Monday, November 25, 2013

Pressed leaf display

Every year, it's the same old thing: I gather fall leaves as if I'll never see them again.
I don't really know why I do it. I just love them. They are all over the ground and so beautiful and so different from each other and so, what's a girl to do but pick them up and pack them around?
For the most part, I never do anything with them but look at them a few times then eventually toss them outside to go where leaves go in the winter.

Here is a fun picture I took a few years ago of some leaves I found while hiking with my kids:

Anyway, this year I wanted to do more than just take a picture of the beautiful leaves--this year I wanted to do something pretty to display them. I can't remember where I saw this idea? Pinterest? a magazine? Who knows, it is easy enough so I never saved info about it.

 The craft was easy, the material-gathering was not!
After contemplating how to get glass and the pros/cons of purchasing cut glass, I finally had the great idea to just buy some old frames at a thrift store. I went to our local D.I. and, as usual, it was loaded with horrid-ugly and old picture frames for $1 a piece. So, I bought 3 pairs of matching sizes (2 8x10's, etc.). When I got home, I took the glass out of the frames (tossed the frames) and washed the glass all up nice. 
So, check one: got the glass.

I already had loads of leaves I'd collected--stuffed in random books all over my house. :) Re-finding them was a bit tricky, but I found them all (I think).

Next, I needed some tape. I will say, this step was major annoying. I remember that in the magazine/website/wherever I saw this project, they said they used book binding tape. So, I called around town to no avail. Well, surely Amazon will have some. Not so much either. I mean, Amazon did have some book binding tape, but only in white and black and it was way more money than I was willing to spend on this. 
Back to the ol' drawing board. 
Eventually, I decided on this tape:

Variety of colors, nice paper-ish texture. Should be great, right? Well, yes, it is great, but also not quite what I was expecting. I was thinking it'd be at least 1/2-inch wide, but it's tiny! itty, bitty tiny!
In the end, I smashed my already-pressed leaves between the two panes of glass, taped the edges with clear scotch tape and then used the brown tape from this package to just line the edges of the front glass to create a "frame" for the leaf display. It didn't wrap around the edges as planned, but I'm good with improvising, so that's what we did! Turned out just fine. ;)

Now that fall is almost over, I finally have my pressed leaf display up. :) And I've enjoyed it very much!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cranberry Almond Scones

When I say the first big display of cranberries at he grocery store I just couldn't help myself. There's something about that bright red color and the tangy juicy 'pop' you get when you bite into one that just calls my name. Not to mention the way the taste when combined with almonds or orange. Heavenly. 
So I had to buy a bag, or two. 
And since they freeze so well, there's really no reason why I couldn't have picked-up three or four. 

I've shared cranberry recipes before, including these Cranberry Orange Muffins

Which are divine by the way and I'm sure I'll be making some soon. 

But this time I decided to try something new. 
Cranberry Almond Scones

They were every bit as good as the muffins and let me tell you, they disappeared FAST!
I used Jaime's Strawberry Scones recipe (sooooo good)
and adapted it a bit to make these Cranberry Almond Scones. 
Hope you enjoy!

Cranberry Almond Scones

2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat)

1/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. butter

¾ c. milk
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds

~1 c. chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)


1.    Preheat oven to 400°.

2.  sprinkle about 1/2 cup sliced almonds onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes. They should just start to get a little golden. Keep an eye on them, they can go from toasted to burnt in a minute!
3.    In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, toasted almonds, baking powder and salt.

4.    Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
5.  Add the cranberries and stir in the milk (and almond extract if desired) just until combined.

6.    On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into either a circle or a square, then cut the dough into 8 wedges or 9 squares.

7.    Place on a greased cookie sheet; bake for 16 minutes or until scones are golden brown.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Knotted Friendship Bracelet Instructions

Time for a little trip down memory lane. 
Man, when I was younger (late elementary school, early middle school years) I LOVED making these knotted friendship bracelets. I made them by the dozen! I wore lots of them at once, gave them away, sold them. Whatever. 

Well, you can imagine my nostalgia when my six-year-old wanted to make one.

We've had great fun tying knots together at night. Hers is much BRIGHTER--all sorts of pinks and greens and purples. 
I decided to make a more grown-up version and use these lovely fall colors. 
I love it. Guess not much has changed since I was 11-years-old. :) I kind of want to make another one now that this one is finished.

