Author Archives: Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper

About Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and consultant who lives in Nashville, Tenn. A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Samford University, she spent several years editing a music magazine in Nashville before venturing out on her own. Brittany loves all things magazine, especially Real Simple and Whole Living, and now finds that she spends too much of her spare time looking for great recipes on Pinterest.

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial

DIY For the Average Jane: Adorable “Flower Child” Halloween Costume

Flower Child Halloween Costume Baby 2It’s almost Halloween, and that means everyone’s scrambling around for the best Halloween costumes. This week, I tackle an adorable baby costume that I like to call the “flower child.”

What were you for your first Halloween? Maybe you were a bumblebee or a bunny or just the younger sibling in a onesie being toted around while your older siblings got all the loot. Whatever the case, here is one idea for a fun Halloween costume for a baby girl.

It’s super simple, as no sewing is required. All you need is a glue gun, some felt and a little creativity. I made mine a pink flower, but you can be as creative as you want with this one. Here’s how I made my “flower child” Halloween costume:

Flower Child Costume 1

Supplies:

-Long-sleeved green onesie (I snagged this one at Goodwill.)

-1 sheet of green felt for the stem and leaf

-2 sheets of any color felt for the flower petals on the onesie and headband

-A glue gun and glue stick

-A headband that fits your baby’s head (I used a softer one rather than a plastic one that might hurt baby’s head.)

-Pipe cleaners (these are optional for additional embellishment, though I ended up choosing not to use any in the end. You could use them to line the felt flower or add dimension to the headband if you want.)

-Scissors

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial

Step 1: Cut out all petals for onesie and headband.

For this, you’re going to want three sizes of petals. You’ll want 6 or 7 large (I ended up using 7), 5 medium (if you want to put petals on the shoulders–I chose not to and only used 3 medium petals) and then four miniature half petals for the neckline. There’s really no need to measure these. Cut one and then use it as an outline to cut the other petals of the same size. There is no exact science here, so eyeball it.

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial Felt Pieces

Step 2: Cut out three pieces from the green felt. In order to cut the right size pieces for this, just hold your felt over the onesie and measure how far you want your stem to go. The smaller, fatter piece is for covering the headband and the leaf is an embellishment for the flower stem. I cut my stem with a forked top to go around the flower petal, but you can also opt to glue your stem on first and then glue your flower petal on top of it, and I would recommend that.

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial Leaf

Step 3: Cut your leaf to make it look more realistic. I decided to cut some notches into my leaf to give it a little depth and dimension.

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial

Step 4: Glue on your first 3 medium petals. (You could choose to glue down the stem before this step).

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial Bodice

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial Bodice 2

Step 5: Layer on the four half petals and glue on your stem and leaf.

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial Headband 1

Step 5: Glue smaller felt strip onto headband to create a soft base.

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial Headband 2

Step 6: Tuck the felt beneath the headband and secure in place with glue gun.

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial Headband 3

Step 7: Take your 6 or 7 large petals and wrap them around the headband, securing them in place with the glue gun. 

Flower Child Halloween Costume Tutorial 2

Now you have an adorable little costume that makes baby girl look like a sweet flower (and even a little like the Statue of Liberty …). The guarantee is that she will look adorable, but what’s not guaranteed is that she will enjoy being dressed up as a lovely little flower child.

Why You Can't Beat a Midwest Autumn

Why You Can’t Beat an Indiana Autumn

Why You Can't Beat a Midwest Autumn

A snapshot of my childhood backyard in Indiana.

Blogger Brittany Cooper reminisces about the autumns of her childhood, growing up in Indiana, where bonfires, apple picking and spectacular natural colors paint the season.

Looking back now, I realize that even the most lovely pieces of one’s childhood fade into the background of normal at the time. I’ve never lived by the ocean, but I assume that if you do, you don’t know that other children don’t go swimming on a daily basis–that is, until you move away and notice the absence of salt in the air.

Growing up in the heart of Indiana, I often rued the reality that I couldn’t get to the ocean without a long car trip and that the nearest piece of topography that could be even mildly considered “mountainous” was not located anywhere in the state. But all through my lamentations on the limited landscape, I missed the subtle beauty that crept into our Midwestern state each year around the beginning of October.

Indiana comes alive in the fall. I love the weather in the South–the mild winters of Tennessee and the early spring in Alabama–but in my opinion, no other state can hold a candle to Indiana during autumn. As the trees take on their vibrant reds, yellows and oranges and the cornfields are bare after the harvest, Indiana becomes the iconic picture of autumn.

It’s the vintage barns keeping watch over the empty fields, the bonfires swirling smoke into the air, which you can see from a mile away because the land is so flat. I remember visiting apple orchards and filling baskets with fresh Indiana apples and then making applesauce with my mom to freeze and enjoy over the winter. Some of those apples would be set aside to be coated in caramel and eaten from a stick.

