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It’s Fall Y’all

Fall is the best. The weather starts getting cooler, the leaves change colors, football is in season, a fresh school year. Everything just seems better in the fall. I so enjoy decorating my house and making it all festive and fall-like. I think I decorate more for fall than I do for Christmas! One of my favorite parts of fall is PUMPKIN. I’m a huge Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte fan (though I don’t allow myself one until it’s cold outside…) and I love baking with pumpkin. I guess I could do that year round, but then it wouldn’t be special.

So far I have made three different pumpkin recipes- cake, cookies, and a layered dessert. (I had to make the cookies twice because I forgot to take pictures the first time… oops?…)

Pumpkin Spice Cake. Now I know this recipe is all over Pinterest, but my mom taught me to make it long before Pinterest was around. It’s so simple. Two ingredients. A box of spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin.

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Mix together (I also like to add a bit of pumpkin pie spice to amp up the flavor some), put in a 9×13 pan, and bake according to box directions. No oil, eggs, water- just those two ingredients! I then frost mine with cream cheese icing, but that’s up to you. So easy, and so delicious.

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[Random story about this cake… our honeymoon took place over Thanksgiving. We spent that day in our cabin in the mountains cooking and eating a Thaknsgiving feast. We made this cake, and between the two of us, we ate it all in less than 24 hours…]

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Cookies- from Skinnytaste 

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  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 Tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets or cover with parchment paper
  2. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.
  3. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugars, then add the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the flour/oat mixture until just combined.
  5. Drop by Tablespoons (or however big/small you want them!) onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  6. Prepare for amazing, moist, pumpkin deliciousness!

Layered Pumpkin Dessert- from Kraft

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  • 25 Nabisco Ginger Snaps, finely crushed (about 1 and one-third cups) (I couldn’t find Nabisco brand…)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 16 oz (2 packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packages (3.4 oz each) Instant Vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press into 9×13 pan. Bake 10 minutes.
  3. Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Add pumpkin and spices, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low until just blended. Pour over crust and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 1 hour.
  4. Beat pudding mixes and milk with whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of Cool Whip. Spread over dessert.
  5. Cover with remaining Cool Whip
  6. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm. Sprinkle with pecans before serving.

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Pioneer Woman Burritos

Another Pioneer Woman recipe. I told you, I’m obsessed. Last week we made delicious Beef and Bean Burritos.

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This picture doesn’t do them justice. Please go to her site to see how amazing they really are! (Someday my photography will get better…)

These are so simple, but everything comes together so wonderfully to make a really great meal. They are so filling too. We both ate two, but that was more than enough.

You can find the recipe and her helpful tips and beautiful pictures here, but I will also post the recipe below.

Beef and Bean Burritos- The Pioneer Woman

  • Ground beef, 2 lbs.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 14 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 28 oz. refried beans
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 12 burrito-size flour tortillas
  • fresh cilantro
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onion. Once the beef is cooked and onion soft, add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Add half the can of enchilada sauce (7 oz) and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. While that is simmering, empty the refried beans into a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat.
  4. This is the best step! Add the 3/4 cup cheese to the beans and stir until the cheese melts. DELICIOUS.
  5. Once the beans and beef mixtures are ready, heat the tortillas in the microwave for 1 minute.  (Only heat as many as you are going to be eating. If there’s only two of you, 12 might be a bit too many)
  6. Spread beans, beef and any other toppings you’d like (we added rice, cheese, and cilantro)
  7. Fold the ends of the tortillas and then roll them up.
  8. Put two burritos on a plate and pour enchilada sauce over them and sprinkle with more cheese.
  9. Heat each set of two in the microwave for 1 minute.
  10. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and ENJOY!!

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Pioneer Woman Pasta

I LOVE The Pioneer Woman. I first fell in love with her in 2011 when I read her book Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, a novel about how she met, dated, and married her husband. It mirrored my relationship with my husband in a lot of ways and it was so fun reading their story and how she went from a city girl to a country wife! From there, I started reading her blog and making some of her recipes. I own her two cookbooks (and a third is coming out soon!). She is just so down to earth and sweet and funny. I don’t get to watch her tv show because all we have are rabbit ears, but I wish I could!

