Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A new year, a new goal...

It's already January 18 and I told myself that I would try and post to my blog more regularly as my New Year's resolution.  Fail.  Better late than never though. Anyhow, I've been quite the busy bee since my last posting.  Between baking and gift making for the holidays, New Years celebrations, family obligations, friends in town and going to work, life has been pretty hectic for the last few months.  I have, however, managed to conjure up a few cool things that I've found and created lately.

First up, I had the wonderful opportunity to take photographs for the always lovely Candace Morrow.  We had a lot of fun taking these photos and I think she was satisfied with the end result.  Thanks to my good friend Bo Shell for helping me do a bit of touch up.  (Sadly my MacBook can't handle the load of even really opening Photoshop, much less working with photos in it, anymore.)

Here are my favorite black and white photos from the session:

 And here are a few of my favorites in color:

In the past few months, I also managed to get in a few applications to grad school, hopefully for an MFA in Photography or a Masters in Journalism.  Who knows what will come out of it?  It's all in the hands of the decision makers at this point.

Get ready for more photos, music updates and all around baking and craft links beginning again tomorrow. I'm setting aside 30 minutes at least two times a week.  Or at least that's my New Years Resolution. Happy 2011 everyone!  Here's to a great year! 

-J. Luton

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pecan, Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

 Earlier this week, I looked at my kitchen table and realized that I had four bananas with spotted brown spots on them just staring me in the face.  It seems that every time I buy bananas, I never manage to eat them all before they get brown and mushy on the inside.  Instead of letting them go to waste, I decided to make banana bread.

I did a quick internet search and found the best rated, most popular recipe for banana bread on allrecipes.com.  I added my own twist to the recipe, as it did not call for the addition of white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips or pecans.  For some, this bread may seem too rich, but I have a bit of a sweet tooth.  The recipe made one big loaf of banana bread, but I chose to make a small loaf of banana bread and 12 chocolate-white chocolate-pecan muffins.  I brought them into the office to share with my co-workers and they were received with great praise.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Helping Hand: Part 1

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and Christmas not far behind, I've begun researching potential projects to get in gear for the holidays. Here my list of links on everything from Thanksgiving planning to holiday and Christmas craft projects and gift ideas.  Enjoy!
A Historical Take on Celebrating Thanksgiving:
Here's a unique website dedicated to celebrating Thanksgiving in a historical manner.  Give your family some perspective on what Thanksgiving was like when the holiday first began. Check out this quick start guide to add some historical perspective to you holiday meal.

Everything Thanksgiving from Martha Stewart: 
Here's an index of Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving celebration ideas.  As always, Martha provides readers with information on everything ranging from roasting the perfect turkey to getting the stains out after the meal.

10 Solutions to Common Thanksgiving Problems
Real Simple Magazine and realsimple.com put together a list of common Thanksgiving problems and solutions.  Scan over this list, just in case you find yourself in a sticky situation this holiday.

Four Simple Thanksgiving Meal Menus from Real Simple
Real Simple Magazine also put together four simple Thanksgiving meal menus this year.  For those of you who hope to make the holiday as stress-free as possible, this list is a good start.  A simple menu means more time to spend with you family and less time slaving away in the kitchen.

Texas Layer Cake
If you're looking for the perfect sweet ending to your Thanksgiving meal, check out this recipe for Texas Layer Cake.  The recipe, which takes its origin from the infamous Texas Sheet Cake, is converted into a fancier presentation with the same great classic Southern taste.

Cranberry Cake
This classic recipe is the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving meal.  Add in some walnuts for a bit of texture and enjoy a classic recipe of the season!

Gearing up for the season: Homemade Holiday Planner
Need a little help getting organized for the hectic holiday season.  Check out this homemade holiday planner tutorial and keep everything in order this year.  The tutorial offers printable patterns to help make the planner.  All you need is a notebook, printer, glue and a bit of paper to make this project a reality.

Martha Stewart's Holiday Handbook Directory
Martha Stewart Magazine and marthastewart.com come to the rescue again this holiday season with an extensive directory of holiday crafts and projects for just about anything you can think of.  Use the directory for inspiration and get started on holiday decorating, gift making and the like.  There are plenty of unique ideas for any budget here.

Gifted Magazine
This lovely little magazine, brought to you by the Creature Comforts blog, provides an incredible array of gift giving ideas, unique projects and interviews with several craft and baking bloggers around the web.  The link above will take you to a digital version of the magazine, which you can flip through just as though you were holding an actual print version of the magazine in your hands.  

This easy to follow holiday project tutorial, brought to you by iheartnaptime, would make a great gift for co-workers and the like.  When I first saw it, I fell in love.  And I can assure you this: there will be several people on my Christmas list receiving treats like this lovely reindeer treat.

Sew, Mama, Sew! Handmade Holidays
Over at Sew, Mama, Sew!, one of my favorite crafty blogs, there's a great collection of handmade holiday gift projects.  Use them as inspiration for other projects and make some of your gifts this year.  Handmade is always better.

Pieced Fabric Notebook Cover Tutorial
For another great gift idea, head on over to the mypatchwork blog and check out this great tutorial for a pieced fabric notebook cover.  It'd be an idea gift for elementary and middle school aged children.

