Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple Chips

As I mentioned here, I needed to use up the apples from our Back To School event. And I did not use them all in the apple pie, so I had to make one more thing with the three apples I had left! Being someone who loves to snack, I decided to make apple chips, and now that I know how easy they are, I may be doing this with more fruits and veggies in the future!

Apples, thinly sliced
Lemon Juice
Toppings ( I used cinnamon and maple sugar)

Set oven to 200 degrees, and grease a large baking sheet. Next, slice your apples thinly. Don't worry if parts of your apple have gone bad... some of my favorite chips were 1/2 slices. If you are making this recipe for kids, I would recommend slicing them into bite sized pieces.

Next, put all your slices in a bowl, and gently toss with about 1 Tbsp of Lemon juice. I did not measure, just poured in enough to cover them. This helps them not turn brown while you are doing the next steps.

In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup with sugar and water. I think I used 1 cup white sugar and 2 cups of water. I would half that if doing it again. I had a lot leftover. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar as you go.

Next, dip each apple slice into the simple syrup and place on the baking sheet. The simple syrup gives the apples a bit of moisture without too much sugar. I think you could really opt out of this step if you are trying to limit your sugar intake. 

Here comes the fun part! Add whatever toppings you want to the apples. I chose Maple sugar from Savory Spice Shop and cinnamon (I usually use the cinnamon fro Savory too, but I ran out so I had to borrow this from a neighbor!). Other combinations could be ginger, brown sugar, nutmeg, coco powder, etc. Whatever your heart desires! Just sprinkle them on!

Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour, and then open the oven slightly and bake for another hour to hour and a half. This allows the moisture to escape and the apples to dry out. Take a spatula and loosen them from the pan and eat! Delicious!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Muriel's Apple Pie

I am not a pie maker, although I did make my grandmother Muriel's pecan pies last year that were amazing!!! My brother loves her apple pie, and since I had all these apples left over, I decided to make him one as a special treat.

6-7 Apples (I used 6 and probably should have used 7)
1 cup Sugar
Pre-made Pie Crusts (2)
2 Tbsp Butter

First, peel your apples and cut into slices. 

Next, in a bowl, add 1/2 cup of sugar, a couple Tbsp of Cinnamon, and stir. Once you get the mixture stirred, add another 1/2 cup of sugar and mix well.

Next, open up your pre-made pie crusts and put into a greased pie plate.

Preheat your oven for 400 degrees. The pie will take 50 minutes.

Pour the apples into the pie crust.

And on top, take 2 Tbsp of butter and cut it into thin slices, and place on top before adding the top pie crust.

I decided to try a fancy, old fashioned way to place the top crust on. I rolled out the pie crust and cut it into strips, and then wove the strips on top. I think next time I will just place the whole crust on top, cutting in a few holes for ventilation.

Make sure to pinch the edges to stick the crusts together, and make it look pretty!

My grandmother does not cover the pie with foil, but I did cover just the edges with foil, as my crust was starting to get really brown. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, check the pie and remove the foil, and let bake for an additional 5 minutes to really brown the crust. Take out of the oven and let it cool down enough to where it has set and is warm but not hot. Serve with vanilla ice cream for the ultimate indulgence!

So simple and easy - I guess that's why they say "It's as easy as pie!" My grandmother would love for me to tell you that this is also how you make cherry pie. Just substitute 1 can of cherries for the apples. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vintage Finds 9.28.2011

This past weekend, on our usual garage sale outing, I came across this beverage jar at a church sale. Since I broke the lid to the one I have (and now it looks a little ghetto), I have been looking for a new one. I originally liked this one with the stand, but I couldn't stomach the price. Well, when I saw this one, I thought it was expensive (anything over $5 at a garage sale is expensive to me) and it is really large. Where would I put it? Luckily, I came to my senses after a few minutes, after remembering how much the other one was, and thought $10 was actually a deal. Plus, when I went back to look at it, I really noticed how beautiful it is with its thick green glass, that it has little handles on the side, and was made in Italy (or so it says on the bottom). And it had a lid. The only gamble was that I didn't know if the spigot worked, and had to test when I got home - which it does!!!

