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I don’t really care that the calendar says the official start date of fall is whenever the Pumpkin Spice Latte becomes “a thing.” I personally enjoy the flavor throughout all seasons — my post-run smoothie always implores the use of pumpkin. Nonetheless, I do enjoy this time of year when the rest of the world embraces my affinity for the obligatory orange squash.

However, this year #PSL momentum has suffered an early blow with the news that it contains zero actual pumpkin, and is stuffed full of chemicals and unnecessary additives. While some food scientists have objectively defended the drink’s absence of actual pumpkin, some of us are left searching for a more natural alternative to our favorite seasonal swig.

HGTVGardens answered our prayers with their very own Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe. It is far more nutritious, uses fewer ingredients and contains actual pumpkin (WOO!). Plus, I would bet my yearly fall-flavored-grocery budget that this recipe is more affordable.

PSL

Makes 1 PERFECT #PSL:
1/2 to 1 cup milk (I use vanilla almond milk)
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1 to 2 tablespoons of natural maple syrup or sugar (try brown sugar or black strap molasses if you’re really in the mood)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 to 2 shots of espresso or 1/2 cup of coffee (the stronger the better in my opinion)
whipped cream for added #nomnoms

Here is all you have to do:

Whisk together milk, pumpkin and sugar in a saucepan set on low, stir until the mix is steaming. Remove the mix from heat, stir in the vanilla extract and spice and whisk until frothy. Next step, pour your new heaven-sauce mixture into a large mug, add the espresso, and enjoy. Guilt-free, chemical-free and “waiting-45-minutes-in-line-while-you’re-already-late-for-work”-free.

A latte isn’t enough for you? Click here to see every pumpkin idea, recipe, and tip our editors have to get your fix.

Have your own favorite latte recipe? Share it with us, or tell us your thoughts on the #PSL.

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Can you guess which curtains belong in this sitting area?

Decorate This Space

Type A, B or C in the comments section, and we’ll reveal the answer tomorrow. One lucky winner will win a six pack of 60-watt Cree LED light bulbs. You don’t have to guess correctly for a chance to win.

Choose A, B or C

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win.  All entries (comments) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. ET on September 17, 2014 and 12:00 p.m. ET on September 18, 2014. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $56.82. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932.

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String art used to be straight out of the ’70s, but new, graphic versions are still going strong. (Did you see my girl Meg’s geometric string art bear?! So cute.) This version uses a rustic slice of wood (available at your local crafts store) to juxtapose the modern, metallic monogram. See how it’s done in just a few steps:

What do you think? I love the graphic impact of the finished piece, and it adds texture and dimension to a ho-hum gallery wall. See what I mean?

DIY Monogram String Art on Weekday Crafternoon

Want to make your own piece of custom string art? You can download the letter template here and get step-by-step instructions and materials here. As always, if you’ve missed any past episodes of HGTV Crafternoon you can find them all right here.

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Tassels

I’m the kind of person who can’t say “no” to adding another garland or tassel. A well-placed tassel is the perfect statement for any room or party. I also love taking a traditional element, like a tassel, and playing around with texture, color, and scale. For this DIY I wanted to create an over-sized tassel garland that would be the perfect addition to my baby girl’s nursery. The nursery has lots of pink and yellow elements, so I decided to dip-dye the tassels in pink and yellow food coloring, which created a lovely ombre effect — and I can’t refuse a good ombre!

Create Your Own Tassel Garland

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Craft supply stores are dangerous places for me. I’ll go in for one specific item and walk out with dozens of random treasures that caught my eye. (Hello, iron-on patches and calligraphy pens!) If you’re an impulse shopper like I am, you may have picked up a few plain cardboard or paper mache letters…aaaaand then wondered what exactly to do with them when you got them home. Well, fear not, because I found some easy ways to pretty them up in no time.

