Spiced muffins with a Nutella heart

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Here is my first Nutella recipe. And I have to say that it was really good!
I call them spiced muffins because there’s cinnamon and nutmeg in. The taste of the nutmeg is very subtle. It’s really the cinnamon that predominates, but that’s also because there’s a cinnamon topping on the muffin.

Let’s get started!
This is what you need for the muffins:
– 75 gr of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
– 100 gr of granulated sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
– 120 ml of milk (cow, almond, soy)
– 190 gr of self-rising flour
– 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt
– A big jar of Nutella!

And these are the ingredients for the topping:
– Granulated sugar
– Ground cinnamon
– 50 gr of unsalted butter

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We start with the muffins, but first preheat the oven to 220°C. Then, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk.

Now, sieve the flour above the bowl, and also add the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in gently. Do not overmix, stir until *just* combined.

Put one tablespoon of the mixture into the muffin cups. Layer this with one teaspoon of Nutella in the center and spoon another tablespoon of mixture on top. Repeat layering into each muffin cup. I got exactly 9 muffins.

Bake at 220°C for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce temperature to 175°C and bake for an additional 13-17 minutes. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes. As you can see, I put too much into my muffin cups and some of them overflowed. Well, I read that if you fill the empty cups half with water, your muffins can bake ‘even’. So I will definitely try this next time!

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While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping. Melt the butter  in the microwave. If the butter is not completely melted, stir and if it’s still not melted, put it back in the microwave. In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.

Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Swirl them around in the cinnamon-sugar a bit to make sure you get a thick coating.

And you’re done already. I really liked it, because I’m a huge cinnamon fan and since the topping is made with granulated sugar, it’s quite crunchy and the mix of both textures, crunchy and soft is a great combination.

You should definitely try it yourself!

Lots of love,
Laura

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Wednesday January 28th

Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to say, I’ll go ahead and say them anyway.
– Lily Allen

This is from the song ‘Hard Out Here’ by Lily Allen. Even though I completely do not identify myself with the lyrics of this song, I do like the melody and this specific phrase. And I can find myself in this phrase.

I am not the kind of person who can sugarcoat my words while saying something. I’ve known for a long time that I am quite a direct person but I became really aware of it when I was about seventeen and wanted to talk to someone about something ‘big’ (I don’t remember what it was, it’s so long ago and apparently it wasn’t that big!) Anyway, I was telling what I was going to say to one of my girlfriends starting by ‘I am going to do this very subtle’. When finished her reaction was ‘Okay, that’s fine. But what is subtle about it?’ And at that exact moment I realized that I cannot sugarcoat my words and I doubt if I will ever be able to.

I don’t think it’s a bad trait. I’m someone who likes finishing things good but fast, I do not like waiting and certainly not beating about the bush. So being direct is just a small part of the bigger picture.

And I want to emphasize that being direct is not equal to being mean or rude. It is possible to be direct and simultaneously being respectful. At least I think I am. I attach great importance to basic friendliness, because it can make someone’s day to receive a smile or a sincere hello.

Being direct or having to say ten things before telling what you want to, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to not hurt anyone with your words.

Lots of love,
Laura

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World Nutella Day 2015

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As you may know, or not know, on the 5th of February it’s World Nutella Day (Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/383562331791461/?fref=ts). And even though I don’t eat as much Nutella as I used to, I can’t miss a day like this!

I started eating less Nutella last year when I made a New year’s resolution to ban palm oil from my diet. After a while it became clear that I set the bar too high and decided to change my resolution into ‘eat less palm oil’. So once in a while I do eat some Nutella.

Now, specially for the World Nutella Day I will be making four Nutella recipes. So there won’t be a craft this week.

Here is what I am planning to bake: Nutella bread, Nutella cheesecake brownies, cinnamon muffins stuffed with Nutella, and chocolate macarons filled with Nutella mousse.

I am very excited and hope that they’ll all work out like supposed to, but even if they don’t, made with Nutella they can only taste delicious!

Lots of love,
Laura

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How To Make a Cheap Dream Catcher

Dream catchers are quite popular since a couple of years. I have to admit that I am a fan too. I find the object in itself beautiful, but I like the story behind it even more. It originates from the American Ojibwa tribe who wanted to protect their children from bad dreams, so they hung dream catchers to catch the bad dreams. Like Konrad J. Kaweczynski said:

Only good dreams would be allowed to filter through… Bad dreams would stay in the net, disappearing with the light of day.

And so the good dreams slide down the feathers to the person sleeping under it.

In Belgium dream catchers are quite expensive. For a small one you can easily pay ten euros. And since I’m just an average student I can’t spend 10 euros each time I see a dream catcher I like. So I tried to make one myself and you can too if you want to!

