Baking with Kids : Halloween Style

Cooking with Kids is an ongoing series where we share recipes that are easy enough to make with assistance from a two-year-old. If you’re new to the series, our first post provides detailed tips for cooking baking with little ones.

The focus of this Cooking with Kids post is all on the decorating, and in this post we give you sources for all of our fun supplies (including the spider cupcake holders!). Kids LOVE decorating treats, and Halloween is the perfect time to let them go wild. Make it spooky, creepy, silly, cute. It definitely doesn’t have to be perfect. And that’s what makes this project such a hit with big and little people.

liveseasoned spider cupcakes

I like to plan projects for us to do throughout the season, some more time and energy intensive than others. Decorating spider cupcakes purposefully falls on the easier side. It’s something that you could do on an afternoon when you want to add a little bit of Halloween excitement (and sugar!) to their day.

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Independence Day Eats & Treats

Happy Fourth Y’all! This post was originally published in 2015, but we think it’s still relevant 😉 Now I gotta go blast a Bruce Springsteen album while I consume and entire watermelon and light a bunch of sparklers.

JULY

As shown from top to bottom, left to right:

Watermelon Mint Salad     Mint Agua Fresca     Homemade Pizza Four Ways

Mint Simple Syrup Mojito     Cashew Fruit Dip

Watermelon Gazpacho     Mint Ice Cream     Rosemary Infused Bloody Marys

 

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Easter Basket Idea : Bugs!

I’m so excited about this post! It may leave some of you squirming in your seats, but this sort of themed gift with unexpected items makes me so happy.

If you’ve been following us for a little while, you know that the boys in my house are really into bugs (and any animal, really).  They like looking at them, holding them, talking, and reading about them. Our boys are 2 and 4, so I geared this basket theme for that age, but I do think this basket could easily be scaled up or down depending upon the books you choose.

basket

The basket above looks innocent enough, right? Look closer, and you’ll see the edible insects!

When I saw packs edible of insects at our local nature center, I was so excited to pick up a few boxes for the boys! And since Easter’s right around the corner, I realized that they would make perfect crazy treats for their baskets.

I love the idea of introducing them to edible insects at this age because they are adventurous eaters… they already think that they’re eating worms when they eat long pieces of pork in the fried rice from our local restaurant. (We’re either awesome or horrible parents.) Anyway, I’m hoping these edible insects will be well-received and lead to conversations about eating bugs and how people in different parts of the world eat bugs every day. And, it’ll also give me a good excuse to show them some of Sarah’s photos from the Thai markets!

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A few of my favorite things…

Oh Amazon, how I love you 364 days a year, until Amazon prime renewal day when you swipe a hundred bucks out of my bank account. I’ll show you! I’ll just order a bunch of stuff and get free two day shipping. Hah! Makes sense, right? I know, I know, but really, I always end up ordering a bunch of stuff the day after my account gets renewed to justify it all. It’s called Sarah science guys. Here are some items I ordered, some items I want and a few others that I already own, but use pretty much every day. Most would make great gifts. Fa la la la la la la la la…

packs

My essential travel gear includes a well-made backpack, a hydration system, a sleeping bag to stay cozy and a light to guide the way. Here’s a gift list for the adventurer in your life.

While adventuring, I’m either hiking, practicing yoga, bouldering, or simply being.

If I’m simply traveling around town for the day, I always take my mason jar, cuppow and holdster.  My phone of course, handy dandy chapstick & balm, and a camera.

If I have no errands to run, it’s likely I’m inside trying to stay warm, dressed in a onesie, under my blankets, reading a good book or coloring this hilarious (for adults only) coloring book.

If my friends are stopping over, I’ll light a candle, prepare a cheese plate and pour some wine. To keep them occupied, I’ll put on a record and set out some of my favorite coffee table books – one, two and three. We may even get into a game or two.

If we’re talking gifts, you can never ever go wrong with a nice pair of socks, comfortable slippers, blooming tea and duhhhh luxorious body oil – although you may have to provide the massage.

