Watch a “feel good” video today!

My friend shared this video today on Facebook.  I wanted to share, it will put a smile on your face.  And don’t we all need that?  Especially on a gloomy, gray Wednesday like today.

Plants vs. Zombies Halloween costumes

We are going with a Plants vs. Zombies theme this year.  For anyone who hasn’t played this highly-addictive and simple game yet, you must try it!  The boys love it.  So, they decided to be Plants vs. Zombies this year.

K is going to be a zombie.  He initially wanted to be the “football zombie” but I was hesitant about the helmet/pads thing and where to get those items, so I convinced him to be just a regular zombie.  For some reason, the zombies look like business executives.  So I bought him a brown corduroy blazer from Gymboree on clearance, and a red tie (that I figure we can re-use for some event at some point in time).  Now, he needs the white shirt and pants.  Hmm…I’m still working on those, but I saw this great idea over on Betz White’s blog for putting “zombie skin” underneath the torn pants.  So, I’m going to try something out with that.

J decided to be a peashooter.  Initially, he wanted to be a hypno-shroom, but I thought that might give the wrong impression (lol) and the idea of making a mushroom costume seemed a bit daunting.  Of course, a peashooter costume wasn’t probably much better.  It actually came together rather well.  First, we made a hood out of dark green fleece from a random Halloween pattern that was supposed to be for an animal jumpsuit with a hood and collar.

Now onto the peashooter part.  Here is the foam model that I used to glue the green fleece to make the head.  It’s a foam craft ball plus an egg-shaped one that I picked up at Michael’s and then trimmed off some sides, and glued together with tacky glue.  Thanks to my friend Katie for suggesting foam and glue!  I had visions of elaborate plushie designs at first.

I glued the fleece onto the egg-shape first going around.  Then, I glued the overlap onto the front piece, and then covered that up with a black circle of felt.  Then I made this random curved shape that I put around the top portion, and glued it around the top edges, but then hand-sewed it down onto the hood.  I couldn’t use the machine because the big foam under-structure was in the way.

I also added velcro to the chin portion of the hood and collar so that it would close tightly around their heads and keep the peashooter from being wobbly.

I added some leaves to the hood collar.  The leaves have a pipe cleaner through the middle to give them some sturdiness, and to help them bend.  It’s just two layers of fleece, with the pipe cleaner up the middle vein, sewed down on each side of the pipe cleaner, then sewn around the outside, and some random sewing through the middle to look like veins.  Then I just tacked them down onto the hood with a lot of zig-zag stitches.

Before adding the eyes

Then, added eyes and a little leaf on the back of the head.  Eyes are just black and white felt that I glued on.  Leaf on the back was just sewn, right-sides together on three sides, turned back inside-out, and stuffed with polyfill.  Sewed up the bottom, and hand-sewn onto the back of the hood.

Then, I made a brown poncho using this tutorial to be the “flower pot”.  Hooray!  It turned out so cute.  We also bought some green foam small balls (a bag of six) just for throwing around and pretending to be peas.

I’ll share the zombie costume later this week when it comes together.

Halloween costumes

Anyone want to guess what my boys are going to be for Halloween?

J's Halloween costume materials

{this moment::dogs in the fall field}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


Excellent hearty wheat bread recipe

Can you call it “wheat” bread when it’s not 100% wheat bread?  Eh, whatever, lots of whole grain goodness in this one.  I love King Arthur Flour.  It’s my favorite all-purpose flour, and I love to get their specialty stuff too.  It also helps that it’s in Vermont which is one of only three states where I can get UPS packages in one day.  So, I placed my order on Thursday morning and my package of goodness arrived on Friday afternoon, just in time to make some no-knead bread for the weekend!  Nothing like instant bread-making-gratification.

Bread with homemade blueberry jam

This is the Malted Wheat Flake Bread from the King Arthur website.  If you haven’t explored their treasure trove of recipes and community forums, go there now!  Great stuff.  This was honestly the best bread that I’ve ever made.  Not that I’m an expert or anything.  But it was super simple, although required special ingredients, so I suppose that’s a negative.  My standard no-knead bread made with a mix of white and wheat flours is good too, but this is a great hearty bread, perfect for dunking in soup or serving with cheese.  (Added: Hubby thinks it would be really good with sandwiches too.)

I used my standard no-knead technique, with the addition of about 2 minutes in the mixer with a bread hook.  Throw all the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  Mix with bread hook for about two minutes.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm location for 12-14 hours.  (My office closet has the furnace chimney in it, and is perfect for bread-rising!)  I prepared the bread at 10pm on Friday, and let it rise until about noon on Saturday.  Then, all I did was turn it out onto my Silpat with some flour on it (no sticking, easy clean-up).  Sort of shaped it into a loaf shape.  Placed a piece of parchment paper in a frying pan, sprayed parchment with non-stick cooking spray, and put in loaf, seam side down.  Cover with the plastic wrap, and let sit in the warm place again for about an hour to rise again.

