We’ve Moved

The Field Guide

Hey there! If you’ve noticed some radio silence over in this corner of the Internet, it’s because we’ve moved to a new space. Come visit us at The Field Guide for more content!

We’ve been blogging for upwards of three years now, and our move over to The Field Guide is a natural next step as we continue to define our blog concept. We’re writing about some of the same things, like decor and fashion, and we’re stepping out of our box and tackling new concepts too, like career and relationships. And we have a fresh new look!

Thank you for following along here, and we hope you stop by to check out our new space! As always, you can connect with us in many ways: follow us on Instagram (Catherine’s & Becca’s) and Bloglovin’!

–Catherine and Becca

one/twenty six: croquembouche


The Croquembouche is the first of 26 French recipes I’m endeavoring to make before my next birthday. Here you can find my complete list and each recipe I’ve completed so far.

I have to admit that I felt a tad bit silly tackling a croquembouche as my first 26 before 27 installation.    It is, after all, a tower of cream puffs.  I have never made pate a choux, or crème pâtissière. There were a thousand ways this could go wrong (like melting my hand off in boiling sugar) but somehow, everything went smoothly come December 24th. (Did I mention this was the dessert I was preparing for Christmas Eve?)

Croquembouche translates to “crunch in the mouth” and it is characterized by the crunchy caramel that adheres puff to puff and the threads that encircle the tower in a spindly sugar halo.

The first thing I’ll say about a croquembouche is that it is crazy beautiful, and a total conversation starter. However, with its awesomeness comes a certain level of fussiness when it comes to actually eating it. But don’t let that deter you–it was a blast to make (my husband even had fun!) and was far easier to create than I expected!

Here’s the run down on everything I used and everything I learned:


Besides your typical tools (mixing bowls, wooden spoon, etc.) you will also need a large baking sheet, parchment paper or a Silpat, a cake stand or other display, and a pastry bag. You’ll use a 1/2 inch tip to pipe 3/4 inch rounds of choux pastry, and a 1/4 inch tip to fill the puffs. If you’re uncomfortable with a pastry bag, a 1/2 inch cookie dropper works fantastically for forming uniform puffs, and a condiment bottle can be used to pipe the pastry cream. Optional supplies include an oven thermometer (crucial for my oven that runs anywhere from 25 to 50 degrees hot), and a candy thermometer to reference while making the caramel.


The first batch of puffs I made were far to eggy and not sweet at all. I decided to try out another recipe that used fewer eggs and more sugar, but still found the puffs too savory. For the third and fourth batches, I modified the recipe to up the sweetness.

Pate a Choux
Adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 24 puffs

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 6 eggs plus 1 egg white for wash

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, heat the butter, water, milk, sugar and salt over medium heat. After the butter melts, and just when the mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and add the flour. Mix until incorporated, and return to heat. With a wooden spoon, mix until the dough begins to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the saucepan. Allow the dough to cool until you can handle it with your fingers. Crack six eggs into a separate bowl and give them a mix. Add the equivalent of one egg to the dough and beat. The dough will separate a bit and get slimy, but eventually the egg will incorporate. Continue adding eggs, one at a time, incorporating fully before adding another. If you’re arm feels like it’s going to fall off, you’re doing it right!

After piping (or spooning, if you’re using a cookie dropper) the dough into 3/4 in rounds, mix together one egg white and one teaspoon of water. Smooth the pastry by dipping the back of a spoon into the egg white mixture and lightly coating the tops. Bake on the top rack for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until the puffs are a golden brown. At this point, turn off the oven and crack the door. After five minutes, open the oven completely and allow the puffs to continue to cool slowly. When the oven is mostly cool, remove the puffs and let them cool completely before filling.

For the pastry cream, I whipped up the Chocolate Pastry Cream from Joy the Baker and a vanilla version from The Kitchn. I followed Joy’s technique for both, though. Both were delicious.

Things I Learned:

1. Vary the Shape and Size of Puffs: Don’t fret if some of your puffs are a little oblong rather than round. While assembling the croquembouche, I found that the occasional ellipse was helpful in filling certain spaces. You will also need to have plenty of smaller puffs. Before filling and assembling, I sorted my puffs into large (for the bottom), medium (for the middle) and small (for the top). Unfortunately, I ran out of pastry cream and only got to fill about 1/4 of the smaller puffs. I thought I’d have enough puffs, so I went ahead and began assembling the croquembouche. Along with the misshapen puffs, tiny puffs would’ve also been handy to help fill gaps after the first level was created and the tower began to take shape. So, make sure you have enough pastry creme to fill all of your puffs before putting the croquembouche together, or fill about the same amount of medium and small puffs.

