It’s almost Fall! Time for Pumpkin Recipes!

It’s almost fall here on the Peninsula! Time for cozy sweaters, football, and, possibly my favorite part, PUMPKIN! What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?  Please share! There are so many out there, and it’s hard for me to choose a favorite, but this is definitely one of my favorites.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins

yield: 18 MUFFINS
prep time: 12 MINUTES
cook time: 18 MINUTES
total time: 30 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (pure pumpkin puree)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place paper baking cups into muffin pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture, until there are no lumps.Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
  5. Top each muffin with about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture and use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter. This will not look smooth, but it will bake up much prettier.
  6. Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Moving Tips & Tricks

Moving is stressful; possibly one of the most stressful things we do.  Anything to make it easier is a blessing.  Here is a list of tips and tricks I’ve found that make it a bit easier.

  • Get free boxes.  Scour online classifieds and Facebook groups, go to the grocery or liquor stores.  I have a client who recently was driving through a neighborhood and saw someone moving in and asked what they were doing with their boxes afterward–she went home with enough to pack her entire home! Don’t be shy!  Have the boxes ahead of time, so that when you begin packing, you are totally ready.
  • Use your luggage! Your clothing is heavy and putting it in boxes isn’t easy.  Don’t waste space hauling empty bags and luggage; use it for what it was made for.  More luggage than loose clothing? Use your rolling luggage for heavy items like books.
  • Speaking of clothes, don’t bother taking your hanging clothing off of the hangers! Take a few at a time, and cover them with a garbage bag. Poke the hangers through the top and your clothes are both protected and easy to pack.
  • Fill crockpots, pans, etc with your spices.  This uses otherwise empty space AND keeps your spices upright.
  • Brightly colored Duck Tape is an amazing tool when you’re moving.  Choose a different color for each room to close up your boxes.  This will be a huge help when you move into your new home, as you can just pack like colors into the rooms they are labeled for! But don’t forget–you still want to label the box with sharpie also!
  • Use clear tape for screws; it will both hold the screws well and it is easy to label with permanent marker.
  • Pack things like linens, towels, and blankets inside your washer and dryer.
  • Do your last grocery shopping two weeks before your move and have far less food waste.
  • Defrost your refrigerator and freezer 24 hours prior to moving.
  • Thread your necklaces through straws or roll your jewelry in towels to avoid tangles.
  • Don’t forget to purge!
  • Label cords and cables.

Do you have other tips? Please share!

Painting Your Cabinets

Sometimes just updating the color of your cabinets and changing out hardware is the best option for your kitchen or bathroom cabinets, but there are SO MANY options and it is hard to sort through which tutorial/color/paint/primer/etc will work the best for your project.  Never fear! I ran across this blog post that goes through it all for you, and links to the best tutorials on the web.  Check it out here.

If you decide to paint your cabinets, I’d love to see your before and after photos! Fresh, inexpensive updates like this improve value on your home, should you choose to sell, and they make it feel updated if you’re just looking for an update. Or, maybe you’ve been looking at homes and you’ve seen a great house with a terrible kitchen or bathroom and can’t afford a full remodel right after buying–this could be the solution!

Composting

I am always trying to find ways to reduce my “footprint” on the planet.  I drive a hybrid car, I don’t use K-Cups, I try extra hard to remember reusable bags at the grocery store.  It’s the little things, right?

So, I thought I’d do some research into composting; making less trash is a pretty big deal now days.

The Do’s and Don’ts  of Composting.

DO:
Alternate layers of nitrogen-rich greens & carbon-rich browns.
Greens:
• Vegetable peelings
• Rotten fruit & Fruit Peelings
• Leaves & Grass ( green & dry)
• Coffee grounds &  Tea leaves
• Manure from vegetarian pets: rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, sheep, horses,cows, llamas, etc.
Browns:
• Dry leaves, grass and plant stalks
• Shredded newsprint (non-toxic inks only)
• Shredded Brown Paper bags
• Unbleached paper towels, napkins, wet is okay, greasy no!
• Cardboard (small pieces)
• Corncobs
• Straw
You can also add:
• Rinsed, crushed eggshells
• Pet hair, to help discourage rodents
• Dryer lint
• Wood ash
Tips:
• Select a level, partially-shaded spot for your bin with good water drainage. Be sure it is at least 8 in – 12 in away from walls, fences, bushes, doors and windows.
• Cut kitchen scraps up into smaller pieces – faster decomposition.
• Whenever you add any food layer, top it off with brown material. Keep a pile of dry browns near the bin to sprinkle on top each time you add kitchen scraps.
• The beneficial microorganisms in your pile need oxygen. If too compacted (like in a landfill), they produce methane as they decompose, which is a greenhouse gas. Leave lots of air space in your bin and mix the contents every week or two with an aerator tool, or an old broom handle.
• Collect dry leaves and grass in a separate, dry container. Then you can use them year-round.
• Compost is generally ready to use after two or three months but aging the pile another one to two months before putting it on lawns or garden will improve it.

