Monday, October 23, 2017

Any Questions?



I've been participating the the Ultimate Blog Challenge this BLOGtober.  Can you believe it's been 23 days?  I know it's flown by for me!  Up until now I haven't used any of the prompts sent in the daily emails to all the challenge participants.  Mostly it's because I was trying to keep to the fall theme I set for myself.  But this one seemed too good to pass up.  Paul Taubman, one of the people who runs the challenge, suggested we ask our readers if they had any questions!  Great idea.  Thank you, Paul!

And thank you for stopping by and reading my blog!  It's been fun putting it together over the years and I appreciate readers, new and old.  So, do you have any questions?  Do you want to know more about me, my blog, crochet, cooking?  Do you have a fall themed question?  Do you want to ask something totally unrelated to the blog?  It's up to you!  Go ahead, ask anything!

Write your questions in the comment section below and I'll pick a few to answer tomorrow!



Oh, and here are some pumpkins to keep with the fall theme.  I couldn't resist!



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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fall Menu - What We Ate This Week



Sunday - Spaghetti and Meatballs at a friend's house

Monday - canned soup and grilled cheese

Tuesday - Taco Soup - This one was a find from my 30 Days 30 Recipes Challenge.  My husband daughter and I love it.  I've made it several times since the challenge with only one difference.  To reduce the heat, I sub in black beans where the recipe calls for chili beans.  It's just perfect that way!

Wednesday - Pork loin, brown rice, broccoli salad.  This broccoli salad wasn't from the challenge, but it was a Weight Watchers recipe I found in one the books I got at the thrift store.  I'll share the recipe another time.  It's delicious and the calories are kept to a minimum.

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Tacos made with ground turkey, hard shells, salsa, sour cream, cheese and lettuce

Saturday - pasta, meat sauce


Taco Soup






















Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall Haul




This is a shopping haul from my recent trip to Michaels.  With skeins of yarn at $2 and a 20% everything including sale items, this was one major deal.  $16 for 10 skeins of yarn!!  And this isn't old yarn from a dusty thrift store.  This is brand new!

Now I have to think of what to make.  Any ideas?  I'm sure I could whip up a few more granny squares.  Those are fun.  And there are so many things to do with granny squares. I could make another scarf or a blanket or maybe I could try something new altogether.





I would like to make the Halloween Garland I mentioned in my 14 Awesome Autumn Pins post.  I would need to use some orange and green from my stash, but I could use the black and white for the ghosts and spiders.

The white, blue and pink would be perfect for the Owl Mug Cozies I pinned.  The original poster did not use those colors, but I think they would work out great.

What do you think I should make?  Comment below for ideas.  Also, do you have a favorite yarn?  Comment below with the yarn you love.

As a reminder, I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!


*UPDATE - I previously said $16 for 20 skeins of yarn.  I meant 10!  That would have been a crazy deal, though!

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14 Awesome Autumn Pins
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Friday, October 20, 2017

Honey Turmeric Face Mask




I know as the days get cooler and the humidity leaves the air, my skin cries out for moisture.  To keep my skin healthy, I use a honey turmeric mask 3-4 times per week.  From research and experience, I have found honey to be a great way to restore moisture to my skin.  Combine it with some turmeric and you have a beauty powerhouse.

Honey contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that help to keep skin healthy.  It is also a humectant, making it perfect for restoring facial moisture that is lost by the dry indoor air.  In addition to these great benefits, honey, specifically raw honey, is scientifically shown to be antibacterial.  Check out this article on PubMed.  Unrelated but significant, some honeys have been shown to fight MRSA, also known as medically resistant staph.  This is good stuff!

Turmeric works its own magic for the skin. It is anti-inflammatory (some say more potent than ibuprofen) and is said to help reduce scarring.  I've even read that turmeric helps to fight cancer.  Honey shares this claim.

So, now that you know all the benefits, you need the recipe!

It's so easy.  Like stupid easy.


