Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Candy Bar Cookie Redo

On Sunday, I posted about my disappointment with the final result of these cookies. Well, I am happy to stay that I modifications were successful this time. 

I used the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe that is printed on the back of the package. Instead of adding the chocolate chips, I added a bunch of candy. And I add a lot! I used the same candy - mini M&Ms, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats and Nestle's Buncha Crunch - as I did on Sunday. But I used A LOT more. The original recipe calls for a cup and a half of candy. I used well over 2 cups in this version.

I also made the cookies  a little bit bigger this time. All in all, I am very happy with the redo of these cookies and highly recommend using some of your left over Halloween candy for some cookie making!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Welcome Halloween

This has to be my favorite wreath that I have created. It definitely takes some time to complete. It is definitely not the cheapest DIY wreath either. But the finished product looks great!

Of course, the inspriration came from Pinterest. The best thing about this is how easy it is. Each part takes time, but not a lot of brain power. I cut my ribbon around 5 inches. My hot glue gun got quite a bit of use as well. I went through quite a bit of glue. As I have done a few of these types of projects, I have realized that the repetition of these projects is really relaxing for me.

I went with a black, orange, purple and green scheme. There was also a little white and yellow to add some contrast to the dark colors.

I tried to keep everything separate. I didn't want to clump the patterns together. This made it easier to make sure that I was using a variety of ribbon.

Adding all the ribbon to the wreath form was time consuming, but it was easy to see the progress being made. It felt like I was moving forward with this project.

While the wreath looks done from the front, I need to finish off the sides. But I ran out of glue and I wanted to enjoy it all of October.

On Etsy, I have seen a similar wreath be sold for up to $100. After doing this wreath myself, I can definitely understand that. I easily spent over $30 in ribbon alone.

I might do another one of these wreaths for St. Patrick's Day. It is super cute and I have gotten a lot of compliments on it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Candy Bar Cookies

These cookies looked so yummy in this pin, but I was less than thrilled with the final result. The cookies were flat and hard. I prefer a chewy cookie. I didn't even take a picture of the final product because I didn't like how they looked.

I loved the idea of adding lots of different kinds of candy to the dough. I picked out my favorite candy, which included LOTS of chocolate.

I used 4 different kinds. The recipe called for 1 and half cups, but I would definitely use more the next time. Even with cookies spreading out, there didn't seem to be a lot of candy in the cookie. I was hoping these would be chock full of candy. 

Even though I was disappointed with how these cookies turned out, I still really like the concept. It is a fun take on a Halloween cookie with all the candy. Of course, these would be great any time of year. Next time, I am going to use my chocolate chip cookie dough as the base and add lots more candy. I have lots of left over candy and a Halloween potluck this week so my second attempt may come this week!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekend Links - Pinterest Edition

Here are some great posts I found this week while roaming among the 31 Days blogs.

If you are like me, you have tons of pins on multiple Pinterest boards with great plans to make them....someday. Here a few determined bloggers who are making some of the pins on their boards.

This is actually a pin I have pinned, but it is nice to see someone else actually try it. Kati from Kati's Little Corner of the World made this cute little heart shaped cupcakes! I definitely have to try these at some point.

Pumpkin bliss!! This time of the year there is pumpkin overload. Good thing I love pumpkin! These little pumpkin donut holes/mini muffins look so yummy! Rachel at The Purposeful Wife made these little treats for a play date and were a hit! I might have to try them out on my family in couple of weeks.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Keeping Autumn Clean

I love Bath and Body Works. There is just something about smelling good. There may also be a slight possibility that I am obsessed with their hand soaps, just a slight chance. The fact that I have bottles upon bottles might be an indication. But I just can't help myself!

Of course, the seasonal scents smell so delicious. And they are hard to resist with names like Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, Pumpkin Cupcake (to go in my cupcake-themed kitchen!), Creamy Pumpkin and Pumpkin Caramel Latte. See the common demoninator? 

There were also some outdoor scents that were just heavenly, like Sonoma Vineyard Berries, Aspen Autumn Day, Heartland Harvest Maramalde, Vermont Sugar Maple and New England Autumn Bouquet. It is just wonderful!

I usually end up over buying and then have more than I can get through. But next comes the Christmas scents and, heaven forbid, I overlap seasonal scents! It is just another way to add a little autumn flair to my bathroom and kitchen. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Holiday Disappointment

Last week, I talked about the pains of hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner. Well, disappointment has already set in. My brother and his family are not making the trip to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law is heading back to work from her maternity leave at the beginning of November and can't get the extra time off to travel.

