Everything But Books
Fun and more fun, but none of it relating to books (because I have another page for that)

October 28, 2012

Triple C: Candy Corn – Costumes, Cocktails and Cupcakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — phoebe @ 1:25 am

This is my 3rd Halloween ever, as we don’t celebrate it in Australia. However, I am now surrounded with the spirit of Halloween and candy living in America! And who can’t go past good old Candy Corn. Here are three ways to incorporate Candy Corn into this years Halloween.

Candy Corn Cocktails

For the infused vodka:

  • 1/2 cup candy corn
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka

For the cordials:

  • 2 ounces orange liqueur
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large egg white
  • Candy corn, for garnish

Directions

Infuse the vodka: Combine the candy corn and vodka in an airtight container; set aside for at least 3 hours, then strain.

Make the cordials: Add 4 ounces of the candy corn vodka, the orange liqueur, lemon juice and egg white to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Strain into 2 chilled martini glasses and garnish with candy corn.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Yellow and orange food coloring

Buttercream

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 tbsp milk

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions

1. Pre-heat over to 350 and line mini cupcake baking tray.

2. In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt

3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

4. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add flour mixture ? at a time, followed by half of the buttermilk. Repeat until no dry ingredients remain and all is mixed together well.

5. Divide the batter, one with a little less than half and put in orange food coloring. Add the yellow dye to the remaining mixture.

6. Divide the orange mixture evenly amongst the pan. Pipe the yellow batter onto the top, until each cup is ¾ full.

7. Bake for 11-14 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

8. After cooling, turn them out so that the yellow is at the bottom.

9. Pipe cream onto the top to form the white portion of the candy corn.

Vanilla Butter Cream

1. Cream butter with an electric mixer until soft. Add vanilla and milk, then gradually blend in sugar until frosting reaches a fluffy, spreadable consistency.

If you have any Halloween inspired cupcakes or cocktails, be sure to send them on over.

October 25, 2012

BOO!! Pets in Costumes

Filed under: Uncategorized — lara @ 8:00 am

Halloween is so close I can smell the candy. In honor of Halloween here are some adorable pictures of adorable animals in adorable Halloween costumes. Enjoy and seriously consider dressing up your pet. I know I am! My dog will be a penguin this year. If you do end up dressing up your pets, send me some pictures on my twitter @larayacamo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2012

Pretty boots for a rainy day

In 2005, I traveled to the high Siberian Arctic (setting of The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack) aboard a Russian icebreaker. Quark Expeditions, which organized the expedition, provided everyone with giant, all-weather parkas to protect us from the cold. One of the things they didn’t provide but advised us to pack was a hale and hearty pair of wellies, as they’re called in the UK– more commonly known as rain boots.

Me being me, I was determined to find pretty and stylish wellies. I figured it was bad enough I’d be wearing a hat and polar bear-sized coat the entire time– at least my feet and legs could stand out.

All these years later, as I get ready for a trip to Ireland (where everyone tells me it will rain, no matter what the slightly less ominous weather forecast says), I’m dusting off my faux leopard rubber boots with the bright pink soles.

But if I didn’t have them, oh the fun I could have finding new ones.  Here are some boots so cute you might even want to wear them on sunny days.

Horse Print Wellies in Pink (or Yellow) from Winstanley Welly

Randi Too by Kate Spade (sold by Piperlime)

 

 Skull and Roses Mid-calf Rubber Cowboy Rain Boots from eBay

Hunter Original (High Gloss) from Zappo’s

Spy Love Wyre Valley “Autumn” Wellies from amazon.com

Zebra Rain Boots from Brandi’s Boutique

 

Marc Jacobs Heeled Rubber Wellington Boots from Net-a-Porter.

(Not sure these are still available, outside of eBay,

but they’re just too adorable.  Like rain go-go boots!)

October 15, 2012

Weekly Video Crush – Clothes of the Future!

 

In the 1930s/1940s, designers imagined what we might be wearing in the year 2000.

Were they accurate? Take a look and see.

