Author Archive: Sharon

Halloween Style

At Spring Rose Cottage we love Fall colors and decorating, especially when it comes to Halloween. This is the first year we have done any decorations on the house since we moved back in. Because of work commitments this year, the decorating fell to the kids.

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First they strung color lights on the porch posts. The left side post is covered in purple lights and the right side is covered in Candy Corn painted lights.

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Then they placed the pumpkins that they had carved on the porch. The two pumpkins closest to the posts were connected into the post lights, so there is no need for a bunch of cords draped across the porch.

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This Witch pumpkin wasn’t cut all the way through, but the design was scraped and carved to show when lit by a big bundle of string lights that is placed inside.

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This Cat pumpkin is a great example of a design that is cut all the way through the pumpkin rind. It is lit by candle placed inside the pumpkin.

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This Spider pumpkin is scraped (not cut out) and the spider has multiple red eyes.

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This Bat pumpkin is cut through and is candle lit.  The lid started to burn, so they removed the lid to allow the heat to escape. The kids enjoyed making the pumpkin designs, decorating, and giving out candy to Trick-or-Treaters. They are already planning what to do for next year.

 

 

Witchy Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkin carving is a big thing at our house. We have a plastic bin of pumpkin carving tools, patterns, scrapers, information about carving techniques and mallets for putting in light spikes.

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The first step is to buy your pumpkin.

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Next pick out a pattern or template for tracing onto the pumpkin. Using a copier, adjust the size of the template by enlarging or reducing to better fit the size of your pumpkin.

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Tape the template to your pumpkin and use a puncture tool to mark the lines to make a guide for cutting or scraping the design.

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When the outlining is finished, take off the template and use the scraping or cutting tool to achieve the design. Some designs require cutting out chunks of the pumpkin and some designs are more subtle and only require scraping the outer dark part of the rind down ¼ to ½ an inch from the surface.

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Test out the look of the pumpkin by placing a light inside to see if you get the desired look. We tend to use battery powered lights to reduce fire hazard–especially if you have pets or small children in the home.

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Same Witch, but with a Green Eye…I think it is better.

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Have a Happy Halloween!!

 

 

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

When you are carving a pumpkin for Halloween or Fall Festival, you have to scoop the seeds out anyway, so you may as well collect them up and roast them.

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You don’t have to wash the seeds, but you can if you want. If you wash them, don’t dry them off too much so the salt and spices will stick to them. If you don’t wash them, you can put 2 teaspoons of oil in a small bowl and coat the pumpkin seeds lightly in oil.

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Pre-heat the oven for 300 degrees.

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While the oven is heating up, take the pumpkin seeds and arrange them on an oiled sheet pan in a single layer. You can add salt and any kind of spice flavor that you want. We used curry powder and cayenne pepper. Cook for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

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The Pumpkin Carving Book

By Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell; Photography by Debbie Patterson; Text by Tessa Evelegh

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This is a great little book. It has tips on carving all kinds of squashes, gourds, melons, and pumpkins. Many of the pictures are folk art patterns or whimsical. The book explains the basics about each type of squash and ways to carve them. Also very helpful is the list of tools and how to use them.

 

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This is a pumpkin that we carved this Halloween season, using the techniques described in the book.

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The Magic Closet

From the outside, it just looks like any other normal door. But, turns out it is a “Magic Closet”—an elevator!

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Safety First!! There are several features that prevent the elevator from moving unless the metal grate is closed and the outer door is closed.

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The popular trend in home design is to move laundry facilities to the bedroom levels of a home because of having to carry laundry up and down stairs. The elevator made it possible to keep the laundry in the basement and use the prime spaces upstairs for other things (extra bathroom). We use laundry carts to move laundry to the basement. No heavy lifting or carry up and down stairs and no laundry noise up on the bedroom level

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The elevator runs the full four levels of the home–including a heated and air-conditioned area of the attic that I store my decorations for holidays, items for tablescaping and some of my china.

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Wayne has a utility cart that he uses to carry tools which makes them easily moved from floor to floor wherever they are needed.

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I use a utility cart to bring decorations to and from the attic, move picture hanging stuff from floor to floor, and bring groceries upstairs.

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This is our forever home. So when we were laying out the floor plan, we really tried to think of ways to make the house accessible. We widened hallways, made sure a wheel chair could get through doorways, and  even made a wheel chair accessible shower. Our goal is to be able to stay in this home forever and the elevator helps us to achieve that goal.

Kitchen-The Heart of the Home

At Spring Rose Cottage, we love to cook. The kitchen is a gathering place to feed the family, hang out with each other, entertain friends and be creative.

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When we designed the kitchen at Spring Rose Cottage, we had several main concerns:

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Would there be enough room to have a crowd of people in the Kitchen. We wanted to make sure there was space to move around easily.

