Weekend Sneak Peak: DIY Cross-Body Bag

Well, I am so happy that I managed to finish my Cross-Body travel bag. But, unfortunately, there is only enough time for me to show you the end result. DIY instructions and pictures coming soon! Have a Happy Weekend!

DIY Clutch

I love small bags and pouches because they are so so so useful and versatile. A pencil case one day, to a travel bag the next. They also make really easy and customizable gifts when your pockets are shallow. Grab some scraps and get creative! Here are a few visual steps of how I made mine. If you aren’t a sewing novice, just ignore all of the instructions.

I am particularly thrilled with how my little heart patch and teal stripe details turned out!

Measurements to cut for this particular clutch bag:
– Main bag body: 10 inches x 15inches
– Inside Pocket:7.5 inches x 5 inches

To make the inside pocket for your clutch, you must first make a mini pocket. Yes. Inception. First, sew your two fabric pieces together using a running stitch, making sure to pair your patterns facing each other.  Leave the top lip open (this will be a detail edge). You now have a little taco/pocket. Turn everything inside out so that your sewing no longer shows. Next, fold the inner sections of your top, open lip like a present. One edge will fold into the inside of the fabric pocket (concealed), while the other flap will fold over top of it (showing). Blanket stitch the edge down by grabbing the top most piece of fabric only, with your needle. In other words, don’t just stab through the whole piece.

Now for the rest of the bag. Grab your larger two pieces of fabric and stitch them together, again, patterns facing each other. Flip this inside out, leaving the top lip edge open, just like with the little pocket. With access to the inside of the bag lining, sew in place your pocket by blanket stitching the sides and bottom edges of your small pocket panel.

To close off the top of your clutch, fold the sides by pushing their corners in to make triangles, again, like wrapping a present. For my bag, I let the natural edge of the fabric act as a detail by simply using a running stitch about 1/4 inch from the bag’s top edge (instead of folding the flaps into one another like before). Finally, fold up the bottom third of your bag and blanket stitch the two edges together on both the left and right side.

I choose to add a toggle button and braided embroidery floss to act as my loop. My cute heart patch covers the otherwise exposed knot from my braided loop. These and the little strip of teal showing on the front flap are what make this particular bag special to me.

It seems that every time I go to make a little bag, I always manage to change my methods, so experiment and have fun!

Soon to come: A Cross-body & travel friendly bag. I’m headed to NYC for a Ladies Parkour Jam this weekend, so hopefully I can get it done in time. Yeah!

Lemonade with a Twist

Whenever a recipe calls for lemon juice, it’s always an obnoxiously small amount, and I’m left wondering what to do with the rest of the nearly whole, perfectly good lemon left over.
Come to think of it, I believe there is even a saying about this type of situation. ;)
Here is a simple twist to traditional lemonade: Just add strawberries!

Here’s what you can do:
– mash, crush, puree, whatever your cut strawberries (leave a few whole slices for later)
– Squeeze your nearly discarded lemon into a glass of ice water
– Stir in your pulverized strawberries
– Top off with your pretty slices & enjoy!

The crushed strawberries’ natural sugar adds just enough sweet for a perfect summer cool-down drink. I definitely recommend making this as a large batch.
Just grab a pitcher, a few more lemons, and blend away.

If want want to get really spiffy, just add some Strawberry Ice… yes, as in the cube.

Mocha cocoa cupcakes

Calling all chocolate loving, coffee fanatics! These chocolate mocha cupcakes are exactly what I’ve been craving lately, plus they are paired with a fun frosting alternative: Summer pit fire roasted marshmallows!! Or stove roasted…whichever you can manage. These cupcakes are really great for a gathering because you can have the chilled cupcakes prepared, and then later in the evening guests can roast and smoosh their own mallow. Audience participation!

This recipe is adapted from a lovely blog whose name caught my attention simply because I love the song “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison: Meet the Brown Eyed Baker. You can view the original recipe here.
Have a Happy Rest of your Weekend! Here’s my rendition~

1 & 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee – will end up being chilled!
2-3 teaspoons finely ground coffee or espresso beans
1 heaping teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter – softened
less than 1/2 cup white sugar
less than 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg

Show & Tell:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prep your muffin tins with paper liners. My muffin tins are rescued from Goodwill. <3

Coffee Mixture: Mix your espresso powder into the brewed coffee until dissolved and set aside to cool to room temperature… or throw it in the freezer to speed things up.

Flour Mixture: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Butter Mixture: In a larger-sized bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again until incorporated.

