Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Apple Kuchen

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought I'd share this delicious recipe that uses the apples that are in season now. It works well on a dessert buffet or transports easily if you are traveling for your holiday dinner. My friend shared this recipe from her Dutch heritage with me and it has become a seasonal tradition to make this in our home ever since. Her family uses the spelling "apple kuiken", but when I tried to research more about this dish, I found it often spelled "kuchen", which is the German word for cake. However you choose to spell it, it is sweet and tasty and a perfect addition to your collection of fall recipes.

2 cups of flour
1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter
1 Tbsp baking powder                              
1 egg
4-5 cups of apples

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
approximately 2 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel, core and cut the apples into thin slices.
Lightly grease a rimmed cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
Cut the ingredients together using a pastry blender and pat into the bottom of the pan.
Line the sliced apples on top.
Combine the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle on top of the apples.
Top with dots of butter.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Monday, November 2, 2015

More Fabric Pumpkins

Happy November everybody! I know many bloggers are moving into Christmas posts now that the calendar page has turned another month, but I am enjoying the fall too much to start Christmas crafts and decorating just yet. With Thanksgiving being a gentle reminder to have gratitude and be thankful for all of the blessings in your life, I just want to soak in these last few weeks and enjoy this time of reflection before some of the hustle and bustle of the next holiday season officially begins.
When I ended the post about how I created  a small fabric pumpkin patch for my glass scarecrow, I promised to show you how I created some other fabric pumpkins. 
Two of the pumpkins are "no sew" crafts, and the last one requires a minimal amount of sewing. The first pumpkin has a really unusual base....a roll of toilet paper. I read about how to make these pumpkins on Debbie-Dabble's Home and Garden Blog. Debbie loves Christmas but goes all out for other holidays as well, and when I saw these cute pumpkins that she made using rolls of toilet paper and small amounts of fabric, I knew I had to try making one. For this craft take an inexpensive roll of toilet paper and a piece of fabric (I had 1/4 yard of plaid fabric, but didn't need that much).
Simply place your roll of bathroom tissue in the center of your fabric square.
Then pull up the fabric and tuck it into the center of the roll, sort of pleating the fabric as you go along. I used the handle of a small screw driver to tightly push the fabric down as the tube became more full.
Once completed, I wrapped twine around a piece of thin cardboard that I rolled up. I placed some hot glue on the end and inserted it into the center of the tube to act as a pumpkin stem.
Finally, I embellished it with some silk leaves I had in my stash of craft supplies.
The next "no sew" pumpkin was made using the sleeves of an old sweater, some jute twine and some cotton fiberfill stuffing.
I've seen these all over pinterest, but I turned to  a post that Kim at Curtain Queen Creates did last year about creating pumpkins from shirt sleeves as a guide.  For this pumpkin I cut part of one of the sweater sleeves about 10 inches long and then turned it inside out. I cut 6 strands of twine about 36 inches long and knotted them together, placing them inside the knit "tube" with the knot of twine remaining outside the tube. Then I twisted a rubber band around the sweater and twine slightly above the knot.
 At this point, I turned the sleeve "right side out". This will cause the knot of your twine to be inside the pumpkin. The area where the twine comes out of the fabric will ultimately be the bottom of your pumpkin.
Now you need to stuff the pumpkin with the fiberfill, making it as plump as you would like. Then firmly grasp the remaining tube of sweater above the stuffing and attach another rubber band to keep it secure.

Now bring the strands of twine up from the bottom, spacing them as evenly as possible and wrap them around the the top to form the pumpkin stem. Trim any extra parts of the sweater that are left above your twine wrapped stem.
To finish the pumpkin I twisted a piece of the jute twine, tied a piece of raffia around the stem and glued on a few leaves.
The final fabric pumpkin requires minimal sewing. For this one I cut a rectangle of burlap and sewed the long sides together using 1/4 inch seam allowance to create a tube just like the sweater sleeve. Following the same procedure as I did with the sweater sleeve above, I created a similar pumpkin out of burlap.
All of these pumpkins were inexpensive and rather easy to make. They are adding a cozy touch throughout our home this fall and are a fun way to add some autumnal colors indoors.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fabric Pumpkin Patch

