Just Eat It: Pumpkin Coffee Cake

The other day, I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s wonderfully delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, and as per usual, they did not disappoint. Even my mom, who is a pumpkin hater, enjoyed one. The only problem with making something that calls for pumpkin puree is that if it doesn’t call for the entire can, and you’re dangerously close to grocery shopping day and therefore without foil to cover it, it gets gross after a couple days.

So after looking up pumpkin muffins and realizing I didn’t have cream cheese (again, dangerously close) and realizing I didn’t have a doughnut pan for pumpkin doughnuts or buttermilk for pumpkin doughnut muffins, I landed on a recipe I’ve used before and loved – Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake from Joyful Healthy Eats. Her photos and step-by-step directions make it easy to follow early in the morning and before coffee.

Photo Credit: Krista / Joyful Healthy Eats

Photo Credit: Krista / Joyful Healthy Eats

And if you happen to have all the ingredients like I did (well, I had almost all of them), it’s free to make. And even if you have to pick up a couple, you’re still paying less for just one slice at any bakery or coffee shop. Here are the ingredients:

  • 2½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ¾ cup of canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup of finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

You can click on the photo I posted above or here for the full recipe. The only change I made is that I didn’t have pecans and I was feeling adventurous, so I used the little remainder of walnuts I had and filled the rest of the cup with pumpkin granola. I was a little nervous about how the substitution would turn out, but I really like it!

One little square filled me up enough but didn’t make me feel too full and it had just enough spice to not overwhelm people who may not enjoy pumpkin as much as I/you do. This is actually the only pumpkin recipe I can get the majority of my family to eat, especially after the pumpkin explosion that happened last year.

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My rendition. Looks a little sloppier but tastes gooood!

What are you baking? Is it a recipe shared from your family, something you created or something you found in a cookbook/blog? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Yo Momma Monday: Tiffany McCauley of The Gracious Pantry

yo momma mondayAfter I had Cecilia, I got really interested in clean eating and living a clean lifestyle and one of my biggest inspirations was The Gracious Pantry. Tiffany’s recipes were simple, easy to follow, I didn’t have to search endlessly in a health food store for the ingredients and best of all – they were good! I was even able to trick my boyfriend into eating healthy. I learned about cooking from scratch from her website, and it forced me to slow down a little in the kitchen.

This is why I’m so happy to feature Tiffany in this week’s Yo Momma Monday!

Tiffany, 40, lives in Sonoma County with her son, whom she lovingly calls “Mini Chef” in her Facebook posts and recipes. She became a stay-at-home-mom soon after she found out she was pregnant, as her difficult pregnancy did not allow her to work much. She and her then husband had already planned on raising their son on their own, so that pretty much sealed the deal.

“The balancing act is always something I struggle with. The truth is, if you are giving your full attention to work, you will be lacking something in your mothering. And if you give your full attention to mothering, you will be lacking something in your work. So it really is a juggling act.

I think the most important thing you can do is forgive yourself for coming up short every once in a while. While most moms like to think they can do it all, it just isn’t humanly possible to actually do it all. So you have to focus on doing your best and forgiving the rest.”

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany is a self-taught cook who says the most valuable lesson she could pass down to a beginning cook is that burning your dinner is not the end of the world. She assures that just because you burned it one time doesn’t mean you’ll burn it again. “You can’t give up because of one mistake,” she says.

“I also learned that when you start out with making a casserole and end up with soup, you don’t throw it away, you have soup for dinner! Cooking is a very creative thing. It’s an ongoing experiment. Evolve with the food you make instead of trying to make the food conform. You never know, you might end up with a new family favorite!”

Now that she is comfortable in the kitchen, she heavily involves her son in cooking, and says that she never questioned whether or not he would cook.

“And I think that is the very reason he loves doing it. It’s not a matter of teaching your kids something they already like, it’s a matter of teaching them to like something they absolutely must do to survive. Showing them that cooking can be fun. After all, the memories made in the kitchen just can’t be made anywhere else.

