Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween

A few images of KeepHerKitty's decor.

Throwback Thursday: KeepHer's First Pumpkin

KHK: October 2007

At just over a year old in October 2007 KeepHerKitty was still infinitely curious about everything. Sadly, that interest has waned in favor of longer naps and the pursuit of feline human manipulation. (Yes, I'm her servant girl! And she is an Oscar winning manipulator. Cat people will understand this.)

Here she inspects her very first Halloween Pumpkin, to her it must have seemed to be just a big round catbird seat. Seven years later her calico markings are as sharp as ever and her white fur sparkles.

Tomorrow we shall decorate her 2014 Halloween pumpkin! 
This is the gourd in waiting.

  Last year we glittered her mini-pumpkin.
She was disappointed it was too small to be used for a roost.
 I'm going to suggest to her  we decorate with clever Silhouette cuts adhered with school glue for this year's original object d'art.
I'm concerned she may not let me get away with something simple.
Watch for the update tomorrow!

Happy Halloween-Eve Everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Paper Crafting: Halloween Luminary

This is a sweet little Halloween  Luminary I made using the Silhouette Cameo electronic cutting machine. The cut file is Design  ID #49781 by talented designer Samantha Walker

For the frame I used Color Core Cardstock from the Signature Series. The lantern is lined with Silhouette brand vellum. I embellished each pumpkin on the four side panels with glitter. Using beaded ribbon from my stash I added trim to frame the panels.

ColorCore Cardstock on Amazon
The  clever cut file includes a bottom on which a flameless tea light may be set to illuminate this magical lantern from within. Do not use a flame candle in this decoration and risk sending you spooky celebration up in smoke. 

The Luminary measures approximately 5.5-inches tall and 2.75-inches square. The top closes with a drawstring, I used chenille thread in dark purple for contrast. It took just over an hour to create and cost about $1.95 in materials.

For more fun-not-scary  Halloween ideas follow out my Pinterest Board: Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Whatever Goes: Lasagna and Pumpkins Oh My!!!

Are you looking for something crafty to do, but just don't know what you are looking for? Oh yes, happens to anyone with the itch to craft. I've found a great inspiring resource over at Someday Crafts. It's a weekly Linky party called, "Whatever Goes Wednesday." Bloggers from around the world drop by and share their latest accomplishment - it can be anything! That's why Someday Crafts calls it "Whatever Goes"!

Here are a just a few of the hundreds (and I do mean HUNDREDS) of links shared this week that caught my eye:

Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts: October 22 2014

From the girls at Home. Made. Interest. this recipe for kid-friendly Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups looks irresistible. I may not have anti-spinach kids, but husband is a definite no-show at the spinach bowl. I think I can get this one by him, though!  Check it out at Home. Made. Interest.

Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups

The next few Whatever Goes linkys that caught my eye feature seasonal pumpkins decorated and adorned unconventional non-Jack O'Lantern ways. Check these out:

Paw Prints, Absolutely!!!
Check this out from Not a trophy wife.
Puppy Paw Prints across Our Hearts and Pumpkins!

Hi Everyone- We are in puppy heaven and I just had to add a little bit of our Bernese Mountain puppy bundle of fur  into our décor. I found an old paw print stencil and added a  few paw prints.
Get the full tutorial here


Witchy Pumpkin:

Continuing our unconventional pumpkin decorating for Halloween take a look at what Pam has done at Pams Party and Practical Tips:

"I then pulled out a paper mache witch hat that I recently bought at the craft store and painted it black.  I used some of the leftover ribbon from my wreath and strips of tulle to decorate it.I thought the witch hat would be a fun way to decorate a pumpkin if we do not end up carving all of them."


Starry Pumpkin

And Lastly, I love love LOVE the Starry Pumpkin from Rachel at Architecture of a Mom:

Starry Pumpkin
"Are you still looking for simple Halloween decor? Try this star decorated pumpkin in your home-you can even have the kids help out!"

