happy fall

Fall has long been my absolute favorite time of year, and in my opinion Boise in the fall is one of the best places you can be. Beautiful crisp mornings, tons of trees changing colors, and just warm enough that you can still be outside and enjoy all the beauty around you.

So, in honor of my most beloved season, I thought I’d share with you a quick fall craft that will bring all the great smells of the season into your home. All you need is a small pie pumpkin, apple corer, knife, spoon, tea light and some common household spices.

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Ready? Good! Let’s make some pumpkin luminaries!

Step one: Cut off the pumpkin’s top and scrape out all the innards. (You can save the seeds for roasting, click here for some yummy recipes.)

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Step two: Carve out holes all around the pumpkin with the apple corer.

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Step three: Rub cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg onto the lid. You can also push whole cloves into the lid if you have them.

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Step four: Place a tea light in the bottom of the pumpkin, light it, put on the lid and sit back and enjoy that lovely “pumpkin-pie-just-out-of-the-oven” scent for up to six hours. Preferably with a cup of warm apple cider in hand!

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six years

This past weekend J and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. I can’t believe we have already been married for six years, but I am so thankful and so blessed to be married to my best friend. What a gift! To celebrate our anniversary we always go away for the weekend to some fun and interesting place. This year was no exception, in fact, I think it was our best spot yet! For a couple of years now we had been hearing about an organic farm in Moscow, ID that was also a B&B. Then, in the July issue of Sunset Magazine they had a whole article on this beautiful farm and, being in Idaho, we knew this was where we wanted to go for our anniversary. The place is called MaryJanes Farm and, surprisingly, it is run by MaryJane. This woman is like the organic, more earthy version of Martha Stewart and after last weekend she has definitely become one of my role models. The B&B is quite unique because your “room” is actually an incredible wall tent out in the woods on her farm. But this isn’t your ordinary camping trip. No, no, this is high class glamping, (glamor + camping = glamping) complete with gourmet breakfasts. Our tent was absolutely gorgeous, we had our own outdoor kitchen, fire pit, and private hammock on the lake. And to top it all off, we had our own outdoor claw-foot bathtub that you could heat up with propane burners and then take a bath under the stars. The whole experience was magical, and I just had to share some photos from out time there. If any of you reading this live in Idaho or the Seattle area I highly recommend checking this place out, it is amazing!

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While on the farm guests can pick any of the fresh fruit and veggies to enjoy during their stay. We had lots of amazing strawberries and raspberries... This is a view from the vegetable patch.
While on the farm guests can pick any of the fresh fruit and veggies to enjoy during their stay. We had lots of amazing strawberries and raspberries... This is a view from the vegetable patch.
Breakfast from our first morning. Course #1: Creamy polenta porridge with fresh strawberries picked that morning from their organic farm.
Breakfast from our first morning. Course #1: Creamy polenta porridge with fresh strawberries picked that morning from their organic farm.
Course #2: Tomato and feta caprese with an organic balsamic vinegar reduction & Fresh cantalope and oranges with whipped cream infused with canatlope puree.
Course #2: Tomato and feta caprese with an organic balsamic vinegar reduction & Fresh cantalope and oranges with whipped cream infused with canatlope puree.
Course #3 (I know, this is getting ridiculous, right?) Farm fresh organic eggs, sausage, home fries, and homemade mini biscuts with sausage gravy.
Course #3 (I know, this is getting ridiculous, right?) Farm fresh organic eggs, sausage, home fries, and homemade mini biscuts with sausage gravy.
    Our bed inside the tent. There was also a great wood stove, table for writing, and an antique chest filled with quilts and games.
Our bed inside the tent. There was also a great wood stove, table for writing, and an antique chest filled with quilts and games.
The picnic table outside our tent. The tent, table, and bathtub were all on a wooden platform to keep everything clean and dry. Not to mention it looks really cool!
The picnic table outside our tent. The tent, table, and bathtub were all on a wooden platform to keep everything clean and dry. Not to mention it looks really cool!
In the background is our lovely tub. You'd fill it up with water from a hose attached to the sink, turn on the propane burners below, and in about 1.5 hours you have a wonderful bath ready to go. MaryJane even provided amazing organic lavender bubble bath!
In the background is our lovely tub. You'd fill it up with water from a hose attached to the sink, turn on the propane burners below, and in about 1.5 hours you have a wonderful bath ready to go. MaryJane even provided amazing organic lavender bubble bath!
Our private hammock. We'd lay out here every night and watch shooting stars. Amazing.
Our private hammock. We'd lay out here every night and watch shooting stars. Amazing.

Aside from the loveliness of our retreat spot, J and I also take our anniversary weekend as a time to reflect on the previous year and chart a course for the year to come. We even fill out little journal packets reflecting on our year and setting goals for the next 12 months. (Can you tell we’re both a bit of the A-type, goal oriented personality sorts? If you find yourself in this category too and would like a copy of our little question packets just let me know, I’d be happy to send you a copy.) But, my favorite part of this reflecting time is the top 10 photo album we put together of our favorite memories from the year. They’re just little 12-15 page photo albums that we fill giving each event a picture or memento and then on the opposite page we write a little summary of the memory. We’ve been doing this since our engagement and we now have seven wonderful little books that are filled with highlights from our years together. This has been such a fun activity for us that I thought I’d share the idea with you all in case any of you would like to start your own yearly top 10 books. I’m big on memorializing and celebrating milestones, so if any of you have other fun ideas I’d love to hear them! Anyway, below is a photo of our books. It’s so fun to look back on all we’ve done together… we’ve managed to pack a lot into these last six years together!

See the little stains on the inside cover? I may, or may not have gotten a little zealous with the port one night...
See the little stains on the inside cover? I may, or may not have gotten a little zealous with the port one night...

