Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Cake

Remember those pumpkins that I cooked at the beginning of the month? Well I have made 2 pumpkin pies, 2 pumpkin cheesecakes, one pumpkin pecan pie, and 1 batch of pumpkin cake and I have used almost half the pumpkin. That is just how much pumpkin puree you can get from a few pumpkins. I did learn one interesting thing: when you use pumpkin puree you have made yourself you need to strain some of the water out, because there was a lot, and some of my things took a little bit longer to cook then with canned pumpkin.

Today I am showcasing the ever so simple pumpkin cake. I stumbled upon this over a year ago when my mother in law was here. I think it might have been her that told me about it, I honestly don't remember. But anyway, this is the best and easiest way to cook a cake. It comes out so moist and delicious!

one cake mix - spice cake is really best for this, but you can use anything
2 C pumpkin

Mix together and bake according to cake instructions. I usually cook it in a bunt pan because it just looks nicer. :) Let cool and add a simple glaze frosting! Enjoy!

Tell me that is not the easiest thing ever! I made it for my husbands Thanksgiving work party and everyone loved it! It would be perfect for Christmas entertaining as well, especially when you are pressed for time!

Linking up to: Made by You Mondays, Craft-o-Manic Monday
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blog Hopping & Mint Cleaner

Jen from Tatertots & Jello and Infarrantly Creative are hosting a blog hop to win this cool machine that will clean your hard surface floors. I need one of those! So to answer one of the questions that they asked:

* Are you more of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday girl?  Tell us about your best deal or your craziest shopping story.

I am definitely a cyber Monday gal. I do not like to go out and fight my way through the store just to find out that they do not have what it is that I want. I have gone out once on Black Friday and I spent way more then I should have because I saw things that I thought my kids would like and it was a good deal. Needless to say they were very spoiled that year! I cannot recall a best deal from Black Friday or Cyber Monday, so I obviously did not buy anything great! But I do remember two best deals that I got recently, I got a charm pack of fabric for 5 dollars and a real leather coat for 15 dollars.

I am participating in Infarrantly Creative and Tatertots and Jello’s Blog Hop for a chance to win a Mint Cleaner. It is the revolutionary machine that cleans your hard floor surfaces for you.
Click here to join the blog hop and a chance to win!Mint_cloth2
The Mint Cleaner is available at the following places:
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Cards

I have to admit, I used to never really send out Christmas cards. But times have changed. Now I love to send out cards. This year I did something a little different then normal. I am addicted to Photoshop, I love what it can do and so I made my family's cards with it this year. Well at least the picture part of it. I did make some handmade cards to send with the pictures. I made 3 different variations in trying to find the one that fit with us perfectly. Here they are: (the picture obviously goes in the blank square)

I sized them down to post on here, so some of them are a little bit blurry. (I am still not the greatest at these things.)  They are all 4x6 so I can go and get them printed anywhere and they will fit nicely inside the envelope.

And here is the card that I will send along with our picture. I used a new edge die cut by Tim Holtz - I love the way it turned out!

 Which digital card would you choose to add your family picture to? And which edge cut on the cards is your favorite?

Linking up to:Free for all, Motivate me Monday,
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Upcycled Pillow

In our house we use throw pillows a lot - and as their name implies we use them to throw. Conan and a few of the kids love to throw these pillows at each other. Well I decided that since these pillows are hardly ever going to be used for decorative purposes, I did not want to spend a ton of money on them. So I set off to my local thrift store. I found this beauty for $1.50.

Because I have already used up my crafting budget for the month, I decided that I would use a few of the clothes that were in the pile for the thrift store to make the cover for this pillow. I cut the background from an old button down shirt that used to be Conans. I really liked this pillow here from the house of smiths and decided to try making mine like theirs:

So with that being my inspiration I took on ruffles again. I have to say it went much smoother this go around and I was done sewing the cover in under 10 minutes. I used the button part of the shirt for the back so that when you are putting it on and off the pillow form you just button and unbutton it. (I got this idea from someone else, but I cannot for the life of me remember where -sorry).

However, with just this blue it was lacking something. So I went to Thing #4's closet and pulled out a shirt that was not my favorite and a little small on him as well. I took this and made one of these flowers. I made it cutting a few squiggly circles of various sizes. Then I burned the edges to seal them - it was at this point that Thing #4 decided that he wanted that shirt back and asked me to sew it back together, that was not going to happen. I then was trying to find something to put in the middle that would complete the look but not b too fragile for throwing. When we were racking leaves I pulled out a stick and decided to cut button sizes pieces from the end. I did that and then painted them and gave them a little bit of aged look with some chalk ink. They don't quite match the blue of the pillow so I might go and change them later on, but they will do for now.

