Holiday Gifts On a Budget- Flavored Salt

(SPOILER ALERT: I might be giving away your Christmas present from me right now).

I am a sucker for those specialty stores that have flavored olive oils, balsamic vinegars, infused salts, soaps, and knick-knacks that are too cute to pass up that I really don’t need but I frequently buy because you never know when I might need to give a gift. But I always end up using them myself. I know, I have no self control, terrible. (Autumn- if you read this I promise some day I will buy the Autumn Spice Blend from Old Town Spice & Tea Merchants and actually give it to you like I intended to 3 months ago…) Anyways, I was browsing Pinterest one day and saw a recipe for making lime infused salt kinda like what you might see in one of those stores and started thinking about other flavors that might be good. Then I had a genius idea- Last year I made homemade salted caramels and they were a huge hit and since we are on a tight budget again this Christmas I could make a few flavors of Infused Salt and package them up in pretty little containers for all my gifts. Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It Gold

They turned out SO cute! And tasty. And they are perfect for just about anyone who even sort of enjoys cooking. Or eating. Basically everyone. I chose three flavors: Pinot Noir, Roasted Garlic, and Maple Bacon. Pinterest is chock full of other flavor ideas if you want to try different ones but below are my recipes for the flavors I chose. I will be honest with you that these do take a little bit of time to make as you need to let any moisture evaporate completely before packaging them up. The wine takes about an hour or so to reduce and the garlic will need to roast for an hour, then cool before adding the salt then returning it to the oven for drying. But it is SO worth it. The roasted garlic flavor is my favorite. It is so versatile, it pretty much goes on everything and roasting the garlic gives it an extra depth of flavor you don’t get in store bought garlic salt. My recipe for this yields a bit more than you will need for the 8 tins because I wanted to keep a little more of this one for myself because I know I will use it A LOT! And same with the Maple Bacon Salt. If you try or modify any of these let me know how they turn out.Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It Gold

What you will need: Coarse Sea Salt (it needs to be coarse so that it doesn’t dissolve in the wine or garlic mixtures), sheet pan, parchment paper, aluminum foil, a blender, containers and labels. I bought the salt and round spice tins from Mountain Rose Herbs. I used these 2oz round spice tins that were $0.85 each and bought this 5lb bag of coarse sea salt for $14.00. ***You will want to use a decent bottle of wine for the wine flavored salt as reducing it intensifies ALL the flavors, both good and bad. Also, pay attention to the color of the wine as this will also be the color of your salt. I used Castle Rock Pinot Noir which is about $8.00 a bottle. The flavor was lovely but the color is a little brownish. Unfortunately I didn’t consider the color when I chose my wine but now is my chance to recommend that you do this.*** Another tip, double the recipe for the bacon part to make extra bacon, it’s so good. I almost had to make another batch because my husband wouldn’t stop stealing little pieces of bacon while I was working on it. He even told me to make him Maple Bacon for his birthday instead of a cake. Make extra, just do it.Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It Gold

I printed out these labels (free download) and wrote on the flavor in the center along with “made with love from the Hellwegs” around the edge. Just print the labels on card stock paper and write your message on each. To attach them to the tins just cut them out and use a toothpick or paintbrush to spread a very thin layer of Elmer’s glue on the top of the lid then gently press the label onto the lid rubbing out any air bubbles.

Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It GoldThe total cost on each salt are approximately as follows based on the ingredients I used including the tins: Wine Salt- $2.43 per tin (8 tins), Roasted Garlic Salt $1.58 per tin (14 tins), and Maple Bacon Salt $2.14. That comes out to about $6.00 per set for a totally personal and awesome gift. #winning

 

Wine Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It GoldWine Infused Salt

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c coarse sea salt
  • 1 bottle of good wine (*** see note above)
  1. In a non-stick pot reduce the entire bottle of wine over med-low heat until it has reduced to about 1.5 TBS and is a sticky, syrupy consistency. This took me about an hour, but check on it regularly especially towards the end so you don’t burn it.
  2. Stir in the salt with a wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the salt out onto the paper.
  4. Place in a 200F oven for about 20 minutes. Turn oven off and leave the salt in the oven over night to continue drying out.
  5. Once the salt is dry (it may still be slightly sticky), put it into the blender and pulse on high until you reach the desired flake size. I kept this one as a medium grain.
  6. Recipe makes 12 oz total
  7. Package it up to be used on meets, on sandwiches, on salads, sprinkle on figs with goat cheese and honey…..

