Tea for Two

Just popping in to share some of our favorite tea accessories with you. Most are perfect for a pair of tea drinkin’ fools. XO

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If your valentine loves tea, start by simply buying them their favorite blend (or the luxury blend that’s a splurge) and give it to them in a beautiful storage tin.

We love this electric kettle for our tea, coffee, and hot chocolate needs. There are a variety of cute designs out there, but if you know a tea aficionado, get them one with temperature control.

Thinking about flowers for Valentine’s Day? This poppy drink cover puts a smile on Katie’s face every time she uses it.

These Numi organic blossoming tea sets with a glass steeper pot make the sweetest gift too.

For someone who loves lose-leaf tea, an infuser is always useful. Win them over with this pixelated heart infuser.

Valentine’s Day = chocolate + tea. AMIRITE? We’re excited about these matcha dark chocolate bars from a company that’s working hard to produce chocolate with high ethical and environmental standards.

Can’t find a tea-flavored chocolate bar in your market? Try infusing their cup of hot cocoa with tea.

Serve your sweet their tea (or infused cocoa) on these beautiful marble coasters or this marble tray.

How about something for their apartment? A simple tea print for the wall? Or you can go for the absurd 

There are so many great mugs out there, we had to do a little round-up:

  • Have a Star Wars sweetheart? Why not tell them “yoda one for me“?
  • Katie’s one for understated love. You too? Get a “Meh” mug.
  • And she’s totally over hearing that moms love their kids “to the moon and back” (sorry if you’re one of them!). So this mug made her chuckle.
  • If you want to get all the adults chuckling, pick up this Animates mug.
  • Or if you want to keep it PG and stylish, grab a Haand cloudware mug.

Tea on the go is our favorite. How nice is it to open a steaming jar in the middle of a meeting or class? Pick up some biodegradable Tea filter bags, fill up your ball jar and throw an American made Holdster leather jar holder on it and you’re good to go.

 

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Floral Lip Balm

This is just one in a series of essential oil posts. Read this post if you’d like a basic primer on essentials, and this one for more information about carrier oils. Oh, and if you’d like more ideas for your Valentine, look here.

I have to admit, it wasn’t my idea to create a floral-scented lip balm, as I often shy away from flowery smells in favor of something spicy. Our sister Kristin suggested it, and then I smelled the rose essential oil, and well, now I’m hooked. And what perfect timing, because this is yet another way (in addition to our rose tea, cake, and jam) to give someone flowers for Valentine’s Day without actually buying the bouquet.

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Since this is the first lip balm recipe that we’re sharing on the blog, it’s a little long-winded as I provide some general information about both the ingredients and tools needed to make lip balm at home.

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Chocolate Cake with Buttercream and Rose Petals

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Hey Valentines!  We’re republishing an old favorite today: Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Icing and Rose Petals.  The Schu family loves this simple chocolate cake recipe. Spend a year of birthdays with us and you’re bound to have it at least a few times.  Fancy it up with some buttercream icing and the addition of dried rose petals and you have the prettiest Valentine’s Day (or any damn day) dessert.  If cupid shot you with an arrow and you’re in need of more Valentine’s Day DIYs – check out our side bar for more. Continue reading

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Rose Tea

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. If you’re looking for another way to spice up your black tea, check out our masala chai. Click here for our archive of Valentine DIYs.

Hey there, thinking about surprising your Valentine with breakfast in bed and a side of tea? No? How about just surprising him/her with an afternoon cup of tea? Either way, we have an idea for making that Valentine’s Day cup extra special ~ add some dried rose petals.

liveseasoned_winter2015_rosetea1-1024x768 copyDoesn’t that look beautiful? Think about letting your sweetheart add the dried tea and petals to the boiled water themselves, that way they can see the delicate pink petals before they go in the kettle and lose their color. #itsthelittlethings

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The rose petals will add a light floral aroma and flavor to any variety of tea. I prefer a black base, but this would also go well with the lighter flavor of a white tea.

All rose petals are edible, but not all are created/tended equally; be sure to purchase dried rose petals that were grown and processed without any pesticides or additional chemicals.

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So simple, but so sweet for your special someone on Valentine’s Day.

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Homemade Nutella

 Nuts are our ingredient of the season. You can visit our full archive of nut posts here.

