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!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Making cookies is one of my favorite things to bake. My dad made cookies all the time so I think I inherited the making-cookie gene from him. And who doesn't love the smell the baking cookies.

Since cookies are a fun treat to have on hand, I decided to use Saturdays during the 31 day challenge to share some cookie recipes.

Last year, I couldn't find Pumpkin Spice M&Ms for the life of me. This year, I got my stash early. In my excitement over finding this autumn delicacy, I may have been a little ambitious with my stash. So off to Pinterest to find something to do with all these M&Ms.

Cue in Inside Bru Crew Life and her Chocolate Pumpkin Spice cookies. They have a little pumpkin, some chocolate and have a enough cinnamon and nutmeg for this cookie to taste like fall.

Definitely give these cookies a try!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Welcoming Autumn

I finally have a front porch that I can decorate! In my last apartment, I had a little landing that I would decorate. It is nice to walk up to the front door and see pieces of autumn welcoming me home.

I made my wreath last year. The ribbon is from Hobby Lobby. I saw it around Memorial Day of last year and knew that I had to do something with it. It became the foundation point for my wreath. The leaves and sunflowers are randomly placed around the bow. One problem I am having this year is that my storm door smushes my bow. I tried to fluff it up a bit for the picture.

I bought mums at the farmer's market last weekend. They are huge and were only $5! A great buy. The container they are in left a little to be desired. I really wanted an apple basket or something simple to put the flowers in. Thankfully, Michaels had the perfect options. These cute baskets are the perfect size. One says Autumn and the other says Welcome, so I can use it all year long.

My pumpkins are making a statement on the porch as well. The bigger one sits by the pillar by the step so it can be seen from the driveway.

The other is sitting next to my Welcome ladder in the corner. I didn't get a good picture of it, but it is because I really need to sweep my porch and that spot is particularly messy. :)

I am really looking forward to decorating my porch for all the holidays and seasons. How are you decorating your porch?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Painting Pumpkins

One way to help keep my decorating budget low is to do some DIY. Today I am sharing my painted pumpkins. This isn't an original idea, but it is cheap and easy. It also adds a little sparkle to plain orange pumpkins.

First, the pumpkins. My mom and I visited Gust Brothers Pumpkin Farm on Saturday and they had so many pumpkins. It was a lot of fun to walk about and pick out what we wanted. It would be so easy to go pumpkin crazy.

While my purchased pumpkins were sitting on the porch, a critter munched on them. I have a few neighborhood cats that wander about and I suspect one of them had a little snack sometime during the night.

Picking colors to paint my pumpkins was actually a little more difficult than I thought. I wanted colors that would stand out against the orange, but still needed to have an autumnal quality to them.

The colors I chose were rust, pearl and gold glitter. I love all things glitter! I really liked the color combination and how they looked against the orange.

I used my handy dandy round sponge brushes to make my little circles. I just punched them on the pumpkins.

The round brushes made it so easy to make quick dots, which is the look I wanted. There was no rhyme or reason to the design.

I was happy with the rust and white colors, but the gold did a weird bubbly thing. I am not sure why, but it still looks okay. These pumpkins were not going to be in any museum as works of art.

The finished product! I am happy with how they turned out. This project took all of about 15 minutes from start to finish. Also, the mess was kept to a complete minimum. Tomorrow I will share where I am using my jazzed-up pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Red Hot Apple Butter

I love apple butter! I have made it several times in the slow cooker and it is always so yummy and super easy. My favorite store in Shipshewana, IN - E & S Sales - carries Cinnamon Apple Butter that is made with red hots. It is a beautiful red color and has a sweet spicy taste. So good!

Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I was able to find a recipe for Red Hot Apple Butter from Sprinkled with Flour! I was beyond thrilled. I knew I had to give it a try.

First, the apples. I am fortunate to be able to go to a fantastic farmer's market that has an apple vendor. They have a huge variety of apples. I picked mostly sweet apples, but I can't remember all the names.

In addition to white and brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice are also included in this wonderful recipe.

Of course, the red hots candies!

Everything is loaded into the slow cooker with some water. This was the first time I have added water  for an apple butter recipe. I am still a little undecided about it. It does make the end result a little more soupy than my previous recipes, but the taste is still fabulous.

After 2 hours of cooking on high, the apples have softened considerably and the red hots candies have melted.

The original recipe said to puree the apples and she used an immersion blender. I don't have an immersion blender and since the cooking time was far from over, I used my potato masher to break down the apples. They still had a little bit of texture to them.

After another 8 to 10 hours of cooking on low, this is the final result. A gorgeous apple butter! And the taste is divine!

I was able to get 5 pints from about 5 pounds of apples. I froze 4 pints so I have lots to keep my apple butter cravings to a minimum.

This recipe is definitely a keeper! Check out Sprinkled with Flour. She has some yummy-looking recipes.