Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fun with Halloween Food!

I was asked to help with a Halloween Party for our 4-H club youth.  I was to prepare a fun dinner for them to enjoy after they helped with the Community Halloween Party. After looking through a couple Halloween cookbooks, and a few websites, I found some fun ideas, to which I adapted some of them. The evening turned out great and everyone had a good time.

Appetizer  - this was basically a veggie tray, but with a few alterations. The broccoli was called "witches warts". The celery, I cut into wide sticks and then cut out an oval in the middle so it looked like 2 bones connected at the top and bottom. These were "moldy bones". And then the carrots, with the help of a paring knife, I notched 2 or 3 times at one end of a baby carrot and then sliced back into the other end of the carrot and inserted an almond sliver. This made "monster toes". This was all on the veggie try with a cauldron of "pus" as the veggie dip.

Then the Boogers on a stick or chip.
recipe: 1 jar cheese dip, 1# hamburger, 1 tsp oregano,  tsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce green food coloring.
Brown burger and drain. Then combine all ingredients and melt together. (I used a small crook pot and it worked great) Once everything is melted together into a nice chip dip, add the green food coloring until the shade you would like. Serve with pretzel rods or nacho chips.

Just a few boogers in my crook pot
This was fun, people truly turned green just looking at this item.

Then there was the Stromboli, that I made look like a mummy by putting cuts into the dough and then added fake flies and spiders crawling out of it.

And finally the eyeballs. These were simple and easy, but a lot of fun. Take mini powdered donuts, lay flat. Using red icing, added the red streaks for the blood shot eyes. Then simply place a pretzel M&M (with the m down) in the center on some icing to hold in place. These were well liked and looked cool too.
You never know how is watching you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

It is that time again and our church 's elementary youth group, Kids Klub, is collecting filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Kids Klub's goal is 200 boxes this year. This is a great way for kids to get involved in missions and sharing God's love. All it takes is a little bit of time, a shoebox and fun stuff for kids as small Christmas gifts. We have packed shoe boxes for several years now and the boys love every minute of it. From doing the shopping to packing the boxes, kids helping kids - they really get into it. But the kids aren't the only ones who can pack a shoebox, just adopt 1 shoebox and see how much you can get into a shoebox for a child somewhere less fortunate than us. Join us!!

Knox United Methodist Church deadline is November 6, with them being delivered to the drop off location in Clarion the week of November 13-19

For more information on Operation Christmas Child click here

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Salem Halloween Party

For those who are local, there is a Halloween Party for the Salem Community on Saturday night at the Community Building from 7-8 pm. There will be a judging of costumes, and games and light refreshments! Please plan to bring your kids and have a great time together in a safe way!

Northern Lights

The night before last, I had a phone call around 9:15- "Go outside and look at the sky!" When I went out of the porch, I saw the most beautiful red in the night sky that I had ever seen. I ran back inside and got Gary and Robert up to come see this awesome display of the Northern Lights that I had ever seen!! EVER!!!!! It lasted about 15 minutes and then faded away, but what a way to remember that God is in control and he is still doing amazing things everyday, if we only take time to look for it! Boy am I glad for that phone call, or I would have missed it! We have an awesome God!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Luscious 4 Layer Pumpkin Cake

This is a recipe I saw in the Kraft Foods magazine. I thought it sounded delicious, so we had to find out. not only was it delicious but it was also easy to make. We tried it and then Robert decided that I needed to make it for a fundraiser auction at the church. Several people have asked for the recipe, so here it is if you were one of the ones that wanted this recipe!

1 package yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 -8oz. package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8oz tub whipped cream, thawed
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Beat cake mix, 1 cup pumpkin, milk, oil, eggs and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch round pans.
Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely.
Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar, remaining pumpkin and spic; mix well; gently stir in whipped cream. Cut each cake layer horizontally in half with serrated knife; stack on serving plate, spread cream cheese filling between layers. Do not frost top layer. Drizzle caramel topping just before serving and top with nuts. Refrigerate leftovers.

*Found at

We found that this was a great tasting cake, but it will be reserved for special occasions as it is a big cake.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Autumn wreath

As I pulled out our Autumn decorations, I found a really cute wreath that Garrett and I made a few years ago and it was so simple that I thought I would share how to make them.

