In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

{SavourTheSeason} Days 29, 30 & 31: Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie

This pie counts as three days of the 31 Days of Autumn.  Because it's that good, but also because I need a break. I am tired from baking and crafting and cooking and tending to sick babies and nesting like crazy because this little babe in my womb is due in only 5 weeks.  Where did the time go?

So please forgive me for cheating a little on my 31 days series.  And enjoy this Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie recipe!

Start with your favourite pie crust.  I've shared my real butter pie crust recipe before in this post.

In a food processor or blender,mix together:

  •  1/2 cup milk combined with 1/2 cup heavy cream

Pour filling into pie crust.

Put pie on a cookie sheet and use tinfoil to cover your pie edges so that they don't burn.

Bake at 400 degrees for the first 20 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook another 30 minutes or until the filling has puffed up and is no longer wet to the touch but still jiggly, if that makes sense.

While pie is baking, make the pecan topping. In a food processor, crumble together:
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Spread the pecan topping on the top of the pie and cook for 10 more minutes.

Remove pie from oven and cool completely, ideally overnight.  Don't get impatient on this.  All of my pumpkin pie failures have always been because I thought I could rush things and slice the pie while it is still warm.  Make your pumpkin pie a day ahead to let the flavour and texture develop as it cools completely!

[This is the final post in a series about celebrating autumn. Click here for more Autumn-y goodness!]
Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on Twitter!

{SavourTheSeason} Day 28: Delicious Autumn Fruit Salad

Growing up, fruit salad came from a can.  It was an unimpressive syrupy side dish reserved for school lunches and Chinese food buffets.  I continued to feel this way into adulthood,until a couple of years ago when a friend's mother made us a delicious fruit salad made with peak of the season fruits and vanilla yogurt. I had never heard of yogurt in fruit salad before and I couldn't help but try it,and love it!

My autumn version involves apples and pears, seedless grapes, mandarin orange segments and chopped pecans.  And just enough vanilla yogurt to coat everything.  It's a favourite in our house as a breakfast, a dessert, or even a simple lunch!.

[This is day 28 in a 31 day series about celebrating autumn. Click here for more Autumn-y goodness!]

{SavourTheSeason} Day 27: Odds and Ends Scarf

What better way to savour the fall than to curl up and crochet a cute little scarf for a friend?

Even if you don't know how to crochet yet, this is so easy.  I taught myself how to crochet using youtube videos a couple years ago and this  scarf only requires two simple stitches: a chain stitch and a double crochet.  Click the links for some youtube videos showing you how to make those stitches.

I started with a bunch of odds and ends of yarn.  I don't do enough crocheting to have scraps in all of these fun colours, so I put a call out among my facebook friends for their yarn scraps too!

Start by creating a chain the length you want your scarf to be. I like long scarves so I made a chain of 250 using a 5.00mm (8/H) hook.

Starting in the third chain in, do a double crochet in each hole.  At the end of each row, turn your work, chain 2 and start your next double crochet stitch in the 2nd stitch from the end of your previous row.  This will keep the ends of your scarf all nice and square.

By the way, it's often recommended to chain 3, not 2 at the end of each row when crocheting with the double crochet stitch.  I often do only 2 because it looks neater and tidier, but this will depend on the size of needle and yarn you are using, so experiment and see which works better for each project.

Keep going, tying in a new colour of yarn whenever another runs out, until your scarf is as wide as you'd like it or you've almost run out of odds and ends.

When finished, weave all your loose ends into your scarf so that they don't show.

Cut a bunch of 6 inch strips of yarn.

And use your crochet hook to thread them, three at a time,through the final stitch in each row.  Knot them there to make your fringe.

Roll up, tie with a bow, and you have a fun gift for good a friend!

[This is day 27 in a 31 day series about celebrating autumn. Click here for more Autumn-y goodness!]
Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on Twitter!

{SavourTheSeason} Day 26: A Simple and Perfect Fall Picnic

[This is day 26 in a 31 day series about celebrating autumn. Click here for more Autumn-y goodness!]
Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on Twitter!

{SavourTheSeason} Day 25: Thanksgiving Traditions and Ideas

We've already had Thanksgiving here in Canada, because we're all backwards and strange up here.  But for those of you who are still anticipating your thanksgiving feast I thought I'd round up some of my favourite Thanksgiving ideas from around blogland.

I love this idea for Thanksgiving Gratitude Rolls from Beauty and Bedlam, especially the part about having people write their notes anonymously and then having guests guess who wrote each one.

Every year we watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving as a family.  I was 25 before I saw it for the first time, but it somehow makes me feel like a kid again anyways!

This Blessings String makes me smile.  You could have your family help you brainstorm blessings to put on it and then weave it across the dinner table for your holiday feast. 

Or have guests write in a blessings journal.  I love this idea because it gives people time to really think about their answers of what they are thankful for instead of being expected to blurt something out around the table.  It would also be really fun to sift through in future years.

