28 Aug
2012
Posted in: Household
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Organizing My Baking Nook

When I got my KitchenAid Mixer the first thing I did was buy a beater blade for scraping down the sides. This meant I now had 3 extra attachments just hanging around when I wasn’t cooking something. I had a habit of losing them in drawers or the deep space of my baker’s nook.

As part of my kitchen makeover, I’d built a little baker’s nook to hold all my extra baking supplies. That might sound a little silly but I have a lot of supplies. The baker’s nook was actually built to accommodate our lower window and give me a surface to roll out cookie dough (or bread dough or pizza dough) on easily. The nook was made by substituting vanity cabinets for kitchen cabinets and then just using a separate piece of countertop.

One side holds all my baking sheets and cake pans while my drawers hold things like cake piping tubes and tips, food coloring, sprinkles, and just general odds and ends. I had one lower cabinet left to fill. I added in my cake and cupcake stands, my hand mixer, and my double set of springform pans. The whole thing felt a bit empty still.

Enter those pesky Kitchenaid mixer attachments. There was plenty of space in there for them but I didn’t want them to get lost in medium springform pan #2 (heaven forbid!) so I came up with a solution that seems so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner: 3M hooks. Look how easily I can find my hooks now.

And a closeup

For under $5 I’ve got an easy storage solution that my college self would be proud of.

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27 Aug
2012
Posted in: Life, Site Announcements
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Welcome Back

Wow, I did not intend to be gone that long. I even have a vacation coming up that I don’t plan on being that quiet for.

After posting 2 Mondays ago I was busy pushing for a work deadline when I started to feel kind of bad. I sort of chalked it up to the stress of the job and just kept pushing on. Eventually “kind of bad” turned into pain in the night which would last 30 minutes and then I’d be fine in the morning. That wasn’t cool but I figured I’d get to the weekend and I’d feel better. When the weekend came I started to feel worse and I passed on skipping a marketplace I’d been looking forward to all summer just to try to relax. I figured whatever this was had to be all in my head from the stress, right? The deadline at work was finally over and I could just calm down.

Monday I was a little worse so I called into work and ran to the pharmacy to grab some unrelated items and in the short time I did that I had a fever jump several degrees. That was a little scary. The rest of Monday, all of Tuesday, and early Wednesday were just a blur to me. I had such high fevers during that time and some other scary side effects that I really had no clue what was going on. I ended up going to the Urgent Care, having the Urgent Care get freaked out enough they wanted me in the ER and then I got some medications in the hospital before coming home. Major infection and 4 medications needed in the hospital + 3 more outside.

I expected when I was released that I’d start feeling better but I was just as sick and it took another few days for the meds to kick in. My fever finally broke after 6 straight days of 103+ temps and then I started finally being able to hold down food and water. I’m still on some meds but I should be fine (or at least good enough to move around more) in another week or so with some more rest and learning how to take it easy for a bit. I’m just glad I was able to catch things when I did and that I have so many people like my husband, parents, and in-laws who helped out when I needed the most.

nova freaked out
My dog Nova also believes she deserves some credit and since this was the look glued to her face last week, I’ll say she was a dandy little helper too

I do hope to do some casual postings between now and Labor Day but I have some resting up to do in the meantime so forgive me if I’m a little quieter than usual. Have a good week everybody and remember to take it easy!

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13 Aug
2012
Posted in: Household
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Go for Gold

Just because the Olympics are over doesn’t mean you have to stop going for the gold. Gold is back in style and I couldn’t be happier. I know some people will always be loyal to white gold/silver/platinum but I’ve always loved all things bright and shiny and the right shades of gold and brass can be so beautiful. I’m happy to see more designers giving gold a chance and I’m hunting for the perfect accents to bring some gold into my home.

 gold-color

(clockwise from top left- Blueprint Magazine (December 2007), Gold Leather Metallic Pouf, Art by Maurie Hartel, O’verlays, Anthropologie’s Prospero Journal, Royal Crown Derby Creamer)

I like to view gold as a neutral since I think it pairs so well with brighter colors like a bold blue, a soft aqua, or even a royal purple. Pink and gold have been a personal favorite since I saw a spread in Martha Stewart Weddings back in Winter 2007/2008 featuring a dusty pink and gold. That was also the same year of Blueprint Magazine’s beloved pink Christmas (also by Martha, RIP Blueprint). Since then I’ve really grown to love all shades of pink with gold.

gold bw

(clockwise from top left- Kate Spade NY Ticker Tape Plates, Crate & Barrel Hakkari Hurricanes, Cover of Gifted Magazine, Tulip Family lamp & shade, Crate & Barrel Give Thanks Plate, Brushed Brass Ice Bucket)