Handmade Adjustable Coozie
Thanks to MakeitandLoveit, this great and detailed tutorial is a great project that can be paired with other items for a great holiday gift.  Make a set of coozies and customize them with initials for the football and sports fans in your life.  Then, pair the items with a six-pack of their favorite beer or soda.  Someone on your list have an affinity for ice cream?  The coozies can be used for pint-sized ice cream and paired with ice cream, toppings, a bowl and a spoon.

Handcrafted Planners, Journals and Bookmarks
I was simply inspired by Much Ado About You and her handmade, personalized planners, journals and bookmarks.  Whether you'd rather make your own version or purchase them, a personalized journal or planner would make a great gift for the for moms and children alike.

Well, that's all for this installment of Holiday Helping Hand.  But don't worry.  I'll post a whole new list of links very soon!  Until then, share your holiday projects, links and ideas by leaving a comment below.

Musical Mondays

So, it's Monday.  Nobody likes Mondays.  Seriously.  Nobody does.

So, what's the cure for this dreaded day?  Music, music and more music.  As I sit at my desk, swallowed whole by the amount of work I have to do today, the only thing that can possibly make this day better is the sound of sweet music flowing through my headphones as I write the day's news.  Here's a list of music-related links to check out.

First off, many of you are aware of Pandora Radio, but if you're not, check out www.pandora.com.  Pick your favorite artist, song or genre and Pandora will bring you a continuous selection of songs matching your tastes.  Don't like a song?  Not quite your taste?  Give it a thumbs down.  Really jamming out to a great song?  Give it a thumbs up.  Eventually, you'll feel like Pandora really knows what you like.

Another great resource that's sure to keep your earbuds full of new and interesting sounds can be found at stereomood.com.  This lovely little gem lets you pick your mood and then plays a selection of songs based on what you pick.  Happy?  Melancholy? Just woke up?  Stereomood has a list of songs for you.  Don't worry.

For another incredibly easy, multitasking-friendly way to discover new music, be sure to head on over to 8tracks.com.  Here you'll find a large collection of handcrafted playlists that have been uploaded by users all over the world.  Check out the most popular playlists or just pick one randomly.  One thing is for sure--you'll find something that you just can't get enough of.  Beyond the usual mix of indie, rock, pop and hip hop tunes, you'll find a wide range of DJ mixes which are worth a listen here.  Check it out.  Before you know it, you'll be tapping your toes and restraining yourself from the urge to burst out into song at your desk while you diligently go about your desk work.

On another note, my cousin has joined the music world and has been up to great things in Atlanta.  This weekend, Lille opened for the Dresden Dolls. Take a listen here:  http://www.myspace.com/lillemusic. Her album was released on Whale Heart Records which was apparently started by her brother Daniel, as he had lots of musically inclined friends who needed a place to call home.

Well that's all on the musical front for now.  I look forward to helping you get your week started off on the right foot again next week.  Stay tuned for a craft and baking blog post later on in the week!

P.S.  Give me your feedback.  What do you think of this post?  Any thoughts on my blog?  I want to know.  This is a new venture and I need all the feedback I can get.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Baking Links Roundup

I know it's only October, but I feel like the holiday season is just around the corner and I need all the practice I can get when it comes to testing out recipes for gifting.  Here are a few recipes that I've yet to test out, but hope to be able to soon.

Mmmm....Toffee.  If you're like me and you crave the sweet, caramel taste of toffee, these
Toffee Blondies from Baked Bree will surely appease your taste buds.toffee blondie brownie recipe

I also came across this great recipe Homemade Almond Joy candy, care of Joy the Baker.  I'm excited to try this one out, as Almond Joy is my favorite candy.  Hands down, all time favorite sweet treat.

A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at the Monster Cookie recipe over at what megan's making.  These cookies were delicious.  I shared them with co-workers and family and everyone seemed to agree that these rich, decicious, chocolate and peanut butter and oatmeal cookies hit the spot.

Enjoy these recipes and expect another recipe roundup this time next week. Until then, just remember, Friday is right around the corner.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A word on birthdays...

Last Sunday I celebrated my 26th birthday.  I don't feel that old, but I guess that's the way it goes.  Anyhow, this year for my birthday, I celebrated for an entire three-day weekend by spending time with a good friend on Saturday, seeing a movie with the boyfriend on Sunday and going to the zoo in Atlanta on Monday.  It's been a refreshing change of pace from previous birthdays and I must say that if you're looking for something to do this weekend, the new Will Ferrell movie, The Other Guys, is time well spent.  And there's really nothing like the zoo, if you're into that sort of thing.  Here's a trailer for the movie.  Check it out below. 

This year I also took matters in to my own hands in regards to a birthday cake.  I got out my recipes and found Grandmother Luton's recipe for strawberry cake and I just knew I had to make it.  There's really nothing quite like a homemade strawberry cake to celebrate your birthday in style.  To top it off, the recipe made so much cake that I've had the pleasure of sharing it with everyone at work. Here's my beautiful cake and you can find a similar recipe here.

Here's my delicious, homemade strawberry birthday cake!
Well, that's all for now.   It's been all of six days of being age 26 and I'm feeling pretty optimistic that this will be a good year. Please stay tuned for upcoming posts.