Thursday

Fall Decorated Christmas Tree

Decorating a tree for Autumn or Halloween

I got this idea years ago from my sister Kathy and her husband Beau.  They are both very creative and even created, own and operate The South Jersey Pumpkin Show.

On one of my trips to New Jersey to see them and visit their pumpkin festival they had a 6 foot tree in their front room decorated for autumn.  I loved it!
I took the idea home with me, changed it a little and made it my own.

I have a bay window in my kitchen and since purchasing our farm, have had a Christmas tree in that window decorated for Christmas to match my kitchen.

I started out with the 3 foot tree for an autumn themed tree for October and have since purchased a 4 foot tree to hold all the wonderful fall and Halloween decorations I have found.


Decorating The Tree.

1.  Pick the size tree you want.
 
A 4 foot tree to fit my bay window

2.  Add lights, orange for fall and Halloween or just use white.

Orange lights added

3.  Add fall decorations, leaves, gourds, witches, ghosts, pumpkins, etc.
















































4.  I like to add a tree topper and extra decorations to the top of the tree.


Tree topper made with an aged stuffed witch, fall leaves and pumpkin picks and stems

5.  Finish by adding a fall or Halloween themed tree skirt or material.

I also decorate around the tree with a few of my favorite Halloween characters.

A dried pumpkin I painted,
sitting on a silver candlestick

A metal witch and a dried pumpkin I painted

Once November arrives, I remove all the Halloween themed ornaments and decorations and add Thanksgiving:  Turkeys, acorns, Indian corn, pilgrims, Indians, cranberries, etc.

Finished:  My autumn decorated Christmas tree

Do you have special ways you like to decorate for the holidays or do you have a themed Christmas tree?
September to December are my favorite months. I really enjoy visiting friends, family, doing lots of cooking, attending parties, and everything else related to the Holidays.

Elizabeth

3 foot tree and decorations from previous years



Wednesday

Halloween Costume Ideas, Part 2

This is the second blog post on Easy Halloween Costume Ideas.
Click here for the first blog post:  Halloween Costume Ideas, Part 1

Army costumes and a football player
Who doesn't love fall and Halloween? Around our house, we get really excited thinking about the coming pumpkin recipes, fall leaves, corn stalks, stews, college football and all things autumn. We even have an annual Fall Party

When the kids were little I made all their costumes.  Most years the costumes were made by hand and accessories purchased to go with them.  As they got older I started building some of the costumes from clothing I found at thrift stores then made or purchase the remaining items needed. 


Was I especially crafty?  No, not especially, not really.  I taught myself as I went along, learning from a lot of mistakes.  Looking for parts and pieces to use for Halloween costumes made it much easier and saved lots of time and sewing. 

Even non-crafty moms can put together costumes from items around the house or found at thrift stores and yard sales. I am not against store bought costumes; they have actually improved quite a bit, (minus the trampy ones, I really dislike the trampy ones).  But store purchased costumes can be quite pricey, are not really high quality and you run the risk of you or your child having a costume just like everyone else.  Who wants that?
 
Flashback:  Dawn, October 1988
Depending on where you live, it can be pretty chilly in October.  Remember to choose costumes that are warm or ones you can wear clothes or thermal underwear underneath. 
Please overlook that some of these photos are years old and taken with a film camera, hopefully you’ll still get the idea.

Here are a few more of my favorites: 

Wolverine: 
This costume is pretty popular right now.  My daughter’s fiancĂ© came up with this one. He used gel to get his hair to look like the wolverine’s in the movie, wore a leather jacket, t-shirt and jeans and purchased the long wolverine claws.  He also carried a cigar just like in the movie.

Wolverine
Wolverine

Wolfman:  
This costume’s items are pretty minimal.  Purchase a wolfman mask then just add a plaid shirt and blue jeans.  Adding pieces of fur to the costume, ripping the shirt a little and wearing furry hands are all a big bonus and tie the costume together. 
Wolfman

Roman or Toga
We loved this one.  Use a white sheet, a white baggy dress or large long white shirt.  Drape a colorful piece of material across one shoulder and pin on the opposite waist. Wear sandals and add a head band of golden leaves.  A snake arm band or bracelet looks great too.  We wore these costumes in the early 1990’s.  
Roman or Toga from my younger years

Bride:  
I can not tell you how many wedding dresses are hanging on thrift store racks! And you can pick one up for under $10.00.  Add a bouquet of flowers and lace for a veil and the costume is good to go!

