9/27/14

Autumn on the Front Porch




Well OK, our front porch is more like a front stoop, but it's mine all mine!!! This year I decided to pull out and dust off the old Halloween mirror my sister gave me a few years back, and use it as part of the front entry decor. The mirror's reflective property really seems to brighten up the porch and its size fills that long solid white wall (which I never know quite what to do with) pretty well. So here it goes...our 2014 front porch all ready for the fall!!




I really wanted 2 corn stalks, but in order to save a few dollars I purchased one stalk and then split it in half.




The mum is sitting inside an apple bucket I bought last year at HomeGoods. Then I placed the bucket inside a wreath, again from HomeGoods.







The fall florals are from Michael's craft store...I just plpped them into the hanging wall container I already had and then grabbed a few of the corn stalk leaves to poke into the "arrangement".





Oh how I do love the Autumn!



Wishing you all a perfect autumn weekend!!!

XO

9/25/14

Hearty Pasta Fazool





The cooler air has really begun to move in here in the northeast and has gotten me in the home style comfort food mood, which means I have been cooking up a storm! Mostly I have been making dishes calling for tomatoes so I can use this fresh fruit which has been pretty prolific in our garden over the past few weeks. Today it is rainy and kind of cold, so I decided to whip up a pot of the hearty Italian soup, Pasta Fazool.

I've made Pasta Fazool before but with canned tomatoes. But let me tell you that after making this soup with fresh tomatoes it is clear that the difference between the two are miles apart! The fresh tomatoes add another dimension to the soup's flavor and it is a knockout! I used about 5 or 6 tomatoes of varying sizes for this dish. To prepare the fresh tomatoes, I cut a cone around the stems so to remove them and then dropped the tomatoes into boiling water. In about 3 to 4 minutes the tomato skins began to split at which point I removed them from the water using a slotted spoon. They were then placed on a dish to cool before peeling off the skins.

While the tomatoes were cooling, I sauteed in a large pot with a bottom covering of water...(or you could use oil if you prefer)

1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped

Once the vegetables began to soften I added 2 cloves of minced garlic and let it cook for another minute. I went ahead and peeled and chopped the tomatoes and poured off the tomato liquid into a measuring cup, then slid the tomatoes into the pot with the other veggies. Enough chicken stock was added to the tomato juice to make 2 1/2 cups of liquid. It was poured in and brought to a boil and then the heat was reduced and the the mixture was left to simmer. 

Now for some reason when I think of Pasta Fazool I think of it having a type of creamy base, so I made a cheesy white sauce in a separate pot to add to the soup. To do this 2T of butter was melt down and then 2T of flour was added to create a roux. Then a cup of milk was slowly poured in while stirring the mixture until it thickened and bubbled. Italian cheese like Locatelli, Asiago, Parmesan, Romano, or even a mixture of these cheeses, was grated into the white sauce and stirred until melted. I used about a half cup of cheese. A ladle of the vegetable mixture was added to the white sauce, mixed and then the entire pot of white sauce was poured back into the pot containing the vegetable mixture. At this time the pasta was tossed in. I used cellentani but you could add any type of pasta you wish. The pasta cooked in the vegetable mixture for roughly 9 minutes and then one can of the cannellini beans was added. Now since I am a big Goya fan I like to add a packet of Sazon without Annatto which comes in a box, along with one packet of Goya's ham flavored broth. The soup simmered for another five minutes or so to heat through the beans and finish cooking the pasta.

The Pasta Fazool was garnished with shredded Italian cheese and fresh parsley.



Ingredients:

1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb tomatoes canned or fresh, chopped with the juices reserved
enough chicken broth to add to the tomato juice to make 2 1/2 cups of liquid
2 T butter
2 T All-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup Italian cheese of your choice
10 oz. dried pasta
1 can cannellini beans
I pkg Goya's Sazon without Annatto
1 pkg Goya's ham flavored broth
Garnish with Italian cheese and fresh parsley

Another weekend is closing in fast and it is going to be a busy one for us. Football games, yard sales, even a chili cook off will be filling our time over this last weekend of September!

