Full of Thanksgiving

Ahh, I love the fall!!!  A lot of people think that Christmas is the only holiday that they can dec up the house for.  Me?  Any holiday where I can make something is a holiday that I can dress up the house!  There are so many beautiful ways to decorate!  Here are some ideas to utilize all of your crafty hard work and make everyone oooh and ahhh when they come over! Here is how I love to make my home into a place where we love coming home to everyday, and one that our family and friends also love coming over to!

First off, a helper is always nice!  This is Otto, he is always on my side.  Loves to pull things out of my bins as I go!

We are blessed to have an amazing home, with a lot of storage!  Since we only have fur children, we have extra storage in some rooms, as of now.  But, as the family grows, how do you manage storage?  I am a full believer in having an organized home, and especially an organized crafty space!!!  I will be posting some of my tricks and tips on how to organize your crafty space soon!

First things first, I looooove all the home decor stores!  And I know that I am not the only one out there! With so many wonderful stores, great deals to be had, and all the awesome seasonal decor out there, how do you choose!  My husband Charlie always ask, whats that for and where are we going to put it!  It’s important to limit your decor habit to what you can store!

If I am at some of my favorite store, I always have 2 rules:

First Rule:  Always make sure that you have a place to store it.  I utilize storage bins.  After Christmas, there’s always sales on the colored bins, and I took advantage of stocking up on those when I can.  I hop on the computer and print out a sign on whats in the bin, that way you can easily find what you are looking for.  Take a page protector and use some packing tape and slap it on your bin.  I do this with all of my holiday decor.  Garlands, wreaths, lights, ornaments and floral picks etc all have their homes.  I use gift wrap tissue to wrap everything that can be to prevent all that glitters in check.  I save the paper tissue that you get when you buy stuff too.  Bubble wrap and the packing that comes when you get all that stuff when you order online is a good tip too.  I keep it in a large bag in the closet for future use.  I always put the next holidays bins on top, that way you don’t need to pull stuff out from the bottom.  Larger weird shaped things get wrapped up in the bags that I purchased them in.  The bags that Pier One gives you are perfect for this!   In this house, we are always about re-using things!

Second Rule:  I am always looking for things that I can re-use for multiple holidays.  This not only saves you money, but saves on storage space.  I love lanterns and apothecary jars.  These can be dressed up in so many different ways!  I try to stick to the basic colors, black, white and browns.  I have some beautiful red ones that I use for Christmas, Valentines and Independence Day.  They look great for everyday decor too!

Here’s a beautiful large lantern that I got from Home Goods for about $30.  I use it all over the house!  On my buffet in the dining room, on the floor (if ya don’t have little monsters or crazy dogs around!)  For this one, I used a box that I saved from and Amazon order and placed it inside, then I used some gold tissue to place on the bottom.  I look for the glass marbles after holidays, they are much cheaper than, and layed them on the bottom.  Using the tissue helps add more height inside so you don’t have to use as much.  The pumpkin is one of the foam ones that can be carved, placed on top of the box.  Then, you put what ever you want inside!  Leafs and floral were then added!  Love it!

The mirror was a steal!  It was in a clearance area at Cost Plus, and was further marked down, so it was 25 bucks!!!  I always have it there, filling the space up.  I have a good stash of vases and jars, that I rotate throughout the house.  Fill the bottom with glass marbles and put some more of the gourds or potpourri in there, topping with some floral.  Same with the apothecary  jars.  I like to use larger framed photos with photo stands.  Flameless candles are always a nice touch, Costco has packs of these and tea lights that I get around the holidays, and the timers on them are perfect!  I love coming home to the warmth that these candles give.

I love having areas in our home that give you a focal point when you walk inside the home.  We have a beautiful table that was handed down by my grandmother, and I will always have a beautiful table runner on it.  Table cloths are nice, but runners are usually less expensive and they are super easy to make!  You can make them longer or have a small one in the center to add that pop of color, without being too outdated or overwhelming for your center piece.