Roasted Garlic Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It GoldRoasted Garlic Salt

Ingredients

  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 2 cups coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (both peppers are optional- but I love how they enhance the flavor)
  1. Cut just the very top off of each head of Garlic and drizzle with 2 TBS of olive oil.
  2. Wrap tightly in foil and bake at 400F for 1 hour.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool to touch.
  4. Squeeze the bottom of each clove to pop the garlic out and place it in a shallow baking dish.
  5. Once all the garlic is extracted, add the black pepper and cayenne pepper and use a fork to mash it into a paste.
  6. Stir in the coarse salt and place the dish back into the oven at 200F for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes. After 30 minutes spread the salt onto a sheet of parchment paper and let the salt cool uncovered overnight or for at least a few hours until it is dry.
  7. Pour into the blender and pulse on high until you reach the desired flake size. I did a med/fine grind on this one so it can be used on popcorn.
  8. Recipe makes about 22 oz (you will be glad you have extra to keep for yourself, trust me)
  9. Package it up and put it on ALL THE THINGS. Veggies, fish, chicken, mashed potatoes, popcorn, sprinkle on fries with a little Parmesan…..so good.

Maple Bacon Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It GoldMaple Bacon Salt

Ingredients

  • 2 TBS good quality pure maple syrup
  • 1 lb of good quality bacon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 cups coarse salt
  1. In a bowl mix together the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking rack on top.
  3. Press the slices of bacon into the maple mixture to coat evenly or use the back of a spoon to smooth the glaze onto the strips and place on a single layer on the baking rack, sprinkle any remaining glaze on top.
  4. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or longer until the bacon is crisp. It will not work if the bacon is too soft or chewy. (I ended up cutting the tips of the bacon off and putting the centers back in to cook a little longer).
  5. Let cool for a few minutes before moving to a piece of parchment paper to cool completely.
  6. Break into small pieces and put in the blender. Pulse 5-6 times before adding the salt.
  7. Add the salt and pulse a few more times, scraping down the sides with a spatula in between. I left this blend pretty coarse.
  8. Recipe makes about 18oz (again, you will be glad for the extra)
  9. Sprinkle on salads, on soups, on cookies with maple buttercream frosting, on soft chewy caramels, on eggs, sprinkle on roasted Brussels sprouts or butternut squash, or take your s’mores or caramel corn a whole new level with this stuff.

Infused Salt Gift | Glitter It Gold

 
Hatchery Tasting Box

Transforming Leftovers- Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. It’s a time to spend with family and extended family and friends to tell them how much you appreciate them. And in my family the food is also very (!!!) important- so much so that we actually split the day into two parts. The first part is Vietnamese style. My grandma makes Pho and egg rolls and we have that as brunch. Then for dinner we have a more traditional meal with ham and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Talk about a food coma. But man is it delicious. And the soup is light and low fat so, it’s not that bad, right? Whatever. I don’t really care. It only happens once  a year and it’s just too good to care.

Anyways. With all that food there are always a ton of leftovers. And don’t get me wrong, I love leftovers. But there are only so many times I can eat the exact same meal before I get tired of it. There are so many ways to transform your Thanksgiving leftovers- potato pancakes, turkey sandwiches with cranberry and cream cheese, green bean casserole soup…… But I came up with a new leftover mash up that is probably one of my favorites yet: poblano peppers stuffed with leftover mashed potatoes, turkey and corn and smothered in enchilada sauce and cheese. It’s so good. I’ll probably make it throughout the year with chicken instead of turkey. Yum.Stuffed Poblano Peppers | Glitter It Gold

Remove the seeds and stem of the poblano peppers and cut them in half.  Place the cut side down in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes until the skin starts to bubble. Then stuff them with leftover mashed potatoes, diced turkey, and frozen corn. Drizzle with enchilada sauce and cover with a handful of shredded pepper jack cheese and bake till bubbly and golden.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers | Glitter It Gold

What is your favorite way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers?

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1.5 c of leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 c frozen sweet corn
  • 1.5 c diced turkey (or chicken)
  • 1 10 oz can of green enchilada sauce
  • 1 c shredded pepper jack cheese

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400f
  2. Remove the seeds and stem of the poblano peppers and cut them in half
  3. Place the cut side down in a baking dish, drizzle with oil and bake for about 10 minutes until the skin starts to bubble. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute. Reduce temperature to 350
  4. While poblanos cool mix the turkey, mashed potatoes and corn together in a bowl.
  5. Spoon the potato mixture evenly into the pepper halves. Drizzle enchilada sauce over the peppers, pour any extra into the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. Top with shredded pepper jack cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.

