A Woman’s Attractiveness Reflects on Her Husband’s Appeal, Talent and Ability

steph in fall

I had one of the most interesting comments last week by Object of Contempt, wondering how keeping passionate love, romance, and a woman’s attractiveness alive and well in a marriage are intertwined with each other, and if they are at all supported in Scripture.  He admitted that most women don’t seem to have a problem with wanting to be attractive, but for the women who are extremely against it, are there any biblical passages that show it’s important to God?

His main question was how a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

These are all really great questions, and this is a sensitive issue for many women, especially in our current day culture.

Let’s tackle the notion of attractiveness first:

Like I said in Men Need an Attractive Wife,

Most men really do value having a wife that is attractive.

It’s not shallow that they want to show you off, it’s not shallow that even just looking at you and knowing that you’re their’s makes them feel proud of you.

It’s just the way God designed the male nature.

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It is, in large part, a reflection on the man, what his wife looks like.

This is where the topic gets a little more serious.  When a woman takes care of her appearance and tries to look her best for her husband, she is helping her marriage to flourish by giving her husband respect.  Keeping herself attractive for him shows him how much she respects, honors, and admires him.  In other words, she wouldn’t dare let herself go because not only does she respect herself too much, but she knows her appearance reflects on who he is as a man and as her husband.

When a woman refuses to be and remain attractive to her husband in the way that he likes, when she gains weight after marriage or never loses her pregnancy weight, it is almost as if she is sending him the message that he deserves a woman who looks unattractive.  That he can’t or couldn’t do better.  When she refuses to be attractive to him, she is saying that she doesn’t care about his visual needs, that she disrespects the man that he is.

 

One of my favorite books, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes, describes this phenomenon quite well,

Paul reminds us, “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)…

Have you ever noticed how a man who enjoys hunting likes to display his catch?  A great blue marlin is mounted over a mantel, a five-point deer head emerges from a wall, a stuffed greenhead mallard proudly tops a desk. All this is to say, “Hey, guys, look at what I caught. Eat your heart out.”

There’s nothing your husband would like more than to flaunt his attractive wife out in public.  He may not mount you on the wall (let’s hope not), but when he walks into a room with you at his side, he wants to say, “Hey, look what I caught.  She’s all mine.  Eat your heart out!”  I daresay, when you walked down the aisle on your wedding day, that’s exactly what he was thinking!

“When a man has an attractive wife, it says he has the appeal and talent that deserve someone of her caliber.

When a man’s wife let’s herself become unattractive, the message comes across loud and clear that he couldn’t get someone better and probably deserves her.  He has little to offer, the world decides, and he attracts little in return.”

The Bible reminds us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  The truth remains… man looks at the outward appearance.

Of course, I don’t think most women who let themselves become unattractive want to reflect badly on their husbands, or even understand that not trying to be attractive makes their husbands feel as if they don’t care about them.  Many times I believe women just think that men act and feel like women – that outer looks don’t matter to them as much as it truly often does.

But men (most men) are wired to like looking at a beautiful woman – and it makes them ecstatic if their wife is attractive to them!  They want their wives to make an effort to be attractive for all these reasons, and yes, Object of Contempt is right that it directly encourages passionate love and romance to flourish in a man’s heart toward his wife.

Object of Contempt rightly points out that a woman making an effort in her attractiveness is doing her part to maintain passionate love and even romance in their marriage:

I think, however, that it is part of the vows to do what you can to maintain passionate love. Being attractive is part of that. I also think it is possible to make yourself be in love with someone (having done it myself). There are limits, of course. Romance and passion are often dismissed in christian teaching about marriage, just like attractiveness and beauty are. I suspect this is partially the cause for the attractiveness issue.

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The second part of Object of Contempts question: How would a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

Will be discussed in the next post!

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Simple Sweet Maple Syrup Cookies

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A few weeks ago, to really get into the festive fall spirit, my oldest son & I made some Maple Syrup cookies together to make for a special treat.  They made great snacks to take in his lunch box or to enjoy after school.  ❤  So excited for the Fall season and all the baking, cooking, and … well, eating!!!