We also share a love for the television show “24” as shown through these tweets. (I nearly DIED when she tweeted me back, TWICE. Never mind that she replies to most of her fans… it was to ME!) (Also, yes, I grayed out my personal twitter handle…. It’s not a private account, but I just feel weird putting it on my blog. I don’t really tweet much anyway. You’re not missing out.) (Also, the pictures are out of order, but it won’t cooperate to fix. So, read right to left.)

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Another thing I LOVE is pasta. If I had to choose three foods to eat for the rest of my life they would be pasta, bread, and cake. Clearly I could never do Atkins. (But maybe I need to.)

Last week I made Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce from Pioneer Woman’s cookbook, Food From my Frontier. We had recently had a similar dish at the Cheesecake Factory and I was very excited to find a make-at-home dish that tasted just as good. In the past, I’ve tried mixing alfredo sauce and marinara to make “creamy tomato”, but it just doesn’t work out for me. I’m pretty picky, especially in the sauce department. (I don’t generally like sauces of any kind.)

Pasta

[Someday there will be beautiful pictures of the cooking process and finished product… Clearly not for this recipe, but hopefully for future posts. Need to make picture taking a priority as I cook!]

This sauce was the perfect blend of tomato-y and creamy. I may cut down on the onion next time (just because I don’t like onions), but other than that it was delicious! Of course it was, PW never lets me down! Though I got this recipe from her cookbook, she also has it posted on her blog (along with her wonderful commentary and pictures) so head over there to check out the recipe!

See Related Posts:

One Pan Pasta

Pioneer Woman Burritos

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

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One Pan Pasta

I have gotten kind of lax in the meal planning department. I used to sit down every Sunday and plan out all our meals for the week and we would try new recipes and we always had a great (but mostly unhealthy) meal each night. Then a few months ago we decided to attempt to eat healthier, and it all fell apart. I am NOT good at planning healthy meals. I hate vegetables, weird healthy things, and weird meat (as in, not beef or chicken). So, with this new “healthy” focus, nearly every night our meals consisted of chicken or steak with green beans or corn. Well, that got boring after a while…. and we fell back into our old ways. So that’s where we are at now.

All that to say, I am back to trying a new recipe each week! A couple weeks ago (I’m behind on blogging) was a Martha Stewart recipe I found on Pinterest called One Pan Pasta.

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You basically take pasta, onions, tomatoes, basil and a few other things and throw it in a pot and let it all simmer together.

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I’m still unsure of “rules” for reposting recipes, so click on the link above for the full recipe. My hubby LOVED it and asks for it again even though we JUST had it.  I didn’t love it… probably because I don’t like tomatoes and onions…. and it has a bit of red pepper flakes which made it too spicy for me, so watch out for that if you’re sensitive to spiciness! It did all come together to create a nice creamy texture. I was surprised by that!

Let me know if you try it and what you think! Also, if you have any great healthy recipes that you love and aren’t weird, I’d be much appreciative if you shared them.

See Related Posts:

Pioneer Woman Pasta

Salsa

Cheddar Soup

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House Makeover: Entry

When we moved in to our lovely stark white house, the entry was one of the first rooms that we finished. We painted, changed the awful light fixture and added decor.

2012-04-12 entry before 2012-05-22 entry done (1)

My FAVORITE piece of decor in our house is a Pinterest-inspired project I did to record the previous places we have lived. It includes pictures, addresses, dates, and keys from our first two apartments we lived in together. Love having those memories and parts of our story together as part of our home now.

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Last week, our entry went through another makeover. I had been wanting a place to hang coats and such because last winter jackets were ending up all over the house and that was annoying. So I’ve been on Pinterest searching for coatrack ideas and settled on simple piece of wood on the wall with hooks. My great hubby lovingly took on this project and I am so happy with how it turned out!

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I have also been wanting to get a new table instead of the bookshelf that had been pretending to be a console table. A few weeks ago I saw one at Target that I fell in love with (and it matches our end tables in the living room!), but I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money… until last week when I was there with a friend and she gave me the encouragement I needed to just buy it 🙂 I am SO happy with it.  (And it’s also become a great place to semi-hide my hubby’s shoes that end up all over the house!)

