Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Surprise! It’s a mid-week post! At some point today I’m going to be baking up several loaves of this pumpkin chocolate chip bread, so I thought … why not share the recipe? If anyone out there is looking for a last minute, simple, delicious dessert for Thanksgiving (in addition to everyone’s favorite pumpkin pie), here’s your solution. Lord only knows when I’ll actually get around to baking today … I’m home with my adorable yet curious toddler, and I’ve got cleaning, packing, and errands on my agenda as well. So rather than making you wait for pictures of my baking experience, I’ll just leave you with the recipe and a picture of my dining room table from about this time last year, when I baked up a storm of things including 4 loaves of this deliciousness.

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PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD {makes (2) 9×5 loaves}

INGREDIENTS ~

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

 

 DIRECTIONS 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease (2) 9×5 loaf pans.
  • Mix together both flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg & salt in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs & water.
  • Stir pumpkin mixture into bowl of dry ingredients.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Divide batter between (2) loaf pans.
  • Bake about 60 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean).

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

Gather ‘Round

I like to think that I don’t fall for trends very easily. I like what I like, and if it happens to be in style at the time, so be it. But I really try to steer clear of the latest and trendiest thing, because you know that sooner or later (usually sooner) something bigger, better, and well, trendier, is going to make an appearance and you’re going to be stuck with a room full of non-trendy things. And even if you still secretly like those non-trendy things, your mind (thanks to advertising and social media) is going to tell you that your tastes have evolved and you need to hop on the trend boat and do some shopping. Am I right?

With that being said, I love the marquee look. SOOOO trendy, I know (although I think I hopped on this boat at the tail end of its trend journey). I’ve honestly always liked it. It’s vintage, which is right up my alley, and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for things that light up. What is not right up my alley, though, is the price of a true marquee sign. Even the non-vintage ones at your local home or craft stores are outrageous, or maybe I’m just cheap. Either way, I wasn’t about to spend a hundred plus dollars on one, no matter how badly I may have wanted it for above our bar as part of our den redesign.

So I did what I sometimes do best – I created my own. I wish I could take full credit for this project, but those Heidi Swapp Marquee Love Letters sure did make my latest DIY pretty easy. I first noticed these letters at Target – big surprise since I’m there at least once a week – I walked by them though (several times) because they weren’t the real thing, and it looked like a lot of work and I didn’t want to take another project on at the moment. A few months later though, these same Marquee Love Letters ended up in my online Michaels shopping cart and  then on my doorstep a few days after that. This came after I shopped ’til I dropped, almost literally, looking for one that didn’t break the bank. Did I mention that these letters were originally $12 at Target, but I scored them on clearance for $6.49 plus 20% off at Michaels? That’s $5.19 a letter, people. I could swing that.

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I decided on the word “gather”. I had to get the OK from my husband because for some reason he doesn’t like most decor with words on it, which I find so funny. I bought a sign that said “thankful” a few months back and ended up returning it because I could tell it bothered him a little (plus I really didn’t need it). He’s so laid-back when it comes to how I decorate the house, so I do try to respect the couple of things he doesn’t really like … so far it’s word decor and the color pink 🙂

My first step in this DIY was to make these letters look as old and metal-like as I possibly could … a little tricky since they’re made of a thick cardboard-like material, but I think the Rustoleum Aged Metallic Paint and Primer In One did a pretty good job. No special trick to this at all – just spray. I did a couple of coats on each letter.

The next step was to insert the little bulbs and the string of lights. One wouldn’t think instructions would be necessary for this, but they actually proved helpful since they showed you in what order to string the lights.

I thought I was done at this point, so on the wall they went. As much as I loved the look, I wanted a little more color. In case you can’t tell from the teal walls, I kinda like color 🙂

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Each of these Marquee Love Letters comes with an insert in the shape of the letter so that you can either decorate the insert itself, or use it as a stencil to trace the letter shape onto something else. I chose the latter. I had this amazing book of scrapbook paper that I snagged from the clearance shelf at Target a while back, and I had the bright idea of using a different pattern inside each letter. Surprise! I like pattern too.

