Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I Made it Through the Ultimate Blog Challenge!

Just like that, October is gone!

And I did it!  I made it through the Ultimate Blog Challenge with 31 posts in 31 days.  Yeah!

I thought I might quit for a second there.  With one late post and another just barely squeaked in on time on the 20th I stared to lose hope and ideas!  But then the juices started to flow and I was renewed.  I made it through these 31 days and I'm so pleased!

I didn't think I would use any of the prompts provided by Paul Taubman, but the question and answer idea was the perfect fog-lifter to set me back on track.  You all asked me such great questions.  Thank you for interacting.

Thank you for your feedback yesterday.  I'm going to try one tip that someone suggested.  Tell me in the comments below if you can figure it out!  

It was good to hear that my site is easy to navigate.  I try to make it that way, but I know sometimes what seems easy to one may be difficult to another.

Thank you also for the suggestion to join Wordpress.  I have another blogger friend who really enjoys using that platform.  I am not one who loves change but I will definitely think on it!  I will be starting a new blog this upcoming January, chronicling personal growth.  I will consider WordPress for this even though I've already started prepping in Blogger.

Lastly, I will try to add more content regularly and continue work on things to make this site as user-friendly as possible.

Happy Halloween!

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Any Feedback?
10 Fun Facts About Me

Monday, October 30, 2017

Any Feedback?

Now that the Ultimate Blog Challenge is drawing to a close and I won't be sharing a new post quite as often, I am asking you for feedback.  I know there is still one more day to go, but I don't want to forget this important post.  It's been great interacting with you all and many of you have left me comments and questions.  I even wrote a whole post answering some of them.  Thanks for the inspiration!

Looking at the traffic on specific posts, I can guess what people want to see.  But today I am asking what you like most and what you like least. I am asking what you think I could improve and what you think works.

Is my site easy to navigate? On a computer? Tablet? Phone?

Are there any simple changes just staring you in the face?  Have you thought, "why doesn't she just...?"

Be honest.  I'm not asking for a bashing, but in high school I learned an important lesson while working with a friend in an independent study class.  Constructive criticism, while it can sting a little, really helps us to move beyond where we are.  It's one of the most important lessons I took away from school.  I feel like the Ultimate Blog Challenge has really helped me improve.  But your feedback will help even more.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comment section below and THANK YOU so much for contributing.  Blogging is so much more fun with an audience!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fall Menu - What We Ate This Week

Sunday - Party food at housewarming party (kielbasa, mac and cheese, taco dip with tortilla chips, veggies and dip, black forest trifle, whoopee pies, and more!)

Monday - Pasta with meat sauce, garlic bread

Tuesday -  Pasta salad, subs

Wednesday - Baked chicken breast seasoned with Goya Adobo, baked beans, green beans, brown rice

Thursday - Baked ziti, salad

Friday - Egg sandwiches

Saturday - Taco Soup - again!  We really like this stuff.  I'm so glad I found the recipe.

I don't have a link to any new recipes this week.  You can click on the taco soup above for that recipe.  It's very good. I use my own taco seasoning in the recipe instead of the packaged kind.  The ranch dressing mix I have never replicated, so I use the pack for that.

What did you eat this week?  Tell me in the comment section below!

You might also like:
Taco Soup
Homemade Taco Seasoning

Saturday, October 28, 2017

31 BLOGtober Post Ideas

Are you participating in a BLOGtober Challenge?  Perhaps you're taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge like me.  If so, you might be looking for ideas.  Here are 31 ideas you can use this fall or save for next year!

Are you ready?

31 BLOGtober Post Ideas

1.  A fall dessert recipe - Either create a recipe of your own or review one you've been wanting to try.

2.  A fall craft for kids - Create a tutorial for a children's craft.

3.  A fall craft for anyone - Show your readers something you made and tell them how they can make it too!

4.  A list of to-dos for the upcoming holiday season - Octobers is the perfect time to start getting ready for the holiday season.  Help your readers plan ahead

5.  Trick-or-Treat ideas - With Halloween at the end of the month, help your readers get ideas for trick-or-treaters.  Check out this post.

6.  Costume ideas - Give your readers an idea for a specific costume or generate a list of ideas.

7.  Pumpkin carving idea - Give your readers some ideas!

8.  Pumpkin Painting ideas - Give a tutorial or just display your work.  Check out this post or this one.

9.  Ways to save for Christmas with a savings timeline included - We all know the holidays can cost big time.  Help your readers with a way to save money for the upcoming season.

10.  Thanksgiving menu ideas - Give your readers ideas on delicious Thanksgiving fare so they can come up with a menu before the last minute.  I have a post like this.

