Friday, November 14

My "Gratitude" Tree

Happy November! Boy, I am getting excited and very into the Spirit of the Season this year!
Yes, I know!.... this early?!  You bet!  I've been working hard, bargain hunting and putting the last touches on several projects, that I will soon be sharing with you! 

On this one, I will admit,  I completely copied the idea! Yes, I'm honest enough to admit it and, actually sorry,  I hadn't thought of it on my own, first.  However,that being said,  they are drastically different. The idea is all that is similar.  Have you ever made and kept up a Gratitude tree?  If you have, Yay for you.  I am impressed! I keep up a Gratitude journal, but I have never before made a Gratitude tree, one started in the beginning of November so it can be added to daily!
What an awesome way to remind ourselves, and all that visit, how very Blessed we truly are, as we ready are house and cupboards for Thanksgiving!

This is how my Gratitude Tree came together!

I rather like it a lot! It makes me smile and "count my blessings" several times throughout the day, as I pass by it.  I have even taken to asking friends and family to fill out a tag of whatever they are grateful for and to add it to my tree. So far, everyone was pleased to do so!  There you go, another thing I'm grateful for!

If you Google "Gratitude Tree" or "Thanksgiving Tree" you will see, there are as many different ways to make one as there are things to be thankful for.  So, this is my way! 

A Christmas tree is only a Christmas tree if you decorate it to be such. This cute little burlap wrapped pine tree I thought fit the bill just perfectly for my little Gratitude tree! I hope you and enjoy it and find some way to remember all that you have to be thankful for. If you don't find yourself in a thankful place, well then, you have my sympathy and prayers.
Many Blessing to you, Friends!

I'll be sharing this post with:
Courtney @ French Country Cottage, Cindy @ My Romantic Home, Natasha's Say G'day Saturday, Kerryanne @ Shabbilicious Friday , Sherry@ The Charm of Home  Alison @ Nancherrow's Fridays Unfolded  Ramona @ Create With Joy's Friendship Friday  Sarah @Holiday Frugal Tips  What Mommy Does'Weekend Wind Down Jamielyn @ I Heart Nap Time Beverly @ How Sweet The Sound   Aimee@ It's Overflowing  Cheri @ It's So Very Cheri Vanessa @ Nifty Thrifty Things    Kim @ Savvy Southern Style: WOW us Wednesday   Marty @A Stroll Thru Life
Pamela @ From My Front Porch to Yours:Treasure Hunt Thursday  Nici @ Posed Perfection: Creative Ways  Richella @ Imparting Grace: Grace At Home

File under: #thanksgiving, #gratitudetree Thanksgiving, Gratitude Tree Thankful DIY thanksgiving tree crafts decor holidays seasons celebrations faith

Thursday, November 6

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins~A Healthy Twist

Happy November!  Are you enjoying the Fall? This time of year is so exciting for me. I'm loving the cooler weather and all the changes that come with it! I hope you are enjoying it, as well. Ok,  on with Recipe! You know, there all kinds of fancy desserts on the internet, and heaven knows I am tempted to go for the WOW factor, as well.  The truth of the matter is that the best recipe I have to share with you in this month's Peanut Butter challenge, or for the Fall weather for you and your Family to enjoy, for that matter, (as mine does) is a muffin.

It's my own recipe, I have tweaked here and there over the years. It is really quite simple. No appliances necessary, just a good, hot oven. 

I am always trying to find different ways to eliminate the use of oils and fats in recipes, yet still get that rich tasty flavor. This one really does deliver that. That being said, my entry to this months Peanut Butter Bash challenge, for Peanut Butter and Pumpkin is a really yummy, fairly light Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin!