To say I was disappointed would put it mildly. There may have been some tears shed after I found out that they weren't coming. I had plans! I wanted everything to be special! And now it isn't going to happen.

Instead, they will be going to my mom's house the weekend before Thanksgiving. I guess we will be celebrating a little early this year.

My disappointment wasn't stemming from the fact that I wasn't going to be able to host Thanksgiving. Just like many families who live far a part, we can't always spend the actual holiday together. Schedules conflict. Traveling, especially holiday traveling, is difficult and tiresome. The holidays don't feel the same when they are celebrated at a different time.

I was spoiled growing up in that we didn't travel during the holidays. We were always able to eat Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving and open Christmas presents on Christmas. Now that my brother and I are older and live hundreds of miles apart, it is harder to do that. And my brother needs to spend time with his in-laws during the holidays, as well. It isn't fair for them to sacrifice their family time, either. But it is hard not to be jealous when they live in the same area and can be a part of their everyday lives if they choose.

While the disappointment is still there, I need to remember that I am thankful for my family everyday and not just on the fourth Thursday in November. Whether my family is all in one geographic location or in three different places, I hope they are making wonderful holiday memories.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Latte there anything more that I need to say about this? It is truly autumn in a cup!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Great Expectations

I had great hopes of decorating my apartment for fall. I had visions in my head of what it should look like. Here it is the last full week in October and I haven't finished decorating. There is stuff out, but it doesn't look very nice.

So from my Fabulous Fall Pinterest board, here are some of the projects that I wanted to do, but didn't get to start.

I am beginning to realize that I need to take advantage of the early displays of seasonal decor so I can get all these projects done. It isn't as fun to have to rush to get them done when you already want to have them displayed. You can't enjoy the decorations as long.

Here's hoping to getting everything done next year!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Pumpkin Kisses

These cookies are a fun twist on the tradition peanut butter blossoms, if you love pumpkin. And I do! 

The pumpkin kisses can be a little hard to find. I found mine at Target and I either see tons of bags or no bags of these little treats.

So if you can find these little gems, I highly recommend trying these cookies out. Click here for the link to these wonderful cookies.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weekend Links - Food Edition

Here are some great posts I found this week while roaming among the 31 Days blogs.

Who doesn't love convenience? But lately, packaged food has lost is appeal even if I want something quick. Good Cheap Eats is focusing their 31 Days posts on DIY Convenience Food. This recipe for Easy Chicken and Cheese Flautas look super yummy. I can't wait to try them.

I love potatoes! This recipe for Snack Mix Roasted Potatoes looks absolutely delicious! Laura from Trains and Tutus linked to Vittles and Bits for this recipe. I can't wait to make these.

Although I haven't tried freezer cooking before, it has something I have wanted to do. This recipe for Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili from The Architect and The Artist looks especially good. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Scent of Fall

I love burning candles, especially during the fall and winter. There is something about those smells that make me a little nostalgic. For me, the scents evoke a peacefulness. They can be comforting.

I found one of my all-time favorite scents last year at Bath and Body Works - Marshmallow Fireside. It is heavenly! Its name describes it accurately. It is sweet and smoky all at the same time. But it is a fall scent. When it was on sale after Christmas last year, I couldn't bring myself to buy it because it smelled too much like fall. If I had been using my noodle, I would have stocked up for this year!

My mom pointed out another new favorite for this year - Leaves. This scent is quintessential fall. According the description on Bath and Body Works website, it is a blend of gold nectar, red apple and spiced berries. Whatever it is, it is wonderful! 

Just thinking about these candles get feeling all cozy. One thing great about these candles is the scent. It travels well and smells great. The thing I don't like is that they burn so quickly! But I have a project for those leftover candle jars! I just have to burn through them.

What are your favorite fall candles?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thanksgiving Hosting Pains

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am hosting my first Thanksgiving this year. Although it is only for my mom, brother, sister-in-law and niece, I want everything to go perfectly. I want everyone to have a good time and for it to be a memorable experience, especially since it is my niece's first Thanksgiving.

My kitchen counter space is incredibly small. My lack of space is definitely going to make cooking lots of food an issue. My mom will help with everything, but their may be some testy moments because there just isn't a lot of space to spread out. I am definitely not going to cook a full turkey. Too much food for too few people. That is one of the challenges of cooking a big dinner for a few people. There is always tons of food leftover!

