The Liebster Award!

So I was nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Emily (from https://yummywithnomoney.wordpress.com/) and at first I was super confused like what is this but after reading her post and looking it up a little I was so happy to have been mentioned! So thank you again Emily—that was so sweet of you! For anyone who doesn’t know what the Liebster Award is, it’s an award given to bloggers by bloggers, and in German liebster means sweetest, kindest, nicest, etc. It’s just a bit of fun and I’m going to be honest, I haven’t been up on my blogger game and only started following some of these people recently (AKA today), but they were my favorite blogs I have come across so far so I decided why not! Here are the rules for the award (which by all means you don’t have to do if you don’t feel like it):

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Copy and paste the Liebster Award badge to your post.
  3. Nominate 10 new bloggers.
  4. Answer the 10 questions the person who nominated you asked you.
  5. Create 10 new questions to ask the bloggers you nominate.
  6. Notify the bloggers you have nominated by leaving them a comment on their blog.

 

Here are my nominees (not exactly sure how new/old anyone is as I’ve just started, but it’s all in good fun right?)

  1. https://accooohtrements.wordpress.com/
  2. https://evewanderer11.wordpress.com/
  3. https://hikesnobs.wordpress.com/
  4. http://agirlwithanadventurousfork.com/
  5. https://michaelbrew.wordpress.com/ (hasn’t posted anything yet but maybe this will inspire him to!)
  6. https://lifeinlipstick.wordpress.com/
  7. https://alyssasbreakfastcafe.wordpress.com/
  8. https://awardrobeinprogress.wordpress.com/
  9. https://prayeatexercise.wordpress.com/
  10. https://ishitasood.wordpress.com/

 

  1. If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
    Hands down mac and cheese, you can literally throw anything into it to make it new and I haven’t come across a mac and cheese I didn’t like.
  2. What’s your favourite type of cuisine?
    Italian – you can’t go wrong with a pasta, pizza, & gelato party.
  3. What’s your guilty pleasure?
    I love the Kardashians. I don’t even love to hate them I just love them.
  4. What’s your dream job?
    My practical dream job is to work as a physician’s assistant, but I think that it would be so cool to be a full time travel blogger. A girl can dream.
  5. What’s your favourite hobby (apart from blogging!)?
    I really love painting and baking, two things I hope to give myself time for in the future.
  6. Who is your motivation?
    Is it weird to say myself? It seems a little selfish but I think that you should do things for yourself, obviously take into consideration your friends and family, but I think finding motivation needs to come from within first.
  7. What three items would you take on a desert island with you?
    A big pot, my boyfriend, and copious amounts of sunscreen.
  8. If you had to move abroad, where would you choose to live?
    I really want to move back to England some day, I just love it there and its an amazing central location to go explore other countries and cities in Europe.
  9. What is your favourite thing about yourself?
    Ahh, these are my least favorite questions I feel like I’m writing my college essays all over again. I guess I’m good at coming to the aid of people who need me, and I always try my best to make everyone around me happy. :p
  10. What will always cheer you up?
    Super cheesy but hanging out with my boyfriend Michael will forever and always turn my day around. He is just the best.

 

Here are my questions:

  1. If you had to pack your bags to travel somewhere without fear of cost or other obligations where would you go?
  2. What is one thing you can’t live without?
  3. What is your favorite animal?
  4. Have you read a good book lately?
  5. What inspires you?
  6. Did you go to University, if so where and what did you major in?
  7. What do you like to do in your free time?
  8. What is your pump up music?
  9. What is your favorite color?
  10. Do you have any goals for your blog?
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Gingerbread Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

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So when the holiday season comes around and I get the opportunity to make treats for others I really try my best to create the prettiest and tastiest desserts. This week I’m having a holiday party at school and I was inspired by Zoe Sugg aka Zoella to make these gingerbread cupcakes. However, when I passed the idea along to my classmates one requested marshmallow frosting, so I thought well why not. I then wanted to make them a little more special than some sprinkes on frosting so I decided to also make some small gingerbread cookies to place on top of the cupcakes. I made a royal icing for the cookies but because I didn’t have a nozzle fine enough to pipe the icing I scrapped the idea and used it on the leftover dough on larger cookies where it didn’t look so sloppy.