Honey Turmeric Face Mask

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoons turmeric

Mix honey and turmeric until it becomes a paste.  Place in a water tight container.

To use:  Spread on face and let sit for a short time.  Wash off thoroughly.

Tip!  Use this in the shower.  Turmeric stains and makes a bit of a mess.  Just make sure you rinse your face well or you might look a little yellow.

As a reminder, I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge this month!  


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Thursday, October 19, 2017

5 Ideas For Leftover Pumpkins




What do you do when Halloween is over and you have a lonely pumpkin rotting on your doorstep?  Here are 5 ideas of what to do with your leftover pumpkins before they turn to mush.


5 Ideas For Leftover Pumpkins

1.  Toss your pumpkins in the compost pile.  Just be aware you might have another pumpkin growing next spring!  I've also read you can bury your pumpkin to fortify the soil.  Has anyone tried this?

2.  If the pumpkin still looks good and hasn't rotted yet, bring it in the house and cook it up.  You can bake it in the oven, cut side down, at 300 degrees for about an hour or until soft.  Some people add a little water on the bottom of the pan to keep things moist, but this is not required.  Once it's cooked, you can scoop out the insides to use in recipes like pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie!  And if I haven't said it enough before, these two recipes are to die for!  So, so good.

3.  Another thing to do if your pumpkin is in decent shape is scoop out the seeds and toast them up.  Click here for a recipe!  Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc and magnesium.

4.  Donate them to a local pig farm.  We have one near me that takes pumpkins for their pigs.  What a treat for them!

5.  I haven't tried this one yet, but I went to a wedding where the pumpkins stood in as vases.  The insides were scooped out and filled with beautiful fall blooms.  My favorites were the multicolred sunflowers.  I may have to try this one!

Do you have any other ideas for what to do with those leftover pumpkins?  Let me know in the comment section below.  And remember I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fun-to-make Turkey Treats!




Last year, not long before Thanksgiving, my kids got together with their good friends and created some delicious treats.  The turkey cupcakes we had made a version of in a previous year, but the turkey cookies were a new idea altogether.  I found the idea for the cookies in a magazine.




























We started with the cupcakes, as I knew those would be the easiest to construct.  The kids all got a previously baked cupcake, their choice of vanilla or chocolate frosting, candy corns and Wilton candy eyes.  We all shared a tube of red gel frosting.

The cupcakes needed little explanation.  I just showed them an example and they easily put the turkeys together.

Each cupcake came out a little different, but I'm sure the kids would tell you they were equally delicious!

Turkey Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 box cake mix of choice plus ingredients called for on box
1 can chocolate frosting 
candy corn
Wilton candy eyes (found at Walmart or on Amazon)
1 tube red gel icing or homemade frosting colored with red food coloring

Bake cupcakes according to package directions.  Cool completely.  Frost with chocolate frosting.  Decorate according to picture above and enjoy!

If you have a kid who loves to bake, boxed cake mixes are a great place to start them off with following directions.  If you want to make it quick and easy, you can have the cupcakes prepared ahead of time.







After they had made their cupcakes, the cookies took more explanation and help.  Once I showed them how to make one, though, they caught on.  With a little frosting and some perseverance, the cookies turned out great.  Funny thing is, they lasted only a few minutes.  The kids ate up their work right after it was done!  At least I got pictures!


Turkey Cookies

Ingredients:

1 package store-bought chocolate chip cookies
1 can chocolate or vanilla frosting
1 bag Hershey's Kisses
1 bag Reese's peanut butter cup miniatures
1 bag candy corn
1 tube red gel frosting
1 tube orange gel frosting

For each turkey cookie you will need two store-bought chocolate chip cookies.  Cut a small piece off one so that it has a flat edge.  Place the uncut cookie on a plate.  Frost the cut edge of the cookie you just cut and affix it to the uncut cookie so that it looks like a chair.

