Sunday, October 27, 2013

... the perfect autumn treat :)

Life is too busy, isn't it?

Just when one project closes up ... my mind begins to wander in its dreamy, designing way and pounces on new ideas  - - new goals, and so the cycle continues ... another project is born.

What typically gets lost on my To Do List are my domesticated whims of becoming Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart ... in other words, home cooking & a tidy house!

So ...when I feel that I am a total slacker at home - - I pull out the vacuum and flip the switch to end the reproduction of dust bunnies, tie an apron around my waist to look the part (it actually is quite motivating!), and scour the Internet for a seasonal treat to make for the family ... 

And, boy - did I ever find one!  It's a keeper in my book (and that book is an overflowing Recipe binder that had it's good intentions of becoming an orderly keepsake to be passed down ... but has since become two hard covers that can only be closed by squeezing them tightly so that the folded printouts from will not fall out - - what can I say??  Life's busy.)

So, here we are ... I found this decadent little gem at one of my favorite spots on the web:  Sara Jane Studios.  I am going to share the recipe that I made below, because I did make a couple changes (italicized) ... one of them being NO BUTTER - NO OIL!!!  I substituted the 1 CUP of OIL (Yikes!) for 1 CUP of applesauce - - and it turned out BEAUTIFULLY :)  

Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Makes 2 loaves

Dry ingredients
2 ½ C. all purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp Allspice
2 C white granulated sugar

Wet ingredients
15 oz canned pumpkin puree
4 whole eggs
1 C dark brown sugar
1 C applesauce
2/3 C water
1 tsp vanilla
1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls.  Combine the dry to wet with mixer on low.  Mix ingredients only until combined (don’t over mix) 

  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Grease and flour two loaf pans and pour the batter evenly between the two.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with no gooey batter stuck to it.  Bake for around 50 minutes. 
Note:  If eaten while it is still cooling ... this bread tends to taste a little too spicy.  However, after it is completely cooled, the flavors all meld together and it is perfectly delicious!    

Now ... go on - try the recipe and while it is baking and filling your home with an aroma of such incredible goodness - pour yourself a hot beverage - wrap your favorite sweater around your shoulders - go outside and BREATHE that incredible autumn air.
 14 Fabulous Fall Quotes: Wonderful Words for Autumn!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

... homemade love :)

I'm not sure about you ... but we ADORE Valentine's Day in our house ...

 I wake a couple hours before everyone ... do a quick clean up of clutter, if needed (- - who am I kidding?  It's always needed!)... and deck out the house with lovey-dovey hearts!

 I like my family to be reminded of how much I L-O-V-E them
... even when they are scrubbing their teeth - LOL!

My little guy was the only one in the house who was up for a special breakfast - - my daughter, like my hubby, has her routine and mornings are not her favorite ... need I say more?
 Luckily, my son woke up on the right side of the bed ... I'm thinking it was probably due to my "Good Morning, Valentine" song.  Yes - - I'm that cheesy and/or annoying - - depending upon who you might ask.

I'd like to add that he even came down stairs and walked through the house counting up all of the hearts tucked here and there.  I love that kind of appreciation!!!!  (My daughter would be rolling her eyes right about now ...  :)

Here's a glimpse of my hubby's thoughtfulness ...
... courtesy of the mad-potter skills of Mr. Gary Bowser of The Canvas :)  Isn't it darling??  I fell in love with it as soon as it was brought up from the kiln!  So many times I had wanted to purchase it ... but other things came up and back onto the shelf it would go.  I was stunned when I opened this!

With receiving such a thoughtful gift ... I thought it best to reciprocate a little:
 A homemade Valentine for my favorite guy in the world.

And, since I was feeling all sorts of craftiness ... I created a new dimension to our traditional scavenger hunt ...
 Instead of finding their valentines by way of a trail of clues (which after so many years of clue writing, I'm about tapped) ... the kids needed to find all of the pieces to their heart - put the puzzle together ... and win their valentines!  Sounds great, right?  A little Survivor-esque? 
 Well ... all went well with the exception of my daughter's last piece being MIA.  Truly ... we still can't find it!!  And, the sad thing is -- I was the one to hide them!!  (...too bad I didn't take pics of every one!)  This is my mind -- It is crowded ... cluttered ... hazy ... yet blooming with ideas - - which will be forgotten the next day if not written down!  Frustrating.  However, all was forgiven when she received the "go-ahead" to open her Valentine surprises.  I was not about to withhold the reward because I may be in the early stages of becoming senile ...

