Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jack O'Lantern last-minute-Halloween-headband! Pics & tutorial.

Still need something Halloweeny to wear later this week? Or just want something fun? Try making an easy jack o'lantern headband. I whipped one up this weekend to wear to a Halloween event we were taking our preschooler to and am really happy with how it turned out. Here's how you can make one too:
I hate taking pictures of myself...but I love my new headband!

What you need:

  • Two scraps of fabric 2" by 14" (at least one needs to be orange)
  • Black embroidery floss
  • Needle n' thread
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Black grosgrain ribbon cut into two pieces-I recommend at least 18 inches of grosgrain so you have plenty to tie with! (measure your head to be sure how much you'll need and add several inches to accomodate tying a bow.

My embroidered jack o'lantern headband!!
What you do:
  • Cut the strips of fabric so that they taper slightly and are identical to each other (my headbands are 1/2" wide at the narrowest point) at the ends (or use this wonderful headband tutorial to get a basic headband template-it is quite a bit wider than my headband though, and I still recommend just using the main portion of it, and using ribbon for the rest of it!). It doesn't matter much if the ends are rounded or squared off, as long as you like the way it looks!
  • Embroider a jack o'lantern face right in the middle of the orange strip, or sew on pieces of black felt to make an applique pumpkin face! I drew mine on first with a water soluble pen (use an orange Crayola washable marker if you don't have a water soluble pen!). You can make it up yourself, or find a cute one you like online-I love these jack o'lantern shirt stencils from Craft Buds and think it'd be easy to adapt them to this project!
  • Place the ends of each strip of grosgrain in between the edges of the headband
  • Sew the two strips together-I used a zigzag stitch with black thread on my sewing machine 1/8" from the edge of the headband. I recommend using a decorative stitch since it will show!
  • Cut any excessive fraying off (a little bit of fray is cute!), tie on to your head, and feel cute!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Artisan Soda: Cookbook Review

What it is:
Artisan Soda Cookbook is exactly what it sounds like: page after page of easy recipes to make your own syrups for soda!

Who wrote it:
Food writer Andrea Lynn, a pro with a culinary degree and a background writing for a variety of foodie publications. She blogs on her website here.

What I loved:
This book is chock-full of easily customizable soda syrup recipes ranging from classic cola to more exotic fare like basil. It's pretty comprehensive-the only type of soda I can even think of that wasn't in the book was a Dr. Pepper knock-off. And it had a bazillion types of soda I'd never even thought of! I was especially thrilled that it had a recipe for chocolate soda. Chocolate soda is my dad's favorite, but has become increasingly difficult to find at restaurants, even ones with soda fountains. I love that we can now make it at home for him anytime!

What I'd change:
I wish more of the cooking terms were defined. My first attempt was cherry limeade, and I wasn't quite sure what "muddle" meant. And I'm afraid that resulted in me muddling the recipe instead of the cherries...

The Bottom Line:
A worthy read for anyone interested in making their own soda!

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but received no other compensation for this post.

Halloween Must-Have: Kidz Bop Halloween!!

I thought I was not a huge fan of KidzBop CD's in general, but decided to take one for the team and review their Halloween CD, Kidz Bop: Halloween Hits because I knew my son would like it. But then to my surprise, my monster from his slab began to rise I actually liked it too!

What it is:
14 upbeat Halloween themed songs sung by kids plus a spooky background noises track including:
  • Thriller
  • Disturbia
  • Candy Girl
  • Witch Doctor
  • Ghostbusters
  • Werewolves of London
  • The Addams Family
  • Monster Mash
  • Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
  • A Nightmare on My Street
  • Somebody's Watching Me
  • Purple People Eater
  • Ding Dong the Witch is Dead
  • I Want Candy

Who makes it:
Kidz Bop, maker of kids' versions of hot pop songs. You can follow them on Twitter as @KidzBop

What I loved:
I loved that they included classic Halloween songs that are great to sing along with, like "Witch Doctor"and "Purple People Eater". And I appreciated that they didn't go the easy/ route with just magic themed songs.

