Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Carving: 2011

The Mister and I first carved pumpkins in 2008, the year we started dating. We had gone to the pumpkin patch together, and picked out our perfect pumpkins. He went out and bought a pumpkin carving set, with two safety knives and two orange plastic scoopers. Similar to this, without the stencils:
We used those same tools this year :)
Gus helping me gut out and carve my pumpkin.

Allison inspecting The Mister's pumpkin carving skills. I need to clean up my shoes and that table. Embarrassing.

The end result?
Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A weekend of Fall Fun!

It was another beautiful weekend in the Willamette Valley, and the Mister and I took advantage of it. My weekend started off on Friday night with a two hour Zumba Zombie party at my gym. This was so much fun. Zumba, if you don't know, is an aerobic dance class that is inspired by Latin and hip-hop moves. The workout you get really depends on your instructors (and your effort) and the two instructors at my gym are amazing. The two ladies took turns during the two hour class party, and I was sweating like a beast by the end. Costumes were encouraged, and some people went all out. I, being the lame-o that I am, only wore a skeleton shirt with my workout pants. I have no idea how some of the ladies in the class kept their zombie make-up on.

On Saturday, the Mister and I headed over to Silver Falls State Park. We only went on a 3 mile walk/hike but we saw five waterfalls. The leaves were so beautiful, and the weather was perfect. Dogs are not allowed in the state park, except for on one trail, so he got left at home.

I just thought these were neat looking

The Mister looking at one of the falls.

Gorgeous leaves.

Pretty much the entire hike looked like this. Perfection.

After, we went out to an early-ish dinner with a Groupon that I had for a yummy noodle place in Salem. Saturday night we finally carved our pumpkins, but I'll post about those tomorrow to be all festive and what not.

On Sunday I baked some bread and made a fabulous soup. Recipes will happen on Thursday, I promise. AND I made a Pinterest craft for Wednesday's Pinterest challenge over at Young House Love and Bower Power. The reveal to come on Wednesday!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Now I'm the Jealous One

I posted earlier this week about my cat getting jealous, but now I have a case of the green eyed monster.  You see, a few times a month, this pulls up in front of my house:
Sometimes, it even parks directly in front of my house. Then, the happy Schwan's men get out and walk to my neighbors house.

I really have no idea why I am jealous. I've never had anything from the Schwan's truck, but the giant salmon fillet on the side of the truck peaks my interest. BUT what I am more interested in is the phrase "gourmet ice cream treats" that they have printed on the truck. I just googled pictures of "Schwan's ice cream" and all these delicious looking ice cream pictures showed up including this:

Is this Funfetti ice cream cake???  Sign me up!

The Mister isn't really on board with the Schwan's man. I mean, I haven't really looked up the prices or anything, but I don't see him loving the idea of frozen food being delivered to the house. I also don't know what the food tastes like, but all I know is that I want it.

Have you ever been jealous of something that you really didn't know anything about? Have you ever had that fabulous looking cake? Is it good?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recipe Thursday: Pumpkin Waffles and Apple Cider Syrup

Yikes! This is recipe 8/16, half way done!

I don't understand how canned pumpkin can smell so bad, but pumpkin flavored things are so good. This week's recipe is a breakfast one, although it is way too many ingredients for me to make for a normal weekday breakfast. (my usual breakfast is a smoothie and some toast) But this recipe is perfect for a Sunday morning breakfast, which is when I made it.

Pumpkin Waffles and Apple Cider Syrup
For the Waffles:
2 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups milk
4 eggs separated
1/4 cup melted butter

For the Syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup apple cider
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons butter
Combine flour, baking powder, spices, salt and brown sugar in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, pumpkin and egg yolks.

In a third bowl, whip egg whites until frothy. The more you whip them, the lighter your waffles will be, so get moving.

Add the dry ingredients and melted butter to the pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in about half of the egg whites until incorporated. Then fold in the rest.

Pour batter into a hot waffle iron. They do need to cook longer than regular waffles, but they smell so good as they cook that it is okay. I got about 8 waffles out of the batter.

