I don't mind spending on Halloween costumes -- it's my favorite holiday, after all -- I try to encourage the kids to alternate between buying a costume one year, and then making or assembling it the next. I've been kind of lax in enforcing it with the boys, so this year I redoubled my efforts to get them to make their own costumes, and save a few bucks in the process. As it turned out, I think I spent more on raw materials for this year's costumes than if I had just bought costumes from a store.... but we did have a great time making the costumes, and they ended with kickass costumes that will blow those generic store-bought costumes out of the water!
Today, October 22, is National Nut Day! No, not the crazy people kind of nuts, the yummy, nutritious snack kind of nuts. To celebrate, I'm posting a photo of one of my favorite kinds of nuts -- pistachios -- as well as a link to my recipe for Nutty Howloween Cookies_. Enjoy!
I've just realized that this blog is over 8 years old and has absolutely no mention of the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. This is a serious omission, because the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival is our favorite festival in the entire region (I did write about why I love the HMB Pumpkin Festival over on Silicon Valley Mamas a couple of years ago). We've attended the festival every year for almost a decade, and despite the crowds and traffic, we can't wait for the next festival to arrive.
This year, 3Po decided he wants to be a Chinese Dragon for Halloween. I put my creative hat on and helped him search for tutorials for make-your-own Chinese Dragon costumes. I found a great YouTube tutorial for a parade dragon and came up with a pattern based on their dragon head. I decided to make a small-scale prototype to see whether it would be feasible for us to make it without all the industrial equipment on the video. By this time, I had spent so much time on the project, I decided to turn the prototype into an American Girl doll craft! After all, dolls need Halloween costumes too, right?
I had some pureed pumpkin left over from last week's Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies, and since those were gobbled up pretty quickly, I decided to make another pumpkin baked treat. After all, there's no sense in letting perfectly good pumpkin puree go to waste! I just happened to have another box of spice cake mix (I always buy cake mix in pairs!), so I went back to The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book -- but I couldn't find the combination of ingredients I was hankering for, so I decided to use the cookbook's basic bar cookie recipe as an inspiration to create my own!
For this treat, I wanted a pumpkin bar cookie, with some cheesecake batter swirled in. I also wanted to add some chocolate chips, because let's face it, chocolate makes everything taste better. Here's what I came up with. The name -- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars -- is quite a mouthful, but then so is the treat.
Thanks to fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, most kids know that cotton is spun into thread, and thread is woven into cloth, but most kids these days have never seen a spindle or a loom in action, let alone know how to spin or weave. Most of the looms available in craft stores are the rainbow kind, but if you want to give your child a basic idea of how to weave thread into cloth, all you need is some yarn and a paper plate.
We first tried paper plate weaving at St. Fagan's National History Museum in Wales, and I couldn't believe how it kept all 3 of my kids occupied -- they were 11 and 8 at the time, and they hadn't done yarn crafts for years! They wanted to stay in the crafts center and continue weaving, allowing Alfie and me the opportunity to enjoy a romantic walk around St. Fagan's Castle (hey, when you have 3 kids, you take romance whenever you can find it!). The resulting circle is perfect as an American Girl doll rug! Head over to my latest post on Bedtime Math for step-by-step instructions (with photos at each step). It's a lot of fun, and it will keep kids of any age busy for hours......
It's almost October, and my fall baking season has begun! I've already stocked up on Trader Joe's pumpkin bread mix, and I've bought lots of pumpkin puree for those other times when I want to bake from scratch. My first baked treat of the season is a mixture of both: you start with a cake mix, but you add flour, eggs, and other ingredients to make it your own. This one is from The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book, and it's called Whole Wheat Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies. Since it has whole wheat flour and pureed pumpkin, I guess the author figured it was as least as healthy as the breakfast muffins you buy at your local bakery. I added chocolate chips, so I'm not even pretending that it's anything but a yummy treat :) These cookies are soft and cakey and super delicious. However, they're on the dry side -- so you'll want to have them with a cup of tea or a glass of milk!
This is usually the time of the year when I like to get crafty. I think the start of the school year and the excitement of October and Halloween gets my creative juices flowing. Whether it's a Lego minifigure organizer or Halloween decor or Halloween costume how-tos (for both dolls and humans) or a dessert recipe or school lunch ideas, my post output always tends to be higher in the fall.
The Disneyland Resort is a wonderful place any time of the year, but if you held a gun to my head, I would have to say that my favorite time to visit is in the Fall. Yes, you do get all the extended park hours in the summer and you do get all the holiday splendor in the winter and you do get all the excitement during spring break, but autumn at the Disneyland Resort is not to be missed. Here's why: