Friday, October 31, 2014

Getting Ready for Halloween Night

 

 

 

We are getting ready for the trick or treaters here. The orange lights are strung around a tree next to my front porch and a spooky witch hangs, waiting to scare those brave enough to be out in the dark. The past two days have been spent making pile after pile of leaves for the initial clean up, but there are many more bags to fill before fall ends. Trees are wonderful to have around until they overwhelm our yard, every fall. My husband does a little, I do a little and our teenage yard boy does a little and slowly, but surely they get picked up. My puppy was not thrilled with this photo op, but such is the life of a dog with a blogger in the family :-)

 

 

I did a trial run last night of the Halloween cocktail I will be sipping while handing out candy to the trick or treaters and it is a good one. This year I will be enjoying a Caramel Apple Martini, perfect for any fall occasion that calls for a festive cocktail. The caramel vodka is really good and I will be looking for more drink recipes that use it.

To make this yummy martini, simply add 2 ounces of caramel vodka, 2 ounces of apple cider and 1 ounce of Buttershot liqueur to a martini shaker, filled with ice. Shake well and pour into a martini glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar. To get the cinnamon sugar to stick to the glass, rub a little apple cider around the rim. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend!

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sugar Free Banana Bread Coffee Cake

 

 

What to do with the two old, tired bananas sitting in my fruit bowl? It is impossible for me to just throw them out, when I know they can make some delicious muffins of bread. But, I was in the mood for something a little different. The perfect solution was found in this Banana Bread Coffee Cake and I even made it sugar free.

What makes a slice of coffee cake different than a slice of banana bread? This coffee cake is more dense than banana bread, but still very moist. Also, it has the most delicious streusel topping; that classic mix of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and melted butter. It elevates the taste and is very complimentary to the banana flavor.

The next time you reach for over ripe bananas to make your favorite muffin or bread recipe, give this yummy coffee cake recipe a try. I will be having some this morning with my coffee and savoring every bite :-)

Happy Thursday!

 

Sugar Free Banana Bread Coffee Cake


For the cake batter:

1/2 cup Truvia for baking

4 T butter, melted

2 overripe bananas, mashed

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt


For the streusel topping:

1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar

2 T flour

2 tsp cinnamon

2 T melted butter


Spray a 10" pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix together Truvia, 4 T melted butter, and egg. Add milk and mashed bananas, mixing well. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.

Prepare streusel by mixing together, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and melted butter in a small bowl. Pour cake batter in prepared pie plate, then top with streusel. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean, when tested. Cut in wedges to serve. Enjoy!


{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm


Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Sunny Simple Life

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Autumn Mantel in the Morning Light

 

 

 

Mornings in the fall have a soft light that just begs for candlelight. No more early summer sun shining through the windows, but a soft gray light that slowly starts the day. I decided to capture the beauty of my autumn mantel, lit by candlelight, one quiet morning, long before my house was fully awake. With cup of coffee in hand, I lit some candles and spent some time focusing on the soft glow of morning light.

 

 

My autumn mantel is filled with pumpkins of every shape, size and texture that can be found. My newest addition to the mix this year was a large orange pumpkin perched on top of a bed of spanish moss.

 

 

The soft light of morning makes the reflecting candlelight glow off the face of the pumpkins. It brings out the subtle colors of autumn and the natural textures, I so love. There is beauty in the mixture of the different shades of red, gold and orange resting together, side by side. Small acorns are tucked here and there to give depth to the display. The arrangement is casual with pumpkins leaning artfully against another. Your eye is drawn to the uniqueness of each piece and the morning light highlights each subtle difference.

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

My 1929 Charmer

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Thrifty Decor Chick

 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rivalry Weekend

 

 

 

We had the best day on the Michigan State campus on Saturday, with seemingly the whole state of Michigan in attendance as rivalry weekend came once again. You are either a MSU or a University of Michigan fan on game day and the air is filled with good natured insults as friendships and family ties are tested. We are a divided family, since Megan is a University of Michigan grad, in a family full of Spartans.