Because I used 3 bowls for the waffles, I just mixed all of the syrup ingredients directly in the saucepan that it cooked in. (sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, apple cider and butter)

Cook over medium heat, until the mixture boils and thickens. Serve warm over the waffles. (or in a bathtub that you roll around in because it is so good)

So, how was it?
Oh. My. Word. These were amazing. Even the Mister, who doesn't like cake, pancakes or waffles (crazy, right?) said they were really good. For sure, these are not for everyday, but I had 4 leftover after breakfast, so I threw them in the freezer to eat during the week. The syrup was fantastic. If you didn't want to make the syrup, and I can't really see a reason not to, you could use regular syrup or apple butter would be fantastic on these as well. You could add a bit more sugar and some vanilla to the waffle batter and eat them without adding anything.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do cats get jealous?

Do cats get jealous? Because I think mine did. Yesterday I posted about the cute new dog bed I made for Gus. Allison, knew something was up with the fabric. The entire time I was making it she sat right next to me, looking at the soft, fluffy fleece. Then she watched as I put the final product in Gus's crate and he climbed in and laid down.

Then, Monday morning, I discovered that the little princess Allison, had POOPED on his new blanket inside Gus's crate! I have never even seen her go into Gus's crate, much less leave a little present behind. I think she was jealous that Gus got a new blankie and she didn't.

Do your pets get jealous? Am I the only one who thinks of their pets as little, furry people?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Non-Holiday Craft: No Sew Blanket

 I was at the fabric store with my friend yesterday so she could pick up some ribbon for a project she wanted to do. I noticed the 60% off sale on fleece, saw the cute little paw prints and I knew I had to make Gus a new bed. These fleece blankets are every where, and this definitely is not my first go at these, but the end product was cute so I thought I would share.

Materials needed:

2- 1 1/2 yards of coordinating fleece, or you could use 2 of the same $14.99

A pair of good fabric scissors (already owned)

Gus is already excited about his new bed!

Lay out your fabric one piece on top of the other.

Cut out a 3x3 inch square from each corner.

Begin to cut 3 inch long strips, about 1.5 -2 inches wide. Eyeball your cuts, but try to keep them even.

Cut fringe around the entire blanket.

Tie the fringe together in simple knots all the way around the blanket.
And you're done! There is a ton of fleece prints, so you can find the perfect print for you, or who ever you are making this for.
Most of the time you can find it on sale, or use the 50% off coupons that Joanne's send out every week. In my area, the fabric/craft stores will all accept each other's coupons.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

30 Before 30: Sunday Update #4

1. Vegas with my hubby!- Still on! And now it is a family vacay. The Mister's parents, brother and sister-n-law will all be in Vegas the same weekend we are going. They are going Friday- Sunday, and we will be there Saturday-Tuesday. They are a fun group and I am excited to have the first 1/2 of our getaway with them.
8. Go vegan for a week- I have a vegan friend and she is sending me some of her favorite recipes to try. I will probably do this the week before Thanksgiving, but I'm not sure yet.
9. Cook a new recipe once a week- yup. Still doing it. The recipe that is coming of Thursday will change your life.
11. Continue blogging 4-7 posts a week- This was a bad week for me. My computer dying really put a damper on my blogging, but I am using my brand new shiny laptop, and I am back in the game! And I have a couple posts already scheduled for the week.
16. No fast food for a month (Does Subway count? What about Dutch Bros/Starbucks??I will have to decide...)- The food part of this is fine. Although, October is the month that Subway has all its footlongs for $5. The part that is killing me is that it is October and I want a pumpkin spice latte. Or a pumpkin pie Blizzard. Or a pumpkin milkshake from Burgerville. I almost gave in yesterday and drove through Dutch Bros for a pumpkin pie latte, but I reminded myself that it was October 22, and I only have 9 more days to go.
19. Get a massage- I have a coupon for an hour long massage for $29. I need to call and make an appointment tomorrow for later this week.
21. Meal plan for three weeks straight and follow the plan!- I am starting week 3 right now. I really like meal planning, and doing all of my shopping on Sunday. The Mister isn't as big on it, but it really does take a bunch of stress off me during the week.
25. Take a cooking class- The Kelly's Appliance store has cooking classes. Weird. But, there is a pasta one coming up that is interesting to me.
26. Send birthday cards in the mail, even to people I see regularly- This is birthday season for my family. I sent one off and am ready to send more.
27. Stay a week ahead at work- As far as planning goes, I am doing this. I also found some neat tips for organizing a classroom through Pinterest. I could always use help with this, and there were some cool tricks for this.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Recipe Thursday: Dijon Chicken

Recipe 7/16

It was bound to happen. This recipe isn't a flop, it's just nothing special and it has no business in my pink book. The Mister said I shouldn't even put it in the blog, but I feel like I have to. Because of my computer issues, I didn't have time to hunt around blogland for a delicious treat, so I turned to the usually solid Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. You know, the one everyone owns:

Also because of my computer issues, this post is going to be lacking pictures. I took them, but they aren't great, and neither is this recipe.

