Mom’s Apple Squares

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Growing up apples squares made by my mom were my fall favorite. I was not an apple fan back then, but if apples were part of any cake or pie I could eat them with pleasure. However, the apple cake or pie had to have a lot of cinnamon for me to enjoy it fully, so my mom used to add an extra “shot” of cinnamon to suit my taste.
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So if you are an apple and cinnamon fan then this is a recipe for you.
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It is easy to make, does not require a lot of ingredients and it only takes 20 minutes to make and about 50 minutes to bake.
The time spent to make and bake this recipe is totally worth it, as you will end up with a delicious desert that fills your home with a wonderful aroma.

It can be served as a warm desert topped with vanilla ice cream, or cold served with tea or coffee.

Ingredients

500 gram sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
250 gram butter or margarine, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Apple Filling:
6-7 skin on grated tart apples
4 tablespoons brown sugar 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Powdered sugar for serving.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 9×9 inch pan. with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, and set aside.
In a small bowl mix together grated apples, sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together melted butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add milk. Blend in the flour mixture until combined. Spread half of the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Spread the apple filling over the batter mixture. Spoon over the remaining batter mixture over the apple filling. I
Bake for 50 minutes in preheated oven. Cool in the pan, and cut into squares, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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Enjoy as much as I do.

Sharing with Common Ground; Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Thank you for reading.

Besa

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A Painted Wingback Chair

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Ever since entering the world of blogland I have seen quite a few painted wing chairs and sofas from bloggers out there, and many of them are quite fantastic.

While I was convinced that paint can fix and bring up to date almost everything, I was not sure whether the ordinary latex interior paint could fix and bring a cast-off chair into an up-to-date furnishing, so I wanted to undertake a challenge of painting an outdated wingback chair.

I found two (quite ugly) wingback chairs in the local adds for free, and had some leftovers of different colors of latex interior and exterior paint so I decided to paint one of the chairs.

I partially followed the instructions of Hyphen Interiors for painting a chair. I did not use the textile medium as I found this product to be quite expensive. Textile medium is a permanent bonding solution that when mixed with paint will become permanent to fabric, so when you wash the fabric the paint or the dye does not come off.

I used:
Less than 1 Quart of Latex Water Based Paint-White
1/2 Quart of Latex Water Based Paint-BM Sea Haze
Spray Bottle full of water
2 inch paint brush
sponge brush for edges
Sponge roller
Spray paint- white
Thumbtacks- about 200
Total cost of the project: $1.25 for a package(300 counts) of thumbtacks purchased at a Dollar Store.

I mixed 1 part of white latex paint and 1 part water for the first and second coat. For the third and fourth coat I mixed 1 part of paint and 1/4 water. During the first and second coat I lightly sprayed the fabric with water before applying the paint. The spraying helps the paint to evenly penetrate into the fabric. I used a sponge roller to apply the first and second coat and small sponge brush for painting the edges and the piping. The third and fourth coat was applied with the brush. I did not sand between the coats as suggested by many bloggers who undertook this challenge previously, and I was satisfied with the results I was getting.
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For the back and the sides of the chair I used undiluted paint and gave the chair two coats of paint-Benjamin Moore’s Sea Haze.I applied this color with a roller. Initially I started with Foothills – Sherwin Williams but I was not happy with the color choice so I switched to BM Sea Haze, and I am so glad I did.
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I allowed 24 hours between applying each coat.