Is your coffee mixture cool enough? If so, alternate incorporating the flour mixture and coffee mixture to the butter mixture (half flour first, then coffee) mix, then add your milk.

Scoop your batter into your liners to fill about 3/4 of the way to the top. 22 minutes bake time was perfect for my over, but I would be sure to check at 18 min your first time around.

And if you are feeling like a fruity summer treat, here’s a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie recipe: No Sugar Added.

Snippets: A town called Lakeside.

This is a Happy Belated birthday post. In a little over a week, I will be able to settle into a nice gathering with friends in celebration of my birthday. What a better way to celebrate an otherwise arbitrary day than choose an arbitrary day in which to celebrate! No. I’m just kidding… we’ve just been THAT busy.

Coincidentally, my step-families’ Family Reunion happened to fall on the weekend of my birth. I can’t tell you the last time I really felt like I had taken a vacation. You see, I’ve taken plenty of trips, but trips always seem to be wrought with obligation and scheduling, and to me, that seems like the quintessential opposite of what a vacation should be.

My wonderful partner, Charlie, and I traveled to a far off land called Lakeside, Ohio, where the senior citizen locals get paid to transport the out-of-towners around on complimentary shuttle golf carts. The town is quaint and quite lovely.

Here are some photos of our lovely trip, the first post of a segment I will call: Snippets. Come to find, I am not very good at shuffle board.

For all of you stay-cationers this weekend, check out this lovely backyard treat that screams summer: Strawberry Rhubarb pie!

Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie

I love summer fruit! This year, strawberries have been doing very well, so my recent summer addiction has been a tart strawberry & rhubarb pie. I REALLY hate fruit pies that taste like someone accidentally dumped the bag of sugar right into it. A while back, I found a wonderful recipe from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite food blogs!), so after some creative tweaking, I have come up with a delectable strawberry & rhubarb pie;
no sugar added.

All you’ll need is:
– 9 inch circular pie pan, buttered
– baking sheet
– 4 cups rhubarb (sliced to 1/2 inch thick)
– 2 cups strawberries
– 1 tbs lemon juice
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 cup quick-cook tapioca (heaping)
– 4 tbs butter (cut into small pieces, but keep em cold until the very end)
– egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water whipped in a small bowl)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prep your buttered pie pan with your bottom piece of pie dough. You can use your favorite store brand or make your own (see bottom of post for recipes). In a large bowl, mix together rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, salt, and tapioca. Cut your butter into small cubes and scatter in the pie filling mix. I usually reserve half to distribute on the top of the pie, once the filling is in the pie pan.

Also, save your strawberry tops for a salad! Most people are boggled by the fact that I eat the tops of strawberries. They’re green, they’re delicious, and then you’ll have less waste.

With your second round of pie dough, pre-cut your slits, then transfer over the top of your pie. I usually just use straight slits, but little V’s or X’s or even a lattice design would be cute too. Crimp your bottom and top dough rounds together decoratively, and slather on your egg wash. Make sure to get all the nooks and crannies of your pretty crimp job, as this will keep the crust from burning.

With your pie pan placed on top of your baking sheet, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees for 28-32 minutes. Your pie should be bubbling all over and look delicious. Let cool and viola! This pie will not last long, as one has never survived Charlie and I longer than a few days. But if you reach the 3 day mark, throw it in the fridge as there is less sugar in this pie to preserve it. Also keep in mind that the sweetness of your pie will depend on the ripeness of your fruit. If you find that your pie came out just too tart. Sprinkling some sugar over top will do the trick. The point is to enjoy the fruit for what it is, not suffer through a ‘treat’ that is supposed to be ‘more healthy’. No regrets, so sugar your pie for goodness sakes! Hope you love this tart summer treat as much as I do! What’s your favorite summer dessert?

Pie Dough Recipes:
If you are in a rush and need to resort to your favorite store brand pie crust, go ahead. But really consider setting time aside to make the dough. It’s so easy! And there isn’t a long list of mystery ingredients; good-bye preservatives! Joy the Baker has a killer no-roll version, but I substitute the veggie oil and cream cheese with more butter. And of course, the tride-and-true Smitten Kitchen has a fantastic buttery version.

Pardon my dust…

I have been talking about starting a blog for years now. But month after month, I have remained a closeted artist, foodie and movement enthusiast. I had resorted to lovingly stalking other, wonderful bloggers around the world. Today, all of this changes.

Pardon my dust while I try to juggle (literally, I’m also a juggler) a full time job, a part-time volunteer job, a mural program, and the task of maintaining a somewhat acceptable level of mental sanity. All of this to come soon, so stay tuned. <3