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CeeCee and the Bea has a new home! After much discussion and thought, we have decided to create a new space to continue blogging at. You can find us here at Goodbye Bernadette.

We have spent the last few months refining our purpose and point-of-view as bloggers, and chose to create a completely new blogging identity to reflect that! We will continue to blog about our life and our love of handmade and homemade things. Please pay us a visit!

handmade holiday: homemade apple butter

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Good morning! Today I am happy to share with you a fun recipe–homemade apple butter! This recipe is super easy, and I know that if you’re as addicted to apple butter as I am, you’ll fall for it right away. The best part? It’s made in a slow-cooker, so you could prep this on Christmas Eve and have fresh apple butter for Christmas Day breakfast!

My apple butter escapade started out with a bright future. Becca and I spent a weekend afternoon developing a recipe from scratch, fully expecting it to be a bust. Instead, the apple butter was DELIGHTFUL. It was rich. It was creamy. It was flavorful. I proudly schmeared some onto toast every time someone came over and made them taste test it. It was getting rave reviews.

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Then came the day to actually make my quadruple-magillion batch, to can and give as gifts for the Holiday. Here’s where my plans went wayward. You see, our test recipe used four apples and made about 24 ounces. My quadruple-magillion batch consisted of enough apples to fill thirty-six 8 ounce canning jars–that’s a lotta apples! So here I am chop chop chopping away, and I come to find that the number of apples I have chopped and seasoned (about half) won’t fit in my Crock Pot. Surprise! (Sometimes I can be a real dingbat…).

So what happens next? You guessed it. I strayed from the plan. I decide to take my apples, throw them in a stock pot and boil ’em down. I truly believe this method would have worked just fine had I actually paid attention to the apples. Instead, I went about working on my finals homework for school. After all, the original plan was to throw apples into a Crock Pot and let them have it for about 10 hours while I dutifully studied. Well, we all know the beauty of the slow-cooker is the ability to walk away from it for a whole day. Boiling fruit on the stove-top does not afford that same luxury.

I endeed scorching that apple mush an inch deep at the bottom of the pot.

Shamed, I reverted back to the original plan, only to discover another oversight: HOW WAS I GOING TO COOK 5, TEN-HOUR BATCHES IN ONE WEEKEND WITH ONE CROCK POT? The answer? I wasn’t!

So, Wes and I called around and rounded up an extra Crock Pot. I reduced the cook time (with much trepidation, mind you!) from 10 to 7 hours and hoped for the best.

It turned out just fine, especially since we also cut out the added sweetener (to accommodate sugar-free diets).  But, I still think my very original recipe was the best:

HOMEMADE APPLE BUTTER

INGREDIENTS

2 Granny Smith apples

2 Fuji apples

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

a drizzle of honey

SUPPLIES

slow-cooker

immersion blender

strainer

canning supplies (if you’re planning on making a large batch and preserving***)

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice apples into sixteenths. Don’t get rid of the core/seeds–the pectin in the core will help thicken the apple butter! Toss apple slices into your slow-cooker, sprinkling with the clove, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Drizzle honey all over the top, cover with lid, and turn on low. Let those babies cook for a solid 10 hours. The apples will become dark brown, and will reduce a lot. Liquid will release and will boil. All of these things are good things. At the end of 10 hours, pour into a bowl and carefully immersion blend. Strain into a cute serving dish and smear on toast, pancakes, and waffles, or even use as a fruit dip!

***If you want to can your apple butter, the web is full of great tutorials on canning. Also, you can ask your awesome mama for tips, like me. Here’s my canning process:

1. Wash jars, lids, and rings in hot, soapy water, and rinse.

2. Boil jars, lids, and rings for about 10 minutes.

3. Remove jars from water with this handy tool. Be sure to set jars onto clean towels, right side up. Avoid touching the lip of the jar to anything. Leave lids and rings in hot water until ready to seal jars.

4. I used this fancy-dancy food press to strain my apple butter into a clean bowl. Or you could use this two-in-one strainer/funnel to funnel strained apple butter right into the jar!

