Autumn Decor and Thanksgiving

I love decorating my home and celebrating autumn and thanksgiving. It is the perfect color tones for me, coppers, browns, deep earthy greens and yellows. It is a time to cozy up your home and create that settle in and relax mood. I honestly get so excited I don’t know where to start.

I have a pillow and blanket problem. There are so many in our house and I have a really hard time not inviting new ones to come live with us. I have bins of decor pillows that I switch out each season. I find it such a quick way to change the feel of the room. Leaves must be celebrated in autumn and I think the following pillow does it well. Simple but full of rich color and easy to cozy up with on your favorite chair.

With every pillow there should be a blanket, you can’t cozy without a warm blanket to drape over yourself. I like them folded neatly over the back of a chair. I also have a blanket ladder that displays all the ones that don’t fit on the chairs and sofa. I have way more blankets than chairs in the living room, that’s how much I love blankets. Besides who doesn’t love cozy blankets! I can never decide on a favorite but I do like this combo!

You can create your own combo with these ones!

Candles are my next big room changing trick. It is amazing how much candles add to a room. I love to have an assortment of them, sizes, colors, scents and finishes. I love how much it transforms the room to switch out my summer candles for my fall ones. I like to create little clusters, like the one pictured below.

grouping of fall candles
fall candle collection

To me autumn is about making your home cozy and lush with warmth. Hearty and welcoming with hot cooked meals and breads, red wines and apple desserts. It is a ‘coming home’ feeling, getting routines back in order and setting the home stage for cooler nights and long shadowed sunsets. I love autumn so much, it brings my heart peace. To me a house should always be an ‘ah’ space but even more so as the temperature drops and we retreat indoors, now is the time to create your cocoon space.
Do you adore autumn?
How do you change up your home to welcome autumn in?

Pumpkin Season is upon us! Autumn is here

Pumpkin time, lattes, decor, soups, baking, yay! I usually wait for mid September before going full on autumn, but I can’t wait this year. I love autumn it is my season! My ginger hair goes with the leaves I look better in sweaters and scarves. Boots are a slight addiction and weakness for me. As well it is just a good time to bake!

scone and coffee
Pumpkin scones and hot coffee -Autumn Perfect

Pumpkin scones are a huge hit around here, not many people will turn them down. In fact I don’t remember anyone turning them down, that is not to brag, they are just so darn good. They are moist and delicious and gobbled up quick. So I am going to share my recipe with you so you can wow your family too. They are simple to make as are most my recipes, because I don’t have patience for fussy recipes. The exception is my pumpkin cheesecake, which is still not overly labor intensive but that’s for another day.

Who loves pumpkin?!
Step one – Early spring just after last frost, plant several pumpkin seeds. This is crucial if you want to make pumpkin anything in the
fall
Step two – Wait 85-125 days for pumpkin to grow and mature
Step three – Like Hell!!

Ok in all seriousness, growing pumpkins is great and fantastic and we all think of Linus waiting for the great pumpkin. But for this just buy a can of pumpkin.

crumbly flour mix
flour mix with butter added

Pumpkin Scones

2 cups flour (I use my gluten free blend)
7 Tablespoons of sugar (I use brown sugar cause I like it better)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup cold butter*
1/2 canned pumpkin
3 Tablespoons half and half (coconut milk also works)
1 large egg
chopped candied or crystalized ginger (option, but a tasty one)

scone batter
Scone batter rounded and cut

1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly oil a baking pan or cover with parchment paper. (I use a baking stone and they come out lovely)
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife cut butter into dry ingredients until
mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious.
3. In separate bowl whisk together pumpkin, half and half and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Add pieces of ginger.
Form dough into a ball.
4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1 inch thick round. Cut into slices and place on baking sheet
5. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Scones should start to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool
*I recently used vegan margarine instead of butter for a complete dairy free version, worked out perfect!

Scones fresh out of the oven
I bake on scones on bakers stone

This recipe suggests a spiced glaze on top, I have included it but never personally used it as I find these are amazing as is.
Spiced Glaze
1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of each nutmeg, ginger and cloves
Combine and drizzle over cooled scones

I hope you enjoy this recipe and use it to help kick off your autumn season.
What are some of your favorite autumn recipes?

Granola Bars

If you’ve read my other recipes you know I like to try different things and I like to switch it up to make things my own.
I got this recipe from another baker years ago. I instantly adjusted it to accommodate my peanut sensitivity. It turned out perfect and I was so happy to be able to enjoy homemade granola bars (she called them health bars) which to me tasted closer to candy.
Several years after getting this recipe I met a wonderful man and we were going on an adventure day, so I told him I would make snacks to bring along. I packed an entire batch of these granola bars and my pumpkin scones. If I wasn’t sure of his feeling prior I sure knew them after he discovered I could bake! He exclaimed over the granola bars and the pumpkin scones. These have become must haves in our house. If the granola bar stash is running low, he gently reminds me of how much he enjoys them in his lunch.

