Pinterest Test Kitchen: Halloween Party Food Edition

If you're anything like me, you've got a Pinterest board full of cute little holiday-specific appetizers but when it comes down to making them, you'd rather just buy chips and dip and be done with it. Well, it was my turn to host wine club this weekend, and I decided I needed to get my act together and try these cute recipes out. Of course, Pinterest has some wins but it also has some misses as we all know. With my fingers crossed, I tried these recipes out so that you don't have to (or maybe you want to! Some were really easy and fun). Reviews, below -- pictures, above. Enjoy!

1. Candy Corn & White Chocolate Softbatch Cookies 
-- Hard
-- Tasted fine, but they weren't pretty.

When I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I was like, "This is gonna be awesome!" I've never thought about putting candy corn in cookies, so already this blogger was a genius. I followed the directions to the T -- one thing she stresses is that you have to make sure the candy corn is covered by dough when you put it on the baking sheet, otherwise it'll ooze while in the oven. I thought I did that, but when I took it out, it looked like orange, yellow, and white blood was coming out of my precious cookies. I guess that makes it spooky though... I just cut around the gross parts, and the girls seemed to love the cookies. So there's that!

Hey! I Know Her: Hannah Robinett

In the second installment of my monthly post where I get to gush over the girls in my life who inspire me every day, I'm featuring Hannah Robinett, designer and side-business-woman extraordinaire! Hannah is the founder of mynlyn, a 3D-printed jewelry line based out of Brooklyn. Another fun fact: she's one of the links that brought me and my husband together. But that's not the only reason I love her. She's also one of the sweetest, funniest girls I know.
Photo credit: @hannahrobinett on Instagram
I was over at her house the other day for a playdate with her and her dog Gif (who I'm also obsessed with and you'll meet in a second...) and asked her a few qs about her business and 3D printing (which I'm absolutely fascinated by!) Check out our Q&A below:

Q: So, can you explain the process of 3D printed jewelry to those of us who are intrigued but have no idea how it actually works?
A: First, I just sketch a bunch of designs -- these may not necessarily be ring designs or necklace designs, just something I consider a work of art. And then I work in a program where you can design 3D and turn it into something wearable and tangible. I then use a maker bot, which is an at-home 3D printer, where I can print out all my prototypes. It's kind of a long process getting every step to be what I want it to be.

Q: That's interesting that you don't always design specifically for jewelry first.
A: A lot of pieces from my original line were taken from my works of art before I was even designing jewelry. I just looked at that work of art and made it into a piece that someone could wear. It's works of art that you can wear!

Q: Did you get the 3D printer with this business in mind or did you get the idea after you bought it?
A: I bought it with this idea. I just wanted to create more 3D products since everything I was doing was 2D, and I thought that a 3D printer would give me to opportunity to do that right at home.

Photo credit: @hannahrobinett on Instagram
Q: But I know you don't only use the printer for jewelry... I've seen the adorable Gif-shaped cookie cutter you made. What else have you come up with?
A: I try to make things I need around the apartment. Like, I made a jewelry tray. I also make a lot of toys for my goddaughter, niece, and nephew -- like little animal figurines, which probably take about 30 or 40 minutes to print. I made a flower pot to put some succulents in. It's fun to say, "What do I need?" and then you print it. I call the 3D printer the sewing machine of the 21st century because I feel like in another 20 years, I could see people just having them in their home and if they need a screw, they'll print a screw. If they need to fix a piece of a chair, they'll print exactly that piece.

Proof That "The Secret" Is Really a Thing...

Ya'll, the power of visualization and positivity really works! I tried it out yesterday at a mini-golf course in Connecticut and can attest that it's a thing...

I'm not going to go into detail about how that was the first hole and I psyched myself out of keeping up the pace and ultimately came in last place. I'll also spare you the details about how I kept announcing I'd get a hole in one for, like, every hole after that and never got another one again. But I will keep re-playing that video in honor of one of the proudest moments of my life. At least it happened. Thanks, The Secret!

Have you ever been totally shocked that something you said was going to happen actually happened? Honestly, I feel that way in my life on a regular basis....and finally got the video to prove it! #pinchme #holeinone

See you at The Masters!

Go See This Play: Fun Home

This past weekend, my lovely in-laws came to visit us in NYC, and the four of us went to see Fun Home on Friday night. In case you haven't heard of it, the play recently picked up the Tony Award winner for Best Musical and has been getting rave reviews.

It's also been the subject of a lot of controversy lately. The play is based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. You may have heard about the Duke students refusing to read the required book assignment because of its gay theme and nudity.

The university's vice president for public affairs and government relations Michael J. Schoenfeld said in a statement that Fun Home was chosen because of its controversial, conversation-starting subject matter. (It looks like they certainly accomplished their goal.)