Hosting A Dinner Party- Menu #3

Here is the final menu for my Hosting A Dinner Party series. In case you haven’t been following along I have been sharing tips on how to host a dinner party. I gave you 3 tips and a printable PDF, tips for decorating on a budget, Menu #1, and Menu #2.Dinner Party Menu | Glitter It Gold

This meal is so easy, almost every part can either be made in advance or is put in a crock pot/ oven and then not touched for a few hours. And it looks and tastes fancy. I recommend you take the sirloin out of the oven just before it is done and cover in foil for 10 minutes to continue cooking while the oven tempt gets bumped up to 400F for the asparagus. Also, although the recipe for the asparagus says 15-20 minutes I always check after 12 minutes so they don’t overcook as I like my veggies on the crisp side. Serve the cake with fresh berries, you could also add in 1/2 tsp of instant coffee to really enhance the chocolate flavor, but that is optional.

 

Sirloin Tip Roast | BS' In The Kitchen
Sirloin Tip Roast | BS’ In The Kitchen
Wild Mushroom Gravy | Oh My Veggies
Wild Mushroom Gravy | Oh My Veggies
Parmesan and Garlic Roasted Asparagus | Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen
Parmesan and Garlic Roasted Asparagus | Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes | Gimme Some Oven
Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes | Gimme Some Oven
Balsamic Beet Salad with arugula, goat cheese, and walnuts | A Dish Of Daily Life
Balsamic Beet Salad with arugula, goat cheese, and walnuts | A Dish Of Daily Life
Evelyn Sharpe's Chocolate Cake | The Tart Tart
Evelyn Sharpe’s Chocolate Cake | The Tart Tart

The Day Before:

  • Make the cake (don’t sprinkle with powdered sugar until tomorrow)
  • Make the gravy, simply reheat it when you are ready (the flavors just get better over night)
  • Trim the sirloin, rub evenly with salt, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate

A Few Hours Before Dinner

  • Remove the sirloin from the fridge to come to room temp
  • Assemble the salad, leaving the dressing to be added just before serving
  • Start the potatoes (remember they take 4 hours, but once you get it all in the crock pot you’re practically done)
  • Wash and season the asparagus so it is ready to put in the oven

 

Hosting A Dinner Party- Menu #2

Last week I gave you 3 tips to hosting a dinner party, a printable party planning PDF, and the first of three full dinner menus with recipes and prep notes as a part of the How To Rock The Holidays On A Budget mini series I have been working on. Here is the second menu option.

Dinner Party Menu | Glitter It Gold
This one would work very well for Thanksgiving for someone who wants poultry but is intimidated by the idea of cooking and carving a full turkey or for a Friendsgiving dinner or secondary Thanksgiving party so no one gets burned out on eating the same meal over and over. It has juicy roasted chicken, potatoes, and green beans, but with a twist making it versatile enough for any occasion. My favorite part of this menu is the cake. If you make nothing else, make the cake. I have served it on many occasions and it is ALWAYS a hit. I top it with fresh whipped cream and strawberries. The best part is that it tastes even better the next day making this a fantastic make ahead option. (If you can keep your hands off of it that long).

Menu 2

Roasted Chicken and Herbs
Roasted Chicken and Herbs | Cake’n’Knife
Scalloped Potatoes | Gimme Some Oven
Scalloped Potatoes | Gimme Some Oven
Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles | How Sweet Eats
Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles | How Sweet Eats
Baby Arugula Salad with Lemon, Balsamic Vinegar, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts | Kalyn's Kitchen
Baby Arugula Salad with Lemon, Balsamic Vinegar, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts | Kalyn’s Kitchen
Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake | Brown Eyed Baker
Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake | Brown Eyed Baker

The Day Before:

  • Make the cake the day before, if you are serving with homemade whipped cream go ahead and make that too and refrigerate it.
  • Prep the potatoes up to just before baking, layer them in the baking dish and cover.
  • Prep the chicken (if you are breaking down a whole chicken do this in advance, if using chicken pieces that are pre-cut then skip this step). Mix together the liquid for baking the chicken and put in the fridge.
  • Make the salad dressing and refrigerate
  • Prep your green beans, wrap in bacon. Make the glaze in a separate container and refrigerate separately.