Granola Bar mix Combine

I love how easy they are to make. I don’t have tonnes of time for fussy recipes. It is simple and easy to make a batch of these and then have the bars in the freezer ready for lunches or snacks.

Now before we get started, yes I know and have heard all the negatives about corn syrup and I have had many judged looks at the mention of this ingredient. I have tried honey, it is not the same. I put a little less than what is called for, but I also think compaired to what is in some packaged bars out there, I am okay with a small amount of corn syrup. If you are anti corn syrup then please by all means go to aisle 10 (some stores may be numbered different) at your local grocery store and buy a box of which ever flavor your choose and do not read further. For the rest of you, seriously this is the best granola bar ever!

Cate’s Granola Bars

Mix A
4 Cups oatmeal
1/2 cup flax seed
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
5 Tablespoons wheat germ
4 Tablespoons Hemp seed
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix A
Granola Bar Mix A

Mix B
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
3/4 cups corn syrup (I measure on the low side)
3/4 cup margarine (can use butter but then they are crunchy not chewy)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Mix B
granola Bar mix B

Mix A, then B. Combine
Spread and press onto a greased cookie sheet
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes
Cool and cut into bars

Pan of granola bars
Chewy granola bars

I then individually wrap mine and put them in the freezer.

There you have it a simple granola bar, the recipe is easy to modify, use cranberries instead of raisins, use less chocolate chips and put in coconut or more berries.

Do you have a favorite granola bar? What flavor would you like to have added?
Let me know how your batch turns out!!

~C

new mom confessions – part one of many

As I write this I still have guilt. I know I shouldn’t but I think saying the words and feeling like other mom’s or people in general will silently or loudly judge me creates the guilt mode. There is no reason for it, but maybe because things didn’t happen as I was told they would.
baby toes

Let me start off my saying I love my children more than words. They are my (and my husbands) world, they have brought joy and laughter and tears, all in the most wonderful ways. I had given up on this wonderful image of being a mom and living this dream that I had longed for. Then in a whirlwind it all changed and here I am, a mom!!

Everyone said oh just wait till you meet your little one you are going to fall in love. The love you have for your new baby will overwhelm you when you see them and it is more than you have ever felt before. It will surpass the love you have for your husband and you will be amazed.

These are powerful words. I did not take them lightly, I was scared to think of having such a rush of emotion come over me. I love my husband so much that when I think of how much I start to cry. It is that powerful. So you can imagine the anticipation of preparing to have an even greater love come over me.

Our first (and second) was born by cesarean and I remember hearing those first little cries as the doctor announced to us her arrival. I looked at my hubby our eyes filling with tears as he said her name to me before we even set eyes on her. She was then laid on my chest and we just gazed at her. This tiny little bundle had arrived and I finally got to see the face I had been talking to for the last 9 months. I was so happy. The nurse took Miss and her Daddy off to bond while the doctors finished with me. I had a perma smile on my face and joy in my heart, it was amazing.

Chubby baby cheeks
Sleeping baby

Back in the room, filled with nurses helping me and showing us how to swaddle, checking stats and whatever else, I was content and tired. Was I too tired to have felt that rush of emotion everyone told me of? Now back home a few days with baby, adjusting to our new routine. Where did I put the soother, what was the last feeding, when’s that rush of emotion coming? Just over a week went by, no rush, was I a bad mother? Did I not love her enough? Am I depressed, do I not feel? I talked to my doctor about postpartum, everything was good there. I know I love my baby, but I didn’t feel it overwhelm me.

I really had to assess this, I was in a panic. Then I figured it out, the rush of emotion came the moment I found out I was expecting. I was in a total cloud of the most exhilarating bliss imaginable. My husband and I just hugged each other and cried. Our overwhelming love came over both of us together as our hearts burst with happiness. That was our moment, we talked to baby and sang to baby for all those weeks prior. We loved so totally completely from the second we knew we were expecting, all we needed now was to meet this little one. Thinking back it was more a sigh of completion to finally get to see that little face. No that rush didn’t find me in the delivery room, it didn’t need to.I was already in love from the moment I knew I was carrying her, that was the same moment I became a mother.

