Pumpkin Spiced Chili

Since you all really do care what I ate for lunch, we’re taking a break from the lists of books I haven’t read.

This past weekend we planned for a lovely fall supper. Except that it was 75 degrees. Too bad! The groceries were bought. Taken from Culinary School of the Rockies, we had Pumpkin Spiced Chili. I highly recommend making a double batch. Might do it tonight since the high today will be 44. Forty-four degrees Fahrenheit, maybe Autumn arrived?

Serves 4-6

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can red kidney beans
2 cups (1 14.5 ounce can) pumpkin puree
1 ½ Tbsp medium chili powder
½ Tbsp cumin
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (at least 3 good shakes) or 1 Tbsp Siracha sauce

For Garnish:
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onion, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Make room in the center of the skillet, add turkey and brown about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and pumpkin. Season with chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt, and cayenne or Siracha sauce.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes.
  4. To garnish, serve each bowl of chili topped with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream sprinkled with cilantro.

We paired it with Carlson Vineyards’ Laughing Cat Sweet Baby Red, it was wonderful (thanks for bringing it Judith & Scott!) as well as Abita’s Pecan Harvest Ale. Sounds like a good pairing, right? If you don’t have Abita in your neck of the woods, I’m sure any Fall Harvest beer would do.

We finished the meal off with Peant Butter Pumpkin Brownies. If you make nothing else, make the brownies. You will not be sorry.

Bean Bag Instructions

To make 9 triangle solid shaped bean bags you will need the following:

  • 3C uncooked pinto beans
  • 6 ounces lemonade
  • 2 ounces sweet tea vodka
  • fabric remnant
  • a sewing machine

Ask someone else to cut the fabric remnant into 36 equilateral triangles. While they are doing that, pour 6 oz lemonade and 2 oz vodka into a ice filled glass. Take a drink. Check the progress of the person cutting the triangles. Finish your drink and go to bed.

Wake up the next morning refreshed!

Sew triangles together forming a pyramid shape, leaving one side open. Find a willing preschooler to turn the fabric right side out and fill with 1/3 C uncooked pinto beans. Help her pick the beans up off the floor. Sew the bags shut, you will have one seam on the outside. It’s okay. The kids at the party aren’t going to critique your sewing skills and if they do, trip them during the three-legged race.

Shirt Dress

Months ago I saw a post about how to turn a men’s dress shirt into a shirt dress for a kid. I thought, I can do that! And then a few months passed and I saw another where she claims it to be easy! I can definitely do it if it’s easy.

My crafty partner in crime brought her machine over for another episode of “Seamstresses that Drink”. We liberally applied vodka and our own interpretation of the instructions. I had to add lace to my creation to hide the fact I can’t sew a straight line. In the end however, I am pleased with how it turned out. In all I spent less than $6 (since I already had the shirt) – that’s $1.99 for lace, $2.39 for thread and $1.00 for buttons.

Back detail – daisy button attaching the strap to the dress

Front detail – the front of the dress is the back of the shirt (the buttons run up the back of the dress)

Back with buttons (in real! button holes). You can still see the tag in the dress from its first life.

It’s difficult to see, but the same brown trim is on the straps and the bottom of the dress. I did a zigzag on the hem – I thought it went with the lines on the fabric a little better.

The dress is a little big around Audrey’s torso, but will be fine with a t-shirt under it. I used the buttons on the straps so I can let out the length as needed.

Overall, I am pleased (like I said) and will probably attempt this again. I like the idea of reusing old shirts, it’s definitely cheaper than fabric. Also, I would suspect that with some searching you could find some pretty interesting patterns to work with.

Next up, an art smock for Kindergarten-bound Elliot for school (it’s on his school supply list, I better get cracking).

Give Me an E

Here’s Elliot rocking his new hooded towel to take to the pool this summer. It’s a pretty simple project if you have a sewing machine. I used one bath size towel and one hand towel (for the hood). The ‘E’ is cut from a wash cloth. Given that it’s nearly dragging the floor now, I plan for him to get a few years wear out of it.

Some finer details: I used monofiliment thread on a zigzag width 3 length 1, this results in using lots of thread. The towels are Target clearance (I actually bought them last year and just never got around to making it). The hood is the hand towl folded in half and sewn up the back (after some guesstimate trimming for approximate head size). It results it a pointed hat whcih I thought was fine but caused Elliot to pull the hood to far forward, so I flattened out the top (yeah, that makes *total* sense).

The ‘E’ is totally free-hand. I know, you can hardly believe it right?

Audrey’s is coming soon.

Craigslist to the Rescue

I hate throwing away anything that might have value to someone else. Take for example the tricycle I plucked out of a neighbor’s trash (in her defense she was hoping someone would) and gave to another friend to rehab and use for their son. Maybe the husband got carried away?


But more than throwing away things that still have life in them, I abhor paying other people to throw things away for me. We had a deck on the back of our house.

It was a fine deck, served its purpose but not terribly well suited for a family with small children. Our neighbor said it’s a redwood deck. We believed him since he helped build it. It was also over-engineered. Screws (not nails) – 2 per joist per board, joists every 16 inches – it’s like they were building a house foundation.

We wanted a concrete patio and got a few bids. All the bids included demo and removal of the deck. But if it’s redwood, surely it had some value, right? Not to the concrete guys. So I placed an ad on our local Craigslist listing the redwood for free if you dismantled and hauled it away. Nearly immediately I had a furniture maker call me. He came over the following Saturday and removed all the decking. He also said it was really good redwood and will make lovely outdoor benches and tables.

