Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Halloween Night Secret

I have a little secret . . . . I'm not necessarily proud of it, but it's true all the same. There's no point in denying it any longer. Every Halloween night (or tonight in this year's case - since we're celebrating on Saturday), after we close down the front door to trick-or-treaters, I turn off all the lights, and sit down on the floor in front of my iTunes library . . . . and I play C H R I S T M A S music. Yes, it's true!!! I love Christmas music and it's all I can do to keep myself from playing it all year round. So my "line in the sand" is Halloween night. That is my FIRM rule - no Christmas music . . . until tonight.
And then, stand back - it's Christmas music 24/7 until around the day after Christmas.
There - I feel much better. It's never good to keep secrets!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Halloween Crafts I Love

I had hoped to get more crafty things done this week, but instead my week has been filled with work, work, and fun adventures with the boys. My philosophy is that we should get as much wear out of Halloween costumes as we can since you really only wear them this time of year (although I have been known to let my boys dress up in their costumes anytime they feel the urge and wander through the neighborhood). So we've been dropping in to any old thing happening around our local area this week that calls for costume wearing and candy collecting. The boys have been loving it.
So since I have nothing new to blog about, I present for my viewing pleasure, some of my latest fun blog finds for Halloween:

#1 - I have yet to sew a Halloween costume for either of my boys. I've made costumes in the past for friend's kids but just haven't worked up the energy to do it lately. However, this idea just might change my mind for next year. Homemade by Jill created this adorable Skeleton Costume and I just might willing to give this one a try - - - if I can talk son #2 into being a skeleton next year. He is incredibly independent and has an opinion about everything. So we'll see, but at least the idea is in my head now.

#2 - Over at She Wears Flowers, this super cute Witch Candy Bag gives me all kinds of ideas for future crafting projects. Another LOVE it!
#3 - making the transition to Thanksgiving now, I too have always believed that the Thanksgiving holiday gets shorted in its spot between Halloween and Christmas. We have loved our new Halloween Advent this year and have always loved Christmas Advents. Keeping it Simple - guest post from Project Naptime made this Thanksgiving Advent.#4 - But my most favorite for today . . . Oopsey Daisy made this Gratitude Advent Calendar. Love, Love, Love it! I like the idea of helping kids learn to be thankful. I'm printing the leaves out right now and will be making my own very soon (hopefully this weekend). Thanks for sharing!.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes

After a much needed vacation with my family to Jackson, WY last week, I had to leave them there and catch a flight to Minneapolis for a conference. It was a busy few days putting the conference on but after we got everything cleaned up on Friday afternoon, I wandered around downtown Minneapolis with a few of my friends. We happened upon this restaurant and took a peek at their menu. It sounded intriguing and so we decided to have our lunch there. Well it turned out to be an award winning restaurant . . . and for a good reason. Hell's Kitchen describes their food as "unique but not fancy; interesting but not fussy." Their name has nothing to do with the TV show on Fox, but rather it comes from the famous New York neighborhood. The food was totally out of this world! My friends both had the crab cakes and poached eggs with bell pepper holandaise sauce. I chose the Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes and oh my! They were incredible! I've never tasted such fluffy, light, and airy pancakes. A few berries on top with a light dusting of powdered sugar and I was in heaven!
They do have a recipe book for $28 but after buying their homemade Blood Orange Marmalade and their homemade Peanut Butter to bring home I didn't want to spend the money on the cookbook. So of course, I googled for a recipe and here it is:
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Mitch Omer - Hell's Kitchen Minneapolis