 

 

It was extremely crowded, with everyone fighting for space to set up their tents and tailgate spot, but the atmosphere was electric, with so many people having a great time. Everyone cheered when the sun finally came out, just before noon. Our brunch menu was fantastic, with made to order omelettes and cinnamon french toast. The platter of s'more brownies I made did not last long since everyone can't resist a little chocolate.

 

 

Melissa had the day off from her MSU Pompon team duties, so when she stopped by with some friends, we made sure to get some photos with my sister and brother in law for our annual family photo calendar.

 

 

Tailgating on Saturdays in the fall is one of my favorite things to do and rivalry weekend is the best weekend there is. You see so many friends all in one place and you never know who will stop by your tailgate. We even had the U.S. Senator from Michigan stop to chat and pose for pictures with us. I just like to sit in my chair until game time and soak in all the atmosphere.

And of course, we are there for the football game and it did not disappoint. MSU came away with a victory, is still ranked high in the polls and we are ready for our next tailgate and big game against Ohio State.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Club - Jane Eyre Night

 

 

 

Last night's book club centered around our discussion of Jane Eyre and the consensus of the group was that we all loved revisiting this classic, gothic romance. The member who picked the book is always in charge of leading the discussion and she happened to be an English Lit major in college, so we were in very good hands. She came with talking points and discussion questions and as always, our discussion was lively, opinionated and sometimes loud. We all agreed, that reading Jane Eyre at this stage of life, is infinitely a different experience than reading it as a teenager.

 

 

Before our book discussion started, we sat down together to a beautiful dinner. We started with a spicy squash soup, drizzled with creme fresh and topped with the toasted squash seeds. Our hostess also prepared a chicken dish with olives and artichokes, thinly sliced and wonderfully seasoned potatoes and sautéed green beans with almonds. Dessert and coffee were served after our discussion; a light and fluffy slice of pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

The group was small last night, but we more than made up for it with our enjoyable and interesting look at a classic novel. If you are in a book club, or just need a new book to read, try reading a classic novel, just for the pleasure of it. It can be a wonderful and enlightening experience.

 

 

Have a wonderful weekend. It is rivalry weekend here in Michigan - MSU plays U of M on Saturday afternoon. We will be there tailgating bright and early in the morning, wearing our green and white and cheering the Spartans on to victory!

 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Death Comes to Pemberley

 

 

 

A PBS Masterpiece Theatre and BBC adaptation based on a favorite novel is something that makes me very happy. Sunday night, Death Comes to Pemberley will finally be shown in the states, after airing to good reviews in England last year.

It is based on the novel of the same name, by respected mystery writer P.D. James and picks up six years after Pride and Prejudice left off. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are living a quiet, happy life at Pemberley and in the midst of planning an autumn ball. On the eve of the ball, a murder occurs, involving Elizabeth's disgraced sister Lydia and her husband of dubious character, Wickham. What follows is a wonderful murder mystery set in the world of Jane Austen.

The book, on which it is based, was very good and the characters and situations are very true to the spirit of Pride and Prejudice. It will be interesting to see the set recreation of Pemberley, the costumes and the new actors cast as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Of course for me, there will never be a better Mr. Darcy than Colin Firth, but Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) is an interesting choice.

It begins Sunday night and will be shown in two parts, concluding next Sunday, November 2nd. You will find me in front of my television, once again lost in the lovely world of Pride and Prejudice, this time with a murder mystery as the plot.

Happy Thursday!

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Fall Cocktails

 

 

 

The fresh apple cider you find in the fall, either from the cider mill or right from your local grocery store is the featured ingredient in the two delicious and fun cocktails I have put together in the past few years. I always make a seasonal cocktail on Halloween night to enjoy while I pass out candy to all the little trick or treaters and haven't decided on a new one for this Halloween, but I have a few ideas pinned and ready to go on Pinterest. One possibility is a caramel apple martini that sounds heavenly.

For the cocktails I have made in the past, you can find the recipe for an Apple Cider Buttershot Cocktail here and the recipe for an Apple Pie Cocktail here. Both are easy and quick to put together and have delicious fall flavor to enjoy, right in your favorite cocktail glass.

