Thursday, October 29, 2015

Painting Pumpkins

I hate pumpkins guts. Due to this I have a love hate relationship with carving pumpkins. This year for my Halloween party instead of carving pumpkins we are doing a caramel apple bar. More on that on a later post.  (Anyway back to the pumpkins). Since we are not doing them at the party I can do whatever I want this year. I decided I wanted to paint my pumpkin. It is of course less messy and I do not have to get my arms and hands full of goop.

What you will need to do this project:
A pumpkin
Acrylic paints ( teal, white, black, red, green)
Paint brushes (I used two large and three small brushes)
A paper plate to put your paints on
Paper towel
A glass of water (I have an actual tray to clean my brushes in if you are not that fancy this works fine)
Paper bag 

First you want to clean off that pumpkin really good they can be muddy. The back of my MINI Cooper knows this all to well. It was raining and I may have thrown dirty pumpkins on the leather seats. Whoops.

Once clean set up your work station. As you can see in some of my pictures my work station is constantly an organized mess. I do a lot of projects so it is organized chaos at all times. I always have a ripped paper bag laid down when painting so I do not get my gorgeous butcher block desk all full of paint. Ryan (the hubby) would die if I let that happen.

Make sure you have all the brushes you think you will need to start. No one wants to be digging around with paint on their hands.

I painted his nose first as I knew teal would require more than one coat of paint. I then moved on to paint the white in the eyes. I thought it would be fun to have one large eye and one small one. After that was done I painted the teeth for the pumpkin. Look at those buck teeth!

 Painting the cheeks red was a fun step and challenging because it is hard to paint a circle on a round pumpkin.

I then moved onto painting the black in the mouth. This is where you want to make sure you wipe your brush off if you get any white on it. Use that paper towel for this!

Once this was completed I could start to go in and do the fine details like outlining the mouth, eyes, nose and cheeks. I also decided to draw on some crazy eye brows.

Notice the paint all over my paper bag? Protecting your working surface is so important.

The very last thing I did was add the green eyes to my funny pumpkin and the white to the cheeks.

For my very first painted pumpkin I think he turned out fantastic. What are you doing this year are you carving or painting? I hope this helped you see there are other options than carving out there.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sugar Cookies

This week is a busy week. I am working a lot of overtime and trying to still manage to prepare for my big Halloween party this weekend. I plan on sharing some of my all time favorite recipes with you still. Today I am sharing a family cheat with you though. Every year for Christmas I have my girl friends over and my mom to decorate cookies. (I know it is Halloween week stick with me!) There is no way with the hundreds of cookies we do that I could home make all of the dough for the sugar cookies. I mean I could but who has time for that? So, when I am in need I sneak off to my local grocery store (Festival for you local people) and I buy a tub of dough. The tub of dough makes around 50 cookies.

For the party I wanted the cookies to be festive so I used my trusty pumpkin cookie cutter. I threw some flour down on the island in my kitchen and started rolling and cutting the cookies. We have done a lot of experimenting on what works for this process. Here are some hints on what works to make awesome shaped sugar cookies.

#1. Make sure your dough is cold. Not frozen but cold. I take my dough out of the freezer at least an hour before use and put it in the fridge. The colder the dough the better the cookies look and the less they spread all crazy.
#2. Flour, flour and more flour. You are going to need flour for your counter, for your hands, for the rolling pin, for the cookie cutter and the spatula you use so the cookies do not stick to everything. Use it liberally on everything. You may look like a mess but that is okay.
#3. Wear an apron. My mom made me a really cute one this will help you from getting cookie batter and flour all over your clothes.
#4. Parchment paper. I am blessed with double ovens at my house. What that means is that I can quickly bake 50 cookies in an hour. I do not like using a ton of cookie sheets though and I want to be able to remove the cookies quickly and reuse the cookie sheet fast. You can use two cookie sheets and quickly swap out cookies by pulling the parchment paper off the cookie sheet and cookies onto a flat surface to cool. I use my wood cutting board to cool the cookies. See how happy the cookies look on the parchment paper!
#5. Oven temperatures should be monitored. The tub of dough said to have the ovens at 350 degrees and to bake for 7-11 minutes.  Here is the kicker all ovens vary. My top oven cooks at a much lower temperature than my bottom oven. I sometimes refer to the bottom oven as hell as it burns everything. Therefore, I can set them both to 350 degrees but I need to watch the cookies and make sure I take them out before they burn. I always burn at least one batch. Whoops.

Here are the cookies in the top oven getting all golden brown.

#6. Let the cookies cool. This is important for many reasons. You want to make sure they are cool so they do not bend or break when you try to stack them. I do not know about you but I do not enough space for 50 cookies to cool sitting out currently. (My kitchen table is being worked on by my hubby which is another blog post on its own) Therefore, I have to stack the cookies after they cool for about 5 minutes then stack them. It was fine and they cooled like this until it was time to frost them. Here they are chilling. Make sure you allow enough time for them to cool or the frosting will melt off of them into a puddle.

