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Monday, November 2, 2015

Fall Hike @ Alum Creek + Clean Eating Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup

Happy Monday! We had the most uneventful weekend and it was glorious. We seem to have had something every weekend since August, so it was great to finally get some time to relax, nap, get a little cleaning done and cook some good food (more to come on that below). We also took a little time for a last of the season Fall hike at Alum Creek.

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Alum Creek is a recreational area north of Columbus that is about 5 mins from our house. Rick loves to go fishing and mountain biking, and we both love to go kayaking and hiking. There is even a dog beach there that we keep meaning to take the pups to. We just need to figure out a way to leash them up so they don't go swimming off on us.

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The Fall leaves had pretty much peaked, and many of the leaves had fallen due to the wind/rain storm we had last week. But it was still really beautiful, and it was the perfect day for a hike.

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For our hike, we went to the intermediate-level mountain biking course. It was about a 1.5 mile hike, which was the perfect way to get a little exercise in, but not too strenuous.

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Two years ago we actually got engaged at Alum Creek at the other mountain biking course, so this area is very special to us.

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This shows what part of the course looks like. There were some pretty steep hills too, which is what made it the harder course.

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And a fun little bridge to ride across.

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Another interesting thing we came across was some old home foundations. Up around Alum Creek there used to be a town called Africa, Ohio, which some say was actually the only town named after the Underground Railroad. Some early accounts said it was also called Orange Station (which our township is Orange Township), and it's said there was a post office, a general store and a saloon. Sometimes when we post photos to Facebook at our house it says we are posting them from Africa, which I thought was always kind of odd until one day we looked it up. We love to learn about the history of our area. We took some pics of some other historic sites at Highbanks a few months ago that I'll get around to posting soon.

One other thing we did this weekend was make this delicious Clean Eating Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup. It has very few ingredients and it was great to put in the crockpot and have a nice healthy and simple dinner at the end of a great weekend. I added a little bacon and some gluten free corn bread just to round out the meal a little, and it was delish!

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Clean Eating Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup
Inspired by Gimme Some Oven

-- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
-- 3 medium apples cubed
-- 1 cup of baby carrots
-- 3 cups of chicken stock
-- 1/2 tsp salt
-- 1/4 tsp pepper
-- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
-- 1/2 cup coconut milk

Combine the butternut squash, apples, carrots, chicken stock, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and cinnamon into a crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the squash, carrots and apples are easy to smash with a fork. Then add in the coconut milk and stir all together. Then place small amounts in a blender to blend smooth, or use an immersion blender. You can drizzle a little more coconut milk to give even more creamy texture.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Happy Howl-o-ween from our little super heroes!

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It wouldn't be Halloween over here at Life, Love and Puppy Paws if we didn't have cute puppies in Halloween costumes.

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{ Super Power = cleaning out a refrigerator in a matter of seconds }

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{ Super Power = sneaking kisses when you are not looking }

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{ Super Power = giving the world's best cuddles }

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Being a super hero is hard work!

Costumes from 2013 and 2014.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fall 2015 Home Tour

I love decorating our home, and decorating for Fall is one of my favorite things to do (although Christmas is a favorite time too!). I love all of the rich warm colors and feel they really make our home feel homey. I love sharing our Fall Home Tour each year (2014 & 2013), and especially love looking back to see how my décor tastes have changed over the year. I'll admit I may also reference back to see what I did the previous year to see what I want to recreate this year vs create something new. So without further ado, here is our Fall 2015 Home.

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{ Front steps/door }

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{ Entry Way }

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I love traditional Fall décor more so than Halloween décor. This little ghost is my only Halloween decoration. I've had it for many years, and I think I originally found at Pier 1. I'll be a little sad to put it away, but no worries I have little pilgrim figurines to replace it for Thanksgiving.

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{ Guest Bath }

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{ Living Room }

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The Fall leave garland is a new addition this year, and I made it using this tutorial. It was super easy, and the hardest/longest part was cutting all out of the felt leaves. But it was the perfect project to curl up on the couch and cut leaves while catching up with the DVR.

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{ Dining Room }

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This little pumpkin floral piece is also new for this year and I found it at Michaels a few weeks ago while they were having a big floral sale. The cake stand was also recently purchased at World Market and it's one of my favorite pieces that I can't wait to decorate each season. The apples in the crystal bowl were from our apple picking adventurers a few weeks ago.

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Another recent find is this lovely white serving bowl I picked up at Walmart as part of the Pioneer Woman's collection. I'll admit, each time I go to Walmart I pick up another item. I'm sure by Christmas I'll have the entire collection. There are such cute pieces though, and the quality isn't too bad for the price.

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And last but not least, one of my favorite décor items are all of the beautiful red trees that line our back yard. It's my favorite time of year when these trees turn this vibrant color. I just wish they would stay this way all year long!

Do you love decorating for Fall? Where is your favorite place to buy Fall décor? I'm always looking for new items to add to my collection.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Trip to the Apple Farm + 5 Recipes to Use Up Those Apples!

I've really been enjoying this Fall season. The leaves have finally turned colors, the temps have finally dropped, and there have been a lot of fun Fall-themed things to do lately.

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One of those things we did a few weeks ago was apple picking.

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This is our 3rd year going to Lynd's Fruit Farm in Pataskala. Their picking season begins the first of September and runs through the end of October, or whenever they run out of apples.

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We ended up going a little later than we normally do, but that was great because we got to try a new type of apple called the winesap, which we ended up really loving. These apples are sweet and juicy, but have a tart finish. Great for baking, and even better with a little cashew butter!

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{ shirt and vest from J Crew Factory }

We ended up with 20 lbs of apples, but that is totally ok because they will keep for a few months as long as they are stored in a cool dry location. We actually have them in our crisper drawer in the fridge.

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So what does one do with 20 lbs of apples? Well besides eating with a little cashew butter (which I highly recommend), there are a ton of recipes for desserts, as well as savory dinner items. Here are a few favorites we've enjoyed this season:

Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples (have not tried this yet, but can't wait to!) 

Apple Chips (again haven't tried this yet this year, but can't wait to!) 

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