For the base, I took an ice cream bucket lid and cut the center out of the lid so that I had a circle wreath base of about 2 inches.  We then went for a walk and Garrett and I found a large handful of small sticks in all different lengths and a few pine cones. When we came back from our walk, I plugged in the glue gun. With Garrett laying each stick on top of the line of hot glue, we put the sticks all the way around the bucket lid wreath form. We added a piece of ribbon for the hanger and then found some leftover silk flowers to cover up our form. We worked on patterns with this part as we put a flower and then a small light weight pine cone and then repeated this pattern.  Once the glue dried, we were all set and I have a new wreath for fall at my house, that we have used for at least 2 years now. But what a neat way to bring the outdoors in and a simple and cheap decoration.

2 Halloween Wallhangings done!

I finally finished my 2 wallhangings for Halloween. I don't like to eat candy corn, but these guys turned out really cute! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cleaning out the extras!!!

It is the time of year, when things are somewhat slowing down and I have time to clean my house, or maybe clean out my house, Every fall, I have started going through different places in my house and eliminating things that I haven't used in a WHILE.  But what I have found that helps, so that it isn't just me eliminating things, is the garbage can that I have placed in our upstairs hallway. This is the place for things that are too small or don't fit. IT is for toys that the boys have decided that they have outgrown playing with. It is our Goodwill can. Now the things in it don't always end up at Goodwill. It has been emptied to our church's rummage sale and this month it will be going to the Venango County 4-H Trash to Treasure Sale (October 28 & 29 and Nov 4&5)  I have also started a box downstairs that I am filling up with things like the bulletin board that is too small anymore. Or the cup dispenser that we never use. Any time I find something that we haven't used, I just simply drop it into the box or can and then I know when I am making a trip to donate stuff that they are all but ready. Just pack up and go.

So to help with the fall cleaning before the holidays. start a drop it in box or can or bag and let the whole family know what it is for!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Recycled Jar Pumpkins

I am always looking for fun things to do and this is one that I did when Robert was a baby, but I stumbled on a whole box of these. Take an empty, clean baby food jar, spray paint the outside with orange spray paint and let dry. Once dry, take a fine black paint brush and black acrylic paint and add the faces for a jack o latern. Add some green raffia and a tea candle or a LED candle and you have a cute little pumpkin. These are great for each person coming to dinner sometime or for just on the mantel at this time of year.

The recycled baby food jars are on the ends and the stained glass pumpkin in the middle
Now the reason I stumbled on the box of recycled baby food jars, because I am working on table decorations for a fundraising dinner at our church for the Kids Klub this coming Sunday, Oct 23 at 12:30. For the dinner I took this idea and changed it a little bit, but not much. I took ivy bowls and used orange stain glass paint. I painted the inside of the ivy bowl and let it dry. Then once dry, I added the green raffia tied near the top and I will put in the LED tea candles. This was really an easy way to make centerpieces. With a few leaves scattered on the tables, it should look nice and not be too full for the table.

But either way this is a great way to use or reuse unwanted glass jars and containers.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fire Safety Month!!

This is fire safety week at our school, but Fire Safety is the focus of the whole month. This is a great time to revisit some of those very important life saving lessons and drills.

Maybe if you can find 30 minutes with your family take time to do the following

- make an escape plan for each person from different rooms
- Select a family meeting place outside of the home in a safe place to meet
- PRACTICE the escape plan and meeting place
- TRY to practice a night time drill! See if your children will get up to the fire alarm
- Replace the batteries in the fire alarms regards less if they still have charge
- Have a list of emergency numbers by your home phone and programed into your cell phone
- Practice with the kids dialing 911 (on a play phone) and what they need to be able to tell the dispatcher

Remember to discuss Stop, drop & roll

Discuss get out and stay out when there is a fire.

Please take just a little bit of time to practice and discuss with your family to protect them!

If you live in the area,
the Fire Safety Night at Cranberry Mall is tonight Oct 14 from 6-8 Go and let your kids enjoy the fire trucks and bright lights, but let them be reminded of safety rules!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Robert's 4-H successes

Robert receiving one of his awards
Robert with his awards
 Last week at the 4-H Leadership dinner, there were project book awards awarded. Robert had done really well on his books this year, but I guess I didn't know how well. He received the award for his Goat project, and his Swine Project and then he was overall winner from the animal science areas. He also received the Family Living award, which was for his genealogy project year 2. So he was thrilled with 4 awards for just filling in his project books well and completely. Once again he has done well and I'm proud of his accomplishments!
Kay and Gary

Gary also received the Outstanding Leader award this year along with a friend, Kay. Congrats!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tomato Picking!

