Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Monstrously Good Stuff!

Happy Halloween, people!

I get really excited about this holiday.
And yesterday I danced to the Time Warp in the kitchen as my 17 year old daughter watched in horror.
It was so wrong but it felt so right.
I love scarring scaring my children.

Speaking of that 17 year old daughter...

in less than 2 years she will be going to college!

So, I've been checking out some cool college campuses online.
And I soooooo want to visit Rhodes College in Tennessee!
It is Gothic architecture at it's finest and I would give my right arm (Zombie reference) to see this one in person!

Doesn't this look like a scene out of a Harry Potter movie?

This is the library at Rhodes College.

Buckman Hall

I think I would be so fascinated by the beauty of this school that it would be impossible to get any studying done!
And I would probably go around with a British accent and refer to people as Muggles while trying to cast spells with my closest friends whom I would call Ron and Hermione.
Even if those weren't actually their names.

 On to more immediate Halloween!

This will be the first year that my daughters will NOT be Trick or Treating.
They are going to be candy passer outers!
(Which sounds a bit like people who eat candy and then pass out but it's not.)

We make treat bags because it's easier than standing there with a giant bowl of candy while the kids rummage through.
It's not a garage sale, kid!  Just grab a handful and move on!

Anyway, my son and I put the treat bags together yesterday afternoon.

My husband helped him carve his pumpkin.

Which already had a rotten butt when they bought it.
And it leaked it's rotten butt slime on my entryway floor.

 But it still had one good side so they carved it and it's pretty good.
He was working on something like this:

But wanted something a bit more 'unexpected' so he went with this instead:


I spent part of the afternoon making Monster Cookies!
They are sort of like Frankenstein's monster in that they are made of a bunch of stuff that you throw into a bowl.

Monster Cookies
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup M&Ms
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I like MINI chocolate chips)
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

In large mixing bowl combine eggs and sugars.  Mix well
Add salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter.  Mix well.
Stir in M&Ms, chocolate chips, baking soda and oatmeal.  Mix well...again.

Drop by tablespoons or scooper, 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake 10-14 minutes or until lightly brown.
Let sit about 3 minutes to cool before removing to plate or wire rack.

Eat as many as you can before children arrive home from school!

Once you have made yourself sick eating as many cookies as you can, you will likely have some leftover because it makes a whole bunch!

You can eat them for breakfast the next day because they have oatmeal in them and that makes them practically a health food!

Or, you can wrap up a few in festive boxes to give as gifts!

 Or, if you prefer to share in single cookie allotments and keep more for yourself,
you can wrap them like this:

 (Those are CD/DVD sleeves by the way!)

Hope everyone has a safe and Spooktacular Halloween!
And don't forget to check every piece of candy for razor blades because apparently it's really easy to hide razor blades in candy.

If any of these show up in your stash, save them for me!
Because they are expensive.

À la vie et à l'amour

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

This is one of my family's new favorite dishes!
It also makes me feel very cultured and sophisticated when I make it.
Because it's an Indian dish that's popular in Britain.

It's a perfect dinner for Halloween night because it's ORANGE!

The original recipe appeared in the Chicago Tribune and I found it through then modified it slightly.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup plain yogurt (not vanilla - vanilla is NOT plain)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Garam Masala (you can find this in an Indian grocery store) 
 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Mix marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.  Put cut up chicken into the bowl and marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. 

After chicken is done marinating, grill or broil chicken until cooked through.
(I use an indoor grill to cook mine so I can prepare the sauce while the chicken is cooking.)

Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in spices.  Stir in tomato sauce.  Simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in whipping cream and allow to simmer about 5 minutes.

Add cooked chicken to sauce.  Simmer 5 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro.  Serve with rice*** and naan or pita bread.

***I use Uncle Ben's converted rice made with chicken broth instead of water.  It doesn't stick together and has a great flavor.  But you may want to use Basmati rice.


À la vie et à l'amour

Monday, October 29, 2012

Five Fall Favorites

Fall is my most-est favorite-ist time of year!

It's just so much easier to enjoy life when you aren't sweating like a pig.

(Which, as my 17 year old daughter pointed out, is an odd expression because pigs don't have sweat glands and therefore can't actually sweat.)

Pig sweat aside, here are five of my favorite things about fall:

1. Decorations 
I like Halloween decorations that quickly become Thanksgiving decorations with just a few simple changes.  More on the fall decoration quick change later!

DIY Front Door Wreath - adapts easily for any occasion/season (tutorial coming soon!)

2. Sweaters
For me, a warm and comfy sweater is like a little hug you can wear all day!  

Gidget doesn't necessarily want to wear a hug all day.
But she's so stinkin' cute in her sweater!

3. Walking Dead
In case you didn't know...Vampires are out!

Zombies are the new popular kids.

And Walking Dead is one of the best shows on TV right now!  (Sundays on AMC)
It's a Zombie apocalypse-soap opera-bloodbath... and it's so good!

No, that's not Santa Claus.
It's OneLeggedHershel who used to be just plain 'ol Hershel until he got bit by a Zombie and Rick had to hack off his leg with a flippin' axe!  It was disgusting!

And awesome!

4. Chicken Tikka Masala
Mmmmmm...this recipe quickly became one of my family's favorites!
It's also super easy to make and tastes great re-heated the next day!

"Must... have... more Chicken Tikka Masala."

Yes, it's good enough to make a Zombie give up people meat!

5. John Coltrane
There is something so soothing about Coltrane and 'cool' jazz.
I like to listen to him while I make dinner.

