Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chalk Painted Pumpkins

Heirloom pumpkins are so charming with their shapes and colors.
And the grey/blue color of  Cinderella pumpkins, 
are some of my favorites. 
I love mini pumpkins too.
The colors of minis are a little limited, great as they are.
I thought I'd change up some minis 
with a chalk paint I've been wanting to try.

I picked up these cute little pumpkins
and some Americana chalk paint. 
The 2 oz. bottle is just the right size to try out the paint, 
without a big expense. 

Make sure your pumpkin surface is clean and dry. 

So lovely.
This cream color is called Whisper
After one coat, you can still see some of the dark pumpkin stripes.
I like the effect but was hoping this color would be a little more yellow.

I mixed a some of this chalk paint with Americana acrylic Marigold.

Just gives it that perfect yellow tint.
Here are how all the colors turned out:

1.this is the mix of Whisper and acrylic Marigold
2. Vintage (a blue/grey with a green tint)
3. this one isn't painted, just natural white!
4. Serene
5. Primitive
Chalk paint is so easy to use.
I'm defiantly going to have to use it on another project.

Now to display these beauties!
Find a container.  
I've been searching for years for a long wooden bowel
and recently found this one at Marshals. Score!
Pick up some floral moss at the dollar store.

Arrange your pumpkins.

Love the muted colors.
They fit right in with my living room.
So excited for this arrangement to display this Fall.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Cauliflower

I think cauliflower is the forgotten vegetable. I don't quite understand why no one really cares for it. I love the stuff. I make a bee-line to cauliflower whenever I see a veggie tray. I also like to serve cauliflower as a side dish with dinner. Here's my recipe for Halloween Cauliflower.

Halloween Cauliflower 

1 small head of orange cauliflower
1 small head of purple cauliflower 
You can find colored cauliflower at any grocery store. 
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
Dash of Pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Dry, plain bread crumbs 

First, cut up your cauliflower heads and cook in a saucepan of boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes. You don't want the cauliflower overcooked just fork tender. Drain water and place cauliflower in an oven safe casserole dish. I just love those bright colors! 

Now, it's time to work on the cheese sauce. In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour and pepper. Stir constantly until you create a nice paste. Then, add milk all at once and cook and stir until sauce is thick and bubbly. Add cheese and stir some more until melted. Pour sauce over cauliflower and mix making sure everything is well blended. 

Finally, sprinkle your cauliflower with dry, plain bread crumbs. Place cauliflower dish in your oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Just until everything is well heated through. And, enjoy! 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall Stuffed Peppers

I've come to love red, yellow and orange peppers. 
Great flavor, they're a little sweeter than green bell peppers. 
The next time they go on sale, buy some in these Fall colors.
Bake in your crock pot.

Stuffed Peppers

7-8 peppers
1/2 onion chopped
1 lb. hamburger
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. Worcester sauce
2 cups cooked rice
1  8oz can tomato sauce
1 14 oz can petite cut tomatoes
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed & drained (optional)
dried parsley flakes

Check out these lovely peppers!
Cut off the tops and clean out the insides.

Save the tops!
Take at least 5 of the tops and cut out the stems. 
Chop up the remaining pepper pieces. 
Throw this along with your onion in with the hamburger to cook.

Then drain and let the meat mixture cool. 
In a large bowl, mix all your other ingredients.
Saving out 1/4 cup of cheese. 
Add the meat and mix it all together.

I lined my crock pot with foil, 
(it just helps them not stick to the side of crock pot while cooking)
Stuff your peppers and sit inside.

If you have some extra mixture left over, 
save it and microwave for those who don't like peppers (yes I have a few).
Cook on high for 4 hours or until peppers are tender.
Sprinkle tops with your extra cheddar cheese and parsley.
They are sooo good! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Printable be THANKFUL Banner

November is all about 
pumpkin spice, 
Autumn leaves,
 friends, family 
and counting your blessings. 
Remember to be THANKFUL with this printable banner.  

