Christmas Preview with Gordmans

Gordman's Christmas I was so excited when Gordmans invited me to participate in their Holiday campaign this year. Christmas is easily my favorite holiday and I just love this time of year! And this year I have almost twice the space to decorate–so this couldn’t have come at a better time. And Gordmans has So. Much. Holiday. Decor. I don’t know how many times I went up and down the aisles finding something new with every lap.

I usually don’t let myself decorate until after Thanksgiving. Once I let myself start before that I’ll turn into one of those people that have Christmas trees up in August. And no one wants that. But I just had to give all my new goodies a little try-on when I brought them home. Gordmans ChristmasI found so many of these signs! At one point I think I was carrying three around with me before I realized I had no place for the other two. After much deliberation–this one made its way home with me. It’s the perfect little bit of merriment for my entryway. Gordmans Christmas I haven’t decided just yet where these little trees will go, but I just love how sparkly they are when the light hits them. Gordmans ChristmasThis is my favorite find! I can get on board with anything cable-knit this time of year. I’m keeping extra throws in it now and it will be great for toting gifts to my parents house come Christmas Eve–then when it’s time to stow all my holiday decor away I can use it as extra storage. Gotta love multi-functional decor. :)

Reading Lately

Reading Lately

I’m still powering through the Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I really don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish the last book. These beasts have been keeping me thoroughly entertained for almost 6 months now.  I’ve most recently finished the fifth installment, The Fiery Cross  and the sixth installment, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. One of the things I love about the series is that the books pick up literally right where the last left off. I’m talking like Claire was boiling stew on page 966 of the one book and enjoying said stew on page 1 of the following book. It’s exactly what I want in a series! I tend to get very impatient when I have to piece together several years of story line between books.

The last two books place the entire Fraser-McKenzie clan on a growing settlement in the colonial mountains during the onset of the Revolutionary war. If you’ve read any of my reading posts, you know that I love a story that follows characters throughout their lives. Well, Diana takes it one step farther by carrying us all along on this multi-generational story. We’re talking third generation here. And somehow Grandda Jamie is just as hot as 23-year Jamie was.  Diana has yet to disappoint.

I took a little break in between Outlander installments for Orange is the New Black. I’ve had my name on the list for the memoir for weeks–and once I landed the paperback I sped through it in just a few days. I’ve been wanting to read to read the book since I first binge-watched the juicy Netflix series it inspired. Where the Netflix series provides an entertaining, scandalous and over the top story line that’s best watched in several-hour sittings–the book offers an honest, well-written and heart-felt look into one woman’s brief prison sentence. The true story exposes the weaknesses and ineffectiveness of the US corrections system and tells the surprisingly beautiful story of what the author learned from her stay and the women she spent a year of her life with.  I highly recommend.

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

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Pasta is the best right? If I could live solely on pasta I probably would. Well, technically I could live solely on pasta–but I do care about my general health and well-being a little bit, so I try to moderate my pasta in take. (TRY is the key word there.) And this dish is one of those that helps with the whole pasta moderation thing. Spaghetti squash does not taste like pasta. Don’t let anybody fool you  in to that bologna. BUT it does pair fantastically with pasta-perfect flavors like marinara sauce and meatballs. So you get the “pasta experience” when really you’re just shoving your face with squash (which is good for you right?) so really, it’s a win-win.

2014-09-031Get yourself a spaghetti squash and big-ole sharp knife. OR if you don’t have a big-ole sharp knife, get your weenie little dull-chopping knife and pray that you don’t hack off a finger in the process of getting this thing sliced. (And try to decide if you could walk yourself to the hospital across the street if you happened to hack said finger off–no? just me?)

Okay, now that we’ve got that thing in two and all of our fingers are still attached, throw some olive oil on there, sprinkle on some salt, pepper and garlic and roast ‘em up for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Once it’s roasted, use a fork to shred it into pasta like strings.

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Top with marinara sauce and a few frozen meat balls. Dump some more sauce on there and top with lots of mozzarella cheese. Top with  a bit of Italian seasoning and bake for 20 more minutes.

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Fall Brews

DSCN9172Guys I’m really excited. I’ve found another thing to love about fall! Fall. Brews. I always thought that seasonal beers boasting harvest, and pumpkin on their labels would be too dark or too strong for my tastes. Boy, was I wrong. They are so delish! I think I even like them better than summer brews. I haven’t tried Trader Joe’s Oktoberfest yet, but here’s my take on the other four.