And here is what I love most about it- on the back side, it has levels for how many gallons it holds, and would you believe this beauty hold 5 gallons!!! That is a LOT of punch, and I am looking forward to breaking it out at our next party!

Have you found any good vintage finds lately?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October

As October approaches, Breast Cancer Awareness has become a new mission for me. Having someone close to me be affected by the disease has really put things in perspective, and shows you that early detection and awareness can really change the outcome. 

One in eight women will have breast cancer. That is a HUGE, shocking statistic. And recently, high profile women like NBC's Andrea Mitchell and comedienne Wanda Sykes have admitted that they have been treated for breast cancer. Unfortunately, this disease is different in every woman, and there is no definitive cause or cure. So with that, I ask of you two things:

Schedule a Mammogram: It is so important to get your first mammogram at a young age, so that you can have a baseline for every mammogram in the future. Make October the month you schedule yours.

Raise Awareness: Educate yourself on breast cancer, what to look for, what to ask your doctor. Pass the word to your mother, aunts, sisters, girlfriends, and make them do the same. And, donate to breast cancer research so that they find cures and we do not become part of the statistics. Here are some great sites to go to and pass along:
Pink Ribbon
Susan G. Komen For the Cure
Mayo Clinic - Breast Cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center - Breast Center

Also, I am walking in the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure 5K this Saturday in honor of those close to me who have had to battle this terrible disease. If you would like to show your support, please click here to donate.

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Day of Fall

Since today is the first day of fall, I thought this would be the perfect time to share this recipe for Apple Honey bread. I had about a dozen apples leftover from our Back To School event, so I needed to make something with them quick! My friend and event chair for the event sent me an amazing recipe that she used for the apples she took home. Here is the adapted recipe from

1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
3 apples, peeled and shredded
3/4 cup pecans (the original recipe called for walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. The original recipe calls for a bundt pan, but I don't own a bundt pan, so I used a loaf pan and a mini muffin tin. Make sure your pans are greased, but I own these, so no greasing necessary!

Before mixing all the ingredients, you want to prep the apples. First, peel the apples:

Since I was working late at night (sorry for the dark photos!), I decided to use a knife to peel the apples quickly, but a good peeler will also work. I did not core the apples, because it actually made the next step easier- shredding the apples:

Holding onto the apple at the core by the top and bottom, run the apple along a cheese grater. I actually used the larger hole side, turning the apple as I grated, so that the whole apple is grated in about a minute. Repeat with the other 2 apples. As you can see from the shredding, the apples start to turn brown quickly, so you know they are ripe and ready to bake!

In a large bowl or mixer, combine the sugar and oil. Beat in the eggs, and then vanilla and honey. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a separate bowl, and stir mixture into the batter. Once all the ingredients are mixed, with a spoon, stir in the apples and pecans as to not crush them.  Fill the loaf pan first, it should be about 1/3 of the total mixture. The fill the mini muffin tin. You should be able to get about 30 mini muffins and one bread loaf from the entire mixture. 

When using the mini muffin pan, I found that about 15-20 minutes is the perfect baking time. For the loaf pan, I found that 45-50 minutes was the perfect baking time. To check, place a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, the bread is done!

This recipe is so delicious that the bread is already gone - we took it to a family dinner and served it with vanilla ice cream. The mini muffins are perfect for breakfast, and those will be finished up this weekend!I think next time, I will put a cream cheese frosting on the bread and maybe drizzle with a little caramel or honey. Definitely a quick and easy recipe to welcome fall!

Check back next week for my Grandmother's apple pie recipe, in which I hope to use up the remaining apples! 

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Obsession - Less is More

About a month ago, I was at a garage sale and came across a vintage lamp for $0.50. If you ask my husband, I am like a moth to a flame when it comes to lamps. We currently have 6 lamps in 3 rooms, but I actually had 5 more in the house before the home and condo renovations. So I purchased this vintage arm lamp for two whole quarters, and brought it home to live in our sun room.

