Engagement Photos: Matt & Denae

Engagement Photos: Matt & Denae

I had the honor and privilege to shoot some engagement photos for a friend, Matt, and his lovely bide-to-be, Denae. We had planned on shooting at the park across the street from where they were going to be getting married but it was super windy and a little chilly, so we headed over to Matt’s parent’s house where they had a beautiful little lawn we got to shoot on. Denae is planning a BEAUTIFUL wedding and I can’t wait to capture the lovely memories from it.

Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography Ruffled Feathers Photography

 

Best Homemade Buttermilk Waffles

The Best Homemade Buttermilk Waffles

So, be prepared, because these waffles are not only delicious but they are addicting and you might need to double the batch from snacking while you cook them! The recipe calls for quite a bit of butter and buttermilk, making them super decadent, you don’t even need toppings! Although who can resist butter and syrup on waffles!?

Best Homemade Buttermilk Waffle Recipe

When my husband decided he wanted to purchase a waffled maker, I was, at first, hesitant because… we have a MILLION kitchen gadgets and I honestly didn’t think we needed another one (Can’t I just make pancakes!?)…

Well, when we had to return a few Christmas gifts and had a gift card we decided to use that to buy a nice waffle maker. I brought the big box home begrudgingly and opened it up. But of course, I immediately set out to figure out the PREFECT waffle recipe.

I look in my cookbooks and online, gleaned the general recipe and went to work. Needless to say, we had waffles for dinner that night.

The first batch was not all that great. A little dry and too crispy for us. Needed work.

A few tweaks, and it hit. They were Ahhhhh-maaaaazing. Seriously, my toddler ate two full waffles WITHOUT syrup.

Best Homemade Buttermilk Waffle Recipe

While these guys look a little over-cooked, I assure you they are not. It is important to learn how your waffle maker cook to get the just perfect crisp on them, without over cooking or burning them. Most suggest you wait until after it stops steaming, but for mine, that was waaaaaay too long.

I only cooked mine barely 2 minutes, but it will be a little different with each machine.

Like all recipes, you mix the dry ingredients together, then the wet, then combine, but there are a few crucial steps to making this batter juuuuust right that you don’t want to skip over.

So here it is: The Best Homemade Buttermilk Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons fresh baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup buttermilk (okay to use white milk curdled with lemon juice method)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  • Preheat waffle Iron
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine, set aside.
  • Place egg white in a small bowl, whisk vigorously (or use a hand mixer) until stiff peaks form
  • Combine buttermilk, milk, melted butter, vanilla and egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients
  • Mix, by hand, until just combined.
  • Fold in beaten egg white until just combined.
  • scoop 1/2 – 1 cup depending on size of iron onto prepared waffle iron (I always spray mine with non-stick spray even though you don’t necessarily need to), cook until golden brown. (note: cook time will vary depending on brand of waffle iron)

Best Homemade Buttermilk Waffle Recipe

As I mentioned in the recipe, it is ok if you don’t have buttermilk to make buttermilk waffles (weird, right?), you can add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and pour enough milk to make 1 cup and let it sit for a few minutes to turn and it will work just fine, although, like heavy cream, buttermilk will keep for basically forever so I like to keep a small pint on hand for just such occasions as I feel like making Buttermilk Waffled for dinner one day. 🙂

I hope that this recipe is as delicious for you as it is for me. I like to make homemade syrup, too. I experimented with a few. Vanilla syrup was particularly good (tasted like caramel too me, but the husband said it didn’t). I will have to post a few of those recipes later. In the mean time, let the know how your homemade buttermilk waffles work out for you!

 

 

 

Death Is Nothing At All

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we are to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. it is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. (Beautiful word by: Henry Scott Holland)Death is nothing at allAll is well.

Reading this, as I often have and do, is one of the few things that comforts me, to this day, about losing my brother. I hear his voice saying these words softly and slow (throwing in a few , “dudes,” as I know he would). I know he is with me all the time, I feel his spirit often. I know he watches over my son and is his guardian, knowing he is the keeper of his name.

I do not, however, believe he is up in heaven. I don’t know if I believe in heaven, a place unattainable by humans without intervention. I don’t know if I want to give up that much autonomy to something that was made up by man. I believe his spirit and energy are still here and that he is now the earth and part of this universe as we all will become. The strongest impetus behind my shift in thinking was actually the Bible itself. When I came across a verse in Revelation, which states that you will not recognize your loved ones in heaven, I was stopped dead (no pun intended).

Right there: count me out. There is no, according to Christianity’s own holy book, “see you again some day,” as much as people don’t care to realize it. It certainly wouldn’t be unheard of for Christians to pick and choose what they believe the Bible says or doesn’t say… But, this verse made me reevaluate everything I believed and I decided the religion I grew up with, the religion I was told was true and right, the way the world IS and WAS… was not what I believed anymore.