(If only I had an electric belt and a headlight hair accessory for my book tour. Does anyone know where I might find them?)

 
 

October 2, 2012

Dipping into October.

Two delicious dip recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 8oz pack cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toffee bits

Instructions

1. Cream together cream cheese and butter.

2. Add sugars and vanilla.

3. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee bits until well combined.

4. Serve with Graham crackers.

S’mores Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow creme

Instructions

1. In a microwave proof bowl, microwave chocolate chips and condensed milk for 1-2 minutes stirring occasionally. Heat until all melted.

2. Pour into a pie dish. Drop marshmallow by tablespoons randomly over the chocolate mixture. Microwave on high for 30 seconds until the marshmallow is melted.

3. Immediately with a knife make swirls through the mixture to create a marbled appearance.

4. Dip with honey Graham crackers.

 

October 1, 2012

Music of my Heart: Sigur Ros

You don’t always need to understand the lyrics to a song to be moved by it. That’s exactly what the band Sigur Ros thought when they began to make music.

Sigur Ros, originally from Iceland, practices the art of Vonlenska, which is a term used to describe the unintelligible lyrics sung by the band. The band’s website describes it as “a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music.” Basically, the listener must relate to the music and come up with their own meaning.

I’ll be honest, the first time I heard this band was on the season finale of a Vampire Diaries episode. (Yes, I watch Vampire Diaries and I am proud of it because they have amazing music on that show.) The song that they played, “Dauðalogn” (which I can’t even pronounce), was so moving I decided to look them up and download as many of their songs as fast as possible.

They recently gained some attention for featuring Shia Labeouf completely nude in their music video. That aside, they are an amazing band, especially on a rainy day, and they encourage thinking for yourself. Hope you love them as much as I do. Here are a couple of their songs, which I can’t pronounce, underneath.

Let me know what you think!

September 24, 2012

Theatre de la Mode

Filed under: Uncategorized — briana @ 7:25 pm

(To continue with the French themed blogs) When I think of France I immediately think of fashion. French culture has always been a driving force in fashion; especially during WWII, when our very own Velva Jean is there. Once World War II began many couture houses and designers left France, and the ones that stayed had an extreme shortage of cloth and sewing supplies. Germans had intended to make Berlin the new center for fashion culture, introducing German designers and sending French designers to work in Berlin and establish a fashion school there.

Fashion is more than just economy for France, it’s part of their culture and how they connect with each other. So after Paris was liberated, the idea for a miniature theater of fashion was brought up by Robert Rico; to use French culture to help victims and survivors of the war. About 60 couturiers came together with their scrap material to design the exhibit. Due to the short supply of material, it was designed to use miniature mannequins. Everything was real working; all the zippers zipped, all the buttons buttoned, little handbags had little wallets and little compacts inside them.

When the Theatre of Fashion or “Theatre de la Mode” was completed it became a touring exhibit with about 200 doll sized mannequins and 15 background sets. It first opened at the Louvre in Paris on March 28th, 1945 and later moved on to tour Europe and the United States raising millions of francs for war relief.

Most of it now resides at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington. For me it represents the time in which people were drawn together and helped each other through culture; the French bringing their fashionable culture and people donating what they had to help the people of France. A small piece of history that proves how mankind will help each other in time of need.

Also; a happy reminder that Becoming Clementine comes out tomorrow!!! 😀

Cousin Terri’s Coq Au Vin

My cousin Terri Day McJunkin, in addition to being brilliant and beautiful, is also quite the cook.  In keeping with our French theme a la Becoming Clementine, here is Terri’s recipe for Coq Au Vin.  As she says, it’s “one of the very best classic French recipes ever (absolutely to die for).”

