Horrible Halloween Hyperlinks

28 Oct 2013

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It must be almost Halloween cos I've been seeing sooo many themed recipes and projects. Will you be having a Halloween themed party this year? Seeing all these cute things makes me want to have some friends around and put on some crazy makeup and costumes. I've put together my faves for Halloween inspired food, DIY's and even costumes, some of these you can even do with/for your little ghouls and witches!

1. Googly Owl Cupcakes

These super cute cupcakes are perfect as a little treat before the real night owls come out. There are a few recipes around but I think these ones from 6 Bittersweets made with Oreos are the cutest around.

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2. Witches' Brew

Don't worry about the calories in this colour changing party beverage as it's low carb and made from all natural ingredients. Don't believe me? Check it out here

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3. Bats Swarm Wall Decor

Spookify your walls with these easy to make paper bats from Craft Passion. Printable templates are provided in the tutorial. I'm thinking these would look amazing as a photo booth backdrop!

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4. Mini Ghost Pinatas

You can make sure everyone gets enough treats with a few of these DIY ghost pinatas from Oh Happy Day. Fill them up with your favourite sweets and get whacking!

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5. Dip Die Glitter Pumpkins

I love sparkles and this tasteful way of decorating a pumpkin could be perfect for a classy Halloween themed dinner party. I would even keep this in my lounge all year long! Thanks to the guys at P.S Heart for this glittery tutorial.

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6. Doily Pumpkins

The warm, homely doily pumpkin from Allyson Baker Designs is my pick from them all. So easy and once you're done with it as a piece of decoration, you can peel the doilies off and cook it up into your fave cup of pumpkin soup!

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7. Troll Doll Child

Stuck on what costume to wear for the scary season? Try this look for you or your little wee monster thanks to Jamilia Jean Photography.

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8. Breaking Bad

Finally, with this cult show finishing not long ago, I'm sure many people are keen to hang out with Jesse and Walt one last time. I think these guys have done it best! Have a great Halloween and hope you all get loads of treats!

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Mocha Chip Frappe

20 Oct 2013

Coffee is one of those things, even if I could, I wouldn't want to give up! Those who are close to me know I've become a bit of a coffee addict. Not only do I make my own cup of latte at home, I've also been experimenting with my own roasts! I'm definitely no pro (and don't have a pro roaster yet) but I'm enjoying roasting and having freshly roasted coffee every week! 

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After being hit by some freakish storm in New Zealand (lucky I was away in Sydney for most of it), it's finally looking like summer is approaching. Time to let my milk steamer wand rest and bring out the frappe straws!

I always wondered how they make those Java Chip Frappes at Starbucks, and always thought it was Oreo cookie bits they put in. When I was thinking the other day of what to put in my iced coffee to give it something extra, I suddenly clicked! Chocolate chips!

Mocha Chip Frappe


Double shot of fresh espresso coffee (you can use instant too, make it strong and add a small amount of water to make the equivalent of a double shot)
1 1/2 tablespoons condensed milk
1/2 cup milk
1 cup of ice
2 tablespoons of chocolate chips
Drizzle of chocolate sauce (optional)

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1. Put the ice in a tall beaker (if you're using a stick blender) or a blender jug.

2. Add condensed milk, milk and coffee to the ice and blend until all the ice has been crushed.

3. Add chocolate chips and lightly pulse for 5-10 secs, enough to break them up a little. Don't over blend!

4. Serve with a drizzle of chocolate sauce!

Yum!!!

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You can make your own chocolate sauce by mixing hot chocolate powder and water, or buying ready made dessert sauce. If you're trying to be really decadent, make your own ganache-y goodness by melting real chocolate in some cream! 

This super easy recipe will be my staple caffeine drink for the summer and I'm sure some of my other friends who usually visit and ask for a coffee will be happy to try one of these mocha chip frappes instead. Have fun!

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A Karen Walker Spring

5 Oct 2013

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It hasn't been a very good few months for me as some of you may know if you've been reading my previous blog posts or following my facebook page. Sorry for the lack of activity lately as I've been trying hard to catch up with work as well as stay awake!  I'm still not 100% well (I'm at maybe, 50% at the mo) so posts may be a bit spaced out for a while. 

It's been feeling a bit warmer lately so I think it's time to change the seasonal wardrobe! Although its been feeling more like autumn than spring where I am, its still good to be able to dress up in lighter, brighter outfits when the sun is out. 

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One of my favourite multi-season tops is the Karen Walker cotton collared spot jumper from the Fantastique Magnifique 2013 season. It's super cute and great for the warmer days but chilly mornings. My look today is a mix of new and old pieces! The wide waist belt is also from Karen Walker but it's really old! I love the warm tone of the belt, it really brings the outfit together. 

