16 Dec 2013

Christmas Home Tour & I love Winter #Holidaze

One of my absolute favorite things about Christmas, and the winter season in general, is spending cozy, relaxing time at home. I still love to go outdoors in the winter too, dressed in weather appropriate clothes, but there's something so comfortable about being indoors when it's freezing cold, snowy, or nasty weather outside.

I love decorating my home for Christmas, so I thought I'd show you what I've done in my apartment to get ready for the holidays. Enjoy the video!

I also wanted to share some picture of a beautiful walk I went on this weekend with my boyfriend. We've had a bit of snow already, but recently we had some beautiful hoar frost, which has turned all the trees into delicate, spindly white icicles. It's a unique weather setting that transforms the surroudings into a beautiful winter wonderland. See for yourself!

We drove to a lake where there's a nice walking trail, and as I'm driving I look out the window and see THIS!! I just had to stop the car on the side of the road and snap a picture.

We got to the lake and had a chilly walk around. I forgot my gloves! I hate having cold hands, but when I got back to my car I found a spare pair of gloves in the...wait for it...glove compartment!! Wow really? Who woulda thunk it?

The lake is so beautiful when it's frozen. I think still a tad too early to try ice skating on it quite yet.

By the way, if you're always cold outside in the winter - here's a piece of basic advice. Buy a high quality outdoor jacket, preferably one made for skiing or snowboarding. They are made for proper winter climate, will keep you warm, dry, and most importantly will completely block out wind and cold air. I like to wear my wool coats more in the city, of for going out for an evening somewhere, but when I'm out and about in nature, I always wear this Roxy snowboarding jacket. Matched with a hat and gloves, and the hood up, I can be outside for hours in this thing and be perfectly cozy and warm. Wool coats always let in a breeze or draft somewhere, and sometimes they're not even made of 100% wool and thus aren't even that warm.

Outdoor jackets can be quite stylish nowadays too, with most brands catering to women with cute, more tailored styles. Honestly, this is probably my most worn jacket in the winter, since I actually love this time of year and like spending time outdoors. I love the bright turquoise color too and the faux fur trim is cute.

Do you like winter? Do you spend time outdoors as well, or do you prefer to stay inside when it's cold?

11 Dec 2013

Sparkling Evergreen Holiday Party Look #Holidaze

Ready for another bold and fun party makeup for the holidays? Ok, this isn't exactly a subdued wallflower look, but...why not? It's the holidays and why not bust out the glitter when you have the opportunity!

Watch my video tutorial how to get the look!

Products used:

Astor Perfect Stay eyeshadow pencil - green
Sleek Makeup Ultra Mattes V.2 palette
Barry M Glitter Dust #21
Lit Cosmetics Clearly Liquid Glitter Base
OCC Glitter in Mint http://bit.ly/1bEG6kz
Illamasqua pencil http://bit.ly/1hNc1mI
L'Oreal Superliner in Black
Smashbox Full Exposure mascara http://bit.ly/IPZW0T
Ardell Wispies False Lashes
Smashbox Blush Rush in Bare
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light http://bit.ly/1hNd6ez
Misslyn Smooth Lipliner #04
Illamasqua Sheer Lipgloss in Opulent http://bit.ly/1cBHAwc
Kryolan Glamour Glow in Pale Tan

Munich Haul & More #Holidaze

On my recent trip to Munich (which I talked about in my last post) I of course had to do some serious shopping, as the city boasts some great stores, and everything is cheaper than in Switzerland. Bonus!! I picked up some great pieces that will really get a lot of wear this winter, because I live in cold climate and I just love wearing warm sweaters, coats and scarves at this chilly time of year.

See my video below to see what I bought.

