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DIY Fall Decor

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DIY Fall Decor

There are lots of easy things you can do to decorate your home for fall, autumn, Thanksgiving, all the fun October and November times!  Look around to see what you have on hand, hidden away somewhere, like baskets and birdcages, then add some nature and raffia 🙂  Here are some of the things I came up with for this year….without really buying anything new except the hens and the moose….DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comDIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comA few years ago I invested in a wicker cornucopia basket, so that always comes out of storage, to be filled with flowers or fruit for our Thanksgiving table.  Started with some fake flowers, then added some small red lights, some dollar store grapes and free picked nature!DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comI loved the green vine flower things that I found on one of my walks, they really dried nicely…DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comBaskets stuffed with nature:DIY fall basket decor for Thanksgiving centerpiece by dennasideas.com

A brown feather wreath for the front door:DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.com

This next photo isn’t home made, but could be….little stuffed hens on a beaded cord….our newest Fall decor addition to hang by the window and by our chore chalkboards in the kitchen:DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comAlso in the kitchen, a little gnome who doesn’t want to freeze outside (he’s also afraid of being gnome-napped), an old apple basket and our avocado plant, also afraid of freezing….DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.com

Another one of my little friends who always seems to be hanging around, the blackbird.  I just love watching the blackbirds, crows and magpies out the window in the fall…DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.com

Add in some of my favorites: pumpkins!DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.com

And if you can’t find real pumpkins, make some chubby stuffed pumpkins, no sew! fast and easy  no-sew DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasTiny colored frames from Michaels can be filled with black cardstock, then written on with chalk for a chalkboard look, add a big-eyed owl…
4x6   - Page 004Some table decor:
DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comFruit and veggies always make colorful decorations.  This year’s splurge: a pomegranate!  And how about some fresh cranberries floating with some apples stuffed with candles….this was a combination of ideas that I pinned on my Fall Ideas Pinterest board.DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comMy Guatemalan textiles always come out for fall….ok, they’re always out, all year around!  And Pies are a great fall decor idea!!  And they are good for so many things….
DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comPumpkin, a tradition.cherry pie by dennasideas.com, DIY Fall Decor ideasMy first cherry pie and dollar store ceramic pumpkins.A Canadian Thanksgiving by dennasideas.comA very old painted Canadian flag made by one of my kids a long long time ago.  Something else made by my kids: a clothespin wreath hanging on a chalkboard!DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comMy last DIY Fall Decor Idea: plant sunflower seeds in the spring and transfer them to your backyard for super Natural fall decor! 🙂  Doesn’t seem like ours bloomed early enough to get the seeds for eating, though…
DIY Fall decor ideas by dennasideas.comHave a great rest-of-the-fall!!  Looks like it could snow in a couple of days around here…..so soon I’ll be packing up and disassembling my fall decor…..Christmas is coming!!! 🙂

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Easy DIY No-Sew Fabric Pumpkins for Fall Decor

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Easy DIY No-Sew Fabric Pumpkins for Fall Decor

Easy as pumpkin pie….actually, much easier and faster than that!  Fasy, easy, temporary decor:  I’m all about these three this year.  These pudgy pumpkins are so easy to make, you can have a pumpkin patch in your living room in 10 minutes.  The “ingredients” for the pumpkins are materials that you probably have around your house….and if you don’t happen to have cinnamon sticks, maybe you could substitute something else….like small rolls of cardstock or cardboard.  And the best part is that you don’t have to sew anything!fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasMaterials:  (new or clean) dish towels, rubber bands or hair elastics, plastic shopping bags, some sort of string or yarn and/or raffia and whole cinnamon sticks.fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasI was so happy to find a use for these tea-towels (that’s what I call dish towels, is that Canadian, eh?) that I bought for a fun Christmas project last year.  I had meant to use them for drying dishes after Christmas, but they ended up downstairs in the craft basement….and didn’t come to light until recently….hmmm, they’d make cute pumpkins!!!  Find the rest of the ingredients:fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasNow grab the narrower end of a dish towel and accordion pleat it, but not perfectly, remember this is supposed to be fast.fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasPleat the other end, too, and fold in half.  You might have to hold one pleated end, while pleating the other end with one hand.  Don’t be perfectionist, it will all be fixable in the end.fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasLay the pleated ends out in a heart shape.  The idea is that the ends will be rubber-banded together, with the ends inside the pumpkin.  Now add a rubber band or hair elastic.fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasYou can vary how much of the end pleats are going to be inside the pumpkin, and so vary the size of the pumpkins.  Now pull the bottom of the “heart” down….fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasAnd tie with some string, yarn or raffia.  Just a couple of regular knots will do to hold it.fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasStart fluffing out the sides of the dish towel a bit.  You can add the stem of the pumpkin now, or later, it doesn’t really matter too much.  Grab a couple of sticks for a larger pumpkin, or just one stick for a smaller pumpkin, and insert them into the top, in the middle of the rubber-band “knot”.  Now stuff the pumpkin with loosely balled-up plastic bags, opening up the pleats a bit, and arranging them to cover any plastic bag that peeks out through the side cracks.  And that’s it!!fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasLater, I decided to tie some raffia around the cinnamon stick stem, to give the look of leaves and vine tendrils.fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasIt took about 10 to 15 minutes to make 7 pumpkins for my “patch”.  The yellow pumpkin is a table runner, folded in half.  The two smaller brown pumpkins were bits of fabric from Walmart, those ones that are smaller than a fat quarter, something like 18″ by 21″ or whatever.  They were from last year’s project, too.  I had been looking at fabric pumpkins, but didn’t want to sew, or permanently use up my small stash of fabric, so this worked out perfectly.  I can pull them apart and use my tea-towels for drying dishes (if I want, ha) or anything else.fast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideasfast and easy DIY fabric pumpkins by dennasideas.com, Fall Decor ideas by denna's ideas