Pleats were huge a few seasons ago and I invested in quite a few pleated pieces! This skirt is from Forever New and is sheer with a short inner skirt. My thick chain necklace was from Diva I think?! Something I pulled out from my stash of jewellery!

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My gold and animal print ballet flats are from Witchery and they're so versatile I wear them almost everyday in summer - that's why they look pretty worn! Their current season offers lots of ballet flats with cute embellishments.

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Thanks for visiting the blog since I've been MIA, hopefully I will be well enough to start sharing with you more frequently! Can't wait to post more fashiony things and yummy summer recipes! See you soon!

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Thanks A Hundred - WINNERS!

3 Oct 2013


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Thanks for all who entered my wee giveaway a while ago now. I have announced the winners on my facebook page but is still waiting to hear from some of you! 

Winners:


1. Sarah T - Tory Burch Scarf
2. Lina La - Lisa Ho Scarf
3. Alisha Hodges - Marc by Marc Jacobs Scarf
4. Judit Meron - Orange Triangle Happy Socks
5. Weijtan - Argyle Blue Happy Socks

Please email misschopinholic@gmail.com or send Confessions of a Chopinholic a private facebook message with your mailing address. I hope to hear from you soon otherwise I will have to do a redraw!

Have fun!

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Clara Wieck Schumann, A 19th Century Heroine

12 Sep 2013

So I've blogged about Chopin and Rachmaninoff, two giants in the world of piano music - I think its time to show off a female musician! If you haven't noticed, most of the famous composers and performers have historically been male. Because of women's role in society, many weren't allowed to pursue careers and were made to stay home to look after the house and raise the family. There aren't a lot of well-known female musicians out there, but one popped into my head quickly as I was gathering my thoughts for this post. Clara Wieck was like the Superwoman of the 19th century. The spice girls would bow their heads in shame if they saw what girl power Clara was bringing to the table.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons. Photo from 1853.

Clara Wieck was the daughter of a music teacher who planned her early music education down to a T (also the story of my future children?!).  By the age of 7, she was practicing piano three hours a day and her first public appearance was at age 9 at the prestigious Gewandhaus Concert Hall in Germany.  She was considered a child prodigy and quickly earned the respect of her male contemporaries such as Schumann, Mendelssohn, Liszt and my namesake, Chopin, - no small feat for a woman in those times!

Clara was regarded as one of the best pianists of her generation. She popularised many composers' music such as Brahms and Schumann, simply by performing their works on stage.  She eventually married the great romantic composer Robert Schumann, even against her father's wishes. Despite her husband's notoriety, she was the primary breadwinner and supported her family, had eight children and looked after her grandchildren when her own child passed away.  Check out Google's interpretation of Clara in a Google Doodle from late 2012.


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Source: Google doodle. Clara with her eight children.




















 
Life was not easy for Clara; her husband Robert ended his life in a mental asylum, as did one of her sons. She was left a widow at 37!  I can't even begin to imagine how hard life would be if I was in her situation in this modern day let alone in the 19th century.  Interestingly, after Schumanns death, Brahms remained close with Clara, although it is unknown if they ever went all "50 Shades of Grey".

Clara was primarily a performer but did compose a little, mainly in her early life. Her compositions are traditionally lesser known but are becoming increasingly popular.  I enjoyed the showy Scherzo no.1, op 10 but to be honest she inspired me more as a strong independent woman rather than as a composer. She was highly regarded as a concert pianist in a mostly male-dominated industry and always remained professional no matter what difficulties she encountered. This clip from the movie "Song of Love" is the closest thing I could find to Clara playing in a concert (Katharine Hepburn is Clara, playing Schumann's work).

Clara Wieck Schumann supported and helped so many composers succeed during her time, I think the life of this amazing woman needs to be celebrated a lot more and I hope you can join me to spread the word about this inspirational woman!


Creamy Cauliflower and Pancetta Soup

7 Sep 2013

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Those of you who have been following my posts may have learned that I had some mysterious condition which caused my lips to swell up like I had overdosed on collagen!  After a few visits to the doctors and a night's stay at the hospital I think I've found what I was reacting to.  It can't be confirmed 100% but it looks more and more like I had a minor version of Stevens-Johnson syndrome. I won't go into detail, or put a link here, as I don't think Stevens-Johnson and cooking and eating go well together! 

So how does it relate to this post? Well, because of my condition and the slow recovery rate, I have found myself with super sensitive taste buds and unable to eat most yummy things except for very bland and puréed foods. I made up this creamy cauliflower and pancetta soup as I wanted something lighter in carbs and without lots of spices (stings my tongue!) The pancetta gives the soup that something extra (although I could hardly eat it in my current condition).  This soup is elegant but super affordable to make.  I spent less than NZD$10 on all the ingredients so I can see some of my friends with tighter budgets making this for dinner.  I will definitely make it again for a quick meal or a nice starter for dinner guests!