It’s really just a process of getting your kids involved with the everyday functioning of your life. They are definitely their own people, but when you function as a family unit, everyone needs to contribute in some way. Making time in the kitchen a regular thing is important. And I have found that most kids naturally gravitate towards cooking. They love learning about food and how to prepare it. It’s usually a naturally fun thing for them to do. You just have to present it the right way, and set things up so it’s not intimidating for them. 
 
For my little guy, that involved a stepping stool so he could reach the counter, an age-appropriate knife with careful supervision, and apron that was just for him, and even a special pig spatula that he got to pick out at the store himself. When you set kids up to succeed in the kitchen, you’ll find very little, if any, resistance.”
 
Kid-Friendly YoNuggets

Kid-Friendly YoNuggets / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Tiffany realizes the importance of teaching kids how to cook, and she says our society has become incredibly removed  from the very thing that sustains us.
 
“I’m finding that many grown adults these days were raised on boxed and packaged food from a freezer or on food that came through a drive-thru window. I know kids today who get three meals a day from a fast food restaurant. It’s a sad state of affairs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fix it.

 
I think that teaching kids about food is the most important gift we can give them. Because it not only empowers them to feed themselves and their own families some day, but it also gives them power over their own health. Anybody who has health problems can tell you how important that is. Particularly when the life expectancy of our children is now getting shorter instead of longer. All you have to do is step back and take a look at the bigger picture where the health of our country is concerned to see why teaching our kids about real food is so critical.
 
Gone are the days when we could “trust” a large food corporation. And I would argue that those days never really existed. Because if you really dive into food politics at all, you’ll see that the stuff they label as “food” is actually very far from it. Our bodies were meant to run on food. Not food-like products. So it’s easy to see why health can go downhill so fast when you are not giving your body the fuel it needs.”
 
Tiffany talks a lot in her blog about how she dealt with body image problems through much of her life, something she learned from her mother. She says that the hardest thing is to not pass those problems down to her own child.
 
Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Photo from Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

“It’s a constant struggle and sometime I fail miserably. When you have been raised to view your body a certain way, it’s a very difficult thing to change. Sometimes it feels impossible. I don’t think I’ll ever really get past it completely, but I am learning to respect my body for the things it does every day and appreciate it for what it can do.
 
I mean, this body of mine made an entire human being. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me!! But I do still struggle with body image. It’s not an easy thing to overcome, no matter how much I try to show it respect. I think becoming a mom has simply made me far more aware of how badly I can put myself down sometimes. Not wanting to pass that on to my child has been a huge motivation for me to overcome this.”
 
For Tiffany, the biggest change she noticed after adapting clean eating to her lifestyle was how clear her skin was.
 
“I also lost some weight and started to feel much better. I noticed I actually felt full after a meal instead of wanting more and more food. I later understood that it was because my body was actually getting the nutrients it needed. I chose this lifestyle because I believe that real food is the answer to many problems we face today. My own personal eating plan is constantly evolving to suit my needs, but it’s always based on real food.”
 
Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Blueberry French Toast Casserole / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Before The Gracious Pantry, she had several other blogs, so she know she loved the blogging process. With this site, she wanted to track her own progress and share recipes she created.
 
“The best part about the blogging community is how small it really is. There may be a million blogs out there, but the community itself has sort of a “small town” feel to it. Once you start to grow, you get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you.”
 
Since starting The Gracious Pantry, Tiffany has also wrote a cookbook, which she says was a long and difficult process, but one that is filled with creativity and passion, one she equates with giving birth.
 
“You work really hard, sweat some, cry some, spend a lot of money, and in the end, you have this wonderful, amazing thing you can hold in your hands. You forget all about the difficult stuff and can’t wait to do it again! And at the end of the day, you are doing something you love and something you hope that others will love as well.”
 
Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad. Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Vegetable Basil Macaroni Salad / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

She posts every other day without fail, because she wants to show people the endless variety of dishes they can make with real food. She wants people to learn that real food is delicious and to not be afraid of the kitchen. She also hopes people will learn that their health really will improve when they focus on real food and that cooking food does not have to take a lot of time, or money.
 