#7. Toppings are important. A good topping on a cookie can make or break the cookie. For Christmas cookies we always use cream cheese frosting. It is fantastic. Today I used some really fun frosting from my mom. Caramel apple and maple bacon. YES, bacon and there are even little bacon bits to put on top. You can really top your cookies with anything or even eat them with nothing on them at all. Sorry, I was so focused on decorating and trying not to eat all the frosting out of the tubs I forgot to take a picture of the finished cookies. They look and taste delicious.
 #8. Storing. I actually have specific Tupperware I keep just for cookies.  You want something that you can layer the cookies in. In between each cookie layer add parchment paper so that the cookies do not stick together. Make sure you allow the cookies to sit and dry after frosting for at least an hour before storing or the frosting is going to stick to everything. Trust me it is not pretty.

Now I just need to find the willpower to save them for the party this weekend and not eat all of them. I will be temped as they sit in the containers. Dreams of bacon in my head!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today Is A Gift

My husband is a rather positive individual and always knows how to make me smile. He shared some rather beautiful poetry with me today that I would love to share some with all of you. 

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time from the movie Kung Fu Panda-

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

Ryan (my hubby) was curious about the origin of this quote and found this insightful information-
In the 1902 book, "Sun Dials and Roses of Yesterday: Garden Delights..." by Alice Morse Earle, it is noted that the words "Time Waits for No Man" is a play on words or punning device of "gnomon" that has been used on sun dials. A gnomon is a pointer on a sun dial. Somewhere along the way came the full quote which has been truncated by some to your version. 

The full quote often reads: "The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present." 

I find this sentiment to be beautiful. Things are going to happen in life and we cannot control we have to let it go. We have to "let it be" as my tattoo and the Beatles say. Let us take every day and cherish it as a gift and something to be relished with zeal.

 To bring some laughter to your day here is some of the loves of my life being sassy.

Luna is the husky that was digging in this picture and Stella is the Norwegian forest cat in the other picture sitting on a box. 

I hope you are able to do something loving for others today and try to enjoy some part of your day. Even if it is like me watching the sunset on the way to work. It was  fantastic and I would have taken a picture to share with you but I was driving. 

Until next time~

XoXo Emily 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crock Pot Ham

Ham. My husband loves it! A couple times a year he asks for it. I am totally okay making it because I can use some of the ham for pea soup. The lovely thing about making things in your crock pot is you can set it and come home to delicious things. I use mine about once a week. This recipe is a lot of trial and error through the years.

What you will need-
Ham (try to get bone in. I could not find one in the size I wanted with the bone in so this is not bone in)
A can of coke (at least 8 ounces)
Brown sugar

Put the ham in the crock pot flat side down. I always try to get a ham that is between 4-8 pounds. Anything bigger tends to not fit in there. Trust me many times I have had to cut off chunks of meat to cram the ham in the pot.

This is when I add the 8 ounces of coke. You can substitute a lot of types of liquid here.
Some additional options-
Root beer
Pineapple juice

I like to add some sort of liquid that has acid in it to make the ham a little tender.

Now it is time to add  that tasty brown sugar. I would say on this ham I rubbed about 1/2 cup of sugar on the ham. The amount you use is going to vary on the size of your ham. This ham was a 5 pound ham with no bone. I really wish it had the bone in but alas the grocery store failed me this shopping trip.

Does this not look extremely tasty?
I let my ham cook in the crock pot on low for 8 hours. All you are really doing is heating up the meat if it is pre-cooked. A lot of other recipes state that 4 hours is enough for cooking/warming time. That is fine but I am a working women so it gets to sit in there a tad bit longer. I have a warm setting on my crock pot and it keeps the meat warm after cooking if I am not home right at 8 hours. This is fantastic with all the long hours I put in at my job. We ate this ham for dinner last night and it was perfect. Smear some mustard on a slice and it is heaven. I will be using left overs for pea soup tomorrow. Hope you break out that crock pot sitting in your cabinet gathering dusk soon!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

DYI Stained Glass Windows

Sometimes you take on projects without realizing how they will be extremely time consuming. I wanted privacy in my room that I turned into a closet. This room faces the road so if you are getting changed and things you want privacy. I went on the internet and bought a magical product called Gallery Glass. As you can see in the above picture all the work I had to do was totally worth it in the end. I may have had a sore back and tired hands after 3 hours of doing this though.