We are also doing a “white elephant” gift swap and I thought I would stick with the theme and I got a cute little gingerbread house kit for one of my classmates to make. I have always really loved making gingerbread houses, but traditionally I am very specific about what I want to do with them. This usually means that M has to take a backseat when it comes to decorating them because I just get so caught up in it. So this year we bought him his own so we can both take full ownership of our own, like adults! Anyways, on with the cupcakes!

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The first thing I did was make the gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread Cookies: 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tsp pumpkin spice
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 large egg
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In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth.

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Then add the molasses and the egg. It looks weird but the lumps came out after adding the flour.

In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients.

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Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and mix on low until just combined.

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Turn the dough out onto a floured piece of cling wrap, and pat into a square and wrap.

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Place dough in fridge for 2 hours to chill. (While it chills you can move on to the cupcakes)

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When the dough is chilled, roll it out to about 1/8th inch thickness and cut out your shapes. Preheat your oven to 350F.

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Place onto a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes (if you have larger cookies they will need a few more minutes–until the edges begin to brown.) Let cool completely before icing.

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Based on a recipe from Martha Stewart.

Royal Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white (separated from the yolk used for cupcakes)
Cold Water

Place powdered sugar and egg white into a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the two, and be patient! Only add water until the egg white is completely incorporated and then add a tsp at a time to get it to the right consistency.

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DSC00597Add into a piping bag with a thin nozzle (the plastic ones from the supermarket are a little too big, but will work on larger cookies) and pipe onto your cookies however you’d like!

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Gingerbread Cupcakes: 
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 1/2 tbsp pumpkin spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk

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Preheat oven to 350F and prepare your cupcake pan with cases.

In your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.

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Add the molasses and eggs.

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In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, and slowly add it to the butter mixture on slow.

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Add in the milk. At the point the cupcake mixture is pretty runny, but that’s okay. Use an ice-cream scooper to dispense the batter into the cases until they are just over half full.

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Bake for about 20 minutes and allow to cool before frosting.

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Based on Zoella’s gingerbread cupcakes.

Marshmallow Frosting:
3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 container marshmallow fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp heavy cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt

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Cream together butter, marshmallow fluff, vanilla extract and heavy cream until completely combined and smooth.

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Add powdered sugar and salt and mix on low until combined, then beat on high for 1 minute. Put frosting in a piping bag with a tip.

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Frost your cooled cupcakes — I used a Wilton 2M tip I found at Michael’s Craft Store in a multipack.

To assemble your cupcakes take a cooled cupcake and frost them, adding whatever decorations you would like. I opted for small red and white candy canes but any festive colors would look great! Then place one gingerbread man in the center of the frosting, and voila! Cute gingerbread cupcakes for your holiday party!

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Halloween Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Halloween Themed Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

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One of the best parts about this time of year, beyond the changing of the seasons (not that we have much of that here in California) and the addition of pumpkin spice to almost anything imaginable, is the addition of so many cute baking ideas that crop up on social media and Pinterest. I saw this really cute skeleton sugar cookie on Pinterest, but when I clicked to the blog post I was disappointed that you needed a special cookie stamper to achieve the look. I figured I could come up with a solution so I decided to pull out my trusty gingerbread man cookie cutter and buy some icing and get to work.

Lets just say that this store bought cookie icing does not do you any favors. The consistency is hard and it will smudge all over your cookie before giving you your desired effect. M and I tried to decorate a few but the results were so poor I gave up on it. Instead I found a recipe for royal icing, which I was afraid was going to give me even more trouble, but it actually turned out fine! Although a few of my pumpkins and bats are a little wonky, I think that the few that turned out right after I had a little practice make this well worth it. If anything, next time I would just make all skeletons, because I like how they look better and the require less effort.

To make the cookies you will need:

Your favorite roll out cookie recipe or 1 package of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix

3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 Egg

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) melted

Halloween themed cookie cutters of your choice

A clean surface

Rolling pin

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Start by making the cookies following the package recipe, stir in your flour and add your egg and melted butter.

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After you get a soft dough, it says you can go straight onto rolling it out, but I think that it really helps the dough not stick to the rolling pin if you chill it for at least 20 minutes in the fridge. You can preheat your oven during this time and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.