We used this recipe from Allrecipes.com,

Maple Cookies

1 cup butter – softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup authentic maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, syrup and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir into mixture until well blended. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool on wire rack.

They came out so beautifully!

Make sure to use a really great maple syrup – it’s healthier and the flavor is so much more intense!

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How to Love Food Yet Keep an Hour Glass Shape

I learned a long time ago, how to manage my weight while at the same time, being able to almost eat whatever I wanted, not feeling deprived or prevented from eating any certain food group.

My mother, when I was about 12, got me into my school’s track & field, solely for the purpose of learning how to effectively control my weight & shape via healthy exercise.  In our American culture, where fast food is everywhere and so tempting, and processed food makes up the bulk of our grocery markets, I’m so glad she had the whereabouts to teach me something that is now seen as drastic in order to stay in shape for life: exercise and eating generally healthy.

She told me that when practice was especially hard, to picture someone’s body I adored (Catherine Zeta-Jones became it for me 🙂 ), and know that shape was my prize.  Nevermind that she and I have completely different body types, it was such a great motivator – picturing the body I wanted, but then love of the sport took over, and I found myself genuinely enjoying running and racing hurdles.  That was basically the goal, for me to learn to appreciate and enjoy the feel of exercise and taking care of my body, as well as to understand the award and results for doing so.

Something I’ve seen rampant in our country is that exercise becomes some kind of idol, or center of our life.  For women in particular, don’t take exercise or weight lifting so seriously that you cross over to a masculine extreme.

too masculine

Female Masculinity…

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This is another beauty of the French woman… she still keeps her shape womanly and soft with a bit of lean muscle – she doesn’t lose her breast tissue in the pursuit of gaining strength that appears like a male torso.

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The French typically have a laid back view on beauty, exercise and eating, they aren’t trying too hard with it – a view we Americans would do very well to integrate into our mindset.  As far as beauty goes, it is a very relaxed approach almost sometimes a little unkempt, but always sexy in a very French way.  Most French girls don’t even own a brush!  When I was young, and even now, I didn’t and don’t actually brush my hair, and I have one hair brush that I never ever use packed away in the storage under our sink.  I comb it when its detangled and wet, but never brush it out.

American women approach exercise out of fear and with great stress, leading most to give up because they’re already overweight and don’t see results fast enough to keep their motivation.  We typically are found going after workouts with too great an ambition – after a New Year’s declaration or seeing ourselves in reality in our social media pictures.  Instead of a steady, peaceful pursuit of health, it becomes a stressful chore to add to our to-do list – workout 3x per week… or else!  You can’t lose weight when stressed and under such pressure, but you can easily lose your motivation and perspective on life and its pleasures.

Americans tend to be at both ends of the extreme – either never exercising or exercising being their life center where they literally run around all day in work out clothes (guilty to some degree, at least with the workout attire).  The French only really wear their workout clothes when going to the gym or when actually working out.

Another thing I’ve realized is that Americans work out from the anxiety and pressure to be thin. The French exercise from the desire and pleasure to be thin… one is forced, the other is a natural, peaceful habit.

There are very few overweight women in France, I’m sure you’ve heard that cliche.  Its true for the most part.  When they start to feel their clothes getting tight, they up their daily exercise by simply taking the stairs, walking extra in their daily routine, and determinedly, eating less or avoiding dessert for awhile.

A word about dessert.

When the French eat something decadent, they try to avoid cheap imitations or processed and packaged sweets.  It just isn’t worth it to them, they value dessert more than that.  All those empty calories for something that doesn’t even taste that great compared to the real, homemade/handmade, exquisite little pastry or sweet, it just isn’t worth it.  As a result, because the dessert is heavier or more rich in taste, they naturally eat a lot less or they begin to feel sick (as it should be when one overeats).  Only one dessert a day is considered enough, and it is enough because it meets a very real need for the craving of deliciousness and pleasure, while at the same time, being satisfying enough that you don’t even think about eating more of it.  The French don’t deprive themselves by sticking to strange and restrictive diets that produce temporary results at best.  They don’t really do diets at all, but approach food as a pleasure to be enjoyed.

