October 31, 2015

Halloween Decor and Sweet Table

I absolutely love Halloween. It brings me back to great childhood memories of fun costumes, parties, trick or treating with my brother and sister, watching scary movies, counting candy and eating tons of chocolate.

So, not much has changed. This year I decorated the house with classic Halloween colors, of orange, white, and black, with spooky little crafts I made and picked up along the years.

We had triple chocolate and oreo monster cupcakes, peanut butter cookies, chocolates, and many more.

I used a vintage vampire mug to hold some pretty carnations.

This cute Addam's family inspired hand is a candle holder from Target. It was only five dollars, so I had to grab it, plus I like spooky things like this, so it's going to be used all year round. The skull is one of my handpainted creations for Day of the Dead. It is available on my Etsy shop.

The table's backdrop were flying bats that I made with black cardstock and taped to the wall. My bat backdrop how to is available here.

And my handmade Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Pinata was at the center of the entire table. Here is a tutorial on how to make your very own pumpkin pinata.

And I had these awesome ceramic jack-o-lanterns filled with candies and skull chocolate pops with bags of popcorn for our Halloween movie marathon, that I picked up from Pottery Barn.

I hope you had a lovely Halloween with plenty of sweet treats, and a few fun scares!! Now, off to plan for Day of the Dead!

October 27, 2015

Health Literacy Month - Heather Von St. James - Mesothelioma Survivor

October is Health Literacy Month and today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  Heather Von St. James was only 36 years old and just had a sweet baby girl, Lily Rose, with her husband, Cameron, when she found out that she had only 15 months to live. She was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. Heather's cancer affected her lung's protective lining in the chest.

This type of cancer is more common in men over 60, so how did Heather get this? Mesothelioma in women and children has been attributed to secondhand exposure to asbestos. Heather's dad was a construction worker at a large construction and project management firm and would come home with "white dust" on his clothes and boots. At that time no one thought anything of it, and it turned out to be asbestos dust that she was exposed to. (Mesothelioma)

Every year around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, though there has been a small amount of cases without exposure. And sadly, on average, they are only given 10 months to live.

When you think of asbestos you think of old buildings, something that used to happen (it was commonly used between 1930-1950), and something that can't possibly be around anymore, but unfortunately, asbestos is not banned in the U.S and still can be found. For example, building materials between the 1940s and 1980s had asbestos. It was used then because it was durable and fire resistant.

Take a look at a quick fact infographic I created explaining the truth about asbestos and mesothelioma

In the 1970s, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were created to limit exposures to asbestos. In 1989, the EPA issued a Phase Out Rule, and banned most asbestos-containing products under the Toxic Substances Control Act, but frustratingly and maddening that rule was overturned in 1991 in the landmark lawsuit Corrosion Proof Fittings v. the Environmental Protection Agency. (OpenJurist)

And today, about 30 million pounds are still used every year in the U.S. Additionally, asbestos can still be found in homes, schools, and buildings. And asbestos was once used in making household consumer items, such as toasters and hairdryers, and sadly these could still be in use by people. Even a little exposure to asbestos is unsafe. Today, various products are still being made with asbestos, and we don't even know about it. A few products still being made with asbestos are: car brake pads, welder's blankets, aprons, roofing products, and chlorine. Some progress is being made, in 2010 Washington passed a law that all brake pads and shoes are required to be asbestos free by January 2015. (ECY)

Today, Heather is a nine year mesothelioma cancer survivor. I highly recommend visiting her blog and reading more about her story and what she is doing to bring awareness to this deadly disease that can be prevented. I also recommend watching her story.

October 25, 2015

Bat Backdrop

I can't believe Halloween is in just a few days. I got to work this past weekend decorating the house with some fun Halloween finds and crafts I have been making, like this Pumpkin Pinata. This year I opted for a classic Halloween theme of orange, black and white. And I wanted lots of bats too. So this weekend I got to work on a fun Halloween themed backdrop to my dinning room table. I made flying bats. 

I used my trusty Cricut machine to cut out a variety of sizes of bats. But if you don't have a Cricut machine, you can simply find a bat template online, print it, cut it out and use it to trace around on black paper.

I folded the center of the bat, so that I could tape just one wing on the wall and that would give them an appearance like they were coming off the wall. You can also tie the center with a string and hang them around the ceiling.

I also added a few around the house in different areas, like mirrors, kitchen cabinets, and other unexpected places to give the whole house a fun Halloween batty feeling.  Another cute idea is to have the bats hold something, as if they are flying with letters like a Halloween banner. The possibilities are endless. 

