Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Trick or treating is the culminating event in the Halloween season.  Pumpkins have been carved, costumes purchased or made, candy bought and ready to hand out.

Jason came home a little early from work so that we could get the kids ready and out on the town for fun and excitement.  And while he fed the kids their grilled cheese, I finished cleaning up the house a bit.

Sarah looked awesome in her Rapunzel costume.  She agreed to wear both the wig (which she hated due to its itchiness) and tiara (which is sized more for an adult and falls off easily).


Chris was comfier and probably warmer in the dino suit.  He loved being dressed up, crouching and growling at all the kids.  He also liked having his hands in the "claw" mittens that were attached to the costume.  Not bad for a $5 consignment sale find!

So here's how the Trick or Treating (ToT) went down....we met up with all the neighbor kids a few houses away and we left candy out on the porch for kids while we were gone.  I intended to bring Chris to just a few houses and then bring him home to help me hand out candy to the ToTers.  I was on my way back when I realized that Jason had the house keys, so I turned and had to jog back to catch up with him.  I finally caught up with him when Sarah's hair and tiara were falling off.  She ran off, I ran after her (leaving Chris with Jason) only for me to trip in someone's yard and I fell to the ground in spectacular fashion.  Turns out Sarah didn't want her tiara anymore, so I went back, grabbed Chris and carried him home.  Dinosaurs are heavy.

All in all, the kids had a GREAT time.  Sarah got more candy than she'll eat in a year (some will disappear I'm sure).  Chris seemed to enjoy the few treats he sampled.

  Happy Halloween!  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Pie Pork Tenderloin

I cruised around the internet earlier in the week looking for recipe inspiration for a pork-related dinner that incorporated apples.  This isn't quite the same as any recipe I found, but it's what I made and boy was it tasty!

Apple Pie Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 1/2 apples, diced smallish (I had Granny Smith, so I used those)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a bit of water
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400*.  Place pork tenderloin in a baking dish.  Season with salt & pepper.

In a separate bowl mix up apples, brown sugar, corn starch and cinnamon. 

Pour apple mixture over pork, cover tightly with foil, and place in oven.  Bake for ~25 minutes then remove from oven and spoon juicy apple juices over pork and return to oven for ~15 minutes. 

Please use a meat thermometer for your pork as cooking times can vary depending on size/shape of your roast.  Pork should be cooked to around 145-150* internally. 

This tasted like pork chops & applesauce. Or a delicious sweet/savory meat/pie combo.  YUM!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ghost Cookies

As if Halloween didn't already provide piles of ooey-gooey, sweet, delicious treats I decided to whip up something in the spirit of Halloween.  Whip these up in the evening and you'll have cookies by morning.

Ghost Cookies

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Prep 2 cookie sheets with parchment and cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350*

Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Beat in sugar, vanilla and salt.

Using piping bag and LARGE tip, pipe about 2 tablespoons into a ghost shapes about 1.5" apart.  I didn't have a large tip, so I just used the large coupler.

Place the cookie sheets in the preheated oven, close the door and *turn the oven off*.  Don't open the oven until morning and you'll have delicious perfect ghosts.

Using gel frosting (I used orange) add little dot eyes and a mouth to create that ghosty look.

  Happy Halloween!!  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sewing Something Simple

A few weeks back was the big Halloween costume fabric fiasco.  One little tidbit that I had actually forgotten about was that along with various purple sparkly fabrics for princess dresses, I also snagged 2 yards of blue and green geometric printed flannel to make a new crib sheet for the little guy's bed.

Now maybe I'm just a slacker mom, but my kid is often dirty at nap time.  This is why his sheets are downright dingy.  Even fresh out of the dryer, they no longer look crisp and new.  So between that and the fact that I think he'd like something soft and fuzzy for winter, I decided that it was well within my skill level to sew a new crib sheet.

And so I went to the old world-wide-web to search for a "pattern" or more specifically a method for sewing a crib sheet.  And since I had luck with a circle skirt, I went with the method here.

I started out by washing the fabric, which made the flannel even softer.

Just $5 on sale at Joann - score!

I then trimmed the fabric to the required size (67" x 45") and clipped out 8" squares from the corners.

Next was pinning and sewing the corners.  This was super quick and simple.