Baby ultrasound
First images on our little one

This love I have for my children is beyond measure, it is so grand and yet so incredibly peaceful. This love though does not exceed the love I have for my husband. It is totally different than the love I have for him, yes.
But I didn’t have these littles on my own (insert talk about birds and bees here). They were created out of absolute pure love for each other. So how could I love him less than our babies?
He also made me a mom, and not because I pick up his socks off the floor…..

Did you have that overwhelming ah ha moment as a new parent? Did your love for your children wash over you and knock you down?

Food (LoveA) Fare

I love food samples, the market is excellent for this, I do like to try different things and I like to take some home as well. It can be hard to narrow down what to get. It is also hard not to just buy our favorites.

This week we decided to take home, honey cake. This delicious multi layer masterpiece is so good, light and not too sweet, you don’t need a huge slice to feel satisfied. Yet if I didn’t have to share I could have easily eaten the entire piece in one sitting without guilt.

Local made wine! Okay! This new bonus of being able to sample wines at the farmers market is wonderful, these ones were divine. My hubby who likes a glass of wine now and then, was happy to try several types before settling on this bottle from Spirit Hills for us to enjoy at home together.

The food trucks were there to tempt us and of course we must partake. I was very reluctant to try shawarma…… Boy am I glad I did, I LOVE it! Dedo’s Food Truck is awesome! I did take a picture check it out here on Instagram.

OOps I almost forgot we caved and got green onion cakes, ate on site…so good. They do have ones you can take home to cook whenever you want. We do that often, but couldn’t resist a taste as we walked past.

Do you have favorite food finds? Are you a sample junkie?

I wonder what foods we will find next time to try……

Camping with kids, pack low expectations

Hubby and I love to camp, and when I say camping we mean with a tent. This is the stage we are at and we like it. Some day we plan on getting a trailer but for now a tent is what works for us. Camping with kids is a different scenario and has very different guidelines. Actually no guidelines really, it is completely making it up as you go. Our fist rule was to take it as it comes with no expectations. This was important to tell each other constantly.

Beautiful sunset, beautiful beaches

We planned a three day camping trip which means you need about a month to prepare and pack. We started our lists immediately. For us we packed in about an hour, we know what we need for any weather event and activities that may occur. Our Littles on the other hand need clothes for all weather and activities. As well as ones that are resistant to mustard stains, any diaper blowouts, tree sap and melted marshmallow.

We had an early positive start to our day and left only 40 minutes later than we thought we would. Drove through patches of rain and quite a bit of cloud cover, which is disheartening when your about to pitch a tent. We arrived in great time to our camping destination and met up with our camp cohorts (family). As we entered our site the clouds drew back and the sun came out, mother nature was happy to see us.
Thank goodness we had a welcome committee, and people we trusted to hold our little’s as we unpacked what looked and felt like the entire contents of our house. We pitched our tent, an easy one person set up and even easier with two. We love this tent, it is roomy yet not too large. Added bonus we can stand up in it and still have extra clearance. We are both over 6 feet tall and this is a luxury to us. It has more than enough room for our queen air mattresses, two adults, two little’s, a large dog and all our clothing, with some walking room to spare. it even has a room divide for when the little’s are older and don’t want to look at us.

Set up and ready for the day. We walk down to the beach to check things our and little C walks right into the water in pure excitement and splashes in joy. First outfit soaked, continue play in wet clothes, someone has just fallen in love with sand and waves. Who wouldn’t, it is so relaxing, refreshing and rejuvenating to have hot sand on your toes and waves lapping towards you in an invite to dip in.

Slave Lakes sandy beaches

Waking up early to make breakfast over the fire and sip on coffee before heading to the beach is a great way to start a day. We purchased a sun shelter for this trip, a necessity for little’s and a pale skinned ginger.

It was another quick set up and provided shelter for myself and baby in a camp chair as well as hubby and little C playing in the sand, it even has an enclosure feature if I needed to nurse or change. We see lots of future use with this even just in our front yard or a picnic in the park.
We went camping knowing that nothing could or would go according to any plan. This is the only way to prepare with little ones, as they usually call the shots and we adapt best we can. Case in point, little C decided on our last night camping that sleep after 2 am was not necessary. It was way more fun to roll around in this pillowed playhouse we had set up. Needless to say there were some tired beings in the morning. The entire trip is trial and error figuring out what works what doesn’t and moments wondering why you ever left the conveniences of your house including running water. Seriously though it was an amazing adventure, and we can’t wait to get out there again.
What camping must have’s are on your list? Camping advice for parents?

