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Sunday, October 20, 2013

F.A.L.L. Has Arrived!

This weekend the F.A.L.L. season finally made it's debut. The temps were in the low 60's, the air was crisp and the colors of fall are showing. It's one of my favorite the cooler temp and the gorgeous colors of the leaves changing.  It's a calming time of year for me - fall colors are some of my favorite.  It's also that time of year for football ~ enjoy watching the Philadelphia Eagles and (my alma mater) the Penn State Nittany Lions. Pretty colors of fall: reds, golden yellows, olive green, etc. 

In the fall I love to make and freeze soups, stews and baked goods.  One of my favorite fall recipes is pumpkin bread.  I like to make these for family and friends at Thanksgiving and Christmas in those neat disposable foil bread pans that have the perfect plastic lid - makes a great gift!  During the holidays they have seasonal designs on them - perfect for gift giving, no wrapping needed! I wanted to  share with you my all time favorite pumpkin bread recipe.

2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 beaten eggs
1 C packed brown sugar
1 C canned pumpkin
1/2 C maple syrup
1/3 C canola oil
1 C chopped pecans

Note: you can substitue 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the spices in the recipe.
  1. Grease bottom and half inch up sides of a 9 inch loaf pan.  Set pan aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and allspice. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl combine eggs, brown, sugar, pumpkin, maple syrup, and oil and mix well. Add all at once to dry mixture.  Stir just until moistened battter should be lumpy).  fold in pecans. 
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake in a 350° oven for 60 to 65 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  (If necessary, cover with foil the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.)  
  5. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on wire rack. 
  6. Wrap and store overnight before slicing (I honestly never wait that's tastes so good when it's warm - smothered with sweet cream butter!!)
It's not a low calorie bread - 238 calories / 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat) per serving - but definitely worth it.  I'm going to try making this with whole wheat pastry flour as a substitute for the all-purpose flour in an attempt to make a wee bit healthier :)

Besides baking and cooking, I made lots of new jewelry pieces this weekend.  Photos were taken, just waiting to be edited and then listed.  Check out these copper disk earrings that I applied cinnamon and golden yellow Vintaj patina to - they kind of look like pumpkins ??  I paired them with soft yellow jade teardrops, wire wrapped in oxidized copper - perfect fall colors!

Hope you all had a great weekend!  O.N.I.A.M. - oh no it's almost Monday (yeah I just made that up, lol! I hate Mondays).  May you have a great start to your week!

Live. Laugh. Love. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Splash of C.O.L.O.R.

The weekend started out gloomy - I was all psyched to stay indoors and just make jewelry. Then the sun came out, the air was warm and I just couldn't stay inside all day.  I cut the grass, did a little very, very little yard work, chatted with the neighbors, then got in my car, rolled the windows down and took a ride to my local Hobby Lobby.  Not that I need anymore beads or supplies...I just wanted to browse.  Browsing is dangerous for me - I always seem to find something I want to buy.  I came home with some Irish waxed linen cord, waxed cotton cord and these really cool Vintaj colored patinas.

These colored patinas produce a permanent finish on any type of metal.  They can be mixed, layered, sanded off for a worn look or thinned down for a light washing of color.  They don't required a sealer, but if you want the patina to last "forever" (is that possible??) I would recommend sealing them and then applying some Renaissance wax.  I did some playing around with the colors, you have to work quickly as the patina dries fast, which is an advantage over the dye oxide patinas I usually use.  Dye oxide patinas need to cure for 24 hours before you can seal them, let alone make anything with them.  The Vintaj patinas are much easier to use, don't require a heat source and the curing time is about ten minutes.  The color after it dries has shiny finish and looks almost like the piece has been enameled.

Here's a sampling of what I did with the patinas:

Clock wise from the top:
  • I mixed red & blue together to make purple (remember back in grade school when you learned which primary colors to mixed together to make other colors? - well that knowledge came in handy today! {grin})  
  • Etched copper disks were colored with rust and then washed with ochre.  
  • Next, I hammered some copper soldered rings flat, then textured them, followed by a patina of verdigris and a wash of cobalt. 
  • Fourth on the list - I had some etched copper that I cut into disks, then colored them with cobalt, used a sanding block to take off some of the color, then rubbed silver gilders paste to highlight the raised edges from the etching.  
  • Last, I had a pair of copper oval hoops that I had previously applied a dye oxide patina to that just didn't work out I sanded most of it off and then applied olive green patina mixed with a tiny bit of lacquer to produce a wash.  
Overall I'm pleased with the results and can imagine many other design ideas. I did seal all of the findings with lacquer and Ren wax for durability. I made earrings out of the pieces, but unfortunately by the time I got them all finished, I wasn't able to take photos.  Hopefully, can get them photographed in the next day or two.

I was able to get a photo of these earrings that I made from a tutorial from JewlieBeads.  Her tutorials are so easy to follow and include great photos, I highly recommend them.  The photo was taken before I gave the earrings a patina bath and tumbled them to bring out the highlights and shine.

Well...It's time for me to wind down for the night - I have so many design ideas, it's hard to put them aside and relax.  But I must...wishing you all a good night & a Happy Monday!

Live. Laugh. Love.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Food Junkie - From Freezer to Crockpot

I'm a food junkie...I love to cook & I love to eat!  I always try to make healthy meals and follow the motto: "if your great-grandmother wouldn't have eaten it, neither should you."  I don't buy processed foods - no frozen TV dinners here, no "light, low-fat, fat-free" (ok..with the exception of milk & cottage cheese) foods in this household.  We eat "real" food - fresh veggies, full-fat cheeses, meat, eggs, real sweet cream butter, whole grain breads, get the point!  And Y.E.S.- I read the labels on everything. They say the healthiest foods are found in the outside perimeter of the grocery store.

I wanted my lazy Sundays to be even lazier and still get a home cooked meal on the table. What could be easier than crock pot meals?  I scoured the internet for crock pot recipes that could be assembled and then frozen.  All I would need to do was remove from the freezer, dump it into the crock pot and walk away.  Easy peasy, right?

I made seven crock pot meals, total cost for all the food was around $112 dollars.  I'm pretty sure the cashier thought I was nuts for purchasing twenty-five (yes-25) chicken breasts.  That's about $16 per meal, since there is only two of us, we'll probably get three meals out of each crock pot - just a little over $5 per it!  It took me about three hours to make them all, but totally worth the time.

Here are the recipes for the meals that I made (with simplified instructions) - check out those fresh veggies! These recipes are not my own, so I'd like to give credit (thank you to those bloggers) where I got them from -- click on the title of the meal, it take you to the original recipe.

Fresh veggies - delicious!
2 pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced
3 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup chicken broth
taco seasoning packet
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
Cook on low 5-6 hours

3 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 (16 oz) bag frozen broccoli (I used a head of fresh broccoli)
1 large green pepper, chopped (I used a red pepper)
2 (16 oz) jars alfredo sauce
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

3 chicken breasts
juice from 2 limes
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 (16 oz) bag corn
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
Cook on low for 8 hours

4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey 
1/3 cup olive oil 
3 tbs rosemary, chopped
1 tsp salt
Cook on low for 6-8 hours

4 chicken breasts
1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of chicken
1 dry packet of italian seasoning
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces 
1 cup teriyaki sauce 
1 cup water
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ginger (or a few slices of fresh ginger)
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

5 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 bottle of BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar 
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

That's all!  There were so many recipes to chose from - I'm excited to try out the recipes for beef and pork that I found.  Having the BBQ chicken for dinner tonight, it smells delicious!  Happy Sunday to you all ~ enjoy your day!

Live. Laugh. Love.

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