I haven't read the memoir, but I can say this about the play: it was thought-provoking, emotional, and overall entertaining. What I loved most was that there were so many different themes, but it felt like nothing was really forced.

The First Rule of Wine Club Is...

Way back when the book club met for the first time to discuss The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, only one person finished the book. The next month was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. A few more people finished it, but it still wasn't getting the momentum it needed.

My friend Rosa wanted the book club to work, but she says she forgot that we were all young 20-somethings and no one seemed to have the time to read a whole novel in a month. She was inspired by our other friend Ashley who was part of a group of girls who switched books out for bottles met every month to learn about vino. Rosa was like, "Hey! We could do that. We all love wine anyway."

"Yes!" everyone screamed. And that's how this tradition started.

So, to make sure my headline isn't deceiving, I'll finish the sentence: The first rule of wine club is... to start a book club and then get rid of the book part of it. (Of course, if you do switch book club to wine club and have a juicy novel you think would be fun to discuss one month, you can do a pairing theme around it.)

Hey! I Know Her: Tammy Tibbetts

You know when you're just so in awe of the people in your life that you sometimes have to pinch yourself and say, "I can't believe I'm so lucky to have them as a friend?" I actually feel that way every day. I look at my friends and think they're some of the sweetest, strongest, most inspiring women on the planet, and how they made their way into my life, I have no idea. But I'm truly thankful.

Photo Credit: Kate Lord Sander

And because of that, I thought it'd be fun to feature them in a new monthly interview series. Welcome to "Hey! I Know Her!"

Last week, I went over to my friend Tammy Tibbetts' home where she introduced me to smoothie bowls and we sat on her patio for hours just chatting. In case you haven't heard of her yet, she's taking the world by storm. She's the founder of "She's The First," a nonprofit committed to funding girls' education in low-income countries. Check out my Q&A with her below!

Q: So, I remember sitting with you in the Hearst Cafeteria in 2008, and She's the First was just an idea in your head. You were so enthusiastic about it then -- but did you ever imagine it would be what it is today?
A: When we launched, it was just a YouTube video. I thought it'd just be a social media campaign that would inspire people to sponsor girls’ education. I never imagined it would spawn a network of campus chapters that’s now close to 200, a coalition of 10 partner schools, a staff of 4 people, 5 interns, and our own office space.

Q: What do you think is to thank for its success?
A: I would say the action of college students was the match that lit the fire. When the video started resonating with them and they started organizing events and activities, that’s what made it grow so much faster than I anticipated.

Q: What do you see in the college students that you saw in yourself when you were their age?
A: I see what I was looking for. I have a diary entry to prove it from when I was a senior in college -- I knew that I was graduating from my journalism program and would probably get hired, but I didn’t feel like I was part of something bigger than myself. And I think these students found that very thing I was looking for.

The First One Back In New York

I'm baaaack! So, technically I've been back in New York City for over a month now, but I've finally had some time to settle into our new (old) life and catch my breath. Needless to say, it's been a very busy six weeks. From reuniting with our old friends to doing some major home improvement projects on our apartment (more on that later!), Christopher and I have not let a wasted second go by since we've been back.

The main question everyone's been asking since we returned home was how has the adjustment been from Oxford to New York. Here's my honest answer: from the moment we stepped off the plane at JFK, my stress level and anxiety increased by at least 200 percent... so, yeah, it's completely back to normal.

While we dearly miss our little English countryside home and the hikes and the friends and the peace and quite, it really is nice to be back. Sure, I could do without the hot trash smell as you walk along the streets and the crowded subway rides where you try so desperately not to brush up against strangers' sweaty skin, but I guess that's just a part of living in NYC, and well, it's home.

Me and my core group of girlfriends in NYC during our annual picnic right after I got back.
So, what is this blog going to be now that I'm not "Across the Pondering" anymore? I plan on keeping it up in a similar vein, sharing bits and pieces of my life with you but also making it more of a general lifestyle blog. I plan to share recipes we make and love, trips we take and suggestions from those, home improvement projects and lessons learned. It'll be letters home to you all so that we can stay in touch and share ideas.

If you haven't done so already, you can subscribe to the blog here. You'll get an email notification every time a new blog is published (about once a week, if we're setting realistic expectations.)

Thanks for sticking with me through the hiatus of Oxford to New York. It's definitely been a transition, but I'm excited to be back!

PS- If you ever feel the urge to re-live the "Across the Ponderings" days, I've created a section in the navigation called "Oxford Archives" where you can find all the old blog posts. I secretly know that it's just for me when I get homesick for the UK, but I'll pretend that you care, too :)