Items shown and where to buy:

Mango Coat http://bit.ly/1eUYkhv (UK) or http://bit.ly/1dUuJrW (Germany)
Mango Alpaca Sweater http://bit.ly/1dUrJvU
Mango Chocker Necklace http://bit.ly/1d4IAau
Vero Moda cardigan
H&M Cardigan 
Zara Scarf
ASOS Plaid Leggings http://bit.ly/18I6FXk
ASOS Wet Look Leggings http://bit.ly/1eV6fvj
ASOS Oxblood Leggings http://bit.ly/18I71NI
Forever 21 Sports Wear bra http://bit.ly/IV5qby
Forever 21 Flower necklace http://bit.ly/1d4JeEP
Forever 21 Gold choker necklace http://bit.ly/IV2LP6
Forever 21 Black Rhinestone necklace http://bit.ly/18I7QGh
Forever 21 Rhinestone Stud earrings http://bit.ly/1eUXP6W

German Christmas Markets in Munich #Holidaze

I recently spent two days in Munich with my boyfriend, exploring the city and taking in the beautiful atmosphere of all the Christmas Markets dispersed around the city. Munich in itself is a gorgeous city, but the cheerful and festive mood make it unforgettable.

Around the core of the Old Town, you will see lots of little markets selling a host of Christmas things: lanterns, handmade ornaments, wooden toys, nutcrackers, candles, nativity scene figurines, lambswool slippers, and a delicious variety of yummy treats. Everything from grilled Bratwurst with Sauerkraut on a crusty bun, steamed dumplings with vanilla sauce, sweet roasted nuts, spun sugar, hot mulled wine and so much more.

You can spend the whole day strolling around the markets, dipping into stores to do some Christmas shopping (Munich has absolutely fab shopping), then warming up with some Glühwein (mulled spiced wine) when you're cold, and downing a sausage when you're hungry.

It's truly a magical atmosphere, one that I tried to catch on my video! Definitely gets you in the mood for Christmas.

Have you ever visited a traditional Christmas market in Europe? Where did you go and what did you think of it? Or do you live in a town that has them every year?

DIY Chocolate Brittle #Holidaze

Want to learn how to make an utterly delicious chocolatey treat, that also makes a wonderful and inexpensive gift? Then DIY Chocolate Brittle is just the right thing. It's sweet, comes in endless varieties, easy to make - and who doesn't like chocolate??

I decided to make two varieties:

  • White & Milk Chocolate Swirl with Salted Caramel and Roasted Almonds
  • Milk & Dark Chocolate Swirl with Cranberries & Orange Liqueur

Both are so very delicious, you won't be able to keep your hands off them! Here are all the ingredients you will need to make both brittles:

2 x 100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
100g white chocolate
1 Tblsp. orange brandy
1 organic untreated orange (peel)
handful of roasted almonds
handful of dried cranberries
coarse sea salt (Fleur de Sel is ideal)
Chewy caramel candies

And as to how to make them, my video will give you all the details!

Don't they just look so tasty? Enjoy!!

3 Dec 2013

The Holidaze are Here!

And so is my first Holidaze video! Yes, holidaze, not holidays. If you haven't watched my announcement video on Youtube (which you really should as it will give you the entire low down of what I'm doing this month) I'm planning to upload a LOT of videos this month. As in every other day! And no, they won't all be lame Tag videos, there will be lots of tutorials, DIYs, makeup, outfits, and more. So it will definitely be a very fun month for you, and a very busy one for me!

This is my first Holiday Christmas makeup look, inspired by the classic red and gold theme that is oh-so-popular for this time of year. I love red, so no complaints from me on that front!

Want to see how to get this look? Then watch my video tutorial for all the steps:

Products used:

Nars Sheer Glow foundation http://bit.ly/1cJhHJ1
MAC Soft Ochre Paint Pot http://bit.ly/1cJhNQU
L'Oreal Infallible e/s in Gold Imperial http://bit.ly/1cKyQC3
MAC Malt http://bit.ly/1cJi7z9
MAC Soft Brown http://bit.ly/188xPE4
MAC Woodwinked http://bit.ly/1cJiiKE
MAC Fluidline Rich Brown http://bit.ly/1cJiwBn
Makeup Geek pigment in Afterglow
Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Eyeliner El Dorado http://bit.ly/187dD5p
Max Factor Kajal Natural Glaze http://bit.ly/IyGJRi
L'Oreal Lash Out Butterfly Macara http://bit.ly/187ea7j
Kryolan Illusion in Velvet
Inglot Lipliner
Kryolan Lip Stain in Rock
Smashbox Bronzer http://bit.ly/IC0SH6
Smashbox Love Me blush http://bit.ly/1eD5J51
NARS Lip Lacquer Diablo http://bit.ly/IC1lZU
House of Lashes Noir Fairy
Anny Nailpolish http://bit.ly/1cTU0gS
L'Oreal Nailpolish Sparklicious http://bit.ly/1eD7b7d
Babyliss Hot Rollers http://bit.ly/1dJNjTv
Dress by Lipsy (older collection)

Is this a look you might wear to a party? Let me know in the comments! I'd also love to get your feedback on future Holidaze video ideas, so you can tweet me @hellojuliagraf using the hashtag #holidaze to give your 2 cents!

29 Oct 2013

Autumn Splendor

I had to share some of these images I shot on my favorite running route a few days ago. I drained my iphone battery with pictures and videos, just trying to capture the beauty that is autumn. There's no greater way to enjoy this season than in a deserted, quiet forest on a beautiful sunny day, with leaves crunching underfoot. These are just some quick iphone snaps, nothing super creative with my SLR.

It certainly makes it so much more enjoyable to exercise outside when you've got scenes like that surrounding you. The only problem is that I had to stop every few meters to whip out my phone and take a picture!

This last one was shot in the evening from my rooftop patio, the mountains in the background.

How have you been enjoying autumn this year?

Arabian Autumn

I was inspired by the beautiful colours of Autumn for this Arab inspired eye makeup, and here's what I came up with!

These copper, gold and olive green colors remind me of the leaves changing color, and the dramatic Arab-style eyeliner makes this look seriously bold and dramatic! I love this look, and I'll definitely be rocking it at some event soon, it's a must!

Check out my makeup tutorial to get this look, or watch directly on Youtube here.

Here's all the products I used:

L'Oreal Visible Lift foundation, Sleek MakeUp Blush in Suede

NYX Jumbo Pencil in White, Astor Perfect Stay Eyeshadow Liner in Vivid Green, Kryolan Pigment in Copper, L'Oreal Infallible eyeshadows in Gold Imperial and Cosmic Black, MAC Malt, MAC Shroom, MAC Blacktrack Fluidline, Manhattan Eyemazing Eyeliner in Black Lacque, Maybelline Master Drama eyeliner in Couture Green, House of Lashes Noire Fairy lashes, L'Oreal Voluminous Excess mascara,

L'Oreal Collection Privée JLo lipstick, Kryolan High Gloss in Wave

Butter London Wallis

How do you like this look? Where would you wear it?

Julia Graf in NZZ am Sonntag

Last Sunday I was featured in one of Switzerland's biggest, nation-wide newspapers, the NZZ am Sonntag. The article talks about the importance of online content, and how it has become much more engaging and professionally made. I was interviewed as the main protagonist, and the article talks about what I do on Youtube, how my audience has grown over the years, and how my content has been improved to keep up with the times. Whereas I once started with a cheap web cam, now my videos are on a near professional level.

You can click on the picture to enlarge it, so you can read the article in German. Unfortunately, there is no free online version, as you need a newspaper subscription to access it. I couldn't scan a little bit of the article as the newspaper was too large to fit my scanner, but the main part is there.

You can read more Press about me here.

Julia Graf in Zurich Tagesanzeiger and Der Bund

Back in April I was interviewed for the Zurich Tagesanzeiger, another one of Switzerland's biggest and most widely read papers, especially in Zurich. It was at the same printed in Der Bund, another influential Swiss newspaper. The coolest part: I made it on to the front page of both newspapers with a picture!!