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful day with all of your little trick or treaters. Today I am going to share more about the little fabric pumpkins I have been showing peeks of in some of my photos. Have you ever made fabric yo yos?  They are a simple little craft that you make with scraps  of fabric. In the past frugal women saved all of their fabric scraps and made blankets out of hundreds of yo yos. I must admit that I have not been ambitious enough to make a project that large, but  I have used them to make garlands or embellish wrapped packages.
To make a yo yo, you simply sew a running stitch around the circumference of a fabric circle about 1/4 inch from the edge.  When you reach the end of the circle you simply pull and gather the circle together. A few years ago a co worker told me about a template that you can actually use to assure even stitching of the yo yos, and I use it when making mine. These templates come in different sizes to you can vary the size of the yo yos you create for your craft projects.
 After making my scarecrow out of glass blocks, I couldn't resist making a pumpkin patch for him to protect and oversee. I decided that using fabric yo yos would create the perfect sized pumpkins for his patch. For some of the pumpkins I simply made the yo yos in the traditional way.
I then stacked several of the completed yo yos on top of each other and stitched them together.
Using a dab of hot glue, I adhered a small stick into the hole of the top yo yo to serve as a pumpkin stem, and then tied a few strands of straw raffia around the stick.
To add dimension to the field of pumpkins, I decided to make some fuller rounded gourds by stuffing the yo yos as I started to gather the stitiches.
Once I had the desired amount of stuffing in my pumpkin, I finished pulling the gathering stitches tight and then knotted it off. I then added the stem and raffia or even some strands of fine jute string as a finishing touch. The combination of stuffed and stacked yo yo pumpkins added a nice variety to the "field".
I had so much fun creating these tiny pumpkins that I decided to make some larger "no sew" pumpkins too. 
I'll share how I made those in my next post. The great thing about all of these fabric pumpkins is that while they are perfect for Halloween decorating, they can be left out through Thanksgiving to add a  handmade festive seasonal touch to your fall decorating.

Linking with:
Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Saving 4 Six
The 36th Avenue
Pieced Pastimes
The Crafted Sparrow
Between Naps on the Porch
Katherine's Corner
A Delightsome Life

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Autumn Sausage Corn Soup

Up until our first frost on October 17th, our garden was still producing some tomatoes and peppers, so I have been enjoying adding these last bits of fresh homegrown veggies to our meals. When the frost and cooler weather hit, I was definitely in the mood for some warm and hearty soups to grace our dinner table. So, I began digging through my cookbooks in search of some new things to try. I found this recipe in an old Taste of Home Holiday Celebrations Cookbook and it certainly fit the bill for a warm and hearty fall meal. Better yet, it let me use some of the tomatoes and peppers from our October garden yield. This soup is a way to warm your family after a day of raking leaves or hiking through the pumpkin patch in search of the perfect specimens for your fall decorating or pumpkin carving.

 3/4 pound full cooked smoked sausage sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3 green onions, chopped
3 1/2 cups water
16 oz frozen corn
1 1/2 cups cubed, fully cooked hap
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Hot pepper sauce to taste

In a large skillet, cook and stir the sausage over medium high heat until browned; drain well and set aside. In a Dutch oven cook and stir the flour in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown.Add the green pepper, onion, and green onions; saute until tender. Stir in the water, corn, ham, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, cayenne pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Linking with:
Saving 4 Six
The 36th Avenue
Pieced Pastimes
Between Naps on the Porch
A Delightsome Life

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lighted Glass Block Scarecrow