At the end of the day, as much as I loooove Amazon, I’m a total sucker for local, handmade goods. If you can meet the maker and purchase items made with love and intention, you’re the real winner. This past weekend, I bought some Christmas presents from these lovely makers and shakers : Haand . Gather Goods Co .  Lo & Behold . Shop Wind Blown . JaxKelly . Kate & I also stocked the Live Seasoned Etsy Shop for the holidays – there are even some goodies for the littles in your life.

I also make an effort to buy beautiful goods from thrift stores and vintage shops. There are always treasures to be found, you just have to dig a bit. I don’t want to give away any surprises here in case my siblings are reading, but oooo did I find some sweet steals from half a century ago. More on that after Xmas.

Full disclosure : if you purchase anything through these links we’ll get a few cents from each purchase. It doesn’t increase the price on your end, but it helps us out a little bit. Cheers!
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Three Champagne and Shrub Cocktails for New Year’s Eve

_DSC1436Happy New Year’s friends!  This morning we took a few minutes from our hectic, kid-wrangling schedule to create some quick and delicious shrub and champagne cocktails.  Shrub is pretty much our favorite mixer and champagne is hands down the alcoholic bevy of New Year’s so boom – this post was born.  If you’re having a dry New Year’s, no worries, just swap out the champagne for seltzer and ignore the liquor suggestions or stir up some of these delicious mocktails instead!  If you’re down to drink, read on!

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DIY Christmas Presents : Eats & Treats

Merry Monday everyone! Christmas is coming quicker than I can handle, so while I shop online today, I’m also going to whip up a few homemade Christmas gifts that everyone on my list will enjoy.  I love giving and receiving edible gifts. Knowing the treats were made with love and care in someone’s kitchen makes them extra enjoyable.  If you still don’t have a present for me, here are a few suggestions 😉 liveseasoned_spring2015_hazelnutliqueur3-1024x889 liveseasoned_spring2015_hazelnutliqueur6

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Holiday Drinks

Happy Thanksgiving stateside friends!  No matter where you’re reading from, these delicious wintery drinks will be cause for celebration.  Gather your friends and family (or your cat) and start mixin’.

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Weekend Recipe Roundup

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Hey there! A few friends are visiting this weekend and I found myself looking up old favorites in the archives of Live Seasoned.  I thought I’d share my picks with you 🙂

Best snack EVER. Today we made a vegan version with coconut oil, nutritional yeast (instead of parmesan) and garlic.

Lemonade all the way. This lemongrass tea is exceptional too!

We love making these honey and brie crackers as a party snack.

Remember this meal? I grill up those pork skewers all the time.

Quick pickles and spinach dip are my new summer party staples.

I picked up a mixed six pack of Carolina beers and a sixer of Saranac Prism White Ale tonight.

I’ll probably make an adapted batch of these scones tomorrow for my gluten-free, vegan friend.

Oooo and some of these creamy avocado popsicles or maybe these toasted coconut ones.

Hope you all have a relaxing weekend! I’m out!

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Christmas Candids: A few tips!

I just watched a video of people unwrapping puppies and I’ve never been more grateful for family photographers.  We all want to capture the cheer and joy during holidays and gatherings so here are a few tips for photographing this year’s festivities.  First off, it really doesn’t matter if you’re shooting with a phone, point and shoot or a DSLR, these tips will work for you. Second, have fun while photographing, try to capture candid moments and remember to put down your camera for a few hours and really enjoy the moment as it is unfolding.  Happy Holidays!

White Balance

  • Check it!  The camera’s default setting is Auto White Balance, but that may not be the best option for the scene at hand.  Change the white balance to Incandescent or Fluorescent to see which setting works best for your home and lights.  If that sounded like Chinese to you, check out this Photography 101 post.

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Point of Focus

  • Pick one.  There is SO much going on at the holidays that you might see cookies, presents, lights and decorations all in one scene.  Decide what the point of focus is for your photo and zone in on that.  If it’s a little boy unwrapping a present, the photo is about his expression not the christmas tree behind him so frame the boy, not the entire living room.  Think about what you want to stand out about the photo and choose an angle that will highlight the subject not distract from it.

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Shooting on Burst Mode

  • Anytime you’re shooting action like unwrapping presents, a New Year’s toast, someone blowing out candles, shoot on burst mode.  It might also be called continuous mode and depending on your camera and settings it will take anywhere from a couple to a dozen shots each second.  Shooting on burst mode is the perfect way to capture every expression especially in candid situations.