Next take a miniature Reese's peanut butter cup.  Open it and cut off part of the side as shown in the picture.  Frost the front and cut edge of the peanut butter cup, turn it around and affix it to the cookies.  Then take a Hershey's Kiss and frost the back.  Stick it to the upright cookie.

Now, gather 14 candy corns.  With a knife spread some frosting on the tips of the candy corn and affix 12 in a semi-circle around the upright cookie.  These are your tail feathers.  Then take two and attach them, as shown, to the side of the peanut butter cup.  These are the wings.

Then you will stick on the eyes to the Hershey's Kiss with some frosting.  After you have done that, pipe on the red gobble, orange beak and turkey legs.

Now you have a cute and delicious treat!








*For either of these recipes you can substitute homemade ingredients.  You can use homemade cookies for the turkey cookies.  You can also use homemade cupcakes or frosting.  It's totally up to you!


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cozy Fall Granny Scarf



What better time to whip up a nice warm and cozy scarf than BLOGtober??  I thought of this idea a little while back and figured I'd make it for a post this month.  I just finished it up the other day and I think it came out so cute that I am keeping it.  Sorry, friends, this one's staying with me!

This has been the year of granny squares for me.  There was my Vibrant Granny Square Afghan that I entered in the fair.  Click the link to see how I did!  That afghan took a while and a lot of grannies!  I also made a ton of other granny squares for other projects.  Pretty soon you'll see a pocketbook I made using granny squares.  They are so versatile.




Here you can see me wearing the scarf.  You like my dusty mirror?  Wow, I should have cleaned that first.  Oh well.  Anyway, I think, in hindsight, I would have made the scarf one square longer.  I thought with the extra stitching lining the squares it would have been a little longer.  This length is pretty good, though. 




Here's a closer look at the details.  You can see I used four colors for this scarf.  I arranged them randomly for a not-so-perfect look.  The granny squares were made using a size J hook.  I did two rounds and outlined each in the off white using a single crochet.  Then I stitched them all together with a single crochet in the same off white.  You can see the full pattern below.




It was a lot of sewing and tying loose ends to complete this project, but it was worth it.  I really like how it turned out.  The colors look perfect for fall and yet I know they'll work just fine for winter.

Materials:

size J crochet hook
scrap yarn in red, green brown, purple and off white

Instructions:

Make 28 small granny squares in four colors. You can divide the colors however you like.

Chain four.  Place hook in first chain and slip stitch to create a circle. Chain two.  Then double crochet two into circle.  Chain one.  Double crochet three.  Repeat two more times until you have four clusters.  Then join with slip stitch.

Slip stitch to corner.  Chain two.  Double crochet two.  Chain one.  In the same corner, double crochet three, chain one.  Double crochet three into next corner, chain one, double crochet three into the same spot.  Repeat until you have two clusters in each corner.  Slip stitch to finish.

Outline in off white using a single crochet stitch.  Sew in all loose ends.

Make 28 granny squares total using the four colors.

Join squares using single crochet.  This is a great video showing how to do this if you need a visual.  Make sure to sew in the rest of those loose ends!





Any questions?  Type them in the comment section below.


I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!  Are you?  It might be too late to join now, but you can always join the next one!




Monday, October 16, 2017

Monster Slime



Monster Slime.  Perfect for the ghoulish days to come!

My kids have been begging to make slime, particularly my son.  I was hesitant, however, because we still have slime on the ceiling from our last encounter with the ooey gooey mess-maker.  But, after a month-long (plus) ban, I decided to give it another try.  Besides, the homemade stuff isn't quite as goopy as its store-bought counterpart.

So I headed to Walmart for supplies while the kids were at school.  I came across a slime starter kit and it was on clearance.  My favorite!  It even had a recipe on the back.  This one was a little different than the slimes we have made in the past, but I figured it was worth a try.




The slime we made in the past called for glue, borax and water.  This one had glue, contact solution and baking soda.  When I looked at the contact solution ingredients, I saw that it contained boric acid, so I'm guessing that's a key component in slime-ification.




