Hello Pumpkin!

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When we recently experienced a very cool morning, all I could think about was baking! I dug into my trusty recipe box and found a tried and true Southern Living recipe for Pumpkin Bread, just a plain, straightforward recipe with nothing extra added, which meant I had all the ingredients! It makes 3 loaves, too! Since I intended to share 90% of the results, that was an added blessing! I baked them up in small pans, yielding 6 delicious loaves. They’re a perfect size wrapping up to give to friends! Even if you make them in the regular size pans, you’ll have one to keep, one to freeze, and one to give away!

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If you’re in a baking mood as I have been, and are hungry for something simply pumpkin, you’ll love this recipe!

Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

How to Make It

Step 1

Stir together flour and remaining ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Divide batter evenly among 3 greased and floured 9- x 5-inch loaf pans.

Step 2

Bake at 350° for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted into center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire rack.

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It couldn’t be any easier!  Whip up a loaf, perk some coffee, and invite a friend over for some sweet Pumpkin fellowship!

With love from my country kitchen,

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Family Friday – Valentine’s Day On a Low Budget

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Valentine’s Day is next week and you have little money to celebrate! What do you do?

All is not lost!  There are a ton of ideas to make the day special for you and your spouse!  Let me give you a few affordable suggestions:

  • Get a pad of sticky notes at the Dollar Tree.  On separate pages, write
    • attributes you love about  your spouse
    • a memory of special events/happenings in your relationship over the years
    •  clues to find a hidden gift (more on the gift below)
  • Put the notes
    • All over the inside of his car!
    • All over the house
    • Inside the shower
    • In his daily path –
      • inside his Bible
      • on the bathroom mirror
      • on his coffee cup
      • in his closet
      • in his shoes
      • on the computer screen
  • Give a loving gift
    • Fill a box with little things he loves
      • His favorite candy bar
      • A favorite pen
      • $5 gift card to favorite fast food or coffee place
      • A  favorite movie dvd (even checked out from the library!)
      • A favorite Bible verse printed out from the computer
      • The favorite cookie or brownie you make
      • A favorite picture of the two of you in an inexpensive frame
    • Get him a small journal where you can record your dates and what you do in the next year!
    • Go to a used book store and find a great book he’d love.
  • Dress up for an evening at home.
  • If you have children, make dinneritme a time for the family.  Set the table with red and white.  Add conversation hearts scattered on the tablecloth (yes, add a tablecloth), burn some candles or votives.  Serve salad first, then clear the dishes and serve the main course.  Dessert idea below.
  • Give the children little heart boxes of their own chocolates – if Whitman’s is too expensive, they have cute boxes at the Dollar Tree!
  • To make a heart shaped cake, mix up a box of cake mix and pour half in a round pan and half in a square pan.  After baking and cooling, cut the round cake in half.  Put the square cake on a platter so it looks like a diamond shape.  Put half of the round on the top right and the other on the top left – voila!  It’s a heart!  Cover with pink or white icing.
  • Give the children their dessert after supper.  Save yours and your husband’s for later.
  • After the kids are in bed, serve dessert by candlelight in your bedroom.  Serve it on your good dishes.  If you need to bring in a small table, do so.  Make it special!  Light candles in the room.  Turn on some soft music.
  • If you need a chocolate dessert idea, here’s a favorite of mine!

So, is there an idea here you think you could use?  I hope so!  I also hope you take these ideas and implement them into every day of your marriage!  Valentine’s Day isn’t the day to get caught up or to make up for what you should’ve been doing.  Make the day special, then keep it going all year!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Dazzling Ideas for the Holidays

Every now and again I get a good idea! I thought I would share three of those with you today that might help your holiday, too!

1. I keep two of those “under-bed-storage” boxes filled with my wrapping paper, ribbon, bows and tape. The other day while wrapping gifts on the floor, I realized that the top of one of those boxes would be the perfect place to lay the package and wrap it. I placed a fabric cutting guide on top to make it a flat surface, and it made it the perfect “table” for gift wrapping. So not only is this the place that is the central location for all of my materials, it is also the wrapping station!

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2.  I love the Wet and Wild nail polish, especially the mega last. I love it because it REALLY does last! I recently bought a glittery nail polish for the holidays, because Christmas and New Year’s need a little glitter!

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I layered the glitter over the color just to add a little sparkle. It was just enough without looking over the top. If you’re looking for a way to dazzle up your look a little, add some sparkle in your nail polish! It’s a fun addition!
The colors shown here are:  (the one in the back) Undercover – I love it because it goes with pinks or reds.  The Glitter doesn’t have a color, the only thing on the bottle is “Shine,” but the bar code is 77802 54803.

