Seasonal Halloween Treats

rosemary shortbread

It’s getting dangerously close to winter and so lately I’ve been looking for ways to use more food from my garden. For herbs like my rosemary plant, it’s going to be a busy winter. This is the largest my rosemary has ever grown, so I’ve been saving recipes to make sure we put it all to good use before it inexplicably dies (which is what seems to happen every year).

 

For the Halloween potluck at work I needed a fall treat, but decided not to go spooky. I made Rosemary Shortbread with a Lemon Glaze. The recipe couldn’t be easier and took barely any time. I originally found it here and for some reason thought they were lemon-rosemary, but only after I put them in my oven did I realize that I used no lemon.

 

 

I decided to just add a simple lemon glaze as a true icing wouldn’t have made sense with shortbread. Thankfully I also grow lemons and they’ve just gotten to their perfect yellow coloring. I love grocery shopping in my backyard!

 

The bars came out delicious, and I got a few requests for the recipe. This is definitely going to be a repeat in the near future.

 

Rosemary Shortbread with Variations

Yield: One 8- or 9-inch shortbread, about 16 pieces
Source: Melissa Clark of the NY Times

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 scant tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons honey

 

1. Heat oven to 325ºF. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter and honey, and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess. Dough should not be smooth.

2. Press dough into an ungreased (or parchment paper-lined for easy removal) 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

 

For Lemon Glaze

2/3 cups of powdered sugar
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

 

1. Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl with whisk. Using a pastry brush lightly brush on one layer of lemon glaze. After glaze soaks in (bars will look shiny but not white), brush second layer of glaze on bars. Serve when cool.

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My Top Ten Fall Obsessions

When October rolls around, and really for most of the rest of the year, I can’t stop thinking about all of the reasons I love fall. But here are my top ten fall obsessions:

 

10. Sunsets

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9. Apple Picking

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8. Home Decor

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7. Rocky Horror

 

6. Fall Boots

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5. Leaves and 4. The Colors of the Season

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3. Fall Foods

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2. Pumpkin Carving

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1. Costumes

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The Tech I Live By

This is probably my favorite topic so far for #TDCLBlogtober14 because I absolutely love finding new tech for my life. My phone, like millions of other people’s is full of apps. In my opinion they’re a testament to the amazing ideas people have, and the technology they’re building upon at this point is pretty mind blowing. I’m constantly on my phone between personal use, DomiCile and my blog, and finding the best apps for what I need has been both a challenge and a rewarding treasure hunt. For my apps I might have paid for the app itself but I haven’t paid for any of the “pro” additional features unless noted. Here are some of my favorite apps that I use in my digital life.

 

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Instagram (app and desktop version)

Like everyone else I’m fairly obsessed with Instagram. I’m obviously an extremely visual person, and conveying any idea through pictures always works much better than words. From branding to sharing life’s moments to articles for the magazine, Instagram is my go-to app.

 

Twitter (app and desktop version)

While I used to be a bit more obsessed with Twitter, not having cable has been part of my lagging interest in my old favorite. Tweets are in one ear and out the other, and even scheduling them can be a hassle. Someone needs to develop an all-in-one product for my twitter needs, a cross between Twitter, Hootsuite and Buffer. Once that exists, I’ll think about paying for it.

 

Latergramme (app and desktop version)

Latergramme, while not a perfect solution to my Instagram needs is pretty close, and I hear they’re moving out of Beta. I haven’t checked out all of the details yet, but they’re well on their way to being a constant in my life. Improvements to make: connecting to my calendar app so I’m sure not to miss the alarm (which usually doesn’t appear), allowing me to easily switch between users or allowing me to log in to one account and control more than one account at a time.

 

Pinterest (app and desktop version)

Pinterest is another app where my obsession level has gone down a bit, but it’s still one of the most useful visual tools out there. I can always depend upon it for ideas for recipes, crafts, or what to wear (as I have been known to dress by color inspiration).

