Candace Ott
I have discovered that I have an insatiable love for books. Last night my husband and I went on one of our favorite cheap, random dates: a trip to Borders by our apartment for hot cocoa and browsing.

I had a coupon to buy one get one 33% off - so of course I had to put it to use and bought two new books I've been eye-balling lately! I love getting into a good novel now and then... but for the most part, my books of choice are either informational and/or inspirational.

After a good hour and a half, my husband and I made our way home where we quickly realized that we have quite a few books to read still. While I'm proud to say that I managed to read a good handful in the past few months, I still have a good handful on my need-to-read list, and buying two more only added to that list.

I made a goal with my husband last night, that we would both try to read one book a month before setting foot in Borders, or Barnes & Noble again. It's going to be difficult mostly for me to do (the not setting foot in Borders part), but looking around my apartment right now and seeing the 3 books on the table I'm somehow reading all at once, it may not take me too long to do. :-) Once my goal is complete, I'll try to share any books that are must-reads for anyone interested!
Candace Ott
Costco was out of this certain fish I wanted, but right next to the empty space I spotted shrimp! For fun, I decided to make shrimp cocktail sauce, and surprise my husband with an appetizer before dinner.  Below is a really easy recipe I found online and had to share!

  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. horseradish, heaping
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
Mix well. Refrigerate any left over. And that's it!
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Candace Ott
For my husband's 28th birthday, he requested homemade pumpkin cheesecake. This fun recipe is really easy, and fun to make!

16 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin (Click Here for cooked pumpkin recipe)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 graham cracker crust

Blend cream cheese, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl until it reaches a thick smooth consistency.

Add eggs in and blend until smooth.

Remove 1 cup of the plain batter and spread evenly into the pie crust.

Next, add the rest of the ingredients (pumpkin and spices) to the remaining batter and blend smooth.

Spread the pumpkin batter carefully over the plain batter, and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Cool, then chill in the fridge for 3 hours or more. Serve with cool whip or whipped cream, and enjoy!
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Candace Ott
So I had promised to post about my annual tradition of making pumpkin pie from scratch! Let me first say that it is not something for the quick cook... because this recipe takes plenty of time and patience (unless that is, you decide to use canned pumpkin and store-bought pie crust). :-)

First, the pumpkin. I've used anything from carving pumpkins to small pie-pumpkins at the store. Doesn't matter, they all taste the same, but the larger ones are a bit more work.

You'll want to cut the pumpkin into halves and remove the seeds and fiber. Once the inside of the pumpkin is clean, place the pumpkin halfs face-down in a deep baking pan, and fill the pan with 1/4" - 1/2" of water.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, cover the pan with foil, and bake for about an hour - or until tender. With larger pumpkins, an extra 15-30 minutes can be added to the baking time.
Once the pumpkins are baked, scoop the pumpkin from the shells and mash until there are no lumps remaining. I found that pureeing the pumpkin afterward in a blender is the best.

Okay! So now you have your homemade pumpkin puree! This is the fun part. Usually I'll make a homemade pie crust, but store-bought is good too for time sake. This recipe makes enough pie mix for a 9-inch pie.

One 9-inch pie crust
2 eggs
2 cups cooked pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 2/3 cups evaporated milk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Beat eggs slightly in a deep bowl, and beat in remaining ingredients.
Pour pie filling into the pie crust, bake for 15 minutes. (I like to sprinkle nutmeg on top as well)

Reduce heat to 350 degrees, then bake for another 45 minutes. Bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, then enjoy!
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Candace Ott
Monday I officially became a full-time housewife.  My year-long job contract came to an end, and so 5 days, one cleaned apartment, 3 loads of laundry, a refreshed garden and 5 pies later... I'm sitting here contemplating what I want to do with my spare time.  A couple items came to mind:
  • Start my own business in Freelance Graphic Design
  • Learn how to successfully grow a vegetable garden
  • Sell my artwork
  • Learn to crochet (for real this time!)
  • Improve/expand my cooking abilities
  • Write a children's book
  • Create my own cartoon comic 
  • Become a fitness instructor
These are some of the ideas that have come to mind.  I'm fortunate enough to have a loving, supportive husband that wants me to take this time to follow my heart and find my calling.  I also recently had a great discussion with a friend who inspired me to start building up my blog and re-kindle my love for art.  She is an amazing homemaker, and I greatly encourage checking out her blog! Happy Homemaker Me

As for my blog, I'm hoping to really kick-start it into gear, sharing my journey and discoveries as an inexperienced gardener, new cook, and budding artist!