‘Je deprime donc je chocolate.’

“When I’m down, I chocolate.”

Refuse to buy packaged sweets if you can, we only do so extremely rarely, like if they are on an amazing deal and I get them for free.  Last week, I actually did obtain a box of Hostess Cupcakes, the first I’ve bought probably ever, but it was only because they were part of a “meal deal” where my buying ham & cheese gave me the cupcakes for free.  I already needed the deli meat and cheese, but the added free fattening desserts were a treat.  My son was delighted, but he understands we only do that for rare occasions… packaged sweets like that are usually never in my pantry.  Go figure in America they tempt you with buying the things you actually need (protein meats and cheese) and give you their packaged crap for free to try to get you addicted.  If you never usually buy them, they’re never a real temptation.

I’ve never read the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano, but I’ve heard great things about it, and the few things I have read fit right in line with everything I’m telling you in this post.  A quote from Mireille perfectly describes the difference in the American stressful mindset of food, versus the relaxed French perspective,

“French women think about good things to eat;

American women typically worry about bad things to eat.”

The French eat carbs… but don’t overeat or stress.  I couldn’t find any studies in particular, however, I would guess that the cortisol levels in American women vs French women is much higher, as is the newly medical term, The Hurried Woman Syndrome.  American women push themselves, constantly trying to be more competitive, to be perfectionists, to be the Super Mom… aggressive, successful, and in general, more masculine in nature.  Compared to the laid back approach of the parenting style and life of the French woman, the American woman is far more stressed and more than likely at risk to use pharmaceutical drugs in order to achieve peace of mind about her life.  This has even been noted as a reason why French women age better than American women, almost seeming to never appear old.  Yes, they take care of their skin immaculately and admirably, but it stems from a no-nonsense view of stress, as well as valuing their sleep each night (getting 8.5 hours compared to the American 6.5) so that cortisol levels don’t build up over extended periods of time.

They also have a natural awareness of calorie intake – if they eat something full of carbs they eat something light later, if they eat a dessert that was a lot of calories or particularly heavy, they modify their diet the next day to balance it out.

A few things to remember in starting the Fall off right:

  • Potion size difference… always remember that ours in America, is out of proportion.  Never finish all a restaurant gives you to eat, eat 1/4 to 1/2 and save the rest.
  • Eat an incredible breakfast.
  • Eating slower… actually enjoy the eating experience as a pleasure – taste and love the food you eat
  • Only eat really good food – avoid the empty carbs and sugars and processed crap of packaged foods as much as you can.
  • Cook for yourself!  Learn to LOVE to cook and bake your own treats… it will give you an appreciation of the process and art of food.
  • Eat a little dark chocolate everyday, never deprive yourself of chocolate.  As a woman, this is a sin.
  • Don’t be afraid to drink a little wine – I usually do in the Fall and Winter, and then for some reason (maybe the extreme heat here in Texas) I abstain pretty well in the Spring and Summer.
  •  Joie de Vivre!  Embrace the exuberant enjoyment of life!
  • Have healthy snacks always available, especially fruit, plain greek yogurt (add your own sugar) and cheese.
  • Stay away from diet foods, sugar free foods, sodas (at all costs).  We drink sodas rarely, adding ice into a soda is a great trick to water it down, making it actually healthier in albeit, a small way.

“Here is what I have seen to be good: it is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward.  God has also given riches and wealth to every man, and He has allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor.  This is a gift of God, for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Pico de Gallo and Low Calorie Taco Salad

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We had an exciting and long day trip yesterday… our summers are like that, full of long, hot and humid days, seeing beautiful sights around our area, taking in the sunlight and baking in the heat.  We were out all day, playing in the heat and water, and came back for dinner and watching Pirates of the Caribbean.  Another severe thunderstorm came in the dead of night, waking everyone up except our oldest, but because of yesterday’s hot adventure, we slept in and awoke to a beautiful, bright morning.

