Thursday, August 28, 2014

Crock-Pot Apple Butter

I don't know what has gotten into me!  I made Apple Butter this week y'all!!  It must be because Fall is arriving soon/my husband LOVES apple butter/the fact that I was given a two pounds of fresh apples from an orchard that I decided to just whip up some apple butter the other day.  I have never made apple butter so, I had no idea what I was doing.  I turned to Pinterest of course for a recipe!  When in doubt, Pinterest has a recipe for everything!

Now, Pinterest gave me a variety of recipes for apple butter.  For the most part, they were all pretty similar, so I am sharing the recipe I put together from multiple recipes I found on Pinterest.

Peel, core, and quarter all of the apples.  I used about half fresh apples straight off the apple orchard trees and half store bought Fuji apples that I already had.  

Place the peeled apples in the crock-pot first and then dump the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and water on top.  

(I made the mistake of buying whole cloves as you can see versus ground cloves.  They are not going to mix at the end, so I ended up picking them all out after I cooked them in so that the flavor was still there! Buy ground cloves!!)

Put the lid on and cook on low for 10 hours.  

Most recipes I found suggested cooking the apples overnight.  But the cinnamon and apples and nutmeg make your home smell SO good when this is cooking!  These scents really reminded of me Fall now!  So I suggest starting this in the morning and letting it fill your home with its aromas throughout the day! 

This is what your apples with look like after 10 hours of cooking on low - rich dark brown color

{ If you like your apple butter a little thicker, remove the crock-pot lid after the 10 hours and continue to cook off the excess water until it thickens.  I did not do that, so you can see mine is a little watery. }

Use a hand mixer to blend the apples to a smooth consistency.  I like my apple butter a little more on the lumpy side than too runny!  This is where you can taste it and see if you need any more cinnamon or spices.  I added a couple shakes of "pumpkin pie spice" just for the heck of it!  

Now what?  What are you going to do with all of this apple butter!?!  

You can refrigerate the apple butter and enjoy it/can it/or gift it - like I did!

I had some random Ball jars around the house, so I just used what I had and filled them up to gift.  I found a cute little mason jar label from Cottage-Industrialist for my Apple Butter.  It is a free download for all of your canning needs!

Instead of printing the blank labels and hand writing the "apple butter" on each label, I just opened the download in Powerpoint and put my text on each jar.  I made sure to include the date I made the Apple Butter so my recipients could remember how long it is has been in the refrigerator or freezer.

If you are keeping it to enjoy, you have a 2-3 week shelf life in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze the apple butter in Ball jars.  Or "can" the apple butter to enjoy year round!

I thought about really 'canning' some of the apple butter to store for a longer period of time and found a great, easy tutorial here, but then I decided to just gift it to some of my family!  Since I ended up not canning the extra apple butter, I haven't tried this method, but Southern Plate's tutorial does look super easy and it doesn't require any fancy "canning" utensils.  Just items you already have in your home, except maybe the jars.  I like tutorials like these that have easy step-by-step instructions with pictures!

I had no idea Apple Butter would be SO easy to make!  And in a smaller crock-pot, you could easily make a small individual batch of this to keep for yourself.  I will definitely be making this again in the fall and winter - even if it is just to make my house smell amazing for a day!!

Enjoy your yummy Apple Butter on hot biscuits, toast, or scones -- morning or night!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Guest Bath Design Scheme {gray + coral}

Kids are back to school, the holidays, yes, the holidays are in the near future, and so it is the time of year to remodel and redecorate your homes!  Or at least it feels that way!  I have been SO busy meeting with new clients (yay!!) and putting together new design schemes for a lot of new future projects.  If you are waiting on your design scheme from me, bare with me, I am working away on them!!!  :)  After a meeting with my contractor, a trip to Lowe's, a stop into Target, I have a start to a bathroom design scheme.

image from Lowe's Home Improvement website
How do you start something like this you ask?  I hear this question all the time....where do I start?  So, here is how I start......I talk to my client first about colors.  What colors do you envision for this space?  The existing white vanity is staying, so my first choice for the walls were a soft gray.  I love a bright, clean feel in bathrooms.   I will pick the exact gray later, but as a start, we agreed that a light gray on the walls was the definite answer.  You can then bring in accent colors in towels, shower curtain, and artwork.  Every color matches gray.  YES!  REALLY!  People are still having trouble believing that, but gray really is the new neutral.  We did the cool blues and greens in this client's Master Bath and Bedroom so I wanted to go a different direction in her guest bath.

I headed to Target and to Home Goods to look at towels.  I wanted to find a favorite towel, just like I would with fabric in any other room, and use the colors in that to move forward with the design and accent colors.  What I found were beautiful towels from both places with gray and corals.  I also found the perfect shower curtain with the same colors from World Market.  So I knew right away gray and coral would be the color scheme for this bathroom.

A Quick Tip:  Stick to just two main colors in a small space such as a bathroom.  Too many colors will give the space a cluttered, messy feel.  Two softer colors such as gray and coral will keep the space feeling clean, modern and open!

This client loves modern, contemporary design, but her home is more traditional.  So when putting together a design scheme for her bathroom, I kept the space on the transitional side.  Leaning on the contemporary side for the finishes -- tile, lighting, polished nickel hardware.  And the traditional side will show through in artwork, towels, and the shower curtain.  Do you love it!  I do!!  There is a loooooong work list on this one for such a little bathroom.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Longtime Friend For Over 23 Years

After spending a three-day-weekend in Ohio for a longtime friend's bachelorette party, it struck me how important she is in my life and how much I cherish her friendship!  So I decided to do a little post today on how much i love her and appreciate her love back!

She struck my heart this weekend when she whispered in my ear "a friend since kindergarten is a very special thing to have. Thank you for always being such a great friend for all these years!"

We can pick up where we left off if it's months before we see each other.  
We always know how to laugh and enjoy life together. 
We can lean on each other in times of need. 
We can talk to each other about happy and sad events of our life.
We both know our friendship is easy between us and we enjoy each other's company! 

I am so happy and honored to stand by her side in a few weeks when she gets married!  What a weekend!  I need a vacation day to rest from this mini-vacation!!!  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Post with Pumps & Circumstance

You never know who you are going to meet through this awesome world of blogging!!  When I randomly and coincidentally met Whitney of Pumps & Circumstance I was so excited that she loved my work so much to do a featured post on me!  Whitney is a local Indianapolis blogger covering fashion, events, and all things in the city of Indianapolis.  

I was humbled and honored to be featured on her blog.  We worked together to form a great Q&A of design tips and fun facts about me.  Hiring an interior designer like myself doesn't have to be as painful and expensive as it seems!!  

Read more about the article and see some pictures of my work on her page Pumps & Circumstance!!  Thank you so much, Whitney for this opportunity!!   

Q. How did you get started? 
A. I've always liked to work with my hands and be creative, but I didn't always know how to make a career out of that. .......................
Q. What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about hiring an interior designer? 
A.That they can’t afford them, or that it is going to be super expensive. It doesn't have to break the bank! My main objective is to save you money..........................
Q. What is the most challenging area in a home to decorate? 
A.For most people it’a a bookcase. It needs to be filled with both books and accessories while not feeling cluttered all at the same time..................These smaller, finishing details of a room are always the hardest for people, but that is what really makes your house feel like a home. 

{Question & Answers from 'Design on a Dime with Jessica Stout Design' on Pumps & Circumstance}

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