Just Before Dinner:

  • Slice up the fruit for the cake, cover and set aside
  • 1 hour before cooking take the potatoes out of the fridge and let them come to room temp.
  • Put the green beans on your baking sheet and brush with glaze.
  • Put chicken in baking dish and cover in white wine and herb mixture.

Bon Appetit!

Hosting A Dinner Party- Menu #1

Just as I promised in my last post Hosting a Dinner Party- 3 Tips And A Download, over the next few days I am going to give you three fully planned menus that will work for pretty much any holiday.  I am doing all the leg work in researching recipes that have flavors that compliment each other and are easily prepared for a dinner party scenario. I warn you, these are not traditional holiday meals- these are meant to be menus that you can keep in your arsenal for any type of dinner party any time of the year- perfect these three and you can’t go wrong. Whether in-laws are in town, your bestie just got engaged, or you got volunteered to host the holiday party any of these menus should do the trick. Who says you have to serve traditional turkey and mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving anyways? How about cheesy scalloped potatoes! And green bean casserole is great, but why not mix it up with bacon wrapped green bean bundles.Dinner Menu Plan | Glitter It Gold

I have chosen these recipes from many other wonderful bloggers out there, if you love them, show the creators some love for me. Here’s the first menu. Click each image to open the recipe in a new tab.

Menu 1

Arugula Salad with Pear, Candied Walnuts and Gorgonzola- TangoMango
Arugula Salad with Pear, Candied Walnuts and Gorgonzola- Tango Mango
Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin- LaughingSpatula
Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin- Laughing Spatula
Roasted Carrots with Parsley and Garlic Butter- InspiredTaste
Roasted Carrots with Parsley and Garlic Butter- Inspired Taste
Crispy Roasted Fingerling Potatoes- SeasonsAndSuppers
Crispy Roasted Fingerling Potatoes- Seasons And Suppers
Hasselback Apples- Tango Mango
Hasselback Apples- Tango Mango

How to prep:

  1. The day before
    1. Prep the pork tenderloin up to just before actually cooking it, put it in the baking dish you will use, cover with foil
    2. Make the candied walnuts (if you don’t plan to buy them)
    3. Cut the carrots, toss in
    4. Make the Parsley garlic butter (don’t add them to the carrots yet, you will do this after reheating them)
    5. Cut the potatoes, toss them in the olive oil and salt and pepper and put them in a baggy
    6. Make your salad dressing
  2. Just before guests arrive
    1. Put all salad ingredients together except the dressing
    2. Put the carrots in the oven
    3. Dump the potatoes onto a sheet pan to roast and continue to make as directed
    4. Roast the pork tenderloin.

Why this is a good menu: All the baked/roasted items are at 400/425F. You won’t need to work in batches or worry about one item getting cold while you cook another at a different temp. I would start the oven at 400F for the first 30 minutes, at which point you will toss the potatoes in Parmesan and put them back in the oven, remove the carrots and toss with the garlic parsley butter and check on the tenderloin. Then bump the temp up to 425 to finish the potatoes for another 10 min or so. In that last ten minutes go ahead and toss your salad, plate you carrots and your tenderloin and gather the guests. Easy peasy.

Hosting A Dinner Party- 3 Tips And A Download

So you got volunteered to host this year’s holiday party. Before you go hide in the closet and drown yourself in tears worrying about how to get it all done without looking like a chicken running around with it’s head cut off;take a deep breath, and let me help you plan your menu. I LOVE entertaining, it’s easy for me, but I know that is not the case for many people. I am going to share a few things with you that I always do when hosting a dinner that will make your night much more enjoyable. Over the next few posts I will share fully planned menus with you. I even made you a printable (which took forever because it was my first time) to track everything- you can download it by clicking the link above image and then save the PDF that opens in a new tab. (You have no idea how long this took/how excited I am to share it with you- yay for small victories!)