I understand Christianity and it’s purpose.  I understand why it was needed before we, as a human race, understood the way the world worked. But for me, personally, I don’t need it anymore. I see it all as a made up system to keep people where the people in power want them. I don’t fault anyone who believes.  Everyone needs a belief system. The ideas of Christianity are comforting and a really great thing for a lot of people.

But not for me, anymore. I believe in the earth. In Mother Nature. In the purity of the universe to provide me with the spirituality I need. They beauty and grace people find in Jesus Christ, I find in the goddess of nature now. That is all. The tangible and physical world we live in sacred. That is now what I believe. And my brother, and all of us really, are physically connected to it, if we just listen and pay attention you can hear and feel the reverberation of energy on the universe. And the vibes you put out I also feel will come back to you.

To me, it makes death… nothing at all. To me, it means… All is well.

 

DIY Advent Calendar

DIY Advent Calendar – Count Down to Christmas

DIY Advent Calendar

Thanks to Pinterest, I had a real hankering to make a DIY Advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas (and maybe sneak in a little extra chocolate, because who doesn’t need that around the Holidays…)

So I started pinned. I came across things like these and was seriously covetous.

DIY Advent Calendar

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DIY Advent Calendar

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DIY Advent Calendar

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Ultimately, I like the look and style of this one the best and thought it would look best in our living room.

DIY Advent Calendar

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I set out at first with the intent of finding a stick like the one in the photo, but was raining and had been snowing in the days leading up to this crafty creation and I wanted to get it done at least near the beginning of December 😉

So, I settled for a nice branch cut form the bottom of our Christmas tree. My father, husband and I (and now my son) always go the day after Thanksgiving to get our Christmas tree from the same wonderful people. They show up just before Thanksgiving and come to our little corner of Lake County from way up in the UP (upper peninsula) in Michigan. His name is Vern and my father love this man. I feel like it really turns from Fall to Winter once we see Vern setting up his shop.

So, I grabbed a few nice looking branches from the pile of trimmings and clippings to use for our DIY Advent Calendar. Once we got home, I put them all up against the wall to see how they were going to hang, which ones were symmetrical enough or looked the best. Once I found the perfect one, I used a small gorilla hook to put it up, you can’t even see it.

Then I set out to get small gifts, trinkets, ornaments and of course sweets to fill  the calendar with. I already had some small and medium sized brown paper bags and some festival red and white twine, but both were picked up at Michael’s during some other crafting time. I got some Hersey Kisses, M&Ms, candy canes. Then I supplemented those with some nicer treats from World Market.

Then I put it all together! My toddler loves picking out that days bag and tearing it open.

DIY Advent Calendar RUFFLED FEATHERS DIY Advent Calendar

The Recent Widow

The Recent Widow

A Recent Widow - Ruffled Feathers

A recent widow stoops to put flowers down on her husbands grave.

She looks up to wipe a tear rolling down her cheek and she sees him walking through a row of headstones, headed straight for the fence at the edge of the cemetery. The wind blew just then and her hair whipped around her head like she was in a wind tunnel. She brushed it back with her still gloved hands and when she looked back in his direction he was gone.

A train rushed by.

She hadn’t even heard it coming. But as it passed her, her hair again went wild as if it had a mind of it’s own. She stood up to see if maybe the man she saw was stooping by a grave, bent over in reflection or maybe had found a bench some where to rest and pray.

But he was gone. She was left alone.

Again.

And at that moment, the feeling of loneliness overwhelmed her and she started to cry. Softly, calmly, the tears ran down her cheeks. She turned and walked back down the gravel aisle to leave.

 

Image Credit

 

Falling In Love – Fall Wedding Inspiration

There is almost nothing better than when August rolls around and you gear up for the Perseid Meteor Shower and cooler weather you ultimately begin to think about all things pumpkin and the leaves changing color. This beautiful time of year makes an even more beautiful time to get hitched, too! So here are some of the most swoon-worthy images that will make you want to change that Spring wedding date to mid-October in a heartbeat.

There is ALMOST nothing more beautiful than amnesia roses but those greenish-purple succulents, fuchsia ranunculus and seeded eucalyptus with pops of white (and super fragrant!) garden roses creates one of the most stunning bouquets I have ever seen.

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Photo: Alison Conklin]

If you are having a late fall affair, give your guests a nice place to snuggle up. Maybe a fire pit? Give them a hot toddy and a warm blanket and you’ll have good times to remember for a lifetime.

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Credit: Bridal Musings]

ZZ Top was right! Every girl IS crazy for a sharp dressed man. But these tweeds, sweaters and Fall inspired boutonnieres are #ManCrushMonday worthy!

