Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby Shower!



My craftiness for the month involves a simple diaper cake which my boys wanted me to frost. I laughed and politely declined. A good time was had by all I believe.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

(from here)

Pumpkin Pancake Recipe
1 1/4 cup flour
3 TB sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup pumpkin
4 eggs, separated and whites beaten till fluffed, but not too stiff.
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients. In different bowl combine milk, pumpkin, egg yokes, melted butter, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix together gently. Fold in egg whites. Cook as you would cook pancakes. These take a couple minutes longer to cook and are very moist.

Cinnamon Syrup Recipe
1 cup sugar
1/8tsp. salt
2 T flour
1/2 -1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup water
2 TB butter

In small saucepan mix sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add water and boil till thick. Take off burner and add in butter. Can add a dollop of whip cream too!



Pumpkin Bars

Tasty pumpkin bars- I got the recipe from here.

Pumpkin-Spice Bars
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 ginger
1/4 cloves

Frosting
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2-3 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups powered sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired

Beat eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin till smooth. Stir all dry ingredients together and add to wet ingredients. (Optional- can add 1 cup raisins or chocolate chips). Spread in greased cookie sheet pan, 15x10x1. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Mix up frosting. Spread over bars. Sprinkle with nuts.

A Tangled Halloween


(really bad picture, but the best we got of everyone together that night) 
Much cuter family portrait from Sears (Yes we have the copyright)
I admit- I am one of those mother's who likes to dress the family in a theme for Halloween. Since my husband likes me, my son is developmentally delayed (PDD-NOS not so specifically) and hasn't expressed an opinion otherwise, my oldest daughter has been diagnosed with Autism and doesn't say much either, and the little one is just one and thinking about talking, I can get away with it. :) We shall see how long that lasts. Because the middle fry likes to dance to Tangled, that was the theme this year. And when we go to get a family picture, I shall try to get good photos of her and her brother. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the little chameleon Pascal, who was adorable and knew it. I used the Simplicity 2792 view c pattern (yes, it is the same one that I modified last year so she could be Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon) and modified it by adding a tail (sorry, I made that up myself- just make a big spiral), ric rac down the back and top, and some styrofoam balls cut in half and covered with felt for the eyes. I also added a couple of "hands" to the sleeve cuffs that just hung over her hands. For her trick-or-treat bag I turned a McDonald's kids meal bucket into a flower pot. She had lots of fun.
How to get lots of candy
(Just for fun, because I realized this blog didn't exist last year, here is the best non-professional (aka copyrighted) family photo we got for How to Train Your Dragon Halloween 2010)

Thomas the Train, Girl Style

The middle fry had a birthday, and I was once again at a loss of what to do. So, I took her older brother to the party aisle at Walmart and let him choose. He lingered over Tangled, but then he saw Thomas and that was the end of that (in his defense, I also took the birthday girl to the same aisle. She also lingered over Tangled, but when she saw the trains she yelled "Thomas"). After much thought, I decided I would make a train cake. I had a friend with a pan, how hard could it be, right? Then I found out the train cake pan wasn't very good at thoroughly cooking the cake. So then I thought I would make a cake and top it with three rice crispy trains. That would be cool I thought. So I baked some cakes (several- I used a cookie sheet to make a sheet cake to get something large enough and stacked two of them to get the height), and made my rice crispy trains. That is where I ran into problems. I must have not let them sit long enough, cause my train was melting and falling apart as I decorated it. I ended up just doing one train that I kept refrigerated as much as possible so it would stay hard (That is Molly, in case you were wondering. I enlisted my husband's help to look up and print off a face and laminate it for the front. He is wonderful and obliged me). Happy Birthday to a sweet little princess!

Mummmmmmy!

{Potentially} Inexpensive Halloween Decorating Idea #10
I know, it is a little after Halloween, but I have excuses. First, the memory card in my camera went bad (I suspect small child involvement). Then I realized that I needed to be focusing on Halloween costumes. While I was working on those, I received word that my Grandmother was in the hospital and not doing well, so I packed up the kids and went to see her one last time and attend her funeral (I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation- if you want more info on that please see Mormon.org). I got back home with only a couple of days to try and finish Halloween costumes. So much for my grandiose plans. So without further ado, one of my favorite Halloween crafts- the mummy tissue box. Michael's sells an unfinished wood tissue box for $3.99 and you can use a coupon on it (40% off is nice). I painted it white, glued some large googly eyes on, and wrapped a bandage around it (I confess, it isn't glued or anything, just wrapped around). Then I simply filled with tissues and restocked as needed (which between runny noses and everything else was more frequent then I care to admit). I had so many other ideas for tissue boxes, that I had to narrow it down to this one. I though about Frankenstein (paint green, add felt hair to top, perhaps some silver knobs on the side), spiders (paint spiderwebs all over box and glue on plastic spiders), pumpkins (paint orange and add a short bit of branch for a stem on top. Wrap with ribbon or paint stripes. Can put a face on or not), or just silhouetting a Halloween scene on the sides. Happy (late) Halloween! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Classic Milne Birthday Cake Idea





HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY everybody! Those of you who are up on your Winnie the Pooh will recognize this as the phrase Owl writes on the useful pot Pooh presents Eeyore with for his birthday - and this classic Shephard image is Piglet rushing to give Eeyore a balloon for a present.

