DIY Reversible Bunting

You’re going to have to bear with me – this is kind of a technical DIY blog post, with lots of instructions. But the end result is great!

DSCN7469

If you’re like me, you are horrible at making decisions. I stand in front of the jam section at the grocery store for 15 minutes trying to decide between apricot or strawberry. I agonize over which laundry detergent to choose. When I am making a sewing craft, it literally takes me longer to decide which fabric to choose than it takes to make the thing. With this DIY reversible bunting, you can choose your two favorite patterns, and cut your agonizing in half!

DSCN7466 DSCN7472

So here’s how I did it:

DSCN7475

1. Cut out a cardboard triangle the size you want for your bunting. Choose your two fabrics, and for a “Give Thanks” bunting, cut out 11 triangles of each fabric.

DSCN7237DSCN7239

2. Iron all of your pieces.

DSCN7242

3. If you choose a white fabric or a really thin fabric, iron on backing so it is less see through and flimsy. You can skip this step if you feel your fabric is thick enough.

DSCN7244

3. Place your pieces out sides together and then sew a seam through the top of the fabric.

DSCN7247DSCN7248

4. Sew another seam where I’ve marked in black below. This way, you have an opening for the string and you will also be able to easily turn it right side out.

DSCN7250

5. Trim your edges and turn your triangle right side out.

DSCN7253DSCN7256

6. Iron and sew a final seam on the top and sides again.

DSCN7259DSCN7260

7. Now that you’ve finished sewing, paint on your letters. I used acrylic paint mixed with textile medium.

8. The final step is stringing some twine through your triangles, and I have a trick to make it easier. Find a skinny paintbrush (a pencil would work too) and duct tape your twine around it. That way, you can string your triangles with ease! Make sure you set them out in the order they are supposed to go before having at it. It is easy to get them confused and end up with gibberish.

DSCN7231DSCN7232DSCN7234

And there you have it!

DSCN7474   DSCN7478

10 Ways to Use Fresh Apples

DSCN7819

Sometimes it really sucks living so far away from family (ten hours from Grant’s, twenty from mine), and that can really get me into the dumps. But I need to remember how truly blessed we are –  not only do we live in an absolutely breathtaking part of the country with mountains and wildlife in our backyard, but we also have loving families who remember and support us even though we are far from home. Not to mention, Grant and I are young and healthy, so making a ten-hour drive to spend a day and a half with family is well worth it.

DSCN7824

Last weekend we made the long trek back to Northwest Iowa and were beyond pleased to find a healthy crop of apples on the DeRocher’s apple trees! All of our apples in Wyoming perished due to that freak winter storm a few months ago, which was definitely a bummer, as there is nothing better than fresh apples. The DeRocher’s have got Red Delicious and Golden Delicious on their trees (both notorious for being gross in the grocery store) that are absolutely to die for.

DSCN7790DSCN7805

We had a great time this weekend enjoying the company of our family, but we also had a great time picking apples, and came home with nine whole bags. Which means – drumroll please – apple recipes galore! So here are 10 ideas for using up the hundreds of fresh apples that are possibly waiting to be picked on your own apple tree.

DSCN7798DSCN7811

  1. Make applesauce. I’ve already done this. It is literally the easiest thing to do with apples. All it takes is peeling them, cutting them up, putting them in a dutch oven, pouring a few cups of water (depending on how many apples you use), and simmering on low for a few hours. And this applesauce is literally better than any store bought applesauce I’ve ever eaten.
  2. Make juice. Probably the second easiest choice. I have a juicer, so all it takes is coring and cutting. Be sure to save the pulp for brownies or soup!
  3. Include apples in your pureed soups. Especially squash soup. An apple gives squash soup just the right amount of sweetness without overpowering the flavor that should be highlighted. Try this Acorn Squash Chestnut Soup.
  4. Make cake. Apples are amazing in cake, especially this time of year. Try this Apple Green Tea Cake or this Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake.
  5. Make granola with apple. I plan on trying this delicious-looking granola in the next couple of days.
  6. Make apple butter. Apple butter really isn’t much harder than applesauce, especially when you make it in the crock pot. It does have added sugar, so it’s not as wholesome as applesauce, and it takes a little longer, but hey! that’s life, right? Try this crockpot apple butter recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker.
  7. Put them on your grilled cheese sandwich. Cheese and apples pair wonderfully together. This is definitely a must-try.
  8. Make apple pie. Obviously. This is something you must do if you have an explosion of apples. Try doing something a little out of the ordinary with your apple pie, such as this Cinnamon Roll Dutch Apple Pie or this Apple Gruyere Pie (again, apples and cheese rock).
  9. Add them to your salad. Apples do not belong solely to the dessert realm, people. They make excellent additions to any type of salad.
  10. Freeze them. If you can’t eat another thing with apples but still have a ton to use, fear not. Just slice them, sprinkle them with lemon juice, layer onto a cookie sheet, freeze for a few hours, and them transfer them into a plastic bag. Now you’ll have fresh apples all year!

