DIY: Golden figurines

We’re always looking for cool new ways to inject a little personality into our homes. Preferably as inexpensively as possible, since our tastes seem to always be changing. While perusing one of our new favourite blogs Smith, Here (yes, that is Morgan from Laguna Beach) we found perhaps one of the simplest, yet most awesome DIY projects yet: gold spray painted figurines. For about $10 and 10 minutes of your time, you can create a shiny new bookend or spruce up your coffee table decor with a little gold animal. Here are the foolproof instructions (seriously, anyone can do this and have great results):

Time needed: 10 minutes.
Tools: Spray paint, newspaper and an assortment of plastic or ceramic toys or figurines. We got ours at Dollarama.
Step 1:
Lay down newspaper in a well-ventilated area (preferably outdoors) and bring out your supplies.
Step 2:
Shake can of spray paint for about a minute before using. 
Step 3:
Hold can approximately 10 cm away from figurine and spray until completely covered.
Step 4:
Let dry for at least half an hour. 
Step 5:
Add a second coat or touch ups if needed.  

And voila!

Check out some of our other shiny new decorations:

Fashion-able: The Halloween Mustache

It’s one of our favourite days of the year – the day when we can wear whatever we want and eat candy without judgement. 


We’re big fans of costumes, especially those that require a little brain power to come up with (costume puns are the best). But for those of you that have procrastinated and left the costume to the absolute last minute, here is a quick solution – the Hallowee’n ‘stache. Everyone loves a good mustache, right?


This is a super easy DIY project and, like Jen Loves Kev, you can use this party trick to make photos from any occasion a little more fun. All you will need is:

Black bristol board
Tape
Shish kabob sticks (you will need one for each mustache you make)
Pen or pencil

Start off the mustache-making by tracing a 1/2 inch curved swoosh (almost like an XL-sized Nike swoosh) on a pre-cut 3” x 2 ” piece of black bristol board. Cut the outline of the swoosh, and then fold into the remaining half of the bristol board piece. Trace the cut out pattern on to the bristol board, unfold the piece and cut out new traced part. 

This is where you would trace the swoosh on the other side of the bristol board, making it a full mustache. 


This will make both ends of the mustache even, like pictured above. Once you’ve traced your desired ‘stache pattern, keep using the first template to trace more mustaches and replicate them.


Next, take the shish kabob sticks, and attach them to the mustaches. Using small pieces of tape, attach the sticks to one side of the mustache. Stick placement is important – off to the side is best. 

Make sure you secure the shish kabob stick securely to prevent any accidents


As you can tell, we love a good ‘stache On The Fourth Floor. Have a very Happy Halloween!

Yum, Yum: Grandma’s Apple Pie and Apple Crisp recipes

There is nothing that says fall has arrived more than the taste of pie filled with juicy local apples. To celebrate the arrival of fashion’s favourite season, we scoured our recipe boxes to find the very best apple pie recipe. This one’s an old family recipe from Grandma, so you know it’s a goodie. Get those pretty aprons out, folks, and start kneading and chopping.

For those of you who are less ambitious or have less time (it happens to all of us!) we’ve included a simpler, easier apple crumble recipe. Just as tasty, half the work. 


Image source.

Grandma Armstrong’s Apple Pie
Makes one pie

Pastry*:
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cups shortening, margarine, or butter
4-6 tbsp cold water

Filling:
6 apples (approx., depending on size)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1 sprinkle nutmeg
1 sprinkle cinnamon
1 tbsp butter

*We’ll admit that we don’t always have time to make our own pastry so if you’re in a pinch, a store-bought frozen crust will work for this recipe.

Preparation:
1. You’ll need a very hot oven. Preheat to 450 F.

2. Sift flour and salt together and cut in the shortening with a pastry blender (or two knives).  Add water, using only a small portion at a time until the mixture will hold together.


3. Divide dough into two portions and roll each out on a floured board to desired size, depending on the size of your pie plate. 