Gold seems to work even when paired with other neutrals. Gold and white can bring an amazing warm tone to a look and always makes me think of the fall and winter holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Gold and black is such a bold contrast that I find it looks sophisticated and bold. I’m noticing the trend of black interior doors and trims coming back and when paired with gold it can form a daring choice.

gold art

If you’re not a gold person but want to try out the shade as we head into fall, artwork is always a great way to test out some color. I love the mixing of gold and brass in this space. (via Ana Antunes Home Styling, LOVE artwork by Jen Ramos at MadeByGirl)

If you’re as into gold as I am, follow my gold-inspired Pinterest board to see my favorite gold pieces all year long.

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6 Aug
2012
Posted in: DIY Projects
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Birthday Banner

I have this giant chalkboard in my kitchen that has at times had anything from a dart board drawn on it to shopping lists and meal plans and even a cock fighting ring drawn on it. (Yes, that really happened)

For summer I envisioned an actual theme to the board. I wanted a big banner with all my summer goals below it so I could try to do all the cool hipster things like picnics in the park, a drive-in movie, and music festivals. I had no clue my summer would have so many days over 100 degrees and my summer goals would shift from fun outdoor things to hiding inside with the air conditioning. Before that reality hit, I did manage to make myself a cute banner for free.

paint chip banner

To make this banner I took 16 paint chips, 4 in each shade I had laying around. It’s a good thing I went through a pastel phase last year but I wish I’d been into blues and purples too. Still, my color selection was pretty nice and coordinated with my walls very well.

I cut the labels off each paint chip and then cut each paint chip into 3-4 usable pieces vertically before cutting each color into its own strip. Don’t try to be perfect here, having some variation makes the banner have more character. I separated each color into a pile (so green, pink, orange, and yellow) and pulled 5 or so at a time randomly from each color stack. I started with my pink stack choosing 5 of the different shades and overlapping them while sewing slowly over the top. Then I added on orange, then yellow, and then green before returning back with yellow, orange and red. Just go slow while sewing through paper and you’ve got it.

I left long ends at both the beginning and end of my banner rather than cutting them off so I could easily hang them from my chalkboard.

paint chip banner tutorial

The banner hung for a month because I just couldn’t think of anything worthy of the fun design. Luckily, my husband is much more creative than I am. My birthday was at the end of July and I woke up on my birthday morning to see him designing a masterpiece.

I don’t talk too much about my husband Daniel but he’s a very talented man. He wanted to be an art major in college before settling on computer science instead. He’s really the creative talent in our home. I’m more abstract in my ideas but he can put anything to paper and make it happen. He designed the chalkboard and the artwork on it. Back when we made this room while I decided I wanted a room “full of sunshine” and I chose tile and paint to make it bright but I think he delivered the sunshine for my rainbow with his masterpiece.

happy birthday chalkboard design

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2 Aug
2012
Posted in: Household
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Save on Stuff: Owls

I love getting a good deal. I don’t always coupon but I do like to think through many items I enjoy and find more affordable options. It’s why I love sites like Copy Cat Chic and Knock Off Decor. You might remember how I showed you how you can afford a Parsons desk at any price point, that’s another way I love to save.

This week I found an amazing deal that I just can’t pass on showing you. The Anthropologie Wide-Eyed Cookie Jar has been quite popular online with its big owl-shaped face. Unfortunately, the Anthropologie cookie jar costs $88. Ouch! Luckily I found a super close copycat over at Kirkland’s. While the Kirkland’s version is only a statue, it looks like a near-clone of the Anthropologie version. If you already have enough cookie jars but need more owls in your life, the Kirkland owl is a great Anthropologie copycat with a $76 savings.

owl cookie jars

I also really love this other cute owl statue at Kirkland’s. They’re an interesting sort of store. We have a small one in my area but I often forget to check it out. Are you a Kirkland’s fan or do you appreciate the name-brand of Anthropologie more?

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1 Aug
2012
Posted in: Household
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August Task List

July was hot and long. I really hope August is a better month, how about you? With the changing of months you know that it’s time for the Get Organized Now checklist. Remember at the beginning of July when I said I was in the middle of a heatwave and planned to wait for a cool-down to do some work? HAHAHA! July was 9.5 degrees warmer than all other Julys in STL. I fear my flower garden may never get done.

august 2012
Source: Stylin’ Stix Studio- available for download

Even though I’m “thisclose” to giving up on my flower bed, I will still keep working on conquering some chores (including posting some catchup posts I owe you guys!) Can we just say this month is all about staying cool, both physically and mentally? Both my husband and I have huge projects that will require 12+ hour days on the same day, we’ll be finishing our C25K programs this month, and I’ve never heard so many prayers at church for rain. Let’s just take this month one day at a time.

