Sunday, October 11, 2015

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce

Autumn, with its abundance of fresh apples at the grocery and farmers markets, is the perfect time to make homemade applesauce. I adapted the following recipe from Epicurious. It is very tasty -- nice and sweet and "cinnamony." It pairs well with a PB&J sandwich. 

Before now, I'd never made applesauce. Now, I'm a convert. Sure, purchasing prepared applesauce is easy, but homemade is soooo much better! I would like to experiment with flavored applesauce like this recipe for cranberry applesauce, which would be perfect at Thanksgiving.

Making applesauce is easy. The most time consuming part is peeling, coring and dicing the apples, which, to be honest, is not my favorite task. What I like to do when I have this kind of task is to turn it into a meditative moment by giving thanks to God for the blessing of having food to prepare and a home in which to prepare it. For me, this makes the task more enjoyable and fulfilling. I also view cooking as a creative outlet and an expression of love. It's nice to have a husband who is so appreciative of my efforts, too. Now, for the recipe ...

Cinnamon Applesauce

3 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used McIntosh)
1 cup water (this much water never evaporated; try as is or reduce water to 3/4 cup or less)
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1) In a heavy, large saucepan, combine diced apples, water, cinnamon stick and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 6 to 12 minutes until almost all liquid is evaporated (note: in my experience, the water did not evaporate, but I just forged ahead and the end product was great). Remove pan from heat.

2) Stir in lemon juice and ground cinnamon. Stir well. Let cool 30 minutes, then mash with a fork or a potato masher, leaving chunks or mashing to a smoother consistency.

I'd love to hear from you. Do you make applesauce from scratch? Is it plain with only a little added sugar? Do you add other fruits? As I was searching online for a recipe to make, I saw several that didn't use any water, only a small amount of lemon juice, but I thought the apples would stick to the pan. If you have experience making a no-water-added recipe, please let me know if it works. Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Choosing Exterior Paint Colors

We're getting ready to have the exterior of our house painted, yet again. This will be the third time in 17 years. Does that seem like a lot to you, or is having to paint an old house every five years or so fairly normal? The photo below doesn't show it, but the paint is cracking and chipping pretty badly in spots on the south and west sides of the house. This photo was taken on the north side front porch. We're also having a problem with mildew, so a fresh coat of paint with mildew inhibitor will help.

The last time we painted, we used MAB paint, which was bought by Sherwin-Williams, but I don't think we can get it at our local SW store. So, we're choosing new colors from the SW line. We like the sage green/off-white color scheme we have now, so we'll stay in that family. They suits the Craftsman style of the house, and it will cost less to have it painted in the same colors rather than changing them up. I stopped by the SW store recently for some swatches. 

Here's our bungalow's current color scheme (looks a little greyer in this photo than it actually is) ...

And below are the colors we've narrowed down to for the siding. This photo was taken in the sunlight, so the colors look more yellowy than they actually are (I tried to color correct to the best of my ability). Colors will also look quite different from one monitor to another, but this gives you the general idea.

Left to right: Meadow Trail (SW 7737), Olive Grove (SW 7734), and Garden Sage (SW 7736). I think the closest to what we originally painted the house is Meadow Trail on the far left (you can see a bit of the house color through the back of the bench). Garden Sage, on the right, is a bit lighter and Olive Grove, in the middle, is a bit darker, which I kind of like. 

We've had the house (gently) power washed to remove the dirt and mildew. The painters will scrape and sand before painting. In some areas, they'll be able to scrape down to the wood, but on the majority of the house they won't. This means there will still be a bumpy, uneven surface over much of the siding, but that's okay with us. The house is 93 years old -- just imagine how many coats of paint are on it! We don't expect our old house to look perfect. In my opinion, it's the imperfections that give it character and charm.

This is Sherwin-Williams' exterior historic colors booklet. The second photo shows a Craftsman style house painted in Olive Grove.

The next photo shows Garden Sage as part of the "Global Spice" collection. I really like this color, and for the trim, the Canvas Tan above it. 