COQ AU VIN
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
(2 tablespoons good olive oil for searing meat)

4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy (I use Merlot)
1 cup good chicken stock
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Lay chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle chicken on both sides w. salt and pepper. When bacon is removed, brown chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove chicken to plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add wine and put bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover pot with a tight fitting lid and place in oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just ‘not pink’. Remove from oven and place on top of stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to stew. Bring stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

September 21, 2012

Music of my Heart: The Melody of France

Because of the soon approaching release of Becoming Clementine, the Jennifer Niven blog posts have become, well, French. I’m sure most of you have tried out Phoebe’s wonderful French recipes (I know I have) so I thought, why not pair them off with some French music to get the full experience…

So get your ears ready and your handy-dandy translators in hand because I found some great French music that I’m sure Velva Jean would enjoy.

First, let’s start with the classic. Edith Piaf was one of the most famous French singers in the 1930s-1960s and is still today the most recognizable name in French-music history. Her hard life only made her voice even more beautiful and haunting. Aside from listening to her music, I suggest watching her 2007 biopic La Vie en rose which won the lead actress an Oscar. Here is her most famous song, La Vie en rose.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zFc7nIJnvo&ob=av2n

 

 

 

 

Next is my favorite, Charles Aznavour. Why you ask? Because, although his name does not end in “ian”, he is in fact Armenian (his actual last name is Aznavourian). Don’t think I’m biased because of his race though–when you hear his voice you’ll understand. He is the most famous living French singer and although he is 88, he does give performances now and again and boy, he’s still got it! Here is one of his most popular songs, La Boheme.

 

 

On to a more modern singer. Although she has the classic French voice, Carla Bruni only just became popular in the last couple of years after her song was featured on the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack. Although I only speak broken French, and by broken French I mean twenty words if not less, I pretend I know exactly what she is saying while I listen to her in my car. Enjoy her amazing song, which I can’t even pronounce, Quelqu’un M’a Dit.

 

 

Someone very similar to Carla Bruni is Keren Ann. I recently discovered her,and although she sings both English and French, I prefer her French music. She has a gentle voice that would be amazing on a rainy afternoon. Here is her song Ailleurs meaning “Elsewhere.”

 

 

 

Last but not least, a very famous band that many people do not know are in fact French:  Phoenix. The band gained popularity in 2009 with the release of there record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which featured famous songs like “1901and Lisztomania.”  Although not sung in French, this song technically does count as a French song, right?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmDNLG458mM

 

 

Well, that’s enough for now! I hope you enjoy this lovely music while you enjoy one of Phoebe’s delicious recipes– and play it in the background while you read Becoming  Clementine. Each of these artists have
other amazing songs, so look them up and enjoy!!!

September 20, 2012

Sweet and Savory, French and Tasty!

The French people sure know how to eat wonderful foods, and with only 5 days till the Becoming Clementine release, we thought it was time for some French flair in our recipes. From cheese to chocolate here are 2 french inspired recipes to keep you wishing you were sitting right in Paris.

Baked Camembert with Garlic Bread

1 whole Camembert, in its box

1 clove of garlic, sliced

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

1tsp olive oil

 

Garlic Bread

1 small ciabatta loaf cut in half

1 tsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Remove any plastic packaging from the cheese and then return to box, leaving the life off.

3. Pierce the top of the cheese in several places and insert pieces of garlic and thyme into the slits.

4. Drizzle with olive oil and leaving cheese in the box. place into oven for 10mins or until center of cheese is melted.

5. FOR GARLIC BREAD: Drizzle cut side of bread with olive oil and place onto hot pan until toasted. Once toasted rub toasted side with garlic clove.

6. Serve camembert with garlic bread for dipping.

 

French Chocolate Bark

8oz semi sweet chocolate

8oz bittersweet chocolate

1 cup dried apricots

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup roasted cashews (also good with pistachios)

 

Instructions

1. Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl over water. Can melt in the microwave but be sure to stir frequently to avoid burning.

2. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a tray. Pour the melted chocolate onto the paper and using a rubber spatula, create a rough rectangle about 9×10 inches.

3. Sprinkle remaining ingredients all over.

4. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours. Cut into small rectangular bite sized pieces.

 

If you have any wonderful french recipes be sure to send them over to us!

 

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