Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love roasted pumpkin seeds.  It wasn't until a few years ago that I tried to do my own, but I was instantly hooked.  It's a very easy process that yields a healthy and, surprisingly, tasty treat.  So if you've never roasted pumpkin seeds before, this is your year!  Come along with me...

Start by collecting all your pumpkin seeds.  As you're carving your pumpkin, just scoop them out and place them aside.  As you can see, we tried to remove the bigger chunks of flesh and skins.  Separate out any broken or very thin seeds.

Rinse your seeds thoroughly in a colander.  I just run mine through a few times and clean off all the excess strings and goo.

Soak your seeds overnight in salt water.  If you're going to use a sweet seasoning, soak them in sugar water.  This allows the seeds to soak up extra flavor before seasoning.

Drain your seeds and spread onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle with oil and season.  I'll list some combinations of seasoning at the end.

This was my sweet batch of seeds.  Yum!  Yum!

Preheat your over to 300 degrees and roast seeds for 15 min.  Take a spatula and turn seeds so they cook evenly.  Check and turn seeds every 10 min until done, approx. 45 min.

Easy, right?  The hardest part for me is remembering to check them every 10 min so I keep my timer handy.    

Wanna know what combination of spices we use?

1. Smoky--This is my favorite.  Soak in salt water and season with cumin, chili powder, and a little black pepper.

2. Cinnamon roll--This is my kids' favorite.  Soak in sugar water and drizzle with vegetable oil.  Season with cinnamon and sugar combination.

3. Salt and pepper--Soak in salt water. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

4. Sweet and Savory--Soak in salt water.  Season with nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar.

What's your favorite way to roast pumpkin seeds?

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Visit a Farmer's Market

This past Saturday, my husband, mom, kids, and I visited our local farmer's market.  We've been very neglectful of going to the market this summer.  And I've missed the hustle and bustle of local activity.  There's nothing quite like the smells and sights of a farmer's market.

And although we generally think of farmer's market as a summer activity, there was still plenty to see.  I excited to see how much the craft's section of the market had exploded and started thinking about Christmas shopping.  I saw soaps and aprons, body products and edible gifts.  I'm anxious to start making a list and looking at this new possibility for the holidays.

There was also lots of options for lunch.  The Indian food is always a hit with my kids.  Especially Noah.  He loves lots of different flavors and is often ready to try anything.    This waffle stand caught my eye right away.  I would love to try some of these combinations at home.  We finally settled on picking up some fresh tamales.  They were locally made and absolutely delicious.  The whole family loved them.  Thinking ahead, any of these would a great addition to holiday meals.  Another list I want to make.

The flowers were gorgeous.  Another item I hadn't thought of for this time of year and reasonably priced, especially for supporting local business.

And flavored almonds... I have a few family members that would love to see these under the tree this year.

All in all, it was a pretty successful morning at the market.  I got a ton of ideas for the holidays which has inspired me to support local business over the big box stores.  And we got out to enjoy our local community.  So if you're looking for a little fall inspiration, check out your farmer's market.  You never know what you'll find!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Egg Carton Spiders

This is an easy fun craft to do with your kids this week.  And it uses many items that you already have on hand or can easily pick up at the Dollar Store.

Here's what you'll need:
*Egg carton
*Black paint
*Pipe cleaners
*Googlie eyes

1. Paint your egg cartons black.
2. After your cartons dry, cut apart the individual cups
3. Poke eight holes in your cup, two across from each other, four on each side.
4. Thread your pipe cleaners through the opposite sets of holes.
5. Bend legs to stand up.
6. Glue on googlie eyes.

This would also be fun to hang from a black thread and have hanging on your porch.

Have fun!

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Golden Gem

The human soul is slow to discover the real excellence of things given to us by a bountiful Creator, and not until the shadows of death begin to gather around the object that we love, do we see its worth and beauty. Autumn is the dim shadow that clusters about the sweet, precious things that God has created in the realm of nature. While it robs them of life, it tears away the veil and reveals the golden gem of beauty and sweetness. Beauty lurks in all the dim old aisles of nature, and we discover it at last. ~Northern Advocate

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Grandma's Zucchini Bread

Well when life gives you zucchini!