Boo On You










Here is my idea for doorbell-ditching Halloween Style.

A Spin on Halloween Jars


The pumpkin Halloween jars were darling, but alas, I have no cricut. So I had to come up with something else. Painting inside of a jar is difficult, but it can be done, and the result is pleasing.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Fruit of My Labor

 It is canning time again. This time it is pears. I found a tutorial here that had nice pictures if you want to do your own (on my computer it looked like it was a blank page- I had to scroll clear down to find the instructions). So far, I am up to 3 dozen half pints and 17 pints. I haven't ever done pints before, but my husband wanted slices, and they just weren't fitting too well in the smaller jars. I still have about 20 lbs. of pears left that are still on the hard side. Now I just have to wait for them to ripen and decide what to do with them.
Last year after I had done all of my pears, some friends were talking about the tastiest jam- a pear raspberry. I swore I would try it this year. I was unable to get the actual recipe (yet), but the closest I was able to come up with came from here.
I only used half the sugar, and it is still on the sweet side. I think I would cut the sugar down to 1 cup if I do it again. It looks really pretty. I was able to get 7 half pints from 1 batch.

*UPDATE*
The "Official" Raspberry Pear Jam Recipe
5 cups Pear Sauce
1 cup Raspberries
2 cups Sugar (or 1 1/2 if you prefer)
1 large box Raspberry Jello

Boil pear sauce, raspberries, and sugar for 20 minutes. Add box of jello and cook until fully dissolved. Put in jars and process in canner. (No specifics there- I think I did mine for 15 minutes cause that is what it looked like a lot of similar things were canned for). To make the pear sauce, you just peel and cut up your pears in a big pot with about a tablespoon of water and cook until the pears are nice and mushy, then mash. Kind of like making mashed potatoes, just these ones get a lot runnier as they cook. 

Pumpkin Soup


Pumpkin Soup
4 TBS margin or butter
1 onion – chopped
1 med. Leek (If the onion is large, then I leave out the leek)
4 cups pumpkin
4 cups chicken broth (I like to use Cream of Mushroom Soup)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. curry
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup half & half (I just use evaporated milk)

Sate onions and leek in butter. Put everything except the half & half in a pot and cook. Add half & half just at the end. This can all be done in a crock-pot too. You can serve it this way or put it through a blender to make it smooth.

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, complete with her notes. I don't particularly care for mushrooms, so I just use the broth (she doesn't replace all 4 cups with the mushroom soup, just one can worth). I have heard rumors that the blended version came about because she had some children that wouldn't eat it if they knew it contained onions.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Juice

(I made this recipe up myself, based on the ingredients list on the back of the Pumpkin Juice bottle that my in-laws brought back from the park in Orlando. I have never actually tried the "real" pumpkin juice myself, so I cannot say how similar it is. That is my disclaimer.)
Pumpkin Juice

1 29oz. can pumpkin
1 can apricot nectar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup sugar (optional)
approx. 3 quarts apple juice

Combine first six ingredients in a gallon size picture until well mixed. Add apple juice to make 1 gallon. Best served chilled. 
It separates, so I picked up two 1/2 gallon flagon things at, where else, Walmart. That way they can be shaken as needed. I used my Cricut and some brown vinyl to label them. The apricot nectar is simply there because apricot was on the ingredients list. I have also blended up canned apricots and added them in when I couldn't find the nectar (I discovered the nectar at Target the other day). You can also use canned pumpkin pie filling, just omit the sugar and spices. I have also made this the night before, but brought it to a boil to help dissolve the sugar and spices better, before chilling. My tasters thought it tasted just fine warm, but I preferred it cold.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Want Candy (Jars)

Inexpensive Halloween Decoration Idea #9
Yesterday, this jar was holding spaghetti sauce. Today, it is much happier being stuffed with chocolate. I merely took off the spaghetti wrapper (didn't even bother to clean off the sticky goo this time), and recovered it with some scrap booking paper. I tied fun fur yarn around the top and added a ribbon. For the lid, I hot glued more ribbon around the edge, and covered the top with some cardstock (that can be decorated with stickers or stamps or whatever you want). Viola! Halloween candy jars to attempt to keep out of children's reach.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gone Batty (Window Silhouettes)