I was planning on making some pico de gallo to go with some refried beans I made from this recipe (modified to add Kosher salt while mashing beans and diced cilantro).  Pico de gallo is like the taste of a crisp fresh Summer, and makes me actually crave tequila Margaritas.

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Fresh cilantro, diced

It’s too easy to make, a bit of fresh cilantro (only fresh should ever be used for pico), 1/2 to 3/4 of a medium sized white onion, diced.

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And about 5 Roma tomatoes, or 2 salad tomatoes, diced.  3 Limes juiced over the diced mixture, or one lemon will do.

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This made a ton of cilantro!  It’s perfect with the homemade refried beans with a little cheese – you feel like you’re eating the famous 1,000 calorie taco salad.

The homemade refried beans are done without lard and much healthier.  This tasted incredible!  Healthy but full of intense flavor.  We ate it in lettuce leaf (just pull off the leaves from a head of lettuce, wash the leaves individually so that the lettuce head will keep longer in the fridge.  Dry off the leaves and fill with practically anything you want to eat!

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Enjoy a delish and cozy “Taco Salad!

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Cinco de Mayo!

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I loved being a part of a family where my mother had little traditions for the holidays.  Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, is a holiday that was always marked by my mother getting some authentic Mexican cookies or pastries, candies, or even chocolates,  It was never a big ordeal or a huge party, but was rather a little family tradition that simply brought joy and different kinds of food into our house for the occasion.

This year my husband brought home some Mexican wedding cookies last night, and we went out today to get some festive sugar cookies my older son is crazy about… plus a chocolate pie for tonight to go with some Mexican Espresso (Espresso coffee with a dash of cinnamon and vanilla).

Delish!

Inspiration

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I swear I can smell Fall in the air when I go out early in the morning on our patio.  I truly have a love for all the seasons – I appreciate the changes in each – but I think I love Fall a little bit better.  Summer has been wonderful, yes, even while pregnant and over-heating from just being outside for 5 minutes in the afternoon.  But thankfully, we live very close to a huge waterpark, and that’s been our playground all summer long.  The best feeling is walking barefoot in sand!

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Or for a kid, playing in it!

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The summer has been incredible also in that we got to see our son involved in sports – his first ever season playing soccer, and he’s already really good.  His last game he scored 3 goals, and played really well!  He’s athletic like his daddy and I were.

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He’s the one in the middle, they are all so adorable!

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He’s throwing the ball in, I’m behind him sitting down.

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It was wonderful going to his games every Saturday… love this little boy so much!

Ready for Fall!

I’m addicted to all the wonderful Fall foods to cook… just some from last year that I posted recipes to are the Mini Apple Turnovers, the Creamy Potato Soup with Sausage, and the decadent Traditional Chocolate Tart that has changed Christmas dessert for me forever now.  All recipes can be found here

There will be many more delicious recipes this coming season to look forward to!

Some links that are awesome:

Pregnant Mommy Rant (Things you really wish you could say to people when you’re pregnant… but you can’t)

An interview with the gorgeous Gigi Hadid on her beauty routine

Miranda Kerr’s 7 Rules for Adulthood (See if you’re stuck in immaturity or are really growing up)

Mouthwatering Chicken Tortilla Soup

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There’s nothing quite like really great homemade food – food that tastes so good, you feel like you’re eating from a wonderful restaurant.  This soup falls into that category – definitely a keeper in our family!  It was so amazing that we almost couldn’t stop getting refills!