Did you know you can use a straw to blow bubbles in slime?  I hadn't thought of it, but apparently the kids are full of ideas. And it works quite well.  Go ahead, give it a try!




I will say that this one, made with the blue glitter glue (plus some extra blue glitter for good measure) worked the best.  The slimes made with clear glue and added food color and sprinkles seemed to seep water for some reason.

Below is the gold slime we made with clear glue, yellow food coloring and gold sparkles before it started to separate and get watery.



Slime Recipe
(from the back of the box)

Ingredients:

1 6-ounce bottle of glitter glue
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/4 tablespoons contact solution


Add baking soda to glue and mix thoroughly.  Add contact solution and stir until mixture gets firmer and slime begins to form.  

It's really easy, not to expensive and a lot of fun.  This is one of the easier and less messy slime recipes available, especially when you compare it to the cornstarch and water concoction my kids like to make.  That one I recommend for a warm summer day!


As a reminder, I'm taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!  


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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cinnamon Vacuum Powder?



I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  Check it out!

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I was so excited to try this one.  Ah, fall, and the warm and delicious smell of cinnamon!

I saw a tip on Pinterest to sprinkle some ground cinnamon on the floor, vacuum it up and continue vacuuming the rest of your house.  This is just plain old cinnamon, the one I use for baking.  The idea is that as the vacuum heats up, the cinnamon smell will fill the air.

Did it work?

In a word, no.  I put about a tablespoon of cinnamon on the floor, vacuumed it up and hoped for a delicious cinnamon smell to fill the air.  But I was left flat.  This Pinterest tip is not a keeper.  I really wish it worked.  Maybe if I sprinkle my rugs?  No, even if they did smell nice that way, the cinnamon has potential to stain.  I don't want to do that.

It's too bad, I thought this idea had great potential.  Looks like this is one I'll be deleting off my DIY boards!




Do you have any Pinterest ideas that fell flat?  Leave them in the comment section below.  I'd love to hear of your Pinterest fail!

Update: Days later I smelled the faint scent of cinnamon while vacuuming.  It was so faint that I had to stick my nose to my vacuum to confirm it.  I still don't recommend this idea.


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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Nice and Spicy Melt and Pour Soap



I've had some melt and pour glycerine soap ready to try since this summer.  I love glycerine soaps for my sensitive skin.  When I mentioned it to my mom when we were visiting this summer, she gave me a brand new package she had at her house.  I've been wanting to try it out, but until now I haven't had the motivation for a new project.  We moved this summer and other little things just kept creeping in.  Well, finally, soap made the list!

Nice and Spicy Melt and Pour Soap

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
pinch of turmeric
1 pound melt and pour glycerine soap
10 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil
Soap molds*

According to the directions on the mold, I melted the soap in a glass dish in the microwave.  I started with 30 seconds microwaved at 10 second intervals until it was melted completely.  (I am wondering if I should have melted it a smidgen more because by the time I poured my last soap, it was already hardening.)  Once it is melted, stir in spices and essential oil.  Lastly, pour into molds and wait about 40 minutes until it hardens.

*I got my soap molds at Michaels and I'm a little disappointed.  The more shallow bar molds cause the whole thing to dip, causing uneven hardening.   My original goal was to make it in a silicone loaf, but apparently I got rid of it in our move!




So do I like my Nice and Spicy Soap?  Yes.  I do.  I definitely felt a warming sensation from this soap but it surprisingly gentle considering my sensitive skin. My hands smell lovely after using it and my bedroom, where I store the soap, has a nice pumpkin spice fragrance!

As for the recipe, this site was helpful for inspiration.  She uses a different base and a few other things, but it was a good place to start with ideas.  I also found this site helpful with general soap-making instructions.

The one roadblock that I encountered, which I mentioned already, was the soap starting to harden before I poured my last bar.  Does anyone have any tips for me?  Any experienced soap makers?

Here's a picture to show you what I mean.




