Sunday, October 31, 2010

I can't talk right now....

I'm running a marathon. Right now. So I hope you're sending me some good vibes, because I'm going to need them.

Two years ago, I looked like this when I finished the marathon:

Seriously, this is about twenty minutes after I crossed the finish line, and I'm all smiles and looking super joyful.

If I look even half as happy after this marathon as I did after the 2008 marathon, I'll be happy.

This year I decided that I'd wear a hot pink running shirt to stand out in the crowd so Tom could spot me. And yesterday my Mom said "oh wow Dana it's Breast Cancer Month, don't you think everyone's going to be doing that?"


And PS. Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I have a problem.

I hoard soap.

Even when I don't have any soap in my shower, I refuse to use my good soap. It's a problem.

(yes, this is the soap in my shower. shameful, i admit)

I have wonderfully smelling soap from my friend Laura.....

A trifecta of gardening soap...

Soap from Maine...

Soap from Ireland...

Soap from Turkey...

And inside this insanely adorable box...

Soap from my friend Aimee....

I'm not sure how to fix this nice-soap-using block, but admitting I have a problem is at least a step. Right?

Any tips?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Keeping the Romance Alive

Things to consider on a Friday, in preparation for a truly terrific Saturday and Sunday.

1. Surprise your girlie with mimosas on Sunday morning, and drink them as the fall sun streams through the windows.

2. Be daring.

When your lady decides to feed you tofu....

Keep an open mind.

You just might like it more than you thought.

3. Go outside.

Marvel at nature.

Ask yourself questions, such as "why do the leaves on the tops of these trees change first....

while these are changing all over?"

Pause to look at the light coming through the trees.

And when you are walking, make sure you look down.

Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

Very Important Reminder: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will be on television tonight with that yearly message that the great pumpkin really does exist. Don't miss it!

Just to get you in the spirit.....

The show airs at 8pm eastern /7pm central on ABC (but please double check that to be sure - I don't want to be the reason you miss it!).

Images from here, here, here, here and here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Butter

Here at the Black Eyed Susan, the idea of taking a fruit at the peak of its goodness and preserving it so that it can be enjoyed during the dead of winter sets off a little firestorm of happiness. So when Tom and I went to the Georgia Apple Festival a couple of weeks ago, I made sure to snag plenty of apples so that I could make some apple butter.

Now at this point in the game you may be thinking a) Georgia can't really be considered as having a 'dead of winter.' And b) I can get a kiwi from a million miles away at midnight on January 15th wearing my slippers in the grocery store - I'm not concerned with 'preserving fruit' or 'going without'! Well, stick with me here, because making your own apple butter is so simple that you just might prefer it to driving to the store.

This recipe uses a crockpot, and will take a while to make (I cooked mine a few hours at a time for a few days). You can either make this and then refrigerate/freeze, or you can can it.


1/2 peck Granny Smith apples (~5lbs)
2 cups sugar (this is all a matter of taste, you may want more or less sugar)
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t salt

Peel and core the apples. I'll let you in on a little secret. I cut each apple in quarters, and that's it. I was too lazy to chop each apple into little pieces (or pull out my Cuisinart), so I put them into the crockpot in large chunks. This requires using an immersion blender later, so if you don't have one then you may want to chop them now.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and salt....

And pour over the apples....

I thought that without liquid the apples may start to burn in the crockpot. I soon saw that I had no need to worry, because after an hour of cooking there was already a lot of liquid in the bottom...

After turning the crockpot to low and covering the apple butter, cook the apples slowly over a long time. I cooked mine overnight, and then for a couple of evenings a couple of hours each (letting it cool and then sticking it in the fridge between cook times). You definitely don't need to make it as complicated as this, but with my schedule it worked best to cook it over a couple of days. After the apples get nice and soft and delicious, blend them with the immersion blender until the apple butter is smooth in consistency. At this point, the apple butter is ready to can.

I was a newby canner, so required lots of advice from my Mom. I didn't want to give anyone botulism! First, I bought a canning pot with a rack on the inside and 12 pint-sized jars (as well as lids).

Fill the pot so that an inch of water covers the jars when the rack is lowered. Add all jars (and lids) to the pot and turn the heat on high. Heating this water is going to take awhile FYI. Let the water reach 180 degrees, and once the jars have been sitting in 180 degree water for about ten minutes, pull them out of the water.