5. Otherwise, use a regular funnel to transfer the strained apple butter into jars. I must stress the usage of the funnel. It’s important to keep the lip of the jar sterile, so dripping apple butter all over it and constantly wiping it off is not the best practice!

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6. Leave room in the top of the jar for the contents to expand when boiling during the sealing process. For me, this meant I filled until just below the threads on the jar.

7. Use tongs to fish out your lids and rings. First the lid…place it evenly onto your jar, and follow with a ring.

8. Use a pot like this to give your cans a water-bath. The rack holds your cans off of the burner. I heated the water first, added the cans, and then turned it up to boiling. I processed my cans for 10 minutes. This processing time can vary depending on what you’re canning (jams/jellies, veggies, etc.) and also by your elevation. A Google search can always offer more information!

9. Remove your cans from the water with your can grabber, and allow to cool over night. This is my FAVORITE PART! If you’ve processed the cans correctly, you’ll start to hear little “pops” as the vacuum action seals the lids to the jar. Our cans popped all through the night, and every time, either myself or Wes would wake up and say “Oooh! Another one!” I was very nervous my jars wouldn’t seal!

10. Some people promote storing the jars without rings, because trapped water can cause the lid to rust or harbor bacteria (bad). I just chose to remove the rings after the jar had sealed, wipe off any water, and package with my squares of material and gift tags. Super cute, right?

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I hope you find this apple butter tasty! And, Happy Holidays. We’ll be signing off until after the holidays for the most part, so have fun and stay warm!

xoxo,

Catherine

Handmade Holiday: Christmas Stockings

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Our second project in our Handmade Holiday series is a set of coordinating stockings! The two of us thought long and hard about what we wanted our Handmade series to be comprised of, the most obvious answer being items we needed for decorations and for gifts.

Well, we were utterly bereft of any stockings for this Christmas.  My sister had some felt stockings floating around that she had made a few winters’ ago that we excavated and used to make a pattern for the new stockings…and ran into so many bumps and hiccups thereafter that I am truly surprised I got all four stockings made in time for Christmas morning!

I must tell you that this post isn’t a tutorial. I’ve got to do some major revision on the pattern and my overall sewing process to make it worthy for a how-to,  so instead I give you some tips if  you’re new to sewing of everything I learned, in the hopes that it saves you from experiencing the same extreme frustration.

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1. When you create a prototype in order to see if your pattern works, and the result is excellent, then sew the real deal as you sewed the prototype. Don’t do what we did when we decided that the fabric was too soft and the stockings needed more structure; this led to a trip to Joann’s and a huge waste of money as the interfacing purchased was the wrong weight and totally wrong in the general scheme of things, seeing as how we really didn’t need the interfacing. 

2. Take the time to create your pattern. The two of us became completely impatient after we drafted our pattern and began cutting material hither and thither, never stopping to really think about what we were doing until something inevitably went wrong; then we would try to fix that mistake but simply make everything worse! (I’m pretty sure one of us cried at that point.)

3. Be sure to use sharp, sharp scissors. Seriously. I have a really nice pair of scissors but the best pair in the world won’t cut correctly if they aren’t sharp which mine decidedly are not. Every time I  cut out a pattern piece it would come out with jagged edges and would never line up flush with its mate. More fabric than I care to remember was wasted because we persisted in using dull scissors. I had to bust out my sister’s stocking stuffer, a new pair of Fiskars, to see this project done.

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We were so happy and excited to begin this project and have cute stockings this Christmas that we lost our heads in the process, but this experience certainly taught us a thing or two about patience and thoughtful planning, something we never would have learned if we hadn’t made a big mess out of everything.

And in the end, we did get some pretty cute stockings out of it all.

Happy holidays!

Love, Bea

Handmade Holiday: DIY Winter Wreath

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Hello!

The two of us have had so much fun decorating for the holidays this year! Here’s a secret for you: not even a week into November we drug out our decorations and hung them up, just to see how well everything went together.

It’s a very good thing we did because we were able to see the whole picture and determine if we needed any extra thingamabobs or doodads to complete our wintery scene.

Which, as it turns out, we did. And thus, we have embarked on numerous holiday projects and bring you the first part of our Handmade Holiday 2012 series: a winter wreath!