  And here we have the finished product - I decided that I would use a pin for the flower so that it could be removed to save it from being destroyed when the pillow is thrown.
 Linking up here: Creative Itch, Someday Crafts, Sugar and Dots, and Sew Much Ado.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Fresh Bread

I don't know about you, but nothing beats fresh bread straight out of the oven. That is the only time I really like or really eat bread - when it is still hot that it melts your butter, the outside is still a little crusty, and the inside soft and warm.

It was freezing cold this morning when I took the kids to school and so I thought that today would be a good day to make bread. I found this recipe earlier this year in a Martha Stewart magazine. Leave it up to Martha to give you a great recipe. I love this recipe because it is so simple - I have not messed up yet and I have made it so many times!

For this I use a wheat called Kamut, it gives it a great flavor, slightly sweet, and it lighter that regular wheat.

1 TBsp plus 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/4 C warm water (110 degrees)
3 TBsp  plus 2 tsp honey
4 Tbsp butter melted - I have also used olive oil here
7 C flour ( I use 4 Kamut or whole wheat and 3 white)
2 Tbsp salt

Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 C water. Add 2 tsp honey. Whisk until yeast dissolves. Let stad until foamy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with dough hook attachment. Add butter and remaining 1 3/4 C water and 3 TBsp honey. Whisk flour with salt; add 3 C to yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until smooth. Add remaining 4 C of flour, 1 at a time, mixing until dough comes away from the sides of bowl and forms a ragged, slightly sticky ball.

Knead of floured surface until smooth and elastic, but still slightly tacky. Shape into ball. Transfer to buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let dough stand in warm place until it doubles in volume - about 1 hour. Butter 2 loaf pans. Punch dough down and divide in half. (I use these little loaf pans because then when my kids want a snack they can just go and get a whole loaf and they do not have to cut the bread and end up with 1/2 inch top and 2 inch bottom slice.)

Shape 1 dough half into a long rectangle. Fold along sides of dough into middle, overlapping slightly. Transfer dough to pan, repeat with other half. Brush each loaf with butter or dust with flour for a rustic look. Preheat over to 450 degrees. Cover loaves with plastic and let stand until dough rises about 1 inch above tops of pans - 45 minutes to 1 hour. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake, rotating pans after 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, let cool slightly. turn out loaves. Let cool before slicing - I have yet to be able to do this step with any bread!
These also make great rolls for Thanksgiving. Maybe next week I will have some Thanksgiving recipes to share. You could use them for Christmas. ;)
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Corn Husk Wreath

I saw this wreath over at How Does She? and I fell in love with it. It was that perfectly rustic look without being too much. It was super easy to make. I agree with the gal who made it, using pins was much more forgiving then hot glue, and less messy. (I always tend to get little stringy things all over everything when I hot glue). However, my finger was a little bit tender after all was said and done. This wreath turned out to be very full, I have it hanging on the inside of my door because it will not fit in between my door and my screen and I do not want it just on the screen.

This is just a super easy and cheap way to add a little bit of fall to your home - before winter hits! :)

Linking up to: House of Hepworths, Shabby Chic,craft-o-manic, and
giveawaysJoin  us Saturdays at for the weekend      wrap    up           party!
Keeping It Simple
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Tree Skirt

 About 10 years ago I decided that I would make a christmas tree skirt for me and Conan's tree. This was before we had any kids. I was extremely cheap (seeing as we both were in school) and so I used some linen fabric that I got from my mother in law. It worked great. Later that year I was reading a Family Fun magazine in the dr.s office and saw this cute idea of putting your kids hand prints on the christmas tree skirt every year. I was so excited because usually I see these great ideas and my kids are too old or it would not work. I gave birth to Thing #1 later that year and guess what I did at Christmas? Yep, we put his handprint on the christmas tree skirt. And we have been doing this for nine years now, and the kids love it and look forward to it every year. They love to put their hands on past years and see how much they have grown. And in 20 years when all my kids are grown it will be something that I have to remember them when they were little.

But the reason I am posting now, when I made it 10 years ago, is because over at Ucreate for her monthly create with me she is doing a ruffled christmas tree skirt. I had been wanted to add an edge of some sort to my skirt and this was perfect. So I took my coupon to JoAnn's and found some fabric that matched the colors of paint that I had used for the kids handprints and made my ruffle.
Now, I am not that good at ruffles. I used to sew frilly little girl dresses for a living and they had a ruffler machine that did it for you. What I would give to have that for this project, it would have cut the time down dramatically. But I learned a few things and I think that 'if' I do ruffles again it will go much smoother. I am contemplating tea dying the actual skirt part so that it matches the cream of the ruffle, but Conan says to just leave it and it 5 years it will be that color anyway from the kids touching it and playing with it each year.