I'll let you know what colors we choose. To be honest, I will leave the final decision to my husband. As I've mentioned before, he works in the printing industry and has a trained eye for color matching. I gave up years ago trying to argue with him about color (though it was hard -- after all, I am a Capricorn). I totally trust his paint color choices (except for that one mess up recently on his first color choice for the mudroom floor, but we'll let that slide). Stay tuned for more on our exterior house painting project. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Dining Table Set for Fall

Paul and I went to the farmers market last weekend and splurged on pumpkins and squashes. $70 worth!! The grower even gave us a break on the price. In all, we got two large, basic orange pumpkins, one large dark green squash that kind of looks like a pumpkin, one large dark orange pumpkin called Rouge Vif d'Etampes (or "Cinderella pumpkin"), one white pumpkin and the three on the dining room table below. That's eight total, so maybe $70 isn't so much after all. I do like to support local farmers instead of buying from grocery store chains, and the folks we bought from had a wonderful selection and great quality. We had such fun picking them. I could have come home with even more.

While changing out the dining table display, I also removed the ivory slipcovers from the dining chairs. I like to use the slipcovers in spring and summer to give the room a lighter look. The fabric on the chairs is an oatmeal color, which feels warmer in the fall and winter months.

This light green one is my favorite. Isn't it beautiful? I think it's called an hokkaido squash ... do you know for sure? I've mixed the real pumpkins/squashes and pine cones in with some faux ones. Can you tell which are which?

Everything in the photo below is real ... except for the red pear. For more autumn decorating inspiration, check out my Autumn Pinterest board. And join me at The Charm of Home's "Home Sweet Home Party" for more ideas.

While we're in the dining room, here is our well-stocked bar. May I fix you a drink? My favorite cocktail is a whiskey sour, and below is an excellent recipe for one from the Barefoot Contessa. Check out some of my other favorite drink recipes here, here, here and here.

Whiskey Sour Recipe

In a jar, combine:
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 4 limes)
  • 2/3 cup simple syrup
  • 3/4 cup whiskey
Shake well and serve over ice.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Easy Chocolate Mousse

What's this ... no photo? More on that in a moment. The following chocolate mousse recipe is touted in Everyday Food as the "easiest dessert ever, a snap to make." I'm sure it would be, if your blender container doesn't leak hot milk all over your counter! It quickly became "not-the-easiest" dessert ever. This little episode makes me want a new blender even more than I did before (the leaking has occurred several times before -- usually on mornings when I'm making a smoothie for breakfast and running late. Even though I'm super careful about putting the blade and base on tightly, I guess I wasn't careful enough. Maybe it's time for a Vitamix??)

Mishap aside, this recipe is very simple and quick to make, and the end result is very delicious. Now, about the lack of photos in this post. I'm ashamed to say that I FORGOT to take photographs before Paul and I inhaled the dessert two nights in a row! I even made fresh whipped cream as garnish -- it was so pretty. You can go here to see what it looks like though. There's a video too.

Easy Chocolate Mousse

1-1/4 cups good quality semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt (regular, not coarse)
2/3 cup whole milk
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or you can use peppermint extract)
Heavy cream

1) Put the chocolate chips, sugar and salt in blender container and set aside.
2) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer, then transfer it to the blender container and let stand for 1 minute. 
3) Blend on high until smooth, 1 minute. 
4) Add egg whites and almond extract and blend on high until well combined, 1 minute.
5) Divide evenly among four 6-ounce dessert cups. Chill until set, about 6 hours or overnight. 
6) Before serving, beat cream with a small amount of sugar until soft peaks form. Top mousse with a dollop of whipped cream and a few slivered almonds (or crushed peppermint candies if using peppermint extract) and serve.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Good Weekend Home Tour

Happy first day of autumn! After a very hot weekend, we had some cool, cloudy days Monday and Tuesday, but today it's back up into the mid-70's, sunny and absolutely gorgeous! I have this week off to enjoy a "staycation." I have so much time I have to take before the end of the year, otherwise I'll lose it. Therefore, I'm taking a week of this month, a week off next month, and more time around the holidays.