I hope you like this little craft. Enjoy! 

October 20, 2015

Pumpkin Pinata

Everytime I make a pinata I swear it is my new favorite.  I have a little place in my heart for each one. My first pinata was the Donkey, then I made a cactus pinata, Snoopy pinata,  a series of retro inspired pinatas - soda pop, burger and fries, and last, but not least, my Day of the Dead Sugar Skull pinata.

But really, this time this is it, this pinata is my favorite. He is just so cute with those two missing teeth and cute little green stem. He isn't perfectly round either, and it just adds to his cute little quirky self. He is going to be the perfect centerpiece to my Halloween table this year. He measures about 2 feet long and 3 feet wide. These would also be very cute as mini pumpkin pinatas filled with candies. 

So how do you make this cutie? All you need is:
  • Large box of cardboard
  • Tape (packing tape or duck tape)
  • Glue
  • Streamer paper
  • Construction paper

Two get started, find a large cardboard box, flatten it completely. Next, draw out the pumpkin shape with a marker. Next cutout the shape to make two identical pumpkin shapes. It is important that they are identical. 

Next, cut out long pieces of cardboard, all of these pieces must be the same width, this will be the width and sides of your pumpkin. Tape these cardboard strips all along the two identical pumpkin cardboard cutouts. Here is a video of my creating a skull pinata, it will show you how to tape the two pieces together. 

Using orange streamer paper cut small slits on the bottom side. I usually roll a bunch together and cut the little slits, this saves a lot of time. I then glue the strips starting at the bottom until you go all the way to the top. I then added little green streamer for the top stem.

Next, using black construction paper cut out two large triangles for the eyes and one small triangle for the nose. I then cut out a smile (half circle) and then cut out one tooth on top and one for the bottom.

He makes a perfect pinata for a party to fill with candy, but as usual, I don't have the heart to break him open, so he is going to stay a little pumpkin forever with me.  Enjoy!!

October 14, 2015

Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

So as you may have already noticed, pumpkin is everywhere, from pumpkin coffee to pumpkin muffins, so I just had to get in on the craze and make pumpkin pancakes, because I have just tried about every pancake there is to make, from lemon-poppyseed to peach pumpkins.

These came out delicious and are natural, so no artificial coloring to get my pumpkin pancakes orange. I only used 8 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, but if you like pumpkin, I recommend adding a lot more.

All you need to make pumpkin pancakes are:
  • 1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup of milk  (I used non-fat organic milk)
  • 8 tablespoons canned organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (or olive oil, I can say I did it both ways and they both tasted exactly the same)
  • 1 egg (I used egg white)
  • Cup of chocolate chips (or more)
Makes about 8 pancakes. Feed 2-3 people.

No artificial ingredients here, these pumpkin pancakes are all natural. I got this organic pumpkin can at my local market.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg. Fold mixture into dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips.

Grease your skillet and heat over medium heat pour the batter for each pancake. Flip to the other side once you see bubbles form.

Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. Serve with your favorite syrup.

October 4, 2015

Baked Apple Pie with Leaf Crust Cutouts

I received an abundance of my favorite apples, Macintosh, from my sister. They are so small, yet so sweet. When you have that many apples you either can eat one each day (and keep the doctor away), make apple sauce, maybe some apple juice, or you make apple pie. The decision was easy. I had some vanilla ice cream in the freezer and got to work on an apple pie.

All you need is:
  • About 6 cups of peeled and chopped apples (or more depending on the size of apples or what you prefer)
  • 1/2 a cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (don't be shy)
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg or allspice
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • Oven at 425 degrees
  • Pie crust (You can make your own or a store bought crust)
  • Pie dish

Peel and cut about 8 apples (6 cups) and add to a large bowl. Next, add the 1/2 cup of sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/8 of teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix all the ingredients together.

Put the apple mixture in the pie dish (which should have the rolled out pie dough at the bottom).

Roll out the pie dough and place it on some parchment paper, next use a cookie cutter to cut out the shapes and place them on top of the pie. 

I overlapped the leaf cutouts and make sure you leave some openings to let the pie vent while baking.

Next put the pie in oven for 45 minutes at 425 degrees. One thing I forgot to do was wrapped the edges with foil so they don't burn. Mine got crispy, but I like a crispy crust.

Wait for the pie to cool down a little bit before serving (25 minutes). If you cut it too soon, it will be one soupy apple mess, but if you wait to cut each slice will hold much better together. 

Once you serve a slice, scoop a ball of vanilla ice cream on top and enjoy!