I then had an ENTIRE page in both papers dedicated to my article and a big picture, which is quite lengthy and in depth. I will have to take a picture of the article later, as it wouldn't fit on my scanner.

You can read the entire article online here. Honestly, this article in these two papers caused a slew of other press inquiries which I have posted before this. It was a bit of a whirlwind for me, and quite surprising, but amazing too. Thank you to Angela Barandun for the interview!

Read more Press about me by clicking here.

Julia Graf on Aeschbacher

On June 6, 2013 I was invited as a guest on the most popular Swiss late night talk-show, Aeschbacher. You can think of it as a smaller version of something like Leno or Letterman (much smaller of course, as Switzerland is a small country.) The host Kurt Aeschbacher has interviewed local and internationally known celebrities, politicians, artists, writers, and sometimes just interesting people with a unique story to tell, like myself.

I was invited on the show to basically talk about myself, my success on Youtube, what kinds of videos I make and how I made a career out of it by working together with key players in the industry, what a normal work day looks like for me, etc. Unfortunately there's no subtitles, but I can tell you the interview is very light-hearted and fun. The host as a way of infusing the talks with his own charm and wit, making it entertaining for everyone to watch.

Honestly, this was probably my biggest media appearance yet. The show Aeschbacher is known by everyone in Switzerland, and it's a completely different audience than on Youtube, for example. I was both proud, but also extremely honoured to be asked to come on the show. Kurt Aeschbacher is such a gentleman, and the staff are so professional and made me feel at ease right away. Thank you for having me! It was a wonderful experience.

To see more Press about me, click here.

Julia Graf in Schweizer Familie

I was interviewed and photographed in my new studio for the 27. June 2013 (Nr.26) issue of the Swiss magazine Schweizer Familie. Click on the image to see and read in full size.

For non-German speakers: This article was a short portrait at the very beginning of the magazine (page 9) that gives readers a quick look into who I am, what I do, and how I make my videos. It talks about how I make videos in English and German, how I made a career out of my beauty blog and Youtube channel, and how many people watch my videos.

Thank you for the interview, Schweizer Familie!

To read more Press articles about me, click here.

Julia Graf in 20 Minutes

I apologize in advance for the slew of press articles I'm going to be post on my Blog today. A lot of these are articles that are slightly older, but I never uploaded them here, and I want to have them all present. Maybe some of you haven't seen them yet either, and are interested!

Here I was interviewed for an article on May 2nd, 2013 for the largest daily free newspaper 20 Minuten. Click on the image to read it full size.

For non-German speakers: This article doesn't contain any groundbreaking news that my longtime viewers and readers don't know yet. It basically talks about my Youtube channel, what I do, how many people watch my channel, and how I got started doing videos on there. Nonetheless it was great to have exposure to such a huge readership, because this newspaper is read by basically everyone on the trains, buses and trams in the morning here.

Click here to read more Press articles about me.

25 Oct 2013

My Fitness Diary (10) : Starting Over

Hi everyone! It's been ages since I've checked in with you on a fitness / weight loss post. So let's get up to speed, shall we?

I was really motived in the spring of this year, and started posting a lot of my #SummerFit videos on my second Youtube channel (you can see those here if you're interested). I was exercising regularly, getting back into great shape, my endurance level was going up - and then it all came crashing down!

I had a spinal cord injury beginning of August (which I blogged about here) that left me hospitalized for three days, and in a world of excruciating pain.

After I was released from hospital, I couldn't sit or walk properly for a while. The pain continued and of course I couldn't do any exercise at all, as I was advised by my spinal doctor. He also told me to avoid any exercise for at least 10 weeks. I had to go back to leading a very sedentary life, where I was basically getting very, very little movement throughout the day. I found it hard to sit for very long, so I resorted to editing my pre-filmed videos (which I thankfully I still had a couple stored up) in a horizontal position on our guest bedroom.

