tips

Feature Friday: Baker Vickie Liu

SugarhouseHappy Feature Friday!

We absolutely love today’s feature with the amazing baker, Vickie Liu. We can’t get enough of her creative, adorable, and often funny cookies amongst other treats! She gives cookies such personality and her Instagram filled with cookie characters and shapes is sure to keep you looking and “wowing” for hours! We talked to her to find out more about how she found her baking talent as well as how she creates epic baked goods and a picture perfect Instagram feed.

Castle Logo: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in baking.
vickie: Baking has been an interest of mine since high school, but back then I just made (un-appetizing looking) cupcakes for friends or family when I had the chance! After graduating university from courses I wasn’t passionate about and no full time job –  I decided not to do my Masters in Architecture, and instead rekindled my love for baking and have been addicted ever since.
I’m currently working a part time job unrelated to my field of study, and baking part time. This includes taking custom orders, working with small businesses and brands, collaborating with other creatives, guest blogging and a little bit of styling.

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Feature Friday: Caterham Design

22_September_Kate_Website_Profile_Photo_1Happy Feature Friday!

Today we’re bringing to you Catherine Dawes of Caterham Design! We fell in love with her hand-lettering instantly and think it’s so cool that something as simple as a phrase can be written to look fun, stylish, or even sophisticated. Catherine really does a great job in making sure her typography communicates something. We love how her pieces all have their own feeling or vibe attached to them! She has a lot of great advice to share and we can’t wait for you to keep reading to learn more about her creative journey thus far.

Castle Logo: Tell us a little about who you are.

CD logo:  Hi! I’m Catherine, a graphic artist from South Africa specializing in hand-lettering and calligraphy. I run my design studio, Caterham Design, from a dusty farm on the edge of the Kalahari; where I drink lots of coffee, eat my fair share of buttery pastries, and create hand-crafted designs for creative, artisan companies and individuals.

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Feature Friday: Sculptor Jesse Nusbaum

Happy Feature Friday!

BEARFor today’s feature we have sculptor Jesse Nusbaum of Jesse Nusbaum Art! When we first saw his sculptures we were amazed by the complexity, size, and realism of them. Well, actually… we’re still amazed! And how could we not be?! His huge sculptures are so impressive and unlike anything we’ve seen. Jesse is definitely a testament to doing what you love. He was set to be on a completely different career path, but his love of art outweighed everything else and he decided to pursue it. This feature will be sure to inspire you to follow your own passions just like Jesse!

Castle Logo: Tell us a little about yourself.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 22.09.34: I am 25 years old and have lived in Weston, Connecticut my entire life.  I have always had a passion for art from the time I could write and draw.  My other great passion was sports.  I tried all of them on for size.  I got my black belt when I was 7 years old and played on local teams and travel teams in soccer, basketball, baseball, and wrestling.  I was captain of my wrestling team and baseball team in high school and was selected First Team All-State in baseball in my senior year.  I led the conference in home runs, RBIs and stolen bases.  On the art side, I won the Best Sculptor Award during my junior year and senior year in high school.  My father is an attorney in Westport, Connecticut, and the “plan” was that I would be a political science major, which I was at Muhlenberg College initially, and then I would attend law school, which I did for a total of three weeks at the Charleston School of Law, at which time I immediately realized my passion for art far exceeded any desire to become a lawyer.

After leaving law school in September 2014, I immediately commenced my career as an artist full-time.  Two of my husky sculptures are being gifted to Coach Kevin Ollie of the University of Connecticut in recognition of his 2014 National Championship and the second one is being gifted to Coach Geno Auriemma, the Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Connecticut, who just won their third straight National Championship and Tenth Overall Division 1 Championship, tying a career NCAA record. Upon request, they will be displayed in both of their offices.

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Fashion Blogger: Christina Daniels

BY CAILIN AND TARA BURKE

Happy Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 17.05.05!

dsc_0928Today we’re featuring Christina Daniels, a fashion blogger who alters thrift shop finds and makes them her own. She has a strong background in fashion and is currrently studying fashion design and merchandising at Albright College. Ultimately, Christina would like to end up in Visual Merchandising or Styling, but has also had some great experience in Store Operations. She also runs her own website, called resourcefulrefinement.com which shows her personal thrift shop purchases while giving readers DIY tips to make these finds more fashionable. We’re amazed at how she can take something that is seemingly out of date or too large a size and then convert it to something you could see in a real high-end boutique. Christina was nice enough to do a DIY guide exclusively for Castle Foundations! Check it out below and let it inspire you to be creative in your own fashion choices!

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Okay, so before we get started, there is something I must preface with. I apologize in advance for my nails and gross fingers. They were ruined and chipped after a botched batch of dye. But hey, we all have those days, don’t we? Now that I got that off my chest, let’s get started!