These are the materials you need:
– Feathers
– Ribbons
– Thread
– A pair of compasses
– Scissors
– A cutter
– Foil
– A piece of cardboard
– Super glue
– Pearls

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The first step is to draw a circle on the cardboard. Draw an inner and an outer circle. Then cut it out with a cutter or scissors.

Now cut pieces of foil to wrap around the cardboard to make it stronger.

The next step is to glue a ribbon to the foil and wrap it around the hoop. Since I only had thin ribbons I decided to put silver washi tape around it… But I didn’t like the result. I thought it looked too much like duct tape, so I put glitter tape around instead.

Now take the thread and tie one end to the hoop by making a knot. Then wrap the other end over the hoop and make loops, evenly spread out and tie the end of your last loop to the beginning of the string.

Make a second round of stitches, tying them around the center of the first loops. Pull each stitch tight. Then begin the third round and so on.

You can add little pearls to your thread if you’d like to. Only begin using the pearls at the third round of stitches and don’t forget to pull them tight. When you’re finished, make a small knot at the end and cut the rest of the thread off. On the picture below you can see that I messed up somewhere.. I think I forgot to tie the end of the thread to the beginning at the first round… But I finished the dream catcher anyway!

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Now, cut off some ribbon and attach it to the hoop like shown on the next picture.

Then I glued the ribbon at the top and also at the bottom, so the ribbon cannot come off. Do the same at the bottom of the hoop but don’t glue the ends of the ribbon.

Now, put some glue into a pearl and put the ribbon in it at one side and a feather at the other side. Do the same for the other end of the ribbon.

Your dream catcher is ready to hang above your bed!

Below you can see the first dream catcher I made with the aid of a manual. And as you can see I managed to weave the web as it should be :-)
What do you think of it?

Lots of love,
Laura

Wednesday January 21

Life is a book and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read. – Cassandra Clare

Do you ever wonder what you will look like when you’re old?
Do you ever wonder how you will look back on your life?
Do you ever wonder how you will live your life? Will you live a risky and adventurous life or a secure but fulfilling life?

Where you will be in five years? What will your kids look like? Will you be a good parent? Will you always be a good (enough) sister or brother or daughter? Will you be doing a job you like? And where, in which country, for what company?

Where will you live? In a city or in a village? A house or an apartment? How will your home look like? Clean and modern or messy and cosy? Will you still have the same hobbies? Will you rediscover an old hobby or discover a new one?

Will you feel energetic by living the life you’ll be living? Will you be satisfied or will you always wonder if there’s more?

Will you be happy? Will you love and be loved?

Sometimes I wonder…

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Lots of love,
Laura

Tepid Greek Salad

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Today I made a salad for lunch. I don’t know what your experiences are with salads, but I get quickly hungry again because it doesn’t fill enough. Since there’s also pasta in this salad, it filled very well! And the preparation time isn’t too long.

These are the ingredients:
– Two sweet chili peppers (or more, if you really like it)
– A zucchini (I used half of it)
– One red onion (I also used half of it, I add them so the onion give its flavor to the other ingredients, but I don’t actually eat them. I’m not a great onion fan :-) )
– 50 gr of arugula/ rocket
– 150 gr of black pitted olives
– 150 gr of feta
– 200 gr of artichokes
– 250 gr of Greek pasta
– Fresh rosemary sprigs
– Raspberry vinegar
– Olive oil
– Pepper and salt

Peel the sweet chili peppers, cut in half and take out the seeds. Heat a grill pan, put some olive oil on the peppers and in the pan, and bake them on each side for a couple of minutes. While doing this, preheat the oven to 180°C and pour some olive oil into a baking dish. When the peppers are baked, put them into the dish with the rosemary and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then, I cut half of the zucchini with a mandoline and baked it in the same pan as the peppers.

Cook the Greek pasta following the instructions on the package. The next step is to cut the onion into rings, loosen them and place them in a bowl. Cut the feta, add it to the onions and add all the other ingredients: the olives, the zucchini, the artichokes (I didn’t add the oil, because I make a vinaigrette afterwards) and the pasta. To make the vinaigrette you have to mix the olive oil and the raspberry vinegar. Taste to make sure the proportions are good.

Pour the vinaigrette over all the ingredients, add pepper, salt and mix. At last, lay the peppers on the salad.

Bon appétit!
Lots of love,
Laura

Little owl with foil

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I tried out something new. It’s a little owl on a canvas with foil. I’m not completely happy with the result, but it’s not that bad either. The reason I’m not super enthusiastic is because I think the owl doesn’t ‘pop out’ enough.

But if you want to give it a shot, here’s what you need:
– A canvas
– Foil
– A pencil
– A tube of glue
– A glue stick
– Paper towel
– Cotton swabs
– Shoe polish and a sponge
DSC03634The first step is to draw something on your canvas. First my thoughts were going to a butterfly but I saw an example with an owl and I really liked it. So I decided to draw an owl. Since my drawing skills aren’t overdeveloped I searched for owl drawings and kind of copied one.
Here’s the original and the one I drew:

Next, use the tube of glue to go over the lines of your drawing and let it dry for a night.

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When the lines are dry, apply glue with the stick to the canvas, and put a piece of foil over it. Apply it with a paper towel, so you don’t break the foil. Wrap the foil around the canvas at the back of it. Next, go over the foil with a cotton swab. Begin near the lines so they really ‘come out’.

Then I used a dull pencil to go around the lines and draw some patterns. Well, some patterns.. because of a lack of inspiration I just drew circles.

The next step is to apply shoe polish with a sponge all over the foil, so the polish goes into the drawn lines. Then, wipe it off again with a paper towel and let it dry.

And it’s ready. Now, the reason I’m not that happy is because the circles I drew take in too much space in comparison with the owl. And I also think the glue I used for the lines wasn’t thick enough. Maybe I should have applied a second layer of glue… I’m not sure. Well, it’s not that bad for a first try, is it? What do you think?

Lots of love,
Laura

Wednesday January 14

A strong friendship doesn’t need daily conversation, doesn’t always need togetherness, as long as the relationship lives in the heart, true friends will never part. – Unknown

I’ve got this quote for over a year on my phone. From time to time I go through the quotes on my phone and I couldn’t agree more with this one.

A friendship changes over the years. The kind of friendships you share do also change. As a teenage girl, it was all about laughing non stop, and liking, but even more important, not liking the same things. After high school everyone goes his own way and only some true friends remain.

Today, we all have our own lives, the remaining high school girlfriends as well as the friends made later on. And nope, I don’t see them or talk to them every day. Even though they’re all wonderful and talking with them makes me happy.

I’ve got a friend at the other side of the country. I’ve got a friend at the other side of the world. And I’ve got friends in the same city and not talking with them every single day doesn’t mean I don’t think about them or miss them.

Hearing a song, seeing an ad on the street, being somewhere where you’ve been together,… Everything can recall a memory. And I smile. And I think of the beautiful friendship we share. And while smiling I hope these beautiful friends will stay with me, and I know I’ll stay with them, for as long as possible.

Even without daily conversation and togetherness.

Lots of love,
Laura

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Delicious Mini Croissants

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Perfect for a lazy Sunday morning.
Perfect for chocolate lovers.
And ready in no time!

This is what you need:
– One egg
– A basting brush
– Chocolate
– A puff pastry sheet

DSC03368First preheat the oven to 180°C (read what is written on the package to be sure :-) ). Unroll the puff pastry sheet and cut it in eight triangles.

Now put a piece of chocolate on the pastry at the widest part of the triangle and roll it up like a croissant.

Close the ends of the croissants by pushing the pastry together with your fingers. Whisk the egg and put it on the croissants with the brush.

DSC03376Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes (again, read what is written on the package :-) ).

Your mini croissants are ready.
Bon appétit!

Lots of love,
Laura

Wednesday January 7

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This ain’t just a quote. It’s almost a novel! But I really wanted to share this with you, because I think these are beautiful words and I really like reading them over and over again. And I truly do believe them. At this moment I am reading ‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks, so I am quite in a romantic and poetic mood and this may have influenced my choice.

It is a beautiful thought knowing you belong to someone and someone belongs to you. Knowing someone is missing you and your presence will make them happier, complete.

“Very few ever succeed.” I truly believe I succeeded. And I wish everyone would. I wish everyone could experience the lovely feelings of unconditional love, trust and feeling complete. Feeling like completely yourself only when you are together, because this other person is part of you and when you’re not together a part of you is missing.

And simultaneously those lovely feelings are kind of frightening. What happens when your soul mate is far away? There’s no doubt, you’ll miss this person incredibly. You’ll miss the feelings you experience when you are together. And maybe you’ll miss yourself. It may sound weird, but maybe you’ll miss what you are when you are together, the kind of person you are while receiving this love. And when your soul mate is far away, a part of you is missing. You are not whole anymore. Who will you be without this lovely person? Will you rediscover yourself and parts you didn’t know, which you will share with your soul mate when you are together again? Or will you just feel empty, lost and sad the whole time?

Sometimes these thoughts are haunting me. But I do consider myself truly happy and lucky since I am convinced I found my soul mate. And every day spent together is the greatest day of my life and every day spent apart, my thoughts are all about him and I am looking forward to feeling complete again.

I hope this post wasn’t too soft-hearted. And I do hope you all find your soul mate, and happiness. I hope even more that you are all already happy, with or without someone else.

Lots of love,
Laura