Link Here for the Details

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Sweet Gentle LadyBo

My first grown-up doggie was a purebred Samoyed named Lady Bojangles of Camelot.

"A hardy and eager worker, the Samoyed is known for black lips that curl slightly at the corners into the "Samoyed smile." Bright and alert, he likes to stay busy and enjoys participating in agility, herding, weight pulling, sledding, pack hiking, conformation shows and more! His heavy, weather resistant coat is suitable for very cold climates and should be pure white, white and biscuit, cream or biscuit."  American Kennel Club

Oh how I loved this special creature, and she was equally loyal to me. Don't you just love her "Samoyed Smile"? She and I, we went through some tough times and more than once she was sent away to my parents or to friends as I worked myself out of a most difficult marriage.

I'm sure this gypsy-life took a toll on my girl as her life was shorter than it should have been. But I'm pleased to say she spent her last years in the loving care of me and my forever husband Jim.

Diabetes (see note) took her eyesight, but not her heart. In the last year of her life she made her way about following bells carried by myself, Jim, or her best buddy Howard, the Old English Sheepdog. She never cried or whined a sniff. How brave she was.
In this image she was about 18 months old and dressed as a good witch for Halloween. That's me with her, so young and dumb, and so grateful to have her by my side. She's been gone for a very long time now, yet I miss her still.

A white lilac blooms on her grave each spring to remind me of her pure heart, loyalty, and true love. I'm thinking of you sweet gentle LadyBo on this very poignant Throwback Thursday.

Note: "Diabetes mellitus similar but not identical to human Type I (insulin deficiency): The disease occurs in middle-aged Samoyeds, the mean age at diagnosis is seven years. The cause is a chronic inflammation of the pancreas and / or autoimmune destruction of beta cells of islets of Langerhans. Moreover, in affected dogs autoantibodies were found to insulin. Currently, several genetic markers are discussed as possible causes." Wikipedia: Samoyed

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween Craft: Dodecahedrons

I am so into the paper crafted dodecahedron. What's that you say? According to Wiki:
"In geometry, a dodecahedron is any polyhedron with twelve flat faces, but usually a regular dodecahedron is meant, which is one of the five Platonic solids. It is composed of 12 regular pentagonal faces, with three meeting at each vertex, and is represented by the Schläfli symbol."  Wikipedia: Dodecahedron
 Got that?


I had to cut-n-paste that definition and couldn't repeat it to save my life. Saying the word, dodecahedron, makes me giggle! It's just one crazy absurd word. Dodecahedron.

Math and geometry are, as they say, All Greek to Me!  I have a good friend, Lori D., who would be all over the math and geometry of the dodecahedron! She recently wrote, "I love finding new ways to talk about math." You guessed right, she is a math professor and pregnant times two (twins, don't ya know!) I'll leave the science of the shape to Lori and express my delight that Silhouette Online Store Design ID #21647 is the cut file to simply craft a dodecahedron from a single piece of paper. Genius! Thank you Samantha Walker for your design.

I used this design to make Halloween toys for the KeepHerKitty. One is orange, the other is purple. I used the polygon shape to cut pentagons from two-sided Halloween themed paper. Once the dodecahedron's were assembled with double sided tape I then affixed the polygon shapes in random order, one print to each of the twelve sides.

One dodecahedron holds a muslin sack of fresh catnip, the other holds one dozen loose jingle bells. I was certain this would amuse and captivate the KeepHerKitty. Well, not so much. The only time thus far that she has paid attention to her objects d'art was Sunday morning when I attempted to stage the photo shoot while the sunlight was just right.

For now I've placed the Halloween dodecahedrons on the open shelves of the dining room hutch. A wicked crow has taken to roosting upon one of these bewitching geometric shapes.

So this is a sneak peak at my Halloween decor of 2014. Stay tuned for the great Halloween reveal later this week! KeepHer is anxious to show you all about her tricked-out abode!  In the meantime, get out your Silhouette or other cutting tool and whip up a good ol'fashioned Halloween Dodecahedron! Dazzle all your geometric-phobic friends with your mathematical genius! I won't tell your secret if you don't tell mine!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baking: Pumpkin Choco Cake Cookies

Better than the bakery!

