Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We're all jittery around here just waiting for trick or treating to begin. Last year we froze our tooshies off, so we're hoping this year is not so cold. I have already been informed that the costume I made for my son -- oh, yes, the one he's been talking about for a month -- is not going to be worn. He wants nothing to do with it. Ah, such is the disposition of a three-year-old, I guess.

I made this felt wreath for my friend in Iowa who has a birthday a couple of weeks before Halloween. Her tot is going as the UPS guy and she's a package. Why couldn't I have come up with something clever like that?!

Oh well, I am still looking forward to eating candy and carving pumpkins and taking the kiddos out and about. Yippee!

Have a spooky one!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin and Squash Seeds a la Pumpkin Girl

There's a few things I love about Fall, and one of them is being able to turn on the oven again. In fact, it's so cold now that I can't wait for an excuse to turn it on and take the chill off the house. Breads, treats, pumpkin seeds...they've all been cranking out of my kitchen lately.

Most of you probaby already know that my nickname, Pumpkin Girl, comes from the fact that growing up my family ran a small pumpkin farm. We had somewhere around an acre of pumpkins that we hauled up to our driveway every October and organized into nice piles according to size. The money we made helped both my sister and I through college. We also got pretty good at carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds. My sister definitely excels at the carving, me at the roasting.

Here's my favorite way to make pumpkin or squash seeds. First, you need to clean them up. Make sure you get all the stringy stuff off and give them a good bath. Then, set them out on some aluminum foil to dry out for a day or so. When they're ready, mix up your "secret sauce." Now that I'm revealing the secret recipe, I guess I'll have to rename the sauce. Okay, let's call it the "super sauce." This should work for a fairly well covered cookie sheet.

2 T. butter, melted in the microwave
2 T. worchestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder

Mix up your sauce and pour it over the seeds. Bake at 350 for 10 - 15 minutes. If you start to hear a popping sound coming from your oven, it's time to take the seeds out. These will keep okay in a bowl at room temperature for a few days if you don't eat them all (yeah, right). Cover them with plastic wrap.

What other treats are you enjoying this Halloween?

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Life is Scaring Me

Do you ever pretend you're someone else? Or meet someone and think, "Damn, how cool would it be to be her?" Well, I do that alot. I've been doing it for years. I envy people who do their own thing, like open up a cool business or take their family on a year-long bike adventure. I've always wished I could be a stay at home mom and really learn to excel at just raising healthy, happy kids. I pretty much envy every single woman on earth who isn't a regular ole working stiff like me.

There are so many other people I'd like to be besides myself, that sometimes I spend weeks in a fantasy world, imagining what life could be. Working in a cubicle full time isn't usually part of this daydream, so when I come to, it's a harsh reality illuminated by florescent lights that stings like a paper cut. Is it healthy? I'm not sure. Can it be helped? Probably not.

I keep telling myself how much I have to be grateful for. A hubby that stays home with the kids. A good, stable job that puts food on our table. A nice place to live. Unfortunately, that angel on my shoulder is a low talker, and the devil on the other side has a megaphone. And this devil keeps saying, "You are better than the cubicle! Break free from the cubicle!"

So what's a girl to do? Sit happily in the cubicle? Daydream to make the days go by? Or become the people I envy -- quit my day job and take my family by bicycle around the continent? Well, what would you do? What keeps you going when you wish you could trade your life for someone else's?

And now, to add levity to the conversation, let me tell you a little story. As I sat with my 3-year-old the other night, in the hour or two between when I get home from work and when they go to bed, I learned a powerful lesson. This was the conversation:
Tot Pumpkin: "Mom, here." [handing me something]
Me: "What is that?"
Tot Pumpkin: "Here, you have it."
Me: "What is it, honey?" [starting to hold out my hand]
Tot Pumpkin: [no comment]
Me: "Where did it come from?" [as he deposits thing into my hand]
Tot Pumpkin: "My nose."

Yes, I was handed a booger. To which I thought, yeah, well, sometimes life hands you boogers. And you just wash your hands and get on with it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vintage Melmac + Fabric = CUTE!

I hit upon a cute and simple project this week. Eureka! I had some vintage Melmac cups around the house from my obsessive trips to the thrift stores during my maternity leave. I decided they needed to be "upcycled" into something useful, as our house simply doesn't need any more teacups.

To make these adorable pincushions, simply cut a circle out of fabric roughly the size of a dinner plate. Sew around the outer edge of the circle to gather it up. Stuff the inside with some batting and pull your stitch tight, sewing up the hole so your batting doesn't escape. It doesn't need to be pretty because it won't show. Then get some heavy duty craft glue and paint the inside of your cup with glue. Smoosh your little puffball cushion inside and wait. I glued my adornments on, but if you wanted to sew on vintage buttons or ribbons, just do so while you still have a nice, flat round piece of fabric (before you sew around the perimeter).

I think these will make fun little throw-ins at Christmas this year. I can't wait to whip up a whole bunch for my friends and my Etsy shop! Now to find the time...!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

American Girl

My grandma Betty got me into American Girl dolls. I was never a doll kind of girl, but she loved dolls and had one that looked like each of her daughters and granddaughters. My likeness is named Lindsey, the first ever American Girl doll of the year from 2001. My grandma passed away about five years ago and I keep little Lindsey at my house now. She's got curly brown hair just like me. I think American Girl originally started in Middleton, Wisconsin, which isn't far from where I grew up.

Now my little nieces love the dolls and they each have one. So my mom and I decided to treat them to a trip to the "big city" of Chicago to American Girl Place for a little shopping and tea. It was a blast. Of course the weather in the windy city was, well, windy, but other than that we had a great time.

My own little sweetie isn't quite big enough for dolls yet, but I was really tempted to get a little Bitty Twin for her. But, I think I got swept up in the moment so I just decided to try to be rational (does a three-month-old really need a doll?) and came home empty handed. Even though I wasn't a doll person as a kid, I couldn't help but be impressed by the quality, detail and historical accuracy of these doll's accessories and the stories they tell about their lives.

I really did get caught up in the excitement about these dolls, so I went searching for knitting patterns for making American Girl clothes and accessories. I found quite a few really cute ones. I mean, how long can it possibly take to knit mittens for someone who's only 18 inches tall? I figure I can crank a few of these out for Christmas no problem. And that's just my kind of project!

I'm listing links here to the patterns I thought were the nicest. This list ranges from outfits to hats to socks and mittens to underpants. Have fun!

Summer Fun Ensemble
Empire Waist Dress
Cardigan and Pullover Sweaters
Boxy Cardigan
Faux Fur Coat and Hat
Tiny Socks
Mary Jane shoes
Fancy Panties