He left behind the pressure treated lumber.

Another post on Craigslist. Another taker. In the end our deck was dismantled and hauled away by people other than us and for free!

We kept the materials out of the landfill and lowered the cost of our patio since they didn’t have to do any demolition. It was a total win.

The next time you have things that still have life in them just not room in your life, check out Craigslist. You may not make a penny, but you’ll keep stuff from the landfill. Remember, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. And it makes for good community.

Do you have any good Craigslist stories? That antique dresser that you finally found? The dining table you’re going to rehab? Share!

Halibut Ceviche

Our neighbor vacationed in Alaska a few weeks back and caught a 113 pound halibut. We were lucky enough to have been gifted some of the fish.

It was sliced too thin for grilling. So, I decided to make ceviche. Gary introduced us to this delectable treat years ago. Each time we make it we think, we should do this more often – it’s so easy! If you’ve never had ceviche and you like fish I highly recommend it. The fish is not raw. It is “cooked” by the acid in the limes. You don’t have to be a sushi lover to appreciate ceviche.

Because I have a full day and wanted to be able to take the ceviche to the pool tonight for dinner, I took some short cuts.

I sliced a pound of fish into approximately 1″ squares and covered with the juice of four limes in a glass dish (all Internet recommendations are glass or stainless). Choose limes that aren’t too juicy, they’ll be more watery and less acidic affecting the curing of the fish. That concoction was refrigerated for just over an hour. Last night I found recipes ranging from 15 minutes at room temperature to 8 hours in the refrigerator. Your mileage will vary based on type of fish, quality of fish and your preference for “doneness”. I drained the fish and then poured a chunky peach mango salsa over the top (that’s the short cut part, there are as many variations on ceviche as there are sangria).

We’ll nosh on this at the pool this evening with tortilla chips.

Total time prep time: < 15 minutes
Total time: approximately 1 hr, 15 minutes
Difficulty: uhm, none
Kid friendly? Maybe, since it’s in salsa

Wipe the drool from your keyboard.

Fireplace Update

Where once there was this

Now there is this

We tiled the fireplace 1 1/2 years ago, just six months after moving into the house. I insisted on having it done for my annual Christmas cookie exchange. And it was! Mostly. It just needed to be grouted. Funny how at the last party it still needed to be grouted. I hope that it’s not in need of grout at this year’s party. Grout isn’t so tough that it takes two years to get done. Baseboard? Well, that’s completely different.

Back to tile.

This tile was very easy to do. The 1″ square tiles are attached to paper on their pretty side making them into square foot sheets. You don’t have to apply and space each tile individually – that would take forever. Butter the wall and the tile with mastic, stick the tile to the wall, wash the paper off the front side. Done! Or at least that’s where we stopped.

We were drawn to this color palette because I thought it left us with a lot of choices; we wanted something flexible. We hadn’t chosen a color for the walls (that was done April 2008) or anything else in the house. Our hope was that with the small space around the fireplace we could commit to a lot of color without overwhelming the whole room.

If you need a punch of color I highly recommend mosaic tile. It’s easy to install. It can fit into a variety of budgets. It’s easy to clean! After it’s grouted it looks like you did a very detailed job, no one needs to know that it was easy peasy. Well, until you blog about it.

Gallery Wall

I sincerely love the people at 3M. In graduate school I heard the CIO from 3M speak. He said that they had a mandate that the organization had to take three new products to market per year. Everyone worked toward that goal. And because of that drive! that determination! I was able to hang our pictures without gazillions of holes in the wall. Which is good because I had l already punched a million holes in the walls in the last iteration. But now! Now our pictures are mostly held up with velcro.

I really like the 3M adhesive strip picture hooks, but they don’t work well on every type of frame. The velcro strips work on any frame that has a smooth, flat back surface. In all, I only had to put two holes in the wall. There’s a frame that has a velvet (maybe not real velvet, something fuzzy & black) and a teeny tiny angled hanger. It required two holes because my spatial relations are poor. Also, I was able to realign pictures to get them level, or at least level relative to their neighbors.

These velcro strips aren’t inexpensive. But, for the minimal packaging (yeah! less trash), the minimal plastic and the forgiving nature of the product I pink puffy heart them.

PS: if you’re from 3M, feel free to send me more! I have more pictures that need to be hung.

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients for chocolate pumpkin muffins:

Mix pumpkin (not pie mix) with cake mix. The mix will look a little dry, it’s not. Follow baking instructions on cake mix box. Your muffins will not have smooth tops. Or at least mine didn’t. While lumpy on top they were smooth and moist on the inside. I would have taken a picture of them but didn’t want to risk having my hand bitten by ravenous children.

Color Chosen


We’ll have to look at in the morning light to know for sure. I followed some sound advice and ventured out of the coral section of paint chips. I came home with two new options: Mermaid’s Song and Purple Gala.

blue & purple

Again, the camera doesn’t really do them justice. Here’s the blue color, the one I’m leaning toward, on another wall, same time of day.

The current thinking: paint one wall and if it’s TOO bright, paint the others the lightest color on the same card. If that’s hideous, we’ll just move. Painting over blue paint is really difficult.

Everyone prepare yourselves… I’ll want to paint the master bedroom soon. Imagine the headache that’s going to cause. If a kid’s room took 6 samples, how many will mine take? Maybe we can have a pool.

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