Sunday, October 24, 2010

Altered Art

Yesterday Jonah and I visited a pumpkin patch, and we took some cute pictures of ourselves (with our iPhones... and yes, I did drop my iPhone while trying to take pics of myself, and yes, it did land directly in the mud, and yes, I did spend time today picking mud out of the headphone jack...).

I'm trying to get more familiar with PhotoShop Elements, so I played around with the stamp filter until I had this cool altered image.  I like it when experimentation leads to things I actually like, as opposed to just frustration!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

Tonight my husband surprised me with a pumpkin-carving date... which was quite a surprise, since in nearly 10 years together he has NEVER carved a pumpkin with me (I do it alone in the kitchen every year... confessions of a lonely holiday nerd).  To my delight, he decided that it was fun, so we're definitely headed to the pumpkin patch tomorrow to pick up a few more.

This picture cracks me up.  I love how my little punkin is looking slyly at his... and his is sort of spazzing out.  Kind of like their creators.  :)

Cross your fingers for me that tomorrow's forecasted storm waits until after the pumpkin patch.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Little Punkin Cookies

I have a new blog addiction... Bake at 350 has given me a new interest in cookie decorating! She makes the cutest little cookies, using royal icing and a technique called flooding.
I was inspired! Basically, you whip up a bunch of super firm, strong icing called royal icing. You use the royal icing to create an outline, and let it dry and harden. Then, you water down the icing a bit and use it to "flood" the inside of the outline. You end up with super smooth icing! Well, hypothetically. Maybe I'll get there in a few more tries. :)

This little guy was my favorite. I have a meeting after school tomorrow... I think these will be just the right treat to bring!

Apple Pie Filling

After my day of apple picking yesterday, I found myself with a whole lot of apples! Duh, right? But seriously, we're talking A LOT of apples. Because my mom decided she didn't want all of hers, so we're talking probably 15 pounds of apples.

So here's apple project #1: Apple Pie Filling. I found a recipe that supposedly freezes really well, and spent my Saturday night peeling and slicing 15 freshly-picked Jonagolds. I'm hoping to make the first pie sometime this week, and will probably save the other jars for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We're not usually big pie people, but I have a feeling that these jars will prove quite tempting peeking out of the freezer!

This recipe should actually be packed into 5 containers, as it will make 5 nine-inch pies. I just had to make do with what I had on hand!

Freezer Apple Pie Filling

18 cups thinly sliced apples
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
10 cups water

In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and set aside. Pour water into a Dutch oven over medium heat. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add to water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add apples and return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Ladle into 5 freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Cool at room temperature no longer than 1 1/2 hours.

Seal and freeze. Can be stored for up to 12 months.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Apple Pickin' With My Mom

Despite the torrential downpour we got here, today was the perfect apple-picking day.

My mom and I drove a little over an hour north, to Merritt Orchards in Bow, Washington.

We each got a super special apple-holding bag (read: plastic grocery bag).

It took us awhile to pick our apples, because we're both super picky. No worms in these apples!!

This orchard would make an amazing photo shoot location.

Mom tried to just pick the high ones, leaving the lower ones for little kids. These little kids were purely hypothetical, as we were the only crazies picking apples in the rain.

Man, those were the wrong shoes to wear.

We found some nests too, but we left those alone!
The final count? Ten pounds of Jonagolds! Yes, it sounds like a lot, but I have big plans for these babies...

And naturally we couldn't leave without warm apple pie a la mode. We climbed back into the car, wet and cold. We cranked up the heat and took off our shoes and socks and agreed that it was, all in all, a perfect day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Card-Making Party

Last night one of my co-workers hosted a card-making party at work. I'd never been to one before, so I was excited.

Okay, I have to tell you - this is the way to craft! This brilliant, artistic woman showed up with all of the supplies to make 4 different card designs. She had examples made, plus all of the fancy papers, embellishments, stamps, inks, ribbons, tape, glue, foam tabs, and envelopes needed. She even brought her die-cutting machine! I got to make 8 really cute cards. It was cheap - $10 total - and I didn't have any pesky leftover supplies to figure out storage for.

I made this cute little kangaroo pocket-card.

You know I love all things owl-related!!

I would have never come up with this design on my own, but I think it's very fun.

How cute is this - 5 little mini cards inside a nifty little box that we made with the die-cut!

Too fun!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Framed Art

Last weekend I took the Martha Stewart "What's Your Halloween Crafting Personality?" quiz, and learned that I am a Seasonal Crafter.

Martha knows me so well. It's true - when the seasons change, I want everything about my environment to change too. I want to be surrounded by the colors and smells of the season in my home.

Following this whim, I took some pictures off of our balcony on Sunday. We are so lucky to have this beautiful tree right outside our apartment, which changes to the most vibrant, beautiful colors every fall. I snapped a bunch of pictures - some of the naked leaves, and others with props like mini pumpkins, and then picked my two favorites. After a quick visit to the Walgreen's photo website and a slightly longer visit to the store itself, I had two very seasonal photos to temporarily install in my living room:

Seasonal joy!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

The pumpkin madness continues! Yesterday I also whipped up a double batch of Chelsea's awesome pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies. Here is her super-awesome recipe:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together:
1 c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin
1/2 c. oil
1 egg
In a large bowl, sift together:
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix gently.
Dissolve together and add to rest of ingredients:
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Fold in:
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. nuts
Stir until combined - do not overmix.
Drop rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake approximately 10 to 12 minutes. NOTE: Careful not to overcook. Cookies will be soft and moist.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pumpkin Hazelnut Muffins

After three weeks of searching and waiting, I finally found canned pumpkin puree at the grocery store!! Until last year, I never realized how tough it can be to find canned pumpkin, even at this time of year.

Apparently, Morton, Illinois is the center of most pumpkin production for Nestle (who makes Libby's, the most widely-available canned pumpkin in the U.S.). Last year, Morton got twice as much rain as usual, which made most of the pumpkins rot in the fields.

People were selling cans of pumpkin for $7 on ebay!

This year, the pumpkin harvest is looking good, but they're still catching up from last year. So when I saw canned pumpkin at QFC on Friday, I bought 6 cans.

You might want to stock up too, if you can find these little cans of gold. Who knows, they might be an investment towards Christmas money!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October Treats

Oh yum! A few treats I am hoping to try out at some point this month:

1. Candy Corn Cupcakes
2. Caramel Apple Cupcakes
3. Haystack Monsters
4. Nutter Butter Mummies
5. Oreo Mummy Pops
6. Owl S'mores
7. Chocolate Pretzel Candy Apple
8. Pumpkin Rice Pudding
9. Jack 'o Lantern Sandwiches

Click through the links for delicious ideas for festive feasts!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Decorating for Halloween

I just couldn't wait one more minute. I love Halloween, and I really love decorating for Halloween. Putting Halloween stuff out on October 1st means at least 31 days to enjoy it!!

Happy Halloween-month!!