Homemade Gifts in a Jar Ideas
For some reason, I had been feeling really inspired to make some homemade gifts in a jar for friends this year. I didn't really know what to put in the jar...just think anything in a jar makes a cute present.
I really think a "Me Day" is in order! I'm starting to get a little bit of that Christmas panic feeling. I have so much to do, so many Christmas presents to buy, I haven't finished decorating, I haven't made one cookie yet, and every day is getting closer and closer to Christmas! I'm running out of time!! AHHHHH!!!!!
Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
- 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain short-cut pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
- 1 cup amber beer
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 2 cups whole milk
- A couple of pinches ground cloves or 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- About 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 14-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin purée or 2 cups puréed fresh roasted pumpkin or butternut squash
- 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese, divided
- Sweet paprika, for sprinkling
- Chopped parsley or chives to garnish
Melt butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook for 1 minute, then raise heat a bit and add beer. Reduce until almost evaporated then whisk in honey or syrup and milk. Season with cloves or allspice, mustard, cayenne, a little freshly grated nutmeg, some salt and pepper. Thicken to coat spoon, a couple of minutes, then taste to adjust seasonings.
Whisk in pumpkin purée then stir in about 2 cups grated cheese with a wooden spoon until melted. Combine pasta with sauce and arrange in a casserole or individual ramekins. Sprinkle remaining cheese and a light dusting of paprika. Broil to brown and bubble. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour ( or whole wheat flour… or just use only all-purpose flour)
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon (to 1 Tablespoon) cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, or just under two cups
1 cup vegetable/canola oil**
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
**I usuallly try to avoid these oils, but I had some to use up. Next time I make this I will try 3/4 c coconut oil and 1/4 c applesauce.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Grease and flour loaf or muffin pans and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a medium bowl, carefully whisk together pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup and water.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to fold all of the ingredients together. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well, finding any stray flour bits to mix in. Fold in most of the chopped walnuts, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the batter once in the pan.
Divide the dough between the two greased pans and sprinkle with a few walnut pieces. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Let rest in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
Serve warm. Maybe even wrap one loaf up in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for future munching.
Friday, October 21, 2011
I did a Halloween craft!! I think I'm really starting to get into this crafting thing. I really enjoyed making these! Aren't they cute? I got the idea and "How To" here. I was looking for a craft to do and I thought they looked fun, cheap, and easy. And they were! They were pretty hard to mess up and easy to make them look good. I used orange, red, and purple tissue paper and came up with the faces myself. You can't see in the picture but I also added some glitter so they are pretty and sparkly during the day. When Austin saw them he was shocked that I made them! He said "Really? I thought you bought those". Always a good sign.
When my husband is out of town, I like to try and fill-up my evenings with fun things to do to keep myself occupied. So I went out and bought the supplies, then in the evening I popped in one of my favorite Halloween movies, made some hot cider, lined my kitchen table with lots of newspaper, and went to work! To me it sure beats just staring at the TV for hours. It was fun to have something to do while I, well, watched TV. But at least I was getting something accomplished I suppose. It was fun!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Ever notice how the fall just kinda creeps in? I can always feel the Earth changing. Even those last few days of Summer in September when the weather is still warm, there is something different about the air, the sun. Then you get that first cool, cloudy day and BAM! It's Fall. Time to pack away summer and pull out fall decorations!
My favorite part of any season is getting to decorate! I love the excitement of pulling out all the boxes and going through them. Then running around the house figuring out a good place to put everything. The boxes always have a particular smell to them. The smell of the decorations I suppose. Anyone know what I'm talking about? Then that night when the house is all decorated and candles are lit, you get to relax with a good seasonal movie and enjoy all your hard work! Or what I like to do is bake something special that night. There is nothing like the smell of something sinful baking in the oven to kick off the season!
There is nothing I love more then a blustery autumn day, sitting outside all bundled up in my favorite fall sweater with a cup of hot cider. I love the wind. The way it blows through the trees, carrying with it the leaves from the branches that have finally surrendered to the season. I love the sound of the dead leaves on the ground being stirred by the breeze. And the feeling of the crisp fall wind blowing the hair away from my face and neck. Such a rejuvenating sensation!
And the smells! ahh the smells... Best part of any season in my mind. The smell of camp fires off in the distance and fallen leaves. The smell of apples and spices in the air.
There is a magic in the fall air that is almost palpable. You can feel is all around you. The Earth has this eerie stillness, even when the wind is blowing. Like the world is finally relaxing after a long hard Spring and Summer of growing things and being lively.
These kind of blustery fall days are the kind of days that I feel anything could happen and anything is possible. I do believe there is a magic in the world. A magic that is always there if you know where to look and is just waiting to be discovered. Or maybe is doesn't want to be discovered, and that is what makes it so special and mysterious.
Fall is the time for homemade soup simmering on the stove. For apple pie, pumpkin bread, and anything with lots of cinnamon! It's for cozy nights in front of the fire, big fuzzy blankets, and a comfy couch. A hot cup of tea and a good book you can really get lost in. Or for one of those fantastical movies I've been waiting all year to watch (Tim Burton anyone?)
Each season is wonderful and special in its own way. But autumn is the one that stirs something inside me!
I would love you girls to help me kick-off the rest of October with everything we love about the fall! What do you love most about the fall? What are some of your favorite fall memories?
Saturday, October 1, 2011