Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Improvising Halloween

Tonight, trick-or-treaters will be trolling the streets looking for glowing porch lights.

I am assured our porch lights are not capable of shining. Don't know details, but there is some technical problem.


How will the little creeps find their way to our goofy Toosie Pop ghosts?

I decided to create a living room setting outside our front door--chair, end table, laptop tv and CANDY. Fortunately, there is an outlet where I can plug in a lamp.

I worry some little ones may think it's a set up. From the street, a harmless looking mom. Up close she turns into something scary.

That is so not me, but they don't know that.

Have no fear little ones. 

The porch lights are broken, that's all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I love this vintage cake plate topper. It was an awesome thrift find for only one dollar! 

It looks like the tip top part lifts off, but it doesn't. It is all one piece. 

I guess the cake plate portion has parted ways with the top. No matter. 

I just use a plate underneath. 

And surprise...


Hope you are having a lovely day!

This post was shared on this neighborly website:
Life on the Funny Farm

Monday, October 29, 2012

Necessity is a mother (of invention)

Perhaps you dashed from the house this morning, running a little late. 

Same here.

If the car wasn't sleeping in a toasty garage, you were probably faced with annoying snowflake-shaped frost stuck on the windshield. Everybody knows frost laughs at windshield wipers and is more frustrating to remove than day-old chili queso.

Ice scraper in the car? Surely you jest. That's like keeping sun block in the beach bag or batteries in the flashlight.

Not everyone was a Boy Scout.

Anyway, it was one of those mornings when time wasn't on my side. And then...I had to endure a taunting from sarcastic windshield frost.

You know what works well in a scraping emergency? 

A box of gum. 

Not the gum...just the box part. Resourcefulness struck back at frost and a ticking clock to boot.

Soon a dusting of frost will seem like a polite acquaintance. It's almost time to scrape packed snow and ice from the car. 

Yes, this year I'll think ahead.

Where's an old CD case?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cheap trick-or-treats

Handing out candy for mobs of ghosts and goblins can really be a hit to the wallet. Even the off-brand stuff is expensive in quantity.

Here are some unconventional things I've done to save at Halloween:

1. Bake cookies. I know. I know. This is so taboo nowadays. The world is a creepy place and parents don't know if they can trust baked goods from some random house. But give me a chance to explain...

What I did was make sugar cookie pumpkins with piped-on decorator icing. I placed one sugar cookie in a Halloween plastic treat baggie (the kind at school parties), tied the baggie shut and attached a tag with my name and address.

The parents knew where the cookie came from and, honestly, I didn't even care if they pitched the whole thing, because the cost to me was so incredibly low. The whole project was probably less than $5--and we get LOTS of Halloweeners here.

2. Crafts/games. One year I ordered some ghost crafts from Oriental Trading. I think these are intended as school projects, so you get 20+ individually-wrapped pieces for one price. I can't remember how much these were, but when I did the math comparing these to candy, the crafts were cheaper by a landslide. Plus, they offered something bulky, intriguing and non-sugary.

3. Tootsie Pop ghosts. Just drape a Kleenex around a Tootsie Pop and tie at the neck with yarn or ribbon. Add eyes with a Sharpie if you want...or not. These aren't that big of a deal, but at least show some effort and look festive in your treat bowl at the front door. 

4. Pretzel bags. I'm sure you've seen the small bags of pretzels in the candy aisle at the store. The bags are decorated for Halloween. I bought a big tub of these one year thinking the parents would appreciate something without sugar and the kids would like something BIG in their bags. 

Eh...I was kinda wrong. Kids don't want pretzels. At least that was my experience. However, when you compare these prices with candy prices, I do believe the pretzel bags are less expensive. Proceed at your own risk. :)

Here's hoping we all don't break the bank this year!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spruced up oyster crackers

In a constant effort to replace chips at our house, I tried this recipe last night. 

Everyone liked these juuuuust fine.

Spruced up oyster crackers 


1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch mix
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
5 cups oyster crackers

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Mix everything together except the oyster crackers.
  3. Stir in the oyster crackers.
  4. Spread crackers on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Library fines...let's do the math

I have two library books due today, but I think I'll return them tomorrow.


Because I don't need to drive by the the library today.

"Oh no," you say. "You'll get FINES!"

Yes, I will. Twenty cents. Ten cents per book per day late.

I don't want to pay the 20 cents, but in this case it does make sense. 

Here's how:

Gas is about $3.50/gallon. My little car gets 28 mpg. That means I can go about 28 miles for $3.50. 

The library is three and a half miles from my home. 

Therefore, I would be spending 44 cents in gas to pay my 20 cent fine. The round trip would total 88 cents, of course.

Library fines. 

I feel so rascally.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Free ranging fruit

Once upon a time, a pumpkin was spotted, stem clipped, in a stark nearby field.

Bright orange popped against autumn-pale farmland stripped of its non-pumpkin crop.

Back home theories abounded: perhaps the pumpkin was stolen and ditched by a thief lacking the strength to carry it home; or maybe the large fruit was catapult fodder. No indications of smashage, though.

The situation was so...weird.

I decided to snap a photo of the lonely guy. His vibrant optimism juxtaposed within such a bleak landscape.

So I went back to the field.

What should I discover...


but an additional pumpkin keeping him company!

Dear mysterious feral pumpkin and companion, will your stories ever be revealed?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Different kind of chips

Every shopping trip I buy a bag of junk. Salty, carby, expensive junk.

So, I decided to make my own salty, carby junk. 

Bagel chips! 

This recipe is a starting point.  Add whatever spices suit your fancy.

