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brown paper packages: October 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

{friday favorites...halloween dinner}

Halloween night is one of the most fun of the year! Dressing up, going door-to-door, enjoying the nighttime air, seeing friends and family--it's enjoyed by children and adults alike at our house.

In anticipation of all.that.candy, I like to serve a yummy, filling dinner that's also festive, fun, and kid-friendly. It's usually a chilly night here, so something warm always sounds good, but these recipes are yummy no matter where you live.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas: (click on title for recipe)

Scary Shepherd's Pie


Spooky Eyeball Tacos


Mummy Face Pizzas


Bats & Cobwebs Pasta


Ghost of Monte Cristo Sandwiches


Grilled Cheese Sand-Witches


Chicken Stew in a Bread Bowl



I can't wait to try those grilled cheese sand-witches--what a perfect Halloween lunch! I have to admit though, my favorite Halloween dinner is soup in a bread bowl, and the Chicken Stew is calling my name!

Happy Haunting!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

{monster mash}

Need a Halloween "something" to give to a teacher, neighbor, or friend? How about some Monster Mash? I made these for a few girls that I visit each month, and I love how yummy, fast, and easy it came together.

Monster Mash
  • Equal parts candy corn, honey roasted peanuts, and Reeses' Pieces.
  • I used the boo printable from TomKat Studio, inserted it into a Word document, then re-sized it, printed it, and cut it out. I used my 2 inch circle punch to cut out black scrapbook paper, and mounted the monster tag using double stick tape. Punch a hole in the tag, thread your ribbon through, tie it on, and you're ready!

I also think this would be a yummy addition to any party--


Monday, October 25, 2010

{you've been boo'ed!}

***Don't forget to enter our two giveaways, LESLIE GRAFF, and MAKIA CREATIONS!***


The tradition of "boo-ing" your neighbors is a favorite at our house. There is just something so fun about sneaking around in the dark, leaving yummy treats to be discovered and passing the adventure along.

For family night tonight, we made and decorating sugar cookies, put them on darling black and cream polka dot plates (Target), and tied on cute little tags (made from the download shown below).

I found the most adorable sign and poem to go along with each plate, and I'm excited to share them with you, along with two others. I had a hard time deciding which one to use! Each download comes with both documents (sign and poem). The best part? They are FREE!


anna and blue paperie



The TomKat Studio



Anders Ruff Design



Happy Boo-ing!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

{free canvas!]

***Don't forget to enter the Leslie Graff giveaway, HERE!!***

We just had our family pictures taken last week, so when I saw an offer for a FREE 8x10 canvas (a $55 value) from Canvas People, I knew I had to take advantage of it.

I just got my pictures back, so I should be ordering mine this week. I love what Shelley, over at HowDoesShe? did with hers...

Want something a little bigger? It's only $9.99 to upgrade to an 11x14--what a fabulous deal!! They are also offering 50% for additional canvases, so if you want to create a grouping like the one above, this is your chance! I actually have the perfect wall in my house, and now I'm just trying to decide whether to do them in color, or b&w. :)

With the holidays approaching, this would be a perfect gift--grandparents, for your husband's office, sisters, brothers, anyone! Head on over to Canvas People today!


Friday, October 22, 2010

{friday books!}

Over the past few years, over 140 children's books have been delivered to our home--and they were all free! Each month, my four youngest kids receive their very own book in the mail, specifically for their age group. It's something they look forward to, and it's an exciting day when we check the mail and find books inside. From birth to age 5, this monthly book will continue coming to our home.

It's all possible thanks to Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and our local community, and it might be available in your community as well. It's definitely worth checking out! Click HERE to go to the Imagination Library site, where in the top left hand corner ("find your affiliate"), you can put in your zip code to see if it's available in your area. If it's not, it they list the steps to take to begin that process.


Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

{"nest" pillow}

A couple months ago, I was shopping at the Pottery Barn Outlet with a friend, and came across the PERFECT pillow for my guest room. I would have bought it in a heartbeat, except it came with a $40 price tag, and I just couldn't bring myself to pay that much for one pillow.