2. Oven Temperatures are Important: My first two batches kept deflating after removing them from the oven, or would be dreadfully crispy on the bottom and uncooked on top. I learned from this guy that the puffs need a super hot oven at first, and a cooling period. His recommendation for oven temps and times was spot on.

3. You’ll Need a Lot of Puffs: I had exactly 48 puffs, and I deemed about 6 of them unworthy. I got about 3/4 of the way up the cone (just one that I made from poster board) and was out! I had to bring the flat ones and funky shaped ones back in. This was when I learned that funky shapes can be helpful.  The short of it: 48 puffs, using approximately 3/4″ scoop/piping diameter, barely fills a cone that is 11″ tall.

4. A Croquembouche Has a Short Shelf Life: I assembled the croquembouche in about an hour, then photographed it, and then put in on display until dessert. By the time we cracked into it, the caramel had started to melt in the humidity. The time between completion and dessert was 5 hours, but I’m not sure when the sugar started to weep. I certainly would not wait beyond 5 hours, in moderate humidity, to dive in. 

5. Cleaning Up Hardened Caramel is…Hard: Luckily, my husband took on the task while I bustled around prepping the rest of the food for our Christmas Eve dinner. His system: add water to your pot and throw in any sticky utensils, and bring to a boil. Pour out the water and continue the process, melting and diluting the sugar with each round.

For Next Time:

Next time I make choux pastry I’m definitely going to try making it well in advance. I stored my puffs in an airtight container for about a day and a half, letting them get some air to dry out periodically. I would like to try freezing them for a longer period of time.


Can you squeeze a little room into your New Year’s resolutions for one of these delicious pastries?!


#ootd november

I sit here sipping coffee from a plastic Drury alumni cup because I have no clean mugs. Because I am on Winter Break and I am not with it. But in November, I more or less had it together and I have evidence below:

As you can see things got a little hasty last month and on some days I just had to bust out the dress pants, prop my camera up on the stairs, snap a picture, and run out the door.

Things I am looking forward to for the rest of December…

…reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for ABM’s January book club selection.

…sipping on these during my family Christmas party.

…tackling a smaller, humbler Croquembouche as part of my 26 before 27.

…listening to the new album from She & Him, plus all of their Christmas music.

…wearing what may be the best cardigan I’ve ever purchased.


What’s in store for your December?


polkadots and blue jeans


polkadots and blue jeans

It’s snowed two times since November started. Big fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky as I type. I have a feeling that flats will no longer belong in the category of appropriate footwear very soon.

This outfit is my favorite from #ootd November. I love dalmatian print–and can you believe I bought that shirt from Forever 21 over 3 years ago? It’s held up very nicely, as I find many clothes that don’t necessarily cost a pretty penny tend to do if you don’t leave them lying on the floor!

Anyway, much to do today on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. #ootd posts from now until the end of November will likely only include yoga pants so as to properly accommodate for turkey sandwich leftovers and homemade Chex mix!

Happy Thanksgiving!


(PS: See other #ootd posts by following my Instagram.)


banana pear bread with salted caramel

Banana Pear Bread

The basis of this banana bread recipe comes from Marilyn, my-mother-in-law. She is one of those bakers who has eighty percent of her recipe memorized and just fills in the blanks as she goes. I don’t know how she gets away with it, but she does. Anyway, last week, I bought four bananas. Two for eating, and two for banana bread. Unfortunately, I forgot to communicate that two of them were destined for more than just peeling and eating, and all but one remained when I finally had time to bake.

After mentioning to my husband that he ate too many bananas, he kindly left the fourth one alone. But you know, you sort of need a couple of bananas for banana bread. I didn’t feel like waiting another few days for a banana to go bad, so I decided to put a pear that had gone past its prime to work. And since I’d already subbed banana for pear, I decided to go all out with brown butter and salted caramel. Eighty percent basic, twenty percent do-what-you-want, Marilyn style.

I swirled some of the caramel into the batter, but it must have been too runny because it didn’t stay in the middle.  Instead, it sizzled up to the top and out to the sides and made for a sweet and salty crust. Totally works! I will most certainly be whipping up another loaf to tote to Thanksgiving.

Banana Pear Bread

Banana Pear Bread with Salted Caramel

For the Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons sea salt


In a saucepan over medium low heat, mix together all of the ingredients. Stir the mixture as it begins to bubble, and allow the sugar to boil for about 7 minutes. Dip a spoon into the sauce and allow to cool over the pan to check its consistency. Sauce should be on the runnier side. When finished, remove from heat and allow to cool.

For the Bread

1/3 cup unsalted butter, browned

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup of mashed banana (about 1 ripe banana)

1 small pear, diced


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour and loaf pan.

