Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seasonal Decor ~ Fall 2011

I love decorating for fall ... almost more than for Christmas.
It is my favorite season, after all, & our home sorta looks fallish year round...
I hardly have to even try.
From room to room, our walls are varying colors of leaves ...
tan, brown, yellow, orange.
We have some weathered wood, a chippy window pane or two, a few antiques
& some shabby chic.
Throw in a scarecrow, some leaves & acorns, & an orange pumpkin or two
& VIOLA ... fall decor!

I completed a couple fall projects that I am crazy in love with & I wanted to share
them on my little blog.
Believe me, I am keenly aware that I am in desperate need of a new camera ...
& some photography skills!
Hope those two little issues won't cause you to run away in horror.

I'll start with my favorite decor first.

Oh my goodness ... I LOVE how this turned out!
Years ago, I saw a similar concept in a magazine {no, I can't take credit} & I knew
that someday I'd have to do this!
Believe it or not, I bought this frame at a flea market {for $5} about 3 or 4 yrs ago
& it's sat in my garage until a month ago.
It's an old, antique frame & had more of a yellow patina.
I went back & forth on whether to paint it or leave it.
In the end, I did a light spray painting of heirloom white & it's absolutely what
I envisioned!

Boy, did I go crazy with spray paint that week.
I decided the brown porcelain pumpkins needed a face lift too.
The heirloom white paint worked perfectly.

I wanted to incorporate burlap into my decorating scheme this season.
I was hoping I could find some old, used burlap instead of buying it at the fabric store.
Anytime I am decorating, I have several flea markets that I like to hit up in hopes of
finding just the pieces I need.
This time around was no exception.
I found this old burlap for $5.50.
All the other items on my mantle  piano are pieces I already had here & there
throughout the house.

As for the star of the show, these gorgeous leaves, Riley & I gathered them at a local park.
Aren't they spectacular?!
I used these tiny clothes pins that I had purchased for another project ...
& some twine I already had & in a matter of minutes, I had this completed.
I think this will now be a fall-decor 'must have' for years to come.

Here's another really simple, yet 'totally in love with' decorating idea.
And yes, I take full credit for this one ;)
Maybe someone has done this one already, but I've never seen it.
I was brainstorming on what to put in the bottom of my incredible large
vase/candle holder thingie.
During winter, I fill it with pine cones & leave out the candle.
I wanted to use the candle though & wanted something fallish to give it some height.
I was using some Indian corn for another project when the light bulb came on ...
I bought 2 bags at the grocery store & look at how neat this is?!

This is sitting on my dining room table {I'll show the rest of the dining room in a later post}.
I sat the vase in an old wreath I've had for forever & tied some raffia around the middle.

I do have one more new fave ... something I've never done before, ever.
But since this post is getting lengthy {I have the gift of gab}, I'll save it for tomorrow.
I'll give ya a little hint though.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Fall has arrived {yay} & with that, the soup season has begun!
What better way to bring in the new crisp, autumnal air than with a new soup recipe.

A good while back, my sister began telling me about a new soup Olive Garden
was serving called Gnocchi Soup.
She raved about it & insisted that I try it the next time that I was at OG.

It wasn't but a couple weeks after hearing about this soup that I got an email
from a couponing/savings blog that I follow sharing a copy cat recipe of
Olive Garden's Gnocchi Soup.
I knew it was a sign ... I was surely ganna try this soup, fall in love with it,
& wish good ol' OG would share their secret recipe.
I had the recipe already!

I have since tried the real deal at OG, my sister's version, & I made several batches
with the recipe I'm fixing to share with all of you.
I've served this to company several times & it always gains rave reviews.
I'm sure you'll add this to your fall time favorite soups!

The star of this soup is the gnocchi, which translates to dumpling
{usually made from potato or flour} in Italian.
I've watched Giada make them from scratch on Food Network, but the premade
packaged versions from the store are a nice alternative.
And the pronunciation:  \ˈn-kē, ˈny-, ˈnä-\ .... that's the dictionary version.
N-YO-Key ... that's my version.
That's how Giada says it so it's got to be right ;)

You can buy this in the pasta aisle or sometimes in the refrigerated pasta section.
When Aldi has the Italian themed items, you can buy it there for the best price.

1/3 c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. shredded carrots
1 stick celery, chopped
1/2 c. fresh chopped spinach
2 & 1/2 c. milk
1 & 1/2 c. heavy cream
3 chicken bullion cubes
salt & pepper to taste
17 oz. pre-made gnocchi

On medium heat, cook chicken and garlic in a large pot in olive oil until cooked through.
Stir in flour and mix well until the flour is cooked into the chicken.
Add the rest of the ingredients except for the gnocchi.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add gnocchi & cook for 3-4 more minutes till cooked through.
I am more of a 'method' cook than a precise one.
I usually take the recipe as the jumping off point & tinker with it,
if I want/need to ... which almost always happens.
On this one, I cooked the chicken ahead in the crock pot.
I usually do large batches of  chicken in the crock-pot or the oven, making enough to use
for at least a couple recipes.
I used the broth for the soup {omitting the olive oil}.
I transferred the chicken & broth {approx. 2 c.}  into a lg kettle & brought it to a boil.
I then added the veggies & cooked for a few minutes before whisking in the flour.
After adding the flour, I whisked & boiled for a couple minutes, then reduced the heat.
I added all the other ingredients, except gnocchi, which I added just a bit before serving.
 One more note, instead of heavy cream, I used half & half.

photo credit

I also double the recipe, making sure there's plenty of gnocchi ...
James wants one in every bite.
This soup is super cinchy ... and way delicious!
PS}  I've MISSED you all!
It's been almost a month since I've blogged.
Tell ya about how busy I've been in the next post!