Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bag It Up

Don't throw away that plastic Halloween candy bucket this year.
Even if you only paid a buck for it, here is a clever way to use it all year long.

Put it under your kitchen sink or in your pantry to hold grocery bags.
I think I've counted before and I'm pretty sure you can fit at least 50 bags in there.

You'll have to eat all the candy first, of course. ☺

Monday, October 27, 2008

Orange Chocolate Torte
1 devil's food cake mix
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
Beat cake mix, juice, oil and eggs for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 lightly greased round cakes pans (I always use disposable). Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Immediately put cakes in refrigerator after removing from oven. Chill 1 hour.

Fluffy Orange Frosting
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sour cream
8-ounces cool whip
chocolate sprinkles or mini-chocolate chips
Combine pudding and juice with whisk. Fold in sour cream and cool whip. Frost top of one layer, place second layer on top, frost and garnish with sprinkles. Keep refrigerated.
(Frosting may also be used as a fruit dip.)

Thanks Bridget!

Friday, October 24, 2008

To make this Candy Pot that Bridget made for a previous Halloween:

orange paint, gold paint, yellow paint
foam brush
clay pot (any size)
black sharpies (one .5 point & one regular)

Paint pot orange, let dry. Paint yellow stripes (I did 5) around pot. Paint gold stripes slightly on top of yellow ones. With thin sharpie make squiggly lines down left side of stripes.

Draw on face and color in with regular sharpie. Use thin sharpie to make stitch lines around eyes, nose, mouth. Make a raffia bow and hot glue on side. Fill with candy :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rocky Road Cookie Sandwiches (a la Rachael Ray)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds
10 tablespoons marshmallow cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking liners. Using a mixer, cream the butter, and brown sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg. Mix in the salt, baking powder, and baking soda at low speed, then mix in the vanilla and flour. Stir in the chocolate chips and almonds. Drop 10 rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake the cookies until golden at the edges and slightly soft in the center, about 12 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheets to racks to cool completely. Sandwich the cookies with 2 Tablespoons of marshmallow each.
Next time we're going to put softened ice cream inside. ☺
They were very yummy, but almost too chocolatey, so I would reduce the chocolate chips for my taste.


Saturday, October 18, 2008


I had this plan to go hunting in the woods for the perfect branches to make a few Halloween trees. Well, I ended up only having to look as far as down the street and around the corner.
This beauty was sitting at the end of someone's driveway, waiting for the garbage man. I just so happened to be driving the truck that day, so it was all meant to be.

9 cans of black spray paint later.

And here it is all decked out with orange lights, which I decided not to use after all my hard work. It looks better with the spotlight behind it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

This outdoor Halloween decor was featured on Martha's website a few years ago. Marilyn tried it first, then Jill and so I had to do it too. The plans are here.

Here's how it looks in the daytime to give you a better idea.

The sunlight captures the wood-grain but they look really cool at night. My neighbor said when he goes for a walk at night, his dog thinks the cats are real. ☺

The plans are really easy to follow. The only change I would make is to use black spray paint instead of brush painting. It's much faster and way less messy.
I got my lantern at Big Lots for $6 and the broom at Walmart for $2.50 (it was brown, I painted it black).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

try this Magnetic Board project.

Get your hands on a painters canvas. I got 24x16 one at Big Lots for $7 awhile ago but you know Big Lots. They never have the same thing twice so they're gone now. But Michaels always has them and so does Walmart I hear.

Paint the canvas. I used acrylic and watercolors and finger-painted my design. If I had spray paint in the right color, I probably would have used that.
Let the paint dry.

Turn the canvas over and pull out the staples on one end with a flat-head screwdriver.

Take out as many staples as you need to slide in the piece of sheet metal you have purchased from Lowes or Home Depot and cut to size. (Wear gloves, the edges are sharp!)

Staple the canvas back in place. If you don't have a staple gun, you can hot glue it I'm sure.

Hang it up and you're done.
(Strong magnets work better than the cheap-o kind.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanks to a cute friend named Brooke for this moist and delish brownie recipe. Brooke, you had me at Double Decker. :)

Double Decker Confetti Brownies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup mini baking M&M's
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking pan; set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In medium bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder and salt; blend into creamed mixture. Divide batter in half. Blend together cocoa and melted butter. Stir into one half of the dough. Spread cocoa dough evenly into prepared baking pan. Stir remaining 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup M&M's into remaining dough. Spread evenly over cocoa dough in pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup M&M's. Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges start to pull away from pan. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

That's How We Roll

You might have seen those crayon rolls or pencil rolls all over the place lately. My 9-year-old daughter and I came up with a very simple version that only took about 30 minutes to make, including taking way too much time trying to choose the ribbon to go with it. She made it for her little sister for Christmas.

We used a piece of scrap ribbon we already had, a cloth napkin we already had and colored pencils, of course.

Fold the napkin up about halfway and stitch up the sides. To save a step, insert the ribbon (folded in half to make 2 lengths) in one side before you sew it.

To make each pencil 'pocket', we sewed straight lines every 1 1/2 inches. But we ended up going back and sewing another line in between those and the pencils fit perfectly.

Put your pencils in their new home, roll it up and tie it with the ribbon.
Ta Da!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hello Cupcake!

Okay, I stole that title, just like I'm gonna steal this idea from Bridget.

Whenever she takes homemade birthday cupcakes to her kids' classes at school, she tops them with an easy, cheap, homemade decoration.

Take two identical stickers and stick them together back to back with a toothpick sandwiched between them. Stick it on top of your frosted cupcake and repeat 22 times...or however many you need (I need 22 on Friday). ☺

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chocolate Pound Cake

This recipe comes from Becky, who says it comes from her mom. Becky is a spunky mom, actively involved with her brood of 5. Her oldest daughter, Abbie, is married and recently made Becky a GRANDMA!! That's right, she's a granny, but she certainly doesn't look or act the part. She is an avid exerciser and tennis player, an inspiration to us all.
I was still a little girl when she started having kids so I can remember some of the creative things she has done with her little ones. Those ideas will come in handy as a Grandma ☺ and I'm sure she'll be giving us examples of all that creativity soon (that's a hint, Becky).
Meanwhile, enjoy her delicious cake!

Chocolate Pound Cake
1/2 lb butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and shortening. Add sugar and cream again. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Sift dry ingredients and add to butter mixture, alternating with milk. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour into well greased tube pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 25 minutes (watch). I LOVE THIS POUND CAKE!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Falling For You

Hooray for FALL!!
Here is a cute little fall activity to do with some cute little people.

Grab some sponges, Liquid Tempera Paint in fall colors, a Sharpie and some scissors.

Whenever Amy and I have done these in the past, we used those Miracle Sponges or Magic sponges that are dry and flat like paper so you can draw or trace on them and cut out your shapes easily and then you just get them wet and they expand into a regular sponge. I went looking for them recently and they were about $15 for 2 sheets at Michaels and I didn't have a coupon with me. Being the cheapskate I am sometimes, I just opted for regular sponges from Walmart and they worked out just fine.

Draw and cut out your leaf shapes.

We also did a pumpkin shape as well as a stem and a tiny leaf.

Squirt some paint on a styrofoam plate. We used red, orange, brown and a little green. Now turn those little people loose and watch them work.

It can get a little messy.

But it's worth it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A New Coat

I got these two magazine holder things at Target.

On clearance, of course.

But I didn't like the silver, so I gave them a new coat.