Succulent Pumpkins

IMG_7138.JPGHere’s a fun project for fall decorating. Succulents are a big trend lately, and this is a fun way to use them even in fall. Making a succulent pumpkin is a fun, easy project.

 

What You Need:

  • A good size pumpkin, (not huge but big enough for several plants and that would make a nice centerpiece size) white is what I used to make it a little more decorative and less Halloween like.
  • A sharp knife
  • A variety of succulents that look nice together
  • Dirt (I used a cactus soil that works great with succulents)IMG_7126.JPG
  • A spoon
  • gloves if you choose

 

 

 

 

 

1. Cut & Scoop– The biggest part of this project is just making a mess. You may want to do it outside. Pick a safe place to work, grab your pumpkin and decide where you want to cut. You could mark this is you’d like, I just free cut. I went around and basically scored the outline, then went back and cut much deeper. It make take more than one pass to get all the way through. When you get deep enough you will be able to lift the whole cap out. Then let the mess begin. Have a trash can handy, grab your spoon and start scooping. Once you have all the seeds and pulp out decide if you need to cut away a little more inside for your plants. Tip: Spray bleach mixture inside to help it last longer.IMG_7129.JPGIMG_7131.JPGIMG_7132.JPG

2. Plant- Add some dirt to the pumpkin. Just judge how much by how big your plants are and how tall you want them to stand. Carefully start placing the succulents, in a nice visual arrangement. Add dirt around to secure them. Clean your pumpkin up and your’re done! This makes a fun fall centerpiece.

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Extra addition- I decided to add some rocks around my succulents just to make it look nicer. You can find bags of river rocks at Dollar tree. They are great for lots of projects! You could also just set a pot down into the cut pumpkin.

 

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Harvest Hash Trail Mix

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Here is a fun little treat that would be perfect for a school party, or just for a fun fall snack. This Harvest Hash can be easily customized to whatever things you like best.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Pretzels
  • BuglesIMG_7087
  • Honeycomb cereal
  • Candy Corn
  • Candy Corn Pumpkins
  • Puppy Chow- (Corn Chex, semi sweet chocolate chips, butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar)
  • M&M’s or round chocolate candy (I used Reese’s Pieces because…yum, and they are fall colors)
  • other options might be nuts, marshmallows, popcorn, goldfish, cheerios, etc

 

Additional Items You Will Need:

  • Scissors
  • Brown Paper Bag
  • Fall Ribbon or trim
  • A large mixing bowl and spoon
  • Ziploc storage bags

 

 

Puppy Chow:

First you will need to make the puppy chow. I would recommend making this the night before so it can be cooled down and dry.

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups of Corn Chex
  • 1/2 cup of  peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup of Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  1. In an large bowl get your corn chex measured out and place to the side.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter on low. Cook slowly till completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the mixture over the chex and carefully stir till coated.
  4. In a ziploc bag pour the mix in and slowly add the powdered sugar. Seal the bag and shake to coat.
  5. Spread the mixture on wax paper to cool and dry

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Once you have the puppy chow cool and dry you are ready to begin. This really is a great project to let kids help with because its super easy. gather all your ingredients and a little at a time combine all the ingredients and stir to combine. Its that easy. Mix in whatever quantities you like best. I mixed about three batches so I could get it all mixed well. Store it in Ziploc bags and enjoy when you are ready. IMG_7090(1).JPGIMG_7096(2).JPG

If you are taking this treat to a school party here is a fun little way to package it up. You will need brown paper bags, ribbon, and scissors. Simply cut the top, maybe an inch or two off the bag, and fold it over. pour your mix in and then tie some ribbon or trim around to complete. IMG_7097.JPG

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Happy Fall Ya’ll!

Easy DIY Halloween Wreath

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Fall is finally here! So in preparation for trick or treating, here is a fun little wreath project. This is a great project that can be done in an hour or less.

 

Supplies:

  • Large Styrofoam wreath base (do yourself a favor and don’t buy the porous kind because you will struggle to get glue to stick.)
  • 3 types of ribbon; one for wreath base, one for hanger and one for the bows. (For the base ribbon you will need at least 15 ft.)
  • small piece of burlap or jute ribbon (maybe about 2 ft)

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    Feel free to mix up your prints, and colors. Get what you like best. I was originally looking for orange and white polka dots, but my son helped me choose black and orange.