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See Related Posts:

Master Bedroom

Master Bathroom

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Cleaning Month 1: Office/Craft Room

Month One of cleaning is finished and our office/craft room is very clean and organized! I love that feeling. We started off the cleaning by renting a steam cleaner and cleaning all the carpets in the house. That was a lot more work than I thought! (Though the hubby did most of it…, thanks, babe!). So in awe, and disgusted, by how dirty the water was coming up. Ugh. So gross. But I know that unless you steam clean every day, they’re just going to get like that. Nice knowing they’re a bit cleaner, for now.

Another big project I tackled in this room was the closet. When we moved in I didn’t really do much to it, just tried to bring simple organization. But it has bothered me ever since then and I took this opportunity to really do something. I was limited in time and budget, so it’s not perfect, but definitely better!

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Wow! Looking back at the Before pictures makes me cringe. Can’t believe I let it get that bad. All I purchased to organize things were those two black drawer containers and the two black baskets on the top shelf. One of our biggest issues was our wrapping paper and gift bags. That whole gifting area had gotten completely out of control. So I used one of my new black things to put gift bags, ribbon, tissue paper, and boxes in. Then my wonderful hubby built me a holder for the wrapping paper rolls.

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So much better!!  (Also, I’ve tried and tried to get the pictures bigger, but they want to stay small. No idea what’s wrong there.)

Here is the full list of everything I cleaned and cleaned out/organized. You obviously have to tailor it for your specific room needs, but it’s what I did:

  • Steam cleaned the floor
  • Dusted the fan (did this before cleaning the floor…)
  • Cleaned the windows, inside and out
  • Dusted the blinds (I used a wet cloth and that worked really well)
  • Dusted the closet shelves
  • Dusted all the shelves/desk/etc.
  • Cleaned the door knobs (with disinfectant wipes. Probably need to get in the habit of doing that more often!)
  • Cleaned the baseboards and trim (I used dryer sheets because that’s a “trick” I’ve seen in Pinterest. Not sure it it’s the best way or not, but it works for me!)
  • Cleaned the walls (I used the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser- my first time to use those and I am in love! Best product ever.)
  • Touched up the baseboards and trim.
  • Touched up the walls.
  • Cleaned/touched up the doors. (Again, Magic Eraser)
  • Disinfected the light switch (So gross. Definitely want to do that more often.)
  • Cleaned and touched up the window sill (Oliver sits and lays his head on that allll day, so it had gotten pretty gross)
  • Wiped off/dusted frames
  • Caught up on our shredding (we let that get way out of control)
  • Cleaned out/organized the closet
  • Cleaned out/organized the desk
  • Cleaned out/organized the filing cabinet
  • Cleaned out/organized the bookshelf and craft shelf
  • Cleared off/updated my bulletin board
  • Updated the decor

The room for September is the Living Room! Already been working on it some. Will update on that in a month!

See Related:

Cleaning Plan

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House Makeover: John Deere Bathroom

In our year long home makeover journey, the guest bathroom is the room we were most excited about…. because we had a theme… John Deere. You may not believe me, but it was my idea. Really so that we had a place to store display all my hubby’s John Deere paraphernalia. I think it also helps people who come to our home get a better sense of who we are.

We debated the color for a long time, whether to do brown or go all out and do John Deere green. We finally decided to go all the way and had the store mix up the John Deere green paint formula. When we first started painting I was beginning to question our decision…

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(Please ignore my painting clothes and hair….)

In the end, it turned out better than I could have imagined. We started with a plain, white bathroom:

2012-04-12 guest bath before (2) 2012-04-12 guest bath before (1)

…and turned it into a John Deere extravaganza

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One of my best friends made that adorable button “M” with John Deere backing. Love it so much! I spray painted the light switch cover and the soap dispenser yellow- love the little touch that adds to the whole thing. You can’t see it very well, but that is a John Deere hand towel.

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My mom made this amazing shower curtain with fabric from Hobby Lobby. Love it so much and it really helps to tie the room together.

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I wanted to be sure to incorporate a personal touch, so in the shelf above the toilet (another father-in-law creation!), I displayed pictures of my husband and us with some of his tractors. The little toy tractors were on his “tractor show” groom’s cake.