Chicken Dijon

3/4 cup herb flavored rice (Seriously, no clue why this is listed. It is no where in the directions.)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
lemon pepper seasoning
onion powder
2 T butter
about a cup of milk or cream
2 teaspoon flour
1 T Dijon mustard

1. Cook the rice mix. (This is the only time it is mentioned in the recipe.)
2. Season chicken with lemon-pepper and onion powder. Cook in a skillet, when it is done, take it out and put it on a serving plate under foil.
3. Measure the pan drippings, and add milk or cream until it equals 2/3 cup. (I really didn't have any drippings so it just took 2/3 cup milk)
4. Stir flour and 1/4 cup milk until smooth (I believe they call this a roux) add to the skillet. Add mustard. Stir and cook until it starts to bubble and thicken.  Add chicken back to the pan until you are ready to serve.

How was it?
Eh. If you didn't catch it above, the Mister and I were both unimpressed. Although, it wasn't "throw it out and eat a PB&J" bad, it was just lacking something. If I were to do this again, I would add more mustard for a bigger kick.

What do you do when you make an "eh" meal?

Monday, October 17, 2011

RIP Dell

This weekend my Dell Inspiron Laptop died. I was just doing a little Pinterest snooping, when BLAMO! Critical Hard Drive Error! BLAMO! Hard Drive Cluster Failure! And 14 other things happened. The Mister was able to save some of my pictures and the document Excel document that had all of our friends and families addresses from the wedding. We are hoping that someone might be able to recover the rest of the documents and pictures from it some day, although I don't have much hope for that.

I will admit that one of my first thoughts was "what about my blog?" And more than one friend asked me what would happen to this blog while I wait for my new computer. My friend, and former running buddy, K offered her old Inspiron to me until the replacement comes. Thank you K! She does read this blog pretty regularly, so I think she just wanted the posts to keep coming. :)

The Mister has been telling me to back up all my important things for the last couple months or so. We knew that my laptop was on borrowed time- I had seen the blue screen of death more times then I can count and sometimes it would just freeze and shut down. But, I didn't listen to him. I have to say that he was right. I am pretty bummed about the things that I lost, but I do feel fortunate that I graduated grad school in June, so there wasn't anything that I have to turn in or anything. Although, I would like some of those papers back.

There is one more thing that makes me a little sad about losing that laptop. You see, the Mister and I met online. Not on Match or eHarmony, no- we met on Myspace. Of course, this was when people were still on Myspace. Back then, you could "browse" users, narrowing people down by sex, age range, location, relationship status etc. I will admit that I had done that a few times to see what hunks were out there. Then one day in the end of January I got an email from this person (who, BTW, I had seen his profile before) with this quote, "any person who has not one but two Pauly Shore movies listed deserves a friend request." We emailed back and forth for about a month before we met in person. The rest, as they say, is history :)

Because of that, it's a little hard for me to say goodbye to my Dell Inspiron. I know I don't have a choice, but I guess I am just sentimental. The Mister says we are not keeping junk, and when he gets a new laptop, he will get rid of his as well. Without a second thought.

Am I the only one who gets sentimental about objects?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Candy Corn Craft

Today, and yesterday afternoon, are furlough days for me. Furlough days= Craft days for me.  I really do like furlough days, not because I'm not at work, but because it's like someone gave me extra time. The Mister isn't home, and I get to spend it doing exactly what I want. A lot of times, that is crafting.

On one if my marathon completely normal amount of time sessions on Pinterest, I came across this:
By the way, I still am planning on making these next month
Clearly, these are not a Halloween craft, but it got me thinking about those Styrofoam cones that they used. Then it came to me- Candy Corn!