  • Large Fall flower
  • Black, medium point paint pen, or black acrylic paint and small paint brush
  • Hot Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Sewing Scissors
  • Additional items you may need-wire cutters, Mod Podge, and weather proof sealer

 

Instructions: IMG_6710

1. The first step is to get your glue gun ready to go. Next grab your wreath form and your base ribbon. You could also use fabric. I chose this chevron ribbon with wire because I liked the finished edges and the wire helps it have a nice tight wrap around the form. Take the end of your ribbon and glue it almost at a diagonal to the back and start wrapping around the form.

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You will need to take your time and watch so you get a smooth even wrap and don’t have any white showing. Just overlap each piece slightly and keep it tight around the form. IMG_6717(1)Once you have finished your wrap, secure it neatly on the back with more hot glue.

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2. The next step is to make your word banner on your burlap piece. Make sure to have a piece of cardboard or paper under your burlap so you don’t paint your work surface. If you are comfortable free handing with paint you could write it with sharpie and place under the burlap so you can see the image then paint. You could even trace over a print out. You may need to do a few coats with your paint pen so you cover the area well. You can write “Trick or Treat” or anything you’d like. Set that aside and let it dry for a few minutes before you move on. You don’t you may get unwanted paint elsewhere on the wreath. When its IMG_6722ready place the burlap on the wreath where it is supposed to lay. While holding it in place flip it over and secure each end neatly on the back with hot glue.

3. With your banner in place your are now ready to add your flower. I found a great flower that had an alligator clip on it so I simply clipped it on where i wanted it. If you have one that comes in a bunch or has a stem you will need wire cutters to trim the wire up to the back of the flower. Then you can place your flower with a little hot glue. Check your placement before you commit.IMG_6723(1)

4. Next you will make the loop of ribbon that is basically a decorative wreath holder. For this piece I used a gross grain with no wire. I took the polka dot ribbon and glued one end to the back at the top of the wreath. Make a big loop and see where your end needs to be and cut your other end of ribbon. IMG_6724It will come around the front of the wreath and go to the back where you can glue it right over the starting point. you may want to put a dab of glue between the two pieces of ribbon right above the wreath form. It just depends how you would like it to lay.

5. Next you are going to make the bow for the top. There are several ways you could do this. You could tie it around your loop and make a bow or you can make a bow and glue it on. Sometimes bows give me a fit so I chose to make the bow and glue it to the polka dot loop. I just used a fairly simple bow. Wired ribbon is great for bows because it can be manipulated and fluffed up to look nice. The bow should be a few inches down from the loop of polka dot ribbon  leaving a loop at the top to hang your wreath. You may again want to add glue to the pieces of ribbon behind the bow. Just depends how its trying to hang.img_6728.jpg

That’s it! Its that simple. Hang and enjoy!

 

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A Few Additional Tips:

-Many times the ends of your ribbon, like on your bow, will fray. One way to prevent this is to use a little Modge Podge on the ends. Just a little dab all the way across the bottom edge. Mod Podge dries clear and is a great sealer. If it is a silky type of material just use the tiniest bit so you do see and color difference. They also make a product called No Fray, but Mod Podge is my go to for many projects.

-Pay attention to your materials. Many types of ribbon may not be recommended for outside. What I like to do on my wreaths and door hangers is weather proof them a little bit. You just need a product that waterproofs. I usually get a Scotchguard type product sold in the camping department in Walmart. Its used for waterproofing camping gear, but they make similar sprays for shoes and some craft stores may carry several options.

 

Hope you had fun on this little project!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oven Baked Tacos

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Happy Taco Tuesday! Taco Tuesday is a favorite at my house. These oven baked tacos go beyond your normal taco expectations. They are also a great way to get kids to eat a little extra veg!

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs. ground beef or turkey (I always use ground turkey because this is a great recipe for it, its healthy and my kids love them)
  • 1 small onion diced (I usually leave the onion out but have made it both ways)
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 recipe for homemade taco seasoning (or two packets)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
  • 1 16oz can re-fried beans
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack (or whatever cheese you like; a lot of times we just do Monterrey Jack, and not gonna lie we probably use a little more than 2 cups)
  • 18-20 hard taco shells (the ones that stand up are helpful when placing in the backing dish)

Optional Condiments:

Lettuce, tomato, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, sliced olives. These tacos are so tasty my kids usually go for just sour cream and olives and maybe a little taco sauce.

