crafting · DIY · Seasonal · Uncategorized

Prepping Acorns for Crafts

Seasonal crafting is one of my favorite pastimes. I love collecting things I find in nature on my hikes and including them in arts and crafts. I always keep an eye out for beautiful things to pick up when I’m out in nature. Fall is one of the best times for that. With all of the colorful falling leaves and the abundance of acorns and pinecones to collect, you can grown quite the collection quickly for crafting. However, if you are going to use something from nature in your crafts, which I highly recommend, you absolutely need to preserve it. I already wrote about how you can preserve Fall leaves here, but pinecones and acorns need to be baked if you are going to bring them into your house. This prevents mold from growing and kills any unwanted guests that might be hiding inside. Below I’ll explain the process for preserving acorns for crafting, which can also be applied to pinecones.

Step One:

First of all, collect some acorns! Make sure you aren’t picking up acorns with cracks or holes, these aren’t good for crafting and holes in an acorn are a sign of bugs! Also be sure not to pick up green acorns, those aren’t ripe yet and are more likely to mold because they carry more moisture in them. You can collect just acorn caps, there are some great crafts out there for them!

 

Step Two:

Now that you’ve collected your fair share of acorns, it is time to clean and rinse them! Put all of your acorns in a colander and rinse them under lukewarm water. After you’ve rinsed all of the dirt off of your acorns, place them in a bowl filled with water and let them soak for an hour to remove any remaining dirt.

Pro-Tip: If you do not bake your acorns soon after collecting them, you risk the possibility of worms hatching. Don’t risk it!

 

Step Three:

Now that you’ve soaked your acorns, it is time to dry them. Remove your acorns from the water and place them on a towel and allow them to dry for an hour or so.

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Step Four:

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Arrange the acorns on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.

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Step Five:

Turn your acorns every 30 minutes and bake until they turn a deep brown, about 2 hours.

Step Six:

Remove acorns from the oven and allow them to cool completely before using them. Once they are cool, go ahead and start crafting!

 

For Pinecones:

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  • Collect some pinecones!
  •  Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place pinecones on a cookie sheet.
  •  Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Allow a day to cool before crafting!

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Examples of crafts with Acorns and Pinecones!

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Cooking · Recipe · Seasonal · Vegan

Classic Vegan Pumpkin Bread

I’ll admit, I am the cliché girl who loves pumpkin in the Fall. I especially enjoy baking with pumpkin in the Autumn months. This time of year, while grocery shopping, I always find myself in front of the fall baking display picking up a can of pumpkin trying to come up with ways to incorporate it into my cooking. Something I love to do every Autumn is making pumpkin bread. However, now that I’m vegan, I had to find a way for me and my family to enjoy it together, without sacrificing flavor. This recipe revamps the classic pumpkin bread recipe, with a vegan twist. It is more than your average pumpkin bread. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!

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Ingredients:                                  Makes 2 loaves

  • 2 Cups Pumpkin Purée
  • 1  Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2/3 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup of Applesauce
  • 3 and 1/3 Cups of Flour
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Nutmeg
  • 1 Cup of Raisins
  • Pumpkin Seeds to sprinkle on top (Optional)

Recommended Materials

  • 2 Bread Pans
  • 2 Large mixing bowls
  • Spatula (Rubber Scraping Spatula works best)
  • Whisk
  • Mixer (Handheld or stationary works fine)
  • Small bowl for tossing raisins

Step One:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat two bread pans with a layer of vegan butter and then sprinkle with flour to replace Baking Spray. Put aside for later.

Mix your pumpkin purée, sugar, light brown sugar, oil, water, and applesauce in a medium bowl. Mix until smooth. If your light sugar is clumping you can put it in the microwave for a minute to soften it.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together until well combined.

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Step Two:

Using a spatula, fold your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients. Keep folding until there is no more visible flour.

Step Three:

Take your raisins and lightly toss them in flour. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of your bread or clumping together. Shake off excess flour. Fold the flour-coated raisins into your batter.

Step Four:

Pour your batter evenly into your two bread pans. Place pans into oven.

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After 35 minutes take out your bread and sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds. Place your bread back in the oven for an additional 20 minutes.

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After 20 minutes remove your bread from the oven and place a toothpick in the top. If any batter sticks to the toothpick, place back in the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes. When you can put a toothpick in the top without any batter coming off, then your bread is done!

Place aside to let cool. After your bread has cooled, remove it from the pans and plate.

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Enjoy!

