Black and White Brownies

A few months ago while visiting the library with the kids, I pulled The Night Circus off of the “librarian recommended” shelf. It looked interesting, and was easy to grab on my way out the door with my own little circus of children. I started reading that night and became enchanted by the story, the magic, and most of all, the descriptions of the incredible circus! These black and white brownies were inspired by the unexpected and playful sensory experience of the book. Sure, they’re cute, but the flavor is awesome and unexpected because of a couple secret ingredients.

IMG_0453.JPG IMG_0454.JPG Soon after I started reading, it was obvious that I had to volunteer to host the next meeting for my local book club. We rotate hosting, and the host has her choice of book for the group to read. Not only was I loving the book–the story is interesting, descriptive, and fascinating– but the food references in it were just mouth-watering! Lots of descriptions of fresh caramel corn, mulled warm cider, and petite chocolate mice. I thought it would be fun to play with one of my favorite brownie recipes, inspired by the rich and unexpected experience of the circus.

I got multiple compliments about these brownies, and the reactions were just what I was hoping “These are so good! What is that in there? There’s a little something different!” They are rich and sweet, and subtly spicy at the same time. Plus, a chance to dress them up in white and black stripes like the tents of The Night Circus could’t be missed. Click through for the full recipe below.

IMG_0455.JPG The Night Circus Brownies (adapted from this)

Makes one 8×8 inch pan or 16 brownies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place the rack in the bottom 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 60 seconds. Mix with a wire whisk until ingredients are combined.

Stir in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, whisking until combined after each. Add the flour, nutmeg, and cayenne and stir well for about two minutes. Batter will be thick, shiny and a little grainy. Pour into prepared baking pan and flatten with a silicon spatula.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, then let cool. I invert mine onto a cutting board, then place it in the freezer until cool.]

For Buttercream Icing

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 lb powdered sugar
1/4 c whipping cream

Place butter, sugar, and 1/8 cup cream in a bowl and mix on high until thick. Then add cream until you reach the desired consistency.

For the black stripes, I used a easy squeeze icing from the grocery store. Alternatively you could add black food dye to a section of the buttercream, then pipe on top.

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Sweatshirt Shrinkfashion: how to miniaturize a college hoodie

Yesterday I posted on Instagram (@livefreemiranda) about how my sewing project of the day was to shrink a size large men’s sweatshirt (specifically Dave’s college rugby hoodie) into a Milo-size version. The whole “Sweatshirt Shrinkfashion”, as I’m calling it, took less than an hour and turned out as a perfectly adorable mini version of the original. College Sweatshirt Shrinkfashion-One Little Minute Blog  I promised a tutorial, which I figured I would illustrate like the last one, but I soon realized that I not only had enough time remaining during Plum’s nap to make another one and photograph steps, but also that I really NEEDED to make another one since Milo and Eliot are in that super fun stage where they really both want everything about their lives to be “fair” and “equal”, which I don’t always indulge, but since I had both time and another old college hoodie, thought I’d take advantage.

Sweatshirt Shrinkfashion-One Little Minute Blog 1 So there they are, my little boys looking like pre-teens in their shrunk-down college hoodies! I’ve been on a serious minimizing clothing and purging through our closet phase, and this project is a perfect way to preserve the sentimentality of these school shirts without feeling like we need to wear them ourselves. And these boys felt pretty cool wearing Dad’s school shirts.
Sweatshirt Shrinkfashion-One Little Minute Blog College Sweatshirt Shrinkfashion-One Little Minute Blog7 Read though for a step by step photographed tutorial of how to shrinkfasion your own hoodie! Read More »

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Button Up Shirt Refashion

I’m a sucker for fabric. I think most seamstresses are. The problem with having a fabric love affair, is that I’ve begun to see anything that is made of fabric as just fabric itself. I see curtains and think “Wow, those would make a great pillow!” I see a fantastic silk dress and dream of cutting it up into a kimono. Duvet covers become jackets in my head. So, when I’m going through my closet to purge unused clothing, it only makes sense that the best fabrics don’t make it to the donation center. The best fabrics simply move from my bedroom closet to my studio closet to become different clothes.

