Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween, The Final Chapter

It's the 31st and the Halloween season has finally drawn to a close. It's been a fun one, and here are the last bits of odds and ends from our adventures:
Here are the kids in all their cold weather candy-gathering Halloween glory. Sam was a knight, Anna was a beautiful (albeit toothless) princess and Josh was a dragon. Very cool. I just about had a meltdown sewing the older kids' costumes (Amber, when you're reading over this next year, save yourself some grief and just BUY THE DAMN COSTUMES), but the kids were happy and that makes me happy. We could barely keep Josh out of his "cosatoom" for the past week.

And don't ask me how I got wrangled into coordinating Sam's classroom party, but I did. It is such a sweet class and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I forgot my camera, but I did take some pictures of the final projects. First, we made skeleton sections out of dried pasta (a Martha Stewart Kids magazine idea from years ago that I had filed away).
And with the few minutes between the craft and going home, we played some Halloween "BOO"ngo with Bingo cards I made with this darling David Walker dingbat font.

And it's finally all over. Tonight, I'm gonna sleep like the dead. Seriously.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Anna's Cupcake Bash

Today was the big day! This was Anna's year to have a friend birthday party, and because her big day comes so close to Halloween, we try and make her parties as girly and frilly and fun as we can make them. After some major brainstorming, we decided that a cupcake birthday party would be just about perfect. First, I made her invitations using Martha Stewart's cupcake punch.

As each of the guests arrived at our home, they were given their very own apron which I purchased and then appliqued on pieced fabric cupcakes. I even finished the edges so they can be washed and washed and washed. They turned out so cute!

After everyone was here, they each had a place set for them at the table with their first cupcake to decorate. We had every type of sprinkle, topping, mini chocolate chips and four different tipped icing bags to decorate their cupcakes with. As they finished with one, they got another...they each ended up with 4 cupcakes to take home.

After cupcakes, we opened presents. After presents, we had cupcakes (on my new cupcake stand), ice cream and LOTS of giggling. Kinda comes with the whole "girly birthday" thing. Anna decided to have white cake cupcakes with pink frosting. The pearls were my addition. With Mint chocolate chip ice cream. Which would NOT have been my choice. But if you've seen Wicked, pink DOES go good with green...

As each of the girls left, they got their cupcakes, apron and a Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes book and some glittery cupcake stickers. When Sam had his Davy Crockett birthday party, we gave books away as party favors with coonskin caps and I loved spending the same amount of money on a book as I would on birthday goodie bag junk. So we did it for Anna's party as well.

And another birthday bash bites the dust.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Goodies

Tomorrow is Anna's birthday so I am busy putting the last touches on things for her "cupcake" birthday party this weekend and the cake and dinner for tomorrow. But I did want to share a couple of fun things I finished up this past weekend for Halloween.

These are a little teacher gift that I put together for the kids' teachers. We lucked out this year again and all three are dynamite. I found these cute little side-handled black star buckets at Tai Pan this summer and I filled them with candy corn taffy. Yumm-o. A little cellophane and a tag with the teacher's name printed on it and then stamped over with a spooky spider web stamp and voila.

While we were in Utah this summer, I stopped into Pebbles to look for school-themed paper and came across some of the cutest Halloween die cuts. I fell madly in love with this goofy spider, so this past weekend, I painted a 12" by 12" board I had in my basement black, Mod Podged some cute Halloween paper on the top and then added the spider. LOVE it. The little framed "Eat, Drink and be Scary" is a downloadable found here. Her husband also came up with a version of his own which is just as cute found here.

Have a great Tuesday!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sweet Home...Alabama?

That's right, folks. We're on the move. Again. We found out this week that Tony was selected to attend ACSC (Air Command and Staff College) in Montgomery, Alabama next summer. We're pretty proud of is a competitive selection process and we are excited for this opportunity for him and his career. It is a one year program and then we'll be moving again, hopefully finding a place to land for more than just one or two years. Yikes.

I must say, we've exhausted the entire northwestern quadrant of the country for places to live...I'm excited for a little change of scenery. And I'm ready for a little sunshine.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today Sucked

Everything I did today hurt. Everything reminded me of the hollow place my dad used to fill. Hurt because my dad wasn't there to call on the phone. Hurt because I know I can't touch him or hear his voice again in this life. Hurt because I know in my heart of hearts, he doesn't want me to be sad.