11.  Your fall family traditions - Share your family's favorite fall traditions.

12.  A fall supper recipe

13.  A fall snack recipe

14.  Fall decor ideas - Give your readers some tips on decorating for fall

15.  Fall Pinterest ideas - Make a list of things you want to do that you've found on Pinterest.

16.  Fall Pinterest fails - This could be funny if you failed at one of your Pinterest attempts.

17.  Fall recipe magazine review - Get a fall edition of a recipe magazine such as Taste of Home and review it.

18.  Fall craft magazine review - Find the fall edition of your favorite craft magazine and let your readers know what you think.  It might even be fun to find an old version from the 80s and do a review on that!

19.  DIY fall-scented soap - I made some here, but you can make your own recipe and share it with your readers.

20.  Quiz - How Much Do You Know About Pumpkins? -  Generate a quiz for your readers.  This can be a lot of fun!

21.  Favorite Blog Resources - Give your readers ideas on where to get free pictures or anything else you might find useful.  Share the love!  Here's a post I did sharing free photo resources.

22.  Fall Menu - Create either a menu of things you've eaten weekly this fall or generate a menu with ideas for your readers using recipes from your site.  Here's an example.

23.  5 Ideas for Leftover Pumpkins - What are you readers going to do with their leftover pumpkins?  Give them some ideas.

24.  Review of your local apple orchard - I do this here.

25.  Review of your local pumpkin patch - I do this here.

26.  Quiz - How Much Do You Know About Halloween? - another great quiz idea.

27.  Fall Favorites - Make a list of all your fall favorites from pumpkin spice lattes to cozy sweaters.

28.  Reflection on the summer - Use this time to think about the great times you had.  You might even want to create a photo album like I did here.

29.  Recipe Roundup - take all your fall recipes and put them into one post.  Here's one I did with pumpkins and one I did with apples.

30.  Homemade Gift Calendar - Make a calendar so your readers can get ready for the upcoming holidays.  We all know that handmade gifts take time.  Give your readers a timeline they can fill in with a work schedule to help keep them on task with creating their homemade gifts.

31.  Reflect on the season of fall - Check out my post here.  I reflect on the blessing of autumn.

So there you have it!  Next BLOGtober you have no excuse!  And in the meantime, use some of these ideas as the fall season comes to a close.  Your readers will appreciate it I'm sure.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Painted Pumpkins 2017

We visited the pumpkin patch this past Saturday.  And every day, multiple times a day since then my daughter has been asking when we were going to paint our pumpkins.  You see, she just loves to have fun!  And, a week or so ago, I found the best idea on Pinterest for her.  She loves unicorns right now and I saw the cutest little unicorn pumpkin.  When I saw it she had already gone to bed, but I peeked in and saw she was awake and just had to show her.  That unicorn has been on her mind for over a week now and she finally got to make it!

We all had fun.  I went with a simple cartoonish character, my husband found an idea for a kooky vampire on Pinterest and I think my son was inspired by Larry from Veggie Tales because that pumpkin looks awfully familiar!  And lest we forget Teddy, the infamous bear in our house, he too participated in the festivities, painting a honey pot (apropos, right?) on his pumpkin.  LOL!  If you've been around us long enough, you'll know Teddy is a permanent fixture around here.  I'm not sure my son will ever grow tired of him.  I'm not sure I will either!

So now with our pumpkins all decorated we have to figure out costumes for this coming Tuesday.  My daughter's is squared away and I'm guessing you can figure out what she'll be.  Let me know if you can figure it out in the comment section below!  My son's costume is decided but he hasn't started working on it yet.  He wants to be another Minecraft character.  It's going to be Steve this time.  Check out his costume from last year.  If you have kids into Minecraft I know they'll love it.  I think I'll coax him into starting a little sooner this year.

One complication for Halloween around here is that we're trying to avoid or greatly reduce food dyes.  That can be tricky with candy pouring from the sky.  So I'm not going to be too neurotic.  I told the kids they can have whatever they like on Halloween, then I have a plan.  I bought some organic candy without food dye to switch out after the big day.  I bought good stuff too.  It's not healthy by any means, but I think some of us around here don't do so well with food dyes and we're trying again at an experiment we failed at in the past.

I hope you found some inspiration here and Happy Halloween!

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Fun Painted Pumpkins
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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Free Fall Photos

When I first started my blog back in 2012, I tried to take my own photos for each of the posts.  Sometimes that just wasn't possible, though.  So I looked online to see what there was and realized that I couldn't just copy and paste photos from random sites.  You'd think I'd have known that, right?

After a little research I found out that there were sites with free usable pictures, free even without attribution.  The first site I got many pictures from was Pippalunacy.  They require no attribution, payment, or link back.  They do appreciate any of those things but do not require it.  Click here and you can see their licensing information.

Here is a picture I found from Pippalunacy of some lovely fall pear tree leaves.   All you do to get the picture is download, click and drag.  Of course you can modify it, and sometimes I do.  I have a MacBook Pro and use the download picture preview window to modify the image.  I don't have any special programs, just what my 5-year-old computer came with.  Below you'll see a modified image of the same picture.

I rarely visit Pippalunacy these days, but maybe I ought to.  If I'm not snapping my own pictures for a recipe or craft, I typically head over to Pixabay.  This site has pretty much the same rules as Pippalunacy but there are far more pictures to choose from.  Here is a picture of a nice fall image from Pixabay.