  • August 6: Take an early morning walk around the neighborhood. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Have some fresh-squeezed juice when you get back.
  • August 8: Make some homemade ice cream. I have some frozen recipes you’ll enjoy.
  • August 13: Make a battery hub in your house. Test all the batteries, inventory your needs and add any replacements to your shopping list. If you need some batteries for your smoke detector, add them to your list.
  • August 18: Time to dust the top of your fridge and underneath it, including the coils. You’ll help improve efficiency and get rid of dirt that’s often forgotten.
  • August 21: Themed dinner time! Make a giant batch of tacos in all sorts of meats and invite over lots of friends. Have each person bring over a topping and you’ll have an instant taco bar.
  • August 28: Organize all your pet supplies. Replace any broken leashes or collars and thoroughly clean all food and drink bowls.
  • August 31: You’ve survived the month! Go out shopping for a bunch of BBQ foods and enjoy the holiday weekend.
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31 Jul
2012
Posted in: DIY Projects, Food, Life
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Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

Today is Harry Potter’s birthday! Someone out there, please reassure me you already knew that and I’m not alone in my love of all things Harry Potter. When book 7 came out I was on vacation with my family for a wedding out in California. I made sure to get in line to get early access to the book and I managed to finish the final Harry Potter book before the wedding that night.

reading harry potter

When the final movie was released I had a multi-day viewing party with a themed food for each viewing. The first thing I did was make some cups to drink my Harry Potter themed drinks in. Even a house like Hufflepuff deserves a mug.

hufflepuff mug

The mug itself was fun to design. I found some images for each Harry Potter house and used some software to edit them so I could cut them out with my Cricut. I placed a Cricut vinyl sheet into my Cricut and cut out the design with that so I could adhere the stencil to a Target-brand mug. Then I filled the gaps in the stencil in with some Armour Etch. You just dab the Armour Etch on with a foam brush and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it and the stencil off. The glasses are dishwasher safe and make great party favors- I made a batch for a group of friends for another themed movie night.

homemade butterbeer

The glass was a perfect container for my homemade butterbeer. I haven’t made it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but this is a tasty drink to make at home. I followed a recipe from Chica and Jo and had great success.

homemade pumpkin juice recipe

Drink #2 was some homemade pumpkin juice, this time displayed in a Slytherin mug. The recipe comes from Party Through the Parks, though I substituted Agave Nectar for Pear Nectar. I’m more of a butterbeer girl but pumpkin juice has a nice flavor to it. Speaking of butterbeer…

butterbeer cupcake

The butterbeer cupcakes from AmyBITES are amazing. They were my second favorite creation of the week (second to only butterbeer) and were excellent when paired with its namesake.

Movie night #4 featured a Bouillabaisse in honor of one of the dishes served during the welcoming feast for guests from Beauxbatons Academy. Every Harry Potter party needs a main course but it also needs an appetizer. Movie night #5 featured a sorting hat bread with several dips. Diamonds for Dessert has a great tutorial for making a shaped sorting hat. My version required more flour thanks to the Missouri humidity and it came out a little cranky but still recognizable.

sorting hat bread

And what’s a party without a dessert? For my Harry Potter themed dessert I made some Oreo truffles. Instead of dipping them in milk chocolate or dark chocolate I dipped them in some yellow candy melts. I also attached some white chocolate wings I had piped and made some flying snitches. I will admit that I only ended up making one with wings and the rest of the wings went straight into my mouth. They just tasted too good!

golden snitch dessert

Now you know one of my biggest secrets: I have a weakness for themed parties and celebrations. I’ve been known to have Election night parties, a luau where my dog wore a Hawaiian skirt, and even sparkly vampire parties. Parties are a great way for me to get together with friends and family and have fun with corny foods and props.

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25 Jul
2012
Posted in: Food
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Mini Cherry Pies

Is anyone as obsessed with the Olympics as I am? Back in 1996 I watched the Atlanta games obsessively. I still have a tote bag my mom bought me with the logo on it. I wrote a report on the US Women’s Olympic gymnastics team, nicknamedThe Magnificent Seven. I wrote to all the women on the team and just this week I broke out the 5 responses I received (I’m still waiting on you Shannon Miller and Dominique Moceanu). My husband wasn’t sure whether to be amazed at the stuff I hold onto or disturbed about my fandom until I broke out my books published back then. I didn’t even show him the poster I had!