But I am anyway.

And I'll start all over again tomorrow morning, trying to find my way in a world without my dad in it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

McIllece Boys

This weekend was monumental. On Thursday, Donny, Dave (two of Tony's brothers) and Z (Dave's son) arrived in Spokane to go on a deer hunt with Tony and Sam. It was so fun to have a house full of McIllece boys, but a little bittersweet because this is a hunt my dad was supposed to go on. Sigh. The best part about these guys?? They were a JOY to feed. They loved everything I cooked.

But on with the story of blood and butchery! On Friday morning, the boys woke up early and drove north of Spokane to Colville, Washington to a private ranch that offers fallow deer hunts. I chatted with Tony about 10:00 that morning and he already had shot his buck, but they were all having a blast and seeing all sorts of animals and even getting some good chances to shoot. They finally wandered into the house about 7:00 that night. And oh, the story they had to tell. Z was the only other hunter to actually shoot a deer, a really nice symmetrical buck. BUT he was such a great shot that he actually killed TWO deer with a single bullet. I kid you not. A doe was snuggled up to the buck that Z shot and so the bullet went through the buck's lungs and into the doe's lungs but didn't quite have the velocity to go all the way through. So Z was able to find and keep his mangled up bullet that took out two deer with a single shot. Nice. And welcome to Washington.

(This is a picture of all the guys and Z's two deer. Tony's was already being processed.)

This is the photo I took of all the McIllece boys that were at our house this weekend. What a handsome group they are!!

Thanks for the fun visit!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sam's A Winner!

...but his mom might be a little bit of a loser.

A couple of weeks ago, Sam was sitting at the dining room table after school one night and I asked him what he was working on. He said he was doing his homework and I though it just looked like a lot of coloring, but hey, he was being quiet and happy so I let it go. Last week, he came home from school and said he had won a prize for Fire Prevention Month. I told him that was pretty cool and asked him what he had done to win, figuring he'd gotten his name pulled out of a hat. But, oh no, he said his DRAWING was selected as a winner from the entire 4th grade. I asked him if he had drawn it at school and he said no that he had done it for homework. Hence the lots of coloring on the dining room table. I mean I know I've been a little out of it lately, but how could I have not even looked at what he was drawing?? Dude, I must be a little more checked out than I think I am.

One of the perks of being selected a winner was to have his drawing put on display at the Base Exchange. So when the entire troop of McIllece boys we have at our house this weekend (more to come on that tomorrow) had to make a quick trip over to the BX, I had Tony take the camera and snap some pictures of the winning drawing and our proud boy.

So I could finally get a good look at the thing.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Picture Perfect

It has been a little difficult for me to get into the whole "Halloween spirit" this year, but this past week we finally got out our Halloween decorations. I don't have a lot...I'm kinda picky about Halloween decorations, but the ones we have, I really love. And when I saw this really fun project that Becky Higgins guest blogged about here, I knew it was something that was not only easy peasy, but would look cool with our other Halloween decorations.

I picked out a great frame at Target (they have some really great ones with wide photo mats), found some great damask print paper and the cute pumpkin at our brand-spankin' new Hobby Lobby. The pumpkin was a little big, so I did end up cutting about 1/2 " off the bottom so that it would lay flat against the paper. I really like the way it turned much so that it inspired me to do something similar for our visiting teaching ladies in November. I'll share them later. Even though they're already done. Gotta keep busy. That's my new mantra.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apples, Apples Everywhere

Remember my fabulous plan for working myself to death so I wouldn't think about "it?" Well, it is working great except it is SERIOUSLY cutting into my blogging time. I have so many pictures to upload and so much to share, but it will trickle in as I find a moment here or there.

We hit our two favorite apple trees on base this week (why are we the only ones who see them for their true and yummy potential??...not that we're complaining or anything) and the kids help me fill four big buckets with apples. We've done some really fun things with them this year. We dried a bunch (Tony's favorite), we made a bunch of apple butter (so yummy) and then last week, I did about 10 quarts of applesauce using this recipe, which is my favorite way.