Nutella-filled Cookie Tarts for Fall

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Nutella-filled Cookie Tarts for Fall

Mmmm Nutella!  I have noticed several posts on facebook about the *surprising* evils of Nutella.  It’s not the “healthy” food we thought.  Or is it.  I always knew that something that yummy couldn’t possibly be healthy, so I don’t feel that I was led astray by advertising.  I don’t even remember discovering the deliciousness of Nutella until I was a grown-up.  Ah well, someone special brought me a treat the other day….2 jars of Nutella!  And all of a sudden I felt a crazing* for Nutella and cookies. Together. In one bite.  I was just going to spread it on a plain cookie, then sandwich it with another cookie, but then I started looking at photos of Nutella-filled cookies, and more goodies made with Nutelllllllllla 🙂  I had fun.  Then I decided to kind of adapt a bit and try spooning the chocolaty sweet into cute little pastry shells, but made from cookie dough.  I grabbed the idea from Chef Cathy here and adapted the cookie dough recipe a bit from Lilaloa who has great cookie recipes.  And boy did it turn out well!!  (Not like all of my experiments!)  Chef Cathy calls them Cookie Pies, but I just have to call them Tarts, because that’s what they look like, a good-old Canadian butter tart shell, in miniature!         (* a crazing is a crazy craving!!  I just mispelled that and thought it quite clever!)denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeThe cookie dough recipe:

Makes about 40 mini tarts

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup of white sugar (a heaping cup, or 2/3 cup)

1 egg

1/2 tsp. each of vanilla and orange extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups of all purpose flour

Beat the butter and sugar together.  It might be nice to use room temperature butter, but mine was fairly cold, and it still works.  Add in the egg and beat a bit more.  Add in vanilla and orange extract, and any food coloring if you want.  I added some orange coloring, but it came out very pale-looking!  Throw in the salt, and keep mixing.  Sprinkle the baking powder over the batter, then one cup of the flour and mix.  Add in the last cup of flour and mix.  (Or you can do it the traditional way!)  The dough was fairly stiff and just a bit dry, so I worked it a bit with my hands at the end.  No need to chill!

Roll out the dough, and use a round cookie cutter that is a bit larger than the openings of a mini muffin pan.  I used a scalloped one.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeCut out the rounds and gently press them into the mini muffin tin.  (I used the rounded handle of a spatula to ever so gently tap them down a bit).  I had greased the pan for the first batch, but later found out that that wasn’t necessary if it is a non-stick pan.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeI didn’t push the shells all the way to the bottom of the cups, and that seemed to work great.  Now with  2 teaspoons, fill each shell with Nutella, about a teaspoon each.  I used a small teaspoon (baby sized) and acutally twirled the Nutella into the shells a bit after these ones were sticking up a bit too much, and that worked well.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeOut of the cookie dough, I used a very small cutter and cut out some maple leaves to pop on top.  The cutter was from one of those linzer cookie cutters that fell apart, so now I just use the middle cutter-outter piece for tiny cookies.  Or you can just crumble up some dough and sprinkle it on top, which is what Chef Cathy did!  Now bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeThey popped out of the pan after sitting a few minutes, very nicely and were golden enough and had cute little bottoms!denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeHave a bite!!! or two!denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipedenna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeI decided that I like them cold, instead of warm out the the oven.denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeA sprinkle of cinnamon on the plate was nice, too…denna's ideas.com: Nutella-filled cookie tarts, with how-to and recipeI originally just baked up half of the dough, and thought I would save the rest for something else.  But these little cuties disappeared so quickly and were so yummy, the next day I baked up another batch!  That’s why I’m kind of guesstimating that the recipe made 40 mini tarts, we ate them so fast, and a fair bit of cookie dough was munched up, too, so that’s the closest I could come for a number!  These would look super on a Canadian Thanksgiving Table next week!!  Or on an American Table in November.  Or on anyone’s table at any time this fall!  If you like Nutella, I’m pretty sure you will like this easy recipe! 😉