Besides cooking plans, I have sleeping arrangements to be concerned about. My mom is actually contemplating putting my brother and his family up in a hotel since they will have my niece, Brynley, with them. In addition to the three of them, my mom and and her dog will be staying with me and my dog. So that is 4 adults, 2 dogs and one baby in a 2 bedroom apartment - a lot of people in a small space.

No matter what happens over the Thanksgiving holiday, I am looking forward to being all together. We haven't been together as a family since June and that was before my beautiful niece was born.

A lot of people stress out about making sure everything is perfect, and I am sure I will fall into that category too. But next year, no one will care how perfect the centerpiece was or if dinner was served on time. They will remember who they spent the day with. Hopefully, it will be an enjoyable time.

I Believe

At first, I didn't know what I wanted to write about for the Blog Hop. And then it jumped into my head. One of the questions for the chapter 1 Reflection Questions asked if one of the promises that had been mentioned in the previous question spoke to our greatest need right now. I answered with "See, I am doing a new thing!" from Isaiah 43:19.

When I woke up the next morning, this phrase ran through my head over and over and over.

I believe God's Word is true, no questions asked. But since my Christian walk is not where it should be, I choose to believe God will not work in my life that way because my faith is not where it should be. But I belive God is able to work however and in whatever manner He chooses.

"See, I am doing a new thing!"

In the last several months, I have been thinking about where God wants me. If I move back home to Ohio, which is where I really feel like I am being led, I would have to find a job in an area that has struggled to recover after being hit hard by the economy. But this week, I found out that I am going to be working from home full time. This may allow me to move back to Ohio without finding a new job. I believe if Ohio is where God wants me He will provide a way no matter the obstacles.

"See, I am doing a new thing!"

God isn't asking for my help to change the circumstances in my life. I often try to take control of the reins, then fail, then doubt. Those negatives thoughts start to invade my thoughts.
"I can't do this."
"I am not good enough."
"why should I expect anything different?"

But if I would listen and trust God, He is saying, "See, I am doing a new thing!" He may also add, "Colleen, please get out of my way and let me do this." :)

I am getting in the way of seeing God work in my life because I doubt. I look back and see what I want to see. I am not looking at the situations where God has evidently worked in my life to get me where I am today. Evidence that I can be confident in...that I should be able to live in and trust God, not just trust in God. Believe God and not just believe in God. There is a difference and I am starting to understand what it means in my life.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Football Fanatic

Football is a great love of mine. College football on Saturdays and NFL on Sunday. Even if my teams aren't playing, I will still have a game on.

Being from Ohio, I am an Ohio State fan. Go Bucks! I didn't go to Ohio State, but it is still my home state team. In Toledo, people are decked out in the scarlet and gray gear on Saturdays. It is great! I do see as many people decked in their college football gear in Pittsburgh.

Since I grew up about 45 minutes away from the University of Michigan, there are a lot of people who cheer for that other team. Traditionally, the Ohio State/Michigan game was played on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Now it is played the Saturday after. I can't explain the electricity in Toledo, Ohio, on that day. It is fun!

I was also born and raised a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. My parents brought me home from the hospital in a Steelers sleeper. No pink frills for me. Unfortunately, the Steelers are having a less than stellar year, although they did just get their first win on Sunday. It is almost hard to watch them play because they just don't seem to have the same tenacity they once did. It is disappointing to see. I see Heinz Field on my drive home from work. It is a pinnacle in the Steel City. The Steelers had quite a few decades of success, so I guess thinking that it was always going to be like that is a little naive. But I will continue to cheer and be a Monday morning quarterback!

Are you a football fanatic on the weekends?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Palooza

I love pumpkins! Even the orange pumpkin color represents fall. Although now I am obsessed with white pumpkins. They are so pretty! The traditional with a touch of modern.

I found these ceramic white pumpkins at Hobby Lobby over the summer. I HAD to have them. I didn't know where I would put them, but I loved them. When I went to finally buy them, they were no where to be found and my heart sank just a tiny bit. But they were hidden in a display that I very carefully dismantled to get my pumpkins. Right now they are on my dining room table in a little display. They are going to be my favorite fall decoration to uncover each year.

I have a few other pumpkins around my apartment. I have metal pumpkins that I got about 10 years ago. Even after all these years, I love seeing them. It reminds me that it is fall even if the temperature outside is 80 degrees.

