Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Teaching Tuesday: Spooktacular Stories Day

I might do this on the regular....or this might be the only post ever.  When I'm not crafting or traveling, I teach.  My LOVE is lesson planning.  I'm a reading specialist, so I do a lot of school wide activities and test prep fun.    I love creating themed lessons.  Yes, I know there is a place to make/buy/sell lessons, but right now I'm not there.  I've been blessed with an outlet to make money (a very little bit) via ads on a place where I can give stuff away.  So.....maybe I'll get my act together and share the actual plans with TEKS and Objectives), or maybe I won't, but here is something I planned for my school on Halloween.
We have some families that do not celebrate holidays, so I was hoping by picking spooky stories this year (with one exception) we could do some school wide activities.
BOOK ONE:  I pulled Hallo-Wiener and provided some reader's theaters (just google it, there are a ton you can print for free), big letters that spell out Halloween to use to make words, and a sequencing activity (also found free via a google searching.  PTA also generously donated some flashlights to be able to do some dark reading.  I found a reader's theater about the history of spiders for the classes who would not be able to use this book.
(Bring on all the drama TEKS.)
BOOK TWO:  Creepy Pair of Underwear  Seriously, who doesn't love underwear?  We are actually doing this one last.  The gist is this bunny thinks he's brave enough to wear these creepy underwear, but decides the glowing is too spooky and he can't sleep....so he spends the rest of the book trying to get rid of the underwear, but they keep coming back (he even sends them to China and they come back in a package).  At the end of the story, he embraces them and they are hanging all over his room.  Each kid is going to get glow in the dark bracelets to take with them that day (and trick or treating).  There is a post card for them to write on and show what adventures they think the underwear went on next.  BUT THE BEST PART...I copied and blew up a picture of the underwear and made 500 copies.  The PTA helped me cut them out, and some parents are volunteering to come up and COVER the walls with them.  I'm going to have every teacher read it at the same time with a subtle message on the intercom and then we are coving the halls, so when the kids leave they are going to leave with 500 pairs of underwear all over the walls.  Here is the postcard printable.
Postcard Printable
(Great for letter writing, writing in sentences, predictions, inferencing etc).
BOOK THREE:  I Need My Monster  Seriously, the CUTEST book ever. And I found this youtube video and almost died.  This little kid is really put out b/c they want a scary monster and he/she keeps getting sent duds that aren't scary.  The PTA got glow in the dark monster fingers for each kid, and I made a handout with four monster pictures and I'm asking the students to create an ad to try to sell their monster via flipgrid.  (Great for adding descriptions to your writing.)
Monster Printable

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Creepy Spell Books

I saw this idea last year via Heidi Swapp.  I'm taking a couple of Halloween craft ideas to GMT on Monday, so I decided to bring this one along.  I'll post the video on facebook later, but here is a picture tutorial.

First, I got some clearance hardback books at Half Price Books.  They also sell them at the Dollar Tree.  I glued down some foam letters (they sell these at the Dollar Tree as well as craft stores).  I spelled out a few Halloweenish book words.

Next, I hot glued down some plastic creatures from the Dollar Tree.  I also cut some pieces of cardboard at an angle and pinned in some thumb tacks to the skeleton book.

Next up, I mixed some glue and water (you could also use Mod Podge).  I took paper towel squares and dragged them through the glue and then laid them on top of each book.  I pressed them down around the pieces glued to the top.  Once it dried, I repeated this to the back side as well.  The paper wrinkled a little as it dried, but this gave it more of a true old potion book feel.

I gave them a coat of black spray paint.  

Once that dried I took some gold paint and a paper towel and rubbed it and smudged it along the pieces dried below the towel.

It really helped the details pop out.  It was an easy project, and it will make a great place to prop up pumpkins and other d├ęcor for Halloween.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Halloween Sign

I got a scroll saw a year ago as a birthday gift.  It took me this long to finally get it out and play around.....now I know what it's capable of.....and hopefully it won't be another year before I do another project.  
I used vinyl to trace letters I printed out with my cricut and then cut those out.  The middle is really tricky and requires pulling the blade off and on, so.....lesson learned.  I painted them orange, and glittered the longer word, and speckled the Hello with paint splatter (with a toothbrush).  
I found this round wooden slice at Home Depot, and I painted it white.  I then measured out some horizontal lines with painters tape, and then sprayed it with black.  
I should have mod podged it before spraying so it didn't seep under the tape, but.....I took a sander and went to town to rough it up at this point so it wouldn't be so stark and 'smudge-ee' looking.  I glued the letters down with wood glue, and then add some felt flowers.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Vintage Halloween

