Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! 

We are thankful Sandy was kind to our neighborhood and Perry the Platypus can still go trick-or-treating. 

*For those of your who don't know, Perry the Platypus is a secret agent who's alias is being a pet on Phineas and Ferb. It is also very hard finding a Perry the Platypus costume, so we had to create Morgan's from a little bit of this and that. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Not So Country Furniture

Today I want to share a new and growing maker of unique reclaimed furniture and accessories. I am a huge fan for Flat River Furniture and wait eagerly for each new piece to debut. Although the name brings up images of the country and log cabins, a lot of his work has evolved into things like rustic tables with a modern twist. The designer is really quite amazing and creative.... although I may be a little bias because he's my DAD. Never the less his work really is great and I know a lot of other people love it too.

His stuff is flying out of the workshop and if you are interested in something you see you need to scoop it up fast! The good news is he can custom build just about anything.

So what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Christmas Decor Theme Dilema

I know it is still October, but I like to plan things wayyy in advance so I can slowly get it together. Hence I have already started thinking about Christmas.  I know the stores have too so I know I'm not that early.

Currently I am debating how to decorate our home this year. 

One part of me likes whites and silvers with some simple greenery and maybe some touches of blue. Pretty, shimmery, simple.

The other part of me wants to go all out vintage, tacky, colorful. We are talking the big old Christmas light bulbs and lots of tinsel here.

We'll have to see which wins out. Let me know which way you would go!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dinner for One: Taco Stuffed Peppers

I'm happy to say I'm feeling accomplished today. I worked on the blog, learned some Photoshop in the meantime and did some writing work, among other household things I won't bore you with. I even planned out some of my Christmas present to check off my list early. Morgan and I also had a photo session for some photos that I'm thinking will be on our Christmas card this year. You will have to wait to see those... but I'm pretty excited about them. 

After all that I wondered what to make for dinner. On the nights Matt is not home for dinner Morgan generally gets something she likes and I make something for myself that no one else will eat. Tonight I ended up throwing together some things that I wanted to use up around the kitchen and came up with taco stuffed peppers. 


My oh my were they good. Here's now I made them:

*Note: This was dinner for one. You will have to modify sizes to meet your needs.

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 of a chopped onion
1/2 of a chopped red pepper
1 large green pepper
1/2 of a package of taco seasoning
1 package of boil-in-bag brown rice

1. Cut the top off the green pepper and take out the seeds. Set inside a baking dish.
2. Brown the ground beef. Drain the juices.
3. Add about 1/3 cup of water to the pan and simmer. Stir in taco seasoning, onion and red pepper until most of the water has evaporated.
4. Meanwhile be cooking your brown rice. Once done, stir into beef mixture.
5. Scoop mixture into pepper.
6. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. I like my pepper still a little firm. If you like yours softer than cook it longer.

I didn't have any shredded cheddar cheese, but that would have been a good addition. 

I did have a good portion of rice/beef mixture left over. Sounds like lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Welcome Peanut, Goodbye Marina

This past weekend we adopted a cat. It was unplanned since we have been planning to get a dog to add to our family, but sometimes the world hands you a surprise. That surprise came when my husband fell in love with this cutie while we were casually perusing the animals at PetSmart. Originally I said no, but after heading to our next stop we knew we had to go back and get her.

Here she is taking her own picture. So technologically savvy.

Having both grown up with pets in our lives it is wonderful having an animal in the house again. She is such an affectionate sweetie and brings a little extra fun to the house. 

On a sad note, Morgan's betta fish Marina died this morning. It broke my heart since I have never seen a kid love a fish more. When she first got her she would carry her to the living room to watch movies together. We buried her in the garden this morning and said a little prayer. (Flushing fish down the toilet just seems so heartless to me, ya know?) Hopefully having Peanut around will help ease her sadness a little more.   

Whether its a fish, cat, dog or whatever animal friend you have, give them a little extra love today!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesdays Tip: Creating a Party on the Cheap

As much as I love to host parties and decorate my home the pay check of a substitute teacher is not very conducive to such things. There are no halls being rented or new drapes for every season. (By the way, why are curtains so expensive?!) Plus I'm kind of a cheap person. I refuse to pay more than I think something is worth especially if it is something I can do or make myself. 

Because of those factors I have gotten pretty creative and figured out how to host inexpensive events. Granted they are not as nice as the ones I lust after in pictures, but I still have fun putting everything together and hope everyone has a good time. 

The following are some of my tips on how to put together a party with little funds. 

1. Embrace the dollar store. I'm not going to lie. The Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places. There are so many hidden treasures there. They have a lot to offer in the way of party supplies. For our pumpkin party I bought two glass candle sticks and two other glass holders that were also in the candle aisle and glued them together. Two instant additions to my serving dish collection for $4. 

My  "crystal" cup is pictured here.
Works great for nuts and small snacks. Plus, it still works as a candle holder.
2. Do mix and match party supplies. Sometimes, particularly for kids parties you may want a special character or theme to be represented. I know my daughter will ask for the matching plates and cups and banners, etc. $12 for just paper plates alone is not happening in this house. So when we must have those special supplies we pick a couple things with that special design and mix it with the generic stuff. A one or two packs of Fancy Nancy plates mixed with a few packs of plain plates is a lot lighter on the wallet. I personally like it better stylistically anyway. Sometimes it can get to be too much character overload. You can do the same thing with napkins and then maybe splurge for that matching pinata. 

