Recipes

Light Pumpkin Spice Cake Bars

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Guess who’s back? Back again.
Pumpkin’s back. Tell a friend.
(Yes, I just used Eminem’s song lyrics & put the word pumpkin in it 😉 )

I just couldn’t stay away from baking with pumpkin for very long… After contemplating for a good 20 minutes on what to bake today, I decided to bake some Light Pumpkin Spice Cake Bars!

I wanted to make something a little healthier than I normally bake and thought bars are always easy, but tasty!

To skinny-tize these Pumpkin Bars, I used a half cup all-purpose flour, and a half cup of whole wheat flour. The whole wheat adds nutrients & goodness, and the all-purpose gives the bars a nice light texture. Whereas when we just use whole wheat flour in recipes, the baked goods tend to be pretty heavy & thick.
I think the combo of the two flours make it the perfect consistency.
We also reduce the amount of butter & eggs in this recipe which makes the bars healthier.

These pumpkin bars are super moist, and have a cake-like consistency.
Although these bars are delicious on their own, feel free to add some walnuts, white, milk or dark chocolate chips, or even some whipped cream to the top! NUM!

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Ingredients:
(makes 9 bars)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch – 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/4 cup milk (plain, fat-free, soy, or almond)
1/4 cup butter (melted in the microwave)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients until evenly combined. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar & pumpkin until combined. Add in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract and stir until just combined. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & mix until evenly combined. Do not over mix.
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely, than cut into 9 squares.

Notes: Bars stay fresh for up to one week stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Happy Baking!
Natasha xo

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Projects

Glass Suncatchers

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After my little mishap on our previous DIY project, (my cracked Flower Power plate), I was excited to do another project to get over the extreme sadness I was dealing with… Alright, a tad overboard and dramatic, I’ll admit. 😉 I’m alright now.

Natasha and I spent another Sunday afternoon at the studio with my sister and her 2 young children and we all made glass sun catchers. We think they turned out so cute and they are now hanging in our living room window, shining all kinds of pretty colours into our place.

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Laura at the Studio

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My suncatcher is the one with the purple, (obvs. Purple is my fave colour).

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And here’s Natasha’s suncatcher! Lots of bright colours and orange, (her fave colour).

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We’re already brainstorming new project ideas for our next DIY… stay tuned! 🙂

Laura xo

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Recipes

Pretty-in-PINK Lemonade Cupcakes

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Even though the first day of Fall is not until September 22nd, for some reason August 31st always feels like the end of Summer to me.
Right when September 1st rolls around, I feel like Summer has officially ended & Fall has begun.

As you may know from my last few baking posts, I am more than ready for Fall.
So I thought I’d make one last ‘Summer’ recipe before the blog is all things pumpkin!

I made PINK Lemonade Cupcakes, and they are every bit as tasty as they are gorgeous. I love how bright and colourful they are, (It’s a nice change from cranberries & nutmeg) and they are super moist & light. Unlike most cupcakes, the cake is fluffy, fresh, & lemony – not heavy at all, (No eggs are used).
These cupcakes are definitely a summer-must at a backyard BBQ! 

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PRETTY-IN-PINK LEMONADE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

For the Cake – 
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch – 1/2 teaspoon of salt
zest from 1 lemon
1 3/4 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
juice from 1 lemon

For the Frosting – 
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2-3 cups icing sugar
juice from 1 lemon
a few drops of red food colouring (to your preference to create the perfect PINK colour!)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients – Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda, Salt, & the Lemon Zest. Set Aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients – Water, Oil, Vanilla Extract, Vinegar & Lemon Juice. Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients & stir slowly until ingredients are evenly combined & no lumps appear in the batter. Do not overmix.

3. Pour the batter (The batter will be extremely wet!) into lined baking pans, about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.

Frosting:

1. Using your electric stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar slowly, (scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed) to your preference of sweetness. Add the lemon juice & a few drops of red food colouring – mix until you get the perfect fluffy frosting!

Happy Baking!

Natasha xo

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Beauty & Cosmetics

What’s In Her Bag? Laura’s Summer Beauty Picks.

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I get asked all of the time what my favourite products are and what products do I use. Being in the cosmetic business and working as a make up artist for many years, I have used hundreds of products. In fact, too many to list in a single sitting!
So I decided I would share what products I am currently using this summer. I try new products constantly and change things up often but this group of products are my staples.

(Photo – from left to right)

Revlon Photoready Skinlights in pink light:
Revlon had this product years ago but it was discontinued at least 3 years ago. They relaunched it (in new packaging) this past spring and I was so excited to find it again. I use it as a highlighter on my cheek bones. Can you say glowy and gorgeous?

Stila One Step Skin Tone Illuminating in bronze:
This is a primer with a bronzer built-in so you get that slight bronzed radiance that looks completely natural.
You can use it alone or I like to mix it with my foundation on top of my hand then apply it.

Stila Stay All Day Foundation:
I don’t always use liquid foundation but when I am needing a little extra coverage this has been my go to formula. You can achieve medium to full coverage and it wears for hours.  It’s oil free and has botanical extracts which has many benefits including extra hydration and helps to slow down the onset of premature aging. Now who doesn’t want that benefit?
An added bonus, it comes with a coordinating concealer which is attached to the lid. Very handy.

La Roche-Posay SPF 60 Ultra Fluid Lotion for Face:
Now I don’t have to tell you just how important sun protection is, especially for your face. It’s our #1 protection against premature aging. Now that should catch more then a few ladies attention. We hear it all of the time, but most women don’t use any or apply enough when they do use it. Dermatologist recommend using SPF everyday. Yes, even in the winter.
I am more of an oily t-zone skin type and I don’t love the feeling of thick heavy products on my skin. That’s why I am so thankful I found this little gem. It’s good for all skin types, light weight fluid, fragrance free, paraben-free and dries matte. What more could you ask for?