Bride Costume

Bride and Groom Zombies:  
Speaking of wedding dresses that are hanging by the dozens in thrift stores.  That also applies to men’s suits too.  With the T.V. show "The Walking Dead" the top watched cable show, zombie costumes are really popular right now. Turn those wedding dresses and suits into Zombie costumes!  Just rip them here and there and add fake blood.  Stuff a pair of pantyhose to use as guts. Makeup and blood applied to the face will complete the zombie costumes. 
 
Zombie Wedding Party
Zombie Cheerleader:  
And since we’re on the subject of Zombies, we’re big OSU football fans so of course our dead zombie cheerleader was from Michigan.  This costume got a lot of attention and comments.  Use whatever team you dislike (or like).  Dress in the teams colors with a cheerleader’s skirt.  Put your hair in pigtails and ripe up the costume a little. Add smudge marks to the costume and zombie makeup to complete.  We also added iron on letters to the yellow vest and pompoms.


My granddaughter Kelsey as a Zombie Cheerleader

Prom Zombie:
Use a prom dress left over from high school dances or find at second hand store.  They usually have dozens.  Add face makeup for a just dead look.  Practice the Zombie walk and groan and add a fake human body part.  Costume complete.
 
Another Granddaughter as a Prom Zombie

Bandito:  
Most of us have in our possession that weird blanket rug thing no one likes, usually picked up on vacation.  They’re also easy to pick up at second hand stores.  Just wrap the blanket around you, add a sombrero, fake mustache and eyebrows and you’re done!  Adding a toy pistol or squirt gun and holster, spurs on cowboy boots and rifle shells just pushes this costume into awesome.

Bandito

Farmer:
Wear overalls or jeans and a flannel shirt.  Add a straw hat, bandanna hanging from the back pocket and chew on a piece of straw to make the costume believable.  Add your kids or dogs as part of the costume too! For our dairy farmer costumes, we dressed our dogs in cow outfits.   

Dairy farmers and their cows
For a strawberry farmer costume my daughter dressed our granddaughter in a strawberry outfit. My daughter Jami found the strawberry costume used on Craigslist for under $10.00.
  
My daughter the strawberry farmer
My strawberry granddaughter Maddie

Witch: 
Adult Witch: Sometimes adult costumes can scare little kids so I try to keep mine cute, not scary.  For a witch, any black outfit or dress will do along with pointy black shoes.  Purchase a witch’s hat and broom.  I added orange and black striped socks for fun.

Adult witch costume

Child Witch:
I used Halloween material to cover a basic black witch’s hat and used the extra material to tie around the shoulders as a cape.  Green face, a black wig, fake nails, and striped socks all add up to make the costume one of a kind.

My granddaughter as a witch

I hope you are enjoying the wonderful Fall weather.  It has been beautiful here for the last week.  
I finished our costumes, my husband and I are Pilgrims this year! 

Elizabeth

And remember, don’t forget your pets!

Our little devil

Josie the Bumblebee



Pattern Savers


Pilgrim costume
Storing and Protecting Patterns

I know there are not as many people who sew as there use to be, but for those of you who still do this might come in handy.

I just finished sewing the parts I need for my Halloween costume to wear to our annual Fall Party
This year my husband and I are going to be Pilgrims!

I have been making the kids costumes (and my own), along with curtains, pillows, doll clothes and various other sewing crafts for quite a few years now, so I have a stockpile of patterns.

One thing that always seems impossible for me is getting all the pattern pieces back into the tiny little envelope they come in.  
I just don't think the envelope was that small when I took the pattern out!


And repeated use of one pattern usually always ends up with the pattern envelope torn and useless.

Patterns never go back in the way they came out

I decided to store my patterns in quart size zipper bags.

Pattern in a quart storage bag

The ones I use are just a store brand and cost around $2.00 for 50 quart size bags.  

The name brands, like Ziploc, can cost around $3.00 or more for a box of 50. Still a good price per bag but you don't need brand name for this project.