3 Tips for Successful Dinner Party Hosting

  1. Plan ahead as much as possible, put it in writing
  2. Pre-make as much as possible in advance
  3. Have a wing man, and let them help you

Downloadable Party Planning PDF

Let's Have a Party- Party Planning Printable

Plan Ahead

Planning is so important. And from my experience the best way to execute a dinner party without any road bumps is to put your plan into writing, or even drawing. List out all the items you will have on the menu including beverages and desserts. Then make a grocery shopping list based on that list. Also think about what you will be serving each item on or in. I like to set up the table like I would on that night and in each dish put a post-it note with what is going in the dish. Put whatever serving utensil will be used in each dish so that you are not scrambling to find another serving utensil while people are standing in front of the potatoes waiting for you to get something to serve with before the food gets cold. If guests are bringing a dish always assume/plan that you will need to re-plate it and provide serving utensils for it. Put aside all the dishes and utensils you will want to use so they don’t get misplaced. If you are going to use disposable dinnerware and cups you will need to add those to your list. If you are not using disposable, make sure you have enough for all your guests plus a few extra- forks get dropped and glasses get left in odd places. I highly recommend setting out a way to mark cups/glasses right by the beverages.

When you have your whole plan laid out it relieves you from having to rely on your memory, immediately reducing your stress. Try to plan for as much as you can, even things like the centerpieces, beverage dispensers, ice buckets, trashcans and extra seating where people may tend to congregate can make it easier to enjoy the night. Planning ahead (especially the menu) will also allow you to save some money- use the weekly mailers from your local grocery store to help plan your menu utilizing items on special.

Prep

It’s important when hosting a party that you get to spend time enjoying your company and have fun too, not just cook and clean and worry about whether you just burned the dinner. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make as much as you can ahead of time. Many items can be made 1-3 days in advance and simply reheated in the oven before serving. This spreads out the work over a few days and keeps you from having to clean up so many dishes on the night of the party. And if you do accidentally mess anything up, no problem, you have time to re-do it or fix it. For each menu option I give I will also give you hints on what you can make ahead or how to prep to make cooking a breeze. Make sure you let anything that will be reheated come to room temperature before reheating so that the center will get warm without overcooking the edges or the top.

Have a wing man

Pick someone who is attending the dinner, it could be your husband, your BFF, or another guest who you know loves to entertain and let them in on your plans for the evening and show them where everything is. Ask them to be your backup in case you need help refilling the cheese plate or stack of napkins, or trying to complete the finishing touches on what seems like a million dishes of food. If you can have a few things that you already know you will need them to do, explain it to them in advance and your night will flow seamlessly. Even if they don’t do much, just knowing they have your back can be huge help in reducing your stress levels.

Check back on Friday for the first of 3 fully planned menus along with notes on how to prep and save some time and energy when preparing them.

How To Rock The Holiday Season On A Budget- Volume 1

November and December are two of my favorite months of the year as they each have one of my two favorite holidays- Thanksgiving and Christmas. The decorations, the food, the parties, dressing up, decorating the tree, baking, the smells, the colors, I love ALL of it. But, let’s face it, the holidays can be pretty hard on us financially. All the things we love about the holidays can add up to a pretty hefty bill by the end of the year, and there is nothing worse to dampen the holiday spirit than to be worried about how to pay for it all. That’s why I have put together this special series on how to get through the holidays without breaking the bank.

First let’s talk about decorations. If you are anything like me you imagine that the Pottery Barn catalog should just come to life in my living room and every single thing in the house would be themed for whatever holiday you are currently celebrating. However beautiful that would be, it is also extremely unrealistic unless you have $10,000 to spend on holiday decorations this year. My budget, for Thanksgiving and Christmas combined is about $300. Here are some tips and ideas I will be using this Holiday season to decorate our house along with photos of how it came out.

  1. Utilize items found in your own backyard (or outdoors in general)
    1. Frame Pressed Leaves
    2. Make a vase with twigs and an empty can or jar
    3. Collect fallen pine cones and make a guilded pine cone garland, this would also work with leaves and you could easily just use glitter or paint instead of gold leaf.
    4. Add fall or Christmas themed items to a large vase, lantern, or hurricane bowl such as mini pumpkins, pine cones, leaves, twigs, cinnamon sticks, etc around a candle.
  2. Get to couponing
    1. Download the Michael’s app for daily and weekly coupons such as 40% off any one regular priced item. Sign up for their mailing list and get a coupon for 20% off your entire purchase including already discounted items.
    2. Go to Raise.com and buy a Michael’s gift card at a discount (Some are up to 20% off). Once it comes in the mail, print our your coupons and you have some major savings. I was able to add a lot of extra detail to my wedding using this method. For example, I bought a $200 gift card for $160. I then used the 20% entire purchase including sale items. This made my $160 go a very long way towards decorations.
  3. Things will go on sale after the holiday is over, so even though it won’t help you this season, it will be a huge help for next year- especially if you use the methods above for extra savings.
  4. Buy items that can be used for multiple seasons. For example I chose mixed metallics as my color theme for decorating because items such as vases, deer statues, the guilded pine cones above, charger plates and platters, and candle holders can easily be used for both fall and Christmas decor. Some of those silver items can even be used for Easter in the spring. A change of ribbon from burnt orange to red is all that is needed to take your wreath from fall to winter.
  5. Think of ways to creatively use everyday items you already own.
    1. Use your cake stand and some candles to create this center piece
    2. Place pine cones and leaves in an upside down wine glass and put a candle on top, swap the leaves for ornaments for Christmas
    3. Wrap a ribbon and tie a bow around your vase to transform it.
    4. Make a garland out of paper snowflakes, cover them in white glitter to really make a statement.
  6. Lay out all the things you already have first, see where you can fill in with small make shift items like I’ve mentioned above and try to save your money to use on bigger attention grabbing statement pieces like a Christmas tree or lights, a large wreath, or a Santa Claus.

