9.30.2014

:: Autumn Cookies ::


Maple and Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies



3 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups), softened
1/2 cup maple sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars just until combined. 
Add the vanilla and maple flavoring, and mix. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and salt, 
then add to butter mixture. Mix on low just until dough comes together. 

Place dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disk. 
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. 

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch and cut into individual cookies. 
I used a 2-3″ maple leaf-shaped cookie cutter, but any 2-3″ cookie cutter would work. 

Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 18 minutes, 
or until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and cool before serving.





Using your favorite sugar cookie recipe, then
decorate in amazing and beautiful ways!




Pumpkin-Pecan Spice Cookies

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground cardamom
1 1/3 cups finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup white vanilla baking chips
4 oz vanilla-flavored almond bark, chopped


Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray, 
or line with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
In large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla 
with electric mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour, baking powder and spices. 
Stir in pecans and baking chips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. 
Remove to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Place candy coating in small resealable freezer plastic bag; seal bag. 
Microwave on High about 1 minute or until softened. 
Gently squeeze bag until coating is smooth; cut off tiny corner of bag. 
Squeeze bag to drizzle coating over cookies. Let stand until set.



                         

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting




Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

FROSTING:
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat
in egg and vanilla. Add pumpkin; mix well. Combine the flour,
cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder; gradually add to
creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in walnuts.



Just to name a few. These are the ones I made for the neighborhood block party. It is so much fun!
The weather is so pleasant, the nights so cool for fires... I can never get enough of this.
Not ever. Truly, this is my favorite time of the year.







9.29.2014

: Autumn thoughts and thankfuls :



Time to decorate your house for Fall... if you haven't done so already!




My fall touches this year are very simple
because life is calling for it.

I think I like this simple, natural look better anyway.
 Why do I ever even attempt doing anything more elaborate?
Simple is me.  I really need to remember that, huh?

You know I love words, and the words that are coming to me 
in this season of life are:
slow down. breathe. listen. be present. 

{thankful for}

:: a good report from the Dr.
:: cooler weather
:: pumpkin spice candles
:: time to breathe
:: a great workout even though ...
:: I didn't feel like going.


I would love to hear about all the beautiful ways you decorate your home for Autumn!




9.28.2014

:: Just look what you can do with Autumn Leaves ::




What can I do with all those beautiful leaves?

This is such a fun and simple fall tradition and one you can do with kids if you have any. 
Traditions are pretty big with me. If you're looking to add some for your family.... this is perfect! 
So, first, you need to gather the leaves…go on a nature walk, choose the most beautiful, vibrant, 
colorful, perfect leaves that you can find. 

002

Then pick this up at the grocery store. It’s only a couple dollars and one box should be enough.



Buy a disposable foil pan as well for dipping the leaves in. 
Melt the wax over low heat. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be careful…hot wax is HOT. 
Place it on a back burner and nowhere near children.


Holding the stem, dip the leaves in melted wax one at a time and then set them on wax paper. 
Cover your counter with newspaper, then the wax paper, to make clean up easy, 
because it’s NO fun scraping wax drippings off counters. 



Let each leaf cool completely…once they are totally cool they will lift off easily. 
If the wax starts to harden in the pan, just warm it up on the burner again. 


Tie them up with string to form a garland. 
They are beautiful and a perfectly simple 
(and almost free) autumn decoration.


A  Whimsical Autumn leaf wind catcher


 

Have you ever tried painting on leaves?

After pressing your leaves, paint anything you want onto your
leaves. Then dip in wax to preserve your leaves.


How about a beautiful painted fall leaf wreath?


From alisa burke full tutorial here


Or, a Maple leaf centerpiece?


Tutorial found here on Decor for all




From: Saved by lovely creations tutorial found here

There are lot's more things to, but, I've just chosen the ones that I plan on trying to do.
Aren't they all simply lovely?

Pretty cool isn't it? 













:: By the water ::




There is definitely a difference between living and just existing.
The difference is in my voice, in my step and in my very breath.
More importantly, their is a difference deep within my heart.


It is said that there are but two ways to bring light into this world: 
one way is to be the light. The second way is to be the mirror that reflects the light.
I personally don't believe that either one is better that the other one, after all,
the mirror is not any less of a light.


That being said, live as you want the world to be, behave in the manner you wish 
other people to behave, and they will surely follow... and it will be beautiful.


Okay, you got me. I've been spending a peaceful day on the beach meditating.
Reflecting on the Summer past, and the winter that's coming quickly. 
It's a perfect day, not too many of those left this season to be sure. 
I am lucky to have had this breathtakingly beautiful and restful day. 








9.27.2014

:: running away ::





I believe I shall run away to the water,
and cry in the presence of the gulls
reflecting, as the darkness settles in.