We kept the theme with the menu ... Well, I can't take credit for the idea, because I read it somewhere on the Internet ... don't ask me where (LOL)

A Slice of Heaven
Cupid in the Clouds
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 T granulated sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
3 T olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 t salt
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
garlic salt, for sprinkling
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
*makes 1 pizza *

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir water, sugar and yeast together until dissolved.  Add the olive oil and salt.  Stir in the flour until well blended.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Pat dough onto shape on a baking stone/pan, dipping fingers into olive oil as needed, to prevent sticking.  Brush olive oil onto dough and sprinkle garlic salt & Parmesan cheese.  Bake crust for approximately 10 minutes.

Pull from oven and add toppings.  Place back in oven until cheese is melted and crust is golden.

Bon Appetit!
 ... a cheesy slice of heaven :) and a root beer float (a/k/a Cupid in the Clouds)!
 ... our loaded, roasted veggie slice of heaven!

If this is more your style of pizza ... chop up your favorite veggies (we like ours thick!) and place in a baking dish. Drizzle a little EVOO, sprinkle a little flavor (garlic, salt, pepper, etc.) and roast veggies in oven (400 degrees F) for approximately 30 minutes.  Add grape tomatoes halfway through roast.  You will know that they are done when they break open a bit.  

Side note:  It is best to prepare the veggies first before the pizza dough.

I brushed the crust with EVOO & Italian blend cheeses, added roasted veggies and topped it off with another layer of cheesy goodness :)  Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted.


As any mom of a grade-schooler knows - Valentine's isn't just held at home, but in the classroom as well.  So, the night before the party (because that's how it's done here - - we're a house of procrastinators - - it's shameful, really)  ... my husband and I searched out the house for the last minute build of Nate's Valentine's box.  Another vote for L-O-V-E ... Pinterest!  My son saw an army tank and declared it to be the chosen idea... so, here's our version ...
A shoebox, an empty envelope box, an old shirt cut into pieces ... and A TON of hot glue!!  Hats off to the inventors of hot glue sticks and their finger-burnin' guns ... what would we do without them???  We added a dowel rod for the barrel and cupcake flags from the Fourth of July.  This tank was ready for action ... the sugary-friendship kind.

Remember my confession of being a procrastinator??  Well ... on the morning of my son's party, I prepared my share of tasks as a party mom :)  *shake head*  I know.  I was kicking myself as I pulled out my sewing machine and the electric mixer at the same time.  But, I took deep breaths and reminded myself that if a Little Engine Could ... I could.  By God's grace - - I finished, showered ... even ran errands and washed the car before 2:00 p.m.  I don't think He could ignore me that day - - He heard my pleas all morning long! 

The Party Plan ...

Be Your Own "Cookie Boss" (titled by my co-party mom)
Create your own cookie design with heart-shaped cookies & *frosting piping bags

Love Thy Neighbor
Create a card of kindness for the student sitting next to you.

Catch My Heart
Play a beanbag game of "hot potato" with tunes from One Direction :)  Winner receives the handmade beanbag!

*Sugar Cookie Frosting

4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c shortening
1/4 c butter, softened
5 T milk
1 t vanilla extract
food coloring

Blend butter & shortening in large mixing bowl, gradually add sugar and milk.  Add vanilla and beat for approximately 5 minutes, until stiff.  Blend in food coloring, if desired.  Note:  2 T of lemon juice can be added, if baking for Easter/spring cookies.

Whew!  Is it me, or does Valentine's Day seem to be Valentine's Week??  Well - till next year, Cupid, when we meet again :)

Here's looking at you, kid ...

- Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

... pure BLISS - - in a cupcake!