Now it's October and I am slowly back to a somewhat normal existence. I can walk, sit for a good 4 hours before the pain comes back, and I am undergoing physiotherapy. I see my therapist twice a week, and we're working on flexibility, strengthening, and increasing movement again. An after effect of my spinal cord injury is that my left leg is partially lame, and I have a loss of feeling. It's slowly going away at a snail's pace, but for a while it was very scary, and also annoying. I kept tripping over my own feet because my leg and foot wouldn't function properly! 

So where has this left me fitness wise? Well of course it totally threw me off my course, and since August, I've not been able to do anything in the way of fitness. It's been a nearly 3 month break, and only now am I slowly easing back into it. I'm also having to change up the kind of exercise I do. Goodbye Insanity fitness DVDs, goodbye high-impact exercise - hello to low impact! Ugh. A part of me hates it because I feel like such a grandma. I was so proud of the strength I had before this, and now I feel really frail. I know, however, that my back needs time to heal, which can take up to 1.5 years for it to go back to normal, but it's my absolute priority right now.

Of course I gained some weight, not dramatically, as I've been trying to watch what I eat a lot more since I cannot get a lot of movement in. It's really frustrating because I absolute hate restricting myself on food, it just doesn't make me a happy camper. I just feel really unfit and soft right now, a lot of the muscle definition I had worked up is ebbing away. It threw me for a loop, I admit, after being so energetic and fit for the past 2 years or so. It made me realize how much it's become a part of my life, and how much I miss going outside to exercise when I can't do it. It's not only good for your body and health, but also for your mind. It's depressing when you have an injury, and you just can't do anything for so long afterwards.

After getting the green light from my doctor, I made the decision to join a gym that has an indoor pool. I've always been sort of against gyms for myself, because I just never really enjoyed it. I hated the smell, the gross public showers, and running like a hamster on a treadmill, never really going anywhere. But I went for a trial work-out at this place nearby, and it was very clean, with really new equipment, lots of windows, and I loved swimming. I used to swim a lot as a teenager, and then again as a student in university, so I'm actually quite good at it. Right now I can do front and back crawl; breast stroke still hurts my back somewhat because you have to arch your back. I also want to start weight lifting for my arms, because I just hate the softness I have there, and no amount of running will change that. I'll have to be careful with lifting weights on other parts right now, because it can be bad for an injured back. I'll just have to see what works, and what doesn't.

I'm excited to start a new routine, but also sad that running will have to go on hold at the moment. I tried some speed walking but it just wasn't the same. I will miss my beautiful wooded trails in autumn this year. It also means I'm unsure if or how I will be able to film fitness videos again, as I will be in an indoors environment, which makes things extremely awkward for self-vlogging. I'll have to see how it develops and if I feel comfortable doing that with people around, who might not be too keen on being filmed working out in the background.

That's it from my side, and where I'm at. As you can see, we all suffer set backs at some point, for some it might be small things, in my case it was a bit more scary. The important thing is just not to give up, and when you're ready, to hop on the wagon again!

Have you ever suffered a set-back in your fitness or weight loss routine? What happened and what did you do to overcome it? Please share in the comments, I would love to get some feedback as this is something I think everyone struggles with from time to time.


24 Oct 2013

Soft Neutral Fall Makeup

This is a really easy, natural and soft looking autumn makeup that is very wearable for everyday occasions. I like the strong, bold makeup too, but sometimes you just want to take things down a notch. Also, there's no fear that a makeup like this will clash with your outfit - it will go with everything!