I picked my 6 favorite patterns and used the letter inserts to draw the letter shapes onto each piece of scrapbook paper. I simply cut the letter shapes out and then used a hole-puncher to punch new holes for the light bulbs (the letter inserts have holes so you just line up the inserts with your newly cut-out letters and punch in the appropriate places).

I then placed the letter shapes inside each letter, after removing the lights and bulbs of course.

Putting the light bulbs back in was a little tricky, only because the holes I punched weren’t quite large enough. Just use a little force to push the bulbs into each hole and you should be just fine. Then insert the string of lights from behind.

And once again, above the bar they went. I was a bit more satisfied this time.

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The great thing about this project is that if I ever tire of the colors or patterns I chose for the inserts, I can always make new ones. I can even take the inserts out all together and go back to the simpler metallic look. I may or may not have already changed out 2 of the letters. You’re seeing the final product, but the “T” and the “H” didn’t always look like this. Indecisiveness sucks, y’all.

Happy Crafting!

Cast Iron Cobbler

How is it already Monday? I don’t feel quite prepared to take on the week, but it has begun so I guess I have no choice. So many things happened over the weekend and it just flew by too quickly. On Friday, my adorable sister-in-law, Jillian, and I had another “healthy” baking night, which happened to be very successful so be on the lookout for some of those recipes in the near future. On Saturday my husband and I had a very special outing at Staplehouse restaurant in Atlanta GA with some of our very best friends. Check out their website to find out what they’re all about (it’s pretty cool) – www.staplehouse.com. When my dad passed away in 2013, these special friends of ours purchased a brick with his name on it to be used during the construction of the Staplehouse patio. So not only did we get to enjoy a great dinner with great friends, but we got to see my dad’s brick, which was pretty amazing. And last but not least, we had my husband’s family over yesterday evening for an early Thanksgiving/double birthday celebration – talk about killing THREE birds with one stone, because we sure did.

My family travels for Thanksgiving so it’s become tradition for us to host an early Thanksgiving for my husband’s side. In addition, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both have birthdays right around Thanksgiving, so we just throw those in there as well and have a grand ole celebration. We had ourselves a feast this time, with smoked turkey, shrimp cocktail, grilled potatoes, green bean casserole, wild rice, pineapple casserole, rolls, and my favorite part of any meal … dessert. For this celebration I made your typical pumpkin pie and one of my favorites – my cast iron cobbler, which I’ll be sharing with you below.

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CAST IRON COBBLER (serves 8)

INGREDIENTS ~

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 1/2 cups berries (I recommend a combo of blueberries, raspberries & blackberries)

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 DIRECTIONS 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
  • Cut in butter in small pieces and lightly mix with hands until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, like so.

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  • Stir in boiling water until mixture is evenly moist. Now you’ve got your dough.

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  • In a separate bowl, dissolve corn starch in cold water.

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  • Mix in remaining 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, lemon juice and berries. I could have easily stopped here and taken a bite, but I refrained.

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  • Transfer berry mixture to a cast iron skillet and bring to a boil on the stove top (stirring frequently).

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  • Drop dough mixture by small drops into the skillet.

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  • Bake for 25 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

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Enjoy eating this for dessert, snack time, breakfast time, whatever … it’s that good! Possibly even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top 🙂

Branding 101

Well I promised you in my last post that I’d share the step-by-step details in My House of Love’s logo design process, so here goes. Speaking of step-by-step, does anyone remember that show? Suzanne Somers? Patrick Duffy? I’m pretty sure I used to love it. I’m pretty sure I used to love all those sitcoms actually. But I digress …

Lindsay’s first step in designing a brand typically is to ask some basic questions, such as who the target market is, how the brand should be perceived, how the brand stands out from its competitors, etc. She also asks if there are any specific elements that the client would like to see incorporated. Since her job for me was solely a logo design, she asked me to focus on what elements I wanted to see. Simple enough, right? Well one would think, but this is where both my indecisiveness and my desire for perfection started running rampant. It would have been really helpful if I had known exactly where My House of Love was headed at this time, but since I didn’t I kind of had to wing it and somehow envision some elements that seemed appropriate. Here’s what I told Lindsay ~