Easy-Peasy Caramel Sauce:
12 T. butter
1 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
3x/4 c. whole milk (do not substitute)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugars together, stir in milk and bring to a boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Scrumptious Cupcakes:
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
12 T butter, room temp
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
3/4 c. whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins.
In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. 
In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.
Add flour and milk, beating on low speed, until just combined - scraping sides of bowl when necessary.
Fill each liner about 3/4 full.
Bake for approx. 20 minutes
Transfer to wire rack and cool.

Delish Caramel Buttercream:
 3/4 c. caramel sauce, completely cooled
3-4 c. powdered sugar, depending upon taste/preference
3 T butter, room temp.
1/2 c. shortening (Crisco)
2 T. milk
Course Sea Salt for topping

Combine powdered sugar, caramel sauce, butter and milk in mixing bowl.  Add approx. 2 c. powdered sugar (1/2 c. at a time) beating slowly and then add the shortening.  Add remaining powdered sugar (1/2 c. at a time), depending on your preference of sweetness.


Once cupcakes are cooled, pipe buttercream onto cupcakes, drizzle with the caramel sauce and sprinkle the course sea salt on top.  Now ... go get yourself a cup of coffee, curl up and get comfy, because your world is about to fall away in one bite!  Forget Calgone!  This trip is much better :)


I made these cupcakes for my hubby's birthday ... he is a fanatic caramel lover!  And, let me tell you ... these are now the requested cupcake for all birthdays - - why?  Because they are INSANELY GOOD! 

I searched and poured over the Internet to find this recipe and was lucky to find it here!  I made a couple tweaks to the buttercream recipe, as I wanted a lighter and stiffer frosting to pipe.  Also, I did not poke holes into the cupcakes and soak in the caramel sauce - - I tried it with one, and it was my opinion that the cupcake seemed too wet.  Trust me ... there is a TON of flavor here and the cupcakes really do not need the extra sauce, as they are moist, crumbly and a knockout!

Note that you will have a good bit of caramel sauce left over.  It's like the gift that keeps on giving :)  Pour it over ice cream (which by the way ... Land O' Lakes makes the BEST Vanilla - it's like custard and only has 3.5 grams of fat in 1/2 cup!!) ... or dip apples for a semi-healthy after-school snack. 

I ended up using most of the remaining sauce as a base for little apple tarts this Halloween.  I peeled and diced up about 4-5 Granny Smith's and cooked them in the sauce.  I then cut out circles of pie crust ... dolloped some caramel apples in the center and topped with another circle.  Make sure to press a fork around the edges to seal.  I brushed egg whites over top and baked at 350 until the crust became golden brown.  Sprinkled with course sugar.

“The measuring and mixing always smoothed out her thinking processes - nothing was as calming as creaming butter - and when the kitchen was warm from the oven overheating and the smell of baking chocolate, she took final stock of where she'd been and where she was going. Everything was fine.”

― Jennifer Crusie, Maybe This Time   Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 5, 2012

... beginning of a new week

... hazelnut coffee, paints & brushes, cozy light and The Family Stone ... I'm a happy girl.

"And now," cried Max, "Let the wild rumpus start."

- Luke Wilson, as Ben Stone

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


When witches go riding,

and black cats are seen,

the moon laughs and whispers,

‘tis near Halloween.

- Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

... creatively busy :)

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
— Mary Lou Cook

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 11, 2012

... pulling over ...

So glad that I remembered to bring along my camera today :)

Photography is the beauty of life - captured.
- Tara Chisholm
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

... leaves of fall - pins on fabric ...

My mind wanders so much during this season ... its as if I'm on stimulus overload.  The changing leaves, the painted skies ... the textured grounds ... the cooler air - - all call to me in soothing waves of inspiration.

My hands are busy with the preparation of a special wall hanging. 

A few weeks ago, I had the loveliest day meeting and creating with a group of the sweetest ladies at a nearby retirement home.
They captured their favorites of autumn on canvas squares using acrylics.  I have taken their beautiful paintings and have been creating a collective wall hanging to feature their work.
I'm hoping to have it all together today ... it's been a LOT of blanket stitches!  But, I am anxious to finish and send it on over to their home for display :)
Happy Wednesday!
Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.
~Author Unknown
Posted by Picasa