Put a funnel in a jar, and ladle the apple butter into the jar until there is about a 1/4 inch of head space. Some of my jars had more than this. Continue until all the apple butter is gone. I ended up with about 6 pints of apple butter. **Be careful about doubling this recipe. I didn't do it, but have heard bad things from people who have. Probably best to just make two batches.

Wipe the rim of the jar so that it is clean and dry. Put a lid on each jar, and screw the top on. Place the jars in the water, bring water to boil, and leave jars in for 10 minutes. Lift rack, and take jars out of the water.

The jars will then start to create a seal. You may hear them pop. After 24 hours, all of the jars should have sealed. Check this by pushing on the top of the lid. If it compresses and then pops back up, a seal was not created. Put any jar without a proper seal in the fridge and eat it before it goes bad.

Thanks so much for dropping by! If you have any good canning recipes/tips to share with everyone, please leave a comment. I'm still getting the hang of the whole canning thing, and am looking for more recipes to try.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Creme Pies

I'm going to share something with you because I love ya. These are simply scrumptious and delicious and will make you feel like you just ruled the kitchen. This isn't my invention, I didn't make these up, and I will take absolutely zero credit for them.

Thats not true. I took all the credit when Tom was stunned by their scrumptiousness, and I took all the credit when my coworkers melted with their Tuesday morning surprise.

But here today I'm telling you the truth that I had nothing to do with the magic that was the invention of the Pumpkin Creme Pie.

I will give you one tip: I ended up with a lot of leftover icing, so you could either make your cookies smaller than I did (recommended - these were huge), use more icing than I did, or decrease the amount of icing that you make.

Below are my pictures. If you'd like to read the inspiration piece, click here. If you want a clickable recipe, click here. [I didn't bother copying and pasting the recipe onto this blog because I changed absolutely nothing about the originall.]

And before you click on those links above, can we have a little tete-a-tete?? Lets not be getting all judgemental about the inferior picture quality that you find on the black eyed susan, mmmmk? If it were up to me I'd be snapping beauties left and right. But alas, it takes me two or three twenty pictures to get a pic good enough to put on this blog. I guess I just have a lot to learn about light and setup and color and timing..... But in the meantime I'll just live with Tom saying "OK, can we just eat now? I think you got enough pictures of dinner."

So here are my semi-inferior but completely honest pictures of one of the most delicious recipes I have ever come across.....

The magic begins....

The dough.....

Squares of wax paper...

Using a ziploc bag with a hole in the corner in lieu of a pastry bag....

[Sorry for the poor quality. I was trying to hold the bag, avoid spilling its contents (see below) and take a picture all at the same time.]

Seriously, if you're going to use a ziploc bag, close the top of the bag. To avoid making an unsightly mess in the center of your masterpiece....

As you can see, this made about 15 cookies (plus a squirt or two). Like I said, I would recommend making them a tad smaller than I did.

I used a toaster oven in lieu of a cooling rack. Don't judge.


Double yum!!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A belt fit for autumn

I had so much fun yesterday making this fun and easy craft. I found it on I Am Momma, and with her very simple tutorial I knew I had to try it out. It really was as simple as she suggested, and I won't go through and post a tutorial since she did such a great job of it on her blog.

Here are my starting supplies:

And my belt all finished:

I wore it with this black and white striped dress because its the only thing I could find that remotely matches the belt, but I want to get a plain colored dress to wear it with at some point.

Here it is up close:

Please ignore that sideways leaf!

This was a really easy craft, and I absolutely love the belt. I wore it to The Ghastly Dreadfuls, a great Halloween show at the Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts. So fun! If you get the chance to go you should. They don't let anyone under 14 in (it has some more adult themes), so leave the kiddos at home.

Because it's fall and because I love how Cheri's came out, I used a similar color scheme. But I think it would also be pretty using lighter colors for spring or brighter colors for summer. The possibilities are endless!! The tutorial doesn't mention how long she cut her felt strips, but I cut mine to be about 33" and they worked great. I haven't figured out how to tie the belt yet (when I wore it last night I tied it in the back as she suggests), but I'm thinking of fastening velcro to the back so it lies flat along my back.

Best part about this craft: it's insanely cheap! The four felt pieces (an 1/8th of a yard each) were about 70 cents each, and I have a lot left over. I didn't have a glue gun so had to buy that, but if you already have the tools this craft will only set you back a couple of dollars or so.

PS. What's one of the toughest things about this blog? Barley is notorious for jumping into my shots at the last minute.....

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