Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Make a Fall Centerpiece for Your Table {Tutorial}

I still have so much to harvest from the garden, but the pumpkins and squash are cleaned out. 
They are piled in lumps and groupings all over the farm.
Some are stored for the winter and some will be baked and roasted into a lovely puree to freeze.


Sometimes life just calls for something extra special.
I put together a Fall setting at our kitchen table and everyone was so excited to sit down to dinner tonight.
It would be a perfect Thanksgiving centerpiece!


Everything was from my garden, but you could easily create this with goods from the grocery store, farmer's market, or even a kind neighbor with a garden.



I have friends who tell me that they don't have a creative bone in their body and could never make something like this for the holidays.
I say pshaaw...
Our God is a creative God and He gave each of us the ability to create in different ways.



Would you like to put together something similar?

Here is a little "how to." {smile}

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

1 bigger squash for the center
2 orange pumpkins about 8 inches tall
2 white pumpkins or squash in a light color, about 8 inches
4 smaller squash like acorn or butternut
2 small vases of flowers
2 candles
various other small squash or mini pumpkins, pine cones, leaves, branches
table runner...if you have one :)
cake stand



First, place your bigger squash of your choice in the center of the table on the cake stand and add two candle sticks off to both sides.



Next, add your 8 inch pumpkins/squash.
Just like this...

Remember, you can use whatever you can find. It doesn't have to be exactly like the picture.
There are so many beautiful varieties of squash out there!


 Look!
It is starting to really come together.
The third step is to add some of your smaller squash.
I staggered mine, can you see?
I placed one just in front of the candle stick to fill in space, and then on the opposite side with the other candle.
Don't worry, we are playing with balance, and it will look perfect in the end.

 Now comes the fun part....filling it all in!
Basically, you are looking to fill in spaces with the smaller pumpkins.
I placed them in various spots and tried to keep the color balance right. 
Things don't have to be symmetrical, but if you are nervous, then whatever you do on one side, do it on the other.
So, if there is a little orange pumpkin next to the white one on one side, do it on the other end.
Look for big open spaces and fill in!



Last, you are going to add in all of the little stuff.
I placed my flowers just to the side of the candles.
On either side I added pine cones next to the smaller pumpkins.


 I had some small pine cones that I spread on either end, and then tucked in a few leaves.
They had berries which was such a bonus!
Tuck in all kinds of little details to fill in space.
Move things around if they don't look pleasing to the eye and if you are struggling, remember to balance things by repeating on each side.


Enjoy...and have fun!
Creating with nature is so lovely.

Wishing you a warm Fall day.

~Julia

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nutty Buddy Cookies

I made these delicious cookies the other day that resemble Aussie Bites from Costco.
The kids promptly gobbled them up.
The were a taste a goodness ~moist and chewy, yet super healthy!




 

I found the recipe HERE.

Hope you have a lovely Fall day filled with treats!

~Julia


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today...

The colors.
Oh, the Autumn colors are permeating the view.
It's a treat to see such beauty.


Do you love the Fall, too?

~Julia

Monday, October 20, 2014

Firewood

That crisp and sappy, fresh wood smell is just Fall to me.
I love cutting and stacking firewood....even though my kids do a little more of it because my hands are laden with other obligations.
I still love it.

We don't have the luxury of a wood stove, but Nannie {my Mom} does.
My hubby cuts the rounds and then we do the rest.
My Dad made the log splitter years ago and I spent many hours using it as a child.


There is just something about a a crisp Autumn day and the sound of wood cracking.
The smell of leaves and sawdust saturating the air.


I love it that Tim has Jack in training and lets him run the lever as he carefully places the rounds in.
Jack feels pretty proud that he is old enough to finally help split.

We usually plop a couple of big fat rounds on the ground to use as a seat.
And away we go.
A log splitter is a wonderful investment.
Really...it is if you are putting away cords and cords of wood :).


It's a good workout and such a satisfying view when all of that timber is piled high!


Next up on the list...

taking apples in to get pressed for cider.


We are drinking the last little bit in the pantry.
A warm cup with a little cinnamon in the morning is a perfect treat.

Enjoy your day!

~Julia

PS: If you are wanting to can apple cider HERE is a great link!

Friday, October 17, 2014

On Living Simply: Clutter

"Thanks makes now a sanctuary." ~Anne Voskamp


In a culture inundated with more....more options, more gadgets, more programs for our kids, more food choices, more clothes, more stuff, more busyness...I find it is just MORE stress.

Simplicity is about the paring down.
About choosing only what you need and valuing those items that make your life easier.
Thankful for those things which are blessings to you.

As I am giving away and organizing spaces in our home, I realize that having less clutter just evokes a more peaceful home.
More of a sanctuary from a world that is fast and complicated.
Clutter= stress.
It takes up space, it takes up time because you have to move stuff around for MORE stuff to come in, and that time not spent on clutter gives you freedom!

A simple home is one run by thanks.
So what are you truly thankful for in your home today?
What items do you need to make like run smoothly?

I have a rule that I mostly abide by: When one thing comes in, one thing goes out.
That is true of everything! 
If I buy a new book, one goes out.
If the kids get new clothes, just as many are donated.
If I find a new kitchen gadget, I look through my cupboard and give away something I haven't used in years.

There is FREEDOM in having less.
There is way less WORK in having less and you have a home that runs more efficiently.
Which gives you the time for MORE.

More of the good things,
Time with your kids.
Time for a craft you love.
Time for that home cooked meal.

So, when I am de-cluttering a space, I ask myself these questions...

1. What items have sat here for over a year without being used?

2. If my house and belongings were all gone tomorrow, what would I need to just survive?
{I know this sounds funny, but I try to go down to that level, plus a little more :)}

3. If something is sentimental, can something else go?

4. Are there open spaces?

This is a big one.
You know you have pared down enough when you have extra space in your closet, bookcase, shelf.
Don't panic and think you need to fill it up!
There is supposed to be extra space.

I think simplicity looks a little different for each of us because we are all unique.
So don't compare yourself to other people who might be living your "idea" of a simple life.
Create your own special, wonderfully unique picture of simplicity.
After all, it's about living smaller in order to live larger.



~Julia

Ginger Pumpkin Bread


Ginger Pumpkin Bread
{Makes 2~ 8.5x4.5 inch loaves}

Unsalted butter, room temp for greasing pans
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 2 8.5 x 4.5 inch pans with butter.
In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, except sugar.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine pumpkin puree and sugar until well mixed.
Add the eggs and oil, mix until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
Alternately add the flour mixture in two batches, along with the buttermilk,
Combine well.
Divide batter between 2 pans.
Bake for 55-60 minutes until fork comes out clean in the center.
Let cool for 10 minutes, remove loaves from pans and cool completely.
Bread can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 4 days.
It also freezes well!

Enjoy!

~Julia

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today...

Today I am enjoying...


Little boys hanging from wheel lines.

Christmas music. Yep. It's around the corner!

This book. 

Ideas, ideas, ideas for the holidays.

Chewy and moist cookies...I added pumpkin. One from my favorite blogs!

Fuzzy little calf.

Leaves bright and fluttery in the breeze.

Potatoes freshly dug and boiled, mashed to a creamy goodness by son #2.

Boys working on things to sell.

Evening soccer games with the sun dripping it's last rays for the day.


How about you?
What are you enjoying today?

Do tell,

~Julia

Monday, October 13, 2014

On Living Simply

The days warm more slowly and the sun hides it's face earlier and earlier each day.
The return to our smallish and cozy house from a summer outside always causes me to want to clean and organize, purge what isn't needed, and streamline the stuff accumulated over many a month.

Over the years as our family has grown, and our little house has hugged us all a bit more closely, the return to simplicity has been one of necessity and great comfort in our lives.



Simplicity is fulfilling.
It is about living intentionally and with purpose.
It is about living with the things that you truly love and care about, and having a grateful heart that it is all enough.

Simplicity just oozes with contentment.
It really is a peaceful place to be...where your family, your routine, your home reflect your values.


So, we set out to enjoy all of these Indian Summer days while they last; setting out to conquer many a task that needs attention before the first snowfall.


And inside?
 I am paring down for a snug winter.
Looking for only those things that are truly necessary.
Purging and making room to breathe so that our home is more calm.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty of what is needed and what is not.

How about you?

Does Autumn just beckon a good and thorough cleaning and sorting...to make life a little more simple?

Wishing you all a happy Autumn day.
Enjoy it!


~Julia


Cinnamon Apple Fritters with Maple Glaze

Apple Fritters.
Need I say more?
My boys come running with crisp pink apples from our tree.
I say, "What about a fritters?"
No one declines...

So, those deliciously sweet and tart all-at-the-same-time, fresh apples turned into a delectable dessert.

CINNAMON APPLE FRITTERS with MAPLE GLAZE

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
dash salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. maple flavoring
2 TBS. butter, melted
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
3 cups chopped apple {into very small pieces}
oil for frying


POWDERED SUGAR GLAZE
 1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs milk
1/2 tsp maple flavoring

Mix all dry ingredients together.  Slowly add the wet ingredients, leaving the apple out. 
Mix until well combined but not overly beat, then gently fold in apple pieces. 
The batter should be like a light cake mix. 
Heat the oil.
You want enough that the doughnut pieces will float in the pan.
 The oil is ready when a test drop of dough floats to the top of the oil or a drop of water sizzles. 
Using a slotted spoon, place a 4-5 balls of dough into the oil. 
Be careful not to overcrowd and watch carefully for the underside to turn golden brown.
 Then flip over and continue frying until brown on the other side.
 Try and make them the size of golf balls, otherwise the dough won't cook in the center.
Ideally, your oil temperature should be around 365° F. 
It is always a good idea to test one to ensure it comes out like you are expecting.

Place on a plate with paper towels to drain and cool.
Top with the maple glaze right away.

Enjoy!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Pancakes on an Autumn Sunday

Sometimes a crisp Sunday morning calls for an extraordinary breakfast of the pumpkin sort.
All browned and puddled in butter, with a sprinkle of white powdered sugar.


Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
{serves about 12}

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

 1 tsp. vanilla

 1 tsp. maple flavoring

1 tbs. brown sugar {or use stevia to taste}

2 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter {or coconut oil}

3 tsp. baking powder

1 cup flour {or almond @ 2 cups,  (1)white, or (1) whole wheat}

 1 cup milk or almond milk {+more if needed} 

1/8 tsp salt.

Mix up and fry in butter.
Enjoy!

Here is a way to make your own pumpkin puree, if you have a few pumpkins hanging around.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Today I Love...

Roasted Tomatoes

Delicousness picked right from the juicy vine...


Fill a sink with clean, cold water and soak your tomatoes.

 After they are cleaned, slice in half lengthwise.
Romas are the best, but I use everything.

 Have a little bowl of olive oil set to the side and dip the halved tomatoes in.
Place tomatoes skin side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and coriander.
I just take about 4 pinches of sea salt and spread across tomatoes and about the same with the coriander.
You could also use basil and garlic.


Roast at 200 degrees for 3 hours, or at 300 degrees for about 2 hours.
The tomatoes should be about 1/3 of their size and still juicy.

Let cool, and then freeze in ziploc bags.
This is one of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes. 
You can thaw them and use them straight into a soup or casserole.
I really want to try sauteing them in olive oil, the blending for a sauce for pizza this winter. 

Oh yum!


~Julia
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