Saturday, October 30

Sweet as Pie or Savory Pumpkin Seeds Recipe


and Sweet...

We like both types of roasted pumpkin seeds, but I must confess, tiny hands have been sneaking into the sweet bowl all morning. Below are both of the recipes. Make sure to clean all of the pulp from the seeds and allow them to dry for 24 hours before cooking. Enjoy!

Sweet as Pie Seeds
1.5 cups of dried pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 C raw sugar
3/4 tsp of Pumpkin pie spice

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pumpkin seeds in a bowl and pour the melted butter over them and stir to coat evenly. Add the raw sugar and spices and stir until well coated. Place seeds in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes. Stir the seeds twice during cooking.

Allow to cool before eating.

Savory Seeds
1.5 Cups dried pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp of ground sea salt

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Place pumpkin seeds in a bowl and pour melted butter over them. Stir to coat evenly. Add spices and salt and stir again until evenly coated. Place seeds in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes. Stir the seeds twice during cooking.

Allow to cool before eating.

Friday, October 29

Pumpkin Carving

We had a great time carving pumpkins last night. Here are a few of the highlights...

I have the seeds drying on the kitchen counter for roasting Saturday morning. Even though I avoid blogging on the weekend, I'll be sure to share that with you all, along with the recipe.


Thursday, October 28

Roasted Tomato Potato Soup

This soup is soooo good, and I don't even like tomato soup. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, it's actually pretty easy to make.

What you need:
5 Large Tomatoes
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Basil and Oregano to taste

1 Onion chopped
3 cloves Garlic minced
2 Tbsp butter
3 Medium Carrots sliced very thin
2 Medium Potatoes cubed with skins on
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

First you need to peel your tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to place them in boiling water for one minute and then remove and allow to cool. Once cooled, slice in half and then you should be able to easily pinch the skin right off.

Place the halved tomatoes flat side down on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with basil and oregano. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

While your tomatoes are cooking, place your butter, remaining olive oil, chopped onion and garlic in a large stock pot and cook until the onion is tender (about 5 minutes). Now add the chicken stock, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the tomatoes are done. Remove the tomatoes from the sheet when they are finished and place in the stock pot. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Now, if you have an immersion blender, blend the contents of the stock pot. If you do not, use a blender (you will have to do this in smaller batches, but it works just fine), and then return to stock pot. Add the heavy cream, sea salt and black pepper. Stir until well combined.
That's it!

This makes quite a bit of soup. We usually have enough left over from the first meal to freeze and use for two more dinners. I add thinly sliced Gouda to it too, yum!

Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.

Wednesday, October 27

Holiday Napkins

I'm hosting a very tiny Thanksgiving dinner this year (my second ever), and I don't think my dinner guests - even though they're family, and pretty laid back at that - would appreciate my toddler stained bed sheet napkins. Hmmmm... I wonder why?

Soooo, I needed some new ones. Or shall we say, "new" to me. I'm pretty excited about these, as simple as they are. The fabric is yet another gift from Granny Grace (I do know how lucky I am. Thank you, thank you!), and the serger I used was my own grandma's. The whole experience has me dangerously teetering on finding myself a serger to call my own. My goodness, I made eight napkins in less than an hour. And the contrasting stitching? Love it!

Oh! And I can't forget to mention the silver napkin rings. Oh how those made my day! Such a great thrifting find. They came, still sealed in the original packaging, priced at a dollar. Seriously, all eight of them and just one dollar. So really, I guess that's how much this whole project set me back.

I think maybe I get too excited about this stuff. Or maybe I'm just really a big dork. But either way, these look nice. In fact, nice enough that I think I may have to make a new table runner, or place mats, or both. Let's go with both!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 26

I Designed Something!!!

Ok, I designed two somethings :) The dress was unplanned, and had originally started as one of my tulip skirts, but with a tighter ruffle. For some reason, I just kept on knitting, and improvised this. But these puffy legwarmers? Agh! I love them! These were very much so planned, and designed with a specific outcome. I had originally planned on her wearing them around Christmas (hence the candy cane stripe theme), but my little girl just won't slow down her growing - she rebels in so many ways, lol.

Now I need to decide if I want to sell the legwarmer pattern or the finished piece, or both? I've had requests for both, so we'll see... Oh, and yes, she IS kissing the bird feeder in that last picture, silly girl.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 25

Transitioning to a Healthier Lifestyle - Part 2

Cows should eat grass, not grain. Please read on...

This is an on-going topic on my blog, so if you haven't already read the first section, click here.

One of the biggest changes, yet also the easiest switch, we made was to start buying grass fed meat and dairy products.

There is a HUGE nutritional difference between grain fed products and grass fed. Here is an article by Jo Johnson, who explains why grass fed beef is superior to the feed lot grain-fed products most of us have grown up on.