Watch my tutorial for step by step instructions:

Bourjouis Healthy Mix foundation, Make Up Forever Full Cover concealer, L'Oreal Magic Soufflé Plum blush, La Roche Posay blush in Rose Dorée

MAC Soft Ochre paintpot, Maybelline Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo, Margaret Astor Hot Coffee e/s, L'Oreal Hourglass Beige Infallible e/s, MAC Malt e/s, Bobbi Brown Sparkle Sunlight e/s, Smashbox Gel Liner in Deep Bronze, L'Oreal Lash Out Butterfly mascara

Essence In The Nude lipliner, L'Oreal JLo's Nude lipstick, Revlon Lipgloss in Peach Petal

DIY: Starburst Mirror with major WOW Factor!

A few weeks ago I was in the mood for another DIY project, after my Jewelry Frame, which you can watch here if you missed it. We have this large empty wall in our dining room, right behind out table, which was just begging for some decor. I really wanted an eyecatcher there, so instead of just some boring picture frames, I decided to make a large Starburst mirror.

Like this project? Pin it on Pinterest!

I was going for a kind of wild, not-too-perfect looking, somewhat random starburst. I used branches to achieve that look. Here's some more detailed shots of the mirror up close.

This was a really fun, if time consuming project! The mirror is TRANBY from IKEA, and the branches are also from there, and called SMYCKA. They can be found in the dried flowers and plants section of IKEA. I opted to spray mine gold, but you can choose any color of the rainbow of course. Watch my video tutorial to see how I did this, plus some tips and tricks of what I would do differently next time!

I absolutely love the end result, and even though it was a lot of work, I would definitely do it again. I love the way it looks in our dining room. It has such a wild, unique look, and I've received so many compliments from friends and family who can't believe I made it myself!

Is this a project you might do? If you try it out, tweet me your pictures with the hashtag #DIYwithJulia to my Twitter account: @hellojuliagraf

19 Oct 2013

Harley Quinn Halloween Makeup

Here's my interpretation of a Harley Quinn look for Halloween. This is based off a design I saw on Tumblr, the original artist is named Luciferismydad. It's a more artistic version than the plain ol' black mask, which is kind of boring, in my opinion. See my tutorial how I pulled this off, or watch it directly on Youtube.

Here's all the products I used:

MAC Airbrush foundation in White, L'Oreal Magic Lumi foundation, L'Oreal Infallible Super Slim eyeliner in black, Maybelline Color Tattoos in Timeless Black and Pomegranate Punk, Ben Nye Cherry Red e/s, Illamasqua Obsidian e/s, Kryolan e/s in burgundy color, Ben Nye Toast e/s, Sleek MakeUp Russian Blue eyelashes #233, Manhattan Xtreme Last Lipliner 44N, Illamasque Pure Pigment in Berber, L'Oreal Infallible gel eyeliner

I hope you try out this look and let me know how you like it!

Masquerade Makeup

This is a fun design you can wear to your next Masked Ball party, or for Halloween! It's very effective and eye-catching, but make sure to allot enough time to pull this off. It isn't something you can pull off in 5 minutes, but the special effort will surely be worth it! ;)

Watch my video tutorial to see how I did this look, or watch directly on Youtube:

Here's a list of all the products I used:

L'Oreal Visible Lift foundation, 120 eyeshadow palette from ebay, Bella Pierre eyeshadow base, Maybelline white eyeliner, MUA eyeshadow #9, Lancome Le Crayon Kohl in Noir, Illamasqua eyeshadow in Obsidian, MAC Blacktrack Fluidliner, Latissé false lashes, OCC Lip Tars in Hoochie, Yaoi and Rx, cosmetic grade glitters from Kryolan and OCC, rhinestones from a craft store, Illamasqua Precision Ink in Alchemy, Kryolan false lashes

3 Oct 2013

The Walking Dead ZOMBIE Makeup

Like this? Pin it on Pinterest!

Stop!!! It's ZOMBIE TIME!!!

