Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  What are your plans for the weekend?  We're going to a friend's Halloween party and of course, I waited until the last minute to plan a costume {why do I do this every single year?!}  I'm going the simple route and wearing some cat ears, painting on some whiskers, and calling it a day...but for next year I've already bookmarked this gorgeous swan mask which I discovered on Mimosa Lane last week.  I'm thinking that plus a white dress would be just the ticket.  Whatever you're up to, I hope you have an absolutely enchanting weekend!

Image via Camille Styles

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Recipe :: Fall Leaf Cookies

One of my favorite family traditions is my annual trip home to Oakwood, OH every autumn to make Fall Leaf Cookies with my mom.  I have fond memories of sitting together in the kitchen after school, sipping hot cocoa and decorating dozens upon dozens of cookies.  Over the past twenty years we have tweaked the recipe several times and thankfully my technique has improved a bit {I can only imagine my first attempts as a six-year-old looked more like a messy art project than vibrant autumnal leaves}.  The best part about these cookies, asides from how delicious they are, is that while they look quite impressive are actually incredibly easy!

Fall Leaf Cookies
Makes approximately 40 large cookies, 60 small

COOKIES {Recipe via}
6 egg yolks
4 eggs
2 cups butter, softened
2 1/8 cups white sugar
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add the vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt - stir into sugar mixture.  Cover dough and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  Grease cookie sheets or cover with parchment paper.  On a floured surface roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired shapes using leaf cookie cutters.  Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

ICING {Recipe via Martha Stewart}
6 cups sifted confectioners sugar
6 large egg whites (we use powdered whites, just to be safe)
Almond extract to taste
Food coloring

Put sugar in a mixing bowl.  With the mixer running slowly add the egg whites, allowing sugar to absorb them.  Add just enough egg whites to get a smooth, slightly liquid consistency (you may not need all 6).  Add almond extract and mix well.

Divide icing into small bowls and add food coloring as desired (we typically make red, yellow, green, and orange for these cookies).

We love to play around when decorating these cookies, and since the icing is a nice, smooth consistency it allows us to swirl the icing to create a veiny or ombre-esque effect.  

To create our "standard" cookie as photographed below, I typically spread one color on one side and a different on the other, leaving about a quarter inch in the center bare.  Using a toothpick add a third color to the center of the cookie.  Make sure you use enough icing so all of the colors are easy to swirl and work with.  With your toothpick, lightly "pull" the center color through each side, creating the look of veins.  Continue until you have reached the desired effect. 

Let dry, and watch your friends be amazed!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fashion :: Get Cozy

As much as I love warm weather, for me, fall is the absolute best.  The cool crisp weather, the vibrant foliage, the comfort food, camping, the fact that the holiday season is just around the corner, and of course - the clothes.  On weekends I love nothing more than cuddling up in cozy sweaters, warm cashmere accessories, and chunky boots.  Of course - a good candle and book are a necessity, as is a preppy blanket and {most importantly} a dog! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Life :: Going Home to Oakwood

A couple weeks ago I went home to visit my mom in my hometown of Oakwood, OH, and the weather was just so beautiful I couldn't help but snap some photos of the stunning fall foliage.  Over the years some of my friends' families have moved away, opting to move further south or to smaller homes, but I feel so lucky to still be able to go back to Oakwood every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Oakwood is a small town right outside of Dayton, Ohio that was founded over 100 years ago.  It's claim to fame is that it was home to the Wright Brothers {their home - Hawthorn Hill - is open for tours two days a week}.  Oakwood's compact size makes it extremely walkable - no school buses are necessary as everyone is able to easily walk to and from school.  You can find nearly every style of architecture in Oakwood - Tudor, Dutch Colonial, Craftsman, Cape Cod, Italianate, and Victorian - and the city presents Beautification Awards to residents once a year {which my mom has very proudly been a recipient of}.

Oakwood is home to some fabulous boutiques - my favorites being Preen Apothecary, The Little Exchange, and my old place of employment - Gamine.  Lunch or afternoon high tea at Central Perc was a regular occurrence while for nicer occasions it was always dinner at The Oakwood Club or C'est Tout.  For a picnic, nothing beats the pint-sized Smith Gardens.  And of course, the infamous Dorothy Lane Market, which to this day is my absolute favorite grocery store on earth!  

On Saturday mornings in the summer there is a Farmer's Market two blocks from our house.  In the fall, the boulevards are decorated with scarecrows handmade by local organizations.  In December the city is lit up with thousands of luminarias illuminating the cold night sky.  Oakwood's biggest festival, 'That Day in May,' includes a parade, carnival, and various community events, and as a child was always one of my favorite days of the year.  Merchants know their customers by name and will be happy to give you a rain check if you forgot your wallet.  The small-size of Oakwood makes it nearly impossible not to run into someone every time you're out - usually wonderful unless it's one of those days you want to run to the grocery store in your sweat pants :)

Living in Oakwood has made me realize how important it is to me to live somewhere with a sense of community - a virtue which I will be very much looking for when Ryan and I decide to buy our first house.  It also has given me quite the soft spot for old homes and historic neighborhoods.  While no city or town is perfect - there is no place I'd have rather grown up than Oakwood <3