Happy Monday! It is another gorgeous fall day today and I hope you are enjoying the colors that this season brings. Today I would like to share a craft that has been a while in the making. Have you seen all the creative crafts people are making with these glass blocks?
Well, one of my sweet friends gave me two as part of a craft supply themed birthday gift last year, as she knew I would have fun creating something with them. The problem was that there were just so many wonderful possibilities, that I  couldn't decide what to make. So they have sat among my supplies for months, but now that I am spending less time in the garden and yard, it seemed like the perfect time to finally utilize them in a project.  
Since I have been in the mood for adding touches of autumn throughout the house, I decided that it was finally time to commit to a project and turn these glass blocks into something fun. So, I dug through my other boxes of supplies and pulled out my trusty glue gun some paint markers, raffia, burlap  ribbon, twine, buttons and scraps of burlap and fabric that I had from previous craft endeavors. The only things that I had to purchase were 2 strands of decorative lights and some epoxy. I told my son about the idea I had and asked what adhesive he thought would be best to securely hold the 2 glass blocks together and he suggested this:
I had never used this before, but it was relatively inexpensive so I was willing to give it a try. 
The first thing I did was use the paint markers to draw the face of a scarecrow on the square block. Then I filled both glass blocks with straw raffia and placed one strand of lights in each block.
Next, I used my glue gun to adhere the burlap ribbon around the sides of each block. I attached some buttons down the front of the rectangular block and used a small piece of jute rope to resemble a belt with a larger button acting as a buckle.
The next step was to use the epoxy that my son had recommended to attach the scarecrow head to the body. I was a little nervous that it might not work, but this adhesive is super strong and it held like a charm!
Using some scraps of burlap I created a hat for the scarecrow, and with a thin piece of plaid fabric I made a tie around his neck. For some finishing touches I added a leaf to his cap, attached some straw "hair" peeking out from under the hat, and hot glued some twigs for "arms" to his sides.
I decided to display him on a bookshelf that holds my cookbooks, and added some cute little pumpkins that I had made earlier this month (I'll show you how I made those later this week so be sure to check back)

This shelf is close to an outlet, so it is easy to plug this little guy in and let him cast a warm glow to light up the corner as the sun sets each day...

He is ready to welcome trick or treaters this weekend and his smile will continue to light up our room right through Thanksgiving.

Linking with:
Cedar Hill 
Saving 4 Six

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Teal Pumpkin Project

Fall is in full swing, cooler weather has arrived and the colors of autumn are at their peak here in northwestern NJ. As a result I had several blog posts that I had planned to write this coming week that included seasonal craft projects and recipes. However I just received an email from one of my best friends that stopped me in my tracks and made me rethink everything. It was one of those emails that got my mind spinning with a ton of thoughts and ideas and my fingers just started to type away at the keyboard as I researched information.
Let me start by giving you a little background. Like me, this friend began her professional career as a pediatric nurse at a children's hospital. Over the years we had the opportunity and privilege to care for many children and families who were facing a multitude of life changing diagnoses. We cared for children with cancer, cystic fibrosis, renal disease, diabetes, neurological disorders and a multitude of other conditions as well. As a health care professional you learn that a diagnosis ultimately impacts the entire family, not just the client. Having a supportive family, friends and community can make dealing with any life change easier. As pediatric nurses, there are many organizations and causes that are near and dear to our hearts, and I have done volunteer work for several of them over the course of my career.
Despite the fact that we, and many of our friends, work in fields that deal with these conditions, when someone close to you faces a new diagnosis, even your many years of professional training can not fully prepare you for the multitude of life changes you must adapt to.This particular friend's oldest son was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. If undiagnosed and not treated, people are at risk for long-term health complications. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. Currently the only treatment for celiac disease is to adhere to a strict gluten free diet. The challenge arises in the fact that there are many hidden sources of gluten and many processed foods may contain wheat, barley or rye. Gluten can  also be found in items like cosmetics, skin and hair products, toothpaste, chewing gum, glue on stamps and envelopes and some modeling clay. Even ingesting gluten free foods that have been prepared around other items containing gluten can be dangerous for people with celiac disease. Needless to say, Halloween can be a challenging holiday for children with this condition.
Since Halloween is one week from today, I decided to change what I had planned to write about in today's post and instead share with you some information about the project my friend just emailed to me. The campaign is called The Teal Pumpkin Project and it was launched by Food and Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014. According to FARE's website, "The goal of the Teal Pumpkin Project is to raise awareness of food allergies and promote the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. FARE's Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option and keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!" Although we already purchased some items to hand out next week, I plan to add some new options to the treats we will have available for trick or treaters that come to our home next Saturday. I've printed one of the free downloads that is available on FARE's website and will be hanging it on our door. As a pediatric nurse and the friend of a family who is dealing with the new diagnosis of celiac disease, I encourage you to visit FARE's website and take a look at all of the wonderful ideas they have. Our family has taken  The Teal Pumpkin Project Pledge and I hope you will too!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Seasonal Soap