6 egg whites
9 egg yolks
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
4 T freshly grated lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t kosher salt
1/3 cup flour
unsalted butter, melted for the skillet
Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer fitted with a wire whisk attachment, pour egg whites into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk the whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks. Once peaks are formed, reduce the speed to low.
Add the egg yolks one at a time to the whites, beating after each addition. Then slowly add 1/3 cup melted butter. Continue to whisk on low speed until the ingredients are well combined.
Turn off the mixer and add the sugar, ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Whisk for 1 minute at medium speed, then reduce the speed to low. Slowly add the flour. Mix to combine the flour for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to eliminate any remaining dry spots. Mix again at medium speed for about 1 minute until everything is just combined.
Place the batter in the fridge for 4 hours or up to 3 days.
When ready to cook, place a large skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Brush the cooking surface with melted butter and pour the batter into the skillet in 1/4 cup portions. Leave about 2 inches between the batter to allow for spreading. Cook the pancakes until bubbles appear on the surface and the underside is a golden brown, about 5 minutes. (These will take a bit longer to cook than traditional pancakes, so be patient.) Flip the pancakes a cook for another 2-3 minutes until the other side is golden brown. Transfer the pancakes to a warm plate, and repeat until all of the batter is used up.
Garnish the hot pancakes with powdered sugar, fresh berries, melted butter, and warm syrup. Serve immediately.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Advent Calendars

How can you not love advent calendars? They're everywhere these days, but I think I have some of the cutest ones around.

This Happy Halloween countdown is a new addition for us this year - a great find from one of my local craft fairs. My boys have really enjoyed finding fun little Halloween treats in the pockets every day this month. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've moved things around and added fun new finds into this as the month has progressed. Christmas is, of course, the traditional advent calendar time of year. Nancy Halvorsen at has designed patterns and fabrics for a couple of my most favorite Christmas Advents. As you might guess, I've made more than one or two of these over the years. This is her "Here Comes Santa" advent. It is surprisingly large and we L O V E it! The ornaments are adorable - obviously one ornament gets hung on the advent per day. She includes a matching pattern for a bag to hold the ornaments as well. This one hangs on my wall in December, but my sister and a few friends have been lucky enough (if I do say so myself) to be gifted with the same one through the years.

This advent is another one of Nancy's that I made for my mother and father. This is her "Glad Tidings" advent. If I could force myself to not obsess about a collection, I would definitely be a Nativity collector - I can't even start though because there just isn't enough room in my garage to store another collection. Nancy has also designed some pre-printed panels with pre-printed ornaments that you can buy and put together. These make for really quick gifts with very little sewing. The first one of hers that I found a few years ago is from her Santa Claus is Coming fabric line - my neighbor was gifted with this particular advent calendar a few years back.
I just noticed on the website that Nancy has a new line out this year with another pre-printed advent panel with ornaments. It is called "Good Tidings of Great Joy" and the instructions are available for free on her website. Since I am a fabric "collector" I better run right out and grab a few of these panels to have on hand for future gifts.
Wait until you see all the matching Christmas Stockings Nancy has for all of these advents . . . . and yes, I've made a million of them. That's for a future post.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Blogging Finds

Regardless of the fact that my crafting To Do List is plenty long, I can always seem to find cute new things to add to the list. Here are some of the fun Halloween crafts I've been seeing around blogland in the last few days:

2x4 Wood Scrap Spookies
Diary of a Preppy Mom made these incredibly cute Halloween decorations. If there was only a few more weeks before trick or treat day, these would definitely end up on my mantle.

Spooky Pillows

Army Wife Quilter expanded on a bat pillow idea and created these vampire and Frankenstein pillows. Spooky Bowl of Eyeballs

Flamingo Toes made these great Spooky Eyeballs from dollar store plastic balls. She even includes a free printable pdf of the eyes for us. I do love it when people share.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halloween Count Down Blocks

My sister has the great fortune of having an October birthday - I won't say how old she'll be this month (41) but I will admit that I am older, at least the calendar says so. The reason this is a fortunate thing (the October birthday, not the age) is that October is usually right around the time that I get seriously crafty after a nice long summer spent mostly outdoors. She often ends up with some fun, handmade birthday presents.
She sent me an email a week or so ago which consisted of two lines - I want this! And a link to this over at How Does She? So since it was really cute . . . I promptly ordered a kit and son #2 and I spent a fun evening making it for her. I love my power sander . . . but it tore a nice big chunk of paper off the top corner of the bottom block - let's call that "character". Happy Birthday "J"!By the way . . . I found a great new "tool". I wanted to stain the blocks but I was dreading pulling out a can of stain and a brush to get the look I wanted. I was smart enough to wander through the paint isle at one of my local craft stores and came upon this wonderful little thing . . . a stain pen. It worked like a charm!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Holiday I Spy Balls