Learning to love the word Budget

The word budget is often one that creates dread in most people. I used to roll my eyes and cringe when someone would mention it. Years ago I tried to pretend that I budgeted for things. Saving and spending and going into debt was just how life was lived. I remember very clearly wanting to buy this gorgeous leather jacket but it was a ridiculous price. I was ignoring the price cause I had the money in my account and therefore I thought I could afford it. My wise sweet mother asked me, how many hours do you have to work to pay for that jacket? Guilt from that question stopped the purchase of the jacket. Years later I don’t remember what the jacket looked like or how much it was but the math didn’t add up.
budgets

This question still rings in my head when I am shopping. Yet it took me years yet to actually make peace with the budget word. I read articles and filled out worksheets and questionnaires in hopes of finding some sort of budget understanding. I hit empty account overdraft bottom many times before finally having something click. Now don’t think negative numbers in red made things turn around over night, there were tears and frustration over it all. Having to borrow from mom to pay bills but having a cute new pair of boots didn’t make me feel fabulous. Man adulting is tough.

My biggest turn around was making the decision to work hard to change it all. I began re-reading a book I had been given about 10 years prior. Money managing with Dave Ramsey became an eye opener for me. I had to read the book more than once to solidify that this was a solution for me. Total Money Makeover was an ah ha moment and it helped me love the word budget and made me feel empowered in regards to my money.

I had financial planners try to help organize things before but it never worked. I had to trip over and pick through it all only to find myself in worse trouble than I was before starting their plans. For me there is something so simple and easy about the Total Money Makeover. I truly believe it is a must read for anyone who is ready to take control and make their money work for them.
I am not here to re-write the book but my initial start up tips are

1. Decide to commit to making a change.
My hubby and I had to sit down and decide together that this is something we both wanted, it doesn’t work if only one of us in on
board this is a team effort.

2. Start your emergency fund
Define and understand what an emergency fund is for. That fabulous shoe sale does not count!

3. Debt snowball
Your debt is easy to tackle once you use Dave’s method, you see results and it feels great!

4. Understand where your money is going and reorganize to take it back
I was shocked to track where our money was going and why we had nothing to show for it. It was easy to swipe a card to get something
but we had a whole lot of nothing at all.
5. Start a cash allowance
This made a huge difference for us, we found higher value in our money instead of in a card, we were and are much more conscious
about our purchases.
6. Money Jars
Never loved jars so much, now they are filled with money for specific spending. It has helped turn our wants to needs. Do we need that new state of the art electric can opener with laser beam sensor……

These simple changes got us on the right track to a brighter financial future, it is a continual path and one that needs constant attention and commitment but one that is well worth it
Money and budgets were evil words that would spark a complete shut down in me. Now that hubby and I are on this path and making these changes we can talk about money openly and positively because we have made it ours again and are making it work for us. I hope that you can find your money empowerment and make yours work for you. Do you have tips you love to put into action?

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Kilts Cabers and a Time Travel Park

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We heard about the upcoming Celtic Celebration at Fort Edmonton Park and we marked it on our calendar and anxiously awaited the date.
Hubby and I are both of a Celtic decent, I am Scottish and proud of my pale skin and rich red hair. He is Irish and proud of all things associated with that, potatoes, pubs and more potatoes. As you can guess it leads for some interesting teasing in our house as to which is the superior background.

celtic celebtration
Kilts Everywhere

When we decided to attend the Celtic Celebration we had no idea that this outdoor event would happen during the hottest weekend (so far) of the summer. This is a dangerous event to hold outdoors for all us fair skinned gingers, they should have provided tubs of sunscreen beside every water fountain. It is not easy to manage this beautiful porcelain skin when the UV index gets so high. Also in my personal experience heat quickens the frustration trigger on a ginger. So basically this ‘celebration’ has the potential to quickly escalate into something far from celebration mode.

Let the games begin!

The actual heavy games, not just the adventure of us attending and tromping through the realistic time period streets of Fort Edmonton Park. The heavy games are something to see, the equipment which I couldn’t even imagine trying to move in any capacity is picked up and thrown by these athletes! The caber toss is my favorite, there is just something about watching a person pick up a telephone pole and launch it with the intent to flip it. I was sitting eating a beef sandwich with a side of fries as they preformed these feats, and in kilts! They were in kilts not me, but I am not opposed to wearing one, perhaps with a cute pair of boots and a nice big knit scarf.

steam train
1919 steam train

Journey through time

We boarded a 1919 steam engine to start our transport back in time. We then walked through the era of 1846 while a drumming band was preforming, with the sounds echoing off the walls of the fort we had opportunities to learn about bead work and sewing and how they made fur hats. Working our way into 1885 and poked our head into the saloon before being summoned by a ‘member’ of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to participate in the burly man competition. A rest stop and snack break had us surrounded by pipping bands, drums, a lot of kilts, accents and pale skin. We then entered into 1905 where the changes in technology were definitely noticed. We tried haggis for the first time, served on bannock, as we listened to the bell on the streetcar going by. The streets of 1920 were our last stop and we stopped in at the mercantile stores and then checked out the marquee at the theater before passing by the authentic midway of rides and games.