I know what you are thinking...there's no peanut butter in that title! Right?!  Well, yes, you are right. But, may I just say many of us use peanut butter as an ingredient often, and it doesn't always have to be the star of the recipe, but it sure does help make a great end result.  My "go to" on almost all my muffins is:
 1 cup Oats
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup flour 
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Now, understand that is the base for a great muffin that uses 1/2 the flour and lowfat buttermilk.  I do tend to embellish it quite a bit.  I LOVE Pumpkin everything, almost. I am especially partial to Trader Joe's Organic canned pumpkin puree

So, I'm just going to get right down to this recipe! You may think it sounds a little wonky, but I guarantee you you will love it and so will your friends and family!

First of all, bake in a hot oven... Preheat your oven to 400F.   So as I stated above:  Soak 1 cup of Oats, Quick or Regular, in 1 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup of Applesauce. For this Recipe add 1 cup of Pure pumpkin puree, combine well and set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together, not to much, though. just combine.
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 large Tablespoons of creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup each white and brown sugar

Add to your Oat mixture, combine and set aside.

Over a nice size piece of wax paper, in your sifter (if you don't have a sifter you can combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, I do recommend that you whisk them until combined and aerated. 
1-1/2 heaping cups of All Purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pumpkin spices to taste.


I really like Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice mix (and no, I don't get compensated by Trader Joe's) LOL
I use 1 large Tablespoon of their pumpkin spice mix.(so, if you are a leveler, 1-1/2)
If you don't have any pre-made spice mix, here's a great combination of spices to get you the same flavor combine  Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves and Ginger. Personally, I  use more cinnamon and nutmeg then cloves and ginger, because I buy them fresh and in bulk, so the flavors are strong. But, I believe you could do equal portions of each and get a great flavor, just the same.

Combine dry ingredients with wet.

I'm showing you this picture for one reason.  I firmly believe that Most every muffin and/or biscuit or scone is 10 times better when you combine the wet and dry ingredients By Hand. And, I don't mean a rapid stir, just a gentle kind of folding things together, just until combined.  Now you are ready to fold in your Chocolate Chips. I use 1-1/2 cups, usually, but if there's alot of kids around, I add a whole 12 oz bag! You get the idea?! It's very flexible. I've added chopped walnuts before and it was wonderful. For my parents, I pour enough batter to make 6 muffins aside before adding the chocolate chips, because they prefer Pumpkin, Raisin Walnut Muffins. anything goes! Fill your prepared muffin tins 2/3 of the way and bake for 8-10 minutes. That's it!  

I hope you enjoy my humble offering and give it a try! They are great to have in the house and wonderful and easy to make & share with Friends and Family!  They also just scream Autumn's here!! 

If you want to join in on the Peanut Butter Bash Fun, Contact Miranda, by email  or join our Facebook group Here

I hope you all Fell back gently last week and that you are enjoying a Blessed week! Thanks so much for popping by! More to come soon! 

If,  Heaven forbid,  My Recipe was not your cup of tea, please check out all the wonderful creations below.

I'm sharing this post with:

Thursday, October 30

Reminders and Save the Date!

Good morning, friends! I hope it is a beautiful morning where you are, too!! Just a quick post with a couple reminders!

That's right,  next Thursday I will be adding a new recipe to an incredibly gifted group of fellow Bloggers!  There is still time, if you want to join in on the fun! We have grown, already! As a matter of fact, I think we have almost double from last month!  So, if you want to join in you can either contact me or e-mail Miranda at and request to join the Peanut Butter Bash Facebook Group! The first Thursday of each month we will post a dessert using Peanut Butter and a mystery ingredient! 

One other piece of news to share, not one that should be surprising, but more of a gentle reminder. 
Yes, it is this weekend!!

I am hoping to be back later today to share another fun little project I just finished up for my sister! Have a wonderful Thursday!
Blessings always

file under: Fall, Autumn, daylight savings, #pbbash, cooking, decor, 

Saturday, October 25

New Blog Look & A Blessed Day

Good Morning! Well, It feels a bit strange, here. For those of you who are new, I have just radically overhauled the look of my Blog! And, for those of you who have been with me for quite awhile, what do you think?