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Photo: Ryan Ray]

We ALL know that sweets tables are one of the hottest (and most awesome) wedding tends going  – and honestly I hope they never go away). But why not include some way too adorable bunting and seasonal treats like caramel apples.

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Credit: Colin Cowie Weddings]

Talk with your photographer about using the seasonal foliage to create stunning one of a kind images like these. I CAN’T stop looking at. Amazing!

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Photo: Nathan Fiske Photography]

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Credit:]

Give your girls a lovely dress they are never going to want to take off. A burgundy, wine colors frock in a cocktail length is exactly what you need to make your bridal party look their Fall best.

Fall Wedding Inspiration

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Who needs aisle runners!? Or even petals!. Using the bounty of the season and fall foliage to line your aisle creates a breathtaking scene for you and your guests.

Fall Wedding Inspiration

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How adorable is this tulle number? Your flower girls might just steal the show in this too cute dress.

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Credit: Etsy]

Fall doesn’t have to be ALL about pumpkins and apples… but seriously, it’s ok if it is, too!

Oranges, purples, reds, yellows… you can mix it up, make it your own.

Fall Wedding inspiration

[Credit: A Cake to Remember]

And who DOESN’T love naked cakes?!

Fall Wedding Inspiration

How about a cute gift for your guests?

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Credit: Evermine]

Purple hydrangeas are often tinted with dark blues and greens, and of course make lovely Fall floral additions

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Credit: Herecomestheguide]

Don’t for get to frame your space to make sure you and your love are the center of attention!

Fall Wedding Inspiration

Fall Wedding Inspiration

[Credit: Happily Wed]

Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Whiskey Caramel Sauce
You think you know whiskey? You don’t know Jack.
 As a proud Scot, a Highland Games athlete and a lover of just about all types of booze from homemade hooch to top shelf single barrels, I have a keen fondness for whiskey (of all spellings and homelands – I’ve even have a Japanese Whiskey, and it was delicious!)
Now I am by no means a connoisseur but I do love to find new and exciting ways to use it in the kitchen. And I always have a few bottles of Jack Daniels on hand in my liquor cabinet.
So when I was looking to kick up my caramel sauce recipe I headed straight for that delicious Tennessee JD.
I used this particular batch in some Whiskey Bacon Caramel Bark, but I just happened to make a double batch to drizzle over ice cream… or just dip an errant spoon into, NBD.
Now caramel can be tricky but as long as you are paying just a little bit of attention you can handle it, I promise. Once you master it you can tweak it to fulfill your perfect caramel dreams, too. Like it more buttery? Or burned sugary or browned buttery? Add different extracts, experiment with thickness and consistency. It really is much more versatile than you think. And ALWAYS delicious.
There is always a jar of homemade caramel of some sort in my frig or pantry.
I’ll post my recipe for 6 minute caramel sauce soon, too, so you can see a different type of caramel that you can whip up on a whim.
Whiskey Caramel Sauce
Here is the recipe for Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Caramel Sauce:
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Combine the sugar, water, whiskey, and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and starts to turn color.
  2. Increase the heat to thigh and boil until the syrup turns a deep amber color, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Watch carefully, as it can burn quickly.
  4. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream and salt.
  5. Use a long-handled wooden spoon to carefully stir in the cream, as caramel has a tendency to hiss and splash as the cold cream hits it.
  6. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel thickens, 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. The mixture should be the consistency of very thick cream. Let boiling sauce cool until it is just warm before serving.
  8. To store, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
  9. To reheat the sauce, microwave, uncovered, for 30 second increments until desired consistency. Stir until smooth.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Well I went to the store one day a week or so ago… hungry. Which you all know is a big mistake. And passed by some delicious looking apple cider. Being hungry, I couldn’t pass it up. Fast forward I need to use it up before it goes bad. The leaves are turning here, the weather getting more and more crisp each day: it’s almost full on Fall. One of my favorite things to get while apple picking is some fresh-made apple cider donuts so munch on while out in the orchard or on the ride home. It’s probably one of the best parts of one of my favorite Fall activities.

So I had this cider I needed to use up and began searching for a recipe I thought looked good. I modified one to meet my needs, paid a little closer attention to the actual baking process (my ancient oven has wreaked havoc on my last few baking sessions). This recipe is deeeeelicious, You won’t want to change a thing about it. And as a side note, I’m NEVER baking anything NOT in a water bath ever again. Cooked perfectly, no tough, over-cooked bottoms and raw middles. Ah.. glorious.

I wanted to make some pop-able mini-donuts/donut holes so I grabbed both my donut pan and a mini-cupcake pan. I purchased wilton’s cupcake scoops a while back, totally worth purchase. They make filling the tiny spaces much easier (you can put them in a ziplock bag and pipe them in but I’m lazy and the smallest scoop works perfectly). But these are BOTH ones you are going to want to make sure you DO NOT over-fill. You want to make the donut holes still pop-able and look as much like donut holes as possible and not mini-muffins.  And if you fill your donut pan more than 2/3 of the way you’ll lose your hole… (I know, I laughed at that, too).