I had great plans of this post being about a cute little pumpkin decorating idea that I originally saw in HGTV magazine from one of my absolute favorite designers, Sarah Richardson. I am not really into pumpkin carving, but this idea is great to use if you are tight on space in a glass vase. You wrap ribbon around the pumpkin. That is it!

Another similar idea found on Pinterest is to tie ribbon around the stem of the pumpkin. You could do this with big or small pumpkins. I stopped in the grocery store last night to look at their pumpkins, but I wasn't ready to commit to doing this yet. Maybe I will do this a little closer to Thanksgiving.

Do you like decorating with pumpkins?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

My dad came across this recipe several years ago. While I am not sure if this is the same recipe he used, it is probably pretty close. There is something about adding the pudding that makes these chocolate cookies stay really soft...and really good!

I was hoping that adding the pumpkin spice pudding mix would give it a little pumpkin flavor, but it didn't. There might be an ever so slight taste, but nothing to write home about. The original recipe calls for vanilla pudding mix and there isn't an overwhelming vanilla flavor with those. But I was crossing my fingers that these would have a little special fall flavor.

One thing the pudding mix did was darken the cookie dough. So I guess you could say that they have a seasonal appearance. :)

Even though I was a little disappointed that the pumpkin flavor didn't shine through, the cookies still turned out very delicious. I can't complain about that. 

The recipe that I used came from See Aimee Cook. If you stick with the traditional vanilla pudding or try the pumpkin spice cookie, you can't go wrong with this recipe. It is a definite keeper!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Weekend Links - Books Edition

Here are some great posts I found this week while roaming among the 31 Days blogs.

Reading is great...especially in the cold winter months! I think there is something so comforting about reading a good book under a really soft blanket. It's Our Pinteresting Life is doing their 31 Day series on Getting Cozy. That just sounds wonderful! Last week, they listed some great books to read during the cold fall and winter months.

Debbie from Simple Joys of Home also put together a list of books to read through the colder months. Seeing all these wonderful books makes me want to check out from the world and get lost in another.

If you like non-fiction books, the Deliberate Reader is posting 31 Days of Great Non-Fiction. For a long time I was strictly a fiction reader outside of faith-based books. I have started reading non-fiction and have found that I really enjoy them.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Taste of Fall

Flavoring my morning coffee is an absolute must. Every year, International Delight comes out with season creamers. Pumpkin Pie Spice is one of my seasonal favorites. There is something about the aroma of the creamer and the taste is definitely all fall! Even though I drink coffee with creamer every day, there is something special when these seasonal flavors come out. My morning coffee becomes a little more special.

Unfortunately, finding it this year has been quite a challenge. It must be a favorite of many people!

Do you have seasonal coffee creamer favorites or do you stick to tried and true flavors?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Been There, Didn't Finish, Loved It!

I changed the title a little bit. I participated in the last study Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. Unfortunately, I fizzled out. Keeping up with my personal relationshp with God is a constant struggle for me. I started off very strong with the last study. I worked on it every night and really enjoyed what I was learning, reading the different blogs on the Blog Hop and learning about other women during Tweet It Up Tuesdays.

Then one night, my schedule kept me out late and I didn't work on the study. Then I didn't do it the next night either. But instead of just working at my own pace to continue, which is completely encouraged, I stopped. I said no to God.

Thankfully, God's mercies are new every morning. And I can start fresh again.

Confidence is something I struggle with, even in my relationship with God. The feeling of unworthiness can be overwhelming at times. But God doesn't look at me that way, which is completely baffling. He loves me even though I am covered in the grime and muck of this world. He loves me when I don't believe in myself.

In God's perfect timing, this study is starting when my job security is very shaky. My company was acquired this week and right now I am in limbo as I wait to hear what the future of my position will be. God has a plan for me and I can't forget that. He knew this was coming and knows how it will shake out. I have a constant bubble of nervousness in my stomach. My confidence is pretty low.

I can't wait to see what God has in store for me during this study!

Giving My Thanks

Last week, I shared how I wanted my family to know how thankful I am for their part in my life. This week, I am sharing how I am intending on doing that.

A long, long time ago, more like 10 or 11 years ago, I was really into scrapbooking, stamping, making my own cards and things like that. Then I got out of it because I didn't have the time, I moved away, etc. My mom even sold all of my stuff for me. I didn't think I would ever need it again. WRONG!