 DON’T:
AVOID ADDING THESE TO YOUR COMPOST:
    • Grease, oils or fats.
    • Bread or bread products
    • Rice
    • Pastas
    • Salad dressings or sauces
    • Dairy products
    • Nuts or nut butters
    • Fish
    • Meat
    • Bones
    • Dog or cat feces, kitty litter, human waste – Meat-eating animals, including humans,  carry diseases, and kitty litter may contain chemicals.
    • Ash from barbecues or coal Contains harmful chemicals.
   • Weeds with mature seeds. When you spread the compost, you’ll spread those weeds, to your garden.
    • Treated wood products May contain harmful chemicals.

Troubleshooting (Symptom-Diagnosis-Treatment):
Compost is attracting pests: dogs, rodents, raccoons.
Improper materials added.
Use a pest-resistant bin.  Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile and cover with soil.
Compost pile is wet and stinky, too much green material.
Add brown material. Turn pile. Insufficient covering.
Put scraps at the center of the pile.
Pile is dry too much brown material.
Not enough water.
Add fresh kitchen scraps. Moisten with water.  Cover pile to reduce evaporation.
Pile is cold.
Lack of nitrogen.
Add green materials such as grass clippings, kitchen scraps.
Compost is attracting flies.
Food scraps are exposed.
Cover green material with browns. Avoid adding grease, oils, meats, breads, etc (see checklist above). Cover food scraps with soil or brown material. Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile.

Far West Beer Fest

indexTwo weekends in a row of fun activities?! I’ll take it! Check out the Far West Beer Fest at 7 Cedars Casino Saturday afternoon.  Over 20 craft breweries (and cideries!) will be pouring, and there is lots of live entertainment and great food.  You can buy your tickets here or, if you’re on Vancouver Island, you can get a package deal through Black Ball Ferry here.  There are shuttles available from Port Angeles and Sequim so you can get home safely.  This is a great adults only event AND it benefits the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Education Foundation.  Get together with your friends and have a great time.

July Landscaping Checklist

Every month brings a unique set of challenges for landscapers. July is no exception, and protecting landscapes from intense heat, severe weather, and annoying pests is not an easy task. Here are some landscaping tips to keep in mind during July so that you can keep your yard thriving even during the most intense and unpredictable summer months:

July’s hot, humid weather means a spark in insect and disease populations. Be especially diligent this month in your pest prevention methods. Check plants and grass regularly for signs of infestation or disease, properly identify the pest responsible, and then research the best kill method for that particular insect. Pesticides are usually specific to certain species of insect, so, if you plan on spraying, make sure you’ve chosen the right pesticide by reading the label closely. Late evening is the best time to spray during the hot summer months.

Keep lawns mowed and watered regularly, but don’t overdo it. If you have an irrigation system, consider installing a rain sensor so that your system can recognize the amount of rainfall your yard is getting from passing thunderstorms or summer rain showers. The sensor will prevent the system from coming on when the grass has already been watered, thus preventing over-watering. If you don’t have an irrigation system, keep in mind how much water your garden is losing to evaporation and run-off and water approximately twice a day if it doesn’t rain. When mowing, always avoid over-mowing. Grass grows quickly in the summer, but never remove more than one third of the height of the grass. Cutting grass very short can stress its roots and lead to discoloration and dehydration.

Deadhead annual and perennial flowers so that they can bloom later in the season. The top buds of dahlias, phlox, garden mums and other flowers can be plucked to limit seed development and channel energy into the production of blooms. This will give you another rush of color and fragrance in late summer!

Beware of poison ivy! This poisonous plant loves popping up in the summer. You can identify poison ivy by its signature look: three pointed leaflets per leaf. If you see it, avoid touching it directly and pull it up using gloves or yard tools!

Fertilize and prune. Herb and vegetable plants like nitrogen-rich fertilizer applications about once a month in the summer. This will keep them healthy and strong. It is best not to fertilize on dry garden soil; instead, wait until after a rainstorm or irrigation to apply new fertilizer. After each application, water your plants deeply. Summer is also a great time to prune trees and shrubs. Be thorough, but don’t go crazy. You shouldn’t remove more than 15% of a tree’s leaves and branches if you want it to stay healthy. Focus on removing dead or dying growth primarily.

Harvest fruits and veggies! July is full of critters just itching to get their hands on your produce. Birds, rabbits, deer, and insects can all make quick work of your garden labors. Be sure to check on fruits and veggies daily and harvest as soon as they’re ripe enough to pick off the plant.

Prepare for the fall: fall vegetables like broccoli, carrots, turnips, radishes, and lettuce can be planted now to be enjoyed when fall rolls around. It’s always good to have something to look forward to