Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

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.

How to weave an American Girl Doll Rug

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!

  1. Draw 8 lines through the center of a paper plate, dividing it into 16 equal wedges. Cut about 1" off the edge of the plate.
  2. Wind yarn through the slits formed by the cuts you made, forming spokes of yarn...
  3. ...coming across the back of the paper plate.
  4. Starting at the center, weave yarn in and out of the yarn spokes.
  5. Once your rug is the desired size, slip off the loops of yarn, cut and tie.
  6. Flatten your doll rug. Iron and starch if necessary.

Head over to my latest post on Bedtime Math for more detailed, 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......

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Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

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!

Opening a new door: Bedtime Math

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.

10 Reasons to visit the Disneyland Resort 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:

Die, Rats, Die!!

This is not a rat.


I don't care if that photo shows a CGI rat or a puppet rat or a guy in a rat costume. That photo sums up everything a rat is:  Scary. Dirty.  Vicious.  Nasty.  Gross.

And they're living in my house!!!

Wordless Wednesday: National Cheeseburger Day

Tomorrow, September 18, is National Cheeseburger Day!  My favorite cheeseburger is In-N-Out, what's yours?

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Our introduction to Scotch Whisky

Scotch whiskey

Going to Scotland without sampling Scotch whisky (note: in most countries it's spelled "whiskey" but in Scotland it's "whisky" without the "e"!) is like going to Napa without sampling wine.  When we decided to go on a road trip to Scotland this summer, we had visions of hopping from distillery to distillery, savoring different kinds of Scotch.  Alas, it was not to be; our whisky tour is going to have to wait till a future visit, but we did get to learn about whisky production and taste a few great whiskies on this trip.