What's are some of your fall time favorites?

À la vie et à l'amour

Friday, October 26, 2012

15 Cheap & Easy Homemade Halloween Costumes

It's the weekend before Halloween and you still haven't decided on a costume?

Fear not my fellow procrastinators!
I have lots of cheap and easy ideas for homemade costumes for you!

They are all fun ideas for adults or kids and usually work for either gender.
 The ones we made cost less than $20 each using items we had on hand or were purchased inexpensively at thrift stores or other bargain stores.

Bunny & Mouse
My girls' costumes were made using inexpensive sweatshirts and sweatpants, felt, headbands and a glue gun.
We painted on some pink noses and whiskers and had comfortable (and warm) costume for a chilly Halloween that year. 

Sock Hop Sweethearts
My daughter had a school Sock Hop so we reused the poodle skirt and baseball style tee we had purchased for Halloween.  

Need a boy version?
How about a James Dean costume?
Try dark jeans cuffed once, a basic white crew neck tee, a red jacket and some slicked back hair.
Add loafers or black converse and you've got yourself a heartthrob!

60s Go-Go Dancer
This is one of my daughter's favorite costumes ever and most of it was purchased from the thrift store!

We bought the purple sparkly dress at a thrift store along with some tall black boots for less than $10 total.

The boots were spray painted glossy white*** and we added a plastic silver sparkly bangle bracelet, large white hoop earrings and a red pleather newsboy cap we already had.

Top it off with some blue eyeshadow, Bardot eyeliner and shiny light pink lipstick.

***Note - the paint on the boots began chipping off early in the evening so if you're going to spray paint some boots, you might want to prime them first!

Scary Doll
I loved this idea that my younger daughter came up with one year.

She used chunky black boots and a black dress she already owned.  
Then we pinned tons of large safety pins all over the dress.

We bought purple and back striped tights and purple mittens and we cut the fingertips off.

She put her hair in pigtails that she teased and sprayed to be really big.  
We added gothic 'doll' makeup by using black eyeliner to draw on some fake 'lashes', a doll 'smile' and some face 'stitches'.


Perfect for when you have about 5 minutes to come up with a costume for a party 
(and you're feelin' like a G.)

Jeans, white top with a flannel shirt over it (button the top button or two for true authenticity), a bandanna around the forehead, black shades and a chunky gold chain and some watches or other 'stolen bling.'  

Word to yo mutha', shawty!

Yet another 'I-need-something-I-can-put-together-in-5-minutes' costume

Grab your husbands worst shirt , smear some shoe polish on for stains, cut off some jeans, throw on some mismatched shoes (I like this look of one loafer and one golf shoe), grab an empty can and make yourself a cardboard sign to hang around your neck.

(You wouldn't believe how much money this guy made at the party he wore this to!)

And check out this kid version (he has mismatched shoes, too!):

Need it in the girl's version?
Check out these Bag Lady costumes:

Zombies are the new 'popular kids' (Vampires are old news, folks) and one of the easiest and cheapest costumes we've ever made!

We used my husband's old white t-shirt and my son's old jeans that we shredded, ripped and smeared with shoe polish and fake blood.  
Then we applied zombie makeup, stuck on a bloody knife-through-the head headband and we had an instant Zombie!

This year my daughter wants to be a PROM-BIE.  
I'm thinking thrift store prom dress, shredded, dirtied and bloodied and some cool Zombie makeup.

Old Codger
I loved this adult costume that we saw at a party several years ago.  
He even talked like an old guy which may have been partly due to the bubba teeth he was wearing.  

You can get everything he's wearing at a thrift store (or grandpa's closet) and can find bubba teeth and fake thick eyeglasses at a dollar store.

Need to make it a couples costume?
How about this Crazy Cat Lady costume as seen on Pinterest?

Pageant Contestants
Not your standard beauty queen but a 'Queen' nonetheless.
(My apologies if any Canadians were offending during the making of this post!)

And my pageant contestant costume one year...


Thrift store dress, white gloves, plastic tiara (placed askew on head), rose tied with ribbon or a bouquet, and a 'Miscellaneous' sash.

The key to this one is stuffing your bra really big to get that screwed-on boobs look (balloons would be great, too - the bigger the better), giant red lips drawn on and filled in, mascara running down your cheeks and REALLY big hair!

Get the look with glasses taped in the middle, suspenders, Star Wars tee (or some other Sci-Fi or video game themed tee), plaid skirt (or pants pulled up really high to show off ankles), goofy hair, and crazy socks. 

For a boy nerd, a button up shirt, bow tie and a pocket protector work great!

This picture also shows off my son's Pikachu costume!

We bought the hat on Ebay for about $5.  Ideally I would have used a yellow sweatsuit for the entire thing but it was no where to be found.  So, I used a yellow tee shirt and some brown felt to make the back stripes and the lightning bolt tail.  I had to make the yellow pants myself because I couldn't find yellow sweats.

This one was such a hit that after my oldest daughter wore it, my younger daughter chose it the following year.

We found the top hat at Hobby Lobby in the Christmas decorations and added a red satin ribbon around the base.

I used a really large white sweatsuit and fabric glued black felt 'blobs' that were cut out to look like giant pieces of coal. 

We made a carrot nose out of orange foam and string or elastic to hold it on. 
She added a scarf and boots she already had to top it all off!

Can you guess what this costume is?

Ceiling Fans
Works best if you can scramble up some cheerleading skirts and pom poms to add to your 'Go Ceiling' tee shirts.

What kind of clever homemade costumes have you or your kids worn?

 À la vie et à l'amour