We love how it all turned out and are excited to show it to our guests when they come over. Definitely a great snapshot of who we are and my husband’s hobby!

 

See Related Posts:

Master Bedroom

John Deere Birthday Party

Master Bathroom

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House Makeover: Master Closet

At the end of December 2012 we had completed most of our house projects, and it was time to deal with the master closet. I had put that off until the end because it isn’t seen by many people, and because I knew it was going to be frustrating! Our closet had become a catch-all with zero organization. Every day I would get very frustrated with it… but I felt overwhelmed at the thought of how to tackle it. So, one day I decided to just start, and within a week it was painted, my father-in-law built and installed a new cabinet, and we had a new organization system for the way-too-many shoes I have and all the random items me and my hoarder husband have held on to (I’m a hoarder too, but he’s way worse than me. Love you, babe!).

I wanted to paint the closet a color, just to make it more fun. So I chose gray. That became a pretty difficult first step- choosing the right gray color… There are so many variations!, but I finally settled on one and spent a couple days painting.

We replaced the builder-grade, ratty, half-painted rods with some pretty cheap metal rods we found at Lowes. We also took out most of the shelving and replaced it with a gorgeous cabinet my father-in-law built (LOVE having a carpenter in the family!!). The thing I hated most about the closet was that my shoes were just all in a pile, so we bought a shoe rack. The one we got is kinda cheap so the shoes fall off it continuously… but it’s still better than the pile. At least there’s an attempt at them being organized? For all our “junk”, I bought black baskets and put them on the very top shelf. I like the “clean” look that gives.

Before...

Before…

After

After

 

 

 

 

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House Makeover: Master Bathroom

As we did with our bedroom, we began painting our bathroom right after we moved in. I was ready to get that done! Just like the rest of the house, the bathroom was white- plain white. I chose a light teal color that matched the shower curtain we already had. I LOVE the color we chose. Definitely my favorite color in our house.

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The best picture before we started painting….

After painting, we also changed out the builder-grade light fixtures and framed the mirror. (“We” as in my husband and father-in-law.) This was the biggest change, and so needed. I love the look that it gives.

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For “decor” I added that bath canvas under the clock that is from Hobby Lobby (my FAVORITE store ever). I also found some square frames (much harder to find than Pinterest makes it seem) and framed scrapbook paper. I keep thinking that I need to paint the frames white to make them blend in better, but it’s been over a year since hanging them up and I still haven’t done it…

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My father-in-law is a carpenter and built us this awesome cabinet for above the toilet!

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We are so pleased with how the makeover turned out. We have some future plans that will hopefully happen someday: knobs/drawer pulls, paint the cabinets, and maybe change the counter top.

See Related Posts:

Master Bedroom

John Deere Bathroom

Master Closet

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Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out!

It’s FINALLY August. August means that we have *almost* survived the summer and the lovely cool fall temperatures are coming soon. August means Back to School time! I always loved school, which is probably why I ended up with a master’s degree that I don’t want to use. School supplies are one of my most favorite things in the world and I can’t stop myself from buying a spiral, pens, or folder every time I step in Walmart these days.

August also seems like a time for cleaning out, cleaning up, fresh beginnings. Since moving into our house, I’ve thought a lot about how often and how well I should be “deep cleaning”. We do a good cleaning every two weeks. But an all out deep clean? That sounds like soooo much work. I have also been really into cleaning things out, I guess because I am in disbelief that we completely fill a three bedroom house. We don’t even have room for a baby someday!

So, I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest searching for good “cleaning lists”. But, being an avid list and plan maker, I decided to make my own. At first my plan was to take a month and deep clean and clean out every single room in the house. I soon realized that was a bit completely crazy. So, I am instead aiming for one room each month. I will make a list of all the things that need to be cleaned and cleaned out and have the whole month to make it happen. That seems manageable.

So for August, my room is the office/craft room/”Oliver’s room”. At the end of the month I’ll write another post detailing what all I cleaned/cleaned out and maybe some before/after pics if I get to really tackle the closet like I want, and need, to!

See Related Posts:

Office Cleaning

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