We knew that a wreath would help tie everything together, but we didn’t want to go out and buy a wreath from a craft store. Those tend to be rather expensive (not to mention contrary to our general style)  and we’re both on a budget.

So, we decided we had to make one and whipped up this lovely Winter Holiday Wreath. And good news: we spent around $25 for supplies. That means more Holiday Budget to go around (and around and around and around . . . so many gifts to make/buy/bake)!

Here are the directions for a simple wreath that you can tailor to fit your style and general trimmings and trappings this season.

Supplies:

one Styrofoam form

two bags of fluffy feathers

hot glue gun/sticks

material in a neutral color (we already had this on hand, so it’s not included in our Projected Project Price!)

accent branches or other baubles

coordinating wide ribbon

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The first thing you’ll want to do is take your material and tear it into strips–set two strips aside  to use during later steps. Tearing cotton fabric is super easy–just make a snip where you want to start and rip away! It helps make things straight without being too tedious. Take your fabric strips and wrap them around the piece of Styrofoam, hot gluing as you go.

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After the Styrofoam is wrapped, start gluing the feathers around the circle. We started on the inside of the circle, moved to the outside, and then finished with the front, leaving the backside feather free. To make this step easier, be sure to glue each feather over the bottom half of the one before it.

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Next, take your accents and position them as you like. (Make a note of how you placed them because you”ll have to take them off for the next step!)

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Take one of the strips of material you saved earlier and wrap it around the middle of the wreath and glue. We wrapped it around three times and then cut off the excess. This provides a base onto which your accents will be glued.

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IMG_3052Place your accents onto the strip of material. Rearrange and trim off any extras if need be then attach them onto the wreath with glue. Take your second strip and wrap around the ‘ends’ of the accents to cover them, gluing in this step also. Next, take your ribbon and glue it directly over the strip.

Because of the delicacy of our wreath we thought it best to hang it inside our apartment using only two command strips, but if you want to show off your fabulous wreath to the outside world then a door hanger would work best!

Happy Holidays!

Love, Bea

birthday and thanksgiving memories

I am 24 and a few days old! I love having a birthday in November–it means I get to kick off Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s festivities that much sooner! Plus, there’s nothing quite like having a birthday right before turning the corner into a new year–it’s a super inspiring time for me. I may have made a multi-page goal list. And maybe I’ll share it with you!

I received some lovely, thoughtful gifts from all around–adorable socks, a Tiffany-blue sweater, the triangle necklace and Lip Venom from my wish list (!), plus some other fabulous trinkets. Oh–and Wes got me a fancy new blender! Now I can make my fruit smoothies without yelling “Blend, baby, blend!” And my niece Jordan made the most delicious Tar Heel Pie for Thanksgiving. I’m a spoiled girl!

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To make the month even better, I received some surprise correspondences in the mail–one from Corrie in Seattle, and one from Sarah in France! It was AMAZING to hear from my friends. It’s so nice to know we can be off on our own adventures and still love and care about one another! (*Makes a mental note to write back.)

But the best part was just being home with family at Thanksgiving. For the first time in my ENTIRE college career, I just left my homework at home. And yeah, it made for a stressful week upon return, but it made the two days with family much more peaceful without a stack of  to-do staring me down at every turn!

This birthday + Thanksgiving made me feel super blessed, and much less stressed. Loved it! Now, onward to Christmas!

xoxo cat

my eyes are so bleary…

I guess I’m young but I feel so weary!

Sing it, Zooey Deschanel!

I am so exhausted. My candle has-neither her nor there–and end to burn. I feel weary and bleary. And dreary.

This last week, I barely made it by. Academically, professionally, personally, emotionally. It’s mostly because I can’t find the proper motivation to get anything done at all. It’s just much easier to take a nap than to think about a messy apartment, unfinished homework, and Monday. I find that when my mental to-do list (or any physical variation thereof) gets overloaded, I just panic and choose not to do any of it. I’m very much a “If I can’t get it all done–and done right–why do it at all?” kind of gal. That means that I have trouble forgoing a full on house clean and focusing on just one room. Or, I neglect all of my homework because I feel like I can’t get it all done in one day. And I feel all these little life things piling up, like my license expiring soon, my car desperately needing an oil change, and not knowing what to cook for dinner.