4. Line the pie plate with one of the pieces of dough, being careful not to stretch the dough too much. 

5. Slash the remaining rolled out dough portion in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. We like the same design Grandma taught us, a wheat sheaf, but you can get creative with yours and try a lattice top, apple shape or anything else you can think of.




6. Peel and slice apples. We like a tart apple like McIntosh, but Granny Smith, Cortland and Empire are good choices too.

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7. Sift dry ingredients over and mix in with apple slices. 


8. Fill the pastry-lined pie plate with the apple filling and top with dots of butter.

9. After filling is placed in pastry, dampen the edges of lower crust with cold water and cover with the dough portion that was rolled, slashed, and set aside. Press edges together with prongs of a fork (or both thumbs).

10. The secret trick to a golden pie crust? Brushing the whole top crust and edges with milk.




11. Place in the oven at 450 F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to moderate (350 F) and bake for 45 minutes longer.



And there you have it, one easy recipe for one delicious apple pie, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Bake it, take it to the ‘rents, share with your neighbour, or just enjoy with friends. Bon appétit!


Image source.

Apple Crisp
If the idea of making a whole pie is too daunting or you just don’t have the time, we’ve got your fall dessert dreams covered, with this easy apple crisp recipe courtesy of Homemakers Magazine (thank you!).

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Any variety of apple will work in this recipe, but we prefer a combination of Granny Smith and McIntosh apples. For the nuts, we like walnuts or pecans. Serve this with billowy whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 
Ingredients

Topping:
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
3/4 cups finely chopped walnut or pecans

Filling:
3 lbs apple (6 to 8), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Preparation
1. For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the butter and toss to coat. Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture between your fingertips until the mixture looks like crumbly wet sand. Add the nuts and toss to incorporate. Refrigerate the topping for at least 15 minutes before baking.

2. For the filling: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the apples, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest, together and place in an 8-inch-square (2-quart) glass or ceramic baking dish or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit.

3. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.


Fashion-able: a twist on the traditional hair wrap

Hair accessories have been this summer’s obsession for the style crazed. They’re fun and make us feel a bit like we’re back at camp. Quite a few of us are rocking hair wraps and feather extensions.
However – we’re antsy. We’re ready to stray from the feather norm and find the next trend before it becomes just that. Lara set out on a mission and came up with what we consider the next big coif thing: the braided hair wrap.

It involved finding a decent piece of cloth, a camera and that’s about it. We went to Mokuba, picked up 13 inches of a fuschia turquoise piece of cloth, and got to work. Check it out:

So – how did we do this? Easy as 1-2-3…literally.
Step one:
Take a small section of hair and split into three equal parts.
Step two:
Secure the fabric around one of the parts of hair with a knot.
Step three:
Braid the hair, intertwining the fabric, and finish with a clear hair elastic.
Et voila! A pretty, boho little surprise peeking out from your layers. Easy to put in, easy to take out, and you’ll be wearing it before anyone else. Warning – addictive.

Want one? Come see us on the fourth floor. We charge in smiles and hugs. Bring us cookies and we’ll like you even more. P.S. Don’t come during TIFF. Though we’ll still accept cookies.

Fashion-able: Nail Art

We ladies on the fourth floor have a bit of an office-wide obsession with nail polish. Many lunchtime conversations are dominated by talk of our new favourite shades or nail art. Needless to say, we are thrilled to see articles on nail trends popping up in Toronto Life and T Magazine

We could wax rhapsodic about our current favourite colour (it’s Deborah Lippmann’s Yellow Brick Road, in case you were wondering), but instead we thought we’d share some nail designs we’ve been itching to try out this summer.


Are you sick of the royal wedding yet? We aren’t. Especially after seeing Paige’s incredible Duchess Catherine-inspired manicure. The blue polish is OPI‘s Dating a Royal and the crystals are by Swarovski. The best part? This was a DIY home manicure. So impressive!

