Favorite Places: Art Ala Carte

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My youngest loves anything… anything involving art.   Especially when she isn’t instructed and can just be free to have fun.  Enter her mothership: Art Ala Carte.

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It was created in 2012 by this genius, Aria Leighty.  The Vancouver location is newer, but there’s a Portland one as well that’s been around longer.  The Vancouver location is getting a bigger store soon (yay!)  and we are excited to see what they do with more space.
Basically how it works is your kid gets a tray and goes down the “art bar” and picks out what weird odds and ends (they take donations of all kinds, plus you get a discount for bringing a donation!) and art supplies.  Then they go to a table and create!  The first time we went I whispered to my daughter “Lucy… do you really need all those pipe cleaners?  Save some for the other kids.”
Then about 5 minutes later an employee came up to her with a pile of more pipe cleaners.. “I found more for you!” 🙂
Kids are free to create, find their own voice, glitter and all.
The open studio is open tomorrow so send your hubby and kids to create something for you for Mother’s Day and they can leave the mess behind!
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Art Ala Carte Vancouver is located at 5305 NE 121st Ave Unit #306 Vancouver, WA They have moved to an even better space at

9120 NE Vancouver Mall Loop #130

(Same Parking lot as “Van Mall” Timbers Building)

 

Favorite Places: Candy Babel

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One of our new favorite discoveries is this sugary sweet gem of a store, Candy Babel.  It’s a dream come true for any kiddo (or kiddo at heart too!).
It’s an old school candy shop, complete with all the glass candy containers to make your heart flutter. 🙂
I love that the bulk candies are down lower where little ones can pick what they want.  Paper bags can be filled with lots of delicious nostalgic (and not to mention high quality and superb tasting) treats.  For little ones learning about money, this is a great shop as well, since they can pick any 10 bulk candies for $1.  (Make sure to plan on staying close to little ones to make sure they use the scoops and tongs too)
My girls love picking out their candy, and there are so many fun ones to pick from! Pink pigs, gummy whales, red scotty dogs, black and white cows, or maybe your little ones would like the Halloweeny gummy skulls 🙂

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And then there is this section that makes MY heart flutter…  The licorice section. 🙂  The best licorice selection I’ve ever found, and I can be a bit of licorice snob!  You have to try the dark chocolate lentils (think a skinny skittle shaped candy, with dark chocolate and licorice flavor) YUM!  Or the chalk licorice… or the licorice covered fennel seeds… who am I kidding? Just grab a bag a get a little of each like I do 😉

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And you see those egg shaped confections in the bottom left hand corner of this next picture? You definitely want to get some of those… (And a couple of those black licorice caramels while you’re at it too).

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And what cool candy shop is complete without an old school scale to weigh your treats on?

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Lucy’s pet was overjoyed with all the treats Lucy got to share with her.  🙂

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I think my girls enjoy seeing Amani, the owner as much as they do picking out candy! She is super sweet, just like her store.
I love how patient and attentive to the kids she is and every time we go makes sure to remind them to brush their teeth extra good before bed that night. 🙂

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So next time you’re out and about in Portland, make sure you stop in to Candy Babel, one of our favorite places!

Candy Babel is located at 1219 NE Alberta Street Portland, Oregon

Using Springerle Molds (and a giveaway!)

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My hubby knows me too well.  It isn’t something sparkly, shiny, or even floral I want on a special occasion.  No, not even diamonds are my hearts desire.  If he wants to make me happy he knows all he has to do is pick out pretty much anything from House On The Hill.  It’s a little system we have. 🙂
I love the intricate designs, and I am always amazed at what I find on their website.
The fun thing about these molds is you can use them to make lots of different things, not just the traditional springerle cookies.  House on the Hill has a variety of recipes, which you can find on their recipe section here.  You also get a free recipe booklet when you spend over $35 on their site (I’ve managed to get.. a couple).  🙂

If you can’t wait to try making something with springerle molds, today is your lucky day.  Connie from House on the Hill sent me the “single acorn” mold to play with, and has another one for one of you!  Details at the bottom of this post to enter!

This mold is perfect for fall, and I decided to make spicy gingerbread instead of springerle with it to start.
Tip: Usually you brush your mold with flour or powdered sugar, but for darker cookies like gingerbread lightly spray with non stick spray so they won’t have a floury appearance. 

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I also used it to make a cupcake topper using marshmallow fondant, and I got to thinking it would work well for bars of cake or dessert as well.