Linking up to:
Somedaycrafts - whatevergoes Wednesday

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fun Giveaways

Here are some fun giveaways that I have come across that I wanted to share:

Burgundy Buttons they are giving away a $25 gift certificate. And they have some great fabric! Who doesn't need more fabric?

Brown Paper -- Packages is giving away a $50 gift certificate for The Vintage Pearl . They have some very classic and simple jewelry - just my style!

Jen over at Tatertots and Jello is giving away a clean and simple puff quilt from Honey Bear Lane. 
I love the buttons and minky fabric she used on this quilt.

Anyway, there are a few fun things for you to check out! Have a great day, and I have a cute christmas project I will share tomorrow!
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Can I tell you how much I love a good cookie - well I love a good cookie. I got this recipe from a friend about 4 years ago and it is still one of my favorites! Conan likes it too because there are a lot of chocolate chips and chocolate chunks in it. When my friend gave me the recipe I had to cut it in half because it made a ton of cookies. Maybe when all my boys are teenagers I will need the full recipe, but for now half works great because it is not too much.  (I don't use a scoop for my cookies, I just put them all on the tray a little bit messy).
 Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 C brown sugar
1 C white sugar
1 C butter - I always use butter, no margarine
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 hershey's bar grated up
2 C flour
21/2 C oat flour - I blend up my oats in the blender to get the flour
1 bag of chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars together, add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Mix all dry ingredients together in separate bowl and then add to egg/butter mixture. Add chocolate and mix again. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. (9 is perfect for us). Let cool 2 minutes on pan and then move to wire rack.
They are really puffy when you first take them out of the oven, which is why it is important to let them cool a little bit before moving them.
Enjoy with milk, or just by themselves, which is the way I like them! :)

I am linking up here:
Recipes Of A Cheapskate
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Subway Art

 I have seen this subway art everywhere and I love it. I found one I really liked and now I cannot find where it was. When I find it again I will post it here. I copied most of the words from her, but I changed it a little bit. I did not like the dark background, I like the lighter background with colorful words. I printed it on a creamy vanilla cardstock and them mounted it on foam board so that it could stand up good. I made it a little distressed with some chalk ink around the edges and a little down the middle here and there. If you are interested in one for yourself leave me a comment of email me.
I used it as my table piece for a pie night I had with some girl friends the other night. They all loved it and said they thought I bought it at Hobby Lobby - what a great compliment! I paired it up with some fall leaves and what was supposed to be a table runner, but turned out more like a place mat. I got the idea here. I am going to try making this again but with some copied sheet music for my piano open house next month.

I linked up to: craft-o-manic Mondays &
Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend     wrap    up           party!
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Camera Strap Cover

I have seen these camera straps all over and I love them. I had to make one for myself, so I rummaged through my fabric scraps and found this red stripe. It was some leftover binding from a past project and was the perfect size! I went and bought some soft minky fabric to match and got started. It was so quick and easy! And I only spent a dollar on it, and I have enough red left to make another strap or something little. :) I love projects like that. I added the ruffle to make it fun and it just completes the look. I did not sew this right onto my camera, because I like the idea of taking it off and changing it when I get bored or what a different one.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Original Pumpkin Pie

 Okay, remember that pumpkin I cooked yesterday, well today I decided to make it into a pumpkin pie. However my kitchen was lacking one essential thing - a crust. And Thing #4 and Thing #5 were sick and so I had no desire to take them to the store to get the crust. I had told the other kids that we were going to make this, so I rummaged through the cupboards until I found something that I thought would work. I thought it would taste okay if we made a graham cracker crust, but Thing #5 had eaten all of the graham crackers a day ago - so I settled on the next closest thing: animal crackers. Yes you heard me right, animal crackers.
I followed the instructions for my favorite pumpkin pie except I made an animal cracker crust (just like a graham cracker crust but with the animal crackers). I think that it turned out great, and it was gone in under an hour. Thing #5 did not like the crust too much, but then he doesn't like animal crackers very much either. Here is my extremely original pumpkin pie.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Cooking a Pumpkin

 A couple of weeks ago Thing #3 went on a field trip to the local farm here and did all the fun stuff like hay rides, mazes, crafts, and of course picking out their own pumpkin. When he came home that day he was adamant that this pumpkin was not for carving this one was to be made into a pie. I have never cooked a pumpkin before, but I told him I would. And the pumpkin sat on the counter until this weekend. Last week I went to the grocery store and they were clearing pumpkins out at 25 cents each! Well I bought more pumpkin and decided that it was now or never to try this. Here are the pumpkins I cooked. The nice looking one with the stem is Thing #3's.
 It turned out it was really quite simple. I got out my trusty Joy of Cooking book and did just what they said.