Supplies you'll need are:
5 sheets of scrapbook paper
5 sheets of card stock
1 package double fold 1/2" bias tape
Elmers glue/sewing machine/scissors

I'm using brown bias tape and card stock.  
Five different scrapbook papers that you can find {here}.
Print off your banner flags: 


Make sure to print page one on regular computer paper,
this is your triangle pattern for the card stock.
Print pages 2-5 on your scrapbook paper.  
You can use one design of paper or choose five different, like I did above.
It's set up to print so that when you put your banner together,
 your letters will alternate, each on a different color paper.

Cut out your 9 card stock triangles and cut out your letter flags.
Glue the letter flags on top of the card stock, 
matching top edges.

Stack your flags in the order you will be sewing them.
Measure in 10" on your bias tape and insert the first flag.

Back stitch and sew right down the middle.
Insert the next flag about 1/4" from the last.
Continue on until the last flag is in.
Back stitch, measure 10" and cut the bias tape.

This is one of my favorite banners.
I hope you'll make one for your home.
I've shared these with friends, family, college students and missionaries.
What are 3 things you're thankful for today?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Homemade Taquitos

Enjoy these Taquitos tonight with your family!  So easy and delicious- and fun for kids to help make too!

Homemade Taquitos

3-4 Chicken Breasts cooked and shredded
1/4 Cup Chicken Broth
Flour Tortillas
1/2 Cup Moterary Jack Cheese or Cheddar
1 Can (use about half or to taste) diced tomatoes with chilies and onion
Canola Oil

Mix shredded chicken with chicken broth to keep moist.  Add cheese and diced tomatoes with chilies and onions.  Place about 3 Tbsp. of mixture on one end of a tortilla and roll up securing with a toothpick.  Make up several taquitos and then warm up enough oil to generously cover the bottom of a skillet at medium high heat.   Fry up your taquitos on all sides until lightly browned. Makes about 10 taquitos. 
We have some picky eaters in our family so we usually make half of our taquitos with chicken and cheese and tomatoes and half plain with just chicken inside.  To help decipher between the two, secure different colors to each.  Such as blue toothpicks for plain taquitos and red for those with cheese and tomatoes.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Halloween Books for Kids

We're back with more Halloween books for little kids.
Here are a few that our kids have enjoyed.

1.  It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall.  Great illustrations show how these kids plant a pumpkin patch.  They start from seeds and watch their pumpkins grow. Great page in the back that shows a seed's development as it sprouts. (Heidi)

2. Click, Clack, Boo! by Doreen Cronin
 Just as in the original, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Duck is up to mischief. As the animals arrive at the barn for the Halloween party, will grumpy Farmer Brown make an appearance? Only Duck can get him there! (Carrie)

3. The Haunted Ghoul Bus by Lisa Trumbauer
A boy steps on the wrong bus in the morning only to meet some new spooky friends!  Fun to read and celebrates the fun in Halloween. (Kristin)

4. Pumpkin Moon by Simon Bartram
Magical things happen when a pumpkin moon is out. Easy for kids to read and beautiful illustrations. (Kristin)

5.  Halloween by Harry Behn
Spooky and fun things come out for Halloween.  A simple story with great pictures that builds  excitement for the holiday. (Kristin)

6.  The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis
Siblings Buck, Billy and Lil are all dressed up for Halloween.  They hike up to the pumpkin patch and find the biggest pumpkin ever! The boys decide to roll it home but Lil sees disaster as the pumpkin gets to the edge of a hill with the family farm down below.  Runaway pumpkin!  Read it to see what happens and enjoy the fun rhymes. (Heidi)

7. Where is Baby's Pumpkin? by Karen Katz 
 This is a much loved book in our household. Baby is trying to find her trick or treating pumpkin. With each page turn, you search with baby as you lift the flaps searching for the pumpkin in time for Halloween night. I bought it when my oldest was a baby and now he's 12! With all the taped flaps, you know it's a family classic. My big kids won't admit it, but I still catch them occasionally looking through it. (Carrie)

You can find more fun Halloween books for kids {here}

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day of the Dead- Sugar Skull Craft

Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and in other cultures around the world.  Sugar skulls are a sweet treat made and left for deceased relatives and "visiting spirits" on Dia de los Muertos.  You can find more information {here} about the holiday 
and the beautiful mask designs of this folk art tradition.