Of course I know it now–that not every kid grows up with a barn or has weekly bonfires with s’mores and cider or gets to drive past field after field encompassed by trees of seemingly every color. No, I know now–now that I’ve moved away and have to drive back to visit–that these were the little beauties of my childhood. And for them I’m thankful.

How to Make Whole Living Pumpkin Muffins

DIY For the Average Jane: Whole Living Pumpkin Muffins

Whole Living Pumpkin MuffinOh the many wondrous things you can do with a little pumpkin pie filling and pumpkin spice. This week, we take on pumpkin muffins from Whole Living magazine.

I seem to have pumpkin on the brain right now, as this is my second tutorial of late that has in some way or another involved the giant orange squash. First it was the pumpkin spice latte and this week I’m taking on Whole Living magazine’s pumpkin muffins.

When I saw the photo for these delectable little fall treats I knew I had to make them. A perfect snack or breakfast, these surprisingly light muffins get their richness from plain yogurt and pumpkin puree instead of cream or butter. In fact, there’s not a bit of butter or salt in these little guys, but they’re absolutely delicious! Here’s how you can make them at home:

Whole Living Pumpkin Muffin Tutorial

 Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 c. plain low-fat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c. turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Steps (Correlating with Photos):

Photo 1: Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin tins with oil. (The recipe calls for jumbo pans, but I just used two regular-sized pans for 24 muffins). Set aside.

Photos 2-4: Whisk together flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda. Set aside.

Photos 5-7 In another bowl, whisk oil, pumpkin puree, yogurt, eggs and 1 c. sugar together. Add walnuts.

Photo 8: Add all dry ingredients and mix until moist but not overmixed.

Photo 9-10: Fill muffin tins with batter and sprinkle tops with remaining walnuts and sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean (about 30 minutes).

Photos 11-12: Let muffins cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

The 10 Magazines for a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

The 10 Best Magazines for a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

The 10 Magazines for a Lazy Sunday AfternoonPut down the phone, flip off the TV, shut the laptop and give yourself some time this afternoon to enjoy your favorite magazines.

There’s no definite end to the emails that need answering and the household chores that need finishing, not to mention the texts, calls and voicemails that fill an average week. But rather than running yourself ragged to prepare for next week, give yourself an hour or two this afternoon to curl up with your favorite magazines and just enjoy the day.

If the thought is incredible but you’re not sure where to begin, we give you the 10 best magazines to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But remember–your enjoyment of these magazines depends on how well you can tune out all those other distractions for a bit. Happy reading!

1. Whole Living - Delicious recipes, skincare ideas, exercises–Whole Living has everything you need to think about pampering yourself for a bit. After a long week, you deserve a little time to focus on yourself, and this is a great place to start.

Whole Living Magazine

2. InStyle - You know this is the magazine you always buy when you’ve got to sit on a plane for a while or travel in the car. It’s packed with great style secrets, details of celeb lives and beautiful accessories to boot.

InStyle Magazine

 3. Fast Company - Though you’re not at work, it’s always nice to entertain that entrepreneurial side of your brain. Read about some of the top companies in the nation, how they got where they are and how they’re forging into the future.

Fast Company Magazine

4. Prevention - Great advice on health and preventative health, from anti-aging tips to the best ways to lose weight. Cozy up to this magazine for some inspiration to make healthy decisions in the coming week.

Prevention Magazine

5. Modern Dog - Perhaps your furry little friend is sitting beside you as you relax; perhaps not. In either case, you can enjoy this glossy that covers everything pertaining to your pet. From great deals on pet products to the best ways to bond with your dog, this one has you covered.

Modern Dog Magazine

6. Wallpaper* - Fill your artistic needs with this high-end magazine that features the best in art, design and culture across the globe.

Wallpaper Magazine

7. Mac Life - Put your feet up and read about what’s new in the Mac world. If you’ve ever referred to yourself as a gadget geek (or secretly relate to the term), this one’s for you!

Mac Life Magazine

8. Martha Stewart Weddings - Even if you’ve already walked down the aisle or you don’t plan to in the near future, it’s always fun to just flip through the pages of a wedding magazine and look at beautiful dresses, diamonds and fun wedding decor.

Martha Stewart Weddings

9. Every Day with Rachael Ray - You’re busy, and Rachael understands that. This magazine is a great go-to for busy cooks who want to strike balance in all areas of home life. Find great recipes, tips and menu planners to help you simplify your busy life.

Every Day with Rachael Ray

 10. GQ - The best in fashion, gadgets and entertainment for young professional men, GQ will make you feel distinguished–even if you are sitting around in your pajamas on a Sunday afternoon.

GQ Magazine

 

The Riveting Story of Susan G. Komen

The Riveting Story of Susan G. Komen

The Riveting Story of Susan G. KomenIt’s the name that immediately brings to mind flashes of pink. But who was the actual Susan G. Komen and how did her name come to be synonymous with breast cancer awareness?

I’ve heard the name Susan G. Komen more times than I can count. It’s on pink ribbons, T-shirts and even cereal boxes, but at the dawn of this month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it hit me that I didn’t really know her story. True, Susan G. Komen is the name of an organization and a movement, but it’s also the name of a person with a story, and I wanted to know more about the woman that incited such a revolution of hope.

