Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

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So I don’t really remember where I got this recipe, but I found it about a year ago and it is amazing! Last year we carved a lot of pumpkins! Four for us and an additional three for a friend. We’ve really been getting into it the last few years, so she had asked us to carve a few for her Halloween party.

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See? An awesome pumpkin carving!
So I had a lot of pumpkin guts, and having my Pinterest addiction, I couldn’t just throw them away! I pureed the guts, without the seeds, to make my own pumpkin, even better than in a can! Then I found the following recipe:
•3 1/2 cups flour
•3 cups sugar
•2 tsp baking soda
•1/2 tsp salt
•1 tsp cinnamon
•1 tsp nutmeg
•2 cups pumpkin puree
•4 eggs, well beaten
•1 cup vegetable oil
•2/3 cup water
•2 tsp vanilla extract
You start by combining all of your dry ingredients and mixing them together.

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Chiara loves helping me make pumpkin bread. She gets really upset if I don’t let her help! After your dry ingredients are well combined, add the eggs, pumpkin puree, oil, water and vanilla. Make sure you get all of the flour from the edges of the bowl until it looks like this:

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This is usually where I have to watch it closely, Chiara tends to keep sampling it!
I have 4 mini loaf pans for making bread, the full batch usually makes 8 mini loaves. Be sure you don’t over fill the pans, or you will have a mess on your hands.

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Then you place them in your 350° oven for 45 minutes. After the baking, I usually dump them onto the counter to cool before sealing them in a Ziploc baggie. If you seal them while they’re still a little warm, they maintain that fresh flavor for up to two weeks. They stay good a little longer, but aren’t as squishy and yummy!
Happy baking all!

Fandom – itus

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So my world has fallen back into a semblance of normalcy. The final chapter of the phenomenal Mortal Instruments series was released. I have had sufficient time to read, re – read my favorite bits and skim back through the previous books and be happy again.
I’m trying to decide if I’ve become a whore of a fangirl. It’s sounds like a joke, but seriously! Harry Potter kicked it all off, making me crazy for the books, until all of them were out, then I had to wait for the movies, but that was ok because I knew how they ended! Twilight came along and sucked me in, those books were all out already, so it was just the wait on the movies. Onto the Hunger Games, the trilogy that took me less than ten days to read, but those movies are still coming, so I still take side trips to Panem. Divergent consumed me, that trilogy taking only 5 days to read, now it’s the wait on the movies there as well! Mortal Instruments I thought would be a diversion while waiting for my other books to release, but the vortex got me again! Soon followed The Infernal Devices. Percy Jackson was a quick read while waiting for the final Mortal Instruments, but still good.
Now I’m questioning my fandom loyalties. My tattoos show some of my loyalties, oddly the only one of the above mentioned series represented is Twilight (it’s a vague reference so don’t judge!). The above image is one I’m considering, but then I think of all the amazing images associated with the previously mentioned series! A trident or pine tree for Percy Jackson. Any one of the runes from The Mortal Instruments. Divergent had some amazing symbols for the factions. Hunger Games Mockingjay, need I say more?!
Does anyone else have these issues? I’ve only run into in the last year for the most part. Is it just a rash of good books coming out? Am I more susceptible to the imagery the authors are weaving in my mind? Truthfully I don’t care that I love so many series, because hello, books are good!

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Books themselves are never a problem. I mean, check the Kindle screen! My problem is seriously the tattoo thing. I will soon be the ultimate nerd, but non fans will see the tats and be afraid. Who else thinks this will be funny.
I don’t go off on tangents very often in my blog, this actually was meant to be a review, but I distracted myself. Maybe next time…..

Migraines

I feel I need to offer an explanation when I miss a post. That’s kind of weird for me! I’ve had a nasty headache since last night. Normally I just ignore headaches and they go away. Occasionally I take excedrin, but this one is tough. I’ve taken 4 rounds of meds since the onset and…… nothing!
I’ve also decided to take another break from blogging to try something. I’ve wanted to be a writer almost as long as I can remember. I’ve had story lines and characters dancing in my head and they want to be on paper (or on a computer). I’ve dedicated myself to my blog since March, and I started thinking, if I can focus that much on a blog, I should be able to give the same to my characters.
So I will be taking an undetermined time off to focus instead on writing my book. I’m not expecting it to be Twilight or anything written by the wonderful Nora Roberts, but I think I have a good story plotted. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have something else for you guys to read soon…..

Pity Party

I have a few things on tap for activities I’ve already accomplished. However I’m engaged in a pity party tonight so I can’t quite work up my normal enthusiasm tonight.
Have you seen the commercial of the balding father and son eating pudding? The father is explaining how work and life are so stressful and he needs the pudding. That’s how I feel right now, only I have no pudding.
Life isn’t exactly where I wanted to be as I’m approaching 30, but I’m pretty happy with myself. I may not have the position I want at work, but I have a job that pays the bills and experience that gets a little more varied every day. The real highlight of my life right now is my personal life.
I have a husband who is the love of my life, and I was lucky enough to meet him early in life. I’ve known him since I was 13 and I’ve been with him since I was 18 years old. We have 2 amazing children who just amaze me a little more each day, even when they frustrate me.
Today is one of those days that I am so thankful for my family. I was denied the opportunity to even interview for a position that I have been working for for the last 10 years. It sounds whiny, but I have never interviewed for a position that I didn’t get. Now I’m being denied the opportunity to interview because of the way something was phrased.
I feel like I’ve almost reached the top of the rope and someone just doused it with oil, and down I slide.
Sorry about the downer, but I needed to voice some frustrations, and the internet is such an easy listener!