I have received more than a few comments and/or e-mails that Shoestring Elegance's "old" blog background was dark, and perhaps very difficult to read, especially for those of you who were viewing from Mobile devices. So, I dived in and changed to a lighter background with dark print. 

I'm feeling a bit like a fish out of water! Very new and different for me to get used to. With that said, I'm not sure I am done yet! The trials of being an OCD'er!  I would love your feedback about the change. It is far more for your reading pleasure than for me, personally. 

None the less, today is a wonderful day! Yesterday and today I have been honored and Blessed with the task, of once again, handling Decor for my church's Baptismal Celebration dinner!! So once again with great pleasure, I got to play with roses, I mean, arrange some absolutely beautiful roses for the tables at the celebration dinner! Aren't they stunning? Who would not want to play, ahemm, arrange such beauty?!!  

I hope you you all enjoy the new look, here! Please let me know in the comments.  I am off to finish up with my decor for the celebration. I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Saturday! Oh my goodness, I almost forgot to tell you, IT'S RAINING, here, this morning!!! Gonna definitely have to do some dancing it, while I can! :)
Many Blessings to you all, and much gratitude for you taking time to come over for a visit! I appreciate you all so much!

Sharing with:

By the way, if you were wondering, the beautiful new header on my Blog was created by and offered free, from the extremely talented Linnea, at Vintage Made For You.

file under: Fall, Autumn, decor, faith, roses, beauty, new blogs, blog looks, headers, templates

Friday, October 24

Shoestring Is Under Construction! Please be Patient!

Shoestring Elegance is getting a new, and hopefully, Reader-friendly look! 

"Under Construction"

Please be patient with me, while I turn a few more screws and make some adjustments.

Thank you,


Thursday, October 2

Dipped Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies "Peanut Butter Bash"

Good Morning! I was recently asked if I was interested in joining a cooking challenge group.  The challenge was,  to join a Peanut Butter plus an additional ingredient recipe link up event.  I love to cook and enjoy a good challenge, so I thought, why not? This, now, from this point forward, will be  called "The Peanut Butter Bash". I get to ink up with some other awesome Blogging ladies and cook and share what we made. Kind of exciting! So, here is the hitch: the additional ingredient! This month, I must say, was fun for me, because I picked "CHOCOLATE" to be the additional ingredient for the month. We are going to be doing this on a monthly basis. Every month, on the first Thursday, Peanut Butter and another ingredient. Wish me luck , My Friends.

Each of us wrote a normal Blog post, sharing a recipe with you! The difference this time was to all agree on a theme, and we did! I think you will Love to know that all of our recipes include Peanut Butter and Chocolate! Yumm!  I have worked on and fine tuned a recipe that I think you will really enjoy. I like it. My family & friends enjoy it, too. I hope that you will enjoy it, too!

I make these Soft Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies several times every year, it has become a Family favorite for us. I don't really remember how I got it to this recipe, other than to say, I probably started at some point with a recipe that I wasn't completely happy with and just change amounts and removed and added some ingredients until I came up with this. I hope you enjoy them!

So you start of with creaming
1/2 cup of butter (I prefer unsalted, but that's up to you)
3/4 cup & 1 Tablespoon of Chunky Peanut Butter (Natural or Organic works real well here, but it's not necessary)
I cup packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup White Granulated Sugar
Get this well combined and add
2 Large Eggs, one at a time
then, add 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons of Corn Syrup, I use Karo's (this seems to help the cookie stay a little chewier, as         opposed to crunchy)
2 Tablespoons Cold Water
Blend on Medium for about 90 seconds, scraping your bowl a couple of times.

In a separate bowl, Combine 2-1/2 cups of All Purpose Flour (I use Gold Medal, but again, you can decide for yourself on that)
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 full Teaspoon Baking Powder
& a small pinch of salt, if you don't think your peanut butter is salty enough

With your mixer on low, add 1/2 cup of your dry ingredients, until well incorporated. Save the last 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour mixture to add 1-2 cups of chocolate chips (depending on your personal preference)  I use a cup and a half in mine.

