty sure that my heart fluttered as I thought, ‘could this be my ticket to bran muffin love?’ Much to my dismay, I’ve always loved the idea of bran muffins, but not the food itself. I may be trying in all the wrong places, but thus far, every version I’ve tried has either been too dense, dry, or tasteless…or some combination of the three.
The winning aspect of this recipe is the combination of pureed raisins and molasses. When combined, the duo creates a deliciously deep and complex flavor, which compliments the nuttiness of the bran perfectly, as well as imparts a remarkable level of moistness. If you’re interested in a truly elevating experience (in the world of bran muffin eating, of course), eat one straight from the oven, when it’s toasty, chewy, and nearly dream inducing. A word from experience, don’t resist a second one. You just won’t win.
*I would highly recommend adding one cup of frozen berries, as their lightness is a nice compliment to the otherwise rich muffin.
Up until recently, I had an aversion to yellow gold jewelry. In fact, I am pretty sure that as an adolescent I swore that I would ‘never ever’ wear yellow gold jewelry. So it comes as no surprise that I am now eating those words, like most other statements that I made when I was fourteen.
To say that I have overcome my aversion is a slight understatement. More accurately, I am having a full-on affair with yellow gold. My gold pieces are the ones that I first reach for when trying out jewelry in the morning…and are often times the ones that make the cut. Sadly, (due to the aforementioned aversion) I have a very limited selection to choose from. So, imagine my excitement when I found this gold bracelet at a thrift store for a mere few bucks (total win!). I tried wearing it a few times as it was, but found that it was a bit too chunky. Plus, it pulled my arm hairs – ouch! Isn’t that the worst?
I realized how easily I could use the metal pieces to make a statement necklace, which is a piece that I’d had my eye out for. I wanted it to be bold, but not too intricate or over the top. So, enter some chain, a clasp, and pliers, and voila…a necklace was born!
This necklace has been the perfect piece to punch-up an outfit, and has therefore been in heavy rotation. So much so, that I think it’s time for me to find a new one, if only for the sake of mixing things up. Luckily, I have a few leftover metal pieces, and an idea in mind, so I just may have another the post soon. Talk about the bracelet that kept giving!
I have a confession to make. After finding this bench at a thrift store, I was quite excited to get started right away. We had been in need of some secondary seating, and this bench was the perfect size for our intimate (read: small!) living room. So within a week of purchasing it, I had scraped off the old paint, sanded it, primed it, painted it, bought the cushion foam, researched and purchased the cushion fabric…and then stopped. Six months later, after feeling like a complete slug, I finally cut the pattern pieces for the cushion cover…but then stopped (yet again!). Finally, a full year (and many moments of guilt) later, I sewed the box cushion cover. You’ve read that right; it took me one and half years to complete a project that takes a mere few hours. What makes it worse, is that I kept the bench in the living room that whole time, as if it were actually usable. I know, I am shaking my head at myself while I write this.
Procrastinating in projects is a bad habit of mine. I will make my way through 75% of a project and then drop it due to losing interest, getting distracted by a new project, or because I’ve come upon a hurdle. It feels silly to admit, but I saw the box cushion cover as a hurdle. I hadn’t sewn one before, and the unfamiliarity of it got the best of me. I am used to working with clothes, which have movement, and for that reason seem more forgiving of imperfection. Since a box cushion basically sits on showcase, I was nervous that any mistake would show. It’s silly, I know. Again, I am shaking my head at myself.
Once finally taking the plunge, I found that my nerves melted away almost immediately. With those being gone, I was reminded of just how refreshing and enjoyable it is work on a project outside of my normal area of craft. It helped that I started by making piping for the first time. Whoa, is that fun. As in – I want to add piping to everything now – kind of fun. Plus, It helped that I had a great tutorial to reference from Design Sponge.
The bench has been a great addition to the living room…now that it is finished and actually looks like it belongs there! The pattern of the cushion adds a nice mix to the current assortment of patterns and textures that are in the room, and the additional seating is very welcome. Beyond the practicality though, it is a nice to have a daily visual reminder of the benefits of stretching myself outside of the norm, and trying something new.
Cowl Necks have always felt a bit too elegant for my personal style, and therefore haven’t held much of a presence in my closet. Yet when I came across this dusty lavender option at a thrift store, there was no way that I could pass it up. The color, coupled with the garment washed cotton jersey and silk combo, grabbed my heart and took it hostage. (Coincidently, the last cowl neck I owned was also lavender…I suppose the combo must persuade me against my norm?)
I figured that I could easily fiddle around with the volume, and drape it in a new way. I was right about the fiddling, but not about the ease. After having spent a good hour playing around with my options (most of which were trying to find a drape that didn’t have funny puckers or bulges), I lowered my expectations, settled on an option, and hand stitched it into place. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I absolutely love the imperfect look of the drape, as it gives the top a sophisticated untidiness of sorts.
Small REjuvenated projects, such as this one, are so refreshing. They are a great reminder that sometimes it is best to keep things simple, which is often times a concept that seems to escape me. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more projects like this in the future!