I spray painted the legs with Rust-Oleum-heirloom white.
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After applying all these coats of paint, the fabric turns into a vinyl/leather like material, so if you like leather you will be okay with it. My husband tried the chair, and his comment was funny: “it feels like you are sitting on heavy starched linens”. It made me laugh to tears.
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Lastly , using a template as shown in the picture below, I nailed the thumbtacks about 1/2 inch apart around the piping on the wings and on the front bottom of the chair.
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After drying, the paint does not get on your clothes even without the use of the textile medium. Moreover the paint does not crack when you sit on the chair. I am not sure what will happen after a while, but for now it seems that this chair may have a long life ahead.
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Even though it may appear like a daunting and lengthy painting process, I did not find it as such. It was not tiresome either, considering that you only spend about 30-40 minutes of your time for each coat every 24 hours. It is a bit messy process though as it involves paint and a bulky chair in the middle of your garage (carport in my case),backyard or an indoor space, but other than that it is a fun project to undertake, especially if you are happy how your project is coming along.
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I am happy that my challenge paid of so the ugly wingback chair turned into a beautiful white swan.
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Unfortunately, due to the limited space in my home I cannot make a use of this chair, so I am thinking of donating it to one of the charities in the area I live. It would be a perfect furnishing for a girl’s room, nursery or as an accent chair in a bedroom, hallway or elsewhere. Depending on the accessories, this chair may add a romantic feel as well as dramatic look to any space.
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Do you have a chair in need of a face-lift? Well you may try painting it. It may turn as beautiful as my chair.
Before - Wingback
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Linking to: The Shaby Nest; 504 Main; Romantic Home; Classy Clutter; Dwellings; By Stephanie Lynn; Liz Marie Blog; A Blossoming Life; Coastal Charm; DIY Showoff; Crafty Allie; The Charm of Home; Serenity Now; Give Me The Goods Monday; Silver Pennies

Great thanks to these lovely blogsites for featuring this post: Blissfully Ever After, The Cottage Market; The Shabby Nest: Serenity Now; Dimples and Pig Tales; Carrie This Home; A Pretty Life in the Suburbs, Lovely Crafty Home; Power of Paint
Thank you for reading.

Besa

Pom Pom-Edged Blanket

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These past few days we are experiencing a nice rainless sunny wether, so I take every opportunity to spend the afternoons lounging on the sun at my backyard porch curled up with my favorite blanket.

I have had two checked lambswool blankets for over 20 years, and even though throughout these years I bought other different throws and blankets, none of them was good enough to replace my favorite oldies.

However, the age has taken its toll so these oldies are getting thinner and quite fringeless, so in order to make them more fun and to add to them a bit of texture, I replaced the remains of the fringe with huge pompoms. Pompoms are fun, and for me they evoke nice childhood memories, warmth, coziness…

I found a very suitable bulky loosely twisted yarn (BERNST Rowing -5) at craft store, in cream and black. I got one ball-100gram (120 yards) in each color.

To create pompoms I made 2 cardboard rings (3 inches in diameter) as shown below. I started wrapping the yearn around the ring about several times until I wrapped about 18 yards (for each pom).
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Once I have wrapped the yarn around the rings, I placed one scissor tip into the loops and started cutting the loops open.
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I slightly separated the cardboard rings and using another piece of yarn, at about 7 inch in length, I tied off the center tightly and securely. Once it’s knotted, I had a “ two-strand tail” so I could attach the pompom to the blanket.

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Once the yarn was tied, I slowly removed the rings from the cut yarn, and I had a beautiful pompom in less than 10 minutes.
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Since my blanket was quite worn at the edges, I had to create kind of a blanket stitch (using a crochet needle) before attaching the pompoms. I used the “two strand-tail” to fasten the pompom to the blanket.
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Now that I have revived my favorite blankets I am looking forward to sunny fall afternoons at my backyard porch, and cozy nights by the fireplace.
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I hope that that my dog is going to resist to these fluffy balls of fun. I had a hard time keeping him away from the yarn while I was working on pompoms.
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Do you have an old blanket or throw which you would like to keep it forever? I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. Linking to Silver Pennies Sundays Link Party; Nifty Thrifty Things Sunday, Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson; Common Ground; We Call It Junkin; The Shabby Nest; Embracing Change; Made In A Day
Great thanks to the following blogsites for featuring this post: Embracing Change; Have a Daily Cup of MRs. Olson; Made In A Day; Stephanie Lynn
Besa

Coffee Filter Wall Art

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Few weeks ago I was reorganizing my pantry, and I came across to a huge bunch of white basket coffee filters. I remembered that those, quite while ago, were mistakenly purchased by my husband who “forgot” that our coffee machine “accepts” only the cone ones. It appears that I have never returned them or threw them away. It looks like that these coffee filters were meant to be utilized by us, so I had to come up with the idea on how to use them somehow.

I have seen on Pintrest a lot of creative ideas with coffee filters, but I wanted to do something different, so my take on coffee filters is this:
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In my shed I found a piece of round shaped Plexiglas, so I only had to figure out how am I going to shape and attach coffee filters onto a Plexiglas. I came with the idea of sewing them on to a ribbon about half inch apart as I thought I could shape them easily the way I want.