“The best compliments I get are the ones where people tell me that their lives/health/bodies have improved since they started cooking with my recipes. I think that sort of compliment is the most validating thing a health blogger could ever ask for.”
 
Her favorite recipe on her blog is the plum torte, and while she never posts a recipe that she does not like, she has had some fails – like a low carb brownie recipe that she is still working on. As for her favorite blogs and magazines, she likes iBlog Magazine and Will Write for Food.
 
“I tend to gravitate towards the blogs with the magazine quality photos. Really great photos are something I aspire to.”
 
Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious  Pantry

Plum Torte / Photo Credit: Tiffany McCauley / The Gracious Pantry

Now that Tiffany is in culinary school, she would like to host a cooking show in the future and to continue writing more books. “I’d also love to start teaching healthy cooking classes to kids. I’ve taught one or two and they are just so much fun,” she says. Her biggest advice for people who are beginning a clean eating lifestyle is simple: take it slow.
 
“Take it one meal at a time. Realize you WILL make mistakes. But the secret in success is using those mistakes. If you throw in the towel every time you goof up, you’ll never stick to anything. Using those mistakes to learn. A mistake isn’t the end of the world and it shouldn’t be the end of your healthy endeavors. Just keep at it. Success is found in perseverance. Come back to it again and again, no matter how badly you mess up.”
 
You can find out more about Tiffany and her recipes by visiting The Gracious Pantry. And for all you awesome moms out there, I still have two spaces left for a Yo Momma Monday feature so drop me a comment and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

DIY Inspiration: Wall Love

Our walls are borrrring. We’ve hung up two posters in our living room, and while we have some more to hang up…I would like to hang up more than just posters. I’ve been searching through thrift stores, flea markets and craft fairs, but since the good stuff can be pricy, I figured I would just try making my own.

I’ve been attempting to organize my Pinterest better, in hopes that I will actually use what I pin. So, while sorting through my boards, I’ve found some beautiful DIY wall adornments, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you:

Photo Credit: Rachel Denbow / A Beautiful Mess

Photo Credit: Rachel Denbow / A Beautiful Mess

I love these wall hangings! For some reason, anytime I find them at a flea market or thrift store, they always smell like smoke. It’s super annoying. Back in my heyday, I probably would have thought it added “character,” but now it’s just annoying. Rachel Denbow shares a weaving basics class on A Beautiful Mess, including what supplies you’ll need and a step-by-step tutorial with descriptive photos. I’m thinking of giving it a try and if you’re interested in weaving at all, check it out!

Photo Credit: Bonnie Forkner / Going Home to Roost

Photo Credit: Bonnie Forkner / Going Home to Roost

This DIY wax resist dip dyed wall hanging from Going Home to Roost is gorgeous! She includes a simple tutorial and lists the supplies needed and some good photos. This was hung up in her baby’s nursery, but I know there are some good ones I can make for our home, too. And if you find yourself in a wax resist frenzy, she also shares a onesie tutorial!

Photo Credit: Caitlin McGrath / The Merry Thought

Photo Credit: Caitlin McGrath / The Merrythought

I have been loving botanical posters for a while now, but I’m not loving their prices. This DIY Botanical Poster from Caitlin McGrath at The Merrythought is simple and you could do an underwater themed one, too. It’s all hand-painted so as long as you like the way you paint, you could do a lot with this tutorial. A supply list and photos are also included.

Photo Credit: Kelli / Lolly Jane

Photo Credit: Kelli / Lolly Jane

This Home Sign Decor DIY from Kelli at Lolly Jane looks simple to make, and it’s just adorable. She used clip art that she got online, but you can use any stencil for this project…or just do it all from scratch! Kelli includes a supply list and photos with her tutorial.

Photo Credit: Amy Anderson / Mod Podge Rocks

Photo Credit: Amy Anderson / Mod Podge Rocks

There are so many canvases that have old paintings on them that I will never hang up. I usually sand them down and repaint them, but this Doily Wall Art DIY from Mod Podge Rocks is another idea for reusing these old canvases, and you can do so much with it. The tutorial is part of Amy’s 20 Ways to Mod Podge a Canvas post, so if you’re not into this…there are plenty other projects to choose from. A supply list, photos and step-by-step instructions are included!