And here is a modified version of it with a link back to the original page.  It's really easy to make a few personal touches to make an image your own.  And with this free site, it's allowed!

Original here.

I would highly recommend these two sites if you need pictures for your blog.  Thank you Pippalunacy and Pixabay for this wonderful service!  When I started using pictures I thought it was too good to be true.  But it's not!  

Do you have a favorite site you use to help with blogging?  Let me know in the comment section below!

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mom's Meatballs

I'm not what you'd call meatball snob.  I'll eat most any meatball served.  And most meatballs I've had are not bad.  Some have been bad, really bad, but most are decent.  Only three, however, have stood out as top tier meatballs.  One, obviously, is my mom's.  Another is my friend's family recipe.  She won't share it.  It's locked down and buried deep.  So I there's no hope of letting you in on that one!  The other one is a meatball my high school field hockey coach's mom made.  I had it and thought to myself, these are the same as my mom's!  They were an instant winner.

My mom's meatballs are pretty basic.  That's one thing I've learned, though. Your recipes don't need a thousand ingredients to taste good.  Just a few quality ingredients mixed in the right proportions will land you a winner most times.  With all that said, here's the recipe!

Mom's Meatballs


1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 or 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (homemade or store bought)
2 eggs
2 half eggshells full of water
handful of parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients together, adding enough breadcrumbs to make the mixture firm but not dry.  Start with a cup and go up as needed to get the consistency described.  Form into balls, the size of your choosing.  Broil a few minutes, just until browned.*  This is to drain fat, not fully cook the meatball.  Place browned meatballs in red sauce and simmer about 1 hour.

Meatballs can also be browned in the microwave starting at 3 minutes, then checking for doneness.  Once again, this is to drain fat, not fully cook the meat.

The slow cooker can be used to finish your meatballs in sauce, but I don't advise cooking them longer than 4-5 hours on low.  Any longer than that and you'll end up with over-cooked meat that tastes more like canned fare than delicious cuisine.  You don't want that!

Thanks for stopping by.  And as a reminder I'm participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Your Questions Answered

Yesterday I asked if you had any questions.  You did!  Today I answer them.  I think I can squeeze most of them in, so let's get started!

Q.  What made me start my blog?

A.  Around the year 2000 I wrote for a page called DyingDays.  It was a site around before blogs were popular.  There were about 10 writers and we shared pieces that gave insight into our lives.  It was mostly spiritual and reflective, but non-religious.  It was a lot of fun.

In 2009 I began my first blog, Just Jill: Thoughts From A Curious Mind.  It's still out there in the ether, ha!  I had a lot on my mind and I really wanted to write about it.  Looking back, that was probably when I started my spiritual seeking.  I lacked discipline, however, and some of the things I wrote about didn't have real insight.  Besides that, there was no real unity of purpose.  It was just whatever came to mind.  I don't regret it, because you have to take a step to start on the journey.  I think that's what that was.

In 2012 I decided to start this blog.  But this time I wanted to do it with purpose.  I picked things that I was good at and enjoyed so that I would keep up with it.  If you look through the timeline on the side, you'll see some dry periods, but I have always come back.  I really enjoy writing and having a clear focus has helped me to continue writing.  I also like to look back.  This blog is a photo album or scrapbook of sorts.

As a sidenote, in between and during all this I attempted a novel and a short story with some other garbage thrown in for good measure.  The blog, however, was immediate and satisfying.

So long story short, I started this blog because I wanted to write.  I write what I write because I like it and there's never a shortage of material.

Q.  Why did I elect to participate in the Ultimate Blog Challenge?

A.  This summer when I challenged myself to write 30 posts in 30 days, I thought there must be some challenge in which to take part.  I scoured the internet and found two that seemed good.  I chose this one because it looked great.  There weren't any crazy rules and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun.  And it is!  Lastly, I was hoping for more traffic.  I got it and it's exciting!

Q.  Do I do my handiwork in social settings?

A.  I bring crochet when I visit friends.  They have grown to expect it.  I don't bring things to meetings, though.  I've always felt too rude, but I've wanted to!

Q.  What's the most unusual thing I've crocheted?

A.  I don't think I've made anything weird, though now I want to!  My husband jokes about crochet underwear, but I don't think I'll do it.  Then again, Christmas is coming!

Q.  What is my favorite thing to make and how often do I make it?

A.  For food, probably pizza.  I make it sometimes weekly but at least a couple times a month.  For crafts, blankets and granny squares and often blankets made of granny squares.  I'm usually working on a granny square.

So, there you have it, your questions answered.  I hope to see you all come back here even after the blog challenge ends next week.  It's been great having people to interact with on a regular basis.  Before this I think a few friends and my mom were the only readers!  While I appreciate their readership wholeheartedly, it's been so great to branch out!!

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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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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


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


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


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.


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


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)


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!


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


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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