Step one: Wash your pumpkin.
 Step two: Cut in half and remove seeds. Place on baking sheet, shell up.
Step three: Bake at #25 degrees for one hour or until soft. These pumpkins were not that big so one hour was plenty.
Step four: scrap out the insides. I used a ice cream scoop and it was super easy.
Step five: Process pumpkin until it looks like the baby food you buy. I used my bender for this, you do not even need to add any water. I then scooped out 2 cups of mix and put them in bag and labeled them for the freezer. Super Easy

I guess it is a good thing that learned how to do this because where I live pumpkin is a seasonal item and only around in the fall. So now I am stocked up! Stay tuned, now that I have cooked the pumpkin the kids are asking when I will make pie or bread or something with it!
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Thankful Turkey

 When me and my siblings were growing up my parents had a Thankful Turkey - it was very cleverly made out of an old butter tub that my mom flipper over and cut a slit in the bottom. My mom had made a turkey out of fabric that she put over the top. We would write things that we were thankful for on little papers and stick them in the slot. During breakfast on Thanksgiving day my dad would take the turkey cover off and open the container and read all the things that we had written all month and filled the container with.

We loved doing this as children and would writing just about everything that we could think of to see how full we could get our turkey. So, when I got married and had kids I thought that I needed one of these Thankful Turkey's to help my kids appreciate their blessings. I am not as good of a seamstress as my mom, so I changed the way I made my turkey.
 I went to the local craft store and picked up 4 different colors of fall felt, and a basket that would serve as the body. I then cut out the feathers and hot glued them to the back of the basket. There was a handle on one side of my basket so it made it easier to glue the feathers on. Then I cut the center piece - not exactly sure what you want to call it - and glued it onto the base of the feathers. I then figured out how I wanted my turkey's neck to look - I drew one on paper and asked Conan (my husband). He took my paper and altered my drawing significantly for the better and I then cut 2 in the shape of the neck. (He is the artistic one in the family.) I sewed them together and then turned them right side out and then filled it with batting. I tried to make it as full as I could get it because growing up our poor turkeys neck was always bent over. Also to combat this problem I stuck a craft stick in the neck. Then I hot glued it to the basket. For the little red thing that hangs down I used a red pipe cleaner all bunched up, and of course hot glued on.

Now all you have to do it cut strips of paper for you and you family to write what you are thankful for and you can start filling the basket of your Thankful Turkey.

handmade projects
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

XOXO Quilt

I choose to share this quilt that I made while my husband was gone for 3 months for work. I saw this quilt done in the store and I just fell in love with it. I bought the pattern then I was on the search for fabric. I wanted to just copy the one I saw, but I then I decided it would not be 'mine'. So 2 months later I finally had all the fabric ready. I worked on this every night after that trying to get it done before he came home.

The hardest part for me was the appliques. I had never done them before and the instructions were only a little bit of help. But I succeeded in getting them done and on. However, when I do appliques again I will do them differently! This would definitely be something that I learned - use that fusible stuff underneath them to help them stay in place. I had used the no sew glue by Allene's, it worked okay, but these were quite big. I also tucked the edges on all the appliques and next time I would just leave them raw because the stitching around them and the fusible stuff would hold it. Not to mention make it much easier and quicker!

One thing that was nice about this is that not too many of the seams match perfectly - I loved it because Thing #3 helped me a little bit one day and well I could tell that night when I was laying it all out. I was easily able to fix the problem by extending one of the color strips.

This is also the first quilt that I did not do an all over quilt pattern on. When I finally got around to quilting this I was 7 months pregnant with Thing #5, and really wanted something cute and something that could stand out. I traced around all the flowers and then did 4 petal flowers on pretty much the rest of the quilt.

Even though this quilt took me about 9 months to finish (I have others that have taken longer) I love this one, I love the way it looks on my bed, I love the way it looks on the couch, I even love to look at it when it is all folded up in the pile.

This is my first time linking up to anything so I hope this works!
Blogger's Quilt Festival
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This weekend we spent doing a multitude of Halloween activities, one of which was carving these bad boys:

Well I have only roasted the seeds once before and I never really planned on doing it again because of the pain it was to wash them all off. However, one of my lovely children was cleaning out their pumpkin one seed at a time - and another one decided that they could pick all the gooey mess out of the seeds. That part being done I decided that why not? So we roasted seeds.

It is very simple to do:
Wash seeds and cover on pan coated with oil or non stick spray. Sprinkle with salt.

Cook at 350 degrees (I use this whenever I am not sure what temperature to use) until golden brown. Mine took about 45 minutes.
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