Especially, these ones, because I am going to dip one side in Melted Chocolate. Yep that's what I said, even...more...Chocolate!

When your batter is complete it resemble the picture to the left. Cover it with Saran wrap and place in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

Once they've chilled, roll approximately 2-3 teaspoons of batter into  ball and then roll in granulated sugar.  ( Don't you love that little picture of the ball of dough in the sugar? I don't know why, but it just makes me smile) Back to the recipe.
Put on cookie sheet and press flat to about 1/3 of an inch thickness.  For this size cookie,
I like to bake them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet @ 350-360 degrees F.

                                                                 The end result  should look something like this!
 (Can't you just taste them?!)

If you want to dress them up, or just push their yumminess over the edge, you are gonna want to dip

them in Chocolate!

This is much more easy than most people think. But, it certainly will give them that wow factor if you are taking them somewhere or serving them for dessert.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon Crisco or other non-tasting oil, in a pyrex bowl over a low heated pot of water. Make sure you stir right away, because it really only takes a minute or two.

So, after all your hard work, I hope you will be quite pleased to have something like this to show from your Labors!  I know I always am.  Just make sure you have plenty of people around to help you eat them or you could get yourself in big trouble! So, that's it for me! I hope you enjoy this recipe and will give them a try! But, If they are not your cup of tea, you may want to pop over to one of the other ladies entries.

Thank you so much for spending time with me here today.
I Hope you are having a wonderful week and looking forward to a great weekend!
Blessings, Always,

Do you want to join in the Peanut Butter Bash fun?  If so, email Miranda at and request to join the Peanut Butter Bash facebook group! The first Thursday of each month we post a dessert with peanut butter and a mystery ingredient. This month’s ingredients were peanut butter and chocolate. Lots of fun and lots of calories!

Here are the other peanut butter and chocolate creations!

I'll also be sharing this recipe with:
Pamela @ From My Front Porch To Yours     Nici @ Posed Perfection Savvy Southern Style Imparting Grace    Moore Or Less Cooking    French Country Cottage    The Life of Jennifer Dawn  All Things With Purpose   Rooted In Thyme   Nancherrow's Fridays Unfolded   My Romantic Home The Charm of Home   DIY Vintage Chic   Create With Joy    The 36th Avenue   Nifty Thrifty Things It's Overflowing   Treasure Box Tuesday with Yesterfood

This Recipe was Featured By the Incredibly talented Gator Mommy, here!
Weekend Recipe Link Up Party

File under: Chocolate, cookies, peanut butter, dessert. sweets, treats, Nestle, toll house, baking, #pbbash #chocolate dipped #peanutbutter #cookies 

Tuesday, September 30

How To Make A Beautiful Fall Harvest Bushel

Have you ever noticed when you start doing crafts, or celebrating the Seasons more, around your home,  that you find inspiration everywhere? Things that you may not have looked at or thought about twice before now come to life in your imagination?  I certainly have found that to be the case for me & I love it.  

Autumn is such a wonderful time of the year, for me. I enjoy the shorter, cooler days with baked goods in the oven and soups on the stove.  So, for me, It is imperative that my home celebrate that love of the Season, too. That being said, What do you think of my beautiful Fall Harvest Bushel? Yes, it's a full bushel, not a half and certainly not a peck! I'm laughing as I type this. I learned more about bushels in the last couple of weeks than I am sure I will ever need to know!
I don't know if you have anything like this where you live or not, but here in Sonoma County, California we have a wonderful Facebook group, called 

"Sonoma County Antique, Chic, and Unique" Don't you just love that name?! It is a fantastic resource for great finds of all kinds!  From higher-end Antique pieces of furniture, to your very basic "just cleaned out the barn, come and get it" kinda buys. The latter is my favorite!  Something like what I lucked out on in the picture below.  I bought a fantastic, truly antique, old crate (that I love), my unfinished, raw bushel and  cute little tray, that the seller had, actually, begun to paint with her own homemade chalk paint awhile back!  Score! That'll save me some time, I hope.
So, the big question, How much did these treasures cost me?...   I paid a whopping $15, for all three! Can you feel my smile?!
My mother often says to me, "now, don't you feel guilty for paying so little?" My answer is always a resounding, "Nope, not one bit!"  Here are the truly, still dirty, "befores"!