Last weekend Paul and I enjoyed my favorite yearly home tour -- the perfect start to my week off.

Sorry, I only captured pictures of two of the homes on this year's home tour. With so many people coming and going, it's impossible to get photos without people in them -- and indoor photography is strictly prohibited. I understand why, but it's a shame because the homes this year were decorated so well. I would have loved to share them with you.

This house was particularly spectacular and was my husband's favorite. A new home, it boasts 4,925 square feet and is Gold LEED certified. Some of the highlights are a floating staircase made of what we think is walnut, a sleeping porch and a gorgeous yard with swimming pool and fire pit (photos below).

This next home is larger than it looks at 3,200 square feet. It is an older, restored home featuring 10-foot ceilings, a staircase made of 200-year-old wormy chestnut, banisters and newel posts from an 1800's farmhouse, and interior beveled glass windows. See the close-up shot of the front porch light fixture below. Isn't it great?

The following houses were not on the tour, but were homes we drove or walked by as we went from house to house on the tour.

I love the color of the house below; it's a nice shade of blue with a reddish door and it has great stonework around the front porch. I also like the arbor and the pitch of the roof over the front porch.

This next cottage is so charming with its arched doorway, stone insets and wood door. I love the stucco and beam detail over the front porch as well. The colors look lovely with the brick.

Another cute home ...

I think the next house is new, built in the style of a 20's bungalow. But I could be wrong. It might be an older home that was renovated. I like the colors, including the dark mullions on the windows.

Not all homes in this neighborhood are small, mind you. I gravitate toward the smaller, more charming bungalows and cottages; they're my favorites. But many of the old homes (and new ones) are huge, like this one.

There's also a lot of renovation going on. The house below is at the end of a very cute street, closer to the commercial area of the neighborhood. I'm glad to see this house being restored. It has a lot of potential. The bungalow below it, which is across the street from this house, is receiving an addition in the back.

After the home tour, Paul and I did some antique hunting, but left empty handed. It has been a while since I've had the urge to go antiquing. I've kind of lost the drive to collect things. Maybe that's because we've run out of places to display and store things. I've been more into paring down lately, getting rid of things we don't use. Nevertheless, it was fun to rummage around a huge antiques mall. Paul made me laugh several times, as he always does, trying on old ladies' hats and cracking jokes about some of the crazy things you see in antiques stores. It was fun.

Then, since we had worked up an appetite, we headed to a vegan restaurant we discovered back in July when I had to pick up Paul at the airport. The food is all vegan, mostly raw and can be made gluten-free (any of the sandwiches can be made with a collard leaf instead of their homemade bread). 

Paul had lasagna made with layers of crisp zucchini "noodles," sun-dried tomato sauce, mushrooms and cashew-basil cheese, served with a beautiful side salad. It was amazing! I enjoyed a living burrito, with sunflower seed refried beans, cauliflower rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, onion, tomato, sprouts and cashew sour cream wrapped in a collard leaf. On the side I had the broccoli Waldorf salad with apple, celery, walnuts, raisins, red onion and homemade cashew mayo. Both of our meals were amazing, full of flavor and very filling. I could eat like that every day. 

For dessert, Paul had the turtle cake made with Thai coconut, chocolate and cashews in a chocolate-pecan crust. I had the pudding made with Thai coconut and raw cacao, sweetened with maple syrup and topped with organic berries.

Mmmm, this is giving me a serious chocolate craving. I think I'll head into the kitchen to make a new dessert recipe: chocolate mousse (the non-vegan, not healthy kind). If it's a success, I'll post the recipe.

Monday, September 7, 2015

New Shades for the Dining Room

 You may recall a post I did about window coverings when we renovated our mudroom last spring. I requested several natural fiber shade samples from Smith & Noble, and my husband and I narrowed down the choices to two: Shikoku Black and Lhasa Cocoa. One evening after supper, I was showing my mother-in-law the samples as we sat at the dinner table. It was then that I realized how great the Shikoku Black shades would look in the dining room -- a room that hasn't had any window coverings the entire 17 years we've lived in the house. Rather than spend the money on shades for the mudroom (we'll get some less expensive ones down the road), I changed direction and decided we should invest in some shades for the dining room.

