Monday, October 31, 2011

Homemade Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I’ve always loved celebrating Halloween, and this year I decided to add some homemade touches to my Halloween d├ęcor.


Halloween 1

First, these Pumpkin Votive Luminaries that I spotted on Dollar Store Crafts.

I picked up the votive holders at the dollar store (appropriately), and they worked great. Next, some Mod Podge, which will continue to be useful for future crafts. The hardest thing to find was the orange tissue paper. Apparently Halloween is not a good time to be looking for orange things.

Once I had everything assembled, the instructions for making the luminaries were really easy to follow. In no time I had my own! Very fun to make, and a great result.


Halloween 2

Next, Trash Bag Spider Webs from How About Orange.

These were also easy to make, and cost absolutely nothing since we already had black trash bags on hand. Though she wasn’t kidding when she said they were slippery, you do have to be cautious when cutting them out. She managed to get hers to hold their shape better, but I think all in all they turned out pretty well.


Halloween 3

I knew when I saw these paper bats from MADE that I just had to make them.

Though the other decorations weren’t hard, this one has all of them beat for simplicity. Just print out a bat template, and go to town on some black construction paper or cardstock. Voila! Bats. I think this turned out to be my favorite new decoration. I love the effect.


Halloween 5

Last, but not least, a family tradition – Fan Ghosts.

I remember these from when I was a kid, they were always one of my favorite decorations. Usually, we made them out of napkins but this year I decided to try white trash bags for the shininess and translucency. I just cut out squares, put a cotton ball in the middle and tied them with string. A little black marker for the face, and done! Then hang them from the fan blades and watch them zoom around the room. It was hard to get a good picture of the action, but they are lots of fun.


Halloween 4

We also had some homemade fun with our costumes, so hopefully I’ll get some good pictures to share when the girls go Trick or Treating tonight. Have a great Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CSFF: The Bone House

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to do a blog tour, but I knew I had to jump in on this one: The Bone House, by Stephen Lawhead. It’s the second in his Bright Empires series, and last year I reviewed the first installment, The Skin Map, here.

*Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead*

This second installment begins where the first left off, following Kit’s unexpected rescue by his old flame, Mina. And like the first book, The Bone House definitely has a lot going on to keep the story moving. There are treasure hunts, desperate chases, amazing discoveries and, of course, subterfuge.

The one problem I had was determining where all of the excitement was supposed to be leading to. I know ultimately that there is a search for the Well of Souls, and that finding the pieces of the Skin Map are the key, but it wasn’t always clear to me how the various events in the book were leading towards these ends. And the title object, the Bone House, didn’t even come into being until late in the story. As I reflected on the issue, I decided it was probably more a result of this being the second installment in a series – and therefore far from a resolution – than any flaw in the story or writing. The writing was certainly as good as in The Skin Map.

I would definitely recommend reading The Bone House, as long as you’ve read The Skin Map first. I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the series as well.

Check out the rest of the tour:

Noah Arsenault - Red Bissell - Thomas Clayton Booher - Beckie Burnham - Morgan L. Busse - CSFF Blog Tour - Jeff Chapman - Carol Bruce Collett - Karri Compton - D. G. D. Davidson - Theresa Dunlap - April Erwin - Victor Gentile - Tori Greene - Ryan Heart - Bruce Hennigan - Timothy Hicks - Christopher Hopper - Janeen Ippolito - Becca Johnson - Jason Joyner - Julie - Carol Keen - Krystine Kercher - Marzabeth - Katie McCurdy - Shannon McDermott - Rebecca LuElla Miller - Joan Nienhuis - Chawna Schroeder - Kathleen Smith - Donna Swanson - Rachel Starr Thomson - Robert Treskillard - Steve Trower - Fred Warren - Phyllis Wheeler - Nicole White - Rachel Wyant

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Family Fun

Some of the family was camping at Mauthe Lake the weekend we were in town, and there were lots of fun fall activities planned for everyone to enjoy there.


Fall 2

Jacinta was ready to hop right into the fall spirit.


Fall 1

The setting was perfect.


Fall 4

While some were carving pumpkins on Saturday afternoon, Jacinta preferred to wander. She wanted to make sure I was getting my exercise.


Fall 6

That evening the kids got decked out in their Halloween costumes. Veronica is obviously a fire-breathing dragon.


Though there was some question of whether or not dragons can fly.


Fall 7

Time for a costume parade!


Fall 8

Jacinta’s wandering tendencies meant she had to be contained by Daddy. Marching in formation just isn’t her thing.


Fall 9

Time to Trick or Treat!


Fall 10

And what kid doesn’t enjoy Trick or Treating?


Fall 13

Then some games were in order.


Fall 12

And though I missed getting pictures of the pumpkin carving in progress, Veronica did get to pose with her pumpkin she “carved.” With a marker.


Fall 14

Sunday was another chance for everyone to get together and play. Even Jacinta joined in chasing the bubbles.


Fall 15

Her wanderer’s heart did contemplate escape now and then.


But a little impromptu song and dance drew her back in.


Fall 17

There was also some time for fishing, which Veronica was looking forward to.


Fall 19

With a little help, she reeled one in for Papae.


Fall 18

She was excited to get up close and personal with the fish.


Fall 20

Eventually she even caught one with her cane pole. She was pretty disappointed to have to throw it back in. Unfortunately I missed all the action on that one, as I was on Jacinta duty back on shore and not on the pier.


Fall 16

We had lots of fun over the weekend, and it was great being able to spend time with everyone.


Fall 3

Thanks to all whose planning and hard work made it possible!

Next up, a long-awaited fall visit to the The Little Farmer!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn is a Real Season

Autumn 8

Living in the desert, we don’t have many opportunities to witness the splendor of color that is fall. But this year, our trip to Wisconsin coincided perfectly with the turning of leaves – not to mention excellent weather – and allowed us to enjoy autumn to the fullest. For a few days at least.


Autumn 1

Some of us were just glad to be able to run around outside without overheating.


Autumn 6

Piles of leaves were made to be jumped in, right?


Autumn 7

Without a doubt.


Autumn 2

A new crop of raspberries was ripe for picking, thanks to the great weather.


Autumn 13



Autumn 3

They were an immediate hit.


Autumn 4

Veronica says, “Raspberry picking is Serious Business.”


Autumn 10

Exploration was high on the list of desired activities. Or maybe it was just wandering. With Jacinta, you can never be sure.


Autumn 9

Time was made for wheelbarrow rides, too.


Autumn 11

And what a gorgeous setting.


Autumn 5

Hello, color!


Autumn 12

And this was only the first morning of our trip. Lots of fun and family ahead.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Couple Things

We’re just getting settled back into our routine after a great trip to Wisconsin. Lots of fun, time with family, and recharging our batteries.


October 15 2011 309

But more on that later.

Today I wanted to share an awesome pie crust tutorial that I’ve found infinitely helpful in my pie baking.

Pam’s Pie Tutorial

Food processor instead of pastry cutter? Yes, please. Rolling the dough between two slips of parchment paper? Genius. I’ve used her method a few times now, and even though my technique isn’t perfect yet, the pie crust still turns out delicious and flaky every time.

I should note that I don’t have any leaf lard, which she calls for in her recipe, so I usually use 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of shortening for the fat. I’ve been pleased with the result.

While in Wisconsin we acquired a large bag of apples that were just screaming to be made into pie. So we obliged.


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It was quite an operation, as you can see. And the resulting pies were delicious indeed.

I am looking forward to the plethora of apples we are likely to get in our Bountiful Baskets this coming season. As well as other tasty things that give me an excuse to make (and eat) pie.

Check out the tutorial, then go and make one!