Okay this is one of those things that I kind of skipped over in the craziness of the summer. But the week before school started, Robert & Garrett and I made a quick trip to Lancaster County, PA My best friend's parents plant and harvest tomatoes commercially for a PA tomato packing/processing company. Well the tomatoes were ready and I loaded up the boys and took off so they could see the large equipment that is used for picking tomatoes. Robert was just tall enough that he was actually allowed to ride the tomato picker and try picking himself.
Robert sorting good tomatoes from bad tomatoes on the tomatoe picker

Garrett and Abby played on the back of the pick-up with ME!

Robert with the tomato picker

The tractor on the left is pulling the tomato picker while the tractor on the right is catching the tomatoes as the fall into the dump wagon that it is pulling.
 After the 1st tractor trailer was filled, he was looking a little green. There are many moving parts on the picker itself plus there are extra wagons and tracotrs moving around. Well, needless to say all of the stuff moving gave him a taste of motion sickness. But I just wanted to share what the tomatoe picker looked like and how it moved through the fields. Unfortunaely, with the flooding rains that followed a ew weeks later, I don't know if the farmers were able to get all of the tomaotes harvested or not this year, but it certainly wasn't looking real good.

For those that are curious how this works, there is a large cutting head to the far side of the tomato picker that cuts off the plant and a conveyor belt carries the plant and all up into the picker. At the back of the picker the plants are shook and the tomatoes move to a different conveyor belt moving to the other side of the picker and the plants are dropped out the back. The tomatoes are then moved to yet another wide belt, where they move in front of the sorters. These are the people riding the tomato picker and they are sorting out the good and the bad tomatoes. The bad ones get dropped back into the field while the good ones continue to ride the conveyor belt and are dropped onto the conveyor belt that goes up the shot to the dump wagon that is being pulled thruogh the field beside the picker. Here is a short video clip that you can see some of the action, but there really wasn't a good safe place to be able to see everything that was happening.
Thanks for letting us come visit!!!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chance for a years subscription to Highlights or High Five!!!

If you get a chance stop over to and read her post for "Magazine Hunt". She has great ideas on how to better use resources and in this post how to stretch the learning possibilities of a magazine, but at the bottom, she has if you leave a comment you could win 1 of 5 - 1 year magazine subscriptions!!! So take a few minutes and maybe you could win a great magazine for your home!!!

Fun Spelling Words

As a parent, I know that the words "Spelling Words" can be like nails on the chalkboard to some. But here are a few things that we have done to make spelling words fun, interactive and maybe different each day Here are some ways and things we have done!
Monday - We have wrote our words on paper (I know boring, but at least then I had a copy at home to use)
Tuesday - We wrote on the windows with Crayola Window crayons or markers (fun things!) or used refrigerator letters for each word
Wednesday - we would take a test on the computer (I would say the word and then wait forever for Robert to find all the letters on the keyboard any of the ones he missed he would type them a few more times)
Thursday (big day before test night) depending on how he was doing we might write them in shaving cream on a tray; write them on a dry erase lap board; use letter tiles and arrange them like in Scrabble or go outside and spell them out loud but maybe walk up a step for each letter.

I have also seen spelling words in sand (just use your finger or it might be mud around here right now) or use sidewalk chalk and write them outside as big as possible.

But my creative spelling words have been sidelined for now as Robert is learning to study on his own and Garrett doesn't have spelling words just yet. So I hope these ideas help someone who is tired of spelling words the same way for the past 5 weeks and is looking for a new twist on spelling words - if nothing else for Mom's sanity!!!

Apple Cider making Night

Nothing tastes better at this time of year than a hot mug of apple cider, fresh from the press. On Friday night we had the chance! My parents have the cider press and both my parents and us had apples. We only had about 5 or 6, 5 gallon buckets of apples but ended up with over 9 gallons of cider.
Our starting bucket of apples

An Apple in the grinder part of the press.
Chop, chop

Garrett cranking the grinder

Andrew cranking the grinder

Now it was Robert's turn

After sliding the tub forward, the boys start cranking down the press

Fresh Cider -YUM!!!
Once the cider is made, we strain it to make sure there aren't any particles from the stems or cores, but each batch of apples taste different. The first batch was very tart the other night and the second batch was really mild, but not super sweet. So we mixed them together for a nice mixture of flavors! Thanks Nanny & Papa for letting us use the cider press again this year!!!