We've all seen the typical I Spy bags - here are a few that I have made. They're fun for the kids (and adults too!) and super easy to make. I love these because they're made from fleece - everything is better made from fleece. Finding the items to be "spied" inside the bags is probably my favorite part. And here's my newest twist on the I Spy theme - Holiday I Spy Balls. You can find these large plastic ornaments at any craft store (these came from Joann's). Find a few holiday themed items to put inside - don't add too many. Top it off with some Poly Pellets (again not too many . . . in fact, less than you would think). Hot glue the ornament halves together (probably the hardest part - you definitely need four hands for this step). Add some ribbons and a tag - and you have a holiday themed I Spy Ball. Here's one for Halloween.
And here's a Christmas ball. A fun twist to the I Spy idea. My boys love them!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Halloween Garland & Memory Game

A few years back I made some garlands for every season. This is my Halloween garland. Very easy and relatively quick . . . a few strands of jute/twine (is there a difference?), a couple of raffia bows on the ends, strips of properly colored fabric and then just hang some fun seasonal things from it. A handmade witch (of course) . . .. . . and some pumpkins and bats. And there you have a Halloween garland.
A few days ago I came across this great Halloween Memory Game over at Oopsey Daisy - on a guest post by Lil Mop Top. She has these free printables which I promptly downloaded and immediately then sent off to Costco's photo center. A few hours later I picked up my 5x7 pictures (remind me NEVER to go to Costco on a Saturday evening right at closing time . . . and why in the world does Costco close early on Saturdays? I'll never understand that one!) Anyway . . . some black card stock and a few minutes with my paper cutter and my boys have the cutest little Halloween Memory Game. They loved playing it today - and I love people who are willing to share their great ideas!

By the way . . . I whipped out another 5 (yes, five) Feelin Witchy Dish Towels this weekend. L O V E them!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some of my Favorite Halloween Decorations

I've never been big on dressing up for Halloween. But I do love to decorate my house for Halloween! Here are a few favorite decorations that I have made through the years.
Bea Witch
She is a pattern from Art to Heart. I love Nancy's patterns and fabric and I have made countless things from her lines over the years. The details she works in are wonderful. This witch is definitely a favorite of mine - I can't wait to see her hanging on my front closet door every October!Witches are a favorite theme of mine . . . . my only real costume is a witch costume. I can't recall the pattern I used for this little gem, but she was fun to make. She has a hairy wart on her nose. Her "socks" are painted on, her hat is perfectly crooked, and that flaming red hair was not as hard as you might think. She sits across the room from Bea every year.
Haunted Houses are another of my favorite themes. These two are ceramics that I painted many years ago. I put red or orange lights inside them and love to sit in a dark room and watch them blink to life. This one is son #1's favorite.This haunted house is my favorite. I love the eyes peeking out everywhere and the spider's web above the front porch.
I have a few new decorations that are waiting to be made for this year. I'd better get to work!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Witchy Dishtowels

I only have four words to say . . . .
HOW CUTE ARE THESE ? ! ? ! ? ! ? !
I saw these "Feelin' Witchy Dishtowels" a few weeks ago over at Someday Crafts on a guest blog by Flamingo Toes. I couldn't stand it! I had to make some. (Really, who can make just one? It's like potato chips . . . you can't just stop at one.)
And isn't this hot pink Halloween fabric the ultimate? It is exactly what Flamingo Toes used in her tutorial and I just had to find it. A little click of the computer keys and I found an Etsy shop selling it (Eerie Alley by Caleb Gray in the SpiceBerryCottage shop). Oh how I love it!
Then I was roaming the isles at Joann's the other day and saw the pom-pom fringe - had to have it. They have it in a couple of colors.
My boys picked the orange one with the spider fringe for our house - I get outvoted on the cute pink stuff in a house full of testosterone! Hum . . . . whose houses will soon be decorated with the rest of them? I just can't stop making them. We have ideas for other holidays . . . more to come, I'm sure.