  • I wanted “my house of love” to be part of the logo. This might seem pretty standard but if you think about it a lot of well-known brands don’t have their name plastered on their logos. However, My House of Love is not what you’d consider a well-known brand, so I found this element pretty important. Maybe someday we’ll be known well enough to remove it 🙂
  • I wanted a pretty, spread-out, cursive-like font in all lowercase and I wanted to “o” in “love” to be a heart (so original, I know. It’s crazy just how creative I can be)
  • I wanted there to be some sort of house or part of a house, since “house” is part of the name
  • I wanted to incorporate a bird for no reason other than I really like birds

And that was it. She asked for a link to my WordPress blog, so I sent her that as well as links to My House of Love’s Facebook page and Instagram account. Lindsay worked her magic and somehow (quickly) put all these details together then said to me … “it looks like your brand should convey hand-done, whimsy, nature, earth tones.” Um yeah, pretty much spot on. I mean, it really was like magic. I guess that’s why she’s a graphic designer and I’m not.

Lindsay’s next step in the logo design process was the concepting / sketching phase. I didn’t see these sketches until recently, when she sent them to me so I could use them for this post. I find it really interesting to see what she came up with based on the somewhat vague information I gave her.

sketch

From these sketches, she came up with my first round of options. She presented me with five and told me to let her know my thoughts.

MHOL_Logo (1)

I played around with my 2 favorite ones (top left and center) and asked her to make some edits. I also mentioned the color scheme I wanted – blues, greens, purples & yellows.

Lindsay once again worked her magic and for Round Two she presented me with 11 options. I remember seeing her email as I was walking out the door for work and I couldn’t believe what she had come up with. I was pretty sure I was in love with all of them, which was not good for my indecisive perfection.

MHOL_Logo_R2 (1)

When I had more time to sit down and really look at them, I remember one sticking out at first glance but then I would get distracted by how awesome the other 10 were. I probably changed my mind at least 86 times. I got opinions from my husband and from a co-worker, and if I had more time I probably would have asked at least 7 other people. I wanted to get it finalized though because I actually had a use for the logo coming up soon. As it ends up, I FINALLY decided on my original favorite – who was it that said first instincts are always right? I don’t know, but they seem to have known exactly what they were talking about. I decided on (B) from Page 2, but of course I couldn’t just let it be – there were a couple more edits I wanted to see.

  • I was really digging the birds from the logos on Page 1, so I asked her to switch these out
  • I wanted to see how the “o” in “love” would look as a heart like the one in Option C and Option E
  • I wanted to see the coloring changed up a little

Lindsay made the edits and presented me with two final options for Round Three. These options were based solely on a difference in the hearts in the word “love”. It seems like such a trivial detail, but I’ve learned in life that sometimes even the tiniest of details can make the biggest impact. You perfectionists out there with me?

MHOL_Logo_R3 (1)

From here, the final decision was made and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

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Last but not least, Lindsay gave me several different file types to use – who knew there were so many?

EPS – for printing purposes, can be resized

PDF – standard for document exchange – can be viewed, printed and electronically transmitted

JPG – for digital purposes, white background

PNG – for digital purposes, transparent background

And that was it! My House of Love had a logo! Lindsay promised me that I wasn’t a pain in the you-know-what. I’m thinking I may have been 🙂

Be sure to check out Lindsay’s on-line portfolio to see just how talented she is ~

https://www.behance.net/lindsayboseman

And don’t forget to follow along with me elsewhere ~

https://www.facebook.com/myhouseoflovely/

https://instagram.com/myhouseof.love\

https://www.pinterest.com/lcetter/

Final words for the day … not sure if you’ve noticed, but my blog content has been deleted thanks to me trying to change up the layout and not knowing what I was doing. I’m hoping to have everything restored later this week. Fingers crossed!