Magnificent 7 gymnastics

In an effort to show off my super nerdy side, I made a dessert perfect for your Opening Ceremony party. What’s that you say, you aren’t having an Opening Ceremony party? IT IS NOT TOO LATE! You are so lucky I’m here. Do it for America, do it for me, do it for your love of all things miniature, or do it because cherries are on sale this week. You need these mini cherry pies and any reason will do.

cherry pie filling

These mini cherry pies use a store-bought pie crust for convenience but you can easily use your own favorite recipe. You might just need to adjust your filling levels to fit. The filling I use here comes from Recipe Girl and it’s a great tart base. You could go with a premade cherry pie filling but you’ll have a sweeter final result and fresh cherries are so worth it.

mini cherry pies

I used a small star cookie cutter to cut out some star designs and I rolled some dough out and cut it with a pizza cutter to form stripes. Have fun with these designs and sprinkle them with plenty of sugar before baking.

mini cherry pies

Mini Cherry Pies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 mini pies

Serving Size: 1 pie

Ingredients

  • 1 package of ready-made pie crusts (or make homemade)
  • 2 1/2 cups pitted & halved fresh sweet cherries (about 3/4 pound)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or cream
  • coarse grain sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 of your cups in a muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. Roll out the pie crust into a thinner layer. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out 5 inch rings. You'll want to cut out 8 rings. Set your extra crust aside.
  3. Line your 8 prepared muffin cups with the dough starting from the center and pulling up the sides.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together cherries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt. Spoon mixture into your pie crusts.
  5. Use your leftover pie crust to cut out designs. Stars and stripes are perfect!
  6. Combine your egg yolk and milk/cream to form an egg wash. Brush the wash lightly over your pies and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes (watching carefully) until crusts are browned and the filling starts bubbling.
  8. Cool at least 15 minutes before eating. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/07/mini-cherry-pies/

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21 Jul
2012
Posted in: Life
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Staying Active

I’ve been absent from this site a little too much for my own liking lately. It started with work getting crazy again and all the exhaustion that comes with that. On top of work, I’ve also been pushing my body harder than I’m used to and it has been wearing me down. On the plus side, it’s also been building me up. Confused? I’m talking about the Couch to 5K Program. Also known as C25K, it’s a program to ease couch potatoes into runners. I was an active kid, even making the alternative team for state swimming back in the day, but I’ve never run even a mile straight through. I could do kick-boxing, bike, even yoga but running killed me and for some reason I always hated being beat by something that seemed as simple as running.

A lot of my friends and family have seen me talking about the program and are a little confused on the details so I wanted to share how exactly the program works, some helpful tips, and how it’s been affecting me and the family. I’m obviously not a running pro but I’m loving this program, minus the fact that I started it in Missouri’s worst heat wave.

c25k program

The program lasts 9 weeks and you gradually build yourself up, running longer distances and times. You run 3 times a week on alternating days and you start each day with a 5-minute warm-up walk and end each day with a 5-minute cool-down walk. Weeks 1-4 you repeat the same thing all 3 days you run so it’s fairly straightforward. Week 5 is where you start to increase your running time quickly and you run for 20 minutes straight for the first time. I just completed Week 6 Day 2 (W6D2) so I won’t be doing any more walking other than warming up or cooling down. Here’s a chart that shows visually when you run/walk.

My husband is doing the program with me and so is my dog. My husband is just a touch behind me since I started a bit ahead of him but he just ran right through Week 4 so he’s right on my toes. Week 4 is one of the hardest weeks of the program in my opinion. Week 1 is hard because you’re just getting started but week 4 is when you increase your runs from a total of 9 minutes to a total of 16 minutes. It’s a huge jump so be prepared to be exhausted that week. The best part about having my husband as a running partner is that he holds me accountable. He wants to run so I run with him and we each keep encouraging the other. Even my dog keeps me accountable. If I don’t take her running on her running days then she gets crabby and no one wants to see her crabby side.

Nova running the C25K

Running with my dog is also a challenge. I wouldn’t suggest running the C25K with a small dog because they might not be able to keep up. My dog has had advanced leash training which makes running with her so much easier. Some commands I’ve found helpful are “heel” so she’ll stay close to me when cars or people are near, “leave it” when a person with an animal is near, and “turn” for when we’re at a split in the road and I use the leash to guide her. My dog Nova loves the runs though and she cruises right along with me each week. I also used snapping or an “easy” command to help her increase or decrease her speeds as we shift between running and walking.