DSCN7818

Book Recommendation: Looking for Alaska by John Green

 DSCN7758

No, this book is not about someone with really poor geography skills. Looking for Alaska by John Green is a harrowing coming of age story that centrals around Alaska Young, a beautiful, emotionally troubled teen.

DSCN7747

The story begins when the narrator, a boy called Pudge (Miles Halter), decides to discover his “Great Perhaps” (from the last words of Francois Rabelais) and leave his normal high school to go to a prestigious boarding school in Alabama. Though Culver Creek is not at all as extravagant as he had expected, he does end up grasping that elusive Great Perhaps when he becomes close friends with Alaska (the girl for whom he also has incorrigible feelings), his boisterous roommate The Colonel, a boy called Takumi, and a girl named Lara. And when a tragedy hits their friend group, they don’t let it destroy them, but rather grow even closer because of it.

I’ve got to say, I’m rather impressed by John Green. The first book I read by him was The Fault in Our Stars, which was really good, but – I felt – a little flat in terms of characters. The themes were rich and thought-provoking, but it seemed like all the characters had the same brain stuffed in different bodies. Looking for Alaska, on the other hand, does not have this problem. All the characters are elaborately unique: The Colonel, a short, poor boy with a huge brain and an even huger heart, Miles Halter, a timid boy who never had friends until getting to boarding school, Alaska Young, a girl so troubled by her past that she’s let herself become entangled in a sticky web of suffering, and even the secondary characters are full of life.

DSCN7753

“I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.”

What is really fascinating about this book is that everything and everyone in it is brutally honest – there is no sugarcoating. These kids aren’t the image of perfection – they make a plethora of mistakes, including but not limited to drinking, smoking, and hooking up (“But there was so much to do: cigarettes to smoke, sex to have, swings to swing on. I’ll have more time for reading when I’m old and boring.”) – and they know that what they are doing isn’t necessarily on the straight and narrow. Nevertheless, their knowing rebellion is refreshing, and I found myself rooting for them in spite of it all. Furthermore, with their honesty in regard to their own actions also comes an honesty in their way of looking at the world – they are not blinded by what others of their age, perhaps, are.

“What is an ‘instant’ death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

This novel delves into some really deep issues about life, death, love, and friendship. If you feel like a quick read with some profound themes, I definitely suggest this one.

DSCN7755

“Alaska finished her cigarette and flicked it into the river.

‘Why do you smoke so damn fast?’ I asked.

She looked at me and smiled widely, and such a wide smile on her narrow face might have looked goofy were it not for the unimpeachably elegant green in her eyes. She smiled with all the delight of a kid on Christmas morning and said, ‘Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”

Making Candles at Home

I am so obsessed with candles omgeeeee. Especially when it gets to this time of year. Sometimes all I feel like doing is burying my nose into a frosted cupcake candle and literally doing nothing else. My husband gets exasperated every time we walk by the candle section in Wal-Mart because we inevitably linger there for fifteen to twenty minutes so I can smell all the new flavors.

DSCN7627

So last time we were wasting our lives away in the Wal-Mart candle section, I had a lightbulb moment – DIY candles!

It is so easy! And cheap! And you can use the prettiest dish you want! Make your way over to Wal-Mart and get these things:

  • Parrafin wax (find it by the baking section)
  • Twisted cotton twine (hardware section)
  • Essential oils (candle section)
  • A pretty dish if you don’t have one at home.

DSCN7598

One pound of paraffin wax will make two to three candles of the size I made. It cost about $2.50, I believe. The essential oils cost $0.98 a piece, so that’s a steal! Cotton twine is inexpensive as well, so when I say this is a cheap DIY, it’s true.

I decided to choose Warm Sugar Cookie and Cinnamon scent for my essential oil. I mixed them, because I wanted a really sweet, delicious, fall smelling scent. You can choose any number of scents to mix, but make sure your scents are complimentary or your candle will be ruined!

So here’s how to do it.

First, cut a length of twine longer than the height of your container. Tape it to the bottom of your container with duct tape. If you are using a clear jar, use clear tape. Pull the string so it is tight and straight, and place it between two paint brushes or pencils, taping those together tightly. Now your container is ready.

DSCN7599

Next, prepare a double boiler. Find a heat proof bowl (one you don’t mind getting full of wax) and a pot on which the bowl will sit. Fill the pot about half way with water. Put the water on heat and boil. While the water heats up, break your wax into smaller pieces so it melts evenly.

Place your wax in the heatproof bowl and set on top of boiling water. Heat the wax until it reaches 120 degrees or is completely melted.

Take your wax off the heat and add your oils. I used about half a bottle of each of my scents. Mix in gently.

Carefully pour your wax into the container with the wick. Let the wax cool for 24 hours before burning.