But this year, I have a cool new toy. Making applesauce is pretty tedious and last year I only made abut 6 quarts using a Foley mill, and those didn't last very long. So this year, I invested in a food grinder attachment for my KitchenAid. Worth.Every.Penny. I ended up with 10 quarts in about 3 hours last Thursday. And the best part?? My dad bought my KitchenAid for me after he found out that I really wanted one, but had never bought one. He even helped me pick out the color. So every time I use it, I think of him.

I think maybe that is the best part of the gift.

Apple Butter

4 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 12 cups)
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Place apple slices into a 4 quart crock pot. Stir in sugar, water, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice ands nutmeg. Cover and cook on high setting for 5-6 hours. Stir and cool. Ladle apple butter into small canning jars, seal and label. Store in fridge for 3 weeks or freeze for up to a year.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Pretend Dead Guy

This morning, Josh and I were hanging out together on the front porch waiting for his bus. The houses on our block have taken Halloween very seriously and they are all hideously and totally decorated in spiders, ghosts, spare limbs and gravestones. But there is one house across the street that has (tastefully, might I add) decorated their home with a full-sized skeleton dressed in a black hooded cape hanging from the eaves by their front door. Seriously?? And this morning, Josh noticed.

Josh: "Hey, mom."

Me: "What, Josh."

Josh: "See that guy?"

Me: "Yeah, he's a little scary, isn't he?"

Josh: "Yep. Is he dead?"

Me: "Yes, Josh, the pretend guy is pretend dead. But he is not real, just a decoration for Halloween."

Josh: "Oh. (Long pause) Did daddy shoot him?"

With an antelope mount and two dead bears in our basement, I can see how a boy could get confused.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy (Halloween) Visiting Teaching!

One more of the feverish working-like-a-crazy-woman-who-just-got-home-from-her-dad's-funeral-and-is-trying-to-stay-busy projects I finished this week was our visiting teaching gifts for the month of October. I found lots of inspiration at my required trip to Tai Pan on our late summer visit to Utah. I LOVE that place. It was only August and the entire store front was filled with Halloween stuff...some of it extremely hokey and I'm a little picky about Halloween stuff, but I found these.

I love the vintage vibe of these little witch pictures and distressed frames. Wrapped 'em up in a little cello bag with shiny black shred and an orange ribbon. The "goo" border punch is a Martha Stewart classic. My mom and I thought it could also be used for snow or icicles if not feeling inclined towards the macabre... The poem I actually got from my dorm mom my freshman year at BYU in DT. I've never found a cuter Halloween poem. Perfect for visiting teaching.

“Since this is the time for goblins and bats,
Halloween spirits, ghosts and cats,
Weird happenings and witches brew,
These are our Halloween wishes for you:
May the only ghost that comes to stay,
Is the Holy Ghost to light your way.
May the only spirit you chance to meet
Be the spirit of love and friendship sweet.
These are our Halloween wishes for you,
And may the Lord bless you in all that you do.”

--Sister B.

Fast and cute.

Here is what I did last year for our visiting teaching gifts. One of my all-time favorites. And I've seen the boxes of test tubes at Michaels on the Martha Stewart rounder this year for about $10.

Have a fabulous Conference weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finding A New Normal & A Snake Wreath

I'm home and the minute the airplane landed, I hit the ground running. I'm figuring if I stay busy that "it" won't hurt so much. It still hurts, but I sure am getting a lot accomplished! Which, at least, is something.

My goal is that every day, I do something fun out of my "projects-to-do" pile. This is one that had Sam and I giggling yesterday after he got home from school and helped me line up all these plastic snakes to get spray painted. I got the idea from Martha Stewart's Living's October issue (I think) and haven't been able to find it anywhere on her site so I scanned in the actual picture from her magazine. Ick. Snakes.

Why didn't anybody think of this before?? Grapevine wreaths just cry out to be covered in plastic snakes. And can I just tell you how much I am loving spray paint? I don't use it often, but for this project it was perfect. And fun. So this is how my Martha inspired Halloween snake wreath turned out. I also taped up the red tongues on the snakes that had them so they would stay red. We even got it hung by the front door, all ready to greet our unsuspecting guests.

And in true Tony fashion, he walked right by it on the way into the house after work last night. Didn't notice a thing until I took him back outside to show off our handiwork.

Thank goodness it wasn't made of REAL snakes.