This summer when I made the invitations to my sister-in-law's baby shower, the bug bit me again. But this time, I had no supplies. I was off to Michaels, Joann and a local stamp store to buy all new ink pads, paper, paper cutter, punch cutters so I could make these invitations.

I haven't made any cards since, but to remedy that, I want to make cards for each of my family members to include by their plates for Thanksgiving, even my not-quite-two month old niece. I bought my paper and accessory supplies this weekend, but if I don't start working on those cards now, I won't get them done in time. I am what they call a procrastinator. 

In writing these cards, I want my family to know that I don't appreciate them just because they are family and that is what families are supposed to do. I want them to know that I appreciate the things they do even if they don't realize they are doing it. How just by being who they are, I am thankful for their part in influencing my life.

Two years ago, I lost my dad the Friday before Thanksgiving. And with Thanksgiving, those memories come back because we had to jump right in our first holiday season without my dad. Unfortunately, death has a way of putting things into perspective that would never have been seen otherwise. While death isn't a fun thing to think about, it is a part of life and I don't know what the next day, week or year will hold for me or my family. But I never want them to doubt how I feel about them.

How have you shared your thankfulness for the special people in your life?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

AppleFest Galore

It was an AppleFest frenzy this past weekend! With my mom in town, we visited two different AppleFests. Even with all the fun, the only thing missing was the cooler temperatures. It is strange to be looking at Halloween and Christmas items in 80 degree weather. And on top of that, it was muggy. Not my favorite combination.

On Friday, we traveled to Franklin, PA, for their annual fest. It was incredible. I have heard about this event from several people including my aunt who goes every year. I like to look around at all the vendors and also get ideas of things I could possibly make. This event definitely did not disappoint. Even on a Friday, people were everywhere.

I have never been to Franklin, but it is a really cute little town. It definitely as that small-town America feel to it. Old buildings with store fronts and big historical houses make up their downtown. The Applefest held in a park in the middle of the town.

Some of these events can be hit or miss with the types of vendors that participate. But the vendors that participated were great! No expecting to find some of these treasures, I took some cards so I could do a little online shopping later. I did make a few purchases. A really cute wood turkey and a painted wooden snowman. 

Saturday, was the annual AppleFest in my parents' hometown of Mars, PA. We usually go not just to see the vendors, but to see family. The morning starts with a pancake breakfast and then a trip around the little downtown area for browsing. I saw more vendors selling apple related food - apple butter, apple dumplings, apple pie.

I haven't been to this event in a few years, but it has definitely grown. Not nearly as big as the one in Franklin, it was still a fun weekend.

My mom and I have even started talking about going next year. All in all, it was a fun weekend filled with autumn-related activities!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Easy Peasy Fall Project

To be honest, I haven't even started to really decorate for fall and it is already getting close to the middle of October. Every time I go into my basement, I see the orange and black rubbermaid tote and think that I really need to at least bring it upstairs so I can start to decorate. It is pretty pathetic.

To help get in the spirit of decorating for this season, I made these really cute and super easy candle displays. It was inspired by a pin on Pinterest, which turns out to just be a picture. But I think the concept is easy to grasp without a step by step tutorial. Start to finish, this took about 5 minutes total.

I used glass vases and candles from Dollar General, which helped keeping this project on the less expensive side of DIY decorating. Let's be honest, some of these inspirations can get pretty pricy. I dumped some corn kernels inside the vase and nestled the candle on the top. You can push it into the kernels a little bit so you don't see the bottom of the candle. And it is done!

I don't know exactly where I am going to put them, but at least it is one more thing I can check off my autumn to-do list!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Last year, I found a cookie recipe on Pinterest that I had to try - Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. I love snickerdoodles and adding pumpkin seemed like it would only make one of my favorite cookies that much better.

These are fantastic cookies. They are really easy to make. They stay soft when many snickerdoodles get hard after a few days. Last year, I brought these to my brother and sister-in-law's for Christmas. They were a hit. We would eat them for breakfast because the go extremely well with coffee. I am not saying this is the best time to eat cookies, but it was the holidays.

I made 2 minor adaptations. The first was that I used butter in place of the margarine. The second was not adding ginger to the cinnamon sugar coating. But that was only because I didn't think I had any on hand. I did find a rather large completely full jar a few days later. Either way, these cookies are a great way to introduce the fall season.

Click here for the recipe. It is a must try!