Inexpensive Halloween Decoration Idea #8
I wanted to decorate my windows a bit and decided that silhouettes would do the trick. I thought about using vinyl to make them, but decided that black cardstock would work just as well, if not better. I say better because they are easier to re position, come off for storage and reuse easier than peeling vinyl would have been, and it is cheaper. I ended up laminating them so they would be durable and reusable for many years, but it is not necessary. I choose bats, but any Halloween thing could work, like spiders (use a dry erase marker to make the web), rats, crows, or cats. I got the template for the bats I used here. It is really for a freezer paper stencil for a toddler tee shirt (which looks very cute and I plan to try it when I get a few more minutes; the wall bats are cool as well, but that is for another day). I just printed out the page and held it with black paper behind it to cut out the shapes. After laminating, I taped them in the window. Simple but cute.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Arachnophobia

Inexpensive Halloween Decoration Idea #7
My mother-in-law was the inspiration for these spiders. She is the queen of Cub Scouting and these are the spiders she has her cubs make for neckerchief slides. Each spider just needs one piper cleaner, one 1" pom pom, and two googly eyes.
Cut pipe cleaner into four equal sections
Fold each section in half, then bend ends to form "feet"
Hot glue onto 1" pom pom
Add eyes

There are many uses for big fuzzy spiders.You can run a string through them and hang them (I just tied the end of the string to paper clips. Christmas ornament hooks would work too). You can set them around the room in unexpected places. You can even line an alligator clip with black ribbon, glue on a spider, and make another hair clip. (To make neckerchief slide, glue spider to 1/4"-3/8" section of 1/2" PVC pipe).

Bonus: While I was making the hair clips I decided to make these bows as well. I basically used the tutorial here, but made my template 2" and glued plastic bats from some bat rings in the center.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Clippies

{Potentially} Inexpensive Halloween Decoration Idea #6
Today I decorated my daughter's head. I found a tutorial on pumpkin hair clips here, and modified it slightly for the supplies I had available. I already had alligator clips, orange, green, and brown ribbon in my stash. The clips I got at Sally's Beauty Supply, 100 for $6. They have been handy to have on hand.
Instead of grosgrain ribbon, I used 1/4" Spool of Ribbon stuff from Walmart that I think cost me all of $.41 however many years ago I bought it. For the green I only had 1/8" so I used that. I added an extra little wrap of orange ribbon around the stack where I had been gluing to hide all the little glue bits. I also changed the top stem to  a 1" folded over 1/8" piece of brown.


(Attempts to get a moving target to hold still)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Big Fat Pumpkin Cookies

I love big fat chocolate chip pumpkin cookies like the ones that you can find at grocery stores. Occasionally, I have been given a recipe for allegedly such cookies, but to no avail. I even asked my brother who was working in the bakery at a grocery store to get me the recipe (I think he used the excuse that it was "Steve's secret recipe".) In desperation, I finally did what I should have done years ago- I did a google image search for chocolate chip pumpkin cookies and looked for one that looked the most promising. It worked!
Now in order to save anyone else from suffering the same fate as I, I shall share the not-so secret recipe, I got it from the blog NotSoPerfect Housewife found here: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies. Enjoy!

Eek!

 Inexpensive Halloween Decoration Idea #5
My sister was the inspiration for this Halloween sign. Several years ago she gave me a similar sign that she had made at a Super Saturday event. I love it.
This is the original. It actually is two sided and on the reverse spells out "Joy" with a Christmas theme. So very cute, and so easy to make.
First, get three scraps of wood. A 2x4 works great. I just chopped it into three uneven pieces. If you wanted to spell something longer, like "Spooky" you would just cut out more blocks. I painted it black (with paint I had leftover from high school). When the black paint dried, I painted on cobwebs and spiders with metallic silver paint that I had (which was probably only four or five years old). I cut out vinyl letters with my Cricut, attached them, and was done. You could also Modge Podge Halloween paper on, or cut out letters in cardstock to attach to the boards if you don't have a paper cutting machine. Stickers would also work.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pumpkin Jar Candles

Inexpensive Halloween Decoration Idea #4
These fun pumpkins started out life as jars that I raided my fridge and cupboards to find. They are also so easy a child could make them. I know, because mine did.
I started with clean jars.
I let my children paint the
 insides with orange paint.
After they were coated I cleaned
excess paint off the outside
and let them dry.
I added faces with scraps of vinyl I had
and added ribbon and fun fur yarn.
Add candles (I prefer the LED tea lights that won't burn the house down).
I have also seen variations of this idea that involve painting the outside of the jar, or using velum or tissue paper on the inside. If you don't have scraps of vinyl lying around you could use electrical tape, glue on cardstock or construction paper, or paint them on. The Disney Family Fun version involves taping the face on first, painting, and then carefully removing the tape to leave the face imprint.