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9.29.2011

Candy Corn Hurricanes

Greetings!

I'm loving all of the great fall ideas that are sprouting up in blogland, and thought I'd share a quick, cheap and cute idea for a fall table.

Seriously, it doesn't get much easier than this.

I started with hurricanes that I bought at Goodwill for $1.99 each.  I swear, I can't ever pass these up when I see them.


The next ingredient is simple (and yummy).


Put it all together and you end up with this.




(No, my candles aren't wavy - just the wave of the hurricane making it look a little funky.)  You get the idea.  Fun and festive for fall!

9.27.2011

Progress Isn't Pretty

I am gearing up for a couple of crazy weekends in terms of travel, so it was nice to have a semi-quiet weekend.  I have been making some good progress on projects around the house, and I'll bet I could make MORE progress if I would just stop adding projects to my ever-growing list!

But, progress isn't always pretty, right?  Sometimes, in the midst of progress, you have half-finished headboards in your yard:


Or a scary looking, primed-not-yet-painted kitchen island project that brings out the "Holy S#@*!" in you.

This is where I am right now.  Bear with me - progress is being made!

9.22.2011

Pumpkin Palooza

When the temperatures start to cool and the leaves begin to change, I crave anything pumpkin.  I was even eyeballing the first pumpkin pie I saw in the grocery store.  But one staple in my fall recipe arsenal is pumpkin bread.  I have had this recipe since I was pregnant with my oldest son (who turns 13 in November), and it has never failed me.

So, this weekend, I made pumpkin bread, pumpkin mini-muffins and these fun punkalicious cakes.  All from the same recipe, mind you.


I saw a similar look a couple of years ago when we were having a fall party and I had a fun recipe for a pumpkin shaped dessert.  Unfortunately, I drove myself half-insane driving all over town looking for a mini-bundt cake pan.  Much to my dismay, I never found one (I know, can you believe it?), so I never got to make them.

Lo and behold, one of my girlfriends bought me one for Christmas, so I pulled this bad boy out to try it with my pumpkin bread recipe.  I think it turned out really cute, don't you?  The trick of achieving the pumpkin shape here was trimming off the top of the mini bundt cake (which is actually the bundt cake "bottom" when you turn them out of the pan). 

This is the type of pan that I used:



I "glued" them together with some Cool Whip, but using cream cheese frosting would be even more delicious.  Then I topped it with some greenery (boxwood from the yard), but a piece of mint or something along those lines, would be even better.

So, here is the recipe for the basic pumpkin bread.  I've even made it healthier by substituting the oil with natural applesauce.  I swear, no one will know the difference.  It's super-moist and delicious.

Wet Ingredients:
3 c. sugar
1 c. natural applesauce (or vegetable oil - trust me, you won't miss the oil!)
4 eggs
1 c. water
2 c. canned pumpkin

Dry ingredients:
3 1/3 c. flour
1.5 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, mix the dry ingredients in another bowl.  Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing the whole time. 

Bake at 325 degrees:
For mini bundt cakes - 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. 
For mini muffins - 15-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
Loaf pans - ~1 hour, until center is set and doesn't "wiggle" anymore.

If making the pumpkin bundt cakes, let them cool and then remove them from the pan.  Trim the "muffin top" off of them to create a flat surface.  Take one cake and spread cream cheese frosting (for link to recipe, click here) or Cool Whip on flat part of the cake.  Then, take a second cake and line it up, flat sides together to form a pumpkin shape.  Top with mint or greenery for pumpkin "stem". 

Enjoy!  Now go get your pumpkin on!

Linking to:
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it
Just a Girl - Show and Share Day
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia - Tuesday Treasures
Remodelaholic - Recipe Link Up Party

9.16.2011

On a Personal Note - Life Lessons

Hello!

We have been out of town the past two weekends, and this past weekend we were in Sandusky, Ohio for an event that my husband has been anticipating for months.  He's been training for a Half-Ironman event.  For those unfamiliar with it, it's a triathlon event, which includes a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run.  (Yes, there is a full Ironman event for the truly insane dedicated).

Over the course of the weekend, we all had quite a few life lessons.  Some more difficult than others. 

Some words to live by popped into my mind that I thought I would share.

"Do one thing every day that scares you."  -Eleanor Roosevelt

I think I filled my yearly quota with one terrifying ride on this coaster with my 10 year-old son.  I would have screamed, but it was going so fast (125 mph) that it literally took my breath away.

Cedar Point - Top Thrill Dragster
Source: google.com via Jenny on Pinterest


If that view wasn't enough for you, here is another.  This is a view from the top.

Source: google.com via Jenny on Pinterest


Prior to our coaster adventure, we caught my husband's wave at the beginning of the swim.


Of the three events, my husband was most nervous about the swim.  He woke up that morning with an upset stomach, thinking he might be coming down with something (one of my boys had just been diagnosed with strep), but I was hoping it was just nerves.  Otherwise, it was a perfect day - calm waters, good temperature, beautiful day.   You couldn't ask for more.

While waiting for him to finish the swim, I started taking pictures of some of the finishers, since it was such a great backdrop.


Then I turned around and saw my husband sitting on the shore, with his head in his hands, tears in his eyes.  He didn't finish the swim.  Turns out, his stomach issues cleared up, and he felt good.  Felt strong.  The swim was going well. 

Until... 

Halfway through when he turned his head to take a breath, and inhaled a bunch of water in the process.  He had taken in water before, during training, but must have gotten a bunch of it this time. 

He couldn't get his breathing back.  Tried floating on his back, breast stroke, all of the things they tell you to do. 

None of it worked.  He had to pull out of the race and was brought in with the help of a kayaker.

I was absolutely heartbroken for him.  But, there were a lot of life lessons learned.

"The only real failure in life is the failure to try." - Sven Goran Eriksson

I like running, but have stayed away from the triathlon because of the swim.  I don't like the idea of swimming in open water - makes me nervous.  I give my husband kudos for embarking on this journey in the first place.  And it really resonated with my boys.

"Never, never, never give up!" - Winston Churchill
"Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough." - Og Mandino

One of my boys said, "One thing about Dad, he doesn't give up."  It was really nice for them to see that a temporary setback doesn't mean that you give up.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately?

9.06.2011

New Season, New Inspiration

It's funny, this Labor Day weekend started off like summer and ended like fall.  This morning, the temps were downright crisp - in the 50's!  I'm ready though.  While I love summer, temperatures in the 90's are just downright miserable since I don't, shall we say, perspire gracefully.   (I'm guessing menopause will be a blast)

But, now that fall is upon us, I'm embracing it.  Fall is such a gorgeous season, and it's one time of year that I'm happy to live in the Midwest.  (Winter, not so much.)

Best of all, there is so much inspiration to be had!  Gorgeous color palettes...







Then you have great home decor inspiration too - both indoors and outside...






Nature itself is absolutely stunning during the fall - lots of photo opportunities.
Source: squidoo.com via Jenny on Pinterest




And then there are the fall party ideas!  Seeing photos like this makes me want to host a fall party!


Or table setting and hosting ideas like this:







Are you ready for fall?