Made at Home: Donut Cakes

all3

Donuts are one of our guiltiest of pleasures. They weren’t always such temptations; Tim Hortons’ donuts are good, but not go-out-of-your-way good. It wasn’t until the artisanal donuts at Holy Donut in Portland, Maine that we became truly hooked. Back in Halifax, our old home, we were lucky to find that a new donut shop had become a regular at the Alderney Landing Farmers Market. Both delicious and dangerous, we were lucky we could only access those heavenly halos on Saturday mornings. St. John’s, on the other hand, is donut-dry. So far we haven’t found any bakers consistently pumping out fine donuts.
plaincake

In steps the bar and bean. Risking an Icarus moment, we finally took it upon ourselves to DIY a batch. As a precaution, we did opt for a lower-fat, baked version of the donut, saving our calories for the rich toppings. We also decided to go with a mini bundt pan because it was available, and because we felt it would be more versatile in the long run (and have a few ideas in mind for future posts). Ergo, we present a recipe for three flavours of donut cakes!
donuts

We used this baked donut recipe for our base, pouring the batter into a mini bundt pan instead of forming rings. The recipes below can of course be doubled, tripled, and beyond. For our health, we chose to make only 6 of these babies.

Topping 1: The “Almond Ring”

Inspired by the almond ring pastries at the Gingerbread Haus bakery in Halifax, this is an almond-encrusted honey glaze.

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp honey
4 tsp whole milk (we used half blend cream, half 1% milk)
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Whisk together the sugar, honey, and milk/cream until smooth. Drizzle generously over donuts and sprinkle with almonds.

Topping 2: Strawberry-Yogurt Sprinkle

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp strawberry greek yogurt
1 cup confectioners sugar
Lots of sprinkles

Whisk together yogurt and sugar until smooth. Dip donuts in yogurt frosting, and then immediately in shallow bowl of sprinkles.

Topping 3: Maple Bacon

Inspired by bacon-brown sugar donuts (a favourite of ours), we added a twist of maple. The ratios for the frosting are approx. 1 butter to 2 maple syrup to 4 icing sugar.

2 slices bacon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup icing sugar

Bake bacon at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, flipping once. Meanwhile, whisk together brown sugar and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Drain bacon and brush with sugar mixture. Bake for 5 more minutes, then chop coarsely.

For the frosting, melt butter along with maple syrup in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners sugar, allowing to cool/thicken. Dunk your donuts in the frosting and sprinkle with bacon pieces.

Finally, and most importantly, enjoy!

katie

Self Love Files: Good Company

LOVEI used to think that losing your independence was a symptom of a bad partner. I thought that I would be fine as long as I was with someone who wasn’t controlling, or the jealous type. I believed that my independence hinged on someone else’s behavior; I would only lose myself if someone else wanted me to be lost.

Before my current relationship I was incredibly independent. I went to movies, restaurants, and concerts by myself without a second thought. I traveled alone, ate alone, hiked alone, and shopped alone. But my relationship changed things. I didn’t want to be alone as much. Being with someone else, especially someone who was so amazing, was much better than being alone. Why do something by yourself when you can double the fun with someone else? It seemed only logical: two is greater than one.

Although my relationship correlates with my decreasing independence, it is not causative. While I do know that some people lose their independence because of a controlling or jealous partner, I cannot blame this one on my boyfriend. He is good and loving and kind. He supports me, and encourages me to try things on my own, to be my own person. But if I can’t blame him, what’s going on? What happened to me? Why did I start believing that time by myself wasn’t as valuable as time with him?

Then it hit me. Before, my alone time wasn’t really a choice. I was single, and not really looking, so I didn’t have any options. It was a forced independence. When I entered a relationship, all of a sudden I had a choice, and over and over again I chose someone else. Turns out, choosing independence is hard. Choosing me is tough.

Women are continuously told that confidence and independence are sexy traits. We all know nobody likes a clingy girlfriend. But how can we be expected to be so confident and independent when we live in a society that teaches us to hate our bodies? If we are conditioned to hate ourselves, how can we choose ourselves?

My struggle with my independence is really about self-love. It is about realizing that hanging out with myself is fun, amazing, and worthwhile because I am fun, amazing, and worthwhile. It is about hanging out with myself because I love myself, and not because I know being independent is a turn-on.