Then to create a casing for the elastic, I doubled over the hem, ironed it down, and sewed all but 2" on one end.  Here's where the confession comes in...I am not very well acquainted with my sewing machine.  I got it for Christmas last year and just haven't done much with it.  So somewhere along the line something started going wrong and it's been frustrating me these last few weeks trying to figure out how to fix it.  I called my mom for advice, and she wisely told me to refer to the manual.  So I did.  I re-threaded the damn thing about 6 times, rewound the bobbin, and the last thing I tried was re-seating the needle.  I think that last thing fixed it.  So this little part of the project took longer and a lot more swearing than it needed to just because I didn't put the needle in the machine right.

Using a safety pin stuck in one end of a 80" piece of elastic, I worked it through the casing.  Once it went through I stitched the elastic together and finished off the casing.  I'll be truthful here.  Pushing the elastic through was one of the most annoying things ever.  I had to rip open the casing in 3 places because the safety pin popped open and was either stuck or got unhooked from the elastic.  This was by far the most time consuming part of the project, taking me over an hour.  I don't have a picture of this because it would just be a picture of me sitting on the couch with a clump of fabric on my lap.

The verdict?  Chris LOVES his new sheet.  When we put him in there with it for nap time he danced around stomping his feet and then he curled up and rubbed his face on it.  So soft!

Just another "quick" project.  I'm convinced that people who say this is a 15 minute project are pro-sewers or at the very least have a much better understanding of their sewing machines than I do.  I'm still glad I made it though, it was a good way for me to get to know the machine a little better.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

Each year at the start of the "Halloween season" we head on over to the pumpkin patch.  The place we go is called Linvilla Orchard and they have pick-your-own produce (whatever is in season), hayrides, animals, a big playground, and pumpkinland.

This year's trip was probably the most beautiful day in WEEKS, seriously it was amazing.

We started in the farm-themed playground area.  I almost can't believe I got them both smiling at the camera at the same time!

It's amazing to see how Chris is starting to play like the big kids.

Next up was a train ride which Chris really enjoyed.  He kept saying "choo choo!"

We moved on to the animals.  Chickens (which Chris went at with a stick), turkeys, peafowl, ducks, sheep, goats a few pigs and a horse.  Oh and there was an area with deer.  I kinda felt bad for the deer.

Next we headed over to Pumpkinland, an area with tons of large crates filled with pumpkins of all sizes.  We skipped the hayride (planning for that next year) and jumped right into pumpkin selection.  It was almost too hard to choose, big, small, white, orange.  They even had a few GIANT pumpkins which required assistance of staff to purchase.  We finally decided on two big, a small, and two miniature pumpkins.  I love the little "Jack Be Little" pumps, so cute.  We'll see if they last until Halloween since they're usually the favorite of squirrels.  

It was pretty clear that we were reaching the end of Chris' day (the poor kid can't even make it until noon most days before he starts wanting to nap).  So we settled up with the farmers and headed over to the food stand for a snack.

Best. Funnel Cake. Ever.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Sometimes things just work out and it's such a fabulous feeling.

This week, the big girl has a field trip to a nearby arboretum.  It's a rain-or-shine type event and the weather man says it's going to pour all day.  If I were one of those super-prepared moms, this wouldn't be an issue because my kid would probably own an entire rain suit to weather a day tromping through muddy puddles and slick grass.  But, alas, I am not such a mom.  I'm a wait-until-the-last-minute type of mom.

At noon on Monday night I saw the weather forecast.  I  borrowed a pair of rainboots from a neighbor (whose daughter has feet about the same size as my girl's feet even though she's a good 5 years older).  I then began scouring the web for places that might have raincoats.  It's October, raincoat season is OVER.

Every place I checked online had coats and jackets available online only, but I figured my best bet was Target  in their camping section.  So while the girl was at preschool this morning the boy and I headed over to the Big Red Bullseye.

It was like a dream....I spotted the shiny pinkness out of the corner of my eye.  I pushed the cart over and found a hot-pink girls raincoat in a 7/8 out of place between two winter jackets.  Sure, my kid wears a 5/6, but a 7/8 isn't so bad, right?  I grabbed it up and continued to walk around in hopes that I'd find the proper rack of raincoats and maybe one in the right size.  Nope, this was it.

Goofy monkey modeling her new coat
It's a little big, we have to roll the sleeves, but it's the perfect color since it matches pretty much all her clothes.  She loves it!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Paper Candle Wraps

I'm a crafty-ish person and willing to try all kinds of cool things, but I'm not usually the idea person.  I scour the internet for creative and easy (cheap) things to do to make my house pretty, fun, holiday themed, etc.  But today I actually thought something up and it turned out so cute!