You can see the bar on the lower right has the product prematurely solidifying as evidenced by the chunks.

As a reminder, I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It's been blast so far and I recommend it to any fellow bloggers.  It's easy and effective.  Check it out!


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Friday, October 13, 2017

A Summer Tribute



Ok, this BLOGtober series is supposed to be about fall, but bear with me just a minute.  Fall is the perfect time to look back on your summer adventures.  And what better way to do that than creating a wonderful memory book?  I'm not a scrapbooker, and I almost regretted starting this project after the first page.  But once I got started I was pleased that I did.




One of my goals this year was to scrapbook our photos instead of just let them float in nebulous Internet land.  This is my attempt at that.  I like to have pictures that the kids can look through, things we can leave out.  I don't like being so tied to technology anyway.  This helps with that.




We had a very eventful summer and I wanted to capture all of its (good) moments so that we could look back and see that, yes, even through the absolute chaos we had a good time!  It will remind my family and me how wonderful the summer was.  I swear it wasn't all horrible!




Don't my kids look so cool!  Funny, but I think they pull it off.  

I'm not sure if I'll do another book like this once this one is done, but it was a good challenge to my imagination and I think it's looking good so far.

So tell me, do you print pictures anymore?  I stopped for a while.  Then I made photo books using Walmart's online photo service.  Now, I'm trying it the old fashioned way.  What do you do?

I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!


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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Minecraft Enderman Costume




My son always has a hard time picking out a Halloween costume.   Sometimes I just have to help him decide, but as he's gotten older he's been better able to figure it out.  My daughter, who was a pirate last year, is happy with a doctored up store-bought costume.  My son, however, really would rather make one for himself, which is fun if he decides with enough time to construct it.  From what I hear, my husband had a similar bent!

So last year, the day grew closer and no costume ideas were in sight.  I drove my daughter to the store to look for ideas and came back with a pirate outfit.  I think my son got nervous, but maybe it inspired him. Shortly after he landed on the idea of being an Enderman.  He showed me what an Enderman was, foreboding as that sounds, and I thought we could make it happen.

So I found a box and stapled a helmet from a previous Halloween costume into to the top of the inside of the box.  I cut out a strip of cardboard for his eyes and told him to paint it black.  At the dollar store we got glow sticks and put them on just in time for trick-or-treating.  For the rest of his outfit he simply wore all black.

For his treats, he covered and old trick-or-treat bucket with construction paper in the design of TNT.  You Minecraft fans will know what I'm talking about.





So there you have it.  A simple, mostly kid-made Minecraft costume that won't break the bank.  When it comes to costumes, store-bought isn't the only option!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pumpkin Pie Spice Review




Recently I've been thinking about fall-themed recipes and projects that I could include in my BLOGtober series, Time for Fall.  In addition to being fall-themed, I wanted the posts to also be useful.  So, after some thought I thought you might like to see a review of a DIY pumpkin spice mix.  I found the recipe here, but to be honest, you can find similar ones all over the web.

Here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Ingredients:

1/3 cup cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice

Click the link above to for complete instructions.

So my opinion?  4/5 stars.  I'm not sure what it was, because although this was good it was not quite perfect.  When I make pumpkin pie I skip the allspice and cloves.  Maybe that was it.  Either way, it was good, but I may look for another mix next time around.  And I will certainly use what I have.

Stay tuned for Nice and Spicy Soap and Pumpkin Spice Play Dough, both featuring this warm fall blend!




My very not pretty, not blog-friendly picture of the old cinnamon container I used to store my Pumpkin Pie Spice.  Sometimes you just have to use what you have on hand.  No fancy labels or jars, just an old plastic container and a sharpie!

Do you have any favorite homemade spice mixes?  This taco seasoning is my favorite of all time. I use it often.  It saves me money and I like it much better than store-bought mixes.

As a reminder, I'm taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Apple Pie Egg Rolls




This month I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!  It's a way to connect with fellow bloggers and increase your traffic (and theirs!).  If you haven't signed up already there still could be time.