So, when I came across this version at Sew Unique Boutique of that very same pillow, I was thrilled! I can't wait to make my own! And can I just say that I love that she used a Sharpie marker?


Monday, October 18, 2010

{"go team!" bunting}

Well, I've now combined sports with crafting. My husband is so excited. :)

We love football at our house. (Okay, so we love basketball, too.) Nothing beats a great game day, with food, football, and friends. We've all seen so many cute bunting variations, but I thought it would really fun to have one for our favorite teams. Just one more great way to celebrate a big game!

You're not limited to colleges, though. What about your kids' high school or middle school? If you have a child that participates in a sport or other activity, this would be a really fun way to support them on their big day. What about a national team? My next one will be black and gold...Go, Steelers!

This method is super easy, and doesn't require a sewing machine, although you could sew it if you wanted to. I apologize I have no pictures of the process--my camera battery died just as I was working on it. I love using felt for buntings--it's so easy to work with, holds it's shape, and the iron-on adhesive works really well. It would also be fun to mix in felt with fabrics, or you could even use scrapbook paper. If you could find these textiles with your specific school on them, you could implement them as well.

"Go Team!" Bunting

  • felt
  • iron on adhesive
  • grosgrain ribbon, 7/8 inch
  • fabric strips, or ribbon

1. Cut your bunting triangles out of desired felt. I used felt rectangles that I bought at JoAnn's for .29, and got 2 triangles from each piece. I folded the rectangle in half, marked lines in white pencil, and then was able to cut two out at a time.

2. Print out desired text, making sure each letter will fit on the triangles, then cut them out. Following the directions, apply the iron on adhesive to the felt you are using for your letters. Trace (backwards!) your letters on to the paper backing, using the stencils you cut out. Cut out each letter, peel off the paper, then iron on to the center of your felt triangles. All of these steps will be outlined in the directions the brand you choose (heat 'n bond, wonder under).

3. Measure out how much ribbon you will need for your mantel, making sure to consider the bow, knot, etc., on the ends. Fold it in half, and make small mark with a chalk, so you'll remember the mid-point.

4. For this next part, I highly suggest using a rolled iron on adhesive. I purchased a roll of Heat 'n Bond, that was 3/8 inch thick, and perfect for applying to ribbon, or other areas where I needed a straight line. Following the package directions, you'll apply a strip of adhesive to the FRONT TOP of each triangle. Trim the ends. Remove the paper, then iron your ribbon on to the top of each triangle, forming your text. Leave a small space between each triangle, so you can add any desired ribbon or fabric.

5. Tie on your fabric strips, or ribbon.


Go, team!


Friday, October 15, 2010

{friday favorites}

The fall is the perfect time for some of my favorite foods, and I thought I would pass them along to you! Soups, breads, cakes, yummy drinks--it's cozy food for the season.


One of my favorite things throughout the fall and winter is wassail, or hot apple cider. I love to have it simmering on the stove or crockpot all day, so not only can I enjoy the taste, but the fabulous smell as it wafts through my house. When I was trying to find the perfect recipe for me, I really wanted one with pineapple juice in it, so when I found this one on allrecipes, I couldn't wait to try it. It surpassed my expectations, and now it's a staple!

Autumn Punch

12 c. apple juice
4 1/2 c. pineapple juice
6 T. lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 oranges
24 whole cloves

Combine first 6 ingredients in crock pot. Slice oranges into thick slices, and poke 4 cloves into the rind of each slice. Float them on top, then place cover on crock pot. Warm through on medium-low heat, then simmer for as long as you like!!


I love yummy soups, so when I find one that's actually good for you--low in fat and calories--then it's just the proverbial icing on the cake. This recipe is originally from the Lion House Light cookbook.

