Monday, December 22, 2014

Rustic Christmas Tree

I am loving my family room more and more with each passing day. One of the reasons at the moment is my beautiful Christmas tree.

When I bought my house, I knew that I wanted my family room to be cozy. Naturally, I wanted that same feeling at Christmas time. With a few additions to decorations I already had, my rustic Christmas tree came to life.

I saw this Crate and Barrel tree collar on Instagram and knew that it needed to a part of my tree. I absolutely love it! It is a nice change from a tree skirt.

Burlap had to be incorporated into this tree somehow. It became the garland and is a nice accent.

Many moons ago,  I learned how to make bows for gift packages. I have made larger bows for  my trees in the past, but didn't feel like it would work for this tree. I also had no other idea of the direction I wanted to go. While roaming through Pier 1, I found this reindeer that is actually a really large ornament. It ended up being the perfect tree topper. It is just the right size.

The last addition was ting. Hobby Lobby had a glittery white kind that added a little flair.

The family room inadvertently also because the reindeer room. In addition the tree topper, I had these fun sparkly reindeer ornaments.

I have had these purple ornaments for over 10 years -  before I even had a tree. I am happy that they worked with the new rustic theme. It gave the tree some color and it really pops.

It is hard to believe that Christmas is a few days away. Are you ready??

Monday, December 1, 2014

Baking Center With a Holiday Spin

How can it be December already?!?!? I feel like I missed fall and all the wonderfulness it brings. Nevertheless, time moves on and the holidays are right around the corner.

I am hosting my first Christmas Open House in my new home on Friday, so my schedule is packed with cleaning, cooking and, of course, baking. My baking center is going to make my holiday baking - and all my baking throughout the year - a little bit easier is because everything is close at hand.

Along with my flour and sugars, this cute little Santa basket holds some of the special holiday baking items like M&Ms and Peppermint Hershey kisses. It provides a little fun holiday cheer to this area.

With flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar kept on the counter in pretty canisters, the top cabinet is left with lots of space for baking staples - cocoa, powdered sugar, vanilla, yummy baking spices. It also keeps some of my back stock items and some bowls.

Please don't pay too much attention to my messy drawer, but I know what is in here. Measuring spoons and cups, spatulas, pastry cutter. I am sure as I bake more and more this drawer will become more filled making organization a priority.

The cabinet below is the home for all my baking pans. My cookie sheets are missing, but that is because they have a special spot right next to my range that holds all those big flat items, like my cookie sheets and cutting boards.

Time is ticking away and I need to get baking. First on my list are these yummy White Chocolate Peppermint M&M cookies. Definitely give them a try!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Snapshots Into My Life

What I am seeing through my lens this week.

One of my new favorite things are these Pillsbury pumpkin cinnamon rolls. They only make 5 rolls, so it makes a nice little treat for me without making a bunch of rolls. I definitely needed a cinnamon roll to get my week started.

Monday was unbelievably windy. I was so thankful to be inside working next to my pretty Christmas tree.

I have made zero attempt to clean up my leaves this fall. My front yard doesn't have any trees and doesn't get a lot of stray leaves in it. My backyard was a sea of leaves. My mom and I were going to attempt to tackle the leaf situation, but decided to pay to have it done. Such a good decision.

My family room is quickly becoming my favorite room in the house. I finished decorating my tree on Wednesday and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. And I love my tree collar from Crate and Barrel.

It was a very quiet Thanksgiving for me this year. It was just me and my mom. I made mini pumpkin pies, which turned out very yummy!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Snapshots Into My Life

What I am seeing through my lens this week.

Last weekend started off with the start of a little sickness. Thankfully, the essential oils did the trick!

The sunset on Monday was so beautiful! Of course, the camera didn't do it justice.

Starbucks has a new holiday flavor - chestnut praline latte. It may be my new favorite. It was so good.

My mom and I went to see Saving Christmas on Friday. It was a wonderful way to start the season and not forget the real reason why we celebrate.

My Christmas party is in 3 weeks. I am not ready for it at all, but I started decorating by putting up a tree in my office.

Friday, November 14, 2014

One Mess At A Time - The Office Bookcases

Is it really the middle of November already? The last few weeks have gone by so fast. The holidays are just a round the corner and I am not ready for them at all.

