Horrid Halloween and Our Pineapple O’Lantern

I have a confession. I don’t like Halloween. It’s one of those holidays I could really live without. I have never, ever liked scary movies and don’t even think of hiding around a corner and jumping out to give me a fright – you might very well get slugged in the gut. I’m not a violent person – but when I get scared, I am ready for battle. Just a friendly warning – not that I would ever mean to hurt anyone. Just walking down the Halloween aisle at our local Walmart is enough to give me the heebie jeebies! And there is nothing so horrid as walking around a corner aisle and seeing your precious son with a bloody saw up to his neck, saying “look Mom”. Another reason I can’t wait for Halloween to be OVER is that on November 1st I pull out the Christmas tunes and step it up into high gear for the festive season! My favorite time of year!

Don’t get me wrong – even though I hate the scary stuff, I don’t begrudge my son from having fun. We have fun decorating (with cute stuff) and handing out candy and trick or treating. We always have several pumpkins to design and carve. This year we added a pineapple o’lantern. It was so fun to carve and “Piney’s” insides were very tasty! I expected it to be difficult to carve but it was way easier than a pumpkin – mind you don’t get the yummy roasted seeds from a pineapple but you do get to eat all the insides and that’s definitely a plus! So if you are looking for something different this year – try a pineapple! We just whacked off the top, scooped out the insides and carved the face. Really fun and really cute and it makes the house smell great too!

Happy and Safe Halloween!

Piney
Our Pineapple O’ Lantern
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Falling Leaves Craft

Autumn has finally arrived here – for a while it seemed like summer would last forever. I adore Autumn – it is most definitely my favourite season: the crisp air, the beautiful, changing scenery and swirling leaves. It’s also a time that I get in gear and do more crafts to celebrate the season.

The other day, my son and I made our own Autumn leaves that we proudly hung over the kitchen window.

These are so easy to do and the best part is that you can change things up to suit any holiday or season.

Materials you need:

Wax Paper

Crayons in appropriate colors (we used a dark red, orange, and yellow for this project)

Grater

String (if you want to hang them up)

Iron and Ironing board

How to:

First and foremost – Protect your ironing board and your iron! You don’t want to get wax on them.

Choose your crayon colours and peel the paper off each one.

Grate your crayons (carefully – don’t want to cut your fingers) into separate piles (it’s way easier to clean up if you grate directly on some extra waxed paper or a plate.

Set up your ironing board and plug in the iron (medium to high heat, no steam)

Cover your ironing board with either a cloth or parchment or more waxed paper to protect it.

Lay down (on the ironing board) a sheet of waxed paper – sprinkle your crayon shavings all over, keeping areas of colours separate. Cover with a new sheet of waxed paper the same size so no crayon shavings are exposed. Cover with a cloth and lightly press with your iron to melt the crayon. Keep checking to make sure it’s all melted.

After you let it cool for a minute, draw leaf shapes on your waxed paper and cut out.

I put a string through mine and hung them on a small curtain rod over my kitchen window.

We make these every year for many different occasions – we make hearts during Valentines, four leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day, eggs for Easter, and stars and candy canes for Christmas. It’s easy, cheap, and a fun way to decorate and use up all those broken crayons you probably have laying around.

Enjoy!

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.” George Eliot

Pumpkin Painting Faux Pas

While trying to come up with some cute, yet cheap, Halloween decorations, I happened across a blog showing how to paint on windows. The instructions were great and her painting looked absolutely perfect! Plus – I happened to have all the supplies on hand – well, except for the straight edge razor needed for removing the painting. You can check out her post here: Glory’s Mischief

First of all, you have to understand, I am NOT an artist – I am horrible at Pictionary – I just like trying new things. So I got all my supplies together and went to town. I drew on the window with dry erase markers, painted my black outlines and then filled everything in. Afterwards I sat down to enjoy my handiwork and have a cup of coffee. As I am staring at the painting, I slowly realize that my giant pumpkins look less like pumpkins and more like huge lady parts! Dear Lord help me! I began feeling frantic, hoping the neighbours don’t see it (honestly, how could they miss it even if they just glanced at my house!) I sent a photo of it to my daughter who is at school in Montana right now to get her opinion. She busted a gut laughing first and then wondered why I painted huge “hoo hoo’s” on my window and hoped that no one had taken a photo and posted it on Pinterest! *hangs head in shame* Seriously, it could have been a Hustler photo shoot!

Now remember, I said I had all the supplies minus the straight edge razor in order to take off the paint. So I grabbed the next best thing – my stainless steel bench scraper! Thank the Lord it worked like a charm! After about 15 minutes I got it all off. I was sweating bullets!

Finally, after catching my breathe, I downloaded a picture of pumpkins (see, I learned!) and used that as a template to start painting a new set of pumpkins. And I think they turned out pretty cute! In fact, I think I’ll keep decorating this window for all sorts of holidays — once I find pictures I can use as a template!

Lesson Learned: Always use a pattern!

Great Apps: Presidents vs. Aliens

Do you need to learn Presidential facts? Presidents vs. Aliens is just the ticket! Learning all the facts, nicknames, party affiliation, (and much more) is addictively awesome! Answer multiple-choice questions by choosing the correct president and fling the head at the aliens to knock them out of the sky. Earn more Presidents by answering three questions in a row. One thing I really liked about this game (it feels like a game and not learning) is that you can control your own experience. Not ready for all the historical facts? No problem! You can set all the controls so you get the type of questions you need – whether it’s just the basics or whether you want to delve in deeper. Save our world from the Aliens and learn your Presidential facts at the same time.

I just wish I could find an app like this to learn all the Canadian Prime Ministers!