 One of my current obsessions are old cardboard holiday cutouts.  I found this little pumpkin on Etsy sometime last spring....because it's never too early to start planning for fall.  I wanted to give him a home amongst my blowmolds this Halloween.
I also have been on a garage purge, and I found this old frame in my garage with some fun molding, so I used a can of dollar spray paint from Walmart to transform it, then framed the old pumpkin cut out that I taped to a piece of scrapbook paper.  It was a super simple transformation, and it helped me give an old frame new life!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Magnolia Mac and Cheese

I got the Magnolia cookbook b/c one of my friends had it at her house and I flipped through it and was so impressed by how easy the recipes were, and it turns out (so far), everything I have tried has been A)  Easy, but more importantly B)  Delicious.  The nutmeg in these macaroni really made the flavor pop.  Now....back to my research!
Magnolia Macaroni
Ingredients:  24 oz macaroni noodles, 1/2 c. unsalted butter, 1/4 c. flour, 1 T black pepper, 1 t. salt, 1 t. ground mustard, 1 t. nutmeg, 2 c. milk, 1 lb Velveeta cheese (chopped), 2 c. sharp cheddar cheese (grated), 1 c. Gruyere cheese (shredded)
1.  Boil macaroni in salted water according to package instructions.
2.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in salt, pepper, mustard, and nutmeg.  Add milk and cook until bubbly and thick.  Add Velveeta cheese and Gruyere cheese.  Cook and stir until cheese is melted.  Stir in pasta.
3.  Top with 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until cheese is melted.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Caramel Apple Salad

I realized calling this a 'salad' is a far stretch, but there are at least 2 healthy ingredients in there, and a salad is a salad is a salad, so.....leave your judge-eeee opinions on some other place.
I've been determined to make one of everything caramel apple right now, and so I had a lot of left overs from the last 17 caramel apple recipes and realized I could make this recipe (originally from The Gunny Sack).
It says it serves 12, but....who are these people?  They need to learn to up their portion size.  Maybe 8?
So if you are looking for a non-salad salad that could be called a dessert, but doesn't have to be, so let's not go there, try this one!
Caramel Apple Salad
Sugared Pretzels:  1 c. pretzels (roughly chopped-measure after chopping), 1/2 c. chopped pecans, 3/4 c. brown sugar 3/4 c. melted butter
Cream Cheese Mix:  8 oz cream cheese (softened), 3 c. diced apples (I peeled mine), 1/2 c. caramel sauce (I just grabbed the already made kind in the tub near the apples), 3 c. whipped cream
Sugared Pretzels:
1.  Mix together the pretzels, pecans, brown sugar, and butter.
2.  Spread on a large baking sheet (I lined mine with foil).  Bake at 400 for 7 minutes.
3.  Cool and then break into small pieces.
Cream Cheese Mix:
1.  Beat softened cream cheese until smooth.  Add in caramel sauce until smooth.
2.  Fold in whipped topping, apples, and sugared pretzels.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

One Pan: Bacon and Biscuits

These aren't blog quality photos, but I'm just over here living real life and I want to remember this trick.  I have a friend who is a GREAT cook and she is always telling me about tricks she does.  I've been wanting to try this one out forever, and it did not disappoint.
-Take a large sheet of foil and line a pan.  Place bacon on the pan (not touching).  Place it in your cold oven, turn it to 400 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.
 -Pull out your back.  Take frozen biscuits and dip them in the biscuits-dip both sides in the pan and cook according to directions in the same pan.  You don't need to soak up the grease, the biscuits are doing that for you (unless you just have ridiculous amounts, but....we are already kind of being ridiculous).
-Cook according to your bags instructions.
These turned out so delicious.  It's definitely not healthy, but sometimes...that's the best kind of breakfast.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Emmy Award Party

I headed to GMT today and shared some last minute Emmy Award watching party ideas. The concepts work for any awards party, and most of the things I pulled from around my house.
 I printed off pictures of all the different shows in the running for best Comedy, and I put them on toothpicks, and then tossed them in these little top hats I found at the party store (I saw that idea on pinterest).  You could also make your own top hats with paper.
 I also made some ballots to follow along, and then plates using some dollar store black plates, and striped papers I attached with the brad on the side so it opens and closes like a director's clapper.
Last up I made a little popcorn bar.  I pulled a bunch of seasonings, chocolate chips etc from my pantry.  It's  DIY flavor station using pantry finds.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Caramel Apples