 

Pages (app only)

Pages is only on this list because it’s the default Facebook app for business pages, but I don’t find it particularly helpful, user-friendly or necessary. Maybe if the normal Facebook app didn’t tell me everything the Pages app already had I wouldn’t be as grumpy about it. However as my general disdain for Facebook clouds all judgement I’m not sure it’s fair to judge my pages app either way. I use it when I get a notification, but otherwise I don’t.

 

Hootsuite (desktop version)

While I have Hootsuite on my phone, the app doesn’t seem to work. It either won’t show me my information or can’t connect to the server. It’s generally disappointing. The desktop version however is a powerhouse and what I use daily for managing almost everything Twitter-related.

 

WordPress.org (app and desktop version)

My WordPress app is great if I’m on the go or just don’t feel like starting up my laptop. I think it would be amazing on a tablet (I don’t have one of those yet). My only complaint is that there’s not a lot of control in uploading photos to a post. They always end up at the bottom and much larger than my preset size constraints.

 

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Afterlight (app only)

Afterlight is one of those amazing programs I found just as I was losing faith in Adobe to provide me a photo editor app that made any sense. In addition to the overabundance of photo filters showcased by other editing apps, it does one amazing thing that I have yet to see anywhere outside of Photoshop. There’s a tool called Fusion where Afterlight will record all of your motions and let you store them as a preset. With all of the moves I make enhancing photos, finding Fusion was a godsend. I could make all of the usual tweaks that I find myself making each time and save them as a preset so I didn’t have to remember exactly what I had done before. Essentially it allowed me to create my own filters. So sometimes I’ll put a photo in, run one of my own filters and then tweak from there. For anyone looking to create their own look, Afterlight is definitely the way to go.
Afterlight also offers those cool cutouts that you see on people’s social media images where the whole image is in a shape (a heart, an anchor, or a monogram), it does that too.

 

Phonto (app only)

Photo is the only app I ever need to use for words on images. The biggest selling point: the ability to add my own selected google fonts. I can also save my favorite fonts in a special folder, and save colors. It even lets you layer images together. Phonto also offers those some cutouts where the whole image is in a shape but they’re a little less refined (bonus: it offers a twitter logo cutout). The one upgrade I’d like to see: ability to add colors as hex values by typing them in instead of using sliders. Otherwise it’s pretty perfect.

 

Camera+ (app only)

Camera+ is my go to app when the lighting in my iPhone camera just won’t get with it. Dim lighting or super bright, or getting a balance, Camera+ can solve it. I used to use it a lot for filters too but now I generally only use it to take photos. My biggest complaint: When I take photos I have to then go in and select to send them to my camera roll, which sometimes causes me to lose photos. It stores them all in it’s own library, so if I forget that I was in a bad lighting situation I’m out of luck.
 

VSCOcam (app only)

Probably the most used photo editing app by far, VSCOcam is an app I can’t do without. After discovering Fusion from Afterlight I thought I had it made, but then I purchased two of the additional filter packs from VSCOcam and I felt like an amateur. Don’t get me wrong, I still need to tweak my photos after using the filters, but those filters were probably the best $2.00 I’ve spent in a while.
 

Snapseed (app only)

Snapseed isn’t an app I use very often, but it’s a backup plan because of one tool. If I need to focus on one region or essentially edit an image in one section because it isn’t sharp enough, light enough, or dark enough, Snapseed is my go-to app.
 

PicFrame and PicPlayPost (apps only)

These apps do essentially the same thing. One offers the use of multiple videos and one offers more frame options. So I keep them both around just in case.

 

SquareFX (app only)

This is the only option when I really don’t want to crop a photo to a 1:1 ratio. SquareFX will let me not only keep my photo, but change my background image to black, white, or whatever it’s preferred colors. I did just learn that I can do this in Photo as well but it takes some tweaking.

 

Editor by Pixlr (desktop only)

I use this editor daily. It’s my Photoshop when I’m not at home or don’t want to do anything too complex. I use it for cropping images mostly, but on the go it’s super easy, and I just keep it in my bookmarks for quick access.

 

Iconosquare (desktop only)

Iconosquare has the ability to be the Hootsuite of Instagram. The statistics section of their website is the most awesome part. It’s truly made a difference in my Instagram experience and has probably been the biggest driver in how we’ve gotten more likes per photo. What would make it more awesome: an app, scheduling, and the ability to see the same related hashtags that show in the Instagram app.