Half an hour later, preheat my oven to 450 with my covered Le Creuset dutch oven in the preheating oven.  When the hour has passed, take out the steaming hot pot, pick up the bread in your parchment “sling” and put the whole thing into the hot pot.  Cover, bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.  Take out of the pot (use the parchment to pick it up), and let cool on a wire rack for an hour or two.

Super-yum!  When I’ve made whole grain breads before, they were really dense and didn’t have that really yummy/chewy crumb that is so tasty.  I think using the high-gluten Sir Lancelot flour, in addition to the tablespoon of vital wheat gluten (which I always add to my no-knead bread recipes), really made a difference.  And the malted wheat flakes have such a yummy aroma and add some great texture to the bread.  Let me know if you try it!  Or if you are a local friend, and want to borrow some malted wheat flakes, because they were buy 1 get 1 free, and I have a lot.

Flights of Fancy baby quilt

So, two weeks ago, Thursday, one of my best friends found out that she is having a baby girl after two boys.  She is very excited!  Since I was planning on seeing her a week from that day for our annual “girl’s trip”, I decided that I needed to make her something girly.  And what did I decide on?  A baby quilt.  Hmm….in a week?  Well, everything was going along really well until I sliced the tip of my finger off with my rotary cutter.  No worries…no pictures of that.

Flights of Fancy baby quilt

I found a fat quarter bundle in my stash from the Fat Quarter Shop of Paula Prass’ Flights of Fancy.  It had been languishing there for quite awhile since I hadn’t bought it for any specific purpose.  But, a-ha!  It was perfect.  I needed something quick and easy, and not finding anything that struck my fancy in my many quilting books/magazines, I made my own pattern.  Just really big squares/rectangles from all of the different FQs (there were sixteen in the bundle).  I sketched it out on graph paper to get the scale right, which was actually a very enjoyable process.

I was really proud of myself because I made the entire quilt from stash fabric, except for the binding which is a pink batik that I bought at my local quilting store.  I free motion quilted each square with a little bit of a different pattern.  Some were just all-over squigglys (there’s a real name for that, right?).  Some were wavy lines.  On the smaller rectangles, I just did a straight stitch (with my walking foot) around the inside of the rectangle.

So, there it was on Wednesday.  I was leaving the next day for my trip.  All I had left to do was attach the binding.  As I’m trimming up the quilt, whack!  Eek!  Thankfully I didn’t get any blood on the quilt, but it was pretty hard to sew the binding on after that.  I brought it with me and finished hand-sewing the binding on my trip.  Did you know that you can bring scissors with up to a 4″ blade in your carry-on on a plane?  Craziness.  But, helpful for me.

One thing that I made a “mistake” on when crafting my pattern was that after I was done with the big squares and I was testing out placement, I decided that it needed the white sashing in between the rows (which is Kona in snow).  However, by adding that 2.5″ of sashing, it made my quilt wider than a standard width of quilting cotton.  So when I did the backing, the backing was a tiny bit too small.  I ended up having to trim off some of the sides on the front.  Ah well.  Better than piecing that!  Actually, in retrospect, I should have made the patchwork on the back the opposite way so it added to the width and I would have been fine.  Next time.  Here’s the back (before it was quilted).  It’s Amy Butler Lotus Full Moon Dots in Lime.  That line is a great fill-in for so many things.  I need to get some more.

Back of quilt, before being quilted

And a not-so-good shot after I gave it to my friend.  I should have had the girls hold it up for me outside to get a better picture.  Oh well.  We were busy doing stuff like shopping and pedicures, and sitting around bookstores.

I wish I had time to wash it first because I’d really like to have seen how it looked all quilty and scrunchy.  But, it’s done!  And she was excited to have a pretty, pink quilt.

Halloween Flags

Halloween flags

Inspired by a recent post on the Twig & Toadstool blog, J (who is now 6yo) and I made these flags yesterday before dinner.  It was a quick project, and probably took about 45 minutes.  The pattern is a download from the Toymaker website.  There are four flag patterns to choose from – owl, pumpkin, cat and skull.  Like Twig & Toadstool, we went for rainbow paper instead of spooky/Halloween paper.  J chose two of each design, and picked which color paper each would go on.

Then, he cut out the straight border lines on the top and side, as well as the scallop bottom.  I did the inside cuts with an x-acto knife.  Then we used a glue stick to attach some shiny tissue paper to the back.  To hang the banner, I folded the top down about 1/2 inch towards the back, and ran a length of baker’s twine through, and then taped the folded part down.  Since I hung it in the window, and you can’t see the back, it’s not important that the back look as nice as the front.  Then, we have these odd draw pull knobs on our window molding from where the previous owners had a valance hung.  So, I tied the baker’s twine to a few of the knobs and voila!

You can’t really tell in the pictures because of the morning sun casting a shadow, but the paper is bright blue, green, purple and yellow.

I love it!

Adding a new picture which shows the colors of the flags.  Such a fun and easy project!  I need to think about how to adapt the concept for Christmas.