Thursday, September 27, 2012

pumpkin cookies

Eight days! It's been eight whole days since I wrote my last post. In the blog world... that's an eternity.

The truth is blogging takes up a crazy amount of time. And sometimes I need my time for other things. What kind of things? Well I can't say. Yet!

I've been working on a couple special projects that require a lot of time. While my deadline approaches I pretty much have to ignore everything to insure that they get done. And sadly everything includes blog time.

But it hasn't been all work! I got to play a little too. In case you didn't know, last Saturday was a special day. The first day of Autumn!!! Obviously!!

To celebrate I had to make something with pumpkin. I went with cookies.

When it comes to baking, pumpkins are truly magical. Anything you add pumpkin too will be soft and pillowy. At least in my experiences anyway.

The recipe, as usual, is a hybrid. I looked at a few recipes and picked and chose what I liked until I came up with my own. So here it is!

Pumpkin cookies:

3 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla. Stir until mixed.

This is where I do things differently than most cookie recipes suggest. I don't mix the dry ingredients separately! Eeeep. But the world still turns. What I do is stir in a cup of flour at a time to the wet ingredients until it's all incorporated. With my last cup of flour I add the other dry ingredients; in this recipe it's salt, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. This way you don't have to dirty another bowl. How efficient!

Once the cookie dough is all mixed up scoop tablespoon-sized balls into a sugar cinnamon mix. Fully coat the balls of cookie dough then transfer them to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

To make them look like little pumpkins I used the edge of a glass to create curved vertical lines. This also helps to flatten the cookies out a bit. And it makes them very cute!

Bake for about 10 minutes until puffy and slightly browned around the edges.

I didn't get a chance to photograph the process of mixing them up because I wanted to do it quickly. But these are just too good to keep to myself!!!  

More posts next week! I promise!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

fall window decorations

I've been waiting for awhile now to do something pretty with these fabric leaves that you may have seen in my fall craft supply post. I bought them a couple of years ago on clearance after the fall season was over. I didn't have any plans for them so they just sat with my craft supplies.

I thought about using the leaves to make a wreath but I really liked the idea of hanging them like they were fluttering down from a tree. Something you don't see too often downtown.

Last year I doctored them up with some glitter and strung them together with yarn. I hung some from this lamp...

... and some in the windows.

This year I hung them all in the windows. What I came up with is still simple but a little more intricate than last year.

I started by crocheting three chains of dark brown yarn in varying lengths for each window. I crocheted them on a metal ring for easy hanging.

Then I cut some dark brown ribbon and melted the edges to prevent fraying.

Pinching the melted edges together made it easier to string the leaves on. Which is what I did next.

Once I had all the leaves strung up I tied the ribbons to the crochet chains. And I was done!

 To finish I moved them up to the top part of the windows.

Now I'm constantly reminded that it's fall. Marvelous!

Monday, September 10, 2012

renegade craft fair

A blissful weekend indeed. One I have been waiting for all summer! The Renegade Craft Fair was in Chicago this weekend and I had never been before. It was craft heaven.

We went Saturday afternoon and it was a beautiful sunny day. There were tons of clever things to look at and if you had the stealthiness of a ninja you may have been lucky enough to get a peek though the massive crowds. 

Okay, so it wasn't that bad. But there were a lot of people there. And the booths were pretty tiny. I often found myself perched on the tips of my toes, peering over unknown shoulders, just to see what was going on. 

I left with nothing but ideas and a few photos. 

The Plaid Pigeon
Matty Cipov

DC Ice

Alapash Terrariums

Little House Soap Co.

Raven and the Hunter

Circa Ceramics
Circa Ceramics
Kevin O'Rourke
I couldn't find the name of this shop. Anyone recognize it? 
We ended our day at the craft fair with the ultimate fall staple. Pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.

My first of the season!

I had a marvelous weekend, spent with marvelous people and I can't wait for next year!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

homemade oven cleaner

I have a shameful secret. And it lies within my oven. I've been cooking and making messes in there for just over four years... and I've only cleaned it once!

That one time I cleaned my oven was long ago and not a happy experience. I was intimidated by all the grease and burnt up food bits so I figured I would need the most heavy duty cleaner that the store offered. And this one said it right on the can. 

Big mistake. Even with the windows wide open and every fan I own on full blast, the air was so heavy with fumes it was hard to breathe. I wanted to finish as quickly as possible and when I was done I worried about all the chemicals that were left behind. 

I never wanted to do it again. But recently I noticed that I could hardly see through my little oven window and I knew it was time. Even though I still had tons of oven cleaner left I looked for an alternative method that would be more bearable. 


There are lots of safe oven cleaning methods online. I have to admit I'm a bit of a skeptic when it comes to homemade cleaning remedies. So I used ingredients that a lot of people had success with... plus I already had this stuff.

To make this cleaner just form a paste out of baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar (all I had was apple cider vinegar). I didn't measure. Just add the ingredients until it's not too thick or too thin. The mixture below is a bit too thick. 

I ended up adding more vinegar and lemon juice to thin it out. This mixture just crumbled up when I tried to use it.

Before you start scrubbing your oven be sure to remove any burnt food or ash that might be hanging around in there. 

double eww

Then take your paste and slather it all over the greasy icky stuff. I even used a lemon half as my applicator. 

Once you've got a good coating let it rest overnight. And order takeout for dinner. 

The next day the paste had dried out and hardened. 

I took a damp, warm, washcloth and laid it over small sections of the paste and rubbed in circles until it came up. And to my surprise most of the grossness came with it! Although getting the gunk off the door took a little more elbow grease.

I used a toothbrush (my favorite cleaning tool!) and a plastic scrapper to make my oven window super clear and see through. 

Other than waiting over night this was a pretty speedy cleaning method. Cleaning with lemon was a joy and there were no harmful fumes or chemicals to get in the way of my breathing! Major plus. Check out the results!!

This method was cheap, quick, easy and safe. How marvelous! I couldn't believe how well it worked. Maybe I'll be cleaning my oven more often!! 

Have you ever made your own cleaning products before? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I bet you didn't know I was this crazy

So this is coming a bit out of left field considering that we are only five days into September but I've got something on my mind.

You know those crazy people who go all out with their outdoor Christmas/holiday decorations? When you can't even see the house past all the Xmas nonsense?

I am one of those people. Well, the urban equivalent. With far less space to work with.

And only because prize money is involved.

The management of our apartment holds an annual holiday window decorating contest for the tenants. The three best window displays are chosen and awarded a hefty (in my opinion) cash prize. I, of course, take this contest way too seriously. We've won the past four years. Every year we've lived here.

The first year we lived here we just slapped some paper snowflakes in the window without even realizing a contest was going on. We put so little thought into our decorations that we didn't even take a photo. And we won! This apparently lit a fire in me... and the next three photographs are the result.




I went all out. Like the people in those crazy holiday decorating shows on TLC. The sad part is there is no competition. Only a few other tenants play along. So I don't really need to put all this effort into the contest to win, but I don't care... It's a lot fun.

I keep switching back and forth between "we" and "I." By "we" I'm referring to my boyfriend Nate and myself. We live together so he is involved in the contest by association but that's typically as far as his involvement goes. I guess he isn't as crazy as I am. 

Last year, for the 2011 display, I had already picked out my design by August. So I'm already behind... 

What sort of display should I make this year? I'm drawing a major blank!!