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Cooking · Recipe · Seasonal · Uncategorized · Vegan

Cleansing Squash Soup

Autumn is a time of hearty foods such as pumpkin pies, stews, and heavy breads. Our systems can get overwhelmed with the indulgence of it all. This soup is a great meal to take a break from those heavy foods while still enjoying an Autumn themed meal. It is cleansing and boosts immunity to prep you for when those bugs make their rounds this winter. Add some quinoa or rice to bulk up this soup and make it a nice family dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups of Vegetable Broth
  • 2 teaspoons of Minced Garlic
  • 1 Apple, peeled, chopped
  • 1 Butternut Squash, peeled, chopped
  • Carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
  • 1 teaspoon of Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut or Almond Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • Garnish with fresh greens
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

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Step One-

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Peel your vegetables and apple. Remove the seeds from your squash and apple. Chop everything into quarter sized chunks, put your apple aside for later. Fill pot with water and place in squash and carrots. Bring your pot to a rolling boil and let your vegetables boil for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drain your vegetables from your water and put aside.

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Step Two-

In a crock pot, add your vegetable broth, garlic, carrots, apple, squash, salt, turmeric, brown sugar, cinnamon, coconut oil, and pumpkin spice. Put crock pot on high and let cook for 1 hour.

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Step Three-

Take everything in your crock pot and place it into a food processor, or a blender, and puree until smooth. Place your soup back into your crock pot and let steep on high for an additional 2 hours until creamy.

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After your soup has cooked, add the milk and maple syrup. Whisk well.

Add  garnish, salt, and pepper to taste.

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Enjoy!

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crafting · DIY · Seasonal · Uncategorized

Fall Leaves Canvas Art!

The most characteristic part of Fall for me is the changing of the leaves! The falling leaves are the embodiment of Autumn. So, for my first craft, I thought the perfect project would be to show everyone how to preserve the beautiful colors and shapes of the leaves, and display them in your home. For this project we’ll collect leaves and make a unique wall art display for your home!

What You’ll Need:

  • Iron
  • Wax paper
  • Leaves
  • Canvases
  • Paint/Color of your choice
  • Mod Podge
  • Brushes
  • Paper Towels

Step One:

Get outside and collect some leaves! Pick ones that have vibrant colors and that aren’t dried out yet. Collect as many that catch your eye as you can, since you’ll need a lot for this project (at least 30 decent sized leaves).

Step Two:

If your leaves are wet from rain or dew, sandwich them between paper towels to dry them off for about an hour.

Once you have enough dry leaves, place them in between two sheets of wax paper. Place paper towels on either side of the wax paper to protect your iron and your surface from the melting wax. Coating your leaves in wax and heating them lightly with an iron helps eliminate moisture in the leaf and seal in the color.

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Set your iron to the satin setting and delicately iron the leaves till they have a thin coating of wax on both sides.

Remove the leaves from in between the wax paper. Let cool for 30 minutes.

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Step Three:

Now that you have sealed your leaves in wax, it’s time to coat them in Mod Podge!

Brush the top side of your leaves with one coat of Mod Podge, don’t worry if it looks like your glue isn’t adhering, its just having trouble sticking to the wax, but its still doing its job.

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Example of the first coat of Mod Podge.

Once the top sides of your leaves are dry, flip, and repeat with the backsides of your leaves. This layer of Mod Podge will keep the leaves from deteriorating.

Pro-Tip: If you want your leaves extra flat, press them in between some heavy books for a few hours after following all the above steps. You can add a full tea kettle on top for some extra weight!

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Your leaves should look like this when your all done!

Step Four:

Purchase canvases at your local art supplier Micheals. Choose sizes that go well together and remember to always find the best deals. I happen to prefer Micheals as I can use coupons. Try to go when they are having a sale.

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Some Wall Art Ideas!

Once you have purchased your canvases, pick a base color to paint them! It can be anything you want, I chose brown to match my existing decor and to bring out the colors in the leaves. However, you can pick a statement color like teal or yellow!

 

After deciding on a base color, paint your canvasses. It may take a few coats as my canvases took 3 coats to get the deep brown I was looking for.

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Step Five:

Now that your canvases are painted and your leaves are prepped, its time to put them together.

Plan out your pattern with your leaves before you start gluing. When you’ve found a design you like, paint the backs of your leaves with Mod Podge and glue them down to your canvases. Allow them to dry for an hour or two. If your leaves aren’t flat against the surface, wait for the the Mod Podge to dry, lay down something plastic like Ziploc bags or saran wrap, and then place some heavy books on top.

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Once the leaves have glued to your canvases, paint an even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface, even the sides. This will give everything a nice finished look and keep the leaves pressed down.

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Don’t worry if your leaves hang off the edge, you can trim off the excess when everything is dry.

You can even add extra layers of Mod Podge if you feel like you need to, just allow them to fully dry before adding the next layer.

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 Pro-Tip:  If you want to get extra fancy and make your project really last you can add a layer of Acrylic Paint Sealer over the whole project. Be sure your entire work surface is covered (I use empty trash bags as work mats) and that you ventilate the area after using the spray.

Once your Mod Podge is dry you can hang your new art work and admire it all season long!

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