Do you have some DIY Wall Art hanging in your home? Did you do one of these projects and want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest. Let’s keep the inspiration going!

 

Momma’s Garden Project

SONY DSCI replenished over the weekend, and I replaced a lot of my fruit and vegetables that lost a fatal battle with the insane heat the Central Valley has become accustomed to over the last few weeks. I lost some basil, a couple pepper plants, my lavender and a whole row of flowers.

So, I picked up some new flowers, two new basil plants, a new lavender plant, a couple pepper plants. I also got some cilantro, rosemary and chives. So, I’m hoping these will hang in there. Luckily, my tomato and zucchini plants have been holding strong. Although I think a pesky little visitor got into my zucchini plant because the flower that was there when I took the photo yesterday is now gone!

SONY DSC SONY DSCThen, in the front yard, we have a patch of a pretty big rock area with lots of succulent plants, and also lots of dead plants, since they weren’t well maintained before we bought the house, and since I was so focused on the backyard, I slacked on my plant mama duties. So I pulled out the majority of the dead plants, and left all the succulents that were there. I’m going to add more as I get them and make that the succulent garden. I also moved the lavender plant to the side of the front door so people can smell it coming in, and I added a daisy plant.

If anything, this garden experience has taught me patience and perseverance. It’s something I work on every day (although I do need to get better about trimming) and I sincerely love watching the progress every day. It started slow, and now I see new developments popping up every day – literally! I really don’t think your garden is ever complete, and I love that it’s a continuous project that I can work on and learn from every day.

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My beautiful zucchini flower that is now gone :(

My lovely zucchini flower that is now gone 😦

Do you have a garden? Share your progress and photos with me in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

Thrifty Thursdays: Repurposed cabinet doors

IMG_2440I haven’t worked on any restoration projects in a while, and I was starting to get in a slump. So I was excited to learn that my generous stepsister (who gifted me the barn windows I worked with earlier) had some cabinet doors and old frames that she wasn’t going to use. After I find out what I can and can’t paint with during my pregnancy, I’m excited to get to work on them!

I searched for some projects on Pinterest to get some inspiration, and I found a couple of really cool tutorials!

Photo belongs to Autie from iCandy

Photo from Autie at iCandy

First, there is this repurposed cabinet door art table for the kiddos, which I love. I don’t think it will work for the cabinets I have, but it’s definitely something I want to try in the future! The tutorial is written by Autie from iCandy on U Create, and it’s complete with instructions and photos!

Photo from The Elli Blog

Photo from The Elli Blog

Sometimes I think I’m over all the chalkboard stuff, but then I find beautiful designs like this, and I decide that I love it all over again. I’ve seen cabinet doors turned into chalkboards before, but I really just like how nice it looks when it’s done. I wanted to put up a little chalkboard in the corner by our dinner table and this would be perfect! The entire tutorial with photos is written by Lia on The Elli Blog, a beautiful blog that focuses on weddings but also has tutorials for everyday living!

Photo from DIY Inspired

Photo from DIY Inspired

And finally, a beautiful jewelry organizer from Dinah on DIY Inspired. Now, I don’t wear jewelry a lot. I don’t go out very often, and the my daughter broke the necklace that my boyfriend got me literally days after I got it. But I do have a lot of jewelry (and not all of it is costume) and when I do go out, I like to get all gussied up since it probably won’t happen again for another year. So this repurposed cabinet door would be nice to put up in our room or bathroom!

Have you restored a cabinet door and want to share your project? Did you follow one of these tutorials and want to share? Post in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest! I’m always up for new ideas and inspiration so share em if you got em!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

For the love of: Vintage Carnival room decor

Clearly, I’m more excited about decorating Cecilia’s room than any other room in the house. I don’t think that should be any surprise though, little kids’ rooms are so much fun! I’m sticking with the Vintage Carnival theme and I have found some really cute stuff to put in her room. The only thing…this stuff is expensive!

I do agree that it’s hard for a lot of these small businesses to stay afloat because everyone is going the DIY route, and I do also agree that artists should be compensated for the craftsmanship that goes into their work. I am in no way saying that their prices are not deserved, I just don’t have that kind of money. There are some things that I just cannot make, and for those…I will be happy to shell out some bucks when I have extra bucks to shell out.

Ok, rant over. Here are some of the awesome things I found to adorn my little baby’s abode.

Vintage Carnival Room Decor1. Vintage Circus Toy Chest from Rosenberry Rooms – Has anyone heard of Rosenberry Rooms before? I just started seeing things pop up from the site, and it looks pretty cool. It’s all high-end furniture for kids so if you can afford it…go for it! And while this chest from Art for Kids may be a little out of my price range at $2000, it has inspired me to create my own chest for Cecilia, either be repurposing an old one or starting from scratch.

2. I know fabric bunting has been over and over again, but I’ve always been a little late to the party. I would love to do this over her crib, maybe even do several strands throughout her room. Some strands could have photos on them. Fun! This banner from Starlit Nest is sold out, but she has a lot of cute stuff in her shop.

3. So, here’s something I probably won’t be able to recreate for a while, and it’s in my price range. BOOM! This Carnival Nursery print from ScarlettElla is $8 for a 4×6 and of course, as the size goes up – so does the price. She also sells a set of nine of Carnival Nursery prints for $50.

4. I love this Marquee letter “C” and luckily, I happen to know (and live with) an amazing welder, who would probably make it or teach me how to weld if I begged him enough. This inspiration has come from Gilt who has a 24″ one going for $154, if you are inclined.

What are you loving this week? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter!

Craft Inspiration: Paper Mache

IMG_1833As a student of both Journalism and Graphic Design, magazines are my cup of tea. I devour all of the articles, and I am always intrigued by print design. Unfortunately, some smaller magazines have fallen victim to the advent of digital production, and even some of my favorite magazine stands have closed. But there are a few that have stuck around, and of course…as a mom….my life is full of baby magazines right now.

But, then there lies that problem after you’re done reading them…what to do? You can’t just toss them. Totally not good for the environment, and what if you need to refer back to them in the future? So you keep them around. And they stack up and stack up. And soon enough, your entire room is surrounded by stacks of magazines. Oh, is that just me?

My love for crafting has made this a simple fix. It’s time for some paper mache, y’all! I’m working on a project for a future article, and I thought I would share some inspiration for the project. I have a lot of ideas running around my head, and since this is something that will stick around my house – I want to make sure I love it and it will make sense.

Photo from Stars for Streetlights

Photo from Stars for Streetlights

I am not a fan of taxidermy. I think it’s sort of neat in photos, but when I come face to face with a buck staring at me through it’s dead eyes, I can’t hang (no pun intended). But paper mache taxidermy – that’s something I can get down with! The full tutorial along with photos can be found at Stars for Streetlights.

Photo from Lil Blue Boo

Photo from Lil Blue Boo

For this project, Ashley from Lil Blue Boo did not use any template, she just crumbled up newspaper into balls and shaped it to make the unicorn. Obviously, there was more involved, but that’s how she got the basic form. It took her about four hours to complete it, and the unicorn had to dry overnight. Ashley hung it up in her daughter’s playroom, and I’m thinking Cecilia’s room would be quite fancy with one.

Photo from A Little Artsy

Photo from A Little Artsy

Let’s say you want to paint your animal head, which I think I would do. Isabel, who runs Bel & Beau contributed this tutorial to A Little Artsy. She used an animal mask from a craft store as a guide for her animal head, and then hung it up in her son’s room.

Since there are a lot of babies who will be gracing our lives with their presence in the next couple months, I think this would be the perfect gift for a nursery. I’m definitely making one for Cecilia’s room, just need to figure out what animal to make after we get her room all figured out.

Do you have any fun paper mache tutorials to share, or did you make an animal head with one of these tutorials? Share the link in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram, Google + and Twitter! Find more animal mache inspiration on Pinterest!