Chicken Corn Chowder

2 slices bacon
1/4 c. chopped onions
3 T. water
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 package (10 oz.) frozen corn
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 T. flour
2 c. skim milk
2 c. cooked chicken or turkey (light meat), chopped

Cook bacon till crisp in a large heavy saucepan. Drain bacon, wiping drippings from saucepan with a paper towel. Crumble bacon and set aside.
In same saucepan, cook onions in 3 T. water until tender. Add chicken broth, frozen corn, potatoes, celery, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and summer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir flour into milk until smooth. Pour into vegetable mixture and cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Add chopped chicken or turkey and stir over heat 2-3 minutes more, until heated through. Top with crumbled bacon. Makes 6 servings.


Total fat: 3 g (11% of calories)
Protein: 28 g (48% of calories)
Carbohydrates: 24 g (41% of calories)
Cholesterol: 50 mg
Sodium: 515 mg


Can I tell you how much I love cilantro? I always have some on hand, and I try to use it as often as I can. When a friend shared this recipe with me, it was love at first taste. The homemade tortilla strips (TOTALLY WORTH IT...and they don't really take that long to make) and cilantro are what really make this dish. It is delicious, and easy in the crockpot.

Tortilla Soup with Cilantro

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts cubed (I just stick them in frozen and shred them later)
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can petite diced tomatoes or 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 mild green chile, seeded and chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons, vegetable oil
4 corn tortillas, halved and cut into 1/4 inch strips (let me be honest, this is NEVER enough you will want at least 8 tortillas)
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Monetery Jack cheese

Combine chicken, onion, garlic, tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, green chile, and black beans in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours Heat oil in a large skillet and add tortilla strips. Cook, stirring over medium heat until crisp and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I like Pepper Jack) in the bottom of each bowl. Spoon tortilla soup into bowls and top with tortilla strips and sprinkle with cilantro.


I got this recipe years ago from Miss Char, over at Crap I've Made, and I've loved it ever since. It really is the epitome of fall...

Cinnamon Swirl Cake

3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. milk
1 cube melted butter
1 cube melted butter (yes, 2 total!)
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 T. flour
1 T. cinnamon

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, vanilla, milk, and melted butter, and mix well. The batter will be on the thick side. Spoon into a sugared (sprayed with cooking spray, and coated with sugar) bundt pan. Melt the second cube of butter, then stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Pour on top of the cake, and with a butter knife, swirl it through the cake. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Prepare the buttercream icing, then melt it in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until you can pour it over the cake. **The original recipe calls for using a 9x13 pan--bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

8 T. butter, room temperature
3 3/4 c. powdered sugar
3-4 T. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Place the powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, and 3 T of milk. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated, then add the vanilla and cinnamon. Increase the speed to medium, and beat until fluffy. Add more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.


Just one word. Fabulous.

Overnight French Toast

1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c. water
1 c. butter
3 T. light corn syrup
12 slices bread
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
6 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Combine sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup in small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.
2. Pour syrup mixture into 9x13x2 baking pan.
3. Place 6 slices of bread on top of syrup mixture, and top with remaining 6 slices of bread.
4. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt, stirring until blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread slices.
5. Cover and chill 8 hours (or overnight).
6. Bake uncovered at 350 degress, for 40-50 minutes, or until lightly browned.

*Dutch oven directions: Either line bottom of Dutch oven with aluminum foil, or use a baking dish that will fit on a rack inside Dutch oven. Cover an area underneath the Dutch oven with approx. 12-15 coals, place 10-12 coals on top of the lid. Check for done-ness after about 30 minutes.


Just for fun, you have to check out these adorable Oreo Pumpkins by Oopsey Daisy. SO cute!

Happy Friday, everyone!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

{2x4 candy corn}

Okay, I'm seriously out of control with the 2x4's!!! There are just so many fun things you can do with wood, and it's so inexpensive that it's even more irresistible. We have a ton of scrap wood down in our basement, and after seeing some candy corn (and eating a few, too) I was inspired to make one for my front porch.

