"Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one'."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Smashing Pumpkins (Is Halloween over yet?)

You know, smashing, as in, "extraordinarily impressive"? :)  And also, I hope no one considers smashing these tonight.  I think I'd be more upset than the kiddos.
Before the carving!  What a gorgeous day.
The girls have been talking for a month about which face they'd like on their pumpkin (Haley even went so far today as to tell me she really needs it to have eyelids as well as eyebrows). We visited an orchard, a pumpkin patch, gone out twice already in our costumes, baked three kinds of pumpkin dessert... I've been burning my pumpkin spice candle since the end of August. And I have certainly consumed more than my fair share of pumpkin spice lattes. We've watched and re-watched Halloween cartoons and colored reams of spooky coloring sheets. This brings me to the point of today's post: Does it seem like Halloween has really lasted a long time this year? Could this phenomenon be weather related? We didn't have much of a summer--maybe we hit the fast forward button to Halloween just to have something to get excited about.

The girls aren't tired of it yet, they're thrilled any time I mention trick-or-treating. So the festivities continue!
After! Meet the Donovan Pumpkin Family.

The uber-cute book we have read no less than 37 times.  It's loooong.
Emeril's Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Okay, I know I said you'd never see another Emeril recipe from me, but this one isn't fussy at all. Although he does use the word 'essence' to describe the seasoning he uses in his cooking, and I think it's ridiculous--he says it all the time, it's his thing. Like, "BAM! ESSENCE!"  It's not magic--it's mostly paprika, buddy.  But the pumpkin seeds are top notch.

Emeril's "Essence".  Are you ooooo-ing and ahhhh-ing?

Get in there girls!  Up to our elbows in pumpkin smithereens.

Holly, taking a peek.  She was very hesitant to reach in and grab the guts.
We'll go ahead and call this "The Carter Method"
Get in there, boys!
Mickey, Green Triangle Jack, Vampire, Fire Hydrant!

A [five favorites] list from Parenting Magazine -- Reasons Fall Is Fabulous!
-Fall clothes come in the same colors as your kids' food stains: chocolate brown, fruit-punch red, and mac-and-cheese orange!
-It gets dark earlier and is, therefore, easier to put the kids to bed.
-Trick-or-treating, that blessed evening when sleep-deprived moms who look like zombies simply blend in with the crowd.
-We're suckers for the sight of little kids in footy pajamas.
-Hot cider. Hot chocolate. Hot toddy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Green Bunny: Scrap Room Tour

Here's a look inside my scrap room...
I am very lucky to have a whole room dedicated to my work. I have joked with my husband that the real reason we are done having kids is because I won't ever give up this room! It is the fourth (& smallest) bedroom in our house. I have come up with some great ways to keep inspired and organized in a small space:

The layouts on display are hanging on a simple IKEA curtain rod using page protectors and curtain clips.
The flat scanner on the right side of the table is 12x17. I am able to scan complete layouts without having to stitch them in Photoshop. (Thank you husband!) And...say hello to my cat, Molly!

I centered this table in the room so I can work from either side. It gives me more wall space too. Love the desktop paper trimmer. I use it EVERY time I'm working on something. I tend to use severeal different types of containers for embellishments. Here you can see some antique flower pots, dishes, and a muffin tin on my desk. I also love old enamel containers. I recently found the pale yellow one (right above the paper trimmer) and use it to hold pieces for whatever is currently in the works.

Hello Edward! ...Some of my favorite and most useful items are in this picture. The white plastic drawers are Sterilite from Target. $34.99 each. (More on them below) Sitting on top of the drawers is a Clip It Up hanging storage unit by Simply Renee. This is new to my room and I am in LOVE. Above that, you will find my method of photo organization: Cropper Hopper photo cases. They are made for archival purposes and are acid free. They come with dividers and acid-free plastic envelopes. I have two large cases (one holds 2000 4x6 photos) for all of our family events and I purchased two small cases (one holds 864 4x6 photos)...one for each kiddo.

These Sterilite sets have seven drawers each and stack easily (I have four in my closet). Inside you'll find the majority of my embellishments including stickers, alphabets, stencils, sewing items, clear stamps, ink pads, adhesives, and several miscellaneous items.

On the other side of my closet is a shelf unit from the children's storage section of IKEA. We originally bought this for Logan's room and it didn't fit, so I swiped it! Sitting on top, are two enamel containers with lids and two cardboard storage boxes from...can you guess...IKEA. Couldn't pass them up at $5.99 for the two pack. They are currently storing Logan and Carter's memories: artwork, birthday cards, awards, etc. Oh...and there's my ancient sewing machine in the corner.

This unit (mentioned above) is great for storing all my stamps sets and punches.

