Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Pumpkin

Hubby (also known as Mike or Sweetie...or for this post, Pumpkin), has celebrated another birthday. He's forty (again). He's decided to stick with forty for another year...or so, and I couldn't help but oblige him.

Here's the Birthday Boy.

I made him a Pumpkin Spice birthday cake using pumpkins from the garden.

It was really delicious...moist and rich.

This is the recipe I used.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Goodness

Two fresh pumpkins were plucked from the garden in order to make our pumpkin soup.

They were cut in half and their pulp and seeds scooped out.

I separated the seeds from the pulp, washed them thoroughly and roasted them. To do so, I spread them on a cookie sheet covered in Canola spray and sprinkled them with salt. After 10 minutes at 325 degrees, I stirred them again and baked them for an additional 10 minutes until nicely toasted.

Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious and some of the most nutritious seeds around. Ours didn't last long.

To make the soup, I took the pumpkin halves and placed them face down in a dish to bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Once they cooled, I scooped out the pumpkin and pureed it until smooth.

Here's the pumpkin soup recipe we used...

3 cups organic pureed pumpkin
3 cups scalded organic milk
1 TB organic butter
1 TB organic flour
2 TB organic brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger

Heat the above ingredients in a saucepan and serve.

This was the easiest and healthiest pumpkin soup recipe I found (no heavy cream). It came from the Joy of Cooking, although I made some adjustments. Also, to make it all the more healthy, I used as many organic ingredients as possible.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Fall Kitchen

Now that it's officially here, I thought I'd give our kitchen a warm cozy look for fall. It's become my tradition to change the open shelves seasonally and I always love the freshness it offers this familiar room.

I usually display my brown transfer ware plates, but this year I thought I'd try something different. I decided to just use art and other mismatched items including a select few brown transfer ware vases and dishes.

I love the warmth that wood and wicker offers.

The little girl and lamb picture is something my Grandmother framed many years ago. As you can see, the image doesn't quite fit the frame. I planned on recycling the frame with another image, but in the end it reminds me too much of her to change it.

Next on our fall 'to do' list is to pick all of the pumpkins! I gave a couple to my friend over the weekend and she in turn made pumpkin soup with them...very inspiring. I planned on using them for pumpkin pies but since the plant produced four times more pumpkins than we anticipated, I do believe that pumpkin soup will be on the menu.

Sounds deliciously cozy don't you think?

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Country Field

We enjoyed a few glimpses of blue sky between the late summer rains we had over this past weekend. This field is down the road from us and as you can see, the deciduous trees are still green but they're beginning to fade ever so slightly...I do believe that fall is in the air.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Country Roses and Guest Blogging

As summer fades with each passing day, I find myself savoring the last of the roses. I will miss them come fall, but they're like an old friend that I know I'll gladly see again.

Today I'm doing a guest post over at Raenovate! Rachel is away on a Cape Cod camping trip and she asked me to do a 'before' and 'after' post on our dining room. In fact, Rachel invited me to do this a couple of months ago so I have her to thank for helping to motivate us to finish the last details of the room. There's nothing like a fast approaching deadline to keep you on target!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dining Room - After

Here's a little sneak peek before I show a few before photos.


This was our original dining room (also referred to as the toll booth). It was long and narrow with a single homemade bay window. Unfortunately, this is the only before picture I have of the original room. It measured about 6 feet by 10 feet.


This is before picture #2. The new structure was reconfigured to 12 ' x 16' and french doors were added at the transition between the kitchen and new dining room. Shortly after completing this round of renovations (which was two years ago now), we knew that we should have put windows on the east wall instead of the dining cabinet (there wasn't room for both). Luckily, we had the foresight to have the contractors put a header in that wall so that we could opt for windows down the road......good thing.

And here are the afters...

We recently added those two new windows on the east wall, which lends a whole new feeling to the room. As you can see, the dining cabinet no longer fit, so instead we hung a nice long mirror.

The antique table is a family piece from my Grandmother's house that I grew up with. It isn't what I would have typically chosen for this room but it has sentimental value and it really is a beautiful piece. We added two leaves to create a farmhouse style feel rather than the square we originally set up.

To create a less cluttered and more open feel, I decided to place chairs on two sides rather than all four. And to lighten the weight of the table, and because I really love the look of Parson chairs, I found slipcovers to fit over the armless dining chairs we had up in the guest house. This was the cheapest way I could attain the Parson chair look without the $500 plus price tag.

We also added a sea grass rug (relocated from the living room as it was too small for that space). I also decided to add curtain sheers to frame the french doors going out to the dining patio.

Because most of the wall space in this room is either windows or french doors, there isn't much space to hang art work. So I decided to lean a piece up against the mirror as I love art in rooms that isn't expected. To learn more about the portrait, go here.

I kept the walls white because I really wanted the room to feel light and fresh. I also wanted the outside to come in so I didn't want colors to distract from that. I'll accent with different things to transition through the seasons (fall decorating is so close!).

Total expense of decorating, not including the two new Marvin windows: $334.98

JC Penny sheers were on sale for $69.99 a pair (I bought two pairs)
Allen and Roth curtain rod and hardware from Lowe's ($95)
Shabby Chic slipcovers from Target ($24.99 each)

Everything else we repurposed from other rooms.

I've included our expenses because an important part of my design philosophy has always been to decorate within a reasonable budget. In this case, we had already spent a lot of money on the new windows, so my goal was to be as creative as possible for the least cost.

I hope that you like our 'new' dining room!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Huckleberry Muffins

I realize that I've been posting a lot on food recently. I would say it's because I'm pregnant and food is on my mind quite a bit but honestly, it has more to do with dragging my feet on other projects. Shall we say these have been the lazy days of late summer?

Not too lazy to make my new favorite muffins though! These come from a Blueberry Muffin recipe from the fabulous gluten-free baking book called, " Gluten-Free Baking Classics," by Annalise G. Roberts. Go here to see the book.

My friend Karen, who follows a strict gluten-free diet, recommended the book. We are not a gluten-free household but these recipes are delicious and I think having variety in your diet is always a good thing.


2 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups unsweetened fresh dry blueberries
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xantham gum, salt and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Add blueberries; stir to coat evenly.
3. Combine milk and oil in small bowl; remove 1 tablespoon of combined liquid and discard it. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add to dry mixture and stir until just blended.
4. Fill muffin pan and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.*
5. Bake 18-25 minutes and until light golden. Cool on rack.

* Cinnamon sugar is 2 tablespoons sugar to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

We happened to have wild huckleberries on hand, so we used those in place of blueberries.

I hope that everyone had a lovely long weekend. We, once again, spent our entire weekend working on the house. The upside is that we accomplished a lot and I'll have some after photos of the dining room in my next post!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Pears

Happy first of September to you! The neighboring orchards are bursting with voluptuous ripe pears. Looking down the long green corridor always makes me want to run wild past the sweet smell of the fruiting branches.

As with the dahlias, the pears bring a bittersweet feeling of joy and melancholy as another September harvest will soon come to a close. But the beauty of the four seasons is that as one season comes to an end, another spectacular new season begins.

Saying goodbye to summer would be so much more difficult if the approaching fall season didn't offer such a wonderful promise of warm fuzzies. Autumn colors, cozy sweaters, misty mornings, quiet evenings, a warm fire...and of course, the anticipation of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And this year, our most anticipated occasion of all - the birth of our sweet little babies. xoxo

Leaving the pear orchards, I found myself singing...

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
A Partridge in a Pear tree...

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear tree...

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear tree...

...and on it goes.

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