I almost used paint (which you most certainly could do), but when I saw the yellow polka dot paper, I knew I wanted to use it. I love the plain papers on the top and the bottom, with the pattern in the middle. And yes, I do realize that I mixed up the yellow and orange! :) By the time I realized it, everything was already mod podged on, and I didn't want to change it. Good thing it's still cute! This is SUPER easy, and won't take long at all. You can make these in any size you like, depending on where you want to put it. It would be fun to make several different sizes, and mix up the papers.

2x4 Candy Corn

  • 2x4 wood
  • scrapbook paper
  • mod podge & foam brush
  • distress ink
  • sandpaper, or power sander
  • twine

1. Cut your wood to the desired size. Mine are 6 inches, 5 inches, and 4 inches. You don't want to make the difference more than an inch--I've tried it. :)

2. Sand all the rough edges of your wood, removing all splinters, and rounding the edges slightly.

3. Cut your scrapbook paper to fit the front edges of the wood, then distress the edges of the paper.

4. Apply some mod podge to the wood first, then carefully press on your paper. Add another layer of mod podge on top of the paper, and let dry completely.

5. You can glue the pieces together, if desired. Gorilla Glue, E6000, or wood glue would all work well. Tie with twine, and display!


Don't be surprised when I'm back with more 2x4 decor...there are more holidays coming, and I've got a list of ideas!


Monday, October 11, 2010

{monogrammed pumpkins}

I really wanted to be able to do something cute with the pumpkins my kids picked, and be able to carve them. The solution? A super fun monogram on one side, and and another side all ready for carving! Then even their carved pumpkin will be personalized, just for them.

This is an easy, fast project, and looks darling on the front porch!

Monogrammed Pumpkins

  • pumpkins
  • scrapbook paper
  • mod podge and foam brush
  • twine, or ribbon

1. Clean your pumpkins well, then dry completely.
2. Print and cut your desired letters. Trace them backwards onto your choice of scrapbook paper, then cut them out.
3. Apply some mod podge directly onto the pumpkin, where you want your letter to be. Carefully place your letter onto the pumpkin, and press carefully with your fingers. If you have a curvier letter (like an e) this will be especially important. Then take your foam brush, and apply even more mod podge over the top of the letter to seal. Let dry completely.
4. Tie on your twine or ribbon!

TIP: Save your stencils!! If you're using your children's initials, odds are that you will want to use them again. I keep all my used paper stencils in a folder, and I have re-used most of them--sometimes more than once!


Love the apple crates? I purchased them from the cider mill we go to, for only $3. They sell their imperfect crates to anyone who asks, and will even save them for you if you call ahead. If you have a cider mill in your area, it's worth a call!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

{100 days of Holidays}

If you haven't had a chance to check out the 100 Days of Holidays at, you need to head on over there now!

Each day they are featuring a slide show of different holiday crafts, food, decorating, parties, costumes, and more! You can even sign up to receive their newsletter via e-mail, so it's delivered right to your inbox.

I am thrilled to be one of their Crafty Contributors this year, and you can find my Trick-or-Treat Buckets featured HERE.


When I was browsing through the featured Halloween invitations, I fell in love with this darling bat invitation. It is simple, but maybe one of the cutest I've ever seen. I am crazy about ribbon, so maybe that has something to do with it. :)


Go check out the 100 Days of Holidays today!


Friday, October 8, 2010

{peanut & chocolate chex bars}


My little 4 year old was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, which means she has a gluten intolerance, and can't eat wheat, rye, or barley. Since then, I've been on the hunt for yummy gluten-free treats that the whole family will enjoy.

I struck gold a few days ago, when I came across a recipe from Chex. Amazingly, all of Chex cereals (except Wheat Chex) don't contain gluten, which is exciting for me.

After making these fabulous treats, (and consuming them in a very short period of time), I had to pass along this recipe to you. They are SO SO yummy! You don't have to have any dietary restrictions to enjoy these---they are delicious for everyone!

We will definitely be making these again. Oh, and instead of using M&Ms, I'm going to try adding Reeses Pieces instead, for a fun fall treat. I'm thinking preschool snack...

Click HERE for the recipe!