Things you will need-
Gallery Glass (1.5 bottles per window)
Paper towel
Putty scraper
Tooth pick 
Drop cloth (not shown)

The main reason I wanted to do this project was to get rid of this gross white film we were forced to use. This film does the function of privacy well but it is ugly. From the road it completely whited out my windows. This was problematic because the rest of my windows on the front of my house were clear. Therefore, I had mismatched windows and it drove me crazy for about 2 years.

The first step was removing this white film. It took me a half hour and a lot of strength to remove this film. Make sure you have your drop cloth all set up under you ladder. Once removed you want to work on cleaning the windows and scrapping off any left over glue remaining from the film. I used the knife to start the process of peeling the film and the putty scraper to removed the left over glue. To remove stuck on glue I sprayed the window with Windex and scraped away the glue.

Now you will want to start applying the gallery glass to the windows. It looks and smells like glue. Do not freak out that it applies white and it will dry clear in about 8 hours. I applied it to the windows in a swirl pattern. As I went I would go back through and pop any bubbles that formed. I used the tooth pick to do this. As I was popping bubbles I would also add small circle patterns to the gallery glass using the tooth pick. This left my final product with a ton of awesome texture. If your gallery glass starts to run (as seen in the picture) it is okay. This product is easily removed with a paper towel piece if you get some on the frame of the window. You also should have a drop cloth or something on the floor in case you get some stray drips. In all it was not a messy project. The process of adding the gallery glass took me almost 3 hours with a break for lunch. I did take some tiny breaks because my mom came over to watch me work on this.

This is the finished product!
I have to do 3 more windows in this room. We also bought some really nice sheer window treatments to go over the windows. This way we have our privacy but still have natural light coming though. Overall I am rather happy about the outcome and now my windows will all be one uniform color from the road. Hope to do the rest of the windows soon.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily 

UPDATE: Finished the four windows with my hubby last night. I am so glad to be done with this project. The windows look fantastic but boy was it a ton of work. I would say this project took me 7 hours with 2 hours of help with my husband. Therefore, 9 hours in labor. I owe that man some cookies! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

I am going to let you in on a secret. This is the most requested salad that I make. Hands down it is something my hubby requests the most. They make something similar at the local grocery store that they ask a ton of money for. My mom turned me onto making it myself and we have it all the time now. This salad is awesome because you can add really any veggies you want to it and it turns out fantastic.

Here is what you need:
2 boxes of pasta salad mix- I use an off brand but a good example is simply salad.
4 stalks of celery
1 cup of carrots (about 2 carrots)
1 cup of sweet peppers (about 4 peppers)
1 cup of tomatoes 
4 string cheese pieces
1/4 cup zesty Italian dressing

Optional toppings:
 Black olives, onion, avocado, broccoli or even cauliflower
The options are only as endless as your imagination. In this recipe I omitted the onion because I was making this with my nieces and nephew in mind. I usually always include it.

Start by boiling your two noodle packets. Follow the directions on the pasta salad box otherwise. I usually just cook them till they are done by tasting one or two pieces as they cook. Rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process. I usually throw them in my giant colander and run cold water over the noodles for a bit.

Time to cut up those peppers, celery, carrots, tomatoes and cheese!
Make sure everything is cut up into bite size pieces.Then add in the pasta to this mix in the

We now want to make the salad dressing box dressing. Weew, that seems like a mouth full. There should be two dressing packets. In general they usually call for 3 tablespoons of cold water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil/vegetable oil each. Since you have two packets you want to double that. After mixing it should be a pretty green color. Mix that into your pasta  mix that is already in the bowl. Now here is my top secret trick.......

Zesty Italian dressing. You can buy any brand you wish but mix some in. Maybe about 1/4 a cup. Then right before serving add a little more to loosen up the pasta. It can sometimes dry out and adding a little here or there really helps stop the pasta from getting gummy.

Here is the final product. Is it not the most tasty looking thing? I made this for dinner last night for my family. They seemed to rather enjoy it. Even the little kids. I mean who does not love chunks of cheese in their salad?

I hope you love this salad as much as everyone I know does. I will be eating a huge helping for lunch today that is for sure.

XoXo Emily

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fresh Fruit Salad

Dinner tonight is to celebrate my mother in law's birthday that is this weekend. In celebration I will be sharing the side dishes I made in the next couple days here. This is a recipe my husband thought would be fantastic.  It is rather good I ate some (for scientific research of course) before putting it in the fridge last night.

Here is what you need:
3 apples-  I picked three different kinds to add different textures. Fuji, golden delicious and  red delicious. 
3 pears
2 limes
2 peaches- They are out of season right now so I used 2 cans of peaches. 
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup honey 

Then you can chop up the peaches. This is what one can looks like in my bowl.

At this point you want to add some lime juice 1/2 a lime to the pear/peach mix to stop everything from browning while you work on the rest of the salad.

