how to break in a book binding


The English language is a funny thing, especially when “breaking-in” something is what you do to prevent something from breaking. But there it is.

I love hardcover books. The quality of paper the printers use is generally of a higher quality, and the bindings tend to last longer. But a good binding will only last if it is treated properly. When you get a new book, you never want to open it straight down the middle when you first handle it. Doing this can damage or even crack the spine and ruin your new book. Instead, you want to ease it open, little by little.

how to rag your hair


Rag curls always remind me of A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In the movie I used to watch as a girl, Sara has her hair tied up in rags when she finds out her father is dead and she is to work as a servant girl at Miss Minchin’s school for girls. I had always wanted to try ragging my daughter’s hair, and a few months ago, I decided to search it on youtube. I was not disappointed. There were dozens of how-to videos, and within a week, I got the process down pretty well.

Of the videos I saw, however, I didn’t see many that focused very well on the actual rolling-up process, which is why I decided to make my own.

Hold on to your hats, kids. This is the very first video I have ever posted on sophistimom. I am neither a talented film maker, nor do I know how to use iMovie—I didn’t add any music or text, so what you see is what you get.

Maybe one of these days I’ll sit down with my kids so they can show me how to edit a movie, but until then, I can at least show you how to make some rag curls. They’re a lot of fun, cheap, and perfect for the holidays.

candied orange peel


This is the perfect gift to make for someone when you’re a little short on cash. Since it’s made from sugar, and something you would normally throw away, it’s the ultimate way to recycle. Although they’re delicious plain, I dipped some of them in chocolate, and chopped others to sprinkle on top of chocolate lollipops. I was surprised how much I liked the way the candied peels tasted when paired with white chocolate.

The key to getting these to taste perfect is the number and amount of time you simmer and drain the peels, and the amount of pith you successfully slice off. It’s quite easy, and though I made mine with orange peels, you can also make them with grapefruit peels, lemons, or even Meyer lemons.

caramel filled hi hat cupcakes


Or pure sugar. Just call me Paula Deen. These things are so loaded with sugar that every well-intentioned parent is going to come after me with hate mail in the comments section. In fact, if you’re from Europe, don’t even make these. They’re way too sweet.

Though I had trouble eating these with all their sugar, I must have had at least four of them. There was just something so perfect about the way the warm caramel soaked through the cake, and the way it balanced with the dark chocolate in the crispy outer shell.

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