Here are my supplies:
3 Styrofoam cones- $2.50 ea
1/4 yard each: white, yellow, orange fabric- about $3.00
1/2 yard candy corn fabric- $1.75
Halloween spider web- $1.00
display tray- $7.00

Total- $19.75

I will be using the tray again, so it is hard for me to include it in the total, but I did buy it for the project so I am adding it in.

Also, you will see Mod Podge in the picture. That was stupid. I used it for one, and realized hot glue would be much easier, and cleaner to use. BUT if Mod Podge is your adhesive of choice, go ahead and use it.

Start by wrapping the white fabric around the top of the cone. I did this differently for each one, and they all ended up about the same. Do whatever is easiest for you.
Next you are going to use the orange. Fold the top edge down and add a line of hot glue. Wrap this around the cone, leaving a couple inches of white showing. Hot glue the other edges down.

Do the same thing with the yellow fabric. I folded the fabric around the bottom of the cone and hot glued that down as well.

The most frustrating part of this whole project for me, is that when you wrap something around a cone, it doesn't wrap straight across. I know there is a way to do it, by cutting or something, but I could not for the life of me figure it out.

I placed my three candy cones in the metal tray I bought at this trip to Goodwill, that I lined with the cute candy corn fabric. Then I wrapped some of the fake spider web around all three to finish it off.
What do you do with extra time?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oh my...

When I first tagged a post as "thrift store finds," I assumed I would use that tag when I found furniture at a thrift store that I would redo, like here and here, I never thought I would use it for a product like the one I found today.

Very rarely to I go into the Dallas, Oregon Goodwill.  Dallas is a smaller, country town, and it is surrounded by even smaller towns, like the one I live in. Because of this, the Goodwill is small and doesn't have a lot of furniture, which is my usual reason for going into Goodwill. Today I was looking for a tray to display a Halloween craft I was working on, so I decided to give it a shot. That is when I saw this mixed in with the random household things:

Seriously. For reals. I don't even know what to say. 

Before today, the most unusual thing I ever saw at a thrift store was a unicycle. This beats that by 10,000.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever come across at a thrift store?

Recipe Thursday: My Mom's Apple Butter

Recipe 6/16 for my 30 before 30 challenge!

Growing up, I didn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen learning how to cook. I actually didn't figure out I liked cooking until after my undergrad was done. There are a few recipes that my mom made growing up that I absolutely loved, one of those is her apple butter. We had an apple tree at our house, and there was an abundance of apples, so mom made apple butter. I loved the smooth texture and her seasonings were always perfect. After I moved out, I tried some store bought apple butter and threw away the jar. Sorry Smuckers, you don't have anything on my mama.

Two or three weeks ago, I was cruising around the web and I found a Crockpot apple butter recipe. I thought I would call mom up, get her recipe, and use the Crockpot method to cook it. Mom said that was stupid. I should just make hers. (I already said we never used a Crockpot growing up.) She said she would look for the recipe and get it to me. Last week I got a card in the mail, and inside was this:
My mom, like a lot of people, keeps her recipes on 3x5 cards. (I already told you here how I am keeping mine.) She says that you know which recipes are the good ones because they are the ones that have food splatters all over them, and you can barely read it any more. Her apple butter is one of those recipes. She rewrote the card out, and sent me my own copy.

The Ingredients:

4 pounds apples (Apples are usually about a 1/2 pound each, so about 8. Mine were small so it took 10. Mom also says that Macintosh apples are the best, but Fuji's will do. Mine are locally grown Fuji's)
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Sterile Canning Jars- Mom says this makes 3 pints. Somehow I got 4 out of it. I used wide mouth 1/2 pint jars. Mom approved of my choice.

Start by cutting the apples into eighths, removing the core. Leave the skin on unless you think its icky or you like a lot of extra work.

Take 1/2 cup of the cider and add it to a blender. Add a handful of the apple pieces. Blend. Add more apple pieces. Blend some more. Continue with this until 1/2 the apples are blended smooth. This takes awhile. This is called apple butter. You want the consistency to be as close to butter like as possible. When the blender is full, pour it into a large pot. Finish blending the rest of the apples and the other 1/2 cup of cider like you did before.

Mine is not nearly smooth enough. I ended up putting it all back in the blender for longer.
When it is as smooth as you want, add the sugar and seasoning to the pot and cook on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour.
After it is cooked, pour it into sterilized jars. Put the lid on, and screw the top down. No water bath needed. As the apple butter cools, you will hear popping sounds as the lids seal. You know that they are sealed when you press on the top and it doesn't "pop" at you.