 I've seen a lot of sugar skull decorations around for Halloween this year.
I love it!
The best decor selection I've found has been at World Market.

At our last {Fine Arts Night}, one of the activity rooms featured making these fun Day of the Dead masks.  It was a popular craft and the kids had a great time making them.
If you're looking for a school craft or Halloween party activity, 
this is it!

You'll need:
colored Popsicle sticks
paper plates
glue gun

Draw out your skull shape on a paper plate. 

To help the little kiddos, we made patterns that they could trace.
You can download my skull pattern {here}

Cut out the traced skull.
Draw and color in black,  2 large eyes and an upside down heart for the nose.
On the ridges of the plate, draw lines for teeth. 
Now decorate with patterns, shapes and color!

Finally, glue a colorful Popsicle stick on the back.
You've got your sugar skull mask!
Happy Halloween and Dia de los Muertos!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Reverse Trick or Treating and a Treat

My daughter and her Activity Days group are going Reverse Trick or Treating soon. I thought it was such a great idea that I wanted to share it with all of you. It would make for a fun activity with family or friends.

First, get all dressed up in costume. Every child (and some adults) wants to wear their Halloween costume more than once. Next, prepare some sort of treat to hand out. One idea is to make marshmallow lollipops. For the lollipops, buy a package of craft sticks or lollipop sticks. Thread two large marshmallows on each stick. Then, melt 2 Tablespoons of vegetable shortening and one bag of 12 oz chocolate chips in a saucepan or I use my handy fondue pot. Once the chocolate is melted, dip your marshmallow sticks in the chocolate until well coated. Then, sprinkle your lollipops with candy, nuts or sprinkles. I then place the lollipops in the fridge to harden a bit.

With treat in hand, visit some folks who need extra cheering up. After knocking on the door, instead of saying, "Trick or Treat," say something else like, "We've got a treat for you!" or "No tricks just treats!" What a delightful surprise! Those you visit will not only get a yummy treat, but will get a peak at Halloween costume fun. Go out and make someone's day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Roasted Poblano Soup

Cooler weather is a great time for soups!  Try this one tonight!

Roasted Poblano Soup


3 Six inch corn tortillas
2 Tbsp. Flour
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1/2 Cup Roasted Poblano Pepper (seeded)
1/2 tsp. Garlic
2 Tbsp. Butter
3 Cups Chicken stock
1/2 Cup Cream or half and half
1/2 Cup Shredded chicken (optional)

Roast your Poblano Peppers by coating them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and cook at 350 for around 12 minutes or until pepper skin is browned a bit.  Allow to cool and then roughly chop and set aside.  Cut corn tortillas into strips and place in a food processor or blender.  Add flour, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Pulse to corn meal consistency and set aside.  Place oil in stock pot or heavy pot.  Saute onion until clear along with poblano peppers and garlic.  Add butter and let melt.  Add tortilla mixture to form a roux.  Slowly add your chicken stock and whisk in until warmed.  Carefully, a little at a time as the soup will be hot and could burn,  pour soup mixture back into blender or processor to liquefy setting.  Process all of the soup mixture until there are no chunks of onion or peppers.  Bring soup back to stove and warm.  Slowly add cream and whisk in.  Bring soup to boil while you whisk and then simmer for 8 minutes more.  If you would like, you can serve your soup as is or add shredded chicken to the soup.  Top with shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, tortilla strips, and sour cream.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Anatomy of a Halloween Mantel

Today I've got some simple ideas for your Halloween mantel 
or group some of these items for a table centerpiece.
 Let's break it down:

You can always use some spider webbing that can be found basically anywhere.
Pick up some at the dollar store and add a glittered spider on your web.

