Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Annual Pumpkin Carving Party, Potluck and Recipes

On Monday we had our annual Pumpkin Carving Party and Potluck.

We always have extra fun when we light them up outside. It was cold and drizzly, so we did not do a group photo.

The adults chatted, talked about books and enjoyed each other's company while the kids carved.

After all of these parties, Halloween proper seems a bit quiet and tame. I've loved our parties, but I am also ready for a bit of quiet.

Spiced Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
modified from:
1/4 cup butter
2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds,
washed and dried
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter, then stir in the seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds turn slightly brown in color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain off any excess butter, and stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup until the seeds are thoroughly coated with spices. Spread the seeds out onto the prepared baking sheet.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until crisp and golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30 to 45 total minutes of baking time.

Thanks to Natalie for sharing her photos and her recipes. She helped make our party a big success!

Apple Nachos
via:Life with Fingerprints

Granny Smith Apples, cored and sliced, skin still on
1 bag mini Marshmallows
1 tea. Butter
1 container Caramel (like the kind you put on ice cream)
1/2 bag mini Chocolate Chips

Cut up some granny smith apples and arrange on a platter. Melt a bag of miniature marshmallows with a tbsp of butter and once completely melted, pour over the apples. Next choose your caramel (melt the cubes, melt the chips, buy the marzetti tub, whatever) warm it up and drizzle over the apples. Top it off with miniature chocolate chips.

They are messy and absolutely delicious.


Ham & Cheese Sliders
via:Just a Pinch Recipes

2 pkg king hawaiian rolls
1 pkg thin sliced deli ham
1-2 pkg swiss cheese, sliced
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Cut the top off rolls and set aside. Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Replace tops. Place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet tightly together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy.
Serve warm.

Bruce's Pumpkin Mousse:

1 3 oz. Vanilla Instant Pudding

1 1/2 C. Milk

1 8oz. tub Cool Whip, thawed

1 15 oz. canned pumpkin

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix pudding and milk. Stir in pumpkin and pumpkin spice. Fold in Cool Whip

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Party Preparations: Creepy Recipes and Playlists

Ellie and Kohlton headed up the school Halloween party on Friday. Everyone seemed to have a great time.
They had a potluck and a costume parade:

Ellie made some great food for the party, too:

Squirmy Wormy Jello Shots
Via: Writings from Mrs. Mommy

2 packs (3 oz)
Raspberry jello 1 pkg unflavored gelatin (for extra firmness)
3/4 cup whipping cream
21/2 cups boiling water
1 /2 cup vodka
15 drops green food coloring
100 flexible straws (or enough to fill your container)
Tall container (1 quart or 1 liter carton of milk)

Combine gelatin in bowl and add boiling water.
Let it cool to lukewarm and then add the vodka, whipping cream and 15 drops green food coloring.
Gather your straws (don’t forget to flex them out) and put them in the container. It’s important that the straws have a tight fit so the jello stays in the straws. For this reason, a 1 liter carton may be better; you will probably get longer worms since there is a tighter fit. If you have a bigger container, a rubber band around the straws is helpful. Or you could just add more straws to fill the container.
Add the gelatin mixture to the straw-filled container and let it set until firm.

Jello Brain
- Ellie's Recipe

1 Black Cherry Jello (reg. size) + water as per the instruction
3 TBL. Heavy Cream
5-8 drops of Green Food coloring

Before each use, wash the mold with warm soapy water and a soft cloth or sponge.
Spray or smear the inside of the mold with a small amount of vegetable oil, then wipe out the excess.
Put the gelatin mix in a large bowl and add the boiling water.
Stir about two minutes until the mix is dissolved.
Stir in the cold water.
Stir in the heavy cream and food coloring.(Adjust coloring until it is the perfect pinkish-gray and stir.)
Pour the mixture in the brain mold, stopping about 1/4 inch from the top.
Place the brain mold in a shallow bowl so it will sit level, and refrigerate overnight.
To remove the brain, shake the mold gently until the gelatin loosens.
Place a flat plate upside down over the open side of the mold, then flip the mold and the plate together.
Lift the mold off, leaving the brain on
the plate.
Shrunken Head Cider
via: Martha Stewart

2 cups lemon juice
2 tablespoons coarse salt
8 large Granny Smith apples
32 whole cloves
2 gallons apple cider
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 cups spiced rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together lemon juice and salt; set aside.
Peel apples and cut each in half through the stem; remove seeds and core. Using a sharp paring knife, carve a face, as desired, on the rounded side of each apple half. Place apples in lemon mixture for one minute; transfer to paper towels to drain.
Place apples, face-side up on prepared baking sheet and transfer to oven. Let bake until apples are dry and begin to brown around the edges, about 90 minutes. Remove apples from baking sheets and press cloves into the "eye" sockets.
Combine cider, lemonade, and rum (if using) in a large punchbowl; float shrunken heads on top.
Here are a few of the other fun food items from the party:

A few fun Halloween Playlists:
Halloween Music by Tammy Welshon on Grooveshark And another one: Halloween (Jazz, mostly) by Tammy Welshon on Grooveshark

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Alice in Wonderland ~ Making Ellie's Alice Costume + Spinach with warm Mustard Bacon Dressing Recipe

Ellie's all time favorite book is Alice in Wonderland and so it was exciting when she decided to be Alice for Halloween this year. After all, she is the perfect age and has the perfect look to really rock Alice. I think the Alice and Mad Hatter costumes I made this year are the best costumes I have made. I am so very pleased and I think they are, too.