Hang in there, Baby. My goal for today is to just prioritize tasks and accomplish as many as possible without sacrificing too much brain rest time.

Oh. And I don’t think it would hurt at all to give that desk a quick tidy. (Compels urge to reorganize the entire living room.)

And it might be nice to get some kitty snuggles.

 

a 24th birthday party wishlist

 

Guess who turns 24 this month? This girl. Just creepin’ farther and farther into my 20’s…I’ve been in this weird transition since entering young adulthood where birthdays just aren’t a big deal anymore. After that (mildly) wild and crazy 21st, it sometimes becomes just another day, especially if you have to work, do homework, or otherwise be a grownup. And yet, I’d like to try and celebrate birthdays with the some of the shebang found in the limousine parties of my pre-teen youth! This mostly means I’d just like to be surrounded by friends and family. My most favorite (adult) birthday party has to be my 22nd, where about 20 of my most favorite people and I ate dinner at a local restaurant. Live music, good food, and best friends–that was so special.

Well, anyway, to hush the “what do you want for your birthday” questions that keep coming my way (mostly from the BFF and my husband–Bea is exceptionally adept at knowing what I like, because we’re basically the same person) I decided to make a lovely little wishlist! By the way, the photo above is the first product collage I’ve ever made, and the first thing to come out of Photoshop that didn’t take me 15 hours. And I have this nice little tutorial to thank!

Without further ado . . .

1. This necklace eases my triangle addiction. 2. So does this bright white-n-yellow clutch! 3. Lindsay Lohan, I have always wanted to try Lip Venom. 4. Bea has an Instax and I’m in love with the mini pix that pop out! 5. I’m starting to fall in love with quirky, fun socks like these from Forever 21. 6. If you haven’t listened to She & Him before, click this link to hear my favorite song, and thing this one to buy their record! 7. I think this bag may be the best satchel of the season!

What’s on your wishlist this year? Birthday? Winter holidays?

xoxo,

cat

hey, teach!

Hello!

I have been working diligently on my 4 Simple Goals!

Have you? Do share!

One of my goals was to get out of my long johns (yes, I wear them all year round!) and spruce up a bit. Perfect timing, since my elementary education practicum just started, and I have to dress up for the classroom. In order to make sure I emphasized the “sprucing” when it came to an outfit, rather than just trading PJ’s for leggings, Bea and I got together and pre-planned some outfits. We put our two closets together and came up with some fabulous (if we may say so ourselves) finds!

This houndstooth jumper has been in my closet for almost 6 years now. You might not believe that I got it at Wal-Mart, but I totally did! In fact, it was on the clearance rack and I snagged it for a whopping $7. One of my favorite color combinations is black and golden shades of yellow  (it’s all over my living room, in fact) so I paired it with a mustard-y cardigan and black flats. I really love this dress, and it gets a lot of compliments!

This dress hails from the land of Forever 21. (Question . . . would you judge if I continued to shop there well into my 30’s?) We can’t decide if we should call the tights Grape, Eggplant, or Brandywine (that last option is definitely inspired by our recent LOTR movie marathon, fyi) but regardless, I snagged them (and all of the tights featured in this post) from We Love Colors. Adding more color to my wardrobe was one of my overall outfit goals, and this site really delivered on the color options!

This dress is from Bea’s closet, and also originally from Forever 21. My favorite part of this outfit is the contrast of the green tights and my golden leopard (or are they cheetah?!) flats. I LOVE ANIMAL PRINT SHOES. Phew. Glad I got that out. I hope that I don’t look totally ridiculous in these colored tights–I think the earthy, fall tones are the best to wear, and you’d tell me if I wasn’t pulling it off, right? Right.

Overall, we put together about 10 outfits. Half of them were dress/tight/cardi combos while the remaining 5 centered around my lonely pair of Gap black slacks. But these three outfits were our absolute favorites. What do you think?

Happy fall!

on packing up and moving out

Relocating is an extremely exciting prospect, but packing is such a hassle! Who knew? Not I, because the last time I moved I was ten, and my mom did all the packing: my room, C’s room, her room, the kitchen, living room, dining room, garage – um, thank you, but no dice.  I only have my bedroom to pack; I certainly can’t imagine an entire house!