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Next, roll your dough out to about ¼ in. thickness and start cutting out your cookies. I think colder dough also helps transferring the cookies onto the cookie sheet.

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Then bake your cookies for 6-7 minutes and let them cool completely.DSC00377

While they;re cooling you can start on your royal icing. You will need:

3 cups of powdered sugar

¼ tsp Cream of Tartar

4 tbsp of egg whites

~2 tbsp of milk (add more depending on the consistency you want)

½ tsp of vanilla or almond extract

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Mix all of the ingredients together using an electric mixer, and separate into 4 different bowls. Add black food coloring to one, green to another, purple to another and orange to the final bowl. Mix these and put into piping bags. Then snip off the tip of the black one just barely to make a thin outline around the cookies.

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Get creative and do whatever you like! Then fill the outlines in with the colors of your choice and add the details in black onto the wet icing. For the skeleton cookies, Just use the white icing to draw the details and go back with black for the eyes.

This could also be fun for a decorate your own cookie station at a Halloween party!

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Let the frosting harden over night and then you should be able to stack them without the icing getting everywhere.

What are your favorite Halloween cookies??

Best (Mostly) Homemade Pizza

On Fridays, M and I like to indulge a little. Most of the time that means that we order out, but tonight because we had a little extra time (and I was craving pizza), we decided to make a home-made pizza. Now, we have done this before with varying results, but I can honestly say that this has been one of the best home made pizzas I’ve had and it was seriously so delicious.

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So, obviously the beauty of pizza is that you can put anything you want on it. Tonight, I really wanted to recreate a pizza called Joe’s Special from Pizza Boca Lupo at San Pedro Market in San Jose, California. What you need to make it is:
1 Pre-made Pizza dough (I used Safeway’s brand)
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used Prego traditional because I had it in my pantry)
2 sprigs of basil
1 sprig of oregano
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz pepperoni
3 links of italian sausage (without casing)
3 oz mushrooms sliced

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The first step is to roll out your pizza dough, it took me a little work to get it completely rolled out, and I kind of wish I had done it slightly thinner for a crispier crust. But you’ll need a lightly floured surface and a rolling pin. Keep turning the dough to keep it round and pick it up and stretch it over your hands to help it along.

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When you get it to the right size and thickness (mine was about 12-14 inches and 1/4-1/2 inch thick) you want to gently place it onto a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Don’t worry if it gets a little deformed you can push it back into place. Then add your tomato sauce in an even layer.

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I recommend adding your basil and oregano now because it’ll infuse into your sauce and give the pizza a super fresh taste. I forgot to do this and added it on top but it didn’t have the exact effect I wanted. You don’t have to cut the leaves just lay them on top of the sauce without the stems and then move on with your cheese.

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Yes, look at that cheesy goodness. Now add any other toppings you wish or follow my recipe!

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Bake this at the doughs required time, and don’t be afraid to broil it for 2-3 minutes (be careful to watch it so it doesn’t burn!) and enjoy!

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I really like this for a evening meal cooking with M, because we can both get our hands dirty and have fun cooking together. Even if you don’t consider yourself a great cook, a home made pizza is a great way to entertain friends, and you can even split your dough balls into smaller portions so everyone can make their own (just remember to reduce the cooking time slightly).

What are your favorite pizza combinations??

xoxo Olga

Where it begins

(Okay, it’s time for the first post.)

Hi!
My name is Olga, and I’m a recently graduated 22 year old with little knowledge in far too many things. I’ve always wanted to start a blog, and as I always say — there’s never a “right” time to do something, you just have to get up and do it! So here we are. I’m hoping to make this my little spot in the internet, where we can chat about food, makeup, fashion, homeware, travel, DIY and everything in between.
Before I get started I ought to tell you a little bit about myself. I was born in Houston, Texas but raised in Germany by a military family. I have moved back and forth across the Atlantic more than a couple times, but now I am living in sunny California with my wonderful boyfriend M and our little kitten (who isn’t very little and not actually a kitten anymore) Luna. We’re out on our own and trying to make it as “grown ups” (whatever that means).
 Here’s to our (mis)adventures!