5 Lovely Ideas for Paper Mache Letters: Jute-Covered Monogram Wreath

Design: Chelsea McDonnough

PLAIN PAPER MACHE LETTER –> JUTE-COVERED MONOGRAM WREATH
The return of Pumpkin Spice-flavored everything signals that it’s time to switch up your seasonal decor. This jute-covered monogram is an unexpected but appealing alternative to all those fall wreaths covered in leaves and corn. Get the instructions here.

MORE PAPER MACHE AND CARDBOARD LETTER IDEAS

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Caramel is the ultimate fall delicacy in my world. I imagine walking through a harvest-inspired craft fair or autumnal festival with the scent of kettle corn wafting through the air as I sinfully nibble on a caramel apple (or better yet, a scalding hot hand pie).

Mood Board Monday: CaramelTop, L to R: Dust Jacket, Domaine, La Peche Fraiche | Middle, L to R: Tasty Kitchen, Camille Styles, Classy Girls Wear Pearls | Bottom, L to R: Honestly WTF, Finch & Fawn, HGTV.com

Come back every Monday for an inspirational mood board. Miss a day? See all the posts here.

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Not so much a fan of The Real Housewives franchise? For shame! No, I don’t hold it against you — well, I do, but not in any real way that matters.

Even if you don’t watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey, you have probably read in recent headlines that one of its stars, Teresa Giudice, is in a bit of a pickle. As she and her husband Joe work through their much-publicized “issues,” it looks like the couple has decided to part ways with their Towaco home.

SEE THE OFFICIAL LISTING AT ZILLOW.COM>>

With six bedrooms, six bathrooms and over 10,000 square feet, the home has just been listed for $3.9 million. The house is full of custom moldings, imported marble floors and fixtures as well as architectural details in every room. “Tre” wasn’t playing around when she designed her castle (Do you all remember the episode when she was buying furniture? Classic Tre!).

Teresa Giudice

This familiar home (to fans, anyway) sits on over 3.5 acres.

Teresa Giudice

Grand two-story entrance with double Cinderella staircases

Teresa Giudice

The gourmet kitchen features a butler’s pantry and large working center island.

See More Photos

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While others are busy lamenting the (unofficial) end of summer, I’ll admit I can’t wait for fall. Summer is great, sure, but fall has a lot going for it, too: perfect temperatures, brilliantly-hued leaves, hearty soups and stews and cozy fall decor updates.

Since evening light is dwindling and we’ll all be spending more time indoors, this is the perfect time to add style overhead with an updated light fixture. That’s why we partnered with Lights.com to give one lucky reader this industrial take on the classic Sputnik light fixture:

Sputnik Chandelier - Lights.com

This trendy twist on vintage lighting would look great atop a dining table or kitchen island, in an entryway or as the focal point of a master bedroom. Edison bulbs give this ceiling light a glowy ambiance, while the sleek black finish offers an industrial edge.

Vintage Lighting Ideas - Lights.com

To enter for a chance to win this amazing light fixture, leave a comment below. This giveaway’s question: How do you, ahem, brighten up your home for fall?

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win. All entries (comments) must be entered between 9:00 a.m. ET on September 12, 2014 and 12:00 p.m. ET on September 15, 2014. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $240.00. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932

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You guessed correctly if you chose option A. Designer Kendall Wilkinson incorporated a comfy chair — with coral welting detail — for Mom to hold baby to sleep.

Coral and Purple Nursery

We randomly chose one person from the comments, and Cindy F. is the winner of a box of epoxy products from JB Weld and a complete JAWS cleaning kit. Congrats!

Check back next Wednesday to decorate a new space.

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Congratulations to this week’s winner, Cindy F.!

Can you guess which chair belongs in this nursery?

Decorate This Space

Type A, B or C in the comments section, and we’ll reveal the answer tomorrow. One lucky winner will win a box of epoxy products from JB Weld to help with any project around your home and a complete JAWS cleaning kit, which includes four of their best cleaners for all areas of the home. You don’t have to guess correctly for a chance to win.

Choose A, B or C

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win.  All entries (comments) must be entered between 10:00 a.m. ET on September 10, 2014 and 12:00 p.m. ET on September 11, 2014. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $50. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932.

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