The sun and fall breeze left with the weekend’s ease. It was a busy few days, but it seems the way Octobers go, each weekend will be as so. Party here and festival there, finally Halloween, and we’re halfway through fall when we just waited for it to begin! Enjoy this season in every way–each autumn memory.
Tea is a newfound love of mine, and I love to drink it iced for any meal or warm to decompress after a long day. My favorite brew is Earl Grey: a black tea flavored with the oil of bergamot oranges. Citrusy and floral–mmm! I’m a bit new to the tea game, so just recently I learned the definition of a London Fog. It is, plainly, an Earl Grey Latte–or Earl Grey tea with milk and a bit of vanilla flavor. I’ve never had one, so it’s now on my bucket list! I wonder if Starbucks has one worth trying…
Whilst browsing Pinterest as usual, I found the recipe for this London Fog tea cake that has Victoria Sponge cakes infused with tea leaves, drizzled in an Earl Grey simple syrup, and topped with a light vanilla cream and a sprinkle of dried (edible) flowers. When I tell you that I can remember every delicious bite of this cake, I’m not lying! This recipe is from the blog Not Quite Nigella. I saw there’s a Chai Spice Tea Cake as well, and that one will be next on the tea cake list!
This recipe requires a moderate skill level to properly bake the sponge. According to Lorraine, it is quite the “temperamental” cake! She recommends not to open the oven door to check on it or even turn the oven light on. I was worried that my sponges weren’t going to come out as fluffy and flat as I wanted. Alas, I ended up with one concave layer (which ended up on the bottom). If you look closely at her cross-section though, it seems like she had extra cream in the middle, too! So maybe I wasn’t the only one with a wimpy layer.
One thing I loved about NQN, is that she writes so well and teaches along the way. I don’t know much about the science of baking, so when I can learn something, I take it gratefully! I learned the namesakes of Earl Grey tea and Victoria sponges, and I also learned how that sponge differs from a more common cake (chiffon). I very much enjoyed her slight digression to talk about a book she was currently reading and her thoughts on that. It seemed to be part of her inspiration for this recipe.
I always appreciate a simple recipe/recipe card at the base of a blog post because it is concise and I can’t miss a step. She makes each ingredient clear and gives ideas for substitutions or ingredients that might work better than others. For example, she explains that using duck eggs for Victoria sponges because the extra protein in them makes stiffer peaks when whipped, allowing for a sturdier sponge. (Probably would have helped with my sunken one…) It is also so simple to decorate. Just spread a ton of that delicious whipped cream between the layers and on top, and sprinkle with whatever edible flowers you have around. I just used some lavender and rose petals. So yum!
I have to be honest. There was nothing about this recipe I didn’t like! The only let-downs I came across was my scarcely-stocked kitchen. I needed a scale for more accurate measuring (which I now have).
Also, I believe you can’t be stingy on the Earl Grey simple syrup. One would think that it’d be potent, but it really isn’t. There is an Earl Grey aroma to the cake already, but to get some real tea flavor, it needs a good amount. Just not so much that it is sitting in a sugary bath! I wish she would have mentioned how much she used, because I don’t believe she used all of it! Or…maybe she did? Because I don’t bake as often as I wish I could, I’m not attuned to the ratios of ingredients to use.
I would absolutely recommend this recipe to anyone. The cake is spongey (because, you know, it’s a sponge) and moist, and the whipped topping is hardly sweet at all. It was an airy dessert that is easy to eat after a heavy meal. I also had it with coffee or tea in the afternoon as a light snack after work.
Definitely keep this baby in the fridge. The whipped topping needs to be refrigerated to keep solid. It isn’t a let-down for me because it comes in the territory. Any whipped cream should be kept in the refrigerator! Moist cakes, too, most of the time.
Everyone in my family + my beau were enchanted by this delightful tea cake. It whisked them away! (Get it?)
Hey, friends! Happy Friday. I stayed home from work today (much to my dismay) nursing a migraine. Alas, I hope your Friday was much more enjoyable!
One of the best parts of Halloween fun is decorating the house. Halloween is one of my absolute favorite holidays, and it is also fun to cook and munch on festive snacks amidst the ghouls and vampires haunting every corner of the house. A dining room table, whether or not you are entertaining, is a great place to spook up the room! Everyone seems to meet at the dinner table for food/snacks at my house.
Flower arranging is also one of my favorite hobbies, so why not combine flowers and Halloween? Not the usual combination, but I’ve seen some arrangements that are to die for! In this segment of the Autumn Lovin’ Series, I’m giving you some easy ways to spookup your bouquet.
For your basic arrangement, you can buy your own flowers to arrange, or purchase one from a florist. I used fresh flowers because I just prefer them. It is helpful to put your greenery first, if you have lots of it, but because most of what I was adding were flowers, I just accented with a few pieces of greenery from the yard.
Also, when adding your flower or greenery, point the stem toward the opposite side of the vase, and stick it in the vase at an angle.
I found long, spindly stems of fake vines and branches, two of which were orange and black–perfect for that Halloween-spooks vibe! After trimming them a bit, I poked them in sort of haphazardly to give the arrangement a whimsical, uneven appearance. These stems will provide an excellent space for cobwebs.
Yes, you read that right—cobwebs! I learned this next trick from a demonstrator at a florists’ convention (sorry…Halloween jokes…I just can’t help myself. #corny).
First, you’ll want to heat up your hot glue gun and get an extra stick of glue just in case (I used a lot). I used two pieces of floral foam for silk flowers. Then squirt the hot glue all over the styrofoam and quickly rub them together. When you pull them apart, you’ll see delicate tendrils of glue that resemble nasty spiders’ webs!