Happy Anniversary, J. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.

saturday soup & sewing

It’s cold and rainy in Vancouver today… perfect weather for staying inside and spending some quality time with my sewing machine. 😉 I wanted to share with you a soup recipe that is our most comforting stand-by and is really quick to put together. It’s called Tomato and Rice Soup with Pesto and it comes from this crock pot recipe book. (A book I was given way back in high school and have loved ever since!) It has tons of great recipes and will definitely have you pulling out your slow cooker to whip together delicious meals fast. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we do, let me know if you try it…

Tomato and Rice Soup with Pesto

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 6-ounce can Italian-style tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rice
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart crockery cooker combine onion, carrot, celery, undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, and pepper. Stir in water and chicken or vegetable broth.
  2. Cover; cook on low-heat for 8-10 hours or on high-heat for 4-5 hours.
  3. Stir in rice. Cover; let stand 6-7 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in pesto. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 6.

I have two projects to share with you today, as I was finally able to finish up the Grad Bag, and I also had the fun of making up a cute little baby gift for one of our friends who is due in just a few short weeks. So, first, the Grad Bag… it’s really not that complicated of a bag to sew together, but for some reason this past week I had the hardest time getting myself to sit down and sew! However, a couple of days ago I once again found my sewing mojo and have been busy finishing up these projects!

The Grad Bag

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Baby Shower Bundle

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This baby gift was really fun to put together. I made a changing pad, three burp clothes, and a set of Alphabet cards. All of these projects can be found online, so I wanted to be sure and share them with you as they make for quick and adorable baby gifts!

First, the diaper changing pad is a project by sewtakeahike and you can find her great tutorial here. This is a great blog and she has lots of fun projects and ideas – I highly reccommend checking it out!

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Then, I made up three burp clothes using cloth diapers and some fun fabric. There are tons of tutorials out there for making these, but I based my pattern off of a tutorial I found here.

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Also, I printed off a great set of alphabet cards from one of my favorite graphic designers, Patricia Zapata. She has a wonderful site called A Little Hut and in her shop you can buy these alphabet flash cards in PDF form and then print them out over and over from your own computer. They are really wonderful and the design is so simple, clean, and beautiful. Much better than the usually over-the-top decor offered by mainstream baby shops. Go check out her site – you won’t be disappointed!

And finally, what girls night would be complete without a little favor? Martha once again came to the rescue with this great little project. You can download the PDF and print it directly onto sticker paper. Each sheet comes with both a “Mom-to-be” label and a “Relaxing Foot Soak” label so you can make a special one for the guest of honor, and then a bag with the other label for all the other guests – too fun!

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saturday soup & sewing

This weekend things were a little bit different as J and I had to go down to Seattle in order for him to complete another phase of his journey towards ordination with the Free Methodists. For him that meant a six hour psychological exam, both oral and written. For me that meant a lovely day to myself in one of my all time favorite spots – Edmonds! It is such a cute little town – I don’t know why we didn’t spend more time there when we were living in Seattle. Oh well, maybe we’ll get to live in the Pacific Northwest again one day (fingers crossed and knocking loudly on wood…). Anyway, because we weren’t home to make up a big batch of soup, J and I decided to treat ourselves to the best chowder anywhere at our local Duke’s. For any of you lucky enough to live in Seattle, you know what I’m talking about. And for those of you that have never had the privilege, feel free to drool over the bowl of yumminess below. I must admit, however, that the best part of our meal was getting to share it with J’s brother and his lovely wife! We don’t get to see those two nearly enough, so it was a real treat to get to hang out with them – thanks guys!

I always order Duke’s Dungeness Crab & Bourbon Chowder – and in my opinion it is the best chowder made by humankind. Unfortunately, the recipe is a closely guarded secret. Luckily, several years back Duke’s posted their recipe for clam chowder that also gets rave reviews, so I thought I’d share that with you today. If you want to try the Dungeness Crab & Bourbon Chowder you’ll need to book the next flight to Seattle.

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Duke’s Clam Chowder

Ingredients
•    4 slices bacon, diced
•    1 medium onion, diced
•    3 stalks celery, diced
•    1/4 lb new potato, blanched and diced
•    4 cups heavy cream
•    1 1/2 cups clams, chopped
•    1/3 cup flour
•    1/2 cup half-and-half
•    3 ounces butter
•    2 ounces clam base
•    1 1/4 cups clam juice
•    1 pinch garlic, chopped
•    1 pinch white pepper
•    1 pinch black pepper
•    1 pinch cayenne, to taste
•    1 teaspoon marjoram
•    2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
•    1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
•    1/4 teaspoon dill
•    1/2 teaspoon thyme
•    2 bay leaves
•    1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions
•    Cook bacon until transparent.
•    Add butter, onions, celery and all the seasoning except dill and parsley.
•    Cook until tender. Add flour and cook 3 to 4 minutes over low heat.
•    Add all dairy products, clam nectar and base. Heat just under boiling point.
•    Steam potatoes and cool.
•    Add chopped clams and potatoes. Bring to a boil slowly and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add dill and parsley and serve.

My project this week is a little toiletry bag. I’ve been tweaking a pattern that I made up a few years back for a while now, and am getting closer to a finished product that I really like. The trickiest part about making these types of bags is putting in the zipper. I’ve learned the hard way that to do this successfully you need two things.

1) A zipper foot. If you don’t have one, stop what you’re doing, go to the store and buy one immediately, you will not be sorry!

2) You must read this tutorial! Twelve22 explains sewing in a zipper in a very clear, concise and easy to follow way. Bookmark the link and I bet you’ll come back to it again and again.

Okay, now for the bag… I call it my my Posie Bag, because it’s the perfect place to store a pocketfull of your favorite treasures.

Posie Bag

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