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3.  My last idea was concerning decorating my bedroom mantle. I didn’t want greenery and all that kind of Christmas decor, but just some winter touches. I changed it, then changed it again, and then again. I think I finally have it in a way I love. Here’s what made a difference –

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  • Grouping my Willow Tree collection together on one end. If you scatter a collection, they get lost; grouping them together shows off their beauty.
  • Adding a pop of red also gives the mantle that effect. It needed something on that end, and red roses are perfect for Christmas!
  • If something doesn’t look right in your decor, keep “fluffing” until you love it. Group like things together, let the heights vary so your eye moves up and down. Add a pop of color.
  • Oh, and add a cat in the room and it will ALWAYS be the perfect touch!  =^..^=

I hope one of my “dazzling ideas” inspired you! I’d love to hear if they did! Now carry on with your Christmas preparations!

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Friday Favorites

What a great week this has been. These days before Christmas are so much fun. Yes, they are full, but full of  blessings! Here are some of my favorites –

What I’m reading:
The Four Streams Bible Reading Plan

I’m almost finished reading through my Bible in a year. What a blessing it’s been to read through the “Four Streams” plan on You Version! It takes you through the New Testament four times, Proverbs four times, the Psalms twice, and the Old testament once. As mentioned here, I’ve been listening to the audio as I follow along in my Bible. That’s been a great addition!

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Projects I’ve worked on…
A blanket scarf.

I bought shirting flannel for $4.50 a yard. I frayed all four sides and folded it in a triangle and tied it in the front. It’s perfect and perfectly warm! I wore it yesterday when it was in the 20’s and it kept me toasty while I was outside!
I did another scarf in a long rectangle, cutting it in half, lengthwise and putting a seam in the middle.

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These were fun projects that gave me two flannel scarves for under $10!

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The most surprising thing I’ve seen…
An Elf!

It’s not every day you see an elf walking down the street! If only I could’ve gotten her to come home and help with the rest of my gift wrapping!  =)  This was at Dollywood where we went to see the Christmas lights and the shows.  Dollywood gives the Gospel in every Christmas show!  It’s wonderful!

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She so sweetly posed for my picture!

What’s been cooking in my kitchen…
Santa Munch

This is a mix of popcorn and pretzels, covered in white chocolate and M&M’s added in! Popcorn is my very favorite snack. This stuff is heaven!

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The cutest recent picture of Liza

Helping me wrap gifts…you know, since the elf couldn’t help!

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It’s not the huge things that stand out – it’s the little blessings God allows that make the days and moments special.  A special verse or chapter of Scripture, a laugh, a crafted treasure, a treat, a curious kitty.  They’re all gifts from my loving Father and I thank Him for each one!

It’s also going to be a great weekend and I’m super excited about what’s planned!
What has a highlight in your week been?

Stay refreshed!

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(L)Oven Monday – The Best Food Gifts from Your Kitchen

As I make my preparations for a more “simple” Christmas this year, I’m reminded that giving gifts from what you love is the best kind of gift to share.  If I do what I love – I bake and the receiver knows that it was prepared especially for them with lots of (L)oven from my oven!

I have many recipes on my blog that I have given away, and I’m going to compile a short list of some of my favorites for you today.  These are simple to make and are LOVED by those that receive them.  Let’s get shopping/baking…

  1. Nutty Orange Coffee Cake – – This is a fancier form of Monkey Bread.  It’s made from canned biscuits, cream cheese and cinnamon and sugar.  It’s pretty, it’s easy to make and is so good it became a Christmas tradition for our breakfast!Nutty orange Coffee cake.jpg
  2. Cranberry Crumble – Another great coffee cake that anyone would LOVE to receive!
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  3. French Bread Loaves – A good old crusty bread tied up in a linen kitchen towel is as lovely as it is delicious!
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  4. Homemade Granola – Gifted in a jar with a pretty ribbon, this granola is perfect for any breakfast lover!
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  5. Cream Cheese Coffee Cakes – These are more like Danishes and who doesn’t love a Cream Cheese Danish????  This recipe makes four, so it really makes great use of your time in the kitchen!
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  6. Deep Dish Hershey Brownies – This is my family’s favorite brownie recipe and I’ve made them for years.  Any chocolate lover will be delighted to receive a plate of these!
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  7. Microwave Caramel Popcorn – This is the easiest caramel popcorn!  It makes a nice pile of popcorn for the snacker on your list!

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You can also go here for a list of some fabulous cookies to bake up and place in cellophane bags or pretty Christmas tins.

Food is a wonderful gift of love from your oven to the recipient.  Get baking and finish your gift list!

Which of these recipes will you make and give away?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Being the Best Guest/Best Hostess

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If you’re blessed enough to be a guest in someone’s home for Thanksgiving tomorrow, let me remind you of a few things that will make your hostess sorry to see you leave!