I purchased all of the floral from Michael’s when they were 70% off post holiday season!  Grab a pair of pliers and start cutting them off the bundle.  Lay everything out that you have, you will be surprised of the look when you mix different colors and textures together!  The planter was purchased at Home Goods, and I originally bought it for our wedding.  It was used on our sweetheart table with beautiful fresh flowers.  I saved it and reuse it for holidays!  I put 3 blocks of floral foam inside, and used tissue paper to fill in some gaps.  This helps in using less floral foam and less flowers.  Use the bigger florals first, then add in the smaller taller pieces, taking care that you don’t miss any spots.  I do this in the kitchen, so I have a 360 view so I can see which spots I miss, and I always have hubby take a final look to see if there are bare spots.  Drop a few leafs around, some raffia.  I found the cute vine style LED light string to wrap around and you are done!  Place on top of a runner and there we go!!!  I made this runner for our wedding as well, and its perfect for the fall!!  When I make my runners, I try to do a different pattern or style on the other side.  I have a Halloween runner, and when you flip it over, it has a Thanksgiving style on the other side!!!  This is awesome for storage.  All of the floral for Thanksgiving and Halloween lives together in its bin, saving on storage.

We have two awesome fire places, which means  2 awesome mantels!!!  I always have something all year round on these, keeps everything tied together.  I have garlands with leaves in two different colors and styles that I use.  I used another one of the garland LED lights.  Simple but beautiful!

For the dining room, I placed some garland with flowers on it, some small hay bales, candle holders, and some jars with flameless candles inside wrapped with raffia, tied in a bow. Those were wedding leftovers too!  You can tie ribbons around as well.

The fall time is full of warmth and love.  I hope you all enjoyed how I made our home warm and inviting!!!  Now, for Christmas decor!!!

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

This time of year, I always look forward to great times with family and friends, and of course, all the yummy food!!!  When it comes down to baking, pumpkin is one of the first things that comes to my mind!!!  With all the choices out there, what do you make?!  I love pumpkin pie, but sometimes its too expected.  Making the dough can be daunting to some people, to get that crust just right, can be tricky!!!  For me, I love-making pretty cupcakes.  So easy and they don’t take all that much time, don’t require utensils or plates, and they don’t require the possibility of leaving one of your beloved pans behind!  They can be frosted and decorated in so many different ways and cute cup cake liners.  They smell great, look great, and taste amazing!  Trust me, everyone will love this one and be very impressed!

I have used and tweaked this recipe a few times, and it’s always a hit!

First things first, always make sure you let everything get to room temp and make sure your butter and cream cheese is soft!  Have you ever had lumpy cake or frosting?!  Ick!  Tips and tricks make the process easy, fun, and always come out with consistent results.  Over many years of baking and trials, it really does make a difference using quality ingredients.  Investing in quality vanilla,sifting your flour, and good spices is a must in my book!!!   Here’s what ya’ll will need:

Pumpkin Cupcakes     

Makes about 30 cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp

1 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 cup of milk, or heavy cream

2 cups pumpkin puree

Pre heat the oven to 325.  Oven temps vary, but it’s always a good idea when reading recipes for baking to set the oven to a lower temperature.  Most recipes always say 350 for baking cupcakes and cakes, but lowering the temp and cooking for a little bit longer makes a difference!  This will always give you a nice, moist cupcake.  Theres nothing worse than seeing a beautiful cupcake and biting into a dry hard mess!

Grab a large bowl for your dry ingredients.  Mix in flour,baking soda & baking powder, salt,cinnamon,ginger and nutmeg.

Take a whisk or your spatula and give it a little mixin’

Place the butter in the mixer, and let er rip!  I like to mix up the butter and get it all fluffy in there!  Add the sugar and brown sugar until nice and creamy.

Add your eggs, one at a time, mixin’ it well before adding the next.

Next, add your mixture of all the dry ingredients, alternating with milk until its well mixed.  Have your spatula handy, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go.  Adding, alternating and scraping as you go will give you a nice, creamy mixture minus all the lumpy’s.

Mix in that yummy pumpkin!

