We’re Renovating!

We are excited to announce that we’re making some major renovations! No, not on our homes – although I have a few rooms that are desperately calling for my attention. We’re renovating the blog! We’ve been so blown away by everyone’s support that we decided we wanted to make your Offbeat & Inspired experience even better.

You’ll still be able to find us at offbeatandinspired.com, but you may experience a few hiccups in the midst of our upgrade. If you do, just shake off that virtual sawdust and we’ll make sure to get it all cleaned up so that we can welcome you into our re-designed blogging home.

We can’t wait to finish up and show you our new “place”! Stay tuned!

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR OUR CURRENT SUBSCRIBERS: We REALLY don’t want to lose you in the move! Since we’re switching hosts, all of our WordPress subscribers and some of our e-mail subscribers may not carry over. To be safe, head on over to our RSS Feed and subscribe that way! You won’t miss a beat and will continue receiving all of our posts via e-mail (or another reader, whichever you choose)!

If you have any questions, please comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Christmas & Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee 17

I can’t believe Christmas is over! It certainly snuck up on us this year. I say that every year, but it really snuck up on us this year. Confession: we didn’t even put ornaments on our tree! (Ducking and hiding.) We went to the tree farm about a week before Christmas, cut down our very first live tree since we got married, ooh’d and aah’d over how perfect and majestic it looked towering in our living room, draped it with some white twinkle lights — END SCENE. We even had a pile of ornaments sitting on the table waiting to be tucked into those glorious branches and it never happened. We’re the worst tree parents EVER.

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Aside from the overwhelming magnitude of our tree neglect, we did manage to work in some favorite holiday activities (and a few new ones) before the big day arrived. We did our traditional homemade cocoa and spent a few evenings by a roaring fire while catching up on the latest ABC Family Christmas Movies (Christmas In Handcuffs anyone?). I did lots of baking and cooking, desperately seeking a balance between health and holiday treats. The balance was never found but I learned that if you eat your weight in chocolate, you actually do end up killing the craving — success, sort of? We attended our first Gingerbread House Party and it was OH so much fun. Our friends, Hannah and Ben had us over to dress up our cat (S’mores) and their dog (Moses) in Santa and Reindeer gear for a “family photo.” I observed while Hannah created the most delicious and difficult pulled cream candy known to man. Hopefully I’ll convince her to do a tutorial for Offbeat & Inspired so you guys can see how wonderful these candies are! She also made bourbon-soaked cherries wrapped in fondant and dipped in chocolate. I could have eaten those for days. Cheers to having a pro candy maker in our midst!

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

After the preliminary festivities, we packed up our cat and 4 days’ worth of clothing (or in my case, 3 weeks worth) for an 8-hour road trip north, destined for a little New York town called Albion where we would spend Christmas with Dave’s family.

Creme Brulee 3

Dave’s mom is a cook and a baker. A really good cook and baker. Every time we visit she has new recipes to share and new cookbooks for me to drool over. It’s so inspiring to hear about all the treats she whips up for family, neighbors and friends. Before we drove up this year, she and I e-mailed back and forth about what recipes we could try out together during our visit. This has become somewhat of a tradition — one that I really love! For this trip, she suggested creme brûlée. She used to be the head pastry chef at a cafe/quilt shop and creme brûlée was one of the most popular items on the menu. At first I was intimidated by the fancy nature of this dessert, but I’m all for learning! I would take notes with my camera and she would work her creme brûlée magic.

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

These turned out better than anything I’ve ever had in a restaurant. The thin shell of hard caramel was sweet and toasty with a perfectly smooth and creamy vanilla custard underneath.

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

As I’m getting older and still sort of easing into “official adulthood”, I find myself being more purposeful about taking note of the really special events and moments in life. Spending Christmas day with my husband’s family while Mom-in-law teaches me how to make creme brûlée from scratch on the counter tops of her cozy well-worn kitchen with flurries of snow falling outside is truly one of them.

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Christmas & Creme Brulee - Offbeat & Inspired

Time with friends and family is such a treasure during the holidays. What memories did you make this Christmas? What traditions did you continue?

Creme Brûlée
Makes 6-8 (4-6 oz.) ramekins

2 cups of heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
3/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Bring 2 cups of heavy cream almost to a simmer over medium heat.

In a large bowl, stir eggs and sugar together until well blended.

Very slowly, add the hot cream to the egg mixture while whisking thoroughly until well blended.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve back into the pot used to heat the cream. Rinse out your large bowl and strain your mixture a second time back into the bowl.

Stir in the vanilla.

Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins and place them in a large baking pan. Fill the pan halfway with water.

Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the custard has set, from 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The centers should jiggle slightly when the ramekins are gently shaken.

Remove ramekins from the baking pan immediately and transfer them to a cooling rack.  Cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Right before serving, generously sprinkle the tops with sugar and caramelize with a torch.

Winter Drinks to Keep You Warm

We’re hanging out again over at FOLK Magazine & Blog this week! We’ve got two beverage recipes for you that are perfect for this holiday season.

The first is a recipe for Tiffany’s Spiced Sweet Tea. A twist on traditional sweet tea, this spiced up version can be served warm or cold so you can enjoy it any time of year. Check out the recipe here!

The second recipe is for glogg – Scandinavian mulled wine. This recipe tastes best on cold, snowy nights by the fireplace alongside close friends and family. Click here for the glogg recipe!