This rainbow-hued, glitter manicure by Naomi Yasuda would be perfect as birthday party nails. It’s an aggressive and complicated design, but could be re-created at home with a few fun glitter nail polishes (such as these or these). Glitter polish is nice worn on it’s own, or as a sheer layer over a complementary colour. 

Image Source

For those of us not blessed with a steady hand, Konad nail stamps are probably the easiest way to create nail art at home. The stamps take a little practice to apply properly, but once you get the hang of it, you open yourself up to a world of exciting nail designs. In Toronto, you can buy Konad products at Wow Wow Nails


Finally, this ladybug manicure from London-based manicurist Emma is so adorable, but may be a bit complicated for the amateur nail artist. If your inner child is screaming for ladybug or watermelon-inspired tips, then get thee to Tips Nail Bar, where their talented staff can paint any design you can dream up. 

Get painting!

Yum, yum: DIY Whoopie Pies

Carly was feeling domestic again, and decided to take on the project of baking her very own version of the uber-trendy dessert, whoopie pies, complete with her very own expert (Bubbie), photographer (Dad) and intern/clean-up crew (Mom). Success or #fail? Read on to find out. 

Like most good cooking blogs, this one begins with a trip to the mall. To get your Bakerella on, buy whoopie pie mix, courtesy of Williams-Sonoma. You’re well on your way to success, and no one needs to know that it’s not from scratch.

Back at home, take your mix and line it up with your other ingredients. That’s one egg, lots of butter, and a jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Smile big for the camera.


Beat the butter until whipped. For those of you that forgot to leave the butter out for optimal room temperature whipping purposes, feel free to microwave the stuff. I did. Then, mix ingredients together:

 
Add egg.
Pour in mix.

Beat until there’s no more nasty clumps. 
If your mix looks weird, call in the expert. It is likely that you forgot an ingredient. Just sayin’.
Pour in forgotten ingredient (in this case…milk). Beat again.
Spoon clump-free batter into 16 cookie shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet .
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees Celsius. Wear chic oven mitts with your stripe-on-plaid outfit, and take out when fluffy. It is also not a bad idea to pre-heat the oven (oops).

On to the filling: it’s Marshmallow Fluff time. Use the whole jar. 

It’s a sticky situation, so have your expert on hand.

Let’s put these whoopies together now, people. Begin with one chocolate cookie. 

Spread the icing over the cookie, and top off with a second cookie. If I made the icing bit look easy, trust that it isn’t.

Press cookies into place, and show off your new polish change in Blue My Mind by OPI.

Enjoy them, but not too many of them. It will hurt your stomach.

Serve these special thank-yous to your crew. 

Special shout out to my expert baker (Bubbie), photographer (father) and clean-up crew (thanks, Mom).

Yum, Yum: Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

Those who say “you can’t have it all” have never been to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, at 511 Bloor Street West. A cool snack mecca, Menchie’s offers fro-yo lovers over 100 rotating flavours to top with some 60 rotating toppings. Literally, you can have it all on your yogurt, if you want.

Image source.
At Menchies, some of the best combinations begin with mixing and matching. You grab your cup, and make a tough decision. You can fill it with chocolate espresso, coconut, vanilla latte, no-sugar-added boysenberry, low-carb angel food cake or dairy-free mango tango sorbet.

Next, sprinkle your yogurt with snack bar toppings, like peanut butter chips, Jelly Bellies, and m&m’s, the Chill Bar’s blueberries, cheesecake bits and mochi, or Hottie’s sauces in chocolate or caramel.

Menchie’s fans pay by weight, not per topping, so be sure to load up on fun fixings. There is no such thing as fro-yo with too many marshmallows.

After recovering from our latest PS. I Made This disaster venture, we were finally ready to take on another DIY project. We joined the ever-present line at Menchie’s, and began our yogurt dessert cup with a birthday cake and frozen hot chocolate base. To that, we added sprinkles, Oreo cookies, carob chips, strawberries and bananas.


Yes, we made it, we liked it and we ate it all.