This wood box was originally packaging for a pair of chopsticks that were gifted to me, which essentially made it a two-fer gift – Score! (RIP 30 Rock). When it comes to packaging, I can be a bit of a hoarder. Whether it is a bottle, packing from a bar of soap, or a sticker off of a pizza box (the list and obscurity level continues), I stash it away for the potential of later inspiration. However, for a reason unexplainable, I decided that this box was one that I could toss. It didn’t take long before I realized, ‘wait, what, that’s the answer to my jewelry organization!’ You see, I had been in desperate need of an organizational system for my jewelry, as my current ‘system’ (if it deserved such a title) involved a heaped-up mess that required untangling nearly every morning. Those are precious minutes! I was having trouble finding an option that was not only small enough to fit on my counter, but that also had an aesthetic that matched my bathroom. Enter fate, in the form of old packaging…which I then had to scrounge out of the garbage.
I am a major fan of mixed aesthetics. In the case of this box, the natural element of stained wood, paired with a glitzy, and slightly vintage, edge of gold leaf. As usual, working with golf leaf is a bit finicky, but it was even more difficult when working within such a confined surface area as this edge. I felt like I was applying it in such a haphazard way, but in the end, the look was layered and a little rough, and even missing gold leaf in a few spots, which only supported the mixed aesthetic even further.
Now I happily spend my morning’s tangle free and rested by a few additional minutes. Plus, I have a pleasing little accessory center to help set a creative vibe for the day.
After having spent four days traversing around urban Paris, we were so ready to soak in some rays, and relax in the French Riviera. We stayed in Nice, and from there took day trips to a couple of surrounding areas. The Riviera is immensely beautiful, with blue sunny skies, gradated aqua waters, and colorfully painted buildings. The community is friendly, the food delicious, and the vibe relaxed. I could go on and on, but I’ll cut myself short, and instead leave you with the moments that had me smiling from ear to ear.
The striking views of Nice from atop Castle Hill
Shopping Nice’s daily market for dinner ingredients…where due to the abundant amount of appetizing foods, we extended it to lunch and snack shopping as well.
Snacking on mini macarons…whose adorableness seemed to make them all the better.
Colorful buildings set against a vibrant blue sky.
Relaxing in Villefranche, where we rotated between eating and beachside lounging. Hello, perfect day!
Eating our way through the 90+ flavors offered by Fenocchio Glacier ice creamery. We knocked four off of the list, but boy we could have done some major damage had we been there longer.
Visiting our second of three city-states, Monaco. (Only Rome is left!)
The stalagmites and stalactites at the Observation Cave in Monaco were incredible. I felt like I was on the set of The Goonies.
Riding the Promenade des Anglais via Velo Bleu bike rentals.
This past June, Ricky and I ventured in France – first in Paris, then in the Côte d’Azur. Between the cityscape and endless sites of Paris, to the calm vibe and picturesque views of the Riviera, we felt both invigorated and relaxed. It was just the type of balance that we were hoping for!
Although I feel like I could deem every moment of the trip as a favorite, here are the moments that truly left me feeling like I was on cloud nine.
Happening upon markets, quaint streets, and adorable building facades.
Taking in the astonishingly beautiful architecture and stained glass of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Croissants and baguettes a-plenty.
Climbing the Eiffel Tower…
…and the subsequent views.
Passing time at a street café with drinks and french onion soup, as the rain poured around us.
Renting bicycles from Velib, and riding through the city.
Marveling at the sheer size of the Louvre, not even to mention its tremendous art collection.
Spending time along the Seine.
Snacking on delicious crêpes.
Relaxing in the Champ de Mars.
Stay tuned for my French Riviera favorites!
When squash ravioli is offered on a menu, I’m left with no choice but to order it. It may seem as though I am entertaining other dishes, as I continue to peruse the entire menu, but really, its a facade. That is unless there is another option that has a combination of either bacon, avocado or goat cheese…in which case I get unnecessarily overwhelmed by my indecisiveness, and hastily blurt one out when the waiter is taking orders. At least I can take comfort in knowing that either one will likely be delicious.
I love the combination of sweet pillow-y squash, encased in a toothsome pasta, and topped with savory sauce. The whole combination can feel downright elevating at times. The recipe I used this time is from Saveur, and it is one of the best I’ve had. The brown butter adds a deliciously nutty note, while the earthiness of the pesto nicely balances the sweetness of the squash. The total cook time is a bit long, but trust me, it will feel worth it in the end (especially if you’ve made extra to freeze for a later [lucky] date).
*A few tweaks to note (based on personal preference, as well as what was available in my pantry).
Pasta Dough: I followed this pasta dough recipe, instead of using won ton wrappers. I did alter the recipe slightly, by using one cup of all-purpose and one cup of semolina flour.
Squash Filling: I omitted the sage and oregano, and instead used three tsp. thyme. I omitted the nutmeg, and only used two cloves of garlic instead of four.
Pesto: I used one cup of oregano, and one cup of basil. Rather than hazelnuts, I used toasted walnuts (this was purely due to not having hazelnuts on hand. Hazelnuts sound awesome…so I will definitely make sure to have them next time).
Hi, I’m Caitlin!
Welcome to Blanche & Thirteenth - a site that's one part craft, one part food, and one part lifestyle. I'm a mother, a creative, and a cuddle advocate; who has a deep appreciation for colorful food (mostly naturally occurring, but I like to strike a good balance ;-) and taking adventures. Join me as I find ways to get my hands a little dirty, fill up our bellies, and seek out celebration in daily life. Want to know more...
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