Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hopefully this evening I will be posting pictures of my little fella all dressed up in his Elvis costume, and explaining the steps that went in to making the costume.

Here are a few Halloween costumes of the past.  I always make his costumes.

The Thomas the Tank Engine costume had a working light in front and in back.  It was made mostly with felt.  He loved that costume so much that he wore two years straight, and would have worn it a third year had it not been too small.  The second picture is from last year.  I bought all the materials for that costume at Goodwill for $3.  The afro wig cost us an additional $5, but we needed it desperately, because he was a disco vampire!

His first Halloween he was a space alien.  I took a green hoodie and made it in to a jumper, attached pipe cleaners with pom poms on the ends to make antenna, and painted an all seeing eye on his forehead.  He was only 8 months old, so I took his umbrella stroller and made it into a space ship with poster board, aluminum foil, and battery powered Christmas tree lights.  I wish I could find the digitals of those pictures.

The following year he was a monkey.  This time I turned a brown hoodie into a jumper, attached ears to the hood, and a tail to back.  At that point I was starting to think all our costumes were going to start with clearance hoodies!

Do you make your or your kid's costumes?  Hope you and your little ones have a spooky good time today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Little Pumpkin Muffins That Weren't

My son has been begging me to make pumpkin muffins for a few weeks now.  He just recently discovered that he likes sweet pumpkin foods, though he has always liked savory pumpkin foods (go figure).  So I first went to Ina's recipes, and though I found pumpkin cupcakes, I was not able to find a muffin recipe.  Bummer.  So after looking at quite a few recipes and reading reviews, I decided to make this recipe.  Pumpkin cream cheese muffins with a nutty crumb topping sounded like they would cure our cravings!

I cooked them up:

They looked so delicious that I could not wait to rip in to one.  Unfortunately, they were not at all what I was hoping for.  The cream cheese mixture just dispersed in to the muffins as they cooked.  And the taste was just off.  The crumb topping was so freakin delicious that I was picking tops off of muffins all day great.  The rest was a scratch.  I will work on these muffins some more, and when I perfect the recipe, I will let you know.

Monday, October 22, 2012

10 Favorite things about Fall

1.  Boots and Sweaters!  I am always a happy girl when I can dust of my riding boots, ankle boots, cowboy boots, hiking get the picture.  There is just something cozy about putting on a pair of boots, but I am sure by January I will already be longing for my flip flops!  And sweaters, my how I love cuddling up in a soft warm sweater.

2.  All things pumpkin.  Pumpkin Scones, pumpkin pasta sauce, pumpkin beer, toasted pumpkin seeds. Let's not forget trips to the pumpkin patch.  This year I have been late to get on the pumpkin bandwagon.  Blame it on the move.  But, I did make pumpkin muffins last night.  Unfortunately, the recipe was a little blek.  I will be posing on that later, because they looked awesome, just didn't taste great.

3.  All things apple.  Drinking a cup of hot apple cider (thank you k-cups for all natural apple cider) sitting on the back porch while there is a little nip in the air makes me very happy!  Homemade apple fritters and apple dumplings.  Savory applesauce laced with sage and rosemary (yes, I will be posting that recipe soon).  Apple scented candles at the store.  I just got the cutest caramel apple woodwick candle this weekend.  I. Love. Their. Candles.

4.  Thanksgiving planning.  I am a serious planner.  I think that is why I am good at catering.  So, I have already started to plan my Thanksgiving meal.  I know it isn't even Halloween yet, but in case you haven't noticed, I am cheap frugal.  So, I will start watching the ads for things that will be in our meal that I can buy ahead in have in the freezer.  I will also start my make ahead prep soon.  Things like homemade rolls that take a long time, but can be made ahead and frozen, or even homemade pies.

5.  Halloween.  Every year I make Marcus's Halloween costume.  I will do a post on Halloween costumes of the past, and how they were made in the next few days.  This year he is going to be Elvis.  Not young Elvis, but Viva Las Vegas Elvis.  Complete with the polyester suit and cape!  He fell in love with Elvis, after we bought a Lilo and Stitch CD at a yard sale for a quarter.  Nothing cuter than a five year old singing Hunka Burning Love!

6.  Batch Cooking.  When the temperature gets cool, I feel the need to fill the freezer.  At least once a week for a while I will be batch cooking something.  Maybe meatballs for Italian wedding soup, or meatloaves when ground beef is on sale, there will be the huge batch of spaghetti sauce, banana bread loaves, the list goes on and on.  Come January (when we are broke from the Holidays) I will be able rely heavily on the freezer to stretch my food budget.

7.  Holiday Shopping.  Under normal circumstances, I have my shopping done by the end of this month.  This year, I have not bought the first thing.  I am starting to get a little anxious about it.  I keep watching the sales ads.  I guess I might have to actually venture out on Black Friday this year, which isn't really something that I normally do.  After being a stay at home mom for a number of years, the thought of crowded stores stresses me out!