  • Take a thoughtful Hostess gift – even if you’re going to your mom’s!  It doesn’t have to be expensive – just thoughtful.  Here are some ideas:
    • Tea Towel – A Christmas one she can use right away would be nice!
    • A Bag of coffee, Tea or Hot Chocolate – Find something they’d love.  Maybe include a couple pretty mugs (unless the already have 1,000,000,000,000)
    • Homemade cookies or muffins on a pretty platter they can keep.
    • Homemade bread wrapped on a cutting board they can keep.
    • Delicious smelling candle – Those 3-wick candles are wonderful!
    • Box of chocolates
    • Guest book
    • Holiday magazines, slipper socks and packages of hot chocolate so she can relax after the crowd has gone home!
  • Offer to help and then stick around and do it.  Don’t say, “Let me know if I can do anything and then leave the room.  Offer to:
    • Wash up any dishes in the sink
    • Fill glasses with ice
    • Pour beverages
    • Cut the pies
  • Keep your children in tow.  In other words, keep them from destroying your host’s home.  Bring things for them to play with while the meal is being prepared and keep them out of the hostess’s way.  Teach them to respect the property of the host.  We recently had little ones in our home (2 and 4) and you hardly knew they were in the house.  They played with toys, chatted, obeyed their parents, and were a joy to entertain!
  • If you’re staying overnight, remove the sheets from the bed the morning you leave and fold them and stack them on the washer.  Remake the bed without the sheets and leave the room tidy.  Place wet towels and washcloths on the washer, too.
  • Let the hostess rise in the morning and have a few minutes to get things together for breakfast.  It’s nice to get the coffee going and breakfast laid out before guests are staring at you!  =)
  • Don’t stay longer than you’d arranged.  Leaving promptly is as gracious as arriving promptly.

Now if you’re going to be the hostess, here are a few reminders that will keep your guests wanting to return:

  • Have something your guests can snack on before the meal is ready.  Crackers and cheese, a veggie tray or chips and salsa would be great.
  • Be prompt with the mealtime.  If you invite your guests for dinner at 1:00 don’t be peeling the potatoes then.  The gravy should be ready to pour at 1:00.  There’s nothing worse than wondering when the meal is going to be ready.
  • Think ahead about who will be there.  If little ones are coming, make it as easy on the parents as you can.
    • Have a place for the children to sit so they’ll be comfortable and won’t have the parents worrying that they’re going to destroy your white covered dining room chairs.
    • Put away anything you don’t want broken.
    • Have a little stash of toys you can bring out for the children to play with.
    • Set a table just for the children.  Include crayons and coloring place mats and fun treats.
  • Provide snacks in the room for overnight guests.  Packages of crackers, granola bars and water bottles are sufficient.  Pieces of fruit would be nice, too.
  • Provide your Internet password for overnight guests.
  • Let them know exactly where the towels and washcloths are.  Keep your pretty “untouchable” towels stashed away.  Nothing like standing at the sink with drippy hands wondering which towel to use!
  • Have breakfast foods prepared and frozen.  The night before, put breakfast foods out so your guests can help themselves.  Set out coffee cups and creamers, too.
  • Make your home inviting by playing soft music and lighting candles.
  • Be interested in your guests.  Ask them questions and listen with caring ears.  Have prayer together before they leave.

I’ve had the blessing of having VERY gracious guests, and I’ve also been the recipient of VERY gracious hostesses.  Let’s each put our best foot forward and strive to be a blessing – no matter if we’re on the giving or receiving end of the Thanksgiving Day celebration!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!!!

With a grateful heart,

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Friday Favorites – OOTD video and Pie Workshop!

Happy Friday, friends!  This has been a packed week, but filled with lots of fun blessings!  Let me share some of them with you:

I held my first Apples of Gold Workshop last night.  It was a class to teach how to make Pumpkin Rolls and Pies!  We had eight ladies attend and we had SOOOO much fun!
The pictures below show

  1.  The calm after the (flour) storm!  Every lady rolled out pie dough and we covered every inch of my island with our flour, dough and fillings.  It was so great!
  2. Cutie Pies as I call them, because aren’t they cute?! Each lady made a pie in a Mason Jar lid and everyone was so creative and did a fantastic job.  They got to eat the fruit of their labors, of course!
  3. I demonstrated the technique of making a sponge cake and rolling it up and filling it.  Pumpkin Roll is loved by many and can be made ahead and frozen, making it a great dessert for Thanksgiving dinner!

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I bought some little plastic silver coffee spoons at the Dollar Tree and turned them into Chocolate Spoons for coffee or hot chocolate for when you want to turn your beverage into a bit of a dessert.  They would make great gifts, attached to hot chocolate packets and slid into seasonal bags!

I encouraged the ladies last night to use this holiday season to share the Gospel.  Bake up something or fix these spoons up and give them to a neighbor or co-worker and tell them you trust this will be good, but one thing we can always count on is that God is good (Psalm 34:8) and share the Gospel with them!

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Then lastly, I did a quick video of my OOTD (Outfit of the day) .  You can check out my You tube channel under Denise Cunningham and subscribe so you’ll be notified each time I upload a video. You can just click on the You Tube Icon on the video below and it will take you to my channel. I’m thinking of adding some Christmas prep videos in the next few weeks, that you won’t want to miss!

I have a little video of the Chocolate Spoon tutorial that will be posted later today!  I hope you’ll come check it out on my channel.

What have you been up to, what are you wearing and how are you experiencing the blessings of the Lord this week?

Stay refreshed!

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