As is typical, I delayed ordering the shades for a few months. Then I received a postcard in the mail from S&N about a "buy two, get one free" special they were offering through August. The timing was perfect. The dining room has three windows, all about the same size (though in an old house, nothing is uniform), so one window covering would be free. 

I assisted my husband in measuring each window (I held the tape measure and carefully recorded each measurement), then went online to place the order. I decided to go with the cordless natural woven flat shades in Shikoku Black. Our custom order arrived sooner than anticipated, which is always a nice surprise, and my husband hung them that very night -- which was an even more wonderful surprise (I think he wanted to get them done before Labor Day weekend so he wouldn't have the task hanging over him). 

They look beautiful -- simple and tailored. I like the cordless feature and they're easy to use. Since this is a room we don't need privacy in, I know I won't be raising and lowering them a bunch. A coworker friend who used to be in marketing at a window coverings company warned me that over time cordless shades can begin to wear down and malfunction if used frequently. I had already placed the order, but I'm not too concerned since these shades will mostly remain at the same height.



Before I go, I wanted to show you a close up of this gorgeous orchid plant I bought at Whole Foods! At $12.99, it was a much better deal than fresh cut flowers. The orchids should last a good while. I bought a different colored flower for the living room. I haven't had luck getting any of my orchids to rebloom, so I end up buying new ones. If anyone has any tips for getting orchids to bloom, please share.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Park Slope Brownstone

Enjoy these photos of a lovely brownstone in Park Slope, NY, by architect Michael Schmitt. Old meets new in beautiful ways ... the woodwork, the curved doorways, the wood floors and  exposed brick. I could do some serious cooking in that kitchen. The exterior of the back of the home is modern, but not too much so. What do you think? Is this home your style?

Devon Banks, Photographer

Monday, August 24, 2015

Finally, An Effective Mosquito Repellent

Here we are almost at the end of summer. Sorry it has taken me so long to share this with you, but better late than never. Thanks to one of my husband's coworkers, we learned about an excellent product that repels mosquitoes extremely effectively. It is Thermacell mosquito repellent. The product line includes appliances (like the one above), lanterns and torches. One device covers a 15 x 15-foot (225 square foot) area. They are great for use at home or camping.

We own two appliances in the Woodlands Camo print. The product has no open flame, is portable, easy to use and odorless (though I can detect the slightest odor, which is actually pleasant smelling, in my opinion). The best thing is that Thermacell WORKS!

Thermacell products have received numerous awards and are used by the US government for troops on military bases around the world.

Thermacell products are powered by a single butane cartridge, which provides the heat that activates the patented repellent mat. Both the cartridge and mat are refillable.

The repellent is allethrin -- a copy of what that naturally occurs in chrysanthemum flowers -- which repels mosquitoes, black flies, and no-see-ums. It is safe for humans and pets.

Ever since we started using Thermacell, we've been able to enjoy summer days and evenings outdoors without the bother of biting mosquitoes. This is especially nice at dusk, when mosquitoes are particularly active. Living in the south, we deal with mosquitoes several months out of the year. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have this product because it allows us to enjoy more time on our porch and in our yard during the dreaded "mosquito months." We even took it last evening to a jazz concert held in a heavily wooded park, and we didn't get any bites -- and neither did the people around us, I'll bet!

This is not a sponsored post. The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cleaning Vases

I've been using my mini vases quite a lot this summer, with all our wonderful dahlias for cutting. When water sits in the vase for a period of time, a film develops at the water line and it doesn't come off with normal washing.

A good, easy way to remove hard water stains like this is to fill the vase with a 50/50 combination of plain white vinegar and water and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then take a soft brush and scrub a little, then rinse -- the stain is gone.  