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For this recipe, I used my mother's apple pie filling and cut the ingredients in half.  I also decided that because I'm still trying to control my weight, I wouldn't fry the rolls.  I know typically egg rolls are fried, but I thought they still would turn out ok if I baked them.

Turns out I was right!  These are great.  I would definitely make them again.  I may use a sugar free sweetener in the future just to see if that would work out but these are good as is.

It's funny how sometimes I think I have this novel idea but then when I type it into google, at least a hundred entries pop up.  That's what happened with these.  I should have known!





Here are the egg rolls right before I put them in the oven.  I put around 2-3 tablespoons of apple pie filling in each one, wet the roll with my finger and then wrapped it up.  Then I dampened the egg roll with water and rolled it in cinnamon sugar.

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

Egg roll wraps

Filling
3 cups peeled apples, diced
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
3/8 (half of 3/4) cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.  Mix all filling ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.  Place 2-3 tablespoons into each egg roll wrap.  Moisten edges of wrap and roll.  Then roll finished egg rolls in cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place egg roll on cookie sheet and repeat until all filling is gone. Bake for 20 minutes or until egg rolls are slightly browned.  Makes about 12-14 rolls.




Here is a picture of the page in my mom's recipe collection where I got the apple pie filling recipe.  If you can zoom in, you'll see a recipe for a delicious pie crust.  It sure does have a lot of shortening, but it's so worth it for the occasional treat.

Thanks for reading and check out the links below!


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Monday, October 9, 2017

14 Awesome Autumn Pins




This year I've tried to challenge myself and do some new things.  I did a 30 day challenge, I entered the fair and I moved!  I'm also currently participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  There's more, but suffice it to say it's been an eventful year.

Now that fall is here there are even more new things I want to try for this, my favorite season.  For me, Pinterest has been the perfect holding area for ideas, but my boards are chuck full of pins and I often wonder if I'll ever get around to even a quarter of them.  So, in the spirit of trying something new, I thought I'd make a list of 14 Autumn Pinterest Ideas right here to get myself moving.  Any more than that and I know I won't get to any of them!


To follow me on Pinterest, click here!


14 Awesome Autumn Pins

1.  Acorn wreath - This one doesn't come with instructions, but it sure looks cool.  I even have oak trees in my back yard.

2.  Pinecone wreath - Scroll down and you'll see this one.  No pine trees here, but I'm sure I could scavenge up some pine cones.

3.  Felt Owls - These are adorable!

4.  Harvest Gold Sunflower Hat - I love sunflowers.  I really should make this one.

5.  Halloween Garland - This one looks easy and cute.

6.  Halloween Hats - So cute.  Candy corn, spider webs and pumpkins, oh my!

7.  Pumpkin Coffee Mug Sleeve - With all the crocheting I've done, surprisingly I haven't made a mug sleeve.  I may have to remedy that!

8.  Pumpkin Doughnuts - I might try these this week.  I just found my donut pans so I'm ready to go.

9.  Owl Mug Cozy - another perfect little cozy

10.  Hat and Scarf Set in lovely fall colors.  So pretty.

11.  Thanksgiving Pretzel Turkeys - This is only a picture, but easy to follow I'm sure.

12.  Crochet Indian Corn - How have I not made this?

13.  No Bake Pumpkin Spice Pudding Pie - I don't have enough pumpkin recipes.  I have to try this.

14.  Homemade Pumpkin Spice Mix - I love making my own mixes.  Actually this taco seasoning I use ALL the time.



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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Why a Another Cooking and Craft Blog?




Fall is a wonderful time to reflect.  Today I ask the question, "why another cooking and craft blog?"  Well, the answer is simple: I enjoy cooking and making crafts and find both topics very easy to write about.  Not only that, this blog provides both you and me with a record of all the things I've done.  It's all there and easy to access.  Sometimes I want to repeat a craft or recipe and, click, there it is.  Totally practical.  Besides, I can reminisce about all the fun things I did through the years.  Having a record in words and photos means more and more the older I get (and I'm not quite 40 yet!).  It's totally worth the effort!