1. Don't you love this subway art!  
I bought it years ago, just painted and distressed a piece of wood, then added the vinyl.  Not sure if Andy is still selling the vinyl, but you can check {here}

2. Fill a glass jar or vase with mini pumpkins.

3.  Cutest little printable "Along Came a Spider".
You can find it {here}.

4. It's our SPOOKY banner.  
Just print it off and sew on the string!

5. Black ceramic Halloween jar with crow topped lid.
I picked this up at Hobby Lobby after the holiday for 60% off.

6 & 7.  Decorative apothecary glass jars.  Fill with "eye balls" or mini skulls.

8. Colored glass bottles.
Hobby Lobby has a bunch.
Look for them to go on sale or use their 40% off coupon.

Here's a close view of what we've seen so far: 

And coming up:

9. Make your own creepy labeled jars and lid toppers {here}
They can hold all kinds of spooky treats!

10. Pick up some crows at the dollar store.

11. This resin  white pumpkin sits on a burlap square and pedestal.
Found it in Hobby Lobby's after Halloween sale.
I bet you could make something similar. (maybe we'll make it and post it next year!)
Garden finial stone in the back. 

12.  I picked up this skull at the dollar store.
In sections, cover with Mod Podge sprinkle with a fine glitter. 
I'm using Martha Smoky Quartz glitter. 
The skull sits on a book wrapped in Halloween print scrapbook paper.

Have fun decorating your haunted house!

Monday, October 5, 2015

3 Quick Halloween Family Activities

Here are three quick Halloween family activities that my family enjoys. Lots of fun and little work. These activities are perfect for a Family Home Evening or when you just want to do something festive together.

1. Tootsie Pop Ghosts

These ghosts have been around for ages. I even remember making them as a kid. But, here are some ideas that you may not know. First, instead of using a napkin, use white coffee filters. My friend gave me this idea a couple of years ago and it has made a big difference. The filter is durable and the ghosts keep their shape. Using white yarn, tie the filter around the Tootsie Pop. We like to decorate our front yard's trees with the ghosts. Even with rain and wind, our ghosts still look great Halloween night. Those filters sure are strong. Also, with white thread and a needle, make a slip knot over the top of your ghost by stitching through the filter. Then, once the knot is make, tie the two ends together and you have a loop to hang your ghost. I used to just tie my thread around the ghost's neck, but then my ghosts were always hanging upside down. Now, the ghosts are upright and flying!

I love seeing the variety of ghost expressions my kids draw. Some are happy, spooky or scary.

2. Footprint and Handprint Ghosts 

When my kids were younger, I traced their foot and hand on white card stack to make ghosts. I then glued the white prints on black card stock to give the ghosts a nice border. To this day, my kids still admire how tiny their feet and hands once were as we mount tack them up on our kitchen wall for the month of October. These little ghosts are keepsakes and an easy, cheap way to decorate your home. 

I'm definitely my mother's daughter. As a child, my mom saved our special holiday projects we made as kids. She stored them with the other holiday decorations and brought them out each year to garnish the walls around our kitchen table. It was always so exciting to come home and see our art work hanging up. The projects brought back so many happy memories and my siblings and I would talk about who made what, how old they were when they made it and any story associated with the art work. Even when we stopped making holiday projects, my mom still brought our grade school items out to display. Some of those pieces of art got pretty old!  Today, I do the very same thing. Each year I save a Halloween project or two of my kids and add them to the collection. (I do this for Thanksgiving and Christmas too.) Then, using mounting putty, I decorate the kitchen walls around our kitchen table. Just as I did as a child, my kids love looking at and reminiscing over their projects. A special and easy way to decorate!

3. Halloween Brownies 

A yummy way to celebrate! First, make a pan of your favorite brownies. When cooled, cut big square pieces. Give each family member their own brownie square to cut using Halloween cookie cutters. Then, decorate with icing. 

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