I like to keep this blog on a more positive note, and don't feel comfortable bombarding you with a gazillion facts as to why it's so important to eat local, and to know where your food is coming from. I've provided a couple links in this post that will help as a starting point if you're not familiar with the topic. But I do encourage you to dig deep, and really become aware of the food industry in America - it's a bit scary to say the least.

It took me a little while to find local grass-fed meat, but I did, and to my surprise, I can pick it up at our local Farm Bureau year round (only ground beef at the moment). During the off-season (grass fed beef is in higher quantities during the spring and summer because in addition to birth timing, the cows have more food to eat and reach their desired weight sooner) our local farmer will meet us in the town square with special orders if she has the items available. I was thrilled to see that the ground beef was actually less expensive than feed lot beef at local chain stores - unbelievable! Another added bonus, it looks like this year the Farm Bureau in our town will be holding an indoor farmers market three times a month during the off season - I'm so excited about this!

Ok, I just can't help myself...
Here's a scary statistic sited in the documentary King Corn- "If you're under the age of 30, chances are you have never tasted grass fed beef, unless you went looking for it." The documentary does a good job of showing how the corn industry is shaping America, and the consequences that go along with it.

Here is another helpful link in finding grass fed meat.

Annnnndddd.... Because it's Monday and I promised I would, here's our dinner menu plan for the week:
Monday: Nachos
Tuesday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Potato Soup (my own creation, and yes, I'll share soon)
Wednesday: Scrambled eggs with veggies and toast
Thursday: Pot Roast with roasted veggies
Friday: Pizza with green peppers and mushrooms (on half of course, because the kids wouldn't have it any other way)
To take a peak at last week's menu, click here.

Friday, October 22

Good Morning Miss Goober

Today I wanted to share with all of you, the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. How can you not love THAT face?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 21

My Love of Vine Charcoal

When I was younger, I was never without this adorable little cow tin you see below. I found this during a trip to Switzerland back in high school.

See! I loved cows back then too!

It wasn't so much the tin, but what I kept inside of it. My vine charcoal, and a kneaded eraser. Oh my, vine charcoal is by far my favorite tool to work with. Everything just looks so good when you draw with it. It's so forgiving, and easily blended. Different amounts of pressure give you different results in color depth. You can go in with a kneaded eraser and add perfect highlights. It really is my favorite.

So it is sad to me, that I have let so many years go by without using it. I thought I had lost this tin box in our last move. When I was digging to the bottom of my portfolio case for pastels, I felt an odd buldge in a side pocket. I reached down in there and pulled out this tin - you would have thought I struck gold - seriously I was that excited. Poor Austin thought something really cool was going on. Nope, sorry buddy, just your goofy mom flipping over some charcoal.

And of course, as soon as I could (hello nap time!), I rushed outside to my favorite spot and started drawing everything I could see.

I'm a little rusty, it's been almost a decade since I picked up a piece of this stuff. But it felt soooo good. Something tells me this won't be the last charcoal post you see here.

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, October 20

Unstructured Creativity - Acrylic Paint

About once a week or so (during warm enough weather), I bring the kids out to the back yard and pretty much just let them go to town using some sort of creative medium. Painting is always a favorite in our house, so I try to come up with different ways to go about it. A few weeks ago we used watercolors and I was so excited when Austin decided to make pictures out of colorful finger prints. I have to admit, the main reason I got so excited about it was because back in high school, I finished a rather large replica of a Micheal Angelo drawing using watercolors, my pinkie finger and some black pastels. For me, I thought I was being original, for him, it was just the way it had to be done for the day. That's one of the things I want to foster in my children, to follow their creative desires. And so, that leads us to our "Unstructured Creativity" time.

I must confess, I did have a slight agenda on this one. I let the kids paint on a large piece of white fabric, with acrylic paints. I gave them black, orange, green and purple to work with.... hmmm.... I was hoping I would end up with some sort of super cute little kid piece of artwork to turn into a Halloween decoration later. We ended up with a few very large blackish brown blobs, lol. They had a great time though, and that's all that really matters.

Do you have unstructured creative activities you do with your children? Please share, I'm always looking for more ideas :)

Take care!

Tuesday, October 19

Punk's Not Dead

I finally did it! It took me three attempts. The first two failed because of poor yarn choices. In the end, I just ordered exactly what was used to create the pattern (duh - should have figured that one out in the first place, lol), and it worked! Austin begged and begged for this hat, and after tons of online searches for something similar - and finding nothing. I bought the book Pretty in Punk. This pattern is called Punk's Not Dead. Love it! I think I might be making a smaller purple version for the other little person in the house.