A little birthday tradition and a chilly walk

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This morning was a beautiful morning…..for staying in bed with a good book!  It was so dark and overcast.  A chilly breeze was blowing and the temperature was about -6 C.  What I ended up doing turned out, strangely enough, to be just as soothing (if not as cozy) as curling up in bed with a book.  I went on a walk.

Now I am not big on walking, jogging or any exercise in general.  And the idea of going out on a dark freezing day doesn’t appeal to me.  I couldn’t summon up the guts to do it yesterday, but today was different:  I was going to walk to the “corner” grocery store.  For my son.

I haven’t pulled out my winter boots yet, since it is really still supposed to be fall, so I prepared for my walk with knee-socks and my tennis shoes (hee hee!) and a hoodie, heavy overcoat, scarf and my new toasty mittens.  I’m sure I looked fabulous, especially with 2 hoods on!  (I could hardly see).  Oh yes, a mug of hot chocolate was needed to warm up my insides in preparation for the outdoors, too.

Surprisingly enough, it was a beautiful walk.  Most of the trees have dropped their leaves in piles on the sidewalks and lawns, but a few have stubbornly held onto their yellow and lime-green leaves.  I also really love those Mountain Ash trees full of bunches of red berries and rusty leaves, so gorgeous.  It was a solitary, chilly walk, but I enjoyed the quiet.  Only a couple of bundled up people passed me, walking their doggies and breathing through their scarves.

I made it to the corner grocery store, though I had to pass many corners to get there!  Someday I hope to do a post on “my little store,” the Elsafadi Mediterranean Market.  I love shopping there!  Today especially was rather nostalgic for me.  It reminded me of my growing-up years in Guatemala and the shops we used to go to, the products we used to buy.  I walked the aisles and looked at every interesting item, from packs of chloro-“chiclets” to jars of honey with the beeswax in them, cans of tomatillos and green mole sauce to packs of corn tortillas.

Especially nice was chatting with the baker and getting him to specially slice some fresh-baked bread for me, and for 99 cents a loaf!  Did I mention that I was shopping for my son’s birthday dinner?  I’m planning on making those special party sandwiches

Another fun purchase was some soda pop in real bottles with real bottle caps!  I know that’s going to be a hit!  And they are extra fun because they are Jarritos brand from Mexico.  Haven’t tried them before but orange and pineapple flavors with natural cane sugar look yummy!

And here’s where the birthday tradition in the title comes in….it’s just a little tradition we’ve been doing for a few years, but it makes the birthday morning that extra bit more fun (especially if it’s a school morning!).  The birthday person gets to choose their favorite cereal!  That might not sound like a big deal to you, but I must explain that we normally buy “healthyish” cereals, full of protein and fiber and iron, in those jumbo boxes and not cutely-colored cereal full of fun thingys!  So it is a treat for the birthday person.  It’s fun to see the kids discussing their options and trying to persuade the birthday person to pick their own favorite!  I’m always trying to convince someone to pick Honeycombs or Captain Krunch, my old childhood favorites!   Guess I just have to wait ’till my birthday….

So I spent awhile in the cereal aisle, looking for the birthday boy’s selected favorite.  I also spent awhile in the aisle where there are all sorts of unusual middle eastern treasures…wooden and tin gadgets that remind me so much of the fun things we could find in the downtown markets in Guatemala!  I’m not sure what they are used for exactly, but I’d like to own a few nonetheless.

Then came the walk home, happily pushing my purchases in a baby stroller, probably looking like a bag lady.  This time a tiny snowflake floated down and settled on my lapel, and a few more gradually drifted onto the plaid blanket that was holding my grocery bags into the stroller.  (I was trying to make it look like I really had a baby in the stroller…so I wouldn’t look too weird…mission-probably-not-accomplished).  It was so nice and peaceful and nostalgic, walking home with pop bottles and fresh bread, candy and chips, passing the empty playground and hearing the seagulls squawk and the stroller wheels crunching over some fallen leaves.  The really great thing (and not nostalgic at all) was the feeling of peace and safety.  Complete aloneness and security.  Thank the Lord for that.  Then home to a cozy house and a plate of delicious reheated leftovers.  (I’m not being sarcastic, I love leftovers, these ones above all).   It’s a good day, it’s a good life.