I had made plans a couple of weeks ago to figure out how to make a really great tortilla soup, I bought the chicken broth, made sure we had copious amounts of frozen chicken ready to go in the freezer, and cheese for the topping… but being pregnant, the thought of de-thawing chicken and the work to put it altogether was too overwhelming.  But this soup was so much easier than I thought!  And it’s amazing how delicious it is with nearly anything you’ve got to throw in – let me give you the guidelines of what I did (loosely following the instructions from this great cook, The Pioneer Woman).

 

I decided to make this sporadically tonight, simply because I couldn’t stand not having it when I’ve been craving it for so long.  But because of my impatience, I made this without doing the proper prep before hand, but if you prep well or take some short cuts along the way, you will be able to make this extremely fast.

 

First, season some chicken breasts (I used three big ones, but you can use less or more depending on how much soup you want to make).  Season with garlic, cumin, chili powder (I’m out of chili powder so I used a spice called Six Peppers – really great), and Spanish Paprika.  Bake, boil, poach, or pan fry your chicken… I pan fried so that it would be a little faster, and it came out a little blackened which actually added to the flavor wonderfully.  If you want to do this even faster, used left over chicken breasts already cooked ahead, or Rotisserie chicken makes it incredibly easy!

While your chicken is cooking, use a big soup pot to sauté any veggies you want to include in your soup, onions, bell peppers, are great – I left them out so that my 4 year old, who’s recently joined Picky Eaters Anonymous (they should seriously have parental consent for those kinds of things), would still eat it.

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Before the chicken was really cooked all the way through I decided to cut it up into smaller pieces and add a cup or two of water that made it easier for them to continue to cook without burning anymore (I’m really great at burning things when I’m impatient & starving).  The water turned into a spicy seasoned broth to add into the soup.

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Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with a fork and transfer it to the pot to create the soup.  If you cooked the chicken with a little water, add that “sauce” in as well.

Pour in the chicken broth (or create it from about 32 oz or 2 lbs of boiling water with chicken bouillon cubes to taste/instruction).  If you want to make a really big pot, use 2 containers of 32 oz chicken broth.  This soup tastes so good, you might want to use 2 containers just to make sure you have literally tons.

Pour in 2 cans or a large amount of frozen corn, and 2 cans or a decent amount of pre-made black beans.

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Add in diced tomatoes if you have any (Rotel is great)- we didn’t, so I just used about two cups of tomato-based salsa (mild or medium – unless you love spicy soup).  I worried that it would taste so obvious that I used salsa, but it didn’t at all… and the tomato base really gives the soup a better texture once it cooks into it.  It turns it from “chicken noodle thin” to “chicken tortilla thick.”

I also added in a couple of spoonfuls of jarred cilantro.  Freshly chopped would be better, but you don’t need to include this step at all, just if you want to add a little more to the taste.

To make up for the lack of veggies, I added in some carrot puree I made to supplement for my Picky Eater… about 1 cup.  It’s amazing how many things you can add carrot puree into without it ever being noticed – and it packs Beta-Carotine, which converts to Vitamin A in your body, and much needed Potassium & fiber.  So if you’re like me (and my son) and don’t particularly like eating your carrots unless they’re drenched in Ranch, puree some in a blender with a little water to create a great addition.

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Cut up some tortilla strips and either add them directly into the soup for a nice soft filling, or bake/fry them to throw them on top (whichever is your preference).  I actually just threw them into the soup, and it was great having that added soft texture with the chicken.

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Bring the pot to a roaring boil and then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  About ten minutes in to the cook time, taste your soup to make sure it’s the correct amount of seasoning for you – add more garlic or cumin if needed, or add a cup or two of water if you want it a little thinner.

Top with cheese, avocado, tomatoes, tortilla chips, or sour cream.

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Ahhh-maz-ing Soup!  You must give it a try!

 

Delicious Eclairs Homemade!

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Best Homemade Pastry Ever!

Our family loves to eat… and cook, but I’ve honestly never been strong at baking anything, I don’t know why, but baking has always seemed more of a mystery to me.  When we were at the bookstore about a month ago, I saw this cookbook cover and was immediately taken in by the eclairs.  They are hands-down my favorite pastry, and I couldn’t resist looking at the recipe to see how exactly they are made from scratch.  Pretty easy… I thought.