In my searching, I came across this beautiful story written by Susan’s sister, Nancy G. Brinker, who made a promise to her dying sister that blossomed into the movement that’s transforming the way women battle breast cancer. If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to dive into Nancy’s deeply emotional narrative, as it’s laced with the kind of honest bravery, fear and love that gives you goosebumps.

Born in 1943 in Peoria, Illinois, Susan G. Komen was a beauty queen, described by her sister as “kind and loving, not only to me but to everyone.” High school homecoming queen, college beauty and later a model, Komen found a lump on her breast when she was only 33 years old.

In a time when the average woman wasn’t nearly as educated about breast cancer as we are today, Komen stayed with her family doctor rather than finding a cancer specialist. She went to a surgeon upon recommendation, and he did a subcutaneous mastectomy (removing tissue just from the inside of the breast) and declared confidently that Komen was cured.

“My heart sank because I knew enough to know that cure is a very difficult word to use in reference to cancer,” Brinker says in her narrative, remembering the moments after her older sister’s surgery. Though Komen adopted her surgeon’s confidence, the deadly disease reappeared months later, and it had spread.

Undergoing radiation treatment at the Mayo Clinic, losing her hair and accepting all the painful side effects surging through her body, Komen took hope from First Lady Betty Ford and her open fight with breast cancer.

“Nan,” she told her sister, “if Mrs. Ford can admit she has breast cancer and tell the whole world she intends to fight it, well then so can I.”

Fight though she did, Komen died at the age of 36 from breast cancer. Before her death, she told her sister she wanted to make the experience better for other women, particularly when it came to the sterile waiting rooms, where patients would often sit for hours on hard chairs surrounded by blank walls. And her sister agreed that she would take up the fight.

“I wanted to do something to let her know how special she would always be in my heart,” Brinker writes at the end of her story. “I was haunted by our last conversation and lay awake sometimes all night wondering what I could do to help other women with breast cancer.”

And such was the birth of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, a revolution of revolutions that has brought hope, healing and awareness to women across the globe.

DIY For the Average Jane: The Perfect Caramel Apple

DIY For the Average Jane: The Perfect Caramel Apple

The Perfect Caramel AppleIt may seem simple enough to make a caramel apple, but to make a picture perfect caramel apple, well that’s a challenge.

One of my favorite autumn traditions is making caramel apples. Tart apples enveloped in sugary caramel–it just doesn’t get much better than that.

And while the basic concept is to dip the apple into the caramel and let it cool, there are some underlying challenges to making a perfect caramel apple (and let’s face it, appearance does matter with these.)

For example, the caramel can be too runny, the apples can be too soft, the caramel can be too bubbly (see my outtakes at the end of this post), etc. For this tutorial, I used pieces of caramel that I bought from the store, but if you’re feeling especially artistic, you can make your own caramel from scratch with this recipe from the Food Network.

Ingredients:

-4 of your favorite apples (sometimes tart apples like Granny Smith are best)

-1 bag of caramels (unless you make your own)

-Lollipop sticks or popsicle sticks

-1 tbsp water

Step 1: Prepare the apples. Wash your apples, insert the sticks and get ready to dip them!

DIY For the Average Jane: The Perfect Caramel Apple Image 1

Step 2: Prepare the caramel. Unwrap all of your caramels (or follow the Food Network recipe and make your own). Then, place caramels in a small pot and add 1 tbsp water.

The Perfect Caramel Apple: the wrapped caramels

The Perfect Caramel Apples Step Two

Step 3: Melt the caramel. Turn your stove to medium and let the caramel melt, stirring occasionally. Here, you have to be careful not to let your caramel burn or boil. If it boils even the slightest bit, you’ll end up with bubbles on your apples (see my outtake).

The Perfect Caramel Apple: step three

Step 4: Dip the apple. Now we get to the fun part. Grab an apple, dip it in the caramel and spin it around until the excess caramel drips off. Remove excess caramel from the bottom of the apple by scraping it off on the side of the pot. Then, place your apple on a baking sheet covered in buttered wax paper.

The Perfect Caramel Apple: dipping the apple

The Perfect Caramel Apple: Dipping the apple two

The Perfect Caramel Apple: set on baking sheet

Step 5: Be creative. If you want to add sprinkles or nuts or chocolate to your apple, be creative and add whatever you want. If you want your sprinkles to stick to the apple, be sure to add them right away before the apple cools.

The Perfect Caramel Apple: Step 5

The Perfect Caramel Apple

Outtake: While it’s tempting to make it look like I got this right on the first shot, I have to be honest that I had one apple turn out a little bit funky since my caramel began to boil before I removed it from the heat. But, hey, if you’re looking for a warty, monstery Halloween idea, here’s the perfect project for you!

The Perfect Caramel Apple Outtake

DIY For the Average Jane: Caramel Apple Tutorial

Here's a tutorial photo you can pin to Pinterest!