Yet another IKEA find...the Expedit bookcase is the perfect place for my 12x12 paper trays and my large albums. Most shelving units either don't have the height or the depth for such storage. The brown metal lockers are from Pottery Barn Teen. The bottom shelves have cardboard magazine holders from IKEA. The hot pink fabric basket is Itso brand from Target. It holds all my ribbons and twine.

And last, but not least...this was an amazing garage sale find. Orignally from Pottery Barn, I scooped up this wall unit for ten bucks. It is filled with vintage jars that hold all my brads, buttons, and more.

So there it is...my room and the storage solutions I have come up with. If it seems overwhelming, I would like to point out that this project has been seven years in the making. I have obtained these items over time and pulled it all together. Typically, I try to make one 'larger' purchase each year (usually as a gift for my birthday or Christmas). It will not happen overnight, but hopefully I've inspired someone to get organized!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Joyeux Kitchen: One Weekend, Two Desserts

The inner marshmallow layer.  It tastes even better than it looks.  There is nothing like homemade marshmallow fluff.
Mom and Dad celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary over the weekend, and to celebrate, I baked up these tasty little treats from Gale Gand over at the Food Network.  I think the sheet pan I used may have been too small, I didn't measure, and as a result there's cake batter all over my oven.  Might have to take care of it tomorrow unless I can think of recipes that don't require baking for the rest of the week :).  Anyway, it's the most moist (moistest?), richest chocolate cake I've ever made, sandwiched with a layer of homemade marshmallow fluff, and topped with a hand-piped marshmallow heart and edible yellow sparkles.  (I substituted yellow for the red because Mom and Dad's wedding colors were yellow and brown!)  I'm being terribly lazy by not typing in the recipe, but you're all very capable computer users--click the link and follow Gale's directions very carefully.

My own spin on Bakerella's genius Cake Pops, which are a spin-off of her Cake Balls.  If you haven't at least made the balls yet, you're missing out.  So easy.  Sooooo good.  To make this variation I used a Wilton Daisy silicone mold.  (The link actually goes to the Christmas tree mold, which is adorable and would make a cute little Christmas project.)  I packed cake ball dough into the mold, stuck the sticks in, and popped them in the freezer to firm up.  Then I dipped 'em in melted white Baker's chocolate (dyed yellow) and sprinkled with edible gold stars.  I poked the sticks into florist's foam (wrapped in black wrapping paper) to keep them upright.  Keep frozen until ready to serve.  (The cake ball dough doesn't freeze solid so they'll be perfect straight out of the freezer.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crazy. Wild. Reckless. Vamptastic.

Here's a glimpse at the fangtastic costume party we threw last year!

We were a little late to the game as far as Twilight is concerned. Our obsession began Spring 2009, long after the completion of the series, and even after the DVD release of the first movie. We both thought, "Eh, not really for us. Not into the whole vampire thing. Not too into sci-fi. This is kid stuff...Or dork stuff." (Well, are we being honest, or aren't we?)

And then it happened...Sarah read the first book and felt like she'd been struck by lightning. Sparkly-vampire-lightning. Lindsay took the bait soon afterwards (because Sarah kept saying, "Twilight is HOT") and before long we both finished the series in record-breaking, post-baby reading time. Bitten by Twilight.  **This is where we must give a shout out to Twi-crazy friend Jenn, who knew we'd love Twilight long before we did, but was oh-so-patient waiting for us to get on board.  Thanks Jenn!!**  Lindsay has been Team Edward from day one, Sarah waffled a lot but always leaned in the direction of Team Jacob. So what do you do when all of your friends are obsessed with a fictional saga, and Halloween is conveniently drawing near? Host a theme costume party, of course!

[SPOILER ALERT!!] If you have not finished the series, some party ideas and pictures may give away plotlines...

Throw your own Twilight party in 10 easy steps.
Step 1: Buy an apple corer and white tapers. This was a super simple way to include the book cover art in our decorations.

Step 2: Buy some Vampire wine (we got ours at Cost Plus World Market) and bring along any books, games, etc. featuring Twilight.

Step 3: Gotta have blood red velvet cupcakes! Sarah's fabulous baking skills made these yummy treats happen! You can find recipes here and here.

Step 4: Lots of red & black. More apples. A pretty centerpiece (found in the Target Halloween aisle). Twilight chocolates from our trip to Forks. Lots of candles. If you want paper party supplies, they're available too!

Step 5: 'Blood' jello shots. Labels read: "Type O Negative. Take one at a time, as needed. 1 0f 4 refills. Dr. Cullen".

Step 6: Twilight word magnets (also purchased at Dazzled By Twilight). This was a lot of fun.

