Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good Things

Morgan's cake making and decorating skills continue to expand.  Yay for her, bad for my waistline.
I love fall.  I was born in the fall.  I got married in the fall.  I married someone who was born in the fall.

Here are a few fall things that can be added to the endless People and Things I'm Thankful For list:

1)  Fall Projects
The spring and summer tend to be filled with more backyard/ flower-bed/ future-garden projects. But now,  the projects move indoors.  The project for the day:  taking these boring, faded chairs and make some fabulous slipcovers for them.

I say project for the day - that's the optimist in me talking.  It probably will take several sessions throughout the week to make four slipcovers.  And, if it works really well, I'll probably go all crazy and make a couple more - because we need some additional seating in our living room, and they would require new chairs with new covers...first world problems, hey?

EW - please release me, let me go.
Poor naked chair
I don't know for sure that my pattern-making and sewing skills are up to the task. However - they are chairs MADE for slipcovers.  And to do it myself for $20 a chair, with a fabric that is way more fabulous than what is available from IKEA,  but way less expensive than the fun covers available at BEMZ - well, it's just too much to resist.
The ultimate seam-ripping experience.  This cover gave it's life that it might become a pattern for the others.
I have confidence in the fact that it CAN be done because people on the internets tell me it is so.

Enter the soundtrack to my life:  "I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain...I have confidence in confidence alone..." that soundtrack gets me into a lot of trouble. Thanks, Rogers and Hammerstein . :)  I'll let you know how it turns out.

2) Cozifying the Home
I am not sure if the word cozify should have one y or two, if it should have a hyphen, or in fact, be hyphen-less (ironic, I know). What I do know is that it should definitely be a word.  I found these great corduroy pillows on sale at Superstore, of all places.  They are perfect for fall, and they add just what the room needed.  I hope it distracts from the chairs in the room that obviously need new covers.
Do they distract from the faded leather?  I think so.

About the chairs.  I had this moment last week, when I realized that there wasn't a room in the house where we could all sit together, save for the dining room.  So I played musical chairs with the outdoor set, the tub chairs in the seating area by the school room and moved them here.  I like it, except for the colour  - (see point 1)

Welcome Fall
This little guy keeps fixing the lovely tipped basket of pine cones on the hearth.  He just doesn't get the whimsical and cozified decorating scheme I am going for.  He'll learn to ignore my decorating soon enough.  For now we play this great game of  "fix the basket".  Good times all around.

I have big plans for the pictures and the "L" above the mantle.  How quickly those gets done has everything to do with how the chair covering project goes.

3) Fall Routines
Am I the only one who feels like September up and smacked me in the face? It took me a long time to fall in love with this one again this year.  Josh often comments on how funny it is that I crave routine, and yet I push against it.  I need wide boundaries and strong fences, it's true.  It just took the whole month, and a desperate email to my fantastic support teacher to figure out a reasonable schedule for this year.

It has been a big adjustment adding a new student to the schooling mix.  I don't know why I didn't anticipate it, but it was difficult figuring out how to teach four kids. I blame unmitigated optimism. Months like that are hard on the ol' confidence soundtrack.  So much so, that I questioned whether or not I should continue homeschooling.  But through much prayer, wailing, whining, and gnashing of teeth,  I kept coming back to the same answer - Yes, this is the right thing for now, but No, it won't always be easy.

I needed a big reminder that building endurance comes through walking through hard stuff without quitting.  So, if September also smacked you with a big two by four, and it hurts not here, or here, so much - let me stand and cheer from the sidelines and say a great big YOU CAN DO IT!!!! (or i can sing Fat Guy in a Little Coat for you if you'd like).

I have my Mom and Dad to thank for building endurance in us as kids.  Mom also taught me the very important lesson of seeing my own shortcomings and then doing what you can to grow in those areas.  It's just the way I am, was never a good excuse around our home growing up.  I'm thankful for that now.

We have found a good rhythm now, and it includes good moments like this almost every day.

"Vanilla Milk" whilst reading history at the BEGINNING of the day (what a difference the timing makes)
It's important to note that I re-learned a great four letter word this September:


What did you think I was going to say?

4) Fall Food
Barbecues are great for summertime.  Sure, we like to rub it in to all our relatives in Manitoba that we could barbecue hamburgers in the rain on Christmas day if we wanted to, but the lion share of it gets done in the summer months.

The food of fall is rich and warm, and calorie laden.  What's not to love?
Mini-Pumpkin scones.  Made mini so I can have two, or three, or four in one sitting.

My favourite fall recipes usually include pumpkin.  Or zucchini.  I have yet to try zucchini and pumpkin together though.

I promised a friend I would put my chocolate zucchini cake recipe on the blog.  I actually reduced the sugar and fat a bit from the original recipe, and made them into cupcakes/muffins.  It's a very good recipe - and worked well as muffins.  True, it's no Last-Minute Brownie sugar rush, but it's a totally guilt-free-serve-to-my-kids-for-breakfast-or-lunch recipe, speaking of hyphens.

I'm only a month late Kim, but if you can find some overgrown zucchini in your garden, here it is! If you click on the recipe title, it should give you a pdf document to print out!
Prep Time : 20 min
Muffins served in:  40 minutes
Yield:  one 9 by 13, or 2 dozen muffins
Cake served in an hour
½ cup butter
2 ½ cups flour
1 ¼ cup sugar (original recipe – 1 ¾)
4 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ cup buttermilk (or milk plus 1 tsp lemon juice)
½ tsp. Baking powder
¼ cup veg. Oil (original is ½ cup)
½ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ cup apple sauce (omit if making original recipe)
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 – 1 ½ cups chocolate chips (I’m just guessing – I just sprinkle it on top of the cake, or in the mix till it looks right!)
2 cups grated zucchini – peel first if you are opposed to green flecks (which I love!)
·         Spray 9 by 13 pan (or muffin tins) with non-stick spray, if needed.
·         Preheat oven to 325° F
·         Blend butter and sugar
·         Add eggs, milk, oil, apple sauce, vanilla, and mix well.
·         Add zucchini and mix.
·         In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients except chocolate chips.  (This is very important to do separately when making a reduced fat recipe.  You really need to be careful not to over-mix once you add the wet to the dry, to ensure a light and fluffy muffin – especially when the fat is reduced!)
·         Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until just combined.  I believed I “pulsed” the mixer 6-7 times.  You can also mix by hand, and that works out very well too.
·         If making muffins – add chocolate chips now and barely mix them in J Scoop into muffin tins and bake for Approx 20 mins, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
·         If making cake – Pour into prepared 9 by 13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips. Bake for  approx 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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