(Mom, you are awesome for having done that on your own.)

So, where in the world am I heading off to? Springfield, of course! Yes, the Big Move is finally happening! And in preparation for it, the past month has been a fast blur of tests (the GED and the ACT), car repairs, packing, cleaning, and more packing.

In a word, my life has gone barmy.  It’s also very stressful. But this week is almost over and when it ends, I’ll be navigating my life in a city.  

So exciting, so fun, kind of scary! 

I have two more days in the house I’ve lived in since I was ten, and then I’m off to take Springfield by storm, which is totally a bittersweet feeling. It’s going to be horribly sad to leave my mom and since I’m the last bird to depart the nest, well, you can imagine how my mom will feel.

However, even with our unavoidable separation looming, Saturday absolutely cannot arrive fast enough, although, with that in mind, I probably ought to finish packing…

See you in the South!

xo, Bea

 

four simple goals before 2013–inspired by ABM

Hello, hello!

I’ve been catching up on my favorite blogs on this lazy Saturday and I am very excited to participate in 4 Simple Goals with Elsie from A Beautiful Mess! I love goal-setting, list-making, self-improvement . . . the whole bit. It just makes me thrive. I have so many day-to-day things to accomplish (don’t we all?) so I often forget to prioritize those little things that make life special. I really like the idea of making a list of things to do that will solely bring me joy. Just putting something I should enjoy–like sketching ideas for some accessories Bea and I want to make–on a to do list with things like “scrub bathtub” or “vacuum stairs” automatically makes it seem like a chore!

I hope that this will help remind me that these simple goals do not have to be completed in a weekend, and that they shouldn’t be stressful!

Interestingly enough, I did intend on posting part of my weekend to do list. Most notably, it included:

1. pluck eyebrows

2. trim bangs

3. shave legs

I’m 0 for 3 on that hairy to do list (Ooh! A pun!), so I’ll just move on to my very own 4 Simple Goals!

1. Photography: I want to take more photos of Wes and I. For some reason, I feel super awkward asking people to take a picture of us if we’re out and about, and Wes doesn’t particularly enjoy hamming it up for the camera. I’m super sad that we have only a few pictures of us from our first year of marriage! But, I’ve decided to move past that, cherish the ones we do have (did you see the previous post!?), and make an effort to snap some pics of us on a weekly basis.

2. Projects: I have so many projects in progress right now! They include framing some Pinterest images for our bedroom, making our headboard, spray painting some fabulous chairs I found for our dining room (but oh, what color!?!), envisioning our wedding scrapbook, reupholstering my living room chairs . . . Oh. My. Goodness. There’s so many, and I have many more that I can’t even think of. Well then. The goal is to steadily work on just one. I’m officially picking . . . wedding scrapbook!

3. Family Cookbook: Recently, Wes and I realized just how many delicious recipes we have discovered that are delicious, healthy, and inexpensive. Yet, it seems like every week we have no idea what to cook! We’ve decided we need to begin documenting exactly how we like making our faves, like this delicious spaghetti and our new favorite soup. That way we’ll be able to whip out the goods (that did not sound appropriate . . . ) super quick without asking “Did we use the blender or the food processor on those cashews?” or “Didn’t we like it with three cans of cannellini beans instead of two?” So I’ll probably develop a nice little template to use during our cooking escapades . . . and I see a cookbook DIY in the future!

4. Dress Up: I have a secret . . . I love clothes, but I hate getting dressed. I rarely shed my pajamas on the weekend (I do a lot of homework and house cleaning!!!), and you’ll often see me in my workout duds between classes. And then I have to wear scrubs to work. So I change my clothes all the time, but never really get put together. It’s very easy to get into a style rut because . . . comfy clothes are comfortable! But comfortable also sometimes means blah. And then I feel blah. So, I’m going to make more of an effort to get put together. I have a lot of cute clothes and I want to wear them, by golly!

I hope you’re inspired . . . check out A Beautiful Mess to see their goals and link up your own!

xoxoxo

cat