Shirt Refashion One Little Minute Blog1 Shirt Refashion One Little Minute Blog One Little Minute Shirt to Dress Refashion There are a hundred and one tutorials online for how to turn a button up shirt into a dress. And this is another one. Except in this case, I used this size small women’s shirt (originally from anthropologie and with the cutest mouse print fabric!!) to make a 12-18m size baby dress. Also, its not a real tutorial so much as an illustrated explanation of what I did to make it. I was inspired by the ever-cool grainline studio and the way the Alder Shirtdress gathers only in the back creating a sort of half-peplum line. So this dress does that. In addition, it has double-puff sleeves, meaning both the hem and the shoulder of the sleeve is gathered, making them extra full.

Read on for a better idea of how I put it all together, with some illustrations to guide if you decide to give it a try: Read More »

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Stay-At-Home-Mom-Life Balance

At one point the other day I thought a modern punishment of Hades–akin to those of Greek mythology with fruit and water eternally out of reach, or stones rolled to the bottom of the hill after being pushed endlessly to the top–would be this: laundry baskets being filled, clothes washed, dried, folded, and put away. Only for the baskets to fill right back up again. Life-Life Balance -One Little Minute Blog

I actually don’t have an ongoing hatred of laundry. In fact, a few months ago I wrote about how I’ve got a great system for keeping it in check, and it totally works! The laundry wasn’t what was overwhelming me. It was just the overall weight of being needed to fill so many continual roles. Not just caring for myself, but for my kids too. All day, every day. My husband is a wonderful helpmeet. We work well together and he is always quick to offer to relieve the pressure when it feels heavy. But even with both of us working together, being a parent is hard work. It’s daily hard work, and I need regular breaks in order to keep my energy and sanity. I need help, not only from my husband, but from my family and my friends. I need time to rest and time to create and time to daydream. I realized as I was thinking about this topic that this past year is the first year of my life that I haven’t maintained a regular job. Even through having each of my kids I worked either part-time or prn as a nurse, in addition to relatively regular sewing orders and maintaining this online space. It has been almost one year since I quit my latest nursing gig, and even though in theory my quitting created more time for myself, in reality, doing a little work outside the home always gave me a much needed break from being a full-time mom! Who knew?! Mom-Life Balance-Onelittleminuteblog The last few months have been focusing deliberately on creating a schedule that allows me to accomplish my tasks of mothering, housekeeping, self-care, and also create specific time for creativity and making. I realized today how much I also just need regular old time-off. It’s really hard to justify the expense of a nanny or babysitter when I am not working, but I need to have time off from being a full-time mom. Just as thousands of self-help websites, books, and gurus suggest time off, hobbies, and regular enforced breaks in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, stay-at-home-moms need the same to maintain a healthy life-life balance. Being a parent is the most full-time job that there is (as evidenced here by my kitchen after my one-year-old passed through!)

Life-Life Balance-onelittleminuteblog

Read on for four ideas I came up with for creating time-off as a stay-at-home mom: Read More »

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DIY Platinum Blonde

IMG_9593-0.JPG

Right at the end of my pregnancy with Plum, I began toying with the idea of going platinum blonde. I was loving the just-past-shoulder length of my hair, which I don’t real ever style and rarely even blow dry (it’s stick straight, so I can get away with air dry on the regular). So cutting wasn’t interesting to me. And I use to have highlights, had done DIY ombré, and was just ready for a BIG change. (See a before photo here in my about me page!) IMG_9594.JPG

I made an appointment with my stylist for the first all-over color lifts and tone. It took three bleachings (and about eight hours) to lift all of the color from my dark brown hair, and I’m glad that I was at a salon with a professional for that first visit. My hair started out virgin, with no previous dye in it, so it was healthy enough to withstand the bleach and stay strong. I wasn’t worried about the expense and time of regular maintenance because I knew that I would be able to affordably and easily maintain the regrowth at home. Read on to find out what products I use and see the process! Read More »

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