What my kid loved:
My son loves the whole CD and really loved having his own CD to request we play every single time we drove anywhere, but his favorite was the TV theme songs like Ghostbusters and Scooby Doo!

What I'd change:
A few of the songs weren't ones I would've chosen, especially "Candy Girl". It's not one that I am very familiar with, so it didn't bring back fun Halloween memories like most of the others.

The bottom line: Definitely worth buying and/or downloading for Halloween parties and to play while handing out candy to trick-or-treaters! (If you are planning to purchase just a few songs from iTunes, my absolute favorite was Monster Mash, so be sure to include that one...but you get more songs for the same price if you just download the entire CD rather than downloading half...)

Get it: You can buy KidzBop Halloween Hits online directly from KidzBop, on iTunes, or in many local retailers!

Thank you to KidzBop for sending a free copy of Kidz Bop: Halloween Hits for review purposes!  I received no other compensation for this post.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cheesy Spider Dogs: Halloween Recipe!

My son wanted hotdogs and macaroni & cheese for lunch the other day, so I decided to try my own spin on something I saw on Pinterest recently. The basic concept I saw online was to put spaghetti noodles through hotdogs and then cook them. To make a Halloweeny fun treat, I cut the hot dogs into fairly small pieces and put exactly 4 spaghetti noodles through each so each "spider" would have 8 legs! Wanna make cheesy spider dogs for your own family? Here's how I did it:

What you need:
  • hot dogs! I used 1 nitrate/nitrite free all-beef hotdog per person
  • noodles-I used 4 per spider piece, about 16-24 per hotdog, plus added extra to fill the pot to the place I usually fill it to for 2 people's worth of macaroni!
  • cheese-I used about a cup of cheddar and 1/4 cup colby jack for 2 people
  • milk-1 used 1/4 cup for 2 people
What you do:
  • First, cut the hotdogs into 4-6 little chunks to be your spider bodies.
  • Poke 4 spaghetti noodles through each hot dog portion to make 8 legs on each spider
  • Boil noodles and spaghetti until spaghetti is cooked
  • Turn heat down to low and add milk and cheese
  • Stir until sauce is creamy and all cheese is melted
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, serve, and enjoy!!
My tips:
  • To make this almost lactose-free, I use lactose-free whole milk and cheddar cheese (hard cheese have almost no lactose-hurray!). I do add a tiny bit of colby jack because it improves the texture so much, but you could leave it out!
  • If your noodles break when pushing them into the hot dog, try using a broken piece to poke the holes and then put whole noodles through the holes you've made.
  • Consider serving these on a fun Halloweeny plate to add seasonal flair!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cure for the Mondays Oct 25th, 2012

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen lately that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays".

I think these turkeys made of construction paper and fall leaves are totally adorable:

This pumpkin creme brulee looks so scrumptious I wish I'd bought myself a kitchen blowtorch too the year I got one for my little brother...

How adorable are these pom pom bookmarks from Design Mom???

And I think this burlap table runner is a great way to get all the rustic fun of burlap, but with a little bit more polish...

What ideas have inspired you lately?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tell Tale Fairy Tales: My New Favorite Kids' Game!

Have you heard of the "Tell Tale" games from BlueOrange Games? They were kind enough to send us a free tin of "Tell Tale: Fairy Tales" and my husband and preschooler and I all love it (Hubby said it was "like the perfect kids game!")

What it is:
Tell Tale: Fairy Tales comes in a cute tin and consists of 60 double-sided cards with pictures of people, places, and things on them straight out of your a classic fairy tale! There are a many different ways to play, but our favorite is to have each person in the family draw 6-8 cards out of the pile, then everyone makes up a story using all of their cards, then we take turns telling the rest of the family our story!