I think for me, as well as for anyone else who feels like they are losing their independence, it is important to actively choose you every now and then. To not extend the invite. To go it alone. To be a lone wolf. Independent actions can be a powerful method of self-care, and a recognition of your self-worth. Remember: you are not hanging out by yourself, but with yourself, and you are pretty awesome company.

katie

Styled: Let’s Go

harbourcoat1bluecoat2floralfortis1floraldress2
I used to have a little side blog called, “Wears and Listens.” It was a corner of the internet where I posted an outfit photo alongside a favourite song that also happened to match what was going on in my life at that particular moment. While I really loved “Wears and Listens,” managing two blogs was just too much work for me. So here’s my compromise: instead of a separate site, I’m going to start incorporating fashion and music posts right here on the bar and bean. Everybody cool with that? Alright. Let’s go!

Wears: dress, jacket, loafers all thrifted
Listens: Matt and Kim – Let’s Go (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJsVCi0UsSM)

katie

DIY: Dip-dyed Macramé Hanging Planters

twopots
The dull winter days make me crave green. Succulents, purple campanulas, rosemary, basil, a bouquet of deep red carnations – these little plants and flowers brighten up my apartment and my day. The only tricky part to my green obsession is placing them somewhere where they will get the necessary amount of sunlight. Enter hanging planters – the perfect way to suspend a plant in front of a sunny window. Rather than use a boring old hanging basket, I decided to delve into macramé. I found a good tutorial (Brit + Co‘s “Make These Boho Chic Hanging Macrame Vases”) that didn’t seem too intimitidating and dug in. While the tutorial was incredibly helpful, I did find I needed to make a few changes. Here’s my how to:

To make the hanging basket:

1. Measure and cut 4 lengths of string about 52 inches long (I have high ceilings and I like to have lots of extra string to work with)
2. Line up the strings and bundle them together. Fold bundle in half.
3. With folded bundle in hand, make a looped knot near the top (Note: If you want your planter to have a long tail at the end, make sure you make the knot farther down).
4. Turn pot upside down and place the top knot in the middle (you may want to use a bit of tape to secure the knot). Separate the strings into groups of two, laying them across the bottom to divide the pot into four equal sections.
5. Tie each group of two strings in a looped knot, making sure the knot is placed at/near the edge of the pot.
6. Make new groups of strings by taking the right string of one group with the left string of another. This will makes four new groups of two strings.
7. Tie each new group of two strings into a looped knot, making sure the knot is placed about 1/3 ways up the pot on all sides.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7, inching up a 1/3 of the way each time until you are happy with the coverage and feel like the pot will fit snugly in the basket.
9. Flip the pot with its macramé base right-side up, pulling the remaining 4 groups of strings up vertically.
10. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure everything looks great and is secure.

**Optional** To make a tail: Use scissors to cut the group of strings at the base of the basket in half.

diyfourpartTo dip-dye:

If you are using white string like I did and want a bit more colour, try dip-dying! Remove the macramé basket you made and dip it into some food coloring mixed with boiling water. Dye as much of the strings as you want (I only dyed the basket and about 1/4 of the way up of the strings). I had to soak the strings in dye for a couple of hours to ensure the white string absorbed enough color. The longer you let the strings soak the darker they will become. Periodically check on them to see how they are looking. Once you are happy with the colour, remove the strings and wring them out. Hang to dry.

To assemble:

I learned (the hard way) that the best way to assemble is to use an empty pot. Turn the empty pot upside down and fit the macramé basket over. Flip the pot and basket right side up and adjust to make sure everything feels secure and looks good. Place the four bundles of strings to the side and transfer your plant into the pot. Add a little extra soil and water.

To hang:

Lift the strings up vertically, and tie them in knot around a key ring or binder ring. Hang from a hook on the ceiling (preferably near a window where the sun can shine in).

potupclose

katie

Self Love Files: Hot Yoga or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Sweat

hotyogaI am the sweatiest person in my hot yoga class. This is a statement I believe to be true, and it embarrasses me to no end. I have always been a heavy perspirer. On hot summer days I melt like a snowman. During job interviews I sweat through my camisole, button up, and blazer. I have organized my closet into shirts that hide sweat, and shirts that don’t. I wouldn’t say my personal condensation rises to the level of a medical condition, but it is a feature of myself with which I must contend.

My wonderful friend Lisa Walters and I committed to doing 30 days of (mostly) hot yoga at our local Moksha Yoga Studio in St. John’s (read about her experiences here). Classes so far have been amazing. Just being in a room for one hour while an instructor reminds you to be kind to your body, to love yourself, to be aware (but not judgmental) of your limitations, is a form of therapy. My only issue with hot yoga is not one I can blame on the studio. It is a problem I have with myself, or more accurately, with my sweat.