I am having a Christmas Open House in a few weeks, so I am trying to get things organized. In addition to the people who will be coming that are local, my cousin and her family, as well as my brother and his family, are coming. Neither have been here since I moved in, so I want to make sure everything is perfect.

I look at these bookcases in my office every single day and it just got the point where I couldn't stand looking at them anymore. They were such a mess. Books everywhere and the dust was unbelievable.

So it was time to organize these things. I started filling the bookcases because I sounded like I was in a hole when I was on my work phone. Everything echoed.

The first step was cleaning them all off and dusting them. I was already starting to feel better.

I wasn't too wrapped up about making them pretty. This is where the bulk of my books are going to go. They didn't need to be in alphabetical order, but I wanted some order to them. I grouped my books by category. On the bookcase closest to the door, I added my Christian fiction and Christian living books.

The second bookcase is a little more sparse because I still have boxes of books in the garage that still need to be unpacked. That will eventually happen, but probably not until after the holidays.

Getting my house organized is work in progress, but at least it is in progress.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Feathering My Nest - Where to Start

Since this is the last week of October, I decided that I should try to make an effort to finish out the month on a high note. I have not kept up with my Home Sweet Home series and I was really excited about it. But I have also learned that I need to be more prepared.

I started a second job this month at a popular home store, so my nights and weekends just got busier. On the plus side, I have a discount! And I am using the money to help pay off some bills, which I will talk more about next month.

Since I have had my kitchen redone, my dispensable income has dwindled quite a bit. However, this extra time is giving me opportunity to really think through want I want to do with a space.

As hard as it is to do, I am forcing myself to focus on one area at a time to complete. The first area is going to be my entryway.

Right now my entryway is a empty. This is the area I want to make pretty. The wall needs a little touch up painting done by the baseboard. It was damaged when my flooring was going down.

This area isn't very big. The wall is a little over 30 inches wide. My vision is to have a small table with a mirror above it. I found a little cabinet that I like at Hobby Lobby, but I am afraid that the color is too similar to the wall color and it will disappear in the space. My search is still on.

The other thing I want to change is the light fixture. I actually have one to replace it, but I haven't had it changed yet. I wouldn't mind learning how to change a light fixture, but I am terrified of electrocuting myself. I think that job is better left to someone else.

I am excited to get this space spruced up a bit. I want everyone who walks through my door to feel welcome and this will be the start.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baking Buckeyes

I am an Ohio girl through and through, so I am no stranger to buckeyes whether referring to trees, football or candy.

When I was in West Virginia a few weeks ago, buckeyes littered the ground after falling from a tree. I was going to do this little easy craft with acorns, but instead I used buckeyes.

To get rid of any kind of any yuckiness, I wiped the buckeyes off and baked them at 200 degrees for several hours. I didn't see any hole in the buckeyes so I don't think there were any bugs, but better safe than sorry.

Tomorrow, I am sharing where I am using all my buckeyes!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

So I haven't been doing a great job at keeping up with the 31-day challenge. I hadn't prepared as well as I thought and I was in a little bit of a funk last week. Everything suffered from that, including my blog. But I am back at it today with an easy way to stock your pantry with a seasonal favorite - pureed pumpkin!

This recipe came from Portuguese Girl Cooks. It is super easy and is definitely quite a bit cheaper than buying the canned stuff. Even if the can says that it only contains pumpkin, I know for sure that this is 100% pumpkin and nothing else.

I bought my pie pumpkins from a local pumpkin farm. They were 50 cents a piece, so much cheaper than the canned version. The first step is getting all the guts out of the pumpkins.

Then off into the oven, they go! The recommended baking time is 60-90 minutes. I went right in between. Since I had 2 cookies sheets in the oven at once, I rotated them around the halfway mark.

After the pumpkins are finished baking, the flesh is scooped out and then pureed in the food processor. Super quite and easy! And you are left with beautiful pumpkin puree.

Draining the pumpkin is really important. As you can see there is quite a bit of liquid that drained from the pumpkin. I let it sit for about an hour.

I can't wait to use this puree.

From my 4 pie pumpkins, I was able to get about 4 and a half cups of pumpkin puree.  I kept the half cup in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer to use in the future. To swap out a 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree with the homemade version, use about 1 3/4 cups.

The next step is to use this puree. I am thinking cookies!