Who makes it:
Blue Orange Games, a company focused on creating high quality games from eco-friendly materials (and they plant two trees for every tree they use to produce their games!) You can follow them on Facebook, or on Twitter as @BlueOrangeGames

Pros:
  • Teaches sequencing
  • Encourages creativity
  • Great for all ages
  • Great for both genders
  • Colorful illustrations
  • No batteries

Cons:
  • Characters depicted were not very ethnically diverse

The Bottom Line:
This is my new favorite game for kids-our 3 year-old has as much fun making up silly stories about daring rescues and magical beasts as my husband and I! Playing it makes me want to also buy the original version to have 60 more cards to play with, and to buy it for my niece when she is old enough! I highly recommend it for kids of all ages, but especially for families that include preschoolers and early elementary school kids.

Get it:
You can buy Tell Tale: Fairy Tale directly from BlueOrange Games, online from one of their partner sites, or in specialty toy stores (click here to search for stores near you)!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Au Naturel

A wonderful woman I know passed away earlier this year from breast cancer; I've recently been lighting a candle she gave me last fall and thinking of her. In her honor and because it is "Breast Cancer Awareness Month", instead of a breast cancer awareness post full of pinkwashing*, I wanted to briefly mention three ways you can reduce your risk of breast cancer that aren't often discussed. If you can't or don't want to try to do one or more of theses things, you can still help reduce breast cancer risk in your friends and relatives by supporting them if they do choose to do these things. After a short blurb about each idea, I'll post a few links discussing breast cancer and the activity in question. Some of these are controversial, but the evidence has convinced me. I'll let you read for yourself though!

Pink Ribbon Chocolates by Wish Upon a Cupcake via Flickr Creative Commons
Avoid Parabens
Parabens are chemicals that are used in an alarming number of skin products. Many commonly-used toiletries contain them, and they've been found in almost all tissue samples taken from cancerous breasts. Check the lotions, sunscreen, and makeup you use and try to use paraben free ones whenever possible, and buy paraben-free toiletries for friends and relatives if you are buying lotion etc as Christmas presents. Also, consider switching to a paraben-free deodorant or deodorant alternative (like rock crystals).

Huffington Post
USA Today

Breastfeed
There is a large body of research showing that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, and that in general, the longer you breastfeed, the more you reduce your risk! If you are a woman planning to have children/more children, try to breastfeed if you can, even if you need to supplement also, and support friends and relatives who breastfeed and in particular those who practice "extended nursing"-nursing beyond the norm for our society and mothers who nurse in public. Many mamas face a great deal of criticism for breastfeeding practices that are healthy for the baby and reduce their breast cancer risk but make others feel uncomfortable because they are not used to it.You can help these women feel supported in their right to choose when and where and for how long to nurse with a simple smile or supportive word!

National Institute of Health
WebMD

Avoid  Hormonal Contraceptives
"The Pill" is considered by most reputable health organizations to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Natural Family Planning/fertility awareness methods and barrier methods are all alternatives that avoid the risk of carcinogens, along with the other health risks of hormonal contraceptives! (Many people who are not opposed to contraception for religious reasons use a combination of both fertility awareness and barrier methods.) Research NFP/FAM online or with the help of library books, and/or be encouraging to your friends and relatives who are interested in or already practice these methods.
Dance of Love by KJunstorm via Flickr Creative Commons

Cancer.gov
World Health Organization (see page 5)

*"Pinkwashing" refers to the pink merchandise you are probably noticing in stores across the country right now, including products that promote unhealthy lifestyles that would ultimately increase your lifetime cancer risk, and of which only a very small portion of the proceeds go to "cancer research and awareness." Check out Think Before You Pink for more information on pinkwashing.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cure for the Mondays-October 15th, 2012

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen recently that make me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "Case of the Mondays"!

I made these apple pie bites the other day and they are delicious and easy! I especially love that they are essentially finger food-fun anytime, but especially perfect for parties and kids!


I think these would be great to keep on hand, and would be fun gifts at Christmas too: lotion bars!

These Star Wars pillows make me giggle:

And I am dying to try planting my own garlic, thanks to reading this:




 

Hurray! Blogger doesn't hate me anymore!!

For some reason I've been locked out of my blog for the past several weeks-I could login, but not post anything! So I'm happy to report that they seem to have fixed the bug and I can blog again. Hurray!!