For Morgan's 6th birthday we mixed Fancy Nancy plates with light pink ones and used a  reusable vinyl table cloth of the same color scheme. The table cloth cost less than the plastic Fancy Nancy ones and we could use it again.

3. Make it yourself. Don't be intimidated. You can do it! I like to have at least one homemade decoration. It's more personalized and softens that manufactured party kit feeling. It's also less expensive than paying the jacked up convenience charge of having it pre-made. With Pinterest and so many blog tutorials out there you are sure to find great easy ideas. Here are a couple from the past few years:

Am I going to pay $10 for 3 tissue paper pom poms I can buy online or $3 for 10 that I can have fun making with my daughter? These are still hanging in her room after almost 2 years.

A fall pumpkin candle holder. I had all the supplies in my house so this one was a freebie. (Hint: I wash out and save sauce and jelly jars for occasions like this.)  

Another freebie. Why not make a banner out of supplies you have around the house?

Did you know they sell paper chain kits in the craft store? I was so tempted but then spent some time in the scrapbook paper section doing my research and found out I could buy a whole book of pretty paper for less and make a much longer chain.
4. Reuse, share, and borrow! I have a colorful girly Happy Birthday banner I found at Old Navy of all places. I goes with pretty much every girls birthday theme. Best $5. I have used it for years and my sister-in-law borrows it too. It gets around. My mom and I have nice folding chairs we share and she also is gracious enough to share a lot of dishes and serving items. If you share with family and friends its like having twice or three times the supplies.

5. Buy on clearance. Every now and then I will see supplies for dirt cheap at Target. One day I happened to catch the dollar bin 70% off. 30 cents?! It is definitely OK in my book at that price to but a few things to put aside. 

6. The time of day can lower your food bill. Dinner and lunch parties can get pricey. You need a main course, some snacks or appetizers and dessert. Having a party that is strictly munchies or dessert items can cost less and be easier to get everything together. Breakfast is also a good option that costs less than a full course meal.

7. Use what you have. I guarantee you have a lot of things around your house you can use before even stepping foot in the store. Get creative and try to stay clear of too many things you will only use once. 

At this point I want to turn the list over to you. Do you have any tip for saving money when it comes to parties?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Decorating Party

I will be the first to admit that Halloween isn't really my thing. I just can't get into it. Maybe I was traumatized as a small child and have blocked out the memory of it. Don't get me wrong... I like the candy. It's just the cheesy, spooky, costume wearing factor I can't seem to get behind. I wish I could.

One thing I do love about Halloween though is carving pumpkins. I'm not sure what lit the initial spark, but way back in August I knew I wanted to have a pumpkin carving party with everyone. Being that it was still summer I put a pin in the idea and moved on... until I saw the dollar bin at Target filled with fall decorations and party supplies. Specifically these small paper snack cup that I had to have. They were just so fun and since they were more fall-ish than Halloween-ish it was right up my alley. So I came home from my first shopping trip with this: the snack cups, small orange paper plates to match, 3 small tin pails with ivory ribbon handles and a spool of 4 fall themed ribbons. Random? Yes. At that point I didn't even know who, or how many, I was inviting or what I was going to do with the pails or ribbon.

My spoils. 
Eventually everything did fall into place. I knew I wanted to keep it relatively small. Add our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, one cousin and her family and a couple of Morgan's friends together and you get a group number in the twenties. That happens to be minimalistic in my family. I also didn't want to do a meal. Just a few (or 12 or so) snacks to munch on.

Needless to say I had a FANTASTIC time and hope everyone else did too. I think we should turn this into an annual affair. 

My favorite treats on the table were the pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and the candy corn rice crispie treats. I pulled the flower arrangement together from various plants in my yard, including the last three tiny sunflowers hanging on for dear life to the wilting stalk in my garden. 

Outside we put all the pumpkins in a wheelbarrow until we were ready. I also found small Styrofoam pumpkins at the Dollar Tree. They said they were carve-able so I grabbed a bunch as extras. They ended up being great for the smaller kids to cover with stickers or for the slightly older kids when they wanted something else to do when they were done carving the real thing. I highly recommend getting something like these as back up.

As for the tools of the trade... bowls and spoons for collecting pulp, a books of templates, and a few pumpkin carving kits did the trick. I don't think you can have enough of the carving knives, so stock up! They are worth it and work much better than a steak knife. I also found the idea for using cookie cutters and a mallet to hammer in a design into the side of the pumpkin. Then you can just use the knife to get the cuts all the way through if the skin in thick. 

 Paints, foam pumpkin faces, and stickers were great for the kids when they wanted to add extras or weren't old enough to use the other tools.

A kit like this works great. I have used this one in the past:

And who doesn't love a bouncy house?! Thanks to my sister -in-law for sharing hers for the day. 

 Lastly, I will leave you with a sampling of our handy work.