Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Bread...Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice!

The bees around here are starting to react to the cold weather. I don't see many honey bees at the remaining flowers now, but this little fellow clutched our screen window for two days before expiring.

On cold mornings, the carpenter bees are drowsy beneath the marigold petals until very late indeed. They seem indifferent to handling if you're inclined to pick one up, but I don't like to bother them.

The late autumn plants, like my blackberry lilies, are going to seed. Their leathery pods are starting to split... reveal the shiny, pearl-like black seeds within.

The neighborhood squirrels have been busy, too, with last-minute preparations. This one inspects a mulched bed...

...before bounding off into my marigolds.

I found a cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni) on one of my indoor plants.

He twisted and turned in typical looper manner (body contortions, like an inch worm), looking for a safe place...

...before grasping the petals that would give him safe passage. They love chrysanthemums.

The beautiful ginkgo tree across the street is at its yearly peak, in our opinion. We have three horizontal windows above our bed, and we love to look at it in the morning, when the early morning sun hits the leaves.

Our lilac bushes have taken on a lovely gold tone, too. They're one of my favorite fall leaves.

I frequently bring them in for our enjoyment.

I love to bring the outside in. I've got my little pottery dishes around, filled with acorns, seeds, and leaves.

I recently made a fall display for our dining room table. I set these fir seeds out on a bed of moss...

...with dried berries and leaves...

...and a fall pumpkin or two.

I stacked everything on a glass cake stand. A miniature fall landscape!

I love to have fall displays like this. It's so cheerful!

I recently finished a knitting project that I've been working on, off and on (mostly off!), for the past two years. It's a blanket, knit with Cascade 220 (100% wool), in a heathery oatmeal color. The throw is ruched, which means that I knitted a straight stretch of stockinette, then did a row of increases, more stockinette, and a row of decreases. The 'ruched' section blouses out as a result.

I felt like the finished blanket was a bit bland.

I decided to knit some white wool "X"s across every other row of stockinette. I prefer it this way, I think!

You can really see the ruching when the blanket is folded.

It's a nice couch throw, perfect for chilly nights. Having said that, I don't think I'll ever knit a blanket again...what a job!

It's fall, and 'tis the season for pumpkin. After much searching, baking, and recipe tweaking, I've come up with a pumpkin bread recipe that meets my stringent requirements: moist, spicy, flavorful, and soft. It's absolutely wonderful and, topped with a yummy cream cheese frosting, a must-bake around here in the fall and winter months.

Perfect Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from
Makes two loaves

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans. In one bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugars until blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin puree mixture and combine until just blended. Split batter between two loaf pans and bake until golden brown, around 50 minutes.

This bread is SO MOIST.

If you'd like, you can lighten it up by reducing the sugar to two cups and swapping 1/2 cup applesauce for the oil. You won't miss it!

I top this bread with my familiar cream cheese frosting: a dollop of cream cheese, a dash of vanilla, a mound of powdered sugar, and a dribble of milk, all whisked together with a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice.

Give it a won't be disappointed!

Have a great week!


  1. Yummy looking blanket and bread!
    If you only have 1 loaf pan, can you just cut the
    the ingredient list by half?

  2. I found your blog from the ravely group (mass ave) and I love that your a country girl living in the city also. Love your blog and so glad I found it.

  3. Thanks, Sara! I love reading comments like yours. :)

  4. That blanket looks absolutely stunning. Even as a simple project just the volume of knitting required is impressive and the simplicity is quite charming.

  5. Yes, it was definitely a bigger project than I thought it might be! But it's the perfect lap blanket for the couch...I'm glad. But probably, more glad that it's done and I don't have to feel guilty about not working on it!