I do not bake sweets very often, not since I had weight loss surgery in 1999 and  learned the fundamental facts of weight management  require a conservative intake of sweets. It seems cruel irony that I am actually a gifted baker, a baker who happens to have a metabolic disorder that leads to weight gain when I don't carefully manage my dietary intake. Sigh.

But now and again I get out the big pottery bowl and wooden stir spoons to make a special treat for the folks at my table. My husband is smitten with the ever-so-popular bakery pumpkin cake cookies. In our area a box of eight cookies goes for $5.99 or .75 cents a cookie. That adds up if you have many cookie monsters dipping into the cookie jar!

After exhaustive, and truly tantilizing research on the World Wide Web, followed by some trial and error, I've managed to duplicate those tasty bakery treats for a fraction of the cost. In addition, I've lowered the fat and downsized the cookie to a more health-appropriate portion. Economically these better-than-the-bakery treats cost just .30/per cookie! What's not to love?

Here's the recipe for my Pumpkin-Choco Cake Cookies! Take it, modify it, make it your own and enjoy a nice soft cookie with some piping hot coffee! Makes 3 dozen cookies.

1 (15.25-ounce) yellow cake mix
1 (15.25-ounce) spice cake mix
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup butter, softened (or light cooking oil such as canola oil)
1 (29-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 package semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in middle position.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the yellow and spice cake mixes (dry) and the pumpkin pie spice. Set aside. In a smaller bowl melt butter, add pumpkin puree and eggs, whisk until blended. Add pumpkin mixture to dry mixture and stir gently until well blended. Do not over-mix. Add semi-sweet chocolate morsels, adjusting amount to taste. (I use 1/2 package). The consistency of the cookie mix will be somewhere between batter and cookie dough, more like muffin batter.

On a parchment lined baking sheet drop cookie dough-batter by the tablespoon 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 12 to 14 minutes removing when cookies are baked, before bottom is overly browned. Allow to rest on tray 1-2 minutes, then remove cookies to a wire baking rack to cool. If you like place a small dollop of ready-to-use vanilla icing on each cookie and spread thinly as it melts. Serve warm. I'm not sure how long these cookies stay fresh in the cookie jar, at our house they are never around long enough for them to turn stale!  

Cake cookies are a good choice for occasional bakers who don't keep a well-stocked baking pantry (ingredients like flour, sugar, leavening agents, etc.) I'd love to hear how you use mixes as an ingredient to your homemade treats! This recipe could be adapted, quite successfully, to use applesauce in place of the pumpkin puree. I just may have to try it with a jar of my Slow Cooker Caramel Applesauce.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Today Inspired: Reflections of Gratitude

The orchard in autumn. I have a pair of these vintage wine jugs, one sitting on each post of the orchard gate, reflecting the changing seasons.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Halloween 2013

 KeepHerKitty is a big fan of Halloween as long as it doesn't get too darn scary. If you have a cat you know that cats see things -- things us two-leggers cannot see -- scary things. Things so frightening a cat will scamper from a room with fear in their eyes and a kink in their tail, all at once, with nary a warning to those who cannot see.

So at our house we keep the witches, and the skeletons, and the zombies away in favor of a softer, friendlier Halloween. Here KeepHer poses with some of last year's table decor: glittered pumpkins, sparkling leafs, polished apples. Her little trick-or-treat bucket is at the ready to receive treats. Oh she does love her treats! I featured the stitching on the little bucket a few weeks ago on Throwback Thursday.

 Below is a collage of the 2013 Halloween Decor, as you can see soft and friendly. Even the little ghosts are smiling.

This little gobblin is one of the cutest things ever! I found the idea on Make it Fun with Floracraft website: Ghostly Centerpiece. I dolled this little spook up with a purple mesh hat adorned with ribbon, tiny roses, and a black feather just for fun.  KeepHer took great joy in batting about the little ball of fluff, I think she thought it her very own gobblin friend!