I know sweating is part of the goal of hot yoga. It’s done in a room heated to about 38 degress Celsius and it’s meant to make you sweat in order to detoxify the body and help ease you into challenging poses. Despite this fact, during class I can’t help looking around the room and feeling like I’m the only one completely swimming in a pool of my own perspiration.

How bad is it? During practice my hair becomes soaked, my clothes get drenched, and sweat creeps into my eyes, mouth, and ears. I feel like I have a responsibility to warn anyone near me that they have entered a “splash zone,” and will likely get sprayed. I fear the instructor will come over to adjust my pose only to run screaming out of the room when she touches my sweaty, clammy skin.

Why does my sweat bother me so much? At first I thought it was because it makes me look ugly. Then on second thought, I realized that I don’t really care that much about my sexual appeal during hot yoga class. Sure, I look kind of nasty, but no one there looks like they are about to go out for a night on the town. Hot yoga is not a beauty pageant.

I think the real reason my sweat bothers me is that I view it as a sign of weakness. My inordinate perspiration feels like my body mocking me, loudly announcing to the class, “Hey everyone, look at this Fatty Fatty Fat Pants who can’t even handle some stretches in a hot room!” Each bead is a capitulation, proof of my failure to be in perfect shape. Surely if I were more fit I wouldn’t be sweating so much. My sweat becomes this sticky reminder of my lack of will power, discipline, of my inability to walk away from that delicious Nanaimo bar last week.

Almost immediately after convincing myself that my sweat was proof of individual weakness, I started to wonder. How can I be weak when I hold downward dog with such strength and stability? How can I be weak when my tree pose is balanced, steady? How can I be weak when my breath flows freely during practice? How can I be weak when hot yoga makes me feel so powerful?

I have come to realize that sweat is not my body’s way of mocking me, but thanking me. She is saying, “Hey girl, I appreciate you doing this for me, now let me send you something to help cool you down.” Sweat is a thank you. It is a gift. It’s not chocolate or a vintage dress, but it does keep you from dying of heat, so it’s still pretty good.

Understood in these terms, I start to feel better about my excess perspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I still find sweat kind of gross, I mean, it does make you sticky and a bit smelly, but it is not a sign of defeat. It is evidence of the symbiotic relationship between me and my body, each one giving the other something it needs.

For me, embracing my sweat has been a radical act of self-love. I have come to love myself, love my sweat, and really love hot yoga.

katie

Coming Soon

clothes-rotationIt’s time for me to pare down my closet. Here’s a sneak peak of just some of the vintage finds I’ll be parting with. Interested? Stayed tuned, we’ll be unveiling our little shop soon!

katie

Made at Home: Moscow Mule

mule_1two copyingredFor Valentines Day, Mike surprised me with this totally rad copper mug. I had been drooling over copper kitchenware all week, so when he placed the mug in my hands I was ecstatic. I instantly began drinking everything out of it. This was a big mistake. Turns out, copper is an excellent heat conductor, which makes it great for kettles and pots, but not so great for holding hot drinks with your bare hands.

After doing some research, I learned that copper mugs are largely used for an alcoholic drink called a “Moscow Mule.” It’s a simple combination of ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice. Want to try one out? Here’s how we make ‘em:

Moscow Mule
(serves 1)
1.5 oz vodka
4.5 oz alcoholic ginger beer
Lime
Sprig of rosemary
Sugar
Pour vodka and ginger beer into mug. Squeeze in a generous amount of lime juice. Take a sprig of rosemary and wet it slightly. Shake off excess water and coat it in sugar (it helps if you put the sugar on a plate and roll the sprig onto the sugar). Stir the alcohol to mix, add ice, and garnish with the sugared sprig of rosemary.

katie

DIY: Copper Pipe Dreamcatcher

Some days you feel crafty. So you rifle through pinterest, get inspired, and head to your local home depot. This DIY was simple. We used copper pipe, a tubing cutter (which is not the big, scary, expensive thing that I thought it was), string, scissors, paint, and paintbrushes. It took us a while to decide a shape/design, but we’re pretty happy with the final result. It’s fresh, modern, and colourful. There are so many ways to make this your own – different paint colours, different pipe lengths, different shapes, different types of pipe – the possibilities are endless. A huge thank you to Sugar & Cloth for her DIY modern dreamcatcher post that so inspired us!

katie