In my over 30 Halloween videos that I've made to date, I've never done a zombie! It was time to change that, and I took inspiration from the TV show "The Walking Dead" here. I wanted to create a zombie without all the expensive, technical and time consuming special effects with open wounds and peeling off skin, since most of my viewers probably won't be able to recreate this type of stuff anyway. Plus, special effects ingredients can be really hard to find, and are expensive! So for this you will only need 2, maybe 3 special things which aren't too expensive and easy to find at Halloween or costume stores now.

Watch my step-by-step video to see how I made this look! Or, watch directly on Youtube.

Products used:

White Clown cream facepaint, Kryolan Rainbow Circle "Black Eyes" Body Makeup, Kryolan eyeshadow in a burgundy color, Illamasqua Obsidian eyeshadow, Ben Nye Gray eyeshadow, Ben Nye Cherry Red eyeshadow, MakeupGeek Gel Liner in Poison, Kryolan Film Blood, Ebelin "Beauty Blender" sponge dupe, Manhattan Supersize Mascara, Skindinavia makeup setting spray

Nailpolish I'm wearing:
Manhattan - Ma Marals #16

Just as an aside note, what the hell is with the Blogger picture uploader? Look at the ridiculous filter it added to my original image (same as above). It doesn't even look the same! (The one on the top I just linked from Facebook). It looks so washed out!! Anyone know if this is a new thing with Blogger? I've never seen such a huge difference before. Any help would be useful!

Update: Thanks for the tip, Eva!!! You have to go into your Google+ Settings, and in the options for Photos, make sure the box for "Auto Enhance images" (or something like that) is NOT checked! Wow, how ridiculous Google!! Thanks for never alerting me to that. That "enhancement" is completely unnecessary. Then your photos should look exactly as they are on your computer.

24 Sept 2013

Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cupcakes

Fall is now official, and that means all the beautiful bounty of autumn harvest is upon us! One of my favorites right now is any kind of squash, and these Pumpkin Ginger Spice cupcakes are an absolute delight. The crystallised ginger and spices harmonize perfectly with the sweet squash, and the Maple-Cinnamon Creamcheese frosting is so creamy and luscious. If you're planning to make these for a crowd, be sure to double the recipe as your guests will definitely be wanting seconds and thirds. Seriously, they are that good!

Watch my video tutorial below to get all the step by step instructions, or watch on Youtube.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes

125g / 1 cup flour (I used whole wheat but you can also use white)
50g / 1/2 package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, finely minced
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
30g / 4 Tblsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
115g / 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
50g 1/4 cup white sugar*
50g 1/4 cup brown sugar*
2 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla bean paste (or extract)
220g / 8 ounce pumpkin puree (see recipe below)

*If you use a sugar replacement such as Stevia like I did, make sure to read the package instructions to see the sugar conversion chart. If the ratio is not 1:1 you will need to adjust accordingly.

How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Purée

You will need one Red Kuri Squash or other suitable cooking squash, of which you will use about half of it, depending on the size. (If you make more purée than needed, it keeps well in the freezer in a Ziploc bag for other pumpkin baking recipes.) Wash and cut the squash in half, and remove the inside seeds and stringy flesh in the center. Steam the cubed squash for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Alternately you could also roast them in the oven.

Once fully steamed, they should be very soft and fall from your fork. Use a hand mixer, or a potato masher, to blend to a smooth purée, then allow to cool.

Baking the Cupcakes

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and half of the crystallized ginger in a bowl; set aside.

Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled before you frost them, otherwise you will have a melting mess! It also helps if the frosting is chilled before working with it. Sprinkle the remaining crystallized ginger on top of the frosted cupcakes for decoration.

Maple-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

200g / 8 ounces plain cream cheese
50g / 1/4 cup butter
120g / 1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tblsp. dark maple syrup

Cream the butter in a brown until creamy and fluffy. Then cream together the cream cheese with the butter, to prevent any lumps. Mix in the maple syrup and cinnamon, then gradually whisk in the confectioner's sugar. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Enjoy! Let me know if you make these, how you liked them?

Happy Fall!