Creamy Cauliflower and Pancetta soup

5 cups cauliflower
80g pancetta 
40 gr butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons cream
Salt

1. Wash and cut up the cauliflower into florets. Cook until soft in boiling water.
2. While the cauliflower is cooking, melt the butter in a frypan (or if you're me, in a wok! So Asian!) Once melted, add the flour and stir until it forms a dough.

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3. Let the dough cook a little but don't let it burn (Tip: I learnt cooking the flour thoroughly at this stage prevents lumps later on!) Slowly add the milk making sure the mixture is always simmering. Then add the chicken stock in the same way.
4. Drain the cauliflower and blend until smooth and lump free.

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5. Add the cauliflower to the soup base and mix until combined. Season with salt.
6. Place thin slices of pancetta in a pan and fry until crisp.

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It was sooo yummy and great served with pieces of garlic butter baguette. It's still quite chilly where I am even though its technically spring so this soup warmed and filled me up well! I hope all of you in the northern hemisphere are cooling down from the crazy heat and will try this recipe out as an early autumn warmer!


Not Your Average Tiramisu

2 Sep 2013

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It's not a lie I'm a sweet tooth and a coffee addict. A few years ago I started experimenting with tiramisu recipes and finally got to something I'm quite happy with. I'm no Italian (cos you wouldn't be able to tell from my photo :p) but I LOVE Italian food and if I had an Italian Nonna I hope she would be proud. 

Because I'm very much a spur of the moment person, I will sometimes want to make and eat my tiramisu within a few hours. PLEASE don't be like me, as it won't be a fantastic tiramisu experience for you! You must let it rest and age in the fridge for at least 24 hours (much like ageing macarons) so the excess moisture can be fully soaked and flavours can combine before indulging. 

In terms of the ingredients, marsala wine is something I believe everyone should have in the pantry. It's used a lot in authentic Italian cooking and gives dishes that flavour you wonder how the chefs in the restaurants achieved. You should be able to find it in your local liquor shop. I use hot chocolate powder mainly because I buy this stuff literally in bucket loads (I need it for my Hot Chocolate Denso) and it's a bit sweeter than cocoa.

Not Your Average Tiramisu Recipe:


4 egg yolks
3/4 Marsala wine
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 pack (approx 24) of Savoiardi sponge fingers
250g thickened cream
300g mascarpone
Triple shot of espresso coffee and 1 cup of water (quadruple shots if you like your tiramisu  strong!) or 1 cup of strong instant coffee.
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Cocoa or Hot chocolate powder 
Grated dark chocolate 

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Zabaglione and mascarpone cream:

1. Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale and creamy.
2. Add 1/4 cup of the Marsala wine slowly to the mixture while heating and continuously beating in a bain-marie until thick like custard. This should take about 7-8 minutes. Careful not to let the zabaglione curdle or burn.
3. Remove from heat and beat for a minute until the zabaglione has cooled a little.

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4. Gently fold the mascarpone and cream together then add to the zabaglione mix. Gently fold all to combine. I will usually put the cream mix in the fridge to chill for a bit at this point.

Edible Jenga Tiramisu Building:

1. Put the coffee in a large flat dish and add 1 cup of water to it. You can substitute this with instant coffee.
2. Add to that the icing sugar and the remainder marsala wine to the coffee.
3. Tip the sponge fingers into the mixture a few seconds until moist but not soggy. The time it takes will vary depending on the type of sponge fingers you use. Generally, I like the sponge to be soaked half through and when you pierce through it with a fork, there should be still firm sponge stopping the fork from going right through.

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4. Lay a layer of the soaked fingers in a square dish, about 25cm in length.

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5. Bring the cream out and spread an even layer of cream on top of the sponge fingers, about the same thickness as the sponge.

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6. Smooth the top of the cream and sprinkle a mixture of the hot chocolate powder and grated chocolate to cover the top.

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7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you have used up the cream. You don't want to make a tiramisu higher than 3 layers (I don't think my recipe will make that much!?) as you might lose in your game of tiramisu Jenga. 
8. Once complete, put the tiramisu in the fridge to chill for AT LEAST 24 hours before serving.

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Hope you waited for tiramisu and it turned out goood! It seems like my weird illnesses are still occuring and I'm completing this blog post from the waiting room at the doctor's clinic as we speak. I've got a bit of a mysterious swollen lip so it looks like I will be having a plain potato mash tonight!