DSCN7602

And there you have it! Candle made at home! Mine turned out fantastically and smells absolutely delicious. I also really love the container I used because I feel like it has a distinctive Halloween vibe.

DSCN7617 DSCN7619

I hope you enjoy!

Acorn Squash Chestnut Soup

The first time I ever had a squash soup was on a cruise with my family when I was in high school. It was some sort of pumpkin soup, curried maybe, and it changed my life. I don’t know why I had always shied away from squash until then; probably because my parents were not necessarily quiet when it came to their dislike of the vegetables.

DSCN7272

Let me tell you a story about spaghetti squash. The only time I ever had it as a child was when my mom decided to make an experimental halloween recipe she found in a recipe book. This recipe was called Cat Puke, I kid you not. I don’t know if it was the name of the dish or what was actually inside it (all I remember was cheese), but NO ONE in my family enjoyed that meal. In fact, it may have even made some of us gag. Since that alarming experience, no one in my family touched a spaghetti squash, or any other type of squash for that matter, for many many years.

DSCN7264 DSCN7271

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how sad that is. I love squash now. I have made a plethora of delicious recipes with spaghetti squash (none of them called Cat Puke), and I can’t think of a better meal than a hearty squash soup.

Acorn Squash is extremely versatile, but I especially love it as soup because it has a subtle nutty flavor.

DSCN7276

This soup is perfect for a cool, autumn day.

DSCN7274

DSCN7279

Roasted Acorn Squash Chestnut Soup

INGREDIENTS:

1 large acorn squash
1 granny smith apple
1 carrot
3 stalks of celery
1 onion
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chestnuts (I used the kind in a bag, pre roasted)
1/2 cup milk

METHOD:

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the squash in half and clean out seeds (save them for roasting and topping the soup with!). Spray with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in oven until soft. Let cool.

2. While squash is cooking, prepare the other vegetables. Chop onion, celery, and carrot, and sauté in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Chop apple and add to mixture. When acorn squash is cool enough, scrap it out of skin and into vegetable mixture. Add roasted chestnuts. Add water and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn heat down and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add spices  and salt and pepper.

3. Once soup has simmered for thirty minutes, process in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add milk.

4. Top with acorn squash seeds and fresh oregano.

DSCN7283

The Holidays Are Coming! Start Thinking About Gifts Early

I know it seems a little early to start thinking about Christmas and decorating and gifts and what not, but honestly, Christmas will be here before we know it. With that said, I am super excited to introduce my holiday line of decor, gift sets, and Christmas tree ornaments.

DSCN7590

DSCN7355

I started making all these winter/Christmas themed things like a month ago. Sooooo here’s a dirty secret – I’ve been listening to Christmas music since mid-September. But, dude, it’s okay because it is hard not to be merry and bright, thusly making cheerful ornaments, when Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas is on in the background.

DSCN6801

DSCN7066

Maybe you’re not ready to start thinking about Christmas yet, but I implore you! Don’t leave it until too late! So many people (and I’m guilty of this myself) get trapped into thinking, “Ohhh I have plenty of time!” and then miss out on some really fun items. If you’re interested in buying decor and gifts online this year, remember to plan well ahead so that your items will be shipped to you in time.

DSCN7588

DSCN6807

If you like my ornaments and decor, please visit my shop for even more options!

 

DIY Leaf Gift Tags…The Best Way to Immortalize Fall

Do you ever go outside during fall and just wish you could save each and every one of those perfect, yellow leaves fluttering down from the trees? Obviously, this is impractical. But I’ve discovered a great way of immortalizing at least a few.

DSCN7137

Making gift tags out of leaves is actually incredibly easy. And it just finishes off a package so perfectly.

DSCN7129

I actually thought of the idea in pondering how to make my autumn-inspired items in my Etsy shop really special when someone opens up their package. What better way of doing that than with a real piece of fall?

DSCN7203

So here’s what you need:

  1. Some pretty leaves from your backyard. Make sure they are relatively freshly fallen otherwise they will be too crumbly to hole punch.
  2. Gloss varnish. I used DuraClean, but you can use any brand. Varnish can be purchased at Walmart or Hobby Lobby.
  3. A paintbrush for brushing on the varnish.
  4. Waterproof pens. The pens I used are actually Pentel Gel Rollers for fabric. Obviously, you don’t have to use a fabric pen, but I swear by Pentel, so those were my pens of choice. I know that they are truly waterproof.
  5. Twine.
  6. A hole puncher.

And that’s it! Let’s get started.

First off, write your messages on the leaves like so. They can be whatever you want!

DSCN7206DSCN7205

After letting the ink dry for a few minutes, paint your leaves with varnish. You will only need a few drops per leaf, and make sure you varnish both sides entirely.

DSCN7211 DSCN7212

I used my twine as a drying rack. Make sure your leaves are completely dried before attempting to punch a hole in them.

DSCN7213

Punch your holes and voila! Leaf gift tag.

DSCN7132 DSCN7133

Hope you enjoy!