I think I will be making the Apple Cider Buttershot Cocktail at my tailgate this weekend since it has only two ingredients to bring along and will go well with the brunch we have planned. Fun cocktails, with apple cider and fall just go together.

Happy Wednesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

All She Cooks


Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Autumn Candles

 

 

 

This was a quiet weekend, which was a nice change of pace. I had time to do a little DIY project in between the massive amounts of laundry Melissa brought home as college students tend to do - but it is something you gladly do for them, because you know they are in the middle of midterms and their stress level is high. We also took a couple hours to see Gone Girl and I thought it was very good and a great representation of the book. It has been a long time since I read the book and Melissa had not read it herself, so we were both on the edge of our seats, a lot of the time.

These candles are so easy and fun to put together and I love to use this idea from holiday to holiday. For the autumn season this year, I used simple white candles and two kinds of burlap ribbon.

 

 

To place the ribbon on the candles, simply wrap the ribbon tightly around the candle, leaving space at the top and the bottom. Use pearl topped pins to secure the edges. I like to group them together on a candle plate, along with jar candle, with a great scent. I keep this display on my kitchen counter, ready to lend some seasonal cheer on those dark fall nights.

Last fall, I used a combination of ribbon and burlap for a completely different look.

Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

My 1929 Charmer

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Thrifty Decor Chick

Friday, October 17, 2014

Empty Nest Feels Empty

 

 

 

Having an empty nest is a funny thing. Most days have a rhythm that moves along; you are busy or at the very least content. But, out of the blue you begin to miss the little things. It may be time for a pedicure and I have to go alone, rather than with one or both daughters. Or, I start seeing the trailer for the new Mockingjay movie and realize going to see those movies together has always been a tradition.

It is not the big things that you miss, because they will be home for holidays and other family events. It's the sound of the laughter and voices drifting down from the upstairs bedrooms. It's the impromptu shopping trips to find just the right thing. It's early morning breakfast at our favorite spot and catching up on life.

Technology is great and there are many ways to keep in touch that I am thankful for. But, there is nothing like looking into their eyes and hearing their voice in person to let you know that everything is good with them. There is nothing like having them at home, sleeping in their old bedrooms and knowing they will be there in the morning when they wake up.

Luckily, I will be seeing both daughters very soon, spending some time catching up and getting that hug I need. Having an empty nest is a process with mostly good days and other days spent missing what once was. Lately, I have to admit, I miss them.

Have a great weekend!

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Book Club and the Classics

 

 

 

I am in the middle of reading Jane Eyre and enjoying it very much. My book club has made a decision to read one classic novel over the year; somewhat of a departure from our usual best seller fare. We do have eclectic taste, but rereading the classics is still a far cry from 50 Shades of Grey.

There is a certain rhythm to reading a classic novel. There is no multitasking, as is my habit; both reading and watching television at the same time. You need to give these novels your full attention and absorb the words and get lost in the beauty and pace of the language. It has been since high school that I have read any of these novels and I wonder if my middle age eyes and perspective will be different than that of a 17 year old girl. Also, there is the joy of reading for pleasure, rather than an assignment with an exam and paper to follow.

These novels are called classics for a reason and deserve to be revisited time and time again. They evoke memories of the first time read and how the words and phrases made you feel and more importantly made you think. I can still remember reading Little Women and wanting to be Jo or my junior year in high school, the sadness I felt for Heather Prynne, in The Scarlet Letter.

I am thankful for my book club for many reasons and giving me a reason to pick up and read my favorite classic novels again, at this stage in my life, has been a great gift. I will be caught up in the world of Jane Eyre all day today and happy to be there.

Happy Thursday!

 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oven Baked Deep Dish Apple Pancake

 

 

 

When I see the bowl of apples sitting on my kitchen counter, my first thought is to bake something delicious. I love baking a breakfast dish on a rainy morning - there is something about being in the kitchen with the lights low and the oven warming, that is just so cozy.

This recipe for an Oven Baked Deep Dish Apple Pancake looked quick, easy and delicious. I think there are two kinds of people; those who like savory breakfasts and those who like something sweet. I definitely choose sweet over savory every time. But, since I eat very little sugar, this recipe was easy to adapt to a low sugar version.

