Last year we thought we ruined the chocolates and they were perfect. This year we got lazy and paid the price…

We were both over whelmed, feeling the stress of the holidays and decided to try and be nice to ourselves during the chocolate making process. We sat on the couch and talked now and then, we ate three meals of real food and there may have been wine. And there may also have been chocolate that wasn’t well tempered. The problem is, you don’t know how the tempering process went until you’re 10 hours in and there’s no going back. It was time to take the chocolates out of the molds and well, they didn’t come out. There was mild panic as we tried again and then as the realization sunk in that they might not come out at all the real panic began. After some freezer sessions and some serious banging of the molds outside where we could make more noise, we finally got (almost) all of the chocolates out of the molds. They weren’t perfect, but at that point at least they existed and we new that our friends & family would appreciate the story, appreciate that we tried to enjoy the process and most of all appreciate the fact that they still tasted amazing!

The adventure begin early this year - testing various combinations for the centers. Here are two versions using Apple Cider Syrup. One was apple cider caramel and the other an apple cider, vanilla and white chocolate ganache. We went with the ganache - aka Apple Pie Alamode (although I forgot to add the cinnamon to the final batch).

The adventure begin early this year – testing various combinations for the centers. Here are two versions using Apple Cider Syrup. One was apple cider caramel and the other an apple cider, vanilla and white chocolate ganache. We went with the ganache – aka Apple Pie A la mode (although I forgot to add the cinnamon to the final batch).

Next up - my favorite chocolate combination - Passion Fruit! I tried four, passion fruit gelato jell and the most incredible passion fruit jam. Each with white and milk chocolate. The passionfruit jam with milk chocolate was the clear winner (and I think the overall chocolate winner of the year, but I'm biased)

Next up – my favorite chocolate combination – Passion Fruit! I tried four: passion fruit gelato jell and the most incredible passion fruit jam, each with white and milk chocolate. The passion fruit jam with milk chocolate was the clear winner (and I think the overall chocolate winner of the year, but I’m biased)

The four centers: Apple Pie A la Mode, Passion Fruit, Burnt (really burnt - oops) Caramel, and a Dark Milk Chocolate to pair with the Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

The four centers: Apple Pie A la Mode, Passion Fruit, Burnt (really burnt – oops) Caramel, and a Dark Milk Chocolate to pair with the Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

Five pounds of beautiful bittersweet chocolate.

Five pounds of beautiful bittersweet chocolate.

Four molds at the ready.

Four molds at the ready.

Getting there - Shells have been set, fillings are in, sealing them and then futile attempts to release them are still to come.

Getting there – Shells have been set, fillings are in, sealing them and then futile attempts to release them are still to come.

While the chocolates set, we used the extra to dip Swedish Fish (addictive!), pretzels and apricots. And to make bark: peppermint candy, dried nuts & fruit, and cashew, toffee & sea salt.

While the chocolates set, we used the extra to dip Swedish Fish (addictive!), pretzels and apricots. And to make bark: peppermint candy, dried nuts & fruit, and cashew, toffee & sea salt.

We blame the wine, for this year's not so perfectly tempered chocolates.

We blame the wine, for this year’s not so perfectly tempered chocolates.

My other favorite part - packaging them up!

My other favorite part – packaging them up!

To continue the chocolate theme, I had a Hot Chocolate Bar set-up for friends as they came to pick-up their chocolates.

To continue the chocolate theme, I had a Hot Chocolate Bar set-up for friends as they came to pick-up their chocolates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was not a banner fall/winter for sewing projects. In fact I only ended up with one homemade Christmas present (well, not counting the chocolates, but more on those later).

Luckily I had a request for father/daughter aprons from a friend or I might not have sewn at all. I needed the inspiration and this was a perfect project that I really had fun with. Because they were aprons, and because these two are fun goofy people, I had free reign to have as much fun with the fabric as I wanted. Though as my two sewing friends with attest (and enforce) I am not allowed to sew with fabric where the pattern forms straight lines because I just don’t take enough time to get them to line up – well… somehow I ended up breaking that rule on both aprons – oops. But I couldn’t help it, I saw the perfect fabric and had to have it.

So, with each one, I really took my time, ironed at every step, measured and straightened and lined-up the fabric and patterns and cut slowly (and channeled those two sewing friends the entire time) and it worked! Well, the hello kitty fabric is at a slight angle, but the cowboy fabric is perfect. And both pockets are straight and line-up pretty darn close to perfect. And because I slowed down, I really got into the process and am so much prouder of the final product. Maybe lines is what I needed after all?

Dad's apron -text straight? check. Sheriff's badge front & center? check. pocket lined up? check.

Dad’s apron: Text straight? check. Sheriff’s badge front & center? check. pocket lined up? check.

Daughters: I had leftover fabric from both aprons so made napkins to complete the set.

Daughter’s: I had leftover fabric from both aprons so made napkins to complete the set.

 

The back of both aprons - yes they're reversible - there was too much good fabric to choose from.

The back of both aprons – yes they’re reversible – there was too much good fabric to choose from.

 

Bonus photo: I'm now the proud owner of a serger - hopefully this will help me step it up and start sewing some more.

Bonus photo: I’m now the proud owner of a serger – hopefully this will help me step it up and start sewing some more.

 

I forgot just how happy baking makes me. No, there’s no chocolate in this one – but I had to share because I’m celebrating fall and a return to baking and the realization of just how much I missed creating (in the kitchen and with my sewing machine) over the summer. This summer was incredible and I wouldn’t change it, but I am so excited for fall, for apples, pumpkins, leaves, foggy mornings and crisp evenings, curling up with a book, cozy clothes  & boots and best of all baking.

At the beginning of each new season I’m convinced it’s my favorite, but truly I know that designation only goes to fall for me. And I’m celebrating with food (cause that is one of the best parts of fall, right?). Yesterday I enjoyed an egg, smoked jack cheese, apple and sausage scramble – delicious! And tonight… my most favorite apple, a Zestar, with honey roasted peanut butter (thank you Bellewood Acres for both) and now… I have pumpkin poppers in the oven. The smell of the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger made me grin and then the taste of the batter (yes, I love my raw baked goods!) just made me giddy. The recipe describes them as baked pumpkin donut holes and I’d have to agree, yum! I did adjust the topping a bit. I made brown butter and used maple sugar with the cinnamon – might as well take it to the top for a fall celebration, right?

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Another trip, another TripTik! This really may be one of the best parts of a road trip. This time I’m Montana bound. It’s been 10 years and I can’t wait to absorb that Glacier National Park magic.

I had to go non-traditional this time. I used our organization’s brand inspiration – the vintage postcard set as my starting point. One postcard per day with photos, maps and other images I collected over a couple months. And I love the backs. It might be the simple part, but that classic postcard feel makes me smile every time.

What really makes me smile is that in a day and a half I get to put this to use and start adding trip notes to the postcards!

Front of the packet

Front of the packet

Opening it up - yes printing the back flaps took a lot of trial and error

Opening it up – yes printing the back flaps took a lot of trial and error

All the postcards

All the postcards

And... may favorite part - the backs.

And… may favorite part – the backs.

The full set

The full set