These baby’s cook up fast so don’t go away and set a timer because you don’t want them to be tough, you want them just cooked through. I coated mine in cinnamon-sugar, because really who doesn’t love just about everything covered in cinnamon-sugar. But you can leave that off if you choose but they are seriously better with. I give the tops a little, quick dunk in some melted butter to help hold on the coating to the tops that have baked more firmly but the bottom portion should be moist enough that you only need to dunk (very quickly) the tops.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Baked Apple Cider DonutsBaked Apple Cider Donuts Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups apple cider
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash Salt
1 large egg, room temperature
2 Tablespoons butter melted
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure/homemade vanilla

 

Directions:

  1. Simmer apple cider over low-medium heat in a small saucepan on the stove for 15-25 minutes. You may add cinnamon sticks, spices, orange slices for flavor if desired. In this step you are reducing the apple cider for a stronger flavor. You will ultimately want end up with 1/2 cup. Allow to cool in refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.

  2. 2. Pre heat over to 325 degree. Lightly spray done or mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

  3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg*, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. * You can substitute pumpkin pie spice if you desire for the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Use amount equal to the total of each of the previous ingredients.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar together until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk*, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of apple cider concentrate. Mix with whisk until incorporated. *If you do not have buttermilk, you can create your own using a tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of regular milk, allow to sit for 10 minutes so milk can curdle. Mix often.

  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Very gently and with your whisk fold wet into the dry ingredients. Be as gentle as you are able in this step. You do not want to active the gluten, which will make your donuts have a touch texture and using a whisk keeps them airy. Whisk until *just combined.* A few small lumps may remain.

  6. Fill mini-muffin or donut pan until 3/4 of the way full. If you have an inconsistent oven, use a large jelly roll pan or large deep cookie sheet and place in oven, fill halfway with water. Place donut/mini-muffin pan in the center of jelly roll pan. Bake 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

  7. Make the topping by mixing granulated sugar and cinnamon to your desired taste, generally around 1/4 sugar and a few teaspoons of sugar. Dip the top of the donut/mini-muffin in the melted butter then dunk them all the way into the cinnamon-sugar, using your hands to generously coat the entire thing. Repeat with all the donuts.

  8. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days but they are best day of preparation.

Enjoy! Let me know how they work for you in the comments!

Fall is my Favorite: Peepin’ the Fall Foliage in Wisconsin

Peepin’ the fall Foliage in Wisconsin. Ok, y’all. Fall is my favorite. I know it is a lot of people’s favorite. Who WOULDN’t love it!? The crisp air, the flannels and boots… hoodies! Hoodies!!! Pumpkins, the earth set ablaze in one last beautiful hurrah before going to sleep for the next few months. One last party before the winter, that’s what Fall is. It is my favorite time of year for everything. Baking, photography, writing, everything. And I was thinking about a photo shoot I have in a few weeks and I decided to take a look at some photographs I took last year for some inspiration. And of course I wanted to share them with you! Let’s take a look and ALL get excited about the change of the seasons and the turning of the wheel. They aren’t the best shots of all but they remind me of how beautiful it is about to get.

My husband and I like to go on road trips to no where so we hopped in the car one morning, strapped the little Bear into his car seat and pointed the car North. We ended up somewhere in Wisconsin and found some beautifully scenic roads, a few meadows and fields all ripe for the viewing.

Fall Foliage Ruffled Feathers Events Fall Foliage Ruffled Feathers Fall Foliage Ruffled Feathers Fall Foliage Ruffled Feathers Ruffled Feathers Fall Foliage Fall Foliage Ruffled Feathers Fall Foliage Ruffled Feathers EventsCan’t wait to take these drives again really soon!

 

Singing Smugglers Lullaby

So it has been an exciting time, with the change of the seasons and the beginning of my favorite time of year we have also started up the new session of my favorite pastime: women’s choir. We are a small but mighty bunch this session at the Old Town School of Folk Music in the quaint Northside neighborhood of Lincoln Square (which is also home to one of my favorite restaurants: The Chicago Brauhaus – best German food in Chicago). But I digress… Back to sangin’ We started out new music and are singing some of the hauntingly beautiful music.

Ruffled Feathers Singing Smugglers Lullaby

This is quickly becoming my favorite song we are singing. I’ll try to get a recording of it at our rehearsal next week. But until then, here is a link beautiful rendition in Gaelic and another more colloquial version with the guitar.

It is a high one and it’s kind of evil and they ask us to sing high G’s and A’s in pianissimo… but beautiful all the same.

 

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