So, how was it?
Yummy! I've been eating it on toast in the morning, as well as some PB& apple butter sammies at lunch time. It's not exactly the same as what I remember, but still much better than the store bought stuff!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Halloween Crafts!

I have been in a crafting funk lately. This happens every year at the start of the school year. I get really busy and the creative juices get backed up. With Pinterest I have a ton of ideas, but it doesn't give me any more time to work with. After the trip to the pumpkin patch I had all the tools to create my mummykin.

To make this little guy, I used
  • 1 small-medium pumpkin (with a good stem)
  • 3 rolls of roller gauze (there is only 1 in the picture)
  • A pair of googley eyes
  • A hot glue gun (Not pictured)

Start wrapping the gauze around the pumpkin. I started back middle. Use additional gauze as needed. When you are happy with the coverage, use a hot glue gun to add googley eyes. Smile every time you look at it.

This project was super easy, and really inexpensive.
  • Pumpkin- $3.00
  • Googley Eyes- .99
  • Already owned- Gauze & hot glue (I used to teach for the red cross and have several open/used rolls of this gauze that can't be used for first aid, as they are no longer sterile)
Total cost- $3.99

Since I was in a crafting mood, I tackled another small project. I wasn't going to do this for Halloween, but it adds a fun touch to our walls. I am planning on doing something similar for Christmas, so I used this as a learning tool.

For this project I used:
1 piece of 9x12 black foam sheet- .99
3 pieces of scrapbooking paper- 2 @ .59, 1 @ .99
Black Ribbon- $2.50
Already owned- black letters, spray glue, box cutter, paper cutter, hot glue gun

Total cost- $5.66

I cut the foam sheet into quarters using a box cutter. Then I cut my scrapbooking paper down to size and attached it to the foam quarters with the spray adhesive. I glued the letters down to the squares.

After cutting 2 three inch lengths of ribbon, connect the three squares together. Cut a longer length and glue a loop to the top. Make a cute little bow and put it on the bottom.

For Christmas, I think I will buy some cuter letters. I saw some at Michael's, but decided to just use the letters I already owned for this own. I also will do a bit more measuring when I attach the ribbons. You can see that the second "O" is a little crooked. I want to use Modpodge instead of spray adhesive.  I also think I might attach some jingle bells to the bottom.

I think I will also be making weekly-ish trips to the craft store to use the 40% off coupons to collect the rest of the materials.
Here's our fun mantle. The little pumpkin and ghost dishes and the jack-o-lantern bucket are from Target years ago. On the far right is my bouquet from our wedding.

Do you decorate for Halloween?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Fun!

The Mister and I went to the pumpkin patch this weekend! The weather Saturday was perfect for our day out. Living in the valley, there are several pumpkin patches to choose from. Right now, I can think of 5 off the top of my head. We decided to head over to St. Paul and go to French Prairie Gardens. St. Paul is the small town where his parents grew up and we got married in. He still has several family members that live in the 400 person town. The Mister and I went to French Prairie Gardens when we first started dating.
Us at FPG Pumpkin Patch 2008
This weekend was just as fun. They have a pretty large petting zoo/animal feeding area, a hay maze, corn maze, and a dark maze, a giant hay slide, corn cannon, apple sling shot, and the pumpkin patch. They also have homemade baked goods (apple cider donut = de-lish!) and the Pigtucky Derby.

This guy was not for feeding

Lost in the Hay Maze

Weee! Yes, I am wearing a Jack-o-lantern shirt to the pumpkin patch. Several stylish 5-8 year-olds were also wearing similar shirts.

The Mister feeding a goat
Me feeding the cute little goats.

And of course the Pigtucky Derby. The two farmers come out and do there shtick about the farm and make some jokes about the pigs and then they go running around a little track. Seriously, you need to go see pigs racing because it is so funny!
They also do a third race of 4 ducks. How can you not laugh at a bunch of little ducks waddling around?
After the races we headed over to the pumpkin patch and started the hunt for our perfect pumpkins. The mister likes his pumpkin to be round, and I like mine to be a little taller. I also wanted a third smaller pumpkin for a little craft.
Such a fun way to spend a Saturday!

 What about you? Do you go to the pumpkin patch?