DSCN9167Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin is my favorite by far. Blue Moon is my go-to already, so I might be biased, but I loved the subtle undertones of pumpkin spice along with the always dependable Blue Moon flavor. Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat was delish, but it tasted like pretty much every other variation of Shock Top wheat (aside from their fruity flavors).

New Belgium Tour de Fall was nice. I love the label–they always have the best labels. The flavor was aaaalmsot too strong for me, but I like to think it’s broadening my palate.  KBC Pumpkin Ale is a close second to the Blue Moon. The cinnamon notes were just right–not too Big Red-ish. It was like brisk fall afternoon inside my frosty mug (who am I kidding I drank it straight out of the bottle).

What are your favorite fall brews?

Fall Home Tour

DSCN9035Welcome to my fall home! Come on in and take a look around. DSCN9103This post should probably be titled “How many pumpkins is too many pumpkins?”  At last count I had 17 pumpkins in my 650ish square foot apartment. DSCN9087If you look really close at the first photo you’ll notice that it has my old TV stand in it. But that now lives next to the dumpster, since my dad made this new TV stand for me last weekend. I saw a bookshelf that I loved on the Sherman Hill home tours a few weekends ago. My dad checked it out and determined that it would be pretty easy to make, so that we did! And I love it! 
DSCN8989Moving on to the kitchen. Another pumpkin (of course), my favorite glass candy dish and a bag of local pumpkin spice coffee add a few fall-y touches to my favorite space. I picked up a few autumn scented hands soaps and pulled out my leafy dish towels too. DSCN8998A pop of fall color under crisp local apples.
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I though about showing you more of my bedroom, but I decided to wait. The rest is a work in progress. I repainted some artwork and switched out my bedding, but there’s a few more things I want to do before revealing it. But here’s a little peak in the corner. I finally hung a few things up and popped in a few fall touches. I picked up those pretty white gourds (not albino pumpkins, according to my dad) during a visit to Wilson’s Orchard last weekend when I was visiting my parents.

Mini Pumpkin Scones

DSCN8886Starbucks doesn’t have pumpkin scones this season. Or at least not at the times and locations that I frequent. And I would be really upset IF I hadn’t found this recipe! (I know, another found recipe, #thethingsIdofor Fall Frezy Week). I’ve made more batches of these scones than I care to admit. First I made them full sized, just like the original recipe. And then I made a half batch–I had a hankering for something sweet and pumpkin flavored on a Tuesday. And then I made them mini!  

DSCN8878Mini things are pretty much always more fun. And they’re a nice size for brunching when paired with a  breakfast casserole. Which is just what I made them for a few weekends ago. DSCN8866Follow the recipe as you will, but when it comes times to roll them out split the dough in half to make two circles. DSCN8867Then slice each in six wedges. DSCN8868And bake for 9-10 minutes. DSCN8881Get yourself some coffee and enjoy!

DIY Fall Door Mat

DSCN8969I‘ve been keeping my eyes peeled for a cute fall door mat for the past few seasons and just haven’t come across one that I loved. First off, there’s really not a huge selection anywhere (which I do NOT understand). And then once I do find them, they tend  to be too fuddy-duddy, or too thick (I don’t want to trip over it) or just not fall-y enough. (According to Pinterest a door mat with a key on it is “fall.” Um. No, Pinterest, it is not.) My solution: A DIY! A Beautiful Mess has a few cute ideas that I started with like this one and this one. I wanted something that was fall, but not in-your-face-fall. And lord knows what would happen if I started free handing pumpkins. I was going for something that looked sort of like leaves, but wasn’t actually leaves and I’m pretty happy with the end result. DSCN8863You’ll need a plain rug (I found this one at Home Depot for less than $10), medium-adhesive painters tape (if you have the blue tape it will do, but the stronger adhesive works better with the rough texture) and a sponge brush (or two). 
DSCN8865I taped off my rug to make oblong parallelograms (?) then sponged the paint on in a random pattern.  I painted most of the space at the top then gradually let up to get the “falling leaves” effect. Be sure to let the paint completely dry before putting it to use. Otherwise you’ll track yellow paint all down your apartment hallway. :) DSCN8976