There is something so beautiful in  
what is created in the lonely spaces, 
the very lovely spaces, where all is quiet, 
except for the chaos deep within yourself.

Look now... out into the distance,
over the water, the waves...
and then, look deep into yourself.
Find what it is that you seek, 
hold that thought in your head,
and then, continue forward.
This time, towards that thought.





:: Climbing that ladder ::





So, by Friday, I found myself at the bottom of the rabbit's hole, wondering how this week just spiraled out of control. 
Work has been overwhelming for a few weeks now, and it will be like this until at least December. Sigh. "Okay. I thought miserably, "What CAN I control here?" And then slowly, slowly, slowly I am building a not so steady ladder out of that hole.


I can control what I eat, and what I make for dinner. The quality of the food I buy, and what I'm willing to spend. I can control what color I paint my nails, or even give myself a spa day. I can decide whether I will work out today. Or I'll think of a good excuse why I shouldn't. I can control who I spend time with... And who I don't. And the words that out of my mouth. { I just need to count to ten first} I can control how clean my house is, and set up a schedule for that. I can decide what I fill my head with. What am I watching on tv? what am I reading? I can also control how I view myself. And how others see me as well. And I can choose how I want to see the world. And more importantly, I can determine my mood, my feelings, and how I want to feel each day. I can approach it in a happy way, welcoming each day as it comes and all that it brings with it... or, I can make myself miserable... hmmm... not really much of a choice right? Right. I'll work on that this weekend, and then hopefully on Monday, I'll come back a whole new girl!






:: Countdown to Halloween Calendar ::





A Countdown to Halloween - what a good idea! Another Family tradition in the works right? 
Let's take a look at some of them and see which ones we think we might like to do...









Cute! No idea who to credit.



As always, it's a start right?




9.26.2014

:: More autumn deliciousness ::





Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting...


I've made lots of cupcakes over the years. Some great and some just eh. But these... well, these are simply amazing. 
Pumpkin spice latte cupcakes with caramel butter cream. They are...quite possibly the best cupcakes I've ever made.

Pumpkin spice latte cupcakes with caramel buttercream 1


The cake has the perfect spiciness; and it's super moist from the fresh coffee that is brushed on top while the cupcakes 
are still warm.  I love it with the caramel butter cream, but you could also cheat and top it with canned whipped cream 
like they do at a coffee house. Go now, and find an excuse to make these... trust me!


Ingredients:


for the cupcakes

2-2/3 cups all purpose flour
3-1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup hot coffee, for brushing

for the frosting
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup caramel ice cream topping
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk


Directions:


to make the cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line cupcake cups with liners.  
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, 
baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar and oil.
4. Add the eggs to the wet mixture one at a time and beat to combine after each addition.
5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two additions and beat just to combine.
6. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way. 
7. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove from the pan and place on cooling racks.
8. While the cupcakes are still warm, generously brush the tops of the cupcakes with warm coffee at least three times 
(or more for additional coffee flavor). Allow the coffee to soak in between each coat. The tops may start to look soggy, 
but this will be covered by your frosting.

to make the frosting

1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the shortening and butter.
2. Add the caramel topping and vanilla; beat until fully incorporated.
3. Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time, beating on medium speed between each addition. 
The frosting will be stiff after the final cup of sugar is added.
4.  Add milk and beat until fluffy. (Add more or less milk to achieve your desired consistency.)
5. Frost cupcakes and garnish as desired. I sprinkled ground cinnamon on top. 
You could drizzle with more caramel sauce or garnish with a chocolate covered espresso bean. 

Pumpkin spice latte cupcakes with caramel buttercream 2

9.25.2014

Is it already that time?




Why lie about it? Summer is sure going to be missed around here. Badly.
Although, there's some comfort in the fact that our Indian summers are usually to die for gorgeous.

So, I am going to embrace these last golden days of warmth and sunshine until they gently fade away into the crisp, coolness of Autumn.

This past weekend was filled with many visitors. We are, it seems, a popular destination. Friends and neighbors like to come drink visit, and we totally get it. I think I'm pretty darn good with my "hostess with the mostess" role. I even have several tried and true appetizers on standby at all times, homemade soup created every weekend, and even my own bread {which I find very therapeutic}

So, here's to the best Indian Summer yet ~ you help me welcome the new season with grace and style, and make it easier to say "good-bye" to summer.


   


:: Halloween Bucket List ::




Another wonderful tradition for Families. Create a Halloween Bucket list together! 
List all of the wonderful things you want to do before Halloween. 
I've found some examples to help you along a little bit! 


 









As always, it's a start! The rest is up to you... have fun with this!