I wish I could have gotten better pictures for you. No one will model their hats for me :( This was the best I could do. I'm still trying to get pictures of Hannah in her elf hat I made her. You can bet I'll have a blog post up on that one as soon as I get that shot - I love the hat.

Have a great day everyone, and enjoy the chilly weather!

Monday, October 18

Meal Planning

Today I'm linking up to a site called to share our weekly menu plan. A lot of you know I do my best to have our family follow a Real Food diet, but we're not perfect (who is?!), and I'm always looking for new (but fairly quick) recipes. I thought it might be fun to share my meal plans with all of you, at least for a few weeks anyway. I have to admit, things do get a bit repetitive around here, and I need to branch out. So I'm hoping a lot of other blogs link up to that post so I can get some more inspiration.

Every Sunday morning, I sit down with my coffee and figure out what we're going to eat for dinner for the week. I don't worry much about lunch because we usually just eat leftovers or sandwiches. For breakfast I typically have some sort of baked muffin or scone, or pancakes I pull out of the freezer and thaw to eat. I like to bake in huge batches and then freeze, it saves time and money. So, I give each family member a chance to pick one meal for that week, and then fill in the rest.

Making the list takes the guess work out of the week, and saves us a lot of money on groceries because we only buy what we need. We do our weekly shopping for produce and milk on Sunday's after the list has been made.

**Please note that all of the ingredients we use are typically organic, homegrown, handmade, local, or raw - which would be super expensive if I didn't plan ahead and make most of our own meals. We stay away from processed food as much as possible.**

Week 1

Monday: Mac 'n Cheese with a side of broccoli
- Austin's pick for the week, we use Annie's Homegrown. Not really a real food, but better than the blue box ;)

Tuesday: Stuffed Shells, garlic bread toast, and green beans - Homemade - my pick

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken with roasted potatoes and carrots - Chris's pick

Thursday: Soft Tortilla Tacos and cheesy rice - we make the tortillas, and the taco seasoning, which I also add to the the hot rice and sprinkle cheddar over it. Our ground beef is grass-fed from a local farm.

Friday: Garlic Bread Pizza - we have this almost every Friday because it's easy, and everyone likes it, and I consider this Hannah's pick.

Have a great day!

Friday, October 15

Chalk Outlines and Keith Haring

One of Hannah's favorite outside activities right now is flattening herself against the driveway and demanding "color me Mommy!" She will get up for about 10 seconds to find a new spot, and then the process continues, for as long as I'll let her. The other day I noticed that a lot of these outlines remind me of one of my favorite Artists - Keith Haring. I'm not sure why I never made that connection before, because now it seems obvious. It might be because my interest in Keith Haring's art started in Junior High, and I've had plenty of time since then to kind of drift away.

I've attached link to his kid's art site (because some of his work is inappropriate to be viewed by children, and you never know who might be peaking over your shoulder). Click here to take a look at Haring Kids.

What do you think?

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 14

Homemade Caramel Sauce

This sauce was made on accident, and quite frankly I think it's about the best accident I've ever made, if I do say so myself. The photo above features our new favorite breakfast, caramel apple pancakes. This was my plate, can you tell I like caramel??

In an attempt to make old fashioned caramel candy, I ended up with this. I know why now too, so if I do ever decide to make the candy (not sure I will though because I can use the sauce for so much more), I know what to change. Here's the recipe we used, and to make a sauce instead of a candy, remove the mixture from the heat once your candy thermometer reaches 110 degrees Celsius.

I've included some photos. I thought it might be helpful if you've never made caramel before. I wish I would have known what to expect before starting, you'll see why in a minute...

Waiting for the sugar (the recipe called for white sugar, I'll try raw next time) to melt, which took awhile, and my pan started on fire. Thankfully I was able to put it out right away, and then just went right on back cooking - I know, I have issues, lol.

The melted sugar.

Annnnnd, I suppose common sense should have told me that the liquid in the pot I had to pour the melted sugar into, should have been hot as well. I tend to learn things the hard way. I was a little concerned that I had lost this whisk forever. Thankfully, after a lot of stirring, and a lot of heat, the whisk survived.

So basically it looks like this until you get the temp you want. I poured it into a buttered glass dish at 110 Celsius because I was running out of time - and I'm glad I did!

I poured the thick, cooled sauce into this jar, and it's staying in the fridge. Sugar is a preservative, so it should keep for months. Some people claim it stays fine outside of the refrigerator, but I don't want to take any chances.

This sauce is sooo good mixed in with coffee too! It tastes just like a caramel machiatto when you add a bit of milk to it. Austin likes it on his ice cream, and to dip his apple slices in. Hannah just likes licking it off her fingers.

I think we may just have a caramel jar in our house at all times from now on.

Take care!