This little bottle brush is handy for cleaning vases and things you can't get a wash cloth into. I think I ordered a set of three brushes in different sizes years ago, and now I can't remember from where. The tip of this brush is a soft cottony material, and the bristles provide just enough friction without scratching. The result is a sparkling clean glass vase!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Perfect Linens: Special Offer

Not long ago I wrote about some new sheets I had purchased, and received quite a few comments (sometimes I'm surprised  by the topics readers find interesting). Then, about a month later, I was contacted by Perfect Linens asking if I would like to try a set of their Second Skin sheets. Realizing the sheets I had just purchased would probably not be very long-lasting, I readily agreed to give their Second Skin sheets a try.

Perfect Linens sells sheets, and only sheets. They pride themselves on describing their sheets in terms of weight and feel (rather than strictly by thread count or other somewhat confusing terms). They offer customers a unique way to select sheets that are right for them. I have to say, I've never thought about sheets in quite that way. 

They divide their products into three categories: light, cool and supple. The Second Skin sheets I received are described as their most supple, made of durable, enzyme-treated 400-threadcount Egyptian cotton. They come in white with a choice of three decorative embroidered borders. I chose the fern pattern, which my husband and I really like!

I washed the new sheets (using the special sample-sized bottle of Linen Wash that came with them) and made up the bed. The first thing I noticed was how much more substantial they are than the sheets I had just purchased and wrote about here. They feel great to sleep in, and have become softer with each subsequent washing. The flat sheet is substantially longer than most, allowing plenty of room to tuck under at the foot and turn back at the head of the bed, to show off that pretty embroidered pattern. I can honestly say these are the nicest quality sheets we've had on our bed.

As a special offer to readers of My Little Bungalow, Perfect Linens is offering $50.00 off your purchase of Perfect Linens when you use the discount code LittleBungalow50 at checkout.

Learn more about their products and what makes them unique at

This is a sponsored post, but the opinions I have expressed about the product are my own. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Strawberry-Watermelon Pops

Look who showed up at the photo shoot! Ella and Henry were very interested in what I had to photograph -- a delicious strawberry-watermelon popsicle -- and they were hoping for a taste. These fruity pops are a delicious summer afternoon treat, though I did find the prep to be a bit labor intensive, particularly the blending of the fruit. My blender doesn't work very well without liquid (I would love a Vitamix blender, but maybe they need liquid also in order to work well?). If I make these again, I might try a food processor. I also did not discard all of the fruit solids because I wanted a bit of it in the popsicles, for substance. I hope you give these tasty pops a try before the summer is over!

Strawberry-Watermelon Pops

  • 2 pounds seedless watermelon, diced
  • 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
1. Working in batches, puree watermelon in a blender. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (discard solids). Puree strawberries; add to bowl. Add sugar and lime juice and stir until sugar has completely dissolved.  
2. Pour mixture into ice-pop molds and insert sticks. Freeze until solid, 2 1/2 to 3 hours (or up to 1 week).

Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer Weekends in Pictures

These pretty yellow dahlias from our garden are perfect for cutting ...

This Salvadoran cabbage relish, called Curtido, is made regionally and sold locally at the most charming farmers market in our city (cobblestone streets and beautifully displayed produce, baked goods, cheeses, coffee, cold-pressed juices ... need I say more?). 
The seller had samples of this type and a few other varieties to try. So yummy!

I also bought this beautiful Swiss chard, perfect for making a stew with lentils and garbanzo beans, at the same farmers market ...

This trio of vintage, rusty fence finials, which we bought at an antiques store years ago, graces our kitchen windowsill, and caught my eye as I photographed the dahlias ...

Insalata caprese: slices of fresh mozzarella and ripe tomatoes with some fresh basil from our garden, coarse salt and freshly ground pepper ... the perfect Saturday lunch with a few Kalamata olives on the side.

And a book I'm reading about a border collie named Orson by Jon Katz (I'm a sucker for any story that's dog related) ...

How have you been enjoying your summer weekends? Please share! I'd love to hear from you.

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