As you can see, I still had apples and pears, from my crisp baking, with more to make!

I'll be sharing more about the crate and tray with you later. For today, I want to tell you about this bushel! I fell in love with it immediately. It's not an easy to find one with the wooden handle on it, like this one.  The handle that I knew, in my mind instantly,  was going to be painted red! So, here is what I started with. Isn't it cute?
In my minds eye, I could see it in a darker wood, filled with blossoms and fruit and berries and mini pumpkins!! Full of Fall's Harvest! A little something like this!

But, alas,  it didn't come that way! So, what did I do to get it like this? That what I'm, going to share with you today! You know those old oak barrels that look so gorgeous with a beautiful dark stain and shiney finish?  I was convinced I could achieve the same look with this little Bushel! I think I came pretty close.  Close enough for me, anyway.  First, the color.  After some looking around I settled on none other than, Red Mahogany stain and seal from MinWax. I thought that would work out perfect!

I began, with some extra, durable gloves and a great old rag! Little by little rubbing the stain in, filling in all the little nooks and crannies. (I also used a foam brush to get into all the little hard to reach spots)  Finally,  I saw the color I was looking for.  Once I had, I continued with it inside and out, top and bottom,  until there wasn't a hint of its former color.  I love how the simple addition of a stain brought out the grain of the wood,  like I had hoped it would. Once done, it had to sit for a day or two to absorb and dry. When it was completely dry I covered it completely with a couple coats of Polyurethane, to give it that nice sheen. 
The end result was this! It was exactly what I had hoped! I pondered whether I should paint the band around the center or the top red, but decided against it after seeing the way it had dried, I was quite please with the dark wood look of it.
But one thing was for sure, I was painting that lovely wooden handle Red!  Seen here, below, with  red bow tied around it while (I was still deciding on the trim) and something like this helps me get an idea of how it would look.
I picked up some of the cutest little pumpkins for putting in and displaying in front of the Bushel. Aren't the adorable?  One of the easiest and funnest parts of putting this together, was being able o use the beautiful leaves, from the grapevine, that lines my driveway. 
They are so gorgeous. I couldn't buy anything as beautiful as the colors that these are right now. I picked the varying colors I wanted to used and laid them on the table and just smoothed them out or 'polished' them a little with a clean rag.  

Someone told me, a long time ago, and I don't remember why, that if you want your leaves to stay, and dry beautifully. to take a hammer and hit the end of the stem.  As I said, I don't remember exactly why, but I do it and it seems to work quite well.

I put a few different kinds of fresh apples, that I had on hand, on the end of bamboo skewers and incorporated them into the blooms, leaves and hypericum.

I, generally, don't like pictures taken with a flash at night, but I absolutely loved the way the colors looked in this image. So, I kept it in.
Once I had it just how wanted, it was time to pour myself a cup of tea and enjoy the display. I know I've said this before, but I really do think this is one of my favorite before and afters!

As much as I love the tablescape this made and enjoyed looking over it. The ultimate question of 'where will it live when I need the table' was in my head. And, honestly, God just gave me instant inspiration on this one! I just finished taking the final images I wanted to share with you here,  and I looked over at my ladder display & thought to myself. " that will need to be redone for Fall " & right then, I  realized where my little bushel was going to live! So there it sits, first thing one sees when coming through my front door. 
I removed the Hypericum and some of the fresh elements so it won't require regular tending. I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the new Season and celebrating it in some way at your house, as well!
 What a wonderful way to bring the outdoors in and welcome all to your house, saying I care and I decorated for you! ( For me, too, but that's just between us) 

Happy Autumn 2014! This will only happen once, so let's all make the most of it and enjoy!
Many Blessings to you all for this beautiful, colorful season upon us!