Some of these decorations will come out again this year: I plan to decorate for Halloween this weekend with some things new and some things old and no things scary. Until then, Happy Throwback Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Puttin' Up Apples: Sauce & Tart Filling

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Last month I shared an outstanding recipe and method for homemade applesauce: Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Sauce. This image is the completed sauce after preserving by canning in a boiling water bath, following current canning guidelines as described in Ball Blue Book of Canning. I used 12-ounce jars for the applesauce. One jar added to a spice cake mix makes terrific applesauce cookies! No other ingredients needed, just drop the thick batter on a parchment lined sheet and bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes until done. Delicious!

Apple Tart Filling

Using the same honey crisp apples I made Apple Tart Filling (top left) and bottled it in pint jars. The apple tart filling is an easy recipe:

8 cups peeled diced apple tossed with a small amount of lemon juice
3 cups sugar (granulated, brown, or combo of the two)
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and cloves

Simmer all ingredients over medium heat until apples are just tender. Process in boiling water bath. Label and enjoy. This recipe leaves lots of room for personal taste. You can add more or less sugar, more or less spice to suit your taste.

Hint: When working with apples for canning it is important to acidulate them to prevent browning from oxidation. Toss cut and diced apple with lemon juice or a fruit preservative to maintain the appetizing fleshy colored fruit.

One way my family enjoys the Apple Tart Filling is for breakfast. Take one tube of refrigerator crescent rolls, separate each roll, add a dollop of apple filling to each roll, fold the corners over like a little praying angel, bake according to directions on rolls. Make a thin glaze with some of the juice off the tart filling and little bit of powdered sugar, drizzle over hot tarts. Serve warm with coffee, hot cider or hot cocoa. Yummy. Nicely packaged portion controlled treats the whole family will enjoy. I'm looking forward to enjoying these apple preserves all winter long!

I made the tags from craft paper and cardstock using cut files from the Silhouette Online Store. The are tied to the jars with raffia, a homespun touch if I do say so! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Decor: Wall Wreath & Centerpiece

Confession: I'm not the most thrifty crafter and generally I buy new materials for each new project. I don't know if it is a lack of vision for repurposing or a fear of loss that comes from disassembling something old to make something new. But I wish to become more resourceful in my crafting, using what I have in newly imagined ways. That thinking is not only on trend, it is economical of wallet and resources.

So I was particularly proud of myself in making these two autumnal arrangements using last year's decorating materials in a new way.

The centerpiece is made of leaf stems pulled from a grapevine wreath and faux grapes from a bowl arrangement that no longer suited my taste. I added the raffia, bell pods, faux fruit, and yellow meadow larks from my new supplies this year. The tin tray is left-over from summer. It was a bubble gum pink, quite unsuitable to fall colors. I used Rust-Oleum Hammered spray paint in copper to give it a new look. The burlap liners are from an authentic coffee bean bag that I used for a western theme party several years ago. I like the fringed edges that lend rustic appeal to the arrangement.

This wall wreath is a take on the popular empty frame embellished for the season. Using the same Rust-Oleum spray paint I colored the frame copper. Then I affixed faux silk leaves to strands of raffia, tied together and fastened to the top of the frame. I added the burlap bow secured with floral wire and a short strand of the felt bunting I've used throughout my fall decorations. This hangs on the wall opposite the dining table so to compliment the centerpiece. 

This repurposing: It may become my new great thing! What do you think?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Today Inspired: Autumn Rose

I love photo shooting flowers close-up. This peach rose kissed with crimson is part of a Sam's Club floral bouquet I purchased a few days ago. Like the autumn sunset, the petals curl open exposing a warm invitation to come in and enjoy the splendor of the changing season.

Specs: Shot with Canon EOS Rebel, f/5; 1/500sec; ISO-160; Focal Length 46mm; no flash. Image subject placed to the east of late afternoon sun setting at 45 degrees to the west.

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