The pancake puffed up beautifully in the oven and was very light and fluffy. The apples added a lovely fall flavor to my morning, and the cinnamon and sugar added to the pancake mix gave just the right amount of sweetness. I drizzled my piece with a small amount of sugar free maple syrup and enjoyed every bite.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Oven Baked Deep Dish Apple Pancake


3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup fat free milk

3/4 cup pancake mix

4 T sugar ( I used Splenda for baking)

1 tsp cinnamon

2 large apples, peeled and sliced


In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, milk, pancake mix, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Spray a deep dish glass pie plate with cooking spray. Place sliced apples on bottom of pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes, or until apples are tender. Pour the reserved batter over the apples, cover with foil and bake at 450 degrees for 12 - 14 minutes or until the pancake is set. Cut in wedges and serve apple side up. Drizzle with maple syrup, if desired. Enjoy!


{Linking with these friends}

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

All She Cooks


Between Naps on the Porch

Savvy Southern Style

Sunny Simple Life

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Friday Night Bunco

 

 

 

After missing the first Bunco night of the season in September, it was really fun to be able to go this past Friday night. It was so wonderful to catch up with my neighbors, after a busy summer for everyone. We were joined this time by our host's three sisters, visiting from out of town, so it was nice to meet some new people, as well as see how much fun it is to play Bunco, through some fresh eyes.

The way our group works, is that everyone brings an appetizer or dessert and the hostess supplies the drinks for the night. It is very easy to host with things set up like this and the food is always delicious. One of my favorites of the night were lettuce wraps you could assemble on your own with crunchy veggies and a chicken and soba noodle filling. Our hostess also made a platter of mini apple turnovers that were a great October dessert and the perfect little dessert bite.

 

 

As for wins and loses - you can see how my night started and that is exactly how I finished. We have a cash prize for the biggest loser and I not only tied for that distinction, I also lost the prize in a roll off. But, it's not about winning or losing; it's about neighbors and old friends keeping in touch and it's the silly dice game that gives us a reason.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Colorful Fall Walk

 

 

 

My puppy Cooper and I set out for a walk yesterday afternoon a little earlier than usual, because I wanted to capture the lovely fall light shining through the changing leaves, along our walking path. The sky is bright blue, but the light is softer than usual when in filters through the leaves. Cooper loves this time of year too; so many leaves on the ground to explore.

 

 

As we walk, spots of color and falling leaves on the ponds and streams catch my eye and reward me with their quiet beauty. The reflection of the trees on the pond is like a painting.

 

 

A gentle breeze rustles the leaves as all aspects of nature begin their fall changes right before my eyes. There was even beauty to be found in a close up look at these cattails gone to seed.

 

 

The bright blue sky is the perfect backdrop for the emerging shades of red and gold. I am so lucky to have these wonderful paths, right in my neighborhood, that afford me the chance to be inspired by nature, every time I walk.

Have a wonderful fall weekend!

 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Letter and a Pumpkin

 

 

 

I get ideas from browsing Pinterest all the time. Often times they are fanciful ideas that look pretty, but probably will never come to fruition. But, it's the simple ideas that make me say " why did I never think of doing that" which I love the most.

 

 

A pin with the idea of hanging letters from pumpkins for a Cinderella birthday party made me think of doing the same for fall. I simply bought a white initial from Michaels, spray painted it quickly with some spray paint I had, to give it a metallic finish. As I was spraying it, I noticed the paint, meant for metal, was giving the wood a speckled look, but as often happens when I try something new, I liked the result.

It gives a faux pumpkin a whimsical touch; just a bit of an unexpected addition that I like. You could even take this one step further and line up four pumpkins with the letters f a l l - how adorable would that be?

Oh Pinterest, how you inspire us!

 

{Linking with these friends}


A Stroll Thru Life

My 1929 Charmer

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have A Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson

Serenity Now

Between Naps on the Porch

Cozy Little House

Craftberry Bush

Live Laugh Rowe

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

DIY by Design

Coastal Charm

Stonegable

Thrifty Decor Chick

 

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