Fort Edmonton Park
Fort Edmonton Park

All these elements mixed together made such a wonderful day full of so much history and culture. Hubby exclaimed there was more Scottish events represented than Irish, but I reminded him of the potato eating contest and the small quaint pubs in several of the historic eras. I would say both sides covered.

It was an incredible day filled with more than we could take in. The fully operational movie theater, and historic Selkirk hotel as well as numerous places to eat. We look forward to returning again soon to see what other adventures await in this living history museum.

Outdoor markets, sunshine and family time

A simple family adventure, a great way to spend a Saturday. Walking an outdoor market with the smell of mini doughnuts and food truck fare. The sun beating down at you and vendors luring you into their booth with samples or shiny goods. Crowds of people selecting produce as buskers serenade your purchases.

This is a must activity to partake in, hubby and I love walking the market. We both have creative minds and like to see what treasures people bring to share with the public. We load up the double stroller, snacks, water, sunscreen, hats, camera, change of clothes, diaper bag and a market basket on a small pack mule and off we go.

Animals not allowed, ugh fine. We somehow smash it all in the stroller and break into the mass of people like a barge entering a canal.
Beyond people watching there is much to see and experience, you have to try the samples and revel in the homemade goodness. Everything from meats to baked goods, sauces, wine, spices, fruit and more . Then there is the food trucks, it is a full days adventure, arrive hungry.

Eyes darting everywhere we see a booth we know sells out fast and direct our travelling caravan in its direction. We pick out our items with great joy and anticipation and then try to figure out where on our over stuffed rolling monstrosity it will go. Success our first market purchase!

We travel along surveying the vendors items and budget our remaining purchases. There is no rush at the market, it is pointless. It is a time to stroll and enjoy, chat with neighbors and strangers.

Once we run out of snacks for the kids and their cheeks are rosy and eyes tired from the fresh air and excitement, we push on for a few more hours since we are less that half way through the loop of booths.

We wrap up our day at the market, with all our new finds. We talk about the ones we can’t wait to come back to next time to try next time. We unload the haul and place children tired and limp like old celery into respective car seats. Today’s adventure is done and it was a good one, complete with sun kissed skin and wind blown hair. Clothes that collected the smells of food as well as tiny people spills, show a day well spent kind of time.

This is not an easy task, putting your heart and soul into something, packing it all up and setting it up in hopes that it is appreciated and purchased. I may not have a need or desire for all items out there but I applaud the vendors for giving of their day to showcase their talents and wares.

Remember as you walk around any market that this is a passion for them and that I am sure they would love to hear something positive about their work, time and effort. I have been on the other side of the booth before and encouragement is so welcoming. It can be as simple as hello, or nice work, have a great day. I think we all enjoy those types of uplifting boosts.

As exhausting as that day was with my tired little people stretching their voices to meet the hum of the crowds. With sticky lemon-aid hands and sugared little cheeks, no wet wipes and tired feet, I can’t wait to go back.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

There are so many options out there for people with celiac disease or those who want to limit their intake of wheat a white flours.

I like my baked goods and found it hard to enjoy or even adapt certain recipes for gluten free. That is until I found this mix!

I have been able to use this mixture with practically any recipe I have. Pancakes, cakes, cookies, breaded chicken, biscuits, scones, muffins you name it, this works for making them all gluten free. I have had 99% success with it, there are a few fails but very few.

The wonderful thing about this  mix is most people have no idea it is a gluten free, hurray!  You can use it and still get the moist flavorful items without the graininess that often seems to accompany gluten free baking.

I buy my ingredients bulk and mix up a big batch to have on hand at all times. I substitute 1:1 ratio. So if I am making muffins and it calls for 1 1/2 cups all  purpose flour I use 1 1/2 cups of my gluten free mix.  I do not  increase or decrease any liquids when substituting out the flour either

Gluten free flour mix

1 1/4 cup Sorghum flour

1 1/4 cups Rice flour

1/2 cup Tapioca flour

2 tsp Xanthan gum

mix well together and store.

The rice flour I have used white or brown depending on availability and either is fine. Xanthan gum is important as this is your binding ingredient so that your baked goods stick together and are not crumbly

I put mine in the cupboard but it can be stored in the freezer as well.

The only thing I have not tried to bake with this mix is a loaf of bread, if anyone attempts it, let me know how it works!