Prepare your materials…
1. Squirt the glue
2. Rub blocks of foam together
3. Pull apart to reveal strings
4. Wrap your flowers and admire!
Next, you’ll just wrap these sticky strings around your arrangement, however you want them to look. Some will clump up and be uneven, but that is perfect. Cobwebs are clumpy and weird-looking. This is nasty and full of Halloween spirit, okay?! Make it creepy! Make your arrangement in a skull like I wanted to! Cobwebs are just the perfect touch.
Click to reveal larger image
Do you enjoy decorating for Halloween, too? We used to deck-out our old garage to be one of the scariest in the neighborhood! I’ll be decorating my beau’s apartment door next week for a contest, so I’m psyched for that.
I’ve also been up to a Write 31 Days challenge. See my Instagram account in the sidebar to catch up on everything Coffee Thoughts!
And if you’d like some more hauntingly great inspiration, visit my Pinterest board, Autumn Lovin’!
Linus: You don’t believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.
Sally: Welcome to the 20th century!
– It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
We’ve almost made it, fellow 31-dayers!
Tomorrow marks one of my favorite holidays of the year, so I had to get started on my preparations today! I spent most of my afternoon baking after volunteering with the toddlers at church. We found some holiday-flavored cake mixes that I just had to try. Today I made a dozen apple cider cupcakes; and, boy, did they smell the part. I got the idea for the tombstone brownies from the Food Network Magazine. These were Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Brownies with Pumpkin Spice Milano cookies as the tombstones. I actually recommend using the regular Milano cookies, because the pumpkin spice flavor was a bit much and got sickening really quick. I just had to try them because…pumpkin and spices and autumn.
Cutting, gutting, and carving up pumpkins has to be one of my all-time favorite Halloween activities! I wish I had pumpkins around all year to carve for every holiday ever. From the slippery seeds to that tart smell, pumpkins are my soul mates. I always seem to choose the most round and fat pumpkin from the store or (if I’m lucky enough) the patch. Mittens sat right by us while we carved, sticking his nose inside the pumpkins to see if it was worth his time to take a taste.
I’ve been dying to try the Chile Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks. I have a secret love for Mexican hot cocoa, and the hot version of this beloved coffee was so divine; it is a regular mocha with chile powder sprinkled inside and out. I heard the frozen one was even better, and I have to admit that I think it was. Do you have a favorite seasonal drink this season? Is it a new favorite, or a traditional treat? Will you be participating in any festivities tomorrow?
My beau is such an artist…and he doesn’t think so. Pfft!
We made some pretty ones!
Where flowers bloom, so does hope.
– Lady Bird Johnson
The days are getting cooler and drier. It feels so wonderful outside! If the stars were more visible, it would definitely be a star-gazing night. My beau and I made cookies tonight, instead. His were just stunning!
The Farmer’s Market was full of people, and the park was just gorgeous. We took a walk through a wooded trail, avoiding piles of dog feces. Gross. We sat through a cooking show and got a free sample of seafood soup (because I can’t remember what they called it). It was delicious! I’d never had black drum before, and Paul, the chef, threw in scallops and shrimp as well. The only downside about the dish other than the scallops was the fact that I ate it on an empty stomach.
Does a cup of coffee count as breakfast? Two, maybe…?
Pretty pretty pumpkins
Rows of rainbows.
Mums and snaps in full bloom
Mom and I went off to a nursery afterwards to snatch up a few pretties to put next to the house. There are petunias, marigolds, snap dragons, a cabbage (yep!), and some zinnias. Full house—er, bucket. Their pumpkins and gourds were beautiful, too. I wonder if some are a cross between the two.
I’d like to begin with an apology. I missed last week’s Tempered Tuesday… How about we give it another go? I’ve plenty of things to temper in my life, so I’ll double-up this week!
MY POOR, SWEET PETS I live on campus, so I’m not allowed any pets in my apartment. The closest I can come is my plants…which are infested at the moment. (That’s a story for later.) When I go home most weekends, I’m able to play and love on them to make up for my absence. My oldest baby, Mittens, and I had a great time strolling through the yard and smelling all of the flowers.
It was delightful. I don’t spend nearly enough time with them, though, and I also enjoy it. There are so many other things occupying me that I can’t always pull away to devote time to them while I’m there. I hope to have much more time this summer after graduation. My rabbit, Ashes, longs for snuggles! She waits too long for attention. My mother works and my brother…well he just doesn’t spend time with her like I do. I used to spend hours in the room with her, stroking her long face and ears. The other day, she got a little warm outside and stretched herself out to let her thick coat breathe. She was so excited when I walked through the door that she hopped up gleefully and gave me fuzzy kisses. I’d love to be able to give them the love they need so they are no longer lonely for days at a time.
MY WRITING It has been too long since I’ve had plenty of time to think and write all in one session. I write the best when I have time to brainstorm and write as I go. When I was in middle and high school, I was able to sit at my computer screen for hours thinking and typing out short stories that never seemed to wrap themselves up. But just like exercising, I need to set some time aside for my writing. As much time as I waste, there has to be at least one day where I can take a few hours to become inspired and just write.
One rainy day, before the 30 mph wind gusted on through, my mother and I strolled down the gravel road to Main Street to get a look at our favorite tree. We have no idea what this tree is (if you know, please enlighten us!), but I vowed that someday I would find out! My mother loves cherry blossom trees, and this one reminds her of them. We’ve plucked off branches and made arrangements out of them for a few years now, and still we have no idea what this beautiful, fairy-tale tree could be! Here sprung my idea for perspective. 6 different perspectives on one tree; a Spring perspective.