 One of my favorite desserts is carameled apples.  When I was little I used to eat them all the time....and by eat them, I mean scrap the caramel off with my teeth.  Now that I'm older I still do that, but I also take a moment to feel thankful I still have my teeth to do the scrapping b/c heaven knows I haven't been kind to those two front teeth!
I've even made carameled apples in the past....but I only vaguely remember it and I remember the caramel running off.
I'm sure it was a complicated recipe, but in my old age, when I'm not feeling grateful to have teeth, I also look for simpler solutions, so.....apparently you can melt a 14 oz bag of unwrapped caramels and 2 T of water over low heat, coat your apples, and there is not dripping away (assuming you use a dried apple).  One bag does 6-8 apples assuming you don't eat half the bag before you dip the apples.  Not to say that happened, but, if it did happen, you'd only be able to make 4.  And....I totally count this as one of my fruits.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Vintage Fabric Projects

 I always see adorable old quilt tops and old fabrics when I'm out in about.  I'm sure if I dug deep enough in my closet I'm the owner of some of these fabrics.
I was recently shopping at several stores and saw some really cute ideas for using these fabrics in fun ways.
 At one antique store, they took old quilt tops, cut them into triangles, sewed the edge with a zig zag stitch and then sewed them to seam binding to make a banner.
 I also saw this adorable yoyo banner. They made oversized yo yos and sewed a rough circle around the middle so it layed flat, and then sewed together the yo yos to make a banner.  I'm definitely going to be using this onw in the not too distant future.  It's so quirky and adorable.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Onion Rings

Onion rings are so simple to make, but I rarely make them b/c oil is not my favorite house odor, but sometimes, it's worth it.  I made some last week for a Labor Day get together, and nobody complained about the scent because they are soooooo good.
If you've never made these...or really any fried friend (fried pickles, anyone?), the process is the same.
I soaked rings of onions I sliced about 1/2 inch thick in buttermilk overnight.
When I was ready to make them I pour about an inch of vegetable in a pan and set it to high (so however big your pan is, you need almost an inch of oil so your rings are able to float).
I put about four cups of flour and 4 T of seasoning salt into a dish.

I took the buttermilk covered rings, tossed them into the flour mix until they were well coated.  Then I put them in the hot oil.  Once one side in golden brown (about 3 minutes), turn them over.  The second side usually doesn't take as much time.  I put them on paper towels to drain the oil and added a little more salt.
These were gone so fast I never got a good picture, but....it was worth the effort and the house odor.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Caramel Cookie Bars

I like to eat icing with my icing.  In other words, I have a sweet tooth.  These bars are so sweet they even made me pucker in the best way possible.  The caramel centers reminded me of some toffee treats I had in Ireland, but the sweet cookie dough were all American.  This will definitely stay in my rotation.  I say caramel is the candy of September, but I think I can convince my theme loving self to let this recipe make an appearance in other months.  I found the original recipe at A Spice Perspective.

Caramel Cookie Bars
Cookie Layer:  1 c. butter (softened, but not melted), 1 c. packed brown sugar, 1/2 c. sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 t. vanilla, 1 t. kosher salt, 1 t. baking soda, 2 1/2 c. flour, 2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Caramel Layer:    10 oz soft caramels (unwrapped), 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1.  Heat oven to 350.  Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil on the bottom and up the sides.  Spray it liberally with cooking spray.  
2.  Use an electric mixer to mix the butter and sugars until fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Add the eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  
3.  Add the flour a little at a time.  
4.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  
5.  Press half the dough into the bottom of the pan.  
6.  In a medium sauce pan mix the sweetened condensed milk and unwrapped caramels over medium.  Stir until the caramels are melted and the filling is smooth.  
7.  Pour your caramel mix over the pressed cookie dough.  

8.  Drop the remaining cookie dough in small clumps over the top of the caramel mix.

9.  Bake for 30 minutes (until the center is set).
10.  Cool completely, lift the bars out of the pan with the edges of the foil and cut into squares.
*The original recipe says you can freeze these.  Thaw individually and eat them later.  As if any of these will make it to my freezer....