I started by folding a coffee filter in the middle, ruffled it, and attached the tip of the filter on to a ribbon. I continued with the rest of the filters leaving about 1/2 inch in between.
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I created the pattern from the kitchen paper towel and stitched the ruffled coffee filters onto it as shown below.
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Previously, I have drilled the holes in to a Plexiglas to create the hanging hook.
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I looped a ribbon into the holes and created a hanging hook.
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I painted the edge of the Plexiglas with acrylic “Artist’s Loft” paint in Antique Gold from Michael’s.
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I glued the ruffled coffee filters onto the Plexiglas and superglued on the framed portrait scissor art from our (long time ago) trip to Disneyland.
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It was really a surprise to see that coffee filters could make such a pleasant wall decor.
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Did you make something out of coffee filters, and how did your project turn out? I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading.

Linking up to Liz Marie Blog; Elisabeth & Co; Classy Clutter; Be Different Act Normal; Life on Lakeshore Drive; Sew Many Ways; Dwellings
Great thanks to the following blog for featuring this project: The Cottage Market
Besa

Pumpkin Decor Idea

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Lately, the traditional jack-o’-lantern is being replaced by more glamorous pumpkin decorating, so I easily and happily embraced this trend.

Few days ago I picked up another big jack-o lantern pumpkin at my nearby grocery store, and this time instead of chopping it up and making it ready for my cakes, pies and soups, I decided to give it a glam makeover.

I wanted to incorporate thumbtacks in my pumpkin decor. I already had a few which were a left over from another project. I also had white and gray spray paint cans, and I thought this color scheme would be a perfect match for the high gloss nickel thumbtacks.

The pumpkin I picked was flat in one side, so this imperfection gave me an inspiration for my design. The whole design idea of my painted jack-o-lantern evolves over the flat side of this pumpkin.

After taping off the stem I spray painted gray the flat side, and continued with a 4 inch line all around the center of the pumpkin.
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In order to proceed with the white color I made a pattern, as shown below, from the kitchen towel paper to cover the gray which I originally wanted to be shown on the design.
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Something went wrong, and while removing the paper towel the gray paint peeled off in some spots, so I had to cover this with what I had at hand. IMG_6837

As you can see it was a black glossy paint, another left over can of paint from my porch railing project.
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Luckily, it turned better than I expected, even though I was not as precise as I should have been while covering the gray. However, the thumbtacks take away the attention from the sloppy job done with the black, so all in all it turned out nice.6

After placing the thumbtacks, I used white french manicure nail polish to “engrave” our monogram “M”, and the glamorous pumpkin was ready to take the stage.
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I placed it in an ice bucket, and surrounded it with a hand made wreath of fresh cut snowberries. I like these juicy white pearl like berries, and I wanted to incorporate those in this year’s fall and holiday decor.

Who would think that a pumpkin can add a touch of glam to a place or setting. Well this is a prove that it can, so do you feel like swapping pumpkin orange for another color this fall?
If so then try this glamorous pumpkin makeover.
Thank you for reading.

Embracing Change

The-Casual-Craftlete


Sharing with Our Delightful Home; Common Ground; The Charm of Home; The Trhiftiness Miss ; Have a Daily Cup of Mrs Olson ; French Country Cottage ; The Romantic Home; Under the Table and Dreaming; A Dedicated House; Home Stories, Serendipity Spice; DIY Show Off

Besa

Magnolia Leaf Arrangement For My Fall Mantel Decor

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I find magnolia leaves breathtaking. They are shiny green on one side, and velvety, cinnamon brown on the reverse. Even the fallen and dried ones have that distinct rich shine and beautiful, beautiful fall colors.

I do not have such a tree in my front or back yard, but luckily there is one in my neighbor’s front yard , so I can enjoy this beautiful tree all year around, and even sometimes pick up its fallen leaves for my floral arrangement.

We have experienced quite a stormy whether during past week, so as a result my front yard was full of fallen magnolia leaves. This made me very happy as I was planning to change my mantel decor to welcome the fall, and magnolia leaves were a perfect fit for fall decor.