Last year I shared our own simple Thanksgiving Garland (pictured above).  My kids loved being in charge of making sure that each guest added their own expressions of gratitude to the paper chain.

I don't consider myself a particularly sentimental person, but this Thanksgiving tablecloth tradition gave me chills.

And finally, I love these wise words on thankfulness from Ann VoskampHer words always speak to my heart in a way that leaves me nodding my head and smiling and wiping away tears all at the same time.  "I lay my hand on the rain-filmed windowpane and I see clearer. But this is not easy: That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem..."  

[This is day 25 in a 31 day series about celebrating autumn. Click here for more Autumn-y goodness!]
Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on Twitter!

Two Ingredient Homemade Cough Syrup

This is day 24 in a 31 day series about Savouring Autumn.  We've been talking about fun crafts, and yummy recipes and  all the fabulous things this cozy season brings.  But it seems to be that sick and germ-y time of year already, half my friends are tending to grumpy, congested children and husbands.  And that certainly makes it hard to savour this season!

This has been our go-to cough syrup for years.  It contains only two ingredients:
  • Honey - a natural decongestant
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - it cures, um... pretty much everything.  Doesn't it?

Mix the two in equal proportions in a small container and stir with a spoon until well mixed.  

Fill a small teaspoon with it the mixture and serve it to your poor sick patients.

Put the rest in the fridge for later.  I just mix up very small amounts at a time so that it always gets used up in a day or so.

It doesn't taste all that bad, although the vinegar certainly makes you make an involuntary sour face.  My kids take the stuff without any complaint, but I may just have particularly agreeable children.  If your kids can't handle the vinegar-y taste, you could increase the honey ratio a little bit to suit them.

Remember not to feed honey to a baby under about 1 year of age. 

 [This is day 24 in a 31 day series all about autumn. Click here for more fall ideas!]

A Beginner's Guide to Bread Making

Bread making is one of those really quite simple domestic tasks that can be intimidating in it's newness. But fresh baked bread isn't hard to make (especially if you have a stand mixer to do the kneading for you), is super thrifty, and can transform a simple soup into a fabulous and comforting meal.

Note: This recipe makes 4 loaves of bread.  Back when I had less kids and a smaller stand mixer I would normally halve this recipe, making only 2 loaves. If you have the "classic" KitchenAid or another standard size mixer, the full recipe is a tight squeeze.

To start, measure 2 cups of milk into a bowl or large measuring cup.

Add 2 cups of boiling water, so that you now have 4 cups of a warm water/milk mixture.

Pour approximately half of the milk/water mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.  To the mixture left in the original bowl add:
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp salt

To the milk/water mixture in your stand mixer add:
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp quick-rise yeast (if you don't have quick-rise yeast, go ahead and use regular yeast and double the rising times)
  • a pinch of sugar (because yeast "eats" sugar, so this will help the yeast to do it's yeasty thing)
The yeast granules will grow and get puffy.

Once your yeast is puffy, pour the two mixtures together so that they are both in the standmixer bowl.  Kneading with the dough hook attachment, add approximately 9 cups of flour, one cup at a time until your dough comes together, pulls away from the side of the bowl, and is slightly tacky but not super sticky.

Q: Why are the flour measurements in bread recipes approximate? 
A: The amount of flour a bread recipe needs depends on things like humidity and temperature, so it won't be exactly the same every time. You have to touch and see the bread dough to know when it has enough flour.  (Which is part of the reason why bread machines are evil....that and because they are giant, bulky, cabinet space stealing uni-taskers...)

(P.S. I swear this post isn't sponsored by KitchenAid.  But I do love my kitchen aid mixer.  Dear KitchenAid, please sponsor me, I *love* you...)

Set the dough aside in the bowl you mixed it in. Put a towel over it and let it rise for about 1 hour.

If I'm not in a hurry I will let it rise a little bit longer, if dinner time is approaching and I'm in a rush I will let it rise a few minutes less.  While rising, it will double in size.

Dump your dough out on a floured surface and cut into four pieces.

Shape each piece into a loaf by stretching it into an approximate rectangle and then rolling it into a tight little log, pinching it closed.

Lay the loaves, pinched edge down, into greased loaf pans. Let rise for another hour.  Again,the hour is flexible depending on how much time you have.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool slightly before slicing.

When you first pull them out of the oven the crusts will feel hard, but don't worry, they will soften as they cool.

Serve with soft butter and good soup and enjoy your new level of domesticity. 

If you don't have a stand mixer:  Do everything the same, except when you add the flour to your liquids you will stir it together with a wooden spoon until it gets too thick to stir, and then you will knead in the rest of the flour with your hands, pushing the dough over on itself on a floured countertop until the dough is smooth and springy and not too sticky to handle. 
 [This is day 23 in a 31 day series celebrating all the cozy wonderful things about autumn. Click here for more fall ideas!]

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