There are other things I like as much or even more, but have a hard time opening myself up to everyone about.  For example, I am very interested in spiritual things and have spent years of my life researching the depths of Christianity and other spiritual heritages.  I learned a lot and have quite a few opinions.  But writing about those things feels so vulnerable and I tend to be a bit of a closed book.  It may be time to change that, but not today!  I have private journals where I have worked through some of my biggest struggles.  I have pages and pages of spiritual discussion with myself.  Because of my faith background, I feel unable to be vulnerable with everyone in those areas.  I'm honest when people ask me, but putting it out there permanently takes a bigger commitment.

I also really enjoy science.  I used to be a biology teacher, remember?  I recently came upon one of the best books I've found in a long time.  It is a collection of one year's best science writing.  It was older and I bought it at a thrift store, but I think I'm going to get the most recent version soon.  It's called Best American Science Writing.  I've found I like less of the get down and dirty science, but more reading about it and thinking through it.  In other words, I would never want to work in a lab.  So why not write about science?  Maybe I will, but it takes far more effort than writing about my latest craft, and with young children it was more effort than I was willing to expend.  Now, though, it's a real possibility.

Anyway, I write about cooking and crafts because it's fun, light-hearted and I think it's a great way to leave a record of my times as a stay-at-home mom.  I'm not sure how long this season will last, but it's fun while it does!

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I am participating in The Ultimate Blog Challenge, a way to connect with other bloggers and increase blog traffic.  Click the link above or go here to the Facebook group.  It's a great way to bring your blog to the next level!

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

6 Things To Do With Canned Pumpkin




It's that time of year when the canned pumpkin hits the shelves.  Do yourself a favor and follow the sales.  When you can get it for around $1 a can, stock up!  I have found Aldi carries it for around $1 regular price, but it is only available seasonally.

6 Things To Do With Canned Pumpkin:
  1. Cake - Just grab a box of cake mix and add a can of pumpkin.  Mix and bake as usual.  Some people like to add a little water to lighten the consistency.  You can experiment with this but it is not needed.  You can do this with chocolate and no trace of pumpkin is detectable.  My husband who will NOT eat pumpkin flavored food will eat a devils food cake mix made with a can of pumpkin.  Spice Cake is also a great option, and more of the pumpkin flavor will come through.
  2. Pumpkin Bread - You need to try this pumpkin bread.  It's so good!
  3. Replace oil in some recipes - In my favorite pumpkin bread recipe, I have subbed extra pumpkin for the oil 1:1.  It changes the consistency, but it's great.  I've had other people try it and it passes the test! I haven't tried this in other recipes, but I bet in most quick breads it would work.  I might have to try pumpkin banana bread, replacing the oil with pumpkin.  I wonder if the pumpkin flavor would be masked by the banana?  My husband would be a good judge on this.
  4. Dog Treats - I haven't tried this one yet but I definitely plan to.  You can make dog treats using pumpkin and a few kitchen staples.  Here is a link one one recipe.  And here's another.
  5. Pumpkin Pie - This is the "duh" one on the list.  But really.  This is the best pumpkin pie I have ever had.  My mom found the recipe many years ago when she was making a pie for Thanksgiving.  She didn't have the sweetened condensed milk that many recipes call for.  So she went on the hunt to find something using regular milk.  Now this is before the internet, so I'm not sure how long the hunt took, but she found a treasure.  Here's a link to the recipe
  6. Pumpkin Butter - I came across this recipe during my 30 Days 30 Recipes Challenge.  It was from a Weight Watchers list, but I'm telling you it does not taste diet-y in the least!  Give it a try and I'm sure if you like pumpkin, you'll like this butter.