Okay, so I prepared something special for all of you and I think you are going to love it! I found some inspiration for this DIY project from the Wes Gordon Spring 2104 line (link for photo here http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/S2014RTW-WGORDON/#6). It is something very simple and elegant, but also easy enough that you can make alterations to suit your own style.

So to start out, pick up a suitable blue skirt ($3.99) and lace ($2.99) from Goodwill. Most likely the lace will be cream or white, but don’t worry if you want to make it black. You can pick up Rit Dye at your local craft store, or if that doesn’t work (I know mine didn’t because of the fabric), you can also paint it black. You may need to check your linens section as mine ended up being an old curtain! I am very picky about my lace and wanted that similar style in Wes Gordon’s piece with the intricacies at the bottom of the lace, getting simpler towards the top of the lace.

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I had to take my skirt in a bit to make it fit how I wanted. I flipped the skirt inside out and pinned to where I wanted the sides to be.

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If you have elastic on the skirt, which you most likely will have, this is the tricky part. On the extra elastic band that you want taken off of your skirt, in order to take it in, cut open the fabric. Open it up so you have access to the elastic, but leave a good few centimeters on both sides by where you will need to take the skirt in. You will need the extra fabric to hand sew the waistband shut after adjusting the elastic size.

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You may have to also cut the elastic out as well if it is sewed to the skirt. And cut it a few centimeters past where you opened up the fabric to give you some more room to sew.

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Cut the elastic in the middle of this extra section.

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Overlap the cut elastic (making sure it will lay flat when against the body) until the ends reach the point where you are taking the skirt in, and sew.

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Next, take the skirt in before hand sewing it closed.

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Once this is done, put your skirt on and decide where you want your lace slit to end. Take the skirt off and cut. It is a little terrifying but I assure you, you cannot mess it up! Now you are going to laugh at this next part, but position your lace where you want it and hot glue it to the skirt. Yes, I said hot glue. It makes it more manageable to work with and allows you to really align both sides since symmetry is key. I wanted a rougher look, so I glued my lace on top of the skirt and then cut off the excess after.

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You can then reinforce the glue by hand sewing over it. I wouldn’t recommend using your machine over the glue as it might get stuck or break.

And Voila!

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Looks amazing, huh?! Can you believe it only cost $7 to buy the skirt and lace? If you find yourself staring at your closet wishing you had a new piece, try this or any of the great DIY pieces Christina has on her website. You will save a buck and feel really accomplished after making your own fashion masterpiece!

Health Enthusiast and Baker: Julie Mason

BY CAILIN BURKE

Happy Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 17.05.05 !

IMG_0753Today we’re featuring Julie Mason, a health enthusiast that spends her time baking, cooking, and blogging about it! Except one thing differentiates her from other chefs out there; she aims to make everything healthy! Her goal in baking or cooking something is to use at least one healthy ingredient. That way, Julie’s culinary creations are both delicious and have an ingredient that gives you a dose of healthy nutrients or vitamins. She has a lot of recipes that she has tested herself and one day hopes to use these recipes to start her own healthy bakery. We can’t wait to see what Julie does in the future, but for now, Tara and I love checking out her blog and Instagram to see the amazing looking foods and baked goods she’s making next. She’s definitely inspired us to use healthy ingredients, try new things in the kitchen, and to stop baking from a box. Julie took the time to answer a few questions for us and even shared some tips for healthy eating. Read her interview below and make sure to check out the great pictures of some of her favorite creations!

1) What got you started?

My love for baking and cooking could have came from watching my mom bake 6 dozen oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in one day, or it also could have started after watching my older sister experiment (and make a mess) in the kitchen when I was growing up. I was lucky enough to grow up with people in my life who have a passion for cooking, and this definitely rubbed off on me. My family is also very health conscious, due to poor family health history, and this inspired me to study nutrition at Framingham State University.

2) Tell us a little bit about who you are?

Currently I am a senior at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. I am studying Nutrition and Dietetics, with a minor in business. I love food, big surprise there! But I also enjoy running, animals, my family and friends, nature, and enjoying life! Once I receive my undergraduate degree, I plan on applying to graduate school and getting my masters in nutrition. I am considering the idea of applying to British Columbia University in Canada. (side note: I was born in Ontario, Canada). Eventually, I want to receive my RD, which stands for Registered Dietitian. Once I receive this certification I will be well on my way to achieving my dreams!

3What are your inspirations?

When cooking I am inspired by European and Mediterranean ingredients. I love using olive oil, lemon, nuts, and fresh vegetables/fruits in my dishes. I am a college student so I buy my ingredients on a budget. To save money I buy many plain frozen vegetables, and I also shop around to find the best deals for fresh produce. It also helps to buy produce that is in season because it is the freshest and cheapest!

4) What are your favorite ingredients or types of food to make?

