Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Everyone!

I am very excited for Halloween today. Ever since I was little, Halloween has felt like just a "warm up" to a wonderful holiday season. My Mom has always embraced holidays 150%, and that is what has led to my love of them. At my Mom's house you can expect at least 100 trick-or-treaters, usually closer to 200 and sometimes 250. My Mom puts together little goodie bags full of candy and decorates her yard. When I was visiting her a few weeks ago I took some pictures of her yard decorations. I wish I could decorate like this, but I don't really have the room, since we live in an apartment. I am sad to say that we have been so busy that this year we didn't even get pumpkins carved.


Well off I go. Time to get ready for our annual Halloween costume party!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bourbon Chicken

This is one of my favorite chicken dishes. Back when my husband and I were poor newlywed college students, actually that was only 6 months ago, we made this all the time. This is quick and easy to make, and I always have the ingredients on hand.

I got this recipe on a great website called Recipezaar. If you haven't been, there check it out! It is full of great recipes that everyday people post and you can rate them after you try them. My 2 favorite features are that you can search for a recipe and then look at the results with the highest rating and you can change the portions you need and then it changes the measurements for you, what a help.

No there is no Bourbon in the recipe. When I first found it on Recipezaar someone had given it a lower rating because there was no Bourbon in the recipe and it was in the name, and that was misleading. Don't be fooled. No Bourbon, just yummy chicken!


Bourbon Chicken
1 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup juice(Orange, Apple or Pineapple work great)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons ketchup
a few dashes of cayenne pepper

-Heat oil in large skillet, add chicken and cook until browned
-Remove chicken
-Add remaining ingredients, heat over medium heat until well mixed and dissolved
-Add chicken back in and bring to a Hard Boil(This is key, it needs to be a hard boil so it will thicken later)
-Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
-Serve over hot rice and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gratitude Journal

What is it about the fall time that makes me feel so grateful for the abundance in my life? My extreme gratitude started a little early this year, somewhere around the beginning of September. I had spent the summer in the first trimester of my pregnancy, and was starting to feel really good. When one day I told my husband that honestly I had had a pretty easy pregnancy and that I felt very blessed to be pregnant, and in the end it would all be worth it. Much to my surprise when I finished, my husband repeated what I had said word for word to make sure that he had typed it right. What you wrote down what I said? He was using the laptop and decided to save what I had said, so I would remember that I said I enjoyed being pregnant. It was then that I realized that I had been complaining a little too much, and really I had nothing to complain about. I am so blessed!

It was then that I decided that I needed to be more grateful! Every single day there are things that I take for granted. I don't want to spend my life complaining and not realizing what I have. So to help my self remain more focused on the blessings in my life, I have decided to start a gratitude journal.

A gratitude journal is not just a regular journal, it is devoted strictly to things that you are grateful for. Spending time everyday focusing on what you have and how you are blessed helps to keep you centered and help you realize how much you really do have.



My beautiful gratitude journal has been embellished with ribbon and chipboard. On the inside there is a quote about gratitude. Reading it puts me in a better frame of mind to recognize how blessed I am. On the top of every page there is a reminder of why I am keeping a gratitude journal. I have stamped phrases like, Today I am grateful for..., I have been so blessed by....,and I have so many things in my life to be thankful for...

What a wonderful time to start a Gratitude Journal! I love the change that I see in myself when I am more grateful. Start a journal today, I promise that you will love it too. If you would like me to make you a very special Gratitude Journal, just let me know, I would love to!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies




Last night our friends had a little pumpkin themed get together. This gave me the opportunity to try out a new pumpkin recipe that I have been longing to try. I was also hoping to make some mini pumpkin pies, but I was out of eggs and my car battery was dead, so everything got postponed until later in the day, leaving time just for the cookies.

This is a Racheal Ray recipe, and it was a huge hit! I was really nervous throwing a new recipe together just minutes before we went to our friends, but this was quick, easy and very delicious.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.

Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop generous mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. The recipe says it makes 12 pies, I got about 18, it just depends how big your scoop is. The dough was a little wetter then it seemed it would be, but I trusted Rachael, and they turned out perfect. Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. We were in a bit of a time crunch, so we set them outside for a few minutes, and they cooled of very quickly.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Spread the flat side of cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.



A special thanks to my husband who snapped the pictures while I was busy baking and getting ready to go. Thanks sweetie!


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
1 2/3 cups flour
4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Garland




I have seen these floating around on blogs and I decided to jump on the wagon too. It was super simple and I think that it looks great on our fireplace.

I cut the silver card stock and then decided to add paper on top of that to make it look a little more Halloweenish. I am really glad that I did, it made all the difference.



Then I added the letters on top of that.

I decided to tie each letter together individually. It added ribbon in between each letter, which I like, because if you string it together on one piece you run the risk of them sliding together when it's hung up.

This ended up taking a little more time than I thought it would, but I think it was worth the time. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it turns out!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pumpkin Tin (Jack-O-Bucket)



I couldn't figure out a name that described this perfectly, so my husband named this Jack-o-bucket. I found these buckets with faces cut out of them at a thrift store. The paint job was pretty ugly, but the cut out part had potential. I played with a little Mod Podge and paper, and this is what I got. I am so glad that I gave this little tin a second chance at a better looking life.