This post is part of #TDCLBlogtober14. See my other posts here.

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My Favorite Back to School Memory

When I was a senior in college two of my friends and I moved into off campus housing. We had technically lived off campus before in an apartment but that year we were getting a house. In Syracuse there are different areas of off campus housing, but the one most of our friends lived in is a neighborhood full of kit homes from the early 1900s. Most of the houses have been picked up by landlords making more than an ample living off of college kids living off of their parents. That year we knew things would be different because we had a real house.
 
Before school started we planned to come back early, that’s when parties started happening but no one had to get up for class. It was when we could hang out, see friends we hadn’t all summer, and get back into the groove of being in college after being at home and in internships for the past three months. Since we had tons of free time, and one of my friends is an amazing cook, we had a dinner party, which felt very adult at the time. It was awesome, people came to our house, we sat around, talked about how our summers were and what we were all signed up to do for the next 9 months.
 
The best thing about the party was that we felt like a family, all sitting around the table, the living room and on our porch later just hanging out. We all knew it was our last year together but at the time it hadn’t started yet and no one cared. That dinner party not only one of my favorite back to school memories, but one of my favorite college memories. Whenever I think of those friends, and that party, I get completely nostalgic. We all live around the country now, and aside from my wedding, most of us haven’t seen each other together since college; yet somehow I still think of them as my family, and they’ll always be my friends.

 

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This post is part of #TDCLBlogtober14. See my other posts here.

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Ten Things I’m Thankful For

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When I read that the post for #TDCLBlogtober14 on October 14th was Ten Things I’m Thankful For, I thought it would be easy to come up with a list. I feel thankful everyday, and despite the fact that I don’t talk about it with anyone, I pray every night. Therefore my list of things I’m thankful for seemed like it would be on the tip of my tongue, however it really only got me to the first five things. Those things are the general ones that I realize as an American with a job and a financially stable upbringing I was, and am blessed to have. It took me a while to come up with the other things as they’re really things I don’t think about as much, but those that I realize have been so important in my life.

1. Family and Friends

I’m always thankful for my family. As much as we fight and annoy each other, and sometimes even don’t speak, I’m thankful for them every day. I just figure it’s part of an adjustment to every one of us being an adult, and generally being very different from one another. Sometimes this causes a great number of problems, other times it’s the only reason we can get past those problems.

I feel the same way about my friends. Sometimes I wonder how I ever found the people that I consider my friends, and other times I think that if I hadn’t found them, I truly would not have made it.

2. Our Health

My family and most of my friends are generally healthy people. Not like run a marathon healthy, just survive every day, and go about our business without constant trips to the doctor, healthy. There are some of us who aren’t, and truly it makes me realize how much more I should be thankful. Every time I hear about a sickness or an unsolved ailment I’m thankful that I’m not sick, that my husband isn’t, and that the sickness that those I care about do have is solveable in the long term.

3. The Food on Our Table

I can honestly say that I’ve never gone hungry a day in my life. Despite running out of money, despite having to ask others for help, I have always been fed. I’ve always had enough to be choosy with my meals, to decide to eat less GMOs, to not have to live off of fast food, to shop at Whole Foods when I want to. That’s a blessing.

4. The Roof Over Our Heads

Another thing I’ve never lacked is shelter. I’ve always had a place to stay, even when I felt I needed to leave my home, I had another home to go to. And sometimes that’s the most important thing.

5. Time With the Elderly and the Young

I’ve grown up with old people, despite the fact that when I was born they weren’t actually that old. Looking back I’ve had a group of people who have always been above the age of 50 in my life. I cherish my time with them more than most other things in my life. Having people who see the world completely differently from me, and having time to spend with them, knowing how the world looks from that perspective, it’s made me who I am.

On the flip side of that, having sisters who are 9 and 12 years younger than me has also been an amazing experience. They’ve kept me young, helped me to realize how people younger than me look at life, and helped me to see things in people that I couldn’t have seen otherwise. They’ve taught me how to communicate with a generation so different from my own, while still allowing me to be my own age.

6. Creative Relationships

I truly believe that it is my creative relationships that have propelled me to where I am today, with the interests I have. I’m so excited when I become friends with another creative person. Having that relationship and that person to share ideas with, and to see those ideas from another creative perspective is an amazing experience. Those are my favorite friendships, ones where we have something to offer each other, and ones where we can help one another by inspiring one another.

7. The Road Less Traveled

When I was 23, right after I graduated from college, I was forcibly moved to Florida. It’s something I completely hate about my past, aside from the fact that without that move I wouldn’t be nearly as happy as I am today. I met my husband there, and I fell in love with him almost immediately. We dated in a bubble, something I recommend to anyone looking to sustain any kind of romantic relationship. Neither of us had friends there, and all of the things that friends would have told us to make us question how we felt was entirely absent from the picture. We knew ourselves well enough to know when we weren’t happy with the other person, and when we were, and that really dictated how things moved forward. By the time I was 24 I knew he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with (despite the fact that if a 24 year old told me that now I’d tell them they were crazy.) At the time I had been hurt in enough relationships to know what love meant for me, and he is older than me, and had been in enough relationships to know he was ready to be with someone forever.

Around the same time my best friend fell in love, and while she wasn’t exactly in a bubble, she was at a different place in her life than some of the friends she had that lived close by. Then she moved to California with her boyfriend and she also existed in this bubble. A life away from everyone who seems to know you so well, but hasn’t dated you. They got married a few years ago.

Every time we spoke (and to this day) we constantly told ourselves, we aren’t on the same path as everyone else. We had no friends that were in our boat. No one with the same determination, no one married, no one with the same disinterest in having children right away, no one in the same financial positions, no one but each other, and even we don’t have those aligned. But having someone else to share that with, who understands, is invaluable, and with everything that’s happened thus far, being on my own path, taking the road less traveled is something I’m thankful for, and really has made “all the difference.”

 

8. A Varied Education

Education to me is really a culmination of experiences. It isn’t just college, or grad school, it’s life. Having worked in several fields has taught me so many things, and how to deal with so many types of people, that it has helped shape my reactions to my experiences. I’ve worked in retail, office environments, sales environments, computer environments, and environments where you’re essentially talking to strangers constantly. Alongside that, dealing with friends and family in different fields has helped me as well. For instance, dealing with my dad, an engineer is much different than dealing with my sister-in-law who’s in human resources. The approach to a conversation, a disagreement or a concern, it needs to be different because people fall into thinking the way they do at work. I think it’s one of the reasons my reactions aren’t always what people expect. I’m more than just one background, more than just one set of expectations, and I see that as a very very good thing.

9. Passion

In the past year while starting DomiCile, I’ve realized that passion is not something many people have. That driving force behind getting something done, behind wanting to see an end result, and behind wanting to see something reach it’s potential is not something we’re all blessed with. Passion is something I notice little of in most people I meet. It’s one thing to have a hobby, but it’s another to turn that hobby into a career, and it’s another to represent that career as a real job and treat those who you interface with as you would real clients.

Passion means maybe not sleeping in on weekends, doing more work when you can, not taking full days off, and definitely not spending a whole day on the sofa. That little voice in my head that tells me that “something else can still get done”, that’s my passion, not letting me quit, not letting me rest. It’s that voice I hear at night when I put my head on my pillow that sometimes doesn’t let me fall right to sleep, but makes my sleep more sound.

10. An Original Idea

Lately I’ve been feeling like DomiCile is a blessing, like this idea I had over a year ago is something to be thankful for. I’ve met more amazing people than I can count, been more places where I live than I ever knew about, and learned more than I had in a long time. I also really love the fact that my little idea is helping people. It’s gaining more visibility for individuals, for small businesses, and helping those involved to feel appreciated. The feeling when someone compliments the magazine, or tells me they want to support it is one I’ll never get over. Knowing your idea is helping someone else feel happiness, or like their efforts are being seen, is definitely something I’m thankful for.
 
 
This post is part of #TDCLBlogtober14. See my other posts here.

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