Bottom line: A totally fun way to learn Presidential facts!

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

Cost: $0.99

Presidents vs. Aliens

DIY Projects Need Honest Reviews

I love trying new and inspiring DYI crafts and recipes that I haven’t seen before. I’m a crafty (in a good way), culinary minded girl so I’ve seen and tried a lot of different things in my day. Now with the advent of Pinterest and other sites where you can visually categorize and share your favorite things, DIY pinboards and recipe boards are through the roof! It’s incredibly inspiring!

One of the things I appreciate about Food Network or Martha Stewart Living website or Instructables or any big commercial website, is that their recipes and DIY crafts are all reviewed and rated; sometimes rather harshly. Honestly, I want to know if a product or a recipe is going to come out as intended or not. I’ve seen some beautiful photos of DIY projects on Pinterest. A lot of times the picture is presented as a lovely diffused photo. Call me crazy, but I’m always suspicious of these. When you arrive at the comment section you get glowing reviews on how the craft or recipe looks but, suspiciously, none that have comments from people who’ve tried it and it either worked or didn’t. Honest reviews! That’s what I am looking for! Not from people who want to try it but from people who HAVE tried it.

I found a beautiful pomander (although I hesitate to call it that as it had no aroma – but for lack of a better term, it’s a “pretty hangy ball”) made with just a Styrofoam ball, waxed paper, string and some glue. The photo looked beautiful but I don’t know if I want to use my time making it until I see at least one review of “Yay, it worked.”

My daughter made some “cake pops” that she had found on Pinterest and many people had commented on how incredibly cute they were. Indeed they were very cute – however, no one told the truth in saying they taste like ABC cake (that’s Already Been Chewed for those of you who don’t know). They were horrid. In fact, we threw out the batch. Another similar fail was the “homemade detergent” made with borax and washing soda and Fels Naptha.  You were only supposed to have to use 1 tablespoon per load. It had tons of rave reviews on how cheap and clever was – but no one said, “you know, it’s ok for a laundry booster or some cheaper laundry detergents, but there is no way it could take the place of Tide”.  It’s usable, but not for long. I used it for a month and after the first few loads my poor clothes looked pretty dingy. It’s so disappointing to spend time and money doing things that are, in the end, a fail. C’est la vie! On to another project!

I have tried several recipes and projects and I’ve found that all but a few of them have been great! I love adding new crafts and recipes to my weekly arsenal! So it’s not like everything is bad – in fact, I would think that most of the stuff posted is actually useful, if only for some people. What I would love to see is that when bloggers post recipes or DIY projects, they tell their readers, “try it and when you’re done, come back and tell me your honest opinion”. That alone would lend so much credibility to the project or recipe!

I look forward to trying and reviewing as many things as I can. It makes life fun and interesting to try new things – especially when those new things actually work!

 

Pre-Holiday 40 Bags in 40 Days

Here we go again! I did the whole “40 bags in 40 days” thing in the spring. I did it because it REALLY needed to be done! I live in smallish house and we have WAY too much stuff! Last spring, once my 40 days were up, I felt the house breath a sigh of relief! Plus, let’s face it, I am a “thrower awayer”. Not literally throw away — pass on the good stuff to a charity or re-purpose things, or re-cycle , or throw away if need be.

While it brings my heart joy when I see the trash man take away our garbage and the recycle truck come and take all my weekly recycling – the rest of my family tend to be more pack-rats! But, I was on a mission in the spring and everyone pitched in. I was very proud of them! It worked out so well.

With the holidays right around the corner, I decided to do another 40 Bags in 40 Days adventure! The most difficult part is coming up with the “list” of your 40 spaces. Break things up into manageable sizes – each job could take as little as 15 minutes to up to and hour. Not too shabby! Now, in the spring, I didn’t end up with big hefty bags from every job – sometimes just cleaning it out was enough – but in the end I sent 9 giant hefty bags to a local charity, recycled a ton of stuff and threw away weird junk that I had no idea why we had and was deemed unfit for man or beast.

When the holidays arrive – I will be ready – house organized and pristine and feel like I can walk around a corner or peep into a closet without being bombarded by junk. My house will be able to breath yet again!

Here’s a pic of my list for this time around. Hope it gives you some ideas of your own!

40 Bags in 40 Days

Laundry Woes

I have come to the conclusion that my Mom deserves a medal. She is a rock star! In all of my years growing up, I was never out of clean clothes. Never once did I run out of underwear or have to wear them inside out! My Mom is a laundry queen. Something, unfortunately, she did not pass on to me.

We had 10 people in our little, three bedroom, one bathroom house. There was always at least one baby in cloth diapers and one in cloth training pants. I can’t even fathom doing laundry, let alone towels and sheets, for that many people.

In my house, there are four of us. And my daughter does her own laundry. Yet I still feel like I am washing, drying, folding, and putting away scads of clothes several times a week. I actually LOVE clean laundry. I just don’t like doing it. Really, it’s not so much the washing or the drying or even the folding. It’s the putting away of the clothes that gets me. I dump the clean laundry on my bed and fold it – and then it sits there and mocks me until I eventually get around to putting it away. I am horrible. It is the household chore I hate the most. I have wished so many times for a “Rosie”; you know, the Jetsons’ robot maid! Now SHE would be responsible for putting those dang clothes away!

Maybe I just need a paradigm shift as far as laundry goes. I’ll tell myself I love it and therefore, I will! I found this pic on Pinterest and I think it says it all! (unfortunately, it had no source, therefore, no attribution – but it is nonetheless genius!)

Don't you just love those 12 seconds when all the laundry is done!

What is the household chore that you dislike the most?