Out-of-focus Christmas Lights

  • Lots of folks are always asking me how to achieve a bokeh effect with Christmas lights – good news, it is super easy! Simply choose a low aperture a.k.a. fstop number and that will effectively blur whatever you are not focusing on, in this case it’s the lights.  An example?  If I’m photographing my nephew in front of our Christmas tree, I want the tree to be visible so I can set the scene, yet he is the main focus of the photograph so I would set my aperture to f2.8 and focus on his sweet little face.  The tree behind him would be out of focus and therefore the lights would attain the bokeh effect. In the photos above, all three photos are of the same scene, but the light circles grow bigger as they become more out of focus. I simply pointed my camera at a Christmas tree and turned my focusing ring just out of focus, a little out of focus and majorly out of focus.

Photographing Outdoor Lights and Decorations

  • There are a few things that are relatively difficult to photograph.  Outdoor Christmas lights are one of them.  You basically have a really bright object (the lights) against a really dark object (the house and sky), which makes a tricky situation to expose properly.    I feel like we have all been here before.  You see an amazingly gorgeous sunset and you think, ‘family photo opp!’ only to be completely disappointed by the results.  You either end up silhouetted against the sun or you use the flash and hate the unnatural outcome.  It’s the same type of deal, dark and light competing for a proper exposure.
  • Head outside during twilight when the sky is nice and blue – right after sunset, but before it gets dark.  You have a small window of time for these shots, only about twenty minutes.  Set up your camera and tripod.  Choose a low ISO number like 400.  Also choose a slow shutter speed somewhere around 1/25 of a second or slower.  Set your aperture according to your light meter and then experiment from there.  I usually set up the shot, ISO and shutter speed and then take a dozen shots adjusting my aperture by one stop (click) each time.  Then I’ll scroll through the shots, decide which I like the best and set the aperture accordingly.  This time I’ll play with the shutter speed a little bit by adjusting it a tiny bit faster or a tiny bit slower.  That way you get a good variety of exposures.

Good luck and let us know if you found any of these tips useful by posting your pics to IG and tagging us 🙂

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German Christmas Markets

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In October, we revisited our adventures in Thailand.  We thought we should give you a glimpse of what we were up to a few Decembers past.  In 2010 Katie and I went to visit Calder, her fiancé (they’re married now), who was living and working in Germany.  Our trip was amazing and I think it had to do with a few key factors: Katie, C and I all get along really well, C is fluent in German (hellllllo helpful!) and we kept the trip spontaneous and largely unplanned.  Mix great buddies with little stress and lots of snow and you have a Christmas adventure that will never be forgotten.  Oh and breakfast!  Almost every hotel offered a complimentary breakfast, which consisted of a big deli platter with lots of yummy meats, cheeses and the best baked bread.  You are also offered eggs, cereal, yogurts and fruit.  We started each day with coffees and cheese, please tell me how we could have possibly had a bad time? I actually had such a blast that I completely forgot to e-mail a final paper to a professor during the trip! Yep, I wrote a ten page research paper and forgot to turn it in that’s how awesome our Christmas trip to Germany was.

Now when I think of Christmas traditions, I actually think of the German Christkindlmarkt.  I feel like visiting the markets is the most historic lens I’ve ever looked through when it comes to the holiday season. The markets are held in the center of villages, towns and cities.  The backdrop and surroundings of each market is historic and stunning in itself.  Every Christkindlmarkt has a variety of gifts and holiday goodies.  The markets are a glimpse of the past; you won’t find tacky Christmas commercialization here.  Over the course of a week, we visited five markets ranging from enormous to quaint. Each market had crib figurines, ornaments, toys, wood carvings, decorations, candles, furs and a variety of other crafts and goods.  The markets also had the most amazing food.  It kicked any American fair food’s behind.  We usually ate some type of bratwurst and sauerkraut on a fresh, crusty roll. We kept warm by sipping glühwein and sampling dozens of treats throughout the day.  Each city’s market had a slightly different vibe and while I loved visiting every one, Esslingen’s medieval market may have been my favorite.  Read on to see why…

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