Thanks a hundred - GIVEAWAY!

26 Aug 2013

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It feels like ages since I've posted, it wasn't my plan but I've been plagued with strange infections, dizziness and a long term sore throat which has really slowed me down. Anyway, I hope I'm not going to get sick anymore after I finish my third round of antibiotics and I will be bouncing and full of energy (if you know me, I'm never full of energy! :))

A few weeks ago my facebook page reached 100 likes (yay!) which kinda caught me by surprise! I thought it would be nice to share a few things I like with my FB friends. It took me a while but I think I'm sorted. Instead of doing one big giveway, I thought it would be better to try to share the love with more of you by offering a few wee things. So here's what I've hunted out:

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1. Tory Burch Metallic Print Scarf 
2. Lisa Ho Print Scarf
3. Marc by Marc Jacobs heart print scarf 

The fabric for the scarves were sourced from The Fabric Store, an amazing importer of high end fabrics who has stores in New Zealand and Australia and will be opening a store in Los Angeles very soon. I got the prints cut and made into scarves so they are one of a kind!

On a side note, I just found out that Australian designer Lisa Ho has shut up shop, or closed down to be exact due to financial difficulty. It is such a shame but it also makes this scarf even more special now!

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4. Happy Socks - Orange Triangle (size 41-47)
5. Topman Socks - Orange Fox (one size)
6. Happy socks-  Argyle blue (size 41-47)

Since the scarves are a bit feminine I had to find something for my boy readers (I think you guys are there!?) To keep it fun, I've chosen a few pairs of printed socks from UK label Topman and Swedish label Happy Socks.

HOW TO ENTER:


1. You must be a "follower" of Confessions of a Chopinholic's Facebook page

2. You must leave a comment at the bottom of this post stating whether you want to go into the draw to win the "girls" or "boys" prize.  A prize consists of one of the items in either the girls selection or boys selection, depending on which category you choose.

AND if you want an extra entry:

3. Share my facebook post called "Thanks a hundred - GIVEAWAY!" and you will get one extra entry into the draw. With two entries, you can choose to enter "both" the girls' and boys' selections. Make sure you let me know your selection by leaving a comment below.



Thanks for all your support so far and I wish you all GOOD LUCK!









Giveaway commences 26 August 2013 and ends 8 September (midnight NZ time). Open to all followers of Confessions of a Chopinholic's Facebook page. Winners will receive an item from their chosen selection (boys or girls selection) but cannot select which specific item they will receive.   Winners have two weeks to respond once contacted before a new winner is selected. The prizes are as pictured above and cannot be exchanged for money. One entry can only be drawn out once for a prize.  Delivery of the prizes will be at no cost but is subject to the following conditions: Delivery is to a physical address (not a PO Box); Delivery is to a location which is serviceable by standard International Mail; Delivery method and timing is at the discretion of Miss Chopinholic; No returns/re-delivery permitted after delivery has been made.


Are White Jeans the New Black?

14 Aug 2013

When I first heard about this white jeans trend coming out of Hollywood, I was, to be honest, a little mortified. Growing up in conservative New Zealand, there were huge negative connotations to wearing white jeans or to girls who wear white jeans. Of course the beautiful models and starlets of Hollywood could pull this look off with their legs that go on forever and toothpick slimness. I built up the courage and bought a pair to see what the craze was all about. To my surprise, they looked good and were easy to create different outfits with!

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These skinny white jeans were $35nzd (on sale!) from Factorie and they're pretty comfortable. They have a little bit of stretch but not so much that they would fall down and are surprisingly thick so it doesn't matter what colour underwear you're wearing underneath!

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I'm wearing a blazer with a fake vest attachment from a shop down Fa Yuen Street in Hong Kong (with some missing buttons now!), cashmere wool jersey from Esprit (a gift from a cousin), striped scarf from a wholesale market in Taiwan and Dione heels in Nero-Electric Blue from Beau Coup for Karen Walker. You can still get these amazing Italian handmade shoes from Beau Coup's website. Do you think I look a bit like an air hostess? I only really noticed it as I was editing the photos!

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I'm wearing a Liam lace top with a slip dress (worn as a top) that came with a Ruby dress. What a coincidence they were both from New Zealand design label Ruby. The necklace is something I've had for a long time, found it at the bottom of my jewellery heap! This post seems to be full of overseas purchases, my shoes were a sale purchase from Zara Hong Kong. The spikey heels break up the super feminine look a little bit right?!

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This post was such fun and a great discovery for me! Wonder if this trend will take off in little ol' New Zealand? I didn't think I could pull off the whole white jeans thing but I seriously am loving my new jeans. You all need to go out and find the perfect pair of white jeans for yourselves!