It was a journey to make it. Ellie found a vintage (or at least vintage style) party dress that she loved, and I found one of those super cheap, yucky material costumes that was a Alice dress. We bought both of them and I deconstructed them. I used the yucky costume as a pattern as I could see how it fit and I got it for about $2, much cheaper than buying a pattern. The party dress was about $5. I love the silk crepe material, but I was worried that it would not yield the right sized pieces of fabric. In the end, I was able to piece bits together and make what I needed.
We used hook and eyes to secure the back and I pre-fastened the shoulder straps on the apron. The frilly slip under the dress belongs to my mother. I think she wore it in the 1950's. I think it must feel very swishy to wear the dress.
If you want to see how I made the Mad Hatter costume, you can find it here.
This was a nice compliment to chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.

Spinach Salad with Warm Mustard and Bacon Dressing


1 (10 ounce) bag baby spinach leaves
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 strips crisply cooked bacon, crumbled
10 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup honey
2 strips crisply cooked bacon, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Place spinach into a large serving bowl, top with hard-cooked eggs, mushrooms, 4 crumbled strips of bacon, Swiss cheese, and almonds.
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in shallots and garlic, and cook until softened and translucent, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and 2 crumbled strips of bacon; season to taste with salt and pepper, then cook until hot.
Pour hot dressing over spinach and toss to coat.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

And a Peacock Costume for Camille - One Last Costume for the Season

On Tuesday Camille and I created a peacock costume together. It is always a treat to help someone's vision come true.
(Camille in her full costume)
Camille is my best friend's daughter. I'm enjoying watching her grow from a tiny babe in arms into a remarkable, artistic young woman. I've help make some of her costumes in the past when I went to visit them close to the Halloween season. Now that they live near me and Camille is a capable young woman, we are able to work side by side to make her costume.
(Working together)

We began by conferring over peacock costumes we had each pinned in Pinterest. We then came up with a plan, had her mother do the shopping and then got together for one intense evening to get it done.

As you can see above, we settled on a high-low tulle skirt. Some of the tulle is even sparkly. While I made the skirt Camille painted the mask. We both thought it was beautiful with just paint and feathers.

(A close up of the mask)

Then we decided that it needed a bit of bling. Camille was not ready to take that on, so I added the eyelashes, the swirls and the rhinestones. We are very jazzed about how it came out.I look forward to seeing how she will top it off with fun make-up and a fancy hair-do when she comes to the school party Ellie and Kohlton are throwing at AVS.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Creating the Mad Hatter's Jacket, Nearly Finishing Alice's Dress and a Whole Lot of Creative Juices Flowing

Saturday was a bumpy day. I found myself with much of the day to myself, sewing happily out in the back yard. Remmie was playing, the sun was shining, the wind was not blowing and it was lovely. I was sewing on a whole row of hook and eyes on the back of the Alice dress. Then the phone rang. I stuff the Alice dress into a bag and ran to pick up the phone. By the time I came back outside, the dog had pulled the dress out of the bag, pinned it to the ground with his paw and ripped out one of the hooks, taking both layers of fabric with it and creating a nasty looking hole in the back of the dress. It took a while to mend it. I had to sew patches of both fabrics in place by hand and then redo the hook.
I also spent time trying to stain the Mad Hatter jacket with paint and fabric dye. However, once washed, it came out perfectly clean. I am impressed with how well the corduroy jacket resists stains. (Never mind that I wanted it to stain this time.) By the afternoon our refrigerator had broken down and stopped working. Food started to thaw. Later that day Grandpa Don called to say that he was not well and asked for a trip to the hospital. By the end of the evening I had nearly finished the Alice dress, mending and all. Larr made an appointment with the repair guy and the doctors kept Don over night for observation, but all major worries had been ruled out.
Sunday was a much better day, thankfully. The kids spent the day shopping and doing art together. I dusted the Mad Hatter jacket with several colors of spray paint, sewed lace and decorative cording onto the cuffs, added ribbon to the pocket and created a belt of spools of thread that I borrowed from my mother.
The kids collaborated on a drawing and we worked together to make an artistic piece that we will have printed via Shutterfly.
Ethan made breakfast, but I will feature that in another post. We had home grown potatoes as part of our dinner. They were certainly better than those that we could get at the grocery store. I wanted to make sure that Ethan had a nice, warm, healthy, balance home-cooked meal before he headed back to Colorado Springs and back to work in the morning.