When we picked nuts as our ingredient of the season, I was excited because I knew it would encourage me to try some new recipes, and this homemade nutella is the perfect example. We are a nutella-loving household, but I had never thought to make my own until now.

liveseasoned_spring2015_nutella2-1024x834 copyIf you aren’t familiar with Nutella, it’s a chocolate and hazelnut-based spread from Italy. The original recipes consisted of mostly chocolate and hazelnut, but unfortunately the main ingredients for the modern recipe are sugar and palm oil. And that’s why this is a treat worth making at home, because as you’ll see, this recipe has a solid base of hazelnuts and chocolate. Of course, it also means that making this batch will cost more than picking up a jar from your local market, particularly if you buy quality hazelnuts and choclate, but I think you’ll discover that it’s worth the price. Additionally, jars of homemade nutella make great gifts from the kitchen {in fact, if only I had thought about it sooner, this would have been the perfect treat for Easter baskets!}.

Homemade Nutella

Homemade Nutella

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Toast the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet in a 350F oven. Be sure to stir them every few minutes, and they will be done when they just start to brown and their skins blister (may take anywhere from 7-10 minutes).
  2. Once done, immediately pour the nuts onto a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. It's ok if some skins remain stuck to the nuts. Let them cool completely before using.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (we like to use a pyrex measuring cup in a pot of simmering water).
  4. In a food processor, finely grind the hazelnuts until they begin to form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla, and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add the melted chocolate and blend well.
  5. If there are any chunks of hazelnuts, strain them out. The nutella will be thin and runny until it cools. It will keep on the counter for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long!).
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It’s common to spread nutella on toast, but that doesn’t interest me. I prefer it with a banana or on a scoop of vanilla ice cream. How do you eat your nutella? Straight from the spoon?

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Banana Valentine!

We are all about balance around these parts . Sarah’s balance goes something like this: wake up at 4:00am to catch a sunrise from the summit of a mountain then spend the next 24 hours sleeping. Me? I’m always trying to strike a balance between showing my guys I love them by making fussy treats and then leaving a few oh-so-simple surprises around the house that have just as much meaning. Today we’re sharing the latter. A simple surprise that will put a smile on anyone’s face.

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You’ve probably seen this trick before, but we wanted to remind you of it again, especially if you woke up today realizing that you still don’t have anything for your Valentine. Don’t stress, just pick up a banana and follow these tips.

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Rosehip Jam

While roses and treats are synonymous with Valentine’s Day, we wanted to turn that tradition on its head by suggesting you make a sweet rosehip jam instead! Plus, you can get around those thorny environmental and social impacts by skipping the bouquet this year. And, if you’re about to tune out because we’re suggesting making a jam, hang in there because this jam contains only two (2!) ingredients and doesn’t require any cooking. It’s that easy, folks. liveseasoned_w2015_rosehipjam4-1024x954 copy

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Pistachio and Orange Torrone

Orange is our ingredient of the season. You can find our full archive of zesty orange posts here, with everything from cocktails and cakes to candies and cleansers.

If you’re looking for a fun alternative to chocolates for Valentine’s Day, pistachio and orange torrone may be it! But I have to admit, it took me over two months to build up the courage to try making this recipe. Calder came across it in an issue of Bon Appetit while researching recipes for Thanksgiving. The ingredients were purchased, and I promised to make it for the holiday (Thanksgiving, not Valentine’s Day). Then I didn’t, and I didn’t make it for Christmas or New Year’s, but here we are and I’m finally making the sweet for my sweet!liveseasoned_w2015_torrone14-1024x775 copy

Torrone is a nougat-type treat made from honey, sugar, egg whites, and nuts, commonly almonds. The nougat comes in two varieties, either hard and brittle or soft and chewy. This recipe is for the soft and chewy variety. Torrone is a traditional Spanish treat served at Christmas, and is popular in many countries that were previously under Spanish rule, including Italy, Latin America, and the Philippines. The combination of citrus flavor and pistachios in this recipe is are characteristics of an Italian torrone.

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Valentine Archives

Hey there sweethearts! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we wanted to share/re-share some super simple projects for dressing up your space and celebrating the ones you love. And don’t forget to put on your favorite lovey-dovey playlist as you craft.

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Instead of packing away the felt hearts I made as Christmas ornaments, I strung them on a piece of rustic twine to create a mini garland that greets guests right inside our door.

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If you’re throwing a party, Sarah’s tassel and lace garland makes the perfect decoration and photo backdrop!

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Easy Citrus Sweets

Oranges are our ingredient of the season. You can find our complete archive of orange posts here. Around the holidays we love to use them for crafts, drinks, and treats!