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Freeze Ahead Breakfast Tacos

 I'm still working through the ingredients in my freezer I need to get rid of so I can refill it in hopes of all those snow days this year will bring.  Next up were these roasted potatoes from Trader Joes.
 This is not an ad, it's just an attempt to make space.  I cooked up the potatoes according to the package, and then I layered them with cheese and eggs inside tortillas.  It's important that you layer it cheese, then eggs, then potatoes.  This keeps the tortilla from getting to soggy.  In addition, let both the eggs and potatoes cool for about 10 minutes before you fill them up so they don't steam up the tortillas and make them ultimately soggy.
I rolled them up and tucked in the sides.  I wrapped each in foil and froze them and then I can pull them out one at a time to heat them up in the microwave.  I always eat mine with salsa because it was a condition in my Texas birth certificate, but....easy and filling breakfast are ready to roll this week.  I used half a package of potatoes, 5 eggs (cooked with a little milk), and about half a cup of cheese, along with 7 tortillas.  So, if you had a full package double that.  Basically, you do you (whatever that means), but it's a simple breakfast for using up eggs that are about to expire etc.

Friday, August 31, 2018

New Orleans Pasta

     About August, when I head back to school, I start dreaming of snow days.  I seem to think that if I fill my pantry and freezer for a snow day (which we haven't had in three years).....or a snow week (which has happened exactly one time in almost 4 decades of living here in Texas) that it will happen.  BUT, in order to fill the freezer, I must first empty it of last year's snowy dreams.
      So.....the first few weeks have been about using the frozen meats in my supply, which has me hunting down recipes to try, and when I saw this really simple recipe from mustlovehome, I had my doubts of how flavorful it could possibly be with so few steps.  It turns out it was soooooo delicious!  So, time to go stock up on sausage again b/c this is one I'd love to get stuck at home with on a snow day.
New Orleans Pasta
Ingredients:  12 oz of packaged smoked sausage (cut into thin, round circles), 8 oz of bowtie pasta (cooked according to package instructions), 2 c. of whipping cream, 1 T garlic (minced), 1 T Cajun seasoning, 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese (shredded)
1.  In a large skillet saute the sausage sliced until browned around the edges.  
2  Add the garlic to the browned sausage and cook for another minute. 
3.  Add the cream and Cajun seasoning.  Stir until blended and bring the cream to a boil  
4.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes (until the cream mix has thickened).
5.  Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan, stir until mixed and melted.  
6.  Add the pasta to the pan, toss to coat.  Serve warm.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Homemade Marinara Sauce

 I've been working through a list of 40 things I wanted to do in the year before I turned 40.  One was to make homemade noodles.  That experiment definitely needs to be redone.  Maybe the problem was I kept feeling like I was playing with playdough, and those it reminded me of what I imagine playdough taste like.  I can't confirm that...I probably ate it as a child, but I don't remember.  But....whatever those  pasta making issues were, the sauce I made to go on top WAS on point and I wouldn't change a thing!  It's almost an exact match to The Pioneer Woman's sauce, but this is how I did it (just a few additions).  I can't wait to try this out with some lasagna.  It was worth the simmer time!
Marinara Sauce
Ingredients:  1/4 c. olive oil, 1 yellow onion (diced), 5 cloves of garlic (minced), 2 large carrots (peeled and diced), 2 cans (28 oz each) whole tomatoes, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. black pepper, 4 t. sugar, 1 small can of tomato paste,  2 (heaping) T Italian seasoning, cooked pasta, fresh Parmesan cheese
1.  In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium.  Add the onion, garlic, and carrots.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  
2.  Pour tomatoes and juice into a bowl and use your hands to squish the tomatoes so the juices are released and they are broken into smaller chunks.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste to the onion mix along with your salt, pepper, sugar, and Italian seasoning.  
3.  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours (uncovered).  Stir occasionally.  
4.  Toss with pasta.  Top with cheese.  

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ephemera: Dance Cards

 I love all things ephemera.  As a crafter, I know when I'm working with 'vintage' scraps of paper like this, they won't last the length a 'fresh' piece would, but I just am in love with antiques.  I recently found this little set of dance cards at an antique store in Galveston.
 I have some of these from my great grandmother that are one of my favorite things b/c my great grandfather's name is scrolled across a line or 4.  I just love the idea of the ladies wearing these little cards on their wrist and etching in the names of gentlemen.
 I'm not sure what I'll do with these dance cards....something scrapbook-ish eventually....or maybe just some fun decor under a bell jar.
 But in the meantime....I'm going to let them tell me stories.