Instructions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

1.) Brown beef or turkey and onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain off any excess liquid. Return to pan, add chiles, beans, tomato sauce, and seasoning; cook a few minutes till it is thicker and well mixed. (Do not add water like you normally do with taco seasoning, or it will make the shells fall apart)

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2.) Spoon meat mixture into the taco shells and place into a 9×13 baking dish standing up. (I usually find I need one large and one small pan.) Sprinkle cheese over the top of the taco meat in each shell. Bake at 400 10-12 minutes or until cheese and tacos are heated through. Remove from oven and top with and additional condiments.

This recipe feeds a crowd or leaves plenty for leftovers!! Hope you enjoy!

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Homemade taco Seasoning

  • 1tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

-Mix all together and store in an airtight container.

 

White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

IMG_6435It is the season of everything pumpkin and spice. So, in the spirit of fall I thought I’d give these festive Snickerdoodles a try. Personally I don’t get into the pumpkin spice craze, but these cookies pleasantly surprised me!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided  (I used raw sugar which gave these cookies a nice texture)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in the microwave. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together. The dough will be very soft. Fold in the white chocolate chips the best that you can. Cover and chill the the dough for at least 30 minutes.

3.Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Roll the dough into balls. Make each ball about 1.5 Tbs each. Mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Roll the balls in the sugar mixture and place on the baking sheets. Flatten the dough balls slightly.

5. Bake for 8-10. The cookies will look very and underbaked. If you bake them too long they will become chewy. Remove them from the oven and press a few chocolate chips into the top.

6.Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let them cool and enjoy!!! So yummy!!

 

Week Night Dinner

When I say easy most people roll their eyes at me. But…this is easy! A child that can use a knife can make this quick, easy and tasty meal. You will need 2 peppers (any color), and 2 small onions or one large, 2 cans Curry, 2 cans coconut milk and chicken. I used 6 chicken thighs.

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I open and add all cans to the pots and whisk together. Add boneless, skinless chicken thighs whole and onions. Cook on medium for about 30 minutes.

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The last thing to add is the peppers.  Cook for another 15-20 minutes on medium. I like my peppers a little more firm. If you cook the peppers too long they get too soft.

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Serve over cauliflower rice or white rice that you cook according to the package.

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Now, that was easy!

Curry Chicken:

6 boneless. skinless chicken thighs

2 cans coconut milk

2 cans masaman curry paste (I buy this at the international market)

2 peppers (any color) sliced

2 onions sliced

 

In large pan add curry and coconut milk. Whisk well.

Add onions and raw whole chicken thighs (they will fall apart after cooking)

Cook for 30 minutes on medium heat

Add peppers and cook for another 15-20 minutes on medium heat

Serve over cauliflower or regular rice

 

Now that is easy and tasty!  Enjoy!

 

Happy Birthday Idea

This week, our little grandson Elijah turned 5. We were having a family dinner to celebrate his birthday at our house. In honor of his birthday I wanted to do something creative and special for him so my brain started turning with ideas. We only had our four youngest ones so it was easier to come up with. Little ones are happy with things from the dollar store so this project will be easy and not expensive.

I bought 4 brown handles bags at the dollar tree for $2.00. I put their names on the bags:

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When the kids came in I told them the story of the bags. Here goes:

These bags are birthday bags. They have presents for each of you that magically appear from time to time during this birthday party. So if you check the bag and there is a present in the bag, it is yours. But make sure to put the bag back on the counter because another present could appear. You can check the bag anytime. Just always make sure to put the bag back.

Needless to say they loved it! They would forget about it while playing and then remember to check it later, loving every moment!!

I bought four gifts for each child at the dollar store. Things like, paddles with balls, silly string, airplanes etc.

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The kids loved this and would check on the bags often. It was a challenge to put new gifts in the bags without being seen but it can happen.

Our son, Michael brought his bounce house and we have a little hard plastic pool that we set up outside. For a five year old this was a big party!

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I hope you can use this idea at one of your birthday parties! It was easy, fun and not expensive.

Happy Birthday little man! We love you!