Christmas is so close! Today we’re popping in with a couple of orange treats : candied rinds and orange-flavored marshmallows. Both recipes are so easy to make, take relatively little time (so you’ll still have time to make them when you’re up late waiting for Santa), and they make a unique addition to any dessert table and hot cocoa mug!

liveseasoned_w2015_orangetreats12_wm-1024x696 copy First up, the candied rinds. I like to use a combination of orange and grapefruit for this recipe. It’s nice having the two flavors, but I also really like the variation in color that using more than one variety of citrus provides. Candying the rinds requires boiling them in a sweet syrup before rolling them in sugar, and while both steps are meant to create a sweet, candy, the finished rinds can still have a some bitter undertones that may make your lips pucker. This is one of those flavors that keeps some people coming back for more while others (Calder) pass after their first sample.

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I use a technique that I learned years ago from Martha Stewart, and it’s consistently worked well over the years. But I’ve noticed that she offers a number of different methods for candying citrus rinds on her website, and they vary widely in both the ingredient ratios and the cooking times, so if your variation differs from my, by all means, stick with what you know.

Ingredients

  • 2 oranges & 1 grapefruit
  • 4 cups sugar, plus more for coating
  • 4 cups water, plus more for boiling
  • chocolate, optional

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 How-to

  • Prepare the rinds. Cut the ends off the fruit and make 5 to 6 slices through the rind, but not the fruit, from top to bottom. Gently remove the rind pieces with your fingers. You can leave most of the pith attached to the rind, but use your pairing knife to cut off any excess or particularly mangled sections. I use this opportunity to make the pith side of my rind smooth, and if I have a grapefruit with a particularly thick rind, I may slice of a little bit extra. Cut the rinds into 1/4 inch slices. If the grapefruit rinds are particularly long, I will cut them in half.
  • Place the rinds in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat this process one more time.
  • Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rinds and reduce pot to a simmer. Continue simmering for about an hour. At this point the strips should look translucent. Remove the rinds with a slotted spoon and let them cool on a baking rack.
  • Once cool, roll the strips in  sugar. You can also dip them in melted chocolate for an extra special treat.

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I think these make a great addition to any cookie or chocolate tray, but they would also be a fantastic garnish on a slice of chocolate cake or (minus the chocolate) in your Christmas-morning mimosas!

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Next up, orange-flavored marshmallows! I’m in love with these. The first time I made marshmallows was last February, and making them a second time just confirmed how easy it is to produce these light and fluffy sweets! I used the exact same corn syrup-free recipe, with the exception of using orange extract in place of the vanilla and orange dye in place of the red. Otherwise, I followed the tips and steps to a T, so rather than retype everything, I’ll just redirect you to that post and below I’ll share the fluffy orange-y goodness in photos.

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The real magic happens in this recipe when you start to beat the hot liquid with an electric mixer. Before your eyes the tan liquid turns white and expands as air is incorporated.

Once you’re done whipping the marshmallows, it’s just a matter of deciding what to do with them, and you have a few options. Are you going to add a color? I like playing with marbling. With my last batch, I mentioned that I was too reserved with the marbling, so I tried to go bigger this time. I poured half of the marshmallows into a square baking dish, then added red and yellow dye that I blended together as I marbled it through that layer. I then poured the rest of the marshmallow into the pan and again, mixed it slightly to move the dye up into the second layer. As you can see from the first marshmallow photo, I ended up with some pretty good orange streaks. You can also go with a solid color, or you can try stripes!

In addition to color, you can think about size and shape. I go for the big, fluffy squares, but since it’s the holiday, you may want to use cookie cutters to make shapes. If so, then pour your marshmallows into a larger dish to create a thinner layer that’s easy to cut out.

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Ok, now once your marshmallows have cooled, you just have the hard job of deciding how to eat and gift them. Start by dipping some in a big mug of hot cocoa, or let them a while and melt right into your mug. I did that today, and it creates this really tasty orange marshmallow layer on top of the cocoa, with each sip you get a bit of the melted, gooey orange flavor and it’s amazing. If you’re not going to keep them all to yourself, you could package up a few marshmallows and pair them with a good cocoa as a stocking stuffer. Just make sure to use an airtight bag for packaging, because you don’t want them to dry out before they’re enjoyed. 

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There you have it ~ two ways to add a note of citrus to your holiday! Now we’re off to finish wrapping presents {and we’ll be doing it with that mug of cocoa above, obvs.}…. oh, I may be experimenting with one more way to add some citrus to my homemade chocolates. We’ll be back with the full report if it works!

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