Add butter to a cold saucepan. Turn heat on to medium–stir butter as it melts, foams, and browns. When the liquid has turned a golden brown, remove from heat and let cool.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add in mashed banana and the brown butter. Stir.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet, a little bit at a time. Mix together until all of the flour is incorporated.

Pour half of the batter into the pan. Add a few dollops of caramel sauce and use a knife to swirled the caramel into the bread. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cover the bread with foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve warm. With butter. Spoon some of the leftover caramel sauce on top and sprinkle on some more salt. Eat it all before anybody else knows you baked.


#ootd october

#ootd october

This was the first month I decided to start Instagramming Outfits of the Day (#OOTD).

I wanted to try this method of documenting outfits (snapping a pic just before I fly out the door, no special accessories or styling, and then Instagramming it when I get a chance) for two reasons.

First, I wanted to just get comfortable with publishing less than perfect photography onto my blog. Last year I noticed that my belief that every. single. photo. I put on the blog had to be 100% perfect was totally tanking my motivation to post. So I decided to just get over the fact that I shoot with an iPhone and that my house is full of photo bombing dust bunnies. Sometimes, In the mornings, I’m able to snap a pic when the light is perfect, but if it’s early I just have to work with that AM twilight. I just shove all the junk out of the way and go with it. And I’m happy enough with the results.

Second, I wanted an easy way to document how often I wear certain items of clothing. At the beginning of my elementary internship this semester, I dug out my black dress pants and tried to decide if the blazer I had worked with the pants. (Is it black or is it navy?! I still don’t know.) I’ve known for a while that any derivation of the power suit is not my style, so I decided to make my clothes work for the elementary classroom.

My personal style isn’t so much an issue. Teachers are certainly expected to look put together, but we don’t have to look corporate. I just wasn’t sure I had enough clothes. So I decided to draft a list of as many possible combinations that I could wear in the classroom and keep track of how often I chose to wear those combinations. The most frequent flyers include my mint chip skirt (above, bottom right) and anything black and white. I do believe that the photos above have captured the very beginnings of a capsule wardrobe, for weekend wear and teacher wear alike.

Yep yep! I love clothes, I love blogging, and less-than-perfect-photography will never stand in my way again. You can follow my #OOTD adventures by following my Instagram.


P.S. Have you considered adopting the capsule wardrobe philosophy?

26 before 27

Le Relais Gascon

Another birthday is right around the corner and my heart is all aflutter as I ponder an updated yearly to-do list. (Check out my 25 before 26 list to see last year’s goals!)

The first item on the first draft of this year’s 26 before 27 list was “really, seriously try to master a sewing skill.” Sewing is one of those things I keep thinking I’ll enjoy. I want to sew an elaborate quilt or alter a vintage dress, but the fact is that I can barely sew a straight line–still! And when it comes down to it, I certainly don’t enjoy practicing the skills necessary to be successful at this art form.

I’ve since tossed the first draft and decided to come at my 26 before 27 list from a different angle. What if, this year, I stopped traveling down creative avenues I think I might enjoy eventually and instead, dedicated a whole entire year to something I know I enjoy doing everyday?

Mind. Blown.

If there is one thing in this world I love doing day in and day out, it’s cooking and baking. (I also love shopping equally that much but probably shouldn’t embark on 26-ways-to-end-up-declaring-bankruptcy-before-27!)

I have this strange motivation to master the art of carving a turkey. I’ve penciled my 18th attempt at French macarons into my calendar for next Sunday. I flip over the vibrant colors of fresh vegetables. I feel no stress in the kitchen and often spend an entire weekend in there. I also have a husband that is glad to eat anything and clean up any and all messes I inevitably create in the name of good food. It’s a win-win.

Because I love a good theme, I’ve decided to embark on 26 French recipes. Wes and I spent a couple of days in Paris two years ago, and it was by far my most favorite stop during our belated European honeymoon. Because pastries. And cheese. And wine. And pastries with chocolate. And baguette!

I want to make it all. I’ll start with the following 26:


Boeuf Bourguignon


Confit de Canard


Galette des rois

Coq Au Vin

Crème Brûlée


Croque Madame

Croque Monsieur

Duck a l’Orange


Gratin Dauphinois


Oeufs en Cocotte

Petits Fours


Quiche Lorraine

Saint Honoré


Soupe a l’Oignon

Tarte aux Fraises

Tarte flambée


*promptly renews gym membership*

…Bon appétit!

sundays no. 3

Kitty Meow does Sundays right ^^Kitty Meow always does Sundays the right way.

Today IS Sunday, right? I can’t seem to keep track of the days of the week right now. At the start of the semester I was taking it week by week. Then day by day. Now, it’s task by task. “Write lesson plan.” “Eat breakfast.” “Wait on that table without forgetting silverware.” “Pick up niece from practice.” “Make Halloween costume.” “Grade papers.” “Run the dishwasher that’s been full for days.” “Feed cat.” “Text Wes to feed the dog because you forgot.”