Step 7: Buy someone whose birthday is conveniently close to Halloween a life-sized Edward so he can join the party! *Side note: Edward now resides in Lindsay's scrap room...and...we didn't fix our red eyes in this picture on purpose. tee hee.

Step 8: Purchase the movie specials by People Magazine or UsWeekly (whatever is current on the newstands) for pics and posters to hang around the house. ATTN TEAM EDWARD: please notice who graces the cover of both issues! Grrrrrrr.

Step 9: Brainstorm a fabulous costume...our party included Baseball Edward, Prom Bella, Italy Edward, Forks, Sam Uley & Emily Young, Honeymoon Bella, and First-hunt Bella.
Making First-hunt Bella was fun, you have to get creative! Sarah found an ice-blue frock at Goodwill in perfect condition and proceeded to drag it through the blackberry brambles outside her house. She sewed in some twigs and weeds and pinned some in her hair that night also, to really give off a "just got done chasing down wild game" vibe.

Lindsay wore a mens dress shirt as Honeymoon Bella. She hot-glued feathers all over the shirt and pinned them in her wig. Dan helped created bruises on her arms, face, and chest with yellow, burgandy, and navy eye shadow. "Why am I covered in feathers and bruises?"
Step 10: Gather a group of rowdy twi-hards who share your obsession and party!

We found some great ideas from Hostessblog.com and downloaded 5x7 quotes which we posted all over the house.

The great idea that wasn't meant to be: Jones Soda released Halloween flavors in years past and we really wanted this one but never found it for sale anywhere.  Maybe you'll run across some!

Have fun hosting your Twilight party!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Joyeux Kitchen: Fried Green Tomatoes

"I found out what the secret to life is: friends. Best friends."--Ninny Threadgoode (Fried Green Tomatoes)

Okay, so the quote isn't relevent to this post in any way, but it's a great movie.  So you could try some of these recipes and watch the movie at the same time! 

It was a bad year for tomatoes, no doubt about it.  My plants were covered with fruit but only three of them ever ripened.  So what next?  No sense crying over green tomatoes, I had to make a plan.  I found a great website with tons of ideas and uses for them (they're super-firm, with a very mild, citrusy flavor).  Had to try them fried, of course.  I used recipe #1 with the buttermilk lime dressing--delicious, but the dredge needed more salt and they'd be better dipped in sour cream ranch.  Also tried recipe #10, the green tomato salsa--yummy, mild, very fresh tasting and would be great on nachos.  For spice-lovers, I'd add some chopped up jalapeno.

Monday, October 18, 2010

One Person's Junk...

...is another person's treasure!

My mom and I often use our birthdays as an excuse for a girls' day out which usually leads to us wandering through an antique mall somewhere in the Pacific Northwest (we've even been known to stray all the way down to Oregon from time to time)!

It's a tradition...over the years our tastes have changed and our 'collections' have grown.

Such was the story yesterday. Loving my latest finds:

This guy is almost as tall as me and I am in LOVE!

Been eyeing these vintage gym lockers for a long time and finally picked one up for my scrap room. (Not sure yet what I will fill it with. Hmmmmm.......)

Couldn't leave this treasure behind! A vintage Christmas coloring book that was orginally 29 cents! I paid $1.00 and plan to photocopy pages for the boys so we can use it again and again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Joyeux Kitchen: Cheesecake Peanut Butter Bites

Oh Paula Deen, you've done it again.  Be still my heart.  Reese's pb cups and cheesecake in the same dessert?  Yes please.  I made these for Lindsay's birthday the other night, in addition to a scrumptious Costco pumpkin pie... they were to die for.  She actually wanted Cookie Dough Cupcakes, but that project has been shelved for a later date.  Stay tuned.  Now back to the task at hand...

You'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted
  • 12 bite-size peanut butter cups
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs 
Preheat the oven to 350.  Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a standard muffin pan.  (Paula's recipe says it should make 12, but it easily made 16 for me.  I used 4 additional cups in a 6 cup small muffin pan and filled the extra 2 cups halfway with water, to make sure everything baked evenly.)  

To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a bowl with your fingers until crumbs are evenly moistened.  Press a giant, heaping tablespoon of the crumbs into the bottom of each muffin cup.  For an easy, even, mess-free way to do this, use your espresso packing tool (just learned this is actually called a tamper) -- see above picture.  Love new uses for old things! 

Place one peanut butter cup in the center of each crust.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  (Paula says: handheld mixer.  I used my Kitchenaid.)  Add sugar, flour, and vanilla, beating well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Make sure to scrape the sides of your bowl well, as the cream cheese can stick over there and make for lumpy filling.  Spoon cream cheese mixture over peanut butter cups and crumb crust.  Bake, just until set, about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before serving.  (I popped them in the fridge after cooling and served them cold.)

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. --Julia Child