Few days ago I bought two metal decoration balls, and after collecting all the fallen magnolia leaves in my front yard I started thinking on how I could arrange these leaves into these balls.


I started by making the bundles of five to six leaves each, starting with brown/yellow leaves and finishing with one green on top. After bundling them up I tied them together with elastic band and started arranging the bundles into the ball.

At this point I decided to use the wire as I figured that elastic is not working anymore. I started wiring on bundles of leaves at the top of the ball, and continued all the way down. I tied them tight and kept them as close as possible, so I could create a full look.

After achieving the desired look I placed the arrangement into a white bowl to create the stability, and showcased it on the mantel.

I have replaced the mirror used for my summer mantel decor with the wall art purchased few years back at Bombay & Co. After moving to our new place, this framed art (stored in my closet for months) was patiently waiting to get hanged and displayed in a decent place, so I am glad that now these pieces of art got the focal point.6

The colors in the hand painted glass complement the magnolia leaf arrangement, and the white surround within the frame complements the white fireplace trim, so there is a right balance and nice transition from dark to bright colors. The candle holder in gold goes nicely with the touches of gold in the glass painting. Touches of gold in home decor accessories have been quite trendy in 2013; “ hence, some touch of gold in my mantel decor”.

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I think that my fall mantel looks pretty and elegant. What do you think? I would love to hear from you about how you have incorporated magnolia leaves into your home decor.

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Thank you for reading.
Linking to: A Stroll Thru Life ; Common Ground; The Charm of Home; Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Besa

Pumpkin Cake With Homemade Caramel Sauce

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Fall has arrived and has brought us the yummy pumpkins along. For me, nothing defines this season more then pumpkin and the spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and allspice. I love to incorporate any of these spices in recipes that do not call for pumpkin, but but when these spices are combined with the lovely pumpkin, it just tastes heaaavenly good.

The other day I bought a huge pumpkin and as soon as I got home I chopped it into big chunks, discarded the seeds, cleaned it thoroughly, and baked it in the oven with its skin on. After two hours in a 400 F the pumpkin was as soft as butter so i could easily spoon out the flesh from its skin. I ended up with a huge batch of pumpkin pure, and I thought there is going to be a lot of soup, pies, and cakes for the weeks to come.
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I started with my favorite Pumpkin Cake and topped it with Homemade Caramel Sauce. I was glad to find the recipe for this decadent homemade caramel sauce created by Jamie from My Baking Addiction Blog. Previously, I have used other caramel sauce recipes, and honestly, they can not compare with this one.
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So here is the recipe for this supper yummy cake, which can be enjoyed by anyone during this lovely season.
CAKE

• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 4 eggs
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon allspice
• 1 cup pureed pumpkin ( or canned)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3 Tablespoons sour cream
• 1/2 cup walnuts

Cream butter. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar, beating well at medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add pumpkin and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add to creamed mixture, mixing just until blended. Gently fold in vanilla, sour cream and nuts.
Pour the mixture into a pan layered with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely for about one hour.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

As I mentioned above this caramel sauce was developed by Jamie from the My Baking Addiction Blog .

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon corn syrup 1/4 liquid cup water 1/2 liquid cup heavy cream, heated until warm 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

1. In a heavy saucepan (at least 5 cup capacity), stir together the sugar, syrup, and water until the sugar is completely moistened. Place your candy thermometer into the pot taking care that it is tip in immersed into the sugar mixture.
2. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring completely and allow it to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber (like the color of Bass Ale) (see notes below). Immediately remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously.
3. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until smooth, scraping up the thicker part that settles on the bottom. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. Stir in the butter and salt. The mixture will be streaky but will become uniform after cooling slightly and stirring.
Allow the sauce to cool for 3 minutes. Gently stir in the vanilla extract.
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Let it cool at room temperature and spoon sauce over cooled cake. If you make a double batch of caramel sauce, you may additionally spoon it over each slice of cake. I know it will become a calorie bomb, but for the sake of the full enjoyment of this cake you should have an extra sauce over, at least, every second slice you have. PUMPKIN 5

What is your fall favorite cake or desert? If you happen to try this recipe please let me know how your cake turned out.pumpkin cake

Thank You for reading.

Besa