And the next thing I know it’s Sunday again and the time is gone and I dream of the day I can sit by myself and catch up on Sleepy Hollow and Scandal without cat hair fluffs floating about all over the place at the slightest movement. Maybe–just maybe–that day can be today.

This Sunday, in particular, is for…

…no makeup. I did a terrible thing this week (and last week) and slept in Thursday night’s makeup and then, because it wasn’t too smudgy, just added more for my Friday night shift. You can judge.  I was busy. Today, my pores need some air.

…no photo filters. I don’t have the time and the sun is shining almost optimally.

…no homework. I’ve been doing it in my car before my internship, in 3 minute bursts while waiting tables, during class, and in my sleep.

…no stress. Lots of hot tea, a little bit of record playing, and finishing up The Great Gatsby. And some Sleepy Hollow and Scandal, of course. What are you doing this Sunday?


Sundays no. 1

Sundays no. 2

what’s in my bag?

Let’s talk about the tote bag. It is a teacher staple. The other day I commuted with 4 tote bags to school. One for my unit planning class, one for my art class, one for the gym, and my regular old tote-bag-that-is-actually-my-purse. But totes aren’t exclusive to teachers–photographers, library goers, and grocery shoppers come to mind. Is the cavernous tote among one of your favorite types of bags? If so, here’s a few of my current favorites, as well as what’s in my tote right now.

top to bottom & left to right //

// a structured tote perfect for Monday morning. I’m really good at pre-packing my bag on Sunday in preparation for the week, but that kind of organization is all downhill from there.

// A Very Hungry Caterpillar tote that I would use all the time if I taught first grade!

// a tote specially designed for all your yoga needs. I’ve been hitting up two yoga classes per week lately, so I might even ask for this for my birthday.

// another literature inspired tote. I have not read Jane Eyre but I will have to make time for that if I am to ever sport the tote. I absolutely love the colors.

// a neutral tote. Neutrals are my favorite.

Here’s what’s in my current bag, a lovely tote I’ve been eyeing at Target and finally splurged on. First, what you don’t see: 4 individually wrapped prunes that were totally smooshed, a pair of dirty gym socks (ew), and dozens of crumpled receipts.

what remains //

// a map of bus lines. I am new to riding the bus and I’m kind of bad at it. I have a tendency to disembark too early. Goofball.

// a coin purse. I think I must be using all of my quarters for coffee because when I need some coinage for parking, there’s only pennies.

// one of my favorite resources for lesson planning. Isn’t the cover of that book awesome?

// a variety of writing utensils. I have my go to’s: Bic pens and pencils, and anything Sharpie.

// Smith’s lip balm for day and red lipstick for night.

// sunglasses I don’t even use because I’m out of contacts and my prescription is expired.

// the best hand cream ever from Neutrogena. Another one of my go to’s.

Now, go clean the junk out of your purse. Let’s all be organized together!

lately // 9.15.14

Oh lordy. For those of you that are in college or have teaching jobs, are you in the weeds yet? Let’s just say my to-do list is ten miles long and growing. Last week I took up two seats on the bus because I had three tote bags and a purse. Crazy. Balance balance balance is my mantra.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

Aspiring to // make the most glorious macarons this town has ever seen.

Preparing for // a 16 hour/week practicum in which I get to teach lessons and do research on the teaching & learning process. PS. Speaking of teaching, I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this teacher’s laid-back-yet-chic style.

Listening to // acoustic Bon Jovi because it’s in the 5-CD changer at work. It’s a hoot.

Thinking that // I may very well dress up as Daisy Buchannan for Halloween, after reading October’s pick for the ABM book club!

Hoping that // the Fall weather lingers a while. I’ve heard rumors of a blizzard of a winter. I’ll have to take a peek at the Farmer’s Almanac to confirm.

Reading // a stack of old magazines that I bought but never browsed. And also getting very excited for this to get up and running…

Wanting to // blog more often but trying SO hard to just stick with a consistent, sustainable schedule! I keep referencing this podcast by Elise Blaha Cripe on editorial calendars.

Dreading // the Missouri winter. I really like this jacket but there’s no way that’ll work in a snowstorm.

Browsing // new-to-me blogs and revisiting old blogs. Have any suggestions for me?

Pinteresting // anything to do with fall fashion and pumpkin recipes. Check out my Wardrobe and Recipe boards!

Thinking about // trying Crossfit. Should I? Shouldn’t I? If I do I might reward myself with these pieces from Albion: a plush pullover & some long leggings. But first I’ll have to pull some doubles at work so I don’t break the bank!

What have you been up to lately? –Catherine