Fall Fireplace Mantle

Our farmhouse was built in the late 1800, before central home heating. Most rooms offered a fireplace for warmth. Unfortunately, by the time we purchased the home all the fireplaces had been removed and the chimneys that were hidden behind the walls were crumbling and not able to be used. So it was a wonderful surprise when we found an original mantle hidden in the hayloft. Of course, I carried it back into the house. Today, the mantle is one of my favorite décor pieces.

It has no other purposed than to look pretty. I even choose to keep it all battered and bruised, mainly because it was painted with lead paint and I’m not touching that. But honestly, I fell in love with the dents and chips. It tells a story all its own, in a language I do not understand, but could listen to all day long.

The Fall Mantle:

I love decorating the mantle each season but, the Fall mantle is one of my favorites. I normally tend towards earthy greens and natural woods when decorating the mantle, but fall brings with it a burst of color that I love to bring into the home. This year I went with bold fiery flowers and mini orange pumpkins grown in our garden. It adds a touch of cheerfulness to the room.

Adding Warmth:

An important element is adding warmth. Most fireplaces do that naturally by flicking a wick, or nowadays a switch, to create fire. Since this is no longer a working fireplace I add candles. Sometimes a lot of candles. I contained myself to four this season and placed them on these beautiful repurposed pillars made out of weathered found wood.

The rustic wood pillars pair beautifully with the sleek white vases. The candles are “Farmhouse Fresh” whiskey bonfire. Delicious notes of spiced-liquor fill the air the moment I light this candle! It’s as cozy as a night spent by a crackling fire.

Shop the Look:

  1. Fiery Flower Stems
  2. Stoneware Vase, White
  3. Wooden Found Wood Pillars
  4. FHF Candles with Wooden Lid

I hope you find some decoration inspiration! Please let me know what you think in the comments below and come back and visit us again.

Beef and Pumpkin Stew

A thick and hearty stew filled with fall flavors perfect for those chilly evenings.

It is that time of the year where the garden is coming to an end with just a few stragglers hanging on. Today I picked the last of the tomatoes, some herbs, a pumpkin, and a handful of onions. This may sound like a random array but isn’t that the best thing about soups and stews. You can pretty much throw anything into them, and they will come out perfect.

The Spices:

What spice goes well with pumpkin? For me, that’s cinnamon! Cinnamon gives food warmth, adds a natural sweetness, and mixes in a depth of flavor that is irresistible in this stew.  I use a teaspoon of cinnamon for this recipe, but if you are not used to using cinnamon in savory dishes you might need to adjust it a bit. It is such a distinctive flavor it might require easing into.

Pumpkin:

Do not throw any of that pumpkin away. Did you know you can eat every part of the plant? Pumpkin flowers, leaves, stems, seeds, flesh, even the skin are all edible. Some varieties are better for eating than other. Your smaller pie pumpkins are sweeter than your heirloom varieties, but all are edible. The harder varieties, like butternut or Queensland blue, are better for soups and stews. Soft varieties tend to make the soup watery.

Beef and Pumpkin Stew

Cedar Oak Farms
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small pumpkin peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth divided
  • 4 – 5 tomatoes peeled and sliced
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14 ounces) garbanzo beans, undrained
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup roasted & salted pumpkin seeds optional
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Instructions
 

  • In a 4-quart Dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove beef and keep warm.
  • Add the onion to the Dutch oven and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Return the beef to the Dutch oven. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Carefully, add 2 – 3 tomatoes to the water and let boil until the skin cracks, about 1 minute. Immediately place in cold water. Repeat until all the tomatoes have been processed. Set aside. Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the pulp, but reserving the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into slices that are easy to peel. Cut into 1” chunks. Set aside.
  • After an hour, add the pumpkin, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, orzo, and spices to the Dutch oven. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of vegetables broth. Bring to a slow boil then reduce to heat to low. Let simmer for another hour.
  • If you are choosing to use the pumpkin seeds, roast them during this time.
  • Stir the stew and taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve in bowls and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and parsley.
Keyword Beef, Soups & Stews

Fall Porch

The country porch is a special place. It is where the morning begins with a steaming cup of black coffee for him and a cinnamon vanilla latte for her. In the evening it is the place we gather to tell each other about our days and make plans for the next. It is where we sit to watch the sun rise and set. It is the spot that gives us the best view of the grove and timber with glimpses of deer, red fox, and wild turkeys all coming up for the oak and hickory nuts that fall aplenty in the fall.

Our country porch is an extension of our living space. And like our home, I like to change out the décor to match the season with simple and easy changes. Changing out pillows and throws, adding seasonal elements, and creating one or two focal points with an invitation to come and seat for awhile.

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Pancake Mix and Muffins

Here is a busy morning breakfast cheat that works so well it has become a constant instead of a cheat. I make a few tweaks to pre-brought pancake mix for quick and easy muffins. Because pancakes are prepared to be light and fluffy you achieve a light and fluffy muffin that bakes up super high and uniformed. In addition, since pancakes are not meant to be overly sweet you get an almost bread like muffin. You can add ingredients to appease that sweet tooth if you choose.

Pumpkin Spice:

Because it is early September and there is nip in the morning air I have a craving for fall flavors. Today I am opting for a pumpkin spice pancake mix. For the most part, you can follow the package directions when changing pancakes to muffins. The one crucial thing you want to remember is to decrease the liquid.

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