Recently I had a friend offer me a zucchini from her garden.  I gladly said yes.  We love zucchini in our house, in everything.  But what I had really been craving was some fall zucchini bread.  And this giant was perfect for that.  Just look at his size!

I shredded the whole thing and got around 10 c. of shredded zucchini.  It's huge!  So the kids and I set off on making Grandma's Zucchini Bread.

Here's what you'll need: 

2 c. zucchini
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 c. oil
 3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp maple flavor
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 c. flour
1 c. nuts (optional)

And for chocolate loaves:
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. chocolate chips

(I omit the nuts and just add the chocolate chips without the cocoa)

  1. Mix all your ingredients together well.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 min.
  3. You can make these ahead and freeze them for the holidays or serve immediately
  4. Yields 2 loaves
What yummy fall treats are you baking?

Bookmarks for October 2012

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for October was Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin.

These are the books I read this month:

A Season of Tending by Cindy Woodsmall--See my review here.

Share the Bounty by Benita Long--See my review here.

And our featured reading for the month:

Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin--Loved this book.  If you have ever ready Sandy Coughlin's blog ( you quickly get the impression that she loves entertaining because she loves people.  And that's so much of what this book is about: how to love people.  The Reluctant Entertainer reminds us that hospitality is all about loving others in our home.  While the book gives great insight into creating atmosphere and preparing a meal, it all comes back to the heart of hospitality: love.  This is exactly what I was looking for when I picked up Share the Bounty.  Although a compact book, each page is full of ideas and accurately shines Jesus as we strive to love others through the ministry of our homes and hospitality.  Hardcover and beautifully bound, I got mine at a steal of $4 used off Amazon.

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin.

And come back Friday November 30th as we discuss Raising Motivated Kids by Cheri Fuller and other books you're reading.  

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Chipotle Turkey Sandwiches

Seems like since going back to school, every night is busy and full.  On one hand, we're praying for bed time and on the other hand, the evening goes so quickly, I hardly have time to get dinner on the table and play a little with the kids.  The crockpot has become my friend.

But for those nights when I just have to throw something on the table, these Chipotle Turkey Sandwiches are quick and yummy.  Here's what you'll need:

  • A loaf of yummy focaccia bread
  • Turkey deli meat
  • Favorite cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Mayo
  • Chipotle chilis in adobe sauce
  • Bacon (optional)
  1. Mix Mayo and Chipotle chilis to your desired heat.
  2. Spread evenly on both sides of your sandwich.
  3. You can toast this or not.  We've had it both ways and love it.
  4. Top with lots of fresh veggies or add bacon for a meatier sandwich.

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Take a Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

We love the pumpkin patch.  There's just something about getting outside and remembering how to have simple fun.  Running through a field, smelling the hay and fresh cut grass, soaking in the sights of the season.  This year we were blessed to make two trips: one with my daughter's preschool and one as a family.  Both were fun in their own way and filled with memories.  If you're looking for a little autumn inspiration, take a trip to the pumpkin patch.  And don't forget the pumpkin!  Halloween's coming!

Lydia riding on the hayride

Girls picking out their pumpkins

And on the tire swing

Kinda Corny!
But I love her!

Riding ponies with brother

I love this one

Hope we can see how they grow next year

Mama even got in on the fun

She can't go anywhere without dancing


Grandma and the kids

Running for the perfect one

Noah is so tough

Family photo

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration: Simmering Pot

As the seasons change, I'm longing to really create "home" for my family and friends.  One of the ways I'm doing this is by reaching out to all the senses.  And on the days I just can't find the time to bake, I still want to tap into the smells of fall.  That's why I've been experimenting with simmering pots. 

My favorite these days is this orange apple cinnamon combination.  And it's so simple.  Here's what you'll need:

Small pot
Orange peel
Apple peel
Cinnamon sticks
Whole cloves

Fill your pot with all ingredients and bring to a boil on your stovetop.  Turn heat down and allow to simmer throughout the day.  Set yourself a timer to check every 30 min or so.  Make sure you don't run out of water.  Add more water as necessary.

This is a great way to freshen up your home and reach your guests during the holidays.  Finish your baking early in the day and then put on your simmering pot before company arrives.


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