I few days ago I had bought some black cardstock to make paper bats for the living room.  I just sat looking at it when it occurred to me what else I could do with it!  

On my console table below our tv, I have these mercury glass pillar candle holders with each holding a 6" tall vanilla scented pillar.  Not very Halloweene-y.  But using a silver sharpie (these things are amazing and I highly recommend you keep some around for various projects) and some of that black cardstock, I was able to fashion the candles into something a little more spooky.

Using the sharpie I drew spider webs (and one dangly spider) along the long edges one piece of cardstock.  The spider webs only went about 3" up on each side.

After that, I cut the paper so that there was a nice zig-zaggy edge.  

Then I wrapped it around the pillar and taped it in place.  Plunk it back on the candle holder (with the seam at the back) and  TADA!!!

This craft is ONLY for candles that are decorative or flameless.  Do not burn candles wrapped in paper

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baby Steps

When we bought our house, the landscaping (if you could even call it that) was dismal.  Ugh, overgrown grass, a few shrubs, tons of weeds.  But it was the dead of winter so I figure we'd get to it in the spring.  And we did!

The first to go were a bunch of overgrown hydrangeas.  I like hydrangeas, but these were just crazy big and planted in odd spots in the side yard.  Next up was this enormous yew that had grown so large that it obscured part of the dining room window.  We put in 2 veggie patches and cleared out a bunch of over-sized azaleas that were lining the driveway and we added some day-lilies and roses.  So nice.  One item that we had wish-listed was building a big bed for shrubs, flowers, etc. to stretch all the way around the house.  Such a HUGE task seemed insurmountable.  Really, where would we start?

After some serious procrastinating, I figured the only way we'd get it done would be to do it piece by piece so I devised a Phase 1 plan for the front left corner.

The first task would have to be stump removal.  Next to the front porch was a rotting tree stump.  Probably 12" in diameter and just about 9" up from the ground.  It had likely been there for a while and it had to go.  Not only was it getting in the way of our landscaping plans, but I was worried that a family of bees might take up residence and chase the kids around.

So out it came.

Well that simplifies a pretty long, grueling, sweaty, profanity laced process which I was happy to supervise.  Armed with a pickax and a big old shovel, J went at it.  It wasn't until he was about 18" into the dirt on all sides of that sucker that he sat down and started kicking at it.  It must have been just the leverage he needed because a loud *CRACK* let us know that it was almost ready to emerge.  When he finally pulled it out of the ground, the thing was nearly 3 feet long.  I'm not sure how we'll get rid or it, but for now it will reside in the driveway.  That was Saturday.

Sunday we headed out to Home Depot to pick up some shrubs.  A Japanese holly (I think), a few spreading junipers, a dwarf alberta spruce, and we had a pieris to transplant from another bed where it was getting squooshed between two larger plants.  When we got home, I grabbed the spade and edged out the bed.  This bed is probably 15% of what we'll have eventually, but it's a good start.  Once we got the grass out (and shook out the excess dirt), we laid out the plants and got to digging holes.  Mixing in some fresh garden soil as we went, it only took about an hour to get the plants in.  We mulched, cleaned up, watered and then it was time to watch football.

Turned out pretty good I think,  and it was a nice way to spend a PERFECT weather weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blanket for A Wee One

I enjoy knitting but a girl only needs so many blankets, socks, scarves, hats, shawls, etc. around her house.  And as I'm fully stocked with things like this (not that it really holds me back, but I digress...), I get super excited when I come up with a gift I can knit for someone else!  One of my nearest and dearest was nearing the due date for her baby!!

It gives me the opportunity to head to the knitting shop (with my mom) and peruse the myriad colors and textures of the yarn.  I like to imagine what an unlimited budget and loads of uninterrupted knitting time, but alas that is not my life so I stick to modest priced yarns and patterns that are quick especially since I needed to get the project done before the baby was born walking.  So I went with a lovely variegated yarn and improvised the pattern (not invented as I've seen this blanket before).  By doubling up the yarn and using fat needles (US13), the stitches were GINORMOUS (especially when compared to the socks I tend to knit) and the blanket knit up super quick!

The weight is thick enough without being heavy, and the size is big enough for good coverage even when it's folded over.

 Sadly blanket delivery was delayed due to my own kids colds (no need to spread germs to new arrivals), but now that everyone is healthy it was the perfect day for a quick visit with little miss S.  I was so glad to get it to her just as the weather is starting to cool off for the fall.

And now that this is done, I can refocus on knitting the Christmas stocking!


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