 

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The recipe was done by a woman who had worked in a professional French bakery… she clearly knew her way around pastries.  I thought I’d let you readers in on our adventure through making éclairs… it took longer than I imagined it would, but it wasn’t really hard at all!  They make for an impressive dessert for a party, and you can always make them into Cream Puffs if you’d rather serve them that way (it is the same recipe).

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The Cook

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The Ingredient List (You can print it!)

So… you make the eclairs in the order that is on this page: the Pate a Choux (crisp breading), the Cream Filling (the St. Tropez cream was her own version of the perfect pastry cream… I absolutely LOVED it… much lighter than the traditional version), and then the Chocolate Ganache (which is much much tastier than just melted chocolate… it is only 2 ingredients, but you’d be surprised how hard it is not to eat before using on the pastries).

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To make the dough, you first have to cook it on the stove and then bake it – so it’s really cooked twice… which creates the hollowed out inside, and crispy texture of the pastry – perfect for easy filling.  Below is how it should progress: add flour & salt to the melted down butter, mix until it pulls away from pan and forms dough, and the 3rd step is mixing in the eggs one at a time until the dough is nice and shiny:

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Then you pipe the dough into a bag with the tip cut off (or pastry bag), and make the eclairs a little bigger than a hot-dog size onto a greased or foil-covered pan

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Bake at 425’F for 10 minutes then lower it to 350’F for another 25 to 30 minutes until the pastries are dry inside and not still wet (they should visibly turn light golden).  You then leave them in the oven (with it turned off of course) with the door propped open so that they can dry out longer

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You can use a knife to gently poke a hole into the tip, or like the chef in the cookbook did, slice through the éclair completely to make almost like a sandwich.  Since some of mine came out not as wide, it was easier to slice them through.

The St. Tropez cream really is unique, it is basically traditional vanilla pastry cream mixed with a whipped cream.  We had a lot left over – which was great!  We used it over our coffee for the next few mornings – it was quite a lot!  (Use the directions in the video attached if you want to know exactly how to make it – it is not hard, but it is easier to watch)

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You have to cook the Vanilla Cream first & also chill it in the freezer, Vanilla Extract works just as well as Vanilla Bean

 

 

After the vanilla cream is chilled for at least 30 minutes, you can literally just whip up heavy cream in a bowl to create a beautiful, light, fluffy whipped cream that you then add into the thicker and heavier vanilla cream – once mixed it is a divine combination!

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Chocolate ganache can be quickly made by microwaving your chocolate chunks or chips, then adding the heavy cream and mixing with a fork.  Dip the filled eclairs and allow to dry thoroughly on a cool table or counter.

Enjoy your heavenly homemade Eclairs!

Video used in making our pastries (perfect instructions… and she makes the St. Tropez cream):

Inspiration

Pantone_Fashion_Sketch_2014-Color-Trends

5 Beautiful Spring Trends 2014

1. Pastel Pink

pastel pink spring 2014

Glamour

black fashion

 

2. Metallic

New York Fashion Week Spring 2014

New York Fashion Week Spring 2014

New York Fashion Week Spring 2014

New York Fashion Week Spring 2014

Atelier-Versace Haute Couture Spring 2014 Show

Atelier-Versace Haute Couture Spring 2014 Show

 

3. Blues & Grays

eat sleep wear

Eat Sleep Wear

Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn

Spring collection

Spring 2014

4. Peach is so hot

Pinterest

Pinterest

Antonio-Berardi-SpringSummer-2014

Antonio-Berardi Spring & Summer 2014

 

5. 60’s & 70’s Fashion prints

etro-spring-2014-collection

Etro Spring 2014 Collection

Milan Fashion Week Spring 2014

Milan Fashion Week Spring 2014

New York Fashion Week Spring 2014

New York Fashion Week Spring 2014