Enjoy!!!

XO

9/22/14

Who Wants to See Something Pretty? (Emerald Green Wine Glasses from HomeGoods)




Hey there and happy Monday!! I just wanted to throw up a quick post so I could share my new wine glasses with you all. The other day while shopping at the HomeGoods which just opened in my neck of the woods, I was milling around those pretty sunflower plates you saw in my last post, (you know the ones I put in my new (old) living room hutch...to see it click here.) and almost walked right by these gorgeous emerald color wine glasses. I would have done so too if I hadn't run into my dear friend Donna who started chit chatting with me. They were sitting on a small end of the isle display with a lot of other autumn inspired tableware when I noticed them. And upon further inspection of these wine glasses, well what can I say...I just fell in LOVE!




First off they are green and green is my all time favorite color! Did you know that the human eye is most sensitive to the color green? It's true...and these glasses are an emerald green which I adore. Did you know that emeralds, depending on color, cut, clarity and carat weight, are more valuable than diamonds or any other precious gem?




Secondly I love their shape and weight. They are very comfortable and easy to hold because of their concave shape, and they are a little on the heavy side which I prefer. They were sold individually so I don't know who manufactures them, but what I do know is that they were only $3.99 each!! So yup...I picked up all 8 of them! These glasses will be the perfect accent for all of my holiday tablescapes. Can't wait to use them...I am so HomeGoods Happy!

When was the last time you fell head over heals for something as soon as you saw it and simply had to buy it? 

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week and to this glorious season of autumn!

XO

9/19/14

My New Hutch Decked Out in the Colors of Autumn




Back in July I shared with you the fact that this hutch was gifted to me by my dear friend Colene.  Here is what she looked like then.  
(The hutch not Colene.)




I decided to keep her white and just clean her up a bit. The glass draw pulls were replaced with shiny silver ones and she was given a fresh coat of paint. I also remove the glass door to expose the interior and to allow in more light.





Then yesterday I  was at the grand opening of a Home Goods not too far from me and I spotted these darling sunflower dishes. I thought they would be perfect for my hutch so I grabbed 6 of them.




In front of the dishes are white wicker embossed cups each carrying a faux pear.



Then some shiny silver items were added to compliment the new silver drawer pulls. A couple of napkins are peeking out from the drawer.


I am absolutely loving this piece in the living room. It will add so much to my year round and holiday decorating, plus who doesn't love extra storage?

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a very happy first day of Fall to you ALL!


XO
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9/17/14

Hutch LOVE




I have to share with you that I am kind of, well a lot of excited because I have a pretty new (old) hutch in my living room to decorate for the fall. 

Yipeee!!

So I have been searching the web via Google images to find some inspiration, and boy I don't have to tell you that there is A LOT of inspiration out there. Here are a few that I really loved.

This first one is a stunner I found on Pinterest. This gorgeous hutch display was created by Lucy over at her beautiful blog Craftberry Bush.



Love this fantastic hutch makeover by Meg from the blog from Never a Dull Day.



And how could I possibly not include Yvonne's fabulous hutch from StoneGable.



Or the eye catching blue/white pottery and dishware contrasted with the little orange pumpkins of Debbie's over at Confessions of a Plate Addict.

source


This next hutch is beautifully rustic with its copper ironstone and pumpkins, and was created by Kimberly over at the blog Serendipity Refined.

source


OK it's not a blog, but I just had to sneak this one is from CountryLiving.  Beautiful isn't it?


source


And last but not least, I adore the beautiful colors of autumn as dis[played on this hutch from Custom Comforts


source


Wow...what a feast for the eyes! My little hutch is just that, very little, but I think with all of this wonderful inspiration I should be able to create something beautiful for our living room to help usher in my favorite season, Autumn! 

XO

9/14/14

Elegant 4 Layer Carrot Cake




I've been making this cake for about a year now and I have to say that it may look like a complex dessert but in all actuality it is REALLY easy to create! In order to achieve this pretty rectangular cake, instead of baking the cake in conventional cake pans it is baked in an 16 X 11 jelly roll pan. Then the cake is cut into 4's and are stacked  to create an elegant look. 





The ingredients are fairly basic but since the cake is in a wider longer pan, the baking time is drastically reduced. The recipe uses baking soda in the batter so to raise its pH. This is done to insure the carrots soften enough during the shorter cooking time. 


Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups shredded carrots
cream cheese frosting (I used store bought, roughly 32 ounces, but of course you can always make your own.)
2 cups chopped pecans

First set your oven's baking rack to the middle position, then preheat it to 350 F. Prepare your jelly roll pan by greasing it with cooking spray and then lay a a piece of parchment paper on top and grease the paper with the spray.

In large bowl whisk together the first seven dry ingredients. In another large bowl whisk together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in the carrots and the dry ingredients. Then using a rubber spatula, fold the mixture until it is just combined. Pour the batter into your prepared pan making sure to spread the batter into the corners. Place in oven and bake for 16-18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes on a baking rack. 



Next transfer the cake onto the rack with the parchment paper still under the cake and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Once cake is cooled, slice the cake in half crosswise cutting through the parchment paper as well. Then slice each half lengthwise, again making sure you cut the parchment paper, to create 4 equal rectangle cakes. 

Using a cake board or large plate turn one of the cakes onto it, paper side up, and then carefully peel off the paper. Spread about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of frosting on to the first layer and then repeat for the other three layers. (If your cake has baked with an uneven thickness, adjust the orientation of the layers so they are stacked to produce a level cake.) Once your cake is assembled frost all 4 sides of the cake. Then gently press the chopped pecans into the 4 sides of the cake. 




Chill for about one hour before serving.

Enjoy!!!
 
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9/11/14

Our Seasonal Gallery Wall




I have often struggled with what to put on the wall above our piano. I've had mirrors there and various pieces of art work, but with the room taking on an entirely new look I decided to make the space into a gallery of photos of which I can change out the pictures to reflect the seasons. 




I had a few pictures of the kids at different ages in pumpkin patches, so I thought it would be cute to go with a pumpkin theme. I added mini pumpkins to the top of the piano to tie it into the pumpkin patch idea. 




I also added two photos I had taken during the fall of 2012...just before Superstorm Sandy!




The upper left hand picture is one I took of the grist mill in Clinton NJ. The lower right had photo was taken in Voorhees State park. I loved the beautiful orange of the trees.





The pictures were printed out at my local Walmart for about $6 a print, and the frames were purchased at Michael's craft store for $20 each. So the grand total of my wall art is a little over $100.

I still have a few more items to attend to before I show you the total reveal of the living room, but I have to say so far I am really loving the room's new vibe!

Hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Thursday!!!

XO

9/9/14

Our 2014 Fall Entry




Each year our foyer takes on a new look in the way of furnishings. From a buffet to an old radio and turntable combo to this year's cedar chest, the front room's furniture seems to be on a constant merry-go-round. When I rearranged the furniture for my master bedroom makeover, (to see the makeover click here) this cedar chest no longer fit in the room's new configuration and had to be relocated to another spot in our home. To be honest I kind of like it here at least for now. The mirror above the chest helps to fill up the wall and the shelf adds some architectural interest to the space.




This year I decided to go with a grand and colorful floral arrangement for atop the chest. To soften the look of the wood, a quilt, which was handmade by my cousin Carol, was placed on top of the chest.




Some darling miniature pumpkins fill the little ceramic weave basket.





And that is our autumn inspired foyer!
 Hope you are ell enjoying some cooler fall weather with its stunning blue skies and white puffy clouds!




And have a great day!
XO
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