Porefessional by Benefit:
This little miracle in a tube is just what the make up artist ordered!
Porefessional is for, you guessed it, those dreadful pores. It fills in and smooths out your skin. This lightweight, oil-free primer can be applied under your foundation, ontop of foundation or simply alone. Since I already use a primer (Stila bronze) I apply this one lightly ontop of my foundation around my nose area. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes. You have to see it for yourself to believe it.

Lancome Hypnose Doll Lashes (one pictured is the Limited Edition by artist Alber Elbaz):
Unfortunately we are not all born with beautiful long lush lashes so all of us ‘unfortunate’ ones have to supplement best we can. Like many other women out there we are forever searching for the ‘perfect’ mascara. For me, this Lancome Doll Lashes is pretty darn close to perfect. The cone shaped brush is designed to build and separate lashes without thick clumps. I very rarely find a mascara I will purchase more then once, but this one I’ve bought more than a few times.

Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in candy shimmer #05:
I am a big lip gloss girl and have to admit I’m kinda picky when it comes to choosing them. That probably explains my makeup drawer designated solely to glosses…approximately 70 or so. Not sure, I lost count.

The reason I keep coming back to this Clarins one (always alternating the colours) is because it’s not sticky, heavy or gooey. It’s a soft gel formula that hydrates and nourishes your lips while your wearing it. Plus it’s so darn pretty.

Laura xo

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Recipes

Georgetown Cupcake (The Cupcake Diaries) – Coconut Cupcakes

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I’m in love with anything and everything cupcakes. I prefer cupcakes over cakes, or any kind of dessert really.. I have plates with cupcakes on them, clothes, jewelry and makeup with cupcakes on them. I’ll literally watch any kind of baking cupcake shows, although my favorite cupcake show is DC Cupcakes on TLC.
I love it. I think Katherine & Sophie are so cute and fun and the cupcakes look to die for! (I have to go visit their Georgetown Cupcake shop in Washington someday!)
Their cupcake creations are always new and creative..  Sooo, when they released their recipe book ‘The Cupcake Diaries’, I obviously had to have it.

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I decided to try a recipe from the book out last night for the first time. I chose to make their Coconut Cupcakes recipe, and I’m not even exaggerating.. they were hands down, the best tasting cupcakes that I’ve made from scratch before. My mom and I have tried many different cupcake recipes over the years and we have always preferred the taste of box brands (Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker), over homemade recipes. For some reason a lot of cupcake and icing recipes either are too sweet, too dry, or just seem to lack something and taste a bit blah.
I was pleasantly surprised to say the least when these coconut cupcakes ended up tasting delicious! Everyone who tried one loved them.
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There’s quite a few different cupcake recipes in the book, and I’m so excited to try some more out! I’ll definitely be posting more on recipes from this book as I go along. I’m not going to re-post the recipe due to copyright issues, but I’m telling you.. their coconut cupcakes recipe alone is worth buying the book for! Perfect texture, just the right amount of coconut and sweetness, and the icing is an added bonus! Plus, they look super pretty.. like perfect little white clouds of love haha.
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Note: There were no issues while making the cupcakes.. the only thing that was strange was that the recipe said it would make 12 cupcakes. I had enough batter for 18 cupcakes, and I was using standard size cupcake cups. I read some other reviews on recipes from the book and quite a few other people have said the same thing. It’s definitely not an issue for me, the more the merrier when it comes to cupcakes. 🙂
I also had quite a bit of icing left over as I used less than the recipe called for. I prefer cupcakes not to have too much icing.. I like it mostly cake with a cover of icing.

Check out Georgetown Cupcakes, or if you are a cupcake lover, pickup The Cupcake Diaries! You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.georgetowncupcake.com

Natasha xo

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Recipes

Strawberry Pie

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By Natasha.

I made 2 strawberry pies for our family dinner on Sunday and wanted to share the recipe with you guys! This strawberry pie recipe is from my Nonna, and is a family favorite. It’s the perfect summertime pie!

Ingredients:
(makes 2 pies)
– 4 pounds of strawberries (2 pounds each pie)
– 2 pie shells
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 tablespoon cornstarch
– 500ml whipping cream
– icing sugar

NOTE:
– This was the first time I made these pies with store-bought pie crusts. I do NOT recommend buying pie crusts for this kind of pie because the strawberries contain a lot of juice which can make it soggy if the crust is not thick enough. Definitely want to stick with homemade crusts! 🙂
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Recipe:

1. Pre-bake pie crusts. (Cooking time varies depending on which brand of crusts you buy, or if you make homemade crusts. For Tenderflake crusts, bake 8-10 minutes at 400.)
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2. Wash and drain strawberries.
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3. Chop strawberries into fairly small pieces & drain well. (draining is super important!)
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4. Divide chopped strawberries between the 2 pie crusts. (PUT ASIDE 1 CUP OF CHOPPED STRAWBERRIES. It is needed for the next step.) Sprinkle 2 (1/4 cup total) tablespoons of sugar on each pie.
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5. Mash the 1 cup of chopped strawberries. Set aside.
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6. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in 1/2 cup cold water.
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7. Mix mashed strawberries, cornstarch/water, along with 1/2 cup sugar in double boiler. Cook until thick, mixing constantly. (approx. 30 mins)
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8. Strain strawberry sauce over pies.
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9. Beat whipped cream until fluffy, add icing sugar to your preference.
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10. Top pies with whip cream & refrigerate. (at least 3 hours)
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Enjoy! 

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