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I got to see by brother-in-law and one of my nieces for short visit and then spent some time working in the yard and doing some crafts. I got a lot of various chores done too, since my husband was at work, so it turned out to be a really productive weekend. 
One of the things I made was some seasonal soap. This is the second time I've made molded soap using this technique, and I have to admit, I am loving them. They are so cute and really simple to do. Best of all, you can personalize them to match any holiday, season, or decor. The formula is fantastic, lathers up nicely and leaves your skin feeling really soft. For this project you will need the following supplies:
~Soap base (I used this one and was really pleased with the quality)
~Raw organic honey
~Red and yellow coloring...this is an optional ingredient depending on the look you want to achieve (I used this brand)
~Small silicone soap or cake mold (Since I was making seasonal soap I used a  pumpkin mold)
~Glass measuring cup 

 Take a portion of your soap base and cut it into pieces. I used 1/2 of the soap block that I had and it ended up making 21 small pumpkin soaps. 
Put the pieces of soap into the glass measuring cup and microwave on high until the soap melts into a liquid. I microwaved mine for 30 seconds and then stirred the mixture, and repeated this step four times. The amount of time you need will most likely depend on your microwave, but just do it in small increments and stir frequently to assure that all of the soap is evenly melted.
Once the soap is completely dissolved, add the honey (I used 3 tablespoons of honey to 1 lb of soap) and stir thoroughly.
At this point, add a few drops of colorant if you would like. In order to achieve the orange look, I added several drops each of red and yellow, stirring after each addition. Honestly, I was hoping to obtain a deeper orange color, but was having a difficult time getting the exact color I wanted. The soap was starting to solidify at the edges, so I didn't want to waste too much time being extremely fussy about shade. It is not a good idea to reheat the soap once the honey has been added, so just work quickly. To be honest with you, my original plan was to make these soaps scented by adding some pumpkin pie spice to the mixture at this point, but I spent so long adjusting the color, that I panicked when the soap showed signs of hardening at the edges and I completely forgot to add the spice. Oh well, it gives me a good excuse to make more (like I really need an excuse to craft)
Once you are satisfied with the color, carefully pour the mixture into the silicone mold, and allow it to sit undisturbed until it cools and solidifies. The amount of time it will take to harden depends on the temperature and humidity of your room. This batch took about 30 minutes to  solidify for me, but I made some over the summer, and on that day it took a little longer. To be on the safe side, I left it undisturbed for several hours. Once hardened, simply pop them out of the mold. The beauty of using a silicone mold is that it bends easily and it is very simple to push the soaps out from the bottom.
The mold I used this time did not have a lot of detail to it, but I was still pleased with how they turned out.
 These would make adorable hostess gifts at Thanksgiving if you packaged them is little fabric gift bags and attached an acorn or cinnamon stick to the bag.
I wanted to share one more bit of fun news with everyone. I've told you about the company that my son recently started called Hexacomb, which is based on a project that he designed for one of his college art courses last semester. This past Friday David got to compete as a finalist in a contest that was hosted by the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City, and actually "pitch" his product to Daymond John who is one of the judges on the TV show Shark Tank. The contest was not associated with Shark Tank, but Daymond was in Atlantic City because one of the contestants that he sponsored on the show was being featured at a barbecue event that was being held there. David didn't walk away with the top prize, but considering the fact that over 100 people entered the contest, it was quite an honorable achievement to make it down to the five finalists!
He had an amazing time and met a lot of great people. He said that Daymond John and Bubba of Bubba's Ribs were wonderful. Daymond even grabbed David's phone at the party that was hosted after the event and took a selfie with David and his girlfriend Lisa.
It was quite an experience for a 21 year old college student and we are incredibly proud of his creativity and drive (He is in the process of designing the 3rd item in the Hexacomb family of products, so stay tuned for that update). Overall, it was an exciting and productive weekend around here!