We hosted the annual Friendsgiving dinner this year and I really wanted to make our place look festive and nice for when everyone came over. This is easier said than done though when you have a budget of $100 and you don’t even have all the furniture you want in the house yet. But I made it work, and not only did it turn out awesome, but I can also use several of the items for Christmas too like the deer pillows and the fur pillow, the pinecones and deer antler, and the ivy can be placed in a different pot. The fall “flowers” that I got were all dried so if I am gentle with them and store them right I may be able to use them again next year. I went ahead and bought real instead of fake because I hated how fake the fake ones looked. Duh, right? I just got a bundle of wheat, a bundle of cattails, and a bundle of oak leaves and made my own arrangement. The centerpiece is a wooden box, a candle, and cuttings from my olive tree, plum and some flowering bush in the backyard- that’s utilizing what you already have and bringing the outdoors in (along with a little spider that tried to join us for dessert, oops). Check out my decorating skills on a budget below. Full list of purchased items: 2 deer pillows, 1 fur pillow, fall flowers, a pumpkin, an acorn squash, silver deer antlers, 1 bronze colored fake pumpkin, and 10 silver charger plates. Total on decorations (excluding the edible items). $112.67. A little over budget but I am totally okay with that because the pillows, the antler, and the charger plates can be used for Christmas too. IMG_7830

IMG_7827 IMG_7828 IMG_7829IMG_7826 Fall Flowers

If you have any ideas or tips you have tried comment below so I can share with others.

Fall in (love with) Tennessee

Have you ever been to Tennessee? Well, let me tell you, Tennessee does fall right. Miraculously our trip coincided with the peak of the changing of colors in the leaves. My grandparents have a beautiful home in the foothills of the Smokies with an incredible view of the mountains that are glowing with all shades of red, orange and yellow. FullSizeRenderIn the morning the fog sits low in the valleys between the mountains giving them their name- The Great Smokey Mountains. Watching the sun come up over those foggy mountains in morning while sipping hot coffee (or cocoa) is one of those memories I have seared into my brain. It is such a moving scene, and the memories of spending time with my grandparents being tied to it make for a powerful memory. It’s one that almost feels like a warm hug, like the warmth of the autumn colors hanging in the trees are reaching through the morning chill to wrap you up in a cozy embrace. I want to wear these colors. I want the burgundy and copper in my hair, I want the red on my lips, I want a sweater in that orange, and a scarf in the deep green of the evergreens speckled between. The blue jays and the cardinals fight over bird seed, the squirrels scamper around almost like they are playing tag, and the neighbors cows graze quietly on the other side of the fence. Are you envisioning my view? It’s straight out of a fairy tale, my pictures do no justice. I love it here.
FullSizeRender2IMG_7708

On a completely different note I FINALLY found a grocery store that had Talenti Pumpkin Pie! Of course I bought a pint of it, and I barely had the patience to snap a quick photo before digging in (right before dinner, whatever). I was NOT disappointed. It is not only delicious but it really does taste like pumpkin pie, not just pumpkin spice or sorta pumpkiny; it’s like eating an extra creamy frozen version of pumpkin pie. FullSizeRender3I wish ice cream traveled better because if it did I would have bought 6 more pints to take home with me. Unfortunately, whether I can’t find it because my stores don’t carry it, or I am just always too late and they are out of stock because it is just too delicious I’ll just have to stalk my local grocers until I am lucky enough to find one, and I recommend that you do the same.