Grab your cupcake pan and fill with liners.  Having good cupcake liners is a must!  Have you ever baked and had a super oily bottom on the outside?  Those cheap liners are hard to pass up, but when cookin’ with butter, its nice to have a thick quality liner so you don’t have a hot, oily mess under your delicious goodie!

Use an ice cream scoop to scoop up the batter and plop in your liner.  This gives you a perfect sized cupcake, and its way easier than using a spoon.

Pop em’ into the oven, at 325 for 20 mins.  If you aren’t sure how your oven’s runnin’, I would check them with a tooth pick at about 17 minutes, just in case.  I check them at 20 mins, if it’s coming out clean, take them out, let cool in the pans for 5 mins.  Place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling down.

Now, for the even yummier part!  Frosting!!!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tsp of vanilla bean paste, if you don’t have it, you can use 2 tsp of vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

Place the cream cheese in the mixer, give it a quick whip and soften it up.

Add the confectioners sugar in sections, and make sure that your speed isn’t at  80 mph, or you will have a huge mess!  After you have all the sugar mixed in, add the vanilla bean paste, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Mix until nice and creamy!  The color is beautiful!  I love the look of the vanilla bean!

Ok, so here’s a trick that I learned awhile back, that makes frosting cupcakes easy and quick!!!  Makes for easy storage too, or if your frosting is a little too soft, you can stick these nifty little packs into the fridge to get a little firmer, or to save that extra deliciousness!

Grab your frosting, a spatula and some good plastic wrap.  From personal experience and recent explosion all over the kitchen, trust me on this one!!

Pull out about a 1-1 1/2 foot size piece and lay it on the counter.  Make sure its nice and flat.  Scoop out some frosting and place it in the middle of the plastic wrap, taking care not to spread it out too far.  You may want to just use a little bit of frosting when you first try this trick, if not, you may have a frosted ceiling.

Fold the plastic wrap up one side at a time, wrapping the frosting into a nice, compact package. Fold ends.

Now, don’t go getting all crazy on me here, take your time and make sure you have folded the wrap up so it’s completly covered!  Grab the ends and gently swing the wrap around like a jump rope.  This will give you frosting packet.

When you are ready to frost, get your piping bag ready, cut one end of the frosting wrap off, close to but not at the end, and drop into your piping bag.  Gently give it a squeeze and your frosting is ready to go!  When you are done with that bag, you can just pull the empty plastic wrap out, and repeat!  Your piping bag stays clean and its much easier to refill than scooping it into a frosted bag that sticks.  It’s so fast!  You can even change tips in between without washing out the bag!

Frost up these yummy cupcakes!!!  And eat one.  Or two!

Enjoy!

So, now what?!

Hello everyone!!! Wow, I can’t believe that this blog is actually real now!!!  I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it!!!

For me, this was a decision that I have been wanting to make for quite some time.  Over the years, my crafting skills have grown leaps and bounds.   I started when I was an early teen, scrapbooking, crocheting, and sewing of course!!!  And let me tell you, it wasn’t always awesome!  From pants that had the legs sewn shut, crooked quilts and hours of seam ripping, here we are.  I learned so much along the way, mainly from my grandma Blanche.  She has been sewing since she was young, and I am so happy that she has passed the gift on to me.  I have also learned from many friends, and with so much inspiration out there, its hard to not have my mind constantly stuffed with something crafty.  I have always had an eye and desire to make things, and over time, I have gotten pretty darn good at it.  I have heard countless times from friends, family, and strangers, “Hey, you should sell this!” or “How come you do market yourself”.  Well, I guess the answer is, I love doing it, but who would want to listen to me talk sewing,crafting or baking?  No one would actually pay me to do this!  Well, it hit me over the past month, that maybe, just maybe I could!  Maybe people really aren’t lying to me and want to see more!

So, here we go!  With so much love and support from my dear husband, family and friends, we are all going to see how this journey unfolds!!!  I can’t wait to share my inspiration for all things sewing, baking and crafting!

Much love and thanks to everyone who believes in me!

Amber