It is the perfect reading lamp, but I felt like it needed a shade. After several failed trips to local hardware and lighting stores to find a shade that looks vintage and fits, I had just about given up on making it look less tacky with just a bulb. Enter the 700+ page of Restoration Hardware's newest catalog. I sat down for a whole hour scouring the pages, when what comes along? This:

These bulbs are so beautiful, and I thought, why not buy a vintage style bulb for a vintage lamp, and leave it exposed?! I had to wait a whole two weeks with this idea until I could get to our local Restoration Hardware with my husband. I made the sales associate pull out all the bulbs she had from the back so that we could plug them all into a lamp and check them out. I think my husband was a little skeptical at first, but once we saw them in person, he was on board! They really are amazing and beautiful, and one of our favorites was the Radio bulb (fourth from left above). The color of the glass is almost amber, and the filament is so cool when it is on. However, it only comes in a 30 watt bulb, and it just wasn't enough light to make ours a reading lamp.

We ended up deciding on the 40 watt Edison 1910 squirrel cage bulb, and since they are having a lighting sale, we got it for $13. Of course, that seems like a lot for one light bulb, but I have to say that it definitely adds the bit of drama to the light without making it look fussy or too modern. And considering the pieces I had previously found to retrofit a shade on the lamp, it would have cost me twice that much. I still think that a lamp for a total of $13.50 is a great deal!

When it comes to vintage pieces, sometimes less is more.

PS- This weekend, once my camera battery is charged, I will take a photo of the lamp and the new light bulb, just to prove how they were meant to be together. Update, here are some photos:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Going Back To School...

This past Saturday was the St. Petersburg Museum of History's Back To School event. We invited history teachers from around the county to show them the great exhibits, archives, and initiatives that can be used for and in their classrooms.

I had a ton of fun working on this event, and coming up with some cute school-themed tablescapes and details. Lets have a look:

Here is the Flight Gallery, in which we have a model of Tony Jannus's plane the Benoist, is where we hosted the event. Forgive the standard chairs, we were going for a casual look! 

For the tablescapes, we used the caterer's black linens as the base, and I purchased the brown paper in a giant roll at Lowes for $10. I made bowls out of black yarn and glue.  We filled them with real red apples, tied on some red gingham ribbons, and then used the red chiffon squares from my wedding underneath. My event chair added her own creative touch with the foam alphabet letters she bought at Michaels. The chalkboards I purchased at Joanns for $1.50 each and we reused some small vases I had at home (originally from the dollar store) to hold the crayons that guests could use to draw on the tables.

Here is a closer look at the apples and baskets I made:

And just to get guests thinking and drawing, we added a few little drawings of our own to the tables. I love how the white crayon looks on the brown paper!

The Museum is always in need of research materials for the Archivists, as well as volunteers. I used some more of the chalkboards to let guests know how they can help!

We created pledge cards, on which guests could pledge an item or a dollar figure towards an item. I found a photo of a yellow index card online, and used it for the background of my pledge cards. I popped it into a quarter page postcard layout on Microsoft Publisher, and used the Typewriterhand font to create the cards. I think they turned out so cute!

The guests can then drop them into boxes that we had at a few locations around the museum. I took a USPS box and covered it with red gingham fabric from Joanns. I then glued a school themed name plaque to the front of each one to let people know they can use them for donations and pledge cards.

We presented our Museum In A Box project, which allows teachers in 4th and 5th grades to borrow a box of artifacts, interactive media, lesson plans, and more from the museum to teach in their classrooms. The areas of history are Native Americas, Transportation, and Sports & Recreation.

Our Native American Museum in a Box was presented by the very lively expert Hermann Trappman. Our guests raved about him!

Our Transportation Museum in a Box was presented by Jeff Danner, a local transportation expert and City Council Member.

And our last Museum In A Box was presented by Dennis Schrader, who has an obsession for baseball history, and owns the largest collection of signed baseballs on the planet. Luckily for us, an article in the newspaper about him came out that morning, and he brought the case of signed balls featured in the article!

The evening was not complete without the delicious food from Delectables,
and our guests seemed to like eating on styrofoam lunch trays we provided to go with our school theme.

And last but not least, the AMAZING performance from the Nate Najar Trio.

Overall, I think it turned out to be a great event! Stay tuned to see what I do with all the apples we used at the tables.... apple recipes coming up!