The other day I decided to make some of the husband’s favorite sweets, the famous Madeleine Cakes from France. I know he is capable of sitting down with a platter of over 20 of these and devouring every single one within minutes. It’s definitely his weakness. That and orange flavoured Pimms. And since I’m pretty sure I’d lose my mind trying to make those Pimms cookies I try and make these every so often for a guy that is seriously a saint. He’s just so happy all the time and seems to make those around him happy as well.
The love of Madeleines has definitely been passed on to the next generation!
French Madeleine Cakes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl sift together all the dry ingredients.
3. With the electric mixer beat eggs and sugar together on medium speed until mixture has tripled in volume (about 5 minutes). Then add vanilla and beat to combine.
4. Gently fold flour mixture into sugar/egg mixture with a spatula. Be sure not to overmix!
5. Mix a small amount of egg mixture into melted butter to lighten it. Then fold into the sugar/egg batter in 3 additions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
6. Spoon one tablespoon of mixture into buttered and floured madeleine pans (or even mini muffin pans).
7. Bake in 375 F (190 C) degree oven for 11-13 minutes (or until edges begin to brown).
8. Remove from pan and let cool. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar. Enjoy!
(Recipe found here on the Joy of Baking site)
This past week-end we went on a little hike in the mountains of Switzerland. We reached the 1704m summit of Monte Generoso by a little cogwheel train that we caught in Capolago on Lake Lugano.
The views from the top of Monte Generoso are absolutely spetacular. On a clear day you can see all the local lakes (Lugano, Maggiore, Como and Varese), mountain ranges and even Milan in the distance.
There are beautiful trails for every kind of hiker (15 minute walks to 4 hour hikes) . Some take you through Swiss cow pastures where you’ll hear the lovely sound of cowbells and see the dairy cows chewing their cud and minding their own business. A great hike to take kids on is the trail that leads you to some ancient bear caves where you can have a guided tour of the cavern and all its 20 000 year old bones and remains. My kids absolutely loved it.View down to a little Swiss town from our picnic spot.Dancing amongst the Swiss Dairy cows. I could only think of chocolate when I saw them. Delicious Swiss milk chocolate.Looking for fossils along trail. And there are many to be found!
This is enough to give a mama a heart attack (until she realises there is a little landing below and not a cliff).
For more information check out the Monte Generoso official site for timetables, activities and any other information you might need to organise a trip there with friends or family.
Last week-end I had the pleasure of attending the first ever The Hive European Blogging Conference in Berlin, Germany. I had a wonderful week-end full of meeting new friends, learning the ins and outs of the blogging world and listening to some very inspiring women talk about their blogging experiences. Unfortunately I didn’t take too many photos during the week-end because I was so concentrated on getting around to all the presentations and workshops and chatting with new friends but here are a few.
Presentation by Sister Mag. These two women are so well spoken and inspiring.
I was also lucky enough to participe in a really fun food photography workshop by Anne from Anne’s Kitchen (who is the human equivalent to a cupcake…extremely sweet!).
We had a great selection of props, materials and food to work with.
One of my favorite items from The Hive goody bag was this wooden USB stick from dawanda.com.Jillian in Italy name cards.
Thanks to all The Hive organisers for such a great week-end. I’ll hopefully see you in Berlin again in 2013!
Yesterday I was….
Gently settling into my new role as a 38 year old.
Appreciating the beautiful sunny warm day after what seemed like months of rain and cloud.
Knowing this is going to be a beautiful year for me and my family and friends.
Appreciating and being grateful for all the wonderful people in my life, near and far.
Trying not to think how close I am to….40. How is that possible?
Eating lots and lots of cake. Seriously a lot.
I whipped up this cake yesterday and it was really tasty. I used sugar cookie dough for the crust and baked it with a cheesecake filling. Then I poured melted dark Belgian chocolate on top and sprinkled shaved white chocolate on top of that. A serious calorie bomb. Inspired by this recipe from the wonderful Delicious Stories blog.
A few months ago I stumbled across some absolutely stunning photos of the streets of Torino on the blog Poppytalk (see post here). After clicking away I found the blog and the artist behind these amazing shots. The blog is called Zero the One and the artist Kat. I was immediatly smitten with all her work and became an instant admirer.
Zero the One is an inspiring, original and captivating blog where you can browse through photos, videos, thoughts, tutorials, recipes and so much more. Kat isn’t your run-of-the-mill blogger but more of an artist who blogs (big difference). And she does such a good job at it. Kat is a cheerful, enthusiastic and extremely generous soul and it definitely shines through all her work. And to top off her many attributes she has a board on Pinterest called “Yummlings”. I love that so much.
Kat can transform any photo into something absolutely enchanting. And to make it even better she generously posts photoshop tutorials that are so well explained and easy to follow. Check out this one about adding pink splash to your photos. I tried it and it worked out beautifully (this says a lot coming from a non photoshop user).
Pop over to Zero the One and spend some time browsing through Kat’s beautiful blog.
With the promise of warmer weather on it’s way I thought it was time to tackle sewing a nice summer dress. It’s a wrap around dress that ties in the back and the fabric I used is Anna Maria Horner’s “Good Folks” series (I bought it a few years ago). It’s such a beautifully soft thick cotton (so no lining was needed).
I don’t have an adult size dress form so I had to put it on this child size one (and I’m not ready to expose my winter white legs). I’m am definitely not this size in real life. The actual length of the dress is mid-knee.The pattern is from the Dutch sewing magazine KnipMode (from January 2003). It’s a really great and easy pattern which I will be making again many times.
Usually when I buy a beautiful expensive fabric I hoard it away in my cupboard for at least a year or two before actually getting the nerve to use it. I get it from my father who does the same thing with shoes and clothes. He calls it the “purchase resting period”.
But after buying those beautiful Echino fabrics in Japan I was really itching to sew something beautiful and usable with them. So I decided to use this bird patterned linen/cotton mix for a purse I was making in my sewing group. I think it helped that we were being led by a very experienced sewer who I knew would make sure the purse turned out perfectly.
It’s a lined purse with pleats, zipper AND piping. A real make-you-sweat pattern. But the result is beautiful.
Being Canadian with a Belgian husband and living in Italy has made it so that I never know when Mother’s or Father’s Day is. I know that it is in different months and on different days for each of the countries and I’ve pretty much mentally blocked all those dates from my mind. I had a feeling father’s Day was coming up so I spent hours with the kids making these origami dress shirt garlands. Then my son proudly announced that he was making me a Mother’s Day gift at school which must mean Father’s Day isn’t for a while (but we’re prepared and ready well in advance!).
These origami garlands are so sweet and my kids were the ones who actually folded the shirts (even my little guy). Origami has become very popular in our home and I’m so glad I brought back that suitcase FULL of origami paper from Japan (despite comments such as “are you sure we need 30 packages of origami paper?”).I sewed the little shirts together before glueing on the ties and bow ties. You can make these shirts any size you want. My kids have made tiny tiny versions and almost life size versions. When we’re in restaurants they even fold the cloth napkins into these little shirts. It takes under a minute to fold one so you can make loads in a short amount of time.
The kids can hang them up on a doorframe or to put them into an envelope to open on Father’s Day (whenever that may be). You can leave them loose or sew them together like I did. Last year my kids included a pocket and put in really nice messages and poems.
Here’s how to do it yourself! There is one step that will make you want to crumple up the paper, run out of the room and never try origami again but please believe me that once you ‘get” it everything will run smoothly. Hopefully my instructions will help you a little (original pattern idea comes from Martha Stewart Living June 2004). Continue to read for the step-by-step…