Here is how I did it:

Bagel Chips


Package of bagels
olive oil (I started with 1/2 cup and then added more)
a few teaspoons of Italian seasonings
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. Slice bagels--thinner slices will become crispier slices.
  3. There will be quite a few bagel pieces. That's just the way it has to be.
  4. Mix the spices and cheese into the olive oil.
  5. Brush bagel slices and bagel pieces with olive oil mixture.
      (I used a lot of oil and kind of regretted it. A thin coating will do.)
  6. Bake on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes or until desired crispness.
  7. Add more salt if you like.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple turnovers on the cheap

Three cheers for apple season! Hip Hip Hooray (HHH)! HHH! HHH!

I attempted these turnovers, because buying them at the bakery was getting to be an expensive habit.

I set off to do it myself and was surprised at how simple they are to make.

Comparing the bakery price with the made-at-home version:
Bakery: $3 for a pack of 4 turnovers. Weight 12 oz.
Home: $3 for 20 turnovers. Weight 2 lbs.

Now that’s more like it!

Here’s the recipe:

Apple turnovers on the cheap

1 stick of butter, melted
20 fillo sheets (half a box)
1 can of apple pie filling
Powdered sugar and water for a glaze

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cover the stack of fillo sheets with a damp towel (they dry quickly)
Lightly butter a cookie sheet*
Remove one** fillo sheet and brush with some butter
Fold sheet in half vertically
Brush folded strip with butter
Place about 1 ½ tablespoons of apple pie filling at the edge of the sheet
Fold to make a triangular shape…like a paper football or a flag
Brush finished triangle with butter
Continue the process until cookie sheet is full of turnovers
Bake for about 15 minutes, more or less, until golden
Let turnovers cool
Mix some powdered sugar and water and glaze them pretty!

*You can probably omit greasing the pan. When I pulled them out of the oven, they weren’t quite “swimming” in butter, but definitely wading around a bit.

**I prefer the daintiness of only one fillo sheet per turnover, but use more if you like.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy accident

Well, lookie there!

Do you see what I see? It’s one of those thin hair elastics—the teeny kind which come a billion to a bag.

He must have been bored waiting for a head to adorn, because he seems to be expressing himself; or perhaps he’s getting into costume for All Hallows’ Eve as a…

treble clef!

I doubt it would be humanly possible to fashion one of these hair elastics into such a G-clef, but this guy managed it all on his own.

Rock on, hair elastic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ever-so-cheap bunting

We recently had a couple birthdays in the family and my usual stash of banners and decorations had seen better days.
I thought, "Hey, bunting is really cute. I think I'll make my own."

It was incredibly easy. Oh so easy.

And cheap? It cost me zero dollars. 

I already had the raffia on hand, so that would have otherwise cost a little something, but you can use whatever is around the house, such as curly ribbon--anything you can form into a long strip.

The raffia strands weren't very long to start, so I just tied them together. The long strip was then hung. The whole thing is so light I was able to just tuck the ends under some photos on the mantle.

Next I cut 13 diamond shapes from some brown shipping wrap--one for each letter in "happy birthday."
Then the diamond shapes were folded in half.
The letters printed quick-as-a-wink and I cut them out and glued one on each half diamond triangle.

Next, the diamonds were hung on the raffia strip. A tuft of raffia separated "happy" from "birthday" so the words didn't run together.

It wasn't fireplace season quite yet, so I didn't worry about my decor catching fire...but careful about hanging paper things in front of fireplaces.   :)
Snipping and gluing--so much fun!! 

This post was shared on these neighborly sites:
Mad in Crafts 
Flour Me With Love 
Creating my way to Success  
Vintage Wanna Bee
Adventures of a DIY Mom
Growing Home Blog  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is not a coffee maker

My Dearest Java:
"In vain I have struggled. Tea leaves will not do. My feelings shall not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

So, I altered Jane Austen’s quote; but my struggle with coffee is sincerely heartfelt.

After wired shakiness beginning daily around 3 p.m. and a caffeine-induced aversion to sunlight, I declared a while back:

“Tomorrow begins a weaning from caf to decaf, then onward to tea; whereby I shall never glance behind.”

All was well. For a couple weeks, even.

And then…

This odd bedfellow.

What is this? Well, it’s not a coffee maker. And it’s not not a coffee maker.

It’s denial.

The coffee machine and I are still separated. Residing in a dark cabinet, the appliance lives far from convenient.

However, it is difficult to ignore my cheeks a-glow and step a-bounce.

Java, my beloved, you persist.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Grandma, what big dimensions you have

Granny is growwwwing

I’ve got the crocheting bug again. It’s been quite a few years.

Crocheting isn’t difficult and is so relaxing. It makes me nostalgic for the 70’s when I first experienced yarn and hook.

Let’s see, with which rudiment shall I reacquaint? The granny square, of course!

I intend to keep “dc’ing” and “ch’ing” until my skein of yarn is gone. Why not? My stitches aren’t especially uniform, but this is a love-the-process kind of project.

Curious to learn what the old girl’s measurements will be in the end. Right now, she’s 14 inches square.

On and on and round and round. I’m a little woozy.

Do you have the yarn bug, too?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carrot bread; pretty for fall

Carrot bread - Yum!

I made this carrot bread yesterday and it was delicious! Its oranginess makes it appropriate for an autumn treat.

It only took about 20 minutes to get it into the oven, and that included shredding the carrots!

Here's the recipe:

Carrot bread

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup shredded carrot (about 2 carrots)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a loaf pan.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
Add shredded carrot. (I just made short shreds with a veggie peeler.)
Mix the brown sugar, milk and butter in a bowl.
Add the beaten egg.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan for about 10 minutes and then on a wire rack. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!