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There needed to be enough work surface space for several people to work at one time.

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There needed to be a variety of storage cupboards.

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We designed the room to have lots of windows facing south and it is so lovely almost the whole day long. It is always a pleasure to be in this room, regardless of the task or time of day.

 

Apple Cake

Autumn is the perfect time to make apple dishes. I have Ida Red Apples in the house, so I substituted them in this recipe that calls for Fuji or Gala apples.

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Ingredients
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup oil
6 medium Gala or Fuji or Honey Crisp Apples
2 Cups Flour
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and oil. Peel and slice the apples and add to mixture in bowl (coating as you add apples to keep them from turning brown.) Mix together the baking soda and flour and add to the ingredients in the bowl.

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Mix well (best with a fork) until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients. Pour mixture into a greased one 9×12 or two 9 inch round pans.

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Bake for approximately 55 minutes.

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Possible Presentation Ideas
Place a scoop of vanilla ice Cream next to a slice of cake and then drizzle with caramel syrup

Tri-Color Stuffed Bell Peppers

I have never been a carb lover, so reducing carbs while cooking, feels very natural. I eat rice, pastas, noodles, and potatoes in very small amounts. I do love most vegetables and really love cauliflower as a substitution for rice. Sometimes when I make this dish, I use half rice and half cauliflower. I feel very comfortable changing it up each time.

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 serves 6:  6 large Sweet Bell Peppers, 2 each color yellow, orange, & red, washed and dried

Stuffing:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup chopped orange/red mini sweet peppers
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup cauliflower, finely chopped or riced
or
1 cup cooked white or brown rice (omit if using cauliflower)
Garlic Powder to taste
1 tablespoon dried Tuscan Italian seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper

12 oz of Marinara Sauce for topping

Cut the tops off of the 6 large Bell Peppers. clean out the seeds. Set peppers aside.

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Dice the onion, mini sweet peppers, and celery and set aside.  Using a deep skillet or pot, brown your ground beef then add the chopped onion and peppers, and cook for a few minutes.

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Add the cooked rice and/or riced Cauliflower, marinara sauce, rub the Tuscan Italian seasoning into the mixture, season with salt and pepper.

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Drain if necessary. Mix well. Stuff peppers with this mixture.

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Place peppers in a Crock Pot/slow cooker or deep baking dish.

Top each with a couple tablespoons of ketchup or marinara sauce.

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Slow Cooker Method: Cover slow cooker and cook peppers on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 3. Peppers are done when they’re very soft and tender and the meat mixture is very hot all the way through. Serve.

Oven Method: 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Just a Bit of Serendipity

At the end of a long day at a professional conference in downtown DC, I expected to either go to a restaurant close by for dinner or do room service. Then a co-worker says, “I have to run an errand, do you want to come along and we can get dinner on the way back”.  So we did!

We ended up at the National Harbor at Rosa Mexicana—really excellent food and killer views of the waterfront. I loved watching the water taxi going between the National Harbor and Old Town Alexandria.

As were seated at a table along the window facing the water, I knew I had to take a photograph.

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Then as we ate, the sun slowly slipped out of view and the lights were all around the waterfront, I took another photograph. For a quiet Sunday evening, the area still seemed very vibrant.

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Before we leave, I take a final close-up picture of The Capital Wheel.

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Good Friends, Good Food. Good Views. Life is Good!!

The Blue and White Tower Room

It’s that quirky, not quite octagon shaped room off of the master bedroom. It isn’t painted blue, but it is known as the Blue and White Room, for one obvious reason.

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I love to collect china and there is nothing more lovely than Blue and White China! This room is my space. No one else in the house ever uses it. This space has all of the things I love–china, porcelain dolls, lace curtains, books, pillows…even blue and white china depicting scenes of England!

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The tower space also has a painting of me that has a blue background that looks really nice with the china on the walls.  The oil on canvas painting is by Theo and every time I see it, it makes me smile. Not because I think I look wonderful (I have never looked good in photographs)…it is because he puts so much heart into all of his art.

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There is a small upholstered bench, where you can curl up with a throw and read a book or magazine, relax, do some writing, or meditate. The little side table next to the bench is actually an antique sewing table that holds all of my sewing thread, needles, and other miscellaneous sewing items. I sometimes embroider in this spot because the lighting is so good.

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The actual function of this little space is that of a dressing room it holds my antique hand-carved walnut vanity. The light in this space is brilliant because of the really tall windows, it is a wonderful space to style hair or put on makeup.

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I love to use china in ways that are unusual.  Here is a pierced bowl. It is shallow, so it makes a nice tray for the vanity and it is fun because it is unexpected.

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For such a tiny room, roughly 8 ft x 8 ft, with the angled walls and 12 foot ceiling, It really packs a punch!! This is one of the spaces in the house that makes it feel like a cottage!