All be sharing this post with:   
This post was Featured by the very wonderful and talented, Joy @ Yesterfood.


File under:
Fall decor, Autumn love, DIY, Autumn Colors, Fall Tablescapes

Saturday, September 27

Just a Fun Saturday Morning Share!

I don't usually post quick little fun Daily things, here.  I share them over on Shoestring Elegance's Facebook page!

But, that being said, this was too much fun for me not to share with you!

I'm always so excited to see a store go all out with their decorations! (especially, if its actually the right Season)!

So you can imagine my delight, when I popped over to our local Safeway, yesterday and came upon this display!

What a truly pleasant surprise!

I imagine it's good for business, but I think it was so Family friendly and innovative, that who really cares?!

Go take a peak around your town today and see what's out there that makes you smile! This sure did for me! 
Happy weekend blessings, Friends!

By the way, I am in no way affiliated with or speaking for Safeway.. My joy and opinions are my own!

File under: Halloween, Fall colors, Harvest, decor, #trickortreat #safeway

Saturday, September 20

Welcoming Autumn & It's Not A Wreath!

Happy Autumn!! Well, it will be, actually, Autumn, the day after tomorrow, for those of us, here in the United States. I think I long for this Season all year long!  The beginning of cooler days and nights, blankets, baking, sweaters and, of course, Lots of decorating!! Fall seems to be the kick off for all the wonderful celebrations ahead. What can I say, I'm a sucker for traditions. Even if they're new ones. Which kinda brings me to this post. I have welcomed Autumn for the past 2+ years by sharing with you my Autumn Wreaths. I have loved everyone of them. 

Here's the teaser I posted on Shoestring's Facebook page.

This year, however, I was drawn to decorate my front door in a different way to 'Welcome the Fall Season' in.   Ready.....??   It's a broom!  Well, not a broom you could sweep with, but just the same a broom! I love it. I haven't seen many others and thought it would be a wonderful change and a thrifty way of using all my old and still beautiful blooms and leaves (with a few new ones). If you don't know me, I'm all about less cost, for highest beauty. So here it is!  What do you think?
This wonderful broom, that serves as the base for this door hanging, was all of $2.99 @ Michael's & I got 50% off, so, yeah, a buck fifty! I did by one new group of stems that were regularly $6.99 but they were 60% off,  and this awesome Red edge-stitched cloth ribbon (for the bow), that was also 60% off of $6.99, I believe I can very easily say that in all total, this Autumn Door Decor still came in under the $10 mark!

After removing the tags, It was just as easy as this. I attached my hanger to the back and then laid the foundation of Fall leaves down, attached them and then just added from there, until I had what I was hoping for.

Don't you just LOVE the stitching on the edge of the bow? As soon as I saw it, I knew this was exactly what I had been looking for.

Here it is last night hanging on my open front door, while I was finishing up the final little tweeking

And..... here it is this morning,in all its glory hanging on my front door to greet all who enter. The days weather here, in Northern california, is playing along with me, (for today, anyway) It is cool, the wind is blowing and really is beginning to feel like a Fall day!! I'm not looking at the forecasts anymore!

I hope you have found a fun way to welcome Autumn/Fall into your home. For yourself,  and your guests!  I always think it's a nice way to say, "You are welcome here" & "I even decorated for you!" Plus, it makes me smile! There really isn't  a price tag for that! I hope this will Inspire some of you to embrace and welcome the Season, your friends & family, with some of the Beautiful colors of Fall!
Many more colors of the season to come! 
Thanks you for taking the time to pop in on me and let me share what I've been up to with you.

I'll be sharing this post with: