Tag Archives: fall

Baby Pumpkin Costume

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For my niece’s first Halloween, my mom wanted to make her a pumpkin costume. Seriously, how cute is a little six month old dressed as a pumpkin? My mom tackled the pumpkin body while I worked on the little stem “hat”.

The body was a simple silhouette – two rectangular pieces, gathered with elastic at the bottom and top, seamed at the sides with space for armholes. She was plumped up with a little tissue paper stuffing.

I created the stem / leaf topper by first sketching out on paper, then cutting out of felt. I stuffed the stem with fiberfill and hand stitched the stem to the leaf portion. Both elastic and a ribbon tie were fastened so my sister-in-law could determine which would work best once she tried the costume on. The stem hat looked great on my Cabbage Patch Kid model while I was constructing it, but it was way cuter on my niece in the end. My niece is the cutest pumpkin ever! Please forgive her blurred out face but I wasn’t sure if my brother and sister-in-law would want her photo posted online otherwise.

Multigrain Pumpkin Pancakes

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I had pumpkin leftover from the bread I made a few days ago, so I decided to use some of it in my pancake batter. When I want plain pancakes I typically make them from scratch, but for multigrain pancakes there is a great organic mix from Arrowhead Mills – you add a tablespoon of canola oil and just over half a cup of milk and you’ve got some pancakes. So simple. Of course, that’s not how I make them. I go for more of a homemade variation when I use this mix, I have never made pancakes simply as the directions advise.

The mix is great. It’s full of whole grains and has a wonderful flavor & texture already built in to your pancakes. Pumpkin is sort of a bitter squash, so I started by fork mashing a slightly overripe banana in my mixing bowl. Not only would that create great texture, but it would add a nice flavor and counteract the bitterness of the pumpkin.

After mashing my banana, I added 1 1/2 cups of the multigrain mix (double recipe), 2 tbsp canola oil, 1 cup and a few tbsp of fat-free organic milk, and close to 1/2 cup pumpkin (just under, maybe). Then I needed to spice up the batter. I added approximately 1 tsp vanilla, a touch of honey (maybe 1/2 tsp), a dash of allspice, ground cloves and nutmeg, a few shakes of cinnamon, and about 1 tbsp of brown sugar. Mixed up my batter with a fork and it was a good consistency. If your batter is too thick you can add more milk, if it’s too thin you can add more multigrain mix).

It depends on your stove, but pancakes are generally best cooked somewhere around MED-LOW heat. These will be slightly darker than white flour pancakes since they have all of those whole multi grains in the batter, but they still cook up with a nice golden brown color.

Add some greek or plain yogurt to the top, fresh fruit or nuts, a touch of maple syrup and you’re ready for a delicious breakfast. These are so quick and simple to whip up – and they are great to make ahead on the weekend and heat up later in the toaster on a busy weekday morning! Just wrap them in foil and store them in the fridge. I have never frozen them, though I am sure you can freeze them in a ziploc if you like.

I only make the pumpkin pancakes once a year when I have some leftover pumpkin sitting in the fridge. Usually I make these with any variety of fruit or flavorings including: blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, apples, bananas, cinnamon, honey, blackberries, or really anything I have on hand at the moment. I have also used the multigrain mix to make waffles.

Handmade Bat Napkin Rings

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Halloween is just around the corner and I decided to create a little decoration for my mom. I love bats and wrote a pattern to create a no-sew napkin ring all with one piece of fabric. Awesome. Check out the little winged creatures:

What I’m listening to as I write this post: The news on TV (so sad, they are talking about Steve Jobs)

Pumpkin Bread

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October is here and when it comes to food, pumpkin is the word that comes to mind. I have been thinking of my Great Aunt Marie’s pumpkin bread for weeks. On this chilly Fall day, the time had finally come to whip some up!

If you are going to bake one pumpkin bread this season, this is the recipe to try! It is moist, has a smooth texture, a great pumpkin flavor and just the right amount of spice to enhance yet not overpower the pumpkin. It is delicious.

AUNT MARIE’S PUMPKIN BREAD
Recipe from Aunt Marie Caruso

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add pumpkin and water to the mixture. In separate bowl, sift together flour, powder, soda, salt and spices. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Add nuts and blend into mixture. Grease pans well and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 350* until cake tester comes out clean.

The recipe was paraphrased a little bit in my shorthand. Also, while it did not call for vanilla extract, I threw in a teaspoon to my batter. For breads I tend to use canola oil as my shortening (for cookies it’s butter). I generally use walnuts in this recipe, or even no nuts, but I think pecans would be good to try. I think I erred during the dry ingredient step and used less baking soda on this go around, but my bread still turned out delish! I baked most of the batter in a loaf pan for close to one hour, and the rest in two pumpkin-shaped forms for about thirty minutes.

This recipe can be baked into many different forms. My aunt has traditionally baked it in cans (like the kind you buy your beans, diced tomatoes, etc in), you can also use a cake pan, a loaf pan, cupcake pans, some cute pumpkin silicone forms or whatever you have on hand! Just be mindful that your cooking time will vary depending on your baking form. This bread also freezes very well which can come in handy if you want to prep ahead for an evening of entertaining, some out of town guests, or just to have something available when you get that unexpected craving!

I hope all of you enjoy this recipe. Let me know how yours turns out!

Welcoming Fall: Banana Apple Cranberry Bread

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Today is the first day of Fall! My favorite season. What better way to welcome in the cool weather with a nice warm baked treat?

Banana bread has always been a frequent visitor in my family (I say visitor because it doesn’t stick around very long). I remember when my brother went to college, I would always bake him banana bread when he came back for breaks. I still do make it when he comes up to the NE for a visit.

This recipe is my family’s favorite for banana bread. It comes from an old vintage book, McCall’s Cook Book: The Absolutely Complete Step-By-Step Cooking and Serving Guide (from 1963), and has certainly stood the test of time. As a side note, one of my great aunts used to be a pattern maker for McCall’s. They would bring in the latest fashions and women such as my aunt would write a pattern so all those crafty people out there who know their way around a sewing machine could sew their own designer digs!

Every time I make this bread and share it with others, somebody always asks for the recipe! It is light and fluffy; a definite crowd pleaser.

BANANA BREAD
Recipe from McCall’s

2 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 or 3)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk*

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease well and flour two bread pans.
2. Into large bowl of electic mixer, sift flour with baking powder, soda, salt and sugar.
3. Add shortening, bananas and vanilla; at low speed, beat just until ingredients are combined.
4. At medium speed, beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping side of bowl and guiding mixture into beaters with rubber scraper.
5. Add eggs and buttermilk; beat 2 minutes longer.
6. Pour batter into prepared pans; bake 40 to 45 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip.
7. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool thoroughly on wire racks. Slice and enjoy!
* To sour milk: Place 1 1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add milk to measure 1/2 cup. Let stand a few minutes before using.

Note: You can embellish the recipe any way you like. Whenever I make this banana bread, I generally add apples and cinnamon to the mix. On occasion (depending on who I am making it for) I will add nuts or chocolate chips. As this is the start of Fall I thought cranberries would be a nice touch.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: the rain outside

Fall Fashion: Cable Knit Capelet

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September is here which meals Fall (my favorite season) is right around the corner! I thought I’d kick off the season with a stylish chunky cabled ‘capelet’ in some beautiful Fall colors.

I found this free pattern from Lion Brand yarn and had to make a LOT of adjustments during the knitting process to get the shape and size correct. This was not due to errors that I was making, but rather a seemingly incorrect pattern. Looking at the pattern online now, it seems they have also made a lot of corrections since originally posting it. Too bad those weren’t handy while I was knitting it! Oh well, I still figured it out on my own.

I chose a textured multi-colored yarn to suit the season.

This was knit in the round on circular needles. For an even chunkier effect it would have been great to knit with two strands at once.

This turned out so cute! Great to throw over a basic tank or tee with some jeans and head out in the crisp Fall weather!

What I’m listening to as I write this post: iTunes shuffle: The Working Title “Thoughts on Love’s Mishaps”, The Beatles “Revolution”, Patty Griffin “Flaming Red”, The Postal Service “Clark Gable”

More Blankets!

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BIG STITCH KNIT BLANKET

My friend got married a couple of weeks ago (amazing, gorgeous wedding!) and I knew I wanted to do something special for her and her husband. I took a look at their registry and saw bedding and pillows in greys and silvers so I thought it would be great to knit a blanket that complements the set.

I knit this on massive (I mean 3 feet long and super-fat) big stitch needles. It was very awkward, to be honest. These giant needles are what created the big stitches you see in the blanket.

I mostly knit this in stockinette stitch, but I added in a bunch of reverse-stockinette stitch rows at the ends and throughout to create more texture and more of a pattern. This was knit with three strands of yarn held together: 1 Cape Cod Blue and 2 Off-White. Hopefully my friends can cozy up under this blanket all winter long.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE BABY BLANKET

I know the photos on this one are kind of awful. At the time I took a snapshot (I believe with my 35mm camera) just so I would remember the blanket. I didn’t realize I would be doing anything with it later on.

This blanket was crocheted for a friend’s baby girl at least 12 years ago. I made up the pattern for the granny squares.

This was crocheted with a multicolor yarn. After all of the squares were completed, I sewed them together then added a crochet border.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE COLLEGE BLANKET

When a friend of mine was midway through college she moved into her first apartment. I thought it was a perfect time to make a blanket for her.

I crocheted this about 7 years ago. And randomly, I bought the yarn in Brooklyn. I chose the cream as a neutral base and added the green accent because it was her favorite color.

I wrote the pattern for this blanket, as well. It’s actually pretty big – I could have left off the outer row of cream squares. After all of the squares were made, I sewed them together then added a crochet border – two rows of cream, a row of green then one last row of cream to finish it off.
 
 
GRANNY SQUARE WINTER BLANKET

I crocheted this blanket about 7 years ago. I don’t remember why I picked these colors. It was probably getting close to winter and pine trees were on my mind. Oh gosh, I can’t wait until winter – you walk down the streets of NYC and in every neighborhood there are Christmas tree vendors on the sidewalks. It smells so good! And an added bonus: no humidity!

(Yes, that is some of my yarn stash in the background.) The accent squares consisted of multiple colors – forest green, lace and off-white, and the base squares were crocheted with a solid forest green. Both the forest green and the lace colors were integrated into the trim.

While it’s not my favorite design that I created, this is really such a warm blanket. It’s great to wrap around yourself and cozy up in a chair.