Everything on this list that canned pumpkin is used for, you can also sub your own cooked pumpkin.  Canned pumpkin is just so easy and if you get it on sale, relatively cheap.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Homemade Halloween 1980s Style, Baby!



I was born in the late 70s, so naturally that makes me a child of the 80s.  I read an article that someone posted on Facebook not too long ago describing my generation as caught somewhere between analog and digital.  Boy, was it spot on.  Any other readers caught somewhere between millennials and X-ers?

Regardless of exactly how I define myself, I have some good memories of Halloweens past.  My mom was very into the homemade costume, something I think my son must have inherited from her!  Every year as other children donned sweaty plastic masks, my mom suited us up in her latest creation.  I can't say I share the same affinity for making costumes, but the memories are fun!

In the picture above you can see my sisters as Alice's white rabbit and Winnie the Pooh.  I'm a flower.




This year we were certainly warm in our bunny costumes.  My sister and I matched.  I think we may have even won a prize at the local costume parade.  That happened more than once for sure!  




 I am just a little one in this picture.  My uncle is holding my cousin and me.  I'm the clown. Looks like there might have been a makeup mishap!  As you'll see below, the clown made a reappearance on my sister a year or two later.  No makeup on her.  That was the right move, mom.  




I'm hiding in the Donald Duck suit.  Can you believe my mom made all these costumes?  Not only cute, but that must have been a lot of work!  No wonder we won prizes.  These costumes were good!




Minnie Mouse, a pumpkin and an angel this year.  So cute.  Fun times!  What did you used to dress up in for Halloween?  Did your parents make costumes or buy them?  As parents, my husband and I do a bit of a combo.  Sometimes we buy and sometimes we make and sometimes the costume is a hybrid of sorts. 

Leave a comment below and share some memories!

As a reminder I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fun Painted Halloween Pumpkins




Thanks to everyone who has been visiting lately!  I am so excited to see new readers thanks to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  If you are a fellow blogger, check it out.  There's still time to join or you can think about getting on board in January. It's a great personal challenge and way to connect with other bloggers. 

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Here's a peek at what we did last year.  Every year we head out to the pumpkin patch, one of our favorite fall activities!  After we each pick out a pumpkin, feed the goats and eat some ice cream, we bring our treasures home.  Sometimes we carve and sometimes we paint.  As you can see from the pictures, last year we painted.

The pumpkin above is my husband's artistic creation.  Funny enough, he did an eyeball two years in a row.  And even funnier, it didn't dawn on him that this was a repeat until the pumpkin was nearly complete.  He's got a theme going!

The pumpkin below is my daughter's creation.  She chose a batman theme.  Cute, right?  At the time I didn't even know she was into batman.  Go figure.  My daughter is all about trying new things whenever she gets the chance.  She's always open to a new experience and when she gets bored she likes to try the next new thing.  Right now it's soccer and unicorns.  She really is a fun person.






My son went with a classic Halloween monster, complete with bloody tooth.   I think it's a zombie.  He's really quite the good artist.  He's the kid who likes to make everything on his own including Halloween costumes.  We were in the store just the other day and came across some pretty cool costumes.  He even tried some on.  When asked if he wanted one, his response was, "I think I just want to make my own".  If you remember the lobwhale, you'll see that this unique creativity is classically my son.






I chose to paint two gourds this time.  I'm pretty sure my pumpkin rotted by the time I got to it!  So, gourds it was.  I must have been feeling feminine that day and went with a flowery, sparkly theme.  I think the gourds turned out pretty, but they are a bit out of place with the rest of the bunch!  

We are each our own unique people in my family.  I was talking to my husband the other day about this because my daughter and son are almost opposites in their personalities.  This lead to discussion of my siblings and me.  While we all share some quality or other, the five of us are distinct.  It's funny how people can have such diverse personalities even when their backgrounds are much the same.  I guess we all have something different to offer the world.  And that's a good thing.






So there you have it, some inspiration for your pumpkins this year.  Stay tuned to see this year's creations!  I wonder if there'll be another eyeball.



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