Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Cake

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apples come in  many varieties and each is its own version of delicious.  Since they are in season, our fruit bowl has been filled with all different kinds as of late.  Shown above are Gala apples, one of my favorites.  They are fabulous in this Apple Cinnamon Cake.  Here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Cake

2/3 cup softened butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. apple juice
2 chopped apples

1/2 cup nuts (almonds or walnuts)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar, then add eggs.  Mix in the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, milk and apple juice.  Add the chopped apples.  Pour into a buttered 13 x 9" pan.  Sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake on 350 for 30-35 minutes.

The Pacific Coast

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I was taking a little blog break at the beach last week.  Although it was a bit cold, the water was gorgeous and filled with waves. So inspiring to watch...

Pumpkins and Butterflies...

Dinner with friends is one of my favorite weekend events and designing a creative tablesetting is always part of the fun.  Last weekend we entertained with a casual, mix-and-match approach to the table, which featured different fall colors and textures. This table was created by starting with a neutral table runner then layering textured chargers, classic white plates and earthy green salad plates for each place setting.  For a more formal occasion cloth napkins would be used,  but since ours was a casual evening with good friends these paper butterfly napkins added color and fun.  Gold accented wine glasses and simple green water glasses were also in the mix.  An assortment of purple flowers, cut to fit into a low vase, made a colorful centerpiece surrounded by beige porcelain pumpkins to reflect the season. 

Growing into Mums...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Even though our summer flowers are fading away with the autumn chill the mums are looking gorgeous.  I didn't used to like mums much as they always struck me as the ultimate "grocery store plant".  Seeing multicolored mums piled year round in the aisles for last minute gifts made them seem boring and basic and worst of all...cheap.  I was a bit of a flower snob...

Then one day I realized that beauty can be very familiar but still be beautiful.  That's when I fell in love with mums.  Now they are on the porch and patio en masse every fall.  I love the jewel tones and the robust foliage and the profusion of color they provide.  They also look great in baskets with pumpkins all around.  And, if they are given lots of sunshine and cut back after blooming, they will be around for many seasons to flower again and again.

Hosting House Guests

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Having friends from afar come to visit is always a pleasure, especially in the fall.  Making a beautiful guest room to welcome them is the first part of the fun.  Here are five tips I try to remember when hosting house guests...
  • Make sure the closet is free of clutter with plenty of pretty hangers that complement the guest room decor.  Include an extra blanket on one of the closet shelves.
  • A quality set of flannel sheets on the bed in the cooler months is a cozy must-have for an inviting room.
  • Place a basket of home-baked cookies or chocolates in the room.to welcome your guests.  Fresh fruit and nuts are a good alternative for the more health-conscious.  And, of course, bottled water is essential.
  • A few magazines and books are usually appreciated.  Include something area-specific like a local magazine or tour guide so your guests can get a sense of the locale they are visiting. 
  • Don't forget to clear a place in the room for suitcases to be stored.  It should be out of the traffic area so guests are not tripping on their luggage while coming and going.
And most of all... have fun, and your guests will too!

Burning Bright

Friday, October 1, 2010

Falling leaves, apple cider, pumpkin pie... these are just some of the gifts of October. It is a month of transition when the evening chill turns the trees vibrant colors and nature rests and  prepares for winter. 

We all need time to rest and prepare for what lies ahead.  Sometimes we must burrow in, read a good book, light a candle and nurture our souls.  It is this process of caring for our spirit that will allow us to be most vital, creative and productive.  Without time for relaxation and reflection we will burn out when it is time to be burning the brightest...

How do you nurture your spirit?
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