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I used the baroque owl here, and LOVE how it looks.
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To make, just roll out your marshmallow fondant (fairly thick, almost 1/2″).
Then brush your mold with powdered sugar or lightly spray with nonstick spray.  Place the mold on the counter and a piece of fondant on top, then push into the mold.  Use a rolling pin to roll over it if needed.  Where the design is especially thick (like the acorn on the single acorn mold, or the body and head of the owl on the baroque owl) I added a piece of fondant to kind of fill in and support that deeper area.
Flip mold and fondant over and slowly separate.  Cut excess off using a cutter or pinking wheel.  I thought about adding some disco dust or coloring it, but I really loved the all white look on these.

I made some walnut cookies with the walnut mold my hubby bought for me last Christmas.  This is so pretty paired with the acorn mold as well I thought.
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Walnut Cookies

For the Cookies:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried orange zest (or fresh zest of 1 orange)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups ground walnuts
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 T butter, softened
4 oz dark chocolate, melted
2 oz heavy cream

Make cookies: Whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and zest in a small bowl and set aside.  In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until well combined.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Add the flour mixture slowly and mix well.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Separate the dough into 4 sections and take one section out of the fridge at a time (the dough will come out of the mold easier if very cold).  Brush walnut mold with confectioners sugar and press a ball of dough into mold.  Scrape excess off back if needed.  Use the point of a knife to help dough out of mold.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

Make filling:  Mix all the filling ingredients together until well mixed.  Place a teaspoon of filling on the back of a cookie and add another, pressing together lightly.

Recipe adapted from House on the Hill

And for a non-food project you can use an air dry clay, such as Paperclay (House on the Hill sells it here) with the mold.  Stay away from Fimo, Sculpey, and such because they can take the finish off the mold.
After the clay was dry, I painted some with an antique gold paint (letting the paint be heavier in some areas, lighter in others, to highlight the details.)
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I also painted some dark red, then after drying I highlighted with the antique gold paint.  I glued them to loops of ribbon and they are my new favorite fall napkin rings!
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Giveaway Rules: To enter, just leave a comment on this post (with your email so I can contact you if you win).  One entry per person, U.S. Residents only.  You can enter now until October 5th.  Winner will be chosen at random and announced Monday October 7th on this post.
What would you make with this mold?

And the randomly chosen winner is…

Your 1 winners on “Using Springerle Molds (and a giveaway!)” are:

Andie M

Congrats Andie! I’ll be contacting you. 🙂

Walnut Cookies

Ingredients

    For the Cookies:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried orange zest (or fresh zest of 1 orange)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
    For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups ground walnuts
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 oz heavy cream

Instructions

Make cookies: Whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and zest in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until well combined. Gradually beat in sugar. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  • Separate the dough into 4 sections and take one section out of the fridge at a time (the dough will come out of the mold easier if very cold). Brush walnut mold with confectioners sugar and press a ball of dough into mold. Scrape excess off back if needed. Use the point of a knife to help dough out of mold. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
  • Make filling: Mix all the filling ingredients together until well mixed. Place a teaspoon of filling on the back of a cookie and add another, pressing together lightly.
    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
    http://mystainedapron.com/using-springerle-molds-and-a-giveaway/

     

    Decorating with Canning Jars

    I LOVE canning jars.  I am always finding uses for them, they just make me happy.  They make a perfect vase for weeds flowers from my babies, or shaking up a batch of dressing.  I threw together some decorations for Thanksgiving using things I had here and the canning jars came to the rescue again. 🙂

    I used a square of unfinished burlap, then filled my canning rack with wide mouth quart jars.  I added 1/2 cup red lentils, then rested cinnamon tea lights on top of the lentils.

    I always have a spread of snacks and appetizers out while I’m making a holiday dinner.  Some cooked, some not.  Satsuma mandarins, pistachios or other nuts, pumpkin seeds, our FAVORITE gingersnaps.  I think I might try using the canning rack filled with jars of snacks for a fun snack tray next time.

    Favorite Things… Edelweiss Sausage and Delicatessen

    I was going to post a recipe today.. but realized first I should tell you about one of my favorite places, Edelweiss Sausage and Delicatessen in Portland Oregon.
    They have an absolutely amazing selection of charcuterie  (just think amazing cured meats).  Our favorites are landjaeger, paprika pepperoni, and of course the black forest ham… and don’t forget the black forest bacon.  Crazy good.  I forgot to get some in all my excitement last time.. still thinking about it. 🙂
    And of course my hubby would be defastaded if I didn’t bring back some pretzels and their house made mustard (you’ll want to get a pound, just trust me on that one)!
    I took my camera last time I went… but I got so distracted I forgot to take pictures. 🙂
    This is what I came home with…

     

     

     

     

     

     
    Okay, and some cookies too. 🙂  I’m in the process of making my own versions to make at home because I love them so much.  Chocolate spritzers and florentines.  Yum.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    They also have a great licorice and chocolate selection, and pretty much everything you might want to have your very own “Oktoberfest” at home.  So if you haven’t gone, swing by sometime, it’s an experience!

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