Helpful C25K Tips

Have all the tools you need. Buy proper running shoes from the start so you don’t get injured. I also find having good workout clothes (including socks and underwear) to be a must as well as having a hat and sunglasses.

This isn’t a race. When you finish the program you might be ready for a race but until then keep your pace slower than what you might think. If you are a couch potato running too fast might lead to injury. You should be going slow enough to be able to talk while running. I test this by giving commands or praising my dog mid-run.

Be realistic with your goals. I hope to sign up for a 5K when I finish this program but I know I might not actually end up running a full 5K by the end of Week 9. I’ve included extra time before race season starts to allow for rest days, building up my running distance, and even time in case of injuries. I do have some knee problems that led me to repeat a day once but I still have plenty of time to reach my goals. Now that I’m about 2/3 of the way through the program, I have 2 races in mind to test my skills on a course depending on how ready I feel.

Find a program that works for you. Maybe you need to go inside on a treadmill to run in this heat or maybe you need to do some Week 0 exercises to build up the strength for a full program. My friend Janelle is doing a 12-week C25K program that is working great for her and her husband.

c25k nike plus map

Track your runs. This one is big. I use the Nike+ running app but other people use apps on their phones like Runkeeper. I like logging my distance, my speed, and how much stronger I’ve become.

To help follow the intervals I use podcasts with my runs. They tell me when to start walking, start running, and have music to help me keep my pace during the runs. My current favorite podcasts can be found over at C25kplaylists.com. I like the robotic voice prompts, the cues for being halfway and near the end they often let me know I have just a few minutes left. Each week has between 4 and 8 different music options. Other great choices include Chubby Jones (a very encouraging voice pushes you while you run to music), Podrunner Intervals (DJ Beatsmith uses beats per minute in songs to keep you at a steady pace), and Robert Ullrey (a man running this program with you to the beat of techno songs).

Have you tried the Couch to 5K program? I’d love to hear your tips or any questions you might have about my experience so far.

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16 Jul
2012
Posted in: Food
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Blueberry Pie Ice Cream

blueberry pie ice cream

Did you know yesterday was National Ice Cream Day? I didn’t until I already had made my latest batch of homemade ice cream. I think it was fate that brought us together. That or David Lebovitz– whose ice cream recipe I’ve adapted for today’s ice cream. This is my final recipe left from my blueberry picking day. Sadly the patch has all been picked so now I’ll have to go to the grocery store if I want any more berry recipes.

graham cracker ice cream

I wanted one last recipe that tasted like blueberries and cream so I decided to go the ice cream route. I had some graham crackers leftover from my other desserts so I incorporated them into the sweet cream base of this ice cream. I heated up my berries with some sugar and boiled out some of the excess water (taking a cue from Jeni and her splendid recipes) and incorporated that into the final product.

blueberry pie ice cream

The result? a creamy graham cracker ice cream base with tart blueberries swirled in. Blueberry pie ice cream is an improvement on the usual blueberries and cream.

Blueberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

    For the Blueberry Swirl:
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • For the Ice Cream:
  • 3 graham crackers
  • 2 cups cream, divided
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

    For the Blueberry Swirl:
  1. In a small saucepan heat blueberries and sugar over medium high heat. As you stir, press the blueberries against the side of the pan to help release the juices.
  2. After 8 minutes, pour into a small bowl and place in the fridge to chill for an hour.
  3. For the Ice Cream:
  4. Grind the graham crackers into crumbs using a food processor or with a Ziplock bag and a rolling pin. Completely crush them and set aside.
  5. In a medium sized pot, heat 1 cup of cream with sugar and salt. Over medium heat, stir the mix together until the sugar has fully dissolved.
  6. Remove pot from heat and stir in the remaining cream, milk, and vanilla. Add the graham cracker crumbs and stir till just combined. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  7. After the ice cream base is fully chilled, pour it into your ice cream mixer and let it run for about 30 minutes (or the time indicated by your device).
  8. During the last 5 minutes of your ice cream maker's run, pull the blueberry mix out of your fridge. Lightly cover the base of a metal loaf pan with blueberry mix. When the ice cream finishes mixing, pour 1/3 of the ice cream into your pan. Top with 1/2 of the blueberry mix, then layer another 1/3 of the ice cream.
  9. Finish by layering the remaining blueberry mix and then the last 1/3 of ice cream into the pan. Run a knife through to gently swirl the mix together and refrigerate overnight before serving.
http://www.thehyperhouse.com/2012/07/blueberry-pie-ice-cream/

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