 It's easy enough to make too. 
My mom (bless her) saved my old friendship-making book all these years. Here are the instructions for the
"Sharp Chevron" that I made. 

First, the basic knots you make on both the left and right side of the bracelet:

And now the actual instructions for making the bracelet. These instructions are for using four different colors; I used five. So, pick your colors, cut the strings extra long--a good 2-yards long each. Then fold them in the middle and knot it so that there is a loop at the top as shown below.
 Happy Knotting!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Muffins (vegan) with Crystalized Ginger

These pumpkin muffins are a staple around my house. I have a few other recipes I sometimes use, but this one is by far my favorite--it's loaded with molasses and consequently so rich and old-fashioned tasting. 
I love them and make them frequently every fall.
I recently have taken to putting bits of crystallized ginger in them as well, which is a fun addition that makes them extra special and warm.

 I've also discovered that this muffin recipe is super easy to adapt for my egg-free little girl (thank goodness).
Muffins have actually been one of the easiest things to adapt, especially ones that are already loaded with moist ingredients like applesauce, zucchini or in this case, pumpkin. 
Now we can all enjoy them together!

Hope you enjoy them--they are a perfectly delightful way to enjoy a crisp autumn or winter morning.

Pumpkin Muffins with Crystallized Ginger (with Vegan adaptions)
Click here to print

½ c. butter (or coconut oil)
Scant ¾ c. brown sugar
1/3 c. molasses
1 egg, beaten (or 2 Tbsp. flax seed meal + 3 Tbsp. water. Let stand 5 minutes.)
1 c. cooked pumpkin puree
1 c. whole-wheat flour
¾ c. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/3 c. crystallized ginger or raisins (opt.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.
  2. Cream the butter or coconut oil until soft. Add the sugar and molasses and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg (or flax seed paste) and pumpkin and stir until well blended.
  4. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Fold into the wet ingredients until blended. Fold the crystallized ginger or raisins into the pumpkin mixture until just evenly combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the tops spring back when touched. Serve warm or cold.

Click here to print.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving and Fall Decorations and Wheat Wreath

I finally decorated my dining room shelf for Thanksgiving!

 Once I took down the Halloween decor, I've been scheming for something a bit more Thanksgiving-ish.

I knew for sure that I wanted to make a wheat wreath; I've been planning that one for months. My girls and I "harvested" a few handfuls from a farmer's field earlier in the year, and then in October I swiped some soft wheat-looking weeds from the ditch bank at our local corn maze when I took my girls with my friend Sally. It's all been sitting in piles in my garage for quite awhile now. I think my husband was starting to wonder if I had a plan or had just gone mad. :) 

Well, earlier this week, I brought the whole messy (and I mean MESSY) pile right into my dining room and brought out a straw wreath form I've been saving for months (which I paid $.50 for at the thrift store I might add) and we went to town. I was working fast during baby girl's nap--my 3-year-old cutting wheat to size (she loved using the scissors!) and me gluing it on.

One word of advice for making wheat wreaths: clumps. Remember that: clumps. At first I was gluing on individual wheat stalks, but soon realized that gluing clumps (see image below) on was much more efficient and better-looking. I even started bundling them together with string or long grass leaves.

 I even had enough left over to make a few wheat bouquets.

Then, and this might be my favorite part, I harvested what was left of my lavender and lemon thyme, bundled them together for drying and hung them up on a rustic cutting board I received from a friend of mine, who happens to be a potter. He makes pots. Like from clay and a potters wheel. :)

I added a few of these seeds and seed pods I'd collected with my girls on a run a week or so ago. They are so pretty and interesting looking.
Anyone know the name of the tree these come from? Anyone?

And last but certainly not least, our Thankful Tree. Or perhaps I should call it a Thankful branch.
A few years ago we made a Thankful Tree and now it is a tradition, although I will say it has never looked the same twice. Last year, for example, we cut out the shape of a turkey with construction paper and added thankful feathers. This year, I had a bit more energy (I'm no longer 8.5 months pregnant) so I went all out with this branch. 
I tied either end with twine to dangle it from the shelf then wrapped it all in stretchy floss used for making bracelets. 
Each morning we write something new we are thankful for on a "leaf" and then slip it into the floss. Sometimes I even dangle it from a string of floss for variety. 

All-in-all, the decorations are a fun theme for this Thanksgiving. 

I hope your Thanksgiving plans are coming along!