My favorite foods to make are baked goods. I have a special place in my heart for baking muffins. I love to take a recipe that someone else has created, and tweak it to make it healthier! I started doing this after watching my mum create healthy baked goods for my family, and my interest grew further when I got to school and we did this same thing in the food lab. An example of a healthy alternative for a recipe is swapping out some of the fat for natural applesauce. So if the recipe called for 1 cup of oil, I would change this to 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup apple sauce!

5) Where are you most inspired to bake and cook?

I am most inspired in my own kitchen. I love it when I have the apartment to myself and I can turn on Pandora radio and try out a new recipe. As weird as it sounds my favorite time of day to bake is in the early morning…which could be as early as 3 am! (I’m sure that doesn’t thrill my roommate). I love when the house is silent and tranquil, and I can get into the baking zone! There really is nothing like the smell of warm honey-nut granola toasting in the oven in the early morning!

6) What are your future goals and biggest dreams?

When I consider what my biggest dreams would be, owning my own healthy bakery/café comes to mind. I have a huge love for coffee (I drink too many cups to admit). I would love to share my recipes with customers and give nutritious baking advice.

7) What have you learned in your creative process?

The most useful thing I have learned in the kitchen is becoming a good cook/baker is all about trial and error. I have experimented many times, took a bite, and thought what was I thinking!? Adding too much salt comes to mind… Then I learned from my past experiences and moved on. I think people take cooking and baking too seriously, and they should just have fun with it! It’s all about putting your creative hat on and getting out of your comfort zone. There is nothing more gratifying then creating something you initially thought would be too difficult to make, and it turns out delicious!

8) Any tips?

Baking tips and tricks!

  • When a recipe calls for oil, you can substitute half of the oil for natural applesauce! You can also use mashed banana or avocado in place of some oil.
  • Run out of one egg while baking? You can replace one egg with either: 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup pureed banana, 1/3 cup applesauce.

* Keep in mind, these substitutions work best when you are baking items that start as a batter rather than a dough. Baked goods that start as a batter would include muffins or brownies. When making cookies I would stick to traditional butter.

Want to keep up with Julie’s tips and see her delicious (and healthy!) daily meals? Then make sure to check out and follow her blog, Juju’s Secret Ingredient:

http://jujusecretingredient.wordpress.com/

Of course we couldn’t leave out pictures of some of her baked goods. Try your best not to let your mouth water or get completely hungry. Or do, and bake one of Julie’s delicious recipes after reading this!

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At Home Spring Break Tips

BY TARA BURKE

You don’t have to go away on some luxurious or party crazy vacation to feel like you’re on spring break. In fact staycations are all the rage due to the slow economy. For whatever reason, if you’re stuck at home during this spring break don’t let it get you down. Take the opportunity to unwind, pamper yourself and enjoy some time off.

Tip #1- Have a spa day! They’re so many amazing convenience store spa items these days and they’re really inexpensive. You can go for the typical green tea mask or try something a little more adventurous like an acai clay mask. One time my sister and I tried a chocolate mask. It was such a treat (pun intended)! It smelled like real chocolate and it was super creamy like a mud mask. We usually go for the $2 Freeman brand masks.

Then grab a magazine or good book, make a cup of tea or a fruity drink, and draw a bath. Throw in some bubble bath, a bath bomb, some scented beads and bath oil. If that doesn’t get you relaxed I don’t know what will.

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After you get out of the tub, give yourself a pedicure and manicure. Just like the masks, they’re some great value products for smoothing and moisturizing your feet and hands. I like to use a rice scrub for my feet. I got mine pre-made from a store, but you can easily make your own. Here is an easy recipe to make your own foot scrub. For my hands I usually use an Avon product that my mom gets from an associate from work, but as far as hand creams go I don’t really have a loyal go-to brand. I’m a total brand switcher when it comes to moisturizer. Hey, you probably saved a lot of money staying home so you could just head over to your local nail place and have someone else pamper you!

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Tip #2- Find a body of water. This may be impossible for some people, but chances are you have some type of water near you that you can take a day trip to. If you live near the ocean, lucky you! For me, a river will have to do, but there’s something about running by water that is just so much better than running around your neighborhood. If you’re up for the challenge, get up early and catch the sunrise while you’re on your run. It may be an inadequate alternative to running along the beach, but nature doesn’t usually disappoint. A sunrise is beautiful wherever you are. If you’re back at your parent’s house, either get your family or high school friends together for brunch. It’s a perfect way to kick-start your day.

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Tip #3- Do something new! Chances are they’re some pretty cool things in your local area that you’ve never checked out. Go to an open-mic at a cafe, visit an art gallery, try a new trendy restaurant or take a road trip to another town, city or state and explore. What I find so fun about vacations is that there’s never a dull moment. You’re always off jet-setting to new places to do new things. Take the first few days of spring break at home to sleep-in and catch up on all your TV shows, but after that get out there and discover something new. You’ll probably come back home with some vacation-worthy memories.

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