At $2.00 for a box of 50 bags, it comes out to 4 cents a bag.  
This is a really cheap and easy way to cover and preserve your patterns, and the bags are see-through for easy viewing.  


I have in the past, tried the gallon size bags, but there is lots of bag left over that needs to be folded over in order to store neatly.  Plus gallon size bags cost a lot more.

Patterns in quart size baggies ready for storage

After putting each pattern into a bag, I then store my patterns and all my other crafts materials in plastic totes.  No dust, no mice, no mess and stackable

Old Barbie Clothes Pattern

A few women, including me,  are heading to Bedford, PA and the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival this weekend and I can't wait. I am not looking forward to cold and snow but love the up and coming Holidays!  I'm already thinking of Christmas ornament making.

Elizabeth


Monday

Moist Banana Nut Bread

I really adore bananas and use them in many dishes, try to eat 4 to 5 of them a week and even make my own homemade Banana Cream Pie.

There are many banana nut recipes out there and many are pretty good. But of all the Banana Nut Bread recipes I have tried, (and there have been many), this one is my absolute favorite.  It turns out moist and delicious every time with lots of banana flavor. 

I also like that it makes enough to eat now and enough to save a loaf for later.  This recipe makes perfect mini loaves for gift giving around the Holidays.

This recipe came from my husband’s cousin’s wife Casey Elder.  She posted on Facebook in 2010 about how wonderful this bread was and something like her whole house smelled divine from baking banana nut bread.  (Maybe that part I envisioned in my own head, lol)

Friday

Broccoli Salad

Retro Recipe: Broccoli Salad

This is an oldie but still a favorite with my family and great to serve at parties, potlucks, holidays and barbecues.

I actually do not remember where I first tasted this salad but think it was either in the late 1970's or sometime in the 1980's.  Yea, that long ago!  
Years pasted and one summer after having a nice crop of home grown broccoli I decided to once again look up the recipe.
Broccoli Salad is simple to make, has ingredients you may already have on hand and is delicious. 
And a great way to get kids to eat broccoli!

Broccoli Salad

Garden Fresh Broccoli
INGREDIENTS:

3 to 4 heads of fresh broccoli
1 small to medium red onion
1/2 pound bacon
1/2 to 3/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)



DIRECTIONS:

Fry bacon until evenly brown and crisp. Cool and crumble.

Cook bacon and crumble

Wash broccoli, remove stems and cut into bite-size pieces. Place broccoli into a large mixing bowl.

Wash broccoli and remove stem

Dice the onion.  

Dice the onion

Add the raisins and chopped nuts to the broccoli.  I use Sun Maid Golden Raisins because they remain soft and chewy.  Dark raisins or dried cranberries (Craisins for Thanksgiving) can be substituted.
If you have a nut allergy, just omit the nuts.

Add walnuts and raisins

Add the bacon and onions to the broccoli and mix all together. Set aside.

Add onion and bacon and stir well

To prepare the dressing: In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar together until smooth. 
I add 1/4 cup of sugar but if you want it a little sweeter add 1/2 cup.

Add vinegar, mayo and sugar together 

Hellman's mayonnaise is the best to use with this recipe.  If you prefer Miracle Whip you may want to reduce the amount of sugar. 


Mix the salad dressing

Stir dressing into the salad then chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours to blend flavors together.

Broccoli Salad ready to eat!



I usually serve Broccoli Salad year round, but also have it at our annual Fall Party,  served it at my daughter Jami's baby shower and as an added vegetable dish at Thanksgiving. 


Sunday

Pumpkin Martini


Hosting a frightfully fun Fall or Halloween party this year?  Since pumpkin has long been a favorite for fall, why not serve a pumpkin adult beverage?

I served this at our annual Fall Party and it was a hit. This could also be served to guests before Thanksgiving dinner.

This Pumpkin Martini is ideal for autumn, but is delicious any time. It blends the flavors of vanilla with pumpkin and spices, and has a maple and graham cracker rim to push this drink into taste perfection.

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin beer...... the recipes are endless.  And now that it's finally pumpkin season here's a pumpkin drink recipe, yea!

Another reason to celebrate Autumn!