I’m thankful for small enjoyable moments, those seemingly plain moments that are really wonderful moments in disguise.

Fall.Photo.Shoot.

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So this is it.  Fall.  (It’s here, yay!)  I love fall, but I have been feeling very rebellious lately, and it’s not from the weather.  Guess I’m trying to find balance. (that’s a popular thing to say and it puts my teeth on edge just to write it).  I started realizing how rebellious I felt when we went on an impromptu picnic on Sunday afternoon.  We went to one of our favorite parks with buns and cream cheese and oranges and pepsi.  It is a very popular spot for wedding photography sessions.  On this beautifully hot day, there were no weddings around, but you couldn’t take 10 steps without stumbling upon little photography shoots. Shoot.  They were swarming all over the place!  The photographers with their big shiny cameras and huge lenses, crouched down cajoling little children to look here and there, placing stuffies and piles of leaves around their subjects.  The photographers were calm and smiling, constantly talking; the add-on people (usually moms) weren’t quite as calm, saying ‘do this and do that’!  The subjects were dressed up, some very dressed up in Sunday best and high heels.  Posing here by the bridge, now down by that bush, now laying in the fallen leaves and gazing up at the photographer, now down by the river, now gazing into each other’s eyes.

And I sat there in my picnic chair, the sun beating down on my back, and sulked.  As I watched all the activity, I despaired at the fakeness of it all.  Part of me was just soaking in the beautiful day and the leaves, but sadly, the other part of me was disgusted.  The posing, the cajoling….and the thing that bugged me the most was that everybody’s doing it.  As I have done so many times, in so many photoshoots.

We sat at the picnic table, with our humble picnic (first taste of chicken bologna for some) and watched as a group came right up beside us to bask in the leaves while the photographer snapped away.  They said that it would be quick, and that was fine.  It gave us something to watch while we ate.  It was fine, and surreal at the same time. 

I had my camera along, of course, but didn’t even feel like pulling it out of the bag.  Resisting “camera envy” was taking some little effort on my part.  I thought maybe my daughter would like to take some photos, after all, what a gorgeous day.  But the kids were busy playing with Henry.  It was so peaceful and relaxing.  I dozed off in a daze of autumn and cameras. 

Giving myself a shake, I got up and grabbed my not-so-very-shiny not-so-big camera and halfheartedly started snapping some photos of the kids, the leaves.  Almost forcing myself.  I started feeling a bit better when I lined up the oranges on the picnic bench: when in doubt, snap away at still life, that’s my motto.

My daughter came up with some ideas for photos which she took, like throwing leaves at the photographer. 

There was no energy in me to set up a “family photo” to freeze this picinic day in time, propping up the camera and posing myself with everyone…..but old habits die hard, so they say.  “Everyone come over here and sit by this tree”.  Snap snap.  “Lean back and get your face out of the sun”.  But this time I didn’t bother to get worked up over it or even to command everyone to smile.  I just snapped away, knowing that the photos of Henry with his kids in the fall by the “Children’s Bridge” would be worth the effort….someday it would.This looks real enough.This is posed:Deep down inside, I know that if the camera doesn’t come out, I will regret having missed the priceless moments, and that’s why I need to make the effort.  To not miss those priceless photos:

When I was at home that night, editing the photos (yes, they are all edited. Everything you see online, anywhere really, has been edited -and touched up-FYI)

I started to feel better: about my skills, my camera, about the reasons for taking photos at all.  Even about the posing and stuff.  Kinda.

Funny thing was, right then my friend messaged me to ask if I could take their family photo the next day.  I said yes without hesitation.  We met at a beautiful park, along with scads of other “family photo sessions”, I tried to ignore the fancy cameras and equipment around me.  I was just going to do what I could and not stress (about camera envy, the fading light, my lack of experience, or anything else).  My friends kinda posed themselves, recreating poses that they had done in their wedding photos 10 years ago! 🙂  I tried not to be bossy, and let Henry try and get the kids’ attention.  I just snapped away.  And later edited.  And when I saw the photo of Michelle and Will, I knew it was all worth it.  When I saw on my computer screen the kids making funny faces, surrounded by their parents’ love and desperation, I knew that it was worth it, and that’s why I’ll keep trying….trying to not give in and give up.  (worth the posing, the dressing up, the fuss, the running around, the fake smiles, the “cheeses” and funny faces…!)

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 I’m still not sure if I want to do a “fall family photoshoot”….I just can’t decide.  (But if I do, I know who I’m going to call!)  We will see.  I’m sure it would be worth all the fuss, though.  I think.