8.  The sights smells and sounds of the season.  Is there anything prettier than a hillside ablaze with crimson reds, and vibrant yellows, and pumpkin orange?  I love to get outdoors this time of year and feel the leaves crunch under my feet, or listen to the them rustling around.  There is also the smell of Fall leaves.  I love that smell when you jump in to a pile of leaves.  So earthy and delightful.

9.  Decorating.  My house is pretty dull most of the year, but when October rolls around I fell like I am constantly changing around the decor.  We start with the monsters and goblins, and transition in to leaves, pumpkins and gourds, and before you know it, the tree is going up, and I am surrounded by ginger people, nutcrackers, Santa, and a ton of snowflakes.

10.  Time with family.  This is last but not least for sure.  Sometimes it is just down time with my little family, sometimes it is a gathering of my friends who are my extended family, and when we are lucky we get to see relatives near and far.  Just one such case was celebrating my hubby's grandfather's 95th birthday this weekend.  We saw people there we had not seen in years.  My mother in law saw a cousin who they figured the two of them had not seen each other in over 30 years!  How great is that!!!

There are plenty of other things that I love about this time of year, but these are my favorites.  What are you looking forward to in the coming months?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Almost Settled

Stay tuned ya'll!  We are almost settled in, and then I promise to get back to regular blogging.  So many craft projects, and recipes going on this time of year!!!  Please send happy vibes my way that I will find my camera so I can stop posting phone pictures.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

What Sounds do Baby Chicks Make?

Cheap, cheap, cheap!

Check out this awesome washer dryer set we scored for less than the normal price of just one piece.

We always walk the scratch and dent aisle at places like Lowe's and Home Depot when we are in those stores.  When I came across this matching set of Samsung HE front load washers and dryers, I had to have them.  The washer which is on the left had a dent under the door, and a very slight scratch on one of the corners.  We have been unable to find anything wrong with the dryer.  They were both a little dirty, and the dryer had foam stickers on the top where they had apparently stacked the set.  A little bit of all purpose cleaner, and some goo gone on the foam, and we were in business.  We ended up saving about 60% percent after all was said and done on this set.  The washer was marked down to $300, and the dryer was marked down to $660.  I negotiated an additional 10% off with the appliance manager, making our total before taxes $864.  I know people think that you can't negotiate at big box stores, but trust me if you know what you are doing, you definitely can!!

I have to admit that it is RARE to find a matching set so deeply discounted.  But, if you are in the market for a washer and dryer set, you could either go with an unmatched set, or buy one piece on scratch and dent and the other at regular retail, and still save yourself a bundle of money.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Start of Something Awesome

When you start out with these ingredients, you know that something awesome is yet to come!

In to the stockpot went one small chicken (less than 4 pounds) a handful of baby carrots, a palmful of black peppercorns, a scant palmful of kosher salt, a medium onion (skin, roots and all) cut into quarters, two ribs of celery cut in to large hunks, and enough water to just cover the ingredients.  This is not my normal set of ingredients for making stock, but it was what was on hand.  I like to use whole celery, and full size carrots, a collection of herbs, and I usually just use chicken bones to make stock, and not a whole chicken.

So what did I end up making (and forgetting to take a picture of)?  Just some simple chicken soup.
Once the stock had simmered on low for about two hours, I removed the chicken, and ran the rest of it through a sieve to remove the solids.

I picked all the chicken off the bones, and tossed it back in to the soup pot, which had been rinsed and was now holding the stock.  I added about 1/2 cup of pasta stars (I do have a 5 year old in the house after all) and a large can of home-style veg-all that had been drained and rinsed.  No, I do not think that Ina would not approve of this ingredient, but we are still getting moved in and I had a hungry kid on my hands who could not wait for "real" veggies to cook.  It was delicious.

Bonus, there were 2 quarts leftover that have found a home in the freezer, plus Hubby was able to take soup for lunch the next day!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Home Sweet Mess

Well, we are in the new house, but boy, oh boy do we have a mess on our hands.  So many boxes and so much paper!

When we arrived at the house, one of the windows was filled with little bugs and it really grossed me out.  Does anyone know what these are?  It gave me flashbacks of a rental house in Mississippi that had roaches the size of small children.  I think we could have saddled them and rode off in to the sunset.  Thankfully, a spray of rosemary oil mixed with spearmint oil was all it took to get rid of them.

There is a lot of cabinet space and a large pantry (just like Ina's) in the kitchen. I obviously have my priorities straight, because one of the very first boxes I unpacked in to that pantry was the one marked booze!  In fact it was one of the first boxes I unpacked at all.  The real irony there is that I have not had an adult beverage since we got here!

I am having a hard time figuring out where to put things in the kitchen.  The cabinets are really tall; I think taller than 42 inches.  My six-foot-four husband is having a hard time reaching the top shelf, so a step stool will be on my list of must gets.

I have a lot of furnishings that are going to need to be bought for this place.  It is much larger than any other house we have ever lived in.  You can expect future posts about my adventures in thrift-tiquing as well as yard saling.

There is still a TON of unpacking left to be done, and I have a deadline looming (Dinner Party scheduled for early November).  So, I will try to post a blog every day, but I still may be spotty until I get all the packing undone…errr unpacking done.