 This is what it will look like after you add all the pears, apples and peaches. Some thoughts on the apples. I like to cut mine in half, peel them to remove the skin and then chop them up omitting the core as I go.

Now you want to add the rest of the lime juice. You should have 1.5 limes left to go!

Time to add the sweet stuff. Add your 1/4 cup honey. Is my honey bear not the cutest thing ever? Once you add make sure you give the salad a good mix. This would be a good time to add any seasonings you want. I add a dash of salt to mine to bring out the flavors.

Time to chop up that 1/4 cup of mint. You can add or take away as you see fit. I am a mint lover so I tend to add a lot to my salads. This really ramps up the freshness of the salad and pulls it all together. You can really add mint to any fruit salad. In the summer I love the way it pairs with watermelon.

Then you want to mix and make sure that the mint is evenly distributed throughout the salad. 

Here is the finished product. Looks fantastic and ready to be shared by the family tonight.

I hope you can make this salad soon and take advantage of all those fall apples and pears that are in season right now. Remember fruit salad is so versatile you can omit or add all kinds of fruit.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Making the perfect bar cart.

Today we are going to talk about booze. 

Last year my husband (Ryan) and I decided we needed to have our things to make drinks upstairs where we host our parties. We had a full bar in the basement but it did not make sense for people to go into our basement to make a mixed drink and then have to come upstairs again. What is a girl to do to fix this you ask? I have a wonderful family and my mother supplied the cart minus the glass that was in it originally as that had long ago broke. My father in law makes butcher blocks and he made me two custom pieces to fit perfectly in the cart. We then proceeded to stain them in the bathroom since it was winter and I swear I almost died from the fumes. I also hand painted the cart itself and wheels because the cart was chipped/aged from sitting outside on my mom's porch for years. I think the cart itself turned out fantastic. 

But onto the booze!

Now that I had this amazing cart I had to stock it with everything you need to make some excellent drinks. 

 Here is what you need for staples-
Vodka- Smirnoff is a good option that is not crazy expensive. 
Southern Comfort- I use this to make my old fashions and add to hot drinks like cider. 
Gin- You need a good quality gin do not skimp and get the cheap stuff. Tanqueray is my favorite and I can buy a giant jug (seen here) at Sams Club for a decent price.
Whiskey- Our whiskey in this picture is wearing a packer cheese head. Can you tell we live in the land of green and gold? People will drink this on the rocks or with coke a lot of the time. We have a bottle of Kessler's currently. 
Brandy- I have a bottle of honey that I add to punch. 
Rum- This is a staple for people to mix with coke. 
Things not shown that you should think about having-
Tequila- People love this with juice or for shots. I am not a big fan so I do not regularly have it. 
Bourbon- Did you know this goes fantastic on ice cream? 

 Utensils that you will need-
Shot glasses- You may think you can make the perfect drink without it but some people need these to measure. (cough cough) me.
Shaker- My shaker works double time to hold all my mixing spoons when not in use. If you want a solid martini you need a good shaker. I have a great one that allows you to measure based on the drink you are making and has a built in strainer. 
Straws- I found this little gem of a straw holder at an antique show. 
Mixing spoons and stir rods- As you can see I have a bunch that I have accumulated. I know it is October but my snowmen get used year round. 
Ice bucket- To hold ice. I am not a fan of people digging in my freezer to get ice. I have an ice maker but it is in my freezer which is silly I know. I found this bucket in the same place I got the straw holder. What a steal! 
Wine opener- I have a great electric opener I received as a wine gift. I try to hide it in the corner of the cart because it is boring looking.

 This is an image of my bottle opener and an old school shot measure stick (I am not sure if that is the technical term for that item but I will call it that anyway).
 This is a good image of the total cart. Why is there a sugar bowl you ask? That is for the most delicious old fashions of course. Plus it looks cute on the cart. 
Storage is important on a cart and you want to use the space wisely. The bottom of the cart houses the glasses we use the least. The majority of our glasses are in the kitchen. As you can see margarita glasses take up a ton of space.

I hope if you take the time to make your own bar cart or bar in general this will be helpful to you. 

XoXo Emily

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Time is an interesting thing. It trickles by so fast that before you realize it you have had a year pass you by. I need to get back into crafting and blogging.

So.. Let us start with a general life update before we start with my millions of craft updates shall we? 
#1: I am married now to my wonderful supportive husband for two years now. what what!
#2: I went on a life journey and lost 50 pounds. I eat pretty healthy now and am addicted to Zumba.
#3: I got a new car. HELLO Duke. Pictured below.  He is a 2014 MINI Cooper S. I am also slightly addicted to him.

 Crafting/cooking/baking. Get reading for a ton of fun new posts on these topics. I have started having more time since summer settled down to start doing things again. yippy!
XoXo Emily