This is the tin that I started off with, not much to look at is it?

I layed the paper over the tin, pressed down the edges to make an imprint. Then I cut along the imprinted edge. After I had the front section cut I held the paper over the front and traced the face from the inside. Then I cut out the face. To apply the paper just put a layer of Mod Podge on the tin, lay the paper on and smooth so there are no air bubbles. Then apply another layer of Mod Podge on top to seal. Easy as that!

I tossed a tea light in and I am happy that the tin is just as cute with the lights out as it is with them on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Bars



I made these bars a few weeks ago for a lunch get together, and they were amazing. I cut the recipe in half, because it yields 42 bars, and there is no way that we could eat that much. I got the recipe from www.therecipegirl.blogspot.com and she got it for Ms. Betty Crocker. They are a perfect fall treat.

BATTER:
1 ¾ cups pure pumpkin puree
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole- wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¾ cup mini- chocolate chips

FROSTING:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs butter, softened
2 tsp milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
½ cup mini- chocolate chips (for topping)

1. Prepare batter: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 10x15-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and sugars until combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves. Toss in mini chocolate chips and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until moistened.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan coated with nonstick spray. Bake until the center springs back when lightly pressed in the center- about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.
5. Prepare frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth. Frost bars and sprinkle with additional mini chocolate chips.
Yield: About 42 bars

Monday, October 20, 2008

Framed Polka Dot Witch Silhouette!

I am so excited about posting my first project to sell! I am completely in love with this item. Just in time for Halloween, it is a fabric witch silhouette on canvas in a unique hand painted black frame. The canvas is painted a "pumpkin orange" and the witch is made from a black fabric with small white polka dots. The frame measures 14 inches by 11 1/2 inches, with the canvas being 8 1/2 by 11 inches. Ready to hang on any wall in your home. This is so simple, yet makes a stunning statement!


Framed Polka Dot Witch Silhouette is $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping.




Friday, October 17, 2008

Quilt Giveaway!

I came across something amazing this morning and I am so excited to share it with you. Believe it or not it is a quilt giveaway! I cannot imagine that someone could give away something like a homemade quilt. But the lady who made it is excited and I am excited too. The contest ends tonight, so hurry quick. All you need to do is leave a comment and you are entered, it is that easy!

http://pigtailsandsnails.blogspot.com/2008/10/quilt-giveaway.html

I hope one of you are lucky enough to win!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween Invitation





Every year my husband and I have a Halloween party. Actually this is only our second Halloween being married, so the fact that we have had one BOTH years makes it every year. We love getting together with our friends in silly costumes and having a great time. Last years party was a bit of an after thought in the planning department, so this year I got started early because I wanted something very fun. After looking through magazines and online, this is my creation. I loved the idea for a 3D card, and the pom-pom spider with the google eyes looks so cute and friendly. They were super simple to make and seem to be a big hit. The invitations were accompanied by a little baggie of cookies, who can say "no" to a party invitation like that!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fabulous Find: Butter Bell


This fabulous find is something that I have loved for years. I have always wanted one, and I finally got one for my birthday this year. Now, I wonder how I ever lived without my Butter Bell!

A Butter Bell stores butter in a bell that goes in a beautiful dish with water in it, creating an air tight seal around the butter. It keeps butter fresh, delicious and perfectly spredable for up to 30 days without refrigeration. Aside from how practical the Butter Bell is, it is beautiful! My wonderful husband gave me a red Butter Bell to match my kitchen accessories. The Bell's come in all different colors, Christmas and holiday themed and even pink in support of Breast Cancer awareness month. This is a beautiful and extremly usefull gift, remember Christmas is right around the corner.

Butter Bells are a fabulous find, check them out at www.butterbell.com

Monday, October 13, 2008

Broccoli Cheese Soup


On the cool crisp days of fall there is nothing like a great bowl of soup to warm you up. Broccoli Cheese Soup has always been a favorite soup of mine, and I finally found a soup to make at home that has everything that I need. This soup is cheesy and cream and perfect with a piece of French Bread. And to top it all off, it is super easy!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli or 20 ounces frozen
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Cook broccoli in a small amount of salted water until tender
2. Melt butter in heavy sauce pan
3. Add onion and cook until clear
4. Stir in flour to make roux
5. Slowly add broth and cream. Stir and cook until thickened.
6. Add salt and cooked broccoli
7. Just before serving, stir in cheese

Makes 6 servings

Friday, October 10, 2008

Welcome Welcome Welcome

Hello Everyone!

I am so excited about this new adventure. This blog was born out of my desire to create beautiful and wonderful things for my family and friends. I love to cook, scrapbook, sew, paint and do just about anything crafty. I hope to be able to share craft projects, recipes, scrapbook pages, sewing ideas, holiday inspirations and decorations and other projects for you to enjoy as well. I will also offer things that I had made that can be purchased. I hope that you enjoy visiting often and sharing in my passions.