With some spiced sweet tea and a little mulled wine, you may even find yourself looking forward to winter. See you over at FOLK!

Farm Wanderings at Heritage Prairie

Last week, I shared over at FOLK Magazine & Blog about my recent wanderings at Heritage Prairie Farm. I thought I’d share a few more pictures from my visit. They have so much great stuff I just couldn’t squeeze it all in one blog post!

Keep reading!

Farm-Inspired Butternut Squash Salad

We’re hanging out today over at FOLK Magazine & Blog! Head over there to read about my recent farm wanderings that inspired a delicious recipe for Butternut Squash Salad!

And be sure to check out an amazing deal that FOLK Magazine has running! It’s only $11 for a whole year subscription if you purchase by Black Friday!

See you over at FOLK!

REALLY exciting news! Offbeat & Inspired joins FOLK!!

REALLY exciting news!  Offbeat & Inspired joins FOLK!!

Well I’ve been a little busy this past week with something pretty major!! I’m SOOO excited to announce that Sarah and I have been working with Ben Ashby (editor in chief of FOLK Magazine) and some amazing bloggers over at the magazine’s new blog, FolkLifestyle.com!  A few weeks ago I was talking to Ben after he heard about our blog and I ended up writing a last minute article for FOLK’s Christmas issue which hits stores (and mailboxes) this week!  After that amazing event (pinch me, cause I wonder if it actually happened), we were introduced to some absolutely wonderful bloggers who were also asked to contribute to FOLK’s new blog, and we felt right at home joining the team!

We will be posting a few times a month over at the FOLK blog, and we HIGHLY recommend checking it out and subscribing.  The magazine and the blog are both phenomenal, and right up the alley of everything we love here at Offbeat & Inspired.  We’ll be contributing articles to the magazine too, and if you haven’t heard of FOLK yet, here’s a little note from Ben:

You may be asking what exactly FOLK is all about. Simply put it is about ALL AMERICAN LIVING. The driving force behind FOLK is to immerse the reader in a life that journeys at a slower pace, one that involves drinking iced tea on the front porch, having conversations with friends, reliving the olden days, hunting for the perfect antique and vintage items, eating at local diners, perfecting family recipes, picking tomatoes off the vine, summers spent in a swing under an old oak tree, buying locally made products, driving with windows down and Miranda Lambert blasting, creating unique collections of your own, finding the country life in any setting, and one that remembers the little things that make life worth living.

There you have it!  FOLK will be choc full of everything you need to get inspired and stay inspired.  Sign us up!!  If you’re half as psyched about this as we are, head over to the blog’s kick-off post and leave a comment to be automatically entered to win an autographed copy of the magazine!

Keep reading for an amazing discount on an entire year’s subscription to FOLK Magazine!

Our Open “Haus” Menu

I recently shared a few creative and simple entertaining ideas inspired by my brother and sister-in-law at their open house for FreshGround Roasting. As that event was being planned I thought, “Why not make this a weekend event and host an open house at our place the next day?”

OK, I’ll admit it was quite busy cooking, cleaning and setting up for two consecutive open houses. But it was totally worth it! We had a great time on Saturday with FreshGround. Then on Sunday, my husband and I invited friends, family and neighbors to our open “Haus” (our play on words since our last name is Hauser).

Keep reading!

Chocolate Hazelnut Soap

This past weekend, one of my best friends came to visit. She and I have known each other since those uncomfortable junior high days of braces, over-sized glasses and zero sense of style. Fortunately, we survived the preteen years and have come out the other side with an awesome friendship and (hopefully) a little less adolescent awkwardness.

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We spent this past weekend hanging out downtown, eating great food, reminiscing about old times and of course, crafting. I couldn’t wait to share my new love of soap-making. I’ll admit, after my last soaping mishap I was a bit nervous to create my own recipe. But when you’re crafting with friends, the mistakes are half as frustrating and the successes twice as fun, so why not give it another shot?

Keep reading!

Creative & Simple Entertaining Ideas

Last Saturday, Tiffany and I hung out with my brother and sister-in-law at their open house for FreshGround Roasting. We had a blast preparing appetizers, decorating and learning about coffee. One of the things that I loved was how my sister-in-law, Krista, set out the food. We had hearty appetizers, local cheeses, amazing cupcakes from The Sugar Path and fresh fruits and veggies. Krista used vintage and household items to make the spread look as good as it tasted.

Keep reading!

Chicago Trip & Guest-ifying Your Home

I’m so excited to be in Chicago visiting Sarah and her hubby for the first time since we started the blog!  We’re looking forward to doing lots of blog-worthy activities on this little weekend trip.  Today we’ve got an open house for FreshGround Roasting, tonight we’ll be eating at Maya Del Sol (their favorite restaurant), tomorrow we’ve got an open house here at Sarah’s, and in between we’ll be doing lots of exploring and picture taking!

I wanted to do this quick post because when we got in last night and Sarah showed us to our guest room, I squealed with delight when I saw the “guest table”.  The guest table was a little refinished dresser stocked with a bottle of water, 2 glasses and a basket of essentials.  Sarah said she got the idea from a recent trip to our house, where I had bottled water and some snacks on the nightstand in their room.  I got the idea from an article I read about how to make guests feel more at home.

Keep reading!