Duct Tape Placemats

This was something found by default. A link from a link off a pin. Fun, right? Tony and I picked up some fun duct tape for the kids a few weeks ago. Avengers for Arthur and Minnie Mouse for Chiara. We had some crazy ideas on how to use it, but we never did anything with them. Today I was picking up some duct tape for a separate project. It was decidedly girly, so Chiara has claimed it. Looking through assorted links, I stumbled on this.

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You start by getting 2 types of duct tape that work well together. I had the Avengers stuff and the industrial gray stuff. The original directions say to use 2″ duct tape, mine was only 1 1/2″ so I adjusted accordingly. Feel free to check the original site for those directions, I’m just going to post what I did.
For the strips that will run length wise, cut strips 40″ long. Once it’s cut, fold it in half, so there is no sticky-ness exposed. Easier said than done.

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After some trial and error, and destroyed strips, the easiest way I found to do this was taking the far right end in your left hand, hold the center with your right hand and fold over while matching the ends. Whatever you do, do not try holding the ends together in the air and press together! It doesn’t work!

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You’re going to make 6 of the length wise strips that are the 40″, folded in half, so you have 20″ strips. You’re going to make 9 strips that are 28″, then fold them in half so you end up with 14″ strips.
The original directions say to tape your length wise pieces to your work surface to hold everything in place. I prefer a challenge, so I just started doing my basket weave.

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You’re going to keep weaving until you end up with a mat, rough around the edges, yes, but we’ll fix that!
Make sure you tighten everything up, possibly using a little clear tape, so you don’t leave any gaps for food to leak through. Once you have everything tightly woven together, take more of your duct tape, or a contrasting tape, and lay a strip long enough to cover the entire length of the mat. Lay it so it is sticky side up, and lay your rough mat edges over the tape. Cut another piece the same length and lay it over the edges, sticky side down. There you are, edges concealed!

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Here is the other finished product. I was really happy with how these turned out. Arthur was really excited about his new placemat and Chiara was almost too wound up to sleep when I told her I was making her one. The best thing about all of it? With all the fun duct tape choices there are now, there is an infinite number of possibilities!
Happy weaving!
Original directions came from http://m.voices.yahoo.com/contemporary-placemat-craft-project-duct-tape-place-214780.html

Christmas Prepping

Some people may scoff, but Christmas is coming. I feel a little like a slacker this year. Last year I was almost done at this point and only had a few small things to pick up. I really think it was all my spring vacations that messed with my master plan. You won’t hear me complain though because Gettysburg, St. Louis and a week at home made for a very nice spring!
Now here we are, it’s the end of August, and I’m launching into full Christmas prep mode! I placed a few orders online for an assortment of products from Amazon. Other than one gift for Arthur’s birthday and a great many Kindle books, I’ve never placed an order on Amazon. I got some great deals on some items to do some Pinterest-y things.
I’m so torn between wanting to post these projects as I complete them, or waiting till after Christmas. There is always the anonymity of not posting the names of who is getting them, but I want them to be a surprise! Grr!
I’m so excited to get started on these projects on Tuesday. The first one I can even enlist the kids to help!
As a kid, you don’t get it when people tell you that it is better to give than to recieve. As an adult it becomes more and more obvious. I love that moment when the perfect gift for someone pops into my head! It’s even better when you can see their face when they realize what it is! 
Any exciting gift ideas for Christmas? Anything you think would make a great gift, that would make a nice post? Something you think I should try?

Work Intrudes

I was so proud of myself when I started my blog. I did over 100 posts, one a day for almost 4 months. Go me, right? Here recently, we’ve been prepping for inventory at work. Walmart inventory, especially at the Steelyard, is a study in frustration.
I have still been enjoying my Pinterest, but sticking to repeats for now. I’m building my repertoire back up, so don’t think I’ve bailed on it.
Consider this a mental health break! I’ll be back Monday night with a whole host of new completed or experienced pins.
A few weeks ago I had my very good friend Jenna as a guest blogger. I still think I’m going to do footprint bugs with my own kids too! Has anyone else completed any pins and want to share their experience?
Shoot me an email at stephanie_desantis@live.com if you are interested in maybe being a guest blogger.

Revisiting Pinterest

This particular blog isnt about any specific pin, but more about the repeatable-ness of some of these pins. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to come up with something to blog about, even though I’m constantly using Pinterest in daily life.
For example, I made beignets again this morning. They are such a yummy breakfast treat! The big trick is remembering to make the dough the night before. Or the crockpot french toast, even though I didn’t care for it in the crockpot, the batter was amazing on regular french toast, that was yesterday’s breakfast.
So while I may not always have something new and exciting to post, I’m still using Pinterest, almost on a daily basis. I guess this is me asking you not to get bored when I don’t have something amazing to post. I do have some interesting blogs coming up, including my first guest blogger. So stay tuned for some excellent pins!

Technical difficulties

Sorry guys, I was all excited about my post tonight, but the Internet is being hinky! Even my phone isn’t working right! Upgrade in a few weeks, so excited! I can’t access the site to reference the original recipe, but it was delicious and I will definitely find a way to get it on here tomorrow! Just a hint: it’s a delicious chicken sandwich……